FANTASY VALUE IN SAN DIEGO DOESN’T INCLUDE MATHEWS
[caption id="attachment_54820" align="alignright" width="300"] <em><strong>Even when healthy, Ryan Mathews isn't the best running back to own in San Diego.</strong> Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/">San Diego Shooter</a></em>[/caption]
When it comes time to set your lineup, what do you do? Check the rankings from your favorite Fantasy site? Ask your friends, neighbors or colleagues? Pose a question to someone on Twitter? Do you look at the matchups yourself and see who has a favorable opponent? Do you look at your opponent's roster and try to see how your team would stack up (a strategy I do not recommend, for what it's worth)? There is so much thought and research that can go into a simple lineup decision. Trust me, I know. And here's some advice for you; don't overthink it.
Last weekend, I benched Larry Fitzgerald. For DeAndre Hopkins. I may be an "expert" here, but I make bad calls just as often as I make good ones. My logic was sound: Fitzgerald had a balky hamstring. There was only a 50/50 chance he would even play. It was the late game and I didn't have anyone else playing in the later time slots that I could plug in if needed. I had to make the call before the 1 p.m. games. I thought Hopkins had a good matchup and had big-play potential. Sure, I could end up with a five-point day, but there was upside. I played Fitzgerald in Week 2 when he had hamstring issues and ended up with his two-catch, 33-yard performance in my starting lineup. Had it not been for his 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run on Sunday, he would have had a similar stat line.
What's the bottom line? Don't get cute. Start your studs. Take matchups into account as a secondary thought, but not the primary one. Look at Tony Romo in Week 6. He played against one of the worst defenses in the NFL in the Redskins. He ended up with 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Not quite the stat line you would expect. I have both Romo and Peyton Manning, and for a minute I debated whom to start in Week 6. Manning vs. Jacksonville and the questions of what happened if they got up big or Romo vs. one of the worst defenses in the league? I went Manning and am glad I did. Don't get cute.
See what the Pink Football predicts this week.
1. The biggest beneficiary of Julio Jones' injury won't be Harry Douglas, but rather Jacquizz Rodgers.
Things went from bad to worse in Atlanta after they found out that Julio Jones would be done for the season. Next, Roddy White had not only tweaked his high ankle sprain but also had a hamstring injury. Steven Jackson isn't practicing, although he was supposedly going to be back in Week 7. Tony Gonzalez is still there and reports are that he's not going to be traded. So where does that leave Atlanta's offense? Well, it should be interesting, but here's a theory: look to Jacquizz Rodgers.
He's outplayed and started over Jason Snelling. While Jackson is out, he's the guy to start if you're looking for an Atlanta running back. The Falcon's best option at wide receiver is Harry Douglas, who’s had the opportunity to shine before but hasn't taken advantage of it. There's not a lot of optimism that he's going to be the stud to turn your Fantasy season around. He's averaged one touchdown a season for the past four seasons he's played. He had one game in 2011 where he had eight receptions for 113 yards. That's the only time he's had over 100 receiving yards and more than five receptions in a game. I don't doubt that the Falcons will use him however they can. He'll get targets out of desperation, not out of talent. Desperation targets can still equal Fantasy points if they're caught; there is potential there, but not upside.
If you're looking for upside, look for Rodgers. He's a pass-catching running back with 17 receptions on the year. If the Falcons start getting creative, look for Quizz to be used as a receiver on some downs. He can line up out wide, he can catch screen passes and he can outrun defenses. Until the Falcons can figure out how their offense will work without Julio Jones (or Roddy White), look for Rodgers to step up his game and play more of an offensive role.
2. There is Fantasy value to be had in San Diego - just not where we originally thought.
No one thought that Ryan Mathews was going to be the stud on their Fantasy football team, but no one also thought that Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen and Philip Rivers would be every-week Fantasy starters. Rivers is typically ranked in the Top 10 quarterbacks, depending on matchup. Woodhead is a solid RB2, especially in PPR leagues, and Allen is making his way into Fantasy relevancy as a WR2.
After the Chargers lost Danario Alexander, there was a hole to fill at receiver. Eddie Royal went off for two weeks and then disappeared. Also after Week 2, Malcom Floyd was injured (neck injury in Week 2). At that point, it looked like Rivers was going to have even less Fantasy value than previously. However, Keenan Allen has stepped up and become a playmaker for the Chargers. Starting in Week 4, Allen has 80, 115 and 107 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It doesn't appear that his role will change moving forward.
I wrote about Danny Woodhead in this space last week. He's not going to have crazy two-touchdown weeks like he had in Week 4, but he'll give you about 30 rushing yards and at least five receptions for 50 yards per game. Since Week 2, he doesn't have fewer than five receptions a game. He has three receiving touchdowns and he's almost a lock for 10-plus Fantasy points in PPR leagues every week. The touchdowns are just a bonus. Mathews had a great game in Week 6; don't chase it. He's not going to repeat that, especially in Week 7. He's a decent flex play when healthy, but health is always a concern with him.
And I know kickers aren't sexy to talk about, but Nick Novak is also a valid Fantasy option. He's only missed two field goals this season and he's six-for-six from over 40 yards.
3. An overreaction and an under-reaction: Brandon Jacobs is back as a must-start RB and should be owned in all leagues and Knowshon Moreno's Week 6 performance was a fluke.
The reality is that Brandon Jacobs just played his best game of the season. Yes, he posted a 106-yard, two-touchdown game on Thursday Night Football against the Bears. Yes, the Bears' rush defense was terrible and will likely continue to be terrible in the near future. But the reality is Jacobs had not had a 100-yard game since December 2010. He did nothing last year as a 49er. He's 31 years old and now has a sore hamstring. The New York Giants signed Peyton Hillis out of desperation. They need help at running back because they know that Jacobs isn't the answer. If the Giants know that, Fantasy owners should also know that. You're not going to get another game like that out of him. Sure, he may be the starter this week against Minnesota, but he's a flex option at best.
The reality on Knowshon Moreno: he's an every-week starter while healthy. When Willis McGahee went down in Week 11 last season, there was speculation about who would be the starting running back in Denver. Because of his blocking ability, the Broncos went with Knowshon Moreno. And Fantasy owners who picked him up were glad they did. He had two 100-yard games and three touchdowns in the last four weeks of the Fantasy season. At the beginning of this season, Fantasy owners liked Ronnie Hillman or even Montee Ball. Moreno went undrafted in many leagues. However, by Week 7, he is arguably an every-week starter. He's scored seven touchdowns so far this season. That figure ties the most touchdowns he's scored in a season back in 2009. He's in a high-powered offense that is going to have plenty of red zone opportunities. If Denver gets near the goal line Moreno is in the game. He's going to get the majority of the carries, but his real value is that they trust him to score. He's a solid RB2 while healthy for the rest of the season.
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