The “bye season” continues with Jacksonville, Kansas
City, New Orleans and Seattle watching the action. That’s
a lot of quarterback talent on the sidelines, so the return of
Tom Brady is particularly important. If you stashed TB12 and you
were still competitive, take a bow. Then trade your current starter
to bolster another position.
Matt Ryan sits atop the fantasy QB rankings
but the schedule looks grim over the next couple weeks.
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains,
however improbable, must be the truth.” - Sir Arthur Conan
1) Cam Newton’s showboating cost
fantasy owners points.
Newton’s point total was a lot smaller after missing the final
nine minutes of the blowout loss to Atlanta because the quarterback
was dumb. Instead of diving into the end zone for a successful two-point
conversion, he let up at the goal line and took a game-ending hit
from Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. Backup quarterback Derek Anderson
came on to throw for 172 yards and a pair of touchdown passes …
statistics that should have been added to Newton’s total 14-for-25
for 165 yards and one TD. It’s not the first time Newton has
chosen style over his personal safety and likely won’t be
the last. This one, however, could cost him his availability in
Week 5 due to the league’s concussion protocol.
2) Matt Ryan should probably be avoided
over the next two weeks.
Ryan leads the league passing yards (1,473), touchdowns (11) and
FPts/G (30.6) but the Falcons schedule is rough with Denver and
Seattle next up. Denver has yielded just 169.5 ypg and has given
up the seventh fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Seattle is
fourth in passing yards (183.8) and third in QB points allowed.
Don’t consider trading Ryan, however, because the schedule
gets a lot easier after the next two games with San Diego (29th),
Green Bay (28th) and Tampa Bay (22nd) on tap.
3) Ezekiel Elliott is getting better
with each game.
True. It’s not just the numbers which have progressed from
11.2 to 14.7 to 16.0 to 21.7 last weekend. He’s using his
blockers better, showing patience and is becoming the consistent
every-week performer expected of a late first round fantasy selection.
The next four games could be a bit tougher facing Cincinnati, Cleveland,
Philadelphia and Baltimore, but he’s going to be a fantasy
stud for as long as he and the Cowboys top-ranked offensive line
4) Rumors of DeMarco Murray’s demise
in Philadelphia were greatly exaggerated.
Murray leads all fantasy running backs averaging 19.9 FPts/G. The
problem obviously wasn’t with the player, but the inflexible
head coach/de facto general manager. Chip Kelly signed the former
Cowboys running back, then played an offense that didn’t fit
his talents and wouldn’t change no matter how obvious the
solution. Of course, Kelly also didn’t let his veteran quarterback
(Sam Bradford) audible when needed. Kelly’s reign in San Francisco
is likely to be just as unbending and equally as short. His return
to college football is inevitable.
5) Eddie Lacy will never be as good
as he was in his first two seasons when he averaged 14.0 and 14.7
Lacy is averaging a career-high 5.0 ypc, but he’s 0-for-9 in the
red zone. After scoring 11 rushing touchdowns in 2013, he scored
nine times in 2014 on 8-for-40 (20%) red zone attempts and just
three times on 3-for-20 tries (15%) last season. The progression
is clear and Green Bay has obviously decided they would rather put
the ball in Aaron
Rodgers’ hands. Based on the numbers below … wouldn’t you?
Green Bay in the
“There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies
and statistics.” Benjamin Disraeli
1) The Philadelphia Eagles rushing defense is the second-best in
the league based on yielding just 12.1 FPts/G to date.
False. Teams are actually rushing very well against the Eagles defense
when they try - producing an above-league-average 4.3 ypc. It’s
just that through three games the opposition has only run the ball
49 times (16.3 attempts-per-game) because they have been far behind
(Eagles average winning margin is 21.7 ppg). Down the road when
the games are close, fantasy running backs should be able to put
up decent numbers against Philadelphia.
2) LeGarrette Blount will continue to
be a top-20 back throughout the season.
False. He’s currently ranked eighth, producing 14.9 FPts/G,
but Blount has a couple of roadblocks standing in his way. The first
is his inability to catch the ball and a quarterback in Brady who
loves to throw the short, ball-control pass to his backs and tight
ends. Dion Lewis (12.3 FPts/G last season) is eligible to return
in Week 7, though a more likely date is after the Patriots’
bye week (Week 11) and Lewis fits this offense better than a grinder
3) Amari Cooper is the Raiders No. 1
False. Cooper is the team’s most talented receiver, but Michael
Crabtree is the best fantasy option. He was last year too, averaging
9.1 FPts/G to Cooper’s 8.9. Opposing teams are more scared of Cooper
and double team him or slide the zone in his direction which allows
Crabtree to flourish. Crabtree (13.7 FPts/G) has caught 70.2% of
his targets in 2016 (26-of-37) including all three red zone targets
4) Sell Odell Beckham Jr.
No! No! No! How many times must I tell you it’s “buy
low, sell high” not “buy high, sell low”? Everyone
knows how much he’s struggled in the first four games (zero
touchdowns, 7.6 FPts/G), including on national television Monday
night against the Vikings. Beckham Jr. and his Giants face a Green
Bay pass defense that has given up the third most fantasy points
to wide receivers (30.4 FPts/G) and I expect him to be a “squeaky
wheel” the next five days. He should have his best game of
the season this Sunday and you can sell him for a lot more next
week … if you still want to.
5) Now that Brady is back, it’s safe
to start Rob Gronkowski and expect great results.
False. It’s not getting much media attention, but Gronkowski’s
hamstring injury is apparently not healed. He played 14-of-62 plays
in Week 3 and 39-of-56 last Sunday, but he’s managed just
three targets and one reception in 53 total snaps. Under normal
conditions a date with Cleveland (giving up the sixth most fantasy
points to TEs) should mean monster production for “Gronk”
but I’m not sure he’s healthy enough to do it. And we
know for sure, Bill Belichick isn’t going to give us any enlightening
information this week.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.