It’s been a rough year when it comes to injuries. Any Fantasy owner knows that the worst thing is when a guy they needed to come through for them starts the game and leaves quickly from injury. Arian Foster and Aaron Rodgers certainly hurt Fantasy owners with their injuries this past week. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game. You can’t predict injuries. What you can do is make the best of it the weeks beyond. You obviously don’t want anyone to be hurt and anyone that is hurt you want to heal quickly. But you have to work with your roster, your waiver wire, and your leaguemates to still put forth the best team you can. Each week you get the chance to get win. Even if you had a rough Week 9 (as many of us did), look ahead to Week 10, and consult the Pink Football:
1. Pay attention to targets.
Perhaps it’s not a prediction, but it can be one. If Fantasy owners paid attention to the targets from Nick Foles, they would know that there is a connection with Riley Cooper. In Week 6, Foles’ first start, Cooper drew six targets (tied with DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz and Jason Avant for the most on the team). Cooper had the most receiving yards. In Week 7, when Foles started and Matt Barkley came in relief, Cooper again, had the most receiving yards and the third-most targets. Cooper and Jackson tied with Ertz for the most targets in Week 9. It’s not an accident – Foles trusts Cooper and if Foles trusts him, so should Fantasy owners. As long as Foles is starting, Cooper has WR3/4 value.
When you think of top tight ends, you want the guys that have the most yards, receptions and touchdowns, right? In order to get those points, the tight end needs to have targets. The tight end in the league with the most targets is Jimmy Graham. The tight end with the second most targets: Jordan Cameron. After his terrible Week 9 performance, some Fantasy owners were in a panic about his Fantasy value moving forward. Sure, he’s worked with three different quarterbacks this season, but all of those quarterbacks are willing to check down to him. His 71 targets are the same as Wes Welker and Eric Decker. Out of those 71 targets, just for comparison, Cameron caught 50 balls for 600 yards and six touchdowns. Welker caught 50 for 555 yards and nine touchdowns. Decker caught 46 for 669 yards and three touchdowns. No one is panicking over Decker or Welker. Sure, Cameron has an extra game on the Denver receivers, but the numbers are still there. Don’t panic on him.
Last, another guy to keep an eye on because of his targets is Doug Baldwin. Until Percy Harvin returns, Baldwin is a legitimate option in Seattle. After Sidney Rice was injured, Baldwin had 10 targets in Week 9 (compared to Golden Tate’s three). Baldwin was targeted three times in the red zone and turned his targets into a 6/75/1 stat line. Sure, Tate had to deal with Darrelle Revis, but Baldwin should be considered for Fantasy, especially in Week 10. He’s got a great matchup with Atlanta and should capitalize on it again.
2. Don’t give up on Matt Ryan just yet.
After he lost Julio Jones, Matt Ryan continued to look serviceable in their Week 7 game against Tampa Bay. He had a respectable 273 passing yards and three touchdowns (two to Jacquizz Rodgers). Most importantly, he didn’t’ have any interceptions. In fact, in the first six games of the season, Ryan only threw three interceptions. In the past two games, he’s thrown seven. He’s also only thrown two touchdowns. Ryan needs to stop forcing the ball to Tony Gonzalez. There are other weapons on the team, and he’s just not using them. In Week 7, Rodgers had eight receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns. In Weeks 8 and 9 combined, Rodgers has eight receptions for 38 yards and no touchdowns.
It appears that Roddy White will be returning soon. This will help Ryan and it isn’t until we see Ryan play with White, Gonzalez and Harry Douglas/Drew Davis that we will really be able to see how well Ryan can play. Sure, losing Jones is tough, but it’s not like there are no other options for Ryan. With Steven Jackson slowly getting back into game shape, Atlanta will have some semblance of a running game, which is positive to Ryan. He’s had two bad games, there’s no questioning it. But Tom Brady had a string of bad games and once he had his weapons back and he was comfortable again (see: Week 9 stats), he returned to form. That’s not to say that Matt Ryan will put up Week 9 Brady numbers, but Fantasy owners shouldn’t panic – yet.
3. An overreaction and an underreaction: Nick Foles will save your Fantasy season and Ray Rice will still be fine.
Reality: Nick Foles had a game where he surprised himself. Following his seven-touchdown game, he was surprised at his own success. As he should be. Foles threw six touchdowns in 2012 (over the course of seven games). In the four games prior to Week 9 in 2013, he threw six touchdowns. And yet, in Week 9, he threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions. This is the guy, let’s not forget, that was abysmal in Week 7. He threw for 80 yards. The week before, Fantasy owners thought they were onto something after he threw for three touchdowns and 296 yards. You can throw on Dallas… unless, apparently, you’re Nick Foles. Here’s the problem with Foles: consistency. Many Aaron Rodgers owners are scouring the waiver wire and they are able to pick up Foles to start for the next few weeks (assuming Michael Vick doesn’t return). It’s not a bad pickup, but remember what he is: a fill-in.
I think it’s time to start worrying about Ray Rice. The offensive line in Baltimore is terrible. Joe Flacco is putting together a terrible season. Bernard Pierce isn’t any better. It’s awful. Thirty-four, 45, and 17. Those are the numbers of the rushing yards for Ray Rice over the past three weeks. But he gets receiving yards, you argue? Well, he had three receptions for 15 yards, four receptions for 27 yards and three receptions for 21 yards in the past three games. If you throw out the Week 5 game where he had two touchdowns, his season has been entirely a disappointment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things are getting better. The offensive line isn’t improving. Rice claims to have his burst back. The hip injury doesn’t seem to be bothering him anymore. So what’s the problem? Can we just blame the offensive line? Or is it something else? Either way, he’s dropped to a RB2 and benchable if you have better options.