- Jim Bukowski - Fantasy Sharks
When looking for fantasy sleeper picks, sometimes you do the best you can in fantasy football and you still fall short. Last season in my smaller experts' league (by smaller I mean 24-man rosters) I led the league in scoring during the regular season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. So, not being happy with that outcome, I set out to make some changes for the 2014 season.
The first big deal I made was back in May when it was announced the Josh Gordon had failed another drug test. I probably could have gotten him for less, but my exuberance got the best of me and I dealt Calvin Johnson (a member of the list of best fantasy football keepers) for Gordon and pick 1.11. At the time, I took some heat for that deal, but I'm very please the way things have turned out.
I attempted to deal Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball throughout the offseason but nobody was willing to part with a 1st round pick (I would have asked for more, but their 1st rounder would have been a must) so I just held on and wound up dealing both prior to the start of Week 5 last week.
I dealt Eddie Lacy last Thursday and received Travis Kelce and a 1st round pick in return. Lacy proceeded to go out and put up some monster numbers that night. I'm not totally sure that he'll be able to remain healthy given his violent style of running and so far this season in 5 games he's produced against the weaker teams and been stymied by the tougher teams. Bottom line, I wasn't happy with Lacy and decided to move on.
As was the same with Montee Ball, whom I dealt Sunday morning. The negotiation was a lot harder and I also gave up Andre Williams (one of the better NFL fantasy sleepers) in exhcange for Isaiah Crowell and a 1st round draft pick. I now have both Terrance West and Crowell, so I should be set once Ben Tate moves on which should be no later than after the 2015 season. I didn't want to give up Williams, but given that I think Crowell has a higher upside than Williams and that I couldn't have even gotten a 1st rounder for Ball back before the rookie draft, I'm pleased.
Obviously, I didn't consult The Machine on either of these deals as these were deals done from emotion and gut and definitely lowered my team's chance of winning. But I'm not looking to play it safe, I'm swinging for the fences. As I did in the Megatron-for-Gordon deal back in May, and I think that's now looking like a pretty good deal for me.
Speaking of The Machine, if you haven't had your team rated, now's the time to do it while they're still offering that service for FREE! Just click here for your free team analysis. Find out what fantasy players are trending in the NFL.
Now, in the experts' league in which I'm attempting to 3-peat I don't think that my team could be playing much better as I lead the league in scoring. But, if the post-season were to start today I'd be on the outside looking in as I currently have a record of 2-3. Last week's loss was due to a mistake on my part. I realized 5 minutes before the Thursday night game (our fist-come, first-serve waiver wire closes with the start of the Thursday night game) that Vontaze Burfict was not going to play in Week 5 so I picked up LB Gerald Hodges of the Vikings and was about to put him into my lineup when my daughter asked if I could help her with her math homework. So, in my attempt to not put fantasy football over my child's education, I answered her question and then turned back to change my lineup....but it was too late. The Vikings/Packers game had already started and Hodges' 7.5 points would be left on my bench and I'd have to take the a zero from Burfict. As it turned out, I would lose by 5 points, 212 to 207. Just another reason to not like math.
Depending on your team needs and roster size, here this weeks...
Stashes of the Week
Brian Tyms, WR, New England - Was rated the top WR in the preseason by PFF and was kept around during his 4-game suspension and was added to the roster at the expense of Kenbrell Thompkins. Get him before he plays a game as he could blowup at any time and be next week's Tim Wright.
Trey Watts, RB, STL - He ran a slow 40-yard dash, 4.78. He's third on the depth chart behind Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham. But Watts has great bloodlines as his father, J.C., was a starting QB at Oklahoma. With Zac Stacy yet to practice this week, and a Monday night date with the 49ers, Watts has a good chance to get a handful of touches and I'd rather roster him now than do battle on the waiver wire next week. And, if he doesn't see the field or disappoints, I'm free to cut him loose for someone new next week.
Fantasy Sit Start -
What once looked like a potential division war, pitting an always strong 49ers squad against a hungry and up-and-coming Rams team, now seems less appetizing. Although the 49ers have regained their form to an extent, the Rams are sputtering. With major injuries on both sides of the ball and poor play, this team now looks like a potential candidate for a top 5 pick in the draft.
However, if you have fantasy players on either team, you don’t care whether this is supposed to be a good game or not. You just care about your players winning you the matchup this week.
But what if there are options?
Take a look at our Sit/Start report for Monday night’s San Francisco vs. St. Louis game for guidance.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
Three weeks ago after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, there was turmoil in the 49ers locker room. Much blame passed between players and coaches, including Gore, who was none too happy about his lack of touches. His stat line that Sunday read 6 carries for 10 yards.
Well, it appears someone listened to Gore after the Cardinals game. He’s averaged 113 yards per game the last two weeks, and while he hasn’t found the endzone, the 49ers getting back to their running game roots is paying dividends for everyone.
Expect Gore to have a big night against a once tough, but now sorry, Rams running defense. They rank 29th in the league, surrendering 152.5 yards per game on the ground. He is an absolute fantasy football start this week.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco
I’d love to be able to give you a Rams player to start in this game, but in good conscience, I can't do that. There's a good chance for any number of St. Louis players to lay an egg, and while one player may have a decent game, who knows who it might be?
Furthermore, San Francisco’s defense has been laying the wood to teams lately. They didn’t give up an offensive point against Philadelphia, and they rank 4th and 5th against the pass and run, respectively.
Hence, I give you Colin Kaepernick’s most reliable target.
Boldin has yet to put up a TD this season, but he is still on pace for nearly a thousand yards receiving. He will rarely, if ever, let you down should you need a solid 6-10 point performance.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis
For reason number one, see above. That is, the 49ers defense.
Stacy is prone to an occasional solid running effort. One of those efforts is not to come against the 49ers on Monday night.
While a back such as Jamaal Charles can churn out 80 yards (but without a score) against San Francisco’s D, Stacy cannot. Many fantasy owners have seen the promise of Zac Stacy in recent years, and it’s never fully come to fruition.
This season, Stacy’s best game was a 71 yard effort against Tampa Bay in week 2, which included his only touchdown of the year. Don’t rely on him if you need a last second spark.
Michael Crabtree, WR, St. Louis
While Anquan Boldin is a steady force for Kaepernick and the 49ers, Crabtree can easily standout out as exceptional or pathetic. He can always be counted on to be a Boom or Bust player from week to week.
For example, during Week 3 against the Cardinals, he had 10 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. In other words, a great day for a fantasy owner who started him. However, last week’s 16 yards on 1 catch for no scores is also on the table. That would be classified as a devastating stat line for owners.
Plus, for all of the trouble St. Louis has had against the run, they’ve been great against the pass. In fact, they rank 1st in yards per game against air traffic. And, when push comes to shove for Kaepernick on 3rd down and he needs to go to the air, look for him to eye Boldin, not Crabtree, on Monday night.
QB Fantasy Injury Updates -
After being in the dark all week long, the NFL Network is reporting that Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is set to start against the WORST pass defense in the NFL, the Washington Redskins.
This comes on the heel of Friday’s announcement that Palmer was only throwing at 80 percent in practice. Many fantasy owners have spent the entire week trolling the waiver wires to find a viable fill in for the Bye Week and staying tuned to injury updates.
There’s a multiple questions swirling around fantasy owners about Palmer right now:
At little more than 80 percent, can he still “light up” the Deadskins?
The Redskins are tight against the run, will Palmer have to pass?
Palmer is certainly an older quarterback who is NOT very mobile, is this a re-injury waiting to happen? Will he be back on the NFL injury updates list?
The answer to all of these questions is - YES!!
This makes Palmer a roll of the dice as a Bye-Week fill in. You could start him based on his HIGH upside or you could bench him because of his questionable health.
If you are a gunslinger in the fantasy football world and have ice in your veins, fire him up.
If you are a more conservative player, stay far, far away.
- Patrick White - Fantasy Sharks
Fantasy Sit Start -
Carolina at Cincinnati – Andy Dalton
Football can be an extremely frustrating game. Something as small as an injured toe can set off a sequence of events that starts off small and ends up in catastrophe. A.J. Green's toe may be the fluttering wings of a butterfly igniting the butterfly effect. The latest reports indicate that Green left practice on a cart and the team is now concerned that it is much more serious than initially thought. That’s not only awful news for Green owners, but Dalton owners should be extremely alarmed as well. Green is what makes the Cincinnati engine go. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Green is what makes Dalton a quality fantasy quarterback. Without Green, he loses his best downfield threat, his best red zone target, and his most trusted “toss up a prayer” receiver. Can Dalton still post quality numbers with a limited Green? What if Green misses a few weeks? We’ll soon find out if all of Dalton’s value is contributed to the elite play of Green.
Detroit at Minnesota – Matthew Stafford
Speaking of losing your best receiver and having the wheels fall off, Stafford could be in for a huge value hit. It has now been confirmed that Calvin Johnson is in fact playing with a high ankle sprain and he’s rumored to be shut down for a week or two to rest up. Even with an extra two weeks of rest, a high ankle sprain is a deadly blow to a wide receiver’s season. Fellow receivers like Andre Johnson and Roddy White have gone from elite to a shell of themselves for an entire season thanks to the dreaded high ankle sprain. Now it’s Johnson’s turn to hobble around the field trying to gut out games. Even before the news of the sprain, the Detroit Lions and Stafford have not resembled their rock-and-roll selves from 2013. They are having trouble moving the ball against weaker opponents in the same manner that they could last season. Much like Andy Dalton, we’re most likely going to get a good look here to see how dependent Stafford is on Johnson to get his numbers.
Denver at New York Jets – Ronnie Hillman
People seemed more excited to put a waiver on Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell at the beginning of the season than they are to scoop up Hillman in Week 6. Does anyone else see something incredibly backwards with that thinking? With Peyton Manning leading the charge, a Broncos’ running back faces less pressure in the box than any other running back in football. That means they don’t have to be special to put up great numbers, as evidenced by Knowshon Moreno in 2013. That being said, Montee Ball just could not find a groove this season before suffering a groin injury last week. Even before the injury, when he was on the sideline and Hillman was on in relief, he just seemed to be a better fit. If Hillman comes out with a bang he may not give up the starter’s job for the rest of the season. He could play the Moreno role as the all-around back here in 2014 which would be waiver wire fantasy gold. If he is continuously stuffed at the line, can’t pass block and can’t reel in easy first down passes, he could be passed by C.J. Anderson and then again by Ball upon his return. Hillman has the most value, both short and long term, on the line than other player in Week 6.
Baltimore at Tampa Bay – Vincent Jackson
All Jackson needs is a mediocre quarterback to produce monster numbers. Since his return as the starter, Mike Glennon has proven to be better than mediocre and thusly Jackson has returned to elite form. But can Glennon keep Jackson going at this level consistently to help him regain his top-10 fantasy wide receiver status? Last week was no joke, as Jackson looked the most like his old self than he has in a long time. If they can keep this up it would be difficult to rank nine receivers ahead of him. Especially given the fact that fellow receivers like Andre Johnson , Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green are all in flux with injury concerns. At this point, Jackson has a very strong chance of finishing within the top 10 fantasy receivers and in doing so earning a much higher ranking for next season.
Fantasy Football Start -
1. WR Golden Tate, DET:
Tate has become Stafford's favorite wideout this season, receiving 40 targets through 5 games. In his first first year with the Lions, he's exploded and is nearly on pace to go for 1,500 yards and 5 touchdowns. With Calvin Johnson dealing with injuries, the former Seahawks receiver will have to step up in his absence, and his back-to-back 100 yard performances show that he is doing just that. Detroit will face a solid Vikings defense in Week 6, but it shouldn't be too big a problem for QB Matt Stafford to handle. Tate is a must-start wide receiver at this point and can be used as a WR1 regardless of whether or not Megatron suits up or not.
2. QB Eli Manning, NYG:
Manning has come on strong in his last two performances, and will look to keep the ball rolling in Philadelphia Sunday night. After a miserable start to the season, Manning has thrown for 500 yards, 6 TDs against just one interception in the last 2 weeks. This week's match up is also very favorable, as The Eagles have struggled against the pass, ranking 29th by allowing 274.2 yards per game. Eli has started to show that he is on the same page with his receivers, and will thrive this week once again. The Giants quarterback can safely be used as a QB1 in standard fantasy leagues for Week 6.
1. QB Tony Romo, DAL:
Like any other quarterback this season, Tony Romo is not a recommended start against the all-encompassing Seahawks defense. Seattle ranks 5th in total yards allowed per game at 317.8, and don't expect The Cowboys to have too much success against them this week. Romo won't be able to find too many holes in their defense, as they will have RB Demarco Murray on lockdown, ranking number 1 in allowing only 62.3 rushing yards per contest. Romo and the Cowboys will struggle, and he should be avoided in all standard leagues.
2. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI:
McCoy's shady play is a cause for some serious concern for fantasy owners, as he has failed to live up to expectations. The dynamic tailback only has 1 touchdown in 5 games, and has rushed for a grand total of 273 yards, averaging out to a mediocre 54.6 yards per game. This is one year removed from McCoy gaining 1,607 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. His slow start is due in large part to an offensive line which is missing many key personnel. The Giants run defense ranks 10th in the league allowing 99 rushing yards per game, and should be able to contain McCoy. Find a reasonable replacement for the struggling back if possible.
Stay tuned to ASL for the most complete fantasy sit start advice!
WR Fantasy Injury Updates -
A.J. Green owners had an unpleasant Wednesday as news came in that Green was carted off the practice field due to an aggravated toe injury. Green is set to have an MRI and it's possible that the Bengals will shut Green down for a few weeks to get him back to 100%.
Green owners looking elsewhere for a replacement might do well to stay with some members of the Bengals receiving corps. Now that Dalton is without Green, the Bengals will likely count on Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to fill the void. Stay tuned to our injury updates on Fantasy Focus for developing news.
Sanu is the second best receiver and fantasy option on the Bengals. Sanu has five catches in two straight games and has three touchdowns in his last four games. Sanu has favorable match-ups the next two weeks against Carolina and Indy and will be the number one receiver in the passing game if Green is out this Sunday or for an extended period of time.
It's certainly possible that A.J. Green owners may have better reciever options than Sanu, but with bye weeks and injuries adding up throughout the league, owners could do much worse than Sanu.
Marvin Jones was on pace to play last Sunday against the Patriots before he suffered a setback with his ailing ankle. There isn't much news on Jones except for the fact that he's questionable for Sunday. Based on the fact that he has been on the NFL injury updates list all season and he's yet to score a fantasy point, Jones isn't worth rostering until he has a few receptions under his belt.
However, fantasy owners can't ignore the fact that Jones hauled in 51 receptions for 712 yards last season to go along with an impressive 10 touchdown catches. Jones may be out this week, but could make a very valuable fantasy stash.
- RC Fischer - Fantasy Football Metrics
Waiver Wire Pickups -
SS George Iloka, Cincinnati (Not in current Week-6, Top-40 DBs on Fantasy Pros)
During the past two games, George Iloka has 8.5 tackles per game (6.0 solo) with 0.5 PDs per game. In Week-2 vs. Matt Ryan, Iloka had 2 interceptions and 3 PDs. He's been a high-level producer in three of his four games in 2014 (the last three played). He has played all but one snap on defense through Cincy’s four games this year.
Iloka is like a linebacker playing Strong Safety. At 6'3 and 220-pounds, he's very active, and a decent (not great) tackler. He was an average-to-good player for Boise State (63 tackles in his best season in 13 games), and was a 2012 5th-round draft pick for Cincinnati.
Iloka is playing much better in the pros...and playing much better as of late. The one caution here is: His numbers have been rising with Vontaze Burfict sidelined. We'll have to see if Iloka's spike is his experience shining through, or if he's just taking advantage of an opportunity with Burfict out. Either way, he is one of the more popular fantasy pickups this week.
ILB Avery Williamson, Tennessee (Not in current Week-6, Top-40 LBs on Fantasy Pros)
Our computer scouting models are loving what it sees so far with Avery Williamson. He's had an opportunity created by an early season-ending injury to Zach Brown, and he's coming on strong since his debut in Week-3.
During the past two weeks he's had identical tackle totals: 7 tackles, 6 solos in each game. The kicker is...he's been only played about half the defensive snaps in those two games. With more time, may come a push toward double-digit tackle totals in games…he’s certainly pacing that way through the last two games. In the past three weeks, Williamson's snap counts have jumped from 13 to 26 to 54.
Williamson is a very aggressive and willing tackler. I was watching his tape against Indy and Cleveland (his last two games), and loved what I saw. Our NFL Draft scouting models liked him coming out of Kentucky this year (5th-round pick by the Titans). He has solid-OK measurables and athleticism, but his college output is what drives our computer grades: He boasted 135 tackles in 12 games in 2012, with 102 tackles in 12 games this past season. In his 2012 season, he posted 20 tackles vs. Vanderbilt...one of six games he posted 13 or more tackles in a game.
Williamson played the second most snaps of any Tennessee linebacker in Week-5 (two snaps behind Wesley Woodyard). He is a ‘bet on the come’ play…grabbing him right before a potential breakout…if there is one coming.
DT Marcell Dareus, Buffalo (Current #28 for Week-6 among the DLs)
Not that Marcell Dareus is an unknown name…most know him as the former #3 overall NFL Draft pick for Buffalo in 2011. He's been a decent pro, but not as great as once hoped. Much of what Dareus is known for is substance abuse issues and/or weight problems during the offseason.
Something has changed of late: Dareus has 5.0 sacks in his last three games, including 3.0 sacks last week against the Lions. He may just be on a hot streak, but his recent run is leaving him a little undervalued, and available off waivers for many this week.
-- R.C. Fischer
Waiver Wire Pickups -
1. RB Andre Williams, NYG:
Andre Williams stepped up when the Giants needed him most when lead halfback Rashad Jennings went down with an injury against the Falcons. Williams rushed 20 times for 65 yards and a score while adding a pair of catches for 18 yards. Though he only rushed for 3.3 yards per carry, Williams has an easy looking schedule coming up during the next couple of games.
With Rashad Jennings' MCL sprain likely sidelining him for at least 2 weeks, Williams should have a field day facing the run defenses of the Eagles (24th in the league - allowing 132 rushing yards per game) and the Cowboys (ranked 20th in allowing 122 rushing yards per game). Expect him to come close to high RB2 to low RB1 numbers during these next two contests, making him a great choice out of the fantasy pickups.
2. RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN:
Ronnie Hillman has been put in a position to succeed, as lead back Montee Ball will be missing some time after sustaining a groin injury. Hillman is not as dynamic as Ball, but he can be implemented into their offense as another player who will benefit from having Peyton Manning run the offense. With Peyton causing defenses to prepare for the pass on almost every play, Hillman should be able find some open running lanes. The 23-year-old out of San Diego State managed 64 yards on 15 carries this past Sunday, and will look to keep the ball rolling. He can be added as a short-term bye week replacement/low-end flex until Ball returns.
3. TE Dwayne Allen, IND:
Dwayne Allen is a very solid TE at this point, as he has caught 4 touchdowns in 5 games thus far. His 3 game scoring streak is quite impressive, as he has become one of Luck's favorite red-zone targets. However, he has no value outside of touchdowns. Allen has received a total of 20 targets, only averaging 4 per game. Without getting too many looks his way, it is still difficult to expect that Dwayne Allen can produce on a consistent basis. He can currently be added as a low-end TE1 until he starts receiving more targets.
4. RB Branden Oliver, SD:
Oliver stole the show in San Diego's complete dismantling of the New York Jets on Sunday. Starting tailback Donald Brown left in the first half due to a concussion, and undrafted free agent Branden Oliver exploded. He lit up the Jets for 182 total yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 touches (19 rushes and 4 receptions). The 23-year-old unexpected rising star out of Buffalo should be added in all fantasy formats, as he is likely to continue to succeed in their offense. Even if Donald Brown is cleared to play next week, it can be expected that Oliver will receive most of the carries. Oliver can be used as a low RB2 with major upside for the next few weeks.
Fantasy Injury Updates -
Ronnie Hillman has been on the fantasy radar for some time, but he may just slide into the lead back role this week with the absence of Montee Ball. Ball suffered a significant groin injury yesterday against the Cardinals and may be on the NFL injury updates list for several weeks.
Hillman rushed for 64 yards on 15 carries against the Cardinals after Ball went down. The numbers don’t sound gaudy, but Arizona has one of the better run defenses in the league. Hillman is far from a bruiser, but he makes good cuts, can catch the ball and is very quick on his feet.
He may not get as many snaps as Ball did, because BLOCKING is not his strong suit. That’s a big drawback when Peyton Manning is your quarterback, but fantasy owners looking for a boost in the running back department could do worse.
If this sounds like a lukewarm endorsement for Hillman, it is, but with this season’s deteriorating running back situation, he needs to be added in most fantasy formats. Stay tuned to our injury updates on Fantasy Focus for developing news.