School’s back in session for the year, and for all you youngins, let me give you a word of advice. It’s all about he long haul. Pile up some reps early in the season to get good – learn the tricks – so you’re not the loser on prom night. No one wants to be that guy. Figure out as much as you can and when crunch time finally arrives you’ll be set.
Use these first few weeks discovering your team, which guys to start and sit each week and how your squad meshes together. Do you want to go risky in your FLEX spot, or is taking the low ceiling, safe player a better fit? These are answer you need to have. Doing well out of the gate is fine, but you really want to be peaking at the end of the season…
Points per reception (PPR) scoring must be treated differently than standard leagues. Receivers and scat backs like Darren Sproles, Jacquizz Rodgers and Roy Helu have inflated value in PPR scoring. As do possession receivers – Wes Welker, Danny Amendola and others in their mold are safer options. Catches tend to be more consistent and predictive. Obviously, touchdowns and yards are still important, but when considering FLEX options exploit any advantage you can. For standard scoring, running backs with hands of stone like Alfred Morris, BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Daryl Richardson all see their stocks rise without catches in the mix.
DeSean Jackson: I’m a true believer in Chip Kelly, well, Chip Kelly’s offense. But that’s mainly a product of watching him terrorize my poor Trojans with his hyper offense for the last half decade. And I think it’s going to translate to the NFL pretty seamlessly, at least initially. Until defenses can adapt to the Eagles new style. The system needs athletes, and Jackson is probably over qualified for that title. Expect D Jax to be all over the field against the ‘skins, collecting short receptions, setting up a few deep shots later. Will he grab them? How should I know? I’m not the Stupendous Yappi. That’s all on Jackson. But, the opportunity will be there. And if he can manage to haul in a bomb, pray he doesn’t drop the ball before he crosses the goal line.
Darren McFadden: People loath Darren McFadden so much at this point it’s kind of alarming. He hasn’t done anything to you, besides let down your Fantasy squad every year. And if you’ve never owned him, there’s absolutely no reason for spewing vitriol in his general vicinity. McFadden’s frustrating, and you’ve probably instituted a rule: No more drafting Run DMC, even if he does possess the league’s best nickname. But that’s all injury related. Performance wise – on the whole – he’s been terrific when healthy. So use him this week, while he’s still spry.
Yes, I’m aware the Raiders offense sucks, that hasn’t eluded me, but the Colts defense is equally brutal. If I had written a giant ‘56’ on a streaming heap of garage this summer it would have gotten 4-years and 15 million guaranteed from Indy. McFadden’s not (currently) hurt, and Terrelle Pryor’s mobility and ability to burn defenses deep down field with his rocket-laser arm should create enough room for McFadden to operate. Plus, DMC’s always a fixture in the dump-off passing game, I’d set his floor at five receptions. Not a bad base to build from.
Reggie Bush: Soooooooooooo much to like about Reggie Bush this year. Especially in PPR. If the Vikings do anything well – outside of handing the ball to AP – it’s getting after the quarterback. And we know the Lions O-Line isn’t spectacular. Ok, ‘isn’t spectacular’ is probably too nice – It reeks. But, that’s perfect for Bush. Matt Stafford has shown an affinity for checking down under pressure. It allows him to unleash one of his favorite things – SIDE ARM THROWS! How else do you think Joique Bell ended up with 52 catches last year? And Bush is 63 times the pass catcher. This is setting up to be a huge week for Sir Reginald. One of Stafford’s other favorite things? Watching his girlfriend cut rugs. I said cut!
Pierre Garcon: Health is the only limiting Pierre Garcon from superstardom. I suppose that’s a fairly blanket statement, however, as it applies to a passel of players. But unlike McFadden, Garcon’s surroundings create the perfect situation for him to excel. A great QB and killer running game can do wonders for a big-bodied receiver, especially when he’s consistently facing single coverage because of those factors. Garcon lit it up after returning last season and I’d expect more of the same in week one. I always gravitate towards wideouts participating in probable shootouts and, honestly, is there really anyway Eagles/Redskins doesn’t produce 70 total points? So start Garcon, then go lay some cash on the over if there’s still time.
Eddy Lacy: This seems like a no-brainer sit, right? Lets see: Lacy’s a rookie running back, in his first game, playing on a team that refuses to run the ball because its O-Line can’t actually block, squaring off with a defense that that has become synonymous with “Shutdown” the last few years. Sure, give me that guy, he sounds great! Maybe he hauls in a few passes or snakes a greasy TD on the goal line, but that’s a base case scenario. You can’t play Lacy unless you’re completely desperate.
Golden Tate: There’s a common thread with all those that plummeted in the rankings this week: Unknown opportunity. All these guys have upside, enough to rise into the elite at their respective positions, but I’m far more comfortable starting a known commodity in the opener, one whose production is a tad more predictable. Tate’s performance week-to-week was capricious a year ago and nothing has really changed in the Seahawks offense. Just because Percy Harvin isn’t there, doesn’t instantly make Tate Percy Harvin. He’s still Golden Tate: A ton of talent fused with a crippling lack of consistency. I blame it on his subpar schooling – although my alma mater is probably not something to brag about at the moment. Maybe in his contract year he finally puts together a complete season, but I’m dubious. Prove it to me first.
Gio Bernard: Ditto with Gio. For all the love hurled in his direction, it’s easy to forget that BenJarvis Green-Ellis is still the official starter in Cincinnati. I like Bernard long-term, as that job will eventually belong to him and possesses passing catching ability that could make him Reggie Bush-lite, but for this week I can’t guarantee he sees more than five touches against the Bears. There’s just tremendous letdown potential. Stay away.
Chris Ivory & Bilal Powell: I don’t care who’s starting and who’s Rex Ryan’s designated driver at tailgates, they’re both running backs for the Jets. That’s bad. Let’s just call all of them “must sits” until further notice. But, if your hand is forced and you need to start one, I’d still go with Ivory. He’s just better.
Keep an Eye On…
Chris Givens: There’s a common FLEX line of thinking that has people going out of their way to start a running back in that slot. That’s dated thinking. Anyone who preaches it as an ironclad Fantasy credo probably still thinks RBIs are relevant baseball stats while continuously making claims that Susan B. Anthony was a witch. Nonsense. In an era where committee backfields are more prevalent than popped collars – reference circa 2008: FYI Bob Craft – it’s devalued running backs to the point where you should probably be turning to wide receivers for your FLEX, even in non-PPR formats. They’re generally better options – at least based on consistency. That’s why Chris Givens is so intriguing this week. Buzz surrounding him during the preseason acted like homemade bread; every time you checked back in, he was rising. In fact, no player – except Kenbrell Thompkins, of course – gained more value during draft season without really doing that much. But, it’s a bit difficult to gauge how impactful he’ll actually be on the field. Especially compared to other similarly valued options like Brian Hartline, DeAngelo Williams and Kenny Britt. But you know he’s going to be on the field and there were good reasons the Fantasy community at large started sporting a theoretical chubby for him. Maybe literal too! Although that would just be bizarre.
Against Arizona, Givens should have no issues finding space to operate. Even though the Cards are expected to have a respectable secondary, they may be victims of turnover. Only Patrick Peterson returns to the unit, and it’s doubtful he sticks on Givens the entire game. We know Givens a legit deep threat, so one long strike could be a game’s worth of points. And, he was getting some love inside the redzone in the preseason form Sam Bradford too. Maybe it translates. That would only enhance his value.
Shane Vereen: You won’t find a better upside gamble than Vereen this week. The Bills defense is putrid and can be completely exposed in the flats. This is what happens when your organization pretends linebackers don’t exist on draft day. Many are pimping Stevan Ridely this week, justifiably I may add. But Vereen can post close to or better numbers than Ridley. He’s the superior pass catcher – dancer too – and in a game that could get out of control by the 10 minute mark of the first quarter, Vereen could start seeing a loads reps very quickly.
Jacquizz Rodgers & Danny Woodhead: Anticipate a lot of passing from the Falcons and Chargers this week. And when there’s plenty of passing afoot, it’s time to turn to the some of the league’s premier pass catchers. Now, neither has 15-foot ceilings in their living rooms, but they do live in apartments with levels – their floor is slightly elevated. If you need some safe points from your FLEX, in deeper PPR leagues, they’re your guys.
Rankings set to PPR scoring format:
1 point for every 10 yards Rushing/Receiving
1 point per reception
6 points per Touchdown
1 Calvin Johnson, 2 Adrian Peterson, 3 Jamaal Charles, 4 LeSean McCoy, 5 Dez Bryant, 6 Jimmy Graham, 7 Andre Johnson, 8 Reggie Wayne, 9 Marshawn Lynch, 10 Brandon Marshall.
11 C.J. Spiller, 12 Doug Martin, 13 A.J. Green, 14 Matt Forte, 15 Darren McFadden, 16 Reggie Bush, 17 Julio Jones, 18 Larry Fitzgerald, 19 Danny Amendola, 20 Pierre Garcon.
21 Victor Cruz, 22 Arian Foster, 23 Darren Sproles, 24 DeMarco Murray, 25 Jason Witten, 26 Frank Gore, 27 Trent Richardson, 28 Roddy White, 29 Marques Colston, 30 David Wilson.
31 Ahmad Bradshaw, 32 Stevan Ridley, 33 Dwayne Bowe, 34 Tony Gonzalez, 35 Randall Cobb, 36 Hakeem Nicks, 37 Vincent Jackson, 38 Alfred Morris, 39 Maurice Jones-Drew, 40 Chris Johnson.
41 Antonio Brown, 42 DeSean Jackson, 43 Cecil Shorts, 44 Miles Austin, 45 Ryan Mathews, 46 Steven Jackson, 47 Daryl Richardson, 48 Steve Smith, 49 Mike Wallace, 50 Stevie Johnson.
51 James Jones, 52 Jordy Nelson, 53 Lamar Miller, 54 Shane Vereen, 55 Golden Tate, 56 Chris Givens, 57 T.Y. Hilton, 58 Eddie Lacy, 59 Lance Moore, 60 DeAngelo Williams.
61 Kenbrell Thomkins, 62 Brian Hartline, 63 Kenny Britt, 64 Vernon Davis, 65 Emmanuel Sanders, 66 Anquan Boldin, 67 Antonio Gates, 68 Jordon Cameron, 69 Mike Williams, 70 Tavon Austin.
71 Isaac Redman, 72 Vick Ballard, 73 Fred Jackson, 74 Greg Jennings, 75 Sidney Rice, 76 Ryan Broyles, 77 Kendall Wright, 78 BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 79 Rashard Mendenhall, 80 Julian Edleman.
81 Brandon Pettigrew, 82 Brandon Myers, 83 Owen Daniels, 84 Denarius Moore, 85 Ben Tate, 86 Greg Olsen, 87 Kyle Rudolph, 88 Zach Sudfeld, 89 Vincent Brown, 90 Pierre Thomas.
91 Darrius Heyward-Bey, 92 Jacquizz Rodgers, 93 Giovanni Bernard, 94 Danny Woodhead, 95 Alshon Jeffery, 96 Bryce Brown, 97 Mark Ingram, 98 Greg Little, 99 Andre Roberts, 100 Mohamed Sanu.
101 DeAndre Hopkins, 102 Brandon LaFell, 103 Fred Davis, 104 Michael Floyd, 105 Michael Bush, 106 Chris Ivory, 107 Bilal Powell, 108 Joique Bell, 109 Jermichael Finley, 110 Coby Fleener.
111 Jared Cook, 112 Reuben Randle, 113 Riley Cooper
114 Quinton Patton, 115 Roy Helu, 116 Cordarrelle Patterson, 117 Kenny Stills, 118 Felix Jones, 119 Martellus Bennett, 120 Dwayne Allen.
121 Nate Burleson, 122 Santana Moss, 123 Jeremy Kerley, 124 Robert Woods, 125 Kendall Hunter, 126 Rod Streater, 127 Markus Wheaton, 128 Aaron Dobson, 129 Scott Chandler, 130 Brent Celek.
131 Zach Miller, 132 Leonard Hankerson, 133 Daniel Thomas, 134 Jermaine Gresham, 135 Tyler Eifert, 136 Jacob Tamme, 137 Shonn Greene, 138 LaMichael James, 139 Donnie Avery, 140. Jarius Wright.
141 Isaiah Pead, 142 Davone Bess, 143 Marcel Reece, 144 Mike Tolbert, 145 Nate Washington, 146 Keenan Allen, 147 Stephen Hill, 148 Marlon Moore, 149 Robert Turbin, 150 Jason Snelling.
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