Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — November 1, 2013 @ 1:45 pm
Michael Vick’s days in Philadelphia are numbered.
1. In Philadelphia, quarterback Michael Vick’s latest injury could sound the death knell for his career as an Eagle. Less than a quarter into his return from a hamstring injury suffered in Week 5, Vick reinjured his hamstring, proving once again how unreliable he has become during the later stages of his career. He has failed to appear in all 16 games since the 2006 season and has missed 19 games, and parts of several others, over the past four and a half seasons. The odd part of this situation is that Vick’s only hope to return in 2014 depends on how Nick Foles performs over the remainder of the season. If Foles plays well to convince the team’s management that he is their quarterback of the future, then the team could look to bring Vick back in a backup role. However, if Foles struggles, the Eagles will almost certainly look to the 2014 draft to find their future starter.
2. Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon hasn’t had an easy go of it in his rookie season and his job is about to get even tougher with the news that starting wide receiver Mike Williams will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. The Bucs have been without running back Doug Martin since Week 7 and there is no definitive time set for his return. Journeyman Tiquan Underwood, who had a career year in 2012 with 28 receptions for 425 yards and two touchdowns, will replace Williams in the starting lineup. Underwood lost his third receiver role to Kevin Ogletree to open the season but won it back when Ogletree was released. Behind Underwood are four 1st or 2nd year players that have combined to catch 12 career passes. Fortunately, the Bucs appear to have hit on tight end Tim Wright, who figures to see plenty of targets with Williams out. With 181 attempts in Glennon’s first four starts, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan has proven that he isn’t averse to relying heavily on the passing game.
3. Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in Week 7 and was placed on season-ending injury reserve last week. The Colts will look to promising 2nd year player LaVon Brazil, David Reed and Griff Whalen to fill Wayne’s role. With Wayne out, it will mark the first time since late in the 1998 season that Indianapolis will field a lineup without Wayne or his former running mate Marvin Harrison. Not only have the Colts had stability at the all important quarterback position, they have also been blessed to have it at wide receiver.
4. In Carolina, running backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert have had reasonably solid fantasy production over the first seven games of the season with Williams chalking up 588 total yards and one touchdown and Tolbert chipping in 252 yards and five touchdowns. However, look for that to change with the return of Jonathan Stewart to the lineup this week against the Falcons. A return to their respective roles last season seems likely, with Stewart and Williams sharing the early down work and Tolbert subbing in on passing downs and in short yardage situations. This is a situation to avoid unless you are looking for flex options in larger leagues.
5. After racking up a career high 147 targets in 2012, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has just 56 targets thus far in 2013, putting him on pace to finish the season with 112. That would mark his lowest number of targets since the 2006 season and the question has to be asked if Father Time is catching up to the Cowboys 31-year old tight end. Entering his 11th year in the league, Witten has a lot of tread of his tires but a closer look reveals there is a reason for his lack of targets. Running back DeMarco Murray was injured in Week 6 and his absence has allowed opposing defences to focus on Witten. His targets have dropped from an average of 8.6 over the first five games of the season to just 4.3 over the Cowboys last three games. Look for that to change when Murray returns to the lineup, as early as this week, making Witten an excellent buy low opportunity if you are in the market for an upgrade at tight end.
6. Mea culpa. Just six short weeks after ripping the Browns for their decision to jettison running back Trent Richardson from the roster just over a year after making him the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 draft to the Colts for a 2014 1st round pick, we are now likely at the point where we can conclude the Browns knew best. Richardson has been nothing short of ordinary in Indianapolis, failing to top 60 rushing yards in his five games as a Colt while averaging a paltry 3.0 yards per carry. While the Colts clearly hoped that Richardson’s presence would force opposing defences to respect the run, allowing for more single coverage on their receivers, that hasn’t been the case. Given Richardson’s lack of explosiveness, look for him to share the role with impending free agent Donald Brown over the remainder of the season and with Vick Ballard in 2014.
7. Rams rookie running back Zac Stacy has put together an impressive four game run with 75 carries for 344 yards including this Monday night’s impressive 26 carry, 134-yard performance against a stout Seahawks run defense. However, his fantasy upside appears to be limited based on the poor performance of the Rams offensive line in short yardage situations. St. Louis has yet to score a rushing touchdown in their eight games. Not helping matters going forward is that Harvey Dahl, the team’s top guard, suffered a knee strain the Seattle game and will miss several weeks. While Stacy has upside in keeper formats, he is best left as a depth player over the balance of the 2013 season.
By: Dave Stringer — October 29, 2013 @ 9:08 pm
Tom Brady has a 55% completion rate through eight weeks.
Jason Campbell, Browns
After his 293-yard, two-touchdown, no-interception performance against a stout Chiefs secondary, Campbell is worth adding in most formats as your QB2.
Michael Vick, Eagles
While opposing defenders have had a hard time catching Vick, it appears that Father Time isn’t having that same problem. After three weeks of resting his injured hamstring, Vick lasted just three series before re-injuring it.
Tom Brady, Patriots
Another dud. Another Moving Down. There is no way that anybody should feel compelled to start him, provided they have a decent alternative. It’s called changing with the times, folks.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals
Don’t believe Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians when he says Rashard Mendenhall will get his job back when he returns to the lineup. Ellington has been flat-out the better of the two this season, averaging a nifty 7.7 yards per carry. Sure, he had an 80-yard touchdown run this week, but even with that play removed, he would still be at 6.0 yards per carry. And he also chips in as a receiver, with 22 receptions for 198 yards and a score on the year. He rates as a solid flex play or high-end RB3 over the balance of the season.
Frank Gore, 49ers
With a depleted and largely ineffective group of wide receivers, the 49ers have turned to Gore and the running game. End result: five straight wins. Let’s assume they won’t change their MO on offense. Gore has been a beast during the winning streak with 516 total yards and six touchdowns. After a Week 9 bye, the 49ers face a stingy Panthers run defense, but they follow that up with some plum matchups the rest of the way.
Darren McFadden, Raiders
Was it just a blip or is McFadden ready to reward his believers over the second half of the season? Pick your answer. He was effective this week against the Steelers with 73 yards and a pair of scores on 24 carries as the Raiders never trailed. Just remember, that doesn’t happen often and it definitely impacts his touches.
James Starks, Packers
Starks looked good this week, running for 57 yards and a score on seven carries and continuing his strong performance thus far in 2013. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed him once again, as has the presence of rookie Eddie Lacy. We all know about Lacy’s injury history, however, and Starks is now up to 244 rushing yards and a pair of scores on just 41 carries while averaging 6.0 yards a pop.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
With the Eagles having problems at quarterback, McCoy’s production has suffered. He hasn’t found the end zone in three games and has produced just 81 and 65 total yards in his last two games. The upcoming schedule isn’t horrible but the quarterback play in Philadelphia just might be if rookie fourth-round pick Matt Barkley has to start until either Vick (hamstring) or Nick Foles (concussion) is ready.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
His stat line this week was decent (14 carries for 79 yards and a score) but Ridley shared the load with Brandon Bolden (10 touches) and LeGarrette Blount (11). Bolden figures to lose his role when the Pats go no-huddle once Shane Vereen returns. Vereen also figures to cut into Ridley’s time in the base offense.
Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
Done as a starter and not active on game day due to a toe injury. The Cards have almost certainly moved on and so should you.
Marvin Jones, Bengals
Who else? After his eight-reception, 122-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Jets, Jones gets the nod. He is likely available in several leagues and it is becoming increasingly clear that he is the Bengals’ favored choice to start opposite A.J. Green, rather than fellow second-year player Mohamed Sanu. Jones has good speed and decent size and he is looking like the long-term starter in Cincinnati.
Calvin Johnson, Lions
Based on the games he has played (he missed one), Johnson is on pace to finish the season with 1,759 yards and 15 touchdowns, which would give him 265 fantasy points at season’s end—40 more than he had last season. If some bottom feeder in your keeper league is willing to let him go, you need to be asking what the price will be.
Kenny Stills, Saints
Marques Colston looks like a shell of his former shelf, Lance Moore just returned from injury, Robert Meachem has always been hit-and-miss, and Jimmy Graham is on a limited snap count. That means Stills just might be Drew Brees’ favored target over the balance of the season. The Saints average 14.2 yards per pass attempt on Stills’ targets and he has taken three of his 23 looks to the house. That warrants a bigger role in the offense.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys
If you didn’t already know it, all you had to do was see Williams 60-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a slant pattern this week to know that he is the real deal. The rookie third-round pick has touchdowns in four consecutive games and there is little reason to think that Miles Austin is going to eat into his targets, even if he gets healthy from the hamstring that kept him out this week.
Drew Davis, Falcons
Meet the Falcons’ new No. 2 receiver. And that means something when Harry Douglas is No. 1 (no, I’m not totally buying into Douglas’s impressive two-game run). Davis had five receptions for 77 yards and a score this week and should prove useful, at least until Roddy White returns. Whenever that is.
Aaron Dobson, Patriots
I told you Dobson, not Kenbrell Thompkins, was the Patriots’ rookie wide receiver to have. Dobson has more targets than Thompkins in the last three games with Thompkins getting just one look this week.
Marques Colston, Saints
I don’t know if he’s injured or on a steep, downhill slide into oblivion, but Colston has just six receptions for 44 yards in his last three games. At this point, he isn’t even startable in 12-team leagues that start three WRs.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles
Anybody who went into the season hoping to ride the Chip Kelly fantasy wave to a championship has had their team crash over the last couple of weeks (yours truly included). Jackson caught eight balls for 63 yards this week after his three-reception, 21-yard performance a week ago. However, he is most effective when Michael Vick is under center, and his performance figures to take a big hit if rookie Matt Barkley is forced to start this week.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks
Hurt. Again. Ineffective. Again. Take away the game where he beat up on the Jaguars and Rice has been abysmal this season. Again.
Sorry, folks, nothing exciting at TE this week, so nobody gets the Moving Up treatment.
Garrett Graham, Texans
Based on his performance in a limited role in the Texans’ first four games (12 rec for 126 yds and 3 TDs), it seemed like Graham would be a solid replacement for the injured Owen Daniels. Not so much. In Houston’s last three games, Graham has hauled in just eight of his 17 targets for 78 yards with no touchdowns.
By: Dave Stringer — October 25, 2013 @ 2:00 pm
A trade of Josh Gordon is unlikely.
1. Usually when there is smoke, there is fire but that may not be the case with the constant trade rumors flying around Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon has been on a tear since returning from a two-game suspension, catching 27 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns over the last five weeks. In essence, he has played so well that he has made it nearly impossible for Cleveland to move him. A 2nd round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft, Gordon has elite physical skills that are not matched by his level of maturity. With two strikes against him in the league’s substance abuse program, another failed test will likely result in a year long suspension. That makes it unlikely that another team will offer the Browns a 1st or 2nd round pick to acquire his services although his upside and recent production compel Cleveland to hold onto him unless they receive such an offer. Add it all up and the odds are strong that fantasy leaguers can go ahead and assume he will remain in Cleveland for the duration of the 2013 season.
2. Sticking in the AFC North, Bengals third-year quarterback Andy Dalton is on the most impressive run of his young career with 709 passing yards and six touchdowns over the past two games. Long criticized for his inability to consistently connect on deep passes, Dalton connected with A.J. Green for an 82-yard catch and run touchdown this week and is averaging a career-high 7.7 yards per attempt which ranks 10th in the league. With a surrounding cast of young skilled position players, Dalton’s stock in keeper leagues is on the upswing.
3. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is currently ranked 3rd in FPts/G but his owners have to be asking themselves when the carnage around him starts to affect his production. With Randall Cobb on short term injured reserve, James Jones likely to miss his second consecutive game due to a knee injury and tight end Jermichael Finley out indefinitely with a bruised spinal cord suffered on a frightening looking play this week, Rodgers no longer has the weapons at his disposal that he is accustomed to having. With Jarrett Boykin (nine career receptions) starting at wide receiver and Andrew Quarless (28 career receptions) subbing in for Finley, Rodgers could be in line for a number of sub-300 yard passing games. His owners will have to hope that he pads his fantasy production with touchdown passes and in the ground game.
4. Jets quarterback Geno Smith has been surprisingly productive in his rookie campaign, throwing for 1,723 yards with eight passing touchdowns and two rushing scores over the first seven games of his career. He has topped 200 passing yards in every game but one (he had 199 yards against the Falcons) and has thrown touchdown passes in five of seven games. While those numbers aren’t earth shattering, they are impressive especially considering that he has been without the team’s leading receiver in Santonio Holmes and fellow wide receiver Stephen Hill has been slowed due to a concussion. Hill, second-year player Jeremy Kerley and Bills castoff David Nelson have lead a no name group of receivers and that may continue for the foreseeable future with Holmes stating this week that he had no idea when he would return to the lineup. Hill and Kerley rate as sneaky additions if you are looking for fill ins at the wide receiver position in larger leagues.
5. Brett Favre to the Rams tells you all you need to know about Kellen Clemen’s viability as St. Louis’ starting quarterback over the balance of the season. Outside of running back Zac Stacy, who rates as no better than a flex play or bye week fill in, the Rams don’t have a single player that should see the starting lineup of a 12-team fantasy league.
6. Watching Thursday night’s Panthers-Bucs game, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that Carolina has done a very poor job of managing their salary cap. Despite having DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart locked up on lucrative long-term deals, the Panthers signed Mike Tolbert to a multi-year contract prior to the 2012 season. While that is an impressive array of talent at the running back position, the salary cap space used to acquire it could have been better spent at the wide receiver position where an aging Steve Smith starts alongside Brandon LaFell with Ted Ginn Jr. in reserve. With Smith in his 13th season and averaging a very pedestrian 10.5 yard per reception, Carolina must replenish their wide receiver depth chart or else they risk wasting some of the best years of quarterback Cam Newton’s career. While Newton is clearly a fantasy stud, his upside is limited by the team’s lack of explosive weapons in the passing game.
7. The Lions released backup tight end Tony Scheffler this week, crystallizing their obvious desire to hand that role over to 2013 undrafted rookie free agent Joseph Fauria. Fauria has been a surprise with eight receptions for 81 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 targets. With the team’s wide receivers not named Calvin Johnson having underwhelming performances in 2013 and tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the final year of his rookie contract, Fauria, who has solid size at 6’7” and 255 pounds, could make another move up the depth chart in 2014. Dynasty leaguers might want to use stash him on the back of their roster in the event the disappointing Pettigrew is not re-signed.
By: Dave Stringer — October 23, 2013 @ 1:50 pm
Dalton heading into QB1 territory?
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Is Dalton ready to emerge as a solid QB1? Maybe. Over the past two weeks, he has thrown for 709 yards and six touchdowns with just one interception. Sure, it was against the Bills 22nd ranked pass defense and the Lions 27th ranked unit but the Bengals face five pass defenses ranked 12th or worst over their next eight games.
Josh McCown, Bears
Only if you’re truly desperate.
Tom Brady, Patriots
After passing for at least one touchdown in 52 consecutive games, Brady has now failed to throw for a touchdown in two of his last three games. The return of tight end Rob Gronkowski to the lineup was supposed to help cure what ails the Patriots passing game but that didn’t happen this week. In his last three games, Brady has thrown for 694 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions while completing 51.2% of his passes.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Out for the year.
Brandon Weeden, Browns
The Browns have yet to compile a win in 2013 with Weeden as their starter and he was awful this week against the Packers with just 149 yards and a touchdown on 42 attempts. A trip to the bench will give Jason Campbell the start in Week 8.
Chris Ivory, Jets
Ivory had his most extensive use of the season this week with 34 carries for 104 yards in the Jets overtime win over the Patriots. While the Jets claimed that the game plan was to use Ivory’s hard charging running style against a banged up New England front seven, it’s worth noting that Bilal Powell is becoming an afterthought in the Jets offensive game planning (see below). The upcoming schedule looks rough but Ivory will rate as a decent flex option provided he takes over the starting role, which seems likely.
Mike James, Buccaneers
Meet the Buccaneers new starting running back. That is, unless they sign a veteran off the scrap heap but with a Thursday night game, James gets at least a week to prove that he is Da’ Man. He figures to take over for Doug Martin (see below) and the rookie 2013 6th round pick didn’t look horrible this week against the Falcons with 45 yards on 14 carries.
Roy Helu, Redskins
Reading Helu’s stat line of 11 carries for 41 yards and three touchdowns, you might jump to the conclusion that Alfred Morris was injured this week but that wasn’t the case. It was more a case of the Redskins coming out with a package of plays that Helu plays in and that package being effective against the Bears. That being said, look for the Redskins to continue using Helu in the red zone until opposing defenses figure out how to shut him down.
C.J. Spiller, Bills
With Spiller seemingly ready to handle a full load this week against the Dolphins, he totaled just nine touches to 15 for Fred Jackson. Not good but even worse was what he did with his touches, gaining just seven yards. Spiller is certainly in the running for Fantasy Bust of the Year as he has just 410 total yards, 15 receptions and a single touchdown in seven games. The schedule looks nice but if I’m a Spiller owner, I’m ready to cut bait if I get a decent offer for him.
Trent Richardson, Colts
Two questions. One, why did the Colts trade for Richardson? Two, how is it that Donald Brown isn’t starting? If you watched the Colts-Broncos game this week and came away with the opinion that Richardson is the superior player, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.
Bilal Powell, Jets
Over the past five weeks, Powell’s touches have declined from 29 to 17 to 13 to 12 to just three this week. That looks like a pattern. And it’s a pattern that has killed any fantasy value he had.
Doug Martin, Bucs & Arian Foster, Texans
Foster suffered a hamstring injury but with the Texans on a Week 8 bye, he might not miss any time. That won’t be the case with Martin who went down with a shoulder injury in the Bucs loss to the Falcons and left the stadium with his arm in a sling. He may be out for the year with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
It looks like it is officially a timeshare in Miami. Not what Miller owners were hoping for entering the season.
Harry Douglas, Falcons
Turns out Douglas is better than I gave him credit for. With the Bucs refusing to put Darrelle Revis on him, Douglas had a career day with seven receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Drew Davis had one target and Kevin Cone didn’t get any. Looks like Douglas is the lead man in Atlanta until Roddy White returns.
Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Gets the Moving Up treatment two weeks in a row courtesy of his eight receptions, 103 yards and one touchdown performance this week against the Browns.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts
DHB has been a bit of a flop in his first year in Indianapolis, catching 18 of his 35 targets for 190 yards and a touchdown during his first seven games with the Colts. However, he was solid this week with a four-reception, 44-yard, one-touchdown performance (he also chipped in a 30 yard run) and Reggie Wayne is out for the season with a torn ACL. That sounds like opportunity for the former 1st round pick
Mike Brown, Jaguars
For deep leaguers only. Brown has nine receptions for 169 yards over the past two weeks but there is a decent chance he will lose playing time to Ace Sanders once the rookie returns from a concussion. If you need a bye week filler in large league, you could do worse than Brown.
Victor Cruz, Giants
Opposing defenses seem to have slid their coverage towards Cruz over the last three weeks. He is still getting plenty of targets (24 in those games) but the big plays have dried up as he has put up just 166 yards and failed to find the end zone.
Nate Washington, Titans
Washington appeared on the verge of reclaiming his role as the Titans leading wide receiver after his four-reception, 105-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 4. In the three games since then, he has seven receptions for 107 yards and no touchdowns.
Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Rams
Hey, Kellen Clemens is at quarterback. I’m not even sure he can pile up production in garbage time. Up next are the Seahawks.
Miles Austin, Cowboys
Either Austin’s hamstring is still bothering him or he is being phased out in Dallas. He was targeted just three times this week after being targeted four times in Week 6. He failed to catch a pass in either game and has just 125 receiving yards and no touchdowns in five games this year.
Jordan Reed, Redskins
Reed was lights out this week against the Bears, catching all nine of his targets for 134 yards and a touchdown. The rookie 3rd round pick has a stranglehold on the tight end position and is averaging a very respectable 8.4 FPts/G despite seeing limited action early in the season.
Robert Housler, Cardinals
Housler has been quietly effective over the past two weeks, catching four of his five targets for 32 yards against the 49ers in Week 6 and all seven of his targets this week against the Seahawks for 53 yards. Look for him to be a bigger part of the Cardinals offensive game plan over the next few weeks as head coach Bruce Arians uses him on short and intermediate routes to help slow down opposing pass rushers.
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Since there are no really great options to have Moving Down at tight end this week Olsen gets the nod courtesy of his lack of production over the Panthers last two games (six receptions for 56 yards and no touchdowns) as well as his inability to find the end zone thus far in 2013 (just one touchdown).
By: Dave Stringer — October 18, 2013 @ 3:42 pm
The Texans have more issues than just their quarterback play.
1. Come on, Texans fans. Don’t cheer an injury to your quarterback even if he has been struggling. While Matt Schaub will never be considered an elite quarterback, he has a solid 46-40 record as the Texans starter and led the team to their first .500 season, their first winning season, their first playoff berth, their first division title and their first playoff win. He has played in the Pro Bowl and clearly is the Texans best option to make a playoff run in 2013. There isn’t a franchise passing record that he doesn’t own. Don’t kick a man when he’s down and giving his best effort. This team has more issues than just its play at quarterback.
2. Come on, Jim Irsay. Really? Irsay, the Colts owner who never misses an opportunity to put himself in the spotlight, this week lamented the fact that Indianapolis only won one Super Bowl during Peyton Manning’s illustrious 14-year career as a Colt. Even if Irsay’s comments were fully or partially directed at former president Bill Polian, his decision to air his dirty laundry during the week of Manning’s return to Indianapolis as the Broncos face the Colts was unnecessary and insensitive. And let’s face it, if Irsay weren’t so eager to be front and center so often, he may have been given the benefit of the doubt in this situation. However, that’s the not the case and even if his target was Polian, this was still a classless move.
3. Come on, Brandon Weeden. You’re not Brett Favre or Doug Flutie or any other really athletic quarterback. You’re not athletic enough to flip the ball 25 yards backhanded and high enough to get it over a defensive back. While Weeden’s performance has improved this season, it is these types of plays that will likely convince the Browns to go in another direction in 2014. Dynasty leaguers can safely part ways with Weeden since it seems clear that he will lose his starting role next season.
4. Come on, Jabari Greer. Your team has a chance to win on the road against the Patriots and on the game’s deciding play, you line up too close to the line of scrimmage, then you get caught looking into the backfield and then you miss time your leap, allowing Kenbrell Thompkins to score the game winning touchdown.
5. Come on, Emmanuel Sanders. In the midst of one of the Steelers worst seasons in recent memory with the team at 0-4, Sanders did a flip into the end zone this week during Pittsburgh’s 19-6 win over the game but overmatched Jets. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin promptly voiced his displeasure over Sanders showboating. Hey, when you are a highly touted former 3rd round pick that has taken four years to emerge as a starter and you have scored five touchdowns during your first three and a half years in the league, you take whatever opportunity you can get to bring attention to yourself. The lack of touchdown production and Sanders’ diminished role in the offense with running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Heath Miller returning to full health are reasons to keep him off your fantasy squad.
6. With reports indicating that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play, fantasy owners are anxiously awaiting to see how Tom Brady doles out the targets with his top threat back in the lineup. The team has a trio of solid slot receivers in Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Austin Collie but Amendola’s heavy usage during his time in the line up (27 targets in what amounts to roughly two full games) are a clear indication that the team has big plans for him. Edelman is the team’s second best option out of the slot with Collie getting a pair of targets in his first game action this week. Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and 2nd round pick Aaron Dobson have been target machines (49 and 37 respectively) but one or both of them will likely lose playing time with Gronkowski healthy. While Thompkins has the better numbers currently with 21 receptions for 318 yards and four touchdowns, he has hauled in just 42.8% of his targets while displaying shaky hands. Dobson hasn’t been as explosive with 19 receptions for 230 yards and a touchdown while also suffering several drops. However, he has caught 51.3% of his passes and clearly possesses outstanding speed and plenty of upside. If you want to roll the dice on which rookie produces more down the stretch, Dobson is the bet you want to make.
7. Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy has put together a pair of solid games since his return from a concussion. He had 23 carries in each game, totalling 219 rushing yards but failing to score. He rates as a great buy low, buy now candidate given Green Bay’s injury issues at wide receiver. With Randall Cobb being placed on short term injured reserve and James Jones expected to miss at least this week with a sprained MCL, the Packers are down to Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin as their starting wide receivers with undrafted rookie free agent Myles White just called up from the practice squad. Even if tight end Jermichael Finley assumes some responsibilities at wide receiver, the Packers figure to run the ball plenty until Jones returns to the lineup. That figures to translate into a heavy workload for Lacy and once he starts finding the end zone, his fantasy value will skyrocket.
By: Dave Stringer — October 16, 2013 @ 10:31 am
Josh Freeman, Vikings
Matt Cassel turned into Christian Ponder’s non-identical twin this week against the Panthers so it’s a pretty safe bet that Freeman will be under center for the Vikings once he gets up to speed with the team’s playbook. It could be this week against the Giants.
Nick Foles, Eagles
Subbing in for an injured Michael Vick, Foles was effective against a solid Bucs secondary, throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns. His performance may have planted some seeds of doubt as to whether Vick is immediately inserted into the starting lineup once he returns from an injured hamstring.
Thaddeus Lewis, Bills
For emergency only (216 yards with two touchdown passes this week as well as 17 yards and a score on the ground).
Andrew Luck’s QB1 status is hanging on by a thread.
Andrew Luck, Colts
Last year’s rookie sensation (4,374 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and five scores on the ground) is this year’s fantasy bust. Luck is on pace to finish the season with 3,611 passing yards, 18.6 touchdown passes and 5.3 rushing touchdowns. Over the Colts final 10 games, they face six passing defenses ranked in the top 10.
Brandon Jacobs, Giants
Well, David Wilson is hurt and the coaching staff doesn’t trust Da’Rel Scott (cut twice already this season) and rookie 7th round pick Michael Cox (no carries). Jacobs put up the best performance of any Giants back this season by carrying the rock 22 times for 106 yards and a pair of scores against the Bears. With Eli struggling, look for another 20-touch performance this week against the Vikings. The Giants only face three top 10 rushing defenses over the balance of the season.
Lance Dunbar, Cowboys
Sure, he’s out with a hamstring injury but Dunbar probably rates as the Cowboys top backup running back when he returns to health. With DeMarco Murray out for an unspecified amount of time with a sprained MCL, Dunbar is likely in line for some starts. Unfortunately, the Cowboys tend to rely heavily on the pass when Murray is out and Dunbar will likely split the role with rookie 5th round pick Joseph Randle. The Cowboys face two top 10 rushing defenses the rest of the way.
Joseph Randle, Cowboys
I like Dunbar more but Randle is worth an add. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look like a guy who is ready to be a steady contributor.
Zac Stacy, Rams
Making note of the fact that after splitting the workload last week, Stacy had 20 touches this week against the Texans and Daryl Richardson had just four. While the Rams had a big lead for most of the game and Stacy is better suited to running out the clock, the discrepancy in the workload seems to indicate that Richardson will be relegated to a change of pace and pass receiving role unless Stacy struggles.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Some times players are benched because they have played poorly, some times it is because their backups are better and some times it is a combination of the two. With LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden having done little, it seems Ridley was benched to send him a message (i.e. run hard and don’t fumble). This week, he had his best game of the year with 20 carries for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns. When Shane Vereen comes back, we will get to see if Ridley gets benched because his backup is better. That isn’t the case at the moment.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
As gramma used to say, “Davey, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Let’s apply that to Murray’s injury history. Sometimes, things are predictable.
Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
It is looking more and more like Mendenhall is in a full on timeshare with rookie Andre Ellington. That would be fine if he were finding the end zone on a regular basis but he isn’t with just two touchdowns in six games.
Willis McGahee, Browns
Either McGahee needs some time to round into form or else he’s finished. With 59 carries in four games, he has had enough time to get up to speed but he’s averaging a measly 2.8 yards per carry. At some point, the Browns will see what else they have at the postion.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
Blackmon has been a monster in his first two games of the season, hauling in 19 of his 29 targets for 326 yards and a touchdown. Six weeks into the season, Blackmon is the 45th ranked fantasy wide receiver. Not bad. Cecil Shorts suffered a sprained shoulder (or sprained sternoclavicular joint if you want to be specific) putting him in doubt for this week.
Denarius Moore, Raiders
Moore is a streaky player and he’s currently lighting it up. At least for him. With three touchdowns in his last four games, Moore is chipping in scores on an almost weekly basis despite playing in the Raiders suspect offense. He also has 20 receptions for 356 yards over the last four games, as he makes a run for WR2 status. The schedule shows the Raiders playing five of the league’s top 12 passing defenses and five ranked 20th or worst over the balance of the season. At least you will know when to start him.
Rueben Randle, Giants
Randle proved this week that he isn’t a polished product but he does have three touchdowns over the past two weeks and there are reports the Giants are getting ready to unload Hakeem Nicks, who does not appear to be in their plans for next season (unless he signs a below market contract). It’s also worth noting that Randle has been targeted 41 times this year to 45 for Nicks.
Kris Durham, Lions
With Patrick Edwards having been released and Ryan Broyles averaging two targets a game, Durham is the Lions second receiver behind Calvin Johnson. And his 13 targets this week prove that. It’s also pretty clear that Johnson’s knee is more of an issue than the Lions are letting on. That means Durham’s eight-reception, 83-yard performance this week could be a precursor of his weekly production for the next few games.
Brandon LaFell, Panthers
During his first three years in the league, LaFell has proven to be nothing special. However, he is on a hot streak with 11 receptions for 207 and three touchdowns over his past three games. Carolina faces pass defenses ranked 16th or lower in each of the next three weeks.
Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Well, his performance this week wasn’t anything special with one reception on six targets and a pair of drops. But he did manage to take his reception for 43 yards, the Packers like him and they don’t have many options at the moment with Randall Cobb out for an extended period and James Jones looking doubtful for this week.
Danny Amendola, Patriots
I’ve been calling him Little Danny Amendola since he signed with the Patriots and he keeps on making me look good. This week’s injury for Amendola was a concussion on a play where he was completely rocked. I don’t know if he will play next week but it doesn’t look good and if he does, I can’t tell you what type of injury he will suffer. I just know there’s a good chance it will be something. With Amendola, it’s always something. Remember Gramma’s saying?
Marques Colston, Saints
Colston looks like he is either injured or lost a step. With the Patriots focused on shutting down Jimmy Graham, Colston had a pile of single coverage this week but only finished the day with a single reception for 11 yards. Over the past two weeks, Drew Brees has targeted him just five times and he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1.
Chris Givens, Rams
A breakout candidate after catching 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns during his final 13 games as a rookie in 2012, Givens can’t seem to get on the same page as quarterback Sam Bradford. Possessed with outstanding speed, Givens failed to haul in a long pass that would have resulted in a touchdown this week and how has just four receptions for 36 yards over his past two games. Worse yet, he has caught just 17 of his 38 targets in 2013. At some point, St. Louis will start taking away his playing time in favor of Austin Pettis, Brian Quick or rookie 3rd round pick Stedman Bailey.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
It’s not fair to say that Davis is maddeningly inconsistent because he is a true professional. But it is fair to say that his usage in the 49ers offensive game plans has been maddeningly inconsistent. That might be about to change. With San Francisco’s wide receivers struggling, Davis caught eight passes for 180 yards and a pair of scores giving him 11 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. He has also now scored in three straight contests. Look for Davis to get plenty of targets over the next few weeks.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Lukewarm endorsement. Fine as your TE2 but too touchdown dependent as your TE1. Rudolph set single game career highs in receptions with nine and yards with 97 (his previous high was 67) while matching his career high in targets with 11. He also scored in the Vikings blowout loss so this is clearly a case of garbage time production. If you believe that checkdown artists Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder will remain under center, Rudolph isn’t a bad player to own. If Josh Freeman takes over at quarterback, it’s a different situation.
Joseph Fauria, Lions and Lance Kendricks, Rams
Fauria, an undrafted rookie free agent, took all three of his targets to the house this week, giving him five touchdowns on the season… on seven receptions and nine targets. Kendricks scored this week against the Texans giving him a touchdown in each of his last three games. Chasing touchdowns? Yes. But when the byes hit, that’s not necessarily a bad thing at the tight end position.
Tim Wright, Bucs
First off, at 220 pounds, Wright isn’t your prototypical tight end. However, that is how he is listed and he has caught 12 of his 15 targets for 132 yards over the past two weeks. Mike Williams’ absence helped his cause this week but Wright is a guy to watch over the next few weeks.
Jimmy Graham, Saints
Leading the league (not just tight ends but the entire league) in receiving yards entering the Saints Week 6 matchup against the Patriots, Graham put up a doughnut and suffered a foot injury. With New Orleans on a bye this week, Graham gets an extra week to heal but the blueprint is now out there for teams to slow him down although not all teams have a cornerback with Aqib Talib’s physical characteristics and experience.
By: Dave Stringer — October 12, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
Brandon Jacobs is the Giants lead back until further notice.
1. Entering Thursday night’s game, the Giants backfield was a mess with David Wilson out, Andre Brown not yet eligible to return and Da’Rel Scott recently re-signed. Fantasy owners were left to ponder how the workload would be split amongst Scott, Brandon Jacobs or rookie 7th round pick Michael Cox. After Jacob’s 22 carry, 106-yard, two-touchdown performance, it appears he will carry the load in the Giants backfield at least until Brown returns to the lineup. Cox failed to register a carry, Scott totalled just five touches and ESPN has reported that Wilson will be out several weeks with a neck injury. Add it all up and Jacobs should be a hot waiver wire prospect entering Week 7 games. While he may not be useful in the fantasy playoffs, he could be a key add to help get you there.
2. In Buffalo, Jeff Tuel’s performance in relief of EJ Manuel was so underwhelming the Bills added Thaddeus Lewis to the active roster and plan to start him this week against the Bengals. With Steve Johnson questionable with a back injury that has kept him out of practice, Lewis could be left to operate with rookie 2nd round pick Roberts Woods and 2nd year player T.J. Graham as his starting wide receivers. Even if Johnson is a go, he shouldn’t be in your starting lineup and neither should Woods or Graham. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller (notice who is listed first?) should see plenty of touches until Manuel returns to the lineup.
3. Despite all of the speculation that Texans quarterback Matt Schaub will be benched as a result of his subpar play and Houston’s 2-3 record to open the season, don’t look for him to be removed from the starting lineup anytime soon. The Texans are just two games behind the division-leading Colts who have a 4-1 record and backup T.J. Yates is lacks the experience necessary to lead the Texans deep into the playoffs, which was the organization’s expectation entering the 2013 season. Andre Johnson owners can rest easy that he won’t be receiving passes from Yates even though his current FPts/G average of just 8.1 is not exactly what they were hoping for.
4. Sticking with struggling quarterbacks, it is only a matter of time before the Vikings’ Christian Ponder officially loses his job in the starting lineup. His rib injury forced Matt Cassel into the starter’s role in Week 4 and Cassel produced a win against the Steelers that will earn him another start this week against the Panthers (the Vikings were on a bye in Week 5). The bigger issue for Ponder is Minnesota’s decision to sign Bucs cast off Josh Freeman. Simply put, Freeman is a better fit in the Vikings offense than Ponder. Ponder has struggled as a downfield thrower and has a tendency to check the ball down while Freeman has a strong arm and is not afraid to take shots down the field. When a team has a dynamic threat at running back like Adrian Peterson, they need to have a quarterback that can hit on play action in order to maximize the value of having a player of Peterson’s ilk.
5. In Washington, the Redskins have an interesting backfield dilemma. Alfred Morris helped lead the team to the playoffs last season with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns season but has just 56 touches during the Redskins 1-3 start to the season. Meanwhile, Helu has looked explosive and is averaging 6.5 yards per touch on 21 touches. The team wants to get both players more involved, particularly with quarterback Robert Griffin III struggling in his sophomore season. Expect the Helu hype to die down soon enough with the Redskins leaning heavily on Morris over the balance of the season.
6. Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin has returned to full practice after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. While he should be available for this week’s matchup against the Redskins, the issue is how much playing time he will receive. Rookie 3rd round pick Terrance Williams has played well subbing in for Austin with 11 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks. Look for Austin to be eased back into the lineup, making Williams a decent bye week fill in this week. Looking down the road, it is fair to wonder if the Cowboys will jettison Austin after the season due to his $5.5-million 2014 salary coupled with the emergence of Williams.
7. With the Browns benching Greg Little in favor of slot receiver Davone Bess in the starting lineup, some fantasy owners rushed to the wire to grab Bess. Not so fast. Bess has just 12 touchdowns in 82 career games and just one over his last 20 games. He rates as no better than an upper end WR5 in 12 team leagues and there are no guarantees he will remain in the starting lineup.
8. If you are looking for a buy low candidate at running back, consider the Patriots Shane Vereen. Vereen suffered a broken wrist in Week 1 after putting up 101 yards on 14 carries and 58 yards on seven receptions and is eligible to return for New England’s Week 11 game against the Panthers. If you feel safe that a playoff spot is in order, he is a great target to stash on the end of your bench. Of the trio of Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, none have secured the starting position with Ridley struggling badly after posting a career year in 2012 with 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. With the reduction in talent amongst the team’s group of receivers, Vereen, easily the best pass catching running back on the roster, is clearly the best fit at running back in the New England offense.
By: Dave Stringer — October 11, 2013 @ 1:50 pm
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The Atlanta Falcons have announced that wide receiver Julio Jones will be placed on season ending injured reserve due to an injury to his right foot.
Fantasy owners will struggle to replace Julio’s production.
Jones suffered the injury during the Falcons 30-28 loss to the New York Jets on Monday night. Jones limped off the field in the 4th quarter before returning to the field to finish the game.
With Roddy White having suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason, Jones leads the Falcons with 41 receptions for 580 yards and two touchdowns during their disappointing 1-4 start to the season. White suffered a hamstring injury this week, clouding his availability for the next several weeks and leaving the Falcons with a shortage of wide receivers on their roster.
Former Cleveland Browns 2nd round pick Brian Robiskie, the son of Falcons of wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, was signed to take Jones’ spot on the Falcons roster.
In addition, slot receiver Harry Douglas as well as Kevin Cone and Drew Davis, a pair of second-year former undrafted free agents, will attempt to fill the hole left by Jones’ injury.
There are several veteran free agents that remain unsigned and there is a strong possibility the Falcons will sign one of them over the next week.
The loss of Jones’ is a huge one to the Falcons offense. In his third season, he had developed into the team’s most explosive playmaker on offense and his solid speed opened up space for the team’s other receivers as well as in the running game.
Fantasy owners who had enjoyed watching Jones put together a solid start to the season now have a huge void to fill in their starting line-up. While grabbing Douglas off the waiver wire is a knee jerk reaction, the fact is that Douglas has done little to justify a conclusion that he can even come close to replacing Jones’ production.
While Douglas has put together the odd big game, including a four-reception, 93-yard performance in Week 1, he has never topped 500 receiving yards during his first four years in the league. At 6’0” and 183 pounds, he is not suited to line up outside and is best used in the slot. Look for his targets to go up and he likely becomes a decent WR3 simply based on volume.
Cone and Davis are virtual unknowns. Both have decent size and if you had to gamble on one of them, Cone appears to the favorite, if only because he hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass this week.
Jones’ owners may want to see if they sign a veteran such as Brandon Lloyd to bolster the position. Alternatively, buying low on White and waiting for him to regain full health is another option.
Another big fantasy loser is quarterback Matt Ryan, who goes from having a trio of Pro Bowl quality receivers in Jones, White and tight end Tony Gonzalez, to a cast of question marks. Until White returns to the lineup (reports have indicated he could miss several weeks), Ryan no longer rates as a QB1 until he proves he can produce with the loss of talent surrounding him.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez sees his fantasy value increase as he comes off a pair of solid outings after a disappointing start to the season. The 17 year veteran has 22 receptions for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 28 targets over his past two games. He rates as a top five tight end over the balance of the season.
At running back, the Falcons will almost certainly lean heavily on Steven Jackson when he returns to the lineup. With the Falcons one a bye in Week 6, SJax could return to the lineup for the Falcons Week 7 home game against the Buccaneers. In his only full game of the season, Jackson produced 122 yards on 16 touches. If he can remain healthy, Jackson rates as a mid to upper tier RB2 over the remainder of the season.
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