This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
The staffers we talked to this week are Chris Feery, Andrew Garda, Will Grant, John Mamula, Alex Miglio, Chad Parsons, and BJ VanderWoude. And we had a cameo appearance from Jeff Pasquino!
Be sure to check out the first part of this week's Roundtable, which we published early due to Thanksgiving. Speaking of Thanksgiving, we also came up with a fun way to discuss your favorite holidays. Take a print-out to the next holiday party you attend and use it filter out the cool guys.
Hester: The Bengals lost A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard to season-ending injuries in Week 11. Those players make up 43% of their total targets and 39% of their total touches. How do you see Cincinnati reacting in the short-term? Which players will benefit most, and are you targeting any of those players in a matchup at Baltimore this week?
Parsons: What a blow to the Cincinnati offense first and foremost. Unfortunately, the biggest rise in fantasy appeal is Jeremy Hill and Brandon LaFell, two players I have tepid projections for in general. LaFell was already seeing a strong chunk of snaps and now will see No.1 cornerbacks more often.
For Week 12, I dig Jeremy Hill from a volume perspective at $5,900. The matchup against Baltimore (both run and pass) is on the stingy side, but Hill is in line for 15 or more touches weekly going forward.
I would recommend Tyler Eifert, but the Ravens are one of the strongest defenses against tight ends in the NFL. Baltimore has allowed just one tight end over 50 yards (Jordan Reed with 8-53-0) this season and one touchdown all year to the position.
A darkhorse to mention is Rex Burkhead, a strong metric prospect back in 2013 who has stuck in Cincinnati over the years. He is thick with strong lateral agility and hands. Expect Burkhead, to some degree, take on the Giovani Bernard role in the Bengals offense and is now one Jeremy Hill injury away from the lead role down the stretch.
Garda: I agree with Chad; this is a pretty massive disaster for the Bengals. Green accounted for the most targets on the team and it's not even close. Bernard was up there overall as well. I don't love any of the other wide receivers right now, especially LaFell.
As said above, you've got Hill and ifert. I am far more bullish for Eifert than Hill because of the matchup, despite the tough defense Eifert faces as well.
Overall I am avoiding Cincinnati this week and pretty much going forward depending on matchups. I think we're about to see this offense pancake.
Grant: Eifert is pretty much the only guy that I would consider this week until we see what this team does. I too am not a fan of LaFell and would have a very hard time putting him into any of my DFS lineups, cash or GPP.
If you're looking for a GPP 'swing for the fence' kind of pick, I'd consider Tyler Boyd as an option. Boyd has some decent skills, and the Bengals love him. He had 6 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown last week without Green, and he just might be the guy to have if you're looking for explosive value. He's close to minimum price, so he might be worth a lineup fill if you are looking to take a shot.
Mamula: I agree that this is a major downgrade for the Bengals offense. Andy Dalton falls off my radar and is difficult to roster, even in GPP lineups. Eifert and Hill can be considered for GPP lineups this week, but I would be very hesitant to trust either in a cash lineup. As previously mentioned, the Ravens defense has been tough against RB and TEs this season. Both Eifert and Hill will be matchup based plays for the remainder of the season, but I would avoid this week unless you are building a large number of GPP lineups. I agree with Will that Boyd is a low-priced GPP play. He has true boom/bust potential each week moving forward.
VanderWoude: Until the situation is more stable, I would avoid all but Hill in my cash games. GPPs are a different story, though, as I will have exposure to Hill, Eifert, and LaFell. Boyd is a very good call by Will; I don’t think Cincinnati has a choice, they have to get him involved. The question is framed perfectly, there is a massive amount of volume that is out there for the taking, with Eifert and Hill being the two main beneficiaries.
Hill’s value takes a massive upward turn with both Bernard and Green out. He will likely have the shackles taken off of him, and although volume does not always equate to points, he should be the focal point of the offense for at least the next two weeks. His price is too cheap to fade, even against a tough Baltimore run defense. He has the talent, and now he has the opportunity.
With regards to Eifert, again, the opportunity at a multi-touchdown game with an increase in his receptions, is too good for me to pass up. The tight end position has been tough to predict this year. With Green out of the lineup, Eifert assumes the role of the number one option in the Bengals passing game. Baltimore has not allowed a tight end to score this year, but they have allowed three different tight ends to catch five or more passes. Eifert has proven to be an elite option in the red zone, so there is definitely reason to believe he could break the Ravens streak this week.
Boyd and LaFell should both be considered solid punt options this week. Someone has to produce for this team, and with their collective salaries being so low, I think the risk is more than worth the reward.
Feery: I fully agree with the majority here; this is a devastating blow for Cincinnati. Green is clearly the engine that makes the offense run, and Bernard makes for a nice two-headed monster along with Hill. In the short term, we can expect an increase in opportunities for Hill, Boyd, LaFell, and Eifert, but I have varying levels of enthusiasm over their individual roles for this week.
For Hill, he’s incredibly affordable across the industry. While the Ravens have a decent run defense, he won’t be completely shut down. That being said, he doesn’t scream must play - even at his low price - and he’s more safely relegated to GPP lineups. Additionally, he could lose some touches to Burkhead, so I’d rather temper my enthusiasm and keep an eye on the workload split for this week.
My interest perks up on at least one of the pass catchers, and that player is Boyd. He’s dirt cheap, and also appears to be a key part of the Bengals future plans. He stepped up nicely last week when Green went down, and I’ll look for the momentum to continue this week as he assumes a larger role in the offense. LaFell is too hit or miss for my blood, while Eifert is likely headed for a heavy dose of being blanketed by Ravens defenders. I’ll consider LaFell a GPP dart throw, Eifert a boom-bust option, and Boyd a solid contrarian play for Week 12.
Hester: Weather played a role in some Week 11 games. Walk us through your thought process in terms of weather.
Parsons: Wind worries me more than general rain or snow. I will adjust as the week progresses, specifically in the hours leading up to kickoff on Sunday. In the kicking game, I will not even mess with outdoor-affected weather games down the fantasy stretch, opting for southern or dome locales. For skill position players, if there is strong wind, I will take all but the most optimal values off my board entirely. An example from Week 11 was the Browns-Steelers game. Outside of Le'Veon Bell (I do not fade running games in poor weather), I found other options to Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger despite the strong matchup on paper.
Miglio: I'm generally with Chad – weather isn't a huge factor for me unless it's extreme. We have an occasional outlier like when Tom Brady hung 59 on the Titans in deep snow, but weather like that simply adds too much variance and drops the floor on everyone involved. Like Chad said, wind is the biggest issue, particularly in the passing game. But you already knew that.
Garda: Add me to the wind crew, and we're not talking what blows out of Rex Ryan's mouth!
Wind is the one thing which severely hampers teams, unless as Alex points out, it is extreme. Remember, though, receivers know their routes so rain and snow - slippery footing - actually can favor an offense and a receiver.
I look at weather the day before. There's no point in looking earlier as the weather is unpredictable as it is. Yes, there are times when we see a tropical storm or hurricane coming a week away, but more often than not, two or three days out the reports are going to be wrong.
And then, as we all have said, I worry more out extreme rain or heavy wind than anything else. I don't tend to put together multiple lineups or shift guys around too much. If I am that concerned about the weather, I will likely use another player anyway.
Grant: Wind is definitely a factor; just look at the Chicago-New York (Giants) kicking game this past week. It does impact the passing game, but in a more positive way in a PPR league because you look for shorter passes and crossing routes.
Rain, snow, and cold favor running the ball. You want the ball in the hands of the final ball carrier as quickly as possible to minimize the chance of a fumbled exchange or off-target pass. Get the ball into their hands and let them move. Scoring depresses in that kind of weather as well. Last year in Vegas during wild-card weekend, Jeff Pasquino and I each had 100-to-1 odd prop bets that neither the Seahawks nor the Vikings would score a touchdown in the extreme cold. We made it deep into the fourth quarter before the Seahawks finally punched it in, but the game finished 10-9. In DFS terms, you'd fade both offenses and have one defense or the other, hoping for a lot of turnovers and low scores. I think the same applies to heavy rain.
Mamula: I 100% agree that wind is the key factor to analyze here. As weather can change, I hold off until about one or two hours prior to kickoff before making any final decisions based with weather. If a weather forecast is calling for wind over 20 mph, I am usually hesitant to roster, QBs, WR, TE, and K in that game. RB and defenses are still in play for me. I also consider the opening Vegas line and game total and if it moved during the week. Often, Vegas will reduce a game total to reflect adverse weather conditions. If Vegas is projecting fewer points in the game, it will likely affect fantasy performances to some degree. If a game total drops by three or more points, that is a concern and I will likely reduce my exposure in the game. Anytime you see a game total drop under 40 points, that is typically an avoid on the offensive side of the ball. Defenses are definitely in play due to those conditions and the projected lower scoring.
Feery: I agree with the consensus here, as wind is front and center among the weather factors I’m concerned about. I’ll generally glance at the weather forecasts for the upcoming slate around mid-week, and make mental notes of any potential issues. Gameday morning forecasts are the final factor, and I’ll generally adjust my thinking on how to approach games with 20+ mph wind as necessary.
For example, my enthusiasm on a team’s passing game may become tempered, but I’ll still take a look at the running game. Defenses may become a more attractive target, but kickers from these games quickly get scratched off the list. There are always a wealth of options that are kicking in pristine conditions, and it’s far too big of a risk to take for my salary cap dollars.
On the precipitation front, I’m not too concerned unless we’re looking at a torrential downpour or blizzard-like conditions. I’ll typically scratch those teams off the shortlist - with the exception of the Patriots, as they seem to have a proclivity for moving the ball in the white stuff. As for temperatures, I’ll only become concerned with extreme variations one way or the other. A game that’s unbearably hot may point me to consider some other options, as will a game that’s played in sub-zero temps.
VanderWoude: I am in total agreement about the wind. It is the most unpredictable form of weather (although which part isn't), mainly because it is very difficult to guage the threshold between extreme wind that will affect the passing game, gusty wind that can affect a certain direction, swirling wind that can cause havocs in pockets, or a windy day that doesn't affect anything but the occasional field goal or extra point. I get my wind background from playing golf. If it is over 20mph, there is a high liklihood that the passing game will be affected. If it is between 10-20mph, I might take into account arm strength when looking at quarterbacks, and anything under that I try not to factor in.
With respect to rain and snow, I think Chris is spot on. Anything other than extreme conditions will not warrant me to fade players from that game. With that said, any rain or snow will decrease projections for players in that game, so ultimately it comes down to whether a player stands more to gain from a positive matchup in bad weather, or a nuetral/bad matchup in nice weather. If you look at certain divisions, they are used to playing in bad weather, and the larger the sample size in those conditions, the more we can trust their projections. I always try to keep as many options open as possible, as I've seen far too many good players ignored because of weather conditions. The key is in your exposure. You don't want a large amount of exposure to any player in adverse weather conditions, but having a small piece can often be the difference between running deep in a GPP, and not.
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Ryan Hester - Moderator