George Banko

George Banko

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It's a storied rivalry that not too long ago spelled major playoff implications when both teams were considered among the top in the AFC from 2008-10. But despite the Jets tampering off thanks to rookie quarterback Geno Smith still learning the ropes, an inexperienced secondary and a slew of castaways on offense at both running back and receiver, the matchup between the two teams has continued to remain a close battle no matter how bad one team is in a particular year.

Dating back to their first meeting on Thursday night football in 2013, the Patriots managed to clip the Jets 13-10. A month later, the Jets managed to defeat the Pats 30-27 on a last-second field goal in overtime. In their first meeting in 2012, the Patriots edged the Jets 29-26. The second meeting of 2012 was last time New England really dominated, as the Patriots forced five turnovers en route to a 49-19 victory and also the birth of the bizarre 'butt fumble.' It still remains one of the greatest clips to take the edge off a really bad day.

While the results of past games are no indication tonight's game will be close, it's worth noting the last 3 of 4 games between the two teams have been nail biters.

Here are the fantasy implications for some of tonight's QBs/RBs

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady

Last week's stats (vs. Buffalo): 27-for-37, 361 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

Look at those sparkling numbers. Brady is coming off his best game of the season after he was being written off just two weeks ago following a poor outing on Monday night against Kansas City.

Brady's improved numbers over the last few games can be attributed to his improved accuracy. He completed a fantastic 73 percent of his passes against Buffalo and a solid 65 percent against Cincinnati. The slow emergence of TE Tim Wright has been a huge help as well. Six of Wright's 10 total receptions have come in the last two games, and his five catches on five targets for 85 yards against Cincinnati was a breath of fresh air for the often inconsistent Pats receiving core aside from fellow TE Rob Gronkowski.

Brady has always been a mixed bag when it comes to fantasy value due to the Patriots inconsistent line play and lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But the New York Jets defense comes in with just one interception all season. If the Jets front four fails to get any pressure on Brady, it could be a great fantasy day for the Patriots' QB. Brady is a solid QB1 tonight.

Geno Smith

Last week's stats: Bye week

Smith's last game was a horrendous one where he eventually got benched in a 31-0 blowout against San Diego. Not a fantasy worthy quarterback this week due to a Patriots defense that's among the best in takeaways with 14 on the season, Smith should be benched in every league format including 14-team leagues.

View Football Schedules flickr page here.

Monday, 13 October 2014 00:00

Episode 20: First Aid (Week 6)

In this episode, the Helpers talk about the fantasy implications of two games including the Packers/Dolphins and Bengals/Panthers, hand out their weekly awards and give a brief preview of tonight's game and its possible fantasy outcome. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014 00:00

Week 6 bullet points for RBs

It's Week 6, and this week's rankings our RBs and Ks can be found here.

But, if you want to further understand some of the key guys, here are some explanations regarding why certain players were ranked where they were.

Start of the week

Matt Forte @ Atlanta — # 1 in weekly rankings

Atlanta has become one of the go-to fantasy defenses for any offensive player matched up against them. The Falcons are surrendering 407 yards per game on average, which ranks fourth-worst in the league. They've allowed a league-high 10 rushing touchdowns including 147 rush yards per game, which ranks fifth worst.. Running backs such as Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill combined for more than 160 yards and two touchdowns against them. They allowed a crazy 135 yards from Jerrick McKinnon of the Vikings in addition to another 78 yards from Matt Asiata.

Forte comes into this matchup without a rushing touchdown on the season, but has been effective in fantasy due to his versatility. Forte has 618 combined yards entering today's game. The Bears defense is riddled with injuries as well, so this could be a shootout which always plays into the offenses favor.

Ben Tate vs. Pittsburgh — # 9 in weekly rankings

This isn't a Norv Turner offense anymore, the Cleveland Browns are committed to running the ball as they rank fourth in average rushing attempts per game with 31.8. Behind an above average offensive line, Tate rushed for 41 yards on just six carries (6.8 ypc) before going down with a leg injury in the team's first meeting with Pittsburgh in Week 1. Tate rumbled for 124 yards on 22 carries in his first game back from that same injury in Week 5. While Pittsburgh hasn't been terrible against the run, they're still allowing 4.5 yards per carry and have yet to play a team with a formidable rushing attack like Cleveland. Isaiah Crowell owners should be starting Crowell in their flex if possible too.

 Start em'

Bishop Sankey vs. Jacksonville — # 15 in weekly rankings

We've been high on Sankey all this week and aren't backing out now. With top RB Shonn Greene currently listed as doubtful and the Titans going against the worst defense in the league in terms of yards allowed (435.4 per game), it could be the perfect storm for Sankey. He's averaging a respectable 4.7 yards per carry, but has yet to see more than 10 attempts in one game. This could be the time. It's not out of the question he could see 15-20 carries and approach 100 yards this week.

Justin Forsett @ Tampa Bay — # 19 in weekly rankings

The Ravens backfield has become committee-style this season, but Forsett looks like he's starting to break away as the team's clear-cut No.1  guy. Forsett has scored a touchdown in back-to-back games and has also been utilized in the passing game as he's caught 5,4,4,3, and 7 passes in the Ravens first five games. Tampa Bay is the third-worst defense in terms of yards allowed so the matchup is good. Forsett is a great flex, RB2 option in Week 6.

Owners beware

Joique Bell/George Winn @ Minnesota — #22 and #27 in weekly rankings

The Detroit backfield hasn't been very stable over the past few weeks and it's showed. Only Bell has carried the ball at least 15 times in a a game, and he's coming off a concussion which could mean he might see less carries this week. Detroit's running game hasn't been the best part of their offense in 2014, as the Lions totaled just 69 rushing yards against Buffalo last week and had 88 against the New York Jets a week before. Winn has been the most utilized back as of late coming off his 11 carry, 48 yard performance against Buffalo. But with Bell likely returning and the Lions still being a pass first team, this week's matchup could be a wash for all RBs involved in Detroit.

View John Martinez Pavliga's Flickr page here.

Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Episode 19: Sank-ti-fied

On this episode of Diagnosis, the Helpers weigh in on their sleepers and busts for Week 6. Players include Bishop Sankey (who we're very high on this week) Jermaine Gresham, Matt Ryan, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and also the backfields of both the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.

Hits and misses

They start out discussing their hits and misses from last week. The first one being Matt Ryan, who was predicted to struggle against the New York Giants in Week 5. The Falcons were down three offensive linemen and were playing on the road. That, combined with a decent Giants secondary that featured Prince Amukamara and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie made it tough for Ryan. He finished with 16 fantasy points which wasn't bad, but not great.

Steve Smith Sr. was also predicted to struggle, and he finished as the 61st receiver for the week.

A big miss of ours, was C.J. Spiller. We figured Kyle Orton would be more efficient getting the ball to his receivers and Spiller possessed the versatility to benefit from the receiving game. Spiller didn't do any of that, finishing with 8 yards on 10 carries. He still has yet to register a touchdown this season, which is a disappointment considering he was hyped up more than ever this year due to the fact that Fred Jackson was getting up in age and figured to see a drop in carries. That just hasn't been the case.

Busts and sleepers for Week 6

Bishop Sankey highlights one of our top sleepers for Week 6. He's going up against a bad Jacksonville defense that's allowing 129 rushing yards per game. Sankey saw 32 percent of snaps compared to Shonn Greene's 22 percent. If Greene (who didn't practice on Thursday) is unavailable, Sankey is a great flex play. However, if Greene does play, Sankey owners should probably bench him unless they're in a very deep league (14, 16 team)

Fred Jackson is another sleeper. He's involved in the running game and receiving game heavily and he gets the goal line work. He's always doing something in the game despite his age (33). He continues to be a great PPR option (26 catches through five games), and he's averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Start him in your flex against New England.

Jordan Cameron is one of our potential busts this week. Finally returning from a shoulder injury, Cameron has stated that his shoulder will be bothering him throughout his season. He's not the best option on a Browns team that has fared just fine without him.

LeSean McCoy is another potential bust. He struggled against the Rams despite a favorable matchup. The offensive line hasn't given him much room to work with and his confidence looks drained as he's trying to run east-west too much due to his lack of faith in the offensive line. He's still getting plenty of carries, but he'll be playing a Giants defense he hasn't fared well against recently. Last season, he averaged just 44 yards per game against his division rival.

Percy Harvin is a sleeper for us this week. He had three touchdowns called back last Monday against the Redskins and is playing at home against an average Dallas secondary. It's not unfathomable that Harvin cashes in on what he could've done last week this week.

 

 

Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00

Week 6 pickups

Another week in fantasy football, and another week of new faces creeping onto the radar. This week saw some top players go down with injuries including Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (groin), Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson (ankle) and San Diego Chargers running back Donald Brown (concussion). There were also a few rookies who entered the fantasy rader. Here are this week's top waiver wire pickups.

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver (owned in 12% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: In his first ever game seeing a majority of carries, Oliver lit up a Jets defense that came into the game ranked sixth overall against the run and giving up an average of 83 rushing yards per game. Oliver finished with 182 total yards combined rushing and receiving and a score. At 5'8, Oliver is an undersized speedster that displayed great burst through the hole and looked far superior to anybody else in the Charger backfield.

With Ryan Mathews still 2-3 weeks away from returning and Danny Woodhead out for the season, it's likely Oliver remains the top guy for Week 6 at leaast. He's a great plug in guy if you have a few running backs on a bye, and his versatility in the run and passing game makes him a good add in all formats. The Chargers play the Oakland Raiders next week, a team that's giving up 158 yards per game on average to running backs.

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: We already touched on Beckham Jr. on our podcast earlier, but he's worth mentioning as a solid waiver wire add this week. Beckham Jr. posted a 4/44/1 line in his debut with the Giants and saw a healthy five targets and his touchdown came at a key moment in the game which is often a great confidence builder. It's looking like he'll be firmly entrenched as the team's No. 3 receiver and while he's still a rookie and will likely be inconsistent from time to time, he's still valuable since he fills a much-needed void in terms of WR depth on the Giants' roster. He also gets a good matchup against a Philadelphia team that surrendered three touchdowns and 341 passing yards to Austin Davis and the Rams. Beckham Jr. is an instant flex add in 12-to-14 team leagues.

Cleveland Browns WR Taylor Gabriel (owned in 0% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: After starting the season off slow with just 18 receiving yards in two games, the rookie has strung together back-to-back games of at least 80 receiving yards. At 5'8, Gabriel is undersized and relies on the big play to accrue the majority of his yards, but he's being utilized in the offense and the Browns have a soft stretch in their schedule coming up with their next three opponents consisting of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. Gabriel is probably only worth adding in 14-team leagues at this point, but he's not a terrible option considering his matchups.

Owen Daniels TE Baltimore Ravens (owned in 42% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: Daniels led the Ravens in receiving with five grabs for 70 yards on seven targets. Daniels could be a good bye-week filler if you're short on tight ends in Week 6 for a few reasons. While he's not very explosive, he has reliable hands (reeled in 19 of his 27 targets), is always a threat for a red zone score and he'll be matched up against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 30th against the pass this Sunday.

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: With Montee Ball sidelined with a groin injury, Hillman finished with 64 yards on 15 carries. If Ball expects to miss a significant amount of time, Hillman will likely be the guy to fill the void with C.J. Anderson peppered in as well. Lauded at times for his struggles in pass protection which is a deal breaker when keeping quarterback Peyton Manning upright, Hillman doesn't present a ton of upside and his stats may suffer if the Broncos opt to go with a committee-style attack. Still, he'll still be running the ball on one of the most potent offenses in the league. He'll have opportunities to score.

View Chad Cooper's flickr page here.

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.

One thing is for sure through four weeks of fantasy football — those who were lucky enough to snag one of the top 3 picks in this year's fantasy drafts haven't been so lucky after all.

Running backs Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles were widely drafted in the top 3 of most fantasy drafts in 2014, and their owners have run into plenty of snags so far this season. We all know about Peterson, who only played one game this season after being suspended for an off the field issue. Charles' owners finally struck gold in Week 4 against New England, but up until then the explosive Chiefs running back was regressing due to an early ankle injury.

Then there's Shady McCoy. Unlike Charles whose play was stifled due to an injury at least for the first few weeks, and unlike Peterson who had an off field issue derail his season, McCoy is 100 percent healthy and as far as we know, hasn't done anything controversial of the field.

But despite that, McCoy is coming off the two worst performances of his career. He has run for just 39 yards on 29 carries in his last two outings. His longest run of the season went for 21 yards in Week 2 against the Colts.

His 2014 start pales in comparison to his numbers around the same time last year. In his first three games in 2013, McCoy's longest runs in each game went for 34, 17 and 41 yards. He also topped the century mark in two out of three of those games. In 2014, McCoy hasn't rushed for more than 100 yards once. So why the regression? Well, there are several reasons.

Foles getting a bigger role

For one, Chip Kelly and the Eagles are now set on a franchise quarterback in Nick Foles, which is something they didn't have last year under an aging Michael Vick behind center. After Foles played successfully in absence of Vick last year to the tune of a near perfect 27:2 TD-to-INT ratio and a record 119.2 quarterback rating, Chip Kelly embedded his trust in the young Foles as the team's starter going forward. It's because of this trust that led to Kelly giving Foles a bigger role in the offense as evidenced by Foles' 166 passing attempts so far in 2014, which ranks second in the league to only Andrew Luck.

Dealing with a more prolific passing attack just wasn't something McCoy dealt with last year. In 2013, he led the league with 314 rushing attempts. The next rusher who even came close to that was Matt Forte with 289 attempts. With nearly a 30 carry difference between him and the second-most prolific ball carrier, McCoy's numbers had a lot to do with how much he was relied upon with a young quarterback still emerging and a run-first offense under Kelly. While McCoy is still seeing a healthy amount of carries per game, he hasn't scratched those 30-carry efforts he had at times in 2013.

Offensive line woes

This is probably the biggest reason for McCoy's struggles. Center Jason Kelce and guard Evan Mathis will likely be out until at least Week 10, which has proven to be a huge detractor from the team's blocking efficiency. Currently, the offensive line consists of pro bowler Jason Peters at left tackle, undrafted free agent Matt Tobin at guard, former seventh-round pick David Molk at center, and veteran Todd Herremans (who was almost cut last offseason) at right guard. Rounding out the offensive line at the right tackle spot in Week 5 will be second-year tackle Lane Johnson back this week, who's playing his first game of the season coming off suspension.

At times, McCoy has looked to get the edge on several plays in the last two games but hasn't had much space to work with. It got so bad that at one point in his against San Francisco, he could be visibly seen talking to his offensive line on the sidelines in hopes of figuring out what the problem was. He was equally frustrated during this week's press conferences.

McCoy's game

At 26 years old, there's no noticeable regression to McCoy's game in terms of his talent and there's no reason for those fantasy owners with McCoy on their team to bench him. He still looks like the same old joystick out there, especially considering he dropped weight in the offseason which has arguably made him even faster. His 3.75 yards per carry average in the first two games suggests he hasn't lost a step.

The Sproles factor

While offseason addition Darren Sproles has outshined McCoy so far this season in the form of big plays, he only has 18 total carries to McCoy's total of 70. McCoy was involved in 75 percent of the team's total snaps in Week 4 while Sproles was involved in just 27 percent. There's nothing to indicate Sproles has put a dent in McCoy's stats or will start to do so down the road, though he has made more out of the few attempts he's been given as evidenced by his 6.7 yards per carry average.

Is Week 5 the week McCoy breaks out?

The Philadelphia Eagles play the St. Louis Rams today, a matchup that heavily favors Philadelphia in several facets. The Rams haven't fared well against the run so far this season, as they rank 30th in rushing yards allowed per game with 155. They surrendered 100-plus yard games in each of their 3 games this season. One from Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, Vikings wide receiver Cordarralle Paterson and Tampa Bay Bucs backup Bobby Rainey.

A lot of the Rams' struggles on defense is due to their offense. Current starter Austin Davis hasn't favored too badly as his 93.3 quarterback rating is respectable, but he still hasn't moved the offense well. St. Louis ranks dead last in the NFL with 61 first downs, but despite their inability to move the ball down field, the Rams surprisingly rank in the top 10 for time of possession, averaging more than 32 minutes a game.

The Eagles offensive line should be slightly improved as well, with Johnson replacing Andrew Gardner at right tackle. Johnson's conditioning may not be quite there yet as he's yet to feel the effects of playing at game speed, but the 24-year old first round pick is a far superior option to Gardner, who has struggled at times to maintain his blocks.

Final verdict

Fantasy owners of McCoy should be green like the Hulk this week. The Eagles have a soft matchup, one of their starting lineman is back, McCoy is frustrated and wants a breakout game in the worst way. Barring some fluke injury, this is as good a chance as he will have all year for a great performance.

 

 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:00

Buy low, sell high candidates for Week 5

Editor's note: This article was written by guest writer Chase Kiddy.

Buy Low

Eddie Lacy: We’re four weeks in and Lacy owners are approaching full-on panic mode. Lacy, who was likely drafted in the first round in most leagues, has barely scored 20 total points on the season. However, when you factor in that the Packers have faced the Front 7s of the Seahawks, Jets, and Lions over the first three weeks, you start to understand why Lacy has struggled to emerge as a dominant fantasy back thus far this season. Add in a concussion from two weeks ago and an average offensive line in Green Bay, and we’ve got a full set of tea leaves to pick apart.

We’re seeing Lacy’s floor right now, and it’s not very pretty. But that’s what makes him such a perfect buy-low candidate: short of a third concussion, he couldn’t possibly be playing worse than he and his teammates are right now.

On the other hand, Lacy’s ceiling is that of a top-tier running back. Target him in a trade and hope for the best. Even if he continues to underperform, you’re probably not paying too much for him right now, and he’s got nowhere to go but up. Maybe way up.

DeAndre Hopkins: The knock on the second-year Clemson product who plays opposite of Andre Johnson in Houston was that he is too touchdown-dependent. That reputation has kept his value low despite a touchdown in each of the Texans’ first two games. But now it’s time to re-evaluate Hopkins, who scored in double digits for the second time this season simply by grabbing six balls for 116 yards in a loss to the Giants on Sunday.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is throwing the ball, on average, 25 times a game. It’s not a ton, but it’s more than you might expect from a run-first team like Houston. If he continues to target Hopkins, the public is eventually going to inflate his value to an appropriate market level. For now, though, it’s still possible to steal him in a trade. (Or, perhaps, just pick him up. Despite being the No. 11 receiver in fantasy, he’s actually available in 22% of leagues!)

Colin Kaepernick: Remember last year, when the 49ers passed the least out of all 32 teams, and could always be trusted to run the ball with brutal effectiveness and play great defense? Those were the days. Now, though, the 49ers are arguably the worst defensive team in the NFC West, although they shut down the high-powered offense of Philadelphia and clawed their way back to 2-2. The 49ers simply don’t have the tools this year to be a run-first kind of team, ranking 17th as a team in both rushing yards per game (112) and scoring defense (22.7). On the other hand, with Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, and Stevie Johnson all lining up and running routes, they’ve got plenty of weapons available through the air. San Fran has looked their best this year when they’ve thrown the ball, and that means plenty of fantasy value for Kaepernick. He’ll finish the year as a top 10 quarterback, so you should grab him now, while his profile is down low.

Andrew Hawkins: Hawkins is an interesting prospect to target in trades, mainly because of his visibility. He’s yet to score a touchdown after three weeks, and you’d have to be pretty desperate for receivers to initiate a trade with the primary objective of requiring Hawkins. Still, Hawkins, who’s hauled in 21 catches from Brian Hoyer through three games, is an intriguing flex play opportunity. He hasn’t failed to score 7 points or more in a game yet, so if you’re just looking for a bust-resistant guy that could nab an extra 7-10 points, Hawkins could be your guy. His value could drop slightly with Jordan Cameron back on the field, but he could be a nice tack-on to a trade offer you’re already considering, but would like to get a little something extra out of. He’s a respectable off-week replacement, particularly in PPR leagues, and will be available for the remainder of the season after Cleveland’s Week 4 bye.

Sell High

DeMarco Murray: Trade the NFL’s leading rusher? Well, yeah. Beat writer Eddie Middlebrook from WFAA sports commented last week that Murray “looks great right now,” adding that “his stock is as high as it’s ever been,” which certainly qualifies him as a sell-high candidate. And make no mistake about it — Murray does look like a dominant fantasy runner right now, particularly after rushing for 100 yards and a score in Week 3 in St. Louis and a monster 149-yard game this past week against New Orleans.

However, there’s plenty to be concerned about when it comes to Murray. He’s a moderate injury concern, missing 11 games over his first three years in the League, including six in 2012. And when you mix those health concerns with his upcoming schedule — the Cowboys will face the D-lines of Houston, Seattle, Washington, and Arizona, all in the next six weeks — Murray’s long-term value over 2014 is not without red flags.

After last weekend’s 34-31 win over the Rams, it’s true that the Cowboys are now 13-1 over Murray’s career when he gets at least 20 touches. But as Tony Romo’s back continues to heal, doesn’t that just feel like the kind of thing that Dallas ownership and coaches are bound to lose sight of?

Rashad Jennings: When you think of top five fantasy running backs, do you think of Rashad Jennings? Probably not, but somehow, the Giants’ newest offensive weapon is sitting just ahead of former New York resident Ahmad Bradshaw as the No. 5 running back in fantasy football. Which is, well, kind of weird. With the G-Men’s new emphasis on the short passing game, Jennings has more value as a PPR guy who might catch the ball out in the flat 6-8 times a game than as a bonafide between-the-tackles runner. Jennings should finish among the top 15 RBs, and has plenty of value for the remainder of the season. But you’d be wise to ship him now, when his value is likely peaking, before he settles in as 10-20 guy.

Nick Foles: Mark this one down as the Rashad Jennings Corollary, if you like. Fresh off a super-sexy shootout with the Skins, Foles eclipsed 25+ points in standard scoring for the first time this season and became the fifth-highest scoring signal caller in standard scoring. But Foles, who was forced to throw a little more than normal because LeSean McCoy missed part of the game with a head injury, looked pretty beat up in the win. He regressed further against the 49ers in Week 4 and took several shots in that game as well. Foles seems like he might be a couple hits away from his own personal morphine drip, which would place backup QB Mark Sanchez at the helm of Chip Kelly’s fantasy-friendly offense. But even if he stays healthy, it’s probably not wise to bet on Foles, now in his first full year as a starting quarterback, to keep outpacing guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Phillip Rivers in fantasy points. Kelly’s system lines Foles up as a solid QB1, but not necessarily a top-5 guy.


Owen Daniels: This one is easy. Daniels was already trending upward after his two-touchdown Week 2 matchup with the Steelers and is now a trendy pick at tight end with Dennis Pitta on the IR due to a season-ending hip injury. But even though Daniels shares an important Houston connection with offensive coordinator and play-caller Gary Kubiak, it’s unlikely that Daniels rises above all the other mouths to feed in Baltimore. With a three-headed RBBC approach on the horizon and Steve Smith Sr. & Torrey Smith as the two most important targets for Joe Flacco, Daniels’ perceived value before Week 4 is much higher than what is actual value likely settles out to, even without Pitta.

Monday, 29 September 2014 00:00

Episode 17: First Aid (Week 4)

On Monday's edition of first aid, George and Scott discuss two games in detail. They debate whether or not you should bench LeSean McCoy and how to avoid the flash-in-the-pan phenomenon. Plus weekly awards and a preview of Monday's game between New England and Kansas City.

Editor's note: This article was written by guest writer Casey Bass and is the second of a two-part series. Part II covers wide receivers and tight ends.

Buy Low

Cecil Shorts/Jacksonville Jaguars

Current .5 PPR Rank: N/A. Only played 1 game (5 rec. 35 yds TD)

Current 16 game pace: N/A. Only played 1 game (5 rec. 35 yds TD)

This is for you deep-league folks. Cecil Shorts has played only 1 game thus far and therefore he’s listed as the WR76 in .5 PPR leagues.  He scored 12 points in his 1 game however, which would place him at WR23 on a per game basis. Shorts is injury prone, but hopefully he’s got his one injury for the season out of the way. 

He’s been able to put up back-to-back productive seasons (2012 – 979 yds 7 TD,  2013 – 777 yds. 3 TD) despite playing with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at QB. The Blake Bortles era has begun and even if he was forced to play out the season blindfolded, he’d still have 100 times more ability than his predecessors. Bortles will go through his growing pains and the Jaguars will still be a very bad football team but there will be flashes of brilliance in the passing game that were not possible with Gabbart and Henne. 

In his first half of football in the NFL in Week 3, Bortles did not look shy to take shots down field and the Jaguars will look to get a ton of experience under his belt. He had 2 garbage time TDs and the coaching staff looks like they will let him throw the football all the way down to the last second like he did this week in a 44-17 drubbing at the hands of the Colts. That is where Shorts caught his TD with less than 1 minute remaining. 

I expect more blowouts, more prevent defenses, and more cheap touchdowns with Shorts leading the way in the Jacksonville receiving core.  Buy (or pick up in shallow leagues) Shorts at WR5 or flex value and you’ll gain a player who should settle in as a WR3 with the upside of a WR2.            

Sell High

Mohamed Sanu/ Cinncinatti Bengals

Current .5 PPR Rank: WR 18

Current 16 game pace: 896 receiving/rushing yds. 64 rec. 5 TD / 363 yds. 5 TD passing.

Mohamed Sanu has been so much more fun as a quarterback to own through 3 weeks than Tom Brady.  Wait….what?

Well, in two separate weeks you were able to get bonus points from Sanu’s passing stats (a 50 yard pass and an 18 yard TD pass)!!!  I’m going to go ahead and say that he will not reach his pace of 363 yards passing and 5 TD passes. His receiving totals are about what was expected after Marvin Jones went down with a long term injury in the preseason and they are solid totals. However, if we subtract his passing statistics, Sanu plummets down to WR32.   

If you delve deeper, you’ll see that 46% of his receiving points came on 1 play (a 76 yard TD), in a game where A.J. Green was not on the field. Sanu is not going to put up many big plays like this and the targets are not there (5.66/g) for him to have value via volume. The Bengals are locked and loaded as a dominant all around team and are the type of team we try to avoid when it comes to fantasy WRs (besides AJ Green, he’s amazing). 

They’ve got a great running game and an even better defense and will look to pound the ball and run clock in many 2nd halves of games (Think, a poor man’s Seahawks). If you can sell Sanu at WR18 then DO IT. If you can sell Sanu as WR25 then DO IT. Even if you can sell him at WR35 I’d say DO IT as he has nothing more than a WR4 value from here on out.

Buy? No!

Marques Colston

Current .5 PPR Rank: WR56

Current 16 game pace: 720 Total yds. 37 rec. 5 Total TD.

In week 1, Marques Colston had a huge game (110 yds) in a shootout against Atlanta, but ended the game on a sour note, as his overtime fumble gave the game away to the Falcons. 

Since then, he’s had a case of yips with 2 drops on wide open passes down field. He failed to catch a pass in week 2 and in week 3 he was held to just 2 catches for 25 yards.  His TD came late in the 4th quarter on an 18 yard pass which really should not have happened had Minnesota not been flagged for roughing the passer on 3rd down earlier in the possession. 

I’m not sure if the coaching staff has lost faith in him, as the Browns and Vikings should not have been tough matchups, but what I do know is this.

1. The Saints are committed to running the football. Khiry Robinson has picked up where the injured Mark Ingram left off and the Saints are pounding away more than they have in the past. 

2. The Saints are throwing a ton of short passes and not taking shots down field. It’s shocking to see how conservative the Saints have been, and the days of bombs to Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem are in the past. Colston benefitted from the threat those players posed and was able to find a hole in the zone or beat his man 1 on 1 in short to intermediate routes.  Until that deep threat is established, the middle of the field will be a crowded place with Graham, and Cooks also specializing in short to intermediate routes. 

3. Brandin Cooks is the second most effective non-RB pass catcher on the Saints (after Jimmy Graham). This man is lightning quick, has great hands and can run all types of routes on any part of the field. Colston had easily been the Saints 2nd best non-RB pass catcher (above Lance Moore and Kenny Stills) prior to this year but it looks as if he’s dropped on the totem pole. I do expect more than WR56 value but if you think you’re getting sneaky WR3 value in deep leagues then you’ll be disappointed. Do not buy. Let someone continue to roster him, start him, and hate him.

Sell? No!:

DeAndre Hopkins/Houston Texans

Current .5 PPR Rank: WR12

Current 16 game pace: 1211 Total yds. 69 rec. 11 Total TD

Hopkins was among the most highly touted WR prospects in last year’s draft class (along with Tavon Austin). Despite an ugly quarterback situation (Schaub/Keenum/Yates) and a tired offensive scheme, he finished with 55 catches and 802 yds, a fine season for a rookie WR.  Hopkins has the speed, size and route running ability to be an elite WR in this league.   

This year the QB situation is slightly improved with Ryan Fitzpatrick but the new offensive scheme of Bill O’Brien is maximizing Hopkins' talent. This year Hopkins is emerging as the Texans primary down field threat, averaging 17.5 yards per catch. He has 2 TDs which is great, but his 13 receptions and 19 targets are nothing to write home about. However, there was one play this week that will not be found in the box score that could increase his role going forward. 

In the second quarter, Hopkins ran a go route down the middle of the field and Fitzpatrick gave him a shot to make a play, and boy did he MAKE A PLAY. He jumped, did a 180 in the air, reached out with his fully extended left hand and hauled in what has to be the catch of the year thus far, for 53 yards. 

The play was called back due to an illegal motion penalty, but that didn’t stop Bill O’Brien from talking about the play. 

When asked about the play, O’Brien admitted that he was impressed but not surprised because he makes those plays in practice all the time, but even more importantly, when talking further about his young WR, he said "we need to do a better job of getting [DeAndre Hopkins] the ball." If he’s telling the truth then we can be seeing a change of the guard in Houston with Andre Johnson settling in as the number two option or maybe they can be options 1A and 1B. Either way, hold, don’t sell, start him and enjoy.

Buy Low

Jason Witten/Dallas Cowboys

Current .5 PPR Rank: TE27

Current 16 game pace: 507 Total yds. 53 rec 0 TD

Owners of struggling teams that have Jason Witten have either gone grey, are starting to go bald, or have torn their hair out entirely.  Almost all Witten owners have had him in the lineup every week and this week started saying to themselves, “Ok, Dallas will open it up.  Their defense is horrible. They have to open it up right? 21-0 AND YOU’RE RUNNING?!?!?! AHHHHHH”. 

Bottom line is, Witten still looks the same. He and Tony Romo have great chemistry and he did make a few key catches for first downs in this game. It’s evident that the offense will not be going back to the way it was, but the Dallas defense is still bad, and they will face better competition than they did in weeks 2 and 3 (Titans and Rams). I do still see the Cowboys as a run-first team until the wheels fall off of DeMarco Murray, but the offense will have to open up a little bit and Witten will provide TE1 value…..right?  It has to happen?   

Sell High

Martellus Bennett

Current .5 PPR Rank: TE2

Current 16 game pace: 859 Total yds. 107 rec. 21 TD

Brandon Marshall has been badly hurt for 2+ games and Alshon Jeffery was hurt for about a game and a half. I love the Bears offense and I think Bennett does have value as a matchup play TE1 but if anyone in your league is really buying him at this value or even 50% of this value then the time to sell is now. Sell them on the ranking, sell them on the targets (26 in 3 games), sell them on the TDs which he’s had in every game. And then smile to yourself after you pull off the rip-off of the year.       

Buy? No!

Antonio Gates

Current .5 PPR Rank: TE6

Current 16 game pace: 987 Total yds. 75 rec. 16 TD

I own Antonio Gates so I’m hoping what I’m about to say is all a big fat lie.  Antonio Gates is such a smart football player and can still make plenty of plays but he’s just not the tight end you’re going to want in your lineup every week, especially late in the season. Gates is still more than capable of the huge game no matter what the matchup may be. 

Two weeks ago against Seattle he put on an absolute clinic scoring 3 beautiful TDs and looked like the Antonio Gates of 2005-2010. Nostalgic fantasy football players will hear the name, see the highlights and proclaim “He’s back!”….but I have bad news……his resurrection into the top TE ranks is only temporary. There are two reasons why this is the case. The first is that the Chargers have experienced two major blows to their RB position (Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead). 

The dynamic duo that they lost to injury was the backbone of the offense. They drew line backers and safeties forward allowing Gates to get easy 1 on 1 matchups (and sometimes 1 on 0) allowing him to break free in the passing game. The Chargers first game without these two was an absolute disaster for Gates (1 target, 1 catch, 8 yds), as Donald Brown (31 carries, 62 yds, 5 rec 27 yds) proved that he will not in any way seamlessly fill in for the two injured RBs that he has replaced.  In addition, we’ve seen this from Gates as early as last season. He started 2013 with two 100+ yard performances and 2 TD in his first 4 games.  In the next 12 games he topped out at 74 yards and scored two total TDs. 

Once again, in 2014, Gates has come out of the gate strong but expect him to get nicked up (already has had reported hamstring woes) wear down, and lose touches and targets to a young talented man who is ready to fill his shoes, Ladarius Green. Gates can turn it on sometimes and is a fine streaming TE to play matchups with. His next few weeks are especially favorable (JAX, NYJ, @OAK) but the fun ends there as the schedule becomes difficult for the rest of the season. So if you have him then start him the next 3 weeks, but if you do not have him then do not even think about buying him at TE6 value. All of that being said….I hope I’m completely wrong about this. Let’s go Antonio Gates.

Sell? No!

Greg Olsen/Carolina Panthers

Current .5 PPR Rank: TE4

Current 16 game pace: 1195 yds. 101 rec. 11 TDs

This is one career year in the making that I’m buying. Cam Newton’s broken ribs have eliminated his ability to run the ball. In addition, the Panthers had a rough week on the injury front at RB with Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert both suffering what look to be multi-week injuries.  

They are now down to DeAngelo Williams (coming off an injury) and 4th string RB, Darrin Reaves, an undrafted free agent out of UAB.  I think we’ve seen enough of DeAngelo the last few years to know that he won’t be all that effective and unless Darrin Reaves has some George Reeves (Superman, for those who don’t know) in him, then the Panthers running game as we know it will be extinct. 

Greg Olsen, who was already being heavily targeted will be the major beneficiary as they will use his big body and route ability as an extension of the run game. He’ll be asked to make the small plays and the big plays and he can do both as evidenced by his 37 yard catch and run for a TD this past Sunday night. I do expect 100 catches. I do expect 1000 yards. I do expect 10+ TD. And, I do expect Greg Olsen to push Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas for the #1 TE spot. Don’t be sneaky and try to sell here. Olsen is ready to break out.

That’ll do it for this week folks. I look forward to your comments thoughts and feedback. Keep talking to those irrational owners. May your trades be rip-offs and your deals be ever in your favor. Good luck in week 4!

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