Taking a look at the player trends over the past few weeks can reveal some surprising things - it's important, though, to temper expectations in some cases and realize that some great (and some awful) performances can be the product of gameflow as much as the talent and/or rising production of a player. But since each player can only be owned by one team at a time in most standard fantasy leagues, you've got to scoop them up before anyone else and make smart decisions as far as when to play a rising (or falling) star. What do you think about these scenarios? Will the players listed below live up to expectations based on recent weeks? Make sure to check out the podcast to find out which side we take on each player.
Russell Wilson (SEA)
Week 2 @ LA - 22/35, 254 yds, 0 TD, 11.56pts
Week 3 vs SF - 15/23, 243 yds, 1 TD, 14.02pts
Week 4 @ NYJ - 23/32, 309 yds, 3 TD, 23.86pts
Perhaps Russell Wilson is inhuman, after all. Ankle injuries, a knee injury, and who cares, he's still trending upward. With zero interceptions over these three games, he's playing efficient football, which is exactly when he and his team are at its best. Wilson is on bye week 5, so we'll delay our prediction on him by one week. He has upcoming matchups against Atlanta, Arizona and New Orleans, so you should be able to confidently start him from now on. We'll set the line and predict next week.
Cam Newton (CAR)
Week 2 vs SF - 24/40, 353 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT, 30.82pts
Week 3 vs MIN - 21/35, 262 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT, 16.08 pts
Cam Newton exited the week 4 game with a concussion and is currently in the concussion protocol. We know that if he's healthy, he will play. Newton has struggled in recent weeks, though against Minnesota we'd expect that. Last week against Atlanta was more alarming, as the Panthers fell behind and struggled to keep up. Coming up are matchups against Tampa and then New Orleans, a couple of defenses that are giving up lots of points to opposing QB's. We'll start Cam's line at 21 points.
John Brown (ARI)
Week 2 vs TB - 1/3, 14 yds, 1.40pts
Week 3 @ BUF - 6/11, 70 yds, 7.00pts
Week 4 vs LA - 10/16, 144 yds, 14.40pts
John Brown exploded back into the fantasy scene this week with an awesome 16 targets. Though he hasn't reached the end zone yet, his re-introduction to the Cardinals offense was a relief for fantasy owners. Coming up are some tougher defenses, but first he gets a crack at the 49ers. Will he be able to remain in Palmer's crosshairs? We'll start his line at 7.5 points.
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)
Week 2 vs KC - 7/11, 113 yds, 1 TD, 17.30pts
Week 3 @ NE - 4/8, 56 yds, 0 TD, 5.60pts
Week 4 vs TEN - 1/6, 4 yds, 0 TD, 0.40pts
Where oh where has our DeAndre Hopkins gone? Last week's 4 yard performance was really rough to take, especially against Will Fuller's 20 point performance. So, it's tough to tell right now, but is Osweiler favoring Fuller a lot more than anyone thought he might? Is Hopkins just going through a rough patch and will rebound? He has Minnesota and Denver in the next three weeks, so it's going to be tough to get back to where we expect him as a WR1. We'll start his line at 8 points.
Alshon Jeffery (CHI)
Week 2 vs PHI - 5/7, 96 yds, 9.60pts
Week 3 @ DAL - 5/7, 70 yds, 7.00pts
Week 4 vs DET - 3/5, 46yds, 4.60pts
With no touchdowns this season, Alshon Jeffery has his fantasy owners worried. He's declined in yardage each week this year, and it seems like he's not really a favorite target of Brian Hoyer, who seems like he may keep playing QB as long as he plays well. This week, the Bears play the receiver-friendly Colts, so he could be in good shape for a rebound week. We'll start our line for Jeffery at 7 points.
Jordan Howard (CHI)
Week 2 vs PHI - 3/22yds, 2/2 rec, 9 yds, 3.10pts
Week 3 @ DAL - 9/45yds, 6/4 rec, 47 yds, 9.20pts
Week 4 vs DET - 23/111yds, 4/3 rec, 21 yds, 13.20pts
Jordan Howard has confirmed that for now, he's the starting back for the Bears. While Langford is out, Howard is carrying the load all by himself. With Howard's 5.1 yards per carry, compared to Langford's 3.7 - they will be splitting carries once Langford comes back. This week, Howard faces the Colts, who have given up the second most points to opposing running backs. We'll start his line at 9 points.
Matt Forte is the victim of a terrible Jets offense, and his numbers show it. The Jets have totally fallen apart the last two weeks, with 9 picks from Ryan Fitzpatrick over that time. No backs are going to put up good numbers when their offense turns over the ball that often. The bad matchups continue for the Jets, this week against Pitt and next week against Arizona, both on the road. Forte is a sit consideration for me, until the Jets get their offense back on track. We'll start Forte's line out at 11 points.
Week 2 @ LA – 3/4, 42 yds, 0 TD, 4.20pts
Week 3 vs SF – 6/9, 100 yds, 1 TD, 14.00pts
Week 4 @ NYJ, 6/8, 113 yds, 0 TD, 11.30pts
Jimmy Graham finally looks like the guy who left New Orleans all those years ago (fantasy football years are much longer than regular human years). He’s finally gotten into a good rhythm with Russell Wilson, and 17 targets in the last two weeks is a great sign. The 12 receptions is even better, but the yardage totals going up and up are best yet. Graham should wind up being the best red zone threat on the team, and ought to look very good going forward. With Graham on bye, we’ll set our line on him next week.
Week 2 @ WAS – 3/4, 51 yds, 5.10pts
Week 3 vs CHI – 2/2, 25 yds, 2.50pts
Week 4 @ SF – 7/9, 47 yds, 4.70pts
To start the season, it looked like Jason Witten would have a huge role in the Cowboys’ offense, but as Dak Prescott has gotten more and more comfortable, he’s looked Witten’s way less. 14 targets in Week 1 have been followed up by just 15 targets across the last three games. Is Witten’s time of fantasy relevance at an end? Does he need Tony Romo to be worthy of starting? Witten plays the Bengals this week, we’ll start the line at 5 points.
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.
19 Touchdowns in 7 Games
Rookie sensation and new favorite in this column, Deshaun Watson, continued to flash greatness in Seattle on Sunday. He now has 19 passing TD's in the first 7 games of his career, which breaks Kurt Warner's record of 18. Watson is now the front-runner for offensive rookie of the year. In the fantasy world, he has the most points among all players, 176.86 in standard leagues. He's topped 34 points 3 times now, all coming over his last 4 games. He's averaging an astounding 28.36 points per game when he starts and has thrown for at least 3 TD's each of the last 4 games. Watson is even leading all QB's in rushing yards, with 269 and has 2 rushing TD's as well. In short, Deshaun Watson has taken the fantasy football world by storm, and is making everyone on his team much, much better.
3 of the Top 5 WR's
Waiver wire alert! This week, three of the top 5 wide receivers are owned in LESS than 50% of Yahoo leagues. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Paul Richardson, and Robby Anderson may be out there looking to be picked up in your league. They are all solid spot starters to fill in for bye weeks or injuries. All 3 guys are seeing decent volume in terms of their workload, all getting at least 6 targets and 100 yards receiving on Sunday. This week they all found paydirt as well, though you can't count on that every week of course. The two guys in the top 5 who ARE owned in a lot of leagues? Why, Deshaun Watson's teammates, of course. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Filler V combined for a cool 52.9 fantasy points.
4 WR's, 4 RB's
Each week, I've been tracking the relative performance of wide receivers vs. running backs. Over the last couple of years, we've noticed that WR's dominated early, but this year that's been backwards. This week, however, it's starting to even out. Out of the top 10 fantasy players so far this week, there is an even split of 4 WR's and 4 RB's represented in that group. This is easily the most favorable position that WR's have had all year. Last week, the top 10 RB's outscored the WR's by over 3 points, but this week the WR's were on top by over 1 point. My colleague Dave Biggs suggested that quarterbacks get much better as the season goes on, and I think I agree and we're seeing that - this week all QB's combined for 30 TD's and only 20 INT's.
482 of 485 Total Offensive Yards
There was only one player who scored more points than Deshaun Watson on Sunday, and that's the winner of the craziest game of the year, Russell Wilson. Wilson was responsible for 99.4% of his team's total offense, between his 452 passing yards and 30 rushing yards. The rest of the team had a net of 3 rushing yards, or about a half foot per attempt. Of course, stuff like this only happens in a crazy game like we saw on Sunday. According to pro-football-reference.com's win probability, the chances each team could win changed an amazing 24 times. The only thing that was missing from this game was Tony Romo doing the color commentary. Why did you let us down, CBS?
13 Runs Scored
On Sunday afternoon, as with most Sunday afternoons, I was texting my father and brother about the Bears game. I jokingly told my dad that it would be nice to see the Bears offense outscore a baseball team. If only I could harvest my premonitions, my gambling life would be a lot more fun. The Bears, along with 4 other teams, failed to outscore the Houston Astros, who put up 13 runs en route to a win in game 5 of the World Series. The Lions and Raiders would just sneak by with 15 and 14 points respectively, but neither team has cause to be happy with their performances in week 8. Hell, the Lions offense managed just shy of 500 yards from scrimmage, but were unable to score any touchdowns despite 5 trips to the red zone (and two drives that ended just outside).
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.
1500 Yards from Scrimmage
Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram continue to be the most prolific RB tandem that we've seen in a long time. Currently, they're both on pace to pass 1500 yards from scrimmage by the end of the season, a feat that has never occurred with teammates before. Ingram and Kamara are now sitting as the 2nd and 3rd highest scoring fantasy RBs on the season. They've combined for 20 touchdowns on the season. They've been the driving force behind the Saints leading the division and are now 9-3, just a game behind getting a bye in the first week of the playoffs. The Saints are once again an offensive juggernaut, ranking 3rd in the league in rushing. Interestingly enough, they are just 16th in pass attempts, but 3rd in passing yardage. I suppose it helps to have Drew Brees to go along with a pair of amazing RBs.
70+ Yard Plays
Alex Smith had a 70 yard run on Sunday to go along with a 79 yard passing TD to Tyreek Hill. This makes Smith the first player in the Super Bowl-era that has both a passing and rushing play of at least 70 yards in the same game. This was the rebound game that Smith was looking for, despite the outcome, fantasy owners are really happy with his performance. The Chiefs changing signal callers seems to have worked for them, at least for now (reminiscent of the Bengals in Week 3). Now for the Chiefs, they need to figure out how to fix their defense, because giving up 38 points to Josh McCown's Jets just isn't a good look for a team that's still leading a division. Want to know how frustrating it is to be a KC Chief this year? I leave you with Marcus Peters's mini tantrum.
3 Years & 85 Yards
It's been 3 years since we've been able to go nuts with real Josh Gordon hype, and though his return to the field wasn't Flash Gordon style, it was very promising. Gordon, you'll remember, led the league in receiving yards in 2013 with 1,646 on 87 receptions in only 14 games. That season he went over 100 yards 7 times and over 200 yards twice (in a row). He had 8 games with touchdowns and was a fantasy juggernaut. On Sunday, he had a very tough matchup against a Chargers passing defense that hasn't had a 100-yard receiver all season. In fact, the only player to get more yards than his 85 (4 rec out of 11 targets) was Odell Beckham Jr. way back in Week 5. The volume of his targets is very encouraging, now if only you could have any faith whatsoever in DeShone Kizer.
85.7% of His Team's Offense
Russell Wilson demands to be a part of the MVP discussion. Not that he would ever say that out loud. No, the leader of the Seahawks speaks exclusively in cliché's (I think I counted 7 in his extremely brief post-game interview on NBC). Going in to Sunday's game, he accounted for well over 80% of his team's total offense by yards. He got a little break with the help of the briefest glimmer of a run game and only had to handle about 78% of his team's offense last night as they took down the former top team in the NFC. Wilson's continued ability to just do whatever the hell he wants is incredible, considering the offensive line crumbles around him every play. He's certainly the fantasy football MVP, considering he was drafted at the end of the 5th round and is the highest scoring player in the league, by a decent margin.
27-3 Against Buffalo
Tom Brady owns the Bills. Even, arguably, more than Roethlisberger owns the Browns (he does own their stadium, however). No quarterback in the Super Bowl era has more victories against a single team. In that game, he also became the 4th QB to eclipse 65,000 passing yards for his career. That's about 37 miles of passing yards or 2600 fantasy points. Brady, now 40 years old, is currently leading the league in completions with 300 and passing yards with 3632 and has his 14th straight double digit win season as the Patriots starter (yes, they still won double digit games when he didn't play in 2008). The Patriots are, once again, the team to beat in the AFC had are on a collision course for a huge game in Pittsburg in Week 15. That game will likely determine home field advantage in the AFC playoffs, provided the Patriots can get by without Gronk in Week 14.
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!
Peterman completed 6-of-14 passes for 66 yards with five interceptions. Wow, Buffalo. Nice work. In this episode, we'll be touching on the Bills' and NFL fantasy players going forward as well as the other highs and lows of Week 11 and what they mean to your fantasy squad.