You guys have a ton of articles.
This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.
If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.
1. Dynasty Buy Low, Sell High
Sigmund Bloom's Buy Low, Sell High examines a number of formats and scenarios beyond weekly transactional plays. This week, Bloom focuses on players who aren't earning high-production roles on their current teams this year who could be in store for more in 2019 and beyond.
Here are some of the more intriguing options from the feature (with my thoughts in parenthesis at the end of each):
Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, WR, KC - We should already have this duo on our watchlists because of the offense they play in right now and the high overall athletic ability ceilings they present. They become even more intriguing when you consider that Conley is going to be a free agent next year and could be coveted in a thin wide receiver free agent market, which will likely, in turn, promote Robinson on the depth chart with Sammy Watkins and his not-so-durable body ahead of him. (Conley and Robinson would fit well in offenses that utilize them more with red zone fade routes.).
Jason Croom, TE, BUF - Croom is a converted wide receiver who appears to be on his way to bigger things as a pro tight end. He is just scratching the surface of his abilities and the Bills receiving weapon cupboard is not very full. Charles Clay might be about to break down just as Croom is ready to assume a larger role. (Croom has a play-making mentality that stands out in a bad situation. The Bills have shown little imagination with personnel, so counting on Croom sooner than later is not advised. However, he is worth a patience play behind Clay.)
Spencer Ware, RB, KC - Ware still looks like a starting quality NFL running back when he gets a chance to touch the ball and he’s going to be a 27-year-old free agent next spring. Someone is going to sign him to play a larger role than he did for the Chiefs this year. (Think of Ware as the Mike Davis option to a Chris Carson lead back somewhere next year. It's not exciting but Ware could easily become the lead back for a team if called upon. Don't overpay, though, because the constant influx of quality runners into the league renders older committee backs useless. If Ware winds up in Houston, Philadelphia, or Carolina, he could be worth your attention.)
Tyrell Williams, WR, LAC - Even though Williams target share hasn’t been increasing this year, his big play conversion rate is, and his game is more well-rounded than it was in his breakout year of 2016. He will be one of the biggest prizes at wide receiver in free agency next year, although there is always volatility when changing quarterbacks and offenses. (Agree. Cleveland, Indianapolis and Miami could be worthwhile destinations.)
TJ Yeldon, RB, JAX - Yeldon might seem like a miss as a second-round pick, but he has actually been as successful as Leonard Fournette as a runner over the last two years, and he has made huge leaps as a receiver. He could conceivably be seen as a three-down back with a lot of treads left on the tires as a 25-year-old entering free agency. (No idea where he goes but he'll likely be a prized backup to a big-time starter and worth cuffing to that back.)
Chris Warren, RB, OAK - This one fits more in the upcoming Snorkel/Scuba/Submarine series, but don’t sleep on Warren. He was a one-man gang in the preseason and the Raiders have a likely vacancy at running back next year. He can be stashed in an IR spot right now and should get a chance to endear himself to Jon Gruden next year. (Bingo.)
Ian Thomas, TE, CAR - Like Smith, Thomas has appeared in this column already this year for a lot of the reasons about to be stated. He flashed in the preseason and won over the team immediately - enough to make him the backup entering the season. Greg Olsen is back and playing well right now but will need another foot surgery this offseason. The Panthers offense is taking off under Norv Turner’s guidance and Thomas could add to the matchup problems they present. He is due to arrive in fantasy in the next year or two. (Thomas is a smooth athlete who can catch. Will he be on Olsen's level of play? Probably not but he could earn enough volume that the difference will be hard to notice.)
Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR - Brown had a touchdown reception earlier this year that highlighted very impressive body control for a running back known as a bruiser coming out of Texas. He has improved as a receiver and appears to be ready to do a lot more than the Rams ask of because they have someone named Todd Gurley at running back. Brown is only a restricted free agent next year, but with John Kelly waiting the wings, the Rams may not commit a lot of money to him via their tender and leave him exposed to a running back-hungry team. (There are very few RB-hungry teams in the NFL and Brown won't be coveted despite his ability due to his lack of top speed and the perception that he's a backup. Yes, the NFL is often that perception-driven.)
Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI - Goedert has had a few false breakout weeks this year, but it’s obvious that he has the goods as a receiving tight end to make a big splash in fantasy leagues eventually, and he’s in a good organization and offense to maximize his talents. He will play more like a big slot receiver with some potential as a vertical target and with the low bar for fantasy relevance at tight end, he’ll arrive sooner or later. (It takes 2-3 seasons for a tight end to transition from a college star to an NFL star. Goedert is a great bet to continue his trajectory toward stardom.)
Keke Coutee, WR, HOU - The Texans love Coutee and made him a key tactical element as soon as he could get on the field even though that took a while because of a preseason hamstring injury. He has shown us great ball skills and ability to get open in the short zone, but it’s clear that his hamstring has kept him from tapping into the lethal speed he used to get behind defenses with regularity at Texas Tech. He’s still just scratching the surface of his potential.(Must-buy.)
Richie James, WR, SF - James defied the odds by making the team at a crowded position as a seventh-round pick, and now he’s getting playing time over more established players at the beginning of the season. Dante Pettis isn’t making the most of his opportunity and with Pierre Garcon possibly on the way out this offseason, there will be snaps and targets available in an offense that should be a candidate to get a lot more explosive and efficient next year. (Dante Pettis hasn't stayed healthy and it's likely that the leg issue is bothering him more than publicized. Pettis' emergence next year won't hurt James' opportunities because Kyle Shanahan will give his receivers opportunities to move around and both Pettis and James can work multiple spots.)
2. DFS Roundtable: (un)Trustworthy Offenses
Chad Parsons heads a weekly Daily Fantasy panel for a discussion on a variety of topics. One of this week's topics included a conversation about four struggling offenses and which the staff trusts the most heading into the weekend.
WHICH OFFENSE DO YOU TRUST THE MOST FOR DFS PLAY(S) THIS WEEK AND WHY?
- Buccaneers (high over-under at Giants, but more bad Fitzpatrick than good)
- Cardinals vs. Raiders (low total, trust the running backs?)
- Bengals (at Baltimore)
- Texans (low total, road favorite at Washington)
James Brimacombe: At first glance, I was going to say no way I trust the Buccaneers this week but out of this bunch and the more that I look at the numbers I prefer them out of the Cardinals, Raiders, Bengals, and Texans. The matchups are just too tough for the other teams and for the Buccaneers to get a road matchup against the Giants just seems like a sneaky shootout type of game where you have two bad teams that can fire touchdowns back and forth. I think you have to give Ryan Fitzpatrick another look this week just based on the matchup alone and pairing him with Mike Evans could be popular but looking at Chris Godwin might be a nice alternative. Godwin caught 7 of 7 passes last week for 103 yards and we know what kind of connection he had with Fitzpatrick to open the season as the two connected for a touchdown in each of the first three games.
Justin Howe: I’m still looking toward Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers, who don’t stop to focus on silly points like efficiency. Regardless of game flow, they’ll always look to bombard with wild passing volume. Even if Fitzpatrick finds himself boxed in by defensive gameplan, as he was against the Panthers, he projects to score far beyond his DFS salary. With an arsenal of receivers that produces and runs the salary gamut, there are always numerous attractive stacking options. Pair him with a still-too-cheap Chris Godwin and/or Mike Evans, who could have his way downfield against a struggling Janoris Jenkins. Fitzpatrick is Fitzpatrick, but Vegas, common sense and the DFS salary-making system are begging us to take the leap.
Phil Alexander: Buccaneers at Giants could be a high-scoring game. Or it could be a complete stink-bomb between two awful teams. As I much as I'd like to go back to Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay pass-catchers, I'm leery of head coach Dirk Koetter taking over play-calling from offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who was doing a fantastic job.
I'll go with the Cardinals offense at home against the flat-lining Raiders. In two games as Arizona's play-caller, Byron Leftwich has shown a commitment to feature his best players -- namely David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. Johnson turned back the clock to 2016 with 21 carries, 9 targets, 183 total yards, and 2 touchdowns last week against the Chiefs. He should be able to keep it going against an Oakland defense that has been smoked by Marlon Mack (25-132-2), Nyheim Hines (11-78-0), Raheem Mostert (7-86-1), and Melvin Gordon III III (165 total yards and a touchdown) in recent weeks.
Fitzgerald has received double-digit targets in both games with Leftwich as offensive coordinator. Wide receivers in his price tier on PPR sites do not typically come with at least 10 targets all but locked in.
Dan Hindery: I trust the Buccaneers to put up fantasy numbers. They may fumble it away in the red zone but the passing offense has been incredibly prolific even in the ugliest losses. For example, even in stumbling to just 3 points in an embarrassing 16-3 loss, the Buccaneers still threw for 406 yards, had two 100+ yard receivers, and 5 receivers with 50+ yards.
On the season, Tampa Bay is averaging a ridiculous 361.2 passing yards per game. They are throwing the ball often (41.6 per game) and efficiently (8.7 yards per attempt). Only turnovers are holding them back.
BJ VanderWoude: I trust the Bucs much more than the other teams on this list. The Bengals struggled without AJ Green taking coverage away from Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon will have to contend with defenses stacking the box much more than they were earlier in the season. I like how the Texans are playing, but they don't provide the overall volume that the Bucs do. Tampa Bay does not run the ball, and even with teams knowing this, Fitzpatrick still delivered his fourth 400+ yard performance in five starts. As far as fantasy goes, he is a stable play and one that comes at a steep discount compared to any other quarterback who is a threat to throw for that many yards each week. Mike Evans should rebound this week, OJ Howard has become a necessary play each week at tight end, and Chris Godwin/Desean Jackson are both secondary targets with upside that come at a discount. Each week they are overlooked, yet Fitzpatrick and company continue to put up fantasy points.
Matt's Thoughts: This is a good example of fantasy analysts telling you to trust a good offense with a streaky quarterback to rebound and for the correct reasons. Don't lose trust in the Buccaneers receiving corps based on the optics of a week or two. Continue to go to the well with Evans, Godwin, and Howard.
3. IDP Matchups to Exploit And Avoid
Dave Larkin's matchups feature takes "a critical look at key statistical trends to highlight pass rushing and tackle matchups to exploit and avoid."
Here's a little more detail about the weekly column:
We'll be heavily relying on another great feature at FBG this season, the IDP Matchup Spreadsheet that will be generated by Aaron Rudnicki. That spreadsheet will contain a few weekly and weekly average statistical measures to help identify those defensive teams who are facing the best and worst opportunity as the season progresses. While this column will include analysis of tackle and pass rush opportunity and matchup data, it's only a fraction of the data available in the spreadsheet. We hope that the Matchup Spreadsheet and this column will join John Norton's weekly IDP projections, Doug Drinen's Matchup Analyzer Tool and our customizable MyFBG function as useful tools to assist in making weekly line-up and waiver wire decisions.
The tables are easy to read and give you a clear idea of where the potential advantages will be each week. Here are some of Larkin's recommendations to exploit and avoid beginning with pass rushing and ending with tackling.
(Exploit) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS PASS RUSHERS VS. DENVER OFFENSIVE LINE
The Chargers will hope to continue their march towards the postseason with a division win against a team going the opposite direction. Los Angeles’ roster is well balanced and their defense – even sans Joey Bosa – has shown its mettle on many occasions this season.
Denver, meanwhile, has been all at sea and has asked Case Keenum to drop back an average of 39.4 times per game – not the recipe for success. This one might remain competitive, but the Chargers are the much better team and have the horses on defense to bring a world of hurt to the Broncos, who may, even at this early stage, be sneaking a sideways glance at their January tee times.
Key stat: The Chargers average pressure on 16.8% of opponent dropbacks, hitting the quarterback 6.4 times per game.
(Avoid) PHILADELPHIA PASS RUSHERS AT NEW ORLEANS
How can a team that averages pressure on 21.2% of dropbacks and nine quarterback hits per game be considered a fade? It all comes down to the matchup in this case, as an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. However, the Eagles pass rush has yet to come up against such a formidable and stifling offensive line this season. The Saints boast a ridiculous chemistry up front, giving up just one sack and three hits per game on average.
The Eagles could muster a decent fight here; after all, their NFC East title chances may hang in the balance. They can approach this contest with a devil-may-care type of attitude at the same time. Nobody expects the visitors to pull off the upset. The smart play here has to be a fade of Eagles defenders, as in all likelihood it will be yet another Saints stroll in the Superdome.
Key stat: The Saints are allowing a league-low pressure percentage of 8.5%.
(Exploit) WASHINGTON DEFENDERS VS. HOUSTON
TVO factor: 1.184 (8th in the league)
One of the truly bizarre statistics this season is that the Redskins have yet to see a lead change in one of their games. They either lead the whole way with their run-heavy approach or falter early and never claw their way back into things. It is difficult to project this inter-conference matchup, but the expectation must be for Houston to continue their hot streak.
The Texans offer a balanced approach offensively and run the football on 46% of plays, behind only Seattle and Tennessee, so this could be a fruitful outing for Washington defensive options. The TVO factor makes it even more enticing. If things go to script, Houston should be able to control things and keep Washington off balance with a balance of their own: a run-pass variety.
Key stat: Houston’s offense allows 53.8 tackle opportunities per game, one of the best matchups in the league.
(Avoid) OAKLAND DEFENDERS AT ARIZONA
TVO factor: 1.097 (21st)
Things have been dour for the Cardinals this season overall, but last week’s defeat at the hands of red-hot Kansas City may inspire them for the stretch run. Certainly, one could argue Josh Rosen is beginning to hit his stride, replacing iffy throws and decisions with more mature reads and releases. Then again, he is still a rookie quarterback, prone to all the mistakes that status carries with it.
Byron Leftwich has certainly made his mark as Cardinals offensive coordinator. In just two games, the unit looks transformed, with David Johnson carrying a sizable load. The Raiders present a less than formidable opposition, and the trend suggests that Arizona’s tackle opportunities allowed are on the increase, but it is still difficult to trust their ability to truly sustain. Therefore, the best play here is fade your Raiders.
Key stat: Arizona’s offense has only allowed 41.6 tackle opportunities per game, the lowest mark in the league.
Matt's Thoughts: I wish I profiled this feature earlier in the season. David delivers a piece that you should be using when acquiring bye-week options from the waiver wire or injury replacements from this point forward in your IDP leagues. It also could give you some decent supporting intel to tip the scales for lesser-known offensive players worth starting.
For example, this information could be a decent tiebreaking indicator for a Cardinals receiver if you're desperate to start one of them (think of Christian Kirk making an Oakland defender miss and reaching the end zone on a short or intermediate route over the middle or a one-on-one situation after the catch).
4. Dynasty Rankings MOvement
Since we've already checked in with a long-term Buy Low, Sell High, let's continue with Dynasty Rankings Movement, Jeff Terfertiller's feature:
Each week, Footballguys staff members will share the big movers in their respective Dynasty Rankings. Since the contributors will rotate, please check in weekly. The focus of this article will be on the “why” more than the movement itself. Dynasty Rankings are fluid and we hope that sharing the rationale will help you in your quest to create dynasties with all your teams. The diversity of rankings will result in a variety of opinions weekly.
Here are some notable thoughts from Dan Hindery and Andy Hicks, two members on this week's panel:
Dan Hindery: Russell Wilson - Wilson seemingly slides a spot or two each time I update my quarterback rankings. He was the fantasy QB1 last season in large part due to the complete lack of a running game in Seattle, which forced Wilson to shoulder the entire offensive load. It was a losing formula. The Seahawks fully committed to improving the running game in the offseason, signing offensive linemen who are better as run blockers and investing a first-rounder in a running back. The coaching staff also has been steadfast in sticking to a run-heavy approach in calling the games. The commitment to the run is paying off and we are starting to see a winning formula emerge (close losses to the Rams aside). The result of all this — Russell Wilson ranks 26th in the league in pass attempts and isn’t a very good weekly option for fantasy. It is hard to see that changing any time soon if the improved run-game leads to more wins than the Wilson-centric offense of 2017.
Matt's Thoughts: I think this is a buy-low opportunity for Wilson if you can get him at a fantasy QB2 price with the expectation that his receiver situation will improve, the offense will become more balanced, and he will eventually outperform expectation. Although the Seahawks line has improved, it's the cohesiveness as a run-blocking unit that has emerged first. The pass protection remains the final frontier for this line and Wilson is still dealing with defensive pressure that he can't avoid.
Expect the Seahawks to invest in another receiver for this offense during the offseason, because the younger options didn't emerge. Wilson's value should stabilize to low-end fantasy QB1 value within the next year.
Andy Hicks: Nick Chubb - For once it looks like the Browns knew what they had with a rookie. Carlos Hyde was doing a solid job, but he was only keeping the seat warm until they felt it time to unleash the Nick Chubb. Unleash him they have, with at least 18 carries in his last four games and an average of one touchdown over that time. His yards per rush total is 5.2 since he became the starter and he even caught three passes against the Falcons. This is an RB1 moving forward and if there is any way you can get your hands on him, do so.
Hindery: Nick Chubb - The rookie running back class (outside of Saquon Barkley) got off to a rough start across the board. We are seeing the value of a lot of these guys start to bounce back as they start to show why they were such highly touted prospects. None more so than Chubb who has taken full advantage of the Carlos Hyde trade to make a big impact on an improving young Cleveland offense. Chubb looks like a franchise back moving forward. The two big questions still to be resolved in terms of Chubb’s value are his role in the passing game and the overall effectiveness of the Browns offense. Since the Hyde trade, Chubb has averaged 2.3 targets per game. Not awful but it is impossible to consider him alongside the elite fantasy running backs in PPR leagues if Duke Johnson Jr Jr gets most of the passing work. As far as the overall Browns offense, we are seeing some good signs but it remains to be seen if the front office can continue to add pieces (especially at wide receiver and left tackle) and make a good offensive coaching hire.
Matt's Thoughts: Chubb's yards after contact leads the league by a healthy margin, which is an indication of his speed, power, and agility behind a line that's good inside the tackle box but struggling with its overall tackle play. Duke Johnson Jr earned nine targets in Week 9 but it's been a near-even split in targets for Chubb and Johnson in Weeks 8 and 10, so it may be too hasty to deem Johnson the default passing-down back this early.
Hindery has rightful skepticism about the Browns organization hiring the best people and giving the best people the room to do their jobs. I'm more optimistic about Cleveland than I've been since the organization's rebirth. If you're going to invest big on a back, Chubb is a good long-term buy.
Hindery:Jarvis Landry - Landry is a faller for the second straight update. Even with the Browns young offense showing real potential over the last two weeks, Landry has been a non-factor. On the season, he has been incredibly inefficient, catching just 53.8% of his targets and averaging just 10.5 yards per catch. He was only being kept aloft as a viable fantasy option by the huge number of targets he was seeing. That is starting to change. Landry saw his targets decrease for the fourth consecutive week, getting just five looks in Week 10. His dynasty value feels like it is in free fall, especially as young receivers like Kenny Golladay, Courtland Sutton, Anthony Miller, and Calvin Ridley are generating hype and moving up the ranks.
Matt's Thoughts: This bears watching because Landry has the talent to return as a top option with a good offensive fit and better quarterback play. He's a buy-low for a team that isn't going to rely on him as a weekly starter but could use a first-tier substitute whose value could rise in a better situation. Think of Landry as a player who could wind up in a Rams or Bears-like transformation in Cleveland with the right coach.
Hindery: Austin Hooper - Hooper was my favorite breakout candidate this offseason, and we are starting to see him emerge as a legitimate weekly TE1. In fact, Hooper ranks as the TE7 over halfway through the season. Plus, he just turned 24-years old in October. With tight ends notoriously late developing, we don’t yet know how much upside Hooper truly possesses.
Hicks: Austin Hooper - Austin Hooper is rapidly escalating from borderline starter to must start every week. Over the last five weeks, he has had two nine catch games and a double-figure one as well. Add in a couple of touchdowns and his ascent into the elite is almost complete. The Falcons have many targets, so he will put in some so-so weeks as well, but when the Falcons feel they can utilize his strengths, he will dominate.
Matt's Thoughts: Andy and Dan's points about Hooper's age and the uptick in his production volume are compelling — especially given Atlanta's lack of targets to him in the red zone as a 50/50 weapon. I expected more of these targets for Hooper at this point but I'm beginning to wonder if the lack of targets has more to do with Matt Ryan, who I can't remember throwing many of these routes to players. It's something I need to research more.
5. Jeff Haseley's Fantasy Overview
This week, Haseley profiles potential bench gems with good starting opportunities for the weekend.
- Eli Manning, NYG (vs Tampa Bay) - We saw Eli Manning have some success against San Francisco last week, which perhaps spiked his confidence level. The Giants have some pieces on offense and are not a fantasy wasteland. Throw in a home game vs the Buccaneers and Manning becomes somewhat appealing. On average, Tampa Bay allows 306 yards passing to opposing quarterbacks with 2.6 touchdown passes per game - a league-high.
- Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry, TEN (vs Indianapolis) - Dion Lewis has been the Titans lead back in terms of carries for each of the last two games, totaling 19 and 20 carries with 6 receptions. This week's opponent, Indianapolis, has allowed 10 receptions to running backs and 98 yards rushing on average over the last three games. Derrick Henry also enters the equation, but Lewis is more versatile as a receiving back and could benefit the most. Henry has four scores in the last three games, but his carry totals have decreased while Lewis' have increased.
- D.J. Moore, CAR (at Detroit) -The Panthers are a run-heavy team, but Detroit has been poor against the pass over the last four games, allowing eight touchdowns to wide receivers (2 per game), including two 100-yard efforts last week at Chicago. the main receiving options for Carolina are Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen, and Devin Funchess, but Moore is close behind, plus he has the rushing ability as well with sizeable rushes in five of the last six games.
- Demaryius Thomas (HOU) at Washington - Washington has allowed at least one wide receiver touchdown in six of nine games this year and they have been especially porous in the last three games allowing a 100-yard receiver in each. Since Week 7, Washington has allowed on average, 16 receptions to wide receivers and 235 yards. DeAndre Hopkins will surely benefit, but that also could mean Demaryius Thomas will see increased activity in his second game as a Texans receiver. Washington is 5th worst in fantasy points against wide receivers over the last four games. This is a good matchup for Houston and Thomas who will look to show what he can bring to the table for the Texans who have six straight wins.
- Michael Roberts, DET (vs Carolina) The Panthers have allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends this season, including a score in seven of nine games and five touchdowns in the last three games. Start your tight ends vs the Panthers.