Monthly Archives: August 2015

Kelvin Benjamin Out For The Year

KelvinA tough blow came today as reports centered around a season ending ACL tear for Panthers star WR Kelvin Benjamin. After lighting up the league as a rookie, he’ll be sideline for the entire 2015 season, throwing further shadow across an already tough-to-gauge roster.

Cam Newton Impact: Don’t expect him to throw for 4,500 yards even with Benjamin in the line up. You can expect maybe a bit of a down turn passing yards, but he still has two towering red zone targets in Greg Olsen (6’5″) and rookie WR Devin Funchess (6’4″) so TD’s won’t be an issue.

Devin Funchess Impact: Temper your expectations! Obviously he’ll be in line to receive a bulk of the 140 targets that went to Benjamin last year, but he’s still a rookie, and he doesn’t have the pedigree of an Amari Cooper or Nelson Agholor. He’ll produce at a level acceptable of a fantasy WR3 but be mindful of over drafting just because of the injury to Benjamin.

Greg Olsen Impact: As a receiving tight end, there’s only a few more prolific in the league. This injury should make Olsen the #1 option for Cam Newton on most weeks, I’d expect a top 5 season from the big man.

Jonathan Stewart Impact: This should help Stewart early as the team may lean on the run a bit more than usual. If the usage increases for Stewart, expect injuries to follow.

Bonus Impact: For those who have Cameron Artis-Payne flagged as a late round flier, this is great news. A team that has been committed to the run for years is down it’s best receiver and will likely integrate more Artis-Payne than over using it’s aging RB1. Although Stewart still sits atop the depth chart, as a cuff, he’ll be far more productive than other backups in the league.

Keeper Strategies

A frequently asked question around Fantasy Football forums and circles is “who do I keep? Player A or Player B?” and the resulting “advice” can range between sound advice and foolhardy optimism. If you’re offering the former, then odds are you’re presenting a scenario in which the player your suggesting is going to provide better value than the player you’re putting back into the draft pool. This is a result of quality strategy; and concept I’d like to share below for those just learning.

1. Understand your leagues format:

Year in and year out it’s painfully obvious which players gloss over this important piece of information. When selecting your keepers start here. Is it a two quarterback league? full point PPR? Do you have 3 WR spots or an extra flex? All of these factors would adjust the “value scale” on a player prior to submitting keepers.

Scenario: I recently replied to a forum post where an owner couldn’t decide between Russel Wilson, Julio Jones, and DeMarco Murray. He described his league as half point PPR with two starting QB slots. Right away I’d eliminate DeMarco Murray, at his current ADP and expecting the draft to be heavily geared towards QB’s, he’ll be available in the middle rounds anyways if you’d really like to have him. This leads us to Wilson or Jones… Two things to consider; one, do you expect your fellow owners to keep QBs? And if so, do you expect the first round to feature QB’s heavily? This is important because you’re likely going to have to draft a QB in the first round if you keep Jones. My argument (and personal opinion) centers around having clear cut tiers to your positions. Wilson is securely in my 2nd tier because of his reliance on his legs and Julio Jones is securely in my top WR tier. Consider the .5 points for receptions and the fact that the 2nd tier of QB’s features far greater numbers and you have your answer: Julio Jones. It’s more likely you can replicate Wilson’s production if you miss out on him than Jones’.

2. Understand your fellow owners: 

Put yourself in your fellow owners shoes prior to making your selections; check their final rosters and determine if you think a certain position may be more (or less) scarce at the top of the pile. This will lead you to possibly keep a player with less perceived value in standard formats.

Scenario: This falls to my own experience to explain. After a successful year, I was considering who my 3rd keeper would be. I already had Le’Veon Bell and Mike Evans kept in the 6th and 8th rounds respectively… that left me with Tannehill in the 11th, Lamar Miller in the 7th, and Travis Kelce in the 21th. Our league starts two QB’s, and a look at potential keepers showed that several teams had high value QB’s in the middle to late rounds; I expected a large number of QB’s to be kept and opted for Tannehill as my 3rd. When the list of keepers was revealed, I was pleased to find that nearly every team kept a QB, further depleting a position I would need to roster 3 players at. Based purely on value, Kelce would have been my third keeper, but knowing I’d be drafting at a disadvantage for the entire draft, I kept the QB I knew I’d have to reach on early just to have.

3. Keep your eye on the future: 

Some of this advice seems fairly obvious, and this section will not be any different. When fleshing out your keepers for the following year it’s important to factor in how your league processes the keepers during the draft. Do you have a finite time on keepers? Does your pick degrade over time (10th round becomes 8th round etc, etc.)? This becomes important when considering between two players who offer similar value but age or round drafted become a mitigating factor.

Scenario: We’ve already seen this following piece of advice bear fruit. You’re deciding wether or not to keep Arian Foster (pre-injury) and have narrowed it down to him in the 5th round or Carlos Hyde in the 8th. At the time you’d be thinking “I’m a fool to pass up a first round RB in the 5th round” knowing Carlos Hyde would likely be available in the 3rd or 4th rounds of your draft; but I’d caution you to consider both the age of either player, and their ability to stay healthy. All of these scenarios require several “what if” statements but I’d argue that keeping Hyde with the potential to have a top 10-15 back in the 8th round for the next several years trumps the value of an oft-injured Arian Foster a few rounds earlier knowing he’ll eventually not be worth drafting.

4. Keeping to Create Balance: 

Although this may sound like it runs contrary to the first piece of advice, it’s important to consider balance when keeping your players. To me, this is a puzzle piece that fits tightly together bullet point 2. above. Despite how you may feel about a certain player, if you’ve narrowed it down to a few, it’s important to consider how you’ll build around your core. Does keeping three backs set you up for failure but being too unbalanced going into the draft? I’d argue it does. Ideally you’d like to keep three players who can dominate or offer top value at their positions, rather than the “bulk up on one position” strategy I’ve seen so many times.

Scenario: You’ve been lucky enough to draft several players who would be keepers on other teams but you know you’re going to have to throw a few back. You’ve got Andrew Luck and Marshawn Lynch already set aside as keepers and you have several to chose between for your final spot. You have Mike Evans in the 6th round, Latavius Murray in the 16th, and Lamar Miller in the 9th. You consider for a moment what it’d be like to pair Marshawn with another RB, it sounds like a nice advantage, but I’d argue that you’re missing the boat. Sure, RB is a shallow position, but I’d argue to keep Mike Evans would allow you to target players more liberally in the draft rather than putting yourself in a position to have to react to other players. This becomes and issue early when you have to draft a WR instead of a back that you really like because you have a spot you need to fill. Suddenly you find yourself drafting C.J. Spiller three rounds early because you missed on Carlos Hyde, and this can spiral into a middle round disaster where you draft players purely because you think you have to, rather than because you think that player is the best player available. Keeping Evans allows you to skip a WR to draft a RB or vice versa if you don’t like the players at your pick.

NFL Injury Round Up

nilespaulEvaluating injuries prior to your draft? We’ll attempt to break down how they may affect your teams and strategies.

  • Michael Floyd – WR / Arizona Cardinals (Hand) – I expect Floyd to be ready for week one, but it’s clear the door is open for John Brown to ascend to push Floyd further down on our rankings. Unless he gets meaningful preseason reps, I’d expect him to open as the WR3 in Arizona.
  • Kevin White – WR / Chicago Bears (Shin) – 6 weeks minimum is the expected time missed for the rookie as his shin injury required surgery. He could be on the shelf longer, but even when he returns it’s unlikely he’ll provide much fantasy help. Eddie Royal is looking like gold right now…
  • Darren McFadden – RB / Dallas (Hamstring) – Although it’s not nearly as severe as the other injuries on this list, the mere mention of yet another injury in the long litany of them DMC has suffered should give owners pause. Draft with extreme caution, primarily as the cuff to Joseph Randle who now owns the keys to the kingdom.
  • Joique Bell – RB / Detroit Lions (Knee) – Bell is working hard to find his way back on to the field, but it may be too little too late for the ageing veteran. Ameer Abdullah’s hype train seems unstoppable at this point, and while Bell won’t be kicked to the curb completely, it’s hard to expect him to handle a larger portion of the snaps.
  • Arian Foster – RB / Houston (Groin) – It’s looking like half the season or more after groin surgery to repair the most recent injury to Foster. I argued to look past the injury history with Foster earlier in the off season, but it’s hard to ignore the facts; Foster is an injury waiting to happen, and as such needs to be handled with kid gloves. The fear with Foster is that even when he does play it’ll be a wait and see approach if he’s even worth starting. More of a last round flier than anything else with his history.
  • Devante Parker – WR / Miami (Foot) – He showed flashes earlier in the off season and looked to fill a role on a team with several diminutive possession receivers. He should be ready for week one, but it may take him some time to get going, and Miami has a lot of mouths to feed. Be mindful he won’t be impact-full for several weeks at best to start the season.
  • Brandon LaFell – WR / New England Patriots (Foot) – What exactly does his injury report mean? Not much considering that New England is the masters at giving just enough information to seem forthcoming but really say nothing. He may be hobbled to a bit to start the season, but without Brady, his numbers should be stunted anyways.
  • CJ Spiller – RB / New Orleans Saints (Knee) – Spiller’s injury likely won’t cost him regular season playing time but it’s worth noting that Spiller has had troubles staying healthy in the past. When he’s on the field he’s electric, and his ability to play 3rd and passing downs makes him a valuable asset, but keep a close eye on his health going into your drafts, and have a backup plan for if (when) he becomes injured.
  • Zach Ertz – TE / Philadelphia Eagles (Torso) – Ertz had a relatively minor surgery on his core, so expect him to be ready for week one. Not nearly as concerning as a head, knee, or foot injury, I’d ignore this one as a real threat to his ascension into the elite ranks of  TE’s. Expect him utilized early and often in Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense.
  • Niles Paul – TE / Washington Redskins (Ankle) – At one point, the question of which Washington TE would get the bulk of looks was a real one. Now we know it won’t be Paul. The out-of-no-where contributor will be on the shelf for the 2015 season after breaking his ankle in the preseason. If Jordan Reed is healthy ( and they’re a concern there as well ) he could be worthy of a later round flier.

Too Much Buzz is Bad Buzz

It seems that every abdullahyear the giddy excitement surrounding the deeper sleepers finds its way to the mainstream news outlets and the air is slowly let out of the balloon until it’s a shriveled up prune-looking hunk of strange smelling rubber. All disappointing birthday imagery aside, it’s time we scale back expectations in the on-coming preseason buzz machine that I can hear starting up.

Below are 5 players whose Buzz may have gotten too loud. Keep in mind I like most if not all of these players, but not nearly as much as THAT guy in your draft… you know who I’m talking about.

Ameer Abdullah, RB – DET: A nice player who has a lot of upside in that Detroit offense, the overwhelming exposure in light of Joique Bell’s nagging preseason injury has become so bright he’s in danger of burning up. There is a scenario here where Abdullah pans out; but that would involve Bell being on the shelf for an extended period of time, and I’m not sure we’ve reached that point yet. Draft Abdullah with the understanding that the likely committee in Detroit will hamstring his ability to be a viable starter for much of the season but as a keeper/dynasty target will return the investment in spades down the road.

Nelson Agholor, WR – PHI: Agholor has the potential to be a top 10 WR, this much is true, but as we’ve found in the past, hitching your wagon to a rookie can be a precarious thing. At his current ADP (94) he’s an excellent value, but don’t be the guy who drafts him in the 6th round thinking you have the next Jerry Rice on your hands; keep in mind Chip Kelly will spread the ball around, and as such temper year one expectations.

CJ Spiller, RB – NO: Spiller seems to be a buzzy player nearly every off-season, and this year is no exception. The idea that the team has to replace the departing Tavares Cadet and Pierre Thomas is a sound one, but consider that they’ve shown commitment to 3rd year pro Mark Ingram and it finally paid off last year as he quietly turned in a top 15 season and you see why Spiller is more of a middle to late round handcuff in standard leagues (and slightly more valuable in PPR). If you’re looking at Spiller in the 3rd round,  and I’ve seen some mocks that reflect this, I think it’s too early for a player who has NEVER turned in a full productive season.

Martavis Bryant, WR – PIT: A huge red zone target, Bryant seemed to be flying under the radar earlier with the talk about how good Bell and Brown were in this Pittsburgh offense, but every time his name pops up on a sleeper list is bad news for those looking to snag the 8-10 TD’s he’ll bring on the cheap. Bryant is certainly a specimen, but this offense has two studs with very large expectations, and to think that Bryant will contribute significantly beyond TD’s may be a mistake in the long run. He’s a nice cuff to Brown owners and a possible semi-flyer, but his numbers don’t suggest a huge breakout in my opinion despite what the pundits would have you think.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB – MIN: At a position with very few Elite options, fantasy owners are constantly on the look out for players poised to break out, and Bridgewater seems to be the name of the day. While he’s certainly poised to improve on an impressive start to his NFL career, to expect him to provide fantasy starter level production might be a reach. Sure, the chance exists that he blows up to the tune of 4,000 yards and 28-30 TD’s but he should be drafted with an eye to the future, not necessarily as the guy for the present. A fine player, Teddy will likely be drafted too early thanks to the buzz.

Arian Foster Injury Fallout

fosterThe first big (and somewhat predictable) name to appear in headlines for long-term injury concerns is Houston Texans star running back Arian Foster. Suffering a hamstring injury on Monday, new reports make it clear he’ll likely opt for surgery putting his return somewhere around week 6 to 8. The obvious fall out for this revolves around the already spotty depth at the running back position.

At this point, the only back on the roster worth considering as a fantasy option is Alfred Blue, but despite solid numbers overall, his performance from week to week was wildly inconsistent. If the season started expect numbers similar to that of a low-end RB3 or flex starter.

An interesting tidbit to watch here is that Pierre Thomas was invited to visit the Texans as a potential short-term replacement for Foster. A team that relies heavily on the RB in the passing game, Thomas’ skill set fits the teams needs to a “t” and if he’s ready to go, provides a better short-term option both for the Texans and for fantasy owners.

Now, keep in mind that Foster has had these types of injuries in the past, and despite his age and mileage, continues to prove us all wrong, so a flier type pick on him to stash on IR (if your league allows it) isn’t an awful idea if he returns healthy for the second half of the season.

As always keep a close eye on the situation; the silver lining here is that it is early enough in training camps that you can adjust your draft strategy accordingly.

Turnover on Downs – 4 Players Who’s Value is Falling

Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Terrance West (28) runs the ball against Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen (28) during the second half at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won the game, 30-27.

Every day more news trickles in from training camps around the league and with it come the whispers of change as position battles rage and our preconceived notion of how things will shake out, get shaken up. Below are 4 early contenders to see their value plummet as the find themselves in the midst of the bad buzz machine that so often derails our fantasy preparations. (this is in no way ranked in order of importance.)

Terrance West – RB / Cleveland Browns – The second head in the two-headed monster in Cleveland last year has seen his stock take a hit with the continued surge of Isaiah Crowell as the lead back and the addition of third down specialist Duke Johnson. Word out of Browns camp is that West isn’t even safe in terms of making the 53 man roster. While I may not be ready to right the eulogy on his career in Cleveland, it’s a safe bet that West sees very little meaningful time on the field barring a catastrophic injury ahead of him.

Charles Clay – TE / Buffalo Bills – Any move that sees you go to a team like Buffalo has to make one pause when considering a players fantasy viability, but we all pointed to the freakish athleticism and the ability to be an impact player on a team that desperately needed one in the middle of the field as reasons why we considered Clay an obvious sleeper. Now, a full week into training camp, reports have Clay being targeted by Bills QBs a whopping 0 times. That’s right, you can’t divide by the number of time’s he’s been thrown at because it isn’t even a number. We’re a ways off from actual NFL games, and this could turn around for the gifted TE, but it’s a bad sign when a bad offense isn’t even TRYING to get you involved.

Darren McFadden – RB / Dallas Cowboys – Once upon a time McFadden was expected to blossom into an elite NFL runner. Then the injury history we all conveniently ignored became the present… and then the future. Now he’s becoming a frequent footnote in fantasy circles as well. What began as an off season filled with cautious optimism (for no reason other than we wanted to be right eventually) has turned into what we always knew it would be; another injury riddled campaign for the much maligned running back. A pulled hamstring is not the end of the world, but it is an other entry in the long list of obstacles that McFadden has to overcome to gain the starting gig… not least of which is that Joseph Randle now holds the keys to the castle. Steer clear of McFadden until the picks don’t matter; that way you won’t mind dumping him when he finds his way to the IR.

Marquise Lee – WR / Jacksonville Jaguars – A second round pick last year, Lee came into the league lauded as one of the top WR options in the draft; expectations where he’d immediately make an impact in the absence of suspended #1 Justin Blackmon. Inconsistency and injury derailed the promising players rookie year, and as we begin camps, it appears as though Lee is the odd man out with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns playing their ways into starting roles, and several touches being siphoned by new RB TJ Yeldon and free agent TE Juluis Thomas. Lee is very low on my list of maybe-sleepers.

Honorable Mentions: Bishop Sankey – There’s been very little good news this off season for the first RB selected in last years draft. He has stiff competition in the form of rookie arrival David Cobb. Trent Richardson – Early reports had him cutting weight, now they have him on the outside of the bubble as Murray and Helu (on third downs) look to lock up the backfield. Joique Bell – This one has been beat to death so much that Bell seems to fallen out of favor with both fans and pundits as Ameer Abdullah continues to carry the torch as Bell returns from an injury. Unless he falls in drafts, his value is taking a major hit.