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Friday 22nd Sep 2017

So what has happened to all those guys that were pimping the return of the running back all off-season? “Need to draft high running backs” is all I heard in the months leading up to fantasy draft season. Where is all that talk now? I know that things can change and only two weeks have gone by, but David Johnson is already hurt, LeVeon Bell is not among the top-25 scoring running backs and Ezekiel Elliott did not exactly light up the scoreboard in Week 2. The top 25 is littered with household names like Ty Montgomery, Chris Thompson, Tarik Cohen, Javorius Allen, James White, Terrance West, Jalen Richard and Shane Vereen. The moral of the story – it made no sense to pay up for running backs in season-long drafts and it does not really make sense to pay up for running backs in daily right now either. There are plenty of viable running backs on DraftKings this week that are under $6k.  Choose wisely.

QB Aaron Rodgers GB 7300 Should start piling up Rodgers-like numbers
QB Matt Ryan ATL 7100 Very high floor. Running game limits ceiling
QB Derek Carr OAK 6800 Highest total - off to a solid start
QB Jay Cutler MIA 6100 Like Carr last week, Cutler should post good numbers vs. Jets
QB Kirk Cousins WAS 6100 Will have to pass to keep up with Oakland
QB Andy Dalton CIN 5100 High-risk flier is much better than first two games suggest
         
RB LeVeon Bell PIT 8800 Bears may be just what the doctor ordered
RB Kareem Hunt KC 8000 No denying he has been the best so far
RB Jay Ajayi MIA 7700 Everyone is running wild on Jets
RB Ty Montgomery GB 6900 High volume so far
RB Devonta Freeman ATL 6700 Falcons offense has been balanced so far
RB Christian McCaffrey CAR 6100 Underperformed but Saints get everyone well
RB Tarik Cohen CHI 5600 When in doubt, roster backs that have a good pass-catching floor
RB James White NE 5400 Been the primary pass-catching back in a high-powered offense
RB Chris Thompson WAS 4500 The best Redskins back so far
RB Darren Sproles PHI 3900 Higher than expected workload
         
TE Travis Kelce KC 6000 Tight ends hit hard by injury last week
TE Zach Ertz PHI 5000 Finally off to a strong start
TE Delanie Walker TEN 4400 Still the best receiver in Tennessee
TE Hunter Henry LAC 3900 Fighting for his share with Gates
TE Jack Doyle IND 3600 Only usable Colts player so far
TE Zach Miller CHI 3000 Good punt option at tight end
         
WR Julio Jones ATL 9300 Still hasn’t scored - due for the explosion soon
WR A.J. Green CIN 8100 Call this a gut feel with the change in coordinators
WR Mike Evans TB 7500 Tough matchup but still the top dog in Tampa
WR Michael Crabtree OAK 7400 Proving more reliable than Cooper
WR Michael Thomas NO 7000 Saints will be playing from behind again
WR Golden Tate DET 6900 Lions possession receiver
WR Jarvis Landry MIA 6800 Talks of his downfall were overblown
WR Chris Hogan NE 6100 Proving to be a better option than Cooks
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. WAS 5900 Cousins will need to pass to keep up with Raiders
WR Martavis Bryant PIT 5700 Strong comeback so far
WR Davante Adams GB 5600 Why is Adams so cheap?
WR Nelson Agholor PHI 4200 Almost posted a goose egg last week but ended up scoring
WR Geronimo Allison GB 3000 Low-end option if Nelson or Cobb are out
         
DST Patriots NE 3800 Big favorite against rookie QB
DST Dolphins MIA 3700 It's the Jets
DST Broncos DEN 3600 Buffalo has not scared anyone
DST Steelers PIT 3400 Defense playing week not facing lowly Bears
DST Browns CLE 3000 Browns are favored on the road
         
  MY LINEUP SO FAR      
QB Kirk Cousins WAS 6100  
RB Ty Montgomery GB 6900  
RB Tarik Cohen CHI 5600  
WR A.J. Green CIN 8100  
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. WAS 5900  
WR Davante Adams GB 5600  
TE Jack Doyle IND 3600  
FLX Chris Thompson WAS 4500  
DST Dolphins MIA 3700  

My apologies for missing Week 1. With hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida and a pending trip to Las Vegas to draft our NFFC teams, the Hotpage was overcome by events. Having lived in south Florida for nearly 30 years, putting up hurricane shutters has become a routine event. Fortunately, my family and home made it through the hurricane with only some down tree branches. 

I was able to make it out to Vegas last Wednesday ahead of the storm for our annual trip to participate in live NFFC drafts. As always, Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich were great hosts for the event. From the Thursday Gridiron auction/draft with Buffalo Wild Wings sponsorship to the live drafts on Friday and Saturday, the events were first class. If you ever have the chance to spend a NFL Sunday in Las Vegas, the new theatre in the Westgate is the place to go, with 1,500 movie theatre style seats and the biggest TVs you can imagine. 

We were “stuck” in Las Vegas for a couple of extra days due to the storm, but thanks to Jet Blue holding a connection just so 12 of us could make a connection was a first class gesture. Now onto the hotpage:

QB Tom Brady NE 7900 Underperformed in Week 1 - Saints make QBs look good
QB Drew Brees NO 7700 Pats looked bad against Alex Smith
QB Aaron Rodgers GB 7400 GB-Atl is the highest total on the board this week
QB Derek Carr OAK 7200 How much will he throw against the Jets?
QB Jameis Winston TB 6300 Itching to play - the Bears are not good
QB Jay Cutler MIA 5400 More of a deep pass threat than Tannehill
         
RB LeVeon Bell PIT 9800 Stinker in Week 1 - was a DFS stalwart last season
RB Devonta Freeman ATL 7300 Strong run-catch-TD combo
RB Kareem Hunt KC 6800 The HOT rookie
RB Jay Ajayi MIA 6400 Very moderately priced
RB Dalvin Cook MIN 5900 The second HOT rookie
RB Ty Montgomery GB 5800 Saw plenty of touches in Week 1
RB Christian McCaffrey CAR 5600 Might go under the radar behind Hunt and Cook
RB Bilal Powell NYJ 5000 Surprisingly lost touches to Forte last week
RB Kerwynn Williams ARI 4800 The winner of the David Johnson injury lottery
RB Tarik Cohen CHI 4100 Great numbers in limited touches
RB Chris Thompson WAS 3800 Very involved in the Redskins offense
         
WR Antonio Brown PIT 9400 The only high-priced Week 1 player who produced
WR Julio Jones ATL 9200 Nice matchup with GB
WR Brandin Cooks NE 8200 Number one target with Edelman out
WR Amari Cooper OAK 8100 Great matchup for early game stats
WR Mike Evans TB 7700 Bucs big play receiver
WR Michael Thomas NO 7500 Should post big numbers against weak Pats secondary
WR Michael Crabtree OAK 7100 Caught everything in sight in Week 1
WR Tyreek Hill KC 6200 Chiefs had him very involved in Week 1
WR Davante Adams GB 5600 Packers offense moved the ball against good Seahawks D
WR DeVante Parker MIA 5400 Looks like Cutler's favorite target
WR Adam Thielen MIN 5000 Appears to be a PPR machine
WR Pierre Garcon SF 4900 Seeing a ton of looks
WR Cooper Kupp LAR 4100 Looks like the Rams best receiver
         
TE Greg Olsen CAR 5500 Cam will get him back in the game this week
TE Zach Ertz PHI 5300 Did not disappoint as Eagles best receiver
TE Delanie Walker TEN 4700 Started slow, finished strong
TE Hunter Henry LAC 3600 Invisible in Week 1 - will be under-owned in Week 2
TE O.J. Howard TB 2900 Impressive looking rookie at low price
         
DST Cardinals ARI 4100 Colts are bad without Luck
DST Ravens BAL 3700 Best Week 1 D gets Cleveland in Week 2
DST Raiders OAK 3500 Do I have to tell you that the Jets are bad?
DST Titans TEN 3300 Slow down Fournette, force Bortles to pass
DST Buccaneers TB 3200 Bears have no wide receivers
         
  MY LINEUP      
QB Drew Brees NO 7700  
RB Jay Ajayi MIA 6400  
RB Tarik Cohen CHI 4100  
WR Brandin Cooks NE 8200  
WR Davante Adams GB 5600  
WR Michael Thomas NO 7500  
TE O.J. Howard TB 2900  
RB Chris Thompson WAS 3800  
DST Raiders OAK 3500  
      49700  

With Week 3 of the NFL pre-season upon us, and fantasy league drafts really kicking into gear, there are some things I am looking at come draft day and the NFL kick off. Here are a few.

Miami at Philadelphia - Which receiver is Jay Cutler’s favorite?  Who is the number one receiver in Philly?

Carolina at Jacksonville - How do Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey mesh?  Does the move to Chad Henne help Allen Robinson?

New England at Detroit – Does Brandin Cooks catch anything short? Can Ameer Abdullah be a primary back?

Kansas City at Seattle – Can Patrick Mahomes overtake Alex Smith at QB? Does someone emerge as the primary back in Seattle?

Buffalo at Baltimore – Is Zay Jones legit? Does Jeremy Maclin have anything left in the tank?

New York Jets at New York Giants – Can Bilal Powell and Robby Anderson become dominant fantasy scorers for a really bad team? Can anyone on the Giants run the ball?

Arizona at Atlanta – How is Carson Palmer’s arm strength? Is there a Falcons receiver worth rostering after Julio?

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh – Can Marlon Mack emerge as a back that takes some plays away from Gore? With Bell still out, is there a legit number two that will play in the regular season?

Cleveland at Tampa Bay – Does Deshone Kizer take the helm and run with the job? Which tight end is more involved – Brate or Howard?

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams – Is Cooper Kupp for real? Is there a legit backup to Melvin Gordon?

Houston at New Orleans – Is there a number two receiver in Houston? Does Michael Thomas move to the elite class of receivers?

Oakland at Dallas - Is Marshawn Lynch finished? Does Alfred Morris or Rod Smith have any value?

Green Bay at Denver – Can Montgomery hold up to 15 touches per game? Does Trevor Semien have value as a QB2?

Chicago at Tennessee – Do I really want to spend a late first round pick on Jordan Howard? Can Henry take enough carries away from Murray to be relevant?

Cincinnati at Washington – Even if Mixon does not start right away, is he worthy of a 4th round pick? Can Terrelle Pryor be a real number one receiver?

San Francisco at Minnesota – Can Carlos Hyde be a top producer? No question – Dalvin Cook is for real.

You can follow me @mastersballmarc.

Since Week 4 pre-season games do not matter as very few fantasy-relevant players see the field, I thought it would be a good idea to answer the questions I asked last week. Between the games that were on live over the weekend, and the replays on the NFL Network (found it great that you can DVR a game and watch the whole thing in less than an hour), I watched almost all of the games.

Miami at Philadelphia - Which receiver is Jay Cutler’s favorite? DeVante Parker. Who is the number one receiver in Philly? Zach Ertz. Cutler does not hesitate to throw deep, completing a 72-yard pass to Parker and drawing a pass interference call. One pass led to a Jay Ajayi one-yard TD run and the other led to a one-yard Cutler-to-Thomas TD pass. Wentz spread the ball around to Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Zach Ertz. This Eagles offense looked good with Wendell Smallwood in the backfield.

Carolina at Jacksonville - How do Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey mesh? Too early to tell. Does the move to Chad Henne help Allen Robinson? NO, and it was short-lived anyway. Cam played one series, completing short passes to Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Stewart and Kelvin Benjamin but threw nothing downfield. Stewart was the primary back. The move to Henne did nothing for the Jaguars offense, so they decided to go back to Bortles. This offense has the makings of a huge mess.

New England at Detroit – Does Brandin Cooks catch anything short? Not really. Can Ameer Abdullah be a primary back? YES, if you believe he can stay healthy. With Julian Edelman suffering a torn ACL, the value of Cooks and Chris Hogan go up. I challenge you to guess the game-day rotation of the Patriots running backs – Mike Gilislee, James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead will drive fantasy owners batty all season. Draft them only in a best-ball/draft champion type of format where you do not have to guess from week to week. On the Lions side, Matthew Stafford did not look great. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones made some impressive catches and dropped some easy passes. Abdullah was heavily involved in the running and passing game – it is all about health with him.

Kansas City at Seattle – Can Patrick Mahomes overtake Alex Smith at QB? Not sure it matters with the lack of quality wide receivers in KC, but Mahomes plays like an NFL veteran. Does someone emerge as the primary back in Seattle? With Rawls and Prosise still out, Lacy ran hard in limited action. Spencer Ware leaves with a right knee injury and is done for the season, moving Kareem Hunt up to Round 3/4. Russell Wilson looked sharp.

Buffalo at Baltimore – Is Zay Jones legit? Eight targets certainly makes him appear to be legit. Does Jeremy Maclin have anything left in the tank? No way to tell at this point, honestly.

New York Jets at New York Giants – Can Bilal Powell and Robby Anderson become dominant fantasy scorers for a really bad team? I would bet on a lot of garbage time points. Can anyone on the Giants run the ball? No, so expect a healthy dose of Eli Manning.

Arizona at Atlanta – How is Carson Palmer’s arm strength? There were no real downfield throws, mostly short to intermediate. Is there a Falcons receiver worth rostering after Julio? There was nothing in the Falcons offense that made me want to say yes. Cardinals receiver John Brown looked healthy, but for how long? Brittan Golden looks good for Arizona, but he will likely be a late rotation wide receiver once Fitzgerald plays. The Falcons looked completely out of whack on offense when all the starters were in.

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh – Can Marlon Mack emerge as a back that takes some plays away from Gore? Sure looks like it will be all Gore as long as he can handle it. Mack did play on some third downs with the first team. With Bell still out, is there a legit number two that will play in the regular season? There was not here. Terrell Watson, James Conner and Knile Davis all had carries. Fitzgerald Toussant is also in the mix. It will be a long season for the Colts if Luck misses time. That may sound obvious, but if Luck is out, I will scratch just about every Colt off my list.

Cleveland at Tampa Bay – Does Deshone Kizer take the helm and run with the job? Sure looks like it. Which tight end is more involved between Brate or Howard? I see Winston trying to use both. Cleveland is kind of interesting. Something tells me they won’t be as bad as many people think. While I have no real interest in Kizer, I can see guys like Isaiah Crowell and Corey Coleman posting good numbers. The Bucs offense will have days where they are dynamic and unstoppable. But they will probably have others that leave you scratching your head. I fear it might be one year too early before Winston puts it all together.

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams – Is Cooper Kupp for real? Kupp was out with a minor injury. Is there a legit backup to Melvin Gordon? Branden Oliver is the clear number two. Keenan Allen looks great catching passes for the Chargers, with Travis Benjamin as a deep threat. Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis would both be in play should something happen to Todd Gurley.

Houston at New Orleans – Is there a number two receiver in Houston? Bruce Ellington was by far the best player on the field in the first half. Does Michael Thomas move to the elite class of receivers? There is a ton of short pass volume in the Saints offense, and it appears that most of it will go to Thomas.

Oakland at Dallas - Is Marshawn Lynch finished? YES, he is done. Does Alfred Morris or Rod Smith have any value? The short answer is NO. Cordarrelle Patterson is an intriguing third receiver for the Raiders. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard appear to be the future of the Oakland backfield. Lynch looked slow. Cole Beasley will again be an overlooked PPR number three fantasy receiver who will go overlooked in drafts due to lack of “upside.”

Green Bay at Denver – Can Montgomery hold up to 15 touches per game? Only four touches for Montgomery, but he did get the goal line carry. Does Trevor Semien have value as a QB2? There was not much to like. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will battle for carries as the 2nd and 3rd backs. Wide receiver Jordan Taylor looked good with Semien.

Chicago at Tennessee – Do I really want to spend a late first round pick on Jordan Howard? NO. Can Henry take enough carries away from Murray to be relevant? I think Tennessee is going to try. It was depressing to see Cameron Meredith go down for the season. The Bears really do not have much in the way of a receiving group. You can take a flyer on Kevin White, but there is no reason to have a high level of confidence. Tennessee looked so bad on offense that their starters were forced to play into the 3rd quarter. First round pick Corey Davis was supposed to be a new toy for Marcus Mariota, but his hamstring has kept him off the field.

Cincinnati at Washington – Even if Mixon does not start right away, is he worthy of a 4th round pick? If the Bengals get off to a good start, then it will be hard for Mixon to overtake Hill. Can Terrelle Pryor be a real number one receiver? If this game was a real indicator, it could take some time.

San Francisco at Minnesota – Can Carlos Hyde be a top producer? He sure looked the part. No question – Dalvin Cook is for real. But he did not look great against San Francisco. Murray will not really push him.

Many thanks to Seth Trachtman for the 2017 Street & Smith’s Magazine mock draft held on Thursday night. The league set-up is no PPR, which is a unique format for me as all of the leagues I am in for real have some form of PPR.

The early first round went just as expected (for a PPR league), so I was very happy sitting at number nine to grab running back Devonta Freeman. After taking DeMarco Murray on the turn in the second round, Tom Brady in the third round was a no-brainer with six points awarded for a touchdown pass and Aaron Rodgers already gone.

Since touchdowns dominate non-PPR scoring, I am not concerned to come out of the draft with Terrelle Pryor, Golden Tate, Jamison Crowder, Eric Decker, Kenny Stills and Zay Jones as my receiving group.

One player that I will be targeting in all drafts regardless of format is former South Florida Bull Marlon Mack. Frankly, I was going to target whatever running back the Colts selected, after continuing to ride Frank Gore into old age. I expect Mack to get a real chance for carries, and even though Gore has been a model of durability over his career, he is old enough to almost qualify for AARP.

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