• Week 12 bullet points for RBs

    Our bullet points articles are written to help better highlight our weekly rankings and explain our rationale behind ranking certain guys in certain places.

    Week 12 is a gut check week for all fantasy teams. If you plan on advancing to the playoffs, you likely need a win this week. Just remember, running backs are often the most consistent fantasy scorers and will likely make the difference in a win or loss. Here are some running back rankings explained further.

    Key start this week

    Justin Forsett @ New Orleans  — #4 in weekly rankings

    Who called a castoff like Forsett putting together the best sleeper season of any fantasy running back in 2014? This g-- just kidding I didn't see it. If 751 rushing yards and five touchdowns weren't already enough value for a guy that didn't even have an ADP this season, Forsett is coming off his best game as a pro where he rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee. It was the second 100-yard rushing game of the year for Forsett.

    This week may be even better. He's dealt a weak New Orleans defense that allows 115 rushing yards per game. They've also surrendered 10 rushing touchdowns, which ranks 26th in the league. The Saints were also unloaded on just a week ago by Jeremy Hill and the Bengals, a team that put up 186 rushing yards on the Saints. The 49ers posted 144 rushing yards against New Orleans a week earlier and even the lowly Panthers rushed for 105 yards and allowed Jonathan Stewart to rattle off over five yards per carry. It's almost impossible to think Forsett could struggle this week.

    Good starts

    Ryan Mathews vs. St. Louis — #13 in weekly rankings

    Mathews looked fresh when he returned to the San Diego lineup last week after an injury sidelined him for over a month. He rushed for 70 yards on 16 attempts (4.4 yards per carry) against Oakland and while St. Louis has played better defensively, they're still giving up an average of 4.3 yards per carry to running backs.

    In his first week back last Sunday, it looked like the Chargers were easing Mathews in a bit. He only played 43 percent of the Chargers' offensive snaps, but that shouldn't be the case this week. Expect Mathews to come closer to 20 carries and hover around the 100-yard mark. He'll also add more catches with more time on the field. He's a dual threat who can get you PPR numbers and cross the 100 total yardage mark. Mathews' one big problem is his history of ineptitude around the goal line, as he has never rushed for more than seven touchdowns in a season. So you'll kind of have to hope he gets points with a lot of yardage instead.

    Eddie Lacy @ Minnesota — #7 in weekly rankings

    Lacy has really rewarded his fantasy owners who stuck with him after a shaky start. In his last six games, he's posted point totals of 11, 24, 4, 13, 17, 17 and 22. Those were the kind of numbers fantasy owners expected of Lacy, and he's really come through in a big way.

    This week, Green Bay travels to Minnesota where they have dominated the Vikings. According to Pro Football Reference, Rodgers' average numbers against the Vikings look like this...

    21/29, 252 yards, 2.2 touchdowns, 0.3 interceptions

    Rodgers hasn't thrown a pick against the Vikings since 2012, and Eddie Lacy should benefit once again from the Packers' high-powered passing offense. 17 of Lacy's 27 catches have come on the last four games, and he's also added two receiving touchdowns in that span. He's one of the most potent backs in fantasy right now.

    Minnesota is giving up 115 rushing yards per game, which ranks 21st. They've surrendered eight rushing touchdowns on the season.

    Owners beware

    Giovani Bernard @ Houston — #21 in weekly rankings

    Bernard is coming off a hip injury that derailed what looked like a promising sophomore campaign and his opponent likely won't make it any easier on him in Week 12. The Houston defense has been playing the run much better with the addition of rookie Jadeveon Clowney on the outside. Last week against the Browns, Houston held Cleveland to just 58 yards rushing, with Clowney's explosiveness allowing him to get into the backfield to stifle running backs. Clowney recorded one tackle for loss in that game.

    With the way Jeremy Hill has been excelling in Bernard's absence (two 150-plus yard games in his last three) expect Bernard to be eased into the fold. There's no denying Bernard is talented and he's still a flex guy in deep leagues, but there's not a lot of hope for him to put up good fantasy numbers in his first week back due to the matchup and Hill's success as the starter. Hip injuries are also stingy, and we've seen other players like Percy Harvin aggravate them in the past. Bernard should be benched in 10-to-12 team leagues this week.

    View Nathan Rupert's Flickr page here.

     

  • Week 12 bullet points for QBs/DEFs

    Our bullet points articles are written to help better highlight our weekly rankings and explain our rationale behind ranking certain guys in certain places.

    QB –Andrew Luck vs. Jacksonville - #2 in Weekly Rankings

    I never get to write about players like this because they’re so obvious but I just want to express that I think Andrew Luck is about to have his best game of the season.  He’s coming off a home loss in a blowout against the Patriots and I think he gets it going in a huge way when the Jaguars 24th ranked defense vs. fantasy QBs comes to town. Luck will take last week’s frustration on a team devoid of talent on defense and 300 yards and 3 TDs is the minimum of what we’ll see.  Getting Luck in the lineup is more than obvious, but get every Colts player in there as well.  

    D/ST – San Francisco vs. Washington - #1 in Weekly Rankings

    The 49ers are coming off their best defensive performance since week 1.  They went on the road into Metlife Stadium and intercepted Eli Manning 5 times due to a ferocious pass rush.  It’s no coincidence that this performance came at the same time as Aldon Smith’s return to the lineup.  The defense only managed just 2 sacks but that total is sure to grow this week against the Redskins, a team that has allowed the most sacks this season.  RG3’s work ethic was called into question earlier this week by Steve Young and Young’s unnamed sources, and his coaches have said he needs to improve his fundamentals.  His leadership is a bigger question as he basically threw his teammates under the bus deflecting the blame for last week’s horrific loss to Tampa Bay.  Most importantly his talent is being called into question.  He threw a pick 6 this past week and 2 INTs, and his dreadful season continues to spiral in the wrong direction.  He’s just a shell of the rookie we all witnessed just a couple of years ago. Griffin can’t stay out of the spotlight and there is a target on his back.  Things will not get any better in San Francisco this week.  Start the 49ers defense with confidence.  

    Start em:

    QB – Tony Romo - #10 in Weekly Rankings

    Tony Romo was incredibly impressive in London’s 31-17 victory over Jacksonville.  The broken bones in his back seem to be a non-issue at this point and while they cannot fully heal in one week, the late bye worked to Romo’s advantage.  Romo travels to New Jersey to take on public enemy #1 the Giants.  The Gmen can’t get out of their own way defensively, ranking dead last against the run and 22nd against the pass.  The Cowboys will once again lean on the running game and pick their spots leading to a game from Romo similar to what he had against another hapless and hopeless defense in London.

    D/ST – New England v. Detroit- #5 in Weekly Rankings

    Calvin Johnson? Golden Tate?  Matthew Stafford?  No problem!  The Patriots are coming off one of the season’s most impressive games by any football team, a 21 point victory on the road in Indianapolis.  They slowed down Andrew Luck and TY Hilton, so coming home for a lesser offense will be no problem.  The Lions are playing winning football, but it’s the defense that has led the way.  There are big names at the skill positions for the Lions but they have struggled mightily when facing a top defense.  Teams such as Buffalo, Miami, Arizona and Minnesota have stymied the offense throughout the year.  Despite Chandler Jones’s absence the Patriots have continued to play tough defense, especially against the pass.  Expect Stafford to struggle once again resulting in multiple turnovers. 

    Owners Beware:

    QB – Ryan Tannehill at Denver - #14 in Weekly Rankings

    Ryan Tannehill is in the midst of a career year and is a fine QB, but this is the wrong week for him to start against the Broncos. Denver is a great team on both sides of the ball.  When a team like this comes off a loss where they lose to a clearly lesser team (Rams), you don’t want to be playing against them the following week, especially in their building.   Denver will be out for blood to prove that they are the best team in the league, and every Dolphin player is in a lot of trouble.  Peyton Manning will be sustaining long drives on offense limiting the Dolphins opportunities and Von Miller and Aqib Talib will lead this defense in a rout over a quality but inferior team like the Dolphins.  Look for Tannehill to hover in the low 200s in terms of yardage and 1-2 scores along with 1-2 turnovers.  

    D/ST – Arizona at Seattle - #21 in Weekly Rankings

    Let me start with saying that the Cardinals have a great defense.  They understand how to play against their NFC West rivals, the Seattle Seahawks.  However, the Seahawks are at home where they always play dominant football, and despite their recent struggles they are still the Super Bowl champs.  They have a top 5 RB in Marshawn Lynch and one of the smartest QBs in the game in Russell Wilson, two players who will be touching the ball on basically every play and will not allow turnovers to pile up.  Wilson is too smart to take the amount of sacks needed for the Cardinals to be a good start. Seattle is desperate and I expect them to play that way, and play their best game of the season.  Find another matchup play defense and stash the Cardinals for another week.

    View NFL News's flickr page here.

  • Sleepers and busts for Week 12

    We’re past the bye week storm and fantasy skies are clear. There will be no more talk of storms and if you’re still here reading along then congratulations my friend, you’ve surviving the fantasy-life threatening catastrophe that has been the last three weeks. With only a mini bye week (Pittsburgh/Carolina) owners should be at or near full strength this week and throughout the rest of the season. There are still owners of Big Ben, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen that could be left scrambling but after this week we’re all officially done with these bye week inconveniences.

    We’ve now reached that point in the season that we will all remember quite well, and that point we will use to define our season as a success or failure. For some reason, the memory of fantasy owners improves ten-fold at about this time of the year.  We all have our stories about how we got to this point but we sum it up by saying something like “well, earlier this season my team was great led by those couple of big games that (fill in QB/RB/WR/TE) had but then (QB/RB/WR/TE) struggled and I find myself here in week 12 fighting for my playoff life”.  For those of us still alive, weeks 1-11 tend to be muddled into one group of games and performances.  Then week 12 gets here and the part of the season that we will remember vividly begins and our memories become very specific: “I remember it like it was yesterday.  Ryan Mathews was my hero in weeks 14-16 when he plowed through the Giants, Broncos and Raiders racking up 382 yards and a 3 TDs, one in each game.  His TDs were from 1, 9, and 23 yards out…ahhhhh the memories.”  This is not my memory.  I will admit I looked this up, but someone out there does have this clear and fond memory of Ryan Mathews 2013 fantasy playoff performance.  The team playing against these performances will remember these things just as vividly.  Which brings me to one of my many clear and precise memories….in Week 14 2008 I played against Santana Moss vs. Baltimore on Monday Night Football.  Right before halftime on 3rd and 15 from their own 5 yard line, the Redskins’ Jason Campbell threw a WR screen to Moss who broke a tackle and ran up the sideline for 25 yards. From that moment on, I led by .74 points all the way up until the Redskins’ last offensive play of their last drive…a meaningless Santana Moss 4 yard catch…I lost my playoff matchup by .16. Since then I’ve had hypnotists and psychiatrists do their best to repress this memory but it isn’t going anywhere. But now I don’t want them to make me forget. That loss is a part of me.  It motivates me every year and the memories that this time of the year brings, both good and bad is what fantasy football is all about.

    Although I’ve listed two examples of playoff heroics, the memories begin with how we made the playoffs or how we were eliminated.  For the teams still battling for playoff position, it’s time for you to determine what your first real fantasy football memory of 2014 will be, and you should use the following sleepers and busts advice for Week 12 to help you succeed in creating happy memories. 

    Without further ado, your week 12 Sleepers and Busts: 

    DISCLAIMER:  A sleeper is not a must start and a bust is not a must bench, they are merely indications that a player will have a better or worse game this week than they normally do. It all really depends on your alternatives. I will give an example of a few players for whom I personally would start the sleeper over or bench the bust for. These players are simply there as an indication of how good or bad I think the sleepers/busts will perform so you have a comparison in mind when applying it to your actual lineup. For example if I am comparing a QB to a stud like Andrew Luck, I am not necessarily saying you need to start him over Luck (even if I would) but it will imply that I feel really good about him. 

     Sleeper QB:

    ·         Eli Manning vs. Dallas.  Eli Manning is coming off one of the worst games of his life, a game in which he threw 5 INTs, so obviously those in the fantasy world will be down on him.  The 49ers returned Pro Bowl defensive lineman Aldon Smith to the lineup last week and their pass rush was predictably much improved.  The Giants have huge holes on the offensive line and a team with that kind of pass rush is going to give Eli and the Giants major problems.  Dallas comes into New York off a London vacation where they also got to play a football game against the Jaguars.  The Cowboys only have 16 sacks on the season and only have one player with more than 2 sacks.  They came into the Jaguars game on a two-game slide and they took a step back defensively with the loss of LB Justin Durant and DT Tyrone Crawford.  In these two games, they allowed Colt McCoy to throw for nearly 300 yards and they allowed a 249 yard, 3 TD game to Carson Palmer.  The Giants should be able to protect Manning enough to free Odell Beckham, Reuben Randle and Larry Donnell who all match up well with the Cowboys who will attempt to cover them (Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Rolondo McClain/Barry Church).  In Eli’s last three matchups against the Cowboys, he’s had multiple TDs in each game, a total of 9 TDs vs. 4 INTs. Prior to last week Manning had been a low end QB1. In fantasy football sometimes, we have to let a week like last week against the 49ers go, and not let it sway our opinions too much.  I see a shootout in a matchup where neither team will be playing effective defense.         

    I’d Start Eli Manning over:  Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill, Josh McCown, Matthew Stafford

    Bust QB:

    ·         Josh McCown at Chicago.  Former Bears QB Josh McCown comes into week 12 having thrown 4 TD in his last two games. The experts are ready to anoint him as a QB1 in his return to Chicago.  I think it’s a nice story, but anyone giving McCown QB1 status on the road is just over reacting.  McCown comes off back to back games against two of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Falcons and Redskins.  The Bears are another of the league’s worst, ranking 31st against fantasy QBs, but much of that ranking is due to the 11 TD assault put on them by Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in weeks 8 and 10.  Head Coach, Mark Trestman, and Bears defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker, know what McCown has in his arsenal and should be able to develop a game plan to limit breakout WR Mike Evans and veteran WR Vincent Jackson. If the coaches’ familiarity with McCown were the only issue I wouldn’t list him here. The forecast in Chicago calls for 100% chance of steady rain with winds up to 20 MPH.  A combination of the Bears’ coaching staff and mother nature will ensure that McCown’s return to Chicago will come in a sloppy game, not a shootout between two poor defenses.  Keep him benched.   

    I’d Start the following players over Josh McCown:   Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson

    Sleeper RB:

    ·         Bishop Sankey at Philadelphia. Until last week most of what we’ve heard from Ken Whisenhunt about Bishop Sankey is that his footwork hasn’t been right. Sankey owners were left frustrated by this for weeks as he was losing touches to Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster. Finally, this week we heard Whisenhunt say something normal and complementary about his 1st round running back. His exact words were,  "I thought he was physical, I thought he was decisive, he was better with his reads…Those are things where you’ve seen improvement." Sankey only had 45 total yards, but he did score a TD and more importantly his coach came away impressed. Zach Mettenberger has provided a spark to this offense and they should be able to move the ball against an opportunistic yet poor Eagles defense. Sankey is the featured back and the Eagles have allowed RBs to hit pay dirt at least once in four straight weeks (Ellington, Foster, Stewart, Lacy).  It's no coincidence that this stretch coincides with the season ending injury to starting LB DeMeco Ryans. Sankey has finally caught the coach’s eye, he’ll get redzone opportunities and he’ll continue to dominate snaps and touches in the backfield. He’s being listed as a mid RB3 but in this matchup I see him as a mid-low RB2 or at worst a flex.   

    I’d start Bishop Sankey over:  Joique Bell, Chris Ivory, Tre Mason, Shane Vereen, Lamar Miller

    Bust RB:             

    ·         Alfred Morris at San Francisco.  This may be an obvious choice but Alfred Morris is still being listed being listed in the RB2 realm, too high for my liking this week. The 49ers are at home and on the season are the second best team against fantasy RBs. The Redskins, coming off a home game against TB where they couldn’t move the ball, will have a hard time sustaining drives on the road in San Francisco. If Colin Kaepernick doesn’t screw it up, the 49ers should be able to jump out to a lead early and we’ll be seeing a lot of Roy Helu in the backfield (Helu is a nice flex option this week). In addition, we’re coming off a week where RG3 threw his team under the bus while talking to the media.  His act has grown tired to his coaches and I wouldn’t be shocked to see an uninspired Redskins team who won’t fully have the back of their over-rated outspoken QB, leading to a disastrous overall offensive performance from the Skins.  It’s going to be a tough go this week and from here on out for Alfred Morris. 

    I’d start the following players over Alfred Morris:  Tre Mason, Isaiah Crowell, Bishop Sankey, Ryan Mathews

    Sleeper WR:

    ·         Marques Colston v. Baltimore.  Brandin Cooks is lost for the season with a broken thumb.  The immediate reaction is to assume that his targets will go to Kenny Stills, the young big play WR oozing with upside. We talked a little bit about the Cooks injury and Kenny Stills on our podcast earlier this week.  However, while I do see Stills getting more targets, I think the biggest beneficiary could be the old reliable Marques Colston.  Cooks did provide some big plays on deep balls, but he had been mostly running a lot of short to intermediate routes, routes that Colston had run in the past.  Colston (34 receptions) had moved down to 3A or 3B in the pecking order behind Jimmy Graham and Cooks, and was even with Stills (31 receptions). It’s weird to say, but the Saints are having a tough year offensively and they may want to simplify things by going with what they know has worked in the past, short and intermediate routes to Colston. This week they’ll host a Baltimore team starting a secondary that has played exactly one game together.  They played just fine at home against Zach Mettenberger and the Titans, but playing in the Superdome against Drew Brees with his back against the wall is a totally different story. Expect the Saints to have a bounce back game and be led by Drew Brees’s main men for the last few years, Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston.  I see Colston as a solid WR3 moving forward in PPR leagues.      

    I’d Start Marques Colston over:  Malcolm Floyd, John Brown, Eric Decker, Jarvis Landry, Cecil Shorts

    Bust WR:

    ·         Golden Tate at New England.  Golden Tate enjoyed his first game with Megatron in the lineup, but last week in Arizona we witnessed what can happen when a struggling offense (yes Detroit has been struggling despite winning games) goes on the road against a top defense.  Tate only received two targets in the midst of Matthew Stafford’s putrid day.  This week the Lions once again go on the road to face a pass defense that just shut down Andrew Luck. Word is that Tate will take a trip to Revis island, while Calvin Johnson gets double teamed by Brandon Browner and a safety.  New England is the best team in the NFL and they sport the 2nd best ranking against opposing WRs in .5 PPR leagues. Matthew Stafford will have trouble getting anything going and if he does, it will be to his main man Calvin. Tate’s trip to his island destination will not be enjoyable.   I’d remove him from all 2 WR lineups and most 3 WR lineups.

    I’d start the following players over Golden Tate:  Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne

    Sleeper TE:

    ·         Marcedes Lewis at Indianapolis.  Many fantasy players forget that Marcedes Lewis began the season in kind of a big way with 8 catches, 106 yards, and a TD in his first two weeks.  Lewis may be rusty in his first week back but he couldn’t be returning for a much better matchup.  Indianapolis ranks 29th against opposing TEs in .5 PPR leagues.  The Colts should be leading throughout the game which could result in a high volume of throws from Blake Bortles and ample opportunities for Lewis to catch passes. Lewis is also returning at the same time that news was revealed that possession WR, Allen Robinson, would not be returning this season.  Robinson was used a security blanket and racked up targets and receptions.  Lewis should be able to take over the security blanket role.  Look for Lewis to receive 7+ targets and get 5+ receptions.  He's a fine streaming TE for Greg Olsen owners or teams who are just looking to play the matchups.    

    I’d start Marcedes Lewis over:  Owen Daniels, Kyle Rudolph, Eric Ebron, Vernon Davis, Jacob Tamme

    Bust TE:

    ·         Jacob Tamme/Julius Thomas vs. Miami.  Julius Thomas has been reported as a game time decision but John Fox admitted that he wasn’t able to do much on the practice field.  If Thomas is out, many fantasy owners will salivate at the thought of being able to pick up Jacob Tamme, the man who would be the Broncos starting TE.  I’m warning you against doing so.  Miami is the 3rd ranked team against TEs and has been especially stingy since their week 5 bye.  Since then they have shut down each and every TE they have faced including every week fantasy starters, Martellus Bennett and Antonio Gates.   I’d choose other streaming TEs if Tamme is on your radar. 

     If Julius Thomas does play, you have to start him, but I’d expect him to play a limited role and to struggle like we’ve seen him do a few times earlier this season in between monster performances.  I won’t list any replacements for him since he’ll need to be in your lineup.

    I’d start the following players over Jacob Tamme:  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Antonio Gates, Marcedes Lewis, Niles Paul

    That’ll do it for week 12.  I hope this week is the beginning of a memory that will last a lifetime and not one that will haunt you for years to come.  Good Luck!   

    Puzzled on who to start for you team this week? Check out our weekly rankings here.

    View Keith Allison's Flickr page here.

  • If Brian Hoyer shows up, Josh Gordon is the top receiver this week

    Hey everybody, this is Josh Gordon, Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Just wanted to say thanks if you're one of the few lucky fantasy owners that stuck with me through this whole suspension ordeal. I say this honestly: You guys are true believers.

    As I sealed the deal on my 12th straight used car sale (I promise all customers a free pine tree air freshener if you know what I mean) I could only feel bad as I watched my teammates enjoy the benefits of an easy schedule and play against some of the worst defenses in the league over a five-game stretch of the season. I can only express regret for not being there to give you all fantasy points. But Good things often come to those who wait, and success and prosperity currently lines your remaining path in the 2014 fantasy football season.

    You gotta admit, that section of the Browns' schedule from Week 2-7 was as soft as the NFL's domestic violence policy. My matchups would've been pretty tasty considering our opponents consisted of Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Houston. Damn, what I could've done to those cornerbacks.

    Don't fret too much, you'll still get some mileage out of me come the end of the regular season, and the first pay off will come this week against Atlanta in the comfortable confines of the Georgia Dome.

    Why the Falcons' offense helps me

    Well, we know their offensive line has struggled due to injuries, but the real key stat is time of possession. The Falcons are holding onto the ball an average of 28 minutes and 17 seconds per game, which ranks 25th in the league. They don't do much better at home, as they hang onto the ball for 28 minutes and 43 seconds per game. The offense relies too much on the pass as evidenced by their 38.2 pass attempts per game, which forces the clock to stop on incomplete passes and leads to punts. Of the 113 offensive drives put together by Atlanta, 28 of them have resulted in a 3 and out. That's 26th worst in the league.

    All this should help Bryan Hoyer and myself stay on the field more. I know my Browns aren't exactly great in time of possession either. We actually rank behind Atlanta in that category. But, we're making changes in that area. We cut Ben Tate earlier this week, and our most talented running back in Isaiah Crowell is finally starting. Crowell averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per carry in his first start as a Brown against Houston last week, and the purpose he shows when running the ball should help us extend drives and keep our offense moving down the field. The longer I'm on the field, the opportunity I will have to score points. Stick that in your pipe.

    How about the Atlanta defense?

    It's nice if you're me. The Falcons rank dead last in passing yards allowed, averaging 281.2 per game. They're also 24th in rushing yards allowed, so our offense should be able to provide a lot of scoring for you. The Falcons gave up 292 passing yards to Carolina last week. That's right, the team whose tight end leads them in receptions managed to put up nearly 300 yards passing. The week before, Josh McCown and Tampa notched 301 passing yards against them.

    There also shouldn't be a lot of pressure on the quarterback this week either. The Falcons have registered only 13 sacks on the year, which is tied for second worst in the league. Only Oakland is worse with 10. There shouldn't be any problem when it comes time for me to get open. One thing needs to happen though.

    The elephant in the room

    Brian Hoyer has to really show up this week. I'm not saying he can't, but he went 20-for-50 last week against a below average secondary in Houston and finished with a dismal 61 quarterback rating. Granted, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney were breathing down his neck most of the game and he won't have to deal with that so much against Atlanta, but he's got to avoid looking like that other quarterback in our division with the red hair. 

    But despite Hoyer's struggles last week, I think my presence gives him an added boost. I can run after the catch like nobody's business. Last year, I led the league in receiving yards on just 87 catches and only one receiver in the Top 10 had less receptions than that. I averaged 18.9 yards per catch and turned short passes into large chunks of yardage. Only Kenny Stills averaged more yards per catch than me.

    Final verdict

    All the elements are there. A good matchup, a better running game and a (hopefully) a serviceable quarterback. I should be good to help you start your run to your fantasy championship, maybe throw you around 18-20 fantasy points (roughly 120 receiving yards and a touchdown). Take care.

    View Erik Drost's Flickr page here.

     

  • Week 11 bullet points for WRs/TEs

    Start of the Week

    Desean Jackson v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers #8 Weekly Rankings

    Despite being the biggest one-trick pony in the league, Redskins receiver Desean Jackson has continued to prove himself as one of the best deep threats in the NFL. Per Pro Football Focus, Jackson ranks no. 1 in the NFL in yards per reception (21.2), and is currently second on the Redskins in receptions (36).

    Jackson will have a chance to build off the impressive start when he matches up against one of, if not the worst, defensive units in the NFL. According to PFF’s advanced statistics the Buccaneers secondary is the third-worst unit in the league in coverage (-37.9), and could be without the services of their best cornerback, Alterraun Verner. With Verner out, Jackson will have the benefit of matching up with either Jonathan Banks, PFF’s 12th worst cornerback in the league, or Leonard Johnson, who is allowing almost 11.0 yards per reception this season.

    Jackson has been one of the hottest receivers in football over the few weeks, eclipsing the 100-yard mark four times in the team’s last five games. I expect the Redskins passing attack to find some consistency this weekend, and would consider most of the Redskins offensive players as quality fantasy starters this weekend.

    Travis Kelce v. Seattle Seahawks #7 Weekly Rankings

    Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid recently came out and said that there were no longer any restrictions for second-year tight end Travis Kelce, something that has to have fantasy owners ecstatic.

    This weekend Kelce and the Chiefs offense have a tough matchup as they welcome the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom to Arrowhead Stadium. Despite being one of the premier defensive units against opposing wide receivers the Seahawks have struggled defending opposing tight ends, especially in red zone situations. The Seahawks defense has allowed 9 touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, including five in the last five weeks.

    Despite being vulnearbale to giving up touchdowns, the Seahawks defense has done a very good job managing yardage to opposing tight ends, allowing less than 60 receiving yards in all but one game this season. 

    Now that Kelce will be playing a full allotment of snaps I expect Smith and Kelce to connect early and often this weekend. Smith has still yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season, a trend I do not expect to change this weekend. If the Chiefs want a chance to pull off the upset, Kelce needs to be the focal point of the team's passing game, especially in the red-zone.  

    Start ‘Em

    Martavis Bryant v. Tennessee Titans #23 Weekly Rankings

    Another week, another big game for Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Some fantasy owners may be wondering whether or not the recent hot streak continue, and the answer is an emphatic NO. However, I am going to keep Bryant in my lineup until he gives me a reason to put him on the bench.

    Despite being inactive for the first 6 weeks of the season, Bryant has added an element to the Steelers passing game they have been looking for. Even with a limited knowledge of the playbook Bryant has been the second best receiver on the Steelers, ranking 2nd in both targets (25) and receptions (14) since week 7. Even though Markus Wheaton is still technically the "starter" Bryant has been the more dynamic receiver of the two. 

    Bryant has seen his snap count increase in three consecutive weeks, a trend I fully expect to continue when the Steelers match up with the Titans on Monday Night Football. Bryant will likely match up with cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson this weekend, and could be in line for another massive game. Wreh-Wilson has allowed a passer rating of 110.3 on passes thrown his direction and has allowed a team-high 5 touchdown receptions this season. 

    Kyle Rudolph v. Chicago Bears #12 Weekly Rankings

    After being sidelined since week 3 while recovering from sports hernia surgery, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is ready to make his return this weekend against the Bears. Despite Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner indicating Rudolph could be on a snap count, I feel Rudolph could make a major impact for the Vikings this weekend.

    Even if Rudolph is not asked to play a full allotment of snaps this weekend, matching up with the Bears pathetic defense puts him as a low-end TE 1 this weekend. The Bears defense has allowed 9 touchdowns as well as having allowed an average of 7 catches for 88 yards to opposing tight ends over the last team’s last five games. Although Rudolph will likely be on a snap count this weekend, I still feel like he is worth the gamble against the worst-ranked defense against opposing tight ends.

    Owners Beware

    Andre Johnson v. Cleveland Browns #26 Weekly Rankings

    The passing of the torch is underway in Houston, as second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has developed into the number one receiving option for the Texans. With a Ryan Mallett making his first career start this weekend, I expect another rough day for the veteran receiver.

    It is clear that the days of Johnson being a top-flight fantasy receiver are behind him. Despite being the most targeted receiver on the team (77) Johnson has struggled with efficiency, hauling in just 62% of the passes headed his way. Even though Johnson is the team’s leader in catches (48), second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has taken over as the team’s big-play threat. Johnson has failed to top the 100-yard mark this season, and has not scored a touchdown since week 6 against the Colts.

    This weekend, Johnson gets the pleasure of matching up with one of the premier cornerbacks in the league, Joe Haden. After a slow start to the season in which Haden allowed a passer rating of over 110.0 in three of the team’s first four games, Haden has come on strong over the last month. Over the Brown’s last four games Haden is allowing less than 10 yards per reception, and has not allowed more than 70 yards receiving to an opposing wide receiver.

    Even though Johnson is a big name and likely a top-6 round selection in your fantasy drafts, fantasy owners may feel the pressure to start Johnson because of the initial investment spent on him. However, if you have another option on your bench such as Martavis Bryant, Mike Evans, or even Brandin Cooks, I would recommend playing them over Johnson as he tries to find a way off of  “Haden Island”.

    Mychal Rivera v. San Diego Chargers #13 Weekly Rankings

    Rivera has been a savior for fantasy owners searching for a bye week replacement the past few weeks, hauling in three touchdowns in his last three games. However, this is the week I think the gravy trend ends for the Raiders tight end.

    Rivera has come out of nowhere to reach the cusp of fantasy relevance, rankings second in targets (19) and first in touchdowns (3) over the last three weeks. However Rivera gets a very tough matchup against a Chargers defense that is allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Chargers have only allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends just twice this season, and have allowed three or fewer fantasy points in six games this season. If you have another quality option at the tight end position I would recommend going in another direction this weekend. 

     

  • Week 11 bullet points for RBs

    Start of the week:

    LeSean McCoy @ Green Bay Packers — #4 in weekly rankings

    It's tough to plug McCoy as an RB1 these days, and that's mainly because it's tough to really pin him down this year in general. He was strong the last four weeks (two 100-yard games to go along with two 80-yard games) before tossing up a dud against Carolina despite a 45 point effort by the Eagles' offense.

    But despite a lackluster performance on the stat sheet as of late and only two touchdowns on the season overall by the RB, the Eagles currently sit atop the NFC and Chip Kelly has found a way to consistently utilize McCoy without relying on him to score the football to win games. Even with his not-so-amazing stats, there's still plenty of reason to get excited about his fantasy value in Week 11.

    McCoy finds himself in a great matchup against a weak run defense in Green Bay. The Packers have surrendered a 30th-worst 142 rushing yards per game. McCoy will also be playing in the frigid cold of Lambeau Field, where the temperature is expected to be around 30 degrees before kickoff at 4 p.m. The Eagles had the luxury of not playing in too many cold games last season, but McCoy rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns against a bad Chicago defense in Chicago during the winter weather in 2013. McCoy also torched Green Bay for 155 yards when the two teams played in Green Bay last season.Though past efforts aren't necessarily an indication of future efforts, it's just worth noting that McCoy has been successful in the cold in past games.

    When it comes to how well the offense has been playing, the Eagles offensive line continues to get stronger as they get healthier. They protected quarterback Mark Sanchez extremely well last week against Carolina, and while Julius Peppers may be a bit tougher to contain, the presence of Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis should help keep the Green Bay front four in check. If you remember, the Eagles offensive line did a good job containing J.J. Watt when they played the Texans a few weeks ago, as they held one of the best defensive ends in football to just one tackle for a loss.

    Weather conditions may also come into play here, as Sanchez will be having to deal with throwing a frozen ball which could mean the Eagles may opt to go more run heavy. Aside from his 12 attempts last week in a lopsided game, McCoy had rushed for 24, 21, 22 and 24 in his previous efforts. There's a good chance he does that again given the conditions in Green Bay.

    Potential sleepers

    Montee Ball @ St. Louis — #26 in weekly rankings

    Currently listed as probable, expect Ball to be eased back into the lineup opposite C.J. Anderson. But with Ronnie Hillman out, there's a good chance Ball sees some carries and maybe snags a goal line touchdown or two. The Rams are allowing a little over 124 rushing yards per game (25th worst) but they held Andre Ellington to just 1.3 yards per carry last week and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Russell Wilson in Week 7.

    Don't expect Ball to light the world on fire since he hasn't been the most explosive option even when he's been healthy (only averaged 3.1 yards per carry in his four starts), but the situation calls for him getting a little bit of action and sometimes all a player needs is a little opportunity.

    Ball is a good flex play if you're in a deep league. He could vulture a touchdown on the goal line which is all you need in that spot. Just to be clear — Ball is not likely to go off this week at all, but there's potential for him to see enough of a workload to warrant a productive day.

    Shane Vereen @ Indianapolis— #25 in weekly rankings

    Vereen (and the entire Patriots' backfield for that matter) remain difficult to predict in fantasy football thanks to the chess-like mind of Pats' coach Bill Belichick. It's almost as if Belichick hates fantasy football and trots out the running back who hasn't scored much lately and gives him the most carries. Jonas Gray, Stevan Ridley, insert-next-running-back-who-will-now-be-a-household-name-here.

    Despite the wonky RB favoritism, there's a lot of potential for Vereen this week. The Colts and Patriots will likely be a shootout between two premier quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Tom Brady. The game will also be played under the comfortable dome conditions of Lucas Oil Stadium, so there's no cold interfering with the stats.

    As for Vereen, he caught 13 passes over the last five games, so he's been on a PPR roll. The Patriots are coming off their bye week, so they're rested. Overall, Vereen remains the best fantasy back among the Patriots due to his versatility.

    Owners beware

    Marshawn Lynch @ Kansas City— #2 in weekly rankings

    It's tough to say, but consider benching Lynch this week against Kansas City. He's banged up, and is going against a strong Kansas City defense that kept the Bills run game largely in check last week. Lynch posted his best effort of the season last week against the New York Giants, where he ran for 140 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time Lynch eclipsed the 100-yard mark since Week 1 against Green Bay. Expect him to revert back to the more subdued version of beast mode against Kansas City, and likely finish with 67 yards and maybe a touchdown.

     

     

Podcasts

Episode 31: Jonas the Gray

Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00
On Friday's episode of diagnosis, the Helpers discuss Jonas Gray and have mixed reactions regarding whether or not he's startable this week against Detroit. They give you four players who nobody is talking about who could hel
Read more...

Episode 30: First Aid (Week 11)

Sunday, 16 November 2014 00:00
On Monday's weekly First Aid podcast, the Helpers discuss the St. Louis Rams and their emerging defense, the white hot Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay Packers and whether or not Mark Sanchez is an every week QB1 g
Read more...

Episode 29: Chronicles of Riddick

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:00
On this week's episode of Diagnosis, the Helpers discuss their good and bad calls from Week 10, the state of the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions and what to expect from this Thursday's matchup between the Buffalo Bills an
Read more...

Episode 28: First Aid (Week 10)

Monday, 10 November 2014 00:00
On Monday's edition of First Aid, the Helpers discuss Colin Kaepernick and whether or not they would trust him in the fantasy playoffs. They also hand out weekly awards and discuss the fantasy implication of tonight's game be
Read more...

Episode 27: Owe you a Polk

Friday, 07 November 2014 00:00
On this episode of Diagnosis, the Helpers discuss some of their hits and misses from last week. They also talk about the Philadelphia Eagles and their many new fantasy relevant players including Mark Sanchez and Chris Polk. T
Read more...

Waiver Wire

Week 12 pickups

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 00:00
Top Additions 1.    Jonas Gray RB/New England Patriots (8.4% Owned) Raise your hand if you started Patriots running back Jonas Gray this week? Not many? That is what I thought. Well after gashing the Colts on Sunday nigh
Read more...

Week 11 pickups

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 00:00
View ELZ's Flickr page here.        C.J. Anderson RB/Denver Broncos (2.8% Owned) All week the talk out of Denver was how second-year running back Montee Ball was getting close to returning from a groin injury that has
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Week 10 pickups

Tuesday, 04 November 2014 00:00
Top Additions Mark Sanchez QB/Philadelphia Eagles (0.1% Owned) In my opinion, being released by the New York Jets was the best thing that has happened to Sanchez. After signing with the Eagles this offseason, the forme
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Week 9 pickups

Monday, 27 October 2014 00:00
1.    Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims RB/Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9.2 and 0.2% Owned) As the trade deadline approaches, there are rumblings that Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has the potential to be on the trading block.
Read more...

Week 8 pickups

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 00:00
1.    Doug Baldwin WR/Seattle Seahawks (19.4% Owned) After trading disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets, it was unclear who would become the focal point of the Seahawks' passing game. Although Harvi
Read more...

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Weekly Rankings - Top 10

RANKNAMETEAMOPPONENT
1 Peyton Manning Denver Miami
2 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Jacksonville
3 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay @Minnesota
4 Tom Brady New England Detroit
5 Jay Cutler Chicago Tampa Bay
6 Matt Ryan Atlanta Cleveland
7 Drew Brees New Orleans Baltimore
8 Philip Rivers San Diego St. Louis
9 Colin Kaepernick San Francisco Washington
10 Tony Romo Dallas @New York Giants


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4 Justin Forsett Baltimore @New Orleans
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6 Arian Foster Houston Cincinnati
7 Eddie Lacy Green Bay @Minnesota
8 LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Tennessee
9 Andre Ellington Arizona @Seattle
10 Alfred Morris Washington @San Francisco


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2 A.J. Green Cincinnati @Houston
3 Demaryius Thomas Denver Miami
4 Calvin Johnson Detroit @New England
5 Randall Cobb Green Bay @Minnesota
6 T.Y. Hilton Indianapolis Jacksonville
7 Jeremy Maclin Philadelhia Tennessee
8 Dez Bryant Dallas @New York Giants
9 Brandon Marshall Chicago Tampa Bay
10 Josh Gordon Cleveland @Atlanta


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1 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Baltimore
2 Rob Gronkowski New England Detroit
3 Martellus Bennett Chicago Tampa Bay
4 Larry Donnell New York Giants Dallas
5 Coby Fleener Indianapolis Jacksonville
6 Antonio Gates San Diego St. Louis
7 Julius Thomas Denver Miami
8 Jason Witten Dallas @New York Giants
9 Delanie Walker Tennessee @Philadelphia
10 Charles Clay Miami @Denver


View All TE Rankings

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1 Greg Zuerlein St. Louis @San Diego
2 Adam Vinatieri Indianapolis Jacksonville
3 Mason Crosby Green Bay @Minnesota
4 Justin Tucker Baltimore @New Orleans
5 Cairo Santos Kansas City @Oakland
6 Randy Bullock Houston Cincinnati
7 Cody Parkey Philadelphia Tennessee
8 Dan Bailey Dallas @New York Giants
9 Steven Hauschka Seattle Arizona


View All K Rankings

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1   San Francisco Washington
2   Buffalo New York Jets
3   Indianapolis Jacksonville
4   Philadelphia Tennessee
5   New England Detroit
6   Seattle Arizona
7   Kansas City @Oakland
8   Denver Miami
9   Green Bay @Minnesota
10   San Diego St. Louis


View All D Rankings

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