When I started doing research for “Know
Thy Opponent” last week, I did so with the intention of
arriving the piece I will be writing this week. It only makes sense
that if we are going to spend some time analyzing what defenses
give up to each position, we also spend a bit of time looking at
the individual players. As such, think of this week’s submission
as a bit of a companion piece to last week’s article. Or consider
this a midseason version of the “Consistency
Rankings Analysis” I have done over the last two summers
during my PMA series.
Since the purpose of this article is to provide some insight
as to what fantasy players have done to this point, I will not
be tracking categories such as “Top 1”, “Elite”,
“clear starter” or calculating a score like I did
in the offseason story – since we are not projecting season-long
player performance at this point. Much like last week’s
article, I want owners to be able to use this article as a reference
point when putting together their DFS or redraft lineups over
the next few weeks.
Because many of you will be spending hours upon hours with family
and/or football on Thanksgiving, my hope for this week is to get
in and get out before you find yourself in a turkey-induced coma.
And since I will be releasing my fourth and final set of quarterly
projections next week, so I’ll put together a more comprehensive
player and team breakdown at that time.
Below is a list of players - broken down by position and in alphabetical
order (first name) – that have been worthy of starting consideration
in fantasy or that I believe have a chance of contributing in
the coming weeks, at least given what we know at the moment. I
placed dashes in any box in which the player had a bye week or
was injured. I chose to leave in some of the more notable players
that are out for the season at certain positions in order to give
readers a better idea of what to potentially expect out of replacements
such as Charcandrick West, Thomas Rawls and James White.
- It seems very hard to believe in a down year for Rodgers that
he’s basically on the same track he was last year (with
only a slight dip in passing yards). Last season, his line was
4,381-38-5 with 269 yards rushing and two scores. This season,
he’s on pace for 3,971-37-5 with 352 yards rushing.
- Brady (6.5), Palmer (8.9) and Newton (9.1) are the only three
quarterbacks with a single-digit average fantasy rank. It is interesting
to note that Brady’s worst three ranks of the season have
come in the last three games. (Is it a coincidence they are the
same three in which Dion Lewis hurt his knee or was ruled out
for the year?)
- With all the comings and goings in Chicago, perhaps it is about
time we give Cutler some credit. He’s only been stellar
in one week, but more than serviceable over the last two months.
- Cousins has been the definition of a matchup-based starter.
In his three best weeks, he’s had his way with the Eagles,
Bucs and Saints and exceeded expectations. In every other contest,
he has scored fewer than 15 fantasy points (even in leagues that
award six points for all touchdowns).
- This could be the last week in which owners can get fair market
value in return for Rivers, at least from those owners that generally
only look at fantasy-point totals and don’t put a lot of
thought into the factors that lead to them. After posting one
sub 20-point fantasy effort through eight weeks, he’s done
it in back-to-back games. Rivers has virtually no offensive line
or running game to speak of for the second straight year, Antonio
Gates may not be himself the rest of the year and there is no
way Steve Johnson and Dontrelle Inman are replacing Keenan Allen.
- It sure seems like a long time ago when Jets HC Todd Bowles
compared Abdullah’s quickness to Barry Sanders. If the Lions
have designs on competing next year (or at least finding out what
they have), they’ll do the right thing and scrap their ridiculous
three-man committee. That’s not to say Detroit has the offensive
line this season to make the rookie look good consistently, but
he’s the one back on the team that can create a big play
in the running game.
- How good is the Chiefs’ running game for fantasy running
backs? Three different players (Charles, West and Ware) have combined
for eight top-10 finishes!
- It’s easy to take a look at Doug Martin’s season
totals and see a fantasy RB1. However, when one takes a look at
his weekly ranks, he’s been a low-end RB2 just as often
as he’s been a RB1.
- Want to meet the new standard of the top-20 fantasy running
back? Yeldon has scored two touchdowns in nine games (he missed
Week 6) and ranks No. 20 overall in PPR formats. Since Week 3,
he has seen at least 16 touches every week. Success typically
follows opportunity, especially when talent comes along for the
ride. Yeldon has the opportunity and talent, and 16-plus touches
per week is going to lead to a lot of double-digit fantasy performances.
- Gurley’s performance to this point speaks for itself.
It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue without three-fifths
of his offensive line for the foreseeable future (G’s Rodger
Saffold and Jamon Brown – both out for the season –
as well as RT Rob Havenstein). It is reasonable to believe that
games like the last three weeks – less than four yards per
carry each time – will become the norm.
- The season totals say A.J. Green is a top-10 receiver. One look
at the ranks above tell a different story and suggest he’s
been a low-end WR2 or WR3 much more often.
- I’m not sure I know what’s more impressive: Julio
Jones’ four top-three finishes or Hopkins’ five top-five
weeks (with three different quarterbacks).
- Revisiting my anti-Detroit theme from the section above: if
Calvin Johnson is less than 100 percent, why is so difficult to
use Golden Tate like a poor man’s Julian Edelman - especially
considering how bad the run game is been. Tate’s run-after-catch
skills have long been underappreciated, so it seems like a crime
that he doesn’t see double-digit targets more often.
- I have yet to use Mike Evans in DFS this year, but I think that
will change this week. I’m not crazy about the inefficiency
(44 catches on 90 targets) or his ridiculous number of drops,
but he’s getting targeted at the rate one would expect from
the player that is playing the Julio Jones role in OC Dirk Koetter’s
- Speaking of underappreciated, kudos to Travis Benjamin. Although
Week 10 was the first time he rewarded fantasy owners in nearly
a month, he has consistently been a WR2 in an offense that didn’t
look capable of producing a WR3 entering the season.
- Although he has virtually no chance of reaching his usual touchdown
numbers, Demaryius Thomas is somehow still on pace to exceed his
career-high catch total from last year (111; he’s on pace
for 114) and finish with 1,400 yards receiving.
- Can anyone say with any certainty that Celek is starting to
emerge as a fantasy property? We’ve settled for less than
three top-six finishes in six tries from many other waiver-wire
- Barnidge’s totals with Josh McCown as his quarterback
in Weeks 3-8: 36 catches, 512 yards and six touchdowns. In two
Johnny Manziel starts prior to the Browns’ Week 11 bye,
the 30-year-old’s totals were eight receptions, 100 yards
and a score. I’m inclined to believe owners should be prepared
for the second act of “Barnidge Fever”.
- Say it and it will happen? The CBS broadcast team talked on
multiple occasions during Thursday Night Football last week about
the Jacksonville coaching staff’s desire to get Julius Thomas
more involved. Although it seemed to come at the cost of neglecting
Allen Hurns, Thomas posted his second-best fantasy day as a Jaguar.
It is impossible to say at this point if it is a beginning of
a trend or not, but Jacksonville has plenty of reasons ($$$) to
make him its top red-zone target.
- Is Gronkowski human after all or are defenses just more committed
than ever to making sure some other Patriot wins his matchup?
After seven consecutive TE1 finishes, he has been relatively quiet
in two of his last three contests. OC Josh McDaniels is a brilliant
play-designer, so it seems reasonable that Gronk will get rolling
again in a week or two.
- Owen Daniels refuses to go away, just about the time owners
would like him to do so. Still, Vernon Davis is a tight end I’d
want on my fantasy playoff roster, particularly as a reserve.
Last week’s 6-68-0 line sounds about right for a highly-athletic
tight end in a Gary Kubiak offense.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.