Fake Football, Real Questions (October 12th Edition) October 12, 2013  |  Chet


Give us one call you made in the preseason you’d like to have back.

 

Phil TWR

Zach Sudfeld played himself out of a job after only 3 pass targets in New England, foiling my ill fated Roch Gronkfeld strategy. Sadly, that wasn’t even my worst call of the preseason. Here are some actual words I wrote about Dwayne Bowe back on August 1st: “We know the Chiefs will be passing the ball a ton under Andy Reid, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Bowe ends up the most targeted WR in the league this side of Brandon Marshall. The combination of Bowe’s talent, Smith’s efficiency, and Reid’s offense has me willing to take the leap. Bowe will join the ranks of the WR1′s this season.” Um, sorry?

 

Kevin Roberts

I’ll give you two for one. I told everyone to have faith in RG3 and Gronk. Granted, RG3 has actually been solid as far as fantasy numbers, but he clearly is not completely right. And as we’ve seen, it’s been 5 weeks and Gronkowski still hasn’t played.

 

Greg Smith

In our staff predictions, I pegged Colin Kaepernick as my fantasy MVP. After he lit the league on fire last season, I expected another leap forward, despite the loss of Michael Crabtree. I couldn’t have been more wrong at this point. Kaepernick is hardly running at all and aside from an excellent aerial display in Week 1, his passing production has been uninspiring. I expect Kaepernick will improve going forward, but he needs to put in a lot of work to finish as a top-10 quarterback, let alone as the fantasy MVP.

 

Adam Cook

That Danny Amendola would lead the NFL in receptions this year. I was so obsessed with a talented slot guy going into the Wes Welker role that I kept overlooking the fact that the dude is made of paper. I still think he may lead the NFL in receptions per game. Am I allowed to simply modify my prediction?

 

Jason Willan

I’m ashamed to admit that I proclaimed Brandon Weeden a sleeper quarterback. I didn’t expect him to be a fantasy stud by any means, but I thought he would be a solid backup that you might even play a few times when the match-up was right. A new offense under Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner seemed like just the thing to turn around Weeden’s young career, and his performance in the preseason appeared to suggest that brighter days were ahead. Then he played poorly, got hurt, lost his starting job, and only got it back because of an injury to Brian Hoyer. Even as Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon have flourished in Cleveland’s offense, Weeden remains practically unownable except in the deepest of leagues.

 

A pair of TD’s masked an otherwise lethargic week 5 performance for Ray Rice (2.7 YPA, Fumble Lost). How do you see Rice performing rest of season? Buy, sell, or hold?

 

Phil TWR

As Arian Foster limped his way through the preseason, many analysts were quick to throw dirt on his grave, claiming a heavy workload in recent years would lead to a break down. Foster has touched the ball 1,305 times since 2009 – a huge number to be certain. But in that same span, Ray Rice accumulated a whopping 1,630 total touches (combined rushing attempts and receptions, playoffs included). How did Rice earn a pass from the break down police? It shouldn’t surprise anyone he suffered a non-contact injury, and looks done as an elite runner. His PFF elusive rating (which gauges a runner’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers) clocks in at 10.7. For context, Benjarvus Green-Ellis is nipping at his heels with a 9.8. Thankfully, I read Justin Bonnema’s article and managed to avoid Rice entirely this year, but if I did own him, I’d float his name in trade offers immediately. Fresh off a big game, you should still get top dollar in return. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you sell Rice at any cost. He should net you a top 10 RB or WR in any deal. I just want you to prepare for the possibility Rice has entered the dreaded stage of running back decline where he’s completely lost it, and it’s never coming back (better known as the Larry Johnson phase).

 

Kevin Roberts

Rice will be fine and I’ll hold. He’s struggling, but the Ravens did add help to their o-line with Eugene Monroe and the touchdowns are at least encouraging. It should also be noted that Rice has had some brutal match-ups to start the year, and also got nicked up (hip). Last week Baltimore finally actually fed him the ball. As long as that continues, his talent and role suggests he’ll be back to top-10 status before long.

 

Greg Smith

The 2.7 YPA is concerning, but Rice’s two scores are exactly the reason why you should buy or hold onto him. The running back position in general is a nightmare right now and fantasy owners should be celebrating and coveting a feature back like Rice who gets goal line work.

 

Adam Cook

I would hold Ray Rice. The main reason is that I don’t think you can get a solid return in a trade right now. Everyone is worried about his declining speed and explosiveness along with his semi-injured hip. Now if you can get a Dez Bryant, C.J. Spiller, or Jimmy Graham type of player, then I feel like you have to pull the trigger.

 

Jason Willan

I’m buying Ray Rice and in fact just traded for him in one of my leagues. The yards-per-carry number wasn’t pretty, but the encouraging thing to me about Week 5 was that Baltimore talked ahead of the game about getting Rice more involved in the offense, and then followed through by giving him 33 touches (27 carries and six receptions). I think the Ravens will continue to feature Rice going forward, and considering he has a career average of 4.5 yards per carry and averaged 4.4 yards just last season, a high volume of touches will ultimately generate better yardage totals. The fact that Rice is a top-10 pass catcher at his position also elevates his value, particularly in PPR leagues.

 

Justin Blackmon came out of the gates red hot with 5 receptions, 136 yards and a TD. Do you trust Blackmon as a WR2 going forward, or was his big game a product of the match-up with a struggling Rams defense?

 

Phil TWR

Don’t take this as any type of endorsement of the Rams defense, but I’m willing to give Blackmon most of the credit for his smashing 2013 debut. What we witnessed over the final 7 games of 2012 was a full fledged breakout from a blue chip talent (per game averages of 5.4 catches, 10.4 targets, 88 rec yards, and . 57 TDs). Going forward, Blackmon has the switch to Chad Henne and endless garbage time opportunity to buoy his fantasy value. I would much rather have Blackmon’s upside than guys like Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, and Stevie Johnson, all of whom currently rank ahead of Blackmon in Fantasy Pros Rest of Season ECR Rankings. You could do worse for your WR2.

 

Kevin Roberts

Blackmon is actually pretty good at taking a nothing play and making it look magical, so there will be room for games like these in the future. However, his day was made possible by that one big touchdown and he still has to deal with the likes of Blaine Gabbert and/or Chad Henne. He’ll be a hit or miss WR3 all year.

 

Greg Smith

The match-up was certainly helpful, but Blackmon should be useful in future contests as well. The Jags stink and their penchant for giving up a lot of points will lead to plenty of junk time production for Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. Beware match-ups against teams with good pass rushers, though. Blackmon and Shorts won’t be able to put up points if their QB, be it Henne or Gabbert, is on his back.

 

Adam Cook

Blackmon was blessed with a good match-up against the Rams coming off his 4 game suspension and during the game he was also blessed with a Blaine Gabbert injury that forced Henne into the starting lineup. Harder match-ups will be balanced by an improvement at the quarterback position. I wouldn’t say Blackmon is a WR2, but definitely a strong WR3. Also working in Blackmon’s favor is that the Jaguars are destined to see a lot of garbage time in the 2nd half of games. Those points are just as nice!

 

Jason Willan

I don’t consider Blackmon a WR2, but he should be a nice WR3 or flex play over the balance of the season. Jacksonville will likely be playing catch up a lot this year, meaning Blackmon and Cecil Shorts should see a high volume of targets on a regular basis. Over his last five games dating back to last season, Blackmon has averaged almost 11.5 targets per week. While last week marked only his second career game with triple-digit receiving yards, his level of involvement in the passing game of a team that should be throwing the ball a lot makes Blackmon a fantasy asset moving forward.

 

Percy Harvin ramped up his rehab last week, and has now resumed running. With no timetable for return, are you stashing Harvin or is he a waste of a valuable bench spot (12 team league, 5 bench spots)?

 

Phil TWR

Given those parameters, I’d be stashing Percy Harvin. While it’s too early to predict what week Harvin will return (or if he’ll even return at all), the signs are at least encouraging. The fact that he’s running 8 weeks after surgery puts him slightly ahead of schedule. When you combine that piece of good news with reports that he’s “wowed his surgeon” with his recovery, it’s officially time to raise an eye brow. Pete Carroll has all but ruled out week 7 for Harvin’s return (that was never realistic anyway), but there’s still an outside chance he sees the field by week 9 or 10. Do you know of any other potential WR1’s hanging out on your waiver wire? Didn’t think so. Adding a talent like Harvin’s to your roster for free this late in the season could be the catalyst that propels your team to a championship.

 

Kevin Roberts

It all depends on how bad you need WR help and who is currently in those bench spots. The good news is the waiver wire is pretty thin at the moment, so it’s not like there are a ton of other guys begging to be picked up. Just make sure you’re not dropping a solid RB or an already stable WR to add a still unhealthy WR that is in a run-first offense, and has a history of injuries.

 

Greg Smith

Don’t waste the roster spot. Stories about rehab tend to be overly optimistic. Harvin may be able to run, but can he make sharp cuts? Can he jump? Can his body absorb contact? We don’t have the answers to these questions. Meanwhile, there are plenty of NFL wide receivers who have tangible fantasy value right now. Use your resources on one of those players and let someone else in your league tie up their bench with Harvin.

 

Adam Cook

It will be hard to stash Harvin through the bye week period, but if you can cover the byes then I would go ahead and stash him. There aren’t many heavy impact WR2’s sitting on the waiver wire and Harvin has a good amount of upside. He was a borderline top 10 wide receiver back in April, so I see no reason why he can’t reach top 20 status upon return. It’s not like Golden Tate or Sidney Rice have lit the world on fire in Harvin’s absence to take over his top WR role in Seattle.

 

Jason Willan

Havin’s upside makes him well worth a bench spot in most 12-team leagues, particularly with the news that he might be returning to the field sooner than originally projected. This is a guy that had 773 total yards and four combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in less than 9 full games last season, and that was with Christian Ponder as his quarterback. Depending on how quickly he gets back on the field, Harvin can be a difference maker for fantasy owners, and that potential makes him worth a roster spot ahead of a lot of third-string wide receivers and backup running backs that tend to litter the benches of so many fantasy teams.

 

Bonus question: Are you laying the 26 points with the Broncos this week?

 

Phil TWR

The Broncos have no pass rush, and no reason to get up for this game. Chad Henne is not as pathetic as Blaine Gabbert, and has two solid receiving options to target in garbage time. 26 is a huge number. I won’t be betting this game, but the Jags are the right side.

 

Kevin Roberts

Sure, why not? The Colts beat the Jags by 34 and the Chiefs beat them by 26. I’m sure the Broncos can beat them by 26 as well.

 

Greg Smith

Give me the points. While I don’t doubt the Broncos will score a ton of points in this game, Henne and the Jags should be able to score their fair share too. Broncos 52, Jags 27.

 

Adam Cook

The safe money says take the points, but I will take the Broncos to cover. Denver is a tough place to play and Peyton doesn’t have it in his blood to take any team lightly.

 

Jason Willan

I’m laying the points. Jacksonville should be able to move the ball on the Broncos, particularly in garbage time, but Denver is going to score early and often.

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