Fantasy Focus Update -
Coming into the season, the San Francisco 49ers were a depleted team. Although they had been to three straight NFC Championship games, injuries and suspensions rendered them a different squad.
However, many of those roster losses were on the defensive side of the ball.
So, what is the deal with the 49ers on offense?
Arizona dropped them to 1-2 on the season, and held a once potent offensive attack to 14 points. Many of Colin Kaepernick’s game stats look good on paper, but he only scored one touchdown. He did have 54 rushing yards and perhaps helped some owners to a victory, however those 54 yards led the team.
Frank Gore, San Francisco’s bruiser of a running back and in theory the main ball carrier, had SIX carries for TEN yards. Ouch. This did not make fantasy football owners very happy.
As a unit, the 49ers had 24 carries for 84 yards. That is just not the style of play we are used to seeing from them. As Darren Woodson noted on ESPN, it seems like they are trying to play more of a run and gun style of airing it out, even though they still have the personnel to play more on the ground.
As far as receivers go, Stevie Johnson and Michael Crabtree both had decent games. But again, their numbers and Kaep’s numbers only led to 14 points. The name of game for nearly all leagues is touchdowns. The Niner’s offensive players will be a detriment to NFL fantasy owners if they can’t get in the end zone going forward.
This is not to say that San Francisco isn't loaded with weapons. Hopefully for fantasy owners, they will start clicking on a more regular basis. It's still too early to make the mistake of dropping Kaepernick, Gore or even Crabtree. However, a few more games like Week 3 could force fantasy owners to cut bait and look for greener pastures. Stay tuned for NFL player news concerning this cast of characters.
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4
1. WR John Brown, ARI:
John Brown has been a useful asset in the Cardinals offense this season, posting 3 TDs in 3 games. However, he isn't really seeing enough targets to be relied upon by fantasy owners. Brown is averaging 5 targets a game, which doesn't bode well for his fantasy value the rest of the season. He has been catching touchdowns and that's always a plus, but it's hard to believe that Drew Stanton or an injured Carson Palmer will be able to play well enough to provide him with opportunities to pad his stats during the 2014 season. Unless he builds more chemistry with his quarterback very soon, and in turn gets more looks, it doesn't seem like such a good idea to take a chance on the young talent.
2. QB Blake Bortles, JAC:
Jags quarterback Blake Bortles proved to be much more exciting at the helm than his Chad Henne. Bortles basically went out and won the starting job after the conclusion of the Jacksonville's embarrassing 44-17 Week 3 loss to the Colts. Bortles came in to start the second half after Henne was benched and made a decent impact. Though the rookie out of UCF threw 2 interceptions, he also added 2 touchdowns on 14 completions and 223 passing yards. He seems to be better fit to lead this team, and is worth a look in 2 QB fantasy leagues, and possibly even as a back-up/bye-week replacement in standard leagues.
3. WR Stevie Johnson, SF:
49ers veteran wideout Stevie Johnson secured all 9 of his targets for 103 yards as the 49ers lost to the Cardinals on Sunday. The former Buffalo Bills number one looked very solid after a very quiet start to the season, but don't set your expectations too high. Though he has shown that he can still display decent route running skills, he won't really get a chance to shine with the crowded receiving corps he's competing with for targets. He only got targets because Vernon Davis was unable to suit up. Avoid taking the bait on Johnson, as he should be left on waivers until he can prove that his recent level of productivity can remain constant.
4. RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL:
The Ravens running back situation just got that much more complicated, as Lorenzo Taliaferro led the backfield with 18 rushes for 91 yards and 1 touchdown. Bernard Pierce's injury held him out of their Week 3 contest, and Justin Forsett received less of a workload with 11 carries, leaving question marks as to who will lead the pack moving forward. Pierce's timetable is still uncertain, and Forsett doesn't seem like an every-down back at this point. Taliaferro could be their short-term solution, but he has not been targeted in the passing game, which is a cause for concern. He may keep up the workload temporarily and is worth a look as a flex option heading into Week 4.
For the most complete fantasy pickups, stay tuned to ASL all season long!
RB Fantasy News -
Rashad Jennings shredded the Texans run defense yesterday racking up 176 yards on 34 carries and scoring a touchdown. This was an unexpected performance as the G-Men routed Houston by a final count of 30-17.
Jennings breakout game seemingly came out of nowhere and he proved he can be a starting RB fantasy football option.
After the first two games of the season, the 29-year-old running back was on the cusp. He was the lone bright spot for the New York Giants offense this season, but his numbers weren’t exactly overwhelming.
Most pundits expected him to come crashing back to earth against the Texans, but instead he crashed the Texans party and gave wayward fantasy owners something to smile about.
Jennings Week 3 power running seemed to galvanize the team in every facet of the game. Week 3 is kind of early to hit the panic button, but the Giants would have been hard-pressed to work themselves out of a 0-3 hole.
Jennings must be in your fantasy lineup for this week’s Thursday night game against a surprising Redskins run defense. It won’t be a cake walk for Jennings, but he is close to cementing himself as a fantasy RB (low-end RB1).
Stay tuned to ASL RB news for more RB updates!
Fantasy Football Start -
In this Week 3 edition of the ASL Sit and Start report, we have a major difference of opinion with most national publications. It seems that there is a strong desire by fantasy experts to put Matt Forte on the bench during Week 3 against the Jets. If you own him, I suggest that you go with your gut and get number 22 into your lineup.
Matt Forte, CHI
You either spent a great deal of money in auction leagues or used your first round pick to snag Matt Forte. Giving up on him during Week 3 against the New York Jets is fantasy suicide. Sure, you picked up Donald Brown or Khiry Robinson to fill some kind of void in your life, but don’t give into the pressure.
The J-E-T-S might be great against the run, but Forte is much more than a runner. He might not surpass 100 yards, but what he lacks in rushing, he will more than make up for by catching passes. Go with the flavor of the week if you want, but I’m playing Forte.
Stevan Ridley, NE
Don’t get me wrong, any time you start a New England running back, you are taking a calculated risk. Bill Belichick will bench a running back if they look at him sideways. But Ridley will get his chances and have plenty of room to run against a woeful Raiders rush defense. If you are hurting at the running back position, let Ridley run wild for you against the Raiders.
Frank Gore, SF
DISCLAIMER - Don’t Bench Gore Unless you have a better option.
There, you have been warned.
Gore has an ugly matchup this week against a stout and capable Arizona run defense. It’s unlikely that the Cardinals can completely shut him down, but this game does not look promising. Gore had a great first half against the Bears last week, but the coaching staff turned away from him in the second half and ran most of the way with Carlos Hyde. Gore is solid RB2 for this week, but should only be used as a flex option as he is on the fantasy sit start fence.
Montee Ball, DEN
Montee Ball managed 89 total yards from scrimmage last week against a banged up Chiefs defense. He managed 60 yards on 12 carries and added three receptions for 29 yards without scoring a touchdown. Don’t expect a repeat of those numbers against an angry Seahawks defense. After getting burned last week by the Chargers, Seattle will be out for blood and Montee Ball will be in the crosshairs.
Fantasy Injury Updates -
Chiefs star tailback Jamaal Charles was officially limited in practice on Friday and coach Andy Reid doesn't sound overly optimistic that his star tailback will play. Charles is dealing with a high ankle sprain and fantasy owners are crossing their fingers that he will be able to suit up. Stay tuned for NFL injury updates with Fantasy Focus for developing injury updates news.
The 27-year-old former Texas standout was forced to exit early in their Week 2 contest at Denver, and his status has been up in the air ever since. Initially, the Chiefs were planning to be without Jamaal for at least a short period of time, but now that might not be the case.
After Friday's practice, it's starting to look like a game-time decision and hopefully he can aid in a bounce back game after the loss to Peyton Manning's Broncos a week ago.
Charles will likely suit up, but do not expect too much production from him. If he manages to play, he will probably have his snaps and touches split with backup Knile Davis. Their franchise RB is essentially Kansas City's entire offense, as he posted nearly 2,000 total yards and 19 TDs a season ago. He is much too valuable to be put at risk if his body isn't ready to deal with the wear and tear of an NFL game.
Consider Charles questionable going into Week 3, but expect him to suit up and provide a minimal contribution. He should not be needed too much as they take on a less-than-stellar Miami Dolphins team. Don't depend on Charles for too much, but he can used as a risky flex option in standard leagues.
RB Fantasy News -
With fantasy RB stud Doug Martin sitting out with a hamstring issue, Bobby Rainey got his shot against the division rival Atlanta Falcons.
Fantasy owners scrambled to get Rainey into their lineups as a RB fantasy football option and he put on a pitiful performance fumbling the rock away not once, but twice as the Falcons humiliated the Bucs 56-14 in a game that was out of hand by the end of the first quarter.
It wasn't a total bust for fantasy owners, especially in PPR Leagues. During GARBAGE TIME, Rainey managed almost the entire bulk of his 105 yards from scrimmage catching seven passes for 64 yards and rushing for 41 yards on eleven carries. But as fantasy owners know, fumbles some how always find a way to hurt fantasy owners.
Tampa coach Lovie Smith actually benched Rainey after his first fumble, but had to put him back in because he really had no other options.
Expect Doug Martin to regain his starting role when he returns to the team for their Week 4 road matchup against the Steelers.
Be sure to keep reading ASL RB news for updates throughout the season!
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups
Week 2 is in the books and I know what you were thinking after you read my last “Fire Sale.” You thought, “He’s being hard on Toby Gerhart. It’s not as if things can get any worse than they did in Week 1. The worst must be behind us.” Can’t get any worse, huh? How does seven carries for 8 yards feel?
I’ll be honest, I was so mad on Sunday I was trying to change rules in my leagues so I could cut Gerhart during the game. I would complain about what’s going on in Jacksonville right now in regards to the Jaguars still passing Chad Henne off as an NFL quarterback, but who would listen? Seriously, there are only like 300 Jaguars fans in existence and the league can’t wait to move the team. Henne? Hey, call up Brian Griese and see if he’s still interested in playing in the NFL, too. How long do you want to watch Henne fail? It’s painful.
To be fair to Henne and Gerhart, though, while one shouldn’t be starting and the other was selected too high in fantasy drafts, at least they’re trying. It’s only Week 2 and Jacksonville’s offensive line has already quit. If you think the Jaguars were giving effort against Washington on Sunday, you probably need to look up the definition of the word “effort.”
Now on with The Fire Sale …
Niles Paul, TE, Washington – Paul is a former college receiver and on Sunday he looked like an NFL receiver playing tight end when he ripped the Jacksonville defense. Filling in for Jordan Reed, Paul caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets.
I’m all in on Paul. If you read this column you know I use two things to make fantasy predictions: my eyes and my gut. It doesn’t always pan out but I’m not really the cautious type. When I see a player I think looks like he has “it,” I put all my chips in the pot. I think Paul has “it.” Advanced Sports Logic's The Machine is also high on Paul as one of the top free agents.
Some people are going to warn that Paul’s production will decline once Reed returns. I have two arguments against that theory. First, Reed will probably stay healthy for about five minutes. Second, coach Jay Gruden ran a lot of two-tight end sets when he was the offensive coordinator with Cincinnati, so I expect both Reed and Paul to be on the field at the same time.
I recommend grabbing Paul this week as one of the better fantasy pickups. My eyes and gut tell me he’s the real deal.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland – I remember when I saw Crowell as a freshman running back at Georgia. I thought he was going to be Todd Gurley; meaning the best back in the country. Then Crowell decided to flush his college career down the toilet and ended up going undrafted.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Houston’s Alfred Blue and how he was a highly touted recruit but injuries derailed him in college. Crowell was a five-star recruit, so the talent is obviously there. I also saw Terrance West play some at Towson, and, while I like him, I always thought he danced a bit much when a hole didn’t open up right away. West could get away with that at Towson but in the NFL it’s not going to fly. I see West being a good, not great, NFL runner.
The Browns have two good young backs but if Ben Tate can’t stay healthy, I could see Crowell emerging as the better fantasy option over time. Crowell has rushed for 86 yards and two scores on just 16 carries this season. He’s a guy to watch both this year and beyond.
Donald Brown, RB, San Diego – I remember once some fantasy “expert” predicted Brown would win the Rookie of the Year award after he was drafted by Indianapolis. What a boob.
Brown never reached the level some boob predicted he would, but he’s still a solid back who will put up good fantasy numbers over the next 4-6 weeks filling in for Ryan Mathews . Danny Woodhead's role won’t change much. He’s still going to be the same player with or without Mathews. You’ll see Brown get around 15-22 carries, depending on the flow of the game.
On another note, I love this Chargers team. I still don’t know how they lost the opener to Arizona. Then I told my cousin to bet the Chargers’ money line against Seattle but instead he put $500 on Seattle -5.5. He’s a boob, too. I think San Diego is a legitimate Super Bowl contender and will give the Denver Broncos everything they can handle in the AFC West. This is coming from the guy who last year said San Diego would win four games and it was time to blow the team up.
Brown should be one of your top waiver wire priorities this week. He’ll be a viable RB2/flex option until Mathews returns.
RB Fantasy Football -
The future of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota is very much up for debate right now. This is uncharted territory for the league and it’s possible that Peterson is done for the season. But what we know for sure, is that he is to to have no more contact with the Vikings until his legal issues are settled.
In RB news, Peterson’s first appearance in court is scheduled for October 8th and his lawyers will press the court system for a quick resolution. However, any continuance could make the process drag on much longer.
Even if everything is resolved satisfactorily, the public relations nightmare for the team and NFL will resume in full force once the trial starts.
Setting the human drama aside, Adrian Peterson fantasy owners are wondering if their first round fantasy RB draft pick is now a complete bust.
With the facts we have in front of us right now, we know that Peterson CAN NOT return until at least Week 6. So the BEST case scenario for fantasy owners is that Peterson hops out of court and is back with the team for its October 12th contest against the Lions.
Week 6 - October 12th hosting Lions
Week 7 - October 19th at Bills
Week 8 - October 26th at Buccaneers
But like we said, that’s the best case scenario. There’s no telling what actions (if any) the league or team will take in the meantime. There could be anything from time served to a year-long ban.
The Vikings want Peterson back, but they have already shown that they will bend to public pressure. Peterson is nothing but a fantasy liability at this point. Any fantasy production that A-P produces this year should be welcomed as an unexpected bonus.
Stay tuned to ASL's RB fantasy news for the most up to date info!
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups-
It's time for fantasy managers to step up to the plate and navigate the treacherous waters of the NFL's injury pool. Marquee players are dropping like flies and the waiver wire is your only life line. With big names like Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, Vernon Davis and Mark Ingram going down, replacements are necessary for the time being. Here are some of the nuggets that could turn into fantasy gold.
1. Knile Davis, KC:
Davis racked up 105 total yards and 2 rushing touchdowns as he took over for the fallen Jamaal Charles. Charles is easily a top 3 fantasy running back when healthy, and his high-ankle sprain could keep him sidelined for a couple weeks. Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke of keeping a relatively consistent game plan with Davis at the forefront and he expects him to succeed in the system. Davis has shown his ability to be a difference maker and he will be relied upon to produce heavily, especially with Kansas City's lackluster passing game. Davis can be considered a high RB2 or low-end RB1 this weekend when the Chiefs travel to Miami.
2. Antonio Gates, SD:
Just when you think he's on his way out, he regains fantasy relevance with yet another breakout performance. Antonio Gates torched the Seahawks defense for 96 yards and 3 touchdowns, pulling down all 7 of his targets. Gates was listed as questionable for almost the entire week leading up to Sunday's contest, but there was nothing questionable about his connection with QB Philip Rivers. He almost singlehandedly took down the Super Bowl champs, as he was the only one to find the end zone. Expect Gates to continue his high level of production as long as he can stay healthy, making him a top 10 TE with his experience and the trust Rivers has in him.
3. Jeremy Hill, CIN:
Hill's touches improved significantly between the first two contests, but nothing should be take bout of proportion here. He got 17 touches this time as opposed to only 4 in week 1, but Bernard was still favored with 32 total touches. Hill's role should continue to expand as the Bengals exploit defenses with their "thunder and lightning" combination backfield. The rookie out of LSU put up a very solid performance, racking up 74 yards and a TD on 15 rushes, posting an average of 4.9 yards per carry. Hold onto Hill as a low-end RB2 with major upside, as his goal line presence should be something to look forward to.
4. Donald Brown, SD:
With starting running back Ryan Mathews out of commission for at least 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain, it is to be expected that Donald Brown will pick up most of if not all of his workload. Brown has not has a breakout performance in his first two weeks, but he has the chance to do so as San Diego's starter with Mathews out. Brown is coming off his best season yet, rushing for 5.3 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns for the Indianapolis Colts. As he gets more comfortable in the Chargers offense, it is not too farfetched to see him as a middle-of-the-pack RB2. One of the most recommended fantasy pickups this week.
NFL Injury Updates -
It happens every NFL season. Injuries decimate teams, and, in turn, trash closely constructed fantasy lineups.
Unfortunately for many high profile players, the injury bug has hit early on.
Let’s take a look at some fantasy injury updates for many of the devastating blows inflicted during only Week 2 and how you should handle them going forward.
After a sensational rookie season that ended with Griffin receiving the top prize as Rookie of the Year over other heralded first year players such as Andrew Luck, the Washington quarterback has suffered a number of setbacks.
Some have been the way he played, some have been the way the coaching staff has used him. However, his dislocated ankle that he sustained against Jacksonville may be the worst of the lot going forward.
First of all, expect RGIII to miss a significant amount of time. The Redskins won’t speculate on how much time he’ll be out going forward, but the whole season is a possibility.
Furthermore, Kirk Cousins reminded everyone how capable he is as a NFL starter. Should he play lights out while Griffin is sidelined, he may cause controversy on who in fact is the best man for the job in Washington.
If RGIII is your penciled in starter, you should drop him now. He will do no good taking up a bench spot for the rest of the season.
The fact that the Redskins blasted the Jaguars on Sunday is most likely a petty consolation due to what they sacrificed to get there. Not only is RGIII done for a while, but his prized off-season target in DeSean Jackson also went down.
Jackson was diagnosed with a shoulder injury, and as per ESPN, it is an AC Joint which will put him out day-to-day. This means that he will most likely play next week.
And, as mentioned before with Kirk Cousins, those with Jackson on their fantasy rosters should still hold him in high regard. Cousins is more than capable with RGIII out, and, more importantly, will be looking to Jackson as his main target in the coming weeks.
Jackson may have provided you with a subpar week 2 effort, but he will be valuable on your roster regardless.
The tale of Knowshon Moreno and quality NFL running backs can be told in simple terms: even though he had the best season of his career in 2013, the Denver Broncos freely let him walk last offseason and his highest bidder was the Dolphins at a 1 year, $3 million dollar clip. The bottom line is that if you need a running back that isn’t in the upper tier, whether it’s real football or fantasy, there are plenty to choose from.
Moreno had a spectacular week 1 against New England, making some in Denver lament his exit. However, just one week later, those who had Moreno as a viable RB option no longer can think that way.
According to multiple reports, Moreno dislocated his elbow in the first quarter against the Bills on Sunday and will be sidelined for a significant amount of time. The Dolphins won’t disclose a timetable yet, but history says this injury won’t produce a quick recovery.
Lamar Miller will be asked to pick up the slack in his absence, and if you had Moreno and Miller is on waivers, you should certainly look into him. However, Moreno himself is not valuable enough to hold onto in the hopes he’ll return any time soon. Drop him and look elsewhere to have bench depth on your roster.
Jamaal Charles, one of the main targets in fantasy drafts this entire summer, left early in the Chiefs game against the Broncos with an ankle injury. His return was soon ruled out.
Charles was confirmed to suffer an ankle sprain, and although he didn’t return, he is still Jamaal Charles. We don’t know how long he’ll be out, but even without official word from Kansas City, it would be foolish to abandon him right now.
Unlike Knowshon Moreno, Charles is an elite NFL running back. In turn, he is also an elite fantasy player across nearly all league formats. The fact that he may miss a few games is not enough to let him escape to another player in your league.
Unless the Chiefs come out with definitive news that Charles will miss most of the season, he is more than worth holding onto until he returns to the field.
Let’s face it. Andy Dalton owes AJ Green a portion of every game check he receives as part of the new, lucrative deal he signed in the off-season. Green makes Dalton look good just by showing up.
So, it was concerning to both Bengals fans and Green owners when he went down with a toe injury during Sunday’s game against the Falcons. A simple toe injury may seem benign, but as many fantasy and NFL veterans will tell you, it can be an ominous sign of things to come. Turf toe is like the itch you can never, ever scratch. And it can be something that continuously sidelines a star player.
Luckily, as reported by Bengals.com, it appears as though it’s just a strain and the Green will aim to play next week. If that’s the case, whether he’s fully healthy or not, you must start him. He’s one of the most dynamic playmakers, and fantasy stat sheet stuffers, in the league. Hopefully this was just a temporary scare.
Stay tuned this season for injury updates with Fantasy Focus!