Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday morning observations -- Week 11

Good morning, Fools. It's finally chilly in Dallas today, and it's another beautiful day all throughout Fantasyland.

Let's take our weekly spin through the NFL for the news we can use to make our best starting lineup decisions.

Tevin Coleman will get the start for Atlanta on Monday night as Devonta Freeman works his way through the concussion protocol. It's a rough matchup, but Coleman can produce as a runner and receiver, and he needs to be in your lineup.

Those of us hoping for big returns from Sterling Shepard today against the Chiefs need to activate their backup plan. Shepard has been suffering from migraines and will be inactive.

Maybe it's for the best, as the winds are gusting at MetLife. Could be an interesting day for both passing games.

Philip Rivers will play today. He made it through the concussion protocol and will take the field against the sputtering Bills defense.

Speaking of Buffalo, the team is hoping Charles Clay can return today from his knee injury. He's a risky play -- especially with Nathan Peterman making his first start at QB -- but he should absolutely be rostered for the stretch run. Jordan Matthews, who is expected to play after rehabbing his knee, is a similarly risky bet due to the QB situation.

Eddie Lacy is projected to return on Monday night, further muddying the waters in the Seahawks' backfield. Nobody is startable there.

There was concern about Leonard Fournette playing on a bum ankle, but he is a go after testing it in warmups. Get/keep him in your lineup, and put Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon on your bench.

Jamaal Williams will get the start for the Packers as both Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery have been ruled out. It's not a great matchup, but he should be in for a large volume, and he'll get the carries when/if the Packers make it to the goal-line.

We'll have another week of Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB for the Bucs as Jameis Winston sits out another game. Mike Evans is a must-start regardless, but not DeSean Jackson.

I scooped up Danny Woodhead in both of my leagues last week, but he'll be getting his feet wet for the Ravens on my bench. Hopefully he'll look like the Woodhead of old today and he'll be flex-worthy in Week 12. If he's still sitting there in your league, grab him now!

Kenny Stills will return to the Dolphins' lineup today, but as poorly as this offense is playing, I sure wouldn't trust him.

Want to get ahead of tomorrow's waiver-wire pickup recommendations? Consider Dede Westbrook, who'll finally take the field for the Jaguars today. Regardless of how he performs in his first NFL action (and he has big expectations for himself), I'll likely recommend him as a player who could contribute down the stretch. With Allen Hurns out today, Westbrook even has flier potential in his debut.

Chris Hogan will miss the game in Mexico City, but Danny Amendola is expected to suit up. He's a decent proxy, though he'll have to fight for targets from Gronk, Cooks and Dion Lewis.

Jordan Reed is out (again). Vernon Davis is a good start in his stead.

This could be Brock Osweiler's last game as a pro (bold prediction), as Paxton Lynch will serve as his backup for the Broncos today. Trevor Siemian will be inactive. If Osweiler can't make it in Denver (the only team he's ever performed well for), who would give him yet another shot?

That's it for now. Inactives and other late-breaking news up next via Twitter. Good luck today, Fools!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Week 11 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Michael Thomas, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Darren McFadden? 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 11 of the 2017 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs at Giants. New York’s secondary has been torched by the Rams and 49ers over the last two games, and it has surrendered a touchdown to a tight end in every game this season. That’s great news for Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and, by extension, Smith.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots at Raiders. It’s likely a Belichickian mirage, but Lewis is coming into focus as the Patriots’ lead back while Mike Gillislee disappears before our very eyes. Oakland’s run defense has been very generous to opposing backs, and Lewis adds bonus potential in the return game.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders vs. Patriots. New England’s run defense has been among the league’s worst, while Lynch is coming off his best game of the season. Though you can’t count on another two-score outing from the Beast, he should have little trouble shaking off Patriots tacklers and finding his way into the end zone in Mexico City.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants vs. Chiefs. Since returning two games ago from an ankle injury, Shepard has been targeted 22 times, demonstrating just how much important he is to Eli Manning. Meanwhile, no team has allowed more TDs to opposing wide receivers than the Chiefs. That’s a tasty combo.

Marqise Lee, WR. Jaguars at Browns. Speaking of high-volume receivers, Lee has been targeted 39 times over the last four games, and he is riding a two-game TD streak. Look for him to continue cashing in on those opportunities with another strong outing against the vulnerable Browns secondary.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Wentz, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Blake Bortles; RBs Kareem Hunt, Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Jordan Howard, Alvin Kamara; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Alshon Jeffery, Doug Baldwin, Davante Adams, Adam Thielen, Marvin Jones.

Roll ‘em back

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins at Saints. Gone are the days when a matchup against the Saints was the Big Easy. Cousins had a big game against a solid Vikings defense last week, but New Orleans’ secondary poses an even tougher test. With his favorite target, Jordan Reed, expected to sit out another week, Cousins is unlikely to fare well with his other mediocre weapons.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys vs. Eagles. Morris failed to take advantage of his first start against the Falcons, though he didn’t get much help from the Tyron Smith-less offensive line. The degree of difficulty soars this week. Philly’s run defense is the NFL’s stingiest, surrendering just 66 rushing yards per game. The red flags are flapping in this one.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans vs. Cardinals. Miller’s production has trailed off in tandem with the disruption in the Houston passing game, and D’Onta Foreman is back eating into his carries. Arizona’s run defense remains rock solid, keeping the ceiling low for Houston’s backfield mates.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos vs. Bengals. Sanders had a big game last week, but that came against the sieve-like Patriots secondary. Cincinnati’s unit, by contrast, is absolutely stifling. With the unsteady Brock Osweiler (temporarily) under center, Sanders is a very risky bet in this matchup.

Robert Woods, WR, Rams at Vikings. You hate to sit a guy on a hot streak like Woods, but he’s in for arguably his toughest matchup of the season in the form of shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes. Jared Goff, who’s on an impressive roll of his own, would be wise to look away from Woods to less-blanketed receivers, like Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins.

More thumbs down: QBs Matt Stafford, Dak Prescott, Case Keenum; RBs Thomas Rawls, Isaiah Crowell, Samaje Perine, Latavius Murray, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Jordy Nelson, John Brown, Tyrell Williams, Jamison Crowder, Mohammed Sanu, Dontrelle Inman, Kelvin Benjamin.

TAKING A FLIER

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Ravens at Packers. Maclin had his best game of the season (8 receptions for 98 yards) prior to Baltimore’s bye and he next faces a Green Bay secondary that has essentially collapsed over the last several weeks. Maclin, a huge disappointment thus far as a Raven, has a great chance to redeem himself this week.


DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…carries multiple kickers and defenses after this weekend. The bye schedule concludes in Week 11, so there’s no reason to weigh down your roster with “depth” at these positions. Replace them with players who have a chance to contribute to your postseason run.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Week 10, through the looking glass

The emergence of the Saints’ running game is really bumming out those of us counting on Drew Brees to lead us to the Promised Land. Balanced offenses are great for Super Bowl runs in the real world, but an elite fantasy quarterback is a terrible thing to waste.

It could be worse, of course. Brees could be out altogether, like Aaron Rodgers, whose departure likewise turned Jordy Nelson into a pungent slice of fantasy cheese.

Then there’s the great Case Keenum, who is molding Adam Thielen into a fantasy stud, while serving up ample leftovers to Stefon Diggs. Whaddya say we let Teddy Bridgewater heal a bit longer from the sidelines, coach?

Welcome to the fantasy limelight, Jared Goff. There were an awful lot of doubters out there. (They know who they are.)

You’ve been a welcome relief to those of us who grabbed you – perhaps in desperation – after Deshaun Watson bid farewell way too early.

It wasn’t that long ago that a Carson Wentz bye week went essentially unnoticed. Not any more. Hurry back, and don’t forget to bring Alshon, Nelson and Zach with you!

For one weekend, at least, fantasy owners who hedged their bets on Devonta Freeman with Tevin Coleman will be rewarded. It’s a shame that Coleman’s first start of the season comes against the Seahawks; but Tampa Bay is on deck, and Freeman’s journey through the concussion protocol could be extended.

Finally, after being sacked eight times by Adrian Clayborn and his Falcons teammates yesterday, it’s a minor miracle that we’re not talking about the future of the Cowboys without Dak Prescott. Forget the absence of Ezekiel Elliott. If they don’t get Tyron Smith back to protect Prescott’s blind side, this offense will turn positively Cleveland-like.

On a related note, I guess it’s time for some of us to stop congratulating ourselves for snapping up Alfred Morris a couple weeks ago.


WAIVER WIRE PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it’s best to start with a great draft. But filling gaps in your roster with the occasional waiver-wire acquisition can also pay big dividends. Here's a look at players worth considering, and one who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers. The last man standing in the Green Bay backfield – after Sunday’s injuries to Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery – is the fourth-round rookie from BYU. It currently appears that Williams will get the nod for at least one game – an unfavorable matchup with the Ravens in Week 11 – but there could be more. And a starting RB is a starting RB.

Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens. PPR leaguers, in particular, should not delay much longer in scooping up Woodhead, who was discarded in most leagues after his Week 1 hamstring injury. The versatile back – arguably the most talented in Baltimore’s stable – is hoping to return in Week 11. He should be a solid contributor down the stretch, simultaneously making Javorius Allen and Alex Collins irrelevant during that span.

Robert Woods, WR, Rams. With a pair of touchdown receptions in each of the last two games – not to mention 241 yards – Woods is demanding his fantasy due. He’s benefiting greatly from Goff’s hot hand and has clearly carved out a big-play role in the NFL’s top-scoring offense.

Don’t be fooled

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns. Coleman is preparing to return from a Week 2 hand injury; but despite Cleveland’s desperate need for a reliable starting wideout, the oft-injured second-year receiver is not someone to whom you should hitch your fortunes. The team’s QB situation is so pathetic, no Browns receiver can be trusted.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday morning observations -- Week 10

Good morning, Fools, from the Acela train somewhere between Washington, DC, and New York City. It's a beautiful day here, and in Fantasyland.

Let's take our weekly tour around the NFL for the news we can use to post our most competitive lineups.

Teddy Bridgewater's return to the starting lineup in Minnesota begins today when he backs up Case Keenum against the Redskins. The team won't rush Bridgewater back unless and until Keenum struggles, and that's not likely to be today. But it could just be a matter of a week or two. Bridgewater has never been a good fantasy QB, so I don't recommend rushing out to stash him, unless you are really thin at the position.

More good news for Joe Mixon owners: Jeremy Hill has been placed on IR due to his ankle injury. Mixon's hold on the workhorse role in Cinci's backfield is secure, though that role has not made him a fantasy stud. The Bengals' running game just isn't very good.

Bilal Powell also gets a nice uptick with Matt Forte out today (and possibly beyond) with a knee injury. He's a strong start against the Bucs today.

No worries about Julio Jones' availability today. He's ready to roll, and he has a good matchup against the Cowboys. Whether he finds the end zone for the second time this year is another question.

On the other side of the field, Dez Bryant is also expected to play, despite his ankle and knee issues. He, too, has a good matchup; but it's unclear if he can exploit it given that he is clearly not operating at 100%.

Danny Amendola should be back on the field, but he's not a good option against the stingy Denver secondary. Chris Hogan will miss this game.

Surprise, surprise. Jordan Reed is not expected to play today due to a bum hammy. Vernon Davis should be busy against the Vikings.

Charles Clay is expected to return for Buffalo. He's a good start against the Saints today.

After his acrimonious departure from Green Bay, Martellus Bennett has rejoined the Patriots and might even suit up today against the Broncos. He could have some value down the stretch, especially if Gronk gets nicked up again.

That's it for now. Inactives to come later via Twitter. Good luck today, Fools!




Friday, November 10, 2017

Week 10 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start LeSean McCoy and Antonio Brown, or to bench Mitchell Trubisky and Bryce Treggs? 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 10 of the 2017 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Jared Goff, QB, Rams vs. Texans. Did you like Goff’s stat line in Week 9? Get ready for more of that, as the young gunslinger takes on a Houston secondary that just got rocked by none other than Jacoby Brissett. Despite being armed with less-than-superstar talent at WR, Goff is emerging as a fantasy force in front of our very eyes.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys at Falcons. So it appears Ezekiel Elliott has finally run out of appeals. Barring a legal miracle, Morris should get the starting nod on Sunday against a so-so defense that hasn’t been tested by a running game as good as Dallas’. While Morris won’t see the same volume of touches as Zeke, he should get plenty of opportunities, including in the red zone.

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets at Buccaneers. There’s a very good chance Matt Forte won’t play this week due to a knee issue. That would shift the backfield workload to Powell’s capable hands against one of the league’s true rushing doormats. In fact, the Bucs are so bad, Powell is worth starting consideration even if Forte suits up.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers at Colts. The rookie had his breakout game in Week 8 against the Lions and he’ll return from the bye on a two-game scoring roll. The Colts have offered little resistance to opposing passing attacks, so look for Smith-Schuster to continue building his resume. Martavis Bryant remains a non-factor for the Steelers.

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions vs. Browns. It’s time to take Jones seriously again. He’s had three solid games in a row and has quietly moved into elite territory. Kenny Golladay’s possible return shouldn’t impact his targets immediately, and Matt Stafford’s high-volume passing should keep Jones a busy man against the Browns’ shaky secondary.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford, Josh McCown; RBs Leonard Fournette, Jordan Howard, Jerick McKinnon, Alvin Kamara; WRs Cooper Kupp, Sterling Shepard, DeSean Jackson, Jarvis Landry, Golden Tate, Adam Thielen.

Roll ‘em back

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins vs. Vikings. Cousins’ production has trailed off significantly over the last two games, which coincides with the rapid depletion of his offensive line and receiving corps. He’ll get a boost if Jordan Reed returns from his latest injury, but not enough to warrant starting him against Minnesota’s premier secondary.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins at Panthers. We got some clarity on the Dolphins’ backfield rotation in Week 9, with Drake emerging as a power runner and Damien Williams complementing him as a third-down, pass-friendly back. Despite Drake’s impressive debut as the starter, keep him on your bench against Carolina’s stingy run defenders.

Aaron Jones, RB, Packers at Bears. Just when we thought Jones had made this backfield his own, Ty Montgomery was allotted an equal number of carries (just five) against the Lions and Jamaal Williams poached the goal-line scoring plunge. Chicago’s run defense is solid – despite their showing against the Saints’ formidable duo last weekend – and with little threat from the Packers’ passing game, the Bears will surely stack the box to stop Jones & Co. in their tracks.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans vs. Bengals. Matthews remains Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, but that hasn’t made him consistently productive fantasy-wise. Facing a stifling Bengals secondary, all of the Titans receivers are risky bets on Sunday.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans at Rams. With Tom Savage at the controls, Houston’s passing attack has a serious problem. While DeAndre Hopkins can’t be benched, Fuller managed just 2 receptions for 32 yards in Savage’s first start. Against the Rams’ vastly improved pass defense, Fuller’s ceiling is low.

More thumbs down: QBs Marcus Mariota, Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Blake Bortles, Eli Manning, Jacoby Brissett, Case Keenum; RBs Tarik Cohen, C.J. Anderson, Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Dion Lewis, Ameer Abdullah, Frank Gore, Isaiah Crowell, DeMarco Murray, Jonathan Stewart, Tevin Coleman, Theo Riddick, Mike Gillislee; WRs Terrelle Pryor, Tyrell Williams, Jordy Nelson, Donte Moncrief, Dez Bryant, Allen Hurns, Danny Amendola, Corey Davis, Travis Benjamin, Martavis Bryant, Eric Decker.

TAKING A FLIER

Robby Anderson, WR, Jets at Buccaneers. Normally, a guy who reels in a TD in three consecutive weeks wouldn’t classify as a flier. But Anderson is a Jet, and it takes uncommon faith to bet on a member of this receiving corps. But Josh McCown has been surprisingly effective, and the Bucs’ pass defense has been decidedly sorry.


DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…throws in the towel just because you think you’re out of postseason contention. Work the waiver wire, look for trading opportunities and, most important, field the best starting lineup you can every weekend. Tanking not only makes you a quitter, but it could disrupt the competitive balance of your league. Play to win, baby! 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday morning observations -- Week 9

Greetings, Fools, from the beautiful Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in fabulous Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Which is to say, the Chief Fool is on vacation and taking my first bye week off writing during the NFL season in 10 years.

So you're on your own today, my friends. And I won't have my column up tomorrow.

Good luck, and win one for the Fool!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Week 9 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Leonard Fournette, or to bench Tom Savage and Kamar Aiken? 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 9 of the 2017 season.

Watch ‘em roll

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Derek Carr, QB, Raiders at Dolphins. When you make the Ravens passing attack look imposing, you know you’ve got issues. That’s what Carr and his receivers will face on Sunday night. As long as Amari Cooper shows up, Carr should have another big-time outing.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints vs. Buccaneers. Ingram has something to prove after losing two fumbles last weekend. Though Alvin Kamara has been very productive, Ingram is still getting the majority of the rushing touches and remains plenty active as a receiver. The Bucs have been generous to opposing rushers lately, especially in the red zone, where Ingram excels.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers vs. Falcons. If ever Carolina needed its first-round pick to produce, this is the time. Cam Newton will be looking the rookie’s way frequently, given the dearth of talent in his depleted receiving corps. Don’t expect much ground yardage, but McCaffrey should produce nicely as a receiver.

Golden Tate, WR, Lions at Packers. Despite most signs pointing to him sitting out last week’s contest with a shoulder injury, Tate played – and led the Lions in receptions. He’ll continue on that track in a healthier state this weekend as Detroit continues to lean heavily on Matt Stafford’s arm. Green Bay’s depleted secondary is vulnerable.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs at Cowboys. Hill is coming off his worst game of the season against Denver, but don’t hold that against him. The big-play receiver will have plenty of opportunities to shred a secondary that has coughed up the third-most touchdowns to opposing wideouts this season.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Alex Smith; RBs Joe Mixon, Lamar Miller, Alex Collins, Adrian Peterson; WRs Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald, Emmanuel Sanders, Jarvis Landry, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Sterling Shepard.

Roll ‘em back

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers vs. Falcons. With Greg Olsen still rehabbing and Kelvin Benjamin shuffled off to Buffalo, Newton is left with Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffrey and a gang of misfits to throw to. Against a solid Atlanta pass defense, it’s hard to imagine Cam firing on many cylinders.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles vs. Broncos. Denver has yet to allow a rushing TD all season, and newcomer Ajayi isn’t going to disrupt that trend. He’ll likely split carries with LeGarrette Blount as he learns the playbook and defines his role in his new offense. Let the former Dolphin get his feet wet on your bench.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos at Eagles. Anderson is now the leader of a three-headed committee that includes both Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. If that’s not bad enough, they’ll be facing one of the league’s stingiest run defenses stacking the line and daring Brock Osweiler to beat them. Good luck with that.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers vs. Lions. I realize you may have little choice but to roll the dice with Nelson, but the Brett Hundley era in Green Bay is off to an awfully ugly start. Nelson is likely to be shadowed by elite corner Darius Slay, so there’s little room for optimism this weekend.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles vs. Broncos. Carson Wentz has joined the elite QB ranks, but his starting receivers have been low-volume producers. Against the rock-solid Denver secondary, it’s hard to feel good about either Agholor or Alshon Jeffery. Zach Ertz is a must-start, but give the wideouts a breather this weekend.

More thumbs down: QBs Jameis Winston, Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Drew Stanton, Brock Osweiler; RBs Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, Rob Kelley, Thomas Rawls, Ty Montgomery, Jonathan Stewart, Kenyan Drake, Orleans Darkwa, Andre Ellington; WRs Mohamed Sanu, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Maclin, T.Y. Hilton, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Will Fuller, Mike Wallace, Marvin Jones.

TAKING A FLIER

Jared Goff, QB, Rams at Giants. Trying to solve your bye week – or Deshaun Watson – problem? Consider Goff, who is coming off his own bye to take on a Giants secondary that will be playing without its best cover corner (Janoris Jenkins). The young passer has cooled off since his impressive start, but look for a nice rebound in this juicy matchup.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…keeps dead weight on your roster. Unless you play in a keeper league, there’s no reason to hold onto injured players like Watson, Aaron Rodgers (still owned in 45% of ESPN leagues), Andrew Luck, Dalvin Cook, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Pierre Garcon. Use that space on players with upside down the stretch, such as Goff, Corey Davis or Paul Richardson.

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