Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week 3, and the struggles writing about Fantasy Football

    The weeks march on, and so shall we, the loyal Fantasy Football champions. Injuries quickly dismantle our draft day hopes and the committee running-back is threatening to derail all of our dreams of becoming the very best. Still, we march on. Although scandal and abuse and the horrors of humanity threaten the sport we all love so very much... WE, MUST march on.
     I refuse to focus on the negative impact that recent developments have left upon the world of fantasy football. You should know that adjustments are going to have to be made because of off-field conduct issues. All I can really say is this: A few bad apples. I love this sport with or without the fantasy implications and absolutely hate anything that jeopardizes the future and integrity of this league. We WILL march on.


     Writing about Fantasy Football is hard. Trying to discern between fluke or trend, especially in the first two weeks of the season, is extremely difficult. You can see the numbers. Evaluate the preseason, know the schemes and the match-ups and try to sort out fact from fiction with the information that is given. But, no one is going to be perfect. All I am trying to do, is do the research for you. There is skill involved in winning this game, believe it or not.
Also, No one will trade with you when you're writing about this stuff, even if it is a balanced trade. Everyone thinks I have a trick up my sleeve just because I pay closer attention than the average weekend warrior. And, the more I talk about an un-owned player... The more they get snaked from me on the wire. Lesson learned. Shut up till Wednesday (Thursday for NFL.com leagues).
     After week 2 though, things start to pan out. Yes you'll still have injuries. Such is the nature of the game. But clearer pictures are being painted and we are starting to see the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
 
     I talked a little bit in my late addition last week about playing the match-up in order to win your fantasy week. I want to now emphasize my point with some examples and more elaboration upon the fact.
Unless you have a top three D/ST, there is no reason to fall in love with them, or even if you do, play them every week. Even if I jumped to pick the Seattle defense, I am NOT playing them week 3 against the Denver Broncos. The chance of them forcing turnovers against the veteran Manning and this offense are very slight, and I am willing to bet you can pick up a better match-up off the waiver wire. I know there are experts that disagree with me on this, but I'm standing firm. DO NOT play a defense against a high powered offense.
I saw the Chiefs D being played in every single league I am in this past week. I scored 20 fantasy points in an NFL.com league with the Buffalo Bills, and had a superior (on paper, at least) defense on my bench with the Denver Broncos. Some offenses you want to play against this year SO FAR are, Tampa, Oakland, New York Giants, Jacksonville... and until last week, I would have said the Redskins (which is why I recommended the Jags D in week 2), but now that the have a low risk low mistake man at the helm, this offense is a lot less prone to turn overs. More later about the redskins. Look for an offense that is struggling, and exploit them with a defense that is capable of capitalizing upon this.
Kickers are a little more tricky to pick. You can go with a kicker with a great offense and who dominates in the red-zone. But, then you are more likely to get only extra points worth one fantasy point. If you can find a kicker that is on a good offense that struggles in the red-zone (Cody Parkey) then you are racking up 3+ points per kick.

     It is also widely considered unacceptable to play a defense that is going against your starting Quarterback. It is simply counter-productive to play two opposing forces on your fantasy team. Think about it: every TD your QB gets goes AGAINST your defense. And if your defense does good, it's highly likely that your quarterback did not do as well.
I am not saying you should drop key players in order to play the match-up each week. That, is just silly. Not only will you not be able to use those key players in the future, but you risk those players being used AGAINST you. I have already made the mistake of dropping Sammy Watkins in a league. While I think he is going to be a hit or miss player for his first NFL season, I now face the risk of him being the key factor in a match-up down the road. I would rather have a player of his caliber on my bench, than in an opponents lineup.
     The waiver wire really can be key. Even if you don't need the top pick of the week, AND see potential in the add due to new developments, AND have an expendable player with high waiver priority, take him! Better on your bench, than in an opponents line-up.

 


     Thursday we will see the Bucs vs the Falcons.
Unfortunately, The rb situation for Tampa is still unclear. My money, is on Bobby Rainey this week though, and he becomes a great rb2 or flex option in this game as The Falcons are currently ranked 31st in the league against the run surrendering a total of 283 yards and 5 touchdowns to opposing backs in the first two weeks. If Martin plays, however, Things become a little less certain. I still think that Rainey has done enough to earn a more significant role in this offense and it could be that both running backs become viable options. Another concern is the Tampa defense, who really hasn't been horrible so far. But, if Atlanta gets off to an early lead, Tampa might have to abandon the run (again) early, opening the doors for Vjax and Mike Evans to have big games. Atlanta has surrendered 363 yards and 2 touchdowns to opposing wide-outs through 2 weeks.
Roddy White is questionable coming into this contest, but I think he still plays. Julio Jones will do what Julio Jones does and I predict he scores 2 touchdowns in this contest. Again, The Tampa defense isn't that bad, But Julio is just that good. Another key factor in this game, I believe, will be Steven Jackson. I am looking for Atlanta to dominate the time of possession and Jackson could get of garbage time plays to bolster his fantasy stats.
My BOLD sleeper pick of the week out of this game, Levine Toilolo Atl, TE.
     Next we have Chargers VS. Bills in what I think is going to be a very exciting game. The Bills defense is better than most people think. But the Chargers stole a game away from the Superbowl Champions last week and it really wasn't a fluke. Antonio Gates and Phillip Rivers have a chemistry that any married couple would envy. Look for Gates to have a modest game this week though. I expect him to at lest catch 5 passes for 80+ yards. But, look for Ladarious Green to score his first touchdown of the 2014 season.
Wait, WHAT? Ryan Matthews is injured? NO WAY!!!! Of course he is. The real surprise is that he has been as productive as he has been up till this point. I think it is Donald Brown, the former first rounder who is the must start in his absence. Although, Danny Woodhead could be an interesting flex play. But, I am letting Danny ride the fantasy pine till I see how San Diego adjust to the loss of Mathews. Brown is an RB2 or flex option though, for sure. Also, I predict that fantasy owners are reminded of exactly why the drafted Keenan Allen this week, as he WILL be a top ten fantasy wide-out.
For Buffalo, C.J. Spiller should have a great game. So far this year he hasn't really got the touches we expect from a number one running back. But I think that's just Doug Marrone's way of keeping opposing defenses off kilter. I think Spiller will be more utilized in this game in every aspect. Jackson will continue to do what Jackson does best (frustrate the hell out of defenses, and fantasy owners). I think both will have descent fantasy outputs.
Sammy Watkins showed us exactly what all the hype was about. And I think San Diego has spent a considerable amount of time watching tape to prepare for him. Robert Woods, on the other hand, is going to be the Buffalo wide-out that that keeps the Chargers secondary shaking their heads all afternoon. HE, has a lot of skill, too. As long as Manuel keeps his mistakes to a minimum, I think the Bills will be victorious and in charge of the AFC East, for another week, at least.
     Tennessee vs. Cincinnati..Let me start by saying that I think The Bengals D is going to dominate this game. If the Titans can get anything going on the ground early in order to open up the passing game, Then Wright and Hunter could both see some significant fantasy value. But, I'm not counting on that. Green and Sankey have been non-factors in games so far. Leaving room for Walker to have another good game this week.
I am willing to bet that A.J. Green sits out this game as the team has a bye next week and has won it's first two games. Mohamed Sanu should be able to capitalize on this. Heck, he even threw a pass for a big gain to fellow wide-out Brandon Tate last week! With the defense playing the way they have been, the Bengals are going to look to control the game with Gio and fellow running back Jeremy Hill (both great options this week in fantasy).
     Packers vs. Lions. Although the Lions defense does look much improved  compared to years past, The Packers are going to exploit their weakness as they always have. I am looking for Richard Rodgers (TE) to finally earn the hype he was receiving in the preseason by exploiting the Lions weakness at the corner-back position. Although Detroit has been pretty good against the run so far, it is easy for a team to wear out this defense by sticking to the run and keeping them on the field for an extended amount of time.
On the Lions side of the ball, It will be Bell and not Bush that should be a factor if this team wants to stay in the game. Green Bay has been Iffy against the run and Detroit knows this. Once a run game has been established, Look for Golden Tate to be the big play maker although Johnson will surely get his dues. This is a BIG game for the NFC North. Just hoping my Lions can regroup after that loss against the Panthers last week.
     Colt vs. Jaguars. The Colts are one of the best 0-2 teams this season. But their losing streak will end this weekend. Trent Richardson looked better last week than he had since his rookie campaign (even though he coughed up a costly fumble). But, I think its going to be Ahmad Bradshaw who is the bigger factor as a colts RB. He is simply the better receiver out of the backfield). All three of Indy's key wide-outs are on the injury report this week, but I believe all three play. Also, look  for Dwayne Allen to finally be the contributor we all thought he was capable of being.
As for Jacksonville, well, good luck , boys. Lewis and Lee have both been ruled out for this week. Gerhart is banged up (Enter Dendard Robinson?) and star Cecil Shorts has yet to play a snap this season, though Gus Bradley is optimistic that he will play this week. I can't see a lot of upside to this offense right now, and wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Blake Bortles make his NFL debut very soon. The Colts should Dominate this game, making both Indianapolis RB's at the very least, great flex options.
     Patriots vs. Raiders. This should be another blow-out, in New England's favor. REMEMBER, in lopsided match-ups the favored teams RBs usually do very well. Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley should both put up some big numbers in this game. Gronk should be doing the patented Gronk spike early in this game. But his snaps should be limited because of the complete dominance on the Patriots behalf. If your team is hurting for a TE this week, I think Tim Wright might actually put up decent numbers as there will be no reason to put Rob Gronkowski in danger in a game that I believe will be a blow out.
I honestly don't see a single start-able player in the Raiders offense. In deeper leagues, I suppose, James Jones could be viable, though he is the only player I have seen in recent memory that has fumbled the ball twice on the SAME PLAY. Streeter is there safest bet as a receiver, and that isn't saying much. He is also showing up on the injury report. If you need to start an Oakland running-back, I think it's Darren Mcfadden and not the injured MJD.
     49'ERs vs. Cardinals. VERY interesting match-up here with two very good defenses battling it out. I honestly wouldn't be at all surprised if the two kickers become the top fantasy performers in this game. Kaepernick is going to have to try to spread out this defense with his feet in order to open the doors for the passing game. And Gore, will have to do what Gore does with his head first style of running in order to keep Arizona's secondary honest. If you have Gore you're obviously starting him but I wouldn't be surprised if he is held to single digit fantasy points this week. And after a mediocre home opener for Carlos Hyde, look for him to get more involved in this offense this week as well.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals QB situation is still up in the air (Stanton was named the starter as of Friday). Drew Stanton managed the win in week 2 despite a very mediocre performance (but, he didn't turn the ball over!). The 49ers are struggling against the pass so far in the first two weeks of play giving up 336 yards and 4 touchdowns to wide-receivers alone. Arizona is going to need to set the pace with their defense and hope to control the clock with the ball in the capable hands of Andre Ellington (dwyer will not play in this game). Look for Micheal Floyd to put up big numbers as well.
     Ravens vs. Browns. The Browns have actually surprised me in the first two weeks of the season, losing a last minute game against the Steelers and a great come back win versus the Saints. Although they are lacking in serious receiver options, Hoyer has done what he can with what he has (he has yet to throw an interception this year). The Browns are another team that relies on it's defense (arguable lead by Joe Haden) and a stellar rushing attack. Ben Tate, along with teammate Jordan Cameron, will probably sit this game out (Ben Tate ruled out). Which, I believe, opens the doors for Terrence West and TE Jim Dray (not Gary Barnidge) to have decent outings. Granted there are probably WAY safer bets for Cameron owners out there than Dray, I am still willing to bet he puts up some fantasy points this week. As for West, Automatic RB2. This defense will need to shut down Flacco and company and control the clock in order to win this game. BOLD START OF THE WEEK, MILES AUSTIN. 
Baltimore gave Owen Daniels 2 red-zone touchdowns last week (frustrating every Dennis Pitta owner), but this isn't a trend that I think will continue. Pitta is their man even while running two tight end sets, and his numbers should steadily increase week to week.
In the running game, Bernard Pierce could be a fumble away from losing more touches to Forsett. But for know, He is the guy. Though the later could steal some goal-line touches. I think Haden will probably be on the Steve Smith Sr. side of the field this week, so also look for Torrey Smith to finally produce the yards we all know he is capable of.
     Cowboys vs. Rams. Did you know that kicker Dan Bailey is the second highest fantasy scorer behind only DeMarco Murray on the Cowboys? Gross, right? The Cowboys looked much better last week and pulled off a win. Romo looked...better? I guess. Still, a lot of questions surrounding this offense. The key to victory seems to be, GIVE THE BALL TO MURRAY! As long as the ball is out of Romo's hands (and therefore, his mind) Dallas seems to have a chance to win. I think Witten finally justifies a top ten TE pick this week with a big game.
The Rams, on their third quarterback of the season already, are in need of finding some sort of rhythm in order to have any success this year. I remain a believer in Zac Stacy and think he needs to be given the ball in order for the Rams to stay in the game. I am however in serious doubt about the WR's that Hill has to work with. If they can make the run work early, look for Quick and Cook to spread the field with their raw talent. BOLD START OF THE WEEK, JARED COOK.
     Texans vs. Giants. The Texans can pretty much do whatever they want in this game offensively, as long as their defense keeps playing the way they have been. Any player for Texas you drafted is probably start-able in this game. I am a little worried about the work load of Arian Foster, but believe he is still going to put up the numbers you need him to this week. The Giants look terrible, on both sides of the ball. Although if they do have a strength on defense, it is their front line. Still, Foster should dominate. Hopkins and Johnson also look to capitalize early.
Like I said, Texans D has looked very good so far. But, have given up a total of 33 fantasy points to running-backs through two games this season. Jennings is a viable RB2 start this week, and as far as I'm concerned, is the best offensive weapon on this lackluster team.
     Vikings vs. Saints. Another too good to be 0-2 team, is the New Orleans Saints. They lost Mark Ingram this week who was on the verge of having his best NFL season to date. I think It's Khiry Robinson (and not frenchy Thomas) that benefits most from this. Robinson is a player that has been looking to break out and I think he finally gets his chance this week. Colston will not have another game without a catch, but I think Brandon Cooks i's going to have another great game.
I personally don't know what to tell you about the Vikings offense. One good game was equaled out by another very poor game. You know who the stars are. Patterson is worthy of a WR1 start this week. Asiata, flex boarder-line RB2. Although, from what I've seen, Jerick McKinnon looks like a better option as this team moves forward without Peterson. The Saints will NOT fall to 0-3 and will be making a statement early.... Leaving a bitter taste and the word "Bridgewater" on the tongues of all Minnesota fans.
     Redskins vs. Eagles. This is another game I, for one, am highly anticipating. Cousins is really the man that the Redskin Nation (is that racist? I'm still unsure.. ) wants in control of their team. Jackson maybe sitting this one out. But Garcon along with Andre Roberts and veteran Santana Moss are still more than capable of filling that role. ENTER NILES PAUL! Wow, What a game he had. Even if Reed returns I don't see Paul not getting more snaps than he or Paulsen (WHO?). They will all certainly have their work cut out for them though.
I was shocked to see the Eagles pull off a victory on the road against the Colts. Foles knows this Chip Kelly offense well. And NEVER, in all my years of watching football, have I seen a team not only more dedicated to the run, but do it better than the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles. Sproles and McCoy are not simply a one-two punch, but a Hiroshima/Nagasaki, war over, knock-out! No team can even hope to run better than this one does. And I'm not sure there is one out there that can stop it.
     Broncos vs. Seahawks. Even before the season began last year, I picked this match-up in the Superbowl, with the Denver Broncos bringing home the Lomobardi. I was (half) wrong. And no one is more pissed off about that than the Peyton Manning. Broncos look to be on point again this year, and I can't see a single team in the AFC that can come close to toppling these gods among men. If you have a Bronco player, start them. A lot has been said about Sanders value now that Welker has been reinstated. Should you be worried? Well, all I can think to say is this: Were you worried about starting Eric Decker last year? Same scenario. Manning passes and passes well and loves to spread the ball around. Sanders will be GREAT this week, I guarantee it.
In Seattle there is talk about Lynch and an ailment to his back..... I heard that for 17 straight weeks last season while Lynch accumulate nearly 1,600 yard. Beast mode is BEAST MODE!!!!!! I think Russel Wilson is going to have to throw the ball a bit more than usual (36 for 53 with 393 yards 4 TD's and 0 INT) in order to keep up with the Broncos as Peyton. Harvin will have a good game here, and so will Baldwin, I suspect. But the Broncos are going to win and your defending champions are going to fall to 1-2 BOLD START OF THE WEEK, Zach Miller. 
     Panthers vs. Steelers. Ron Rivera is pretty sure that running-back DeAngelo Williams will play this week. I, however, am not. I am giving my nod to Jonathan Stewart (for the first time EVER in my fantasy football tenure). I think Stewart is going to be a key factor in keeping the Steelers O-line off Cam Newton and opening up the pass game. The Panthers are 2-0 solely because of their defense. They lost a play maker in Hardy this week and is going to need to rely on Cam and his ability to run the ball, a lot. Cotchery and Avant will be targeted often since defenses are going to focus on the number one receiver, Greg Olsen (though I'd be willing to bet Olsen still receives the most targets). Also, look for rookie Kelvin Benjamin to be a difference maker in this game.
Although the Panthers are GREAT against the run, look for second year running-back Le'Veon Bell to put up some huge numbers this week. He is simply one of the best pass catchers out of the backfield that I have seen in recent years and Antonio Brown can't do it all by himself.
     Chiefs vs. Dolphins. Will it be Knile Davis or Jamaal Charles? Either way, I think I am going to avoid these players for this match-up. Whoever plays is probably going to put up some decent numbers against this Miami defense. But I am just too concerned about a limitation of Charles use, or a time share coming into affect. I had Charles ranked number one coming into this season, and selected him second over-all in one league, but he has yet to produce a single fantasy point this year. We know he is talented. We know the Chiefs need him in their lineup. What we don't know, is the severity of this so called "high ankle sprain". I might lose a game this week because of this. but I think I am avoiding the Kansas City running game for the fact that we just don't know. If charles is ruled out, I am starting Davis as he will be, once again, a key factor in this offense. If he is a go, well, I am worried he will be limited anyway or a risk to re-injure. Very gloom outlook for this game.
On the Miami side of the ball, Knowshon is out for what could be two months leaving Lamar Miller to shoulder the workload... or could it be Daniel Thomas? Who knows... which is why I am trying to stay away from the running game in this match-up, even though it looks to be the backfield that will be the deciding factor in this game. My guess, is that Bowe and TE Charles Clay will be at the top of fantasy scoring in another "anything goes" game. But, If I can help it, I'm staying away from all of them.  
     Bears vs. Jets. Monday night, prime-time football! So, Was there some Harbaugh-type shenanigans being used last week AGAINST Harbaugh? Maybe. Alshon and Brandon Marshall were both said to be questionable before the Sunday night kickoff. But, both played. While Alshon didn't quite have the production of his all-star counterpart, both had a huge impact in spreading out this stout San Fran defense. I will go on record right now saying that any Chicago player should be used in this game. The Jets defense DOESN'T suck.. But there are enough Bears weapons to make them look like maybe they do.
The Jets rush defense is really it's strong suite. But Forte, if any back can, is capable of exploiting its weaknesses and making them pay.
Meanwhile, the Bears have struggled against the run. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see the CJ2K of old break off a couple to put this Bears D in check. Although I think the Jets will fall behind early, Geno is capable of exploiting a rush defense that should open up opportunities for Kerley and Cumberland.