It has been a tough few weeks for fantasy owners as the injury
bug has bitten a large number of highly-valued targets. But the
season goes on and fantasy owners will have to adjust to life
Smith and Keenan
Truth lives on in the midst of deception.
- Friedrich Schiller
1) No offense in 2015 has been
as consistent as the New England Patriots.
There is nothing deceptive about this statement. Since going
scoreless in the opening quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers,
the Pats have scored in 27 consecutive quarters. In fact, they
have scored double-digit points in the second quarter of all seven
games to date. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady obviously know how
to make the correct in-game adjustments. Don’t expect their
next three opponents to slow them down (Washington, New York Giants,
Derek Carr is sporting a 15:3 TD-to-INT
ratio and has seven touchdowns in his last two games.
Carr is quickly turning into a top fantasy quarterback.
It’s amazing what a little help will do for a talented young
quarterback. In his last six games, Carr is averaging 288.6 ypg
and has thrown 15 touchdowns against three interceptions. Opening
day 2014 his starting running back was an over-the-hill Maurice
Jones-Drew and his receivers were Denarius
Streater and James
Jones. He lost 19-14 to the New York Jets. Last Sunday, surrounded
by better talent in running back Latavius Murray, a budding star
in wideout Amari
Cooper and veteran Michael
Crabtree, Carr threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns to
beat the same Jets 34-20. Carr should be “untradeable” in dynasty
3) Speaking of untradeable, do I have to
tell you that Todd
Gurley should also be on that list?
As a starter over the last four games, Gurley is averaging 141.5
ypg and has scored six times (three receiving). He’s averaging
20.2 FPts/G over the four-game stretch. That’s better than
Devonta Freeman. We knew Gurley was the most talented running
back coming out of this year’s draft, but he was recovering
from ACL surgery, so his rise to the elite running back level
has been much faster than expected. With Le’Veon Bell sidelined
for the remainder of the season, there is no current running back
that I would rather have in my lineup. Gurley’s explosiveness
reminds me of a former Rams running back - Eric Dickerson.
4) In the last two weeks, four running
backs have become starters due to injury and I rate DeAngelo
Williams the best of the group.
The four in my evaluation are; Williams, Charcandrick
Blue and Jeremy
Langford. Williams already proved his worth when with Bell
suspended for the first two weekends he rushed for a combined
204 yards and three touchdowns. West is a close second and I now
understand why head coach Andy Reid likes him better than backup
Davis. West is as good a runner and a better receiver than
Davis. Blue is the lead back in an RBBC and Langford likely only
has the job in Chicago for a couple of weeks.
5) No one would blame you if you
“sold high” on Stefon
Diggs has put together three good games and is averaging almost
111 ypg over that span. His teammate, Mike
Wallace, said he reminded him of a former teammate and current
fantasy stud - Antonio
Brown. That has Diggs’ perceived value through the roof and
his trade value will probably never be higher than it is this
week. He’ll face a tough Rams defense on Sunday and likely be
getting a lot more attention from defensive coordinators down
the stretch. The added attention at the wideout should open up
things for Adrian
Peterson. Plus, I was expecting better production from Teddy
Bridgewater who seems to have a limited upside as he’s only
scored over 20 fantasy points one time this season.
Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.
- Thomas Carlyle
1) Popular opinion says that Aaron
Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL (or at worst second
to Brady) and a fantasy stud.
Not without Jordy Nelson he’s not. Rodgers is not putting
up the passing yards we have come to expect and as a fantasy quarterback
he’s been deceptively mediocre in 2015. From 2008 through
2014, Rodgers averaged 282.5 ypg and never passed for less than
252.4 ypg. This season he’s averaging just 224.0 ypg through
the air. Rodgers is currently ranked 11th in fantasy quarterback
production at 22.5 ppg which is behind such fantasy “stars”
as Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor. It’s not a coincidence
that this is the first season he’s been without Nelson.
The last time Nelson missed significant time (four games in 2012),
Rodgers averaged just 248 ypg in his absence. It appears Rodgers
needs Nelson to put up great fantasy numbers and unfortunately
that won’t happen again until 2016.
2) Tight end Ben
Watson’s best years were with Brady in New England.
Watson was certainly most visible when he was with the Patriots,
but heading into this season two of his top three reception and
yardage totals were with the Browns. Unfortunately, when you play
football in Cleveland you are, for the most part, invisible to
fans. Grabbing the starting role in New Orleans and having Drew
Brees at quarterback this season, Watson has reappeared on fantasy
radar screens and is on pace to post career highs on receptions,
yards and touchdowns. He’s ranked ninth in FPts/G (8.2) and sixth
in total points at the tight end position. Watson is only owned
in about 50 percent of all leagues.
3) The addition of Jimmy
Graham to the Seattle Seahawks will make them a dynamic offense.
Not so much. To date this move hasn’t helped Graham owners or
the Seahawks. Sure, we thought Graham’s fantasy value would be
reduced, and it is (55-450-2), but the damage to the Seahawks
offense was unexpected. The Seahawks are averaging 3.7 ppg less
in 2015 than 2014 and 5.2 ppg less than 2013. Their passing yards
per attempt has fallen from 6.6 to 6.5. Quarterback Russell
Wilson has been sacked a league-high 31 times against 234
passing attempts. Meanwhile, their rushing average has dropped
more significantly - from 5.3 ypc to 4.6. Perhaps the loss of
center Max Unger (sent to New Orleans in the Graham deal) is much
greater than expected. It’s hard to picture the Seahawks offense
significantly improving over the final eight games.
4) The New York Jets are a great
In real life they are, but not for fantasy owners. Sure, they
are yielding a league-low 78.1 ypg on the ground and are sixth
in passing yards allowed per game (240.1), but they rank an ugly
27th in FPts/G (3.7). Despite 15 turnovers, which ranks sixth-best,
the Jets have yet to convert any of them into a touchdown and
have no kick returns for a score. They also rank 29th in sacks
(11) through seven games. By contrast, the Denver Broncos lead
the D/ST category earning 9.9 FPts/G having manufactured four
touchdowns from their defense and a league-leading 28 sacks.
He’s saying the right things publicly, but I don’t
believe down deep he thinks he will return to the field in 2016.
Smith has been a great fantasy player over the years with both
Carolina and Baltimore and on Sunday cracked the top-10 all-time
in receiving yards (13,932), but at 36-years-old with 15 years
of wear and tear on his 5-foot-9 frame, I think it’s the
end of the road. Fantasy owners wish every player would have his
heart and his inner fire.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.