Sunday Takeaways: Amari Cooper Growing Up in Front of Our Eyes

After a wild week number two, things didn’t settle down any, but they did become slightly more predictable. The monsters came to play as we saw big weeks from Adrian Peterson, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Jimmy Graham, Le’Veon Bell, Brandon Marshall, Cam Newton and the Seahawks’ Defense to name a few. With a few starting running backs (RBs) declared out, backups Devonta Freeman and Ryan Mathews/Darren Sproles came up huge for extremely discounted prices. All in all, despite many of the usual suspects getting it done, there were plenty of worthwhile tidbits to take away from week three:

Quarterback

Andrew Luck, Colts – Andrew Luck suffered through yet another half of football and I admittedly started to hit the panic button because, as a daily fantasy analyst, everything is an overreaction. Thankfully, Luck came out and righted the ship in the second half to finish with a line of 18-30 for 260 yards, two TD and two interceptions (INTs)… and most importantly, he led the team back for a come-from-behind win. Do not give up on Luck as an elite QB because of two and a half consecutive mediocre games, because second half Luck is the real Luck. He’ll square off next week against the Jaguars, who were just absolutely roasted by the Patriots (dropped a 51 burger on them) this weekend. Additionally, Ryan Tannehill threw for 359 yards and two TD against them the week before. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a QB in a better spot, so do not overlook last season’s QB1.

Nick Foles, Rams – Can we as a community stop trying to get too cute at the QB position on a weekly basis? Finding an affordable QB to anchor the squad makes sense many weeks when you can roster a team of studs alongside them.  However, just because a QB is priced cheaply does not mean they are the play on that given week. Nick Foles will enjoy some productive weeks this season, but he’s difficult to rely on with a receiving core of Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and tight ends Lance Kendricks/Jared Cook. He was effective in the Chip Kelly offense because of the speed and scheme, while Jeff Fisher is going to rely more heavily on the run. The matchup will have to be awfully tasty to warrant considering him in cash games again this season… I almost can’t fathom a matchup or price that would fit. Save Foles for tournaments only and do not get overly excited as he’s a risky proposition on a week-to-week basis.

Running Back

Devonta Freeman, Falcons – It appears the Atlanta running game will be just fine without their stud rookie Tevin Coleman. After Coleman busted some of his ribs last week, Devonta Freeman stepped in and started this week. He was awarded all the work he could handle and ended with 30 carries, plus five receptions on five targets (35 total touches). The Cowboys’ defense had held opponents in check this season, but the volume led to ginormous production from Freeman: 141 rushing yards and three rushing TDs to go along with 53 receiving yards. In fact, Freeman’s monster performance earned him the top-scoring output among all running backs (RBs) this week. Only A.J. Green and Steve Smith Sr. scored more fantasy points overall heading into Monday. Coleman’s return is going to rely on pain tolerance, but it’s clear as long as he remains out that Freeman should produce as a high-end RB2 at the very least, due to volume with even more upside than that.

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots – Bill Belichick is an extremely unusual game planner, which is partially why he’s such a successful NFL coach. Fantasy owners have a very difficult time deciphering what he may do on a game-to-game basis, so one can only imagine how tough opposing defensive coordinators have it. Dion Lewis dominated backfield touches in the first half but, in the second half, Belichick unleashed his workhorse back from last season. LeGarrette Blount scored not one, not two, but three TDs in the second half against Jacksonville. He finished with 18 carries for 78 yards and those three aforementioned TDs enroute to 28.20 fantasy points. Good luck predicting this backfield next week, but there’s one thing I do know for sure: Blount is completely TD dependent. It took him three TDs to reach his fantasy-point total, whereas Brandon Marshall scored once and registered 0.60 more fantasy points. The PPR, or points per reception, format is conducive to pass catchers, so I typically look to avoid guys like Blount unless I am sure they are finding the end zone. I still prefer Lewis in this format moving forward, but I do expect Blount to touch the ball more often and score more TDs. Yet again, we’re stuck with an annoying Belichick RBBC (running back by committee).

Ameer Abdullah, Lions – The “Abdullah Oblongata” is where anger, jealousy and aggression come from… oh wait that’s the “medulla oblongata.” But Ameer Abdullah runs like he’s angry, jealous and aggressive, and after watching the Lions on Sunday night, one can reasonably conclude the offense is more dangerous with Abdullah in the backfield (as opposed to Joique Bell). Bell is slow, indecisive and overall an inferior player at this point to the young and exciting Abdullah. The one argument to be made for him is he holds onto the ball whereas Abdullah consistently battled butterfingers in college. The fact that Abdullah can line up in the backfield or the slot as receiver is a big part of his game. He only caught two passes this week, but he was targeted five times and scored his only TD on a reception out of the slot. Patience will be a virtue with Abdullah as his role continues to grow, but it appears his week-two dud can be ignored for now.

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper, Raiders – Amari Cooper walked into the league NFL-ready and Derek Carr looks like he has already developed chemistry with the kid. Cooper hauled in eight catches on 11 targets for 134 yards while matched up with Joe Haden for a portion of the day (he left with an injury). Cooper’s presence shifted the attention and opened up the field for the other receivers (both Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes scored). This now marks back-to-back games with 100-plus yards receiving in just his second and third NFL games. He cannot be overlooked, despite his inexperience, as he has burst onto the scene as a WR2. With his skill set, he could easily catapult into the WR1 conversation by the end of the year, especially as he develops alongside another young talent. Do not sleep on Cooper because he is on the Raiders or he is going to end up burning you quite often.

Allen Hurns, Jaguars – This guy came out of nowhere last season to enjoy a productive 51-reception (REC), 677-yard and six-TD campaign. It appears he will have a role yet again this season, as he has racked up at least 60 yards in all three games in 2015. He only caught two passes in week three and I think that could be the norm moving forward. He’s a deep threat with Allen Robinson serving as the versatile top target and Marqise Lee, Marcedes Lewis and eventually Julius Thomas factoring in as well. Allen Hurns is going to be a weekly boom-or-bust option with the upside to score one-to-two long TDs, meaning he may end up winning someone a GPP one of these days. He’s worth keeping on the radar for that reason alone, even if he’s difficult to trust.

Tight End

Martellus Bennett, Bears – Most are going to take away that the Bears’ offense is simply brutal without Jay Cutler, and I have a hard time arguing with that. Nevertheless, it wasn’t all doom and gloom as Martellus Bennett still led all pass catchers in both targets and receptions. Like the rest of the team, he finished with a rather ineffective-looking line (four catches on five targets for 15 yards), but it at least promotes some faith in him moving forward. Matchups will not continue to be this difficult, as the Seahawks certainly possess one of the best defenses in the game. The Bears will face the Raiders next week, who just allowed 100-plus yards and a TD to the Josh McCown/Gary Barnidge hookup, so maybe Bennett is a sneaky play next week (even assuming Cutler remains out).

Tyler Eifert, Bengals – Unfortunately, TEs not named Rob Gronkowski inevitably suffer down games/weeks. This week happened to be one of those for Tyler Eifert, who finished with a goose egg (zero fantasy points). Taking a closer look at the box score, however, identifies this game may have been a fluke and/or the outlier. First of all, it won’t show up in the box score, but Eifert had a TD reversed after review as he caught a pass and made a move but “did not complete the catch,” according to the new NFL rules. He was targeted three times (and obviously converted zero), but was one of only five Bengals targeted. In other words, he’s still a big part of the offense, things just didn’t fall his way in this game. Do not give up on him or fade him from future consideration, because he was one controversial referee decision away from a solid day on just one play.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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