Last season, things were good in Indianapolis. They finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and advanced to the AFC Championship game, ultimately losing to New England 45-7, in the game that gave birth to the term “Deflategate.”
Things looked great from an offensive standpoint heading into this season. Andrew Luck was viewed by many as the top Fantasy quarterback after posting career best numbers last season, during which he threw for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns while adding another 273 yards and three scores on the ground. He did, however, turn the ball over 22 times last year; 16 via interception and another six via the fumble.
Perhaps these were signs things weren’t all they were cracked up to be. A deeper look reveals Luck has just a 58.3 percent completion percentage for his career folks. That isn’t elite. For comparison that number is lower than current active quarterbacks Chad Henne (59.3), Matt Cassel (59.0) and Josh McCown (59.7). That doesn’t mean he isn’t a better quarterback than all these guys, but it does mean that we need to tap the breaks with him a bit, though.
He struggles with his accuracy, particularly when throwing the ball downfield. For his career, he has completed just 42.1 percent of passes beyond ten yards down the field. Knowing this it shouldn’t surprise you when T.Y. Hilton catches just four of 15 targets like he did this week. Hilton caught 82 passes for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns last year, but just 12 of those completions traveled 20 yards or more in the air.
Luck is still a QB1, but when the topic of best quarterback in the league arises, he still isn’t ready to be a part of that conversation. The best of the best are accurate. The intangibles are there, but until he gets that completion percentage up over 65 percent on a yearly basis he can’t be in the discussion.
Teddy Bridgewater broke through for his first 300 yard passing game of the season. After a slow start that saw him throw for 505 yards and one touchdown over his first three games, he has thrown for 834 yards and four touchdowns over his last three contests. This spike in production has coincided directly with the emergence of Stefon Diggs. Over the last three games, his first three as an NFL player, Diggs has caught 19 passes for 324 yards and a score. He has taken the starting job from Charles Johnson and drawn some serious praise from Mike Wallace, who compared him to a young Antonio Brown. As things stand right now, he is a weekly start based on his production and usage patterns. He also is only owned in 43.8 percent of leagues on ESPN. Go out and grab him immediately if you are in one of those leagues in which he happens to be available. This will be your last chance to get him.
News broke early Sunday that the Redskins were looking to get Matt Jones more involved out of the backfield. Unfortunately, that plan never really got put into motion, as they fell behind 24-0 in the blink of an eye against Tampa Bay. Nothing much happened when he did touch the ball, as he racked up just 51 yards on 12 touches, which isn’t awe inspiring by any means. However, when Alfred Morris gained just six yards on seven touches it should be viewed as a victory in any book. The Redskins head into a bye next week and then face off against New England, a team that has been stingy against the run. If you are on a team in need of some help at running back and can afford to wait a few weeks for a return, now is about as good a buy low opportunity as you are going to get for Jones. Morris just looks like the inferior player this year. Since rushing for 121 yards in Week 1 against Miami, he has gained just 181 yards on 66 carries. That type of production will cost anyone their job.
The Cowboys had what was arguably the best offensive line in the league last season. Just look what DeMarco Murray did behind them last year. It only took seven games, but they finally produced their first 100 yard rusher. No it wasn’t Joseph Randle or this week’s sexy name, Christine Michael; it was the man Fantasy owners hoped it wouldn’t be, Darren McFadden. Randle got the start this week against the Giants and left early with an injury to his back. McFadden, not Michael came in to replace him and went on to gain 152 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, while adding two catches for another 10 yards. McFadden ran hard and decisively. In a game in which the Giants loaded the box knowing McFadden was getting the ball, he wasn’t stopped once for a loss. This performance definitely earned him the starting job moving forward, at least until he gets hurt again. Run him out there with confidence until that happens, though; he has high-end RB2 written all over him.
Mike Evans led all receivers in yardage on Sunday, hauling in eight of his 12 targets for 164 yards and a score. It was a game his Fantasy owners sorely needed. He’d had just 13 catches for 174 yards on the season. A hamstring injury suffered in the second preseason game really lingered, and when he finally did return to health he really had trouble getting on the same page as rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Evans caught just 43.3 percent of his targets over his last three games heading into the bye week. From the looks of things they got on the same page during their week off. Evans has highlight reel ability. Winston just needs to trust that if he puts a ball up near Evans, he will go and get it. That trust looks like it was established. With Atlanta next up on the schedule, Evans looks like a legitimate WR1 candidate. In two games against them last year he caught 11 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown.
In case you already haven’t heard the news, Arian Foster suffered a torn Achilles with 4:04 remaining in the fourth quarter of a game in which Houston trailed by 24 points. The fact that he was still in the game boggles my mind. Obviously, this is going to have some serious Fantasy impact. Alfred Blue and Chris Polk figure to split this job, with Blue likely leading the committee in touches because he is the better runner. Neither should be viewed as anything more than a FLEX option in plus matchups at this point. In my eyes, this injury combined with the poor play of their defense makes me think this team actually throws more. The real kicker is that Texans quarterbacks have averaged 46.7 pass attempts-per-game this season. DeAndre Hopkins is going to keep seeing 12-plus targets a game. Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts (when healthy) should also see enough work to keep them in consideration to start in plus matchups. If you can find an owner in your league willing to part with Hopkins, now is the time to grab him.
There is no denying that when Jordan Reed is on the field he puts up numbers. In his first game back from missing two games with a concussion, he secured 11-of-13 targets for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Redskins’ come from behind win over Tampa Bay. His 11 grabs set a new career high and this was also the first multi-touchdown game of his career. For the season, he is tied for the team lead in receiving yardage (350) and receiving touchdowns (3) despite missing two-and-a-half games. From a performance standpoint, things look great here. Unfortunately, this also likely marks a sell-high point for him in a trade market that is likely pretty starved for tight ends. Why, you ask? For starters, Reed has suffered a concussion in each of his first three seasons in the league. Dating back to college he has suffered a concussion in each of five straight seasons. To say that he hasn’t proven susceptible to head injury throughout his career would be a gross oversight. Throw in the fact that DeSean Jackson will likely return from his hamstring strain next week, and there should be plenty of motivation here to make a move. Hedge your bet on Reed here and make a move if you have a decent option to fall back on.