OPEN COMPLAINERS ARE FANTASY PRODUCERS
It's been four weeks now, and about 31% of the Fantasy regular season is over (a little less if you have any Packers or Panthers on your team). In Fantasy Baseball, if you make any drastic moves barely a month into the season, every expert will tell you you're overreacting and that it's just a small sample size. Well that's true in baseball, but in football you need to make the tough decisions quicker before the season slips away from you. There are several first-round picks who have been terribly disappointing so far. Doug Martin went as high as second overall in quite a few leagues but is looking like a bust. Defenses are stacking the line of scrimmage to stop him and that may not end any time soon with a rookie QB now at the helm. The Bills’ C.J. Spiller is being out-performed by his Fantasy handcuff, Fred Jackson, and now could be on the shelf with an ankle injury. What do you do with these players? The decisions you make now could determine how high in the standings you finish later.
Remember after Week 3 when every Colin Kaepernick owner was getting all frazzled about back-to-back sub-par games? Well that can all be put to rest after a solid performance against the Rams. The same can be said for Frank Gore, who rushed for 153 yards one week after complaining about not touching the ball enough. As we have seen multiple times this season, the squeaky wheel is getting the grease (Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown). Perhaps we should keep listening for complaining players.
If you're looking for the hot pickup this week, look no further than Tashard Choice. As mentioned above, Spiller could miss the game Thursday with an ankle injury and Fred Jackson is in danger of being inactive with a knee injury. If you own one or both of these players you have to go out and try to claim Choice, but be careful, as neither player ahead of him is expected to be out of the lineup for more than a week or two. Don't blow your entire FAAB budget.
How many Fantasy owners flipped out Sunday with how the Ravens handled Ray Rice? He was questionable all week but was supposed to be full go for the game, so if you had Bernard Pierce, you more than likely sat him. Well, Rice rushed a whopping five times for 17 yards and it's not like he made up for that measly total in the passing game, as he caught 0 balls. How can the Ravens not use their best player? If you're wondering if Rice re-injured himself and that is why he didn't touch the ball, well, Pierce had only five touches himself, so it was not injury-related. Joe Flacco threw the ball 50 times, completing exactly half his throws. Unless you count the five that were intercepted, then he would be up to 60%.
Someone has to explain to me how the Browns have won two straight games after trading Trent Richardson? Do running backs really mean so little now in the NFL? Was Brandon Weeden really that bad of a starting QB? Does Josh Gordon make that big a difference to the offense? All of the above? The Browns did announce that Brian Hoyer will start the next game. Did anyone really think they should go back to Weeden?
How good was Reggie Bush yesterday? He's the type of player that will drive his owners crazy but you have to start him when he plays because of games like Sunday, 173 total yards and a touchdown. Bush even rendered everyone's darling, Joique Bell, to just an afterthought. Will he get injured again? Probably. Will that lead to you having to check the game day inactives to make sure he plays? Yeah, it's annoying, but that's the price you have to pay for the production he can put up.
The Giants offense right now consists of Eli Manning throwing a long bomb to Victor Cruz. They don't have any semblance of a running game and with the injuries along the offensive line, long sustained drives may be out of the question as well. Now I'm not saying to dump all of your Giants. Cruz is a must-start as Eli Manning trusts him the most out of his receivers and there is always a deep ball or two heading in his direction. Hakeem Nicks looks like a matchup play at best, as he just isn't the same receiver he used to be a couple of years ago and I wouldn't give up on Wilson just yet either. If you look at his schedule for the next couple of months, it appears to be pretty favorable for the running game. You might as well hold onto him, it's not like you can trade him for anything anyway.
Well, that switch to Mike Glennon didn't quite work out as planned for coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs now did it? I really don't think Glennon can be worse for the offense than Josh Freeman was, but defenses are going to force Glennon to beat them. Martin will have no running room (1.7 YPC Sunday). As for the receivers, Vincent Jackson may have had only two receptions Sunday but he was targeted 11 times, so at least the ball is still coming his way. Glennon was a bit more accurate with Mike Williams, with four catches on six targets. Hopefully with the team having their bye this week, they will be able to figure out what ails them offensively.
Will Jacksonville win a game this season? Well Justin Blackmon comes back this week but I have a hard time seeing him leading this team to victories.
I can only imagine what Texan fans are thinking about Matt Schaub right now. Yesterday was the third straight game in which he threw a pick six. Houston is 2-2 right now but remember they came back from a double digit deficit to beat San Diego and had to come back to beat Tennessee in overtime. This doesn't seem to be the team we thought they were. It's starting to look like Arian Foster will return to being one of the top backs in the game however. That was 171 all-purpose yards against a very good Seattle defense yesterday. Sorry Ben Tate owners, hope you sold high when you had the chance.
Le’Veon Bell finally made his NFL debut in London on Sunday and was impressive. True, he only had 57 yards on 16 carries but that was behind a depleted offensive line and he also scored twice along with catching four balls. He's looking like a must-start in Fantasy leagues.
Will Christian Ponder get back the starting job when his ribs heal? Traditional views state you don't lose your job because of injury but Matt Cassel looked good across the pond yesterday and actually made Greg Jennings relevant again. The problem for Minnesota is this, Cassel is not the QB of the future, they know that, are they ready to admit that Ponder isn't also?
Living here in New York, there are actually some fans calling for the team to bench Geno Smith and give Matt Simms a try. Now I know Smith played terribly yesterday and even tried to reincarnate the butt fumble but it's only been four games. This is pretty much a throwaway season anyway, you might want to find out what you have in Smith, it's not like Simms is anyone's definition of a franchise QB.
Jake Locker was finally starting to look like a QB that could start for your Fantasy team to cover a bye or in a two QB league but then was injured, and will now miss the next 6-8 weeks with a hip injury. His replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick will more than likely have his ups and downs. He's inconsistent at times but is also not afraid to throw the ball into the secondary. If you are a Ponder or Locker owner and need a replacement I'd look in his direction. Is there any other receiver more underrated than Nate Washington? He is putting up the numbers we expected from Kenny Britt.
What else could go wrong for the Raiders? They hold Terrelle Pryor out of the game Sunday, a game they might have won had he played, and then surprise surprise, they lose Darren McFadden to a hamstring injury. Both players should return this week and while Pryor is more than likely a start against the Chargers, I’d be worried about McFadden making it through an entire game with the hammy.
At this point in time the Broncos and Peyton Manning have to be the favorites to win the Super Bowl. That offense is looking pretty close to unstoppable. In daily salary cap leagues, Tony Cincotta (my co-host of the RotoExperts weekend edition on SiriusXM each Saturday and Sunday) suggested that you have no choice but to pay the money and start him each week because of the numbers he is putting up. Well, normally I wouldn't go in this direction, preferring to go cheaper at QB in order to spend money elsewhere, but Peyton looks unstoppable, and this week plays a Dallas defense that has given up 400-plus yards passing in back-to-back games.
What has happened to a onc- explosive Dallas Cowboys offense? Under new OC Bill Callahan they have become a dink and dunk team, rarely throwing the ball down the field. Because of this, they rarely hit any big plays (they don't try) and are constantly in third and short situations, something they don't excel in. While the run/pass ratio has certainly been better the last two games, it's not leading to a more productive offense. They were able to run all over the Rams and the Giants turned the ball over six times in Week 1 to account for a bulk of the points, but on the road versus the Chiefs and Chargers, they only managed 13 and 14 points (offensively) in each game. The offense needs to come up with more explosive plays and needs to figure out a way to get Dez Bryant free of the double teams. Before Dez can be considered one of the truly great receivers in the game today, he will need to beat the bracket and safety over the top coverages. It's not like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall are one on one each game.
You have to love all the drama coming out of New England. The team believes Rob Gronkowski is healthy enough to play but Gronk apparently isn't quite as positive. What everyone seems to be overlooking is that the team is 4-0, Kenbrell Thompkins is getting better and better each week, and Gronk should return in no less than two weeks with Danny Amendola possibly coming back within that same time frame. Don't look now, but the Patriots are back.
Teams on bye this week, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Washington.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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