On Monday's Week 15 edition of First Aid, the Helpers analyze Seattle/San Francisco and Detroit/Minnesota and give out fantasy value to the players in those contests. Plus weekly awards and a quick preview of Chicago/New Orleans tonight. Enjoy.
Ask how, ask now, ask Kerwynn Williams.
The Arizona Cardinals running back who was recently snagged up off the practice squad rattled the cages a little bit in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs. By end of the game, a new potential fantasy option for Week 15 had bloomed. Williams wound up with 19 carries for 100 yards in his first real NFL action, but a matchup against what has become one of the best defenses in the NFL in addition to the fact that Williams benefited from some situations the Cardinals don't usually find themselves in under quarterback Drew Stanton make Williams a risky option in Week 15.
How he succeeded against Kansas City
In his second NFL game, Williams got his first opportunity to carry the ball and didn't disappoint. He displayed good burst out of the backfield, showing the ability to get up into second gear a little bit quicker than his teammates Stepfan Taylor and Marion Grice. If you watched that game and noticed the wealth of carries being spread around the Cardinals' backfield between Taylor, Grice and Williams, you figured Williams would ultimately wind up unstartable due to the backfield being so crowded.
But Williams shifted that notion more into his favor during the second half. Granted, his fantasy stats benefited from some game flow luck as the Cardinals found themselves surprisingly ahead after quarterback Drew Stanton connected with Jaron Brown on a seam route for a 17-14 go-ahead touchdown. When the Chiefs failed to respond with a score of their own on the next series, it allowed the Cardinals to serve the Chiefs heavy doses of their run game with Williams as the focal point.
Which leads to a major concern you should acknowledge if you're starting Williams against St. Louis this week. The Cardinals haven't gotten out to early leads with Drew Stanton at quarterback. Since former starter Carson Palmer tore his ACL in Week 10, the Cardinals have failed to score the first touchdown in three out of four games with Stanton under center.
And that's the thing with game flow. The majority of Williams' carries came in that second half when the Cardinals were ahead and needed to run the clock down. His confidence grew as the game went along, and for Bruce Arians and the coaching staff to rely on him in a game where the Cardinals most surely had to win with the Seahawks breathing down their neck is a good sign for Williams' value going forward. But even though Williams played well, he still only played in 36 percent of the Cardinals' offensive snaps while Stepfan Taylor was on the field for 25 percent of snaps. It's promising, but not incredibly promising.
Williams was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. After spending some time on practice squads in Indy and later San Diego, Williams found himself without a team until the Cardinals signed him shortly after the 2014 season began.
Coming out of Utah State, Williams rushed for 1,512 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior (6.9 yards per carry). He also set the single season record for receiving yards in (697) by a running back in 2012.
At 5'8, 198 pounds, Williams is an undersized running back who uses his explosiveness to create positive yardage fast. As you watch him in this clip, he does possess the home run ability in the open field. He measured at 4.48 40 speed at the combine in 2013 to go along with a 35" vertical. He's got good lateral ability and can zig zag along the offensive line at a good pace until he finds a crease. His undersized nature benefits him as it makes him tough to tackle and thus slippery, but it does limit him when it comes to plowing through defenders.
The Rams defense
if you consider starting Williams against the Rams on Thursday, you're doing so at a big risk. The Rams defense arguably improved the most as the season went along. They've climbed to sixth best against fantasy running backs after struggling early on. They now allow just under 13 points per game from RBs. They're also coming off consecutive shutouts against Washington and Oakland.
They held Alfred Morris, a decent running back in his own right, to just six yards on eight carries last week. They allowed Raiders running back Darren McFadden (I know, it's McFadden) to just 27 yards on 11 carries a week before. The last time they allowed a 100 yard rusher was three games back against Chargers' Ryan Mathews.
The return of defensive end Chris Long has really given the Rams an extra pass rusher to go along with Robert Quinn. Both defensive ends have played well in recent games, with each accounting for a sack in the last two contests. Linebacker Alec Ogletree has played better against the run recently after struggling early and their two safeties in Rodney McLeod and Mark Barron have been arguably the best combination at their respective positions in the league since Barron came over from Tampa Bay in late October.
If you picked up Kerwynn Williams, you have no reason to start him in this matchup. Steer clear if possible.
Due to some odd scheduling with the holiday, the usual Monday edition of First Aid was moved to Tuesday. The Helpers discuss the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, why LeGarrette Blount is a good fantasy option for the playoffs and why those with Jimmy Graham should be excited rather than fearful after his zero target performance against Pittsburgh. Plus weekly awards and some talk about Johnny Manziel.
New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers: 24-for-38, 368 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions (24 fantasy points)
Rank among fantasy QBs for Week 13: 7th
Quarterbacks who did better: R. Fitzpatrick, A. Luck, D. Brees, P. Rivers, C. McCoy, B. Roethlisberger
Rodgers plays great against bad teams. But more importantly, he plays great against good teams too. Granted, he had the added bonus of a raucous crowd at Lambeau Field, but his talent was on full display here against one of the better secondaries in the league.
Rodgers has been a monster these past five games, with fantasy point totals of 48, 34, 23, and 28. He's as matchup proof as it gets when it comes to fantasy quarterbacks, and will likely be a No. 1 guy heading into a matchup against a bad Atlanta team in Week 14.
Tom Brady: 22-for-35, 245 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions (17 fantasy points)
Rank among fantasy QBs for Week 13: 13th
Quarterbacks who did better: R. Fitzpatrick, A. Luck, D. Brees, P. Rivers, C. McCoy, B. Roethlisberger, A. Rodgers, J. Flacco, S. Hill, M. Stafford, M. Ryan, M. Sanchez
Brady continues to be one of the most reliable fantasy options. His last five fantasy point totals have been 44, 35, 18, 23, and 21. He's locked in as a QB1 but the San Diego Chargers have played well against quarterbacks this season.
LeGarrette Blount: 10 carries for 58 yards, zero touchdowns (5 fantasy points)
Rank among RBs: 31st
Blount looks like the guy in New England. His 10 carries led the Patriots and out carried Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen, and Jonas Gray. The Patriots like him, and he's a steady flex option if you want to add him to your team. He'll likely have a touchdown or two now that he's getting the most carries.
Eddie Lacy: 21 carries for 98 yards, 2 catches for 17 yards (10 fantasy points)
Rank among RBs: 22th
Lacy continues to be among the most reliable RBs and for those who traded for him or stuck with him during his dark weeks early in the season will be rewarded with a great playoff matchup against Atlanta in Week 14.
Davante Adams: 6 receptions for 121 yards, 11 targets (12 fantasy points)
Rank among WRs: 18th
Adams played well, but don't consider adding him or starting him. He benefited from Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb drawing coverage from Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Plus, he dropped a potential touchdown pass.
Rob Gronkowski: 7 catches, 98 yards, zero touchdowns (9 fantasy points)
Rank among TEs: 4th
Gronkowski remains the toughest matchup for any defense at the tight end position. His 12-yard run where he trucked three defenders on his way to a near touchdown is an example.
1. Kenny Stills WR/New Orleans Saints
After rookie Brandin Cooks was placed on injured reserve with a broken thumb, the Saints were in dire need of a receiver to put stress on defenses vertically. Second year wide receiver Kenny Stills has done just that for the Saints offense, averaging 20 yards per reception over the last two weeks.
After Cooks went down, many assumed that veteran Marques Colston would be the one to fill the void, but over the last two weeks it has been Stills that has taken over as the team’s primary target out of the Saints wide receivers. Over the last two weeks, Stills is leading Saints' receivers in targets (15) and receiving yards (260), showing great chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees.
Going forward I expect Stills to continue to be the big-play target in the passing game. While he will likely have some duds for games over the next few weeks, Stills’ ability to stretch the field will make him a boom-or-bust WR3 over the final few weeks of the season.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
2. Davante Adams WR/Green Bay Packers
Going into the Packers game against the Patriots this weekend, the main question was 'how would Rodgers attack the Pats' cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner?' Well, turns out Rodgers tried to stay away from the tandem as much as possible, leading to a breakout performance for the Packers no. 3 receiver Davante Adams.
Adams was able to get free from coverage on a consistent basis Sunday, totaling 6 catches on 11 targets for 121 yards. Adams was one drop away from having an even better afternoon, as he let a perfectly placed ball on a slant pass in the end zone slip through his hands.
I have to warn all of you fantasy owners that think Adams is going to be a consistent target in the Packers offense. Over the last three games, he has just four receptions on eight targets. The Packers will not be playing a caliber cornerback tandem like the Patriots for the rest of the season. Despite a relatively easy remaining schedule (Atlanta, Buffalo, Tampa Bay) I do not expect Adams to see enough targets to be a reliable fantasy option. Proceed with caution folks.
Recommendation: Add In Deep Leagues
Value: WR4/Low Flex
3. Johnny Manziel QB/Cleveland Browns
If you're like me and can't stand the hype that ESPN gives Johnny “Football” Manziel, I would highly recommend keeping your television turned off this week. After starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was pulled after his fifth interception in the last two weeks, the Johnny Manziel-era appears to have officially begun in Cleveland.
Manziel replaced Hoyer in the 4th quarter of garbage time against the Bills and looked relatively good in relief. Manziel finished the day completing 5 of his 8 passes for 63 yards, and one rushing touchdown in typical Johnny Football fashion. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shannahan wanted to use Manziel’s mobility as soon as he entered the game, using boot and play-action passes. Manziel was relativey accurate, although most of his passes were short passes that relied on YAC ability by the wide receivers.
For all the Manziel-ites out there thinking he's going to come in and have the same success as a starter as he did in relief of Hoyer, I am telling you to pump the brakes a little bit. The Bills spent all week game planning for Hoyer and his strengths and weaknesses, putting the defense at a major disadvantage once the mobile Manziel entered the game. If he still has the same success next week against a Colts defense allowing the 16th fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, I will give the rookie some more credit.
Recommendation: Stash in Deeper Leagues/Two QB Leagues
4. Colt McCoy QB/Washington Redskins
Now that I don't to listen to Robert Griffin III doing his best Bill Belichick impression after being benched in favor of journeyman Colt McCoy, we can finally get back to evaluating the Redskins offense purely from a fantasy perspective.
In the two games that McCoy started, he's given the Redskins offense a quarterback that looks comfortable running the west-coast offensive system, completing 76% of his passes (56/77) for 691 yards (345.5 Passing YPG), and three touchdowns
It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that Colt McCoy could potentially be a starting quarterback in the NFL. With his slight frame and lack of ideal arm strength, McCoy has the look of a career backup in the NFL. However, with RGIII continuing to regress in his third NFL season, the opportunity is there for McCoy to revitalize his career as long as he plays well.
Recommendation: Stash In Deep Leagues
5. Dan “Boom” Herron RB/Indianapolis Colts
After loosing Ahmad Bradshaw for the rest of the season with a fractured fibula, many NFL pundits assumed that Trent Richardson would regain the bulk of the carries for the Colts offense. However, in typical T-Rich fashion, he has been ineffective once again as the teams starting running back.
In the last two weeks since Bradshaw went down with a season ending injury, Richardson has once again shown that he is incapable to being the lead back for an NFL offense. In the last two weeks Richardson has rushed for 54 yards on 21 carries (2.5 YPC), showing little to no agility or the ability to make people miss.
With Richardson once again showing to be ineffective, the door was left open for Dan “Boom” Herron to take hold of the starting running back job in Indianapolis. Herron has made the most of his limited opportunities, finishing with a line of 20/153/1 (7.65 YPA) over the past two weeks. Herron has also shown to be a reliable pass catcher, averaging 3.5 receptions per game in the same time frame.
Going forward I fully expect Herron to carve out a bigger role within the Colts offense, as he adds a dimension that Richardson simply does not. With a weak schedule against Cleveland (4th most rushing yards allowed per game), and Houston (13th most fantasy points to opposing RBs) Herron has a chance to be key piece for owners during the fantasy playoffs.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: RB2/High Flex
I’d like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all the readers and families of readers out there. Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday of the year. The holiday encompasses my two favorite activities, eating (hopefully) really good food and watching football. It’s that simple. There are no gifts I need to worry about buying, there’s no religious aspect to the holiday, there’s no costumes and people ringing my doorbell all day long, and as much as I love kids, there’s no Thanksgiving fictional character that I have to worry about blurting out isn’t real. It’s really just “Hey, come over we’ll watch football, we’ll eat really good food and then we’ll watch a little more football.” What a holiday! I’m sure the attendees at the 1st Thanksgiving did not incorporate football into the plans for how the tradition would carry on, but I’d like to say thanks on this Thanksgiving to the pilgrim who invented this holiday, I thank you sir/madam. Whoever you are/were, you started what became the perfect day, a national holiday solely based around food and football. Ok I do admit the holiday gets me thinking about how thankful I am for my beautiful wife, the rest of my wonderful family, and all my friends, and it even gets me thinking about how thankful I am for my freedom and about how incredible our soldiers are. So in summary, football, delicious food, more football, family time, and ignoring the bad momentarily while accentuating all the good things in life to be thankful for…..it’s the perfect holiday.
This is the last week of many regular seasons. Do or die, make or break, or in my case division title and first round bye, or monumental collapse. Use these sleepers and busts to jockey for playoff position and to ensure that this will not be your last week.
Happy Thanksgiving once again to you all. I’m also thankful for each and every one of you out there giving this article a read.
Without further ado, your week 13 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.
Matt Ryan v. Arizona
Is Arizona a very good defense? Sure. Is this matchup ideal for Matt Ryan? Probably not. But Ryan is at home against a team who we know for a fact will not allow the opposition to run the ball. Ryan is ranked as the number 20 or so QB on most popular sites and if he did perform that poorly it would just mean the Falcons would get totally shut down completely at home. I refuse to believe this will happen. In 4 home games (they’ve had 1 neutral game in London which I am not counting) Matt Ryan has thrown 9 TDs while only committing 3 turnovers. Also, the Cardinals, while they are one of the elite NFL defenses, have allowed the 8th most passing yards per game this season. He’s not a must start QB1 but Ryan historically performs significantly better at home than he does on the road, and even if the Falcons lose this game handily, he’ll still have a good amount of yards and a couple of TDs to show for it.
I’d Start Matt Ryan over: Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Zach Mettenberger,
Cam Newton at Minnesota
Newton is coming off a bye week so maybe he’s been able to heal, but he clearly hasn’t been playing healthy. He’s no longer the threat he used to be running the ball. He’s also reverted back to his poor decision making ways with only 4 TD and 10 turnovers in his last 4 weeks. Minnesota is at home and is coming off an impressive showing against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. They lost the game but they put pressure on ARod and limited the Pack to 24 points, not an easy feat. The strength of the Vikings defense lies in their secondary where Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith lead the way, limiting teams to the 7th fewest passing yards per game. They’re also a top 5 defense against opposing TEs, the position of most strength in the Panthers passing attack. Newton is being ranked as a matchup QB option, in the 13-16 range but I see him as a borderline QB2 and maybe even a non-start in 2 QB leagues.
I’d Start the following players over Cam Newton: Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Zach Mettenberger, Kyle Orton,
Dan Herron v. Washington
Herron was a surprise starter last week, even to fellow Colts RB Trent Richardson. There was a fairly even time share between he and Richardson, but Herron out touched him and out gained him and most importantly he racked up five receptions while playing on 3rd downs. The Colts will miss Ahmad Bradshaw but it’s nice to see that they have a better talent than Richardson in Herron that they can use when killing clock. Clock killing is exactly what the Colts will be doing this week at home against the hapless Redskins. The Skins will be going into Indianapolis start Colt McCoy. This seems like a total mismatch, one that will heavily favor the Colts. Look for Herron to once again out touch Trent Richardson and approach 100 yards while getting in the endzone at least once. Herron is a high RB2 this week.
I’d start Dan Herron over: Isaiah Crowell, LeGarrette Blount, Giovanni Bernard, Fred Jackson
Isaiah Crowell at Buffalo
Isaiah Crowell is a great talent that much is clear. His future in this league is bright. The Georgia alum was able to break out last week, ripping apart the Falcons in a homecoming game for him in Atlanta. However, I do not think he’s matchup proof and is not a must start. Buffalo is ranked 5th against fantasy RBs in .5PPR leagues. At home they’ve limited their opponents and have only allowed the Patriots to put up more than 22 points. This game has cold weather low scoring game written all over it. The Bills defense is fast at LB on the edges and match up with Crowell’s skill set. Despite Josh Gordon’s return to the lineup, the Browns will not have success moving up and down the field, and the opportunities for redzone touches and scores will not be there for the Crow. Crowell is a flex option this week but I would not trust him in leagues that start only 2 RBs.
Charles Johnson v. Carolina
Charles Johnson was a much hyped up rookie coming into the season but had not been a factor until week 10. In the last two weeks his catches, targets, yards and playing time have all skyrocketed. This past week it was apparent that he was the Vikings number 1 WR, playing 67/69 snaps and receiving 11 targets. He only turned those targets into 3 catches for 52 yards but he did score a TD and was open on several other occasions. The last two weeks have resulted in 9 catches for 139 yards and a TD. Carolina comes to town sporting the 26th ranked defense against fantasy WRs. CB Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell have been major losses in the secondary from a once dominant defense. Perhaps an even bigger factor has been the suspension of All Pro defensive end Greg Hardy. Hardy’s absence has all but eliminated the Panthers pass rush and QBs and WRs are having a field day against the new Panthers defense. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to have one of his best days as a pro passer and for his new number 1 target, Charles Johnson, to be the major beneficiary. Johnson can be started in many 3 WR leagues.
I’d Start Charles Johnson over: Kenny Stills, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Steve Smith, Julian Edelman
Kenny Stills at Pittsburgh
Kenny Stills was expected to step up after Brandin Cooks went down with a broken thumb, and he did not disappoint. Stills caught 8 balls for 98 yards in his new role, however this week he and his teammates at WR could be in for a down game. The Saints, a disappointing offense, travels to Pittsburgh. The Steelers sustained early season injuries and after weeks of being decimated on defense return 3 key starters in Ike Taylor, Troy Polumalu and Ryan Shazier. The defense has been able to remain effective ranking 16th in passing yards against and 9th against fantasy WRs despite these key losses. Now with the defense back at full strength the Steelers should be able to once again become a viable defense, especially at home. Other than Jimmy Graham there is no sure thing in this difficult road matchup.
I’d start the following players over Kenny Stills: Charles Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Sammy Watkins
Charles Clay at. New York Jets
Charles Clay was a top 10 TE last season and he has built fine chemistry in the redzone with Ryan Tannehill. This season he hasn’t had as much success playing in a new offense and dealing with injuries, but he’s shown to be able to produce in the right matchups. Coming off a groin injury, he returns just in time for the 3rd worst team against TEs the New York Jets. The Jets have allowed a mind boggling 12 TDs to TEs and this past week allowed one to Bills TE Scott Chandler. Outside of my top 6 TEs this week (Graham, Gronk, Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker) it has not been easy to find consistent TE play so it’s important to play the matchups. I’d start Clay over anyone who isn’t those 6 guys in this game.
I’d start Charles Clay over: Antonio Gates, Coby Fleener, Larry Donnell, Travis Kelce
Antonio Gates at Baltimore
Antonio Gates was the reason why many fantasy teams got off to a great start with his surge of TDs in the first half of the season. Recently he’s been the reason why fantasy teams may be going through an epic collapse to end the season. Gates has combined for only 74 yards the last three weeks. He’s only had 10 targets in that stretch and he hasn’t had more than 61 receiving yards in a game since week 2. He’s TD dependent and is on the road against a defense in Baltimore that has allowed slightly over 10 points per game in five home games. TD opportunities may not be available against this stingy defense. I’d play the matchups and look elsewhere at TE this week.
I’d start the following players over Antonio Gates: Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Coby Fleener, Charles Clay, Tim Wright
That’ll be it for this week. Happy Thanksgiving weekend. Good luck and see you in the playoffs!
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.
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.
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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.
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 night for 199 yards on a whopping 38 attempts (5.2 YPC), fantasy owners can expect Gray to be one of the hot commodities on the waiver wire this week.
Gray was buried on the depth chart at the start of the year behind veterans Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. With Ridley out for the year with a torn ACL, Gray has taken over as the bell cow in the Patriots backfield, and Vereen has once again been relegated to a third-down/COP back in the Patriots offense.
I have to warn you fantasy owners; Patriots Head Coach Bill Belicheck can cause some serious headaches with how he divvies up the workload for his running backs, using the flow of the game to dictate his primary rusher for the day. Although you cannot expect Gray to go out and run for 200 yards and four touchdowns on a weekly basis, he's well worth stashing on your roster especially if Belicheck continues to get the former golden domer more involved in the offensive game plan.
Recommendation: Stash and See
Value: Flex/High RB3 w/ Potential
2. Jordan Matthews WR/Philadelphia Eagles (41.7% Owned)
After posting two startight weeks with 100+ yards and a touchdown, it's safe to say that rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews has replaced Riley Cooper as the team’s no. 2 option in the passing game.
In the last two games, Matthews and quarterback Mark Sanchez have shown solid chemistry, connecting for 12 receptions for 245 yards and three touchdowns. I expect Jeremy Maclin to continue to be the focal point of the Eagles passing game, but with the up-tempo offense Kelly employs there's no reason to think that Matthews cannot continue to put up quality fantasy numbers on a weekly basis.
If Matthews was left unclaimed after last week’s monster 7/138/2 line against the Panthers go out and grab him immediately.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: WR2/High Flex
3. C.J. Anderson RB/Denver Broncos (77.8% Owned)
When asked how he would split up the carries between his stable of running backs, Broncos Head Coach John Fox stated that the primary factor would be "first and foremost" on "who's healthy." After losing Ronnie Hillman for an extended period of time with a sprained foot, the Broncos were left to depend on UDFA C.J. Anderson and second-year running back Montee Ball to carry the load.
Fantasy owners who thought Ball was going to come in and make a big splash were quickly disappointed after he re-aggravated the groin injury that cost him the last five weeks. Early indications are the Ball will be out an extended period of time, and could even be placed on injured reserve depending on the results of his MRI on Monday.
With both Ball and Hillman out the Broncos backfield suddenly went from one of the deeper groups in the league to one of the thinnest. Anderson has shown the ability to carry the load for the Broncos running game, racking up 119 yards on 22 carries (5.4 YPC) over the last two weeks. Anderson also proved a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield, hauling in 12 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. On an offense with Peyton Manning running the show, there will be no shortage of scoring opportunities for Anderson, and as long as he is the starting running back he has the potential to post RB1-type numbers going forward.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: High RB2/Low RB1
4. Isaiah Crowell RB/Cleveland Browns (23.7% Owned)
How frustrating has it been trying to figure out how the Browns will handle their running game this season. One week it’s Tate getting the bulk of the carries, the next it's Terrance West, and finally this week Isaiah Crowell was the Browns starting running back.
I have been saying for some time now that Crowell is the best running back on the Browns roster, and if Sunday’s game is any indication as to how the Browns will split up the carries in the future, the coaching staff agrees with me. Crowell totaled 90 yards of offense (61 rush, 30 receiving) against the Texans, and out-carried West 3:1.
While no one is certain how the Browns coaching staff is going to split the carries up, unless you are Mike Pettine, it is clear to anyone that watches the Browns offense that Crowell is the best of the Brown’s running backs.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: Flex w/High RB2 Potential
5. Josh Gordon WR/Cleveland Browns(68.3% Owned)
The wait is finally over Browns fans as Josh Gordon is finally eligible to play after serving the final game of his suspension this weekend.
It's tough to say how heavily involved Gordon might be in his first week back. Last year under Norv Turner, the Browns offense led the NFL in passing attempts. This year it is a different story, as new head coach Mike Pettine has made it clear that he wants to feature an offense that is predicated on a power-running game.
Gordon’s talent is undeniable and should immediately become the no. 1 option in the Browns passing game. For his first game back I would rank Gordon more as a high-end WR2, and depending how offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan implements him, could easily reach high end WR1 numbers in the very near future.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Players to Monitor
1. Charles Johnson WR/Minnesota Vikings
If you are not a Vikings fan, you are probably not very familiar with Johnson, but ever since being signed off the Browns practice squad he has quietly become the Vikings most consistent receiver. While his overall stat line may not be that impressive, Johnson has been one of the few receivers that has shown the ability to stretch the field for the Vikings, as well as showing the ability to get separation from man coverage. After posting 6 catches for 87 yards in week 11 against the Bears, I expect Johnson to get some more run with the first-team offense. Do not waste a waiver claim on Johnson this week, but definitely keep an eye on his production going forward.
2. Cody Latimer and Jacob Tamme WR and TE/Denver Broncos
It was a tough week for the Broncos offense. After getting held to 7 points on offense for the first time since 2001, Peyton Manning lost a lot more than just a game on Sunday. Both Julius Thomas (Ankle) and Emmanuel Sanders (Concussion) left Sunday’s game and did not return. While Sanders’ concussion does not look to be major, Thomas was not quite as lucky as his ankle injury could cause him to miss an extended period of time.
If Sanders is forced to miss any time with his concussion there will be a massive void that will need to be filled opposite Demariyus Thomas. I would imagine the Broncos go to a combination of veteran Andre Caldwell and rookie second-round pick Cody Lattimer.
Julius Thomas was forced from Sunday’s game with what is being called a low-ankle sprain, and could potentially miss an extended period of time. If he is forced to miss time, Manning’s long time teammate Jacob Tamme will be given the first opportunity to fill the void in Thomas’ absence. While Tamme will not blow anyone away with his athleticism, he's a very reliable target in the red zone, and if we know one thing about a Peyton Manning led offense they might get down in that area a few times a game. I would not recommend spending a waiver priority on any of these players, except for Tamme due to the lack of quality depth at tight end in fantasy football. As for the rest of them, keep them on your radar in the coming weeks to see how they are integrated in the Broncos offense.
3. Latavius Murray RB/Oakland Raiders (0.7% Owned)
I have no idea what took so long for the Raiders coaching staff to give this kid an opportunity, but like the say “better late than never”. Murray rushed for a team-high 43 yards giving the Raiders running game a much needed kick in the butt.
Now falling to 0-10 this season the Raiders have no reason to not see what they have in Murray, especially when their other options are two veterans in McFadden and Jones-Drew that are completely washed-up.
Being on a terrible team like the Raiders that will consistently be playing from behind will likely limit Murray’s fantasy potential, but there is no denying that he has the ability to make plays that the veterans simply cannot make at this stage in their career. Keep an eye on Murray as I expect his role to continue to grow in the Raiders offense.
Preparation in fantasy football is always crucial to victory. Each week, it's like a mad dash to see who can make the right pickups first and who's ahead of the injury and matchup curve the most. As the playoffs draw near, the planning that goes into having a strong lineup in Weeks 14,15 and 16 are the staple of every fantasy owner's season.
Those three weeks mentioned above are the big climax for fantasy owners, and they want their matchups tastier than a Chip Kelly personalized smoothie. If you're already thinking your team is destined for the playoffs, then you may want to look into how you can fortify your team to make it even more tough to beat when it really matters. Here are some matchups for Week 14 that could be plausibly fruitful.
Week 14 matchups
Eric Ebron (3% owned) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a little over 100 yards receiving and just one touchdown, the tight end dubbed the second coming of Vernon Davis hasn't had a very productive rookie season due to a nagging hamstring injury that's kept him out of action for nearly half the season. Still, he's eventually expected to return to the lineup in Week 11 and has a good matchup down the road against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks second worst in the league against the pass. In a pass heavy offense loaded with plenty of receiving talent, it's not out of the question Ebron could get lost in the shuffle playing along guys like Golden Tate, Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johnson. Despite the possibility of low targets, he's still a good TE2 option just because of his athletic upside and a favorable matchup. With tight ends like Jordan Cameron and Vernon Davis constantly hurt, Ebron could be a good savior if you're weak at the TE position.
New Orleans Saints defense (8% owned) vs. Carolina
Carolina's offense has really struggled these past three weeks. They haven't scored more than 20 points since they tied Cincinnati 37-37 back in Week 6. Panthers QB Cam Newton has been playing hurt with two bad legs, which could severely limit his upside as a rushing quarterback. The Panthers running game has been non existent with their running backs averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Jonathan Stewart heads their paltry rushing attack with 299 yards on the year.
The Panthers receivers have also been inconsistent, with Greg Olsen serving as the team's best option with 51 catches. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin has shown flashes but his route running and consistency haven't been there, as evidenced by his 43 catches on a whopping 85 targets. He's basically catching just half of the balls thrown his way. Jerricho Cotchery is still without a touchdown on the season and looks as every bit out of place as many thought the vet would be in a role too big for a guy of his age.
On the other side, the Saints' defense has improved mightily. They've registered five interceptions in their last four games and have sacked the quarterback at least four times in their last three games. Surprisingly, they rank in the top 15 in yards allowed as well. While divisional matchups can often be close, the Saints defense could be worth a play due to Carolina's struggles on the offensive end.
Allen Hurns (20% owned), Cecil Shorts (43% owned) vs. Houston Texans
The Jacksonville Jaugars lost their most targeted receiver, Allen Robinson, to a broken foot which will sideline him for the remainder of the season. With Robinson out, expect the speedy Hurns to be the primary benefactor in the Jaguars' offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown for at least 200 yards in all but two starts, and he's eclipsed the 300 yard mark once as well. He moves the ball down the field consistently.
Hurns suffered a concussion during the Jaguars' last game against Dallas, but he still leads the Jaguars in touchdowns (5) and with Robinson now out, expect Hurns to see more targets which should increase his yardage totals and overall consistency. Plus, he's still available in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. Shorts is second on the team in targets (61) and has two 100 yard games on the season.
These two receivers are good options in Week 14 because of their matchup against the Houston Texans, a team with a secondary known for getting burned throughout this season. The Texans are allowing 279 passing yards per game, which ranks 29th in the league. Hurns will have major upside as a WR3/flex guy in a bigger role with a good matchup.
Terrance Williams (81% owned) @ Chicago Bears
I know, Williams has been an inconsistent player at times. But he's still on pace for 11 touchdowns and 700 receiving yards. Williams and the Cowboys will have a gift wrapping of a matchup against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Week 14. The Bears have allowed 268 passing yards per game, which ranks 28th in the league. They're also surrendering around 30 points per game. Williams is coming off a poor game against Jacksonville where he only saw two targets, but they still took shots at him in the end zone. He's been a big part of the Cowboys' receiving game this season and while he may be feast or famine, he's unlikely to fade in an offense that values his contribution.
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 cost him the last month and half of the season. However, the Broncos offense took fantasy owners for a loop when it was C.J. Anderson getting the bulk of the carries instead of Ronnie Hillman.
Hillman was forced from Sunday’s game with a foot injury during the fouth quarter and did not return, leaving the door open for Anderson to get a major role in garbage time. Anderson produced in a major way this weekend totaling 163 yards of total offense, including a 51-yard touchdown reception.
I would not expect Anderson to have many days like this one going forward. When Ball comes back I fully expect the Broncos to use a full-blown committee approach at the running back position, limiting the potential of any of the Broncos three options. Anderson is still worth the stash on fantasy rosters, especially if you happen to own either Ronnie Hillman or Montee Ball.
Secondary Bears' Receivers (Josh Morgan, Marquess Wilson) (0.0, 0.1% Owned)
Well if you did not watch the entire Sunday Night Football game, and I do not blame you if you stopped at half, you probably did not notice that Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall went down with another ankle injury. Although the injury is not to the same ankle Marshall injured earlier this season, it was serious enough to keep Marshall from returning to the game. While it is up for debate whether or not it was the injury or the scoreboard that kept Marshall out, there is a very real chance that Marshall could be sidelined for week 11.
If Marshall is going to miss next week’s game, there are a couple of different options I think the Bears could go. The first one would be to trot out veteran Josh Morgan. Morgan has been invisible in the Bears offense, totaling just 6 catches on the season showing very little explosiveness even when given the opportunities. I do not expect his role to change very much going forward, and could eventually slide to no. 4 on the depth chart if the next player I am going to mention is able to return from an injury that cost him the first half of the season.
During the offseason workouts, there was one name that was consistently popping up from Bears camp, and that was Marquess Wilson. Despite the strong offseason, Wilson suffered a broken clavicle that has cost him the entire first half of the season. Wilson is currently on the IR/Designated to Return List, but has since started doing drills at practice. Now that he has begun practicing the Bears have 21 days to decide whether they active Wilson, place him on the season-ending injured reserve list, or just outright release him.
Recommendation: Wait and See
Value: WR5 w/potential
Odell Beckham Jr. WR/New York Giants (57.5% Owned)
I think it is safe to say that OBJ is officially healthy after battling a nagging hamstring injury all offseason. The rookie wide receiver has been everything the Giants could have asked for during the last two weeks, piling up 15 receptions for 264 yards, tops on the team in both categories.
With Reuben Randle proving to be an inconsistent option in the passing game, Beckham has ran with the opportunities presented to him. Even with a tough matchup this weekend against the Seahawks, Beckham was able to beat Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman consistently, including a 44-yard completion on a double move that left Sherman looking for his jock.
Over the last two games, Beckham has established himself as the Giants most consistent receiver. Although Beckham and Randle are being targeted about the same amount of times (20-19), Beckham has been much more efficient, catching 75% of the passes thrown his way, compared to just 61% by Randle. I expect Beckham to continue his hot streak in week 11 when the Giants return home for a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Martavis Bryant WR/Pittsburgh Steelers (60.4% Owned)
After the Steelers passing attack totaled 12 touchdown passes over the last two weeks, it was conceivable that they would take a slight step back, but I doubt anyone expected the Steelers to be dominated like they were against a terrible Jets secondary.
Bryant was quiet much of the day, totaling just three catches for 63-yards through the first three and a half quarters. Fantasy owners forgave Bryant for the slow start, as Bryant scored an 80-yard touchdown pass during garbage time. Although Bryant is still playing in a limited amount of snaps, it is clear the Roethlisberger is getting more and more comfortable with the rookie.
Next week the Steelers get another matchup with the Titans that Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense can take advantage of. Even though Bryant will still play in a limited fashion, his talent is undeniable, and should carve out more playing time if he is able to learn the playbook.