NFL Week 11 Twitter Takeaways

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly. Here go our Week 11 NFL Takeaways; twitter style.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was. I’m big into numbers, particularly snap counts and relative target share, but you won’t see an overwhelming amount of that here as there is lots of time to collect that data through the week. You’re just getting some unfiltered thoughts to help you guide your lineups for the week ahead.

D.J. Moore has a superlative worthy performance

Ok… we probably got a little carried away this weekend:

But D.J. Moore had an emphatic outing in the loss to Detroit this week. You’ve likely seen the breakaway speed and body control exhibited on his long catch and run this week, but what you may have missed were similar and consistent tough-to-tackle traits exhibited on more modest plays. Take this one for example:

I’ve spent more time in this space in recent weeks focusing on the other upstart Moore receiver (David, in Seattle) but D.J. has been a consistently strong contributor to the Carolina offense and finally found the endzone (for just the second time this season) this week. He hasn’t been held below 48 total yards since returning from the team’s Week 4 bye and while that’s not a stat line to hang your hat on it shows a consistency that fantasy owners would appreciate from their WR3. It’s also a consistency his QB and playcaller should come to appreciate. On a week where Devin Funchess corralled just two of his eight targets, Moore reeled in seven of his. Funchess continues to be inconsistent and I’d expect more and more looks to be funneled Moore’s way (sorry… I didn’t mean to do that) over the season’s final six weeks.

Andrew Luck had a field day. Yet again.

And this week he did it against the NFL’s top scoring defense. I was down on Luck coming into the year and said I’d learned my lesson. I then told FantasyPros this week that Luck was my top deadline deal candidate given a tough slate coming up that featured the Titans twice, among others.

CDCarson_6 was wise enough to call me on it, and through one week he certainly looks correct:

Luck and the Colts got it done following the same script they have during their five week run.

In short, don’t doubt him. Unless you’re boasting two elite options, Luck is as matchup proof as they come. And, when he’s rolling T.Y. Hilton joins him there (9/9/155 this week). Sure, the sledding could be tougher against the Titans on the road in two weeks but I’m not betting against one of the league’s hottest QBs again. After all, he’s never lost to the division rival.

Adrian Peterson is still running angry

In a week that started without half of his offensive line and ended without his starting QB, against a defense wreaking havoc, Adrian Peterson still got his. The 33-year-old back is showing no signs of slowing down.

Sure, his YPC could have been a lot prettier (16-51) but again with limitations on the line and in a tough matchup he performed admirably. Peterson’s two scores were near mirror images of each other with a quick cut and acceleration to the endzone.

Given the obstacles he overcame this week, his owners don’t need to overthink lineup decisions in light of injuries moving forward. Roll with him until performance dictates otherwise.

A strong rookie rushing debut in Baltimore

Gus Edwards‘, that is.

Sure, we could spend a lot of time detailing Lamar Jackson‘s historic rush attempts and generally strong production but you’ve heard that already. You’ve heard about Gus Edwards, too, but I’m not sure you’ve heard a compelling argument that his success will continue. For me, it’s simple. As long as Jackson remains under centre.

First of all, while the naysayers are critiquing Jackson as a run first QB, he did attempt 19 passes against the Bengals (more than fellow winners Eli Manning and Blake Bortles this week, by the way) and looked fairly strong when so doing. Sure, he didn’t take a lot of chances, but a 13/19 line with 7.9 YPA is nothing to turn up your nose at. Even if they were all underneath passes, his threat as a runner was opening up lanes in the passing game.

And, as Gus Edwards saw, in the running game as well.

Consider this, when Jackson crossed the 100-yard plateau he became the first Baltimore Raven to do so all year.

Edwards wasn’t long behind him (he finished with 17 carries for 115 yards).

A mobile QB willing to tuck and run 27 times a game creates coverage and decision making problems for a defense. In short… the threat of the run at QB is opening up holes for the run game. And Edwards was able to take advantage. As long as the game script allows Baltimore is going to take commit to the ground game. Alex Collins owners will defend their guy and his potential share of that work, mind you:

But at the end of the day, Baltimore rode the hot hand and Collins wound up with just seven totes. There’s always the risk that Baltimore will turn back to him if you’re spending your FAAB, but the undrafted rookie profiles as a power back that could balance Jackson’s rushing style quite well. Certainly, he warrants a roster spot and I’d expect him to continue to be productive for as long as Jackson is under center, at least.

It’s week 11 folks. He’s available everywhere… unload your FAAB. The Ravens will draw a should-win game against the Raiders this week and a soft run defense in Atlanta in Week 13.

Other Notes and Quick Hits

  • He didn’t score (one was called back on a Ricky Seals-Jones hold) so you may not have noticed, but David Johnson kept rolling against the Raiders with 170 total yards.

  • I wouldn’t read too much into an abysmal offensive (all around) performance from Philadelphia this week, but it is worth noting that Golden Tate seems to have a sufficient grasp of the offense to be trusted in PPR leagues moving forward. He led the team with eight looks this week and took most of his snaps from a familiar position in the slot:

  • In case you missed it, DeAndre Hopkins is on a tear (his TD this week was a degree of difficulty catch!)

  • Atlanta picked on Chidobe Awuzie this week. And sure, having Julio Jones makes it easy to pick on anyone, but it is becoming a trend.

    There aren’t a ton of options on the Colt McCoy led offense to take advantage of him this week, mind you.

NFL Week 10 Twitter Takeaways: Mayfield and Chubb ball out… Jarvis Landry out of juice?

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly. Here go our Week 10 NFL Takeaways; twitter style.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was. I’m big into numbers, particularly snap counts and relative target share, but you won’t see an overwhelming amount of that here as there is lots of time to collect that data through the week. You’re just getting some unfiltered thoughts to help you guide your lineups for the week ahead.

Riddick backs up solid post-Tate debut

Both Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick received a healthy dose of targets this week, with Detroit in come-from-behind mode and Marvin Jones Jr. missing some time in the second half. We noted last week that Riddick seemed to be the primary beneficiary of the targets opened up by Golden Tate‘s departure and that seemed to carry over into Week 10. Ultimately, that’s the only notable fantasy news from today’s Lions game anyhow, given that Golladay (13 targets) and Johnson are already owned in most formats. Riddick didn’t net a single carry, matching last week’s workload as a ball carrier, but a 6/6/60 line will play in most deeper PPR leagues and there is always the chance that he’ll break one.

He’s actually been seeing work in the slot, ultimately serving as a direct replacement for Tate, meaning that his value might not be as variable or game flow dependent as you may assume with a primarily pass catching RB.

Though… even if he is relying on game flow to produce targets, the Lions are starting to look like they’ll be trailing for much of the second half of the season.

On the other side of that game, Allen Robinson appears to be fully healthy and effective after taking a few weeks off to nurse his injury. That should help both his owners, and those of QB Mitchell Trubisky moving forward. There are a few ways to look at explaining the big day from Robinson. A) He took the required time to recover from his groin injury or B)

Option A is probably more likely, and more repeatable the rest of the way. Start him and Trubisky comfortably, owners.

Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb ball out… Jarvis Landry out of juice?

By now you know that Nick Chubb had a great day – even without his 92 yard touchdown gallop – against the Falcons, and we’ve all been impressed by Baker Mayfield‘s 3 TD, 3 incompletion performance followed by his post game swag:

Or maybe it should be Danger-Russ? Mayfield has been displaying a unique mix of arm talent and elusiveness in recent weeks:

But, you shouldn’t let your Brown-thusiasm allow you to overlook another ho-hum outing from Jarvis Landry. Landry made two catches early in the game and looked to be ready to roll against a poor Falcons defense. But alas, Landry owners were left disappointed again this week as he finished with just those two grabs on five targets. It’s not all bad, as those five looks were enough to lead the team on a day when Mayfield threw just 20 passes, and I’d expect him to be the leader in that category more often than not, maintaining his PPR utility, but it is probably time that Landry owners stop expecting a big play.

After a strong month of September, Landry has topped 70 yards and/or scored a touchdown just once, in the same contest against a leaky Bucs’ D in garbage time (with 15 targets). Again, I wouldn’t write him off completely but treating Landry as more than a WR3/4 in standard leagues moving forward isn’t wise.

Of course, some of it was the matchup.

The Falcons should offer enough to keep Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper relevant this week, and are in line to get skewered by the Saints in Week 12.

T.J. Yeldon maintains value with Leonard Fournette back

Leonard Fournette wasn’t particularly efficient in his return for Jacksonville, but he did dominate the backfield workload. He finished with five receptions (five targets) to go with his 24 carries, while Carlos Hyde was given the ball out of the backfield just three times.

For owners looking to figure out the backfield pecking order, Hyde appears to be cut-worthy at this point (unless you want to hold on for a Fournette/Yeldon injury) while T.J. Yeldon should maintain some value in games that the Jaguars trail. He out-snapped Hyde, and matched his carries, while picking up five receptions on six targets.

David Johnson keeps rolling

Matthew Berry’s tweet pretty much sums out how Johnson investors should be feeling:

And moreover, given the workload in recent weeks it feels sustainable:

His seven receptions led the team this week (and nine targets trailed only Larry Fitzgerald). Of course, per the implication in Berry’s tweet, Johnson was drafted high in season-long leagues and you’re using him regardless. In terms of daily fantasy, though, you’re going to need to start paying attention if you haven’t already. Johnson has the 2nd easiest fantasy RB schedule the rest of the way.

Finally, they’re also playing to his skill set rather than simply driving the ball up the middle:

Elsewhere in that game, before you get over-excited about Spencer Ware finding the endzone this week and building off a solid performance in Week 9, bear in mind that he had just three touches and may find fantasy value hard to sustain… he’s a handcuff/desperation play only, even in deep leagues.

Because Jets fans undoubtedly turned off the broadcast early

It should be noted that Elijah McGuire was just one carry off the team lead (with six, behind Isaiah Crowell‘s seven) against the Bills, and he added three receptions on six targets. It may not be worth much if this week’s lackluster effort carries over, but he seems to be gaining momentum in just his second game active this season. Deep league players should look at add McGuire if that move wasn’t made weeks ago, and keeper leaguers could consider him worth a stash for next year.

Bear in mind, he led the backfield in snaps in his first week on the field:

Aaron Jones‘ owners rejoice. Kenyan Drake‘s, not so much

I’ve been commenting on how fantasy twitter seems to think they know better than coaches re: RB workload distribution in recent weeks, and the two players/teams at the epicenter of the discussion took the field against each other this week. Aaron Jones truthers got what they wanted, which is particularly heartening given his fumble last week while Kenyan Drake‘s supporters have lost some ammunition. Jones was dominant against the Dolphins and scored two TDs on 18 touches, totaling 192 yards. Jamaal Williams had just three carries for three yards. It seems that the GB backfield has finally turned the corner gamers had hoped for:

Meanwhile, Frank Gore retained his stranglehold on early down work for Miami (such that there was running work, given that Miami trailed for much of the game). And, while the offense did very little overall, it’s hard to argue with the results. I can’t find much to share in terms of tweets, because they’re all just calling Gore ancient. So, I’ll give you this one for its creativity at least:

But ultimately, that’s at the heart of the argument. Here we are 2.5 months after the start of the season and those who invested in Drake are simply upset that he isn’t getting the work. Sure, he’s been more effective on a per touch basis but Gore has helped the offense move down the field for the Dolphins this season and certainly did so today. He’s averaging a solid 4.5 YPC on the season after this weekend’s output. Drake is moderately better, but the backfield remains Gore’s to control. He’s had double digit touches in every game since September 30. Get used to it.

Rashaad Penny gets some work

HC Pete Carroll suggested that Rashaad Penny just needed consistent volume to be productive, and with Chris Carson missing this week’s contest he got his chance. Mike Davis started and had a solid day in his own right, but Penny reeled off consecutive long runs midway through the game en route to 108 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Certainly, it seems that the rookie back has turned a corner:

Davis finished with 11 carries and was the only back targeted (six times) in the passing game. It was nice to see the touted rookie get some productive work, and this week’s outing suggests that an add is warranted in leagues where he is still available, but I wouldn’t count on 100 total yards and a score each week. Far from it, in fact. With Davis not doing anything to justify being taken out of the mix and Carson expected to find his way back into the lineup the three-headed attack is likely to continue. Until the snap/carry distribution suggests otherwise it’s safe to leave Penny’s workload on the bench in leagues of standard size. Dynasty owners, meanwhile should jump on the buy low train if the window still exists.

Other quick hits and fun facts

    • Mike Williams and Tre’Quan Smith each failed to record a target this week in soft matchups. Williams’ low volume was projectable. He’d been scoring, but otherwise had seen limited use in recent weeks. Smith’s was a bit of a surprise with Cameron Meredith (and subsequently Dez Bryant‘s) injury. In either case, variability and low-floor based on workload will continue to be a problem, and it bit owners this week. David Moore, who I’ve stumped for in this space in recent weeks, had a shot at a TD late but wound up with just one catch on a modest three targets.

  • Eric Ebron had a big day, aided in part by the fact that the Jags D isn’t what it once was. Bouye will be back, but if you haven’t figured it out yet, start your squad freely against the Jaguars.

  • Andrew Luck’s protection has been great lately, and with Quinton Nelson and company looking legit, we should expect his fantasy success to continued.

  • Sure, they’ve canned their D coordinator but that shouldn’t change anything. Pick on the Bengals (and a month ago, we thought it was the Saints defense in this game…)

  • And we’ll finish with an observation from yours truly that should have gotten more love than it did

NFL Week 9 Twitter Takeaways: Duke Days

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly. Here go our Week 9 NFL Takeaways; twitter style.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was. I’m big into numbers, particularly snap counts and relative target share, but you won’t see an overwhelming amount of that here as there is lots of time to collect that data through the week. You’re just getting some unfiltered thoughts to help you guide your lineups for the week ahead.


Gimme all your Mullens. All your hugs and Kisses Too.

I assure you this is intended in entirely self deprecating fashion… no hindsight brags here, but I had the pleasure of starting Nick Mullens on Thursday Night in a QB premium, deep, dynasty league with Carson Wentz on a bye. It was a desperation play brought on by poor roster management, but by now you know it turned out pretty well for me.

A lot of gamers are willing to write Mullens’ outing off as a one time fluke produced by facing the woeful Raiders who evidently have quit on coach Jon Gruden. And, to a certain extent I think that was the case. But before you totally overlook the upstart third stringer for Week 10, bear in mind that he was an accomplished passer at Brett Favre U. He’s also had 10 days to prepare as the starter against an average Giants D who despite coming off the bye have given up a few key parts on defense and don’t have a heck of a lot to play for, either. I see a path to 200+ yards and multiple scores again this week, and in a lot of leagues you could do worse for a bye week replacement.

Again, just because you didn’t know who he was doesn’t mean he came out of nowhere:

If he is indeed successful, it should be noted that veteran WR Pierre Garcon who has been overlooked for much of this season, led the team with five targets.

So… Gimme All Your Mullens. Also, enjoy a gratuitous sharp dress man reference.

RBs cookin’ with Freddie Kitchens

Make what you want of the pun-streak I feel like I’m on here, but don’t let the groan cause you to ignore Cleveland’s RB usage this week.

In a game that they trailed from the get-go with an uber-aggressive (i.e. go for every fourth down and for two after each TD) mindset the running back position was heavily involved for Cleveland this week and in the general sense the offense looked good.

Nick Chubb wound up with 22 carries against Kansas City which portends well for his usage as a game-script independent high-volume RB in the post-Hyde&Hue Browns offense, but that wasn’t even the story of the day at the position.

I think the Browns are capable of turning the corner at some point in 2018 or 19… perhaps they’re just a coach away… but you’ve got to assume that they’ll be trailing regularly. And, that will provide plenty of opportunity to integrate the receiving back into the offense. Johnson had just one carry, but picked up nine targets (catching all of them) for 78 yards, leading the team in all receiving categories. The Browns draw the Falcons next week – a team that has been highly susceptible to exploitation by receiving RBs so far this year.

In other receiving RB news, Theo Riddick finally found himself heavily featured for Detroit. It’s not like the team will be proud of their offensive output, so I’d wait another week to ensure it continues, but Theo Riddick picked up seven catches on eight targets in the fist game since Golden Tate’s departure.

Adrian Peterson – Off Week or Line Woes

After much of the hype leading up to the game focused on how the ageless wonder Adrian Peterson was defying expectations this year, he threw up a dud in a soft matchup – 9 carries for 17 yards. In fairness, there weren’t a lot of holes for the 33 year old RB to run through.

Unfortunately for his fantasy investors, that might be the new norm. Washington saw three more injuries along the offensive line this week and may find themselves without both starting guards the rest of the way. I don’t want to over react to one poor outing, but Alex Smith hasn’t been throwing deep regularly enough to keep defenses honest in the box and it looks like there are going to be serious impediments to both run and pass blocking the rest of the way. If there is a seller for Peterson (and admittedly, this isn’t the week to make the move) I’d certainly explore it.

In other season-ending injury news for Washington, Paul Richardson is out. I don’t know an awful lot about Maurice Harris, but he had 12 targets this week and made good on them. With Richardson out (Crowder comes back, eventually) he should get some opportunities moving forward and is worth a look in deeper leagues.

Adam Humphries keeps rolling

Last week in this space I suggested that Chris Godwin would be the fringe WR to roll with in a Fitzpatrick led offense in Tampa Bay. It turns out I was wrong, for this week at least. Frankly, I’m not comfortable rolling either Godwin or Adam Humphries despitre the strong passing game numbers in Tampa Bay, but certainly Godwin’s three targets paled in comparison to Adam Humphries’ 10 this week. That makes 19 over the last two games.

Greg Olsen stays hot

Greg Olsen managed to find the endzone on limited use in his first week back. He was more heavily involved in the offense in his second, and now looks to be fully back to featured-pass-catcher status.

He caught all six of his targets in Week 9, including an impressive TD grab:

Olsen appears to be fully healthy, and in a very thin fantasy TE group he’s picked up right where he left off as one of the position’s most stable options. Most important, he was on the field virtually every snap:

His six targets this week tied Christian McCaffery for the team lead. Norv Turner is getting a lot of credit for the creativity of the offense in recent weeks, and that is deserved, but they still need a traditional chain mover / red zone option and Olsen is that and more for Cam Newton. With that in mind, at a position with high variability he is a consistent option and that’s about all that the non-Kelce/Ertz owners can ask for at the position.

James Conner has reached matchup proof status

All told, Conner finished with 24 carries for 107 yards, adding seven receptions on nine targets. Le’Veon Bell may change that, perhaps by the time you read this, but I wouldn’t expect him to log significant snaps for at least a few weeks. Right now, Conner owners just have to let him drive them to the playoffs and accept a time share if Bell does indeed report when the playoffs come. If anything, I’d project a heavy dose of Conner to continue in the regular season with hopes that their franchise tagged back is fresh enough to contribute in the preseason. Conner is playing well enough that he can still help you win your matchups on 18 touches.

More opportunities coming for Jeff Heuerman

Courtland Sutton saw five looks and Emmanuel Sanders nine in the first game that Denver played without Demaryius Thomas. Meantime, it was Jeff Heuerman who seemed to be the biggest beneficiary of freed up opportunities in the passing game.

The third-year TE was used all over the field and finished with 11 targets, including a redzone TD. He won’t see 11 every week, to be sure, but with one fewer option in the receiving game it does stand to reason that Case Keenum could look his way more often. Again, there are some ugly options at TE right now, and he might be worth a look in depeer leagues. He’s now had 28 targets over his last four games.

Don’t quit on David Moore

The standout second year receiver was quiet for Seattle this week, but those who picked him off up the waiver wire over the last week or so shouldn’t give up yet. He caught just two balls, but led Seahawks receivers in targets with seven (TE Nick Vannett and RB Mike Davis each had eight, on 39 passes by Russell Wilson) and nearly found the endzone on the last play of the game. In fact, he nearly scored twice:

Close only counts in horseshoes and blah, blah, blah but we play in a game of opportunity and it seems that Wilson remains confident in his young receiver. The Seahawks play the Rams in Week 10 in a game that is shaping up as yet another shootout, and he should have plenty of opportunities yet again. Most daily gamers will be able to see that coming, but I’m quite willing to double down on Moore against a Rams squad that is giving up the 12th most points to the position on the season and has seen Marcus Peters in particular burned deep in recent weeks.

NFL Week 8 Twitter Takeaways: We don’t call the plays

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly. Here go our Week 8 NFL Takeaways; twitter style.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was. I’m big into numbers, particularly snap counts and relative target share, but you won’t see an overwhelming amount of that here as there is lots of time to collect that data through the week. You’re just getting some unfiltered thoughts to help you guide your lineups for the week ahead.

Don’t Read Too Much Into Deshaun Watson’s Big Week

I’m sort of doubling down on a mistake here, after ranking Deshaun Watson as my QB17 this week (-5 from FantasyPros ECR) but after the twitterverse blew up following his performance on Thursday Night Football I wouldn’t get carried away on where I valued him for Week 9.

But, despite the strong outing I’m not ready to forget that he’s still nursing a significant chest injury and has to travel to Colorado this week. Tack on the loss of Will Fuller V and I’m going to be cautious with Watson for Week 9. Thereafter, the Texans enter a bye and the QB has a shot to really contribute in the second half of the season when he gets his health right, but a modest yet efficient (24 attempts, 139 yards and a TD) line that he put up on the road against Jacksonville feels more realistic for the week ahead.

Sascha Paruk from agrees, noting that, “the Over/Under for Houston/Denver is at a modest 47 points and the Broncos are two-point favorites. That means the Texans are only predicted to score about 22-23 points. When you factor in that Denver’s defense is second in DVOA against the pass but 28th against the run, it’s highly likely that Bill O’Brien crafts a run-heavy game script and Watson has a down week, fantasy-wise.”

Meantime, I’m expecting plenty out of Lamar Miller (18-133). He notched his second straight 100-yard outing and will head into a matchup against the Broncos, who yield the 7th most points to the RB position and have given up two, 200-yard outings in their last four matchups.

Carlos Hyde out-carries T.J. Yeldon in his Jags debut

You may have overlooked this because a) Hyde wasn’t all that productive and b) the Jaguars abandoned the run early (with Yeldon contributing significantly more in the passing game, leading the Jags in receiving) but Carlos Hyde had some opportunities against the Eagles. But, with Jacksonville heading into their post-London bye this week, you’ll want to tuck this away in your memory bank somewhere.

There is speculation that Leonard Fournette will return in Week 10 when Jacksonville takes the field next, but if not I’d be willing to roll the dice on Hyde with an extra two weeks to learn the system. If Fournette is back, I’d expect Yeldon to be the guy that teh team trusts more (than Hyde) in the passing game.

Fitzmagic returns; But the God-winds of change may not stop there

Jameis Winston had an awful day against the Bengals, and the wind frankly has felt like it was out of the team’s sails since Ryan Fitzpatrick’s quick hook upon Winston’s return. That wind came back in Week 8 with Fitzpatrick’s entry mid-way through the game.

The difference in the team and the offensive production was notable… and, curious to some:

The team has gone ahead and named Fitzpatrick their starter for Week 9, though it is possible that Winston gets another crack once the team is out of contention. Ultimately, it may not matter from a fantasy perspective which is under Center moving forward as Winston’s flaws have always been with turnovers and not with moving the ball.

Meantime, Chris Godwin wound up with a healthy seven targets but played second fiddle to Adam Humphries (10 targets) for much of the game. With Fitzpatrick under center, Godwin drew five of his seven targets (and picked up the game tying two point conversion), versus four looks (after six in the first half) for Humphries. Godwin owners will want to keep an eye on the relative snap counts and opportunities next week, though I’d expect him to remain productive as he flashed chemistry with Fitzpatrick early this year.

Russell Wilson is heating up

Wilson, last year’s fantasy QB1, appears to be hitting his stride.

There wasn’t much asked of him this week with the Seahawks taking control in the 2nd Quarter and never looking back, but he had as many TDs (three) as incompletions on his 17 attempts and has been rolling in his last few games. He’ll draw a winnable matchup against the Chargers next week before hitting the road to take on the Rams.

Start your Chiefs

Another one from the learn a lesson from me file. I’ve said in this space before that while you may never know which Chief (or Ram) is in for the Boom week you simply have to start them all because a) you don’t want to miss the boom and b) the floor is generally pretty high as they score often and spread it around.

This week, alas, I benched Sammy Watkins in a FLEX spot.

The week will be remembered for this great play by Kareem Hunt:

But the byline in the tweet might be the more important piece to keep in your your memory. The Chiefs are scoring at an epic pace, and you want to have every piece of that offense you can get.

To my earlier point, this was Watkins’ week among the pass catchers but there wasn’t anything to hurt owners of Tyreek Hill (3/4-70) or Travis Kelce (6/10-79, TD). Start ’em all.

Greg Olsen is back, and Cam likes it that way

Cam Newton played an exceptional second half against the Eagles last week and just scored three touchdowns, adding 52 yards rushing, against a stout Ravens defense. He became just the 2nd QB to score 20+ fantasy points against that Ravens front this year, and is looking like his 2016 self.

That the performance coincides with Greg Olsen’s return to the lineup shouldn’t be a surprise. Olsen went 4/4 on his targets today, finding the endzone:

I’m not taking this tweet at face-value, or at least I think there is a little more depth to the story than 280 characters allow, but it’s clear that Olsen contributes to the QBs success more than just through his receptions and yards. With him back, the needle is pointing up for Newton:

Doug Martin confirms he’s the back to own in Oakland

This news is a week too late for most, but in a game that the Raiders lost by two scores Martin saw the lion’s share of the work against the Colts over passing down back Jalen Richard. Specifically, Martin had 13 carries and made two receptions on his two targets. Richard had just two carries, and while he did see a productive eight targets Martin wasn’t written out of the offense by game flow and should see more predictable use.

He looked quick running the ball, too. Though, there was enough bad to go with the good for Raiders’ fans in keeping with the theme of their season:

Byron Leftwitch gets it

It took a long time for Arizona’s offense to get going, but they looked like they belonged in the NFL in the 2nd half at least. Larry Fitzgerald found the endzone, and David Johnson was split out wide and found some use as a pass catcher.

It wasn’t one for the record books, but did mark Johnson’s highest receiving yardage output on the season (tied) and his second best total yardage. As the team gets to know their new OC and trends more back to its Bruce Arians’ roots it should mean good things to come for both Johnson and Fitzgerald.

Aaron Jones sees a significant carry edge; and gamers still find a reason to complain

One of the more interesting trends for me this season has been the willingness of the fantasy community / arm chair coaches to assume they know what’s best for a backfield based on raw numbers or desired fantasy production. Of course, we’ve always pulled for our guys and lamented when the player we want to score isn’t getting the ball, but it feels particularly detached from football reality this year in some ways.

Specifically, I’m thinking about the conversations around the relative workloads of Frank Gore / Kenyan Drake and Jamaal Williams / Aaron Jones.

This week, Jones was the lead back from the jump (finishing with 12 carries and two targets to Williams’ four and one), and did found the endzone, which should be enough to placate his owners. But, Williams was fed a goal line carry and was sprinkled in throughout the day. Ultimately, there are football reasons for that to happen, and as investors of the Jones and Drakes of the world we have to accept that they’re going to be spelled from time to time, or more often, and occasionally in high leverage situations. As fantasy gamers, that has to factor into your weekly assessment of a player’s potential impact because we’re not running the teams and the truth is we don’t have the chops to.

Early in the game, with Williams getting the short score and Jones being held out of the endzone, there was a lot of this chatter:

But Jones was just as happy as his teammate to be in the endzone:

And ultimately, that’s the point. The teams are trying to score and to win games, particularly the Packers as they fight for their playoff lives in the midst of a tough stretch of schedule. At the end of the day, the decisions are about football. Just ask Todd Gurley:

And a bonus tweet I just got a kick out of…

NFL Week 7 Twitter Takeaways: Michael doesn’t need to Gallup to the top of the waiver wire pile

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly. After a week off, we’re back with our Week 7 NFL Takeaways; twitter style.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was. I’m big into numbers, particularly snap counts and relative target share, but you won’t see an overwhelming amount of that here as there is lots of time to collect that data through the week. You’re just getting some unfiltered thoughts to help you guide your lineups for the week ahead.

Keenan Allen one of many options; warrants a downgrade

Keenan Allen went 5/5 on his targets for 72 yards, and led all receivers in opportunities (Austin Ekeler had 7 looks), however his demeanor in the second half suggested he wasn’t getting any looks. Clearly frustrated, Allen was indeed winning his matchups but Rivers continued to look in other directions. The short summary here is that, unlike last year, Rivers has other targets he trusts at WR with Tyrell Williams putting together another strong campaign and Mike Williams developing. I’m still into Allen as a player and a fantasy contributor, but his upside remains limited as long as he’s facing double teams and the others are making plays. In daily, I’m generally fading him.

Allen knows he erred in his attitude, but I don’t expect the situation to change. If he’s frustrated now after a breakout ’17 campaign he’ll need to stay focused to continue to contribute for fantasy gamers and the Chargers alike.

Andrew Luck: Good to Go

Andrew Luck didn’t get asked to do a whole heck of a lot against the Bills (17/23, 156)– as you probably expected – but he managed to produce another strong fantasy line. In fact, he threw 3+ (4) TDs for the fourth consecutive week. That coincides with, essentially, the time-frame that I wrote him off as still injured.
Real world prospects aside, Luck has been making due with a depleted WR corps all season and looks every bit the part of a fantasy producer. A lot of owners likely drafted him as a second QB this year. If so, I’d look at shopping other options and put my faith in Luck the rest of the way.

Michael Gallup showing promise; just don’t over react

Michael Gallup ran a great route on his first half touchdown, and is very likely the Cowboys receiver you want to own moving forward.

But, just as Dak Prescott fantasy owners had a lump in their collective throats when Tony Romo oversold thoughts of his concussion after a headlong dive in the first quarter he likely over did it in his praise of Gallup. Or, failing that, just don’t let his enthusiasm about Gallup the player convince you he’s worth breaking the bank for as a fantasy asset. At the end of the day, he was the third most targeted Cowboys receiver in this game and while his playing time is increasing in recent weeks, there is no guarantee of fantasy relevance for season long gamers.

At this stage of the season, feel free to spend up to 15-20% of your remaining FAAB if you’re WR needy. Just don’t roll him into the weekly lineup just yet.

Kenyan Drake still splitting reps…

Kenyan Drake made the plays in the run game for the Dolphins this week in a soft matchup, but if I’m a Drake owner I wouldn’t let a reasonable line obscure the fact that he’s still the second man in the rotation. After a tough OT game against the Bears last week the 35-year-old Frank Gore led the committee with 10 carries (for 29 yards) vs. Drake’s six (for 72, and a score). Drake was targeted a healthy eight times as the team was in comeback mode late in the game, but if Gore held a 10:6 carry advantage this week given the extra snaps he logged a week ago I’d expect that to continue in the weeks ahead.

In games where you expect them to trail, the script from this week may well become the norm and tilt in Drake’s favour, but I’m not sure I want to be tied to single digit carries with hopes that he breaks a long run on a regular basis. If you can dangle this particular carrot after a long run and a score, I’d advise you to see what is out there.

Unless, of course, Adam Gase is using his eyes:

I kid, actually, on above. Or at least, I don’t want to be a victim of joining the hyperbole of the masses. We’re all chasing stat lines in fantasy, but a lot more goes into workload and snap count distribution than long runs and TDs. I’ve observed more cases of armchair coaching as it relates to RB workload specifically this season than in recent memory… and… in short, I won’t be pretending I know better than a HC any time soon. Though, I’ll admit, there was plenty of deserved chatter about the relative production of Drake and his backfield opponent Kerryon Johnson in this game, relative to their peers.

Alvin Kamara back on track

A lot of Alvin Kamara owners were feeling anxious coming into the week after watching Mark Ingram dominate the workload in his first game back from suspension. Many, feeling like our friend Ivan here:

Heading into the game, I’d have voted that the Ravens had a good shot of shutting him down at home as well. Given that I watched that defense swam the Titans live last week and that the forecast was for windy day that would lead to a grind it out, between the tackles day. But, when all was said and done, Kamara found the endzone and finished with a 17-12 carry edge with both backs picking up a pair of receptions. There isn’t a whole lot that you can make of that, necessary, and Ingram’s return necessarily puts a ceiling on Kamara’s weekly production but I liked seeing Kamara get fed the ball in a ‘traditional’ Ingram matchup. 19 touches is plenty for him to make an RB1 fantasy living on. Take your fingers off the panic button, folks.

NFL Week 5 Twitter Takeaways: Keke catching on

By now if you’ve been following you know the drill, and if you’re new to the post I’m guessing you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do in this post pretty quickly.

In short… quick hits of subjects of interest that you may have missed from the weekend that was. You won’t necessarily see headlines or big statistical outputs that are likely covered elsewhere… just some moments of intrigue from the weekend that was.

James White is an Elite PPR Performer

This shouldn’t necessarily be new to anyone, but it’s still noteworthy. Sony Michel deservedly earned an 18 carry workload after a breakout performance in Week 4 and carried that over to Week 5. James White saw just two carries.

Any yet, he finished as a top-10 back in .5PPR. White caught 10 balls for 77 yards (on 14 targets) and scored even with Edelman back in the lineup, Gordon scoring, and Gronk reeling in six balls with Michel pacing the ground game. The backfield puzzle in New England that has befuddled fantasy gamers for years might be finally solved. Start ’em if you got ’em.

RB Usage Isn’t Dictated by Fantasy Twitter

It’s easy for us to justify our critique when the coach we’re targeting loses, but if Mason Crosby hadn’t had an absolute meltdown of a day (in a dome, no less) the Packers would have picked up a road win against a division opponent this week. And they’d have done so while rotating carries and snaps among Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.

I’m a Jones investor and believer. Regardless of my shares, or your own personal stakes, it’s hard to suggest anyone else on the roster is a more effective rusher of the football. But, that’s not all that goes into playing time at teh position. No matter how much we want it, Jones isn’t running away with the workload, and it doesn’t sound like Mike McCarthy is going to change that any time soon.

Until we see the results – and that may mean until Jones improves in pass protection or other less statistically obvious areas that his coach is looking for – owners would be advised to treat Jones as the ~10 touch back that he is, and not place him into lineups with hopes for something greater. That may well come in due course, but it’s not here now. I learned my lesson this week, and hope you will as well.

Again, even when we appear to be right, fantasy owners aren’t setting the snap count in Green Bay:

Todd Gurley looks like a great DFS play in Week 6

He’ll cost you an arm and a leg, and touting the league’s best all around back who is its touchdown leader as a great play isn’t exactly a dangerous limb to step out on… but, in case you’re still buying the brand name of the Broncos defense this nugget is worth considering:

Though, we should give Isaiah Crowell credit where it is due.

That stat isn’t necessarily actionable, as Crowell is 77% owned, but it’s an eye opener nonetheless. The Jets got the win, but Sam Darnold had another rough overall outing, completing 10 of 22 passes so it doesn’t look like the box will be any less stacked next week. But, it may not matter. I’d be very comfortable starting Crowell as an upside RB2 moving forward.

Start him or sell him, @chrismeaney:

It wasn’t all bad for Darnold, mind you. Last week I read a lot into the work that Quincy Enunwa was getting. And, he still tied for the team lead with five targets, but he didn’t make a single catch. Robby Anderson tied him with five looks of his own, and you’re aware of the two big plays by now. That position is worth keeping an eye on in the weeks ahead, to see if the trust Anderson seems to be earning keeps him relevant moving forward:

George Kittle got it done again this week

You may genuinely have missed this one as a seven point standard league day doesn’t jump off the board at you, but it was another solid day from George Kittle.

The 49ers found themselves playing catchup for much of the second half and C.J. Beathard threw 54 passes which won’t be in the game script every week but seven of those 54 balls were thrown in George Kittle‘s direction. He’s going to continue to get work and has been remarkably consistent so far – with 75 or more yards in four of five games. It should continue, as he is proving to be one of Beathard’s favorite targets.

It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Pierre Garcon (Marquise Goodwin was out this week, mind you), as he’s more the possession type for the 9ers.

Chris Carson returned to lead the Seattle backfield

Russell Wilson threw just 21 passes in a game where the Seahawks put up 31 points. Hoping to run the ball to keep Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense off the field should not come as a great surprise, but doing so effectively did given how poor the Seahawks have been at running the ball in recent years.

They may have found something with the duo of Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Davis scored a TD a week after his breakout performance, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that Carson rushed for an impressive 116 yards on 19 carries (vs. 12, for 68 from Davis). Carson saw one target to Davis’ two for 20 total opportunities.

They won’t share 31 rush attempts on a regular basis, but a rough 1.5:1 ratio seems about right. It also leaves Rashaad Penny in the cold. He didn’t play a single snap this week and can be released in most leagues.

Be wary of Will Fuller

He always carries a bit of a boom/bust label, and there was no boom in Week 5. He came into the game nursing a hamstring injury so I’m not hitting teh panic button by any stretch, but I’m mindful that quiet weeks could come more often that owners would like moving forward.

Keke Coutee made a nice play on the his short TD and caught six balls on seven targets overall, after a week in which he made the most receptions for a player in his first game in NFL history. There was a TON of buzz around him coming out of camp, and two games into his career it seems that Coutee is ready to live up to that.

Fuller is a unique talent in his own right, of course, but for a player that relies on a long reception or two to define his fantasy value any targets that a consistent 3rd receiver behind him squirrels away makes that big play less likely to happen from a volume perspective. This week, he saw just three targets on 44 Deshaun Watson pass attempts.

Certainly he’s getting enough work to cut into Fuller’s production and perhaps to deliver some sustained value of his own:

NFL Week 4 Twitter Takeaways: Trubisky takes off; Sony Michel makes major strides

Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes with some support from trending tweets, must-follow profiles or random online chatter. Whatever fits.

These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed as the week’s action unfolded.

We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both. You’ll see some early-week numbers to bolster points where available, but this is intended to be a ‘first reaction’ piece with time in the week ahead to research things from a variety of sources.

Here they are for Week 4, in no particular order.

Atlanta, Pittsburgh defenses continue to make everyone a must start

Most NFL coaches and fantasy analysts alike take a look at a season in four week chunks, suggesting that any tendencies and/or overall performances are hard to assess in smaller segments. Well, through four Weeks Atlanta and Pittsburgh have been absoultely horrific in all phases.

The Falcons were dealt some significant blows with season-ending injuries in their secondary, and even with Takkarist McKinley back in the lineup this week they offered very little resistance to the Bengals. Atlanta did a fair job against Nick Foles in Week 1 with a full squad, but since then has allowed three straight 300-yard; three TD passers. Andy Dalton got Tyler Boyd to triple digits and found A.J. Green way too open for the game winning score after Giovani Bernard punched two in earlier in the contest. Previously, Atlanta had given up a ton of points to backs as pass catchers. Of interest, Boyd – who we noted last week was serving as a safety blanket for Dalton – nearly doubled Green in targets with 15 on 41 Dalton pass attempts. He now leads the team (with a modest 33-31 edge over Green). The Bengals won’t face the Falcons every week, but Boyd has sufficient volume and the offense looks good enough (losing Tyler Eifert won’t help) to lock him in as an every week WR3.

Meanwhile, Matt Ryan was dealing again and found Calvin Ridley for two more scores. Ridley is legit, folks. I’ll admit, I faded him in daily games assuming he’d be over played and couldn’t possibly match last week’s production. Alas, he nearly did. Ridley runs great routes and with Julio Jones still producing across from him will continue to face softer coverage. All that said… I may be thinking the same thoughts next week. After all, he was third on the team in targets behind Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Ryan, meanwhile, will have to sling it all year. You want to be on both sides of Atlanta and Pittsburgh games moving forward.

As for Pittsburgh, they clamped down against the Ravens in the second half – at least as far as touchdowns go – but they still gave Joe Flacco his best statistical line in his resurgent season and allowed John Brown to beat them twice over the top.

I remain all in on opposing offenses against New Orleans as well. The Giants played dink and dunk all day and really didn’t exploit the issues that the Saints so clearly have in the secondary, but Sterling Shepard went 10/10 on his targets , and that actually represented an improvement on =passer rating allowed for CB P.J. Williams.

A changing of the guard in Chicago?

After Week 3, coach Matt Nagy urged patience with QB Mitch Trubisky‘s overall production and explained that it was going to take some time for things to ‘click’ with the offense. It turns out that that time was six days. There will be a lot of buzz about Trubisky this week, and deservedly so, but that shouldn’t take your attention away from the real fantasy news – Tarik Cohen is in the driver’s seat in the backfield.

I’d expect Howard to still get his, and he wound up with 11 carries in this one (though, virtually all his work came in the 2nd half with the game well in hand), but the offense looked much better with Cohen driving the car. The sell-high window on Howard has closed. Owners should expect to find themselves in a time-share scenario, at best. All told, Cohen wound up with the above-noted 20 touches on 13 carries and 7/8 as a pass catcher.

It is also noteworthy that Taylor Gabriel (7/7/104/2TD) led all non-Cohen’s in targets when this offense looked the best it had all season. The shifty receiver can line up all over the field for Nagy’s Bears and should continue to get looks in what intends to be a dynamic, innovative offense. He’s had seven or more targets in three of the team’s four games, so he clearly has a role on the offense. But, until today had produced a max of 7.5 YPR and 34 yards. That boom or bust output is likely to continue but he is as good a ‘boom candidate’ as any in Chicago this year.

Aaron Jones is the back to own in Green Bay

Much like the Cohen-Howard conversation from above, there is still room for some shared distribution, but Aaron Jones was the best back on the field for Green Bay this week. Decisive and explosive when running the ball, Jones picked up right where he left off last year in an impressive performance against Buffalo.

He was the third back to get into the game for the Packers, with both Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery getting carries before him but when he touched the ball he was easily the most effective. This is likely to be a three-headed monster moving forward but as he continues to be the top performer I expect Jones to take over. I’d be surprised if he didn’t draw the start in Week 5, and to be working in the 16-20 touch range by the second half.

Seattle RB “Rotation”

There are two ways to look at Mike Davis‘ breakout performance this weekend and the subsequent news that he has worked his way into the ‘rotation’ at RB.

One would be to laud Davis for getting it done behind a Seattle line that few runners have succeeded with in recent years; and the other would be to run for the hills when you hear the word rotation. For me, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It seems fairly clear that Davis has stepped ahead of Rashaad Penny who will be given time to acclimate to the offense, and he warrants an add if you have the roster space as a result. But, indeed, it will be a rotation and the Seahawks still rank right around the middle of the league in rushing offense. With just 105 YPG to go around and carries split among all three tailbacks I wouldn’t plan to hitch my wagon to Davis’ fortunes any time soon.

I may have buried Andrew Luck‘s arm a little prematurely

Stephen Holder may have a point here. Luck looked the part in OT against the Texans had the Indianapolis offense performed well in the second half in particular. A few more games like this and Luck will look like a steal, while last week I expressed significant concerns about his durability.

Keke Coutee had a debut to remember

Elsewhere in that game, Keke Coutee caught 11 balls in his debut with the Texans offense showing some signs of life. Of course, he did it with Will Fuller leaving early due to injury, but Coutee was picking up some hype early in camp this year and a double-digit catch debut is clearly nothing to sneeze at. He’s worth an add in all formats.

Sony Michel could develop into an every week RB1

The Patriots dismantled the Miami Dolphins at home this week with a balanced offensive attack, and Sony Michel was a feature of that. I was hard on Michel last week, deservedly so, for a number of tentative runs against the Lions that ultimately led to a hole closing quickly and a carry for no gain. Those runs were still present against the Dolphins… but there were enough positive carries (particularly on rushes to the outside) mixed in that I’m feeling much more bullish on Michel than I was at this time last week.

Of his 25 carries, four went for no gain or a loss while four went for 10+ yards (and two more for 9). He’s still finding his way, and I’m hopeful that the hesitation we’re seeing will dissipate as he gains more confidence. There’s still a lot of upside here.

And, I suppose it follows logically that he just needed some time after missing much of his first training camp.

Nick Chubb is another back eating into the leader’s touches

Though, in this case I’m not willing to anoint Chubb the carry leader moving forward. His two-TD debut is the stuff of legends:

But, Carlos Hyde has been productive with Baker Mayfield behind centre and is the veteran presence that the offense needs. Again, Chubb’s two long scampers for scores in a barn burner against the Raiders were a lot of fun to watch but Hyde churned out a workmanlike 82 yards on 22 carries and scored what most thought would be the winning touchdown. Chubb had just three carries, bringing his season total to ten. No doubt this outing earned him more work, but I’d expect Hyde to continue to outsnap him by a fair amount. At least in the short term.

Meantime,  while we’re on this game… this is more just a personal observation than anything else, but I’ve heard a lot of conversation dwelling on Baker Mayfield‘s four turnovers in his first start. For me, I take his 295 yards and the offense’s 42 points as an incredibly positive sign, particularly on the road in the Black Hole.

NFL Week 3 Twitter Takeaways

Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes with some support from trending tweets, must-follow profiles or random online chatter. Whatever fits.

These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed as the week’s action unfolded.

We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both. You’ll see some early-week numbers to bolster points where available, but this is intended to be a ‘first reaction’ piece with time in the week ahead to research things from a variety of sources.

Here they are for Week 3, in no particular order.

Baker can sustain the Browns’ fantasy stars

The names may evolve over the course of the season, particularly as rookies Antonio Callaway and Nick Chubb bite into the playbook a little further but for now, particularly as someone who had dynasty shares of each before their change of address this offseason, is how things panned out for Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde after Baker Mayfield stepped into the offense.

Hyde and Landry had been reasonably productive from a points-scored standpoint in the first two weeks but didn’t look like elite playmakers as part of the Tyrod-led-offense in Cleveland. With Mayfield at the helm, it looked like an NFL calibre offense with two stars producing alongside their Quarterback.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the rookie QB had no reps with the starters before taking the field with them mid-way through Week 3. My initial reaction is both pleased that he was able to find chemistry with his two stars so quickly, and mindful that he may find ways to distribute the ball a little more evenly after getting those practice reps in. For now, though, Hyde and Landry look like very safe plays with Mayfield under center.

Sure, narrative twitter saw it coming with Hyde:

But I think it is critical that we note that on a day when he showed up to the stadium late after awaiting the birth of hid child, he was all over the field for the Browns. Hyde had 23 carries and three targets vs. four total opportunities for Duke Johnson and two for Nick Chubb. He also had three carries inside the five. At least for the time being, he’s as locked in as they come as his team’s RB1.

Calvin Ridley’s coming out party… presents a buy low on Julio Jones?

There is a lot to unpack from the Saints / Falcons game. For starters, neither defense (unless Atlanta can get healthy and figure it out) presents any resistance. Start ’em all against this pair of NFC South Rivals. Beyond that, Calvin Ridley is good. Really good. In fact, maybe one day he’ll be great. He’s fast (4.43-40), and moreover is already playing ‘quick’ suggesting a strong grasp of life in the NFL for a veteran of three games.

So, go on ahead and be excited about Ridley who was open over-the-top multiple times against the Saints, but don’t let it cloud your judgement on Julio Jones. I mean… there is this nugget:

But, Jones is still an elite NFL WR who was held just shy of 100 yards this week. If anyone in year league is feeling tentative about the ‘coming out’ of the new rookie WR impacting Jones’ season long production I encourage you to make a move.

As for Atlanta’s Defense…

Again, they’re not looking great with a lot of losses along the line and in the secondary. If Takk McKinley is able to make his way back to the field in Week 4 things should improve, but this is a unit down some important bodies that might be picked on throughout the year.

Through two weeks, they are certainly being exploited by pass catching running backs.

That’s something worth knowing about Giovani Bernard, if Joe Mixon is unable to go next week. And, it’s worth exploiting. Though… as we tend to overreact to small sample sizes in September it is important to note that McCaffery and Kamara were already going to see a ton of targets against Atlanta and all opponents. Bernard, for his part, had nine targets against the Panthers this week and could be in line for a similar or growing workload against Atlanta in Week 4.

Kamara, meantime, seems to be holding up just fine as an every down back. This week, he had 16 carries for a 4.1 average and an obnoxious 20 targets (with 15 receptions).

And again, as much as I’m preaching to approach Bernard with a grain of salt this week… it’s noteworthy that teams certainly appear to be targeting the position against the Falcons:

Mark Ingram will be back by Week 5 and should cut into that silly workload a little bit, but Kamara hasn’t shown any reason through three weeks to suggest that he can’t handle bell cow duties. If you own Ingram, it’s worth hanging onto him. He’s been a highly productive back in recent years and will be in line for significant work if Kamara misses any time, but… if you’re counting on him to save your fantasy backfield in two weeks’ time you’re going to be highly disappointed.

Ryan Tannehill had another nice game

Tannehill has now thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season, including a rain-soaked mess to start the year against Tennessee. He appears healthy has has a full command of Adam Gase’s offense. At a minimum, you may want to consider him as a bye-week replacement in the coming weeks. Or, even a steady fill in for Jimmy G depending on how deep your league is. He’s won 10 of his last 11 starts. Oh, and the 3-0 Dolphins roll into New England last week. One… of interest given the Pats’ early struggles. Two… we’ve seen little reason not to like the Dolphins, their QB, and their speedy receivers who can exploit a slower defense.

Andrew Luck is going to have to turn the corner soon

One QB in the Eagles-Colts tilt was coming back from a leg injury, the other from an issue with his throwing shoulder, so I suppose it stands to reason that one looked much more like their former self this week in Philadelphia, but… I didn’t see a whole lot from Andrew Luck to make me confident that he’ll suddenly turn it on.

While this week’s game marked his first without a turnover, it was decidedly average. Luck did just enough to lose and threw for an average of 4.1 YPA. Moreover, he was taken off the field for the final deep ball of the game. If you believe the team, there is nothing wrong with him, but of course they have said that before…

I’m sure that the logic here has to do with not exposing his shoulder to further injury… if not, it means he simply doesn’t have the arm strength. In either case,  it isn’t good news. He could build that over the course of the season, but with more than a year off from throwing the ball we certainly have to hope that it has to do with building up arm strength more than protecting a sore arm.

Either way, the QB doesn’t have enough right now to make any of his weapons all that exciting. TY Hilton had scored in both of the team’s first two games and is picking up double digit targets, but if Luck continues his low YPA and otherwise underwhelming fantasy performance in the coming weeks I’d look at trying to deal Hilton off his next big game.

Not convinced? This:

A pair of young receivers are earning their QB’s trust

Tyler Boyd stayed hot, with 132 yards on seven targets from Andy Dalton. An interesting tidbit was shared after Week 2, noting that Andy Dalton looks his way while under pressure:

And that is exactly what happened again this week with Boyd running open on a broken play and finding the endzone:

The 2016 2nd round draft pick seems to be ‘getting it’ through three weeks. AJ Green will continue to demand a significant number of targets, but Boyd seems to be earning his QBs trust and is showing that he can be counted on by fantasy gamers in a Bengals offense that has been more productive than we expected through two weeks.

Meantime, Mike Williams of the Chargers is showing that his injury marred rookie year was spent productively learning the pro game. He tied Keenan Allen for the team lead with seven targets in Week 3 and made good on four of them, including two TD grabs.

Coming into the game,  he had caught seven of his eight targets on the year. Keenan Allen (who lost another fumble this week) will still get his, but this was the type of game analysts suggested that Williams had in him when pointing on the red zone gap left by Hunter Henry’s injury. In these early days, it looks like Boyd is getting more consistent work, with some of Williams’ production in Week 3 due to the attention paid to Allen by the Rams’ tough secondary (with Williams’ the main beneficiary of injuries that occurred throughout the game) but both WRs are proving their worth in the early going.

While Los Angeles continues to thrive on offense

Alongside Kansas City, two of the most innovative offenses in the game. It seems that owners of most of the fantasy talent on both sides will watch games this year with bated breath wondering who the production will flow through (is this a Hill or a Watkins week?; Can I trust Kupp in the redzone or is it going through Cooks?).

My best advice at this point? Start ’em all, and enjoy the show. There will indeed be weeks where one star or another lays an egg because his teammate went off, but outside of the most relevant player-specific matchups it’s going to be tough to tell and you’ll want to be as attached to both offenses as you can.

And, you may wish to divest yourself of shares in offenses on the other side of the spectrum. The Chiefs are getting it done with great play from Patrick Mahomes and a playbook that has some of the best spacing in the receiving game in the NFL; and the Rams continue to build on the innovation that made Sean McVay the coach of the year last year.

Meantime… many other offenses simply look stale. Dallas springs to mind immediately. But, they aren’t the only offender. Whether it’s Rosen or Bradford, tweeps have been rightfully lambasting Mike McCoy’s offensive decision making.

It’s true, and it is becoming evident. If you’ve got a space on your bench, why not invest a little early in a player like, say, Anthony Miller or Taylor Gabriel (who had 10 targets this week, though he did admittedly little with them) rather than hang onto Allen Hurns hoping he emerges from the cluster of WR3s trying to masquerade as top dogs in Dallas?

As it relates to Dallas specifically, Zeke may have lost a fumble and made a few other questionable plays, but he did have a few long runs and put up his best stat line of the season in Week 3. He’s been a noteworthy slow starer throughout his NFL career and may be showing signs of turning the corner.

John Brown is consistently producing

I was a hard no on John Brown coming into the season. Injury history, new and uncertain offense, deep threat only… etc.

And, I was wrong.

He had a very under the radar game against the Broncos this week, but was targeted nine times from Joe Flacco (second only to Michael Crabtree’s 10) and picked up five receptions for 83 yards. Frankly, for a player like Brown who tends to rely on long balls and deep TDs to produce for fantasy owners a modest 5/9-83 line is as good a sign as any. He’s a safe WR3 as it stands right now.

Le’Veon Bell prepares to ride off into the sunset

James Conner looked mortal against a tough Tampa front (running out of the gun all night, mind you) but contributed in the passing game and continued his serviceable start to the season on Monday night. He looks like a back that Pittsburgh can build an offense around. He doesn’t look like Bell, mind you, who remains a unique talent. But, his value has been undermined by a strong start. Meanwhile, the Jets have expressed interest in a trade and for his part Bell is making it clear he’s open to moving on.

The Jets have the cap space to give him what he wants – though, it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next four years if they do make a trade and commit to a special back who might impact the team’s ability to put special players around him while others in the league save at the position. Having Darnold on a rookie contract helps, mind you.

Meantime, Peyton Barber showed a little life  in his limited action for the Buccaneers and Ronald Jones III remains inactive. So, the end might not be in sight after all. All that said, the Bucs have been a prolific offense through three weeks and he’s been fantasy irrelevant… so, you probably don’t want to hitch your prospects to that wagon any time soon.

Bonus: A Fun Matt Breida Fact?

There is very little fun about the Jimmy Garoppolo injury, but if you’re a Matt Breida owner I wouldn’t panic. Yet. This tidbit suggests his PPR value may hold after the injury:

Rest assured, San Francisco’s overall offensive efficiency will suffer. But, Beathard looks like the type of QB who keeps an eye on his backs.

NFL Week 2 Twitter Takeaways

Each week of the NFL season I’ll aim to give you my quick hit rundowns and fantasy worthy notes. These are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to highlight things that may have been missed.

We’ll mix in a dose of twitter takes to support the observations in an effort to give you a rundown from my own views on the week that was supported by the best in the industry. Or trolls. Or both.

I believe an awful lot in numbers, in particular relative target and opportunity share within an offense, so you’ll see a fair bit of that injected but the ultimate intent of this article is simply to tell you what I took away from the weekend’s games. There will be a week ahead to look at matchups and to substantiate further with facts and figures.

Here goes… in no particular order.

JuJu Smith Schuster might be the WR to start in Pittsburgh

In season long formats you’ve already got your hands on either Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith Schuster, but for DFS gamers its worth noting that the 2nd year receiver has been getting a lot of attention from Big Ben through two weeks. Opponents have to pick their poison with the Pittsburgh offense and, rightly so, they’ve been keying on Antonio Brown to start the year. AB is still making plays and I don’t expect that to stop, but JuJu has proven incredibly apt at taking advantage of the space that that creates in the defense and has carried over some momentum from late last season into 2018.

If you’re into reading lips, it seems that Brown doesn’t like the attention that his fellow receiver is getting. And that Ben doesn’t care an awful lot:

And the Pittsburgh media has taken note. For his part, Brown hasn’t taken too kindly to critics.

None of this noise is relevant to the product on the field and please don’t mistake this as me suggesting that the demise of Brown as a fantasy stud is near… just saying, if you see a plus matchup on the slate for the Steelers I’d dig a little deeper into the numbers before I auto-add AB.

The Chiefs are a Fantasy Buffet

You don’t need me telling you this as it relates to the offense, and there are much brighter people breaking down Patrick Mahomes‘ early career dominance (I will say I’m impressed with his ability to read coverages, and to choose the ‘right’ throw to fit a situation, he’s got more zip  on his throws than just about any QB but knows when to execute a touch pass as well). So, I’ll focus on the defense.

Unless this two week start to his career as a starter is some kind of beautiful  mirage (and indeed, 10 TDs through two weeks is not going to continue) we can count on the Chiefs to put up points all season. We can’t, however, count on their defense to hold opponents in check with similar ferocity. In fact, the unit has been a sieve through two weeks. Admittedly, that comes against two strong offenses and they’ll eventually get Eric Berry on the field, but I would expect Chiefs’ games to approach 60+ total points regularly.

Last season, the Chiefs yielded top-8 FPPG to QBs and top-2 to WRs. They haven’t looked like a unit prepared to reverse the trend through the season’s first two weeks.

The moral here, pick both sides of their games. Particularly opposing pass catchers. Looking ahead to Week 3, I wouldn’t be surprised to see KC find another early lead and force Jimmy G and company to the air. Goodwin (if he returns), Garcon and company are all worth starting.

Michael Thomas is a top-3 WR in almost any matchup

For all the talk about the pieces that New Orleans has added this offseason, Thomas continues to be the lead dog. He posted a ridiculous 12 catch (13 target) 89 yard line with a score to go with his 16 reception Week 1. He won’t average 14 grabs a week but the passing offense runs through him. In a week where the Cleveland Browns’ offense did a great job of keeping Drew Brees out of rhythm and otherwise causing problems for the Saints moving the ball – and by the way, they may do that to more teams than you originally thought this year, this young D is no joke – Thomas still found a way to get his.

With volume like that, and with the trust of his future Hall of Fame QB Thomas is as matchup proof as they come. Again, he won’t catch 14 balls a week the rest of the way, but I’d be willing to take wagers on him setting the single season reception record as long as he stays healthy.

Quincy Enunwa appears to be Sam Darnold‘s Favorite Target
Which is important for his own value, but also may have an impact on Robby Anderson‘s value over the course of the season.

Analysts were on top of the trend of Robby Anderson‘s relative target share after the Week 1 distribution against the Lions, and it didn’t get any better in Week 2.

Anderson scored in Week 2 and has now done so in both games this season, but he’s had just six targets through the team’s two contests vs. Enunwa’s 21. Terrelle Pryor has been in the mix as well, and at least for the early part of the season it seems that Anderson’s weekly targets and therefore his fantasy stability are significantly more at risk.

The shine is coming off Peyton Barber

It may have been missed in the midst of another Tampa Bay offensive outburst; and really Fitzmagic is going to dominate the news cycle for the team this week… not for another 400 yard, four TD performance, but simply for this:

And yet, despite a big day for Tampa through the air that should have opened up a few holes Barber struggled on the ground. Ronald Jones III was inactive yet again, but a strong preseason will only carry Barber so far.

He dominated the workload this week (16 carries vs. five for Jacquizz Rodgers) but netted just 22 yards, bringing his season total to 35 for 91 through two games. And, he’s not being used in the passing game either (just two targets). If you’re a Barber owner you’ve likely already taken note, but the message here for now is not to get distracted by a hot start from the Bucs, and ultimately to keep an eye on Jones who could find his way into the lineup before too long.

As for Fitzpatrick, you can stunt like that when you ball like this:

Get him on your roster. The Bucs have a tough decision to make in a few weeks and there is no guarantee he starts the rest of the season, but it’s worth riding this wave.

Kenny Golladay looks like an every-week start

Golladay, put simply, looks the part. We’ve all been attentive to a hopeful year two breakout from Corey Davis that has yet to fully materialize and yet Golladay has shone through two weeks. He’s still available in a high percentage of leagues (38% available in Y!) and might be someone you can still trade for with Marvin Jones and Golden Tate continuing to get looks, but, Golladay is flashing significant upside through two weeks.

The Lions look like they’re going to continue to (have to) pass the ball plenty this year and his 21 targets over the first two weeks of the season could be a sign of things to come.

David Johnson is in trouble

Friend of the site Chris Meaney points out that the buy-low window on Johnson exists, and he’s probably right, but I wouldn’t give up anywhere near his draft day cost to acquire him.

Johnson is running behind a struggling offensive line on a team that looks like it has no offensive identity. And one that seems to have forgotten how to use him.

Don’t assume that Josh Rosen will be the key to him figuring it out, either. For one, as rough as it has been for Sam Bradford to start the season the team doesn’t appear to be in a rush to start the rookie QB.

For another, it would be foolish to underestimate the impact of Bruce Arians’ retirement on the team in general and the offense specifically. While the below tweet represents just one ‘fun fact’ of the change in use that Johnson is seeing so far in 2018, it highlights that he is playing in a different scheme. And, so far… no good:

Ultimately, Johnson should find a way to stay involved in the receiving game and expand (he had nine targets in Week 1 so certainly this week’s two looks is an aberration) but we are seeing a lack of creativity from the offense and a general poor looking team overall. The latter will continue over the course of the year, and it makes Johnson hard to trust among the elite RB1s.

Update: this almost hilarious usage chart showing his virtually-exclusive inside runs from Week 2 suggest that the path to fixing the problem might be easier than you think. That said, a few shots to run outside don’t solve the overall offensive woes that look to be destined to plague the Cardinals through two weeks.

Week 3 NFL Ranks 2017

Last week was a good one here inside the Locker Room, finishing as Fantasy Pros’ 5th most accurate expert for Week 2. That didn’t translate into any DFS cash, mind you, but I’ll still take the outcome and try to keep it rolling into Week 3.

Most of you know my strategy isn’t particularly complex… understand matchups, and understand a team’s relative distribution of workload. Knowing that RBA gets 80 percent of his team’s work and he matches up against DEFB that yields the 3rd most FPPG to backs allows you to make a clean, straightforward decision. There’s more nuance than that, but it is a very good place to start. With that in mind, this week’s ranks are introduced with a review of changing fantasy depth charts throughout the league to help you make your start/sit decisions.

  • I’ve been lower than most on Joe Mixon throughout the offseason and into the year, but he’s led the trio of backs in Cincinnati by a very small margin in both each of the team’s two games, and with the change in offensive coordinator I’m expecting them to pick a back and ride him. Or at least, to not rotate the three players to the point that there is no tempo to their games. I think you see Mixon, who averaged 4.0 YPC in Week 2, assert himself this week and start to pull away from the others in terms of workload as we head into October.
  • Kerwynn Williams wasn’t particularly effective for Arizona, while Chris Johnson gave the run game a bit of a spark. He finished with an 11-9 edge in carries and should grow that margin this week. If you’re desperate for an RB start / add, he’s certainly worth a look. According to The Daily Audible, Johnson is the 24th ranked RB this week and Williams is the 33rd. 
  • If you’re a Blount owner, you won’t need me to tell you that he didn’t have a single carry last week. I’d expect him to maintain a role of some sort in the offense, but through two weeks it is clear that Darren Sproles is the only viable fantasy back in that offense. He’s hit double digit opportunities (carries+targets) in both games so far, and while that’s nothing to write home about it’s at least consistent opportunity which isn’t always easy to find on offenses these days.
  • I’ve been banging the Kendall Wright drum all season, and I was happy to see his double digit target week against the Bucs. I’ve also noted five looks for Deonte Thompson, however, and made a speculative add in a few deeper leagues. With limited options available and zero pedigree associated with Josh Bellamy I’d encourage you to do the same.
  • Allen Hurns, a waiver wire gem I advocated for a week ago, got his work this past week and scored a TD. But, I’d note that Marqise Lee had 12 targets and was used consistently throughout the game, while Hurns had just seven and most of that came in the second half while the game was getting away from the Jags. Now, Jacksonville looks like they’re going to let their fair share of games get away from them, but in the early going Lee looks like the best bet for consistent volume.

Week 3 NFL Ranks 2017