The Docket: Week 8

Overview of current rule and policy issues effecting players as well as crucial player strategy and tips for Week 8. 

Welcome to Week 8 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.

CASE PENDING

This is where we look at select players who are on the verge of an upgrade or downgrade.

T.J. Yeldon (Jac, RB) – Yeldon keeps chugging away and is improving every week, finishing this past week with a line of 20/115/1 rushing, 1/9 receiving and playing 85% of the snaps. His day could have been even better if the Jaguars didn’t give Toby Gerhart four straight carries at the goal line. HC Gus Bradley has hinted this week that Yeldon has earned the right to get goal line carries, so Yeldon’s value should be even better going forward. Yeldon reminds me of Le'Veon Bell in his rookie season and I wouldn’t be shocked if he starts entering the RB1 discussion as the season wears on.

Matthew Stafford (Det, QB) – After a brutal schedule to open the season, playing on the road in San Diego, Minnesota and Seattle, and then very tough home games against Denver and Arizona, Stafford has righted the ship the past two weeks at home against the Bears and Vikings. He should be owned in all leagues at this point and has a favorable upcoming schedule: @KC, @GB, vs Oak, vs Phi, vs GB, @StL, @NO, vs SF. Also working in Stafford’s favor is that OC Joe Lombardi was replaced this week by QB coach Jim Bob Cooter who has a great relationship with Stafford. The Lions have run pass plays on over 70% of their snaps and per Rich Hribar (Rotoworld) the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed the most receivers to reach 80 yards receiving in the league (11) and the most to reach 100 yards (five) on the season. Expect this offense to open up even more and for Stafford to move solidly back into the Top 12.

Steve Johnson (WR, SD) – Johnson is probably sitting on a lot of waiver wires after he played hurt Week 4 and missed Weeks 5 and 6. He didn’t exactly light it up last week in his first game back and had a few drops and didn’t fully seem on the same page with Phillip Rivers on a number of plays. But 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. With Antonio Gates set to miss a good number of weeks, the middle of the field is open for business once again and remember, Eddie Royal averaged 7.5 TDs playing with Rivers in the slot the past two seasons, so there is no reason Johnson can’t reach and eclipse that mark. He’s no sure thing, but he’s worth a shot in this offense that has run pas plays on over 65% of their snaps and Rivers who has thrown for more than 300 yards four games in a row now.

Khiry Robinson (NO, RB) – Robinson is sitting on most waiver wires with a mere 8% ownership in ESPN leagues. Despite all of Mark Ingram II’s success Robinson is currently a Top 30 RB and continues to produce as more than just a Mark Ingram II handcuff. While he isn’t gaining big yards, they love him in the red-zone, evidenced by his 2 touchdowns last week. While you don’t want to currently use him as anything more than a bye or deep league flex in standard leagues, if Mark Ingram II went down, he would be an every week RB2 with upside for more.

Orleans Darkwa (NYG, RB) – The Giants are currently going with the everyone approach, meaning they are using every one of their running backs. Last week Darkwa played on 26% of their plays and looked like he had more juice to him than Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. This should come as no surprise since this UDFA stands 5-11 212lbs and ran a 4.46 forty coming out of college where he set a Tulane record, rushing for 39 touchdowns. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Giants are ready to commit to him or any of their other backs. If you have the bench spot, he’s worth a stash, but he’s not someone to go overboard on just yet.

Zach Ertz (Phi, TE) – A breakout appears to be coming soon for Ertz as the stars are starting to align. He is currently playing on 70% of the teams plays on the season and played on 90% of the snaps this past week, getting 8 targets for 5/63. With Jordan Matthews struggling badly out of the slot, the team should be featuring Ertz down the seam more and more.

Danny Amendola (NE, WR) – With Darrelle Revis shadowing Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell dealing with a case of first game bobbles, Amendola was Tom Brady’s go to receiver last week, putting up 8/86/1 on 9 targets. That now makes two good games in a row for Amendola who has 15/191/1 in the last two weeks. While this could be a sign of great things to come, LaFell should be much better going forward, Revis won’t be covering Edelman every week and Dion Lewis should be back in the lineup soon. So while Amendola may be useful this week, you might want to sell high once he returns to number 4 or 5 in the pecking order.

Eddie Royal (Chi, WR) – Royal has battled injuries all season long and is probably sitting on your waiver wire right now. If you are desperate for help in PPR leagues, you might want to pick him up as he finally is healthy and Jay Cutler is playing really well. The return of Alshon Jeffery should also help free up coverage. Royal is a sneaky pickup off the waiver wire for those in need of help.

Eddie Lacy (RB, GB) – Things aren’t looking good for Lacy right now. After riding the pine for most of last game, Lacy faces Denver this week and Carolina next week. L life isn’t going to be getting much easier in the near future. While Starks is currently looking like the better back, he is ideally their number two. Remember, after a very slow start to last season, Lacy was the number two running back in all of fantasy football from Week 8 on, averaging 21 points per game in PPR leagues. While you are going to have to suffer a little while longer, don’t sell too low on him as he gets a pretty easy schedule after those two games: vs Lions, @Vikings, vs. Bears, @Lions, vs Cowboys, @Raiders.

Brandin Cooks (WR, NO) – Cooks has disappointed so far but things are starting to get better for him. He had a season high 28.9 percent of the team targets last week and Drew Brees has been looking healthier. Cooks received 13 targets last week, finishing with 6/81, while Willie Snead IV has fallen off a bit. The Saints also have a great schedule coming up: vs. NYG, vs. Ten, @Was, @Hou, vs. Car, @TB, vs. Det, vs. Jac. In PPR leagues, he should be a reliable if somewhat limited WR2 going forward.

Darren McFadden (RB, Dal) – Call me a cynic, but I don’t think this will last. With Joseph Randle seemingly out for at least a few weeks, McFadden dominated snaps, rushing 29 times for 152 yards and a touchdown behind a Dallas offensive line that opens up big enough holes for me to run through untouched. That said, McFadden does look pretty solid, but he is incapable of staying healthy. The savvy owner would be selling high while you can, especially with the Seahawks on deck.

CASE DISMISSED

This is where we highlight players that are looking particularly good.

Eric Ebron (Det, TE) – It often takes tight ends at least a year to adjust to life in the NFL and things seem to be finally clicking for Ebron in year two. This past week he caught all five of his targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. He has big time play ability and looks like the number two receiver in this pass happy offense. If he’s out there, scoop him up and he’s a great player to trade for in dynasty leagues.

Blair Walsh (Min, K) – While I don’t usually feature kickers here, Walsh went 5 for 5 in Week 7 and now has 10 field goals in the past three games. If you are need of a kicker, he’s probably one of the guys sitting on the waiver wire.

Stefon Diggs (Min, WR) – He should already be gone in all leagues, but if not, make sure you grab him. Per PFF, Diggs leads the NFL in yards per route run at 3.27. That's .26 higher than the next closest player, Antonio Brown. He’s a stud and should be owned and started. That is all.

2-2-1 Strategy – I mentioned my 2-2-1 Running Back Strategy a few time here. After the bye weeks, it's smart to handcuff your studs if there is a quality and clear handcuff behind them. I'd rather have Ahmad Bradshaw to backup Frank Gore than rostering Ameer Abdullah. Read more about it here: http://subscribers.footballguys.com/apps/article.php?article=ingel15_221_strategy

DFS – PLAYS OF THE WEEK

QUARTERBACKS

  • Andy Dalton (Should throw for at least 2 TD this week)
  • Philip Rivers (All they do is throw and the Ravens can be thrown on)
  • Carson Palmer (No signs of slowing down and the Browns aren’t going to over much resistance)
  • Cam Newton (At home on Monday night against a weak Colts defense. It’s Cam time)
  • Drew Brees (His price is down and high over under)

RUNNING BACKS

WIDE RECEIVERS

TIGHT ENDS

  • Tyler Eifert (See the trend here? Start a Bengal or two. The Steelers are having problems with the TE)
  • Greg Olsen (Colts giving up big numbers to the TE as well)
  • Ladarius Green (Ravens not horrible against the TE, but with Gates out he should be heavily involved)
  • Larry Donnell (If you go cheap, the Saints give up points to Tight Ends)

KICKERS

DEFENSES

  • Rams (Will be in every one of my lineups)
  • Jets
  • Cardinals
  • Falcons

SONG OF THE WEEK

This week I present alt-J who released one of the better albums of last year. Check out Hunger of the Pine below:


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