When Comes To Fantasy Value, Be Excited About Eli and Timid on Teddy
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!
[caption id="attachment_79107" align="alignright" width="300"] <em><strong>Has Eli Manning gone from interception throwing machine to Fantasy starter in one month?</strong></em> Photo: <a title="Marianne O'Leary" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/27298961@N00" target="_blank">Marianne O’Leary </a>[/caption]
Eli Manning: His current aDOT (average depth of target) of 8.5 yards is not only a 15.8 percent dip from last season, but it is on pace to be the lowest of his career. It is no coincidence that the lowest aDOT of his career came in 2008, the only season in which he threw twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. With Victor Cruz getting on track (his yardage total has increased with each passing week) and the possession duo of Rueben Randle (more targets than Brandin Cooks)/Larry Donnell (in 54 percent of his Week 1 snaps he was asked to block, a number that dipped to 36 on Thursday night)rolling, this Giants offense should be taken seriously. Manning has consistently been a viable Fantasy quarterback when given time in the pocket (his PFF grade with “no pressure” in 2012 ranked right there with that of Aaron Rodgers) and this offense is catering to that skill set (only brother Peyton is averaging less time per pass attempt this season). Don’t forget that Odell Beckham, expected to make his NFL debut this Sunday, gives this offense another weapon and the stable run game is going to continue to keep defenses honest. You may not want to believe it, but with this offensive game plan, Manning is a starting quarterback in your standard 12-team league.
Chris Ivory: He’s looked like the best back in New York all season long and it looks like the Jets are finally willing to acknowledge that. Through three weeks, Ivory had been on the field for six fewer snaps than the struggling Johnson, but that all changed on Sunday, when Ivory was on the field more than twice as often. That, my friends, is not a committee. Ivory’s running style is about as violent as it gets (defenders have missed 19 tackles on his 57 touches), which is Fantasy gold … for now. Exactly what makes him valuable is what could cost you in the end, so while I am buying his Fantasy stock now, I am not turning down offers as early as next week. If pressed to project when his value could peak, I’d be looking to start him through the Jets Thursday night game against the Patriots in Week 7, a game that the public will be able to see (insider knowledge: owners overreact to games they get to focus on), and then move him. That being said, he is a RB2 for Week 5, and for as long as he is healthy.
Jerick McKinnon: This week’s most popular pick-up has upside but let’s not make him a weekly starter just yet. Yes, he looked phenomenal, and anybody watching the game can tell that his ceiling is far higher than that of current starter Matt Asiata, but until further notice he is still going to be the second option in the Vikings’ ground game. Despite the remarkably efficient outing (152 yards on 19 touches) from McKinnon, Asiata was on the field for 11 more snaps and was asked to block half as often. This may be a shocker, but the Vikings won’t play the Falcons every week. He has worked his way into Fantasy relevance and is worth having on your roster given his upside, but if you’re counting on a workload similar to Week 4 again in the near future, you’re going to be disappointed.
Teddy Bridgewater: I’m not worried about the ankle injury, as all reports have him healthy and preparing to start on Thursday, but I am worried that he set the bar too high with his first career start this past week. He probably cannot count on the ground game to be as successful every week (44 carries is one thing, but 44 carries for 241 yards makes passing for 317 yards a much easier task). By routinely gashing Atlanta with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, the rookie signal caller rarely saw pressure (his completion percentage nearly doubles when there is no pressure around him) and picked apart a poor defense. The fact that his yards per attempt was 27.7 percent higher than his aDOT this past week is something you can’t really count on, and the zero touchdowns is concerning. The strong completion percentage is here to stay, but I wouldn’t count on this yardage total being sustained. I still have him ranked behind Andy Dalton and would consider a weekly flier on Ryan Fitzpatrick before investing big time into Bridgewater.
Eddie Royal: Remember last year when 32.51 percent of Royal’s Fantasy value came in a two-week span that no one saw coming? Welcome to the twilight zone. Let me do the simple math for you. If you buy my premise that this is exactly what we saw last year, then you can project Royal for 146.72 PPR Fantasy points by season’s end. Considering he has already scored 64.5 points this season, that means you can expect roughly 82.22 points the rest of the way. That breaks down to about three catches for 38 yards on a weekly basis. I’d prefer a still under-owned player in Brian Quick to Royal, and I’m not sure it’s all that close.
Steve Smith: I’ll fully admit that I have been wrong up to this point, but that doesn’t mean I am abandoning ship. The only thing that should get you more excited about the production of this 35-year-old up to this point is what he can net you in a trade. Listen, he’s been outstanding, I can’t deny that; but Fantasy sports is about sustainability and building for future success, not chasing numbers that have already occurred. Why do I think his stats are due to fall off a cliff sooner rather than later? For one, I have my doubts about Joe Flacco and am unsure of how many tip bombs you can really count on, but I’ll take my bias out of it and present a numerical argument for you. Smith ranks 26th in percentage of targets that have come at least 20 yards down the field, yet he ranks third in yards gained on those plays. In other words, his big plays have been considerably bigger than anyone else in football. Furthermore, 38 percent of his yards and 40.3 percent of his PPR Fantasy points have come on those four deep balls. Just to illustrate the impact that those plays have had, let’s subtract the 80-yard score that resulted for a busted coverage and last week’s 61-yard assist from Owen Daniels. His PPR value then dips below that of James Jones. I realize that you can’t just take those plays off the board and I’m not asking you to apologize for racking up the points as a result of them, but I am having a tough time imagining that plays like that will continue, and therefore, envision some very sad Smith owners if they refuse to sell-high. Players I prefer to Smith for the rest of the season include under-performers like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Marques Colston in addition to upside plays like DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, and Sammy Watkins. I’d take those guys in a vacuum over him, but in a trade situation, you’d probably be able to land even more (Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall? Kelvin Benjamin?)
We went down in flames last week with all the wrong upsets coming through. Hopefully you went safe in Week 4 and managed to advance. Here’s what we like for Week 5
Saints (vs Buccaneers)
Lions (vs Bills)
Eagles (vs Rams)
2 Value Plays
Giants (vs Falcons)
Cowboys (vs Texans)
1 Upset Special
Browns (@ Titans)
@Young_Cut: would you drop MJD for McKinnon?
Answer: With Jones-Drew on a bye this week and his upside appearing limited at best (being on the field for 25.4 percent of the snaps for a bad offense that was the fourth worst run blocking team last year and is below average again this year will do that), what are you hoping for? Darren McFadden isn’t great, but this is going to be a committee, and if Oakland continues to trail for the majority of games (no real reason to think that changes any time soon) that means splitting a low number of carries. McKinnon, on the other hand, is likely to be a bit over-hyped heading into this week, but at least there is a high ceiling here. I’ve yet to come across an analyst, Fantasy or otherwise, that believes Matt Asiata is the most talented back in Minnesota these days, so an extended workload for McKinnon as the season progresses seems reasonable. My hope is that you are counting on neither one of these backs on a weekly basis, so I’d prefer the upside of a young back who is built like a truck (he benches twice his bodyweight and squats three times it!) and experiencing an increase in role over a declining veteran who has been battling injuries and effectiveness issues.
@minutemandan: Trade question for you – Cordarelle and Sproles or Watkins and Bradshaw?
Answer: This one is a tough trade because there are no real “sure things” being moved. All of these players can put up monster numbers when given the opportunity, but they are also more than capable of putting up a dud. Ahmad Bradshaw, to me, is the “safest” player being moved here and that’s ultimately why I’d prefer his side of the trade. I’m not a big believer in Darren Sproles long-term, and with both receivers very inconsistent, the value of Bradshaw’s versatility trumps all upside. Sammy Watkins will have a new quarterback in Kyle Orton throwing him the rock this week and I don’t think that does anything to lower his value. I like Patterson’s potential with the dink-and-dunk offense I expect Teddy Bridgewater to lead, but, like I said before, I think this Vikings offense really struggles if their run game regresses. The wide receiver value is close enough for me to favor the side with the preferred running back.
Answer: For me, he is the definition of a buy-low target and here’s why:
- Eagles quarterbacks combined to drop back 532 times last season … less than Chad Henne did in 15 games.
- That number probably would have been considerably less if not for historic efficiency from Nick Foles.
- Foles is currently second in the league with 177 drop backs (only Andrew Luck has more)
- McCoy averaged 25.7 touches per touchdown last season in wins
- McCoy averaged 109 touches per touchdown last season in losses
- Advanced statistical breakdown: when McCoy is good so are the Eagles
- McCoy touch count by week: 27, 24, 19, 10
- Philadelphia’s result by week total: +17, +3, +3, -5
- Advanced statistical breakdown: when McCoy is given the chance to be good, so do the Eagles
Yes, we are in a pass-first league, but this Eagles offense has struggled to find their identity and they are walking a fine line when it comes to being 3-1 or 1-3. More importantly, McCoy is still very talented. There has been no identified injury to slow him and Father Time is unlikely calling at age 26. It’s also worth noting that Shady experienced a set of three consecutive games with a declining touch count when Foles first assumed the starting role last year (he broke out with a 161-yard against a team that ranked in the bottom five in terms of yards per carry … kinda like the Eagles Week 5 opponent does).
So what is his price in the trade market?
What you should be asking for if you are a McCoy owner:
- A top 15 running back and a top 20 receiver
- Monte Ball and Roddy White
- Andre Ellington and Alshon Jeffery
- Two Top 20 running backs
- Alfred Morris and CJ Spiller
- Rashad Jennings and Arian Foster
In other words, I’m probably not moving McCoy if I own him. But if you’re looking to acquire the Eagles stud, a trade offer like this might work:
- Steve Smith
- Kelvin Benjamin and Jerick McKinnon
- Eddie Royal and Darren Sproles
- Mike Wallace and Matt Asiata
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