This week we discuss the following:
- Jumbled RB situations
- Passing games on the rise?
- Doug Martin, Devonta Freeman, Todd Gurley
- Seahawks running backs
- Andre Johnson
- Chiefs running backs
Tennessee, Washington, Arizona, Detroit.
In each of these situations, multiple RBs are getting significant work every week without a clear featured back. Do you like anyone to emerge as top dogs on these teams down the stretch? If so, who?
Jeff Pasquino: The only one of this entire group I see as emerging soon is Theo Riddick for the Lions. Ameer Abdullah needs to shake off the fumblitis, and with Detroit falling behind more often than not, a pass-catching back is the best bet for Detroit.
Washington is interesting, and I have never loved Alfred Morris' one-dimensional running style. Now they have Chris Thompson to steal catches and snaps while Matt Jones is getting regular carries. If I had to pick one going forward it would be Jones, but I am passing on all of it.
I have zero faith in the Tennessee running game. Antonio Andrews may get a one-yard TD plunge now and then, but I am not holding my breath for real value here. If anything I would grab David Cobb and hope he pushes for playing time when he gets back.
Ryan Hester: I agree with Jeff here that none of these situations are really optimal. If there were a player clearly superior to his backfield mates in any of these offenses, the teams wouldn't feel the need to deploy a three-headed backfield. In PPR leagues, Riddick offers the most value in Detroit, but I wouldn't completely close the door on Zach Zenner either. He was getting early-down work and being targeted on some passes before the game got wildly out of hand for Detroit last week. Joique Bell looks to be completely done, and if the team wasn't giving Adbullah the lion's share of the carries before his fumbling troubles, they're not likely to start now. It would require a pretty deep bench league, though, for me to stash anyone here.
Arizona's committee isn't going anywhere as all three are talented and have different skill sets. That offense is clicking so well now, that changing anything would be a big surprise. Washington has played surprisingly well this year, but they still strike me as a team more likely to be playing to a negative game script than a positive one. That crosses off the early down guys like Alfred Morris and Matt Jones but also doesn't make Chris Thompson a really confident play either as the team has stayed close in most of their games.
The one player on these teams that might be most worthy of a speculative add is David Cobb in Tennessee. The offense has been better than expected so far (though their best performances have been against poor defenses), but the thing Cobb has going for him most is that we haven't seen him play. If that's not damning with faint praise, I don't know what is. Cobb, however, could be a "fresh legs" guy late in the season playing against defenders who have racked up far more 2015 mileage than he has. That's the only scenario I see playing out making him worthy of a stash.
Jason Wood: Arizona's offense is at or near elite status, and even though we've got a three headed monster, I would invest in all of them: Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington and David Johnson. I think the odds are that at least one of them is hurt at some point (or hurt again, in Ellington's case), which makes the other two viable starters. I'm not ready to give up on Ameer Abdullah, but he HAS to stop fumbling. Immediately. Assuming he does that, Abdullah has had a hellacious schedule so far and has a VERY EASY schedule the rest of the way. I'm avoiding the other two situations completely.
John Mamula: I agree with Jeff and Ryan. These backfields are currently too crowded for my liking. If injuries come into play, I would consider targeting a running back in the Washington or Arizona offenses. Washington has been having more success on offense than I expected. Through five weeks, they have the ninth most rushing yards, 609, in the league. DeSean Jackson's return to the lineup will help open things up as well. If any of the three Washington RBs are in a position to receive the majority of the touches (17-20+), then I am intrigued. But I only see this happening if injury strikes.
I completely agree with Jason regarding the Arizona offense. They are playing at an elite level and will continue to do so as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy. Through five weeks, Arizona has the second most rushing yards in the league with 674. I like Andre Ellington in PPR leagues if Chris Johnson goes down to injury. I also like David Johnson if either Ellington or Chris Johnson go down to injury. Again, I don't have any interest unless one of these backs is receiving the bulk of the touches. And that is unlikely to happen in this offense without an injury.
I am not investing in any running back in the Tennessee or Detroit offenses. Through five weeks, Tennessee has the 20th most rushing yards and Detroit is dead last in the league.
Bruce Hammond: I don't think anything will clear up in Tennessee without injuries. None of the backs are good enough to emerge, I'm afraid. Sankey was drafted in the second round but has proven to be of backup quality. Antonio Andrews is just a guy. Terrance West was a healthy scratch in Week 5 and doesn't look like he is in their plans any time soon. Dexter McCluster has always been a role player and that won't change. Cobb is a rookie 5th rounder who never impressed me all that much as a college player, or in preseason, and when he comes off IR-designated for return I really don't see him wowing anybody. Not much to see here with any of them.
In Washington, I liked some of the things I saw early on from Matt Jones as both a ball carrier and pass catcher, but he appears to have become tentative the last few weeks. Alfred Morris seemed to lose a step last year and hasn't really regained it this year. Chris Thompson is a role player who has been on and off the active roster during his brief career. I'm not sold on any of these guys emerging and think that what you see now is what you'll get going forward, a mixed bag that will have little consistency from week to week. If I had to invest in one of them and hope, it would be Jones.
In Arizona, Bruce Arians is a pretty straight shooter when it comes to expressing his thoughts and he suggested early on that he would give the starting nod to Chris Johnson if he showed he could do the job. That's just what happened, and I expect Chris Johnson to continue as the main ball carrier this season, with Andre Ellington and David Johnson playing supporting roles primarily in the passing game. Chris Johnson should be worth owning, and sometimes in fantasy lineups, all season. He has virtually no history of games missed due to injury in his career.
Detroit at 0-5 is a mess and I see little reason to continue using Joique Bell at all. I'd shut him down, giving the carries to Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner and consider it an audition for 2016. The problem is, I have zero faith in head coach Jim Caldwell or offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi doing the smart thing. So far the play calling and offensive personnel usage have been a big disappointment, and it is likely Bell will continue to get carries once healthy and Zenner sits. Theo Riddick is a pass-catching role-player who gets extra usage in hurry-up and comeback situations, which could be a season-long circumstance for Detroit. Still, it's hard to count on that role being consistently valuable for fantasy.
Mark Wimer: As John points out, the Tennessee and Detroit situations look completely untenable. I don't want to use up bench space on running backs from these poorly performing and crowded backfields.
In Arizona, I like Chris Johnson to continue to be the lead back in a very productive offense. I don't trust Andre Ellington to stay healthy for any considerable length of time, and I believe Johnson will continue to get the bulk of the work here—he has the second-most rushing yards (tied with Devonta Freeman and Doug Martin) of any back in the NFL with 405 through Week Five. What more do people want?
Will Grant: Like the others, I think that Arizona backs are the ones to have in this mix—but you have to expect that it will only be a 'what the heck flex' type of play each week considering you really won't know who gets the carries if all three are healthy. I like Ellington the most there, but he can't seem to stay healthy. I would expect Chris Johnson to be the weakest of the three because of age and mileage, but they are not going to ask him to carry the ball 25 times a game either so he should still have value down the line.
I also like Chris Thompson in Washington in a PPR league. He is going to get 5+ receptions each week, and that makes him worth having on your roster in that type of situation. That being said, none of the Washington RBs are going to be game breakers and if you drafted Morris or Jones this year hoping for a nice sleeper, what you did was land yourself in quicksand.
Until I see more offense from the Titans or the Lions, I'm not excited about any of those prospects. The Lions have a 'get right' opportunity this week against Chicago, but they have been playing tough since Jay Cutler returned and it's anybody's guess what is going to happen this week. I don't think I'd cut Abdullah loose if you drafted him, but he's not a guy that you can trust in your lineups now. He's the most likely to emerge as the back to have in my opinion, but given Detroit's slow start, anyone who has success from week to week will probably get the most carries.
Dan Hindery: I agree with the consensus that none of these situations is likely to clear up with one running back taking over the majority of the touches, but that Arizona is the one team with pieces potentially worth targeting. The Cardinals offense and defense are both excellent. The team should be playing from ahead quite regularly which should lead to some run-heavy game scripts in the second half in many weeks. The Cardinals also involve their backs quite heavily in the passing game. I am higher than others on Andre Ellington's chances of emerging as the player to own in this backfield however. He is the most talented of the group to my eye and his burst on the long run in Week 5 was extremely impressive. He needs to get and stay healthy, but he should take this job back from Chris Johnson in the next few weeks if he can get back to the form that made him one of the league's most dangerous runners in 2013.
The passing games of the Eagles, Browns, and Jaguars appear to be trending upwards.
Is this a mirage, or will these teams produce reliable fantasy starters down the stretch?
Jeff Pasquino: The Eagles getting better run blocking improved their run game. That improved run game opened up the passing game, so it all builds together. That's what Chip Kelly wants to do, and if he can do that again this week against a Giants' defense that is the exact opposite (great against the run, poor against the pass) then I'll get behind Philadelphia's offense much more.
Cleveland is tricky, as they are really spreading the ball around but getting a lot from "no name" receivers. Very quietly Josh McCown has posted some very good performances, and TE Gary Barnidge has stepped up quite a bit as well. It helps that the schedule had the Browns going against bad defenses (Baltimore, Oakland) but production is production. We'll have to see how they do against much stiffer defenses in the next three weeks (Denver, St. Louis, Cincinnati) and given that schedule I would not be buying too many shares of the Cleveland passing game.
Now as far as Jacksonville, I'm in. Blake Bortles is showing signs of getting it, and the "Allen Brothers", Robinson and Hurns, are creating a great 1-2 punch. Throw in the return of Julius Thomas and I like Jacksonville to really step up in the passing game, and T.J. Yeldon can help balance the offense too.
Ryan Hester: Philadelphia has the depth of talent and the volume-driven mentality to continue to provide passing game value. But that depth of talent dictates that outside of Sam Bradford, the passing game value there will be rather unpredictable. Cleveland, to me, is the most "mirage-like" situation here. Cleveland's last three games have come against Oakland, San Diego, and Baltimore. Those are three of the shakiest secondaries in the NFL. Their "back to reality" moment may come as early as this week against Denver's elite defensive unit. The Browns also have the least potent offensive weapons among these three teams. Josh McCown has always been a limited passer, and Travis Benjamin as the number one receiver is a far cry from the likes of Jordan Matthews and Allen Hurns of the other teams (or even Allen Hurns as Jacksonville's second receiver).
Jacksonville's surprising season could continue as their schedule—while easy so far like Cleveland's—continues to stay relatively easy. This week, they get a Houston team who allowed plenty of fantasy points to Matt Hasselbeck last week, then they play Buffalo before their bye. The Bills are difficult to run against but not as formidable vs. the pass. After their bye, a tough matchup with the Jets looms, but then Bortles and Company get Baltimore, Tennessee, San Diego, and Tennessee again. The Titans have been good against the pass thus far, but they haven't faced any good offenses outside of Indianapolis.
Jason Wood: Let's slow our roll here. Each of these teams is DEEPLY flawed. Of the three, perhaps shockingly so, I prefer the Jaguars. Bortles has looked good and the "Allens" (Robinson and Hurns) are as dynamic a duo as we've seen since Batman & Robin. The Eagles concern me greatly. The offensive line is a sieve, Bradford has never met a deep ball he liked to throw, and the team keeps digging itself holes. The Browns? Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
John Mamula: Reliable is not a word that I would use for any of these three offenses. I am not opposed to use certain players from these offenses in the right matchup. I am not comfortable relying on anyone from these offenses on an every week basis.
Bruce Hammond: I think Jacksonville is an offense on the rise. Allen Robinson has legitimate potential to be one of the elite receivers in the NFL. Allen Hurns is adept at hauling in the deep ball. Tight end Julius Tomas hasn't yet made an impact but will soon. Marqise Lee, last year's second round pick, has also been out injured so far this year but hopefully can contribute at some point. There are talented targets aplenty for Bortles, who is making nice progress in his second season. I think he will continue to improve and could be in the fringe of fantasy starter status the rest of the year.
In Philadelphia, it must be remembered that Sam Bradford's back-to-back torn ACLs means this is the first live action he's had since the first half of the 2013 season, a hiatus of over one-and-a-half seasons. A new system, new players, and all that rust to knock off. Why did anyone expect a few preseason games to make it all fine and not anticipate a lot of inconsistency to begin this season? Some growing pains will continue at times, but he's a good quarterback in a good system that allowed inferior quarterbacks Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez to produce. I think Bradford will be fine, and like Bortles can be in the fantasy starter conversation at times but not a slam dunk starter.
McCown and the Browns are the mirage. I'm just not buying that the Browns' passing attack is the second coming of Green Bay or Indianapolis. McCown has thrown 141 passes the last three weeks! I really think defenses will adjust to the receivers, we'll see more pressure on the pocket, and a lot more of those passes will become incompletions and interceptions. Josh McCown has been around a long time and we know who he is, and his receivers aren't special. Short term spike, but a mirage that will disappear when the Browns face legitimate defenses instead of Oakland, San Diego, and Baltimore.
Will Grant: I agree that the Jaguars passing game provides the most potential. They are going to be playing from behind a lot, and will have to pass to stay close. Jason's concern about the Eagles should concern anyone betting on that offense, but this week they get the Giants who are giving up a ton of yards through the air. If you have Matthews or Zack Ertz on your team, this would be the week to play them.
Jeff Pasquino: I have Bradford over Bortles in a closer call than you might have expected, only because of Chip Kelly's offense. Bortles has solid receivers and can compete on the stat sheet with Bradford. McCown is a distant third and he should struggle in October with that schedule.
Ryan Hester: For the rest of the season, I would include Bortles in the fringe QB1 conversation while Bradford is a middling-to-low QB2 and McCown would rank as a low-end QB2.
Jason Wood: I like Bortles, then Bradford, then McCown.
John Mamula: I like Sam Bradford best. Then Borltes, then McCown. All three are QB2s and only matchup plays for me
Bruce Hammond: Bradford then Bortles (it's close) then McCown a distant third. For dynasty, I'd put Bortles first. Some good growth ahead can be expected.
Will Grant: I agree with Jason here—Bortles, Bradford, McCown in that order. That being said, I think that all of them are more bye-week fillers than every-week starters in traditional fantasy leagues. Bortles might be in a 14 team league, but that's about it.
Dan Hindery: I agree with what seems to be the majority ranking: Bortles, Bradford, McCown. Bottles has the most upside just narrowly over Bradford due to his ability as a runner. We've seen Eagles quarterback in this Chip Kelly offense post top-notch stats before, so it's definitely too soon to write off Bradford. McCown is not exactly a mirage, but he has certainly benefited from some favorable matchups so far. There are few of those games left on the upcoming schedule as Denver, the NFC West and multiple divisional matchups against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh loom ahead.
What receivers (including RBs, if applicable) do you like best from these offenses in PPR leagues?
Jeff Pasquino: In PPR leagues I would go with Hurns and Robinson first, then it is tricky. The Eagles are spreading the ball around too much to have a reliable PPR guy, and I do not trust the Browns much at all. I would put Jordan Matthews and Julius Thomas as distant third and fourth picks to rank all these targets, with Darren Sproles a close fifth.
Ryan Hester: Though it has little to do with the passing game, it's worth mentioning that Ryan Mathews remains a good stash in Philadelphia as he would be an elite RB1 if DeMarco Murray weren't in the picture. Robinson and Hurns in Jacksonville should continue to be solid mid-to-high WR2s. This may be a slight fall from where they are now, but we can't forget about the presence of Julius Thomas, who could take some targets—particularly in the red zone.
John Mamula: Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are the top WRs from the teams listed. I do not trust any of the Philadelphia receivers. Jeremy Maclin's departure to Kansas City has really changed the dynamic of the passing game in Philadelphia. Jordan Matthews worked great as a complementary receiver behind Maclin. Without a true number one receiver, all of the other Philadelphia receivers suffer. In Cleveland, I am targeting Duke Johnson Jr in PPR leagues. In the last three weeks here are Johnson's reception totals:
Week 3 vs. Oakland: 7 targets, 6 receptions for 32 yards
Week 4 at San Diego: 10 targets, 9 receptions for 85 yards and 1 TD
Week 5 at Baltimore: 8 targets, 6 receptions for 55 yards
Cleveland will continue to find their team playing from behind and Johnson will feast with garbage time receptions regardless of the opponent.
Bruce Hammond: Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews should be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the receivers when it is all over. I like Allen Hurns too, but he's likely to be a lot less consistent. I'm not sold on Travis Benjamin continuing anything like what he has done early on, but I do like running back Duke Johnson Jr continuing to grow as a major part of the offense. Another rookie running back, T.J. Yeldon, should get better as he gains experience. It's tough to gauge what will happen with the Eagles' backs though, and the DeMarco Murray-Ryan Mathews tandem may continue to take turns having value from week to week without a whole lot of predictability. I also like tight end Julius Thomas to do well once he is at full strength, but I don't really endorse either Zach Ertz or Gary Barnidge going forward, despite Barnidge's nice start against awful defenses.
Mark Wimer: I think that totally avoiding the Browns is incorrect. Gary Barnidge has become integral to the offense (and he was productive with Johnny Manziel in there, too) so if I were to grab a guy from these teams after Robinson and Hurns it would be Barnidge, then Sproles and Matthews. After all, with the horrid run defense the Browns have on their team they are going to be in a lot of high-scoring games where McCown puts up huge numbers of passes (he's thrown 49, 41, and 51 attempts over the past three weeks) and Barnidge is going to get his share of those. I also think that Travis Benjamin is worth a flyer as he sees a lot of deep balls/TD chances.
Will Grant: In order, I like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Jordan Matthews, and Zack Ertz. I like Sproles as well, but his upside is limited on the running side because of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. This makes him less attractive.
Dan Hindery: The two wide receivers I am most intrigued with on these offenses are Allen Robinson and Travis Benjamin. Robinson is a physical specimen with elite size, speed and leaping ability. He is very close to the prototype you look for in a franchise receiver. He is also a guy who grew up playing mainly basketball and just turned 22-years old in August. He is just cracking the surface of what he can become. He is the type of talent worth betting on and may be in the process of emerging as one of the league's top ten receivers. Benjamin has much less of a pedigree and lacks the ideal size of Robinson. However, he has been creating easy separation so far this season and his role in the offense has continued to grow each week. Benjamin has seen double-digit targets in each of the last three games and has become the go-to option when the Browns need a first down. As long as he continues to see this level of passing targets (and he should), Benjamin is a much safer bet for strong weekly production than the conventional wisdom seems to suggest.
Jeff Pasquino: I will go with Freeman, as he is not getting pushed by anyone in that backfield after Tevin Coleman was injured. With a balanced offense behind Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and a solid offensive line, Freeman gets my vote for the top spot. Gurley has looked impressive but the Rams are struggling with Nick Foles to get a decent passing game going, and the same could be said for Tampa Bay. I'd rank them Freeman, Gurley then Martin.
Ryan Hester: I agree with Jeff's ranking, but I have Freeman and Gurley in a higher tier than Martin. Freeman and Gurley are top-seven players at the position, while Martin is still on the lower end of RB1s or a high-end RB2. He can still fall victim to poor game scripts if Tampa Bay is overmatched or if Jameis Winston turns the ball over multiple times in a game.
Jason Wood: I like all three quite a bit. Gurley was kept on the sidelines for a few weeks but we've seen in the last two weeks that he's 100% ready and is instantly the team's workhorse. What's great is that Gurley got the job done in spite of his team losing 24-10 last week. He could be game script proof; which in today's NFL is something very few NFL running backs can be labeled. Of the three, Freeman is my favorite simply because the Falcons appear to be the best team of the bunch. They'll be "on script" more often than either the Buccaneers or the Rams.
John Mamula: Devonta Freeman is an RB1 and every-week play regardless of matchup. Todd Gurley is a low RB1 and Doug Martin is an RB2. It's hard not to like Devonta Freeman after what he has shown over the past three weeks. He is receiving the bulk of the workload in Atlanta and often playing with a lead. Todd Gurley has the most talent of the three RBs but the Rams offensive line will hold him down in certain matchups. Doug Martin is more of a matchup-based play for me. If you have a running back that is on bye or injured such as Jamaal Charles, then Doug Martin is a fine every week play as a RB2.
Bruce Hammond: Gurley, Gurley, Gurley! What Freeman is doing is exciting, and Martin has had two very nice weeks back-to-back, but Todd Gurley is going to be a superstar. I'm all in on him.
Mark Wimer: I agree with Jeff that Freeman is the best of that lot of three—he has a hammerlock on the top job in Atlanta and the Falcons' offense will need to keep busy in a lot of games as their defense is mediocre at best. The passing games in St. Louis and Tampa are flawed and there will be games when Martin and Gurley get stacked up at the line because opposing defenses aren't afraid of their quarterbacks. So my ranking is like Jeff's—Freeman, Gurley, Martin.
Will Grant: Gurley is the guy that I'd want on my team in redraft leagues. He started the season banged up, but he's come on strong now that he's healthy and he's in a great position to put up some big numbers the rest of the way. Doug Martin has had a burst these last couple weeks, but he's shown that he can disappear just as easily and he would be a guy that I'd be concerned about. Freeman is a stud and you can't argue with the numbers, but I keep waiting for him to cool off. For now though—just continue to enjoy the big numbers he's putting up.
Jeff Pasquino: Rawls is pretty quick and can find the holes, and you can make a decent argument that his style does fit Seattle a little better because their offensive line is not the same as last year with the Jimmy Graham-Max Unger trade. Lynch can move the pile but Rawls is making something out of nothing and then breaking that something for long distance runs on occasion. I think Rawls has earned about 1-2 series a half, or about 30% of the workload going forward—but if the Seahawks are winning late, I can see Lynch running out the clock. Then again Pete Carroll might want to rest Lynch, so Rawls could run out the clock some as well. I still see it about 70-30 for Lynch over Rawls.
Ryan Hester: Rawls was fantastic last week, but a 100% Lynch is still the better player for this year. The trust, rapport, and chemistry that the entire offense has with Lynch can't be replaced in a couple of games, and Lynch is more capable in the passing game than we believe Rawls to be (I say "than we believe to be" because we're not sure as Seattle hasn't used him in the passing game much; perhaps that's as telling as anything).
When Lynch is healthy, the team would still be wise to use Rawls frequently enough to preserve Lynch for the entirety of the season. While he won't get passing down work, he could handle 30%-40% of the carries. A 60-30-10 split of overall touches with Lynch, Rawls, and Fred Jackson would be the optimal mix.
Jason Wood: To say that Rawls is the better fit would be overstating things. A healthy Lynch is one of the two or three best runners in the game. Period. What's really at issue is whether Lynch is healthy; which appears unlikely. Rawls is healthy and producing, and hopefully the Seahawks keep Lynch on the sidelines until he's back to 100%. But if (when?) Lynch is healthy, I fully expect Rawls to revert to a backup role.
John Mamula: A health Lynch is the better fit in the Seahawks' offense. While age and workload are catching up to Lynch, he is still a workhorse when healthy. I do not envision a scenario where Lynch is splitting a large percentage of the workload. When Lynch returns, I see him getting at least 80% of the workload. Rawls will revert to a backup role.
Bruce Hammond: I agree with Jason and John: Rawls isn't a better fit. What he is, though, is healthy, and Lynch is not. Lynch is nearing the end of a great career, but once back on the field and healthy he will again pile up stats in 2015. I'd worry more about 2016 and view Rawls as a threat then if I were a Lynch owner. As for workload, Coach Pete Carroll indicated earlier this week that Rawls will be involved still, and the rotation would be similar to how it's been in the past (i.e., with Robert Turbin). Given that Lynch is coming off injury and is a little older, and Rawls has done so well, I'm guessing he may exceed Turbin's typical carries when Lynch has been healthy. What was once probably about an 80-20 ratio might be more like 70-30.
Mark Wimer: I think Rawls is the future in Seattle and Lynch will be in the past starting next year—but they are paying Lynch to be the bell-cow so why not put the wear-and-tear on his body this year and save Rawls for 2016? Once Lynch is back, I think Rawls gets some work (5-8 touches per game) so he can keep on learning the pro game, but he won't be featured until Lynch and the team part ways in the offseason.
Will Grant: Boy this kid has looked good when he's been playing. He impressed the staff enough for them to cut Christine Michael loose before the start of the season. Fred Jackson still lurks and once Lynch is back, I think Rawls takes a back seat. But in a dynasty league, Rawls is the guy you want from this group. A healthy Lynch gets 70 percent or more of the carries and Rawls will take a back seat once Lynch is back to full speed. That being said, Rawls allows them to bring Lynch along a little slower too and make sure he's really 100%.
Was that a genuine resurgence from Andre Johnson last Thursday night, or is it time to sell him for whatever you can get now that his perceived value has had at least a small bump?
Jeff Pasquino: Sell high. Matt Hasselbeck loves to throw short, and targeting Andre Johnson was just the smart play for that game. I do not see Johnson out-targeting T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief most weeks, so it is time to sell high on Johnson if you can.
Ryan Hester: I'm still selling. Last Thursday was a fired up player going against a team that had negative things to say about him after he left town. Indianapolis made a concerted effort to focus on the short passing game—the only passing game in which Johnson can succeed and that Matt Hasselbeck can run effectively—and they ran a couple of plays specifically designed for him to flash open in big spots. He and Andrew Luck haven't showed any rapport in the preseason or regular season, and Luck should return this week.
The things Houston said about Johnson weren't widely-publicized, but the general idea behind what was said is that Johnson is too slow to compete at his advanced age. That notion appeared to be true in four out of five games. I tend to believe what I've seen four times over what I've see just once.
Jason Wood: I can't call one good game "resurgent." But I also don't think you can fetch much for him based on that one bounce-back week. If you can get 50 cents on the dollar for him (based on your pre-draft expectations), I wouldn't think twice.
John Mamula: Sell Andre Johnson for whatever you can get. I agree with Ryan. What we saw from Johnson was the classic revenge game. Matt Hasselbeck made it a priority to target Johnson throughout the game. Johnson rose to the challenge and gave Houston a glimpse of the past. Johnson will not have another multi-touchdown game the rest of this season. If you started Johnson last week, consider yourself fortunate.
Bruce Hammond: Yes, I'd sell high if possible. Note that it was not Andrew Luck throwing the ball to Johnson.
Mark Wimer: Sell now. That was a 'revenge' game and he won't be able to sustain that level of production with Moncrief, Hilton and Dorsett—the youngsters are much more dynamic and productive options.
Will Grant: I think this is more of a one-game wonder type of thing. Especially when Andrew Luck comes back. T.Y. Hilton is the go to guy here and Donte Moncrief has also proven he's worth keeping involved in the offense. Between those two, the TE combo of Allen and Fleener, I think Johnson is the odd man out when everyone is healthy. I'd sell him now if you can.
Jeff Pasquino: I'm thinking that this has the makings of either a RBBC or even "we picked up the wrong" guy. The wild card here is not Davis or West, but Andy Reid. Reid could easily go with Davis over West as Davis knows the offense better and is probably the best pass-blocking running back left for Kansas City. I can definitely see this being like Baltimore last year when everyone was on Taliaferro after Ray Rice was released and then the veteran, Justin Forsett, turned out to be the real value.
Ryan Hester: Andy Reid commented that West has a more Jamaal Charles-like skill set than Davis, but Davis is the more proven commodity. Even though West has risen above Davis on the depth chart, he's not a lock to get all (or even most) of Charles' workload. Many NFL coaches favor big backs near the goal line, even when those big backs have statistically proven that they aren't great in short yards (looking at you, Mike Tomlin, when LeGarrette Blount was in Pittsburgh).
Charles' goal line ability and opportunity was unique among backs his size, so despite the comparisons Reid made of West to Charles, that far from guarantees that West will get those high-leverage goal-line carries. This seems like a two-thirds, one-third split with a "to-be-determined" goal line back in an offense that isn't high-powered to begin with. I don't see West as a season-changer.
Jason Wood: Jamaal Charles is a special player. While Knile Davis was productive in his stead, that came on touchdown plunges. Davis averaged 3.5 per carry and Charles has NEVER averaged less than 5 yards per rush. The fact West beat out Davis is encouraging, but the Chiefs offensive line and overall offense leave much to be desired. If the Chiefs could control games via their defense, I would be very bullish on West. But based on what I've seen from the defense and offensive line so far? West is a low end RB2 or a flex option.
John Mamula: This seems like an RBBC that I have zero interest in. The Chiefs offense ran through Jamaal Charles up to this point. For the remainder of the season, I see the offensive focus shift to the short passing game. Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce will benefit from the Charles injury. Kansas City will continue to be playing from behind most weeks. Alex Smith was comfortable checking the ball down to Charles. I see a good percentage of these targets going to Maclin and Kelce moving forward.
Bruce Hammond: The primary reason Jamaal Charles was a valuable fantasy asset was that he was supremely talented. He did well despite low touches (averaging fewer than 14 carries per game last year, for example, and fewer than 15 this year before he was hurt). His career yards per carry is an insane 5.5 and he has never had a season under 5.0. He could also usually be counted on for double-digit touchdowns. Now we have a committee made up of backups Knile Davis, who is likely to see goal line carries, and Charcandrick West, an undrafted free agent who wasn't ranked among the top 50 rookie running backs of 2014 according to at least one prominent source. This will be a weak RBBC in my opinion and will not come close to replacing Charles productively.
Mark Wimer: My vote in KC is "Stuck in an unproductive RBBC." Head coach Andy Reid from his post-game press conference after Jamaal Charles went down, saying, 'I'm not saying who is or is not the feature guy, but we need both of them.' Reid misused Charles multiple times last season—how are we to trust him to manage a committee of backs effectively? I don't.
Will Grant: This is more of a 'someone's got to carry the ball' type of thing. Charles is one of the best backs in the league, but now that he's done, it's not like the next man up will step in and put up the same numbers. I think it's RBBC the rest of the way.
That will do it for this edition of the Footballguys Roundtable. Please join us again next week.