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Week 6 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

Deshaun Watson led the way at the quarterback position in Week 6, finishing with 32 points. Six of the top-seven quarterbacks on the week, Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz and Lamar Jackson were all involved in the same three games which were shootouts with at least 58 points scored. George Kittle had another huge game finishing as the No. 2 tight end on the week and other than that, the position was a disaster with Anthony Firkser, Trey Burton, Darren Fells, Adam Shaheen and Nick Boyle making appearances in the top-10.

The Vikings and Falcons Defenses are terrible on the back-end and as a result, Justin Jefferson and Julio Jones finished as the top-two wide receivers on the week. Keelan Cole was a bit of a surprise finishing as WR-8 on the week against the Lions, even though D.J. Chark led the Jaguars in targets. On the low-end, Odell Beckham Jr., Julian Edelman and Cooper Kupp had terrible weeks, all finishing outside the top-50.

Derrick Henry ripped off a 94-yard touchdown run which made him RB-1 on the week. Ronald Jones, James Conner and Myles Gaskin all finished inside the top-six at running back as the beneficiaries of positive game scripts. Generally, running back was a tough position in Week 6 as only 10 players exceeded 15 points. Now that Week 6 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Week 6 Stats: 29-of-44 passing, 371 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

The Colts went down 21-0 to the Bengals very early in Week 6 and as a result, Rivers needed to put the ball in the air a season-high 44 times. Rivers has now exceeded 30 pass attempts in just two games this season. The Bengals defensive line also lacked any consistent pass rush, which afforded Rivers adequate time to throw without forcing him to move around much.

Bottom Line: The Colts were basically forced to abandon the running game early in this contest, rushing the ball just 15 times in the entire game. Philip Rivers will not throw the ball enough to be fantasy relevant unless the Colts are big underdogs or find themselves behind like they did against the Bengals. Don't rush out to your waiver wire and pick up Rivers unless you're in a two-QB league.

 

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 6 Stats: 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards

The Buccaneers Defense had Aaron Rodgers under siege for the entire game and he was never able to get settled. Rodgers threw his first two interceptions of the season on back-to-back drives in the first half, one of which went for a pick-six. Tom Brady only needed to throw the ball 27 times for 166 yards in a game that the Buccaneers controlled from the start, and they didn't need to push the ball down the field much through the air. Regardless of the game-flow, Chris Godwin received seven targets compared to just two for Evans.

Bottom Line: In the games where Chris Godwin starts, Godwin has 20 targets compared to just 10 for Mike Evans. You may want to consider shopping Evans in trade deals because if Godwin remains healthy, Evans will be the clear No. 2 receiver in the Buccaneers passing game.

 

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts

Week 6 Stats: 8 targets, 5 catches, 108 yards

In Week 6 Marcus Johnson played 63.5% of the Colts offensive snaps due to injury and since Week 4, Johnson has played at least 47.2% of the snaps. In Week 5, a game that the Colts lost to the Browns, Johnson was only targeted three times, hauling in all of them for 53 yards. The Bengals used their best defensive backs to cover T.Y. Hilton and Marcus Johnson was the beneficiary of decent matchups in the secondary. The Colts went down big early and Johnson racked up big yardage as the Colts needed to abandon the running game.

Bottom Line: Marcus Johnson will be extremely boom-or-bust until Michael Pittman returns from injury. Once Pittman does return to the lineup, Johnson will return to the bench. This game will likely be Johnson's best of 2020.

 

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 6 Stats: 11 targets, 8 catches, 96 yards

I have personally watched every single snap of the Bengals 2020 season, and heading into Week 6, it appeared that A.J. Green had fallen off. In Week 6, Green looked like the player we remembered from 2017 and 2018. Green was running great routes, routinely beating the Colts defensive backs and he was able to get open with ease. Green simply looked different in Week 6 and played a season-high 79.5% of the Bengals offensive snaps.

Bottom Line: A.J. Green showed us that he's back in Week 6. If somebody grew impatient and dropped him in your league, he's definitely worth a waiver claim. If Green is on your roster, you may want to consider selling-high because although he looked good, he's on a team that's loaded with play makers and he may not see consistent volume.

 

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

Week 6 Stats: 14 carries, 116 yards, 2 TD, 4 targets, 3 catches, 7 yards

D'Andre Swift played just 37.7% of the Lions offensive snaps in Week 6. This means Swift touched the ball on 17 of the 29 snaps he played. Adrian Peterson played 35.1% of the Lions offensive snaps, while Kerryon Johnson played just 25.6%. The Lions are clearly looking to run more and throw less in 2020, as Matthew Stafford has only exceeded 31-pass attempts twice this season

Bottom Line: D'Andre Swift is clearly the best running back on the Lions roster, but the Lions appear to be using a full blown three-man committee at the position. If you have Swift on your roster, he's worth starting consideration, but don't overblow this game because he may be boom-or-bust until he starts playing more.

 

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

Week 6 Stats: 13 carries, 40 yards, 3 targets, 2 catches, 17 yards

The Browns were dismantled by the Steelers in Week 6 and had to abandon the running game fairly early in the contest. Hunt played 52.6% of the snaps compared to 29.8% for D'Ernest Johnson and 12.3% for Dontrell Hilliard. The Browns offensive line wasn't able to get much movement up front and they didn't have much success throwing either, with Baker Mayfield throwing for just 119 yards.

Bottom Line: The Browns offense didn't generate much of anything in Week 6 and ended up benching many of their players late with the game out of reach. Buy-low on Hunt, because complete implosions like this won't happen often.

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Week 6 Stats: 2 targets, 0 catches

The Dolphins dominated the Jets and simply didn't need to throw much. Complicating matters for Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe, both of which are tight ends, each scored.

Bottom Line: If you have Mike Gesicki on your roster, he may frustrate you at times, but he's a big-play threat and a top-10 option at the position, so you just need to roll him out there.

 

Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans

Week 6 Stats: 9 targets, 8 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD

Jonnu Smith went down with an injured ankle and as a result, Anthony Firkser played a season-high 54.7% of the snaps. The Titans trailed for much of the day against the Texans, and as a result Ryan Tannehill threw the ball 41 times.

Bottom Line: Jonnu Smith's ankle sprain is considered to be minor, and if he plays in Week 7, Firsker will see his snaps fall back into the 30%-range. If you are counting on Jonnu Smith, you may want to add Firkser as insurance in the event Smith misses Week 7.

 

Trey Burton, Indianapolis, Colts

Week 6 Stats: 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 TD, 5 targets, 4 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD

Every time Trey Burton was tackled in Week 6 he looked like he wasn't going to get back up. Logan Wilson matched up well on Burton for much of the game, and Burton's touchdown reception was a spectacular catch with Wilson all over him.

Bottom Line: Burton's performance was rather fluky, especially because of the rushing touchdown. If not for the scores, Burton would have had a very underwhelming stat-line, and he should only be rostered and started if you're desperate.



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 6

The Week 5 wide receiver matchup article only featured one player that finished inside the top-10, and that was Jamison Crowder who finished as WR-7 on the week. Tee Higgins underwhelmed in a tough matchup against the Ravens Defense, Golden Tate flopped in a great matchup against the Cowboys and Deebo Samuel’s performance suffered due to poor quarterback play and the return of Byron Jones to the Dolphins secondary. Other than that, we did alright as CeeDee Lamb, Marquise Brown, Robby Anderson, Will Fuller and Laviska Shenault Jr. finished between WR-15 and WR-25 on the week.

As we’ve seen so far this season, nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. The 49ers Defense was once strong, but it has gotten so beat up over the last few weeks, they’re no longer a matchup you need to avoid. The Colts, Ravens, Patriots and Bears Defenses are looking like units you want to avoid in the passing game. The Seahawks, Falcons, Saints, Browns, Cowboys and now the Chargers Defenses are looking like units you can really exploit moving forward.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 6. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

$7,200 FanDuel / $6,200 DraftKings – vs Chris Claybrooks

The over/under is set at 54.5 points and the Lions are only favored by 3.5 points so this one should remain close throughout which means the Lions will likely need to throw for most of the game. Chris Claybrooks has been burned deep lately, and he’s giving up a 77% catch-rate along with 2.24 yards-per-route covered which is the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. The Jaguars Defense surrenders just over 38 fantasy points to wide receivers per game, and with Marvin Jones fading, Golladay should get most of the action in the passing game this week.

 

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

$6,700 FanDuel / $6,800 DraftKings – vs Malcolm Butler

In general, the Titans Defense struggles to cover quicker wide receivers and they’ve given up the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far in 2020. Will Fuller is a speedster and should give Malcolm Butler problems. This game has an over/under set at 53.5 points and the Titans are favored, which means Fuller should be the recipient of plenty of targets this week.

 

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

$6,400 FanDuel / $6,800 DraftKings – vs Pierre Desir

At one time, Pierre Desir was a pretty good cornerback, but in 2020 he’s surrendering an 80% catch-rate and 1.79 yards-per-route covered which isn’t great either. The Jets Defense gives up the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL and 8.3 yards-per-attempt which is third-worst in the league. Parker is the Dolphins most-targeted wide receiver and he has a better matchup than Preston Williams or Isaiah Ford, so he should have a decent game.

 

Jamison Crowder, N.Y. Jets

$6,600 FanDuel / $6,100 DraftKings – vs Nik Needham

Byron Jones finally returned to the lineup for the Dolphins Defense in Week 5 which is trouble for opposing wide receivers that primarily play on the outside. Luckily, Jamison Crowder plays in the slot for 77% of his snaps and should avoid Jones for the most part. Nik Needham gives up a 67% catch-rate and 1.52 yards-per-route covered, both of which are the worst marks amongst all the Dolphins defensive backs. The Jets are 9.5-point underdogs so Joe Flacco should be throwing a lot here. Until Chris Herndon emerges, Crowder is the only thing going in the Jets passing game.

 

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

$5,900 FanDuel / $6,000 DraftKings – vs Isaiah Oliver

Although Justin Jefferson did have a poor stat-line in Week 5, he showed us his ceiling in Week 4. In Week 6, Jefferson will face Isaiah Oliver when he lines up on the outside, who surrenders a 74% catch-rate and 1.77 yards-per-route covered. When Jefferson bumps into the slot, which he plays 46% of the time, he will see Kendall Sheffield who gives up 2.35 yards-per-route covered which is third-worst in the NFL. On top of the solid cornerback matchup, in general, the Falcons Defense gives up over 42 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers each game which bodes well for Jefferson’s outlook. This game has an over/under set at 54.5 points so Jefferson may be involved in a shootout.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

$5,800 FanDuel / $5,200 DraftKings – vs Desmond Trufant

The Lions have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far in 2020, allowing five wide receivers to score more than 15 fantasy points (note that the Lions have only played four games). Laviska Shenault weighs 30 pounds more than Desmond Trufant who figures to be covering him this weekend. Normally I wouldn’t make a big deal about the weight difference between a wide receiver and cornerback, but it’s relevant because Shenault is so dangerous running with the ball after the catch and Trufant may have trouble bringing him down. D.J. Chark suffered an ankle injury last week which means he may be slowed, possibly making Shenault the No. 1 option in the Jaguars passing game.

 

Isaiah Wright, Washington Football Team

$4,500 FanDuel / $3,000 DraftKings – vs Darnay Holmes

Steven Sims was placed on IR last week and in his absence, Isaiah Wright played 77.8% of Washington’s offensive snaps. While Wright didn’t do much in Week 5, in fairness to him, Kyle Allen was knocked out of the game early and the receivers did have a tough matchup against a solid Rams secondary. In Week 6, Wright will see Darnay Holmes in coverage who has been a weekly fixture in this article. Wright has a four-inch height advantage over Holmes who gives up 1.75 yards-per-route covered and a 74% catch-rate. The Giants secondary has been decent as a unit in 2020, but Holmes has been the weak link. Wright is more of an tournament play in DFS formats and should only be played in the deepest season-long leagues if you’re desperate.



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Week 5 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

Unlike Week 4 where 17 quarterbacks scored at least 20-fantasy points, only 11 quarterbacks reached that same mark in Week 5. Patrick Mahomes finished the week as the No. 1 quarterback on the week, while Ryan Fitzpatrick finished No. 2 in surprising fashion against a tough 49ers Defense. Travis Kelce finished Week 5 as the top tight end and Darren Fellas scored, giving him his annual appearance in the top-five. For the first time in 2020, Irv Smith Jr. finished as a TE1, playing a season-high 68% of the Vikings snaps, so things are looking up for him.

Chase Claypool, Travis Fulgham and Brandin Cooks finished as the top-three wide receivers in fantasy scoring in Week 5, let that sink in for a minute. Outside of those three guys, the wide receiver position was fairly predictable, but some duds were put up by Diontae Johnson and D.J. Chark due to injury. Marquise Brown finally had a big week with 19.8-points, and his day could have been even bigger as he narrowly missed hauling in a second touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson.

Mike Davis finished Week 5 as the No. 1 running back which was a little bit of a surprise and Todd Gurley took advantage of a great matchup, finishing right behind Davis at No. 2.  Chase Edmonds was a bit of a surprise finishing as the RB-7 on the week, but he did so off of just eight touches, relying on catches and a touchdown to come through. Now that Week 5 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 5 Stats: 19-of-30 passing, 183 yards, 3 carries, 10 yards

Joe Burrow was seemingly running for his life through the first three weeks of the regular season because the Bengals offensive line had a glaring deficiency at right guard and right tackle. In Week 4, the Bengals started Alex Redmond at right guard, and while he isn't a world-beater by any means, he's better than Fred Johnson. In Week 5, the Ravens Defense blitzed a lot, creating mismatches in the blocking scheme, and as a result Burrow was under siege for much of the day.

Bottom Line: With the game already well out of reach, the Bengals ran the ball with Joe Mixon on their final drive of the game instead of having Burrow drop back and throw in garbage time. Maybe the takeaway from Week 5 is that we cannot count on Burrow in weeks where the Bengals play a top-tier defense. In Week 6 the Bengals will face a stingy Colts Defense which will be problematic for both Burrow and Mixon, but things will get a little easier starting in Week 7. Even after this terrible performance, Burrow remains the QB-11 on the season, so don't panic if he's on your roster and hold steady.

 

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 5 Stats: 11 targets, 7 catches, 3 TD, 3 carries, 6 yards, 1 TD

Diontae Johnson was injured early in Week 5 while returning a punt and as a result, Chase Claypool was the No. 1 target in Pittsburgh's passing game. In Week 3 when Diontae Johnson was similarly knocked out of the game against the Texans with a concussion, Claypool was targeted just four times and only hauled in one pass for 24 yards. Claypool played 76% of the Steelers offensive snaps in Week 3 and 69% in Week 5. Prior to Diontae Johnson getting hurt, Claypool's season-high snap count was 37%. James Washington has played at least 48% of the Steelers offensive snaps in each game this season, including 71% in Week 5 which was more than Claypool.

Bottom Line: Chase Claypool is definitely worth an add on waiver wires and should be considered even in shallower leagues. However, unless Diontae Johnson misses significant time, we need to wait and see whether Claypool has actually carved out a definitive role in this offense before he's trusted on a weekly basis.

 

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 5 Stats: 13 targets, 10 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD

Carson Wentz has struggled so far in 2020 with many of his wide receivers out of the lineup due to injury. Travis Fulgham has been lining up at X for the Eagles over the last two weeks, and it appears Wentz is really starting to trust him. Fulgham played 60% of the snaps in Week 4 and 78% in Week 5. Fulgham is a 25-year old second-year pro out of Old Dominion which isn't exactly a football powerhouse, but he's very athletic and Wentz is starting to trust him.

Bottom Line: As long as Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery continue to miss time, Fulgham is a viable option in all formats if you need help at wide receiver.

 

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

Week 5 Stats: 12 targets, 8 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD

In Deshaun Watson's first week playing outside of Bill O'Brien's leadership, the Texans wide receivers had the following pecking order for targets: Brandin Cooks (12), Will Fuller (8), Randall Cobb (6) and Kenny Still (1). Tim Kelly had more control over the offense and play-calling duties which may benefit Cooks moving forward. Cooks did run by Jaguars cornerback Chris Claybrooks with ease on a deep-ball and his touchdown came on a long run after the catch.

Bottom Line: Prior to Week 5, Brandin Cooks was only targeted 21 times in the passing game and failed to score. This may be the start of something good for Cooks, but don't get too crazy, because the matchup against the Jaguars Defense was very good, and Cooks routinely ran by Jaguars defensive backs with ease.

 

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

Week 5 Stats: 14 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD, 5 targets, 4 catches, 29 yards

The Panthers Defense gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs on the season. Todd Gurley broke off a 35-yard touchdown run in this game which accounted for most of his fantasy points.

Bottom Line: Trade Gurley now. Gurley is not the same player he once was, the Falcons are bad and will be playing from behind for most of the year, and Gurley's trade value will never be higher coming off this soft matchup.

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

Week 5 Stats: 10 carries, 40 yards, 8 targets, 3 catches, 40 yards

The Chiefs suffered an injury on the offensive line early in Week 5 which hurt their ability to run the ball. The Chiefs also fell behind a little bit in this one which forced them to throw the ball a lot. Even though the Chiefs had to abort the passing game earlier than they would have liked, Edwards-Helaire was on the field for 58% of the total offensive plays, including 49% of the pass plays.

Bottom Line: Trade for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He currently sits as RB-14 on the season and while he's coming off of an underwhelming performance, he has the sixth-most carries in the NFL. Things will get better.

 

Darrell Henderson, L.A. Rams

Week 5 Stats: 15 carries, 38 yards, 1 TD, 4 targets, 3 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD

Darrell Henderson has never played more than 49% of the Rams offensive snaps so far in 2020. In Week 5, Cam Akers returned to the lineup and played  19% of the snaps compared to 43% for Henderson. Henderson did lead the team in carries, but Akers was able to turn his 9 carries into 61 yards which was very efficient.

Bottom Line: Henderson didn't rack up a ton of yardage in Week 5 but he did score twice which salvaged his day. Beware of this Rams backfield, because nobody is playing a majority of the snaps which makes Akers and Henderson touchdown-dependent. You may want to consider trading Henderson if you can acquire a running back with a more solidified role or if you need help at another position.

 

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Week 5 Stats: 6 targets, 5 catches, 91 yards

It's been difficult to predict when Mike Gesicki will come through for fantasy purposes. Through five weeks of play, Gesicki has only played at least 60% of the snaps twice. In Week 5, Gesicki played just 45% of the Dolphins offensive snaps, just 30 plays, but he was targeted on six of those plays. The Dolphins clearly view Gesicki as a pass catcher, but it's also clear that they view Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen as superior run blockers as they each play at least 33% of the snaps. Gesicki had a 70-yard catch where he got behind the entire 49ers Defense and while much of his fantasy production came from that one play, he remains a big-play threat at all times.

Bottom Line: If you have Mike Gesicki on your roster, he may frustrate you at times, but he's a big-play threat and a top-12 option at the position, so you need to roll him out there.

 

Gerald Everett, L.A. Rams

Week 5 Stats: 4 targets, 4 catches, 90 yards

Gerald Everett actually lined up on the perimeter for some of his snaps in Week 5 and the Rams designed a screen pass for him. On his longest catch of the day, the Redskins Defense seemingly lost him in coverage and he was able to make a short catch and take it for a long run. Everett was only on the field for 44% of the Rams offensive snaps compared to 82% for Tyler Higbee.

Bottom Line: Tyler Higbee is clearly out-snapping Everett, but the troubling part of Week 5 is that the Rams clearly dialed up some plays designed for Everett. Gerald Everett is not playing enough snaps to be consistently relied on, so you should only roster him if you're truly desperate at this point.

 

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 5 Stats: 6 targets, 1 catch, 6 yards

Things are starting to look a little concerning for Zach Ertz. In Week 4, Ertz simply couldn't beat the 49ers defenders in coverage, the same 49ers defenders that Mike Gesicki torched for 90 yards. In Week 5, Ertz had trouble once again, and at this point, you need to start evaluating whether he belongs in your starting lineup.

Bottom Line: Explore other options on your waiver wire at tight end if you can, but don't cut Ertz. We need to see more before we decide whether Ertz's play has fallen off to the point where you can't roster him for fantasy. While this two week stretch is concerning, don't hit the panic button just yet.



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 5

Last week's wide receiver matchup article featured five receivers that finished inside the top-20, including Odell Beckham Jr. who finished as the highest scoring wide receiver in Week 4. While some of the calls worked out, some did not. A.J. Green simply isn't getting it done, and if he doesn't come through in Week 5 I likely won't consider him moving forward. Marvin Jones Jr. was non-existent in the Lions offense, while Randall Cobb and Golden Tate were two low-end recommendations that underwhelmed.

As we've seen over the first few weeks of the season, nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. Through four weeks of action, the Colts, 49ers, Chargers and Patriots Defenses are looking like units you want to avoid starting wide receivers against because they really slow down opposing passing attacks, although the Chargers Defense was burned by Tom Brady last week. On the other side of things the Seahawks, Falcons, Vikings and Cowboys Defenses can't really stop anybody through the air, and until further notice they're the defenses you want to exploit in the passing game.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 5. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers

$6,200 Fanduel/$5,900 DraftKings - vs Kendall Sheffield

The Falcons Defense surrenders the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and has been beaten for league-worst 21-explosive plays in the passing game which sets up Robby Anderson, who is a deep-threat, for a big game. In addition to giving up the most explosive plays in the league, the Falcons have also given up a league-worst 13 touchdown passes.

 

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

$6,600 FanDuel / $6,600 DraftKings - vs Chris Claybrooks

While the Jaguars Defense gives up the 14th-fewest fantasy points-per-game to wide receivers, they do allow quarterbacks to throw for 8.4 yards-per-attempt which is third-worst in the league. Will Fuller has only been targeted 22 times on the season, but that includes a zero-target game against the Ravens, and he has hauled in 18-of-22 targets which makes him very efficient. The Texans are struggling to run the ball and will need to throw to keep pace with the Jaguars. The over/under in this game is set at 54 points, so this may be a shootout which Fuller could play a large role in.

 

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

$5,900 FanDuel/$6,000 DraftKings - vs Darnay Holmes

The Giants are giving up the 13th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, but James Bradberry, who figures to shadow Amari Cooper this week, is actually playing pretty well. On the other hand, Darnay Holmes is starting to be a weekly fixture in this matchup article and Cooper Kupp had a decent day against him in Week 4. As a unit, the Giants secondary is decent, but Holmes is the guy quarterbacks have been picking on which means CeeDee Lamb should have a big game in Week 5.

 

Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

$5,400 Fanduel/$4,900 DraftKings - vs Marcus Peters

The Ravens Defense gives up the 16th-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers so this matchup isn't exactly great, but the Bengals offense likely won't be able to run the ball much because the Ravens surrender just 4.0 yards-per-carry and less than 100 yards-per-game on the ground. The Bengals have been moving Tee Higgins around, playing him 33% on the left side of the formation and 39% on the right side, which means he will see Marcus Peters in coverage, who can be burned, and Anthony Averett, who has been the weak-link in the Ravens secondary. Tyler Boyd lines up in the slot 82% of the time so he will see Marlon Humphrey for most of the day which is problematic. Between all of the Bengals wide receivers, Tee Higgins has the most favorable matchup which means he is likely to see decent volume in a game where the Bengals are 12-point underdogs.

 

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

$6,000 FanDuel/$5,300 DraftKings - vs Noah Igbinoghene

Noah Igbinoghene gives up 2.09 yards-per-route covered which is one of the worst marks in the NFL. Deebo Samuel looked good in Week 4 and played 34% of the offensive snaps in his first game back from injury. Samuel should be more involved in the offense after getting through Week 4 setback-free and with Jimmy Garoppolo set to return, it will boost him in a big way. The Dolphins give up the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers which also makes Samuel appealing in this matchup. Deebo Samuel should probably only be used in deeper leagues or as a tournament play in DFS because he's not a lock to play a full compliment of snaps in Week 5, but if he does, he will come through in a big way.

 

Jamison Crowder, N.Y. Jets

$6,300 FanDuel/$5,800 DraftKings - vs Byron Murphy

Joe Flacco will start for the Jets in Week 5 with Sam Darnold nursing a shoulder injury, and honestly, the change at quarterback may actually be an upgrade for Crowder and the entire Jets passing game. The Cardinals Defense gives up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, but those numbers are a little deceiving, because they're having trouble in coverage opposite Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals have also played against some mediocre receiver corps, but have given up at least 17-fantasy points to a wide receiver in three-of-four games.

Pivot: Golden Tate, N.Y. Giants - $5,500 FanDuel/$4,600 DraftKings - vs Jourdan Lewis

The Cowboys defense surrenders the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The over/under is set at 54 points and the Cowboys are favored, which means the Giants will be throwing the ball a ton. Jourdan Lewis missed most of training camp and the start of the season with an ankle-injury so he's still shaking off the rust. Golden Tate has been slow off the mark in 2020, but maybe he can get on track against this brutal Cowboys pass defense.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

$5,300 FanDuel/$4,500 DraftKings - vs Vernon Hargreaves III

The Texans Defense is extremely soft against the run, giving up 4.9 yards-per-carry, but the Jaguars will still need to throw the ball a lot in order to keep pace with Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense. Shenault should avoid Bradley Roby in coverage which means he may be Gardner Minshew's go-to receiver in Week 5.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

$6,100 FanDuel/$6,300 DraftKings - vs Darius Phillips

The Bengals Defense has been decent against the pass in 2020, giving up just 7.2 yards-per-attempt and five touchdown passes on the season, which is seventh-best in the league. However, the Bengals have given up 15-explosive pass-plays so far this year, which is one of the worst marks in the league. Marquise Brown lines up out of the slot 29% of the time, and when he does in Week 5 he will see LeShaun Phillips who gives up 2.43 yards-per-route covered which is second-worst in the NFL. Lamar Jackson has narrowly missed connecting with Marquise Brown on some deep-balls over the last few weeks, but chances are he catches a bomb against the Bengals.



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Week 4 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

There were 17 quarterbacks that scored at least 20-fantasy points in Week 4 with Dak Prescott leading the charge. Teddy Bridgewater, Justin Herbert and Sam Darnold were some unfamiliar faces that cracked the top-10 this week, but other than those guys none of the big producers really surprised us. As a whole, tight ends weren't very productive in Week 4, with only nine players putting up more than 10-fantasy points. Zach Ertz, Tyler Higbee and Mike Gesicki are normally surefire TE1's and they all finished outside the top-20.

The wide receiver position was fairly predictable but there were a few blow-up performances. Odell Beckham Jr., Amari Cooper, D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen, Mike Evans and CeeDee Lamb all finished with more than 25-fantasy points, and another six receivers eclipsed 20-points. Tim Patrick was the biggest surprise within the top-10, seeing seven targets in Courtland Sutton's absence.

At running back Antonio Gibson popped inside the top-five for the first time, touching the ball 17 times in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The rest of the top-five was rather predictable, but RB-6 through RB-8 were Jerick McKinnon, Mike Davis and Latavius Murray, who are all backups that either started due to injury or saw additional work due to game-flow. Now that Week 4 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Sam Darnold, N.Y. Jets

Week 4 Stats: 23-of-42 passing, 230 yards, 6 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD

Sam Darnold finished Week 4 as a top-10 quarterback, scoring 23.6 fantasy points. While Darnold did produce fantasy points this week, let's talk about how he got there. Darnold completed 54.8% of his passes, averaged just 5.5 yards-per-attempt and lost 54 yards on six sacks. Darnold scored 10.6 of his fantasy points on his 46-yard touchdown run which looked kind of awkward, because it almost appeared that the Broncos defenders thought he was going to slide and didn't go full speed to tackle him.

Bottom Line: Don't rush out to your waiver wire and grab Sam Darnold unless you're in a two-quarterback league and you need help. Darnold is playing poorly and he should only be used if you're truly desperate and he has a good matchup.

 

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Week 4 Stats: 8 targets, 5 catches, 81 yards, 2 TD, 2 carries, 73 yards, 1 TD

The Cowboys Defense has given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers and Odell Beckham Jr. absolutely destroyed them in Week 4. Beckham's stats were boosted by a 50-yard rushing touchdown where the Cowboys missed several tackles. Through four games, Beckham is on pace for 64 catches, 944 yards and 12 touchdowns. Nick Chubb is banged up and will miss some time, so the Browns may throw a little more in his absence.

Bottom Line: Odell Beckham Jr. may have some frustrating performances down the stretch because the Browns clearly want to run the ball, but he does have blow-up potential. If you believe in Beckham, then continue to roll him out there in your lineups, but if you're out, sell now because his value will never be higher.

 

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

Week 4 Stats: 16 targets, 12 catches, 134 yards, 1 TD, 1-2PT

The Cleveland Browns dropped 49 points on the Cowboys in Week 4 which forced Dak Prescott to throw the ball 58 times. Amari Cooper finished as the WR-2 in Week 4 and given the way the Cowboys defense is performing, there should be more of these performances down the road. Cooper is now the No. 1 wide receiver on the season in PPR.

Bottom Line: Amari Cooper can be frustrating at times because he seemingly disappears during some matchups, but 2020 appears to be Cooper's year. Cooper currently leads the NFL in targets with 51 and he's well ahead of CeeDee Lamb who is second on the Cowboys with 29 targets.

 

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

Week 4 Stats: 7 targets, 6 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD

Tim Patrick isn't playing just because Courtland Sutton went down, Patrick has been played 77% of the Broncos offensive snaps on the season and was seeing the field even when Sutton was healthy. The Jets secondary struggled in Week 4, and Patrick cashed in on his opportunities.

Bottom Line: If you're in a deeper league, Patrick is worth a roster spot on your team. While Jerry Jeudy is clearly the best and most-targeted receiver on the Broncos roster, Patrick has some appeal as a deep threat, and should see some targets each week, especially with Noah Fant banged up.

 

Jeff Smith, N.Y. Jets

Week 4 Stats: 9 targets, 7 catches, 81 yards

Sam Darnold has thrown the ball 5.7 yards-per-attempt on the season which is near the bottom of the league. Darnold loves throwing the ball to the short and intermediate areas of the field, but it seemed like he was taking plenty of deep shots to Jeff Smith in Week 4. Breshad Perriman was out of the Jets lineup and Smith played 95% of the snaps against the Broncos in Perriman's place.

Bottom Line: If Breshad Perriman continues to miss time, Jeff Smith may be viable, because he's the only healthy deep-threat on the Jets roster. Smith is actually worth an add in deeper leagues as long as Perriman remains out of the lineup.

 

Robert Woods, L.A. Rams

Week 4 Stats: 7 targets, 6 catches, 35 yards, 1 carry, 2 yards

The Giants Defense actually gave Jared Goff and the Rams offense some problems in Week 4, limiting them to 17 points. Goff only threw for 200 yards and equally distributed the ball to Cooper Kupp and Woods, throwing it to each of them seven times. Kupp had the better matchup in the secondary and he broke free for a long touchdown.

Bottom Line: Robert Woods had a bad game from a production standpoint, and if the Robert Woods manager isn't feeling it, you may want to consider buying-low. If you have Robert Woods on your roster, hold steady.

 

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 4 Stats: 25 carries, 151 yards, 2 TD, 6 targets, 6 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD

Joe Mixon played 83% of the Bengals offensive snaps and he dominated the Jaguars Defense. The Bengals started Alex Redmond at right guard and as a result, Mixon had running lanes and Joe Burrow wasn't under siege every time he dropped back to throw.

Bottom Line: If you held on to Joe Mixon through the first three weeks, congratulations, and continue to roll him out there in your lineups.

 

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 Stats: 17 carries, 68 yards, 1 target, 1 catch, 11 yards

Jonathan Taylor only played 46% of the Colts Week 4-snaps in a game that the Colts controlled from the start. Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins each had 9 carries, but they were only able to turn those carries into 39 yards which is horribly inefficient.

Bottom Line: Jonathan Taylor is clearly the Colts most talented play-maker but the lack of use is a little troubling. At times it seemed like there wasn't any rhyme or reason why the Colts deployed certain running backs in certain situations. While Taylor's usage is concerning, you cannot deny his talent, and he's a prime buy-low candidate.

 

Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints

Week 4 Stats: 14 carries, 64 yards, 2 TD, 2 targets, 1 catch, 19 yards

Latavius Murray played a season-high 41% of the Saints offensive snaps in Week 4 and carried the ball 14 times in a game where the Saints led for a majority of the time. The Saints were without their No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas and leaned on the running game to come away with the win over the Lions.

Bottom Line: If Alvin Kamara is on your roster, having Latavius Murray on your team is a necessity. If Kamara were to go down with an injury, Murray would be a surefire RB2. Murray does offer some stand-alone value, but he will usually be touchdown-dependent and should only be considered in deeper leagues while Kamara is healthy.

 

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Week 4 Stats: 15 targets, 15 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD

George Kittle is arguably the most physically gifted tight end in the league and he rarely comes off the field because he's such a good blocker. While Kittle has upside each week he plays, Week 4 was a perfect storm because the Eagles linebackers struggle badly in coverage. Kittle exploited this mismatch and put up one of the best single-game performances for a tight end in NFL history.

Bottom Line: George Kittle is great, but this will go down as his best game of the season. If another manager in your league is looking to pay a premium to get Kittle and you have decent tight end depth on your roster, you may want to consider selling-high if you need help at another position.

 



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 4

The Week 3 wide receiver matchup article featured three top-10 options highlighted by Allen Robinson, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Boyd who all came through with big games. Darius Slayton was targeted seven times but he came up small, and Marvin Jones underwhelmed because the Lions remained dedicated to the running game against the Cardinals, which is something they hadn't done in the past. D.K. Metcalf finished as WR-19 on the week but he would have scored even more fantasy points if he didn't get stripped on the one-yard line while prematurely celebrating a touchdown. Rounding out the Week 3 recommendations, Terry McLaurin and CeeDee Lamb had modest showings and Russell Gage came up extremely small because he got hurt.

Nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. Through three weeks of action, the Colts, 49ers, Chargers and Patriots Defenses are looking like units you want to avoid starting wide receivers against because they really slow down opposing passing attacks. On the other side of things it's becoming even more clear that the Seahawks, Falcons, Vikings and Cowboys Defenses can't really stop anybody through the air, and we may want to exploit these defenses moving forward.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 4. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams

$7,200 Fanduel/$6,700 DraftKings - vs Darnay Holmes

The Giants Defense has been absolutely crushed out of the slot this year. Darnay Holmes allows opposing wide receivers to catch 75% of balls thrown in his direction and he gives up 2.10 yards-per-route that he covers which is one of the worst marks in the NFL. Robert Woods is likely to see shadow coverage from James Bradberry this week, and while Bradberry won't completely lock Woods down, it will be easier for Jared Goff to get the ball to Cooper Kupp in Week 4.

 

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

$6,600 FanDuel/$5,800 DraftKings - vs Daryl Worley

The Browns are underdogs against the Cowboys this week in a game with an over/under listed at 56 points. This means that the Browns will need to throw the ball a ton in order to keep pace with the electric Cowboys offense. Thus, the Browns wide receivers will likely be busy. On the season the Cowboys Defense has surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and the fifth-most passing yards. The Cowboys have also given up 14 plays of 20-plus yards through the air which is fourth-most in the NFL. Things are setting up well for Odell Beckham Jr. to have a big game, especially if the Cowboys get out to an early lead.

 

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

$6,500 Fanduel/$5,700 DraftKings - vs Shaquill Griffin

The Seahawks Defense has given up the most fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season and with the Dolphins likely to be playing from behind in Week 4, there's reason to believe DeVante Parker will have a big day. The Seahawks are also giving up 12.7 yards-per-reception which is second-worst in the league and they have given up an NFL-high 18 plays of 20-plus yards through the air. Parker figures to see a lot of Shaquill Griffin who gives up 1.96 yards-per-route he covers along with a 77% catch-rate.

 

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

$5,700 FanDuel/$5,500 DraftKings - vs Tre Herndon

A.J. Green has been targeted 28 times this year which is eighth-most in the NFL. Tyler Boyd's average depth-of-target is just 8.16 yards compared to 14.18 yards for A.J. Green, which means Joe Burrow is taking shots to Green down the field and using Boyd as his possession-receiver. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Bengals offensive line has had trouble against opposing defensive lines, but according to PFF data, the Bengals offensive line actually has a decent matchup against the Jaguars pass rush this week. If Burrow has more time to throw against the Jaguars below-average pass rush, he may actually be able to hit Green on one of these deep-shots.

 

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

$6,100 FanDuel/$5,900 DraftKings - vs Kris Boyd

Will Fuller had a big Week 1 and then he kind of faded over the last two weeks. In Week 4, Fuller will find himself facing off against the Vikings Defense which surrenders the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The Vikings haven't exactly been stingy defending the run this year, but they're better against the run than they are the pass, giving up just 4.2 yards-per-carry. The Vikings have given up 12.1 yards-per-reception and 14 plays of 20-plus yards which ranks them towards the bottom of the league in both categories.

Pivot: Randall Cobb, Houston Texans - $5,400 FanDuel/$4,800 DraftKings - vs Jeff Gladney

Randall Cobb's salary on both FanDuel and DraftKings is cheaper than Will Fuller's, and if the Vikings decide to roll coverage towards Fuller, Cobb may see more targets underneath. Will Fuller was on the Texans injury report earlier in the week but he was eventually removed from it on Friday. If Fuller's injury history gives you any pause, you may want to roll with Cobb in DFS. Cobb is also worth consideration in deeper season-long leagues if you need to replace an injured wide receiver.

 

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

$5,600 FanDuel/$5,400 DraftKings - vs Tavierre Thomas

The Browns Defense gives up just 3.7 yards-per-carry and with the Cowboys offensive line a little banged up, it means Ezekiel Elliott may have some trouble toting the rock in Week 4. While the Browns are good against the run, they give up the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. This game is supposed to be high scoring with an over/under set at 56 points, so look for Dak Prescott to air it out in this one. CeeDee Lamb has the best matchup out of all the Cowboys receivers this week as he's likely to see Tavierre Thomas in coverage. So far in 2020, Thomas is surrendering an 81% catch-rate and 1.20 yards-per-route covered which is worst in the Browns secondary. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Browns have given up at least 16-fantasy points to opposing slot receivers.

Pivot: Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions - $6,000 FanDuel/$4,900 DraftKings - vs Justin Hardee

The Saints and Lions have an over/under set at 54 points which means this game will likely be a shootout. Both Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins were ruled out for Week 4, which means Justin Hardee will fill in for Jenkins at cornerback. Marvin Jones will likely see a lot of Hardee in coverage, and with the Saints Defense giving up just 3.4 yards-per-carry, Matthew Stafford is going to need to throw the ball a ton in this one to keep pace with the Saints.

 

Golden Tate, N.Y. Giants

$5,300 FanDuel/$4,600 DraftKings - vs Troy Hill

The Rams offense should be able to put plenty of points up on the board in Week 4 as they're favored by 13 points over the Giants with an over/under set at 48 points. Jalen Ramsey is likely to cover Darius Slayton a lot this week, which means Golden Tate will have the easier matchup in the secondary against Troy Hill who gives up 1.85 yards-per-route covered.



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Week 3 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

Week 3 was a wild one in the NFL with several key players going down with injuries and a few shootouts going down. The quarterback position was fairly stable with Russell Wilson, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott finishing as the top-three producers at the position. Tight end on the other hand was an absolute disaster trying to handicap. Tyler Kroft who is on 0% of rosters in Yahoo leagues finished as the TE-2 while Robert Tonyan, who is rostered in 1% of Yahoo leagues finished as the TE-4. Meanwhile, surefire starters like Tyler Higbee and Mike Gesicki finished as bottom-end TE2's.

The wide receiver position was fairly predictable but there were also some huge curveballs that got thrown at us. The game between the Seahawks and Cowboys was supposed to be a shootout, so we aren't surprised that both Tyler Lockett and Michael Gallup finished as top-10 options, but nobody saw two touchdowns coming from Cedrick Wilson. Justin Jefferson also arrived on the scene with 175 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings in a game where Kirk Cousins needed to throw a lot to keep pace with the Titans.

At running back Mike Davis didn't look great as a runner but he came through in the passing game, hauling in eight-of-nine targets for 45 yards and a touchdown, finishing as an RB1 in Christian McCaffrey's absence. The main surprises on the week were that Miles Sanders didn't run for over 125 yards on the Bengals Defense and Jonathan Taylor only needed to carry the ball 13 times in a game where the Colts Defense scored two touchdowns. Now that Week 3 is behind us, let's take a look at some of these unexpected performances and evaluate whether these guys will continue to produce moving forward.

 

Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 3 Stats: 9 targets, 5 catches, 40 yards, 2 TD

When the Bengals drafted Tee Higgins in the second round of the NFL draft this spring it was assumed he would be A.J. Green's replacement in 2021. After two losses to open the season, the Bengals made John Ross a healthy-scratch and Higgins was out there on 79% of the offensive snaps which was up from 22% in Week 1 and 65% in Week 2. Tee Higgins will have a role from here on out in Cincinnati.

Bottom Line: Higgins came through in a big way in Week 3 against the Eagles but his role may have been expanded because A.J. Green saw so much coverage from Darius Slay. Higgins is worth a roster spot but you should only use him in your lineup if you need him or he has a cornerback matchup that's ideal.

 

Cedrick Wilson, Dallas Cowboys

Week 3 Stats: 7 targets, 5 catches, 107 yards, 2 TD

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott struggled out of the gate in Week 3 and as a result, the Cowboys decided to get more pass-catchers on the field and air it out. The Seahawks Defense has been shredded by opposing wide receivers so far this season, especially out of the slot, and Cedrick Wilson was a beneficiary of that.

Bottom Line: Don't chase the points. Wilson normally plays about 5% of the Cowboys snaps and played 29% in Week 3 because the Cowboys found themselves down by 15 points and unable to run the ball with their offensive line banged up. Wilson should only be relevant moving forward if the Cowboys have an injury at receiver.

 

Greg Ward, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 3 Stats: 11 targets, 8 catches, 72 yards, 1 TD

The Eagles were devastated by even more injuries in Week 3 against the Bengals, losing both Dallas Goedert and DeSean Jackson. Already without Jalen Reagor, the Eagles had to use Greg Ward and ran him out there on 84% of their offensive snaps.

Bottom Line: Ward's numbers were a little padded by his touchdown just before the end of the first half where he broke free in the Bengals secondary, but the fact remains that the Eagles don't have anybody else at receiver. Greg Ward and possibly John Hightower who played 86% of the Eagles snaps in Week 3, should be on your radar for Week 4.

 

Andy Isabella, Arizona Cardinals

Week 3 Stats: 4 targets, 4 catches, 47 yards, 2 TD

In Christian Kirk's absence Andy Isabella played 40% of the Cardinals snaps and scored twice. Isabella is a big-play threat waiting to happen and has some serious breakout potential as long as Kirk remains out of the lineup. Monitor Kirk's status, because it's possible that Isabella overtakes him if he continues to produce when called upon.

Bottom Line: There's still not a clear path for Isabella to have success in Arizona because DeAndre Hopkins is clearly the No. 1 receiver in that offense and Larry Fitzgerald is still playing 86% of the snaps. While Kirk is out, Isabella can be used based on his matchup in deeper leagues.

 

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots

Week 3 Stats: 6 carries, 49 yards, 2 TD, 10 targets, 7 catches, 49 yards, 1 TD

The Raiders defense has surrendered a ton of fantasy points to opposing running backs and even allowed Sony Michel to go over 100 yards on the ground in Week 3. The Patriots backfield is a difficult one to navigate, and it may get even cloudier when Damien Harris returns from IR.

Bottom Line: Forecasting Rex Burkhead's usage is a pain, and he should only be used if you're either desperate for a running back or the Patriots suffer injuries at the position. Keep in mind James White has missed the last two weeks as well.

 

Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

Week 3 Stats: 13 carries, 71 yards, 5 targets, 4 catches, 50 yards

Zack Moss missed Week 3 because of a toe-injury and as a result, Devin Singletary played 89% of the Bills snaps after averaging just under 60% through the first two weeks of the season. Singletary got stuffed on the goal-line against the Rams, so Moss should still have a role once he returns, but while Moss is out, Singletary will see a ton of volume.

Bottom Line: Devin Singletary will be fine but his role will scale back once Zack Moss returns to the Bills lineup. You may want to consider selling-high on Singletary if you receive a decent trade offer for his services.

 

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 3 Stats: 11 carries, 46 yards, 2 TD, 6 targets, 6 catches, 83 yards

James Robinson has been a pleasant surprise so far this season carrying the load for the Jaguars. While Robinson has been a serviceable starter, his Week 2 stat-line may be a little difficult to replicate. The Jaguars fell behind early against the Dolphins and Gardner Minshew struggled to throw the ball downfield with D.J. Chark out of the lineup. As a result, Robinson saw a lot of check-downs and racked up some fantasy points in the process.

Bottom Line: If you have Robinson on your roster, hold steady and continue to use him as an RB2. If another manager in your league grows impatient with somebody like Joe Mixon or Kenyan Drake and offers you an underperforming stud in exchange for Robinson, you should consider selling high.

 

Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears

Week 3 Stats: 10 targets, 6 catches, 60 yards, 2 TD

Through the first three weeks of the season, the Falcons Defense has given up 12.4, 21.8 and 24 fantasy points to opposing tight ends in PPR formats. The Falcons score a lot of points which makes opposing offenses throw against them a lot, and as previously mentioned, they generally give up a lot of production to tight ends.

Bottom Line: While Jimmy Graham's 18 targets make him the twelfth-most targeted tight end in the NFL, over half of his targets came against the Falcons in a game where the Bears were playing from behind. Moving forward, Graham should only be used as a matchup-based streamer.

 

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 3 Stats: 7 targets, 5 catches, 52 yards, 1 TD

Eric Ebron has been playing at least 63% of the Steelers offensive snaps through the first three weeks of the season, but he simply hasn't seen consistent targets in the passing game. Diontae Johnson had a tough matchup against Bradley Roby even before he suffered a concussion in Week 3 and as a result, targets were distributed elsewhere.

Bottom Line: Eric Ebron is worth a roster spot but you shouldn't bump him ahead of other more reliable options. Moving forward, it looks like Ebron may be involved in the passing game when the Steelers receivers have difficult cornerback matchups.



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 3

Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books and the wide receiver position was a little unpredictable. Out of all the wide receivers referenced in last week's wide receiver matchup article, Terry McLaurin finished as WR-4, Mike Evans was WR-5 and Diontae Johnson was WR-6, so we were alright with those calls.  Mitchell Trubisky crushed Allen Robinson because he threw him so many uncatchable balls, and while Anthony Miller failed to make a catch, he did drop a touchdown which would have been nice. Marquise Brown was slowed by Bradley Roby so I was simply wrong on that call and in surprising fashion, Michael Gallup was only targeted five times in a game where Cowboys receivers were targeted 25 times by Dak Prescott. To round out the bad calls from Week 2, while Danny Amendola did see an increase in targets with Kenny Golladay out, leading the team with seven, but he only caught two balls and Parris Campbell missed almost the entire game due to injury.

Nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. Through two weeks of action, the Colts, Texans, 49ers, Ravens and Patriots Defenses are looking like units you want to avoid because they limit opposing passing attacks. On the other side of things, the Raiders, Cardinals, Seahawks, Cowboys and Vikings Defenses are units that give up big time passing yardage and we may want to exploit them moving forward.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 3. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

$7,100 FanDuel/$6,300 DraftKings - vs Taron Johnson

The Bills Defense has been pretty solid so far this season, but they can be exposed in the passing game opposite Tre'Davious White. White does not follow receivers to the slot and he should line up on Robert Woods for much of the game meaning Cooper Kupp could be in for a big day. The Bills have been very stout against the run, giving up just 4.1 yards-per-carry and just 151 yards on the ground so far this season, which means the Rams will need to put the ball in the air a lot in this game especially since the Bills are favored.

 

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

$6,900 Fanduel/$6,200 DraftKings - vs Isaiah Oliver

The Falcons Defense has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season, surrendering more than 15 fantasy points to four wide receivers through two games. Allen Robinson has underwhelmed so far in 2020, but that's not his fault, as Mitchell Trubisky has been throwing a lot of uncatchable balls his way. Robinson may have let us down in Week 2, but the matchup won't get much better than this. If Robinson can't get it done against the Falcons you seriously need to consider benching him moving forward.

Pivot: Darius Slayton, NY Giants - $5,500 FanDuel/$4,900 DraftKings - vs Emmanuel Moseley

The 49ers Defense has been solid through the first two weeks of the season, giving up just 409 yards through the air and 8.7 yards-per-catch, but those stats are somewhat aided by the fact that the 49ers played the Jets and their terrible offense last week. The 49ers were absolutely decimated by injuries in Week 2 which means Daniel Jones should have time to throw against the normally dominant 49ers defensive front. The Giants also suffered some injuries in Week 2, losing both Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard which means the Giants will likely need to throw the ball in Slayton's direction more often.

 

Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

$6,700 FanDuel/$5,900 DraftKings - vs Terrance Mitchell

The Browns Defense has been stingy against the run so far in 2020, giving up just 3.3 yards-per-carry which has forced teams to put the ball in the air against them. As a result, the Browns have given up the third-most receiving yards-per-game and the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The Browns defensive line will give the Washington offensive line fits in the running game, which means McLaurin should see plenty of targets in Week 3.

 

D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

$6,500 FanDuel/$6,500 DraftKings - vs Chibode Owuzie

The Cowboys Defense has been struggling so far this season and they're banged up in the secondary, including Chibode Owuzie, which is problematic. D.K. Metcalf has delivered several big plays so far this season and there's no reason to think he won't continue to dominate as the Cowboys have surrendered a league-high 10 catches of over 20 yards so far this year. The over/under between the Cowboys and Seahawks is set as 56.5 points so it makes sense to get the Cowboys and Seahawks receivers in your lineups.

 

Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

$6,100 FanDuel/$5,800 DraftKings - vs Patrick Peterson

The Cardinals Defense has given up 12.7 yards-per-catch so far this season which is fourth-worst in the league. The Lions will finally get Kenny Golladay back this week which should take some attention away from Marvin Jones. The over/under between the Lions and Cardinals is set at 55.5 points which means there should be lots of points scored in this one, so it makes sense to get Jones in your lineup because the Lions never fully commit to the run and are likely to throw a lot.

 

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

$5,800 FanDuel/$5,900 DraftKings - vs Nickell Robey-Coleman

The Eagles Defense is fairly stout against the run, surrendering just 3.6 yards-per-carry which means Joe Mixon likely won't have a ton of success on the ground in Week 3. The Eagles are favored in this one and given the Bengals struggles in the running game, they're going to put the ball in the air a lot this week. A.J. Green will have a tough matchup on the outside against Darius Slay, which will leave Tyler Boyd with the much easier matchup out of the slot. In Week 2, Cooper Kupp had five catches for 81 yards out of the slot in a Rams win. The Bengals will likely need to throw a lot more than the 27 times that Jared Goff put it in the air last week, so Boyd should see more volume than Kupp did.

Pivot: Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - $5,600 FanDuel/$5,100 DraftKings - vs Buster Skrine

The Bears Defense is fairly tough against opposing wide receivers but Buster Skrine has been picked on out of the slot. Russell Gage is especially appealing in Week 3 because Julio Jones is dealing with a hamstring injury, which means Gage may see additional targets from Matt Ryan. The Falcons defense is not capable of stopping anybody, so the offense will need to score a lot in order to come out of this one with a win.

 

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

$5,600 FanDuel/$5,400 DraftKings - vs Ugo Amadi

The Seahawks Defense has given up the most fantasy points to wide receivers through the first two weeks of the season, and they've been absolutely gashed by opposing slot receivers. In Week 1 the Seahawks gave up 114 yards to Russell Gage and in Week 2 they surrendered 179 yards to Julian Edelman. Both the Cowboys and Seahawks defenses are banged up heading into this one, so look for this game to be a shootout with the over/under set at 56.5 points.



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Devonta Freeman Is Back! Fantasy Outlook in N.Y.

We are only two weeks into the 2020 NFL season and we've already seen some of the biggest studs in the game go down to injury. Michael Thomas went down with an injured ankle in Week 1 and in Week 2, the consensus top-two picks in fantasy drafts, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley both went down. While McCaffrey is likely to be out for just a few weeks, Barkley will miss the entire season with a torn ACL which makes replacing Barkley more critical.

Former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman received several offers from NFL teams throughout free agency, but he opted to remain a free agent while waiting for the right opportunity to come along. As soon as Saquon Barkley tore his ACL, that opportunity called, and on September 22, 2020, Freeman signed a contract with the New York Giants. Freeman will now compete with Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman for snaps out of the Giants backfield.

Devonta Freeman was once considered a top-15 pick in fantasy leagues and had some very dominant years. However, over the last few seasons, Freeman struggled to run behind the Falcons' poor offensive line and dealt with some injuries which slowed him. Freeman will definitely have an opportunity to carry the ball for the Giants in 2020, but it will be interesting to see if he can be productive like he was in 2016. Now, we will take a dive into the Giants backfield to see how Freeman's situation looks.

 

Are the Giants the Right Fit?

Jason Garrett is the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants and while he's had a history of favoring the run while coaching in Dallas, keep in mind that he had Ezekiel Elliott at running back. The Giants improved their offensive line in the 2020 offseason, adding Andrew Thomas through the draft and even though Nate Solder opted out of the season, the unit is improved overall. The Giants offensive line has looked a little shaky through the first two weeks of the season, but keep in mind that they had two brutal matchups against the Steelers Defense and the 49ers Defense to start the season, both of which have tremendous defensive lines which made things difficult for the Giants rushing attack.

Daniel Jones does like to check the ball down to running backs which should help Freeman's fantasy football outlook. Through the first two games of the season, Jones threw the ball 81 times which is the fifth-most in the NFL. Out of those 81 attempts, 16 of them went to Giants running backs.

 

The Old Devonta Freeman

Now, let's dig into some stats over Freeman's first six years in the NFL to see how he performed. In 2015 and 2016, Freeman remained healthy, playing in 15 and 16 games, respectively. In each of those seasons, Freeman carried the rock over 225 times and exceeded 1,000 yards on the ground. Freeman also found the endzone 27 times during that same span. Freeman has also averaged at least 4.0 yards-per-carry in each season he's played with the exception of 2019 when he only gained 3.6 yards-per-carry. While Freeman's yards-per-carry was low in 2019, his yards-after-contact was 2.43, which was decent. For context, Melvin Gordon carried the ball 2.46 yards-after-contact in 2019.

Devonta Freeman has been a serviceable pass catcher during his career, logging over 50 catches three times in his career, with his career-high of 73 catches coming back in 2015. Both the Falcons Defense and offensive line struggled in 2019 and as a result, Freeman saw 70 targets in the passing game because the Falcons were often playing from behind. The Giants may be in a similar situation in 2020 which means Freeman should be very active in the passing game.

 

2020 Fantasy Value

Devonta Freeman has been an RB1 in the recent past and has demonstrated the ability to carry a full-workload. Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman have been given a chance to get it done in the past, and they simply haven't been able to get it done. This means Freeman should see a majority of the running back work for the Giants which makes him very appealing.

While Freeman will likely see both rushing and pass-target volume in the Giants offense, the question becomes, who do you play him over? Fantasy drafts are already in the books and our rosters are likely set for the most part. If you drafted Saquon Barkley or Christian McCaffrey and you don't have depth at the position, then the decision whether to play Freeman will likely be easy if you're desperate at the position.

After taking an initial glance at the running back landscape, it goes without saying that Devonta Freeman belongs nowhere near the top-15 at the position. When you start looking at the back-end RB2s and the high-end RB3s, Freeman starts to fit in with those players. Now, let's take a look at some players who may have value similar to Freeman's.

David Johnson (currently RB-21) had a big Week 1 but Week 2 didn't go well against a very good Ravens Defense. If Freeman is used heavily in the Giants passing game, he may rival David Johnson for production, but that would be his ceiling, a back-end RB2. Devin Singletary was likely drafted as an RB2, but through two weeks he isn't producing like it because he's splitting time with Zack Moss. If Freeman sees over 50% of the Giants snaps in Week 3 and receives 15 touches, he will likely pop ahead of running backs such as Devin Singletary in rankings. If you were expecting any production from Jordan Howard in 2020, you are likely disappointed through the first two weeks of the season. Freeman could take Jordan Howard's place on your roster as your RB2 or Flex if you expected Howard to have a significant role in the Dolphins offense.

Todd Gurley has carried the ball 35 times for the Falcons so far in 2020, but he simply isn't getting any work in the passing game, receiving just five targets through the first two games. I hesitate to say this due to the potency of the Falcons offense, but if Freeman shows well in early action for the Giants, he might start to creep into the Todd Gurley, RB2-territory. If you drafted Ronald Jones II and you don't have a contingency plan behind him, Freeman could be a nice backup plan should Leonard Fournette hang on to the job in Tampa Bay.

 

Conclusion

In summary, Devonta Freeman is a three-down back and is extremely capable as a receiver. The Giants Defense looks to be struggling early on and if the Giants continue to trail in games, Freeman may see a ton of check-downs in the passing game. While Freeman has been in the league since 2014, he's still just 28-years old and he did miss almost the entire 2018 season which means he didn't experience the wear and tear that goes with an NFL season that year.

While Freeman does look to have some serious potential, we need to be careful out of the gate because he did just sign with the Giants on Tuesday, and it's asking a lot to have him ready to play on Sunday. Assuming he's active, Freeman should only be placed in your Week 3 lineup if you're truly desperate at the position. Moving forward, however, I am comfortable using Freeman as a back-end RB2 or Flex.



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Week 2 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

In Week 2, the quarterback position was fairly predictable as Dak Prescott, Cam Newton, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray finished in the top-five with Matt Ryan and Patrick Mahomes finishing as QB-6 and QB-7, respectively. The main surprise from Week 2 was Lamar Jackson's modest performance, barely finishing inside the top-20 as the Ravens Defense was spectacular and Jackson simply didn't need to do a lot in this one. Tight end was a little problematic in Week 2 as both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert both underwhelmed. Chris Herndon figured to have an active day for the Jets with Jamison Crowder out of the lineup, but he was almost non-existent in the Jets offense. On the positive side of things, Hayden Hurst appears to have emerged for the Falcons and Jonnu Smith continued to ascend for the Titans.

At wide receiver, Davante Adams flopped after scoring 41.60 points in Week 1 which was a big surprise. Mike Evans followed up his poor Week 1 performance with a top-five showing while Calvin Ridley found the end zone twice, finishing as the top wide receiver on the week. Chase Claypool caught a bomb that he took to the house which propelled him into WR2 territory, but he was only targeted three times so he's not really on the radar in re-draft leagues yet unless you're in a very deep league.

Aaron Jones had a massive game in Week 2, scoring three touchdowns against the Lions, while both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt dominated the Bengals Defense on their way to top-five performances. James Robinson finished the week as an RB1 while James Conner and Miles Sanders returned to action in Week 2, both registering RB1 performances.

 

Braxton Berrios, New York Jets

Week 2 Stats: 8 targets, 6 catches, 59 yards, 1 TD

Sam Darnold loves throwing short passes to the middle of the field and with Jamison Crowder out of the lineup, Braxton Berrios filled that role, playing on 71% of the Jets snaps in Week 2. The slot seems to be the only position the Jets can get any success out of in the passing game which makes Berrios appealing.

Bottom Line: If Jamison Crowder remains out of the lineup, Berrios is a viable option, especially in PPR formats.

 

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Week 2 Stats: 6 targets, 4 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD

Odell Beckham Jr. was clearly Baker Mayfield's favorite target in Week 1 and and he followed it up with another six targets in Week 2. While Beckham failed to haul in any deep shots in Week 1, he did come through with a big play in Week 2 which he took for a score. Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. both looked bad in Week 1 which caused many people to panic. Both Mayfield and Beckham looked better in Week 2 against the Bengals, however, Mayfield only threw the ball 23 times because the Browns controlled the game on the ground with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Bottom Line: If you were uneasy about Odell Beckham Jr. after his Week 1 performance, then you should consider this your window to trade him while he's coming off a hot game. If you are bullish on Beckham and are willing to accept the peaks and valleys of his production given the Browns offensive philosophy to run the ball, then hold steady.

 

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Week 2 Stats: 4 targets, 2 catches, 24 yards

Julio Jones narrowly missed a long catch in Week 2, but regardless, he was only targeted four times. On the season, Calvin Ridley has 22 targets, Russell Gage has 21 targets and Julio Jones has 16 targets. While Julio Jones has yet to score in 2020, that will likely correct itself. Jones is also being targeted an average of 17.06 yards down the field which is one of the best marks in the league.

Bottom Line: Julio Jones is still an elite wide receiver and is still being treated as such by the Falcons. Monitor Jones' injury status because he appeared to be a little gimpy at times on Sunday, and if he remains off of the injury report, consider him a buy-low candidate.

 

Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers

Week 2 Stats: 10 targets, 9 catches, 109 yards

Through the first two weeks of the season, Robby Anderson has 18 targets which ties him for sixth-most in the NFL. Anderson is currently a top-five wide receiver in PPR with the fourth-most receiving yards in the league.

Bottom Line: Robby Anderson appears to be the real deal in Carolina. The Panthers are going to be playing from behind a lot in 2020 and Anderson is clearly one of Teddy Bridgewater's favorite targets. Anderson is still available in 38% of leagues, so if he's still out there in your league, you should be proactive getting him on your roster.

 

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 2 Stats: 12 carries, 103 yards, 2 TD, 5 targets, 4 catches, 13 yards

Ronald Jones II fumbled early in the Buccaneers Week 2 contest against the Panthers and Leonard Fournette took over from there. Fournette played 43% of the snaps compared to just 34% for Jones who had played 47% of the snaps in Week 1.

Bottom Line: When games are on the line, a coach's actions can speak volumes. Ronald Jones fumbled in Week 2 and it was the Leonard Fournette show from there on out. Fournette should be considered an RB2 moving forward.

 

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

Week 2 Stats: 3 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD, 1 target

After Raheem Mostert went down with an injured knee, Jerick McKinnon played just 21% of the snaps for the 49ers in Week 2 which was actually down from the 31% he played in Week 1. Tevin Coleman actually led the way for the 49ers backfield in Week 2, playing 49% of the snaps, but he was very inefficient, carrying the ball 14 times for just 12 yards against the Jets run defense. McKinnon didn't touch the ball much in Week 2 but he did take one of his carries 55 yards to the house.

Bottom Line: The 49ers have a much easier matchup in Week 3 against the Giants Defense and if you're in a pinch, McKinnon will be a viable option. Monitor Tevin Coleman's injury status throughout the week, because if he misses Week 3, McKinnon could get some serious run and produce in a big way.

 

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 2 Stats: 26-of-43 passing, 242 yards, 2 INT, 2 attempts, 7 yards, 1 TD

Through the first two weeks of the regular season Carson Wentz has four interceptions compared to just two touchdowns and he's thrown for just 512 yards. Wentz has less fantasy points than Ryan Tannehill, Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater. This is now two weeks in a row when the Eagles had a matchup against a great defensive line, and Wentz struggled.

Bottom Line: Wentz got Lane Johnson back at tackle this week but the Rams defensive line still gave the Eagles major problems. In Week 3 the Eagles will play against a Bengals defense which has been a very giving unit so far this season. If Wentz can't get the job done against the Bengals then you need to hit the panic button.

 

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

Week 2 Stats: 5 carries, 4 yards, 1 TD

Through two weeks of football, Jordan Howard has carried the ball 13 times for just 11 yards and two touchdowns. To make matters worse, Howard hasn't been targeted in the passing game. Through the first two weeks of the season, Howard is only playing 12% of the snaps compared to 64% for Myles Gaskin. Howard currently sits at RB-50 on the season.

Bottom Line: Myles Gaskin is clearly the running back to roster in Miami. Howard is borderline droppable at this point unless Gaskin suffers an injury. Howard should only be rostered in deeper formats.

 

Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers

Week 2 Stats: 8 targets, 7 catches, 50 yards, 2 TD

George Kittle was out of the lineup in Week 2 because of a sprained knee and Jordan Reed had a decent game in his place. While Reed scored twice, he still only played 46% of the offensive snaps.

Bottom Line: George Kittle should return to the lineup in Week 3 which means Jordan Reed will return to the bench. Kittle does, however, get banged up from time to time, so this has at least shown us that Reed can come through if he's forced into action.

 

Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 2 Stats: 9 targets, 7 catches, 45 yards

Drew Sample isn't known for his catching abilities but after C.J. Uzomah went down with a torn achilles, Sample was one of Joe Burrow's favorite targets. While Sample didn't light the world on fire with yardage, he is clearly going to see a lot of volume because Burrow has success in the short and intermediate passing game.

Bottom Line: Drew Sample looks to be a top-20 option moving forward, and if you're having trouble at tight end you should make him a priority on waivers, especially in PPR formats.

 

Darrell Henderson Jr., LA Rams

Week 2 Stats: 12 carries, 81 yards, 1 TD, 3 targets, 2 catches, 40 yards

Darrell Henderson Jr. played on 42% of the Rams offensive snaps in Week 2 after Cam Akers suffered an injury to his ribs which is a massive increase from the 7% he played in Week 1.

Bottom Line: Henderson looks to be a viable option in deeper leagues as long as Cam Akers remains out of the lineup. The Rams backfield is going to be a tough situation to navigate once Akers returns.



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 2

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and some major curveballs were definitely thrown our way. On the positive side, D.K. Metcalf, Allen Lazard and John Brown, all of which were mentioned in this article last week, had big games. While Chris Godwin didn't have a massive game for the Buccaneers, he also didn't hurt you if he was in your lineup. On the negative side, the most consistent wide receiver in fantasy football over the last few years, Michael Thomas, was an absolute dud in Week 1 before getting hurt, and if you played him at his high salary, it likely crushed your lineup. D.J. Moore and DeSean Jackson also underwhelmed while Christian Kirk and Chris Conley were almost non-existent. In the case of Chris Conley, Keelan Cole surprisingly played ahead of him which brought his snap share down tremendously. Out of the nine receivers referenced in last week's wide receiver matchups article, only four of them came through, so we need to do better in Week 2.

Nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. Through one week of action, the Dolphins, Patriots, Saints, Chargers and Buccaneers Defenses are looking fairly stingy against the pass. The Washington defense performed well against the Eagles in Week 1, but I want to see more out of them before we declare them a problematic matchup because the Eagles were missing Lane Johnson at right tackle, and they're a different team without him in the lineup. On the weaker side, the Packers, Falcons, Cowboys, Colts, Panthers and Vikings all gave up north of 8.0 yards-per-attempt in Week 1 which means these are defenses we may want to exploit moving forward.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 2. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

$7,400 FanDuel/$6,400 DraftKings - vs Donte Jackson

Mike Evans has a seven-inch height advantage over Donte Jackson who is better suited to cover quicker wide receivers, not as much the big guys. In 2019 Evans had 13 catches for 157 yards against the Panthers, but one of those contests was a Thursday night game that was rather sloppy. The Panthers Defense lost James Bradberry from its secondary who has given Evans some problems over the years, so look for Tom Brady to target Evans early and often in Week 2, especially with Chris Godwin iffy to play due to the concussion he suffered in Week 1.

 

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

$7,000 Fanduel/$6,400 DraftKings - vs Corey Ballentine

Allen Robinson should see a lot of Corey Ballentine in coverage in Week 2. Ballentine struggles in coverage and gives up 1.56 yards-per-route covered and an 80% catch-rate. The Giants Defense struggled against the Steelers on Monday night and the quick turnaround likely won't help their cause. Trubisky's accuracy is a little bit of a concern, but Robinson should lead the Bears in targets as he's their only wide receiver that played over 50% of the offensive snaps in Week 1.

Pivot: Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears - $5,700 FanDuel/$5,200 DraftKings - vs Darnay Holmes

Anthony Miller has an even better matchup than Allen Robinson this week out of the slot. Miller will see Darnay Holmes in coverage who surrenders 1.86 yards-per-route covered and an 83% catch-rate. The concern with Miller is that the Bears used multiple tight ends a lot in Week 1, which led to Miller playing just 42% of the Bears snaps. Miller is a matchup-based option in deeper leagues and a decent DFS tournament option.

 

Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

$6,500 FanDuel/$5,900 DraftKings - vs Dre Kirkpatrick

Terry McLaurin gets moved around the formation a lot by Washington but he should see Dre Kirkpatrick when Washington is in 11-personnel and Byron Murphy when Washington only has two receivers on the field. While Murphy is an ascending player giving up just a 40% catch-rate, Kirkpatrick surrenders a 75% catch-rate and 1.53 yards-per-route covered which is not good. Kirkpatrick has also been notorious for giving up the big play over the last few seasons while playing for Cincinnati, which is positive for McLaurin's outlook.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

$6,200 FanDuel/$6,200 DraftKings - vs Bradley Roby

Last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, Bradley Roby appeared to shadow Tyreek Hill for much of the game, holding him in check for the most part. While Roby kept Hill in check, Lamar Jackson's running ability will present a different element to the game that the Texans Defense didn't need to account for last week against the Chiefs. The Texans will likely need to bring extra defenders into the box to slow the Ravens running game, which will likely leave Brown singled up on Roby without any help, making him extremely dangerous. While Roby did a good job last week, he does give up 0.43 fantasy points-per-route which is one of the worst marks in the league and an 83% catch-rate which is not great. The over/under in this game is 50 points, so expect a shootout.

Pivot: Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers  - $5,800 FanDuel/$4,500 DraftKings - vs Michael Ojemudia

Marquise Brown doesn't always get a ton of volume in the Ravens offense and if that concerns you, then you may want to pivot over to Diontae Johnson. Rookie cornerback Michael Ojemudia was forced into action after A.J. Bouye went down in Week 1 and he performed fairly well in coverage. Ojemudia held A.J. Brown in check for the most part in Week 1, but you could argue that Brown failed to make some plays he should have made, and it was later disclosed that Brown was playing with a bone bruise on his knee which bothered him. Diontae Johnson saw 10 targets in Week 1 and the Steelers may look to exploit this rookie cornerback in coverage, especially since the Broncos Defense is solid against the run.

 

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

$6,000 FanDuel/$5,600 DraftKings - vs Isaiah Oliver

Last week D.K. Metcalf lined up against Isaiah Oliver for much of the day and ended up with four catches, 95 yards and one touchdown. Metcalf's long catch of the day was 38 yards which means Oliver can be burned in coverage. Oliver surrenders a staggering 2.05 yards-per-route covered and a 75% catch-rate. The Falcons secondary is vulnerable on the outside which makes me lean towards Gallup in Week 2, especially since Dak Prescott was looking for Gallup deep in Week 1, even when he was covered by Jalen Ramsey. This game has the highest over/under on the week at 53.5 points, so there will likely be some fireworks in this one.

 

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

$4,600 FanDuel/$4,500 DraftKings - vs Mike Hughes

Parris Campbell was one of the must-adds on waiver wires this week after he led all Colts receivers with six catches and 71 yards in Week 1. Looking ahead to Week 2, it's logical to expect big things out of Campbell because he was clearly Philip Rivers' favorite wide receiver playing out of the slot. If you look at what the Packers did against the Vikings in Week 1, Davante Adams absolutely torched the Vikings secondary, much of which came out of the slot. If Week 1 was any indication of the future, Rivers should continue to look Campbell's way similar to the way he looked for Keenan Allen in the slot when he still played for the Chargers. Campbell's Week 2 outlook looks especially good because he has some serious speed which should give Mike Hughes some trouble.

Pivot:Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions - $5,200 FanDuel/$4,800 DraftKings - vs Chandon Sullivan

Kenny Golladay is out again this week which means Danny Amendola will see more snaps and targets out of the slot. Last week Amendola was targeted seven times and was able to haul in five of them for 81 yards. The Packers are favored by six points over the Lions and the game has an over/under set at 49 points which means the Lions will likely need to throw the ball a lot.



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Week 1 Outliers Analysis - We Must Overreact!

In Week 1, the quarterback position was rather stable as Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray finished inside the top-five. Through Sunday's games, Gardner Minshew II finished as QB12 which surprised most, while Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes underwhelmed just a little, finishing as QB2's. Tight end was a little less predictable as David Njoku, Logan Thomas and O.J. Howard all finished inside the top-10. Some of the usual studs such as Zach Ertz, Darren Waller and George Kittle were each involved in their respective offenses, but had modest days and finished as TE2's.

At wide receiver, Davante Adams led the way with 41.60 points, hauling in 14 of his 17 targets for 156 yards and two touchdowns. John Brown was thought to be the forgotten man in Buffalo after the signing of Stefon Diggs, but Brown was the recipient of 10 targets, finishing as a top-15 receiver. One of the main offseason discussions at the wide receiver position was whether Cooper Kupp would play enough snaps to be a viable WR2 if the Rams deployed 12-personnel a majority of the time, and the answer was yes, as both Kupp and Robert Woods played at least 84% of the snaps in Week 1.

Josh Jacobs was dominant in Week 1, toting the ball 25 times, scoring three touchdowns while hauling in four passes for 46 yards, finishing as RB1 on the week. Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Nyheim Hines and Malcolm Brown rounded out the top-five running backs for Week 1. Joe Mixon's performance for the Bengals was underwhelming, but he did carry the ball 19 times against a dangerous Chargers Defense which is a good sign for his future outlook. Week 1 is now in the rearview mirror, and now we need to look ahead and evaluate how to move forward to Week 2.

 

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Week 1 Stats: 10 targets, 3 catches, 22 yards

Odell Beckham Jr. was clearly Baker Mayfield's favorite target in Week 1 with 10, while Jarvis Landry received six targets. Beckham did have a couple drops, but in fairness to him, Mayfield was inaccurate at times against the Ravens and he was interfered with a few times by Marlon Humphrey, which took away a few potential big plays.

Bottom Line: I know that this may be an unpopular opinion, but Beckham is a buy-low candidate. I understand the common narrative is that Beckham simply isn't the same and he won't do well for the Browns, but his performance would have been much better if not for the pass interference against him, and you need to remember the Ravens have a very good defensive backfield. Give it a little more time before you give up on Beckham.

 

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 1 Stats: 5 targets, 5 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD

Keelan Cole was clearly the Jaguars No. 2 option in the passing game in Week 1, playing 66% of the Jaguars snaps, compared to 84% for D.J. Chark, 62% for Laviska Shenault Jr. and just 32% for Chris Conley.

Bottom Line: Keelan Cole was relevant in 2017 and then he fell off the map when Blake Bortles began to struggle and never regained his form. Cole is worth an add in deeper leagues and may have some value down the stretch. Stay tuned and monitor the Jaguars snap counts.

 

Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers

Week 1 Stats: 8 targets, 6 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD, 2PT

Robby Anderson exploded in Week 1, but a majority of his production came on his 75-yard touchdown. On that play, Anderson caught the ball about 26 yards down the field, the Raiders defensive back took a poor angle trying to meet Anderson at the ball, completely missed, and Anderson took the ball 49 yards after-the-catch for the touchdown. At first glance you would think that this is a typical boom-or-bust performance from Robby Anderson, coming through because of one big play, but that wasn't the case. Anderson played on 82% of the Panthers snaps, was targeted eight times in the game, compared to nine for DJ Moore and eight for Curtis Samuel.

Bottom Line: In shallower leagues, if Anderson is on the waiver wire, he is definitely worth a bench spot. If you are in a tough spot in Week 2, Anderson could serve as your WR3 or a flex, but personally, I want to see how Teddy Bridgewater distributes the ball in Week 2 and see a larger sample before I trust him in my lineups.

 

Mark Ingram II, Baltimore Ravens

Week 1 Stats: 10 carries, 29 yards

J.K. Dobbins was a Week 1 darling for the Ravens, scoring two touchdowns, but if he didn't score twice, his day would have been sub-par, rushing for just 22 yards on seven carries. Mark Ingram had an underwhelming day, but he still led the Ravens backfield in carries with 10, compared to seven for Dobbins and just four for Gus Edwards. It's early, but this may be a committee moving forward as Ingram played 21 snaps, Dobbins played 23 snaps, and Gus Edwards played on 15 snaps.

Bottom Line: The Browns were pretty tough against the run in Week 1 and the Ravens ran just over 50 plays in the game which doesn't bode well for volume running. The Ravens backfield is shaping up to be somewhat of a committee which is concerning, but as of now Ingram still looks to be the leader of that committee. Hold steady for now, but if Ingram has a big game in the next few weeks you may want to consider selling high.

 

Peyton Barber, Washington Football Team

Week 1 Stats: 17 carries, 29 yards, 2 TD, 1 target

After Adrian Peterson was cut from the roster, most thought that Antonio Gibson would be the primary ball-carrier for Washington. That was not the case, Bryce Love was a healthy scratch, and Peyton Barber toted the rock 17 times.

Bottom Line: Barber is not an exciting player and he's only rostered in 3% of Yahoo leagues. While carrying the ball 17 times, Barber averaged just 1.7 yards-per-carry. You know what you're getting with Barber, and you should only add him to your roster if you're absolutely desperate and don't mind playing him and hoping for a touchdown.

 

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Week 16 Stats: 24-of-42 passing, 270 yards, 2 TD, 1 carry, 2 yards

Carson Wentz was supposed to tear up the Washington defense in Week 1 with all of the new receiving threats on the Eagles, but that didn't happen. Wentz was constantly under duress by the Washington front seven and looked to be somewhat out of sync at times.

Bottom Line: Wentz is a high-end quarterback with solid weapons, unlike 2019. It's early, and you should remain patient, because once Wentz settles in he'll be great.

 

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 1 Stats: 5 targets, 4 catches, 33 yards

As I speculated in my wide receiver matchups piece from Week 1, Tyler Boyd saw a lot of coverage from Chris Harris Jr. in Week 1 which gave him trouble. On another note, Burrow was under duress for much of the day, taking unnecessary risks, and at times he was trying to be a hero. While Burrow was a little shaky in his first start, that's expected, and he did show glimpses of his potential, showing us why he was selected first overall in the NFL draft.

Bottom Line: Hold steady on Tyler Boyd if you have him on your team, and if the Boyd-manager is restless, consider buying low. This was likely Boyd's toughest matchup of the season.

 

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Week 1 Stats: 10 carries, 60 yards, 1 target, 1 catch, 6 yards, 1 fumble lost

Nick Chubb played on just 48% of the Browns snaps in Week 1 finishing as RB47 on the week. Chubb was never really able to get going in this one as the Ravens led for the entire contest, forcing the Browns to throw the ball more than they would have liked. The Browns also turned the ball over some, including a Baker Mayfield interception and a Chubb fumble which likely cost Chubb some rushing volume.

Bottom Line: Nick Chubb had a difficult matchup and the game script didn't help. This was likely Chubb's worst game of the season and he's a prime buy-low candidate.

 

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

Week 1 Stats: 7 carries, 28 yards, 1 TD, 8 targets, 8 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD

Nyheim Hines was very involved in the Colts offense in Week 1, scoring a touchdown on the ground and through the air. Hines had a role from the start of the game, but when it was all said and done, Hines and Taylor both ended up with 15 touches.

Bottom Line: Hines has a role in this offense. We spent the entire offseason speculating whether Austin Ekeler would continue his 2019-form, but we should have looked to Hines as Philip Rivers' new Austin Ekeler. Hines is rostered in just 19% of Yahoo leagues and he's a must-add in PPR leagues.

 

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

Week 1 Stats: 8 targets, 4 catches, 37 yards, 1 TD

Logan Thomas has been an intriguing player ever since he entered the league out of Virginia Tech and attempted to switch from quarterback to tight end. The stars aligned in Week 1, Thomas finally got his shot in Washington, playing 74% of the snaps in Week 1 and appears to be involved in the passing game.

Bottom Line: Logan Thomas led all Washington tight ends in snaps and looks to have a legitimate role in the offense. That being said, Thomas should only be started in deeper leagues or if you're desperate, as there's still plenty of viable, more proven options out there.

 

Jordan Akins, Houston Texans

Week 1 Stats: 2 targets, 2 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD

As always, Jordan Akins looked great when he had the ball in his hands. Akins is very athletic, and he played 81% of the offensive snaps compared to Darren Fells who played on just 42% of the offensive snaps. Akins came through because he scored and although he played on 81% of the Texans offensive snaps, he has teased us before and let us down after blowing up the week before.

Bottom Line: Deshaun Watson simply doesn't throw the ball to his tight ends with regularity. Unless you're extremely desperate at the position or in an extremely deep league, Akins should probably remain on the waiver wire unless he earns a more consistent role.



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 1

Week 1 of the NFL season is upon us and considering the fact that we didn't have a preseason, we have less information than ever to project how new players and coaches will impact teams on both sides of the ball.  Early on in the season, we will need to use 2019 data to project how new players and coaches will make an impact until we have a representative sample of data to rely on for the 2020 season. One situation that is worth monitoring is the Chargers secondary. While Desmond King played the slot for the Chargers in 2019, they signed Chris Harris Jr. in free agency who wanted to play for a team where he could play the slot. If Harris does play the slot, Tyler Boyd could have some problems this week, but if it's King, then Boyd could have a huge game. Until we have more information, we will do our best to help you construct your DFS rosters and set your seasonal-league lineups with wide receivers that have advantageous matchups.

Nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. Playing your teams’ best players on a regular basis is important, but picking apart the top matchups on a week-to-week basis can win you a championship, or even better, some cold hard cash in DFS. Matchups for the wide receiver position aren’t always as black and white as they can be for other positions. Receivers need to be broken down even deeper by analyzing the potential cornerback matchup they’re going to draw. The data used here, such as fantasy points allowed per route covered, and whether cornerbacks line up predominantly on the left side, right side, and in the slot, is courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 1. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

$8,800 FanDuel/$9,000 DraftKings vs Jamel Dean

Out of all the high-end wide receivers this week, I am going with Michael Thomas. In 2019 Thomas scored three touchdowns across two games against the Buccaneers and gained 182 and 114 yards in each respective contest. Tampa Bay was lethal against the run in 2019, giving up just 3.3 yards-per-carry, and there's no reason to think that will be any different in 2020. The addition of Emmanuel Sanders is a little concerning for Thomas because it means Drew Brees has another competent receiver to throw to, but it also means the Buccaneers have another receiver they need to concern themselves with which should help to free up Thomas. The Saints will need to throw a lot in this one to move the ball against the Buccaneers Defense, and Thomas should be the recipient of many of those passes. The Over/Under is set at 47.5 points which means the game should be high scoring. If you don't want to pay Thomas' steep price, you may want to pivot.

Pivot: Chris Godwin - $7,700 FanDuel/$7,100 DraftKings - vs P.J. Williams

Chris Godwin primarily plays the slot when the Buccaneers are in 11-personnel which means he will see a lot of P.J. Williams. The Saints' best cornerback is Marcus Lattimore and he figures to line up on Mike Evans exclusively. In two games against the Saints in 2019, Evans had a total of four catches for just 69 yards and zero touchdowns, and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to struggle against Lattimore this weekend. The Saints Defense is fairly strong against the run, giving up less than 100 yards-per-game on the ground in 2019, which means the Buccaneers will surely need to put the ball in the air a lot in this one. All signs point to Godwin having a big game which makes him a viable high-end wide receiver option in DFS this week. It's also worth noting that Godwin scored three touchdowns in two games against the Saints in 2019.

 

D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

$7,100 FanDuel/$6,600 DraftKings vs Damon Arnette

Vegas has the Over/Under of this game set at 47 points and the Raiders are favored which means the Panthers will likely need to throw a lot in this one. Teddy Bridgewater is the new quarterback for Carolina this year and he doesn't typically throw the ball down the field, registering an average depth of target of just 6.1 yards in 2019, which ranked him 37th in the league. Bridgewater's tendencies are bad for Robby Anderson but good for DJ Moore who works primarily in the short to intermediate areas of the field. Given the projected game flow, Moore could be in line for a lot of targets in this contest.

Pivot: D.K. Metcalf - $6,400 FanDuel/$5,800DraftKings - vs Isaiah Oliver

The Seahawks are a run-first team, but the Falcons Defense was actually alright against the run in 2019, giving up just 4.2 yards-per-carry on the ground. Vegas has this game pegged with a 48.5 Over/Under which means the Seahawks and Falcons should both put some serious points on the board. D.K. Metcalf figures to see a lot of Isaiah Oliver in coverage this week who struggled in 2019, surrendering a 67% catch-rate and 1.45 yards-per-route which he covered. Metcalf likely won't see as much volume as DJ Moore, but he is more of a big-play threat and tends to score more than Moore.

 

John Brown, Buffalo Bills

$6,100 FanDuel/$5,600 DraftKings - vs Pierre Desir

All of the off-season hype in Buffalo has been around Zack Moss and Stefon Diggs which makes it easy to forget that John Brown gained over 1,000 yards in 2019. The opposition will surely need to pay attention to Diggs, which should open up more space for John Brown to operate. Brown is a burner and he will see a lot of Pierre Desir on Sunday. While Desir is a decent cornerback, he's not the fastest player in the world and may have trouble containing Brown, especially if the Jets Defense rolls coverage towards Diggs.

 

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

$5,800 FanDuel/$5,000 DraftKings - vs Richard Sherman

This offseason all of the attention has been on the Cardinals acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins  and Kenyan Drake's breakout potential while Christian Kirk seems to be lost in the shuffle after his injury-slowed 2019 campaign. Entering his third year in the league, with a now second-year quarterback Kyler Murray, Kirk should be in for a big season because opposing defenses will focus on slowing down Hopkins. Kirk figures to line up against Richard Sherman for much of the matchup against the 49ers this weekend which is a positive for Kirk as Sherman was somewhat exposed and beat deep at times during the 2019 season.

 

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

$5,700 FanDuel/$4,900 DraftKings - vs Fabian Moreau

The Philadelphia Eagles typically move their wide receivers around the formation to get their play-makers the ball, but DeSean Jackson should see Fabian Moreau for most of the game this week. While Moreau has the wheels to keep up with a player like DeSean Jackson, he's simply not on Jackson's level. With Jalen Reagor banged up, things are setting up for DeSean Jackson to be Eagles' leading receiver this week. If Reagor does end up suiting up this week and you don't feel good about Jackson, you may want to pivot.

Pivot: Allen Lazard ($5,500 FanDuel/$4,900DraftKings) vs Mike Hughes

The Minnesota Vikings secondary has some new faces in it in 2020 and Allen Lazard will have a seven-inch height advantage over Mike Hughes who figures to cover him for most of this contest. Lazard started once against the Vikings in 2019 and was targeted nine times in that game, hauling in just five for 45 yards. While Lazard is clearly the No. 2 wide receiver in Green Bay behind Davante Adams, he could be in for a decent day given his clear size advantage over Mike Hughes.

 

Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars

$5,100 FanDuel/$4,000 DraftKings - vs Xavier Rhodes

On the low-end, Chris Conley may be a guy you can throw into your tournament lineups or as your WR3 in cash-games which would allow you to squeeze some high-end guys into your lineup. Over the last two seasons, Xavier Rhodes has struggled against speedier wide receivers, matching up better against bigger-bodied wide receivers. Chris Conley can fly with 4.35-wheels and could give Rhodes fits on Sunday. The Jaguars are 7.5-point underdogs in this one and will likely throw the ball a ton while playing from behind, making Conley a very intriguing play.

D.J. Chark is the No. 1 receiving option on the Jaguars, but there will be more than enough work in the passing game for both Conley and Chark to come through. As for Rhodes, according to PFF he gave up an 84% catch-rate and 1.50 yards-per-route that he was covering in 2019 which was one of the worst marks in the league.



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ADP Showdown: Cam Akers vs Raheem Mostert

It's early September and around this time we are normally evaluating preseason performances and adjusting our rankings accordingly. Leading up to drafts, it is very important to gather the most current ADP data in order to draft the best team possible. Part of your preparation should involve examining where particular guys are being taken to determine if you can wait for better value in a later round or if a particular player fits your style more than another player in the same round.

According to current ADP data ranging back to August 18th, Cam Akers and Raheem Mostert have been getting drafted as fringe RB2's around 50 picks into drafts. Mostert is a career journeyman who was finally given an opportunity to carry the ball last year and produced in a big way down the stretch. Akers was a stud running back at Florida State and has the pedigree to be a star in this league, standing 5'10", weighing in at 216 pounds and he runs a 4.47 40-yard dash.

Both of these running backs have very similar ADPs as you will see below, but does one offer more upside than the other, or is one a more reliable source for production than the other? Should you take Akers even though he's a rookie and we couldn't see him in preseason action? We will take a look at both players and determine which might be the best fit for your fantasy team in 2020.

 

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

ADP: RB 24 (Overall 52) 

In 2019 if you had issues at the running back position and decided to take a shot on Raheem Mostert, he likely helped propel you into the fantasy football playoffs. In Week 13, the last week of the fantasy football regular season, Mostert had a season-high 19 carries, running for 146 yards, while adding a score on the ground on his way to a 23.4-point performance. If your playoffs started in Week 14, then Mostert came through with two scores and 24.9 points in a PPR. In Weeks 15 and 16 Mostert came through because he scored, registering just over 12-PPR points in each of those contests.

While we have fond memories of Raheem Mostert from the 2019 season, it's worth evaluating whether he can sustain that level of performance based on his usage. In nine of the games that Mostert played in 2019, he logged less than 10 carries, eclipsing 12 carries just three times the entire season, and he only played in more than 50% of the 49ers offensive snaps five times. Mostert also wasn't used much in the passing game, targeted just 22 times on the year.

The nature of the 49ers offense is to get their play-makers into open space and let them make plays. Predicting which 49ers running back, or even which 49ers wide receiver for that matter will have a big game on a week-to-week basis is very difficult to predict, making Mostert extremely boom-or-bust.

 

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

ADP: RB 23 (Overall 48)

Cam Akers is by far the most talented running back on the Rams' roster, and he is slated to take over Todd Gurley's role in the offense, if not by Week 1, it will happen quickly. Akers was a high school quarterback and switched positions once he got to Florida State because of his height, and his experience as a quarterback is helping him pick up the Rams playbook.

Todd Gurley scored at least 12 touchdowns a year since 2017, and in that same time-frame, he had at least 223 carries each year, registering just 223 carries in 2019 when the Rams were limiting him due to his arthritic knee. Even while struggling in 2019, Gurley still managed to finish as RB-14 on the season. If given similar volume, Akers should produce statistics similar to Gurley.

The Rams offensive line does give you some pause when thinking about drafting Rams players, but they are bringing back their entire starting unit from 2019 which was devastated by injuries. Brian Allen was the Rams starting center in 2019 until he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 10, Joe Notebloom tore his ACL and MCL in week 6 and Austin Corbett was acquired in a mid-October trade which made it tough to acclimate to the offense.

While the offensive line's overall performance in 2019 was generally poor, they will have continuity in 2020 which includes Andrew Whitworth who has been an anchor at left tackle for the Rams since 2017. Even if the Rams' offensive line suffers injuries similar to 2019 and struggles as a unit, it shouldn't impair Akers too much as 2,186 of his 2,875 rushing yards during his career at Florida State came after contact and he was credited with 144 broken tackles.

 

The Verdict

The verdict on these two talented running backs is not so clear-cut. Honestly, this is going to come down to what type of risk you are willing to accept. Each week, Cam Akers should give you consistent volume with a large role in the Rams offense. Raheem Mostert is capable of blowing up any given week, but he will be boom-or-bust as the 49ers play several running backs.

If you are playing in a PPR league, Cam Akers will offer more in the pass-catching department than Raheem Mostert. Mostert seemingly came out of nowhere in 2019 and that gives me some pause, because Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon are still on that roster. Mostert is due just $2.575 million in base salary this year with another $2.75 million available in incentives, so they aren't locked into him financially as the starter. Don't forget, he was ready to holdout in order to get more money before he realized the market wasn't there for him this offseason.

Personally, I will opt to take the guy with the higher football pedigree who will see volume on a consistent basis, and for that reason, I will take Akers over Mostert.



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Golden Tate - 2020 Fantasy Football Sleeper

Golden Tate is now 32 and entering his 11th season in the NFL. When people head into their fantasy football drafts, nobody thinks about targeting a 32-year-old slot receiver, but Tate is still viable.

In fact, when people think about the New York Giants, they don't think about Golden Tate, they think about Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones and whether to take a chance on the often injured Evan Engram.

It may be time to consider Tate as a solid WR option in fantasy drafts.

 

Stats Do Lie Sometimes

In his 10th NFL season, Tate averaged 61.5 yards-per-game which is above his career average, and he averaged 13.8 yards-per-catch which was the second best mark in his career. If you extrapolate his 2019-stats over 16 games, he would have hauled in 71 grabs for 984 yards.

The stats tell one story, but if you turn on the game and watch Tate play, he still has it, he runs good routes, and he can still get separation. In 2019, many of us considered Tate an afterthought because he was suspended for the first few games to start the season, which caused many to write him off. Keep in mind, Tate played 2019 with a rookie quarterback who was trying to figure things out in the NFL, and Saquon Barkley played most of the season with an injured ankle which impaired the offense's ability to move the ball.

When you look at the competition that Tate has for targets in the Giants passing game, it looks crowded right now with Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram in the mix, but both Shepard and Engram have durability issues. Golden Tate is the most durable wide receiver on the Giants roster, he's the most consistent option they have, but he's also being drafted after all of the other guys as WR57 off the board. Darius Slayton is the fastest of all the Giants wide receivers and is the only true deep threat on the roster which makes him potentially volatile, while Tate is the safer option, who is more of a target in PPR leagues.

 

ADP Comparisons

When you compare Tate to the other players being drafted around his current ADP of 142, it looks like he's the closest thing to a sure thing on the board. Sterling Shepard (ADP 124), Darrel Henderson (ADP 127), Anthony Miller (ADP 129), Sony Michel (ADP 133), Breshad Perriman (ADP 135), Chase Edmonds (ADP 136) and DeSean Jackson (ADP 141) have all been getting drafted ahead of Golden Tate based on ADP data since August 1st. Tate is a more durable and more proven version of Sterling Shepard which means it may make more sense to pass on Shepard and take Tate a round later.

Darrell Henderson isn't going to start for the Rams, so unless you own Cam Akers, it doesn't make sense to take him at his current ADP. Chase Edmonds is a potential league-winner and with Kenyan Drake hurt, he does have appeal, but he's still the backup which means his usage may be week-to-week. While DeSean Jackson is currently listed as a starter for the Eagles, he has major durability issues, and the same goes for Sony Michel in New England, who is seemingly always nursing an injury and now facing competition from Damien Harris. Anthony Miller is intriguing, but he will always be the No. 2 wide receiver in Chicago as long as Allen Robinson is there.

Breshad Perriman is very interesting at his ADP going just before Golden Tate, because he's the Jets only real downfield threat in the passing game and will start at X.
Fantasy Football ADP for Golden Tate, Breshad Perriman
While I have been drafting Perriman everywhere I can this year, I am also willing to assume some risk when drafting my teams. When you get in the middle rounds of your draft and you're trying to evaluate whether to go with Perriman or Tate, you need to check on the status of your team and evaluate what you're looking to achieve. If you're in a PPR, then Golden Tate may be the safer option, as he scored 14 or more PPR-points in six of the 10 games he started in 2019. The Jets will likely struggle in 2020 which means they will be putting the ball in the air a lot, and while Sam Darnold does prefer to throw the ball to the middle of the field, Perriman remains their only true speed burner until Denzel Mims is healthy and proves he is ready for pro competition.

 

Conclusion

The bottom line is this, Golden Tate is a consistent receiving option playing with a quarterback entering year No. 2 who figures to take a step forward in his development. At his ADP of 142, you're likely drafting Tate for depth, but if you load up on other positions in your draft and you need help late in a PPR-league, Tate may be the guy that bails you out late in your draft.



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ADP Landmines - Avoid These Players in 2020

Every year, when we reflect back on the NFL season that was, it's easy to have 20/20 vision and see the mistakes that you made in the draft. In 2019, guys like David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell went in the middle of the first round and didn't perform on par with their first-round billing. Johnson and Bell's ADP was too rich for where they were in their careers and if you drafted either, you were disappointed.

In 2019, Austin Ekeler went around the fourth or fifth round, which ended up being an absolute steal. At this same time last year, there was a big discussion about whether you should draft Melvin Gordon III or Austin Ekeler because Gordon was holding out and they had similar ADP. If you ended up taking Ekeler, you were ecstatic with that decision because he finished the year as an RB1. In similar fashion, there was a debate between which Steelers WR would replace Antonio Brown and receive those vacated targets. Folks were at odds between deciding whether James Washington or Donte Moncrief would break out, both of which were getting selected about 100 picks into the draft. It turned out that neither guy panned out, and Diontae Johnson, who actually went undrafted for the most part, emerged as the No. 2 receiving option in Pittsburgh. Once again this is hindsight, but safer players like Michael Gallup, Austin Hooper and Russell Wilson got drafted around the same spot Washington and Moncrief were picked in 2019.

I decided to look at the current ADP data going back to August 1, 2020 and tried to determine which players could be potential "ADP landmines" in 2020, similar to Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson and Melvin Gordon in 2019. As I was going through the ADP, a few players really stuck out to me as potential landmines that we may be talking about as "regrets" in January 2021. Keep in mind, just because I list a player as a landmine, doesn't mean I view him as a probable dud. Rather, I am identifying the inherent risk associated with drafting the player, and other potential routes to go with your draft if you choose to avoid that player.

 

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 2.02)

Austin Ekeler was a league-winner for many folks in 2019 playing in place of Melvin Gordon who held out to start the season. While Ekeler is coming off the best season of his young career, there are reasons to be skeptical of him heading into 2020. Even when Gordon was inactive in 2019, Ekeler only exceeded 12 carries in a game twice, logging just 132 carries on the entire season. Ekeler did his damage in the passing game, hauling in 92 balls for 993 yards and eight scores.

It's no secret that the Chargers new quarterback Tyrod Taylor doesn't really check the ball down a lot to running backs which is bad news for Ekeler. While Ekeler is explosive and should have a decent year, there are other people getting drafted around him that are simply safer.

Instead Take: Nick Chubb (ADP: 2.05) or Tyreek Hill (ADP: 2.04)

Nick Chubb's ADP has fallen a little as of late due to the presence of Kareem Hunt and his abilities in the passing attack. While Chubb isn't a huge asset in Cleveland's passing game because of Hunt, he's not a complete zero in that department either, and he did continue to carry the ball at least 15 times a game even after Hunt returned from suspension (except for the Week 17-loss to Cincinnati). The Browns anchored their offensive line with Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills this offseason which means Chubb could do even more damage on the ground, especially given the new coaching staff's desire to run the football.

If you end up taking a running back in the first round and you want to stack your lineup with a difference-making wide receiver, then Tyreek Hill is a solid option being drafted around the same spot as Ekeler. Hill plays in a great offensive system with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time who will be protected by a decent offensive line, so this makes sense.

 

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 2.09)

In 2019, Lamar Jackson threw a touchdown pass on 9.0% of his throws during his MVP campaign. That touchdown rate simply cannot be sustained on a consistent basis, and year after year, quarterbacks with touchdown rates higher than 7.0% tend to have that number come back to earth a little the following season. Lamar Jackson will be a viable quarterback in fantasy football this season, and he should end the year somewhere inside the top-3 fantasy scorers at the position, but given the overall depth of quarterback and the other players who will likely still be on the board, it may make sense to pass on Jackson in 2020.

Instead Take: Chris Godwin (ADP: 2.10)

Chris Godwin is an absolute stud at wide receiver and he should continue to see a heavy volume of targets with Tom Brady playing quarterback for the Buccaneers in 2020. Godwin is a difference-maker in your fantasy lineup, and while Lamar Jackson is similarly a difference-maker, it's easier to find quarterbacks later in the draft than it is to find another wide receiver of Godwin's caliber. If you scroll down through the ADP, there's guys like Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Kenny Golladay and Jonathan Taylor who should all have big years that are being drafted after Lamar Jackson.

If you get to a spot in your draft towards the middle of the third round and it seems like the studs are gone, and there are only guys with question marks left, such as James Conner (soft tissue injuries), Odell Beckham Jr. (injuries), Todd Gurley (arthritic knee), or Leonard Fournette (Jaguars are a mess), then it may make sense to pull the trigger on Jackson at that point.

 

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 3.11)

Chris Carson has been great for the Seahawks over the last two seasons, averaging 4.5 yards-per-carry on his career while also contributing some in the passing game. While Carson has produced big-time numbers while running the ball in Seattle, he's also missed time due to injury in each year of his career, including a season-ending hip fracture in 2019. While reports on Carson's health are positive, drafting a safer option in the third round might make more sense here.

Instead Take: Jonathan Taylor (ADP: 3.09) or David Montgomery (ADP: 4.11)

The Colts traded up in April's draft to get Jonathan Taylor and as I outlined in my offensive line analysis earlier this week, having Colts running backs on your roster will be a good thing in 2020. Taylor is one of the best running back prospects to enter the league in a few years and it's only a matter of time before he takes the starting job from Marlon Mack. When that happens, I want to have Taylor on my team.

Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Robert Woods are also getting drafted right around the spot Carson is going. If you opt to pass on Carson in the 3rd for a wide receiver, you could always come back in the 4th and snag David Montgomery. The Bears offensive line isn't great which means they may pound the rock to cover up that deficiency. All reports on Montgomery are positive out of Bears camp, and he would make for a nice RB2.

*Edit: While writing this, news broke that David Montgomery was carted away from Bears practice today with a groin strain. While I am not panicking regarding the Montgomery injury until more information comes out, you need to monitor the severity of that injury, and if it's serious, you may want to pivot over to Cam Akers or Mark Ingram who are being drafted in the early fifth round.

 

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 5.01)

In Raheem Mostert's breakout 2019 season, he had fewer than 10 carries in nine games. In Mostert's other games, he eclipsed 12 carries just three times. Mostert also wasn't very viable in the passing game, receiving just 22 targets on the season. While Mostert is explosive, averaging 5.64 yards-per-carry in 2019, capable of scoring on almost every play, he is likely to be boom-or-bust, and his current ADP may be a little rich for that level of inconsistent production.

Instead Take: Kareem Hunt (ADP: 5:05) or Cam Akers (ADP: 5.06)

Kareem Hunt never carried the ball more than 9 times in 2019 while sharing the backfield with Nick Chubb. While that may not change much in 2020, Hunt is very viable in PPR leagues, receiving more than five targets-per-game in 2019 even with Chubb in the lineup. Hunt may offer a similar week-to-week upside and frustration levels as Mostert, but the difference between them is if Chubb goes down, Hunt is a league-winner.

Cam Akers is another viable option here in place of Mostert. Right now, Akers is being drafted in the fifth round because he hasn't officially won the starting running back role for the Rams yet. Let's call it like it is, Akers is the best running back on that roster, he will be the starter sooner rather than later, and if he were labeled the starter today, his ADP would be in the third round.

Mark Ingram is another option to consider in the early fifth round, but the presence of J.K. Dobbins is a little concerning. If you already have decent running back depth when you're in the fifth round, two young, ascending wide receivers, D.J. Chark and Terry McLaurin are also getting drafted just after Mostert and worth consideration.

 

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (ADP: 6.07)

I have been a fan of Brandin Cooks ever since I saw him in preseason action back in 2014. Cooks proceeded to put up four consecutive 1,000 yard seasons from 2015 through 2018, but his 2019-season was ruined by concussions. Given his history with head injuries, it makes drafting the Oregon State product seem risky even though he's played in 16 games four times in his six-year career.

Instead Take: Diontae Johnson (ADP: 6.05) or Darius Slayton (ADP: 7.11)

If Brandin Cooks' concussion history scares you, then you may want to draft Diontae Johnson instead. Johnson is a young, ascending wide receiver who flashed at times in 2019 with terrible quarterback play which will be a lot better in 2020 with the return of Ben Roethlisberger.

If Diontae Johnson off the board when you're up in the sixth round or you're aren't feeling Johnson because you're all-in on JuJu Smith-Schuster, consider taking Tyler Higbee at his current ADP of 6.08 and follow it up with a high-upside wide receiver such as Darius Slayton in the seventh round. I understand the jury is out on Higbee because Everett played more snaps prior to his injury, but Higbee demonstrated his ability, and if he can pick up where he left off in 2019 then this could be a league-winning pick. Cooks may be a little boom-or-bust for Houston, so if you follow this plan and draft Slayton instead, you are likely to get similar production to Cooks, as Slayton is somewhat boom-or-bust as well, serving as the Giants main deep threat.

 

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 9.03)

Alexander Mattison is one of the few handcuffs in fantasy football that would clearly take over a full-time role if the starter goes down, and if you're a Dalvin Cook owner you absolutely need to have him on your team at his current ADP. However, there's a lot of people out there drafting Mattison (without rostering Cook) viewing him as a potential league-winner in the eighth or ninth round, but if Cook plays the entire season, it's kind of a wasted pick.

Instead Take: Zack Moss (ADP: 9.06)

Zack Moss will be playing behind a solid offensive line up in Buffalo and was drafted to handle the early-down work for the Bills. While Devin Singletary performed admirably in the tail end of 2019, he stands just 5'7" and weighs only 203 pounds which is concerning because he doesn't have the necessary frame to sustain the pounding a three-down running back would take through the duration of an NFL season.

Similar to Giovani Bernard, Singletary is capable of handling the load for a few games, but handling a full game of carries for an entire season is a different story. Buffalo wants to pound the rock, and Moss should be the guy in that backfield seeing 15 or more carries a game, while mixing into the passing game when needed. At his current ADP, Moss could be a league-winner, but he will also have a consistent role throughout the entire season, which is something Alexander Mattison doesn't have absent a Dalvin Cook injury.

 

Rob Gronkowski (ADP: 11.05)

Reports on Rob Gronkowski out of Tampa Bay have been glowing, but given the baggage associated with drafting Gronk, you have to ask yourself if that's something you want to deal with. Gronk may not even lead the Buccaneers in snaps in 2020, he has a lengthy injury history and I will remain skeptical of his return until I see him actually play football again.

Instead TakeT.J. Hockenson (ADP: 11.06) or Jalen Reagor (ADP: 11.07)

Second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson is going just after Gronk in drafts and he has serious breakout potential playing in a Lions offense that will surely air the ball out in 2020. Hockenson is a young, ascending player, and it makes more sense to find the next dominant pass-catching tight end rather than chase a guy that peaked several years ago in Gronk.

If you hold off on tight end and opt to go with a guy like Jalen Reagor in the 11th round, who figures to start at wide receiver for the Eagles, another young and ascending tight end, Chris Herndon (ADP: 12.11) should be on the board in the 12th round. Herndon is a great option, especially given his athletic ability and developing chemistry with Sam Darnold.

 

Sony Michel, New England (ADP: 11.11)

In 2019, Sony Michel scored seven touchdowns and three of them came in one game against the New York Jets. Michel also failed to have a single 100-yard rushing game in 2019, while logging less than 50 yards from scrimmage in seven contests. Does that sound like a running back you want on your fantasy team? My answer is no, especially not with other viable options that should still be on your board where Michel is being drafted.

Instead Take: Breshad Perriman (ADP: 12.02) or Preston Williams (ADP: 12.03)

Things still need to shake out a little bit with Sony Michel, but at this point he has the potential of being a wasted pick in the 11th round of fantasy drafts because he's still recovering from a foot injury. Damien Harris has an ADP of 13.01 for the month of August, but going back just one week his ADP is 11.08, which means he's gaining momentum quickly, and Michel is fading quickly.

While Breshad Perriman and Preston Williams aren't ideal fantasy starters, they will serve as valuable depth down the road, and with Damien Harris ascending, it makes more sense to have him on your squad rather than the oft-injured Sony Michel, it just makes sense.

 

Conclusion

In summary, we learn lessons about our drafts at the conclusion of each season. All of the aforementioned players identified as potential ADP landmines could have great seasons, but at the same time, you need to be wary of drafting them because in doing so, you may be bypassing more consistent producers. At the end of the day, it's your decision and you need to draft based on the level of risk you are willing to accept on your fantasy football team.

Good luck in 2020! Follow me on Twitter @coachriggall and feel free to ask your NFL questions.



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Offensive Line Analysis: Champs and Chumps

A key factor that is often overlooked in terms of fantasy success, especially at the running back position, is the importance of solid offensive line play. Many of the top fantasy football performers have the luxury of playing with some of the top lines in the game. Similarly, when a player is on a team with a poor offensive line, it can greatly inhibit their ability to perform on a consistent basis. For example, in 2019, RB Joe Mixon and QB Andy Dalton played behind a struggling Cincinnati Bengals offensive line. As a result, Mixon was terrible for fantasy purposes and often getting hit in the backfield, while Dalton was under constant duress. Selecting players with the best offensive line situations could be the deciding factor when stuck between several players, as better offensive line play tends to lead to better scoring opportunities in fantasy, something that we are all chasing.

Just looking back at last year, some of the top-scoring and more competitive teams around the league (Packers, Titans, Patriots, and Saints) all had top offensive lines. Adding to that, these teams are also littered with talent that we target in fantasy drafts, such as Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, and Derrick Henry.

The biggest beneficiaries of a strong offensive line from a fantasy standpoint are usually the running backs. In a year where the depth at the position might be at an all-time low, targeting the running backs behind great offensive lines will consistently pay off for you. Reading this forthcoming analysis is just another tool that you can utilize to give you a leg up on the competition during draft season.

 

Champs

Some of the top offensive lines heading into 2020, such as the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers, have been consistently good for a few years now and will have several viable players for fantasy football. Now, I am going to reference some of the better offensive lines in the league and discuss any changes to the teams heading into 2020 along with the fantasy outlook for their skill position players.

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are arguably the best offensive line unit in the league with projected starters: LT – Anthony Castonzo, LG – Quenton Nelson, C – Ryan Kelly, RG – Matt Glowinski, and RT – Braden Smith. In 2019, RB Marlon Mack ran an average of 1.61 yards before he saw initial contact and the entire Colts offensive line from 2019 is returning this season.

Things are setting up very well for the entire Indy offense in 2020, who will have QB Philip Rivers calling the shots. This is an upgrade from Jacoby Brissett. Although Rivers lacks mobility, he will be playing from a clean pocket while slinging the ball to the likes of WRs T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., and Parris Campbell. The Colts also drafted one of the best pure runners the league has seen in years in Jonathan Taylor, who could bust out in a big way. The arrow is pointing up on the entire Colts offense and their offensive line is a major reason why.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the better offensive lines in the league over the last decade, or ever since they drafted Tyron Smith, and that shouldn't change in 2020. The Cowboys projected starters are: LT – Tyron Smith, LG – Connor Williams, C – Joe Looney, RG – Zack Martin, and RT – La’el Collins. The one concern here is that the Cowboys lost their center Travis Frederick to retirement, but everybody is returning otherwise.

In 2018, the Cowboys missed Frederick for the season due to a medical condition and RB Ezekiel Elliott did just fine without him in the lineup, gaining 4.72 yards-per-carry, of which 1.60 came before he saw initial contact from defenders. Elliott actually saw initial contact after just 1.28 yards in 2019, which is down from the 2018 mark. The main takeaway from those statistics is that Frederick’s retirement should not downgrade Elliott or the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys offensive line is a major boost for the RB and will provide QB Dak Prescott with tremendous protection, allowing WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup to get downfield in their routes.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns offensive line struggled in 2019, but heading into 2020, they upgraded their projected starting lineup: LT - Jedrick Wills, LG – Joel Bitonio, C – JC Tretter, RG – Wyatt Teller, and RT – Jack Conklin. In 2019, RB Nick Chubb ran for 5.01 yards-per-carry, of which 3.77 of those came after initial contact. The Browns' offensive line struggled last year attempting to overcome the retirement of Joe Thomas and losing Kevin Zeitler via trade to the Giants, but they still did a good job opening up room for Chubb to operate.

This offseason, Cleveland acquired Jack Conklin in free agency, and he is one of the best run-blocking tackles in the NFL. They also added Jedrick Wills through the draft. Adding these two bookend tackles will only make the already solid Browns rushing attack that much better in 2020, which means big things for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The improved offensive line is also good news for QB Baker Mayfield and WR Odell Beckham Jr., as the improved blocking on the edges should give the Browns' receivers more time to get down the field.

Kansas City Chiefs

Over the last few years, the Kansas City Chiefs have let several of their interior offensive linemen walk via free agency, but they’ve still managed to have adequate line play. Here are the projected starters on the Chiefs' offensive line for 2020: LT – Eric Fisher, LG – Andrew Wylie/Mike Remmers, C – Austin Reiter, RG – Ryan Hunter, and RT – Mitchell Schwartz. In 2019, RB Damien Williams rushed for 4.49 yards-per-carry, but only 0.9 of that was actually blocked for him before he saw initial contact from defenders.

Once again in 2020, the Chiefs have let Cameron Irving and Stefan Wisniewski, two of their interior offensive linemen, walk, and they also lost Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the season due to the pandemic. The Chiefs will look to replace those guys with some combination of Andrew Wylie, Mike Remmers, and Ryan Hunter. While the jury is out as to whether these new interior linemen will come through, the Chiefs still have Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher on the outside, which means QB Patrick Mahomes will have solid protection from the opposing edge rushers. Overall, while the Chiefs offensive line isn’t necessarily a strength, it’s not a cause for concern either, which means you should continue to draft Patrick Mahomes, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce with confidence.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills offensive line was improved heading into 2019 after adding one of the best centers in the league, Mitch Morse, in free agency from the Chiefs. When RB Devin Singletary played in 2019, he ran for 5.1 yards-per-carry, with an average of 3.0 coming after initial contact. The Bills were able to upgrade at guard this offseason by adding veteran Brian Winters after he was released by the Jets, which is a positive for RBs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.

Overall, the Bills' offensive line is a decent unit and will support fantasy production from the skill positions. Here are the Bills' projected starting lineup for 2020: LT – Dion Dawkins, LG – Quinton Spain, C – Mitch Morse, RG – Brian Winters, and RT – Cody Ford.

 

Chumps

In 2019, the Miami Dolphins offensive line was absolutely awful and while they drafted several offensive linemen in 2020, they're rookies in a pandemic-offseason, which means things aren't lining up in their favor for a strong 2020 campaign. The Washington Football Team and Los Angeles Rams offensive lines struggled in 2019 and didn't really do anything to improve their units this offseason. At least the Rams are able to scheme up an offensive plan that's somewhat capable of hiding their deficiencies. Now, I am going to discuss some troubling offensive line situations for 2020.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line was terrible to start 2019 and as a result, RB Joe Mixon performed very poorly, and QB Andy Dalton had very little time to throw the football. About halfway through the season, the Bengals switched their blocking scheme from zone concepts and started using more gap concepts in their approach to the running game. After the switch, the results were fantastic as Joe Mixon ended the season on a tear. The Bengals added Xavier Su’a-Filo at guard this offseason and while he’s not a world-beater by any means, he’s an upgrade from 2019’s right guard and has shown flashes of ability, especially with zone concepts. Getting 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams back at left tackle will help tremendously, and if rookie tackle Hakeem Adeniji can pick things up quickly, he may push journeyman Bobby Hart for the time played at right tackle.

The Bengals' projected starting lineup currently looks like this: LT – Jonah Williams, LG – Michael Jordan/Billy Price, C – Trey Hopkins, RG – Xavier Su’a-Filo, and RT – Bobby Hart/Hakeem Adeniji. The Cincy offensive line won’t be a strength in 2020 as there are major questions at left guard and right tackle, but overall, the line shouldn't hurt them. The Bengals' offseason moves indicate they’re looking to get back to more of a zone-blocking scheme this year, but in 2019, the coaching staff demonstrated that they’re capable of adjusting if it’s not working out. The message here is that you should feel good about drafting guys like Joe Mixon, WR Tyler Boyd, and QB Joe Burrow at their ADPs even if their line isn't that great. While I am classifying the Bengals' offensive line as a chump, I consider them a higher-end chump.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears offensive line struggled in 2019 and the outlook isn't looking much better for 2020, as they feature a starting lineup that looks like this: LT – Charles Leno, LG – James Daniels, C – Cody Whitehair, RG – Germain Ifedi/Rashaad Coward, and RT – Bobby Massie. The Bears' offensive line is a group of journeymen offensive linemen who are all regressing in their careers. Kyle Long retired, but he's been in and out of the lineup over the last few years due to injury anyways. The Bears added Germain Ifedi in free agency, who should compete for Long's vacated guard spot, but he struggled early in his career with Seattle, so the jury is out on him.

Similar to the Rams, the Bears need to rely on scheme to somewhat hide their below-average offensive line. While WR Allen Robinson II should be in for a huge season with the Bears likely to throw a lot, RB David Montgomery needs to be somewhat downgraded because of the offensive line, but keep in mind he's the only every-down back on the roster and should see enough volume to have a solid season. The bottom line with Montgomery is you don't want him to be your RB1 and you are fine to take him at his current ADP, which has him being taken as the 23rd running back off the board, around 50 picks into the draft.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers have several question marks on their offensive line heading into the 2020 season, especially at the interior positions. The Panthers seemingly downgraded their guards when they traded away Trai Turner this offseason, but maybe the new coaching staff doesn't view the interior offensive line play as a key to success. Carolina will need to rely on a mix of young players and journeymen to get the job done this season, but their starting lineup is anything but solidified, with these guys in the mix to start: LT - Russell Okung, LG Greg Little/Michael Schofield, C - Matt Paradis, RG - Dennis Daley/John Miller, and RT - Taylor Moton.

At least the tackles seem to be locked in, but with questions marks inside, things are shaping up well for RB Christian McCaffrey and WR D.J. Moore to see a lot of targets in the short to intermediate passing game because the jury is out on whether this line will be able to protect QB Teddy Bridgewater long enough to get the ball down the field to WRs like Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel.



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2020 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rookie Rankings: Post-NFL Draft

Welcome back RotoBallers! Below you will find our staff's updated 2020 fantasy football rookie wide receiver rankings. These rankings are being released after the 2020 NFL Draft, but things will of course change as we get closer to the NFL season. It's been well-documented that the 2020 wide receiver class is one of the best to come our way in quite some time. The NFL draft didn't disappoint, with six receivers getting drafted in the first round, and two more receivers getting drafted with the first two picks of the second round.

Those of you who are regular RotoBaller readers have likely already seen our updated overall fantasy football rookie rankings, released the morning after the draft. Now it's time to break those down in detail, going position by position with some tiered rankings analysis. The RotoBaller crew has been busy fine-tuning all fantasy football rankings in the hours immediately following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. The first task was to focus on the recently-selected prospects in order to prepare dynasty owners for upcoming rookie drafts. Analysts Brandon MurchisonPhil Clark, and Pierre Camus have put together their early consensus wide receiver rookie rankings for our loyal readers to use to their advantage.

The big surprise in the first round came when CeeDee Lamb slipped all the way to the Dallas Cowboys, who now have one of the best wide receiver corps in the NFL. On the other hand, Denzel Mims and Jalen Reagor were drafted to the NY Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, two teams that desperately needed help at wide receiver which means they should both contribute immediately. Some of these highly touted wide receivers were drafted into great landing spots which elevates their fantasy value. Brandon Aiyuk operates great in space and was drafted to the ideal team, the San Francisco 49ers, who love to get the ball to their wide receivers in space. Tee Higgins was drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round, is likely to start immediately and should eventually replace AJ Green who will be 32 when the season starts as the Bengals X receiver. On top of all that, Higgins will be playing with Joe Burrow for the better part of his career which is a huge plus. Now, I will evaluate some of the top receivers and their 2020 outlook, broken down by tier.

 

NFL WR Rookie Rankings for Fantasy Football (Post-Draft)

Be sure to also check out our fantasy football rankings and analysis for the 2020 rookie running backs, rookie tight ends, rookie quarterbacks, and our top 130 rookies list.

Tier Rank Player Name Team Pierre Brandon Phil
1 4 Jerry Jeudy DEN 1 7 6
1 5 CeeDee Lamb DAL 3 6 7
2 7 Jalen Reagor PHI 5 12 8
2 10 Henry Ruggs III LV 14 8 9
2 11 Justin Jefferson MIN 11 13 11
2 13 Tee Higgins CIN 12 10 19
3 14 Michael Pittman Jr. IND 8 21 15
3 17 Laviska Shenault Jr. JAX 19 17 16
3 18 Denzel Mims NYJ 17 18 18
3 19 Bryan Edwards LV 13 19 21
3 21 Brandon Aiyuk SF 21 24 23
4 27 KJ Hamler DEN 24 27 28
4 28 Chase Claypool PIT 22 28 30
4 30 Antonio Gandy-Golden WAS 32 25 33
4 31 Lynn Bowden Jr. LV 34 35 29
4 32 Donovan Peoples-Jones CLE 20 43 40
4 35 Tyler Johnson TB 39 32 35
4 36 Devin Duvernay BAL 37 39 31
5 42 Van Jefferson LAR 38 42 42
6 47 Darnell Mooney CHI #N/A 49 #N/A
6 49 Gabriel Davis BUF 61 54 45
6 50 Quez Watkins PHI 46 53 62
6 51 James Proche BAL 58 57 49
6 52 Collin Johnson JAX 51 61 53
6 53 K.J. Osborn MIN 56 58 51
6 55 John Hightower PHI 53 59 61
6 56 Isaiah Hodgins BUF 57 45 73
7 60 Joe Reed LAC #N/A 63 55
7 61 Jauan Jennings SF 75 50 58
7 62 K.J. Hill LAC 66 40 79
7 63 Quintez Cephus DET 44 64 78
8 65 Freddie Swain SEA 65 62 #N/A
9 73 Isaiah Coulter HOU #N/A 68 #N/A
9 75 Marquez Callaway NO #N/A 69 #N/A
9 77 Darrell Stewart Jr. GB 69 #N/A #N/A
9 78 Dezmon Patmon IND #N/A 70 #N/A
9 84 Quartney Davis MIN 64 88 66
10 89 Juwan Johnson NO 67 90 #N/A
10 100 Omar Bayless CAR #N/A 85 #N/A
10 102 Kalija Lipscomb KC #N/A 101 72
10 105 Jeff Thomas NE #N/A 121 64
10 110 Isaiah Wright WAS #N/A 97 #N/A
10 116 Kendrick Rogers DAL #N/A 106 #N/A
10 121 Lawrence Cager NYJ #N/A 113 #N/A
10 129 Aaron Fuller SEA #N/A 122 #N/A
10 131 Dorian Baker CLE #N/A 124 #N/A

 

Tier 1 - WR Rookie Rankings

Jerry Jeudy was the clear No. 1 wide receiver prospect heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. A few days prior to the draft, stories began circulating which cast doubt about Jeudy's surgically repaired knee and it's possible that news caused him to slip down to the Broncos at 15th-overall. While Jeudy is one of the most complete wide receiver prospects to enter the league over the last few years, demonstrating smooth and near-perfect route running, his landing spot has some question marks as Drew Lock will be entering his first year as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

In limited action in 2019, Drew Lock was rather conservative, throwing for just 6.5 yards-per-attempt and an average depth-of-target of just 7.1 yards. While playing conservatively, Lock did take care of the football last year, throwing for seven touchdowns and just three interceptions. Lock's downfield passing numbers were similar to Derek Carr's in 2019, so 2020 will be a big year for him because he has a chance to grow from last year's performance.

Pat Shurmur is the new offensive coordinator in Denver and has a great track record with quarterbacks, which means he should be able to get the best out of Lock, which is also good news for Jeudy. Regardless of quarterback play, Jeudy is the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2020 rookie class and should be the first wide receiver drafted in upcoming rookie drafts because he should have success in the league for the next decade.

 

Tier 2 - WR Rookie Rankings

Jalen Reagor was drafted into the best landing spot out of all the wide receivers in the 2020 draft class. DeSean Jackson missed almost all of the 2019 season due to injury and as a result, the Eagles lacked speed at wide receiver which contributed to Carson Wentz throwing for just 6.7 yards-per-attempt, his lowest mark since he was a rookie. Reagor runs great routes, can separate, and he brings speed to the table, something the Eagles didn't have in 2019.

Reagor's speed is going to help the Eagles who already have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league (Carson Wentz), a budding star at running back (Miles Sanders) and arguably the best duo of tight ends in the league (Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert). While Reagor is the third-ranked receiver in dynasty formats, you can argue that he should be the first receiver drafted off the board in re-draft leagues given his landing spot.

Henry Ruggs III was the first wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL draft and the Raiders took him for a reason, they really need some speed on offense. In 2019 Derek Carr threw for 7.9 yards-per-attempt which was the highest mark of his career, but he only threw the ball an average of 6.9 yards downfield per attempt which was a very low mark.

At first glance, Ruggs appears to be miscast in Oakland given the fact that Carr doesn't really push the ball down the field a lot, but Ruggs brings a dimension of speed to the Raiders that they haven't had for quite some time. Given Ruggs' speed, Jon Gruden should be able to scheme deep-shots to him and get him the ball in space so he can catch and run. Josh Jacobs is a rising star in this league and commands respect from opposing defenses, which means that the Raiders are sure to use play-action to get Ruggs the ball deep.

 

Tier 3 - WR Rookie Rankings

Michael Pittman Jr. is the wide receiver to target in this third tier. Pittman has the height, speed, and ability to separate that will make him a star in this league. On top of that, his father was a running back in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, which means he has the pedigree to be a professional football player.

Although new Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has lost some of his arm strength over the years, in 2019 two wide receivers, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, went over 1,000 yards receiving with him throwing them the ball. Rivers will have one of the best offensive lines in the league blocking for him which is good because he's not very mobile, so he will have time to get the ball down the field.

Pittman shouldn't draw extra attention because the Colts drafted a stud running back in Jonathan Taylor and they still have TY Hilton who will line up opposite Pittman. All signs point to Pittman having a big 2020 season and solid career in Indianapolis.

 

Tier 4 - WR Rookie Rankings

Tyler Johnson was a stud wide receiver for the University of Minnesota, and while he isn't exactly a burner, he can play, catching 13 touchdowns and 1,318 receiving yards in 2019. Johnson was drafted to Tampa Bay, who already has a crowded receivers corps with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but as we saw in 2019, injuries can happen.

In 2019, the Buccaneers ran 11-personnel on 51% of their plays, so Johnson does have an opportunity to get on the field as a rookie. This offense is going to be explosive in 2020 with Tom Brady leading it and Johnson has a legitimate chance to excel immediately, especially since the opposition will be paying attention to the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski when he's on the field.

More NFL Draft and Fantasy Football Rookies


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Under The Radar WR Signings: Fantasy Risers or Fallers?

Due to the ongoing pandemic facing this nation and the world, the 2020 NFL offseason has been a little tough to navigate given the lack of mini-camps and OTAs. The biggest names on the free-agent market this year were Amari Cooper and A.J. Green, both of whom stayed with their respective clubs. However, just because big names didn't sign elsewhere in free agency this year doesn't mean there weren't fantasy relevant moves.

Breshad Perriman was thought to be a bust early in his NFL career and was buried on the depth chart in Tampa Bay in 2019. Due to injury, Perriman saw meaningful snaps down the stretch last year and put up big numbers, but his market was cold because teams weren't banging down the door to pay a guy that's only performed at a high level for just a few games. Outside of Perriman, there were a few veterans that have been in the league for a decade in Emmanuel Sanders and Randall Cobb who may rekindle fantasy relevancy late in their careers with new teams.

Now let's discuss some of these 2020 wide receiver signings that have gone under the radar in greater detail and talk through which of them could be risers or fallers for the 2020 NFL season.

 

Free Agent WR Risers

Randall Cobb (HOU)

Houston gave Randall Cobb some serious money to come play wide receiver for them this offseason. After trading away their star pass-catcher DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, they are clearly counting on Cobb to come through in 2020. Cobb is currently penciled in as a starter opposite Brandin Cooks and he will kick inside to the slot when the Texans go with three-wide sets. Cobb has been in the league since 2011 but he still has some juice left. Cobb's best years came when he flirted with 100 targets and his most efficient seasons have come when he was targeted further down the field. His new quarterback Deshaun Watson loves to throw the ball down the field which helps Cobb's prospects in 2020.

Cobb has a career catch-rate of about 70% and given his place on the Texans depth chart, it's possible he leads the team in targets this season, especially given the injury histories of Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller. Even going with a conservative projection, if Cobb is targeted just 100 times and catches 70 balls for his career mark of 12.1 yards-per-catch, that will give him about 850 yards which would put him over 150 PPR-points before any touchdowns or rushing yards are factored. At his current ADP which is 204, Cobb could be a league winner in a PPR or deeper formats.

Emmanuel Sanders (NO)

This is hardly breaking news but the Saints have struggled to find a productive wide receiver opposite Michael Thomas over the last few years. Tre'Quan Smith hasn't gotten it done in his first two years in New Orleans but he still figures to play on the outside which means Emmanuel Sanders will kick inside to the slot when three wide receivers are on the field for the Saints. Even at 33 years old Sanders is still moving well and given the presence of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, defenses won't be dictating coverage in his direction. Sanders will likely be volatile because he will be the third option in the Saints passing game behind Thomas and Kamara but at his current ADP of 116 he could be a great back-end starter in PPR leagues and deeper formats.

Breshad Perriman (NYJ)

Breshad Perriman saw an increase in snaps down the stretch in 2019 after Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both suffered season-ending injuries. Sam Darnold loves peppering the middle of the field with targets which bodes well for players like Jamison Crowder, Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin and even Le'Veon Bell. That being said the Jets really only have two guys that can get it done on the outside, and that's Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims, but Mims is going to need time to develop before he does anything as a professional. The Jets are likely to struggle in 2020, especially since they traded away their best player, Jamaal Adams over the weekend, and when they're looking to throw the ball down the field late in games, Perriman will be the guy seeing those targets.

Perriman's ADP is sitting at 137 and he's being drafted around guys like Sterling Shepard, Anthony Miller, DeSean Jackson and Sammy Watkins. Between all of those players going in the 130-range, Perriman has the highest ceiling and he's a steal at his current ADP. We really need to pay attention to the Jets beat writers this summer to see how Perriman is connecting with Sam Darnold during training camp, because if it goes well, he could be very special in 2020. I wouldn't be surprised if Perriman starts getting drafted as a top-80 pick as we get closer to the season opener, getting drafted ahead of guys like Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks who are very volatile.

Robby Anderson (CAR)

Robby Anderson was signed to be the X receiver for the Carolina Panthers and while newly signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater doesn't throw the ball downfield a ton, he's still going to be fantasy relevant. Anderson's ADP currently sits at 158 and he's getting drafted around guys like Nyheim Hines, Blake Jarwin, Jack Doyle, Justin Jackson, Darrynton Evans and Antonio Brown who just retired again, at least according to Twitter. At that point in the draft, Anderson is basically a free pick, and while starting Anderson in your lineup isn't ideal due to his volatility, he's a boom-or-bust option that could come through for you in a big way if you need him down the stretch.

 

Free Agent WR Fallers

Nelson Agholor (LVR)

Nelson Agholor is seemingly a great fit for the Raiders because Derek Carr is not an aggressive thrower and tends to pass the ball conservatively to the middle of the field where Agholor normally operates. While Agholor is best suited in the slot, the Raiders already have Hunter Renfrow who figures to be their slot receiver and they drafted Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs back in April which crowds the depth chart. When you factor a healthy Tyrell Williams in the mix and Darren Waller at tight end, there simply aren't enough targets to go around in Las Vegas to make Agholor a viable option. Monitor the Raiders wide receivers thoughout training camp though, because if Renfrow suffers an injury Agholor may be in business.

Devin Funchess (GB)

It simply hasn't happened for Devin Funchess so far in his NFL career. Funchess basically missed the 2019-season because of injury but even prior to that he simply hasn't demonstrated athleticism necessary to separate from defensive backs in the NFL. Any hope that the big-bodied receiver may become fantasy relevant in 2020 was doused when he signed with the run-heavy Green Bay Packers. Even if Davante Adams goes down, Funchess will be nothing more than a touchdown-dependent possession receiver.

Marcus Johnson (IND)

Marcus Johnson doesn't really count as a free agent signing because he re-signed with his current team this offseason, but he's still worth mentioning. In T.Y. Hilton's absence in 2019 Johnson was forced into duty and showed flashes of ability with mediocre quarterback play. Now that Philip Rivers is throwing the ball in Indianapolis, Johnson may have had a chance to catch some balls, but the addition of Michael Pittman this April all but put a nail in that idea. At this point, Johnson will only have a chance at fantasy relevance if the Colts move on from T.Y. Hilton or there's an injury to Parris Campbell or Michael Pittman.



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Under-The-Radar RB Signings: Fantasy Risers or Fallers?

The 2020 NFL offseason has been a little tough to navigate given the lack of mini-camps and OTAs because of the pandemic. The free-agent running back market was hot early, with Melvin Gordon III signing with the Denver Broncos, Todd Gurley II signing with the Atlanta Falcons and Jordan Howard with the Miami Dolphins, but it's cooled off since.

Gordon, Gurley, and Howard are really the only running backs that signed with new clubs as starters, and since they signed, former starters such as Lamar Miller and Devonta Freeman have remained free agents. While there haven't been any headline-making running back signings lately, several of these free agent signings have the potential to be relevant for fantasy football. For example, Carlos Hyde signed with the Seattle Seahawks and while he may not start right away, he could have a significant workload if Chris Carson gets hurt.

Now let's discuss some of these 2020 running back signings that have gone under the radar and talk through which of them could be risers or fallers for the 2020 NFL season.

 

Free Agent RB Risers

Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins

Jordan Howard isn't your typical "under the radar" running back because he's listed as the starter in Miami, but it really feels like he's under the radar because according to current ADP data he's being drafted as the 101st player off the board and the 39th running back off the board. Howard is being drafted around the same time running backs such as Derrius Guice, James White, Marlon Mack, Sony Michel, Tarik Cohen, Alexander Mattison and Phillip Lindsay, all of which have question marks surrounding them heading into the season.

Howard is still just 25 years old and is coming off a season with the Eagles where he averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry behind a decent offensive line, but void of any downfield passing options which made the Eagles easy to defend. The fifth-year back out of Indiana has always been solid running after contact and averaged 2.93 yards after initial contact in 2019 which was a mark similar to Joe Mixon (3.08), Dalvin Cook (3.06) and better than Le'Veon Bell (2.67) and Christian McCaffrey (2.62).

In 2019 the Miami Dolphins were not very competitive and were forced to pass the ball 615 times while running it just 349 times for a mere 3.3 yards-per-carry. The Dolphins should be much more competitive in 2020 as they will get Preston Williams back at wide receiver and they drafted Austin Jackson (OT, USC), Robert Hunt (G, Louisiana-Lafayette) and Solomon Kindley (G, UGA) which will help their offensive line tremendously. Howard is likely to see a majority of the Dolphins rushing attempts in 2020, and the 349 rushing attempts from 2019 will surely increase as Miami gets more competitive. While Howard doesn't offer much in the passing game it's safe to assume he will get 250+ carries, run for over 1,000 yards and serve as the Dolphins goal-line back, making him a steal at his current ADP.

Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks

In 2019 Carlos Hyde ran for 1,070 yards behind a suspect offensive line in Houston. Hyde is approaching 30 years old but he's still running effectively, rumbling for 4.37 yards-per-attempt in 2019, 2.78 yards of that coming after initial contact. Although Hyde was signed as a backup in Seattle, he could see action this season because he's behind Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, both of which have had injury issues in the past and neither have ever played a full NFL season. Hyde's ADP currently sits at 191 which makes him almost a free pick. If the Seahawks were to lose Carson for the year, Hyde would be an immediate RB2 and a potential league winner. If you're a Chris Carson owner in dynasty formats or you snag him in a re-draft league, you should really be proactive trying to acquire Hyde well ahead of his ADP. Players like Devonta Freeman and Darrynton Evans are being drafted in the 160-range, and if you're a Carson owner, you should take Hyde around that spot all day ahead of guys like Freeman and Evans.

Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made it clear they are not committed to Leonard Fournette long-term and if the Jaguars do decide to move on from him before the start of the season, there may be a committee between Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo and Chris Thompson. The Jaguars Defense isn't shaping up to be that great on paper so far this offseason, especially with Yannick Ngakoue threatening to sit out games, meaning they will likely be playing from behind and throwing the ball at a high rate. Chris Thompson has had injury problems over the years and he's best suited as a third-down back, but in deeper PPR leagues he may be an asset given the overall landscape in Jacksonville, even if the Jaguars do keep Fournette around.

 

Free Agent RB Fallers

Peyton Barber, Washington Football

Peyton Barber has had some offseason buzz around him over the last few years because he has been slated to be the starter in Tampa Bay, but there's no buzz around him in 2020. Barber signed with the Washington football team this offseason and according to the depth chart, he's not really in the mix to play. Washington has a crowded backfield situation with Derrius Guice penciled in as the starter, Adrian Peterson as the backup 2020-draft pick Antonio Gibson figuring to get a lot of passing-down work.

Barber profiles more into the same role as Guice or Peterson, but there's only so many roster spots available for running backs and only one ball to go around. Don't forget, Washington drafted Bryce Love in 2019 but he missed the entire season due to an ACL injury, and they also signed J.D. McKissic to handle some passing-down work. This backfield situation is crowded, and I'm staying away from it. Even if Barber is given some early-down work at some point this season, he's only averaged 3.6 yards-per-carry over his career and isn't really an exciting option.

DeAndre Washington, Kansas City Chiefs

Whenever DeAndre Washington was forced into a full-time role for the Raiders he seemed to come through. The problem for Washington was that he was only asked to serve a full-time role in a handful of games and in 2019 the Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs in the first round of the NFL draft which rendered Washington nothing more than a handcuff. The Kansas City Chiefs signed Washington during free agency and at the time, they only had Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams on the roster.

Darwin Thompson doesn't profile as an every-down back and for whatever reason, the Chiefs don't seem confident that Damien Williams can handle the load on a full-time basis. Things could have worked out for DeAndre Washington in Kansas City if there was an injury to Damien Williams, but then the Chiefs went and drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the NFL draft which pretty much blew up that idea. After Edwards-Helaire was added to the roster, Washington went from being a potentially potent handcuff to a running back that shouldn't be drafted except in very deep formats. Monitor the backfield situation in Kansas City throughout the training camp though, because if Damien Williams or Clyde Edwards-Helaire goes down, Washington could become relevant very quickly.

Dion Lewis, New York Giants

Dion Lewis is listed as second on the Giants depth chart behind Saquon Barkley but you have to question if he will truly be the guy in Barkley goes down. The Giants only committed $225,000 in guaranteed money to Lewis and while Wayne Gallman isn't great, he profiles as a better early-down guy than Lewis. In order for Lewis to do anything that's fantasy relevant in 2020, it almost feels as if Barkley needs to miss significant time and the Giants need to be playing from behind so Lewis can rack up points in a PPR.

Given the other options still out there in free agency, such as Lamar Miller and Devonta Freeman, if Barkley were to go down the Giants would likely sign one of those guys. This is a tough situation for Lewis and he doesn't have much value because he's sitting behind possibly the best runner in the NFL.



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Navigating the Dalvin Cook Holdout

On June 9, 2020, Adam Schefter reported that Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook plans to holdout from training camp unless he receives a "reasonable" deal. Cook is a young, ascending running back in this league and while he's very important to the success of the Vikings, he doesn't have much leverage. Player holdouts are going to look a lot different in the NFL moving forward, starting in 2020.

It seems like an eternity ago, but back before COVID-19 swept through America and the world, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a successor CBA which extends the current agreement by 10 years. Shortly after the new CBA was ratified, Pro Football Talk reported that the new CBA makes it extremely prohibitive for players to hold out into training camp. In the past, when players had fines levied against them for missing training camp, the club could decide whether to actually impose those fines. The new CBA removes such discretion from the club and teams are now required to levy the fines. On top of that, if a player fails to report for training camp on time, or if they leave camp for more than five days, the player will lose an accrued season toward free agency. But while these new contractual provisions make holdouts prohibitive, it doesn't mean that holdouts will not happen.

According to current ADP data on NFFC, ranging from the 2020 NFL Draft through the present, Dalvin Cook is currently being drafted as the fourth overall player off the board behind only Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott. While fantasy football owners still have Melvin Gordon's 2019 holdout fresh in their minds, it's important to recognize that any holdout by Cook likely won't last long given the mandatory fines that can quickly stack up against him. I am not one to overreact or have a strong "take" on situations like this when they first break, but I do have a plan.

 

How To Deal With Dalvin Cook's Holdout

First, you must ask yourself if you are a risk-averse person, or if you are willing to assume some risk while drafting players in the first round. If you are willing to take a risk, then continue taking Cook at his current ADP. If you are like me and a little risk-averse, then you will want to compare Cook to other young, ascending, feature running backs and evaluate each situation accordingly. Now, let's take a look at the players being drafted just after Dalvin Cook.

Alvin Kamara currently has an ADP of fifth overall and I think it's a no-brainer to draft Kamara ahead of Cook given there's less risk with Kamara. Michael Thomas is next with an ADP of six and I would also take him over Cook because he's a sure thing in PPR formats, similar to Antonio Brown around the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon and Miles Sanders come in at seven through nine, and I would take all three of these guys over Cook, even Mixon, unless the news of his holdout-threat starts to have more flames as we approach training camp. Henry, Mixon and Sanders are all going to be featured backs in their respective offenses that should get nearly 20 touches per game, so it makes sense to take these guys over Cook because they are similarly situated players.

Davante Adams checks in with an ADP of 10th overall, and I would probably take him over Cook as well because he's the only show in the Green Bay passing attack and should be a target-hog for them.

As we get towards the back-end of the first round, we get to guys like Aaron Jones who has an ADP of 11, Kenyan Drake who has an ADP of 13 and Nick Chubb at 16 overall. In re-draft and dynasty leagues, I would pull the trigger on Cook here, at 11-overall, and here's why. While Jones, Drake and Chubb are very good players and fantasy football producers, they all have question marks of their own. Jones was fantastic for the Green Bay Packers in 2019, but he scored 19 total touchdowns and that number will surely regress.

With respect to re-draft leagues, cannot ignore the fact that Jones' snap-share fluctuated throughout 2019 and with dynasty drafts in mind, the Packers drafted A.J. Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, which means they either plan on moving on from Jones after the 2020 season or they plan on having him share the load with Dillon.

Kenyan Drake is a prolific play-maker but he has never produced for a full season which is a concern.

Nick Chubb is an absolute stallion in the Browns backfield, but the data is out there, and he was not the same fantasy football producer once Kareem Hunt entered the mix after his suspension. In my view, Dalvin Cook is a true foundation back and if he reports, he will outscore Jones, Drake and Chubb, so 11th-overall is where I would draw the line and draft Cook given the current situation based on the information we have.

Dalvin Cook's backup, Alexander Mattison, is currently being drafted as the 115th player off the board, which makes him a 10th-round pick. If you draft Cook, you must be extremely proactive in acquiring Mattison. If you equate this situation to the Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler situation from 2019, then Alexander Mattison's ADP will surely start to rise aggressively, and it may creep into the seventh, possibly the sixth round.

At this point, if you have a fantasy football draft before we get more news on the situation, you simply need to be a little more proactive in acquiring Alexander Mattison. However, don't get too crazy, because if you miss out on Mattison, there are other (less exciting) options available with ADP's of 80+, such as Sony Michel, Jordan Howard and Tevin Coleman who could help you get through any holdout that costs Cook a few games.

 

What To Do With Cook In Dynasty

As far as dynasty leagues are concerned, if I already own Dalvin Cook, I would hold steady until we get to training camp. Don't panic, because Dalvin Cook is a feature back. If you own Alexander Mattion but you don't own Dalvin Cook, I would attempt to trade him to the Cook owner, but only for a king's ransom. Hold steady and let others overreact. If I have a startup dynasty draft coming up, I would take the same approach as I outlined above, and basically take other young, ascending players, who have potential similar to that of Cook, yet don't come with the holdout risk, drawing the line at the 11th overall pick.

In conclusion, Dalvin Cook has way too much to lose based on the terms of this new CBA and he will likely report to training camp on time, because if he doesn't, he will lose a year towards free agency and his fines may exceed his 2020-salary. For the time being, let's not overreact, just hold steady. If you do draft Dalvin Cook, do your best to get Alexander Mattison as well.

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Which Rookie Quarterbacks Can Turn Their Franchises Around?

On April 23, 2020, the Cincinnati Bengals made Joe Burrow the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft and the new franchise quarterback in the Queen City. Burrow has been touted as a slam dunk pick and will surely unseat Andy Dalton as the starter, but through the first two days of the draft, other quarterbacks with some question marks have been drafted.

This piece will highlight some of the top quarterback prospects from the 2020 draft class and discuss their future prospects for their teams and fantasy football. As it stands right now out of this group, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa will most likely have the most immediate fantasy impact, while Justin Herbert and Jordan Love may have to wait their turn while they improve their mechanics.

While each team hopes that their new rookie signal-caller will develop into a franchise QB, which ones have the best chance to actually do so?

 

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow will be an instant difference-maker for the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton has been a decent quarterback for the Bengals for just shy of a decade, but he’s simply not good enough to take over and win a game by himself. Dalton has thrown 204 career touchdowns, has a 7.1 yards-per-attempt average and owns a career record of 70-61-2 as a starter.

Although Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs five times, when he did so, the Bengals had a very good supporting cast around him and remained relatively healthy. When Dalton's weapons and offensive line departed via free agency or were injured and couldn't play, his play fell off a cliff and the Bengals lost more than they won. Simply put, Dalton is an average NFL quarterback.

Enter Joe Burrow. Burrow is very accurate, he’s athletic, and he demonstrated good decision-making abilities. Burrow is also a very smart player, a coach's son, who will be able to pick up the playbook and lead the offense very quickly. The one knock on Burrow is that he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, and some pundits thought that he underthrew his receivers at LSU at times.

However, if you talk to his college receivers, they will tell you that Burrow intentionally did so at times in order to place the ball in a spot where they could come back and catch it. Burrow will be fantasy relevant almost immediately with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III and now Tee Higgins at wide receiver.

Bottom Line: Burrow may struggle early as many rookie quarterbacks do, but with the weapons he has around him in Cincinnati, he has the potential to be a QB1 sooner rather than later.

 

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa is very smart with the football in his hands and is extremely accurate. He does have some documented injury concerns but he’s been medically cleared and he should be protected pretty well as the Dolphins used draft capital to improve their offensive line with Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt.

The Dolphins do have Ryan Fitzpatrick returning who is (at least for now) slated to start the season under center, but he's erratic with the football and throws a lot of interceptions. He's tossed 25 interceptions over his last 23 games and holds a career 3.4% INT%.

If Fitzpatrick wins the starting job and starts out the year slow, or loses a game for the Dolphins because he turns the ball over too much, Tagavailoa will see the field sooner rather than later, that is, if he doesn't beat out Fitzpatrick outright during training camp.

You can't coach accuracy, and Tagovailoa has it. Even if the hip gives him trouble (arthritis), that likely won't happen until his 30s, meaning he should have a decade-long career with the Dolphins. He will also have Preston Williams, DeVante Parker, and Mike Gesicki as pass-catchers which is a very good situation for a rookie quarterback.

Bottom Line: While Tagavailoa has injury concerns, he is accurate throwing the football and he should have a decent career before arthritis in his hip actually impacts his play. Tagavailoa will likely be a waiver wire guy in 2020.

 

Justin Herbert, L.A. Chargers

Tyrod Taylor is currently penciled in to be the starting quarterback for the LA Chargers in 2020. Taylor is 23-21-1 in his career as a starter, and has completed 61.6% of his passes. Taylor has career highs of 3,035 passing yards (2015), 20 touchdowns (2015), 5.3% touchdown-rate (2015), and 8.0 yards-per-attempt (2015). His 2015 season is also the only season he threw for over 7.0 yards-per-attempt.

While Taylor struggles to light the world on fire with his arm, he becomes fantasy relevant with his legs. In three years as a starter for the Bills (2015-2017), Taylor ran for between 427 and 580 yards each year, had between four to six rushing touchdowns each season, but he missed one or two games in each of those seasons. While Taylor can be a viable fantasy quarterback, it's clear that he isn't a "franchise quarterback" capable of putting a team on his back and taking them to the Super Bowl, so even if he plays early, it likely won't be for long.

Justin Herbert looks like a prototypical NFL quarterback and has a cannon for an arm. Although Herbert looks the part, he does have some work to do as he struggles with ball placement at times, has rough footwork and misses some easy throws. Maybe a year sitting behind Tyrod Taylor would do him some good because it would give him some time to clean up his feet.

While Herbert has a lot of potential, he also has some work to do, but the Chargers view him as their guy so he will get his chance soon. When Herbert does get his chance, he will have Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen as play-makers on the offensive side of the ball, so he will have weapons.

Bottom Line: At this point, Herbert should only be drafted in dynasty leagues.

 

Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers

Jordan Love is a physical freak with a huge arm and can throw on the move. On the negative side, his footwork and accuracy are problematic at times. Sitting behind Aaron Rodgers for a year or two would be an ideal situation because it will give Love time to clean up his mechanics a little bit.

Although Rodgers is still playing at an elite level and should be starting for Green Bay for a few more seasons, he has been dinged up over the last few years, so Love may get his chance sooner rather than later. Love has a lot of potential, but he doesn't exactly have a clear path to the field if Aaron Rodgers continues to play at a high level and stays healthy.

Bottom Line: Love will offer no fantasy value until Aaron Rodgers retires or gets injured. At this point, you should only draft Love in dynasty leagues.

 

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Hurts is an exceptional athlete and has a great arm but he is slow to break down defenses at times. Hurts played in a highly-schemed offense at Oklahoma and if he's called upon in Philadelphia, Doug Pederson will know how to scheme their offense to get the best out of him.

Carson Wentz isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but he plays fearlessly and exposes himself to injury a lot. Hurts will be a quality backup quarterback for the Eagles for years to come but he won't see the field unless Wentz goes down.

Bottom Line: Hurts may offer some fantasy value this season similar to Taysom Hill, but he should remain on waiver wires unless Carson Wentz gets hurt. Wentz owners should target Hurts in dynasty leagues.

 

Conclusion

As I said earlier, Burrow and Tagovailoa figure to have the biggest impact out of all these quarterbacks in 2020, but here is how I would rank these guys for long-term dynasty purposes:

  1. Joe Burrow
  2. Tua Tagovailoa
  3. Justin Herbert
  4.  Jordan Love
  5. Jalen Hurts.

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Gronk and Brady Reunited in Tampa Bay

Just two days before the 2020 NFL Draft was set to get underway, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stole the headlines and made a splash by trading for former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. He insisted that he wouldn't play for any quarterback other than Tom Brady, so the move to Tampa fulfilled his wish.

When Gronkowski was in his prime and healthy, he was nearly unstoppable. Gronkowski entered the league with an injury red flag due to an issue with his back and he took abuse from opposing defenders over the years due to his aggressive style of play. It almost seemed like he limped through the entire 2018 season, as he simply didn't look like himself. His body was so beat up from the years of punishment and his early retirement seemed inevitable.

Now, in 2020, after a year of rest, Gronk is suddenly reunited with Tom Brady as a Tampa Bay Buc. What is the ripple effect created by this move in the fantasy football universe?

 

Is Tampa the Right Fit?

For years, the narrative on Bruce Arians-led offenses (Byron Leftwich is the play caller) has been that the tight end simply isn't used. However, last year, with Jameis Winston at quarterback, Buccaneers' tight ends were targeted a healthy 116 times. Tom Brady had been playing with Gronkowski since the 2010 season and in 2019, without Gronk, Brady struggled. Digging a little deeper, in 2019 Brady had his second-lowest completion percentage (60.8%), lowest yards-per-game (253.6) and lowest touchdown rate (3.9%) since 2010.

Simply put, Tom Brady relies on Gronk in tough situations, such as the red-zone and third downs, and he's just better with him on his side. Even with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans competing for targets, Gronk should be fine because Brady doesn't feed the ball to one player; he throws to the open man, and he has an already existing trust with him.

 

Good Old Gronk

Now, let's dig into some stats over the last five years of Gronk's career before he retired to really see how he performed. Since 2014, Rob Gronkowski finished as the No. 1, No. 1, No. 26, No. 2 and No. 11 scoring tight end in PPR formats.

Evaluating Gronkowski on a points-per-game basis during that same span, he finished as the No. 1, No. 2, No. 8, No. 1 and No. 9 tight end. Gronkowski has a reputation of being injured all the time, but he played in 65 of a possible 80 (81.25%) games from 2014 through 2018 which isn't great, but it's not terrible either.

Let's focus on his 2018 season, where he looked old and beat up, while still managing to finish as the ninth-best tight end on a points-per-game basis. He's only going to be 31 years old when the 2020 season starts, so he should be rejuvenated after a year of rest. Based on his 2018 season, in light of the circumstances and Brady's trust level in him, I am in on Gronk this year. Now we have discussed the stats, quarterback, and overall trust level, the cost of getting him on your fantasy team needs to be considered.

 

2020 Fantasy Value

Gronkowski has always been a natural athlete and should be able to regain his form fairly quickly. The top tight ends heading into the 2020 season are starting to take shape and it's going to be tricky to see where Gronk fits in.

If he shows well in camp, his ADP will surely shoot through the roof, but if he's slow off the mark, he may slip. Now it's time to figure out where Gronk fits in according to NFFC ADP data for the top tight ends drafted during the month of April. Let's start by looking at the top-five tight ends currently being drafted.

Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz are locked in as top options and should be drafted before Gronk. While I have confidence that Gronk will return to form in 2020 and he will rekindle his chemistry with Brady, it's hard to draft him over Darren Waller and Mark Andrews. While Waller and Andrews have their limitations, they are both young and ascending talents.

Waller now has to compete with Jason Witten for snaps and targets and if the Raiders draft a wide receiver early, he may lose targets to the receivers as well. Andrews is a stud, and while he plays in a relatively low-volume passing offense, he was targeted 98 times in 2020 which was fifth-most in the league for tight ends. The bottom line is that I would not draft Gronk as a top-five tight end. Tight ends 6-10 is where things get interesting.

The Rams played with more 12-personnel towards the end of 2019 and as a result, Tyler Higbee emerged as a legitimate weapon and top-flight fantasy football tight end. Higbee is emerging as a star in the league and should continue to ascend, so I would take Higbee over Gronk. This tier isn't as solid as the top-six, and this is where Gronk comes into play.

Evan Engram has the talent to be a top-five fantasy tight end but he is seemingly always hurt, but I am not sure if I would go with a 31-year-old Gronk over Engram who likely has his best football ahead of him. Hunter Henry also has injury concerns, and will either be playing with a rookie quarterback or Tyrod Taylor.

This is where I would take Gronk (before Henry), and not because Henry doesn't have talent, but because he has both injury and quarterback concerns which is enough to make that call. Austin Hooper is coming off a career year in Atlanta but there are a lot of mouths to feed in Cleveland, which gives me pause, While Jared Cook finished as the No. 7 tight end in 2019, he had nine touchdowns off of just 65 targets and 43 catches, which breaks down to one touchdown for every 4.77 catches, a mark which isn't sustainable.

Gronk should be drafted ahead of most of the guys ranked 11 through 15. Dallas Goedert isn't the starter in Philadelphia, but if Zach Ertz goes down, Goedert's ADP will rightfully shoot through the roof. Mike Gesicki is interesting because he started to break out in 2019 and if he continues on that trajectory, he may be drafted as a top-five tight end in 2021 drafts.

O.J. Howard is likely on his way out of Tampa Bay now, Noah Fant is unproven playing with an unseasoned quarterback, and while Hayden Hurst is taking over for Austin Hooper in Atlanta and should see a large target-volume, he has injury concerns of his own. Out of this group, the only player I would consider drafting over Gronk is Mike Gesicki, and that's because he is a stud that's on the cusp of a full-on breakout.

 

Conclusion

In summary, Rob Gronkowski is a red-zone threat and has tremendous chemistry with Tom Brady, both of which are factors that cannot be ignored. Gronk battled injuries his entire career, but you could argue that 2018 was rock-bottom for him, as he appeared to battle just to get through the season.

After having a year off to rest and recover, he should, at a minimum, assume his 2018 form, which would place him as a top-10 fantasy tight end. At this time, knowing what we know, I think it's safe to draft Rob Gronkowski as the No. 8 tight end off the board in 2020 fantasy drafts.

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Best Ball Mock Draft Recap and Analysis

On March 30th, several veteran fantasy football players and RotoBaller contributors participated in a best ball mock draft and there were a few first-round surprises in this one. Diamond Mike went first overall and took Saquon Barkley over Christian McCaffrey. I followed up with Mike after the draft and he told me that he went with Barkley because he has a gut feeling that McCaffrey will regress from his 2019-campaign and he feels a bounce back coming for Barkley. The next surprise came when Joe Mixon went third overall to Warren. After the draft, Warren explained that the return of Jonah Williams and the likely addition of Joe Burrow through the draft has him extremely bullish on Mixon for 2020, but he never seems to fall to him, until now.

The third and final surprise from the first round came at 11, when Mike Florio selected Leonard Fournette. At the conclusion of the draft, Florio commented that he is bullish on Fournette this year because he was third in the NFL in 2019 with 792 yards after contact, he finished as the RB7 in PPR leagues and Florio expects Fournette to improve on the three touchdowns he scored in 2019. Florio wanted to get Fournette, and with an ADP of 21 overall, he wasn’t going to get him on the way back in the third round, so he pulled the trigger on him. Davante Adams going before Michael Thomas could also raise some eyebrows.

After looking these teams, it was apparent that several specific strategies were deployed. There were well-rounded teams, teams that went heavy at RB or WR to start, and then there’s the team that drafted Lamar Jackson in the third. Now I will take a look at some of these strategies and analyze how some of the teams panned out.

 

Best Ball Mock Draft Results

The entire draft board can be seen here (click image for full-screen) or you can visit the link here:

 

The Lamar Jackson Team – KC the Fantasy 401(k)

KC was drafting out of the nine-hole and started extremely strong with Nick Chubb at 1.9 and Julio Jones at 2.4. As the third round came back to KC, he had a difficult decision to make. KC needed to decide whether to take one of the less exciting running backs on the board (Mark Ingram or Le'Veon Bell), a wide receiver coming off a poor 2019 (Odell Beckham Jr.) or go with Lamar Jackson at QB, who is coming off a record-breaking season because of his ability to run the football. KC went with Lamar Jackson, and here is how his projected starting lineup shook out:

QB – Lamar Jackson
RB – Nick Chubb
RB – Le'Veon Bell
WR – Julio Jones
WR – Stefon Diggs
WR – Jarvis Landry
TE – Austin Hooper

When the dust settled, KC’s starting lineup appears to be very good. However, when you take a quarterback early in a draft, you miss out on drafting quality running backs and wide receivers in those earlier rounds and you must hit on some guys in the later rounds. In KC’s case, his depth is a little shaky as his bench running backs include Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Duke Johnson, Matt Breida and Devonta Freeman who isn’t currently on an NFL roster. Outside of KC’s starting wide receivers, only Tee Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones are likely to play this year, with both Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon currently on the street. In summary, the starters look good, but the depth is troubling.

 

Running Back Heavy Team – Warren

My buddy Warren drafted from the third spot and went with Joe Mixon. Warren opted to go with Mixon third overall because he’s extremely high on him this year and this was the first draft where he actually fell to him. Warren followed up the Mixon selection with Damien Williams and Miles Sanders before Warren started taking the best wide receivers that were still available. When it was all said and done, Warren’s projected starting lineup ended up looking like this:

QB – Jared Goff
RB – Joe Mixon
RB – Damien Williams
WR – Robert Woods
WR – Deebo Samuel
WR – Tyler Lockett
TE – T.J. Hockenson

Warren ended up with very strong running backs, each of which are capable of popping off long runs and will see considerable volume this year. Although this group of wide receivers lacks a legitimate WR1, they are pretty solid from top to bottom, and he did draft Diontae Johnson who is a big-play threat and Anthony Miller at 10.10 which could end up being a great pick if the Bears are able to throw the ball better in 2020. The weakness of this team is clearly the quarterback with Jared Goff projected as the starter and Sam Darnold on the bench. Warren took Jerick McKinnon at 9.3 when he could have had Carson Wentz, Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, or even Aaron Rodgers who went at 12.1.

 

The Travis Kelce Team – Phil Clark

Over the last few years, there have been tight ends like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz who have dominated at the position and as a result, they shot up draft boards the following year. In 2019, Travis Kelce was clearly the best tight end in fantasy football, and so far in 2020 drafts he has an ADP of 22 overall. Rotoballer contributor Phil Clark took Kelce at 2.9 in this mock draft, and constructed the following projected starting lineup:

QB – Dak Prescott
RB – Ezekiel Elliott
RB – D'Andre Swift
WR – Kenny Golladay
WR – Calvin Ridley
WR – D.K. Metcalf
TE – Travis Kelce

Phil’s running back depth ended up a little light and unproven, but he did lock up two of the most talented rookie running backs that are entering the league this year in D’Ande Swift and J.K. Dobbins. Additionally, Phil was able to lock up Zeke Elliott’s handcuff, Tony Pollard, which gives him some security at the position. If Phil had waited to draft a tight end until the ninth round, he could have had either Hayden Hurst or Mike Gesicki instead of Jamison Crowder who he did select in the ninth. Instead of Kelce, Phil could have drafted Mike Evans, Kenny Golladay, Damien Williams or Kenyan Drake in the second round which would have made his team better at RB or WR. At the end of the day, Phil put together a pretty solid team, but if you’re going to draft a tight end early, you better have a plan to draft solid depth at the other positions in the later rounds.

 

Wide Receiver Heavy Team – Troopa Tom

My guy Troopa Tom went with DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Gallup with four of his first five picks. Tom took his first running back, Chris Carson, at 4.3 and his projected starting lineup looks like this:

QB – Daniel Jones
WR – DeAndre Hopkins
WR – Tyreek Hill
WR – Odell Beckham Jr.
RB – Chris Carson
RB – Zack Moss
TE – Evan Engram

At first glance, Tom’s running backs look poor, but if you take a step back, he may be alright at the position. Chris Carson has gotten a bad reputation because of injuries the last few years, but he did rush for over 1,200 yards in 2019 before he went down for the season. Tom selected Zack Moss and A.J. Dillon as his RB2 and RB3 and if those guys get drafted to a good situations, they could have decent rookie campaigns. Sony Michel was drafted at 9.10 and this is the pick that could really make Tom’s team, because if he rebounds after being a bust in 2019, he could help solidify a lineup filled with stud wide receivers.

 

Well-Rounded Teams – Spam King & Justin Carter

The Spam King and Rotoballer contributor Justin Carter took balanced approaches to their drafts. Spam King went RB-RB and WR-WR with his first four picks, while Justin Carter went WR-RB-WR-RB with his first four selections. Their projected starting lineups look like this:

Spam King                                         Justin Carter

QB – Drew Brees                             QB – Deshaun Watson
RB – Alvin Kamara                          RB – Aaron Jones
RB – Todd Gurley                            RB – Marlon Mack
WR – JuJu Smith-Schuster           WR – Michael Thomas
WR – Tyler Boyd                              WR – Amari Cooper
WR – T.Y. Hilton                              WR – D.J. Chark Jr.
TE – Zach Ertz                                   TE – Mike Gesicki

Both of these squads are lights out. Spam King’s starting lineup has proven players at every position and has a solid bench with Cam Akers, Curtis Samuel, Latavius Murray and Philip Rivers. Justin Carter has similar depth as he was able to draft Kerryon Johnson and David Montgomery, two running backs that had disappointing 2019 seasons and both could bounce back in a big way. He was also able to get some young, high-upside wide receivers in Christian Kirk, Darius Slayton and Jalen Reagor.

 

Late Bargains

Best ball drafts are often won by the picks made towards the end of the draft. Based on what we know at the moment, here are each team’s best picks coming in the 10th round or later:

Diamond Mike – Steven Sims Jr. 15.1 – Towards the end of 2019, Steven Sims showed the ability to break the long play, even with poor play from the quarterback position. Sims may take a step forward in year two, the quarterback play should be better, and his big-play ability makes him dangerous in a best-bell environment.

FF Bonnie – Will Dissly 14.11 – People may forget about Will Dissly since the Seahawks signed Greg Olsen this offseason. Even with the presence of Olsen, Dissly could be a touchdown monster.

Warren – Jace Sternberger 17.3 – Jimmy Graham has departed Green Bay giving way for Jace Sternberger who has potential to break out. The Packers haven’t had a great fantasy tight end since Jermichael Finley.

Phil Clark – Corey Davis 19.4 – Corey Davis has been labeled a bust and he struggles against man-to-man coverage, and he plays in a run heavy offense which makes it difficult to predict when he will come through. In a best-ball setup, you don’t need to worry about the lineup decision, so you will get the points the one or two times he blows up in 2020.

Spam King – Latavius Murray 13.5 – Murray has some stand-alone value because he’s capable of scoring any given week, and he has added value to Spam King because he drafted Alvin Kamara.

Katz – Tarik Cohen 11.6 – Tarik Cohen doesn’t carry the ball much and does most of his damage in the passing game which is difficult to predict. In a best-ball setting, you will get Cohen’s points when he blows up.

Big Rigg – Sammy Watkins 15.7 – Sammy Watkins is one of the most physically-gifted wide receivers in the NFL, but he disappears at times. Once again, in a best ball, you don’t need to set the lineup, so if you have him, you will get his good games.

Justin Carter – Darius Slayton 11.8 – Golden Tate is aging, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram are seemingly always hurt, which may leave Darius Slayton as the number one receiver for the Giants.

KC – Eric Ebron 13.9 – Ebron is touchdown-dependent and he will be playing with a great quarterback which is something he didn’t have in 2019.

Troopa Tom – Nick Foles 16.3 – Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky are in a true position battle for the starting job in Chicago, and if Foles wins it, he could put up big numbers in the Nagy offense.

Mike Florio – Kenny Stills 13.11 – Best ball was created for players like Kenny Stills. Stills will get hurt, he will be unreliable, and just when you give up on him, he will catch five balls for 165 yards and two touchdowns. If he’s on your best ball roster, you don’t need to worry about giving up on him.

Tim Riordan – DeSean Jackson 16.1 – DeSean Jackson is one of the greatest deep-ball wide receivers to play in recent history and could win you any given week.

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DFS Wide Receivers To Target In The Super Bowl

In the AFC Championship game, the Chiefs took a lead against the Titans which forced Ryan Tannehill to pass the ball 31 times, but A.J. Brown still came up small with just 51 yards receiving. In the same game, Tyreek Hill was the Chiefs most productive fantasy-receiver, hauling in 5 passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns, but Sammy Watkins also had a solid day, leading the team in targets with 10, while gaining 114 yards and adding touchdown.

In the NFC Championship game, Davante Adams continued to be the only show in town for the Packers in the passing game, leading the team in targets (11), catches (9) and yards (138). For the 49ers, Kendrick Bourne came up extremely small with just one catch for six yards as the 49ers dominated with their running game. Deebo Samuel led the 49ers in receiving with just 46 yards and zero touchdowns as Jimmy Garoppolo only needed to throw the ball eight times in the game. In summary, between all of the recommendations from Championship Weekend, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams worked out, while A.J. Brown and Kendrick Bourne came up small.

The Super Bowl presents some fairly difficult matchups for all of the wide receivers involved as both secondaries are very talented. There are, however, a few angles to target in this one. The 49ers only gave up 169.2 yards-per-game through the air in 2019, but they primarily play cover-3. The Chiefs will likely have Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill getting vertical with their routes, which should free up pockets in coverage for Sammy Watkins ($10,500 Fanduel / $7,000 DraftKings) to settle in and make a few catches. Watkins hasn't had a great season in 2019, but he's demonstrated the ability to exploit zone defenses at times, which gives him hope to come through against the 49ers.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Exploit

Tyreek Hill ($12,000 Fanduel / $11,000 DraftKings) figures to see a lot of Emmanuel Moseley in coverage this weekend. Although Moseley has been a good player for the 49ers Defense this season, the fact remains that nobody in the NFL can run with Tyreek Hill, and he always has a chance to get behind the defense and score on a long pass. The 49ers haven't been susceptible to the big plays this season, giving up just 34 plays of 20+ yards which ties them for first in the NFL, but that's largely due to the fact that the 49ers pass rush gets home to the quarterback so quickly. The Chiefs offensive line is better than most and they're healthy. On top of having a solid offensive line, Patrick Mahomes can move in the pocket, and retreat backwards if needed and still get an accurate pass off even if the launch point is 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. For all these reasons, the Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs can get it done against this stingy 49ers defense, and will likely be their toughest test of the season.

Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson's prices are rather low which makes both of them somewhat appealing. I spent some time trying to figure out which of these lower-end guys will come through this weekend, and it seems like their production is too random to make a confident prediction. Trying to predict when Robinson won't drop the ball is difficult, and Hardman is only playing 30% of the snaps which makes the odds that he scores on a long touchdown rather low. When it's all said and done, I am going to stay away from both Hardman and Robinson this week and focus on building my lineups around Hill and Watkins.

The Chiefs Defense has been very good against the pass this season, giving up just 6.7 yards-per-play which was sixth-best in the league. Kendall Fuller, who primarily plays in the slot, is the only Chiefs cornerback that has given up a catch-rate over 50% on the season and is also the only Chiefs defensive back to surrender a QB-rating higher than 80 when targeted. Knowing that, it appears the way you attack the 49ers secondary is over the middle, against the slot cornerback, not on the outside.

Kendrick Bourne ($7,000 Fanduel / $3,400 DraftKings) has played 53% of his snaps out of the slot this year while Emmanuel Sanders ($7,500 Fanduel / $5,200 DraftKings) plays out of the slot on 35% of the time. Althogh Bourne plays a greater percentage of his snaps out of the slot, Sanders played 513 snaps this season, compared to just 292 for Bourne. Sanders will play more snaps than Bourne in the Super Bowl, and because he will get more opportunities, if I am going to play any 49ers wide receiver this week, it's Sanders. Normally I would lean on Deebo Samuel because of his ability to run after the catch, but none of the Chiefs cornerbacks have surrendered more than 200 yards after the catch this season, and that's where Samuel thrives. George Kittle ($11,500 Fanduel / $8,400 DraftKings) is actually the piece of the 49ers passing game I am going to try to get into my DFS lineups most this weekend because he has a seven-inch height advantage over Tyrann Mathieu who figures to cover him for much of the game.




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2020 Early Quarterback Sleepers and Draft Targets

Heading into 2020, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson will surely be the most-coveted quarterbacks in fantasy football drafts. Similar to Patrick Mahomes in 2018, Lamar Jackson took the NFL by storm in his first year as a full-time starter and set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Personally, I am skeptical that Jackson can sustain such production into 2020, at least at the rate he was going in 2019, because when teams have an entire offseason to review film they often find ways to adjust. This year, the Ravens performed exceptionally well in the running game because they would bring the backside tackle across the formation on some of the designed running plays, which is something that hadn't been seen much before. When teams used bigger fronts to defend the run, Jackson would oftentimes outrun the contain and if they used a smaller front to match Jackson's speed, they had to deal with Mark Ingram. If teams figure out how to combat these issues, the Ravens may be slowed in 2020. There's always a chance that the Ravens stay one step ahead of their competition, but at the likely first-round ADP Jackson will have in 2020, I will pass.

Patrick Mahomes had a record-breaking 2018 season that led some to draft him in the first round of 2019 drafts. Mahomes followed up his 2018 performance by finishing 2019 as the No. 8 quarterback on the season, despite missing a few games, playing injured in several others, and missing Tyreek Hill for part of the season. Even with all the adversity that Mahomes faced he still had a solid season, but there won't be as much hype around him in 2020, and he may fall a little in drafts. If Mahomes falls enough in drafts this summer, he could come at a decent value.

So who is worth targeting, especially if you play the late-QB game on draft day? Let us take a look at some quarterbacks that may slip in 2020 drafts for various reasons as well as some unproven guys that may be worth a stab with your last pick because they have the potential to take a second-year leap.

 

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2019 Stats:  5,109 yards, 33 TD, 30 INT, 250 rushing yards, 1 TD

Jameis Winston was the No. 3 quarterback in fantasy football in 2019, but the only things that people will remember about his season are that he threw 30 interceptions and that he let them down with a poor performance in Week 16 against the Houston Texans, which happened to be the fantasy football championship for most leagues. Winston went over 300 yards passing in 11 games last season, topping 400 yards three times, and had multiple touchdown passes in 10 games.

Although Winston had 30 interceptions last season, it should be noted that 18 of his 30 interceptions came in just five games against the Texans, Colts, Saints, Panthers, and 49ers. The point is that when Winston is bad, he's really bad, but when he's good, he's really good, and his volatility isn't that much different than that of Deshaun Watson. If Winston is brought back in 2020, I really like the prospects of him taking another step forward in his second year under Bruce Arians, especially with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans at wide receiver.

 

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

2019 Stats: 4,039 yards, 27 TD, 7 INT, 243 rushing yards, 1 TD

Carson Wentz was drafted as a QB1 in 2019 and it was difficult to trust him for much of the year because the Eagles had so many injuries at wide receiver. The Eagles were clearly a better team with DeSean Jackson on the field. When he didn't play (most of the year), they lacked a field-stretching receiver. If D-Jax returns to full health in 2020 or the Eagles address the position this offseason, Wentz could be dominant in 2020.

Wentz finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback this season but his 2019 campaign still feels like somewhat of a disappointment from a fantasy perspective because he only threw multiple touchdowns in a game seven times and went over 300 yards passing just five times. Wentz will be drafted as a borderline QB1 in drafts this summer, but if the Eagles have a legitimate deep threat, he could pay huge dividends and finish as a top-five quarterback.

 

Daniel Jones, NY Giants

2019 Stats: 3,207 yards, 24 TD, 12 INT, 279 rushing yards, 2 TD

Daniel Jones only averaged 6.6 yards-per-attempt in 2019 but that low number can be attributed to several factors. First, Jones was just a rookie and needs time to continue developing. Second, Darius Slayton is the only true deep-threat on the Giants roster and he didn't emerge until later in the season. Finally, Evan Engram, one of the most explosive tight ends in the league, was hurt for much of the year.

If the Giants can get healthy on the offensive side of the ball and hire an innovative offensive coordinator to replace Pat Shurmur this offseason, Jones may take a massive leap in 2020. Jones also adds a little to the Giants offense with his legs, which boosts his value for fantasy football purposes.

 

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

2019 Stats: 1,020 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT, 72 rushing yards

Drew Lock didn't put up flashy numbers in his first five starts of 2019 but he did go 4-1 in those games. Lock missed much of the season due to injury which hurt his development, but he has several young, emerging playmakers at his disposal with Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Phillip Lindsay. It will be interesting to see if he can develop decent chemistry with those guys after going through the full offseason program as the starter. If the Broncos are able to add a veteran receiver opposite Courtland Sutton through free agency to replace the departed Emmanuel Sanders, the likelihood that Lock breaks out in 2020 will only go up.

 

Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins

2019 Stats: 1,365 yards, 7 TD, 7 INT, 101 rushing yards

In 2019, Dwayne Haskins looked absolutely horrendous in his first few games for the Redskins. Haskins was not decisive with the football, held onto the ball too long, took too many sacks, threw some terrible interceptions and at times looked like he was not ready for NFL football. However, down the stretch, Haskins started completing passes at a higher rate, and stopped throwing as many picks. His yards-per-attempt were 9.3 against the Eagles and 8.9 against the Giants. Prior to Week 15 against the Giants, the highest yards-per-attempt he had in a game was just 6.6 yards, coming back on October 24th against the Vikings.

In 2020, the Redskins might actually get Trent Williams back at left tackle which would be a huge boost to the Redskins pass protection. In addition, both Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims Jr. should take a step forward with a year under their belts, and if the Redskins are able to add a tight end to the roster, Haskins could have some serious weapons at his disposal in the passing game. It's scary to think about, but a 2020 breakout from Dwayne Haskins isn't as crazy as it sounds, especially since he will play against the Eagles and Giants Defenses twice each.

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DFS Wide Receivers To Target In The Conference Champinships

In the Divisional Round of the playoffs Davante Adams dominated the Seahawks and came through as the top wide receiver on the week. The Seahawks remained in cover-1 for most of the game and they simply couldn't stop Adams who was able to beat his man all day. Marshawn Lynch scored two touchdowns against the Packers last week, but other than that he unexpectedly struggled on the ground for the Seahawks, rushing for under three yards-per-carry. Due to the Seahawks struggles on the ground, Russell Wilson had to sling it more than usual and fed Tyler Lockett who was able to overcome a difficult matchup for 136 yards and a touchdown. Marquise Brown had a decent day but he was more of a volume receiver than a deep threat. As expected, the Vikings wide receivers didn't really come through as their entire offense struggled against the 49ers Defense throughout the game. In surprising fashion, the Chiefs wide receivers really underwhelmed as Travis Kelce and Damien Williams dominated. Here is a complete statistical recap of the Divisional Round recommendations:

  • Davante Adams - 8 catches, 160 yards, 2 TD
  • Marquise Brown - 7 catches, 126 yards
  • Tyreek Hill - 3 catches, 41 yards
  • Deebo Samuel - 3 catches, 42 yards
  • DeAndre Hopkins - 9 catches, 118 yards

This week is rather difficult to evaluate because there aren't any bad teams remaining, and the skill position players have difficult matchups for the most part. The Titans are good against the run and somewhat struggle against the pass which means the Chiefs wide receiver corps should have a good showing this week. Although Travis Kelce was the big performer for the Chiefs offense last week, he will see a lot of Kevin Byard in coverage this weekend which will present some problems for him. Derrick Henry has been dominant lately and although the Chiefs struggle to stop the run, you have to wonder if he can get it done three weeks in a row. Ryan Tannehill may actually need to unleash his arm this weekend if the Titans fall behind to the Chiefs, and if they do, Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown should be the guys that come through.

I am going to stay away from Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders this week because they both have rather difficult matchups against the talented Packers cornerbacks on the perimeter. The Packers struggle defending the run which means their running backs should have success, and although Darnell Savage is having a decent rookie campaign, he gives up five inches to George Kittle which is problematic. The Packers offense came up extremely small against the 49ers when they faced off earlier in the season but I doubt that happens again. Davante Adams looks to be fully healthy and he's been unstoppable as of late, but the other Packers receivers are inconsistent and simply hard to trust. As you will read below, it looks like this is a week to play stud wide receivers for the most part when creating your DFS lineups.

 

Championship Weekend WR/CB Matchups to Exploit

Davante Adams ($8,300 FanDuel / $7,900 DraftKings) Ahkello Witherspoon

Davante Adams has scored or gone over 100 yards receiving in seven of the last eight games he's played in. Adams has been on an absolute tear and the Packers have moved him around the formation to get him open, playing him on the left side of the formation just under 40% of the time. If Adams lines up on the left side a majority of the game on Sunday, he will avoid Richard Sherman and should have a huge day as long as Aaron Rodgers has time to throw.

Tyreek Hill ($7,400 FanDuel / $7,200 DraftKings) Tramaine Brock

Last week, Marquise Brown had a big day against Tramaine Brock and the Titans Defense, going for 126 yards off of seven catches. Brown didn't really pop off a ton of huge plays, but he did have a 38-yard catch. The Titans Defense is decent against the run and somewhat susceptible to big pass plays down the field. Brock is playing alright, but he seems to be the weak link in the Titans secondary. As discussed above, the Titans are solid against the run and Travis Kelce has a troublesome matchup against Kevin Byard, which means this is likely Hill's time to shine.

A.J. Brown ($6,800 FanDuel / $5,200 DraftKings) vs Bashaud Breeland

It's widely known that A.J. Brown thrives against man-to-man coverage. Although both the Ravens and Patriots play a lot of man coverage, in both of those games, Brown found himself matched up against some of the best cornerbacks in the game, and he came up small in both contests. This week, although Bashaud Breeland is playing well, he is no Stephon Gilmore. Moreover, the Titans have controlled both of their playoff games to this point on the ground, but you have to think that will come to an end if the Chiefs are able to put some serious points on the board. If the Chiefs get up early on the Titans, Ryan Tannehill may be airing it out a lot to Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown.

Kendrick Bourne ($5,400 FanDuel / $4,200 DraftKings) vs Tramon Williams

The Packers Defense is pretty good on the perimeter and if their pass rush is able to get to Jimmy Garoppolo, he may look to get the ball out of his hands quickly to his slot receiver and tight end. If the game plays out like that, Bourne could see a lot of volume in the passing game. Kevin King is a bigger cornerback and will cover Deebo Samuel who is similarly big and tough. Jaire Alexander should cover Emmanuel Sanders for most of the game and is capable of slowing him down. That leaves Bourne with the best matchup on the week, as he should see a lot of Tramon Williams in coverage. At his low price, Bourne is a decent option if you want to get both Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams into your DFS lineups.

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DFS Wide Receivers To Target In The Divisional Round

In the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs, there were several disappointing performances from quarterbacks which contributed to low production from some wide receivers. D.K. Metcalf ended the week as the No. 1 receiver and was a bright spot, but on the low side, Mohamed Sanu was absolutely dreadful, hauling in just one of his five targets for just 11 yards. Here is a complete statistical recap of the Wildcard Round recommendations:

This week, I am staying away from A.J. Brown for the second week in a row. Brown is good against man coverage and that's what the Ravens play for the most part, but the Ravens also have solid man-to-man cornerbacks who are capable of keeping Brown in check. When targeted in the passing game, all of the Ravens cornerbacks surrender about 10 yards-per-catch while in coverage, and Marcus Peters is the only cornerback that's surrendered more than three touchdowns (five) on the season. That being said, Peters is an aggressive defensive back and Brown may be able to get by him if Peters makes an aggressive play on the ball, but I don't know if I want to take a chance on that happening. On another note, although the Ravens rush defense gave up a stingy 93.4 yards-per-game on the ground this year, they did give up 4.4 yards-per-carry which tied them with the Cardinals for 12th-worst in the league. If the Titans commit to the running game again this week, Derrick Henry may come through for a second week in a row. I am going to fade the Vikings receivers this week as well. Although the 49ers Defense was vulnerable at times down the stretch, they were banged up. They are now rested and healthy and will likely return to the form which led them to surrender a league-best 5.9 yards-per-pass. On top of that, Stefon Diggs has been sick this week and Adam Thielen suffered an ankle injury in practice which makes things a little dicey.

I am also fading both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf this week. The Packers Defense has given up just 19 passing touchdowns this season and just 232.6 yards-per-game through the air while giving up a healthy 4.7 yards-per-carry which is seventh-worst in the league. This leads me to believe Seattle will lean on the running game this week and pound the rock with Marshawn Lynch early and often. Although the Buffalo Bills lost against the Houston Texans last week, they put up the most total offense out of all the teams competing in the Wildcard Round. The Bills were able to run the ball for 172 yards and pass for 253 yards against that Texans Defense, both marks were second-best on the week. That being said, I am going to lean on Kansas City Chiefs players this weekend for the Divisional Round. As you will read below, many of the best wide receiver plays on the week are higher-end guys who are on the expensive side. That being said, Mark Ingram is the forth-most expensive running back on the board even though he is nursing a calf injury and Dalvin Cook, who is the third-most-expensive running back on the board has a difficult matchup against the 49ers Defense. If you roll with just one of the higher-end running backs and go with a guy like Duke Johnson as your RB2, you will be able to fit two of these stud, higher-priced receivers into your DFS lineups this weekend.

 

Divisional Round WR/CB Matchups to Exploit

Davante Adams ($8,400 FanDuel / $7,800 DraftKings) vs Tre Flowers

The Seahawks Defense has been vulnerable against the pass all season and Davante Adams is the main threat in the Packers passing game. The other Packers receivers are simply too hard to trust, and over his last three games, Adams has at least 13 targets in each, and has gained at least 93 yards and scored in two of those three games. The Seahawks defense struggles against the run, giving up 4.9 yards-per-carry, but this is the playoffs, and the Packers aren't going to hold anything back. They're going to feed their studs to win this game with Adams being one of them. While the Seahawks give up 263.9 passing yards-per-game, they have only surrendered 19 touchdowns through the air which ties them with the Packers for fifth-best in the league. While Adams isn't a good bet to score this week, he is likely to get targeted north of 10 times and rack up over 100 yards. If Seattle makes this game a shootout, Adams will go off.

Marquise Brown ($5,300 FanDuel / $4,400 DraftKings) vs Tramaine Brock

The Titans Defense has given up 55 plays of 20+ receiving yards on the season and Tramaine Brock has given up the second-most receiving yards while in coverage out of all the Titans cornerbacks even though he hasn't played in all of their games. Brock surrenders a catch rate of just under 70% and opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 110.7 while throwing in his direction. Out of the 472 yards that Brock has given up in coverage this year, 222 of them have come after the catch, which means there's a really good chance that Marquise Brown catches one and takes it a long way to the house this weekend. The Titans are very good against the run, giving up just 4.0 yards-per-carry, which means Lamar Jackson may have to win this game with his arm, especially with Mark Ingram still feeling the effects of his calf injury.

Tyreek Hill ($7,900 FanDuel / $7,600 DraftKings) vs Gareon Conley

Nobody in the NFL can run with Tyreek Hill, and the Chiefs will likely take a few shots to him early in an effort to put some points on the board quickly against the shaky Texans secondary. The Texans Defense gave up 58 plays of 20+ passing yards during the regular season which was eighth-worst in the league which indicates they are susceptible to the big play. These two teams faced off earlier this year in Hill's first game back from injury, and he was able to haul in five of his 10 targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

Deebo Samuel ($6,100 FanDuel / $5,200 DraftKings) vs Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes played very well last week against the New Orleans Saints, but he was banged up in the game, suffering what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Deebo Samuel is extremely difficult to bring down after the catch and if Rhodes is still suffering the effects of his injury, he may have trouble containing Samuel. Even without the injury, Rhodes has given up more yards after the catch than any other Vikings cornerback this season which sets up well for Samuel.

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,100 FanDuel / $7,400 DraftKings) vs Bashaud Breeland

The Chiefs Defense has been playing very well over the last few weeks and I understand that. However, the Chiefs are going to put a lot of points on the board against the vulnerable Texans defense which will force Deshaun Watson to put the ball in the air often. The Chiefs are almost double-digit favorites in this game, and if the Texans go down, they will go down swinging, throwing the ball to their No. 1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. Bashaud Breeland and the rest of the Chiefs secondary is playing very well, but Hopkins will get his. I would, however, rank Hopkins behind both Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill this week.

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DFS Wide Receivers To Target In The Wild Card Round

In Week 17, John Brown was inactive and Robert Foster played in his place. Even though Foster played 98.4% of the snaps, he failed to haul in a single target and ended up with a goose egg. Instead, Duke Williams led the way for the Bills receivers, hauling in six passes for 108 yards. I turned out to be completely wrong about the Rams receivers last week as they played the entire game, leading to both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods finishing as top-11 receivers. I also got off of the Devante Parker band-wagon for Week 17 and that turned out to be the wrong thing to do as he hauled in eight passes for 137 yards, helping the Dolphins beat the Patriots. On a positive note, Michael Gallup torched the Redskins secondary, ending up as the No. 1 receiver on the week. Here is a complete statistical recap of the Week 17 recommendations:

  • Courtland Sutton - 8 targets, 4 catches, 52 yards
  • Michael Gallup - 7 targets, 5 catches, 98 yards, 3 TD
  • John Brown - 0 targets, 0 catches
  • Pivot: Robert Foster - 4 targets, 0 catches
  • Golden Tate - 8 targets, 5 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD
  • Greg Ward - 7 targets, 6 catches, 43 yards
  • Dede Westbrook - 8 targets, 7 catches, 72 yards, 1 TD

Teams have been stacking the box against the Titans this year in an effort to stop Derrick Henry, and when teams play man-to-man coverage behind the stacked box, A.J. Brown ($8,300 Fanduel / $7,400 DraftKings) has been able to dominate. However, when Brown has gone up against a formidable man-to-man corner, he has been slowed down. In Week 16, Brown saw Marshon Lattimore in coverage and was held to just one catch for 34 yards and there may be a similar result this weekend when he faces Stephon Gilmore. Although Devante Parker was able to have a solid day against the Patriots Defense last week, I am more willing to bet on the Patriots making adjustments and not allowing that to happen again than allowing another wide receiver to torch them for a second week in a row.

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,700 Fanduel / $7,700 DraftKings) has a tough matchup against Tre'Davious White this week so I will look elsewhere on the high-end. Hopkins is an elite wide receiver but White is an elite talent as well, and if Hopkins is going to do any damage this weekend, it's likely because another cornerback gets lined up on him. Even if White covers Hopkins for 100% of the snaps, he won't be completely shut down, but his upside will be capped. Levi Wallace is the slowest cornerback in the Bills secondary, and if either Kenny Stills or Will Fuller gets matched up on him it could mean trouble for the Bills Defense. Be careful relying on Will Fuller this weekend, because although he returned to practice this week his status for the game is still uncertain.

 

Wild Card Round WR/CB Matchups to Exploit

John Brown ($6,800 FanDuel / $6,000 DraftKings) vs Jonathan Joseph

On the season the Texans Defense gave up the forth-most yards-per-game through the air (267.2) and gave up 7.7 yards-per-pass which was the eighth-worst mark in the league. The Texans are also one of just seven teams in the NFL to surrender at least 30 touchdown passes on the year. Jonathan Joseph is getting up there in age and although he's extremely savvy, he's starting to slow down a little bit. If Joseph is ever asked to open it up and keep up with John Brown deep down the field, he may be in trouble.

Cole Beasley ($6,400 FanDuel / $5,600 DraftKings) vs Vernon Hargreaves III

As referenced above, the Texans defense ranks among the worst in the league against the pass. Vernon Hargreaves III has given up more yards while in coverage than any other cornerback on the Texans roster, albeit some of that yardage came while he played for the Buccaneers. Cole Beasley tends to shine when John Brown has a difficult matchup. Although Brown doesn't have a bad matchup this week, the likely game script should force Josh Allen to put the ball in the air more than usual, meaning Beasley should see a healthy number of targets.

Michael Thomas ($8,900 FanDuel / $9,300 DraftKings) vs Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes has surrendered 707 yards while in coverage this season which ranks worst among all Vikings cornerbacks and opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 127.8 when throwing in in his direction. The Vikings Defense is ok against the run, giving up 4.3 yards-per-carry which puts them around the middle of the pack in the NFL, but it's much easier to throw on them. Thomas has gained over 125 receiving yards and scored in three of his last four games and if the Saints struggle to run the ball this weekend Michael Thomas may see 15+ targets from Drew Brees.

Mohamed Sanu ($5,500 FanDuel / $3,900 DraftKings) vs Tramaine Brock Sr.

The Patriots have struggled to run the ball all season and this weekend they will face the Titans Defense which gives up 4.0 yards-per-carry which is seventh-best in the NFL. The Titans secondary has been the defense's weak link throughout the season, bug Logan Ryan has been their lone bright spot. Ryan figures to cover Julian Edelman out of the slot for most of the game, which leaves the Patriots perimeter receivers with the better matchups.

D.K. Metcalf ($6,200 FanDuel /$6,100 DraftKings) vs Rasul Douglas

The Eagles Defense has been struggling in the secondary throughout the season and things won't get much easier this weekend with Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks coming to town. Although Wilson has struggled a little bit lately, he's a former Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Wilson has been there before, he knows how to win in the biggest situations and he's capable of putting the team on his back. Out of all the Seahawks receivers, D.K. Metcalf has the best matchup. Metcalf runs a 4.33-forty while Rasul Douglas clocks in with a 4.59-forty, so there's a really good chance that he gets deep a time or two this weekend. Tyler Lockett has been hard to trust lately and was only targeted seven times in Week 17 against the 49ers, compared to the 12 targets that Metcalf saw.

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Matt Ryan Goes Over 300 Yards In Week 17

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 30 of 51 passing for 313 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons 28-22 victory over the Buccaneers, going over 300 yards for the 11th time this season. Ryan's play improved towards the middle of the season after the Falcons improved on defense by making a change at defensive coordinator, which took some pressure off the quarterback. Ryan finished the year as a top-12 quarterback and will likely be drafted as a QB1 in 2020.