THE WIRE TAP: WEEK 8
October 25, 2016 | Scott Cedar
I don’t exactly love living in Connecticut. Not much to do. Bad weather. Obnoxious Patriots fans. The only thing I really enjoy about my adopted home state is the fall, when the leaves change. New England foliage absolutely lives up to the hype. Unfortunately, after a particularly windy weekend knocked most of the leaves to the ground, I’ll be staring at sticks the rest of the year.
That’s a particularly apt description of the fantasy landscape today, as half of the league is on bye over the next 3 weeks (including 6 byes each in Week 8 and Week 9). Where your roster was once a beautiful and abundant land flowing with milk and honey, over the next 3 weeks it may look like a barren wasteland. You’re going to be stuck filling your lineup with some pretty bad hombres, but we’re here to help. As always, the focus is on players owned in under 40% of Yahoo or ESPN leagues, presented roughly in order of preference.
PAY THE IRON PRICE
(Pry these players from your leaguemates’ cold, dead hands. Figuratively.)
Ty Montgomery (62% Yahoo, 20% ESPN)
After a full calendar year bumbling around on offense, it looks like the Packers finally found something that works. Over the last 2 weeks, Montgomery has racked up targets (25) and carries (12) working primarily out of the backfield in a Theo Riddick-type role. He’s been incredibly efficient as a receiver, giving Rodgers an easy outlet on the all-too-often occurrence when receivers aren’t getting open downfield. The volume should come down a little (Rodgers threw 56 times on Thursday), and Montgomery’s ill-fated goal line carry won’t be a regular occurrence, but his role gives him a solid every week floor with tremendous upside.
Mike Gillislee (51% Yahoo, 6 % ESPN)
With 4 wins in a row and the league’s best point differential, the Ryan brothers were looking like geniuses. Then they went all Wile-E-Coyote and made LeSean McCoy active on Sunday, where he ran terribly before re-aggravating his hamstring injury (as everyone predicted). Rex apparently hasn’t learned his lesson, but I expect McCoy to miss at least this week.
In his place, Mike Gillislee is an intriguing option. He has 425 yards on 75 career carries (5.7 YPC) and has shown big play ability (TDs of 60, 50, 44, 19 and 18 yards). He’ll get plenty of volume, as McCoy had the 10th most rushing attempts in the league, and the only other options are Jonathan Williams (8 carries for 23 yards on the year) and Reggie Bush (7 carries for 6 yards). The upcoming schedule isn’t great—vs. New England (allowing the 7th fewest YPC), @ Seattle (2nd fewest), bye—but the opportunity is hard to beat.
Jacquizz Rodgers (73% Yahoo, ESPN 35%)
Doug Martin suffered a setback with his hamstring injury while the Buccaneers were on bye, leaving Rodgers to once again carry the load. He’s going to die at this pace (56 carries over his last 2 games), but enjoy it while it lasts. Dirk Koetter is committed to running the ball, and while Rodgers isn’t a great talent, his volume makes him a low-end RB1 as long as Martin remains out. After gashing the 49ers’ on Sunday, ‘Quizz gets Oakland (allowing 4.7 YPC, 7th most in the league) next.
Check Your Wire (players owned in <75% of leagues): Jay Ajayi is the obvious top priority wherever he’s available… Michael Thomas balled out again with 13-10-130-0 (targets-catches-yards-touchdowns), his 4th straight game with double-digit points… Donte Moncrief is at the end of his projected 4-6 week absence. With Andrew Luck balling, Moncrief has league-winning upside… I’m a John Brown apologist, and if you saw Sunday night’s game: (1) that sucks; (2) you know no one stepped up in his absence… Until Dion Lewis returns, James White is an every-week RB2. Sunday was a Blount game, but White still managed a touchdown… Tyler Eifert finally made it back to the field; limited action, but expect his workload to increase.
PRETTY-AY, PRETT-AY, PRETT-AY GOOD
(Should be owned in 10- and 12-team leagues, whether by you or someone else.)
Devontae Booker (35% Yahoo, 33% ESPN)
C.J. Anderson and Booker are officially 1A and 1B. The backs split snaps and touches while running all over the Texans, and as that game showed, each can have value in Kubiak’s run-heavy scheme. Expect Booker to get ~12-15 touches as long as Denver is playing from in front; when they’re losing (like last week), CJA may get more work as the better pass protector. If Anderson gets hurt, Booker could be a league winner.
Matt Asiata (21% Yahoo, 26% ESPN)
If you love Jerick McKinnon (and who wouldn’t love this guy?), then you hate, hate Matt Asiata. He’s like the sidler in that Seinfeld episode; every time you think McKinnon’s going to go off, Asiata comes out of nowhere to get in the way. In truth, they’ve both struggled, ranking 33rd (Asiata) and 34th (McKinnon) out of 37 in YPC (Adrian Peterson was also struggling before getting hurt—good job, good effort, Vikings o-line).
So why Asiata? McKinnon left Sunday’s game twice with an ankle injury and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he misses Week 8. Asiata actually ran okay against the Eagles (12 carries, 55 yards) and was heavily involved in the passing game (“involved” being the key word—8 targets, 6 catches, but just 25 yards). With Ronnie Hillman the other competition if McKinnon can’t go, Asiata would be an RB2 play against Chicago this week.
Davante Adams (19% Yahoo, 18% ESPN)
There’s an old saying in Tennessee: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.” So what to make of Davante Adams?
I think 16 targets against the Bears was an anomaly. In his prior 2 games, he had just 8 and 3 targets. Still, Nelson was invisible on Thursday and has been touchdown dependent all year (no more than 6 catches or 101 yards in any game this year). Cobb’s raw numbers look OK, but he also dropped 2 touchdowns against the Bears and has fallen from an elite slot receiver in 2014 to just pretty good. Meanwhile, I don’t love Adams, but he’s making plays (5 TDs, 12.5 YPR) and his 8.14 yards per target is simultaneously mediocre (42nd among receivers) and best on the Packers. I’m begrudgingly picking up Adams as the Packers have favorable matchups over the next 4 weeks, but I’ll never feel good about starting him.
Jack Doyle (31% Yahoo, 15% ESPN)
I talked about Doyle last week. It went to plan on Sunday: Luck targeted T.Y. Hilton 12 times, Doyle 10, and no one else more than 5 times. Doyle continued his solid play, with 9 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Robert Kelley (1% Yahoo, 1% ESPN)
Chris Thompson (12% Yahoo, 14% ESPN)
Matt Jones had a fumbling problem last year. He also had a bad-at-football problem last year. Both reared their ugly heads on Sunday, as he fumbled twice while running for just 27 yards on 10 carries. Washington pivoted to Thompson (12 carries for 73 yards on the ground, 7-7-40-0 in the air) and Kelley (4 carries for 15 yards). Gruden expressed frustration with Jones, and if Washington moves away from him, I’d guess Kelley gets a plurality of the carries while Thompson takes the passing down work and some rushing. I’d take Kelley first in standard, Thompson first in PPR, but both would have value.
Knile Davis (36% Yahoo, 35% ESPN)
If I was unexcited about Adams, I’m really disinterested in his new teammate, Knile Davis. Unfortunately, Eddie Lacy is on IR, James Starks is out another month, and Don Jackson had a shorter 15 minutes of fame than Ken Bone. I wouldn’t expect much—Davis had a few nice volume-driven games in 2014 when Jamaal Charles was hurt, but has never proven efficient or reliable—but he should be more involved going forward after joining Green Bay on a short week.
Cameron Brate (31% Yahoo, 31% ESPN)
I really liked Brate’s opportunity with Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Vincent Jackson out of the picture, but he has just 3 targets in each of the last 2 games. Roll him out one last time against Oakland (allowing the 6th most points per game to tight ends), and if it doesn’t work, you can tweet mean things to me (@scedar015).
Vernon Davis (23% Yahoo, 28% ESPN)
Another begrudging recommendation—Davis is old and slow, but he dominated playing time (97% of Washington’s snaps) while scoring 11 and 7.90 points in the 2 games Jordan Reed missed. He caught all 6 of his targets on Sunday for 79 yards, and gets a good matchup (@ Cincinnati, allowing 7th most points to tight ends) next before a Week 9 bye.
Dion Lewis (27% Yahoo, 28% ESPN)
If you’re sitting at 7-0 or 6-1 and comfortably in the playoffs, Lewis’s social media activity should be very interesting to you.
Check Your Wire (players owned in <75% of leagues): Travis Benjamin played only 61% of the Chargers’ snaps in Atlanta; Tyrell Williams is the #1 receiver, and had his 2nd 100 yard game in 3 outings… Golden Tate had another nice game; he appears safe as long as Theo Riddick is out… Corey Coleman is one week closer to returning; it was 4 quarterbacks ago, but he went off Week 2 and will get volume once he returns… Speaking of volume, Mike Wallace has 42 targets over his last 4 games… Now that Michael Floyd has played his way onto the waiver wire, he’s set to go off.
DEEPER LEAGUE PLAYS
(In no particular order.)
Rashad Jennings is 31 and looks done. His 2.7 YPC ranks 37th in the league, which is a problem because only 37 running backs have enough carries to qualify. (2nd last? Todd Gurley). The Giants are on bye this week, which would be a good time to shift to Paul Perkins. The rookie has maxed out at 5 opportunities per game since first being active Week 4, so this is pure speculation.
Justin Edwards subtitled last week’s waiver column “Who You Should Drop Your Jets For,” and even after looking better against Baltimore on Sunday, they remain bottom 1/3 in every offensive efficiency stat. Still, preseason star Robby Anderson continued to lurk, playing 74% of their snaps with a 3-3-41-0 line and a 30 yard run.
When Jacquizz Rodgers breaks, Peyton Barber will be the next man up. He got some run in a blowout win, rushing 12 times for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Marquise Goodwin had the big day (7-4-93-1), but hurt his foot and could miss next week. Meanwhile, Justin Hunter was quiet after scoring touchdowns consecutive weeks, but actually played 53 of 57 snaps, most among any Buffalo receiver.
I’m incredibly popular among the high school demographic based on a study I just made up, so here’s an SAT analogy for practice—Dwayne Allen:Jack Doyle::Jack Doyle:Erik Swoope. Swoope did what we hoped for, keeping the TE2 role in Indy viable with a 5-2-51-0 line.
Terrance West hurt his ankle early on against the Jets, and though able to return, gained just 10 yards on 8 carries. He’ll have the bye week to rest, but if the injury lingers, Kenneth Dixon and Lorenzo Taliaferro could both be interesting. Taliaferro out-touched Dixon 4-2 and out-snapped him 21-11, but such limited work doesn’t necessarily show the true pecking order. 50/50 split if West misses time?
With the 49ers on bye, Colin Kaepernick is not a must add in 10- and 12-team leagues. However, he continued to run (9 carries, 84 yards; see last week’s column for more details) and gets New Orleans in Week 9.
Another week, another Browns quarterback. After Cody Kessler got knocked out of the game with a concussion, Kevin Hogan filled in admirably with 16.40 fantasy points. He wasn’t very good throwing (12/24, 2 INTs), but I will always, always be interested in quarterbacks who can run (7 carries, 104 yards and a sweet touchdown). Josh McCown might start next week, but if not, Hogan gets a beatable New York Jets defense.
THAT DON’T IMPRESS ME MUCH
Last week I asked if Jordan Howard was in a time share. On Thursday, John Fox answered “yes,” and then kicked my dog for good measure. I don’t love Howard or Ka’Deem Carey with half the workload in a bad offense, and the Bears’ next 2 weeks are Vikings and bye, so rostering Carey right now probably isn’t worth it.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of Jamison Crowder’s 9-7-108-0 day. I think he’s good, but his usage dipped after a hot start, and he was still in on only 75% of Washington’s snaps against Detroit. Are you playing him Sunday? If not, you’re certainly dropping him as Washington has a bye Week 9 and the Vikings Week 10.
Cordarrelle Patterson had another nice game, with a 7-7-67-1 line. He now has 6+ targets in each of the last 3 games, but the Vikings are bottom 10 in passing attempts per game, and I think Patterson fades away once Stefon Diggs gets right.
It’s getting harder to ignore Brandon LaFell, who now has 4 touchdowns over his past 3 games. However, he has 5 or fewer targets in 4 of 7 games, and with Tyler Eifert back I expect (hope, pray, etc.) his workload goes down.
Carlos Hyde was sidelined with a shoulder injury last week, leaving a cluster in his wake. DuJuan Harris (11 carries, 39 yards) and Mike Davis (7 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD) split the rushing work, while Shaun Draughn (7 targets, 5 catches, 37 yards, 1 TD) got the bulk of the passing work. They’re on bye this week, but if Hyde remains out, can you start any of them Week 9, even against New Orleans?
Tavon Austin’s ownership is falling, as it should. Austin put up 12.70 points and sits at WR16 for the week heading into Monday night, but his 4.7 yards per target this year is epically low, and he was at fault for one of Case Keenum’s 4 INTs. Both Kenny Britt and Brian Quick (each at 11.1 YPT) have been significantly better.
Seth Roberts was targeted 9 times, catching 4 for 42 yards. It was the first time he’s exceeded 6 targets all year, and still hasn’t had a double-digit game despite 3 touchdowns. The Raiders had one of the narrowest target shares in the league last year, and are right back at it in 2016, with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree hogging 47.5% of the looks.
Any questions, hit me up on Twitter, @scedar015. Be sure to check out Chris Manni’s Streaming Spotlight and Adam Cook’s Field of Streams for weekly quarterback, tight end, and defense pickups.