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The instant impact rookie running back. Seemingly every year, one or two rookies are gifted with an opportunity to see a significant workload at a certain point in the season. Some are scheduled to be their team's starter form the get go (think Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch in 2007) while others benefit from a stroke of luck due to an injury to the starting guy or the starting guy is struggling (Branden Oliver, Jeremy Hill in 2014).

As the NFL Draft nears, it's important to look at these situations so you can identify them and play them to your advantage. It's also important to look at past examples so you can hopefully spot a similar situation in the future.

What can the draft tell us about fantasy?

When it comes to identifying what round a player is more likely to have a higher probability of immediately producing at, it can vary by position. One obvious trend is that quarterbacks taken in Rounds 1-3 typically do better. Current top fantasy quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Ben Reothlisberger and Aaron Rodgers were all drafted in the first two rounds in their respective drafts.

When you look at the wide receiver position, DeMaryius Thomas was a first-rounder as was Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant. Jordy Nelson was a second-round pick in 2008. Top 2014 fantasy wideout Antonio Brown was one exception to the rule. Brown was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 draft.

Running backs are a different story

Even though there's been some late-round gems at the quarterback and wide receiver position, the running back position is place where you'll find perhaps the highest probability quality fantasy players. More frequently than you'd think, you'll find top fantasy running backs who were drafted in the later rounds or even went undrafted.

There's a lot of variables that play into running backs not getting drafted as high as they used to be, and we could list 1,000 more words telling you why that is, but for the sake of this argument lets just say the NFL is a copy cat league and selecting a running back later on is just the trend right now. Even the 2015 running back class, which is being hyped as the best in years, will still likely only draw two first rounders (Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon). So with a running back class as good as this one, which has many draftniks claiming it could be as good as 14 quality starters deep, it's important to look at how late-round running backs have come to the forefront in the past and made an impact on fantasy teams. Let's take a look at last year's impact fantasy running backs who were rookies.

Case study #1 — Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers (undrafted)

Oliver was ranked in the Top 40 among fantasy backs in fantasy points in 2014, which wasn't bad for a 5'8 undrafted rookie out of SUNY Buffalo. Oliver got his chance when starter Ryan Mathews went down with an MCL sprain. Of course, nobody saw Oliver's start coming after Mathews was scheduled to sit out the following week. Everybody had Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown pegged as the backups most likely to benefit, myself included. It goes to show you — always look all the way down on the depth chart before picking somebody up off the waiver wire. You never know what can happen.

Well, a stroke of luck happened and Oliver took off against the New York Jets. After Brown went out with a concussion early on and with Mathews already sidelined, Oliver feasted on the weak Jets passing defense and caught four balls for 68 yards and 1 touchdown. He also rushed for over 100 yards and finished with 29 fantasy points. 

Watching that game, Oliver's ability in the passing game no doubt helped keep the defense and honest and led to him being more effective on the ground. Oliver also benefitted from Brown leaving the first half of that game with a concussion, which opened up the doors for him within the offense.

He didn't slow down afterward that game either. The Chargers leaned heavily on him the following week and Oliver made a nice second impression with a 101-yard effort against the Oakland Raiders and one touchdown. While those numbers were impressive, it's worth noting Oliver averaged just 3.9 yards a clip on 26 carries against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league, so it was no surprise that Oliver's production eventually dropped off.

While he turned out to be a nice addition off the waiver wire for a brief stretch, Oliver's fantasy value hit a snag after he ran into some tough defenses that started with a 36-yard performance against Denver on Thursday night. He tossed in six more equally ineffective games before finishing with 582 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns for the year, with half of his fantasy points coming in those two games against Oakland and New York.

Lessons learned

Oliver proved (at least in his rookie season) to be more of a scat, receiving type back. He's not a guy that can beat you with 20 carries per game. He's more of a Darren Sproles type player who will beat you out of the backfield. But in the right matchup against a weak passing defense, he proved he could produce for at least a few weeks.

One of the takeaways you can use from Oliver is to considers drafting backup running backs where the starter has an injury history. Now, this doesn't always work out. DeMarco Murray was injured almost every season but managed to finish 2014 without any major injuries to speak of. He did suffer a hand injury at one point, but it didn't slow him up much to create a ton of value for the backup running back on Dallas.

In the case of Oliver, starting RB Ryan Mathews also had a long injury history. So keep an eye out for running backs (especially the rookies in this draft) who get drafted to a team with a No. 1 back who is prone to sitting out games.

Next, always be keen on matchups. Oliver benefited from two easy defenses (New York Jets weak passing defense and Oakland's weak rushing defense) when he put up his best numbers.

Lastly, always make sure to scope out the entire depth chart of a team. Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown were the top backups but Oliver was also on the depth chart as well.

View Nathan Rupert's Flickr page here.

 

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 00:00

Week 16 pickups: Fantasy Title Edition

For a few lucky fantasy owners, this is the week that we have all been waiting for, Fantasy Super Bowl week. While those with a high seed no doubt saw their dreams of a fantasy championship dashed by the likes of Peyton Manning’s injury/illness or even worse, having the misfortune of playing against the future Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr.  If you had the pleasure of advancing to your fantasy semi-finals or finals, you may be looking for a couple players that may be able to clinch your league title. While the Helpers have have covered most numerous waiver wire targets throughout the year, there are none more important than this week. If you have a high waiver wire priority here are a few guys that should be available in a majority of fantasy football leagues.

Top Additions

Joseph Randle RB/Dallas Cowboys 

With the recent news that DeMarco Murray is undergoing surgery to repair a broken band in his hand owners of, in my opinion, the front-runner for the MVP of fantasy football this season may be scrambling to find an alternative option prior to many league championships this weekend. While it is unclear if Murray is even certain to miss this upcoming game, but if he does I would imagine that Joseph Randle and not Lance Dunbar will be the better fantasy option.

Randle, better known for his off-the-field antics in which he was caught shoplifting a pair of underwear from a Dallas retail store, was a fifth-round selection in the 2013 and when given the opportunity has shown flashes of ability. So far this season Randle has ran the ball 34 times for 237 yards (7.0), as well as two rushing touchdowns. Although he has not shown much as a pass catcher (2 catches on the season), Randle did show some flashes as a pass catcher during his time at Oklahoma State, hauling in 108 passes during his three years in Stillwater.

If Murray is forced to miss this weekends game, Randle does have an owner-friendly matchup against the Colts. The Colts defense has allowed 110.4 rushing yards per game on the season, and are giving up the 7th most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. If you are looking for a reliable option out of the running back position starting one matching up against the Colts has been a great course of action. The Colts defense has allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing running backs in all but two games this season, including 6 in their last five games. 

Randle should be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week and rightfully so, as the Cowboys offensive line opens up big enough holes for a Mack Truck to run through. Hurry up and put a claim in everybody. 

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: High RB2 w/ RB1 potential 

Carlos Hyde RB/San Francisco 49ers (58% Owned)

I have been waiting all year for the 9ers to unleash rookie second-round pick running back Carlos Hyde. With incumbent starter Frank Gore being forced to leave this weeks game with a concussion, the opportunity is there for Hyde to carve out a major role this weekend against San Diego.

Hyde has been the more effective runner this year and continued to show his potential as he racked up 55 yards on 6 carries against the vaunted Seahawks defense. However, the day did not go unblemished as Hyde also suffered a minor injury. Early reports said that Hyde injured his ankle, but after the game Hyde revealed that it was his back, not his ankle that was causing him issues.

If Gore is forced to miss this weekends game, Hyde would instantly become at the very least a mid-level RB2 against a Chargers defense that ranks in the middle of the pack against opposing running backs (17.7 FPPG). I would expect Hyde to be a hot-commodity on the waiver wire this week, so if you would like the opportunity to grab a talented player that has the workload potential of 20+ carries you had better have a higher priority selection this week.

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: RB2 w/Potential

Andre Williams RB/New York Giants (35.3% Owned)

The depth of waiver wire pick-ups this week is pretty thin, but my objective is to find players that have the potential to be a starter for you this weekend. Giants running back Andre Williams is owned in 35.3% of leagues right now, and with Rashad Jennings tweaking his ankle injury Williams could be in line for a major workload this weekend. 

The matchup for Williams against the Rams is not as owner-friendly as I would like, especially if I am asking him to be one of my top two running backs during the Fantasy Super Bowl. The Rams defense has allowed the 6th fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs on weekly basis, and has held opposing running backs under 100 yards rushing in five out of the last six weeks.

It will be hard for me to trust Williams as a viable RB2 this weekend with a tough matchup against the Rams. I would be much more comfortable playing Williams if you have the opportunity to start a third running back in your flex position.

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: Flex/Low Rb2

Jonathan Stewart RB/Carolina Panthers (68.9% Owned)

One of my biggest rules in fantasy football is to not put my trust in either the Patriots or Panthers' running backs in crucial fantasy weeks. However, with Jonathan Stewart being the only healthy option in the Panthers backfield and a juicy matchup ahead of him, Stewart is making me consider breaking my rule.

After posting a 20-carry performance for 155 yards in week 14, I would imagine that Stewart was a hot commodity on the waiver wire last week. Stewart did not do those owners who jumped the gun any favors, as he posted an underwhelming 73 yards on 22 carries against a Buccaneers defense that ranks in the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.

This weekend Stewart has another opportunity to post solid fantasy numbers as he goes up against a Browns defense that was gashed by Jeremy Hill to the tune of 148 yards and two touchdowns in week 15. With Cam Newton presumably returning to the starting lineup this weekend, I would expect the Panthers running game to the focal point of their offensive game plan.  If you're in one of the 18% of leagues that Stewart is still available in, I would highly recommend putting in a waiver claim.

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: RB2/High Flex

Dwayne Allen TE/Indianapolis Colts (44.9% Owned)

For the last four weeks, Coby Fleener took over for Dwayne Allen as the teams starting tight end while Allen was sidelined with an ankle injury. Now that Allen is once again healthy, I would expect him to become the primary pass-catcher out of the Colts tight ends once again.

It was a bad time for Luck to put up his worst fantasy performance of the year, as he posted just his second game under 200 passing yards this season. Allen returned to the Colts lineup in week 14 but was held to one reception for 5 yards while being limited to a part-time role. This week against the Texans Allen saved what was looking like a dud of a fantasy day, as he posted just two catches for 16 yards. Allen salvaged his day by hauling in a touchdown pass.

Next week I expect the Andrew Luck to bounce back in a major way against a Cowboys defense that ranks in the top-5 in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. Although Allen is a very touchdown-dependent fantasy option, with the Colts tendency to throw the ball near the goal line, and Allen leading the Colts in touchdown receptions (8). If Allen is still available I would highly recommend putting in a claim for the tight end.

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: TE1

Add at Own Risk

Kerwynn Williams RB/Arizona Cardinals (28.4% Owned)

I know that Williams has been at hot commodity over the last two weeks on the waiver wire, and rightfully so after posting 75 rushing yards in two straight games. However I have a feeling that the warm streak for Williams is about to come to an end this weekend as he matches up against a Seahawks' defense that has allowed the 4th fewest rushing yards this season.  Like the header says above, add Williams at your own risk folks.

Follow me, or send me additional questions on twitter @JoshMensch27

 

Published in Waiver Wire
Sunday, 02 November 2014 00:00

Week 9 boom or bust RBs

Week 9 is approaching and we are officially on the back end of the 2014 fantasy football season. Are you tired of your team yet? Have you officially labeled yourself a degenerate gambler after spending your kids college funds on a weekly fantasy football site? Well if that's the case, then that's dedication right there. I salute you.

Over the past week, there's been a few developments at the running back position. One is the injury to Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, and the other is the injury to Ravens RB Justin Forsett. Both injuries aren't severe, but could impact the starting matchups for Week 9. Jeremy Hill is a must start with A.J. Green back in the lineup keeping safeties more honest than George Washington. Forsett, on the other hand, may end up playing. So without further ado, here are your boom and bust RBs.

Start of the week

Arian Foster vs. Philadelphia — #2 in weekly rankings

Foster has turned into a fantasy monster once again after an injury-plagued 2013 left his value sandwiched between an RB2 at worst and RB1 when at best. He was an RB2 more often than not though.

This season, Foster is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, a scary good number when you consider he's averaging around 22 carries per game. He's rushed for more than 100 yards in all but one contest, and has strung together back-to-back four reception games. In short, Foster's value has skyrocketed just like we all thought when Bill O'Brien took over as offensive coordinator.

This week against Philly, Foster will deal with a rushing defense that ranks 21st in the league and is giving up more than 115 yards per game to running backs. Jadaveon Clowney is out, so Eagles quarterback Nick Foles should get a slight break with the pass rush. Philadelphia will likely keep moving the ball down the field as they've done all season and while that may impact Foster's rushing numbers slightly, the second best RB in fantasy should get some receptions if Houston has to throw their way back into the game.

Some under the rader potential booms

Lorenzo Taliaferro vs. Pittsburgh — #16 in weekly rankings

With Justin Forsett listed as probable, it's probably wise to only use Taliaferro as a flex guy in a deep league, but there's still lots of potential here. The Steelers have given up seven touchdowns to running backs this season (20th worst in the league) and are coming off one of their worst defensive efforts of the year despite defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8.

Forsett will likely be the starter, but Taliaferro could easily snag a goal line touchdown or two if Forsett comes out a bit slow. Taliaferro is averaging a solid 4.4 yards per carry and the Ravens defeated the Steelers handily 26-6 earlier in the season.

isaiah Crowell vs. Tampa Bay — Unranked

Yes, we didn't rank Crowell and opted to list Ben Tate way too high, which deserves a 'come on man.' To make it up to you, we'll talk about Tate's struggles. He's only averaging 3.6 yards per carry in a run-based offense with a coaching staff that considers him a bellcow. He's also coming off a game where he averaged a measly 1.7 yards per carry against a bad Oakland run defense. He's got only one 100-yard game so far this season and aside from a two-touchdown effort against Pittsburgh, hasn't been much of a factor on the goal line.

Enter Crowell. There's been talks around the Cleveland locker room that Crowell could be in line for more carries this week against the Buccaneers. The rookie out of Alabama State already has one more touchdown (4) than Tate and is slowly starting to create a buzz in the backfield. Tampa Bay ranks 23rd in the league in rushing defense so even if Tate plays well, expect Crowell to see some of the workload and hopefully grab a touchdown in the event of a blowout.

Owners beware

Andre Williams vs. Indianapolis — Unranked

With starting RB Rashad Jennings still sidelined and the Colts' defense surrendering a ton of yardage to Pittsburgh last week, it may be tempting to think Williams is in line for a big day. But that's not the case this week. The Colts are expected to have cornerback Vontae Davis back for an entire game. Davis' physical play has been a nuisance to nearly every receiver he's covered and more importantly, has allowed the Colts to blitz more which causes all sorts of problems for the offense. Expect the Colts' defense in Week 9 to resemble the defense of Week 7 that shut down Giovani Bernard and the Cincinnati Bengals.

As for Williams, he hasn't shown much since taking over for Jennings in Week 4. He's a plodding back who needs to get running down hill before in order to plow over defenders. While that style has been effective at times, Williams hasn't rattled off a carry longer than 23 yards and is averaging a mediocre 3.1 yards per carry. He's likely to be shut down on Monday night.

 View Keith Allison's Flickr page here.

 

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Sleepers and busts for Week 6

We’re past week 5 and owners of fantasy teams are starting to know if they have what it takes to compete for a title, and if not what holes they’ll need to fill in order to be the ones blasting everyone’s favorite Queen song come week 16. As a superstition, I don’t mention this song by name until the season is over and it’s time to sing, but it rhymes with See Bar Va Trampions. 

However, it’s another Queen song that owners everywhere are sick and tired of hearing each and every Sunday and this one I have no problem mentioning……'Another One Bites The Dust.' This week it was the owners of first round picks everywhere Montee Ball, Jimmy Graham, and Calvin Johnson who cried themselves to sleep because they just couldn’t get this song out of their heads. I’m really just kidding I actually love Queen and each and every one of their songs but they just have the perfect song title for the theme of the 2014 NFL season. Three more first round picks down.…..aaaaand AJ Green just got carted off the field in Wednesday’s practice as I’m writing this. Sing along everyone….. DA DA DA….Another One Bites The Dust.

With the injuries and suspensions piling up exponentially and with teams we very much care about in the fantasy world on a bye this week (Saints, Chiefs) you may be wracking your brain about who to start.  Well fear not, I’ve got your answer to the sneaky good plays and some guys to avoid if possible in this week’s edition of 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 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'm 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. 

Without further ado, your week 6 Sleepers and Busts: 

Sleeper QBs:

·        Brian Hoyer vs. Pittsburgh. With the return of Ben Tate and an extra week of rest for Jordan Cameron, the Browns came off the bye completely healthy on offense for the first time this season and I must say, I came away thoroughly impressed. Brian Hoyer showed why he is the unquestioned starter leading a comeback after a 28-3 deficit, but I don’t think that Hoyer’s results (292 yards 3 TD 1 INT) were the product of playing from behind, as the Browns stuck with the run totaling 36 carries for 175 yards. The offense is balanced with 3 very good RBs to choose from in Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West, quality possession pass catchers to move the chains in Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin and Jordan Cameron, and two burners in Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel both of whom are making big plays. The offensive line has never been an issue with Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas and Alex Mack leading the way, but finally the skill position players are in place to make this a powerful offense. This is not a Pittsburgh matchup specific entry; although I do think it helps Hoyer that he’s already seen Pittsburgh in week 1. Hoyer is poised, has weapons in place to succeed and is being under rated in general.  His INT this week was his first turnover of the season and he has 6 TDs. He’s a sleeper this week as a confident QB coming home after a huge road win. He opposes a beat up Pittsburgh defense and he’s a QB to roster and sometimes use in the right matchup going forward.

I’d Start Brian Hoyer over:  Austin Davis, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton

·        Ryan Tannehill vs. Green Bay. This is a case of having the right matchup at the right time. The Dolphins are coming off a bye week, are playing at home, and head coach Joe Philbin will have had 2 weeks to game plan for a defense that he coached against in practice each and every day from 2007-2011, the Packers. Sure the Packers rank 3rd against fantasy QBs this season but the stats are skewed since two of those games were against QBs who should not be starting games in the NFL, Christian Ponder and Geno Smith. With two weeks to prepare, Joe Philbin will have the time needed to transfer every bit of knowledge he has about the Packers to his offense, which will allow Ryan Tannehill to make great reads and decisions. Tannehill dominated the Raiders to the tune of an insane 94.0 QBR and will build upon his success this week with the aid of his head coach. In 2 QB leagues where you don’t have 2 of the top QBs, he’s a must start. However, in 1 QB leagues, I recommend him as a bye week fill in for Brees or a pure matchup play.

I’d Start Ryan Tannehill over: Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Charlie Whitehurst. 

Bust QBs:

·        Cam Newton at Cincinnati. Cam Newton just went off against the Bears so owners out there may try to see if he can keep the momentum going this week at Cincinnati. I’d advise against it. Even after allowing a big game to Tom Brady last week, and despite also playing against Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, the Bengals are the No. 2 fantasy defense against QBs. Thus far, they've allowed only 4 TDs through the air vs. 5 INTs, picking up where they left off in 2013 when they finished as the No. 7 defense against QBs. Both the offense and defense has something to prove after being embarrassed in New England and I honestly feel bad for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers for having this matchup this week. Especially because Cam hasn’t shown that he’s ready to start running and getting points via his feet, this is a must bench.

I’d Start the following players over Cam Newton:   Austin Davis, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Mike Glennon      

·        Tony Romo at Seattle.  In 2013, the Seahawks dominated throughout the regular season and the playoffs en route to their Super Bowl victory. Their dominance enters an unmatched level when they’re at home with the 12th man. To show just how dominant they've been, in 2013 while playing at home, the Seattle defense allowed QBs to throw for 8 TDs vs. 16 INTs. Even more impressive is their start this season at home where Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have combined for only 3 TDs and 2 INTs. In other words, even if you’re Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, you’re not going to do too well in Seattle. If you don’t see where I’m going with this yet, then rethink your participation in fantasy football. Sure he’s a hot QB coming off back to back big weeks but I assure you we’re about to see the bad Romo and it’s not even his fault. Seattle is just too good. Don’t be fooled, keep him benched.

I’d Start the following players over Tony Romo:  Austin Davis, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco

Sleeper RBs:

·        Steven Jackson vs. Chicago.  There’s nothing sexy about what Steven Jackson has been doing but there is plenty of use for a RB in a high scoring offense who knows how to convert from the goal line. He scored this past week against a tough Giants front 4 and his unsexy usefulness will be on full display once again against the Bears. The Falcons are down a few offensive lineman but the unit held up well against the Giants in their first test. With Safety Chris Conte, DT Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Shea McClellin and LB Jon Bostic injured, the Bears simply can’t stop anybody right now and they’re not about to figure it out in Atlanta. This past week Chris Ogbonnaya converted from the goal line against the Bears and now it’s Steven Jackson’s turn to do the same. Jackson will have multiple redzone opportunities, as this game projects to be a shootout and it wouldn’t surprise me to see multiple scores for him from inside the 5. Fire up the old reliable SJax as an RB2.

I’d start Steven Jackson over:  Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Williams, Justin Forsett, Lamar Miller

·        Fred Jackson vs. New England.  Everyone sees that Fred Jackson is an old man at a position where old men normally do not succeed. They also see that CJ Spiller is a young fast man where speed and youth usually do succeed. Well everyone can throw that all out the window when it comes to the Bills RB situation. Fred Jackson is the No. 12 RB overall in .5 PPR leagues through 5 weeks.  Surprised?  I’m not sure why because he was the No. 11 RB overall just last season. Jackson is heavily involved in both the running game and passing game and he’s not going anywhere. He’s caught 21 passes in the last 3 games and has gone over 100 yards in 2 of them. Oh, and he’s also the goal line guy. Doesn’t matter what the game situation is, he'll be involved. He’s being vastly underrated in rankings and is a fine RB2 every week. Here’s a bonus stat for you…going back to 2012, Fred Jackson totaled over 100 total yards in 3 out of 4 games against NE and has scored 3 TD in 4 games against them. Get Fast Freddie in the lineup on Sunday.

I’d Start Fred Jackson over:  Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Williams, Justin Forsett, Lamar Miller, Steven Jackson, Shane Vereen

Bust RBs:

·        Andre Williams at Philadelphia. Andre Williams went from handcuff to “must start” in the blink of an eye or more appropriately, the tweak of a knee. He’s been ranked in the top 10 of many lists for the coming week but I’m warning you, in the words of Heisenberg, “tread lightly”. Andre Williams is a non-factor in the passing game. In fact at 5’4” 180 Lbs, I caught as many passes in my 2013 college football season as Andre Williams did in his……yep we both caught ZERO. He’s a TD dependent RB and the Eagles defense against RBs is below average at 20th in the league but it’s not all that bad. Also as a Giants fan, I know that there will be a lot more Peyton Hillis or dare I say Michael Cox in the game than fantasy owners and Giants fans will want to see.  If he doesn’t get in the endzone, then he’s a guy who can be held to 6 or less fantasy points. I do think the game will be close and either team can win, but if there was going to be a blowout in either direction I’d have to give the chances of it happening to the Eagles since they are the home team. If this happened, Williams would be a complete bust. He’s not a must bench by any means but don’t over react to what you saw against the worst rushing defense in the NFL, the Falcons. Be careful and be smart about it.

I’d start the following players over Andre Williams:   LeSean McCoy, Branden Oliver, Ben Tate, Alfred Morris, Fred Jackson

·        Lamar Miller vs. Green Bay. I’m basing this bust on Knowshon Moreno being active. He’s been practicing since Wednesday so it looks like he’ll be good to go. For some reason some sites who update their rankings daily still have Lamar Miller listed in their top 20 RBs. Moreno was so impressive in the Fins week 1 victory over the Patriots with 134 yards on the ground and a TD, while out touching Lamar Miller 24-15, and dominating the snaps 45-28.Green Bay’s defense is ranked 22nd against the run but if the rushing opportunities won’t be there then I just don’t understand the high ranking of Miller.Too much uncertainty for my liking. If Moreno is inactive then forget everything I said and Miller is a fine RB2.

I’d start the following players over Lamar Miller:  Fred Jackson, Steven Ridley, Justin Forsett, Matt Asiata, Shane Vereen, Chris Ivory, Andre Williams, Ronnie Hillman

Sleeper WRs:

·        Percy Harvin vs. Dallas.  Percy Harvin had an incredible week 5 but if you weren’t watching the game you wouldn’t know it by his 4 catches and 34 total yards. He had THREE TDs called back by penalties that had just about nothing to do with him scoring on the play. He deserved three TDs and he had zero.  Seattle is one of the only teams who can specifically control who is going to score for them based on their play calling (Denver does this too, check out what they did to get Demaryius the record last week).  So many of their plays are so effective that when they’re in the redzone they pick and choose who they want to score and it just happens.  I’m not exaggerating.  Just watch a couple of Seattle games and let me know what you think.  This is especially true when they are at home and are in complete control of the game, which they will be this week against Dallas.  Seattle will go out of their way this week to give Harvin the TD or TDs he deserved to have.  Big big week coming.

I’d Start Percy Harvin over:  Kelvin Benjamin, Brian Quick, TY Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree, Terrence Williams

·        Justin Hunter vs. Jacksonville. Everyone’s favorite preseason darling at WR has been a bust as the number 58 WR through 5 weeks. However, we finally saw what he was capable of this past week against the Browns when he caught 3 balls for 99 yards and a TD. One short play and one deep play stood out to me in particular. Hunter took a WR screen that looked like it would go nowhere but he juked to his left and used his explosiveness to run right, faking out two browns defensive backs and outran a LB barreling his way forward for an extra two yards en route to an 11 yard gain. Then off play action, he ran a go route up the right sideline totally burning Browns CB Buster Skrine for an easy 75 yard TD. Charlie Whitehurst put the deep ball exactly where it needed to be. Whitehurst’s willingness to take shots down field is why I am recommending Hunter this week. He gets Jacksonville next, the worst team against WRs in the NFL. Nobody on the Jacksonville defense can match Hunter’s athleticism or speed and he will make big plays, but I also think he’ll be used in a few more smaller plays as well. He’s too risky a start in 2 WR leagues but he’s a sleeper in 3 WR leagues this week and is a high upside flex option as well.

 I’d start Justin Hunter over:   Terrence Williams, Sammy Watkins, Andrew Hawkins, Allen Robinson

Bust WRs:

·        Dez Bryant at Seattle.  Before you all flip out, I’M NOT RECOMMENDING YOU BENCH DEZ BRYANT. I’m just taming your expectations for this week. If you somehow have 2-3 other WRs who are in the top 15 then that’s the only way you can think about benching him. He’s going up against Richard Sherman in Seattle and it’s just going to be a bad game for him. Pierre Garcon was Sherman’s latest victim catching only 2 balls for 23 yards. Demaryius Thomas (31 yards) and Keenan Allen (55 yards) were put on lock in Seattle’s prior two games. Sorry Dez, it’s your turn.  

I’d start the following players over Dez Bryant:  Jeremy Maclin, Emmanuel Sanders, Victor Cruz, Roddy White

·        Kelvin Benjamin at Cincinnati.  I’m doubling down on Carolina busts (See Cam Newton in the Bust QB section) for the same reasons. Cincinnati is not a team I’d want to face right now in Cincy after they were embarrassed last week on national TV. With AJ Green out, the offense will play ball control using both RBs to run clock and try to keep the game low scoring. The defense will be hyped up about how they’ll need to step up in AJ Green’s absence. Very few teams should want to play against Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict when they have chips on their shoulders. Through 2 games they’ve only allowed 17 points at home, including a game against a high powered Atlanta offense. Leon Hall will cover Benjamin and he’s good enough to limit him in a game where Cincy’s defensive line and LBs will be all over Newton. If you are not deep at WR, you can still have him in there as a WR3 but keep him out in 2 WR leagues. 

I’d start the following players over Kelvin Benjamin:  Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Michael Crabtree, Reggie Wayne, Reuben Randle

Sleeper TE:

·        Owen Daniels at Tampa Bay.  TEs against TB: Greg Olsen 8 rec. 83 yds and a TD.  Heath Miller 10 rec. 85 yds and a TD.  Even Josh Hill’s 3 rec. and 53 yards after taking over for Jimmy Graham is encouraging.  As the 26th defense against the TE, Tampa Bay simply has trouble keeping a body on them.  I’m going with 6 catches for 70 yards and a TD.  Start him as a low end TE1.

I’d start Owen Daniels over:  Larry Donnell, Dwayne Allen, Eric Ebron, Jordan Cameron, Timothy Wright    

Bust TE:

·        Timothy Wright at Buffalo.  I’m sure Timothy Wright will be everyone’s hot pickup at TE now because of the big game he had in the Patriots dismantling of the Bengals. Let’s make this clear.  He’s not Aaron Hernandez.  And I don’t mean that he won’t kill multiple people. I mean he’s not as good at football. He put up big numbers with 5 rec. for 85 yds and a TD but he only played 19 snaps. The Pats surprised the Bengals with his utilization but that element of surprise will not be there this week against a very good Bills defense that ranks 14th against TEs. Wright is worth a stash simply because he has ability and he’s a top TE if Rob Gronkowski goes down. He’s nothing more than a middle of the road TE2 going forward.

I’d start the following players over Timothy Wright:  Heath Miller, Zach Ertz, Clay Harbor, Jared Cook

Good luck in week 6 and may you not be driven crazy by that dreaded Queen song.

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 00:00

Week 6 pickups: part II

Top Additions

3.    Eli Manning QB/New York Giants (57% Owned)

After posting a dismal 3:4 touchdown to interception ratio in the first two weeks of the season, Manning has looked like a completely different quarterback during the last three weeks. Manning has thrown for at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in each of the past three weeks, and finally looks comfortable in Ben McAdoo’s west coast offense.

The Giants offense is finally starting to produce like I thought they would at the start of season. With rookie wide receiver O’dell Beckham finally healthy after battling hamstring issues most of the offseason, the Giants suddenly have one of the deeper groups of receiver in the league. With Victor Cruz drawing double teams on a regular basis there will be opportunities for Beckham, Donell, and the rest of the Giants receivers to make plays against single-coverage. 

Manning draws another friendly matchup against an Eagles secondary that is allowing the fourth-most passing yards per game, as well as giving up a league-high 13 passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. If you're an owner dealing with a bye week, or you stream quarterbacks based on the matchups, I highly recommend adding Manning for this owner-friendly matchup.

4.    Dwayne Allen TE/Indianapolis Colts (72% Owned)

After producing double-digit fantasy points in four of the first five weeks of the season, the time is now to finally take Dwayne Allen as a legitimate TE1 in fantasy football. Aside from the dud performance in week two, Allen has had at least three receptions and a touchdown in every game.

When the Colts drafted college teammates Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener in the same draft class, many thought their chemistry from college would carry over to the pro game. However, it is Allen that has been the more reliable target thus far, totaling more catches (15-11), and touchdowns (4-2).

While Allen has yet to top 60 receiving yards in a game is a little bit concerning, with the lack of depth at the tight end position this season, and quarterback Andrew Luck coming into his own as one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL, I will take my chances with Allen on a weekly basis.

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: Lower TE1

5.    Andre Williams RB/New York Giants (56% Owned)

With Rashad Jennings possibly out for week 6, rookie Andre Williams has a chance to build a role for himself within the Giants offense. Williams did not show much big play ability on Sunday after finishing with a mediocre 65 yards on 20 carries (3.1 YPC) and one touchdown.

If Williams is going to make an impact for the Giants it will have to be running the football as he offers nothing in the passing game. It will be interesting to see how the Giants will split up snaps with Williams and third-string running back Peyton Hillis when it gets to obvious passing situations.

If Jennings is forced to miss week 6, Williams has a chance to explode against an Eagles rush defense that is giving up the seventh most rushing yards per game so far this season. Even though Williams will likely return to a reserve role once Jennings is healthy, he should be able to carve out a productive afternoon is Jennings is ruled out.

Recommendation: Stash and See

Value: RB4 with Potential

6.    Brian Quick WR/St. Louis Rams (66% Owned)

I have to admit I have been late to the Brian Quick party this year, not because I was not aware of his production, but because I wanted to see if Austin Davis would be able to handle the pressure of being an NFL quarterback.

Quick has been a stud so far this season, having at least 7 catches or a touchdown in every game this season. The trend did not change this weekend against he putrid Eagles secondary, as Quick reeled in 5 of his team-high 9 targets for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Going forward Quick is going to have a chance to prove if his early-season success is a trend or mirage, having some tough matchups in the coming weeks. In a five-week span, the Rams to play San Francisco twice, Seattle once, and Arizona once. Quick has shown a great rapport with quarterback Austin Davis so far this season, which is makes him an intriguing fantasy option going forward since Davis will be the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: Low WR2/High WR3

Players to Monitor

1.    Justin Hunter WR/Tennessee Titans

Hunter finally showed a pulse in week 5, connecting on a 76-yard touchdown from Charlie Whitehurst. Hunter finished the day with three receptions for 99 yards and the previously mentioned touchdown. Hunter has the most potential of any of the Titans receivers, but with Charlie Whitehurst under center Hunter’s potential will be limited.

2.    Antone Smith RB/Atlanta Falcons

In limited time this season, third-year running back Antone Smith has given some much-needed big play ability to the Falcons running game. Scoring in double-digits in three of the first five weeks of the season, Smith is making a case to become more involved in the offense. However with veteran Steven Jackson still around it will take an injury for Smith to be a reliable fantasy option, but he should be on the radar of all fantasy owners going forward.

3.    Bobby Rainey RB/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rainey continues to show why some believe he will ultimately replace Doug Martin as the teams starting running back. It will take an injury, or the common sense of the Bucs coaching staff to get Rainey more involved in the offense. Keep him on your radar, as I have a feeling he will be called upon sooner rather than later to carry a heavier workload.

4.    Benny Cunningham RB/St. Louis Rams

Zac Stacy was forced from Sunday’s game with a calf injury, giving Cunningham an opportunity to take hold of the starting running back job in St. Louis. Stacy’s availability for this weekend is still cloudy, so monitor this situation as the week progresses.

5.    Tim Wright TE/New England Patriots

Finally the Patriots offense looked like what most people expected it to when they acquired Timothy Wright in a trade this offseason. Using two tight end sets most of the night, Wright was a total mismatch for Bengals linebackers in coverage, finishing with 5 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. While I am not ready to say the Patriots found their new Aaron Hernandez quite yet, he is worth putting on your radar as he has some favorable matchups with the Jets, Bears, and Colts in the near future.

View Keith Allison's Flickr page here

6.

 

Published in Waiver Wire
Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00

Week 6 pickups

Another week in fantasy football, and another week of new faces creeping onto the radar. This week saw some top players go down with injuries including Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (groin), Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson (ankle) and San Diego Chargers running back Donald Brown (concussion). There were also a few rookies who entered the fantasy rader. Here are this week's top waiver wire pickups.

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver (owned in 12% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: In his first ever game seeing a majority of carries, Oliver lit up a Jets defense that came into the game ranked sixth overall against the run and giving up an average of 83 rushing yards per game. Oliver finished with 182 total yards combined rushing and receiving and a score. At 5'8, Oliver is an undersized speedster that displayed great burst through the hole and looked far superior to anybody else in the Charger backfield.

With Ryan Mathews still 2-3 weeks away from returning and Danny Woodhead out for the season, it's likely Oliver remains the top guy for Week 6 at leaast. He's a great plug in guy if you have a few running backs on a bye, and his versatility in the run and passing game makes him a good add in all formats. The Chargers play the Oakland Raiders next week, a team that's giving up 158 yards per game on average to running backs.

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: We already touched on Beckham Jr. on our podcast earlier, but he's worth mentioning as a solid waiver wire add this week. Beckham Jr. posted a 4/44/1 line in his debut with the Giants and saw a healthy five targets and his touchdown came at a key moment in the game which is often a great confidence builder. It's looking like he'll be firmly entrenched as the team's No. 3 receiver and while he's still a rookie and will likely be inconsistent from time to time, he's still valuable since he fills a much-needed void in terms of WR depth on the Giants' roster. He also gets a good matchup against a Philadelphia team that surrendered three touchdowns and 341 passing yards to Austin Davis and the Rams. Beckham Jr. is an instant flex add in 12-to-14 team leagues.

Cleveland Browns WR Taylor Gabriel (owned in 0% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: After starting the season off slow with just 18 receiving yards in two games, the rookie has strung together back-to-back games of at least 80 receiving yards. At 5'8, Gabriel is undersized and relies on the big play to accrue the majority of his yards, but he's being utilized in the offense and the Browns have a soft stretch in their schedule coming up with their next three opponents consisting of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. Gabriel is probably only worth adding in 14-team leagues at this point, but he's not a terrible option considering his matchups.

Owen Daniels TE Baltimore Ravens (owned in 42% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: Daniels led the Ravens in receiving with five grabs for 70 yards on seven targets. Daniels could be a good bye-week filler if you're short on tight ends in Week 6 for a few reasons. While he's not very explosive, he has reliable hands (reeled in 19 of his 27 targets), is always a threat for a red zone score and he'll be matched up against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 30th against the pass this Sunday.

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: With Montee Ball sidelined with a groin injury, Hillman finished with 64 yards on 15 carries. If Ball expects to miss a significant amount of time, Hillman will likely be the guy to fill the void with C.J. Anderson peppered in as well. Lauded at times for his struggles in pass protection which is a deal breaker when keeping quarterback Peyton Manning upright, Hillman doesn't present a ton of upside and his stats may suffer if the Broncos opt to go with a committee-style attack. Still, he'll still be running the ball on one of the most potent offenses in the league. He'll have opportunities to score.

View Chad Cooper's flickr page here.

Published in Waiver Wire
Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00

Episode 18: First Aid (Week 5)

George and Scott do their usual fantasy breakdown of two matchups this week, and assess the damage of the week that was in the NFL. Plus, they hand out weekly awards and discuss things to do in Wyoming.

Matchup No. 1 (Atlanta vs. New York Giants)

Two rookies came out of the woodwork in this one and are must owns in all leagues going forward. Andre Williams and Odell Beckham Jr. both shined in New York's victory over Atlanta. Filling in for an injured Rashad Jennings, Williams put his violent running style on full display, trucking defenders on his way to 65 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries.

It was a solid day for Williams considering this was the first time he has been thrust into the starting role as a rookie. The offensive line of the Giants provided good blocking at times (especially the tight ends who helped seal the outside on a lot of off tackle plays) and Williams made the most out of it. Depending on Jennings' status going forward, we could see Williams take on a more substantial role within the offense.

In the receiving game, rookie first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. (owned in just 9% of Yahoo! Leagues) scored a touchdown on a crucial play in his first NFL start. He saw five targets, which was third behind Reuben Randle (10) and Victor Cruz (6) but he made the most out of them. He caught four passes for 44 yards, and already clued spectators in as to how efficient he could be. Factor in his return yards and this is a natural receiver you want to get your hands on if you're high on the waiver wire. The Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles this week, a team that's been susceptible to the pass (they allowed 3 touchdowns from Austin Davis this week and let Kirk Cousins throw for more than 400 yards on them.) Eagles linebacker DeMaco Ryans also left the game and if he's hurt, then Week 6 could be a big day for the Giants offense.

Matchup No. 2 (Detroit vs. Buffalo)

This game was all about two things — Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson. Already not 100 percent coming in, Johnson aggravated the same ankle that was bothering him after he took a hit from Bills CB Leodis McKelvin. He left the game after recording just one catch for seven yards. His status for Week 6 will be monitored closely no doubt.

Tate flourished in Johnson's absence, finishing with 7 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 9 targets. Tate now has put together back-to-back 100-yard performances and is on pace for 1,014 yards and 3 touchdowns. He's a WR2 with WR1 upside in a high-powered offense riddled with injuries to receivers and running backs.

The rushing game was non-existent for both teams, with both teams combining for a little over 100 yards rushing. Fred Jackson was the top rusher for Buffalo, finishing with 10 carries for 49 yards while George Winn led Detroit with 11 carries for 48 yards. Expect starter Joique Bell to return as the Lions top rusher in Week 6 after being sidelined with a concussion for Week 5. Jackson remains a solid flex play due to his versatility (he caught 7 passes for 58 yards as well).

Rookie Sammy Watkins continued to impress for Buffalo, catching 7 passes for 87 yards on a team-high 12 targets. He's a WR2/3 going forward but will likely be hampered by the Bills' situation at quarterback. Speaking of, Kyle Orton finished 30-of-43 for 308 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

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