RB Fantasy News -
Before the season began and everyone prepared for their league drafts, there were many issues up for debate. Should you reach for an elite QB? How safe a pick is Gronk at TE? How long can you wait to take a WR?
Filling a roster can be tough; a delicate balance of star power and depth. There were many issues to sort out for people, but those with the first two picks in most leagues felt good about how their squads would begin. It would be some combination of Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. Perhaps Jamaal Charles would sneak into the top 2 across some drafts, but no one could be faulted for grabbing AP or Shady.
Well, through the first month, owners of both RB's are stuck in no man's land.
For McCoy in particular, there are concerning trends, especially from the last two weeks, that may not resolve themselves quickly. Yesterday's display against San Francisco was a disaster for Shady and the Eagles' offense in general.
Philadelphia failed to put any points on the board as a direct result of their offense, relying on special teams and defense to remain in the game. Furthermore, fantasy RB McCoy had 17 yards on 10 carries after only managing 22 yards on 19 carries last week. He's also put up a big doughnut in the receiving game each of the the last two weeks. Not quite the RB fantasy football stud he has been in the past.
This limited, but startling, pattern has a chance to extend out for a while. Why? First of all, the Eagles offensive line is beat up. Although Lane Johnson is scheduled to return from suspension, the Eagles line have been playing without 3/5 of their starting line.
The next two weeks feature St. Louis and the New York Giants as opponents for the Eagles. The Rams have a fierce defensive line, who will look to destroy the aforementioned O-line and stop any momentum for McCoy. The next week against the Giants presents Philadelphia with a division opponent that seems to have found answers on both sides of the ball. The bye week following that game may be just what the doctor ordered for health and morale purposes in Philadelphia.
It must be mentioned that the Eagles are still 3-1, and had a chance to win the game yesterday despite their offensive struggles. And although Shady has had two rough weeks in a row, he has a great chance to rebound against the Rams, even with their stout D. Despite their strong pedigree, the Rams have allowed over 150 rushing yards per game so far this season. It's a small sample size, but perhaps Shady just needs to break one big run to get his confidence back.
If you own McCoy, you are no doubt frustrated. This might be the week to dangle him out to others in your league to see what you could potentially get for him. If someone offers you a great deal, i.e. a top-tier RB and another solid flex player, you should consider it. However, remember that there's a chance Shady regains his form and picks up where he left off last year.
Chances are you have a solid squad around McCoy, still winning matchups and hoping that this is just a blip on the radar. In this vein, you and Chip Kelly are on the same page.
Stay tuned to ASL's RB news for the most comprehensive RB updates!
QB Fantasy Football News -
For the last 7 or 8 years, drafting a top Saints players meant money in the bank for fantasy owners. Whether it was stud fantasy QB Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles or some other Saints player, they were likely a vital cog in the key to your fantasy success.
I’m not saying that this trend has come to an end in 2014, but it’s certainly off to a shaky start. Continuing a disturbing trend from the second half of last season, the Saints are a “BAD” team any time they leave the city of New Orleans.
They are basically the best home team in football and one of the worst teams on the road. They haven’t won on the road since Week 12 of last season and have now dropped six straight away games.
The key question for fantasy fans is NOT “Who are the Saints playing this week?" It should be, “Where are the Saints playing this week?"
In QB fantasy news, Brees was supposed to be a top two quarterback this season, but he's barely hanging on to the #7 spot just a shade above Joe Flacco.
Mark Ingram, the team’s leading rusher, ranks 19th in RB fantasy points and hasn't played a snap since Week 2.
The Saints leading receiver is Brandin Cooks. He is well outside of the top 30 in WR fantasy points and Colston just barely squeaks into the top 50.
Credit to Jimmy Graham, he’s at least in the top 3 for fantasy points in the tight end category and is the only Saints player who’s providing any type of fantasy punch for your team.
Stay tuned to Fantasy Focus for more QB news.
Best Fantasy Football Keepers -
Desperate times call for desperate measures. When it cam time to unearth my fantasy sleeper picks, I started the season off looking to 3-peat in an experts league with a backfield of Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. Well, we're all aware of Peterson's off-field issues (this seems to be an increasing trend in the NFL) and with him unlikely to play again in 2014, I was content to play one RB as I rolled out 4 WRs and awaited the late-season return of Josh Gordon. That was until Charles came down with an ankle injury and left me having to play either Andre Ellington or Matt Asiata at RB in Week 3.
While I probably could have been very competitive starting Andre Ellington along with Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and one of Golden Tate/Brandin Cooks/Allen Hurns/John Brown, I was not feeling as good as I would have liked, so it was time to make a deal.
So I sent out this offer...
I GIVE UP...
After thinking about the deal for over a day, the other owner finally decided to decline. But he did mention that he'd do the deal for Matt Forte. Whew! What to do? What to do? Obviously, I'm not as high on Forte as I am on McCoy, but acquiring Forte would still be an upgrade to my team. So without hesitation I turned to Advanced Sports Logic's 'The Machine.'
I really wanted to add an elite RB to my team but I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the same deal for Forte that I would have done for McCoy. So, I went to The Machine to see what the numbers had to say while taking out any preconceived feelings that I had for Forte and McCoy. Well as it turns out, according to The Machine, adding Forte to my roster increased my chances of winning while adding McCoy would have lowered my chances of winning. So with that confirmation, I made the same offer for Forte and the deal was done.
I was on the fence about doing this deal and would have been apprehensive if I did the deal or if I didn't do the deal. But The Machine alleviated my concerns about the deal allowing me to make the offer while feeling good about it.
Did I give up too much for Forte? Possibly. But I do have 3 1st-round picks and 2 2nd-round picks in 2015, so there will be plenty of opportunity to restock the cupboard while still giving it my best at a 3-peat in 2014.
ROSTER STASH OF THE WEEK
Marion Grice, RB, ARI - The Jalen Parmele era lasted one week in the desert as the Cardinals released Parmele after giving him one carry in Week 3. They replaced him on the depth chart with rookie Marion Grice who they signed off the Chargers' practice squad. While Grice may be third on the depth chart, he would certainly leapfrog Stepfan Taylor for the larger portion of a committee backfield should Ellington miss any time. This is a deep-deep stash but one that I needed to mention as a better deep option for NFL fantasy sleepers.
Have a great weekend and best of luck in Week 4.
Jim Bukowski is Content Manager/Senior Editor/Writer for FantasySharks.com and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at bukowski at fantasysharks.com and you can also follow him on Twitter at @fantasyshark
NFL Injury Updates -
The NFL Network is relatively sure that Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall will play today after little or no practice at all this week. Stay tuned for fantasy injury updates with Fantasy Focus.
Fantasy owners know that even if they are gimped up, they are MUST-STARTS for Week 4 as long as they're in the lineup.
Certainly there’s no way to bench Johnson against a patchwork Jets secondary, no matter how sore his ankle is. It’s possible that he might be more of a decoy, but you have to take your chances with the star receiver.
It’s the same thing with Marshall who missed practice all week long with an injured ankle. Alshon Jeffery might see the majority of work against a weak Packers pass defense, but Marshall is locked in as a WR1. We will keep you up-to-date with breaking injury updates.
WR Fantasy Football News
With Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater in WR news out for 4-5 weeks with a broken foot, James Jones doesn't have too much competition when it comes to pass catching for the Raiders.
That's why last week's loss to the Patriot's was a bit of a head scratcher. Jones should have clearly led the team in targets, but rookie quarterback Derek Carr was busy looking elsewhere for Andre Holmes and Marcel Reece.
It only makes sense that Raiders coaching staff spent the week helping the young quarterback understand who his best receiver on the field is when Oakland matches up with Miami across the pond in the U.K.
Carr will be under fire every time he takes a snap with Miami's formidable front four. He will need to get he ball out quickly and must be looking Jones' way for the Raiders to have any change for a win.
It's hard to trust anyone who plays for Raiders considering they have the worst offense in the league. They average just a shade above 12 points per game and have the fewest yards per game scratching out a measly 254 yards per contest.
But Jones is the only viable fantasy WR and already has 189 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Look for a strong game for him while the Raiders try desperately to get their first win of the season.
For the best WR fantasy news, keep up with ASL!
NFL Injury Updates
Texans running back Arian Foster has been declared a game-time decision by Head Coach Bill O'Brien, putting fantasy owners in a tough spot for a second straight week. After missing last week's contest due to a tweaked hamstring, we may or may not be heading towards another start for rookie tailback Alfred Blue.
Foster's status is still uncertain, and even if he is able to suit up Sunday, it should be expected that his touches will be limited. The Texans are currently first in the AFC South, sporting a 2-1 record, and risking the long-term health of their franchise RB for a contest with the less-than-impressive Buffalo Bills is simply not worth it.
In Arian Foster's 2 games played thus far, he has run for a combined 241 yards and a TD on 55 carries, showing what he can do when he's healthy. But that's just it. His health is the only obstacle holding him back from a stellar season. It's tough to see such a talented HB limited by the condition of his body, but that's the unfortunate reality.
Foster's injury-ridden career (he has spent a large portion of his career on the fantasy injury updates list) is constantly catching up with him, and it seems like there's a different issue every couple weeks. At this point, if Alfred Blue is still available, he should be picked up in all standard leagues as a handcuff option that will most definitely come in handy.
Don't count on Arian Foster for fantasy relevance this week, as there is no guarantee that he will ever take the field.
He could see limited touches, and possibly not even make it onto the field. Stay tuned for injury updates with Fantasy Focus.
Fantasy Sit Start
Lamar Miller has a firm grasp on the starting tailback job in Miami now that Knowshon Moreno is out for a few more weeks and he certainly helped himself for the long term with a great Week 3 performance. Miller ran for 108 yards on just 15 carries and caught four balls for 24 yards. If he continues to get 20 touches a game Miller will be a borderline RB2 depending on the matchup. He’s basically a must start in Week 4 against Oakland’s terrible defense and has some nice opponents coming up on the schedule such as Green Bay and Jacksonville. Ride the Miller train for as long as you can seeing that running backs have been pretty scarce thus far this season.
Knile Davis started in place of the injured Jamaal Charles as most people assumed would happen and he didn’t disappoint. Getting a whooping 32 carries, Davis piled up 132 yards and a touchdown. Though he didn’t catch any passes and lost a fumble late in the second half, it was still a solid showing for fantasy owners who took a chance on him. Charles is expected to practice this week and even though that doesn’t mean he is necessarily playing this week, the Chiefs play Monday night which really complicates things. It’s hard to recommend benching one of the hottest running backs in the league right now, but that may be the play with Davis for Week 4, unless you own both him and Charles.
Jeremy Kerley , WR New York Jets
Kerley saw an increase in targets last week once Eric Decker left early with hamstring issues and was every bit capable of handling the load. He finished the game with seven receptions for 81 yards and a score. Normally the Jets are a ground and pound type of offense, but they fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and had to throw a lot more. This isn’t always the case, but Week 4 may bring the same type of opportunity since an offensive shootout could occur with Detroit coming to town. If Decker misses this game then expect Kerley to put up even bigger numbers than he did Monday night as the Jets really don’t have many viable receiving options.
Lorenzo Taliaferro , RB Baltimore Ravens
The rookie is quickly working his way to the top of the ranks in Baltimore. Surprisingly enough, even after the Ray Rice release, the Ravens still have a crowded backfield. But, after last week’s showing, Taliaferro may have earned himself the start in Week 4 and at the very least an increased workload. Starting back Bernard Pierce was a late scratch so Justin Forsett and Taliaferro received the carries and though the Ravens like Forsett as their receiving back, Taliaferro was the one who got most of the carries. He ran the ball 18 times for 91 yards and a touchdown. If Pierce isn’t able to go in Week 4 then the rookie out of Coastal Carolina is a very intriguing FLEX option.
Lock of the Week Fantasy Football Start
Golden Tate , WR Detroit Lions
Tate hasn’t been spectacular this season, but he’s been solid and is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do as the number two receiver in Detroit. He watches Calvin Johnson get his and then he gets whatever is left. Tate is averaging just over five catches and just under 70 receiving yards per game, but hasn’t found the end zone yet. This should change in Week 4 as he gets a very good matchup against a struggling Jets pass defense. Yes the Jets run defense is tops in the league, but every team so far this season has had much success through the air against them. Look for Rex Ryan to implement a similar defensive game plan to last week against Chicago which was to take out stud receiver Brandon Marshall and make the rest of the team beat you. It will be hard to simply take out Megatron, but if they continue to double him then the field will certainly open up for Tate to have a big day, just as Alshon Jeffery did Monday night.
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!