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If your fantasy squad survived the prior two weeks with a total of 9 teams hitting their early bye week, I have good news: Week 7 provides a bit of breathing room with only the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans taking the week off. If you limped through these last two weeks desperate for some roster stability, I have bad news: The heaviest bye weeks are fast approaching in Weeks 8 & 9, so it may be prudent to load the end of your bench with the future in mind.
With that said, it's time to help out those who may be scrambling to fill the space for guys like WR DeAndre Hopkins and QB Matthew Stafford. This column will of course become more expansive over the next few weeks as more teams enter their bye, but this should provide a solid foundation for what to expect. As a quick run through of the rules, I will discuss one-week fill-in options for each position in a buy or sell model, which should shed some light on who I'm fading and who I'm prioritizing to add. All players will be <50% ownership per ESPN so it applies to larger leagues.
Jared Goff vARI: Buy
Sitting at just under 20% ownership and trending down after posting 1 TD to 3 turnovers in his last 2 games, Jared Goff may seem like a tough name to trust in your starting lineup this week. There's reason for optimism. In 3 home games this season, Goff has averaged 271 yards through the air as opposed to 224 on the road. Also, sitting at a 47.5 point total in the Vegas odds -- the third highest total of the week -- this should be a game where both offenses are playing catch-up with the other. CB Patrick Peterson is also looking questionable for Sunday's game with a quad injury that removed him from last week's game against Tampa Bay, which would only further improve Goff's outlook. If you're wondering how to replace Stafford or Deshaun Watson, or maybe even insurance for Jameis Winston, look no further than the developing sophomore.
Tyrod Taylor vTB: Sell
This one might seem confusing. I mean, Tampa Bay has been getting shredded through the air and the Bills are coming off their bye week. Even so, Buffalo will be without TE Charles Clay and WR Jordan Matthews, which eliminates a large portion of this Bills aerial attack. With Winston certainly at less than 100% on the other side, I'm forecasting a low-scoring, run-oriented football game that gives RBs LeSean McCoy and Doug Martin a chance to breakout. Taylor has gone over 20 points once this season in standard scoring, providing owners with very little upside if they're in need of production from the QB position. You could certainly do worse considering the positive context for the Bills, but I would prefer a riskier option like Eli Manning, who should be forced to throw a ton against a Seattle defense that has been sturdy against the run as of late, or whoever starts for the Browns, considering how bad the Titans secondary has been and the anticipated game script for the Cleveland offense.
Charles Sims @BUF / Marlon Mack vJAX / Devontae Booker @LAC: Buys
As you can see, this is tailored more for those in PPR leagues, but these just happen to be the <50% owned backs that I like this week. Starting with Sims, his fantasy points have increased every week this season and his receiving role seems to have stabilized with 9 receptions on 12 targets over the last 2 weeks. With either a shell of Winston or pop-gun Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center, Sims should be relied upon underneath as a safety valve so Tampa Bay isn't forced to throw downfield. Mack's hype wagon is gaining even more steam as Colts heartthrob Robert Turbin looks to be out for the season after an injury on Monday night. The Jaguars suffocate opposing passing games, which should mean a heavy dose of Gore and Mack for this Colts offense. Finally, Booker looked like the most electric RB on the Broncos roster on Sunday night, tallying 78 receiving yards on only 4 catches. With CJ Anderson struggling mightily to get it going between the tackles and the Broncos seemingly unwilling to increase Charles' workload, Booker could be a very sneaky breakout candidate against a Chargers defense that leads the league in missed tackles.
Elijah McGuire @MIA / Alex Collins @MIN / Darren McFadden @SF: Sells
It's time to close the book on the Elijah McGuire experiment for fantasy purposes. Sitting at just below 35% ownership, that number should plummet after last week's showing against a paper thin Patriots defense. In fact, outside of a wide open 69-yard TD run against the Jaguars, McGuire has averaged 2.2 YPC over his last 30 carries. Those are his 3 games with double digit carries, providing owners with a reasonable enough sample size to determine that McGuire will not capitalize on the short-term absences of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Alex Collins touch rate is encouraging, but facing a suffocating Vikings run defense on the road shouldn't be the spot where he's inserted into your starting lineup. This should serve as a reminder that Zeke Elliott is still not suspended (and probably won't be for the entirety of this season), so keep Run DMC out of your lineups.
Robert Woods vARI / Taylor Gabriel @NE / Ricardo Louis vTEN: Buys
If Goff is my favorite streaming option at QB this week, it only makes sense that his top wideout would be amongst my favorite streaming WRs. It's a bit silly that Woods sits at a 12.5% ownership rate considering the fact he leads a hot Rams offense in routes, targets, and receiving yards. Sammy Watkins may have the name value here, but Woods clearly has the chemistry with his QB. With Patrick Peterson limited and/or focused on Watkins, Woods should be able to take advantage and post his 4th 5+ catch game in his last 5 outings. Gabriel should be a popular pickup this week as Sanu battles an injury and the Falcons draw a Patriots secondary that gives up passing yards by the boatload. This contest sits at a Vegas point total of 54, which is by far the highest of the weekend. That should signal lots of scoring opportunities in New England. Maybe I'm foolish for going back to the well on Louis, especially since we aren't 100% certain who the Browns will play at QB for four quarters, but Louis appears to clearly be their top receiver with Corey Coleman out, and the Titans had been getting gutted through the air before meetings with Jay Cutler and Jacoby Brissett the past two weeks. To be fair, it's not like Louis has anything better.
Donte Moncrief vJAX / Marqise Lee @IND / Roger Lewis vSEA: Sells
I imagine some people might try point chasing this week after Moncrief posted a season-high 5 catches and 67 yards last week. My advice....don't. He draws a suffocating Jaguars pass defense that should make life on Jacoby Brissett and the Colts offensive line miserable. The Jaguars should focus on making this a short game with Fournette & Ivory, limiting the Colts offensive opportunities. This is the exact reason why I'm also fading Lee, who might otherwise appear to be in a good situation against a bottom-tier Indianapolis secondary. Even so, the Jaguars will look to limit Bortles attempts as much as possible, severely limiting Lee's upside. If you're thinking Roger Lewis deserves another chance to shine in your starting lineup, I'd recommend giving it another week or two. He'll face a Seattle secondary capable of eliminating perimeter threats....if we want to call Lewis that.
Ed Dickson @CHI / Jack Doyle vJAX: Buys
In case you're worried about Dickson after his relative clunker last week, don't be. He saw his highest snap % of the season and a season-best of 8 targets. Better days are ahead as QB Cam Newton was even more inaccurate than normal. What's important is knowing that he's been heavily involved the past 2 weeks. Against a Chicago defense that has been better against the run than the pass, Dickson should once again have his chances. Doyle had a big game on paper against the Titans, but looked brutal with a handful of drops and/or fumbles. Even so, he's the top interior target on this team and the Jaguars are making a living off taking away the oppositions perimeter threats with Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. Doyle should see high volume again.
Zach Miller vCAR / Benjamin Watson @MIN
Miller's fluky touchdowns the past two weeks might fool silly owners into thinking he's a viable streaming option this week, but you know better than that. Despite being one of the best receiving options on the Bears, Miller hasn't exceeded 3 catches since Week 2 and hasn't gone over 50 yards all year. There's incredibly little upside with playing him. This is an offense that prefers to run the ball every play if they can. Watson might be in consideration when you think the Vikings have struggled with TEs this season and Flacco won't have much help on the outside with a less-than-healthy Jeremy Maclin. Even with the projected volume, Watson is dead last in YPC for TEs since Week 2 and the Ravens are a nightmare on offense this season.
Whether you're desperate to fill lineup vacancies or simply looking for end-of-bench stashes to get ahead of the upcoming waiver interest, these should be useful names to file away as guys available in the majority of leagues.
Let us know what you think of this weeks topic and format so we can continue to improve the material we produce. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated!
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Every week is another week to evaluate potential draft prospects, and see whose stock is rising and whose stock is falling. Obviously, none of these guys are going to live or die by one week, so it's more important to look at how they progress over the course of the season than any one game under the microscope.
Saquon Barkley [RB; Penn State]
I wasn't planning on putting anyone whose stock was pretty much cemented in the 1st round into these, but it's hard to ignore the productive day by Saquon Barkely. He showed just about every facet of his game as he led his team with 28 rushing attempts and 12 receptions in Penn State's win over Iowa. He showed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, ability to run the ball into the teeth of the defense, and shown the ability to turn the corner. From what I saw, he wasn't asked much in terms of pass protection but that's usually the last thing that RBs especially star RBs get in terms of the development curve. Barring injury, he is quickly solidifying himself as a potential top 10 pick in next year's draft.
Deontay Burnett [WR; USC]
While the numbers might not be overly impressive, he continues to produce incredibly well and shows a good amount of polish for being a younger receiver. He's not blessed with incredible physical tools at just 6'0", 170 but he gets the most out of his tools and is explosive after the catch. He might not be more than a slot receiver at the next level given his small frame, but teams are going to get the ball in his hands and let him make plays. He definitely plays bigger than he is listed. I think he could put on some more weight onto his frame would help his draft stock, especially if he doesn't lose his explosiveness.
Bradley Chubb [EDGE; NC State]
Another guy who had an absolute big day against Florida State as he finished with 7 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 TFL as he lived in the Seminoles' backfield. In previous years, I had some concerns with his ability in terms of run defense but he showed solid fundamentals against Florida State and did a pretty good job of setting the edge. Add on his ability to turn the corner and Chubb is seeing his stock moving in the right direction. He made his presence felt with repeated hits on James Blackman. IF Chubb can continue to put up big numbers over the rest of the season, he's going to parlay it into a high draft pick.
Josh Allen [QB; Wyoming]
After going 9-24 for 64 passing yards and an interception against Oregon, he backed that up with 9-19 with 92 passing yards and a passing TD showing against Hawaii that has the 115th worst passing defense according to QBR. Let's not sugar coat this, his receivers are miserable and I counted at least four catchable balls that were dropped on him in the first half alone. That being said, he's still got his fair share of issues. He still struggles to make what should be relatively easy throws, and he struggles with the consistency in his footwork. That being said, someone is going to gamble on him based on the physical tools, but there's too many question marks to invest anything significant into him. I might be willing to gamble a late Day 2 pick on him, but he's a 4th-5th rounder at best for me right now.
Mason Rudolph [QB; Oklahoma State]
Oh what a week's difference makes in the eyes of evaluators. After getting significant praise for his play against Pitt, he struggled significantly against TCU and their 4-2-5 defense. After posting big numbers in his previous games, he struggled to the tune of 22-41 for 398 passing yards, 2 passing TD, and 2 interceptions. Of those 398 receiving yards, 86 of them came via the first TD pass of the day for Rudolph. One of the things that stood out to me in this game was his lack of feel for pressure. He had the fumble early in the 2nd quarter, but he also had pressure that would have been a sack had the defender not slipped. His intermediate accuracy tends to be very hit or miss, and the offense he plays in really doesn't do him any favors in terms of evaluation. I'm not sure his decision making or accuracy are on par with an NFL-starting QB, and at this point probably isn't worth more than a mid-round pick at the earliest. Honestly, I view him as Mike Glennon with a bit less arm strength, but a bit more accuracy.
Arden Key [EDGE; LSU]
After going into the offseason with top 10 hype, the stock of Key has dropped significantly. After sitting out through offseason practice to focus on his personal life and missing the first two games of the season, Arden has been virtually non-existent which includes his team's win against Mississippi State. At this point, his stock is trending in the wrong direction and moving away from a potential first round pick as he starts the year with just 0.5 sacks over his first two games. He'll need to turn the corner if he wants to regain that stock he had after last season.
It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes, and talent evaluators will certainly be keeping a close eye on them.
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