Last Second Decisions: Michael Crabtree or Doug Baldwin?

Michael Crabtree or Doug Baldwin?">

On Sunday morning, fantasy owners will inevitably struggle through decisions of which similarly priced players to start. Let fantasy expert Ricky Sanders guide you through five difficult decisions many will dealing with heading into Week 12:

QB – Carson Palmer/Colin Kaepernick – This week, Carson Palmer is absolutely mispriced in a matchup against a very beatable Falcons defense. At $10,500, he is only $500 more than the minimum at the position and yet he possesses a ton of upside against a defense that allows 28 points per game. In fact, they allow the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to the QB position as well. Only the Browns have allowed more passing TDs than the Falcons’ 25 and only five teams have allowed more passing yards (Colts, Cowboys, Titans, Steelers and Browns). Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick is more of a dual threat at the position where he can contribute with his both his legs and his arm. Over the course of his last five games, he has rushed for a combined 260 yards. In other words, he has averaged 52 yards rushing per game over that span which equates to 5.20 fantasy points just on the ground (not to mention he has scored one rushing TD as well). So far this year, the Dolphins have allowed the ninth most rushing yards to opposing QBs and their secondary is not exactly imposing. Even so, Palmer just provides so much value for an even cheaper price that he just simply cannot be overlooked. Verdict: Carson Palmer

RB – Todd Gurley/Thomas Rawls – Any back that squares off against the Saints is imminently worthy of consideration as they have allowed the third most FPPG to the position. However, Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric rates them as the 16th ranked rushing defense (or about league average). Todd Gurley is coming off his best performance since Week 7 in a game where he still only rushed for 76 yards but capped it off with a TD. Since he has caught just one pass combined in his last two games, he is basically a rich man’s Jeremy Hill at this point…and that is not a compliment. On the other hand, Thomas Rawls should now dominate the backfield touches with Christine Michael released and C.J. Prosise out for remainder of the regular season. He is listed as exactly the same price as Gurley and he draws a matchup against a Buccaneers team that ranks 20th in rushing DVOA. Since Gurley’s ceiling appears to be capped in the Rams’ offense, Rawls gets the nod in a slightly better matchup and the fact he is on a vastly superior offense. Verdict: Thomas Rawls

WR – Larry Fitzgerald/Julian Edelman – The nickname “Mr. Consistency” has been earned by Larry Fitzgerald this season considering he has not sunk below double-digit fantasy points in any game so far this season. Furthermore, he draws a matchup against the team allowing the second most FPPG to slot receivers and he has been targeted at least 11 times in three of his previous four games. Julian Edelman saw 17 targets last week but a lot of that was due to the absence of Rob Gronkowski. Initial reports from NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport suggest Gronkowski should be active this week so Edelman’s target share should depreciate back down to the norm. Still, the Jets are extremely tough against the run (LeGarrette Blount has struggled against him for his career) and stout against outside receivers as well. The TEs, backs and Edelman should see a majority of the targets and that should bode well for a receiver who has hit his stride recently; scoring two TDs in his last three games. Yet, this Cardinals offense is in too great of a spot to pass on especially in cash games. The impact of Gronkowski’s return is just enough to justify rostering Fitzgerald instead. Verdict: Larry Fitzgerald

WR – Michael Crabtree/Doug Baldwin – Derek Carr and the Raiders passing game is assuredly going to be heavily owned on Sunday against a Panthers defense that has given up 2,901 passing yards already this season (eighth most). Additionally, they rank 19th in passing DVOA and have struggled to cover WRs for most of the season. The problem here is Michael Crabtree will draw the more difficult matchup against James Bradberry whereas Amari Cooper will match up against the inferior cover corner Daryl Worley. The play against the Panthers has been opposing number one WRs all season and do not forget that Julio Jones torched this defense for 300-plus yards earlier this year. If any of the WRs on this team are going to dominate in that fashion, Cooper is likeliest of candidates. As for Doug Baldwin, well he will draw a pretty neutral matchup against a Buccaneers pass defense that ranks about average. Having said that, the Buccaneers have allowed the fourth most FPPG to opposing WRs including a whopping 14 TDs. Russell Wilson is starting to play like the 2015 version of himself once again and that has led to two consecutive weeks of 22-plus fantasy points for Baldwin. His solidified floor, with Wilson firing on all cylinders, is enough to make the difference. Verdict: Doug Baldwin

TE – Greg Olsen/Tyler Eifert – Although the Cardinals/Falcons game is projected at the highest over/under of the slate (51), Panthers/Raiders is not far behind (50). Over the last four weeks, Greg Olsen has only managed to crack the double-digit fantasy points plateau once so the recency bias probably will lead to a depreciated ownership. The Panthers’ offensive line is largely to blame for the demise of the offense’s efficiency so far this year but the recent drop in Olsen targets is puzzling. Olsen’s overall sample size suggests this slump will not continue especially in a game expected to be a shootout. Even with his recent cold streak, he still leads the position in FPPG (15.45), slightly edging out Rob Gronkowski (15.14). Tyler Eifert should see an uptick in targets with both A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard although he only was targeted six times last week (and Green left the game early). The easy differentiator is the fact the Ravens rank first in terms of TE DVOA. Hell, TEs have only gained an average of 40.9 yards per game against this defense although, to be fair, most TEs are not as talented as Eifert. In his last meeting against the Ravens, Eifert caught all four targets for 51 yards and a TD (last year’s playoffs) so there is some hope…but not enough to justify rostering him over Olsen. Verdict: Greg Olsen

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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