NFL Week 13 Fantasy Mailbag

Each Week 13 I like to remind Fantasy Football participants to thank their league commissioners for organizing everything…as long as they scheduled the playoffs to start next week and the championship to take place Week 16.

JJ Watt yell

By the end of the season, you’ve come too far to worry about players on teams who have their division clinched and will potentially be rested Week 17 to make a run in the playoffs. Right now, I would worry about the Patriots, Cardinals and even the Panthers (who could be undefeated still) doing exactly that.

Now for immediate concerns, you are…

A) all good and have clinched a playoff spot. Just playing for the best seeding possible.

B) fighting for a playoff spot. It’s already win or go home.

C) hoping to spoil things for anyone that (B) applies to. It’s about pride at this point.

There is a “D” but you don’t want to be that person. You know, the person who drafted a team and didn’t give enough of a shit to do any maintenance on their roster at all, even after paying dues for a cash league. I played against Jordy Nelson last week. That’s all you need to know.

Quick Hits

  • Perhaps the most exciting individual matchup this weekend will be Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Darrelle Revis. In the past, Revis Island had scared away fantasy owners from even considering starting a #1 WR against him, even quarterbacks at times. In recent weeks though, Revis has allowed big games to DeAndre Hopkins (5 catches, 118 yards, 2 TDs) and Allen Robinson (6-121). Meanwhile, Beckham has cracked 100+ yards in 4 straight weeks, and has done so 13 times in his last 20 games.

[Update] Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles was asked about Revis’s status this week and responded with “I don’t think so.”

ODB dive

 

  • Another team that could potentially clinch their division by Week 17 are the Minnesota Vikings. Big reason why, and the player they’d likely be resting, is Adrian Peterson. AP has 634 yards and 5 touchdowns in his last 5 games, is 72 yards off his 2012 pace when he recorded 2,097 yards, and faces a Seattle defense this week that allowed 117 total yards to DeAngelo Williams. He’ll be the Viking’s best chance against the Seahawks in a black and blue matchup.

AP TD

  • The funniest thing in football may in fact be the biggest difference for tonight’s matchup between the Lions and Packers…Jim Bob Cooter. The Lions have won 3 straight and now have a chance to sweep Green Bay. During that win streak, Matthew Stafford has thrown for 861 yards, no interceptions and 7 touchdowns (5 last week against Philly). Amazing how good Cooter, the OC (try not laughing), looks when his quarterback actually throws the ball to Calvin Johnson.

Stafford to Megatron

 

Mail Time!

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I don’t like Antonio Andrews, or any Titans RBs, at all but seeing Charcandrick West practicing with the Chiefs again leads me to believe Spencer Ware is going to lose a lot of touches. If West plays this week, go with the starters in Andrews and Shaun Draughn. I wouldn’t expect touchdowns out of either, unfortunately. If West doesn’t go, plug Ware in for Andrews.

 

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I understand the concern with Tom Brady, but haven’t we seen this story before? Without Gronk, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, Brady threw 3 touchdowns against the best defense in the league. This week he plays the Eagles and could likely have Amendola back. Philly has given up 10 touchdowns in the last 2 week, and Brady has built a reputation for making something out of nothing (no-name receivers).

If you’re having strong enough doubts, this could be a great week for Ryan Fitzpatrick if he’s miraculously available on your waivers. Bryan Hoyer and Ryan Tannehill could be okay plays if you’re desperate.

 

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The James Starks thing has come and gone, as Eddie Lacy has woken up finally. Now it becomes a question of whether or not you believe in CJ Anderson or not…

If Anderson is going to keep coming back into our good graces, it would be against the Chargers. They have allowed double-digit rushing TDs and 1,800+ rush yards. My gut tells me the Broncos will ride the hot back, just like they should ride the hot quarterback. So start CJ.

For matchup reasons, I have to lean toward LaGarrette Blount over Latavius Murray. The Chiefs have only allowed one back to run for more than 71 yards and have given up 1 rushing touchdown since Week 5. Meanwhile, the Eagles look like they’ve quit on their coach.

 

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Similar to my reasoning to start Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount, that’s why I like Scott Chandler this week. I picked him up in both my leagues (starting him in the one without Gary Barnidge), because Brady loves targeting his tight end. Last time Gronk missed significant time, Brady made Mike Hoomanawanui relevant.

If that doesn’t convince you, Eric Ebron would be a sneaky pickup tonight as the Packers have allowed a touchdown to TEs in 4 straight matchups. The even sneakier move would be Cameron Brate against the Falcons with Austin Seferian-Jenkins still down.

 

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RB: If the Rams offense wasn’t a complete dumpster fire right now, I would say Todd Gurley is a no-brainer. But they are and that means he isn’t. Tony Romo going down means Darren McFadden is going to get all the checkdown passes he could dream of from Matt Cassel. I feel better about McFadden’s floor than Gurley’s ceiling this week.

QB: If Jay Cutler is available, go get him. The 49ers defense is a very different squad on the road than they are at home, allowing 35 points per game away from Levi’s Stadium.

 

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WR: TY Hilton and Eric Decker are easy picks for me. The Steelers are giving up the most catches and  2nd most yards to receivers, and Decker is a touchdown machine scoring in 8 of 10 games. I like what D-Jax has done since returning, but the Cowboys pass defense is brutal.

 

QB: I am going to go with my common theme for this post, trust the Cooter. I am going to use the Lions OC’s name for as long as I can, so deal with it. Stafford’s got a hot hand and Rivers has a bad matchup.

 

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I feel weird saying this, but I like Ryan Fitzpatrick a lot more this week. The Giants secondary is allowing 250+ yards and at least one touchdown to every QB they’ve faced. Meanwhile, I think the Packers are going to get Rodgers killed tonight…but he could always be “RODJAS!” again.

 

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We do have a “Thor” in our league. Otherwise, I recommend GREG, SON OF OLSEN!

Greg son of Olsen

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

Chicago Bears: Marshall Out, McPhee In. Now What?

Ryan Pace has made his first personnel moves to kick off his tenure as Chicago Bears GM.

It began with the trade of Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick.

Brandon Marshall vs. Vikes

In just 3 seasons with the Bears, Marshall ranked 11th for receiving yards (3,524) in Bears history, tied for 5th in touchdowns (31) and 8th in receptions (279). However, following an injury plagued 2014 season and accumulating off-field issues, Pace and new head coach felt it best to part ways with the former pro bowl receiver. The reception of this move has been polarizing among the team’s fan base, but the bottom line is that the Bears received compensation for an almost 31 year old wide receiver (Birthday – March 23rd) coming off multiple injuries and declining athleticism that they planned on releasing anyway. Marshall has also openly voiced how football is more of a platform than a passion, so at least he won’t have to fly cross country to record his weekly Showtime appearance. 5th round picks are no slouches either…unless you consider Carl Nicks, Richard Sherman, or Kam Chancellor as such.

The second big move came today as the Baltimore Sun reported that the Bears and OLB/DE Pernell McPhee have agreed to a 5-year/$40 million deal with $16 million guaranteed…also a 5th round pick.

Pernell McPhee

McPhee isn’t as sexy a name as Julius Peppers was when Lovie Smith rang his doorbell at midnight of the 2010 Free Agency start. McPhee’s skill set and versatility are VERY sexy though. Just 26 years old, McPhee is a pure pass rusher with experience as a defensive end and outside linebacker in Baltimore’s 3-4 system. He has also played end in a 40 front. McPhee has dealt with injuries to both his knees, but played in every game during the past 2 seasons. He recorded 7.5 sacks in 2014 while spelling for pro bowler Terrell Suggs, who was nursing an achilles injury.

The McPhee signing does 3 things:

1. It provides flexibility in the draft. The Bears needed an edge rusher and now they have one. A proven one. They put themselves in a position where they don’t have to draft a “need” but instead the best available player with 7th overall pick. That could be Alabama WR Amari Cooper. Bears could use another top-end pass catching talent. It could be Clemson’s DE/OLB Vic Beasley. You can’t have enough weapons to go after the quarterback on the field.

2. It gives new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio options in his unpredictable defense. McPhee has played every technique on the defensive line. He has stood up to rush the edge. He’ll even rush from the middle on 3rd down from a “chaos” look that you see with multiple 3-4 schemes. And chaos is good…That also opens things up for Fangio to assign positions to unknowns currently on the roster like Willie Young, Jared Allen, and Lamarr Houston.

3. It sets the tone for the type of players the Bears are looking for. The defense is in dyer need of a makeover. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, both Chicago Bears all-timers, are on the outs due to age and recent injury history. The average age for defensive starters was 29 while more than half were 30+ years old. The 26 year old McPhee adds youth, but also has a recent Super Bowl ring as part of his resume from 2012. There are other free agents with winning experience who would also fit the needs of the Bears roster.

What’s Next? 

The new NFL year and free agency officially begins today at 3:00 PM CT. Teams had already struck deals with high target players over the weekend.

DT Ndamukong Suh to Miami (6 years $114 million, $60 million guaranteed)

S Devin McCourty stays with New England (5 years $47.5 million, $28.5 million guaranteed)

WR Randall Cobb stays with Green Bay (4 years $40 million, $17 million guaranteed)

WR Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City (Total and years aren’t confirmed, suspected $11 million per year)

TE Julius Thomas to Jacksonville (Expected multi-year deal, $9 million per year)

C Rodney Hudson to Oakland (5 years $44.5 million, guaranteed money hasn’t been confirmed)

Note: Guaranteed money is key with NFL contracts. Rarely does anyone make their entire contract total.

So let’s look at the Bears’ needs and the targets to address them.

Defensive Line

While McPhee can be plugged in as a 5 technique DE, and one would assume Lamarr Houston would fit at the other side, the Bears still need a space eater in the middle to play nose tackle.

Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton – Former Broncos NT under Fox, stellar run defender. Interest from Raiders, Colts, Washington, and the Bears

Dan Williams – Cardinals DT who didn’t get enough playing time. Ranked 8th vs the run by Pro Football Focus. Interest from Giants, Lions, and Washington

Corey Peters – Falcons DT and 5 year veteran. Rebounded well after achilles injury.

Kenrick Ellis – Jets NT. Great 2 down run stopper.

Vince Wilfork – Patriots NT, 5-time pro bowler and proven winner with plenty and knowledge to share. Devin McCourty is trying hard to get him back.

Wilfork GIF

Inside Linebackers

In Fangio’s 3-4 scheme, there are two ILBs…one being the “Mike” (middle) linebacker and the other being the “Jack” backer who lines up weak side of the line. Opponents’ run games will be funneled inside for the most part and while the NT eats up space and OL, the ILBs will be responsible for finishing the plays tackling.

Bruce Carter – Cowboys LB who filled carried a lot of weight with Sean Lee out. Aggressive and uber-athletic. Would be a huge steal away from the Packers who are targeting him.

Brandon Spikes – Former Bills defensive captain yet was treated like a 2 down defender under Jim Schwartz. While he may be on back end of career, provides the violent thump a Fangio LB needs.

Mason Foster – Buccaneers LB who doesn’t fit in Lovie’s Cover 2, but is better built to take on anything funneled to the middle. Bears already linked to Foster.

Nate Irving – Broncos LB that Fox is obviously familiar with but coming off a knee injury. Still in high demand and being pursued by Cardinals. Powerful and prototype for 3-4 ILB.

Nate Irving INT

Cornerbacks

While the Bears do have Kyle Fuller and former pro bowler Tim Jennings, they weren’t all that great with them after the first month. Health reasons have proven you can’t have too many, and Jennings may be better suited for the nickel as he gets older.

Davon House – Packers CB expected not to return, well versed in Fangio’s system as the he was DC for Dom Capers previously. Excelled as slot defensive back last season.

Perrish Cox – 49ers CB who has off-field issues but obviously experienced with Fangio. Great instincts in coverage and reading receivers hips. Doesn’t allow much spacing.

Darrelle Revis – Obviously a big fish to catch in a small pond, but come on…Revis Island.

Darrelle Revis

Safeties

A glaring need for years with the Bears defense, the Bears already missed out on my first choice, Devin McCourty. Don’t necessarily need a playmaker but someone who is at least dependable.

Rahim Moore – Another former Fox defender who was very solid in 2014. Not as flashy as Earl Thomas but fits the “dependable” mold that would make the Bears comfortable.

Antrel Rolle – Giants safety that Bears are linked to. Very vocal about being reunited with University of Miami teammates Andre Johnson and Wilfork. Wouldn’t necessarily rule that out for Bears.

Da’Norris Searcy – Bills safety with run-stop and coverage skills. Young and wasn’t really an every down player, but certainly looked the part.

Mike Adams – Colts safety who does a solid job. Older player but could fit for a year or two and get it done.

Mike Adams

Wide Receiver

Obviously there’s an opening for another split out receiver after the Marshall trade. As mentioned earlier, drafting one is a likely possibility but why not add someone with experience. The preference for the Bears would be a speedster, somebody who can take the top off a defense. They didn’t have that guy last season and it made the Jay Cutler led offense predictable. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery weren’t burning past anybody for a much needed deep threat. But anyone with dependable hands would also do…before the draft.

Torrey Smith – Ravens receiver who has proven to be a risk/reward option for the past few years. Has dropping issues but can certainly stretch the field though and compliment Jeffery well.

Andre Johnson – Very similar career as Marshall production-wise, without the baggage. Doesn’t fit the burner mold but super dependable route runner. I’d blame his lack of touchdowns on his quarterbacks more than him.

Michael Crabtree – Former Heisman candidate that has shown promise but hasn’t met the ridiculous standards we all set for him. Change in scenery and pairing with Jeffery and Martellus Bennett could help him breakout.

Michael Crabtree

Running Backs

The Bears do have Matt Forte, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to start looking beyond the pro bowl “everything” back. Forte will be in the last year of his deal and at the very least will need a backup this season. Bears look to be very run-heavy this coming season, so a 2-back system would be beneficial to not go overkill with Forte touches.

Ryan Matthews – Chargers RB that has had difficulty staying on the field, but solid power runner when given opportunities. Not sure how much Matthews will garner on the market, but would make a great compliment to Forte and can make it an audition to take over after his contract is up.

CJ Spiller – Very similar situation to Matthews in terms of injury history and needing an audition, but a much better pass catcher and versatile offensive weapon. Spiller is also no stranger to the 2 back system.

Knowshon Moreno – Another back with injury history that could also be affordable because of that. Made his money with Dolphins after playing in Adam Gase’s RB-by-committe system and obviously familiar with Fox.

Knowshon Moreno

Of course there are more needs and other options the Bears could go with. Feel free to recommend your suggestions and follow along the Free Agency action with me on Twitter