What We Learned: Week Two
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
1. Is it time to panic on Tom Brady ?
Nobody can change the fact that Tom Brady has more Super Bowl rings than he can fit on one hand. He is, and always will be, the greatest quarterback of all time. But in two games as a Buccaneer, things have not been pretty.
It's tempting to sound the panic alarm, heck I've seen some do it already. Before you do, just keep in mind nobody had a full preseason to prepare, and we're only two weeks in.
I understand that judging based off this small sample size, it's looking like the guy we all viewed as a top-ten fantasy QB this season, is going to fall short of those expectations. But is it really his fault?
In week two, with Chris Godwin out of the lineup, it became apparent that Mike Evans (seven catches, 104 yards, one TD) was the only receiving weapon Brady could count on.
TE 'Sit of the Week' Rob Gronkowski (widely drafted as a TE1 in fantasy land) has been an absolute non-factor through two games. So far this season, he’s drawn just three targets. In week two, he finished with zero catches on one target.
Scotty Miller seemed like he would step into an expanded role after catching five balls for 72 yards in Tampa's season opener, but he finished with just two catches on three targets for 11 yard in week two. His only other target was a would-be TD pass that Brady gave him an opportunity to make a play on. Needless to say, he failed to make the grab.
Shady McCoy was second on the team with five receptions for 26 yards on seven targets, but also dropped a (very well placed) would-be TD.
The Bucs pulled off the victory in week two because they were bailed out by an exceptional 2-TD performance from Leonard Fournette who, by the way, is exactly what this offense needs to open things up. (More on that later)
Brady could’ve had a much bigger fantasy day if not for those two dropped TD's. But the fact is, things played out how they did, Brady turned the ball over twice and only finished with 8.6 fantasy points in week two.
Here is a list of notable QBs that outscored Brady in week two:
Brady had a cake matchup against a brutal Carolina defense, and he failed to deliver. But does that mean we should hit the panic button?
I say no.
Those looking at week two, strictly from a fantasy perspective, probably think Brady's final stats mean he played poorly. But the truth is, ProFootballFocus has Brady graded as the third-best QB in the league (87.8) through two weeks.
What you have to understand is that PFF player grades add in layers of context that cannot be captured by conventional stats.
They take into account a lot of external factors such as: whether or not passes are perfectly thrown or put in a spot where the receiver has to do all the work, defensive pass interference yards (which he had a surprising amount of in week two), plays called back by offensive penalties, etc.
Only Aaron Rodgers (95.6) and Russell Wilson (92.7) rank higher than Brady so far.
After two weeks of NFL football, there are a lot of wild conclusions being jumped to. People jumping ship on Tom Brady seems to be popular one.
I'd just like to say, there are 16 games in an NFL season. If two weeks was a reliable sample size, we'd be making a bigger deal about the fact Mitchell Trubisky is on pace to throw for 40 TD's. Or the fact the Raiders are undefeated. Or the fact Russell Gage is on pace for 308 fantasy points. "Who?" you ask. Exactly.
There's still plenty of time for Brady and the Bucs to recover and figure things out. Now, if he continues to turn the ball over and be hampered by the play of his teammates, then I'd say there is definitely cause for concern. But as of now, I firmly believe Tom Brady will have a few massive games this season.
So, to recap, I'm not necessarily panicking on Brady, I do think he figures it out at some point this season. BUT... It could take a while to iron out the kinks.
I personally am going to ride it out. I may not start him until I see it consistently, but I definitely would not drop him. If he starts to click with the weapons around him, it's going to be scary.
If there's one thing I've learned consistently, for as long as I've been watching football, it's that the absolute last player you want to bet against is Tom Brady.
Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
Tom Brady cheers in excitment after throwing his first TD pass as a Buccaneer.
2. Leonard Fournette is the guy in Tampa
Bruce Arians and friends can act like Ronald Jones is their guy all they want but at the end of the day, it’s clear to see Leonard Fournette is the superior player. Plain and simple, he gives them the best chance to win.
Uncle Lenny finished with 100+ yards and two TD's on just 12 carries in week two. His second touchdown came at a critical moment for the Bucs late in the fourth quarter. His 46-yard scoring dash effectively iced the game for the Bucs who were only up by one score at the time.
He also drew a lot of attention from TB12 in the pass game, catching four passes on five targets.
Personally, I believe what Fournette provides as an explosive runner, is exactly what this offense is missing. Ronald Jones has flashed talent, but overall his efficiency has left something to be desired (3.7 YPC). The fact is, RoJo just isn't a player that strikes fear into the heart of an opposing defense.
During his time in Jacksonville, Fournette faced stacked boxes at a higher rate than any other running back in the league. That should tell you all you need to know about how defenses feel about him.
Unlike the Jaguars for the past couple years, the Bucs actually have a passing game that needs to be respected.
Leonard Fournette + Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and two very talented TE's = a defenses worst nightmare.
If they get defenses into a position to commit to stopping the run, Brady will eat them alive with his arm. If they commit to playing the pass, Fournette will eat them alive with his legs.
In week three, the Bucs play the Broncos who are well-aware of what Fournette is capable of. Last season, in his one game against the Broncos, Lenny rushed for a career-high 225 yards on 29 carries (7.8 YPC). If you don't think they're terrified of him, you're wrong.
Forget what he offers as a rusher, the intimidation factor he provides is what is going to keep defenses honest.
Don't even get me started on how he has developed into a reliable pass-catcher. (Career-high 76 receptions in 2019)
I suspect the Bucs come to their senses as early as next week and commit to Fournette as an every down back. And if not next week, well... It's only a matter of time.
3. The age of the mobile QB is upon us
It seems like this season more than any other has made it increasingly clear that mobile quarterbacks are the key to success in fantasy football.
Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Josh Allen all went off for over 30 fantasy points this past week. They each had an excellent game as a passer, but none (except Allen) would have scored over 30 without the production they provide as rushers.
The thing about non-mobile QB's like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Matt Ryan is, if the passing production isn't there, the fantasy points aren't either. You are then left with a low floor.
For example: it wasn’t a good fantasy week for Lamar Jackson (by his standards) he threw for less yards than, and as many touchdowns as, Brady in week two. BUT thanks to rushing for 50 yards (and not turning the ball over twice) he outscored him by nine points.
Two QB's could finish with the same amount of passing yards and passing TD's but it is the guy who picks up yards and TD's with his legs that can afford to slack as a passer.
4. Jonathan Taylor does not disappoint
In his first game as a starter, Jonathan Taylor proved to the world he could be a true workhorse at the NFL level.
In week two, Taylor took his 26 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, making guys miss and passing the eye test on his way to a 19.0 (PPR) point performance.
After seeing the way things played out (backfield touches-wise) it's probably safe for us to pump the brakes on Nyheim Hines, myself included. After an impressive week one where he was an integral part of the running and receiving game, he received just one touch in week two, taking a backseat to Taylor.
I suspect that Hines will be an up-and-down producer all season having seven catches when you decide to sit him and only touching the ball five times when you decide to use him.
Taylor, on the other hand, remains a must-start for the rest of the season. He is currently a top 10-15 back for me at the moment with the opportunity to firmly establish himself in the top-10. I personally am excited to watch it play out.
5. Josh Allen = elite
The athleticism was never in question, it was always his capability as a passer. He went from never throwing for 300+ yards in a game, to beginning the season by doing it twice in a row, stacking back-to-back 30-point fantasy performances in the process.
He already provided you with a high-floor as a rusher, but this leap forward as a passer makes him un-sittable. I know he played two brutal defenses in the Jets and Dolphins, but in my opinion, Allen has shown more than enough as a passer to trust him as a top-five QB moving forward.
New addition Stefon Diggs and trusted weapon John Brown are providing Allen with all the production he could possibly ask for.
Diggs currently has the fifth-most receptions in the league and is WR4 in fantasy through two games. From what we've seen, he is easily one of the best draft-day bargains this season.
Brown has at least 70 yards, a TD, and 18.0 fantasy points in both games this season. He is currently WR9 in fantasy. He was a PPR machine last season, and it looks like that is going to carry over into 2020.
There was concern (on my end) about whether or not there would be enough volume to go around for these two, considering Allen's history as a lackluster passer. But those concerns have been laid to rest.
As a Jets fan, it pains me to say this, but if what we've seen is an indication of things to come, I'm all-in on the Bills-mafia's passing attack this season.
After a week where so many players went down (some for the season) with significant injuries, fantasy owners everywhere are left feeling distraught. Although things may seem grim at the moment, its important to know: there’s still time to recover.
Even if you lost your best player, or more than one of them, it’s imperative (now more than ever) to keep your head up.
After seeing the Cowboys pull off the most miraculously electrifying improbable win in modern football history in week two, you have to realize: even the most impossible-seeming comeback can be completed. All you have to do is show up and believe.
I've said it before but I'll say it again: now is no time to be feeling sorry for yourself soldier! The season is still young. The last thing you should be doing is throwin' in the towel. You've got a league to win.
Without further ado, I will break down (by position) players that should be available in your league that could help you fill the potential holes left in your roster after week two.
DISCLAIMER: This list will only feature players rostered in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues. I have them listed in order of my own personal preference, but I will provide you with enough info for you to make an informed decision for yourself.
1. Joshua Kelley (LAC)
Kelley has been receiving a surprisingly generous amount of volume these past two weeks. He's finished with at least 60 yards rushing and 12.0 (PPR) points in both games this season. In week two, Kelley was given a staggering 25 touches and finished with 113 total yards.
Although Austin Ekeler was clearly more efficient with his touches, and is still a low-end RB1 in my opinion, he received seven carries less than Kelley in week two. If things continue this way, Kelley could work his way into the RB2 discussion if it turns out he's filling the Melvin Gordon role for the Chargers. Which appears to be the case.
He's owned in just 27.9 percent of ESPN leagues. Based on volume alone, he is an ideal plug-and-play for an RB-needy team.
2. Jerrick McKinnon (SF)
McKinnon has already been solid this season, scoring a TD and at least 13.0 PPR points in back-to-back games. He has just six carries for 106 yards so far. With Raheem Mostert expected to miss at least two weeks with an MCL sprain, McKinnon will be even more involved than he has been already.
As I write this, it has come to my attention that Tevin Coleman is also dealing with a knee injury. I just received the notification that he’s expected to miss “multiple weeks,” which makes McKinnon that much more valuable.
Think about it... He will be the RB1 in a Kyle Shanahan offense for the next two weeks.
He is rostered in just 19.3 percent of ESPN leagues. Go scoop him now.
3. Mike Davis (CAR)
With Christian McCaffery expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks thanks to a high-ankle sprain, Mike Davis becomes the panthers RB1.
He only had one rush in week two, but that could be attributed to negative game script and the fact that McCaffery plays 97 percent of the Panthers snaps. After McCaffery exited however, Davis was heavily involved, catching all eight of his targets for 74 yards. He finished with 15.5 (PPR) points on receptions alone.
To recap, Davis is a good receiving back, currently atop the depth chart on a team that is top-six in RB targets per game, with a QB who likes to throw it short. At this moment, he is available in 99.2 percent of ESPN leagues.
4. Myles Gaskin (MIA)
The fact he’s on the Dolphins is the only reason he isn’t higher on this list. I was skeptical after week one, but Gaskin has now put together back-to-back games of at least 10.0 (PPR) points, 40 rush yards AND four receptions.
Gaskin has displayed promise as a rusher and a pass-catcher so far. He’s averaging 5.3 YPC and 6.2 YPR on the season... behind the Dolphins offensive line...
Granted, it is a small sample size, but an encouraging one nonetheless. He is currently owned in just 13 percent of ESPN leagues.
5. Jamaal Williams (GB)
Williams has proved in the past he is a more-than-capable receiver out of the backfield. Last year, there were times when both Aaron Jones AND Williams were start-able.
In 2019, Williams had seven games with three or more catches, and five games with four or more. At one point, he had a four-game receiving-TD streak. During those four weeks, he logged fantasy finishes of 23.6, 13.1, 18.6, and 16.9 (PPR) points.
Davante Adams could potentially miss some time with an apparent hamstring injury, and since the Packers other pass-catchers have proved to be less than stellar, Williams could be in line for an increase in touches. Last week, he rushed for an impressive 63 yards on just eight carries.
Williams is a talented player on a very good offense. If he resumes his role from a season ago, he would be a solid PPR flex/RB3. He is currently owned in just 12.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
6. Dion Lewis (NYG) / Devonta Freeman(NYG?)
Lewis is the first in line to see an expanded role now that Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL. He found the end-zone last week and finished with 15.6 PPR points.
The only reason I don’t have him higher, is because the Giants are reportedly bringing in Devonta Freeman for a workout. I find it hard to believe they don’t sign him. Even without having played in a while, he’d be a vast improvement over the G-men's current RB2 Wayne Gallman.
Both Lewis and Freeman have been VERY fantasy relevant in the past, but while splitting reps, I’m not exactly confident in either as anything more than a TD-dependent flex for now.
Others to keep an eye on: Darrell Henderson (LAR), Frank Gore (NYJ), Giovani Bernard (CIN)
1. N'keal Harry (NE)
For the second straight week, Harry tied Julian Edelman for the team-lead in receptions. In a game where the game script called for Cam Newton to pass, Harry had 12 targets, eight receptions and over 15.0 (PPR) points.
I wish I had more evidence to support this theory, but I expect Harry takes the leap forward this year and provides consistent production as one of Cam’s clear favorite targets.
He is owned in just 39.6 percent of ESPN leagues, and if my gut is correct, this will likely be most people’s last week to snag him.
2. Russell Gage (ATL)
Gage is in a very crowded WR room, and yet he has drawn 9+ targets and scored over 16.0 (PPR) points in back-to-back games to begin the 2020 season.
Matt Ryan has been lighting it up lately and he’s been looking Gage’s way quite a bit. There are few WR's on the waiver-wire that have received as much love as Gage this season.
There’s no guarantee this production continues with the amount of exceptional pass catchers on the Falcons offense, but what if it does? So far it’s been working out. Why not ride the train while you can?
Gage is currently available in about 80 percent of ESPN leagues.
3. Corey Davis (TEN)
Davis has stacked back-to-back respectable fantasy performances to begin the 2020 season. In week one, he finished with 101 yards and 17.1 (PPR) points. In week two, he made an impressive TD catch and finished with 12.6 (PPR) points.
For those of you that haven't noticed, Ryan Tannehill has playing like an elite quarterback since week 10 of last season. Davis is a former first-round talent, and if this is the year he finally figures it out, you're going to want him on your team.
I’m not necessarily saying that’s the case, BUT he has played well enough to warrant flex consideration.
Once AJ Brown returns, it’s likely that Davis's production will take a hit. But that might not be for several weeks. For now, he appears to be the Titans WR1. He is owned in just 35.3% of ESPN leagues
4. Keelan Cole/Laviska Shenault (JAX)
Cole has a TD, and at least five catches/15.7 points in back-to-back games to begin 2020. With Gardner Minshew looking like a seasoned pro in his second season (six passing TD's in two games) Cole has been enjoying flex-level productivity.
If he emerges as Minshew's second favorite target, he could become very fantasy relevant. With DJ Chark reportedly dealing with an injury of his own, he just might be Minshew's first favorite target this week.
Cole is currently available in 98 percent of ESPN leagues.
Another one of Minshew's weapons, Shenault now has 9.0 (PPR) points in back-to-back weeks. What’s interesting about him is that the Jags have been using him as a gadget player.
He already has a receiving TD this season and in week two, he carried the ball five times for 37 yards (just over 7.0 YPC). It’s clear to see the Jags are trying to get him the ball, and considering the talent, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few multi-TD games this season.
He is currently owned in just 13.1% of ESPN leagues.
5. Chase Claypool (PIT)
He's currently third in line behind JuJu and Diontae Johnson for Steelers WR targets, but he showed off his big play ability in week two on a 70-yard TD pass from Big Ben. He finished with 17.8 (PPR) points on just three catches. He's currently averaging 25.4 yards per reception, which has me thinking he could end up being the new Martavis Bryant...
Big Ben certainly has the pedigree as a passer to see to it that three of his receivers finish with over 1,000 yards, but as of now I would only feel comfortable playing Claypool in a very deep league.
The talent is definitely there, it’s just a question of volume for him until we see consistent production. But if you wanted to take a shot on someone based on talent alone he’s your guy.
He's currenrtly available in 92.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
6. KJ Hamler (DEN)
With Courtland Sutton out for the season with a torn ACL, and Jerry Jeudy dealing with an apparent concussion, the rookie Hamler is primed to step into an expanded role.
Noah Fant is currently the teams top pass-catcher with Melvin Gordon as a close second. After that, it’s anyone’s game.
Of course Jeff Driskel might be a bit of a downgrade over Drew Lock, which makes this pick less appealing. But there is opportunity for Hamler to step up.
He did finish with the team lead in targets (7) in week two (his rookie debut). He is available in 98.9 percent of ESPN leagues.
Others to keep an eye on: Hunter Renfrow (LV), Scotty Miller (TB), Brandon Aiyuk (SF)
Photo courtesy of NFL.com
Fantasy owners took a big hit in week two as Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffery (among several others) suffered significant lower body injuries.
1. Joe Burrow robbed of game-winning drive
2020 first overall selection Joe Burrow struggled at times during his NFL debut. Being the competitor he is, Burrow graded his own performance with a D after the game. But, aside from a highly questionable shovel pass that went directly to Chargers all-pro linebacker Melvin Ingram, there wasn’t anything egregious about his performance.
In fact, it could be argued that when it mattered most, Burrow played like a vet.
With no timeouts left and the game on the line, Burrow showed the world why he was the first player off the board in 2020.
Joe Cool began his first NFL two-minute drill with a rush for seven yards. He then proceeded to go 8 for 10 for 79 yards, leading the Bengals all the way down to the three-yard line before throwing the would-be game winning TD to AJ Green.
"That guy doesn't flinch. The way he handled himself in that last drive was unbelievable," Green said. "We've got a special one in Joe."
It is impressive to receive that kind of praise from a ten-year veteran, it's even more impressive to play the way Burrow did, in crunch time (of your first pro game), against one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Burrow, the Bengals didn't win that game thanks to (arguably) the softest push-off call of all time. The call was against Green, who was playing in his first game since week nine of 2018. But the call wasn't to blame for the Bengals loss.
Burrow put them well within field goal range to tie the 13-16 game and send it to OT. But ultimately, it was out-of-shape kicker Randy Bullock that biffed a game-tying chip shot and subsequently hurt himself on the same play.
The Bengals walked away devastated. But NFL fans and fantasy owners walked away encouraged.
Green proved to be Burrows favorite receiver, leading the team with nine targets. And Burrow proved to be more than capable of getting him the ball.
On paper, there was nothing spectacular about Green's week one game. But when it counted, Burrow knew where to look. On the aforementioned last drive of the game, Green made a beautiful catch. It was the type of eye-popping catch that would silence anybody claiming he had lost a step. It ended up being just out of bounds. If things went slightly more his way, Green would have finished with about 18 PPR points in week one.
Not bad for someone who hasn’t played in two years. Especially considering it was against (arguably) the best CB tandem in football.
Green is a high-end WR3 at this point, with the potential to shoot all the way up the ranks in a few weeks time. If the Green owner in your league didn't pay close attention on Sunday, chances are he's available for a discount price.
Burrow is more exciting for real-life football purposes than he is for fantasy, at least in the short term. BUT after seeing the way he handled himself in the most crucial moments of the game, I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish with a few top-ten weeks this season.
I'm willing to bet he'll get another shot at a game-winning drive, and when he does, he'll complete it.
Photo courtesy of sports.yahoo.com
Burrow evades defenders on his way to a 23-yard rushing TD in his NFL debut.
2. James Robinson is legit
This guy James Robinson joined the Jaguars team (within the last month) as an un-drafted rookie and locked up the starting running back job. You knew he had to be some type of dog right then and there.
He confirmed that to be quite clear after hurdling a defender and picking up 28 yards on his only catch of the day.
Robinson handled 100 percent of the Jaguars carries on Sunday. He was the only player in the league to do so in week one.
To be fair, he is on the Jaguars where there clearly isn't much competition, and the offensive line is beyond questionable. So, it's not surprising that he didn't garner much fantasy attention (rostered in just 29.1 percent of ESPN leagues at the moment) but he definitely should be on your radar now.
If you find yourself in need of an RB after week one (Le'Veon Bell and James Conner owners) you could do a lot worse than Robinson.
3. Super Cam is back!
Cam Newton began his Patriots career with a bang in week one. But, honestly, was anyone surprised?
Considering the wonders Pats OC Josh McDaniels has worked with QB's like Tim Tebow, Jacoby Brissett and Matt Cassel, what did you think was going to happen when you handed him a former league-MVP? An incredibly mobile former league-MVP at that.
In week one, Newton led his team in carries (15) and rush yards (75), finding the end zone twice with his legs. It could have been three times if he wasn't stuffed on the one-yard line before ultimately ceding the TD to Sony Michel.
Considering the amount of designed runs the Pats had for Newton, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to lead the team in rush TD’s this season.
Cam only threw for 155 yards in week one (15/19) and still scored 25.7 fantasy points. Imagine what happens when the game plan calls for both.
I don't think I saw one picture of Newton this offseason where he didn't have an ear-to-ear smile. This may be a moot point, but the last time I remember him being so smiley was 2015. He scored 45 total TD's and finished as QB1 that season.
With a coaching staff like New England's, and all the talent in the world, Super Cam has a legitimate shot to finish as a top-five QB this season.
I know it's early, but It’s beginning to look like Super Cam may have been THE single most undervalued player on draft day. (Round-13 ADP)
Hopefully you weren’t afraid to reach.
4. Starters outperformed by their depth chart inferiors
Zach Ertz, Nick Chubb, Marlon Mack, Antonio Gibson. One thing these players all had in common in week one? They were outplayed by their depth chart inferiors.
In Mack's case, he suffered a season ending injury that opened the door for his backup Johnathan Taylor to step into a prominent role. But even if that wasn't the case, Nyheim Hines still would have been on this list.
Even before Mack left the game, Hines had already scored a TD on the ground and through the air. I listed Hines as my top waiver claim for this week because not only do the Colts have the best O-line in football, Phillip Rivers also loves his pass catching RB's. (See Austin Ekeler, Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, etc.) 37 percent of Rivers passes in week one went to a RB.
Hines had caught 107 passes in the two seasons prior to Rivers arrival. We probably should have seen this one coming from a mile away.
Speaking of seeing things coming from a mile away, Kareem Hunt yet again outscored Nick Chubb in fantasy.
Chubb is a great real life player, and if he had the backfield to himself, I firmly believe he is a true top-five fantasy RB. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, he shares the backfield with another player I feel the exact same way about.
In week one, Hunt finished with more carries, yards, targets AND receptions than Chubb despite playing a fewer percentage of snaps. It was even more concerning for Chubb owners that this was not the case until AFTER Chubb fumbled the football.
Since week 11 last season, this has been a maddening split for anyone hoping for meaningful production out of Chubb. I mean, don't you just hate when they list a guy as the starter on the depth chart and then feed someone else? Kind of like Antonio Gibson and career-vulture Peyton Barber.
Gibson was a popular play this week as the Washington Football Team's (alleged) starting RB. But who was it that received the bulk of the carries despite playing the least amount of Washington's backfield snaps? That's right. PEYTON F@$#%N BARBER.
It's not that I was even using Gibson on any team this week, because I wasn't. But I have to say, Barber just grinds my gears. It seems like it doesn't matter where he is, or how buried he is on the depth chart. He'll find a way to steal the TD's.
I personally think he is one of the most average running backs I've ever seen (career AVG: 3.5 YPC). I cannot fathom why he got 17 carries on Sunday, but I can certainly fathom the fact he only picked up 29 yards (1.7 YPC) on those carries.
Yet, Barber manages to stay relevant once again because, apparently, he has some sort of hypnotic power that convinces the coaching staff of whatever team he's on to give him infinite carries inside the five. And wouldn't you know it? He scored twice and doubled Gibson's fantasy point totals.
Barbers YPC and catch percentage have declined in each season he's played as a pro, he's never made a significant impact as a receiver, and failed to impress the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 16 games as a starting running back.
I just. Don't. Get it.
Gibson did fine, (nine carries, 36 yards, two receptions, eight yards) but obviously you would have liked to see him get a little more love. Just like you would have liked to see Ronald Jones get more a little more love, all of last year.
I don't even want to think about the Washington/Philly game anymore, but I have to because I need to talk about the Eagles TE situation. So let's get this over with.
On Sunday, Zach Ertz caught Philly's first TD of the day in the first quarter. But that was about all we saw from him for the rest of the game. Ertz finished with just three catches for 18 yards.
Instead, it was Dallas Goedert who led the way against the Football Team with eight catches for 101 yards and a TD of his own, scoring 24.1 (PPR) fantasy points as opposed to Ertz's 10.8.
The TD came on a deep route where Goedert made an impressive speed turn adjustment that could make you say, "He's really a tight end?" Considering the fact Goedert finished as TE10 last season, and injuries to the Eagles receiving corps, it was no surprise to see him in an expanded role.
He impressed enough to leave many fantasy owners wondering, "Is this going to be a thing?"
Unlike Ertz, Goedert actually gets down the field. He showed in week one he's capable of outproducing Ertz, especially with defenses are keying on Ertz as the Eagles top weapon.
I listed Goedert as one of my top waiver claims this week because I believe this is legit. Ertz is still locked in as a TE1, no doubt about it. But so is Goedert, at least as far as I'm concerned.
5. Aaron Rodgers is a bad man... Again.
In week one, Aaron Rodgers reminded us exactly what he's capable of. Despite a lot of criticism surrounding his fantasy value this season (his ADP was QB14 on ESPN) Rodgers proceeded to throw for 364 yards and four TD's against a Vikings team that he had thrown just four TD's against in their last four meetings.
Many fans are wondering, is Rodgers back?
My answer? He never left.
Sure he's been lackluster the past two seasons as a fantasy QB. But as a real life QB, he has never shown signs of being anything but elite.
Despite concerns about declined production, Rodgers has never dipped below 62 percent completion percentage or a 93.8 QBR in a season. He hasn't throw for double-digit INT's in a season since 2010 (six total 2018-2019). He has also thrown for 25+ TD's in back to back seasons now.
In what many viewed as a down year for Rodgers last season, he finished as QB10 in fantasy, went 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship.
After the Packers drafted a QB instead of a skill player in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, anyone who knows anything about Aaron Rodgers had to see this one coming. He's going to use this season to make it clear: he's not going anywhere.
I'm not saying he plays like this every week, because a lot of this huge game has to do with the fact that the Vikings have an inexperienced secondary. BUT I am saying I expect him to once again finish as a top-ten fantasy QB.
The unthinkable happened on Monday morning Aug. 31 as the Jacksonville Jaguars released workhorse RB Leonard Fournette.
Okay, so after seeing the way the Jaguars have handled their best players over the past three seasons, maybe this wasn’t the most unthinkable thing that could have happened.
Since Jacksonville lost the 2017 AFC Championship, they have released, traded or not re-signed seven players that made a pro-bowl appearance for them. The list includes huge names like Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Allen Robinson and Calais Campbell.
They've made it clear they don't like having good players on their team, but this Fournette news is still shocking nonetheless.
We knew the Jags had plans to move on from Fournette after they declined the fifth-year option on his contract, but most would have never guessed it’d happen so soon and so suddenly, just two weeks away from the beginning of the 2020 season.
So, as I’m sure many of you are wondering, what is the Fantasy Fallout? Well, if you already drafted Fournette, obviously you can’t use him right now. The way I see it, your best bet is to wait and see where he lands, and just pray it’s somewhere favorable.
Either way, now is no time to be feeling sorry for yourself solider! The season is still young! You’re just going to have to work with what you’ve got, play the waiver-wire and facilitate some trades damn it!
Those who drafted Antonio Brown last season should be no stranger to this situation.
Fournette’s top landing spots, in my opinion, would be (in order) New England, Tampa Bay, or Washington.
Either way you scratch it, he’ll have competition for touches and likely isn’t going to receive the workload he deserves. Barring an injury to a lead back somewhere, Fournette probably won’t be returning RB1 numbers. But here is why I like the teams mentioned above.
New England Patriots:
If Fournette signed with the Pats right now, he is instantly the best back on the roster. Between James White, Lamar Miller, Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel, it is definitely crowded over there. Yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pats cut the newly signed Miller in favor of the younger, more bulky Fournette.
He would likely take over for Michel as the perfect goal-line hammer, and push for double-digit TD’s on the ground. However, with White’s role as the pass catching specialist unlikely to change, Fournette wouldn’t be in line for the receiving workload he proved he is capable of with 76 receptions last season. Best-case scenario, he is an RB2 with TD upside.
The Ronald Jones believers aren’t going to like this one. Yes, RoJo is a talented player, but with Fournette in town, they'd be all but guaranteed to split carries. The signing wouldn’t make the most sense considering the team just drafted Keyshawn Vaughn, and signed Shady McCoy this offseason. But, of all 32 NFL teams, the Bucs are one of a handful that don’t have a clear cut bell-cow RB.
As a Fournette owner, Jones would likely have a larger role than you’d like in this situation. But, if Lenny can pull away with the hot-hand, Arians could let him run wild. It also is worth noting that, since 2018, Tom Brady is third amongst QB’s in passing TD’s to RB’s (14).
Currently, 35-year old Adrian Peterson sits atop Washington’s RB depth chart. While the wiley veteran is still capable of delivering solid performances (seven games with 70+ rush yards in 2019, including three over 95+), he has certainly looked much less explosive in the past few years than we are used to.
If Fournette were to come in, he would be an immediate upgrade and the Football Team (so weird to say) would likely cut the veteran Peterson, and I trust Ron Rivera would make the call to feed Fournette.
Many are high on Antonio Gibson this season (for good reason) but one look at his most recent collegiate season, you will see he’s more of a receiving back than anything else.
Don't get me wrong, the guy has an elite combination of size, speed, receiving ability, vision and elusiveness to be a great NFL back. But for the majority of his career, he didn't play running back. There is a lot to learn, pass protection wise, that Gibson will need to work on as he is less experienced than the average RB in that department. He would no doubt steal a large receiving workload from Fournette, but Lenny could still end up delivering mid-range RB2 numbers.
Photo Courtesy of NJ.com
Former Jacksonville RB, Leonard Fournette, avoids a tackle from a Falcon on his way to 100 total yards.
This news is tough for fantasy football players everywhere, especially considering how shallow the RB position is already, but what can you do to pick up the pieces if Fournette doesn’t land somewhere favorable/anywhere at all?
Ryquell Armstead seems to be the back to own in Jacksonville but, let’s be honest, he’s no Fournette. He’s probably not going to score you the type of points you were hoping for when you picked Leonard, but Armstead is in fact a lead back. Albeit a lead back with the seventh-worst graded O-line (according to ProFootballFocus) but a lead back nonetheless. Armstead is a middle-of-the-pack RB3 for me, but could push for RB2 numbers if he finds the end zone enough.
Devin Ozigbo is also an interesting prospect, but he’s going to begin the season third on the depth chart. He’s not currently worth a roster spot in standard-sized leagues.
For me, Chris Thompson is the guy you’re going to want to scoop. Thompson will be reuniting with Jay Gruden in Jacksonville, and is a favorite to take on the pass catching role out of the backfield. Thompson has shown flashes and has proven to be a good (PPR) fantasy option in the past. If he can stay healthy, he is certainly going to be in the flex/RB3 conversation.
So, my advice? Be patient. There’s still two weeks until the season starts, hang on to Fournette for now. Unless of course you can find a trade you like, in which case, by all means save yourself the stress. Just know this: there’s still time to recover.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to a one-year deal with Leonard Fournette.
This moves Fournette up in my rankings, but not enough to get him back into the top-25. Like I eluded to before the team signed him, he’ll likely split the load with Ronald Jones, at least in some capacity.
After talking RoJo up all off season, it seems unlikely they will simply give his job away, at least right off the bat. If Fournette can impress enough to run away with the feature back role, then it is a different story entirely.
I for one wholeheartedly believe Fournette is the superior back but, unlike in Jacksonville, he'll share the backfield with someone who is an actual legitimate threat to earn at least 30 percent of the touches each week.
We also can't forget that LeSean McCoy is still there... And rookie Keyshawn Vaughn. Fournette is not guarenteed a ton of volume by any means.
At best, Fournette is now a mid-range RB3 with the opportunity to be enter the RB2 conversation if he can make a case for himself to handle the bulk of the backfield work.
Disclaimer: This list is not intended to make you reach on players, or avoid them altogether. It is simply a reflection of their current value and whether or not I believe they have an appropriate price tag. Players to target are either appropriately priced, or steals at their average draft position (ADP). Players to avoid are those I designate as overvalued or being drafted too early.
Now that we've gotten that riveting introduction out of the way, let's get to business. Shall we?
1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
In 2019, Edwards-Helaire became first running back in SEC history with over 1,000 rush yards and 50 receptions in a season. We know the kid can play. Now you're telling me he's in the hands of Andy Reid? ANDY REID of all people?! What more can you ask for?
The Chiefs head coach stated that he thinks Edwards-Helaire might be better than Brian Westbrook...
For those of you who don’t remember how good Westbrook was under Andy Reid, here’s some stats.
Anyone who has watched professional football for the last decade can tell you Andy Reid brings nothing but success/fantasy relevance for any true RB1 he gets his hands on.
If you combined McCoy, Charles and Hunt into one player, since 2011 their average finish (PPR scoring) would be RB6.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, Chiefs RB2 Damien Williams recently opted out of the 2020 season. Which means CEH has no competition for touches in the backfield. Zero. Zip. Zilch.
Reid has already complimented CEH's instincts in pass protection in a recent interview with Steve Marriuci, and we know he isn’t afraid to throw a rookie into a workhorse role if he feels that player is ready. He did it with Hunt in 2017. Remember how that went?
“Shoulda started me idiot,” as Hunt so articulately put it after exploding for three TD's in his NFL debut.
One thing's for certain, we don’t want to make the same mistake twice by passing on CEH when the time comes.
I realize his ADP has sky-rocketed since the Damien Williams news, and he's currently being drafted in the top-10 overall. I'm here to tell you, I'm fine with it.
The way I see it, Edwards-Helaire should be the seventh/eighth player off the board depending on how you feel about Derrick Henry. @ me if you'd like to argue about it.
2. AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Size, speed, hands, first-class RAC ability, 1,000 yards and eight TD's right out of the gate. He's able to play the deep threat role, possession role or slot role.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is, Brown checks all the boxes. If he falls to you in the fourth round, don’t blow it. This kid is special. If you won’t take my word for it, I’ll kindly provide you with a link to his highlight tape below.
He’s got a certain ball carrier vision that just screams ‘elite’ to me. But if you don’t go for the intangible stuff, here some concrete evidence from Brown's 2019 season:
It’s important to note that Brown only had three games with five or more catches. The most he had in any game was eight. He was only targeted more than eight times once. Which are all shockingly low totals for a player who finished with over 1,000 yards. But the way I look at it, that just speaks to how impressive his final stats actually were.
Despite not catching more than four balls in over 75% of his games, Brown paced the 2019 WR class in yards and TD’s.
It’s one thing to outplay a room of guys that includes DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel and Hollywood Brown. But it’s another to outplay pretty much everybody else in the league.
Only Michael Thomas had more top-10 outings than Brown’s five in 2019.
It’s unreasonable to expect him to retain his current TD rate, but I’d argue that an increase in volume is not only probable, it is inevitable.
He finished with 1,051 yards and eight TD’s on just 84 targets. Imagine what he could do with 110+ targets...
It’s true the Titans run-heavy approach may limit Brown’s ceiling from a volume standpoint, but given what he could do with just 52 receptions last season, a slight increase in usage should go a long way.
I have him at WR17 (there a lot of very good receivers out there) but I have a feeling that's too low.
His current FantasyPros ADP of 41st overall (round five) feels like a steal to me. His ESPN ADP of 33rd overall, I'm also fine with. Top-10 upside for the price of a WR2? Count me in.
3. TY Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
In case there was any confusion, Colts Offensive Coordinator Nick Sirianni recently stated "T.Y. Hilton is who this pass offense runs through."
People forget before getting injured in week four last season, Hilton was WR5 (PPR) through three games. And that was playing with Jacoby Brissett who, while not terrible, is far from consistent.
In season's where Hilton plays 14 games or more, he averages 131 targets, 75 catches, 1230 yards and six TD's per season.
If one thing is for certain this season, it's that new Colts QB, Phillip Rivers, going to be looking for someone to fill that trusty Keenan Allen role.
Over the last four years, Rivers has supported AT LEAST one 1,000+ yard/6+ TD receiver each season.
Despite lackluster play in 2019, Rivers actually managed to put forth his highest YPG (288.4) in a season since 2015. Compare that to Brissett's 2019 average of just 196.1 YPG, and there’s some volume to be found there for Hilton.
Besides, who else is Philliam going to throw to? Jack Doyle? C'mon. How many times have we heard that one?
Michael Pittman is a talented player who, no doubt, should steal some attention. He might need more time to develop than other rookies, or he might be an absolute beast out of the gate. Either way, I don’t see a reason why the two can't co-exist.
If we say Rivers is going to throw for 4,200 yards (his career season-average ... hasn't finished with anything less since 2012) and Hilton has 1,200 of those, that still leaves 3,000 yards to go around. As evidenced by last season, Rivers is clearly capable of supporting multiple 1,000-yard receivers.
In 2019, both Mike Williams AND Keenan Allen finished with over 1,000 yards. And Williams did it on only 49 catches. Austin Ekeler was pretty damn close to 1,000 receiving yards himself (92 rec, 993 yds, eight TD's).
If you assume T.Y. plays to his averages, he would finish a 16-game season with 234.0 PPR points.
Last season that would have landed him at WR14 just above Robert Woods (232.9). If you give him just one extra TD, he would have had enough points to be WR12 last season, just behind Devante Parker...
I’m not saying Hilton is getting any younger, I'm just saying when he’s on the field, he’s pretty exceptional. Too exceptional to be falling to the sixth round, if you ask me. His current FantasyPros ADP at the time I'm writing this: 59th overall. That's WR27...
If you can land Hilton in the sixth or seventh round it's robbery.
4. Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
Cooks may be the single most undervalued player in this years rankings. The departure of DeAndre Hopkins means the door is wide open for Cooks to step into the WR1 role.
Currently, Cooks is being drafted after players like: De'Andre Swift (who, as of now, hasn’t played a snap in the NFL), Marvin Jones (who finished with 1,000+ yards just once in his career, and has never registered more than 65 catches in a season), even his own teammate Will Fuller (for as good as he is, has never played a full 16 games, never finished a season with more than 670 yards or 49 catches.)
Cooks is no Hopkins, nobody is saying he is. But while he's not going to be winning those jump balls in the back of the end zone, he does have a pretty consistent track record as a 1,000-yard receiver.
Prior to last season (where he suffered two concussions that limited his availability/productivity) Cooks recorded four consecutive seasons with 1,000+ yards, 100+ targets, and 65 or more receptions.
Do you mean to tell me we’re counting out a player in the prime of his career altogether after one down season? Couldn’t be me chief.
If I find myself in need of a WR3/4 in the eighth round and I see Brandin Cooks staring me in the face, I’m pulling the trigger all day. He could end up garnering you a HUGE return on investment. Worst case scenario he fizzles out and you didn’t really risk all that much with an eighth rounder. So what are you worried about?
With the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans have 167 vacated targets entering 2020. Deshaun Watson has to throw to somebody, doesn’t he?
I know Will Fuller is still there, and don’t get me wrong he’s an incredibly talented player. But unfortunately you can’t rely on him.
When Fuller plays, he’s great (even when he had to play with Brock Osweiler). But the fact is, he doesn’t always play. Over the last three seasons, Fuller has missed a total of 20 games.
Cooks on the other hand, prior to last season, finished four full seasons in a row, racking up 1,000+ yards in each of them.
If you’re worried about the change in scenery, don’t be. Cooks accomplished the aforementioned four consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns with three different teams in the past five years (Saints x2, Patriots, Rams).
He knows the drill. He also knows the drill when it comes to being a teams top receiving threat. At his current ESPN ADP (80th overall) you should know the drill as well. Target the man.
5. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
If there is one thing I’ve learned since I first watched him play at LSU, it's that nothing can stop the machine that is Jarvis Landry.
EVERY YEAR he is slept on, and every year he delivers. Landry's current ADP FantasyPros is 68th overall. That’s WR29.
He finished as WR12 in PPR scoring last season...
I’ll just let that marinate.
From weeks 8-17 last year, the man was the third-highest scoring fantasy WR in the league.
With no less than 81 catches in any season of his career (AVG's 94 per season), Landry is the very definition of a high-floor player.
Since entering the league, Landry has NEVER finished lower than 18th in PPR scoring at his position (highest: 5th).
It’s fair to note Juice has displayed a traditionally low ceiling in the past due to his possession-type role. However, it’s fair to wonder if he has overcome these woes.
Just last season, Landry posted career-highs in:
The man caught a first down on 2/3 of his receptions last season. If that doesn’t scream ‘Go-To Guy’ I don’t know what does.
The way I see it, there is room for both Beckham and Landry to shine but it all depends on which Baker Mayfield shows up this season. At least we know that if Mayfield doesn’t play good, it won’t necessarily be a bad thing for Landry.
LATE ROUND STEALS: Marquise Brown (BAL), Diontae Johnson (PIT), Raheem Mostert (SF), Jordan Howard (MIA), Jamison Crowder (NYJ), Dallas Goedert (PHI), Aaron Rodgers (GB)
1. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Look, I get it. After being traded from Miami, from week seven on, Drake was RB7 in PPR scoring. If you owned him in the fantasy playoffs last season, you’re probably crazy about him. I can’t blame you.
In eight games with the Cardinals, Drake accumulated 643 yards and eight TD's on the ground. He averaged 19.9 FPPG over that span. Therefore, he's a bonafied RB1, right? Not for me.
Yes, I saw what he accomplished. No, I don’t think it continues.
Keep in mind, Kenyan Drake has been around for a while. He’s been in the league since 2016, albeit on the Dolphins, and up until this point, he hadn’t made any sort of significant splash.
That's not to say he didn’t possibly break his own mold last season, but do we all of a sudden see him as a three-down/1,000 yard back?
Is he all of a sudden a more talented player than David Johnson, a man that finished the 2016 season with over 2,000 total yards and 20 TD's?
I personally can’t see it.
Before last season, Drakes career-high for rushing yards in a season was just 644. His career-high for rush TD's in a season was just four.
Sure, the change of scenery seemed to benefit him greatly, but I wonder how long that momentum can last.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Arizona Cardinals have the 21st ranked offensive line, with the ninth-worst run blocking grade. According to FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics, the Cardinals have the 12th-toughest schedule for an RB in 2020.
The truth is, 63 percent of Drake's points with the Cardinals came during three games (week 9, week 15, week 16). Granted, he WENT OFF in those games, racking up over 140 total yards and finding the endzone in each.
However, if you remove the three games in question, Drake averaged just 11.6 FPPG and 46 rush YPG with the Cardinals. Plus, volume could end up being a concern. He received 20+ touches in just three of his eight games with Arizona. It's a small sample size, but it's less than 50 percent.
I’m fine with Drake as an RB2/3, but I personally can’t get on board with his current ESPN ADP of RB9.
Now, I have him ranked sort of similarly at RB14, but I’m keeping him on a short leash, and avoiding him at his current value. He's currently ranked as the 10th overall player on ESPN... I mean, have we lost our minds? I'll be damned if I'm taking him above Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, or any of the league's top 5-7 WR's.
Third round? Sure. But a top-20 overall player? Not on my watch.
2. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccanneers
We love Gronk, I know. But, it’s been nearly two years since he’s been on a football field. I'm simply saying we all might want to temper our expectations.
The fact is, things will be different for Gronk because he’ll be competing for targets with two of the best WR's in the game. Sure, he has that connection with Brady, but the last time they were on the field together, Gronk produced just 47 catches, 682 yards and three TD’s in 13 games (133.2 PPR points, would have landed him at TE13 last season).
As opposed to a very Gronk-like 69-1084-8 stat line in 14 games the season prior.
The last time Gronk played in the NFL was the first time in his career that he played more than ten games and didn’t finish as a top-ten fantasy TE (PPR scoring).
I’m not saying he doesn’t bounce back and I’m not saying he isn’t still Gronk. I’m just saying the most recent sample we have isn’t very encouraging from a fantasy perspective.
Also, like I briefly touched upon before, he’ll have WAY more competition for targets, arguably more than he ever had in New England.
His current FantasyPros ADP is 74th overall, which is a bit steep for me, especially considering FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics have the Bucs pegged with the third-hardest schedule for a TE in 2020.
Again, I’m fine with Gronk as your TE1, I just wouldn’t reach too far.
ESPN has Gronk at a much more comfortable spot for me at 113 overall. But I already know, based off his name alone, he will be taken earlier than his ADP suggests.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t scoop him up if he’s still there in the ninth/tenth round, but please, do yourself a favor and don’t take him with one of your first six picks. I’m talking to you Patriots fans.
3. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
I personally find the current ADP for Golladay (WR7 on FantasyPros, WR8 on ESPN) much too high. Some will point to his league-high 3.82 fantasy points per touch (second only to AJ Brown) and say he belongs in the top-ten. I say that it's unsustainable.
In 16 games last season, Golladay had:
On tape it’s clear to see why Golladay has so much appeal. He is a very talented guy, and to be fair, he did have to play with a backup quarterback for half the season, making his top-nine PPR finish that much more impressive. But, I’m not comfortable with someone so inconsistent (from a fantasy perspective) as my sole WR1.
Remember how Stafford was on an absolute tear before he got injured (weeks 7-9) last season? It's true Golladay scored 20+ PPR points in two of those games, but he also finished with just one catch for 21 yards in the other. Which is exactly my point.
Inconsistency isn't guaranteed, but I'd like to see it before I believe it.
Now, listen carefully. I'm not saying don't draft Golladay.
He's a great player that I'm sure will have a fine season. But personally I just don’t see him as more valuable than Allen Robinson, Adam Thielen, or DJ Moore... all guys he is currently being drafted above.
4. Phillip Rivers, QB, Indianapolis Colts
You know I love T.Y. this season, but that doesn’t mean I’m big on Phillip. His new team may have the highest graded offensive line in the league according to Pro Football Focus, but they are more of a run-blocking unit than anything else.
Last season, Rivers threw more INT (7) than TDS (6) when under pressure. The Chargers were seventh in preventing QB pressure in 2019. Phil’s new team? 25th. Yeah I stole that stat from Matthew Berry. What are you gonna do about it?
Now let’s be honest, Phil is a fine streamer on most weeks. But riding him as your starting QB is risky. He hasn’t finished in the top-ten at the position since 2013.
Matthew Berry (can you tell I use him for reference a lot?) recently posted a statistic about Rivers that blew my mind:
In 220+ career games, Phillip has NEVER scored more than 30 fantasy points in a game.
Absolutely bonkers, but true. If he couldn’t do it with his high-powered Chargers offense, something tells me it’ll be even more difficult with the Colts.
Chances are you’re only considering Rivers for a Superflex/2QB league, if you are even considering him at all. But even then, someone like Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, or even Joe Burrow likely have a much higher ceiling than the ‘Bolo-tie Bandit’.
5. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
For as good as he was late last season, I’m not sold on him as a WR2.
Last season, Sutton had a 26% target share for the Broncos. He finished with more than five catches just three times... He topped 20.0 PPR points just twice.
I can't imagine that his usage goes up considering Denver recently added stud rookie WR's Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler along with one of the leagues best receiving backs in Melvin Gordon.
That’s a lot of targets that are going to dry up for Sutton. Any logical person would come to the conclusion that his production is going to suffer.
He’s proved me wrong before, but if he outplays his current ESPN ADP of WR14 (barring an unforeseen injury to one of his teammates) I would be shocked.
He is ranked more appropriately at WR24 on FantasyPros. And even then I might go lower.
OTHER PLAYERS GOING TOO EARLY: Johnathan Taylor (IND), De'Andre Swift (DET), Hunter Henry (LAC), Austin Hooper (CLE), Cam Akers (LAR)
Photo Courtesy of NFL.com
AJ Brown and Kenny Golladay led all NFL WR's in fantasy points per touch last season. But one is being drafted too high, while one is being massively undervalued.
1. Niners top Saints despite Brees huge day
1,012 yards, twelve total touchdowns, 94 combined points and it all came down to the final three seconds. Now that's what I call a football game.
In what could go down as the game of the year, QB 'Sit of the Week' Drew Brees came out firing, tossing two 25+ yard TD's to TE 'Sit of the Week' Jared Cook in the first quarter. So much for that, right? (Could go down as my worst call ever... Stay tuned) After Brees tossed yet another TD three seconds in to the second quarter, and the Saints got off to a 20-7 lead, it looked like it was curtains for the San Francisco. But the Niners would not go quietly into the night.
Jimmy Garoppolo answered Brees with a 75-yard TD toss to Emmanuel Sanders less than 15 seconds later. San Francisco outscored New Orleans 14-7 for the rest of the quarter, thanks to two Raheem Mostert TD's. They entered the locker room at halftime with a 28-27 lead thanks to an early failed 2-pt conversion by the Saints.
Emmanuel Sanders finished with 157 yards and a TD on seven catches. He also threw one pass for a 35-yard TD. Raheem Mostert finished with 109 total yards, a rushing and a receiving TD on just 12 touches. Deebo Samuel finished with 109 total yards on seven touches. Kendrick Bourne caught two TD's on three catches. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for a massive 349 yards and four TD's. But make no mistake, George Kittle was the 49ers MVP of this game.
The third quarter began with another lead change as Wil Lutz (fantasy football's highest scoring kicker) converted from 55 yards out. But as the Niners drove back down the field, it was Kittle who powered his way in to the end-zone to reclaim their lead. But it wasn't a lead they would hold for very long.
The Saints rallied to score two fourth quarter TD's (both Brees passing TD's) to put them up 46-45. With less than a minute left, on fourth and two, when they needed it most, Kittle delivered.
The former Iowa TE picked up 39 yards on a short dump-off, and while dragging four defenders with him, drew a face-mask penalty which added an extra 15 yards on to the play. By sheer force of will, and a bit of luck, Kittle set them up just 30 yards away from the game-winning field goal. A field goal that 49ers kicker Robbie Gould ended up nailing.
So despite a monstrous performance from Brees (349 yards, six total TD's, no turnovers, 40 fantasy points), Michael Thomas (11 catches, 134 yards, one TD, 30.4 fantasy points), Jared Cook (64 yards, two TD's, and 20.4 fantasy points on his first two catches before exiting with a concussion), the Saints could not pull off a victory.
The two missed two-point conversions proved to be fatal for New Orleans as they fell 46-48. If this game had been tied and gone to overtime, I firmly believe whoever got the ball first would have won. But I guess we'll never know since the game of the year ended in the final seconds of regulation time.
It was puzzling though, that in a game that was so heavily offensive (Saints and 49ers D/ST, the number two and number five scoring fantasy D/ST's, combined for -14 points) Alvin Kamara was held to pedestrian totals (17 touches, 43 total yards, season-low 6.3 fantasy points).
It adds to the disappointing slide Kamara has been on, well, most of the season. He has not found the end-zone since he did so on the ground and through the air against Seattle in week three. He has not had over 50 receiving yards in any game since then. He has just one game with over 20 PPR points since then as well. He has not rushed for more than 75 yards since week one. After being selected as a consensus top-three RB this season, Kamara sits as just RB11 after putting up his latest dud in week 14.
The Saints will look to continue their offensive success, hopefully translating it to a win (and some fantasy points for Kamara) in week 15 against the Colts. Meanwhile, the Niners are riding high, on their way to a first-round bye after the formerly division-leading Seahawks fell to the Rams on SNF. Next up for SanFran is a matchup with the suddenly resurgent Atlanta Falcons. Whatever the case, it will be nearly impossible for both teams to put forth a more entertaining game than they did in week 14.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle scores a touchdown in front of New Orleans Saints linebacker Craig Robertson during Sunday’s game. (Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)
2. Jets prevail in a battle of the field goals
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we had the pleasure of watching a field goal-off between the Jets and Dolphins in week 14.
It was a game that saw ten total field goals find their way through the uprights. The second half featured a scintillating six field goals and zero TD's.
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders actually set the franchise record for most field goals made in a single game in this one. The Dolphins scored 21 points in week 14, but it wasn't thanks to three TD's. Instead, they got there with seven mothaf@#$in' field goals. An absolute spectacle to behold.
This week, Sanders finished with more fantasy points (23) than Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson, Lamar Jackson, Dalvin Cook, George Kittle, and Patrick Mahomes, to name a few.
But in the end, it was the Jets who prevailed thanks to some field goal heroics of their own. The Jets put two TD's on the board in the second quarter, so despite being out field-goaled 7-3 by Miami, New York ended up with a 22-21 victory thanks to a last-second 44-yarder by 'Kickin' Sam Ficken. I personally couldn't think of a more fitting finish to such a brilliantly exciting football game. (If you haven't picked up on the sarcasm by now, allow me to make it obvious...)
3. Joe Mixon finally breaks out
In week 14, Joe Mixon finished with 186 total yards and one TD on 26 touches for a season-high 27.6 fantasy points. All I can say is: it's about damn time.
But I guess this isn't completely out of nowhere. Since his week nine bye, Mixon has been on a bit of a tear, averaging 17.4 PPG over the last five weeks. It doesn't sound like much, but it is a vast improvement compared to the 10 PPG he averaged in weeks 1-8.
After recording zero 100+ yard rushing games and zero rushing TD's weeks 1-8, Mixon has now finished with 100+ yards rushing twice, and has scored three rushing TD's in his last five games.
This uptick in production can likely be attributed to an increase in volume. Before his bye week, Mixon averaged just 15 touches per game. Since then, he averages 23 per game. The results speak for themselves. When he gets the touches, he produces.
Next up is a scary week 15 matchup with the Patriots where Mixon will no doubt be the focal point of New Englands defensive game plan. After that? Miami and Cleveland... again.
If you stuck with Mixon, your patience is about to be rewarded. If you were savvy enough to trade for him for cheap while he was in a slump, kudos to you.
4. Is Drew Lock a thing?
Drew Lock in the first half against the Texans, week 14: 16-19, 235 yards, three TD's.
Tom Brady in the first half against the Texans, week 13: 7-19, 82 yards, one INT.
Soooo... Drew Lock is better than Tom Brady, right? Well... Maybe not yet. But Lock certainly made a case for himself as Denver's franchise QB on Sunday as the Broncos got off to a 38-3 start against Houston, a team that had most recently defeated the New England Patriots.
Lock finished 22-27 with 309 yards and three TD's. He didn't do a whole lot in the second half because he didn't really need to. Instead, the Broncos worked the clock for the entire second half in order to secure their victory.
Courtland Sutton underwhelmed in an easy matchup after going off the week before. He led the team in receptions (5) but finished with just 34 yards. Noah Fant, however, despite catching just one pass for seven yards in Lock's debut, finished with 113 yards and a TD on four catches in week 14. It was Fant's second game with over 100 yards since Flacco was shut down in week eight, and his third game with a TD this season.
If Fant were ever to receive consistent volume, I'd consider him as a top-ten fantasy TE. I believe he has that type of speed/play-making ability. But playing with three QB's this season he has received more than five targets in a game just twice.
What I'm trying to say is, Lock appears to be trustworthy in fantasy if the matchup is right. Fant, on the other hand, I'd say pump the breaks. At least for now.
5. Chargers offense delivers in blowout win
In week 14, nearly every player on the Chargers offense came through. Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams found the endzone. Phillip Rivers finished with a season-high 24.6 fantasy points and exited the game before the fourth quarter had begun. The only player that seemed to be left out? Keenan Allen.
Allen led the team with five receptions in week 14, and finished with 83 yards. But in a game where the Chargers put up 45 points, Allen accounted for zero TD's. Mike Williams caught his first TD of the season (finally). Derek Watt scored a goal-line TD. Heck, even Tyrod Taylor threw a TD. So what gives?
In all likelihood, it was a product of game script and nothing more. Still, with three consecutive games of over 16 fantasy points, expectations for Allen were high in what's been a disappointing season overall.
But the real story of this one wasn't Allen's lack of scoring, but rather Ekeler's insane efficiency.
In week 14, Ekeler finished with 101 rushing yards on eight carries as well as 112 yards and a TD on four catches (31.3 fantasy points). In other words, 213 total yards on 12 touches. That's 17.7 yards per touch, which is just unbelievable. Ekeler has gone 128 targets without dropping a pass this season. He is on pace to become just the fourth RB to finish with over 1,000 receiving yards in the modern era of the NFL (nugget courtesy of Field Yates).
Anyone who has had the pleasure of owning Ekeler this year knows he was a tremendous value, with an ADP of 48 overall (round five). Melvin Gordon owners, however might not feel as loving of Ekeler as Gordon is averaging 7.5 points per game less than he did last season. Whatever the case, if you own anybody on the Chargers offense, you left week 14 feeling satisfied.
6. Julio/Mahomes/Wilson continue to slide
You've heard me mention how Kamara has been in a bit of a slump, but he isn't the only fantasy star that maintained their recent downward trend in week 14.
Russell Wilson, after averaging 24.1 points per game weeks 1-10, is averaging just 12.3 in his last three, including two games with 10.6 or less. He has failed to top 245 passing yards or score more than two TD's in a game since week nine. Since then he has a TD:INT ratio of 4:4. Since beginning the season as an MVP frontrunner, Wilson's pace has slowed down significantly.
Patrick Mahomes, another player who was at one point leading the race for MVP, has also seen his pace decline. After throwing for over 300 yards in each of his first five games this season, he has done so just once since then. He has failed to throw for multiple TD's, and is averaging just 213 passing YPG/16.2 fantasy PPG over his last three games.
Julio Jones, a player I once had listed next to Mahomes as players too obvious to be listed in any weekly Starts/Sits, has been very quiet recently as well. He has no less than 66 yards in his last four, which is impressive, but it's not exactly translating to fantasy points. Since his week nine bye, Julio is averaging 12.2 fantasy PPG. He's fallen all the way down to WR15 on the season.
It's anyones guess as to why these stars have not been performing like we are used to them performing. For Mahomes and Wilson, it's hard to predict when/if they turn it around in time. For Julio, a brighter future may be ahead sooner rather than later.
Falcons second-year star WR Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the rest of the season. In recent weeks, it has been the Ridley Show (averaging 21.5 fantasy PPG over the last four weeks). With Ridley out, I expect Julio to pick up the slack and then some. It has been a while since Jones has erupted. Too long, if you ask me. The way I see it, It's only a matter of time.
7. Ravens trump Bills as Lamar Jackson closes in on QB rushing record
The Ravens D/ST proved their worth yet again, scoring 11 points in a tough matchup with the Bills. They now have double-digit fantasy points in six of their last seven games. They held QB Josh Allen to his second-lowest fantasy total of the season (10.6). The Ravens are the first team to hold Allen under 50 rushing yards or without a rushing score since week eight.
Baltimore is the now only team to hold Bills WR John Brown to less than 9.5 PPR points this season.
Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary, however, seemed to avoid suffering from this tough matchup as he picked up 118 total yards on 23 touches (17.8 fantasy points). Instead, Mark Ingram was the RB who found it difficult to score points in this week 14 battle of AFC contenders. Ingram finished with 79 yards on 18 touches (just 10.9 PPR points).
Lamar Jackson had a modest fantasy day (by his standards) throwing for three TD's but just 145 yards. He also rushed for 40 yards and finished with his second-lowest scoring game of the season, 19.8 points. Yes, you read that correctly. Jackson has a single game with less than 19.8 points this year. That's how exceptional he's been.
His 40 yards on the ground were enough for him to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. He is the first QB since Michael Vick to do so. Barring some sort of injury or complete drop-off of production, Jackson will break the single-season rushing record for a QB (1,039 yards) held by Michael Vick. My guess is, he gets it done next week.
8. AJ Brown has career-game against Raiders
Ryan Tannehill and the Titans continue to blaze through the competition. Since Tannehill took over as the starter in Tennessee, they are 6-1. But the fact that the former college WR finished 21-27 for 391 yards, three TD's and 27.5 fantasy points wasn't the real story here. It was rookie WR AJ Brown.
The explosive rookie's big-play ability was on full display yet again in week 14 as he took an early second quarter pass from Tannehill 91 yards to the house. Brown finished with 151 yards and two TD's on just five catches (33.6 points). He also took one carry for 13 yards. Emmanuel Sanders was the only WR to outscore Brown in week 14.
I personally believe in his talent, and I think he can be special. Despite having just two games with five or more catches this season, Brown now has four games with over 93 yards. That's pretty ridiculous. The only problem with that is he's not receiving consistent enough volume for me to have confidence starting him each week. By the grace of the fantasy gods I was forced to start him this week in a deeper league, and it payed off. But I don't see him achieving these numbers consistently unless he is more involved in the Titans game-plan going forward.
Even after that humongous week 14 performance, he is averaging just 4.6 targets per game. He has received no more than eight targets in any game. Although he has prevailed a few times this season, you'll basically be rolling the dice on wether or not he scores a huge TD if you decide to start him.
I may have to roll him out again in week 15 but that doesn't mean I have to be confident about it. Like anyone else who uses him in fantasy, I will be banking on a huge play.
9. Derrick Henry making a case as NFL's best RB
It wasn't all Tannehill and AJ Brown in the Titans 42-21 win over the Raiders. Derrick Henry, once again, dominated on the ground.
Henry finished with 109 yards and two TD's on 19 touches (23.9 fantasy points). It was his fourth game in a row with over 100 rushing yards. It was his fifth game in a row with over 23 fantasy points. It was the fourth time in his last five games that he finished with multiple TD's.
The only RB that has played as dominantly as Henry has in his last five games this season that comes to mind is Christian McCaffery. Last season, nobody scored more points during the fantasy playoffs than Derrick Henry. Already off to a 23.9-point start, he looks like he is ready to do the same this year.
In a year where McCaffery and Dalvin Cook have paced the position in points, don't sleep on Henry to finish as a top-two scorer.
10. Cousins/Cook/Rudolph underwhelm in easy matchup with Lions
In what looked like a dream matchup with the Lions atrocious excuse for a defense, the Vikings came up short... At least in fantasy, Last time these two teams mets this season there was a combined 72 points scored. Kirk Cousins tossed four TD's and dropped a season-high 29.4 points, Kyle Rudolph benefitted, catching five passes for 51 yards and a TD, while Dalvin Cook went off for 152 total yards and two TD's. This time, it was a different story.
The Vikings won, but the final score ended just 20-7. QB 'Start of the Week' Cousins threw just one TD in the contest and finished with 13.6 fantasy points, his lowest total since week eight. Rudolph finished with just two catches for 11 yards (3.1 fantasy points, his lowest fantasy total since week five) and failed to find the end-zone for the first time in his last five games. This time around, Cook finished with just 85 yards and a TD on 20 touches (15.5 fantasy points).
It was not the game most fantasy managers anticipated from these Minnesota studs, especially in the first round of the fantasy playoffs, but I wouldn't take is as a warning of things to come. The Vikings should have more competitive games going forward where they will be forced to score to keep up (week 15 vs Chargers, week 16 vs Packers). Instead, I expect this game was nothing but a blip on the radar for Minnesota's offense... At least, I hope it was.
1. Lamar Jackson breaks another record
On Sunday, not only did Lamar Jackson earn his tenth win of the season against the previously top-ranked 49ers, helping the Ravens claim the top spot in the power rankings, he also broke yet another NFL record.
In week 13, Jackson became the first player to record four double-triples in a season. That's four games where he finished with over 100 yards (triple digits) in two stat categories. In classic fashion, Jackson got it done by rushing and passing. He finished with 101 yards on the ground and 105 yards through the air. He also recorded his seventh rushing and 25th passing TD of the season.
Jackson's previous three double-triples came in week two against Arizona (272 passing, 120 rushing... Also a record for first player to throw for 250+ and rush for 120+ in a single game), week six against Cincinatti (236 passing, 152 rushing... Probably another record), and week seven against Seattle (143 passing, 116 rushing).
As the accolades continue to pile up, we must make sure we don't take Jackson for granted. We are witnessing, perhaps the greatest single season by a QB, or any player for that matter, in NFL history.
Of course Jackson was already an elite rusher, but there were questions about his ability as a passer entering this season. Now that he is leading the league with 25 touchdown passes, only one question remains. How high can Lamar Jackson really fly?
Jackson scoots his way in to the end-zone with ease against the 49ers top ranked defense. Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
2. Is Raheem Mostert the 49ers RB1?
RB 'Sit of the Week' Tevin Coleman went for just 15 yards on six touches in Sunday's matchup with the Ravens. It's no surprise Coleman has been trending down recently, but the opposite has been the case for his teammate Raheem Mostert.
If you scroll back far enough, to the top-10 takeaways I wrote after week two, you'll see I had a section titled, "The 49ers backfield is an enigma". In that very segment, I included my sentiment that I wasn't convinced Mostert wasn't the 49ers best back. Although he hadn't seen much action in his first six years in the league, I have seen flashes of some major talent these past two years. He finally got an opportunity to put it on full display in week 13.
Mostert received a career-high 19 carries against the Ravens, and it paid dividends. He finished with 146 yards rushing, and added two catches for eight yards. His 7.7 YPC on the day was impressive, but what's more impressive is that Mostert boasts a career average of 6.3 YPC on 133 career carries. It's fair to wonder, why doesn't this guy get the ball this often every game?
Mostert averages just 6.6 carries per game over the past two seasons. Every time he has received 10 or more carries in his career, he has finished with 79 rushing yards or more.
So, has Kyle Shanahan finally figured out that Mostert can be their workhorse? Does this mean he'll be the 49ers lead back from here on out?Unfortunately, I doubt it.
Matt Breida will soon return from injury and his presence will certainly murk the backfield situation up. Despite his recent lack of efficiency, Tevin Coleman will surely be forcefully integrated as well. Add in a little Jeff Wilson Jr. around the goal line and you're looking at the same enigma of a backfield I warned you about earlier this season.
I know how it looks, and I certainly wouldn't blame you for rolling out Mostert next week. The numbers speak for themselves. Heck, if it was me coaching the 49ers, I would be giving him 20 carries every game. But I'm not the head coach, so I have to watch the roll coaster ride of the 49ers backfield continue, just like everyone else.
3. Eagles fall apart in upset loss to Dolphins
So apparently, the Eagles defense is good against good teams (no more than 17 points allowed to Buffalo, Seattle, or New England in weeks 8-12), but they are bad against bad teams (surrendered 37 to Miami Dolphins, more than they allowed to their previous two opponents, the Patriots and the Seahawks, combined).
It didn't matter that Wentz had his best game since week one (310 yards, three TD's), Alshon Jeffery had his best game of the season (nine catches, 137 yards, one TD) and Miles Sanders proved to be effective in a feature back role (22 touches for 105 total yards and one TD), because the Eagles defense couldn't stop, well, anyone.
Despite entering halftime with a 21-14 lead, the Eagles were outscored in the second half, 23-10. This was thanks mostly to the fact the Eagles secondary had Devante Parker looking like Randy Moss out there (seven catches, 159 yards, two TD's). But it wasn't just Parker, they also allowed a kicker to catch a TD pass from a punter... Yes, you read that correctly. It's the first time any defense has allowed such a thing to happen in NFL history.
On a side note: Devante Parker should be locked-in to all lineups until further notice.
Despite the Eagles entering this week ranked number one against TE's over the last four weeks, Mike Gesicki was able to put forth his best all-around performance of the season with five catches for 79 yards and a TD. It was just Gesicki's second game with more than four catches, his second game with more than 51 yards, and just the second time he found the endzone this season. Meanwhile, top-five TE Zach Ertz was held to 24 yards on three catches against a Miami team surrendering the 12th-most points to his position, but don't get me started on that.
The only area the Eagles could find success defensively was against the run. They allowed a total of 58 rushing yards to the Dolphins as a team.
Just to be clear, the Eagles entered this week allowing the second-least points to QB's, the fifth-least points to WR's an THE least points to tight ends, while allowing the tenth-most points to RB's over the past four weeks. One game against the Dolphins, and they completely reverted the exact opposite. They went back to what we knew them as before, a team that could not cover a pass to save their lives, but could effectively stop the run game.
Let's take a look inside the mind of the Eagles defense:
"Second-least points allowed to QB's? Better correct that by allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to drop 28.3 fantasy points. Fifth-least points to WR's? That doesn't sound like us... Might as well give Devante Parker 36.4 PPR points. THE least points allowed to TE's? I know! Let's allow Mike Gesicki to have the most complete game of his career! As long as we can get back to only stopping the run... and nothing else. Then we'll be the Eagles again. That'll do it."
Although the Eagles defense HAD been playing really good football, and the Dolphins were (and still are) giving up the second-most points to fantasy D/ST's this season, the D/ST 'Start of the Week' for week 13 finished with negative one fantasy points.
You could not have imagined this game being more of a disaster for Philadelphia than it was. Oddly enough however, they can still win their division. Not that they deserve to, but they can. In weeks 14-17 the Eagles have four straight division matchups. Assuming they can put this embarrassing loss to Miami behind them, they just might make it in to the 2019 post-season.
4. Bengals get their first win against the enigmatic Jets
Speaking of embarrassing losses that make no sense, how bout them Jets?
New York came in to their week 13 tilt against the Bengals red-hot. They entered week 13 with three straight games of 34 points scored. Their D/ST finished with double-digit fantasy points in three straight as well. They found themselves matched up with the 32nd ranked, 0-11 Cincinatti Bengals. The way the Jets have been playing, no way they'd lose their easiest game of the season... Right?
If being a Jets fan for the last 15 years or so has taught me anything, it's that you can never underestimate their ability to lose a game.
QB 'Start of the Week' Sam Darnold, despite scoring nine total TD's in his last three games, failed to find the end-zone as the Jets mustered just six points against a Bengals team giving up the seventh-most points to opposing offenses this season.
As a team, the Jets failed to generate 300 yards of offense against a 31st ranked Bengals defense allowing the second-most yards to opposing teams this season.
Their D/ST, despite averaging 15.3 fantasy points over their last three games, finished with just three points against a team allowing an average of 11.0 to fantasy D/ST's this year.
But hey, the Jets gave the Dolphins their first win of the year. It's only right they give the Bengals their first win too. After all, we can't have other teams out there thinking they're worse than us...
I could sit here and blame Gase, Darnold, the Jets non-existent pass rush, the fact Le'Veon Bell has yet to rush for 100 yards this season, or the fact the secondary couldn't cover a hot pocket with a tarp. But I'd rather just put a bag over my head and root for an NFC team for the rest of the year... Now seems like a good time to hop on the Saints bandwagon.
5. Derrius Guice and AP average a combined 9.9 YPC in win over Panthers
We knew the Panthers run defense was bad, but in week 13, they took things to an entirely new level.
Carolina struggled to contain the Redskins (THE lowest scoring team in football) allowing them to finish with 29 points... It was their highest scoring game of the season.
It sounds like a joke, considering rookie QB Dwayne Haskins has looked like the least effective QB I've ever seen play for this long in the NFL. In fact, If you remove a 119-yard, 2 TD garbage-time fourth quarter against the Jets, Haskins averages just 32 passing yards per quarter this season. If you remove that quarter, Haskins has six interceptions, and zero TD's in 2019. Fortunately for the Skins, they were playing a team that is so bad against the run, they hardly needed to let Haskins throw.
The Panthers weakness as the worst run defense in the league was fully exposed on Sunday as AP and Derrius Guice imposed their will all afternoon. The duo finished with a combined 223 yards and three TD's on 23 carries (9.9 YPC).
Guice has looked explosive in limited action this season, and AP is, well, AP. But I'm willing to bet even David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen (possibly the least efficient backfield duo in the NFL) could have had this much success against the Panthers.
Carolina is currently surrendering a league-high 5.3 YPC this season. They've also allowed a league-high 22 rushing TD's... They still have Luke Kuechly, right? Okay, just checking.
6. Ronald Jones face-plants in easy matchup against the Jags
As long as we're on the subject of bad run defenses... The Jaguars are second only to the Panthers this season in average YPC (5.1) and rushing TD's allowed (17).
The week before, Derrick Henry lit them up, finishing with 159 yards and two TD's on just 19 carries. That same week, Ronald Jones led the Buccaneers backfield in snaps and touches, averaging 4.4 yards per touch, scoring a short TD and delivering 15.7 fantasy points. So naturally, given the matchup, it made sense for Jones to break out here.
Matthew Berry included Jones on the 'Love' list. Heck, even IBM Watson was high on Jones this week in what should have been a dream matchup with Jacksonville. But then again, the NFL didn't seem to be in the habit of making much sense this week, did it?
Jones finished the game with eight carries for just six yards (0.6 fantasy points). Instead, it was practice-squad caliber RB Peyton Barber who the Bucs rode in this one. Jones owners watched in horror as Barber galloped his way to two TD's and a two-point conversion before the half.
As perplexing as it was watching Barber (who has been less efficient than Jones all season) receive the majority of the workload, watching third-string RB Dare Ogunbowale touch the ball in the red-zone before Ro-Jo did was even equally confusing and slightly more infuriating.
If you played Jones and want to be angered even further, I'll share with you this nugget: After Barber scored from 15 yards out on his first carry, he picked up 29 yards on his next 16 carries (1.8 YPC)... So, there's that.
I just personally don't understand why they'd feature Barber (a player that has a career average of 3.7 YPC, is averaging 3.2 this season and finished with just 871 rush yards in 16 games as the Bucs RB1 last year) rather than allow their young, explosive and well-rounded second year RB to flourish as a lead back.
It's clear Bruce Arians doesn't care about your fantasy team, and likely never will. But it doesn't take a genius to see that Ronald Jones is by far the best running back the Buccaneers have. Maybe someone should tell that to Bruce.
7. Rams offense returns to form
In week 13, the Rams offense looked like the 2018 version of themselves.
Things have been disappointing in LA this season. The juggernaut Rams that made their way to the SuperBowl last season, averaging 32.9 points per game, have been nowhere to be found at times this season. Last year, Todd Gurley earned the title of fantasy football MVP after he accumulated 1,800+ yards and scored 21 total TD's. This year, Gurley will be lucky to crack 1,000 total yards. Robert Woods who was by far the Rams most consistent pass catcher last season, has finished with less then 10.0 PPR points in five of his 12 games this season after doing so just once in 2018. Jared Goff finished with 32 touchdown passes last season. Through 12 games this year, he doesn't even have half of that.
But in week 13, the Rams returned to form. All it took was a matchup with the 32nd ranked Cardinals defense.
Goff looked sharp, throwing for a monstrous 424 yards and two TD's as he finished with a season-high 25 fantasy points. WR 'Start of the Week' Robert Woods led the way, catching a ridiculous 13 passes for 172 yards (30.2 PPR points). Todd Gurley also looked like his former self, finishing with 115 yards and a TD on 20 touches. His day would have been even bigger if he hadn't had a vintage 20-yard Gurley TD called back because of holding. Even Cooper Kupp, formerly fantasy football's highest scoring WR, finished with over 18 PPR points and scored a TD for the first time since week eight. The question is, can you trust the Rams to keep it up?
Unfortunately, they can't play the Cardinals every week, but they will face them once more by the end of the season. But before that they have matchups with Dallas and San Francisco. Sure, they looked elite in week 13. But, given the up and down nature of their season, I'm not ready to bestow weekly elite status upon them just yet.
8. Courtland Sutton is QB-proof
Courtland Sutton has now caught passes from three different QB's. Each time it has looked worse on paper, but not to Sutton.
He goes from Joe Flacco, a former SuperBowl winning QB (who Sutton averaged 14.7 PPR points per game with), to Brandon Allen, a player that has been in the league for four years but has never played a regular season snap. His first two games with Allen, Sutton averaged 18 points per game.
Allen was benched after an abysmal showing in week 12, opening the door up for rookie QB Drew Lock. One would assume a rookie QB playing against a top-four team in terms of yards allowed, would struggle to find the endzone. Yet, that was not the case as Lock tossed two wildly impressive TD's to Sutton in the first half of this week 13 AFC West matchup.
Sutton finished with 23.4 PPR points, his second highest total this season. It is a small sample size, but could it be that Sutton has found his favorite tosser of the rock yet? He only caught four passes in week 13, but out of the five times he's caught four passes or less this season, he has finished with less than 8.0 PPR points just once.
Whatever the case is, Sutton has earned WR2 status, regardless of his QB. In the fantasy playoffs, he will face Houston, Detroit and Oakland, all bottom-15 defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to WR's this season.
9. Phillip Rivers can't catch a break
Not to be insensitive, but Philip Rivers couldn't catch a break if it was raining breaks and he had a catchers mitt the size of Manhattan... Since 2015, Rivers and the Chargers have lost 32 games by one possession, by far the most by any player or team. The worst part about it? Most of the time, it's not even Philliam's fault.
It seems like more often than not, the Chargers have to drive their way down the field in the final two minutes of the game. Rivers has led more would-be comebacks than I can count in these situations. But despite tying the game or taking the lead most of these times, the Chargers still find a way to lose, whether it be on defense, special teams, or by being on the wrong end of a costly penalty. Rarely, if ever, is it directly Rivers's fault.
Although they lost yet another close one, this game wasn't a total waste. There were some important fantasy takeaways, especially for the Chargers offense.
For the first time this season, Keenan Allen has back to back games with at least six catches, 68 yards and a TD. It is the first time he has recorded at least six catches and 68 yards three weeks in a row since his dominant stretch in weeks 1-3. Over his last three games, Allen is averaging 18.8 fantasy PPG. He is heating up at the perfect time as we approach the fantasy football playoffs.
But it's not just Allen who is trending up. Melvin Gordon delivered another workhorse performance in week 13, racking up 110 total yards on 22 touches. Gordon earned 99 yards on 20 carries, looking like his former matchup-proof self against a tough Broncos run defense. Gordon is now averaging 17.8 fantasy PPG over his last four games, and perhaps most importantly, is proving he and Austin Ekeler can co-exist. Next up they will face a Jaguars defense giving up the second-most yards per carry (5.1) and the second-most rushing TD's (17) this season.
Although the Chargers can't seem to win any games for themselves in real life, their players can certainly win you some in fantasy in the coming weeks...
10. The Stache returns
The Jaguars gave the people what they wanted in week 13, benching Nick Foles for Gardner Minshew to begin the second half.
Jags fans likely would have appreciated this decision being made earlier, as Foles had already turned the ball over three times and the Bucs had built up a 25-0 lead by halftime, but they appreciated it nonetheless.
Minshew could not complete the comeback attempt against Tampa, but with him at the reigns, the Jags outscored the Buccaneers 11-3 in the second half. It's wasn't much, but it was honest work.
One could understand the Jags decision to start a healthy Foles. After all, they just paid him big money to be their guy. But after watching the two play this season, it's clear the Stache gives them the best chance to win.
As a starter, Minshew was just 4-4, but the Jaguars lost by seven points or less in three of those four losses. When Foles starts, the Jaguars are 0-4 and it's not even close.
Since he returned, the Jaguars average 14.6 points per game with Foles, a full 6.8 points less than the 21.4 they averaged with Minshew under center.
To the joy of all NFL fans, Minshew already has been named the starter for week 14 against the Chargers. And if the Jaguars are smart, this time they'll keep him there.
1. Christian McCaffery/Michael Thomas: Best fantasy players in NFL history ?
It's time to stop and smell the roses because, this season, we're witnessing history. And no, this time I'm not talking about Lamar Jackson or the Patriots defense. I'm talking about, possibly, the greatest single-season by a running back AND a wide receiver of all time.
First, let's talk Michael Thomas. The Saints WR1 has no less than 16.4 PPR points in any game this season. He has no less than 101 receiving yards or 22.1 PPR points since week six. This season, Thomas has more games above 22.1 points than he has games below that. He is averaging 23.9 PPG, just .1 point per game less than 2007 Randy Moss (the record setting 23 receiving TD's in a single-season Randy Moss).
If he keeps his current pace, he'll finish just 3.0 PPR points shy of 2007 Randy Moss. That doesn't sound right considering, as of now, Thomas has 17 less TD's than Moss (which would equal an extra 102 points), BUT... He's on his way to finishing with 53 more catches and 308 more yards. He will likely close the TD gap (to some degree) before it's all said and done as well.
If Thomas keeps his pace for receptions/yards and scores seven TD's between now and the end of the 2019 season (giving him 13 total), he will officially be the second-highest scoring fantasy WR in NFL history. His totals would place him just 8.4 points shy of Jerry Rice, who finished with 396.8 PPR points in 1995. Rice did that in his tenth NFL season. This is Thomas's fourth.
So far, Thomas has only one game with less than eight catches this season. He is on pace to set the record for most receptions in a single season (held by Marvin Harrison with 143). He is averaging a ridiculous 9.4 catches per game. If he keeps his current pace, he'll beat the record by eight catches (151).
Sure, one could attribute it to the fact that his QB, Drew Brees, is perhaps the most reliable QB there ever was. But the most impressive part of what Thomas has done this year is that he played the majority of this season with Teddy Bridgewater throwing him the ball!
His performance through 11 games this season has been nothing short of incredible. It's safe to say the sky is the limit for the former third-round pick. But even Thomas would struggle to achieve the most fantasy points by a non-QB in NFL history. However, there is another player who is flirting with such numbers this season...
Christian McCaffery is currently averaging 30.6 PPR PPG in 2019. This season, he has more games above 30.1 PPR points than he has games below that. McCaffery already has 16 total TD's this season. Assuming he keeps his current pace, he will claim the title of the highest scoring fantasy season in NFL history. LaDainian Tomlinson holds the record with 482.5 points, thanks to a record setting 31 all purpose TD's. McCaffery is on pace to outscore him by 7.1 points.
This pace is insanely impressive, especially considering he was held to just 7.3 points back in week two.
McCaffery hasn't scored less than 26.1 points since week six. He already has 1,709 yards from scrimmage and is averaging 155 per game. Assuming he keeps this pace, he will finish with 2,485 total yards. That would be the second-most total yards by a non-QB in NFL history (2009 Chris Johnson: 2,509).
This season, McCaffery has five games with multiple trips to the end-zone. He has two games with more than 200 all-purpose yards. He scored over 42 PPR points in both those games. It's safe to say he's the only non-QB who can say either of those things this season.
Of course Lamar Jackson is the front runner for MVP, but McCaffery is right up there with him. Without Cam Newton, he has been the unquestioned offensive leader for the Panthers. He is the very definition of his teams most valuable player. Without him, the Panthers might have only one win in 2019.
McCaffery's touchdowns have made the difference in four of Carolina's five wins this season.
Whatever the case, if you own Thomas or McCaffery this season, chances are you are well on your way to the fantasy playoffs. And if you own both... God help the rest of your league.
Michael Thomas and Christian McCaffery both find the endzone in a thrilling week 11 game that was decided by a last second field goal. Photo's courtesy of CBSsports.com
2. DJ Moore is a top-10 receiver
Over the past four weeks, DJ Moore has filled the shoes of a fantasy WR1. In week 12, it all came together. He came out hot against the Saints, scoring a 51-yard TD on his first catch. Moore finished with a season-high 126 yards, two TD's and 31.4 points on six catches.
In his last four games, Moore has 30 catches 442 yards and two TD's. He has no less than 98 yards or 17.1 PPR points in a game since week eight. In fact, Moore has finished with less than 12.6 PPR points just twice this season. In his last seven games, he has 72 targets.
It has been brewing for a while, but the past four games have been a dealbreaker. If Moore can build on his TD production from last week, his status as a top-10 fantasy WR will be solidified. Hopefully you got him for WR2 price while you still could...
His next two games will be against the Redskins and Falcons. According to FantasyPros, Moore actually has the sixth-easiest remaining schedule among all NFL WR's. So yeah... I'm all in.
3. Is Baker Mayfield back?
The Browns offense FINALLY played to their potential in week 12, all it took was a game against the Dolphins. Former Offensive Rookie of the Year Baker Mayfield enjoyed his best game of the season in week 12. He threw for 327 yards and three TD's (his first game with three passing TD's this season), and finished with a season-high 23.6 points.
The offense was firing on all cylinders as Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham and Mayfield all finished with 20 PPR points. Impressive, but then again... Who hasn't had their best game of the year against Miami this season? I can certainly name a few... Which begs the question; was it a fluke, or is Baker Mayfield back?
I am of the firm belief that Mayfield is on the cusp of a roaring comeback. Here's why: over the past four weeks, Mayfield has no less than 17.1 points in any game. Sure, one of those games was against the Dolphins, but the other three? The Broncos at Mile-High, at home against the Bills, and a primetime matchup with the Steelers. Those are three VERY tough matchups that Mayfield has played admirably in. Over that span, he boasts an 8:1 TD-INT ratio.
Mayfield has now thrown multiple TD's in three straight games, something he failed to do in his first eight. He has back to back weeks with three total TD's and over 21 fantasy points, also something he hadn't achieved yet.
So, if you ask me, I'm thinking Mayfield is back, and more importantly, can be trusted in fantasy again. He seems to have matured a bit and he's playing like it. After next week's game against the Steelers (who he beat for 21.8 points two weeks ago) he gets to play the Cardinals and the Bengals twice... If you can find a schedule that sounds friendlier than that, you let me know.
4. Eagles defense is heating up
I know how this is going to sound, but the Eagles defense, believe it or not, is not terrible. In fact, they've been playing pretty damn good. Dare I say... Elite?
Elite may be an overstatement, but one could definitely make the argument.
Hear me out. Last week, I was hard pressed for a streaming defense, so I dived deep into the research, possibly deeper than I ever have before. And what I turned up, the best available defense was... The Eagles?
"It can't be," I said. "Against Seattle? I must be crazy."
Turns out I was crazier to think the Broncos D/ST could score positive points against Josh Allen and the Bills.
The Eagles, surprisingly enough, finished with 11 fantasy points against the Seahawks in week 12. Philly held Russell Wilson to just 200 yards passing. They forced Wilson to turn the ball over multiple times, the first time he's done that in a game this season. But it's not just the Seahawks they've suffocated recently.
Over the past four weeks, the Eagles have allowed no more than 17 points in a game. Including against New England and Buffalo. It is a huge turn around after they began the season allowing an average of 30 points per game weeks 1-7 (if you exclude a week five matchup with the Luke Falk-led Jets).
During this resurgent span, the Eagles have allowed the second-least fantasy points to QB's, the fifth-least points to WR's (trust me, I didn't make that up), and THE least points to tight ends. They've also accumulated 14 sacks, four turnovers and a blocked kick.
According to FantasyPros, the Eagles have the fourth-easiest remaining schedule among all NFL defenses. They play Miami next week. They have two matchups with Giants and one against the Redskins in the fantasy playoffs. I never thought I'd say this, but the Eagles defense could be a league winner.
5. Ryan Tannehill... A top-10 QB?
Speaking of a league winner... I'm going to go ahead and answer my own question by saying yes, I do believe Tannehill is currently a top-10 QB. After a 32.4 point performance against the Jags in week 12, I'm convinced.
Here is a list of QB's that have outscored Tannehill in fantasy since he took over as the starter for the Titans:
- Lamar Jackson
...That's the whole list.
Weird right? Most of us wrote him off as kind of a lame NFL QB after he fizzled out in Miami. But I guess it'd be fair to say that not even Aaron Rodgers could save that team. However, a little change of scenery and Tannehill is thriving.
He has multiple TD's and no less than 18.9 points in any game he's started this season. He has three straight games with at least 37 rushing yards and has picked up three rushing TD's in those three games.
Tannehill is currently averaging 22.5 PPG.
According to FantasyPros (can you tell I like using them?) Tannehill has the second-easiest remaining schedule for a QB this season. He needs to be added if he's still available in your league.
6. Bo Scarbrough is a workhorse
Despite scoring just 7.8 points in week 12, Bo Scarbrough looked the part of a workhorse back. He finished with 98 yards on 18 carries (5.4 YPC) against the Redskins. He did lose a fumble, and still has yet to make any sort of impact in the receiving game, but he is by far the Lions most effective rusher.
Scarbrough was a stud at Alabama, so this doesn't come as a huge surprise. If anything, it was a surprise to see him fall all the way to the seventh round of the NFL draft, but I digress. Scrabrough has looked very solid, but as much as I like his talent, I'd advise fantasy owners to beware.
He has a very threatening upcoming schedule, including games against Chicago, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Denver. According to FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics the Lions have the fifth-toughest remaining schedule for an RB. He has passed the eye-test so far, but I don't think I'd test my luck with him, especially in the fantasy playoffs.
7. Mason Rudolph (rightfully) benched
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph was benched in the third quarter of a week 12 game against the 0-10, now 0-11 Bengals. And rightfully so. Rudolph was, to put it lightly, highly inefficient on Sunday. To put it into perspective, Rudolph was benched in the third quarter and his backup, Devlin Hodges, threw for as many yards as him (85) on his first two pass attempts.
Mike Tomlin has yet to confirm whether or not Hodges will be the starter next week at Cleveland but, for fantasy purposes, let's hope Rudolph stays on the bench. In nine starts this season, he hasn't passed for over 251 yards once. He hasn't scored over two TD's or 16.9 fantasy points in any game this season, and those 16.9 points came against the Bengals back in week four... Congratulations Mason.
Prepare for things to escalate, because if I'm being honest, Rudolph is just awful and I hope I never have to watch him play again. Call me insensitive, but he's so bad at football, I didn't mind watching him get bopped in the head with his helmet last week. That's what you get for throwing four picks and instigating a fight... Obviously, that was an unacceptable occurrence on multiple levels, and I definitely don't condone Garrett's actions, but Mason Rudolph could retire tomorrow and I'd probably celebrate.
JuJu Smith-Schuster has been, perhaps, the biggest fantasy bust of 2019. If Big Ben was out there, obviously things wouldn't be so bad. With most backups in this league, things wouldn't be so bad. But with Rudolph, there's not much room for them to get worse.
If Devlin Hodges draws the start in week 13, and boy do I hope he does, I'd be inclined to give the Steelers offense a slight boost in my rankings. Not by much, but a boost nonetheless.
8. Sam Darnold: not completely useless
Don't look now, but Sam Darnold might actually be an NFL QB. The Jets schedule has been easy, (faced the Giants, Redskins, and Raiders past three games) but that shouldn't take away from how impressive Darnold has been.
In his last three games, Darnold is averaging 25.1 fantasy PPG. He has nine total TD's (two rushing) and just one turnover during this span. But somehow, in a game where he threw for 315 yards, he got the ball to red-hot Jamison Crowder just twice. Instead it was the ice-cold Robby Anderson who led with way with four catches for 86 yards and a TD. Just like we drew it up.
In any event, Darnold is a good bet to keep his success going for at least two more weeks. He'll take on the Bengals in week 13 and the Dolphins in week 14.
9. Chris Godwin explodes... Again.
In week 12, Godwin finished with 184 yards. It was the third time this season where he had at least seven catches, 125 yards, and two TD's. It was also his third game north of 150 yards, his fifth game with over 100, his sixth game with seven or more catches, and his third game with 31 PPR points or more this season.
A game like this was long overdue for Godwin, who hadn't topped 13.9 points in four straight weeks. It was encouraging to see him pull through considering his schedule is a breeze in the fantasy playoffs.
I was pretty harsh on Jameis Winston last week, but I'll say something nice about him for the Bucs fans out there. He's damn good at getting his receivers the ball. Even if he does cost his team games with his questionable decision making, at least he can keep his receivers fantasy relevant. Now, if only he could split the points between Godwin and Evans instead of one or the other each week...
10. Don't quit on Mixon
Yeah, he burned me this week too. I don't blame you if your first thought was "here we go again". After three consecutive weeks of at least 17 PPR points, Mixon crashed back down with just 7.9 points in week 12. But hey, it's not his fault he's on the worst team in football.
From the outside looking in, it seems like Mixon had a bad game. But if you watched him play on Sunday, you know he didn't. He began by gaining just 15 yards on his first seven carries. After that, he gained 64 on his next 11 (5.8 YPC).
In the second half, Mixon broke off an amazing run where he reversed field and somehow turned what should have been a five yard loss into a five yard gain, similar to his TD last week. Unfortunately, thanks to him being completely forgotten about in the passing game, it didn't equate to many fantasy points.
If you ask me, I forgive him. Especially considering his opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers have not allowed an RB to even scratch the surface of a top-10 week all season. I say keep the faith. He has a tough matchup in week 13 with a Jets defense that just held Josh Jacobs to 36 total yards, but after that it's smooth sailing.
In the fantasy playoffs, Mixon will face Cleveland twice (allowing eleventh most yards to RB's and an average of 4.6 YPC) and Miami (fifth-most points, and a league-high 1,428 rush yards/64 redzone touches allowed to RB's this season).
Andy Dalton will reclaim the starting job in week 13. Who knows? Maybe Mixon and the Bengals offense get a boost. If only AJ Green could get on the field...
1. Jameis Winston is a liability
After another four interception performance in week ten (his third game with four or more turnovers this season) just one question remains... What's it going to take? When will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization admit their mistake, cut their losses and move on from Jameis Winston?
Winston has a 19:18 TD to INT ratio, four fumbles lost, and is completing just 59.6 percent of his passes through 10 games this season. He is 24-40 as a starter with a career win percentage of just .375.
Winston is in his fifth season. Of his 66 career games, he has just 18 games without a turnover, and six of those games (33 percent) came his rookie year. Dak Prescott, for example, was drafted in 2016, a year after Winston. He has 19 games without a turnover in the last three seasons alone. Of his 58 career games, Prescott has 29 games without a turnover.
Winston has 26 games with multiple turnovers (39.3%) under his belt. He has no less than five such games in any season. He has nine games with AT LEAST three interceptions. Russell Wilson, who has twice as many starts as Winston (122), has just three such games in his career.
Winston has BY FAR the most turnovers by any player since entering the league. Eli Manning was the only one giving him a run for his money, but since he's been riding the bench this season, Winston is running away with it.
For as long as Winston has been the Bucs QB, they've finished better than fourth (last place) in their division one time. They have yet to make the playoffs with him as their signal caller.
All of this damning evidence begs the question: when is enough going to be enough?
It seems like every week Tampa Bay and Bruce Arians have to convince the media that Winston is still their starter, and they still have faith in him. But how much faith can an organization possibly have? He was once described as a potential franchise QB, but the term that more accurately describes him at this stage of his career, is a liability.
Winston looks on in anguish as his fourth interception of the game seals the victory for the Saints - photo courtesy of TheAthletic.com
2. Patriots Defense still poses a major threat
After an uncharacteristic performance against the Lamar Jackson led Baltimore Ravens, football fans were ready to chalk the Patriots defensive prowess through the first eight weeks up to a soft schedule (the easiest in the league by FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics). After they were "exposed" by the Ravens, their start percentage in ESPN fantasy dropped from 97 percent in week nine, to 65 percent in week 11.
The skepticism was fair, considering the Pats surrendered 31 points and over 350 total yards of offense to the Ravens after no team came anywhere close to that in the eight weeks prior. But it is also fair to say there is no defense that has the answer for Lamar Jackson. After a week 11 beatdown of the Eagles, it's starting to look like the Patriots week nine performance against the Ravens was the real outlier.
New England held Philly to just 214 yards passing and 81 yards rushing (3.8 YPC). Carson Wentz completed just 50 percent of his passes (20-40) and finished with a passer rating of 74.4. The Eagles managed just 10 points in four quarters, and were shut out entirely in the second half.
The Patriots offense didn't fare much better, delivering another lackluster showing. In fact, the Pats finished with less total yards than the Eagles. But thanks to five sacks, a fumble recovery and an all-around phenomenal performance in the second half from their defense, they scraped out another win.
This Patriots squad reminded us in week 11 that just because they were torched by Lamar Jackson and the NFL's highest scoring offense, like pretty much everyone else, doesn't mean they are pushovers. Aside from back to back games against the Texans and Chiefs in weeks 13 & 14, the Patriots should be viewed as a top-three fantasy defense each week.
3. The Ravens defense is officially elite
Stalling the Patriots struggling offense is one thing, holding Deshaun Watson without a touchdown through four quarters is another...
In their last four games, the Ravens have allowed an average of 14.0 PPG scored five defensive TD's, and forced nine turnovers. What's more impressive is that three of those four teams were the Seahawks, the Patriots and the Texans. The only question mark surrounding this Baltimore defense (that is suddenly playing at an extremely high level) was the sacks. After recording seven against Watson in week 11, it's safe to say this defense is elite.
Over their last four games, they average 17.2 fantasy PPG. By FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics, the Ravens have the sixth-easiest remaining schedule among all fantasy defenses. In the fantasy football playoffs they have matchups with the Bills, Jets, Browns and Steelers. They are currently available in 27 percent of ESPN leagues. If you have not done so already, I suggest you scoop them up.
4. John Brown is a machine
Michael Thomas, John Brown. There... I just listed the only two players in the NFL with at least 50 receiving yards in every game this season. He may not be the sexiest play, or have the most monstrous stats this season, but John Brown is an absolute machine.
As Josh Allens top weapon, Brown has been a model of consistency this season. He has finished with no less than 9.5 PPR points in any game this season. Most recently, he delivered a single-game season-high in receptions (9) yards (137) TD's (2) and, as a result, fantasy points (34.7).
There are few players (maybe none) who have had a higher floor than Brown this season. I'm not necessarily suggesting you trade him, but hear me out. If it was me, I'd use his high floor as leverage and try to deal him on the heels of his monster game. Sure, he has been a rock for fantasy owners, but consider the fact he has matchups with the Broncos, Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers and Patriots left on his upcoming schedule. In fact, by FantasyPros strength of schedule metrics, he has the fourth-toughest remaining schedule. I can understand if you feel attached to him, and I wouldn't be surprised if he overcame his schedules adversity, but it is something to keep in mind for a player who's value is the highest it has been (and possibly will be) all season.
5. Foles loves Chark
For anyone worried the transition from Minshew to Foles would affect Chark's production, your mind should be put at ease after week 11. While it still remains to be seen whether or not Foles is an actual real-life upgrade at QB for the Jags, Chark remains a WR1.
If you have a good memory, you'll likely recall that Foles actually tossed a 30-yard TD to Chark on the play he broke his collarbone in week one. In week 11, the duo picked up where they left off.
Foles peppered Chark with a season-high 15 targets. Chark finished with 104 yards and two TD's on eight receptions. It was his third 100+ yard effort, and his sixth game with eight or more targets this season. With this kind of increased usage, Chark may even be more valuable than he was with Minshew...
6. Dwayne Haskins is not ready to be a starter
Until the fourth quarter of their week 11 game with the Jets, the Redskins had gone 16 quarters without scoring a TD, the longest streak by any team since 2000. Dwayne Haskins was the starting quarterback for 10 of those 16 quarters, so naturally, I blame him.
Finally, the streak was broken on a 45-yard "touchdown pass" to Derrius Guice. But please, make no mistake, Guice did all the work. Before a garbage time fourth quarter that featured the Guice TD, a 41-yard prayer that Terry McLaurin bailed him out on, and a one-yard TD pass to Jeremy Sprinkle (all against the 31st ranked Jets pass defense) Haskins was on his way to another Brutal day. He passed for 119 of his 214 passing yards in the fourth quarter in week 11. Before that, Haskins was averaging just 27 pass yards per quarter this season.
It's not that he lacks the arm talent or athleticism, but the dude just looks lost on an NFL field. He's having trouble making reads, seeing the field clearly, sensing pressure and, perhaps most importantly, he's dragging Terry McLaurin down. That one I take personally. These are all things you wouldn't have to deal with/could be avoided if Case Keenum was the starter.
I get the whole 'trial by fire' approach, the best way to learn is to fail miserably, and in a season that is already pretty much over for the Redskins, why not get your rookie QB some experience? The problem is, from what I've seen, I don't think Haskins is the answer, and I'm not sure he ever will be.
7. Derrius Guice/Bo Scarborough: RB's to target
I've been in on Guice for a while. He's been featured on the top waiver claims page for three weeks now. In week 11, he displayed why.
On his 45-yard TD reception, Guice showed off the angry running/tackle breaking ability fantasy owners have long been waiting to see at the NFL level. With Dwayne Haskins playing like a disaster, expect the Redskins to lean on the run. Although Adrian Peterson has proven he can still be effective at his age, I'd expect him to be playing second fiddle to the younger more explosive Guice sooner rather than later. At least, Guice certainly made a case for himself in that regard in week 11. But he wasn't the only young RB who stood out on Sunday.
Former Alabama standout Bo Scarborough looked like the remedy for the Lions struggling run game this week. He wasn't wildly effective (55 yards on 14 carries, 3.9 YPC) but he certainly seemed to be an improvement on the ground over TY Johnson or JD McKissic. He scored a five-yard rushing TD in his first game as a Lion, something McKissic and Johnson have failed to do this season.
I'm not as high on Scarborough as I am on Guice, but if they give Bo the job, I like his talent enough from his Bama days that I believe he could prove to be a workhorse for the Lions, at least in the short term. Next up for the Lions is a tasty matchup with the Redskins...
8. David Johnson receives zero touches in week 11
It's a sad day in FantasyLand. Former Fantasy MVP David Johnson has officially lost his job.
Despite being available and fully-healthy, David Johnson has finished with zero points in back to back games. In fact, he didn't receive a single touch on Sunday. But how did it get to this point?
David Johnson, a player that has a season with 2,000 total yards and 20 total TD's under his belt, has been deemed unimportant by his team. After a disappointing 2018 campaign where he was the focal point of all opposing defenses, Johnson seemed to have come in to this season devoid of confidence. Still, despite being relatively ineffective on the ground, with 30 catches and three games of over 21 PPR points through the first six games of 2019, it seemed to be clear he was still an elite pass catching back, that was rightfully worth slating in as an RB1. But after DJ was forced to miss time with injury, Chase Edmonds and Kenyan Drake both outshined anything Johnson had done this season. It seems like this caused him to be perceived as expendable.
Personally, I don't agree with it, but as fantasy owners, we have to accept it. Johnson simply can't be trusted, and can't be played... even as a flex.
9. The real Joe Mixon surfaces
Mixon entered week 11 with two consecutive games of at least 17 PPR points, he extended that streak to three games on Sunday.
Now, let me just start by saying Mixon could have had a humongous game if he was fed just a little bit more. He took his first catch for 17 yards, and his first carry for 30 yards. He turned what should have been a five yard loss in to one of the most impressive TD's of the year. And he did it all in the first quarter.
The Bengals never trailed by more than ten points at any point in this game, so the fact that Mixon received just 10 touches for the remainder of the game is downright puzzling.
I could understand not running the ball if it was essential to pass in order to keep up or if their QB was actually an effective passer (Mixon had more rush yards than Finley had Pass yards entering the fourth quarter). But the fact they completely abandoned the run game, despite Mixon averaging 5.3 yards per carry made absolutely no sense. Then again, I guess that kind of game management would explain why they're 0-10...
On a different note, if the trade deadline in your league hasn't passed, I suggest you make a run for Mixon. I know he's been disappointing this season, but he's trending up. His talent is apparent, and has been on display often in his past couple games. In the fantasy playoffs he will find himself matched up with Miami and Cleveland twice... Just sayin'...
10. Stefon Diggs is impossible to predict
After a three week stretch of at least seven catches and 140 yards, he finishes with just one catch for four yards against the Chiefs? Then, he delivers another sub-par game against the Cowboys, basically establishing you still can't really trust him... again.
So you see a matchup with the Denver Broncos in week 11, a team giving up the fourth-least points to WR's this season. There's no Adam Thielen, so he'll no doubt be the focal point of the Broncos defense. How can you take your chances with that matchup? Especially after the duds he's put up the past two weeks... Sure enough, he rises from the dead to catch five passes for 121 yards and a TD, likely on everyones bench.
I mean, what's his problem? This guy can't just do this every week? Does he have to take every other week off? Why does he hate his fantasy owners? What's he going to do in the fantasy playoffs, retire? Owning Stefon Diggs has been a roller coaster ride this season. Thanks for listening to me complain about it.
1. Russell Wilson and Seahawks topple undefeated 49ers
What. A. Game. After an overtime victory in what could go down as the game of the year, the accolades are flying in Seattle. Russell Wilson was already a frontrunner for league MVP, and now, after a huge division win, Pete Carroll is a front runner for coach of the year. Some are so amazed by the resolve and championship mentality of the Seahawks, they've taken to social media.
"If you give @PeteCarroll a glass of water he turns it into a lake and goes skiing on it," tweeted Matthew McConaughey.
I can't say I fully understand what you mean, but I'm with you Matthew. Year in and year out the Seahawks find a way to electrify fans in a legendary manner. If you give them an inch of hope, they'll turn it into a mile... Oh, okay Matthew, now we're on the same page.
Even Wilson, who has been to two SuperBowls and has won some insane games in his career said this may be the craziest game he's ever played in. Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney said the same.
Despite trailing the 49ers the entire first half, Seattle rallied to send the game in to overtime and eventually emerged victorious against the only undefeated team that remained in the NFL. But it definitely wasn't pretty.
The game featured seven total turnovers, and two defensive TD's, one for each team.
Unless you own Chris Carson or the 49ers defense, fantasy points were hard to come by in this one. Star receivers Tyler Lockett and Emmanuel Sanders both suffered injuries that kept them from completing the game. DK Metcalf had a respectable game which would have been better if not for a costly fumble. Tevin Coleman failed to deliver an RB1, or even RB2 for that matter, performance for the second week in a row. Wilson, despite playing a hell of a game in real life, fell short of 17 fantasy points for (surprisingly) the third time in his last four games. Instead it was Deebo Samuel (eight catches, 112 yards) and Jacob Hollister (eight catches, 62 yards and one TD) who led the way in fantasy points. Just like we drew it up, right?
Side note: Jacob Hollister may be a thing, by the way. Considering Wilson's history of favoring his tight ends (see Jimmy Graham, Will Dissly) and Hollister's obvious athleticism, he looks like he can fill the role of a fantasy TE1. He's now scored two weeks in a row, and has drawn multiple red-zone targets in each of those games. He's big, fast, he can catch and Russell Wilson is his QB... What more could you ask for?
Back to the point: this was a huge win for the Seahawks, and a self-described "reality check" loss for the 49ers. Of course, their defense played at the elite level many expected them to, but it was their offense that seemed to drag them down.
Jimmy Garoppolo was 3-18 on passes that went 10 or more yards downfield, which, by those metrics, is the worst single game performance by a QB this season.
ESPN analyst and media personality Stephen A. Smith went as far as to call Garoppolo the weak link of this San Francisco team, and I can't say I disagree.
For now, It'd be safe to consider his 300+ yard, four TD performance against the (very bad at defense) Arizona Cardinals as an outlier. Jimmy G has thrown just one TD or less in five of his nine games this season. He has throw for 175 yards or less in four of those nine games. Due to the elite level the defense has been playing at, and the effectiveness of the run game, his sub-par play had not come back to bite them. Until now. Against a Seattle defense that had most recently allowed a combined 795 passing yards to Jameis Winston and Matt Schaub, Garoppolo just couldn't seem to get it done. He was responsible for all three of the 49ers turnovers and completed just 52 percent of his passes.
The Seahawks will have time to sit on this impressive victory as they head in to their week 11 bye. The 49ers, on the other hand, will have an interesting matchup on the road versus a Cardinals team they narrowly edged out just two weeks ago (28-25). And if they lose two division games in a row... Then things have really gotten interesting.
Russell Wilson escapes Deforest Buckner and scrambles for a first down - photo courtesy of Aol.com
2. Ryan Tannehill... Franchise QB?
Derrick Henry led the way for the Titans offensively in week ten with a monstrous game on the ground (26 touches, 191 total yards, two TD's). But if you ask me it was Ryan Tannehill who got them the win.
The former college wide receiver made several key plays late in the game to keep Tennessee alive against the Chiefs. In the fourth quarter, he led a last minute scoring drive, at one point converting with his legs on a 3rd and 17. He capped it off with a 23-yard strike to Adam Humphries for the go-ahead TD (32-33). Not only did Tannehill lead his team to a score, he proceeded to put his head down and plow his way in to the end-zone on a two-point conversion that put his team up by one field goal... A field goal that Harrison Butker could not convert.
Thanks to Tannehill, the Titans pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season in Kansas City. He has now thrown for 300+ yards or scored multiple TD's in every game as a starter for the Titans. Some have even used the word "revelation" to describe what he has done for this Tennessee team. It will be exciting to see how he continues this success, and what he can do for the fantasy prospects of his offense. All I know is, compared to Marcus Mariota, things can only improve.
3. Christian Kirk has career day against Bucs
In week ten, Christian Kirk played the best game of his young career. He took his six receptions for 138 yards and scored three crazy TD's. He finished with a career-high 37.8 fantasy points.
Considering Kirk had not found the end-zone at all in 2019 prior to this week, his three TD performance was especially surprising. It was also just the second 100+ yard game of his career.
Of course, it all came against a Tampa Bay defense that Tyler Lockett lit up for 40+ PPR points in week nine, the same team that for as long as I can remember has been notorious for having a lackluster secondary. In fact, they just waived their former first round CB Vernon Hargreaves on Tuesday. Nonetheless, it was an encouraging performance from Kirk who was already a target machine. He is clearly Kyler Murray's favorite target, especially since he doesn't seem to be interested in throwing Larry Fitzgerald the ball.
If you don't count the week four Seattle game where he was injured, or the week nine matchup against the exceptionally stout 49ers, Kirk has finished with double-digit PPR points in every game this season.
Kirk always had the potential for a game like this but the real question is, what took so long?
4. Saquon Barkley, David Johnson, Cooper Kupp among big name players who put up duds in week 10
Saquon Barkley... 13 carries for one yard ?!?! Against the Jets ?!?!?! What the @#$% just happened? Reports are surfacing now that Barkley is still a little bit banged up or at least "not 100 percent". So, I suppose he can be somewhat forgiven. His five catches for 30 yards were the only thing that kept him afloat in fantasy. Which is more than you can say for...
David Johnson: the only cardinals RB that can't seem to be effective on the ground. Coming off an injury, he was expected to split carries with Kenyan Drake, but was benched by Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after a third quarter fumble. DJ finished with six touches for 10 total yards and zero fantasy points. He was out-snapped by Drake 64 percent to 43 percent in week ten. Confidence in the former 2,000 yard 20 TD RB has officially reached an all time low. But at least he accumulated some yards and touches unlike...
Cooper Kupp, who was held without a catch for the first time this season. Zero catches for zero yards. I had Jared Goff as the sit of the week, and last week called the Steelers defense elite, but this is some next level stuff.
Kupp is the one I'm worried about the least as I'm sure he'll bounce back, but he had, by far, the worst game of these three stars in week ten... Imagine playing all three this week...
5. Mixon finally goes over 100 yards
Joe Mixon touched the ball 32 times for 151 total yards in week ten. It was a season-high for Mixon, who had yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground this year. He put up 17.1 PPR points against a Ravens defense that was previously giving up the eighth-least points to RB's this season.
It was not surprising to see the Bengals lean on the run game considering rookie QB Ryan Finley was making his first start, but then again, down as many points as they were, you might expect them to throw a little more. Either way, Mixon owners should be excited. He now has 17+ PPR points in back to back games, and should be utilized much more with Finley on the field. Next up is a matchup with the Raiders who are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to RB's over the past four weeks.
6. Cardinals defense, the gift that keeps on giving
In week ten, not only did the Cardinals have Ronald Jones looking like a feature back (22.6 PPR points), but they kept their horrible record of guarding TE's alive by allowing OJ Howard to score his first TD of the season. Of course, it likely came too late for many fantasy owners as Howard has been dropped in over 55 percent of ESPN leagues. He finished with four catches for 47 yards and a TD in this one. He looked impressive, making a few nice grabs, but I wouldn't buy too much into it. Howard has been bad all season. If anything I'm chalking it up to the fact that the Cardinals forgot how to play defense this season.
They've allowed a season-high fantasy totals to Jimmy Garoppolo, Latavius Murray, Drew Brees, and now Ronald Jones/OJ Howard all in the past three weeks. They really are the gift that, every week, just keeps on giving.
7. Lamar Jackson may be the best football player I've ever seen
I'm going to have to stop calling this blog 'What we learned' if I keep talking about how good Lamar Jackson is, because it's literally every week with this guy. In week ten, he finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3, for the second time this season. But that wasn't even the most impressive part. He also delivered a career-long run (47 yards) on a TD that brought back memories of Michael Vick's legendary fake slide.
His unbelievable athleticism was on display as he outran, eluded and spun around the entire Bengals defense. It is a play that will, no doubt, go down as one of the most memorable of his career, and will likely end up in the top-ten plays of 2019. Also, I will guarantee right here and now that Jackson will beat that career-long sooner rather than later. I'm sure a monkey could make that call, but I did it first. It was another flawless game from Jackson who now has more rushing yards through his first 16 starts than Ladanian Tomlinson (nope, not a typo), more wins than Patrick Mahomes, a better passer rating than Tom Brady, more yards per attempt than Aaron Rodgers and a better completion percentage than Drew Brees.
Jackson is a once in a generation-type talent and I am personally glad to have the pleasure of watching him play, and owning him in fantasy.
8. Jarvis Landry is the Browns WR1
Now, hear me out here. I know how it sounds. The great OBJ, how could he not be his teams WR1? Well, we saw it in the last season they played together at LSU. It was close, but Jarvis Landry put up the better numbers. If anything, they were co-WR1's. Although it's pretty close, he's been doing the same this season. Landry has six games with over 60 yards this season, Beckham has four. Landry has scored a TD in back to back weeks. Beckham hasn't scored since week two.
Of course, all it would take is one big game from Odell to retake the lead and who would be surprised? But, at least in recent weeks, it has been the Jarvis Landry show. Beckham's deep play prowess seemed like the perfect match for Baker Mayfield's cannon arm, but so far the big plays have not been there. I expect that will eventually correct itself, but currently, Beckham has been limited to a possession role. That isn't exactly the type of production fantasy managers are used to seeing from him. While he's still a superior option to most, he hasn't been the WR1 many fantasy managers expected him to be when drafting him.
On the season, Landry is WR20 while Beckham is just WR26. Some of it could be the fact Landry has an established chemistry with Baker Mayfield, and Beckham and him are still working on it. Either way, there is still plenty of time to turn it around. But if I'm ranking them at the moment, I'd put Landry above Odell, at least until we see him return to his elite form.
9. Jets/Giants battle for worst New York football team
Daniel Jones threw for 300 yards and four TD's, Darius Slayton had a career game with ten catches for 120 yards and two TD's. Golden Tate had 94 yards and two TD's. It's no wonder I had the Jets defense as the sit of the week... But leave it to the Giants to somehow lose a game like that...
The Jets ended up winning a surprisingly entertaining game, despite playing a less polished game than their opponents offensively. Jamison Crowder had himself another really solid week as the Jets top receiving weapon (five catches, 81 yards, one TD). What ever happened to Robby Anderson? The former Jets WR1 has just three catches for 44 yards in his past two games. Those two games were against the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. It's probably safe to drop him. Demaryius Thomas seems to have passed him on the depth chart as well (10.7 or more fantasy points in three of his last five games).
Like I said, I had the Jets D/ST listed as the sit of the week, and I had actually typed "because Jamaal Adams can't play every position on defense", but apparently all you need is one. He snatched the ball from Daniel Jones like it was his to begin with, and proceeded to take it to the house in one of the most authoritative defensive plays I've ever witnessed. Welcome to the league Danny Dimes. The defensive score proved to be the deciding factor as the Jets won 34-27. The presence of Adams makes me think the Jets D/ST might actually be usable against Dwayne Haskins and the Redskins this week, maybe even start of the week worthy...
10. Kareem Hunt proves to be a usable flex
In his first regular season game as a Brown, Hunt carved out a meaningful role for himself without (to the relief of fantasy owners everywhere) really eating into Nick Chubb's workload at all. Chubb finished with exactly 20 carries for the fourth week in a row, while Hunt took his 11 touches for 74 total yards and actually finished with more PPR points than Chubb (14.4) thanks to an impressive seven catches.
Going forward, it's not unreasonable to expect Hunt to play the Austin Ekeler role to Chubb's Melvin Gordon. The best part about it is, the Browns are allowing for both players to be on the field at the same time. Hunt will likely serve as a pass catching flex type back that will, no doubt, vulture a few TD's. I see him as having high-end flex value especially if he continues to receive 10-15 touches per game.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for fantasy football and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.