Tag Archives: Ben Tate

Post Draft Rookie Positional Rankings: RB

 

toast-beer

When looking at the rookies from a fantasy perspective, there is no silver bullet.  With any scouting, whether it’s fantasy or real life, there is a lot of subjectivity.   You would think with the amount of advanced statistics available you could mitigate the risk by using metrics. Though useful, they are only part of the equation.  Maybe there is a magic algorithm somewhere in the ether that will eventually reduce this to a numbers game.  Until the string theory of scouting is discovered, I use this.

Tape- What does he look like on tape? TV, youtube etc… Did he dominate?  Was he running people over, making people miss and running by them?  Do these skills translate in to the NFL?

Situation- How many players at his position are in front of him?   What are their skill levels? Age? Years remaining on their contracts?  Salary cap concerns?

Talent- How did he measure up in the combine and pro day?  Did he dominate on the field? Does he have a unique characteristic that can make him successful? Is he too small to be anything more than a 3rd down back or are his hands so bad he is only a 2 down back?

Scheme- What scheme is he playing in?  This is not always an absolute, but you should have idea of what type of offense he is in.  Does he fit what the team wants in a RB?  How does this scheme impact the player?

Run/Pass Ratio- How much do they pass?  How much do they run?  Be careful with this one.  EX. Drafting a WR4 on Seattle is not going to help you much unless you feel he can become more than a WR4 down the road.

Preseason Games – This is where you can tell a lot about what the team thinks of the player, how they will use him and how he stacks up against NFL competition.  Be careful watching a player going against 2nd and 3rd string players…

These rankings are slanted towards Dynasty Leagues

 

1          Sankey, Bishop           Titans

He has it all.  College Production, combine metrics, good tape and he’s in a situation where his only competition (Shonn Greene) is coming off knee surgery.

2          Williams, Andre          Giants

The Giants running back situation is muddled. Hillis is an aging RB. Jennings parlayed a good 5 game stretch into a nice FA contract, but is only a part time back.. David Wilson is coming off an injury and he has ball security issues.  Dynasty wise, he is a good bet.  Great college production and tough running style.

3          Hill, Jeremy                 Bengals

With BJE, aging and slowing, which now makes him really, really slow, Hill is the heir apparent for the power back role here.  He has the pedigree but there are character concerns. Could be the thunder to Gio Bernard’s lightening.

4          Freeman, Devonta       Falcons

I like, but don’t love Freeman from a talent perspective.  I really like his situation.  Jackson is on his last legs, Rodgers is just an average back.  Antone Smith might have been their best back last year.  This situation is wide open and he should have a great shot of getting significant playing time.

5          West, Terrance            Browns

He is firmly behind Ben Tate who signed a FA deal this offseason.  I can firmly say that Tate gets hurt every year.  He should be the unquestioned #2 here next year.  He played at a small school, I hope he can handle the speed of the NFL game.  If he can, he could eventually overtake Tate

6          Hyde, Carlos               49ers

This situation is different.  He is currently buried on the 49ers depth chart.  However, each guy he is behind has their warts.  Gore is aging, Lattimore is still recovering from that terrible knee injury, Hunter seems to be regarded as a change of pace (even though I think he can be more) and James seems to not have a role.   Where does that leave Hyde?  Beats me, but he has great talent and a great scheme fit in SF.  I wouldn’t expect immediate returns, but he has the talent to be an impact NFL player when he gets his shot.

7          Johnson, Storm           Jaguars

Perfect scheme fit. One cut and go for the zone scheme.  He is only really behind Gerhart.  Jordan Todman and Dennard Robinson seems to have undefined roles.  This bodes well for Johnson.  He could end up the #2 behind a guy that never has had to carry the load.

8          Mason, Tre                  Rams

Mason has average measureables, great production, good scheme fit and he is buried behind two capable RB’s in Stacy and Cunningham.   Pead and Richardson are wildcards, but candidates to be cut after a disappointing 2013. Mason seems to be a long term investment at this point.

9          Gaffney, Tyler            Panthers

Don’t expect to get an immediate return unless the panthers release Stewart or Williams.  Both are aging, injury prone and have cripplingly high salary cap numbers.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see Gaffney getting significant carries later in 2014.  He could be the future if he can adjust to the NFL.

10        White, James               Patriots

I like White.  Why did the Patriots select another RB when they have 3 capable on the roster?  Ridley and Vareen’s contracts are up after this offseason.  I would imagine only one would be back.   Vareen gets hurt a lot and Ridley has butterfingers so take your pick.  Brandon Bolden could also not be back.  White could conceivably be the starter in 2015.

11        Carey, Ka’Deem          Bears

It’s open season for the Bears back up running back position.  Carey can get the carries if he proves himself.  His value could really get an uptick if he plays well in the offseason.

12        McKinnon, Jerick        Vikings

A.P. is the man. He is one of best running backs of his generation. He is also getting older. He is coming off groin surgery. He has no back up RB.  Matt Asiatta is not enough.  Take a flyer late on this guy.

13        Blue, Alfred                Texans

Can do everything.  Can’t stay healthy.  Intriguing RB behind Foster.  Fosters’ age and health are becoming a factors.

14        Taliaferro, Lorenzo     Ravens

Ray Rice is having…legal issues.  Pierce is having shoulder issues.  Taliaferro could get some carries early.  Uncertain situation for sure.

15        Andrews, Antonio        Titans    

You never know when that UDFA beats out the higher ranked player.   A weak depth chart in front of him makes him draftable in dynasty leagues providing you have the roster depth.

15        Mairon Grice                   Chargers

Buried in a deep Chargers backfield.

16        Jerome Smith                   Falcons

Could be the Yin to Freeman’s Yang moving forward.  A player to watch.

17        Williams, Damien        Dolphins 

Crowded backfield situation.  Seems suited to the spread offense. Wait and see here.

18        Archer, Dri                  Steelers

Gadget back for the Steelers at this point.  Could he develop into Darrren Sproles?  History says the odds are against that, but his speed is elite.

19        Seastrunk, Lache         Redskins

See Damien Williams above. Possible replacement for Roy Helu who is in his contract year.

 

-Ron

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2014 Postcast: Free Agent Review QB’s and RB’s

Check out our latest installment of our totally radical podcasts.  The recording date was 3/27/14.  So we didn’t have the MJD and Blount signings.   Subscribe on iTunes!

Intro Music – Murder City Devils – No Grave but the Sea

Outro Music – Pinback – Sender

 

In honor of Mark Sanchez going to the Eagles… I know its played out, but it makes me laugh every time.

2013: Start ‘em or Sit ‘em Week 11

As always we try to stick away from the obvious “start Calvin Johnson” etc, but we are always open to fielding specific lineup questions if you leave them in the comments below.  In the same breathe, we aren’t going to tell you to sit Frank Gore because they are playing a team that has a strong defense.  That would be a waste of everyone’s time.

This week.  Two parts.  Thursday and then an update Friday.

Colts at Titans

Start ’em – Colts D: You think they are embarrassed after the egg they laid at home last week?  You’re damn right they are. I think they get after Ryan Fitzpatrick in this game big time.

Sit ’em Ryan Fitzpatrick: He’s a turn over machine. He is average at best. He is Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Sure he went to Harvard, but he’s still illiterate when it comes to reading a defense.

Jets at Bills

Start ’em RB Chris Ivory: The Bills are 22nd in the league in run D.  The Jets will pound the rock all game.  Ivory gets enough carries in this one to grab a starting spot in this week’s lineup

Sit ’em WR Stevie Johnson: After watching last week’s game, he and E.J. Manual are just not in sync.  The latest reports are that he may not even suit up for this one as he is struggling with a groin injury. I think there are better options at this point.  Keep an eye on this because if they start clicking, Johnson could be a WR3 down the stretch.

Sit’em RB CJ Spiller: Spiller is going to be a matchup guy for the rest of 2013.  It’s the disappointing reality you have to face with him,  and fooling yourself will only damage your fantasy team.  When the Bills played the Jets earlier in the season Spiller managed under 11 total yards of offense. He’s a little healthier now, but the Jets rush defense is just as formidable.  Plus Buffalo coaches were quoted this week as saying they view both Spiller and Fred Jackson as #1 RB’s.   Umm…nothing is good about CJ this week.

Ravens at Bears

Sit ’em RB Ray Rice: So here’s the deal.  The Bears are second worst in the league in Run Defense.  The Raven are 30th in run offense.  Something has got to give.  There is no way I am starting this guy anymore unless I have to, but if you have to, this is the week to do it.

Start ’em WR Alshon Jeffery:  In 5 of his 6 games, Jeffery has gone over 10 fantasy points in both standard PPR and non-PPR leagues, he’s topped 100 yards in 4 of the 6, and he was targeted an insane 18 times last weekend.  Dude is red hot, and now that Cutler will miss at least another week – that means Jeffery should remain high in the mix because Cutler sometimes only has eyes for Brandon Marshall…welp not this week.  Jeffery is a Wr2 this weeks and this is our little shout out for him maturing into the weapon we thought he was.

Browns at Bengals

Start ’em WR Marvin Jones:  Look up what Joe Hayden did to AJ Green the last time these teams met.  See? (7 catches for only 51 yards)  That is why you are starting Marvin Jones.  He will see an uptick in targets this week and is a WR3 start.

Sit ’em RB Chris Ogbonnaya: Word is the coming out of their bye the Browns would like to shift more of their workload to Obonnaya.  It makes sense since Willis McGahee is breaking down, and Chris can in theory catch passes out on the edge. Ogbonnaya isn’t bad perse, painfully average maybe, but the real problem here is the Bengals rush defense has a way of smothering players.  Obonnaya represents a very low flex play option this weekend – very low.

Raiders at Texans

Start ’em –  Texans D:  If Matt McGloin starts, Texans D all day.  If Pryor starts then the Texans are still an above average play – IF the team hasn’t quit amid all the turmoil (Kubiak stroke, Foster injury, terrible record etc) to me this is a fairly big sized IF…but you can’t anticipate them quitting until it actually happens so ride them this week and see how they play.

Sit ‘em – RB Rashard Jennings: He has had 2 good games in a row against bad Defenses.  Regardless of rankings, the Texans front is formidable.   I don’t think he gets the yards needed for an effective start in this one.

Cardinals at Jaguars

Start ‘em – Cardinals Defense:   OK.  Ya, I am recommending another defense, but let’s be real here.  The Jags O-line is average on their best day and the Cardinals can really bring the heat.   If the Cards get up by a 2 scores in this game look out.  They will pin their ears back and blitz like hell.

Start ‘em – RB Andre Ellington:  He is a virtually an every week flex start.  If he got in the end zone more, he would be surefire starter in all formats.  Mendenhall has been struggling all season, maybe finally Ellington gets the lion share of the carries.

Lions at Steelers

Start ‘em – Joique Bell: Now I don’t love this play at all.  It all has to do with injuries to the Lions WR’s.  Johnson has said he’ll play this Sunday and his knee issues are just maintenance, but Bell could be a nice flex option if the Lions get up early and need to control the clock. As Burleson won’t play this week either, the Lions could decide to keep it conservative with the lead.  This is a tepid flex start that could become hot if Megatron suffers a setback and can’t transform into a football player on Sunday.   

Redskins at Eagles 

Start ‘em – Yes, TE Jordan Reed and WR Pierre Garcon are every week starts from here on out.  Watch some of the games.  These are the only 2 guys that RG3 looks for. 

Start ’em QB Nick Foles: I called WR Riley Cooper last week, and this week I’m fully endorsing Nick Foles.  My Foles love was unrequited b/c the Eagles kept jerking him in and out of the lineup, and his concussion slowed things down. But you simply cannot argue with 16 TD’s and 0 Int’s….even the most skeptical of fans have to open their eyes at this point.  Foles is an every week starter as a top 10 fantasy QB the rest of the season.  Against a terrible Redskins’ pass defense he may very well be the highest scoring QB in week 10.   So if you’re someone choosing between “Nick Foles or”this week…it’s Nick Foles.  No question.

Falcons at Buccaneers 

Start ‘em – RB Brian Leonard:  I don’t love Brian Leonard’s talent at all, but he will get the majority of the carries at home vs an iffy Falcons D.  The Bucs Oline did some work last week against the Dolphins and Seahawks back to back.  Let’s make that three straight.

Sit ‘em – RB Steven Jackson: They say when RB’s lose it, they just lose it.  There is nothing gradual about it.   Steven, you have been awesome for many years, but I am afraid, you might have lost it.  If the line play improves there is hope Steven, I haven’t given up on you fully, but you aren’t a start until you show me something.

Chargers at Dolphins

Start ’em WR Rishard Matthews: A lot of people will look at last week’s 120 yard 2 Td performance by Matthews out of no where and think that they’ve missed their chance to hit that lotto ticket.   It’s true that Matthews has been virtually invisible since he was drafted 2 years ago.  But it’s my bet that Matthews is a better player than his limited playing time warranted, and now with the season ending injury to WR Brandon Gibson, I’m hoping that last week is the start of Tannehill looking for him often.  Matthews should be viewed as a very risky play week to week, but I like him here against a Chargers defense that is terrible against the pass.  (28th in the league).  I think Matthews could post another 100 yard effort – but the TD’s seem optional this week.

Start ’em WR Keenan Allen: Miami is not as bad as San Diego against the pass, but they have their holes.  In his last 5 games, Allen has broken 100 yards 3 times and has 3 TD’s – and this is more about saluting his effort than telling you something you don’t know: while a 40 yard dud like last weekend is possible every now and then, Allen has worked his way to low level WR2 at this point – and he seems an advisable start here.

Niners at Saints

Sit ’em QB Colin Kapernick: This isn’t an overreaction in my mind to last week’s disaster with Carolina.  Kap will probably have better #’s against a weaker Saints’ defense, but consider the Saints pass defense is ranked 3rd in the NFL right now.   Then consider TE Vernon Davis is still not taking contact in practice after suffering a concussion last week.  If Davis can’t go, or is limited – it takes an anemic pass offense and puts it on life support.   Kapernick will be able to get some of it back for you with rushing yards, but if the Saints say break the 20 point mark…how will the Niners try to keep up?   It’s fashionable to be down on Colin this season, and while it may not be his fault, and it may be overblown….I think this week you put him on your fantasy bench.   Hopefully brighter days are ahead with Davis getting healthier and maybe Michael Crabtree returning.

Packers at the Giants

Start ’em WR Jarrett Boykin: You may think that advising a WR from a team with its 3rd string QB on the road in his 1st full NFL start is risky.  Consider however, that QB Scott Tolzein managed to target Boykin over and over again vs the Eagles for a total of 8 catches for 112 yards.  The Giants defense is still awful, don’t let games against Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, and Terrell Pryor fool you – they haven’t faced an NFL QB in a month.  Tolzein will probably get beat and beaten up, because he’s not any good at this point in his career – but just like against the Eagles last week there’s nothing stopping Boykin from juicy garbage fantasy time points.

Start ’em RB Andre Brown: In the preseason I was adamant that Brown was the better player than RB David Wilson – and here we are 11 weeks later- the Giants having gone through nearly that many RB’s, and it’s Andre Brown’s time.  Brown may never be durable, he may never break off a long TD run, but he can simply put his head down and move the chains.  Hopefully you followed our advice and picked him up off of waivers before last week when he came out for a 30 carry 118 yard 1 TD season debut.   The Packers have an above average run defense, but the Giants have to try and ride Brown because their passing game is just not clicking.  Brown will have even bigger days to come, but you can consider him a very high end flex play/low end RB2 this weekend.

 Chiefs Broncos

Sit ‘em –  WR Dwanye Bowe:   Regardless of the arrest, he was going to be on my sit list.  He has shown NOTHING all year.  Aside from some garbage yards, if the Chiefs are down early, I don’t see him producing much at all.  He hasn’t done it all year.  He isn’t going to start now.

Vikings Seahawks

Sit ‘em – TE John Carlson:  He had a career game last week.  He also played a Redskin D that is having problems with their pass D.   If you need to start him, I get it.  Times are tough in TE land.  Pursue other options unless you are stuck.   Last year Christian Ponder played in Seattle and he through for under 100 yards.   I don’t see why this game is going to be any different.

Start ‘em – WR Golden Tate:  Tate has been playing great the past few weeks.  He seems to have Russell Wilson’s confidence.  He is great after the catch and high points the ball as well as anyone in the league.  Regardless of Harvin coming back, Tate will be the #1 in Seattle for the rest of the year.

Pats Carolina

Start ‘em – RB Deangelo Williams:   Carolina is going to pound the rock all game.  DeWilly is going to end up splitting carries in this game, but he has the most speed of any of the backs in the Panthers backfield.   I would expect a game similar to last week.  Which is good for a flex start.


:By Ron & Mike

2013: Start ‘em or Sit ‘em Week 10

As always we try to stick away from the obvious “start Calvin Johnson” etc, but we are always open to fielding specific lineup questions if you leave them in the comments below.  In the same breathe, we aren’t going to tell you to sit Frank Gore because they are playing a team that has a strong defense.  That would be a waste of everyone’s time.

Why should you listen to us?  Look at our track record.  WE CALLED RILEY COOPER LAST WEEK!  If that isn’t enough to get you believing in this blog, nothing is.

This week there are a lot of obvious starts. Without  further ado…

 

Washington at Minnesota

Start ’em – WR Pierre Garcon:  my love affair with the man named Pierre continues for anther week.

Sit ’em – The Defenses: Neither are playing particularly well.  Unless you are in a bye week bind I would surely look elsewhere. At this point even carrying either defense on your team is debatable.

Seattle at Atlanta

Start ’em – WR Harry Douglas:  Small shifty WR’s give the big Seattle CB’s the most trouble.  I think he as an OK game.  Nothing great, but a solid WR3 start.

Start ’em – WR Doug Baldwin : He is a much better real life football player than Fantasy, but with Harvin and Rice out, he will have the opportunity to have a good game.  Also ATL’s defense is allowing opposing QB’s an over 100 rating. He and Golden Tate could do very well this game.

Detroit at Chicago

Start ’em – WR Alshon Jeffery : He is becoming nearly an every week Flex start.  I thought he might miss a step with McCown manning the control, but he didn’t. Who would have thunk that?

Sit ’em – Detriot WR’s other than Calvin Johnson: Look elsewhere unless you are in a bye week.   I dont think  Durham, Burleson or any other WR they trot out can produce consistently to deserve a start.  Only if you are in the most dire of situations.

 

Philadelphia at Green Bay

Start ’em – WR Jordy Nelson:  I think he will be the #1 target of Seneca Wallace.   He looked his way often last week and should continue to do so. With Rodgers he was a WR2, now a WR3/ Flex and still a solid start.

Sit ’em – Green Bay Def: Clay Matthews might be back but he will have a club instead of a hand. I have a feeling that the Eagles will put up some yards and points in this game.  Enough of both to make this a shaky start.

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Start ’em – WR Cecil Shorts: He is a better than average start this week.  Shorts has been dinged up and has been inconsistent.  This week, as the clear #1 in Jax, I think he sees a good number of targets in a surprisingly close AFC South Battle.

Start ’em – RB Shonn Green:  Now this is a bye week flex start, but the guy got 9 carries last week and scored a TD.  If you are in a bye week or injury bind, Greene will be able to help out.  If he is on your waiver wire, get him now because most pickings are slim.

St. Louis at Indianapolis

Start ’em – TY Hilton: Holy Hell, if you aren’t starting this guy yet do yourself a favor and start him.  Where have you been if you haven’t been starting him? WR2 with upside. Must start every week.  After this week you wont see him on this list because it will be elementary.

 

Oakland at NY Giants

Start ’em – QB Eli Manning:  He has been a turn over machine all year.   He hasn’t been good at all, but the Raiders are vulnerable.  See what Nick Foles did to them?  I wouldn’t expect that, but I would expect 250 and 2 TDs at the minimum.

 

Buffalo at Pittsburgh

Start ’em – WR Stevie Johnson:  E.J. Manual is back, Steelers D is terrible. I would expect a good number of targets for Mr. Johnson.

 

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Start ’em – QB Joe Flacco: Baltimore ‘s line is terrible and they cant run the ball.  What to do?  Air it out! No all-world DT Geno Adkins will help as well.

 

Carolina at San Francisco

Sit ’em – Panthers Def:  They have been awesome most of the year.  Going into SF is a tough task.  If you have a solid backup D, you might want to think about going with them this week.   If the Panthers can play well in SF, they become an every week start.

Houston at Arizona

Start ’em – Arizona Def:  The Cards blitz like hell. They are one of the highest percentage blitz teams in the league. Case Keenum is a nice story, but I think he struggles some  under the heavy pressure of the Cards D.

Sit ’em – RB Andre Ellington: I know he is a hot commodity and is playing well, but the Cards line is pretty terrible and the Texans line is pretty great.  Not the worst play as a flex, but he is at the most a flex play this week.

 

Denver at San Diego

Start ’em – WR Keenan Allen:  The Chargers are going to have to throw the hell out of the ball to keep up with the Broncos.  Allen will be the beneficiary. He is beginning to be a must start in all formats.

Dallas at New Orleans

Sit ’em – Saints Def:  The Cowboys put up numbers on all the teams they have played.  This game has all the makings of a shoot out.  I would avoid this unless you aren’t penalized for yardage.

 Miami at Tampa Bay

Start ’em – RB Mike James:  He is a flex start this week.  Miami has a tough D.  This much is known, but so does Seattle. I don’t think he has a monster game, but I think he has the coaching staff’s confidence to carry the load and that is important moving forward.

– Ron

2013: Start ‘em or Sit ‘em Week 9

As teams go through their bye weeks – so do we here at the artofscore.  With Ron’s vacation underway, our rollout schedule is a little behind.  So for this week, we’ll get you the Starts and Sits before Sunday, but *this page will be updated throughout the weekend as we complete matchup analysis*.

As always we try to stick away from the obvious “start Calvin Johnson” etc, but we are always open to fielding specific lineup questions if you leave them in the comments below.

Bengals vs Dolphins

Sit ’em WR Marvin Jones – I know, I know….what?!!! He just scored 4 td’s in a game?  You guys recommended picking him up weeks ago, and you’re very proud of that fact.  Both those statements are true, but so is this one…it’s likely that was Marvin Jones’ highest fantasy output of his entire career, let alone the 2013 season.  And this isn’t a strict bench advisory if you’ve got some WR 3 issues or bye issues, but this is a warning to temper expectations.  Thursday night games have a way of being  sloppy and low scoring- which isn’t the best environment for a guy that plays on the outside. He and Dalton have been heating up, but something is warning me this is a game where he dips and maybe is even held out of the endzone for the 1st time in 3 weeks.  I mean don’t start him just because you didn’t last week and got burned- it’s not going to happen to that degree again. I think a realistic expectation for him is around 5 catches for 65 yards and no score – which may be passable for you depending on what your situation is…but I’m cautioning against Marvin as a “must start” this week, he may have problems tonight.

Start ’em TE Tyler Eifert: Lost in the breakout that was Marvin Jones’ 4 TD reception day, was another near miss TD by Eifert.  Eifert is a guy that I think should be a potential star and for fantasy purposes the only thing holding him from top 5-10 Te status this year has been his infrequent targets by Andy Dalton.  I am hesitant to recommend Eifert regularly,  because Dalton usually looks his way less than 6 times a game,  but I just have a good feeling about him in what generally are sloppy Thursday night affairs. In these types of lower scoring games reliable TE’s usually see their target increase.  The Dolphins d is just 20th against the pass this season,  and I don’t see anyone being a matchup equal for Eifert’s big frame.

Sit ’em RB Lamar Miller: I like Miller more than most, and he has been averaging close to 5 yards per carry his last 2 weeks.  But the Bengals have the league’s 8th best run defense – allowing opponents under 4 YPC on average.  Miller may get some additional pass receptions in this one, but over 70 combined yards from scrimmage seems unlikely – and he probably won’t find the endzone either.   In no way is he a RB2 this week, and he may have problems being a solid flex or RB3 play.  I’d start him over guys like Peyton Hillis, Mike James, or Willis Mcgahee – but I’d also feel free to take a risk on some guys like Chris Ivory or teammate WR Rishard Matthews as a flex. Miller’s outlook seems pretty pedestrian.

Chiefs at Bills

Sit ’em RB CJ Spiller: This is my 2nd straight week of advising to bench CJ, and this week it looks like he really will get some playing time.   The problem is no one knows what sort of workload CJ is capable of at this point and he is the poster child for fantasy frustration this season. Particularly aggravating is that even when healthy Spiller cedes carries to Fred Jackson near the goalline, and I can’t imagine he sees more than 10-12 total touches in this game against a fairly stout (10th in the NFL for rush defense) Kansas City Defense.  I see Spiller’s upside as 6-8 points, which is generally disappointing for a fantasy starting RB.  Spiller owners who have a shot at the playoffs should hold Spiller on their bench until he shows he is healthy – those of you with only outside playoff hopes it may be time to start shopping him to owners that believe he will reboound.  I don’t see Spiller as a real fantasy factor for another 2-3 weeks.

Start ’em WR Dexter McCluster – McCluster’s career has been so inconsistent that I almost feel like the Chiefs were trolling us for a few seasons there.  He’s a RB, no he’s a slot WR, no he’s a punt returner, a wildcat QB, etc, etc, etc….McCluster is an above average talent, with a below average frame – so unlocking his true potential has been very difficult over his 1st 3 seasons.  I say strike while the iron is hot here.  In his past 2 games McCluster has around 140 total yards and a TD, which means he’s clearly in the gameplan weekly for KC.  Buffalo has the league’s 26th overall defense which should mean opportunities for McCluster to find space – and he becomes a solid flex choice this week.   McCluster has a history of disappearing (injuries, fumble issues) so he may not be worth starting for long – but he is trending upwards right now, which can help your team.

Falcons at Panthers

Sit ’em Steven Jackson: Jackson didn’t look completely healthy last week in his 1st game back since the 2nd week of the season.  In fact an 11 carry for 6 yard performance looks downright nasty. We remarked in the preseason how Jackson looked very slow and hurt, and we had hoped it was just a veteran going through those preseason “I have to be out here” motions.  Well he looks like that again, and against a Carolina team that ranks 2nd in the NFL against the rush he should find a seat on your fantasy bench.   Jackson will be very fantasy useful down the stretch, and I love the player – but like Spiller, he’s just not there yet.

Start ’em WR Ted Ginn:  This might be the riskiest of my advice this week, but I can’t help myself.  Ginn can be a devastating weapon when Cam Newton looks for him – and if Cam involved him in the game plan weekly you’d be looking at a solid fantasy WR2 option.  Unfortunately Cam likes to feed the mouth that is WR Steve Smith, and the Carolina running game, and some weeks even TE Greg Olsen – all before Ginn.  So you look over Ginn’s season and you see things like 10 yards,  60 yards and a TD, 70 yards and a TD, 70 yards,  20 yards, 30 yards, 80 yards….it’s pretty maddening.  In non PPR leagues Ginn is a top 30WR, averaging around 9 points a game….it’s just that those duds in between scare you off.  Against the Falcons who should keep the pressure on scoring wise, I think you start Ginn this week and he gives you a nice performance.  Just be aware of the disappearing risk.

Vikings at Cowboys

Start ’em RB Demarco Murray: I’ve never been a huge fan of Murray’s talent level,  but after watching the Dallas running game in his 2 week absence (RB Joseph Randle under 2 YPC) – it’s clear the team needs him.  Hopefully Murray’s return frees up Tony Romo to play better, as Romo has also somewhat underperformed without the real threat of the run.  I predict a heavy workload for Murray this week against a bad Vikings defense – so start him without hesitation this week.

Sit ’em all Vikings other than AP: And you likely weren’t going to start any of them anyway, but with the news that QB Josh Freeman is probably back under center in this one you can’t take a chance on any of the WR’s or on Kyle Rudolph.  This is a real shame, because the Cowboys pass defense is very susceptible to giving up all sorts of fantasy yardage, but the Vikings are the league’s 29th ranked offensive team – and they now have a QB controversy (reports are emerging that the locker room is behind Ponder as the starter).  Only the Rams and the Buccaneers are worse run NFL franchises right now-especially on offense (yes Jacksonville I’m giving you props up to 4th worst).

Saints at Jets

Start ’em RB Chris Ivory: Ivory burned me last week with a start recommendation, but that was against a stout Bengals run d. The Saints run defense is only 19th in the league right now, and Ivory appears these last 2 games to have finally (8 weeks into the season- when he was supposed to be the lead back in Week 1) won the early down role for the Jets. One factor from last week’s  game that worries me a little is that the Bengals were able to get up on them 14-0 in the 1st 3 drives of the game – which regulated the amount of time the Jets could even think about trying to run the ball.  The Saints offense could put the Jets in a similar situation again, but you have to think very early it will be about ball control with the Jets – and the Saints run defense is not near the level of Cincy to make the early stops.  I like Ivory this week as a high RB3 possibly even RB2, this might finally be the game he puts together yardage and a TD.  The Jets should be nice enough to try to get him in the endzone against his old team.

Sit ’em WR Marques Colston: Name value aside it’s very arguable that Colston should even be on a fantasy roster in standard size leagues.  You either keep starting him as a flex, or a bye week guy – or more hopefully, stashing him on the bench waiting desperately for something that looks like his 1st month of the season where at least he was getting 60 yards.  Colston may not be done as a player in the league, but something is wrong with him.  And the Saints have picked up on it -in his last 3 games Colston has yet to break 20 total yards!  While Colston used to be the 1st or 2nd option in the passing game he’s now clearly behind Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, and then depending on the week Stills, Meachem, or Moore are also stealing looks.  Colston’s a better player than his output, but with the Saints philosophy already being to spread the ball around – and Colston clearly not a redzone priority (1 TD all season) – you can’t start him with any confidence.  I keep him on my roster for now, but if he posts his 4th straight game under 20 yards (even under 40) he becomes someone I look at for freeing up a roster spot.

Titans at Rams

Start ’em RB Zac Stacy:  I still think Benny Cunningham (out with injury these last 2 weeks) may be the better RB, but I have to tip my cap to Zac.  With Kellen Clemens as no real threat to anyone, somehow Stacy ran all over Seattle last week for 134 yards and a 5.2 ypc!  In 4 games since being named the starter Stacy has surpassed 70 total yards each time, and if he can somehow add a TD to that average you’ve got a mid-level fantasy RB2.  Stacy was banged up a little this week with a foot injury, but he’s been practicing and make no doubt he knows he can put a stranglehold on this job very soon.  The Titans are just 24th against the rush- so even though Clemens presents zero threat, and the rest of the Rams skill position players are among the most worthless in the entire league, and he’s a little hurt – Stacy is still a great option this weekend.

Start ’em RB Chris Johnson: This is just a vote of confidence to you Johnson owners. I know the news came out of Tennessee this week that they want to get Shonn Greene more involved (the Titans comical mismanagement on offense has them threatening the bottom Vikings, Rams, and Bucs) but let’s face it Chris Johnson doesn’t need a lot of typical rushing touches to be productive.  Last week against a good Niners d he only ran for 39 yards (on a semi respectable 4.3 average), but he still added 71 yards and a TD to that total with his receiving totals.  The Rams run d in prime time against Marshawn Lynch looked good last week – but remember the Seattle OL is very depleted right now, and overall the Rams rank just 22nd against the run for the season.  Don’t let the hype – either from the Titans, or the Rams d scare you off of Johnson for 2013 – he’s going to be a very good player for your team.

Chargers at Redskins

Start ’em RB Ryan Matthews: You would think there would be fantasy points galore in this game.  Neither defense is any good at making stops, and both offenses have decent if not superstar point producers.  I want to highlight Matthews for the Chargers, as his previous 2 games he went over 100 yards rushing and then got the bye to rest up.  We know Matthews history: injuries and fumbles.  Well he’s healthy right now and starting to run red hot against the 30th ranked Redskins run defense he’s a high end RB2 and absolutely a better play this week than some guys with better historical reputations like Steven Jackson or even Chris Johnson.

Start ’em WR Pierre Garcon:  Garcon, like RG3 has been a bit of a disappointment this season.  He still makes crazy catches and accelerates well after them, but as he put it best “We suck right now at passing”.   He’s been held without a TD for 3 straight games and has only broken the 60 yard barrier once in his last 4 games.  But, we know the drill with WR’s: complain and teams will usually try to force feed you the ball.  Against good defenses this could be a problem, but against the Chargers 26th ranked pass defense it’s likely Pierre gets his long awaited breakout week.  I’m not saying to expect the insane 143 and a TD he put up in week 2, but I would think he’ll be a redzone target this week for certain.  So if you’ve recently taken him out of your WR rotation b/c you’re sick of looking at him put up 6 points or so – now is the time to get him back in as a high WR2 this weekend.

Eagles at Raiders

Sit ’em QB Terrelle Pryor:  I know he just rushed for the longest TD in league history by a QB. But if someone from the Steelers makes a tackle after say 40 yards what kind of day are we talking about fantasy wise?  And that’s the thing, I feel like Pryor is on about 14:58 of his 15mins of spotlight.  His passing #’s over his last 2 games are hovering around a pathetic 52% completion percentage and he has 1 TD vs 5 Int’s during that span.  Pryor can’t really pass at the NFL level, and teams are starting to adjust to this, once his rushing yards drop to a semi-normal 40-50 yards per game you’re going to wind up with a below average fantasy QB (and a terrible real life QB).  We have probably made more wrong calls about Pryor being hot or cold than any other player all season, but I just don’t know how you can feel good about starting this guy right now.  Sure if you’re faced between a Case Keenum or a Jason Cambell, Pryor’s homerun upside is worth it, but against any midlevel producer like Alex Smith or Russel Wilson- I’m taking the safer guys all the time.

Start ’em WR Riley Cooper: In the 2 games prior to Nick Foles getting a concussion Cooper had over 200 yards and a TD.   Foles may be a little slow coming back from his injury (thus why I can’t go all in on him this week), but Cooper will still be one of his favorite targets when he gets back under center this week.  I feel like if Foles can stay healthy that duo will surprise folks down the stretch of this season – it’s not so much that Cooper is extremely talented, so much as it is that Foles is capable of involving his secondary WR options much better than Vick – or the insanely terrible Matt Barkley could ever be. Cooper makes a nice WR3 or very low end flex play this week – with a trend I think to be a very solid option in weeks to come.  70-80 yards could be a very reasonable expectation for him this weekend.

Buccaneers at Seahawks

Sit all Buccaneers except WR Vincent Jackson: And the only reason you can’t sit Jackson is because Glennon’s targets him at such a high volume there’s a nice chance for garbage production.   I like Glennon’s development but he’s not ready for Seattle’s 2nd overall defense in their own building – so this eliminates any of the passing game players (save Jackson and you have to expect a reduced day for him), and rookie RB Mike James has yet to break 60 total yards since stepping in for Doug Martin.  Our own Ron Brown will be there in person this weekend to lend his screaming voice to the throng – so there’s even other reason to bench your Bucs.

Start ’em QB Russell Wilson: No way around it, Wilson’s been a fantasy disappointment this season – with his OL beat up, Percy Harvin not available, and a run heavy gameplan, Wilson is probably hovering around the 10th-15th scoring QB in your league (which is not great in 12 team leagues).  I say don’t get too discouraged or overthink it, Wilson against lesser opponents is still a good- to-great starting option.  The loss of Sidney Rice for the season doesn’t worry me too much, because let’s face it Sidney Rice has been “just a guy” for 3 seasons now – Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse can handle that level of production.  Wilson will have a nice day against a below average Buccaneers pass defense, and he’s a clear start to me if you’re choosing between 2 QB’s and don’t have an elite guy this weekend.

Ravens at Browns

Sit ’em RB Ray Rice: Rice is quickly approaching RB3 level which is not something you want when talking about someone that was taken in the 1st round this summer.  The good news for a down season is that Rice has had an occasionally excellent week (like Week 5 vs Miami 102 total yards and 2 TD’s), and he’s had a bye week to get some much needed rest.   But here’s the bad news – Rice’s current season’s YPC is a horrific 2.8, and he has just 3 total TD’s through 7 games.  Rice looks like the “oldest” 26 year old to ever play the game,  and looks slow and beat up.  Some of  this is the general failure of Baltimore to run at all, as the younger and larger Bernard Pierce has also struggled.  It got so bad the team even brought in Beanie Wells for a change of pace (and poor Wells tore his ACL during the workout!) If your team can only start 2 RB’s and you have 3 options – Rice is a sit against tough matchups nowadays, if you have a flex spot or an RB3 you probably still have to take a chance most weeks with Rice – but it’s not looking like a dramatic turn around is imminent.  The Browns have a decent 11th ranked run defense and I’m no longer convinced that against a team of this level that Rice is a “must start”.  Consider other options this week.

Sit ’em RB Willis McGahee: Speaking of old and beat up, here’s a guy that’s actually both.  The Browns are sort of shuffling their backfield around constantly- and this combined with McGahee’s achy knees has resulted in him only getting an average of 9-12 touches a week.  Willis is simply not at the stage of his career where he can really produce with so few opportunities, and he doesn’t appear to be able to handle a 20+ touch workload (they did it once with 26 carries in week 5, and he hasn’t been able to recover).  I had hope McGahee would develop into a low end RB2 this season, but it looks like that hope is expiring quickly, and currently he’s a very low end RB3, and probably not an option if you have a flex spot (def not in PPR).  Keep him rostered for a few more weeks to see if he can get his workload back to normal for a starting RB, but keep him on your bench until he can cross that 15 carry mark.

Steelers at Patriots

Start ’em RB Steven Ridley – Few things in fantasy this year have been more perplexing to me than Ridley’s recent run to fantasy relevance.  Through his 1st 5 games of the season Ridley looked terrible running for over 50 yards just 1 time, and getting 0 Td’s.  He looked DONE.  TOAST.  EL FINITO.  Owners probably couldn’t dump him because he was likely drafted in the 1st 3 rounds of your league’s fantasy draft, and you were counting on him.  Well, inexplicably Ridley has rewarded any patience shown to him – as over his last 3 games he hasn’t once totaled under 50 yards, while piling up 4 Td’s.  Pittsburgh’s run defense – usually a hallmark, is well below average this season at 27th overall.  So continue to rely on Ridley this week as a RB2, and be glad the Pats have worked him back into their gamplans.  (IF YOU WANTED A GRONKOWSKI VERDICT = IF HE PLAYS YOU START HIM)

Colts at Texans

Start ’em RB Ben Tate: And here I am recommending a guy with 4 broken ribs, what a fantasy season this has been.  The Colts have a terrible run defense, (29th in NFL) and with Case Keenum as your QB – you have to think the Texans will try to establish the run.  Arian Foster (gametime decision), if he suits up will at best get 50% of the workload as (hopefully) the Texans won’t push him on a bad hamstring.  Even injured, and even if his workload is capped Tate makes a nice play this week as a flex, or even a very low end RB2.  I mean if you’ve owned Tate at all in your fantasy life you know that these are the types of conditions and matchups that you wait all year to play him in.  His points could fluctuate anywhere between 6-20, so as an upside lotto pick he is probably worth it over your bench full of under-producers or bye week starters.

 

:by Mike

2013 – Week 8 Waiver Add/Drop

Last week we warned you for the last time to go out and grab TE Jordan Reed & RB Chris Ivory before it was too late.  Actually we shouted about it for weeks – now wouldn’t Reed be good on your team if say you had Jermichael Finley go down with injury this weekend? Or Ivory as an option if you owned Doug Martin? I’d also like to remind everyone that we advised picking up WR Percy Harvin ahead of the crowd last week as well…you may still have time on him if you didn’t…but time is running out.

And week 7 in the NFL had several significant injuries, but only some of them provide opportunity for you as a fantasy owner.  It’s a cruel reality, but someone else’s misfortune can be your gain. We’ll help you turn those salty tears into gumdrops.

As always what we’ll do here is make recommendations on 3 levels. Level 1 guys are so obvious that they were either drafted in your league on draft day already, or you will have to fight with other owners over them on the wire. Level 2 guys are decent risks that may not always pan out, but more of them may be available in your league to serve your purposes.  And finally level 3 guys are more of the longshot homerun guys – but if your need is great, or if you play in a deep league – these might be the only guys you have a chance at….

Level 1

RB Ben Tate – Tate may not be owned in more shallow leagues, and though I am hesitant to recommend a player that fumbles, and to over exaggerate any injury to Arian Foster – I need to recommend adding him anywhere you can.  Tate has broken rib issues, and Foster has a bye to help get healthier on his hamstring…but as insane as this sounds rib injuries are better for a RB to be dealing with, and as the Texans fall out of contention they are likely to continue to ease Foster’s workload if they can.  The Texans will have to add someone new to the mix, since they cut 3rd string RB Cierre Wood for pot smoking over the weekend – but it’s tough to see anyone new really challenging a banged up Tate for work.  Tate sometimes lives off of hype so don’t expect clear sailing if you get him, but he could be a great RB2 over the next few weeks for you.

RB Mike James – James is worth a level 1 grade for now, because it’s about to be week 8 and there are really very few options on the waiver wire for starting RB’s.  Doug Martin’s shoulder injury may have him on the shelf for the season – or at the very least significant time, and in that time “someone” has to get the workload.  I think James is fairly talented, but buyer has to beware here – the Buccaneers couldn’t get Doug Martin going, there’s no real reason to believe James will have good success.  Personal favorite RB Bobby Rainey was picked up by the Bucs off of waivers as well – but make no mistake you should be way more concerned about the general offensive challenges of the team rather than the competition.  But fantasy football is a lot about supply and demand at the RB spot, so if you need a RB3/flex type of option…James is worth the add.

Level 2

RB Roy Helu – Even in some average size leagues I suspect Helu is available.  This was with good reason, as the Redskins have been slow to define his role this season.  But, Helu is starting to be used more and more – particularly in the Redskins no huddle offense, and was a huge performer with 3 TD’s over the weekend.  Alfred Morris owners need not panic (although they should pick up Helu if available), but Helu does present another option to teams looking for flex level RB play.  Helu is more talented than Mike James, and probably more than Ben Tate – but his workload going forward will be much more erratic than those two and without a general “touch” number week to week starting him will be a matter of matchup and luck.  Still Helu needs to clearly be owned in all leagues at this point even if just for bench depth.

RB Shane Vereen – Speaking of a guy with talent, Vereen finally took his cast off at practice last week – which may be a sign of him returning in a few weeks.  Vereen’s brittle injury history combined with a logjam at RB in New England – may not scream to you that he should be added weeks before he is announced as being ready to play.  However, Vereen’s outstanding season opener (159 total yards) should put him on track to some sort of significant role in the New England offense when he returns.  The big question here, is when?  So do you pick him up now when he may still be out for 2-3 games?  This depends on your roster space and your team’s need to have producers over the next few weeks, if you can squeeze him on the team do so, because if somehow he is available to play soon he’ll be a level 1 type of guy without question and your whole league might get in on trying to grab him.

WR Brandon Gibson – Gibson was quietly moving up the Dolphins passing pecking order this season (74 vs Balt in Week 5 before the bye) until this weekend’s 2 TD explosion.  With 29 catches on the season Gibson is probably a better PPR start than non, but he has interesting flex value when the Dolphins play teams with weak secondaries (I notice they play NE this week).

WR Marvin Jones –   In each of the last 2 weeks Jones has caught a TD pass and appears to be winning the 2nd WR spot for the Bengals.  I like Jones’ overall game, and the questions only remain for me about his role and targets – but you have to like the fact that they are trending up.  He may not initially have the production of Douglas or Gibson – but to me his upside is much higher.  If he goes out and has a 3rd solid game this weekend he’ll be a no brainer add….get him before then if you need WR help.

WR Harry Douglas – Look, the Falcons don’t have much else at this point so while it’s unlikely Douglas will go 149 yards and a 1 TD every week, he does have weekly flex fantasy starter material written on him.  When Roddy White returns – Douglas will lose some targets perhaps, but he is assured playing time and targets as long as he’s healthy.  He probably just had his best game of the season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help your team going forward.

TE Coby Fleener – I don’t love Fleener’s talent, and even as TE’s go he can be inconsistent.  But if he’s sitting out there in your league and you need TE help here’s a guy that might see more targets with WR Reggie Wayne being lost for the season to ACL injury.  Don’t drop a good TE2 for him, but if you have an ok TE starter and a questionable backup it may be time to add Fleener.

Level 3

RB Daniel Thomas – Thomas may have been cut by some owner earlier this season, b/c let’s fact it: nobody wants to own or draft Daniel Thomas.  And I am loathe to bring him up here – and only advise this as a desperation add. But, Thomas looked pretty good vs the Bills this weekend with 60 yards on 12 carries, and appears to be in the mix at the RB position.  He’s not very talented and this has to be more of a hurt to Lamar Miller owners than a fantasy option…but should Miller get even a little banged up – it appears Thomas is ready to go.  I mean 12 carries is a lot of work for a “backup” RB….Thomas appears to be creeping into RB committee territory and could be useful to a (very) desperate fantasy team.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey – Our own Tim Brown championed Bey during the preseason as a sleeper for 2013.  Bey had a tougher time than we expected transitioning to the Colts’ offense, but like Fleener above, Reggie Wayne’s injury should open the door to more looks for Bey.  Bey won’t elevate to WR2 level in all likelihood,  but he could provide your team with some WR3 low level flex play -and gets even a little more boost in a PPR league.

QB Case Keenum – Keenum is the only QB of those thrust into action this week (McCown in CHI, Clemmens in STL, Campbell in CLE?) who will be worth rostering on potential.  It’s not that he’s great.  He’s not – he arguably has a bad NFL arm and may struggle as teams get tape on him.  But he does manage a good offense with weapons and has a bye week to presumably learn more with the 1st team.  I don’t know if he’s won the Texans starting job, but in deep leagues, or 2 QB leagues, or dynasty leagues he’s worth a speculative add – because while he may not have the job for long, or only have it for this season – there’s the slim chance he performs well enough to win the job outright.  And that’s a shot the other “fill-in” QB’s just don’t have.  Dynasty league value here is probably the highest, but if you have a redraft league with QB issues – as a lotto style backup option he may be worth a look.

WR Mike Brown – With Cecil Shorts struggling due to injury, Jacksonville has another WR getting garbage time points.  Brown’s huge 5 catch 120 yard day came out of nowhere and isn’t likely to be duplicated again this season – but if you need WR4/5 depth on your roster he may be worth a flier.  For you PPR players Brown has 9 catches over his last 2 games – and should Shorts continue to nurse injury – I expect Brown’s targets to remain steady.

DROPS

WR Tavon Austin – Austin did finally get behind a defense this week for a big play – but that play was canceled out by a tripping penalty.  The rookie WR, who I felt was terribly overhyped coming out of college has had a rough transition to the NFL game, and now with QB Sam Bradford out for the season there is no reason to own this guy in redraft leagues, even in very deep leagues he’s a questionable keep.  I don’t advise dropping TE Jared Cook just yet, because new QB’s tend to rely on TE’s to dump off the ball to….but Cook may also become a Kellen Clemmens causality drop in a game or two.

RB Chris Ogbonnaya – If you picked him up based off his week 6 80 total yards 1 TD performance it may be time to drop him already. 4 touches coming off of that game? 4?!!  And now he’s in a committee with Fozzy Whittaker behind McGahee?!!  The Cleveland Browns are infuriating for fantasy this year….total wild cards.

:by Mike