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.
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.
There is good and bad with Week 17 upon us. Among the bad, it is the last regular season week of the NFL season and many teams with playoff spots locked up will rest or limit their players. The good – we have a full Sunday 16-game slate for the only time this entire season. We also have a silly 56-point Vegas total in the Saints-Falcons game.
Aaron Rodgers has been silly since Week 7 with two or more touchdown passes in every game except for the ice bowl, and three or more TDs in six of those games. As much as I believe that Brees-Ryan could go back and forth, both of those teams have enough of a running game to put me all-in on Rodgers.
|QB||Aaron Rodgers||GB||7700||Best QB right now with the most to play for|
|QB||Drew Brees||NO||7600||Scary high 56-point total|
|QB||Matt Ryan||Atl||7400||See Brees above|
|QB||Kirk Cousins||Was||6500||One game for a playoff berth and a big payday|
|QB||Matthew Stafford||Det||6000||Should be playing comeback most of the game|
|QB||Blake Bortles||Jax||5600||Trying to prove he is relevant for 2017|
There is a ton of potential value in the running back slot with some of the big boys sitting it out or injured. Follow the news as we get closer to roster lock time to see if any other low-price backs will have an extended opportunity.
|RB||David Johnson||Ari||9800||Expected to get a near full load|
|RB||Devonta Freeman||Atl||7000||Only one dud in the past five games|
|RB||Jordan Howard||Chi||6800||Earning number one status for next season|
|RB||Jay Ajayi||Mia||5900||This is not Buffalo, but he's the Dolphins' best weapon|
|RB||Mark Ingram||NO||5600||Playing for top spot next season|
|RB||Alex Collins||Sea||4600||Last man standing against worst run D - not cheap|
|RB||Kenneth Dixon||Bal||4200||Another back trying to earn 2017 starting job|
|RB||Darren Sproles||Phi||4000||Someone will be in the backfield for Eagles|
|RB||Rex Burkhead||Cin||3500||Catches enough passes at cheap price to be in play|
|RB||Shaun Draughn||SF||3200||Same play as Burkhead|
I know it feels a week late, but Jordy Nelson has to go with Aaron Rodgers. There are enough cheap running backs to avoid skimping at the receiver position.
|WR||Jordy Nelson||GB||8100||Playing at another level|
|WR||Mike Evans||TB||8000||Last Bucs playmaker still standing|
|WR||Doug Baldwin||Sea||7200||Even more significant with Lockett done|
|WR||Brandin Cooks||NO||6900||Not at home, but still in a dome|
|WR||Michael Thomas||NO||6700||Expected to put exclamation on star rookie season|
|WR||Golden Tate||Det||6600||Needs to make plays for Lions to compete|
|WR||Sammy Watkins||Buf||5800||Late season tease|
|WR||Davante Adams||GB||5700||Caught the TD he dropped the week before|
|WR||DeSean Jackson||Was||5600||Playing for another free agent contract|
|WR||Tyreek Hill||KC||5600||Dynamic playmaker|
|WR||Allen Robinson||Jax||5500||Still cheaply priced|
|WR||Cameron Meredith||Chi||5200||Earning time with Howard for 2017|
|WR||Steve Smith Sr.||Bal||4900||Announced retirement - narrative for TD targets|
|WR||DeVante Parker||Mia||4300||Big play ability even with Moore|
Here we are at the black hole known as tight end. Throw a dart, roster a tight end.
|TE||Travis Kelce||KC||5000||Over 100 yards in five of past six|
|TE||Zach Ertz||Phi||4800||Only two targets last week after 36 in previous three|
|TE||Eric Ebron||Det||3600||At least four catches in four straight|
|TE||Jared Cook||GB||3100||Seeing more targets with Cobb out|
Tough to gauge which defenses will show up. Certainly the Steelers are in an ideal spot against Cleveland, but how long will their defensive starters play?
|DST||Broncos||Den||3900||Were embarrassed by KC last week|
|DST||Seahawks||Sea||3700||Should dominate SF|
|DST||Steelers||Pit||3600||Nothing to play for, but this is Cleveland|
|DST||Texans||Hou||3500||Matt Cassel is not good|
|DST||Bills||Buf||3400||Jets are a mess|
|DST||Cardinals||Ari||3000||Rams getting ready for 2017|
Here is my planned GPP lineup led by the three Packers with Cook still a possibility at tight end.
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.
Christmas and Hanukkah week is upon us and the NFL has a full weekend slate to keep NFL fans healthy. The Week 16 schedule begins with the Giants-Eagles game on Thursday, followed by a full 1:00, 4:00 and night game on Saturday, two more on Sunday and finally Lions-Cowboys on Monday. I know many of you will be sweating out season-long league championship games over that five-day stretch. But for the main slate DraftKings DFS players, we have 12 games on Christmas Eve day.
Six of the seven QB’s on the list are in the three Vegas over 52 total games. Not going much out on a limb here. All are in very good spots to post numbers. Game flow will determine which QB’s outperform the others.
|QB||Drew Brees||NO||7400||The game vs. TB two weeks ago was a fluke|
|QB||Matt Ryan||Atl||7200||Should be another up and down the field game|
|QB||Andrew Luck||Ind||7000||Playing for their playoff lives|
|QB||Kirk Cousins||Was||6800||The only QB on this list not in an over 52 game|
|QB||Derek Carr||Oak||6800||Uncomfortable with finger injury but getting by|
|QB||Cam Newton||Car||6600||Cam not running but Atl defense has holes|
|QB||Jameis Winston||TB||6500||Could have beaten Dal with better fourth quarter|
With LeVeon Bell off the main slate and David Johnson in a tough match-up, we have the chance to slide down a little at RB and save some money for WRs. LeSean McCoy was under $7k six of the first seven weeks of the season and has now hit $9k.
|RB||David Johnson||Ari||9200||Is he totally match-up proof?|
|RB||LeSean McCoy||Buf||9000||Hitting the elite price range|
|RB||Devonta Freeman||Atl||7100||Worried about Coleman|
|RB||DeMarco Murray||Ten||7000||Two TDs vultured by Henry last week|
|RB||Latavius Murray||Oak||6200||Needs to hold onto the ball|
|RB||Bilal Powell||NYJ||6000||Very high volume PPR option with Forte injured|
|RB||Ty Montgomery||GB||5900||Will be the hot choice this week. DK moves him to RB|
|RB||Carlos Hyde||SF||5800||Faltered last week but always in a good spot|
|RB||Thomas Rawls||Sea||5100||O-line could not block for him last week|
|RB||Kenneth Farrow||SD||5000||Elite match-up for average RB|
|RB||Mark Ingram||NO||4400||Pouting worked for Cooks|
Mike Evans tops my WR list again, but he's coming off three straight poor games. I do not see a fourth. Wide receiver ownership should be spread out with plenty of very good options on the board across all price ranges.
|WR||Mike Evans||TB||8500||Big price is a risk with three straight games under 10|
|WR||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||7800||Disappointed vs. Min but 23 targets in two games prior|
|WR||Michael Crabtree||Oak||6100||Double-digit targets in four of past eight|
|WR||Michael Thomas||NO||6000||Ten targets after missing a week|
|WR||Dontrelle Inman||SD||6000||Favorable match-up but Rivers spreads the wealth|
|WR||Davante Adams||GB||5400||Looking to rebound from two dropped TDs|
|WR||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||5200||Thank you Tom Savage|
|WR||Tyler Lockett||Sea||4800||Finally healthy and a great weapon for Wilson|
|WR||Cameron Meredith||Chi||4700||Took awhile to develop the rapport with Barkley|
|WR||J.J. Nelson||Ari||4400||Taking advantage of drunken Floyd's departure|
|WR||Kenny Stills||Mia||3900||Big play guy at low price|
Tight end has been an enigma all season. Too many times the expensive guys just did not perform. There always seems to be a min-price player coming through each week.
|TE||Greg Olsen||Car||5200||Elbow a concern with a weak TE group|
|TE||Jimmy Graham||Sea||4500||Big price drop after back-to-back one-catch games|
|TE||Delanie Walker||Ten||4300||Attractive price in this spot|
|TE||Cameron Brate||TB||3900||Catching everything near him|
|TE||Ryan Griffin||Hou||3300||Missed him last week at min price with C.J. out|
|TE||Dion Sims||Mia||2600||Near min price with four TDs in past four games|
The Patriots are clearly the stand-out defense and if they get ahead early, it could be real trouble. There are several other high potential defenses at a discount if you do not trust the Patriots.
|DST||Patriots||NE||3600||Score depends only on how interested NE is|
|DST||Titans||Ten||3400||Sacks and turnovers|
|DST||Chargers||SD||3400||Continuing with defenses against Cle theme|
|DST||Bengals||Cin||3200||Not completely buying the Savage hype|
|DST||Dolphins||Mia||3000||Playing at a very high level|
|DST||49ers||SF||2800||Ultimate punt against the Rams|
Here is my planned GPP lineup, led by the two Bucs main men.