NFL Week 2 Fantasy Mailbag

Week 1 is in the books, and we’re off and running! 

Tyler Lockett return TD

The return of the NFL to your Sundays, and big return touchdowns from Tyler Lockett (SEA), Jarvis Landry (MIA) and Tavon Austin (STL), had everyone buzzing after the weekend. Top receivers like T.Y. Hilton (IND) and DeSean Jackson (WSH) had Fantasy managers all over the waiver wire for suitable replacements. If you had Peyton Manning, have you already tried handcuffing him in a trade for someone who you feel confident about throwing further than 10 yards?…I did. 

Quick Hits 

  • If you haven’t traded Peyton yet, because you couldn’t or you want to hold out hope, picking up Marcus Mariota certainly seemed like the sexy move after his NFL debut with the Titans. Mariota became the first rookie to post a perfect passer rating (158.3) and the second to throw 4 touchdowns in his debut. Fran Tarkenton was the first in 1961, but Mariota accomplished the feat in just the first half…I wouldn’t expect the the same dominance against the likes of Joe Haden and the Browns defense this week, but Super Mariota is worth having on your bench. 

  • Hard not to feel good about the offense that takes on that Buccaneers defense after you saw what a rookie quarterback and Bishop Sankey did to them. At home, Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, and maybe even Brandon Coleman will eat the Tampa secondary alive. Mark Ingram owners should also be excited for the matchup after seeing his usage in the passing game last week. CJ Spiller is set to return, but Ingram shouldn’t lose too many snaps after leading all running backs in receiving yards with 98 on 8 catches. 
  • It’s scary to think Julio Jones is getting better, right? The Falcons WR, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash on a broken foot in his draft combine, proved Monday Night how essential he is to the new Atlanta offense with 9 catches on 11 targets for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones would have been closer to 200 yards had two of his big plays not been called back on holding calls. Expect another big week out of him against the Giants after they allowed the 2nd most pass yards in their season opener. 

Mail Time

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I know Donte Moncrief became a favorite pickup for many after Hilton went down in Week 1, and I get it. Moncrief has all the measurables, the speed, and the quarterback that make him viable as Hilton’s replacement. However, I don’t love him against the Jets and Darrelle Revis. In two games against Revis, Hilton recorded just 4 catches for 60 yards. That doesn’t spark much excitement from me for Moncrief…While the Rams defensive line is indeed terrifying, their secondary allowed the 3rd most catches to wide receivers last week and that bodes well for Washington’s new #1 WR Pierre Garcon. During his string of starts in 2013, Kirk Cousins targeted Garcon an averaged of 12.2 times over 5 games. Moncrief still has to share balls with Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Rashad Jennings made things murkier after throwing his quarterback under the bus, while also losing touches to Andrew Williams and Shane Vereen. I like Tevin Coleman most longterm, as he separated himself as the more reliable back from Devonta Freeman. For Week 2, Garcon is your best option.

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To answer your first question, go Matt Ryan for sure. I know the Bears secondary looks very tempting, but the Giants look even worse with their unit. If the Tony Romo was able to shred them without Dez Bryant, imagine what Ryan will do with both Jones and Roddy White healthy….

Your first option at running back should be Latavius Murray. The Ravens defense got worse against the run losing Terrell Suggs, and Murray was used like an every-down back and useful in PPR catching 7 passes against a better Bengals D….Sankey looked great last week, but when has he proven that he can be consistent on the pro level? CJ Anderson is banged up and Ronnie Hillman certainly emerged as a threat to take touches away. Joique Bell also didn’t do anything to quiet the Ameer Abdullah fan club…Only because the matchup isn’t great for Anderson do I recommend Sankey over him, but it’s very begrudgingly. The Browns may be harshing his mellow very quickly.

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See my previous answer about the latter 2 and just go with TJ Yeldon. The Jaguars offensive line graded out in the Top 3 for run blocking last week and Alfred Morris burned the Dolphins defense for 125 yards.

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One can assume LeGarrette Blount is going to get feature back duties this weekend returning from suspension, but when could you ever assume anything with Bill Belichick running backs? Blount also comes back against a scary Buffalo front 7…Danny Woodhead, on the other hand, took more than half of the Chargers snaps last weekend, scored 2 touchdowns, and was the second most targeted player for Philip Rivers. Rookie Melvin Gordon may get more work in his second start, but I trust Woodhead’s opportunities over Blount’s…especially in the red zone.

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The most reliable player in this scenario is CJ Anderson, and that’s scary. With talks that both Todd Gurley and Tre Mason being ready to go this weekend makes Benny Cunningham a lot less valuable. I would recommend Lockett if you got return points for him, but he still needs to grow in the Seattle passing attack with Doug Baldwin and Jermain Kearse well ahead of him.

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After taking more snaps than Joique Bell and proving he’s a much better home run threat, Ameer Abdullah made a lot of people right about him. He also has a better matchup going against the Vikings than Woodhead does against the Bengals. I would like to see Abdullah pickup where Carlos Hyde left off last Monday Night.

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The one person benefiting from Peyton Manning’s short pass strategy is Emmanuelle Sanders. Especially in PPR, he’s a must play. Second, I trust John Brown against the Bears secondary. Larry Fitzgerald will get most of the attention leaving not much to take on Brown’s speed downfield.

In regards to James Jones, he caught 4 passes and scored 2 touchdowns last week against Alan F’ing Ball (who wanted know part of covering inside the end zone) and a struggling Kyle Fuller. There’s a reason Jones was available for the Packers to pick him up before the season started, and I don’t think his skills are suddenly back to 2012 quality. Rodgers makes him a better player, but Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery are younger…and possibly more viable.

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! 

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Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Running Backs

Typically, the first handful of spots in your draft go to the running back position. This year is no exception…

As you prepare to make your picks, here are my Top 40 running backs and where I recommend you take them in your upcoming draft. 

1. Marshawn Lynch, SEA

Danny McCray, Marshawn Lynch

2014: 1,306 rush yards, 367 receiving, 37 receptions, 17 TDs

Marshawn is why the Seahawks offense works. He also just got paid some more, so he’s motivated to ball out.

Pick 1st Overall

2. Jamaal Charles, KC

Jamaal

2014: 1,033 rush yards, 291 receiving, 40 catches, 14 TDs

Probably the best when healthy, but that hasn’t been a consistent quality of his as of late. Worth the gamble if he’s available. Always finds the end zone.

Pick Early 1st round

3. Le’Veon Bell, PIT

LeVeon

2014: 1,361 rush yards, 854 receiving, 83 catches, 11 TDs

Best running back in the league but out for the first 2 games due to suspension. Worth picking if you can because he’ll be huge for down the stretch, both rushing and receiving.

Pick Early 1st Round

4. Matt Forte, CHI

Forte

2014: 1,038 rush yards, 808 receiving, 102 catches, 10 TDs

Won’t catch nearly as many passes, but the Bears are going to run the ball a lot this season and he is still one of the best. Cutler will use him in play-action and he’ll set up wide at times too.

Pick: Has Early 1st Round value but seems to be falling to late 1st, early 2nd

5. Adrian Peterson, MIN

Vikings running back Peterson celebrates touchdown during NFL football game against Packers in Minneapolis

2014: Spent most of it suspended

Another year older, AP’s still one of the best in the game and will be the focal point to the Vikings offense. Also fresh after not playing, but you don’t know if another legal issue will come up. Not likely, but the red flag is there now.

Pick Middle 1st Round

6. Eddie Lacy, GB

Lacy

2014: 1,139 rush yards, 427 receiving, 42 catches, 13 TDs

Lacy is solid, but started slow with the Packers offense last season. Packers also depend way more on passing which keeps the ball out of his hands more than you’d like. Might be relied upon more with Nelson.

Pick Middle-Late 1st Round  

7. DeMarco Murray, PHI

DeMarco

2014: 1,845 rush yards, 416 receiving, 57 catches, 13 TDs

Murray was the league’s leading rusher last year and should get a lot of touches with the Eagles because their quarterbacks are so bad.

Pick: Late 1st, early 2nd

8. Jeremy Hill, CIN

Jeremy Hill, Donte Whitner

2014: 1,124 rush yards, 215 receiving, 27 catches, 9 TDs

Hill will have a big increase in workload this season and has Giovani Bernard to complement him. Expecting more handoffs to him as the Bengals try to get Andy Dalton right again.

Pick: 2nd Round

9. LeSean McCoy, BUF

LeSean

2014: 1,319 rush yards, 155 receiving, 28 catches, 5 TDs

McCoy is expected to be ready for Week 1. He’ll get a lot of carries but is in a crowded backfield with Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon. Health is also going to be an issue for him with so many carries in his career already.

Pick: 2nd round

10. Arian Foster, HOU

Foster

2014: 1,246 rush yards, 327 receiving, 38 catches, 13 touchdowns

As of now, there is no timetable for Foster’s return from groin injury. He is someone who should be available on waivers, but will definitely help you late in the season…best case scenario. 

Pick up on waivers and stash him on IR if need be.

11. CJ Anderson, DEN

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs

2014: 849 rush yards, 324 receiving, 34 catches, 10 TD (all second half of season)

Anderson is the lead candidate for Denver’s #1 running back spot and Manning loves him. New head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-run scheme is why Foster and Forsett produced so well the last few seasons.

Pick Late 2nd Round

12. Justin Forsett, BAL

Forsett

2014: 1,266 rush yards, 263 receiving, 44 catches, 8 TDs

Forsett is the #1 guy in Baltimore and should benefit from a lack in WR depth for Flacco. His receiving numbers will get a boost too with Marc Trestman running the offense

Pick: 3rd Round

13. Frank Gore, IND

Gore

2014: 1,105 rush yards, 111 receiving, 11 catches, 5 TDs

Gore could be huge in the Colts high power offense. With defenses worrying more about Luck throwing deep on them, less attention will be paid to Gore and that means serious gashing.

Pick: 3rd Round

14. Alfred Morris, WAS

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2014: 1,074 rush yards, 155 receiving, 17 catches, 8 TD

Morris hardly ever catches the ball but he is important to the Washington offense as nobody has any faith in RG3. Solid health-wise as well.

Pick 3rd or 4th Round

15. Mark Ingram, NO

Ingram

2014: 964 rush yards, 145 receiving, 29 catches, 9 TD

Ingram is very good but he is usually getting injured. Should get a lot of red zone opportunities but also will split passing situations with CJ Spiller.

Pick: 4th Round

16. Melvin Gordon, SD

Gordon

2014: Hesiman Trophy Candidate

I don’t normally like drafting rookies high in Fantasy, but Gordon is the clear starter for the Chargers ahead of Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. Starting RBs tend to do well in Mike McCoy’s offense.

Pick: 4th – 5th Round

17. Latavius Murray, OAK

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders

2014: 424 rush yards, 143 receiving, 2 TD, 429 returning

Latavius showed he is fast and can score from anywhere on the field, but also hasn’t proven he can stay healthy yet.

Pick: 4th, 5th round

18. Andre Ellington, AZ

Ellington

2014: 660 rush yards, 395 receiving, 46 catches, 5 TDs

Ellington can score a lot of points but he can’t stay on the field. He has already had some hamstring troubles in camp.

Pick 5th Round

19. Lamar Miller, MIA

Lamar

2014: 1,099 rush yards, 275 receiving, 38 catches, 9 TDs

Lamar goes into the season as the #1 guy in Miami and proved how solid he can be with Tannehill running a read option offense. Stays healthy too.

Pick: 5th round

20. Jonathan Stewart, CAR

Stewart

2014: 809 rush yards, 181 receiving, 25 catches, 4 TDs

Stewart is a strong option when healthy. This the first time he won’t be splitting carries with DeAngelo Williams and doesn’t have anyone else to challenge him on the depth chart. Expect the workload to be heavier too with Benjamin out.

Pick: 5th round

21. LeGarrette Blount, NE

Blount

2014: 547 rush yards, 54 receiving, 10 catches, 5 TDs

It’s really tough to trust New England RBs because Belichick will just go with whoever he likes most that day. Blount turned out to be the hot hand after Patriots picked him up late last season but will miss Week 1 due to suspension. Could be solid 3rd RB.

Pick: 6th Round

22. Todd Gurley, STL

Gurley

Rookie

Gurley can be the best athlete in all of football but he was injured last season for Georgia and he’s likely going to miss all of the preseason because of an ACL injury. Hard to feel confident about drafting him, but the potential is too high to pass up.

Pick: 6th Round

23. TJ Yeldon, JAX

Yeldon

Rookie

Doesn’t have as high an upside as Gurley, but Yeldon has the best shot at being the feature back in Jacksonville. If converted QB/WR Denard Robinson could break out like he did last season, Yeldon should do well as a full-time back.

Pick 7th Round

24. Joseph Randle, DAL

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2014: 343 rush yards, 23 receiving, 4 catches, 3 TDs

Randle is first in line for feature back duties behind the best OL in football. He leads Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar who are also fighting for carries. Randle also has a shoplifting problem, but can be helpful as a backup on your roster with high upside.

Pick 7th Round

25. Carlos Hyde, SF

Hyde

2014: 333 rush yards, 68 receiving, 12 catches, 268 return yards, 4 TDs

San Francisco is an absolute mess and is probably the worst team in the NFL. They also don’t have a set depth chart yet and Hyde is splitting carries with Reggie Bush. He didn’t really do much last season to get anyone excited about this year but he’s one of the last possible #1 RBs left, while expected to get most of the workload. 

Pick 7th Round or later

26. CJ Spiller, NO

Spiller

2014: 300 rush yards, 125 receiving, 19 catches, 306, 2 TDs

Spiller is in a better place than Buffalo. He will be used on 3rd down and will be a better version of Pierre Thomas if Ingram gets hurt. Also gets return points but has his own health issues. He’s currently coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Pick 8th Round

27. Rashad Jennings, NYG

Jennings

2014: 639 rush yards, 226 receiving, 30 catches, 4 TDs

Jennings and Shane Vereen are both playing with the first team. If healthy, Jennings is a solid RB2 or Flex player.

Pick 8th Round

28. Isaiah Cowell, CLE

Cowell

2014: 607 rush yards, 87 receiving, 9 catches, 8 TDs

Cowell is Cleveland’s best option at RB with Terrence West not far behind and Duke Johnson coming off a hamstring injury. With a choice between Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown at quarterback, Cleveland will want to run the ball a lot.

Pick 8th round

29. Ameer Abdullah, DET

Abdullah

Rookie

Abdullah is getting a lot of praise in camp, but is also in the mix with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. He’s probably the most talented of the 3, but Stafford just called the Lions backfield a “running back by committee” situation. We’ll see who the hot hand is come Week 1.

Pick: 8th round

30. Chris Ivory, NYJ

Jets vs Patriots

2014: 821 rush yards, 123 receiving, 18 catches, 7 TDs

Ivory is a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch with his downhill running style and will be depended on for the bulk of the workload with Steven Ridley still rehabbing an ACL injury.

Pick 8th Round

31. Tevin Coleman, ATL

Coleman

Rookie

Coleman has been neck-and-neck with Devonta Freeman for feature back touches for the Falcons. Coleman is the more complete back though with pass catching and return capabilities. With the two sidelined and set to return from injury this week, I like Coleman’s chances better with them on even ground.

Pick 9th Round 

32. DeVonta Freeman, ATL

Freeman

2014: 248 rush yards, 225 receiving, 30 catches, 2 TDs

Freeman had the best shot at starting for the Falcons until he joined Tevin Coleman on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Has a year of experience under his belt, but Coleman is expected to be a full-package back when he catches up.

Pick 9th or 10th 

33. Joique Bell, DET

Joique

2014: 860 rush yards, 322 receiving, 34 catches, 8 TDs

Bell is coming off an injury in camp but is still the most accomplished in the Lions backfield.

Pick 9th Round

34. Giovani Bernard, CIN

Bernard

2014: 680 rush yards, 349 receiving, 7 TDs

Gio is expected to be part of a 1-2 punch with Hill. He’ll get 3rd down and passing play reps for sure. Depending on Hill’s durability as a full-time starter, Gio can get some of his workload back.

Pick 10th Round

35. Tre Mason, STL

Mason

2014: 765 rush yards, 148 receiving, 16 catches, 5 TDs

Depending on Gurley’s health, Mason could be a boom or bust with a late pick. He’s as talented as anyone when given a shot and good insurance if Gurley misses time.

Pick 10th round

36. Doug Martin, TB

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders

2014: 494 rush yards, 64 receiving, 13 catches, 2 TD

I don’t trust Tampa RBs. They don’t stay healthy, they turn the ball over, and they always seem like regular waiver wire pickups (and drops). Martin is only ranked here because he’s slated as their lead back, but he’s only disappointed people since his rookie year.

Pick 11th Round 

37. Shane Vereen, NYG

Vereen

2014: 391 rush yards, 447 receiving, 52 catches, 5 TD

The Giants still aren’t very good on defense which forces their offense to pass more. Vereen is one of the better pass catching RBs and that’s exactly why they brought him in.

Pick 11th Round or higher

38. Darren McFadden, DAL

Darren McFadden

2014: 534 rush yards, 212 receiving, 36 catches, 2 TD

If he can get on the field and fully healthy, he could be a late sleeper behind the Dallas OL. McFadden’s getting toward the end of his career so you shouldn’t bank on that.

Pick 12th or higher

39. Fred Jackson, BUF

Washington Redskins v Buffalo Bills

2014: 524 rush yards, 501 receiving, 65 catches, 3 TD

F-Jax has been the Bills version of Dirty Harry for the last few seasons. At this current time, he is the only healthy back out of McCoy, Dixon, Bryce Brown, and Karlos Williams. Although McCoy is expected to be ready Week 1, Jackson would make a strong start in a run-heavy system.

Pick 12th Round or later

40. Reggie Bush, SF

Bush

2014: 297 rush yards, 253 receiving, 40 catches, 2 TD

As I mentioned before, SF is an absolute mess. On top of that, Reggie is now playing in one of the best defensive divisions in football. If they’re forced to play catch-up with that horrible defense, Reggie should get the ball more than Hyde.

Pick 12th Round or higher

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter! Stay Tuned for Wide Receiver rankings tomorrow.

Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Wide Receivers Cheat Sheet

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet