As I was watching this game on NFL Rewind, like I do with a fair amount of games each week, it dawned on me just how many young Fantasy Football prospects were involved. We all know that numbers can be deceiving, and if you are putting a lot of stock in simply boxscores you will get burnt. What I plan to do from here on out, depending on the results, is to write multiple posts a week detailing my observations and the implications to Fantasy Football. Hell, I’ll even throw some non-fantasy nuggets in there as well. The learned a lot of helpful info from this game and hope it translates into more efficiency, wins. During this first ever “Prospect Watch” I noticed some obvious, interesting, and unfortunate developments that I previously did not know. Thus, without further ado….
Josh Gordon looks worth the 2nd round pick the Browns used to draft him in the supplemental draft and whatever you paid to get him on your fantasy team. He was really close to scoring 3 TDs on Sunday. In addition to the one he scored, he was pushed out at the two on a similar play to his score and dropped a critical deep ball for the lead late (which most have seen). Brandon Weeden has surpassed my expectations and that’s primarily because he is showing toughness. He is willing to stand and deliver in the pocket. That’s why the last Gordon drop was painful, because Weeden took a shot as he released the bomb. He has MLB arm talent and with what else he has shown, I believe Gordon will remain a hot commodity, moreover it matches strength and strength for the two players. He isn’t getting many targets underneath, but he will continue to see Shots, Shots, Shots….
- Translation: If you picked him up, don’t hesitate to use or keep using him. If you don’t have him and need a WR you should make a play for him, feel out the other owner who could have more than enough options (you may end up with someone else they’ve soured on) which can only lead to good things.
I hate to speculate about injuries, but lots of people are talking about Trent Richardson, so I’m chiming in with what I observed. It looked like he took a rough shot on the first drive of the game and ran a lot safer after that. First known for his elusiveness, Richardson has developed a violent running style that simply wasn’t present on Sunday. Also, it’s hard to trust what he says as last week he said he was fine and then Sunday he said it was worse than others think…huh?
- Translation: It’s tough to trust him this weekend, no matter what he says. As an owner unless you’re truly desperate you might want them to sit him down until he is 100%. BELOW in the notes is what to expect in terms of the workload IF TRich is to miss any time.
For anyone thinking of plugging Vick Ballard in their lineup this week, you may want to think again. Before the fourth quarter, when the Colts were in full clock-killing mode (arguably they were for most of the second half), it was a tight timeshare between Ballard and Delone Carter. In fact, Delone Carter looked pretty damn good…perhaps he was the better runner. Ballard was over 100 yards last week, but that had a lot to do with the lead Indy had and his fourth quarter production (lots of carries and a big run) which might not be the case this week. While I don’t expect the Titans to blow them out, they haven’t won a game on the road the last two seasons and CJ2K should run all day.
- Translation: BEWARE of BALLARD. Try to go elsewhere for your “flex” needs. Feel good if you have Brown or pick him up if he was hastily dropped.
At a time when a lot of other tight ends are trending downwards, see: Pitta, Dennis, I was surprised to see an old name show some game. Mr. Ben Watson (not Randy); had a TD called back, made a big play, and a couple other catches. If you scrapping for someone or something other than Gordon, he looked viable. You could probably do worse in deeper formats.
When TRich went down, Hardesty showed the nice burst that many hoped he would bring to the Browns when he left his Tennessee (split with Arian Foster his Jr. year and looked good). Unfortunately, it’s worth noting Ogbonnaya was the 3rd down back so he wouldn’t necessarily be a workhorse without Richardson.
Haden didn’t shadow Reggie, so the Colts were happy to move him back home to the left & slot and work him. Avery would’ve drew two PIs from Haden had Luck not thrown the second out of bounds. Hilton had a bad drop and an alignment penalty. Luck is gonna look for Avery downfield and they’ve just missed on a big play the last couple weeks. He is a solid upside play this week vs Tenn. Hilton has cut into his targets and even Brazil got a deep ball. But vs. Tenn they should be able to get whatever they want. Hopefully they wanna go deep.
For the deeeeeep leaguers, this Cooper character got open. And Benjamin was more involved late, as they passed more in an effort to comeback.
Here’s a thing or two I observed about each game played in Week 7, from Redzone or Rewind, in my 10+ hours of watching football.
Seattle at San Francisco
- The 49ers officially have the best OL in the league. In the second half they took it to Seattle with old fashioned smashmouth football.
- Behind that OL, it seems Coach Harbaugh is losing trust in his QB, Alex Smith. Not only has Colin Kaepernick been working into the mix but the playcalling has gotten very conservative, especially on 3rd down.
Washington at NY Giants
- Alfred Morris is as strong as an Ox, best story no one is talking about.
- Cruz is only making $540,000 this season but is worth a ton more than that.
Arizona at Minnesota
- Skelton likely cost his team the game with turnovers and bad decisions. Coach Whiz didn’t help the cause either.
- Harrison Smith and Letroy Guion are becoming the next generation of stars on that defense. Unfortunately, their schedule gets much tougher the rest of the way.
Dallas at Carolina
- Dallas should rely on their defense to win games. It’s that good. Their OL is that bad, especially with Costa going down. Also, Romo and Dez are that inconsistent.
- Carolina needs to cut the bull and run a real, even basic offense. They are stunting the growth of their franchise QB.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay
- Neither team can stop a nose bleed.
- Brees on pace to break his own yardage record.
- Freeman finally trusts Jackson and Clark might finally get some play, hay.
Green Bay at St. Louis
- Discount double Champ is back … Rodgers!!
- Woodson injury is tough break for a weak defense already, more shootouts.
- StL fought admirably and the defense is much improved despite giving up 30.
Baltimore at Houston
- Flacco still not the same on road. More fizzle than sizzle for damaged D.
- Houston took care of business early. Still not convinced they have a killer instinct though.
Cleveland at Indianapolis
- Weeden continues to impress by throwing in the face of pressure. Their defense much improved, too.
- Luck shut down in the second half.
Tennessee at Buffalo
- That Bills D was rebuilt to bust. Sorry B-Lo.
- For the second straight week I was very impressed with the Titans OL.
NY Jets at New England
- Remarkable performance by Jets who were down their best CB, WR, DT, and RB for a while to the Pats on the road. Woulda, coulda, shoulda won.
- Belichick is mixing and matching his secondary to find that perfect combination. I guess he realized you don’t get anything for going 16-0.
Jacksonville at Oakland
- Just when Gabbert looks OK, he gets injured….still, never liked him.
- Palmer have some gas left in the can.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
- Might as well call Big Ben the mayor of Cincinnati…at least one night a year.
- Bengals blew it by choosing BGE over Michael Bush. They should try to get SJax cheap.
Detroit at Chicago
- The Lions haven’t played a good game probably over a year. Stafford’s mechanics are a mess and for some reason won’t throw an elevated pass to Megatron.
- Chicago has the best defense in the league and they play a lot of zone. But not your father’s bland cover-2. They’re multiple.
(Please, comment with what you saw or learned.)
I’m back and better than ever… and here’s that joke of a rap by TO as compensation for my absence. “I got the recipe, so I’m jumping in the kitchen.” Just kidding…
Anyway, since I’m jumping in mid-season I’ll try to keep it current. Feel free to ask about any player, whether you want to add them or drop them. Since it’s tough for me to tell who is available in your league as it’s dependent on size, competitiveness, etc. I added an “if available” section which includes guys owned in 60%+ of ESPN Fantasy Football leagues.
In this edition I’m breaking down the RBs, WRs, and TEs. On Wednesday, sleepers for every position will be posted. An appetitizer: Dolphins D/ST off the bye vs. the Jets, ho have be let down after strong performance that deserved a win. MIA should bottle up the run and force NYJ to pass. I like the revenge angle, too.
Rashad Jennings – The obvious top pickup, if you want to know what people think of this guy look at all the overreaction and over-drafting of him this preseason. Still, in today’s NFL there are few teams that commit to the run like Jacksonville and he’s top Jag for the foreseeable future.
La “Hot Rod” Stephens – Howling: Remarkable performance against the Vikings D. Wouldn’t go crazy trying to acquire him because of the poor OL, but showed he can hide from that problematic OL and find yardage. More appealing in PPR, while he’s probably not gonna lead you to a championship, his schedule gets a lot easier after Week 10. As with many aspects of fantasy football, patience is a virtue.
Phillip Tanner – According to Matt Moseley Murray is looking doubtful for this week and Tanner was working 60/40ish with Jones against the Panthers. Upside if Murray is out longer, or Felix gets hurt again, and you could do worse with a flex vs. Giants.
[if available: Brown, Bolden, Hunter, Richardson]
Ryan Broyles: With Burleson injured, the former stud of the Sooners is getting his chance to play. The Lions use a ton of 3 WR and Young has been inconsistent. A case of talent getting an opportunity.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Began reaping in the benefits of playing with one of my favorites Denarius Moore in Week 7. With defenses committed to double and stop Moore, HeyBeyBey gets singled and can win those one-on-ones deep.
Leonard Hankerson – Led the Redskins in targets. Probably a tossup between him and Josh Morgan (had a TD called back in week 7), but I’ll give the node to the young guy who didn’t cost his team a game earlier in the season.
Joe Morgan – I just wanted to include this picture, because it was a sick play that reminded me of the WWF. But seriously, I think everyone was impressed and he plays on NOLA. They play little D and appear to be for more shootouts with Philly, ATL, and others in upcoming weeks. There should be enough to go around if you’re desperate, and it’s not like Colston, Moore, and Henderson are healthy.
Chris Givens (if Gibson gone) – Didn’t dominate snaps like he did last week, but is playing a lot and keeps making deep plays. Like this guy as a prospect more than anyone else on the list and Week 8 vs New England could be his true breakout game. Bradford throws a great deep ball and this guy has the speed to get past the D and underneath the throw.
Cecil Shorts: He has been very productive in limited snaps this season and Sunday he produced when given an opportunity to start. He caught 4 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. It’s going to be hard to expect consistency from anything in Jacksonville’s passing offense. Deeper, upside add.
[if available: Gordon (duh), Kurley, Gibson, Hill]
Dustin Keller: If he was dropped, obvious pickup. Don’t go crazy.
Rob Housler: Many thought the change to Skelton would benefit Fitz, but it didn’t since he was relentlessly doubled. It was Housler who produced during the meat of the game (Roberts in garbage time). Skelton did not look very good and leaning on Housler helped him and hopefully he can help you. This was the second game I’ve seen him flash plus athleticism.
[if available: Olsen, Myers]
- Lastly, some advice: Bye weeks can be rough…especially with injuries. But, don’t lose sight on the fact that it is just one week and perhaps one loss. Don’t give away a potential stud or even waiver claim to go for the win now.