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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fine or Pine, Week 2

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

Even though it's only week two for fantasy football, so many questions arise this week in terms of which players to start and which players to sit (Fine or Pine as we like to call it here). You've made moves to claim players off of your waiver wire and now you're wondering if you should play those players or stick with the players you drafted not too long ago. Well that's why you're probably reading this article. You're looking for help on who to play and who to let keep your fantasy bench warm. Read on for some help.

Quarterback

Fine- Andrew Luck- At this point, the only chance the Indianapolis Colts have of putting up any points is via the passing game and that obviously bodes well for their third year signal caller Andrew Luck. Luck will be forced to throw the ball again since the run game is not much of an option right now for them. Luck will also be forced to pass a lot due to the Colts Monday night opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. Everybody is expecting a shootout and with the suspect defenses of both the Colts and the Eagles, that's most likely a smart bet. Last week against the Broncos, Luck passed for 370 yards and two touchdowns. He provided fantasy owners with over 34 fantasy points in week one and his owners should expect that trend to continue in week two.

Pine- Eli Manning- Hopefully no fantasy owner is faced with the decision to start Eli Manning this early in the fantasy season. The Giants offense looked lost in week one and Eli looked even worse. He threw for 163 yards and a touchdown but also had two interceptions. He scored just over 12 fantasy points in the game versus the Lions and gets an even tougher defense in week two when the Giants face the Arizona Cardinals. Good defensive line and strong secondary for the Cardinals does not bode well for a struggling Eli Manning.

Running Back


Fine- Arian Foster- Maybe the demise of Arian Foster was exaggerated a little bit. Week one saw Foster rush for over 100 yards and provide fantasy owners who were trusting enough to start him score double digit fantasy points and even managed to have a couple of receptions in there as well. Week two is an even better matchup for Foster as he faces the Oakland Raiders who last week gave up almost 32 fantasy points to the Jets running backs. Fantasy owners should expect another productive week from Arian Foster.

Pine- Eddie Lacy- Let me start off by saying I'm not in favor of benching stud players (Especially this early in the season) but between the matchup and the recent concussion, unless you have better options, Eddie Lacy is a risky play in my opinion. (For the record, this could totally backfire on me). Last week, the Jets only allowed 4.5 fantasy points to the Raiders and while the Packers are nowhere near as bad as the Raiders, the Jets run defense has been historically stingy under Rex Ryan. It's their passing defense that needs work and that could allow Aaron Rodgers to find receivers all game long giving Lacy a bit of a breather this week.

Wide Receiver


Fine- Justin Hunter- Last week, Hunter was targeted eight times by Jake Locker and hauled in three passes for 63 yards. Obviously not numbers that jump out at a fantasy owner heading into week two but the Titans face the Cowboys defense this week and Justin Hunter should have himself a better game this time around. He looks to be the deep option and the Cowboys secondary doesn't look like it's able to do much in the way of stopping anyone any time soon. The Titans should be able to move the ball with ease and the receivers for the Titans should benefit from that.

Pine- Victor Cruz- Maybe it's his quarterback or maybe it's just him but Victor Cruz hasn't been very fantasy relevant lately and week one wasn't any different. The matchup isn't in the Giants favor this week and Cruz looks like he's a forgotten man in the offense. Cruz saw six targets in week one and hauled in only two for 24 yards. He provided his fantasy owners with barely two points last week and can't be trusted moving forward. There's a big game in Cruz somewhat but good luck figuring out when that will be.

Tight End

Fine- Zach Ertz- Coming off of a week one that saw Ertz targeted five times, he caught three of those targets for 77 yards and a score. Ertz managed over 13 fantasy points for his owners and looks to get goal line targets as well. With the expected shootout coming in week two versus the Colts, Ertz looks to be a top option for week two.

Pine- Marcedes Lewis- Hopefully many if no fantasy owners are faced with this dilemma in week two but Marcedes Lewis should not be an option heading into the Jaguars matchup against the Redskins. Lewis did have six catches in week one but other than that, was a complete dud. He scored 3.5 fantasy points and the Redskins played the tight end tough in week one so hopefully you have a better option at the tight end position.

Defense

Fine- Houston- Last week, the Texans defense gave up under 11 fantasy points to Robert Griffin and the Redskins and in week two get the Raiders and their rookie quarterback Derek Carr. There's no reason the Texans defense shouldn't finish as a top fantasy defense this week.

Pine- Kansas City- The second half of last season saw the Chiefs defense decline and the first week of this season isn't looking to promising either. Last week, the Chiefs gave up 20 fantasy points to Jake Locker and this week face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. This a perfect week to pine the Chiefs defense.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Week 2: Keepers, Sleepers, and Jeepers

By Adam Filadelfo (@FntsyArchitect)

It's that time of year again. Time to put in those week one waiver claims for your fantasy football league. Regardless of how great owners think they drafted, or even if owners came away with a week one victory, most owners will put in a claim or bid for at least one player on their waiver wire immediately following the week one games. Here is a list of hot hands that will be claimed before week two kicks off on Thursday in Baltimore.

Keepers

Allen Hurns- Wide Receiver-Jacksonville Jaguars- Allen Hurns is an undrafted free agent and had himself an outstanding preseason that he carried over into week one of the regular season. With no Cecil Shorts for the Jaguars, Allen Hurns stepped up in a big way to the tune of four catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Another positive takeaway from Hurns' performance in week one was Chad Henne trusted him enough to target him nine times. Hurns was quiet in the second half of that game but the damage was already done and Hurns earned himself a starting spot on a lot of fantasy rosters heading into week two. Putting up 23 fantasy points will tend to do that for a player. With Cecil Shorts banged up quite a bit for the Jaguars, expect Hurns to produce for an unknown Jaguars receiving squad going forward. Just don't expect 23 fantasy points per game from him on a weekly basis but he should do enough to warrant a roster spot moving forward.

Justin Forsett- Running back- Baltimore Ravens- With the news of Ray Rice being suspended indefinitely and cut from the team, the Ravens will look to Justin Forsett to take on some of the work in their backfield. While Forsett may not be the man for the job long term, he does have familiarity with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's system from their days in Houston. Forsett made his presence known in week one versus the Bengals when he scored over 14 fantasy points and averaged over six yards per attempt. Forsett also had six balls thrown his way and caught five of then for 14 yards. For the time being, Justin Forsett is worth the pickup seeing how he will get his share of touches for the Ravens for the foreseeable future.

John Brown- Wide Receiver- Arizona Cardinals- Another receiver that had himself a good preseason is John Brown. While he didn't exactly light up the Chargers in week one, he was targeted five times by Carson Palmer and did find the end zone for his first career touchdown in the NFL. With Larry Fitzgerald not having a catch until late in the game and Michael Floyd commanding more attention from defenses, John Brown could be a breakout receiver in a pass heavy offense. He's definitely worth a stash in PPR leagues and should continue to see targets tossed his way as he did see significant playing time on Monday night.

Terrance West- Running Back- Cleveland Browns- While the severity of the injury to Ben Tate is unclear at this time, it pays for Tate owners to put in a claim for who appears to be the backup to Tate, Terrance West. West managed to hit the century mark in his first NFL game and scored double digit fantasy points in the process. While West may end up in a committee with Isaiah Crowell if Tate misses time, West did out carry Crowell 16-5 in week one which would make fantasy owners think West would handle a majority of the carries.

Bernard Pierce- Running Back- Baltimore Ravens- While Pierce was slated to be the primary ball carrier in the absence of Ray Rice, Pierce was pulled early for a fumble and gave way to Justin Forsett from there on. Pierce didn't do much of anything prior to his benching and in the little action he had last year and this year hasn't really impressed coaches or fantasy owners but seeing how he is a starting running back, he should be owned for the time being. The Ravens backfield is still unclear at this time heading into week two but sooner or later should show itself. For the time being, Pierce has to be considered a player to hang onto until proven otherwise.

Josh Gordon-Wide Receiver- Cleveland Browns- This has become a huge headache (at least for me) with the reports of he's suspended for the season, he has a chance to appeal the suspension, he's going to sell cars, oh wait, a new agreement can be reached which could overturn the suspensions of Josh Gordon and Wes Welker. Bottom line is if there is a chance that Josh Gordon will play this season, he has to be worth the waiver claim. Surely there is a player that you drafted in the later rounds that you aren't that convinced will do as much as Josh Gordon can and that is worth taking a chance right there. Adding Josh Gordon to your fantasy team can win you your league. With his eye popping numbers from 2013 where he missed the first two games and still managed 87 receptions for over 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging over 16 fantasy points per game, if Josh Gordon is still sitting on your waiver wire, stop reading this and add him. If he doesn't play in 2014, there's always another player to come along and fill that spot. He's worth the headache.


Sleepers

Bobby Rainey-Running Back- Tampa Bay Buccaneers-With the injury to Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey is worth an add since fantasy owners are familiar with his production based on 2013. He filled in admirably for Doug Martin last season and may be called upon to do so again. At this time, the extent of the injury to Martin isn't clear but what is clear is that Bobby Rainey is capable of carrying the load. Week one saw Rainey rush for 12 yards but he did get two targets which bodes well for owners playing in PPR leagues.

Khiry Robinson-  Running Back- New Orleans Saints- Khiry Robinson didn't have much of a fantasy impact in week one but he did score a touchdown which makes him somewhat relevant to owners. With the three headed monster that is the New Orleans backfield, Khiry Robinson could be a decent option in PPR leagues but Ingram seems to be the lead back as of right now. Khiry Robinson did score almost nine fantasy points so he could be worth looking at if you're looking for running back depth but barring injuries to Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, Robinson probably won't provide much value on a weekly basis.

Mark Ingram- Running Back- New Orleans Saints- Since coming into the league, Mark Ingram hasn't lived up to his hype but 2014 could be a turning point for the former Alabama tailback. Ingram looked to be the lead back in his week one matchup versus the Falcons scoring twice. He only rushed for 60 yards but since the scores were there, fantasy owners will take notice. He gave fantasy owners over 18 fantasy points and could be a week two gem versus the Browns who gave up 127 yards on the ground to the Steelers in week one.

Isaiah Crowell- Running Back- Cleveland Browns- Once Ben Tate went down with his injury, the Browns used Crowell and West and even though West had a majority of the touches (16-5 in favor of West), Crowell did score twice and scored over 15 fantasy points in the process. Week two could be a committee once again but Crowell could end up being the goal line back and that alone is worth owning him. Of course if Tate is back for week two, that could decrease the value of Crowell but for now, a bid isn't out of the question.


Jeepers

Brian Quick- Wide Receiver-St.Louis Rams- The Rams offense looked abysmal as a whole but Brian Quick was one of the few bright spots. The third year receiver had been on radars some time ago but when he didn't produce, fantasy owners quickly forgot about him. Fast forward to week one of the 2014 season and Brian Quick caught seven passes on nine targets for 99 yards. While Quick had a good week one, fantasy owners can be hard pressed to expect consistent production from him seeing how the quarterback situation in St. Louis remains murky. Quick has shown flashes in the past but he may have to show fantasy owners a little more before being considered worth an add.

Rod Streater- Wide Receiver- Oakland Raiders- There wasn't much to talk about in week one when it came to the Oakland Raiders. Rod Streater did show a little something with rookie signal caller Derek Carr by hauling in five of his seven targets for 46 yards and a touchdown. He did post double digit fantasy points but it's very difficult to expect consistency from him but then again, Streater could end up emerging as the Raiders number one option so that alone makes him worth an add. Just don't expect too much from Streater at this time.

Devin Hester- Wide Receiver- Atlanta Falcons- While Hester had a productive week one and start to his time in Atlanta, fantasy owners should be familiar with what Hester brings to the table at this point. He did have five catches for 99 yards but expecting Hester to provide fantasy relevance on a consistent basis is asking for too much. His week one performance was more a product of Matt Ryan getting all of his receivers involved against a Saints defense that wasn't looking to stop anybody.

Marcedes Lewis- Tight End-Jacksonville Jaguars- Lewis made this list simply because some fantasy owners may be looking for a tight end to add to their roster and Lewis did have nine targets. Other than the targets, Marcedes Lewis doesn't provide much fantasy value other than possibly a bye week fill in.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fantasy Football Tools (with links!)

Here is an overview of a few things I've found while looking around.  Fantasy football tools that I use:

My Rankings - I've developed my own Top 400 rankings that I use.  It's got the VAST and VEST metrics that I came up with... Available only by signing up for the never-spam list.  (You can click that link or.... See that box at the top of the page??)

3P3Z - Read the book (Amazon has it on sale both for Kindle and Prime-shipped physical copy) or get "The Program" to understand.  Devilishly simple, and simultaneously brilliant.  #selfpromotion

Fantasy Pros Rankings - I'm honored to be one of 122 experts who provide rankings for FantasyPros.com.  The beauty of this site is that it tells you what ought to be happening in drafts based on the best possible view of the value of players... Not just the value of them on the one site on which you are drafting.  More than that, it is a composite ranking so any individual biases are washed out.  Sometimes you do see values increase or decrease for various reasons, but the swings are much more subtle and rational than they would be in one person's individual rankings.

Fantasy Football Calculator - This is where most of the pros that I've spoken to go for their ADP rankings.  The results are always up-to-the-minute since the default setting is to give you results from the previous two days.

Fantasy Gameday Spreadsheet - If you are more of a spreadsheet person and you'd like to be able to see the data and slice-and-dice it yourself, look no further than the ADP and Scarcity Report from FantasyGameday.net.  They have done a ton of research for you and even broken players down into tiers for you.  The best part?  It's only three bucks.  Check it out!

Podcasts - I am a podcast junkie.  The information is fresh and there is a ton of it.  I'm loving "Living the Stream" with my man JJ Zachariason.  Awesome stuff...  He wrote "The Late Round Quarterback" which takes my "back-to-back-quarterback" strategy to the extreme.  You also cannot go wrong with The Football Guys - both The Audible and On the Couch, plus their individual team breakdowns and interviews with beat writers.  Awesome stuff.  Also, you really ought to listen to the ESPN Fantasy Focus show because it is the most popular one out there... Chances are that there are people in your leagues that are listening to this so it is good to have as a baseline.  It's also entertaining.  The advice can be hit or miss, but it's a good place to get a feeling for prevailing wisdom.

PlayerLine -  I love, love, love the clean interface of the PlayerLine app.  (I'm not sure what to put for a link... I use it for iPhone, so if you have one too you can just search for PlayerLine in the app store.  It's got a red logo with all lowercase letters.)  Do you want to know what news is available on players in the NFL?  Of course you do!  PlayerLine is just an app that simply lists news for you in a stream.  You don't have to sort through promotional stuff or filler or anything else.

League Apps - Man, the app for your league has come a long way.  How do I know where you play?  Doesn't matter.  Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, NFL.com, and MFL have all updated their apps extensively and they are all quality.  In fact, I find MFL's app to be more user-friendly than their website (too much stuff on the site makes it hard to navigate for me).  You may not believe this, but check it out, I did an entire ESPN draft on their app last night.  No foolin'.

Magazines - I'm not contractually obligated to list this one because I write for the RotoWire magazine.  I do, but I'm not.  There is an interesting thing about magazines and one where you can take a perceived weakness of the format and turn it into a strength.  People that play a lot of fantasy football look down on magazines since it is dated information.  And it is true, those magazines were written 3 or 4 months ago.  However, they are a time capsule of information for you and I think that can give you an edge on the "group think" out there.  If you think about it, what has really changed since the NFL draft?  Other than injuries, not much.  We've seen a few pre-season games, but that stuff is really hard to use for player evaluations. (Except Emmanuel Sanders... go get that guy.)  I say it is very powerful to look at certain players and how their value has changed over the past three months.  Was there any reason why, or is it group think?  If a player has shot up in value for no real reason you may want to avoid him.  And the opposite for one that has dropped... maybe that is good value?  I believe that in the right context this information is invaluable.

Site Rankings - The very best thing you can do to prepare for a draft is to take the rankings for the site on which you are drafting and compare it to a composite rank like Fantasy Pros or the composite ADP in Fantasy Football Calculator.  People default to what they see on their screen.  Even the best fantasy players won't scroll down too far to find one of their guys.  In other words, if ESPN ranks Andre Ellington at #46 but Fantasy Pros ranks him at #26 for the same format, you've got yourself a buying opportunity.  You could take Ellington anywhere from #27-#45 and get some extra value.  Obviously the opposite can be true as well.  Peyton Manning may be ranked #8 by ESPN and #21 on Fantasy Pros.  If you stay away you won't get stuck in a trap.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Razzball Radio in Charlotte with The Brain



On Monday night Razzball Radio invaded the Queen City, home of the NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers, to talk fantasy football with Dave McKay from the Brain as well as noted fantasy veteran Michael Rathburn.  A star-studded draft followed, which included Rath, Jason Collette, JJ Zachariason, John Halpin, Jeff Haseley, and more.  Good times.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

32 Bust Candidates

I am thinking about Dwayne Bowe today.  Here's a guy who has shown that he's got some serious skills, but he just seems to struggle to consistently put it all together.  He was awesome in the Chiefs' playoff game last year and he's really the only game in town as far as top end pass-catchers go in Andy Reid's offense.  But man, I just don't know.  He really wasn't very good last year with 57 receptions on 105 targets.  I just can't believe that he's going to produce this year.

And Greg Jennings is going three and a half rounds later.

Let's see if we can do this same thing for every team in the league:

Arizona - Larry Fitzgerald.  Look, Fitz will be really good again this year but I believe Michael Floyd emerges as the #1.  Floyd is going 12 picks later.

Atlanta - Jacquizz Rodgers.  I don't believe that Rodgers will do anything this year, frankly.  Donald Brown is going at almost exactly the same pick.

Baltimore - Ray Rice.  How is he still going in the late 4th round?  I expected to get Rice as a super bargain this year but it doesn't look like the case.  He was horrible last year, there ain't much tread left on the tires, plus he's suspended for two games.  The next five RB's off the board are CJ, Joique, Tate, Miller, and Ridley.  I will take any of them, plus Richardson who is being taken almost exactly where Rice is.

Buffalo - Sammy Watkins.  Look guys, it's Sammy.  Sixth round for a rookie WR with a suspect QB and mediocre offensive line?  Too rich for my blood.  Terrance Williams, Reggie Wayne, and Kendall Wright are all going later.

Carolina - Jonathan Stewart.  Why, Brainiacs, why?  Stewart won't help you.  Move along.  I realize it's the 13th round, but please take Donald Brown instead.

Chicago - Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.  I'm totally hedging my bet here.  All I know is if all of the weapons in this offense get anywhere close to their projections Jay Cutler is a first round pick next year.  I'll take a good RB ahead of them every time, like a Gio or Ellington.  At WR I'd rather have Antonio Brown, which seems crazy but I'm just drawn to guys that get the full load.

Cincinnati - Jeremy Hill.  He could produce this year, but he's a rookie and Gio is the man.  I'd rather have D-Will or Andre Williams a couple of picks later or maybe wait a round and gamble on Khiry instead.

Cleveland - Terrance West.  Cleveland is a tough one.  Everyone there seems fairly valued, but I think I'll wait 13 or 14 picks for my high-upside rookie RB and take Hyde or Freeman instead. (Though I really do like West behind a fragile Ben Tate.)

Dallas - Jason Witten.  I'd rather take Jordan Reed nine picks later.

Denver - Peyton Manning.  Yes, I'm on that train.  He's got to slow down sometime and he can't replicate what he did last year.  He should have a fine season, but 8th overall is kind of crazy to me.  I'll take the Jimmy Graham or Demaryius Thomas and then grab Aaron Rodgers in the 2nd round.

Detroit - Golden Tate.  I'm not buying it.  Late 6th round is too much for me when you could get a solid RB option like Bernard Pierce (a bit of a gamble, but at least he gets the full load for two games) or a different WR like Kendall Wright.  And, honestly this is the spot in the draft where I'm lookng for a QB like Cutler or Romo even though they are going 11 and 13 picks (respectively) later than Tate.

Green Bay - Everyone not named Aaron Rodgers.  I'd rather have Murray, Bell, Ball, or Gio than Lacy.  Antonio Brown over Nelson.  I'd take the RB over Cobb with Ellington going one pick later.  Boykin in the 10th seems too high.  Starks in the 13th isn't likely to pan out.  Richard Rodgers in the 14th?  Maybe you'll have something there but he'd be your TE2 that late and I'd much rather have Kelce one pick later.

Houston - Andre Brown.  Okay, that's cheating.  This is a tough one though, folks.  I suppose it's Foster here since he's going next to Gio and nine picks before Ellington.

Indianapolis - Hakeem Nicks.  Ninth round is pretty high for a third receiver.  Well, it's borderline for your fantasy squad's WR3, but it's kind of crazy when your WR3 is his own team's WR3 in real life.  Josh Gordon is going one pick later, but that will change when we hear about his possible suspension.  Boldin is there and predictable, Kenny Stills goes eight picks later and has more upside.

Jacksonville - Marqise Lee.  Another tough squad to find a bust is Jacksonville.  I'll go with Lee since Brian Hartline is drafted one spot later and is almost assuredly going to outproduce Lee this year.

Kansas City - Bowe, for reasons already stated.  And, I'll tell you who it isn't the bust - Travis Kelce.  I like him a lot this year and you can get him for nothin'.

Miami - Mike Wallace.  I sort of like Wallace to bounce back this year, but I probably won't see it happening if he goes in the 6th round of my drafts.  Cooks, T. Williams, Wayne, Wright, and even Decker feel like better options.

Minnesota - Cordarrelle Patterson.  Guys, can we just... Can't we kind of... I mean, we sort of need to... Cordarrelle Patterson in the 4th round?!?  I mean, I like his RAC ability too... and he does sort of remind you of Terrell Owens if you squint real hard, but the 4th round is crazy.  Me, I'll go with DeSean eight picks later, Floyd nine picks later, Hilton 13 picks later, or Torrey Smith 17 picks later.  And there are more.

New England - Tom Brady.  It seems like really good value at #61, but you can get Cutler at #97 or Cam Newton at #82.  Plus guys like Romo, Ryan, Rivers, Griffin, and Kaepernick are all going quite a bit after Brady.  #61 doesn't seem like good value anymore.

New Orleans - Khiry Robinson.  This another tough one since I find that Saints players are mostly underrated this year.  Robinson in the 8th round is a gamble.  If you are ready for a risky play at that point in the draft it could pay off, but I will generally prefer an Ahmad Bradshaw 16 picks later.

New York Giants - Rueben Randle.  At the end of the 7th round, Randle won't be on any of my teams.  Amendola is going 17 picks later.

New York Jets - Michael Vick.  Really tough one here, but I believe that Geno Smith will be the starter so Vick going in the 14th round won't work if he doesn't play.  Certainly it could be a steal if he does play, so if you get an every-week starter at QB and you want to burn a bench spot on a QB2 you might be able to generate a trade chip late with Vick. Nevertheless, if he doesn't play he'll be worth less than even EJ Manuel or Jake Locker.  Alright, moving along... this was a toughie.

Oakland - Maurice Jones-Drew.  I think Mojo could do some damage this year, but he is in a timeshare and he hasn't been himself in recent years... and he's being drafted ahead of Bernard Pierce, Steven Jackson, and Fred Jackson.  I think I'd rather take a chance on Pierce blowing up in weeks one and two than Mojo getting his, ahem, mojo back.

Philadelphia - Jordan Matthews.  I'm not buying it.  Not 14 draft positions ahead of Greg Jennings.  {EDIT: Okay, I am buying it.  He's a rookie, but Riley Cooper is more or less a journeyman who had some moments last year and Jeremy Maclin is already hurt again. There just might not be a lot of competition for targets in a high-powered offense.  Plus, Matthews is 6'3" and caught all nine of his targets in pre-season game #2... and that equals upside.  I'll switch my bust to Nick Foles.  He might not have the wideouts he needs to produce at the level where he's being drafted.}

Pittsburgh - Ben Roethlisberger.  Taking Ben in the 10th round is too high.  Not because I particularly like Andy Dalton or Johnny Manziel, but because you should be using your 10th rounder to fortify your flex position with some depth like Ahmad Bradshaw or Steve Smith.

San Diego - Malcom Floyd.  He's just never healthy.  I'd rather have Cotchery 16 picks later.

San Francisco - 49ers DST.  If you take a DST in the 8th round you better not miss.  There is just too much variability here, plus they've dealt with some injuries.  The Broncos come off the board 12 picks later and the Browns (who I love this year) are available 60 picks later.

Seattle - Percy Harvin.  Hey, maybe he steps right up and delivers on his big, big potential.  I'm not going to find out with a 5th round pick.  Harvin has never had 1,000 yards in a season and never had seven touchdowns, plus he was out almost the entire year in 2013.  He proved what he is when in Minnesota - around 850 yards and six TD's.  I need more in the 5th, and I think I'll get it with Michael Floyd.  I also prefer T. Smith, Hilton, Maclin, Sanders and more.

St. Louis - Zac Stacy.  28th seems about right, but I'd much rather have Ellington at #30.  I also prefer Gerhart, Jennings, and Mathews.

Tampa Bay - Austin Sefarian-Jenkins.  Okay, he's fine as a late round gamble, but if that's what we're doing let's take Travis Kelce eight picks later.

Tennessee - Justin Hunter.  This Just-in... Hunter's not as good as Greg Jennings, who is being drafted 13 picks later.

Washington - Roy Helu.  Not buying it.  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.  Give me C.J. Anderson with the next pick or Donald Brown ten picks later.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Case for This Year's Surprise at RB

The (impressive) content below was written for all you Brainiacs by my man George Banko at http://fantasyfootballhelpers.com/  Check them out and give him a follow @gbanko4.

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Famed musician Duke Ellington and Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington have something in common. While Duke Ellington was pretty good at swing, the ADP (average draft position) of Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington is also swinging — upward. But is the second-year running back worthy of RB1 value for 2014?


Ellington burst onto the scene last season in the absence of now-retired Rashard Mendenhall. In his first career start midway through 2013, Ellington rushed for 154 rushing yards on 15 carries and one touchdown against a bad Atlanta defense.
His 15 carries in that game were the most he ever registered in his young career, though he later matched that amount against a much tougher Seattle Seahawk defense in Week 16. Seattle held him in check during that affair, but Ellington still came away with a respectable 64 rushing yards on 4.3 yards per carry.
Even though he started just one game, Ellington’s 5.5 yard per carry was a league best in 2013 and he fell just 36 yards short of eclipsing Rashard Mendenhall for the team’s rushing title.


But the ground game wasn’t the only place Ellington was effective. He also caught 39 passes for 371 yards, showing good versatility in the receiving game with quarterback Carson Palmer. He was especially effective on the slip route over the middle of the field and on screen passes. The infamous missed wheel route, which would have won Arizona the game against St. Louis had Palmer connected with Ellington, is also in the RB’s repertoire.  


Ellington is primed to step into the No. 1 role for 2014 with Mendenhall gone, and  Stepfan Taylor and plodder Jonathan Dwyer are expected to back him up. With neither of the backups posing a substantial threat, Ellington will certainly see more carries this season, but with great power comes great responsibility. There are questions Ellington you should consider before you can pencil him in as an RB1 on your draft board.


What Type of a Player is He?


At 5’9, 203 lbs, Ellington isn’t a big running back that grinds out yards and runs people over. He’s an explosive back who does his best work out in space where he can elude defenders. His quick lateral cutting is one of his best assets, as shown in this video here.




His Role in the Passing Game


Ellington’s receiving ability meshes well with the Cardinals. In 2013, Arizona passed the ball 57 percent of the time, which ranked in the middle of the road but their 422 total rushing attempts ranked in the bottom 15. They aren’t the most pass-happy team in the league, but they do tend to chuck it a little more.


Also, wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are among the best wide receiver tandems in the league and should draw plenty of double teams. The attention they create should clear the way for Ellington on underneath routes against slower linebackers.


Palmer targeted Ellington 57 times last season as part of a crowded group of receivers where Fitzgerald, Floyd, and slot-guy Andre Roberts accounted for 324 of the Cards’ 574 targets. With Roberts now on the Redskins and Ellington seeing more snaps, more opportunities for targets should arise for Ellington this season.


His Workload


Ellington is expected to see around 20-25 carries per game in 2014, which will be a huge undertaking for a guy his size. It’s not so much that Ellington can’t handle being a bell cow, it’s just his smaller frame may lend itself to big hits which lend themselves to injury.


Ellington’s receiving potential can’t be disputed though. He’s an RB1 in PPR (points per reception) leagues in 2014. Ellington averaged 3.8 targets per game last season playing in roughly 30-40 percent of the team’s total snaps. Those numbers could easily double in 2014. Also, with the kind of offense Arizona runs, coupled with a quarterback who always throws for a lot of yards in Palmer, and you have a good forecast for a 60-70 catch, 300-400 yard receiving season for Ellington.


Where are the Touchdowns, Man?


Ellington only found pay dirt three times on the ground in 2013. While some of his red zone ineffectiveness could be blamed on his lack of carries, most of it could be blamed on the Cardinals’ preference to pass the ball into the end zone.


On the ground, Ellington carried the ball 14 times in the red zone, which was good for 66.7 percent of the team’s total red zone carries. His three goal-line carries (from inside the five-yard line) accounted for 100 percent of the team’s goal line carries. Ellington was the only running back to accomplish that feat, and says more about the Cardinals’ passing game than it does about Ellington.


In the receiving game, the Cardinals just didn’t utilize Ellington that much in the red zone. He registered just .33 targets per game in the red zone in 2013, good for just 7.4 percent of total red zone targets. Fitzgerald was Palmer’s favorite in this category, as he accounted for 35 percent of the teams’ total red-zone targets.


The good part about this is that although Ellington didn’t have a lot of opportunities for goal line carries, he didn’t squander the few chances he had. He scored on 2-of-3 goal line touches in 2013, and you just have to hope Arizona finds themselves in more goal-line situations this year.


The Cardinals Philosophy


In offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin’s first year in 2013, the Cardinals turned themselves around dramatically from their disastrous 2012 performance where they trotted up several below average quarterbacks which zapped the fantasy value of nearly every offensive player on the field including Fitzgerald.  


Goodwin erased those bad memories quickly in 2013. The Cardinals found a more reliable quarterback in Carson Palmer, who played an entire season and threw for a respectable 4,274 passing yards despite 22 interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald returned to his pro-bowl form with 954 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, while Michael Floyd broke out 1,041 yards and five touchdowns of his own.


There’s no doubt the Cardinals are a much-improved offense from over a year ago and they have young emerging stars in Ellington and Floyd to go along with a good mix of veterans in Fitzgerald and Palmer.


Final verdict


All the potential is there for Ellington to put together RB1-like numbers in 2013. You’ll just have to monitor his health and examine how much of a toll an increased workload will impact his undersized frame. He’s an high-end RB2, borderline RB1 in 2014. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

16 Wide Receivers in Their Second Year

By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24)
 
It has long been said that the third year tends to be when all of the stars align for NFL receivers and you begin to see them reach their ceiling.  But, that may be shifting to year two.  Many savvy fantasy owners are starting to note that wide receivers playing in their second season in the NFL have an even earlier chance to breakout these days. Those receivers may or may not make much of an impact in their rookie seasons but come their sophomore season, could explode and help carry a fantasy team to a championship. 2013 saw receivers Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon breakout in just their second season just to name a couple. Fantasy owners are expecting a new group of second year wideouts to make names for themselves and help carry their teams to glory in 2014.

Marlon Brown- Baltimore Ravens- Marlon Brown made a name for himself last season becoming a viable target in a weak passing game for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. With defenses keying in on Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown took advantage of his opportunity and ran with it. Hauling in 49 receptions of the 81 thrown his way, Marlon Brown finished his rookie season with 524 yards and seven touchdowns in the 14 games he played. He originally took over for the injured Jacoby Jones and managed to stick around even after Jones returned. Along the way, Brown averaged almost seven fantasy points per game and the addition of Steve Smith may take away a few targets from Brown but Marlon Brown wasn't much of a deep threat anyway but more of a red zone target for Joe Flacco. Fantasy owners should be able to grab Brown late in drafts as he is poised to have a very good sophomore season in 2014.

Robert Woods- Buffalo Bills- In 14 games played in 2013, Robert Woods saw 86 targets and finished with 40 catches for 587 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged over 5.5 fantasy points per game and could have had better numbers if not for an injury that took him out of two games. Woods was starting to gel nicely with fellow rookie quarterback E.J Manuel until an injury derailed Manuel as well. If Manuel can improve just a little in his second year, and defenses game planning for rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods can improve on his rookie numbers and help fantasy owners who grab him a little later in their drafts.

Terrance Williams- Dallas Cowboys-The second year wideout for the Boys is in a great position to improve on his first year in the NFL. With defensive coordinators honing in on Dez Bryant, and the Cowboys defense looking like it may actually be worse than last season, the Cowboys will have to throw the ball a ton and Romo is going to have to look for other receivers besides Dez. This bodes well for now second year wideout Terrance Williams who finished his rookie campaign with 74 targets and 44 receptions for over 700 yards and five scores. He also averaged just under seven fantasy points per game and having almost a full season under his belt, should be a great addition to fantasy rosters in 2014.

Jarrett Boykin- Green Bay Packers- When Randall Cobb went down with an injury early in the season, Cobb owners were left scanning the waiver wire for receiver help. Little did they know they only had to look a little way down the Packers roster to find a very viable replacement. In the 12 games that Boykin played, he had 82 targets and 49 receptions to go with the 681 yards and three touchdowns. He also averaged over seven fantasy points per game and most of that was done without Aaron Rodgers. Fantasy owners should expect better numbers in his second season with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and James Jones in Oakland. 

DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans- The only thing that possibly held back the rookie receiver in 2013 was the shoddy quarterback play. If the quarterback was even somewhat competent, Hopkins could have been a breakout receiver in his first year in the NFL. With a new head coach that likes to throw more than he likes to run, DeAndre Hopkins could very well be the stud wideout that he was projected to be when the Texans drafted him in 2013. He finished his rookie season seeing 93 targets and 52 catches for over 800 yards with two touchdowns. He averaged just under six fantasy points per game and fantasy owners should expect those numbers to increase in what is expected to be a pass heavy offense.

Da'Rick Rogers- Indianapolis Colts- 2013 saw a small sample size of what Da'Rick Rogers can do seeing how he only played in the final four games of the season. In the four games he did play, he saw 23 targets and hauled in 14 balls. He had almost 200 yards receiving with two touchdowns and averaged just under eight fantasy points per game. With the Colts expecting to throw the ball all over the field, Rogers could have more of a role going forward in his second season with the Colts.

Ace Sanders- Jacksonville Jaguars- Fantasy owners don't really have much of a reason to draft Ace Sanders based on his 2013 numbers. Sanders played in all but one game in his rookie season and only managed to average under four fantasy points per game but did see 85 targets and hauled in 51 of them for almost 500 yards and a touchdown. With a competent quarterback under center in 2014, Ace Sanders could be a secret weapon for fantasy owners in his second year in.

Cordarrelle Patterson- Minnesota Vikings- Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to make the most noise out of all the second year wideouts as far as fantasy owners are concerned. Some drafts have him going very early and fantasy owners are expecting Josh Gordon like leaps and bounds in 2014. The second year receiver played in all 16 games in his rookie year and managed to turn it up towards the end of the season. He finished with 78 targets and 45 receptions for 469 yards and four scores. He was also valuable in leagues where owners got points for return yards. Figuring to be a more integral part of the Vikings passing game in his second season, fantasy owners should expect quite the uptick in his 6.5 fantasy points per game. 

Aaron Dobson- New England Patriots- The Patriots will need second year wideout Aaron Dobson to improve on his rookie numbers if they want to make a deep playoff run in 2014. An injury cut Dobson's rookie campaign a little short and allowed him to play in only 11 games where he had 74 targets with a very mediocre receiving corps. Dobson did manage to record over 500 yards through the air with four touchdowns and averaged almost seven fantasy points per game. Fantasy owners are expecting Aaron Dobson to take a step forward in his second season with the Patriots and become the deep threat the Patriots and Tom Brady desperately need.

Kenbrell Thompkins- New England Patriots- Another second year wideout for the Patriots, Kenbrell Thompkins is expected to take another step in the Patriots offense. He also played in 11 games like fellow rookie Aaron Dobson and recorded 32 receptions on 70 targets. Thompkins had slightly less yards than his teammate Aaron Dobson with 466 yards with the same amount of touchdowns. He also averaged almost the same amount of fantasy points per game with 6.4. Both second year receivers are expected to make the Patriots offense better in 2014.

Kenny Stills- New Orleans Saints- The second year wide receiver for Drew Brees is expected to take a major step forward in 2014. Playing in all 16 games for the Saints in his rookie season, Stills finished with 51 targets and 32 catches for 641 yards and five touchdowns. He also averaged just under six fantasy points per game and is expected to have an expanded role in his sophomore season.

Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles- Even though the second year tight end isn't technically a wide receiver, he is expected to play an even bigger role in his second season for the Eagles. He finished his rookie season with 56 targets hauling in 36 of them for 469 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged under five fantasy points per game and should see more balls thrown his way than fellow tight end Brent Celek making Zach Ertz a popular pick among fantasy owners waiting on a tight end in their drafts. Being a focal point in a Chip Kelly offense doesn't hurt either.

Markus Wheaton- Pittsburgh Steelers- In his second season with the Steelers, Markus Wheaton is expected to become more involved in the offense and compliment Antonio Brown now that Emmanuel Sanders is catching passes from Peyton Manning in Denver. The second year wideout didn't see much action in his rookie season where he only played in five games and saw 13 targets. In a pass first offense that Todd Haley likes to employ, fantasy owners can expect Markus Wheaton to improve on those numbers based upon being he needs to take the next step forward for the Steelers to make strides in the AFC. 

Keenan Allen- San Diego Chargers- Coming off his rookie of the year 2013, Keenan Allen isn't the quintessential breakout star in his second season, but fantasy owners should expect for him to improve on the 105 targets and 71 receptions for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns he posted in 2013. He also averaged double digit fantasy points per game in only his first year in the NFL and with a full season under his belt, should have another productive fantasy season in his sophomore year.

Tavon Austin- St.Louis Rams- Was there a more disappointing rookie in 2013 than Tavon Austin? All the hype Jeff Fisher gave his rookie receiver heading into the 2013 season was for naught. Austin had a couple of games where he made fantasy owners think it was time for him to breakout but Austin just couldn't sustain the numbers on a consistent basis. He played in 13 games and saw 69 targets and caught 40 of them for over 400 yards with four touchdowns. He averaged just under seven fantasy points per game and is expected to have a bigger role in his second season but it still remains a question as to how the Rams actually intend to use him. 

Justin Hunter- Tennessee Titans- The second year wideout for the Titans didn't post numbers that would make fantasy owners look twice at him heading into 2014 but Justin Hunter could become an important piece for the Titans and Jake Locker in 2014. With defenses having to watch Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter could reap the benefits of being a relatively unknown in his second year in. His rookie numbers saw him see only 42 targets in the 13 games he played and managed only 18 receptions for 354 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 4.6 fantasy points per game and with an expanded role in the offense in his second year, Justin Hunter could position himself as quite a sleeper in 2014.