- Austin Becker - Fantasy Focus
TE Fantasy Football News -
Fantasy football TE owners hoping to ride Jimmy Graham and his injured shoulder into the playoffs and beyond have been left for dead in fantasy football leagues across the country.
Many people dropped a first round draft pick on the all-star tight end who has all but disappeared since Week 10 when he blew up the 49ers with 76 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
It’s been all down hill since then, as Graham has scored less than three fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games. The New Orleans offense is usually on point this late in the season, but this year has been very different as Graham’s production has vanished.
This fantasy football stud has not been living up to his name and his skid couldn't have come at a worse time for fantasy owners. It seems unfathomable that the great Drew Brees would be struggling to get this freak of an athlete the ball during the game, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
A maddening Week 13 road matchup against the Steelers saw fantasy TE stud Graham register ZERO CATCHES ON ZERO TARGETS. As fantasy owners know all too well, Week 13 is usually the final week of the regular fantasy season that determines who makes the playoffs and who doesn't.
Week 14 turned out to be even worse for fantasy owners as they counted on Graham to break out of his slump. Instead, they watched him collapse at home against the Carolina Panthers where he converted 11 targets into 3 catches for a whopping 25 yards and no touchdowns. Some of those were bad throws, but what really hurt were the inexcusable DROPS.
Brees has been a shell of himself these few past games too and his performance directly correlates with Graham's success. Graham has been a bright spot at the tight end position for years now and despite this painful slump, that's not likely to change any time soon. Unless fantasy owners have another top 5 tight end riding the pine, Graham needs to be started yet again in all formats against the punchless Chicago Bears.
- RC Fischer - Fantasy Football Metrics
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
DB Trumaine Johnson, St. Louis
Trumaine Johnson missed the first eight weeks of the season with an injury, which has been a running theme for him during his first three NFL seasons—nicked up and missing games. However, his return to full-time action over the past few weeks has helped with a massive resurgence in the St. Louis Rams defense…one I would argue is now among the top-3 most talented in the NFL.
Johnson has some Richard Sherman like qualities as a CB…really he’s more of a Safety playing CB. He is 6’1”+, 205+, and hits ball carriers like a punishing Strong Safety. Because he is a little slower (4.5+) and not as agile, he often gives up a cushion in coverage to WRs…so he sees a lot of short passes caught in front of him, but then he closes like a linebacker and tries to blow-up the receiver-which is great for IDP/Fantasy purposes. He is a DB that sees a lot of action.
In the past three games, Johnson has averaged 6.7 tackles per game. Over his last four games, he has posted 1.7 PDs and 0.8 INTs per game. He has had an instant impact playing a lot of CB, but moves to a quasi-Safety or OLB from time-to-time. Facing ARI and NYG during the next two weeks, he should provide ample opportunity to push IDP numbers.
LB Craig Robertson, Cleveland
I was so focused on rookie Christian Kirksey when Karlos Dansby went down, that I didn’t catch 3rd year pro Craig Robertson making a move—he’s up to 10.8 tackles per game the last four weeks.
Robertson was an undrafted free agent out of North Texas in 2011, who has been productive for the Browns the last three seasons…but playing his best (FF-output) ball as of late. He is average athletically (4.75+), but a high effort guy…100+ tackles in each of his final two seasons in college. He led the Sun Belt conference in tackles in 2010 (133).
As long as Karlos Dansby is out, Robertson has a chance to post double-digit tackles and is one of the better fantasy pickups for the short term.
DB Bene Benwikere, Carolina
The Panthers dumped Antoine Cason, and installed rookie Bene Benwikere as their new starting CB last week. He answered the bell (FF-wise) with 8 tackles, 2 PDs, and a pick.
Benwikere was a CB/S hybrid for much of his college career, switching to CB later…and picking off 12 passes in his final two season of college play. In his senior season, he was 2nd in all the NCAAs with seven interceptions. He’s not a burner (4.6+) speed, but is agile with a great vertical (40.5”). He is solid…and the type of CB who will get picked on a lot the rest of the season…meaning nice opportunity for PDs and tackles.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
1. RB Andre Williams, NYG:
With starting tailback Rashad Jennings limited with an ankle injury from the previous week, Andre Williams turned in a very impressive performance. The rookie HB took 24 carries for 131 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown on the ground. With Jennings' health still a lingering issue, and the Giants having no hope of making the playoffs, they may decide to look to Williams to finish out the season as their starter. However, the rookie's stellar performance should be taken with a grain of salt as it occurred when facing the league's worst rush defense (allowing 141.5 yards per contest). Expect Andre Williams to continue to receive a significant workload, and he is one of the best fantasy pickups around as an RB2.
2. RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR:
Jonathan Stewart had himself a spectacular game as the Panthers destroyed the Saints on the road. Stewart took advantage of the absence of DeAngelo Williams (sat out with a finger injury), taking 20 carries for 155 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown. He made quick cuts, and was able to break away for a 69 yard touchdown, which is the longest of his 7 year career. Though this comes against the Saints' 29th ranked rush defense, which allows 133.5 rushing yards per game, Stewart has another easy opponent ahead of him in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stewart could be added and started immediately at RB2 in fantasy formats across the board.
3. WR Charles Johnson, MIN:
Charles Johnson has definitely solidified himself as the starting X receiver, as he has proven to be much more effective than Cordarrelle Patterson. Johnson has been given a higher snap count as of late, and has secured 15 catches for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns in Minnesota's last 4 games. Johnson may put up inconsistent performances due to weak QB play, but he will continue to see a ton of action and build rapport with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Johnson is tough to sell as an immediate starter for next week, due to a tough match with the big bad Lions defense, but he is worth a look as a WR3 with major upside in keeper leagues.
4. RB Kerwynn Williams, ARI:
Williams has the chance to take over as the starting running back from here on out due to workhorse Andre Ellington's placing on I.R., on a Cardinals team destined to make the playoffs. Williams received his first NFL carry (second-year player) against the Chiefs a week ago, yet he wound up taking control of this "committee" approach as he turned 19 touches into 100 yards (5.3 yards per carry) on the ground. He wound up out-touching fellow HB Stepfan Taylor, as Taylor turned 6 carries into 19 rushing yards (3.2 yards per carry), adding 1 catch for 7 yards. Expect Williams to continue to be the lead back in Arizona, and he can be added as a high-end RB2 with a decently high ceiling with a workload around 15-20 carries per game.
QB Fantasy Football News -
Broncos QB and perennial stud fantasy QB Peyton Manning has a long U-G-L-Y history of choking in the playoffs. The Broncos might have won the game against the Bills today, but Manning shot down fantasy owners during Week 14 with his worst performance in nearly six years of professional football.
This was a game where Peyton looked a lot more like his little brother Eli.
He finished with a disastrous stat line completing 14 of 20 passes for a scant 173 yards, NO TOUCHDOWNS and two picks. In standard and PPR leagues, he finished with two lousy fantasy points and sent many fantasy owners crashing out of the playoffs.
Even for the fantasy owners who are able to squeak through to the next round, their confidence in Manning has been shaken. Everybody has a bad day, but this was the first game where Manning had failed to record a touchdown since 2010.
Manning’s amazing streak of 51 straight games with a touchdown fell three short of the mark set by Drew Brees between 2009-2012. But many fantasy owners who crashed out of the playoffs may be cursing Manning’s name until next year's fantasy draft.
Stay tuned to Fantasy Focus for the latest QB news and QB fantasy news.
RB Fantasy Football News
Raiders running back Latavius Murray is in RB news as he has received a green light this week after making his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol. There’s been some question about his workload for Week 14, but he’s clearly the only Raiders fantasy RB worth plugging into fantasy lineups.
The Raiders are an organization known for bad decision making, but even their coaching staff should be able to understand that Murray gives the team it’s only possible shot for victory against their cross-bay rival, the San Francisco 49ers.
What really limits Murray’s potential for Week 14 is that the 49ers have a very stingy run defense that ranks fifth in the league and has held six different teams to under 100 rushing yards this season. However, the Niners run defense is clearly wearing down giving up 125 yards and a score to Alfred Morris during Week 12 and surrendering more than a 100 yards rushing last week to Marshawn Lynch.
If the Raiders are smart enough to give Murray the rock at least 15 times, he could rack up close to 100 yards with at least one score. That kind of production will help any fantasy team that’s looking for a playoff spark.
Keep reading ASL RB fantasy news for the best information this season!
RB Fantasy Football News
Rashad Jennings fantasy owners have been really pleased the last few weeks as the fantasy RB scored more than 20 points in PPR leagues and has had three straight weeks with double-digit fantasy points.
Jennings sat out the Giants final two drives after injuring his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. Before his injury, Jennings racked up 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. In RB news, Jennings hadn't practiced all week and was a limited participant on Friday.
Jennings made it clear after yesterday's practice that even if he does play, he won't be anywhere near 100%. According the the Giants coaching staff, Jennings would likely split carries right down the middle with backup RB Andre Williams.
The Giants also signed Chris Ogbonnaya on Tuesday which is not what Jennings owners wanted to see. Jennings' injury comes at a horrible time for fantasy owners as it's the first week of playoffs in a majority of the leagues and the Giants are playing the Titans who give up the fifth most points to Running Backs this season.
Jennings owners need to keep a close eye on Jennings' pre-game warm-up and see if he is active. He could end up being a top 10 RB in Week 14 if he's healthy enough to suit up. Keep a close eye on Jennings on Sunday morning and make sure you have a replacement ready.
Stay updated with ASL RB fantasy news!
1. QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT:
Roethlisberger has shown glimpses of greatness this season with some huge performances, but this week should be a lull of sorts as the Steelers take on their division rivals in Cincinnati. Cincy's defense is starting to play at an elite level, as they have allowed 13 points or less in each of their last 3 games. Roethlisberger will have a tough time making plays against this stout pass defense, despite having playmakers like Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Big Ben is also dealing with an injury to his throwing hand that could limit his big play capabilities. Consider Roethlisberger nothing more than a weak QB2.
2. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI:
McCoy has exploded as of late, totaling 289 yards and 2 touchdowns in Philly's last two games combined, but do not expect similar production for week 14. Shady McCoy has finally taken off this season, but has a very difficult matchup at home this week against a punishing Seattle defense. The Hawks rank 4th (tied with the Ravens) in allowing just 86.3 rushing yards per contest, and have not allowed a rusher to reach 30 yards on the ground during their last 2 games. Expect the red-hot Seattle defense to pressure McCoy and company significantly, and take away the opportunity for big plays to be made. McCoy should not be used as anything more than a middle-of-the-pack RB2.
1. RB Frank Gore, SF:
Gore is coming off a 28 yard rushing performance, but has the perfect chance to turn things around versus the hopeless Oakland Raiders. The Raiders rank 27th in surrendering 130.5 rushing yards per game, and Frank Gore should have a field day with them. Oakland took on the St. Louis last week, and allowed Rams RB Tre Mason to pick up 117 yards and 2 TDs on just 14 carries, and expect their defense woes to continue. Gore will find plenty of running lanes to exploit, and can be implemented into starting lineups as a high RB2 with RB1 potential in fantasy leagues across the board.
2. WR Kenny Stills, NO:
Kenny Stills will look to keep the ball rolling as he comes off a 5-162-1 spectacular performance, as the Saints took down the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stills was targeted a team-high 6 times, comfortably being used as Drew Brees' number one option. This trend should continue as the Panthers will look to limit Jimmy Graham's effectiveness, likely leaving Stills with single coverage for most of the contest. The Panthers rank 17th in allowing 243.5 passing yards per game, making them decent at best. Expect Kenny Stills to continue to shine in Brandin Cooks' absence, and to pan out as a high-end WR2 this week, with low WR1 potential for the rest of the season. He is a good fantasy football start option.
Keep reading ASL for the best fantasy sit start guidance.
- Austin Becker - Fantasy Focus
RB Fantasy Football News
There are three running backs in the New Orleans Saints backfield that want to be fed, but there is only one that fantasy owners want to own and that back is the former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. That leaves Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson mostly out of the mix. These are two fantasy RBs that should only be on your roster if you are in deep leagues or flat out desperate.
Ingram finally appears to be answer to Sean Peyton's running game woes in New Orleans. In every game that Ingram played in this season, he's gotten a minimum of 11 carries. Last week, Ingram gained 122 yards on 23 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thomas only saw 3 carries last week and doesn’t seem to have much value in the running game.
In RB fantasy news, Ingram is seventh among fantasy backs in fantasy points per game and is facing a Carolina Panthers defense that looks nothing short of terrible. This is not the same defense that was feared last year and Ingram should have ample success against them. The Panthers front is surrendering the 10th most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.
Ingram did take a while to get back into the swing if things after he returned from injury. During Weeks 11 and 12, he rushed for only a combined 94 yards on 34 carries. He's also not an accomplished pass catcher, which will give Thomas some PPR value in deeper leagues. Robinson returns this week, but is likely to have very little value being 3rd in the pecking order.
The running back that has the most value in New Orleans is without a doubt Ingram. Fantasy owners should put faith in the former Heisman Trophy winner who has been reminding us of his days with Nick Sabin in Alabama. If you are in the fantasy playoffs, ride Ingram as a top-flight RB2 for the rest of the season.
Stay tuned to ASL for the most up to date RB news!
- RC Fischer - Fantasy Football Metrics
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
FS Phillip Thomas, Washington
Redskins’ starting FS Brandon Meriweather has a sprained toe that will probably end his 2014 as he will surely miss the next few weeks. This opens the door for Phillip Thomas who is likely to take his place for the rest of the season. Here’s why you might care for Fantasy purposes… Thomas was the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference. Check out his final college season numbers, keeping in mind that he is a Safety…not a Cornerback: 84 tackles with 8 interceptions…three of them returned for TDs, along with 12 TFLs, 4.0 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 13 PDs. He led the NCAA in interceptions and was 4th in forced fumbles during his final college season (2012). The great 2012 led him to become the Redskins 4th-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft—it also helped that he ran a 4.5+ 40-time with terrific agility at his NFL Combine and Pro Days with size…6’0”, 208 (now 220+).
Post-NFL Draft, Thomas’s NFL journey hit a few road blocks. During his 2013 NFL preseason debut, he hurt his foot…a Lisfranc and was lost for the season. During the 2014 preseason, he had foot and hamstring issues—and was cut, but then stashed on the practice squad. Finally, in November 2014, he was activated and started playing. He recovered a fumble in limited time during Week 12. When Meriweather went down, Thomas played plenty of minutes during Week 13, registering five tackles. Re-watching his college tape and reviewing his snaps from Week 13: Thomas is a very nice, aggressive tackler, but more than that he has a ‘nose for the ball’. He just seems to be in the right place at the right time for creating turnovers or recovering fumbles. Thomas is in line for a ton of work ROS, and don’t be shocked if he has 8+ tackles per game with a few picks sprinkled in. He is one of the better fantasy pickups if available in leagues.
FS Daimion Stafford, Tennessee
Stafford has been playing about 25-50% of the defensive snaps in games since Week 6 with recently increasing statistical output. In two of his last three games, Stafford has registered six or more tackles. In the one game where he did not hit the 6+ tackle mark, he picked off a pass and posted two PDs. As Tennessee crashes and burns, keep an eye on Stafford getting more time at Safety. Stafford was a 7th-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2013. During his final season in college (2012), he had 96 tackles with four interceptions (led the Big Ten) and 11 PDs (3rd in the Big Ten). He’s a physically big Safety at 6’1”, 218-pounds…more strong (21 bench reps) than athletic (4.6+ runner with marginal agility).
Watching Stafford on tape during the last few weeks, he's had several impressive solo tackles and/or big hits on guys like Arian Foster and Le’Veon Bell. He’s a scrapper who is getting nice tackle counts with only limited playing time. He might be a 8-10+ tackle per game surprise with more playing time as the season winds down.
CB Anthony Levine, Baltimore
During the past two weeks, Anthony Levine has dialed up 9.5 tackles and 0.5 PDs per game as he takes over for injured CB Jimmy Smith. Levine is a track athlete type of football talent: 4.4+ runner with excellent agility, burst, and bench press. He was undrafted out of Tennessee State in 2010, and played with Green Bay before joining the Ravens. He has all the athletic skills and appears to be a high effort guy. He is a solid tackler, but is racking up more numbers of late because he is quick to the ball/any play, and he is getting picked on a bunch as the inexperienced CB. During Week 13, Philip Rivers was playing pitch & catch with Keenan Allen in front of Levine. To his credit, Levine kept Allen in front of him mostly, allowing minor gains on plays. Levine will keep getting work the rest of 2014, and he will get picked on for the rest of the season too—which means he should have decent tackle and PD numbers to go along with it.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
1. RB Dan Herron, IND:
Boom Herron showed off his ability to make an impact despite receiving minimal touches in Indy's win over Washington. The 3rd-year back took 8 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown (11 yards per carry), and added 2 catches for 8 yards, but also coughed up a fumble. Despite losing a fumble in each of his last two games, Herron is receiving praise from Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano, and should continue to see more touches than Trent Richardson. Richardson also received 8 carries, and was only able to gain 12 yards from those carries. He has proven to be an ineffective runner for the Colts, and Herron's 88 rushing yard performance was higher than any total Richardson's produced in almost two seasons in Indianapolis. Boom Herron is now the feature back in Indy, and is one of the better fantasy pickups as an RB2 with upside as a solid contrast to Andrew Luck's pass-heavy offense.
2. TE Jordan Reed, WAS:
Reed looked like a lost cause in a weak Redskins offense, but came alive as he secured 9 of 11 targets for 123 yards. The injury-ridden tight end has had a tough time producing too much when healthy enough to play, but has shown flashes of fantasy excellence with Colt McCoy at quarterback. McCoy has shown his liking of Reed, targeting him 18 times in the 2 games they have played together. With McCoy most likely retaining the starting job in Washington for the rest of the season, Reed may be a hidden gem for fantasy playoffs. Reed is a big athletic target at the tight end position, similar to Julius Thomas. He is a tough guard for defenses, and with McCoy at the helm, Reed is worth an add as a TE1 with major upside as a redzone threat.
3. QB Johnny Manziel, CLE:
Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine has yet to name his starting QB for next week, but it has to be Manziel. Brian Hoyer has faded as of late, throwing 0 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in his last two starts. Hoyer was benched for Manziel in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to the Bills, and Manziel led the Browns to their only touchdown drive as the rookie ran it into the end zone from 10 yards out. The Browns are one of many teams fighting to make the playoffs, and they may just have to turn to Manziel to try and get them there. The former Heisman winner from Texas A&M is a dual threat at the position, who makes big plays both through the air and on the ground. He has established himself as a true winner, and hopefully that will translate well into the NFL. Manziel has one of the best wideouts in the league in Josh Gordon at his disposal, and this should aid in his ability to succeed. Consider Johnny Manziel a QB2 with upside as a mobile quarterback.