Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
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
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.
By: Dave Stringer — October 9, 2013 @ 12:14 am
Tony Romo, Cowboys
Killer fourth-quarter interceptions don’t usually kill your fantasy squad, and a quarterback is in rarified air when they throw for over 500 yards, so Romo is Moving Up this week. He torched a banged-up Broncos secondary for 506 yards and five touchdowns before tossing the game away with a late interception. While he played well during the first four weeks of the season, this marked his first 300-plus-yard game, and here is hoping head coach Jason Garrett has figured out that the Cowboys’ path to prosperity is through the air.
Brady needs Gronkowski and Amendola healthy in a big way.
Tom Brady, Patriots
Sure, the weather was awful, but… Brady’s streak of throwing for at least one touchdown pass came to an end at 52 games as the Patriots were held out of the end zone against the Bengals. The streak ended two games shy of Drew Brees’ record of 54. Of more concern for Brady owners is that he is on pace to finish the season with less than 3,900 passing yards and just 22 touchdown passes. At this point, with 17.7 PPG, he rates as the 27th-ranked quarterback.
Christian Ponder, Vikings
If Matt Cassel’s solid performance in a Week 4 win over the Steelers wasn’t enough, Ponder had to endure the Vikings signing Bucs castoff Josh Freeman this week. Teams always sign third-stringers for $3 million to sit on the bench.
Eddie Lacy, Packers
Back from a concussion suffered in Week 2, Lacy piled up 99 yards on 23 carries but couldn’t find the end zone. With James Starks out, fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin had just three carries as the coaching staff ignored him due to his late-game fumble against the Bengals in Week 3. Lacy rates as a low-end RB2, at least as long as he stays healthy.
Zac Stacy, Rams
Meet the Rams’ new starting running back. At least he was for Week 5. The rookie fifth-round pick proved serviceable with 14 carries for 78 yards, but it’s worth noting that he split the role with Daryl Richardson. Stacy appears to be the better option given his size and the likelihood that he will get the goal-line carries. Just remember that the Rams’ pathetic rushing attack isn’t going to improve by leaps and bounds overnight.
Willis McGahee, Browns
The Browns’ backfield working order was set this week with McGahee getting 26 touches, Bobby Rainey two, and Chris Ogbonnaya none. While McGahee did little with his rushing attempts, gaining just 72 yards, he did find the end zone. This is clearly a volume play since McGahee has shown little explosion thus far in 2013, averaging a very underwhelming 2.6 yards per carry.
David Wilson, Giants
So much for the coming-out party. Wilson is well on his way to becoming a fantasy bust in 2013 and failing to live up to all of the offseason and preseason hype he received. He went out early while playing a soft Eagles run defense after managing just 16 yards on six carries with a touchdown that helped pad his fantasy stats. Touted for his big-play ability, Wilson is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry behind an aging and ineffective Giants offensive line.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Another breakout candidate that is approaching bust status is Dolphins running back Lamar Miller. While Miller has the look of a quality back when the ball in his hands, he struggled mightily in Week 1 (10 carries for three yards) and again this week (seven carries for 15 yards). Worse yet, he is averaging just 11 touches per game and it is hard to produce with such a low volume of work.
Trent Richardson, Colts
Wow. Maybe the Browns were right. Here are Richardson’s yards per carry in each of his first five games—3.6, 3.2, 2.7, 3.0, and 3.1. The run defenses he has faced are ranked 23rd, 12th, 28th, 31st and 19th. Maybe the legendary Jim Brown was right and he is just average.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys
Subbing in for an injured Miles Austin in Week 4, Williams played surprisingly well, catching seven of his eight targets for 71 yards. However, he was even better this week against the Broncos, going four for four on his targets for 151 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown. We all know Austin’s injury history, so that makes Williams worth owning in 2013—and his dynasty prospects are even better.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears
Truth be told, I thought his five-reception, 107-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 4 against the Lions was a fluke. I was wrong. With the Saints focused on shutting down Brandon Marshall, Jeffery had a career day with ten receptions for 218 yards and a score. After catching just 50 percent of his targets as a rookie in 2012, he is up to 62.2 percent and appears on the verge of establishing himself as a solid WR3 or better.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts
Hey, you get a Moving Up every time you torch Richard Sherman for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns. We can now safely conclude that Hilton is the Colts’ No. 2 receiver and not Darrius Heyward-Bey, who failed to catch any of his six targets this week.
Keenan Allen, Chargers
With Eddie Royal crashing back to earth, you could easily make the case for Allen or Vincent Brown as solid candidates to get the Moving Up treatment. It just so happens that I like Allen’s skill set a lot more than Brown’s, even if he isn’t as experienced. After his 80-yard performance in Week 4 against the Cowboys, Allen caught six of his nine targets this week for 115 yards and a score. It says here that he will emerge as the Chargers’ top wide receiver this season, if he hasn’t already done so.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals
A surprisingly solid WR4 last year, Roberts has quickly become persona non grata in the Cardinals offense this season. After 17 targets through Weeks 1 and 2, Roberts had a pair of one-reception, six-yard performances in Weeks 3 and 4 before going without a reception this week against the Panthers. With just seven targets over the past three weeks, you can safely dump him.
Julian Edelman, Patriots
Danny Amendola returned to the lineup this past week and the expectation is that tight end Rob Gronkowski will return for the Patriots’ Week 6 matchup against the Saints. My hunch is that Gronk’s return sounds the death knell for Edelman’s fantasy prospects. Sell now.
Ryan Broyles, Lions
Even though Calvin Johnson was out of the lineup this week, Broyles was targeted just twice, catching both passes for 27 yards. Meanwhile, Kris Durham had eight targets and Patrick Edwards five. Looks like injuries have caught up to Broyles. He isn’t worth owning in standard-size leagues.
Julius Thomas, Broncos
Thomas posted his second 100-yard receiving performance of the season this week, hauling in nine of his 12 targets for 122 yards and a pair of scores. His last big performance came in Week 1 and, while he was solid in Weeks 2 and 3, his performance this week proves that he is much more than a one-week, game-planned fluke. If you were debating him as a TE1 over the balance of the season, you now know the answer.
Jared Cook, Rams
After posting the best game of his career in Week 1 with 141 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, Cook has faltered, with just 13 receptions for 125 yards over his past four games. Austin Pettis and Brian Quick have taken snaps away from Cook in multiple-receiver sets, and Pettis has become a favorite of Sam Bradford’s in the red zone.
By: Dave Stringer — October 2, 2013 @ 1:00 am
Peyton Manning, Broncos
Stating the obvious? Yes, but sometimes you need to. With four touchdowns and 327 passing yards, Manning was the leading point scorer at QB in Week 4—in three quarters worth of work! He is on pace to finish the season with 5,880 yards and 64 touchdown passes. And the Broncos offense shows no signs of letting up, averaging 41.3 PPG (removing Trindon Holliday’s two returns for touchdowns).
Matt Cassel, Vikings
Cassel was hardly great this week, with 16 completions on 25 attempts for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Vikings won and he showed an ability to make opposing defenses pay for stacking the box. That’s more than can be said for incumbent starter Christian Ponder, and that likely guarantees that Cassel stays in the starting lineup until Minnesota loses. And they can’t lose this week because they are on a bye.
Brian Hoyer, Browns
It’s hard to hold your nose while you type but Hoyer faces passing defenses ranked 28th or lower in four of the next five weeks. With the Browns having won both of his starts, it’s hard to see head coach Rob Chudzinski sitting him down, so don’t believe any signals coming from Cleveland suggesting otherwise.
Joe Flacco, Ravens
How do you throw for 347 yards and a pair of touchdowns and get the Moving Down treatment? Simple, take into account Flacco’s five interceptions, the injuries the Ravens have at the wide receiver and tight end positions, and the absolutely abysmal and incomprehensible game plan that resulted in 54 dropbacks and just nine runs. Let’s make the calculated assumption that the Ravens will start leaning on the run game a lot more beginning in Week 5.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
So much for the notion that the Seahawks would open it up on offense in 2013. Wilson is averaging just 24 pass attempts and 196.8 passing yards per game. Against a solid Texans defense this week, he struggled to complete 12 of his 23 attempts for just 123 yards. Wilson rates as a matchup play until he proves otherwise.
Reggie Bush, Lions
In the two games in which he has been healthy, Bush has accumulated 229 rushing yards, 135 receiving yards and a pair of scores while averaging 7.7 yards per touch. Let’s just say that he has found the perfect fit in Detroit. You can mark it down that if Bush can stay healthy, he will be a top five fantasy RB at season’s end.
That 50-50 workload split between Foster and Tate isn’t happening.
Arian Foster, Texans
Apparently, the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. After three subpar efforts in which he failed to top 100 total yards in any game, Foster went off against a stout Seahawks defense with 102 rushing yards and six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, in a game viewed as a potential Super Bowl preview, backup Ben Tate had just eight touches to Foster’s 33. History has shown that the Texans lean on Foster in big games, and it showed again this week.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
In his first game as a pro, Bell was hardly dynamic with 16 rushes for 57 yards and four receptions for 27 yards. He did find the end zone twice, however, and his backups totaled just five touches. The Steelers follow a Week 5 bye with tough matchups against the Jets (6th-ranked run defense) and Ravens (4th), then with four softies, two more tough ones, and a very reasonable stretch from Weeks 14–16.
Fred Jackson, Bills
Although Jackson suffered a sprained MCL, he has said that he will be a go this week. Meanwhile, C.J. Spiller suffered an ankle injury and will either be kept out or limited during the Bills’ Thursday night matchup against the Browns. Despite playing as a backup, FJax is on pace to finish the season with 1,024 rushing yards, 404 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. That is mid-tier RB2 status, folks.
Doug Martin, Bucs
When the Bucs benched Josh Freeman, I had an inkling that Martin would be Moving Down this week. I just didn’t think it would be this ugly, with Martin managing just 45 yards on 27 carries against the Cardinals.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Playing in quite possibly the worst offense ever, MJD is on pace to finish the season with 552 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and four touchdowns while the Jaguars are averaging less than eight points per game. Ugh!
Daryl Richardson, Rams
If there is one thing that Richardson has proven this year, it’s that he is not a feature back. After one and a half games of subpar play, he was hurt in Week 2 against the Falcons, causing him to miss Week 3. In his return this week against the 49ers, he was abysmal with 16 yards on 12 carries.
Isaiah Pead, Rams
Not just ineffective… Benched. As in stuck behind an ineffective Richardson, rookie fifth-round pick Zac Stacy, and rookie undrafted free agent Bennie Cunningham. It’s been a tough sled for the Rams’ 2012 second-round pick.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots
After struggling somewhat in his first three pro games, Thompkins went off against the Falcons this week with six receptions for 127 yards and a score. Better yet, he had 11 targets to just three for Aaron Dobson, giving some clues as to which receiver will continue to get looks when Rob Gronkowski returns to the lineup.
Greg Jennings, Vikings
With Matt Cassel subbing in for an injured Christian Ponder, Jennings came to life with three receptions for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Jeff Maehl, Eagles
With Riley Cooper struggling, those in deep leagues can keep an eye on this cat (who I know nothing about). All I know is that Cooper can’t get open (8 rec. on 18 targets) and Maehl hauled in both of his targets for 43 yards and a score this week. The Eagles will chuck it, and Cooper has proven that he’s nothing more than a backup.
Austin Pettis, Rams
This is a begrudging Moving Up. Pettis is averaging just under eight targets per game and is getting looks in the red zone with a pair of touchdowns. For whatever reason, Sam Bradford likes throwing it to him, and that counts for something when the Rams running game is struggling as badly as it is.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants
A free agent at season’s end on a team with major salary cap problems in 2014, Nicks is playing his way right out of New York. After his second consecutive dud (3 for 33 against the Chiefs after an 0-fer the previous week), Nicks doesn’t even rank as a top 50 receiver, with just 230 yards and no touchdowns.
Golden Tate & Sidney Rice, Seahawks
Rice needs to score touchdowns to be a useful fantasy option, and that’s something Tate can only dream of in 2013. Both of these players need to be on your bench until they prove otherwise.
Kenny Stills, Saints
After a solid Week 1 performance, Stills has gone stone cold with just five receptions for 48 yards over the Saints’ last three games. That’s not the kind of explosive playmaking they were expecting, and that could have Stills riding the pine in favor of Robert Meachem if he doesn’t get things back on track.
Antonio Gates, Chargers
In another instance of a player’s demise being greatly exaggerated, we present Antonio Gates. Gates shredded the Cowboys linebackers and safeties this week for ten receptions, 136 yards and a score. He remains a strong option in the red zone and is on pace to finish the season with more than 1,400 yards. This one is half about his resurgence (a solid offseason conditioning program) and half about the lack of other options at wide receiver and tight end for quarterback Philip Rivers.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
The most overrated fantasy TE heading into this year’s draft was Rudolph, and he is working hard to prove that pronouncement correct. Rudolph padded his 2012 fantasy point total courtesy of nine touchdowns, but he had just 493 receiving yards. This year, he is on pace to finish with 412 receiving yards and four touchdowns, proving it is foolhardy to chase touchdowns in almost all instances.
By: Dave Stringer — September 28, 2013 @ 9:53 am
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1. With the bye weeks upon us, fantasy owners begin the weekly scramble of finding suitable replacements for their regular starters. In Jacksonville, Cecil Shorts and rookie Ace Sanders figure to be in line for plenty of targets during the Jaguars home game against the Colts. With Justin Blackmon serving the final game of his four-game suspension and Stephen Burton and Mike Brown both likely out, Jacksonville has just two healthy receivers on their roster. In addition, tight end Marcedes Lewis has yet to play this season due to a calf injury and figures to be a game time decision on Sunday. That makes both Shorts and Sanders decent options in leagues that start three wide receivers or use a flex postion.
2. In St. Louis, Isaiah Pead was a healthy scratch for Thursday’s home blowout loss to San Francisco. A 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft, Pead struggled mightily as a rookie losing the backup spot to Steven Jackson to fellow rookie Daryl Richardson. With Jackson having left as a free agent, Pead had a golden opportunity to earn a spot in a committee with the diminutive Richardson but a one-game suspension to start the season didn’t help his cause. Neither did a middling preseason performance or his production last week when he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per reception on 13 touches during the most extensive work of his career. Pead has plummeted down the depth chart behind a pair of rookies in 5th round pick Zac Stacy and undrafted free agent Bennie Cunningham. Unless Pead sat out for disciplinary reasons (none of which were reported), he is well on his way to becoming a bust.
3. Sticking with the Rams, after Thursday night’s performance, it seems safe to conclude that the only standard league fantasy worthy starter they have on offense is tight end Jared Cook. Quarterback Sam Bradford’s play is reminiscent of Alex Smith, as he checks down early and often. With offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer unwilling to take shots down the field, he is effectively neutralizing the speed of the team’s receivers including speed merchants Chris Givens and Tavon Austin. With the running game struggling mightily and Schottenheimer unwilling to help open things up by throwing downfield, Cook is the only Ram you should consider in your starting line-up.
Frank Gore is averaging 11.8 fantasy points per game.
4. Moving to the 49ers, it appears that the buy low tag is now officially off Frank Gore. Three weeks into the season is far too early to give up on your players and Gore owners who have stuck with him were rewarded this week with his 153-yard, one-touchdown performance. The fact is that hanging on to him or buying low shouldn’t have been a tough decision as the 49ers possess a solid running quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, one of the league’s top run blocking offensive lines and little receiving talent outside of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
5. Bucs coach Greg Schiano decided to throw himself a life line this week with his decision to bench starting quarterback Josh Freeman, the team’s 2009 1st round pick, in favor of rookie 3rd round pick Mike Glennon. While Glennon comes from a pro style offense at North Carolina State, he struggled in the preseason, failing to complete 50% of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. If he wasn’t ready then, it is unlikely that he’s ready now. While Freeman was clearly struggling, the decision to bench him is questionable and seems motivated by Schiano’s desire to buy himself more time to prove himself as a solid head coach in Tampa Bay. The Bucs best chance to win this season is with Freeman under center, a player who threw for 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions during his second season in the league in 2010. This move would make sense in a few more weeks, not three weeks into the season. Time will tell if Bucs upper management views this move as a ploy by Schiano to buy himself time or a sincere effort to improve the team. Either way, fantasy owners need to downgrade their expectations for wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as well as running back Doug Martin.
6.After three games, Broncos free agent acquisition Wes Welker is on pace to finish the season with 101 receptions for 1,013 yards and 16 touchdowns. Over the past three years, Welker has averaged 109 receptions for 1,257 yards and 7.3 touchdowns. Patriots free agent acquisition Danny Amendola has missed two games and is on pace to finish the season with 53 receptions for 555 yards and no touchdowns. Over the past three years, Amendola has averaged 51 receptions for 467 yards and two touchdowns. Sometimes what you get is exactly what you should have known you were getting. Sometimes that is good and other times it isn’t. Let’s hope fantasy owners knew what they were getting with Amendola. I’m not so sure the Patriots did.
7. With Christian Ponder out with a broken rib, the Vikings will turn to Matt Cassel at quarterback for this week’s game against the Steelers in London. With a bye in Week 5, a solid performance by Cassel will start the quarterback change rumors flying but fantasy owners shouldn’t get too excited. There have been no indications out of Minnesota that they are ready to demote Ponder and Cassel has proven to be effective only when surrounded by solid weapons.
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