Sunday Review: Top Wide Receivers Succeeded in Difficult Matchups

Congratulations if you made it through the week without one of your players going down. However, there aren’t many out there who did considering Charcandrick West was rostered in around 90 percent of lineups in cash games and around 70 percent in tournaments. Even if you dodged that bullet, others such as Devonta Freeman, Justin Forsett, Frank Gore, Chris Ivory and Zach Ertz all left their respective games with injury (although a few returned) and Marshawn Lynch didn’t play despite being listed on the “probable side of questionable.” Diversifying assets continues to be the best strategy in football especially at the running back (RB) position (almost all of the guys listed above are RBs) due to the physical beating they take. Sometimes success in fantasy football comes down to who remains on the field and it’s frustrating to attempt to guess which players will not make it through a game on any given week.

Nevertheless, we’ve been over this and I don’t want to sit here and bore you. Instead, it’s time to point out that Cam Newton is morphing into one of the most consistent quarterbacks (QBs) in fantasy football. For a guy whose knock has always been his accuracy, he certainly is finding ways to succeed despite this glaring weakness. Heading into this week, Newton had contributed at least 3.5 fantasy points every week from his running alone and had scored a rushing touchdown (TD) in six of his previous nine games. On Sunday, he didn’t even need to rely on his legs as he threw for 246 yards and five passing TDs…against a defense that held Drew Brees to just 209 yards and two TDs last week. No matter how much the pricing adjusts, he’s simply not going to be priced as a top two QB as long as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers remain healthy by default. For that reason, he’s going to continue to be an option worth using every single week because his rushing ability offers him both a higher floor and higher ceiling than any other QB.

Here are other observations I had watching an eventful week number 11:

Quarterback

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers – Amazing what a QB can do when he has (nearly) his full assortment of weapons at his disposal. After a four week absence with a knee injury, Vincent Jackson returned and made an immediate impact as he caught four passes for 56 yards and a TD. Sure the Eagles’ secondary has been beatable this season, especially Nolan Carroll, but Winston had only thrown for multiple TDs in one of his last five games prior to week 11. He, like Newton, threw for five TDs as the Buccaneers absolutely torched the Eagles 45-17. It would be easy to simply chalk this up to Winston taking advantage of a soft matchup but there is more to this outburst. Yet another piece will be returning to the puzzle next week because Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to suit up in week 12. While maturing, he needs all the help he can get, and now he literally has all the help he can get…two twin tower WRs, one high-draft pick tight end (TE) and a solid RB in Doug Martin. In other words, move him up a move spots in your rest of season QB rankings because Winston could perform at a top-10 level down the stretch due to the mixture of his ability to use his legs and his excellent supporting cast.

Running Back

Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Why didn’t the Vikings choose to feed the ball to their best player against the division rival Packers? It’s not like Adrian Peterson is some volume back that can only succeed with a heavy workload. He carried the ball only 13 times and averaged 3.46 yards per carry (YPC) but surely he would have broken out if he received enough touches…he’s that good. Regardless, I’m chalking up this dud to lack of volume as opposed to any sort of regression. Adrian Peterson is still a top three fantasy RB and he did cap off a poor day with a TD at least. Only Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley are clearly superior options moving forward but Peterson does draw a difficult matchup next week against Atlanta who has allowed the fewest rushing yards of any team. Let me reiterate though: do not freak out about this subpar performance because bluer skies are ahead.

DeMarco Murray, Eagles – Here’s an update you don’t see every day: one anonymous Eagles player apparently questioned the effort of DeMarco Murray because he dodged a hit in Sunday’s shellacking at the hands of the Eagles. At the end of a run, he had an opportunity to attempt to “truck stick” a 185 lb. cornerback and instead slid to the ground. This anonymous player was quoted as saying, “Well, when you see DeMarco sliding before a hit, you tell me. Was that giving full effort? You see that [expletive] and it makes you wonder.” Even with Ryan Mathews inactive due to a concussion, Murray only managed 91 total yards and a fumble lost against a middle of the road rushing defense (and obviously a larger share of the workload). RB-by-committees are always frustrating and this one is no different especially now that his teammates are questioning his effort…which is a big deal on a football team. Literally every single one of the Eagles’ offensive weapons is best left for GPPs only moving forward because none of them can reasonably relied on…None of them.

Wide Receiver

DeAndre Hopkins/Julio Jones – The theme of winners in week 11 was those who had the cojones to roster top receivers in matchups against top cornerbacks. DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones squared off against elite cover corners Darrelle Revis and Vontae Davis…and the receivers won. One of the things my mentors taught me is going contrarian does not always mean using bad players. Many times, using against the grain options can simply mean rostering top-tier talents in perceived terrible matchups. Honestly, it’s disheartening to stare at your lineups at this point in the week and realize the two of them were the top point scorers and you hardly have any shares. They’re the two best receivers in football and they’re officially matchup-proof. Use good players because there’s a reason why they’re so awesome: they beat other solid players regularly. Lesson learned, this one shouldn’t be one we mess up again.

Tight End

Vernon Davis, Broncos – Is it possible Brock Osweiler is actually a better QB at this point than Peyton Manning? Not only do I believe it’s possible but I believe it’s a fact. Regardless, either of the QBs in Denver are an upgrade to what Vernon Davis was forced to deal with in San Francisco so he should be thanking his lucky graces. Priced at the bare minimum, Davis had his first productive day in the Broncos uniform and it should be a full ascension from here on out. The question with Davis has never been the question; if he had a QB1 throwing him the ball, he would have been a true TE1 for years (and he still managed to put together a few monster seasons without one). Let’s not get it confused, Osweiler is not a true QB1 by any stretch of the imagination but he is good enough to allow Davis to solidify a consistent role. He’s more of a player to keep an eye out for then one to immediately invest in but his name is firmly back on the radar. That statement alone would have been hard to believe four weeks ago so this is progress for the 31-year old former first round pick.

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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