Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fantasy Football: Week 10 in review

Beware of the waiver wire flavor of the week

Posted by Karl Brenkert on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 1:00 PM

As you mine the waiver wire looking for that breakout player who will carry you to the fantasy playoffs, be careful to avoid the pyrite. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to let go of a player you are high on in order to pick up the flavor of the week. Invariably, your castoff will come to life as soon as he is claimed by a rival owner while the player you rushed to grab will never make your starting lineup. Getting beat by players who used to be on your roster is the worst kind of fantasy hell. Week 10 saw some players shine for the first time this season, but I get the feeling they are nothing more than fool's gold. These are players you should avoid this week on the waiver wire.

The Rams came out and put a 38-8 beat down on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. All the Luck in the world wasn't enough to make this game close. The story of the game was rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin who took 2 of his 3 targets to the house and added a 98 yard punt return for a touchdown. He finished the day with 138 yards receiving and 310 all-purpose yards. It was a great day for the rookie, but I'd rather hang on to Denarius Moore or even Eddie Royal.

The Saints are great in the Superdome. On Sunday night, they beat up the NFC Least leading Dallas Cowboys 49-17 and the whole Saints team got into the action. Even Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram looked like a star. Ingram carried the ball 14 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. He ran with ferocity and determination in averaging more than 10 yards per carry. Of course it helps when the opponent is focused on trying to stop Drew Brees, who threw for 392 yards, but it's not like that's anything new. Brees and Graham have been lighting up the league all season. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles each scored a rushing and a receiving touchdown in this game, and they should continue to see more time on the field than Ingram. I'd rather keep Chris Ivory or Lamar Miller going forward.

Whatever happened to the theory that West Coast teams were supposed to struggle in early games on the East Coast? Nobody told the Seahawks. They trounced the hapless Falcons 33-10 before it was even lunchtime back home in Seattle. Golden Tate was the Seahawks leading receiver with 6 catches for 106 yards and 1 touchdown on the day, but both Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse topped 75 yards receiving, as well. With Percy Harvin scheduled to return to the lineup in Week 11 and the team focused on pounding the ball with Marshawn Lynch, I'd rather stick with players like Aaron Dobson or Emmanuel Sanders on my fantasy team.

Minnesota was able to earn their second win of the season last Thursday night against the Washington Redskins despite having both Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell playing quarterback. Adrian Peterson is the offense for the Vikings, but with starting tight end Kyle Rudolph out of the game with an injury, veteran tight end John Carlson suddenly emerged as a receiving threat for Minnesota. Carleson was a decent tight end for the Seahawks early in his career but managed only 104 total yards through his first season and a half in Minnesota. On Thursday, he caught all 7 of his targets for a career high 98 yards and a touchdown. While I'm sure his family is very proud of him, he's not going to do much for your fantasy team. Don't add him to your roster.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fantasy Football Week 10 preview

Three is the magic number

Posted by Karl Brenkert on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Three is the magic number. Yes it is, it's a magic number. In Week 9, four wide receivers and a running back each scored three touchdowns. Prior to Week 9, only eight total non-quarterbacks had scored three or more touchdowns in a game over the entire season (3 RBs, 3 WRs, and 2 TEs) with no more than two in the same week. But before you get too excited about the players who blew up this week, know that those eight players have scored a total of six total touchdowns since they put up their huge week. So, let's examine which of the players from this week have the best opportunity to continue scoring touchdowns.

Alfred Morris owners are getting sick of the Shanahanigans. Washington has two running backs that have scored three touchdowns in a game this year and neither one is Morris. In Week 7, it was Roy Helu with three scores. He hasn't scored since. This week, it was fullback Darrel Young. Young had 5 carries for 12 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Redskins' overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers. Prior to this week, Young had two carries on the season. It's unlikely that he'll suddenly become fantasy relevant. It safe to ignore Young in all fantasy formats.

Jerricho Cotchery is a former 1,000 yard receiver for the New York Jets, but he hasn't shown the same form in his three years with the Steelers. This year, he's consistently caught between three and five receptions per game for an average of 14.6 yards per catch. This week, he caught seven passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers loss to the New England Patriots. As the Steelers poor defense and lack of a dominant running game force them into shootouts, Pittsburgh will have to throw the ball to stay competitive. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have developed into reliable receivers who demand the attention of the opponents and Cotchery may see more passes come his way over the second half of the season. Still, his opportunities will be limited. Pick him up in free agency only if you are desperate.

Riley Cooper had a rough off-season but is rapidly regaining the respect of fantasy owners across the country. Since Nick Foles entered the starting lineup, Cooper has 360 yards receiving in four games. On Sunday, Foles became the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for seven touchdowns with no interceptions in a road game. Foles left the game with more touchdowns than incomplete passes and was the first quarterback of the season to post a perfect quarterback rating. Cooper contributed 5 catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns. As long as Foles stays in the lineup for the Eagles, Cooper should continue to contribute some big games.

When Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL, many thought Denarius Heyward-Bey would step into those targets for the Colts. Unfortunately for Heyward-Bey owners, he still can't catch. T.Y. Hilton, however, can and fantasy owners should consider him a legitimate No. 1 receiver for the remainder of the year. He made the most of his targets on Sunday night against Houston, going off for 7 catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns in a comeback win against the Texans.

Not to be outdone, the Texans Andre Johnson caught 9 balls for 229 yards and three touchdowns from second year quarterback Case Keenum on Sunday. The undrafted Keenum was starting for only the second time in his career and quickly showed he knew what to do with a beast at wide receiver. He hit Johnson for 62, 41, and 5 yard touchdowns. The Texans offense seemed to sputter once head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed and was rushed to the hospital at halftime, but Johnson was already a must start and owners can expect Keenum to keep looking for him downfield going forward.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Fantasy Football: Week 9 looks spooky

Bobbing for Starters

Posted by Karl Brenkert on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

This Halloween weekend you may be haunted by the ghosts of Larry Fitzgerald, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Justin Blackmon, Victor Cruz, and Frank Gore because they will be missing from your fantasy lineup. For the second consecutive week, six teams get a bye while fantasy owners are left bobbing for starters. Things could get ghoulish if you're forced to swap a full-sized Mr. Goodbar for some candy corn. Luckily for you, I've scouted a few houses in the neighborhood and can let you know what to expect.

At Jordan Reed's house they are giving out Fun Dip. The rookie tight end from Florida is sweet, and Redskins quarterback RGIII has figured out that he can keep going back to him. In the past two weeks, Reed has collected 17 passes for 224 yards and one score, and this week Washington faces the No. 22 ranked passing defense for San Diego. If by some Halloween miracle Reed is still on your waiver wire, snatch him up like a bowl of candy left unguarded on the porch.

They are handing out boxes of Atomic Fireballs at Marvin Jones' residence because this guy is on fire. Not only did the Bengals receiver have 122 yards and 4 touchdowns last week, he's had a touchdown in 4 of the past 6 weeks. The Bengals face a tough Miami defense on All Hallows Eve but Jones has seen his targets increase as he's gained the trust of quarterback Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati coaching staff. If the Dolphins focus on stopping Greene, Jones could go nuclear for a second week in a row.

Ryan Mathews is satisfying those who visit his house with Snickers bars. The man is running hungry, and lately he's just not himself. He's averaged 106 yards on around 21 carries in each of the last two games and scored for the first time last week. This week, the Chargers face the 27th ranked rush defense of the Washington Redskins. Mathews has been a bust and a cautionary tale so far in his career, but it seems like those who have spent the past 3 years waiting in the pumpkin patch might finally get to catch a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin.

On the other side of the street, Darren Sproles is handing out toothpaste. While it may come in handy this week, it's not exactly fun. He's scored in only one game this year, and he's averaging about 5 catches for 50 yards and 4 rushes for 17 yards per game. Last week against the Bills, he put up zero total yards. Bupkis. You may not have a choice but to start Sproles against the Jets this week, but chances are he won't be providing much more than protection against the Cavity Creeps.

Steven Jackson is back from injury in time to put a few pennies in your pillow case if you grace his front door. We should have known he had no candy in the house when he missed 6 weeks with a quad/hamstring injury. Last week against the Cardinals, Jackson rushed 11 times for 6 yards and caught 3 passes for 7 yards. This week he gets a stingy Panthers defense that ranks first in the league in rushing defense. His numbers won't add up to much for your fantasy team.

The lights are out at Vincent Jackson's house, and no one is answering the door. This week Tampa Bay travels to Seattle, and Jackson will face a monster in Richard Sherman in the haunted house that is CenturyLink Field. The twelfth man can spook the bravest of veteran players, so Buccaneers rookies Mike Glennon and Mike James are unlikely to offer much help. Putting Jackson into your lineup this week is to risk a fantasy egging.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Review

The Way of the Peaceful Fantasy Owner

Posted by Karl Brenkert on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

It has been said that trust is difficult to earn and easy to lose. For fantasy owners, being able to trust the players on your roster is essential to finding peace of mind when setting your lineup. While we understand that we can't expect historic performances like Calvin Johnson's 329 receiving yards this week (second most all time), we trust that if Calvin is in the starting lineup for the Lions, he should be in our fantasy lineups, as well. Owners who did not trust Jimmy Graham because of his questionable status heading into the game against the Bills benched this week's top scoring tight end. The lesson, of course, is to trust your studs.

But there comes a time when that trust is misplaced. You cannot trust a player based what they've done in previous seasons. A player's skills may erode, their offense scheme may change, or they may be surrounded by new teammates. We start the season expecting a certain level of play, but at some point during the year it becomes evident that outstanding performances have become the exception rather than the rule. By Week 8, we have a large enough sample size to make informed predictions about the rest of the season. Fantasy owners hoping to win championships cannot afford to continue to start poorly performing players with the hope for resurgence. It's time to realize that these former studs can no longer be trusted as automatic starts.

Tom Brady's career will be defined by his ability to make lemonade out of the lemons (Troy Brown, anyone?). Unfortunately for owners expecting a frosty beverage this year, Brady doesn't seem like the same player. Many want to blame the quality of his lemons, but this week he had both Gronk and Amendola in the lineup and only managed 116 passing yards and 1 touchdown. He's no longer a starting fantasy quarterback.

Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was once so dominant that the Giants wide receiver was officially known as The Other Steve Smith. This year, Smith could be named The Other Ted Ginn. He's accumulated only 335 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year and has yet to post more than 6 catches or 69 yards in a single game. He can't be trusted in your lineup.

In the previous seven years, Marques Colston has had only one year with less than 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. This year, despite starting in all seven games for the prolific Saints offense, he's only caught 27 passes for 342 yards and 1 touchdown. With Jimmy Graham limited by injuries, this week was his opportunity to return to form. Instead rookie Kenny Stills seized the opportunity to put up 129 yards and 2 scores. It's no longer just a slow start to the season for Colston.

Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a mere 8 months ago, but this is not the same team. Rice has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in his career but is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this year. Worse yet, in 6 games he has only 86 rushing attempts and 24 receptions. He can't make up for his poor average with volume of touches. While nobody wants to bench their first round pick, I don't see how you can afford to keep this guy in your starting lineup.

Finally, in the last three games, Jason Witten has 27, 43, and 15 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns. For the mathematically challenged that is 85 total yards over three games. While Witten did put up 121 yards and a touchdown against Denver in week 5 (when Romo threw for 500 yards), that was his only week with over 70 yards. Going forward I'd rather put my trust in Washington tight end Jordan Reed.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Preview

Don't get discouraged when you see one of these 10 scrubs in your lineup this week

Posted by Karl Brenkert on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

This is a brutal week for fantasy starters. The Texans, Colts, Chargers, Bears, Ravens, and Titans are all on bye weeks. More than likely, you'll have to rely on starters from poorly performing teams like the Buccaneers, Rams, Giants, Vikings, Jaguars, or Raiders. Don't get discouraged when you see one of these 10 scrubs in your lineup this week. Know that everyone else is struggling to find starters, too.

Mike James draws a tough assignment replacing Doug Martin in his first career start against a tough Carolina front seven on Thursday night. He should at least get plenty of touches in this skunk of a game.

Peyton Hillis has been on the Giants roster for about a week now and looks to get his second straight start this week against the Eagles. He averaged only 2 yards per carry on 18 carries but added 45 yards on 5 receptions against the Vikings in his first start. He's another guy that should get at least 10 ugly points on about 20 touches.

Mike Tolbert has the physique of a bowling ball, but he's vultured 3 touchdowns from DeAngelo Williams in the past 2 weeks. He won't give you many yards against Tampa, but he has the potential to get into the end zone.

Joseph Randle is another rookie who should get a start due to injury. The Cowboys go to Detroit on Sunday, and both teams need a win. The Lions defense is suspect, so Randle could easily surpass 100 total yards.

Kendall Hunter is the backup to Frank Gore for San Francisco, but the Forty Niners play the Jaguars in London this week. Once San Fran gets a lead, they should try to keep Gore fresh and let Hunter close out the game.

Denarius Moore has benefited from the surprising play of Terrelle Pryor this year. He'll try to score a touchdown in his third straight game this week when the Raiders face the Steelers in Pittsburgh. While the Steelers have a tough defense, Moore totaled 82 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City.

Jarrett Boykin is getting an opportunity because of injuries to Packers wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones. In the last two games, he's had receptions of 39 and 43 yards and has one of the best QBs in the league. His matchup against the terrible Vikings pass defense makes him a good bet to find the end zone.

Michael Floyd gets a home game in Arizona against a vulnerable Atlanta defense this week. Larry Fitzgerald has been hampered by a hamstring injury, and Floyd is a lock to catch at least 5 passes if the Falcons don't break Carson Palmer.

Greg Jennings will get Christian Ponder back at quarterback this week. With the Vikings likely to play from behind against the Packers who will stack the line to stop Adrian Peterson, Jennings could have value in garbage time.

Jeff Cumberland and Geno Smith have been connecting on down-field passes lately. The Jets travel to Cincinnati this week, and while you shouldn't expect much, Cumberland could be a viable starting option for Gates or Bennett owners this week.

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