During the preseason, I promised to deliver updated projections
each quarter in an effort to help fantasy owners plan for the
immediate and near future. Because I’m covering all 32 teams
this week and there is a lot to cover, I’m going to get
right to it.
At least this time around, I’ve chosen to identify a “buy”
or “sell” candidate as well as a potential breakout
player for each team over the next month. Depending on the feedback
I receive on this piece, I may do the same when I attempt to project
the third and fourth quarters of the season following Weeks 8
Here’s a quick refresher of what each of the colors mean
in each team’s projection chart below:
Red – A very difficult matchup.
For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be
used in fantasy that week. For a second- or third-tier player,
drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e.
from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one
level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like a
Yellow – Keep expectations
fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow
matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier
player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall
right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average
White – Basically, this is
a neutral matchup. In some cases, I just don’t feel like
I have a good feel yet for the defense. Generally speaking, these
matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.
Green – It doesn’t
get much better than this. For non-elite players, the stage is
basically set for said player to exploit the matchup. For the
elite player, this matchup should produce special numbers.
One final note: The gray highlight in each team’s
schedule reflects a road game and the numbers above them correspond
to the weeks of the season. The age you see by each player will
be that player’s age as of September 1, 2015.
Key to the table below:
PPR - Total points scored in PPR Non - Total points scored in non-PPR.
Buy: McCoy. Thereís a fairly good
chance Shadyís ďsetbackĒ might keep out until the Week 8 bye. The
majority of owners arenít going to be deep enough at running back
and could be frustrated with his lack of availability by that point.
Iíd also be willing to buy Watkins as well.
Sell: Harvin. This is about as
prolonged of a period as Harvin goes without getting injured.
Heís the WR35 in PPR as we speak, ahead of players such as Kendall
Wright and Brandin Cooks Ė players Iíd much rather have.
Breakout player: Williams. I understand
the rookie has already made plenty of noise and I think heíll
have value all season. Having said that, I think heís more of
a second-quarter standout only, assuming his concussion doesnít
keep him off field while McCoy is out.
Buy: Miller. One could easily make the case there are about three
players that belong here, but Iíll go with the one that was
the most highly-drafted. Itís quite apparent interim HC Dan
Campbell has an edge to him and most new coaches that preach physicality
start by emphasizing the running game. I wouldnít expect a
huge surge in rushing production, but there will be much more commitment
to the run than there was prior to Joe Philbinís dismissal.
Sell: Matthews. This is a tough call, because Matthews probably
should take the role most assumed Stills was going to have before
the season and Miami uses enough three-wide formations that he
should still see plenty of playing time. Having said that, Tannehill
has eyes for Landry and it is a pretty good bet that Parker will
be fast-tracked by Campbell as well.
Breakout player: Parker. Miami canít stop hyping its rookie
and for good reason. If Campbell really practices what he preaches
about competition and ďearning your spotĒ, Parker
may not need any more time than the bye week to work his way into
the lineup for good. He may not be anything more than a WR3 this
season, but Iím quite certain heíll be a weekly starter
at some point in 2015.
Buy: Brandon LaFell. Last yearís surprise star has been camped out
on the PUP list since early September with a foot injury. Heís expected
to be able to play when heís eligible in Week 8 and, considering
no other outside receiver stepped up in his absence, now would be
a good time to secure his services. As with any injured player,
there is risk involved in betting on LaFell. Thankfully, heís on
the waiver wire in many leagues.
Sell: Lewis. This one pains me a bit because I watched Lewis
play at Pittsburgh and have always believed in his talent. With
that said, durability has been the main reason heís been
unable to stick anywhere for very long during his NFL career.
Furthermore, itís dangerous to assume that we know what
HC Bill Belichick is thinking in regards to his running backs
at any point during any season.
Breakout player: LaFell. For all the reasons I provided above,
I think itís safe to stash LaFell and expect WR3 production
shortly after his return.
Buy: Decker. Itís hard to get a sense of what Deckerís
value is in the fantasy community and heís the clear second
receiving option in New York, but thatís not necessarily a
bad thing. When you consider the Jets donít throw to their
tight end and their third most trusted passing-game option right
now is Powell, it seems safe to say Decker is going to a solid fantasy
Sell: Ivory. Sometimes we have to be able to separate reality
from fantasy in this hobby of ours. In reality, every team needs
a back like Ivory to be a tone-setter. In fantasy, it seems almost
for certain heís going to have a career year Ė assuming
he can stay healthy. And there within lies the rub. He is already
not getting much action in the passing game and dealing with a
lower-body injury, so when we combine that with this ferocious
running style, we have an early-down back that is likely to miss
some time later in the season.
Breakout player:Stevan Ridley. Much like LaFell above, Ridley
(ACL) was stashed on the PUP list before the start of the season.
As long as Ivory remains healthy and keeps running like he is
right now, heís locked in as the early-down back in this
offense. However, if Ivory is forced to miss some action about
the time Week 8 rolls around, New York could easily opt to plug
Ridley into his role and perhaps even force an early-down committee.
Iím not saying that a committee will happen, but as owners
we have to be prepared for such an occurrence.
Buy: Bryant. There is inherent risk in pursuing a player such as
Bryant when it seems no one can pin down an official return date
for him. Nevertheless, acquiring Bryant will never be cheaper than
it is during this state of uncertainty and, if he returns to form,
whatever price was paid this week or next will seem minuscule. There
appears to be optimism heíll be back shortly after the Cowboysí
Week 6 bye, although I tend to believe heíll need at least
a week or two beyond that.
Sell: Randle. It seems logical with the loss of all the playmakers
in Dallas that Randle stands to benefit the most, but McFadden
is better in most aspects of the passing game and the loss of
his supporting cast figures to put a lot of pressure on him to
carry the offense each week. With so few players remaining to
strike fear in the defense, expect Randleís rushing numbers
to start declining.
Breakout player: Beasley. Assuming Bryant is out until Week 8,
I donít see any way in which a player like Beasley doesnít
get more involved - especially in the wake of Lance Dunbarís
season-ending injury. The Cowboys are short on players that consistently
catch the ball beyond Witten, so I expect Beasley to assume a
lot of the value that Dunbar had over the first quarter of the
Buy: Manning. This is really a tough call, because I believe most
of the Giantsí main fantasy properties are performing at the
level I expect them to the rest of the season. However, Iíll
take Manning here because he has a chance to excel over the next
Sell: Randle. The Giantsí second receiver has found the
end zone in back-to-back weeks, which suggests to me now is as
good a time of any part ways with the inconsistent playmaker.
Perhaps his 13 total targets over the last two weeks is the new
normal for him, but at some point Cruz will return and probably
chip away at that total.
Breakout player: Harris. I was tempted not to list a player here,
but I am encouraged by how much action Harris saw in the slot
last week. It is entirely possible that heíll continue to
perform at the level that I expect Cruz to when he returns, which
would be as a WR4 or WR5.
Buy: Agholor. Quick trivia question: what Eagles player has seen
more snaps than any other? If you said this rookie, you are correct.
With Agholor, it is not a question of playing time and likely more
a matter of continuing to build a rapport with Bradford.
Sell: Murray. Selling Murray now would be a mistake, but it is
entirely possible that he performs well this week against New
Orleans. If he does, it may be in your best interests to convince
other potential owners that he is ďfiguring things outĒ.
The fact of the matter is that Mathews fits this current team
better than Murray does. The distribution of the workload doesnít
figure to change anytime soon either, clearly leaving Murray in
low-end RB2 territory.
Breakout player: Mathews. The ex-Charger probably isnít
anything more than a flex consideration as long as Murray is healthy,
but should be in the RB2 discussion anytime last yearís
rushing champion is sidelined. Mathews has a bit more elusiveness
than Murray, which allows him to produce on a somewhat more consistent
basis when the blocking doesnít hold up.
Buy: Garcon. I’m not sure anyone outside of his PPR owners
are aware of this, but Garçon has produced doubled-digit
fantasy point totals in every game so far and is averaging nearly
nine targets. That number could go down once Jackson returns, but
Garçon’s efficiency should improve. Furthermore, Reed
is injured once again, likely leaving Garcon as a target monster
for the next couple weeks.
Sell: Morris. I was firmly against drafting Morris in the first
place and owners can see why that is the case now. What was supposed
to be at worst a Morris-Jones timeshare has become a bit of a
three-headed monster, with Thompson stealing the passing-down
role that Jones was supposed to have. It’s complete and
utter chaos in Washington - should we be surprised?
Breakout player: Crowder. This is more for the dynasty crowd
with a lot of roster space. Crowder is a rookie with the kind
of quickness and explosiveness to turn any play into a big one.
I sincerely doubt he’ll become a consistent fantasy performer
at any point in 2015, but he’s a player to keep in mind
should a player like Garçon go down for multiple weeks.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.