NFL Injury Updates -
Calvin Johnson is very doubtful for Week 7 and has been a headache for fantasy owners, as he has been in our injury updates list constantly. Kelvin Benjamin is putting together an early season Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign and is also questionable for Week 7. Fantasy owners of both players need to start looking elsewhere to get through a tough Week 7 given the fact that Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are on a bye.
Calvin Johnson has not practiced once this week and has pretty much already been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Saints. Johnson missed his first game of the year last week against Minnesota, and Head Coach Jim Caldwell hasn't ruled out the possibility of sitting Johnson until after the Lions bye week in Week 9. Johnson has stated to the media that he will return when he feels like he can contribute at a high level.
While Fantasy owners selfishly want Johnson back in their lineup, it's better in the long-run to have Johnson sit out a few weeks and get back to producing Megatron numbers. With Detroit sitting at 4-2 and first place in the NFC East, they have the luxury of not being in a must-win scenario at home this week against a Saints team that struggles on the road. Megatron owners need to start looking for a replacement.
Kelvin Benjamin has yet to practice this week after suffering a concussion during Week 6 against the Bengals. Benjamin is considered questionable heading into Week 7 and Fantasy owners won't get much more information on Benjamin until Friday. Fantasy owners need to prepare for the worst if Benjamin is not cleared to play by Sunday. Stay tuned to our fantasy injury updates to follow Kelvin's status.
Owners looking for temporary replacements for Johnson and Benjamin need to consider grabbing Andre Holmes or Odell Beckham Jr.
Raiders wideout Andre Holmes has established himself as Derek Carr's go-to receiver in Oakland. At 6'4" with break-away speed, Holmes has a lot of upside on a team that will be trailing a lot this season and will be getting a lot of garbage-time fantasy points this year.
With Victor Cruz out for the season, Odell Beckham Jr. has an opportunity to produce strong numbers on another team that might be trailing most of the year. Beckham has a favorable schedule down the stretch and will only get better as he gains experience during his rookie campaign.
IDP Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups-
LB K.J. Wright, Seattle (#37 DL for Week-7 on Fantasy Pros)
Seattle OLB K.J. Wright is averaging 7.8 tackles per game and 0.4 PDs this season...he was already a solid IDP LB. However, Seattle star LB Bobby Wagner is slated to miss at least a week, if not a few more with turf toe.
K.J. Wright is slated to move into the ‘4-3’ Middle Linebacker spot, which should push him toward being a potential double-digit tackle producer while Wagner is out (Wagner is averaging 10.0 tackles per game this season). Definitely one of the best fantasy pickups for the short-term.
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Tennessee (Not In current Top-50 DB rank for Week-7 on Fantasy Pros)
The second-year CB, 3rd-round pick out of UConn is back from concussion, and played 98% of the defensive snaps for the Titans against the Jaguars during Week-6. Against Jacksonville, Blidi Wreh-Wilson had 11 tackles (10 solo), 2 PDs, and 1 INT. He is the CB that gets picked on by Titans' opposing QBs, which is a good thing for IDP when he has Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick ahead.
You might be able to get a nice two-week run out of him before the Titans Week-9 BYE. Wreh-Wilson is a sizeable CB at 6’0.5”, 195 pounds, possession 4.45+ speed and nice agility (as measured at the 2013 NFL Combine). He has done some work as a Free Safety, so he is a decent hitter (he had 11 tackles this week). He’s the Titans full starter, especially with CB Coty Sensabaugh out with a banged up knee.
DT Kawann Short, Carolina (Not in current Top-50 DL rank for Week-7 on Fantasy Pros)
Kawann Short was one of our computer scouting model's highest rated DT prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft. He was drafted in the 2nd-round by Carolina to pair with Star Lotulelei (Carolina 1st-round DT that year). Lotulelei was more coveted, but we liked Short's NFL/IDP outlook better--Shorts was a higher producer in college, and showed as good/better athletically compared to Lotulelei.
Short averaged 16.3 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at Purdue, and also posted 6.8 sacks per season during that two-year span. He was a top-10 producer in the Big-Ten for both sacks and TFLs in his Sophomore, Junior, and Senior seasons.
In 2014, Lotulelei has averaged 2.0 tackles per game, with a high of 3.0 tackles in a game this season to date. Short is averaging 3.0 tackles per game this season, and has made 5.0 tackles in a game, in two out of his last three games. He's also registered a sack, forced a fumble, and added two PDs as well this season. Short is starting to make a trend move up. He's one to keep an eye on to see if a minor breakout is on the verge.
-- R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software "The Machine.”
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups-
1. TE Jordan Reed, WAS:
Redskins tight end Jordan Reed should not be on anybody's waiver wire, but if he is, get him now. After a 4 week absence due to injury, Reed quickly made his presence known in Washington's Week 6 loss to the Cardinals. He was only on the field for 35 snaps, and still managed to receive a team high 11 targets, turning them into 8 catches for 92 yards in his return.
His size and athleticism makes him a tough guard for any defense. Reed's snap count should continue to rise as he gets closer to 100% healthy. With more playing time, his production will rise as well. Reed should be added in all formats, as he can be a top 5 tight end going forward.
2) WR Andre Holmes, OAK:
Andre Holmes has established himself as the number one option in Oakland's passing game, showing he can get the job done regardless of who his quarterback is. Last week with Matt McGloin at QB, he was able to turn 12 targets into 5 catches for 74 yards and a TD. During Week 6 with he saw 8 targets this week from Derek Carr, coming down with 4 catches for 121 yards and 2 TDs.
It's difficult to value anyone from the Raiders too highly as a consistent fantasy option, but Andre Holmes holds significant value as a wide receiver with major importance within their offense, and has major upside on a weekly basis. Holmes should be added and into starting lineups as a WR3 or a low WR2 with potential.
3) RB Branden Bolden, NE:
Branden Bolden is worth a look in standard leagues now that Stevan Ridley has gone down with an ACL/MCL injury, and will most likely be out for the season. Bolden's fantasy potential is really a bit of a question mark, because he has not been given enough carries to get himself in a solid and comfortable place yet.
Bolden will definitely see his touches increase drastically in Ridley's absence, and will have to be a solid contributor to New England's offense to maintain a balanced offensive attack. This recommendation may be a little optimistic, but Bolden will be a middle-of-the-pack flex option, with low RB2 potential. He is worth a shot out of the fantasy pickups available.
4) QB Carson Palmer, ARI:
After returning from what looked like a never-ending nerve injury, Carson Palmer turned in a solid performance as the Cards were able to take down the Redskins in Arizona. Palmer threw for 250 yards and 2 scores without committing any turnovers. While the Cardinals stated that Palmer's arm was only at 80 percent, it was more than enough to punch holes through the woeful Redskins pass defense.
With studly receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, and a solid complimentary rushing attack led by Andre Ellington, Palmer is in a position to succeed with this versatile Arizona offense. Carson Palmer can definitely be added and used as a strong QB2 in upcoming contests with subpar pass defenses, including the Raiders, Eagles and Cowboys.
When looking for fantasy sleeper picks, sometimes you do the best you can in fantasy football and you still fall short. Last season in my smaller experts' league (by smaller I mean 24-man rosters) I led the league in scoring during the regular season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. So, not being happy with that outcome, I set out to make some changes for the 2014 season.
The first big deal I made was back in May when it was announced the Josh Gordon had failed another drug test. I probably could have gotten him for less, but my exuberance got the best of me and I dealt Calvin Johnson (a member of the list of best fantasy football keepers) for Gordon and pick 1.11. At the time, I took some heat for that deal, but I'm very please the way things have turned out.
I attempted to deal Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball throughout the offseason but nobody was willing to part with a 1st round pick (I would have asked for more, but their 1st rounder would have been a must) so I just held on and wound up dealing both prior to the start of Week 5 last week.
I dealt Eddie Lacy last Thursday and received Travis Kelce and a 1st round pick in return. Lacy proceeded to go out and put up some monster numbers that night. I'm not totally sure that he'll be able to remain healthy given his violent style of running and so far this season in 5 games he's produced against the weaker teams and been stymied by the tougher teams. Bottom line, I wasn't happy with Lacy and decided to move on.
As was the same with Montee Ball, whom I dealt Sunday morning. The negotiation was a lot harder and I also gave up Andre Williams (one of the better NFL fantasy sleepers) in exhcange for Isaiah Crowell and a 1st round draft pick. I now have both Terrance West and Crowell, so I should be set once Ben Tate moves on which should be no later than after the 2015 season. I didn't want to give up Williams, but given that I think Crowell has a higher upside than Williams and that I couldn't have even gotten a 1st rounder for Ball back before the rookie draft, I'm pleased.
Obviously, I didn't consult The Machine on either of these deals as these were deals done from emotion and gut and definitely lowered my team's chance of winning. But I'm not looking to play it safe, I'm swinging for the fences. As I did in the Megatron-for-Gordon deal back in May, and I think that's now looking like a pretty good deal for me.
Speaking of The Machine, if you haven't had your team rated, now's the time to do it while they're still offering that service for FREE! Just click here for your free team analysis. Find out what fantasy players are trending in the NFL.
Now, in the experts' league in which I'm attempting to 3-peat I don't think that my team could be playing much better as I lead the league in scoring. But, if the post-season were to start today I'd be on the outside looking in as I currently have a record of 2-3. Last week's loss was due to a mistake on my part. I realized 5 minutes before the Thursday night game (our fist-come, first-serve waiver wire closes with the start of the Thursday night game) that Vontaze Burfict was not going to play in Week 5 so I picked up LB Gerald Hodges of the Vikings and was about to put him into my lineup when my daughter asked if I could help her with her math homework. So, in my attempt to not put fantasy football over my child's education, I answered her question and then turned back to change my lineup....but it was too late. The Vikings/Packers game had already started and Hodges' 7.5 points would be left on my bench and I'd have to take the a zero from Burfict. As it turned out, I would lose by 5 points, 212 to 207. Just another reason to not like math.
Depending on your team needs and roster size, here this weeks...
Stashes of the Week
Brian Tyms, WR, New England - Was rated the top WR in the preseason by PFF and was kept around during his 4-game suspension and was added to the roster at the expense of Kenbrell Thompkins. Get him before he plays a game as he could blowup at any time and be next week's Tim Wright.
Trey Watts, RB, STL - He ran a slow 40-yard dash, 4.78. He's third on the depth chart behind Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham. But Watts has great bloodlines as his father, J.C., was a starting QB at Oklahoma. With Zac Stacy yet to practice this week, and a Monday night date with the 49ers, Watts has a good chance to get a handful of touches and I'd rather roster him now than do battle on the waiver wire next week. And, if he doesn't see the field or disappoints, I'm free to cut him loose for someone new next week.
Fantasy Sit Start -
What once looked like a potential division war, pitting an always strong 49ers squad against a hungry and up-and-coming Rams team, now seems less appetizing. Although the 49ers have regained their form to an extent, the Rams are sputtering. With major injuries on both sides of the ball and poor play, this team now looks like a potential candidate for a top 5 pick in the draft.
However, if you have fantasy players on either team, you don’t care whether this is supposed to be a good game or not. You just care about your players winning you the matchup this week.
But what if there are options?
Take a look at our Sit/Start report for Monday night’s San Francisco vs. St. Louis game for guidance.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
Three weeks ago after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, there was turmoil in the 49ers locker room. Much blame passed between players and coaches, including Gore, who was none too happy about his lack of touches. His stat line that Sunday read 6 carries for 10 yards.
Well, it appears someone listened to Gore after the Cardinals game. He’s averaged 113 yards per game the last two weeks, and while he hasn’t found the endzone, the 49ers getting back to their running game roots is paying dividends for everyone.
Expect Gore to have a big night against a once tough, but now sorry, Rams running defense. They rank 29th in the league, surrendering 152.5 yards per game on the ground. He is an absolute fantasy football start this week.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco
I’d love to be able to give you a Rams player to start in this game, but in good conscience, I can't do that. There's a good chance for any number of St. Louis players to lay an egg, and while one player may have a decent game, who knows who it might be?
Furthermore, San Francisco’s defense has been laying the wood to teams lately. They didn’t give up an offensive point against Philadelphia, and they rank 4th and 5th against the pass and run, respectively.
Hence, I give you Colin Kaepernick’s most reliable target.
Boldin has yet to put up a TD this season, but he is still on pace for nearly a thousand yards receiving. He will rarely, if ever, let you down should you need a solid 6-10 point performance.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis
For reason number one, see above. That is, the 49ers defense.
Stacy is prone to an occasional solid running effort. One of those efforts is not to come against the 49ers on Monday night.
While a back such as Jamaal Charles can churn out 80 yards (but without a score) against San Francisco’s D, Stacy cannot. Many fantasy owners have seen the promise of Zac Stacy in recent years, and it’s never fully come to fruition.
This season, Stacy’s best game was a 71 yard effort against Tampa Bay in week 2, which included his only touchdown of the year. Don’t rely on him if you need a last second spark.
Michael Crabtree, WR, St. Louis
While Anquan Boldin is a steady force for Kaepernick and the 49ers, Crabtree can easily standout out as exceptional or pathetic. He can always be counted on to be a Boom or Bust player from week to week.
For example, during Week 3 against the Cardinals, he had 10 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. In other words, a great day for a fantasy owner who started him. However, last week’s 16 yards on 1 catch for no scores is also on the table. That would be classified as a devastating stat line for owners.
Plus, for all of the trouble St. Louis has had against the run, they’ve been great against the pass. In fact, they rank 1st in yards per game against air traffic. And, when push comes to shove for Kaepernick on 3rd down and he needs to go to the air, look for him to eye Boldin, not Crabtree, on Monday night.
QB Fantasy Injury Updates -
After being in the dark all week long, the NFL Network is reporting that Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is set to start against the WORST pass defense in the NFL, the Washington Redskins.
This comes on the heel of Friday’s announcement that Palmer was only throwing at 80 percent in practice. Many fantasy owners have spent the entire week trolling the waiver wires to find a viable fill in for the Bye Week and staying tuned to injury updates.
There’s a multiple questions swirling around fantasy owners about Palmer right now:
At little more than 80 percent, can he still “light up” the Deadskins?
The Redskins are tight against the run, will Palmer have to pass?
Palmer is certainly an older quarterback who is NOT very mobile, is this a re-injury waiting to happen? Will he be back on the NFL injury updates list?
The answer to all of these questions is - YES!!
This makes Palmer a roll of the dice as a Bye-Week fill in. You could start him based on his HIGH upside or you could bench him because of his questionable health.
If you are a gunslinger in the fantasy football world and have ice in your veins, fire him up.
If you are a more conservative player, stay far, far away.
Fantasy Sit Start -
Carolina at Cincinnati – Andy Dalton
Football can be an extremely frustrating game. Something as small as an injured toe can set off a sequence of events that starts off small and ends up in catastrophe. A.J. Green's toe may be the fluttering wings of a butterfly igniting the butterfly effect. The latest reports indicate that Green left practice on a cart and the team is now concerned that it is much more serious than initially thought. That’s not only awful news for Green owners, but Dalton owners should be extremely alarmed as well. Green is what makes the Cincinnati engine go. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Green is what makes Dalton a quality fantasy quarterback. Without Green, he loses his best downfield threat, his best red zone target, and his most trusted “toss up a prayer” receiver. Can Dalton still post quality numbers with a limited Green? What if Green misses a few weeks? We’ll soon find out if all of Dalton’s value is contributed to the elite play of Green.
Detroit at Minnesota – Matthew Stafford
Speaking of losing your best receiver and having the wheels fall off, Stafford could be in for a huge value hit. It has now been confirmed that Calvin Johnson is in fact playing with a high ankle sprain and he’s rumored to be shut down for a week or two to rest up. Even with an extra two weeks of rest, a high ankle sprain is a deadly blow to a wide receiver’s season. Fellow receivers like Andre Johnson and Roddy White have gone from elite to a shell of themselves for an entire season thanks to the dreaded high ankle sprain. Now it’s Johnson’s turn to hobble around the field trying to gut out games. Even before the news of the sprain, the Detroit Lions and Stafford have not resembled their rock-and-roll selves from 2013. They are having trouble moving the ball against weaker opponents in the same manner that they could last season. Much like Andy Dalton, we’re most likely going to get a good look here to see how dependent Stafford is on Johnson to get his numbers.
Denver at New York Jets – Ronnie Hillman
People seemed more excited to put a waiver on Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell at the beginning of the season than they are to scoop up Hillman in Week 6. Does anyone else see something incredibly backwards with that thinking? With Peyton Manning leading the charge, a Broncos’ running back faces less pressure in the box than any other running back in football. That means they don’t have to be special to put up great numbers, as evidenced by Knowshon Moreno in 2013. That being said, Montee Ball just could not find a groove this season before suffering a groin injury last week. Even before the injury, when he was on the sideline and Hillman was on in relief, he just seemed to be a better fit. If Hillman comes out with a bang he may not give up the starter’s job for the rest of the season. He could play the Moreno role as the all-around back here in 2014 which would be waiver wire fantasy gold. If he is continuously stuffed at the line, can’t pass block and can’t reel in easy first down passes, he could be passed by C.J. Anderson and then again by Ball upon his return. Hillman has the most value, both short and long term, on the line than other player in Week 6.
Baltimore at Tampa Bay – Vincent Jackson
All Jackson needs is a mediocre quarterback to produce monster numbers. Since his return as the starter, Mike Glennon has proven to be better than mediocre and thusly Jackson has returned to elite form. But can Glennon keep Jackson going at this level consistently to help him regain his top-10 fantasy wide receiver status? Last week was no joke, as Jackson looked the most like his old self than he has in a long time. If they can keep this up it would be difficult to rank nine receivers ahead of him. Especially given the fact that fellow receivers like Andre Johnson , Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green are all in flux with injury concerns. At this point, Jackson has a very strong chance of finishing within the top 10 fantasy receivers and in doing so earning a much higher ranking for next season.
Fantasy Football Start -
1. WR Golden Tate, DET:
Tate has become Stafford's favorite wideout this season, receiving 40 targets through 5 games. In his first first year with the Lions, he's exploded and is nearly on pace to go for 1,500 yards and 5 touchdowns. With Calvin Johnson dealing with injuries, the former Seahawks receiver will have to step up in his absence, and his back-to-back 100 yard performances show that he is doing just that. Detroit will face a solid Vikings defense in Week 6, but it shouldn't be too big a problem for QB Matt Stafford to handle. Tate is a must-start wide receiver at this point and can be used as a WR1 regardless of whether or not Megatron suits up or not.
2. QB Eli Manning, NYG:
Manning has come on strong in his last two performances, and will look to keep the ball rolling in Philadelphia Sunday night. After a miserable start to the season, Manning has thrown for 500 yards, 6 TDs against just one interception in the last 2 weeks. This week's match up is also very favorable, as The Eagles have struggled against the pass, ranking 29th by allowing 274.2 yards per game. Eli has started to show that he is on the same page with his receivers, and will thrive this week once again. The Giants quarterback can safely be used as a QB1 in standard fantasy leagues for Week 6.
1. QB Tony Romo, DAL:
Like any other quarterback this season, Tony Romo is not a recommended start against the all-encompassing Seahawks defense. Seattle ranks 5th in total yards allowed per game at 317.8, and don't expect The Cowboys to have too much success against them this week. Romo won't be able to find too many holes in their defense, as they will have RB Demarco Murray on lockdown, ranking number 1 in allowing only 62.3 rushing yards per contest. Romo and the Cowboys will struggle, and he should be avoided in all standard leagues.
2. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI:
McCoy's shady play is a cause for some serious concern for fantasy owners, as he has failed to live up to expectations. The dynamic tailback only has 1 touchdown in 5 games, and has rushed for a grand total of 273 yards, averaging out to a mediocre 54.6 yards per game. This is one year removed from McCoy gaining 1,607 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. His slow start is due in large part to an offensive line which is missing many key personnel. The Giants run defense ranks 10th in the league allowing 99 rushing yards per game, and should be able to contain McCoy. Find a reasonable replacement for the struggling back if possible.
Stay tuned to ASL for the most complete fantasy sit start advice!
WR Fantasy Injury Updates -
A.J. Green owners had an unpleasant Wednesday as news came in that Green was carted off the practice field due to an aggravated toe injury. Green is set to have an MRI and it's possible that the Bengals will shut Green down for a few weeks to get him back to 100%.
Green owners looking elsewhere for a replacement might do well to stay with some members of the Bengals receiving corps. Now that Dalton is without Green, the Bengals will likely count on Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to fill the void. Stay tuned to our injury updates on Fantasy Focus for developing news.
Sanu is the second best receiver and fantasy option on the Bengals. Sanu has five catches in two straight games and has three touchdowns in his last four games. Sanu has favorable match-ups the next two weeks against Carolina and Indy and will be the number one receiver in the passing game if Green is out this Sunday or for an extended period of time.
It's certainly possible that A.J. Green owners may have better reciever options than Sanu, but with bye weeks and injuries adding up throughout the league, owners could do much worse than Sanu.
Marvin Jones was on pace to play last Sunday against the Patriots before he suffered a setback with his ailing ankle. There isn't much news on Jones except for the fact that he's questionable for Sunday. Based on the fact that he has been on the NFL injury updates list all season and he's yet to score a fantasy point, Jones isn't worth rostering until he has a few receptions under his belt.
However, fantasy owners can't ignore the fact that Jones hauled in 51 receptions for 712 yards last season to go along with an impressive 10 touchdown catches. Jones may be out this week, but could make a very valuable fantasy stash.