Start of the Week
Desean Jackson v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers #8 Weekly Rankings
Despite being the biggest one-trick pony in the league, Redskins receiver Desean Jackson has continued to prove himself as one of the best deep threats in the NFL. Per Pro Football Focus, Jackson ranks no. 1 in the NFL in yards per reception (21.2), and is currently second on the Redskins in receptions (36).
Jackson will have a chance to build off the impressive start when he matches up against one of, if not the worst, defensive units in the NFL. According to PFF’s advanced statistics the Buccaneers secondary is the third-worst unit in the league in coverage (-37.9), and could be without the services of their best cornerback, Alterraun Verner. With Verner out, Jackson will have the benefit of matching up with either Jonathan Banks, PFF’s 12th worst cornerback in the league, or Leonard Johnson, who is allowing almost 11.0 yards per reception this season.
Jackson has been one of the hottest receivers in football over the few weeks, eclipsing the 100-yard mark four times in the team’s last five games. I expect the Redskins passing attack to find some consistency this weekend, and would consider most of the Redskins offensive players as quality fantasy starters this weekend.
Travis Kelce v. Seattle Seahawks #7 Weekly Rankings
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid recently came out and said that there were no longer any restrictions for second-year tight end Travis Kelce, something that has to have fantasy owners ecstatic.
This weekend Kelce and the Chiefs offense have a tough matchup as they welcome the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom to Arrowhead Stadium. Despite being one of the premier defensive units against opposing wide receivers the Seahawks have struggled defending opposing tight ends, especially in red zone situations. The Seahawks defense has allowed 9 touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, including five in the last five weeks.
Despite being vulnearbale to giving up touchdowns, the Seahawks defense has done a very good job managing yardage to opposing tight ends, allowing less than 60 receiving yards in all but one game this season.
Now that Kelce will be playing a full allotment of snaps I expect Smith and Kelce to connect early and often this weekend. Smith has still yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season, a trend I do not expect to change this weekend. If the Chiefs want a chance to pull off the upset, Kelce needs to be the focal point of the team's passing game, especially in the red-zone.
Martavis Bryant v. Tennessee Titans #23 Weekly Rankings
Another week, another big game for Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Some fantasy owners may be wondering whether or not the recent hot streak continue, and the answer is an emphatic NO. However, I am going to keep Bryant in my lineup until he gives me a reason to put him on the bench.
Despite being inactive for the first 6 weeks of the season, Bryant has added an element to the Steelers passing game they have been looking for. Even with a limited knowledge of the playbook Bryant has been the second best receiver on the Steelers, ranking 2nd in both targets (25) and receptions (14) since week 7. Even though Markus Wheaton is still technically the "starter" Bryant has been the more dynamic receiver of the two.
Bryant has seen his snap count increase in three consecutive weeks, a trend I fully expect to continue when the Steelers match up with the Titans on Monday Night Football. Bryant will likely match up with cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson this weekend, and could be in line for another massive game. Wreh-Wilson has allowed a passer rating of 110.3 on passes thrown his direction and has allowed a team-high 5 touchdown receptions this season.
Kyle Rudolph v. Chicago Bears #12 Weekly Rankings
After being sidelined since week 3 while recovering from sports hernia surgery, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is ready to make his return this weekend against the Bears. Despite Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner indicating Rudolph could be on a snap count, I feel Rudolph could make a major impact for the Vikings this weekend.
Even if Rudolph is not asked to play a full allotment of snaps this weekend, matching up with the Bears pathetic defense puts him as a low-end TE 1 this weekend. The Bears defense has allowed 9 touchdowns as well as having allowed an average of 7 catches for 88 yards to opposing tight ends over the last team’s last five games. Although Rudolph will likely be on a snap count this weekend, I still feel like he is worth the gamble against the worst-ranked defense against opposing tight ends.
Andre Johnson v. Cleveland Browns #26 Weekly Rankings
The passing of the torch is underway in Houston, as second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has developed into the number one receiving option for the Texans. With a Ryan Mallett making his first career start this weekend, I expect another rough day for the veteran receiver.
It is clear that the days of Johnson being a top-flight fantasy receiver are behind him. Despite being the most targeted receiver on the team (77) Johnson has struggled with efficiency, hauling in just 62% of the passes headed his way. Even though Johnson is the team’s leader in catches (48), second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has taken over as the team’s big-play threat. Johnson has failed to top the 100-yard mark this season, and has not scored a touchdown since week 6 against the Colts.
This weekend, Johnson gets the pleasure of matching up with one of the premier cornerbacks in the league, Joe Haden. After a slow start to the season in which Haden allowed a passer rating of over 110.0 in three of the team’s first four games, Haden has come on strong over the last month. Over the Brown’s last four games Haden is allowing less than 10 yards per reception, and has not allowed more than 70 yards receiving to an opposing wide receiver.
Even though Johnson is a big name and likely a top-6 round selection in your fantasy drafts, fantasy owners may feel the pressure to start Johnson because of the initial investment spent on him. However, if you have another option on your bench such as Martavis Bryant, Mike Evans, or even Brandin Cooks, I would recommend playing them over Johnson as he tries to find a way off of “Haden Island”.
Mychal Rivera v. San Diego Chargers #13 Weekly Rankings
Rivera has been a savior for fantasy owners searching for a bye week replacement the past few weeks, hauling in three touchdowns in his last three games. However, this is the week I think the gravy trend ends for the Raiders tight end.
Rivera has come out of nowhere to reach the cusp of fantasy relevance, rankings second in targets (19) and first in touchdowns (3) over the last three weeks. However Rivera gets a very tough matchup against a Chargers defense that is allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Chargers have only allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends just twice this season, and have allowed three or fewer fantasy points in six games this season. If you have another quality option at the tight end position I would recommend going in another direction this weekend.
Start of the week:
LeSean McCoy @ Green Bay Packers — #4 in weekly rankings
It's tough to plug McCoy as an RB1 these days, and that's mainly because it's tough to really pin him down this year in general. He was strong the last four weeks (two 100-yard games to go along with two 80-yard games) before tossing up a dud against Carolina despite a 45 point effort by the Eagles' offense.
But despite a lackluster performance on the stat sheet as of late and only two touchdowns on the season overall by the RB, the Eagles currently sit atop the NFC and Chip Kelly has found a way to consistently utilize McCoy without relying on him to score the football to win games. Even with his not-so-amazing stats, there's still plenty of reason to get excited about his fantasy value in Week 11.
McCoy finds himself in a great matchup against a weak run defense in Green Bay. The Packers have surrendered a 30th-worst 142 rushing yards per game. McCoy will also be playing in the frigid cold of Lambeau Field, where the temperature is expected to be around 30 degrees before kickoff at 4 p.m. The Eagles had the luxury of not playing in too many cold games last season, but McCoy rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns against a bad Chicago defense in Chicago during the winter weather in 2013. McCoy also torched Green Bay for 155 yards when the two teams played in Green Bay last season.Though past efforts aren't necessarily an indication of future efforts, it's just worth noting that McCoy has been successful in the cold in past games.
When it comes to how well the offense has been playing, the Eagles offensive line continues to get stronger as they get healthier. They protected quarterback Mark Sanchez extremely well last week against Carolina, and while Julius Peppers may be a bit tougher to contain, the presence of Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis should help keep the Green Bay front four in check. If you remember, the Eagles offensive line did a good job containing J.J. Watt when they played the Texans a few weeks ago, as they held one of the best defensive ends in football to just one tackle for a loss.
Weather conditions may also come into play here, as Sanchez will be having to deal with throwing a frozen ball which could mean the Eagles may opt to go more run heavy. Aside from his 12 attempts last week in a lopsided game, McCoy had rushed for 24, 21, 22 and 24 in his previous efforts. There's a good chance he does that again given the conditions in Green Bay.
Montee Ball @ St. Louis — #26 in weekly rankings
Currently listed as probable, expect Ball to be eased back into the lineup opposite C.J. Anderson. But with Ronnie Hillman out, there's a good chance Ball sees some carries and maybe snags a goal line touchdown or two. The Rams are allowing a little over 124 rushing yards per game (25th worst) but they held Andre Ellington to just 1.3 yards per carry last week and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Russell Wilson in Week 7.
Don't expect Ball to light the world on fire since he hasn't been the most explosive option even when he's been healthy (only averaged 3.1 yards per carry in his four starts), but the situation calls for him getting a little bit of action and sometimes all a player needs is a little opportunity.
Ball is a good flex play if you're in a deep league. He could vulture a touchdown on the goal line which is all you need in that spot. Just to be clear — Ball is not likely to go off this week at all, but there's potential for him to see enough of a workload to warrant a productive day.
Shane Vereen @ Indianapolis— #25 in weekly rankings
Vereen (and the entire Patriots' backfield for that matter) remain difficult to predict in fantasy football thanks to the chess-like mind of Pats' coach Bill Belichick. It's almost as if Belichick hates fantasy football and trots out the running back who hasn't scored much lately and gives him the most carries. Jonas Gray, Stevan Ridley, insert-next-running-back-who-will-now-be-a-household-name-here.
Despite the wonky RB favoritism, there's a lot of potential for Vereen this week. The Colts and Patriots will likely be a shootout between two premier quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Tom Brady. The game will also be played under the comfortable dome conditions of Lucas Oil Stadium, so there's no cold interfering with the stats.
As for Vereen, he caught 13 passes over the last five games, so he's been on a PPR roll. The Patriots are coming off their bye week, so they're rested. Overall, Vereen remains the best fantasy back among the Patriots due to his versatility.
Marshawn Lynch @ Kansas City— #2 in weekly rankings
It's tough to say, but consider benching Lynch this week against Kansas City. He's banged up, and is going against a strong Kansas City defense that kept the Bills run game largely in check last week. Lynch posted his best effort of the season last week against the New York Giants, where he ran for 140 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time Lynch eclipsed the 100-yard mark since Week 1 against Green Bay. Expect him to revert back to the more subdued version of beast mode against Kansas City, and likely finish with 67 yards and maybe a touchdown.
Hey everybody, this is Josh Gordon, Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Just wanted to say thanks if you're one of the few lucky fantasy owners that stuck with me through this whole suspension ordeal. I say this honestly: You guys are true believers.
As I sealed the deal on my 12th straight used car sale (I promise all customers a free pine tree air freshener if you know what I mean) I could only feel bad as I watched my teammates enjoy the benefits of an easy schedule and play against some of the worst defenses in the league over a five-game stretch of the season. I can only express regret for not being there to give you all fantasy points. But Good things often come to those who wait, and success and prosperity currently lines your remaining path in the 2014 fantasy football season.
You gotta admit, that section of the Browns' schedule from Week 2-7 was as soft as the NFL's domestic violence policy. My matchups would've been pretty tasty considering our opponents consisted of Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Houston. Damn, what I could've done to those cornerbacks.
Don't fret too much, you'll still get some mileage out of me come the end of the regular season, and the first pay off will come this week against Atlanta in the comfortable confines of the Georgia Dome.
Why the Falcons' offense helps me
Well, we know their offensive line has struggled due to injuries, but the real key stat is time of possession. The Falcons are holding onto the ball an average of 28 minutes and 17 seconds per game, which ranks 25th in the league. They don't do much better at home, as they hang onto the ball for 28 minutes and 43 seconds per game. The offense relies too much on the pass as evidenced by their 38.2 pass attempts per game, which forces the clock to stop on incomplete passes and leads to punts. Of the 113 offensive drives put together by Atlanta, 28 of them have resulted in a 3 and out. That's 26th worst in the league.
All this should help Bryan Hoyer and myself stay on the field more. I know my Browns aren't exactly great in time of possession either. We actually rank behind Atlanta in that category. But, we're making changes in that area. We cut Ben Tate earlier this week, and our most talented running back in Isaiah Crowell is finally starting. Crowell averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per carry in his first start as a Brown against Houston last week, and the purpose he shows when running the ball should help us extend drives and keep our offense moving down the field. The longer I'm on the field, the opportunity I will have to score points. Stick that in your pipe.
How about the Atlanta defense?
It's nice if you're me. The Falcons rank dead last in passing yards allowed, averaging 281.2 per game. They're also 24th in rushing yards allowed, so our offense should be able to provide a lot of scoring for you. The Falcons gave up 292 passing yards to Carolina last week. That's right, the team whose tight end leads them in receptions managed to put up nearly 300 yards passing. The week before, Josh McCown and Tampa notched 301 passing yards against them.
There also shouldn't be a lot of pressure on the quarterback this week either. The Falcons have registered only 13 sacks on the year, which is tied for second worst in the league. Only Oakland is worse with 10. There shouldn't be any problem when it comes time for me to get open. One thing needs to happen though.
The elephant in the room
Brian Hoyer has to really show up this week. I'm not saying he can't, but he went 20-for-50 last week against a below average secondary in Houston and finished with a dismal 61 quarterback rating. Granted, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney were breathing down his neck most of the game and he won't have to deal with that so much against Atlanta, but he's got to avoid looking like that other quarterback in our division with the red hair.
But despite Hoyer's struggles last week, I think my presence gives him an added boost. I can run after the catch like nobody's business. Last year, I led the league in receiving yards on just 87 catches and only one receiver in the Top 10 had less receptions than that. I averaged 18.9 yards per catch and turned short passes into large chunks of yardage. Only Kenny Stills averaged more yards per catch than me.
All the elements are there. A good matchup, a better running game and a (hopefully) a serviceable quarterback. I should be good to help you start your run to your fantasy championship, maybe throw you around 18-20 fantasy points (roughly 120 receiving yards and a touchdown). Take care.
Preparation in fantasy football is always crucial to victory. Each week, it's like a mad dash to see who can make the right pickups first and who's ahead of the injury and matchup curve the most. As the playoffs draw near, the planning that goes into having a strong lineup in Weeks 14,15 and 16 are the staple of every fantasy owner's season.
Those three weeks mentioned above are the big climax for fantasy owners, and they want their matchups tastier than a Chip Kelly personalized smoothie. If you're already thinking your team is destined for the playoffs, then you may want to look into how you can fortify your team to make it even more tough to beat when it really matters. Here are some matchups for Week 14 that could be plausibly fruitful.
Week 14 matchups
Eric Ebron (3% owned) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a little over 100 yards receiving and just one touchdown, the tight end dubbed the second coming of Vernon Davis hasn't had a very productive rookie season due to a nagging hamstring injury that's kept him out of action for nearly half the season. Still, he's eventually expected to return to the lineup in Week 11 and has a good matchup down the road against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks second worst in the league against the pass. In a pass heavy offense loaded with plenty of receiving talent, it's not out of the question Ebron could get lost in the shuffle playing along guys like Golden Tate, Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johnson. Despite the possibility of low targets, he's still a good TE2 option just because of his athletic upside and a favorable matchup. With tight ends like Jordan Cameron and Vernon Davis constantly hurt, Ebron could be a good savior if you're weak at the TE position.
New Orleans Saints defense (8% owned) vs. Carolina
Carolina's offense has really struggled these past three weeks. They haven't scored more than 20 points since they tied Cincinnati 37-37 back in Week 6. Panthers QB Cam Newton has been playing hurt with two bad legs, which could severely limit his upside as a rushing quarterback. The Panthers running game has been non existent with their running backs averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Jonathan Stewart heads their paltry rushing attack with 299 yards on the year.
The Panthers receivers have also been inconsistent, with Greg Olsen serving as the team's best option with 51 catches. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin has shown flashes but his route running and consistency haven't been there, as evidenced by his 43 catches on a whopping 85 targets. He's basically catching just half of the balls thrown his way. Jerricho Cotchery is still without a touchdown on the season and looks as every bit out of place as many thought the vet would be in a role too big for a guy of his age.
On the other side, the Saints' defense has improved mightily. They've registered five interceptions in their last four games and have sacked the quarterback at least four times in their last three games. Surprisingly, they rank in the top 15 in yards allowed as well. While divisional matchups can often be close, the Saints defense could be worth a play due to Carolina's struggles on the offensive end.
Allen Hurns (20% owned), Cecil Shorts (43% owned) vs. Houston Texans
The Jacksonville Jaugars lost their most targeted receiver, Allen Robinson, to a broken foot which will sideline him for the remainder of the season. With Robinson out, expect the speedy Hurns to be the primary benefactor in the Jaguars' offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown for at least 200 yards in all but two starts, and he's eclipsed the 300 yard mark once as well. He moves the ball down the field consistently.
Hurns suffered a concussion during the Jaguars' last game against Dallas, but he still leads the Jaguars in touchdowns (5) and with Robinson now out, expect Hurns to see more targets which should increase his yardage totals and overall consistency. Plus, he's still available in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. Shorts is second on the team in targets (61) and has two 100 yard games on the season.
These two receivers are good options in Week 14 because of their matchup against the Houston Texans, a team with a secondary known for getting burned throughout this season. The Texans are allowing 279 passing yards per game, which ranks 29th in the league. Hurns will have major upside as a WR3/flex guy in a bigger role with a good matchup.
Terrance Williams (81% owned) @ Chicago Bears
I know, Williams has been an inconsistent player at times. But he's still on pace for 11 touchdowns and 700 receiving yards. Williams and the Cowboys will have a gift wrapping of a matchup against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Week 14. The Bears have allowed 268 passing yards per game, which ranks 28th in the league. They're also surrendering around 30 points per game. Williams is coming off a poor game against Jacksonville where he only saw two targets, but they still took shots at him in the end zone. He's been a big part of the Cowboys' receiving game this season and while he may be feast or famine, he's unlikely to fade in an offense that values his contribution.
On this week's episode of Diagnosis, the Helpers discuss their good and bad calls from Week 10, the state of the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions and what to expect from this Thursday's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.
The Helpers start off their best and worst calls. First, they hit on Michael Vick, the quarterback for the New York Jets. In his second start, Vick was coming off an impressive start against Kansas City, and he paid off for those who started him. He finished with 132 passing yards and 42 rushing yards. He finished as the seventh overall quarterback for Week 10, showing off the vintage Vick traits which included some nice deep passes and had the New York Jets not have been blowing Pittsburgh out, would've likely thrown for more yards.
One run in particular, came off a scramble which ended up being about a 20-yard run that nearly resulted in a touchdown. Also, Vick had no turnovers, which is something he's had problems with throughout his career.
Fantasy owners have always been wary of Michael Vick and for good reason. His small frame has never lent itself to taking too many big hits in succession. Vick is best used in fantasy as a plug and play guy in good matchups as long as he's healthy.
One miss the Helpers had for Week 10 was Kansas Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who they pegged as a likely bust in a tough matchup against Buffalo. The Bills held Charles in check for three quarters, and Charles only had 29 yards at the end of the first half. But Charles broke a big 40-yard touchdown late in the game which helped his value. Of course, that's not saying that the Helpers were right about Charles — they weren't. But the Bills were one of the best defenses against the run coming in, and they did play well enough to contain Charles for a half. But as all home run hitters do, Charles answered with a big gain which helped him finish with 98 rushing yards and a touchdown on the day. He probably won't be recommended as a bust going forward unless the matchup is exceptionally bad or he's battling some type of injury.
Another player the Helpers dubbed a sleeper for Week 10 was Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick. Riddick came into the Lions matchup against Miami having scored two touchdowns in the last two games and he repeated that feat again. It came on the very last play of the game, but Riddick's score gave him six points which helped fantasy owners who started him get some value.
Riddick and the Lions have another tough matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, but starting running back Reggie Bush is still banged up and saw just five touches against Miami. You have to keep Riddick stashed away just in case Bush can't go in Week 11.
Riddick has now scored three touchdowns in his last three games, and appears to have cemented his role as the primary receiver out of the backfield.
On Monday's edition of First Aid, the Helpers discuss Colin Kaepernick and whether or not they would trust him in the fantasy playoffs. They also hand out weekly awards and discuss the fantasy implication of tonight's game between Philadelphia and Carolina.
Fantasy analysis: San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans
Colin Kaepernick: 14-for-32, 210 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 rushes for 24 yards, 1 fumble lost (10 fantasy points)
Kaepernick's receivers struggled to catch the ball which hurt his stats, but he had his own problems as well. He still holds onto the ball a bit too long and refuses to throw it away, and often takes sacks that result in fumbles instead. His arm is still something to behold though, as his 50-yard strike to Michael Crabtree on diagonal line was a showcase of just how talented he can be at times.
Drew Brees: 28-for-47, 292 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble lost (27 fantasy points)
Brees had just another day at the office, and has now scored 20 or more fantasy points in seven games this season. He found Jimmy Graham twice in the second half, but his three turnovers put a damper on his score a little bit. He continues to develop better chemistry with Brandin Cooks and is looking like he'll remain a QB1 for the rest of the year.
Mark Ingram: 27 carries, 120 yards (4.4 YPC), 0 touchdowns (12 fantasy points)
Another fantastic game from Ingram, who looks like a completely new running back in this Saints' offense. He's running with a purpose we've never seen before, and it's translating to great fantasy numbers on a weekly basis. He's scored 23, 23 and 12 points in his last three games, and the Saints appear more committed to the run than they ever have been. He's a great RB2 option unless the Saints decide to scale back his carries. Keep in mind, Ingram is only 24 years old.
Frank Gore: 23 carries, 81 yards, 1 touchdown (14 fantasy points)
It was the most points scored by Gore since Week 5 against Kansas City where he rushed for over 100 yards. The 49ers keep leaning on Gore and he continues to produce consistently despite his age. He's still a great flex/RB2 option due to his role in the 49ers' offense and as long as he's healthy, you can be safe starting him in deep leagues.
Carlos Hyde: 4 carries, 36 yards, 1 touchdown (9 fantasy points)
It's a bit frustrating to see a talented rookie like Hyde only get four touches, but there's still some upside to having him on your team. The 49ers like to give him the ball in goal line situations, which leads to touchdowns of course. So as long as he's getting those, you can still plug him in your flex spot in a good matchup and hope for the best.
Anquan Boldin: 6 catches, 95 yards, 1 touchdown, 15 targets (15 fantasy points)
You know you're a valued receiver in your team's offense if you drop 3 passes in a game and still see 15 targets. Boldin's drops in this game were uncharacteristic of the veteran, as he came in with just two on the season. If you have Boldin, you shouldn't worry and should continue starting him every week as your WR3. The 49ers schedule gets much easier down the road, and they even have a great matchup against Oakland right around the fantasy playoffs. Boldin should be a heavy favorite to change the fortunes of your team when it matters most.
You ever play that video game that was popular in the early 2000s called 'Crazy Taxi? It was featured on the now-defunct Sega Dreamcast. The object of the game was to transfer pedestrians to a certain location in a extremely fast amount of time while dodging countless obstacles.You took people everywhere, from KFC to FILA to the beach. If you transported your guy to his/her destination before they expected to get there, you received a cash bonus.
Well, consider this bullet point article like a crazy taxi, a guide that helps glide you to your destination of a successful week in fantasy football while helping you avoid the obstacles that are this week's busts.
Chances are, if you're still in the hunt for a playoff spot in your fantasy league, or better yet, you're currently sitting pretty amongst the best teams in your league, then you probably didn't get there by accident. You weathered the storm of injuries, bye weeks and annoying 'should I start this guy or this guy' conundrums that cost you much sleep at night. Well, here are some more guys to think about for Week 10, in the running back position.
Start of the week
Matt Forte @ Green Bay — #1 in weekly rankings
There are some seriously tasty matchups for running backs this week. We could've easily placed DeMarco Murray against the Jags, LeSean McCoy against the struggling Panthers, Ronnie Hillman against lowly Oakland or Andre Ellington against St. Louis as our top starts of the week. But we chose to go with Forte because frankly, the guy is among the most consistently good running backs in both PPR and standard leagues this season. Plus, he's got a fruitful matchup against the Green Bay Packers. a team that's giving up a league-worst 153.5 rushing yards per game.
Forte ranks third among all fantasy RBs in points with 135 and trails only Arian Foster (154) and DeMarco Murray (162) and he has played one less game than both of those guys. Forte has scored at least 20 fantasy points (20,27,22,24) in his last four games and is also averaging about seven receptions per game over that same span. Forte ran up and down on the Green Bay defense in the teams' first matchup of the season back in September. He also recorded 122 rushing yards to go along with five catches for 49 yards in that game.This column isn't meant to say anything controversial about Forte — you're definitely starting him. It's just nice to gush about a guy who's playing so great sometimes.
Theo Riddick vs. Miami — #22 in weekly rankings
It's tough to move a guy who's given a lot to the Detroit backfield like Joique Bell has, but Riddick has proven to be the more versatile fantasy option this season. With back to back games of over 70 receiving yards to go along with two touchdowns, Riddick has begun to creep into the discussion as the Lions primary receiving option out of the backfield.
While Bell is still seeing more snaps (61 percent compared to Riddick's 41 in Week 9) and Riddick's averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this season, Riddick still has PPR value.
The one big problem for Riddick owners though is the matchup, though. The Miami Dolphins are coming off their best game of the season, a game where their defense swallowed up Branden Oliver and a talented San Diego offense. The Dolphins' confidence will be high and the Lions have consistently been one of the worst run teams in the league.
This isn't an ideal matchup but if the Lions get down early and throw the ball a lot, then Riddick could put up numbers. Keep in mind, Calvin Johnson is finally slated to come back which could open up the run game more as well.
I'd start Theo Riddick over: Tre Mason, Bishop Sankey, Bryce Brown, Joique Bell
Travaris Cadet vs. San Francisco — #25 in weekly rankings
I know, starting this guy sounds crazy considering he's been only marginally effective in the Saints' backfield, but he's got a few things going for him. With both Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson out, only Mark Ingram lies between a decent workload for Cadet. Either way, the Saints will likely still utilize Cadet in the passing game as Ingram remains an effective receiver.
Cadet was only involved in 29 percent of offensive snaps in Week 9 against Carolina, but did see five targets and caught three passes for 29 yards. While Riddick will have to battle both Bell and Reggie Bush for touches, Cadet will likely see more work because of the Saints' depleted backfield. If the New Orleans Saints find themselves getting stuffed against the run, then they'll be more likely to throw the ball and that plays into Cadet's favor. He's still a real long shot, and should not be starting unless your bye week has completely crippled your roster and you're in a deep league.
I'd start Travaris Cadet over the following players: Antone Smith, Darren McFadden, Andre Williams
Jamaal Charles @ Buffalo — # 9 in weekly rankings
You're definitely starting Charles, but owners should be concerned about this matchup for a few reasons. One, Charles' workload continues to fluctuate. He's had 18, 15, 22, 14 and 20 attempts in his last five outings and has yet to rush for over 100 yards in a game. His 17 receptions for 109 yards have helped mitigate his lackluster rushing numbers, but his role within the Chiefs' offense remains a bit of a mystery from week to week.
Buffalo's run defense ranks among the best in the league as their giving up just 92 yards per game to running backs (8th best). Just a week earlier, Charles was held largely in check by another tough run defense in the New York Jets. Charles averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in that game, which was his lowest YPC since Week 2 against Denver when he got hurt. There's a good chance Charles gets held to under 100 yards again and unless he manages a touchdown around the goal line, he could be due for a weak 5-6 point outing.
I'd start the following players over Jamaal Charles: Eddie Lacy, Le'Veon Bell, Justin Forsett, Denard Robinson
On this episode of Diagnosis, the Helpers discuss some of their hits and misses from last week. They also talk about the Philadelphia Eagles and their many new fantasy relevant players including Mark Sanchez and Chris Polk. They also talk about a few running backs that could be busts or booms this week depending on how everything shakes out.
First, Casey talks about his hits from last week. He correctly called Christopher Ivory being a bust for Week 9, as the New York Jets struggled against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9. Ivory is a touchdown dependent back, and when the Jets aren't scoring, he's not nearly as fantasy relevant.
Another correct bust call was San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who had his fifth straight game under 50 receiving yards. He was ranked as the No. 24 wide receiver last week, and struggled with drops and also couldn't find the end zone late after getting taken down at the one yard line.
A Week 9 miss was Dolphins' quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who scored 38 fantasy points in standard leagues.
As far as RBs go, Andre Williams finished with 19 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. We called him a likely bust in Week 9 and you could say that was true based on his measly 1.9 yards per carry average.
Next, we labeled Browns RB Isaiah Crowell as a dark horse in Week 9 due to the ineffectiveness of Ben Tate as the team's No. 1 running back. Unfortunately, Crowell never got so much as one carry and finished with zero yards. However, he did finish with 12 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown last night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Crowell now has five touchdowns on the season but will probably always be a fantasy liability in a crowded backfield.
Next miss was Lorenzo Taliaferro against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Helpers thought Taliaferro had a shot at taking off due to the uncertainty of starter Justin Forsett, who was nursing an injury coming into Baltimore's division matchup. But gameflow reared its ugly head, and the Ravens were forced to pass the ball for the majority of the game due to Ben Roethlisberger's red hot start.
Forsett and Taliaferro were equally ineffective in the ground game, with both finishing with under 40 rushing yards. Forsett managed to catch five passes for 67 yards however, showing that he can be an effective receiver at times. Forsett caught seveb passes for 55 yards earlier in the year against Indianapolis. He remains one of the biggest fantasy surprises of 2014.
Next, the Helpers get to talking about the Philadelphia Eagles and the recent changes made to their lineup. For one, the return of guard Evan Mathis this Sunday should help the run game out greatly. Running back Chris Polk is starting to see more touches in the backfield, and the young running back has proved a worthy complement to speedster LeSean McCoy.
New starting quarterback Mark Sanchez remains a bit of a mystery. He played well against Houston in relief of Nick Foles, but just how good will he be in this new offense? Based on his past, you can't consider him much more than a plug and play at this point.
With a rookie wide receiver class loaded with as much talent as any group in a long time, there was certainly some immediate fantasy intrigue surrounding Buccaneers No. 7 draft pick Mike Evans. While wide receivers have been known to take a few years to really contribute worthy fantasy numbers, owners who took the risk and drafted these wideouts have been delighted to see every first round draft pick at the wide receiver position making an impact on their teams.
That's not to say there wasn't several questions surrounding each wide receiver coming in.
Sammy Watkins, a former Clemson WR and top draft pick at his position at the No. 4 spot, was dealt one of the tougher hands after being selected to a bad Buffalo Bills team with question marks all over their offense, especially at quarterback. Though he was the most talented player at his position, Watkins' fantasy value wasn't expected to really soar until the Bills could find a reliable arm to consistently get him the ball. That problem has since been solved with the addition of Kyle Orton, as Watkins has posted back-to-back efforts of at least 100 receiving yards and is on pace for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season.
Odell Beckham Jr., of LSU, was selected No. 12 overall on a talented New York Giants team with a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. Still, Beckham Jr. was vying against a proven slot receiver in Victor Cruz and an up-and-coming wideout in Reuben Randle along the outside for targets. Also, the New York Giants have always played more of a team-oriented style of play, where victories are valued more so than big time individual player stats. After shaking off an early injury that sidelined him for a quarter of the season, Beckham Jr. has since been very productive and is coming off his best game as a pro which was a 156-yard effort against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brandin Cooks, another first round pick who was hailed as one of the fastest wideouts in the draft, landed in perhaps the best situation with future hall of fame quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. While Cooks occasionally gets overshadowed due to a large group of receivers that includes Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Travaris Cadet and of course, Jimmy Graham, he has still proven to be a reliable fantasy target in his first year as well.
We haven't even mentioned guys like Kelvin Bejmain, Jordan Matthews, Allen Robinson or even Allen Hurns, but you get the point. This season has caused more fantasy owners to rethink the wide receiver position than any other, and Evans officially became one of biggest potential guys in fantasy football after last week.
Evans eclipsed 100 receiving yards in a game for the first time in his career against Cleveland, where he was targeted a season-high 11 times by sophomore quarterback Mike Glennon and finished with seven receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Evans got behind defenders with ease, and had plenty of big play opportunities even when he didn't actually convert on them. He showed great body control and made difficult catches over his shoulder look simple, and this is a guy who's still 21 years old and growing into his body.
On the season, Evans has four touchdowns and 490 receiving yards, which are both team highs. He averages a little over six fantasy points per week, which is fantastic for a WR3 or flex spot. To top it off, his consistent point totals of 3,4,5,13,12,7 and 24 have given him even more reliable production than Watkins, a guy who had four outings of 3 points or less.
How the Bucs' situation benefited Evans
For one, the Buccaneers only had one dominant receiver in Vincent Jackson, which left plenty of room for another guy to eat up targets but also gave Evans a veteran teammate who could show him the ropes. We've seen tandems like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery show what a veteran in his prime can do when it comes to fast tracking the production of a younger player.
While an injury caused him to miss one game, Evans has lived up to all the hype surrounding him coming in and is making an impact on Tampa Bay every week. The only thing potentially stopping Evans from continuing his hot streak is the Buccaneers quarterback situation.
McCown's ups and downs
The Buccaneers acquired a quarterback in Josh McCown over the offseason from Chicago. A veteran who plays a bend-don't-break style, McCown looked competent enough at times in Chicago a season ago to really help Alshon Jeffery flourish into one of the NFL's best wide receivers. McCown finished 2013 with a shockingly efficient 13:1 touchdown-to-interception ration in eight games played.
The beginning of the 2014 season didn't start out to smooth for McCown though, as he threw for under 200 yards in his first two games and eventually injured his thumb against Atlanta in Week 3 which forced him to miss several weeks. But McCown is scheduled to be back for Week 10 and will start over Mike Glennon.
Bright future and schedule going forward
Over the next four games, the Buccaneers have some pretty favorable matchups. They play Atlanta in Week 10, a team that ranks 30th in passing yards allowed per game. They play Washington, a team that has surrendered 18 passing touchdowns so far, which is tied for second worst in the league. They also play Chicago and Cincinnati, two teams that rank in the bottom 12 in passing yards allowed.
As long as McCown plays more like the veteran we saw in Chicago, the sky is the limit for Evans.
On Monday's episode of First Aid, the Helpers discuss Ryan Tannehill's career performance and what it means for the Dolphins fantasy value going forward. They also hand out their weekly awards and discuss tonight's Monday night matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants.
San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill owners got to see something special on Sunday, and that something was the best game of Tannehill's young career. The 2012 first round draft pick went 24-for-34 for 288 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran four times for 47 yards and finished with just under 40 fantasy points for the day.
Tannehill owners should temper expectations in the coming weeks though, as the Dolphins face tough defenses in Buffalo, Detroit and Denver over the next three weeks. Not to say Tannehill can't put up solid numbers against those defenses, he can, but it's out of line Tannehill to put up QB1 numbers every week. He hasn't thrown for three touchdowns once this season, and achieved the feat just four times in two and a half seasons.
Philip Rivers flipped on the opposite day switch and played nothing like a quarterback who came into this game with one of the best TD:INT ratios in the NFL at 20:5. I guess you could say Rivers was due for a bad game after such a great first half of the season, but it didn't make his performance any less bearable. Rivers went just 12-for-23 for 138 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. It was the first game Rivers didn't throw a touchdown which was surprising considering the receiving core was healthy and Branden Oliver has proven to be a force in the backfield.
A big reason why Rivers had so much trouble was due to the pressure he was under throughout the game. Led by Cameron Wake and Rishard Matthews, the Dolphins got consistent pressure and forced Rivers to unload the ball before he wanted to. The Dolphins sacked Rivers three times and forced one fumble on the day, which they also recovered. The Dolphins defense finished with 22 fantasy points in standard leagues and has now strung together back-to-back games of scoring at least 20 points. They're only owned in about 40 percent of Yahoo! Leagues also.
As for the running game, Lamar Miller didn't post spectacular numbers but was very efficient none the less for Miami. Miller rushed for 49 yards on 11 carries and added a touchdown as well. The Dolphins' line did a good job creating lanes for him to run through and while Miller didn't approach 100 yards, he gave Tannehill much more freedom in the pocket because the run game was working so well.
On the other side, Branden Oliver struggled for the second straight week. Oliver was consistently bottled up in the backfield and finished with 13 carries for 19 yards (1.5 YPC). It's safe to consider benching Oliver in non-PPR leagues as Ryan Mathews will likely return to the lineup after the Chargers' Week 10 bye. Oliver has proven to be a nice change of pace back who can catch the ball out of the backfield not unlike Danny Woodhead did last year for San Diego, but it' s looking more and more like the 5'8 Oliver may not have the size to be an every down back in the NFL.