“Now playing 3B for the Cardinals, Brandon C. Williams…”
“Congrats, Brandon. You’re going to be a father.”
“Mark Sanchez is a must-start Fantasy QB.”
Question: What are three things never said to Brandon C. Williams?
While lack of a throwing arm, an inability to hit offspeed pitches and a dating history with more highs and lows than an episode of The Blacklist are the major contributors to the first two questions, the last one — prior to Sunday afternoon — appeared to be a sure lock. Yet, life and Nick Foles’ balky collarbone bring us here to this moment, and it’s my responsibility to explain why Sanchez will be a must-start QB for your Fantasy team (if need be).
Let’s start with the obvious; Sanchez isn’t the same beleaguered King of the Butt Fumble he was with the Jets. Looking at how comfortable and at ease he felt running the Eagles’ offense last Sunday is a clear sign he’s beyond Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer’s contributions to making him a pariah to Gang Green (well, that and a sad sack of skill position players surrounding him). The attributes that once made him the fifth overall pick of the 2009 draft were on display – a strong arm, good pocket awareness and passable mobility. While he did throw two interceptions, one was clearly not his fault, as Josh Huff all but gave up on Sanchez’s throw.
Most of all, he’s got much better talent around him. Jeremy Maclin is in the midst of perhaps the best stretch of his career, LeSean McCoy ran for 117 yards and was involved in the passing game more extensively, Darren Sproles ran like the situational threat he was early in the season and both Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz also contributed. Honestly, the biggest reason why Sanchez is a must-start is that for the first time in his career, he’s in an environment that welcomes his skills. Put it all together, and he’s must-get for Foles owners worried about the prospects of a sudden downgrade to the low end district with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Austin Davis or Derek Carr.
Sanchez gets his first Eagles start on Monday night against a Panthers defense that allows the seventh-most Fantasy points to QBs. The game is at home, so that will give him even more of an edge considering the Eagles average 33 points per game at the Linc. He’ll be the starting QB for the remainder of the regular season, and if you look at Philly’s dance card the rest of the way, Sanchez has very favorable matchups, including a suddenly-exposed Cowboys defense in Week 15 and the Redskins in Week 16, which is something to consider if you’re plotting a Fantasy postseason trek (he gets the Giants for Week 17).
Long story short – pick up Sanchez and ride the potential for impressive numbers. He should be a viable play for standard leagues and a lock in deeper leagues. Keeper/dynasty owners may want to take a closer look at him if he does put up better numbers than Foles. It’s not too deep a stretch to suggest Sanchez could be the opening day starter in Philly come next September.
For those on the waiver wire and not looking for Eagles QBs:
Terrence West, RB, Browns: Ben Tate has 41 carries for 65 yards the last three weeks. You don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to do the math to translate that horrific lack of production. West’s 14-48 line last Sunday isn’t going to put him in the pantheon of great Browns backs, but it’s enough to consider grabbing him. West is owned in 24 percent of polled leagues, and with Tate working his way to the bench, the door is open for West, rather than Isaiah Crowell, to get the bulk of the touches in Thursday night’s critical showdown against the AFC North rival Bengals. Cincy is ranked 29th against the run, even more reason to pick up West if you’re in need of a one-week fix in the backfield.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Father of the Year finalist Peterson reached a plea deal in his child abuse case on Tuesday, which assures the Mean Machine will not get its much-needed power back next fall. It has also meant something of a stampede on his availability, which has risen to 41 percent in polled leagues. Let me say this again: Adrian Peterson WILL NOT PLAY for the Vikings this season. At this stage, Peterson still has at least one visit to Roger Goodell’s office and with more stipulations and red tape than election results in Louisiana, it’s very unlikely he will have any Fantasy impact this season. If Peterson plays, I’ll perform “I’m a Little Teapot” in a crowded gym. Keeper/Dynasty owners have more reason to pursue Peterson if he’s available. He’ll play next season and with the lack of wear and tear from this season, he’ll be equally fresh and motivated. Three early guesses on where he lands: 1) Dolphins 2) Chargers 3) Raiders, with the Seahawks (if they part ways with Marshawn Lynch) the intriguing wild card.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers: Being the WR3 for the Packers has been fruitful over the years, and Adams is becoming the latest to reap a harvest of production for Fantasy owners. Adams overtook Jarrett Boykin for the role and has been the subject of increased attention from Aaron Rodgers, who has targeted him 18 times in the last three weeks. Keep in mind that 17 of those targets came in two games, yet, Adams did score on the one target he got against the Panthers in Week 7. He’s owned in just 13 percent of leagues, and you have to like the fact that he’s one of the latest rookie wideouts to make his move. The Pack come off their bye and play a Bears defense that is 29th in completion percentage (allowed). Adams is a nice flex in deeper leagues and a Randall Cobb/Jordy Nelson injury away from becoming a low-end WR2.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans: You knew the Arian Foster injury bug was going to bite, and if you own Foster without handcuffing Blue, well…..Foster’s latest injury is to his groin, and while the Texans have a bye this week, there’s no guarantee Foster will be good to go when the Texans return to play the Browns in Week 11. Blue ran for 78 yards on 13 carries against the Giants in his only start this season, and it stands to reason that he could have a big afternoon versus a Cleveland run defense that ranks 30th in the league. He’s owned in 12 percent of polled leagues right now, so if you’re looking to make a preemptive strike down the stretch, Blue has the potential to be one of those backs that come out of nowhere and produce. Again, his value is Foster-related, but history tells us that Foster will not play all seven of the Texans’ remaining games.