Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
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: Thomas Casale — October 15, 2013 @ 1:09 am
It was another wild week both in the NFL and for fantasy owners. Here’s a recap of every game in the Tuesday Morning Buzz.
Giants – Bears
The Giants tried to turn back the clock and stop their losing streak by riding the legs of Brandon Jacobs against the Bears. Jacobs ran like it was 2007, rushing for 106 yards and two scores on 22 carries. It wasn’t enough though, as three more Eli Manning interceptions brought the Giants’ record to an astonishing 0-6 on the season. So I think after six games we have figured it out. When Brandon Marshall has a big fantasy game, Alshon Jeffery doesn’t. When Alshon Jeffery has a big fantasy game, Brandon Marshall doesn’t. However, under no circumstances can both receivers have big fantasy performances in the same game. That would just be unacceptable.
Bengals – Bills
Thaddeus Lewis got the start for Buffalo and played well, connecting on 19-of-32 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Then of course he got hurt, because that’s a prerequisite for playing quarterback in Buffalo these days. Andy Dalton finally had a strong fantasy game and it was nice to see A.J. Green reappear in the offense. Green saw 11 targets, catching six balls for 103 yards, which included a beautiful touchdown reception. I’ve been waiting for the Bengals to use Giovani Bernard more in the passing game and they did on Sunday. He caught seven balls for 72 yards and a score. Bernard can be a huge weapon most weeks if Cincinnati uses him like they did against Buffalo.
Rams – Texans
Things went from bad to worse for Houston on Sunday. With their season basically on the line, the Texans got smashed at home by St. Louis. The good news from a fantasy perspective is that Arian Foster still had a big day. Other than that though, there’s very little to be happy about in Houston. The fans cheered when Matt Schaub got hurt. I wonder how hard they were cheering when T.J. Yates threw that pick six? Yates doesn’t look like any kind of upgrade for Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins owners. Zac Stacy got the bulk of the carries for the Rams and ran well against a tough Texans rush defense. He’s an encouraging fantasy play moving forward.
Raiders – Chiefs
The Chiefs scored 24 points their usual way. Despite gaining only 216 yards of offense, Kansas City’s defense scored a touchdown, caused three turnovers and resisted three sacks. Terrelle Pryor has played well this year but he’s still a young quarterback and was just overmatched on Sunday by the nasty Chiefs D. There are rarely a lot of offensive stats from Kansas City games that don’t come from Jamaal Charles, and Sunday was no different.
Panthers – Vikings
The Panthers’ offense finally got going on Sunday. All it took was playing Minnesota, which in my opinion has the worst defense in the NFL. Leslie Frazier is doing one heck of a job there. Cam Newton started running a little bit and had his first really big fantasy game of the season. Once Mike Shula was hired as Carolina’s offensive coordinator, I thought it would hurt Steve Smith the most. He was my 38th-ranked receiver coming into the season. After six games, you see why.
Heath Miller: What knee injury?
Steelers – Jets
The Jets look like one of those teams that have a “one week on/one week off” offense. One week their offense looks good then the next week it can’t get out of its own way. Antonio Brown is turning into a reception monster. He had nine more on Sunday and now has 30 catches on 37 targets in his last three games. I grabbed Heath Miller in two of my leagues a couple of weeks ago. He’s really saving my backside, considering that my starting TE before him was Jared Cook, who is now completely useless.
Eagles – Buccaneers
Nick Foles has looked tremendous in his six quarters of work since Mike Vick went down. It will be interesting to see which way Chip Kelly goes when Vick is healthy enough to play, if Foles continues to put up strong numbers. Fantasy owners should certainly take a shot on Foles and see what happens. Even more shocking is that Riley Cooper had a 100-yard game. I thought I would see the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus skipping down the street together before I saw Cooper have a 100-yard game. I guess if you live long enough, you see everything.
Packers – Ravens
Aaron Rodgers threw for over 300 yards but just one touchdown. Rodgers hasn’t been his usual superstar self so far this season in terms of putting up weekly stud numbers. He has been solid, just not one of the top two QBs, which is what he was drafted as in most leagues. It probably won’t help that Randall Cobb hurt his knee and Eddie Lacy is starting to roll on the ground, but Rodgers can still put up huge numbers against any defense. I thought Ray Rice would be the biggest fantasy bust of the 2013 season. After six games I’ve seen nothing to change my opinion. For all the guff Joe Flacco takes, he’s putting up pretty good numbers on a team that can’t run the ball and has one of the NFL’s worst group of receivers and tight ends. Flacco may not be Drew Brees but he’s playing with a bunch of tomato cans out there.
Lions – Browns
It’s pretty obvious to me now that we need to talk about Brian Hoyer as a possible MVP candidate. Think about it: when Hoyer starts, the Browns can’t lose; when Hoyer doesn’t start, the Browns can’t win. It’s that simple. Seriously though, Brandon Weeden stinks. I don’t want to say the Lions need some receivers, but when Kris Durham has emerged as Matthew Stafford’s second option behind Megatron, that’s not a position of strength on your team. It’s amazing that Stafford had 248 yards passing and four scores when Calvin Johnson is banged up and there isn’t much else for him to throw to in Detroit besides Megatron and Reggie Bush. Oh, and the tight end I kept calling Christian Fauria is really Joseph Fauria.
Titans – Seahawks
Remember when Marshawn Lynch was a bust? Now he’s one of my favorite players in the NFL. The guy always runs hard and he almost always puts up big fantasy numbers to boot. The reason I love Lynch is because on a day where he rushes for only 77 yards, he makes up for it by scoring twice and catching four balls for 78 yards. The guy truly is a beast. Chris Johnson isn’t a beast and I’m getting sick of talking about how he doesn’t do anything, so I’m just going to stop. How about this? When Johnson does do something, I’ll mention it. I’ll talk to you around Christmas.
Jaguars – Broncos
In one of my leagues, I had two receivers in this game. Astonishingly, the guy who put up huge fantasy points plays for Jacksonville. Justin Blackmon saw an insane 20 targets, catching 14 of them for 190 yards. On the other hand, Demaryius Thomas has been a bit of a disappointment. I don’t understand why Peyton Manning doesn’t just throw it up to him when Thomas has single coverage. The guy is a monster and can’t be covered. Instead, Julius Thomas now has more fantasy value. I get spreading the ball around, but in my opinion you still need to feed your stud. Oh, and as I predicted a few weeks ago, the committee in Denver is dead. It’s now Knowshon Moreno and the two other guys.
Cardinals – 49ers
In case you were wondering, the Cardinals are far and away the worst team in the NFL when it comes to covering the tight end. Just look at the numbers Jared Cook, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olson and Vernon Davis put up against Arizona. If you have a TE playing against the Cardinals, expect a huge game from him. Andre Ellington once again vastly outplayed Rashard Mendenhall. Ellington racked up 92 total yards and a touchdown on 12 touches. He needs to start getting around 20 touches a game, regardless of how much he weighs. Carson Palmer is an upgrade over John Skelton. That’s the nicest thing I could think to say about Carson Palmer.
Saints – Patriots
I missed the last couple of minutes of this game. Did anything exciting happen? I thought we might see an old-fashioned shootout between Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but instead both quarterbacks did a lot of handing off and throwing short passes. I know Brady threw the ball 43 times, but 10 of those attempts came in the Patriots’ final couple of possessions. New England ran the ball 35 times in this game, and the Saints 26 times. It takes those two teams a couple of weeks to run the ball that much sometimes. In the end though, the Saints gave Brady too many chances and he made them pay with a perfect pass to beat them. That was after Brees threw a perfect pass to Kenny Stills to give the Saints the lead. That’s why I didn’t want to see so many handoffs in this game. Watching Brady and Brees throw the ball is fun to watch. Oh yeah, I own Brady in one of my leagues, so there’s that too.
Redskins – Cowboys
This game featured two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, so obviously it didn’t produce one noteworthy fantasy player. Two things came out of this game for fantasy owners: the injury to DeMarco Murray, who hurts himself blowing his nose, and the fact that Robert Griffin simply isn’t the same. Griffin’s throws are all over the place and he’s sitting in the pocket way too long. It will be interesting to see where the Redskins go from here. I mean other than nowhere. The NFC East is like a tree that falls in the woods. If a team wins this division, does anyone really care?
Colts – Chargers
Wow, first Riley Cooper has a 100-yard receiving day and then Ryan Mathews goes over 100 yards rushing in the same week. Did anyone check to see if the world is supposed to end? Keenan Allen looks like the real deal. Luckily I got him in one of my leagues. I may have to start him over Demaryius Thomas soon. Hey, one guy gets 12 targets a game and the other is being used as a decoy. Ah, I don’t have the marbles. I feel like Danny Woodhead did nothing and at the end of the game he still scored 12 fantasy points in PPR leagues. In all seriousness, if you were drafting over in a PPR league would you take Woodhead or Trent Richardson first? If you said Richardson I would love to see if you said it with a straight face.
By: Doug Orth — October 14, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
Nick Foles is making his case to be the Eagles starting quarterback.
At the beginning of the week, Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly left open the possibility that Nick Foles could supplant Michael Vick as the starting quarterback. While Foles didn’t go 100-for-100 with 27 touchdown passes as Kelly stated in his press conference, the rookie coach was probably quite pleased with his backup signal-caller, who went 22-for-31 for 296 yards and four total touchdowns (including a rushing score).
With Foles in fine form, receiver Riley Cooper exploded for a career-high 120 yards, receiver DeSean Jackson scored twice and running back LeSean McCoy added 171 total yards against a respectable Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Vick told reporters on Saturday that “it’s going to be a long road” back to health from the hamstring injury that forced him out of the game in Week 5.
The Q: Should Foles stay as starter?
While it seems unlikely Vick will lose his job, Foles could make it interesting with a similar effort in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Other Week 6 fantasy highlights:
– Owners need to recognize that although Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton cannot be special every week, he is more than capable of performing at an elite level – especially when he has a favorable matchup. The third-year signal-caller did most of his damage over the first three quarters against a listless Minnesota Vikings defense, throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns while adding 30 yards and another score on the ground.
– A couple of players likely drawing the ire of their owners entering Week 6 finally came through in a big way. With running mate Mike Williams out due to a hamstring, Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson (nine catches, 114 yards and two scores) shredded a leaky Eagles’ secondary. Similarly, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (nine receptions, 97 yards and a TD) tore apart a Carolina Panthers defense that entered the game giving up the second-fewest points per game to the position. Regardless, after two interceptions from quarterback Matt Cassel, Minnesota fans are probably counting the minutes until Josh Freeman is named the starter.
– To steal a tired old line, Houston … we do have a problem. Fantasy owners will probably take no issue with the bottom lines of running back Arian Foster (198 total yards) and wide receiver Andre Johnson (seven catches, 88 yards), but the Texans have become a turnover machine. Backup T.J. Yates took over for injured quarterback Matt Schaub in the third quarter and picked up where he left off, throwing two interceptions. The first of those miscues led to the fifth straight game the Texans have seen an interception returned for a touchdown against them.
– Unlike Houston, the Green Bay Packers overcame adversity on their way to a victory over the Baltimore Ravens, but it may have come at a steep price. Wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb were lost to knee injuries, with Cobb potentially suffering the more serious of the two. WR Jordy Nelson (four catches, 113 yards and a TD) predictably excelled in their absence, but owners in need of receiving help may need to get waiver claims ready for Jarrett Boykin – the Packers’ fourth receiver – this week.
– Speaking of potential impact fantasy free agents, two Detroit Lions also figure to be hot commodities. Undrafted rookie free agent tight end Joseph Fauria turned all three of his catches into touchdowns while receiver Kris Durham added eight receptions for 83 yards as Calvin Johnson (three catches, 25 yards) continued to be limited by the knee injury that caused him to miss Week 5. QB Matthew Stafford – also Durham’s college teammate – lit up a very good Cleveland Browns defense for 248 yards and four touchdowns.
– Taking advantage of an injured Buffalo Bills secondary, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (337 yards passing and three touchdowns) and receiver A.J. Green (six catches, 103 yards and a score) found their connection after a rough patch. Giovani Bernard (100 total yards and a receiving TD) gave his owners a worthwhile fantasy day, but fellow running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (86 rushing yards) outgained him on the ground for the second straight week, likely further delaying the rookie’s possible ascension to a feature-back role.
– Most will remember St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (117 passing yards and three touchdowns) for the dreadful performance he posted on a Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, but he has thrown for three scores in three of his six games this season. Bradford still has the feel of a matchup-based quarterback in fantasy and some difficult defenses ahead of him, but he is showing he can deliver when the Rams give him some time in the pocket.
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: Thomas Casale — October 8, 2013 @ 9:57 am
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It was another wild week both in the NFL and for fantasy owners. Here’s a recap of every game in the Tuesday Morning Buzz.
Bills – Browns
Brian Hoyer vs. EJ Manuel isn’t exactly the epitome of upper-echelon quarterback play in the NFL. No offense to either guy. They’re both still young, inexperienced quarterbacks but it’s not like we’re tuning in expecting to see Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Still, once we get down to Brandon Weeden and Jeff Tuel, you realize just how much we miss Hoyer and Manuel. Somehow, there were 61 points scored in this game. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller should come into games injured more often. They combined for 119 yards and three scores after both were questionable to play in the game. Willis McGahee ran for 72 yards and a score on 26 carries. That will be his normal stat line, but you know what? It’s about the same production Trent Richardson was putting up in Cleveland. Plus, the Browns are 3-0 and got a first-round pick since trading Richardson away. I guess Cleveland knew what they were doing all along.
Jaguars – Rams
In a stunner, this game produced 54 points and some strong fantasy numbers. Justin Blackmon made an impressive return from suspension, catching five passes for 136 yards and a score. Blackmon and Cecil Shorts would actually make a formidable receiving duo if Jacksonville could ever get consistent quarterback play. Good luck with that. Austin Pettis is turning into a decent fantasy option in the Rams’ three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. Zac Stacy got the start and rushed for 78 yards on 14 carries against Jacksonville’s Swiss cheese defense. He’s worth picking up this week, but keep your expectations under control. The Rams’ offensive line still can’t block anyone.
Chris Johnson finally found the endzone but the feud isn’t over.
Chiefs – Titans
Jamaal Charles continues to show why he was worthy of a top 3 pick in PPR leagues. Charles topped 100 yards rushing and added five receptions. Charles has always been a good fantasy player, but the addition of noodle-armed quarterback Alex Smith is a perfect storm. Chris Johnson still can’t run the ball but he made the fantasy owners he hates so much happy by catching four passes for 63 yards and a score. Maybe this feud is over? Probably not, considering that he rushed for less than 2.0 yards per carry again.
Eagles – Giants
This game was to determine which team’s season is over. It’s the Giants. Say goodnight. Despite being the second worst team in the NFL, the Giants produced two receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle that had big fantasy days. All told, Nicks, Randle and Victor Cruz saw a combined 37 targets. Expect that to continue because New York’s defense is absolute trash and Eli Manning will have to throw the ball a lot. That is, unless you think Brandon Jacobs has any reason to be on an NFL roster. The big news from this game was the injury to Mike Vick. Nick Foles played well in Vick’s absence, tossing 197 yards and two touchdowns. Vick is expected to be out at least this week against Tampa Bay, so Foles will get to show what he can do.
Saints – Bears
Alshon Jeffery continues to dominate just like I predicted he would this year. God, I should be a fantasy football writer. I thought Jeffery and Brandon Marshall would form one of the top receiving duos in the NFL this year. Now we just need Marshall to do his part. Pierre Thomas took over the Darren Sproles role on Sunday, catching nine passes for 55 yards and two scores. The Bears put up a ton of offense but only scored 18 points. If the Saints can get those results all year, they’ll be tough to beat.
Ravens – Dolphins
John Harbaugh said he was going to recommit to Ray Rice and the running game and he kept his promise. Rice carried the ball 27 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while Bernard Pierce went back to his backup role with 11 carries for 46 yards. Mike Wallace is having an interesting season. He either goes over 100 yards or is non-existent. Luckily for Wallace owners, this was one of his good weeks. Lamar Miller got his usual seven carries. Unfortunately, this week they only went for 15 yards. It’s hard to always turn fewer than 10 carries into 60 yards and a score.
Seahawks – Colts
This was an entraining game, with the Colts proving they’re serious contenders after beating San Francisco and now Seattle. Trent Richardson produced his usual 56 yards on 18 carries. I guess you can’t blame Richardson considering he plays in Cleveland. Oh, wait… T. Y. Hilton finally exploded, with Richard Sherman shadowing Reggie Wayne. Hilton caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Hopefully this will be a springboard game for Hilton, because he can be a difference maker every week for the Colts. Donald Brown looked better running the ball than Richardson again. It must be because Richardson plays in Cleveland. Oh, wait.
Lions – Packers
I traded for Aaron Rodgers last week. He rewarded me with an average game like I knew he would. I thought Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin would each have a role in the Packers’ offense, so I was wrong all the way around about Green Bay. Although, if you’re a rookie running back and keep fumbling, we can cross you off the list. Franklin is all done unless Lacy gets hurt again. I guess we found out just how important Calvin Johnson is to Detroit’s offense. Without him the Lions couldn’t do anything. The Packers’ defense focused on taking away Reggie Bush and didn’t have to worry about Detroit’s other receivers because most of them shouldn’t even be on an NFL roster.
Patriots – Bengals
The Bengals’ defense dominated New England, holding the Patriots to just 248 yards of total offense. Danny Amendola returned but looked rusty. He struggled with drops and just didn’t look 100 percent healthy. Amendola’s production will increase in the coming weeks, but saying he’s another Wes Welker is a slap in the face to Welker. One week after looking like he was going to start getting more touches, Giovani Bernard saw 13 carries to BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s 19. Good luck figuring that mess out from week to week. I’m giving up.
Panthers – Cardinals
This game was on the same time as Denver/Dallas, so my guess is most people didn’t watch a single play. I had it on another TV and I didn’t watch many plays either. We already know Mike Shula has ruined the Panthers’ offense, so why do I need to watch it? The one pleasant surprise in Carolina has been Ted Ginn. He isn’t seeing a ton of targets but Ginn is making the most of them. Then again, why would a speed receiver see a lot of targets in Shula’s offense? Andre Ellington looks better every week. Rashard Mendenhall continues to look the same: well below average. If I were Arizona’s coach, Ellington would get more touches. Then again, I would be an awful coach.
Broncos – Cowboys
Fantasy football is about statistics and this game was full of them. The fourth highest scoring game in NFL history saw a 500-yard passer, a 400-yard passer, four 100-yard receivers and a total of 12 touchdowns. Heck, there was so much offense in this game that Peyton Manning even scored a rushing touchdown. Terrance Williams had a big game filling in for the injured Miles Austin and caught four passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Williams has now had two strong games in a row, so he will have a role in Dallas’s offense even when Austin returns. I guess the only negative from a fantasy perspective came if you are a Demaryius Thomas owner (like me). In a game with so much offense, Thomas’s 5/57/0 stat line was disappointing. It also cost me a win.
Texans – 49ers
I was going to start this off by writing, “Houston, we have a problem,” but I figured it would be stupid, so I decided against it. Matt Schaub couldn’t throw a pick-six in four straight games if he tried, yet he’s done it. That’s simply amazing. Schaub is struggling to the point where he’s killing the value of every Texan offensive player. However, lost in Shaub’s three-interception meltdown is Colin Kaepernick’s atrocious play. Take away a 64-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Vernon Davis and Kaepernick did nothing. After five games it’s time to start worrying about Kaepernick and the 49ers’ passing game.
Chargers – Raiders
Philip Rivers threw for over 400 yards again with two scores, but this time he added three interceptions as well. The Chargers also had two 100-yard receivers in Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen. San Diego can’t run the ball at all, so Rivers and his receivers will be fantasy gold most weeks. The only negative is that he spreads the ball around, so expect some inconsistency among his receivers. Darren McFadden was inactive. That was shocking considering his high pain tolerance. Given how quickly McFadden recovers from injuries, we should see him back on the field sometime in 2014.
Jets – Falcons
A wild week ended with a wild Monday night game. I like Geno Smith. I think we expect every rookie to be Andrew Luck now but Smith has shown me quite a bit through five games. Has he looked like a rookie at times? Sure, but he’s also shown a lot of positives too. Remember, it’s not like he’s working with the Broncos’ weapons either. The Jets may have finally found their quarterback. I still think it’s comical that the Falcons are letting Roddy White play like this upcoming bye week is some magical place that cures cancer. White is now more injured than he was five weeks ago. As I’ve said many times here, it’s one of the worst mismanagements of an injury that I remember seeing. People keep asking me if they should trade for White. I say no. I don’t think he’ll be 100 percent all year now.
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