Week 7 featured all kinds of fun, a couple of broken records (the good kind), trick plays, last minute victories and Cecil Shorts and Barkevious Mingo on the field at the same time (a drinkfive wet dream).
- I would be remiss in my duties if I did not start this article without Peyton Manning's record breaking night. Brett Favre, the former record holder, threw 508 TD's in his career, spanning 302 games (1.68 per game). As of Sunday night, Peyton Manning now has 510 TD's in only 246 games (2.07 per game). If Manning continues at this clip and plays as many games as Favre, he will finish his career with 626 TD's. Absolutely crazy.
- The Jaguarscan win, after all. With their victory over the up-and-down Browns came a glimmer of hope with their run game. Denard Robinson came to life when given a full workload. 22 attempts netted him 127 yards and 1 touchdown, but more importantly, it may have netted him the starting spot in Jacksonville. The Jags are desperate for stability anywhere, and look for them to go with the hot hand approach. Robinson will be a very popular waiver wire addition this week.
- Jerick McKinnon had another good showing, even if his team did not. McKinnon had 19 carries for 103 yards against Buffalo, a team with a tough run defense. McKinnon's match-ups coming up are against Tampa, Washington and Chicago. Buy low on him and take advantage of the weaker part of Minnesota's schedule.
- Ever since Aaron Rodgers told the good folks of Wisconsin to just "relax", they've done nothing but win games. Putting up 38 or more points in three of the last four games, Rodgers has thrown for 13 TD's during that span. Jordy Nelson has also catapulted to the top of the league in receiving yards (though Antonio Brown can pass him with a good game Monday night).
- The Bears continue to struggle at home and are now 0-3 there on the season. It's really the same story we always hear. Cutler struggled and Matt Forte put up numbers anyways. Forte does have two down games this year, but every other game he scored 17 or more points, going for over 20 in his last three games. This kind of consistency is very rewarding with all of the turmoil at the top of the RB draft board this year.
- The Bengals became the third team this season to be shut-out. After having none the first four weeks of the season, we've now seen one three weeks in a row. The Bengals are by far the best offense to be shut down during that stretch, but I think credit needs to be given to the Colts defense. The Colts limited the Bengals to 8 first downs, 135total yards on offense and the Bengals didn't have a snap in Colts territory until well into the 4th quarter, on a drive that resulted in no points. They only sniffed it once more at the end of the game for just a moment.
- Jeff Fisher has a lot of special teams tricks, and he decided that the best time to showcase them was when the Super Bowl champs came to town. The Rams handed Seattle their second loss in a row, something that Russell Wilson has only experienced once before in his career. The fake punt deep in your own end at the end of the game probably took more balls than brains, but the play I'm in love with is the punt return. The punt return in the second quarter faked out nearly the entire Seahawks special teams unit, which is bizarre considering they ought to know what side of the field their punter is kicking it to.
- One thing from the other side of that game became apparent as well. Russell Wilson is shaping up to be an elite fantasy QB. Two games over34 points this year and only one game with a low of 11 have him up to 142 points on the season, good for fifth overall. Keep in mind, he has already had his bye week and three of the guys ahead of him have not taken a break yet. Wilson is definitely on pace to finish this season as a top 5 guy.
- The Cowboys keep rolling and Demarco Murray is leading the way. With his record breaking seventh100 yard game to start the season, he has an astounding 913 yards through 7 games. He has not scored below 17.1 points this season, making him one of the best weekly guarantee since Arian Foster in 2010, heck, maybe since LaDainian Tomlinson's golden years. Expect Murray to stay match-up proof and hope they keep riding him as much as they have, because hey, fantasy football only lasts a year at a time.
- Back to the Broncos, who had a stellar night which might have been overshadowed by Peyton's big record. Demaryius Thomas is living up to his draft position, maybe more than most first/early second rounders. He started slow, but after the bye has scored 34, 18 and 29 points over the last three weeks. In fact, he's the only thing keeping Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb from being the top two fantasy receivers by points.
The AFC south had 2 of the top 3 picks in this year’s draft, meaning that half of the division was really, really bad last year. The Colts did manage to make it to the AFC championship game, going through the Bengals and Broncos before a “deflating” loss in New England. This year, everyone looks to improve their team, and the Houston Texans are going to be featured on this season’s Hard Knocks, starting August 11th.
Check our breakdown of the AFC South
Fantasy Football Podcast, 8/4/15, AFC South Spotlight: 2015 Fantasy Preview
Indianapolis Colts (11-5):
Frank Gore, RB – Signed as a FA, 8.5mil in guarantees, big things are expected.
Andrew Luck, QB – Club exercised his 5th year option, no brainer of the century.
Phillip Dorsett, WR – Drafted 1st round, 29th overall in a position they already have depth.
Josh Robinson, RB – Drafted in the 6th round, gets lots of MJD comparisons.
Trent Richardson, RB – Good riddance! The ploddingist of the plodders has gone where RB’s go to die.
Reggie Wayne, WR – A former Colts superstar is left on the outside looking in, and still looking for a new team.
The Colts are second only to the Packers in recovering from losing the best QB in franchise history. In 2011, they chanted “Suck for Luck”. This year they are Super Bowl contenders, and the favorites in some minds in the AFC. The main reason for this is Andrew Luck, a guy who has improved in each season so far in his young Career. Last season he threw for over 4700 yards and 40 TD’s (league leader), rushed for 3 TD’s and lead his team to their third straight 11-5 regular season.
So, we know that Luck is going to be great, but who’s going to be the beneficiary of his arm? Last year, T.Y. Hilton lead the team in receiving, netting over 1300 yards on 82 receptions. I expect a similar output from him this season, despite the fact that the WR core is now stacked in Indy. The additions of Andre Johnsonand Phillip Dorsett, along with Donte Moncreif, Griff Whalen and Duron Carter means that Luck is going to have plenty of secondary targets to choose from. It’s hard to predict who else will be fantasy relevant, but I suspect that Andre Johnson will rise to the top and Phillip Dorsett will be given a huge chance to contribute.
Running Back has been the weak link of the Colts offense for a while now. They have finally put the worst trade of 2013 behind them and Trent Richardson has moved on to Oakland. In his place, they have given Frank Gore, a 31-year-old RB who has been under 1000 yards only once in the last 10 years, a bunch of guaranteed money. Gore has only Dan Herron and Vick Ballard behind him, so it’s clear that the Colts plan on giving him at least as much work in previous seasons, so expect around 275 carries from a healthy Frank Gore. He has had his role in the passing game in San Fran reduced in the last few seasons, but he’s been a big feature in the years before that. Pay attention during preseason to how much Luck throws to him out of the backfield. Gore has an ADP of 13 (overall 28) and could reasonably live up to that spot. I’m skeptical that rookie Josh Robinson has fantasy value in his first year based on the value that the Colts are placing on Gore.
Tight End might be the most “toss-up” position on the team, though it seems that Dwayne Allen will be taking the primary role, over Coby Fleener. Allen is a more complete player and is entering the season as the #1 TE on the team. I don’t expect anything more than a ceiling of low-top 10 for Allen, as there are just too many fast targets for Luck to hit and not enough work at the TE position. If Allen can put up the same TD’s as last season, he will find his way into the top 10 (12 last year).
Houston Texans (9-7):
Ryan Mallett, QB – Signed to extension, will compete for starting job.
Brian Hoyer, QB – Signed from Cleveland, will compete for starting Job.
Vince Wilfork, NT – As if they needed more help on their D-line.
Chris Polk, RB – Suddenly in the mix with the Foster injury.
Cecil Shorts, WR – Drink five! He was a FA, signed a 2 year, $6 mil contract.
Andre Johnson, WR – Released by the team, signed by their toughest division opponents.
Case Keenum, QB – Traded to StL, they’re starting over at QB this year.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB – The smartest man in the NFL never gets to stay somewhere for very long, it seems. Traded to the Jets.
The Texans will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks series this season, which to me, traditionally means a couple of things. First, any drama on the team will be exaggerated ten-fold. Secondly, these players are likely to be over-valued come draft time. Most people are not exposed to EVERYONE, so the players they are exposed to a lot will have an artificially inflated value. Finally, HBO will stress the biggest positional competition, which is QB this season, so that means more drama, more “at home” scenes and more uncomfortable cut scenes.
QB is definitely a position that is up in the air on this team. Everyone knows that QB is the most important position on the offense, and everyone knows that the Texans don’t have one yet. This puts far too much pressure on their running game and defense to be perfect. This year, it looks like camp will feature a competition between Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer. Hoyer started with the first team reps, but Mallett has also been taking reps with the starters. This battle won’t likely be decided until after the third preseason game has concluded. Even once a QB is chosen, I wouldn’t consider either to be a starter in any 10-12 man leagues.
The RB position, once secured by Arian Foster, is now up for grabs. Foster suffered a groin injury on 8/3 and it will require surgery and he will likely be on the IR/designated to return list to begin the season, meaning he won’t be eligible to return until week 10. This leaves a huge, warrior-poet sized hole in our season of Hard Knocks AND the Texans backfield. Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk will battle in camp to get the starter’s role. Blue will be the favorite to get the job, as he’s filled in for Foster in the past already, but it may end up being RBBC once the season starts. I’m just sad that we’re losing the guy who has tweets that warn us of the dangers of bacteria in your gums, confessions of stolen towels from Trump hotels and his disinterest in Seinfeld. Look at the news over the next few days, the Texans will be shopping for a free agent to add to this RB group.
The WR position has changed a bit in Houston, mostly since Andre Johnson will not be there for the first time in 12 years. Filling his shoes will be DeAndre Hopkins, the clear cut #1 WR on the team. Hopkins is known for catching nearly every catchable ball thrown his way. Hopkins has what it takes to be an elite WR in this league, he just needs a QB to get him the ball. Hopkins has an ADP of 13 (WR) and 29 overall. With even adequate QB play, he can live up to those numbers. Meanwhile, Cecil Shorts will be lining up opposite him. His adp is all the way down at 72 (WR) and 186 (overall), basically undraftable. I’m all for taking a flyer on him and making everyone drink five at the end of the draft, but don’t expect a ton of fantasy production out of Jaelen Strong or Cecil Shorts unless the QB gets a big improvement.
At TE, the Texans have Garrett Graham, (not Jimmy’s little brother). Graham has had a few spots of good play, but hasn’t been used enough to really be noticed, especially when he was behind Owen Daniels. It looks like Graham is going to move into the first string spot at TE, but your guess is as good as mine as to whether he will translate into a top 10 fantasy TE. There’s just too many questions at the QB position to answer it at this time.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13):
Julius Thomas, TE – The new juice got a 5 year contract as a free agent from Jacksonville.
As is tradition, the Jaguars lost their first round pick to injury – Dante Fowler tore his ACL just days after being drafted. The Jaguars did have a great draft, despite the injury, picking up T.J. Yeldon in the 2nd and Guard A.J. Cann in the third, a guy who will probably start in week 1. With some added protection and tools for Blake Bortles, I expect him to begin the process of getting better. Bortles left a lot to be desired, but he was a constant presence on a team that hasn’t had a real QB since David Gerrard. Bortles is basically the same size as Ben Roethlisberger, and big QB’s have been having a lot of success in the league lately. Bortles has the potential to be an impact player for Jacksonville, but he needs a lot of work to get there. Bortles may be a relevant QB2 in leagues that start 2 QB’s, but even that’s a stretch, for now.
At WR, the situation is rather muddy. I hate to say it, but the departure of Cecil Shorts is likely to go unnoticed in Jacksonville. They have lots of young guys, but nobody who seems to want to step up into the main role. Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Rashad Greene & company are all going to see some of their targets go to Julius Thomas, easily the most talented pass catcher on the team (even if his greatest talent is having played with Peyton Manning). There isn’t much here other than bench depth. If someone goes down, it’s possible that another player gets a big enough role that he’s worth starting in a WR3 role, but I just don’t see the garbage time points that Jacksonville has been known for in the past. They are a team that is slowly improving, and as a result, is less likely to be getting blown out week after week.
The only place where the Jags are relatively loaded would be at RB. Rookie T.J. Yeldon is sitting on top of the depth chart and should get a decent amount of carries. Toby Gerhart will resume his backup role, one that he did well with in Minnesota (though it means zero fantasy production). Denard Robinson should continue to be a wild card and third down back and have limited PPR production value, though that increases if Yeldon can’t get on the field. This rbbc will irritate fantasy owners for sure, but there may be just enough value here for people to keep coming back.
As for the TE position, I feel that Julius Thomas is still a guy who can be in the top 10 TE’s at the end of the year easily. His ADP is 10 for TE’s and 99 overall, so I see some good value here. Be patient and scoop up Thomas late, or let someone else reach for him.
The Titans needed a reboot pretty badly after a terrible 2-14 season in 2014. So that’s what they did. And their offseason moves have been heralded by many as being among the best in the league. Starting from under center, The Titans drafted mobile QB Marcus Mariota at #2 overall to be the new franchise QB in Tennessee. Good riddance Jake Locker! Move over, Zach Mettenberger. Mariota will take the helm of this team in 2015 and with a huge amount of rope as well. As far as how he’ll perform from a fantasy perspective, comparisons to the athleticism and rushing ability of Colin Kaepernick have been made, but Mariota is a more skilled passer out of the box. We expect there to be some stumbling out of the gate, but Mariota should be a serviceable QB2 with a high ceiling going forward. He’ll be very interesting to watch, but unfortunately the rest of the team around him is not good enough to warrant drafting him yet in standard leagues.
Kendall Wright fell off the map last year (not entirely his fault, mostly due to inconsistent QB play) after putting up some impressive stats in his 2nd year (94 receptions for 1079 yards and 2 TDs). Maybe he doesn’t gel very well with Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive scheme? Regardless, Wright is the #1 option for the Titans and will likely finish with an improved, but still mediocre stat line this year. His ADP is in the 15th round and he’s likely off the radar in redraft leagues, though there is value there still in PPR and dynasty leagues as a WR4/5. After Justin Hunter’s arrest for felony assault, it looks like the #2 spot in Tennessee comes down to a battle between newcomer Dorial Green-Beckhamand former Falcon Harry Douglas. Although Green-Beckham is the better raw talent, I’m betting that the veteran Douglas gets the start from day 1. The 6’5”, 237 lb (reported to camp at a stunning 246 lbs) rookie could be an outstanding receiver in the NFL eventually – but for now he is still a project. Lest I forget, Hakeem Nicks is now on the Titans. Eh, his production has declined for four years straight and Tennessee is not exactly the place where you go to revive a dying career. Not expecting much relevance from Nicks.
After the wheels fell off of Shonn Greene, the Titans parted ways with him and look to use a committee at RB in 2015, made up of Bishop Sankey, David Cobb and Dexter McCluster. In his 2nd year, Sankey has been getting the first team reps at Titans’ camp but is looking as mediocre as he did last year (152 rushes for 569 yards and 2 TDs). The magic 8-ball says that all of these running backs will be involved in the offense, making it a frustrating experience for fantasy footballers everywhere. I do think that RB David Cobb may have a bright future in the league, but that is more of a far-off glimmer at this point. Stats from this rag tag group of backs will be disappointing, at best.
Tight end Delanie Walker has enjoyed two fairly productive years in 2013 and 2014 (most recently putting up 63 receptions for 890 yards and 4 TDs) and his ADP is somewhere between the 11th and 12th rounds in standard drafts. With a new QB and only scattered receiving talent on the field otherwise, Walker’s role should only improve in 2015. Many experts have him ranked at the tail end of the top 10 TEs for the upcoming season and I have to agree. He’ll be receiving a lot of dump-off passes from Mariota. Anthony Fasano seems like a great guy, but he’s not fantasy relevant.
Well, week 1 is already in the books and if you are in multiple leagues, I would guess you've been hit with an injury! Notable fantasy related injuries this week include David Johnson, Danny Woodhead, and the focus of this post, Allen Robinson.
Now before we dive into who could pick up the slack on your fantasy team, let’s look at what we lost. After a monster 2015 (80/1400, 14TDs), Robinson put up disappointing numbers in 2016. 73 receptions, 883 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Many experts were expecting a bounce back year and I am sure many teams were drafting AROB as their WR2 in the 4th or 5th round. With a Jaguars team that is more focused on pounding the ball, I expect to see stacked boxes forcing Bortles to throw downfield.
So we've determined a clear void in targets, who is going to step up? The two players getting the most discussion are Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns.
Marqise Lee is expected to be the new WR1 on the Jags and has an opportunity to prove himself. Last year, Lee put up 63/851, 3TDs (He even threw a TD to Blake Bortles on Christmas Eve against the Titans). I was very excited about Lee as a prospect when he was drafted out of USC in 2014 but he has yet to get the spotlight and showcase his talents. He has always been buried on the depth chart and was mostly on the field for 3WR sets. Lee is not a go-up-and-get-it type of receiver, but he does handle the ball well in traffic and is a good deep threat.
Allen Hurns should be no stranger to fantasy owners. In 2015, Hurns went 64/1031, 5TDs, giving fantasy players two respectable WRs to have on the Jaguars (crazy, I know). Last year, Hurns put up 35/477, 3TDs (only played 11 games).
During the preseason this year, the Jags were shopping Hurns and he didn’t draw much interest. There was speculation that he was going to be the 4th or 5th receiver on the charts behind DeDe Westbrook (IR) and Keelan Cole (Rookie from D2 Kentucky-Wesleyan). Hurns has a history with Bortles and I expect them to have the best chemistry of the available players.
Overall this is a poor place to be for the Jags and as a desperate fantasy owner. Of the two, I would lean toward Hurns being a better fantasy asset for the weeks to come. He is a bigger body and has a slightly better track record then Lee. I expect Lee to be more of a possession receiver with his value going to PPR leagues. Hurns will be more of a TD target when defenses are stacking the box in the red zone.
WRs I would target this week before Hurns and Lee would be: Cooper Kupp (26% owned), Kenny Golladay (17% owned), and Kendall Wright (15% owned). Kupp being my favorite WR option of the week.
TLDR: Avoid the Jags WRs and look elsewhere for your WR replacement. Jags are a run first team and I expect their defense to keep them in more games this year so we will not get those glorious garbage points like in years past.
Welcome to Statistically (in)Significant, the place to find great stats that probably only matter at the water cooler (or bar). Each week I'll dig through the stats of the week gone by and deliver you some choice conversation starters. All fantasy stats are standard Yahoo scoring, unless otherwise noted.
20 Fantasy Points per Game
Todd Gurley's monster game in Seattle on Sunday brought his season average up to 20 points per game. There are only 3 active players who average more points per game than Gurley, all of them top end QBs. Ezekiel Elliott is the only non-QB even in Gurley's neighborhood, and he finally returns this week (against the Seahawks, to boot). I do, however, expect Gurley to be on a lot more championship teams than Elliott. The torch in the NFC West has been passed, though maybe not passed so much as ripped from Seattle's grasp with Gurley's 4 touchdowns. In a year where the MVP debate seems to have someone drop out every week, Gurley is looking like the best non-Brady pick of the leftovers.
74-14 Over Two Games
The Jaguars exploded on to the 2017 season in Week 1 by laying a 29-7 whooping on the Texans and announcing their arrival. They completed the season sweep of the Texans this week, this time by a score of 45-7 and clinched their first playoff berth since 2007. The Jaguars scored six touchdowns, and not a single one of them were on your fantasy team. A pair of them from Jaydon Mickens and Tommy Bohannon led the way for Blake Bortles to continue his excellent fantasy streak since Week 12. There will be some waiver pickups this week available from the Jaguars - their matchup against the 49ers looks good, so Keelan Cole will be a guy to check out this week.
4 Passing Touchdowns
A pair of NFC QBs threw four passing TDs each on Sunday, both leading their team to wins while overcoming halftime deficits. Cam Newton was unimpressed with Aaron Rodgers' return, outperforming him at nearly every turn. Newton had no picks to Rodgers' three - his first time doing this since 2009. The Panthers strengthened their playoff resume, with Greg Olsen announcing he's returned, and Christian McCaffrey continuing to roll along, just 26 yards shy of 1000 yards from scrimmage for the year. Nick Foles also threw 4 TDs, though he's in a much different situation than Newton. Foles is taking over for Carson Wentz and had quite a good showing on his first start. He keeps the Eagles in as the #1 seed in the NFC and has a great matchup for Week 16 at home against the Raiders.
5-0 As A Starter
Well, it looks like the 49ers definitely are happy with their choice of QB, as the Jimmy Garappolo era has begun. He's now 3-0 as the 49ers starter (he was 2-0 last year for the Patriots) and has spawned memes with 49ers GM John Lynch. Jimmy G threw for a career high 381 yards on Sunday, but still hasn't surpassed 1 TD in a game this season. This week his matchup against Jacksonville keeps him from being on the streaming radar, but the future is bright for the 49ers and their new QB. Perhaps the biggest fantasy impact on the 49ers is Robbie Gould, who's made 15 field goals in the last 3 weeks. He's responsible for 48 of the team's 66 points in their last three wins. An honorable mention also goes to Marquise Goodwin, who had 10 catches for 114 yards this week.
100+ Receptions 5 Years in a Row
This week's MVP candidate to go down is Antonio Brown. He'll be back for the playoffs, but won't return during the regular season. Before going down, Brown was able to go over 100 catches for his fifth straight season, the first player in league history to do this. The rest of the Steelers delivered on your fantasy hopes, despite the outcome of the game. On the other side, Gronk smashed, Brady led a last minute comeback, and the Patriots won again. Ho hum...I'm getting so sick of the Patriots. I figured the Steelers would have a chance to take them down, but if the AFC Championship game is in Foxboro, then it's going to be a tough road. Perhaps the Jaguars and their league leading 51 sacks can get the job done. The Dolphins gave the league a blueprint for beating the Pats, someone please make it happen in the playoffs this year.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!