Fake Football, Real Questions (November 16th Edition)
November 16, 2013 | Staffy Stafferton
Dez Bryant is averaging three catches over his last three games, and has a back injury that required an epidural. You worried?
Dez was my pick for second half MVP three weeks ago, and while I’m no longer foolish enough to think he can outpace Calvin Johnson the rest of the way, I’m not at all worried about his recent performance. The back injury is a non-story. Bryant isn’t concerned about it, the Cowboys aren’t concerned about it, and if he was hurting that badly, he wouldn’t have been on the field for 43 of the Cowboys 46 offensive snaps in Week 10. Even after consecutive clunkers, Bryant has still scored the sixth most fantasy points at WR this season. With the miserable secondaries of the Giants, Raiders, Bears, Packers, and Redskins on tap after the bye, there’s no conceivable way Dez falls short of top five numbers as we come down the home stretch.
I’m not, because prior to week 10, he was still scoring TDs. This is to be expected, as Dez is the top weapon in Dallas and defenses are going to try to take him away. When it’s a solid defense, he’ll become even less of a factor (like he was against the Saints). Overall, he’s going to be fine and you have to play him.
I still value Dez as a top 10 WR, but not a top five like he has been previously. Teams have figured out how to contain Dez by bracketing him with a safety and double team pressing him in the red zone. I’m not worried about his back injury, but I am worried about Terrance Williams being able to keep defenses honest on the other side. There is no way you can bench Dez, but in redraft leagues I would not be opposed to trade him for guys like Brandon Marshall, AJ Green, or Andre Johnson. Tony Romo needs to get through his stubborn head that Dez is still open even when he isn’t.
Until a doctor sends him in for a backiotomy, I’m not worried. The bye week should do Dez some good and even if he’s only 90%, he should still be an elite red zone threat ala the hobbled Jimmy Graham.
Pick one WR rest of season: Riley Cooper, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Percy Harvin
I’ll gamble on Harvin. I’m not completely discounting this Riley Cooper-Nick Foles thing, but Cooper’s 8:5 TD:Reception ratio over the last two weeks is impossible to sustain (even against NFC East opponents). Outside of Colston’s big game against the Cowboys (who have a historically bad pass defense), he has spent the season looking finished from a physical standpoint. And Roddy White? Unbelievably, Harvin has a shot to make a significant fantasy contribution this season before he does. A popular misconception is that Seattle features a low yield passing game for fantasy purposes, but Russell Wilson has thrown nine TD passes in his last four games – there’s plenty of love to go around. Wilson’s main slot receiver the last two weeks has been Doug Baldwin, who’s run 66% of his routes from the slot and garnered a solid 18 targets in that time. Harvin will supplant Baldwin as Seattle’s slot receiver, and while I like Baldwin just fine, he’s averaged 4.8 yards after catch this season. Last season Harvin led the league in that department at 8.7 YAC. As long as he’s healthy, the opportunity will exist for Harvin to post WR1 numbers in Seattle.
Rowdy Roddy. His Week 11 match-up with Darrelle Revis isn’t ideal, but after that his schedule is awesome. The Falcons could shut him down with no chance at the playoffs, but as long as he’s out there, he’s going to get tons of targets.
I would go with Percy Harvin here. Percy has a bye next week, which hurts him in his overall value compared to the other guys. However, Harvin is the only true difference maker out of this group of wide receivers in my opinion. Cooper is very hot right now, but I don’t expect his current pace to continue. Colston took advantage of a very porous Dallas secondary last week and won’t have as easy of matchups on deck. It is very hard to trust Roddy even though he is back close to 100 percent. The Falcons are just in total shambles right now.
Roddy White has been stringing us along all season and I can’t trust him until he puts up a vintage performance. For that reason and out of spite for Roddy submarining one of my most important teams, I’ll take Riley Cooper. He’s a severe regression candidate in terms of scoring touchdowns, but his chemistry with Nick Foles cannot be denied. With word from Chip Kelly that Nick Foles will remain the starter even after Michael Vick is cleared to play, I’ll roll the dice with Riley for the fake season’s final weeks.
Andre Brown, fresh off a 30-115-1 debut, will be about your ____ ranked RB going forward.
Andre Brown is late-season bread from heaven for fantasy owners. I’ll be slotting him in the 12-15 range at RB until his peg leg inevitably gives out. While game flow is unlikely to allow for 30 carries each week, Brown’s mammoth workload in his first game of the season tells us everything we need to know about the pecking order in the NY backfield. According to the stats at numberFire, Brown was the most efficient running back in the NFL last year, so we have no reason to expect him to fall on his face in the lead back role. The only scary match-up left for the G-Men is Seattle in Week 14, but otherwise his upcoming games against the Packers, Cowboys, Redskins, Chargers, and Lions range from excellent to winnable. Congrats if you stashed him.
I’d say 15 or so, if not a little higher. That’s assuming he’s healthy and the Giants other RBs who have been mostly awful, stay mostly awful. Brown’s role and production is beyond ideal, and considering Eli’s struggles this year, you know Brown is going to get force fed moving forward. Let’s just hope that leg holds up.
He is top 20 for me and an every week play as long as he stays healthy (big issue with him). David Wilson is done for the year, Jacobs is hurt and not very good, and Hillis is nothing but a plodder. 20 plus carries a game and a few catches are to be expected each week he starts. The Giants simply have no one else with any talent to take away touches. I expect his workload to be similar to what Eddie Lacy has been seeing in Green Bay lately.
Brown will be in the 14-17 range among running backs for me. He’s in a tier with guys like Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Andre Ellington, and Le’Veon Bell. That’s pretty good company, really. Brown’s injury history is concerning, but the Giants really don’t have any other legitimate options in their backfield. A guaranteed 15+ carries per game holds a lot of value in today’s fantasy environment.
Every year, a player comes out of nowhere in the final weeks to swing championships for fantasy owners. Who’s that guy this year?
Fantasy lotto tickets usually come in the form of running backs (and sometimes wide receivers), but I’ll take the road less traveled. If you have a free bench spot, stash Chargers TE Ladarius Green. He’ll need an Antonio Gates injury of course, but stepping in for an injured starter is a prerequisite for any player who “comes out of nowhere” this time of year. It may have taken awhile, but if last week is any indication, the Chargers finally seem to be realizing that dullards like Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal won’t get it done in the passing game. Green played a season high 22 snaps in Week 10 and responded with a 25 yard reception. The only other time he was targeted, he had a 23 yard catch called back due to holding penalty at the line of scrimmage. It’s worth noting that six of Green’s seven grabs this year have now been of the 20+ yard variety. Green’s combination of size (6’6”, 248 lbs.), speed (4.45 forty time) and soft hands (77.8% catch rate) will cause all sorts of mismatches if he’s granted an opportunity. If he somehow gets the SD TE job to himself in the coming weeks, Green instantly becomes a borderline top 5 option at a position with very few sure things.
This will probably be a popular choice, but I am going with Dennis Johnson from the Texans. Ben Tate has four cracked ribs and once the Texans are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they may give him a rest. Also, Ben Tate is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the year and is looking for a big pay day and starting job elsewhere. Why wouldn’t the Texans give a lead role to their young backup RB to see if he can be the backup of the future behind Foster? Johnson will be a difference maker and should be stashed in all leagues!
He didn’t come out of nowhere, per se, but T.Y. Hilton is going to swing a lot of fantasy leagues this year relative to his preseason value. The injury to Reggie Wayne opened up a huge opportunity for Hilton and he’s seizing it before our eyes. The Colts are jockeying for a high playoff seed and with their ineptitude in the running game, Luck should continue to lean on Hilton and reward his fantasy owners in a big way.