With so many options to choose from, sometimes fielding a fantasy lineup can be quite the headache. Obvious are the starts akin to Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Matthew Stafford, Adrian Peterson and the games other bigger names. However, it’s the tougher choices – namely the less obvious starts – that will end up winning your league.
Here are a few names you might want to consider.
Carson Palmer QB Arizona – Carson Palmer might be dealing with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder, but it didn’t stop him from throwing over 300 yards with two touchdowns against San Diego last week. Palmer should find similar success this week, albeit on the road, when Arizona takes on the New York Giants who surrendered 341 yards in the air to Detroit in Week 1. Palmer has a big play weapon in Michael Floyd and don’t discount Larry Fitzgerald just yet. The good news for Palmer is that RB Andre Ellington seem like he will be able to play through his foot injury, giving Palmer another dangerous passing option. Monitor his status, but it sounds like he will be ready to go. Start Palmer as a high end QB2.
Frank Gore RB San Francisco – Chicago just gave up 193 rushing yards at home to Buffalo in Week 1. With QB Colin Kaepernick expected to get his running yards, Gore and rookie RB Carlos Hyde should also see significant rushing yardage in the team’s home opener. Gore only tallied 66 rushing yards in Week 1, but he should not have too much trouble eclipsing the 110-yard mark in Sunday night’s Week 2 showdown. Gore is 31 years old and was expected to slow down last season, but still managed to put up 1,128 rushing yards with 9 rushing touchdowns - the second highest in his prolific career. Start Gore with confidence as your RB2 with expectations of 100+ rushing yards and a score.
C.J. Spiller RB Buffalo – Spiller’s timeshare with Fred Jackson will continue throughout the 2014 season barring injury. Still, both can be effective options with Spiller having much more potential due to his powerful burst and electrifying speed. This week Buffalo goes up against a Miami defense who held New England to just 89 rushing yards and 226 passing yards. But Miami is on the road in Week 2 and has a slew of defensive players battling injuries – though most should end up on the field Sunday. Buffalo is coming off a big upset where they manhandled Chicago on the road in Week 1 and will be looking to carry that momentum into Week 2 against Miami. Spiller can be dangerous when he finds a hole and is always a candidate for a big play. Big play of not, Spiller should still put up serviceable numbers this week, enough to qualify as a decent RB2 option.
Kelvin Benjamin WR Detroit – Kelvin Benjamin was much of a secret by the time your league had its draft, but he still probably didn’t go as high as his worth this season will dictate. The 6’5” 240 pound rookie receiver wasted no time in making his name known in the NFL churning out a 6-catch, 92-yard performance with a touchdown to boot. And this was on the road against a should be tough Tampa Bay defense with back up QB Derek Anderson at the helm. This week Benjamin plays at home against Detroit and starting QB Cam Newton is expected to return. Newton will often be hurried by Detroit’s aggressive D-line, but Benjamin is a big target that has speed and the ability to get open in a hurry. I fully expect Benjamin to put up similar numbers to what he did in Week 1 with the potential to haul in his first 100-yard receiving game. Benjamin is a very nice WR2 option and maybe even a lower end WR1 for Week 2.
Reggie Wayne WR Indianapolis – Reggie Wayne was drafted in the latter rounds of so many fantasy drafts this year – much lower than receiving counterpart T.Y. Hilton. The thought process was that the Wayne is now 35 years old, had ACL repair surgery last season and that Hilton has taken over as the big go to option for QB Andrew Luck. Well, as we all saw in Indy’s Week 1 opener at Denver, Wayne is back and better than ever. He is obviously the guy that Luck entrusts catching 9 of 13 targets and seemed to get open at will. Hilton will still be a major part of the Indianapolis passing game, but Wayne looks to be a bigger part. Yes, it was only one game, but Wayne sure showcased himself as a top league receiver in Monday night’s battle with the AFC champs and showed zero indication that he plans to slow down. As long as Wayne’s big-time play holds up, he should hold borderline WR1 status and that especially goes for this week’s matchup at home against Philadelphia that let Jacksonville’s Chad Henne pass for two first quarter touchdowns. Wayne will light it up in Philly, especially in PPR leagues). Expect 7 or more catches, lots of yards and Wayne’s first score of the year.
Larry Donnell TE New York Giants – Larry Donnell is separating himself from the TE pack. QB Eli Manning has always liked hitting his TEs and this year should be no different. Donnell, a 6’6” 265 pound target, had preseason completion from Daniel Fells and Adrian Robinson, but has established his starting role in Week 1 by catching 5 or his 8 targets for 56 yards and a touchdown grab against Detroit. Coach Tom Coughlin had mentioned a committee attack at TE but Donnell is certainly Manning’s go-to guy. New York has a tougher defensive matchup in Week 2 against Arizona, but they are at home and Donnell should still have plenty of opportunities. In leagues that start two TEs, Donnell is a nice play this week, but can even be useful in one TE leagues as a replacement for injured players like Jordan Reed or Jordan Cameron.
Hot Pick Up Bust of the Week
Terrance West RB Cleveland – New Orleans can give up the rushing yards – especially on the road, where they find themselves in Week 2 at Cleveland. The question is, how much Cleveland will be running the ball. In Week 1 New Orleans was on the road battling Atlanta where they gave up 123 rushing yards. Of course, Atlanta has a much more potent offense and not only kept up with Drew Brees and company but pasted them with 445 passing yards. West, who is starting in place for the injured Ben Tate, may find his team unable to keep up with New Orleans’ high flying offense and not getting as many run opportunities, most likely trailing early on. Plus, he has fellow backfield mate Isaiah Crowell to contend with. West has been a popular pick up this week, but it’s just not in the cards for him to put up fantasy relevant numbers in Week 2. Hold onto him and hope he starts at home in Week 3 vs Baltimore where it will be much more of a smashmouth type game that could offer plenty of run opportunities. Unless you are desperate for RB help this week, West should be on your bench.
The fantasy season is almost upon us, and every year we like to take the preseason to break down each position individually. We’ll be starting this year with the Quarterbacks. This article will focus on QB’s that have good draft value, and others that do not. Remember, this isn’t exactly who’s going to land in or out of the top 10 this year, but it’s who you can target, or avoid, in a draft to get yourself the best roster.
For a more in-depth discussion, check out our podcast from 8/18/15, The QB Show!
QB’s that have good value:
Can Palmer start all 16 games this season?
Carson Palmer - #11 on our rankings, Palmer is an excellent QB, when healthy. The Cardinals have a decent offense which was able to move the ball when Palmer was out last year. Their defense will make sure the offense gets plenty of possessions. Palmer has an ECR of 19, giving him the largest gap of any QB on our list. His ADP of 22 (153 overall) means that you can take him at the end of nearly every draft, and have a guy that we think should finish just outside the top 10.
Palmer Targets: Fitz!, Michael Floyd, Jaron & John Brown, Andre Ellington, CJ?K, Whoever starts at TE.
Relevant stats: Arizona threw the ball 35.1 times per game in 2014, right in the middle of the pack for the NFL. Palmer is on a 3-year trend upward (extrapolating last year's stats over 16 games). The Cardinals' window is closing fast, look for them to pull out all the stops to make a Super Bowl run this year.
Tom Brady - #8 on our rankings, he has an ECR of 14, mostly, I suspect, due to his looming suspension. If he plays all 16, I think he’ll go up a bit. Overall, I think we underestimate Tom every year, and every year he’s playing in January, so he must be doing something right. What we do know about Brady is that he has Gronk, and it doesn’t really matter who else is there.
Relevant stats: The Pats threw the ball 38.6 times per game last year, 7th most in the league. Brady has thrown over 30 TD's in 4 of the last 5 seasons, and usually keeps the INT's low. Don't be fooled by the lack of targets, it's never bothered Brady.
Tony Romo - #5 on our rankings, he has an ECR of 9 and an ADP of 8. Romo’s value is going up, he’s currently being drafted about 1 round higher than his overall ranking would put him, however we rank him even higher, so there is still value to be had here. Romo is a tough QB leading what is likely to be a top 5 offense in the NFL this season. Romo is the highest tier QB with a good value rating.
Romo Targets: Dez Bryant (over 135 targets each of the last 3 years), Witten, Williams, Beasley, Randle/Dunbar/McFadden
Relevant stats: Last year, Dallas threw the ball only 29.2 times per game, the second fewest in the league. Romo made the most of the times he did throw the ball, leading the league in completion % (69.9), TD % (7.8) and yards per pass attempt (8.5). He has been trending up in TD's and down in INT's over the last 3 years. Romo is playing better than he ever has and will need to pick up the slack after Demarco Murray's departure. Don't worry about his age either, he may be over 35, but he's only started 20 more games than Rodgers, so he has plenty of football left in him.
This guy got $65 million...
Philip Rivers - #10 on our rankings, his ECR is 13, so we’re not too far off there, but it’s a game of inches, isn’t it? Rivers just got a huge new contract, with something like $65 mil GUARANTEED. That means it’s his job to now go out and prove to the team that he deserves it. The Chargers’ ground game got a big upgrade this season, drafting Melvin Gordon #14 overall. This should take a bit of pressure off Rivers. Rivers had 31 TD’s, but also 18 INT’s. He’s generally not that errant of a passer, so if he can cut down on the picks, he will finish in the top 10 yet again.
Relevant stats: San Diego threw the ball 35.9 times per game last season, 14th in the league, but threw it 43 times per game in the last 3 games, two of which were against division opponents. Rivers has gone over 4000 yards in 6 of the last 7 seasons and over 30 TD's in 5 of them. He's wonderfully consistent and can be counted on to be in the top 12 every years. Pick him up when he's available late. Oh yea, the new contract doesn't hurt his outlook any.
QB’s that are overvalued:
Colin Kaepernick – Kaepernick is ranked 22 on our sheets and has an ECR of 15. He won’t be drafted as a starter in standard leagues anyways, but I wanted to just reiterate how much we do not like the 49ers offense this year. The rankings, thankfully, agree with us. His overall stats for the last 3 years have been underwhelming, so let someone else reach for him as their backup QB.
Kaepernick Targets: Boldin, Smith, Davis, Hyde/Bush – See why we aren’t hyped?
Relevant stats: the 49ers threw the ball only 30.4 times per game last year, good for 29th in the league. Kaepernick already only completes 60.1% of his passes through his career, so you need to rely on his feet to get you big points. The problem there is that his rushing TD's have gone from 5 to 4 to 1. Are you ready to bet it's going back up to 5? His Int's are the other alarming trend, going up each year that he's been in the league.
Cam's job got a lot harder with Benjamin going down.
Cam Newton – Newton has a rank of 13 on our sheet, but an ECR of 7. He’s clearly favored by pundits and fans alike, but our rankings sheet is not so high on him. Newton has slightly regressed in his stat line every year since he broke into the league back in 2011. Even though it may “feel” like Newton is due to rebound back to what he had his rookie year, his risk is not worth the price you have to pay. His ceiling is actually rather low, especially considering he will run less and less as he gets older. It’s not worth it, in my opinion, to draft a guy as the 7th best QB when he really only has a shot at being #5 at the very highest.
Newton Targets: Benjamin, Ginn, Funchess, Cotchery, Corey Brown, Olsen, Stewart/Tolbert/Whittaker
Relevant stats: Carolina threw the ball 34.1 times per game last season, but Newton only has a career 59.5 completion %. Newton has also only thrown the ball about 31 times per game in his career, so I expect his pass attempts to stay flat, at best. Newton was only the 16th best fantasy QB last year, right above our buddy Kaepernick. At least he's above the Andy Dalton line.
Ryan Tannehill - #14 in our rankings, Tannehill is a guy who we have been pumping up all year, and it looks like we’re not the only ones. His ECR is 10, so the experts like him, and his ADP of 13 indicates that he hasn’t quite caught up to his ECR in the rest of the fantasy world. Here’s the thing though, Tannehill is the QB who is being hyped as the best value or biggest jump from last year. News like this spreads like wildfire and the draft season is now in full swing. Just this past weekend, I was in a draft where he was the 7th overall QB taken, late in the 6th round.
Relevant stats: Miami was in the top half of the league, throwing the ball 37.2 times per game in 2014. Tannehill's stats have generally been trending up over his first three years in the league. They just got Jordan Cameron and drafted Devante Parker. Yes, things are looking up for Ryan Tannehill, but the secret's out. He's got a good shot at going too early in your draft. Give a silent nod and just move on. If he's available closer to his ADP of 13, then go for it.
John Brown, a man of action -- a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. Crap, wrong John Brown. But like the former John Brown, John Brown is a man of action and is also on a mission. Brown is an interesting target and has been climbing up draft boards over the last month. His ADP has gone from the 10th round, to the 7th. Heck, I have seen him go as early as the 5th!
Brown is from the college football powerhouse of Pittsburgh State. Fine, maybe not a powerhouse college but he is the all time leader of the Gorillas in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. I will not even begin to get into the countless awards and the recognition he gained for his work on Special Teams. John Brown was drafted by the Cardinals in 2014 in the third round (91st overall) and had a 48/696/5 stat line last year.
In the off-season, Brown actually lived and worked out with Carson Palmer. They worked on getting their timing down and getting on the same page. This is nice to hear and see. Both players are committed to getting better in 2015 and Brown can learn a lot from a veteran like Palmer. It was also reported that Brown put on 10lbs in an effort to shed press coverage.
With a year under his belt and having adjusted more to the NFL's level of play, the Cardinals are going to find more ways to get the ball into Brown’s hands. Last season he only rushed 3 times for -6 yards. There will be more reverses and quick screens to get the ball to the speedster. With Fitzgerald drawing attention from defenses and Floyd missing fingers, watch out for Brown. If Palmer stays healthy, all signs point to him having a great season.
Injuries are a huge part of the fantasy football season. This year, they have already taken a bite out of the fantasy production of many teams with extended injuries to such players as Adrian Peterson, Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Ameer Abdullah, and more. The hits just keep coming! This week we’ll look at a few key injuries that may change the direction of some fantasy match-ups.
Cam Newton (QB, CAR)
Newton is in the league’s concussion protocol and has a number of tests to go through and pass before he can suit up on Monday Night Football. Still likely to play, but it puts a lot of owners in a tough spot if he ends up sitting out!
Carson Palmer (QB, ARZ)
Palmer is no ‘Spring Chicken’ and he is also in the concussion protocol for now. The difference for Palmer is that he is scheduled to play on Thursday. If he doesn’t go, Drew Stanton will fill in and likely make the Cardinals look even worse than they already have this season.
Trevor Siemian (QB, DEN)
Siemian has been one of a few surprises this season, putting up some great numbers recently. With a sprain in his non-throwing shoulder, Siemian could easily start under center on Sunday but the Broncos’ healthy new toy Paxton Lynch is also chomping at the bit to play after getting his first NFL snaps in week 4. Regardless, Kubiak has said, “Trevor is our starting Quarterback”, so as of right now we should expect him to resume active duties.
Dez Bryant (WR, DAL)
A hairline fracture (and not having Tony Romo as QB) are both keeping Bryant from being especially fantasy relevant so far this year. With only Jerry Jones speaking up on the issue, we have no idea whether or not Bryant will start against the Bengals in week 5. Even if he did start, Bryant may be a suggested sit depending on your bench depth.
Kevin White (WR, CHI)
A sprained ankle has sidelined Bears’ wide receiver Kevin White for now – watch for more news later this week. White has yet to score a TD in the NFL, but with Hoyer playing QB his stats have improved over the beginning of the season. One of these games could prove to be a breakout for White if he avoids serious injury.
Zach Ertz (TE, PHI) & Tyler Eifert (TE, CIN)
Both Ertz and Eifert are scheduled to return to fantasy rosters everywhere. Temper expectations for Eifert in what could be his first game of the season this week, but the Bengals desperately need more targets on that offense and there’s a reason why Eifert is already nowhere to be found on waiver wires. Ertz has been sidelined with a rib injury since week 1, but he’s an exciting prospect with rising star QB Carson Wentz controlling his fantasy destiny. Could be a good year for Ertz.
Chris Johnson (RB, ARZ)
Now on IR indefinitely for a sports-hernia injury, this just means more carries for David Johnson.
Dwayne Washington (RB, DET)
A sprained foot and ankle could sideline Washington for a few games. Be aware of the situation, as The Lions are rapidly losing depth at the position and may look to someone like Karlos Williams or make a trade for other talent at the position if they cannot get healthy.
Doug Martin (RB, TAM)
Looks like Martin will miss one more week (the following week is a bye for the Bucs) and so Sims will continue to fill in as the lead back in Tampa Bay. Not a great play against Carolina, however.
Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
News is starting to bubble up in the media about Gronkowski’s hamstring injury and subsequent lack of fantasy production. Not many people expected him to be this hampered early in the season, but if he can’t perform this week with Brady under center it’s already past time to panic.
Jordan Cameron (TE, MIA)
Cameron is out with another concussion and his past history of them means that we can’t expect him back anytime soon. Deep league? Dion Sims is not a terrible choice at the position against a Titans defense with some holes in it.
Odell Beckham is back! We'll chat about his play in the Giants' game on Monday night, all of the injuries in week 2, and the key plays to get a win for your team in week 3. Tune in and join us LIVE with your questions!
Did you see what happened in Week 1? Crazy talk, people! So #1 picks everywhere are going out to pasture because of David Johnson's wrist injury. We'll talk about what to do now and also with other big injuries around the league. Also, some upside picks for the week, drinks, and bets!
Each new fantasy season comes complete with NFL rule changes and a selection of players scattered onto unfamiliar teams. Draft strategies can change from year-to-year depending on available talent and the fantasy information available. Preseason injuries can cost some players a whole season, changing the fundamental makeup of a team and creating fantasy relevance where there was none previously.
Fantasy football is a passion shared by many - we hope to provide you with insightful articles that help with tough decisions during the season, as well as beer to drink, tv to watch and recipes to make. Good luck! -drinkfive.com