The fantasy point totals being accumulated by user’s lineups this week are absolutely ridiculous. 11, yes 11, NFL teams scored at least 27 points this week and many more came close (Texans, Rams, Chiefs and Jets to name a few). Unless you started either the Rams or Giants’ defense and special teams, you were essentially left in the dust because no other unit surpassed 12 fantasy points. After last week’s trend of wide receivers (WRs) dominating the leaderboard, two running backs (RBs) finished in the top three of fantasy points this week: Lamar Miller (41.60) and Todd Gurley (35.30). Each recorded at least three receptions, so while the position may have changed, the attributes among those going off remained the same: pass-catching ability. In FantasyDraft’s PPR format, using backs such as LeGarrette Blount, Melvin Gordon or even Marshawn Lynch does not make a whole lot of sense to me because they hardly ever catch passes. Therefore, unless they score two touchdowns (TDs) with a healthy amount of yardage, their upside is capped. For tournaments, anyone associated with the term “capped upside” should be avoided like the plague.
Here are other observations I had after watching an eventful week seven:
Eli Manning, Giants – Make that two straight stinkers for two time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning as he only managed 170 passing yards and zero TDs. This one is a bit perplexing because Manning possesses some nice weapons in Odell Beckham Jr., Shane Vereen and Reuben Randle (who made a sick one-handed catch worth watching if you missed it) so there should be no excuse. We’re talking about a guy who finished as QB10 last season due to the emergence of Beckham Jr. as an elite option…which begs the question; why isn’t Manning feeding the beast? The past two weeks mark the two lowest target totals (eight and then six) Beckham has seen all season and the targets haven’t really been downfield where he’s explosive. Beckham has averaged 8.7 and 8.8 yards per reception in the past two games as opposed to the 11.3-plus yards he has eclipsed three times this season. Part of the problem is Manning has not targeted him in the red zone; the star WR has only been targeted more than once in the red zone in three games this season. He’s been targeted more than twice just once. In other words, Manning is doing a poor job utilizing his best weapon who essentially single-handedly led him to success last season. Maybe the league figured him out, maybe the scheme has been bad or maybe they just haven’t executed but it’s clear this needs to change soon. When/if Manning realizes he needs to continuously find his go-to receivers in crunch time, he’ll randomly bust out for a big game. Otherwise, it’ll be more of this same sub-11.00 fantasy point crap he has managed in the past two games. Essentially he’s a tournament only play because his floor, which keeps rearing its ugly head, is too low for comfort.
Matt Cassel, Cowboys – Brandon Weeden reportedly was angry with the organization for his benching prior to Sunday’s matchup against the Giants. After witnessing Matt Cassel throw three INTs during the course of the game, it’s hard to imagine Weeden would feel any better. The non-Tony Romo Cowboys’ QBs continue to morph the team’s pass catchers into a fantasy wasteland and it’s becoming beyond frustrating. Jason Witten managed a decent six reception (REC), 73-yard effort but that was about it. Terrance Williams racked up 70 yards but only on four REC and 11 fantasy points just wasn’t enough to make an impact with all the points being scored. Fantasy owners and receivers on the Cowboys alike are counting down the days until Romo returns, which is looking more and more like week 11. It’ll be interesting to see if Dez Bryant’s return changes anything next week but it’s difficult to rely on a quarterback (QB) with a career 6.6 yards per attempt regardless of who’s catching passes. Other than the emergence of Darren McFadden, I saw no evidence worthy of removing any Cowboy from the “avoid list” in week seven.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins – Not only has Coach Dan Campbell completely refurbished the Dolphins’ team but I hear a presidential run is evident. Is there any doubting he could balance the budget, feed the hungry and solve just about all the country’s problems within a week’s time? Okay so I’m going overboard but seriously Campbell has turned around the offense and has seriously committed to a full workload for Lamar Miller. In four games under Coach Joe Philbin, Miller registered 218 total yards on 46 touches. In week number seven with Campbell at the helm, Miller registered 236 yards alone. The maximum touches Miller received under Philbin was 15; he’s received at least 17 in each game under Campbell and only did not receive more this week because of the blowout. Let’s just face the facts: Miller is emerging as a true workhorse back and is of extreme interest to daily gamers due to his involvement in the passing game as well. Welcome to true RB1 status Mr. Miller…at least until further notice.
Orleans Darkwa, Giants – New names sprout up onto the radar throughout the fantasy football season but anyone who thought Orleans Darkwa would magically morph into fantasy relevance is lying. The Giants seemingly already possessed an overabundance as they were rotating through the trio of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen already on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the situation was even further complicated when Darkwa turned eight carries into 48 yards and a TD this week. The takeaway from this shouldn’t be to begin considering rostering Darkwa but rather to avoid the Giants RBs almost at all costs. Some weeks Vereen will be heavily involved in the passing game which offers him a fair amount of upside but otherwise these backs are borderline useless. Similar to my rant in the opening paragraph, backs who catch little-to-no passes do not belong on FantasyDraft rosters. A three back rotation just went to four backs so seriously just avoid the headache and find other RB situations to focus on.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – The only thing standing in the way of Stefon Diggs this week was the team’s beat writers who were reporting he had been moved to fourth on the depth chart. Prior to game time, contradicting reports from national writers emerged suggesting that Diggs would in fact start. Diggs lined up opposite of Mike Wallace as the team’s starting receiver on the first series and ka-pow! He went off for the third consecutive week. Quietly the previously unknown Diggs has been targeted at least nine times in three consecutive games and it’s led to at least six REC and 87 yards in each. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me and fool me three times…well…now it’s a trend. At this point, it’s time to admit Diggs is simply Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target and he’s emerging as a WR2. He made one hell of a catch for his first TD of the year this week so there’s no questioning his ability. Chasing the Charles Johnson unicorn from last season is officially a wasted exercise because Diggs is the guy and he doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.
Calvin Johnson, Lions – Lions are gonna Lion. All Calvin Johnson did to begin week seven was beat the defensive back on a jump ball for a long gain and catch the game’s first TD…so why would they want to go back to the well with him, right? Of course, there’s a layer of sarcasm to the previous sentence but it amazes me that Johnson only received five targets during the remainder of the game. During Johnson’s history-making 2012 season, he saw less than 11 targets just three times. While he’s three years older now, he’s still quite clearly the main threat in this offense, especially considering just how lacking they are in the run-game department (the team is averaging 18 less rushing yards per game than the second worst rushing attack). Johnson has only been targeted in double-digits three times this year on an offense playing from behind week-after-week. Game flow has played perfectly into Johnson’s hands and he has only eclipsed 19 fantasy points three times in seven tries. Therefore, I’m declaring he’s no longer a true WR1. Whether you want to blame it on a steep decline or poor QB play is up to you but he’s simply not in the class of DeAndre Hopkins or Julio Jones these days in terms of fantasy production. Johnson remains a high-upside WR2 just in case the team decides to provide their best player with serious volume on occasion, but he’s not a player who needs to be locked into consideration regardless of matchup anymore.
Jordan Reed, Redskins – Kirk Cousins isn’t exactly Peyton Manning but they do have a certain attribute in common: they love relying on their tight ends (TEs). Jordan Reed appears to be the sparkle in Cousins’ eyes because whenever he is active they seem to maintain serious chemistry. In his first game back from a three week concussion-related absence, Reed was targeted 13 times and hauled in 11 for 72 yards and two TDs. “Lacking depth” accurately describes the TE position, so Reed by default re-emerges as a top option. Add him to the Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce and Martellus Bennett tier of TEs that are worth looking into weekly if it’s determined that Rob Gronkowski simply isn’t “the play.”
Clive Walford, Raiders – It did not take the Raiders’ third round pick long to let his talent do the talking for him. Mychal Rivera is and always will be mediocre, which is partially to blame for the Raiders’ selecting a TE as early as they did in the draft. While Clive Walford may have only seen two targets in week seven, each totaled at least 19 yards and he found the end zone for the first time in his career. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time until he emerges as the team’s starter and Derek Carr is playing great. He may not really matter at this point but I hypothesize he will make a blip on the fantasy radar before season’s end.