This week, our panel of staffers will engage in an extended game of Buy/Sell, they'll look back at key moves (good and bad) from their leagues, and they'll build fantasy teams from a prescribed pool of players and explain their choices.
- Pivotal Choices
- Non-draft transactions that helped.
- Non-draft transactions that hurt.
- Successful players that you wanted to draft, but missed your chance.
- Struggling players that you wanted to draft, but thankfully missed your chance.
- Successful players that you avoided in drafts.
- Struggling players that you avoided in drafts
- Players you always targeted in drafts.
Let's get to work.
In a 12-team PPR format with lineups of 1 QB/2RB/3WR/1TE, who are you buying and who are you selling from this list based on the values I'm giving based on the past 3-4 weeks of production?
The numbers to the left of the name are their season-long ranking sin PPR. The values to the right of their names are (at least) how they've performed for the past month.
Matt Waldman: No.10 Blake Bortles as a top-5 QB.
Mark Wimer: Selling. His mechanics look like they are regressing; most of his recent stats were garbage-time generated.
John Mamula: Selling. Agree with Mark. Bortles has regressed this season. I want zero part of the Jaguars offense.
Andrew Garda: Selling. Garbage time is all well and good, but I wouldn't call him a top five quarterback plus, as mentioned, his mechanics and overall technique seems to be degrading.
Jeff Haseley: He may have some more garbage-yards games, but I'm not hanging my hat on Jacksonville offense right now.
Matt Waldman: I'm buying-holding. I believe garbage-time games are reliable if the team has little shot of drastic improvement. For instance, if Jacksonville had the potential for a top-5 defense this year but minor injuries depressed it's value, I'd be selling Bortles if there were reasonable odds that this defense would return intact against inferior competition soon. This isn't the case and the ground game isn't likely to improve.
It means I'm willing to rely on the current team dynamics, hold my nose when the garbage truck drives by for its weekly service, and be thankful that the garbage QB is doing his job, albeit it in ugly-smelly fashion. What about No.9 Dak Prescott as a top-10 QB?
Daniel Simpkins: I’m buying Prescott. I love what I’ve seen from him after eight games. The offense that the Cowboys have crafted supports their young signal caller nicely. I also don’t believe Romo will be called upon to play again unless Prescott gets injured.
Jeff Haseley: I'd buy Tony Romo right now, but not sell Dak, if that makes sense. Prescott should continue to see starts as long as he's producing. I'd be a bit concerned about him for the playoffs and I think that Romo would be a better option at that time.
The target of Romo is in the event of a Prescott injury, but ultimately I see Romo as the best quarterback for the Cowboys' chances of going far in the playoffs this year. A Prescott injury may be the best blessing in disguise for this team, in my opinion.
John Mamula: Buying. Until Prescott falls on his face, he is a Top 10 QB. I don't think Romo gets his job back this season.
Andrew Garda: Buying. I am with John; Prescott is keeping this job and he is hitting his groove as an NFL and fantasy starter. He's not putting up points, not just handing the ball off.
Mark Wimer: Romo will be back once Prescott falters and opens door to Romo. Dez Bryant wants Romo back too, in my opinion.
Matt Waldman: I'm also buying. Bryant got angry during the Cleveland game because he wasn't getting pass interference calls. I don't think he's as me-first as many portrayed him to be this week. One point of earned criticism from last week was his lack of complete effort on a route early in the game. But I'm not losing my mind over that kind of thing.
The key for me is the offensive line. As long as the unit stays healthy and intact, I'm sold on Prescott because the starting five in front of him are the biggest factor in give the rookie the time and opportunity to execute as well as he has.
Prescott deserves credit for handling pressure well for a rookie, but when a unit this good stair-steps a young passer into these situations with less frequency than other first-year quarterbacks, it's less of a shock, he often generates fewer errors than his peers under constant pressure, and he's given the time to be more productive. I'm with Haseley: buy/hold Prescott and get Romo as insurance.
If you can't, I'd still buy Prescott, considering his rookie status likely earns you a discount. What about No.5 Marcus Mariota remaining a top-5 QB?
Mark Wimer: The offense is jelling as we head into second half of the season. Buying.
John Mamula: Selling. He doesn't have the weapons around him.
Jeff Haseley: The way that Mariota is running the ball in addition to passing it, makes him a surprisingly hot fantasy commodity. I'm buying Mariota. The needle is pointing upward on him.
Andrew Garda: Selling. While the offense around him can crap out, Mariota has found ways to be good despite it. The offense seems to be finding its wheels, but the problem is I don't see him as good enough to be top five. Top ten, sure. Not a top five, though.
Matt Waldman: Buying. Although may not in a purely statistical sense, this is a balanced offense. The run-heavy formations have effective constraint plays for throwing the football.
This is a big-play unit that hits a healthy amount of explosive plays (over 12 yards on the ground and 18 through the air) and it forces defenses to play the entire field. Mike Mularkey and company deserve credit for developing a good fit between personnel and scheme. The Titans defense also remains weak enough that game scripts can dictate more passing.
Matt Waldman: No.26 Jeremy Hill as an RB2...
Andrew Garda: Selling. Aside from the last week—which we don't know whether it will continue—he has been too hit-or-miss with minimal carries.
Mark Wimer: Buying. As the weather cools, Hill will get more work as the bell-cow back.
Jeff Haseley: Sell. He's still going to have to deal with Giovani Bernard sharing touches. Sell while he's hot in my opinion.
Matt Waldman: You may not get a spectacular return for selling Hill, but he'll appeal to just enough people who see the right optics for a stretch-run. I agree, sell.
No.11 Isaiah Crowell as an RB1...
Jeff Haseley: Sell. I have to think a Browns running back isn't the best investment, especially if they find themselves trailing more than they are ahead.
John Mamula: Selling. Can't trust any RB from a 0-9 team as an RB1. It will be audition time very soon in Cleveland.
Mark Wimer: Browns are in rebuilding mode. They'll tinker with the offense a lot in the second half and nobody's role is assured here.
Matt Waldman: I don't know who they'll be auditioning. Duke Johnson Jr? The team knows what it has there.
The rest of the depth chart is filled with scrubs and Crowell's lack of production, in my opinion, has to do with the fact that the Browns are tied with three teams in the NFL with the most offensive line combinations used this year. Continuity along the line matters.
Andrew Garda: Sell. While he's still used, the effectiveness has plummeted. He's no more than an inconsistent RB2 and getting less consistent by the week.
Matt Waldman: As the lone Crowell defender, I'll note that he's been the No.22 RB since Week 6 and the No.12 RB since Week 7 in standard leagues. Since Week 4, he's only had one game where he hasn't earned 2-4 receptions per game and he's still converting in the red zone.
I can't defend the decreases in weekly yardage since Week 4 and it's difficult to rely on touchdowns as 50-70 percent of one's relevant weekly fantasy output, but I'd risk him as an RB2. Unfortunately, that's not the question, so I must agree with "sell."
What about No.28 Darren Sproles as an RB2 the rest of the way?
Daniel Simpkins: I’ve never trusted Ryan Mathews, so Sproles is an easy buy for me. The news that he’s going to be the primary back in Philadelphia adds further weight behind my decision. As was pointed out on this week’s Audible podcast, years of limited usage in San Diego mean that the thirty-three-year-old doesn’t have the traditional wear-and-tear that his age might suggest.
Mark Wimer: I'm not pleased with how Wentz is starting to come apart and I don't trust Sproles to survive an RB1 workload.
John Mamula: Buying. In a PPR format, Sproles provides a high floor and a high ceiling with that situation in Philadelphia.
Andrew Garda: Buying because Ryan Mathews is not good and Doug Pederson keeps finding ways to use Sproles successfully.
Jeff Haseley: Buy. It's apparent that Doug Pederson likes Sproles over Ryan Mathews. How long that lasts is unclear, but for now, Sproles is the main back.
Matt Waldman: I'll buy, too. Sproles is a safe option in the passing game for an offensive line that has been missing its starting right tackle since the Washington game.
We know that the college game lacks the same physicality of the pros, but Sproles was a workhorse at Kansas State. More important, he runs with a compact style, he's hard to get a hard shot on and when it happens, he protects himself well.
At Kansas State, Sproles ran with a stride that had far more abandon. Sometimes his lower half appeared to be moving in two different directions from his upper half. It made him one of the most impressive college backs I had seen, but he doesn't run this way in the NFL. He has a more compact stride and it's a good thing for his durability.
Let's round out the RBs with No.16 Latavius Murray as an RB1. Takers?
Jeff Haseley: Buy. The Raiders offense is clicking right now and Murray is a big reason why. He has earned the RB1 role on the team and I think he keeps it with low-carry shares.
Andrew Garda: Selling. He is playing much better, but I need my RB1 to do his thing every week—not every other week— there are some tough matchups ahead.
Mark Wimer: Jack Del Rio is too anxious to use a committee of backs even though I think Murray is a good feature back. I don't think he consistently gets to do that job. Selling.
John Mamula: I agree with Mark. Del Rio will go back to a committee approach at RB. Selling.
Matt Waldman: I disagree with Mark on the aesthetics of what makes a good running back but for the same reasons Blake Bortles' process matters less than his environment and his role that leads to production, I'm reluctantly considering Murray as an RB1. I'm not thrilled about it, but the Raiders offensive line is good enough to give Murray those long runways he needs to get through a crease without dancing.
When this happens, he's at his best. When he has to create, he has the agility to do so but not the timing and vision of a back like Devonta Freeman. Fortunately, I'm only giving it consideration rather than rejecting it completely. It means I'm still leaning "no" unless my purchase of Murray includes an additional incentive to make the deal.
Matt Waldman: Let's start with No.21 Stefon Diggs as a WR1. Anyone buying this idea?
John Mamula: Completely buying. Over the past two weeks, Diggs has 14 and 13 targets. As long as he is healthy, he is a WR1.
Mark Wimer: Sam Bradford is starting to collapse and I hate that Norv Turner left the offensive coordinator job. Selling.
Andrew Garda: I like that he's getting heavy targets and Pat Shurmur seems to have a plan to save Sam Bradford from death behind this line. What I don't like? It's all short stuff so yards and touchdowns are going to be sketchy. He won't be a WR1 often enough to earn the cost, but as a WR2 or WR3 I think he is successful on volume. It means I'm selling in this case.
Jeff Haseley: Sell. Unless Sam Bradford turns things around, I don't want any part of the Vikings offense.
Matt Waldman: I'm with John here. I view this offensive change as one that's a win-win. Although the yardage per pass and touchdowns will be fewer, defenses in the NFL are far more likely to allow an offense to dink-and-dunk downfield.
It's more difficult to create long scoring drives of this nature. It means Diggs' target rate has a strong chance of remaining steady in the same way we've seen it with Ty Montgomery in recent weeks.
Many NFL evaluators pegged Diggs as a natural slot receiver, anyhow. While he has proven far more versatile, this role will make him an extension of the ground game against linebackers that can't handle him in the shallow zones.
What about No.67 Robert Woods as a WR3?
Andrew Garda: Yes, he's healthier and Tyrod Taylor is throwing well, but this team is better and more successful when they run and I think they'll get back to it. Sell.
Mark Wimer: Buying and raising. I think he has No.1 WR potential during the second half as Taylor's trusted option.
Matt Waldman: I'll buy as a WR3. I value route runners and Woods has always been good in that department. He played last year with injuries that slowed him down. From a skills standpoint, he's a little more like Allen Hurns than people realize.
Speaking of Jaguars and former Trojans, what do you think about No.49 Marqise Lee as a WR3 for the rest of the year?
John Mamula: I want zero part of the Jaguars offense. Too inconsistent.
Jeff Haseley: Buy. The injury to Allen Hurns will open the door for Lee to make some waves in an offense that is desperate for some consistency.
Mark Wimer: Bortles has been building rapport with Lee over first half of the season. I'm buying.
Andrew Garda: I don't like where this offense is at and I dislike the schedule ahead with Houston, Detroit (improving), Buffalo, Denver, and even a struggling Minnesota unit. Selling.
Matt Waldman: I've seen Lee improve as a route runner, receiver, and ballcarrier. It's a good sign for an immensely talented player. I'm not convinced he's ready to turn it up a notch. But for me, that next notch is top-24 production. I'd take the risk on him as a potential WR3 if Hurns remains out.
Alas, we finish the receiver segment with No.16 Marvin Jones Jr as a WR2. Buy or sell?
Daniel Simpkins: I’m not sure that Jones is completely healthy. His foot injury seems to have lingered all season. Though he’s playing through it, he’s not been nearly as effective. Based on this hunch, I’m selling him to the owners that remember his massive week three and I’m getting a player that is more likely to actually help me down the stretch.
Mark Wimer: I agree with Daniel that Jones' foot injury is lingering and nagging him.
John Mamula: I also agree with Daniel and Mark. Marvin Jones Jr doesn't seem healthy.
Andrew Garda: Jones is seeing the ball less and attracting more attention. As Daniel said, I think he's playing through an injury and it will only get worse.
Jeff Haseley: The last four weeks have yielded a 3-1 target ratio for Tate over Jones. Like Daniel said, maybe he's still dealing with a lingering foot injury. I'd sell him.
Matt Waldman: When it comes to Jones, I'd be the perfect candidate as the star of the next letgo commercial. I hate you all right now because I have to agree with selling him.
Matt Waldman: No.5 Jack Doyle as a top-5 TE...
John Mamula: Selling. Not buying Doyle as a Top 5 TE with Dwayne Allen healthy.
Andrew Garda: I agree with John, Allen returning will put Doyle as more of a blocker. Also, top five is too high a hill to climb for him consistently.
Jeff Haseley: As much as I loved having Doyle available for a few weeks, I'm selling his high value right now. Dwayne Allen will be back, which will cut down on his targets and receptions. I still think Doyle can be good for a few good plays here and there, but not to the level of where he was as the primary receiving tight end threat.
Mark Wimer: Buying. I think Dwayne Allen will stay in to block most of the time leaving Doyle as the receiving tight end.
Daniel Simpkins: I don’t think that Doyle will maintain a stable red zone role with this offense with Allen back. Even though he was limited in his first game back, we saw Allen get both of his targets in scoring range. Only if Allen gets injured again (and that’s very possible given his history) would the Colts turn back to Doyle for this role.
Matt Waldman: I'd buy if the only player returning was Allen because there was enough room for both to thrive in his offense. Doyle has always been an excellent pass-catcher and he's good at finding open zones. The reason I'm selling is Donte Moncrief. He was the missing piece of the puzzle that elevated Doyle's targets because every other healthy wide receiver in this offense not named T.Y. Hilton lacks the complete skill-set to negate what Doyle offers.
No.13 Cameron Brate as a top-10 TE. Buying?
Mark Wimer: I'm selling anyone not named Mike Evans in TB. Winston is inconsistent with targets beyond Evans.
John Mamula: With a great schedule that includes two games against the Saints, I'm buying.
Jeff Haseley: I don't see Brate as a weekly starter. He has risen to some extent, but not enough for me to feel comfortable relying on him.
Andrew Garda: Buying. I love what Brate has done. While this is Mike Evans' offense, Brate will still earn enough targets for top-10 TE love.
Matt Waldman: While the risk for consistent targets may exist, Brate has always been a fluid, agile, reliable pass catcher with enough speed to stretch the seam. I'll buy. It's not like tight end options with low-end TE1 potential are not available on the waiver wire if the investment doesn't work out.
Let's end this segment with the Big Kahuna, Antonio Gates. He's No.18 at his position. Do you buy his recent production as a sign of top-5 value?
Jeff Haseley: Sell. The future is Hunter Henry and it's only a matter of time before he's fully recovered from his concussion. Henry will be the main tight end threat for San Diego.
Mark Wimer: Buying. One more season in the sun for Gates/Rivers tandem.
Matt Waldman: I agree with John about where he potentially fits. Gates played the first half of the season with muscle strains in his legs that limited his mobility. I still think the injuries are hampering him somewhat, but he's moving better in recent weeks.
More than many offenses, the Chargers run elaborate games to get both tight ends open. I think it continues with Gates as a beneficiary, but not enough for him to deliver top-5 production (although one can hope...).
Construct a team from the pool of players below based on your rest-of-the-season outlook:
- PPR format
- 12-team league
- Starting Lineup: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE flex
- Four reserves--any positions
You can only pick one of the players from each position pool in bold type. Explain your choices.
Waldman: Here's the pool of quarterbacks to choose from. Who are you taking and why?
- Marcus Mariota
- Matt Stafford
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Russell Wilson
- Tyrod Taylor
- Blake Bortles
- Jay Cutler
- Dak Prescott
Daniel Simpkins: Russell Wilson. It finally looked like his mobility was coming back in the Buffalo game. I'm confident that he’ll be the best producer at quarterback on this list going forward.
Tyrod Taylor. I love Taylor as my backup quarterback. He’s proving he can get it done in fantasy, no matter who is out there catching the ball. Like Wilson, the rushing yards and touchdowns can salvage days that would have otherwise been pedestrian.
Mark Wimer: I also chose Taylor as my backup. He's a good running quarterback and Buffalo has formed a surprisingly effective wide receiver corps from the talent available. Taylor has good upside potential on fantasy points in case my starter gets hurt again.
John Mamula: I'm right there with Mark on the Roethlisberger-Taylor depth chart. Roethlisberger's upcoming schedule is favorable with home matchups vs Dallas, at Cleveland, and at Indianapolis. Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense will bounce back strong.
Taylor's rushing upside is what ranks him higher than the other names on the list. If I need a spot start, I want a QB that has a built-in floor with their rushing totals.
Matt Waldman: I'll go Wilson and Bortles. All four of the starters in bold are tempting but I believe a healthy Wilson will do what he's done for much of the second half of his past seasons in Seattle. If not, I like the built-in garbage time for Bortles and I believe in his weapons and lack of defense more than Taylor.
Who are your choices at RB?
- Melvin Gordon III
- Devonta Freeman
- Matt Forte
- LeGarrette Blount
- Frank Gore
- Spencer Ware
- Latavius Murray
- Todd Gurley
- Carlos Hyde
- Jordan Howard
- Darren Sproles
- Devontae Booker
- Terrance West
- Kenneth Dixon
- Kapri Bibbs
- Matt Jones
- Rob Kelley
- Bilal Powell
- Jalen Richard
- Dion Lewis
- James Starks
- Ty Montgomery
- Charcandrick West
- C.J. Prosise
- Christine Michael
- Thomas Rawls
- DuJuan Harris
Mark Wimer: Melvin Gordon III, Jordan Howard, and Thomas Rawls. Gordon is in the process of becoming a superstar fantasy player. He appears positioned to be a number-one fantasy running back over second half of season.
Howard will be the bell-cow in Chicago. Cutler played pretty well in return to starting lineup and Howard should get lots of opportunity as the lead back. The Chicago passing game is good enough to move defense backs off line of scrimmage
John Mamula: I went with Gordon, Darren Sproles, Rob Kelley, and Kenneth Dixon. Interesting where we would be if Danny Woodhead didn't get injured. Gordon has become a superstar over the past few weeks. At this pace, he will be drafted in the first round next season.
Sproles has seen a significant bump with snaps over the past two weeks as the Eagles' starter. In a PPR, if Sproles is on the field, he is in my lineup as a high-end RB2, regardless of matchup.
Kelley is locked in as the RB1 in Washington for the time being. Target any RB that is getting a minimum of 15 touches per week.
Dixon split work with Terrence West last week. Moving forward, I can see Dixon taking over the majority of the touches.
Daniel Simpkins: Gordon, Howard, Sproles, Bilal Powell, and James Starks made my team. The Chargers continue to lean on Gordon in the running game and he continues to find a way to produce. He’s the obvious choice for RB1 of the players listed.
Howard will continue to be the main man in Chicago, despite ceding the occasional touch to Jeremy Langford or Kadeem Carey. I have no reservations about Howard being my RB2 or flex play on any week.
Ryan Mathews seems to have lost the confidence of his coaching staff as evidenced by Sproles vastly out-snapping him. Sproles also has prowess as a pass catcher, making him ideal for duty in this PPR format.
I don’t see Matt Forte continuing to hold up to the workload he’s been given in New York. Powell is getting enough work that he has some value now but would become much more appealing if Forte gets injured or his workload is decreased because of season-long fatigue.
The Packers need to establish a true ground game and Starks is their best hope of being able to do that. He’ll be back soon from injury and serves as a reserve with major upside on my team.
Matt Waldman: Gordon, Devonta Freeman, and Matt Forte have their merits. I'm going with Spencer Ware as my sure-fire starter. Denver's run defense is bad the Chiefs get them twice down the stretch. Atlanta, Oakland, and Tennessee can also be run on.
Ware is a complete back and he's among the best at yards after contact, yards versus stacked fronts, and yards after the catch. Give him the ball and he gets it done. I want that high-floor and high-upside combo on my team.
I'll also take Howard, Dixon, and Sproles. I think Ware-Howard will work out just fine, but I love the upside that Dixon provides if he earns the feature role. I think there's a chance after seeing him do more with less in limited touches—and I mean more impressive process and result within the context of the plays he had, not in the box score. He also did a better job as a blocker and receiver than West.
Sproles is my safety option in case Dixon doesn't hit and one of Ware or Howard gets hurt.
Let's choose our wide receivers...
- Michael Crabtree
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Michael Thomas
- Jordy Nelson
- Demaryius Thomas
- Allen Robinson
- Alshon Jeffery
- Dez Bryant
- Stefon Diggs
- Terrelle Pryor
- Jarvis Landry
- Marvin Jones Jr
- Davante Adams
- Mike Wallace
- Cole Beasley
- Tyrell Williams
- Jamison Crowder
- Golden Tate
- Doug Baldwin
- Tyler Lockett
- Randall Cobb
- Marqise Lee
- Steve Smith
- Chris Hogan
- Robert Woods
- John Brown
- Sterling Shepard
- Anquan Boldin
- Kenny Britt
- Quincy Enunwa
- Kendall Wright
- Rishard Matthews
- J.J. Nelson
- Emmanuel Sanders
Mark Wimer: Micheal Thomas, Tyrell Williams, Golden Tate, and Robert Woods, and J.J. Nelson are mine. Thomas is emerging as the No.1 wide receiver for Drew Brees, enough said. He should have several jaw-dropping games in second half of season
Tate is out of the doghouse and back as lead target/possession receiver for Detroit. He should see double-digit targets on regular basis
Woods is part of surprisingly effective Buffalo wide receiver corps and he's its No.1receiver now. He will have lots of opportunities every week.
In a PPR, Landry still has value as a WR2-WR3 due to his targets and reception totals. Tate has been crushing it over the past month. In a PPR, he is the type of WR that can help win a week for you.
Nelson will have an opportunity to produce right away vs. the 49ers this week.
Daniel Simpkins: I also went Landry, Tate, and Nelson, but my Nelson is Jordy Nelson. The Packers threat is the clear leader in targets on a team that must throw constantly. Even if Green Bay gets its running game going, Nelson continues his alpha role in the Packer passing attack.
With Parker still having hamstring troubles, the Dolphins are forced to lean on Landry in the passing game. The touchdowns may not be there, but the receptions will help Landry remain a strong option for this squad.
What a rebound for Tate after a disastrous start! The Lions can’t find their groove in the ground game, meaning they will have to keep passing. The Lions are not forthcoming about injury issues, so it’s not a stretch to say that Marvin Jones Jr may still be limited by the foot injury that cropped up earlier this season. Whatever the reasons, Tate has once again become the primary option. With that said, I want him on my team.
My last choice is Doug Baldwin. The sparks flew on Monday night when Baldwin came down with a 50-yard bomb just short of the goal line. Wilson is heating up late in a prototypical fashion. Baldwin is sure to be one of the weekly beneficiaries.
Matt Waldman: I'll continue touting Larry Fitzgerald. I did it all summer and his role makes him nearly match-up proof. He's not a traditional WR1, but who cares about tradition when you can have consistent production? Baldwin and Steve Smith get the nod because I like their all-around games and the trust they earn from their quarterbacks. If I could have one more, Tyrell Williams is another option because the target counts are solid and he has that big-play ability I seek.
Let's finish these builds with some tight ends.
- Jordan Reed
- Travis Kelce
- Jason Witten
- Antonio Gates
- Jack Doyle
- Cameron Brate
- Zach Ertz
- Kyle Rudolph
- Austin Hooper
- Dennis Pitta
- Lance Kendricks
- Vernon Davis
Daniel Simpkins: It’s been rough to find consistent tight end production this year, so being able to have a top option at the position gives an owner an advantage. While I’m not crazy about Reed in terms of his concussion history, I feel confident that I can find weekly streamers on waivers should Reed go down again.
John Mamula: The most consistent option on the list at TE is Reed and I'm going with him.
Matt Waldman: I'm a Kelce fan and I like that the Chiefs are going downfield more often. Reed is the safer option in terms of targets and the ability as a receiver is equally strong. The tiebreaker for me is the Chiefs schedule of Tampa, Denver, Atlanta, Oakland and Tennessee. None of these teams defend the tight end well because they are weak in the middle zones and seams.
Share some of your decisions from fantasy leagues this year:
- Non-draft transactions that helped.
- Non-draft transactions that hurt.
- Successful players that you wanted to draft, but missed your chance.
- Struggling players that you wanted to draft, but thankfully missed your chance.
- Successful players that you avoided in drafts.
- Struggling players that you avoided in drafts
- Players you always targeted in drafts.
Matt Waldman: Non-draft transactions that helped you...
Daniel Simpkins: I know that we tend to talk primarily in the context of redraft leagues in these roundtables, but I would like to go in a different direction to answer this question. Even in one quarterback dynasty leagues, I picked up Dak Prescott the moment I saw him flash in the preseason. I’m not nearly the evaluator that Mr. Waldman is, but I saw an integration of skills that is rare among rookie quarterbacks. Even though he’s now my second or even third viable quarterback in those leagues, I can either keep him and have fun watching his career play out or flip him for a hefty profit when I believe he’s hit peak value.
Jeff Hasley: For me, Jack Doyle's emergence came at the perfect time when Jordan Reed was out with a concussion. I targeted Doyle in all leagues where I have Reed and was able to stay afloat due to two, timely productive weeks from the Colts primary tight end threat. The Colts and Luck have been known to utilize the tight end heavily in their offense and when Dwayne Allen went down with an ankle injury, the fit couldn't have been more perfect.
Andrew Garda: Jay Ajayi for obvious reasons. He got dropped early in several leagues and I picked him up because we all knew Arian Foster had no durability. Of course, I didn't expect more than RB2 numbers at best, so I look smarter than I am, but I felt like after he got left behind by the team in Week 1, he sounded like a different guy and once he got his shot, I had faith.
Matt Waldman: Ajayi was also my best addition for the same reasons as Andrew. Let's discuss non-draft transactions that hurt you.
Andrew Garda: Adam Thielen looked like he was going to have a big role, but the offensive line died and he didn't get as many open spots across from Stefon Diggs as I expected. Now we have a situation where all his targets are so short—and his role inconsistent. His WR3 value is even shaky. I hope he will bounce back, but he's not what I hoped he would be.
John Mamula: I haven't really been hurt badly in any leagues thus far. I am sitting on Kenneth Dixon in a couple leagues hoping he pays off soon. The verdict is still out.
Jeff Haseley: My window for unsuccessful waiver claims is short. If you're going to fail, fail fast and move on. I took a chance on Eddie Royal when Chicago had injury issues at wide receiver, only to have Royal get hurt and Cameron Meredith step up.
Matt Waldman: I had the same problem with Royal in one of my leagues. Fortunately, I had enough depth that it turned into a one-week mistake.
Daniel Simpkins: In most of my leagues, I picked up Devontae Booker as a high-value stash well before the C.J. Anderson injury occurred. The payoff has been minimal to this point because of the horrible run-blocking work of the Denver offensive line. Hopefully, their winning organization will find a way to turn things around and help Booker meet expectations. In the meantime, I feel I’ve missed out on the opportunity to grab other backs that would have helped me pick up extra wins or points because I felt that Booker’s roster spot was more valuable.
Matt Waldman: Which successful players did you want to draft, but missed your chance? Ezekiel Elliott and A.J. Green were my targets. I was sold on Elliott as a top-five option. We all know that Green is a stud who only Andy Dalton can contain.
Daniel Simpkins: David Johnson and Green were two players that never fell to me in any of my drafts this year. Both have had stellar seasons that have left me wishing I had found a way to acquire their services.
Jeff Haseley: Michael Thomas is one. I have him in several leagues, but in others, I just missed out. I also targeted LeGarrette Blount in many leagues, only to miss out. I felt the Patriots would utilize him more during Tom Brady's suspension and that's exactly what happened. At least two leagues I settled for Chris Ivory after missing Blount.
John Mamula: Mike Evans. I targeted him in every draft and it seemed he was consistently getting sniped from me. Tom Brady was a QB target for me but was going off the board a bit earlier than I wanted to pay.
Andrew Garda: Ezekiel Elliott and Tom Brady. I rarely had a shot for Elliott because of draft position, but I knew he'd be an RB1. I was hoping people would be attracted to other backs, but that didn't happen. It's worse because in several leagues where I missed him my top backs all got hurt. Brady was someone I stole last year, but it didn't work out this time out. Well, you know how that looks now.
Matt Waldman: What about players you wanted badly, missed out, and you're happy you did?
Jeff Haseley: Tajae Sharpe is one that I was high on, who has performed below expectations. It's possible that he could turn things around, but he is not a key component of the offense yet. Another was Arian Foster. It was just a matter of time before another injury derailed his chances of a productive season. His injury issues and Ajayi's rise to stardom were the deciding factors for his retirement.
Matt Waldman: Anything to add?
Matt Waldman: Bueller...
Matt Waldman: Ha! Moving on...
John Mamula: Keenan Allen. I'm not sure if he counts since he went on IR, but I wanted him badly preseason. Deandre Hopkins, too. I thought Hopkins would have a top-5 season.
Matt Waldman: Both were squarely on my radar and I thought Hopkins was bad QB-proof.
Andrew Garda: Doug Baldwin is not playing as well as I expected him to, save for Week 3. Russell Wilson's injury, a bad OL and a lot of attention seem to all be hurting. Eric Decker is another one, and his injury made me happy I missed out.
Daniel Simpkins: Michael Floyd and Jeremy Maclin were players that I really wanted on my teams coming into the year, but were often snatched up in my leagues. Sometimes, you get lucky walking through the minefield...
Matt Waldman: Who did you avoid and now they are succeeding?
Daniel Simpkins: Jordan Reed (for injury reasons) and LeGarrette Blount (for attitude/motivation reasons) were two I was avoiding. The tight end landscape this year has made my aversion to Reed look very foolish indeed. As for Blount, there’s a chance that he cools off, but it looks more and more like he’s going to be a constant in this backfield.
Jeff Haseley: I wasn't on the DeMarco Murray bandwagon until late in the draft process. By then, I had drafted too many of my teams and missed out on him.
Can I also add Jimmy Graham to this as my third example?
Matt Waldman: Yes, so I don't feel alone as the only one who wrote him off.
Mark Wimer: Three's company...
John Mamula: Make it the fearsome foursome...
Jeff Haseley: I was way off his radar and didn't even target him at value. I saw Victor Cruz struggle with the same injury and thought only negative things about Graham's return one year later. He's a huge surprise that I missed out on.
Matt Waldman: My only solace is that I have him in two dynasty leagues. I also avoided Steve Smith. Never count out Steve Smith but not sure we can say he has been a rousing success due to injury. I'm betting he will.
Mark Wimer: Also add Dak Prescott to my list.
Matt Waldman: Rookie QBs to me are automatically players I avoid, so I'm also a guilty party and I'm unrepentant.
John Mamula: Michael Thomas also seemed too pricey for my taste.
Andrew Garda: I avoided Melvin Gordon III. I felt awesome about it for a while and now I am kicking myself. Spencer Ware was another one, because I felt like an RBBC was imminent and Charcandrick West and Jamaal Charles would be bigger factors by now.
Matt Waldman: Who did you avoid and rightly so?
John Mamula. Todd Gurley. I wanted nothing to do with the Rams offense heading into the season. I was also leery of Denver WRs heading into the season.
Andrew Garda: Todd Gurley was also on my no-fly list. I love the talent, hate the team, and how they use him. As i said about Ajayi earlier, I felt like it was only a matter of time before Arian Foster got hurt and here we are.
Matt Waldman: I'm with you on Foster. Add Jamaal Charles to my list. He was too pricey for all the unknowns with his recovery.
Matt Waldman: I'm not a fan of gadget players and Austin is exactly that kind of player.
Jeff Haseley: I generally stayed away from Tyler Lockett in redraft leagues. He may improve in the second half of the season, but he's someone that I'm glad I skipped over. Another is Dez Bryant. I have never been a big fan of Bryant. He's an inconsistent receiver who has big games here and there, but he's also capable of a down week any given week. Plus he's someone you have to worry about injuries. I also shied away from Sammy Watkins, due to his foot injury that was a big question mark heading into the season.
Daniel Simpkins: Demaryius Thomas and Delanie Walker were players I would not take at their respective average draft positions because I knew that those offenses and the dynamics that created their production in the past would not be the same this year. Both have had big games this year, but have largely not lived up to their production expectations.
Matt Waldman: Let's end with players that you always tried to draft and why. I'll start: Spencer Ware, Russell Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Travis Kelce. Ware was such a great deal at the end of drafts and I've always been a fan of his skills (as I've beaten into the ground). When healthy, Wilson is arguably the best quarterback in football.
Fitzgerald was underrated because of age when his role is ideal for fantasy production. All Kelce needs is a more aggressive quarterback to do a spot-on Gronkowski imitation in fantasy leagues. He's still good enough without a Brady-esque otion.
Jeff Haseley: I'm with you on Fitzgerald. He is a consistent threat year in and year out. If I can get him at value, I usually never pass him up.
Daniel Simpkins: Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers are players that I seem to end up with from year to year.
Matt Waldman: Right there with you...although I miss on Brees more than I do Rivers.
John Mamula: Brees is money at home. He's a very consistent fantasy option at QB. Set it and forget it.
Daniel Simpkins: The last two years in particular, they’ve been disrespected by drafters who predict their age-related decline is coming. I know Father Time will catch up with them eventually, but I didn’t believe it would be this year. You are getting elite production out of them both on most weeks without having had to pay the Cam Newton/ Aaron Rodgers/ Andrew Luck type prices.
Mark Wimer: Matt Ryan. He's a quarterback in prime of his career. I live in the Atlanta TV market, too.
Matt Waldman: As one of many on this panel competing with Mark in leagues, I can attest that Wimer has been making it a point to draft Ryan for years.
Mark Wimer: Antonio Brown is the safest first pick in fantasy drafts. He has a secured role in PIT with a high floor and astronomical ceiling on a weekly basis.
Andrew Garda: I love Jordy Nelson and while he has had a rough season until the last two weeks, he always is a big part of the offense. I feel the same way about Matt Forte for his versatility and usage although the Jets have stopped throwing to him as much. He's a productive PPR back though and I like that.
Matt Waldman: Great choices and I'm a big fan of both Nelson and Forte. I couldn't disagree with any of the above, although I would have done so with Ryan before the season...
Mark Wimer: And you would have been wrong.
Matt Waldman: No doubt.