I’m a sucker for my sleepers.
Seriously, I will go down with the ship on a sleeper pick of mine. I will defend my sleepers like I’m Gerard Butler holding off thousands of Persians. Even if things start to get a little rocky, I hold out faith that they will be able to turn it around sooner rather than later. And nothing is better than the feeling of vindication when they finally put it all together and show the world just how talented they really are.
I’ve got strong feelings when it comes to my fantasy football sleepers also.
As readers who frequent my work might have noticed, I have an eclectic group of celebrity crushes. While so many guys are drawn to the big names of the entertainment world – Beyoncé or Megan Fox or Katy Perry to name a few – I like to dig a little deeper and find the gems that few are initially aware of. In past articles, I’ve mentioned my current crushes being Anna Kendrick and Nina Dobrev, well-rounded choices who are on the upswing of their careers. As Kendrick once coined, there’s a sort of “approachable hotness” that each possess which seems to lure me in. But for all the swooning I’ve done over these two starlets, it doesn’t hold a candle to how strong a stance I took with my original celebrity crush, or the letdown that followed.
I was 16 and was flipping around the channels one night when I landed on a show that I had never seen before. Hell, I didn’t even know what the name of it was. All I noticed was this young, sporty brunette with an infectious smile and a unique sense of humor. It took me a few seconds to place who this actress was. I knew I had seen her before, but not like this. Then, like a bug smashing into a windshield, it hit me and the light bulb went on. The name of the show turned out to be “What I Like About You”. The girl was Amanda Bynes.
I swear I spent years trying to convince others that Bynes was underrated when it came to attractive celebs. Not only was she this girl-next-door type who could make you laugh, but she had this underlying sex appeal that made her a dual threat. If Bynes was a RB in a fantasy hot chick league, she would’ve been a PPR monster with all that versatility. Think Deuce McAllister circa 2003. But every time the topic was brought up in conversation (which was way more often than it probably should have), I was mocked and laughed out of the room. “You mean that girl from Nickelodeon? Are you serious?” Nobody else could see what I did. Yet I continued to believe.
Then, in 2010, it all changed. Bynes posed for Maxim and revealed a side of herself (well, many sides of herself) that few knew she had. It was the proof I had been waiting for, proof of something I always knew was there. When I showed friends of mine her photos and saw the double take and accompanying “Daaaaamn” that went along with it, I felt that incredible feeling of vindication (along with other incredible feelings). I knew all along she had immense upside, it just took longer to get there than I planned. The icing on the cake was when she climbed all the way to #15 on Maxim’s Hot 100 for 2010. From obscurity and ridicule all the way to a borderline first-round pick. It was a Hollywood ending.
Of course, we all know that wasn’t the ending. In the time since garnering that prolific ranking, Bynes’ career has fallen off just a smidge. And by smidge, I mean the cumulative effect of eluding police, getting into a fender bender with a police car, fleeing the scene of an accident, smoking pot while driving with a suspended license, locking herself in a clothing store fitting room, locking herself in a bakery bathroom, tweeting at Drake to “commit a felony against her body” (I cleaned that up just a little), getting arrested for throwing drug paraphernalia out her window, wearing various multi-colored wigs after shaving her head, and being placed in an involuntary psych hold. Good luck bringing all that home to Mom and Dad.
Somehow, rather sadly, I still held out a small ray of hope for a comeback, or at least a return to normalcy (kinda makes you wonder if she’s not the only one in need of a psychiatric intervention). The final nail in the coffin came last week when she was again arrested for DUI, cementing her burnout status. Now it’s being reported that Bynes is engaged to a 19-year old bait shop employee. Good. Congratulations. Best of luck in the future. Fact is, this is the best thing that ever could’ve happened to me. I was dead wrong about Amanda Bynes and now I could finally wash my hands of this whole huge mess and move on.
Odds are, you’ve got an Amanda Bynes lurking on your fantasy roster, too. Not your celebrity crush roster, but your football squad. We all came into the season with a few sleeper picks that we thought would push us to championship glory. For me, I was enamored with the volume potential of Toby Gerhart in Jacksonville and thought he could become consistent RB2 material. You might call me crazy (again), but you’re probably in the same boat Mr. Cordarelle-Patterson-is-this-year’s-Josh-Gordon. How’s that working out for ya? Or how about Torrey Smith? Or Chris Johnson? Or Robert Griffin?
For as much as we wanted to believe in these guys in the preseason, it’s time to face facts. We got it wrong. And that’s ok. A championship roster can include a big-time whiff. What it can’t have is an owner who hangs on to potential longer than he or she should. You can no longer afford to have your starting lineup anchored down because you can’t quit a summertime fling. None of these guys should be anywhere near your lineup at this point, and I can argue that, with the exception of Patterson, none of them even deserve to be rostered. It might be difficult to admit you were wrong, but it’s the first step on the road to recovery.
So consider this a precautionary tale. We’re almost halfway through the fantasy regular season and it’s time to break up with your failed sleeper picks. Choose not to do so and you could very well miss out on the new hotness on the block, like Branden Oliver or Allie LaForce (still mad at you, CBS Sports Network, for cancelling Lead Off). The only parting gifts your stubbornness will bestow upon you are two points out of your flex spot and having to wake up every morning next to this.
Just one more stroll down memory lane this week and that’s to take a look at my calls from this past Sunday. Definitely a boom-or-bust edition so let’s see what we can take away from some interesting Week 5 performances:
Week 5 Hits:
Vincent Jackson – Standard scoring: 14.4 pts; MLFS scoring: 29.15 pts
Ben Tate – Standard scoring: 12.1 pts; MLFS scoring: 16.9 pts
Brian Quick – Standard scoring: 20.7 pts; MLFS scoring: 25.7 pts
Jeremy Hill – Standard scoring: 6.9 pts; MLFS scoring: 9.9 pts
Week 5 Misses:
Kelvin Benjamin – Standard scoring: 1.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 2.8 pts
Chris Ivory – Standard scoring: 4.4 pts; MLFS scoring: 4.4 pts
Markus Wheaton – Standard scoring: 1.7 pts; MLFS scoring: 2.7 pts
Denard Robinson – Standard scoring: 0.5 pts; MLFS scoring: 2.6 pts
Marvin Jones – DNP
Certainly back doored my way into covering the Jeremy Hill call as he got very little in the way of touches until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. The NFL is a week-to-week league and I usually know better than to get caught up in the results of previous games like I did with these two squads. The dead giveaway to this game should’ve been the Vegas spread (CIN -1.5), and this was a strong clue as to how this game would unfold. As has been stated by others before me, if the spread of a game seems to good to be true, it probably is. Everyone who thought the Bengals were going to lay the wood against New England would’ve been well served to second guess their opinion based on this line, and that’s another useful tool in predicting how a game might unfold. Make sure to check not only game lines, but also game and team over/unders. We’re trying to predict the future here, so any small amount of information you can gain is valuable.
When it comes to seeing into the future, you might think my outlook on Brian Quick comes up all roses. After all, he’s put up solid WR2 numbers a quarter of the way through the season. But if you’re looking for this level of production to continue, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. The majority of the numbers Quick put up against the Eagles were late in the contest as St. Louis made a furious comeback attempt against one of the poorer secondaries in the league. Poor defense has been a common theme among the Rams’ first four opponents of the year. That schedule is about to get a whole lot tougher in the coming weeks. St. Louis’ next five games go like this: vs. SF, vs. SEA, @KC, @SF, @ARI. A murderer’s row of defensive challengers if there ever was one. Based on that, I’m selling Quick right here and right now. It’s a great story and, if you ran with him this past week, one I’m sure you hate to close the book on, but this is the time to cash out and make the most of your profit.
It was a disappointing day if you were banking on Kelvin Benjamin to put up solid numbers as I was. Three catches for 38 yards was hardly what you were expecting against a Bears’ defense without their #1 CB, Charles Tillman. You’d be wise not to let yourself get caught up in this poor outcome when assessing Benjamin for the rest of the season. He’s seen 47 targets already and hasn’t had less than eight in any single game in 2014. In a league where dominant #1 receivers on a team are slowly disappearing in favor of WR corps with targets spread amongst multiple options, Benjamin is unquestionably the top outside option for Cam Newton and the Panthers. Outside of matchups with Cincinnati and Seattle in the next three weeks, Carolina’s schedule is pillowy soft the rest of the way and makes Benjamin a slam dunk WR2 for the duration.
I blame Chris Ivory’s poor day on the absolutely pitiful QB play in New York right now. Hard to expect any RB to have a decent fantasy day when your passing game only puts up 60 total yards. Thanks, Geno. When Terrell Owens said, “Getcha popcorn ready”, I don’t think this is what he had in mind. For me, the Jets are bordering on Raiders-status when it comes to fantasy. It’s getting dangerously close to the point where you can’t reasonably start anyone on this team as long as the man under center is this woefully inept, and that includes Michael Vick. If you want/have to take your chances with Ivory or Decker against the Broncos, I won’t hammer you for it. But be forewarned, this isn’t the last time the Jets will look like a JV offense this season.
We’re onto Week 6 and another week of just two teams on a bye (Saints, Chiefs), so lots of options to choose from. A rash of injuries to fantasy starters means there are some intriguing opportunities to be had, starting with one in the Motor City that’s primed for ignition:
Golden Tate, WR (DET) – If you weren’t buying in to all the hype surrounding Golden Tate and his coveted position across from Calvin Johnson, I can forgive you. After all, we’d seen other WRs flounder when given the same opportunity. The last two weeks, however, Tate has flipped roles with Johnson due to Megatron’s lingering high ankle sprain and become the featured option for Matthew Stafford to the tune of 15 catches for 250 yards and a TD. There’s a very real chance that Johnson sits altogether in this one, meaning another week of Tate as the go-to guy against a Vikings defense that’s in the top 10 of most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. I’m not worried about this being a road game for Detroit nor do I think Minnesota will roll coverage to Tate should Johnson not be playing the role of decoy this week. In the last two weeks, I’ve dusted off Keenan Allen and Vincent Jackson as recommended player eliminator picks. This is the week you’ll want to burn Golden Tate if you haven’t already done so.
Expectation: Top-12 WR
Ben Tate, RB (CLE) – I recommended Tate last week not just here, but also numerous times on my weekly Saturday morning fantasy chat on Reddit five days ago. He responded with 22 carries for 124 yards against Tennessee. So why do I feel the need to talk him up again? Tate, and more specifically, Tate owners suffer from what I like to call “DeMarco Murray syndrome”. For the past couple years, the knock on Murray was that he couldn’t stay healthy and that knocked his draft stock down into the mid teens among RBs. When he was healthy, it seemed like Murray was always underrated in weekly ranks because of that same lingering mindset. Fact is, when Murray played he was fantastic, and the same will end up being said of Tate. If you want to call him a mid- to low-end RB2 for the season because you’re worried about his injury history, I can’t argue with that. But week-to-week, Tate is closer to RB1 status, especially with the attrition at the position and the matchup this week against the Steelers. Yes, the same Steelers that surrendered 191 yards on the ground to Cleveland in Week 1. And for those of you still fearing that he’ll cede carries to Crowell or West, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Browns had been rumored to be after Ben Tate since September… of 2013! If the team wanted him that bad, you better believe they’re going to give him every opportunity imaginable to prove he’s worth it.
Expectation: Top-12 RB
Michael Floyd, WR (ARI) – If any WR has been exemplifying the boom-or-bust approach so far in 2014, it’d have to be Michael Floyd. You’ve either gotten five catches and over 100 yards from him, or one catch and a whole lot of agitation. Frustrating for sure, but now is not the time to think about sitting Floyd. First of all, he faces a Washington defense coming off a short week and a matchup with Seattle. In 2013, teams that played the Seahawks the week before typically experienced a post-Seattle hangover in their next game due to the physical style of play they faced. Add in that Washington is allowing the second highest QB-rating to opposing signal callers and Carson Palmer could be in for a nice day. That’s right, I said Carson Palmer. Indications are that he could very well be back for this game should his current progression continue. He was the QB for Floyd’s first 100-yard game this season, and could very well be the QB for his next one. Nothing’s for sure at this point, but I predict a big game for Floyd if Palmer plays, decent game if it’s Stanton at QB, and if the job falls into Logan Thomas’ lap, I’m a little more skiddish.
Expectation: Top-15 WR w/Palmer; Top-25 WR otherwise
DeAndre Hopkins, WR (HOU) – Being that the Hot List comes out every Thursday, I typically like to include at least one name from the Thursday night game (I use the word “game” very loosely based on early season results). I felt bad leaving out last week’s Vikings-Packers tilt, but I didn’t really think there were any options beyond the obvious that were worth mentioning (which proved to be rather true). This week’s Colts-Titans matchup gives me a few more options, but none I like better than DeAndre Hopkins. A short week does no favors for Andre Johnson, who is listed as questionable heading into tonight’s contest, which could mean a big opportunity for Hopkins. The Colts gave up 350 passing yards last year when they traveled to Houston and could be on the receiving end of another Hopkins highlight tonight.
Expectation: Top-16 WR
Wes Welker, WR (DEN) – I’m a firm believer that Peyton Manning likes to keep all of his pass catchers happy. So far we’ve seen Julius Thomas explode for seven touchdowns in four games, Emmanuel Sanders record three 100-yard games, and just last week, Demaryius Thomas got off the snide by simply setting a Broncos’ team record with 226 yards. In two games, Welker has 13 catches, 118 yards and zero touchdowns. Peyton should have his choice of targets against the Jets who frankly can’t stop anybody from putting up huge numbers in the passing game, let alone the greatest to ever play the position (in my opinion). I think Manning makes a concerted effort to get the ball to Welker and the Texas Tech product manages his first double digit fantasy day of the season as the Broncos wreck the Jets.
Expectation: Top-24 WR
C.J. Anderson, RB (DEN) – There was no way I was going to be able to talk flex plays without addressing the new Denver Broncos backfield situation sans Montee Ball. It’s just too intriguing and to up-in-the-air not to speculate on. Everyone seems to have penciled in Ronnie Hillman as the next in line and, I’ll admit, he didn’t look all that bad spelling Ball on Sunday. But this notion that Hillman’s just going to take the job and run with it, even supplanting Ball when he returns, is ridiculous to me. This is his third year in Denver and the Broncos have given him opportunities in the past, only to see him passed by the likes of Knowshon Moreno and now Ball on the depth chart. Nothing’s changed, folks. He’s still the same guy. And while Juwan Thompson got a TD in relief against the Cardinals, the player who’s really got my attention is C.J. Anderson. Before you start with the whole “he wasn’t even active last week” argument, understand the context. Anderson is not a special teams contributor and, that far down the depth chart, that’s exactly what the Broncos needed to suit up. Thus, Anderson was inactive while the other two filled in post-injury. The story changes now and, even though I can see Hillman being the more productive fantasy back for this game, I believe Anderson will be the biggest beneficiary of Ball’s absence over the course of the next few weeks. Best part about it? While Hillman was almost assuredly snapped up with a premium waiver claim already, there’s a good chance Anderson is still sitting on the wire just waiting for you to snatch him up. Like Ben Stiller says in Starsky & Hutch, “Do it… do it.”
Expectation: Top-36 RB
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR (NYG) – If there’s one tendency that the Hot List can be rightly pegged for having, it’s picking on the Philadelphia secondary. In four of five weeks I’ve recommended using a WR against them, including Quick last week. The only exception was Week 2 when I plugged Ahmad Bradshaw in large part due to his pass-catching ability. We keep it rolling here with ODB fresh off his season debut and first career touchdown in last week’s game against the Falcons. As I mentioned earlier in my discussion of Kelvin Benjamin, more and more teams are going away from a defined #1 receiving option and spreading the ball around like we’ve come to expect from the Saints. I think a prime example is the target distribution thus far for the Giants among Randle (40), Cruz (38) and Donnell (32). Now add in Beckham, who got five targets last week, and it’s a proverbial crap shoot in terms of who puts up a solid stat line, in which case, I buy in at the cheapest level possible. Beckham looks the part of a first-round receiver and he has physical tools wrapped up in one package that Cruz and Randle don’t. Eli will enjoy his new toy even more this week against that Swiss cheese known as the Eagles’ pass defense. I think Beckham is worthy of a pickup if you’re in need of a WR and has as good a shot of any of the Giants’ pass catchers to walk away with 70+ yards and a TD.
Expectation: Top-40 WR
Storm Johnson, RB (JAC) – Every year there’s a team whose running back situation becomes like a Rubik’s cube to me, and I become obsessed with figuring it out and unearthing the value that I think is there. For whatever reason, that team in 2014 has become the Jacksonville Jaguars (gulp). Maybe this is the after-effect of being spurned by
Amanda Bynes Toby Gerhart, but I still believe this situation is worth mining. They’ve got a young QB in Bortles that I really like and a handful of up-and-coming options in the passing game as well. This team is not the dearth of offensive talent that the Jets or Raiders are. Usually, that means there’s at least some value in the RB tied to that offense. It’s proven so far not to be in Gerhart or Denard Robinson, so I’m onto number three as it looks like the Jags are as well. Storm Johnson only had four carries for 27 yards last week, but when a 20-yard run incites all sorts of excitement (as much excitement as can be had over a Jaguars’ RB), you roll with it. I’m very interested to see what Johnson can do with double-digit touches against Tennessee and their 30th ranked rush defense (now insert weather-related pun to close – I prefer “there’s a Storm a-brewing”).
Expectation: Top-40 RB
Robert Woods, WR (BUF) – E.J. Manuel and I both attended Bayside High School (our principal was not Mr. Belding however), so it absolutely pains me to say that the Bills made the right move going to Kyle Orton, speaking from a strictly on-field perspective. Amazing what a little accuracy can do to some passing numbers. Also amazing is what can happen when a receiver is marooned on Revis Island, which is exactly where I expect Sammy Watkins to be all day long. That should mean an increased number of looks for complimentary weapons like Robert Woods. Woods is tied for second on the team with 33 targets, but has just 14 catches to show for it, thanks in large part to the inaccuracy of Manuel early on. Woods makes for quite the deep league play this week, especially in PPR leagues.
Expectation: Top-50 WR
Ronnie Brown, RB (SD) – Yes, you read that correctly. Due to the rash of injuries to Chargers’ running backs, the team has resigned the recently cut Ronnie Brown. This is a strong indication that Donald Brown will not be a go after suffering a concussion on Sunday. The popular pickup this week has been Branden Oliver, as it should be after the way he came in relief of Donald Brown against the jets. I’m not convinced San Diego wants to see Oliver getting north of 25 touches the way their luck with RBs has been so far this season, so I expect Ronnie Brown to come in and grab a few of those touches immediately, including a potential touchdown vulturization (don’t care what you say, that’s a real word to me). He’s only a pickup in the deepest of deep leagues, but the 5-7 carries he gets could net you a very valuable six points.
Expecation: Top-50 RB
That’ll do it for this week, but as always you can find me on Twitter @sharpshot3ball for any lineup or trade questions you may have. Or maybe you’d like to laugh at my Amanda Bynes crush even more. That’s cool, too.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________(click link below to listen live) Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday October 12th from 11am-12pm EST for this weeks episode of Major League Fantasy Football Radio sponsored by theSports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. Our guests this week areRyan Ingram and Jeff Nelson. Ryan writes a weekly article every Friday discussing QBs/TEs and who to get into your line up that week. Ryan is also an owner in Major League Fantasy Football. Jeff Nelson is the DB Coach for White Hall H.S. in PA. and a two-time MLFF Champion. We will be taking questions on offense, individual defensive players, or Team Defenses/Special Teams. Be sure and check out Bryan Robinsonevery Saturday on /r/fantasyfootball on Reddit. He will be doing a live question & answer session so take advantage. Here is a link from his Q&A from week 4.