Welcome to Week 2 of The Docket, a weekly column that will highlight rule and policy issues effecting players as well as offer strategy and advice on a select few players that you should be targeting or avoiding.
(This is where we will highlight pressing issues that will have a major impact on your season, such as the currently suspended player mentioned below)
Martavis Bryant (WR, Pitt) – Last week the Stealers offense looked like they were picking up right where they left off last season, which bodes well for Bryant once he returns from his four game suspension. If he happens to be sitting out there in shallow leagues, make sure to pick him up; and if you have an over abundance of starters at one position, see if you can trade for him. He will be an every week WR2 in standard leagues and a high-end WR3 in PPR. He’s also a weekly difference maker, and those of the sort of players you want on your team.
Antonio Gates (TE, SD) – For those in need of tight end help, make sure to grab Gates if he’s sitting on the waiver wire; he will be well rested and an every week TE1 once he returns Week 5. Is he still an elite option? Probably not, but Philip Rivers trusts him, especially in the redzone.
ON THE STAND
(This is where we look at issues that could have an impact on your season)
Early Season Rust/Bad Matchup’s – Many Fantasy players are freaking out over the lack of production of marquee players such as Brandin Cooks and Calvin Johnson. But don’t fret, a few bad matchups or a slow start for the offense to start the season is common and it can limit the production of even the most elite players. Calvin Johnson was doubled teamed all game by the Chargers underrated secondary, forcing Matthew Stafford to look elsewhere. Cooks was blanketed by Patrick Peterson, although he did get free for a nice 30 yard bomb. Look for both players to bounce back this week, with the Lions scheming to get Johnson open and Cooks has a far more favorable matchup against Tampa Bay who was shredded by Marcus Mariota last weekend. Don’t abandon your studs (I’m talking to you Allen Robinson owners), even if they are off to a slow start due to poor matchups or adjustments to a new scheme (looking at you Adrian Peterson who has almost never played with a quarterback primarily in the shotgun).
(This is where we look at select players who are on the verge of an upgrade or downgrade)
Todd Gurley (RB, StL) – The Rams offense looked pretty darn good playing against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense last week. That bodes well for Gurley who practiced in full this week and could be ready to go as early as next week. The time to trade for him in standard leagues is now, especially if you can pry him away from a desperate owner that is in need of immediate help. I also saw some people drop Tre Mason after watching Benny Cunningham have success last week. If so, swoop him up. Mason will be the starter this week and will be involved the whole season. If not for the drafting of Gurley, Mason would have been squarely on the RB2 radar this pre-season. He should have flex value all year, even with Gurley back.
Christine Michael (RB, Dal) – Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin mentioned today that Marshall Faulk said Christine Michael will be starting in Dallas soon, stating: "That boy is bad. He was hiding up there,” referring to Michael’s time in Seattle. Joseph Randle did a decent job as the starter last week, but he has no physicality to his game even though he runs hard. With Dez Bryant being lost for eight weeks, the Cowboys need difference makers on offense and Michael is by far the teams most talented back. It might not be this week or next, but his time is coming.
Brandon Coleman (WR, NO) – Coleman was the Saints number two receiver last week and went 4/41 on 7 targets against the Cardinals tough secondary, including a beautiful touchdown catch and run from 12 yards out. Due to his size (6’5” 225lbs) and good hands, he is the front-runner to soak up Jimmy Graham’s lost production and played on 78% of the teams snaps, which was more than Marques Colston. He should be owned in all leagues and is a great DFS play this week as your third receiver.
Joique Bell (RB, Det) – Despite Bell being listed as the teams starter and taking the games first snaps, Ameer Abdullah played on 45% of the teams plays compared to just 38% for Bell. It’s just a matter of time before that gap widens even further. Even more troubling for Bell is that the Lions gave Zach Zenner a few snaps as well. If Bell plays well this week, look to trade him immediately, if he doesn’t look good, don’t hesitate to upgrade him for someone with more upside on the waiver wire, especially in PPR leagues.
Andre Johnson (WR, Ind) – The whole Colts offense struggled against a Bills defense that may be the best in the league, so we don’t want to overreact here, but Andre Johnson didn’t look great. He finished 4/24 on 9 targets, dropped a two-point conversion and failed to gain any sort of separation. While it’s just one game, his play certainly is cause for concern and things won’t get easier for Johnson this week going up against the NFL’s second best defense, the Jets, and having to face coverage by the leagues best cornerback, Darrelle Revis. The smart move is to keep him on your bench until we get a better feel for where he’s at, especially with the uber talented Donte Moncrief looking very good on the other side of the field. But don’t drop him either; his talent and PPR upside deserve a few more weeks of patience.
Peyton Manning (RB, Den) – Manning was a player I advised people to avoid during the pre-season. In Week One he was sacked repeatedly, looked uncomfortable in the pocket and his arm looked shot on a number of deep throws. The Broncos’ offensive line is also brutal and Manning is a timing and rhythm passer and this offensive line gives him zero time. Hopefully HC Kubiak allows Manning to get back to what he knows best, which is working from the shotgun and running the no huddle offense. This will also open up the running game for the struggling C.J. Anderson. Whatever you do, don’t drop Manning, but be aggressive in acquiring a backup option if he falters again.
(This is where we highlight players that are looking particularly good)
Steve Johnson (WR, SD) – Johnson was in for 91% of the Chargers offensive plays and drastically outplayed the ageing Malcolm Floyd. Johnson drew rave reviews from the Charger beat writers all pre-season and he looks to be rejuvenated playing with the best quarterback of his career. He’s going to continue to be a good DFS play while his price is cheap and will be an every week WR3 in PPR leagues with upside for more. Remember, Eddie Royal averaged 7.5 TDs playing with Rivers the past two seasons, there is no reason Johnson shouldn’t eclipse that. He has a tougher matchup this week, but with Rivers hitting him on such short routes, in PPR leagues, it shouldn’t matter.
Donte Moncrief (WR, Ind) – Moncrief is a must own in all leagues. Not only did he play in all three-receiver sets, but T.Y. Hilton will most likely miss time or be limited with a knee injury and Andre Johnson struggled last week. Moncrief saw 11 targets last week and finished with a 6/46/1 line. He is a physical freak that stands 6’2” 221lbs with 4.4 jets. Greg Cosell compared him to Josh Gordon and Andre Johnson coming out of college and he just may be taking the place of the latter this season.
Ameer Abdullah (RB, Det) – Even though Bell started over him, Abdullah clearly looked like the teams lead back. He finished with 7/50/1 rushing, including a 24-yard TD on his first career carry, and added 4/44 through the air. He should flirt with RB2 numbers all season and will be a RB1 in drafts next year. He’s a great DFS play this week and should be in everyone’s lineups in season long leagues against a Viking’s defense that got shredded by Carlos Hyde on Monday night.
Carlos Hyde (RB, SF) – Congrats to everyone who drafted him, you have a beast on your hands. Start him.
Keenan Allen (WR, SD) – Reports this pre-season were nothing short of glowing on Allen, who stated that he didn’t take his second season as seriously as he should have. The hard work paid off as Allen was unstoppable going 15/166 against the Lions. I mentioned this pre-season that he has the talent to make that Antonio Brown type leap in his third year and he’s certainly making me look good. He should flirt with WR1 numbers all season long in PPR leagues and is a must start every week.
Brandon Marshall (NYJ) – After an injury riddled season last year, people have been down on Marshall, as he dropped considerably in drafts. Marshall proved that he is the same as he ever was as Ryan Fitzpatrick peppered him with targets, with Marshall going 6/62/1 against shutdown corner Joe Haden. He has another tough matchup this week against Vontae Davis, but with most of your studs, you start them no matter what.
Kendall Wright (Ten) – Wright has been hampered by poor quarterback play his whole NFL career. That is, until now. Marcus Mariota and Wright built serious chemistry this pre-season and it showed last week, as Wright posted a 4/101/1 line on just 13 routes. While Mariota will have some clunkers, Wright should flirt with WR2 numbers in PPR most of the year. Not bad for a receiver you probably drafted as your number 4 or 5.
Tyler Eifert (TE, Cin) – I singled out Eifert as my top sleeper earlier this year and mentioned that people should be aggressive in drafting him. Traditionally it takes tight ends a bit longer to develop in the NFL and splitting time with Jermaine Gresham and a slew of injures did not help. Now with Gresham gone and with Eifert fully healthy, he is the 1b to A.J. Green’s 1a in this passing game. If you happen to own Eifert and another top tight end, consider moving one of them as Eifert is here to stay and should be started in all leagues this week.
Carson Palmer (QB, Ari) – As long as Palmer stays healthy, he is going to put up great numbers in this offense. Head Coach Bruce Arians loves to push the ball down the field and the Cardinals have the weapons to do so. He’s a great DFS play this week and should be in consideration for your starting lineup every week in season long leagues.
Zach Hocker (NO) – For those that missed out on the top kickers, Hocker is probably out there. He was 4-for-4 and this offense should stall plenty in the redzone without a true number one receiver. That’s exactly what you are looking for in a kicker, especially with one that plays most of his games in a dome.
THOUGHTS FROM THE BENCH
(Here is where we highlight situations or strategies that are worth monitoring)
Leonard Hankerson (WR, ATL) - Remember that season when Julio Jones and Roddy White stayed healthy? Neither do I. When White or Jones goes down for an extended time, Hankerson will be a weekly WR2. White missed three weeks of training camp with a wrist injury and Jones has already missed practice this Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury. If you have the bench depth, grab him and hold him until that happens. It’s coming sometime this season.
Brice Butler (WR, Dal) – The Cowboys just traded for Butler who wasn’t able to get on the field in Oakland. While that is certainly concerning, Butler is big (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), fast (4.4 forty) and has shown that he can make plays down the field when given a chance. With Dez Bryant lost for at least 8 weeks, Dallas needs playmakers on the outside, and Butler certainly has a shot to make an impact. Right now he is someone to add only in deeper leagues, but keep a close eye on the practice reports.
Devin Smith (WR, NYJ) - This one is a long shot, but after breaking his ribs, Smith missed most of the pre-season and is finally healthy. Once he gets up to speed, he could do serious damage as the Jets deep threat in OC Chain Gailey's vertical offense, which is why they drafted him at number 37 overall.
Week One – Once again, don’t overreact, it’s just one week of football. While more fringe players like Charles Sims may not be that flex player you hoped they would be, players like Demarco Murray and Adrian Peterson will be fine. On the other hand, also be proactive on the waiver wire, as that is where you will truly win or lose your season. Make sure you are always looking to better your roster. And in the case of a player like C.J. Anderson, it is fine to bench him in favor of a player like Danny Woodhead if the matchup is good. Play to win, don’t just plug a player in because you drafted them ahead of another player. You got this!
Song of the Week –This week I present, The Internet, who just released their debut album Ego Death. Our very own Sig Bloom put me on to them, and I must say I’m hooked. Check out “Girl” below:
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