It’s the home stretch for fantasy owners. Three games to
grab a ticket to the fantasy playoffs or be doomed to wait nine
long months to begin the next title quest. Are you ready?
This was supposed to be another six-team bye weekend, but Tampa
Bay and Miami are playing their Week 1 hurricane-delayed game.
Carolina, New York Jets, Indianapolis and San Francisco are sitting
out this week.
Not much rain or snow in the forecast, perhaps Seattle for Monday
night, but double-digit wind is expected in Cleveland, Green Bay,
Houston, Chicago and New York and that can be more troublesome.
Jonathan Stewart scored double-digit fantasy
points Thursday night... the first time since Week 1.
“The truth is never dangerous, except when told.”
- Philip Moeller
1) “I was told all week that
I was a fantasy sleeper. I had to get everyone some points.”
Garrett Celek TE San Francisco
True. Every tight end scores big when they play the New York
Giants (13.8 FPts/G allowed) and Celek was the trendy play last
Sunday. He responded with his best game since 2015 – four
catches for 67 yards and a touchdown worth 12.7 fantasy points.
His previous high this season was just 6.1 points. Sometimes,
past results DO indicate future performance. For those looking
forward, the Giants play; Kansas City, Washington, Oakland, Dallas,
Philadelphia and Arizona through Week 16. Expect every one of
those tight ends to be highly ranked and No. 1 overall in a couple
2) Jonathan Stewart is still not “allowed”
to score touchdowns.
Unfortunately true. Despite posting a season-high 110 yards,
when it came to actually putting the ball into the end zone, the
scores went to; Christian McCaffrey and lightly-used Cameron Artis-Payne.
J-Stew still has just one rushing touchdown this season and he’s
1-for-20 in the red zone. You can’t win fantasy leagues
3) Jamaal Williams will be the most added
player in Week 11, but isn’t likely to give you as many points
as you would hope.
True. The Ravens, Green Bay’s next opponent, have only yielded
one running back more than 18 points this season (Le’Veon
Bell) and Williams certainly isn’t in Bell’s league. In fact,
the only backs to have cracked 12 points against Baltimore this
season are; Leonard
Fournette, Bell, Jordan
Howard and Latavius
Murray. Williams’ fantasy value in Week 11 should come in
around 6-8 points.
4) Russell Wilson leads all active quarterbacks
over the past five weeks (30.9 FPts/G) after averaging 22.9 through
the first five games.
Fact. This shouldn’t surprise any fantasy owners. Wilson
always comes on as the season progresses. Last season he averaged
18.0 over the first eight games and 22.9 over the final eight.
In 2015, the split was more pronounced – 20.0/29.8. Wilson
won’t face a top-10 defense (based on fantasy points allowed)
through the end of the fantasy regular season, but the fantasy
playoffs could be a challenge with top-ranked Jacksonville in
Week 14 and No. 6 Los Angeles Rams in Week 15.
5) Antonio Brown has not been a top-10
receiver since Week 6.
Check it out. He’s not even the No. 1 receiver on the Steelers.
In the last four games JuJu Smith-Schuster has averaged 13.5 FPts/G,
good enough for third overall behind DeAndre Hopkins and Robert Woods, while Brown is averaging 11.4 points. Obviously, the reason
JuJu is open so often, is because of the attention that Brown
requires, but fantasy owners only care about results. Unless defenses
end up fearing Smith-Schuster more than Brown (very unlikely)
or Ben Roethlisberger decides to force the ball to No. 84 through
double coverage, Brown’s totals could continue to be “pedestrian.”
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” - Napoleon
1) LeGarrette Blount is still the
Eagles starting running back.
In name only. I expect Jay Ajayi to see slightly more work and
the former Dolphin is a better runner than Blount. The Eagles
bye came at the perfect time for Ajayi to learn the entire offense.
Blount will become completely touchdown dependent and probably
shouldn’t be started. Corey Clement, he of the three-touchdown
game against Denver shouldn’t be started either. I’m
thinking 18 touches for Ajayi, 12 rushing attempts for Blount
and eight touches for Clement.
2) Drew Brees is still an elite fantasy
Sorry, not any more. Part of the reason for his decline is the
improvement of the rest of the team. Brees no longer is forced
to win 48-45 shootouts. The New Orleans defense has become a force,
yielding just 18.3 points per game. In addition, the two-headed
monster of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has become dynamic. Ingram
has posted three 100-yards games this season, is averaging 4.7
ypc and scored seven times. Kamara has emerged since the trade
of Adrian Peterson, scoring four times in the last three games,
and averaging 109 yards from scrimmage over the past six contests.
Given all that, Brees doesn’t need to throw as much, so
he’s not, though he’s still completing a league-leading
71.7 percent of his throws. He’s on pace to attempt 533
passes, the fewest since 2009 when he threw the ball just 514
times. Ironically, that was the year New Orleans won the Super
Bowl. Coincidence, probably not.
3) Fantasy owners can replace Ezekiel Elliott
with Alfred Morris/Rod Smith/Darren McFadden and survive.
No, no, a thousand times no. Zeke is a special talent and no
matter how good the Cowboys offensive line is supposed to be,
there is going to be a significant drop off. Even if Tyron Smith
returns at LT, fantasy owners will suffer. Smith’s absence
affected the Dallas passing game more than running game last week
in Atlanta. Morris averaged 4.8 ypc and Rod Smith averaged 4.7.
But the threat of Elliott running the football opens up almost
every option for Dak Prescott and the passing game. Without Elliott,
defenses don’t fear the Dallas run game. Not only can’t
any of the three running backs fill Elliott’s shoes, but
his absence hurts Prescott and Dez Bryant’s fantasy values.
4) Teddy Bridgewater should end up starting
for the Vikings this season.
Fairy tale. It’s a nice story for beat writers, but has
anyone looked at his statistics from 2015. He threw for an average
202 yards per game, tossed 14 touchdowns and was picked off nine
times. He also rushed for 12 yards per game and scored three times.
He ranked 26th among quarterbacks with at least 10 starts (35th
overall) scoring 15.9 FPts/G. His record was 11-5 (.687 win percentage).
Case Keenum is 5-2 (.714 win percentage), averaging 239.3 ypg,
has 11 touchdown passes against five interceptions and is averaging
18.3 FPts/G. Long-term, I understand the desire for Bridgewater
to be the starter, but shoving him in the lineup of a Super Bowl
contender after missing 18 months is foolish and I don’t
think Minnesota’s management team is foolhardy.
5) No one should want to start a wide receiver
from run-heavy Jacksonville.
I would, and did. Sure, the Jaguars are a run-first team, led
by rookie Leonard Fournette, but Blake Bortles has been respectable
of late, averaging 19.9 FPts/G and 37.5 passing attempts since
Week 6. Bortles has actually thrown 30 or more passes in six of
his last eight games. Marqise Lee has been the primary beneficiary
of the “improved” Bortles, seeing almost 10 targets
per game and averaging 10.6 FPts/G. That’s WR2 level. The
Jaguars face Cleveland, Arizona and Indianapolis to finish out
the fantasy regular season and Seattle, Houston and San Francisco
in the fantasy playoffs – a favorable schedule.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.