Every week, I will be bringing you a list of six players that have caused a bit of confusion (or massive confusion in the case of Adrian Peterson) in Fantasy Football circles and offer up my long-term opinion of them, players that you may not know what to do with based on their recent performance (or lack thereof). You know, the type of players that you look back in four months and say “if only” about. Well, let’s eliminate the second guessing and get things right the first time!
Arian Foster (RB, HOU) and DeMarco Murray (RB, DAL)
I feel compelled to put them under the same umbrella because I am treating them the exact same way this season: enjoying the ride. Could you sell high? Sure, and I would if you could make a lateral move for a RB1, but I’m not pushing them out the door to the highest bidder … not yet anyway. The past has been well documented for both of these backs and their employers seem to know that, as they are attempting to get as much usage out of their studs as humanly possible. Foster has 55 carries through two weeks and Murray isn’t far behind with 51, the top two marks in all of football up to this point. My logic here: the workload isn’t likely to affect their productivity until a little later in the season, meaning you still have a few weeks to enjoy the combination of elite talent and extreme opportunity. “Selling-high” would indicate that their value has peaked, something I’m not comfortable in saying for either Foster (Giants, Bills, and Cowboys in the next three weeks) or Murray (Rams, Saints, and Texans).
Adrian Peterson (RB, MIN)
I touch on this situation in the “Mailbag” portion, but if you own him and have a deep roster, you have little to lose by stashing him. I’m not saying I would go out of my way to acquire him, but with the indefinite suspension, it stands to reason that this process may be sped up in an effort to either banish him for the season (and make the NFL/Vikings look good for the immediate action) or reinstate him (and put one of the game’s best back on the field). Often times the red tape holds up these situations, but with him suspended until further notice (as opposed to active until further notice), I think we see some urgency on the league’s part to wrap this up.
James Jones (WR, OAK)
With 16 targets (for reference, that’s more than Randall Cobb), Derek Carr seems to have found his favorite receiver, and given his ability to find the endzone, Fantasy owners couldn’t be happier. Jones has more receptions than any two Raiders wideouts combined, a trend I like to continue given his size and increased snap count (up to 75 percent in Week 2 from 57 percent in Week 1). This Oakland team is going to be playing from behind consistently and Carr is going to continue to sling the ball to his favorite target when in trouble. It may not be pretty, but it is a way to get cheap production, as Jones has averaged one score every seven catches over the last five-plus seasons.
Mark Ingram (RB, NO)
This move may seem bold and even a bit harsh, but I am OK with cutting Ingram outright. Wait, what? A running back that ranks in the Top 5 at his position in Standard Points, cut? To be honest, I think you can probably trade him and I would obviously do that before outright releasing him, but the point remains that he doesn’t hold much value from this point forward. The Saints running game was destined to become a weekly tossup (Ingram was on the field for 27 percent of snaps through two weeks, Pierre Thomas 43 percent, and Khiry Robinson 18 percent), and now with Ingram sidelined, it gives the other two a chance to solidify their workload. My love for Thomas this offseason was based on Ingram not being much of a factor, and even though an injury is not how I expected that to happen, he is now not a factor. Drew Brees ranks second in the NFL in completions and Ingram is the lone back without elite pass-catching skills, thus making him somewhat of a limiting force when on the field. Is it nice to have a hard runner that can pick up yards between the tackles? Yes, but I think the combination of Thomas/Robinson can not only get that done, but also supply the Saints with a dimension that was missing when Ingram was on the field (after all, despite his success, they are still 0-2). I tend to use injuries as an opportunity to buy low on a player, but I’m selling Ingram to the highest bidder.
Darren Sproles (RB, PHI)
With the way Twitter has reacted to his dominant start, you’d think we have the second coming of Barry Sanders on our hands. Timing is everything in Fantasy Football, so the fact that Sproles has started his Eagles career with two huge performances has resulted in a spike in value that would not have happened if he struggled in the early going and then posted these two strong performances in November. This much we know: Sproles is an undersized 31-year-old back that is rarely used in the running game (he’s been on the field for just 19 run plays despite playing in an offense that was the betting favorite to lead the league in rushing attempts this season). No argument there, right? He has benefited greatly from Nick Foles being unable to get on the same page as his receivers (he’s completed 39 percent of his passes thrown to his top three WRs), thus making the dump down the only type of pass he is comfortable with at this point. That is going to change as Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Mathews get comfortable with a quarterback they have never played with and Riley Cooper rounds into form. Also, Sproles possesses the perfect skill set given the Eagles’ halftime holes in the first two weeks. Philadelphia falls behind big early, the opponent goes into a “prevent” defense and allows Sproles to catch the ball in space with linemen out in front. Everything has lined up perfect in the early going for the newest Eagles RB, but as the weather worsens and the ground game becomes more important, I would expect his value to fall off a cliff sooner rather than later. I have him ranked as a fringe RB2 from this point forward, but based on the questions I’m getting, you can sell him for players ranked inside my Top 15 (and in some instances, my Top 10). Sproles’ numbers will jump off the page at you, but they won’t help you moving forward, so take advantage of an overeager owner that is sipping the Chip Kelly Kool Aid and deal Sproles for assets that will be more productive for this point forward (for what it’s worth, I’ll take my chances on Frank Gore, Joique Bell, Rashard Jennings, Ahmad Bradshaw, and my man Pierre Thomas for the rest of the season).
Locks Of The Week: Atlanta Falcons (vs TB), New England Patriots (vs OAK), Indianapolis (@ JAX)
I love what Matt Ryan has the opportunity to do in this matchup and while I do think this Falcons defense is vulnerable, I’m not sure the Bucs can score enough to keep this close. That train of thought applies for all three of these games, as I am siding with elite quarterbacks against well … let’s call them not elite quarterbacks. The Patriots and Colts both displayed a strong run game last week, balance that makes them a safe bet to hang big numbers on these weak defenses this weekend.
Value Plays: Chicago Bears (@ NYJ), Baltimore Ravens (@ CLE)
The Bears offense finally started to click in the red zone (thank you Brandon Marshall) and the Jets were less than inspiring in their collapse against the potent Packers. They couldn’t stop Jordy Nelson from breaking this game open and I am not sure how they plan on dealing with the size/athleticism of the increasingly healthy duo of Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The Ravens/Browns games are always tight and usually quite physical, a style of play that favors the veterans in Baltimore. I don’t love their offense (sell high on Bernard Pierce!) at all, but they have more playmakers available, and that should be enough in this one.
Upset Special: New York Giants (vs HOU)
Eli Manning is a good quarterback … when he has time to read defenses. Based on early season trends, I think his iffy offensive line can buy him enough time to score 20-plus points in this one, and their defense has more talent than their numbers suggest. This game is likely to be decided by a bone-headed quarterback decision, and while I’ll happily bet against Manning in games like that more often than not, Ryan Fitzpatrick is very capable of rocking the “Eli-face” this week as the G-men get their first tick in the win column.
@BToldy23: Biggest question – what to do with Peterson in my dynasty league; trade him or keep him? And what do I try getting?
@Spencito6: would you urge someone to trade AP? Or do you think he’s going to avoid a long term suspension?
Answer: “The Adrian Peterson dilemma is one faced by every owner in every league. Do you sell him to the highest bidder in an effort to get ahead of the game? Do you trust that the NFL will continue to struggle to make decisions, thus allowing Peterson to have value sooner rather than later? Even if he gets suspended, will he be around for the Fantasy playoffs? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can tell you that you have far more to lose by giving up early on him than you do to gain by trying to get ahead of the curve and moving him. That being said, I would have no issue at all if you wanted to trade your first pick for a RB1. Everyone’s ranks differ, but for me, this means going as low as Alfred Morris. The Redskins running back has a consistent work load and is in no real danger of losing touches. The stability that he brings to your team is the exact opposite of Peterson at the moment and I’d be fine with making the swap. If you pressed me for a guess, I’d say Peterson sees a suspension of 4-6 games, missed action that would make acquiring a RB1 well worth it.”
That was my stance prior to the news that the Vikings changed their mind and placed their star tailback on the “exempt/commissioner’s permission list”. This is a huge development as we’ve seen the legal process drag out in controversial situations before, thus allowing the athlete to play while the specifics are addressed, but that will not be the case here. If you play in a shallow league, I don’t mind cutting Peterson, but you must acknowledge the risk. Are you dropping him for a WR5 that has no real hope of starting for you in the near future? If you’re looking to add a player without significant upside (Brian Hartline for example) then why not hang onto AP? With him being suspended until further notice, it stands to reason that the legal process will be expedited, thus giving us a little more clarity in the coming weeks. At the very least, touch base with the other owners, as someone may be willing to move a player with more upside than you can find on the waiver wire.
@JoshJohnsonDSFM: Jeremy Hill: sit or start!?
Answer: I’m not overreacting to one week of exceptional production. As good as he was on Sunday, let’s not lose sight of the fact that he has still been on the field for fewer than 31 percent of the Bengals offensive plays this season and that Bernard was still the workhorse (32 touches against the Falcons). His size is nice, but Bernard is far from a scatback, leading me to believe that Hill is a change-of-pace player more so than a real threat to take significant work. Consider this: Bernard was on the field for 46 plays last week and touched the rock 32 times. They are going to give him the ball as often as they can, which means limited week-to-week upside for the rookie reserve. I don’t mind hanging onto him as a bye week replacement or a handcuff, but putting him into your starting lineup (I’d project him to receive one touch for every 2.5 Bernard gets) is a bit too opportunistic for my liking.
@Spegg73: FAAB $100 2QB .5ppr had RG3 how much you go on Knile Davis and Kirk Cousins?
Answer: You simply cannot compete in a two quarterback league without reasonable production at both QB spots. That means you NEED to land Cousins if you lost Griffin, as there likely aren’t any starting quarterbacks on the waiver wire. The amount you bid obviously depends on your league, but I’d have no problem dropping 40-50 percent of my budget to fill the gap left. As for Davis, I’m bidding about 15 percent on him. He’s a great talent and should be the lead back for at least a month, but what is the end game here? I don’t see a circumstance in which Davis takes the lead role from Charles when the starter is healthy, meaning you are renting Davis for a short period of time. You may get outbid here, but if you do, that’s OK. There are going to be running backs that become available on the wire, but there aren’t going to be many quarterbacks. Make Cousins the focus of your waiver wire ventures and make a modest effort at Davis.
@maxmuscarello: Is starting Ivory and Bradshaw over Chris Johnson and Bush a bad idea in your opinion? Non PPR
Answer: I don’t think it is. The “big” names make this a tough move to make, but look at the opportunity count and you’ll be surprised. Joique Bell leads the Lions backfield in snaps this season as, Bush been on the field for just 17 running plays all season long. He is quietly becoming a pass-catching specialist, a major issue when you consider that Bell is a very capable receiver as well. The RB committee in New York is trending in Ivory’s favor, as Week 2 was essentially an even split after Johnson held a slight edge in Week 1. Ivory’s straight forward running style seems to fit this Jets scheme much better than Johnson’s east-to-west approach and should result in him continuing to trend in the right direction. At the very least, Ivory is the better option in the red zone, giving him enough Fantasy upside to justify a start over Johnson. As for Bradshaw, his involvement increased and the Colts offense was far more efficient because of it. He is the better runner and the far superior option outside of the backfield, making him a strong fit in an Andrew Luck-led offense. Of the four backs mentioned, I believe Bradshaw is the closest to a majority share in his team’s offense, and it is possible we see that as early as this weekend in Jacksonville.
Draft Kings Week 3 lineup:
QB – Aaron Rodgers
RB – Arian Foster
RB – Pierre Thomas
WR – Demaryius Thomas
WR – Randall Cobb
WR – Justin Hunter
TE – Larry Donnell
FLEX – Donald Brown
D/ST – Saints
Have ranking questions? Sit/Start quandaries? I take questions of all kinds at all times.