Welcome to Week 7 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 look at select players who are on the verge of an upgrade or downgrade.
Dion Lewis/LeGarrette Blount & Mike Evans/Vincent Jackson – All these guys have potential to have big weeks, but due to their respective offenses, they sometimes come up short making them tough to truly trust on a week-to-week basis. The good news is that we are starting to gain some clarity on when those weeks will be. This past weekend Lewis handled the majority of the snaps in the Patriots’ backfield (57% to Blount’s 42%), but he only received 7 total touches for a measly 39 yards. Lewis should be in your lineup every week, but when playing against easy teams to run on, such as the Colts, it is going to be more of a Blount game. Against the Jets stout run defense this is a week, I would roll with Lewis and fade Blount.
The same is true for Evans and Jackson. When Tampa is playing tougher teams, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are going to be heavily involved as Winston throws more. In easy games, it’s going to be all about limiting Winston and relying on the run game. In Week 5, Tampa steamed rolled a weak Jacksonville defense, limiting Jackson and Evans big time. This week Tampa plays Washington who is pretty good against the run but bad against the pass. I would feel confident rolling with both Jackson and Evans this week. But you are going to have to play the matchup going forward.
Brandon LaFell (NE, RB) – LaFell returned to practice this week and despite all their early success, the Patriots are getting very little production on the outside. The past few weeks Keshawn Martin has been starting on the outside but hasn’t really been stepping up. Last year LaFell played as a Top 25 wide receiver after finally becoming a full time player after Week 4, finishing the season with a line of 74/953/7. He may need one more week to get fully up to speed, but when he does, he should hold high-end WR3 with weekly upside for more.
Clive Walford (TE, Oak) - Rookie tight ends often take some time to adjust to the NFL game, but Walford’s snap count has been steadily rising after he missed almost all of Training Camp. Walford is a former basketball standout who stands 6’4” 251lbs and runs good routes, fights for the ball and can also block, which is crucial for any tight end to get on the field. While is it never a given for any rookie tight end to produce in a meaningful way, with only Mychal Rivera standing in his way, the opportunity is there for him to do just that.
Browns Running Backs (Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson Jr, Robert Turbin) – In theory Crowell and Johnson are far superior talents to Turbin, but Turbin can do everything well, even though he does nothing really great. Last week Turbin saw 10 carries (including a few in over time), Crowell had 11 and Johnson had 9, so this is an even time share in the purest sense, and it doesn’t look to change any time soon. Essentially none of these guys are worth starting outside of Duke Johnson Jr as flex start in PPR leagues and Crowell as a flex start in standard leagues. And even then, it is a total crapshoot. Your best move is to try and package these guys in trades with other players and move on from this quagmire. I will say this, if I was to bet on any of these guys truly emerging this year, it would be Johnson.
THOUGHTS FROM THE BENCH
Here is where we highlight situations or strategies that are worth monitoring.
Upside Stashes – At this point in the season a true difference maker off the waiver wire is hard to find; that guy that can help you win your season, like C.J. Anderson did for people last year. For those that have heeded my multiple urgings to grab Christine Michael, we are about to see how one of those upside stashes does this week. Here is a list of some other upside stashes that are worth picking up if you have the roster space, and if you don’t have the space, I urge you to really consider keeping a guy that you currently own that is not getting it done and replacing them with one of these guys:
- Dorial Green-Beckham: Still a bit raw after missing last year in college, but if things start to click, he could have a Kelvin Benjamin type rookie season. His snap count is way up and they need his big play ability. His time is coming, whether it be this year or next.
- Stevan Ridley: He finally returned to practice after suffering a knee injury last year. Chris Ivory has rarely been able to stay healthy, and if he goes down, Ridley would immediately be the solid RB2 that Ivory is now.
- David Johnson: Right now the Cardinals’ backfield is a three-headed monster, but if Ellington or Chris Johnson go down, David Johnson could make a huge impact. We’ve already seen what he can do in the open field and he’s starting to get the goal line carries as well.
- Tevin Coleman: Devonta Freeman has emerged as an elite RB1 and a weekly must start in all formats. But keep in mind; until Coleman went out with an injury in Week 2, he was picked to be the starting back over Freeman. This past week he rushed 4 times for 40 yards and showed serious burst as he ripped off runs of 17 and 18 yards on two of his caries. Freeman is also tinny, standing 5’8” 206 lbs, so it is no given that he can withstand the pounding for a full season.
Top Tier Defenses – In such a volatile season with the top running backs and receivers, acquiring one of the top fantasy defenses could prove to be a great way to make up some points on a weekly basis. Right now the Broncos, Jets, Panthers, Seahawks, Bills and Cardinals are getting it done in a big way. I’d trade C.J. Anderson for one of them in a heartbeat.
DFS – PLAYS OF THE WEEK
Avoiding some of the obvious choices (Le'Veon Bell, etc …), here are some DFS players that I like more than usual this week:
- Carson Palmer (Start all your Cardinals at home against a reeling Ravens)
- Philip Rivers (They can’t run, so they just keep throwing. Offensive line getting healthier and Stevie Johnson set to return).
- Cam Newton (No reason not to trust him)
- Zach Mettenberger (Sleeper of the week. Greg Cosell and Jaws love his ability)
- Andrew Luck (Should be a big game against the Saints at home)
- Drew Brees (Should be a big game against the Colts indoors)
- Todd Gurley (You have to use him. Even if he is 99% owned, you don’t want to be part of the 1%)
- Adrian Peterson (Could run for 200 yards)
- Keenan Allen (Target monster. Antonio Brown type breakout continues)
- Devonta Freeman (Can’t think of a reason not to use him)
- Lamar Miller (He’s a Top 10 RB every week now that they fired their head coach.
- LeSean McCoy (I have not recommended playing him this whole season, but this week seems like the right time against the Jaguars and with the Bills wide receivers all injured)
- Frank Gore (High scoring matchup against weak run defense)
- Mark Ingram II (High scoring matchup against weak run defense)
- Roy Helu (Great tourney play, as he saw 39% of the snaps in their last game)
- Charles Sims (No money left? He should get you at least 10 points)
- Julio Jones (He gets back to business this week)
- Larry Fitzgerald (As I mentioned before, all Cardinals are worth a start)
- John Brown
- Michael Floyd
- Donte Moncrief (Luck loves throwing him touchdowns and this should be a high scoring game)
- Martavis Bryant (Call me a chasing fool, but I think something special is happening here)
- Michael Crabtree (With injuries to the Chargers secondary, Crabtree should be the main beneficiary)
- Brandon Marshall (Patriots are weakest on the backend and the Jets may need to throw a ton to keep up)
- Willie Snead IV (High over under and this could be a shoot out. Sadly he has surpassed Cooks in the pecking order)
- Vincent Jackson (This is a Tampa wide receiver game)
- Mike Evans
- Pierre Garcon (Should see an insane number of targets)
- Dorial Green-Beckham (stack of the week with Mettenberger in big tournament plays)
- Antonio Gates or Ladarius Green (If Gates can't go, then you go with Green who is plug and play against an Oakland defense that loves giving up points to the tight end)
- Jordan Reed (Should resume his normal workload and get it done with Desean Jackson still out)
- Travis Kelce (With Maclin hurt, there is literally nobody left to throw to. Good matchup too)
- Charles Clay (There is literally nobody left to throw to. Good matchup too)
- Julius Thomas (While everyone else is covered, he'll get the ball)
- Rams (Top defense of the week, playing at home against the Browns)
- Dolphins (Home against a weak Texans offense)
- Redskins (Home against a weak Tampa offense)
- Cardinals (They should destroy the Ravens on both sides of the ball at home)
- Kai Forbath (Big over/under indoors against the Colts)
- Adam Vinatieri (Big over/under indoors against the Saints)
- Josh Lambo (Decent over/under at home and he’s getting it done lately)
- Chandler Catanzaro (Huge favorites at home against weak Ravens defense)
- Nick Folk (I have a feeling this game could produce a ton of field goals, just a hunch)
SONG OF THE WEEK
This week I present British Hip-Hop artist Roots Manuva who has a new album coming out next week. Check out his monstrous Witness (1 Hope) below:
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