Fantasy owners expecting Andrew Luck to play with a shoulder injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars were dealt a blow Sunday morning, when news broke that the Colts quarterback would reportedly miss Week 4.
It would be the first time in Luck's career he has missed a game. Whether you are now scrambling for a last-minute sub at QB, wondeirng how the receivers will do with Matt Hasselbeck throwing passes for the Colts or hoping for an uptick in carries for Frank Gore, we have you covered.
Some possible Week 4 QB streamers: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Blake Bortles, Josh McCown. I assume Carr types are long, long gone.— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) October 4, 2015
I moved Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton into the mid-20s at receiver. Matt Hasselbeck doesn't crush them, but have to be realistic.— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) October 4, 2015
I'm leaving the Frank Gore expectations alone, steady RB2. Loss of offensive efficiency likely offset by a few extra touches.— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) October 4, 2015
Lance McCullers, SP, at Ari (Ray), $44: He’s pitched better at home this season, although McCullers does own a 9.1 K/9 mark on the road. He gets to face a National League lineup (albeit in a strong hitter’s park) in what amounts to a must-win game for the Astros.
Garrett Richards, SP, at Tex (Hamels), $40: He’s allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts (and just four in the other), has a solid K rate and will be pitching for an Angels team with their season on the line. Richards is modestly priced, as there are 11 more expensive pitchers on Sunday’s slate.
Miguel Montero, C, at Mil (Lopez), $12: He has 12 homers in fewer than 300 at bats versus righties this season.
Justin Bour, 1B, at Phi (Buchanan), $14: He’s slugging .521 with 23 home runs over 332 at bats when facing righties this season yet remains cheap here.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, at Pit (Happ), $14: He owns a .412/.476/.1.059 line over 17 career at bats against J.A. Happ.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, at SF (Cain), $20: He’s finishing up a fantastic season in which he leads the National League in home runs and major league baseball in RBI. Arenado somehow has hit six homers over eight games at AT&T Park this season. The Giants as a team have totaled 53 over 80 games played there.
Carlos Correa, SS, at Ari (Ray), $19: He sports a .909 OPS against southpaws and will benefit from an extreme hitter’s park. Correa should be a lock to be in Sunday’s lineup with Houston trying to fight off the Angels for the final playoff spot.
Jarrett Parker, OF, vs. Col (Bergman), $11: The rookie has the platoon advantage and is dirt cheap.
Gerardo Parra, OF, vs. NYY (Pineda), $11: Another inexpensive outfield option, Parra is hitting .302 against righties while slugging .494 at home this season.
Corey Dickerson, OF, at SF (Cain), $13: He’s finishing up a highly disappointing year thanks to injuries, but he remains plenty productive against RHP, as he’s slashed .323/.351/.596 against them. Meanwhile, Matt Cain has struggled badly against LHB this season, serving up six homers over 24.0 innings with a .330 BAA and 1.83 WHIP.
Five picks against the number every week, that’s how we roll. All selections use the Yahoo Pick’em Spread. The Dallas-New Orleans game is ruled off the board for our purposes.
Play along, share your five best picks in the comments. (If you need your results from Week 3, click here.)
Browns +7.5 at Chargers: It’s nice to have the hook, of course, and the defenses appear close to even. The Chargers have the big edge at quarterback, but some of that is mitigated by the significant injuries on the San Diego offensive line. Just hoping Josh McCown doesn’t give the game away.
Bears +2.5 vs. Raiders: Okay, Oakland finally got the monkey off its back and won on the road, in the Eastern Time zone. Are the Raiders ready to be a favorite on the road? It’s still an early body clock game for Oakland, and the Bears can’t be as bad as they’ve looked the last two weeks. The line has adjusted, take the value.
Giants +6 at Bills: It sounds like a lot of points to spot when you’re not sure you have the better quarterback. Let's try to keep our feet on the ground with the Bills - perhaps their two wins (Miami, Indy) came over a couple of overrated teams.
Seahawks -9.5 vs. Lions: I have zero faith in Jim Caldwell, Joe Lombardi or Matthew Stafford. And Seattle holds one of the last significant home-field advantages in the league. After this game, we’ll all be sick of watching Detroit in prime time.
Cardinals -6.5 vs. Rams: Okay, Arizona hasn’t beaten a good team yet. Is St. Louis a good team? Can you imagine Nick Foles playing well in this stadium, or against this defense?
Last Week: 3-2
Fantasy Versus Reality
This year, two of my esteemed Yahoo colleagues are sharing their own selections, using the Yahoo Pick’em spread. Play along in the comments. Just remember, the Dallas-New Orleans game is off the board for our reasonable purposes.
Frank Schwab (2-3 last week, 8-7 season)
Eric Edholm (4-1 last week, 11-4 season)
And if you want to beat my score, you're invited to jump in over here (free to play).
John Lackey ($52, -137) has to be one of my picks, at Atlanta. Apparently Shelby Miller was born under a bad sign or something.
Justin Verlander’s ten-start comeback is fueled by some batted-ball luck: a 2.05 ERA isn’t supported by a .243 BABIP, or a modest 64 strikeouts against 19 walks. But he’s still a -123 favorite despite the road assignment, and the White Sox are just 25th in weighted on-base average against right-handed pitching. Welcome back, JV.
Chris Carter ($15) didn’t get a big piece of Friday’s onslaught, but he is on a 10-game binge (1.077 OPS, six homers) and you figure he’ll make contact against Jeremy Hellickson.
Who is Steve Clevinger and what’s he doing with a .794 OPS? Okay, a tiny sample, but he’s just $7 and in the platoon advantage against Luis Severino. Catcher is a good position to punt.
It will be interesting to see what kind of relievers the Red Sox offer up after Craig Breslow picks up the start. I’ll take some Cleveland shares as a result, dialing up Jason Kipnis (despite the platoon disadvantage to start) and Francisco Lindor.
Has Manny Machado ($18) played his way into 2016’s first round? He’s been an on-base and category juice monster, and I want to start him one more time.
It’s another outfield on a budget after spending liberally on the other spots. Dustin Ackley ($9) is batting second and in the platoon edge; Rusney Castillo ($9) has been a player in the second half, and Tyler Collins ($9) has been producing on the road, for some reason (.935 OPS).
There's byes and a showdown in London to consider this weekend. To help your Week 4 cause (full season or daily), here's a few players I expect to look better/worse than usual on Sunday.
QB - Derek Carr, Oak at Chi ($37 in DFS) - Carr currently holds the 13th-highest starting percentage among QBs in Yahoo leagues this week. I like him much more than that. He's averaged 332.5 passing yards and has thrown 5 TD passes (with just 1 INT) in his past two games. And this week he faces a Bears defense that has allowed the highest QB Rating (123.8) and the second-most TD passes (8) in the league. As a rookie, Carr didn't have much to work with. But that's changed this season. He's got a legit go-to wideout in Amari Cooper, better secondary options in Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts (who I actually like more than Crabtree) and there's reason for the defense to pay attention to what's going on in the backfield with the game-breaking threat of Latavius Murray. Armed now with playmakers, I see Carr as a top 7 QB play this week.
RB - Karlos Williams, Buf vs NYG ($15) - In DFS leagues, you really can't pass on the value of Williams this week. In a predominantly backup role, Williams has still managed to score in three straight games, and he turned 12 carries into 110 rushing yards last week. He's leading the league in Yards Per Carry (7.8) and, with LeSean McCoy doubtful for Sunday (hammy), he's now leading the Bills backfield. The matchup is not ideal (the Giants have allowed just 3.4 YPC this season), but volume and goal line usage makes a 80-100 yard, TD performance very possible.
RB - Lance Dunbar, Dal at NO ($13) - Last week, with Brandon Weeden making the start behind center, Dallas running backs combined for 31 touches compared to just four touches for wide receivers. It's pretty obvious that the Cowboys plan is to minimize the potential for downfield disaster with Weeden. In that game, Dunbar caught 10 passes for 100 yards, the second time in three games that he has reached 70 receiving yards and eight receptions. Especially in PPR leagues, expect the good times to keep rolling for Dunbar. Six-plus catches and 60-plus receiving yards should be commonplace for Dunbar while Weeden is in there. Even as a Flex play in standard leagues, Dunbar has merit this week against a Saints defense allowing the fourth-most yards from scrimmage per game (397).
WR - Percy Harvin, Buf vs NYG ($19) - Karlos Williams isn't the only Bills player I like this week.
I'm definitely also backing Buffalo breakout star QB Tyrod Taylor. And, going hand-in-hand with that, I like Harvin, who should be the go-to aerial option with Sammy Watkins (calf) sitting out. Harvin has produced as a backend WR2, thus far, and he has a nice thing going on with Taylor (has caught 16 of 18 targets). With an expected elevated role this week against a Giants defense allowing a league-high 335.7 passing yards per game, Harvin could cross over the century mark in yards from scrimmage (always a threat to add some rushing yards to the mix) this week for the first time in '15.
WR - Marvin Jones, Cin vs KC ($15) - Andy Dalton has let Jones join the Bengals offensive scoring party (28.3 PPG) the past couple weeks, connecting with the receiver for a TD in each of the past two contests. Jones has been a pay dirt moneymaker for Dalton, having caught 12 TDs in his past 17 regular-season games. Jones, who is tied for 10th among wideouts in Red Zone targets, has a great shot at a TD in his thrid consecutive game this week, facing a KC defense that has big-time issues in the secondary, allowing 287 passing yards per game and a QB rating north of 100. The Chiefs should be helped by the return of suspended CB Sean Smith, but there's still holes to be exploited on the backend of that Chiefs defense.
TE - Richard Rodgers, GB at SF ($14) - I'm going pretty deep here with a tight end that, outside of a Week 2 TD, has done very little to write home about. But I think that changes this weekend as Green Bay heads to San Francisco without backup tight end Andrew Quarless (MCL). With the depth now razor thin at tight end, I expect Rodgers to see a season-high snap count. And against a 49ers defense allowing 31 points per game, I like Rodgers' potential to make a splash this week in the passing game (especially with receiver Davante Adams also looking doubtful).
QB - Peyton Manning, Den vs MIn ($40) - The elder Manning has certainly looked much better the past couple weeks as Denver has let him run the offense more in the manner of what he's done since he arrived in Denver. But he's still thrown a pick in every game, he's been the fifth-most sacked QB (8) and he's faced, in terms of fantasy points allowed to the QB position, the easiest schedule of all QBs to this point. His ability to flirt with, yet avert, disaster the past couple weeks could diminish this week against a Minnesota defense that, according to ProFootballFocus, grades out as a top 5 unit in both the pass rush and pass coverage. Led by stud safety Harrison Smith, the Vikings have allowed the second-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards. While Manning could be alright in supreme dink-dunk mode this week, I don't see top 12 upside.
RB - DeMarco Murray, Phi at Was ($28) - Returning from a hamstring injury this week, Murray is currently 18th among RBs in start% this week. That's showing a lot of faith in a guy that has 21 carries for 11 yards this season and who has a backup (Ryan Mathews) who ran for 108 yards last week in Murray's absence and also scored a TD through the air. Not only is a playing time a major question for Murray this week (can't forget that Darren Sproles is also likely to get his usual 10 touches), but the matchup is dubious - the Redskins have allowed just 75 yards per game on the ground, a mere yard behind league-leading Buffalo.
RB - Jonathan Stewart, Car at TB ($23) - Stewart's start% this week is among the top 20 at the RB position, but I don't see him as anything more than a desperate flex play. He's banged up (perennially?) with a sore shin, though he practiced Friday, which gives him good odds of playing. But his odds of scoring a TD aren't nearly as good. At the goal line, he's looking like No. 4 on the pecking order in the Carolina offense behind Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Mike Tolbert. So, while the matchup (Tampa Bay has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the RB position) looks juicy, Stewart can't be trusted. He's already faced two subpar run defenses in Jacksonville and New Orleans, and he has yet to score a TD or put up more than 62 yards on the ground.
WR - Mike Evans, TB vs Car ($25) - Tampa Bay rookie QB Jameis Winston ranks 28th among quarterbacks in QB Rating (minimum 45 pass attempts). Carolina CB Josh Norman grades out as the No. 2 corner (according to PFF) in pass coverage, having heavily contributed to limiting No. 1 wideouts DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson and Brandin Cooks to an average of 5 fantasy PPG. Forget about looking for a third strike against Evans - those two are damning enough. This week, I don't see a top 25 receiving line being in the cards for Evans, who averaged 5.5 fantasy points in two contests against the Panthers in '14.
WR - John Brown, Ari vs StL ($22) - Boy, for a guy that has gone over 73 receiving yards just once in his 19-game NFL career, I should be surprised at how much people love Brown (sits at 27th among WRs in start% this week). But, I get it, his big-play skills are tantalizing. Unfortunately he doesn't get a lot of opportunity in the Arizona offense to flash those down-field talents. He currently ranks 37th among WRs in targets (17). He's also only caught one of QB Carson's Palmer's seven red zone scoring tosses (Larry Fitzgerald has dominated that department with five such catches). The deep ball opportunities look especially bad this week for Brown against a relentless St. Louis pass rush. That has helped the Rams limit big plays, as they have allowed the fourth-fewest pass plays of 20-plus yards (7) and have yet to give up a bomb of 40 yards or more.
TE - Jordan Cameron, Mia vs NYJ ($17) - Miami QB Ryan Tannehill ranks second behind Tom Brady in goal line pass attempts (8) this season, but not once has he gone to his towering tight end in those situations. Cameron has yet to score this season and, after topping 60 receiving yards in each of his first two games, he was held to just 16 yards last week as he played through a sore groin. That injury still lingers as he heads to London this week to face a Jets defense that is allowing just 32 yards per game to tight ends and has not yielded a touchdown to the position.
Is 2015 the Year of the Quarterback Injury? Let’s take our first look around the Friday injury landscape.
-- Are the Colts being coy or honest about Andrew Luck? He missed some of Friday’s practice and warning sirens were immediately sounded when the team added journeyman QB Josh Johnson to the roster. But head coach Chuck Pagano says he’s confident Luck will be under center Sunday against Jacksonville. At least it’s a 1 pm ET start.
-- Arian Foster (groin) hasn’t been ruled out for Week 4, though he’s still carrying the questionable tag. Houston also has a quick turnaround for Week 5, a Thursday game, so it might make more sense to wait one or even two more games. Houston is at Atlanta this Sunday. Alfred Blue was surprisingly effective in Week 4.
-- Drew Brees (shoulder) is listed as probable, so it sounds like we'll see him Sunday night against Dallas. That doesn't mean you have to start him, but you can at least consider it.
-- Jonathan Stewart (shin) had a full practice Friday and is tagged probable for the Sunday game against Tampa Bay.
-- LeSean McCoy (hamstring) won’t play in Week 4, and he doesn’t want to get back on the field until he’s 100 percent. Be careful what you wish for, Karlos Williams looks like a monster. Williams will be absurdly owned in most of the DFS world (no matter the respectable Giants rushing defense), and I’ll be right there with the crowd.
-- Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) looks like a game-time decision for the Monday nighter against Detroit. Thomas Rawls and Fred Jackson are the other primary backs here.
-- DeMarco Murray (hamstring) had a “full” practice Friday, for whatever that means. The Eagles basically do a walkthrough on their final day of work. Murray is listed as questionable for the Sunday game at Washington. In positive news, it sounds like the DC weather forecast has improved significantly, so we can move onto other subjects.
-- Although it seems likely Andre Ellington (knee) will play for the Cardinals, the plan is for Chris Johnson to start Week 4 against St. Louis.
-- Melvin Gordon isn’t on the injury report, but you should know the San Diego offensive line is in a state of disrepair, so lanes could have difficult to find against Cleveland.
-- Charles Johnson (ribs) didn’t work Friday and won’t play at Denver. The Minnesota passing game is a mess anyway, with or without Johnson.
-- It’s likely Brian Quick (shoulder) will play at Arizona, not that he’s good enough to start on spec.
-- Sammy Watkins (calf) is out for Week 4's game against the Giants. Percy Harvin and Robert Woods are the theoretical beneficiaries, along with TE Charles Clay.
-- Ladarius Green (post concussion) had a full practice Friday, though he’s still listed as questionable. We’re just a week away from the Antonio Gates return.
-- Vernon Davis (knee) didn’t work Friday and sounds unlikely to run against the Pack.
On this highly-collectable Friday edition, Liz Loza, Dalton Del Don and Scott Pianowski break down the Steelers-Ravens madness, sort through QBs if Andrew Luck can't go on Sunday, and audit backfields in a number of tricky cities (notably Cincinnati and Denver). And we sprinkle in some Karlos Williams love, which is always good for your heart. Come get freaky with us.
Need help filling out your weekly lineup? Wondering who could be a DFS bargain? Our experts will take your questions each Friday during the season.
Final Friday of the season, gamers. Let's make good choices. As always, we encourage you to check the MLB weather reports before finalizing lineups.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, at Mil (Pena), $14: Even during his September slump, he continued to draw walks and his outs were often loud. Schwarber has reached base six times over his last three games, and he's been crushing right-handed pitching pretty much all year (171 AB, .281/.395/.567, 14 HR, 30 BB). Terrific price, great hitter, favorable matchup. I'm in.
Prince Fielder, 1B, vs. LAA (Weaver), $16: Texas is playing for a division title here, with only Weaver standing in the way. Fielder is 12-for-28 with three walks over his last seven games, so he's a red-hot hitter facing a soft-tossing right-hander. Prince is hitting an insane .346/.418/.513 against righties this year with 41 walks and 31 XBHs. Not such a bad price, considering the quality of the player and the matchup.
Dallas Keuchel, SP, at Ari (De La Rosa), $50: We have a few aces on the mound on Friday — Arrieta, Sale, Liriano, Syndergaard — and Keuchel is actually the least expensive. Clearly, the Astros have a lot on the line in this one, so you shouldn't be too concerned about an early exit for Keuchel.
Jason Castro, C, at Ari (De La Rosa), $11: This will serve as your weekly reminder that Rubby De La Rosa has been hammered by LHBs this year: .311/.373/.564, 31 doubles, 20 HR, 34 BB. Castro has enjoyed his few chances to face De La Rosa, homering once and drawing two walks over five plate appearances.
Andres Blanco, SS, vs. Mia (Nicolino), $10: Blanco is dirt-cheap on Friday, plus he has six hits over his last 12 at-bats, with a pair of bombs included. He's really hit well against LHPs this season, slashing .350/.409/.563.
You'll need a few $10-$12 bats if, like me, you're going to spend over half your budget on pitching...
It’s another TGIF edition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains! For the past two weeks in a row I’ve hit on three of my five picks, tapping Charles Clay, Lance Dunbar, and Rishard Matthews in Week 3. This go around I’ve got one QB and a bunch of receivers for your consideration.
Parameters for this go around… all of the below players are owned in less than fifty percent of Yahoo leagues (one of them is completely un-owned). They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders ($37)
The Raiders are currently one game behind the Broncos. Yes, this is real life. While there’s plenty of football ahead of us, it’s worth noting that Oakland’s sophomore signal caller has passed for over 300 yards in back-to-back outings. He’s also scored five touchdowns and only turned the ball over once. A QB1 fantasy play for two weeks in a row, Carr heads into Week 4 with plenty of momentum and a dynamite matchup.
Even before the Bears’ mid-week fire sale, it was clear this team might punt on the season (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Transitioning to a 3-4 scheme under new DC Vic Fangio, Chicago’s defense looks a sad combination of befuddled and wiped. The Bears secondary has given up the second most scores (8) so far this season to three teams whose offenses are all calling a below league average number of passing plays.
Given that rookie stud receiver Amari Cooper has toasted top CBs like Jimmy Smith and Joe Haden, it’s not hard to imagine him clowning Alan Ball. That, of course, helps Carr and buoys the entire receiving corps. A prime streaming option for desperate Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger or Andrew Luck owners, Carr is a solid play in Week 4. Just don’t buy in too much, as he’ll turn around to host Denver’s elite D the following week.
Eddie Royal, WR, Chicago Bears ($19)
Part of the reason Derek Carr and Oakland’s passing game have been so prolific is because, like the Bears, they too have a rather inefficient defense. While Charles Woodson – arguably Oakland’s top DB - was the hero of last week’s tilt in Cleveland, he’s still a 38-year-old safety with a sore shoulder. Obviously, the Raiders’ weaknesses in the secondary bode well for TE Martellus Bennett, but I think they’ll also benefit Royal.
Last week I mistakenly thought the Browns’ Andrew Hawkins would be the sneaky play facing Oakland’s sub-par secondary. I was wrong. It was actually Brian Hartline, who grabbed five balls for nearly 100 yards and finished with WR2 numbers in PPR formats.
I think that production is going to transfer over to Royal in Week 4, especially if, as expected, Alshon Jefferey returns. With defenses able to key in on the larger playmaker, Royal should be able to use his speed to command the slot. Of course, much of this is reliant upon Jimmy Clausen actually throwing the ball, but considering the fact that Oakland has given up the third most receiving yards so far this season it’s far from improbable.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons ($16)
Roddy White is listed as the Falcons No. 2 receiver and has played more snaps than any other wideout on the team. But the vet hasn’t caught a ball since Week 1. He wasn’t even targeted by Matt Ryan in Week 3. Instead, it’s Leonard Hankerson who has been playing second fiddle to uber stud Julio Jones.
Reuniting with former OC Kyle Shanahan, Hankerson has accumulated 11 grabs for 183 yards and 1 TD through the first three weeks of the season. Unfortunately, he’s had an issue holding on to the ball, leading the league in drops. While that’s far from awesome, the fact that he continues to see opportunities and outplay White cannot be denied.
At 6-foot-two inches and 211 pounds, HankTime is a largely built slot man. While hosting the Texans this Sunday, he’s likely to see a lot of CB Kareem Jackson. Well under six feet tall and only 188 pounds, Jackson has received consistently negative coverage grades from Pro Football Focus.
With TE Jacob Tamme concussed, and White fading, Hankerson has a chance to produce against a beatable Texans secondary who will have their hands full trying to contain Julio Jones. He should be owned in all formats and could prove to be a matchup dependent value play once bye weeks really ramp up.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Green Bay Packers ($10)
When Davante Adams aggravated an ankle injury this past Monday, it was Montgomery who came in and sparked the offense, scoring the Packers first TD of the evening. The rookie only caught one more ball throughout the contest’s four quarters, but it is interesting that he was next in line behind Adams. Admittedly his sample size is small, but he has been the most efficient of Green Bay’s receivers, catching every pass thrown his way for a 6-51-1 stat line.
Rumored to have Rodgers’ favor, Montgomery could be in line for some real playing time with Adams currently in a walking boot. This weekend the Packers will travel to San Francisco to take on a 49ers defense that is giving up the fifth most fantasy points to the position. With Rodgers playing lights out and throwing 10 TDs (the most of any QB) so far this season, it’s safe to start nearly all of your Packers. Given that Montgomery is expected to handle the No. 3 receiver duties, and taking into account his additional talents on special teams, this former running back could easily put up WR3 numbers in Week 4.
Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets ($10)
A rookie out of Nebraska, Enunwa is a big and strong receiver with lots of physicality and hustle. He was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round and - previous to Week 3 - had been seeing 27-29 snaps per game. This past weekend, when both Eric Decker and Chris Owusu were ruled out due to their respective injuries, however, Enunwa’s snaps nearly doubled.
With both the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers sidelined, Jeremy Kerely was given a larger role, despite totaling just two play counts over the previous two weeks. In the Jets’ Week 3 tilt versus Philly, he was the team’s second most productive receiver, catching six of eleven balls for 33 yards and a score. While Kerely got the TD, it’s worth nothing that Enunwa drew one less target, grabbed one less ball, and racked up 17 more yards than the vet.
Heading into Week 4 neither Decker nor Owusu are expected to suit up. That means more potential opportunities for either Kerley and/or Enunwa. Personally, I’d favor Enunwa’s chances to produce as he has the enthusiasm of the current coaching regime and oodles more playmaking ability. Admittedly, his hands are far from sure, and he’s had a slew of mind numbing drops, but he’s also made some plays that would turn even the most grizzled veteran receivers green with envy.
Additionally, the matchup for the Jets receivers this Sunday is a good one. They’ll be playing a disappointing Dolphins squad that has only recorded one sack so far this season… and even let Chris Hogan sneak into the end zone last week. Enunwa is absolutely a boom or bust play. But booms are more likely to occur when talent and opportunity meet. This is just that for the young receiver.
As we head into the teeth of Fantasy Hockey Draft Season, it's a good time to make sure we're all on the same page. What, you have some different ideas on your ranks? That's lovely. That's why we have a game. (Feel extra confident this year? We have Hockey Pro Leagues ready to go, and we'll offer NHL DFS as well.)
If you want to copy off my sheet, here you go, consider the Top 100 below. Welcome back to the ice. (If you need to go deeper, all of my NHL ranks are at Fantasy Pros.)
1. Alex Ovechkin LW/RW, (WSH)
No signs of slowing down, covers both wings as well.
2. Sidney Crosby C, (PIT)
Would like to see more shots and goals, but man, Pittsburgh is loaded.
3. Steven Stamkos C, (TB)
Probably will pick up LW tag during the season.
4. John Tavares C, (NYI)
Arrow still pointed up; no sleep til' Brooklyn.
5. Tyler Seguin C/RW, (DAL)
He's going to score 50 goals someday, could be 2015-16.
6. Carey Price G, (MTL)
Even if 2014-15 is the outlier, last two years collectively justify this tag.
7. Jamie Benn LW, (DAL)
Might have hit his peak but it's a nice neighborhood; durable, consistent.
8. Claude Giroux C/RW, (PHI)
Philly PP the last four years: third, seventh, third, sixth.
9. Evgeni Malkin C/RW, (PIT)
If he plays more than 70 games, consider yourself lucky.
10. Phil Kessel RW, (PIT)
A change of scenery at the perfect time.
11. Corey Perry RW, (ANA)
Not as rambunctious as he used to be, but still fills all categories, including PIMs.
12. Henrik Lundqvist G, (NYR)
Would be a star anywhere, but you're reassured by ridiculous defense helping him.
13. Vladimir Tarasenko RW, (STL)
Undeniable scoring stud, but system holds him back a speck.
14. Patrick Kane C/RW, (CHI)
Ranking assumes he plays close to a full season.
15. Joe Pavelski C/LW, (SJ)
Hasn't missed a game in four years, and does something most every night.
16. Erik Karlsson D, (OTT)
Early blueliner feels like vanity purchase; I usually stick with forwards.
17. Jakub Voracek RW, (PHI)
PIM spike was appreciated, even if we'd like a few more goals.
18. Rick Nash LW/RW, (NYR)
Can't expect 42 goals again, but 30-35 with diverse stats worth paying up for.
19. P.K. Subban D, (MTL)
As good as any blueliner, if you don't mind taking one in Round 2.
20. Ryan Getzlaf C, (ANA)
More physical than you might realize, and you can bank on the plus-minus, too.
21. Jonathan Quick G, (LA)
Would like to see save percentage nudge forward, but he's incapable of a bad season.
22. Jonathan Toews C, (CHI)
Well-rounded game makes him more valuable to Hawks than to us.
23. Logan Couture C/LW, (SJ)
I'll bet on a mild gain in shooting percentage, like a BABIP spike in baseball.
24. Pekka Rinne G, (NSH)
Team wants to use him for 60-65 starts, which we'll enjoy.
25. Anze Kopitar C, (LA)
Better real-life player than roto, but still a solid third-rounder.
26. Zach Parise LW, (MIN)
Needs to be sharper on special teams, but still a solid investment.
27. Ben Bishop G, (TB)
Healing up nicely, while Andrei Vasilevskiy starts off hurt.
28. Braden Holtby G, (WSH)
Don't want to overpay for spike, but supporting cast is strong and he's always had good save percentages.
29. Tuukka Rask G, (BOS)
Zdeno Chara is in decline and overall blueline depth not as solid as usual.
30. Devan Dubnyk G, (MIN)
Became a star in the system, but I'll pay up for most of it.
31. Marc-Andre Fleury G, (PIT)
Shutout spike a fluke, but he's a workhorse on a sure winning team.
32. Kevin Shattenkirk D, (STL)
Was making a Norris Trophy run before the injury.
33. Ryan Johansen C/RW, (CBJ)
Key cog in league's No. 5 power play.
34. Nathan MacKinnon C/RW, (COL)
Third line? If PP time sticks, no big deal.
35. Henrik Zetterberg C/LW, (DET)
Another case of paying for 70 games, nothing more.
36. Max Pacioretty LW, (MTL)
Could be some early rust, but sounds like he'll go in opener.
37. Mark Giordano D, (CGY)
Playing liberal minutes in preseason, should be at full throttle.
38. Dustin Byfuglien D/RW, (WPG)
The more categories your league uses, the better he looks.
39. Tyler Johnson C, (TB)
Wrist rounding into form, and top two lines look super here.
40. Brent Burns D/RW, (SJ)
After terrific NHL season, was named top D at World Hockey Championships.
41. Connor McDavid C, (EDM)
Seems ready to star right away, and Edmonton has others who can score.
42. Nick Foligno C/LW, (CBJ)
Shooting percentage a likely dip, but new captain is solid across the board.
43. Taylor Hall C/LW, (EDM)
Was more assertive in Year 5 and surely team will be improved.
44. James Van Riemsdyk LW, (TOR)
With Mike Babcock around, there's not as much plus-minus risk here.
45. Corey Crawford G, (CHI)
Shutout total is always shockingly low, but can't fail with the depth in Chicago.
46. Gabriel Landeskog LW, (COL)
Not giving up on all the Colorado optimism we held a year ago.
47. Nikita Kucherov RW, (TB)
Wasn't great in second half or in Finals, but too many things pointing upward.
48. Duncan Keith D, (CHI)
Mild dip in regular season, but was Superman during Cup run.
49. Alex Pietrangelo D, (STL)
Part of the PP solution here, but not force-fed major time.
50. Shea Weber D, (NSH)
All systems go after knee surgery.
The Second Fifty
51. David Backes C/RW, (STL)
52. Cory Schneider G, (NJ)
53. Nicklas Backstrom C, (WSH)
54. Victor Hedman D, (TB)
55. Blake Wheeler RW, (WPG)
56. Drew Doughty D, (LA)
57. Keith Yandle D, (NYR)
58. Kris Letang D, (PIT)
59. Alexander Steen C/LW, (STL)
60. Sergei Bobrovsky G, (CBJ)
61. Roman Josi D, (NSH)
62. Roberto Luongo G, (FLA)
63. Filip Forsberg C/RW, (NSH)
64. Daniel Sedin LW, (VAN)
65. Andrew Ladd LW, (WPG)
66. John Carlson D, (WSH)
67. Patrice Bergeron C, (BOS)
68. Jaroslav Halak G, (NYI)
69. Johnny Gaudreau LW, (CGY)
70. Kyle Turris C, (OTT)
71. James Neal LW/RW, (NSH)
72. Henrik Sedin C, (VAN)
73. Semyon Varlamov G, (COL)
74. Pavel Datsyuk C/LW, (DET)
75. Matt Duchene C/LW, (COL)
76. Ryan Miller G, (VAN)
77. Tomas Tatar LW/RW, (DET)
78. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C, (EDM)
79. Patrick Marleau C/LW, (SJ)
80. Steve Mason G, (PHI)
81. T.J. Oshie C/RW, (WSH)
82. Oliver Ekman-Larsson D, (ARI)
83. Tyson Barrie D, (COL)
84. Patrick Sharp C/LW, (DAL)
85. Chris Kreider LW, (NYR)
86. Sean Monahan C, (CGY)
87. Jonas Hiller G, (CGY)
88. Ryan McDonagh D, (NYR)
89. Aaron Ekblad D, (FLA)
90. Bryan Little C/RW, (WPG)
91. Jiri Hudler C/LW/RW, (CGY)
92. Eric Staal C, (CAR)
93. Evander Kane LW, (BUF)
94. Wayne Simmonds LW/RW, (PHI)
95. Kyle Okposo RW, (NYI)
96. Brandon Saad LW/RW, (CBJ)
97. Jordan Eberle RW, (EDM)
98. Jason Spezza C, (DAL)
99. Brian Elliott G, (STL)
100. Marian Hossa RW, (CHI)
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Okay, here are the Shuffle Up rules.
We are talking rest-of-season value. Everything to this point is an audition. If you want leaders to this point, you’ll find them elsewhere. If you want Week 4 rankings, click over here.
Today, we do receivers, and only receivers. Next week, new position. Eventually I will start batching them in groups of two (probably backs with the tight ends, and quarterbacks with the wideouts.)
You’ll disagree with stuff because that’s why we have a game. Try to stay grounded and rational with your players, it’s one of the most important skills in your fantasy toolbox.
The prices are unscientific and just a way to compare the players. When players are at the same price, it means they are considered even. I do not compare prices with other shuffles, and I do every shuffle from scratch.
Assume a half-point PPR scoring format. I will comment on many (perhaps most) players, but I do not promise a comment on everyone.
If you have a constructive piece of criticism, I’ll consider it. See something out of place? Offer some reasoning. I may alter the list between initial post and the end of Thursday.
And lastly, I will not price long-term injury players. I’m generally the low man on that sort of optimism parade. If you think Dez Bryant comes back before the rest of the world thinks he will, go get him. All you.
And now we shuffle, shufflers.
$32 Julio Jones: Yeah, that Kyle Shanahan hire kind of worked out
$31 Demaryius Thomas: Skinny passing tree is lovely – it's all Thomas and Sanders.
$30 Odell Beckham
$29 Randall Cobb: Even when you know what's coming, so hard to stop it.
$28 Antonio Brown: Thursday might be a mess but I don't expect Vick to ruin him long-term.
$27 A.J. Green
$26 Emmanuel Sanders: A good reminder of how August quotes get you in trouble.
$25 DeAndre Hopkins: Producing despite lousy QB play, which shows how special he is.
$23 Brandon Marshall
$22 Calvin Johnson: Showing the mileage and Stafford is hard to trust (OC Lombardi too).
$22 Julian Edelman: Unstoppable at what he does, but doesn't have a major touchdown upside.
$21 Amari Cooper: Derek Carr's last two weeks make it easier to trust Cooper (and vice-versa).
$21 Larry Fitzgerald: It's come against easy opponents, but come on, he looks terrific.
$20 Mike Evans: Getting back up to speed and they'll force him the ball more often than not.
$20 T.Y. Hilton
$18 Keenan Allen: Lacking good explanation for 2014, but two strong weeks earn credibility.
$18 Alshon Jeffery
$17 Jordan Matthews: The one Philly player I'm not worried about.
$16 Jeremy Maclin: It all came in garbage time Monday night, but he still looked good doing it.
$15 Jarvis Landry: Hard to see a bunch of touchdowns, but a lovely floor guy in PPR.
$14 Donte Moncrief: I'd have him much higher if I trusted Pep Hamilton.
$14 Steve Smith Sr.: Obviously he'll regress, but only viable target they have right now.
$14 Golden Tate
$13 Brandin Cooks: All of the Saints are now in “show me” mode (other than Ingram, I suppose).
$13 James Jones: Might be a good sell-high; TD rate can't continue and it's a deep offense.
$13 Eric Decker
$13 Allen Robinson
$11 Sammy Watkins: Dinged up, offense isn't about him.
$11 Kendall Wright: He's always been quietly-underrated guy, though tree could get crowded.
$11 Rishard Matthews: Looks like a player, but hard to trust the people he works with.
$11 Stevie Johnson: Has trust of Rivers; don't hold SF time against him.
$10 John Brown: I've cut my expectations, but I'm not slashing them.
$10 Martavis Bryant
$10 DeSean Jackson
$9 Michael Crabtree: Quietly getting plenty of volume, though schedule gets tricky after Week 4.
$9 Marvin Jones: Not a special player, but a very solid one, could grow into WR3 value.
$9 Terrance Williams
$8 Vincent Jackson: Originally overpriced, thanks Stopa Law Firm.
$8 Kenny Britt
$7 Allen Hurns: Awful hands, but he sure gets open a lot.
$7 Mike Wallace: I want to burn everything I wrote about Teddy Bridgewater this summer.
$7 Percy Harvin: Will have a handful of splashy games; impossible to say when.
$7 Travis Benjamin: Game-breaking speed, should have high target floor.
$7 Torrey Smith: Can we just give him back to the Ravens?
$6 Ty Montgomery: Gets a chance to mark territory with Adams hurt; probably more gifted, too.
$6 Doug Baldwin: He's a solid WR4, never better, never worse.
$6 Anquan Boldin: I love him like a son, but zero confidence in Kaepernick.
$6 Nelson Agholor: Look out for getting-it week; Matthews had it mid-2014.
$6 Rueben Randle: Runs around like the boundaries don't exist; horrible technical receiver.
$6 Michael Floyd
$5 Marques Colston: Fred G. Sanford.
$5 DeVante Parker: Hate stories that develop slowly, but no one disputes the upside.
$5 Leonard Hankerson: Leaves plays on the field most weeks, but has more upside than White.
$5 Charles Johnson: Teddy B, breaking my heart. Norv Turner, too.
$5 Davante Adams: What you paid for him is irrelevant; live in the now.
$5 Dorial Green-Beckham
$5 Pierre Garcon
$5 Kamar Aiken
$5 Tavon Austin: I wouldn’t say he’s unlocked, but making the occasional play.
$4 Roddy White: Even if he rebounds, it's just to WR 3-4 level.
$4 Willie Snead: Nothing special about him, but he's carved out some kind of role.
$4 Brandon Coleman: Summer hero, September zero.
$4 Malcom Floyd: A fun best-ball depth player, but almost unplayable in standard formats.
$4 Eddie Royal: I’m not completely cashing out; Bears can’t be quite this bad, right?
$3 Cecil Shorts: Roman numerals extra.
$3 Cole Beasley
$3 Ted Ginn
$2 Danny Amendola: Hard to believe Pats spent for Amendola, didn't understand Edelman.
$2 Andre Johnson: I have zero problem dropping him.
$2 Devin Funchess: I thought maybe they'd fast-track him but they're winning without him.
$2 Tyler Lockett: Was hoping he'd play a little more on offense.
$2 Andre Holmes
$2 Seth Roberts
$2 Nate Washington
$2 Brian Hartline
$2 Robert Woods
$2 Aaron Dobson
$1 Victor Cruz: I don't wait around for this type of player to get healthy.
$1 Philly Brown: Maybe he needs another name change.
$1 Harry Douglas
$1 Andrew Hawkins
$1 Devin Smith
$1 Jordan Norwood
$1 Marquess Wilson
$1 Devin Street: Salfino has never seen Top Gun!
$1 Jermaine Kearse
$1 Darrius Heyward-Bey
$1 Mohamed Sanu
$0 Markus Wheaton: Another summer puff piece unmasked.
$0 Marqise Lee: Man, I loved him at USC.
$0 Louis Murphy
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 the upcoming season.
Yahoo DFS Bargain Bin. What cheaply priced RB/WR/TE will turn the biggest profit in Week 4?
Brad – MARVIN JONES ($15). Have you seen the Kansas City secondary? A one-legged Hakeem Nicks could inflict damage against this unit. Jones is toeing the WR2 line in 12-team leagues, finding the end zone twice in three games. With A.J. Green drawing so much attention, he'll tack onto that total with roughly 70-80 yards.
Andy – KARLOS WILLIAMS at $15, and this one should be unanimous. He's looking at potentially a full workload against the Giants, and the man has made plenty of noise in simply a rotational role. He's found the end-zone every week, running as a supporting player in Buffalo. Give him 20-plus carries and he'll give us a top-five week.
Scott – This should be like Match Game where everyone says the same answer: KARLOS WILLIAMS ($15). he's Buffalo's best back, and Shady McCoy is probably out of the way in Week 4. The tape jumps out, the stats scream out, the Taylor Effect is real. I wish I wasn't bageled on seasonal shares, but that's my problem, not yours.
Liz – JOHN BROWN ($22). For the past two weeks Larry Fitzgerald has dominated the Cardinals’ receiving corps. And while the stats show Brown to be a distant second in terms of targets and production, what they don’t illustrate are Brown’s red zone opportunities. In back to back plays versus the 49ers last Sunday, Palmer looked to Brown for six, but the two didn’t connect. He has a plus matchup this week against a St. Louis secondary that gifted him with a 48 yard score last season.
Brandon – KARLOS WILLIAMS ($15) is a no-brainer, as he was priced as if LeSean McCoy was going to play, which is now highly doubtful. He's averaging 7.8 yards per carry and, even in a backup role, he's managed to score in three straight. He could end up with 100-plus yards and a TD, similar to what he posted last week.
Dalton – KARLOS WILLIAMS ($15) is the easy pick here. He's the only RB to score in all three games this season and has looked dominant while doing so. He should now get the Buffalo backfield all to himself in Week 4, and I have him as my No. 6 ranked RB as a result, which makes this price absurd. His ownership should be close to 100% this week.
Conversely, what player, at any position, are you fading hard in Week 4?
Andy – I've gotta go CALVIN JOHNSON at $28. I'm not about to write him off, mind you. He's an all-time receiver, a bad dude. But he's facing another brutal matchup this week (at SEA), so I'd be willing to bench him for, say, a Moncrief-type.
Dalton – MARSHAWN LYNCH ($33). He's the third most expensive back, and he might not even play. The worst part is we won't even know his status until Monday, giving no leeway, so this is a huge gamble. There's also a real chance Lynch suits up but aggravates either his calf or hamstring injury or plays but is far less than full strength. There's no need for Seattle to give their franchise back a bunch of touches in a game they should be able to win otherwise as well. Lynch is far too risky to pay this price.
Scott – We're allowed to pick uninjured players, right? Well, JONATHAN STEWART was put on this fantasy football Earth to make you unhappy. How do you average 3.5 yards a carry when tied to a winning script and a mobile quarterback? I demand a reboot on the entire DeAngelo Williams career. (Oh, cute, Stewart is hurt too. Lovely.)
Liz – LAMAR MILLER ($27). A bum ankle + a tough matchup + Jonas Gray – Branden Albert = No Thanks.
Brandon – PEYTON MANNING ($40). No way I'd use $40 of my budget on the old man. He's the Molly Hatchett of fantasy QBs, "flirting with disaster" seemingly every week. This week he's facing a Minnesota defense that grades out (according to ProFootballFocus) as top 5 at both rushing the passer and defending the pass. I don't think Manning returns top 12 QB value this week.
Brad – CALVIN JOHNSON ($28). Matthew Stafford is A) Not healthy, B) Country Jay Cutler. The high-priced QB has looked terrible. On the road in Seattle it's highly unlikely Detroit rediscovers its mojo on offense. Look for Calvin to channel Julian Edelman yet again -- short catch after short catch. He'll likely accumulate roughly 6-8 receptions, but the modest projected yardage total doesn't warrant the exorbitant price.
Andrew Luck, who has slumbered through three weeks, passing touchdowns in a favorable home matchup against Jacksonville 2.5.
Dalton – UNDER. I expect the Colts to get back on track and roll Sunday, but it's tough projecting three TD passes. I expect Luck to throw for 300 yards and a couple of scores, while Frank Gore also hits paydirt, and the defense could very well get in on the act as well.
Scott – UNDER. I need to see it before I pay for it. Aren't you glad you didn't draft Luck, rotoheads? Fantasy quarterbacks are like a city bus or subway – you miss one, you hop on the next one 10 minutes later. No big deal. It's the easiest fill in a standard league (not counting kickers and defenses).
Brandon – OVER. I think the Colts will keep their foot on the gas peddle in the passing game in this one. I think there's some things with the aerial attack that need to be ironed out, and a home date against the Jaguars is a great time to work on that. I'll say Luck finishes with three TD tosses.
Ballyhooed rookie Melvin Gordon, who has shown flashes thus far but hasn't exactly broken out, fantasy points this week against visiting Cleveland 11.5.
Scott – OVER. The Chargers should control this game at home. The Browns hand out 4.9 yards a carry, and it's not like they've faced a collection of star runners (Latavius Murray and Chris Ivory are good, but they're not Petersoin and Charles, either). The dots line up nicely for Gordon here.
Brandon – UNDER. I have a hard time projecting Gordon for a TD since he's back in the line a bit when it comes to goal line looks hierarchy. But I think Gordon's going to have his best day in terms of yardage, but I think that lands him just over the yards from scrimmage century mark, falling just shy of this number.
Liz – OVER. Gordon is averaging 15 totes per game. Over the past two weeks he’s out touched his main competition, establishing himself as the Chargers lead rusher. His matchup this week is beyond good as the Browns have given up the most rushing yards so far this season. I’m predicting the rookie finally gets the goal line this week, finishing with upwards of 80 yards a touch.
James Jones, arguably THE biggest shocker special of the early season, fantasy points against the dreadful 49ers 12.5.
Liz – OVER. I’d like to think there’d be a lot of production on the ground for Green Bay in this game, but given how awesomely Rodgers is playing in tandem with the fact that San Fran gave up 77 yards and a score to DHB in Week 2 (as well as 3 TDs to DeAngelo Williams), it’s hard for me to pump the brakes on Jones.
Brad – OVER. Acker and Brock have allowed a 70-plus catch percentage on the season and Davante Adams is unlikely to play. Jones may replicate the monstrous night he had versus KC on Monday. He sails WAY over. Invest all day at $22 in Yahoo DFS.
Scott – I'd call Dion Lewis the three-week shocker of the year, but we're not here to quibble. I'm going to go UNDER because Jones has just 15 targets, his touchdown rate is obviously unsustainable, and the Packers are one of the teams that will call off the dogs – and remove key players – if they race out to an early lead.
Assuming he draws the start, Karlos Williams, the hottest waiver wire add this week, combined yards against the New York Giants 99.5.
Brandon – OVER. Assuming he nets 20-plus touches, I have no worries that he'll shoot over this mark. Shady and Williams have combined for well over 100 yards in each game, thus far, and if the powerful, north-south styled rookie gobbles up McCoy's shares as well this week, he should be an easy RB1 in Week 4.
Liz – UNDER. Williams made his way into my Week 2 Deep Sleepers piece, so I’m obviously high on the kid. However, the Giants have a solid run defense. They’re giving up an average of just under 75 yards per game. While facing the Redskins (who, by the way, have called one more rushing play so far this season than the Bills) last Thursday they only allowed 88 total rushing yards. Mark me down for 80 on the ground plus two grabs for another 13 through the air.
Brad – OVER. His 7.8 yards per carry mark is a bit inflated, but with McCoy a possible inactive, he should see upwards of 20 touches. And let's give the Bills offensive line a tip of the cap. It currently ranks No. 4 in run-blocking per Pro Football Focus. Throw in Tyrod's running ability and efficiency (74.4 cmp%) and Williams should flirt with RB1 production in Week 4.
QB Conundrum. Pick one: Andy Dalton (vs. KC), Tyrod Taylor (vs. NYG) or Derek Carr (at Chi)?
Brad – TYROD. He's the No. 4 QB in Fantasyland at the current moment in time. The Giants should get DRC back from injury, but the secondary remains vulnerable. Tyrod, who's chucked 9.15 yards per attempt, will continue to exhibit a fiery hand. A final line in range of 280 combined yards with 2-3 scores.
Dalton – TYROD TAYLOR. I have all three ranked extremely close this week, but it's Taylor slightly out in front. The Giants have allowed the most passing yards in the NFL through the first three games, and Taylor continues to impress, both with his legs and his touch, even on deep balls. Still, I'd treat this trio all as QB1s this week.
Andy – No disrespect to Tyrod, who we all love, but I'm going DEREK CARR in Week 4. He's scorching-hot at the moment, coming off back-to-back 300-yard games, and he's facing the smouldering remains of the Bears defense. This is a gift. Don't waste it.
Antonio Brown, who has owners concerned with Michael Vick under center, receiving yards Thursday night against Baltimore 89.5.
Andy – OVER, please. I don't worry about this team's primary options with Vick at the controls; no way I'm betting against Brown and Bell. But the secondary weapons? Different story.
Dalton – OVER. I'm actually concerned Brown will be more of a WR2 (rather than the clear No. 1 fantasy wideout) with Michael Vick at the helm, but for this week, he can beat this mark. No team has allowed more yards to opposing wide receivers this season than the Ravens.
Scott – OVER. Antonio Brown is unbreakable. And if the Steelers do hit a hiccup in the first Michael Vick start, which is possible given the short preparation window, then please make Brown trade offers on Friday. He is not someone you worry about. So much of his production comes on very basic routes and throws. Go fret over the rest of your roster.
Pick a rushing Bengal against KC: Giovani Bernard or Jeremy Hill.
Andy – Do I have to pick one? OK, I'll take HILL, acknowledging that game-flow can get away from him. This is still a very talented runner, tied to a quality offense. No panic trades, please.
Dalton – HILL. I don't feel strongly about it, but Cincy is at home and favored by four points, so maybe the game flow will finally tilt Hill's way. Plus, he's still the superior option at the goal line.
Brandon – HILL. He's still the No. 1 here, as his head coach reiterated this week. That may not come with an exclmation point at the moment, as Gio has looked great and will probably be a very close 1b to Hill's 1a in this one. And to that point, I think it's possble that both could finish as top 20 RBs this week.
Fill in the blank. _________, under 50-percent owned in Yahoo leagues, has the most shocker special appeal in Week 4 (Any position).
Andy – If I can only pick one, it's LANCE DUNBAR. He just caught 10 balls for 100 yards last week, and he's up to 21 receptions on the season, on 23 targets. I don't see any reason to think he'll slow down, not with all the missing pieces in Big D. (If I'm allowed two honorable mentions here, I'll take TY MONTGOMERY and PHILLIP DORSETT.)
Liz – DEREK CARR. The Raiders sophomore signal caller has put up QB1 fantasy numbers two weeks a row. In that time he’s posted two 300+ games and five TDs. This Sunday he’ll face a Bears defense whose pieces are currently being sold off to the highest bidder(s). A potential top ten finisher in Week 4, Carr is a solid stream for owners living in a post-Romo and/or Roethlisberger world.
Scott – Davante Adams wasn't showing much with the NFC's best passing offense, and now he's hurt. TY MONTGOMERY, get ready for your close-up. (Bonus semi-shocker: as much fun as the Oakland Triplets are, make some room for MICHAEL CRABTREE. He's getting regular opportunity, and Derek Carr looks like the class of the 2014 quarterback crop.)
If you're hoping for a classic defensive battle between AFC North rivals on Thursday night ... well, maybe you should just find an archived game from 2005. So far this season, the Ds in Pittsburgh and Baltimore have been something less than stellar. These teams rank No. 19 and 29 against the pass, allowing the tenth-most and fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. If we get a 16-13 final score tonight, it will probably have more to do with offensive incompetence than with defensive dominance.
Still, if you feel compelled to make a small fantasy investment in this game, we have a pair of lightly owned options...
Maxx Williams, TE, Baltimore Ravens (7 percent owned, $10 in Yahoo daily)
Williams was targeted seven times in Week 3, hauling in three balls for 44 yards. He shouldn't lack for opportunities on Thursday, because Crockett Gillmore will be sidelined with a calf injury. The rookie lacks Gillmore's freakish size, but Williams is plenty capable of making highlight-quality catches — here's a sample from his collegiate tape. Just ridiculous. Baltimore tight ends have combined for 25 targets through three games, catching 17 for 237 yards and two scores. This week, the full workload should fall to Williams. Don't be surprised if he delivers a top-12 positional finish.
Mike Vick, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (17 percent owned, $30 in Yahoo daily)
Yeah, OK, this reeks of desperation. To be clear, we do not recommend starting Vick over waiver gems like Tyrod Taylor or Derek Carr (or Andy Dalton or Joe Flacco or various others. Check the ranks.) But if you're involved in, say, a 14-team league or a two-quarterback format, then Vick certainly belongs on the radar. He won't be running the full playbook, necessarily, but he obviously has some dangerous weapons at his disposal. He's surely still an effective runner (if also a volume fumbler), so that boosts his fantasy profile.
I'm preparing to start him in a 16-teamer as a Roethlisberger replacement, so I feel compelled to endorse him here. Carr and Dalton have delivered huge performances against the Ravens over the past two weeks — both topped 300 yards and tossed three TD passes — so Vick may not be a complete fantasy disaster.
Jake Odorizzi, SP, vs. Mia (Fernandez), $40: He has a 3.05 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 71 strikeouts overt 73.2 innings at home this season. A win won’t come easy since Jose Fernandez is pitching for the opposition, but the Marlins have scored the second fewest runs in baseball, and Odorizzi should dominate this NL lineup (that’s missing Giancarlo Stanton). The over/under for this game is 6.5.
Trevor Bauer, SP, vs. Min (Duffey), $35: He gets his first start in more than three weeks, and while control remains a problem, Bauer should be a nice source of strikeouts. There are only three cheaper pitchers during Thursday’s evening slate.
Brian McCann, C, vs. Bos (Hill), $16: He faces a lefty (he actually has a higher OPS vs. them compared to RHP this year), which typically isn’t ideal, but McCann hits far better at home, and the catcher position is ugly here.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, vs. KC (Medlen), $10: He’s finishing up a terrible first year in Chicago, but LaRoche has knocked 12 homers over 337 at bats against RHP and will be in a nice hitter’s park. He owns a .300/.364/.550 career line over 20 ABs when facing Kris Medlen during his career.
Jason Kipnis, 2B vs. Min (Duffey), $17: He has the platoon advantage and owns a .977 OPS at home this season. Second base options here get thin real quick.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, vs. Bos (Hill), $13: Let’s go back to the well with Rodriguez, who homered Wednesday and once again is at home and facing a southpaw. He remains extremely cheap relative to his production in 2015.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, at NYY (Sabathia), $18: The rookie shortstop carries a .368/.420/.471 line against left-handed pitchers. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia has a 1.58 WHIP when facing RHB this season.
Mike Trout, OF, at Tex (Holland), $24: He’s coming off a monster game Wednesday and gets to face another lefty. Trout has slashed .345/.417/.690 over 29 career at bats against Derek Holland.
Alex Gordon, OF, at CWS (Danks), $14: He’ll be in a hitter’s park and owns a .374 OBP against southpaws this year.
Chris Young, OF, vs. Bos (Hill), $13: He’s been pretty much a must start against lefties at this price, although to be fair, Rich Hill is on a dominant run, posting a 1.17 ERA and 0.52 WHIP with a 30:2 K:BB ratio over his last (and only) three starts this year.
If you're debating on your Week 4 lineup for Daily Fantasy Football, we're here to help. Our six experts put together their lineups for this week based off a $200 budget.
Study their picks and be sure to sign up for a daily contest.
Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom 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 (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 13 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 4 Lames in the comments section below.
See Also: Week 4 Flames
Jeremy Hill, Cin, RB (89 percent started, $23 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. KC
Cincinnati's matchup with the arrow-less Chiefs should be akin to a classic episode of 'Oprah's Favorite Things.' EVERYONE scores a touchdown. Hill, however, will be the lone exception. You may not believe in vampires, leprechauns, Chupacabra or other urban legends, but sophomore slumps are all too real. Last year, Keenan Allen and Zac Stacy were afflicted leaving broken hearts and busted dreams in their wake. Now, it appears Hill is bearing the curse. A runaway beer truck last year, the rookie is riding on spare tires in the encore. His electric effort last fall was expected to relegate Gio Bernard to mop-up duty, but the table has turned. Hill, beleaguered by fumbles, has looked sluggish, powerless and generally rancid. Through three games, Bernard has dwarfed him in yards per carry, yards after contact and missed tackles percentage. Game flow is partially responsible for the recent snap gap, but unless Hill wakes up soon, his tag-team partner may continue to steal the headlines. KC does present a unique opportunity. Due to the Chiefs' wretched pass defense Cincy should knock at the door early and often. But it could be Bernard, who has nearly double the red-zone touches over the past two weeks, who secures the scoring spotlight. And keep in mind, for as repulsive KC has been in pass D, it's been excellent versus the run giving up just 3.54 yards per carry. Hill will likely draw the start, but that doesn't mean he should for your squad. Give me Devonta Freeman (vs. Hou), Karlos Williams (vs. NYG) and Ryan Mathews (at Was) over him.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 52 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6.2 fantasy points
Justin Forsett, Bal, RB (89 percent started, $23)
Matchup: at Pit
Scientists have found water on Mars yet Forsett has yet to find the end-zone or logged a 100-yard game. What is going on in the universe?! Though he's been the preferred carrier in Baltimore's backfield (17.0 touches per game), last year's waiver gem has failed to deliver even serviceable numbers. Against Denver, Oakland and Cincy, he averaged a pedestrian 55.0 total yards per game without a score. Most alarming, his 3.2 yards per carry is a far cry from the 5.2 yards per tote he logged last year. Suffice it to say, the transition from Gary Kubiak to Marc Trestmen hasn't been palatable. On the periphery, Forsett remains one of the league leaders in breakaway percentage and hasn't seen a significant drop-off in other measurements, which bodes well for a turnaround. However, the Ravens' No. 26 rank in run-blocking combined with their forgiving defense and Lorenzo Taliaferro's role at the goal-line have greatly hindered the rusher. Better days lay ahead, but don't expect a rebound in Week 4. Pittsburgh's defense, despite its youth, has collapsed on rushers quickly. It's given up only 2.87 yards per carry and the fewest fantasy points to RBs. Carlos Hyde, off his libido-driving Week 1, was held to just 61 combined yards Week 2 against the Iron Forgers before leaving with an injury in the second half. Throw in the short week, and Forsett is bench-worthy in shallow formats, even if Ryan Shazier, PFF's top-rated inside linebacker versus the run, isn't available.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 56 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.4 fantasy points
T.J. Yeldon, Jax, RB (51 percent started, $21)
Matchup: at Ind
Let's be real for a moment. Some unspecified fantasy sites out there have anointed Yeldon the second-coming. They'll tell you ad nauseum his laborious workload and three-down skill set will be worth the wait. For those that believe the rookie will develop into a reliable, weekly RB2, by all means sell all your worldly possessions, find the nearest hill and wait for His Holiness to descend from the heavens. It's bound to happen right? In reality, T.J. stands for "Total Junk." At this point in his career, he's a snake-oil salesmen in a football uniform. Though impressively built at 6-foot-1, 225-pounds, Yeldon runs with the conviction of a timid penguin. He does own adequate hands, but he's unassertive between the tackles and underwhelms after contact. His 3.2 yards per carry and 1.8 yards after contact per attempt rank as one of the league's lowest among rushers with at least 80 snaps. And he's operated behind the 10th-best run-blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus. To be fair, game flow has not been his friend, but the proof is in the pudding. He's average. Indy has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs this season, but only 3.54 yards per carry. In a contest that has the potential to get lopsided in a hurry (Vegas line: Indy -9), Yeldon is entirely avoidable. That's quite the statement considering the sparse options currently at RB. Go Lance Dunbar (at NO), Matt Jones (vs. Phi) or Darren Sproles (at Was) instead.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 48 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7.5 fantasy points
Jarvis Landry, Mia, WR (82 percent started, $25)
Matchup: vs. NYJ (In London)
More atoll than island Week 1 against Cleveland, a game in which he conceded seven receptions on nine targets, Darrelle Revis has regained his shutdown form since yielding just one reception on six targets. Overall, he's given up a remarkable 44.2 QB rating to his assignments, the fifth-lowest among CBs with at least 120 snaps. Landry is Miami's version of Julian Edelman. Instead of consuming large meals in one sitting he grazes on the competition, evidenced in his 9.6 yards per catch. He does have the most goal-line targets (4) of any WR in the league, an output which speaks to the preseason claim of his red-zone preeminence. Favorably, he's also snagged eight receptions (on 11.3 targets per game) in each of his first three contests. In other words, the slot man is a PPR mainstay. But similar to what Jordan Matthews experienced last week versus New York (6-49-0), he will sit his tush under a palm tree. Collectively, the Jets have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Ryan Tannehill will attempt to force feed him, but given the Revis factor I suspect the QB will pick on underachiever Antonio Cromartie with Rishard Matthews or rising rookie DaVante Parker.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 61 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.6 fantasy points
Travis Kelce, KC, TE (96 percent started, $24)
Matchup: at Cin
Since his pair of Popeye punches Week 1, Kelce's spinach power has waned. Point the finger at the oversized blood clot, Andy Reid. It's inexplicable a player of Kelce's caliber has only seen 21 total targets. Jason Witten and Jordan Reed have enticed more looks. Simply put, he should be lined up in the crosshairs at least nine times per game. His physicality, long-range speed, polished routes and reliable hands make him one of the game's premier vertical weapons. Through three games he's forced a position-high six missed tackles and gained a handsome 9.1 yards after catch per reception. GET HIM THE DAMN BALL! Despite my roisterous pleas – I'm not at all bitter – it's entirely predictable Kelce will again under-perform. Cincinnati hasn't faced a murderer's row at TE this season. LaDarius Green and Crockett Gillmore were the toughest opponents they've battled. However, they limited the pair to a combined 87 yards on eight receptions. As a whole, the Bengals have allowed a mere 6.77 pass yards per attempt. Vincent Rey and Rey Maualuga will have their hands full, but in a raucous road environment, I suspect Kelce will register dullish numbers.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 57 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.2 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 Lynch,Peterson,Ivory/Odell Beckham JR,E.Sanders/Kelce,Graham— Antonio Patrick (@BroskieNation) September 30, 2015
Reader Record: 14-8, 63.6%
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).
Every Wednesday 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 (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 13 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts). If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 4 Flames in the comments section below.
Tyrod Taylor, Buf, QB (20 percent started, $37 in Yahoo Daily)
Matchup: vs. NYG
Not long in the past, Buffalo's collection of allegedly shoddy quarterbacks was worth approximately one Zimbabwean Dollar. No fantasy investor was willing to shell out a penny for any of them. However, thanks to Taylor's profitable start, many are now debating whether he's worth a weekly nod over high-priced options Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson or Peyton Manning. How quickly views can change. Through three weeks, the Bill has trampled the competition. He's tossed accurate darts (74.4 completion percentage), often deflected intense pressure, made plays with his legs, taken shots downfield (9.15 yards per attempt) and, most importantly for virtual game purposes, has routinely found the end zone. Against AFC foes Indy, New England and Miami he totaled 270 combined yards per game and tallied an 8:3 TD:INT split (1 rush TD), an output good enough for a top-five ranking at QB. We're indeed living in a Bizarro World. At this rate, Screech will soon seal the deal with Lisa Turtle. Tyrod's unpredictable run should continue this week against the visiting Giants. Thus far, New York has given up a 300-yard passer each week along with 7.39 pass yards per attempt. Digging deeper, Prince Amukamura has performed well ranking top-20 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus and Doiminique Rodgers-Cromartie should return from a one-week absence due to a concussion, but the secondary remains vulnerable. DRC, Jayron Hosley and Trumaine McBride have surrendered a combined 72.7 catch percentage. With or without Sammy Watkins, the Taylor windfall should continue.
Fearless Forecast: 22-30, 249 pass yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 35 rushing yards, 0 turnovers, 21.5 fantasy points
Chris Ivory, NYJ, RB (39 percent started, $19)
Matchup: vs. Mia (London)
Though active Week 3 against the Eagles, Ivory served up believers with a string of donuts. And he didn't even garnish them with rainbow sprinkles. Many will have difficulties washing away the bitter taste, but the Jets rusher should get back to his tattooing ways across the pond. When on the the field this season, Ivory has been the mid-range RB2 some projected. Though replaced at times by Bilal Powell, he's levied the boom on early downs (64.8 YAC%), forced missed tackles on 20.6 percent of his attempts, operated as the primary goal-line option and, almost inexplicably, caught the occasional pass. Given the scorched-earth landscape at RB, he is a reliable 15-20 touch per game option in 12-team leagues, when healthy. The Dolphins defense, seemingly trapped in a fishing net, has drowned in misery, a completely unexpected outcome with Ndamukong Suh manning the trenches. They have allowed a modest 4.01 yards per carry to RBs, but, as Karlos Williams proved last week, this is a unit that can be humbled in a hurry. The Bills and Redskins (Week1) had much success on the ground against it. Pay close attention to Ivory's practice reports this week, but the extended layoff should do him wonders. In the Land of Lavishly Treated Welsh Corgis, New York's 'Ripper' shreds Miami.
Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 74 rushing yards, 1 receptions, 6 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.5 fantasy points
Giovani Bernard, Cin, RB (37 percent started, $22)
Matchup: vs. KC
For Jeremy Hill enthusiasts, the sky is indeed falling. Blame sophomore slumps. Blame the Super Blood Moon. Blame balding supposed fantasy 'gurus' who told he was a safe RB1. Whatever the reason, Hill is free-falling, a tailspin that's suddenly boosted the value of his overlooked compatriot. Right now, Bernard is the most trusted back in Cincy. And he should be. The third-year man from North Carolina has secured the ball, forced more missed tackles (15), been more effective in the pass game and, shockingly, has gained more yards after contact (55.7 YAC%) compared to Hill (51.7). Last week against Baltimore, he nearly doubled his teammate's snap count, seeing action 66.2 percent of the time. Unless Hill sniffs smelling salts, that script will remain unchanged this week against Kansas City, despite Hue Jackson's claim the LSU product continues to be the starter. Evidenced in Aaron Rodgers' 5-TD undressing of KC last Monday, its weakness is clearly defending the pass. With that in mind, it's highly likely Andy Dalton and friends move the ball at will vertically, possibly setting up Gio with several goal-to-go situations. Currently the more sure-handed and trusted option inside the red-zone Bernard should handle the rock near the pylons. Keep in mind, he has five more totes inside the 20 since Week 2 compared to Hill. Count on him as a top-20 RB.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 63 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.4 fantasy points
Michael Crabtree, Oak, WR (24 percent started, $19)
Matchup: at Chi
It seems as though Tim Brown is masquerading as Crabtree. It's the only reasonable explanation for why the very average receiver has exceeded expectations. In all seriousness, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper deserve major props. The rockin' AC/DC combination has gifted the former Niner with soft, single coverage, situations which he's used to his advantage. On a weighty 32 targets, equal to Brandon Marshall's looks, Crabtree has caught 18 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. His subsequent 24.4 fantasy points ranks top-36 among WRs, firmly placing the Raider within the WR3 conversation on a week-in, week-out basis. This Sunday, however, he may jump a full tier. Putting it mildly, the Boo-Boo Bears of Chicago are once again an embarrassment defensively. They've surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs, including a TD hat-trick to Larry Fitzgerald in Week 2. Unbelievably, corners Sherrick McManis, Kyle Fuller and Alan Ball have allowed a 132.6 QB rating and 77.1 catch percentage to their assignments. What remarkable generosity. Similar to what he achieved Week 2 versus Baltimore, Crabtree has a reasonable shot at 100 yards and a score. Throw dollars at him, and any other Raider, all day long.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.3 fantasy points
James Jones, GB, WR (55 percent started, $23)
Matchup: at SF
The veteran's resurrection has been nothing short of amazing. Arguably, THE surprise sensation of the early season, he's transformed from garbage to gold virtually overnight, regaining his top-20 form from 2012. Through three games, Jones and Rodgers have forged an unbreakable bond, particularly near the end zone. He's seen just 15 targets, but the receiver caught 12 of them for 219 yards and four touchdowns, the eighth-best line at WR. His current 64-1168-21 pace is Randy Moss-esque. At some point, he should regress to the mean, but don't anticipate a lapse in Week 4. The Niners' have mined nothing but fossilized dung thus far. Established quarterbacks have blitzed them repeatedly thus far. Ben Roethsliberger and Carson Palmer each compiled 300-plus yard, multi-TD performances against them, totaling an absurd 11.5 pass yards per attempt. Under the microscope, San Fran corners Tramine Brock and Kenneth Acker, who rank outside the top-70 in pass coverage according to Pro Football focus, have yielded a combined 71.4 catch percentage and 14.5 yards per catch. With Davante Adams a probable injury casualty (ankle) and attention focused on Randall Cobb, Jones' comeback story adds another page.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 83 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.8 fantasy points
Michael Vick, Pit, QB (4 percent started, $30)
Matchup: vs. Bal
The NFL might be the most environmentally conscious professional sports league around. Quarterbacks, previously thought to be washed up and un-renewable, are constantly recycled. Just look at Matt Schaub and Matt Cassel. How either still collects a check is beyond human comprehension. Vick, unlike the clumsy Matts, is a competent, roster worthy QB. Admittedly, the last time he was under center full time with the New York Jets, the veteran was a complete (expletive) show. In three starts, he completed just 58.4 percent of his attempts, tallied 155 combined yards per game and totaled three virtually meaningless touchdowns. At 35, he's no spring chicken and the short week to prepare is a concern, but he's an upside stopgap for ailing Ben Roethlisberger/Tony Romo owners and Tom Brady/Marcus Mariota zealots in the market for a useful one-week filler. Keep in mind, the Steelers offensive line currently rates No. 1 in pass-blocking per PFF, Vick can still scramble with the best of them and has arguably the best 1-2 punch in the league, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, to spoon feed. The matchup isn't too shabby either. More featherless Tweety Birds than fearsome Ravens, this year's Baltimore defense has been a pushover. Jimmy Smith and LaDarius Webb have surrendered 15.3 yards per catch to their assignments. As a unit, the AFC North foe has given up a healthy 7.45 pass yards per attempt and the second-most fantasy points to signal callers. Yes, #TequilaThursday is warranted for a reason. The quality of play on TNF typically encourages imbibing. But gut says Vick will be serviceable in a pinch, especially in Todd Haley's offense.
Fearless Forecast: 20-29, 222 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 32 rushing yards, 19.1 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?
Reader Record: 8-13
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).
Garrett Richards, SP, vs. Oak (Zito), $45: He has a 3.08 ERA and 1.12 WHIP at home this season and sports a 10.2 K/9 rate over his last four starts. The Angels are fighting for a playoff spot, so they should put out their best lineup possible. They face off against Barry Zito, which is part of the reason why L.A. is the biggest favorite on the board Wednesday (-230).
Yovani Gallardo, SP, vs. Det (Boyd), $37: He doesn’t have the prettiest peripherals, but Gallardo owns a 3.42 ERA this season and should face a depleted Tigers lineup likely resting Miguel Cabrera. The Rangers are big favorites (-185) as a result.
John Jaso, C, vs. Mia (Cosart), $11: He owns a .357 OBP against right-handed pitchers (and a .395 OBP away from Tropicana Field) and remains cheap at a thin catcher position.
Albert Pujols, 1B, vs. Oak (Zito), $17: A foot injury has curtailed Pujols’ production in the second half, but he has three homers over the past week and gets to tee off against Zito.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, vs. Min (Pelfrey), $16: He has a .331/.410/.491 line against righties and a .978 OPS at home this season. Although realize Cleveland plays a doubleheader Wednesday, so make sure he’s in the lineup for the second game.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, vs. Bos (Miley), $13: Rodriguez’s price tag has plummeted thanks to a slow August and September, as there are 19 third basemen more expensive. Still, he hits better at home and sports a .265/.396/.551 line against southpaws.
Jose Reyes, SS, at Ari (Anderson), $14: He’s back in action, hitting atop the Rockies lineup. While it’s no Coors Field, Arizona is also a terrific hitter’s park.
Mike Trout, OF, vs. Oak (Zito), $23: He’s rebounded from a down August with a huge September, and Trout versus Zito sure looks like the day’s biggest mismatch. Of course, there’s hardly any guarantee Zito lasts long enough for Trout to get more than 1-2 at bats against him.
Chris Young, vs. Bos (Miley), $13: He’s slashing .319/.390/.563 against lefties, including seven homers over just 144 at bats. The price is reasonable here as well.
Gerardo Parra, vs. Tor (Dickey), $11: He’s been batting leadoff of late, is cheap and is 6-for-9 with three walks and zero strikeouts during his career against R.A. Dickey.
The first thing I’m doing is taking all the rain off the Tuesday card. No Jays and Orioles, no Bucs and Cards, no Twins and Indians. If they prove me wrong, so be it. I don’t want to lose that way. (And maybe I'm underestimating the threat for the Reds and Cubs.)
I would never fault anyone for dialing up Clayton Kershaw, though I’ll be more budget-conscious with my moundsmen. Bartolo Colon ($45, -190 at Philly) and Tyson Ross ($51, -173 vs. Milwaukee) are both heavy favorites and going up against skeleton-crew offenses. (Seriously, look at that Philly lineup again. The Phanatic cries himself to sleep.)
I want to stack Houston RHBs against Seattle lefty Vidal Nuno, but the $24 tag on Jose Altuve knocks him out of the mix. But Carlos Correa at $18 and George Springer at $14, those are easy purchases. Correa has a zesty .938 OPS against lefties, while Springer is at .878.
I usually want a cheap catcher play, and I’ll overlook A.J. Pierzynski’s weak supporting cast given that he’s just $9 and he’s slotted cleanup Tuesday.
Anthony Rizzo’s numbers have come down in the second half, but the Cincinnati-Chicago game has a lofty over/under of 8.5 and the Cubs should be able to hit Reds starter Josh Smith, who’s been shaky in his first MLB close-up. Twenty bucks it is.
David Peralta ($17) is a righty masher, and he’s in a friendly Arizona park. Christian Bergman is the type of pitcher you want to attack.
I'm fine to use Danny Valencia or Brett Lawrie as my third baseman, I just need to get confirmation when Oakland puts out a lineup. The joy of Yahoo DFS, you can make game switches in the later games.
If you have to punt an outfielder, at least take a good batting slot and someone up against a gettable pitcher. Jason Bourgeois ($8) slots leadoff Tuesday, facing Dan Haren. And it’s fun to say “Bourgeois.” Ivan DeJesus ($7) also gets the punt play, slotted second in the same matchup. That's what happens when you pay up for Correa and Rizzo. Stay away, raindrops...
Week 3’s winner of the “NFL Million Dollar Baller” contest rode a balanced approach to a whopping 246.6 points, which would’ve beaten last week’s champion by 59.02. The winner took home a cool $100,000 while besting 77,786 other participants in a highly competitive Week 3 tournament.
Cam Newton was started by just 10.2% of the teams despite a modest price tag ($36) and up against a New Orleans secondary that has been shredded this season (they’ve now allowed 9.9 YPA and an NFL-high 119.6 QB Rating to opposing passers), which led to 29.90 points.
Brandon Marshall (19.90 points) came through as expected while not having to fight for targets with Eric Decker sidelined (Marshall’s 30.7% ownership is the highest on the winning team since we started tracking this last week), while Larry Fitzgerald followed up his three-touchdown performance in Week 2 with two more scores and 134 yards, producing 29.90 points. The 32-year-old wideout has averaged the second most FPPG (24.9) in Yahoo DFS this year, second only to Julio Jones (28.3). However, there are nine more expensive wide receivers than Fitzgerald ($28) for Week 4’s slate, so he could very well be someone to target yet again.
The winner also had Devonta Freeman, who was this week’s top scoring back (39.80) yet was owned by only 16.9% of teams. Freeman is suddenly tied for the NFL lead with four rushing scores on the year, and he’s really impressed as a receiver. As a result, his cost has gone from $18 last week up to $27 in Week 4.
The winner also made a big profit on Greg Olsen, who was the No. 1 scoring tight end (29.40) and had an ownership of just 11.1%. The same could be said for rostering the No. 1 defense, as Arizona scored a whopping 28.0 points while recording two pick-sixes (and four interceptions in total) as well as a safety. The Cardinals were only $12 and were barely owned (10.8%).
One final home run this week’s winner hit was Steve Smith, who secured 13-of-17 targets for 186 yards and two scores, which was good for 37.10 points. Smith was owned by an anemic 5.3% of teams, so he might have been the single biggest difference maker of the week.
Our Week 3 winner entered Monday night with a comfortable lead and as the heavy favorite, but Aaron Rodgers’ 34.92 points made things interesting, as second place got to within 4.18 points (still a more comfortable margin of victory than last week’s 1.32 points). Clearly, scoring was way up this week, and our winner did a terrific job of avoiding any busts to take home the prize.
Among other novelties in this week’s All-Bust lineup, we have our first repeat appearance of 2015, the worst fantasy output of any defense/special teams this season and one Cowboy who sorely misses Tony Romo.
Let’s dive into a week that on the surface featured few upsets, yet yielded plenty of surprising individual performances (Devonta Freeman, anyone?).
A reminder on the selection process: I calculate the difference between the projected Yahoo point totals and the actual outputs of each player. The guys with the worst sums wind up here, with their disappointing performances illustrated by PointAfter visualizations.
Notes: All projected point totals were pulled Sunday morning from Yahoo’s standard scoring system. Players who were injured on Sunday weren’t considered.
QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
Projected points (position rank): 16.8 (16th)
Actual points (position rank): 3.7 (33rd)
I’m as shocked as you are that Colin Kaepernick isn’t in this spot after he only passed for 67 yards and threw four picks, both career worsts, in San Francisco’s embarrassing 47-7 dismantling in Arizona. But at least Kaepernick’s rushing touchdown bumped him up to 9.3 points on the day.
Bridgewater’s only rushing attempt, meanwhile, went for negative yardage, and he only passed for 121 yards while taking a back seat to Adrian Peterson against San Diego.
Peterson romped for 126 yards on 20 carries against the Chargers, and now leads the league in both carries and rushing yards per game (he’s represented by the dot closest to the upper right corner of the below graph). As long as that’s true, Bridgewater’s fantasy value is limited. Even in two-QB leagues, he’s a borderline option.
Note: You can hover over each dot to see the player it corresponds to.
RB1: Justin Forsett, Ravens
Projected points: 12.3 (8th)
Actual points: 2.9 (57th)
For years now, the Ravens have been thought of as a smash-mouth, run-first team. But there was a stark difference to the contrary between Baltimore’s rushing attempts (18) and pass attempts (49) against Cincinnati.
Part of the shift in strategy has to fall on the shoulders of Forsett, who has been brutally ineffective. Last year yielded the journeyman’s first crack at a starting job, and he responded with his third straight season of averaging at least 5.0 yards per carry. But that figure has fallen to 3.0 YPC in 2015.
If Forsett continues this downward spiral, he could find himself losing touches to Lorenzo Taliaferro or rookie Javorius Allen, who earned a reputation as a workhorse at USC.
RB2: Jeremy Hill, Bengals
Projected points: 11.3 (7th)
Actual points: 2.1 (T-66th)
After just three weeks, Jeremy Hill is the first player to appear in this column twice. As I mentioned last week, Hill’s status as Cincinnati’s primary back was overstated during the preseason. He and Giovani Bernard have the same amount of carries (41) in 2015. The Bengals don’t seem to have a huge preference for one over the other in the red zone, either.
The good news for Hill’s owners is that the Bengals are going to be a run-first team, even if A.J. Green continues to blow up opposing defenses – Cincinnati is tied for the second-most rush attempts (98) in the NFL, just one behind San Francisco.
The bad news is that the Bengals backfield is now unquestionably a timeshare. And if anyone is going to take over as the lead back, momentum favors Bernard (5.7 yards per carry) over Hill (3.0 yards per carry).
WR1: Andre Johnson, Colts
Projected points: 7.4 (31st)
Actual points: 0.0 (N/A)
This might go without saying, but Johnson doesn’t deserve to start in any standard leagues until further notice. He’s clearly been passed in Indianapolis’ wideout pecking order by Donte Moncrief, who has 26 targets to Johnson’s 18. With the Colts’ passing offense not living up to expectations, you can’t afford to play the third option in their attack.
Even when he has been targeted, Johnson has only caught seven of the 18 balls thrown to him for a paltry total of 51 yards and no touchdowns.
The 34-year-old has clearly lost a step or two, and is having trouble separating from cornerbacks. Andrew Luck has plenty of other weapons to spread the ball around to, and Johnson might get even fewer looks as the season goes on.
WR2: Terrance Williams, Cowboys
Projected points: 7.2 (34th)
Actual points: 0.0 (N/A)
Last week, Williams appeared to take the No. 1 WR role vacated by Dez Bryant in Dallas with aplomb, hauling in four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles.
But with a new quarterback under center in Brandon Weeden, Williams was held off the box score as Dallas leaned heavily on check downs to Lance Dunbar (10 receptions, 100 yards) and short-route receivers like Jason Witten (six receptions, 65 yards) and Cole Beasley (four receptions, 49 yards).
If you own Williams, you could benefit from exhibiting patience over the next couple weeks. He has two very favorable matchups against the Saints and Patriots in Dallas’ next two games. But his ceiling is clearly lower with Tony Romo on the sidelines.
TE: Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Projected points: 7.4 (4th)
Actual points: 0.0 (N/A)
For every all-world performance like A.J. Green had against Baltimore, there’s a teammate who suffers from a fantasy standpoint. Eifert, who couldn’t bring in any of his three targets, was that guy on Sunday.
Eifert also wasn’t helped by a replay review that overturned a touchdown of his, in a situation identical to the infamous Dez Bryant no-catch from last year’s playoffs.
FLEX: Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Projected points: 12.9 (5th)
Actual points: 5.2 (40th)
Stewart’s owners were undoubtedly expecting more from him against New Orleans’ much-maligned defense. Instead, he averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry for the third consecutive week, and has yet to find the end zone.
That isn’t merely poor fortune -- Stewart has found himself removed in the red zone for Mike Tolbert, a notorious touchdown vulture. If you can convince someone in your league that Stewart has merely gotten unlucky to not score this season, it could be a wise move to unload him in a trade while you still can.
D/ST: Miami Dolphins
Projected points: 7.1 (14th)
Actual points: -4.0 (32nd)
It was Buffalo’s defense that was supposed to give Miami fits, not their offense. Nevertheless, the Dolphins recorded the worst output of any defense/special teams so far this season, as Tyrod Taylor and Co. handed Joe Philbin’s crew a sobering defeat.
KICKER: Matt Prater, Lions
Projected points: 8.1 (18th)
Actual points: 0.0 (T-29th)
Prater, like the rest of the Lions, had a night to forget against his former team.
The only kicking action he got all night was an extra-point attempt that was blocked by Aqib Talib. Those hoping Prater would net a few long field goals against Denver’s rugged defense were left wanting.
Maybe those owners, and the rest of this week’s busts, will have better luck next week.
Hector Santiago ($40) has been erratic in the second half, and I actually dropped him in one of my weekly formats, despite the two-start week. But the Angels should score against Felix Doubront (5.53 ERA), which is why the Halos are -194 favorites here. Anytime I can get a cheap pitcher at that favored a price, I’m likely to do it.
The savings on Santiago make Zack Greinke ($61, -155) a more reasonable pay-up, at home against a Giants team that hasn’t scored much over the last month (19th in the majors). I’m skipping past the second favorite on the card, Corey Kluber, not sure what to make of him these days.
Jose Altuve ($22) was one of the quickest offensive punches from this card, a man who loves to rake against lefties (.376/.437/.545). Roenis Elias is no one to fear. Altuve also has a .904 OPS this month. I’ll bring Carlos Correa ($18) along for the platoon-advantage ride, and hope we can find enough bargains to make it up elsewhere.
Although Alex Rodriguez ($15) doesn’t have a pretty average this month, he does have six homers in 24 games. He’s also a .552 slugger against southpaws. Give him some cuts against Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez.
Justin Verlander has turned things around, so he’s no longer someone we look to pick on. Nonetheless, Mitch Moreland offers a .299/.355/.543 slash against righties, a good value for ten bucks.
I’m just looking for a cheap option at catcher, a reasonable hitter in a good lineup, up against an ordinary pitcher. Dioner Navarro ($10) slots sixth on Monday, up against the erratic Chris Tillman. I can live with that.
And it looks like I need an outfield on $24. Heaven help me.
Tyler Collins ($8) is set to hit second for the Tigers, and hopefully we’ll see a high-scoring game in Texas (over/under is 8.5). He’s been an out-making machine at home, but for some reason Collins has a zesty .919 OPS on the road (in a small sample, I hear you).
We’ve discussed the pros and cons of Ryan Raburn ($7) before; he might not play a full game for bullpen-platoon reasons or defense reasons. But he opens the night in the No. 5 position and he should put the ball in play against soft-rock Tommy Milone.
What happens when you pay up for an ace pitcher and a high-priced infield? You’re stuck with Josh Hamilton ($9) as your back-fill outfielder. My rationale is that he fit the price and the game should feature scoring. I don’t expect him to get a lot of play in our Monday contest.
Fantasy owners looking to cash big in Yahoo DFS are always in the market for connector players, low-dollar options that provide roster flexibility and fatten wallets. Every Monday we'll bargain hunt in an attempt to unearth buried treasure. Today's featured buys come from KC/GB, a matchup with plenty of fantasy sizzle.
James Starks, GB, RB ($12 Yahoo DFS) – Added in droves by concerned Eddie Lacy owners and speculative buyers alike over the past week, Starks could play a larger than normal role Monday night. Lacy, listed as probable, is expected to suit up and will likely start, but after being limited in practice for much of last week, he may not receive his customary 15-20 touch workload. What ultimately could unfold is a hot-hand situation, one that could greatly benefit the healthier rusher. Overall, Starks and Lacy are essentially interchangeable. They're thick-bodied backs who possess a three-down skill set and gain ample yards after contact. If the backup can take advantage of his attempts, he may finish in range of 60-80 combined yards with a score. Yes, the Chiefs have surrendered just 3.73 yards per carry and the fewest fantasy points to RBs, but that production came against the Arian Foster-less Texans and broken Denver ground game. Knowing the back-end problems KC has defensively, Starks will be presented with numerous light fronts. At $12, you won't find a better deal.
James Jones, GB, WR ($20) – Left to die by New York and Oakland, most, me included, believed Jones' football-playing days were six feet under. However, the journeyman veteran has resurrected his career thanks in large part to Jordy Nelson's absence and Aaron Rodgers' brilliance. When in the red-zone, Jones is clearly Mr. Olivia Munn's flavor of choice. His solid 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame, reliable hands and one-on-one wins in those situations make him very attractive. Against Houston and Denver the Chiefs were at times a joke on pass defense. As a result, Marcus Peters is the KC corner to rank inside the position's top-40 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. Jamell Flemming, who has allowed a 111.1 QB rating to his assignments, ranks No. 98 of 99 in the category. Suffice it to say, Rodgers crush them like an ice-cold Leinenkugel Summer Shandy on a hot day. Bank on at least 50 yards and a touch from the veteran wideout.
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With Dez Bryant hurt and now Ben Roethlisberger sidelined in Pittsburgh, which hurts Antonio Brown, Julio Jones has separated himself as the clear No. 1 wide receiver and arguably the No. 1 overall fantasy asset. To highlight just how crazy good Jones has been, according to Pro Football Focus, he’s been the target on five passes that have gone 20+ yards in the air this season, and he’s secured every one of them for 170 yards and two scores, which is obscenely efficient. Jones has seen 35 targets over the past two contests, and his 34 catches are the most over the first three games of a season in NFL history. Jones is on pace to finish with 181 catches, 2,347 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. That’s just unfair, especially in PPR formats. As hoped, new OC Kyle Shanahan is getting the most out of this unique talent.
Joseph Randle and Devonta Freeman combined for 214 yards and five touchdowns in the first half. Both were highly impressive, as Freeman got 4.7 YPC with three rushing scores (he broke four tackles Sunday after breaking just 10 all of last year) against a Dallas front seven that had been stuffing the run while also securing all five of his targets for 52 receiving yards. Freeman has underwhelmed throughout his brief career, but he currently leads the NFL with four rushing TDs and should be considered an RB1 as long as Tevin Coleman is sidelined. Meanwhile, Randle did this...Dallas had 28 points at halftime, yet Terrance Williams had zero catches (the same number he would finish the game with)...Brandon Weeden had been 16-for-16 to open the season before getting picked off on his 17th attempt.
Andy Dalton was sacked and committed a turnover for the first times this season, but he’s now up to eight passing touchdowns (and a rushing score) while getting 9.4 YPA. The Ravens secondary has been getting torched, but Dalton looked genuinely impressive Sunday, and it’s entirely possible he’s ready to make a leap during his fifth year in the league. He sure looks like a top-10 fantasy QB right now...This Steve Smith 50-yard TD catch on fourth down was pretty ridiculous. After a quiet second half last season, the 36-year-old looks rejuvenated, as he has 23 catches on 33 targets over the past two games...Jeremy Hill and Justin Forsett, two backs often off the board during the first 15 picks of drafts, combined for 34 yards on 22 carries.
The Colts may have saved their season with their fourth-quarter comeback, but there’s still plenty to be concerned about. This interception by Andrew Luck was awful...Andre Johnson, who failed to haul in his lone target, can seemingly be dropped even in 20-team leagues...Marcus Mariota is on pace to finish with both the most passing yards (4,443) and passing touchdowns (43) by a rookie in NFL history. The latter he would shatter, as Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson currently hold the record with 26. Even when his pace slows once there’s more film on him, Mariota will run more. He looks like a fantasy monster right away.
Luke McCown looked like an upgrade over a hobbled Drew Brees, completing 81.6 percent of his passes while getting 8.1 YPA against a Carolina secondary that entered having allowed an NFL-low 4.4. It sounds as if Brees will be out weeks, but Brandin Cooks’ fantasy value isn’t necessarily dead...It would be hard not to rank Greg Olsen ahead of Jimmy Graham moving forward...Crazy that those who locked in the Panthers at -3.5 early last week, only to see the spread jump all the way to -9.5 by game time after the Brees news, would’ve still lost had the Saints gotten the two-point conversion late in the fourth.
Derek Carr had huge home/road splits during his rookie campaign, but he was great in Cleveland, getting 9.8 YPA with two touchdowns and zero turnovers or sacks. He’s quickly starting to look like a true franchise quarterback...The Browns don’t have a single relevant fantasy player...Amari Cooper lost a fumble, but I’d treat him as a top-12 fantasy wide receiver right now.
What a cruel joke making Chris Ivory active only to play him zero snaps. Not cool Jets...Brandon Marshall put up another big line, but this lost fumble was the biggest blunder of Week 3...Of course Ryan Mathews lost a fumble, but he otherwise impressed as Philadelphia’s lead back. He’d be an RB1 as long as DeMarco Murray is sidelined.
Brutal Ben Roethlisberger injury to an offense that had its sights set on breaking records. The downgrade to Michael Vick is massive...If there was a worse drop Sunday than Lance Kendricks’, I missed it...Nick Foles didn’t exactly light up this suspect Steelers secondary as many who went cheap at QB in DFS had hoped...Better days are ahead for Todd Gurley.
After leading the team with 14 carries and seeing eight targets last week, I fully expected Chris Polk to be Houston’s lead back. Instead, Alfred Blue rose from the dead and rumbled for 139 yards on 31 rushing attempts. It should all be moot when Arian Foster hopefully returns in Week 4...Kyle Brindza went 1-for-4 on field goal tries and missed his lone extra point attempt in a truly epic performance (although to be fair his make came from 58 yards)...Mike Evans saw 17 targets and looks healthy. He should be treated as a top-12 WR moving forward.
LeGarrette Blount went from not touching the ball until the middle of the second quarter to finishing with three rushing scores. His weekly fantasy value will be especially dependent upon game flow, but it’s hard not to expect the Patriots often playing with leads, as this offense appears unstoppable...New England racked up 51 points, yet somehow Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman didn’t score...No question I’d rather own Tom Brady than Andrew Luck moving forward...T.J. Yeldon is on pace to finish with 299 touches. And just 1,024 total yards with zero touchdowns.
Headlines of the Week: Woman Leaps From Car After Spotting Spider, Leading To Crash...7-Foot, 440-Pound High School Lineman Is A Nightmare For Opponents...Stolen Diamond Ring Found Inside Alleged Thief...Man ‘With Things To Do’ Charged With Calling In Bomb Threat To Get Out Of Court.
Adrian Peterson scored for the first time in his last seven games and then did so again later, this time in impressive fashion...He’s totaled 318 yards over the last two games, and it’s scary to think he claims he’s still not back to his old self yet. I was skeptical of Peterson as the No. 1 pick at age 30 coming off a lost season, but he’s more than proved worthy...It’s not often you’ll see a team win 31-14 with its quarterback getting 5.0 YPA with a 0:1 TD:INT ratio and a 50.9 QB Rating, but Minnesota accomplished the feat Sunday...Melvin Gordon was criticized for his inability to hit holes during the preseason, but he’s been just fine so far. Instead, just like last year, the inept San Diego run blocking has been the biggest culprit preventing Gordon from producing much fantasy value...What has happened to Charles Johnson?...Keenan Allen saw four targets in Week 2. He’s averaged 17.5 during the other two games.
I’ve always been a Colin Kaepernick apologist, but there are really no more excuses to make. The offensive line is shaky, and Kap is a terrific runner and athlete, but he simply can’t pass and hasn’t developed. His performance Sunday was one of the ugliest you’ll ever see, throwing four picks and missing wide-open receivers. Tyrann Mathieu actually said this postgame: “Their passing game has been simplified so much, it was easy for us to anticipate routes.” The Niners might be two-touchdown underdogs at home in Week 4...After shutting down Adrian Peterson in Week 1, San Francisco has allowed five rushing scores to DeAngelo Williams and Chris Johnson, who are a combined 62 years old and totaled one touchdown all of last season.
Police Blotter: Elderly Costco Shopper Punched In Fight Over Nutella Samples...Drunken Collegian Jumped In Squad Car, Asked Cop For Ride To His Dorm...Man Set His Car Ablaze To Keep It From Being Towed...Thief Took Amp From Shelf, Pawned It At Same Shop...Man Steals Lottery Ticket Dispenser, Gets Arrested When He Goes Back To Same Store To Cash A Winner.
Fred Jackson owners would’ve been happy if they were told Marshawn Lynch saw just five carries in a blowout victory, yet FJax was given just two, as both took a backseat to rookie Thomas Rawls...The Bears punted on all 10 of their possessions, as Jimmy Clausen is now 1-11 as a starter in his career.
After setting a franchise record with 160 straight passes without an interception, Ryan Tannehill was picked off three times on his next 13 attempts...You have to be pretty concerned if you’re a LeSean McCoy or Lamar Miller owner. Karlos Williams, meanwhile, looks like the real deal...Tyrod Taylor has been the biggest revelation over the first three games of the season. He’s shown surprising touch while completing 74.4 percent of his passes and getting 9.4 YPA with a 7:3 TD:INT ratio (despite a gimpy Sammy Watkins), adding 96 yards and a score on the ground. He looks legit.
Longread of the Week: The Fermi Paradox
If it wasn’t already, it’s officially time to panic about C.J. Anderson, who in no way can be trusted to start at this time. What a disaster...Matthew Stafford was sacked four times and committed three turnovers, while Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah were held to 29 yards on 18 carries. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson managed just 5.9 YPT. This Denver defense is terrifying.
Injuries continue to be a huge story this season, so we have an early look at two players to eye on the waiver wire that could help your team overcome the loss of a key player.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver Marvin Jones both had big Week 3s in a win over the Baltimore Ravens. Dalton threw for 383 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for another score. With Ben Roethlisberger reportedly out at least four weeks with a knee injury, Dalton will be a popular add.
Andy Dalton is currently on pace to match his 2013 numbers. Over three weeks he's passed for 866 yards and 8 TDs. Oh, and only 1 INT!— Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) September 27, 2015
Jones caught five balls for 94 yards and a touchdown and was targeted a season-high eight times. He missed all of last season with foot and ankle injuries, but now has touchdowns in consecutive weeks.
Helping Dalton is a solid arsenal of healthy weapons. Marvin Jones is looking to put his injury riddled 2014 in the rear view mirror.— Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) September 27, 2015
Luis Severino, SP, vs. CWS (Johnson), $47: The rookie starter has 48 strikeouts over his first 49.1 innings in the majors, averaging a whopping 95.5 mph with his fastball while producing a strong 9.9 SwStr%. The White Sox have scored the second fewest runs in the American League, which is part of the reason why the Yankees are big favorites Sunday (-190).
Mark Buehrle, SP, vs. TB (Andriese), $37: Unlike Severino, Buehrle has anything but overpowering stuff, but he too faces an anemic offense (the Rays rank last in runs scored in the AL) and is helped by baseball’s best offense backing him up. Like the Yankees, the Blue Jays are also -190 favorites.
A.J. Ellis, C, at Col (Rusin), $12: He’s hitting in Coors Field and owns a .271/.401/.514 line against southpaws.
Adam Lind, 1B, at Stl (Lackey), $14: He’s hit better at home than on the road this season by a wide margin, but Lind has pounded righties (.913 OPS), has been on fire this month (.942) and has fared well when facing John Lackey during his career (1.050 OPS).
Jason Kipnis, 2B, at KC (Young), $16: He’s batting .332/.412/.493 against right-handed pitchers and has a strong track record against Chris Young (6-for-12 with a homer and zero strikeouts), yet Kipnis is modestly priced here.
Miguel Sano, 3B, at Det (Wolf), $14: He has the platoon advantage against Randy Wolf, who has a .343 BAA and 1.84 WHIP when facing right-handed batters. There are 14 more expensive third basemen than Sano.
Carlos Correa, SS, vs. Tex (Perez), $15: He’s hit nine home runs over 112 at bats against southpaws this season. The rookie is already one of the most valuable players in baseball, so $15 feels cheap, especially at such a thin position.
Brett Gardner, OF, vs. CWS (Johnson), $16: He’s slumped of late but has a combined 32 homers/steals over just 384 at bats versus RHP and hits much better in Yankee Stadium.
George Springer, OF, vs. Tex (Perez), $14: He’s slashing .273/.385/.488 against lefties and hits atop Houston’s lineup. The huge season many hoped for didn’t come to fruition, but Springer’s potential remains.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, vs. Pit (Burnett), $14: He has a .980 OPS when facing right-handed pitchers, and he looks like a future star, so Schwarber is a bargain at this price.
Rise and grind, there’s a full slate of DFS that asks for your attention. As always, please double check the weather and lineups as first pitch approaches. And if you feel like a free game, take your best shot at me, right here.
I’ve said plenty of skeptical things about Stephen Strasburg over the years, but I can’t deny how dominant he’s been since returning in August: 2.24 ERA, 6 BB, 72 K, .176 average against. He’s a -250 favorite Saturday against the Phils, and a reasonable $58 in the Yahoo game. That works.
Although it’s tempting to go with Tim Hudson at a giveaway (and perhaps thematic) $17 tag, I’ll swing a little higher with the second pitcher: Jaime Garcia. He’s at home against Milwaukee, a -256 favorite, and not prohibitive on the cost at $43. His Busch Stadium resume (1.78 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) inspires confidence, though he might miss Yadier Molina behind the plate.
Hopefully pitchers enjoyed the brief lull with Paul Goldschmidt; he’s been a monster again over the last two weeks (.333/.467/.708, four homers). I’ll pay the vanity price of $22, looking at a platoon edge against ordinary Robbie Erlin. We’ll also bring Yasmany Tomas ($9) along for the ride, as he has an .811 OPS against southpaws.
Xander Bogaerts ($17) is one reason Boston fans are excited about the 2016 season. He’s hitting .351 in the second half, and .377 against left-handers. Dial him up against Wei-Yin Chen.
Chris Young ($11) against any lefty (.952 OPS), you know that drill. John Danks is a good draw, but I'll play Young anytime the lefty-righty angle presents itself.
We can’t know the Dodgers backstop starter in the morning, but I’m fine to punt with Yasmany Grandal ($10) or A.J. Ellis ($9) in the thin air. You know the Colorado drill.
David Wright ($14) hasn’t been ridiculous since he returned to action, but a .298 average and .371 OBP, that will work. He’s in the platoon edge against John Lamb, which sounds good to me. Mets might be in a clinching mood.
Mostly we’re dialing up Eric Sogard because he’s inexpensive and fits the need for a punt, though he does have a silly slash (.346/.393/.654) over a brief September sample. He’ll make contact against Hudson.
The Red Sox are probably going bullpen game Saturday, so the platoon edge might not be constant for Steve Pearce ($8). Consider him just a placeholder for now - you’ll find a better option when the starters and lineup spots are known.
We’re off to a tidy 8-2 start ATS. But those two losing picks were rather awful, and I always assume anyone who isn’t listing their picks is undefeated. So it goes.
All selections use the Yahoo Pick’em Spread. The Carolina-New Orleans game was ruled off the board for our purposes, given the status of Drew Brews (the national line is around eight now; it wouldn’t be fair to jump on Carolina -3).
Ravens -2.5 versus Bengals: Love John Harbaugh in a back-to-the-wall game, especially with the number under three. Some under-the-hood power ratings (like Massey-Peabody) suggest Baltimore is much better than a usual 0-2 team. From a different context and perspective, I agree.
Colts -3.5 at Titans: So like Indianapolis to lose to the out-of-division physical teams, then beat up on its own division. Andrew Luck has better stats in the AFC South, too.
Eagles +2.5 at Jets: Philly has shown absolutely nothing in six of eight quarters and maybe this pick will look silly before 1:30 pm ET. But the Jets feel a little too obvious - and bandwagonish - and they're also banged up and off a short week.
Raiders +3.5 at Browns: The Football Gods will get even with the Browns for playing the wrong freaking quarterback. If Johnny Manziel were a rookie and you wanted to have him observe and learn, fine. But having a second-year quarterback do the headset-and-clipboard bit while one of the McCowns plays, that’s just stupid. Didn’t we watch Lovie Smith make this mistake last year? It’s like Mike Pettine gets a secret bonus if his team goes 8-8.
Seahawks -14.5 versus Bears: Normally any double-digit dog is worth backing in the NFL, no questions asked. But the Bears are getting the Seahawks at the wrong time, with the wrong quarterback. Seattle has to take it out on someone, and it will.
Last Week: 4-1
Fantasy Versus Reality
This year, two of my esteemed Yahoo colleagues are sharing their own selections, using the Yahoo Pick’em spread. Play along in the comments. Just remember, the Carolina-New Orleans game is off the board for our reasonable purposes.
Frank Schwab (4-1 last week, 6-4 season)
Eric Edholm (3-2 last week, 7-3 season)
With two wild-eyed McCown brothers set to start in the NFL, it’s a crazy Week 3. Let’s get a jump-start on the injury report. We will update this file Friday evening.
Although the Saints claim Drew Brees (shoulder) made progress every day, he has been ruled out for the Sunday game at Carolina. A charmed life for the Panthers: they’re facing Blake Bortles, Ryan Mallett and Luke McCown in consecutive weeks. Other than RB Mark Ingram, there isn’t a single New Orleans skill player I’d feel good about starting this week (and Ingram is merely slotted as a RB2 because that position is such a mess).
A late-afternoon shocker from Seattle: Marshawn Lynch has a calf injury and is a game-time call for Sunday against Chicago. Fred Jackson's stock takes a sizable jump. We'll keep close tabs on this one.
The Bears won’t have Jay Cutler (hamstring) or Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) for the ominous Week 3 trip to Seattle. Jimmy Clausen is the stand-in quarterback.
Eddie Lacy (ankle) did individual drills Friday, as expected. He's far from a sure thing for Monday's game against Kansas City, so have James Starks stashed away, as needed.
Although DeMarco Murray (hamstring) is listed as questionable, nothing is guaranteed for him, given the offensive line in front of him (playing rather poorly) and the nasty draw in front of him (the Jets). If you forced me to play a Philly running back this week, I’d gamble on Ryan Mathews.
The Jets consider Chris Ivory a game-time decision for Sunday. He’s dealing with groin and quad injuries. Bilal Powell is worth a speculative pickup in any league. Eric Decker (knee) is another game-time decision, though context clues suggest he’s closer to the doubtful side. I’d look for a different option right away.
Todd Gurley (knee) and Tre Mason both received first-team reps in the leadup to Sunday’s home date against Pittsburgh. Gurley seems likely to make his NFL debut this weekend, but it’s hard to say how many touches the Rams are ready to give him.
The Falcons weren’t optimistic about Tevin Coleman (ribs) all week, and he was officially scratched Friday. Devonta Freeman becomes the starting tailback at Dallas.
Andre Ellington (knee) is listed as doubtful and remains on a week-to-week watch. He won't play against San Francisco.
The Texans welcomed DeAndre Hopkins (post concussion) back to practice Friday, though he still needs to pass a baseline test before he’s cleared for the home date against Tampa Bay. Arian Foster (groin) remains week-to-week; he's out for Sunday.
Ladarius Green is coming off a pair of concussions and while he’s listed as questionable on the injury report, I wouldn’t risk a thing on him for Sunday. The Chargers are two weeks away from getting Antonio Gates back.
Delanie Walker (wrist) appears ready to return to action. The Titans list him as probable.
Dwayne Allen (ankle) is a no-go for Week 3, which should lead to more opportunity for the thus-far invisible Coby Fleener.
Jason Witten (knee/ankle) is expected to go Sunday, par for the course with him. He’s listed as probable. Remember his rookie year, when he played through a busted jaw?
To help your Week 3 cause (full season or daily), here's a few players I expect to look better/worse this coming weekend. Best of luck!
QB - Marcus Mariota, Ten vs Ind ($34 in DFS) - Through two weeks, Mariota stands as the No. 3 fantasy QB in the Yahoo game (default scoring). He leads all starters in QB Rating and has yet to throw an INT. This week, he'll face an Indy defense that has injury issues with its starting corners (Vontae Davis, Greg Toler). The Colts have allowed the 9th-highest QB Rating to opposing signal callers, so far, and that was against Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Mariota has a great shot at delivering back-end QB1 results this week, especially if he finally flashes some of that mobility that he has kept under wraps to this point (5 carries, 25 yards).
RB - Danny Woodhead, SDG at Min ($18) - Woodhead is averaging 14.5 touches per game, and I suspect he'll land a little north of that number this weekend in Minnesota. The Vikings employ one of the better pass defenses in the league, and San Diego could be playing with a man down in the passing game (TE Ladarius Green is questionable following a concussion). The Vikings are allowing 4.7 YPC to the RB position and, in addition to leaning on his skills as one of the better receiving backs in the league, I think the Chargers will look to go run heavy with the combo of rookie Melvin Gordon and Woodhead. I'd be surprised if Woodhead doesn't combine for at least 80 yards, and his usage in the red zone (5th among RBs in combined RZ rushes and targets) makes him a decent bet to find pay dirt, as well.
RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cle vs. Oak ($19) - I like both Cleveland backs (Duke Johnson is $11 in DFS) this week against an Oakland defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the RB position. In Week 1, Cincy, facing Oakland, placed both Jeremy Hill (No. 5) and Giovani Bernard (No. 25) among the top 25 fantasy running backs. I can see Crowell at least repeating last week's numbers (15/72/1) and, on an expected 12-15 touches, I think Johnson has a solid chance for 80-100 total yards.
WR - Donte Moncrief, Ind at Ten ($19) - Despite the fact that he oozes athleticism and currently ranks as the No. 7 fantasy WR, fantasy owners have yet to go all in on Moncrief (still available in a quarter of Yahoo leagues). If you have been holding out, it's time to dive into the free agent pool and grab hold of the emerging second-year wideout. Andre Johnson is already looking like a failed expirement in career resuscitation, having secured just seven of the 17 targets that QB Andrew Luck has afforded him - Johnson rankis 117th in ProFootballFocus' grading of how receivers have faired in the passing game, thus far. The Colts are at a point where they can't afford to let talented, productive players take a backseat, and Moncrief is both of those things. He's already made a few big plays, and against a Tennessee secondary that allowed two touchdowns of 50-plus yards to Cleveland's Travis Benjamin last week, you have to like his chances of coming up big once again.
WR - Allen Hurns, Jac @ NE ($16) - Hurns has hit the 60-yard mark in both of his first two games, and I believe game flow (as in the Jaguars taking to the air often to try and keep pace with the Pats) could push Hurns to 80-100 yard heaights in Week 3. He's an excellent flex flyer this week.
TE - Eric Ebron, Det vs. Den ($14) - Ebron has managed to find the end zone in both of his games, and last week he was targeted a healthy 10 times. According to ProFootballFocus, Matthew Stafford has been the second-most pressured QB (behind Colin Kaepernick) to this point, and he's unlikely to get any relief this week against a relentless Denver pass rush that also boasts two of the best cover corners in the league in Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. In this setup, I'm expecting Ebron, as a quick release option off the line in Stafford's crosshairs over the middle, to again see a heavy target load. KC tight ends combined for over 120 receiving yards against Denver last week, further reason to view Ebron in a glass half full manner.
QB - Philip Rivers, SDG at Min ($36) - Last week, I placed Matthew Stafford in this spot, in large part because of a road matchup against a talented Minnesota secondary. Stafford finished as the No. 16 fantasy QB, so the "Sit" nomination worked out, but Stafford would have been much worse if not for garbage time (47 passing yards and a TD came on Detroit's final drive). This week, I'll stick with the formula, as it's Rivers' turn to travel to Minnesota, and he could be without TE Ladarius Green, a top 10 fantasy TE, so far, who has suffered two concussions this month. This is shaping up to be a game in which Rivers leans heavily on the backfield (Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead). Like Stafford, he might be able to deliver a couple scoring tosses along the way, but I don't expect the yardage to be anything special, and there's decent potential for him to keep his streak of at least two turnovers (now at five games) in tact.
RB - Carlos Hyde, SF at Ari ($30) - Hyde came crashing back to Earth in Week 2 after being the toast of fantasy with a huge Week 1 performance. Many owners may not have a deep enough RB arsenal to sit someone with Hyde's role and ability, but he's dealing with a bruised thigh, not to mention an opponent allowing just 3.3 YPC to RBs. Given Hyde's struggles in Pittsburgh last week, it's hard to imagine he's going to do better in Arizona.
RB - Doug Martin, TB at Hou ($19) - Houston has been strong against the run, thus far, holding opposing RBs to just 3.8 YPC - it held Jamaal Charles and Jonathan Stewart to 57 yards and 62 yards, respectively. This week, J.J. Watt and company will face a Buccaneers offensive line that has graded out as the worst run blocking unit in the league, according to ProFootballFocus. Advantage Texans.Wither Doug Martin.
WR - Golden Tate, Det vs. Den ($24) - As you may have been able to deduce from the Ebron write up (above), I'm not a big fan of the Detroit receivers this week - up against Denver corners Harris and Talib, and especially considering how little time Stafford has been afforded. The Broncos have held Steve Smith and Jeremy Maclin to a combined 70 yards and no touchdowns this season. From a yardage standpoint, the Broncos willl likely do a number on both Tate and Calvin Johnson, though Johnson at least gives you decent shot at a touchdown. Tate has just one in his past 10 regular season games.
WR - Brandin Cooks, NO at Car ($21) - Even if Drew Brees (shoulder) plays this week, Cooks will be an ill-advised start. He's been drawing the attention of the opposition's top coverman, and this week that's likely to be Panthers CB Josh Norman, the No. 2 rated corner in pass coverage (behind Talib) according to ProFootballFocus. The Saints passing game is a mess right now sans Jimmy Graham (and Kenny Stills). Brees doesn't look like he's on the same page with any of his receivers, yet, and this could be aunit that doesn't start hitting its stride until the second half of the season. Until then, be prepared to bench Cooks in the tougher matchups, like this week.
TE - Martellus Bennett, Chi at Sea ($15) - Ok, I have to put at least one Bears player on the sit list so I can use the space to talk about the red light designation for all parts of the Chicago passing game in a Jimmy Clausen world. Seattle is a two touchdown favorite in this game, the kind of spread you rarely see in the NFL. I expect Chicago to try its best to run the ball and, when not running the ball, it's going to be almost all dink-n-dunk in the passing game. With Clausen likely to finish in the 150-175 yards passing range, Matt Forte is probably the only Bears player I'd be considering this week, because he could end up being Clausen's leading receiver, too.
Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains is back just in time for the weekend! Last week I went 3-2, hitting on RB Karlos Williams, WR Marvin Jones, and TE Crockett Gillmore. This week there are a lot of banged up tight ends, so I’m mixing things up and offering two options at the position.
This week’s parcel of players is owned in less than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues (one of them is completely un-owned). They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills ($18)
The Rex Ryan led Bills don’t exactly boast a high-volume passing offense, but of the team’s receivers, Clay has been the most consistent. He was second in team targets in both weeks one and two, finding the end zone last Sunday in Buffalo’s eight-point loss to New England. A reliable check down option for a quarterback who got sacked eight times in Week 2, Clay could see an increased role at Miami this coming Sunday.
The Dolphins’ secondary has some real issues, as Allen Robinson owners enthusiastically discovered last weekend. Over two weeks, Miami’s pass defense has given up a total 461 yards through the air. In Week 1, the Phins proved weak against the middle of the field, gifting TE Jordan Reed with a 7-63-1 stat line. Add in the fact that Clay should be motivated to perform against his old team and, all of a sudden, the 6-foot-3 and 255 pound tight ends has real streaming appeal.
Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts ($14)
Dwayne Allen is far and away the superior option over the middle in Indianapolis. However, he’s probably going to be in street clothes on Sunday afternoon. Allen exited last Monday night’s tilt against the Jets with an ankle injury and has yet to practice so far this week. If Allen is indeed out, Fleener should receive a massive uptick in targets.
In Week 11 of last season, Allen suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him sidelined through Week 13. In that time, Fleener produced two 100 plus yard outings and scored a pair of touchdowns. When Allen missed the final regular season contest of 2014, Fleener once again showed up, finding the end zone two separate times.
Teammates dating back to their college days, Luck and Fleener share an obvious familiarity with one and other. Given Chuck Pagano’s recent statements about needing to get the tight ends more involved in tandem with Allen’s current affliction it seems supremely probable that Fleener will garner a good amount of attention from his quarterback this weekend.
Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys ($13)
In two short weeks, Dallas has lost both of its most valuable players. As a result, Brandon Weeden will be starting under center for the ‘Boys this Sunday. In an attempt to hide his quarterback’s ineptitudes, I have to imagine that Scott Linehan will attempt to focus on the ground game. While this may mean more opportunities for Joseph Randle, I think Dunbar is the sneaky play in this backfield.
With Dez Bryant on the shelf and Jason Witten all kinds of banged up, Weeden’s passing options will be decidedly limited. Yet Dunbar has proven to be an integral part of this passing attack, catching 11 of 13 targets for a total of 115 receiving yards. Facing a Falcons defense that gave up seven catches for 76 yards to Darren Sproles in Week 1, and then eight catches for another 76 yards in Week 2 to Shane Vereen, it seems likely that Dunbar could put up similar numbers. If that were that the case, Dunbar could be RB1 fodder in PPR formats this week.
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Rishard Matthews, WR, Miami Dolphins ($12)
With Kenny Stills disappointing and DeVante Parker coming back from foot surgery, Matthews has emerged as Ryan Tannehill’s second favorite target. Jarvis Landry remains the apple of Tanny’s eye, but over the past two weeks Matthews has gobbled up looks, catching 10 of 13 targets for 149 yards and a score. Currently the WR17 in fantasy, Matthews presents above average size, reliable hands, and solid after the catch ability.
This week he’ll matchup against the Bills who have allowed five passing scores so far this season. Admittedly three of them came with Tom Brady under center, but it’s still reasonable to expect Tannehill to find traction via the air. After all Bill Lazor called 631 passing plays in 2014 and his lead running back (Lamar Miller) is currently battling an ankle injury. My best guess is that Rex Ryan will try to limit Jarvis Landry, which should free things up for Matthews. Given that Jordan Cameron is also banged up, this under the radar receiver figures to be a target hog who could easily sneak into the end zone for the second time in just three contests.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cleveland Browns ($12)
After finding the end zone four times in two weeks, Travis Benjamin is the toast of the Browns receiving core. What’s interesting, however, is that the bulk of Benjamin’s production has come with Johnny Manziel under center. The two certainly have a brah-licious rapport, but Johnny Football isn’t getting the start this Sunday. Rather, the much less reckless Josh McCown will be signal calling for Cleveland, giving the speedy Baby Hawk a potential boost in value.
Hawkins has actually led the team in targets and has the same number of receptions as Benjamin. His average depth of target, however, is nearly half of Benjamin’s, which helps to explain the vast difference in yardage totals. This week he should start to pad those stats while being covered by CB D.J. Hayden, who has struggled mightily since the season opener.
Over two weeks Hayden has allowed 12 receptions on 17 targets. A bottom ten cornerback as ranked by Pro Football Focus, Hayden is proving to be another leak in Oakland’s sinking secondary. While the Browns are likely to lean on the run, I expect McCown to target Hawkins early and often. He may not reach the end zone, but he should rack up enough catches to pay off in PPR formats.
We're searching for profit potential in the Friday slate, per the usual protocol. As always, we encourage you to review the MLB weather reports before finalizing lineups.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, at Cin (DeSclafani), $16: Murphy has been a multi-hit machine in recent days, plus he's enjoyed his limited experience facing DeSclafani (2-for-3, HR). Eleven of the 15 homers allowed by DeSclafani this season have been hit by left-handed batters.
Aaron Hicks, OF, at Det (Boyd), $10: Hicks has been a monster against southpaws this year, slashing .315/.382/.522 with six homers in 92 at-bats. Boyd isn't exactly a lights-out lefty (1.60 WHIP, 14 HR in 48.2 IP). At $10, I'm in.
San Diego LHBs, various positions, vs. Ari (De La Rosa): Let's hope Yangervis Solarte (hamstring) is available for this one, because he's been excellent lately (.354/.398/.549 this month) and he's enjoyed facing Rubby (4-for-10, two doubles). We basically mention it every week, but it's worth mentioning, again, that LHBs have crushed Rubby: .947 OPS, 20 HR in 353 at-bats.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. LAD (Bolsinger), $18: Sure, I'll take a 37-homer bat for $18, playing in a park where he's hitting .285/.343/.592. LHBs are reaching base at a .361 clip against Bolsinger.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, at Hou (Kazmir), $19: Choo has a tremendous history against Kazmir (7-for-24, HR, 5 BBs), and, as you may have noticed, he's been ludicrously hot at the plate. He's 31-for-74 in September with 18 walks, seven extra-base hits and 17 runs-scored. I'm happy to buy him at less than $20.
Houston LHBs, various positions, vs. Tex (Gallardo): Left-handed hitters have slashed a respectable .274/.340/.424 against Gallardo, and a few Astros have hit him particularly well. Jason Castro hasn't had much trouble with him (7-for-20, HR, 3 BB), nor have Colby Rasmus (7-for-22, 2 HR, 7 BB) or Luis Valbuena (9-for-28). Pick a favorite and enjoy.
Carlos Martinez, P, vs. Mil (Pena), $50: This pitching matchup tilts overwhelmingly in the Cards' favor, and Martinez has delivered back-to-back excellent starts (14.2 IP, 8 H, 15 Ks). He's pricey, sure, but not the most expensive arm in the pool.
To be clear, Matt Jones doesn't even come close to qualifying as a "flier," not by the definition we try to use around here (in the neighborhood of 35 percent owned, or less). He blew up in Week 2, rushing for 123 yards and two scores. He was thus added in over 395,000 Yahoo leagues on Wednesday. Jones was, at least in my mind, the obvious No. 1 priority pick-up this week, a plausible fantasy starter on Thursday night. We shouldn't need to talk you into starting a breakout back you just claimed off the wire. But if you need a pep talk, here goes...
Jones out-carried Alfred Morris on Sunday by a narrow margin, 19 to 18, but he more than doubled his teammate's rushing yardage, 123 to 59. The rookie is an explosive runner coming off a terrific preseason (7.0), and his O-line was opening wide lines against the Rams in Week 2. Jones is a big back (6-foot-2, 230) who appears to play much faster than his timed speed. If you're at all worried that last Sunday's 50/50 workload split between Jones and Morris was an anomalous occurrence, then we'll direct you to recent comments from Coach Gruden:
“There will be some games where maybe it won’t happen like that but our plan is to keep both backs fresh,” Gruden said. “I intend on them both getting plenty of touches. [Running Backs] Coach Randy Jordan does a great job with the substitution pattern. I don’t really care who’s in there. They’re both very, very good football players as long as they’re fresh.”
When things go according to script for Washington, Jones will see plenty of work. He's available at a friendly price in Yahoo's daily game ($17) and facing a Giants defense that allowed the eighth most fantasy points to RBs last season. Don't be surprised if Jones sees 12-15 touches (or more), delivering another spike. If you added him this week, flex him.
Now let's consider someone who's more of a true flier, lightly owned and rarely started...
Larry Donnell, TE, New York Giants (37 percent owned, $13 in Yahoo daily)
One year ago, nearly to the day, Donnell erupted for seven catches and three touchdowns at Washington. Of course there's no reason to think that Donnell owns any special advantage over Washington's D — he produced a far less impressive fantasy line in the second meeting last season (2-11-0) — but prior success against an opponent certainly isn't a negative. Donnell saw six targets in last week's home loss to the Falcons, catching four balls, with a TD included. It would be a small surprise if he didn't draw 5-7 looks on Thursday night, with one or two opportunities inside-the-10. If you find yourself scrambling to replace, say, Ladarius Green (concussion), Dwayne Allen (ankle) or another ailing tight end, Donnell is a respectable option.
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 the upcoming season.
Yahoo DFS Bargain Bin. What cheaply priced RB/WR/TE will turn the biggest profit in Week 1?
Brad – MATT JONES ($17). There is no other rusher with more Week 3 potential for less than an Andrew Jackson. Jones is a menacing downhill runner with plus burst, excellent short-field wiggle and reliable hands. Alfred Morris hasn't passed off the baton yet, but it would be a shock if Jay Gruden didn't feed him some 13-15 times Thursday night. Against a Giants D that's conceded 5.5 yards per touch to RBs thus far, he's a strong bet for 75-85 total yards and a score. Hop aboard 'The Motorhome.'
Andy – ISAIAH CROWELL ($19) gets the Raiders at home, and he's coming off a sneaky-good game (15-72-1). I doubt the game-flow will tilt away from him in this matchup, so I'm expecting another 15-plus carries, with a fair chance of multiple spikes. (Honorable mention: GRONK, while expensive, is probably the WR/TE most likely to score multiple touchdowns.)
Scott – As much as I respect the Chiefs defense, if Eddie Lacy is a no-go Monday (and the flow isn't going his way right now), JAMES STARKS ($12) is the easiest punch of the week.
Liz – BRANDON MARSHALL ($25). Over two weeks, Marshall has racked up 163 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Week 1 he beat Cleveland’s vaunted CB Joe Hayden on a scoring grab. In Week 2 he flustered CB Vontae Davis before Indy’s shutdown corner left the game with a concussion. After Davis exited the contest, Marshall feasted on a buffet of back-up talent. This coming weekend he figures to be a ball hog with Eric Decker likely out of the lineup. Additionally, Byron Maxwell – who Pro Football Focus has gifted with the sixth worst coverage rating – is expected to cover the rejuvenated veteran receiver for the majority of his snaps.
Brandon – DUKE JOHNSON ($11). Johnson picked up 12 carries last week, the kind of workload that should pay out nicely against a still-cruddy Raiders defense this week. And I expect Cleveland, last in the league in RB receptions (2), to also finally get Johnson in the mix in the passing game. Gio Bernard picked up 88 yards from scrimmage against Oakland in Week 1, and I can envision Johnson (who has drawn Bernard comparisons) posting similar numbers, with the possibility of breaking something loose for a TD.
Dalton – DONTE MONCRIEF ($19) is fast becoming a major part of Indy's offense. The Colts have struggled through two games, but I fully expect them to return to being one of the best in the NFL, likely as soon as Sunday when they face a Titans secondary that's yielded 8.0 YPA so far. I have Moncrief as a top-15 wide receiver this week, but he's not priced nearly as such.
Conversely, what player, at any position, are you fading hard in Week 2?
Andy – CALVIN JOHNSON is an all-time receiver, but I'm not messing with him against Denver's D. The Broncos still haven't allowed a passing score. Upside for all Detroit skill players is limited here.
Dalton – DEMARCO MURRAY ($32) is banged up, but I'd list him here even if he were 100% healthy. He's gained 11 yards on 21 rushing attempts this season and goes up against a Jets defense that's allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Murray is still listed here as the seventh most expensive RB, the same as Jamaal Charles.
Scott – MIKE EVANS ($28) is not someone I'm willing to play on spec at the moment. When he shows me he's healthy and somewhat in sync with Jameis Winston, fine, I'll reevaluate. But there's too much downside in the meantime. His Week 2 bagel sunk a lot of overzealous DFS and seasonal owners.
Liz – GOLDEN TATE ($24). Coming off of an injured quad with a banged up Matt Stafford under center and Chris Harris breathing down his neck? Yikes.
Brandon – LAMAR MILLER ($29). Not only are the Dolphins struggling to get anything going on the ground (Miller posted a 10/14 line last week), but Miller is dealing with a sore ankle and he's facing maneater Marcell Dareus and the Bills defense. No thanks ...
Brad – MATT FORTE ($35). If you like burning Benjamins, by all means, invest in any Chicago Bear this week, including the usually reliable Forte. The stage is set for a Little Bighorn-type massacre in Seattle. The Seahawks, embarrassed defensively in Weeks 1 and 2, are 0-2 and motivated to turn their slow start around. Meanwhile, future cell-phone salesman, Jimmy Clausen, is under center for the Bears. Ummm, stacked boxes? Forte may catch upwards of 6-7 passes, but anticipate modest yardage overall. Seattle has limited opposing rushers to 3.73 yards per carry this year. Avoid.
Brandin Cooks, who has owners ready to press the eject button, receptions at Carolina with or without a bum shouldered Drew Brees 4.5.
Dalton – UNDER. Even if Brees plays, he'll likely be at far less than full health, and Cooks is dealing with an ankle injury himself that's cost him practice time this week. He's been highly unimpressive through two games and faces a Carolina secondary that's yielded an NFL-low 4.4 YPA this season.
Scott – UNDER. No healthy player has disappointed me more in the first two weeks. Blame the Brees wing, blame the Payton offense if you want, fine. But I have shifted into "believe it when I see it" mode with Cooks.
Brandon – UNDER. Cooks has been often drawing the top corner from the opposition, so there's a high likelihood he'll be seeing a whole lot of Carolina CB Josh Norman, not a good thing for his fantasy upside. Maybe Cooks can get to 5-plus catches, but the point here is that they aren't likely to amount to much.
Hotshot rookie David Johnson, who Bruce Arians claims that his role will grow little-by-little each week, total touches, excluding returns, against San Francisco 11.5.
Scott – UNDER, because when teams are winning, there's often little incentive to change the game plan. You run the risk of a coach thinking that splashy plays are coming *because* of the usage patterns, not *in spite* of them. See Todd Haley and Jamal Charles in Kansas City a few years back.
Brandon – OVER. The rookie has made something happen just about every time he's touched the ball, scoring on the ground, through the air and in the return game, thus far. In a game that should be a little more contentious than the first two, I expect Arizona to give him more opportunities to work his big-play magic.
Liz – OVER. Yes, Bruce Arians favors veteran players, but David Johnson has touched the ball a mere seven times and has already racked up 100 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs (and that’s not including his 108 yard score on last Sunday’s opening kickoff). His playmaking ability is too good to ignore, especially in contrast to CJMehK’s 3.6 YPC. This Sunday he’ll face off against a 49ers defense that gave up three scores to a 32-year-old DeAngelo Williams. I’m projecting 13 total touches for the younger Johnson (10 on the ground and three through the air) for a total of 82 yards and a touch.
With Jason Witten a possible injury casualty and Austin Seferian-Jenkins donezo for the next 4-6 weeks, what under 50 percent owned TE is worth picking up and plugging in: Crockett Gillmore (vs. Cin), Richard Rodgers (vs. KC), Ladarius Green (at Min), Eric Ebron (vs. Den) or WILDCARD?
Liz – CHARLES CLAY. Second in team targets for back-to-back weeks, Clay is figuring to be a solid security blanket for QB Tyrod Taylor. In Week 2 he put up TE1 fantasy numbers, hauling in three of his five targets for 19 yards and a score. This coming Sunday he’ll head back to his old stomping grounds and try to make good against a secondary that gifted Jacksonville receiver Allen Robinson with a 155 yard and 2 TD day.
Brad – RICHARD RODGERS. The Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection is starting to gain momentum. Aaron continues to lock in on the oversized target near the goal-line, evident last Sunday night against Seattle. In a game where a pushover KC D should get blitzed vertically, Richard is a good bet to splash pay-dirt for the second straight week.
Scott – CROCKETT GILLMORE is your huckleberry. He didn't just run past and around the Raiders, he ran through them en route to last week's breakout game. And he's now the No. 2 option on the Baltimore passing tree, a rank these other guys can't match.
DeMarco Murray, who has totaled a blistering 9 rush yards in two games, the same number as Andy Dalton, combined rush/receiving yards on the road against the Jets 59.5.
Brandon – UNDER. This is more about Murray's health than it is what I'd expect him to do if fully healthy. If Murray plays, I'd be worried about his ability to shoulder the load without a setback with his hammy. Under healthy circumstances, I'd go Over here because Murray is versatile and can easily pad his numbers with 30-50 receiving yards. And I have no doubt that the Eagles have added some new wrinkles in the run game to get that attack out of the mud.
Liz – UNDER. Murray has looked slow since the start of the season, and now he’s tweaked his hammy. Additionally, Chip Kelly’s makeshift offensive line is porous at best, receiving negative grades from Pro Football Focus. Plus, the Jets defense is stout, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to RBs.
Brad – UNDER. TEN of Murray's 21 carries this season have gone for 1-yard or less. You read that correctly, TEN. Behind Philly's shoddy offensive line and given Chip Kelly's sudden lack of imagination, he's must-sit material against the Jets. New York has allowed a mere 2.86 yards per carry to RBs this year. Oh how quickly the mighty can fall.
QB Cheapies. Pick one: Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Phi), Nick Foles (vs. Pit), Marcus Mariota (vs. Ind), Ryan Mallett (vs. TB), Blake Bortles (at NE) or Andy Dalton (at Bal) ?
Brad – FITZMAGIC. Admittedly, I'm on the record for loving Foles, but to shake things up, give me Captain Caveman. Philly's ineptitude against the pass poses a problem, with or without Eric Decker. Against Byron Maxwell, who's given up a 78.9 catch rate and 153.8 QB rating to his assignments, Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall connect roughly 2,346 times for a billion yards and multiple touchdowns.
Dalton – MARIOTA. I have him at least one tier ahead of the rest of this group, as the Colts' offense will likely bounce back and put up points, whereas their defense remains highly questionable. It's a good setup for the rookie.
Andy – MARIOTA, please. He's playing at home and the Colts have a serious shortage of healthy corners. There's a very good chance Tennessee falls into a shootout in this one. I doubt Indy's D will hold the Titans below, say, 24 points.
WR head-to-head. Pick one to roster rest of season: Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Anquan Boldin, Charles Johnson or Percy Harvin.
Andy – BOLDIN. His game is aging well enough, plus he remains the closest thing to a No. 1 receiver on this team. I'd grudgingly accept RODDY or ANDRE (17 targets), too. You can have the rest.
Dalton – WHITE. Leonard Hankerson had the much bigger game last week, but White actually led all Atlanta wide receivers in snaps. It remains a nice setup on a team with a strong passing attack and a mediocre defense and running game. White has the upside to be big if Julio Jones were to go down as well.
Scott – BOLDIN. I will never dispute that man's will to be great. When do the Colts move Johnson to offensive tackle? He runs about as well as one.
Matt Forte, who is bound to see overloaded boxes with Jimmy Clausen under center, total rush/receiving yards this week in Seattle 89.5.
Andy – OVER, slightly. Let's give him an empty 94 total yards on maybe 26 touches, with zero spikes. This game really should not be close.
Dalton – UNDER. Forte has looked terrific this season, but the Bears have been vocal about not overworking their 29-year-old back, so I could see him sitting out most of the second half in a game that could get ugly fast.
Brandon – UNDER. With Clausen behind center, if the Bears offense isn't a trainwreck on Sunday, I'll be shocked.
Fill in the blank. _________, under 50-percent owned in Yahoo leagues, has the most shocker special appeal in Week 3 (Any position).
Brad – CECIL SHORTS. He's surprisingly recorded 20 targets through two games. Ryan Mallett is piss poor, but should make strides in his second start. Tampa's unimpressive secondary also lends hope for a breakthrough performance. DBs Alterraun Verner and Jonathan Banks both rank outside the top-50 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. A top-30 effort might be in the cards.
Andy – TYLER LOCKETT. Have you seen Chicago's kick coverage? How about Chicago's defense? Lockett won't need many touches to make noise in this one. He's gonna have a Travis Benjamin-ish game, soon.
Liz – LANCE DUNBAR. Owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo leagues, Dunbar is a sneaky PPR play in Week 3. Currently the RB21 in PPR leagues, Dunbar has dominated the pass-catching duties in Dallas’ backfield. With Brandon Weeden under center and TE Jason Witten banged up, I think he’ll see a lot of check down action. Plus, his match against the Falcons – who gave up 76 yards to receiving RBs in back-to-back weeks – is delectable.
Scott – With the Patriots more focused on Allen Robinson, ALLEN "The Hit Man" HURNS will make a few big plays in Foxboro this Sunday. Ah, garbage time.
Michael Wacha, SP, vs. Mil (Jungmann), $45: He has a 3.03 ERA and 1.16 WHIP at home this season, and the Cardinals are heavy favorites Thursday (-185). Wacha is reasonably priced here.
Wade Miley, SP, vs. TB (Ramirez), $41: He sports a 4.1 K:BB ratio at home this year and is facing a Tampa Bay offense that’s scored the fewest runs in the American League.
Tom Murphy, C, vs. Pit (Locke), $9: The rookie has homered in three straight games and has the platoon advantage. He’s also super cheap but beware there’s a chance Murphy is rested in an afternoon contest after catching a night game.
Prince Fielder, 1B, at Oak (Bassitt), $13: He owns a .335/.409/.488 line against righties this season yet 16 first basemen are priced higher during Thursday’s slate.
Neil Walker, 2B, $17; Josh Harrison, 3B, $11; Jordy Mercer, SS, $14; Gregory Polanco, OF, $17 all at Col (Bettis): Obviously I’m advocating a Coors Field stack if you’re playing the early slate. It’s not exactly contrarian going with hitters in Colorado, but there are some especially affordable prices Thursday (this would total us at five with Murphy). Opposing starter Chad Bettis has a 5.20 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 10 starts at home this season.
Jason Heyward, OF, vs. Mil (Jungmann), $16: He has 11 homers, 15 stolen bases and a .357 OBP over 365 at bats when facing right-handed pitchers this year.
Mookie Betts, OF, vs. TB (Ramirez), $17: Arbitrary endpoint and all, he’s been on fire of late, posting a .391/.443/.632 line over his past 21 games. Betts has been terrific all season at home, where he’s posted an .889 OPS while scoring 49 runs over just 272 at bats.
Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom 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 (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 13 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 3 Lames in the comments section below.
See Also: Week 3 Flames
Matt Ryan, Atl, QB (82 percent started, $42 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Dal
'Tango and Cash.' 'Turner and Hooch.' 'Thelma and Louise ...' The next great buddy movie headed for the big screen might just be 'Quintorris and Ice.' Julio Jones and Ryan have been nearly inseparable to start the season. Only the Ben Roethilsberger-to-Antonio Brown combo has proven deadlier. Through two games, the pair have connected 22 times for 276 yards and two touchdowns. However, that production was generated against two forgiving defenses, Philly and New York. As we've seen thus far, Dallas is an entirely different defensive animal. After losing top cover corner Orlando Scandrick to an ACL/MCL, most predicted doom and gloom in Big D. Sadly, it's the offense, which has already lost Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, that's stepped foot into a post-apocalyptic world. DC Rod Marinelli has done wonders. He's ratcheted up pressure, forced numerous turnovers and halted drives. Collectively, the Cowboys have given up a mere 5.71 pass yards per attempt, one passing touchdown and the second-fewest fantasy points to QBs. Starting corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have surrendered only 7.5 yards per catch to their assignments. Julio, when healthy, is practically invincible, but if the Dallas secondary clamps down in similar fashion as they did Odell Beckham Jr. Week 1 (8-5-44-0), it will be a very vanilla day for Ryan.
Fearless Forecast: 25-39, 256 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 16.2 fantasy points
DeMarco Murray, Phi, RB (97 percent started, $32)
Matchup: at NYJ
Revenge is a dish best served ... perfectly cooked. Against his former employer last Sunday, Murray succumbed to one backfield drag-down after another. Chip Kelly's surprisingly lack of creativity combined with Philly's shoddy offensive line had the high-priced rusher's pants around his ankles. Including that deplorable performance, 10 of his first 21 rush attempts of the season have gone for 1, zero or negative yards. His 11 total rush yards are equal to Rex Burkhead ... errr ... Andy Dalton. Equally concerning, he's occasionally surrendered playing time to Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews seeing just 57.4 percent of the Eagles snaps. If not for a pair of touchdowns Week 1, we would be talking about arguably the worst start by a reigning fantasy RB king in the virtual game's history. And don't expect a quick turnaround. The road to respectability gets tougher for Murray. Pizza rat probably couldn't find a crease in New York's ironclad defensive line. The Jets have yielded just 2.88 yards per carry to RBs thus far. Linebacker David Harris has already accounted for eight stops, the third-most at his position. Suffice it to say, Todd Bowels' teachings, which made Arizona one of the most cast-iron run Ds in the league under his direction, have taken hold. Unless the Old Chipster resurrects a half-dozen orcs to throw blocks, it will be another long, frustrating day for DeMarco. And this is assuming the RB plays. He left practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury. Give me Dion Lewis (vs. Jax), Matt Jones (at NYG) and Chris Ivory (vs. Phi) instead.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 31 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6.4 fantasy points
Matt Forte, Chi, RB (99 percent started, $35)
Matchup: at Sea
The forces working against the two-time Pro Bowl selection are high in number: 1) Gravity, which impacts us all. 2) An 0-2 Seattle team returns home angry and hungry, 3) Arena League-level QB Jimmy Clausen will man the ship with Jay Cutler sidelined meaning stacked boxes will be aplenty, 4) The Bears offensive line has at times been a sieve, especially in pass-blocking, 5) Making matters worse, Kam Chancellor is no longer on his self-appointed hiatus. Most believe he'll suit up Sunday. Oh the carnage. Off the blocks, Forte is up to his same old tricks. He's been the workhorse operating as one of the game's ultimate dual threats. Against Green Bay and Arizona he totaled 271 combined yards on 48 touches with a touchdown, a productive line that has him ranked No. 4 among fantasy RBs. Though he'll again carry the mail, the situation, as discussed, is the antithesis of ideal. James Starks ran well against Seattle in absence of Eddie Lacy last Sunday night, but the 'Hawks have yielded only 3.37 yards per carry and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to RBs overall. Bear down indeed.
Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 58 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 34 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 11.7 fantasy points
Calvin Johnson, Det, WR (99 percent started, $31)
Matchup: vs. Den
I detest the 'Always Start Your Studs' theory. For the unfamiliar, it's the close-minded belief that any historically productive brand name MUST be started regardless of matchup. As repeatedly stated in this space over the years, no player is immune from down weeks. Not a single one. And who's to say Megatron, coming off an uneventful, injury-limited 2014, is still stud material? After getting pinched by Jason Verrett and the Chargers Week 1, Johnson responded with a sterling 10-83-1 effort (on 17 targets) last week in Minnesota. Xavier Rhodes and friends were body slammed, to say the least. Still, this week's matchup is incredibly daunting. Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, who each rank inside the top-six in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus, have given up a combined 30.9 QB rating, 57.8 catch percentage and 7.92 yards per catch to their assignments. Safety Darian Stewart has been equally spectacular checking in at No. 1 in coverage at his position. Throw in Matthew Stafford's ill health (ribs/back) and general ineptitude along with Denver's relentless pass rush and it's plain to see why I have Calvin ranked outside my top-24 WRs for Week 3. Fade all day in DFS.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 63 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.3 fantasy points
Andre Johnson, Ind, WR (71 percent started, $22)
Matchup: at Ten
The 34-year-old is going the way of your grandpa. Much like the Colts offense as a whole, he's looked slow, stiff and ineffective. Tee times, bridge tournaments and strained peas are in his near future. He did see a fair amount of targets (17) against the Bills and Jets, but he recorded only seven receptions for 51 yards. Whippersnapper Donte Moncrief, who has turned the fantasy football world on its ear, has undoubtedly passed him by. This week, the veteran will place another toe in the grave. Under septuagenarian Dick LeBeau, the Titans defense has tightened up. Per PFF, Perish Cox (No. 10), Coty Sensabaugh (No. 33) and Blidi Wreh-Wilson (No. 38) all rank inside the top-40 in pass coverage. In total, the trio has conceded the ninth-fewest fantasy points to WRs and a lowly 42.8 catch percentage. Granted they did face a Mike Evans-less Buccaneers squad Week 1 and Cleveland in Week 2, but they're certainly better than advertised. Andrew Luck should get his groove back on the road, but count on the withering Johnson to again play a minimized role. Doug Baldwin (vs. Chi), Cecil Shorts (vs. TB) and Michael Crabtree (at Cle) own more Week 3 upside.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7.0 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: 9-6, 60%
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).
Bartolo Colon, SP, vs. Atl (Perez), $44: He has a 1.21 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP over his last six appearances (five starts), with a 5:1 K:BB ratio over 37.1 innings. The Braves have also scored by far the fewest runs in baseball this season. The Mets are the third-most favored team on the board during Wednesday’s slate.
Kyle Hendricks, SP, vs. Mil (Davies), $38: He’s coming off a rough start but owns a 3.56 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a 69:19 K:BB ratio over 73.1 innings at home this year. Meanwhile, opposing starter Zach Davies sports a 14:12 K:BB ratio this season, and the Cubs are the second-most favored team Wednesday.
John Jaso, C, at Bos (Porcello), $12: He has a .368 OBP when facing righties, usually bats atop Tampa Bay’s lineup and will be playing in a terrific hitter’s park.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, vs. Ari (Anderson), $16: He has 24 homers over 390 at bats against right-handed pitchers and owns a .444/.615/.778 career line against Chase Anderson. He seems like a steal at just $16.
Addison Russell, 2B, (Davies), $9: The rookie should be in the lineup after resting Tuesday, and he’s actually performed better against RHP this season, posting a .752 OPS while hitting 11 of his 13 homers.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, at Tor (Stroman), $14: He has a .901 OPS at home this season, and there are a dozen third basemen more expensive than Rodriguez.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, vs. Cin (Finnegan), $12: He has the platoon advantage and often hits cleanup in St. Louis’ lineup.
Kyle Schwarber, OF, vs. Mil (Davies), $16: He has a .283/.396/.605 line against right-handed pitchers this year while hitting 14 homers over 152 at bats. His price tag remains extremely reasonable nevertheless.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. Pit (Morton), $19: He has 33 home runs over 371 at bats against RHP and a .945 OPS at home this season. Gonzalez also has a strong track record against Charlie Morton, who’s allowed a 1.59 WHIP when facing left-handed batters on the year.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, vs. Pit (Morton), $18: He has 13 homers and 29 steals against righties this season and a .388 OBP in Coors Field. Seems like both of these Colorado outfielders are underpriced.
Every Wednesday 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 (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 13 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts). If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 3 Flames in the comments section below.
Nick Foles, StL, QB (4 percent started, $33 in Yahoo Daily)
Matchup: vs. Pit
When Foles was shipped from Philadelphia to St. Louis this past offseason, most believed the Eagles got the better end of the deal. However, after Sam Bradford's stomach-pumping performance against the Cowboys that perspective may have changed. Believe it or not, the Rams are off to a solid start, thanks in large part to Napoleon Dynamite's efforts. He hasn't lit the world on fire netting 16.6 fantasy points per game (QB19), but he's not entirely to blame. Rams receivers have dropped 11.9 percent of intended passes, the second-worst mark in the league. Overall, Foles continues to spin one of the better deep balls in the league, is highly effective on play action (137.5 QB rating) and has made sound decisions when pressured (81.0 accuracy percentage in those situations). His fantasy points per dropback (0.51) also ranks top-12, ahead of such position titans as Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. This week against a Steelers defense that made Colin Kaepernick look like Steve Young, Foles' stock is sure to rise. Pittsburgh corners William Gay and Antwon Blake have allowed a combined 75.0 catch percentage in the early season. Collectively, the Steelers have surrendered the most fantasy points to the position. For the reasons above and given the explosive nature of Todd Haley's offense – the shootout potential is high – Foles is the perfect remedy for suffering Tony Romo owners.
Fearless Forecast: 27-43, 298 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 8 rushing yards, 22.7 fantasy points
Danny Woodhead, SD, RB (39 percent started, $18)
Matchup: at Min
Staring at Woodhead's fantastic headshot, he looks like a dude who subsists on granola and weed, a true mountain man. However, the plucky back from North Platte takes pleasure in a different type of high, nickel and dime-ing teams to death. As predicted preseason, he's supplanted hotshot rookie Melvin Gordon near the goal-line, functioning as pass-catching and rushing threat. He hasn't evaded many tacklers (No. 32 in elusive rating) or churned out hard yards (39.7 YAC%), but he's earned considerable red-zone trust, a valuable attribute to own in fantasy. Thus far, he's logged the third-most looks (9) inside the 20 among running backs. Gordon has made strides. His improved patience, vision and explosion were on display Week 2 in Cincinnati. However, his between-the-20s role will remain unchanged this week in Minnesota, a unique opportunity for both backs. The Vikings were gashed Week 1 by Carlos Hyde but righted this ship last week against Detroit surrendering only 84 combined yards to Ameer Abdullah and Co. Still, they've given up 5.5 yards per touch to RBs through two games. On another 13-15 touches, Woodhead should tally a useful RB2 line and drive Ragnar into a deeper depression.
Fearless Forecast: 9 carries, 39 rush yards, 5 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.5 fantasy points
Matt Jones, Was, RB (10 percent started, $17)
Matchup: at NYG
The Florida product has much in common with a motorhome. He's big, hard to stop when moving downhill and is a sought after luxury item, off waivers. In a breakout performance against what many expect to be a rather inflexible St. Louis defensive line, Jones completely dominated from start to finish, outplaying incumbent Alfred Morris. Though he saw only 31 snaps, he carried the pill 19 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in three receptions for 23 yards. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Jones is a load. He's nimble, powerful, shifty and versatile. Overall, his game is patterned similarly to Carlos Hyde's. Though he'll work on short rest, the youngster is a viable RB2 in 12-team leagues against New York. Miniaturized on run defense, the Giants have allowed 137.5 total yards per game to opposing rushers through two games. Working behind a Washington offensive line that's executed beautifully thus far, he should flatten the competition on roughly 13-15 touches. Jones will continue to work in tandem with 'The Butler,' but Jay Gruden's desire to take pressure off Kirk Cousins via ball control only solidifies his growing role. If you were lucky enough to secure his services, turn the key.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 66 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.5 fantasy points
Allen Robinson, Jax, WR (54 percent started, $22)
Matchup: at NE
Extra crispy. That's what Miami DBs were last week after Robinson dropped them in the deep-fryer for six receptions, 155 yards and two touchdowns. Proving to be more than just a premier red-zone option, the sophomore target burned safety Walt Aikens with a double-move on a 52-yard scoring strike. Though Allen Hurns is also a featured player, it's pretty clear who Blake Bortles favors. Through two weeks Robinson has 18 targets to lead the team, and with Rashad Greene now on IR, that number is sure to multiply. Another weighty workload is on the horizon. Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady has launched ground-to-air missiles to begin the season, blowing up opposing defenses. Jacksonville, which surrendered 359 pass yards, two scores and 8.2 yards per attempt to Ryan Tannehill last Sunday, is his next victim, a plausible outcome that greatly benefits Robinson. If smoke continues to rise from Brady's hand, Bortles will most certainly be thrust into a high-volume situation. More pass attempts means more targets for Robinson. Not to mention he could exploit zone offerings in garbage time. WIth all that in mind and considering how poorly Pats corners Tarrell Brown (No. 90 in pass coverage per PFF) and Malcolm Butler (84.6 catch% allowed) have played, the Penn St. product is sure to cash handsomely. Load up.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 89 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.4 fantasy points
Cecil Shorts III, Hou, WR (2 percent started, $15)
Matchup: vs. TB
Due to small sample sizes, statistical anomalies in fantasy football are omnipresent this time each year. For example, Shorts has more targets (20) than widely perceived top-flight wide receivers A.J. Green (12), Randall Cobb (16) and Brandin Cooks (14). Of course, as the season wears on, that pecking order will most certainly change, but it clearly proves the Texans' affection for the veteran receiver. Though zeroed in, Shorts hasn't done much. He's caught just 10 passes for 91 yards. With defenses focused on containing DeAndre Hopkins, favorable workloads should continue to be the norm for the ex-Jag. If he generates another eight-plus targets, this could be the week he busts out. Tampa Bay stunned the league last week by handling business inside the Superdome. Disemboweled Week 1 versus Marcus Mariota and the Titans, the Bucs plunged daggers into New Orleans holding the Saints to a very uncharacteristic 323 total yards and 4.7 average gain per play. Despite the stiff defensive effort, questions loom long-term, particularly at corner. Jonathan Banks and Alterraun Verner both rank outside the top-50 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. Together the tandem have yielded two touchdowns and a 120.7 QB rating to their assignments. All told, the Bucs have given up 8.59 pass yards per attempt. Ryan Mallett was unsightly at times last week in Carolina (46.6 cmp%, 4.2 ypa), but with the butterflies out of the way, he should take a step forward. Consider Shorts a sneaky WR3 or FLEX option in 12-team and deeper formats.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 54 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.9 fantasy points
Ty Montgomery, GB, WR (1 percent started, $10)
Matchup: vs. KC
To quote Prince, Montgomery is the "kind you find in a secondhand store." Barely a blip on the fantasy radar, the rookie from Stanford is about to make his mark. Last week against Seattle, he played on 25 snaps (of 71), up from just one in Week 1, was targeted four times and caught four passes for 37 yards. Though his role was limited, he ran polished routes, plucked passes cleanly and gained tough yards after the catch. With Davante Adams dinged (ankle) and defenses attentive to Randall Cobb, his playing time may surge in Week 3. His opponent, the Chiefs, are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of football -- they give and give and ... Exposed by allegedly cooked Peyton Manning and 'unstoppable' Brian Hoyer, the Chiefs have allowed a staggering 41 receptions for 516 yards and four TDs to WRs thus far. No surprise, Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines and Jamell Flemming have conceded receptions on 61.2 percent of balls thrown their way. Lowering the bar, Flemming ranks No. 99 (of 99) in pass coverage per Pro Football Focus. And he's bottom barrel by a wide margin. Suffice it to say, Aaron Rodgers is about to go nuts, especially if Eddie Lacy is out or limited. The kid is a gamble, but spin the roulette wheel and the ball just might land on 88. Among the $10 WR crowd, no one possesses more upside in Week 3 than Montgomery.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 49 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.9 fantasy points
Reader Record: 5-9, 35.7%
I'm still debating which Shuffle Up format to use this year, the extended comments (on a few players) or a quick-hitter on most players. If you have a preference, let me know.
These are not weekly rankings, these are seasonal rankings. If it's Week 3 ranks you want, please jump over here.
I expect you to have some ranking disagreements because that's why we have a fantasy game. And I expect some to say the rankings are too reactive, while others will claim they're too slow to adjust. You're never going to please everyone in this sort of assignment.
What's happened to this point is merely an audition. The idea is gauging fantasy value from Week 3 onward. If you're on the long-term injury list (Tony Romo, say), you will not be ranked in this exercise.
The prices are unscientific and merely presented as a way to show the tiers and pockets of value. Players at the same price are considered even.
$29 Andrew Luck: More Donte Moncrief and less Andre Johnson, please.
$28 Aaron Rodgers: As much as they miss Nelson, Rodgers can make it work with anyone.
$28 Ben Roethlisberger: Brown is unfair, Bell coming back Week 3, Bryant not far off, and the defense is horrendous.
$27 Tom Brady: Having fun with new passing-game weapon, Dion Lewis.
$24 Russell Wilson: Offensive line isn't playing well, but they're still utilizing Wilson's rushing chops.
$23 Matt Ryan: Needs Julio Jones to play a full season, but otherwise, a very high floor.
$21 Peyton Manning: Gary Kubiak the last to get the memo – Peyton needs to be in the shotgun.
$20 Ryan Tannehill: Fills the stat column reliably but doesn't always pass eye test.
$20 Cam Newton: Lack of outside weapons might indirectly lead to Newton rushing more liberally.
$19 Carson Palmer: If I knew he'd stay healthy, he'd be around the Ryan price.
$18 Philip Rivers: Forever on the All-Underrated team, and Gates return isn't far off.
$17 Eli Manning: Getting dragged forward from Beckham; Vereen could be a needle-mover, too.
$15 Drew Brees: I have no idea what to expect, and neither do you.
$15 Matthew Stafford: Just good enough to lose with.
$15 Sam Bradford: One more bad game and I'm re-evaluating Chip Kelly.
$14 Andy Dalton: Give him healthy targets and voila, he's a terrific QB2 again.
$14 Tyrod Taylor: Tons of mistakes and poor judgments in Week 2, but also made some splash plays.
$12 Joe Flacco: Desperately needs another legitimate weapon, though he's generally fantasy-underrated.
$12 Colin Kaepernick: Garbage-time All-Star in Week 2, and at least his weapons are solid.
$11 Marcus Mariota: Took a beating in Week 2, rallied late – says something for his moxie.
$11 Alex Smith: Look for more Jeremy Maclin in coming weeks.
$9 Teddy Bridgewater: Limited amount of arm strength makes him curious fit for offense Norv Turner wants to run.
$9 Ryan Fitzpatrick: Gives Jets best chance to win; given vote of confidence after iffy Week 2.
$9 Derek Carr: Major step-forward in Week 2, and it wasn't just Cooper.
$8 Blake Bortles: Awful in Week 1, resourceful in Week 2, hard to say where he's at.
$7 Nick Foles: Receiving options definitely less than average, and line could be a problem, too.
$6 Jameis Winston: Makes a lot of “what was that?” decisions, but that's true of most rookies.
$5 Johnny Manziel: Still a ways to go, but he is significantly improved from horror-show rookie year.
$4 Brandon Weeden
$4 Jay Cutler
$4 Kirk Cousins: Defense and running game better than expected, which means Cousins sticks in game-manager mode.
$3 Ryan Mallett: Bill O'Brien thinks he can develop anyone, but Mallett is a massive challenge.
$3 Jimmy Clausen
$3 Luke McCown
$2 Mark Sanchez: Much better in fantasy than reality last year, keep that in mind.
$2 Colt McCoy: If Cousins has any kind of hiccup, Gruden is likely to have a quick hook.
$2 Brian Hoyer
I started with Jake Arrieta ($64, versus Milwaukee, -300 favorite) then worked on the offense, two stacks of interest. We'll back-fill the second starter.
Is Hector Santiago out of gas? Let the numbers decide. Here are his last 11 starts: 52.2 IP, 51 H, 28 BB, 41 SO, 12 HR, 5.98 ERA. We want to attack that.
In other words, let's get as many Houston bats as we can, especially the top of the lineup. Carlos Correa is just $13? You're forcing a play at that cost. Jose Altuve ($21) obviously owns left-handed pitching, and George Springer ($14) has started to hit over the last month. The 1-2-3 Houston bats, sounds like a plan.
I wound up with a Jake Marisnick ($7) punt play, though he's at the bottom of the order.
Other than that, we want some Coors Field exposure. Josh Harrison bats leadoff and is in the platoon advantage. Mike Morse has a career .809 OPS against left-handed pitching. Francisco Cervelli is never a bad contact-heavy punch at $13.
The main pitchers who fit my budget left were Chris Heston, Henry Owens, Gio Gonzalez and Tom Koehler. I took Owens out for the park (plus the Rays love lefties), and Gonzalez has done me wrong too many times before. Koehler draws Philly and is a meaty favorite, but I don't like the team behind him. For old time's sake, I'll go with my Wiggy favorite, Heston, in the big San Diego park. He's an underdog on the road, but I can live with that.
That distrust of Gonzalez pushes me to Steve Pearce ($9) as the final bat, slotted cleanup and against a lefty. He has an .840 career OPS in the platoon edge.
FantasyPros analyzes all the best fantasy football sites so you can get the most accurate advice.
FantasyPros analyzes all the best fantasy football sites so you can get the most accurate advice.
FantasyPros analyzes all the best fantasy football sites so you can get the most accurate advice.
Week 2’s winner of the “NFL Million Dollar Baller” contest took an unconventional route, starting a contrarian lineup that bested 77,787 other entrants. Of course, it’s no surprise the winner didn’t go chalk, as it takes some standouts from little owned players to win such a deep tournament.
It started with Tyrod Taylor, who scored a whopping 28.98 points despite holding a measly $27 price tag. Thanks to his rushing ability, Taylor has been the No. 5 fantasy quarterback through the first two weeks of the season, yet he remains affordable in Yahoo DFS (he’s actually cheaper this week at $24 despite coming off such a big performance). Taylor was used in less than 5 percent of this pool, but expect that number to start rapidly climbing moving forward.
Antonio Brown (32.00 points) proved worthy of his hefty price, and Julian Edelman was a sneaky buy, as he torched a Bills defense that shut down Andrew Luck and the Colts the previous week. Through the first two games of the season, Edelman’s 31 targets are five more than any other receiver in football. As a result, his price has jumped from $29 to $36 this week. His ownership was an anemic 6.7 percent, so Edelman’s contribution played a big role.
The biggest difference maker for our Week 2 winner was DeAngelo Williams, who racked up three touchdowns and 29.20 points while being owned by just 3.3 percent of participants in this tournament (he was the highest-scoring back of the week). Through two games, Williams is somehow the No. 1 ranked fantasy RB, although he’ll now obviously take a backseat to Le’Veon Bell.
Larry Fitzgerald was the other home run here, as the wide receiver turned back the clock and went off for an 8-112-3 line, producing 33.20 points. Fitzgerald was owned by a modest 13.7 percent of teams, so the key here was rostering five players who totaled 151.78 points and were all owned by less than 15 percent. In fact, not a single player on this roster was owned by even 20 percent, as Danny Woodhead was highest at 16.1. Our first place finisher was able to win despite a clunker from Bishop Sankey, who got just 4.20 points, and the Saints’ defense (7.00) also underwhelmed as big favorites at home against the Bucs.
There was just a 1.32-point discrepancy between first and second place, and with every player on both teams aside from one being involved in the first slate of games Sunday, it all came down to Darren Sproles, who needed just 5.23 points to cash the first place prize. Alas, the back produced only 3.90, as the second place finisher must’ve been crushed watching the Eagles play so poorly in a game that projected to be the highest scoring of the week.
Week 2 will be remembered this year in the NFL as the week when everything got really weird. Travis Benjamin and Tyrod Taylor were two of the week’s top fantasy scorers. Survivor pools across America were wiped clean as Tampa Bay, Washington, Oakland and Jacksonville all won, something that hadn’t happened since Week 5 in 2010.
Heck, Johnny Manziel even had the first unequivocally good outing of his professional career. Accordingly, there’s plenty of conversation fodder for this week’s All-Bust fantasy team.
A reminder on the selection process for each week’s edition of this exclusive club: I calculate the difference between the projected Yahoo point totals and the actual outputs of each player. The guys with the worst sums wind up here, with their disappointing performances illustrated by PointAfter visualizations.
Note: All projected point totals were pulled Sunday morning from Yahoo’s standard scoring system. All position ranks are accurate through the Monday game. Players who were injured on Sunday weren’t considered.
QB: Alex Smith, Chiefs
Projected points (position rank): 16.7 (19th)
Actual points (position rank): 7.1 (32nd)
Just in case you needed a reminder that Alex Smith isn’t a viable start in standard leagues after last week’s surprisingly robust 23.2 point showing, the former No. 1 overall pick showed his ugly side on Thursday. Smith only mustered 191 passing yards and threw two back-breaking interceptions, doing his part to help Kansas City choke away an eminently winnable game at Arrowhead Stadium.
And, yeah, he still hasn’t thrown a touchdown to a wide receiver since 2013.
RB1: Jeremy Hill, Bengals
Projected points: 13.4 (3rd)
Actual points: 0.1 (T-91st)
I thought Jeremy Hill was going way too high in drafts this year given the presence of Giovani Bernard, whom a lot of people were underestimating after an injury-shortened 2014 campaign. Sunday might have marked the beginning of the end of Hill’s bellcow status for the Bengals.
Hill only gained 39 yards on 10 carries against San Diego, and more importantly to his future fantasy outlook, fumbled twice and was subsequently benched. After Hill racked up 18.3 points against Oakland in Week 1 (albeit on just 3.3 yards per carry), his Week 2 performance was a nasty shock to his owners. Bernard, meanwhile, totaled 123 yards on 20 rush attempts.
While it’s too early to say that Hill is this year’s Zac Stacy, it’s almost certain that Cincinnati will be divvying up its carries more than most expected coming into this season.
RB2: Ameer Abdullah, Lions
Projected points: 10.8 (14th)
Actual points: 1.8 (T-63rd)
Ameer Abdullah earned the starting nod in Detroit after an electric Week 1 that saw him put up 15.4 points while averaging 8.5 yards per touch.
It really didn’t matter which Lion took handoffs against the Vikings on Sunday, though. The entire Lions backfield looked dreadful, as Abdullah, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick combined for just 16 yards on 11 carries against a defense that was ripped to shreds by Carlos Hyde in Week 1.
WR1: Keenan Allen, Chargers
Projected points: 9.9 (10th)
Actual points: -0.4 (N/A)
Keenan Allen has been a boom-or-bust type since he came into the league. Last year, he failed to surpass five points in nine of his 14 games but kept owners enticed by posting four games with 12 or more points.
Last week, the third-year wideout appeared to assert himself as a more consistent alpha dog in San Diego’s crowded receiving corps, hauling in 15 receptions for 166 yards. Instead, Allen reverted to his old ways on Sunday. He actually hurt his owners more than he helped them, totaling two catches and 16 yards to go along with a lost fumble on a muffed punt.
His four targets were tied for fourth with Malcom Floyd among Chargers, behind Danny Woodhead, Ladarius Green and Stevie Johnson, who all had six. There’s a lot to like about San Diego’s passing offense, but it’s going to be tough to predict which weapon will make an impact on a week-to-week basis.
WR2: Mike Evans, Buccaneers
Projected points: 9.6 (12th)
Actual points: 0.0 (N/A)
Hopefully, Mike Evans’ questionable injury status (hamstring) heading into Sunday scared you off from starting him. He clearly wasn’t himself against New Orleans’ notoriously soft secondary.
Evans was targeted just three times, and couldn’t connect with Jameis Winston on any of them. Evans’ owners have to hope the lackluster showing was the last consequence we’ll see from the hamstring injury that caused him to miss Week 1, rather than Winston simply favoring Vincent Jackson and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins.
TE: Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
Projected points: 8.0 (3rd)
Actual points: 1.1 (T-39th)
I warned everyone before the season started that Jimmy Graham would see a decline in production, given his departure from a passing offense in New Orleans that was essentially tailored around him. But not even the most pessimistic outlook could foretell just how invisible Graham would be against the Packers.
Graham was targeted just twice, and caught a single pass for 11 yards. It was mind boggling to see how uninvolved he was in Seattle’s game plan, as he was practically overshadowed by the guy he was supposed to supplant as the team’s passing tight end, Luke Willson (four targets, two receptions, 36 yards).
Graham isn't going to live up to his renowned fantasy reputation if the Seahawks don't target him downfield.
FLEX: Roddy White, Falcons
Projected points: 8.1 (26th)
Actual points: 0.0 (N/A)
On Sunday, Roddy White was held without a catch for the first time since 2006, his second year in the NFL. The stunning shutout showed why White talked about respecting the Giants’ corners more than Philadelphia’s after looking like his old self against the Eagles in Week 1.
Expect White, who was targeted just once against New York, to be more involved in the passing game going forward. I’m not expecting Leonard Hankerson to be targeted 11 times again in 2015.
D/ST: Baltimore Ravens
Projected points: 10.9 (1st)
Actual points: -1.0 (31st)
Fresh off an impressive showing against Denver, the Ravens were projected to score the most fantasy points among any defense/special teams in Week 2 against Oakland, home of 2014’s worst offense.
Instead, Baltimore forced just one turnover, gave up 37 points and allowed Derek Carr to orchestrate just the second fourth-quarter comeback of his career. Someone named Seth Roberts caught the game-winning, 12-yard touchdown strike.
Like I said, the NFL got weird this week.
KICKER: Zach Hocker, Saints
Projected points: 8.4 (7th)
Actual points: 1.0 (T-31st)
After not sticking with Washington or Miami since coming into the league in 2014, Zach Hocker finally won a kicking job with the Saints in training camp.
He went 4-for-4 in his pro debut last week, but followed that up by missing a 42-yard attempt with the Saints trailing 23-13 in the fourth quarter. Then, when New Orleans later found the end zone, his extra-point attempt was blocked.
There's a ten-game slate on the Monday evening card, let's try to have some fun with it.
On the mound, I’ll allow myself one vanity purchase and one value guy. David Price ($62, -235) is a heavy favorite at home against the Yankees, while Jon Niese ($27, -169) gets to pick on the Braves (and poor, unlucky Shelby Miller), far and away the worst offense in the league over the second half of the year
As impressive as Eduardo Rodriguez has been for the Red Sox, Evan Longoria ($16) is a masher against southpaws (.977 OPS). An easy check to cut.
A game in Coors Field demands a ton of DFS exposure, boring as it seems sometimes. A.J. Burnett is pitching for the Pirates, recently back off an extended layoff. I can’t assume he’ll be effective; even in standard, I didn't take the two-start bait. Jon Gray would be an interesting young pitcher if he weren’t saddled with Coors Field. I wouldn’t wish that place on my worst pitcher enemy.
Carlos Gonzalez ($19) becomes the Coors vanity purchase, though he’s been in a funk of late. Francisco Cervelli ($11) is affordably priced for a backstop, and his contact will play nicely here. Justin Morneau ($12) is too cheap to pass up, and he swung a pretty good bat last week. Starling Marte ($16) is a reverse-splits guy, does his better work against right-handed pitching.
George Springer ($13) hasn't been anything special lately, though he has a modest six-game hitting streak and went deep on Sunday. Maybe it's the start of something. Jered Weaver can't throw the ball past anyone anymore, and the ball usually winds up in the air.
You don’t go near Scooter Gennett ($11) against a lefty, but he bats .277 against the northpaws, with the occasional homer. He’ll bat leadoff Monday against Jason Hammel.
Batting slot is a big part of my punt plays, so when I see Jed Lowrie ($11) slotted in the cleanup spot, I get more interested. He has an .856 OPS this month, with three homers and 11 RBIs.
Fantasy owners looking to cash big in Yahoo DFS are always in the market for connector players, low-dollar options that provide roster flexibility and fatten wallets. Every Monday we'll bargain hunt in an attempt to unearth buried treasure. Today's featured buys come from NYJ/IND, a matchup with plenty of fantasy sizzle.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ, QB ($35 Yahoo DFS) – New York's lumberjack is about to chop wood. Indy's Vontae Davis is an elite corner, a defensive back who held Sammy Watkins catchless Week 1, but possibly down Greg Toler, the Colts pass defense appears vulnerable. I fully expect Fitzpatrick and Eric Decker to connect early and often. Considering the minimum investment needed for the QB's services in Yahoo DFS, he should turn a tidy profit. A final line in range of 250-270 pass yards with a pair of touchdowns is on the horizon. Also, don't be surprised if he pads those stats with 20 or so rush yards.
Donte Moncrief, Ind, WR ($13) – Inquired by prospective investors and talked about repeatedly this week in fantasy columns, pods and webcasts after totaling 11 targets, six catches, 46 yards and a score last week in Buffalo, Moncrief is the man of the moment. As of print time, Chuck Pagano said T.Y. Hilton is expected to play despite a bruised knee. If he does, it's entirely possible he plays decoy, thrusting Andre Johnson and Moncrief into primary roles. And don't worry about Darrelle Revis. The Island was more like an atoll, half submerged, in Week 1. Targeted nine times against the Browns he surrendered seven receptions. Even if he shadows Moncrief for most or part of the game, I expect the sophomore receiver to get his. Bank on five receptions for 60-plus yards and a score.
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There’s obviously a real worry about all Cowboys players after Dez Bryant and Tony Romo going down, but what about the Eagles? This Dallas/Philly game had by far the highest over/under in Week 2 (55.5 points in most places), yet the teams entered the fourth quarter totaling 13 points (with the Eagles being shutout). Philadelphia didn’t score its first touchdown until garbage time (despite Dallas committing a franchise high 18 penalties), when they were down 20-3 with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter in a truly dismal performance. Sam Bradford got just 6.1 YPA, threw two picks and lost a fumble, yet he wasn’t the team’s biggest worry, which was the running game, as DeMarco Murray got -15 yards on his first eight rushing attempts.
No one expected him to repeat last year’s numbers, especially while sharing carries, but the Eagles actually graded as the No. 1 run-blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus last season by a wide margin (the Cowboys were second). Murray did manage to haul in all five of his targets for 53 yards, including this hurdle over Brandon Carr. Still, Murray has 11 rushing yards over two games, which is incredible for someone who totaled 2,261 yards last season. I still have faith in Chip Kelly producing numbers, but it’s been a discouraging start to say the least, and a road game against the Jets in Week 3 is no easy task. I’d look to buy-low on Eagles players entering Week 4 (especially Jordan Matthews).
Matthew Stafford was bad Sunday, but his fantasy performance was fine thanks to 53 attempts...Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater scored nearly as many points despite throwing 35 fewer passes...After the 49ers ran for 230 yards last week against Minnesota, Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell combined for 12 rushing yards on 10 carries...Adrian Peterson looked great, aside from his three fumbles (one was overturned). He had 20 more receiving yards than any other Vikings player...Charles Johnson has just 37 yards on six targets through two games, so I’d bench him for Week 3 (he then faces Denver in Week 4 followed by a bye)...Calvin Johnson got an ugly 5.2 YPT, but his TD catch was nice, and he saw 16 targets after getting just four last week.
After coughing up the ball five times over 222 carries last year, Jeremy Hill lost two fumbles Sunday (he had another overturned in Week 1) and was benched as a result. I was as high on Hill as anyone entering the year and own plenty of shares, but this is obviously a big concern...One week after dominating, Keenan Allen got just 16 yards on four targets, and he too lost a fumble.
I’m an idiot and took an apparently bad Saints team in survivor this week, and this game shouldn’t have been as close as the final score. Austin Seferian-Jenkins dropped a wide open 40-yard catch, and Tampa Bay lost fumbles on back-to-back drives when they had the game in hand (although the Saints were driving for the win when Mark Ingram lost a fumble)...Jameis Winston somehow got 9.9 YPA while completing 66.7 percent of his passes despite Mike Evans securing zero of his three targets. Not known as a rusher in college, the rookie QB also ran in a score after doing so twice in the preseason...I’ve looked wrong about Brandin Cooks so far, but I’d remain patient...Despite playing in a dome, the Saints simply can’t find an adequate kicker...The Bucs have an NFL-high 23 straight games with a giveaway, while New Orleans has lost six straight home games.
Headlines of the Week: Man Tries To Steal Phone From Walmart, Ends Up Stabbing Himself...Brazilian Wasp Venom Kills Cancer Cells, But Not Healthy Cells...Man Suspected Of Smelling Woman’s Feet At Library Leads Police On Scooter Chase...Teen Dies After Parents Allegedly Try To ‘Teach Him A Lesson’ By Forcing Him To Drink.
Matt Ryan got 6.9 YPA on the road last season (compared to 8.2 at home), but he threw for 363 yards (7.9 YPA) Sunday, despite targeting Roddy White just once (Leonard Hankerson saw 10 more)...Julio Jones hauled in 13-of-15 targets for 135 yards...Shane Veeren secured all eight of his targets and remains a sneaky PPR play...Even with no Victor Cruz and facing an Atlanta secondary that allowed an NFL-high 8.2 YPA last season, Rueben Randle had one catch for five yards. He’s a bum, and I’ve clearly been too slow to admit as much...Rashad Jennings obviously can’t be trusted at this point...Tough break for Tevin Coleman owners, as he looked good, including punching in a GL score...The Giants are the first team in NFL history to lose their first two games of a season despite leading by 10+ points in the fourth quarter of each game.
I was worried Steve Smith was done, despite his apparent opportunity, but 16 targets (and 150 yards) later, he still has a pulse to be sure...Derek Carr’s 7.6 YPA mark Sunday was the third highest of his career over 18 games...Crockett Gillmore is quite obviously on the fantasy radar and is a must add for those in need of TE help....Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree became the first pair of Raiders wide receivers to total 100 yards in the same game since 2012.
Lamar Miller has 23 carries for 67 yards over the first two games...T.J. Yeldon had a touchdown overturned, and while his YPC was unimpressive, you have to like the 28 touches...To call survivor a week of carnage would be an understatement.
How about the Bills/Patriots combining for 72 points? After Buffalo’s secondary held Andrew Luck to an ugly 5.0 YPA last week, Tom Brady shredded them for 466 yards and a 3:0 TD:INT ratio...Tyrod Taylor had a weird game, taking eight sacks and throwing three picks yet completed 76.7 percent of his passes and got 8.1 YPA. He also totaled four touchdowns and ran for 43 yards...Rob Gronkowski now has a TD reception in eight straight games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL...LeGarrette Blount owners probably expected more than two carries in a game in which the Pats scored 40 points...Meanwhile, Dion Lewis had his second fumble of the season in just over five quarters, which was half the amount the entire Patriots team lost all of last season. Surprisingly he later returned, but who knows with this backfield moving forward...Karlos Williams looks like a bigger threat to LeSean McCoy’s fantasy value than his balky hamstring.
The Cardinals are 15-2 (including eight straight wins) over Carson Palmer’s last 17 starts...Michael Floyd continues to be nonexistent, while Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson combined for just 3.9 YPT despite the absence of Alshon Jeffery (although Jimmy Clausen obviously contributed to this). Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald scored three touchdowns, including this sick play...David Johnson has three touchdowns over the first nine touches of his career, averaging 58.7 yards per score.
Police Blotter: Teen Charged As Adult For Taking & Having Naked Photos Of A Minor – Himself... Father, Daughter Arrested After Bank Robbery, High-Speed Chase...Woman Fondles Strangers, Breaks Into Home To Play Cards...Woman Arrested For Throwing Dog Poo At Policeman...Burglar Returned For Lost Keys.
Johnny Manziel did this on his first pass of the game. He finished with a 133.9 QB Rating against a Titans defense that played well last week. There’s no reason not to give him another chance regardless of Josh McCown’s health in Week 3...Even with David Cobb out of the picture, Bishop Sankey is clearly sharing touches with both Terrance West and apparently now even Dexter McCluster (although game flow played a role here), and PFF gave Sankey a terrible grade in Week 1, so I would ignore him in fantasy leagues.
Matt Jones looks like such a beast. His floor is lower, but I’d prefer to own him over Alfred Morris over the rest of the season...Tre Mason didn’t exactly impress. Todd Gurley can’t be ready soon enough...Nice to see Ryan Grant resurrect his career as a wide receiver (I guess the same could be said about Matt Jones, only in opposite positions).
I’m beginning to think Alfred Blue isn’t any good...DeAndre Hopkins owners should still be encouraged by his 11 targets, although it was surprising to see Cecil Shorts get more...This Cam Newton TD run was pretty nice, even if he didn’t totally stick the landing.
Song of the Week: The Dead Weather – I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)
Carlos Hyde left with a scary looking injury (in which you could hear him scream in pain) and then later with a possible concussion that he’s since passed protocol, so as long as he’s healthy, his fantasy owners should be happy with Sunday’s lackluster results...Almost all of Colin Kaepernick’s stats were racked up when down big, but it was nice to see what he can do when given 45+ pass attempts. Kap has zero interceptions on 72 attempts this year and has already rushed for 92 yards...Pittsburgh went for two after their first touchdown and then again on their second after San Francisco jumped offside during an extra point attempt. Josh Scobee then missed an extra point after their next TD...Those who drafted Le’Veon Bell should be salivating after looking at what DeAngelo Williams has been able to do so far in this offense.
Longread of the Week: Many Psychology Findings Not As Strong As Claimed, Study Says
In the last two seasons (including playoffs), Aaron Rodgers has a 39:0 TD:INT ratio at home...Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury didn’t look good (although X-ray's were negative), and James Starks would immediately become a top-10 fantasy back if he were to miss time (Lacy owners can hold hope he gets an extra days’ rest when they play next Monday night)...James Jones now has three touchdowns on seven targets, which seems unsustainable...The Seahawks are 0-2 but should still be considered the favorites to win the NFC West.
Larry Fitzgerald and DeAngelo Williams have a simple memo for the NFL.
We're still here.
Thirty-two can be a stay-away age for many fantasy football owners, especially when we're talking about wide receivers and running backs. But Fitzgerald and Williams rolled back the clock during Sunday's Week 2, reminding us of their Pro Bowl salad days.
Fitzgerald hauled in eight of nine targets at Chicago, good for 112 yards and three touchdowns. It was a clinic in receiver play: a variety of routes, perfect execution throughout. Throw in four Carson Palmer touchdown passes and a pair of scores from the electrifying rookie David Johnson (one return, one rush), and the Cardinals were never headed in their 48-23 triumph. It could be a long year at Soldier Field, amigos. And it sure looks like a carnival in Arizona, so long as Palmer can stay healthy.
In many leagues this summer, Fitzgerald was the No. 3 Cardinals receiver off the board. Sophomore John Brown (5-45-0, five targets) was the buzzy pick, while Michael Floyd (no catches, one target) was the tools pick. Both of those guys could learn something from Fitzgerald's route running, professionalism, work ethic. Looks like the elder statesman is still the Arizona wideout you want.
The fantasy value on Pitsburgh's Williams is going to crater quickly - the Steelers welcome Le'Veon Bell back next week. But we'll think back fondly to the 92 yards and three touchdowns Williams piled on San Francisco on Sunday, or the 127 rushing yards he had at New England last week. Imagine what Williams might have done in Carolina all those years, had the Panthers not forced him to share a backfield with Jon Stewart.
If anything happens to Bell later this year, Williams has proven to be a RB2 you can trust. Bell owners might have to play the handcuff game for a few weeks, depending on bench space and immediate roster needs.
In other 1 pm ET Booms . . .
-- Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: What's that about Buffalo having the best defense in the NFL? Brady riddled it for 466 yards and three touchdowns, throwing 40 points at Rex Ryan & Company en route to a statement division victory. You expected a 7-113-1 line from Rob Gronkowski, but the Pats had four players surpass 87 yards receiving (Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson).
About that Lewis: he's proven to be quite the find for the Patriots offense. He collected 138 yards and a touchdown on 13 touches, and lived to tell about a lost fumble (his second in two weeks). Meanwhile, LeGarrette Blount had just two carries and Brandon Bolden had just one. The New England backfield, the ultimate Lucy Van Pelt football gag.
-- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: He didn't get the win and he made his share of mistakes (three picks, eight sacks), but he also scared the pants off the Patriots, posting 19 fourth-quarter points before settling for a 40-32 victory. Taylor finished the day with four total touchdowns, 242 passing yards, 43 rushing yards, and an adoring DFS and seasonal public. He's a playmaker.
-- Manziel to Benjamin, Browns: I don't want to get too silly about Johnny Manziel's performance in Week 2's victory over Tennessee. He completed just eight passes, after all, and rushed for one yard on three attempts (one kneeldown). But Manziel clearly has something going with wideout Travis Benjamin - the duo hooked up for two haymaker touchdowns, covering 50 and 60 yards. And the electric Benjamin tacked on a 78-yard score on a punt return, bobbing and weaving through half of Ohio. Hope is back in the Cleveland offense.
-- Matt Jones, RB, Redskins: I'm an Alfred Morris fan, perhaps an apologist at times. But we can't ignore what went down in the Nation's capitol: Morris stumbled to 59 yards on 18 attempts, while Jones ripped off 123 yards and two scores on 19 rushes. Jones also did a little more in the passing game. It's probably a timeshare for the interim, but Jones might be talented enough to claim the job for his own.
-- Steelers Offense: We talked about Williams above, that was the surprise. Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns in a laugher over the Niners, or Antonio Brown jitterbugging for 195 yards, that's no surprise to anyone. The Steelers also put some fun into the point-after, converting a pair of two-point plays in the first half. Don't you wish everyone played like that?
-- Saints Offense: New Orleans was supposed to name the score on Sunday, a 10-point favorite against a Tampa Bay team that was shellacked by Tennessee last week. Ah, the snow globe NFL. Tampa Bay shocked everyone with a 26-19 upset victory Sunday at the Superdome, and if not for some careless Buccaneer mistakes down the stretch, the final wouldn't have even been that close.
Drew Brees padded his stats down the stretch but still came in well under expectations: 24-for-38 passing, 255 yards, just one touchdown against one pick. He took four sacks, posted a 6.7 YPA, finished with an 80.5 rating. A far cry from what fantasy owners, seasonal and DFS, were expecting. Brees conceded after the game that he's playing through shoulder discomfort. Can we trust him Week 3 at Carolina?
What happened to the Saints throwing to their running backs? C.J. Spiller and Khiry Robinson had one target apiece, while Mark Ingram's three catches went for a piddly five yards. The wideouts were't much better, though Brandin Cooks (5-62 on seven targets) bailed out somewhat, collecting 39 yards on the final drive. New Orleans used to be money in the bank for their home games; they've now lost six straight games at home. The Dome is Dead.
-- Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Fumble once, a team might deal with it. Fumble twice, you're probably getting benched. That's what happened to Hill - after his second giveaway in the second half against San Diego, the Bengals decided to let Giovani Bernard drive the offense and close out the victory. And with Bernard rolling up 139 total yards on 21 touches (Hill made a modest 41 yards on his 11 touches), this could be a messy time-share for a while. Cincinnati plays Baltimore in Week 3.
-- Mike Evans, WR, Bucs: Game flow worked against the Tampa Bay passing game; Jameis Winston attempted just 21 passes. Nonetheless, Evans getting shut out on three targets goes down as a shock, no matter how tempered expectations might have been pregame. I'll want to see a prove-it game from Evans, and his balky hamstring, before welcoming him back to the Circle of Trust.
-- Roddy White, Rueben Randle: There were 658 passing yards in the Meadowlands on Sunday. Randle claimed five of them (two targets), while White had a bagel on one target. I'd give White a little more time to marinate, but I don't understand the Roob Fanboys in the fantasy community. I never will.
-- Titans Offense: The final numbers for Marcus Mariota at Cleveland (21-for-37, 257 yards, two touchdowns, no picks) look much better than the pictures represented. Mariota took seven sacks and was routinely chased, hit, beaten up. Welcome to the NFL, kid.
Bishop Sankey didn't follow up his Week 1 breakthrough, making just 42 yards on 12 inconsequential attempts. Both of his pass targets fell incomplete. Nothing will come easy the next two weeks, when the Titans host Indianapolis and Buffalo.
I'm not going to be breaking down the Philly-Dallas monstrosity. Look for Dalton Del Don's blog, Sunday night or early Monday.
Five picks against the Yahoo Pick'Em number, that's how we roll. Share your five best picks in the comments, cappers.
Steelers -5.5 vs. Niners: It's a classic zig-zag play, fading what we saw in Week 1. Pittsburgh was somewhat flat at New England, while the Niners stomped Minnesota for all to see. The line has adjusted from those results, perhaps too much. Pittsburgh enters this game with extra rest while San Francisco is on a short week, and also note the Niners are a west coast team forced to travel east for an early body-clock game. I'll strongly consider the Steelers as a survivor pick as well.
Patriots even at Bills: Bill Belichick over Rex Ryan, that might be an advantage. Buffalo had a physical edge on the finesse Colts, but that won't be as much of an issue here. I also love The Hoodie into a game with extra prep time.
Browns +1 vs. Titans: I have plenty of deeper-league shares in the Tennessee offense, so this is a pick I wouldn't mind getting wrong. But it's another zig-zag fade, the idea that Cleveland isn't as bad as it looked in Week 1, and Tennessee isn't as good as it looked while manhandling the woeful Bucs.
Cowboys +5 at Eagles: Whenever the spread goes over the equator-3 in an NFC East game, I want the points.
Texans +3.5 at Panthers: I never trust Carolina as a favorite, especially off a prosperity game. Luke Keuchly is a huge absence in the middle of the Panthers defense. Houston's defense is considerably better than it played during the first half last week.
Last Week: 4-1
Fantasy Versus Reality
My colleagues at Shutdown Corner are also in the Throwing Darts racket this year. Here's who they like:
Frank Schwab (2-3 last week):
Eric Edholm (4-1 last week)
Mark Buehrle, SP, vs. Bos (Hill), $37: He won’t help much with strikeouts, but Buehrle owns a 2.99 ERA at home this season with a 1.10 WHIP. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have a team OPS of .822 against left-handed pitchers, so there’s a decent shot at a win.
Collin McHugh, SP, vs. Oak (Brooks), $48: He’s struggled a bit lately but returns home to face an A’s offense that’s hardly been a juggernaut against RHP this season. The Astros are huge favorites Sunday (-220), with only one other team favored more.
Yan Gomes, C, vs. CWS (Danks), $13: He has the platoon advantage and should play after resting Friday. Gomes also is 5-for-10 with four doubles and zero strikeouts in his career versus John Danks.
Adam Lind, 1B, vs. Cin (Desclafani), $16: He has a .310/.390/.519 line against righties this season while also recording a .948 OPS at home.
Jose Altuve, 2B, vs. Oak (Brooks), $20: He’s facing a pitcher who’s allowed 30 earned runs over 34.2 inning this year. There aren’t many top options at second base during Sunday’s slate.
Miguel Sano, 3B, vs. LAA (Shoemaker), $17: He remains reasonably priced despite being one of the best hitters in all of baseball since getting called up back in early July.
Ketel Marte, SS, at Tex (Holland), $8: The switch hitter has been better against RHP so far, but Marte has been hitting leadoff lately, and shortstop is a good position to go cheap.
J.D. Martinez, OF, vs. KC (Medlen), $16: He’s been terrific this season yet there are 25 outfielders listed with a higher price tag.
George Springer, OF, vs. Oak (Brooks), $13: He has 13 homers and 14 steals over 328 at bats this season and as previously mentioned, Oakland starter Aaron Brooks has struggled mightily this year.
Rusney Castillo, OF, at Tor (Buehrle), $11: He owns a .347/.385/.500 line against southpaws this season and is dirt cheap.
Welcome to the second edition of King’s Korner – where I give you all the information and insight you need to succeed in your fantasy football league.
Here’s my list of three “kings” I’m crowning in Week 2:
Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) – Yeah, I know what you’re saying – Teddy was terrible on Monday night. If you actually look at the numbers (23-of-32, 231 yards and an interception), it’s not so bad. If Teddy h2o can complete passes at that kind of clip against a Lions D that gave up 440 yards and two touchdowns to Philip Rivers, look out. Bridgewater could be in for a 300-yard, 2 TD day.
RB Justin Forsett (BAL) – The Ravens face the Raiders Sunday, who last week gave up 63 rushing yards and 2 TD’s to Jeremy Hill – and he only played a half of football. Forsett was solid in Week 1 against a stout Denver D, and I think he could do it again. Sign me up for 140 all-purpose yards and a score.
WR James Jones (GB) – Aaron has his old friend James back. With Jones suiting up in the green and gold once again, No. 12 found No. 89 for a pair of touchdowns against the lowly Bears last Sunday. Now while the Legion of Boom may scare you, keep in mind that Seattle’s lost a lot of guys from that secondary: Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and (for now) Kam Chancellor. If Aaron Rodgers can trust James Jones, you should too.
Finally, here’s my own “jester” – a guy to avoid - for Week 2:
WR Brandon Marshall (NYJ) – I loved what Marshall did in Week 1 vs. the Browns -- 6 catches, 62 yards and a TD -- but Week 2 provides a different challenge. Colts DB Vontae Davis held the Bills’ Sammy Watkins catchless last week – and I think he could have a similar effect this week…while he may not be shutout, I’d be worried if I started Mr. Marshall in my lineup.
What would you say to Mr. King: hail or fail? Send him your take on Twitter @realshaunking.
(Want to outscore me? Jump in our free Saturday night contest right here.)
With Clayton Kershaw ($70) slotted out of my price range, I wanted two heavy favorites who are somewhat on the affordable side. This leads me to Cole Hamels ($54, -185, home against the Mariners) and Carlos Carrasco ($40, -163, home against the White Sox).
Francisco Lindor might seem like a pricy pay up at $17, but he’s a .348/.397/.513 slasher against left-handed pitching, and he’s been out of his mind in the second half (No. 1 fantasy shortstop by a mile). And Carlos Rodon hans’t been as effective when Tyler Flowers isn’t behind the plate (though his one Rob Brantly start was effective).
Will Myers has come around over his last nine starts (three homers, .576 slugging), and for Saturday he gets the platoon advantage against an ordinary lefty (Yohan Flande) and the backdrop of Coors Field. Sounds like a reasonable play for $14.
Jedd Gyorko doesn’t have pretty slash numbers, but his OPS jumps to .781 against southpaws and he’s clocked 11 homers in 56 second-half games. Let’s add to our San Diego exposure at Coors.
A.J. Pierzynski is never a bad punt play, even if the lineup around him stinks. He’s cleanup for Saturday, a mere $8, and facing an up-and-down Jerad Eickhoff. AJP is hitting .304 against righties this year.
When Adam Lind is at home against a righty, good things happen: .349 average, 10 homers in 189 at-bats. His BB/K ratio in these instances is almost 1/1. Opposing pitcher Josh Smith has been a mess in his brief MLB experience (more walks than strikeouts, 7.36 ERA).
Danny Valencia ($13) is always worth a look against a lefty, and he’s hit three homers in his last five games, including two Friday night.
I don’t remember Matt Kemp ($16) doing much when I give him the DFS nod, but he’s sitting on 14 homers and a .533 slugging percentage in the second half, and he’s part of our plan to jump on Flande in Colorado.
I go back and forth on the DFS worthiness of Ryan Raburn ($9); while he’s a platoon specialist and slotted fourth for Saturday, there’s also a risk he’ll get removed from the game later, be it for platoon reasons or defensive reasons (man, is he terrible in the field). But this is the last slot I have to fill for the Saturday card and at nine bucks, we don’t need much to return a profit.
To help your Week 2 cause (full season or daily), here's a few players I expect to be better or worse than expected. Best of luck this weekend!
QB - Carson Palmer, Ari at Chi ($34 in DFS) - I'm doubling down on Palmer after listing him here last week. After a top 3 fantasy QB outing vs. New Orleans in the opener, Palmer now has the pleasure of facing a Bears defense that allowed a 140.5 QB Rating (third-highest in the NFL) to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. There are 15 more expensive signal callers in the Yahoo DFS game, yet he's ranked seventh in our Week 2 rankings. Jump all over that market oversight.
RB - Joseph Randle, Dal at Phi ($23) - The inevitable happened in the Dallas backfield in Week 1, which is that Randle outplayed Darren McFadden. Randle also received 19 touches (12 more than Run-DMC), establishing himself clearly as the lead back, even if some measure of a platoon system will remain a constant. Assuming another workload that will push 20 touches, I like Randle's upside potential in a game that Vegas pegs to easily be the highest scoring matchup of the week (55.5 O/U). With Dez Bryant out for several weeks, I expect Dallas to lean even more on the running game, and also try to utilize Randle (did you see that sweet one-handed, on-the-run catch he made in Week 1?) and Lance Dunbar in the passing game (Philly was especially susceptible to RBs in the passing game last season). With something like 65-75 rushing yards and 35-40 receiving yards, I can see Randle reaching the century mark in yards from scrimmage for the second consecutive week.
RB - Ameer Abdullah, Det at Min ($22) - Abdullah made a splashy NFL debut in Week 1, rolling up 94 total yards and a TD, while busting long gainers of 24 yards on the ground, a 36-yard catch and a 48-yard kickoff return. Had the Lions opted to give him more than 11 touches, they might have left San Diego with a win. The Lions are being coy about how much Abdullah's role might expand going forward, but the logic is that more Abdullah equals more job security for the head coach. Even on another 11 touches, I'd like Abdullah's chances against a Minnesota defensive front that was abused for 60 minutes by Carlos Hyde and the 49ers' front line. The Vikings' edges crumbled like dried leaves on Monday night, and it's tantalizing to think about Abdullah getting perimeter shots against this defense.
WR - Steve Smith Sr, Bal at Oak ($22) - Smith was a sit last week for the obvious reason of facing a Denver defense with a fantastic pass rush and two excellent cover corners (Chris Harris and Aqib Talib). With that set-up, and Smith being the clear top threat in the Baltimore passing game, I felt the Broncos could easily devise a plan to put the clamps on him. This week, though, the set-up is a thing of beauty for Smith, as Oakland is decimated by injuries in the secondary (Nate Allen, Charles Woodson, D.J. Hayden). With inexperience rampant in the Raiders pass defense this week, I can easily envision Smith blowing the top of the coverage at least a couple times.
WR - Mike Wallace, Min vs Det ($21) - Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater had a fairly forgettable performance in a Week 1 loss at San Francisco, but one valuable fantasy takeaway was that WR Mike Wallace sure looked like Bridgewater's go-to option, targeting him seven times for six receptions and 63 yards. The chemistry with Charles Johnson, the other WR starter, was, well, not good - two catches, 27 yards on three targets. That said, I wouldn't feel too bad about either option this week, though I'd definitely lean in Wallace's direction, against a Lions defense that allowed 277 yards to San Diego receivers last week. Lions corner Darius Slay emerged from Week 1 with a sore ankle, not an ideal development when your other starter is Rashean Mathis, once a stud shutdown corner but, now at age 35, a shadow of his former self. I like Wallace for at least 75 yards and a score this week.
TE - Ladarius Green, SD at Cin ($12) - Playing in place of suspended veteran Antonio Gates, Green delivered a robust 5/74/1 line in Week 1, cashing in on one of his two red zone targets. With his size (6-foot-6), athleticism and basketball background, you can count on the red zone looks to continue, making him a solid week-to-week TD bet while Gates is out. And Cincy allowed the 11th-most yards to the TE position last season, and the personnel that Cincy will likely use to defend Green isn't anything that should scare you away.
QB - Matthew Stafford, Det at Min ($37) - I doubled-down on Palmer as a start, and I'm following suit with Stafford as a sit. Same rules apply to Stafford as last week. He hasn't played well on the road of late. He's facing a quality pass defense. And Stafford's last three meetings with Minnesota have resulted in no better than a top 20 fantasy QB finish.
RB - Latavius Murray, Oak vs. Bal ($21) - Considering how bad the Oakland offensive line looked in Week 1, owners have already been digesting a "bench until further notice" tag on Murray. But this week's opponent, Baltimore, makes it a mandate. The Ravens were the top fantasy run defense in '14, and the allowed a mere 70 rushing yards on 24 carries to Denver RBs in Week 1. Murray had 80 total yards last week, but he'll be lucky if he reaches 50 this week.
RB - Frank Gore, Ind vs NYJ ($25) - After a feeble 8/31 rushing performance in Week 1 at Buffalo, Gore lands another brutal matchup in the Jets before things start to lighten up. Gang Green slammed the door shut on the Cleveland backfield in the opener, allowing the fewest fantasy points to RBs in Week 1. Gore is sure to get more than eight totes this time around but, with Indy looking to slowly build up Gore's reps so that he'll be fresh down the stretch, he's probably not a great bet for more than about 15 total touches, which won't be enough to get much done against this stingy Jets defense.
WR - Keenan Allen, SD at Cin ($29) - Allen is one of fantasy football's wildest rollercoaster rides, often following huge performances with duds. I expect that to be the case this week after Allen took advantage of old man corner Rashean Mathis en route to a 15-catch, 166 receiving yard outing against the Lions in Week 1. This time around, Allen will contend with Bengals corners Pacman Jones and Leon Hall, leaders of a unit that allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to WRs in '14. I can see Allen losing at least 100 yards off of last week's yardage total.
WR - Davante Adams, GB vs. Sea ($25) - A starting Packers WR is always a tempting fantasy option, but not Adams this week against Seattle. The Seahawks have allowed just six WR touchdowns in their past 22 regualr-season games, and Randall Cobb is the only Packers receiver to have any success against Seattle in the three meetings between the teams in the past two seasons. And with Adams lining up often on Aaron Rodgers' right side, that will put him in the crosshairs of shutdown corner Richard Sherman.
TE - Jordan Cameron, Mia at Jac ($15) - Cameron posted a solid 4/73 line in Week 1 against Washington, but the Redskins were among the wrost in fantasy at defending the TE position in '14. The Jaguars, meanwhile, showed pretty well against opposing tight ends, allowing just two TE touchdowns and an average of just 45 yards to the position over their final 11 games. And the Jags did a number on Greg Olsen in Week 1, holding him to two catches for 20 yards.
For the second week in a row, it's the receivers who take center stage on the Injyry Wrap.
The Bears aren’t sure if Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) will go Sunday against Arizona. He had a setback in Thursday’s work and sat out Friday’s session completely. Probably good news for the other offensive pieces here - Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, Eddie Royal - but it’s a tough blow for Jay Cutler and Chicago’s upset hopes. You’ll need to wait until game day on this one.
Mike Evans (hamstring) is once again a game-time decision. At least the Bucs, like most teams, are playing in the 1 pm ET block on Sunday (there are just three games in the 4 pm ET wave). I can’t promise accurate passes from Jameis Winston, but he’ll probably need to throw 30-40 times at New Orleans.
Julio Jones (hamstring) practiced in full Friday, so go ahead and deploy as you normally would.
T.Y. Hilton (knee) isn’t back at Colts practice yet, and even though Indianapolis has until Monday to get their featured wideout right, I’d be surprised if he played against the Jets. I see Donte Moncrief as a rock-solid WR2 this week.
Randall Cobb (shoulder) is expected to go, though he's not considered 100 percent. He's listed as probable.
Delanie Walker (wrist) did full work Friday but remains questionable for Week 2’s game at Cleveland. The tight end position went bonkers around the league for Week 1, so you should be able to find a reasonable Plan B.
Jordan Reed (quad) basically lives on the injury report and is questionable for Week 2. He was limited in the final two days of the week.
LeSean McCoy (hamstring) did some work Friday but remains questionable for Sunday’s showdown against New England. No matter if McCoy plays or not, I expect Karlos Williams to be Buffalo’s most effective runner in Week 2. Make sure he’s not floating around your waiver wire.
C.J. Spiller (hamstring) had a limited week of practice and has a shot to play against Tampa Bay. He's listed as questionable. I'm not going to take any chances with him on spec, even if he's announced as a go on Sunday.
The Rams list Todd Gurley (knee) as questionable, though context clues point to him needing more time before he plays. He did practice in full Friday, for whatever that means. Tre Mason (hamstring) also had a full session Friday and carries the questionable tag (Jeff Fisher's go-to designation) into the weekend.
Andre Ellington (knee) is considered week-to-week for the Cardinals; he won't play against the Bears. Chris Johnson is expected to be the primary back at Chicago, with David Johnson the secondary option.
Reggie Bush (calf) is hoping for a Week 3 return.
Chris Ivory (groin) had a limited Friday, though his Monday status doesn't appear in jeopardy yet. Let's see what he does on Saturday.
Arian Foster (groin) did some work this week and might have a chance to play next week against Tampa Bay.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) had a decent week and should dress at Oakland. Although he's nothing special, he probably has more upside potential at the moment than Buck Allen.
Johnny Manziel will start for the Browns, as Josh McCown has yet to be cleared through the league’s concussion protocol. I suppose it makes the Browns more entertaining this week. Tennessee defense, anyone?
Derek Carr (hand) will be able to start against Baltimore.
ILB star Luke Kuechly (concussion) is expected to miss Carolina's home opener.
It’s time for a TGIF addition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. I made good on two of my three picks last week. Let’s try to improve on that this go around.
To review … all of the below players are owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues (one of them is only owned in 2 percent of leagues). They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.
Nick Foles, QB, St. Louis Rams ($29)
There were plenty of surprises at the quarterback position in the season’s opening week, but one that’s being buried is the stalwart play of Nick Foles. Attempting 27 throws for nearly 300 yards and two TDs (the second of which he ran in from a yard out), Foles finished the week the tenth best fantasy player at the position. He wasn’t perfect, fumbling twice and committing a cringe-worthy turnover that allowed Seattle’s CB Cary Williams to score. But he did move the offense – against the vaunted Legion of Boom - without WR Brian Quick, RB Tre Mason, or RB Todd Gurley. That’s pretty darn heroic.
This Sunday he’ll draw an easier matchup against a Redskins squad that gave up the most fantasy points to the position in 2014. Yes, they were able to limit Ryan Tannehill in Week 1, but I think that has more to do with Tanny’s deep ball struggles than anything else. Foles has a cannon, and isn’t afraid to sling it downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, his average depth of target (ADOT) was 9.6 yards, which was the sixth highest for the week. In addition, the football metrics system awarded Foles with the second best QB rating as well as the top spot for performance under pressure coming out of the season’s first set of games. I know it’s hard to trust Foles, but his value and intrigue are undeniable.
Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals ($13)
Flying well under the fantasy radar, Jones is a playmaker just one opportunity away from reaching darling status. Working back from a foot/ankle injury that robbed him of a 2014 campaign, Jones didn’t see much action in Week 1. The fourth option in the passing game, Jones caught just two of three targets for a mere 19 yards. The star of the Bengals offense last Sunday was TE Tyler Eifert who led the team in targets, receptions, yards, and TDs.
This week, however, I’m confident the game script is going to change. San Diego has two top CBs in Jason Verrette and Brandon Flowers, who, over the weekend, were able to completely erase Calvin Johnson from the Lions offense. It’s my expectation that they’ll key in on Green and Eifert this coming Sunday, which should open things up for Jones. A size/speed prospect with big mitts, Jones is a legit red zone threat. He’s wildly more talented than Muhamed Sanu, and has a shot at hitting pay dirt in Week 2.
Karlos Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills ($12)
The rookie spelled a gassed and hammy hampered LeSean McCoy last Sunday, and took full advantage of his opportunity. Williams led the team in rushing yards and even scored a TD. While Shady carried the rock more frequently, the vet only averaged 2.4 YPC. Williams, on the other hand, had the third highest YPC of the week, at 9.2. The fifteenth most productive fantasy player at the position, Williams proved he was NFL ready in the season opener.
It’s concerning that McCoy was able to do so little against such a historically soft run defense, leading me to believe that his hammy was more of an issue than the team was letting on. On Thursday his name appeared on Buffalo’s injury report and questions about his health began to surface. Even if the former Eagle starts on Sunday, he’s bound to be limited. And we’ve already seen what Williams can do if called upon.
In Week 2 the Bills will host a Pats defense that gave up 127 yards to 32-year-old DeAngelo Williams in the season opener. I fully expect Rex Ryan to continue to employ a ground attack against New England, providing Buffalo’s backfield with a buffet of chances to produce. Owned in just 15 percent of Yahoo leagues, Williams could be in line for a sweet promotion.
Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans Saints ($10)
Last Sunday the #FreeKhiry movement on Twitter was in full effect. Receiving an almost equal workload to top dog Mark Ingram, Robinson rushed for five fewer yards on one less carry. Both backs were also heavily used in the passing game with Robinson catching five of six balls for 51 yards. With C.J. Spiller out of the lineup, Robinson finished the day with RB2 numbers in PPR formats.
The matchup for the Saints’ backs is a juicy one, especially when considering that Tampa Bay gave up 115 rushing yards and a score to the dynamic duo of Sankey and West in Week 1. A completely shell-shocked unit, the Bucs also allowed Tennessee’s backfield to score through the air, courtesy of the far from elusive Sankey.
While this all sounds good, there is admittedly a 5-foot-11 and 200 pound impediment standing in KRob’s way. I mentioned before that the third year man had done his damage with Spiller out of the lineup, but CJ has been back at practice since mid-week. That obviously diminishes Robinson’s value and puts a wrench in things. However, I’m not immediately buying that Spiller will come back at 100 percent. This is a guy who missed the entirety of the preseason and is stepping into a new role on a new team. There’s bound to be rust. And if Spiller doesn’t play, Robinson has already proven that he can produce both on the ground and through the air.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Baltimore Ravens ($10)
I don’t think that Gillmore is some sort of studly talent, and I do think that rookie TE Maxx Williams is likely to leap frog him on the depth chart by the middle of the season, but heading into Week 2 Crockett’s matchup is beyond plus. The Ravens have very little depth behind Steve Smith, and until Breshad Perriman is cleared to play they’ll need to rely on SOMEONE. In Week 1 their current TE1 was third in team targets (behind Smith and RB Justin Forsett), catching two of four balls for 23 yards. I know those numbers are paltry, but they came opposite a wildly disruptive Denver defense.
In Week 2 things should get easier for Baltimore as they travel to the Black Hole to take on the Raiders’ injury ravaged and talent deficient defensive crew. This is the same group that gave up over 100 yards and two scores to Tyler Eifert. Of course the talent between the two tights ends is vast, but the Raiders can be smoked over the middle and Gillmore’s chances of doing so are more likely than not. A streaming option for owners in redraft or a deep value for DFS enthusiast, Gillmore is a dart throw at the TE position with a better than average chance of grabbing six.
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 the upcoming season.
Yahoo DFS Bargain Bin. What cheaply priced QB/RB/WR/TE will turn the biggest profit in Week 1?
Brad – JOHNNY MANZIEL ($22). The dual-threat is one of the cheapest QBs on the board. Similar to Tyrod Taylor last week he allows you to maximize affordability and stack other positions. Admittedly, he's a bit of a wildcard but the TItans defense isn't the '85 Bears. Tally roughly 200 passing, 50 rushing with a TD and he'll turn a friggin' profit. Like those odds, assuming McCown is out.
Andy – This is a week loaded with bargains, so there's no shortage of solid answers here. I'll take BISHOP SANKEY for $16 all day, facing a Cleveland defense that ranked dead-last in the league against the run last season (and that didn't exactly shut down Chris Ivory in Week 1). I'm a little worried about West poaching goal-line carries, but I nonetheless have to think Sankey will earn a profit on his modest salary.
Scott – I fully realize why everyone is down on CHRIS JOHNSON. But he's a mere $10 and he's up against a Chicago front seven that's been mediocre in run-stopping for several years in a row. The moment you deplane at O'Hare, they hand you four yards and change on every rushing attempt. David Johnson is more exciting, sure, and the better long-term play. But for this Sunday, I expect CJ-OK to be a sneaky fantasy profit player.
Liz – TEVIN COLEMAN ($17). I’ll admit I was not high on the rookie coming out of college, but he shut me up in his regular season debut. Carrying the rock twice as many times as the incumbent Devonta Freeman, Coleman showed off his trademark speed against a respectable Eagles defense. The rookie appears to have won himself the RB1 gig, more than doubling Freeman’s YPC. He’ll face a Giants defense that surprised in Week 1, allowing just 80 yards via the ground. Let’s not forget, however, that was opposite the likes of Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden. Coleman is an ascendant talent who could very well finish among the top twenty RBs this week.
Brandon – CARLOS HYDE ($23) How can 20 running backs be more expensive than Hyde this week? He was the Week 1 leader in fantasy points at RB, and he was also first in Yards After Contact and second in Missed Tackles. And that 49ers offensive front, with three-TE sets much of the time, looked fantastic, blowing up Minnesota's D front on the edges. Am I supposed to be concerned about a Pittsburgh defense that allowed 4.6 yards per carry to Dion Lewis? Well, I'm not. Hyde goes for at least another 100-plus total yards and a TD.
Dalton – TERRANCE WILLIAMS ($21). Dez Bryant is out, and the Eagles allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last season. The over/under in this game is a league-high 55.5 points. Williams is going to be a huge fantasy asset with Bryant down.
Conversely, what player, at any position, are you fading hard in Week 2?
Andy – TOM BRADY at $45 is ... well, that seems nuts. He's facing arguably the league's best defense, a group that just stymied Andrew Luck & Co. I'm not interested in Brady at his price, nor do I want GRONK at $37.
Dalton – TOM BRADY ($45). I'm still picking the Pats to win this game, but it's strange Brady is the highest priced player this week. Buffalo's defense allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs last year, including a 16:19 TD:INT ratio. The Bills also held Andrew Luck to just 5.0 YPA last week.
Scott – We saw Vontae Davis hurl a bagel at Sammy Watkins last week, and for Monday I expect him to take dead aim on BRANDON MARSHALL ($24). I'll be fading Marshall in DFS, and looking to bench him in standard leagues as well.
Liz – A.J. GREEN ($29). Green is certainly an elite receiver, but he’s surrounded by other healthy playmakers, which means he’s not going to be as much of a ball hog this year. Plus, the Chargers have two top CBs in Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. I'd rather gamble on a gimpy Mike Evans at the same price or pay up for a chalk play like Antonio Brown.
Brandon – Keenan Allen ($29) Allen had the true pleasure of being chased around the field by Detroit 35-year-old has-been corner Rashean Mathis in Week 1, which obviously led to a huge performance from Allen. But daylight won't be so easy to find against corners Adam Jones, Leon Hall and a Cincy defense that ranked second last season in fewest fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Allen is one of the biggest WR rollercoaster rides in fantasy, and has often followed up huge games with duds the following week. I see that being the case again in Week 2.
Brad – JEREMY MACLIN ($25). Chris Harris hasn't surrendered a TD to an assignment in 17 straight games. Last week, he and Aqib Talib clamped down on Steve Smith. This time around, Maclin will be victimized. There are better, cheaper deals out there at the Chief's price point.
Peyton Manning, who the denizens of Fantasyland are FREAKING OUT about, standard fantasy points scored (4 pts/pass TD, 1 pt/25 pass yds) 14.5 fantasy points.
Dalton – UNDER. He's looked disturbingly in decline for a while now, as clearly health and age are a major issue. Moreover, the Broncos' defense is one of the best in the NFL, so Denver isn't required to throw as much either.
Scott – UNDER. The wrong opponent, the wrong time, the short turnaround. Perhaps the Broncos will get this fixed for the long haul, but I expect a modest return Thursday.
Brandon – UNDER. Peyton Manning has finished below this number in six of his past seven games (counting last season's playoff loss), and one of those Unders came at KC. This is the new norm for one of the greatest QBs of all time - one that is dealing with trying to process a new offense, not to mention seriously diminished arm strength. I think this season will be Peyton's farewell tour and, unfortunately, it's not going to be very pretty.
Pick a Johnson at the FLEX in .5 PPR: Chris Johnson (at Chi, $10 YDFS), David Johnson (at Chi, $10), Stevie Johnson (at Cin, $15), Charles Johnson (vs. Det, $19) or Andre Johnson (vs. NYJ, $27).
Scott – I explained my Chris Johnson beliefs above, and stand by them. If you need a receiving Johnson, Stevie is your huckleberry. The Chargers passing game is underrated for the 59th year in a row.
Brandon – CHRIS JOHNSON. For $10, you are getting a guy likely to get 15-plus touches against the Chicago Bears defense. I don't care who the RB is, that's the definition of a bargain.
Liz – STEVIE JOHNSON. Don’t call it a comeback. Johnson was awesomely efficient in Sunday’s tilt vs. the Lions, hauling in all six of his targets for 82 yards and a touch. With Antonio Gates serving a four game suspension and Malcom Floyd looking like an afterthought, Johnson is back on the fantasy radar. The Bengals defense put up some good numbers in Week 1, but San Diego’s starting roster boasts oodles more talent than Oakland’s. Johnson is a solid WR3/Flex option for this Sunday’s slate of games
Carlos Hyde, who ripped off 168 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota on MNF, combined rush/receiving yards in the follow up at Pittsburgh 99.5.
Brandon – OVER. Oh, man, what a performance in Week 1 (see my write up on him in the first question). He's a YAC machine, and the O-line looks much better than most expected. And Pittsburgh's defense is certainly not scaring me off.
Liz – OVER. Reggie Bush’s expected absence (calf) in Week 2 should certainly help Hyde retain a high volume of touches. While I don’t normally like chasing points, I do think the power back will run well against a Steelers defense that let Dion Lewis (who earned the first start of his pro career last Thursday night) rack up a total of 120 combined yards.
Brad – UNDER. Again, love the player. In Hyde's smashing of Minnesota he gained over 50 percent of his yards after initial contact. The Niners' offensive line was also highly impressive. However, on the road, against a fast, active Pittsburgh front is more difficult matchup than most think. Pats backs registered just 3.5 YPC against the unit last week. He's a great buy at $23 in Yahoo DFS and his chances of finding the end zone are strong, but I believe he finishes in the 85-95 total yard range.
Sammy Watkins, amazingly shutout by Indy in Week 1, receptions in a crucial early-season matchup against New England 4.5.
Liz – UNDER. The Bills offense has been entirely remade under Rex Ryan. And Watkins is no longer its centerpiece. While the Pats secondary may be without Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis, I still expect Buffalo to challenge New England on the ground. Watkins – who was wrapped up by Vontae Davis last Sunday - should bounce back in Week 2, but he’s not going to be a target monster. I’m projecting 4 receptions for 62 yards and a score.
Brad – OVER. Hard to pinpoint exactly why Watkins was barely targeted in Week 1. Given his talent in the screen game at least draw up a couple designed plays specifically for him, Gregory Roman. TWO TARGETS?! It's doubtful lightning strikes twice, especially with New England in town. This week the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Mark me down for 5-70-1.
Scott – OVER. The Patriots don't have a Vontae Davis in their secondary, and they probably won't go all-out to delete Watkins in the first place. I also don't expect Buffalo to have such a positive game script this week - they'll actually need to attempt some passes in the fourth quarter.
Best TE DFS value in Week 2: Tyler Eifert (vs. SD, $17), Jordan Reed (vs. StL, $14) Eric Ebron (at Min, $11), Ladarius Green (at Cin, $12) or Austin Seferian-Jenkins (at NO, $12)?
Brad – ASJ. He was the epitome of 'Garbage Time All-Star,' but I like the second-year TE to play a prominent role moving forward. In order to stave off pressure, Jameis Winston must lean on the plus-sized target. Against a New Orleans pass defense that was bombarded by Carson Palmer in Week 1, Seferian-Jenkins should surpass 50 yards with another score.
Dalton – ASJ. He got hyped all preseason and then gained 110 yards with two touchdowns in Week 1. The Bucs should be mostly playing catchup in this game, having to throw a lot in the second half.
Andy – None of the above. Give me VERNON DAVIS at $10. He didn't make a ton of noise in the opener (in one of the ugliest games ever played by professionals), but he was targeted six times, including a deep shot. He's facing a user-friendly Pittsburgh defense this week; don't be surprised by 60-ish yards and a spike.
James Jones, who has scored 20 touchdowns in the past 24 games with Aaron Rodgers under center, TDs against Richard Sherman and the 'Hawks .5.
Andy – OVER. I'm not going to assume that Sherman will occupy Jones. Rodgers doesn't seem to require his trusted receivers to separate from defenders, so our usual worries with JJ don't apply.
Dalton – UNDER. Twenty TDs in his last 24 games with GB is pretty crazy, but I'm still going under here, even though I do like the Packers to win this game and cover Sunday night.
Scott – OVER, because I expect Sherman to see plenty of Randall Cobb, and I'm not sure Davante Adams is fully ready for prime time.
Ameer Abdullah was the ultimate Swiss Army Knife in his regular season debut at SD accounting for 194 all-purpose yards. Unbelievably, though, he logged just three more grips than Joique Bell. Total touches on the road in Minnesota 14.5?
Andy – OVER, but not by a lot. I'd say 13-16 is a good number going forward. Detroit is going to continue using more than one back. Get used to it. In the long run, this probably benefits Abdullah.
Dalton – OVER. He's too good not to be heavily involved. The Lions are underdogs, which should help Abdullah's usage as the more effective receiving back.
Brandon – OVER. Jim Caldwell said that his 11 touches in Week 1 is going to be Abdullah's standard role. And I say that if that is the case, Caldwell's job security will be in serious jeopardy come season's end. Abdullah is a big-play waiting to happen and I have little doubt that the team will start adding touches to his workload as the season progresses, starting with at least an extra four touches this coming weekend.
Fill in the blank. _________, under 50-percent owned in Yahoo leagues, has the most shocker special appeal in Week 2 (Any position).
Brad – BRANDON COLEMAN. Owned in less than one-third of Yahoo leagues, the long, lanky red-zone threat should splash pay-dirt for the second consecutive week. Tampa starting corners Jonathan Banks and Alterraun Verner ranked outside the top-75 Week 1 in pass coverage. In the third-highest projected points game of the week according to Vegas (48.5 O/U), he should finish in range of 4-50-1, at a minimum.
Andy – I'll go CHRIS JOHNSON here, with DAVID JOHNSON in the running as well. And RONNIE HILLMAN and NICK FOLES and PHILLIP DORSETT and TYLER LOCKETT. Plenty of nice options, lightly owned in Yahoo leagues.
Liz – NICK FOLES. The former Eagle actually looked quite good in the season opener. He finished the week among the top ten QBs in fantasy and was ranked the eighth best overall signal caller by Pro Football Focus… and that was opposite the Seahawks. In Week 2 he’ll have a plus matchup against a Washington squad that gave up the most fantasy points to the position in 2014. Priced at $29 in DFS and owned in just 13 percent of Yahoo leagues, Foles is more likely to boom than bust come Sunday.
Just so we're clear, no one is promising you a smorgasbord of fantasy treats on Thursday night, when Denver travels to Kansas City. We're dealing with a pair of talented defenses here, and the teams are playing on short rest. Alex Smith is on one side of this thing, and an alarmingly diminished version of Peyton Manning is on the other. Many issues, many questions.
If you're not looking to buy any additional fantasy shares in this tilt, we get it. Understood. But if you have a dire need for flex help — or let's say you've got less than $15 remaining in your daily budget — then give this guy a look...
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos (36 percent owned, $14 in Yahoo Daily Fantasy)
C.J. Anderson limped away from opening week in something less than mint condition, dealing with toe and ankle issues. Anderson split the rushing workload evenly with Hillman in Week 1, with each back taking a dozen carries. (Hillman was involved in the opening series, we should note; he didn't function simply as a caddie.) A stellar camp and preseason (7.4 YPC) earned Hillman a rotational role in Denver's 2015 offense — and remember, he was basically a must-start player last season before spraining his foot. He produced 100-yard rushing performances against both the Jets and Chargers last year, and he was averaging 4.7 yards per tote, pre-injury.
As of this writing, Anderson is expected to play on Thursday night, so it's not as if Hillman will have the rushing workload all to himself. But the widespread expectation is that Ronnie will see plenty of touches. This from the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck:
Coach Gary Kubiak planned to give Hillman carries entering the season. Nothing has changed. The amount, though, could increase if Anderson is slowed.
Hillman certainly looked like the livelier back in Week 1, so no one should be at all shocked if he sees another 10-14 carries. Kansas City's defense only allowed four rushing touchdowns last season, the lowest total in the NFL, but they weren't so stingy where yardage was concerned (127.3 YPG). Hillman clearly has a path to a double-digit fantasy week. He's on the deep league radar, no question.