Player: Deshaun Watson - QB, Clemson
Comparison: Ryan Tannehill
Best Fit: Buffalo Bills
If the Bills don’t sort out their contract situation with Tyrod Taylor, they would be wise to draft a quarterback early and preferably Watson. Watson’s arm strength paired with his deep ball touch and his rushing ability are reminiscent of Tyrod Taylor’s and would suit this Bills offense perfectly. With a solid offensive line, a stud No.1 wide receiver in Sammy Watkins and one of the best running backs in the league in Lesean McCoy, Buffalo’s offense is tailor-made for a rookie QB. Watson would be protected and have less pressure on his shoulders due to their rushing prowess, allowing the offense to move. This was the formula the Dallas Cowboys used to make Dak Prescott the Offensive Rookie of the Year and one that will be modelled by many teams in the near future. Watson had great success in college with a stud receiver in Mike Williams and this would give both Watson and Sammy Watkins great fantasy value while likely increasing Lesean McCoy’s workload also.
Deshaun Watson could not have chosen a better time to turn in some of his greatest collegiate performances. The Clemson quarterback has decided to enter the 2017 NFL Draft and his stock has never been higher, coming off a championship season.
When analysing Watson through a wide lens it is clear to see that he cuts the figure of a modern quarterback. Measuring in at 6’2’’ and 207 lbs, Watson is the smallest of the ‘Big 3’ quarterbacks of this class (including Mitch Trubisky and Deshone Kizer) yet Watson plays bigger and taller than that on tape, standing tall in the pocket in the face of pressure while having the ability to extend plays with his feet. Watson also has a much more extensive college résumé than his other two counterparts. Watson has plenty of experience from being a multi-year starter and with two National Championship game appearances in which he had stellar play, it is safe to say he shows up on the biggest stage.
Being on such a successful team, Watson has played countless ranked, talented teams and more often than not come out on top. Pro-ready or not, Watson has a knack for winning and has the game-winning drives to prove it. These intangibles should not be overlooked as a quarterback’s job at any level of football is to be the coolest guy on the field. When the moment is its biggest Deshaun Watson has showed plenty of times that he can be the guy.
The most impressive thing about Watson is while he has a big arm, every throw seems to have some touch on it. No matter whether it is a deep ball or screen, his range never suffers because of it and every pass is therefore more catchable and tougher to be intercepted as Watson’s touch allows him to place every throw. Watson still has the power to drive balls when needed but unlike last year’s draft prospect Carson Wentz, not every pass has a flat arc.
However, although this touch is impressive, at times it is also inconsistent. Watson’s interception total could have been a lot higher, especially in the red zone, this season as he sometimes struggles with under and overthrows. Overthrows aren’t necessarily too big of an issue, Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz all struggled with overthrows in college too and the result is often only an incompletion. Underthrows however are deadly as underthrown balls allow stacked cornerbacks, under-cutting safeties and spying linebackers to all add to their interception total.
Often after an interception from an underthrown ball, Watson would then appear spooked for a few plays and tended to force passes. A combination of wanting to make up for his mistake and a strong pass rush made Watson trigger happy and frantically eager to make a play. This season most of his forced passes broke his way, but the law of averages suggests that that will even out if it continues.
As a lighter guy, Watson is able to utilise his legs much more effectively than either Kizer or Trubisky and this is one of his most proficient talents. Watson ran the QB read impeccably at Clemson and his quick twitch athleticism meant he would be 6 yards downfield before the defense even knew he had kept the ball. This athleticism shows up time and time again on film as he demonstrates his elusiveness and a knack for escaping pressure, leading to very few sacks being taken.
Watson sometimes relies on his quick feet in the pocket a little too much however and so his footwork in the pocket could use some work. His speed and quickness often made up for his sluggish pocket footwork but in the NFL this will need to be tightened up as teams will likely set the edge and force him to throw from the pocket to negate his rushing ability.
One big concern with Watson is his failure to identify trick coverages and walk straight into defensive traps. This became more of an issue against more accomplished defenses and is very apparent in his match-up against Florida State. For a quarterback with so much game experience it is concerning that Watson fails to identify spy and robber coverages and so when he stares down a receiver (which he has a tendency to do when holding onto the ball for too long), safeties are able to read his eyes and undercut his passes for interceptions.
However, the majority of the time (due to the nature of the offense) Watson made quick reads and his quick release and arm strength allowed him to negate pass rushers and prevented him from holding onto the ball and staring down receivers and he was able to drive his offense down the field remarkably quickly.
Wherever he lands in the draft Watson is unlikely to be instantly named the day one starter and he will either have to compete with veterans or simply be red-shirted. However, I think it is likely if he goes to a team with quarterback needs and is not taken as a project to sit and observe for a few seasons in say Pittsburgh or Kansas City, Watson is likely to play at some point during his rookie campaign.
Thank you for reading, follow Will on twitter @willpendosports
I cannot believe that it is already the end of the fantasy football season. Like all fantasy seasons there have been a mix of ups-and-downs, as well as unknown players taking the leap towards fantasy relevance. If you are in a league that runs through the entire regular season this is your last chance to swoop up players that can help you claim bragging rights over your entire league.
The purpose of my final waiver wire article of the season is to point out a few players that I would have faith plugging into my lineup in a fantasy championship scenario.
Teddy Bridgewater QB/Minnesota Vikings (6.1% Owned)
During the pre-draft process there were many well-known draft pundits out there criticizing Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for what they referred to as “skinny lower-extremities”. Pair a below-average frame with a questionable Pro Day workout and the Minnesota Vikings found themselves in position to land one of the steals of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Bridgewater got his NFL career off to a hot start after tearing apart the Falcons for 300+ passing yards and a rushing touchdown. After the hot start Bridgewater came back down to earth in the next few weeks while battling an inconsistent offensive line and limited offensive firepower.
While some people may still have their doubts about Bridgewater I can assure you that this kid is the real deal. Over the last month of the season Bridgewater has not only established himself as the top rookie quarterback, but as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, ranking 5th in passer rating, 2nd in completion percentage, and 7th in touchdown passes. The rookie quarterback has also had a tendency to feed off of the energy of the home crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, as Bridgewater has had multiple touchdown passes in his last three home games.
In the ever-important fantasy championship week I believe that Bridgewater has a chance to post a monster stat-line against a Bears team that is already making their off-season vacation plans. Opposing quarterbacks have feasted on the Bears defense this season, as they have allowed the most touchdown passes (33), and the second-most passing yards (4,006).
In what will most likely be a low-key week on the waiver wire in terms of transactions, I would rank Bridgewater at the top of my waiver priority big board this week. I expect Bridgewater and the Vikings offense to go out in style in front of the home crowd, allowing Marc Trestman and the rest of the Bears coaching staff to figure out their future coaching plans.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Devonta Freeman RB/Atlanta Falcons (1.9% Owned)
If you were to ask me before the season which Falcons running back would lead the team in carries I would have said Devonta Freeman. However, this prediction would not have been one based on talent, but on the durability of the running backs ahead of Freeman on the depth chart. Veteran running back Steven Jackson has somehow been able to stay healthy for a full-season, a feat I would not have imagined in at this point in his career.
Father time may have finally caught up to Jackson, as he suffered a pulled quad this weekend, allowing Freeman to get an increased role within the Falcons offense. Freeman made the most of his opportunity totaling 36 yards on just 5 carries (7.2 YPA) and one touchdown. Freeman did do the bulk of his work (31/36) on the long touchdown run, but still showed more flashes to be a more dynamic player than current no. 2 running back Jacquizz Rodgers (12/29/0).
A lot of Freemans fantasy potential depends on the ability for Steven Jackson to recover from his injury before the itso-facto playoff game against the Panthers this weekend. Early reports for Jackson’s status seem to indicate that he has a good chance at playing. However, if for some reason Jackson were unable to suit up this weekend I would expect it to be Freeman, not Rodgers, to carry the bulk of the carries for the Falcons offense.
Recommendation: Stash and See
Value: RB3 w/Potential
Ryan Tannehill QB/Miami Dolphins (48.8% Owned)
Despite being one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks throwing the ball down the field, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has quietly put together a season that ranks him as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor has done a fantastic job utilizing Tannehill’s athletic ability within the Dolphins offense this season, using much of the same principles he learned under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia.
This week Tannehill goes on my list as one of the best waiver wire additions due to a very owner friendly matchup against the Jets. I know that Tannehill struggled in his first matchup against the Rex Ryan-led defense (235/0/1), but I have a feeling Tannehill will bounce back.
The Jets defense has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. If you are the owner of one of the premier quarterbacks in fantasy football, there is a strong chance that they will not play a full-game if their playoff seeding has already determined. If you are an owner who finds themself in that bind, I would recommend finding another option if you are heading into a championship matchup. While I would still add the likes of Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater over Tannehill, I still feel that he has the potential to put up low-end QB1 number due to his owner-friendly matchup.
Recommendation: Add In Deep Leauges
Value: Low QB1
Charles Clay TE/Miami Dolphins (10.6% Owned)
As suspect as the Jets secondary has been in pass coverage this season, they have been especially susceptible to being burned by opposing tight ends, making me think that Charles Clay is going to be in for an increased workload this weekend.
The Jets defense has allowed an average of 11.5 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends, ranking them as the fifth-worst against the position this season.
Clay has not has the season that many in the Dolphins organization envisioned him having, as he has battled injuries for much of the year just to stay on the cusp of fantasy-relevance throughout the year. Clay is currently the 18th highest scoring tight end in fantasy football, and has been very touchdown-dependent for fantasy success.
Despite just posting 114 receiving yards against the Vikings last I would not expect that type of quality production next week. Clay’s 114 yards was just his first game topping triple-digits this season. In a week that it is crucial to get quality production out of your fantasy players, I would expect Clay to once again shift back to a touchdown-dependent TE1. While I would normally shy away from someone I am not going to get guaranteed production, it is worth pointing out that the Jets have allowed the second most receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season.
Albert Wilson WR/Kansas City Chiefs (0.0% Owned)
Now I have to admit when I looked at the Kansas City Chiefs stats over the past three weeks that something called Albert Wilson had racked up 19 targets, a number good enough to rank him second among Chiefs receivers, I let out a resounding “Who?” However, if Wilson continues to carve out meaningful playing time with the Chiefs first-team offense he could establish himself as a popular pick up in dynasty leagues.
Wilson found his way to the Chiefs after signing with the team as a priority UDFA after going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.
While I do not trust Alex Smith to finally be able to get the ball to his receivers on a consistent basis, I believe there is reason to think that Wilson could establish himself as the most consistent fantasy option out of the Chiefs receivers. Standing at 5’9” Wilson is not going to hurt defenses vertically, but what he lacks in deep-play ability, Wilson makes up for with sound route-running, and the ability to make things happen after the catch.
Next week Wilson does have a favorable matchup against a Chargers secondary that is being held together by super glue, giving me reason to believe that Wilson could potentially put a stamp on his rookie season. There is also hope that Alex Smith can finally end the scoreless streak for Chiefs wide receivers, as the Chargers secondary has allowed 5 touchdown receptions to opposing wide receivers in their last four games.
Recommendation: Add In Deep Leagues
Editor's note: Our bullet point articles are written to better explain our weekly rankings, which you can find here.
If you’re reading this you’re more than likely looking for advice for round 1 of the fantasy playoffs. Check out the below key points about the two most commonly streamed positions during these do or die weeks, QB and Defense/Special Teams. Good Luck!
Start of the Week:
QB –Russell Wilson at Philadelphia- #6 in Weekly Rankings
Is Wilson the best fantasy QB this week? Probably not, but everyone above him is just too obvious to talk about and I’d only need to say their names as to why you should love them this week. Russell Wilson travels to Philadelphia, the 26th ranked team in terms of passing yards against. Russell Wilson’s rushing stats have been amazingly consistent and high with over 30 rushing yards in 7 straight weeks including four games over 70 yards and two games over 100 yards. It’s a given that Wilson will add fantasy points via the rush. Going up against one of the weakest pass defenses against fantasy QBs, Wilson should be able to have one of his best passing days of the season. When he does both things well, we’ve seen Russellmania be able to put up top 3 QB weeks.
D/ST – Minnesota v. NY Jets - #1 in Weekly Rankings
The Vikings will be without star rookie LB Anthony Barr but I’m still placing them in the top spot. This defense just put up a 30 spot in standard leagues with its two blocked punt TDs and all around domination against the Carolina Panthers. Their 35 sacks rank 4th in the NFL and they’re suddenly the 9th ranked fantasy defense. This week they’re matching up with Geno Smith. The Jets are literally scared to let their QB throw as evidenced by last week’s bizarre game-plan where Smith threw 13 passes. If the Vikings put 8 or 9 in the box and stop the Jets on first down and create 2nd and 3rd and long, we could be seeing many sacks and turnovers and very possibly a score for this defense.
QB – Ryan Tannehill - #10 in Weekly Rankings
Tannehill is coming off a dud in a prime matchup against the Jets last week. However, he’s coming back home where he’s had multiple TDs in his last three outings. Tannehill is in the midst of a breakout year and the addition of rushing stats to his game via the read option have made him a weekly fringe QB1. This week he faces the Ravens, a team who may be struggling against the pass more than anyone in the NFL right now. The Ravens have been a different defense since star CB Jimmy Smith went down for the season. They’ve allowed over 32 fantasy points to QBs in 6 PT KD leagues in 3 out of the last 4 weeks and we all remember the 6 TD game they gave up to Big Ben. If things weren’t bad enough, All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been suspended for the remainder of the season for using Adderall. The Dolphins should be able to move the ball at will and Tannehill should extend his streak of multiple TD games at home.
D/ST – New Orleans v. Carolina- #8 in Weekly Rankings
The New Orleans Saints are fantasy football’s 28th ranked defense. I don’t really have much good to say about them other than the play of Keenan Lewis and Cameron Jordan. The high ranking of this team should tell you just how much the Carolina Panthers are struggling. In their last two road games against Minnesota and Philadelphia, the Panthers have allowed opposing fantasy defenses to score a mind boggling 30 and 35 fantasy points respectively. Cam Newton has 7 turnovers in his last 3 games and the Panthers’ special teams is coming off a week where they allowed two blocked punts. The Saints have already played the Panthers on the road, a game they won 28-10 and a game in which they had their best fantasy defensive outing of the season. The Panthers are in the midst of an epic collapse and I don’t think a trip to New Orleans is the answer. The Saints are most likely available in many leagues and I highly recommend them as a matchup play.
QB – Ryan Fitzpatrick at Jacksonville - #23 in Weekly Rankings
Warning! Do not chase last week’s six TDs game from Fitzmagic. It’s so tempting to think that Fitzpatrick can keep this up, but he’s a journeyman part time starting QB. We’ve seen Matt Flynn do this and completely disappear off the face of the earth, so please do not think this kind of play will continue. Fitzpatrick is in his 9th season and is on his 5th team. That is telling. In addition, Jacksonville sounds like a great matchup but it’s not. The Jaguars rank 20th against fantasy QBs but have gotten better as the season as progressed as they’ve only given up one 20 point fantasy QB game since week 4. Stay away, do not be baited into this dud in the playoffs.
D/ST – Indianapolis at Cleveland - #18 in Weekly Rankings
Brian Hoyer has been completing a lot of passes to the opposing team but this week the Colts will be without Pro Bowl CB Vontae Davis. Davis is the backbone of this defense and frankly he’s the only reason it’s even mediocre. Without him the Colts are vulnerable against both the run and pass. Last time the Colts were without Vontae Davis was 11 snaps into a game against the Steelers, a game in which the Colts gave up 51 points. Look for a big time shootout in this game.
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.
Week 8 bullet points for QB/DEFs
Tony Romo v. Washington - #6 in Weekly Rankings
Four weeks ago Tony Romo threw for 262 yds and 3 TD against a poor Saints defense in a dominating 38-17 home win. Romo hadn’t broken out prior to that week 4 performance and with three difficult pass defenses on the horizon in Houston, Seattle and the Giants, he still had plenty of doubters in the fantasy world.
Fast forward to week 8 and Romo has certainly caught the attention of football fans and fantasy owners worldwide. His three “difficult” matchups resulted in a per game average of 284 yds and a 7/2 TD to INT ratio. Outside of the top 5 QBs (P. Manning, Luck, Wilson, Rodgers, Rivers) there may not be a hotter and better QB to own at the moment. Washington, the 31st ranked team against fantasy QBs, comes to Dallas in week 8 for a nationally televised Monday Night Football matchup.
The Redskins just lost arguably their best defensive player and pass rusher in Brian Orakpo for the season and their downward spiral against the pass will certainly be on display for the world to see. The calendar still reads October, so look for Romo and the Cowboys to continue their dominance. The floor is awfully high, as is the ceiling in this cake walk of a matchup.
Dallas Cowboys - #2 in Weekly Rankings
I can’t help but to continue to pile on the Redskins here. Newly appointed starting QB Colt McCoy is somewhat of a hero in Texas, but I don’t think he’ll be treated too kindly in Dallas. McCoy will be forced to try to make big plays in a game that Washington should be trailing from the get go.
McCoy is a dink and dunk type of QB and when he’s forced to try to make big plays, big plays will happen…..for the defense. In 2010-2011 as a starting QB, McCoy was sacked 55 times in 21 games and threw only 20 TD vs. 20 INT. With RG III being close to a return, look for the Cowboys to end the Colt McCoy era in Washington by racking up sacks and turnovers in bunches along the way.
Ryan Tannehill @ Jacksonville - #12 in Weekly Rankings
Ryan Tannehill is in the midst of his coming out party in his 3rd season in the league. He’s on pace for about 3800 yards passing, 27 TD and 13 INT, a fine season for a top 15 QB in any year. However, his last three weeks have may have gone under the radar to the average fantasy owner but the mindful owner, should have been able to see potential for greatness. His 6/3 TD ratio in these 3 weeks is nice and he’s been consistent throwing 2 TD in each week.
That's all fine and good but the potential for greatness theory does not kick in until you check out his rushing totals. The man has 132 yards rushing in the last three weeks! Now this is exciting stuff. These rushing yards have not come as a result of some fluky scrambles either. Tannehill has been lining up in the pistol and is getting 3-6 designed runs called for him, ala Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
He’s turned these runs into huge gains including a 40 yard run and a 30 yard run. This trend is not going anywhere. Miami goes to Jacksonville to take on the 25th ranked defense against fantasy QBs. Jacksonville, an already putrid defense lost 2 of their better players in linebacker Paul Posluszny and defensive lineman Andre Branch to injury in week 7. Look for Tannehill continue to his hot streak and his running ways in this matchup. Start him as a bye week option or matchup play and hold onto him since he may provide huge value the rest of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Minnesota - #11 in Weekly Rankings
If you’re streaming defenses, and many of us are, this is one defense that should be available in most leagues.Tampa has had some real disasters, including the week 6 debacle against Baltimore, that have skewed their statistics in the wrong direction.
The numbers are not lying. This defense is really not a good one, and there might only be 1 or 2 matchups where I would recommend playing them. Well this week presents one of those matchups with a home game against Teddy Bridgewater and Minnesota. Bridgewater in 4 games this season has only 1 passing TD vs. 5 INT.
That is not a typo. Again, he has 1 passing TD in 4 games. And also not a typo, he’s been sacked 15 times in four games including 13 in the past 2 weeks. Tampa Bay has some talented defensive players in LBs Lavonte David and Mason Foster and defensive lineman Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson, that should be able to force Bridgewater, a QB with 0 success outside of a home game against Atlanta, into several more sacks and turnovers. By going with Tampa you’re taking a leap of faith but the upside of this matchup is just too high to not give it a try.
Jay Cutler at New England - #13 in Weekly Rankings
After starting the season with 8 TD and only 2 INT in the first three weeks of the season it seemed like Jay Cutler had turned the corner in becoming an elite NFL and fantasy QB. He won back to back road games in weeks 2 and 3 despite his 2 best playmakers in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall playing injured. In the last few weeks, his wide receivers have gotten healthy, but Cutler has regressed to the quarterback we’ve been accustomed to seeing in Chicago.
His last 4 performances have been underwhelming to say the least with only 6 TD and 5 INT including games against poor pass defenses (Carolina, Atlanta). The Bears’ many injuries to their starting defense have limited Cutler’s time on the field and therefore his upside. He has not been given great field position and the offensive opportunities in total have been few and far between.
Week 8 brings a matchup in Foxboro with the Patriots, who have some problems of their own with their best defensive player and pass rusher Chandler Jones out. However, the Bears’ decimated defense won’t be able to stop the Patriots. As a result, Cutler will be held off the field and Cutler even when he is on the field, is looking too much like the old Cutler to justify starting him.
Denver is the 8th ranked fantasy defense headed into week 8. They’ve been fairly consistent throughout the season despite matchups against potent offenses such as Indianapolis, Kansas City, Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco. Normally at home, I’d recommend them against just about anyone but not against San Diego.
Since taking over as head coach of the Chargers in 2013, Mike McCoy has found a way to play the Broncos in high scoring tough games, with his offense scoring 27 and 20 points in 2 matchups against the Broncos.
Phillip Rivers is not going to make many mistakes and even if the Broncos do win the game easily, the Chargers will put up too many points and there won’t be enough turnovers for the Broncos to be worth a start. If you own them, check out our rankings and stream one of the defenses ranked above them.
In this episode, the Helpers talk about the fantasy implications of two games including the Packers/Dolphins and Bengals/Panthers, hand out their weekly awards and give a brief preview of tonight's game and its possible fantasy outcome.
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:
· 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.
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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
· 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.