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Tuesday 28th Mar 2017

I can’t ever recall a weekend with so much carnage on the gridiron. How do the events of Sunday impact the fantasy landscape?

Darrius Heyward-Bey received a season high 7 targets and found the end zone en route to a 17.4-point performance. Expect DHB to become more involved in the Colt offense now that Reggie Wayne is out for the season with a torn ACL. He’s been dropped in a few leagues and is definitely worth the add for receiver depth. LaVon Brazil flashed during the 2012 preseason and as a result was a target of mine in 2012 draft champions leagues. Brazil is probably not worth a pickup yet unless you’ve got dead weight on your roster, but he is someone to keep an eye on.

Mike James ran well Sunday in relief of the injured Doug Martin. He is a good blocker, so he should be on the field for both passing and running plays and should also receive the bulk of the snaps while Doug Martin recovers. The Buccaneers have a tough schedule coming up but a starting running back is a starting running back. Bobby Rainey looked very good for the Ravens during the preseason before ultimately getting waived by both Baltimore and Cleveland. Tampa signed him in the wake of Martin’s labrum tear and he’s the current handcuff to James while Martin is sidelined.

Sam Bradford joined the wreckage on Sunday. With his season over, Kellen Clemons will fill in the rest of the way. Tentatively downgrade the entire Rams offense with the exception of Zac Stacy as Clemons may check down to him, increasing receptions for the rookie.

Thankfully, Jermichael Finley has made it out of the intensive care unit. He remains sidelined indefinitely. The Packers offense has been decimated and Andrew Quarless could get targets by default. The third year pro out of Penn State is a big target (6’4” 252 lbs.) and has the upside of a 2012 version of Brandon Myers. For Week 8, he’s more of a stash and hold than an immediate plug into your starting lineup until we see how he is deployed.

C.J. Spiller’s touches have been limited most weeks as he’s been dinged up since Week 1. His teammate Fred Jackson injured his knee on Sunday. That makes Tashard Choice worth a look for those truly desperate for touches.

Tavarres King was a target of mine in draft champions formats this fall. The Broncos drafted him, and Mile High Stadium seemed to be the perfect place for a sleeper in the event that injuries befell the Denver WR corps. Brandon LaFell made an appearance on the injury report Monday, and interestingly the Panthers claimed King off waivers from the Broncos. He’s not worth a roster spot yet, but keep an eye on his snap count and usage in coming weeks as he might turn into a viable WR4 if he gets the opportunity.

That’ll do it for today, folks. Come back Friday and I’ll have a couple of thoughts for this weekend’s matchups at Fanduel. 

 

Quarterback

I imagine Peyton Manning ($10,400) has had this date circled on his calendar for weeks. He’s the most expensive player at any position, but he also outpaces the other options by a sizeable gap. Something tells me the former Colt won’t be looking to let up on the gas even with a large lead. The Colts have not yielded many points to immobile quarterbacks, but Ryan Tannehill threw for over 300 yards and I’m betting Manning won’t have any trouble matching that and then some.

Wide Receiver

Justin Blackmon’s price is rising ($7,100) but he’s still a must-start and the best value play yet again, even with Cecil Shorts on the field.

Philadelphia has given up 102 receptions (1st), 13 touchdowns (1st) and 1,321 yards (3rd) to receivers this year. Dez Bryant will need Philly to keep pace with the Cowboys for him to be worth his salary ($9,000).

Eric Decker ($6,500) is a good price to complete my Denver QB-WR hookup. Demaryius Thomas has had two consecutive quiet weeks and I have a feeling that he is the Bronco most likely to bust out, but his salary ($8,200) is too rich to roster and still keep my other options.

Running Back

I’ve heard many doubts about Brandon Jacobs ($5,500) finding the fountain of youth last week. They say lightning never strikes twice. I’m hoping it does. The heavy spending at quarterback and receiver forces me into cheap options in the backfield and the Vikings are surrendering the most points to backs. A decent chunk of that has been through the air, but beggars can’t be choosers and you aren’t going to find many options this inexpensive that have even a prayer of scoring well.

Joseph Randle ($5,500) is taking first team reps this week and is expected to get a lot of touches against the Redskins due to DeMarco Murray’s injury. That should be all you need to know.

Tight End

Jermichael Finley ($5,900) could receive a few more targets with Randall Cobb out and James Jones questionable.

Kicker

Nick Novak ($5,100) is just another inexpensive leg on a winning team.

Defense

I still love the defensive line of the Detroit Lions ($5,000). Ndamukong Suh and Ziggy Ansah have the tools to give Andy Dalton fits.

On the Fence

QB - Robert Griffin III ($8,200) has regained some of his speed and is a weapon again with his legs. Eli Manning ($6,800) is due and gets the Vikings’ weak secondary.

RB - DeAngelo Williams ($6,400) has a good matchup against the Lambs.

WR - Alshon Jeffrey’s salary ($5,900) is still skewed low due to some down weeks early in the season but his ceiling is high. Rueben Randle ($5,500), Keenan Allen ($4,500) and Kris Durham ($5,000) are all inexpensive fillers if you spent $ at other positions. Jarrett Boykin ($5,000) is a possible play if James Jones is out Sunday morning.

TEJeff Cumberland ($4,600) is at least getting a few targets. Charles Clay ($4,900) has received at least six targets each game and has found the end zone in consecutive weeks. Joseph Fauria ($5,200) scored thrice last Sunday and should continue to get looks in the red zone.

In my quest for Fanduel’s million, this is my lineup:

Quarterback

Robert Griffin III ($8,200) is not even remotely close to the form he displayed in his rookie season, but he gets his fantasy work done playing catch up. I’ll take the points any way they come.

Running Backs

Knowshon Moreno ($7,000) figures to get plenty of touches while Peyton starts to take the air out of the ball once he opens up a big lead. Yes there are other mouths to feed, but it seems none of the Broncos’ weapons ever goes hungry. Moreno is averaging almost 15 touches over the last four weeks.

Arian Foster ($8,600) gets a home matchup against the St. Louis Lambs. The Texans should have the lead most of the way, which is always good for RB touches. Not to mention the old Foster is back.

Wide Receivers

Pierre Garcon ($7,000) is RG3’s number one target in what should be a high-scoring affair. The price is right.

Justin Blackmon ($6,200) is the most underrated fantasy asset on the planet. His YAC skills are second only to Megatron and at $6,200, if you enter 30 teams this week, Blackmon better be in 31 of your lineups.

Terrance Williams ($5,600) could be a value trap in Week 6, especially with the expected return of Miles Austin, but the price fits what is left in my wallet and the upside is there.

Tight End

Jason Witten ($7000) is the play here to double down on the Redskins/Cowboys matchup. I’m hoping it’s a shootout. After Jimmy Graham, not much separates the salaries of the other elite TE’s.

Defense

Cincinnati Bengals ($5,300) get to feast on Thaddeus Lewis, who was just promoted from the practice squad to make his first start of the year.

Kicker

Nick Folk ($5,000) is inexpensive and the Jets will likely either have the lead or be close.

On the Fence

Darren Sproles’ ($6,800) usage is rather inconsistent week to week. He was down last week. No, he’s not a sine wave but the bounce-back will come at some point and when it does it can bust the ceiling.

DeAngelo Williams ($6,300) is the bargain hunter’s special this week, facing the Vikings.

Danny Woodhead ($6,100) is a blue light special and is always involved in the passing game.

Denarius Moore ($5,000) offers big play ability for very little coin.

Keenan Allen ($4,500) is another bargain that could easily hit pay dirt.

My Week 6 lineup posted here last week was good enough to make the top 5%, but not good enough for a ticket to Vegas. That’s why I usually duplicate a couple of the same entries in Head-to-Head matchups or in 50/50 tournaments. As long as you can outperform half the field you’ll at least get most of your FFFC entry fee back in the 50/50’s.

This was the lineup for the team leading the qualifier heading into Monday night:

Nick Foles 30.04

Knowshon Moreno 31.9

DeMarco Murray 12

Wes Welker 15.3

Justin Blackmon 26

Antonio Brown 13.7

Vernon Davis 34

Matt Prater 5

Cincinnati Bengals 7

Davis was a premium matchup play as the Cardinals are giving up the most points to tight ends. Prater was kicking at altitude (can’t hurt his chances for a long one) and kicking for a heavy favorite. For the second consecutive week, Blackmon presented himself as the best value play of the season. Taking a cheap quarterback such as Foles enabled him to spend on Murray, Welker, Brown and Davis.

Stop back on Friday and I’ll have some picks for Week 7 of the FFFC at Fanduel.

Tavon Austin is ranked 71st in PPG, coming in at an 8.8 clip. That’s low-end WR6 territory. He was on my bust list in September. At the last second, I wrote Todd and had him removed from my list. Why? Game tape. I watched too much game tape of him and saw what many others saw: amazing speed and lateral quickness that jumps off the screen. I was duped just like everyone else and pushed out of my mind what mattered most. He’s still a 5’9” 171 pound rookie that had all the earmarks of a glorified Andrew Hawkins (5’7” 175 pounds). As it turns out, Austin is slightly underperforming what the Bengal slot receiver produced last year. His snap count has been trending in the wrong direction four consecutive weeks and he received only one target on Sunday. He has become unstartable.

My personal favorite fantasy football contest of all time was the FFOC, the Fantasy Football Open Championship. Why? Well it offered, to date, the biggest carrot the Fantasy Sports Industry has ever seen: one million dollars. Ironically, it culminated in the most grueling, most painful spectator fandom experience imaginable. Fifteen finalists, among thousands of competing teams, would receive an all expenses paid trip to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Fourteen of them would be subject to the ultimate tease of watching their millionaire dreams crumble before their Strip smitten eyes. Fortunately and unfortunately, I was subject to this torture in consecutive years, both in 2008 and again in 2009. In the inaugural season of the contest, I was two plays away from the jackpot. In its second and final season, just one play stood in the way of a million greenbacks. This is the merciless nature of the sport we compete in. All skill can really do is put you in the top circle, then you just hope and pray that the fantasy football gods smile upon you in the final weeks of the playoffs. Luck breaks both ways. As long as our skill is up to the task of getting us close, lady luck will eventually smile upon us and the fates will relent and allow us to bask in the joy of victory. The only problem is that your traditional high stakes league takes a good 4-6 months and countless hours of work; week in and week out grinding the waiver wire and diligent lineup maintenance. After all that, we can make all the right moves and all the right lineup decisions and still injuries and fluke plays can seal our doom. It might take 50 trials for all of the luck to even out, and waiting until we are 90+ years old to finally hit the big one isn’t the most glorious proposition.

Fanduel.com has an answer. With weekly leagues in football and daily leagues in baseball, you can run through 170 “trials” every single year, more than enough time for things to even out. I’ve been dipping my toes into Fanduel’s waters and the temperature is fine. They also have their Fantasy Football Championship with a $1,000,000 grand prize and a $300,000 second place purse to take away the sting for the runner-up. Come back later this week and I’ll post my entry into the hottest contest in the industry along with my take on some good plays this weekend.

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