“Round Robinson”: FLEXual Tension (The RB/WR Hot List for Week 7)
I’m switching it up a little this week and jumping straight into the analysis. There’s a lot to react to after another week of injuries and failed expectations. Speaking of falling short of expectations, let’s venture back to last week’s list and see what we can’t make out of some very interesting situations:
Week 6 Hits:
Ben Tate – Standard scoring: 19.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 19.8 pts
Storm Johnson – Standard scoring: 7.7 pts; MLFS scoring: 9.1 pts
Robert Woods – Standard scoring: 15.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 22.8 pts
Week 6 Misses:
Golden Tate – Standard scoring: 4.4 pts; MLFS scoring: 9.4 pts
Michael Floyd – Standard scoring: 10.7 pts; MLFS scoring: 12.7 pts
DeAndre Hopkins – Standard scoring: 1.2 pts; MLFS scoring: 2.2 pts
Wes Welker – Standard scoring: 0.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 3.8 pts
C.J. Anderson – Standard scoring: 0 pts; MLFS scoring: 0 pts
Odell Beckham Jr. – Standard scoring: 2.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 2.8 pts
Ronnie Brown – Standard scoring: 2.6 pts; MLFS scoring: 3.6 pts
This is the last time you’ll hear me vouch for Ben Tate in this space because I’ve vowed never to mention the obvious names, and Tate has inserted his in that category. When he’s healthy, he’s a top-10 back no questions asked. If you’re still weary about those injury concerns, I get it and now would be a great time to sell him. But as I’m sure you’ve heard in all the “Browns potentially being 6-2” talk, their next three opponents are quite fantasy friendly (@JAX, vs. OAK, vs. TB). I’m not even considering making a deal until they’re through that stretch and, if Tate does happen to go down in that time, I won’t be mad at myself for taking that risk.
I was leading the charge on the ODB bandwagon last week, saying that the Giants were a team that would spread their targets around giving each pass catcher as good a shot at a nice game as any other. Part of that turned out to be correct in that none of them had any success considering how often Eli Manning found himself on his back staring up at the stars. But those who did pick up Beckham will be happy they did so now that Victor Cruz is out for the season with a devastating patella tendon injury. Beckham now slides into his starting role and immediately becomes a viable WR3 for the rest of the season. He’s the most intriguing rookie receiver to me not named Kelvin Benjamin.
Boy, oh boy did the Hopkins call stick in my craw the entire weekend. I completely believed that a Houston wideout would have himself a strong game against the Colts last Thursday and, up until that morning, I had it pegged as Andre Johnson. His questionable tag on a short week made me gun-shy enough to endorse Watkins over Johnson, a move I immediately regretted upon kickoff of that contest. I thought it was cute how so many pundits had endorsed Hopkins as the Texans’ WR to own after the first five weeks when Johnson still had a double-digit advantage in targets over the second-year speedster. Yes, there will be a few games where Hopkins outdoes Johnson on the fantasy tote board, but let’s reign it in here, folks. Hopkins is a high-end WR3 going forward, but the ‘Dre is still firmly entrenched in the WR2 marketplace.
Hopefully onto bigger and better things this week for the Hot List, which means a vacation for me from all things Denver Broncos. This week’s edition is full of deeper league options and names you should think about if you’re desperate for a flex play, so take that into consideration when you’re picking out your starters. We start with an Oakland receiver, but not the one you might be expecting:
James Jones, WR (OAK) – Maybe I was too quick to label Oakland a fantasy wasteland, especially considering that Derek Carr was my choice for offensive rookie of the year. Everyone’s going to be focusing on Andre Holmes after the 195 yards and three touchdowns he’s registered over the last two games, but it’s James Jones who is their true #1 WR. Jones is the 23rd-ranked fantasy WR on the season and that doesn’t factor in that he’s played one less game than most others on the list because of the Raiders’ bye week. Now he gets to face the second-worst defense against fantasy WRs in Arizona (shocking, quite frankly). The Raiders won’t be able to run the ball so expect a healthy does of targets headed Jones’ way and another productive afternoon from the former Packer.
Expectation: Top-25 WR
Bernard Pierce, RB (BAL) – In case you’re keeping track at home, I rank the Baltimore running backs Forsett, Pierce, Taliaferro. Forsett is certainly gone in your league and for good reason as he’s emerged as the number one runner for the Ravens. For this week, don’t overlook Pierce as he did receive 15 carries in last week’s thumping of the Bucs and now gets an even tastier matchup against the Falcons. How tasty a matchup is it? Atlanta has given up 12 rushing touchdowns in 2014, an astonishing five more than any other team in the league. If you’re telling me that Baltimore is getting two ground scores in a game, I’ll bet the farm that at least one of them goes to Pierce, whom the Ravens seem to prefer near the goal line. Predicting TDs is a tough business, but this far down the ranks I don’t see any other back who comes close to Pierce.
Expectation: Top-30 RB
Brandin Cooks, WR (NO) – On the surface, there seems to be a whole lot working against New Orleans this week. If you haven’t already noticed, Detroit is where opposing fantasy offenses have gone to die this year. That front seven is absolutely monstrous and I don’t think any Saints RB, whether it’s Ingram, Robinson, Thomas or Cadet, will find any success between the tackles. It doesn’t help matters for New Orleans that Jimmy Graham (probably) won’t suit up for this one either. The one who stands to benefit from this confluence of factors is Cooks who could absolutely be the focal point of the game plan for the Saints. He’s second on the team in targets (just four behind Graham) and will be counted on not just on the perimeter but over the middle for Drew Brees and company to escape the motor city with a win. A solid WR2 in PPR leagues and WR3 caliber in standard scoring.
Expectation: Top-25 WR
Jeremy Hill, RB (CIN) – The Colts aren’t quite the Falcons when it comes to allowing rushing TDs, but they have given up seven on the year, good enough for second worst in the NFL. Presumably without A.J. Green again this week, the Bengals would be wise to stick to their impressive running game not only as the focal point of their offense, but as a way to keep their suddenly underwhelming defense off the field against Andrew Luck. Giovani Bernard has emerged and a slam dunk RB1, but don’t forget about the thumper in Cincy’s backfield, Jeremy Hill. He’s scored in three of five games so far and has an excellent chance to make it four out of six, even if it’s only on ten touches. For the PPR crowd, Hill has a sneaky seven catches the last two contests, showing some versatility few knew was there. Bonus points for the amazing Ickey Shuffle rendition.
Expectation: Top-30 RB
Isaiah Crowell, RB (CLE) – For as much love as I have for Ben Tate, that doesn’t mean I haven’t noticed what else is going on in Cleveland. Crowell has without a doubt taken over the #2 spot on the depth chart ahead of Terrance West and he’s getting enough carries to be relevant in fantasy beyond just Tate’s handcuff. As good as Brian Hoyer has been for the Browns, his best friend has been the running game and I don’t expect that to change against Jacksonville. Tate will get his 20+ touches and I think that still leaves 10+ for Crowell, who’s shown in the past that’s all he needs to post a useful line.
Expectation: Top-30 RB
Brandon LaFell, WR (NE) – No, this isn’t me jumping on the Brandon LaFell hype train like so many others. But when you get to face a Jets secondary who’s down to it’s fourth option at CB at home on a short week, sign me up. LaFell has emerged as the downfield threat for Tom Brady resulting in two tremendous outputs in the last three weeks. Rumors of the Patriots’ demise have been put to sleep and when it comes to Thursday night games, give me the home team with the better quarterback every single time. He’s a boom-or-bust option as are many I’ve singled out this week, but too many signs point towards another nice game for me to ignore.
Expectation: Top-35 WR
Justin Hunter, WR (TEN) – Since I can’t pick on the Eagles secondary this time around (damn bye weeks), I’ll do the next best thing and focus in on a WR matching up with the Washington back line. Hunter has finally shown signs of being the playmaker he was pegged as this preseason, and oddly enough, has done it with Charlie Whitehurst under center the past two weeks. There’s a decent chance that Jake Locker returns this Sunday, but that doesn’t deter my love for Hunter in this matchup. Despite not having a game with more than three receptions, he’s still getting six targets a week and odds are that one or two of those downfield throws turns into a big play this week. Tennessee still can’t run the ball effectively so look for the passing game to carry the day for the Titans. It may be another three catch day for Hunter, but you’ll be happy when it’s for 75+ yards and a good shot at the end zone.
Expectation: Top-35 WR
Allen Robinson, WR (JAC) – Perhaps my problem last week is that I strayed a little too far from the family tree. Luckily, cousin Allen makes his second appearance on the Hot List in 2014. I think we all realize by now that Jacksonville, try as they might, just cannot run the football. For this team to have any success on offense, it’s going to be on the right shoulder of Blake Bortles slinging it 40+ times a game. And from the looks of it, his favorite targets seem to be Robinson and Cecil Shorts. Robinson is averaging almost six receptions a game in his last five and had over 65 yards receiving in three of those contests. For as good as he’s been in PPR formats, the only thing holding him back in standard games is his goose egg in the touchdown department. I think there’s a fair shot he has his maiden voyage this Sunday as the Browns secondary has been less than advertised. Don’t let the Jags record fool you, there’s some attractive options to be had on this team.
Expectation: Top-40 WR
Anthony Dixon, RB (BUF) – Only those in the deepest of deep leagues would even be considering Dixon at this point, but the situation in Buffalo has caught my attention, and none of it is good news if you’re a C.J. Spiller owner. First, Fred Jackson seemed to usurp Spiller as the preferred passing down back, a trend that can no longer be argued (Jackson: 30 catches; Spiller: 13). Then early on against the Patriots last Sunday, it was Dixon who got many of the first-quarter carries while Spiller was benched after fumbling and ended the day with just six carries and twelve total snaps. Coach Doug Marrone has made it known he wants to employ a two-back rotation, so we could be seeing the first indications that Spiller is now the odd man out. It’s a longshot for sure, but the Bills do get a pillowy soft rush defense in Minnesota this week and Dixon could snatch himself a cheap TD as a result.
Expectation: Top-50 RB
Cordarelle Patterson, WR (MIN) – I purposefully saved the most controversial name on this week’s Hot List for last, and full disclosure: he scares the hell out of me. Mike Zimmer went so far as to call out his über-athletic receiver for his inability to get separation, and he’s spot on. And I think Patterson responds with his best game since Week 1. But this alone is hardly a reason to insert Patterson in your starting lineup. The Bills are the best team in the NFL against fantasy RBs, so I really don’t care if it’s McKinnon or Asiata that gets the lion share of the touches in this one as neither are highly recommended options this week (but McKinnon will be going forward). Teddy Bridgewater will have to carry Minnesota’s offense if they have any chance to spring the upset and I’ve got a gut feeling that Patterson emerges, at least for one game, as a viable fantasy starter.
Expectation: Top-30 WR
(Click Link Below to Listen)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday October 19th from 11am-12pm EST for this weeks installment of Major League Fantasy Football Radio sponsored by theSports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596Our guests this week will be Bryan Robinson who is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com. Bryan’s article publishes every Thursday and he focuses on the running back/wide receiver position. He also does a weekly Q&A for us onreddit’s fantasy football section every Saturday. Jeff Nelson will also be joining us again. Jeff is the DB coach for White Hall H.S. in PA and is a two time Major League Fantasy Football Champion. Come join us for a very spirited conversation.Be sure and check out the Sports Palooza Radio Show every Thursday at 11am EST. Kerry Wood will be one of the guests this week.