Ya know… It’s weeks like THIS where all I want to do is whine and complain over the lack of talent. The fact that the 2017 football season is without Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Deshaun Watson, etc. Because this week was such garbage. You’ve probably seen the tweet about the team you could assemble with all the players that are currently on IR. It’s pretty impressive and unfortunate that this season has lost so many great players.
By the numbers the Rams have been near the best offense in football. And there is deservedly plenty of excitement around the team. But Roberts Woods?! Seriously?! Eight catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns?! We’ve reached the twilight zone people. Or if you’re a millennial (like me) we’ve made it to the upside down. Nothing makes sense anymore. That will be what the 2017 fantasy football season is known for. It’s frustrating, mind boggling, and downright absurd. But these are the cards we’ve been dealt… So here we go.
The Cowboys are in Purgatory
To be completely honest, I struggled for 10 minutes to think of the word “purgatory.” I was looking up Inception and Family Guy references for the word “purgatory” cause I know they were referenced in those pieces of media, but I eventually figured it out! But Dak and the Cowboys are lost without Zeke. His talent as a running back is hard to match and Dallas certainly missed him on Sunday. If you want to think outside the box for players that might be of value to pick up then Rod Smith is your guy. And that’s not because he’s talented. But if game flow keeps going against Dallas then Smith is the guy to target. He was the RB on the field when Dallas was attempting to come back in the second half. He’s the garbage time RB essentially. He had one carry for zero yards, but did catch four passes on six targets. Keep an eye on the snap counts article that comes out later this week to see how the snaps in the Dallas backfield break down.
But seriously, this was an offensive struggle for Dallas. And it wasn’t just without Zeke. They were without starting left tackle Tyron Smith and Adrian Clayborn sacked Prescott six times by himself. Dak’s day was saved by a rushing touchdown, but aside from that it was a very underwhelming day. Several pundits saw this as an opportunity for Dak and Dez to finally get on the same page and develop some chemistry, but that just wasn’t the case. Dez caught three balls for 39 yards on seven targets. And what did picking up Zeke’s immediate backups get you? Between Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden they both rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries. And I’m being generous with the yardage because McFadden technically rushed for negative yards. Dallas faces off against the Eagles, Chargers, and Redskins in their next three games. If I’m “projecting” matchups going forward I’d say that Dallas will be playing from behind quite a bit and Rod Smith should be added in PPR formats.
I’ve never been a big Tyrod guy. I know depending on the matchup he’s a popular play in DFS because of his ability to run the ball and blah blah blah. But I’ve really never been a big Tyrod Taylor fan. But I am a man of objectivity and transparency. To be fair since he’s been the starter in Buffalo he averages a little over 200 passing yards per game, but he can get anywhere between 20-40 rushing yards on a weekly basis so he’s capable of salvaging his fantasy value with his legs. The reasoning behind buying into Taylor is that he’s coming off of a pretty bad game against the Saints at home. It was just a bad beat against a good defense. Don’t look into it too much. It’s week ten and the fantasy trade deadline is quickly approaching. Tyrod is the kind of QB to target whose value has probably dropped a bit. If you’re in a 2-QB or a Superflex league you might be able to get this guy at an affordable price. From weeks 13-16 the Bills face off against the Patriots (twice), Dolphins, and Colts. Currently those three opposing defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in terms of points allowed while New England and Indianapolis give up the most yards per game. I know I’ve touting buying into Carson Palmer and Cam Newton so far (still stand by Newton BTW), but T-Mobile is the flavor of the week right now for me.
There are reasons to buy into Allen, but there are also reasons to sell him. His snaps certainly haven’t dropped by any means and for a player with an injury history, that’s an encouraging sign. But his targets somewhat fell off. From Weeks 1-6 he averaged a little over ten targets per game. Since October 22nd Allen has just 19 targets over his last three games. He hasn’t scored since the first game of the season and he hasn’t recorded more than 70 receiving yards since week four. He also only has one game with six or more receptions all year. Now there are some reasons his targets have dropped recently. Over their last three games they’ve played the Broncos, Patriots, and Jaguars. Denver isn’t what they used to be on defense, but they still shut Allen down. The Patriots are notorious for taking away the opposing offense’s best weapon. And the Jaguars have possibly the best secondary in the league. So Allen is a bit of a buy low candidate. He has WR1 upside despite putting out WR2/WR3 numbers. The schedule opens up for the Chargers and Allen should be able to get back on track with games against the Cowboys, Browns, Chiefs, and Jets on the horizon.
You know… It’s a Love/Hate relationship with Martavis Bryant. It’s completely frustrating, but I’m no longer placing the blame on him. He’s out of the “dog house” as claimed by Mike Tomlin earlier this week. Yes, I’ve talked about the Steelers, more specifically Bryant ad nauseam this year but they have tried to get him the ball. When he wasn’t requesting trades, tweeting nonsense on social media, or pissing off the coaching staff, they have tried to get him the ball downfield. This past Sunday he was targeted downfield despite the fact he and Ben failed to connect, but the effort is there. He is the bigger “deep threat” the Steelers need, but what use is he if Big Ben can’t effectively get the ball to him? Not to mention this was vintage Roethlisberger on the road where he threw for just 236 yards. Over his last four games Roethlisberger is only throwing the ball (on average) 27-28 times. The volume of pass attempts needs to go up for Bryant to be relevant, but at the same time there are quite a few mouths to feed in this offense especially with the emergence of Juju Smith-Schuster. I might be delusional, but I’ll never give up on Martavis Bryant. “I wish I knew how to quit you!” – Jack Twist
The Saints D/ST Is Legitimate
Maybe it’s just the stigma of the Saints notoriously having a terrible defense, but it took me a while to come around. It’ll be like when the Browns eventually/hopefully get a franchise quarterback it’ll take us all forever to buy into it. They’ll win some games and do well and it’ll be right in front of our eyes, but we just won’t acknowledge the reality of the situation. Because we just aren’t used to it! But the Saints defense is awesome. Over their seven-game winning streak they’ve held six of their opponents to 17 points or less. Not to mention in the one game during their winning streak where the Lions put up 38 points, Detroit scored on a punt return and a pick six. So those points don’t count too terribly against the defense, BUT in that same game the Saints D/ST had three touchdowns so it sort of balanced out.
Coming into this week the Saints were ranked eighth in DVOA. The emergence of Marshon Lattimore has certainly helped the Saints secondary. New Orleans has been in need of a shutdown cornerback for quite some time and it appears they’ve found one. Lattimore has helped the Saints give up just 442 passing yards over their last four games. Yes, just a few years ago this secondary could get burned for that amount in one game. But they’re definitely shutting teams down through the air. After two horrible performances to start the year, the Saints defense is coming around and should be owned going forward despite some worrisome matchups.
Is Austin Ekeler worth being picked up? Maybe if you’re desperate in a 16-team league, he might be worth a flyer. This isn’t all that fantasy relevant, the kid just has a great story. And trust me I really tried to find the original Twitter chain detailing this kid’s story out of Western Colorado. I thought I had re-tweeted it back in September, but I was unable to find it. So I apologize for not offering/citing the original source. But to sum it up Ekeler and a few other college football players showed up to the University of Colorado’s Pro Day. After the Colorado players did their workouts for scouts these other players from smaller schools in the state were invited on the field to work out in front of a few professional teams. At this time a lot of the scouts were filing out and didn’t think any of these guys would be worth watching. But there was one kid who actually impressed some of the remaining eyes. And that was Austin Ekeler from Western State Colorado University, a school with about 2,500 undergraduate students. Ekeler got the contact information of a few scouts and although he wasn’t drafted he was invited to training camp with the Chargers. Low and behold he was a longshot, but he made the 53-man roster. He’s definitely a feel good story. Could he maintain fantasy value the rest of the way? It’s unlikely given the Chargers infatuation with Gordon and everybody else in that offense, but his snaps have slowly increased over the past few weeks and he’s definitely a guy to cheer for outside of fantasy. Is there a hot take to this section? No. It’s just a story about an underdog, a longshot, and an undrafted free agent that just had a game he’ll never forget. With all the nonsense and horrible storylines in the news, this is one that can make you feel good.
Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter (@RealDANlanta) and throw Twitter tomatoes my way for some of my takes that go awry. Thanks for reading! Stay strong the rest of the way!