Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 2

Week 1 is in the books and man…did football get off the bus running or what?

A few new names made quite an impression on Fantasy Football enthusiasts, like Jalen Richard above. Or Eli Rogers and his ricochet touchdown catches.

However, the Week 2 edition of Thursday Night Football featured much of the opposite. The key offensive players on the Jets are all 30 and over: Ryan Fitzpatrick (33), Brandon Marshall (32) and Matt Forte (30). Forte ran the ball 30 times to rush for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. FitzMagic threw for 374 yards and 1 touchdown in a 37-31 Jets victory.

Quick Hits

  • Some of you were smart and drafted DeAngelo Williams in the 8th round or later (hopefully handcuffing him to Le’Veon Bell). Some of you were smart about picking up Spencer Ware on waivers right after, or drafting him late. Williams owners were treated to an AFC Offensive Player of the Week performance of 171 yards from scrimmage with 6 catches and 2 touchdowns. Ware owners were rewarded with 199 yards from scrimmage, 7 catches a touchdown. They may be placeholders for Bell and Jamaal Charles for now but Williams and Ware are playing at level that’s worth riding for as long as you can, considering they were both Top 4 in total yardage.

  • Carson Wentz impressed a lot of people across the league in his NFL debut. Completing 22 of his 37 passes for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns earned Wentz the 7th highest quarterback rating by a rookie on opening day. Although it doesn’t count for Fantasy points, there were more Wentz jerseys sold than any in the league over the 2 days following the opener. Wentz will have an opportunity to build on his success and become the 5th NFL quarterback since 1960 to start his career 2-0 against a shaky Bears secondary on Monday Night Football.

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  • On the flip-side of the Week 2 Monday Night matchup, Alshon Jeffery could be in for a big night. The Eagles will be without starting CB Leodis McKelvin and will depend on a 7th round pick Jalen Mills in his place. Also being counted on to cover Jeffery is Nolan Carroll, who was lit up by the BROWNS (all caps necessary) in Week 1. Jeffery became the first Bears player since Forte (in 2010) to record 100+ receiving yards in the first half, against Houston, and should do even more damage when Chicago hosts Philly.

 

Mail Time!

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I love the repertoire Willie Snead and Drew Brees have. Snead had the best game of his young career in Week 1 (9 catches, 172 yards, 1 TD) in a shootout with Oakland. A game with the Giants has potential for similar results, but I still lean toward Spencer Ware while you can still use him. The Saints have a heck of a wide receiver group and anyone can be in-store for a big day. Ware is guaranteed to get touches against a Texans defense that allowed 57 rush yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Langford a week ago. Alex Smith is also bound to continue dumping the ball off to Ware over the pass rush.

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Going back to the potential shootout between the Giants and Saints, I would go with Snead in this case…mostly because I think Eli Manning will be targeting Odell Beckham Jr. more than Victor Cruz after just 4 catches a week ago. OBJ is 9 catches away from becoming the youngest receiver to 200.

Remember the 52-49 game a year ago? Round 2 has a lot of hype to live up to.

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Flex: Safest play would be Golden Tate, who will be a target machine in his hometown of Nashville. Boom would be Demaryius Targaryen against a weak Indy secondary, but he’s dealing with a bad hip. Melvin Gordon may be taking a step back, as his team should be playing a lot of catchup against the high-powered (that’s right) Jaguars offense.

QB: I’m not particularly high on a less-mobile Russell Wilson against one of the best pass rushing front-7’s in football. Wilson has proved me wrong in the past, but I see the Seahawks attacking St. Louis better by handing off to the Rawls-Michael tandem. Trust the Jim Bob Cooter offense and Matthew Stafford this weekend.

 

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Einhorn. Sean Young, FTW.

 

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I do like Houston better, you’re right…but way more because of Whitney Mercilus than JJ Watt. The pass rush that they hoped to get from Jadeveon Clowney has arrived in the form of a man with a great football name, from the University of Illinois. While Cincy-Pittsburgh always lives up to its “rock’em, sock’em” reputation, but the Steelers offense is too good (even without Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell) to bet against.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-53-55-am I hope you didn’t go with McCoy…

A tandem of DJ2K (David Johnson) and Williams is a tough one to beat. They are also two of the most reliable backs you can find, with schemes that will always put the ball in their hands. Have fun.

 

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I like Stefon Diggs the most, as a receiver, but I don’t like the quarterback situation throwing him the ball. It will either be an under-prepared Sam Bradford or Shaun Hill against the Packers 3-4 pass rush. Does that inspire confidence in you? I didn’t think so…

Emmanuel Sanders may be the best option for the sole reason that he is the healthier than Thomas and he’s going against one of the worst secondaries in football.

 

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Jay Cutler and I think you should go with Will Fuller.

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Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter

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All The Super Bowl 50 Storylines, So Far…

Conference Championship Sunday featured the #1 seeds from both the AFC and NFC showing exactly how they got to where they are now. The Broncos defense beat the crap of Tom Brady, hitting him more than any other quarterback was all season, and their quarterback did enough to pull off the win. While the Panthers were also stellar on defense, their offense continued to shred another opposing top defense. Cam Newton became the 3rd quarterback to rush for 2 touchdowns and throw 2 as well in the playoffs (after Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick).

For the next two weeks, we’re going to wait way too long for what can be very good game…or an absolute blowout (I believe it will be the former). What you can expect is a plethora of storylines because both these teams aren’t lacking at all for them. You may get a new one every 12 hours until kickoff.

Here are ALL the storylines I could think of so far.

 

1. Cam’s Arrival

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Cam Newton has fun. After yesterday’s 49-15 decimation of the Arizona Cardinals, Newton had compiled 50 total touchdowns for 2015-16 (regular season and post season combined). Newton has a patented pointing mechanic on first downs, dances after touchdowns, and hands the ball to a kid in the stands when he’s done. You may not like it, but you’re going to have to get used to it. The league has become his video game and everyone else looks like they’re on “Easy Mode” for him.

Newton came into the league as a Heisman Trophy winner with a bad rap. He was arrested at Florida for stealing a laptop. His time at Auburn was scrutinized due to an investigation into his recruitment, which the NCAA came away with nothing. He was still drafted #1 overall and now has a chance to win a Super Bowl after 5 seasons, very likely with an MVP trophy on his mantle as well. What’s scary is that he’s done it without his #1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, all season.

Football fans without a stick up their asses are loving it. Others will choose to be miserable, and you’ll hear plenty from them for the next 2 weeks.

Some people just can’t have nice things, and that’s fine. Newton fans, on the other hand, can keep enjoying the best player in the league right now. In his last 10 games, Newton has scored 31 touchdowns (24 passing, 7 rushing). Who else from Newton’s “generation” comes even close to his level of play? Maybe Russell Wilson, but that’s it.

2. Peyton’s Last Stand

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Of the 4 quarterbacks facing off on Championship Sunday, Peyton Manning had the most on the line in terms of legacy. A win would help change his narrative that he’s just the best “regular season” quarterback. Now he’s won more games against 4-time champion Tom Brady than lost (3-2), and could join an elite group of only 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings.

While the Broncos didn’t necessarily win because of Manning (we’ll get to that in a minute), they weren’t going to lose because of him either. When the running game couldn’t get going, Manning made key 3rd down conversions with both his arm and even his legs.

Manning run

When Peyton Manning is successfully running boot plays on your defense, you might not deserve to go to the Super Bowl. In his 4th trip, Manning can do something that the president of the Denver Broncos, John Elway, accomplished before retiring…go out on top.

3. Defense Wins Championships

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Super Bowl 50 is going to feature the league’s 2 best defenses who clearly proved that on Championship Sunday. The Broncos halted the #1 passing team in the NFL (New England) and the Panthers did the same with the #2 passing team (Arizona).

As mentioned earlier, the Broncos defense just manhandled Tom Brady and Von Miller led the way with 2.5 sacks and an interception. Miller’s presence was the certainly felt but so Derek Wolfe and DeMarcus Ware’s, only allowing Brady to finish 7/23 for 73 yards and a passer rating of 37.0 when pressured. The most impressive part of the Broncos defense dominating a fully healthy Patriots offense was that they were able to do so blitzing Brady a season low 17.2% of the time.

Throwing to Rob Growkowski against the Broncos, Brady was 8/15 for 144 and 1 touchdown. Throwing to everyone else, he was 19/41, 166 yards and 0 TDs. Heads up, Greg Olsen.

The Panthers ranked 2nd in defensive efficiency in 2015 (according to ESPN), just behind Denver. While the Broncos pressure the quarterback like crazy, the Panthers defense is racking up points off turnovers. On top Newton’s insane scoring rate, the Panthers have added 9.5 points per game to their net margin of victory as a result of takeaways, 1.7 points more than anyone else. They forced 7 turnovers, 6 from Carson Palmer, on Sunday.

 

4. Coaches Have A Lot In Common

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Both Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak played on teams that went to the Super Bowl. Rivera won as a linebacker with the 1985 Chicago Bears. Kubiak went to 3, all as backup quarterback to John Elway, and lost them too.

Both Rivera and Kubiak went to the Super Bowl as coordinators. Rivera was the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2006-07, losing to Peyton Manning’s Colts. Kubiak won three after his playing career, once as an assistant for the 49ers (1994) and twice more as Broncos offensive coordinator (1997 & 1998).

Now both Rivera and Kubiak will be standing on opposite sidelines of the sport’s biggest stage. They were also both successors for current Bears head coach John Fox.

5. Poor John Fox

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Actually, good new Bears fans!

John Fox went to the Super Bowl in each of his second seasons with the Panthers and Broncos. He didn’t win, but going is a nice improvement.

 

6. Other Bears Connections

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A few more former Bears you can root for in the Super Bowl, if you feel so inclined:

1. Greg, Son of Olsen.

Greg son of Olsen

2. Jared Allen (meh)

3. Charles “Peanut” Tillman (although on IR, but still a great dude)

Panthers Tillman

 

7. Unsung Heroes

Broncos Bench

The Broncos “Other” Defensive Linemen (above)

While Miller, Ware and Wolfe get all the sack glory, defensive ends Malik Jackson and Antonio Smith and nose tackle Sylvester Williams are teeing them up and destroying opposing running backs.

Ted Ginn Jr.

I love that Ted Ginn Jr. went from being the guy who drops everything to a 10 touchdown WR. A lot of that may be thanks to his quarterback, but somebody has to take the top off defenses and burn opposing safeties like Ginn has.

Emmanuel Sanders

Something I may have left out of Peyton Manning’s storyline was how Emmanuel Sanders made some of the BIGGEST plays on 3rd down for his quarterback. While Damaryius Thomas was off and on during the season, Sanders had 4 games of 8+ receptions. With Manning throwing more underneath and Josh Norman covering Thomas, Sanders will be a huge key against the Broncos nickel coverage.

 

The Panthers Team Picture Game

Exhibit A

Stay Tuned For More Super Bowl 50 Coverage on MichaelPiff.com. There will be more on the Halftime Show, Commercials, Media Day, and the annual “Everything But Football” piece as well. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter

 

NFL Week 11 Fantasy Mailbag

When you hear the phrase “down the stretch”, this is officially it. We’re all just a few weeks away from the Fantasy playoffs and every win really counts. Your lineup probably looks very different than it did to start the season, much like those of actual NFL rosters by Week 11. For instance, Peyton Manning…

It seems like yesterday when Peyton’s receivers were playing keep away with his record setting touchdown pass.

Peyton keepaway

Fast forward to last Sunday when Peyton threw more interceptions (4) than the number of yards he needed to break the all-time passing yards record (3). Next thing you know, he’s on the bench for Brock Osweiler, and Gary Kubiak says it only has to do with a plantar fascia issue and not based on merit. Politics and bad Broncos storylines aside, I’m glad I traded Peyton after Week 1 and picked up Cam Newton and Jay Cutler off waivers.

Cam Dance

 

Quick Hits

 

  • As one aforementioned AFC West quarterback seems to be riding off into the distance, a new one seems to have arrived in a big way. Derek Carr is coming off a streak of 3 straight 300+ yard performances and 10 touchdowns over that stretch. Not only is Carr a surefire Top 10 QB now, his Top 2 WRs become easy starts every week as well because of his maturation. Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree get a plum matchup at Detroit against a defense that has given up big numbers against solid receiver duos like Keenan Allen/Stevie Johnson (21-248-1), Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders (15-179-1), and Larry Fitzgerald/John Brown (9-131-2).

Carr to Crabtree

  • Helping Kirk Cousins achieve his perfect 158.3 passer rating last week against the Saints was his tight end, Jordan Reed. Reed’s health has always been a hinderance for his production, but he’s currently as hot as anyone in the end zone. Over his last 3 games, Reed has scored 5 touchdowns. He’s also the 2nd highest targeted tight end in the end zone and is getting plenty more opportunities than any of the other Washington WRs. Reed takes on a Panthers defense this weekend that has allowed 3 touchdowns in their last 3 games.

 

  • I’ve learned my lesson on Lamar Miller. No matter how juicy the matchup looks for other running backs on my team, I can’t leave Miller on my bench. Even if he’s being limited in the run game (only 103 yards rushing in his last 3 games), he’s racking up the points receiving with 7 touchdowns through the air over his last 5 games.

 

Mail Time!

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Danny Amendola should not be left available in any league at this point. Before his injury, Julian Edelman was getting 10 targets per game from Tom Brady. Amendola had 11 just on Sunday. He’s filling in the Edelman role and has returner duties as well for more potential points.

Between Danny Woodhead or John Brown to drop, I would feel better letting go of Brown for the time being. You’ve had at least 3 weeks of no production in a row out of the guy. Jaron Brown was confusing viewers the other night getting more looks than John actually. I’m sure he’ll get back on track with Michael Floyd dealing with a hamstring injury, but Woodhead is much more valuable to the Chargers’ depleted offense than Brown is to the Cardinals.

 

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I know the bad version of Andy Dalton showed up again Monday night, but the guy was and probably still is an MVP candidate this season. With that said, Russell Wilson’s matchup against the 49ers at home is too good to ignore. The Niners are allowing 327 pass yards per game on the road. If Wilson doesn’t show up for you this week, you can drop his ass. Quote me on that one.

 

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Flex: At this point, I can’t sit either Cooper or Crabtree with the way Carr is throwing. And he’s going to light up the Lions secondary this weekend too. While the running back hipster in me wants you go with Danny Woodhead, the upside for Michael Crabtree is too great this weekend to pass up. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers start running Melvin Gordon more to see what they have while they are out of the playoff race.

WR: Simply because Kamar Aiken is Joe Flacco’s only pass option, I like his chances for production over Donte Moncrief. TY Hilton will be closer to 100% this weekend and will garner more attention from Matt Hasselbeck. Moncrief also falls behind the tight ends for targets as they are Rob Chudzinski’s bread and butter for play calling.

 

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At least you’re in first place with a few weeks left in the regular season. If there are guys on your roster who are out for the season, you should already be working the waiver wire for the best available pickups. Let me know on Facebook or Twitter who’s in Free Agency for your league and we’ll patch up your lineup.

 

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The Broncos wide receivers probably got an upgrade with Manning going down. I anticipate Emmanuel Sanders’s possession game will be more helpful to Osweiler, especially this week against the Bears. Quietly, Kyle Fuller has played like one of the best cornerbacks in football recently and he’ll likely draw Demaryius Thomas. Go with old reliable Sanders over Jeremy Maclin, who hasn’t done much since Week 5.

 

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Flex: For the same reason I listed earlier, go with Aiken. While the Broncos will run more this weekend, the Bears are stout against the run. They’ve only allowed 3 touchdowns to running backs all season as well.

TE: If one person is doing well for the Packers during their current 3 game slide, it’s Richard Rodgers. He has 3 touchdowns in his last 2 games, 14 targets, 10 catches, and likely all of Aaron Rodgers’s attention in the red zone against a Vikings D that keeps WRs and RBs in check regularly.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.54.50 AMDude…Marshawn. And if Thomas Rawls is available, go handcuff him in case something absurd happens. But seriously…Marshawn.

Marshawn racoon

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! 

NFL Week 5 Fantasy Mailbag

We’re now a quarter of the way into the season but for most of you, we’re actually 30% of the way there as your Fantasy league’s regular season probably goes through Week 13.

In no way am I adding any pressure on you to turn things around or anything. Relax.

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Here are your best performers so far at each position so far. 

Quarterbacks

5. Tyrod Taylor (BUF) – 988 pass yards, 8 TD / 4 INT, 111 rush yards

4. Carson Palmer (AZ) – 1,155 pass yards, 10 TD / 3 INT

3. Andy Dalton (CIN) – 1,187 pass yards, 9 TD / 1 INT

2. Tom Brady (NE) – (Week 4 Bye) 1,112 pass yards, 9 TD / 0 INT

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB) – 995 pass yards, 11 TD / 0 INT, 107 rush yards

Rodgers Week 4

Running Backs

5. Matt Forte (CHI) – 367 rush yards, 1 TD, 133 rec. yards, 13 catches

4. Mark Ingram (NO) – 204 rush yards, 2 TD, 203 rec. yards, 22 catches

3. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – 372 rush yards, 3 TD, 92 rec. yards, 9 catches

2. Jamaal Charles (KC) – 306 rush yards, 4 TD, 151 rec. yards, 20 catches, 1 TD

1. Devonta Freeman (ATL) – 252 rush yards, 7 TD, 196 rec. yards, 17 catches 

Devonta Week 4

Wide Receivers 

5. DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) – 31 catches, 409 rec. yards, 3 TD

4. Antonio Brown (PIT) – 34 catches, 478 rec. yards, 2 TD, 70 return yards

3. Travis Benjamin (CLE) – 16 catches, 328 rec. yards, 4 TD, 214 return yards, 1 TD

2. Larry Fitzgerald (AZ) – 30 catches, 432 rec. yards, 5 TD

1. Julio Jones (ATL) – 38 catches, 478 rec. yards, 4 TD

Julio Jones Week 4

Tight Ends

5. Charles Clay (BUF) – 21 catches, 255 yards, 2 TD

4. Tyler Eifert (CIN) – 16 catches, 222 yards, 3 TD

3. Jason Witten (DAL) – 25 catches, 238 yards, 2 TD

2. Travis Kelce (KC) – 21 catches, 293 yards, 2 TD

1. Rob Gronkowski (NE) – 16 catches, 308 yards, 4 TD

Gronk Week 4

Mail Time!

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Starting with your WRs…

Sammy Watkins is still listed as Questionable and being considered day-to-day. I wouldn’t bank on him going this weekend, nor do I like Michael Crabtree against the Broncos defense. Denver’s pass defense is currently tops in the NFL…Eddie Royal, on the other hand, goes against the league’s worst pass defense when it comes to allowing WR touchdowns. The Bears also appear to be getting Alshon Jeffery back, which will only soften the coverage on Royal. So yeah, Royal.

While I don’t love starting anyone against the Seahawks defense, Andy Dalton (aka “ADalt” in my Fantasy world) has been too good to sit this season. Dalton is throwing 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns in all of his games so far, and Seattle has faced only 1 decent quarterback so far.

I know Bruce Arians is dubbing Chris Johnson as the #1 running back in Arizona, but I’m not sure how much weight that holds when he has Andre Ellington back. Detroit’s run defense has only given up more than 50 yards once, and that was to Adrian peterson…With Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick out, I think the Cowboys are in big trouble going against New England. The #BradyRevengeTour is going call for a lot of scoring and a lot of red zone opportunities for the Patriots running backs again. If his usage in the 2nd half of Week 3 is any indication, LeGarrette Blount is going to get his.

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If Andy Reid’s play calling wasn’t so conservative, I would lean toward Alex Smith. But Andy Dalton hasn’t done anything to warrant benching him yet, and I’m very eager to see what he can do against the Legion of Boom. The Bears have also somehow figured out how to get to quarterbacks after cutting ties with Jared Allen (weird).

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RB: Ronnie Hillman – He’s basically a co-starter with CJ Anderson getting the same amount of touches and more production. And he’s actually reached the end zone…Tevin Coleman’s taking a backseat to Devonta Freeman and his Jim Brown-like numbers. And just no on Ryan Matthews. No.

WR: Emmanuel Sanders – If the Bears weren’t enough proof, that Raiders secondary is BAD. Sanders is also getting ALL the Peyton Manning passes, and you’re not going to get that kind of production with your other options. Then I go with Kendall Wright. The Bills have an incredible front 7 but are incredibly susceptible to the pass. Wright’s averaging 10.5 yards per target too.

I’m not an odds maker, but I would keep betting on Todd Gurley while he’s healthy.

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Two reasons I like Pierre Garcon the most. (1) Even if Desean Jackson comes back this weekend, he’s not going to be 100% and only takes pressure off Garcon. (2) Kirk Cousins loves throwing to Garcon and you have to think Washington will be playing catchup against the high power Falcons offense.

I like Sproles in the flex if you get return yard points. If you have better running back options, play them…but you get the feeling he’s going to get as many chances as possible to make the team that let him go pay for it.

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(1) Derek Carr is either going to show us all how good he can be, or he’s going to get his ass kicked by the best pass defense in the league. If Alex Smith is your best available option, you can try him…however, I like Jay Cutler even better in his game against the KC D that’s giving up the most passing TDs in the league.

(2) The upside is higher with Latavius Murray. He may have been put in timeout but if the Raiders want to have a chance against the Broncos D, I think he’s learned his lesson. Cardinals front 7 is too good for me to feel comfortable starting Abdullah ahead of him, despite the strong showing he had against the Seahawks.

(3). If I’m picking 3, I’m not playing Carlos Hyde. The Giants run defense is one of the best in the NFL and this is what the 49ers offense looks like:

Tire Fire

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I know Breesus, King of the Drews, just threw his 400th touchdown but Carson Palmer is far more trustworthy this season at this point.

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TJ Yeldon finally eclipsed 100 yards and his next matchup should make Fantasy owners hungry. The Bucs are giving up the 3rd most rushing yards and a touchdown to running backs in 3 of their first 4 games. Given the matchups and Jack Del Rio’s benching trigger finger, I feel much better about Yeldon.

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I would go with neither of the Kearses. Seattle WRs are more unpredictable than Belichick running backs and retired defensive players are retired defensive players…Snead got more snaps than any Saints WR last week and I say roll with the Waiver Flavor of the Week.

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! 

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Wide Receivers

As the NFL trends toward more passing and scoring, the receiver position has become more and more valuable. If you play in a PPR league, receivers are as important and some even more than running backs.

There are a handful of WRs who are worth taking before the big producing quarterbacks (Luck & Rodgers), and one who can be as good as any player in the league. Here’s my Top 40 to help you prepare for your upcoming draft. 

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

Antonio

2014: 1,698 receiving yards, 129 catches, 15 TDs, 319 return yards

Brown is probably the best offensive weapon in football. Incredible speed, always has the ball thrown his way, and he scores from everywhere on the field. Has also proven it 2 years in a row

Pick: Middle-Late 1st Round

2. Odell Beckham Jr, NYG

ODB

2014: 1,305 receiving yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 171 return

ODB accumulated those numbers playing less games than most starting NFL receivers. Absolute difference maker for fantasy teams and carried some to the playoffs and championship last year.

Pick: Late 1st Round

3. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

Damaryius

2014: 1,619 rec yards, 111 catches, 11 TDs

Manning has a year or two left and he’s going to go out guns blazing. Thomas is his go-to guy with both Julius Thomas and Welker gone. Expect him to get the ball early and often.

Pick: 2nd Round

4. Dez Bryant, DAL

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2014: 1,320 rec yards, 88 catches, 16 TDs

Dez is the best in the red zone. Without a designated feature running back, expect Romo to be throwing more than last year and likely throwing to Dez.

Pick 2nd Round

5. Julio Jones, ATL

Julio Jones, Quentin Jammer

2014: 1,593 rec yards, 104 catches, 7 TDs

Julio used to have an annual injury that holds him out for significant time but he held his own pretty well last year. One of the fastest guys on the field, even when injured, and Matt Ryan’s favorite target.

Pick 2nd Round

6. Calvin Johnson, DET

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

2014: 1,077 rec yards, 71 catches, 8 TDs

It’s weird ranking Megatron behind multiple guys, but he is getting older and coming off of an injury plagued season. Healed up, he still has the ability to win games by himself, and I trust him the most on the Lions roster.

Pick: Late 2nd Round

7. AJ Green, CIN

AJ

2014: 1,041 rec yards, 69 catches, 6 TDs

Big reason for Andy Dalton’s drop-off was AJ Green’s injury last year. Green is back healthy and will be as solid as ever if Cincinnati sets him up with their running game.

Pick: Late 2nd – Early 3rd 

8. Randall Cobb, GB

Cobb

2014: 1,287 rec yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 112 return

Ridiculous how Cobb and Nelson were able to have such high numbers last season, but that’s how it works in the Green Bay system. With Nelson down, Cobb jumps up in value, but by how much? That’ll depend on how the next man up performs?

Pick: 2nd-Early 3rd Round

9. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

2014: 1,133 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Alshon has a chance to be a superstar with Brandon Marshall gone. He’ll be expected to play a Demaryius Thomas role in the new Bears system that will be set up by the run. Eddie Royal in the slot will also help get Jeffery open. He’s missed time in the preseason due to injury but is expected to be good to go for Week 1.

Pick: 3rd Round

10. TY Hilton, IND

T.Y. Hilton

2014: 1,345 rec yards, 82 catches, 7 TDs

Colts still added a few more weapons for Andrew Luck, but T.Y.’s still the #1 guy. He’s always downfield and, if anything, Andre Johnson will help him get more open.

Pick: 3rd Round

11. Mike Evans, TB

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills

2014: 1,051 rec yards, 68 catches, 12 TDs

Jameis Winston looks okay so far this preseason and is a much better quarterback than Josh McCown. All Mike Evans needs is someone who can throw the ball down field and he’ll go get it. 

Pick: 4th Round

12. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

Hopkins

2014: 1,210 rec yards, 76 catches, 6 TDs

This will be the guy that jumps up people’s draft boards because of Hard Knocks. This time, I think it will be justified because DeAndre is the best player on that offense not named Arian Foster (who is out because of injury). Brian Hoyer was just named the starting QB, and Hopkins should feel better about his consistency. 

Pick: 4th Round

13. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

2014: 1,404 rec yards, 101 catches, 9 TDs

Sanders went under the radar as one of the most productive WRs last year, and he’s going under the radar here too because of the low expectations for Peyton Manning. Just like Randall Cobb a year ago, Sanders gets open when Thomas gets more attention. Could be a really good WR2.

Pick 4th Round

14. Brandin Cooks, NO

Cooks

2014: 550 rec yards, 53 catches, 3 TDs

Cooks started last season as one of the best rookie WRs in a great class…and then got hurt. If Breesus is going to bounce back after an up-and-down season, Cooks will be the key to that. Best athlete on their team.

Pick 4th or 5th Round

15. Jordan Matthews, PHI

Matthews

2014: 872 rec yards, 67 catches, 8 TDs

Philly is trying to sell people on Matthews being a stud, but the truth is that there is nobody better ahead of him. If Jeremy Maclin’s #1 receiver production a year ago is any indication, the Chip Kelly system may pay off big time for owners. 

Pick 5th Round

16. Andre Johnson, IND

Andre

2014: 936 rec yards, 86 catches, 3 TDs

Andre dealt with a really bad quarterback situation in Houston the past few years but also wasn’t getting open in the end zone. With so many weapons demanding coverage for Indy, he will have better opportunities to score. Andrew Luck will see to that.

Pick 6th Round

17. Golden Tate, DET

Golden

2014: 1,331 rec yards, 99 catches, 4 TDs

Based on last year’s production, Tate should ranked higher. A lot of that was thanks to Megatron either being hurt or drawing coverage away from him. I wouldn’t expect the same catch and yardage numbers, but he would make a solid low end WR2/Flex guy.

Pick 6th Round

18. Julian Edelman, NE

Edelman

2014: 972 rec yards, 92 catches, 5 TDs, 299 return

Tom Brady’s favorite receiver will have to step it up if #12 misses any time. Not very consistent but gets a lot of catches for PPR and will pick up those random return yards that make you mad if you sat him. (Personal experience)

Pick 6th or 7th Round

19. Brandon Marshall, NYJ

Brandon Marshall

2014: 721 rec yards, 61 catches, 8 TDs

Brandon Marshall’s starting quarterback just got punched in the face and is out 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw. The Jets don’t have any quarterbacks and Marshall isn’t getting any younger either. I would also be worried about his injuries from last season being a sign that he may miss time again. Still has potential to have big TD games, but I wouldn’t depend on him for yardage.

Pick 7th Round

20. Amari Cooper, OAK

Amari

Rookie

Definitely the best of the rookies in this year’s class. Could give you great value if he plays to his potential right away. Fast and has knack for getting to the end zone.

Pick 7th Round

21. Keenan Allen, SD

Keenan

2014: 783 rec yards, 77 catches, 4 TDs

Allen was one of the most targeted players in the league last year but wasn’t making the catches. He settled in later on, but the Chargers seem like a run heavy team going into the season. With Eddie Royal gone, he’ll definitely get more attention from Rivers (Batman-Woo!)

Pick 7th Round

22. DeSean Jackson, WAS

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

2014: 1,169 rec yards, 56 catches, 6 TDs

I don’t like the Washington offense at all. RG-III is a broken player and that makes DeSean a hit or miss player. He’ll have great games because of speed, but then he’ll be invisible because nobody can get him the ball.

Pick 8th Round

23. Sammy Watkins, BUF

Sammy

2014: 982 rec yards, 65 catches, 6 TDs

Sammy is clearly the best receiver in Buffalo, but the bad trio of quarterbacks battling for the starting spot make you worried as to how consistent his production will be. They are going to run a lot and that may open things up for Sammy. WR isn’t a very valuable position on Rex Ryan teams.

Pick 8th Round

24. Jarvis Landry, MIA

Landry

2014: 758 rec yards, 84 catches, 5 TDs, 1,158 return

Landry was an under-the-radar productive rookie last year and I expect him to play even better in his second year. With Wallace gone, he’ll be much more depended on by Tannehill.

Pick 8th Round

25. Davante Adams, GB

Davante

2014: 446 rec yards, 38 catches, 3 TD

Davante just became a lot more valuable with Jordy being lost for the season. Week 1 will be an audition for him to see if he can fill the role opposite Cobb. He had flashes last season but also dropped some important passes. The best bet is to draft him later and take the risk than pass up on Rodgers’s next best WR.

Pick 8th Round

26. Victor Cruz, NYG

Cruz

2014: 337 yards, 23 catches, 1 TD

With two knee surgeries in as many years and currently a calf injury that is keeping out of the Giants’ 3rd preseason game, Victor Cruz seems like a liability going into the 2015 season. Cruz is confident he’ll be good to go in Week 1 and could put up his old production with defenses paying more attention to Beckham. 

Pick 8th Round

27. Eric Decker, NYJ

Decker

2014: 962 rec yards, 74 catches, 5 TDs

Oddly, I trust Eric Decker more than I do Brandon Marshall in New York. You can see Marshall getting double-teamed and opening things up over the middle and deep for Decker, which is something that works better for Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback…Marshall is going to hate Fitzpatrick.

Pick: 8th Round

28. Jeremy Maclin, KC

Maclin

2014: 1,318 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Maclin was one of the best receivers in the league last year. Unfortunately, Alex Smith is his quarterback now. Kansas City WRs didn’t catch a TD pass until the backend of the season. Maclin may improve those numbers reuniting with Andy Reid, so he could be steal here.

Pick 8th Round

29. Roddy White, ATL

Roddy

2014: 921 rec yards, 80 catches, 7 TDs

Roddy is a pass catching machine and sometimes gets to the end zone. His issue in recent years is staying healthy, but should benefit from Julio getting most of the attention.

Pick 9th Round

30. Mike Wallace, MIN

Wallace

2014: 862 rec yards, 67 catches, 10 TD

Wallace is very good at finding the end zone and is the most proven among the Vikings receivers. As Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as an NFL quarterback, I would trust Wallace the most in the group.

Pick 9th Round

31. Steve Smith Sr., BAL

Smith Sr.

2014: 1,065 rec yards, 79 catches, 6 TD

I expect Steve Smith to go way too early in drafts because he’s a name people know. It’s his last season, so he’s going to try to ball out, but that’s only going to work if Joe Flacco can get him the ball. The WR group in Baltimore is pretty thin so if Flacco is playing well, so will Smith Sr.

Pick 9th round

32. Anquan Boldin, SF

Boldin

2014: 1,062 rec yards, 83 catches, 5 TDs

Boldin is a badass and he has good chemistry with Kaepernick. You can expect, the Niners to play a lot of catchup this season because their defense is so depleted, which means Boldin will be getting a lot of targets.

Pick 9th Round

33. John Brown, AZ

NFL: St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals

2014: 696 rec yards, 48 catches, 5 TDs

Among the Cardinals receivers, John Brown is the Home Run player for Carson Palmer to throw to downfield. May be boom or bust if Michael Floyd returns and stays healthy. Theoretically can be open a lot if Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd draw most of the coverage. 

Pick 10th Round

34. Vincent Jackson, TB

VJax

2014: 1002 rec yards, 70 catches, 2 TDs

I always feel like VJax would be a better player on a different team, but he makes due with the quarterbacks throwing to him. If Jameis Winston is able to read defenses quickly, VJax will benefit from it. Mike Evans will be the first option, but the floor isn’t very low on VJax either.

Pick 10th Round

35. Allen Robinson, JAX

ARob

2014: 548 rec yards, 48 catches, 2 TDs

It’s easier to trust Jacksonville RBs than their WRs, but Allen Robinson can be a stud. His problem is staying healthy, as he broke his foot last year after heating up. Blake Bortles can sling it though, so keep an eye on A-Rob late.

Pick 10th Round

36. Eddie Royal, CHI

Royal

2014: 778 rec yards, 62 catches, 7 TDs

I think Eddie Royal is going to surprise a lot of people this year with the Bears. He’s reunited with Jay Cutler, and both players had their best statistical seasons playing together. Royal provides something Cutler hasn’t had in years, which is a true slot receiver. So as Alshon Jeffery is getting covered deep and Martellus Bennett is drawing attention, Royal will be open in the middle.

Pick 10th Round

37. Kendall Wright, TEN

Wright

2014: 715 rec yards, 57 catches, 6 TDs

Kendall Wright has been inconsistent for a long time, and part of that is thanks to bad quarterbacks being in Tennessee. Early reviews though, are that he’s playing well in practice with Marcus Mariota and that’s encouraging. If Mariota transitions well, he should be able to extend plays with his feet and that helps Wright downfield a lot.

Pick 11th Round

38. Stevie Johnson, SD

Stevie

2014: 435 rec yards, 35 catches, 3 TD

Stevie was in a bad situation with San Francisco, as that offense turned out to be a mess. In San Diego, he’ll be depended on a lot more especially with Antonio Gates out for the first 4 weeks. Coaches say that he can average 7+ catches, which could make him a steal this far back.

Pick 11th Round or later

39. Nelson Agholor, PHI

Algohor

Rookie

Agholor is expected to do big things for the Eagles as they selected him in the first round. He’s now taking 1st team reps, and should be a starter Week 1. If Chip Kelly’s weird offense works, Agholor could be big if Jordan Matthews is getting the attention most people expect him to.

Pick 11th round or later

40. Michael Floyd, AZ

Floyd

2014: 841 rec yards, 47 catches, 6 TD

Floyd is returning from a dislocated finger injury but is on track to be ready for Week 1. If he can stay on the field, Floyd can do big things as John Brown takes the top off opposing defenses. Potential steal late in your draft. 

Draft 11th Round or later. 

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Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet