Injuries continue to mount, the virus continues to sideline players
and the bye week schedule make roster depth and being active on
the waiver wire more important than ever. Sure, it may be a grind
to check the injury/Covid-19 list every day up to, and including,
Sunday morning, but this year it’s the necessary commitment
required to winning your fantasy championship.
Cleveland, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered,
the point is to discover them.” Galileo Galilei
1) It is impossible to slot Antonio Brown’s fantasy value
before he gets on the field.
True. There are just too many variables to know what Brown will
be ahead of seeing how Tom
Brady will use him. He joins a team with two very talented
wide receivers in Mike
Evans and injured Chris
Godwin (finger). In truth, however, if it’s the 2013-18 version
of AB, he’s better than both of them. But that was two years ago
and he’s played one game since then. (Of course, that one game
was a 4-56-1 effort after signing with the Patriots in Week 2
of 2019 against Miami). But is he that guy? I simply don’t know
and while I picked up Brown in two leagues I won’t start him,
sight unseen, because Brady already has established two great
red zone targets this season in Evans and Rob
Gronkowski. Targets (averaged 171 per season from 2013-18)
and touchdowns were a huge part of Brown’s elite fantasy value
in Pittsburgh (11.2 TDs) and he won’t get that level of opportunity
in Tampa Bay. If you force to make the call before Week 9, I put
his value as top-24, but not top-12. Somewhere in the Robert
Anderson and Will
2) Gronk is back!
Even if the preseason plan was to ease Gronkowski into the season
and have him ready for the postseason, the injury to tight end
O.J. Howard in Week 4 has changed Gronk’s usage rate. He
averaged 3.5 targets with Howard in the lineup and he’s
averaged 6.5 targets in the four games since the injury. He’s
averaged 22 receiving yards before and 58.3 yards after. Gronkowski
has scored in three consecutive games. The arrival of Antonio Brown may hurt his target level, but his buddy Brady has shown
you over and over, when he needs a touchdown, he knows where to
go and who to target. Gronkowski ranks third at the position (16.7
FPts/G) since Week 6.
3) There should be some concern for Packers’ RB Aaron
Not just Covid-19 concerns, though that should obviously be there,
since Packers’ backup running back A.J. Dillon just tested
positive and fellow back Jamaal Williams will also miss the Week
9 game against Minnesota due to high-risk close contact. Of more
concern is why Jones, supposedly a game-time decision in Week
7 due to a calf issue, is still unlikely to go in Week 9’s
Thursday contest after a limited Monday practice. Jones is once
again a top-five fantasy back averaging 25 FPts/G in 2020, but
when will he return?
4) Tennessee wideout A.J. Brown is vastly underrated.
Perhaps he gets overlooked because his quarterback doesn’t
get the respect he deserves and it leaks to the receiver. But
Tannehill is playing great football this season (ranked 10th at
25 FPts/G) and one of the big reasons he’s been so good
is the play of Brown and teammate Corey Davis. Brown ranks seventh
in average points at the wideout position for the season and fourth
since Week 3 behind only Davante Adams, D.K. Metcalf and teammate
Davis. He’s ahead of Adam Thielen and Julio Jones, but you
would be hard-pressed to find any fantasy owners who would choose
him before that pair of receivers.
5) Multiple big trades weren’t made this season because
of issues other than player performance.
True. Plenty of teams need help and the help was out there (Green
Bay and Houston’s Will Fuller would have been a great fit),
but two primary reasons caused teams to shy away from making big
trades. First, even if you traded for a player at the deadline
(Nov. 3), he probably couldn’t help your team for two weeks.
Covid-19 rules would keep him out of Week 9 and he wouldn’t
get much practice work before the Week 10 game. Secondly, the
2021 cap is expected to take a big hit, so adding high-priced
talent for a high-draft choice is difficult to justify when you
are already likely to have to cut players due to the lower future
“False words are not only evil in themselves, but they
infect the soul with evil.” – Plato
1) T.Y. Hilton’s days as a factor in the fantasy world
False. There was a fleeting moment in Week 5 when we saw Philip Rivers target him 10 times, but that was a game-situation issue
as the Colts fell far behind the Browns (27-10 in the third quarter).
He’s no longer explosive and even if he was, Rivers doesn’t
have the arm to reach him. If you could trade Hilton for anything
of value go ahead and pull the trigger, otherwise, he’s
got to take a seat on your bench.
2) Drew Brees still has arm strength.
Do not be fooled by his 280 yards last week or his 287 yards
and 325 yards the previous two games. Brees has no arm strength
at all. It’s why Emmanuel Sanders has been a bust. It’s
why a deep threat like Tre’Quan Smith has been stifled.
Once they are more than 15 yards downfield, Brees can’t
hit them and won’t even try. They are just doing wind sprints.
Brees’ numbers have been saved by the elite receiving talent
of Alvin Kamara (55-556-3). I don’t even think the return
of Michael Thomas (hamstring, ankle) will help. He’ll be
restricted to flanker screens and quick slants. If anything happens
to Kamara, fade Brees.
3) Injured Dak Prescott regrets not signing the huge
preseason contract offer from Jerry Jones.
Are you kidding? Have you seen the two replacements the Dallas
Cowboys have tried? Andy Dalton didn’t last a game and Ben DiNucci was a disaster. Behind the same offensive line and with
the same talented trio of receivers that Prescott produced top-10
numbers and three consecutive 450-yard passing games, Dalton managed
17.7 fantasy points in his one full game and DiNucci posted 11.2
points in an embarrassing offensive display in Philadelphia. GM/owner
Jones should be regretting the Brinks’ trucks full of cash
he gave Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, because Prescott is
the guy who runs the Cowboys offense and now he’s going
to need two trucks for his franchise quarterback despite a reduced
salary cap 2021 season.
4) Those fantasy owners still seeking a replacement for
Prescott should turn to new 49ers starter Nick Mullens.
False. Mullens averaged 20.5 FPts/G in eight games during the
2018 season, which is solid enough, but a closer look shows tight
end George Kittle was a huge part of Mullens’ passing success.
In those eight games, Kittle accounted for 28.9% of his completions,
34.8% of his passing yards and 23.1% of his touchdown passes.
Kittle is expected to miss two months with a foot injury. Additionally,
Deebo Samuel is currently on IR, leaving Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley at tight end and rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne
at wideout. Not exactly an All-Pro receiving corps.
5) Marvin Hall is the receiver to have as a temporarily
replacement for Kenny Golladay (already declared out for Week
Unlikely. Sure, Hall saw seven targets and hauled in four for
a team-leading 113 yards against Indianapolis last Sunday, but
when it comes time to make the big touchdown-scoring play, Matthew Stafford will look to veteran Marvin Jones before Hall, Quintez
Cephus or Danny Amendola. In fact, I expect Jones and tight end
T.J. Hockenson to vie for most targets with Amendola third and
Hall fourth. Start Jones and Hockenson against a weak and vulnerable
Vikings pass defense (ranked 31st to opposing fantasy wideouts).