Da Bears have probably the easiest schedule of any quarterback down the stretch versus the pass with Tampa Bay up this weekend to start. Cutler is notoriously known as a player who flourishes in great matchups and flounders in average and tough matchups. If you are an owner that is concerned about your current QB’s schedule down the stretch, take a flyer on Cutler and try to swing a trade with the owner of Alshon Jeffery if you don’t already have him.
Case is merely a streamer option for week 10 as the Rams schedule is Bi-polar, to say the least, to finish the season. If you are in need of a fill in quarterback this week, his Week ten matchup versus the Jets is a gem. Although they do travel cross country to play in The Meadowlands so expectations should be tempered but, against this defense I am reminded of his big game on the road against the Lions earlier this year.
Coach Kubiaks frustrations with his rookie rusher, Devonte Booker, has reached a point where he has publicly stated that Bibbs will see an increased work load. As his performance showed Sunday night against the Raiders, he has very explosive stuff and could be huge down the stretch as the Broncos are in a division that is loaded with terrible run defenses.
With the Jaguars new offense on display Sunday in Kansas City. You can certainly see that they are taking a more balanced approach, getting running backs involved and also short to mid range passing schemes.
With the amount of work Melvin Gordon has put in with his awesome sophomore season, the signs of that workload could rear its ugly head sooner rather than later. IF you are an owner with Gordon on your roster, Farrow has seemingly secured the spot of Gordons handcuff. With Dexter McCluster now on IR and a non threat for receiving snaps, he could be a very hot commodity should Gordon miss any time due to injury or a work load reduction if the Chargers are eliminated from playoff contention.
JJ Nelson ARI
Nelson has emerged as the second the receiver in Arizonas offense and is now starting opposite Larry Fitzgerald. Now there is always the threat of Quarterback favorite John Brown regaining his form of last season to take his spot back, but as of now, Nelson is a guy who you can add immediately if you are in need of wide receiver help for the foreseeable future.
Rishard Matthews TEN
Matthews has taken over the number WR role in an offense that has a very generious schedule versus the position going forward. Mariota is proving to be capable of running an NFL offense, even though he still makes huge mistakes that continue to cost his team victories. That bodes well for Matthews who showed flashes of brilliance in Miami before signing with Tennessee in the offseason and should be a matchup dependent add start going forward.
Marqise Lee JAX
With Jacksonville’s offense continuing to struggle under Blake Bortles, Lee has a huge opportunity in place under new offensive coordinators more balanced approach that will also increase the value of the Jaguars running backs.
With the Raiders traveling cross country for the second week in a row, Joe-cco has a beautiful situation brewing here when Oakland brings its league worst pass defense to town. Allowing 98 fantasy points in 3 games to quarterbacks, the Raiders have struggled mightily to stop the pass and will continue to do so here as Flacco makes bigger strides coming back from his knee injury and with all of his receivers nearing their own recovery from injuries this one could get ugly for Oakland if they aren’t prepared.
Kirk Cousins WAS vs Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has given up the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year and Kirk Cousins, despite his low touchdown number total so far has put up very solid yards through the air so far. Expect this to be his rebound game where he scores multiple touchdowns for the first time in 2016
Melvin Gordon SD vs New Orleans Saints
Gordon is certainly getting the carries, netting 16 last week for a pathetic 35 yards rushing with one touchdown against the Colts. However, with the Saints coming to town, it could be just what the doctor ordered to remedy his woes of last week. New Orleans has been the worst defense against the run and are currently the only unit to allow 100+ points to the position this year in standard scoring leagues.
Isaiah Crowell CLE @ Washington Redskins
Crowell is the only starting running back in the NFL who is averaging 5 yards per carry or more and with the god awful Washington run defense set to be the unit to try and stop Crowell. I would say that the odds are more favorable to the Cleveland run game with the Redskins rush defense performing so poorly and if Cousins struggles early, Crowell could end up having the best fantasy week for running backs as Washington has given up a league worst 10 rushing touchdowns to date.
Emmanuel Sanders DEN
Sanders and Demaryious Thomas look to have huge games as they travel south to Tampa, last week versus another bottom feeder pass defense in Cincinnati they combined to total 15 receptions 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. Look for that to continue as Sanders continues to be the lead receiver and favorite target of Trevor Siemian against this second to last pass defense in Tampa Bay.
Jarvis Landry MIA @ Cincinnati Bengals
With the Dolphins traveling to Cincinnati, a team that got destroyed by Denver wide receivers the week before, Landry is a nickel and dime receiver who can kill your defense all over the field. This game has explosive potential written all over it with both defenses struggling against the pass this year and Landry is one of the top receivers in the league at making bad defenses look worse and should have another monster game this week..
Greg Olsen CAR @ Atlanta Flacons
A steady presence in the Carolina offense and one of the leagues best at the position, he has to be licking his chops to go up against NFC South Division rival the Atlanta Falcons. As they have allowed the most total points per game to the position (16) and are tied for allowing the most touchdowns to tight ends (4).
Zach Miller CHI vs Detroit Lions
Detroit has been absolute mess on defense, similarly to how the Bucs have performed so far, and with the weapons on offense limited by the noodle armed Bryan Hoyer listed as the starter. You can bet that, like he did last week, Hoyer will be going through his check downs often and will more then likely be hitting Miller for another huge day and has a legit possibility of toping the fantasy leaderboard for the position in week 4.
Week 2 has put all of fantasy football on high alert this waiver Tuesday with all the injuries that occurred over the weekend you can absolutely be guaranteed to have the first competitive waiver lotto of the 2016 season. With the jury still out on Doug Martin and Arian Foster’s groin injury, his counterparts Adrian Peterson and Jonathon Stewart avoided season enders and are set to miss some time themselves. Unfortunately, Danny Woodhead wasn’t so lucky who now joins teammate Keenan Allen on IR and the Chargers once promising season of redemption now resembles a game of Madden with injuries set to max for offensive players. A lot of fantasy owners lost some serious players at the running back position who, with the exception of Woodhead, were drafted with-in the top five rounds of most fantasy drafts so lets go over which replacement back ups to select and other backs with sleeper potential…..
Discussing the back up running backs of injured starters
Adrian Peterson replacement: out up to 7 weeks (estimated)
Jerick McKinnon or Matt Asiata RB-MIN
Jerick McKinnon is expected to get 65% of the carries in what could be a completely different offense with no AP and the addition of Sam Bradford who actually looked like a NFL quarterback. However, last time these two competed for carries McKinnon got all the work he could handle outside the red zone with Asiata (projected for 35% snaps) handling goal line and short yardage situations who scored 9 touchdowns the last time these two formed a committee for an extended period of time. I believe they have something to offer owners based on the league you need them in, for example if you are in a more touchdown dependent league then you go with Asiata, whereas with PPR league settings you should definitely go with McKinnon. However, it is still uncertain how the coaching staff will use the two with Sam Bradford at QB for the foreseeable future and they also have a stiff matchup on the road as the team travels to Carolina this week.
Jonathon Stewart replacement: out 2-4 weeks
Cameron Artis-Payne or Fozzy Whittaker RB-CAR
Last season when Stewart went down to end the season, it was C.A.P. who benefitted from his absence running the ball for 33 carries. Although Fozzy went off for 16 carries for 100 yards on Sunday against the 49ers defense after Stewarts departure and since Artis-Payne is a similar back to JStew, he was a healthy scratch for the game rendering him unable to play this week. With Carolina already having a hit or miss running back situation as it is with everyone knowing how much Cam is able to tuck and run the ball at any point in the game, neither one are a very good addition to add/start in week 3 versus a stout Minnesota defense (ironically enough). If I had to add one to fill the void, it’s Cameron Artis-Payne because Fozzy is essentially the third string change of pace back and will most likely retain that roll in this offense that has a great thing going for it and is probably unwilling to change the style of play if it can continue to work with Stewart sidelined.
Arian Foster replacement:
Kenyan Drake or Jay Ajayi RB-MIA
With Jay Ajayi struggling to pick up the NFL game, its opened the door wide open for Drake to enter this discussion as the heavy favorite, in my opinion, to be the lead back going forward (or till Foster’s return) for the Dolphins who continues to have issues with Ajayi for a number of different reasons and also only netting 2.8 yards per carry against the Patriots compared to Drake’s 6 ypc and a score, sure they only had two carries each but the results are much different in those two carries. Drake is not your typical Alabama running back and he seems more like a better fit for what Adam Gase likes to do with his offensive schemes and everyone who watched the National Championship game knows how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands. The simple fact here is, like teenagers with their parents car, Ajayi cannot be trusted with the keys to the car. My vote here, I will take the potentially explosive runner over a trouble maker any day, go with Drake against Cleveland who just flat out sucks on defense.
Danny Woodhead replacement:
Kenneth Farrow or Andre Williams
The Chargers are knee deep in the stuff and you just simply cannot replace a Danny Woodhead who was on pace to have a ridiculous stat line versus the Jaguars on Sunday who essentially had ZERO answer for him which was clearly evident in him going 29 yards on just three carries before getting injured early. The two main options for the back up role behind Melvin Gordon are undrafted free agent Kenneth Farrow out of University of Houston and newly signed (and former New York Giant backup) Andre Williams. While Williams is the player with the familiar name, I am really high on Farrow to be completely honest, especially after reading that Woodhead who, was also an undrafted free agent out of college, pulled Farrow in under his wing when he got to San Diego showing him the tools of the trade of what it’s like to be Danny “boy” Woodhead. After watching his game film from college, Farrow looks to be a sleeping giant ready to explode onto the fantasy football scene, a guy who is an incredibly elusive runner that displays great vision and patience in letting the play develop then speed bursts through the hole and can absolutely punish defenders in his way. If Farrows college game translates to the NFL Gordon better enjoy his starts in San Diego while he can because it may be just a matter of time before Woodhead’s Frankenstein creation runs away with the starting job, literally.
Doug Martin replacement:
No debate here, the guy to have is Charles Sims.
RB Sleepers to Stash
Ray Rice -FA (Bold Prediction)
Now I am really going out on a limb here and the odds are that NFL teams won’t touch Rice with a ten foot pole, but there are just not a lot of good running backs in the league. It is a very hard position that takes a ton of punishment from taking on tackles going forward and having to let pass rushers smash into you at full speed in pass protection. With that being said, all of these injuries to key backs to start the season could have long lasting effects on the rest of the season. If your roster is solid and you’re looking for a super sleeper to add and stash on your bench add Ray Rice and see what happens because a team who is desperate and in a playoff race, just MIGHT, call his phone in the upcoming weeks.
Alfred Morris RB-DAL
As I stated in an earlier article back in July, Morris has already taken one job from a rookie with fumbling issues and history seems to coming around full circle with Ezekiel Elliot getting sent to the bench after his second fumble against the Redskins on Sunday. Allowing Morris to take a goal line touchdown in front of the crowed that he used to call home, which is a clear indication that Elliot’s early struggles are starting to become a problem for the Cowboys coaching staff so add Morris to your bench and you may end up with the best fantasy running back for the second half of the season.
*UPDATE: Adrian Peterson set to have surgery and will miss the next 3-4 months*
The NFL is a game that constantly changes with such a high percentage of injuries that can effect your roster any given Sunday and in an instant, changing a once promising fantasy season into a nightmare of complete disarray. Never fear, with the rich talent in fantasy football’s free agency pool every year in the first couple weeks it gives owners an opportunity to restock after an injury or add depth in pre-emptive moves that could better prepare your roster in the event one of your main guys goes down with an injury. Regardless if your team has injuries, slumping starters warranting concern moving forward, or you are merely searching for solid bye week fill-ins. Whatever the scenario is, I got some options for you to add to your weekly lineup to ensure that your team is deep and talented. Lets begin….
Joe Flacco- Bal (Add Start of the week)
Before the season I pegged Flacco to be one of the leagues better sleeper targets at quarterback this year and week 2 is shaping up to be his 2016 break out performance. Through his past seven starts versus the Browns has completed 149 passes at a 60% clip for 1,709 yards with 9 passing touchdowns and 3 rushing. If you’re reeling from some of the questionable QB situations this week insert Flacco into your lineup.
Josh McCown- CLE (Deep Sleeper add)
Likewise with Flacco, McCown who absolutely destroyed the Ravens last season passing for 669 yards and 4 total touchdowns with a mediocre receiving core. A core that has been massively upgraded with Barnidge, Gordon, Coleman, Pryor, and Duke Johnson catching passes out of the backfield he’s got a legit shot at putting up QB1 numbers this week if you’re desperate in deeper fantasy formats.
Shane Vereen- NYG
Six different Oakland players registered rushing statistics last week and accounted for 196 total yards of offense and 3 touchdowns versus the Giants week 2 opponent, the New Orleans Saints. If those same stats hold true this week they will mostly be divided up between the TWO main focal points in the Giants running game and should be more then enough fantasy points for both Jennings and Vereen to produce great fantasy numbers.
Chris Thompson- Was (Deep Sleeper add)
With all the uncertainty surrounding Matt Jones and his shoulder, Thompson should be the beneficiary to Jones’ questionable start to the season and scoring the Redskins lone touchdown last week against a stout Pittsburgh rush defense. Kirk Cousins looked uncharacteristically reserved versus a mediocre Steelers pass defense as he appeared to be taking less chances over the top, which leads me to believe that if cousins continues to be hesitant with his passes that would open the door for Thompson who is a crafty little receiving back and has solid potential to grow into a The Reddick type back with how often Washington throws the ball.
Brandon LaFell- Cin
Playing opposite AJ Green as an alternate option for Andy “Red Rocket” Dalton, LaFell has a golden opportunity to take over the position that was shared by Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones Jr who departed in free agency during the offseason. He’s a player who has been around for a while is an average talent but runs good routs and knows how to get open in one on one coverage. The Bengals defense as talented as it is, are known to make stupid mistakes that gets them into trouble
Quincy Enunwa- NYJ (deep sleeper add)
Enunwa had a very efficient debut for the Jets catching 7 of 8 targets for 54 yards and a score, he’s a player who can benefit greatly lining up next to Marshall and Decker on a weekly basis and if either one of those guys were to miss any time he would be a super hot waiver wire add and would immediately step into a huge role with pass happy QB Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm so avoid the rush and add him now.
Gary Barnidge- Cle
After laying a big fat GOOSE EGG (zero fantasy points) in week one with Robert Griffin III at QB there was a ton of fall out afterwards with numerous owners of the pro bowl tight end rage dropping him as a result in frustrating week one losses with Barnidge netting only TWO targets from the now injured reserve former Browns starting quarterback. In comes Josh McCown, the tight ends favorite QB ever with that connection sending Barnidge to the pro bowl for the first time in his aged 30 season and if you are one of the fortunate owners with a high waiver status this week file one immediately on Barnidge and watch his performance sky rocket.
Clive Walford- Oak (Deep sleeper add)
Some had Walford high on their sleeper list at the end of pre-season in large part due to him being Derek Carr’s main red zone option down the stretch and with the Raiders pulling out a victory in the last few seconds of the game to stun the Saints we all were a little surprised to see Walford log an underwhelming 5 targets 3 receptions for 25 yards and zero touchdowns in a game that Oakland’s offense put up 35 points. Leading to the tight end being dropped from some of the fantasy owners rosters who believed in him to start the season. Although when it comes to fantasy football I strongly believe that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, so if he is still available in free agency or on waivers do what you have to do get him on your bench as the Raiders will definitely call his number this year with Oakland having some tough divisional match ups for their wide receivers this year.
With over half the league employing a “by committee” approach, not only to try and keep guys healthy, but to also utilize each individual strength at the position in order to maximize offensive efficiency. Elite three down backs should be sought after early in most formats but which ones should you focus on?
Let us discuss some potential elite situations this year and also some potential, at risk situations that you may want to avoid all together in your fantasy drafts, here are my thoughts on some of the players in the RB top 10…
Potential Elite in 2016:
Todd Gurley: In the Jeff Fischer style of offense that has blessed us with great running backs like Eddie George and Chris Johnson in his prime, you can take it to the bank that the game plan is to feature Gurely early and often throughout the season. The Rams oline was a mess when it came to running the ball and Gurley’s amazing skill set bailed them out quite often during 2015. With a slight improvememt from the oline run blocking and more emphasis on running the football with, rookie number one overall pick Jared Goff, projected to win the starting job in the pre-season, even though he has stingy competition from the always gritty, Case Keenum. As long as Gurley is healthy, he remains an elite top 5 option at running back and has a very rare range of skill sets to use in opperation. Dominating opposing defenses even when he rushes behind the 24th ranked run blocking oline in the NFL last season. Amazing.
Lamar Miller: After a mediocre 2015, in which fantasy owners of the explosive back were left slightly dissapointed and blue balled yet again with Miller’s inconsistent play in fantasy. The Dolphins coaching staff (who has since been fired), for whatever reason, did not believe that Miller was capable of three down RB duties. However, playing against the team he signed with as a free agent in 2016, Miller torched Houston’s defense last year to the tune of 35 fantasy points in standard league settings. Joining David Johnson (40), Devonte Freeman (37), and Thomas Rawls (36) as the only RB’s to score 35 or more fantasy points in a single game last season. However, what will really make your jaw drop is how Miller’s big game is in a league of his own when compared to the other three aforementioned running backs…..
Total touches by running backs with a 35+ point fantasy game in 2015.
–David Johnson: 40 fantasy points on 33 total touches.
– Devonte Freeman: 37 fantasy points on 35 total touches
– Thomas Rawls: 36 fantasy points on 33 total touches.
-Lamar Miller: 35 fantasy points on 17 total touches.
Did you catch it? 17 total touches!! To amass 175 rushing yards, 61 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns, ALL IN THE FIRST HALF. Which is by far the best rushing performance of the 2015 season by a running back, check out a few of the highlights in that game with this video highlight reel by nfl.com. The vision, the break away speed, the elusiveness to evade tacklers. What in the hell was Miami smoking essentially trading, but not actually trading, Miller for injury prone Arian Foster? Idiots.
Eddie Lacy: Lacy, like all the Packers offense, opperates at its best like a well oiled machine when everyone is healthy. Lacy, came into camp last season waaay overweight and out of shape. In the NFL, if guys do not take the game seriously in the offseason they tend to fall flat on their faces the following year. However, like all oiled machines, they are at their peak performance when ALL the parts are performing at a high level and the devistating injury to Jordy Nelson was devistating to the pack’s offense as a whole. Clearly showing in Aaron Rodgers AND Randall Cobb looking down right terrible at times with out their number one wide receiver and throwing behind a very shaky line that finished the year 20th overall. Uncharacteristically, the Packers offense played from behind way more than usual in 2015 which forced them to the air playing catch up and moving away from running the ball. Legitiamately explaining why Lacy was not a factor even at the end of last year. He appears to have righted the ship in 2016, reporting into training camp in phenomenal shape, perhaps best he’s ever been in as a pro, which leads us to believe that Lacy is incredibly motivated to continue being a Packer after seasons end but also is serious about cashing in on a contract year in which he looked really bad the season before. With the Packers oline and Nelson getting healthy in the offseason, it appears the frustrations from last season will be taken out on opposing defenses in 2016. The motor has been rebuilt and is ready to roar, so draft Lacy at a value in the 2nd or 3rd round and enjoy the RB-1 performance he is surely capable of displaying.
Latavius Murray: Like Miller, Murray was not used as much in the offense like other typical number one RB’s. Although Murray’s usage was not due to poor coaching decisions, but more because of game flows, Oaklands defense showed its potential, but overall was just awful last season, which lead to lots of Derek Carr slinging it down field playing catch up. With Oakland beefing up, not only their defense (notable adds: Sean Smith and Bruce Irving), but spending a ton of money upgrading their 20+ ranked offensive line and after taking 80% of the snaps last year, Murray is primed to explode with Oakland having the BEST strength of schedule for opposing defenses vs RB’s based on last years numbers. Murray is my top break out candidate of the year this year for running backs, so mark him up from his ADP of 39 and enjoy!
Potential RB’s to avoid:
David Johnson: Arians is an old school head coach who seemingly gets his rocks off, on making young players pay their dues and earn their playing time, in which he’s part of the Bear Bryant coaching tree, that has an almost 50 year old quote that says, “coach em hard and hug em later!”. There is no denying that David Johnson is by far one of the most talented backs in the NFL’s future and he is definitely not the reason why I am putting him here. Johnson is being listed as the number ONE overall runningback in lots of mainstream rankings and his ADP has him currently at RB-3 status overall, just behind Todd Gurley and Adrian Peterson. With everyone saying, that he is one of the top selections if not THE top selection to win the RB crown for 2016. Although, I dont see that happeneing just yet and it is because of the coach he plays for. Johnson committed 4 fumbles last year in minimal playing time, all of which lead him straight to the bench to think about what he’s done. In a no BS system like Arians’ it doesnt matter if you’re the hero of the team or the rookie, if you mess up then your ass is grass. With that being said, Arians has even said that he favors a blend of veteran leadership coupled with young talent to make the perfect blend! After hearing that, people like myself tend to read further into that line of thinking trying to read the fine print and ultimately decide whether or not the coach is full of shit or no bull shit, he’s clearly no bull shit. David Johnson not only has one veteran who’s busted his ass for Arians since the beginning, Andre Ellington, but also has to compete with Chris Johnson, one of the fastest EVER forty times recorded at the combine. Sure CJ has gotten older and may have lost a step or two, but he has ONE fumble in his last 3 seasons in the NFL. Now that may not seem like a big difference to most new age coaches in the NFL, 4 fumbles compared to zero for one season, but Arians is apart of a dying breed of head coaches (thankfully Todd Bowles carries on the legacy as sophomore coach of the New York Jets), which means that he is going to make every player earn their playing time, every day, and every game! If DJ has a bad opening drive leading off with a fumble, he could be yanked in favor of either CJ or Ellington. Which in my opinion, makes him a risky draft where he’s being drafted because when you draft a RB in the top ten of your draft, you expect at least 10 points a week from the guy. There aint nothing worse than spending a top 10 pick on C.J. Anderson last year only to watch him stuck in the mid in the middle of a RB platoon all season. Call me crazy, but im shying away from the young stud as the number 3 overall running back (ADP) soley based on his coaches stubborn coaching style. Giants fans know what I am talking about having to deal with the complicated Tom Coughlin for so many years, in re draft leagues it is probably a better idea to take the safest pick possible with the most consistent week to week potential, winning fantasy titles more closely resembels a marathon and not the 40 yard dash.
LeVeon Bell: Even before Bell’s suspension last week, Steelers head coach was quoted as saying that they may begin to enploy a running back by committee during the off-season that includes player reborn, DeAngello Williams. Seeing as Bell cannot seem to stay on the field, whether it be because of injury or jack assery like missing 7 drug tests, idiot. LeVeon Bell’s elite status is in serious peril at the moment because if Williams comes out of the gate firing like he did last season when Bell served his two game suspension after getting busted with LeGarrett Blount (who was cut by steelers in correspondimg move), that will be the second time in concecutive years he would have saved the team from Bell. We could see the Pittsburgh high octane offense mold into a featured 1-2 wam bam approach at the running back position. Seeing as Bell will have officially missed 17 total games due to injury or suspension since 2013 when he returns in week 5, yikes!
Lesean Mccoy: The veteran back has put together a pretty nice career with his craftiness and quick first step out of the back field. Although McCoy has been around for a while, I am by no means predicting a decline in the 28 year old RB’s production due to age as the reason for having him here. It’s because the Bills have THE HARDEST strength of schedule for RB’s this season, based on last years defensive statistics, which is not good news for Shady. A tough player who has been showing his mileage playing through injuries (and sometimes missing small amounts of time) the last couple years. His ADP is currently at 25, far too high for me to take a chance on a starting RB with the turbulant hit or miss option like what McCoy will be with the level of talented defenses they are going to play in 2016. Instead, go after Thomas Rawls, who’s ADP currently sits at 28 and features opponents from the NFC South (Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, and Tampa) and the AFC East. Whereas, Shady is up against 6 of the top 10 D-lines measure in total yards per game allowed in 2015. (1. Seahawks, 2. Jets, 5. Steelers, 6. Cardinals, and 7. Bengals). Then factor in two games against the Patriots (and #2 ranked Jets) who check in as the 9th rated rush defense they get to play twice a year being in the same division and all. Not to mention, a potentially vastly improved Oakland (13th) rush defense and no push over line inBaltimore (12th). It is a schedule that could make any owner get turned off on a player especialliay when a guy 4 slots behind him plays 6 teams (2 teams twice in their own divison, Rams and 49ers), who rank 20th or worse against the run in 2015. RUN FORREST RUUUUUN!