Posts Tagged ‘busts’

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Week 3 Sleepers and Busts

September 21, 2014

Quarterbacks

Sleeper: Kirk Cousins, Washington

Before I get anyone’s hopes up, let me throw this disclaimer out there: this is a purely matchup-based play. Don’t read into this thinking Cousins is suddenly the savior of your season. Last year, he started weeks 14, 15, and 16. He had great outing against the Falcons pathetic secondary. Then he played the Giants and Cowboys and promptly threw for 366 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions in those two games combined.[1] Not exactly what you want from your starting quarterback.

Still, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Cousins’s chances this week. The Eagles so far have given up 17 points to Chad Henne[2] and 21 points to Andrew Luck so far this year. Both quarterbacks threw for multiple touchdowns and Luck only needed

Cousins put up 17 in the blowout win against the Jaguars in Week 2 and it’s difficult to see him throwing for anything less than that against the Eagles in a game that will likely end up being a shootout. If Washington was willing to throw 36 times in a blowout of the Jaguars, throwing 40 against the Eagles is a virtual certainty. Despite being a small sample size, Cousins averaged 7.6 yards per attempt last week. Using those numbers, that puts Cousins right at 300 yards and you can reasonably expect 2 touchdowns. In standard scoring leagues, that’s 20 points and I’m happy with that any day.

The final reason I’m willing to trust Cousins is because I’m willing to trust DeSean Jackson. If Jackson plays, which he has said he will, he is the type of player who you can expect to have a big day just to show up the team that told him they didn’t need him.[3] With that kind of receiver to rely upon, not to mention fellow receiver Pierre Garçon and tight end Niles Paul, who has put up nice numbers in Jordan Reed’s absence, it’s hard not to like Cousins this week against the porous Eagles’ secondary. [4]

 

Bust: Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Despite his reputation, Tony Romo has been a solid weekly fantasy play for several years. Sure, he has up and down games, but everyone does. However, there are reasons to be concerned this week. Last week, he managed a meager 176 passing yards with one touchdown on 29 passing attempts[5]. The Cowboy offense appeared to have no intention of throwing the ball to anyone but, in an effort to appease Dez Bryant, threw to him 14 times in those 29 attempts. [6]

Speculation has arisen that the Cowboys new offensive coordinator and the mastermind behind the Bush/Bell backfield duo in Detroit, would push for more of a two running back offense. Last week’s game against the Titans seemed to put the idea of Murray losing touches to capable backup Lance Dunbar to bed. However, it’s not unfathomable that Dunbar get his touches, but that they are taken out of Romo’s throws. With Romo coming off back surgery in the off-season, it would make sense if the Cowboys stressed the running game more than ever this year in an effort to keep him healthy, especially with the likes of Brandon Weeden as his backup.

What we saw from Romo in Week 2 might end up being closer to his true value than being an outlier. St. Louis, though squeaking out a win against Tampa Bay on Sunday, remains pathetic and the Cowboys will likely control the game from start to finish, meaning a lot of time killing run plays.

Expect Romo to throw the ball between 30-35 times on Sunday. At his current rate of 7 yards per attempt, That puts him in the 230 yard range. 4 With the stress the Cowboys put on the ground game last week, I wouldn’t make a bet on Romo throwing for multiple touchdowns. You’re looking at around 15 points from Romo if he avoids interceptions. Bench Romo and play someone with higher upside.

 

 

Running Backs

Sleeper: Shane Vereen, New England

I was among those who started Vereen last week only to watch Stevan Ridely inexplicably garner 22 carries for 100+ yards while Vereen was relegated to 6 carries for 40 yards and no receptions on just two targets. But, if you’re doing the math, Vereen averaged 6.67 yards per carry in that game. In the previous game, he averaged 5.14 yards per carry which puts him at 5.8 yards per carry in this two game season. Compare that to Demarco Murray who is currently averaging 5.6, albeit on about 4x the number of carries. As I’ve been stressing throughout every sleeper/bust post “small sample size” is a thing, but Vereen has shown his ability to continue that sort of production on the ground, and that’s saying nothing of his prowess in the passing game, which is where he scores the majority of his points.

Ridley is one fumble away from being benched (there was even talk that he wouldn’t make it out of training camp) and Vereen is making the most of every opportunity he gets. The only problem is that we don’t know when those opportunities will come.
The Raiders are allowing almost 29 points to opposing running backs, which suggests good things for New England’s backfield.

I like Vereen as a flex play again this week. I don’t think he’s going to putt up massive numbers while splitting carries with Ridley, but low to mid-teens isn’t farfetched.

 

Bust: Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles

Darren Sproles has two rushing touchdowns this season. His career best is three back in 2009. Over the last three years, Sproles yards per rush steadily and rapidly dropped from 6.9 to 5.1 to 4.2. This season, he’s averaging 6.5 yards per carry. In his previous nine seasons, his longest run was 47 yards. He’s already had a run of 49 yards this season and with that one run, he has 48 yards on 14 attempts, or 3.43 yards per carry, right in line with that previously mentioned steady decline. Likewise, 57 yards receptions aren’t to be expected every day from anyone, let alone a 31-year old back up. Again, take out the one big play blinding us all and he has 95 receiving yards on 11 receptions, or just less than 9 yards per reception. At his current average of 7 receptions per game, that’s around 50 yards per game. Add in 7 carries at 3.43 and he’s got 24 rush yards to go with those 40 receiving yards. That’s 74 yards per game for Sproles. If you want to throw in his current average of a touchdown per game, he’s got 13 points for you. However, I don’t like praying for touchdowns and would rather have the yards. 74 yard isn’t getting it done for me.
As a rule of thumb, players get worse with age, not better. Don’t expect Sproles to break that norm, especially running behind LeSean McCoy. He’s had uncharacteristic success so far this season, but remember that it’s a small sample size and temper expectations for the rest of the season and against Washington, who surrendering only 6.65 points to opposing running backs (one of whom was Arian Foster). If you’re just desperate for your flex spot, you can play Sproles as a flex, but I’ve seen people so gung ho on Sproles that they are calling him a reliable RB2. That is way too much hope and, while he could put up those numbers, it won’t be on a weekly basis from here on out.

 

Wide Receiver

Sleeper Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams

Hear me out before you pass judgment. Quick has posted consecutive weeks of 70+ yards, 74 in Week 1 and 99 in Week 2. The Rams play the Cowboys on Sunday, which means they will likely have to throw the ball often if they want to stay in the game. Quick has been the best player on offense for the Rams (not saying much), but if he can throw a touchdown onto that 70 yards, now you’re looking at 13 points, which isn’t bad for a player who can claim off the waiver wire.

The Cowboys are only allowing 12 points per game to opposing wide receivers, but the two teams in question, the 49ers and the Titans, only targeted receivers 34 times for 19 receptions. On those 19 receptions, the receivers are averaging 12.5 yards a catch. Quick has seven receptions in the first two games of the season. Do some math and if he can put up 7 catches against the Cowboys secondary and he’s looking at around 90 yards. Personally, I would rather bank on yards than touchdowns. If I think I can get 9 points out of a player just in yards, touchdowns are gravy.
If you’re in dire straights, give Quick a look.

 

Bust: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

I’m going bold with this one.
Apparently, Peyton Manning prefers the Julius version of Thomas to the point that Demaryius is left out to dry. In two games, Thomas has only 110 yards and a touchdown totaling 17 points.

Now Thomas has to go into Seattle and play the same Seahawks that pounded them in the Super Bowl. In that game, Thomas managed 13 reception on 118 targets and a touchdown, but most of that game in garbage time (yes, the third quarter was garbage time in that game). The way the Seahawks are playing their defense this year is to leave Richard Sherman alone on the left side of the field and let Earl Thomas cover over top on the other side (generally speaking, of course). If the Broncos lineup Demaryius on the right, he deals with Sherman. If the Broncos line him up on the right, he deals with Byron Maxwell and Earl Thomas. Neither situation is particularly beneficial to Thomas.

Given his level of production so far this year and the match up he faces this week, I’d strongly consider benching him or at least relegating him to low-end WR2 status for the week; he could put up decent numbers for you, but it is far from a sure thing. Personally, I’m taking the guy who I know can get me 13-15 points than Thomas this week. [7]

 

Tight Ends

 Sleeper Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Delanie Walker was my stream last week. Kelce was and still is my breakthrough player of the year for fantasy tight ends. He tallied 81 yards last week, which is not too shabby for a tight end. I would have liked to see him reach the endzone as well, but what are you going to do? This week, most of the teams giving up the most points to tight ends are playing tight ends that are already owned. Travis Kelce is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL and could be a god-send for the Chiefs, who are completely devoid of a downfield threat. We saw proof that he can provide big plays on the regular during the preseason and I see him being a semi-reliable tight end going forward. In Andy Reid’s offense, the ball will be thrown and someone has to be on the other end of those passes, right? We know what Donnie Avery and Dwayne Bowe are all about. Maybe Kelce is the next big tight end name. Even if he’s not, he’s a decent play against the Dolphins who have given up 8 points a game to tight ends so far this season, which includes against a hurt Gronkowski and Scott Chandler. If those two can put up 8 points, Kelce has all the opportunity and chances to do the same.

 

Bust Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens

I’ll be brief. Dennis Pitta his horrible when he’s not playing at home. Over the course of his career, he has averaged 24 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on the road. For you, that means he averages 4.4 points on the road. He’s average 5.6 points in the first two games this season. The Browns allowed 24 points to Jimmy Graham last week, but Pitta’s ability and situation fall closer to Heath Miller’s, who 2.6 points in week one against the Browns. Pitta certainly needs to remain on your bench this week.

 

Defenses

Sleeper: Indianapolis Colts

Jackonville started the season off with a bang with 202 yards on their first seven drives. Then they had a field goal blocked and promptly returned to mid-season Jacksonville form. Since those first seven drives, the Jaguars have only posted 272 yards and 10 points in their next 23 drives. The Colts defense has had the unfortunate pleasure of playing two of the top NFL offenses back to back in the Broncos and the Eagles. I can only imagine playing the Jaguars will feel like a bye week after that. If you want a safe play, look no further than the Colts.[8]

 

Bust: Buffalo Bills

The Bills have looked surprisingly good in their first two games, downing the Bears and the Dolphins. But now they’re going against Phillip Rivers and the Chargers who put up 30 on the highly touted Seattle defense last week. On top of that, Rivers has a history of success against the Bills. The last time he faced them, back in 2011, he completed 24 of 33 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-10 beat down. There are probably surer plays out there, like the aforementioned Colts.

 

Kickers

Sleepers: Cody Parkey, Philadelphia Eagles

Somehow still available in the majority of leagues, Cody Parkey has back-to-back games of 12 points which puts him right behind Dan Carpenter as the most points among kickers over the fist two weeks. Parkey is in one of the best offenses in the NFL and, like Gostkowski and Prater before him, if you’re a kicker in a good offense, you will likely enjoy fantasy success. Parkey is no different and he has already demonstrated he can hit from 50 yards, doing it twice in the final preseason game and once already this short season. The Washington defense hasn’t been truly tested yet this year and the Eagles should put up points against them, which includes multiple opportunities for Parkey.

 

Busts: Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills

I’m not buying into it yet. The Bills are outplaying themselves which means Carpenter is getting more opportunities than he likely should. 15 points a game is outstanding for a kicker and there is no way he continues that. I’ve seen people drop Matt Bryant and Justin Tucker for Carpenter. Mistake. Bryant kicks in a dome 9 times a season and Tucker might be the best kicker in the NFL, the rest of his team not withstanding. Carpenter plays in Buffalo and, as a great lord once said, “Winter is coming.” While it isn’t here yet, the Bills still do have to play through the Chargers, who had the longest time of possession last season and look like they are on their way to that again after beating the Seahawks at their own possession game. The Chargers defense is better than most people believe. Combine those two facts and you’ve got minimal chances for Carpenter and the Bills offense. I don’t like him this week.

[1] http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/CousKi00/gamelog/2013/

[2] http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HennCh01/gamelog/2014/

[3] http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/videos/videos/Why-Did-The-Eagles-Release-DeSean-Jackson/dee10e76-4c5c-4984-a6f6-22ea4b87ca79

[4] http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/4659/desean-jackson

[5] http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RomoTo00.htm

[6] http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BryaDe01.htm

[7] http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/T/ThomDe03.htm

[8] http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201409140was.htm

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