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Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups - Week 7

Things are starting to get difficult for fantasy football managers.

Indianapolis, Minnesota, Miami and Baltimore all have the week off, so fantasy managers are already playing shorthanded. Fielding a full lineup is going to be tough as it is if you have a few injuries. If one of your key guys is listed as questionable heading into their game, you better have a backup plan the A-Team would have been proud of back in the 80s.

Without further ado, here are my pivot plays and post-waiver pickups for Week 7 --- and the questionable superstars who you might need to replace:

 

Week 7 Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups

Darren Fells (HOU, TE) vs. GB

If Denver’s Noah Fant (ankle) cannot go again on Sunday, you could go with…

Before you go thinking Fells is a bottom-of-the-barrel choice at the tight end position, remember that he scored a career-high seven touchdowns last year. Deshaun Watson loved throwing to him inside the red zone, but then early in 2020 Fells lost his place as Houston’s top tight end to up-and-comer Jordan Akins. Fells subsequently only caught six passes over his first four games.

Akins is banged-up with multiple injuries, however, and Fells has reclaimed his role and has thrived just like he did last season. He recorded eight receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown during the last two weeks he has been Houston’s main man at tight end. Fells is a nice fallback option if you are a Fant fan who gets burned at the last minute as his home matchup against Green Bay should not scare any fantasy managers away.

 

Anthony Firkser (TEN, TE) vs. PIT

If Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith (ankle) cannot suit up on Sunday, you could go with…

Backup tight ends are about as valuable in fantasy football as punters and waterboys. Even if you were in an AFC South fantasy league you probably would have passed on Firkser. Smith started strong as Tennessee’s top tight end (19-234-5) and made Firkser a fantasy non-factor the first month-plus, but Smith is on a limpy leg due to an ankle injury suffered this past week.

All Firkser did once Smith got hurt last Sunday was step in and step up to the tune of eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. I know Firkser is facing an undefeated Pittsburgh team with a top-10 pass defense, but we have seen how well the Titans passing attack has gone with Ryan Tannehill as its leader. No matter who is plugged in as a pass catcher, that person produces when Tannehill is throwing to him. Firkser is the perfect insurance policy if you have Smith on your roster. 40 yards and a TD is not out of the question if he starts for Smith.

 

Nelson Agholor (LV, WR) vs. TB (MONDAY)

If New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (ankle) cannot find his way to the field on Sunday, you could go with…

Agholor is getting to be a modern-day Cris Carter --- all he does is catch touchdown passes. Despite only being targeted 11 times in five games, Agholor has reached the end zone a trio of times and is averaging an impressive 18.5 yards per catch after never averaging more than 12.5 yards a catch in any of his first four seasons.

Agholor is not Derek Carr’s top target or second-best target. Might not even be his third-best. The fact is that Agholor is making plays every time the ball is spiraled his way, however, and he could break a play or two versus Tampa Bay on Sunday night. When picking up a player for fantasy purposes when you have a lineup emergency, it is sometimes best to get a game breaker who can post a ton of fantasy points in one shot rather than go for a guy who needs a volume of targets to be worthwhile. Agholor has shown he can give fantasy managers a lot with just one or two catches in a game.

 

Frank Gore (NYJ, RB) vs. BUF

If Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon (foot) cannot overcome his injury on Sunday, you could go with…

I know Gore is 100 years old. I know being a favorite of Adam Gase is like being a favorite of Rich Kotite. And I know Gore has not amassed more than 70 combined yards in a game this season and is facing a desperate Buffalo defense that will be out for blood after losing two straight games and tail spinning out of control. I know all this.

I also know that there is not much on the waiver wire at running back at this point of the season, especially at the end of the week after the first round of waiver picks have happened. On top of that, Buffalo has the 25th-ranked run defense in the league and can be exploited if the Jets offensive line brings its best game of the season. The Jets have nowhere to go but up, and neither does Gore. If you need someone in a pinch if Mixon’s foot holds him back, you might as well plug in this veteran and pray for the best. One thing is for sure --- Gore will get touches because there is not much behind him on the depth chart in the Jets backfield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Top IDP Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 7

Pickings can always be slim in deep IDP leagues, but this year it is looking thinner than usual in even the shallowest of setups. In fact, going shopping for IDP players in 2020 can often feel like you’re going to the grocery store for filet mignon, only to bring home a roll of toilet paper and a tube of Preparation H. Sure, that hemorrhoid cream may come in helpful someday… but it isn’t what you went to the store to get. And it definitely isn’t going to serve the same purpose as the steak you meant to buy but never got… at least I hope it won’t. But maybe it will? I mean, who am I to judge what you do and don’t eat? If you want to eat Preparation H, you do you!

Anyways, the point is that pickings can be slim out there on the IDP waiver wire, depending on your league’s scoring and roster setups. That doesn’t mean there aren’t guys available who can help you, though. It also doesn’t mean that you should dump your starter after one bad game, nor should you keep starting a big name who has played like a bust all season (i.e., Cory Littleton). You must be a reasonable and vigilant manager, which means you should occasionally to listen to my (sometimes) passable advice!

P.S. Thank you for finally rostering Jeremy Chinn in over 25% of IDP leagues! We can finally remove him from this list!

 

IDP Settings

As a reminder, we will use the following IDP designations/league settings for our FAAB recommendations:

  • Standard Scoring Leagues: This system usually rewards 1-point per tackle, 3-points per sack, 4-points per turnover, and sometimes offers 2-points for a tackle for loss (TFL) or pass deflection (PD). Standard leagues also usually only start one DL, LB, and DB, respectively. You will always prioritize your FAAB budget towards offensive players in Standard Scoring IDP leagues, though you shouldn't underestimate the value of adding a great defender in them.
  • Defense Premium Leagues: Defense Premium leagues tend to try to make defensive players worth as much as offensive players. Commissioners often accomplish this by rewarding 2-points per tackle, 3-points for TFL or PDs, 4-points per sack, and 6-points per turnover. In these leagues, you don't necessarily prioritize offensive players on waivers. While it is a case-by-case analysis, defenders in these leagues can often be worth as much as most offensive waiver additions.
  • Deep Defense Leagues: These are leagues that have you start a full defense, or require you to start CBs and DTs, or they are leagues so deep (think 16 team leagues) that at least 32 players at each position (DL, LB, and DB) start every week.
  • Dynasty Leagues: This is self-explanatory to most. Dynasty leagues are those in which every player you draft/add is on your team until you trade or release him.

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let's get to this week's top adds! Remember that we will only address defenders who are rostered in less than 30% of IDP leagues on ESPN, Yahoo, or other prominent sites. We will also do our best to avoid obvious additions. While players like Myles Garrett are somehow rostered in only 31% of ESPN IDP leagues, we assume that anyone reading this material knows to add Garrett if they can.

 

1. Chase Young, DL, Washington Football Team

Young was on this list last week, and his roster percentage hasn’t gone up at all since then. While Young didn’t take advantage of a great matchup in Week 6, there are few defenders with his weekly upside. He is a must roster in dynasty leagues, Deep Defense leagues, and pretty much all IDP formats.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 3%

Defense Premium FAAB: 4%

Deep Defense FAAB: 5%

Dynasty FAAB: 5%

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pierre-Paul is a relatively obvious name that was left off of some of our early lists because we assumed he would be picked up in a large number of leagues relatively early in the season without our help. However, that does not appear to be the case as Pierre-Paul is still available in approximately 85% of IDP leagues.

The guy is third in the NFL in sacks right now and he has done well against some top-notch blocking units, like the one in Green Bay. He should be rostered in all IDP leagues where he qualifies as a DL, and in Defense Premium leagues as either a DL or LB.

Standard League FAAB: 1%

Defense Premium FAAB: 4%

Deep Defense FAAB: 4%

Dynasty: 1%

3. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Vander Esch’s roster percentage only dropped low enough to qualify for this column because of his recent collarbone injury. Now that the former Boise State star is back on the field, he should be rostered in more than 25% of leagues… but he isn’t.

The kid has averaged nearly six solo-tackles per game for his career and over eight total tackles per game, which means he has a lot of value in Standard IDP setups and in leagues that place a premium on tackles. His youth and ability to tip passes mean he isn’t just worth rostering in Standard leagues, though. Vander Esch should be rostered in almost all IDP leagues with ten or more teams.

Side note- Jaylon Smith’s fantasy production could eventually take a slight dip when Vander Esch gets up to speed, as the two young thumpers split stats.

Standard League FAAB: Wait

Defense Premium FAAB: 1%

Deep Defense FAAB: 3%

Dynasty FAAB: 1%

4. Carlton Davis, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While Davis is only rostered in 11% of fantasy leagues, he sits tied for third in the NFL in interceptions and tied for first in PDs. The Auburn product is also averaging nearly four solo-tackles per game, which means you can count on him in pretty much all IDP scoring formats. This steady fantasy production is largely thanks to the fact opposing passers still target Davis, despite his elite resume. Expect that heavy target share to continue against receivers like Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and others.

With a heavy target share and terrific ball skills, Davis is probably already rostered in any leagues that require you to start a CB. If he isn’t, he should be. It isn’t just CB mandated leagues where Davis should be rostered, however. He is a top-20 fantasy DB in pretty much every league, every week. Start Davis in all IDP leagues any time he lines up against a stud WR who you know will get targets, like Michael Thomas or Julio Jones.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 2%

Defense Premium FAAB: 8%

Deep Defense FAAB: 8%

Dynasty: 2%

5. Brandon Graham, DL, Philadelphia Eagles

Graham sits fourth in the NFL in both sacks and TFLs this season, and he is on a career high pace in both categories. That pace should continue, as the former Michigan star has six more games this season against pass blocking units that rank in the bottom half of the NFL. Expect this grizzled vet to produce fantasy points in the five remaining games he has against the NFC East, as well as against Seattle. That kind of outlook makes him a worth an add in all 14-team IDP leagues, and in Deep Defense setups.

Standard League FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

Defense Premium FAAB: Wait

6. Leonard Williams, DL, New York Giants

This one is not a flashy or particularly popular name to add to our list, but hear us out. So far, Williams has averaged four tackles, one TFL, and 0.5 sacks per game this season. That isn’t half-bad for fantasy purposes. His overall stats aren’t the primary reason to roster him in deep IDP leagues, though. Rather, the main reason to roster Williams this year is his schedule.

Half of the remaining games on the Giants' schedule this year are against teams who rank in the bottom half of the NFL in Adjusted Sack Rate. That isn't even counting a Dallas offensive line that is declining rapidly without Tyron Smith. These matchups are prime spots for Williams to put up fantasy stats, and he has already shown the ability to take advantage of these kinds of matchups against San Francisco and Washington.

While Williams isn't a must-add in Standard leagues, he is worth considering in Deep Defense IDP leagues. Leave him on your bench half of the time if you like, but you may want to start the former Trojan in matchups with Washington, Philadelphia, Seattle, Cincinnati, and Dallas.

Deep Defense FAAB: Wait

7. Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Greenlaw was on this list last week, and he rewarded those who listened to our advice with eight solo-tackles and a TFL. Those results are consistent with what has happened over the past year when Kwon Alexander is out of the 49ers’ lineup. When Alexander sits, Greenlaw plays close to 100% of the 49ers’ snaps and he rakes in the tackles.

This former Arkansas safety is young and worth a long-term roster spot in deep dynasty leagues. He is also a worthwhile pick-up in deep redraft leagues, or in Standard IDP leagues where you need a guy to fill-in for Darius Leonard or Kwon Alexander.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: 1%

Dynasty FAAB: 1%

8. Malcolm Butler, DB, Tennessee Titans

It's been some time since Butler was particularly relevant in anything, but he is having a solid fantasy season so far. Right now, he is averaging six solo-tackles per game, playing a similar role to what Logan Ryan did in Tennessee last year. On top of that, Butler sits tied for seventh in the NFL in PDs, and he has returned his two interceptions for a total of 97 yards, showing big-play potential.

While Butler isn't a long-term asset, and he isn't worth rostering in shallow IDP leagues, he will continue to get you targets and tackles. He is rosterable in Deep Dynasty leagues and, perhaps, in 16-team Defense Premium setups. You won't have to pay much for Butler, either, as his name has lost a lot of luster over the past few years.

Defense Premium FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: Wait



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Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups - Week 6

The pivot plays and post-waiver pickups keep coming, RotoBallers!

There is no Thursday game this week to burn fantasy football players, but there are now two Monday night games and plenty of Sunday games that could catch fantasy managers off guard if they do not have backup plans in place for the “questionable” players on their rosters. You always need a Plan B in fantasy football, especially in 2020.

Without further ado, here are my pivot plays and post-waiver pickups for Week 6 -- and the questionable fantasy football starters who you might need to replace.

 

Keelan Cole (JAC, WR) vs. DET

If Atlanta’s Julio Jones (hamstring) cannot trot out there on Sunday afternoon...

While fantasy managers are falling over themselves to pick up Philadelphia's Travis Fulgham and Kansas City's Mecole Hardman, Cole is an intriguing late-week pick that will probably fall through the waiver wire cracks. Jacksonville's No. 2 WR has yet to have a 60-yard game on the season, but he has found his way to the end zone three times in the Jaguars' five contests. Cole has also received steady work as he has been targeted at least five times in each of his outings.

Detroit's pass defense is mediocre, and the Lions have allowed No. 2 and No. 3 receivers to burn them this season. New Orleans' Tre-Quan Smith caught two touchdown tosses from Drew Brees in Detroit's last game, and Arizona's Andy Isabella pulled the same two-TD trick on them in Week 3.  It would be no surprise to Cole have five catches for 50-60 yards and a score on Sunday.

 

Irv Smith Jr. (MIN, TE) vs. ATL

If Denver’s Noah Fant (ankle) or Houston’s Jordan Akins (concussion) cannot suit up...

Smith was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft and was immediately made an important part of Minnesota’s offense as the Vikings ran much of their system out of two-tight-end formations. Smith did little to build off his promising rookie campaign this season, however. He had just two catches for 14 yards entering Week 5 and was probably dropped in most fantasy leagues. But Smith bounced back this past Sunday night by hauling in four passes for 64 yards against Seattle’s 32nd-ranked pass defense.

While Smith’s track record this year (other than his performance last week) has been far from Pro Bowl-worthy, Atlanta’s track record when it comes to pass defense is has been as horrendous as Seattle’s. Atlanta has the second-worst pass defense in the NFL and has had just as much trouble keeping its defensive backs healthy as it has covering receivers and tight ends. Now that Smith is getting more involved in Minnesota’s passing attack, this is the perfect time for him to have another good game against a terrible secondary.

 

J.D. McKissic (WAS, RB) at NYG

If Minnesota’s’s Dalvin Cook (groin) cannot limp onto the field on Sunday...

McKissic is not going to win a rushing title in his lifetime. We know this. He has rushed for 75 yards this season and 402 yards over the course of the four seasons coming into the present one. It is not his forte, despite being a running back. Washington opts to leave the running to Antonio Gibson and Peyton Barber.

What McKissic can do well is catch the ball out of the backfield, and that skill comes in handy for fantasy players in a pinch, especially if they participate in PPR leagues. McKissic has caught 16 passes (on 20 targets) for 123 yards over his last three games. With Washington facing the winless New York Giants this Sunday in a game with surprising division title implications, look for McKissic to keep being featured on swing and screen passes with Kyle Allen back under center helming the offense. There is nothing more welcomed in PPR leagues than points from short dump-offs that only gain a few yards.

 

Gabriel Davis (BUF, WR) vs. KC

If Buffalo’s John Brown (calf) cannot make it on Monday night...

Davis is likely available in most fantasy leagues since No. 4 wide receivers rarely make it on fantasy rosters unless those higher on the depth charts on their teams get injured. Davis is not your run-of-the-mill No. 4 WR, though. The fourth-round rookie has an abundance of talent and has the size and speed that could make him a premium playmaker, and so far he has made plenty of plays even though he usually is not a starter. Davis has either accounted for 50-plus yards or scored a touchdown in each of his past four games, and he was targeted nine times by Josh Allen and had a score called back due to a penalty this past Tuesday at Tennessee.

Kansas City may have the sixth-ranked pass defense in the league, but that is largely because of games against Baltimore and New England where the Chiefs held Lamar Jackson and Brian Hoyer each under 135 yards passing.  The Chiefs allowed an average of 300 passing yards in their other trio of contests. If Brown cannot go on Monday night, picking up and using Davis as a fill-in should work out all right. Davis has proven he can play and be a point producer when given ample opportunities.



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Digging for Value in the New York Jets Backfield

It was a long time coming and finally it happened. The Jets wanted away from Le’Veon Bell and the feeling was certainly mutual. In a season marred by bad play and worse coaching, the Jets took another loss by releasing their prized free-agent signing from last season.

In a total of 21 games on the roster, Bell was a total bust. In two games this season, he recorded fewer rush yards (74) than Malcolm Butler did on his two interception returns on Tuesday Night Football (96).

It is clear to all that the New York Jets are in tank mode. Why else would they keep Adam Gase around and still calling the offensive plays? They want to lose. Getting rid of one of the few players who may stop that from happening is the final step in giving up. Next year, with the draft capital amassed and an entirely new coaching staff, the team could start to improve. As for this year? It is over with. The real question now is who are they going to hand the ball off to the rest of the year? And how will they do behind a subpar offensive line?

 

The Inconvenient Truth

Frank Gore is the main player who will gain even more snaps. It is clear Gase loves him despite his advanced age and steep decline. He was signed to the team at the first opportunity and he was the next man up when Bell was placed on IR this season. Although he is likely a future Hall of Famer, the time of Gore being fantasy-relevant has long passed. Do not tell this to the Jets though. They are still going to run him until the wheels fall off. As a Gore fan, I hope he does well. As a realist, I do not see anything but heartache for anyone who starts him for fantasy.

Through five games in 2020, Gore has 64 rushes for 204 yards. This is a paltry 3.2 Y/A. This has equated to exactly zero TD on the ground. He is also a non-factor in the passing game with only two receptions for 11 yards on the season. If this is the lead back on a team, it is a team you want no part of. This makes him at best, and I use the word "best" lightly, a flex play moving forward the rest of the season.

With this said, there are still a few others who may get a bit of run. There is not much to talk about with Josh Adams and Lamical Perine, but we still need to mention them. Just in case the Jets go on a tear in the second half of the season...

 

The Others

Josh Adams is a decent player but he is what he is at this point. He runs between the tackles, averages 4.1 yards per carry, and is limited as a pass-catcher. Not the type of player that wins you a week in fantasy unless he is scoring touchdowns, which is unlikely in this offense.

After the season-ending injury to Jay Ajayi two years back, Adams was able to come off the practice squad for the Eagles and provide some stability. Of course, he was playing behind an offensive line consisting of Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Jason Peters. This is far different from the line the Jets are putting on the field each and every week.

After the 2018 season, Philadelphia did not feel the need to retain his services and he found his way onto this Jets roster as a backup to Le’Veon Bell and now Frank Gore. As the veteran backup next to rookie Perine, he will be next man up should something happen to Gore. This is still not someone even worth rostering. Even in the deepest of leagues, Adams is a dart throw at best. The type of dart throw you make after a night of drinking. So, stay away. If you are down to the dregs of playing Adams, you are already done for the season.

When it comes to Perine, the rookie from Florida, he is another shot in the dark who will not do much for you. Perine wasn't a workhorse in college, used mostly as a receiver out of the backfield. He gained a lot of yardage in a couple of big games but was quiet most of the time. His workout numbers don't exactly scream "impending breakout player" either.

image taken from PlayerProfiler

On 15 NFL carries this season, Perine has 56 yards. He has two receptions for -1 yard in the passing game. This shows not only the ineptitude of the Jets offense, but the effect it has on the players who try to play in it.

We are still not sure how severe the shoulder injury of Sam Darnold is. Until his return, Joe Flacco will be behind center for the team. This even further limits the upside as Flacco will not be able to move out of the pocket to extend plays. He is a figure of yesteryear - a statue QB in a league moving away from this type of player at the position.

The New York Jets are a ship going down in the sea. Le’Veon Bell was happy to get off the sinking ship. You should follow suit and abandon ship as well. It just might salvage your fantasy team.



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Top IDP Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 6

Last week, we gave you a few select pieces of advice in our IDP waiver column and our weekly IDP rankings column. Let’s review a couple of those pieces of advice, and whether they panned out, shall we?

Last week we told you to stop letting Budda Baker sit on waivers. We warned you that he had missed one week, but was still a star in a thin DB pool. Today his roster percentage stands at 61% in both ESPN and Yahoo leagues. The 39% who failed to roster Baker this past weekend missed out on a sack, eight solo tackles, and ten total tackles.

That’s elite production from any DB, and the guy silenced injury concerns by playing 100% of the Cardinals’ defensive snaps just a week after thumb surgery. If you are part of the 39% who left him on waivers, I would ask you to look at his performance this past weekend and compare it to whoever you started instead of adding him. I’d hazard that Baker outperformed whatever DB you started over him.

 

Week 6 Intro

Baker is not the only player you left out there despite our brilliant IDP advice here at Rotoballer, though. Last week we also warned you to stop dropping Darius Leonard. Since then, Leonard has been dropped in another 18% of IDP leagues. Now the Colts’ superstar is rostered in a mere 75% of ESPN leagues, and a woeful 68% of IDP leagues in Yahoo. This is an unreasonably low roster percentage for a guy who comfortably dominated all other defenders in fantasy the second half of last year. I mean, come on guys! Sometimes it feels like the only person listening to our brilliant advice is our very imaginary super fan, Trevor.... Oh, and that weird guy on Instagram who keeps asking me if I like my cabbage boiled and always comments that I ‘look like a toothpaste model’ in every picture I post.

Side note: what does that even mean, TaterGuy121? What does a toothpaste model even look like? Are you complimenting me, or telling me I’m so ugly that my teeth are my best feature? I mean, I know I have straight teeth, but I also have eyes, a nose, and a pretty darned nice… you know what? Never mind. I’m getting sidetracked.

The point is, let our warnings about Budda Baker serve as a lesson. We told you to stop leaving proven IDP stars on waivers due to minor injuries, and a lot of you missed out on serious fantasy production by ignoring that advice. Please don't do that with Leonard. Find space for him on your bench until he is healthy, perhaps even trade two decent players you aren't using for a good one so you can improve your roster AND make room for Leonard when he returns. It doesn't matter how you do it, get him rostered in 100% of IDP leagues!

 

IDP Settings

As a reminder, we will use the following IDP designations/league settings for our FAAB recommendations:

  • Standard Scoring Leagues: This system usually rewards 1-point per tackle, 3-points per sack, 4-points per turnover, and sometimes offers 2-points for a tackle for loss (TFL) or pass deflection (PD). Standard leagues also usually only start one DL, LB, and DB, respectively. You will always prioritize your FAAB budget towards offensive players in Standard Scoring IDP leagues, though you shouldn't underestimate the value of adding a great defender in them.
  • Defense Premium Leagues: Defense Premium leagues tend to try to make defensive players worth as much as offensive players. Commissioners often accomplish this by rewarding 2-points per tackle, 3-points for TFL or PDs, 4-points per sack, and 6-points per turnover. In these leagues, you don't necessarily prioritize offensive players on waivers. While it is a case-by-case analysis, defenders in these leagues can often be worth as much as most offensive waiver additions.
  • Deep Defense Leagues: These are leagues that have you start a full defense, or require you to start CBs and DTs, or they are leagues so deep (think 16 team leagues) that at least 32 players at each position (DL, LB, and DB) start every week.
  • Dynasty Leagues: This is self-explanatory to most. Dynasty leagues are those in which every player you draft/add is on your team until you trade or release him.

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let's get to this week's top adds! Remember that we will only address defenders who are rostered in less than 30% of IDP leagues on ESPN, Yahoo, or other prominent sites. We will also do our best to avoid obvious additions. While players like Myles Garrett are somehow rostered in only 31% of ESPN IDP leagues, we assume that anyone reading this material knows to add Garrett if they can.

 

1. Chase Young, DL, Washington Football Team

It doesn't seem like he should qualify for this list, but he does. Young's elite talent is available in 77% of IDP leagues, which is a bit much even if you factor in the Buckeye's injury in Week 2. Young should be rostered in all leagues, and you should particularly like his matchup against the Giants this week. He is an easy top-ten DL this week, as long as he continues to play.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 3%

Defense Premium FAAB: 4%

Deep Defense FAAB: 5%

Dynasty FAAB: 5%

2. Bobby Okereke, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Last week we told you to add Anthony Walker as a solid fill-in for Darius Leonard, and that call turned out well. Okereke performed even better than Walker, however. Playing 100% of his team’s snaps for the first time all year, Okereke totaled ten tackles, a pick, and a PD against Cleveland last week. While that type of production may decline just a bit against a pass-heavy Bengals offense this coming week, Okereke is a young and talented defender worth adding as a Leonard fill-in in Standard IDP leagues. He is also worth rostering in Deep Defense and deep dynasties.

Standard League FAAB: 1% (if you need a Leonard sub)

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

Dynasty FAAB: Wait

3. Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Minnesota Vikings

We first told you to add Ngakoue in fantasy after he nabbed a strip-sack against the Colts in Week 2. Since then, Ngakoue has totaled at least one sack and one TFL in three straight games (four games straight, overall). On top of that, he has forced a fumble and averaged nearly three tackles over the past three weeks. Ngakoue is doing all of this despite being the focal point of opposing blockers, with little help from teammates. If Danielle Hunter ever returns, these numbers could increase as Hunter forces QBs towards Ngakoue with regularity. With how thin the DL position is right now, Ngakoue should not be available in 82% of IDP leagues.

Standard League FAAB: 1%

Defense Premium FAAB: 3%

Deep Defense FAAB: 1%

Dynasty FAAB: 2%

4. Harold Landry III, DL, Tennessee Titans

Another player we have already told you to roster but is still available in over 80% of IDP leagues. Landry has averaged over four tackles per game so far this season, and he just notched his first sack against the Bills. Expect his sack numbers to continue to rise, and his tackle rate to stay steady. A bonus of having Landry as your starting DL is that he already had his BYE week, meaning you shouldn't need a backup unless COVID strikes again or injuries crop up. Landry is young enough and well-rounded enough to be rostered anywhere he qualifies as a DL.

Standard League FAAB: 1%

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

Defense Premium FAAB: Wait

Dynasty FAAB: Wait

5. Jeremy Chinn, DB/LB, Carolina Panthers

You've heard it before, so start adding him, huh? He is almost rostered in enough leagues that he won't qualify for this list. Let's get him there! The guy hasn't logged less than seven tackles in any game, and he will keep getting better.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 2%

Defense Premium FAAB: 2%

Deep Defense FAAB: 7%

Dynasty FAAB: 5%

6. Justin Simmons, DB, Denver Broncos

Simmons was a top-ten DB in fantasy in most formats last year, and he is so again this year. He is valuable in both Deep Defense leagues, thanks to his ability to get you INTs and PDs, and in Standard leagues where his tackling ability will be valued. With his BYE in the rearview mirror, Simmons has even more appeal since you can leave him in your DB slot for the rest of the year.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait

Defense Premium FAAB: 2%

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

Dynasty FAAB: Wait

7. Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Thanks to injuries and Kwon Alexander taking passing down work with Fred Warner, Greenlaw has seen his 2020 fantasy value take a hit. Greenlaw is back healthy, and Alexander may be headed for the IR with a high ankle sprain, however.

Fantasy managers should strongly consider adding and starting Greenlaw for however long Alexander is out. Dynasty managers should also consider keeping Greenlaw for the long term since Alexander could be a cap casualty in 2021. Remember that when Alexander missed the 49ers' final eight regular-season games last year, Greenlaw played over 90% of the team’s defensive snaps in each of those contests. The former Razorback averaged over nine tackles over that span, and he totaled 13 tackles in both Weeks 16 and 17. Don’t spend FAAB on him, because most won’t see much fantasy value in Greenlaw’s 2020 stats, but consider adding him for free if you can.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait

Deep Defense FAAB: Wait

Dynasty FAAB: Wait

8. Willie Gay Jr., LB, Kansas City Chiefs

A talented but troubled second-round selection in this year's draft, Gay Jr. has seen his snaps increase every game this season. He spent the Chiefs' entire opener on the bench, only to play nearly half of their snaps this past week against the Raiders. You saw the talent when Gay Jr. got to play in Week 5, when he totaled six tackles and a sack. It is far too early to add Gay Jr. in any but the deepest of redraft leagues, but he is a good add in deep dynasty setups.

Deep Defense FAAB: Wait

Dynasty FAAB: Wait



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Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups - Week 5

Welcome to the newest weekly column here at RotoBaller! It is not easy these days being a fantasy football manager. Injuries are ravaging rosters throughout the NFL and fantasy worlds. Then fantasy managers must navigate last-minute COVID cancellations and the dreaded bye weeks. It is enough to make many think that coin collecting or bird watching would be better hobbies to invest time into than fantasy football.

The dreaded “questionable” tag that banged-up players are labeled with causes more ulcers for fantasy managers than fast food and annoying in-laws combined. You wait and wait until Saturday night or Sunday morning to find out if your “questionable” player is going to suit up, and sometimes he doesn’t. Then you are left scrambling like Lamar Jackson for a last-minute backup plan, but your league’s waiver wire is bare because that week’s free-agent picks have already been made and all the decent available players are gone. That’s where I and this column comes in.

Without further ado, here are my pivot plays and post-waiver pickups for Week 5 --- and the questionable superstars who you might need to replace:

 

Week 5 Pivot Plays and Post-Waiver Pickups

 If Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (ankle) does not play Thursday night, you could go with…

 Cameron Brate (TB, TE) at CHI

If you are participating in a showdown DFS contest on Thursday night, Brate is the perfect bargain-basement option. He is already going to get more time and targets due to O.J. Howard’s season-ending injury and will get more attention from Tom Brady than Giselle gets if Evans misses the game (along with WR Chris Godwin).

Brate has been a fantasy zero this year due to other talented tight ends being ahead of him on the depth chart, but this is a guy who scored 20 touchdowns between 2016 and 2018. Brate will have to split targets at TE with Rob Gronkowski, but Gronk’s presence did not hurt Howard this season and should not affect Brate, either. Brate is a touchdown-dependent player, but he could certainly get a TD against a Chicago Bears Defense that has allowed three tight ends to find the end zone over their first four games.     

If New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (ankle) or Los Angeles’ Mike Williams (hamstring) does not play Monday night, you could go with…

Jalen Guyton (LAC, WR) at NOR

There is nothing worse than having a key cog in your fantasy squad listed as questionable heading into a Monday night game because there is no safety net. New Orleans wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith are probably rostered already in most leagues, so grabbing Guyton and praying rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert can put the ball into his hands seems like your best option.

Guyton is an undrafted rookie who is a distant third on L.A.’s WR totem pole behind Keenan Allen and Williams. The good news for Guyton, though, is that Williams is always injured, and that is the case again this week. Guyton only has seven targets in four games this year, yet he has two touchdowns including a 72-yarder last week. Allen eats up all the targets, so do not expect Guyton to have a seven-catch game on Monday night. But with New Orleans’ cornerbacks hurting, Guyton will have a chance to make a big play or two that could result in major fantasy points.

If San Francisco’s Raheem Mostert (knee) does not suit up on Sunday, you could go with…

Rex Burkhead (NE, RB) vs. DEN

Burkhead just had a three-TD performance two games ago, yet he is available in more than half of leagues because New England’s running-back-by-committee never allows him to have more than a dozen touches in a game, especially now that Damien Harris returned from injury and ran for 100 yards in his opening game of the season.

Burkhead is still the best all-around back in New England’s backfield. Harris a better pure runner, James White is a better pure receiver, but Burkhead can play on all downs and has the best nose for the end zone out of the trio. Denver has a middle-of-the-road run defense and has an offense that will gift the Patriots offense field position all game long. Burkhead is no long-term solution in fantasy football, but he is a solid stopgap option, especially this week.

If Atlanta’s Julio Jones (hamstring) cannot limp out onto the field on Sunday, you could go with…

Zach Pascal (IND, WR) at CLE

Pascal is no pipsqueak (6’2”, 214) and is also not a speedster (12.9 career YPC). He is also not Aaron Jones when it comes to getting his body into the end zone (eight touchdowns in 36 career contests). What Pascal is, however, thanks to untimely injuries to others, is the No. 2 WR in Indy --- if not the No. 1 WR.

Philip Rivers has had an interesting way of distributing the football this season. Most notably he has not been solely focused on longtime top target T.Y. Hilton and has aimed for Pascal the second-most of any of the Colts pass catchers. Pascal will run routes this week against a Cleveland pass defense that is ranked 30th in the NFL and just allowed Dallas gunslinger Dak Prescott to throw for about 1,000 yards last weekend. Pascal is not going to blow the fantasy doors off this week, but he could catch 6-to-8 passes for 75 yards and a score.



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Top IDP Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5

Here we are again, tumbling into another week of our Rotoballer IDP Waiver column. As you are likely aware by now, we will typically begin this column with a hilarious joke that makes our biggest fan Trevor fall out of his seat laughing. Then we usually move onto a recap of the injuries and any significant IDP news that informs our Week 5 waiver priorities. This week we will diverge just slightly from this formula, however.

Sorry Trevor, but I know you’ll manage since you aren’t real.

Instead of our usual hilarious and brilliant intro this week, we will begin our waiver column with a very special segment I like to call: Berating You Softly.  The way this will work is I will list a few fantasy superstars who are wildly under-rostered in IDP leagues.

 

Intro

With each of these under-rostered players, I will politely address the fantasy managers who fail to roster them and explain what they need to do to fix the problem. Sounds simple enough, huh? So let’s get started!

  1. Myles Garrett (Available in 53.8% of ESPN leagues and 42% of Yahoo leagues): 53.8% of IDP managers on ESPN are idiots. 42% of IDP managers on Yahoo are idiots. Pick him up, idiots! There, analysis done. You’re welcome, my adoring fans.
  2. Jamal Adams (Available in 47% of ESPN leagues and 49% of Yahoo leagues): The only situation in which Adams should be on waivers is if your league doesn’t use DBs, or if your scoring and roster setup seriously discourages the use of DBs. If you’re in a league like that, leave it immediately and start a better one. On your way out, consider sending a hateful letter to the commissioner of that league. Use expletives in your letter, while you’re at it. Get colorful with it. After all, fantasy football is supposed to be fun, right?
  3. Budda Baker (Available in 44% of ESPN leagues and 53% of Yahoo leagues): See my comments on Jamal Adams, and repeat them here. All IDP leagues should value players like Baker, Adams, and Garrett. Any IDP league in which superstars like Budda Baker and Myles Garrett are considered droppable should not exist, whether they are injured for a few weeks or not. Just ask Trevor!

There, wasn't that fun? And it was kind of nice for me to be able to sit down and have a constructive conversation with you, too. Hopefully, we can continue our polite and civil discourse on a social media outlet that encourages the free exchange of ideas and discourages hateful attacks on one another. Places like that still exist, right? And if they do, me calling you idiots won’t get banned from those places… will it?

Thus concludes our first edition of Berating You Softly. Thanks for reading, if you did!

If you skipped all of that and are just looking for waiver adds, it is on to our waiver rankings for Week 5!

 

IDP Settings

As a reminder, we will use the following IDP designations/league settings for our FAAB recommendations:

  • Standard Scoring Leagues: This system usually rewards 1-point per tackle, 3-points per sack, 4-points per turnover, and sometimes offers 2-points for a tackle for loss (TFL) or pass deflection (PD). Standard leagues also usually only start one DL, LB, and DB, respectively. You will always prioritize your FAAB budget towards offensive players in Standard Scoring IDP leagues, though you shouldn't underestimate the value of adding a great defender in them.
  • Defense Premium Leagues: Defense Premium leagues tend to try to make defensive players worth as much as offensive players. Commissioners often accomplish this by rewarding 2-points per tackle, 3-points for TFL or PDs, 4-points per sack, and 6-points per turnover. In these leagues, you don't necessarily prioritize offensive players on waivers. While it is a case-by-case analysis, defenders in these leagues can often be worth as much as most offensive waiver additions.
  • Deep Defense Leagues: These are leagues that have you start a full defense, or require you to start CBs and DTs, or they are leagues so deep (think 16 team leagues) that at least 32 players at each position (DL, LB, and DB) start every week.
  • Dynasty Leagues: This is self-explanatory to most. Dynasty leagues are those in which every player you draft/add is on your team until you trade or release him.

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let's get to this week's top adds! Remember that we will only address defenders who are rostered in less than 30% of IDP leagues on ESPN, Yahoo, or other prominent sites. We will also do our best to avoid obvious additions. While players like Myles Garrett are somehow rostered in only 31% of ESPN IDP leagues, we assume that anyone reading this material knows to add Garrett if they can.

 

1. Akiem Hicks, DL, Chicago Bears

Last year, the Chicago Bears' run defense was a completely different unit without Hicks on the field. They went from stuffing stars like Aaron Jones to letting opposing RBs run all over them once Hicks went down. That drop in production spoke volumes about how valuable Hicks is to the Bears’ overall defensive performance, but it didn’t speak to just how effective Hicks could be on the fantasy front.

This year, the 30-year-old veteran already has 3.5 sacks, seven TFLs, and 12 solo tackles. Hicks’ production isn’t a flash in the pan either, considering he has accumulated at least seven sacks, double-digit TFLs, and 50+ tackles in every healthy season he has played since 2016. Hicks should be rostered in all 12-team redraft leagues, as well as in all Deep Defense setups. He is also a worthy addition in deep Defense Premium leagues, but his age could keep him off many shallow dynasty rosters.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait Until Waivers Clear
Defense Premium FAAB: Wait
Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

2. Javon Kinlaw, DL, San Francisco 49ers

If you pick up Kinlaw, do so with an eye on the future and not on the immediate present. While Kinlaw is getting far more playing time on this 49ers front than was expected, thanks to injuries on the San Francisco defensive line, you’ll want to see him regularly close out sacks before you consider starting him in fantasy. Don’t be surprised if Kinlaw becomes a usable fantasy asset sooner than later, however.

With just four games under his belt, Kinlaw’s game is evolving at a surprising rate. While he came into 49ers’ camp as a raw bull rusher who struggled in one-on-one drills, the past two weeks have seen the rookie effectively utilizing pass rush moves that he didn’t have in August. It is truly impressive to see this highly drafted rookie learning and executing new maneuvers so quickly, seeing as many with his physical skills and pedigree don’t even bother to develop their technique. While Kinlaw only has eight pressures to his name (two per game) so far, he is evolving quickly. Do not be surprised if he soon turns pressures into sacks. Add him now in Deep Defense leagues if available, in dynasties, and in leagues that require multiple DT starters.

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%
Dynasty: 2%

3. Trevon Diggs, DB, Dallas Cowboys

Remember that the fantasy CB position is one of the most counterintuitive in all of fantasy sports. The best NFL corners rarely make good fantasy CBs, because opportunity is king in fantasy and shutdown corners get very few of those. Meanwhile, average or young corners often make good fantasy CBs because they are targeted frequently, giving them ample chances at tackles and turnovers.

While the jury is still out on whether Diggs is a good NFL cornerback, he is definitely proving to be a valuable fantasy CB right now. He has a 100% snap share so far, despite being a rookie, and he should continue to be targeted by opponents looking to keep up with the Cowboys’ high-powered offense. The former Alabama defender is averaging over five solo-tackles a game and has forced a turnover in two of his first four games, and it isn’t unreasonable to expect that production to continue. Add him in leagues where a CB starter is required.

Deep Defense FAAB: 3%
Dynasty FAAB: 2%

4. Jeremy Chinn, DB/LB, Carolina Panthers

As exhausting as my love for Chinn can be, he is still rostered in less than 20% of IDP leagues, so he is still on this list. He leads his team in both total tackles and solos, plus his experience as a college cornerback suggests he could pick up some turnovers someday soon. He should be considered a DB starter with a high floor in all formats that value tackles.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 3%
Defense Premium FAAB: 3%
Deep Defense FAAB: 7%
Dynasty: 6%

5. Anthony Walker, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Walker was another member of our pre-season IDP sleeper column, and he was a top-100 defender for me as far back as May. He has historically been a steady contributor in the tackles department, and he cleaned up when Darius Leonard left the game in Week 4. If Leonard cannot go in Week 5, Walker is an easy spot-starter for fantasy managers looking to replace Leonard for a week or two. He is also worth rostering long-term in Deep Defense leagues if he is available.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait
Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

6. Kyzir White, LB, Los Angeles Chargers

Now that he is getting starter minutes, this little known defender is tied for 12th in the NFL in solo tackles through four games (three starts). He also has three TFLs and a PD in that time, which isn't significant, but it adds some additional value in leagues that reward points for those stats. He is well worth a waiver pickup in Deep Defense leagues and 16-team IDP setups.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait
Defense Premium FAAB: Wait

7. Josey Jewell, LB, Denver Broncos

A former NFL Draft sleeper for me and many others, Jewell is having an excellent season now that he is a full-time and healthy starter. So far, he has 21 solos, two sacks, a PD, and three TFLs. He can continue that pace, even playing next to another fantasy-relevant ILB in Alexander Johnson. Jewell has value in Deep Defense leagues, as well as in 14-team Defense Premium setups. He is relatively young, so if you play in a deep dynasty, you can add him to your bench as well.

Defense Premium FAAB: 3%
Deep Defense FAAB: 2%
Dynasty: Wait

8. Mike Hilton, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers

In a secondary with big names like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden, it is Hilton who is picking up the fantasy slack early in the 2020 season. While Hilton is a nickel back, meaning he is on the field less than Fitzpatrick and Haden, he has still managed 11 solos, two sacks, three PDs, and two turnovers in three games. That production isn't out of line with his stats from 2018 and 2019, either.

While Hilton obviously won’t continue his 11 sack pace, it won’t be at all surprising if Pittsburgh blitzes him enough to add four more sacks by the end of the year. Opposing offenses are keying on the Steelers’ defensive stars (T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree in particular), and Hilton has the skills to take advantage of that. Also worth noting is that Hilton has already had his bye, so having him as your starting CB (or DB in deep leagues) gives you slight roster flexibility that others may not. He is worth adding in Deep Defense setups, leagues that require you to start a CB, and in 12-team Defense Premium leagues.

Defense Premium FAAB: 2%
Deep Defense FAAB: 3%



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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 4

We have officially made it to Week 4 and the NFL is rewarding us with a Jets-Broncos Thursday Night contest. Unfortunately, this does not jump off the page as a fantasy frenzy like the last few. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any fantasy points to be had. 

Last week many outstanding fantasy performances were overshadowed by fantastic real-life football matchups. With games like Bills-Rams, Titans-Vikings, Cowboys-Seahawks, and Packers-Saints just to name a few. Even if you lost your fantasy week, as football fans, I think we all won. 

Although Week 4 doesn’t appear to have the heavy-hitting matchups we saw last week, it certainly has a lot of great matchups for fantasy football. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to start on Thursday. Potentially with the Jets’ Head Coaching job on the line, I try to shine a light on the Brett Rypien-Sam Darnold extravaganza. Here is your RotoBaller Thursday Night Preview for week four.

 

Quarterbacks

Broncos

“I would be surprised if they didn't name Jeff Driskel the starter for Thursday.” That was how I opened this section when I began writing Monday. Lo and behold, I was surprised on Tuesday when Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio named their ninth starting quarterback since winning SuperBowl 50. 

I’ll be honest, to start this section I had to google Brett Rypien and read his Wikipedia page. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by his story as well as his film. Here is what I found. Canadian-American Brett Rypien is the nephew of former NFL QB, Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl Champion, Mark Rypien. Brett Rypien is also the cousin-once-removed from NHL enforcer Rick Rypien, as well as the nephew of BC Lions assistant Chris Torney. With that lineage, to say athletic prowess runs is his blood is an understatement. Before the Broncos signed the 2019 undrafted free agent, Rypien was planning on gaining Canadian citizenship and trying out for the CFL. Obviously, these plans quickly changed and instead, we get to watch this man lead the Broncos on Thursday night football. 

So what does this mean for his fantasy outlook? Well, coming out of college he was known for his clean release and ability to use his whole body to create velocity in his throws. He was also praised for delivering “catchable passes” despite not having pinpoint accuracy. The Broncos have spoken quite highly of the 24-year-old, specifically highlighting his football IQ and ability to understand the game. Overall, his outlook from college and the 2019 NFL preseason was very steady. What we saw in his NFL debut, was kind of a mixed bag. He began his career 8/8 for 53 yards on a nice drive into the RedZone. However, this was also paired with the Broncos recovering his fumble and two plays later, a red-zone interception. Personally, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt as the Buccaneers' defense is no joke. I suspect that if the drive ended in a field goal and not an interception, we would be looking at it as a successful debut drive. I am hoping he will be able to dink-and-dunk his way through the game against a terrible Jets’ defense, ideally being able to support some weapons for fantasy.

Jets

Sam Darnold has yet to crack 12 fantasy points this season and finish inside the top 26 quarterbacks on a week. Gross. However, much like the Broncos, he has faced some tough defenses, the Bills, the 49ers, and the Colts. The Broncos continue to have a solid defense, but it doesn’t even come close to comparing to these previous three matchups. Darnold did show some promise last game, with a fantastic scramble to hit Braxton Berrios for a touchdown, but also demonstrated that he needs help BADLY. With Jamieson Crowder, Le’Veon Bell, and even Brashad Perriman missing the last few games he has not had a lot to work with. Even if Crowder AND Perriman come back this week (which isn’t promising) I would not be playing Darnold anywhere. 

 

Wide Receivers

Broncos

Without Courtland Sutton in the picture, this is really where I should be talking about Noah Fant. However, that comes later and we get the pleasure of talking about rookie sensation Jerry Jeudy and his friends. I feel like that is a very descriptive way of breaking down this receiving core. Jeudy has been fantastic as a rookie, racking up over 50 yards and seven or more targets in each matchup. With his nine targets last game, and the yardage being there, he has a very clear floor. If Rypien can take advantage of Jeudy’s route running to separate from the Jets’ corners, he is an interesting flex player in deep leagues.

Over the last two weeks, the next most productive receiver has been the other rookie, KJ Hamler. This has been a very pleasant surprise for anyone who grabbed the speedster late in dynasty rookie drafts. He has the second-most targets over the last two weeks at the receiver (12) and has caught six of them for 78 yards. Where things get confusing is that last week, Tim Patrick caught the only touchdown. Patrick also has six catches (on 10 targets) over the last two weeks for 67 yards. Of the two I lean Patrick, however, I would really hope none of you are looking at starting either in your line-ups this week.

Jets

As of this writing I have not seen any news on the injury status of Jamison Crowder (Hamstring) or Breshad Perriman (Ankle) for Week 4. With the quick turnaround, I do not believe either will be suiting up, however, if news breaks, here is what I would do. Firstly, I would move Perriman out of my IR spot and place him comfortably on my bench, where I would leave him for this week. As for Crowder, the one week we have seen was monstrous, collecting seven receptions on 13 targets for 115 yards and a touchdown. If Crowder is to play, I would view him as a solid flex play in any PPR format, as his involvement and lack of competition for targets should land him in the top 24. However, this may differ depending on how optimistic the injury news is. If you have any doubt, I would wait for another week.

To put this next bit in perspective, after only one game, Crowder is currently the Jets’ second-most targeted receiver behind Chris Hogan and has the second-most fantasy points behind Braxton Berrios at the position. Third-year receiver Berrios from the University of Miami was drafted in 2018 as the 210th overall pick by the New England Patriots. Since losing both Perriman and Crowder, Berrios has “stepped up” as the lead receiver. Over the last two games, he has led them in targets (12), receptions (10), yards (83), and touchdowns (2). If you are playing any receiver here not named Crowder, Berrios is your guy. Chris Hogan is the other name I will bring up as he is the target leader but also failed to catch any of his three looks last game. The only fantasy option here is potentially Crowder, but if you want to live on the edge and Crowder is out, Berrios is the guy for you. 

 

Running Backs

Broncos

Finally, a familiar name, doing familiar things, we get to talk about Melvin Gordon. With Rypien under center, they should rely heavily on the ground game, setting up Gordon for a big game. Averaging 14 carries a game, four targets, 58 rushing yards, 11 receiving yards, and 0.33 touchdowns a week so far, Gordon is THE guy in this backfield. Remember, two of his three games are against the Buccaneers and the Steelers (who held Saquon to 0.4 yards per carry Week 1). The next leading rusher is Royce Freeman with a total of six rushes. Gordon might be the safest play in this entire matchup, especially if Phillip Lindsay (toe) is unable to go. As of right now, he is looking like he will be out, and if he does play, he will be limited.

First of all, this means DO NOT START LINDSAY. Second, it guarantees that this will be Melvin Gordon’s game against a defense who has been torched by the running back position. The Jets’ are averaging 133 rushing yards against this season. Given that Freeman has six carries on the year if the Broncos are to get anywhere close to this average, Gordon will have a DAY. The Pie Shop* should be open this week for Gordon, and I would start him with confidence as an RB-two. These expectations may need to be tempered a bit if Lindsay is available, however, it shouldn’t stop you from playing him with confidence.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (usually used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week.

Jets

I am absolutely delighted to be able to discuss the living legend, Frank Gore. As tempted as I am to copy and paste an outlook for him from 15 years ago, I’ll have to do my own analysis. Gore is incredible, and thanks to Bell’s injury, he is leading the charge for this Jets team. Over the last two games, Gore has rumbled for an average of 60 yards per game against the tough defenses of San Francisco and Indianapolis. Plus, neither of these game-scripts have been positive, in fact, they have been the farthest thing from positive for a ground and pound back like Gore.

Now, Gore goes up against a defense that has allowed an average of 102 yards this season, in what should be a competitive game Thursday. Denver did hold the Tampa Backfield to a mere 68 yards last week, but with Gore’s volume and previous “success” against tough defenses, he should be a great scapegoat for any zero-RB or very injury-plagued teams.

 

Tight Ends

Broncos

Noah Fant has started his second season very nicely, collecting over 100 yards and two touchdowns so far. Last week, he tied his career-high of 10 targets. Although he only caught in five of them, that volume alone should make him a starter in most leagues, especially with the injuries and underwhelming performances of the “upper” tier. Well, that was his outlook based on the season so far.

With Rypien under center, we can only hope the volume will be there, however, in his one drive he did not target Fant. Take that with a grain of salt since it was only one drive. Fant is a great athlete that can always break a big play, and the Jets might be the perfect matchup for him to do that. If you think Rypien can move the offense, start him, and watch an emerging tight end talent prove why he was worthy of the 20th overall selection in the 2019 draft.

Jets

Chris Herndon. Let’s put it this way, I did not save the best for last. A popular breakout candidate for each of the last two seasons has been seriously underwhelming. Whether you want to blame this on Head Coach Adam Gase or the team as a whole, there probably won’t be a better time for Herndon to breakout since both Crowder and Perriman have been out. Unfortunately, he has failed to do just that.

The good news is that he is leading the position for his team in receptions, targets, yards, and even fumbles. The bad news is that no other tight end has caught a pass. Even with this monopoly of the catches, he only has 10 receptions on the season. From a real football standpoint, he has proven to be a solid run blocker, however, that means nothing for fantasy. It might be time to cut ties with the young tight end if you haven’t already done so. 

 

Last week’s picks did not work out. I take full responsibility, however, since I write these previews early in the week, I think D.J. Chark’s last-minute injury played a huge role in the Jaguars’ performance. Either way, the season is still young.

With Adam Gase’s job potentially on the line, it is easy to see the narrative where the team rallies behind their coach and pulls out the win. But I am not sure if the Jets’ can do this for Gase, they have just been that bad on both sides of the ball. As much as I want to cheer for a fellow Canadian (Brett Rypien's Dad is from Calgary, AB), I can't get myself to say the Broncos win this game. Give me the home team with a desperate head coach to take down an undrafted QB in his debut game. Here are my picks:

Jets +1.0 (1-2)

Under 40.0 (1-2)



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2020 Fantasy Football & NFL Rookies 2020 Fantasy Football Advice Editor Note Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Top IDP Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4

After watching countless shootouts in Week 3 of this cray-cray NFL season, and seeing two of our waiver targets from last week go down with an injury (Christian Kirksey & Emmanuel Moseley), I know what you're thinking. Why do we even bother drafting defenders? Clearly, defense doesn't matter in the NFL anymore. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons, right? If anything, defense is optional for NFL teams. So why shouldn't it be for fantasy players?

Wait… you mean you weren't thinking that? Was it just me? Oh… well, good. That means my job as "that idiot who talks too much about defense" is safe at Rotoballer for at least another week! I better make this thing count, before you start thinking the things I was thinking for you, huh? So let’s get to it!

 

IDP Settings

As a reminder, we will use the following IDP designations/league settings for our FAAB recommendations:

  • Standard Scoring Leagues: This system usually rewards 1-point per tackle, 3-points per sack, 4-points per turnover, and sometimes offers 2-points for a tackle for loss (TFL) or pass deflection (PD). Standard leagues also usually only start one DL, LB, and DB, respectively. You will always prioritize your FAAB budget towards offensive players in Standard Scoring IDP leagues, though you shouldn't underestimate the value of adding a great defender in them.
  • Defense Premium Leagues: Defense Premium leagues tend to try to make defensive players worth as much as offensive players. Commissioners often accomplish this by rewarding 2-points per tackle, 3-points for TFL or PDs, 4-points per sack, and 6-points per turnover. In these leagues, you don't necessarily prioritize offensive players on waivers. While it is a case-by-case analysis, defenders in these leagues can often be worth as much as most offensive waiver additions.
  • Deep Defense Leagues: These are leagues that have you start a full defense, or require you to start CBs and DTs, or they are leagues so deep (think 16 team leagues) that at least 32 players at each position (DL, LB, and DB) start every week.
  • Dynasty Leagues: This is self-explanatory to most. Dynasty leagues are those in which every player you draft/add is on your team until you trade or release him.

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let's get to this week's top adds! Remember that we will only address defenders who are rostered in less than 30% of IDP leagues on ESPN, Yahoo, or other prominent sites. We will also do our best to avoid obvious additions. While players like Myles Garrett are somehow rostered in only 31% of ESPN IDP leagues, we assume that anyone reading this material knows to add Garrett if they can.

 

1. Antoine Winfield Jr., DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I know you have heard me lecture on the merits of Jeremy Chinn to the point you’re sick of him and me. That said, I was even higher on Winfield Jr. coming out of this NFL Draft than I was Chinn. In fact, I had this son of a Viking ranked amongst my top-20 prospects in this class. Winfield Jr. was lower on my fantasy radar only because it was assumed he would need time transitioning into his role as a deep safety in the NFL, and that the lack of an offseason would hurt his immediate development. So far the Boston College product hasn’t needed any time to acclimate at all, however. He has logged at least six tackles and a big play (PD, sack, etc.) in every game this season. Winfield Jr. has the talent to continue this production, or exceed it, too. He is worth rostering in ALL formats and he will likely crack my top-ten DB list in Week 4.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 4%
Defense Premium FAAB: 4%
Deep Defense FAAB: 8%
Dynasty: 6%

 

2. Marcus Maye, DB, New York Jets

Maye was on our waiver column last week, but if you want me to stop talking about him then you have to roster him in more leagues! Right now, he is on only 20% of IDP rosters despite making 25 tackles, two sacks, three PDs, and forcing a fumble in just three games. He is proving himself a set-it-and-forget-it starter in even the shallowest of leagues. Hopefully, he will be added in enough leagues that you won't have to read about him next week.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 4%
Defense Premium FAAB: 6%
Deep Defense FAAB: 8%
Dynasty: 4%

 

3. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Tennessee Titans

Simmons has so much talent that the Titans used a top-20 draft pick on him, despite him tearing his ACL just two months before the Draft. The Titans didn't even know if Simmons would play during his rookie year, yet they still selected him 19th overall. That was a bold investment, and yet Simmons has paid near-immediate dividends in just 12 games as a pro. Simmons plays with the same tenacity and pass rush prowess as a young Chris Jones, and he repeatedly collapsed the pocket against the Vikings this past week. Expect Simmons to get home and finish more sacks as this season continues. He is likely already rostered in Deep Defense leagues and deep bench dynasties. If he is free in either of those formats, however, you should add him before his box score reflects his on field impact.

Deep Defense FAAB: 3%
Dynasty: 3%

 

4. Jeremy Chinn, DB/LB, Carolina Panthers

Another holdover from last week's column, but are you really surprised? I told you all summer, and last week, to roster this guy. Still, less than 7% of IDP managers have Chinn on their roster. He totaled 12 tackles this week, so hopefully that number goes up. I will continue to harass you about Chinn until he is rostered in at least 25% of IDP leagues.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 3%
Defense Premium FAAB: 3%
Deep Defense FAAB: 7%
Dynasty: 6%

 

5. Jon Bostic, LB, Washington Football Team

Bostic is having a quietly steady season in Washington so far, no doubt aided by the fact he plays behind a terrifically talented defensive line. Bostic has not registered less than seven tackles this season, and on top of that he has registered a TFL in every game. While it may be easy to write off Bostic's stats so far as a hot start out of line with his career production, remember that Bostic logged over 100 tackles in his first season with Washington last year. Plus, he has never played behind Chase Young before. If Young can return healthy soon, Bostic has an excellent chance of continuing his fantasy starter pace behind this defensive line. He is worth adding in all redraft leagues that start two LBs per team. His age (29 years old) makes him less attractive in dynasty setups, though.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Add After Waivers Clear (aka Wait)
Deep Defense FAAB: 2%

 

6. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Arizona Cardinals

Simmons being on this list may not make much sense to those who actually read my articles. Simmons has always been a worthy dynasty asset, but we have been fading him in redraft leagues because of Arizona’s crowded LB room. His fantasy fade may end soon, however. Rumors out of Arizona (per Josh Alper at NBC Sports) are that the Cardinals could try Simmons at Safety sometime soon, which I have been actively hoping for, thanks to injuries to starting safeties Budda Baker and Chris Banjo. Simmons got experience playing Safety in college, and he has the athleticism to rack up similar stats to Baker's if he is playing at the back end of this defense. Simmons is worth a speculative add in pretty much all IDP leagues, except for Standard leagues with a shallow bench.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait
Defense Premium FAAB: Wait
Deep Defense FAAB: 2%
Dynasty: 3%

 

7. Yannick Ngakoue, DL, Minnesota Vikings

Lost in just how bad the Vikings' defense has been is Ngakoue's two straight games with a strip-sack. These sacks have come with zero help from the secondary, nor from Ngakoue's defensive linemates. The former Jaguar has a history of notching strip-sacks throughout his career, and it is encouraging that his last two were against good offensive lines. When Danielle Hunter returns, Ngakoue could see less offensive attention and benefit from quarterbacks flushing towards his side and away from Hunter. Ngakoue is young enough (25 years old) and talented enough to merit stashing in all leagues. Though he is rostered in less than 12% of IDP leagues, he is likely available only in Standard and shallow Defense Premium leagues. Add him to your bench in most IDP leagues, but feel free to start him immediately if you can get him in a Deep Defense setup.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait
Defense Premium FAAB: 2%
Deep Defense FAAB: 3%
Dynasty: Wait

 

8. Cameron Jordan, DL, New Orleans Saints

Yes, we have faded Jordan for the past few weeks due to some tough matchups overall. He has lived down to those expectations so far, too. Jordan is still a talented player on a good defense, however, and right now, he is rostered in less than 17% of IDP leagues. That is low for a player who has finished as a consistent top-ten defensive lineman in numerous IDP formats over the years. Consider buying low on him in redraft leagues and playing him when he has better matchups than he had in Week 3.

Standard Scoring FAAB: Wait
Defense Premium FAAB: Wait
Deep Defense FAAB: 2%



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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 3

Congratulations everyone, we have made it through what should be the toughest injury week of the season *viciously knocks on wood*. Last week hurt many fantasy teams, however, we are only two weeks into the season and the end is nowhere in sight.

So with that, there are 14 weeks of football left to go. Fantasy managers know better than anyone how the season can change on a dime and is a marathon, not a sprint. There is plenty of time to recover and adapt to these new challenges from last week. 

This week more than ever, it will be crucial to start your week off with success.  Thankfully, the NFL is providing us with another great Thursday Matchup as Miami is traveling to Jacksonville to take on the surprising Jaguars. On paper, these teams might initially trigger a gag reflex for many football fans. However, this year, the matchup features two of the NFL’s best personalities going against wildly mediocre defenses. To help move on from the fantasy fatalities of last week, I am bringing you the Thursday Night Football preview for RotoBaller.

 

Quarterbacks

Jaguars

Gardner Minshew. I don’t know where to start. From his iconic personality to his quality football play, this season has quickly silenced any offseason doubt. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical that a sixth-round QB would work out. Usually, that is the case, but some guys just have IT and it appears Minshew is one of them. After the first two weeks, Minshew is the QB11 in four-point passing touchdown leagues. This ranking does not do his performances justice, as in these games they have upset the Colts and brought last year’s AFC’s finalist to the wire. Having a 91% completion rate on the season and passing for three touchdowns in each game shows he has a great fantasy floor.

Last week, Minshew did have a few turnovers, however, they were primarily a result of fighting to keep his team in the game and should not make any managers worry. This game offers a matchup where the Jaguars can dominate and win, further inspiring the team’s confidence. Thankfully, the Jaguars can dominate and still stay pass-happy due to the magical one on the other side of the ball.  While I do not believe Minshew has top-five potential on the week, he has proven himself to be steady and reliable for fantasy. He is an autostart in two QB leagues and should be started in most single QB leagues as well. He’s a hard guy not to like, and I’m sure he’ll put on a show in primetime this week.

Dolphins

Ryan Fitzpatrick is still around and fantasy relevant. The often-overlooked Fitzmagic has been very solid for fantasy for multiple weeks now. Going back to last season, Fitzpatrick has two games in the last eight games under 20 fantasy points. Arguably more impressive is that in that eight-game span, he has averaged 1.9 passing touchdowns and has passed for at least 245 yards in all but two of those games. It may not be pretty, but Fitzpatrick has a very steady fantasy floor.

In a game where Jacksonville will look to dominate Miami’s miserable defense, the game script should be in Fitzpatrick’s favor. The defensive matchups on both sides of the ball should allow for top-16 performances for both Minshew and Fitzpatrick. The biggest difference between the two is that Fitzpatrick, although riskier, has a ceiling of a top-five fantasy finish on the week. 

 

Wide Receivers

Jaguars

Minshew’s resurgence has brought some new fantasy names to the table. DJ Chark is the clear WR-one and has looked the part by making dominant catches. Unfortunately, Minshew has been spreading the ball and not giving Chark the volume for huge games. In the two games so far, Chark has caught all seven of his targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. In this matchup where I believe Fitzpatrick will keep the dolphins in the game, Chark should be locked in as a WR-two but will need more volume to get back to the big numbers he posted last year.

Who would have thought there would be more receivers in Jacksonville to talk about? Minshew has been spreading the ball around, creating the emergence of Laviska Shenault and the reemergence of Keelan Cole. On the season Cole is the WR16 and Shenault is the WR31. In comparison, Chark is the WR33. Although Chark has proven to be the guy, this is not Cole’s first time being fantasy relevant. In his rookie campaign, Cole displayed his ability with Blake Bortles, putting up four consecutive double-digit fantasy games. Since then Cole has been uninspiring but has seemed to have clicked with Minshew. Shenault is off to a very productive rookie season, catching six of his eight targets for 72 yards and a touchdown. However, I would not be looking to start him in any format, even in this juicy matchup.

Chark should be locked into most fantasy line-ups, however, I really like Keelan Cole to keep the ball rolling in this matchup. I’m not saying to start him over Chark, but if injuries left you scouring the wire, he might be the gem available in most leagues that can be plugged into your flex. 

 

Dolphins

Much like Fitzpatrick, the wide receivers have been flying relatively under the radar for fantasy. Although DeVante Parker has come down to earth a little, he has proved that his breakout last season was not a fluke. Parker has been fairly productive, racking up nine catches on 12 targets for 100 yards and a touchdown. Since the Dolphins’  first week of the season got out of hand quickly, it was very inspiring to see Parker with 8 targets and a touchdown last week. He is the undisputed WR1 on the team, and in a game where Fitzpatrick should be playing from behind, the volume should be there for Parker to have a big day. 

After tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Preston Williams has begun to find his footing on the NFL field. Although he passes the eye test, what worries me is that he only has a 25% catch rate so far this season. Fitzpatrick may not be the most accurate QB, but he is definitely better than that. The positives, however, is that he is tied with Parker in targets this season (12) and thankfully, in both games, Williams has averaged over 20 yards per catch. With this volume and athletic ability, he is always a threat for a big play. This matchup could be perfect for him to have a big game, however, I would not bank on that and would avoid him in fantasy for this week. 

Of the receivers in this game, I would rank them Parker, Chark, Cole, Williams, and Shenault. 

 

Running Backs

Jaguars

Who would have thought we would be talking about James Robinson this year? A twenty-two-year-old, undrafted free agent and Illinois State Alumni has made a name for himself in the football community. Last week, he broke out for 102 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, along with three catches for 18 yards against a stingy Tennessee Titans Defense. What is most impressive to me, is not just his production, but how the team is using him. Robinson has 16 rushing attempts in both games and got some receiving work last game logging four targets. The increase in targets I find especially interesting, as Chris Thompson is a pass-catching specialist, and still, the team trusted Robinson with a few targets. Give any running back 16 rushing attempts and four targets against the Miami defense and you’ll have yourself an RB2. Robinson fits that bill and also has a good chance at finding the paydirt which could possibly boost him to a high-end RB2 on the week. Plug him into your lineups with confidence. 

Chris Thompson came back last week with two carries for seven yards and three catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. I’ll admit, going into the season I was very optimistic about Thompson’s usage. However, Robinson has been taking too much work away with virtually all the rushing work and one less target than Thompson on the year. I would not start Thompson in any format, including full PPR.

Dolphins

I know many of you will want to skip this section, however, I’m going to do my best to make this interesting. The Dolphins are the only team in the league to have three running backs with double-digit rushing attempts through the first two weeks. Yikes. This is not the kind of usage fantasy owners want to see when choosing who to play each week.

Going into the season, many people believed that Jordan Howard was going to be the lead back for this team. These people were correct if they were talking about red-zone work. Howard is the only back on the team to score a touchdown, making it clear he is the goal-line guy. To go along with his two touchdowns Howard has a 0.8 yards per carrying on 13 attempts. You can not rely on these touchdowns and he should be benched, if not dropped, in most leagues. The next predicted running back was Matt Breida. Breida has an impressive 4.9 yards per carrying, however, he only has 12 carries, two targets, and a fumble on the season. Please don’t play him.

I never thought I would be looking forward to discussing Myles Gaskin, but here we are. The clear lead back for this team has surprised many with his production over the first two weeks against very tough defenses. Gaskin has piled up 86 yards with a 5.4ypc along with 10 catches on 11 targets for 62 yards. The receiving work is great, as this is a team that should be down a lot and will be looking to pass. This week looks no different and Gaskin should continue to be “heavily” involved compared to the other backs. Gaskin should be a low-end RB-three this week, however, he might be worth a hold on your bench if the coaching staff is smart and starts to give him a bigger slice of the pie. 

 

Tight Ends

Jaguars

Last week I referenced Tyler Eifert’s 13 touchdown year in 2015 when discussing CJ Uzomah. This week I get to reference it again, only with Tyler Eifert himself. Over the offseason, there was chatter that Minshew had a rapport with the tight end, and we got to see some of it last week. Eifert finished the game with three catches on six targets for 36 yards and a touchdown. I would not be looking to play Eifert in any format, however, if he has another 6+ target game I’d start looking at him as a potential streaming option.

Dolphins

The popular breakout prediction of Mike Gesicki has so far been paid in spades. Through two weeks he has 11 receptions on 16 targets for 160 yards and a touchdown. He is the TE6 on the season, and this matchup should continue to provide the volume he needs to succeed. I would be happy starting him in most leagues, as I have him ranked as the TE8 on the week.

This rank is over Jonnu Smith and the tough matchups of both Noah Fant and Hayden Hurst. The best part about Gesicki is that Fitzpatrick provides him with the potential of finishing as the best tight end on any given week. 

 

Last week, I rebounded with both my picks coming through as the Bengals covered the spread and the over hit. This week, I look to do the same in a matchup where the lines seem fairly generous. Neither of these teams has the defensive ability to stifle one another, which should prepare us for another high scoring Thursday Nighter.

This is the first matchup where Miami could possibly win (the Patriots and the Bills are both very good teams), however, Jacksonville has played far superior teams a lot closer these previous two weeks. With this in mind, here are my picks of the week.

Jaguars -3 (1-1)

Over 48.0 (1-1)



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Top IDP Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 3

For that fan who requested it (we're looking at you, Trevor in Lubbock), Rotoballer finally has a weekly IDP waiver column! Trevor is going to be psyched! But hopefully, this column reaches more than just Trevor since he doesn't actually exist. Heck, let's hope this even helps a few people!

If you're active in IDP, you know that not all IDP leagues have the same roster and scoring settings. In fact, IDP leagues are famous for their customizability. This high degree of variation in IDP scoring can result in different fantasy defenders having wildly different fantasy values, depending on your league scoring and setup, however. Just like playing in a PPR league may raise James White's value higher than it would be in Non-PPR scoring, certain IDP defenders hold different values depending on your league scoring and setup.

For that reason, Rotoballer's weekly IDP waiver column will offer custom FAAB recommendations for various IDP setups. Each week we will pick our waiver wire players to add, list which IDP formats you should add them in, and tell you how much FAAB you should offer for them.

 

IDP Settings

For our purposes, we will use the following designations/league settings for our FAAB recommendations:

  • Standard Scoring Leagues: This system usually rewards 1-point per tackle, 3-points per sack, 4-points per turnover, and sometimes offers 2-points for a tackle for loss (TFL) or pass deflection (PD). Standard leagues also usually only start one DL, LB, and DB, respectively. You will always prioritize your FAAB budget towards offensive players in Standard Scoring IDP leagues, though you shouldn't underestimate the value of adding a great defender in them.
  • Defense Premium Leagues: Defense Premium leagues tend to try to make defensive players worth as much as offensive players. Commissioners often accomplish this by rewarding 2-points per tackle, 3-points for TFL or PDs, 4-points per sack, and 6-points per turnover. In these leagues, you don't necessarily prioritize offensive players on waivers. While it is a case-by-case analysis, defenders in these leagues can often be worth as much as most offensive waiver additions.
  • Deep Defense Leagues: These are leagues that have you start a full defense, or require you to start CBs and DTs, or they are leagues so deep (think 16 team leagues) that at least 32 players at each position (DL, LB, and DB) start every week.
  • Dynasty Leagues: This is self-explanatory to most. Dynasty leagues are those in which every player you draft/add is on your team until you trade or release him.

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let's get to this week's top adds! Remember that we will only address defenders who are rostered in less than 30% of IDP leagues on ESPN, Yahoo, or other prominent sites. We will also do our best to avoid obvious additions. While players like Myles Garrett are somehow rostered in only 31% of ESPN IDP leagues, we assume that anyone reading this material knows to add Garrett if they can.

 

1. Marcus Maye, New York Jets

Maye was an entry on our pre-season IDP sleepers list, picked as the most likely player to take over the beneficial role Jamal Adams filled in this Jets Defense. While Maye doesn't match Adams in talent, he is the best pure defender that the Jets have right now, and they will continue to utilize him all over the field as their primary playmaker.

It is astounding that his roster percentage in IDP leagues on ESPN is just 19% despite his quick start to the season. He sports a decent DB fantasy floor, thanks to his tackling ability, and a nice ceiling because of his heavy blitz usage. Maye should be rostered as a top-12 fantasy DB right now. While he is young enough to merit interest in dynasty leagues, his future fantasy potential will likely depend on how many defensive playmakers New York adds next offseason and beyond.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 5%
Defense Premium FAAB: 7%
Deep Defense FAAB: 8%
Dynasty: 5%

 

2. Christian Kirksey, Green Bay Packers

Kirksey is one of those guys who should be rostered in almost all IDP leagues at this point. He has taken over the valuable role that Blake Martinez vacated in the middle of Green Bay's defense, and he is playing it just as well, if not better than Martinez did. Kirksey has totaled 24 tackles (16 solo) in two games, and nine of the remaining games on his schedule are against teams who love to run the ball.

As long as this former Brown is healthy, he should provide you one of the better floors in Standard Scoring leagues. His tackle totals should be high enough that he is valuable even in shallow Defense Premium leagues, and he is young enough (just turned 28) that he merits dynasty consideration as well.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 4%
Defense Premium FAAB: 3%
Deep Defense FAAB: 6%
Dynasty: 1%

 

3. Patrick Queen, Baltimore Ravens

Queen has come out of the gates swinging to open his rookie year. He was always a terrific dynasty option, but he has hit his fantasy stride faster than most could have expected. The LSU product has 17 tackles (11 solo) in two games, plus a sack and an FF. That is terrific production for a rookie LB in both Standard Scoring and Defense Premium, especially considering he had little offseason work to acclimate himself to the pros.

His elite coverage skills, above-average ability to rush the passer and a well-established role in the middle of Baltimore's defense make him a better fantasy prospect than the more highly touted Isaiah Simmons right now.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 2%
Defense Premium FAAB: 4%
Deep Defense FAAB: 6%
Dynasty: 7%

 

4. Jeremy Chinn, Carolina Panthers

If you have read any of my IDP articles, you know I love Jeremy Chinn and have since before the NFL Draft. The Panthers are currently using Chinn as an LB, but he has DB eligibility on almost all fantasy platforms. That is insanely exciting… for Trevor and me! LBs pretty much always score more fantasy points than DBs overall, so having an LB who is DB eligible is a bit of a cheat code if the player is any good. Chinn is excellent, and he will continue to get better.

He is a priority add in dynasties, and he can start for you in all formats right now. If you play in a redraft league, however, he may hold more value in Standard Scoring than in Defense Premium thanks to his current usage as a tackler in the box rather than a deep safety who will collect PDs and picks.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 3%
Defense Premium FAAB: 3%
Deep Defense FAAB: 7%
Dynasty: 7%

 

5. Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers

Heyward isn't a sexy player, but he is consistent and has been for years. He has totaled more than 50 tackles and at least nine sacks in every healthy season he has had since 2014 except for one, and in that season, he totaled 12 sacks and 45 tackles. He gets lost on this talented Pitt defense, but he will continue to be a performer capable of contributing to your fantasy team in multiple ways.

He should be rostered in 12-team Standard Scoring leagues, as well as in all Deep Defense leagues. It is surprising to see he is rostered in less than 23% of leagues. If you need to replace Nick Bosa this year, Heyward should be one of your top options.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 4%
Deep Defense FAAB: 6%

 

6. Myles Jack, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jack was an elite NFL Draft prospect at one point, but he has yet to quite live up to his draft billing despite being a steady player for years. However, this season looks different so far. Through two games, he has 14 solo tackles, eight half-tackles, a sack, and PD. The Jaguars are more competitive than a lot of people were expecting, and this could lead to Jack continuing gis hot streak as he plays the run just as much as the pass, unlike in years past.

Jack is worth adding in deeper leagues and in Standard leagues based on the chance he continues this hot streak. Still, his age and lack of career consistency mean his dynasty value is lower than players like Queen, Kenneth Murray, and Isaiah Simmons.

Standard Scoring FAAB: 2%
Deep Defense FAAB: 4%

 

7.  Emmanuel Moseley, San Francisco 49ers

Another member of our pre-season sleepers list, Moseley, has put up very nice production from the CB position the first two weeks of this season. Rostered in just 15% of IDP leagues, Moseley has registered an impressive 17 tackles (11 solo) plus two PDs. Expect him to continue to be picked on by opposing offenses with Richard Sherman, Nick Bosa, and others out. That means more opportunities for tackles and PDs. He will be picked on even more when Sherman returns, too.

Moseley is worth rostering in Deep Defense leagues that force you to start a CB or two, though he isn't worth using FAAB on in setups other than that one.

Deep Defense FAAB: 4%

 

8. Harold Landry III, Tennessee Titans

Landry was an undersized end coming out of Boston College, but he landed 21.5 sacks in his final 20 collegiate games. It took some time for him to acclimate to the pro game, but at 24 years old, he should be rostered in dynasty and Deep Defense leagues. He is off to a bit of a slow start this year, but expect him to come close to the nine sacks he put up in his second pro season last year. He may not merit rostering in most redraft leagues just yet, but he should be on Dynasty and Deep Defense rosters

Deep Defense FAAB: 2%
Dynasty: 2%



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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 2

Finally, Week 1 of football is in the books. Going into the two Monday night games, 686 points were scored. In comparison, week one of the 2019 season had 678 points scored going into the Monday night games. Clearly, contrary to many predictions, the NFL teams didn’t seem to miss a beat with no preseason. Even more surprising was that the rookies seemed to walk right into the NFL and put up many fantasy-relevant performances. 

Last week on Thursday Night Football, the NFL graced us with a barn burner of a match, having Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes go head to head. As expected, Kansas City dominated the game and both teams were able to showcase their offensive prowess. This week, we have another great matchup for Thursday Night Football as the 0-1 Cincinnati Bengals are going to Cleveland to face the 0-1 Browns.

Both teams were unfortunately up against projected top-tier defenses in Week 1, making many of their offseason questions left unanswered. Thankfully, in a matchup where both defenses are projected to be in the bottom half of the league, these answers should be found on Thursday. Here is your RotoBaller Thursday night preview for Week 2.

 

Quarterbacks

Joe Burrow

“He got it. He got the sauce, he got the flavor, he got the confidence. I loved everything I saw from Joe Burrow.” - Nate Burleson on Joe Burrow after Week 1. Although coming short of the victory (which was not Burrow’s fault in the slightest), Joe Burrow demonstrated why he deserved to be the first player selected in the draft. Having said that, his debut performance did have a few mistakes, from an interception to holding onto the ball and taking a 14-yard sack. There were times where he just looked like a rookie.

However, when you consider Cincinnati's sub-par offensive line and the top tier defense he was up against, these mistakes are fairly minor. I believe all potential doubts and criticisms were silenced during the Bengals’ 2-minute drill to end the game. Burrow began the drive with a seven-yard QB draw followed by consecutive completions and overcoming both a penalty and an overturned completion. Regardless, Burrow was not deterred and continued the methodical drive. To end the drive, he threw a dime to A.J. Green in the endzone that was ruled offensive pass interference, resulting in Randy Bullock’s missed field goal to end the game. 

For fantasy purposes, what this drive showed was Burrow’s ability to put up fantasy points. After calling his own number for a 23-yard touchdown run and multiple QB draw attempts, the rushing upside revealed itself to be there. Finishing the game with 193 yards through the air, 46 yards on the ground, and a touchdown, one could only wonder the production he could have had against a weaker defense. On Thursday, he gets this chance against a defense that got torched for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the air last week. I would happily start Burrow in a two-QB league, as the matchup should give him a top-16 finish on the week. 

Baker Mayfield

A 38-6 Week 1 loss was not what fantasy players or Browns fans were hoping to see from a potential bounce-back year in Cleveland. Much like Burrow, some of the performance for Mayfield can be excused since Baltimore has one of the best defenses in the league. However, Mayfield did not show the confidence we have seen in the past. After throwing an interception on his first drive of the game, Baker failed to capitalize on some following chances, with his only touchdown to be on a very well designed play to a wide-open David Njoku. Ultimately, the Browns' offense was fueled by their run game with 138 of their 327 yards coming from the ground. Ultimately, this left Mayfield with limited production. Against a substantially worse defense in the Bengals this week, Baker has the opportunity and the weapons to display the bounce-back many of us hoped for. I would happily start Mayfield as a low-end QB1 in a match that should hit the over (spoiler alert).

 

Wide Receivers

Bengals

Many of the offseason wide receiver questions were answered in Week 1 and none more important than if Green can stay healthy for an entire game. Turns out he can. Not only that, but he was also clearly the top receiving option on his team with a 25% target share. Green finished with five receptions on nine targets for 51 yards, which led the team in all those categories. If Green can keep up his target share this week, he should be able to find himself as a high-end WR3 with potential WR2 upside.

Last week, in a game dominated by the defense, the little offensive production hurt all the pass catchers for the Bengals. The next best receiver was Tyler Boyd, who had 35 yards on four receptions. Although underwhelming, Boyd did display himself as the firm number two target on the team and was utilized as a safety blanket during the last drive of the game. This week, in a game that should have a better script for all offensive weapons, I would not be deterred to start Boyd as a high-end WR3.

As for the other weapons, Mike Thomas and John Ross each finished last week with 17 yards. Of the two, Ross holds the most upside with his elite speed and touchdown ability; however, I would not look to start either in any format this week. 

Browns

In one of the most talented receiving corps in the league, both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. look to rebound from last week. As expected, Odell was the clear number one option, finishing with a 26% target share. However, this was overshadowed by his lowly three receptions for 22 yards. Ouch. After watching the film, one thing that did strike me was that OBJ had a few very uncharacteristic drops. Probably the most obvious drop was on a key third down, where the ball went right off his mits and concluded the drive. 

Jarvis Landry, however, demonstrated his sure hands, catching five of his six targets for 61 yards. Quarterbacks such as Mayfield lean on receivers like Landry during short-yardage and third downs. Add this to Landry being the clear number two option, and it should leave him with a very safe floor and potential upside if he were to fall in the endzone. In fact, all receivers in this matchup I believe have very similar situations. Both Green and Beckham Jr. showcase the sheer volume and possess the talent to win your week. However, quarterback play leaves them in the high-end WR3 tier. Landry and Boyd being the clear twos on their team should give fantasy owners the floor of a very steady WR3. In a match where touchdowns may be plentiful, finding the pay dirt will determine which of these four receivers finishes highest. I would rank them as Green, Beckham Jr., Landry, and Boyd, and would not consider any other wide receivers on either team.

 

Running Backs

Bengals

Joe Mixon’s average draft position crept up to be the ninth RB off the board in standard redraft leagues. Nevertheless, Mixon’s 2020 debut was very underwhelming. He finished last week with a mediocre 3.6 yards per carry for 69 yards on the ground. Considering the lopsided matchup of what is the shaky Bengals O-line and the star-studded Chargers D-line, this is not the worst stat line. The good news though comes through his rushing attempts. Mixon finished with 19 rush attempts to Giovani Bernard’s one (which came on the last drive of the game). Mixon did have his first fumble in his last 621 rush attempts; however, the team went right back to giving him the rock. If the Bengals are running the ball, it’s going to be Mixon.

Unfortunately, Bernard does eat into the receiving work of Mixon, finishing with five targets to Mixon’s two. Although I would not start Bernard in any format, he does limit Mixon’s upside. Regardless, I would not be deterred based on last week’s performance. Off sheer volume, Mixon should finish with the floor of an RB2 and the ceiling of an RB1. I would start him in all formats. 

Browns

To me, the biggest surprise of the week was the Browns’ running back split. After Kareem Hunt signed a two-year extension last week, Nick Chubb owners were already uneasy. Add the fact that Hunt (13) had more rushing attempts than Chubb (10), and it might be time to sound the warning bells. Chubb is one of the best pure rushers in the NFL; however, so is Hunt. Hunt’s rushing yards title in 2017 is not to be forgotten. Both backs are elite and there was the narrative last week that the team may have punished Chubb by benching him after his fumble. Chubb should be the lead back in this offense; however, Hunt’s threat to Chubb’s fantasy value was very apparent last week. Not only did Hunt outrush Chubb, but Hunt also finished the week with six targets to Chubb’s one along with getting the first goal-line carry of the game for the Browns. Yikes.

This game script should be favorable for both backs, especially Chubb. The Browns are six-point favorites going into Thursday, meaning that they could get ahead early and let Chubb drain the clock. Both backs should be started in all formats; however, I would lean on Hunt over Chubb due to his overall involvement. Thursday night’s usage should definitely be under the microscope for all Hunt and Chubb owners. Was Week 1 a fluke? I’m leaning no, but we’ll find out soon.

 

Tight Ends

Bengals

The Bengals haven’t had a fantasy-relevant tight end since Tyler Eifert’s 13-touchdown 2015 season. In Week 1, there was hope that C.J. Uzomah might be fantasy-relevant as he was second on the team in receiving yards. Only behind A.J. Green, Uzomah caught four of his five targets for 45 yards. This does not give me the confidence to play him this week; however, if he has another productive week, I would be very interested, as he may be a sneaky low-end TE1 in 12+ team leagues. 

Browns

Almost as surprising as the Browns' running back usage was their tight end usage. Somehow, after being left for dead by many fantasy owners, David Njoku came up with one of the best tight end performances of the week so far. Finishing the week as the team’s second-leading receiver, Njoku caught all three of his targets for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Unfortunately, Njoku was put on the IR for a Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL) sprain and will be out for at least three weeks. Austin Hooper, on the other hand, caught both his targets for 15 yards. Neither of these stat lines gives me much confidence (if any) in their fantasy relevance for the rest of the season. With Njoku out for the next bit, maybe we’ll see Hooper take on a larger role. However, if Njoku’s involvement continues when he is back, there is a chance this becomes a Zach Ertz - Dallas Goedert split, only on a team that isn’t known to use tight ends. Therefore, if you are in a bind, you could play Hooper and hope that without Njoku he gets a larger role. However, I would rather sit him and wait to see the targets increase before rolling him out in my fantasy roster.

 

Last week, neither of my picks were correct as the Chiefs covered the spread and hit the under. I blame the latter on Bill O’Brien since if he didn’t go for two, the over would have hit. However, I’m looking to rebound in a game that has a lot more clarity than the Week 1 matchup. I think both these teams looked promising last week, as well as both defenses looking as bad as expected. With poor defenses and the amount of top tier talent on each side of the ball, we should be in for another barn burner.

The forecast is showing a 100% chance of fantasy point showers on Thursday night. As much as I think Burrow is going to be a top tier QB in this league, it is hard to bet on a rookie going against a team who has been waiting for a matchup like this to kickstart their bounce-back. I think Cleveland takes the win, however, the Bengals showed enough offensive power to stay in a game. So without further ado, here are my Week 2 Thursday Night football picks.

Bengals +6 (0-1)

Over 43.5 🔒 (0-1)



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