We’re here, or at least I hope you are. It’s playoff time in most leagues (although I respect those leagues that are using Week 14 as the regular season finale en route to playing for it all in Week 17), which means either you’re sitting up to be heard or lit up in one and done fashion. Who are you? The one who sits or the one that gets lit? I’m banking on the former, which is why I’m here to make sure you return here next week.
For He’s a Jolly Good Farrow
Several weeks ago, I dropped a stealth warning on Twitter which suggested Melvin Gordon owners invest a roster spot on Kenneth Farrow, his backup. I do wonder how many heeded that message, for once Gordon went down early last week in the Chargers’ loss at the Panthers, the rush on Farrow was the Fantasy equivalent of Best Buy putting iPads on sale for $199 for the next 90 minutes. The rookie from the University of Houston saw his ownership rocket from just under three percent to nearly 45 percent in the past four days, as he is expected to get the bulk of the carries against a Raiders defense ranked sixth-worst in Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
Farrow had 55 yards on 18 carries and caught all six of his targets for 23 yards last week. I’ll give his average of 3.5 yards per touch against the Panthers the benefit of doubt; after all, it was on the road against the (for now) defending NFC champs, and the San Diego offense managed a season-low 4.3 yards per play. Both Farrow and the Chargers should see a significant rise in production against a Raiders defense they amassed 423 yards against during a 34-31 loss on October 9.
In Farrow, the Chargers get a back that is similar to Gordon, although Farrow is probably the better receiver. What will make or break Farrow on Sunday is his ability to pass-block, which proved to be a problem last week. The Chargers have hinted that Ronnie Hillman could replace Farrow in passing situations, which could harm Farrow’s production.
That said, I wouldn’t be too concerned with the presence of Hillman, who could make a Flex spot in very deep leagues. Farrow stands as a solid RB2 in my eyes and has a chance to rise up and deliver numbers quite similar to Gordon.
Gridlock in Washington
Once upon a time (like a month ago), the thought of Rob Kelley as a must-start back gained traction after he gouged the Packers’ porous run defense for 137 yards and three touchdowns in front of a Sunday Night Football viewing audience. At the time, we all assumed Kelley would lock up the starting job and perform like a young LeGarrette Blount en route to emerging as a Fantasy star.
How times have changed. Kelley, who racked up 31.7 Fantasy points against the Packers, has a combined 25.3 Fantasy points in his last three games, a number which would be significantly lower had Kelley not scored in last week’s win at the Eagles. His road doesn’t get easier, as the Redskins meet a Panthers defense that is seventh in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing backs. Kelley is a mid-tier RB2 in standard and TD-heavy formats, yet his value in PPR formats is limited, considering he has just six catches for 23 yards on 11 targets. Those who own Kelley in PPR leagues may want to consider other options unless you’re starting a pass-friendly back and/or have a deep receiver corps that can offset Kelley’s hands of stone.
Where’s Heat Miser When You Need Him?
As many as nine games will be affected by the weather, as a mammoth cold front works its way from the Pacific Northwest through the Midwest and East Coast. A look at the potential game time temps and various conditions for the games in question:
Dolphins at Jets: Mixture of rain and snow, high of 42.
Packers at Bears: Sunny and windy, high of 2 (no, it’s not a typo)
Browns at Bills: Cloudy, slight chance of rain, winds up to 20 mph, high of 32.
Eagles at Ravens: All but certain of rain, winds up to 17 mph, high in the upper 40s-mid 50s.
Titans at Chiefs: Sunny, light winds, high of 12.
Lions at Giants: All but certain of rain, winds up to 16 mph, high in the low to mid-50s
Steelers at Bengals: Cloudy, slight chance of rain, winds up to 17 mph, high in the low 20s.
Patriots at Broncos: Sunny, slight winds, high of 29 with temps falling later in the game.
Panthers at Redskins: Slight winds, high in the mid-30s with temps falling later in the game.
The more inclement the weather, the better I like investing in running backs, which means the likes of Jordan Howard (Bears), LeSean McCoy (Bills), the Ravens duo of Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West, Jeremy Hill (Bengals) and Rashad Jennings (Giants) could be in line for big performances. I wouldn’t worry too much about quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Kirk Cousins, as each is well accustomed to throwing the ball around in chilly conditions.
Oodles and oodles of Numbers
*Jets rookie WR Robby Anderson has 23 targets the last two weeks and gets a Dolphins defense that has allowed 23 touchdown passes this season. He’s become an intriguing play in deep PPR leagues and is worth the gamble in DFS formats.
*While Anderson continues to exude confidence for Fantasy owners, Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin is the complete opposite. Expected to emerge into an elite receiver after missing last season with a torn ACL, Benjamin has just eight catches for 138 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. At this point, Benjamin belongs on your bench, especially since he’ll be the main assignment for ex-teammate Josh Norman when the Pro Bowl corner meets Benjamin and the Panthers on Monday night.
*As expected, Packers receiver Davante Adams rebounded from his one catch outing against the Texans in Week 12, pulling in four catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in last week’s mauling of the Seahawks. He’s also tied for fourth with nine touchdown receptions and is a good bet to hit double-digits against a Bears team he lit up for 13 catches, 132 yards and two scores in Week 7. He’s back to his high-end WR2 status and needs to be in your lineup.
*Overlooked in the midst of a miserable season for the 49ers is a solid effort from running back Carlos Hyde, who enters Sunday’s game at the Falcons 121 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season. Coming off a career-high 193-yard outing against the Jets last week, Hyde faces an Atlanta defense that has allowed the fourth-most Fantasy points to opposing backs. I think he’s a borderline RB1 and his improvement as a receiver also enhances his value in PPR formats.
Gimme a Sleeper!
Michael Floyd’s foolish decision to drive while liquored up led to the Cardinals releasing him on Tuesday, opening the door for J.J. Nelson to take the starting job. While he has just two catches for 50 yards the last two weeks, both resulted in touchdowns. He’ll get significantly more targets against a Saints defense that is 29th against the pass. Nelson is a solid Flex option in all formats.
One Last Thought
While working on this week’s piece, I learned of the death of Turner Sports icon Craig Sager. Having bounced around the sports world over the years, I had the chance to meet Sager a couple of times and enjoyed his optimistic view of life and great sense of humor. During his two-year bout with leukemia, Sager became family to those fans who loved him, and his loss is a painful one for those who appreciated his work and willingness to keep fighting despite the odds. Godspeed, Craig. You will be forever missed, yet never forgotten. #SagerStrong