• Early Returns: Post-Draft Mock

    May brings about several things: flowers, Spring, and Post-Draft Mocks. Prior to the NFL Draft, all mocks and rankings are fluid due to the huge changes that can occur thanks to the NFL Draft. Every year players quickly ascend or steeply fall in the wake of the NFL Draft. This year has been no different. In this two-part series, I am going to go over a recent mock draft done by FantasyFootballHelpers.com and friends. Each round I will tell you who I think got the best value, who reached the most, and some overall thoughts on the round itself.

    Round 1

    Value — It is pretty hard to get a ton of value in the first round but Antonio Brown going 1.06 to Josh Wyatt will likely be a great value. According to FantasyPros.com, Brown is ranked between 3 and 5 overall, making his fall to sixth, not unprecedented, but valuable nonetheless.

    Reach — I was the culprit of the biggest reach in round 1 when I took Mike Evans at 1.03. I’m a big proponent of the Matthew Berry adage, “You can’t win your league in round one but you can lose it.” Taking Evans before Brown, Beckham, and Jones may seem like Hot Take Fuel but I really felt that Evans’ floor is as high as any of the above mentioned WRs. He also doesn’t have to deal with Le’Veon Bell and Marty Bryant, or Eli Manning being washed, or a new OC. While I stand by my pick, I also acknowledge that many will view it as a reach.

    Thoughts — Round 1 went about how I anticipated with 7 RBs and 5 WRs being taken. As the picks went on I could see that last year’s RB success was dictating many drafter’s strategies towards an RB-heavy approach. I encourage you to go into your drafts with a fluid strategy that allows you to zig while others are zagging.

    Round 2

    Value — T.Y. Hilton went off the board as the WR9. I love what the Colts did with Hilton last year on the way to his WR5 finish. Of the top 5 WRs last season, Hilton was the least touchdown dependent with only 6 TDs. His targets, completion %, and aDOT (143, 64%, 13.5 yards) could all be replicated easily and his TDs could see a significant jump.

    Reach — I felt like Dez Bryant going as the WR8 was a bit of a reach early in the second round. He’s been incredibly TD dependent over the course of his career and his health has been consistently an issue the past two years. While he may have huge upside, we have seen that Dez Bryant also has an incredibly low floor.

    Thoughts — I felt like this round kind of sucked. There were a lot of picks that I wasn’t in love with and very few picks that I thought offered a ton of value.

    Round 3

    Value — I got Amari Cooper as my WR3. The core of Evans, Nuk Hopkins, and Cooper all but assures me of 450 targets with huge touchdown upside. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cooper but this should be the year he overtakes Michael Crabtree as Oakland’s WR1.

    Reach — Blake taking a QB in the 3rd round was a bold strategy that didn’t pay off as the rest of the group held off on starting a QB run. Another QB wasn’t taken for 18 picks so using that kind of draft capital on a QB did not pay off.

    Thoughts — There was a lot of good value at WR for people to draft in the third round. Cooper, Baldwin, Jeffrey, Robinson, and Watkins all have low-end WR1 upside. Through 3 rounds, you can see the divergence in strategy among owners.

    Round 4

    Value — You have to love getting Jarvis Landry as WR19 off the board. He is a polarizing player because of his lack of measurable but years of production have proven that Landry is a high-end WR2. With finishes of WR13 and WR10 in the 2015 and 2016 respectively, WR19 seems like Landry’s floor. I see him returning lots of value from this draft slot.

    Reach — Julian Edelman in the fourth round is a little rich for my blood. He’s at best going to be their 3rd option in the passing game which lowers the floor that you traditionally get with Edelman. Golden Tate went 18 picks after Edelman and offers the same kind of game but with more upside.

    Thoughts — A lot of polarizing players with a wide range of outcomes started coming off the board in Round 4. Players like Marshawn Lynch, Tyreek Hill, and Marty Bryant truly have monstrously wide ranges of outcomes but their owners must have felt the juice was worth the squeeze at this point. I prefer not to take chances this early in the draft but there is no arguing these players could all wind up as top-tier players at their position.

    Round 5

    Value — Jamison Crowder was a great value for Giana and I’ve already mentioned Golden Tate (drafted by Fugazi) as a player that I really liked. Crowder built upon a strong rookie campaign in 2016 and in 2017 199 targets will be vacated by the losses of Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. I think Crowder will see an increase in targets that will lead to a strong WR2 campaign.

    Reach — Donte Moncrief is touchdown dependent and nearly impossible to trust from week to week. If this was a best ball league I wouldn’t hate it as much but there is no way that Moncrief should go in Round 5 of a normal PPR draft.

    Thoughts — With Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram going back-to-back, I’m wondering who people think is the Saints RB to own. Two things have been clear over the past two seasons: Mark Ingram is a very good RB and Sean Payton hates him. In 2015, Ingram was in the running for the top RB in fantasy before his injury. In 2016, Ingram was ultra-efficient but was frequently spelled by Tim Hightower.

    Round 6

    Value — Stefon Diggs is on the verge of a breakout and getting him for my flex was a big-time coup. He is one of the best route runners in the league and frequently turns CBs inside out like Stevie Johnson in his prime. I’d have been okay with Diggs being drafted in the fourth but I got him in the sixth.

    Reach — Samaje Perine going in the sixth was a bit startling. Not to say that he can’t return value there but I think that with this group and how teams were being built, George could’ve waited for at least one round to get him. That said, I know how high George is on Perine and I’m completely okay with overdrafting a player you really believe in.

    Thoughts — If you scroll way back up to the Round 3 I explained how taking A-Rodg in the third was a reach and the three QBs who went in Round 6 further proves my point. Brady, Wilson, and Brees are in the same tier as Aaron Rodgers but available much later. Even with these 3 going, a true QB run wasn’t started which meant more QB value late in the draft.

    Round 7

    Value — Fugazi finally jumped on an RB and got Bilal Powell as his RB1. With how strong he is at WR, I love getting Powell in this PPR setup. Powell will have a high-floor due to his involvement in the passing game and likelihood of the Jets being atrocious.

    Reach — Jamaal Charles in Round 7 was not good. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it. He’s CJ Anderson’s back-up with terrible knees and a bad OL. I also wasn’t a fan of Cole Beasley because of how strongly I feel about Ryan Switzer. Switzer is a more athletic, cheaper version of Cole Beasley. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beasley phased out of the offense as the season progresses.

    Thoughts — Like I said earlier if you identify a player as “your guy” I’m okay with reaching but Beasley, Charles, and to a lesser extent Hunter Henry don’t have the upside to draft them ahead of some of the players drafted at their positions directly after them.

    Round 8

    Value — Paul Perkins was a guy I was targeting in the 8th but Josh Wyatt got him early in the round. I love his upside this season and think he was a nice pickup.

    Reach — I’ve never understood the hype behind Kevin White who had one good season against terrible Big XII defenses. Since then he hasn’t been healthy and is the third option for a bad offense. If the Bears go with Trubisky I would drop White even further.

    Thoughts — There was a mini-TE run in the 8th which is about when I think you can expect many of the second-tier TEs to go. I think that if you are mapping out your draft, you can pencil in the rounds 7-9 as a good place to grab a TE. Personally, I took Travis Kelce in the 4th because I felt as though with my core of WR and Kelce at TE, I would lock in a weekly scoring advantage at two positions by Round 4. Had I opted to pass on Kelce, this is the round I would have targeted a second-tier TE.

    This is the half-way point of our draft and there are some teams that I really like. Some owners have went RB-Heavy, others have went ZeroRB, and others have went a balanced route while still building a strong squad. The second half of the draft will be where teams separate themselves from the pack. Stay tuned for the conclusion!

  • 6 bargain bin running backs for your 2017 fantasy draft

    Football isn't back, YET!!! But there is always time to prepare ahead for your draft. Especially since the exciting 2017 NFL Draft just passed. We already know who the top guys are for every position on every team. This article aims to help you get a few names in your head. So, when your draft day comes you make the right decision to scoop up these Bargain Bin players. Don't you love going into a store and find the clearance section with all the discounted items? It almost feels like you got away with stealing something. That is the best feeling in a draft as well when you get value in the later rounds. The first installment focuses on the running back position. We will look at just a few guys who will be available late in drafts that you probably should go get when you don't know who else to select. Never waste a pick.

    Doug Martin — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Martin was suspended for the 1st four games of the season because he tested positive for Adderall. It's been an issue he has tried to get over and he will now seek the proper help to get over his addiction. Doug Martin will go under looked and forgotten about. This will be a great choice to scoop a lead back past the 10th round. Doug "Mighty Mouse" Martin has Charles Sims, Jeremy McNichols and Jacquizz Rodgers behind him, who will all be competing for third-down work. They're no competition to a back they just gave a five-year contract to for $35 million.

    Derrick Henry—Tennessee Titans

    The days of Derrick Henry becoming a No. 1 are soon approaching. He's still behind DeMarco Murray, but Murray isn't your typical pillar of health. The second DeMarco is out, Henry becomes a top 10 talent. At 6'3, 247 lbs. Henry is a battering ram in between the tackles and has the speed to get away from the secondary. This is the best handcuff in the NFL PLEASE TAKE NOTICE.

    Robert Kelly — Washington Redskins

    Mr. Kelly burst onto the scene midway through 2016 season. He made a name for himself against the Green Bay Packers, with 24 carries, 137 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  He wasn't quite able to duplicate that performance, any other game. On the bright side, he was consistently fed the ball 18 plus times a game 5 out of the last 9 games of the season. Kelly has Semaje Perine nipping at his heels but "Fat Rob" is still a worthwhile pick.

    Jamaal Charles — Denver Broncos

    Many have given up on the former best RB in the NFL. Who hasn't been himself since 2014 campaign, where he averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 1,000 yards rushing. The now 30-year-old back has gotten a breath of fresh "Mile High Air". I think it was a great but risky signing by Denver who needs a running game to protect Trevor Siemian. Charles is being put in a great environment to succeed behind the struggling C.J. Anderson who lost his job briefly to Devontae Booker. Let's be serious Anderson runs hot & cold like a faucet so this is a great opportunity to seize the moment and get a possible steal of a pick. 

    LeGarette Blount — New England Patriots

    Second only behind man-child David Johnson in rushing touchdowns, Blount had a resurgence with the New England Patriots. In any short yardage situation, LeGarette was fed and converted more often than not leading to 18 touchdowns. That's a hard stat to ignore when touchdowns are all we want from our fantasy players, especially someone you can grab in the last round of a draft.

    Joe Mixon — Cincinnati Bengals

    Cincinnati made this choice for a reason. There were rumors they wanted Leonard Fournette at pick nine. But once he was taken Mixon was clearly the next best talent to wait on. The Bengals organization is known for taking chances on troubled youth. Despite his off, the field actions cost him a first round selection and scared many teams away doesn't make him less of a beast on the gridiron. Mixon already steps in as a possible lead back by season's end. I strongly suggest you remember this name most importantly that will get forgotten in such a crowded backfield.

    More will unfold during the off-season and training camp that will lead to more Bargain Bin Backs. But for now, these are my favorites going into the 2017 NFL Season. 

  • How Jameis Winston can be a Top 5 fantasy quarterback

     “Famous” Jameis Winston has proven that he can be a productive quarterback on a consistent basis. Will he take the next step toward becoming an elite quarterback? It's very likely and here is why.

    It's obvious that most great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady have weapons surrounding them. Winston had a great rookie year having only Mike Evans and a mediocre Vincent Jackson. In his second year in the league he found a red zone target, TE Cameron Brate. The two of them connected for 8 TD’s. Evans got the majority of the yards downfield, but Winston used Brate heavily in the red zone.

    In 2015 Winston completed 40% of his passes in the red zone. In 2016, that number rose to 45%. That number is a little scary, but 5% improvement in one year is pretty good. From inside the 10 yard line he completed 58% compared to 2015’s 39% of passes. He has had some issues with interceptions which is an issue. His arm is sometimes too strong for his own good. He has no problem airing the ball out, which could lead to a huge season now that he has speed is Desean Jackson. However, I think he will start to ease up a bit and think more before he throws the ball.

    With the Bucs’ first round draft pick they selected TE O.J. Howard. The numbers for Howard are not all that impressive, but it is important to remember that Alabama ran the ball a lot. Howard will play a lot in the red zone in a two TE set. He is an above average blocker, so this could help buy Winston a little more time to move around or stay in the pocket which he already does well.

    By far the biggest addition for Winston was Desean Jackson. DJax has averaged almost 68 yards per game in his last 3 years. That is not all that impressive, but when Winston was getting it done with 2 weapons, and now he has 3 maybe even 4 weapons, the NFC South better watch out. One of the things that I really enjoy about Winston is his ability to extend plays. He is pretty fast if he breaks out of the pocket and keeps the ball, but he likes to dance around to throw it more often. It is fun to watch, but for fantasy owners it is a big deal. He often turns what could be a sack into a 15 or 20 yard completion. His ability to keep those drives alive gets him to the red zone where he has proven he can find the paint.

    Fantasy Football ADP for Jameis Winston

    Winston has a great football I.Q. He understands his situations extremely well for being shoved straight into a starting role and only having played in the league for two years. Winston has used virtual reality training in the offseason to simulate game-like action without taking hits. These virtual snaps will help him mature and further develop. I would just say to wait to draft him until some of the elite quarterbacks leave the board. He would be great in dynasty formats.

     (ADP Charts For Jameis Winston 2017)

    Fantasy Football ADP for Jameis Winston

  • 10 post-Draft fantasy thoughts from across “The Pond”

    1) Deshaun Watson will be the No. 1 rookie QB in 2017

    What Watson showed time and time again in college was his ability to win. No matter what the situation was, Watson was never stymied. With the surrounding talent in Houston of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller and even the emergence of C.J. Fiedorowicz at tight end, Watson will have only Tom Savage to overcome to earn the keys to the fantasy kingdom. No other rookie QB will have either the same opportunity to start or the same level of surrounding talent and with a top 10 offensive line protecting him, Watson will have all day to throw to his playmakers and is guaranteed to rack up points with his legs too.

    2) I want all of the Bucs

    No one has had a happier offseason so far than Jameis Winston. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added even more offensive talent to an already stacked group and so Winston is poised to take the league by storm entering his third season. 2016’s WR2, Mike Evans, was joined by blue-chip deep threat Desean Jackson in free agency and first-round TE OJ Howard, one of the best tight end prospects to be drafted in the last five years. The hopeful return of Doug Martin should also bring a balance to the offense and allow Winston to take advantage of thinner secondaries. All of the above mentioned players have the potential to rank in the top 10 of their positions come the end of the season and Winston in particular seems poised for a top 5 campaign.

    3) The Chargers WR corps is stacked and I don’t like it

    Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin and now rookie Mike Williams?! The Los Angeles Chargers have the deepest WR group in the NFL and it’s not even close. All five of the afore mentioned players could all conceivably rank in the top 36 wide receivers by the time the season has ended and while that seems like a good thing for fantasy, is it really?

    Keenan Allen is the clear-cut best WR from this group but after him it’s just a crapshoot. The argument could be made to take any of the other four guys after him and that will cause complications during draft season. With so many mouths to feed it will be tough to predict who which guys will earn the most snaps and so there is a likelihood of some of the Chargers WRs being over-drafted.

    4) Mike Williams will be under-drafted

    Speaking of Chargers WRs draft positions, Williams’ draft compatriot and new Titans WR Corey Davis has been dominating the recent rookie hype and Williams appears to have fallen by the wayside. With a playing style reminiscent of Dez Bryant and Keyshawn Johnson, Williams’ redzone production potential could have big impacts in fantasy this season. With TEs Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry drawing the defensive attention in the redzone, Williams’ jump-ball mastery could quickly make him one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets. Corey Davis is a more dynamic and versatile receiver, but don’t sleep on Mike Williams, especially when his ADP is established.

    5) It’s time to say goodbye to Tajae Sharpe

    It was fun while it lasted Tajae. The fantasy love affair the Titans had with Sharpe seems to have come to halt for the former 5th round pick. While he will still be a bit-part player in Tennessee this season, the addition of WR Corey Davis with the 5th overall pick in the draft clearly shows what the Titans think of Sharpe. Rishard Matthews was one of the best stories (and bargains) in fantasy last season and so the combination of Davis and Matthews is likely to steal most of Marcus Mariota’s passes away from Sharpe. Delanie Walker had a breakout season at TE in 2016 also and his role is likely to be expanded again in 2017. Even DeMarco Murray got in on the pass-catching party last year and will turn some of Sharpe’s targets his way. All in all, the Titans offense looks ready to roll in fantasy in 2017. Sadly for Tajae Sharpe, it appears he won’t be a major cog in the process.

    6) Jeremy Hill…you’ve been put on notice, sir

    No matter what your stance is on Joe Mixon, he is undeniably talented and if things had turned out differently he may have even been a top 10 pick. For the Cincinnati Bengals this is great value. For Jeremy Hill this is bad news. Hill has battled injuries and simply poor play over the last few seasons and now appears to be a shade of the running-back he flashed glimpses of early in his career. Giovanni Bernard restricts Hill’s use in the passing game and Mixon is better than Hill in every facet of the game. While he still has the potential to overcome this, Hill’s role will likely be reduced down to a glorified goal-line back in Cincinnati this season and he may be in the market for a new home in 2018.

    7) The 2017 Bengals are a souped-up version of the Houston Texans

    As mentioned above, the addition of Joe Mixon and also John Ross, the speedster WR, to the Bengals this offseason adds even more talent to a team with offensive skill position pro-bowlers coming out of their ears. Their offensive roster is somewhat reminiscent of the Houston Texans roster in 2016. AJ Green is a top 3 wide receiver and will draw coverage away from John Ross who will be able to take advantage of open fields with his speed. This complementary receiving duo calls to mind that of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, a relationship that operates in a very similar dynamic. A versatile, pass-catching running-back in Joe Mixon serves as a more explosive Lamar Miller and when healthy Tyler Eifert is a top 3 TE in the NFL, greatly outperforming CJ Fiedorowicz. With all that talent the 2017 Bengals could be a fantasy goldmine. Yet as we witnessed with the 2016 Houston Texans, the absence of a passable QB can render this talent useless. Your move, Andy Dalton.

    8) Christian McCaffrey should be a top 10 PPR draft pick

    Fitting that the 8th thought focus on the 8th overall pick and new Carolina Panthers RB, Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey’s outstanding receiving capabilities for a running-back are of such standing that it is quite possible he will play more snaps at receiver than at running-back during his rookie season. His natural ability for catching the football and unparalleled after-the-catch ability will make him a superstar in PPR formats. With the all-round game and athleticism of David Johnson, McCaffrey’s talent far outweighs the risk of taking him high in the draft and positioned on a Panthers offense ready to rebound in 2017, it is likely McCaffrey will be a front-runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

    9) The time has come to accept TE as the new committee position

    Fantasy owners have always been scorned by the dreaded running-back by committee approach. Fun, exciting prospects can have their fantasy potential swiped away due to a division of the volume, rendering both players effectively useless for fantasy purposes. Sadly, it appears that this virus has spread from running-backs to tight ends. Committee approaches make sense for teams with no depth at the position but it seems even teams with good quality TEs are still employing this tactic. Washington is homed to star tight end Jordan Reed yet due to injuries journeyman Vernon Davis now receives significant snaps. The Chargers have recently supplemented Antonio Gates with Hunter Henry and while Rob Gronkowski may be the best tight end of all time, injuries have forced the Patriots into providing back-up for him in the form of Dwayne Allen. The realisation of the spread of TE committees around the league makes Greg Olsen’s career and fantasy production even more impressive.

    10) Carson Wentz will be the biggest bargain of 2017

    Carson Wentz was not set up to succeed in his first year in Philadelphia, being surrounded by arguably the worst WR corps in the NFL. However, the offseason additions of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith will allow Wentz to take chances and show-case his arm talent due to the big-play nature of their games. A solidified offensive line and a deep running-back committee (*sighs*) will keep the pressure off Wentz and allow him to scan the field and rack up huge numbers. The second year jump of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota last year raised both of those players to fantasy stardom and there is no reason to assume the same won’t happen to Wentz. With a current ADP of the 11th/12th round and the potential for a top 10 fantasy QB season, Wentz could potentially be the Matt Ryan of 2017.

    Thank you for reading, follow Will Pendleton on twitter @willpendosports

  • Fantasy Film Projector: Alvin Kamara

    When it comes to identifying traits in running backs that produce immediate fantasy value, proficiency in pass blocking, ball security, route running and receiving ability are often most important. These traits are valuable because they're important when avoiding turnovers, which is often the difference in a rookie running back playing vs. standing on the sideline.

    Opportunity is paramount when it comes to fantasy value, and if a player has to leave the game because he can't identify blitz pickups on third downs, he'll likely miss out on plays when his number is called on either a run or pass play. When that happens, potential fantasy points go out the window.

    Tennessee running back prospect Alvin Kamara is proficient in a few of these categories, but not enough to make him a running back you should immediately target in your redraft leagues unless he finds himself surrounded by a ton of talented teammates. He has good hands and turned plenty of screen passes into long runs while at Tennessee. You'll see in the clip above how he's able to use his balance to turn a short pass into a touchdown against ranked opponent Georgia.

    Kamara has good balance when he runs and decent hands, even though his hand size is below average for NFL running back prospects. His good pad level also allows him to shed defenders once he gets momentum, but one athletic weakness may prevent him from being effective as a receiver at the NFL level. This is illustrated in the clip below.

    Overall, there are some likeable traits regarding Kamara's fantasy value. He just doesn't present a trump card ability which makes me uncertain on how he will win at the NFL level. He has decent hands, but lacks breakaway speed and agility to create yards after catch. He has  I'll be avoiding Kamara in redraft fantasy leagues unless he lands in an incredible situation such as Green Bay or Indianapolis.

     

  • Five reasons why Danny Woodhead will shine in PPR leagues

    It's easy to look back at what a player once was and talk yourself into him drafting him with hopes he'll exude greatness once again. When it comes to Baltimore Ravens RB Danny Woodhead, the potential to reclaim past success is definitely intriguing.

    Just two seasons ago with the San Diego Chargers at the ripe age of 30, Woodhead was a PPR (points per reception) monster who piled up over 100 targets en route to 80 catches for 755 yards and six touchdowns. He finished 3rd overall in PPR scoring among running backs, behind only Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson.

    Throughout his career, Woodhead flourished when he played in all 16 games with the Chargers (a feat he only accomplished in two of four seasons with the team). In 2013, he racked up 605 yards on 76 catches and six touchdowns which ranked him 12th overall in PPR leagues.

    Good situations

    Woodhead's been blessed with prominent quarterbacks during his time in the NFL. Woodhead played along the likes of Tom Brady (2010-2012) and Philip Rivers (2013-2016), both Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Both also helped Woodhead string together several seasons of 30+ catches, with Rivers favoring Woodhead the most after targeting the small running back over 190 times in 2013 and 2015.

    Now, Woodhead is again thrust into a potentially good situation playing alongside Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Flacco in Baltimore. When it comes to his potential for opportunity with the Ravens, Woodhead fantasy owners have plenty to be excited about.

    What we like about him now

    Top RB Kenneth Dixon is expected to miss the first four games of the season after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Dixon accrued 41 total targets last season with the Ravens, and the coaching staff is still very high on him so don't expect Woodhead to stay the top back all season, but it does bold well for his short-term value.

    A gifted receiver, Woodhead possesess a skill proven to age like fine wine. Just look at how players like Fred Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald have extended their careers despite their age due to their catching ability. At age 32, Jackson ranked 11th overall in PPR scoring in 2013 for running backs. Fitzgerald ranked 11th overall in PPR scoring in 2016 at age 33. There's no reason to believe age could limit Woodhead as a receiver in Baltimore.

    The Ravens are also a very pass-oriented team, especially to the running back position. Last season, the 3-headed monster of Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon and Kyle Juszczyk combined for 125 targets. It's not out of the question that Woodhead sees 10+ targets in Week 1.

    The current depth chart among receivers in Baltimore should only help Woodhead's cause to be involved in the passing game. With top target hogs Steve Smith now gone and also WR4 Kamar Aiken, the Ravens receivers consist of an aging one-trick pony in Mike Wallace, underachieving and injury-prone Breshad Perriman, and a host of lesser-known names Michael Campanaro, Vince Mayle, Chris Moore and Kenny Bell. While the draft could obviously change things, it looks like Woodhead will see a prominent passing role at least early on this season.

    Woodhead's current average draft position is in the eighth round, right near players like Dion Lewis, C.J. Prosise, and Giovani Bernard. With the Bengals likely to add another running back in the draft, Lewis becoming less of a factor as the Patriots added several RBs, and Prosise playing behind Eddie Lacy, no running back in that group has a more clearly defined role than Woodhead.

    Causes for concern

    The biggest worry one might have about drafting Woodhead is his injury history. He's coming off his second ACL tear and is now 32 years old. While age isn't a concern when it comes to receiving ability, injuries at that age tend to heal slower and you'll have to wonder if his route running will be affected.

    Overall verdict

    Woodhead is a good value for PPR leagues in the eighth round. Draft him if you have a chance. At the very least, he'll be good for four weeks before Dixon comes on and may still have a role since the Ravens planned on signing him even before the Dixon suspension.

    Nathan Rupert/Flickr

Podcasts

Episode 178: Matt Harmon breaks down our wide receiver rankings

Monday, 22 May 2017 00:00
A bonus podcast for you guys. Matt Harmon of TheFantasyFootballers.com breaks down our writer Dominick's wide receiver rankings here. Be sure to check out TheFantasyFootballers.com Draft Kit as well. What do you you get out
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Episode 177: Wide receiver values w/guest Matt Harmon of TheFantasyFootballers.com

Friday, 19 May 2017 00:00
Matt Harmon, a wide receiver enthusiast who has contributed to websites such as Footballguys.com, NFL.com and currently TheFantasyFootballers.com, joins the podcast to discuss wide receiver ADP values and which rookies presen
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Episode 176: Crowded backfields and improving offenses

Thursday, 11 May 2017 00:00
George and Will discuss Minnesota, Cleveland and New England's crowded backfields and which running backs you should draft or avoid drafting in 2017. They also talk about Josh Gordon's denial for reinstatement into the NFL an
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Episode 175: NFL Veterans Stock Changes Due to NFL Draft

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 00:00
After not talking since week 16 of the 2016 NFL season Jaben and Will continue to give thoughts on a few more rookies, but most importantly how the draft will effect the fantasy value of NFL veterans. From the Los Angeles Cha
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Episode 174: Post NFL Draft Stock Watch

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 00:00
The band is back together as the boys from the 30 minute drill are back to give 10 rookies they are looking at as the offseason concludes. Jaben and Will give their thoughts on these rookies' landing spots and their potential
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Episode 173: Early Fantasy Quarterback Thoughts and QB Tiers

Tuesday, 02 May 2017 00:00
On today's episode Adam and Ferris go through some news from the NFL including the Denver Broncos signing of Jamaal Charles to go along with some of the fifth year rookie options that are being accepted and declined. After ne
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Waiver Wire

Why San Francisco 49ers running back Joe Williams is a perfect Zero RB candidate

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 00:00
When we look to draft a player to our fantasy team, we often seek the most talented players we can find. However, looking at the coaches offensive philosophy and which players best fit their system can be very telling in term
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Fantasy Film Projector: James Conner

Thursday, 13 April 2017 00:00
Editor's note: The Fantasy Film Projector is a process that identifies player traits correlated with fantasy football success. Those traits include receiving ability, route running, (points per reception leagues), play streng
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Fantasy Film Projector: Joe Mixon

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:00
Editor's note: The Fantasy Film Projector is a process that identifies player traits typically correlated with fantasy football success. Those traits include receiving ability and route running (points per reception leagues),
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Fantasy Film Projector: Samaje Perine

Sunday, 02 April 2017 00:00
Editor's note: The Fantasy Film Projector is a process that identifies player traits typically correlated with fantasy football success. Those traits include receiving ability, route running, (points per reception leagues), p
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Fantasy Film Projector: Christian McCaffrey

Monday, 13 March 2017 00:00
Editor's note: This is the second installment of the Fantasy Film Projector series for 2017. The goal of the Fantasy Film Projector is to help you identify traits from college players that will translate to points for your fa
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Aaron Rodgers Will Raise This Player's Fantasy Value In 2017

Saturday, 04 March 2017 00:00
In 2015, the Packers were missing something in their offense. The glaringly obvious fact was that Aaron Rodgers no longer had Jordy Nelson due to a knee injury. In addition, the Packers were missing a tight end that could run
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Thursday, 21 May 2015 00:00

Episode 69: Derek Carr trending downward

On Thursday's Treatment podcast, the Helpers discuss fantasy football quarterbacks and dissect their ADP. They talk about QBs they feel are undervalued in Tony Romo, Joe Flacco and Derek Carr. They also voice excitement for guys like Matt Ryan and Eli Manning.

Published in Podcasts

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Now, before you all go and gather your pitchforks, hear me out... I know that many fantasy owners have been burned by Eli in the past, and it's impossible to ignore the fact that just two seasons ago, Manning threw for just a mere 18 TDs and a pathetic 27 INTs and finished as the 21st QB overall.  A lot of people like to hate on Manning because of these numbers but if you watch the film, a large chunk of those interceptions were on passes that bounced off of his receivers' hands.  Additionally, Manning was stuck behind an abysmal offensive line and in the system of mediocre offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride.  Manning turned those numbers around in 2014, throwing for over 4400 yards, 30 TDs and a respectable 14 INTs, finishing as the #10 QB in standard scoring.  What's even more impressive than his turnaround was his ability to post these numbers in the first year of a completely different offensive system that was orchestrated by ex-Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo. Going into 2015, Manning has more potential than ever to be a top Fantasy QB.  Why, you ask?  Let's take a look.

X's and O's: Gaining familiarity with the McAdoo offense

When Ben McAdoo became the Giants offensive coordinator last year, fans were ecstatic that they were finally free from the Kevin "Shotgun Draw on 3rd and 20" Gilbride system.  Hopes were high that Eli would immediately become a stud.  However, as any quarterback can tell you,  learning a new offensive system always involves a learning curve. Always.  For Manning, it took the entire preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season until he finally began to adjust to the new system, throwing for 300 yards and 4 TDs in Week 4, finishing with 32.1 points as the #1 QB that week.  About half way through the season, Manning looked like he finally had acclimated to McAdoo's offense.  A lot of people wonder why it took him so long. I mean he was just learning a new playbook, right?  Wrong.  From changing his drop back, to his reads and his release, Manning completely changed the way he played the quarterback position.  With an entire season and another off-season of experience under his belt, Eli's knowledge and execution of the Giants' new offensive system will only improve.

Bodyguards: An improved offensive line

When free agency rolled around a couple of weeks ago, many analysts and Giants fans had figured that due to their offensive line troubles, the G-Men would target at least one of the top offensive linemen available in Mike Iupati, Orlando Franklin or Bryan Beluga.  Nope.  Instead, the Giants picked up former Bengal, Marshall Newhouse (an average offensive lineman at best).  Additionally, the Giants went outside the box to improve ther line situation by turning to our neighbors to the north.  This off-season, the Giants picked up the Canadian Football League's best offensive lineman in Brett Jones.  Jones, 23, was voted the CFL's top rookie in 2013 and will add some much needed depth to the Giants offensive line.  Aside from free agency, we cannot forget about this year's NFL draft.  Many NFL analysts believe the Giants will take an offensive lineman (Brandon Scherff or Andrus Peat) with the ninth pick of the draft.  Regardless of whether they decide to take a lineman in the first round or not, it is an absolute certainty that the Giants will look to bolster their pass protection at some point in the draft, and it will most likely be earlier rather than later.  Finally, with Geoff Schwartz returning from injured reserve (along with 19 other Giants), Eli Manning will undoubtedly have more time in the pocket next year.

Weapons Galore: A bolstered receiving corps

Last year Manning had one of the most productive seasons of his career, completing 63.1% of his passes (highest completion percentage of his career) for 4410 yards, 30 TDs and only 15 INTs.  What makes these stats even more impressive is that Eli was able to accomplish these numbers in a new offensive system, missing his favorite receiver in Victor Cruz since week 6.  Before being injured, Cruz was on pace for another 1000+ yard season.  Fortunately, the loss set the stage for rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to have a record breaking rookie season, solidifying him as one of the most elite receivers in the NFL.  Eli will look forward to having Cruz, his favorite receiver, back in 2015 and if all goes according to plan, he will return 100% healthy.  However, things rarely go according to plan after such a major injury (torn patellar tendon).  The top concern entering 2015 is that Cruz won't be able to regain his elite speed and route running ability.  However, a sigh of relief may be in store for the Giants entering the draft.  Recently, more and more buzz has been revolving around the idea that if Amari Cooper falls to the Giants in the draft, he may become the newest member of Big Blue.  Now, while many people argue that the Giants don't need to take a receiver in the first round, GM Jerry Reese is notoriously known for picking the best available player on the board, regardless of team need.  Either way, expect the Giants to have a better wide receiver corps in 2015.

Additionally, the Giants gave Eli another weapon through free agency in the form of pass-catching specialist running back, Shane Vereen.  In 2014, Manning completed 379 passes on 601 attempts (63.1%).  Of his 379 completions, only 62 (16.5%) were caught by running backs.  Enter Shane Vereen.  In 2014, Vereen hauled in 52 passes from former teammate Tom Brady for 447 yards and 3 TDs.  The year before, he caught 47 passes for 427 yards and 3 TDs.  Without a doubt, Vereen has solidified himself as one of the most reliable pass catching backs in the NFL.  In fact, last year only a handful of RBs had more receptions than Vereen, most of them being workhorse backs (Matt Forte, Le'veon Bell, Demarco Murray, and Fred Jackson).  Expect Vereen's numbers to increase even further in 2015 under McAdoo's quick pass system, becoming Manning's number one check down option.  Additionally with TE Larry Donnell proving that he is an unrefined but talented pass catcher and WR Rueben Randle finally showing flashes of greatness at the end of the season, it is easy to say that the Giants will have one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the NFL.

Conclusion: What to expect from Manning in 2015

Coming off one of the best seasons of his career (1st in completion percentage, 2nd in yards, 2nd in TDs, and 2nd in INTs), in a brand new system, missing his favorite receiver, Manning's fantasy potential has never been higher than it is entering 2015.  A bolstered offensive line, the return of all-pro wideout Victor Cruz, and the addition of Shane Vereen means that the Giants look to be a pass first team next year under McAdoo's quick pass offense.  Add all of those with the fact that Manning will finally have a full season of experience in McAdoo's system and you're left with a top 5 QB.  What makes Eli even more enticing for 2015 is the fact that his name is Eli "27 Interceptions" Manning.  This means that Manning will outlast most other QB1s in the draft, further increasing his value.

2015 Projection: #4 QB Overall Standard Scoring

-4900 yards

-38 TDs

-14 INTs

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Published in Fantasy Coverage
Saturday, 22 November 2014 00:00

Sleepers and busts for Week 12

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

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

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

Without further ado, your week 12 Sleepers and Busts: 

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

 Sleeper QB:

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

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

Bust QB:

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

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

Sleeper RB:

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

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

Bust RB:             

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

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

Sleeper WR:

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

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

Bust WR:

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

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

Sleeper TE:

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

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

Bust TE:

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

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

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

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

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

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Published in Fantasy Coverage
Friday, 14 November 2014 00:00

Week 11 bullet points for QBs/DEFs

Start of the week:

QB – Phillip Rivers v. Oakland Raiders - #6 in Weekly Rankings 

The Chargers bye week could not have come at a better time for Philip Rivers. He's coming off arguably the worst game of his career, a game in which he threw 3 INTs in a 37-0 thrashing at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. The bye week allowed Rivers, who had been having his second consecutive great season to push the reset button and forget about the previous week.

There may be no better way to re-start a season after a reset, then to play at home against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are ranked 21st against opposing fantasy QBs, but this ranking does not tell the story about what to expect on Sunday. The Raiders, an already porous defense, will be without CB Carlos Rogers (knee) in the secondary and could be without CB D.J. Hayden (groin) and CB Travis Carrie (ankle). Rivers could have limited, below average players or even practice squad talent lining up opposite Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal as he looks to repeat the 300+ yard 3 TDs performance he had against these very Raiders in week 6.

DEF – Denver Broncos v. St. Louis Rams - #4 in Weekly Rankings

When NFL and fantasy football fans are discussing the Broncos, they’re almost always talking about the offense. Their offense is absolutely incredible and deserves every bit of attention it gets, but the Broncos defense is vastly under rated. The team has won five out of their last six games. In the wins during this stretch they have caused 8 turnovers and have sacked the QB 15 times. The Broncos jump out to big leads and Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and company do not lose their intensity in blowouts. The Broncos travel to St. Louis where Shaun Hill will be throwing his first pass in a game since week 1. The Broncos should be able to win big and rack up the sacks and turnovers that come from a shaky QB having to play comeback football.  

Start Em:

QB – Eli Manning v. San Francisco - #11 in Weekly Rankings

It has been a disappointing season for the New York Giants and their fans, but not for Eli Manning fantasy owners.  The younger Manning, the 11th ranked QB in standard leagues, is in the midst of a fantasy resurrection and is on pace for 30 TDs and 11 INTs. This is an incredible development one year after Manning threw 18 TD and 27 INTs.  The loss of Victor Cruz has not been an issue since the emergence of a superior talent, Odell Beckham Jr., occurred in the same week.

This week Manning’s matchup is not an easy one with San Francisco (Ranked 8th vs. QBs) coming to New Jersey, but the Giants welcome back a key piece of the receiving (and running) game in Rashad Jennings. Jennings absence in the passing game and in pass protection could not be filled by rookie, Andre Williams or over the hill, Peyton Hillis. Jennings' return should improve the Giants offense, an offense in which Eli had already been thriving as a fantasy QB just about every week. Keep him active if you have bye week issues or if you are playing matchups at QB.

DEF – New Orleans Saints v. Cincinnati - #6 in Weekly Rankings   

In four games since their Week 6 bye, the New Orleans Saints defense has caused 8 turnovers and has had 15 sacks. Sure sometimes a great matchup or two can lead to a bunch of sacks and turnovers, but these specific weeks happened to be played against some of the league’s best quarterbacks. The 8 turnovers and 15 sacks were against teams led by Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick.  Week 11 presents a home game against a lesser talent, Andy Dalton. Dalton is coming off the worst game by a QB this season (86 yards passing, 3 INTs) and has had only 2 TDs vs. 6 INTs in his last four games. The Saints will smell blood in the water early and will inevitably feast on more of Dalton’s mistakes. 

Owners Beware:

QB – Russell Wilson at Kansas City - #15 in Weekly Rankings

Fantasy football is a funny game. When the Seahawks were struggling to win games, Russell Wilson was thriving as a top 3 fantasy QB. Now the Seahawks have won three in a row and Wilson is in the midst of a slump.  In the last three weeks, Wilson has failed to reach 200 yards passing and has combined for only 2 TDs vs. 3 INTs. His 107 rushing yards against the Giants in Week 10 helped salvage a putrid fantasy performance but I would not expect another 100+ rushing yards on the road against the Chiefs, a team who actually will realize that Russell Wilson is a threat to run.

The Chiefs rank 1st in passing yards against and have not allowed a QB to score 20 fantasy points since week 2 against Denver.  This stretch includes games against Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, and Philip Rivers.  Their defense has five legitimate stars in Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe, guys who get after the QB and stuff the run. In the secondary, Eric Berry and Sean Smith prevent big plays from occurring. This should be a tight low scoring game, a game where you would be smart to stay away from Russell Wilson.

Defense – Washington v. Tampa Bay - #11 in Weekly Rankings

When judging the Week 11 fantasy defenses, after the top 8 or so defenses, there is a large group bunched together all who are poor teams with good matchups, or good teams with poor matchups. It's tough to figure out what to do with these teams.  One team in particular is the Washington Redskins who have an ideal matchup on paper at home against Tampa Bay.  Tampa is ranked 30th against opposing fantasy defenses, while Washington is ranked 30th overall as a fantasy defense on the season. However there are encouraging signs that one of these teams may not be as poor as their ranking. Tampa Bay made the move at QB back to Josh McCown. 

Rookie Mike Evans has begun his ascent to becoming Tampa Bay’s top wideout.  Charles Sims is an exciting rookie RB who will be getting a chance to shine from here on out. Lastly, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is starting to come into his own having caught TDs in two out of his last three games.  I do not nearly have as many good things about the Washington Redskins defense.

They have had one week of relevance against the Cowboys and have been otherwise awful.  If one of these 30th ranked units has the ability to be better it is definitely Tampa Bay.  I do have the Redskins ranked 11th, but if one of the top 10 in the rankings is available in your league do not hesitate to grab them on the waiver wire because this matchup makes me nervous.

 

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Saturday, 08 November 2014 00:00

QB/DEF bullet points for Week 10

Start of the Week:

QB - Ben Roethlisberger at New York Jets - #4 in Weekly Rankings

Why not go with the guy who has thrown 12 TDs in the last two weeks as the start of the week?  Big Ben set all kinds of records in the past two weeks and his matchup against the Jets is a lot better than his matchups the past 2 weeks against Indianapolis and Baltimore.  Maybe he’ll throw 8 TDs this week!  Just kidding but I really do not see a way he throws less than 3.  The Jets rank dead last in fantasy points against QBs and have allowed an insane ratio of 24 TDs vs. 1 INT.  I’d only start Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson over him this week.  Enjoy the ride.

D/ST – Dallas Cowboys vs. Jacksonville in London - #4 in Weekly Rankings

They’re playing Jacksonville…..case closed.  No seriously, that’s most of it.  Jacksonville has allowed opposing defenses to score a whopping 2.6 more fantasy points per week than the 2nd worst defense.  Blake Bortles at this stage of his career is a turnover machine and many of his INTs are taken to the house.  The game in London is on a sloppy field, and the weather is projected to be lousy.  Look for a low scoring game where the Jaguars fall behind quickly, forcing Bortles to throw.   The more he throws, the more points the Cowboys D/ST will score via sacks and turnovers. 

Start em:

QB – Matt Ryan at Tampa Bay - #7 in Weekly Rankings

It’s been a while since I’ve recommended starting Matt Ryan, but the matchup this week is too tasty.  Tampa Bay has waved the white flag on the season.  Their personnel in the secondary aren’t NFL caliber players, especially after trading safety Mark Barron two weeks ago.  Ryan has an inept offensive line protecting him and he could face some pressure from a formidable front seven, however, the bye week has given the Falcons two weeks to fix their offensive line woes.  It’s been a disappointing season overall for Ryan owners, but big points are in store for this week’s cake walk of a matchup.   

D/ST – Green Bay vs. Chicago - #9 in Weekly Rankings

Sometimes historical stats don’t matter all that much but in this case I think they absolutely do.  Jay Cutler has a win/loss record of 1-9 and 19 INTs all time against the Green Bay Packers.  These numbers are jaw dropping.  I say the stats do matter here because basically the same coaching staff has been in place in Green Bay during Cutler’s entire career.  The Packers know how to attack Cutler and make him a walking breathing turnover.  When that many turnovers are bound to happen big points become possible for a fantasy defense.  Look for more of the same in Lambeau this week.    


Owners Beware:

QB – Eli Manning at Seattle - #18 in Weekly Rankings

The Giants have been playing football from behind a lot lately and it’s actually led to Eli Manning being one of the better fantasy plays.  Eli has been forced to throw for the entire 2nd half and has been able to convert on some late TDs while keeping his turnovers down.  The same thing could very well happen in Seattle, but sometimes when you fall behind big too often, the other team starts generating a massive pass rush forcing sacks and turnovers.  This is what happened three weeks ago in Philadelphia, and it’s what I see happening this week in Seattle.  Seattle hasn’t looked exactly right defensively but the cure could very well be the Giants, who lack the weapons to hang around in this game. The Seahawks allowed the Raiders to make last week’s game close and I’m sure Pete Carroll will remind his team that they have looked absolutely terrible defensively. I expect the Seahawks turnaround to greatness to start this week.  A tough day from start to finish is on the horizon for Eli Manning.

D/ST – San Francisco at New Orleans - #17 in Weekly Rankings

The 49ers are always one of the first fantasy defenses off the board.  Owners drafted them thinking they can just plug them in every week and the 49ers would at worst be mediocre and at best elite.  This year’s defense has not had that type of success.  They rank as the #17 fantasy defense this season.  Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith have been out all year and the loss of Patrick Willis has been tremendous.  They have not been awful in terms of yardage as they rank 3rd and 5th in rushing yards and passing yards against respectively.  However, there are just not enough big plays being made.  They’re only on pace for 26 sacks after posting 38 sacks a year ago. The Saints are playing incredible football and are coming off back to back dominant wins at home against Green Bay and at Carolina.  They’re mixing up the run and pass enough to keep Drew Brees upright and they’re keeping defenses guessing.  The game is in New Orleans where Brees and the offense plays its best football and San Francisco could struggle to get stops if they’re not able to dial up a pass rush.  Look elsewhere with a streaming defense this week.

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Saturday, 18 October 2014 00:00

Sleepers and busts for Week 7

Week 7 Sleepers and Busts

Week 6 is in the books and the playoff picture is starting to take shape.  The sample size is becoming significant and win/loss records are becoming meaningful. There are still seven weeks for teams to jockey for position and nobody has clinched anything at this point but we all know how we fantasy owners tend to over react based on our place in the standings around this time of year.  In honor of our crazy fantasy football imaginations, I’d like to do things a little differently this week and go into the mindsets of many insane fantasy owners around the country by record. 

The 0-6 team:  “……..”  Silence. This owner has 137 unanswered text messages, 58 voicemails and thousands of opened emails from league members all with the same general message “Hey Johnny/Jenny, your team STINKS”. The messages will usually be more graphic in nature like “How do you take that kind of pounding week after week and still be able to walk the next day?”  But you get the gist. This owner will not be changing his lineup from here on out. He/She never wants to see his/her friends seemingly ever again and the single, non-married owner may move and change his/her name without telling anybody just to end the daily abuse. However, on the positive side the 0-6 married male owner will suddenly be nominated for National Husband of the year after taking the Mrs. for picnics, ice skating, apple picking, flea markets, opera, and ballet on Sundays, Thursday nights and Monday nights from now until January. These owners can be positively identified by a tattoo of this quote “Screw you AP/Calvin/Montee”.   

The 1-5 team:   “If I give you my password you can change my lineup but I’m not paying for any pickups.” This owner has slightly less text messages and slightly less voicemails than the 0-6 team and their season and mental well-being are both hanging by a thread. He/she is willing to compete for now but can’t bear to look at the names on the computer/tablet/cell phone screen. He/She has unsuccessfully reached out to the 0-6 team to see if they can hang out on Sunday since he/she really can’t bear to see anybody else.

The 2-4 team:   “I’m in a must win situation.”  His/her friends will hear about this all day every day over the next several weeks but especially this week.  This team will make 25 pickups/drops and 5-10 trades even trading away and trading for the same players before Sunday.

The 3-3 team:   “Am I a contender or a pretender?  I’m not sure.”  This team is neither confident nor pessimistic.  He/she is fired up to potentially be above .500 but going below .500 would be the end of the world.

The 4-2 team:   “Nobody is talking about my team.  I’ll show them.”  These owners hate how everyone loves the talent on the two teams that have better records, but totally disregard their team discussing the cream of the crop.  Somehow they talk even more trash than the 5-1/6-0 owners but it’s really just a cover up for their insecurity.

The 5-1 team: “Ahhhh 1 more win and we can punch that playoff ticket”.  These owners are quietly confident to a point where they look and sound downright smug.  Their quiet confidence annoys everybody including the 6-0 owner.

The 6-0 owner:   “First place pays $1000 right?….I’ll make you a deal, if you agree to pay me $990 right now we can just end the league today.”  This owner is not quietly confident.  He’s responsible for 130 of the text messages and 53 of the voicemails to the 0-6 team.  He sends out group texts and reply-all emails 50 times/day talking smack.  We all want to conspire against this team to ensure they don’t win the league.

My advice to you….don’t over react like these owners.  It’s only week 7.  We have seven more weeks in the regular season to decide our fate.  We shouldn't turn into these people until at least week 8. 

Now let me help you advance in the standings with some sleepers and busts.  It’s an easy week schedule wise with only the Eagles and Buccaneers on byes so be smart with these recommendations and apply them to your league depending on your league format.

Without further ado, your week 7 Sleepers and Busts: 

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

Sleeper QB:

·         Kirk Cousins vs. Tennessee.  Luck, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers, Cutler, Wilson, Ryan, Kaepernick. Those are the names of the QBs that average more fantasy points per game than Kirk Cousins.  Since taking over the starting job in week 2, Cousins is averaging over 300 yards passing and 2 TDs per game.  The Redskins struggle to stop anybody on defense so Cousins is often forced to throw the ball and with weapons like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, and Andre Roberts, which gives Cousins the chance to be fantasy gold.  Sure the high volume of passes has forced Cousins into 8 INT on the season, but ignore that and look at those names above again to realize what you have here. Tennessee’s pass defense has struggled of late with Brian Hoyer and Blake Bortles averaging 314 yds and 2 TDs over the last 2 weeks. This matchup is oozing with upside so get Cousins in the lineup in all 2 QB leagues and in leagues where you are playing the matchups at QB or have any of the below players as a starter. He’s #14 in my QB rankings so refer to the rankings for other start/sit decisions.

I’d Start Kirk Cousins over: Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Brian Hoyer

Bust QB:

·         Eli Manning at Dallas.  The Giants come into Dallas having allowed 8 sacks last week so I think it’s safe to say there are some offensive line issues. They’re now minus their best RB and best WR with Rashad Jennings and Victor Cruz out.  The loss of Rashad Jennings has impacted them in a bigger way than one would think. Jennings is a dual threat back that always does a great job making himself available as a safety valve when Eli is under duress.  Andre Williams is a violent runner but he brings so much less to the table than Jennings as an all-around back.  The Giants top skill position players are now comprised of RB Andre Williams, WRs Reuben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. and TE Larry Donnell. With the offensive line struggling, and the youth and inexperience at all of the skill positions, expect the Cowboys fans to rock the stadium and cause miscommunications between Eli and his young supporting cast. This will result in multiple sacks and turnovers much like you saw last week in Philadelphia.  The Cowboys rank 3rd against fantasy QBs despite having faced Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.  Stay away, even in 2 QB leagues. 

I’d Start the following players over Eli Manning:   Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles, Charlie Whitehurst, Kyle Orton

Sleeper RB:

·         Ronnie Hillman vs. San Francisco.  Ronnie Hillman broke off big run after big run en route to a 100+ yard performance against the Jets, a team that ranks 8th in rushing yards against. The yardage was great but the stat that surprised me the most was his snap count.  Hillman played 74% of the snaps and was only spelled on a couple of drives. In other words, Hillman is currently the featured back in the Peyton Manning led, most explosive offense in football.  That to me alone makes him a RB1 every week until Montee Ball returns regardless of matchup.  But the icing on the cake is that Patrick Willis looks like he’ll be inactive with a bad toe. This defense is simply not the same without their leader and All-Pro in the lineup. Look for another 100 yard performance and maybe a TD from Hillman and make sure he’s in your lineup.

I’d start Ronnie Hillman over:  Alfred Morris, Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller, Fred Jackson, Joique Bell

Bust RB:             

·         Joique Bell vs. New Orleans. Last week in Minnesota, fantasy owners finally got to see the Joique Bell they thought they were drafting in the early rounds this season when he totaled 97 yards and a TD. While he looked really good and it was an encouraging performance, Reggie Bush is making is return and will once again steal touches. Bush will be playing with a chip on his shoulder against his old buddies, the Saints, and will lead the team in snaps, touches and yards. The Saints rank 15th in rushing yards against as opposed to 25th in passing yards against so look for the Lions to attack them through the air benefiting the better receiving back in Reggie Bush. Bell is ranked as a solid RB2 around the internet but I see him as a flex option at best this week.

I’d start the following players over Joique Bell: Ronnie Hillman, Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Bishop Sankey, Isaiah Crowell

Sleeper WR:

·         James Jones vs. Arizona.  I’m not sure what James Jones has to do in order to get some respect.  Maybe he’s not getting noticed because he plays for the Raiders, but he’s having a great season under the radar. Jones is on pace for 83 receptions, 1050 yards and 10 TDs. He's the number 18 WR in .5 PPR leagues and has been consistent along the way with 4 games out of 5 that every fantasy owner would want in their lineup. The emergence and presence of Andre Holmes is leaving Jones in 1 on 1 situations. He’s being targeted regularly in the redzone and despite playing with a rookie QB in Derek Carr I don’t see many better QB/WR combos when it comes to executing the 15 yard back shoulder catch and throw down the sideline.  He’s being ranked in the 40th WR range in most rankings but I see him no worse than a top 25 WR.  The matchup at home against Arizona is actually favorable as the Cardinals shockingly rank dead last in passing yards against (309 yds/g).  Make sure James Jones is in your lineup this week and basically every week in leagues that start 3 WR.

I’d Start James Jones over:  Mohamed Sanu, Michael Crabtree, Brian Quick, Percy Harvin, Brandon Cooks, Roddy White

Bust WR:

·         Marques Colston at Detroit. It's unclear to me why Marques Colston, fantasy football's 60th ranked WR in .5PPR leagues continues to be ranked as a WR3 or a top 36 WR. The matchup is as poor as can be as the Saints travel to Detroit, fantasy's number 1 ranked team against WRs. Brandon Cooks emergence onto the scene has bumped Colston to the Saints 4th option in the passing game behind Jimmy Graham (who looks like he may play), Cooks, and running back Pierre Thomas.  Furthermore, Colston has had major problems with ball security and drops in the early part of the season. He will remain a threat in the redzone because of his size, but gambling for a score against the NFL's top defense is too risky whether Graham is playing or not.  Keep him stashed in case he does have a second half resurgence like he did last season but leave him out of lineups in all formats for the time being.    

I’d start the following players over Marques Colston:  Anquan Boldin, Allen Robinson, Cecil Shorts, Kendall Wright, Davante Adams, Robert Woods

Sleeper TE:

·         Jason Witten vs. New York Giants.  It seems crazy that I am allowed to list Jason Witten as a sleeper TE.  He’s been one of the most consistently great TEs during his 12-year career, but the fact is that he’s struggled to put up stats this season.  However, when I see the film I see the same guy with the same hands and the same knack for getting open. The Cowboys have become a run first team and Witten, as an elite blocker, has been a big part of that. That being said, look for him to get in the endzone in this matchup.  Last season in 2 games he scored a whopping 4 TDs against the Giants and in 2012 he had a single game of 18 catches for 167 yards against them so it’s apparent that the Cowboys like to take advantage of the matchup of Witten vs. a Giants LB/Safety. It’s been a frustrating year for Witten owners but plug and play him and you’ll finally get vintage Witten stats.

I’d start Jason Witten over:  Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed, Jordan Cameron, Vernon Davis, Travis Kelce, Larry Donnell.

Bust TE:

·         Antonio Gates vs. Kansas City.  Yardage totals of TEs against KC in 2014: Delanie Walker 37 yds, Julius Thomas 39 yds, Charles Clay 21 yds, Rob Gronkowski 31 yds.  A few of these guys did get in the endzone but it’s become clear that TEs are completely TD dependent against Kansas City.  If you want to start Antonio Gates knowing he’ll most likely be held under 50 yards and sit there all game praying for a redzone TD then be my guest.  I’d rather look elsewhere this week for a higher upside option.   

I’d start the following players over Antonio Gates:  Jason Witten, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Jordan Cameron, Dwayne Allen

That’ll do it for this week everyone. Feel free to comment, criticize and ask any questions you may have on our Facebook page. Listen to our podcast to hear George and I talk more about Week 7.

Good luck in week 7. Except you 6-0 teams.  We all hope you finally lose. 

View Mark Runyon's Flickr page here.

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

Week 6 pickups: part II

Top Additions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: Lower TE1

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

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

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

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

Recommendation: Stash and See

Value: RB4 with Potential

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

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

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

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

Recommendation: Add Immediately

Value: Low WR2/High WR3

Players to Monitor

1.    Justin Hunter WR/Tennessee Titans

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

2.    Antone Smith RB/Atlanta Falcons

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

3.    Bobby Rainey RB/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

4.    Benny Cunningham RB/St. Louis Rams

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

5.    Tim Wright TE/New England Patriots

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

View Keith Allison's Flickr page here

6.

 

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

Episode 18: First Aid (Week 5)

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

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

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

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

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

Matchup No. 2 (Detroit vs. Buffalo)

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

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

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

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

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