Roundtable Week 3

A free agent weather report, preemptive picks, and a game of what's wrong...is there hope in Week 3's Footballguys season-long roundtable. 

Week 2 offered some positive and negative corrections to the first impressions gleaned from opening weekend. However, discerning which week was a truer indication of those players and teams remains the challenge that makes fantasy football an obsession. We'll explore that underlying theme with three topics: 

Let's roll...

[return to top]


Free AGent Weather Report

Matt Waldman: Where are you on these likely free agents and why? 

How much free agent budget would you spend for each player of interest? 

Chad Parsons: In general, all tiebreakers or tier breaks begin at running back when looking for a surge of starting lineup help from the waiver wire. So I suggest we begin there. 

Waldman: Agreed. Lead off with your thoughts on these backs. 

Parsons: Javorius Allen is the No.1 guy on the list. While preemptively stashing Allen in the 3-4 weeks leading up to now was my recommendation, I would go up to 50-60 percent if he is still out there. Chris Carson and Samaje Perine have lower ceilings, so they are more in the 20-40 percent boat.

Andrew Garda: I agree with Chad in that I normally prioritize running backs. Allen has really heated up since he was close to being cut in camp. As he’s about the only surefire starting running back on most waiver wires, I’d say 40-50 percent of the budget is worth it, especially if you have a shaky backfield.

Jason Wood: I was fortunate enough to roster Allen last week when his price was still cheap, but Terrence West's injury and Allen's performance have vaulted him to the top of the priority list. If you didn't blow your FAAB budget on Tarik Cohen or Kerwynn Williams last week, Allen needs to be prioritized. He will fetch at least 40 percent of FAAB this week, and it's justifiable if you're in desperate need of an every-week player in PPR formats. 

John Mamula: Allen is the top name on the list by a wide margin as he has received at least 19 touches in each of the first two weeks. The Ravens have struggled to push the ball down the field and Allen will benefit with the short passing game moving forward. Spend 50-60 percent on Allen in PPR leagues and 30-40 percent on him in standard leagues.  

Darin Tietgen: I am not a huge fan of Allen despite some pretty impressive numbers to start the season.  Baltimore's remaining schedule against the run is one of the worst in the league.  He's assuming the "Danny Woodhead" role and Terrence West has also put up decent numbers to begin the year. Allen will be fighting for a job when Woodhead returns.  If you need a short-term fix in full PPR formats and are paper-thin at RB, Allen is worth a look but I wouldn't blow my budget on a guy who could produce flex-ish stats for just a handful of weeks.  The past two weeks could be fools' gold numbers.

Andy Hicks: You are not going to see many backs on the waiver wire who are seeing 14-20 carries a game, so he has to be snapped up if he is available. It is also well documented that the Ravens love to throw to their backs and he is the leading receiver out of the backfield for them. He has solid RB2 value going forward, and you should consider anywhere up to 50 percent of your budget, especially if you are in a PPR league.

Waldman: While Allen earned more snaps this week, it came on the heels of West suffering a soft-tissue injury and I wonder how much Alex Collins may cut into Allen's workload while West and Woodhead are rehabbing. While the numbers indicate Allen has appeal, I'm concerned about the loss of Marshall Yanda, who is arguably the best run-blocking guard in football. The Ravens line could lose stability and it will force the competent Allen to stretch beyond his capabilities to earn yardage in ways where Collins is a little better: anticipating penetration, bouncing glancing blows, and making defenders miss in tight spaces.

Danny Tuccitto: Given that Collins is the only other healthy running back on the Ravens' run-first offense, the opportunity is there for Allen to have RB1 upside. He's also entrenched as Baltimore's passing-down back as long as Danny Woodhead's out, so he also has a built-in floor. These types of players don't show up on the waiver wire all that often, so I'd bid around 30 percent of my budget to acquire him.

Waldman: As of this evening, there's some thought that Collins could take over West's red zone role if West misses time. West didn't practice on Wednesday, either. When I think about this situation in total, I see a mediocre back working a weakened line and a good chance that he won't earn West's most important role and even if West's injury becomes serious, Woodhead could take away Allen's value when he returns. I wouldn't touch Allen, but it's clear I'm in the minority opinion with Darin. 

What do you think of the Chris Carson, Darin? 

Tietgen: Chris Carson was on many pre-season radars after looking downright nasty for a team that relies on its defense and churning out tough rushing yardage.  There's no other way to say it: the Eddie Lacy experiment failed miserably.  He was a healthy scratch last week even with Thomas Rawls still not 100 percent. 

Carson responded admirably, putting up 93 yards on 20 carries.  Carson was productive in college; not sure why he slipped all the way to the seventh round in this past draft, but it appears as if the Seahawks got themselves a steal.  Again, it's league/team need dependent, but I wouldn't blow my budget on Carson.  Rawls is still a viable back when healthy and at some point, C.J. Prosise should figure into the passing game from the RB spot. 

Wood: I was all in on Eddie Lacy this preseason and that was foolish. Luckily, he didn't cost much and was an easy drop for the free agent of your choice. Should Carson be that choice? In 12-team leagues, Carson is worth rostering but he doesn't belong in lineups. The Seahawks offensive line is awful, and Carson may simply be the prettiest house in a bad neighborhood. Don't pay more than 10 percent of your budget on Carson, and that's aggressive. 

Hicks: Like I mentioned with Javorius Allen, 20-carry backs won't sit on the waiver wire long. Carson has run the ball very well in his limited action to date and looked far more effective than any other ball carrier that Seattle has thrown out so far. Carson has 26 carries at 5.1 yards a pop. The other 3 have 13 carries for 18 yards. Carson will be the lead back on a team that wants to run the ball a lot, despite the bad line. I would think 70 percent of your budget wouldn't be a bad move. It may not work out if he begins to struggle, particularly in pass protection, but he has RB1 upside. You will have to gauge your league very carefully before throwing out 70 percent of your budget, especially some leagues where he can be had for 10-20 percent.

Garda: I love Carson but the offensive line and Rawls make him less valuable. I would recommend 15-20 percent.

Mamula: Matt Bitonti ranked the Seahawks as the third-worst offensive line in last week's rankings. Temper your expectations with Carson, but he is still worth 25-30 percent of your free agent budget if Allen is unavailable. 

Tuccitto: Of all the players on this list, Carson is the most talented in my view. Watching him against the 49ers last week, I was impressed by how hard he hit the hole and was able to make subtle moves to evade tacklers near the line of scrimmage. The issue for me is that, although he's the No. 1 running back on a run-first offense, C.J. Prosise is the clear passing-down back. Therefore, I'd bid around 50 percent for him in standard leagues and around 30 percent in PPR leagues.

Waldman: I was more impressed with Carson's patience and cutback ability last weekend than any other time I saw him. It was the first trio of plays where I could conclude that maybe....MAYBE...not all of the backs on the Seahawks depth chart would have been capable of a similar run. Even so, it doesn't matter to me if the offensive line cannot run block or pass protect consistently enough to sustain drives. Sure, Carson is capable of a run once a week of 20-30 yard but with notable exceptions for massive big-play threats like Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson in their primes, the best backs earn steady gains and occasionally break a big play. Carson's supporting case makes him—and every back on this depth chart—feast or famine. Carson passes the eyeball test, his team is failing its running backs. If I could get him for 15-20 percent, I'd add him to my roster as a desperation play. 

What about Samaje Perine? He earned the bulk of touches after Rob Kelley injured his ribs. As Sigmund Bloom at the recap crew noted, Kelley was far more productive on fewer touches in the first half. Where I differ on their assessments is that Washington found one play—the old counter trey—that consistently caught Rams linebackers out of position at the edge and led to big plays that tired out the defense over the course of the first half.

Whether it was a lack of trust in Perine running the counter or a strategic mistake in play calling (and this is a real possibility because Washington had the Rams tired after gashing the defense with this play and opted to throw consecutive fade routes in the red zone when the offense should have made the defense prove it could stop the play for the first time), Washington did not run that play for Perine at all. Perine started slow but showed greater patience as the game progressed into the final series of the fourth quarter. 

If Kelley misses extended time, where do you stand with the rookie from Oklahoma? 

Parsons: Like Carson, Perine has a lower ceiling for me. Depending on the format, I'd fall in the 20-40 percent range. 

Waldman: That's still a pretty wide range...

Parsons: I'd err to the lower side of the spectrum unless I was desperate for a starter and factored that my league had a robust FCFS pool that I could exploit. 

Tietgen: I am a huge Perine fan, especially before the draft and I nabbed him in a couple dynasty leagues.  That said, I'm lukewarm on his fantasy prospects based on who remains in the backfield.  But unlike Buck Allen, Perine's value isn't tied to PPR.  In fact, in PPR formats, I'd prefer his teammate Chris Thompson.  But if Rob Kelley misses extended time, Perine will be the lead back and that could turn into flex-like numbers despite low PPR potential.  Two tougher matchups and a bye during the next three weeks force fantasy owners to be judicious with free agent budget strategies on him, especially given Kelley's likely return and Thompson's skill in the passing game.  

Wood: Arrrrrrrggggggghhhh.

Waldman: Tell us what you really think...

Wood: Did I say that out loud?

Waldman: No. Adam Harstad is still in your head and he told me.

Wood: Haha. I drafted Perine in almost every league. And promptly dropped him last week. Now, Perine gets over 20 touches in his second NFL game and I can't believe my impetuousness. I'm not yet sold on Washington as a productive offense, but Perine has the balance and strength to be an every-down player. He's worth 20-25 percent of FAAB in deeper leagues. 

Waldman: If you haven't caught on by now, most of our panel believes in touches regardless of the level of talent as long as there's even mediocre surrounding talent. 

Hicks: That's right. And Perine is another 20-carry back who could be sitting out there. Even so, I am a little bit more pessimistic about him because if Kelley plays, he starts. Perine was ordinary, but like you set this up, effective chewing up the clock for Washington. Kelley clearly ran better when he was on the field.  Watch for news on Kelley, because if he misses time Perine may be worth 20 percent of your budget. If Kelley plays maybe percent.

Mamula: I do not expect Kelley will miss much time and Perine goes back to a limited role. The Redskins offense screams RBBC all season unless Kelley or Chris Thompson suffer a long-term injury. Spend 10-15 percent max on Perine as an insurance play if you need running back depth.  

Tuccitto: I have minimal interest in Perine, as his plodding style and lack of a receiving role severely limit his upside. Rob Kelley's rib injury opens up an opportunity for him in the short-term, but I'd still only bid 3% at most.

Waldman: Just like his pre-draft assessment, fantasy writers range from thinking he's a plodder to an underrated talent with future upside. Stay tuned.

[return to top]


Let's move onto the sole quarterback on the list, Trevor Siemian. Is he worth the production he posted against Dallas or was that a confluence of factors that aren't repeatable? 

Tietgen: I am fairly high on Siemian.  While he doesn't have elite options at tight end, he has two of the better wideouts in the game and boasts the fourth-best remaining strength of schedule despite having to face AFC West foes. Budget-wise, where you set your free agent bid really depends on the size of your league and QB needs. Given the depth at QB, I wouldn't over-do it.

Waldman: Throw out a figure...

Parsons: I can see 5-10 percent on Siemian if my roster is dying at the position. That if depends on the Colts quarterbacks for example. Since quarterbacks are generally a good deal on the trade market in most leagues, I wouldn't overspend. Once most teams realize that their depth at the position lacks great trade value, values become available on waivers as the season progresses. 

Wood: Color me impressed. Siemian has played within himself, and the offense has flourished. Keep in mind, C.J. Anderson's running resurgence is equally important, and Siemian is not yet a quarterback suited to win games in a shootout. As long as the defense remains elite and the ground game productive, Siemian makes the right reads and hits his playmakers in stride. Siemian earns consideration as a rotational fantasy option and should be owned in every league deep enough to roster two quarterbacks or more per owner. I would pay up to 5 percent in typical leagues, and upwards of 25 percent in super-flex or 2-QB formats. 

Waldman: Now there's a guy who understands his price points. 

Wood: Ain't nothing but a thang...

Waldman: Right on. Danny, what are your thoughts on Siemian?

Tuccitto:  Siemian's big fantasy game in Week 2 was touchdown-dependent. He only had one, four-touchdown game last season, so I don't think that's sustainable or represents a new version of him that includes considerable upside. Therefore, I'd only bid 5 percent of my budget on him, at most (unless I were desperate for a quarterback).

Waldman: I'd only bid that much based on the way most waiver wires work in fantasy leagues. However, Siemian was effectively a surprise rookie starter last year so it's not like we can really say he's an "established" player who won't experience growth. At the same time, I agree that any expectation of multiple four-score games isn't realistic. 

Mamula: While he's played well, I don't think he keeps it up. The Broncos game plan is to play stout defense and run the ball. I agree that spending no more than 5 percent is the correct recommendation unless otherwise desperate. 

Hicks: Siemian is playing well and taking what the defenses give him. A fit and firing C.J. Anderson is helping the situation a lot, but we need to pump the brakes just a little bit for now. Buffalo hasn't conceded a passing TD to date and the following week sees the Broncos play the Raiders who have only conceded 2 as well. At the moment he only registers as a late QB2 for me, so if he is on your waiver wire and you need help he is better than nothing. 

[return to top]


Waldman: Moving on to receivers, what's the forecast for J.J. Nelson, Allen Hurns, and Rashard "Hollywood" Higgins? Let's start with Higgins, continue with Nelson and end with Hurns. 

Hicks: With Corey Coleman hurt and another not being bothered to do good work (hello, Kenny Britt), the door is wide open for someone to take this job by the scruff of the neck. My preferred choice is Rashard Higgins who had a really nice game against the Ravens. I would prefer to see more, but he could be anything. Maybe a splash of 20% would be worth it, but realistically you shouldn't have to go above 5 percent.

Tuccitto: A game against the Colts in Week 3 gives him short-term upside as well. The problem, of course, is that everyone else knows about this matchup, which means a large dose of price inflation is likely. If my Week 3 lineup were desperate for a wide receiver, I'd bid around 40 percent; around 20 percent otherwise.

Wood: Every year, we all seem to fall for guys who have to produce because "someone has to catch targets." It rarely works. Higgins is that guy. Just because the Browns have an opening following Corey Coleman's injury, doesn't mean Higgins will produce. Bid no more than 1-2 percent for depth and a lottery ticket. 

Mamula: It's difficult for me to get behind a player that went from the practice squad to the team's No.1 receiver in one weeks time. I would prefer to take a wait-and-see approach with Higgins, but that is not an option with most waiver wires. If you have the room on your bench to wait, spend no more than 3 percent of your free agent budget. 

Tietgen: The Browns will need someone to be the focus of the passing game.  Who knows, maybe the second-year pro and the rookie QB DeShone Kizer have some rapport we don't know about (yet)...

Waldman: Receivers who actually run good routes are a valuable commodity in a pinch and it's a strength of Higgins' work.

Tietgen: It'll be a telling month.  The Browns have two tough matchups against the pass and two easy ones.  If you need a WR, Higgins may come cheaper than Hurns. 

As for Nelson, Bruce Arians told us that the offense would need a second wideout to step up this year.  The "Browns" and Nelson were all vying for that spot, and it didn't really look like anyone was going to step up until now.  Nelson and Jaron Brown will compete for targets come Week 3.  The Cards have a string of decent matchups ahead so throwing some free agent cash at Nelson could prove fruitful. That said, I would rather have Higgins or Hurns. 

Parsons: Not me, J.J. Nelson is my favorite of the wide receivers on the list. However, 10-20 percent is the highest I would go. Nelson has consistently produced high upside when he has been a part of the Cardinals game plan for the week. 

Wood: While everyone else was bidding on Nelson, I was rostering Jaron Brown for free.

Waldman: It has been one of my considerations also because Brown was looking good before an injury last year delivered production opportunities to Nelson on a silver platter. 

Wood: Nelson was the star in Week 2, but Brown was oft-targeted and delivered flex value in PPR formats. Nelson is a playmaker, but he's also boom/bust. I doubt he's available in most leagues, but if so he should fetch 15- 20 percent of FAAB budgets. 

Hicks: Nelson will be a nice WR3, although I'm pretty sure he won't keep up his touchdown-per-game streak for long. Like Jason, I would prefer his teammate Jaron Brown. Nelson has 13 targets in 2 games, Jaron Brown has 11 in 1. The concern though is if John Brown comes back, Nelson is more likely to see the field. I wouldn't go nuts for either, maybe 5 percent of your budget, but with John Brown out for at least Week 3 both are good depth additions.

Garda:  While Nelson won’t face the Colts every week, he does have the Dallas Cowboys coming up and that secondary remains suspect. I think he’ll be a decent matchup play and I trust him a bit more to repeat his production on occasion than I do Allen Hurns, who has Leonard Fournette to contend with.

Mamula: John Brown will probably not be able to play against the Cowboys in Week 3. It makes Nelson into a solid WR3 or flex play. If Brown is out for an extended period of time, Nelson's value increases but at the moment he is worth 10-15 percent of your free agent budget.

Tuccito: I've been a big fan of Nelson's dating back to April when I found that his "true" average depth of target (aDOT) ranked second among all returning wide receivers. He's actually No. 1 because Sammie Coates Jr switched teams after I wrote that article. Although it's a valid argument that aDOT tells you more about a player's role in the offense than about the player himself...

Waldman: Especially when Coates can't track a football and needs a dump truck of targets to earn a game that receivers with his physical skill can do with half the attention. Sorry, disgruntled Browns fan that didn't want the Steelers' sloppy seconds. Carry on.

Tuccitto: Nelson's skill set is why he has the deep role in Arizona—and the deep receiver in Arizona is a valuable role indeed. I wouldn't break the bank for him because of how bad Carson Palmer has looked so far this season; say a bid around 25 percent.

Waldman: So let's talk about Hurns. I listed him as a good garbage-time option for receiver-needy owners. What say you? 

Tuccitto: Hurns has been around long enough for us to have an accurate gauge on his range of fantasy outcomes. Yes, he had several big games in 2015, but the Jaguars' offense was different back then; not the run-first outfit it is today. As I like the upside in my free agent acquisitions, the most I'd bid on Hurns is 5 percent of my budget.

Mamula: The Jaguars passing game is another situation that I am avoiding this season. They are similar to the Broncos as they will focus on winning with their defense and rushing attack. It worked Week 1 versus Houston and failed last week versus Tennessee. Jaguars wide receivers will be hit or miss all season. Spend a max of 3 percent on Hurns as I think we may see some better wide receiver options popping up over the next couple of weeks. 

Tietgen: Hurns' value, unfortunately, is tied to a couple things: One, will the Jags have many "garbage-time" opportunities?  Their defense has looked better this year, so maybe not.  Secondly, can Blake Bortles right his ship?  If Hurns gets opportunities, he produces.  Look at what he did in 2015.  He ended up as WR19 (his running mate Allen Robinson was WR6).  The potential is there as well as historical stats, so if you're looking to add a WR this week, Hurns has to top your list.  A tougher matchup against Baltimore looms but then a cupcake in the Colts.  If he can produce flex/WR3 type numbers against the Ravens and studs out against the Colts, I think you might just be looking at the Jags' No. 1 wideout the rest of the way.

Hicks: Hurns is the more stable option than most of the unproven guys that will be on the waiver wire. His upside will be capped though as the Jags attempt to run and defend to win games. Garbage time won't happen in every game. Maybe 1-2 percent here. 

Wood: The Jaguars aren't going to win games with Blake Bortles' arm, and Allen Hurns has just a fraction of Allen Robinson's ability. Hurns is worth rostering, but he shouldn't be more than a WR3 in 12-team leagues. Bid 5 percent or let someone else overpay. 

[return to top]


Waldman: I had the pleasure of doing a magazine feature on Ben Watson before I left my magazine gig and a couple of months before he tore his Achilles. Watson arrived in the league with a ton of promise and hype but it wasn't until 2015's Pro Bowl season with the Saints that he made good on it, statistically. Can he bounce back from injury? Was last week an indication of more to come? 

Tietgen: I'm lukewarm on Watson. He went from 1 target and 0 catches Week 1 to 8 targets/8 catches Week 2.  Obviously, the game against the Bengals was an anomaly, but could the same be said for Week 2's effort?  Watson is 36, and while we know that Joe Flacco does love utilizing his tight end, you have to figure the team will start getting Maxx Williams involved.  Those that need a TE may be able to find other options.

Waldman: I think if Williams was going to get involved, it would have happened a couple of years ago when he had a year to acclimate. Instead, they leaned on Dennis Pitta's semi-miraculous comeback and then went after a mid-30s tight end. It tells me a lot about Williams.

Wood:  He's an aging veteran on a mundane offensive team coming off a major injury. 1-3 percent if you're desperate at the position. 

Hicks: Depending on the depth at the position in your league you will either attack heavily or let him go. Eight-catch games won't happen every week, but Baltimore is going to need a tight end to last more than a few weeks. At his age, I would be concerned week-to-week, but for Week 3 he might be a good option. Go 1 percent here. 

Mamula: I'm passing on Watson as there should be better tight end options on most waiver wires.

Tuccitto: I just can't get on board with investing in a 36-year-old tight end, based on one game to boot. Then there's the fact that Watson plays on a run-first offense with a quarterback who's nursing a back problem, which means he's got a higher-than-normal chance of having passes thrown to him by Ryan Mallett in the near future. No thanks; not bidding on him.

[return to top]


Preemptive picks

Last week, our panel broached the topic of pre-emptive pickups mattering as much if not more than pricey free agent bids. 

Which one of these players would you consider worthwhile pre-emptive pickups for cost-conscious fantasy squads or a squad with room to speculate on an option with the hope that his value spikes sooner than later? 

If you have an alternate suggestion or two for any of these positions, feel free to substitute them for an existing option. In this section, list your thoughts all at once. 
 

Parsons: D'Onta Foreman and Alex Collins would be atop my list. Foreman should already be owned but if he is not, remedy that this week. Collins looked solid in his Baltimore debut and injuries could work to his benefit. On a team with passing game issues, even the second running back is proving flex-worthy.

The wide receivers listed all seem like lower-upside stopgaps for the next couple weeks or so (if viable at all). I would rather go with David Njoku or Dwayne Allen at tight end over the receivers. I will add Jermaine Kearse to the pool with flex or better viability. There is not much happening for the Jets offense, but Kearse is the lead guy with a solid weekly target floor.

Of the quarterbacks, I bet Mitch Trubisky sees the field as the starter (outside of injury) before A.J. McCarron. Both would be in the low-end of matchup play QB2 types in fantasy terms.

Tietgen: Here is mine...

Mitch Trubisky: As a long-suffering Bears fan, I was absolutely livid on draft day.  The Bears had already spent too much on Mike Glennon and the team desperately needed a playmaker on defense like Jamal Adams.  But the kid looked pretty good in the preseason. With the Bears headed nowhere fast, you'd think the team goes against their "Glennon is our starter in 2017" stance and eventually plugs the rookie in.  He could be a garbage-time stat-guzzler.  Risky proposition here, as there will also be games where he throws 15 completions and 3 picks.

D'Onta Foreman: As a Longhorn fan, I'm super-high on Foreman.  I think with the right seasoning in the league, he could become a star.  He has surprisingly nimble feet, maybe more so than even fellow rookie Leonard Fournette.  By no means am I making a direct comparison here but the same thing was said of Le'Veon Bell coming out of Michigan State.  "Looks" like a plodder, but actually has good lateral quickness and can catch the ball if given the opportunity.  If the Texans' season goes into the toilet, figure they give Foreman an extended look.  Or if Lamar Miller goes down, Foreman is a 20-touch per game guy on a team that will look to control the ball on the ground.  Worthy of a speculative add in all formats if you ask me.

Geronimo Allison: Jordy Nelson is 50/50 to play this week.  And given the depth at wideout the Packers enjoy, you'd think Nelson probably sits against a team the Packers should beat.  When given extended opportunities, Allison has been pretty good.  Look at his stats to close out the 2016 season.  This is a big opportunity for Allison, especially if the Packers hold Nelson out multiple weeks.  The Bengals' current stats against the pass are misleading to start the season.  Green Bay will be able to throw.  Get him now because if he starts for Nelson and puts up 6/80/1 he will be much more expensive next week.

Kasen Williams: We talked about Rashard Higgins above, and while his prognosis seems favorable, he is still Rashard Higgins.  Williams may not be a speculative addition at this point but most certainly a name to watch.  He was a preseason "star" and the Browns are hungry for playmakers downfield.

Brandon Coleman: I added Coleman in a dynasty league right before the season.  I figured "why not", as he is, in fact, a Saint, and they lost Brandin Cooks this off-season and Coby Fleener was disappointing in 2016.  While Ted Ginn Jr, Jr. was supposedly going to slide right into a sizable role, and while Willie Snead IV and Michael Thomas appear to be budding stars, I just figured there could be a sliver of opportunity.  To have only 38 targets in 2016, and 3 of them turn into TDs means something to me.  Probably means something to Drew Brees too.  Definitely worth a speculative add just based on the offense.  And if the Saints continue to struggle he could be a garbage time wonder.

Dwayne Allen: Gronkowski's already banged up and it didn't take long.  Honestly, Allen shouldn't even be on this list.  He should be rostered in pretty much all formats minus eight-team leagues or those with ultra-short benches.  While Allen was a little disappointing in Indy, he is the backup to an oft-injured TE on an offense and at a position that can produce incredible fantasy stats.  I watched Allen get drafted in all of my redrafts in the final rounds.  He was a perfect benchwarmer that you could drop a month into the season if Gronk looked like he was staying off the trainer's table.   Gronk is supposedly "fine" and "day to day" but fact remains that Allen is one significant injury away from having an opportunity at being a low-level TE1 or better.  

David Njoku: We all know rookie tight ends struggle to produce, but the Browns felt comfortable enough with their rookie (and second-year pro, Seth DeValve, who is more of an in-line tight end option now) to let the miraculous Gary Barnidge walk.  Now, one may say that Njoku is more WR than TE, kind of like fellow rookie Evan Engram, who is also producing well to start the season.  If nothing else, the Browns are desperate for playmakers and Njoku is going to get opportunities.  If you have a deep bench, Njoku is probably worth a stash if Allen's gone.

Wood: Half of my list is "pass..."

Mitch Trubisky: In regular leagues, pass. In superflex/2QB leagues, he's worth picking up in anticipation of an inevitable starting role in a few weeks.

AJ McCarron: Andy Dalton isn't getting benched, and McCarron isn't as good as Dalton. Pass. 

Alex Collins: When a guy can't make the Seahawks backfield, it's hard to get too excited about his prospects. He ran well in mop-up duty, but he's still third fiddle in Baltimore. He's only worth a pre-emptive pickup in 14-team leagues.

D'Onta Foreman: He's probably already rostered, but Foreman should be a priority if available. 

Dion Lewis: Any healthy body on New England's roster is worth a pickup. Lewis probably won't do much but with Rex Burkhead getting hurt, it shouldn't shock anyone if Lewis gains viability. 

Geronimo Allison: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb appear to have avoided significant injuries, but that doesn't mean Allison should be on the waiver wire. We've seen the Packers "next man up" mentality work many times over, and anyone getting regular targets from Aaron Rodgers is a fantasy asset. 

Kasen Williams: Pass. 

Brandon Coleman: Pass. 

Dwayne Allen: If Rob Gronkowski stays hurt, Allen is a Top-10 fantasy tight end. He should be rostered. 

David Njoku: Njoku is raw and the Browns offense is in trouble. Pass. 


Hicks: I'm not sure how preemptive either Josh Bellamy or Deonte Thompson is in Chicago, but with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith out for the season, as well as Markus Wheaton struggling, the opportunity is there for production. Kendall Wright will get catches, but touchdowns are there for the taking. Both Bellamy and Thompson had a nice game or two down the stretch last year and are getting opportunities earlier this year.  

Mitch Trubisky: Not right now. John Fox isn't likely to throw him out until he feels he is ready. Mike Glennon hasn't played that bad and was completing a high percentage of his passes to options four, five, and six on the depth chart. 

AJ McCarron: I doubt the Bengals give up on Andy Dalton unless they start 0-4 or 0-5. The backup quarterback on a struggling team is always going to be better on paper, than in reality. 

Alex Collins: He could be worth a deep stash as Baltimore is struggling to keep anyone fit right now. 

D'Onta Foreman: He should be snatched up. Lamar Miller is not the back he was meant to be for Houston. While 35 carries in 2 weeks are good, 126 yards off that tally isn't. Foreman looked a better runner in his limited action, but after his first 4 carries weren't any better than Miller. 

Dion Lewis: Unless New England loses another back, he should be rostered only in deeper leagues. James White, Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead will see more touches. There may be a game or 2 where Lewis is unleashed by the Patriots. Good luck figuring out which one it will be.

Geronimo Allison: Geronimo Allison will need an injury to be effective, but is the clear No.4 for now.  There will be better immediate options on most waiver wires, but he could be a solid investment given how banged up the Packers receivers already are. 

Kasen Williams: One catch in three years is not usually the template for success. Watch, but don't act for now.

Brandon Coleman: Willie Snead IV will return soon, but if you are looking for a one-week play then maybe Coleman is worth a shot.

Dwayne Allen: Dwayne Allen tends to produce in big bursts and then do nothing. Rob Gronkowski will need to be out and even then he is likely to be overrated.  

David Njoku: As others have mentioned, rookie Tight Ends struggle with consistency. I'd prefer Seth DeValve for consistency although he doesn't have the potential upside than Njoku has. 

Garda:  I agree that, if we’re looking at future shares in a quarterback, Trubisky is the guy. I honestly don’t think Andy Dalton is getting benched anytime soon. I’d imagine the Bengals realize that while he’s not doing well, he’s not remotely the biggest issue there and, beyond that, the offensive line would probably get McCarron destroyed anyway.

I like Foreman but don’t think I see either he or Alex Collins getting a lot of play anytime soon. Yes, if there is an injury, someone will get the carries but my expectation of that isn’t terribly high. If I am going to grab one, I would take Foreman, as he at least seems closer to getting significant carries than Collins does.

Mamula: Foreman is my top name on this list mainly as an insurance option behind Lamar Miller. It would take a Miller injury for Foreman to crack most starting lineups. If reports out of Green Bay are that Jordy Nelson will miss time, Geronimo Allison jumps Foreman as the top option on this list. He played 61 snaps last week after Nelson exited the game early and has potential to find the end zone with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football. As far as the waiver wire, I prefer to wait for a better spot and not spend more than 5-7 percent on either player unless you are really itching to spend your free agent dollars. 

Tuccitto: Foreman's the player on this list that I'd stash away if I had that luxury. Alfred Blue is injured and doesn't profile as a player Houston's coaching staff would rely on should Lamar Miller get hurt. And even if Miller stays healthy, it seems that there must come a point in time when slogging through his mediocrity just isn't worth it anymore. There are only so many 20-70-0 rushing stat lines a lame duck coach can endure before he throws his hands up and gives someone else a chance. That someone else will almost certainly be Foreman.


[return to top]


What's WRong...Is There Hope?

Waldman: Name a struggling player, unit, or team and explain what's wrong with them and explain where there's potential hope on the horizon for their fantasy outlooks.

Tuccito: I think the time is now to buy Panthers despite the offense's struggles. There's no way to know for sure, but it appears that Cam Newton's surgically repaired shoulder is requiring time to get up to speed after throwing only two passes all preseason. Furthermore, in the 49ers and Bills, Carolina has faced two of the more underrated defenses in the league, so their offensive mediocrity through two weeks isn't as much of an underachievement as it seems. Oh, by the way, they host the Saints this week.

If there's anything that might derail Carolina's train to offensive redemption, it's that I don't trust offensive coordinator Mike Shula to take full advantage of Christian McCaffrey's talent and skill set (which is why I didn't draft him at all this preseason).

Mamula: The Bengals offense has been a mess this season with zero touchdowns thus far. In a panic move, they fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after only two games. I don't envision things getting better over the next month as three of their next four games are on the road. Next week they are at the Packers who are ranked eighth in defense, followed by a road division matchup versus the Browns, then a home game versus the Bills who are ranked second in defense and finally the Steelers who are ranked third in defense. Not as easy four-game stretch for a team that is struggling to find its identity. I don't see much upside for Bengals players and are cutting my losses. 

Garda:  Can we talk about having no hope?

Waldman: As a Browns fan for many years, of course, we can...

Garda: We’re just two weeks in and the New York Giants are a disaster—Eli Manning is skittish and indecisive, the running backs are terrible and the playcalling is questionable at best, resulting in the organization already panicking. You can change all of that, but unless you can improve the offensive line—the heart of their issues—I’m not sure how much it will help. 

Maybe the Giants can talk the Browns out of Joe Thomas or something, but they seem intent on sticking with Ereck Flowers, who I recently heard described as a “drunk bear on stilts,” and I dearly wish I had come up with that because I could sell that t-shirt to Giants fans.

Waldman: That is cruel and fantastic.

Garda: The line is the heart of every issue this offense has. Playcalling can help, but ultimately the line needs to execute.

There are murmurings of Orleans Darkwa taking over in the backfield and he has had more success in limited touches than Paul Perkins. If he can continue to make lemonade out of the offensive line’s lemons, the Giants might lean on him a whole lot to buy Manning some time and space. That could translate to some good things for Odell Beckham Jr Jr, as a defense not just blitzing because they have to worry about the run could mean Manning gets the ball to Beckham, his best weapon.

Wood: I mentioned in a Roundtable last week the need for analysts, ourselves included, to be better at analyzing offensive lines and their impact. We knew the Giants had offensive line concerns. We knew the Giants couldn't run the ball. We knew the team did nothing to improve the offensive line personnel or running back corps in the offseason. Yet, we let the acquisition of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram to the receiving corps convince ourselves there were fantasy riches to be had. Beckham will be fine, he's a transcendent player. Everyone else should be very concerned. 

Hicks: Every year we see players have slow starts, especially wide receivers. Maybe they had an injury that interrupted their preseason. Maybe they had some bad early-season matchups. Maybe they are acclimating to a new offense or new quarterback or even on a new team? 

In 2015, we had Brandin Cooks start the year slow and he was 52nd among receivers after 2 games. He finished the year12th. Last year, T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant, and Emmanuel Sanders all started the year outside the top 50 receivers and finished as no worse than fantasy WR2s. Hilton was ranked 56th after 2 games and finished 5th.

This year we have a bunch of likely starters ranked outside the top 50 after two weeks. Some will remain that way, a lot won't. Mike Wallace is way down in 111th. He should rise but maybe not that much as Odell Beckham Jr who is 94th.

Desean Jackson has only played one game and is currently 92nd. He will rise very soon. Jarvis Landry is 73rd, but also with only one game under his belt and 13 catches tells us which direction he is heading in.

Larry Fitzgerald is 55th and I'm afraid he may not improve much. Carson Palmer looks awful and is chucking it at the younger receivers. Terrelle Pryor is 52nd and looking dicey for advancement. 

There are many others outside the top 50 drafted to be more than what they have shown. Be patient.

Tietgen: I think that Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. starts putting up his "usual" numbers sooner rather than later.  His high ankle sprain did not look to be much of a hindrance Monday night, at least on the plays I saw.  He looked "pumped up" and we all know the squeaky wheel will eventually get the grease.  The Giants' offense has looked downright putrid without OBJ and once that ankle is fully healed, you know that he and Eli will get back to playing pitch-and-catch.  Utilizing current stats, the Giants do have a favorable schedule against the pass, which only helps.  OBJ would put up stats on anyone given a clean bill of health, having a favorable schedule only makes for better stat lines.  He has a few weeks to get that ankle stable before dates with Denver and Seattle.

Parsons: It is crazy to see the bottom two teams in PPR scoring for their running back units as Dallas and Pittsburgh two weeks in?

For the Steelers, it was expected Le'Veon Bell would need a warmup game with his late reporting. Then Bell was matched against the stout Minnesota front in Week 2, where he totaled just 91 yards on a gaudy 31 touches. By October things will be back to normal with Bell and the final two months of the season look nice from a strength of schedule standpoint.

For Dallas, their Week 2 game script was divergent from the norm. They abandoned the run and even passed the ball when near the goal line more than usual. Ezekiel Elliott was fine in Week 1 with 140 total yards on 29 touches. Arizona is another stingy assignment in Week 3, but the next 4-6 weeks after looks like Dallas' run game will get back on track.

[return to top]