The hits keep coming. With Arian Foster out for the year, the door is open for Ben Tate to take the job and run with it, and he will, until he gets hurt again. It may not be accurate to label him injury prone, but staying healthy has never been his strong suit. That makes Dennis Johnson, a poor man’s Andre Ellington, worth a speculative add if he is still available. As you recall, Ellington was largely ignored on draft day because he was too small. He didn’t fit the prototypical feature back role. That may be partially true, but speed can trump a lot of issues and Johnson has it (4.47 40). DJ is one injury away from being at least a flex option or possibly an RB2 if the injury bug bit you. He’s not going to get much up the middle, nor is he going to break many tackles, but if the Texans can get him in space he can earn his cabbage there.
Tony Romo owners shouldn’t panic yet, but at least mild concern is warranted. Over the last five weeks, Romo is ranked 11th in fantasy production, making him an inconsistent low-end QB1 that just might sink your ship during an off week. The good news is the Cowboys have the bye week to regroup before facing some of the poorer pass defenses over the final five weeks. Then again, the Redskins held him to just 11.5 in Week 6. Nothing has been easy for Romo lately. If you have room, you might want to start scouting for a plan B just in case.
I’ll have some thoughts for the FFFC at Fanduel.com later this week.
There aren’t any bargain signal callers that jump off the page. Philip Rivers ($8,100) is attractive because Denver’s specialty is scoring points, and that’s a good recipe for opposing fantasy QB’s as they try to catch up. Apart from that, if you want to roll the dice…
Josh McCown ($5,800) is extremely cheap and has Martellus Bennett, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte to throw to. The Bears host the Lions, who lead the NFL in most pass attempts per game. Once again, there’s a good chance that the Bears will be forced to keep pace.
Seneca Wallace ($5,000) will get a week of practice with the starters, can run well and has Jordy Nelson and James Jones to YAC their way to the end zone. He’s not for the risk averse, but at the same time 20 points would not be a shock and you can save $4,000 to $5,600 in salary versus the elite options.
Le'Veon Bell ($7,200) is running well and getting about 20 touches a game. He’s due to find the end zone more often. The Bills aren’t the best matchup, but the price is reasonable.
Shonn Greene ($4,900) did something you don’t see every day this past Sunday…he broke a tackle. That is not a misprint. Not only that, he demonstrated decent speed. Who is this man wearing #23 for the Titans and what has he done with the REAL Shonn Greene? You can’t count on more than 10 touches, but the Titans should hold the lead at home against the Jaguars and Greene is an inexpensive gamble that should get a couple of red zone looks and could post 10+ points if he finds pay dirt.
Eddie Lacy ($6,800) has 22+ touches five consecutive weeks. That should continue with Aaron Rodgers sidelined. The box will be stacked and his yards per carry should fall slightly as a result (though he had 6.8 YPC vs. the Bears).
Eric Decker ($6,200) is going to bust out one of these weeks. Will this week be the one?
T.Y. Hilton ($6,000) is still ridiculously cheap even though Reggie Wayne is out for the season. I think seven catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns on a season- high 12 targets is worth chasing another week.
Martellus Bennett ($5,600) received eight targets last week and 12 at Ford Field in Week 4. This time, the Motor City kitties travel to the Windy City. Bennett came within a gnat’s eyelash of scoring against the Packers and is a good bet to find the end zone in Week 10.
Andrew Quarless ($4,500) was targeted a season high seven times with Seneca Wallace at the helm. Will it continue? It will only cost you the minimum to find out. It should be mentioned that the Eagles haven’t given up many points to tight ends this year.
If you want to make consistent money over the long term in daily/weekly fantasy leagues, you need to play in Head-to Head leagues, with a large bankroll and a diversified “portfolio” of multiple entries in straight up H2H matchups, or better yet, in multiple 50/50 leagues with a high number of entries. You only have to be marginally better than average to turn a profit. I won’t be discussing that here. Instead, we’ll look at some strategies if you want to increase your percentages in search of the big carrot – a million greenbacks.
Kickers are a crapshoot. Period. So always spend the absolute minimum here unless you have some extra payroll to burn. Beyond that, you want kickers on winning teams, preferably with strong legs that are as accurate as possible. You want these traits in THAT ORDER. The most important thing at any position is opportunity. Obviously, teams that are ahead or at least close are more likely to attempt field goals than teams that are being blown out, so pick kickers on teams that have at least a chance of winning or being competitive. Longer field goals are worth more than short ones, so leg strength is the next important factor. Avoid horrible weather, rainstorms, snow, and heavy winds. If you have the luxury, select kickers playing in a dome, which eliminates Mother Nature’s fickle elements. If you can’t get ALL of those things, that is OK, just don’t waste money. Note that Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and Soldier Field in the Windy City are notorious for swirling winds that can give kickers fits and decrease accuracy.
In contrast to kickers, I advocate spending a premium on Defense. You want a defense with talent on the defensive line and at linebacker going up against teams with issues on the offensive line that have trouble protecting inexperienced and/or poor quarterbacks.
The rest of my roster: running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks, I like to implement strategies that will maximize my total points. This will usually be at the expense of average points. I will often implement what I call clustering mixed with some form of “stud-and-scrub” combination. Clustering is simply selecting players that have related outcomes. The most obvious is a quarterback and receiver on the same team. A good way to illustrate this is a real lineup I submitted Sunday morning in a qualifier for a million dollar contest:
QB – Tony Romo
QB – Matthew Stafford
WR – Calvin Johnson
WR – Dez Bryant
TE – Rob Gronkowski
Defense – Kansas City
RB – Andre Ellington
RB – Chris Ivory
Flex – Kenny Stills
Flex – Marvin Jones
Dallas was giving up the most points to QB’s and Calvin Johnson is one of the most prolific receivers of all time. I figured that would translate to a lot of Detroit points, forcing Tony Romo to throw to Dez Bryant to keep pace. If one team scores, it increases the odds of the other team scoring. Plus, they’re all elite fantasy performers. Gronkowski and Kansas City rounded out the studs, though they both disappointed. Kenny Stills is merely a situational deep threat, but situational deep threats do bust out with huge games every now and then. I think you can see the idea here. The “scrubs” were all relatively low percentage plays with huge ceilings and low salary requirements. You’re just throwing darts here, but select intelligent darts. It wasn’t perfect, but this cluster did very, very well. In fact, heading into Monday night it was sitting in second place out of 2,612 teams, just shy of the prize. I had another lineup that featured Robert Griffin III, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and Eric Decker. That lineup crashed and burned. That’s to be expected. It’s an all or nothing contest, so that’s the approach you must take.
Justin Blackmon was the cornerstone of virtually every single fantasy football team that I drafted this fall. There he was, a WR1 available in the 8th round, free for the taking. The only catch was that he came packaged with five “bye” weeks (1-4 and 9). Then the dreaded news came Friday afternoon that there would be much more than that. The truth is there is NO possible way you recover from this kind of loss. There is no magic elixir. There are no elite wide receivers on the wire to take his place. Sure, there might be a Joseph Fauria who might give you lightning in a bottle on a given week if you douse the waiver wire adroitly, but those who put their trust in the sophomore from Oklahoma State just have to take their lumps and accept that they’re going to have to go to war with fewer points on Sunday afternoons. Mastersball’s own Ryan Carey has been doing great work here every Wednesday pointing out the potential free agent assets that may be floating on the wire, so I’ll leave that arena to him this week. Check back in this space on Friday and we’ll look at some potential values and bargains for this weekend’s FFFC qualifiers at Fanduel.
Matthew Stafford ($9,200) leads the NFL in pass attempts. Dallas leads the league in fantasy points allowed to QB’s. I think that’s a pretty good combination even though Detroit is favored in this matchup.
Knowshon Moreno ($7,700) has received 49 carries and 21 targets the last three games and he’s still a Bronco. Oh, and Washington is giving up the 4th most fantasy points to RB’s.
Le’Veon Bell ($7,000) is still a relatively good value and is a good bet for at least 20 touches against the Raiders.
Kris Durham ($4,600) has received 29 targets the last three games, gets the Cowboys and is super cheap. Sign me up.
Jarrett Boykin ($6,300) has an excellent matchup and he’s relatively inexpensive. The risk is that the Packers will probably start the blowout early and take the air out of the ball with Eddie Lacy, with fewer passes from Aaron Rodgers.
Detroit’s secondary has issues and Dez Bryant ($8,800) will visit Ford Field this weekend.
Jordan Reed ($5,400) broke out in Week 7, is relatively cheap and I’m betting that he’s not a flash in the pan. Washington will travel to Mile High, so you know the Redskins will be playing catch-up and RG3 will be forced to throw the rock quite a bit. Reed caught all nine of his targets against the Bears.
Caleb Sturgis is simply a $5,000 kicker. Nothing more. I don’t have the funds left to spend heavy on a position that’s mostly a crapshoot anyway.
Seattle ($6,000) is pricey, but worth it when they are facing a backup (Kellen Clemens).
Quarterback – Thaddeus Lewis ($5,500) is far from a sure thing this week, but he’s a weapon on the ground and will be forced to throw a lot as the Bills try to play catch-up and he could put up numbers in garbage time. Ben Roethlisberger’s price is down ($7,100) after facing the Jets and the Ravens in back to back weeks. Big Ben travels to Oakland on Sunday.