On Tuesday's edition of First Aid. The Helpers discuss the Bears/Cowboys and Eagles/Seahawks and give their fantasy implications for those players in Week 15. Plus weekly awards and a little venting on fluky week 14 was in some instances.
On this weeks' diagnosis edition, the Helpers discuss playoff sleepers for the teams lucky enough to make the playoffs. If you're worried about your flex, WR3, QB1 or RB1/2, then hopefully we can help guide you with some guys we think are bound for success in Week 14.
Sleeper quarterbacks (listen to podcast for more)
Alex Smith (owned in 36% of leagues)
If quarterback is your weakness, then you might consider starting Smith this week against an Arizona team that's struggling on offense. The Cardinals' woes when it comes to moving the ball are wearing down their defense, as evidenced by the team giving up 19 and 20 points in the last two games to quarterbacks. Over the last five games, Smith has totaled 16, 21, 4, 15, 19 fantasy points. His one dud in that sequence came against the Seattle Seahawks, and the Arizona Cardinals are a far cry from Seattle on defense right now. Their best cornerback in Patrick Peterson was torched last week by Julio Jones.
Zach Mettenberger (owned in 5% of leagues)
Mettenberger is lucky to get a Giants team that struggled to stop Jacksonville and rookie quarterback Blake Bortles last week. Mettenberger has demonstrated the ability to score points, and this matchup should help him come close to multiple touchdowns.
Sleeper running backs
Andre Williams (owned in 51% of leagues)
We mentioned Williams earlier in the week, so we won't go into too much detail. But he's a worthy flex play if you have him on your bench. You probably can't pick him up as he's owned in over half the leagues currently.
Matt Asiata (owned in 35% of leagues)
Jerick McKinnon may be out after not practicing for the second straight day. Asiata will likely be the head running back against a New York Jets team that's without one of its best defenders in Muhammad Wilkerson.
Sleeper wide receivers
Donte Moncrief (owned in 25% of leagues)
It's surprising to see Moncrief only owned in 25% of leagues and yet it's also not. He can pile up yardage when he gets targets, but he's often overshadowed by the likes of Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne. Well, he played in more snaps than Nicks for the first all season last week, a game where he flourished with over 100 yards receiving. The Indianapolis Colts play the Cleveland Browns this week, and All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden will likely match up with Indy's top WR in T.Y. Hilton. There's a dropoff after Haden in terms of talent at the corner position, meaning Moncrief may have a chance to flourish with Hilton drawing so much attention. Luck could target him on the under route, which is where Moncrief can do a lot of damage after the catch.
Nate Washington (owned in 2% of leagues)
With Kendall Wright's status in jeopardy, Washington could see time in the No. 1 role for the Titans this week. He's among the most available players on the waiver wire this week and has posted fantasy totals of 14, 6 and 12 over his last three games. He's been reliable and could be a nice flex play if you feel like your current guy isn't good enough.
On a special Thanksgiving edition of Diagnosis, the Helpers break down each game on the Thanksgiving slate including the Eagles/Cowboys, 49ers/Seahawks and Bears/Lions. They talk about every relevant fantasy player in those matchups and finish the podcast by sending out love letters of thanks to the players who have helped them throughout the fantasy season on their own fantasy teams. Also, check out our weekly rankings here.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Mark Sanchez — Sanchez has been playing adequately in replacement of Nick Foles, and is a solid QB1 option against a bad Dallas secondary. While Sanchez is prone to turnovers (he's averaging about two interceptions per game) the high octane offense of the Philadelphia Eagles combined with the good matchup should keep him in the 15-20 point range.
Tony Romo — Romo is in line for a big week. The Eagles have one of the worst defenses against the quarterback, surrendering 19.5 points per game. Only the New York Jets allow more. He's a must-start for Week 12.
DeMarco Murray — Obviously a must start, Eagles are better against the run than the pass, but the offensive line of Dallas is far and away the best in the league right now. Expect another 100 yard rushing day.
LeSean McCoy — McCoy is finally starting to recapture the elusiveness that helped him claim the rushing title last season. When he makes guys miss in the open field, he rattles off big gains. McCoy found the end zone last week and recorded his first game of 100-plus rushing and a score. He's a must start this week.
Jeremy Maclin — A must-start WR1 as always. With 980 receiving yards on the season, Maclin is ready to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career. He remains one of the best ADP draft bargains of 2014.
Jordan Matthews — Continues to thrive as the No. 2 receiver with Sanchez under center. It's impossible for Matthews not to be productive based on Sanchez's strengths in the intermediate game.
Dez Bryant — Clear cut WR1 in a great matchup. Bryant should near 100 yards and find the end zone at least once this week.
Terrance Williams — Not startable due to a low volume of targets, but the Eagles do give up quite a few points to receivers. If you're very desperate, there's some upside to this matchup.
Zach Ertz (sleeper*) — The Cowboys are one of the worst teams in the league at defending the tight end, giving up 10.1 fantasy points per week to tight ends on average. They've also given up a league-worst 72 receptions to tight ends on the year. Vernon Davis, Larry Donnell and Jimmy Graham have all carved them up.
Jason Witten — Remains a very solid TE2 against a defense that hasn't fared well against tight ends with DeMeco Ryans out.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford — We know he's played bad recently, but Stafford has a great matchup at home against a bad defense. He's a great option this week.
Jay Cutler — Rated our No.17 QB in our weekly rankings, Cutler continues to struggle with turnovers and overall poor production. The only upside is the Bears will likely be down in this game early which could mean plenty of garbage time yards. He's a QB2.
Reggie Bush — He's expected to start today, and is a desperate play even with a good matchup. Still, the Lions could use some help at running back as they're one of the worst rushing teams in the league. There's some element of home run potential here.
Joique Bell — Still a great flex play in PPR leagues.
Matt Forte — Don't be scared off by the tough matchup even for a second, Forte's one of the best receivers out of the backfield in the league right now. Any rushing yards negated by a tough Lions run defense should be made up for in the passing game.
Brandon Marshall — Played much better lately, he's got 8 touchdowns on the year but three of those came in one game against San Francisco. He's still a must start in 12-team leagues.
Alshon Jeffery — Wide receiver who is always a must start. He's scored three touchdowns in the last four games.
Calvin Johnson — Megatron could be in line for his best game of the season. The Bears will be without their top defensive back in Kyle Fuller and Johnson has seen target numbers of 15,12, and 10 in his last three games.
Golden Tate — Tate is a solid WR2 in a plus matchup. His 97 receiving yards were a lone bright spot against New England last week, and he's already eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the first time in his career.
Martellus Bennett — A guy who doesn't get enough credit. Bennett struggled last week but also strung together a 134-yard effort against the Green Bay Packers. The Lions one weak spot comes in defending tight ends, so Bennett has upside in this matchup.
Eric Ebron (sleeper*) — Injuries have slowed what was expected to be a good rookie season for one of the top tight ends of the 2014 draft. Ebron has a great matchup against the Bears, who rank dead last against the tight end (10.9 fantasy points per game). Expect Stafford to look for him in the red zone.
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 going forward. Plus weekly awards and a preview for tonight's game with the Pittsburgh Steelers/Tennessee Titans.
On Monday's episode of First Aid, the Helpers discuss Ryan Tannehill's career performance and what it means for the Dolphins fantasy value going forward. They also hand out their weekly awards and discuss tonight's Monday night matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants.
San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill owners got to see something special on Sunday, and that something was the best game of Tannehill's young career. The 2012 first round draft pick went 24-for-34 for 288 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran four times for 47 yards and finished with just under 40 fantasy points for the day.
Tannehill owners should temper expectations in the coming weeks though, as the Dolphins face tough defenses in Buffalo, Detroit and Denver over the next three weeks. Not to say Tannehill can't put up solid numbers against those defenses, he can, but it's out of line Tannehill to put up QB1 numbers every week. He hasn't thrown for three touchdowns once this season, and achieved the feat just four times in two and a half seasons.
Philip Rivers flipped on the opposite day switch and played nothing like a quarterback who came into this game with one of the best TD:INT ratios in the NFL at 20:5. I guess you could say Rivers was due for a bad game after such a great first half of the season, but it didn't make his performance any less bearable. Rivers went just 12-for-23 for 138 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. It was the first game Rivers didn't throw a touchdown which was surprising considering the receiving core was healthy and Branden Oliver has proven to be a force in the backfield.
A big reason why Rivers had so much trouble was due to the pressure he was under throughout the game. Led by Cameron Wake and Rishard Matthews, the Dolphins got consistent pressure and forced Rivers to unload the ball before he wanted to. The Dolphins sacked Rivers three times and forced one fumble on the day, which they also recovered. The Dolphins defense finished with 22 fantasy points in standard leagues and has now strung together back-to-back games of scoring at least 20 points. They're only owned in about 40 percent of Yahoo! Leagues also.
As for the running game, Lamar Miller didn't post spectacular numbers but was very efficient none the less for Miami. Miller rushed for 49 yards on 11 carries and added a touchdown as well. The Dolphins' line did a good job creating lanes for him to run through and while Miller didn't approach 100 yards, he gave Tannehill much more freedom in the pocket because the run game was working so well.
On the other side, Branden Oliver struggled for the second straight week. Oliver was consistently bottled up in the backfield and finished with 13 carries for 19 yards (1.5 YPC). It's safe to consider benching Oliver in non-PPR leagues as Ryan Mathews will likely return to the lineup after the Chargers' Week 10 bye. Oliver has proven to be a nice change of pace back who can catch the ball out of the backfield not unlike Danny Woodhead did last year for San Diego, but it' s looking more and more like the 5'8 Oliver may not have the size to be an every down back in the NFL.
As part of their special mid season edition of the podcast, the Helpers go over their favorite surprises, busts and waiver wire pickups at the midpoint of the fantasy football season. They also vent their frustrations in the 'I can't bench this guy because ________' segment.
All surprise team
QB — Tom Brady
Why he's a surprise: Brady has thrown for 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions since the Pats blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night. Brady is the No. 6 fantasy quarterback this season and a healthy Rob Gronkowski has had a lot to do with that.
RB — Ahmad Bradshaw
Why he's a surprise: The Colts have perfected the way to use him. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry and has eight total touchdowns. His ADP was the 34th best RB and he's in the top 5 right now.
RB — Christopher Ivory
Why he's a surprise: Drafted as the 46th best running back and has helped the Jets become one of the best run teams in the league. Ivory is on pace for 1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns.
WR — Jeremy Maclin
Why he's a surprise: Maclin is finally breaking out after a series of seasons where he disappointed. Drafted like a WR3 due to his injury last year and inconsistent play throughout his career, Maclin is currently the No. 3 receiver in all of fantasy. He's on pace for more than 1,400 yards.
WR — Golden Tate
Why he's a surprise: Tate has played a lot like Antonio Brown this season. He's making a lot of his yards after the catch and he keeps on producing despite Calvin Johnson being injured and teams keying in on Tate. Tate has also benefited from the Detroit Lions' high octane passing offense, which he didn't have in Seattle's run heavy system last year.
TE — Antonio Gates
Why he's a surprise: Gates has recaptured his touchdown magic this season. His 10 red zone targets is a big reason why.
All bust team
QB — Geno Smith
Why he's a bust: Smith played well at times in 2014. Smith scored 13, 19, 16, 10, -1, 18, 18 and then -6 when he got benched against Buffalo. His rushing numbers gave him some great upside as well. But he just struggles at times still and doesn't have the best team in New York.
QB — Matt Ryan
Why he's a bust: Only putting up 12-to-15 points a game and with the weapons he has, his numbers should really be higher. His offensive line has battled injuries, which hasn't helped either.
RB — Reggie Bush
Why he's a bust: Bush has battled injuries and has just 171 yards on 49 carries and just one touchdown
RB — Toby Gerhart
Why he's a bust: 52 carries, 133 yards and a touchdown led Gerhart to the bench after the Jaguars invested a lot of money to bring him in as their workhorse back.
RB — Zac Stacy
Why he's a bust: His yards per carry average hasn't been where it need to be, and it's looking like Stacy is more of a plodder than we thought.
WR — Danny Amendola
Why he's a bust: Hailed as the next Wes Welker, he hasn't performed like it. Just seven catches for 47 yards.
WR — Brandon Marshall
Why he's a bust: Though he has five touchdown, Marshall has only had one big yardage game which came in Week 6 where he 116 yards.
WR — Pierre Garcon
Why he's a bust: Garcon has proved to be less reliable with the addition of DeSean Jackson and a healthy Jordan Reed. We expected his numbers to go down from last year, but he hasn't been much of a factor with just 39 catches for 443 yards.
TE — Vernon Davis
Why he's a bust: He had that 16 point game in Week 1, but since he hasn't had more than three fantasy points. He was the No. 4 tight end last year and now he's No. 28.
George and Scott break down two games and give fantasy value out on both sides of the ball for each one. First, Eagles vs. Redskins. Second, Packers vs. Lions. They also hand out their weekly awards and preview tonight's game between the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.
Stop traffic, the Philadelphia Eagles offense managed to not score in the first half, everybody panic. That was the general consensus after the first half of Philadelphia's Week 1 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home last Sunday, and it wasn't without good reason.
Dubbed as one of the most potent fantasy football offenses heading into this season, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles didn't exactly instill faith for the team's fantasy value in the first half. He looked hesitant, tried to force the ball to the now-healthy Jeremy Maclin too much, and when he didn't do that, he held the ball for too long, which was a trait that plagued him last season from time to time. Foles' inability to pull the trigger led to several blindside sacks which resulted in two lost fumbles. He was lucky enough his performance wasn't worse at times, as a few interceptions slipped through the hands of Jacksonville defenders.
After he posted a record quarterback rating last season, it was odd to see Foles perform in such a way to start the season. Other than his lackluster performance against the Dallas Cowboys in 2013 where he was suffering the after effects of a concussion, this was easily one of the most puzzling outings for Foles. This is his first full year as a starter, however, so he's not exactly a veteran at this point in his career.
But all wasn't bad. Foles later showed the hallmark trait a lot of successful quarterbacks possess — a short memory. He bounced back in the second half, hitting Zach Ertz on a seam route for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Ertz fantasy owners should get used to seeing that as Ertz ran that route several times during the game and Foles finally delivered the ball on the money.
Foles capped his performance off on a too-good-to-be-true wide open Jeremy Maclin in the fourth quarter for a 68-yard score. While that play looked to be a gift after the Jaguars blew their coverage, Foles weathered the storm and finished with a solid 322 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He finished with 18 total fantasy points, which isn't bad considering he had -3 fantasy points when you combine the fumbles after the first half.
Other general thoughts from the game
— Though LeSean McCoy was limited by his standards, he's still a human joystick out there and posed the threat to take the ball to the house on several plays. His 19-yard cut back run where he rushed to left before shifting gears and coming all the way back to the right showed he's just as explosive as last season. He carried the ball a healthy 21 times for 74 yards and zero touchdowns, which isn't a bad line considering he didn't feel like much of a factor in the actual game. His six catches for 41 yards also helped him grab a respectable fantasy score. The touchdowns will come, so owners shouldn't panic too much.
— Darren Sproles looked rejuvenated in an Eagles uniform and his 49-yard untouched touchdown served as the spark Philadelphia needed to crawl back into the game. It's worth noting that the result of that play had as much to do with Chip Kelly rushing the Eagles up to the line before Jacksonville got set as it did Sproles' running ability. It was good to see from Sproles, but he really benefited from the call and was almost dragged down before he reached the end zone. Not trying to discredit Sproles, just doubting the likelihood of that kind of play happening again this season.
Sproles' 11 carries weren't much, but he nearly matched McCoy in rushing yards with 71. He's still one of the all time great PPR fantasy receivers, as he caught four balls for 14 yards. Sproles was also a dynamic on special teams, averaging 15 yards per return. It's only one game, but if Sproles continues to play like this, the Eagles will be forced to keep him on the field. He's a worthy flex guy at this point in deep leagues in addition to PPR.
— Jordan Matthews' first catch as a rookie came on a 30-yard grab. He saw four targets and was open on a lot of them but Foles missed him a few times. As long as he can catch the ball consistently, there's no reason to believe this guy won't turn in the occasional 100-yard game, especially when teams focus on Maclin. He should only be owned in 14-team leagues however, as his inconsistency due to the volume of talent on Philly's offense will drive owners crazy.
— Riley Cooper doesn't make a lot of plays, but has a knack for making the spectacular catch. He nearly came down with a one-handed grab in traffic which would've went for huge yardage. His eight targets were second only to Maclin's 11, so he's still a focal point in the receiving game despite his limited speed. He's a WR3 in deep leagues until proven otherwise.
— Zach Ertz played fantastic with three catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. He's a TE1 going forward even though he only saw 4 targets.
Next week's matchup
The Eagles get an extra day's rest before they play a Colts team that surrendered 31 points to the Denver Broncos, including a 3-touchdown performance from tight end Julius Thomas. This could be a very fruitful matchup for Ertz.