Week 9 Risers and Fallers
November 12, 2015 | Chet
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It’s time to take a dive back into the rising and falling seas of fantasy football production. Here’s a quick overview of some guys on the uptick or the down-slope of fake football’s stock watch in accordance with their recent performance and situations. If you have any questions, comments, concerns or otherwise, feel free to yell at me in the comments section below or send me words on Twitter!
The ownership percentages are a median between Yahoo! and ESPN own%.
Darren McFadden (91%) turned in another quality game, rushing 27 times for 117 yards. He is now the no. 6 fantasy back since taking bell cow status in the Dallas Cowboys’ backfield, averaging 132 total yards over the last 3 weeks while taking 70%, 67% and 100% of Dallas’ RB carries. There’s only one more week of this offense running through Matt Cassell before Tony Romo comes back and puts another jolt into the team. While simply being part of a higher-scoring team will help Run DMC’s value, so will his involvement in the passing game (21 catches in volatile playing time this season) and goal line carries (8 red zone carries in the last three games). If Tampa Bay’s top-10 DVOA Rush D manages to stuff him this week, it should be a perfect Buy Low opportunity. Just don’t get mad at me if he happens to get himself injured between now and then.
Michael Crabtree (84.9%) scored in his third straight game, compiling 32 targets, 20 receptions, 273 yards and 4 scores since Oakland’s Bye Week. Crabtree is slowly pulling away from rookie sensation Amari Cooper in the target category (80-72) and is tied for 5th in the NFL in catches of 20+ yards. I doubt Amari’s Week 9 drops will force Derek Carr to look away from the explosive rook, but if they did then that means Crabtree could see even more action in this pass-heavy offense. If Latavius Murray misses the game against Minnesota, the Raiders may be forced to toss the ball more frequently, which would presumably help Michael more often than deep threat Amari. Crabby remains a WR2 as long as this offense keeps clicking.
Antonio Andrews’ (60.9%) carry totals over the last five games: 7, 9, 10, 16, and 19. His 20 touches against New Orleans were a career high, and the 111 total yards were also the most he’s ever had. The only other Week 9 running back in what has been a confusing RBBC up until this point was Dexter McCluster who managed 10 touches for 47 yards and a lost fumble. Dexter was out of practice Wednesday, which would clear the field of running backs if David Cobb weren’t just activated off IR yesterday. Cobb will be a guy we all need to keep an eye on, but it would be surprising if Andrews gets dragged off the field after his very positive outing last week.
Tyrod Taylor (52.6%) reset himself as a streaming option with a decent floor in his first game back from injury by rushing for 40+ yards, making it 4 out of his 6 games this season with that mark. Attempting just 12 passes and completing 11 of them, Tyrod only managed 181 yards in a game that featured 3 rushing scores from Buffalo’s running backs en route to a 33-17 beat-down of Miami. Thursday night’s game against the Jets will be sure to feature much more of Taylor chucking the ball around, being that NYJ’s rush defense is no. 1 in the league according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. If that’s not the type of matchup you would like to attack then consider Week 11 when Buffalo will take on New England who, in Week 2, forced Taylor to take to the air in a shootout which led to his best fantasy game of the season.
Devin Funchess (12.3%) is alive? The Panthers have wide receivers? Well, at least for one week. The rookie wideout went into Week 9 with 90 yards on 7 catches and left the game almost doubling the yardage (71) and scoring for the first time in his young career. A Packers secondary which has proven to be somewhat easy to pass on might not be the best mile marker for WR greatness, but with a receiving corps featuring Ted Ginn and Corey Brown, it might at least buy Funchess a little more playing time. Looking forward in your leagues in which the playoffs are practically a guarantee, the rookie could be a very good stash in case he does start getting more snaps; Carolina’s fantasy playoff schedule goes Saints (Wk 13), Falcons (Wk 14), Giants (Wk 15), and Falcons (Wk 16).
Eddie Lacy (97.4%) has been a bottomless pit of fantasy anguish and frustration since his Week 2 three rush, 9 yard performance. After fumbling with 5 minutes left in the first half, Big Eddie received one more touch for the rest of the game, finishing with 5 rushes for 10 yards. If we excuse Week 1 – possibly the only time he’s been fully healthy this season – Lacy has rushed 64 times for 222 yards, or 3.5 Yards Per Carry. That’s over the span of seven games. McCarthy has confirmed that James Starks will be the feature back for the immediate future and possibly the rest of the year. It’s been hard to bench your 1st round pick, but keep him on your bench for the time being. Starks is still on quite a few waiver wires, too. Make sure he’s not on yours.
Melvin Gordon (84.2%) rushed 11 times for a measly 31 yards on Monday night and now has at least 14 touches in seven games this year. If we excuse his two very low usage games we get an average stat line that looks like this:
14 carries, 51 yards (3.6 YPC) 3 catches, 17 yards
For a team that’s averaging 414 yards/game (4th in the league) you would expect the lead running back to cash in a little better than that. Even a team that is 2-7 doesn’t seem to want to get their rookie more involved over their 5’8” 30 year old pass catching back. Gordon is hardly even worth a Flex play at this point.
Julius Thomas (66.5%) is part of a surprisingly flourishing Jaguars passing attack, yet he is not a part of it at all. On a team with two top-10 fantasy wide receivers (Robinson, Hurns), you would think that the former Broncos tight end is not getting any looks. That’s simply not the case, as Orange Julius has 26 targets over the last three weeks, turning that action into 11 catches for 96 yards and one score. He went 3-14-0 on 8 targets against the Jets last week. Maybe the biggest red flag about his role with his team is his 1 red zone target over the last month; Blake Bortles has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns over that same month. Still a streaming option for most weeks, Week 10 won’t be one of them as Baltimore has been very stout against tight ends while being absolutely smoked by opposing wide receivers.
Heath Miller (47%) entered the game against the Raiders with possibly the best tight end matchup of the week and disappointed all of us that started him. On six targets he managed three catches for 32 yards. Running over 50 pass routes and staying back to pass block only once, it would be expected that one of Big Ben’s favorite targets would have eaten against what is the worst defense in fantasy at stopping the tight end. The bad news will continue this week as Landry Jones will be the one taking the ball from behind center. In Heath’s four games without Roethlisberger he has received 8 targets for 52 yards and zero scores. And yes, that is all four games combined. No use in rostering the old man anymore.
Chris Thompson (9%) had a game script written in ink that would be sure to bode well for the pass catching running back. The game went pretty much exactly as planned and his fantasy points didn’t reflect it at all. Matt Jones played 42% of the snaps and was benched after fumbling, opening the door for Thompson to get his touches in. Playing from behind and having the guy in front of him being benched led to four targets and two catches for 21 yards. He is the very poor man’s CJ Spiller. And if you haven’t noticed, Spiller has barely tipped the scale all season. Washington’s backfield will continue to be unusable.