Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 3

After all the running back injuries last weekend, it seems the best course would be to tread lightly…when claiming a fill-in.

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Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers

After Jonathan Stewart went down with a hamstring injury, Whittaker took over with 100 yards rushing on 16 carries (6.25 yards per carry). Stewart isn’t expected to be out very long, but you can’t expect the Panthers to increase the potential for Cam Newton to get hurt on more quarterback draw plays. Whittaker has the talent to be effective with a lead back’s workload. Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert will be in the rotation for touches, but the majority should go to Whittaker…who recorded nearly a quarter of his 3-year career rush total just last week.

Jerick McKinnon, Vikings

There are 3 running backs, not named Adrian Peterson, who are looking to shine on the Vikings roster. Matt Asiata is a goal line vulture, with short-yardage power. Ronnie Hillman landed from Denver, not too long ago, and has the ability to be a flash-in-the-pan every once in a while. Then there’s Jerick McKinnon, who may be the most talented of the 3 and should be counted on for his pass-catching and breakaway speed. Your best bet is McKinnon for those exact reasons, and because the Vikings could be playing from behind against Newton and the now high-flying Panthers offense.

Kenneth Dixon, Ravens & Kenyan Drake, Dolphins

These two rookie running backs should be on your radar. Dixon is on his way back from injury, but worth stashing once he returns. Neither Justin Forsett or Terrance West have done enough to claim the #1 RB role in Baltimore, and Dixon is one of the most talented players to come out of the draft…Going down the coast, we find Drake getting an opportunity to earn #1 type work over Jay Ajayi while Arian Foster deals with the thing that’s plagued him since 2013…injuries. Drake ran in a touchdown last week, and Ajayi has been a healthy scratch for Dolphins once already this season.

Mail Time!

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RB2 – You’ve got really good problem on your hands. Both players have great matchups, but I like Gordon’s situation more. The Chargers signed Dexter McCluster to fill in for the Woodhead role, but realistically he still needs to learn the offense. The Colts are also incredibly banged up on defense. The 2015 version of myself wouldn’t believe I’m saying this, but go with Melvin Gordon.

Flex – I understand the concern not wanting to stack a RB & WR from the same team, but Ken Whisenhunt has brought some serious fire power back to the Chargers’ offensive play-calling. On top of Woodhead and Allen being hurt, the Chargers may also be without Antonio Gates this weekend. Travis Benjamin should be a target monster.

 

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I would respond by asking, who is available? The Chiefs had a solid bounce back last week with 2 sacks and 2 picks, while also holding one of the more potent offenses in football to under 20 points. The Jets looked pretty dangerous a week ago against a pretty messed up Bills squad, but they could be just as prone for turnovers…as FitzMagic proved at the end of last season. Tweet me your other Defensive options at @Mike_PiFF03.

 

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Not Golden Tate. As a Golden Tate enthusiast before the season, I’ve got pretty hard feelings toward his production in the first two weeks.

Atlanta’s secondary has been LIT UP 2 weeks in a row, and Brandin Cooks is just the spark for another deep bomb of a TD (or 2). Jordan Matthews has recorded 100 yards or a touchdown in 6 of his last 8 games. You can trust him more than Demaryius Targaryen, which is very tough for me to say.

 

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FLEX – Gordon for the reasons above.

WR – T.Y. Hilton becomes more valuable with Moncrief being injured. I love Will Fuller but it’s hard to trust players to play at their best on Thursday night.

 

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I don’t love going against Carson Palmer, but I do love most quarterbacks facing the Saints secondary. They will likely be without P.J. Williams and Delvin Breaux and it’s obscene that Eli Manning didn’t score more points on them. Go with Matt Ryan.

 

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I know Sproles is tempting, but you must resist. Ryan Matthews is proving that his nose for then end zone is too strong to deny.

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

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! 

NFL Week 3 Fantasy Mailbag

My favorite ongoing social media sports joke may in fact be the Andrew Luck “Civil War Era” Letters when things go wrong…

Andrew Luck Civil War

“My Dearest Abigail,

It is with much regret I must report our efforts to protect the homefront against the Jet brigade of New York were for nought. General Pagano was displeased with my inability to conquer the Isle of Revis. We lost our position upon the field on at least three occasions and despite the valiance of Private Moncrief, our company was forced into retreat. We will regroup and look to return to prominence as we move toward Nashville, led by the youthful Colonel Mariota.

Your beloved,

Andrew”

Be better, Andrew. 

Quick Hits

  • In better quarterback news, the Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls after he completely destroyed what would probably be his toughest matchup all year. Brady dropped 3 touchdowns and 466 yards against Rex Ryan’s Bills defense in Buffalo. For the 15th time, an NFL record, the Patriots won after Brady throws 50+ passes. In perspective, Peyton Manning has 17 games throwing 50 or more passes and has a 4-13 record doing so. Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Warren Moon are tied for second in wins throwing that many passes…just 5 each. 

Brady vs Bills

  • If you drafted Le’Veon Bell and had him stashed until this week, it’s time to unleash the beast. In 15 of the 16 games he played in 2014, Bell recorded 100+ total yards and/or scored a touchdown. He also was the league’s 40th leading receiver in terms of yards, and had the most among all running backs. Ben Roethlisberger owners should really like that as well. Bell will lace’em up against a Rams defense that allowed 6.5 yards per carry to Washington rookie running back Matt Jones a week ago. Welcome back, Le’Veon. 

Bell Week 3

  • If you were on the “Odell Beckham Jr’s overrated” bandwagon, get the hell off it. ODB (as I refer to him) came back in a hurry last week against the Falcons, catching 7 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown that looked like he ran threw a Super Mario star. This weekend, Beckham lines up opposite from a Washington defense that gave up the most touchdowns to wide receivers a year ago (23). In his only game against them, ODB caught 12 passes for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

Mail Time!

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The universe is testing you Jason, and I know…It’s not fair. This coming from someone who started Peyton Manning in Week 1 and Tony Romo in Week 2. The WR1 epidemic is awful and hamstrings are a bitch, but I’m hoping you either drafted well or went hard on your waiver wire. There are a few adds I would recommend if you haven’t yet though:

Travis Benjamin helped Johnny Football out a lot last weekend, recording 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 3 catches. Won’t light it up PPR wise, but he has that “go-up-and-get-it” ability that got Josh McCown paid after his stint in Chicago. If you get return points in your league, Benjamin becomes all the more attractive against the Raiders.

Michael Crabtree is averaging 12 targets per game after his first two starts in Raider black and silver. Not a great matchup going against Cleveland, but you would think Amari Cooper will draw the Joe Haden coverage more. Cooper getting the majority of opposing secondary attention helps Crabtree’s production, as does a healthy Derek Carr that will be playing more catchup in ballgames than not.

Leonard Hankerson is doing what many Roddy White and Julio Jones owners in the past have become familiar with from Harry Douglas. When either of the Top 2 Falcons WRs were injured (or going ghost like White has a tendency to do), Douglas was a PPR machine. Hankerson had 6 catches and a touchdown on 11 targets last week. The Dallas defense may sober his admirers this weekend, but he has two great matchups afterwards against Houston and Washington.

Nate Washington is a notorious spot-start guy in Fantasy and that may be the case here whether DeAndre Hopkins goes against Tampa or doesn’t. Ryan Mallett threw 58 passes a week ago and Washington is averaging over 18 yards per reception. Probably a sleeper play, but it makes a lot of sense if you’re desperate.

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There’s an interesting conundrum with Alfred Morris and Matt Jones in the backfield for Washington. The running attack appears to be their offense’s bread and butter and Jones became the flavor of the week out-carrying Morris last week 19-18. What’s worse for Morris is that Jones actually catches passes and was trusted more late in the game last week against the Rams…I would go with with Pierre Garcon based on the targets he gets on short yardage downs, Morris’s role being diminished, the Giants being competent against the run, and Duke Johnson still being the #2 man in Cleveland.

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Glad you were able to walk threw #1…I know you’re probably frustrated with the guys who are likely your Top 2 drafted RBs, but this may be the week to reap the benefits of taking them. Latavius Murray has a plumb rushing matchup against a Browns defense that let Dexter F’ing McCluster run for nearly 100 against them and has allowed 300+ rush yards in 2 weeks. The Raiders should be feeding Murray until he pukes…Because the Lions have no clue how to use obviously their best back in Ameer Abdullah, I lean toward Justin Forsett in your flex. He’s the second most targeted receiver for the Ravens and 2nd on the team in catches too going up against a Bengals defense that has allowed the most running back touchdown receptions so far in this young season.

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I would start Forsett exactly for reasons I listed above…and then I look to Dion Lewis. The Imitation Game that is Bill Belichick’s running back strategy may have been cracked. Even after a fumble (GASP), Lewis was still getting love in the Patriot’s offense. He has over 100 combo yards in each of his first two games, and at least 5 touches of 10 or more yards in both as well. Lamar Miller just isn’t getting enough usage for me to feel comfortable playing him yet, which is super unfortunate.

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Among the two WRs, I lean toward Terrance Williams. After Romo went down last week, Williams looked like the Cowboys’ best offensive weapon. Brandon Weedon is pretty gross, but he will at least be held upright behind the Dallas OL. The Falcons secondary is also allowing the third highest passing percentage to quarterbacks so far this season…Now you can comfortably wait and see if Eddie Lacy can go Monday night against the Chiefs. If he does, you definitely start James Jones. If not, then there’s an argument to be had. The KC front 7 is better at rushing the quarterback than they are stopping the run, and James Starks would get plenty of work against them. Jones doesn’t get enough targets (just 7 in 2 games) for me to feel comfortable playing him over someone who is guaranteed touches. Go with Starks if he’s the #1 running back on Monday.

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I am assuming you meant John Brown and if so, you should start him. I know Larry Fitzgerald had a resurrection game, but consider who it was against. The 49ers are ripe for the taking when it comes to #1 WRs and John Brown has taken most of his reps in the X spot. Expect Carson Palmer to keep tossing bombs and for Brown to be at the end of quite a few…Now for your flex. The reasons above are why I don’t trust James Jones as much as many. Todd Gurley is finally ready to go and appears nowhere on the injury report. Gurley is part of a committee but I believe he has the highest ceiling among any of your options. If return points count in your league, go with Benjamin. He has the same number of targets as Jones, but more big play ability. If not, take a chance on Gurley. It’s early enough in the season where taking chances is fun and not terrifying.

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It’s #TyrodTime, my friend. We saw Drew Brees’s decline begin a year ago, and he overcompensated by throwing more than any quarterback in the league. Until he can do more than 1 TD and 1 INT in a game, can you trust him?…Let Taylor do his thing until the league figures him out.

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I won’t argue against Crowell in this situation. In a standard league, which I assume doesn’t count return yard points, James Jones does have a leg up on Travis Benjamin given the quarterbacks throwing to them. However if Vontae Davis is out this weekend for Indy, start Kendall Wright. As we saw last Monday, that Colts secondary is horrendous and it doesn’t get any better with Davis out. Marcus Mariota could potentially be having a field day this weekend.

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!