Crumpets, tea, overt politeness – the NFL returns to Wimbley Stadium for its third across-the-pond tilt of the season. Different from previous British battles, this week's brutally early (6:30 AM PT) Lions/Falcons matchup is full of intrique. Even if Calvin Johnson suits up, will he be effective? Can Matt Ryan actually perform like a QB1 outdoors? What lame excuses will Mike Smith make up this time?
On this week's energetic program, Melanie Collins will guide our knights of the round table (Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens and Shaun King) through the Week 8 muck. On the agenda: LeSean McCoy's prospects in the desert, rookie wide receivers not named Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins with shocker special potential, Percy predictions and, of course, your pressing questions. Here's how you can join the circus:
As always, the Big Noise and Boss Man will prime the pump on our two-hour FFL radio simulcast. We'll provide the very latest updates on Megatron's availability, give you LIVE updates of the Lions/Falcons game, break down every remaining Week 8 matchup and, naturally, tend to your every fantasy need. Reach out:
Straight cash homie! In his never-ending quest to pay off his kids' college education early, Brad Evans unveils his FanDuel picks for the upcoming week and explains his reasoning behind them. Make that money, #TeamHuevos.
CONTEST RULES AND SCORING
FAKE BUDGET: $60,000
Carson Palmer, Ari, QB (FanDuel Price: $7,400) – When in uniform this season, the crafty veteran has impressed. He's thrown two touchdowns in each of his first three starts amassing a top-10 per game average at the QB position. He should again live among QB1s this week vs. Philly. Because of the Eagles' fast-paced nature, high-volume situations are inevitable for opposing passers. With Eli Manning the lone exception, every signal-caller has tossed at least two TDs against the Eagles this year. Palmer adds to that list en route to a 300-yard, 2-3 TD day.
Jerick McKinnon, Min, RB ($5,800) – The list price for McKinnon is like scoring an authentic T206 Honus Wagner at a garage sale -- money in the bank. Seven running backs have sailed past the 10-point threshold against the bumbling Bucs. Overall, Tampa has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. Though Matt Asiata, who played 27 snaps last week, remains a hindrance, McKinnon has excelled when given opportunities. He's tallied 5.2 yards per carry and gained 56.6 percent of his yards after contact. Chances are strong he records his third 100-yard game of the year.
Darren McFadden, Oak, RB ($6,100) – Run DMC, shockingly, hasn't been a complete disaster this year. He's healthy and is performing at a laudable level. The Raider has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, but since Week 2, he's compiled a top-30 line among RBs. The Cleveland Chihuahuas are laughable against the run. They've conceded 4.85 yards per carry, 164.8 total yards per game and eight touchdowns to rushers in six games. If Derek Carr can find a smidge of success vertically, McFadden is a viable candidate for 80 total yards and a touchdown.
Jordy Nelson, GB, WR ($8,800) – The over/under on the Saints/Packers game sits at an obscene 55.5. Points should be plentiful on the Bayou, which is great news for all parties involved. Nelson has been virtually uncoverable this year. Since Week 4, he's splashed six a whopping five times and averaged 90.3 receiving yards per game. The Saints, who've allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs this year, have provided little resistance. Starting corners Keenan Lewis and Corey White have given up a 68 percent catch rate. Jordy flashes his mitts on Bourbon Street and goes for 7-100-1.
Dez Bryant, Dal, WR ($8,800) – Of late, Bryant has drop-kicked the competition. In five of his past six games, he's scored at least 13 fantasy points. He's yet to log a "silly" game, but that could be on the horizon this week against the rival Redskins. David Amerson is Washington's best DB statistically, checking in at No. 73 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. In other words, the 'Skins secondary is a highly exploitable unit. Averaging just over 74 yards per game in his career vs. Washington, Bryant greatly inflates that number Monday night.
Mike Wallace, Mia, WR ($7,500) – After living under a rock for much of 2013, Wallace has crawled out and resembled the WR1 he was with the Steelers. He's on pace for a modest 957 yards, but he's already matched last year's TD output (5) in just six games. A consistency king, he's scored at least 10 FanDuel points in every contest this season. The Jags, likely down their best cover corner, Alan Ball, will lean on Demetrius McCray and Dwayne Gratz to ground the Miami passing attack. Good luck. Another 70-plus yards and a score are quite attainable.
Owen Daniels, Bal, TE ($5,500) – The Raven has excelled in the FanDuel format in two of his past three games. He's really developed a Pitta-like rapport with Joe Flacco during that span. Cincy, the most giving fantasy D to TEs, has yielded 101.5 yards per game to the position. Against the Bengals' soft zone coverage, Daniels is very capable of amassing a 5-70-1 line.
Shaun Suisham, Pit, K ($4,700) – The Steelers' red-zone execution improved against Houston, but they've been inconsistent in that part of the game for weeks. Again, Suisham is terribly undervalued. He's a top-12 kicker at a rock bottom price.
Kansas City D/ST ($4,800) – St. Louis has surrendered 16 QB sacks and committed 10 turnovers. In the loudest stadium in North America, Austin Davis and friends get rocked. Odds are strong a Chief defender finds the end zone.
Want to bull rush Brad? Find him on Twitter. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Tuesday-Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here). Additionally, tune into 'FFL' radio on Yahoo! Sports Radio Sundays at 9 AM ET.
Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names who he believes are destined to
implode leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 8 Lames in the comments section below.
See Also: Week 8 Flames
Jay Cutler, Chi, QB (63 percent started)
Matchup: at NE
What version of Cutler will make an appearance this week? The fantasy handsome Dr. Jekyll or his sinister alter-ego Mr. Hyde? With Halloween just around the corner and based on the passer's recent schlock play, it only seems appropriate the latter manifests in Foxborough. Cutler, called out by Brandon Marshall for his shoddy execution last week vs. Miami, is not exactly a well-liked individual currently in the Bears locker room. As he's done too often in his career, he's forced the issue, making poor decisions and awful back-foot throws that have disastrous results. His 74.2 QB rating, 5.59 yards per attempt and dreadful effort (0-for-4) on deep-ball attempts against the Dolphins was unsightly. With only two TDs to his name over the past two weeks, his QB1 image is far from impeccable. Looking at his Week 8 matchup, it's likely he'll only smudge it more. Darrelle Revis, who ranks No. 54 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus, hasn't exactly isolated targets on an island. Allowing a 61.3 catch rate and 14.1 yards per catch, he's played average at best. Still, many in the Patriots defensive backfield have picked up the slack. Brandon Browner was decent in his return last week. Others, like Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington, have also stepped up. Overall, only Alex Smith has reached the 20-fantasy-point mark in standard Yahoo formats against them. They've also surrendered just 6.88 yards per attempts and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs. Jay won't pay this Sunday.
Fearless Forecast: 24-37, 257 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions, 9 rushing yards, 15.7 fantasy points
Branden Oliver, SD, RB (73 percent started)
Matchup: at Den
Over the past three weeks, Oliver has written a Cinderella story. An undrafted rookie from Buffalo, he made some noise in the preseason but started the year fourth on the San Diego depth chart. Three major injuries to Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown later, and the sparkplug has ignited a previously stagnate Chargers ground game. Since Week 5, he's totaled 128 combined yards per game and three touchdowns, gaining an impressive 62 percent of his yards after initial contact. Sadly, though, the clock strikes midnight for the kid this week. When it comes to defending the run, Denver rarely relents. Thanks to the stellar play of Von Miller and the other Brandon Marshall, running backs have found few holes. On the year, RBs have netted a ghastly 2.89 yards per carry against the Broncos. San Diego's patchwork offensive line will certainly have its hands full. Evidenced in the efforts of Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshawn Lynch and Andre Ellington, versatile rushers have inflicted damage in the pass game. With that in mind, Oliver, who's caught 14 passes in his past four contests, is still a useful PPR option. However, expect vanilla production on the ground, especially if Peyton Manning, facing a San Diego secondary sans Brandon Flowers, blows the doors off the building early.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 48 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 10.0 fantasy points
LeSean McCoy, Phi, RB (61 percent started)
Matchup: at Ari
For those that invested a No. 1 pick in McCoy, liver expansion has occurred at an alarming rate. His bland efforts over the first several weeks left a bitter taste. However, his 154-total yard bounce-back against the Giants prior to the bye has his fans excited about the second half of the fantasy season. With the Philly offensive line getting healthy, things are looking up for Shady, but his Week 8 trip to Arizona could temporarily halt the comeback. Stretching back to last year, visiting RBs have averaged a disgusting 3.09 yards per carry inside the UPS. In fact, among that group, Marshawn Lynch is the only rusher to eclipse the 60-yard mark on the ground in the desert. And just four have found the end zone. It's a rather extraordinary accomplishment considering the loses of Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. Credit DC Todd Bowles' base 3-4 scheme. In a game with enormous playoff seeding implications, the Cards erect brick walls in the trenches.
Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 75 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.8 fantasy points
DeSean Jackson, Was, WR (72 percent started)
Matchup: at Dal
After tripping out of the gate, D-Jax has come on like gangbusters over the past few weeks. Clicking with Kirk Cousins, he compiled the seventh-best stat line among wide receivers from Weeks 3-7, amassing 17 receptions for 443 yards and three touchdowns. But with Captain Kirk now battling Klingons on Kronos, questions loom regarding the receiver's Week 8 value. Colt McCoy was magical in relief of Cousins last week going 11-for-12 for 128 yards and a TD. However, the elevated backup seemed to favor Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed. More damning, McCoy's arm pairs nicely with chicken broth, it's a noodle. RG3, who practiced with the first-team Wednesday, could also return, greatly complicating matters. If No. 10 did start, how rusty would he be? Then there's the unsavory matchup. The shockingly good Cowboys defense has surrendered the second-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards. Most impressively, top corner Orlando Scandrick has given up a mere 9.9 yards per catch. Given the difficult road environment, staunch opponent and QB uncertainties, Jackson could be in for a quiet night.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.4 fantasy points
Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WR (62 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Phi
Eight Pro Bowls. Six 1,000-yard seasons. 88 career touchdowns. There are few players in the NFL's 92-year history who have made a bigger splash at the wide receiver position than Fitzgerald. Unstoppable during the Kurt Warner years and a consummate pro when Kevin Kolb tanked the franchise, he's produced sound, consistent numbers for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, the 31-year-old isn't the same stallion he used to be. Currently the No. 64 wideout in Fantasyland on a per game basis, he's monumentally underachieved. He's hit pay-dirt only once and averaged an uncharacteristic 47.1 yards per game. He's still a physically imposing weapon, but the slot man isn't gaining separation from defenders, forcing Carson Palmer to look elsewhere. He's on pace for just 96 targets, which would be the lowest of his career. Philly presents a ripe opportunity to regain owner confidence. Cary Williams and friends have yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs. However, linebackers Trent Cole and Connor Barwin have done an excellent job assisting DBs in the short-field, an area where Fitz typically operates. Because the Eagles are most exploitable on the outside, Michael Floyd and John Brown could be in for profitable days, leaving Fitzgerald fans vexed once again.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 53 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.1 fantasy points
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
@YahooNoise Cutler, DThomas, Benjamin, Hillman, Lynch, Graham, Bills D/ST— Swaggy G. (@gageebowles5) October 23, 2014
Reader Record: 31-19, 62.0%
Want to bull rush Brad? Find him on Twitter. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Tuesday-Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here). Additionally, tune into 'FFL' radio on Yahoo! Sports Radio Sundays at 9 AM ET.
This week, the Thursday game is a feast for the fantasy community. We've conditioned ourselves to be wary of mid-week football, sure, but tonight we get a pair of dominant offenses. Denver again ranks first in the NFL in scoring (31.5 PPG), and San Diego isn't far behind (26.3); these teams have combined to average 754.0 total yards per game.
In fact, the Broncos and Chargers have been so ridiculously productive this season that neither team offers a starting skill player who perfectly fits the definition of a flier for our purposes here (35 percent owned or less). So instead of building a case for, say, Ladarius Green — a guy who played only eight snaps last week and saw no targets — let's instead break protocol and consider a widely owned fantasy asset who has, to date, disappointed everyone.
Keenan Allen, come on down.
Allen has been one of the most vexing non-injury fantasy duds of 2014. We've arrived at the halfway point of the season, and somehow we're still waiting for Keenan's first touchdown. After his eight-TD rookie season, we all expected more — and some of us expected a lot more.
But as often happens in the NFL, when you give coaches and coordinators a full offseason to adjust to a player or scheme, they come up with solutions. Allen has drawn considerably more attention this year than he did as a rookie — more press coverage, more safety and linebacker help — which has of course created opportunities for other Chargers receivers. Good for the team, not ideal for Allen's fantasy owners.
Here's Allen's position coach, via U-T San Diego, discussing the increased focus on the second-year receiver:
"People, they aren't stupid," wide receivers coach Fred Graves said. "They're not just going to let him run free. They're going to take some things away."
"I think Keenan's doing a fine job," Graves said. "He's matured in a lot of ways. When I say matured, he's understanding defenses and what they're trying to take away, what our concepts are and what we're trying to do. If you want to put a bunch of stats into it, maybe he's not doing what people think. But I think he's doing enough to win games for us."
Allen actually leads his team in both targets (52) and receptions (34), so it's not as if he's simply been an afterthought. Big plays have been scarce for Allen, as only two of his receptions have gained 20-plus yards. He's had little room to operate after the catch.
Still, it's ridiculous (and fluky) that Allen doesn't have an end-zone spike this year. He currently has the most receptions and most targets of any player in the NFL who has not yet caught a touchdown pass.
Denver's corners are excellent, so it's hardly a layup that Keenan will make a house call in Week 8. But we should note that he roasted the Broncos twice last season; he caught a pair of scores in a mid-December win at Denver, then later delivered the best stat line of his pro career in the playoff loss (6-142-2). Don't be shocked if he finally breaks the plane this week.
An argument can easily be made that Allen is the best buy-low in our game right now. He's certainly on the approved list for Thursday night, just like pretty much every other player on the field.
The Big Board takes into consideration past returns, current performance and expected future gains in determining who should be included among the top 50 fantasy football players. Essentially, the Big Board is a cheat sheet designed for an owner who is planning to participate in a draft today. Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football default scoring settings are used as the baseline for the Big Board, which is updated on a regular basis during the season.
|Big Board 50: Football|
|1. DeMarco Murray (DAL)||RB||0||Has reached 100 rushing yards (and 19+ fantasy points) in all 7 games, and the matchup degree of difficulty has meant little to his success - continued health will likely result in 2k+ rush yards|
|2. Matt Forte (CHI)||RB||+2||On a record-setting RB receptions pace (119) and has been the No. 1 fantasy RB over the past month - ROS schedule far from daunting from RB standpoint|
|3. Jamaal Charles (KAN)||RB||0||Sluggish start ancient history as he's averaged 100 YFS and has scored 4 TDs in past 3 games|
|4. Le'Veon Bell (PIT)||RB||+1||He's the AFC's version of Matt Forte given his dynamic dual-threat ability (100+ YFS in every game; 2nd only to Murray with 938 YFS)|
|5. Demaryius Thomas (DEN)||WR||+1||Must have took a long look at the man in the mirror during W4 bye, as he's returned w/ a vengeance in his past 3 games (combined 26 catches, 521 yards, 5 TDs)|
|6. Marshawn Lynch (SEA)||RB||-4||Had a TD (and another big gain) called back for penalty in W7 - expect him to make up for missed opportunities in next 3 weeks vs. CAR, OAK, NYG (all rank bottom 6 in fantasy vs. RBs)|
|7. Arian Foster (HOU)||RB||0||No. 3 fantasy RB has 20+ carries, 100+ rush yards in 5 of 6 contests, and ROS schedule sets up well for continued success (health willing)|
|8. Julio Jones (ATL)||WR||0||Avg. of just 62 yards, 0 TDs in past 2 games, and tough matchup vs. DET (across the pond) on tap in W8 followed by W9 bye - but ROS sched absolute cakewalk from Weeks 10-16|
|9. LeSean McCoy (PHI)||RB||0||Had huge holes and hit them like lightning in W6 (149 rush yards) before W7 bye - now, if he can produce like an elite RB on road vs. stout ARI run D in W8, faith will be fully restored|
|10. Antonio Brown (PIT)||WR||0||Mr. Consistency, the No. fantasy WR thru W7, has 5+ catches in 23 consecutive games (averaging 96.4 receiving YPG in that span)|
|11. Jordy Nelson (GNB)||WR||+2||2nd @ WRs in targets, receptions and receiving yards - ROS schedule among the softest for WRs -- there's a lot to like here|
|12. Dez Bryant (DAL)||WR||0||No. 5 among WRs in FAN PPG in the span of Week 2-7 - ROS schedule very friendly, especially next 3 weeks (WAS, ARI, JAC)|
|13. Peyton Manning (DEN)||QB||+1||The new all-time NFL leader in pass TDs has delivered 3 TD passes or more in 25 of his past 35 regular-season games, including in 5 of 6 this season - has 4+ TD passes in 11 of past 22|
|14. Giovani Bernard (CIN)||RB||-3||Suffered thru worst fantasy performance of career in W7 (1.6 FAN PTS), but ROS schedule among easiest at RB, and he's avg. 92.6 YFS vs BAL (his W8, and toughest remaining, foe)|
|15. Aaron Rodgers (GNB)||QB||+1||Leads all QBs in TD passes (13) over the past month, and ROS schedule shows no speed bumps|
|16. Andrew Luck (IND)||QB||+1||No. 1 fantasy QB has finished thrown for at 300 yards in 6 of 7 games and has accounted for 2+ TDs in all 7 contests|
|17. Calvin Johnson (DET)||WR||+2||Traveled to England w/ team for W8 tilt vs. ATL, but conventional wisdom is still that he'll sit (high ankle sprain) thru W9 bye|
|18. Julius Thomas (DEN)||TE||-3||4/27/0 line in W7 just the 4th game in past 20 regular-season matchups that he hasn't found the end zone|
|19. A.J. Green (CIN)||WR||+1||Likely questionable for W8 return, but toe injury very likely to linger rest of season - if he can handle the pain like he did in W3 (6/102) coming off initial toe injury, all will be fine|
|20. Jimmy Graham (NOR)||TE||+1||Returned from shoulder injury in W7, but did not catch a pass during his 30 snaps (out of 75 total) - likely to be a couple more weeks before he returns to full "Top Jimmy" levels|
|21. Rob Gronkowski (NWE)||TE||+1||Momentum is building as his strength returns (played season-high 91.6% of snaps in W7) - No. 3 fantasy TE since Week 3|
|22. Randall Cobb (GNB)||WR||+1||Size (5-foot-10) makes him unlikely red zone star (8 TDs. 2nd to teammate J. Nelson w/ 13 RZ targets), but his quickness and QB Rodgers' arm/accuracy make his height a non-issue|
|23. Lamar Miller (MIA)||RB||+4||MIA ranks 2nd in Red Zone trips per game (4.7) and that's paying big dividends for Miller (4 TDs in past 3 games)|
|24. Brandon Marshall (CHI)||WR||-6||In frustrating slump that has him ranked 50th among WRs in FAN PTS from Weeks 3-7 - ROS schedule among the toughest for fantasy WRs|
|25. Eddie Lacy (GNB)||RB||0||Has 11.9+ FAN PTS in 3 of past 4 and has chance to widen platoon gap on J. Starks, who tweaked his ankle in W7 - ROS schedule among softest for fantasy RBs|
|26. Andre Ellington (ARI)||RB||+3||Has reached at least 75 YFS in every contest, but not much Red Zone love, thus far (his 8 combined RZ carries+targets is 40th among RBs)|
|27. Drew Brees (NOR)||QB||-1||Although yards per game is as expected (319 ypg), onn pace for less than 30 TD passes (last time he finished sub-30 was '07)|
|28. Philip Rivers (SDG)||QB||0||No . 2 fantasy QB (thru W7) has thrown 16 TD passes to just 2 INTs in past 6 games|
|29. Ahmad Bradshaw (IND)||RB||+6||No. 5 fantasy RB no worse than 8.5 FAN PTS in each of his 7 games despite avg. 10 carries per game - leads RBs w/ 11 RZ targets and 6 RZ TD grabs|
|30. Alshon Jeffery (CHI)||WR||-6||CHI struggles finally hit home for Jeffery in W7 (2/9/0) - as mentioned above (B. Marshall), schedule is less than kind for WRs the rest of the way|
|31. Mike Wallace (MIA)||WR||+5||Off to a top 10 fantasy WR (PPG) start thru Week 7 - has found the end zone in 9 of past 12 regular-season games|
|32. Jeremy Maclin (PHI)||WR||+1||No. 9 WR (FAN PPG) leads NFL in targets of 20+ yards (22) - Schedule over next 5 weeks ranks among the top 3 softest at the WR psotion|
|33. Cam Newton (CAR)||QB||-1||CAR finally letting him run and it has vaulted his value back to elite levels (top 5 fantasy QB in past 3 weeks) - TE Olsen and WR Benjamin also helping make him a consistent factor w/ his arm|
|34. Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)||WR||+2||Already much to love about the rookie besides massive size: targets (8.7 per game), ROS sched (easiest among WRs) and production to date (No. 8 fantasy WR thru Week 7)|
|35. Russell Wilson (SEA)||QB||+6||SEA dealing w/ Super Bowl hangover, but not Russell (in W8 loss, 1st NFL QB to pass for 300+ yards, rush for 100+ - 2nd time in past 3 games he's topped 100 rush yards)|
|36. TY Hilton (IND)||WR||+10||Leads WR in yards (525) and is 2nd in catches (31) over the past 4 weeks - leads NFL in catches of 30+ yards (7)|
|37. Ben Tate (CLE)||RB||-6||Posted a disappointing 16/36/0 line vs. JAx in W7, but have to like his prospects going forward given workload, ROS sched (2nd-easiest among RBs) and strong O line in front of him|
|38. Alfred Morris (WAS)||RB||-8||In big-time slump: 47th among RBs in FAN PTS over past 3 weeks - HC Gruden called him out after W7 for being out of sync w/ O-line|
|39. Steve Smith (BAL)||WR||-1||4 100-yard efforts (and 4 TDs) thru his 1st 7 games as a Raven - diminishing targets a bit of a concern (avg. of 10.5 in 1st 4 games, avg. of 6.0 in past 3)|
|40. Rashad Jennings (NYG)||RB||0||Expected to return from MCL sprain after W8 bye, and backup A. Williams (3.2 YPC) has done little to prevent Jennings from returning to major workload duty once he's back|
|41. Tom Brady (NWE)||QB||+3||Reports of his '14 fantasy demise appear to be greatly exaggerated as he's rebounded with averages of 304.7 pass yards and 3.0 pass TDs in past 3 (No. 4 fantasy QB in that span)|
|42. Golden Tate (DET)||WR||+8||Getting tons of attention w/ Megatron out (44 targets in past 4 games is 2nd-most in NFL), and has delivered 100+ yards in 3 of those contests - Johnson's return should only hurt value a little|
|43. Ronnie Hillman (DEN)||RB||--||Very good chance he Wally Pipps the injured Montee Ball (groin) after avg. 13.4 FAN PTS in past 3 vs. very stiff run Ds (ARI, NYJ, SF)|
|44. Justin Forsett (BAL)||RB||--||Improbable rise to Big Board, but you can't argue the production - top 10 at RB in touches and FAN PTS, and has been consistency king (65+ YFS in all 7 contests)|
|45. Michael Floyd (ARI)||WR||-2||Has posted 10+ FAN PTS in all 3 games in which QB Palmer has played|
|46. Matt Ryan (ATL)||QB||-12||Unfortunately, can't really trust him to have success on the road - since start of '13 season, home QB Rating is above 105 and road QBR is below 77|
|47. Greg Olsen (CAR)||TE||0||No. 2 fantasy TE thru Week 7 has been nearly as consistent as the tides - has had 10+ FAN PTS in 5 of his 7 games, and has 62+ yards in 6 of 7|
|48. Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)||WR||-6||Targets and yardage have dipped significantly in past 2 (combined 9 targets and 79 yards), but finally found end zone in W7 (also had a TD called back for penalty)|
|49. DeSean Jackson (WAS)||WR||-4||Switch at QB from Cousins to McCoy would do DeSean no favors, but looking like an RG3 return (possibly in W8) could bail him out of a potentially bad situation|
|50. Tony Romo (DAL)||QB||--||Avg. 279 passing yards and 2.5 passing TDs in his past 4 games, and is set up w/ the easiest ROS schedule among fantasy QBs|
DROPPED OUT: Jay Cutler, Chi, QB; Julian Edelman, NE, WR; Frank Gore, SF, RB
ON THE BUBBLE:
(QBs) Jay Cutler, Chi; Nick Foles, Phi; Matt Stafford, Det; Colin Kaepernick, SF
(RBs) Joique Bell, Det; Frank Gore, SF; Chris Ivory, NYJ; Jerick McKinnon, Min; Branden Oliver, SDG; Shane Vereen, NE; Trent Richardson, Ind; Fred Jackson, Buf (groin); Ryan Mathews, SD (knee);
(WRs) Sammy Watkins, Buf; DeAndre Hopkins, Hou; Vincent Jackson, TB; Roddy White, Atl; Wes Welker, Den, WR; Andre Johnson, Hou; Pierre Garcon, Was; Terrance Williams, Dal; Julian Edelman, NE; Percy Harvin, NYJ; Eric Decker, NYJ; Josh Gordon, Cle (suspended)
(TEs) Martellus Bennett, Chi; Antonio Gates, SDG; Travis Kelce, KC; Jordan Reed, Was; Jordan Cameron, Cle; Dwayne Allen, Ind; Vernon Davis, SF
Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 8 Flames in the comments section below.
Alex Smith, KC, QB (10 percent started)
Matchup: vs. StL
Watching Ben Stein recite a lengthy dissertation on the economic policies of Tajikistan. That essentially sums up fantasy owners' feelings about Smith. Due to his ultra-conservative, game-manager style most believe the veteran QB isn't worth 76 million Vietnamese Dong let alone U.S. Dollars. However, he's an efficient quarterback who rarely makes mistakes, the anti-Geno Smith. His 81.2 accuracy percentage ranks No. 1 in the league according to Pro Football Focus. At first glance, he may seem unappealing, but Smith is an underrated statistical asset. His yardage totals haven't exactly incited excitement (6.82 ypa, 211.7 pass yards per game), but he's accounted for three multi-TD performances in his past four contests, besting notable names Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Matthew Stafford in per game output during that span. St. Louis, which shockingly ranked No. 1 in pass D just two weeks ago, has fallen on hard times. Embarrassed by multidimensional weapons Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson in consecutive weeks, the once prideful Rams now resemble cuddly Lambs. On the year, they've surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game to QBs. In fact, EVERY signal-caller has logged at least two TDs against them. And that includes future Canton inductees Matt Cassel and Josh McCown. Smith may have limited weapons, but his odds of piling up fruitful numbers against Janoris Jenkins (126.0 QB rating allowed) and company are rather significant.
Fearless Forecast: 20-29, 230 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 27 rushing yards, 22.2 fantasy points
Bryce Brown, Buf, RB (4 percent started)
Matchup: at NYJ
Remember this guy? When LeSean McCoy was felled by injury two years ago, the little-known product from Kansas State burst onto the fantasy scene. In four starts with the Eagles, he electrified the masses, totaling 5.4 yards per carry nearly 90 combined yards per game while scoring three times. Overall that season, he gained an impressive 67.7 percent of his yards after contact. Due to his occasional cases of fumblitis, he isn't someone you should trust holding grandma's fine china, but his explosion, aggressiveness, plus vision and versatility are highly attractive. As Fred Jackson noted Monday, Brown is "an every-down back." Anthony Dixon will remain involved, but there's a reason why the Bills gave up a conditional 2015 fourth-round draft pick for his services. He will be heavily deployed. The once formidable Jets have softened considerably in recent weeks. In their past three games, they've yielded 4.14 yards per carry, 163.7 total yards per game and four touchdowns to running backs. Given the matchup and heightened workload, Brown is worth getting down with in deeper formats.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 62 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.0 fantasy points
Ronnie Hillman, Den, RB (40 percent started)
Matchup: vs. SD
Mea culpa. I was horribly, terribly, woefully wrong about Montee Ball. Please take away my privileges for dispensing shoddy free advice. Sidelined by a nasty groin pull, Ball, who averaged a forgettable 3.13 yards per carry on 55 attempts, likely won't regain his starting gig once available. Hillman, a former bust in his own right, has blossomed into a very useful every-down running back. The former San Diego St. standout, who broke several of Marshall Faulk's records in college, is no longer the weak, fumble-prone rusher from a couple seasons ago. He's mentally and physically stronger, darting through holes, catching passes and, most surprisingly, adequately protecting Peyton Manning. Against a string of normally stout defenses, the Cards, Jets and Niners, he compiled 4.71 yards per touch. He's only gained 40.8 percent of his yards after contact, but plowing over would-be tacklers isn't Hillman's game, nor does it need to be. Because of the nurturing offensive environment, he'll continue to see plenty of wide lanes, including this week. San Diego has been relatively stiff between the tackles, allowing just over 4.0 yards per carry to RBs. However, the Chargers have struggled defending the flat as rushers have tallied 6.8 receptions and 52.1 receiving yards per game. Thursday nights are always an adventure, but Denver's hot hand is highly employable in 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 84 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 19.8 fantasy points
Cordarrelle Patterson, Min, WR (33 percent started)
Matchup: at TB
Norv Turner is obviously not dealing with a full deck. How many excuses can one man make? Allegedly the centerpiece of defensive game-plans, Patterson hasn't even made a squeak over the past three weeks. During that stretch, he's TOTALED six receptions and 32 yards. He did, stunningly, find the end zone last week, but the non-factor has done nothing but mystify the fantasy community. Blame Norm. Two weeks ago, the offensive brain surgeon was reportedly "anxious" to get his deadliest weapon more involved. Because of his lack of vision and creativity that has still yet to happen, prompting many to wonder if Turner failed finger-painting as a kid. Despite Patterson's uneventful production, he's someone worth rolling the dice on in Week 8. No defense has given up more fantasy points to WRs than Tampa. Eight receivers have crossed the 10-point threshold against it in PPR settings. Targeted 63 times, Bucs DBs Alterraun Verner and Jonathan Banks have surrendered 47 receptions (74.6 catch percentage). His toxicity is high, but this has to be the week Patterson burns the competition and not his fantasy owners. Pull head from keyster, Norval.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 8 rushing yards, 15.8 fantasy points
Terrance Williams, Dal, WR (54 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Was
The sophomore receiver is quickly becoming a modern day Cris Carter. Why? All the dude does is score touchdowns. More than just a deep threat, he's developed into one of the finer red zone receivers in the league. Lined in the crosshairs nine times inside the 20, he's hauled in five receptions, four of those for scores. In total, he's splashed pay-dirt six times. Though he's caught just 19 passes, the end zone dances have placed him No. 18 in per game average among wideouts. That ranking could rise this week against rival Washington. Sans DeAngelo Hall, the 'Skins secondary has floundered. Since Week 3, it's given up eight receiving touchdowns and the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs. Overall, David Amerson is the only Washington CB to rank inside the top-100 in pass coverage. Abominable. With Dallas seemingly unstoppable right now, Williams, who's averaging 17.8 yards per catch, again delivers a standout WR2 line.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.3 fantasy points
Mark Ingram, NO, RB (10 percent started)
Matchup: vs. GB
Prior to his hand injury, Ingram was a firm RB2 in 12-team leagues. Returning to action last Sunday for the first time in five weeks, he played 26 snaps totaling just 29 yards on 12 touches. Sean Peyton rarely strays from a revolving backfield and will continue to feed Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet occasionally, rendering Ingram a 11-15 touch rusher moving forward. But with Pierre Thomas shelved the next 2-3 weeks (shoulder), the ex-'Bama back should wind up on the high side of that range. With that in mind, he's worth acknowledging in Week 8. Largely due to a couple friendly matchups (Minnesota and Carolina), Green Bay has improved on its once atrocious record against the run. Still, the Packers remain vulnerable in the trenches. On the year, they've conceded 146.5 combined yards and six touchdowns to RBs. In desperation mode, the Saints will turn to their power back, who's tallied 4.67 yards per carry, inside the red zone.
Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 58 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.4 fantasy points
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
@YahooNoise Russell Wilson. Ronnie Hillman. Reggie Bush Keenan Allen. Sammy Watkins. Zach Ertz Miami D— Jason (@jasoncummings_) October 21, 2014
Reader Record: 15-33, 31.2%
Want to bull rush Brad? Find him on Twitter. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Tuesday-Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here). Additionally, tune into 'FFL' radio on Yahoo! Sports Radio Sundays at 9 AM ET.
OK, let's begin by acknowledging the fact that Bryce Brown has legit talent. In fact, for two extraordinary weeks in 2012, Brown ruled the fantasy world. He piled up 347 rushing yards and four TDs for Philadelphia over just two games, playing in relief of the injured LeSean McCoy.
Brown was fumbly, you'll recall, but he was also electric. Good size, good speed, good player. The good times soon ended, however, as Brown put up a pair of dud performances (28 carries, 40 yards) before slipping back into a supporting role. But he definitely demonstrated the ability to produce big plays and big fantasy lines, no question.
If you owned him back then, you're probably pretty excited about the opportunity ahead of him now in Buffalo. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are both sidelined by injury, leaving Anthony Dixon and Brown to carry the mail. Brad is bidding $48 on Bryce — and that may not actually be enough to land him in experts leagues, where enthusiasm is particularly high.
I enjoy issuing buy orders on buzzy pickups as much as the next guru, but I haven't quite been able to talk myself into breaking the imaginary bank for Brown. Here are my main worries, listed in order of importance:
• Over the next five weeks, Brown's schedule isn't the best. He gets the Jets in Week 8, then a bye, then the Chiefs, Dolphins and, again, New York. So that's three matchups against top-10 run defenses, plus an off-week. Not great if you need an immediate plug-and-play.
• Jackson is clearly coming back, perhaps by Week 11 or 12...
Bills RB Fred Jackson says on weekly @WGR550 appearance this morning that his groin injury is typically a 4-week injury. No surgery.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) October 20, 2014
...and it's tough to imagine him returning to a substantially lesser role. Jackson certainly hasn't been a problem. He's averaged 4.3 YPC and he was on pace for 70-plus receptions prior to the injury.
• Dixon sounds like a man who expects a lot of work in the weeks ahead. "This is an opportunity I've been waiting for, to get back in that workhorse role and show people what I can do," Dixon said to reporters Sunday. Remember, he's the guy who's been active on gamedays.
• Brown, by his own admission, needs to get comfortable with the Bills' protection schemes. He's been running with the scout team. "I haven't got to rep it as much, obviously, with not playing."
• When I listen to Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone, I don't hear a man who thinks he has a star-in-waiting on the depth chart. Give it a listen, try to get a read on the coach. Maybe he can't wait to unleash Brown, and he's just afraid to tip his hand. Or maybe he's planning to roll with Dixon as his primary back, leaving Brown with a Spiller-ish supporting role.
Again, with the Jets on deck and a bye looming, I really can't build a strong case for anyone to go all-in on Bryce. Realistically, he's a guy you won't play until Week 10.
Tre Mason, on the other hand, is currently unowned in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues, he's already beyond his bye, and he's coming off an 18-carry, 85-yard game. Mason would be my priority add this week, with Denard Robinson behind him. (You'll find hype on those two here and here.)
Brown is more of a long-range play — a guy with clear talent and opportunity, but with plenty still to prove in Buffalo. If you're adding, you have to simply hope that Brown will have carved out a decent role for himself by Weeks 13-16, when the Bills' schedule is less messy (CLE, DEN, GB, OAK). Would I bid? Yes, but not to my limit.
As always, this is a conversation, not a lecture series.Tell us your waiver plans in comments, if you care to share. And if you're particularly bullish on Bryce, your opinion is welcome. Dissent is encouraged...
Seattle's best receiver, in theory anyway, was traded last week. Seattle's passing defense has fallen on hard times. And the defending champs are just another .500 club right now; they'd be out of the playoffs if they started today.
And as a Russell Wilson fan (and fantasy owner), I say "good" to all those things. I want to see what the Seahawks offense can do if Wilson finally gets the keys to the show, and it looks like we might find out.
Peyton Manning's record-shattering day was the biggest NFL story from Week 7, but Wilson's tape was the one I couldn't wait to fully break down Monday morning. As you probably know by now, Wilson became the first player to post a 300-yard passing day and an 100-yard rushing day in the same game, stuffing the stat sheet in the 28-26 loss at St. Louis. He was already a member of the exclusive 200-100 club.
Wilson's monstrous Week 7 box score (313 passing yards, 106 rushing yards, three total touchdowns) was largely born out of desperation. The Seahawks fell behind 21-6 at halftime and were playing catch-up for the entire second half. It's a shame Seattle couldn't get the ball back for one final drive, because Wilson and Company were letter perfect on their final three possessions (all lengthy touchdown drives, covering 253 yards of offense). And the video looked as good as the numbers; when Wilson is on his game, plays take on an organic, meandering beauty.
Wilson's ability to make dynamic ad-lib plays out of structure is both a gift and a curse. It's wonderful that he can salvage a broken play (or what looks like a sure negative play), but it also means he'll be on the run for a heavy amount of snaps. While he's proven to be wise with his running decisions as a pro, you worry about being exposed for more hits than the average quarterback. I suppose it would be nice to see the Seahawks offense get more splashy plays from a structured offense.
But maybe it's silly to worry about potential injury here. Wilson hasn't missed a game as a pro. He's smart with his decisions – the majority of his rushing attempts end with a scamper out of bounds or a safe slide to the turf. And you know how the NFL views the glamour position – it's all but legislated QB hits out of the game.
Wilson averaged about 35 pass attempts in each of his first two years. He's at 29 for 2014, and he's chucked the ball 64 times over the last two weeks (both losses). Wilson averaged 30.6 rushing yards in 2012 and 33.7 rushing yards last year. He's at 54.5 for this season. The Seahawks still run a few read-option snaps every week, and then there are the improvisational scrambles when things break down.
Seattle's struggling pass defense is a big part of Wilson's theoretical value. The Seahawks allowed a skimpy 63.4 QB rating last season, and that number was in the low 70s in 2011 and 2012. This year, opposing QBs are gouging the Legion of Boom, putting up a 103.7 rating. That's the fifth-worst number in the NFL.
A difficult schedule has played into some of the defensive struggles: Seattle has already met up with Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo. Then again, Kirk Cousins (no longer a starter) and Austin Davis also cut up the Seahawks. Even if Seattle fixes its coverage problems somewhat, I'm not going to expect the dominance to return. At some point, you are what you are.
So who is Wilson going forward from a fantasy perspective? I'm not going to put him in the top QB tier (where Manning, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers reside), but he's probably right there with anyone else. Drew Brees or Wilson? That's a conversation. Rivers or Wilson? I could go either way on that. And if I would not move Wilson for Jay Cutler, Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan or Cam Newton – not today. (Also keep in mind Seattle's already had its bye week.)
I probably underestimated Doug Baldwin's potential now that Percy Harvin is out of town. While Baldwin's monster Week 7 showing (7-123-1 on 11 targets) is an obvious outlier, he'll be in the WR3 area on my next batch of weekly ranks. He's the target Wilson trusts the most, be it from a primary read or when the ad-lib game starts. I'm surprised Baldwin was hardly used in Seattle's first five games (just 24 targets), but that's a moot point going forward.
-- I can't imagine Branden Oliver wasting away on the San Diego bench when Ryan Mathews returns. Oliver is too versatile, too talented. And let's accept that Darren Sproles was never the proper comparison for Oliver – he's more like the young Maurice Jones-Drew, a powerful collision man with a low center of gravity. The Chargers found plenty of touches for both Mathews and Danny Woodhead last year. They'll probably keep Oliver relevant.
-- The Falcons obviously have all sorts of problems right now, on both sides of the ball. The offense in particular needs answers on the offensive line, and the running game is a joke. And things probably won't get much better against the Lions in Week 8 (an early start in London; set those alarm clocks, bloke).
But if you can ride out the storm with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, better days are ahead. The Falcons enjoy three home games in Weeks 12-16, and I can envision high-scoring matches when they play at Green Bay and New Orleans. I'd look into a Ryan trade before October ends; how you time it is up to you. Maybe he'll be discounted nicely during his Week 9 bye.
-- I don't want to get googly-eyed for Colt McCoy – basically I don't want to make the mistakes I made during the Kirk Cousins era. But let's also note Cousins provided a bunch downfield connections – an 8.4 YPA is terrific, and most of his stat indicators are league-average or better.
Ultimately, Cousins lost his role because of a recurring interception problem, and I don't blame the Redskins for reacting strongly to that. But here's the bottom line: Washington has a boatload of dangerous offensive pieces, and someone has a chance to be a zesty fantasy factor in the QB chair. Maybe that's McCoy, maybe that's Griffin, maybe that's Cousins again, I don't know. Is Joe Theismann still in game shape? Washington's shaky defense also provides some backboard for the quarterbacks.
-- The Jacksonville offensive line has taken a lot of heat this year, and it's justified criticism. These guys aren't playing well. But sometimes an offensive line gets sold down the river by the poor choices of the skill players it's blocking for. That was probably the case here: the blocking looks worse when it's the genesis of a Toby Gerhart carry or a Chad Henne wait-for-the-sack moment. At least we're spared of both of those things now: Denard Robinson and Blake Bortles at least give this offense a chance to move the ball, stay somewhat competitive.
-- I understand Rueben Randle is physically gifted and he's still just 23, but it's frustrating to watch him doing so little with the heavy volume the Giants send his way. Queue the recurring Randle Rant.
Randle is second among wideouts in red-zone targets, but he has just two touchdowns. Randle is 15th at his position in overall targets, but he's managed just 321 yards. And 5.5 yards per target, are you kidding me?
The best receivers are both explosive and reliable; the lesser receivers need to be one or the other. If you make a lot of chunk plays, I'll excuse a low catch rate. If you catch a high percentage of your targets, I can live with a lower YPC. Randle's 63-percent catch rate would be fine if he wasn't averaging just 9.4 yards per catch.
Even with Victor Cruz lost for the season, the Giants don't need Randle to be the focal point of the offense. Odell Beckham is making plays right out of the box. Larry Donnell, fumbles aside, is coming off a 90-yard game (and he's still the No. 8 overall tight end). Rashad Jennings is closing in on a return. At some point, the Giants need to ask themselves why Randle is getting such a heavy share of the offense's usage.
Find the Randle sympathizer in your league. They're out there.
No matter what you expected from the Jacksonville Jaguars running game entering the season, the team has no doubt disappointed you.
After six weeks, the biggest single-game rushing total delivered by any Jaguars back had been Toby Gerhart's 42-yard performance in the opener — and he'd needed 18 carries to get there.
On Sunday, Denard Robinson set the bar a bit higher. By the end of the first quarter against Cleveland, Robinson had already rushed for 62 yards on seven carries. He would eventually finish with 127 yards on 22 attempts, with a nifty 8-yard touchdown run included. You can catch the highlights right here, if for some reason you weren't glued to the CLE-JAC clash as the drama was unfolding.
On many of Robinson's more significant gains, we should note, the Jaguars' O-line simply dominated Cleveland's defensive front, opening wide rushing lanes. For example, this was the setup on Denard's first carry...
...and it resulted in a 14-yard pickup. Too easy. I'm pretty sure Brad Evans could have picked up four or five yards right there, while carrying Funston on his shoulders, pulling Pianowski and me on a sled.
Robinson took full advantage of his opportunities on Sunday, nearly doubling his career NFL rushing output. He ran with power and patience, generally looking like a classically trained running back. Denard entered the league as a man without a well-defined position, likely a gimmick player — a guy who'd spent his collegiate career as a run-first shotgun QB. But in Week 7, against a user-friendly Browns defense, he was simply a high-quality feature back.
"Yeah, that was good to do it against an Ohio team," said Robinson in his postgame comments, because he's as Michigan as it gets.
Moving forward, we obviously have to view Denard as a priority fantasy add now that he's atop the backfield hierarchy for the Jags. Robinson is owned in just 8 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment. His team context isn't ideal, of course, but the schedule ahead isn't too intimidating. He also offers rare positional flexibility, as he's eligible at both RB and WR. (Nope, not a glitch. His team officially listed him as a wide receiver entering the year.)
Tre Mason is my Plan A on the wire this week, but Robinson is a solid Plan B.
Toby, you're dismissed.
Russell Wilson had a monster performance Sunday, becoming the first player ever to post 300+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards in the same game and sure doesn’t look like he’ll miss Percy Harvin. Wilson is on pace to finish with 872 rushing yards, and after running for one score over his previous 19 games, he’s scored on the ground in three straight. Wilson became the first QB to eclipse 40 fantasy points this season, and if Seattle’s recent struggles carryover, it would actually be a good thing for his owners…Tre Mason is officially the back to own in St. Louis. He’d be my No. 1 waiver wire priority in Week 8. Zac Stacy, meanwhile, saw one snap and can be dropped in all leagues…The surprising Harvin trade means Doug Baldwin gets a huge upgrade. He won’t be a top-20 fantasy WR in this system but should be plenty useful in deeper formats…The Rams entered with one sack on the season yet recorded three over the span of five snaps Sunday…I’m not sure which St. Louis special teams play was more impressive, this one or this one.
Andy Dalton had 23 passing yards on 19 attempts at halftime. Dalton got 3.3 YPA and took more sacks Sunday (three) than he had previously this season combined. It’s almost as if he’s worse off when A.J. Green is sidelined…Andrew Luck is on pace to finish with 5,328 passing yards, which would be the third-most in NFL history. He’s also projected to add 254 rushing yards with five touchdowns on the ground. In other words, he’s currently in the midst of a historic fantasy season.
Denard Robinson immediately becomes one of the top pickups this week after rushing for 127 yards and a score. Even after being named the starter before the game Sunday, I didn’t expect him to see more than 15 carries, but he’s emerged as Jacksonville’s lead back…Cecil Shorts somehow managed just 12 yards on nine targets. Blake Bortles struggled badly, but Shorts can’t be forgotten, as he’s now seen 25 targets over the past two games…Jordan Cameron, meanwhile, managed five yards on six targets. He’s been a huge bust…Things will get better for Ben Tate, who has a home matchup against the Raiders in Week 8.
A relatively easy schedule has helped, but suddenly the Ravens look like one of the best teams in the NFL…Torrey Smith has as many touchdowns (four) over his past four games as he had over his previous 21…Facing a Falcons defense that entered having allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs, Justin Forsett’s performance almost felt like a letdown, but he’s clearly emerged as the team’s lead back…Matt Ryan has a 9.7 YPA with a 7:1 TD:INT ratio at home this season compared to a 6.2 YPA mark with a 6:6 TD:INT ratio on the road. It’s hard to believe this 2-5 Atlanta team once held a 56-0 lead in the fourth quarter of a game this year.
What Aaron Rodgers did Sunday was almost unfair. Since Week 1, he has a respectable 14:0 TD:INT ratio over six games…Eddie Lacy has four touchdowns over the past four games and has gotten 5.3 YPC over the past three contests, when he’s also secured all six of his targets. Still, he’s seen 15 carries in just one game this season (with a high of 17), which has really hurt his fantasy value…Cam Newton had seven rushing attempts for 41 yards, so despite the lackluster passing day, his value moving forward remains encouraging…The Panthers didn’t allow more than 31 points in any game last season. They’ve already ceded 37 or more in four games this year…Randall Cobb is on pace to catch 21 touchdowns, which would be the third-most in NFL history. He’s 5-10 and doesn’t have more than seven receptions in any game.
With Jimmy Graham active, I moved him just inside my top-10 in the tight end ranks Sunday morning. What a mistake. He’s clearly hobbled and saw just two targets all game…Golden Tate has averaged 11.0 targets over the past four games. He averaged 6.1 with Seattle last season…Brandin Cooks hasn’t scored since Week 1 and is on pace to finish with 741.3 receiving yards…The Saints have lost seven consecutive regular season road games…This Lions defense continues to look legit. They’ve allowed just 3.3 YPC (only three teams have been better) and entered Week 7 having given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
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The Bears are now 0-3 at home and reportedly dealt with some locker room issues. They’ve definitely been a tough team to figure out…Alshon Jeffery somehow got just nine yards on seven targets, while Brandon Marshall gained 48 yards on 10 looks. That’s not ideal…Lamar Miller has four touchdowns over his past three games, and his 18 carries were the second-most he’s ever seen in his career. Just maybe he’ll now start living up to his potential with Knowshon Moreno out for the year.
Not long after Fred Jackson left with a groin injury that has already ruled him out for Week 8, C.J. Spiller was carted off with a season-ending broken collarbone. I’ve always liked Boobie Dixon, but Bryce Brown is suddenly on the fantasy radar a few days after reports suggested he’d never see the field in Buffalo. Too bad for Spiller, who had one carry for 53 yards before departing on a cart with a towel over his head in agony…The Bills entered having allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and yet Jerick McKinnon got 103 rushing yards on 19 carries. He’s impressive…Cordarrelle Patterson can continue to be ignored despite the TD...Sammy Watkins had a breakout game, including this game-winning catch.
After replacing an ineffective Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy’s first pass went for a 70-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon. McCoy completed 10 of his next 11 throws, but those went for a paltry 5.3 YPA. It’s safe to say Robert Griffin has the starting job waiting for him when he’s able to return…Alfred Morris hasn’t reached 100 rushing yards since Week 10 of last season. He’s averaged 3.45 YPC since Week 1 this year…Kendall Wright has more touchdowns (three) on his last 18 targets than he had all of last season, when he saw 139 looks.
Alex Smith continues to play at a high level, as he dealt with some really bad drops by Dwayne Bowe and another that would have maybe gone for a long touchdown by Junior Hemingway. Smith still completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 7.9 YPA and has posted an 8:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four games. A.J. Jenkins inexplicably ran out of bounds on a sure 72-yard touchdown catch. The mishap means the Chiefs remain without a TD catch by a wide receiver this season…This Antonio Gates catch was nice…And this sick Jamaal Charles TD run actually resulted in Brandon Flowers leaving the game with a concussion…You have to like the 10 targets, but Keenan Allen has reached 60 yards in one of seven games this season. He’s scored in none…Philip Rivers’ NFL record of recording a QB Rating of 120.0 or more in five straight games came to an end.
Police Blotter: Nurse Accused Of Killing 38 Patients She Found Annoying…10-Year-Old Boy Charged With Homicide In Killing Of 90-Year-Old Lady…Minors Arrested After Showing Up Drunk To Bail Out Friend In Jail…Connecticut Man Accused Of ‘Mopping Aggressively’…Drunken Zombie Santa Wakes In Strangers’ St. Paul Home, Police Say…Teen Charged After Leaving Waitress Tip Covered In Fecal Matter…Man Joins Chicago Marathon While Trying To Run From Police.
Andre Ellington’s YPC has dropped from 5.5 last season to 3.7 this year, although he has seen 25 targets over the past three games. He totaled 160 yards Sunday, but Stepfan Taylor scored two touchdowns to his none…At home and facing an Arizona secondary that entered having allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, James Jones and Andre Holmes (who had totaled 334 yards and four TDs over previous two games) managed a combined 69 yards and no scores on 13 targets…Oakland has now lost 12 straight games…In the three games in which Michael Floyd has played with Carson Palmer this year, he’s averaged 70.3 yards with two touchdowns. In the other three contests, he’s averaged 46.7 yards with zero scores.
DeMarco Murray became the first back in NFL history to start a season with seven straight 100-yard rushing games. He left briefly to get his ankle taped, but even with his injury history, it’s hard not to treat him as the No. 1 fantasy player right now…Dallas entered the week as the league’s best team when it comes to converting third-down conversions before going 9-of-14 on Sunday…Larry Donnell caught all seven of his targets for 90 yards, but his two lost fumbles negated all of that…Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. are both must starts with Victor Cruz out for the year…Gavin Escobar has more touchdowns (three) over the past two weeks than Jason Witten has had over his previous 10 games.
Longread of the Week: “Finding A Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich – Then Vegas Made Them Pay.”
The 49ers were traveling after playing on the road on Monday night against a tough Denver team in primetime with a litany of important players on the inactive list with an upcoming bye, so this outcome wasn’t exactly shocking…Congrats to Peyton Manning for breaking the TD record. He carved up an S.F. defense that entered having allowed an NFL low 5.9 YPA, completing 84.6 percent of his passes while getting 12.2 YPA with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio and a 157.2 QB Rating before sitting out the fourth…Both Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders’ touchdowns were their first of the season. Meanwhile, Demaryius Thomas has totaled 26 receptions for 521 yards and five scores over the past three games.
More from Yahoo's fantasy experts on Week 7's developments
The usual NFL screwiness is about in Week 7. Let's reconvene, talk about all things football, real and fake.
And if you want to talk about other sports, or go completely off the board, I'm fine with that, too.
Entering play on Sunday, Seattle's defense had allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season, and they'd held opposing ball-carriers to just just 3.1 yards per carry. The only back to top the 60-yard mark against the Seahawks had been DeMarco Murray, the NFL's leading rusher. Whatever else went wrong for the defending Super Bowl champs, the team's D was still stuffing the run.
But not this week.
St. Louis rookie Tre Mason carried the ball 18 times against Seattle on Sunday, gaining a team-high 85 yards. His afternoon included a 6-yard touchdown run, the first score of his pro career, and he broke off his second 20-plus yard gain in as many weeks. Benny Cunningham got the start for the Rams, but Mason carried the mail. (He also dropped a piece of mail, but his team kinda/sorta recovered.)
Mason was barely a rumor in September, but he's been a revelation in October. He's received 24 touches over the past two weeks — in degree-of-difficulty matchups — and he's converted them into 137 scrimmage yards. This week, Mason out-carried Cunningham 18-to-2.
Zac Stacy? He played just one snap in Week 7, and he didn't touch the football. Stacy an easy drop in fantasy, except in the deepest leagues.
Mason, clearly, is the guy you want in the Rams backfield. He should be well-known to anyone who was even vaguely aware of college football last season, as he piled up 1,816 rushing yards and 24 TDs at Auburn. He's a recommended fantasy play moving forward, despite the less-than-ideal NFC West schedule. Mason has had his issues in pass-pro, but there's no denying his ability as a runner. The kid has already demonstrated that he can overcome a challenging matchup, too.
Add and enjoy.
• Another week, another heroic game-winning drive for Kyle Orton. This is exactly how you expected Buffalo's season to play out, right? Of course it is. Orton fed Sammy Watkins early and late on Sunday, as the rookie wideout finished with nine catches, 122 yards and two scores on 14 targets against Minnesota, once again demonstrating his WR1-level talent. He caught the game-winner, naturally. Now that Watkins has a competent QB, you really need to think of him as an every-week, no-doubt fantasy start.
Despite the win, things did not go according to script for the Bills on Sunday. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller were lost to injuries, and both were carted off. So that's awful. It's a groin injury for Fred, and a collarbone for C.J....
Source: C.J. Spiller will have surgery tomorrow to repair broken collarbone, and he is done for the season.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 19, 2014
Brutal. Anthony Dixon handled the rushing workload when the lead backs went down. Bryce Brown should enter the mix next week, presumably in a significant way. Brown is the high-ceiling back, the big-play threat. For me, he's the Bills back to chase on the wire.
• I would refer to Aaron Rodgers as "surgical," but that's almost an insult to his skill level. How many surgeons are as precise as Rodgers? Not many, I'd guess. He went a ridiculous 19-for-22 on Sunday, shredding Carolina's defense, averaging 11.6 yards per attempt and tossing three TD passes. He's obscene, really. As good as it gets.
• Andy Dalton? Yeah, he is definitely not as good as it gets — or at least he wasn't on Sunday. The Bengals were shut out at Indianapolis, and the offense was a three-and-out machine. Cincy finished with just 135 total net yards of offense (2.5 per play), which is kind of insane. The Bengals D has allowed 107 total points over the team's last three games, so that unit isn't covered in glory, either. They host the Ravens, Jaguars and Browns in the coming weeks, so at least the schedule gets somewhat friendlier.
• Larry Donnell resurfaced for the Giants in New York's 31-21 loss at Dallas, hauling in seven balls on as many targets for 90 yards. The Cowboys have been indifferent to tight end production basically all year, and it continued on Sunday. Buzzy rookie Odell Beckham Jr. delivered the biggest fantasy line for Big Blue, snagging a pair of TD passes on six targets. If he's still available in your league ... well, wow. Address that situation, please.
Andre Williams once again did nothing of note, averaging 2.8 YPC and catching nothin' on three targets. Rashad Jennings owners, you've got no reason to worry.
• Andre Ellington was the unrivaled king of the Andres on Sunday. (Thanks for playing, Williams and Holmes.) Ellington led the Cards in both rushing and receiving, finishing with an even 160 scrimmage yards at Oakland. He managed to handle 30 touches (six receptions), though he didn't break the plane. Stepfan Taylor poached the TDs, annoyingly enough, scoring twice on 14 touches. You can't reasonably expect Taylor to achieve fantasy relevance while running behind Ellington, but it's worth noting his role near the goal-line.
• Drew Brees completed throws to nine different receivers in his team's late collapse at Detroit, but Jimmy Graham was a no-show. He saw two targets officially, catching neither. By the end of the game, he no longer stressed the Lions defense...
Quin: Jimmy Graham was more of a decoy out there in 2 minute, we weren't worried about him— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 19, 2014
The best thing we can say about Graham's day is that he didn't re-injure himself (we think). Perhaps there's a buy-low opportunity here.
Golden Tate was a monster in Calvin Johnson's absence, catching 10 balls on 13 targets for 154 yards and one score. The touchdown was a late game-changing 73-yarder on which Tate did most of the heavy lifting, roasting the Saints' secondary.
• Oh, hey, look. Jacksonville finally found a useful running back. Denard Robinson shredded the Browns for 127 yards on 22 carries, with an 8-yard touchdown included. I'm not gonna look it up, but I'm guessing Robinson's rushing total topped the previous single-game high for the 2014 Jags by like 107 yards. He is now the only Jacksonville RB on the approved list for fantasy purposes. Robinson also has a useful (and rare) dual position-eligibility situation that gamers will appreciate.
If you streamed the Cleveland D this week you weren't burned too badly, despite the fact that Jacksonville won, because Blake Bortles generously tossed three picks. Next week, the Jags host Miami.
• If you haven't yet seen Jamaal Charles' 16-yard Tecmo touchdown run, make sure you hit the link. He left a trail of humiliated Chargers behind him, before being walloped in the end-zone. Charles is simply unfair — possibly something more than human. When you erase Priest Holmes from the Chiefs' record book, you're pretty damn good.
• If you asked me to find a single play to summarize the Bears' loss to Miami on Sunday, it would have to be this Shea McClellin face-plant on Charles Clay's 13-yard touchdown. That's, um ... not good. Something less than a footwork clinic.
We shall speak no more of Bears.
• Torrey Smith gave us another quality stat-line, taking advantage of a mostly helpless Atlanta on Sunday. Smith finished with 81 yards on three catches, and he hauled in a late 39-yard score. So there's more to him than PI flags. Joe Flacco followed up his five-touchdown binge in Week 6 with a 258-yard, two-TD, two-INT line against the Birds — not terrible, but not all we'd hoped for. Justin Forsett again dominated the touches in the Ravens backfield (23-95-0), but Bernard Pierce snagged the rushing score.
A few potential adds for your consideration, as you prepare to drop Steven Jackson...
EARLY PICKUPS FOR WEEK 8
QB Kyle Orton, Buf (at NYJ)
QB Ryan Tannehill, Mia (at Jac)
QB Robert Griffin III, Was (at Dal)
RB Tre Mason, STL (at KC)
RB/WR Denard Robinson, Jac (vs. Mia)
RB Benny Cunningham, STL (at KC)
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (bye)
WR Doug Baldwin, Sea (at Car)
WR Allen Robinson, Jac (vs. Mia)
WR Jordan Matthews, Phi (at Ari)
WR Davante Adams, GB (at NO)
TE Charles Clay, Mia (at Jac)
DEF Cleveland (vs. Oak)
DEF Miami (at Jac)
When you think of Kyle Orton, professional quarterback, the word "journeyman" jumps to mind. He's been with five teams over nine seasons. He's never thrown a pass in the playoffs or a Pro Bowl. His regular facial hair has received more ink than his passing stats.
But if Orton can keep getting the ball to hotshot Buffalo rookie Sammy Watkins, fake-football owners will gladly overlook the pedestrian resume.
Orton and Watkins hooked up nine times for 122 yards and two scores in Sunday's dramatic victory over Minnesota, including the game-winning points with just one second remaining. Here's Watkins winning in the left corner of the end zone, and here's Watkins running past defenders on the other sideline. In upstate New York, it really makes you wanna shout.
If you need validation on Buffalo's QB change, consider what both passers have done with the dynamic Watkins. EJ Manuel's 31 Watkins targets turned into a 54.8 completion percentage and 6.4 YPA, mediocre numbers. Orton's completed 62 percent of his 29 Watkins attempts, good for an 8.1 YPA - and that's despite a Week 6 game against Darrelle Revis and the Patriots.
In short, Orton's steady game pushes Watkins into the fantasy Circle of Trust. Be ready to use No. 14 next week against the unsteady Jets secondary.
Watkins's heroics came at a perfect time for the Bills, as they lost C.J. Spiller (collarbone) and Fred Jackson (groin) earlier in the game. Spiller could be out a couple of months. There's no timetable on Jackson yet. Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, anyone?
Checking in with some other Booms from Sunday's Week 7:
-- Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: It's going to be a long flight home for the slumping Seahawks, who have to wonder how they gave away a game in St. Louis despite a 463-272 edge in scrimmage yards. A Seattle team that looked untouchable a month ago is a mere 3-3 now.
The magnificent Wilson did all he could, throwing for 313 yards and two scores and rushing for another 106 yards and a third touchdown. Sometimes the pocket scrambling comes with a price - the dormant Rams defense woke up with three sacks - but otherwise Wilson played about as well as a player can in a loss.
Baldwin stepped up nicely in the absence of Percy Harvin, snagging 7-of-11 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. The mercurical Harvin had just 133 receiving yards when he packed his bags for New York on Friday.
-- The Robinsons of Jacksonville: The Jaguars finally posted a 2014 victory, rolling past Cleveland in a decisive 24-6 victory. Second-year slash player Denard Robinson took control of the backfield, carrying 22 times for 127 yards and a score. Not everyone is confident Robinson can continually handle this type of workload - he's listed as a modest 197 pounds and had constant injury problems at Michigan - but the heavy volume wasn't an issue in Week 7.
Another Robinson with a Big Ten pedigree, Allen Robinson of Penn State, grabbed the pass-receiving headlines (4-60-1 on seven targets). The Jacksonville coaching staff has been high on Robinson all year, and he might settle in as the team's preferred target for the rest of the year.
-- Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts: Go ahead, keep giving Trent Richardson the heavier workload, it doesn't bother Bradshaw at all. The rock-solid understudy did his thing against the Bengals, scoring on the ground (10-52-1) and by the air (3-36-1), a dynamite fantasy day on just 13 touches. Maybe the Colts know what they're doing after all, using Bradshaw liberally but being careful not to wear him down (especially on the day of a 27-point victory). Next on the hit list: Pittsburgh, NY Giants, New England.
Some Other Boomers: Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Golden Tate, Gavin Escobar, Jerick McKinnon.
And on the Bust side of the equation:
-- Browns Rushing Game: A date in Jacksonville usually is a cushy assignment, but Cleveland never got a thing going in a 24-6 loss Sunday. Ben Tate managed one 18-yard jaunt; his other 15 carries went for 18 collective yards. Isaiah Crowell, seven totes for 18 yards. Terrance West, five carries for eight yards. The Browns did get 112 receiving yards from Andrew Hawkins, but Brian Hoyer didn't have the best of days (5.2 YPA, one pick, 46.3 rating). Part of this flat-tire can be attributed to the absence of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, who's out for the season.
-- Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: Well, it was fun while it lasted. Stacy's 2013 surprise season carried many of us to fantasy football titles, but the Rams have apparently moved on. Stacy played just one snap in the victory over the Seahawks, while Tre Mason (18-85-1) and Benny Cunningham (seven touches, 49 yards, one score) lugged the mail. If you want a closer look at this backfield, look for the comprehensive Andy Behrens wrap later tonight.
-- Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: While we respected the Colts defense entering Week 7, we didn't exactly consider it a shutdown unit. Maybe that's our mistake. Dalton chucked the ball 38 times in Naptown and did nothing with the opportunity: 126 yards, no touchdowns, no points. Many of the connections were inconsequential dump-offs to tight end Jermaine Gresham (10-48, 12 targets). Cincicnnati is 0-2-1 since its feel-good bye week, and a home game against surging Baltimore next week won't be easy.
-- Seahawks Defense and Special Teams: It's hard to imagine these units playing any worse than they did in the stunning loss at St. Louis. The Rams had a 90-yard punt return touchdown on a gadget play, and another kick return went for 70 yards. A daring fake punt deep in Rams territory helped St. Louis secure the upset, though it wasn't complete until Seattle's comical fumble-recovery fail on the game's last contested snap.
St. Louis finished the day 19-of-22 passing, with two touchdowns, no picks or sacks, and a 129.2 rating. Whatever you paid for Seattle's defense on draft day, it was a regretful purchase.
Some Other Busters: Jimmy Graham, Any Falcon not named Roddy White, Justin Hunter, Alfred Morris, Cam Newton, Reggie Wayne.
Five picks against the Yahoo Pro Football PickEm spread, that's how we roll here. Share your five best in the comments.
Zig-zag theory insists you use the Giants +6.5. New York just got embarrassed on National TV, and the Cowboys had a very public win at Seattle, too. Be wary of outlier results, and take the line value that ensues from them.
If you trust a coach, you want to invest in him after a bye week. Andy Reid +4 and Sean Payton +3, those will be two of our tickets.
I can't in good conscience spot a big number with a very flawed Washington team. Tennessee has plenty of playmakers, if Ken Whisenhunt feels like unlocking them for once. Titans +5.5 will go to post.
Back with the plucky Raiders +3.5, liking what Derek Carr brings to the table with his two primary wideouts (Holmes, Jones). Arizona's overrated secondary has been toasted all season.
Last Week: 1-4
All things considered, it's a reasonable injury report this late in the season. That established, there are some big names at the top of the tight end and wide receiver crew. Get your clipboards and co-pays, let's do this.
• Jimmy Graham (shoulder) had limited workouts Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable. We probably won't know until game-time if he'll play at Detroit. At least it's an early start, so there's time to make adjustments, as needed.
• The Bengals list A.J. Green (toe) as doubtful, but he's not going to play. He's still out indefinitely. Mohamed Sanu has been terrific of late and should see plenty of looks against Indianapolis.
• Every logical sign points to Calvin Johnson (ankle) missing another game. He's week-to-week. Detroit plays Atlanta next week, then has a Week 9 bye (along with five other teams).
• Kevin Benjamin (post concussion) had a good session Friday and appears to be on target to play at Green Bay, though he still needs to be cleared by an outside doctor. We might have resolution on this situation 24 hours prior to kickoff.
• Jarrett Boykin (groin) is questionable, albeit Davante Adams is already ahead of him on the depth chart.
• Harry Douglas (foot) remains out, setting up Devin Hester for extra snaps at Baltimore. Julio Jones (ankle) is listed as probable.
• With Eric Ebron (hamstring) and Joseph Fauria (ankle) both out for the Lions, Brandon Pettigrew should have a bigger role than normal.
• Percy Harvin (thigh) will get extra rest time now that he's on the Jets. Basically it's another bye week for Harvin, who will also rest in Week 11 with the rest of Rex Ryan's crew.
• The Texans are taking it easy with Andre Johnson (ankle) but he's still on target to play Monday against Pittsburgh. Saturday is the key practice day here.
• Eddie Royal (elbow) is listed as probable, if you need a Hail Mary against the Chiefs.
• Ryan Mathews (knee) and Donald Brown (post concussion) remain out for San Diego, so it will once again be the Branden Oliver show against Kansas City.
• Toby Gerhart (foot) won't dress against Cleveland. The Jags will use a committee approach with their Week 7 backfield, which brings Storm Johnson, Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson into the mix. Good luck with those guys.
• Reggie Bush (ankle) had a full practice Friday and is listed as probable. He should take a sizable role in the New Orleans game.
• Arian Foster (groin) had a full practice Friday and is on target for Monday's showdown with Pittsburgh.
• Rashad Jennings (knee) is still aiming for a Week 9 return. The Giants play at Dallas on Sunday, then have the following week off. Andre Williams starts in the meantime.
• Shonn Greene (hamstring) has already been scratched, setting up Bishop Sankey for another start.
• Jonathan Stewart (knee) had a full week and is set to start at Green Bay. Ah, the quicksand of the Carolina backfield.
• Lamar Miller (knee) is listed as probable. Look for him to get plenty of work at Chicago, now that Knowshon Moreno is completely out of the picture.
• The Saints list Pierre Thomas (illness) and Mark Ingram (hand) as probable, so both of them figure to play at Detroit.
• Terrance West has a chance to dress this week, after being a healthy scratch in Week 6. Cleveland did just fine without him in the victory over Pittsburgh, with Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell running well.
• Carson Palmer (shoulder) had a solid week and is listed as probable. Barring a last-second setback, he'll go at Oakland.
• Jake Locker (thumb) had a limited week and didn't do much Friday, making it unlikely that he'll play at Washington. Charlie Whitehurst is the fallback option.
• Derek Carr (ankle/knee), Tony Romo (ankle/ribs) , and Ryan Tannehill (ankle) are all listed as probable.
The Shuffle Up series is all about value to come. What's happened to this point is merely an audition. How would you rank the players if you were starting from fresh today? (These are not Week 7 ranks; if you need those, please click here.)
The dollar values are merely comparison tools; they're not assembled in any scientific way. Players at the same position are considered even. We're aiming to illustrate tiers, show where the pockets of value are.
You'll disagree with some things (perhaps many things) because that's why we have a game in the first place. Share your respectful disagreement in the comments. (Running backs and tight ends are shuffled in the even weeks.)
$31 Peyton Manning
$30 Andrew Luck
$30 Aaron Rodgers
$28 Philip Rivers
$27 Jay Cutler
$25 Drew Brees
$23 Matt Ryan
$23 Colin Kaepernick
$22 Cam Newton
$21 Russell Wilson
$21 Tony Romo
$20 Nick Foles
The overwhelming play volume in Indianapolis is driving a large part of Luck's value. The Colts are the runaway leader in snaps per week. Mind you, playing cohesive football is also a large part of that story. Luck's attempted 56 passes in the red zone, 29 inside the 10, and 11 inside the five. Last year, he finished at 72-25-10 in those categories. He's also second in the league in red-zone rushes among quarterbacks; only Colin Kaepernick has more totes in that area of the field . . . Given how little the Seahawks were using Percy Harvin, I'm not making a post-trade adjustment to Wilson's value . . . A lot is made of Brees's home-road splits in recent years, but let's also note the homer tendencies of Ryan. He has a career 98.1 rating and 7.6 YPA at home, compared to 84.7 and 6.9 on the road. His touchdown rate is stable in both locations, but his completion percentage dips and his interception rate jumps when outside of Georgia. The differences are gigantic thus far in 2014, largely due to the obliteration of Tampa Bay last month.
My September stance on Foles hasn't changed at all: I love his setup (elite skill players and a progressive coaching staff), but I'm still not sure how good he really is. A spot in the Top 12 isn't a glaring condemnation; that still makes him a weekly starter in most formats.
Foles's red-zone play has to get a lot better; his 69.4 rating in that area is the worst in the league among qualified starters. Romo's also struggling there, grading in the mid-70s. The Top 10, all well over 100: Wilson, Peyton Manning, Ryan, Orton, Hoyer, Cousins, Brady, Smith, Rivers and Davis.
$18 Tom Brady
$17 Carson Palmer
$17 Matthew Stafford
$14 Eli Manning
$13 Joe Flacco
$13 Andy Dalton
$12 Alex Smith
$11 Ben Roethlisberger
$10 Mike Glennon
Seven of the Top 15 ADP quarterbacks are tied to a positive winning percentage in Yahoo fantasy leagues, according to our friends at Automated Insights. Luck's teams are winning 62.6 percent of the time, followed by Rivers (58.3), Manning (55.4) and Cutler (54.0). Not counting the injured Robert Griffin III, the biggest Top 15 bust has been Tom Brady (44.8 percent), though Brees (45.6 percent) and Stafford (46.3 percent) aren't far behind.
Here's a quirky Glennon stat: he's thrown for multiple touchdowns in 11 of his 16 pro starts, but he's never thrown for more than two. He's given us two scoring tosses (against one interception) in all three of his 2014 starts. I'd like to think the Bucs are finally seeing the error of their Josh McCown signing, especially with this season already in the dumpster. Glennon's emergence has unlocked Vincent Jackson; Glennon has an 83.0 rating when throwing to Jackson (39 attempts), compared to McCown's putrid 14.0 rating (20 attempts) when firing to No. 83.
$9 Kyle Orton
$9 Austin Davis
$9 Blake Bortles
$8 Ryan Tannehill
$7 Kirk Cousins
$7 Brian Hoyer
$6 Derek Carr
If Griffin were out for the year, I'd have Cousins in double-digits without any hesitation. Sure, he's made a few loose throws here and there, but he's also clicking with DeSean Jackson and his tight ends, and he throws a much better deep ball than anyone expected . . . Carr's pocket awareness is advanced for a rookie, and the Raiders actually kept the pocket clean in Week 6's shoout against the Chargers. Carr has entered the QB2 discussion, and his solid play keeps Andre Holmes and James Jones fantasy-relevant . . . While the jury is still out on Tannehill, it's a joke he had to twist in the wind prior to the London game. What an amateur grandstanding show from head coach Joe Philbin. Miami has gotten its sack problem under control - just 10 dumps this year, after 58 last season. But Tannehill's skimpy 6.2 YPA needs to come up significantly. Tannehill has yet to rush for a touchdown, but he's averaging a sneaky 20 rushing yards per game.
$5 Jake Locker
$4 Geno Smith
$3 Ryan Fitzpatrick
$3 Teddy Bridgewater
$1 Charlie Whitehurst
$0 EJ Manuel
$0 Josh McCown
$0 Chad Henne
$0 Drew Stanton
$0 Jimmy Clausen
$31 Antonio Brown
$31 Jordy Nelson
$31 Demaryius Thomas
$30 Julio Jones
$30 Dez Bryant
$28 Brandon Marshall
$26 Alshon Jeffery
$25 Jeremy Maclin
$24 Randall Cobb
$23 A.J. Green
$23 Calvin Johnson
$22 DeSean Jackson
$21 Mike Wallace
$21 T.Y. Hilton
$21 Emmanuel Sanders
$21 Vincent Jackson
There are three players who have four catches in the red zone but no touchdowns to show for it: Percy Harvin, Emmanuel Sanders, and Justin Brown. Sanders only has four targets in the area, period. He doesn't have the ideal skill set for goal-line dominance, but eventually someone this good has to score, even by accident. No post-merger player has ever topped 1,000 yards receiving without a touchdown; 13 different players have pulled off the 1000 yards with just one or two scores (Harry Douglas and Kendall Wright did it last season).
Give the Ravens credit for unlocking the big-play ability of Steve Smith. Senior's four touchdowns this year have come from 21, 56, 61 and 80 yards. Contrast this to last year, when Smith scored four times but they were all from modest distances (2, 3, 17, 19). Smith only had two long touchdowns (30 yards or more) in his entire time with Cam Newton; the last one came in October, 2011.
$20 Steve Smith
$19 Kelvin Benjamin
$18 Golden Tate
$18 Michael Floyd
$16 Julian Edelman
$16 Michael Crabtree
$16 Andre Johnson
$15 Mohamed Sanu
$15 Pierre Garcon
$14 Andre Holmes
$14 Terrance Williams
$14 Eric Decker
$13 DeAndre Hopkins
$13 Roddy White
$13 Keenan Allen
$12 Reggie Wayne
$12 Sammy Watkins
$12 Larry Fitzgerald
$11 Brian Quick
$11 James Jones
$11 Malcom Floyd
$11 Rueben Randle
EJ Manuel throwing to Watkins: 17-for-31, 197 yards, two TDs, no picks. Kyle Orton throwing to Watkins: 9-for-15, 114 yards, no TDs, one pick. The rating is going to side with Manuel because of the TD/INT ratio, but long-term I certainly prefer Orton for Watkins's value (higher completion percentage, better YPA). And keep in mind one of the Orton/Watkins games was mucked up by the presence of Darrelle Revis. Much better days are ahead . . . Austin Davis has a 107.9 rating when he throws to Brian Quick, an 84.0 rating when he throws to Kenny Britt, and a 67.8 rating when he throws to Jared Cook (I don't think Cook's sideline complaining is factored into that stat) . . . Floyd and Fitzgerald have a chance so long as Carson Palmer is on the field. Palmer is 9-for-14 chucking to Floyd (166 yards, TD) and 7-for-10 when he aims for Fitzgerald (120 yards, one score). Drew Stanton checks in this way: 6-for-18 with Floyd (130 yards), 12-for-22 with Fitzgerald (142 yards). Stanton's best moments by far came when he threw for John Brown (9-for-17, 84 yards, two TDs), likely because of second-team chemistry and familiarity.
$10 Brandin Cooks
$10 Mike Evans
$10 Cecil Shorts
$9 Brandon LaFell
$9 Torrey Smith
$8 Odell Beckham Jr
$8 Justin Hunter
$7 Josh Gordon
$7 Marques Colston
$7 Percy Harvin
$6 Anquan Boldin
$6 Wes Welker
$6 Doug Baldwin
$5 Allen Hurns
$5 Kendall Wright
$5 Jordan Matthews
$5 Davante Adams
$5 Hakeem Nicks
It's possible I could have Harvin too low; a mecurial player is often best utilized immediately after a change of scenery. Remember how Manny Ramirez went ballistic right after his trade to Los Angeles? Mind you, no one had to help Ramirez hit; Harvin's potential is directly tied to how well Geno Smith plays and how effectively Marty Morhinweg manufactures touches . . . Shorts would chase into the $12-14 area if not for the health concerns . . . If Riley Cooper got hurt or simply went away, I'd double the price on Matthews immediately.
$4 Eddie Royal
$4 Cordarrelle Patterson
$4 Andrew Hawkins
$4 Dwayne Bowe
$4 Markus Wheaton
$3 John Brown
$3 Miles Austin
$3 Allen Robinson
$3 Robert Woods
$3 Jermaine Kearse
$2 Louis Murphy
$2 Devin Hester
$2 Andre Roberts
$2 Steve Johnson
$2 Greg Jennings
$2 Kenny Britt
$2 Jerricho Cotchery
$2 Ricardo Lockette
$2 Brandon Lloyd
$2 Jarvis Landry
$2 Riley Cooper
$2 Jarius Wright
$2 Jeremy Kerley
$2 Taylor Gabriel
$1 Brian Tyms
$1 Travis Benjamin
$1 Harry Douglas
$1 Brice Butler
$1 Austin Pettis
$1 Brian Hartline
$1 Eric Weems
$1 Lance Moore
$1 Donnie Avery
$1 Jeremy Ross
$1 Kenny Stills
$0 Rod Streater
$0 Mike Williams
$0 Jason Avant
$0 Brandon Tate
$0 Tavon Austin
Everyone who expects to be a fantasy factor in Week 7, take a step forward.
Not so fast, Percy Harvin.
In-season trades are rare in the NFL, which underscores why Friday's news was so shocking. The Seahawks and Jets hooked up on a Harvin trade; New York takes the receiver (and a sizable contract), while Seattle collects a conditional draft pick.
Harvin was no sure thing to play in Week 7 – he's dealing with a sore thigh – but now he's a fantasy scratch, as the Jets played Thursday night in New England. Harvin leads the league in overturned touchdowns and bye weeks. He'll pick up his third holiday when the Jets sit during Week 11.
The deal resonates more in the real league than it does in our pretend-football universe. Harvin's value probably won't dip much with the Jets, given that Seattle wasn't getting much out of him to begin with.
Harvin managed just 133 receiving yards through five games, along with 92 rushing yards (and one score) on 11 carries. He's outside the Top 60 in Yahoo wide receiver scoring. His bizarro signature game came in Washington two weeks back, when penalties wiped out three different Harvin touchdowns.
Nonetheless, he's been a gamebreaker at times before; witness Harvin's Minnesota resume, or the big plays from last February's Super Bowl. There's some theoretical upside here.
Maybe the Harvin addition pushes Geno Smith into stable QB2 range in the second half of the year. At least we're probably spared the Jeremy Kerley ghost sweep action the Jets were playing with. I'll call it a lateral move for Eric Decker – less defensive attention against maybe a slight leak in targets.
I'll give a modest upgrade to the primary Seattle receivers (Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette), but there's no obvious breakthrough candidate here. Seattle played without Harvin just about all of 2013 and still didn't produce an impact fantasy wideout. This is a balanced offense that doesn't force the ball to any downfield option. It's a shame OC Darrell Bevell never found the right key to unlock Harvin.
I'll probably leave Russell Wilson's value alone – he's produced without Harvin before, and they weren't on the same page for most of 2014. Perhaps Marshawn Lynch will get a little extra work, but he was already a Top 5 back on anyone's sheet – how much higher can he really go?
Trades are fun, even when they don't make immediate sense. Let's enjoy this one. Does Seattle know something about Harvin that the rest of the league does not? Did an unhappy Harvin push for the deal? Can a half-season of Harvin shape Smith into a capable pro quarterback? Will one of the Seattle receivers step into WR3 territory? Your take is welcome in the comments.
Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for Week 7.
Eddie Lacy, mired in a legitimate 50-50 snap split with James Starks, standard fantasy points in a generous matchup against Carolina 9.9.
Brandon – OVER. Carolina has allowed seven running backs to reach at least 9.5 fantasy points over its past four games, so clearly there's enough meat on the bone in this matchup to feed both Lacy and Starks. And although the snap count has been even the past couple weeks, the Packers are still calling Lacy's number more often (27 carries to 20 over the past two games). I think Lacy goes for at least 75 YFS and a touchdown against a Panthers defense allowing 5.5 YPC to opposing backs.
Scott – OVER. I'm giving Lacy one more shot here. Carolina's rushing defense is a complete sieve (5.5 YPC allowed, easily the worst in the league), and this looks like a contest the Packers should control (creating a positive game script for Lacy). And if you're thinking about an outgoing Lacy trade, I'd wait until this result is in.
Brad – UNDER. The matchup is extremely favorable, but he must find the end-zone to justify the over. In a dead-even split with Starks, I wouldn't bet he does.
Cam Newton, finally off and running after lighting up Cincy for over 100 yards on the ground, rushing yards this week in Green Bay 54.5.
Andy – Look, I love Cam and think he's a terrific trade target. His second-half schedule is a gift. But this is a huge number for a QB. My assumption is that Jonathan Stewart will return this week and get a bunch of touches against Green Bay's user-friendly run defense. No way Cam finishes with another 15-plus carries. Thus, UNDER.
Brandon – OVER. Sure, I'll bite on this one, which is about half his total from last week. Now that the restraints have been removed for Cam in the ground game, I think it's going to be a lot more of the same thing we saw last week (17/107/1 on the ground). The Panthers' running game has been virtually non-existent and, I think utilizing Cam's feet is how head coach Ron Rivera plans to make up for the backfield woes. At 2-3, Carolina has to go for broke, which means Cam has to keep on runnin'.
Dalton – UNDER. I’m buying into Newton’s return to health and a running threat, but even during the best rushing season of his career, he averaged 46.3 ypg. The Packers have also allowed the second-most rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks this season. But I’m still going under here, as betting on any QB to reach 55 rushing yards in a game isn’t exactly safe.
Ben Roethlisberger, who's underachieved massively in soft matchups this year, passing touchdowns Monday night against Houston 1.5.
Brandon – UNDER. I've whiffed on Roethlisberger the past two weeks, incorrectly thinking he'd have big games. Fool me three times? Nah, I'm going under as Big Ben has been terrible in the red zone (39 pass attempts, five touchdowns) and Houston does a good job of putting pressure on the QB (J.J. Watt leads defensive ends in QB hurries) and covering receivers (top 7 in the NFL in passes defensed).
Dalton – UNDER. Roethlisberger has thrown multiple touchdowns in just two of six games this season and Houston has ceded 1.7 TD passes per game, so I’ll just go with the odds here. Moreover, the Texans have been better against the pass (No. 10 in YPA) than against the rush (No. 20 in YPC).
Andy – I'll say OVER, but not by much. I'll give him two TDs. Pittsburgh's defense sure looks like it's gonna force the Steelers into a few shootouts this season, and it's not as if Houston can't be scored upon. The Texans currently rank 28th at defending the pass (271.5 YPG).
Frank Gore, who according to an Ian Rapoport report had to earn his spot on the Niners roster preseason, total touches Sunday night in Denver 14.5.
Dalton – UNDER. Gore has averaged 19.3 rushing attempts over the past three games, but the 49ers are nearly touchdown underdogs, and the running back has six total targets on the season. Denver has the fewest rushing attempts against them (94) in the NFL.
Brad – UNDER. This game becomes the Peyton Manning record-breaking slobber-fest. Combine that with Gore's slowly diminishing role and difficult matchup (Denver has allowed 2.90 ypc to RBs) and it's conceivable he doesn't touch the ball 10 times.
Scott – I'll sneak this one UNDER because Gore is rarely used as a receiver these days (four catches, six targets). If Denver races out to a lead of more than one score (which is entirely reasonable, given the spread), Gore might wind up on the bench when San Francisco shifts into comeback mode.
Mohamed Sanu, off an earth-shaking 15-120-1 in the kiss-your-sister battle versus Carolina, receiving yards in the follow up at Indy 74.5.
Andy – Good number. I'll take the OVER, because I'm assuming a shootout here. Sanu is pretty clearly the healthiest competent receiver that Cincy has at its disposal these days.
Scott – OVER. I want you to start Sanu anywhere you can. He's scored in back-to-back weeks, he's seen 32 targets over the last three games, and he's capable of running everything in the route tree. He's the obvious No. 1 downfield read while A.J. Green rehabs.
Dalton – OVER. Sanu has averaged 79.5 receiving yards over the past four games, but he saw a whopping 14 targets for 120 yards and a score last week with A.J. Green out. The best guess is Green will remain sidelined in Week 7, making Sanu a must start.
Hot waiver wire pickup Jerick McKinnon, who looks to be in the driver's seat in the Minnesota backfield, total yards against the league's stiffest run defense (Buffalo) 69.5.
Brad – UNDER. The Vikes staff has said they want to get Asiata more involved after 'gifting' him three touches last week. McKinnon should still see 15-17 touches, but the Bills, particularly at home, are virtually impenetrable. Rushers are averaging just 3.44 yards per touch against them. Sharpie me in for 60-65 total yards.
Andy – OVER. I don't think he'll cross the goal line, but I do think we'll see a decent receiving total from McKinnon. We should also note that it's not a given that Matt Asiata won't get a half-share of the snaps, because the Vikes don't seem sold on McKinnon in pass protection. (Remember, the rookie is coming from a collegiate system and role that gave him no meaningful experience in pass pro.)
Brandon – UNDER. Pass protection is an issue for the rookie, as he allowed a sack and four QB hurries last week in an elevated role. That's why we heard head coach Mike Zimmer making noise this week about getting Matt Asiata back into the mix. McKinnon is still likely to be the lead RB, but I expect something close to a workload split, and I don't think that affords either back enough of an opportunity to go over this mark against a defense allowing an NFL-low 2.7 YPC to the RB position.
Larry Donnell, virtually nonexistent over the past two weeks catching just one pass for six yards, receptions on the road against Big D 3.5.
Andy – UNDER. I'm not going to get caught up in the fantasy-points-against argument here. The fact is, the Giants have not been looking Donnell's way, at all. He's seen only one target in two games.
Dalton – OVER. Donnell has one catch on three targets over the past two weeks, but he’d averaged 6.3 catches (while scoring four touchdowns) over the first four games of the season. With Victor Cruz out, Donnell will need to step up, and he faces a Dallas secondary that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year.
Brad – OVER. Down Victor Cruz, Donnell won't be shackled to the line like he has been the past two weeks. Dallas, which has allowed five TEs to cross this mark so far, is the most generous defense to the position in fantasy. A major turnaround is coming for the Giant.
Keenan Allen, who currently ranks outside the top-60 in per game average among WRs and has yet to find the end-zone, touchdowns against KC .5.
Dalton – OVER. I wouldn’t feel great about predicting any WR to score during any week, but Allen had seven touchdowns over the final six games last year. So I’ll go with the lowest common dominator analysis saying he’s “due.” Seriously, Allen has to score some time, right?
Brad – UNDER. Allen logged a tremendous amount of success against KC in two games last year, but he continues to get lost in the shuffle, especially inside the red-zone. Better days are on the horizon, however, this week his TD-less streak extends.
Scott – UNDER, with a heavy sigh. We know Allen isn't getting deep this year (10.6 YPC), but the short stuff is also a problem. Philip Rivers has attempted 19 passes inside the 10-yard line, and Allen hasn't been targeted on any of them. Until the story turns somewhat (Allen did produce in this matchup last year), I'm pumping the brakes. And yes, I know I'm already too late on that move.
BOLD PREDICTION. The one running back under 50-percent started in Yahoo leagues that has the best chance to finish with 15-plus standard fantasy points in Week 7 is ____________.
Brad – ISAIAH CROWELL. Off an 11-77-1 effort, the rookie draws an ultra-friendly matchup, facing a Jags D that's allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the position. Ben Tate will be the primary back, but on a similar workload as Week 6, I foresee another 70 yards and a TD for the Crow.
Scott – BERNARD PIERCE isn't much of a player, but he did get 15 carries in last week's blowout at Tampa, including four red-zone rushes and a cheap touchdown. The Ravens host Atlanta this week, a club that's given up 841 rushing yards and 12 ground TDs. Justin Forsett is clearly the preferred back to own in Baltimore, but I could see deeper-league owners giving Pierce a one-week contract.
Brandon – ISAIAH CROWELL. Even in a backup role, his workload has been decent, as he's garnered 11 carries in three of his past four games. And he's been money in the bank in the red zone, scoring four times on just five carries. Against a soft Jags defense, I think his usual 11-plus touches (though he could see more if Cleveland jumps out to a big lead) could deliver his biggest numbers yet.
Top-Five Buys. Your best bets (versus the spread or over/unders) for Week 7.
Andy – 1) Ten +5 at Was, 2) Cin at Ind OVER 49.5, 3) Mia +3.5 at Chi, 4) Det -2.5 vs. NO, 5) KC +4 at SD
Brandon – 1) JAX +5.5 vs. Cle 2) NYG +6.5 at Dal 3) CHI -3 vs. Mia 4) DEN +7 vs. SF 5) Chicago-Miami under 48
Dalton – 1) ARI -3.5 at Oak 2) NYG +6.5 at Dal 3) CHI -3 vs. Mia 4) JAX +5.5 vs. Cle 5) CAR +7 at G.B.
Scott – 1) Giants +7, 2) Raiders +4, 3) Chargers/Chiefs over 45, 5) Browns-Jags under 45, 5) Bengals-Colts over 49.5.
Brad – 1) StL +7 vs. Sea), 2) Atl/Bal UNDER 49, 3) NYG +6.5 at Dal, 4) Ari/Oak OVER 44.5 5) Den -7 vs. SF
With the landscape at running back in a perpetual state of change, owners not fortunate enough to have rights to DeMarco Murray, Arian Foster or Matt Forte, are being forced to debate full-blown committee backs on a week-in, week-out basis.
On this week’s highly educational program, Melanie Collins will guide our motley crew (Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens and Shaun King) through the RB muck in an attempt to pinpoint the Week 7 values of part-timers James Starks, Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell and Jerick McKinnon. Plus, our on-site physician, Dr. Gregory Horner, will detail what Calvin Johnson’s ‘lingering’ ankle pain means for his rest of season prognosis. As always, we’ll also tend to your pressing fantasy needs.
Here’s how you can join the circus:
Prior to the on-screen madness, the Big Noise and Boss Man will inform and entertain behind the mic on our two-hour pregame simulcast (radio and video). On the docket: Sleepers, busts and shocker specials from every remaining Week 7 game, in-depth discussions about Andre Holmes and we'll reveal our five pillars of fantasy evil. Questions? Get in touch with the boys via the means below:
My 2014 football season might have peaked in May.
The Fantasy Football Index held their magazine Expert Auction in the spring, where I was lucky enough to land DeMarco Murray. I think I was price enforcing, but honestly I can't remember. When we had a post-auction Q&A, I talked about Murray's durability issues, whistled a bit of buyer's remorse.
Of course that's turned into my best team by far, a runaway juggernaut. In the many leagues that followed, I went 0-for-Murray. It's no fun to be sitting this one out.
Murray stands as one of 2014's "Right Answers" to this point, a guy who's winning leagues for people. Seventy-percent of the Top 500 teams in Yahoo have Murray on their roster. Murray's 122 points in Yahoo are about thirty percent higher than the No. 2 back, Matt Forte.
Murray is the league's runaway leader in rushing attempts (42 ahead of LeSean McCoy) and yards (243 clear of Le'Veon Bell), and he also stands first in yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns. And while his gross numbers are indeed, well, gross, he's also giving us consistency every week. That's how you win a fantasy league: big points, no whammys.
Murray's finished fourth, fifth, eighth, third, ninth and fourth in standard RB scoring this year. If you switch to a PPR tilt, he's never been lower than seventh. Working behind what's probably the NFL's best offensive line, he's been fake-football royalty. Murray's worst rushing game still netted 100 yards. His only game without a touchdown nonetheless went for 192 total yards.
In the early days of Yahoo Fantasy Football, a workhorse back wasn't that difficult to find. Murray's per-game scoring average through six weeks (21.7 ppg) is only the seventh-highest push-off in the Yahoo era. You'll remember some of these fantastic stars and starts, grading the initial six weeks of a season: Marshall Faulk 2000 (26.8 ppg), Priest Holmes 2002 (26.6), LaDainian Tomlinson 2006 (26.1), Faulk 2001 (24.3), Holmes 2003 (23.3), Shaun Alexander 2005 (22.7). And Chris Johnson's start in 2009 basically equals Murray this year, at 21.7 ppg.
But Murray's season becomes extra special when you consider two specific pieces of context. First, he's going bonkers in a league that's pass-heavy across the board, and second, he didn't cost an arm and a leg on draft day (many of those historical high-scorers were lottery picks).
If you liked Murray in August, you probably were able to land him, somewhere. His summer ADP was a modest 15.7, the eighth running back off the board. LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Forte, Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch and Montee Ball all went earlier, on average. Peyton Manning, A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall did, too.
So now that we've found Murray, what are we going to do with him? Within Yahoo, owners are becoming understandably hesitant about parting with Murray straight up. One-for-one deals involving Murray dropped 17 percent from Week 4 to Week 5, according to our friends at Automated Insights. Then that number dropped an additional 12 percent from Week 5 to Week 6.
To get a better idea of what route to take, I assembled the Yahoo Fantasy Crew and asked each of them to contribute their state of the Murray address. Their answers are below. And as always, please share your personal answer key in the comments.
Andy Behrens: At some point, the injury-risk argument with Murray becomes inane, doesn't it? He's topped 100 yards in every game this season. He's found the end zone six times in six weeks. His O-line is basically a herd of mastodons. I'm willing to accept A LOT of injury risk when the payoff looks like this. If we were to redraft a 2014 fantasy league today, Murray would be the top player on my board, no question. He's already delivered huge stat lines against the Niners and Seahawks, so there's no sense fretting about any future match-ups. Right now, he's the perfect fantasy back. There's simply no way for fantasy football owners to insulate themselves from injury risk – Calvin is hurt, Green is hurt, Graham is hurt, Charles, Ball, Foster, Ellington, etc. Instead, we need to chase great players in great situations. I'd gladly buy-high on Murray, if you're selling.
Brad Evans: What Murray has achieved through six games is not only historic but truly remarkable. That cannot be disputed. Nearly 70-percent of Yahoo Public League leaders has the rusher on roster. If MVP trophies were handed out in Week 7, he would be the runaway winner.
However, for the savvy owner now is the time to turn a profit on Murray. The man is on pace for a whopping 480 touches, a mind-blowing volume considering the timeshare prevalence in this day and age of the NFL. His pad level has improved, but due to his upright running style, he is a rusher susceptible to lower body injuries. Stretching back to his days in Norman, he’s missed numerous games due to myriad leg and foot setbacks. His 14 games played last year was a pro career best.
His rest-of-season schedule – the 13th-easiest among RBs – is quite favorable, but with his value at its pinnacle, now is the time to entertain trade offers. He’s one awkward ankle bend away from spoiling your championship dreams.
Brandon Funston: I haven't heard much talk about it, but I wonder how much the loss of RT Doug Free (out 3-4 weeks with a sprained foot) will impact Murray's production. A quick check of Murray's directional rushing stats shows that he has averaged 4.7 YPC running between the tackles to the right side (Free's side) compared to 3.4 YPC when running to the left and 3.9 YPC when running up the middle – and he averages over 5.0 YPC running outside the tackles to either side. It seems that Murray has been able to benefit from running (inside) behind one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
I still expect Murray to be a fantasy stud, after all he's leading the league in Missed Tackles and is third in Yards After Contact, so he's making plenty of yards on his own. But expecting 19–plus fantasy points (a total he's reached in all six games so far) with Free out and two of the four toughest fantasy run defenses (WAS, ARI) on the schedule in the next three weeks, is probably wishful thinking. If you are an owner dreaming of acquiring Murray for the fantasy stretch run, maybe a potential short-term dip in Murray's production affords you a discounted buying opportunity.
Dalton Del Don: I unfortunately have zero shares of Murray this season and this coming from someone who still advocated taking running backs early. Not that I actively avoided him, but I can't say I went the extra dollar either. Murray entered the season having missed an average of nearly four games per year over his career, so it’s tempting to recommend selling high. However, he’s always been a talented back, and this Dallas offensive line looks legit. He has 35 broken tackles on the year. No other back has more than 25. It should take quite a haul to deal him. Murray isn't going to continue this pace (he’s projected for 424 rushing attempts), but I see no reason not to treat him as the top fantasy commodity.
Scott Pianowski: I never deem a player untouchable in the fantasy racket. There's some theoretical point where a trade makes sense, no matter the player. If I were fortunate enough to have Murray shares, I'd be open for a Herschel Walker type of mega-deal. Maybe someone in your league will break the bank for one player.
Of course, you better love the offer. If you don't, you pass.
Murray's workload doesn't bother me too much from an accumulation standpoint. I tend to think heavy-use backs get injured simply because they're in the line of fire more often. Should Murray get hurt later this year, I suspect it will be because the wrong hit caught him at the wrong time, not a matter of a heavily-used body breaking down.
I do think the Cowboys should try to handle Murray carefully in games that are already decided; there's no reason to risk him in any blowout situation. But other than that, let's sit back and enjoy the ride. Cowboy Up.
Straight cash homie! In his never-ending quest to pay off his kids' college education early, Brad Evans unveils his FanDuel picks for the upcoming week and explains his reasoning behind them. Make that money, #TeamHuevos.
[Join Brad and play in FanDuel's Week 7 fantasy football league. It's just $10 to enter. First place wins $40,000 and the top 10,102 teams get paid.]
CONTEST RULES AND SCORING
FAKE BUDGET: $60,000
Cam Newton, Car, QB (FanDuel Price: $8,400) – He's got legs. And he knows how to use them. Back to his old, versatile ways, Newton, who had slumped his way to 42 rushing yards in his first four games, found the spring in his step last week in Cincinnati. The QB, showing vintage open-field burst, sprinted his way to a season-best 107 rushing yards. Sam Shields and Co. have grounded many aerial attacks this year, but Green Bay's ineffectiveness up front could make Cam quite the opportunistic runner. Only Cincinnati and Washington have conceded more rushing yards to QBs than the Packers. Something along the lines of 280-300 combined yards and three touchdowns (one rush) is in my fearless forecast.
Justin Forsett, Bal, RB ($6,200) – Pulling away from Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro, the ferret-sized rusher has emerged as the Ravens RB to own. In six games, he's averaged a robust 6.05 yards per touch, notching several 10-plus yard plays. Since Week 2, he's also tucked inside the RB top-20 netting 13.0 fantasy points per game in PPR. Atlanta is abysmal defending versatile rushers. In total, six RBs have eclipsed 90 total yards against them. Even worse, eight of them have scored at least 10 fantasy points. On roughly 14-16 touches, Forsett is a shoo-in for roughly 100 total yards and a TD.
Branden Oliver, SD, RB ($7,400) – The Chargers' hot hand has branded the competition with consecutive scintillating performances. He accounted for 306 total yards and three touchdowns against the Jets and Raiders, gaining an impressive 66.5 percent of his yards after contact. The good times should keep rolling this week against KC. Yes, the Chiefs have surrendered the eighth-fewest fantasy points to RBs this year, but they've also yielded 5.29 yards per carry. They're refreshed off the bye, but the Chargers' commanding offensive line should open plentiful holes for the firecracker to explode through. Another century-mark effort with a TD is on tap.
Demaryius Thomas, Den, WR ($9,100) – He certainly isn't for the thrifty, but with Peyton Manning gunning for NFL history at home and on prime-time, Thomas is sure to have another monster game. San Francisco's secondary has played admirably this year. Among eligible corners, Perrish Cox has given up the third-lowest QB rating at the position (39.4). Chris Culliver, who's allowed a 57.6 catch percentage, isn't too shabby either. Only Michael Floyd has crossed the 70-yard mark against this secondary. Still, given the circumstances, Thomas cranks out a 7-110-1 line.
Brandon Marshall, Chi, WR ($7,700) – Hampered by a tender ankle for several weeks, Marshall finally resembled his usual self last week in Atlanta catching six balls for 113 yards, his first triple-digit effort of the season. Another standout performance is likely. Though they've produced respectable surface numbers, Miami boasts only an average secondary. Targeted 61 times, starting corners Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes have surrendered 41 receptions (67.2 catch percentage). Big physical wideouts Sammy Watkins and Jordy Nelson have given the duo fits. Marshall, constructed from similar materials, poses a serious matchup problem.
Andre Holmes, Oak, WR ($6,000) – Derek Carr has a man-crush on the guy targeting him 20 times over the past two weeks. During that span the pair have connected nine times for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Stunningly, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie have been burned often in coverage this year. Combined the tandem has surrendered 17.34 yards per catch and a 117.8 QB rating. With Carr's confidence growing and Holmes now a prominent downfield presence, their torrid on-field romance surges on. Odds are strong the Raider becomes the fifth 100-yard receiver allowed by Arizona this year.
Jordan Reed, Was, TE ($5,400) – Last week against 'Zona, he resembled the stud that ranked top 10 at the TE position over the first eight weeks of 2013, catching eight passes for 92 yards on 11 targets. Reed could build on that production against a Tennessee defense that often employs zone. A TE has done an end zone jig against the Titans in three straight games. He extends that streak and chips in 50-60 yards.
Shaun Suisham, K, Pit ($4,700) – He's accurate and most importantly CHEAP. Fantastic price for the No. 12 kicker currently in fantasy.
Buffalo Bills D/ST ($5,000) – The Bills have their issues against the pass, but expect them to rattle Teddy Bridgewater in his first appearance at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Minnesota has allowed the third-most fantasy points to D/STs.
Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names who he believes are destined to
implode leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 7 Lames in the comments section below.
See Also: Week 7 Flames
Drew Brees, NO, QB (65 percent started)
Matchup: at Det
Whether in Fantasyland or zombie-apocalyptic Georgia, sometimes you're the cattle, other times the butcher. This week, Brees would pair nicely with a sesame seed bun. He's averaged a robust 314.8 passing yards per game, but the former All-Pro hasn't found the end zone with his usual regularity. If his 28-TD pace holds, it would be his lowest total since 2007, his second year with the Saints. New Orleans' goal-line efficiency on the ground coupled with Darren Sproles' absence are likely reasons for his profitless return. He's crossed the 20-fantasy-point threshold in every game this season, but, without the services of his best weapon, Jimmy Graham, a marginal week could be in store. Keep in mind 35.8 percent of Brees' TD passes since Week 1 last season have gone to the TE. In the recent past, the Lions were one of the more accommodating pass defenses in the league. Once routinely spanked through the air, Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay have played brilliantly. Combined they've allowed a 64.2 QB rating and 52.1 catch percentage. As a unit, Detroit has yet to give up a multi-TD passer and surrendered only 6.33 yards per attempt. And that was against the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning. On the road, Brees, by the standard he established previously, blows.
Fearless Forecast: 28-43, 267 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 19.3 fantasy points
Andre Williams, NYG, RB (51 percent started)
Matchup: at Dal
When Rashad Jennings suffered a knee sprain two weeks ago, the Williams hype machine went into overdrive. His worked up owners, ecstatic about his increased role, threw out adjectives like "must-start," "stud" and "love muffin" when waxing poetically about the rookie's Week 6 value. One humiliating night in Philadelphia later and it's time for everyone to reassess. When he gets a full head of steam, the Boston College product is a load of bricks. As his 57.1 yards after contact percentage proves, he's a tough dude to bring down. However, he's blessed with the elusiveness of a fixed object, struggles in pass protection and is one-sixteenth the receiver of, say, an Alfred Morris. Point blank, he's an average power back with limited upside. The Giants offensive line did him no favors in Philly, but on the year he's averaged a yack-worthy 3.25 yards per carry. Jennings is likely to miss action for the second straight week, but keep your expectations tempered. Thanks to the stellar execution of defensive tackle Henry Melton and linebacker Justin Durant, the Cowboys have crushed naysayers (Me included) who believed only weeks ago they would be a pushover in all facets defensively. They've given up 5.65 yards per carry to RBs this year, but Arian Foster and Zac Stacy are the only rushers to register top-15 days against them. Unless New York actually employs real Giants to run block, Williams will again be the epitome of mediocrity.
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 70 rushing yards, 1 reception, 6 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.3 fantasy points
Frank Gore, SF, RB (68 percent started)
Matchup: at Den
The beginning of the end could already be underway for one of the toughest, most consistent performers to man the RB position this century. According to a recent Ian Rapoport report, the veteran had to earn a roster spot this past summer after the club invested a high draft pick in Carlos Hyde. That tidbit may seem outrageous, especially for a highly productive back who's been the backbone of the Niners organization for the past decade, but based on his dramatic decline over the second half last year, there's truth to it. He looked tremendous against Philly and KC totaling 227 yards and a TD in those efforts, however, he's slowly eroding under the surface. His 46.5 yards after contact percentage is indicative of power lost. More disturbing, in a snug game late in St. Louis, Jim Harbaugh leaned on Hyde to salt away the clock. He could rack a couple more RB2 level games, but his 2014 worth has likely peaked. A difficult road matchup against the Broncos will only solidify that belief. With Von Miller again playing exceptional football, Denver's run D is one of the league's nastiest. RBs are netting just 2.90 yards per carry against it. Rushers have had success in the vertical game against the Broncos, but Gore, with only four receptions on the year, has limitations in that capacity. Seek help elsewhere.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 44 rushing yards, 1 receptions, 3 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 5.4 fantasy points
Keenan Allen, SD, WR (64 percent started)
Matchup: vs. KC
What the heck, Keenan? Without a touchdown and averaging a pedestrian 49.3 receiving yards per game, he's slipped into a deep sophomore slump. Including Antonio Gates, he's the fourth-most valuable receiver on his team. In per game average, he ranks outside the top-60 among fantasy WRs, behind the likes of Travis Benjamin, Ricardo Lockette and Jarvis Landry. Gag. Because Philip Rivers is one bushy beard and "Manifesto" shy of being Karl Marx, Allen has gotten lost in the socialist shuffle. At least, that's what it seems. In truth, Allen's presence has increased compared to last year. A season ago, he accounted for 19.1 percent of San Diego's targets. This year, that number has grown to 21.1 percent. He's seen a slight dip in red-zone looks, but, given his prominent role, he should right the ship soon. However, don't expect him to hit the comeback trail this week. KC corner Sean Smith is among the league's best in pass coverage. He's surrendered a 50.0 catch percentage, 11.5 yards per catch and 76.6 QB rating in five games. Collectively, the Chiefs have allowed only four wideouts to score double-digit fantasy points this year. Brighter days are ahead, but this week, Allen's price tag hits a career low.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.9 fantasy points
Reggie Wayne, Ind, WR (55 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Cin
It won't be long before Wayne receives a call from Canton. The six-time Pro Bowl selection ranks top-10 all-time in receptions and receiving yards. Off a shortened 2013 in which he suffered a catastrophic knee injury, he's rebounded fairly well. He ranks near the top in targets (54) and has posted an identical line as Houston's Andre Johnson (34-419-1). Maybe the former "U" dudes will ride a tandem bike soon too. His subsequent 8.0 fantasy points per game places him barely inside the WR top-36. Because of his high-volume, he's still fairly reliable, but matched against a stringent Bengals secondary, lackluster production is in the forecast. Starting corners Terence Newman and Leon Hall have given up just 9.4 yards per catch to their assignments and a 75.8 QB rating. Only Steve Smith, Julio Jones and Kelvin Benjamin have scored 10-plus fantasy points against them. In total, Cincy has conceded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to WRs. Wayne should again entice 7-9 targets, but an outcome similar to last week (9-4-35-0 at Hou) is in the cards.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.7 fantasy points
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
Reader Record: 27-16, 62.7%
Who, exactly, demanded another prime-time matchup involving New England and New York?
The Pats are like the NFL equivalent of a reliable seven-passenger vehicle with a respectable safety record. The Jets are a sinkhole of despair. The Julian and Geno show is happening, tonight. Hooray, AFC East. Woo.
Here's a pair of widely available names, both approved for use if you're dealing with injuries and/or bye-week issues...
WR Brandon LaFell, NE (24 percent owned, 11 percent started) – Over the past four weeks, LaFell has seen 26 targets, catching 15 for 282 yards and three scores. Yeah, this is the same guy who was a mild disappointment in each of his four seasons in Carolina, but the team context is different these days. LaFell is on pace to establish new career highs in receiving yardage and touchdowns.
Here are the usage stats for the Pats receiving corps in Week 6, via Pro Football Focus:
Julian Edelman – 69 snaps, 11 targets
Rob Gronkowski – 59 snaps, 9 targets
Brandon LaFell – 53 snaps, 6 targets
Michael Hoomanawanui – 41 snaps, 1 target
Danny Amendola – 24 snaps, 0 targets
Tim Wright – 16 snaps, 1 target
Aaron Dobson – 11 snaps, 1 target
Brian Tyms – 8 snaps, 2 targets, one big play
So LaFell is pretty clearly Plan C, and he's a better bet than Edelman to find the end-zone. New York's defense has allowed a league-high 15 touchdown passes while ranking dead-last in interceptions (just one), so the matchup couldn't be much friendlier.
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ (6 percent owned, 3 percent started) – Yup, he's a rookie tight end, and those guys almost never pay the fantasy bills. So that's strike one. And yes, Amaro has had a couple ugly drops this season. So that might be strike two. But Amaro is coming off a 12-target, 10-catch week, finishing with 68 receiving yards and an end-zone spike in the Jets' home loss to Denver. Amaro is a promising player, and his workload is clearly growing. If you're without the injured Jimmy Graham or the vacationing Zach Ertz this week, Amaro is a reasonable fill-in. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if he delivered 50-plus yards and a score.
Group-think can be an especially scary thing when it comes to fantasy football rankings. After all, the unpredictable nature of the NFL game is part of what makes fantasy football so popular, and why some people like to say that the NFL acronym stands for "No F****** Logic." But when one of our Yahoo fantasy football analysts veers particularly far away from the rankings consensus, our curious nature begs for an explanation. So, with that in mind, I've identified two players from our Week 7 rankings that our Yahoo analysts love/hate significantly more than the rest of us, and have asked them to explain their reasoning. I'll kick things off with a couple of my outliers:
Love him: Brandin Cooks, NO, WR - Funston WR rank No. 11 (Yahoo rank No. 25)
The Saints head to Detroit this week without the services of All-World tight end Jimmy Graham, who is dealing with a sore shoulder. No surprise, Graham was Drew Brees' favorite target, leading the Saints with 47 looks in the passing game. Rookie wideout Brandin Cooks is second among Brees' aerial options with 41 targets. No other player on the team really compares to the attention those two have received from Brees - Colston is third with 29 targets, and also trails Cooks in red zone targets (6 to 4). So, if anyone is going to step up significantly for the Saints with Graham gone, I expect it to be the guy that has clearly been Brees' No. 2 option. I expect Cooks to outperform his Week 1 numbers (95 YFS, 1 TD) as Brees looks his way early and often on Sunday.
Hate him: Pierre Garcon, Was, WR - Funston WR rank No. 35 (Yahoo No. 22)
It's back to Garcon for me, the same player I "hated" last week. A TD against Arizona in Week 6 ended up bailing Garcon out a bit, but the same concerns that I had last week still apply to Garcon this week. The yardage in a Kirk Cousins world have been terrible (31 yards or less in three straight) and the workload hasn't been like what we've become accustomed to seeing from Garcon, either (6 targets or less in three straight). And, although he scored last week, he's not what you would classify as a reliable touchdown guy (7 TDs in his past 26 games). Until I see his targets and yardage start to rebound, you're not going to see me ranking him in WR2 territory.
Love him: Brian Hoyer, Cle, QB - Evans QB rank No. 11 (Yahoo No. 17)
Try hard not to laugh, but I feel Hoyer, off a game in which he completed just eight passes, has sound odds of penetrating the QB1 class this week. Why? He has the mother of all matchups facing the dreadful Jaguars on the road. Four quarterbacks have tallied multi-TD efforts against the Hello Kitties this year. Overall, the Jags have given up 8.29 yards per attempt and 313.8 passing yards per game. Isaiah Crowell and Ben Tate will be heavily featured, but I’m confident Hoyer eclipses 250 yards and logs his second two-plus TD performance of the year.
Hate him: Brandin Cooks, NO, WR - Evans WR rank No. 36 (Yahoo No. 25)
Look, I love the rookie like a son, but sometimes you have to put baby in a corner. Don’t automatically assume he'll shoulder a heavier workload with Jimmy Graham sidelined. He may see a slight uptick in targets, but Josh Hill and Ben Watson should fill the void. The offense won’t change much.
Against an outstanding coverage duo in Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay, who’ve combined to allow a 52.1 catch percentage and 64.2 QB rating to their assignments, they should contain the mighty mite. Cooks is still a viable WR3 in PPR settings, but without a TD since Week 1, he’s a benchable asset in standard leagues.
Love him: Andre Holmes, Oak, WR - Pianowski WR rank No. 22 (Yahoo No. 43)
If we were presented with this case before the season, it's an open-and-shut decision: no way are you rolling out a raw Oakland receiver against an established Arizona defense. Ah, but things change fast in the fantasy landscape. Holmes has settled in as an Oakland regular and is coming off two dynamic weeks (9-195-3), having his way against the Miami and San Diego secondaries. He's showing excellent rapport with rookie quarterback David Carr, too.
Arizona's defense had a brand name to boast of in August, but it's been wiped clean through the opening third of the season. The Cardinals have zero pass rush (six sacks) and all sorts of problems covering on the back end (8.4 YPA allowed, 91.2 rating permitted). Patrick Peterson or not, this is not a group I'm afraid to oppose. Go run that Week 6 Raiders tape again, you'll be impressed by the moving pictures.
Hate him: Reggie Wayne, Ind, WR - Pianowski WR rank No. 43 (Yahoo No. 33)
I've been a Reggie Wayne fan for years, and I hope he makes it to Canton someday. But in 2014, he's just another ordinary veteran wideout with little upside. When Wayne catches a pass these days, he usually falls to the turf immediately. Forget any run after the catch, forget deep routes too. He's scored just one touchdown and he ranks a modest 35th in Yahoo WR scoring. When you add a tricky Cincinnati matchup to the Week 7 equation - the Bengals are the No. 6 defense when it comes to limiting WR production - I move away from Wayne. He's just a depth player, no longer someone you start with confidence.
Love him: Jonathan Stewart, Car, RB – Behrens RB rank No. 26 (Yahoo No. 40)
My current rank for Stewart is based on three big assumptions: 1) J-Stew will be sufficiently recovered from his knee sprain and available to play this week, 2) the Panthers have not fallen head-over-heels for Fozzy Whittaker, and 3) the Green Bay Packers will continue to struggle defending the run. At the moment, Green Bay ranks dead-last in rush defense, allowing 154.5 yards per game and 4.6 per carry. If Stewart returns for Week 7, he has an excellent shot at outperforming my rank by a big margin.
Hate him: Larry Donnell, NYG, TE – Behrens TE rank No. 17 (Yahoo No. 9)
Over the past two weeks, Larry Donnell has seen two targets, catching one ball for six yards. What else needs to be said? Nothing. (I assume my colleagues are playing the fantasy-points-against game here, but I don't think Donnell belongs in the same class as some of the top-end tight ends faced by Dallas this season. He's not Vernon Davis, he's not Jimmy Graham, and he's not Delanie Walker. Instead, he's a guy with one catch for six yards in two games.)
DALTON DEL DON
Love him: Bishop Sankey, Ten, RB - Del Don RB rank No. 18 (Yahoo No. 27)
While Sankey's performance against a bad Jaguars defense was disappointing, he did get 19 touches, which is no joke when it comes to running backs these days. Washington has defended RBs well this season, but Sankey should only improve the more reps he gets and should once again act as Tennessee's lead back in Week 7.
Hate him: Jeremy Hill, Cin, RB - Del Don RB rank No. 36 (Yahoo No. 24)
He looked good while replacing an injured Giovani Bernard last week, but Hill has averaged 5.7 carries for 20.7 rushing yards over the past three games. Bernard is also expected to be fully healthy for Week 7. At least for now, Hill's fantasy value relies on him solely getting a goal-line score.
Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 7 Flames in the comments section below.
Carson Palmer, Ari, QB (6 percent started)
Matchup: at Oak
Just a few days ago, the veteran's status was in limbo. A painful nerve condition in his throwing shoulder, which triggered burning sensations up and down his arm, kept him under wraps. However, after undergoing a successful "experimental treatment" in a part of the country known for such exercises (Denver), he surprisingly returned to the lineup and experienced no repercussions. Against Washington, he completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he highly involved both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, a tandem that floundered with Drew Stanton and briefly Logan Thomas at the helm. Operating behind an improved offensive line, Palmer has played well in two games. He's delivered strikes often downfield (5-for-11 on passes beyond 20 yards), excelled on play-action (111.1 QB Rating) and functioned admirably under pressure. His resulting 23.2 fantasy points per game (vs. SD and Wash) ranks top-seven at the position. This week, another QB1 level performance is a strong likelihood. The Raiders, deceivingly stout against the pass entering Week 6, were exposed by Philip Rivers, surrendering 313 yards and three touchdowns. To be fair, T.J. Carrie has executed laudably (54.7 QB rating allowed), but Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, who've given up 41 catches on 50 targets, certainly have not. Palmer, returning to the Black Hole for the first time since he last played there in 2012, lands a stinging blow.
Fearless Forecast: 25-38, 269 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 6 rushing yards, 22.1 fantasy points
Justin Forsett, Bal, RB (59 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Atl
Over his seven-year career, Forsett, despite being productive as a starter, has been constantly questioned. His diminutive stature and slender frame led many to label him a change-of-pace rusher. However, the former Cal standout continues to silence his critics. He remains involved in a three-back rotation with Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro, but without a doubt the little guy has been the most consistently effective. Forsett would probably find it difficult busting through a pile of leaves, but his shiftiness and speed through the hole should not be underestimated. Among eligible RBs, he ranks top-15 in elusive rating (46.6) and breakaway percentage (45.5) according to Pro Football Focus. A top-20 rusher since taking on an expanded role in Week 2, he could penetrate the position's top-10 in Week 7. Atlanta is a sieve up front. No defense has allowed more fantasy points to the position. In total, RBs have rolled up 190.7 total yards per game and 11 scores against it with eight RBs achieving "Flame" status. On 14-18 touches, he lights up the virtual scoreboard.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 71 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 23 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.4 fantasy points
James Starks, GB, RB (3 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Car
Unlike some head coaches (Hint: One likes to wear hoodies, the other rhymes with Chisenfunt), Mike McCarthy is a coach of his word. For the past couple weeks he's maintained his commitment to a two-back rotation. After last Sunday's near dead-even split between Eddie Lacy (39 snaps) and Starks (38), the coach obviously isn't waffling. Roughly 10-14 touches per game should be the norm for No. 44 rest of season. When toting the rock, Starks has displayed impressive power and burst. In what will be a surprise to most, he's recorded almost the same yards after contact rate (61.8) as Lacy (62.1). Sunday he could improve on that number. Carolina, defensively, has done a complete 180 from last fall. Luke Kuechly continues to rank highly against the run (No. 12 among all LBs), but going from strong to squishy, the Panthers, collectively, have conceded 5.5 yards per carry, 170 total yards per game and eight touchdowns to RBs. Only Atlanta has given up more fantasy points per game to the position. With two teams on bye, most owners have numerous options to employ at RB. Still, Starks is a FLEXY sexy option in almost any format.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 62 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.6 fantasy points
James Jones, Oak, WR (13 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Ari
Quite possibly the MVP of the Rodney Dangerfield All-Stars, Jones is arguably the most disrespected commodity in the entirety of fantasy sports. If he suited up for a higher profiled club and caught passes from a proven passer, he would be coveted. Instead, owners, even those who repeatedly trot out the maddening likes of Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson and Percy Harvin, continue to give him the cold shoulder. Dumb. Whether PPR or standard, Jones has churned out WR2 numbers in 12-team leagues. Smelling like a rose in garbage time, he's tallied a near identical line as DeAndre Hopkins in one fewer game (35-26-328-3). Equally impressive, his 78.8 catch percentage ranks No. 5 among wideouts with at least 200 snaps. Arizona's ballyhooed secondary has failed. Rolled in flour and dropped in oil, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie are extra crispy. On the year, the duo has surrendered 17.34 yards per catch and a 117.8 QB rating. Yes Andre Holmes' role is growing and putting trust in a rookie quarterback's hands is always a risky proposition, but if Derek Carr can carry over momentum from last week's breakout, Jones crosses the chalk for the fourth time in six games.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.5 fantasy points
Sammy Watkins, Buf, WR (43 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Min
From a pure talent standpoint Watkins is unequivocally the cream of this year's rookie wide receiver crop. His NASCAR wheels, ridiculous body control, ball-tracking skills and tacky hands should give defensive backs nightmares for years to come. Largely because E.J. Manuel would overthrow a Wampa from 10 yards out, Watkins played unevenly out of the gate. Kyle Orton, inserted into the lineup two weeks ago, also hasn't helped him establish consistency. With only a pair of touchdowns and two games of 40-plus yards to his name, he ranks outside the position's top-36. Despite the rollercoaster ride, Watkins is a strong play in Week 7. Minny DBs Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson have performed admirably in coverage, but if Watkins matches up with Captain Munnerlyn, he's sure to sink the corner's ship. Targeted 22 times, Munnerlyn has yielded 16 catches and a 137.9 QB rating. Overall, seven wideouts have posted "Flame" worthy numbers against Minnesota this year. Sensational Sammy will be the eighth.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 77 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.2 fantasy points
Josh Hill, NO, TE (0 percent started)
Matchup: at Det
The Idaho State product could steal the show this week in Detroit. With Jimmy Graham expected to nurse a shoulder injury for the next 2-3 weeks, Hill will be called upon to fill Shaq-sized shoes. In spurts the backup has looked effective. His strong route-running abilities, huge mitts, athleticism and deceptive speed, have occasionally stunned opponents. Targeted only eight times, he's reeled in seven passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Ben Watson, a more adept run-blocker, has seen more action (170-to-87 snaps), but clearly the second-year weapon is a better vertical talent. Detroit has defended the pass with uncharacteristic success. The Lions rank top-five in lowest allowed YPA, passing yards and fantasy points to QBs. Major props to Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis. Though they've given up few explosive pass plays, tight ends have chipped away underneath. Larry Donnell (5-56-1), Greg Olsen (6-72-0), Andrew Quarless (4-43-1) and Jace Amaro (5-58-0) each posted useful PPR days against them. Off the bye, Hill steps out of the shadows.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.0 fantasy points
Reader Record: 14-27, 34.1%
Brutal injury news here, straight from the Miami Dolphins:
RB Knowshon Moreno has been placed on injured reserve with an ACL injury.— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 14, 2014
So that's terrible. Moreno had just returned from a dislocated elbow that caused him to miss two full games, and all but one carry of another. He's on a one-year deal with Miami, so he'll enter free agency in 2015 as a soon-to-be 28-year-old back with a worrisome injury history.
Fantasy-wise, the spin here is simple: Lamar Miller takes over as the unrivaled No. 1 running back for the Dolphins, and we need to view him as a top-12-ish RB, rest of season. Miller has averaged a career-best 5.2 YPC through five games this year, he's found the end-zone four times, and he's on pace for 48 receptions. We should also mention that his bye is already behind him, a plus at this stage of the season.
The only real issue for Miller so far has been ball security (three fumbles lost), but, again, no player on Miami's current roster is likely to challenge his grip on the featured role. Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams are up next on the depth chart; Thomas was inactive on Sunday and Williams played four snaps.
We can't guarantee that Miller will ever see 25 carries in any game — he doesn't have more than 15 in any week this season — but he'll take all the touches he can handle. He's certainly a strong play this week at Chicago, facing a Bears defense that ranks middle-of-the-pack against the run.
Here's hoping for a quick and full recovery for Moreno. He was a season-saver for many of us last year, when he led the Broncos' ground game. Given the timing of his injury, he should have a shot to be fully recovered by opening week 2015, if he can find a team to take a flier.
More advice from Yahoo Fantasy: Who to target on the waiver wire
Colin Kaepernick threw for 343 yards, got 9.5 YPA and posted a 120.5 QB Rating with a 3:0 TD:INT ratio. He also added 37 yards on three carries (he leads the NFL with 242 rushing yards among quarterbacks), and his day could’ve been even bigger had this not happened. Kaepernick was terrific, and his touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin was ridiculous…Austin Davis is an intriguing player, and he and the Rams looked good early on (San Francisco had allowed 20 points during the first quarter in the previous five games combined before yielding 14 on Monday night), but a questionable offensive PI penalty and an ensuing 80-yard TD catch by Brandon Lloyd on third down with 14 seconds left in the first half helped propel the 49ers to a comeback victory…Brian Quick had three touchdowns over the past two games and had seen at least nine targets in three of the team’s four games this season before disappearing Monday, when he hauled in one of four targets for just 10 yards…I wouldn’t worry too much about Quick, but owners of Zac Stacy certainly have reason to panic. His 2.1 YPC can be excused facing a tough 49ers run defense, but Stacy’s eight rushing attempts were just one more than Benny Cunningham (who scored at the goal line during the team’s opening drive) and also just three more than Tre Mason, who wasn’t inactive for the first time in his career. Stacy has been given more than 12 carries in just one game this season and is no longer a reliable weekly starter…Lloyd got 80 yards per target in this game…The Rams are the first team ever to record just one sack through five games. This is a team that had 53 sacks last year (the third most in the NFL) and added Aaron Donald with the No. 13 pick in the draft. Chris Long is hurt, but this is still pretty bizarre. Three of St. Louis’ five games have been at home, and after racking up 19.0 sacks last season, Robert Quinn has yet to record a single one this year…The 49ers were the only team yet to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter before their pick-six with 53 seconds left.
Last year C.J. Spiller had the excuse of an ankle injury for his poor performance, but there’s no explanation for his horrendous 2014. After carrying the ball 10 times last week in which none went for more than two yards, Spiller had six rushing attempts for 19 yards and a fumble lost Sunday. He’s averaging 3.4 YPC on the year and played 12 snaps in Week 6…Rob Gronkowski bounced back from an injury scare and continues to look better and better, while someone named Brian Tyms looked like the Patriots’ best deep threat in recent memory…I apologize for my Shane Vereen recommendation, as I expected him to be targeted more as a receiver…I’d probably rather own Brandon LaFell than Julian Edelman moving forward, although that depends on if you play in PPR formats…Brandon Bolden produced just 10 yards, but he’s the biggest beneficiary from Stevan Ridley’s injury and should be added in the majority of fantasy leagues…The Bills have allowed an NFL-low 2.8 YPC (next lowest is 3.1) and zero rushing touchdowns this season…Tom Brady got 5.8 YPA with a 4:5 TD:turnover ratio over the first four games of the season. Over the past two, he’s gotten 9.1 YPA with a 6:0 TD:turnover ratio.
Cam Newton had a decent day passing but the real news was him rushing 17 times for 107 yards and a score. You never want to overrate one game, but in this case, it’s a big deal since it suggests Newton is feeling healthier now than at any point in the season. His 17 carries matched the amount the rest of Carolina had, only he outgained the Panthers’ running backs by 67 yards…Andy Dalton completed 76.7 percent of his passes and got 7.5 YPA with two touchdowns, which is impressive without A.J. Green, even if Carolina’s defense has taken a big step back this season…This TD run by Giovani Bernard was one of the best plays of the week…Mohamed Sanu looks like a top-15 fantasy wide receiver as long as Green is sidelined…Adam Jones’ 97-yard kickoff return was the longest that didn’t go for a score in Bengals history (not surprisingly). It set up a TD run by Jeremy Hill, who celebrated doing the Ickey Shuffle. Hill later had another touchdown run taken away by a penalty, although fantasy owners could no longer salivate once Bernard unexpectedly returned to the game…With 7:08 left in the fourth quarter, Riverboat Ron lived up to his name, going for it on 4th-and-2, picking up a crucial first down that led to a touchdown later in the drive…The Panthers allowed 15.1 points-per-game last season, which was the second fewest in the NFL. They’ve yielded 26.2 ppg this year, which is the ninth-most…The first sack in this game didn’t come until overtime…There’s little question Kelvin Benjamin is a star in the making, but he’s gotten just 4.6 YPT (on 19 looks) over the past two games…Since 2011, Mike Nugent had been 26-of-27 on field goals inside the 40 before missing the 36-yard attempt to end Sunday’s game in overtime…After winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season while recording 156 tackles and two sacks, Luke Kuechly is on pace to finish with 197 tackles (which would be an NFL record) and three sacks this year.
We all know things are done differently in Russia, but here’s a policeman commandeering a pedestrian’s car to give chase to what appears to be a drunken driver.
Ben Roethlisberger entered with a career 18-1 record against the Browns before losing to Cleveland 31-10 (it was 31-3 until a meaningless TD late in the fourth quarter)…The Browns won convincingly with Brian Hoyer completing just eight passes. It helps if you get 27.1 yards per completion though. Kyle Shanahan’s game plan deserves a ton of credit…Markus Wheaton got 3.3 YPT. That’s not good…Nice to see Jordan Cameron back with a pulse, and he could’ve had another TD had Hoyer not underthrown him during his 42-yard catch (that was brilliantly drawn up)…Cleveland’s lost fumble in the fourth quarter was just the team’s second turnover of the season…The Browns’ offensive line has been nothing short of fantastic, so it’s too bad to see Alex Mack go down with a season-ending injury. Ben Tate is one of the bigger candidates to get hurt, but while healthy, he’s a legitimate top-10 fantasy RB. Isaiah Crowell might be even better if Tate were to go down…Le’Veon Bell is on pace to finish with 2,115 yards from scrimmage yet he somehow hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1.
This segment on John Oliver’s show about civil forfeiture was both eye opening and infuriating. (Warning: some language.)
Maybe Toby Gerhart’s poor season wasn’t exactly all his fault. While Storm Johnson scored an early TD, his debut as the team’s feature back was more like a light drizzle…Bishop Sankey didn’t overly impress either, gaining just 61 yards on 18 carries (3.4 YPC) at home against a Jaguars defense that entered having allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this seasons. It was at least encouraging to see him dominate the work (no other back saw more than two rushing attempts), although Jackie Battle stole a GL touchdown during his second carry of the season…Coming back from an injury, Cecil Shorts immediately saw a whopping 16 targets. He’s always a threat to leave mid-game while reinjuring his hamstring, but Shorts is clearly Jacksonville’s No. 1 wideout, and if he continues to be targeted at anything close to this rate, he’s going to be a fantasy factor…Delanie Walker’s 10 broken tackles are the second most among tight ends. He had six all of last season. On the flip side, a league-high (among TEs) three passes intended toward Walker have been intercepted this year…..After recovering an onside kick after a beautiful backdoor cover, the Jaguars had a chance to win a game for the first time this season, only to see it fade after having a 55-yard field goal attempt blocked.
Headlines of the Week: Swarm Of 300,000 Bees Kills Landscaper In Arizona...Red Bull Agrees To Pay $15 Million For Falsely Claiming To Provide Superpowers…Houston Radio Station Fires All 47 Employees To Play Beyonce 24/7...Student Responds To Bullying With Positive Post-Its, School Punishes Her For Littering...JetBlue Removes Mom After Three Tweets About Flight Delay...Man Sues Burger King After Onion Ring Incident…Elderly L.A. Woman Vanishes, Is Found Alone In Maine Four Years Later...Scottish Woman Had 3-Inch Leech Living In Nose For A Month After Vietnam Trip…Google Hires Camel For Desert Street View...Ebola Comment Gets Passenger Hazmat Escort From Plane.
As a Joique Bell owner, it was a little frustrating seeing Theo Riddick dominate work on the opening drive, culminating in a TD catch, especially with Reggie Bush out. But Bell ended up leading Detroit with 18 carries (no other back had more than five), hitting pay dirt himself as well. He’ll be a top-15 type fantasy RB option as long as Bush is sidelined, although it sounds like that won’t be the case in Week 7…Not only did Jerrick McKinnon lead Minnesota with 11 carries, but incumbent Matt Asiata tallied negative five rushing yards. McKinnon also secured all six of his targets for a team-high six receptions and 42 yards. He’s an exciting talent who needs to be unleashed. Asiata can safely be dropped…More was expected of Golden Tate, who managed just 44 receiving yards on 12 targets with Calvin Johnson out…Teddy Bridgewater struggled badly, taking eight sacks with a 0:3 TD:INT ratio, but in fairness this Lions defense appears to be extremely legit…Before Matt Prater made a 52-yarder, Detroit’s kickers were a combined 1-of-10 from 40+ yards. They remain an ugly 5-of-15 on the year collectively…Cordarrelle Patterson got 15 yards on eight targets. I’m not going to lie to you, I expected him to be slightly better this season. Despite seeing just 29 targets (54 wide receivers have seen more this year), four passes intended for Patterson have been picked off, which is tied for an NFL-high.
This fake spike by Aaron Rodgers was pretty cool, but if Cortland Finnegan cuts off the sideline (he had safety help in the middle), the game might have ended. Of course, far be it from me to criticize Rodgers, who also did this and then this and was the sole reason the Packers won this game…Lamar Miller has totaled as many touchdowns (three) over the past two weeks as he had over his previous 32 games of his career. But he’s still yet to see more than 15 carries in a game this season…Randall Cobb, who’s 5-10, 192, somehow is on pace to finish with 19 touchdowns on 77 receptions…Eddie Lacy continues to be a massive disappointment and now finds himself sharing snaps with James Starks. Lacy has averaged 3.3 YPC or fewer in five of six games this season. Ugh.
Here’s a horse walking into a police station, no big deal.
Julius Thomas’ seven TDs were the most ever by a tight end through four games. He added two more Sunday and is on pace to finish with a modest 29 scores this season. “It’s so easy!”...Ironically, Thomas has yet to record a single broken tackle this season…Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell combined for 20 yards on 13 carries. That’s not ideal…C.J. Anderson didn’t get a touch, although Ronnie Hillman is one of only two backs to see 100+ snaps this season who’s yet to record a broken tackle…After getting off to a slow start, Demaryius Thomas has racked up 18 catches for 350 yards and three touchdowns over the past two games…Meanwhile, Wes Welker’s first target of the game came with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter…The Jets had the ball midway through the fourth quarter down one score, so this game was actually competitive, even if it didn’t totally feel that way…New York has just three takeaways this season and have ceded a 15:1 TD:INT ratio...Geno Smith has thrown the ball away an NFL-high 16 times. Peyton Manning has done so twice. It’s almost as if one is better than the other.
With 13:57 left in the second quarter, Joe Flacco was 10-of-13 for 195 yards (15.0 YPA) with a 5:0 TD:INT ratio. Is that good? You’ll rarely if ever see a more impressive 16 minutes of football (only one other QB had ever thrown four TDs in the first quarter)…Baltimore attempted a 64-yard field goal up 38-0 at the end of the first half (not that there’s anything wrong with that)…Austin Seferian-Jenkins has yet to reach 60 receiving yards, but he looks good to me and is someone I’d want on a dynasty team…Torrey Smith had twice as many touchdowns in the first quarter Sunday than he had during his previous nine games combined…Every time Bobby Rainey enters the game, he looks noticeably better than Doug Martin (other than when fumbling). Martin has broken three tackles on 48 carries this season. Rainey has broken 16 (tied for the seventh-most among RBs with LeSean McCoy) on 54 rushing attempts...Justin Forsett has averaged 6.4 YPC and is the Ravens’ best back by a wide margin (I’d say the same if Ray Rice were still playing). I understand health is a concern, but I see little reason why he’s not given 18-22 touches per game. Forsett is tied for the league-lead with six carries that have gone for 20+ yards…To say the Lovie Smith hire hasn’t worked out would be an understatement…The Buccaneers have allowed a 111.9 QB Rating to opposing passers this season. Peyton Manning’s current QB Rating is 110.5.
This Key & Peele text message skit is brilliant, but it’s definitely NSFW (language).
Branden Oliver totaled 124 yards and a score, and yet, it almost felt like a letdown, given the opponent. He’s highly impressive…It’s time to start worrying about Keenan Allen, who’s gotten 55 yards or fewer in five of six games while yet to score this year. His one good game came against a Jaguars secondary that has allowed the second-most YPG to wide receivers this season. Allen being such a bust is especially crazy considering he entered his sophomore campaign healthier than last year and flashing more speed in the preseason while playing for a Chargers team that has averaged the fifth-most ppg (27.3) in the NFL…Philip Rivers and Derek Carr had combined for a 7:0 TD:INT ratio before the rookie was picked off with 1:13 left in the game, resulting in the first turnover of the day. This was a fun game if you like offense…I’m normally all for aggressive play calling, but I found it curious when San Diego called for a fake punt on 4th-and-35 (in a tied game in which they were seven-point favorites). Eric Weddle’s pass went incomplete, and he later took blame for the audible…Despite winning its fifth straight game, Sunday marked the first time San Diego scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter this season…The Raiders have somehow averaged the second fewest ppg (15.8) yet have taken the second fewest sacks (four) this year.
Here’s dramatic footage of a train crashing into an 18-wheeler stuck on the tracks. “Holy mother of moo moo!” (There were no casualties).
The Falcons/Bears game had a league-high over/under (53.5 points) this week, so naturally the score was 3-3 with six minutes left in the second quarter. The scoring picked up thereafter but still finished with a modest 40…Matt Forte had a big game, totaling 157 yards and two scores. He also saw a game-high 13 targets, which seems like a lot for a running back…Since the Falcons won 56-14 in Week 3, they’ve been outscored 98-61 against teams with a collective 8-20 record…While Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett saw 37 of Jay Cutler’s 38 targets with zero touchdowns, it’s only natural Josh Morgan scored on his lone look of the game…Antone Smith’s seven career touchdowns have all gone for at least 38 yards...Over their last four games, the Falcons have totaled zero points in the fourth quarter…Atlanta has allowed just six touchdown passes on the year, but they’ve also yielded an NFL-high 8.6 YPA while recording just seven sacks. That’s not good, but it’s really bad when you consider they also entered Week 6 allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. They’ve ceded 12 rushing scores in 2014, which is five more than any other team. That’s not exactly a great combo.
Kirk Cousins has committed eight turnovers over the past three games. To put this into perspective, the Seahawks, who were unanimously drafted as the No. 1 fantasy defense this season, have five takeaways total this season…Over the last four weeks, DeSean Jackson has somehow produced 398 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 catches…Nice to see Michael Floyd score for the first time this season, as the return of Carson Palmer surely helped…Speaking of which, it was pretty odd to have all three Arizona QBs active and participating in pregame rituals, although it’s hard to argue with the results, as the Cardinals won by 10 points (this included a late pick-six, which helped me cover my “best bet” of the week)…Jordan Reed returned to action and wasn’t 100 percent yet still saw a team-high 11 targets on limited snaps. He’d be a monster if he were ever able to stay healthy…Despite having to use three different quarterbacks, the Cardinals are the only team in the NFL yet to throw an interception. Having said that, I’d argue Brian Orakpo had the worst drop of the week during this game, and yes, I realize defensive players can’t catch…After leading the NFL with 3.2 YPC after contact last season (minimum 110 rushing attempts), Andre Ellington ranks No. 54 among 56 qualified backs this year, getting just 1.6.
Police Blotter: Accidental 911 Call Leads Deputies To Active Meth Lab…Cop Tries To Search Car Because ‘Everybody That Plays Frisbee Golf Smokes Weed.’…Fake Policeman Caught After Stopping Real Cop…Man Shot 15 Minutes After Serving 15-Year Jail Term…Fan With Tom Brady Helmet Tattooed On His Head Is Jailed On Felony Narcotics Charge…Police: Man Climbs Out Of Grate, Throws Bombs In Greenwich Village Restaurant…Police Sorry For Telling Wrong Family Of Death…Police: Man On Acid Demanded Homeowners Make Him Sandwich, Take Him To McDonald’s Drive-Thru...Desperate Darwen Burglar Violated Teddy Bear…Arrest On Arson Charges For California Wildfire That Scorched 157 Homes…Georgia Parents Give 2-Year-Old Son Brandy And Coke; Tot’s Blood Alcohol Content 3 Times Legal Limit.
I’m a 49ers fan who hates the Seahawks, so naturally, the week in which I pick Seattle in my survivor pool they lose just their second game at home in the Russell Wilson era...This blocked punt was the result of some good coaching, but they also benefitted from a Cowboys lost fumble during a fair catch attempt. In other words, the Cowboys should’ve won this game by a more comfortable margin. The Seahawks continue to be the bane of my existence…Seattle hadn’t allowed a 40-yard rusher this season before Sunday. Both DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle had 40+ rushing yards midway through the second quarter…Murray became the second player to rush for six straight 100-yard games to open a year, with Jim Brown the only other to do so back in 1958…Murray is without question one of the best running backs right now (he has 471 yards after contact this season. The next most is Le’Veon Bell with 299), but I’d argue the Dallas offensive line is the single best unit (this includes offense, defense, special teams) in all of football. What a dominant group that absolutely manhandled a Seattle defense that entered as the league’s No. 1 rush defense (Tony Romo took a big hit early on, but he enjoyed a clean pocket for much of the rest of the game).
Almost everyone expected the Cowboys’ defense to be historically bad. Instead they have allowed the eighth-fewest ppg in the league so far and pressured Seattle’s offense greatly (it didn’t help center Max Unger was out). It’s unclear if Rod Marinelli deserves some kind of prize or if Monte Kiffin was just that bad. The answer is probably somewhere in between, although I would give Marinelli the coach of the year award right now…Dallas had 10 first downs versus zero for Seattle during the second quarter…Dan Bailey made a 56-yard field goal, which helped keep his FG% the best in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts)…Richard Sherman’s pass interference penalty was Seattle’s first of the season…This catch by Terrance Williams during a crucial 3rd-and-20 late in the fourth quarter was the play of the game (if not year).
Longreads of the Week: “The Human Factor: Should Airplanes Be Flying Themselves?” and “At Florida State, Football Clouds Justice.”
The Giants entered having taken a modest seven sacks on the year over five games yet suffered six Sunday night, as the Eagles’ defense continued to impress, recording six, although their terror on special teams scoring touchdowns ended…Actually, the Eagles entered Week 6 having allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, so while Philly’s D may not have reached pay dirt it did hold a hot Eli Manning to just 6.6 YPA and no touchdowns. They also held hot pickup Andre Williams in check, as New York’s new feature back was limited to just 58 rushing yards on 16 carries…LeSean McCoy, meanwhile, finally broke out, running for 149 yards on 22 totes, although it was Darren Sproles who got the team’s lone score on the ground (he also left with a knee injury)…Jeremy Maclin averaged 11.4 targets over the first five games yet saw just three during his team’s 27-0 victory Sunday night...Larry Donnell had as many touchdowns (three) in Week 4 as he’s had targets during the two games since then…Hate to see the Victor Cruz season-ending injury, in which he left on a cart crying. Brutal.
David Carr came to the Houston Texans as an expected savior, the top pick in the 2002 draft. He didn't get much accomplished in his five primary seasons, in part because of a sack problem the Texans (and the player) never fully solved. Carr was dropped 76 times as a rookie, 49 times in his third year and 68 times in his fourth season – each time leading the league. Carr settled into a backup role after that, throwing just 110 passes over his final six years.
Derek Carr seems determined not to follow in his older brother's footsteps.
The younger Carr didn't have the same expectations as he entered the NFL; he was merely the 36th overall pick in May's draft. It wasn't clear how quickly Carr would play, though Matt Schaub's deterioration ultimately forced the issue. The Raiders eventually decided to throw their rookie into the deep end of the pool, hoping he could swim immediately – no matter the mediocre supporting cast around him.
Oakland's winless through five games, but Carr isn't the problem here. He's performed admirably for a first-year quarterback. His best showing came in Sunday's 31-28 loss to San Diego, a 282-yard, four-touchdown performance. In particular, he's showing snappy rapport with receivers James Jones and Andre Holmes.
Carr's Week 6 tape showed plenty of moxie. He's already developed a valuable mix of presence and patience in the pocket, and he's capable of adjusting his velocity and ball position based on the throw he's asked to make (contrast this to Geno Smith, who always wants to throw the heater, or EJ Manuel, who consistently set up teammates to fail before he got benched).
Carr's first touchdown pass Sunday was a gorgeous deep ball to Holmes; the rookie realized how open the play was and put plenty of air under the throw. Carr's goal-line pass to Jones was a matter of pace, threading the needle and putting extra mustard on the ball, delivering a laser to a well-covered receiver.
Although Carr had four TD passes for the game, his most impressive toss was on a non-scoring play. Check out the touch he delivered on this 30-yard connection with Holmes. Terrific execution on both ends of the play. Give your athletic receiver a chance to high-point the ball.
Oakland's pass blocking has a solid grade to this point in the season; the Raiders cumulatively stand 11th in pass blocking per the indispensable Pro Football Focus. But let's make sure Carr gets some of the credit for this mark; the same unit, after all, stands 24th in run blocking. Carr's minuscule 1.76 sack rate is currently the best in the NFL, a shocking stat for a rookie to hold on a winless club. Most sacks are more about the quarterback's awareness and decision-making than the blocking up front; Carr is making his offensive line look better than it really is.
Opponents don't have to worry much about Oakland's rushing game. The Raiders sit 22nd in yards per rushing attempt, and 31st in rushing yards per game. At some point every Sunday, the opposing defense takes dead aim at the pocket, creatively rushing the rookie quarterback. It's impressive that Carr has taken just three sacks under this pressure.
Carr has stepped into the QB2 discussion with his recent play, and if nothing else he's making Holmes and Jones worth consideration going forward. Jones has posted a Top 20 receiver resume in standard scoring (though he's more of a WR 3/4 in most formats) and Holmes has to be taken seriously now that he's playing the majority of snaps these days. Holmes was woefully underutilized in the first three games, but sometimes teams don't figure out their best personnel until the middle of the year (often it's a happy accident, something that comes about through injuries and such). Let's just be glad that Oakland eventually found the right answer.
-- A bunch of players and areas deserve credit for New England's turnaround the last two weeks. Tom Brady has played better, sure. The blocking has been better, no doubt. The wideouts are starting to produce, especially in the intermediate and deep areas (something that was desperately lacking in the opening four weeks). The coaching staff is finally finding answers to the early questions faced.
But the biggest difference I see is Rob Gronkowski.
Although the veteran tight end had a handful of touchdowns in September, he wasn't anywhere close to 100 percent. I wasn't sure when Gronkowski would rebound to full throttle, if at all, and that sounds like a silly statement in the mid-October light of day. Gronkowski played well in the Week 5 victory over Cincinnati, and was absolutely dominant in Sunday's win at Buffalo, an uncoverable freak of nature. To those that never wavered, take your victory lap in the comments.
-- San Diego's backfield is another case of a team benefiting from an injury, unearthing a talented player who just needed a chance. I can't see any reason to play Donald Brown over Branden Oliver going forward, and I expect Oliver to have a meaty role even when Ryan Mathews returns.
Oliver is regularly compared to Darren Sproles, mostly because they're both undersized running backs who were assigned No. 43 in San Diego. It's not really a parallel comparison, though. Oliver is an inch taller and 18 pounds thicker, and he's a better fit for inside running. Oliver isn't afraid to take on contact and finish his runs, and he consistently keeps the pile moving. With all due respect to Sproles and his dynamic game, his skill set is considerably different.
-- Kyle Orton made for an easy punchline when he took over Buffalo's starting job two weeks ago, but he's proven to be worthy of the assignment. He's posted a 90.9 rating and 7.5 YPA through two starts, with 607 yards against the Lions and Patriots. There have been occasional lapses with pocket awareness (and one awful pick-six against Detroit), but he's been better than average for the most part. He gives Buffalo their best chance to win.
Orton provided my favorite intangible highlight from Week 6; he waved off Buffalo's punt unit in the middle of the fourth period, not letting his team quit on a 16-point deficit. How the Bills could even entertain the idea of punting with 7:15 to go is beyond me. Buffalo converted the 4th-and-2, but that doesn't even matter; the proper move is to keep your offense on the field.
I'm not going to worry about Sammy Watkins, who spent most of a quiet afternoon on Revis Island. He'll be more involved against the Vikings and Jets over the next two weeks. Orton gives him a chance to be a steady WR3 week-in and week-out.
Cam Newton is still a bad dude, just in case you were wondering. He passed for 284 yards at Cincinnati on Sunday while also delivering the week's fifth-highest rushing total (107). He didn't target himself in the passing game, unfortunately, so we can't quite call him a triple-threat QB. But we can say with relative confidence that Cam is back to being Cam — the upper-tier fantasy weapon with the S on his chest.
Newton passed for a pair of touchdowns against the Bengals, connecting with usual suspects Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, and he targeted ten different receivers on the day, connecting with nine. Cam also ran all over Cincy, read-optioning them to death, crossing the goal-line on this grown-man carry, with various defenders clinging to him. He appeared to tweak the thumb on his throwing hand late in regulation, but he remained in the game through overtime.
Basically, whatever you needed to see from Cam before trusting him again, you surely saw it on Sunday. Next week, he gets a Green Bay defense that's had very little success stopping anyone's run game. Newton won't need another 17-carry outing to satisfy the fantasy community, but it's nice to know it remains a possibility.
The Panthers have an incredibly friendly second-half schedule, you'll note, loaded with the weak defenses of the NFC South, plus the Eagles, Vikings and Browns. Newton has an excellent shot to again finish among the top-five players at his position, despite the slow start to his season.
If you're a Panthers fan, you can at least feel good about the play of your quarterback this week, even if the result of the game was ... perplexing. Unsatisfying. Semi-unreal. Carolina and Cincinnati battled to the highest-scoring tie in NFL history (37-37), with both teams forfeiting game-winning opportunities. Ron Rivera chose to kick a short field goal on 4th-and-1 in OT, leaving the Bengals with over two minutes of clock, essentially choosing a tie as his best-case scenario. If that was playing-it-by-the-book, then Ron needs new books. Mike Nugent had a shot to win the game for Cincy with two seconds remaining, but his 36-yard attempt sailed wide right. And at that point, no one quite knew how to feel.
Like this guy, for example...
So wait is it ok that i kind of just celebrated? #awkwardmoment lol— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 12, 2014
• Philip Rivers had the day we all expected against Oakland, passing for 313 yards and three scores, doing nothing to halt his Player of the Year momentum. Branden Oliver also justified the waiver hype, finishing with 124 yards on 30 touches, with a game-deciding score included. But the actionable fantasy news from this unexpectedly entertaining game was the performance delivered by Raiders wideout Andre Holmes, who caught four balls for 121 yards and two TDs on eight targets. Holmes is a field-stretcher with good size (6-foot-4) and respectable speed, and he clearly enjoys rapport with Derek Carr. He's a reasonable pickup, for those in need.
• As Julius Thomas was catching his second TD pass on Sunday, an on-field mic caught him yelling, "It's too [expletive] easy!" So that was pretty awesome, if you happened to be on the right side of a fantasy matchup involving Thomas. (Honestly, if you started Julius this week and didn't immediately send that Vine to your opponent, I don't even know why you play fantasy.) He's now up to nine touchdowns in five games, which of course is absurd. Ronnie Hillman dominated touches in the Denver backfield (27 for 116 yards), with Juwan Thompson looking good in a supporting role (8-38-0). So Hillman it is. He put the ball on the ground once (recovered by his own team), but otherwise impressed.
• Joe Flacco went shock-and-awe on the Tampa Bay defense, roasting the Buccaneers early, often and with impunity. It got ugly in a hurry. Flacco needed only 17 minutes of game time to throw five touchdown passes — yup, FIVE — against the lifeless Bucs. You can find a few highlights right here. Here's what Flacco looks like on your fantasy bench, if you're interested...
Nice work, fantasy expert.
Torrey Smith emerged from exile to catch the first and second of Flacco's TD tosses. Justin Forsett was again the Ravens back to own (assuming you care to own one), finishing with 111 rushing yards on 14 carries. Forsett got the touches when it mattered. Tampa's defense has now given up 35-plus points in three of the team's last four games, so that's clearly a unit you'll continue to pick on, fantasy-wise.
• Giovani Bernard showcased pretty much all the important running back traits on his early 89-yard TD against the Panthers, shedding tacklers, stiff-arming, and out-racing defenders to the end-zone. Gio finished his day with 157 scrimmage yards and one score, and he managed to return following a shoulder injury that seemed likely to end his day. Bernard's understudy Jeremy Hill was useful as well, giving us 35 yards and a score (followed by a spot-on Ickey Shuffle. Well-played, rookie.)
• Did the Titans really give a goal-line carry to Jackie Battle? Of course they did. Because Ken Whisenhunt hates you, personally. Bishop Sankey wasn't a complete dud — he gave us 68 yards on 19 touches — but he certainly didn't lead your fake team to victory in Week 6. If Sankey couldn't shine against Jacksonville ... well, that's not a good sign. At least Storm Johnson delivered a touchdown while disappointing us (10-21-1).
• New England's win at Buffalo was marred by knee injuries to Stevan Ridley and Jerod Mayo, and the early speculation isn't good. Ridley owners, this seems unlikely to end well. Shane Vereen obviously stands to gain value, but Brandon Bolden will take carries as well. And BenJarvus Green-Ellis is lurking out there somewhere, unattached. The Pats backfield has been a messy committee in the past, and that seems likely to remain the case.
• If the Cowboys are somehow going to finish this season 8-8, they've really got their work cut out for them. Because that team looks good. Dallas traveled to Seattle in Week 6, beating the Seahawks in a notoriously unfriendly environment. Tony Romo passed for 250 yards and two TDs, DeMarco Murray had his typical million carries for 100-plus yards, and the team's O-line was pretty much an impenetrable wall. Also, Terrance Williams made an absolutely silly third-down catch, following an even more ridiculous scramble by Romo. If you're not a believer in Dallas this season ... well, fine, I get it. Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, a rich history of mediocrity, etc. But the team is now 5-1, and 3-0 on the road. They've cleared the toughest stretch on the schedule, too.
• Remember that whole anxious-to-get-Cordarrelle-the-ball thing? Yeah, well, that played out exactly as you knew it would. Patterson saw three touches in Minnesota's loss to the Lions on Sunday, gaining 17 total yards. He actually saw a team-high eight targets, but hauled in just two. The hip malfunction is reportedly impacting him, but it's not as if he was dominant in the early weeks, before the injury. The Vikes really got nothin' going against Detroit in Week 6, gaining just 212 total yards and giving the ball away three times via interception. Not good. It's worth noting, however, that Jerick McKinnon dominated the backfield touches, finishing with 17 to Matt Asiata's three. McKinnon is clearly the most explosive player — he was a combine freakshow, you'll recall — and he belongs on a roster in nearly all leagues.
• Jets rookie tight end Jace Amaro saw 12 targets on Sunday, catching 10 for 68 yards and a score in the loss to Denver. He had some camp buzz surrounding him months ago, but drops have been a persistent issue. Still, the usage is notable, even if the team context is unfortunate.
• Ben Tate feasted again, carrying 25 times for 78 yards and two TDs against the Steelers. Isaiah Crowell continued to impress as well, gaining 77 yards on only 11 carries, breaking the plane once. Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer completed only eight balls on 17 attempts, yet finished with 217 yards (102 of them belonging to Jordan Cameron). The Browns beat Pittsburgh for the first time since, like, Brian Sipe-vs.-Mark Malone in '83, I believe. Nice work, Cleveland. I have nothing positive to say about the Steelers at this time, so let's just move on...
• The Bears apparently will only win games when they're on the road and victory is unexpected/undeserved. But whatever, I'll take it. Matt Forte had the monster day we all imagined he'd have against Atlanta's not-so-stout defense, gaining 157 yards, catching ten balls and finding the end-zone twice. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery dominated the Falcons DBs, each topping 100 yards, and Jay Cutler passed for a season high 381 yards while avoiding game-altering turnovers.
Obviously Antone Smith scored again for Atlanta. That's kinda his thing. If you're going to be one-dimensional, it's an awesome dimension. This time it was a 41-yard reception for Smith. His season-high in touches is only six, yet he's already delivered five touchdowns — all from distances of 38 yards or more, which is nuts. It's tough to start a guy in fantasy if he only rarely sees the ball, but it's tough to sit a guy who never fails to score. If you're among the few Yahoo owners who used him in Week 6, we salute you.
• Carson Palmer was excellent in his return from shoulder/nerve issues, completing 28 of 44 throws for 250 yards and two scores. He connected on touchdowns with both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, so, at least for now, you can feel good about all your Arizona skill players. Palmer's upcoming schedule is plenty appealing for fantasy purposes — Oak, Phi, Dal, STL — so he's in the waiver discussion this week.
• This week's Aaron Rodgers clinic involved a few new wrinkles, as he only gave Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb one TD apiece. He found tight end Andrew Quarless for a game-winning walkoff score in the final seconds, not long after completing a fake-spike throw to rookie Davante Adams. The Pack pulled out a game they probably would have lost with anyone else behind center. It's good to be the cheese, I suppose.
• Brutal injury news here from the Sunday night game...
Victor Cruz has a torn patellar tendon, Giants confirm. Clearly he is out for the season. #NYG— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) October 13, 2014
So let's hope for the best for Cruz in his recovery. Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle are the Giants primary receivers moving forward. Darren Sproles also suffered a knee injury of as-yet-unknown severity; we'll presumably know more about his outlook on Monday.
EARLY PICKUPS FOR WEEK 7
QB Carson Palmer, Ari (at Oak)
QB Joe Flacco, Bal (vs. Atl)
RB Jerick McKinnon, Min (at Buf)
RB Jonathan Stewart, Car (at GB)
RB Brandon Bolden, NE (vs. NYJ)
RB Antone Smith, Atl (at Bal)
WR Andre Holmes, Oak (vs. Ari)
WR Cecil Shorts, Jac (vs. Cle)
WR Malcom Floyd, SD (vs. KC)
WR Brandon LaFell, NE (vs. NYJ)
WR Mohamed Sanu, Cin (at Ind)
WR Davante Adams, GB (vs. Car)
TE Jace Amaro, Was (at NE)
DEF Cleveland (at Jac)
Joe Flacco wasn't doing anything special through five weeks of the 2014 NFL season. A 87.8 rating, that's fine. A 6.8 YPA, that's so-so. Seven touchdowns, three picks, okay. He didn't have a touchdown pass in last week's loss at Indianapolis.
And then the Tampa Bay defense showed up on the schedule. Drop in a quarter, fire up the pinball machine.
The Ravens held a 7-on-7 drill Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium, loosely disguised as a football game. Flacco threw for five touchdowns – all in the first 16:03 of the game – en route to a 48-17 romp. Don't let the final score throw you; the Ravens took their foot off the gas early. If Baltimore cared about record books, Flacco's name would be in them this week. He only threw 29 passes for the afternoon, completing 21 of them (306 yards, 10.6 a pop).
For the first time this year, Torrey Smith was invited to the party (4-51, two scores), rewarding those brave enough (or desperate enough) to start him. The rejuvenated Steve Smith piled up 110 yards, including a 56-yard score. Off-the-radar Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken secured the other scoring passes. The Ravens also rushed for 169 yards, most of them from Justin Forsett (14-111).
Say this for the Bucs offense, it had some fun in garbage time. Mike Glennon collected 314 passing yards and two scores, and the four main receivers (Murphy, Jackson, Evans, Seferian-Jenkins) had passable days. Tampa Bay also averaged 4.8 yards a carry, but you can't run the ball very often when you fall into a 38-0 hole. We'll miss Tampa Bay's passing game next Sunday, during the Week 7 bye. And we'll really miss Tampa's turnstile of a secondary.
In other fake-football action from Sunday:
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals: No A.J. Green, no problem – Sanu hauled in 10-of-14 targets, rolling up 120 yards and a score. It should have been enough to spark a Cincinnati overtime victory over Carolina, but Mike Nugent missed a chip shot at the overtime gun. Much to the chagrin of elimination poolies everywhere, the Bengals had to settle for a tie. Cincinnati has an interesting game at Indianapolis next week, and you get the idea Sanu will be the featured target again.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: I don't know how his ribs are feeling, or how his ankle is doing. Newton also sustained a thumb injury in the Cincinnati tie. But it's fun to see Newton scrambling again, extending plays with his legs and making defenses pay for breakdowns in structure. Newton needed 46 pass attempts to get to 284 yards (that's just 6.2 YPA), but then you see 107 yards and a score on the ground and you give him a pass. Superman is back in the building. We look forward to a Newton-Rodgers matchup next week.
Jacksonville Passing Game: No one throws you a parade for a 14-point effort (and a loss) at Tennessee, but we're just in it for the fantasy numbers. Rookie Blake Bortles posted a tasty 32-46-336 line, with one touchdown and 36 rushing yards. That'll do. Oft-injured wideout Cecil Shorts finally made an impact (10-103 on 16 targets), with most of the production coming late. Tight end Clay Harbor (3-91-1) has been on the same page with Bortles all along. Jacksonville-Cleveland should be fun next week.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: I was one of the Gronk doubters in the summer, not willing to pay a second or third-round pick for someone with his physical history. I didn't regret that call over the first five weeks (despite a flurry of Gronkowski touchdowns), but I have to change my opinion after watching Gronkowski dominate the Bills defense for three hours (7-94 on nine targets). Gronk looked unstoppable and untackleable from the opening snap, and he also had a touchdown wiped out by penalty.
Other Booms: Detroit D/ST, Derek Carr and Andre Holmes, Antone Smith, Tom Brady and Brandon LaFell, Julius Thomas, Scott Chandler, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler & Friends
Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: For weeks, we implored Ken Whisenhunt to play his most talented back, his hotshot rookie. The call finally came in Week 6, but Sankey let us down with the return (18-61 rushing, 1-7 receiving). Mind you, The Wiz didn't do us any favors by farming out a one-yard touchdown to journeyman Jackie Battle. But Sankey should have been able to produce a lot more against the ordinary Jacksonville defense.
Wes Welker, WR, Broncos: The Thomas Boys did their usual damage through the air, as you'd expect, in Denver's 31-17 victory at the Jets. But Welker was Mr. Invisible, seeing one piddly target, for nine crummy yards. It might be a long year for Welker, as Denver clearly has three better pass receivers on the roster.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Just when we thought we were out of the woods with Lacy, he releases a 14-40 stink bomb at Miami (no touchdowns, no receptions). James Starks stole 10 touches, and even John Kuhn had four rushing attempts. Maybe Lacy's going to be a RB2 this year, not the bell cow everyone expected. Carolina looks like a friendly matchup for Week 7, but it's difficult to trust Lacy.
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions: Okay, he was on the road against a respectable Minnesota defense, and he didn't have Calvin Johnson or Reggie Bush to work with. But a measly 185 passing yards won't pay the fantasy rent, especially on 33 attempts (5.6 YPA). Stafford had one touchdown flip, took four sacks. Stafford has been one of the volume kings of fantasy for many years, but with the Lions playing dominating defense, the shape of the game has changed.
Other Busts: Keenan Allen, Shane Vereen, C.J. Spiller, Russell Wilson, Knowshon Moreno, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan.
Kevin Durant has suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot, which will sideline him 6-8 weeks, although this timetable isn’t concrete since it’s unclear if he’ll require surgery or not. It sounds like at best, he’ll miss the first month of the season, with a real chance his absence will extend beyond that. It’s rough news for fantasy basketball’s No. 1 player.
According to Basketball Monster, over the past two seasons the difference between Durant and the No. 2 player (LeBron James), has been equal to the difference between James and the No. 6 player (Anthony Davis), and that’s on a per-game basis (Durant has missed a total of two games over this span). Durant won the scoring title and league MVP last year, and no player is a bigger help to free throw percentage in fantasy terms.
There’s still an argument to take Durant in the first round in head-to-head formats, but this news obviously knocks him down draft boards a bit. In rotisserie leagues, Durant now looks more like a mid-second round pick, depending on your willingness to gamble. Still, it’s doubtful KD falls out of the second round in most leagues.
Russell Westbrook already led the NBA in Usage Rate last season, but it’s safe to expect his role to be even greater as long as Durant is out. He should be a top-five fantasy player over the first couple of months of the season. Anthony Morrow and Reggie Jackson are the two other biggest beneficiaries, with the former an interesting late-round flier for those in search of help in three-pointers and the latter now an exciting target in the middle rounds.
Jackson left Friday’s game with an arm injury, but assuming it’s not serious, he suddenly becomes Oklahoma City’s No. 2 scoring option. He averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 threes in 26 starts last season, and the team will need to replace a lot of offense, as Durant averaged 20.8 field goal attempts and 9.9 free throw attempts last year.
The Durant injury is a tough blow, but it doesn’t sound like an injury that should affect his performance once he’s able to return to the court. He’s been fantasy basketball’s No. 1 player in four of the past five seasons (he finished third in the other) but will now likely be taken in the 15-20 range of drafts with this news.
Five picks against the Yahoo Pro Football PickEm spread, that's how we roll here. Share your five best in the comments.
-- It's lovely that the Patriots played a terrific game in Week 5, but I can't get the Miami, Oakland, or Kansas City tapes out of my head. Sure, the Pats have owned the Bills in this series, but given the rapid pace of personnel changes in the NFL, that doesn't matter much to me. New England still has a suspect offensive line, and Buffalo has the right pieces to exploit that. I decided on Bills +3 early in the week.
-- We'll go back to the Rams +3.5, liking what Austin Davis brings to the table and happy to saddle up with a home dog on Monday night. The Niners still have a bunch of injuries with their key receivers, and I'm not sure who Colin Kaepernick is on a week-to-week basis.
-- You never want to read too much into outlier performances in any direction, so we'll give Cincinnati a pass for last week and dial up Bengals -6.5. The defense tends to play a lot better at home, and Carolina's offense has all sorts of problems (Newton isn't healthy, Benjamin is struggling with drops, the backfield is quicksand). Even without A.J. Green, Cincinnati should move the ball and score consistently in this spot.
-- Most square players will load up on San Diego, but those plush Vegas carpets don't come from handing money away. The Raiders +7 pique my interest, at home, off a bye, with a new coach and fresh start. Rookie QB Derek Carr is playing much better than most realize (look at the tiny sack rate). Perhaps San Diego will get caught looking ahead to the Chiefs and Broncos in Weeks 7 and 8.
-- The Vikings +1.5 is another case of ignoring a team's most recent result. We'll get Teddy Bridgewater back, and Minnesota comes into the game with extra prep time. Detroit's defense is good at all three levels, but the offense figures to be without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush again (now confirmed, they're out). I've never been a full believer in Matt Stafford.
Last Week: 4-1
One reason I never spend much on defensemen on draft day is because I always feel you can find cheap values late in the draft, or in the early days of free-agent pickups. Here are some players I've added or considered for my rosters; maybe they can help you, too.
Johnny Boychuk is set up to have a career year with the Islanders, where he'll get first-team power-play time (always hedge against Lubomir Visnovsky's health). Boychuk posted a reasonable 5-18-23 line with 142 shots in Boston last year, and that came without a single power-play point. Boychuk was in fine form in New York's opening win, picking up a power play goal and assist in a 5-3 victory. Forty-plus points? I can see it.
Like Boychuk, Trevor Daley is an established veteran who's never had a big scoring year (last season's 9-16-25 was his best showing). But the Stars are giving Daley a shot with the top power-play unit, and he responded with a PPG on Thursday. Look at the other guys on the No. 1 Dallas unit: Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky. Who couldn't pile up points playing with those guys?
The case for Sami Vatanen is so obvious, I can't believe he's 86 percent unowned in Yahoo leagues. Vatanen posted a 6-15-21 line in 48 games last year, and the slick puck mover is going to get a ton of power-play opportunity this season. Vatanen had two man-advantage assists in the Anaheim opener, and was tops on the club with 5:13 in specialty time. What's not to like? Fix that ownership tag.
Olli Maatta won't be a power-play staple in Pittsburgh; they have too many established blueliners in front of him there (Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, even Paul Martin). But Maatta is certainly going to get a regular shift with this high-scoring club, and he managed a 9-20-29 line last year despite limited man-advantage run. The 20-year-old defenseman has everything you look for in a future star: vision, size, confidence, pedigree. Look for an uptick in his point total.
We've been waiting on Zach Bogosian's development for several years, ever since he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft. We haven't seen anything past a 30-point season, despite excellent size and a powerful shot. Sometimes the bigger blueliners need more time to develop. The Jets will shuttle two power-play units, with Bogosian part of that mix. He picked up two assists, at even strength, in the season opener. Sometimes you follow the shots and pedigree, and hope the light goes on at age 24.
Anton Stralman showed us some power-play chops a few years ago, posting a 6-28-34 line with a bad Columbus team in 2009-10. The setup is better for him now: a plum spot in Tampa Bay, skating some with the first and second PP units. The Rangers didn't use Stralman as a specialist last year, so the point total was a washout. He won't automatically be with the top Lightning group, but there will be some overlap with the Steven Stamkos unit. This looks like an affordable 30-plus points.
• Shonn Greene (hamstring) is listed as doubtful, so we might finally get a look at Bishop Sankey in a featured role. Then again, with Ken Whisenhunt you never want to bet too heavily on logic. Jacksonville's rushing defense has been average on a per-play basis, though it looks worse on the gross-yardage page because of game flow and an 0-5 record.
• With Ryan Mathews (knee) and Donald Brown (concussion) out for Week 6, the Chargers will give Branden Oliver a long look at Oakland. Ronnie Brown has been signed for depth, but he's nothing special. If you have Oliver, I have to suspect you're starting him.
• Reggie Bush (ankle) didn't practice all week, and although he's listed as questionable, that sounds rather optimistic. Joique Bell (post concussion) had an active practice week and seems likely to return, with Theo Riddick and George Winn in reserve. Detroit has an early start with Minnesota, so we'll have early definition on their active list.
• Zac Stacy (calf) worked Friday and probably will play Monday against San Francisco, though we'd like to see him do well in the Saturday workout. Benny Cunningham is getting about a third of the carries for the team thus far in 2014.
• Although Knowshon Moreno (elbow) had three limited practices during the week, the Dolphins list him as probable. I can't trust Moreno as a fantasy play until I see something on the field.
• Fred Jackson is dealing with an ankle injury and a fever kept him out of Friday's practice, but it's hard to imagine him missing the showdown against New England. We'll know in plenty of time, as it's an early kickoff.
• Toby Gerhart (foot) won't play at Tennessee, which might pave the way for a Storm Johnson breakthrough. If you'd like to read some Johnson propaganda, Andy Behrens has you covered.
• Jonathan Stewart (knee) had a partial practice week and might be able to play at Cincinnati, but I hope your backfield doesn't need him.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
• Although A.J. Green (toe) is listed as questionable on the injury report, that merely looks like the Bengals playing games. Green is considered week-to-week and unlikely to play against Carolina on Sunday. Mohamed Sanu deserves a cheat-sheet bump in Green's absence.
• Calvin Johnson (ankle) is listed as doubtful, and like Green he's basically week-to-week at this point. Golden Tate is smoking-hot right now and is a good start against Minnesota.
• Greg Olsen (ankle) missed two days of practice before a partial day Friday. He's considered questionable, but at least he has an early start at Cincinnati.
• Vincent Jackson (rib) did some Friday work after missing time earlier in the week. He's listed as questionable for Sunday's early start with Baltimore. Teammate Mike Evans (groin) is rehabbing quickly and has a shot to play. I'd prefer to wait and see with Evans, not risk anything this week, but he should be close to 100 percent after Tampa Bay's Week 7 bye.
• Eric Decker (hamstring) did some work and has a shot to play against his former Denver mates, though he's listed as questionable. Even if Decker starts, you have to be concerned about an early departure.
• Cecil Shorts (hamstring) is listed as probable, not that you're eager to dial up any Jacksonville receiver right now.
• Vernon Davis (back) has been practicing and has a chance to play against St. Louis, though it's far from a sure thing. He was wearing a non-contact jersey at Saturday's practice. He's officially listed as questionable.
• Jordan Reed (hamstring) has a chance to return this week, though it's risky with a late start at Arizona. He had a partial workout in each of the three main practice days.
• Malcom Floyd (hamstring) missed some practice time and is listed as questionable.
• Devin Hester (hamstring) worked Friday and should be able to play in his grudge match against Chicago. Harry Douglas (foot) remains out.
• Jarret Boykin (groin) won't play, which pushes more snaps to Davante Adams at Miami.
• Logan Thomas took all the Arizona reps this week, while Carson Palmer (shoulder) and Drew Stanton (concussion) rested. The Cardinals aren't going to name their Week 6 starter until just before game-time, and they have a second-wave start against Washington. Good times. Thomas looked confused and overmatched in his stint at Denver last week.
• Tom Brady (ankle) showed up on the Friday injury report, a surprise. This probably is the usual Patriot games, but check back Sunday morning just to confirm his status.
• The Titans haven't ruled Jake Locker (thumb) out for the home game against Jacksonville, but all logical signs point to him sitting. Charlie Whitehurst is the next option, with rookie Zach Mettenberger a possibility if the offense starts slowly.
• Teddy Bridgwater (ankle) is ready to return for the Vikings. The Lions present a daunting matchup.
• Derek Carr (knee/ankle) should be able to play against San Diego, though he missed some reps this week.
Jacksonville running back Toby Gerhart was a moderately buzzy fantasy commodity back in August, but his stock took a nosedive in the opener and hasn't recovered. We're now five games into Gerhart's season, and he's averaging 2.6 yards per carry. These are the week-by week yardage totals he's delivered thus far: 57, 17, 63, 40, 29.
Add in the fact that Gerhart has only visited the end-zone once, and we have a running back who cannot be started, except perhaps in deep AFC South-only leagues (which do not exist).
To be fair to Gerhart, health issues have clearly limited his performance this season. He injured an ankle in Week 1, then suffered a foot sprain/malfunction last Sunday. This week, Toby has been ruled out for the Jaguars matchup at Tennessee.
If for some reason you're still interested in the Jacksonville ground game, we have a new name for you. This from the Florida Times-Union:
We won’t know for sure until Sunday but [Gus] Bradley sure indicated like Storm Johnson would be getting a big shot at playing against the Titans. The Jaguars are searching for a run-game pulse and Johnson – fourth on the tailback depth chart during camp – will be the next one up.
Johnson is a rookie from UCF, like his quarterback, and he played a small role in Week 5 for the Jaguars, carrying four times for 27 yards. He has nice strength, size (6-foot-0, 216) and vision, but he doesn't quite have top-end speed (4.6). Ball security has been a concern, too.
Still, Johnson was a productive collegiate player, at least for one season (1139 rush, 30 REC, 17 TDs), and he has a decent opportunity ahead. He could be looking at something like a 10-15 touch workload against a not-so-intimidating opponent. The Titans currently rank 26th in the league against the run, allowing 136.8 rushing yards per game. In Week 7, assuming Johnson is still in backfield mix, he'll get Cleveland, a team allowing 5.1 yards per carry and 152.5 per game.
So if you're involved in a league where medium-volume RBs from bad teams are worth rostering, then Johnson is your man. He's available in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues, which means that most of you can take a flier. It reeks of desperation, sure, but we've all been there.
Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for Week 6.
Coming off back-to-back unsatisfactory efforts, Nick Foles fantasy points scored in Yahoo standard (4 pts/pass td, 1 pt/25 yds passing) leagues Sunday night versus New York 17.9.
Brandon – OVER. This is a team that is scoring 31 points per game, and this is a QB that has gone over this number in 9 of his past 13 regular-season games. Sure, it's a tough matchup, but Foles is at home against a defense that he's at least familiar with. I'll put him down for 300 passing yards, 2 TD passes and a pick.
Scott – OVER. I realize Foles isn't playing well right now and the Giants secondary is a tricky draw. But I don't have any faith in the Eagles rushing game at the moment, and eventually those lucky Philadelphia return touchdowns are going to fade away (leading to more offensive snaps). I trust Chip Kelly, I trust Jeremy Maclin and his henchmen, and I guess that means I trust Foles too. Heck, see if you can buy low on Foles (that's a buy-low recco you can actually act on).
Brad – UNDER. The Giants secondary is the second-stingiest in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, only Denver is better. Prince Amukamura and DRC are giving up a 55.5 QB rating and 50.0 catch percentage to their assignments. Sure, the volume is always attractive, but, Foles, who ranks dead last in the league in accuracy percentage, will be exposed.
Ronnie Hillman, who is expected to take over the lead role in the Broncos backfield with Montee Ball sidelined, touches against the Jets 16.5.
Andy – WHO CARES? Is that an acceptable answer here? If not, I'll say UNDER. But I really don't see the appeal of the Denver backfield this week, against an excellent defensive front. I didn't bid aggressively on Hillman this week, because A) the schedule ahead is rough, B) he's probably the third-best between-the-tackles runner in this backfield, and C) I don't think he'll show us enough to claim Montee Ball's job. Whether he gets 12 touches this week or 18, I don't view him as a strong play.
Brandon – UNDER. I want nothing to do with the Denver backfield this week for a couple reasons, first and foremost being that it is facing a Jets defense allowing 3.4 YPC to opposing running backs. Another concern is that Denver has been the fifth-least productive fantasy backfield to this point. And, finally, there's a the lack of certainty of ball distribution in the backfield. Would anyone really be surprised if Hillman was mostly ineffective in the first half and suddenly Juwan Thompson is getting a featured shot after halftime?
Dalton – OVER. I don’t expect much more than this, but Hillman saw 15 touches last week after replacing an injured Montee Ball mid-game. His matchup is tough against the Jets, but last week’s opponent (the Cardinals) have actually allowed even fewer fantasy points to opposing backs this season. It’s safe to expect Denver to be playing while ahead for much of Sunday’s game as well.
In his first game back from an elbow injury that cost him multiple weeks, Knowshon Moreno rushing yards against Green Bay 79.5.
Brandon – UNDER. He's still no guarantee to play - he's not out of the game-time decision woods yet. And, that being the case, he's too risky to play this week in fantasy, and certainly not someone you should count on for 80 YFS, especially with Lamar Miller playing well.
Dalton – UNDER. The Packers are vulnerable against the run, and Miami will try to be ground-heavy in an attempt to keep the potent Green Bay offense off the field, but Moreno is coming off a elbow injury that was originally expected to keep him sidelined longer than this surprise Week 6 return. Moreover, Lamar Miller has gotten 5.7 YPC this season and should see at least half the touches this week.
Andy – UNDER. Clearly the matchup works, but we have no reason to think that Moreno will see a full workload in his return from injury. Lamar Miller has been a little fumbly, but he's otherwise been productive (5.7 YPC). Moreno needs to be owned, obviously, but he's not a must-start just yet.
Brandon Marshall, whose barely made a peep over the past three weeks, receptions in Atlanta 5.5.
Dalton – OVER. He hasn’t topped this number since Week 1, but Marshall is getting closer to 100 percent, and coach Marc Trestman has recently said the WR needs more targets. Marshall has averaged 109.0 receptions over the past two seasons, and the over/under in this game is a league-high 53.5 points.
Brad – OVER. He's practiced with few limitations for the second straight week. This Sunday, he returns to greatness. Only two receivers have gone over this mark against the Falcons this year, but in a game promised by Vegas to provide ample fantasy goodness (53.5 over/under), he's a shoo-in for at least 7-75-1.
Scott – Easiest OVER there is. I see some buy-low recommendations on Marshall, but it seems like wishful thinking to me. Everyone in Chicago realizes No. 15 needs to get the ball, and that will be fixed this week.
Man of the moment in San Diego, Branden Oliver, off 182-total yards, 2-TD explosion against the Jets, combined yards in the follow-up in Oakland 119.5.
Andy – YES, PLEASE. OVER. He's facing the league's No. 31 ranked run defense, and he should have the rushing workload all to himself. Oliver was a revelation in Week 5. He's a recommended play here, a likely top-10 fantasy RB. I'm in.
Scott – OVER. If you can do it against the Jets, you can do it against anyone. San Diego's offense loves its balance, and there's no back around to steal major touches from Oliver. It pains me to have him on zero teams; that's FAAB leverage for you. A big game is likely, a monster game possible.
Dalton – OVER. This may seem a bit crazy with such an unproven back, especially one who’s 5-8. But with the recent Ronnie Brown signing, it sure seems like Donald Brown will be out, so I expect Oliver to get 20+ touches. The Raiders have yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Odell Beckham Jr., who made a noticeable splash in his NFL debut catching four passes for 44 yards and a TD, standard fantasy points scored in Philly 9.9.
Brad – OVER. In his first ever NFL game, the first-rounder delivered on his promise. His routes were smooth, he displayed considerable quickness and gained separation. Putting it mildly, Philly's secondary stinks. Odds are strong the rookie finishes inside the WR top-30 with ease.
Andy – UNDER. He's a talented receiver and the matchup clearly works, but he's still no more than the third option in this team's passing game. He played 38 snaps last week and saw five targets. I'm not willing to assume a jump in usage, so I'm forecasting four catches and 50-ish receiving yards this week, with no spike.
Brandon – OVER. The Eagles allow nearly three passing touchdowns per game, and the Giants are second in the league in Red Zone scoring attempts per game behind Indy. Beckham's role is expecected to keep growing and he's a quality route runner. I think he will cash in on a RZ opportunity again in this one.
TE Tussle. Pick one for Week 6: Owen Daniels (at TB), Antonio Gates (at Oak), Jordan Cameron (vs. Pit) or Larry Donnell (vs. Phi)?
Brandon – GATES. Not sure how you can go against Gates, the No. 2 fantasy tight end, in a matchup (OAK) that certainly shouldn't scare you.
Dalton – CAMERON. I currently have these three literally ranked back-to-back-to-back on my tight end ranks this week. The Raiders have actually allowed the fewest receptions to opposing TEs this year, although the Eagles have allowed fewer fantasy points to them. I’m stubbornly sticking with Cameron, but he’s been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments so far in 2014.
Brad – DONNELL. Load up on Giants. Seriously, start everyone. Eli, Randle, ODB, Andre Williams, Mark Bavaro, Rodney Hampton ... everyone. In a game brimming with fantasy appeal, Donnell rebounds strongly after last week's donut disaster.
Andre Williams, filling the void for tender-kneed Rashad Jennings, final fantasy rank among Week 6 RBs 12.5.
Dalton – OVER. I have him ranked No. 10 for this week, but there are so many possibilities of an unknown going off, the safe bet here is the under. Williams remains raw as a pass catcher, and the Eagles have allowed just two rushing scores all season (they’ve ceded twice as many receiving touchdowns to opposing RBs).
Brad – OVER. This one's very close, but I'm projecting roughly 75-80 combined yards for the rookie on what should be a season-high workload. He's a top-notch RB2, but unless he surpasses the 90-yard, 1-TD mark, it's unlikely he ventures into RB1 territory.
Scott – This probably comes down to the touchdown column, because volume shouldn't be a concern. I think Williams is better than 50-50 to spike in Week 6 (the Giants move the ball well; Philly doesn't stop opponents), so I'll go UNDER, call him a Top 12 back.
BOLD PREDICTION. The one wide receiver under 50-percent started in Yahoo leagues that has the best chance to penetrate the top-10 (PPR) in Week 6 is ____________.
Brad – ANDREW HAWKINS. In Cleveland's first matchup against Pittsburgh, Hawkins was PPR gold. Targeted 10 times, he caught eight passes for 87 yards. He's yet to find the end zone, but he's sure to score at some point. On another robust workload, he's a near lock for another 6-plus receptions and 80 yards. Splash six, and he's a top-10 producer.
Scott – If you're super-desperate for a wideout (I'm thinking 14 team leagues and up), maybe ANDRE ROBERTS can do something for you. He's scored in the last two games, and has four catches or more in three of his last four starts. Those aren't Pro Bowl stats, but in deeper pools, they may be of interest to you. Arizona's secondary has been overrated from the first day of summer camp.
Andy – Seriously, who the heck ever looks at "percent started"? So weird. I'll say KENNY BRITT here, just because I like to keep pushing. I'll remind you again that Britt's usage has essentially been the same as Brian Quick's over the past two games (13 targets), but he's somehow widely available. I don't see him as substantially less valuable than Quick moving forward.
Honorable mention in this weird category: JORDAN MATTHEWS.
Top-Five Buys. Your best bets (versus the spread or over/unders) for Week 6.
Andy – 1) GB -3 at Mia, 2) SF -3 at STL, 3) Dal +8 at Sea, 4) TB +3 vs. Bal, 5) Chi +3 at Atl
Brandon – 1) TB +3 vs Bal, 2) MIA +3 vs. GB 3) CAR +6.5 @ Cin, 4) DET-MIN over 43.5, 5) CAR-CIN under 43.5,
Dalton – 1) ARI (-3.5) vs. Was 2) PHI (-2.5) vs. NYG 3) TB (+3) vs. Bal 4) MIN (+1.5) vs. Atl 5) SF (-3) at Stl
Scott – 1) BUF +3, 2) MIN +1.5, 3) Dal +8, 4) NYG-PHI over 50, 5) CLE-PIT under 46.5. Bonus: Orioles in 6.
Brad – 1) Dal (+8) at Sea, 2) OVER (50) NYG/Phi, 3) GB (-3) at Mia, 4) StL (+3) vs. SF, 5) UNDER (47) Dal/Sea
The alarming turnover at the running back position presumably reached a crescendo last week as Rashad Jennings, Donald Brown and Montee Ball all succumbed to significant setbacks. Their departures add fresh blood to the RB mix as Andre Williams, Brandon Oliver and Ronnie Hillman will have every opportunity to prove their mettle.
Hopefully, you bought in.
On this week’s exuberant show, Melanie Collins, Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens and Shaun King will tell you what newfangled starter will guide owners to victory in Week 6. Additionally, our group of merry fanalysts will clash over the values of Tony Romo, LeSean McCoy and Vincent Jackson and decide whether to keep or kick Cordarrelle Patterson to the curb.
Have a pressing fantasy need? Here’s how you can join the circus:
As always, our dastardly duo, Brad and Brandon, will man our two-hour pregame show. On the docket, sleepers, busts and shocker specials from every remaining game, deliciously toasted bagels and likely arguments over San Francisco 49ers. Get in on the action here:
You guys, these are words that actually fell out of Norv Turner's mouth:
"There's things we've got in every week for Cordarrelle, and we're anxious to get him more involved. We'll keep trying to."
Cordarrelle Patterson has received just two offensive touches in each of his last two games, which is not the usage anyone expected. It certainly does not suggest an anxious offensive coordinator.
In fact, since Patterson's ridiculous 67-yard touchdown run in the opener, he's received exactly one carry. Matt Asiata has 60. SIXTY. Patterson has largely served as a decorative piece of the Minnesota offense, a decoy. But he won't function well in that capacity forever, unless the Vikings occasionally remind opponents why they should account for him.
Thus, Norv says they'll try to get him more involved. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a promise, though. I did not detect genuine anxiousness. Again, the Vikes could just HAND PATTERSON THE FOOTBALL AT ANY TIME if they cared so deeply about increasing his touches. This is still, I believe, a legal maneuver in the NFL.
So we wait.
Earlier today, I dealt Cordarrelle for C.J. Spiller in a 20-team league — a dud-for-dud swap. (The deal also involved scrap-heap QBs, but the heart of it was Patterson-for-Spiller.) If you've recently traded Patterson, feel free to share the details in comments. I'm very far from writing him off as a fantasy asset — the kid gave us nine total TDs last year, after all — but we've clearly reached a stage where WR1 upside is a far-off dream.
Really, I'd just like to see another six-touch game. The last time that happened, Patterson gained 128 yards. So perhaps Asiata can spare a couple of carries.
The Shuffle Up series is all about value to come. What's happened to this point is merely an audition. How would you rank the players if you were starting from fresh today? (These are not Week 6 ranks.)
The dollar values are merely comparison tools; they're not assembled in any scientific way. Players at the same position are considered even. We're aiming to illustrate tiers, show where the pockets of value are.
You'll disagree with some things (perhaps many things) because that's why we have a game in the first place. Share your respectful disagreement in the comments. (Quarterbacks and wideouts are shuffled in the odd weeks.)
$31 DeMarco Murray
$31 Marshawn Lynch
$30 LeVeon Bell
$30 Matt Forte
$29 Jamaal Charles
$27 Giovani Bernard
$27 Eddie Lacy
$25 LeSean McCoy
$24 Arian Foster
$23 Andre Ellington
There's been a lot written about the big-name RB busts of 2014, and a lot of hair pulled out. But let's back up for a second and consider one thing: maybe the running back board isn't that much of a minefield after all. The RB1s from this draft have actually held up reasonably well.
Okay, with McCoy, Charles, Peterson, no arguments there. They've all flopped. But if you picked a RB from the 4-13 list off ADP, you did well. Seven of them have hit, if we use their Yahoo winning percentage (the cumulative records of Yahoo teams rostering that player; hat tip, Automated Insights). Your friends are these guys: Forte, Lynch, Murray, Bernard, Foster, Morris and Levy Bell. Most of them look rock-solid going forward.
Ellington is currently at 50 percent, a wash. The two misses in the 4-13 pocket are Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy (and maybe Lacy is on the rebound).
To be fair, I'm doing a little cherry picking here: Automated Insights provided me the Top 15 backs to examine, and the 14 and 15 guys are misses (Stacy, Martin). But when I pursued their wideout data by winning percentage, I was intrigued to see just six of the Top 23 wideouts are tied to a winning fantasy record in Yahoo leagues.
I still think you're more likely to get on base with a first-round receiver pick, but perhaps the slugging percentage is better if you hit on a running back. A lot more research needs to be done with this stuff, of course. A 4-5 game sample from 2014 can't be used to conclude anything. But I do know this: if a genie could provide me with one and only one sure thing every August, I'd always ask for the running back name.
$19 Alfred Morris
$19 Ben Tate
$18 Ahmad Bradshaw
$16 Frank Gore
$13 Stevan Ridley
$13 Chris Ivory
$13 Fred Jackson
$12 C.J. Spiller
$11 Knowshon Moreno
$11 Zac Stacy
$11 Lamar Miller
$10 Matt Asiata
$10 Justin Forsett
$10 Shane Vereen
$10 Rashad Jennings
$9 Bishop Sankey
$9 Darren Sproles
$8 Doug Martin
$8 Mark Ingram
$8 Trent Richardson
Morris is one of my favorite backs to watch, a smart, physical, determined one-cut runner. Alas, he's languishing on a team that's a terrible fit for his skills.
The Redskins defense is a joke, of course, which means the team is often playing catch-up late - and using backs other than Morris. Washington has also been lax in developing Morris as a receiver; while part of that is a nod to what Roy Helu can do, it's still a mistake. Why not make your offense harder to decipher (and defend) when your primary tailback is on the field?
Morris is an intelligent player and theoretically capable of playing in all situations, the team just won't let him. I'll continue to dream my impossible dream, the idea of Morris being moved to a different club at the deadline. And for fantasy purposes, I have to keep him in on the RB 1/2 borderline, not a sure-thing RB1.
A bunch of losses haven't forced the Titans to elevate Sankey over Greene, but maybe a Greene injury will save them from themselves . . . As much as I don't like Richardson's abilty, he offers a sneaky flex floor because the Colts keep feeding him touches . . . I'd like to go lower on Martin, but he's another guy who's bailed out by a team that's hopelessly devoted to him . . . The Jets have finally accepted that Ivory is far and away their best back. He runs like he wants to cause injury (to a defender or himself) on every snap, but he'll be a strong RB2 until the breaking point comes. The abilty is not a problem here . . . Asiata's defined role and simple path to goal-line touches keep his value afloat, no matter that he's an ordinary talent.
$7 Jeremy Hill
$7 Ryan Mathews
$7 Reggie Bush
$6 Branden Oliver
$5 Steven Jackson
$5 Andre Williams
$4 Joique Bell
$4 Knile Davis
$4 Ronnie Hillman
$4 Carlos Hyde
$4 James Starks
$4 C.J. Anderson
$3 Khiry Robinson
$3 Pierre Thomas
$3 Montee Ball
$3 Darren McFadden
$3 Antone Smith
$3 Bobby Rainey
$3 Bernard Pierce
$3 Alfred Blue
$3 Denard Robinson
$3 Joseph Randle
$2 Jerick McKinnon
$2 Chris Johnson
$2 Lorenzo Taliaferro
$2 Jonathan Stewart
$2 Isaiah Crowell
$2 Storm Johnson
$2 Robert Turbin
$2 KaDeem Carey
Good luck trading Ball - most of you will have to decide to stash or drop. I won't be surprised if someone runs away with the gig while Ball is out, though it could be any one of three guys. And maybe there's an outside chance of Denver trading for somebody . . . If the Falcons haven't increased Smith's role by now, it's hard to imagine it will ever happen. He's also 29, for what it's worth . . . Denard Robinson was injury-prone in college and I think the Jags want to be careful with his workload . . . I expect Oliver to have a role with the Chargers even after Ryan Mathews comes back. He looked terrific Week 5, and remember he did it against a defense that normally stuffs the run.
$1 Toby Gerhart
$1 Shonn Greene
$1 Benny Cunningham
$1 Terrance West
$1 Roy Helu Jr.
$1 Maurice Jones-Drew
$1 LeGarrette Blount
$1 DeAngelo Williams
$1 Donald Brown
$1 Juwan Thompson
$1 Lance Dunbar
$1 Bilal Powell
$1 Marcel Reece
$0 Devonta Freeman
$0 Dexter McCluster
$0 DeAnthony Thomas
$0 Jacquizz Rodgers
$0 Stepfan Taylor
And here are your tight ends.
$30 Jimmy Graham
$30 Julius Thomas
$27 Rob Gronkowski
$23 Greg Olsen
$22 Martellus Bennett
$20 Delanie Walker
$20 Antonio Gates
$19 Travis Kelce
$16 Larry Donnell
$16 Zach Ertz
$15 Vernon Davis
It's a good time to trade for Donnell; his owner might be nervous after the Week 5 bagel. The Falcons were determined not to let Donnell beat them last week (on the heels of the three-touchdown show in Week 4), but I doubt other teams will replicate that plan . . . Hopefully the Chiefs spend much of their bye week trying to unleash and unlock The Kelce Show. He's easily the best receiver the team has, and perhaps the 2-3 record (and Week 5 loss) will be an incentive to change and innovation. I doubt the price is cheap, but I'd nonetheless ask about him now - maybe the bye week could open the path to a trade. He still has major breakout potential.
$13 Heath Miller
$12 Jordan Cameron
$11 Dwayne Allen
$8 Jason Witten
$8 Jordan Reed
$6 Owen Daniels
$5 Tim Wright
$5 Charles Clay
$4 Jared Cook
$4 Austin Seferian-Jenkins
$3 Kyle Rudolph
$3 Ladarius Green
$3 Clay Harbor
$3 Eric Ebron
Wright moves like a wide receiver (his position in college) and the Pats badly need downfield threats and seam factors. Wright only had around 20 snaps in the win over Cincinnati, but that didn't stop him from a tasty 5-85-1 line. He's an interesting TE2 for now, and could be a TE1 in the near future . . . Witten's YPC and catch rate are fine, but he's stuck on zero touchdowns and his opportunities have cratered. I'd suggest you try to deal him, but where's the market? Even Cowboys fans probably know to stay away from the 32-year-old. He's the team's fourth option . . . We had a better headline for this piece but Cook dropped it . . . The Chargers are sitting on a future Pro Bowler with Green, but they keep him under wraps for some reason. Looks like we'll have to wait until 2015. Opponents must be doing cartwheels when they watch Green not being used, week-after-week . . . Even with the Browns playing in a bunch of shootouts, Cameron hasn't done much. Later in the year, Josh Gordon complicates the mix.
$2 Scott Chandler
$2 Garrett Graham
$1 Coby Fleener
$1 Andrew Quarless
$1 Anthony Fasano
$1 Jace Amaro
$1 Mychal Rivera
$1 Rob Housler
$1 Niles Paul
$0 Zach Miller
$0 John Carlson
$0 Luke Willson
$0 Jermaine Gresham
Straight cash homie! In his never-ending quest to pay off his kids' college education early, Brad Evans unveils his FanDuel picks for the upcoming week and explains his reasoning behind them. Make that money, #TeamHuevos.
FAKE BUDGET: $60,000
Eli Manning, NYG, QB (FanDuel Price: $7,200) – Back in business, Eli has completed 70.1 percent of his passes and posted an 8:1 TD:INT split over the past three weeks. He's benefited from clean pockets, thrown crisp balls downfield and spread the love. In what should be a high-scoring affair Sunday night in Philly, he's a near lock for multiple scores and a handsome yardage total. Because of their exhaustive pace and porous DB play, the Eagles have allowed the most fantasy points to QBs, yielding 291.6 passing yards and 2.6 passing touchdowns per game. At $7,200 smackaroos, he's a brand name at a generic price.
Matt Forte, Chi, RB ($9,000) – He's incredibly expensive, but FanDuelers need to shell out the bucks for the Bear. In a PPR friendly format, you'll get what you pay for. Touchdowns have been scarce, but he's averaged 123.6 total yards per game this season, forcing numerous missed tackles. Expect him to tally fiery numbers in Hot-lanta. No defense has been more generous to rushers than the Falcons. On the year, they've surrendered 193.2 total yards per game and nine touchdowns to RBs. Given Jay Cutler's ability to stretch the field and the Bears' terrific offensive line, Forte should jet through countless wide holes. Another 120-plus yards, many of those coming through the air, are on tap.
Branden Oliver, SD, RB ($6,200) – This week's most highly sought after waiver pickup is also a very employable daily game option. At his rock-bottom price and given his wonderfuly friendly matchup (at Oak), it's hard not to get giddy about his Week 6 potential. Shot out of a cannon against the usually unforgiving Jets, the upstart totaled 182 yards and two scores on 23 touches last Sunday. Impressively, he forced six missed tackles and generated 62.3 percent of his yards after contact. Short, compact and powerful, he continues his fantasy ascencion against a Raiders D that's given up 4.56 yards per carry and the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs. Newly signed veteran Ronnie Brown may wrest a handful of touches, but another century-mark effort is upcoming.
Julio Jones, Atl, WR ($9,000) –Thanks to the sensational bargains at QB and RB this week, savvy investors will be able to afford the luxury of playing Julio. He's worth every penny. The Bears secondary, hampered by injuries and underachievement, will have its hands full trying to contain the league's best deep-ball weapon. Rookie Kyle Fuller has been magnificent, but if Jones lines up opposite Tim Jennings, a long TD reception is a foregone conclusion. The embattled corner has yielded a 106.8 QB rating and 14.7 yards per catch this season. Jones has recorded at least six catches and 80 yards in every game this year. This Sunday, he easily extends that streak. In a contest with plenty of shootout appeal (53.5 over/under in Vegas), Jones cages the Bears en route to a 7-100-1 day.
Victor Cruz, NYG, WR ($6,800) – Eli has dabbled in socialism during his hot streak, targeting Larry Donnell, Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle often. As a result, Cruz has tallied erratic numbers. After consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 3 and 4 he nearly vanished last Sunday hauling in three passes for just 22 yards. But because of this week's high-volume potential and Philly's dreadful pass defense, he's a dependable daily-game option. On roughly 8-10 targets, he's a shoo-in for at least five receptions and 80 yards.
Golden Tate, Det, WR ($6,400) – Possibly without the services of Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford is sure to zero in on No. 15. With Megatron banged up the past two weeks, the ex-'Hawk soared, catching 15 balls for 250 yards and a touchdown. His versatility, ferocity after the catch and strong hands should wreck havoc against a sketchy Minnesota D. Xavier Rhodes has performed admirably, but Captain Munnerlyn, who's conceded a 149.2 QB rating and 81.3 catch rate, is susceptible. Anticipate another 100-yard game from arguably the most underappreciated WR in virtual pigskin.
Owen Daniels, Bal, TE ($5,300) – Squashing thoughts of a TEBC in Baltimore, Daniels has elevated his game since Dennis Pitta was derailed by a hip injury. Last week, he played on 58-of-60 snaps, catching five passes for 70 yards. Going toe-to-toe with a Tampa D that's given up the third-most receiving yards to tight ends, he's a recommended purchase at his very affordable price. Roughly 4-6 receptions with 60-plus yards are likely.
Caleb Sturgis, Mia, K ($5,100) – The 10th-best kicker so far, he should receive plenty of chip shot opportunities against a Green Bay D that struggles bottling the run. Thanks to Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno, Sturgis boots his way to a profitable day.
Denver Broncos D/ST ($5,000) – They face Geno Smith. Enough said.
Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names who he believes are destined to
implode leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 6 Lames in the comments section below.
See Also: Week 6 Flames
Nick Foles, Phi, QB (68 percent started)
Matchup: vs. NYG
The Napoleon Dynamite of fantasy quarterbacks has fallen on hard times. He's repeatedly overthrown intended targets, produced only marginally in recent weeks and failed in his attempt to defeat Deb in tetherball. I've said this before and I'll say it again, underneath the surface Foles is seriously flawed. Compared to last season, he's regressed dramatically. According to Pro Football Focus, he's dead last among eligible quarterbacks in accuracy percentage and deep passing (11-for-42 on throws beyond 20 yards). Most egregiously, his 76.96 adjusted QB rating ranks only ahead of E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith and Blake Bortles. Stellar. To be fair, he remains one of the better play-action passers in the game and, largely due to Philly's inability to run the football and dizzying pace, continues to churn out high-volume outputs (40.8 pass attempts per game). Still, his sub-par production over the past two weeks combined with his homely underlying profile are cause for pause. So is his Week 6 opponent. Giants corners Prince Amukamura and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have been outstanding. In total, they've allowed a 50.0 catch rate and 55.5 QB rating to their assignments. Only Matthew Stafford has thrown for multiple TDs against them. Foles' slow slide toward mediocrity is officially underway.
Fearless Forecast: 22-39, 268 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions, 8 rushing yards, 16.2 fantasy points
Alfred Morris, Was, RB (77 percent started)
Matchup: at Ari
For the Butler, friendly opponents are everything. In favorable tilts (e.g. NYG and Jax), he achieved fruitful RB1-level numbers. However, against average or stout run Ds (e.g. Philly and Seattle), he didn't exactly rise to the occasion. In other words, the man is far from matchup proof. After what Bruce Arians called "the dirtiest play" he's seen in 37 years of coaching, the Cardinals will attempt to overcome the incredible loss of defensive leader Calais Campbell. His absence along with a slew of other injuries has pinned AZ against the wall. Yet despite the tolls, the Desert Birds have found a way. Kareem Martin, Campbell's replacement, has giant shoes to fill, but the rookie and his cohorts should succeed in containing Morris. Linebacker Larry Foote has done a marvelous job stuffing RBs. He ranks top-10 among all LBs in run defense according to Pro Football Focus. Typically dogged inside The UPS, the Cards front line has also allowed just four touchdowns and 3.67 yards per carry to rushers in their past 10 home games. Morris will receive his usual 20-carry load, but expect only ordinary results.
Fearless Forecast: 21 carries, 74 rushing yards, 1 reception, 6 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.7 fantasy points
LeSean McCoy, Phi, RB (96 percent started)
Matchup: vs. NYG
In a plot twist no fantasy player saw coming, the previous version of Shady, an unstoppable, versatile scoring machine, has vanished into thin air. Stupid alien abductions. Overnight it seems, the rusher has gone from gold to garbage. Philly's dilapidated offensive line deserves plenty of blame, but so does McCoy. Too often moving east-west instead of north-south, he's ran timidly, choosing to swing for the fences instead of taking the three-yard gain, a very Chris Johnson-like approach. Queasily, 47 of his 94 rush attempts (50.0 percent) have gone for one, zero or negative yards, up from 30.2 percent last year. Even when presented with exploitable matchups (e.g. St. Louis in Week 5), he couldn't spark a turnaround. Sadly, expect more of the same Sunday night. The Giants have conceded the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs this year. However, only Andre Ellington has cracked the 80-yard mark against them on the ground. New York has played loosely on designed dump-offs and screens – RBs are averaging 6.8 receptions per game against it – but McCoy has surrendered several touches to Darren Sproles in the pass game. Count on another RB2, not RB1, level performance in 12-teamers.
Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 76 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 11.2 fantasy points
Kelvin Benjamin, Car, WR (65 percent started)
Matchup: at Cin
Of all the rookie wide receivers from this year's loaded class, Benjamin unquestionably has been the most consistent. His height, condor-like wingspan and effective long-range speed have tied the hands of many defensive backs. Drops are problematic for the young wideout, but he's rapidly developed into one of the better deep ball weapons in the league. Whether PPR or standard, he's tallied a top-15 line through five games. However, the Bengals are an intimidating foe. Humiliated last week by Tom Brady in New England, Terrance Newman and Leon Hall will rebound at home. Including last week's debacle, they've allowed a lowly 8.9 yards per catch to their assignments and an overall 68.9 QB rating. Collectively, Cincinnati has given up only a pair of double-digit performers at WR this year (Steve Smith and Julio Jones). Because Cam Newton is living in the pocket, the rookie should again garner 8-10 targets. Still, given the unfavorable opponent, I'm betting on a mediocre return.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 49 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7.9 fantasy points
Vincent Jackson, TB, WR (83 percent started)
Matchup: vs. Bal
V-Jax and Mike Glennon seriously need to get a room. Since Glennon regained the starting job, the tandem have been nearly inseparable. Over the past two games, Glennon has looked the receiver's way 22 times, connecting 11 times for 176 yards and a touchdown. Louis Murphy has allowed Glennon's eye to wander a bit, but it's safe to assume another handsome workload is on tap for Jackson. However, only satisfactory numbers are in the forecast. Largely due to its weak execution at safety, Baltimore has occasionally surrendered big plays downfield. On the year, they rank top-five in most 20-yard pass plays allowed. Still, corners Jimmy Smith and Asa Jackson have thrived in coverage, conceding only 8.12 yards per catch. If Matt Elam and Darian Stewart can elevate their play, it will be an uneventful afternoon for Jackson.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 59 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.6 fantasy points
Reader Record: 23-12, 65.7%
The NFL's Thursday extravaganza is kind of a big deal this week, with Indianapolis and Houston entering the night tied atop the AFC South.
Fantasy-wise, the matchup features our game's top-scoring quarterback (Andrew Luck), the No. 4 and No. 6 running backs (Arian Foster, Ahmad Bradshaw), three top-30 receivers (DeAndre Hopkins, Reggie Wayne, TY Hilton), a sneaky-good tight end (Dwayne Allen), plus a pair of top-12 kickers and defenses.
So we'll have fantasy starters all over the field in tonight's game, in all phases. Bankable assets. Houston has been a relatively top-heavy team for fantasy purposes, with all the touchdowns essentially owned by three players: Foster, Hopkins and J.J. Watt. But the Colts have spread the wealth a bit more, while also generating a lot of wealth. Indy ranks second in the NFL in total yards per game (441.6) and first in scoring (31.2).
Luck leads the league in both passing yards (1,617) and touchdowns (14), yet no Colts wideout currently ranks among the top-20 receivers in fantasy scoring. He's thrown TD passes to six different players, but somehow his most heavily targeted receiver (Hilton) isn't one of them. Indy's receiving corps is a deep group, and Luck utilizes everyone. Thus, the Colts' roster is a good place to look for fliers...
WR Hakeem Nicks (33 percent owned, 5 percent started) – Nicks isn't for everyone, I'll freely admit. If you're playing in a 10-team league, he's not really on the radar. But he's still running as the No. 3 WR in this offense, in terms of both snaps and targets. Check the full-season usage of this team's receivers and tight ends, via Pro Football Focus:
Reggie Wayne – 329 snaps, 44 targets, 30 receptions
TY Hilton – 286 snaps, 49 targets, 31 receptions
Dwayne Allen – 273 snaps, 20 targets, 15 receptions
Coby Fleener – 247 snaps, 19 targets, 11 receptions
Hakeem Nicks – 234 snaps, 25 targets, 15 receptions
Jack Doyle – 135 snaps, 6 targets, 6 receptions
Donte Moncrief – 62 snaps, 9 targets, 8 receptions
Nicks has seen six targets in each of the Colts' last two games, and he has a pair of touchdown catches so far this season (which is two more than he had last year in New York). He's in the discussion if you're looking for a WR3 in a deep-ish league. Houston's defense has allowed the tenth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, so the matchup isn't the worst.
TE Coby Fleener (22 percent owned, 10 percent started) – Would I prefer to roll with Allen, if you made me start a Colts tight end? Yes, I would. Anyone would. But Allen is 61 percent owned, and thus not eligible for flier status. Also, as you can see above, it's not as if Allen's opportunities have dwarfed Fleener's to this point in the year. Coby saw the field for 45 snaps in Week 5, so he wasn't stuck on the sideline. I'm using him this week as a Kelce placeholder in two leagues, which means he's on the approved list. Here's hoping he gives us an end-zone spike.
It's no fun when the best players in football aren't on the field, and that might be the case with A.J. Green this week. Frustrating time in the Queen City. There's a whimpering noise coming from the WKRP offices.
Green aggravated his toe injury early in Wednesday's practice and left on a golf cart. The toe has been a multiple-week problem, dating back to Week 2. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com is one of the best beat writers around, so let's check in and get his take on the situation:
Green’s Pro Bowl toe is now in the hands of a blue-ribbon panel of doctors and while Bengaldom holds its collective breath, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson holds his cards in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Panthers.
Wednesday’s MRI is going to send him to another consultation with one of the nation’s leading foot specialists when he meets with Cincinnati doctor James Amis on Thursday. Since a visit with another foot specialist is also planned, it’s hard to see him being ready for Sunday, but he did play seven days after leaving the Atlanta game early.
It’s believed the MRI again showed no tears or breaks, but he’s obviously still having discomfort in the ligament under the sesamoid bone in the ball of the foot underneath the big or great toe.
At this point it’s all speculation because his foot is in the hands of doctors. So anything is on the table pending what they prescribe for treatment, ranging to more treatments while playing, to shutting him down for a few weeks, or maybe longer. Green was already examined by Amis last month. Amis is one of the few guys who has as many skins on the wall as Green. He's the magician/surgeon who operated on Leon Hall's two torn Achilles to jump start two miracle rehabs.
Fantasy football is all about taking measured guesses, and here is mine. I'd be shocked if Green played this week. I also think it's easy to imagine him missing multiple weeks. It's a shame the Bengals already had their bye.
Leverage is the name of the game with so many fantasy decisions. A Green owner with a 5-0 or 4-1 record might be able to shrug this off, be patient, wait for the stud to return. Owners in a 1-4 or 0-5 hole should look at the trade market, see if a mobilization trade makes sense. (I have a Calvin Johnson team at 2-3 that's doing the same thing.) There's no obvious path for the 2-3 and 3-2 teams, it comes down to league shape and the trading habits of your league.
As for the real NFL, keep in mind Cincinnati is 3-1. That might buy an extra rest week for Green at some point. They have some additional leverage here.
The Bengals spin is fairly simple, the usual stuff. I'll be moving Andy Dalton down in my ranks; maybe he'll have fun against the Panthers, but it's certainly less likely if Green can't go. Mohamed Sanu becomes an interesting sleeper; he's unowned in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues. Maybe Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill will pick up some extra reps. I'm not sure when Marvin Jones will return, but I'm not trying him until a prove-it week.
Hang in there, Gang Green.
Thursday AM Update: Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, it's unlikely Green will play Week 6. And so it goes.
Group-think can be an especially scary thing when it comes to fantasy football rankings. After all, the unpredictable nature of the NFL game is part of what makes fantasy football so popular, and why some people like to say that the NFL acronym stands for "No F****** Logic." But when one of our Yahoo fantasy football analysts veers particularly far away from the rankings consensus, our curious nature begs for an explanation. So, with that in mind, I've identified two players from our Week 6 rankings that our Yahoo analysts love/hate significantly more than the rest of us, and have asked them to explain their reasoning. I'll kick things off with a couple of my outliers:
Love him: Andre Williams, NYG, RB - Funston RB rank No. 7 (Yahoo rank No. 13)
Williams looked like a young Brandon Jacobs when he pile drove his way into the end zone against Atlanta last weekend. At 230 pounds, he's a load to handle and has likely secured goal-line work (at a minimum) when Rashad Jennings returns, as Williams has cashed in on 2-of-3 glory carries compared to a 2-of-8 success rate for Jennings. And with Jennings out this week, head coach Tom Coughlin has given Williams his vote of confidence as the team's featured back vs. Philly on Sunday night - and if you know Coughlin, giving any rookie a vote of confidence is significant news.
With the expectations for 20-plus touches, I think Williams can push 100 yards from scrimmage (say, 85 rushing, 15 receiving) and splash paydirt against a Philly defense that has already allowed massive fantasy days to two other backs that are very physical by nature - Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw both finished as top 5 fantasy RBs the week they faced the Eagles.
Hate him: Pierre Garcon, Was, WR - Funston RB rank No. 38 (Yahoo No. 24)
Garcon as a WR2? No thank you. At least for this week, I agree with Richard Sherman when he said that the 'Skins receiver "doesn't matter in this league." In three of his five games, he's delivered fantasy owners less than three fantasy points. And he has just one game in which you would have walked away feeling happy about starting him - a 11/138/1 performance in Week 3 against a Philly defense that has allowed more fantasy points to the WR position than any other team. Sure, this week, he'll face an Arizona team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, but most of that can be attributed to getting shellacked in Denver last week - that can happen to anyone. Having to fly cross country to face Arizona in its home building on a short week is a whole different story. I see Garcon getting 60 receiving yards and, as he rarely gets in the end zone, I don't see him padding his totals with a TD. That likely lands him just inside the top 40 wideouts for Week 6.
Love him: Torrey Smith, Bal, WR - Evans WR rank No. 22 (Yahoo No. 39)
Septuagenarian Steve Smith has stolen the show in Baltimore thus far, but Smith’s first meaningful performance of 2014 is on the docket. Statistically speaking, Tampa DBs Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks are one of the worst coverage tandems in the league. Targeted 48 times, they’ve given up 35 receptions at a clip of 13.54 yards per catch. And overall, Tampa has yielded 18 receptions of 20-plus yards, the seventh-most in the league. I’m sensing a Torrential downpour in Tampa.
Hate him: Vincent Jackson, TB, WR - Evans WR rank No. 33 (Yahoo No. 15)
Undoubtedly, Mike Glennon has eyes for V-Jax. Louis Murphy has led the passer astray occasionally, but with 22 targets the past two games, Jackson continues to be the weapon of choice. The workload is highly attractive, however, the matchup isn’t. Ravens corners Jimmy Smith and Asa Jackson have been outstanding in coverage this year, allowing just 8.12 yards per catch. A heavy targets dose should be expected, but count on roughly five catches for 60 yards and nothing more.
Love him: Terrance Williams, Dal, WR - Pianowski WR rank No. 29 (Yahoo No. 38)
It's not so much that I love Williams in this spot - how can you love any wide receiver against Seattle? But I'm willing to accept that some teams are making productive plays against the Seahawks secondary. Green Bay's primary wideouts had reasonable openers in Seattle. Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen didn't light up the scoreboard, but they combined for 12 catches. Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker combined for 17 catches, 209 yards. DeSean Jackson had a huge Monday night game (5-157-1) and Andre Roberts snuck in a short touchdown.
Of course if Williams winds up matched against Richard Sherman, that's all she wrote. Go ask Pierre Garcon about that assignment. And I realize Williams's lofty production to this point has been touchdown-driven (five scores on 16 catches), which is always a tricky thing. Nonetheless, I'm willing to accept that Dallas's offense has been better than I projected in August, and Seattle's defense has been worse. Perhaps the Legion of Boom will have me feeling the pangs of regret come Sunday evening, but five weeks into the dance, I'm trusting the spreadsheet.
Hate him: Cordarrelle Patterson, Min, WR - Pianowski WR rank No. 69 (Yahoo No. 43)
It's time to accept that the Vikings don't know what they're doing with Patterson. The talented sophomore had runs of 12, 23 and 67 yards (the last one a touchdown) on opening day, putting fantasy owners in a frenzy. Since then? One measly carry. Patterson's also been mediocre through the air over that four-game segment (12-163-0, 20 targets), and it all adds up to the No. 74 receiver ranking in Yahoo from Weeks 2-5. You want to use him against Detroit's air-tight secondary? I sure don't.
Part of the problem is Patterson, of course - he's still raw as a receiver, learning the ins-and-outs of the position. Part of the dip has been the quarterbacking, and although Teddy Bridgewater should be the answer for Minnesota eventually, I'm not expecting immediate miracles from a rookie QB. A huge part of the problem is offensive coordinator Norv Turner. I regret anything nice or optimistic I said about Turner in the preseason. Until I see a prove-it week from Patterson, I can't endorse anyone playing him.
Love him: Kenny Britt, StL, WR – Behrens WR rank No. 41 (Yahoo No. 59)
Wherever you rank Brian Quick this week, that's the neighborhood where Britt belongs. These two players are used almost identically by the Rams. Quick just happens to be coming off the bigger game. Britt is playing 40-plus snaps each week, and he and Quick have seen the same number of targets over the last two games (13). Basically, they should have equal value moving forward, yet Britt is available everywhere and Quick is long gone.
Hate him: Shane Vereen, NE, RB – Behrens RB rank No. 31 (Yahoo No. 25)
Honestly, I have no idea why so many of you still ask about Vereen. He's seeing just 11-12 touches per game, and Stevan Ridley is clearly the better fantasy play right now. This week, the Pats face one of the league's best run defenses; Buffalo has yet to allow a rushing score. Leave Vereen on your bench.
DALTON DEL DON
Love him: Doug Martin, TB, RB - Del Don RB rank No. 11 (Yahoo No. 26)
He's not anything special, getting just 2.5 YPC on the season, but Martin remains Tampa Bay's feature back, which is half the battle when it comes to fantasy RBs these days. He totaled 17 touches last week and had a long gain nullified by a penalty, although he still managed 74 yards from scrimmage. The Ravens are more vulnerable on the road, but frankly this ranking speaks more to the general landscape when it comes to fantasy backs right now. Most of them come with plenty of question marks around this tier.
Hate him: Jay Cutler, Chi, QB - Del Don QB rank No. 12 (Yahoo No. 6)
I know this game projects to be high scoring, but Atlanta plays so much better at home, and they have actually allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. Meanwhile, no team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Falcons, so expect a heavy dose of Matt Forte on Sunday.
Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 6 Flames in the comments section below.
Eli Manning, NYG, QB (30-percent started)
Matchup: at Phi
Eli stink faces no more. After a laughable preseason and bumpy early start, the Giants offense is finally clicking. Over the past three weeks, the two-time champ has resembled the QB from three years ago. He's benefited from clean pockets (21.3 pressure percentage), spread the wealth and thrown strikes. During that stretch, he's completed 70.1 percent of his attempts, tallied an 8:1 TD-INT split and totaled a 104.9 QB rating. Hot diggity dog. Because of Rashad Jennings' excellent receiving and blitz pick-up skills, his absence will be felt. However, with Odell Beckham Jr. now in the mix and delivering as advertised and given the emergence of Larry Donnell, Younger Manning has an impressive arsenal at his disposal. Good thing. This week against the high-flying Eagles, he's going to need all the firepower he can muster. Philly, the most generous defense to fantasy quarterbacks, has surrendered 291.6 passing yards and 2.6 vertical strikes per game this season. Combined corners Carey Williams and Bradley Flectcher have allowed a 101.8 QB rating. In a game sure to play at a breakneck pace (Average snap count in Philly games this year is 80.2), Eli's arm gets overworked. Pump up the volume. Dance. Dance.
Fearless Forecast: 27-41, 283 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 26.2 fantasy points
Branden Oliver, SD, RB (31-percent started)
Matchup: at Oak
Acquired off the discount rack by fortuitous owners a week ago, the pint-sized rookie from James Starks-U (Buffalo) cashed a colossal windfall in Week 5. When the Christian Ponder of RBs, Donald Brown, humorously ineffective over the past couple weeks (2.1 ypc), exited stage left with a concussion, the spotlight shined brightly on Oliver. Against a Jets defense entering the week which had yielded just 2.93 yards per carry, he bolted his way to 182 yards on 23 touches. Tough between the pipes, explosive and uber-versatile, he gained 62.3 percent of his yards after contact and forced six missed tackles, the same number it took Brown to accomplish on roughly 13 million more carries. At 5-foot-8, 210-pounds Oliver bears a striking resemblance to old school Maurice Jones-Drew. His short, compact build and deceptive power make him highly elusive. This week matched against a nonthreatening Raiders defense that's allowed 4.56 yards per carry to RBs, the kid is practically must-start material. Earlier this season, Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Lamar Miller each had field days against Oakland. Even if Brown clears post-concussion protocol, expect Oliver to earn at least 15-18 touches. Hop aboard the bandwagon. The Bolt from the blue is a top-10 play in Week 6.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 77 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 23 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 19.0 fantasy points
Ben Tate, Cle, RB (40-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Pit
Do you believe in miracles? If not, you should. Tate, back from a knee sprain that cost him multiple weeks, stunningly kept all tendons and bones intact in his return in Week 5. Against a generous Tennessee front seven, the fragile back bulled his way to 123 yards on 22 carries (5.6 ypc). When healthy, he's always excelled in a zone-blocking scheme. His one-cut ability, plus vision and interior power are a perfect fit. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West will occasionally spell him, but he should remain the primary ball-carrier, behind one of the league's best offensive lines, moving forward. Dubbed "The Soft Curtain" back in August, the Steelers have lived down to expectations. They have surrendered the 10th-fewest fantasy points to RBs, but inferior rushing offenses (Carolina, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville) are responsible for the high ranking. Giving up 4.67 yards per carry to RBs, the unit remains exploitable. Tate was well on his way to a monster game (6-41-0) before exiting in the Week 1 matchup. In the second go-round, he picks up where he left off.
Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 101 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.3 fantasy points
Eric Decker, NYJ, WR (22-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Den
The Jets' season can be summed up in a phrase: Refried booty. Rancid in virtually every way last week in San Diego, they are only accelerating Rex Ryan's presumed termination. Decker wasn't available in the debacle as a recurring hamstring ailment kept him on the sidelines. However, barring a setback in practice this week, he should return to the lineup in a tilt that will surely fuel his motivation. Denver DBs Chris Harris and Aqib Talib have, for the most part, locked down assignments this year. Combined the pair have allowed a 40.7 catch rate and 11.42 yards per catch to WRs. Still, because garbage time could start midway through the third quarter, Decker has strong odds of attracting double-digit targets. Of course, time-zone genius Geno Smith will actually have to show up to meetings and throw him a few catchable balls, but a top-30 finish is entirely likely.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 72 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.9 fantasy points
Owen Daniels, Bal, TE (21-percent started)
Matchup: at TB
Losing Dennis Pitta to yet another hip injury was a serious blow to Joe Flacco and the Ravens' vertical attack, but thankfully, for fantasy and Baltimore fans, Daniels has elevated his game. Filling enormous shoes, he's played admirably, erasing thoughts of a TEBC in Charm City. Last week in Indy, he saw action on 58-of-60 snaps, attracting seven targets, catching five of them, for 70 yards. In fact, since Pitta's injury, Daniels has garnered 21 percent of the team's targets (H/T Mike Clay). The end zone has been unreachable, but this could be the week he finally splashes the invisible pool. Due in large part to their weak execution at linebacker and umbrella-like Tampa-2 D, the Sorrowful Swashbucklers have surrendered the third-most yards to tight ends (80.8). Look for Torrey Smith and Steve Smith to lure an extra defender, gifting Daniels several one-on-one opportunities underneath. Given the circumstances and matchup, Daniels frolics gleefully in the open field en route to strong TE1 numbers.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.5 fantasy points
John Brown, Ari, WR (3-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Wash
The pride of Pittsburg State (Go Gorillas!) has delivered on his preseason promise. Compared to a young Marvin Harrison by Bruce Arians, the speedy wideout (4.31 40-yard time) has been sporadically effective whether with Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton at the helm. Brown's 7.4 fantasy points per game in standard formats ranks alongside brand names Michael Crabtree and Percy Harvin. His numbers suffered last week in Denver as the Broncos' constrictive secondary limited him to just two catches (on seven targets) for four yards. But with Palmer trending in the right direction, Brown is a strong bounce-back candidate. Down DeAngelo Hall, Washington has been incredibly giving to wide receivers. David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland have surrendered a 71.7 catch percentage and 103.5 QB rating on the year. Brown is very hit or miss, but based on the friendly matchup he's worth the risk at WR3.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 53 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.3 fantasy points
@YahooNoise Glennon, Andre Williams & B Oliver, Sanu & Allen Robinson, Luke Wilson, Redskins— Craig Owen (@scraigowen) October 7, 2014
Reader Record: 10-24, 29.4%
I want my Friends and Family opponents to have a chance to use this blog against me (we're drafting Tuesday night; more on that Wednesday), so let's get out the Magic 8-Ball.
Here are some of my 2014-15 Hockey (and Fantasy Hockey) predictions, picks, pans. Yeah, predictions are pretty much a fool's errand, but they're fun. Please share predictions (and player leans) of your own in the comments.
[ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ]
(Yes, it's possible I used this headline last year. I love the song, and I always seem to pick St. Louis. The Blues never justify the love.)
Ten Players I Like More Than Consensus
Brian Elliott, Jake Allen (hate handcuffing, but have to here)
Ten Players I Like Less Than Consensus
Pretty Much any rookie (though I have some Johnny Gaudreau shares)
Martin St. Louis
Ryan Johansen (signed or unsigned)
[Make Sunday even more fun. Play in FanDuel's Week 6 fantasy football league, win cash]
Seven Players Everybody Likes
Nathan MacKinnon (and his merry henchmen)
-- Art Ross: Sidney Crosby (dark horse: John Tavares)
-- Norris: Alex Pietrangelo (dark horse: Ryan McDonagh)
-- Vezina: Tuukka Rask (dark horse: Cory Schneider)
-- Calder: Johnny Gaudreau
-- Biggest Surprise Teams: Islanders, Devils
-- Most Disappointing Teams: Ducks, Senators
-- Stanley Cup: Blues over Bruins
Want some picks from somebody else? Check out the Puck Daddy crew. All set with your picks? The comments are all yours.
Russell Wilson had 89 rushing yards at halftime, which is more than LeSean McCoy has had during any game this season. Wilson finished with 122 rushing yards (the most ever by a quarterback during a Monday night game) on 11 carries, and while his score on the ground was just his second over the past 23 games (including the playoffs), he completed 75.0 percent of his passes, getting 8.4 YPA with a 2:0 TD:INT ratio, as he had a huge fantasy performance despite throwing for a modest 201 yards. In fact, he became just the fifth player ever to record 100 rushing yards with a TD and 200 passing yards with a score in a game. This play that effectively won the game was also pretty ridiculous. Wilson is on pace to throw for 32 touchdowns and run for 836 yards this season…Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, also had a nice night, getting 7.9 YPA with a 2:0 TD:INT ratio against a strong Seahawks secondary. A matchup in Arizona next week won’t be any easier, however…Marshawn Lynch gave his owners a scare when he didn’t play a snap during Seattle’s opening drive, but he later returned and looked just fine, even recording a TD catch for the third game in a row.
Doug Baldwin leads the Seahawks with 155 receiving yards this season, which is pretty crazy while playing for arguably the best team in football…DeSean Jackson had a really nice game, while Pierre Garcon owners have to be concerned, as his target numbers look like this over the past four games: four, 16, six and three. Aside from the big game in Philly, Garcon totaled 63 yards in the other three contests…The Seahawks entered having allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends yet Niles Paul managed just one catch for six yards…I respected Jay Gruden’s aggressiveness with the surprise onside kick as underdogs, although he made the all-too-common mistake of not calling his final timeout before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, costing his team five seconds or so…Percy Harvin owners have to be irate, as he saw not one, not two but three touchdowns taken away by penalties (and often it wasn’t clear there was a flag on the play until you were celebrating). Harvin ended up totaling just 34 yards, as his night looked quiet, but really, it was anything but that.
After taking just three sacks while playing on the road against the Ravens and Panthers, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked nine times over the past two weeks against the Buccaneers and Jaguars, two games in which the Steelers were big favorites. Still, Roethlisberger has produced a QB Rating of 100+ in four of five games this season, and over the past three weeks, he’s completed 72.6 percent of his passes with a 6:0 TD:INT ratio…Toby Gerhart gained nine yards on four carries, which was five fewer rushing yards than Blake Bortles and 19 fewer than Storm Johnson. It was later revealed he suffered a foot injury during his second carry of the game, but it’s safe to say Gerhart can be dropped even in the shallowest of leagues…Facing a Pittsburgh defense that entered having yielded the 12th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns combined for 77 yards (and no scores) on 22 targets. That’s not good…It’s pretty disconcerting for Steelers fans (or those who bet their over before the season like myself) that it took a pick-six in the fourth quarter for them to secure this victory against an 0-5 Jaguars team that has been outscored by 119 points since the first half of Week 1.
[Week 6 fantasy pickups: See who you should target on the waiver wire]
Ben Tate is clearly going to be the Browns’ workhorse as long as he can stay healthy, and while the latter remains unlikely, until his next injury he’s a must-start RB2 type for fantasy purposes…Apparently Bishop Sankey’s arise to starter has been postponed…Jordan Cameron turned seven targets into 33 yards and remains one of the biggest fantasy disappointments in 2014. He’s clearly still hampered by his shoulder injury even after the bye…Kendall Wright scored as many touchdowns Sunday as he did all of last season when he had 94 receptions…Nice to see my guy Justin Hunter finally show a pulse. He led all Tennessee wide receivers in snaps, but I do worry any potential breakout may be hampered by rookie Zach Mettenberger getting a bunch of starts down the stretch…Jake Locker left the game with a hand injury, but this blow to his head was also pretty brutal…Sunday marked the first time in which Tennessee scored a point in the first quarter of a game this season…The Browns’ 25-point comeback was the largest by any road team in NFL history…Cleveland’s average margin of victory/loss so far this season is 2.0 points, which is insane over four games.
Justin Forsett was given just six carries, but he gained 42 yards with a score while adding seven catches on eight targets for 55 receiving yards. Beyond the numbers, Forsett has looked incredibly impressive and deserves more touches moving forward, but unfortunately he looks locked in a three-headed committee...Torrey Smith is on pace to finish with 35 catches and 563 yards with three touchdowns this season (although he does continue to draw a bunch on pass interference penalties, making him much more valuable to the Ravens than to his fantasy owners)…With 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Joe Flacco overthrew a wide open Marlon Brown that would have gone for a 64-yard touchdown…T.Y. Hilton has zero touchdowns this year (although he did have one called back by a penalty Sunday), but his 50 targets rank fifth among all wide receivers (the four above him have a combined 16 touchdowns). Hilton should be treated as a top-15 fantasy wide receiver moving forward…The Ravens went 1-for-11 on third downs Sunday, which isn’t usually a recipe for success…During the Colts’ last three games, the vaunted Indy defense has produced nine takeaways and 11 sacks.
Headlines of the Week: What It’s Like To Fly The $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suites Class…California Bans Plastic Grocery Bags...The Wearable BED: Futon-Inspired Outfit Lets You Fall Asleep Wherever You Want…Nervous Chinese Officials Search Pigeon Anuses For Bombs...Caffeine-Infused Underwear Not A Weight Loss Aid, US Regulators Say…At CIA Starbucks, Even The Baristas Are Covert…Man Who Raised $55K For Potato Salad Throws Party…Too Much Air In Potato Chip Packets? Students Make A Boat To Prove It…Nevada Woman Shoots Stalker During Break-In, Posts Photo Of Aftermath Online…Lawsuit: TSA Agents Unscrewed Urn, Spilled Deceased Mother’s Ashes In Cleveland Man’s Suitcase…Coached By Jon Kitna, High School Team Runs Score To 91-0.
I’m beginning to think Mike Glennon is an upgrade over Josh McCown…Entering Week 5, Tampa Bay had allowed an 8:1 TD:INT ratio and an 8.6 YPA mark. Drew Brees, playing at home where New Orleans has now won 10 straight games, was intercepted three times and got just 6.5 YPA. Despite the nice comeback win, it’s officially time to start seriously worrying about this Saints team…Doug Martin got just 3.2 YPC and ceded a TD run to Bobby Rainey, but he added 29 receiving yards and had two big gains called back by penalty. Martin may very well get hurt (and Rainey is a must-own in all formats), but he’s still the team’s clear No. 1 back right now…Vincent Jackson has surpassed 51 yards once this season, but he has 31 targets over the past three weeks while scoring twice, so he remains a safe top-15 fantasy wideout…Pierre Thomas has 120 rushing yards on the year. He has 187 receiving yards…Marques Colston has averaged 5.8 targets per game this season. Brandin Cooks has averaged 8.2…My favorite commentator moment of the week happened when Dick Stockton said this: “Right now, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are really distressed on the sidelines.” One can only assume he confused Manning with Sean Payton.
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With Rashad Jennings going down, Andre Williams looks like the No. 1 waiver wire priority this week. Especially if I’m a Jennings owner, I’d spend 100 percent of my FAAB on Williams. He’s very raw as a pass catcher and got just 3.3 YPC Sunday against a suspect Falcons defense, but he’d be a workhorse on a team that has suddenly won three straight games and looks much better now more familiar with the new offensive system. Williams also showed flashes of future star potential in the preseason. Go all out for him if you need immediate running back help. Jennings goes down while leading all backs in carries inside the 20 (17), inside the 10 (10) and inside the five (seven)…Steven Jackson had a 10 and an 11-yard gain, but during his other 11 carries, he got 16 yards…The Falcons have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, but I didn’t expect Larry Donnell and Victor Cruz to combine for three catches and 22 yards with no TDs at home. Donnell came into this game with a league-high catch rate of 81% yet was targeted just once…Eli Manning has a 9:1 TD-turnover ratio while taking just three sacks over his past three games. He’s completed 66.9 percent of his passes on the year…This Julio Jones catch was no joke…Atlanta is now 1-10 in its last 11 road games…Antone Smith, who took a short pass 74 yards to the house, now has six career touchdowns and all of them have been from 38+ yards, which is pretty incredible.
During their final drive, the Rams had an opportunity to become the first team to come back from 27 points to win an NFL regular season game. They fell short, but owners of Austin Davis have no complaints. Davis has completed 67.8 percent of his passes while getting 7.9 YPA on the season and has averaged 351 passing yards with six touchdowns over the past two weeks. The 25-year-old looks like a better fantasy option than Sam Bradford ever did…I expected a huge season from Zach Ertz, but he has 96 yards over the past three games and hasn’t scored since Week 1. My bad…It’s difficult to evaluate the Eagles’ offense right now, since their defense/special teams has produced a whopping five touchdowns over the past two games. In fact, the Eagles’ seven return touchdowns through five games is the most ever since the merger. This actually makes Jeremy Maclin’s production (NFL-high 57 targets, four touchdowns) all the more impressive, with LeSean McCoy’s disappointing start all the more worrisome. At home as big favorites, McCoy gained 81 yards on 24 carries (3.4 YPC) and lost a fumble, and he secured all four of his targets for an additional five yards. I can’t remember such a “sure thing” be such a bust without an injury while playing for a team that’s 4-1 (it’s still a small sample, and I’d continue to rank McCoy highly)…St. Louis finished with 53 sacks last season (third most in the NFL) and selected DT Aaron Donald with the 13th pick of the 2014 draft. They have one sack through five weeks this season. Even the Raiders have three more…Brian Quick is on pace to finish with 1,288 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Headlines Of The Week Part Two: Antrel Rolle: Losing Virginity Helping Prince Amukamara On The Field…Could This Be The Scariest Bridge In The World? China Builds Glass Bridge…Kim Jong-un Fractured Both Of His Ankles From Wearing High Heels…At U.N., Iceland Announces Men-Only Conference On Gender Equality…900+ Chickens Killed With Golf Club…Zoo Realizes It Has Been Trying To Mate Two Male Hyenas For Four Years…Roots Grow Out Of Vagina After Woman Uses Potato As Contraceptive...Volkswagen’s New 300 MPG Car Not Allowed In America Because It Is Too Efficient...Charlie Sheen Reportedly Threatened His Dentist With A Knife While High On Rock Cocaine...Man Running In Inflatable Bubble Rescued Off Coast Of Florida.
I had never heard of George Winn before Sunday, when he gained 27 more rushing yards than Reggie Bush and C.J. Spiller combined…Kyle Orton was an upgrade over E.J. Manuel, completing 69.8 percent of his passes while getting 7.2 YPA (and an 88.1 QB Rating, if you’re into that sort of thing). Sammy Watkins’ fantasy owners had to love seeing him get a season-high 12 targets. What a catch here during kind of a crucial situation…I was down on Matthew Stafford before the season, then he got off to a great start and I said I was wrong about my assessment. He got just 7.2 YPA at home Sunday while throwing for only 221 yards and one touchdown with a pick and fumbling twice. He’s on pace to take 54 sacks this season. So I give up…Calvin Johnson is clearly not healthy (this was part of my Stafford worry), as he now has three targets for 19 yards total over the past two games. This has to be a major concern for those who spent a first round pick on Megatron. Clearly, him being inactive would be better than Johnson being a decoy. Johnson has yet to break a single tackle this season (the same can be said for another hobbled WR, Brandon Marshall)…Here’s Golden Tate faking dunking on the goal post...The Bills and Chiefs are the only two teams yet to allow a rushing touchdown to a running back this season...The Lions have allowed the fewest yards per game (282.4) in the NFL this season (as well as the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs), but it really doesn’t help that their kickers have gone 4-of-12 on field goal attempts (only two teams in all of 2013 missed more than eight FGs). Speaking of field goals, what a kick by Dan Carpenter.
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DeMarco Murray has benefitted from a terrific offensive line, but he sure looks good himself as well. Murray is currently on pace to finish with an NFL-record 2,144 rushing yards to along with 16 touchdowns and 13 lost fumbles. The latter isn’t ideal, but Murray is the first running back since O.J. Simpson to rush for 100 yards in each of his team’s first five games of a season (the only other player to do so was Jim Brown)…Arian Foster has been a monster in every game he’s been able to fully play in this season and looked healthy Sunday. His fantasy value all comes down to durability…DeAndre Hopkins was a disappointment in fantasy terms but secured all six of his targets and once again out produced Andre Johnson. Among wide receivers who’ve seen at least 30 looks, Hopkins’ 11.4 YPT leads the NFL. Golden Tate ranks second with 11.3…Here’s Tony Romo avoiding a sack by J.J. Watt, who entered this game with twice as many QB hits (16) than any other player in the NFL and more than 15 teams combined, and finding Terrence Williams for a long score. Williams had a horrible drop earlier in the game during a sure touchdown, but despite hauling in just 2-of-6 targets Sunday, he’s now up to five touchdowns on the year, trailing only Randall Cobb among wide receivers…As impressive as the Williams TD play was, this Dez Bryant catch in overtime was even better.
There was an AP report Sunday morning suggesting Fozzy Whittaker would get more carries than presumed starter Darrin Reaves when it came to the injured Panthers backfield, so naturally, Whittaker didn’t get a single touch. This backfield remains hands off regardless of the names and faces in use…Matt Forte only got 3.6 YPC, but he caught all 12 of his targets for 105 yards and a score. He has 82 carries with zero rushing scores, which is like a hitter having a .175 BABIP…Alshon Jeffery’s one-handed catch was sick, and he’s now scored in back-to-back games and should be considered a top-20 fantasy player moving forward…This Carolina punt return for a touchdown was pretty ridiculous…Cam Newton is arguably throwing the ball as well as ever this season, but for fantasy purposes, his lack of running has destroyed his value. After averaging 42.3 rushing yards while totaling 28 touchdowns over his first three years in the league, Newton has averaged just 10.5 yards on the ground with zero scores this season…Two of the most impressive rookies faced off Sunday, and Kyle Fuller got the best of Kelvin Benjamin, as the fantastic looking cornerback held the wideout to just three catches on 11 targets for only 38 yards.
Police Blotter: Man Fires Bullet Into Neighbor’s House Because That’s The Only Way He Knew To Unload A Gun…Chef Who Swindled Schnitzels From Employer Ordered To Pay $70K…Missing Boy Walks Right Past Camera Crew Reporting His Story…Woman Says She Dug Up Dad’s Grave “With Respect.”…Teachers Arrested For Threesome With Student…Another Couple Arrested For Public Sex At Giant Florida Retirement Community…Sheriff: Hurley Woman Caught Burglarizing Cars Said She Was Looking For Members Of ISIS…Man Jailed After Killing Pal Who 'Poked' His Girlfriend On Facebook…Pimp Who Sued Nike Loses Case Claiming Air Jordans He Used To Stomp John Needed Warning Label…Teen Obsessed With TV’s ‘Dexter’ Sentenced To Prison After Stabbing And Dismembering Girlfriend.
After Michael Vick replaced an ineffective Geno Smith, who got 2.3 YPA, he completed 42.1 percent of his passes, took two sacks and got just 2.5 YPA. Ugly stuff by both…Meanwhile, Philip Rivers threw for another three touchdowns and got 10.3 YPA. He’s a real MVP threat, and the Chargers are legitimate contenders among the best teams in football…I’m so happy I spent so much of my FAAB on Donald Brown, as he was terrible last week and left Sunday’s contest with an injury. Branden Oliver looked noticeably better anyway. Get well soon, Ryan Mathews…The Jets became the first team to be shut out this season…Antonio Gates is on pace to score a career-high 13 touchdowns at age 34 at a position that typically doesn’t help those in advanced stages of life…After scoring seven times over the final six games last season, Keenan Allen hasn’t hit pay dirt once despite remaining healthy and playing alongside a quarterback who’s on pace to finish with 38 TD passes.
Song of the Week: TV On The Radio: "Careful You."
Logan Thomas completed just one of his eight pass attempts yet still got 10.1 YPA thanks to this play…I have Michael Floyd on a few of my teams, so while his seven yards on seven targets wasn’t ideal, I also have Montee Ball shares, and his seven yards on six carries before leaving with an injury was even worse, especially since his presumed handcuff C.J. Anderson was inactive. Ronnie Hillman should probably be bidden on aggressively in FAAB as a result. Montee did not “Ball so hard” this season…Congratulations to Peyton Manning, who eclipsed 500 career TD passes during this game while also setting a personal record with 479 passing yards (tying Dan Marino with his 13th career 400-yard passing game)…The Broncos’ DST was robbed of a touchdown thanks to a highly suspicious “in the grasp” call...Demaryius Thomas hauled in just 50 percent of his targets, but he can be forgiven since he had 226 yards and two touchdowns (he had another long score called back by offsetting penalties). Meanwhile, Julius Thomas is on pace to score 28 touchdowns on 80 receptions, which is totally sustainable.
The 49ers’ new stadium is in a city that’s hotter than San Francisco, and it showed during halftime, when much of the fans left their seats and didn’t come back until the middle of the third quarter. Studies have shown teams moving to new stadiums often have less HFA during the first eight or so games, but this might be a more long lasting problem with the 49ers, especially with the ridiculous pricing of the PSLs...The Chiefs remain one of only two teams yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, although they also have zero receiving scores from their wide receivers…This is the first time the Niners won a game when Vernon Davis was sidelined…Travis Kelce was held to just 15 yards Sunday, but he scored for a third straight game and has the most 20+ yard catches among all tight ends this season with six (tied with my guy Zach Ertz)…It’s safe to say I expected more from Michael Crabtree, especially with Davis inactive. Crabtree’s foot injury is officially a serious concern…I have no clue what Dee Ford is doing here…Over the last two weeks, Phil Dawson is 9-for-9 on field goal attempts, including making three from 50+ yards…Alex Smith’s interception was his first in 267 pass attempts on the road (including the postseason)…This fake punt was huge…San Francisco outgained Kansas City 112-9 during the fourth quarter, although the 49ers have still yet to score a touchdown this season during the fourth…This Brandon Lloyd catch came not only during a crucial time of the game but was also absolutely legit.
Longread of the Week: Is It A Crime To Raise A Killer?
The Bengals entered Sunday night as the only undefeated team in the NFL, got 8.6 YPA, were sacked just once, got 4.5 YPC and were penalized just 37 yards compared to 114 by the Patriots. Naturally, they lost 43-17…Tom Brady attacked the middle of the field with better protection, and his demise has apparently been delayed. He’s now won 40 straight games against AFC opponents at home…Even during a game in which New England scored 43 points, Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola combined for two targets. Brandon LaFell caught just one of his four targets for 20 yards as well…Rob Gronkowski sure is looking closer and closer to his old self. The tight end is now up to 46 touchdowns in 55 career regular season games…Stevan Ridley has 25, 19 and 27 carries in three of his games this season. He has five and eight in his other two…Let’s not kid ourselves, as Stephen Gostkowski was the real fantasy star of Week 5, when he went 5-for-5 on field goal attempts while also adding four extra point attempts...The Patriots totaled 505 yards, which was their most over their past 12 games.
When it comes to fantasy football, the waiting is the hardest part. And it's something I prefer to avoid if at all possible.
Take the Montee Ball situation in Denver. What it really turns into is the Montee Ball Problem.
Ball has a groin injury and some of the early timetables say he could miss 2-3 weeks. But that doesn't mean Ball owners are out of the woods by November.
Often an NFL return timetable winds up being far too optimistic. Be specifically careful when dealing with a player-provided timetable (in general, that is; Ball hasn't provided one yet). Perhaps it's because most professional athletes have been Superman all their lives, but many of them don't have a realistic feel for how much recovery time their body needs. And sometimes the team will have built-in incentive for handling an injury situation extra carefully.
Once Ball returns to game action, he can't automatically be restored to everyone's starting lineups. Many owners will want to see a "prove it" week before they feel comfortable selecting him. Maybe one of Denver's other backs will go off in Ball's absence. Heck, it's relatively unlikely, but maybe Denver will trade for someone else between now and then. (I'll dream about an Alfred Morris deal, as unlikely as that might be.)
And then there's the schedule. It's perfectly reasonable that Ball might be questionable on the injury report in the first week where he eventually returns. Will you be able to wait around for Ball in that week? Note that Denver rarely plays an "early" game; they have just two 1 pm ET Sunday starts on the schedule (and one of them is in Week 6, which is irrelevant to Ball). Just another headache to consider if you're mulling your options.
[Week 6 fantasy pickups: See who you should target on the waiver wire]
And in case you've forgotten, Ball hasn't done a thing through five weeks. When you average 3.1 YPC in an offense spearheaded by Peyton Manning, you are not playing well.
Every league is different and one-size-fits-all rarely applies as fantasy advice, but I'd try to cash in on Ball now if you could find someone willing to dream of a better day. I doubt he's going to be back in fantasy relevance quickly. If Ball winds up being a free agent in one of my primary leagues (which all have modest bench size), I doubt I will make a bid on Ball. I'm a mobilize-the-troops type of a guy, a play-for-today guy.
I'm sure someone will tell me about their 4-1 or 5-0 team and how they're stashing Ball and how they see future upside and all that. Perfectly reasonable in that context. Again, we can never make one prescription fit the world here.
But I think a lot of people are underestimating how long it will take Ball to return to fantasy importance. Sometimes optimism is your worst enemy in this game. Sometimes it's important to see the downside, too. And in the long run, gravity always wins.
I realize it's a deal that sounds a little silly in the light of day. Brady's got the rings and the Hall of Fame waiting, the Robin Leach life. Glennon was a clipboard holder when the year started; he's in the Merton Hanks Hall of Fame. From a name-brand standpoint, I expected to get crushed in the court of public opinion.
Of course, I don't care at all about names (and I'm not trying to win trades in public), I just want the numbers. And given that the Stopa League starts two quarterbacks and I already like Russell Wilson as my QB1, I was happy to shift into floor-mode for my second starter.
Brady has scored 14, 10, 13, 8 and 21 points in his five Stopa starts. Obviously the line played better in the Week 5 rout of Cincinnati, and Tim Wright brought something to the offense. I still worry about Brady's fantasy value from a week-to-week standpoint, and I also think the Patriots might win some games with the running game and defense.
Glennon has scored 19 and 17 points in his two Stopa starts, steering an offense that is getting almost nothing from its running game. Glennon might shift into volume mode in weeks to come, because the Tampa Bay defense is awful.
There is a non-zero chance that Josh McCown will reclaim the Bucs starting job, but I'd like to think the team isn't going to make that mistake again. There's also a non-zero chance that Brady returns to stardom, but I'm certainly fading that concept.
Not everything has to be a snappy, shiny upside pick. Sometimes the floor is the way to go. If Glennon can keep up the level of production he's already shown, I'll be quite content.
-- Some pundits I respect seem to be enamored with Rueben Randle, a stance I don't agree with. There are plenty of NFL players who have silly athleticism but poor technical skills, and I think Randle is one of those guys. I also wonder how seriously he wants to improve.
Randle has two scores in 2014, which is lovely, but there's red ink on the page. A catch rate of 57.5 percent is mediocre (23-for-40), and especially when you consider Randle is averaging a paltry 8.2 yards per catch.
Randle and Eli Manning never showed a rapport last year (Randle's mistakes even led to some picks), and Randle still struggles to run routes, work boundaries. Part of this is explained by his inexperience and age (he's just 23), but he's also in his third year in the league. Shouldn't we expect more by now?
The Giants have a more crowded passing game than originally expected. Although Larry Donnell was marked closely in Week 5, he was excellent in the first month. Rookie Odell Beckham came back in Week 5 and showed he's ready to contribute right away. Victor Cruz isn't going away. If you have loads of bench room and can wait for Randle to develop, that's fine, but I'm not chasing this story (even with the coverage-challenged Eagles on the Week 6 schedule).
Yes, the 40 targets are lovely. But Randle can't start doing more with them, I bet they'll dry up, too. Big Blue has other options. Is there a Randle sympathizer in your league? Start a conversation.
More fantasy advice from Yahoo Sports
No matter what else went awry for the New York Jets, at least we always knew that Rex Ryan's team would stop the run. New York entered Week 5 with the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense, a unit allowing just 3.0 yards per carry and 63.3 per game.
And then the Jets met San Diego rookie back Branden Oliver. New York's run defense suddenly seems vulnerable. Oliver exploded for 182 total yards and two TDs on Sunday as the Chargers obliterated Gang Green, 31-0. By himself, he actually out-gained the entire Jets offense (182 to 151). He was a quick-cutting wrecking ball, decisive and shifty and powerful. His first touchdown was a 15-yard run into the teeth of New York's feared front. His second was a nine-yard receiving score. Oliver produced a pair of 50-plus yard plays against the Jets, one on the ground and another via the air.
All things considered, it was a stellar performance against a top-shelf opponent — not bad for an undrafted first-year back. Oliver was a hugely productive college runner at the University of Buffalo, but he's a smallish player (5-foot-8) who came into the league with unspectacular measurables, so nothing has been handed to him. If he wasn't on your fantasy radar in August, it's entirely forgivable. Oliver had an excellent preseason for San Diego, drawing a few Sproles comps — because he's a short dude with No. 43 on his jersey — but he opened the year buried on the depth chart.
When Donald Brown suffered a concussion in the first-half on Sunday, Oliver made the absolute most of an unexpected opportunity. Ryan Mathews is still recovering from an MCL sprain, you'll recall, so Oliver has a shot at another serious workload in Week 6, in a friendly matchup at Oakland. He's a priority add this week. Let's see where this story goes.
• Another week, another huge performance by a quarterback against the Philadelphia Eagles. Late in the third quarter at the Linc on Sunday, the Eagles were cruising. They led the Rams in a laugher, 34-7. Philly had scored on defense and special teams (as they seem to do each week), and Nick Foles had tossed a pair of TD passes — one to Riley Cooper, another to Jeremy Maclin. But then Philadelphia began giving away yards and points and more yards. Because that team can't find the easy way to do anything.
St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis directed a touchdown drive to end the third, then two more to begin the fourth. Brian Quick, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook made plays, repeatedly. Somehow, what began as garbage-time production for Davis quickly became a near-heroic come-from-behind assault on the Eagles secondary. In the game's final minutes, Davis actually found himself leading a potential go-ahead drive. If Austin Pettis would have corralled either of two balls that were within his reach, the Rams might have fully recovered from a 27-point second-half deficit. Which is, of course, crazy.
But Pettis caught nothin' when it mattered most, and Davis' final pass sailed beyond Quick. And that was the ballgame. The Eagles' official Twitter account gave us this rosy spin...
...which maybe gave too much credit to a defense that had recently been shredded. Davis finished the game with 375 passing yards, three TDs, no picks and 30 rushing yards.
Here's your fantasy takeaway: Any QB who faces Philly is on the radar. We're now five weeks into the season, and so far every quarterback who's faced the Eagles D has thrown for multiple scores. Check out the full lineup of passers who've carved up Philadelphia:
Chad Henne, 266 yards, 2 TDs
Andrew Luck, 172 yards, 3 TDs, INT
Kirk Cousins, 427 yards, 3 TDs, INT
Colin Kaepernick, 218 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 58 rush
Austin Davis, 375 yards, 3 TDs
With apologies to Luck, that's not exactly a murderer's row. Basically, the Eagles secondary is delivering a respectable fantasy QB each week, no matter who they face. As of this writing, Davis is Sunday's No. 2 scorer at his position, behind only Peyton Manning. Davis will be the third quarterback this season to deliver a top-five fantasy rank against Philadelphia. For those of you who like to plan ahead (which should be all of you), here's the Eagles' upcoming schedule through Week 16: NYG, bye, at ARI, at HOU, CAR, at GB, TEN, at DAL, SEA, DAL, at WAS.
As for Davis' future value, I'd say there's no urgent need to add him — not because he isn't talented, but because the upcoming matchups are just miserable. The Rams face the Niners next Monday, then host the Seahawks in Week 7. After that, it's three games on the road: at KC, at SF, at ARI. Realistically, Davis isn't a great bet for another 300-plus yardage performance anytime soon. But again, no one around here is calling him a bum. Davis had a terrific collegiate career at Southern Mississippi, breaking a few of Brett Favre's old records. The kid has thrown six touchdown passes over the past two weeks, and he's completing 67.8 percent of his passes for the year. I've got no complaints. It's just a shame that he'll see so much of the NFC West over the next five weeks.
• The Santa Clara Phil Dawsons beat the Chiefs on Sunday, thanks to five made field goals and 107 rushing yards from Frank Gore. I cannot explain why that team ever got away from leaning on Gore, but he's been rediscovered. The Carlos Hyde era is not yet upon us. Gore should be a strong play at St. Louis next week.
• Drew Brees didn't play the cleanest game for the Saints, tossing three picks at home against the Bucs. It didn't help, obviously, that New Orleans lost Jimmy Graham to a shoulder injury (not considered serious at this point. Don't panic.) Despite the sloppiness, Brees still managed to rally his team to an overtime win, passing for 371 yards on 57 attempts(!), targeting 10 different receivers along the way. The Saints backfield was tremendous, as Khiry Robinson rushed 21 times for 89 yards and the game-winning TD and Pierre Thomas delivered 112 scrimmage yards and a pair of scores. Mark Ingram is expected to return after the Saints' Week 6 bye, however, so this might be a nice time to toss Khiry and /or PT on the trade block.
• Jay Cutler gave us yet another useful fantasy performance marred by two or three horrendous real-life plays. If you're not a Bears fan, of course, then you don't mind the giveaways. That's just what you sign up for when you draft Cutty. He finished with 289 passing yards, two TDs and two picks, adding another score via the ground. Cutler also lost a fumble when he was sacked (and nearly destroyed) by DT Kawann Short, effectively ending the game. Matt Forte had a huge day for Chicago in terms of yardage (166, TD), but he also lost a critical fumble. Not a pleasant afternoon for the Bears.
Ex-Bears, however, weren't so bad. Greg Olsen caught a pair of TD passes against his former employer, finishing with a 6-72-2 line and shrugging off an early ankle tweak. Kelvin Benjamin had a messy day for the Panthers, we should note, securing only three of 11 targets. He had a bunch of drops and semi-drops; a more polished receiver might have produced significant numbers on the same opportunities.
• Three weeks after you benched him and two weeks after you dropped him, Justin Hunter finally had a game for the Titans. He hauled in three balls for 99 yards, including a 75-yard score against the Browns on Sunday. Kendall Wright had an even better day, delivering 90 scrimmage yards and two TDs. And still, Tennessee couldn't get a win. And Jake Locker is injured, again (thumb). Cleveland staged an insane comeback at home, surging back after falling behind 28-3. There may have been a moment there when the Johnny Manziel threat level was elevated, but Brian Hoyer shut it down. Hoyer finished with 292 passing yards and three TDs on 37 attempts. Ben Tate dominated the rushing workload for the Browns, gaining 123 yards on 22 totes. For now, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are back to serving as rotational runners.
• Barry Church's ankles are dead, you guys. Arian Foster killed them, right here on this touchdown run. That was pure evil. Foster had a tremendous day for the Texans in a tight, tense overtime defeat. He finished with 172 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches, putting to rest (for now) concerns about his hamstring. If for some reason you're no longer interested in his carnival ride of injury risk, he should be easy enough to sell coming off a monster performance.
• Blake Bortles threw pair of interceptions on Sunday, with a pick-six included, finishing with just 191 yards. It's not always going to be a clinic with the unfinished rookie, but he's still clearly the right choice at QB. If there's a right choice for Jacksonville at RB right now ... well, I have no idea who that might be. (Natrone? Tavian Banks? No idea.) Storm Johnson led the team in rushing against Pittsburgh in Week 5, with 27 yards on four carries.
• As expected, the backfield committee for Baltimore was a three-man monster in Week 5, with Justin Forsett, Bernard Piece and Lorenzo Taliaferro all seeing work. Forsett led the way with six carries for 42 yards and a score, adding seven receptions for 55 yards on eight targets. He's the guy to own here, if for some reason you absolutely have to own a Ravens RB.
• Atlanta running back Antone Smith continues to only see 3-4 touches per week, yet somehow he always converts one of 'em into a long, highlight-quality TD. So it was on Sunday, when he delivered a 74-yard touchdown reception against the Giants. You'd think the Falcons might see what he could do with, say, seven or eight touches, but it hasn't happened yet this season.
New York scored the final 20 points in a win over Atlanta on Sunday, as rookie Odell Beckham Jr. made a house call, as did Rueben Randle. Rashad Jennings suffered a knee injury, but he's apparently thinking the issue isn't severe. So that's good. But in the NFL, things can go from not-too-serious to expected-to-miss-four-weeks in a blink, so we'll be anxiously awaiting the post-MRI reports. Andre Williams is the clear handcuff to Jennings, and he delivered 83 total yards and one TD on Sunday.
• Speaking of damaged backs, Denver's Montee Ball is expected to be "out for a while" with a groin injury, suffered in a win over Arizona. Tough break for a second-year player who was off to a slow start, but still well-positioned to eventually assist fantasy owners. Now, we wait for updates. CJ Anderson was inactive on Sunday, leaving Ronnie Hillman (15-64-0) and Juwan Thompson (3-15-1) to handle the backfield responsibilities. This clearly has a committee feel, with Hillman as the probable chairman. The Broncos' upcoming schedule isn't particularly RB-friendly (at NYJ, vs. SF), so I can't view this as a break-the-bank situation, FAAB-wise.
Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas did the things that they do, brilliantly. Peyton passed for 479 yards, which is obscene, and Demaryius was on the receiving end for 226 and two touchdowns. Julius Thomas added two additional touchdowns, including the 500th of Manning's career (which is also obscene). Julius' day was complicated, however...
You can find the clip right here. Worst play in 37 years might be a stretch, but it wasn't great, not at all.
Drew Stanton was concussed in the loss at Denver, so here's hoping the Cards get Carson Palmer back for Week 6. The most recent reports on Palmer's nerve issue have been somewhat hopeful.
• Our work here would not be complete without a salute to Kyle Orton, who threw touchdown passes to both the Lions and Bills on Sunday, leading a comeback win at Detroit. Orton finished with 308 passing yards on 43 attempts, and he peppered Sammy Watkins with targets (12). We're only talking about one game's worth of tape, but Kyle definitely appears capable of completing downfield throws that rarely ended well for EJ Manuel. This is a good thing, Watkins owners.
Detroit really had a lousy day in many ways, we should note, as Calvin Johnson aggravated his ankle issue, and Reggie Bush tweaked an ankle as well. And yet another kicker struggled for the Lions, going 0-for-3.
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 6
QB Carson Palmer, Ari (vs. Was)
QB Blake Bortles, Jac (at Ten)
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Min (vs. Det)
RB Branden Oliver, SD (at Oak)
RB Andre Williams, NYG (at Phi)
RB Ronnie Hillman, Den (at NYJ)
RB Benny Cunningham, STL (vs. SF)
WR Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (at Phi)
WR Kenny Britt, STL (vs. SF)
WR Marvin Jones, Cin (vs. Car)
TE Dwayne Allen, Ind (at Hou)
DEF Green Bay (at Mia)
K Matt Prater, soon to be hired by Detroit, we're guessing (at Min)
K Brandon McManus, Den (at NYJ)
The arrow goes up, the arrow goes down. Some players surprise us, some let us down. We boom, and we bust.
-- Austin Davis, QB, and Brian Quick, WR, Rams: Two months ago, we thought the Rams would be a boring, ball-control team. Good defense, modest offense; try to play low-scoring games, steal a few.
So much for that narrative.
And then there's the Eagles, a team that scores and allows everyone else to score. Snappy returns and runbacks come into play, too. They're the Silver Linings Gamebook of the NFL.
Philadelphia raced out to a 34-7 lead over the Rams on Sunday, a margin that looked safe as the third quarter neared a close. But the Rams scored right before the period ended, and Davis kept the garbage time points flowing the rest of the day. Heck, with two late touchdowns, the Rams turned "Garbage Time" back into "Regular Time" – they almost pulled off a shocking comeback.
Davis finished 29-for-49 for 375 yards and three scores. A terrific day for someone who was just four percent owned in Yahoo as play began. Quick made good use of his nine targets, collecting five catches for 87 yards and two scores.
The killjoy to the story: the schedule. The Rams play San Francisco, Seattle and Kansas City in the next three weeks, tricky matchups all. But Quick has earned the right to be started in most standard formats, and Davis is at least a solid QB2 for now.
If you're more interested in the Philadelphia carnival, here's the upcoming slate: Giants; bye; at Cardinals; at Texans. Get your popcorn ready.
-- Brian Hoyer, QB, and Ben Tate, RB, Browns: Hoyer's numbers weren't quite to the Davis level, but his comeback was more impressive given that he finished the job. Hoyer went for 292 yards and three scores as Cleveland overcame a 28-3 deficit in Tennessee. Looks like Johnny Clipboard won't be playing for a while.
Tate has competition at his position, too, but he marked his territory nicely (22-123 on the ground). Meanwhile, Terrance West (7-31) and Isaiah Crowell (6-19) were bit players in the offense. Looks like we have some backfield definition in Cleveland.
-- Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: He didn't find the end zone, but we will not quibble over an 8-144 showing (on 12 targets). The Bucs outplayed the Saints most of the day, winning the YPA and turnover battle, but somehow lost the game in overtime. Mike Glennon has been solid at QB and deserves to keep this job even after Josh McCown heals up. And with Glennon chucking the rock, Jackson becomes a set-and-forget, no-doubt fantasy starter at WR.
-- Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos: Normally we limit this column to 1 pm ET performances, and the big names have to do a ton to push onto the list. Okay, Demaryius, you've earned the nod. Big old No. 88 rolled to 165 yards and two scores in the first half against Arizona, scoring from 31 and 86 yards. When Thomas gets rolling, he's unfair.
Kudos to the entire fantasy world for getting this call right. It's nice when the story falls into line. The Demaryius slump was a short-lived story.
-- Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers: Here's another late-starting gem who forced his way onto the page. Donald Brown left the action in the first half (concussion), but the flashy Oliver quickly picked up the slack, rolling for 165 total yards and a touchdown through the opening three periods. The comparison is plainly obvious: Darren Sproles 2.0. It took a bunch of injuries, but the Bolts might have finally uncovered their most dynamic back.
-- Some Other Boomers: Arian Foster, Dan Carpenter, Philly D/ST, Travis Benjamin, Kendall Wright, Greg Olsen, Justin Hunter.
-- Detroit Lions Offense: We don't want to come down too hard on injured players; Calvin Johnson (ankle) had just one catch before leaving the game against Buffalo, and Reggie Bush (ankle) also got nicked up. But these were hard guys to sit into Week 5, even with Megatron's physical concerns, and their poor performances left a definite blemish on the fantasy landscape.
Matthew Stafford didn't cover himself in glory in the loss to Buffalo, finishing with 223 passing yards, one score, one touchdown. At least Golden Tate (7-134-1) was heard from. To add insult to injury, the Lions were beaten by a Buffalo defense engineered by former Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz.
-- Victor Cruz, WR, Giants: Every receiver has quiet days now and then, so we don't want to completely flip out over a 3-22-0 day from Mr. Salsa. But here's the concern: the Giants are finding other options aroud the goal. Rueben Randle converted one of several goal-line looks into a short TD, and Odell Beckham also had a red-zone touchdown. Larry Donnell was surprisingly held off the sheet completely (no catches, one target), but he had four touchdowns before this week.
Cruz doesn't look like a fantasy difference maker right now, though we might feel differently after next week's game against Philadelphia.
-- Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Just a 2-26-0 day on four targets, and it comes on on the heels of a four-reception game where he saw 14 targets. No one expects White to challenge Julio Jones for control of the Falcons passing game, but White might merely be a WR3 or WR4 for fantasy players these days.
-- C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: He's one of the most frustrating types of fantasy commodities, someone too scary to bench but maybe not good enough to trust, either. Spiller's 10 carries at Detrioit gained just eight yards, and three catches for 25 yards didn't ease the pain much. What the heck do you do with a guy like this?
-- Marques Colston, WR, Saints: You might be okay with a 3-63-0 line, but keep in mind Drew Brees threw 57 passes and Jimmy Graham missed most of the game. Colston is a WR4 (or worse) on my clipboard until further notice. He's leaving plays on the field every week and might have lost a couple of steps at age 31 (and in his ninth season).
- Some other Bust-outs: Montee Ball, Alex Henery, Zac Stacy, Doug Martin, Jordan Cameron, Toby Gerhart and Allen Hurns, Geno Smith (and then Mike Vick was awful, too), Bishop Sankey (damn you, Ken Whisenhunt), Michael Crabtree.
Five selections agains the Yahoo Pro Football pickem number, that's how we roll. Share your best in the comments.
Bills +7 at Lions: Detroit has all sorts of skill-position injuries and I never really trust Matt Stafford, so let's roll with the Bills +7. We don't need Kyle Orton to be a miracle worker, just don't give the game away like EJ Manuel did last week. Buffalo's a very sound team in most areas, and they already have one road upset in the NFC North this year.
Falcons +4 at Giants: Obviously the Atlanta offensive line is a mess, but you can mask those things more in the passing game if you have an elite, confident quarterback. I still think Eli Manning will make a few loose throws every week. The Falcons front seven is a mess, but they're respectable on the flanks. It's a zig-zag pick, don't overreact to what happend the previous week.
Patriots +1 vs. Bengals: Trusting Bill Belichick's history, and thinking New England can't possibly be as bad as it looked last week. Another zig-zag theory selection.
Rams +7 at Eagles: I'm an Austin Davis believer. I'm a Brian Quick believer. The Philly offensive line has problems, and Nick Foles has accuracy issues now and then.
Seahawks -7 at Redskins: A lot of wood to lay on the road, but I can't see how Russell WIlson and Darrell Bevell don't score 30 or more, especially with extra prep time. (To be fair, Washington had a week and a half, as well. But these guys can't stop anyone right now. And Kirk Cousins won't get anything for free on the other side.)
Last Week: 1-3-1
There are a few big names we have to sort through, but overall it's a reasonable injury landscape this week. Get your copay ready and let's sort it out, starting with the wide receivers and tight ends.
• Andre Johnson (ankle) is listed as questionable after a light week. He had a partial practice on Thursday and sat out the other two main days. Even if he goes at Dallas, he won't be 100 percent. DeAndre Hopkins looks like Houston's best receiver.
• Calvin Johnson (knee) is listed as questionable. He took some Friday reps after sitting out the previous two days. Megatron was active for the Week 4 victory over the Jets, but was mostly limited to decoy work. The list of "must-start studs" is fairly small in my estimation, but I still consider Johnson on that list, at least in standard formats.
• Marqise Lee (hamstring) and Cecil Shorts (hamstring) won't play against Pittsburgh, which tidies up the Jacksonville passing options nicely. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and tight end Clay Harbor are all worth considering in medium and deeper pools.
• Eric Decker (hamstring) had a dodgy week and is considered a game-day call at San Diego. With the late start on tap, I can't see risking anything with him. I have a few Decker shares and I'm not going to use any of them.
• Vernon Davis (back) missed the full week of practice and doesn't seem likely to play against Kansas City.
• Marvin Jones was hoping to return this week, but he tweaked a hamstring in practice. He's now considered doubtful for the Sunday nighter at New England.
• Odell Beckham (hamstring) is listed as questionable, but I wouldn't risk a thing until he shows us something in an actual game. The Giants have been doing just fine of late, anyway.
• Delanie Walker (shoulder) is listed as probable, so keep doing what you're doing. Cleveland's tight end coverage has been so-so.
• Niles Paul (post concussion) had a full practice Friday and seems on track for Week 5, though you worry a bit with the Monday night slot. Jordan Reed (hamstring) is closer to questionable. You also worry about the Seahawks defense, though it did allow three touchdowns to Antonio Gates in Week 2 (and a pair of Denver tight-end scores the following week).
• Mike Evans (groin) is out for 2-3 weeks, which pushes Louis Murphy into the deep-league argument at New Orleans. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) had two limited days of practice and is listed as questionable.
• Zach Miller (ankle) won't go for Seattle, which might push you to Luke Willson in some formats.
• Although Ben Tate (knee) is listed as probable on the injury report, he's concerned about weekend swelling. This might come down to a game-time decision. Cleveland has solid alternatives if Tate can't play or is limited, headlined by uber-talented Isaiah Crowell. The Browns have an early start at Tennessee, so we'll know the story ahead of the deadline.
• Reggie Bush better be ready for a healthy share of work, as the Lions won't have Joique Bell (concussion) or Theo Riddick (hamstring) against Buffalo. The Bills are stingy against the run (2.9 YPC), but volume is a wonderful fake-football thing. And Bush is still a handy pass-catcher, of course.
• Bernard Pierce (thigh) is listed as probable, though he had that designation last week but wasn't used in the romp over Carolina. The Ravens are getting good work from all of their backs, and outstanding blocking as well.
• The Texans gave Arian Foster partial reps the final two days of the week and list him as probable for Sunday's game at Dallas.
• With Jonathan Stewart (knee) and DeAngelo Williams (ankle) out for the Panthers, they'll mix and match with Darrin Reaves, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya. To make things more complicated, Cam Newton is still playing through nagging ankle and rib discomfort.
• Carson Palmer (shoulder) remains week-to-week, so Drew Stanton will start at Denver. One thing to like about Stanton: he leads the NFL in percentage of deep passes attempted (per Pro Football Focus), which is good news for anyone tied to emerging star Michael Floyd. The Broncos have a strong secondary, of course, but Stanton has played better than initially expected.
• The Rams have given their starting QB job to Austin Davis. He's off to a strong start, completing 72.3 percent of his passes with an 8.0 YPA. He has some deeper-streamer value in Week 5, against Philly's snap-heavy offense and giveaway defense.
• Looks like we'll see Jake Locker (wrist) back in the saddle. He's listed as probable. Is this the week Ken Whisenhunt finally gets Bishop Sankey and Justin Hunter the opportunities they deserve? Although Sankey doesn't have a run over 20 yards this season, he's carrying a snappy 5.1 YPC (albeit in a limited sample).
• The Broncos decided to release kicker Matt Prater, which means Brandon McManus will hold onto the Denver gig. There's a solid chance Prater will hook on with a new club; his NFL suspension ends next week.
• The Falcons are missing four-fifths of the offensive line they started the season with, so wish Matt Ryan & Company good luck at the Giants.
"The Shuffle Up series is all about going-forward value. These are not Week 5 ranks, they're "if we drafted today" ranks.
Players at the same price are considered even. Be careful not to give someone a 10-15 percent upgrade (or downgrade) just because they're on your fake football team.
Prices for now, commentary up shortly. If you're looking for the Quarterback Shuffle, click here. The running backs and tight ends will be Shuffled in even-numbered weeks.
$32 Antonio Brown
$32 Jordy Nelson
$32 Julio Jones
$31 Demaryius Thomas
$31 Dez Bryant
$30 A.J. Green
$29 Calvin Johnson
$28 Brandon Marshall
$28 Alshon Jeffery
$25 Randall Cobb
$24 Kelvin Benjamin
$24 Jeremy Maclin
$21 Keenan Allen
$20 Michael Floyd
$19 Emmanuel Sanders
$19 Percy Harvin
$18 Steve Smith
$18 Pierre Garcon
$18 Vincent Jackson
Brown is underrated in some circles because he's a mere 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. His touchdown upside is lower than some of the other Tier 1 receivers. He's not going to physically dominate in the red zone, out-jump defenders, box out cornerbacks.
But there's something to be said for lateral agility. And there's definitely something to be said for consistency – the biggest feather in Brown's cap.
We want the biggest stat haul we can get over the course of a season, of course, but we also want a smooth distribution of those points. You're probably better off collecting 18-18-18 points over a three-week sample than 32-18-4. Brown has turned into the rare wide receiver where the volatility rules don't apply; in a world where "boom or bust" can be trotted out for most of the players, Brown is just about bust proof.
Brown had at least five catches in every game last year, and he's recorded 5, 7, 10 and 7 catches in his 2014 starts. That's 20 games in a row at five grabs or more, an NFL record. He's seen double-digit targets in 13 of his last 18 games. Volume is a virtual lock here.
And it's not like Brown can't get into the end zone. He's spiked 12 times over his last 13 game (including one kick-return score), a nifty mix of long-distance and red-zone scoring. He only had one red-zone score last year, but he's already collected three this season (from the 7, 7, and 11-yard line). He can still get open in a constricted area.
So what if Brown doesn't have the size and raw power of some other wideouts? He's been too good for too long. He deserves this spot in the first tier. I can't see any wideout I clearly prefer over him for the rest of the season, though he has plenty of company at the top of the sheet.
It's a little strange to have Megatron down this list, but we have to wonder if he'll be 100 percent at any point in 2014 . . . Nelson is the full package, a dynamic blend speed, power, size. He scores more than his share of long touchdowns, but he's also the NFL's leader in red-zone targets and inside-the-10 targets (though an extra game helps). And when you beat your defender, Aaron Rodgers will find you . . . Bryant is capable of dominating from any part of the field and on any kind of route, but Tony Romo's inconsistency (and cranky back) might hold the story back a little bit . . . I don't see anything to worry about with Thomas; he's still tied to an elite quarterback and he's already had his bye (Seattle is also out of the way). If you were lucky enough to buy on him during the Week 4 holiday, I salute you. But to be fair, I can't imagine any rational observer who's not a full believer of his . . . I was more bullish on Allen in the summer, but the Chargers don't look like a team that will force the ball to anyone. Allen still is on the borderline of WR 1/2 on my clipboard, but I can't hold onto the upside I saw in August . . . It's funny to hear Floyd over Fitzgerald trumpeted as some gutsy call, when I don't know anyone who would prefer Fitzgerald at this point. I initially worried about Floyd keeping his relevance with Drew Stanton at QB; that hasn't proven to be a problem. Stanton actually has the highest percentage of long throws in the league (by far); according to Pro Football Focus, he chucks the ball 20 yards or more about 30 percent of the time. Advantage, Floyd.
$17 Mike Wallace
$17 DeAndre Hopkins
$16 Michael Crabtree
$15 Julian Edelman
$15 Roddy White
$15 Golden Tate
$15 Victor Cruz
$14 Andre Johnson
$13 T.Y. Hilton
$12 Brandin Cooks
$12 DeSean Jackson
$12 Wes Welker
$11 Sammy Watkins
$11 Reggie Wayne
$10 Terrance Williams
$10 Brian Quick
$10 Cordarrelle Patterson
$9 Larry Fitzgerald
$8 Eric Decker
Hopkins over Andre Johnson is another version of Floyd/Fitzgerald; some think it's a novel idea to have Hopkins higher, but most measurements are pointing to Hopkins already. Hopkins is collecting 11.6 yards per target (AJ is at 7.7), and he's spiked three times (AJ's at zero). Johnson still leads the team in targets, but I'd be shocked if that continued much longer. And for all of Johnson's terrific production through the years, you know about his modest returns in the touchdown column. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't reversing that trend.
I would tell you to trade Johnson for Hopkins, but I doubt the Hopkins owner would go for it. If there's one person in your league who's hip to Hopkins's growth, it's him.
Williams is a tricky player. You love the four touchdowns, but he's buried in target share (a mere 17.8 percent). Consider some of the players with bigger market shares in their cities: Allen Robinson, Mohamed Sanu, Donnie Avery, Jeremy Kerley. Obviously this can go a few different ways: maybe the Cowboys will start throwing to Williams more, but given the presence of Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray, Williams probably won't be fed a ton of targets. This is a type of player I'd always like to try to sell high (if you can); someone who's scoring well but it's largely tied to an unrealistic rate of touchdowns.
It's maddening to have Patterson priced this way, but he's already five games into the season and the Vikings can't figure out how to use him. Maybe the extended break before Week 6 will get things going, but I'm not going to pay for that until I see it. I realize Patterson is still raw in many technical areas, but there are simple paths to touches, too. Norv Turner has failed us to this point . . . I loved Decker in August but it was obviously predicated on a healthy season, something we're not getting to this point. Yes, hamstring injuries tend to be nagging injuries – you know, like pretty much any other injury.
$7 Andrew Hawkins
$7 James Jones
$7 Eddie Royal
$7 Markus Wheaton
$6 Anquan Boldin
$6 Rueben Randle
$5 Torrey Smith
$5 Allen Hurns
$5 Jordan Matthews
$5 Justin Hunter
$5 Marques Colston
$4 Dwayne Bowe
$4 Allen Robinson
$4 Hakeem Nicks
$4 Kendall Wright
$3 Marvin Jones
$3 Mike Evans
$3 Miles Austin
$3 Andre Holmes
$3 Josh Gordon
I'm giving it one more week with Hunter (and I'm thinking the Sankey/Greene tide might be about to turn, too). The Ken Whisenhunt-directed Chargers offense was slow to accept some things last year, such as Allen's budding talent. Sankey is too good to drop anyway, but I implore you to wait a week on Hunter, too.
It's almost silly to put a price on any slow-developing stock like Gordon because his value is heavily tied to context even more than the ordinary player. If you have huge benches or you're off to a 3-1 or 4-0 start, sure, stash away. But if you're below .500 and already feeling the pinch, a liquidation play makes sense. You have to season this one to taste, but generally today is underrated in fantasy sports, and tomorrow is overrated.
In most cases, I'm going to Play for Today. Take advantage of what we know right now, not what we imagine will be true months from now. No league constantly reshuffles like the NFL.
Hurns has the high volatility that you get with deep route runners, but heck, he's already scored three times and he should have two other scores. He dropped perhaps the best pass Chad Henne threw all season, a sure long touchdown at Washington, and he bobbled a Week 4 catch that should have been a 46-yard score rather than the 44-yard gain it turned into. Obviously the drops are a concern, but the Jags will keep playing Hurns – they like his ability, he already knows the offense from his University of Miami days, and so many other options are hurt anyway. With Blake Bortles settling in, I like Hurns as an upside play in leagues that start three or four wideouts.
I'm worried about it being a cliff season for Colston. He's in his ninth year. The Browns received too much credit for Colston's target-less bagel in Week 2; when you don't get a single look on a day where your QB throws 40 passes, you're doing something wrong.
$2 Greg Jennings
$2 Doug Baldwin
$2 Brandon LaFell
$2 Mohamed Sanu
$2 John Brown
$2 Davante Adams
$2 Jeremy Kerley
$2 Cecil Shorts III
$1 Malcom Floyd
$1 Robert Woods
$1 Andre Roberts
$1 Jermaine Kearse
$1 Jerricho Cotchery
$1 Brian Hartline
$1 Devin Hester
$1 Harry Douglas
$1 Jarius Wright
$1 Marqise Lee
$1 Odell Beckham Jr.
$0 Donnie Avery
$0 Nate Washington
$0 Kenny Stills
$0 Riley Cooper
$0 Jarvis Landry
$0 Louis Murphy
$0 Tavon Austin
$0 Stevie Johnson
$0 Donte Moncrief
$0 Kenny Britt
$0 Jarrett Boykin
$0 Aaron Dobson
Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for Week 5.
Tom Brady, who's been dropped en masse over the past few days, passing touchdowns against the visiting Bengals 1.5
Scott – UNDER. I just gave Brady away cheap in the Stopa 10K League, and with zero regrets. The offensive line is a joke. The receivers can't get to the second and third levels. Cincinnati has a nasty defense, and it's fresh off the bye. Even if the Patriots steal this game, it will be through a balanced offense, not through Brady playing Superman. Those days are over.
Brandon – UNDER. I want to keep saying over, because it's going to happen soon enough. But the tape on Brady and that pass offense have been criminally offensive. And if you look at the Bengals' defense, it's allowing just 5.4 yards per pass attempt (YPA), which is easily the lowest in the league. Then you see Brady averaging 5.77 YPA, which is 33rd among the 34 qualifying quarterbacks, to this point. Having a home game, coming off a brutal loss, you'd expect New England to come out with a major chip on its shoulders. But, Rob Gronkowski or not, there's no mistaking the fact that the Patriots have a serious talent issue on the offensive side of the ball, and it's likely that Brady goes down in woeful fashion once again.
Andy – UNDER. Soon, we'll just have to stop talking about this team and this player. Brady has been ordinary, his receivers have been ordinary, his line is ordinary, his running game is ... well, it's just a big pile of ordinary. Even his hair has lacked its usual luster. No thanks. This week, he faces a damn good defense that's coming off a bye.
Eddie Royal, who's stormed out to his usual hot start, touchdowns against the hapless Jets .5
Andy – OVER. The targets have been there for Royal all season. If he sees his usual 6-8 chances against the Jets secondary, I like his chances for an end-zone spike. As the year goes on, I fully expect this to be a spin-the-wheel offense, with everyone binging at various points.
Brandon – OVER. Sure, I'll bite. Royal is fourth among receivers with three goal-line targets. And, with Danny Woodhead out (a guy that Philip Rivers loves to target near painted grass), I expect Royal to see a lot of the targets that would normally be ticketed for Woodhead, since they both can be easily moved around the line of scrimmage, and are nifty/shifty in tight spaces. And considering that this week's opponent is the Jets, about as stout as it gets in run defense (zero touchdowns allowed to RBs), the Chargers are likely to have to throw when they get close to have any hope of success.
Dalton – OVER. I’m guessing I'm going to be the contrarian here. He’s scored four touchdowns over his past nine receptions (on 13 targets), and while Royal is 5-foot-10, 185, that actually goes with this year’s theme of smaller receivers scoring this season, to go along with Randall Cobb and Antonio Brown. Royal sure seems like an early season fluke, but San Diego can’t run without Ryan Mathews and faces a Jets secondary this week that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year (including an NFL-high six TDs).
Mr. Conservative, Russell Wilson, total pass attempts against a highly exploitable Washington secondary 31.5
Brandon – UNDER. He's only went over this number in five of 35 regular-season games, with two being overtime affairs. True, Washington's secondary is easily the best way to attack the 'Skins, but the Seahawks don't change their style for anyone. Marshawn Lynch sets up the entire offense, and everything is predicated upon teams having to shut him down. Wilson's passing game success lies heavily in taking advantage of the focus on Lynch, and he's highly efficient when he does take his opportunities downfield.
Dalton – OVER. He’s averaged 29.0 pass attempts this year, and while it hasn’t been the case so far this season, it’s safe to expect more when on the road. Washington looked terrible last week, but they are at home on Monday night and should rebound to at least give the Seahawks a game. Wilson should be throwing against a Washington defense that has ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season (while yielding the sixth-most against opposing signal callers).
Brad – OVER. For some sick demented reason, I believe Washington gives Seattle a game, forcing Wilson to remove gun from holster. Given Washington's porous play against the pass (7.82 ypa allowed), he exceeds the proposed number and finishes with 260 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Jamaal Charles, fresh off a TD hat trick against the Pats, combined yards on the road in San Fran 89.5.
Dalton – UNDER. After facing the best running game in football in Week 1, the 49ers have held backs to a total of just 157 yards over the past three games. That’s an average of 52.3 yards from scrimmage from Matt Forte, Andre Ellington and LeSean McCoy. Charles is on the road during a short week and now giving up touches to Knile Davis.
Brad – UNDER. The JC of KC walked on water last week against New England, but this week will be a wakeup call. San Fran has given up just 3.44 yards per carry. The Niners have also done a magnificent job collapsing on short-field receivers. Just look at what Matt Forte did against them. Not much.
Scott – UNDER. The unstoppable DeMarco Murray did well against the Niners, even if it came outside of the competitive game context, but Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy did nothing, and Andre Ellington was underwhelming. For all the questions about the San Francisco team right now, it's still stuffing the run well (3.5 YPC).
Same game different name. What RB finishes with the better Week 5 fantasy line: Ben Tate or Bishop Sankey?
Andy – SANKEY. I have no idea what the Tate-Crowell-West mess is gonna look like, but I do know that Isaiah Crowell has been awfully impressive. It seems silly to ask him to return to an understudy role, in favor of Ben Tate. I think Whiz will come through on his promise to feed Sankey a bit more this week.
Scott – As much as I want to go Sankey, I can't trust Whisenhunt to do the right thing. Tate has to deal with other talented backs in-house - Crowell's skill jumps off the tape - but at least he's with a team willing to give him a fair shot. I'm sick of listening to Whisenhunt complain about his only good running back. Please, put us out of the Shonn Greene misery.
Dalton – TATE. This is a coin flip. Sankey is no doubt headed for a bigger role in Tennessee’s backfield with such little competition, while Tate was the clear workhorse before suffering an injury but now has to compete with an impressive Crowell. I have Tate ranked slightly higher this week, but I don’t feel strongly about it.
DeSean Jackson, for all intents and purposes stayed at home versus the Giants in Week 4, receiving yards against Richard Sherman and friends 54.5.
Brad – UNDER. The 'Hawks excel at taking away big plays downfield, but have conceded opportunities underneath. Unless D-Jax is active in the screen game, this a contest tailored to Pierre Garcon's strengths.
Andy – UNDER. No one likes Washington skill players this week, for obvious reasons. These guys are pure desperation plays. I'd sit Garcon, too. I'd sit Art Monk and Riggins and Stephen Davis and Mark Rypien.
Brandon – UNDER. Seattle is a tough defense for a deep-ball artist like Jackson. The Seahawks have allowed just three pass plays of 20-plus yards this season. And after watching Washington QB Kirk Cousins float errant deep passes that the Giants secondary feasted on (4 INTs), I'm guessing that the team employs a lot of shorter, less volatile routes, which is one reason I'm really high on Roy Helu as a PPR play this week. Sure, the bubble screen is likely to get DeSean Jackson into the mix, but he's not going to get rich off of that against this defense. Expect a quiet afternoon from one of the NFL's brashest individuals.
Travis Kelce, who's created fan clubs across Fantasyland, receiving yards against the Niners 59.5?
Brandon – UNDER. I love Kelce, but you have to look at that 49ers defense and what it has done vs. the TE position, holding Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, Zach Ertz and all other tight ends it has faced this year to no more than 43 yards (Ertz). And, for his part, Kelce has gone under this number twice in four games, so he's only been a coin flip at this O/U number.
Dalton – UNDER. I love Kelce’s talent and am happy to see him being more featured in Kansas City’s offense, but the 49ers have allowed an average of just 34.0 yards to opposing tight ends this year, which is the fewest in the NFL. Kelce has a bright future, but he’s not a great start in Week 5.
Brad – OVER. Ertz, Bennett and Witten were nowhere close to this number, but down Donnie Avery, Alex Smith has sparse weapons at his disposal. Kelce's explosive capabilities will be on display yet again. Bank on 65-70 receiving yards.
Montee Ball, currently outside the RB top-20 in per game average, total yards in a brutal matchup with the Arizona Cardinals 69.5.
Dalton – UNDER. I expected a lot more from Ball this year and would love to call him a buy-low candidate, but it’s hard to ignore how tough his matchup is this week. The Cardinals have allowed an average of 72.7 yards from scrimmage from opposing running backs, so the safe bet here is another disappointing game from Ball.
Brad – UNDER. Ball is entering an unfavorable period akin to what Eddie Lacy experienced to begin the season. After this week, he faces the Jets and Niners. The volume will be there, but 'Zona has surrendered just 2.58 yards per carry to RBs. He falls just shy of the above number.
Scott – UNDER, though he might bail out with some goal line looks. The Broncos might as well pass their way to victory, anyway. Arizona has three sacks on the season; Peyton Manning's jersey won't need laundering after this one.
BOLD PREDICTION. The one quarterback under 50-percent started in Yahoo leagues that has the best chance to exceed 19.9 fantasy points in Week 5 is ____________.
Brad – AUSTIN DAVIS. Philly, netting nearly 76 snaps per game, forces opponents to play a breakneck pace. Davis, who exceeded this number prior to the Rams' bye week versus Dallas, has rock solid odds of placing inside the RB top-20. Keep in mind he's completed more than 72 percent of his attempts in his past two games.
Scott – That Brady trade I referred to earlier? I accepted MIKE GLENNON in return, hoping he takes the Bucs QB job and runs with it. It's a joke he lost the gig in the first place; no one else in the NFL took Josh McCown's brief moment of glory seriously. The Saints should be able to chuck the ball against the leaky Tampa pass defense, which presents a volume case for Glennon and friends. It's a shame Mike Evans won't be part of the mix, but I'll take a shot, anyway.
Andy – AUSTIN DAVIS. The matchup certainly works (Philly), plus he's coming off a bye. The kid is completing everything, and both Britt and Quick are looking like viable fantasy plays. I just dealt Quick for Davis in a 20-team league, in fact, because I needed to start anyone other than Kirk Cousins this week.
Top-Five Buys. Your best bets (versus the spread or over/unders) for Week 5.
Andy – 1) TB/NO UNDER 48, 2) Den -7.5 vs. Ari, 3) Cin -1.5 vs. NE, 4) Hou +6 at Dal, 5) KC +6 at SF
Brandon – 1) HOU (+6) at DAL 2) N.O. (-10) vs. T.B. 3) DET (-7) vs. BUF 4) CHI (+3) at CAR 5) PHI (-7) vs. STL
Dalton – 1) DEN (-7.5) vs. Ari 2) N.O. (-10) vs. T.B. 3) HOU (+6) at Dal 4) JAX (+6.5) vs. Pit 5) K.C. (+6) at S.F.
Scott – 1) SEA -7, 2) PIT/JAX over 47, 3) ATL/NYG under 50.5, 4) CLE/TEN under 44.5, 5) ATL +4.
Brad – 1) TB/NO OVER (48), 2) Ari (+7.5) at Den, 3) NE (+1.5) vs. Cin), 4) Ind/Bal OVER (48), 5) Hou (+6) at Dal
The Shuffle Up series is all about value to come. What's happened to this point is merely an audition. How would you rank the players if you were starting from fresh today? (These are not Week 5 ranks.)
The dollar values are merely comparison tools; they're not assembled in any scientific way. Players at the same position are considered even. We're aiming to illustrate tiers, show where the pockets of value are.
You'll disagree with some things (perhaps many things) because that's why we have a game in the first place. Share your respectful disagreement in the comments.
We'll take a slightly different tack on the first wave of quarterback comments, trying to ascertain where the right answers at the posiiton have come this year. After the full pricing of QBs is complete, we'll go back to the usual commentary that's forward-thinking.
(If you want to see Wide Receiver prices, click here. Running backs and tight ends will be Shuffled during the even-numbered weeks.)
$31 Peyton Manning
$30 Andrew Luck
$30 Aaron Rodgers
$28 Drew Brees
$26 Matt Ryan
$25 Nick Foles
$21 Colin Kaepernick
$21 Philip Rivers
$21 Russell Wilson
$21 Jay Cutler
$20 Matthew Stafford
$15 Ben Roethlisberger
$14 Andy Dalton
$14 Cam Newton
$13 Eli Manning
$11 Alex Smith
$11 Tony Romo
$11 Blake Bortles
Opinions vary greatly on when a fantasy team should take its quarterback. Some owners want to go early and go big; quarterbacks score the most points in standard formats and the elite ones are usually high-floor players. Other owners feel you can go very late, invest on the cheap; it's all about the marginal difference at the position, after all, and you might not be giving up too much with a late QB pick, given how deep the position has become. Some might opt to stream the position completely, just take the leftovers and work the weekly matchups.
And then there's the case for something in the middle. To this point in the season (and yes, it's been just four weeks), that's where 2014's right answer has come from. Andrew Luck (1305 passing yards, 13 touchdowns) is carrying teams on his broad shoulders.
Consider some of the QB facts of life this year, assembled by our friends at Automated Insights.
Yahoo fantasy teams that drafted Luck have a winning percentage of 64.9 percent, far and away the highest of any QB. Luck's ADP was a reasonable 44.1. The second biggest winning factor at QB is another mid-range guy, Matt Ryan (56.5 percent, 48.2 ADP).
If you waited around for Philip Rivers (73.9 ADP), you're winning 53.8 percent of the time. He's third on the list.
The big names, the blue chippers? It's been a mixed bag. Peyton Manning (ADP: 8.4) is fourth at 52.7 percent, though it's a little misleading since Denver took a Week 4 bye (the percentages include all four weeks, so a replacement QB factors in here). Although I didn't want to pay the freight on Manning this year, I doubt many teams regret taking him. Drew Brees teams are scuffling at 47.8 percent (at least he's home for five of his next seven games). Aaron Rodgers, 49.1 percent.
There are only seven primary QBs who have steered a winning percentage over 50 percent: Luck, Ryan, Rivers, Manning, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson. Rodgers, Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton are just under 50 percent.
And then there are the season ruiners (to this point). Cam Newton's at 43.2 percent, though he did miss one game. He's still playing through some injuries and has been reluctant to run. Tom Brady owners win just 39.3 percent of the time (heck, sometimes it feels like zero). At this point, you're not answering his phone calls.
The best round to take a QB? Thus far, it's showing up as Rounds 4 or 5, when you could have landed someone like Luck or Ryan (or even Stafford, above the break even). The worst winning percentages by QB-round selection: Rounds 2, 3 and 7.
And if you waited until Round 10 or later, you're at 50.2 percent – treading above water. Sounds about right. Some teams clicked with early (non-QB) picks, some teams misfired.
Just having Luck on board almost guarantees a fast start: no matter what round you took him in, anywhere from the first to the eighth round, your winning percentage mean is between 60-67 percent. When a player is scoring like he is, the value of the pick doesn't even matter – just get the points. Of course, any strategy works if you pick the right players. You may have heard us say that once or twice.
$9 Joe Flacco
$9 Mike Glennon
$8 Teddy Bridgewater
$7 Tom Brady
$7 Kirk Cousins
$6 Carson Palmer
$6 Geno Smith
$5 Ryan Fitzpatrick
$4 Ryan Tannehill
$4 Austin Davis
$3 Kyle Orton
$3 Brian Hoyer
$2 Jake Locker
$2 Drew Stanton
$1 Derek Carr
$1 Robert Griffin III
$1 Johnny Manziel
$1 Jimmy Clausen
$0 Shaun Hill
$0 Michael Vick
$0 Josh McCown
$0 Mark Sanchez
$0 Matt McGloin
$0 Matt Moore
$0 EJ Manuel
The Luck skeptics point to his paper-mache schedule to this point. Philly and Jacksonville haven't stopped anyone, and the Titans might be a bad team. Game flow contributed to Luck's big Week 1 at Denver. Three tricky matchups are on the way: Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati.
But maybe Luck has enough talent and weapons to be termed matchup proof. The Colts have assembled a deep group of pass catchers, and the running game (still centered around plodding Trent Richardson) is unlikely to steer many victories). The Colts defense is allowing 8.0 YPA and 250 yards a game; more shootouts could on the way.
And then you have Luck's rushing chops. He averages about 19 rushing yards per game this year, with 10 touchdowns in 36 pro starts. Every little bit helps.
As for quarterbacks outside of Naptown:
-- Seattle's balanced offense often hurts Wilson in fantasy, though he rarely has washout games – and he also has a nifty rushing backboard. With matchup-friendly Washington, Dallas and St. Louis (absentee pass rush) on the docket, Wilson (and play-calling ace Darrell Bevell) should have a fruitful October.
-- Staying upright could be a challenge for Ryan, as the Falcons continue to lose offensive linemen by the truckload. But keep in mind it's easier to mask a poor line in the passing game than it is the running game. Ryan also has shootout potential most weeks, helped by the spotty Atlanta defense. And throwing to Julio Jones is good work if you can get it.
-- Stafford has been critiqued over the years for his inconsistency and mechanical flaws, and now he has surrounding concerns. How healthy is Calvin Johnson? How healthy, and how good, is Joique Bell? And is Detroit's defense good enough to flush away some of Stafford's upside? Don't forget the nightmare game Detroit and Green Bay gave us two weeks back.
-- I want no part of Brady, as I've said several places. Maybe they can fix the line eventually, but it's not going to happen right away. Rob Gronkowski isn't close to 100 percent yet. Julian Edelman is a nice complimentary piece, but he really shouldn't be your No. 1 wideout. There's no one to stretch the field right now. And in an underreported story, pass-catching back Shane Vereen is not playing very well. I could see the Pats cobbling a division title at 9-7 despite Brady, not because of him.
-- Bortles doesn't look like a rookie at all. His sack rate is a quarter of Chad Henne's nightmare number (17 percent). He's going to run some every week, and his young receiver corps isn't bad. Tight end Clay Harbor is around to help, too.
Consider a Bortles test drive in Week 5: I think he'll get plenty of volume, and make some big plays, in a high-scoring matchup against Pittsburgh.
-- If I knew the Bucs would settle in with Glennon, no questions asked, I'd have him a little higher. I'm also sad to see him lose Mike Evans for a few weeks. The Josh McCown injury probably saved the Bucs from themselves; now they have to play their young quarterback, who is their best quarterback.
The Bucs have a sluggish running game and their pass defense is awful. Glennon could quickly turn into a volume monster; heck, he got to 302 passing yards last week at Pittsburgh, despite an ordinary performance. Get ready for a Tampa Bay carnival.
-- I hope the Rams give Davis a chance to settle in. He's played pretty well. He has the best deep-passing metrics of the 27 quarterbacks who have enough qualifying attempts (hat tip, Pro Football Focus), while Brady sits last on that list. (One other interesting nugget: Foles has attempted the most deep passes this year by far. He's tried 39 passes of 20 yards or more, while Ryan and Rivers are next with 22.)
(We've put enough text into one blog piece; we'll give Wide Receivers their own column over here. Running backs and tight ends will be Shuffled during the even-numbered weeks.)
Last week, at the invitation of Rotoworld's Steve Alexander — known to many of you as "Swaggy A" "Dr. A" — twelve of North America's most distinguished fantasy basketball experts assembled to draft a head-to-head, nine-category league. (More accurately, it was ten distinguished experts, plus Funston and myself.)
No, it is not ideal to draft your fantasy hoops roster in late-September, with the entire preseason still ahead. But we're professionals, which means we're expected to have a certain level of precognition. So draft we did.
Here's the full lineup of writers involved in the Rotoworld Friend & Family Hoop league, listed by draft order (with Twitter links):
1. Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld
2. Kyle McKeown, Rotowire
3. Nick Raducanu, ProjectRoto
4. Chris Towers, CBS
5. Tommy Beer, BasketballInsiders
6. Brandon Funston, Yahoo
7. Matt Buser, Basketball Monster
8. Dr. Roto, ScoutFantasy
9. Tom Carpenter, ESPN
10. Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld
11. Dr. A, Rotoworld
12. Andy Behrens, Yahoo
A formidable group, for sure. Almost as soon as the draft timer began to count down, we had our first unexpected selection...
In a typical Yahoo draft, Kawhi Leonard is taken in the 20-24 range, at the back end of Round 2. But if you're drafting in a league in which several owners share the same pet players — and that was certainly the case with this crew — you occasionally reach for your targets. If Gallagher would not have taken Leonard at 10, he wouldn't have landed him — I would have considered him at the run, and Alexander declared that he would have taken him at 14. Kawhi was a solid across-the-board contributor last season, not a significant liability in any category, and he managed to post a top-30 season on less than 30 minutes per game. That ain't easy. With a small uptick in responsibilities this season (not a given), Leonard could reasonably/almost/maybe justify this pick. He's a great percentage shooter who surged in the second-half last year, and, as you might have heard, he was pretty decent in the NBA Finals. This pick is easy to criticize, but I respect the belief in an obviously great player.
LeBron James is generally selected second overall in public leagues, but it's important to note that his end-of-season schedule is a bit light on games. Check the grid (and bookmark). In Weeks 20-25, the Cavs play 3, then 4, then 3, 2, 3 and 2. It's definitely an issue for Love, Kyrie and LBJ owners in head-to-head formats.
Also, it's easy to argue for Anthony Davis at No. 2, without regard to Cleveland's unfortunate end-of-season schedule. He's a freakish player, a monster in his core categories and a fill-the-stat-sheet fantasy asset.
The Michael Carter-Williams pick was such a jarring departure from ADP (73.2) that I reached out to Kyle for a quick spin. This was his response:
The reason I selected Michael Carter-Williams at the end of the second round with the 23rd pick is because it's a head-to-head league. I don't think enough people account for the fact that most of the rankings sets we have on all our of sites are better for rotisserie leagues than they are for head-to-head leagues. In head-to-head, if you're not punting, it's my opinion that you're not playing the game correctly. A nine-category H2H league only requires that you win five of the nine categories you're competing in to win a matchup. So, my general strategy iis to punt turnovers, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. By doing that, my rankings are more weighted to the six positive counting categories of points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and three-pointers made, which all carry less variance than the stats I'm punting in weekly matchups.
When you're only accounting for those six stats in your rankings, MCW is ranked as the fifth-best player according to RotoWire's projections. While MCW's ADP (average draft position) of 73rd on Yahoo! would suggest I could have taken him later, we did have some ESPN writers in the draft, and their pre-draft ranking for MCW is 32nd on ESPN, so I thought I had to take him with my 23rd pick (getting an 18-pick value according to my punt strategy), or I would run the risk of losing MCW to one of the ESPN writers or another savvy expert.
I'll add that a semi-injured rehabbing player like MCW (shoulder) is less of a risk in head-to-head, where March and April mean so much more than November and December. Carter-Williams averaged 17, 6 and 6 last season, which clearly has value. And if you plan to ignore the likelihood that he'll again be a high-volume, low-percentage shooter ... well, you probably still don't need to take him in Round 2. But you can understand the thinking. Full credit to Kyle for entering the draft with a plan, along with rankings that fit his strategy.
As for my team, the turn picks went just as I would have guessed (although after Kawhi went tenth, I briefly allowed myself to hope for Russell Westbrook at 12. Alas). In Rounds 3-4, I had hoped that one of the injury risk former MVPs would fall to me, either Derrick Rose or Kobe Bryant. But it didn't happen, and then the rapid-fire picks of Goran Dragic, Rajon Rondo and Ty Lawson left me chasing PG stats at Pick No. 36.
So I can't say I love Bradley Beal at this price, as he's essentially a two-category player by the standards of his position, and a drag on field-goal percentage. It's reasonable to expect Beal to score his age (21), but I'll be stunned if he finishes above DeMar DeRozan in the end-of-year ranks. Those two were separated by 15 picks here, with Beal on top.
I don't know that I can even be objective about Jabari Parker, having witnessed a fair amount of his prep career. He's going to score, immediately. He'll rebound at a respectable rate, too. And I think he's exactly the sort of player who can deliver a few defensive goodies for fantasy owners, without actually being a competent real-life defender. By the time Parker was a high school junior, he already had Paul Pierce's offensive game. He'll presumably get all the shot attempts he can handle in Milwaukee. I'm a buyer. I had hoped to land Jabari and Kenneth Faried at the Round 5-6 turn, but narrowly missed.
Faried, to me, seems like a near-lock to outperform his draft spot. Not only was he beastly in FIBA play (12.2 PPG, 63.0 FG%, 14.3 R/40), but he was notably manimalistic after the break last year (18.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG). I'm three drafts/auctions into the fantasy hoops season, and thus far I've landed him in all three. I followed Faried with Dwyane Wade here, in part because I was plugging positions, but also due to team context. Without LeBron in Miami, it's a bump for Bosh, Wade and Deng. The masses have written of Wade, essentially because he scuffled in the last two games of a one-sided Finals series, but last year's numbers were just fine: 19.0 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 54.5 FG%. No one expects an 82-game season, however, so he'll be a high-maintenance experience.
If you need Andrew Wiggins on your roster, you generally need to pay a slightly steeper price than Beer did here. Wiggins' current ADP is 59.2. I have a tough time viewing him as exceptional in any standard category, at least for this year. Minutes won't ultimately be a worry, but we're not talking about a stellar percentage-shooter (44.8 FG% at KU), nor a volume rebounder, nor ... well, look, he's 19 (as is Parker). He's nearly all projection at this point. He'll work off Rubio nicely. The highlights should be great, but the stat lines may not always pay the fantasy bills. Despite the top-of-the-charts athleticism, he had some rough moments at the rim as a collegiate player. Bottom line, I'm much more confident in Parker's ability to deliver top-60 fantasy value in his first season.
As is the case in basically all fantasy sports, every year, there's a lot of value in aging, boring, very good proven players. Korver, Pekovic, Deng and Joe outside the top-75? I'll take it.
Unfortunately, I could not actually take it in this particular draft, because none of those dudes fell to the final pick of Round 7. But Calderon fits the old/boring/reliable description, too, and the roster I'd constructed in Rounds 1-6 was both lacking assists and loaded with turnovers. He works. George Hill would have also worked, plus he's well-positioned for an increase in value, considering the offseason losses suffered in Indy. Passing on Hill was a minor regret. For better or worse, this is happening...
Vogel: "I'm going to put (George Hill) in position to be more assertive." Will be a point guard led team this year.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) September 29, 2014
Elfrid Payton figures to start for Orlando as a first-year player, and he looks like a useful steals/assist specialist. Payton is an excellent defender who led the Sun Belt in steals per game (2.3) and assists (5.9) last season, and finished second in scoring (19.2). But shooting is an issue (61.1 FT%) and he led the nation in turnovers (127), so the kid is not without flaws. The Rondo comp definitely fits.
My ninth rounder, Taj Gibson, was pretty clearly an offseason loser in terms of fantasy value. Had the Melo-to-Chicago plan succeeded, Taj would have entered the year as an unrivaled starter for the Bulls, a reliable 32-MPG player. Instead, he'll open the season (again) as a sixth-man-of-the-year candidate. He'll close games for Chicago, no doubt — he's a ridiculously versatile defender, a Thibs favorite — but it's tough to see how he'll top 24-26 MPG while Pau and Noah are fully functional. Nikola Mirotic is lurking, too, and drawing favorable reviews. It's really a loaded frontcourt, in which everyone may suffer statistically to some extent.
Brandon essentially took all the risk out of Eric Gordon by drafting him outside the top 100 picks. His deep injury history isn't such a worry in the "what if?" rounds.
The end-game in this draft, you'll notice, was stacked with vets in various states of disrepair and/or recovery: Gordon, Andrew Bogut, Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, Steve Nash, et al.
Marcus Smart was a terrific late lottery ticket, and he won't lack for minutes early in the year in Boston. Rondo is currently sidelined by a fracture in his left hand, an issue that should carry into the early weeks of the regular season. Smart is a ball hawk of a defender, a player with strength a serious wingspan (6-foot-9), and it's clear that he's impressed his head coach. (For a great/thoughtful read on Smart's personal history, try this link.) I queued him up during the tenth round, but he didn't make it to me at the final pick in Round 11. Such is life at the turn.
Julius Randle was simply an appreciate-his-game selection. (Note that I also took Z-Bo, Randle's best-case-scenario comp.) I'll admit, it's tough to defend this pick when the Lakers' starting power forward was still on the board. I'd just like to see where the Randle story goes. He won't turn 20 until November, so it's possible his entire season will be a developmental exercise, light on meaningful minutes. I may yet drop him for a Plumlee. Nik Stauskas arguably would have been the right pick there, if I absolutely had to have a rookie. At least he's in the starting conversation for Sacramento.
The final two picks in my draft were simply position/category fills, not upside fliers. (And I've since dropped Jack in favor of another non-upside vet, Jameer Nelson.) If you have continuing interest in this league or draft — hard to believe, but possible — you can find full post-draft team rosters right here.
As always, your constructive comments are appreciated. Sometimes cherished. Only rarely thumbed-down. Do your worst...
The bust rate among brand names is staggering. LeSean McCoy, Tom Brady and Andre Johnson, are just a few high-priced commodities that have "rewarded" owners with pennies-on-the-dollar production.
[Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first]
On this week’s uplifting program, Melanie Collins, Brad Evans, Brandon Funston, Andy Behrens and Shaun King will tell you what toxic asset won’t drive you to the bottle in Week 5. Additionally, our fantasy gumshoes will provide the latest info on Arian Foster’s availability against the Bills, whether Big Ben will outperform Nick Foles, push you off the fence on Montee Ball and, naturally, answer your pressing questions.
Here’s how you can join the circus:
WATCH HERE at 11:30 a.m. ET
As always, the Big Noise and Bagel Boy will whet your Week 5 appetite on our two-hour pregame show starting at 9 AM ET. On tap this week, in-depth discussions on Bishop Sankey, Isaiah Crowell and Redskins, lots and lots of Redskins. We’ll also tackle your biggest conundrums. Reach us here:
Straight cash homie! In his never-ending quest to pay off his kids' college education early, Brad Evans unveils his FanDuel picks for the upcoming week and explains his reasoning behind them. Make that money, #TeamHuevos.
FAKE BUDGET: $60,000
Mike Glennon, TB, QB (FanDuel Price: $6,100) – Everyone's favorite Mozzarella Stick will satisfy every daily gamer's scoring appetite. As Tony Romo proved last week, New Orleans' secondary is overly generous. Corners Keenan Lewis and Corey White have yielded a combined 106.2 QB rating, 7.81 pass yards per attempt and 66.7 catch rate. Overall, the Saints' D ranks eighth in most fantasy points allowed to QBs. Due to Tampa's soft defense, Glennon should be in line for another 40-plus attempts. Recall last week in a shocking come-from-behind win at Pittsburgh he chucked the rock 42 times, tallying 302 yards and two scores. A similar output is in order down on the bayou.
Le'Veon Bell, Pit, RB ($8,600) – Clanging the Bell for the second straight week, Le'Veon is worth the exorbitant price tag. Why? The Hello Kitties of the NFL, Jacksonville, are on the docket. Few defenses have been more accommodating to rushers than the Jags. Ranking third in most-fantasy points allowed to the position, they've surrendered 165.8 total yards and six scores to plowshares. In a contest with plenty of blowout appeal, Bell, who's averaged a lucrative 142.5 combined yards per game, is a near lock to reach the century mark yet again.
Rashad Jennings, NYG, RB ($7,200) – Don't be fooled by his mediocre performance in Week 4. Off a 37-touch effort just days before, Jennings was purposely used sparingly in last Thursday's convincing win in Washington. The bellcow, rested and raring to go, should be milked by the masses. No defense has given up more fantasy points to the RB position than Atlanta. RB1s have averaged a whopping 19.87 fantasy points per game against the Dirty Birds this year. A relatively cheap option, he should smash his way to 100-plus yards and a touchdown.
Antonio Brown, Pit, WR ($9,000) – 116-1708-20. That's the pace the ultra-reliable receiver is on. Pure insanity. Nearly unstoppable through four games, Brown has transformed into arguably the best wide receiver in the game. His smooth routes, separation speed and tacky hands are practically unmatched. His Week 5 foe, Jacksonville, has its hands full. No Jaguars DB ranks inside the top-70 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. Playing time could be a factor in the second half, but Brown may easily rack 90-plus yards and a score in the first half. Slap the wallet.
Kelvin Benjamin, Car, WR ($7,100) – Carolina's matchup nightmare has developed into a true consistency king. His lengthy frame, fine ball-adjustment skills and long-range wheels has caused fits for opposing secondaries. Chicago's defensive backfield, down Peanut Tillman, is highly exploitable. Kyle Fuller has played brilliantly, but Tim Jennings, who's posted a 112.1 QB rating allowed, has been burned often. Additionally, Chicago has several question marks at safety. Overall, the Bears have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs. The rookie, who's scored in three of four games, splashes pay-dirt once again.
Golden Tate, Det, WR ($6,300) – Consistently one of the best values on the board in FanDuel, Tate, off a sensational 8-116-0 grounding of the Jets, is practically must-start material. With Calvin Johnson not quite 100-percent and given the matchup, he's a strong candidate to surpass 80 yards with a TD in Week 5. Outside Corey Graham, the Bills have struggled mightily in pass coverage. Stephen Gilmore, Nickell Robey and Leodis McKelvin have conceded a combined 117.5 QB rating and 80.9 catch percentage. Working underneath, Tate has a field day.
Garrett Graham, Hou, TE ($5,000) – The Cowboys are clearly allergic to tight ends. They've surrendered an unreal 9.3 receptions per game and six total touchdowns to the position. When Jared Cook burns you for seven catches and 75 yards even the most marginal tight end talent has the capability of causing fits. Count on Yukon Cornelius (Ryan Fitzpatrick) and Graham striking it rich. Roughly five catches for 50 yards and a TD are in my fearless forecast.
Dan Bailey, Dal, K ($5,500) – Kickers are a fickle fantasy beast, but I get the sense Houston's D will bend, not break, against Tony Romo and Co., giving Bailey plenty of opportunities to boot three.
Detroit D/ST ($4,800) – Kyle Orton's progressions and quicker release are an upgrade, but he draws a tough first assignment against a Lions secondary allowing only 6.42 pass yards per attempt. Suh devours him whole.
Welp, this week's Thursday tilt isn't looking quite as exciting as we'd originally hoped.
For one thing, Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is highly questionable as of this writing, still dealing with an ankle malfunction. If Christian Ponder leads the Vikings offense, everyone suffers.
Also, the weather forecast for Green Bay is full of ugliness: rain showers, thunderstorms, 100 percent chance of precipitation, slight chance of monsoon, etc. So that's not great.
The best of the fringy fantasy options tied to TNF this week are the Minnesota running backs, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. Green Bay's defense ranks dead-last against the run this season, allowing 176.0 rushing yards per game and 4.6 per carry. Matt Forte and Kadeem Carey hammered the Pack in Week 4, combining for a whopping 243 scrimmage yards (194 of them on the ground, often between the tackles).
I'm plenty bullish on both Asiata and McKinnon this week, ranking them as top-25 RBs. Neither qualifies as a true "flier" for our purposes here, however, based on their ownership percentages in Yahoo leagues (78 for Asiata, 45 for McKinnon).
Thus, we look to the Packers' passing game...
WR Davante Adams (5 percent owned, 1 percent started) – With Jarrett Boykin a no-go for Week 5 due to injury, Adams should continue to see the field in three-receiver sets — and Green Bay, as you know, rolls with three receivers regularly. Just scanning the box-score, it may appear that Adams suffered through a quiet afternoon at Chicago in Week 4 (2-18-0), but it's worth noting that the rookie had a touchdown reception wiped out by penalty.
Adams has good size (6-foot-1), excellent hands and tremendous leaping ability (39.5-inch vert), and he was hugely productive as a collegiate player at Fresno State. Last year, he basically averaged 10 catches, 132 yards and two TDs per game. The breakout performance from Adams is coming soon — possibly this week, if the Vikes are determined to eliminate either Jordy or Cobb.
Adams is definitely worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues, even if you don't need to deploy him tonight.
Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names who he believes are destined to
implode leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 5 Lames in the comments section below.
See Also: Week 5 Flames
Matt Ryan, Atl, QB (91-percent started)
Matchup: at NYG
Whether it's the air travel, uncomfortable beds, grass tracks or slipped laxatives, something has negatively affected the homebody's performance on the road. Over his past 10 games away from the creature comforts of the Georgia Dome, Ryan has failed to eclipse 20 fantasy points in standard formats six times. To be fair, he skewered a Vikings secondary to the tune of 298 yards and three touchdowns on the road, but he also tossed two interceptions. With Julio Jones practically uncoverable, Roddy White nearing full health and little ground game to lean on, most would consider Ryan a lock for QB1 numbers in Week 5. But discounting the Giants is a terrible mistake. Fresh off a thrashing of Kirk Cousins and Washington, DBs Prince Amukamura and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie enter this week with heads held high. On the year, the tandem has routinely dominated the opposition. Combined they've surrendered a 51.4 QB rating and 47.7 catch percentage. The duo ranks second only to Denver's Chris Harris and Aqib Talib in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. Ryan has found pay-dirt at least three times in three of four games, but I'm not betting he takes a bite out of the Big Apple.
Fearless Forecast: 23-38, 270 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 3 rushing yards, 19.7 fantasy points
Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RB (83-percent started)
Matchup: at Was
Every year only a select group of commodities are tabbed "matchup proof" by the fantasy community. Usually, they're defined as high-volume players in ideal situations who've performed unfailingly over an extended period of time. Lynch, to most, is one such commodity. Though the tag applies in many ways, no player is 100 percent foolproof. Disastrous performances afflict everyone. Even when LaDainian Tomlinson established the new NFL record for touchdowns in a season by a RB (2006), he didn't cross the 10 fantasy point threshold twice in 16 games. Again, no mortal is immune. Since 2012, Lynch has achieved "Flame" status 71.5 percent of the time, making him a true consistency king. However, this week his crown will be tarnished. Washington, one of the more bendable rush Ds in the land last year, has righted the ship between the hashmarks. Due to the stellar play of Brian Orakpo and others, rushers have compiled a mere 3.24 yards per carry and 77 rushing yards per game against it. Equally impressive, only one RB has recorded a 20-plus yard run on the 'Skins. Lynch will get his customary 18-22 carry load, but "Least" Mode makes a guest appearance.
Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 77 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 10.4 fantasy points
Jamaal Charles, KC, RB (93-percent started)
Matchup: at SF
Fantasy's divine child returned in spectacular fashion Monday. Against the wayward Pats, he totaled 108 yards and logged a TD hat-trick in a humiliating victory. Outside of cramps, he emerged from the game relatively unscathed. But this week brings a much stiffer test. The Niners, still huffing and puffing from their slow start, remain a hungry team despite upending Philly last week. Defensively, they're not the impregnable castle they've been the past couple of seasons. Aldon Smith's absence has certainly taken a toll. Still, they're hardly the Jags of the Left Coast, especially when sniffing out the run. Thus far, they've yielded 3.44 yards per carry and the second-fewest fantasy points to RBs. More specifically, Patrick Willis and friends have done a marvelous job collapsing on versatile running backs. DeMarco Murray, Andre Ellington, Matt Forte and Darren Sproles were all held to 25 receiving yards or less. Because of his blazing jets, Charles is always one missed assignment away from a house call. However, on the road, facing an inflexible opponent and likely to cede 8-10 touches to Knile Davis, he is prime "Lame" material. BLASPHEMY?! I think not.
Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 61 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.7 fantasy points
Emmanuel Sanders, Den, WR (65-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Ari
With Demaryius Thomas slumping, Sanders stepped to the forefront over the first four weeks, developing a seemingly unbreakable bond with Mr. Papa John's. Though he didn't find the end-zone, his 25 catches for 334 yards placed him inside the top-six in PPR settings. Just as dazzling under the hood, he ranks inside the top-12 in WR rating, yards per route run and deep-ball catch percentage according to Pro Football Focus. However, with Wes Welker back in the mix, Julius Thomas expected to take on a larger role and Demaryius, who's dealt with a nagging foot injury, presumably at or near 100 percent, his glorious start could morph into an uneven ending. Arizona's unblemished record can be largely attributed to its defense. Its frontline has received the most praise, but its backfield also deserves credit. DBs Jerraud Powers, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie have given up a combined 11.21 yards per catch. Cromartie has also surrendered a 47.9 QB rating and 40.0 catch percentage to his assignments. Off consecutive 100-yard efforts, Sanders regresses to the mean.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 10.3 fantasy points
DeSean Jackson, Was, WR (51-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Sea
Imagine rolling around in cow manure then attempting to swat off pesky flies for hours on end. That's what it must feel like for a wide receiver against Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Though "exposed" a bit by Philip Rivers and San Diego a couple weeks back, the menacing 'Hawks have again been up to their fantasy-reducing ways. On the year, Sherman and Thomas have surrendered a 52.3 QB rating and 40.0 percent catch rate to assignments. Overall, Seattle's secondary has given up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Jackson is arguably one of the best downfield weapons in the game, but still limited somewhat by a shoulder injury and with uncertainty over Kirk Cousins growing, he's a highly suspect play. Keep in mind 56.1 percent of completed passes Seattle has allowed have gone for gains of 10 yards or less. Odds of even a marginal fantasy day are not in D-Jax's favor.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.2 fantasy points
Reader Record: 19-9, 67.8%