Sunday Takeaways: Hillman Passes Anderson on the Depth Chart

Twitter nailed it: without Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo active and having many QBs deteriorating due to old age, the league just isn’t quite as exciting. The product overall is less entertaining to watch and it’s weird because all of today’s rules are designed to promote offense. Three quarterbacks (QBs) threw more than two touchdowns (TDs) in week four: Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford and Nick Foles. Only three QBs eclipsed the 25 fantasy-point plateau: Rivers, Josh McCown and Drew Brees (who took a long TD in overtime to surpass this benchmark). For these reasons, fantasy scoring was down this week and many of the outlooks on players moving forward will prove to be negative as opposed to positive. Let’s begin:

Quarterback

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – This offense is the dictionary definition of pathetic. While everything may not be Colin Kaepernick’s fault, he is certainly a huge contributing factor to the putrid state of the offense. With zero passing TDs in week four, Kaepernick has now thrown zero TDs in three of four games this season. Zero. In all three of those games, Kaepernick has thrown for 165 yards or less passing. His completion percentage, after a 13-25 day against the Packers, now sits at 62.1 percent (72-116). Heading into the week, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Nick Foles were tied for 23rd in the NFL with 62.1 completion percentages. In essence, there is just no reason to use him even in tournaments moving forward until the offense finds their way, and I do not see that happening any time soon. Their best receiver is 35 years old and can no longer create separation. Vernon Davis cannot be relied upon for any consistent source of production and Carlos Hyde will continue to have nowhere to run unless the passing game opens it up. All in all, this situation is looking brutal and Kaepernick should be fully off the fantasy radar moving forward.

Drew Brees, Saints – After sitting out week three with inflammation in his throwing shoulder, a less than 100 percent Drew Brees returned in week four. The TV production kept showing tape of his throwing motion from last season compared to how he was slinging it on Monday night. Clearly something was wrong and his range of motion was hampered by soreness. For that reason, the team mostly focused on the screen passing game and short throws, which kept them in the game. Through 59:40 into the game, Brees had thrown for 220 yards and a TD. From there, he led his team downfield for the tie in regulation and inevitably threw the screen pass that C.J. Spiller took to the house for the win. My initial reaction is to say that the additional yardage was a fluke and that he’s going to be tough to rely on until the shoulder heals. However, the Saints do have some speedy skill players and Sean Payton gets awfully creative with the play calling. As long as Brees’ shoulder continues to heal in the next few weeks, he’ll still be worthy of consideration as a QB1 (especially in cash games), if only for the system he plays in alone.

Running Back

Todd Gurley, Rams – Well, well, well… it appears the Rams have found themselves a running back (RB). The Rams made a shocking pick when they selected him at ten (especially coming off of ACL surgery), but it appears they had an idea of what they were doing (although taking a RB that high is never preferable, but that’s an argument for a different time). Todd Gurley received his first full workload as an NFL player and all he did was rush for 146 yards on 7.7 yards per carry (YPC). He also added two receptions (REC) for 15 yards and really gave the offense an identity. Nick Foles only had to throw the ball 24 times, which is right about where Jeff Fisher likes/wants it.

C.J. Anderson, Broncos – Like a boxing match with a woozy opponent, it’s time to call this one. Ronnie Hillman has appeared to be the best back on the roster for weeks and this week it seems he finally surpassed C.J. Anderson on the depth chart. Hillman and Anderson touched the ball an equal amount of times (crazily, both had exactly 11 carries and one REC), but Hillman averaged 9.4 YPC to Anderson’s 4.3. Most of Hillman’s yards came on a 72-yard TD run, but that’s the potential he possesses (which Anderson simply does not). The team realized it and featured Hillman down the stretch; he carried the ball seven times on the Broncos final three drives, compared to Anderson’s three. This should continue to be the trend moving forward, as I think the Broncos have seen enough of Anderson. It’s time to get the guy in there that gives them the best chance to win, and it’s now been proven four consecutive weeks that Hillman is that guy.

Wide Receiver

Brandin Cooks, Saints – Speaking of players who continuously disappoint, Brandin Cooks caught just four passes for 25 yards and no TDs on Sunday Night Football. He has now gone four consecutive games without scoring a TD or surpassing 80 yards receiving. I saw someone on Twitter suggest Cooks could end up being the biggest non-injury bust ever in yearly fantasy football leagues, considering he was being drafted in the second round. He functions better in an environment where he isn’t the main target in the passing game, but rather just a compliment. Unfortunately, the team no longer possesses any top-tier threats like Jimmy Graham or an in-his-prime Marques Colston. For that reason, the attention is being put on Cooks while Willie Snead flourishes. Moving forward, I would rather roster Snead at the discounted price than use Cooks (until he proves something). His speed could help open up opportunities, but Brees’ arm is hurting right now, limiting the deep ball. I simply have no interest in a short player that will hardly ever find the end zone for top-WR price, unless he’s catching 10 passes a game… and Cooks certainly is not. Downgrade him and find other ways to exploit the high-powered Saints (such as Mark Ingram for instance).

Dontrelle Inman, Chargers – “Next man up” is a popular term used in football referring to how when one man gets injured, the next guy needs to be ready to fill-in. Two Chargers receivers were forced to leave in week four, deeming Dontrelle Inman both the “next man up” and “only man left.” He immediately assumed the second WR role and caught three passes for 88 yards before it was all said and done. Stevie Johnson’s injury was a non-contact injury (which is never promising) and Malcolm Floyd left with a concussion. Neither is a safe pick for next week so, general public, please meet Mr. Inman. The team will play a Pittsburgh Steeler team that had allowed the fifth-most passing yards prior to this week’s ugly Thursday night game with Ravens. Can you say “sleeper”?

Tight End

Owen Daniels, Broncos – For the second straight week Owen Daniels found the end zone, which isn’t a very surprising trend in a Peyton Manning offense. Hell, Manning turned Dallas Clark into a perennial Pro-Bowl tight end (TE) and he could hardly stay in the league after he left. Daniels has now seen at least five targets in three of the four games he has played, and get this: he faces the Oakland Raiders next week. That’s right, fantasy community, the very same Raiders team allowing career days to literally every starting TE they have faced. Here’s the game log:

Week One: Tyler Eifert – nine REC for 104 yards and two TD

Week Two: Crockett Gillmore – five REC for 88 yards and two TD

Week Three: Gary Barnidge – six REC for 105 yards and a TD

Week Four: Martellus Bennett – 11 REC for 83 yards and a TD

The smartest QB in football is going to look at the type, identify this trend and make sure he takes full advantage next week. Everyone and their grandmother should own Daniels in their week five cash lineups, but he’ll likely go vastly under-owned. Do not be one of the people who misses out.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Unfortunately for “Rudolph the red-zone reindeer,” Teddy Bridgewater is playing at a less-than-adequate level. His passes wobble like a weeble and his level of accuracy may be the worst in the game among all starting QBs. Now, the numbers show he came into the day at 67.6 percent completion and he actually completed 65.9 percent of passes on Sunday. However, these are mirages and do not tell the full story. His completion percentage on passes between 21 and 30 yards heading into the day was 54.2 percent and I believe that number decreased after his latest performance. The offense is basically functioning in spite of him at this point, which doesn’t bode well for Kyle Rudolph. Week four’s two-REC, seven-yard performance makes that back-to-back games for Rudolph with two catches and less than 15 yards. Norv Turner was supposed to be an offensive coordinator who found ways to get the TE involved on offense, but that does not appear to be happening during his tenure in Minnesota, and it’s not all his fault. Regardless, Rudolph should no longer be considered a TE1 nor a weekly cash option at the position until Bridgewater gets his (bleep) together.

 

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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