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A workhorse running back was born, one defense showed that they are the giver of fantasy football life, and another showed it is not to be messed with.
Giants running back Andre Brown, passing the finished David Wilson like two ships passing in the night, reclaimed his spot atop New York’s running back depth chart for the first time since his impressive — but short — stretch of play in the first half of 2012.
The myth of Peyton Hillis as a reliable fantasy option was (mercifully) dashed with an early fumble and Brown’s subsequent slow but steady churning out of 115 yards on 30 carries, including one score. Giants’ coaches had said Brown would be limited to 12 touches. He surpassed that total in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against Oakland.
Brown, behind an offensive line that has vastly improved since September and in an offense hoping to mitigate the horrendous play of its slump-shouldered quarterback, could be one of fantasy’s safest running back bets over the season’s final six weeks. Injuries loom large with Brown — whose injury history reads like a dictionary — but he should be the No. 1 waiver wire target in every format.
Perhaps the best news for Brown: he doesn’t face a single daunting defense for the remainder of 2013. I don’t think it’s too much to say Brown is a locked-in top-12 option for as long as he’s upright and standing.
Process over Results
If I told you to confidently plug and play a running back whose snap count had recently dipped into the mid-teens, would you have done it? Would you have avoided a mid-tier defense playing at home against a hapless backup quarterback and a moribund offense?
I think we both know the answers to those queries. You wouldn’t have deployed the running back unless dreaded bye weeks forced your hand, and you would’ve happily used the defense in your Week 10 matchups. Yet, Darren Sproles — the runner in question — went berserk against the Cowboys and the Colts’ defense was made to look foolish by Kellen Clemens and the sprite Tavon Austin.
It’s critically important to remember that those who sat Sproles for a better, safer, more reliable option didn’t make the wrong call. And owners who deployed Indy’s defense against St. Louis made a sound decision. The available information told us that these were the correct plays. An unpleasant result doesn’t make those calls any less correct.
Just like a blackjack player holding on 15 when the dealer is showing a five, the right decisions aren’t always the winning decisions. Keep making statistically sound choices, week in and week out, and you’ll win much more than you’ll lose.
Process over results, forever and ever. Amen.
- C.J. Spiller was back to his old self, right? His ankle-shattering ways seemed to be coming back into form last week at Kansas City, and with another week to heal that long-injured ankle, Spiller was primed for lead back duties against a leaky Steelers’ defense. Alas, Spiller played all of 22 snaps against Pittsburgh to Fred Jackson’s 44. Most of his eight running attempts did not get him out in space like Buffalo coaches have preached in recent weeks. It’s not time to lose hope in Spiller as a viable fantasy option, but he’s looking more and more like a boom-bust candidate who won’t see anything close to 20 touches until and unless Jackson goes down.
- I don’t think it’s fair to call Alshon Jeffery the Bears’ No. 2 receiver. The big man is more like No. 1B to Brandon Marshall’s No. 1A. Jeffery saw 18 targets from Jay Cutler yesterday, leaving him just a dozen targets short of Marshall on the season. Jeffery is now fantasy football’s 10th highest scoring wide receiver. Probably that’s breaking news for Jeffery owners who have left him on their benches during his recent tear. Jeffery is averaging six receptions for 87.3 yards over his past six games. I have no doubt that he’ll continue making minced meat out of single coverage for the remainder of the season, a formula for a high fantasy ceiling in Marc Trestman’s offense from fantasy heaven.
- The Cowboys’ defense is an abomination without linebacker Sean Lee at the helm. Lee left last night’s game in New Orleans with what is suspected to be a serious hamstring injury. A prolonged absence for Lee would make Dallas’s defense one of the most exploitable units in the NFL, though not every team will be able to dismember them like the Saints did from start to finish. A Dallas defensive collapse could also be welcomed news for the fantasy prospects of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and DeMarco Murray, as the offense will be forced to match the flood of points being dumped on their defenders.
- Avoid the following: spitting into the wind, tugging on Superman’s cape, and rolling out (most) of your fantasy options against Carolina’s defense. The Panthers, sporting their top-three pass defense, held Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ passing game to less than 100 yards yesterday. That’s no an aberration. Carolina is allowing a microscopic 16.6 schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to wide receivers, according to 4for4.com, third best in the NFL. Carolina’s defense is no joke. Account for their extraordinary secondary when you’re making your weekly fantasy decisions.
- Roddy White played all but two of Atlanta’s offensive snaps against Seattle. The veteran, finally returning from a high ankle sprain, caught precisely one ball for 20 yards against the Seahawks’ suffocating secondary, but White owners should be encouraged that their guy is back to some sort of form. White could be on his way to target hog status as defenses focus on shutting down Tony Gonzalez and no longer have to fret about accounting for Julio Jones on the other side. White’s schedule is fairly soft until the fantasy playoffs.
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