Fantasy Football: Week 11 Recap

This was a rough week in fantasy. A list of some of the guys who flopped this week: Gronk, Devonta (injury), Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, T.Y. Hilton, Chris Ivory, everyone on the Chargers, Lamar Miller (it’s not his fault!), and Charcanderick West (injury). The scores were probably lower in most leagues this week, so let’s see what went wrong.

Jaguars 19, Titans 13
An underwhelming game all around. The Jaguars have been a remarkably consistent fantasy situation this season, but as is often the case, the Thursday night game was sloppy. Blake Bortles had his second straight subpar game, throwing for 242 yards and a touchdown, along with two turnovers. His rest of season schedule is promising enough that he should remain locked in your starting lineup. The Allen Bros – aren’t they great? – curiously saw few targets in the first half. Allen Robinson had 113 yards, but his counterpart Allen Hurns, perhaps limited by his abdomen injury, was held to his worst game of the season with three catches for 19 yards. Hurns only received four targets, which is tied for the least he has gotten all year. The lone score went to Julius Thomas, who could see an uptick in red zone usage, if Hurns’ time on the field is more limited as he plays through injury. Out of the backfield, T.J. Yeldon had 82 total yards. He is nothing if not consistent, and he is reliable to get about 20 touches every game.

Considering the Titans put up a mere 13 points, it’s surprising that there were three usable fantasy performances. Marcus Mariota rushed for a TD and threw for 231 yards. Good for 18 fantasy points. His main target…. Actually his only target, Delanie Walker, had his highest yardage of the year with 109 yards. Because of how weak Tennessee’s receivers are, Walker is one of the more reliable tight ends in fantasy. He is not in the Gronk, Eifert, Olsen, Barnidge tier, but he may be the next best. Yes, better than Kelce. Maybe not more talented than Kelce, but Walker is more consistent. He has seven games over 50 yards this year, and Kelce has just five. The last real contributor to the Titans’ bumbling offense is rookie running back Antonio Andrews, whose high usage keeps him flex-able most weeks.  Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Buy or Sell, Blind Resumés, and Some Interesting Numbers

We’re in the heart of the fantasy season. For many, it’s make or break time, as teams are jockeying for playoff position. Between all of the injuries to studs last week and the fact that this is the heaviest bye week of the year, lots of owners will be forced to trot out less-than-optimal lineups this week. But let’s take a look ahead, now that we are officially halfway through the NFL season and try to forecast what will happen in the second half of the year, with a game of buy or sell.

Buy or Sell…

Russell Wilson finishes season as top-15 QB?  –  Sell.
At this point, there is very little to be excited about in Seattle’s offense. People understand that Seattle is staying above water because of its defense, but I don’t know that people realize just how porous the offense has been. To put things in perspective, only the 49ers are averaging fewer offensive TDs per game. Marshawn Lynch was missing for a few of those games, but as we saw last week against the Cowboys (when the Seahawks scored 13 points), the Seahawks have struggled to score the ball regardless of who has played.  Through the first half of the year, Wilson has thrown for over 250 yards only twice – one of those times was week 1, when he threw for 251 yards. He has had only one multi-TD game so far – in week 2, he threw for 2 TDs. Everyone knows it’s not Wilson’s arm that makes him a good fantasy QB though. It’s his rushing ability, of course. But his rushing totals have taken a hit as well. Last season, he rushed for 849 yards and 6 TDs. This year, he’s on pace to finish with just over 600 yards. And he has yet to rush for a TD yet. Lastly, Wilson is on pace to throw for the most interceptions in his career. He has 6 INTs through 8 games. Last year he finished with 7 INTs. QB is deep this year, and depending on how deep your league is, there may be better streaming options some weeks, rather than starting Wilson every week. Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Week 7 Primer

Let’s delve into the fantasy implications of each matchup in week 7, the midpoint of the fantasy season…

Seahawks-49ers
Though the Seahawks lost at home last week, fantasy owners invested in Seattle were happy with what they saw. For the first time all year, Jimmy Graham looked comfortable on the field and seemed to take a step forward in chemistry with Russell Wilson, knowing when to break his route and improvise when Wilson was out of the pocket. We have may have just seen Graham’s best game, or last week was just the beginning of the Jimmy Graham we expected. Marshawn Lynch also made an appearance, running for a score, though he struggled going against the Panthers defense that is one of the best in the league. This may be the last week to buy low on Lynch if you believe he’ll regain his form for the second half of the year.
For the Niners, Colin Kaepernick strung together his second straight strong performance, albeit against another weak defense in the Ravens. Kaepernick is not a bad second QB to have, whether in a two QB league, or just as insurance for bye week and injury. Likewise, Anquan Boldin put together his second straight game over 100 yards, as he continues to be a reliable WR3 that elicits little excitement out of fantasy owners. The rest of the Niners offense is hit or miss. Torrey Smith will always be a boom or bust option, whose value largely hinges on whether he reels in a deep ball or not, and Carlos Hyde’s stock has continued to drop since his monster week one performance.

Bills-Jaguars
With no Tyrod Taylor last weekend, the only relevant fantasy players on the Bills were LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, the former just returning from injury and the latter succumbing to injury once again. McCoy looked healthy for the first time all year and turned in a solid performance, scoring a TD to go along with 90 yards. Watkins, perennially snakebitten by injury, left the game with an ankle injury on the play where he scored a TD in what looked like a routine play.
The Jaguars, in a turn that almost no fantasy owner expected at the beginning of the season, are replete with important fantasy contributors. Blake Bortles is just an average QB in real life, but in fantasy, he’s one of the more reliable QBs, who will throw for plenty of yards, have a few nice runs that tally up, in addition to a couple TDs. He has thrown for the sixth most yards this year, he has tossed seven TDs in his last two games, and he always adds some yards on the ground as well. He will always add an INT (or two or three), but he makes for up it everywhere else. His two favorite targets Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are both having breakout seasons. Robinson, as long as he stays healthy, will be a top 12 WR and Hurns is a top 20 WR, having now scored a TD in four straight games. And in Julius Thomas’ second game back from the finger injury suffered in preseason, he reeled in a score to go with 73 yards. It is not particularly pretty, but through sheer volume, all Jacksonville pass-catchers have a place in starting lineups in fantasy. Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Patience or Panic

We are at the point in the fantasy football season, where teams in every league are beginning to separate themselves, for better or worse. There are the undefeated teams that are just about guaranteed to reach the playoffs, and there are the teams who look to be a loss or two away from being out of the playoff race altogether. For the latter group, there is a desperation that is ripe for overreaction. There is blood in the water, and everyone knows it. Surely, if you’re 0-4 or even 1-3, you’re being bombarded with low-ball offers from owners looking to pounce on your precarious place in the standings. While it’s tempting to take some home run swings and shake up your roster, it’s always important not to make a trade, just for the sake of making a trade.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Patience
It’s crazy that Brown is even being included here, and if you have Brown on your roster, chances are your team is in good standing. But, if somehow, you have Brown and your team is struggling, don’t do anything rash. The Mike Vick effect will only last a few more weeks, and it’s hard to imagine it being any worse for Brown that it was last Thursday, when Brown just had a few catches for 42 yards. Brown is either the best WR in fantasy, or just a hair behind Julio Jones, and anyone who panics on Brown will be kicking themselves when Big Ben is back and Brown goes back to being a lock for 100 yards every week.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Patience
What a difference a few weeks make, huh? Not that Matthews ever really set the fantasy world on fire yet this year, but after week 2, Matthews looked like a safe bet to be a top 15 or even top 10 fantasy WR. The top aerial option in Chip Kelly’s offense should be a safe bet to receive a boatload of targets, and Matthews’ size should make him a red zone monster. But the Eagles have looked like a mediocre team, who maybe gave up the reins to Chip Kelly a little too much. The offense, for the most part, has struggled to put up points, and the rejuvenation of Sam Bradford hype was a little premature. Despite all of that though, Matthews’ owners should stay the course. He’s the unquestioned #1 wideout in Philly – neither Nelson Agholor, nor Riley Cooper is a real threat to steal too many targets from Matthews, and the offense can only get better. Matthews is a solid WR2 and a few so-so weeks shouldn’t cause panic out of his owners. Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Pros and Cons of Top Tier Wide Receivers

Consensus is almost unheard of in fantasy. Sure, there are exceptions. People can usually agree that the guys at the very top of the draft board are safe bets, and there’s usually a couple trendy sleeper picks. But more often than not, at least on draft day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s always more than one way to view a guy. Someone might be elated to draft Rob Gronkowski in the first round, considering he’s far and away, the best tight end in fantasy, who has one of the most reliable QBs throwing him the ball. But someone else may be just as ecstatic to see Gronkowski go in the first round, pointing out his exhaustive injury history, and that he will be without his super reliable future HOFer QB for the first quarter of the season. That is why you’ll often see someone’s name on one website’s “Top 5 Sleepers” list and another website’s “Top 5 Busts” list. It’s usually a crapshoot to know which is the truth, and that’s what makes fantasy so fun and difficult. Here, let’s go through the good and the bad of this year’s WRs.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pros: Hmmm let’s see. EVERYTHING. He’s the king of consistency – had at least 5 receptions in every game last year, and at never had fewer than 72 yards in a game. He’s a virtual lock for 1500+ yards and double digit TDs. Should be considered for the top overall pick. Far and away the top option at a loaded position.

Cons: Literally none. Nothing to see here, folks, carry on, move along.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Pros: Romo’s favorite weapon, one of the most reliable guys at any position in fantasy. Will be a top 5 WR, easy.

Cons: A tad more reliant on TDs than some other top WRs. Not to punish Dez for being a TD magnet, but his receptions and yards lag behind the other truly elite WRs. Led the league in receiving TDs though, and if those come down a bit, from 16 to, say, 10 or so, his value could take a hit.  Continue reading

Fantasy Football: The All-Patience Team

This year, there seems to be an unusually high number of valuable players, who for one reason or another, injury in some cases and suspension in others, will miss games to start the year. Drafting these players is not without risk, especially for those guys whose season openers are being postponed due to injury, but can also put you in prime position at the end of the season. Of course, for the games at the end of the year to be meaningful, you have to rack up enough wins, so it would probably not be a good idea to load up on these guys. But draft and stash one or two of them on your bench, and by the end of September, your lineup should be in great position.

QB – Tom Brady, New England Patriots
This one is obvious. Brady will miss the first four games of the season for his Deflategate suspension. That means a potentially top 5 QB is slipping in drafts to the 7th round or later in most drafts. If you take Brady, you’ll have to draft another QB like Phillip Rivers or Eli Manning a few rounds later to fill in for the first month of the year. But, once Brady is back, expect his usual output. He still has Gronk, he still has Edelman, and he should be more motivated than ever.  Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Overrated and Underrated in the Early Rounds

The most important selections you make in your fantasy draft are the first few ones. It is very difficult to overcome poor selections in the first couple rounds. The players you select in the first three or so rounds should be stalwarts, who you are consistent and reliable. For that reason, a swing and a miss with your first or second pick can spell doom for fantasy owners. Whether a player is underrated or overrated depends on where he is being picked. For example, I believe DeMarco Murray is overrated. In ESPN drafts, he is being taken 7th right now, and that’s too high for my liking. I would not take him inside the top 20 – I’d rather take one of the top tier WRs: Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, or Demaryius Thomas for example. If Murray was available (he would not be) in the mid-20s, I would have no problem taking him. This is all to say, a player being deemed overrated does not mean “Avoid player at all costs.” I am simply measuring a player’s value, price, whatever you want to call it.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys – Overrated (selected 7th)
Everyone knows the knock on Murray is not ability. It is durability and workload. For the longest time, Murray couldn’t stay healthy for a full season. Last season he did, he had nearly 400 carries, and won the rushing crown by almost 500 yards. He was as good as it gets last year, regularly exceeding the century mark. But the historic workload does not fare well for Murray’s durability this year. It was nothing short of a miracle that Murray made it through last season unscathed. It’s difficult to envision another fully healthy season, off the heels of the bone-crushing toll Murray took last year. What’s more, Murray is in a new system, and while Chip Kelly’s offense is very fantasy friendly, it is still unclear how much fellow incomer Ryan Matthews will be used. Murray is the much more talented back, but the Eagles could bring Matthews in for third-down duties to preserve Murray.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears – Overrated (selected 9th)
Coach Marc Trestman is gone, and that should decrease Forte’s receptions. Forte had yet another impressive fantasy season, but that had to do more with the quantity, and not quality, of his touches. He was the only RB who finished in the top ten of rushing yards, without gaining at least 4 YPC, a fairly average number. This is an average offense, with a heavily turnover-prone QB, and an ultra-conservative coach in John Fox. Continue reading

Fantasy Outlook for Every NFC East Team

Preseason is over and the first real game will be played in just a few days on Thursday, as the defending champ Seahawks square off against the Packers. With all the preseason games out of the way, it’s time to re-evaluate things. We’ll go through every team, starting with the NFC, and figure out what they have to offer to the fantasy world.

NFC East

In a more passing-oriented offense, Morris could see much fewer carries.

In a more passing-oriented offense, Morris could see much fewer carries.

Washington Redskins: Stick to Garcon; Be wary of everyone else
For a pretty dismal team in real life, the Skins have a lot of players being drafted early in fantasy. Pierre Garcon had a monster season last year and is a PPR machine. His value shouldn’t take a huge hit from DeSean Jackson’s arrival. But Alfred Morris’ value should take a hit from Jay Gruden’s arrival. Gruden will have RG3 throw the ball a lot more, and that hurts Morris. Morris might not get 20+ carries per game. It also might hurt RG3, who looked atrocious in preseason. RG3 isn’t nearly the fantasy commodity many are expecting him to be. He takes too many hits, won’t run as much as he did in his rookie year, and is an overrated passer. He has more options than ever before, but he’s still a mostly average QB at this stage in his career. I’d be reluctant to draft DeSean or Jordan Reed too. DeSean might be the fastest player in the league and is coming off a career year, but isn’t in Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense anymore, and Jordan Reed struggled with concussions last year. Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Don’t Take Him in That Round

Let’s take a look at some of the players that are being reached for in the early rounds. Lots of people often claim that fantasy leagues are won after the 10th round because that’s where the sleepers are found. The guys who are taken in the 100’s and become breakout stars can definitely have a huge effect on your team, but it’s in the first seven rounds where you draft the nucleus of your team. The majority of those selections should be weekly starters, regardless of their matchup.

Arian Foster and Doug Martin: 1st Round
If Foster is your top selection, you’re putting an awful lot of faith in his ability to stay healthy and Ryan Fitzpatrick to not be awful. Foster has the ability to be a top tier RB, but it’s not worth the risk, when you can take any one of the top WRs–Demaryius, Dez, or A.J. Green. Those guys are all selected near Foster and don’t have nearly as much risk. After the top six RBs, there are very few sure things. It’s tempting to go for a stud RB with the position being so scarce, but there’s a lot of risk. At the end of the 1st round, you can always find one of the best WRs in fantasy, and that’s something I wouldn’t pass up. Doug Martin falls in the same boat as Foster. Martin is coming off of an injury, but he has less of a pedigree than Foster. Martin had a really good rookie year that was inflated because of two monster games. Beside those games, he was good, but not great. And with a new offensive coordinator, Martin will probably get a lighter workload than the previous two years.

Martin struggled last year and could have a lighter workload this season.

Martin struggled last year and could have a lighter workload this season.

Le’Veon Bell: 2nd Round
Another 2nd tier RB who isn’t worth their draft position this year. Bell will slip a little bit because of the impending discipline he’ll face due to his recent legal troubles. Even if Bell isn’t suspended by the league yet, he could face internal discipline from the team. And that’s not even factoring that he’s being taken too early to begin. Bell had a weak 3.5 YPC and didn’t even tally 900 rushing yards last season. Even with his 400 receiving yards, Bell isn’t worth taking in the top 20 picks. There are better options at that spot. Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson are usually available, as are Zac Stacy and Montee Ball. Continue reading

Fantasy Football RB Buyer Beware

Every year, there are fantasy owners who make the mistake of selecting players solely on their production the previous year. Knowing how a player performed last year is important, but offseason and preseason developments are just as important. These players produced last year, but owners should be wary of drafting them.

DeMarco Murray –> Injury-Prone
Murray played 14 games last season and that was the most he’s played in his career. When healthy, Murray is a good back who can easily end up as a top 7 or 8 RB. But his injury concerns limit his value, especially considering he’s being taken in the 2nd round of most drafts. If Murray slips to the 3rd round, he’s worth the pick. But in the teens, Murray only lives up to that selection if he stays healthy for nearly the entire season. That’s something I wouldn’t bet on.

Stacy will have to carry the offense in St. Louis without Sam Bradford healthy.

Stacy will have to carry the offense in St. Louis without Sam Bradford healthy.

Zac Stacy –> Starting QB Tore ACL
With Sam Bradford tearing his ACL (again) last night, the Rams are in trouble offensively. Yes, Stacy produced last season without Bradford on the field, but this time around, Stacy won’t be surprising anyone. It wouldn’t be surprising for Stacy to face nine and 10 men fronts, until Shaun Hill proves he’s a competent QB. The Rams were expected to rely on their defense and running ability coming into the season, and without Bradford playing, they will surely lean heavily on Stacy. Problem is Stacy only had a 3.9 YPC last season, and teams will key in on him this year. Not to mention the Rams drafted Tre Mason in the 3rd round of the draft in April. Continue reading