Anthony Maggio and Bo Mitchell will be here all season delivering the edge you need to dominate your fantasy football league. Visit 1500espn.com each Wednesday for a new column and each Thursday for a new episode of the Fantasy Football Pants Party podcast.
Goodbye to Another
The annual journey to a fantasy football title can end at any moment. Countless owners of teams full of promise watch helplessly as their star players succumb to devastating injuries and see their hopes of a title wither and die as winter wraps its icy cold hands around us. It’s been a particularly gruesome season in this regard, and got no better on Sunday. Joining Jamaal Charles, Le’Veon Bell, Steve Smith, Arian Foster, Keenan Allen and other blue chippers on the sideline for the remainder of 2015 was Patriots running backDion Lewis. He surprised us, he thrilled us, he led us to fantasy glory, and just like that-it’s over. The good news for fantasy owners is that considering Lewis was a post-draft revelation, many are likely to have backup plans to remain in contention. If you’ve otherwise avoided the minefield that is the NFL’s injured reserve list, don’t start counting your winnings just yet. There is plenty of time for the fantasy gods to smite you as well.
In the wake of Lewis’ premature end to the 2015 season, you’re certainly wondering who’s next up to snatch off your league’s waiver wire. And while I wish I had a good answer for you here, my hands are a little tied considering the Belichick factor. Brandon Bolden scored in Lewis’ stead on Sunday, but James White was inactive. With Lewis freeing up an active roster spot, Bolden could just as easily go back to being a special teams guy only while White becomes the passing back. Or White could be active and stand on the sideline all game. White did little with Lewis hurt earlier this season, so I’m not terribly excited about his prospects this time around. But truth be told, I’m not terribly excited about either of these guys. I expect LeGarrette Blountto be on the field more, with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola soaking up more of the short stuff Lewis was converting.
Watch your (Quarter)back
In other injury news, Andrew Luck‘s strong performance against Denver came with a lacerated kidney and partial abdomen tear. The guy is apparently part terminator. Though since he’s also part human, he’ll be out 2-6 weeks. Considering Allen is on IR with his own lacerated kidney, I have to wonder if that timeline isn’t a wee bit optimistic. Anyway, Matt Hasselbeck will be back under center for Indy, which in turn is a downgrade for your other Colts fantasy contributors.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger sprained his foot and will likely miss a couple of weeks. But with a bye coming up in Week 11 anyway, he may only sit one game. Jacksonville wide receiver Allen Hurns also sprained his foot and was in a walking boot on Monday, though he’s still hopeful to play in Week 10.
And of course, touchdown Teddy Bridgewater left Sunday’s Vikings game with a concussion. He passed the first part of the NFL protocol on Monday, but his status for Week 10 is still uncertain.
Kind of a Big Deal situations
Is Drew Brees back? I have reason to believe he might be. He stumbled out of the gate as he dealt with his own shoulder injury early this season that potentially slowed him down, not to mention the adjustment to life without Jimmy Graham. Brees seems to be making more questionable decisions than usual this season, too, but it’s hard to argue with his recent results-nearly 900 passing yards and 10 touchdowns with another on the ground for good measure the past two weeks. Brees is certainly no stranger to the big game, though prior to Week 7’s blowup against the Giants they were barely even Facebook friends. Brees hadn’t thrown for even three scores in a single game since Week 15 of last season. But here’s what I like going forward. First, Brees has been sacked just seven times his past four games after getting taken down twice as often in his first four. Skeptics of this will point to his schedule-three of Brees’ past four games came against teams in the bottom four in sacks this season. But the flip side of that coin is Brees has one of the league’s friendliest QB schedules moving forward. With the exception of Carolina in Week 13, New Orleans gets the following teams (with points allowed to QB rank included-1 being most allowed): Washington (17), bye week (best in the league), Houston (10), Carolina, Tampa Bay (3), Detroit (4), Jacksonville (8). You’ll notice those last three matchups are particularly juicy-and they just happen to be Weeks 14-16, otherwise known as your fantasy playoffs.
Speaking of matchups, the Packers just went through quite the gauntlet-facing the always menacing bye week, then at Denver, then at Carolina. I mention this because Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy-who injured his groin on Sunday-has pretty much worn out his fantasy welcome. Now, I may be crazy, but let me offer just a glimmer of hope here. The groin injury, plus his fumble, played a big role in James Starks getting most of the late looks, racking up fantasy stats in garbage time. Starks is a good back, but nothing special. Given his health (which really isn’t a given at the moment), I do still think Lacy will get an opportunity to be the better half of a time-share-and maybe more if he has some success. And success could come, with two matchups against Detroit (fourth most fantasy points allowed to running backs) and another with Dallas (second most) coming the next five weeks. So I’m saying there’s a chance…
Finally, speaking of uncertain running back injury situations: LeSean McCoy had an excellent game on Sunday against Miami, only to hurt his shoulder, re-aggravate it, and watch his understudy-Karlos Williams-have an even bigger day on fewer touches. This is a backfield that could produce two weekly fantasy starters moving forward given health, but if McCoy misses Thursday’s contest with the Jets, Williams is a low-end RB1.
DFS Week 8 Values
Bo and I devote a section in this column each week to Daily Fantasy Football for those of you who are setting lineups for DraftKings, FanDuel, and FantasyDraft leagues. Below are some of the best values I was able to unearth for Week 10:
QB Derek Carr vs. Minnesota
Every quarterback with more touchdown passes than Derek Carr this season step forward. Not so fast, Aaron Rodgers, Brees, Luck…you get the picture. Only Tom Brady and Carson Palmer have thrown more touchdowns than Carr, who has a 15:1 touchdown to interception ratio the last three weeks, with two of those games coming against the Jets and Steelers-two of the leagues best defenses at limiting QB fantasy points. With few inexpensive options at the position inspiring much confidence, Carr is the best of both worlds, great value and tremendous upside.
QB Tyrod Taylor at NY Jets
The Jets are seemingly getting worse at defending the pass, which works in Taylor’s favor. But really it’s Tyrod’s legs that we’re after here. This pick won’t be as enticing without Sammy Watkins in to serve at least as a decoy, but again, with low-price quarterbacks not very viable this week, Taylor is about as cheap as I can comfortably go.
RB Doug Martin vs. Dallas
Martin is still sharing looks with Charles Sims and this is just a neutral matchup, but Martin’s price simply hasn’t caught up with his production. Martin, like teammate Mike Evans, struggled in the rain a bit on Sunday, and finished with just 13 touches-his second fewest of the season. But in what should be a close game, I expect Martin to get back up to his customary 20+ touches. All for the price of an RB2.
RB Darren McFadden at Tampa Bay
McFadden is fairly priced on FanDuel, but still well undervalued on the two sites with full PPR. Sure, McFadden didn’t do much in the passing game against Philly last week, but he was still the only show in town behind one of football’s best offensive lines.
WR Allen Robinson at Baltimore
Only the Chiefs have allowed more wide receiver fantasy points than the Ravens, and Robinson is an elite talent at the position. He’s well underpriced across the board relative to other wide receivers and will be a cash-game staple for me this week.
WR Michael Crabtree vs. Minnesota
Amari Cooper is the stud-in-the-making, but Crabtree’s the Raider leading the team in catches, targets, and touchdowns. The red-zone work will likely even out (Cooper trails by just a touchdown despite a 7-3 red-zone target advantage), but as the lower priced option of the two its Crabtree who continues to be the better DFS value.
TE Jordan Reed vs. New Orleans
Reed needed the trashiest of garbage time scores last week to save his fantasy skin, but he should be plenty safe in Week 10 against a Saints team among the worst at defending tight ends this season. In fact, New Orleans just gave up three tight end scores in Week 9. And as the fifth-most targeted tight end in the league this season, Reed will have plenty of his own chances to reach pay dirt again this week.
Finally, you’ll note we’ve included FantasyDraft values in these listings for the second straight week. This is because the site sponsors our 50/50 segment on the podcast, and also hosts a Pants Party listener league each week. It’s a $5 50/50 league, but if you’ve never played at FantasyDraft before you can click on this linkand get $5 fantasy cash free to use in the contest when you deposit $10. I finished in the money last week, but Bo came up just short. See how you stack up against us and fellow listeners and join us for the Week 10 contest! If you’re already a FantasyDraft player, simply click the previous link to get to the private game.
Good luck in Week 10!
Anthony Maggio and Bo Mitchell co-host the 1500ESPN Fantasy Football Pants Party podcast. Bookmark the podcast page for upcoming episodes and subscribe to the podcast now! Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
Maggio hosted Fantasy Football Sunday on 1500ESPN from 2012-2013 and is the Fantasy Football Editor at Zoneblitz.com. Mitchell is Vice President of Content for Sportradar US. Both men are kind of big deals, enjoy leather-bound books and have woodwork at home that smells of rich mahogany.
Follow Maggio @MPLSMaggio
Follow Bo @Bo_Mitchell