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!
Owen Daniels: What’s not to like here? Daniels is playing in an offense operated by Gary Kubiak, the same coach that was behind the scheming that netted the veteran tight end 62 receptions, 716 yards, and six touchdowns in 15 games just two short seasons ago. Through two weeks this season, the Ravens had targeted the tight end with second highest percentage of passes (only the Saints had done so more … you might have heard of their tight end). Finally, Daniels was already seeing the field (73 percent of snaps in Week 2) when Dennis Pitta was healthy. There might not be another tight end in the NFL, let alone on your waiver wire, with a better stage to step onto from this point forward. No, I’m not saying he is going to rank among the elite, but at a position with a lot of similarity, I do think he is a starting tight end as early as this Sunday.
Andre Ellington: For his owners it has been a rollercoaster ride, but you’re going to be rewarded for your patience sooner rather than later. You showed good foresight by drafting him for his upside and showed tremendous loyalty by sticking to your guns and not dealing him with these foot troubles. His snap count has increased in each of the first three weeks this season and it stands to reason that following his Week 4 bye that he will be ready to carry both the Cardinals running game and your Fantasy team. He has 55 touches through three weeks and that’s with Arizona keeping a watchful eye on him. The Cardinals offense should finally be at full strength and that means tremendous upside for their explosive back. Don’t be surprised if Ellington ranks as a Top 10 back from Weeks 5-10 … after which he could become a sell-high candidate. But we will worry about that when the time comes: enjoy and prosper in the short-term.
Alshon Jeffery: If you missed Monday Night Football this week, I encourage you to go back and focus on big ole #17. Jeffery not only looked healthy, he very much resembled the stud we saw late last season and had the confidence of Jay Cutler that so many worried about. Brandon Marshall is still there, but I expect him to garner the most attention from defenses (the Jets were hedging their coverage to his side and he was battling a sore ankle that he tweaked in the first half) and there is no corner in this league that can guard a healthy Jeffery one-on-one. The Bears even gave him two carries on gadget plays, indicating to me that they acknowledge his talent and are looking for ways to get him involved. I like him over Marshall, and most other receivers, the rest of the season and believe he could help guide you to a Fantasy title (post Week 9 bye opponents: Green Bay, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Dallas, New Orleans, Detroit, and Minnesota). The 105 yard performance is going to have his owners feeling good, but with a slow start through three weeks and Brandon Marshall continuing to be targeted with regularity, it is entirely possible that you can still acquire Jeffery for below his actual value.
Alfred Blue: Arian Foster’s hamstring doesn’t sound like an injury that is going to keep him sidelined this week, but Week 3 cleared up any questions as to who the proper handcuff is. Blue gained 88 yards on 14 touches against the Giants (totals that would have been a bit more impressive had Houston not fallen behind and only given him two touches in the fourth quarter) and looked very good doing it. While Knile Davis, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Justin Forsett offer more week-to-week production, I’m suggesting that Blue is a nice stash option in deeper leagues, as Foster is far from a guarantee to play in the remainder of games (he has now missed 12 games in the last three-plus seasons). The Texans seemed determined to use every bit of a healthy Foster before the season takes its toll. I don’t know how else you justify 59 touches in two weeks for a back of proven fragility, and I’m willing to spend a few bucks on a handcuff that immediately becomes a RB2 should the heavy workload result in Foster missing significant time.
Allen Robinson: Most people fear the unknown, but in the case of Robinson, the unknown should be viewed as a low risk opportunity. The fact of the matter is that we simply do not know what this Jags offense is going to look like with rookie Blake Bortles under center. Robinson is a very low risk option that could turn into the Jags primary deep threat. His raw talent is undeniable and he very much looked the part of a Fantasy relevant option after Bortles took over last week. Jacksonville can’t move the ball on the ground, is going to be playing from behind with regularity, and want to see what they have in their first round pick; the potential reward far outweighs the risk.
DeSean Jackson: It’s not that I don’t believe in Kirk Cousins, or Jackson for that matter, this one is based on principle. I don’t draft boom-or-bust players like this (I have far too many teams, but names like Torrey Smith, Jackson, and Mike Wallace don’t appear a single time), but if I did, it would be with the intention of selling high after a breakout performance. Jackson looked very good in gashing his former employer for 117 yards and a score, as Cousins targeted him on 25 percent of the pass plays he was on the field for. When is his value going to be any higher? He is only going to get healthier (the shoulder wasn’t 100 percent on Sunday) and the rapport with Cousins should only strengthen with time, reasonable trains of thought for any Fantasy owner. The problem? This is who DeSean Jackson is. No matter the situation, he is the type of player that is going to have just as many explosive games as useless efforts, and that seems unlikely to change. Could I be wrong? Sure. But Jackson is a headache to own and you can probably use last week’s explosion to save yourself the weekly sit/start quandary and land a receiver you feel more comfortable about starting on a weekly basis.
Locks Of The Week: New Orleans Saints (@ Dallas Cowboys), Indianapolis Colts (vs Tennessee Titans), and Atlanta Falcons (@ Minnesota Vikings)
Value Plays: Detroit Lions (@ New York Jets) and Washington Redskins (vs New York Giants)
Shocker: Jacksonville Jaguars (@ San Diego Chargers)
Listing winners isn’t enough? Fine. The reasoning behind all six selections is only a click away.
Week 4 Mailbag
@robdelgiorno: Lost Pitta. Pick between: Daniels, Allen, Clay, Quarless.
@SFGGothamClub: Lost Rudolph. Cut him for Quarrles, DAllen/Fleener, Clay, Cook, Myers, Gresham, Ebron, GGraham, or Daniels?
Answer: As you can tell from the first portion of this article, I love me some Owen Daniels. Targets lead to production: it may sound simple, but too many owners chase the intangibles or raw athletic ability. Daniels is going to get the ball thrown his way and he is a more than capable chain-mover, a combination that should lead to consistent Fantasy production. For the second question, I side with target count again. Charles Clay is the lone pass-catcher of size in this Fins offense and, assuming health, is my favorite of the listed pack should Ryan Tannehill remain under center. Andrew Quarless is an interesting player (on the field for 62 percent of snaps this season), but there is a running back and potentially four receivers getting looks from Aaron Rodgers before the pride of Penn State. The only other tight ends that I like from a talent standpoint are the duo in Indy, but with them essentially splitting snaps, I’m not buying the individual ceiling of either player.
Daniels and Clay (health). Allen 3rd.
@toner86: Should I pickup Donald Brown and drop Khiry Robinson or James Jones? Is he worth it?
@EUD77: 12 Team Non-PPR Pick up Donald Brown and drop Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, or Ahmad Bradshaw?
Answer: Donald Brown is a good back who is going to continue to get a heavy workload, the perfect combination for Fantasy owners. He touched the ball 36 times against the Bills … and that was without him finding any sort of rhythm whatsoever. The first question here is a classic “what can your roster absorb” issue. I like the targets, specifically the consistent red zone love, of James Jones, but if you have wide receiver depth, is he really going to start for you? I’d make the same argument against Khiry Robinson at the running back position. He is part of a committee, one that’ll grow when Mark Ingram returns in a month or so, and is no lock to get 15 touches a game. Ideally, I’m not cutting a Saints player now, but if push came to shove, I prefer Brown because his workload is considerably more reliable (heck, he might get 15 touches in the first quarter this weekend) and Ryan Mathews is no guarantee to stay healthy when he rejoins the team in mid-late October. For the second question, this is about where I draw the Donald Brown line. The three mentioned backs all have a steady role when everybody is healthy, something Brown COULD have, but as of now, doesn’t. The injury to Danny Woodhead provides an opportunity, but if Mathews is healthy, I think all three of these backs have greater Fantasy value. Joique Bell isn’t catching the ball up to this point like we thought he would, but Reggie Bush’s star is fading a bit and he could fill that Darren Sproles role sooner rather than later, thus giving Bell strong weekly value. Ahmad Bradshaw is proving on a consistent basis that he is better than Trent Richardson and the Colts are going to have to acknowledge that. It’s a fact. Bradshaw has fewer touches but more total yards in each of the first three weeks this season. He’s just the better player and is a Top 25 running back for me the rest of the way. Pierre Thomas is the lowest ranked player of these three and the lone one I’d consider cutting ties with for Brown in a non-PPR league, but I’m holding out faith. He should benefit from my projection for Saints domination over the next two months and he is still the most versatile back in an explosive offense. He is going to receive plenty of targets in the pass game as defenses key on Jimmy Graham (especially in the red zone) and he is still a good bet to get his 5-10 carries per game. If he can get his hands on the balls 15 times a week, I think that is enough for him to out produce Brown, understanding that he is going to be on the field for roughly 50 percent of the snaps in a healthy New Orleans offense, whereas Brown is more likely to be on the field for 30 percent when Mathews is back in the fold. Brown could well be the best option listed for the next month, but my guess is that if you drop one of those last three backs, they will get scooped up before Mathews returns, thus leaving you with the lesser back when the games count the most.
Draft Kings Week 4 Lineup
QB – Matt Ryan
RB – Alfred Morris
RB – Ahmad Bradshaw
WR – Julio Jones
WR – Alshon Jeffery
WR – Allen Robinson
TE – Owen Daniels
FLEX – DeAngelo Williams
D/ST – Carolina Panthers