Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Week 4 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Philip Rivers, Chargers – Passed for 358 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.
Sam Bradford, Eagles – Nobody started him, but maybe they will next week after his 270-yard, 3- TD game, without a turnover.
Nick Foles, Rams – Only 171 passing yards, but collected 3 TDs and no turnovers.

Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Nearly matched last week’s stellar output with 68 rushing yards and a TD trifecta, plus 5 receptions for 81 yards.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – Oh, so he’s still part of this offense? I guess so, after his 40-yard, 3-TD performance.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers – Ran for 129 yards and a TD, and caught 7 passes for 21 more.
Chris Ivory, Jets – Ran roughshod over the Dolphins for 166 yards and a TD.

Tavon Austin, Rams – Scored twice while hauling in 6 passes for 96 yards.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars – Reeled in 11 receptions for 116 yards and a TD.
Vincent Jackson, Bucs – Tallied 10 catches for 147 yards and a score.

Falcons – Registered 1 sack, an INT, 3 fumbles and two TDs on fumble returns.

Cairo Santos, Chiefs – Accounted for all of KC’s scoring, with field goals of 22, 29, 34, 40, 40, 51 and 51 yards.

This was a great week to play against…

Joe Flacco, Ravens – Passed for 189 yards and a TD, but also had an INT and a fumble.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – Only 160 passing yards with an INT but no TDs, plus 57 rushing yards.
Matt Stafford, Lions – Just 203 passing yards without a score (though that wasn’t his fault).

Lamar Miller, Dolphins – Only 26 rushing and 10 receiving yards in London.
Matt Jones, Redskins – Only 11 rushing yards.
Arian Foster, Texans – His 2015 debut was only good for 10 rushing yards and 3 catches for 25 yards, and he lost a fumble. But that was better than Alfred Blue’s 17 yards.
Darren Sproles, Eagles – Held to 17 rushing yards, without a reception.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers – Just 22 combined yards on the day.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers – Ran for 38 yards and added just 8 receiving yards.
Ameer Abdullah, Lions – Only 33 rushing and 11 receiving yards.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – 50 yards rushing won’t cut it.
DeMarco Murray, Eagles – Rushed for 36 yards and caught 2 balls for 12 yards.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – Was a shell of Beast Mode with only 48 rushing yards.
Latavius Murray, Raiders – Limited to 61 combined yards and lost a fumble.
Alfred Morris, Redskins – Ran for 62 yards and caught 2 balls for 3 yards.

Roddy White, Falcons – Continued his career decline with just 8 yards on 2 balls.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers – Had 12 yards on 3 catches.
Steve Smith, Ravens – Just 24 yards on 4 receptions before leaving with broken ribs.
Rishard Matthews, Dolphins – Caught just 1 pass for 16 yards in London.
Marques Colston, Saints – Barely rosterable anymore with only 19 yards on 4 grabs.
Brandin Cooks, Saints – Left with just 25 yards on 4 receptions.
Percy Harvin, Bills – When they needed him most, he was held to 26 yards on 3 catches.
Golden Tate, Seahawks – Only 29 yards on 3 catches.
Mike Evans, Bucs – Just 32 yards on 3 receptions.
Julius Jones, Falcons – Remarkably, had just 38 yards on 4 catches in a 48-21 rout.
Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants – Limited to 38 yards on 5 receptions.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Held to 44 yards on 5 receptions.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles – Only 50 yards on 3 catches.
Calvin Johnson, Lions – Not very Mega, with 7 catches for 56 yards, plus a very costly fumble.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Only 7 yards on 2 receptions.
Eric Ebron, Lions – Just 22 yards on 2 balls before leaving with an injury.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks – Limited to 29 yards on 4 catches on Monday night.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fantasy points scarce in Week 4

According to my unscientific survey, scoring was down significantly across fantasy leagues this weekend, especially when compared to their prolific outburst in Week 3.

That’s partly because NFL teams put up a season-high total of 773 points last weekend, versus just 630 in Week 4 (with one game remaining tonight). Of course, the Patriots and Titans were idle, so that accounted for much of the decline.

But a more significant factor was in play that caused the dip in this weekend’s fantasy output: who did – and didn’t do – the scoring.

For starters, only three quarterbacks accumulated as many as three touchdowns – Nick Foles, Sam Bradford and Philip Rivers – but virtually nobody owns Foles, precious few trust Bradford and even Rivers was started in fewer than half of all leagues.

Devonte Freeman, Jeremy Hill (finally), Chris Ivory and Le’Veon Bell held up their end of the bargain, but the week’s top receivers were Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns and Vincent Jackson (whose recent production earned him a seat on the bench from more than half of his owners).

In other words, it was an odd week; so don’t get down on yourself if your starting lineup took an unexpected vacation.

Meanwhile, fewer than a fifth of all fantasy players with Todd Gurley on their roster started him in Week 4. Like me, they were waiting until the Rams set loose their prized first-round selection before risking him in their lineup. After his 161-combined-yard coming-out party on Sunday, it appears the Gurley Era is now upon us. This weekend could mark the last time he sits on a bench barring a new injury or bye week for the next five or more years.

Okay, I may be getting ahead of myself. But I’m on record as predicting fantasy superstardom for Gurley once he is fully recovered from his college knee injury. By all indications, he is now ready for prime time.

It was also good to see Arian Foster back in action, albeit with limited results. Hopefully he had no setbacks Sunday and will be going full throttle Thursday night against the Colts.

As for Drew Brees? Perhaps his shoulder is still not 100 percent, but he’s certainly sharp enough to lead most any fantasy squad.

Finally, Week 5 marks the return of Antonio Gates and Martavis Bryant from their four-game suspensions. Don’t be surprised if Gates immediately resumes his role as Rivers’ go-to receiver. Bryant, on the other hand, returns to less-hospitable conditions with Michael Vick at the controls of Pittsburgh’s offense. (See Brown, Antonio.)


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Falcons. The No. 2 wideout in Atlanta’s offense has been a valuable commodity throughout the Matt Ryan era. For years, that’s been Roddy White. But times have changed, and Hankerson is now benefitting from all the attention being paid to Julio Jones. Matty Ice is turning the former Redskin into a reliable fantasy performer.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars. Honestly, I’m not interested in any Jacksonville receiver not named Allen Robinson. But Hurns has tallied 314 yards in four games and all three of his TDs over the last two weeks. If you need WR depth, and believe in Blake Bortles, knock yourself out.

Charles Clay, TE, Bills. With 9 receptions for 111 yards, Clay was Tyrod Taylor’s most targeted and most prolific receiver on the field Sunday. Sure, he’s benefitting from the absence of Sammy Watkins; but he’s also taking advantage of this time to build trust with his quarterback.

Don’t be fooled

Sam Bradford, QB, Eagles. It was refreshing to see Bradford throw downfield for a change against the Redskins. But as erratic as Philly’s offense has looked thus far this year, he has a lot of work to do before he can be trusted.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams. Prior to Sunday’s 96-yard, two-touchdown outburst, Austin had amassed just 42 receiving yards on the season (including minus-2 in Week 1). Though he has added 77 yards and a TD as a rusher, he is exasperatingly inconsistent. This has been Austin’s pattern since his 2013 rookie season. Let someone else take the bait.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins. He had just three receptions for 20 yards, including a goose egg in Week 3, prior to his trip across the pond. Given how pathetic the Dolphins looked against the Jets, and the team’s upcoming bye, there are much better options out there.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday morning updates -- Week 4

Good morning, Fools. I write this while watching my Dolphins "hosting" the Jets in London town. I was in Wembley Stadium the first time the Dolphins played overseas, for the "American Bowl" against the 49ers in 1988. That was when I was young, single, working for American Airlines and could fly to London for about $30 roundtrip -- in first class, mind you. I'll never forget being amongst the enthusiastic, but confused, British fans who chanted "Offense! Defense!" during the game. Very strange...

It's also very strange to have live football on so early now. Can't image you all on the West Coast tuning in at 6:30 am!

There were no significant offensive inactives for either of this morning's teams, as I tweeted earlier. Here's the rest of the news we can use to dominate our opponent(s) this weekend...

It's not yet official, but Andrew Luck is expected to be inactive today due to his nagging shoulder injury. Matt Hasselback will be leading the Colts offense, which means it could be trouble for those counting on TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief and the rest of Indy's receivers. Hasselbeck was sharp in limited mop-up action late last season, but we haven't seen him start a game since he was a Titan in 2013. I wouldn't start anyone but Hilton and Frank Gore from Indy's side, and then only if you don't have better alternatives.

Jay Culter may return today. You're not desperate enough to start him, of course; but his presence would sure help Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. If Alshon Jeffery is active, everyone benefits. But Jeffery's status is less optimistic than Cutler's.

Arian Foster is expected to make his first appearance of the 2015 season today. If he plays, he's a good -- though not entirely safe -- start against the Falcons.

Marshawn Lynch's arrow is pointing down even further now, due to his bum hammy. He's the proverbial game-time decision. Looks like Thomas Rawls will get the first start of his NFL career on Monday night against the Lions, with Fred Jackson remaining the third-down back. Rawls is my "Flier of the Week," so he could be strong whether or not you're a Lynch owner. The problem is, you'll probably have to make your decision before we know Lynch's status for certain. Risky indeed...

On the opposite side, Joique Bell won't play for the Lions, leaving the backfield mostly in rookie Ameer Abdullah's hands. It's a tough matchup, and Abdullah hasn't looked great yet. But he's scored twice in three games and will have a lot more opportunities this week with Bell out. Fellow rookie Zach Zenner will also get in the action. If he outshines Abdullah, as some think he may, look for him among my recommended pickups in Monday's column.

DeMarco Murray should be back in the lineup today, but it's hard to trust him against the Redskins. Actually, it's hard to trust him in the Eagles offense against anybody.

If you've been enjoying Steve Smith's performance thus far this season, you'll need to make other plans for a while. He broke four ribs during the Thursday nighter. No indication yet how long he'll be sidelined, though he's definitely out at least Week 5. Fellow wideout Michael Campanero is out for the season with a back injury. The Ravens acquired Chris Givens from the Rams yesterday. Breshad Perriman can't get healthy fast enough for Baltimore.

Givens' departure means Brian Quick will finally see the field today against the Cardinals. He was a fantasy stud for a brief stretch in 2014, until he suffered a serious shoulder injury. If he's fully healthy, perhaps Quick can give the Rams' passing game a lift. Lord knows, Nick Foles could use the help.

Looks like Davante Adams (ankle) will miss today's game. You know you have to start James Jones now. Crazy that neither the Giants or the Raiders saw anything in him.

TE Dwayne Allen is expected to be back today, but see above for Colts receiver prospects.

Vernon Davis (knee) most likely won't play today, though you could argue he really hasn't played all season.

Josh Scobee was a fixture in Jacksonville for 11 seasons. Then everything fell apart when the Jags traded him to the Steelers. Scobee was released after he missed two more field goals on Thursday night. Chris Boswell will be Pittsburgh's fourth kicker this season. As long as Big Ben is sidelined, he's not worth picking up; even if he proves to be accurate.

That's it for now. My Dolphins look pretty awful so far. Gonna need to send them some positive, uninterrupted vibes in the second half. As any Dolphin or Jet fan knows, no lead is ever safe when these teams meet.

I'll be tweeting the inactives and other late-breaking news a little later. Good luck today, Fools!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Week 4 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Odell Beckham, Jr., or to bench Josh McCown and Dwayne Bowe? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 4 of the 2015 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals vs. Chiefs. You have to be impressed by the way Dalton and his receiving corps dismantled the Ravens pass defense in Week 3. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have given up 10 passing TDs already, with Aaron Rodgers collecting half of them Monday night. Dalton & Co. should continue their roll at home this weekend.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders at Bears. Carr has been en fuego over the last two weeks, teaming up with rookie Amari Cooper as one of the most prolific young duos in the league. They’ll face a Chicago team that already appears to be angling for the first pick in the 2016 draft, after trading away two defensive starters. The Carr-Cooper combo should eat these guys for lunch.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets at Dolphins. I know, I know…he left you with a goose egg last week. But the Jets presumably learned their lesson by holding Ivory out, running poorly as a team against the Eagles. He’s not expected to be limited by his ailing quad against Miami’s pathetic run defense. Ivory should run wild in London.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts vs. Jaguars. T.Y. Hilton has been a disappointment so far this year, while Andre Johnson has been invisible. Moncrief has been anything but. With 200 receiving yards to date and a TD in each of his first three games, the second-year wideout is quietly building his case for must-start status.

Percy Harvin, WR, Bills vs. Giants. It’s been a long time since I’ve been high on Harvin. But with Sammy Watkins (calf) already declared out, and young gunslinger Tyrod Taylor quickly emerging as a reliable passer, Harvin should be the primary beneficiary of this highly favorable matchup.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Tyrod Taylor, Philip Rivers; RBs Matt Forte, Melvin Gordon, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Isaiah Crowell, Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, Chris Johnson, Carlos Hyde, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Karlos Williams; WRs James Jones, Brandon Marshall, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Rishard Matthews, Keenan Allen, Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin, Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Leonard Hankerson.

Roll ‘em back

Drew Brees, QB, Saints vs. Cowboys. My Magic 8 Ball says “signs point to yes” when asked if Brees will return from his shoulder injury for the Sunday night showdown. But I will be sitting him in two leagues regardless. Even against a Dallas secondary that was lit up by Matt Ryan last week, he’s hard to trust right now. And I can’t remember ever writing those words about Brees. I hope I’m wrong; but I don’t think I am.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos vs. Vikings. Shockingly, Anderson has yet to rush for 30 yards in a game this season. His owners can’t afford to show patience any longer, despite another favorable matchup on deck. Ronnie Hillman has been more effective than Anderson thus far, but only marginally. Denver’s offensive line isn’t giving anyone room to run, forcing the offense to run through Peyton Manning’s arm yet again.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins vs. Eagles. Not only has Matt Jones gotten more touches lately, but Morris doesn’t look anywhere near as effective as the ostensible starter. This is a full-fledged RB by committee now, with Jones acting as leader of the pack. You shouldn’t drop Morris, but his transition from “workhorse” to “handcuff” shows just how quickly things can change in the NFL, and Fantasyland.

Mike Wallace, WR, Vikings at Broncos. Teddy Bridgewater has just one passing TD this season – despite facing three fairly average opponents – and there’s every chance that number won’t change on Sunday. He and his receivers will be facing the mighty Broncos pass defense, so look for another quiet afternoon for Wallace.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns at Chargers. Benjamin has had a magical start to his season, despite shagging balls from two mediocre quarterbacks. But he’ll be facing a stout Chargers pass defense on Sunday. This looks like a setback in what’s shaping up to be a career year for the veteran wideout.

More thumbs down: QBs Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater; RBs Rashad Jennings, Andre Ellington, Ameer Abdullah, Matt Jones, Doug Martin, Jeremy Hill, Tre Mason, DeMarco Murray, Todd Gurley; WRs Terrance Williams, Kenny Britt, Torrey Smith, Stevie Johnson, Nelson Agholor, Marques Colston, John Brown, Pierre Garcon, Michael Floyd.


Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks vs. Lions. Rawls emerged out of nowhere last week to rush for 104 yards while Marshawn Lynch played sparingly with a variety of injuries. Beast Mode’s availability for Monday night is in question, opening the door for Rawls’ first NFL start against the below-average Detroit run defense. Fred Jackson is expected to remain the third-down back.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to plan ahead for the bye weeks. Were you caught off guard by the Patriots being idle this weekend? (Okay, the Titans are, too.) It gets tougher in Week 5, with the Panthers, Dolphins, Vikings and Jets off. Savvy players look at least a week ahead and make the necessary adjustments before they have to compete with others on the waiver wire.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 3 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Aaron Rodgers, Packers -- Torched the Chiefs for 333 yards and 5 TDs, plus 16 yards as a scrambler, without a turnover.
Andy Dalton, Bengals – Passed for 383 yards and 3 TDs, but turned the ball over twice.
Cam Newton, Panthers – Threw for 315 yards and 2 TDs, and added 33 rushing yards and another TD.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Racked up 277 yards and 3 TDs, plus 12 rushing yards, without a turnover.

Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Tevin who? Freeman’s 141-yard, 3-TD rushing performance, with 5 catches for 52 more yards, makes case for starting status.
Joseph Randle, Cowboys – Had a big first half with 87 yards and 3 TDs, plus 18 yards on 2 receptions.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots – Bill Belichick did it to us again, giving Blount the bulk of the carries (18 for 78 yards and 3 TDs).
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Welcome back, AD. Rumbled for 126 yards and 2 TDs.
Chris Johnson, Cardinals – Had his best game in forever, with 110 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus a 40-yard reception.
Darren Sproles, Eagles – Ran for 17 yards and 1 TD, caught 4 balls for 19 yards and returned a punt for a second TD.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- Rushed for 49 yards and 3 TDs, and added 5 catches for 33 yards.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers – Returned with a splash, rushing for 62 yards and a TD and hauling in 7 passes for 70 yards.
Frank Gore, Colts – Finally showed up, rushing for 86 yards and 2 TDs.
Latavius Murray, Raiders – Rushed for 139 yards and a TD, plus a 10-yard catch.
Alfred Blue, Texans – Came out of nowhere to also run for 139 yards and a score.

A.J. Green, Bengals – Had a monster outing with 10 receptions for 227 yards and a pair of TDs.
Steve Smith, Ravens – Nearly kept up with Green with 13 catches for 186 yards and 2 TDs.
Randall Cobb, Packers -- Snared 7 passes for 91 yards and a TD trifecta.
James Jones, Packers -- He had 7 catches for 139 yards and 1 score.
Keenan Allen, Chargers – Caught a dozen balls for 133 yards and 2 TDs.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Pulled down 9 passes for 134 yards and 2 more TDs.
Julio Jones, Falcons – Scored twice on a dozen receptions for 164 yards.
Rishard Matthews, Dolphins – Hauled in 6 passes for 113 yards and a pair of TDs.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs -- Caught 8 passes for 141 yards and an actual TD for Kansas City.
Reuben Randle, Giants – Finally showed up with 7 receptions for 116 yards and a TD.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texas – Reeled in 8 passes for 101 yards and a score.

Greg Olsen, Panthers – Caught both of Cam’s 2 TDs, as well as 8 of his passes for 134 yards.

Cardinals – Collected 2 sacks, 4 INTs and a safety while scoring on 2 INT returns and holding the 49ers to 7 points.
Seahawks – Amassed 2 sacks and scored on a kickoff return while pitching a shutout against the hapless Chicago offense.

This was a great week to play against…

Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings – Only 121 passing yards, no TDs and an INT.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Just 192 passing yards and an INT without a score before exiting with a knee injury.
Nick Foles, Rams – Limited to 197 passing yards and 10 rushing yards without a TD, plus an INT.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – Just 67 passing yards, and his 46 rushing yards and a TD were offset by 4 INTs (including 2 pick-6s)

Chris Ivory, Jets – Was active, but no-showed against the Eagles.
Joique Bell, Lions – Gained 6 yards on the ground, but lost 2 on his only catch.
Matt Jones, Redskins – Last week’s shooting star fumbled and ran for just 38 yards, which was twice as much as starter Alfred Morris.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Started late and left early with a bum hammy, amassing just 23 total yards in the process.
C.J. Anderson, Broncos – His time as a starter may be over, after his 27-combined-yard outing on Monday night.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – Only 21 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
Justin Forsett, Ravens – Ran for 13 and caught 4 passes for 16. Disappointed…
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Just 36 rushing yards.
T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars – Ran for 33 yards and added just 9 yards on 2 catches.
Tre Mason, Rams – Totaled 31 combined yards. He won’t hold off Gurley for long.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers – Keeps finding ways to be mediocre, with just 46 yards and no production as a receiver.
Bishop Sankey, Titans – Just 10 as a rusher and 31 as a receiver.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers – Rushed for only 51 yards.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Limited to 52 rushing yards without a pass.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers – Ran for 51 yards and added a 10-yard reception.

Roddy White, Falcons – Shut out by the Cowboys.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys – Atlanta returned the favor with him.
Torrey Smith, 49ers – Never touched the ball against the Cards.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Just a wall flower in this contest, accounting for a 12-yard reception.
Devin Funchess, Panthers – Caught a 14-yarder.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers – Just 16 yards on 2 receptions.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – At least his only reception went for 39 yards before he left with a calf injury.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers – Only 2 catches for 40 yards.

Tyler Eifert, Bengals – Blanked in the dramatic victory over Baltimore.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Only 14 yards on 2 receptions.
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins – Limited to 16 yards on 3 passes.
Martellus Bennett, Bears – His 4 receptions were the most for a Chicago receiver, though he had just 15 yards.