I have always been a believer that injuries will determine who will win Fantasy leagues more than anything else. Sure, it’s a nice head start if you have a good draft, but assuming you know what you’re doing, we all tend to like our team after the draft. Yes, making the right moves during the season, whether it would be working the waiver wire or making a trade is important, but health is even more crucial to me. Jamaal Charles (ACL) is out for the year. That’s a Top 5 pick in most leagues now gone. If you drafted early you may have lost Kelvin Benjamin or Jordy Nelson as well. Tony Romo is out for at least another month. Ben Roethlisberger will miss about a month before he returns. Dez Bryant hasn’t played since the fourth quarter of Week 1. Football is a game of attrition and sometimes no matter how good a player you are, sometimes the Fantasy gods just aren’t with you. Yes, we can preach depth all we want, but the deeper the league you’re in the harder that can be to do. It has always been my belief, that in a 12-team league, three teams will eventually be eliminated by injuries. There is nothing they can do; it’s just bad luck. Therefore, assuming that mine is not one of those three teams, now I’m only battling eight other teams for a title. It’s one way to whittle the competition down.
The point of all of this is that each Monday morning, when I wake up and start to do all of my research for this column, I’m always afraid. It becomes a worry; who got hurt, who’s out for next week, the next month or the rest of the year? How many players did I lose on my Fantasy teams? How much does this hurt my chances? In Fantasy Baseball or Hockey, you can afford to lose a player or two, even a top player. But in Fantasy Football it can be devastating. Don’t fret, though, this is why Daily Fantasy Football is great. If you’re redraft team is done, there is always the weekly game, which can be just as much, if not more fun.
Well, Julio Jones lined up last Thursday and had a good game (6-93), but he just doesn’t look as explosive as he did earlier this season. Hopefully, the 11 days off will allow his hamstring to heal. Devonta Freeman looks like the real deal. He ran for another 156 yards from scrimmage to go along with two touchdowns versus the Saints. If you’re a Tevin Coleman owner who is still holding out hope that he gets his starting job back, forget it. In fact, if you need the roster spot it may be time to move on. Freeman may be in the lead for Fantasy MVP at this point in the season.
Drew Brees had an effective game (30-39, 312, 1) to prove to everyone that his shoulder is indeed healthy. Yes, the numbers look good and Brees had no problem moving the team, but he rarely threw the ball deep. Now, maybe that was the game plan, to keep the ball short, as that was what they thought was the Falcons’ weakness, but maybe they were also trying to protect Brees.
How did the Steelers end up beating the Cardinals? Mike Vick was terrible (3-8, 6 yds). Le’Veon Bell didn’t catch a pass (88 yds rushing). Antonio Brown only had three receptions for 24 yards. Yet they still won by 12 points. Landry Jones replaced an ineffective Vick and could start next if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t ready to return. Martavis Bryant did return and did hit the big play. He turned a short pass into an 88-yard score to pretty much put the game away in the fourth quarter. This is what he is. He’s unlikely to be the type of WR that catches a ton of passes, but when he does get his mitts on one, he will be a threat to take it all the way.
So much for the beginning of the Charcandrick West era in Kansas City. So much FAAB was spent on West this week, with some owners blowing their entire budget on him. That was 33 yards on nine carries for West. Not exactly what Fantasy owners were looking for. It’s not that Kniles Davis did any better (5-13), but nowhere near as much FAAB was spent on him. The bottom line is this – neither one is anywhere near close to the RB that Jamaal Charles is (was?), and the Chiefs will more than likely keep mixing and matching until they can find a combination they can live with.
It was good news and bad news for the Bills yesterday. The good news was the return of RB LeSean McCoy and looked good in rushing for 90 yards and a TD. The bad news was QB Tyrod Taylor not being able to play due to a sprained knee, and then the loss of WR Sammy Watkins to an ankle sprain after a TD catch. Taylor could play this week in England versus the Jaguars, but Watkins may have to miss more time again. After returning from the locker room, he was on crutches, and while that may have been a cautionary move, it’s certainly not a good sign. What is a good sign? He did make the trip to London with the rest of his team. If Watkins and Percy Harvin (hip) can’t play Sunday, Robert Woods and Chris Hogan will be your starting Bills receivers. Do you think that maybe Taylor should take another day off?
If you’re an Alshon Jeffery owner and were deep enough at WR to take a wait and see approach at WR yesterday, I don’t think you should beat yourself up over his performance (8-147-1). Jeffery was coming off of two different leg injuries and was questionable to play in this game. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry; yesterday just wasn’t one of those days. Unfortunately, you won’t get a chance to start him in Week 7 because the Bears are on bye, but after that he will once again be a fixture in your starting lineup.
It seemed during the game versus Chicago that Matthew Stafford remembered what made him so successful the past couple of seasons. When Calvin Johnson is matched up deep one on one, throw it up and let the big man make a play. This strategy worked a time or two yesterday and allowed the Lions to get huge chunks of yardage. Will defenses adjust and make sure to have a safety over the top? Yes. Then this will also open up room for others to make plays. Golden Tate now will have an easier time getting open, and whatever running back they decide to go with that day should have an easier time with no safeties in the box.
Is Peyton Manning still a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback? Who would we absolutely start over him? Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer for starters. That’s nine right there. Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo would also be ahead of Peyton if they were healthy, and then there are another six or seven QBs that could pass him shortly (Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, Russell Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blake Bortles, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford). What I’m trying to point out is that Peyton is no longer an automatic every week start. Don’t ride the name, ride the player.
What do we make of Blake Bortles? Yes, I mentioned him as a possible Fantasy replacement for Peyton Manning, but that’s not to say he is going to be the next big thing at quarterback. He threw for well over 300 yards versus the Texans with three touchdown passes but also three interceptions. He has all the weapons in place to be successful. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns don’t get enough credit for how good they are. Julius Thomas is back at tight end. TJ Yeldon (groin), when healthy, is at the very least a solid running back. Now, with Yeldon out yesterday and Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart unable to do much in the running game, the Texans did put quite a bit of pressure on Bortles, but that goes with the territory. I can’t start him over Peyton yet, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility either.
It seems to be very rare that a mid-season coaching change ever really changes things for an NFL team but the Miami Dolphins may be the exception rather than the rule. Dan Campbell had his team ready to play in all facets of the game. Lamar Miller finally looked like the running back we saw last season. Miller was available for trade in most leagues according to all of the trade questions I have received about him. If the Dolphins can continue to run the ball that will make life much easier for Ryan Tannehill and the passing game. The defense also woke up. Cameron Wake had four sacks in the first half. Those were his first sacks of the season. The Dolphins may be able to get their season untracked after all.
Jimmy Graham had a huge game versus the Panthers, with eight receptions for 140 yards. Is this a sign of things to come? The Seahawks can’t run the ball it seems, at least not consistently. The offensive line is not getting any better, as they can’t open up holes for Marshawn Lynch or protect Russell Wilson. If you could get even money on a Graham trade, you should look to do it, as it may be difficult for Wilson to find his number one WR while running for his life. However, don’t give him away either, if you can’t get good value you’re just going to have to live with the ups and downs.
What is wrong with Eddie Lacy? He only had four carries versus the Chargers. If you believe the reports, James Starks was told just before the first play that he would be the starting RB for the game. Is the ankle injury that Lacy suffered earlier this season still bothering him? If Lacy is hurting, the Packers could have rested him for two whole weeks since they are on a bye next week. Lacy had a similar problem last season before breaking out in the second half, but this does feel different. Can you trade him? Sure, and it’s not a bad idea, as you may find a buyer who believes. Once again, this is probably a sell low situation.
Well, just like with Drew Brees we can breathe easy once again after watching Andrew Luck’s performance last night. Yes, he lost the game, but it was more important to Fantasy owners to see how he threw the ball, and he threw it well. Once again, you’re starting him week in and week out and if you were able to buy low on him last week, congratulations.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.