NFL Week 9 Running Back Sleeper Report

Tolbert is in line for good day against the Falcons run defense

Tolbert is in line for a good day against the Falcons run defense

Weeks 8 and 9 in the NFL this year may have more than a few fantasy owners scrambling to put out a legitimate lineup. Why? The dreaded bye week. While the bye week gives teams a chance to rest, there are no byes in fantasy. For the second week in a row, we will see six teams absent from the playing field.

Last week, owners of players such as Ray Rice, Brandon Marshall, Andrew Luck, Antonio Gates or even maybe he-who-shall-not-be-named (Chris Johnson) had to find someone else to replace them. This week will be no different. No Peyton Manning or Colin Kaepernick. No Larry Fitzgerald or Wes Welker. And of course no Andre Ellington, Frank Gore or Reggie Bush.

If you have one of those players and need a start in a pinch, or if you, like many other fantasy owners, are wondering if any potential flex option will somehow find consistency, here are a couple guys who should have a strong week.

Bilal Powell (NYJ)

No one in the Jets running game has lit the world on fire up to this point. Powell, while serviceable, has only one rushing TD on the year while his teammate, Chris Ivory, has averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.

However, the rushing attack for Gang Green does have a few factors in its favor this week against New Orleans. First, just because they haven’t been as successful as they would like to be on the ground, doesn’t mean they will abandon trying to be successful.

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been all over the map, mixing flashes of brilliance with head-scratching mistakes – a common occurrence for first-year starters. Because of that, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will still be hesitant to give Geno the keys to the car without supervision. He’ll want to establish some sort of running game, so that the West Virginia product doesn’t have to play catch-up with Drew Brees.

That could be easier than it first looks for Powell because of what New Orleans’ defense is bringing to the table. The Saints rank 20th in rushing defense and are giving up 4.8 yards per carry. It’s not all Drew Brees and the offense like it was last year when the defense gave up the most yards in the history of the NFL, but bringing in Rob Ryan and his crazy schemes can’t mask everything. They are still a below-average defense and Powell will have some room to run.

Mike Tolbert (CAR)

Tolbert only has 182 yards on the season through seven games and he’s banging away at a not-so-stellar 3.6 yards per carry. Furthermore, Carolina’s second option as a rusher to DeAngelo Williams will always be Cam Newton. That being said, Tolbert has been able to find the end zone five times already this season (3 rushing and 2 receiving scores)

The Panthers’ offense is finding its groove after a slow start, and this week they are up against the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta’s season has only gotten worse as the weeks continue to drag on. They are 2-5, have lost key weapons and aren’t playing very good defense. The Falcons’ defensive unit ranks 22nd overall, 22nd in rushing and is surrendering 4.6 yards per carry. There will certainly be some Superman sightings in Carolina this Sunday, but there should be plenty of scores to go around.

 

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NFL Week 9 Running Back Sleeper Report

Tolbert is in line for good day against the Falcons run defense

Tolbert is in line for a good day against the Falcons run defense

Weeks 8 and 9 in the NFL this year may have more than a few fantasy owners scrambling to put out a legitimate lineup. Why? The dreaded bye week. While the bye week gives teams a chance to rest, there are no byes in fantasy. For the second week in a row, we will see six teams absent from the playing field.

Last week, owners of players such as Ray Rice, Brandon Marshall, Andrew Luck, Antonio Gates or even maybe he-who-shall-not-be-named (Chris Johnson) had to find someone else to replace them. This week will be no different. No Peyton Manning or Colin Kaepernick. No Larry Fitzgerald or Wes Welker. And of course no Andre Ellington, Frank Gore or Reggie Bush.

If you have one of those players and need a start in a pinch, or if you, like many other fantasy owners, are wondering if any potential flex option will somehow find consistency, here are a couple guys who should have a strong week.

Bilal Powell (NYJ)

No one in the Jets running game has lit the world on fire up to this point. Powell, while serviceable, has only one rushing TD on the year while his teammate, Chris Ivory, has averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.

However, the rushing attack for Gang Green does have a few factors in its favor this week against New Orleans. First, just because they haven’t been as successful as they would like to be on the ground, doesn’t mean they will abandon trying to be successful.

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been all over the map, mixing flashes of brilliance with head-scratching mistakes – a common occurrence for first-year starters. Because of that, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will still be hesitant to give Geno the keys to the car without supervision. He’ll want to establish some sort of running game, so that the West Virginia product doesn’t have to play catch-up with Drew Brees.

That could be easier than it first looks for Powell because of what New Orleans’ defense is bringing to the table. The Saints rank 20th in rushing defense and are giving up 4.8 yards per carry. It’s not all Drew Brees and the offense like it was last year when the defense gave up the most yards in the history of the NFL, but bringing in Rob Ryan and his crazy schemes can’t mask everything. They are still a below-average defense and Powell will have some room to run.

Mike Tolbert (CAR)

Tolbert only has 182 yards on the season through seven games and he’s banging away at a not-so-stellar 3.6 yards per carry. Furthermore, Carolina’s second option as a rusher to DeAngelo Williams will always be Cam Newton. That being said, Tolbert has been able to find the end zone five times already this season (3 rushing and 2 receiving scores)

The Panthers’ offense is finding its groove after a slow start, and this week they are up against the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta’s season has only gotten worse as the weeks continue to drag on. They are 2-5, have lost key weapons and aren’t playing very good defense. The Falcons’ defensive unit ranks 22nd overall, 22nd in rushing and is surrendering 4.6 yards per carry. There will certainly be some Superman sightings in Carolina this Sunday, but there should be plenty of scores to go around.

 

NFL Week 9 Wide Receiver Sleeper Report

Ginn has a dream Week 9 matchup against the Falcons

Ginn has a dream Week 9 matchup against the Falcons

Pretty much every fantasy owner is rolling the dice with a sleeper or two this week with six teams on a bye week and injuries plaguing the entire NFL.

Luckily, there are some wide receivers out there that are widely available and ready to produce for your fantasy team. Ted Ginn, DeAndre Hopkins and Myles White lead the crop of Week 9 WR sleepers.

Tedd Ginn (WR – CAR)

Tedd Ginn appeared as one of our wide receiver sleepers earlier in the season and he didn’t disappoint. Ginn has been quietly having a nice season and Week 9 might end up being a decent week with Ginn’s dream match-up against the Falcons.

Ginn put up another double-digit performance in Week 8 against the Bucs leading his team in receptions with five and yards with 80. Ginn also dropped what was a sure touchdown as well which would have put him over 20 fantasy points for the game.

Ginn put up double-digit fantasy points in a PPR format in four of his seven games and it looks like he has a good chance to do the same against a below-average Falcons pass defense.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU)

The Houston Texans had high hopes for rookie receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, when they drafted him in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.  Hopkins has been relatively quiet with flashes of greatness throughout the season.

Hopkins had a really productive Week 8 performance during Case Keenum’s first career start racking up 76 yards and a touchdown on the road against a really stout Kansas City Defense.  Hopkins has a much better match-up at home this week against the Colts and has potential for a great game if Keenum can play well.  Given the Week 9 circumstances, Hopkins is a decent WR3 or Flex play in most leagues.

Myles White (WR – GB)

Myles White was thrust into Green Bay’s lineup with injuries to Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Jones in Week 8. Jones is no lock to play during Week 9 so White should see plenty of playing time on Monday night against the Bears.

Last week against the Vikings, White was second on the team in targets with seven and had five catches for 35 yards. Not great numbers, but owners have to be happy about the seven targets and five catches.  With Aaron Rodgers throwing White the ball, good things are bound to happen in the future.

White is a very deep sleeper but does have upside playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game in a offense that likes to pass a lot.  White is is low end WR3 or Flex play this week but has a lot of potential if he can gain Rodger’s trust in the coming weeks.

NFL Week 9 Wide Receiver Sleeper Report

Ginn has a dream Week 9 matchup against the Falcons

Ginn has a dream Week 9 matchup against the Falcons

Pretty much every fantasy owner is rolling the dice with a sleeper or two this week with six teams on a bye week and injuries plaguing the entire NFL.

Luckily, there are some wide receivers out there that are widely available and ready to produce for your fantasy team. Ted Ginn, DeAndre Hopkins and Myles White lead the crop of Week 9 WR sleepers.

Tedd Ginn (WR – CAR)

Tedd Ginn appeared as one of our wide receiver sleepers earlier in the season and he didn’t disappoint. Ginn has been quietly having a nice season and Week 9 might end up being a decent week with Ginn’s dream match-up against the Falcons.

Ginn put up another double-digit performance in Week 8 against the Bucs leading his team in receptions with five and yards with 80. Ginn also dropped what was a sure touchdown as well which would have put him over 20 fantasy points for the game.

Ginn put up double-digit fantasy points in a PPR format in four of his seven games and it looks like he has a good chance to do the same against a below-average Falcons pass defense.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU)

The Houston Texans had high hopes for rookie receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, when they drafted him in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.  Hopkins has been relatively quiet with flashes of greatness throughout the season.

Hopkins had a really productive Week 8 performance during Case Keenum’s first career start racking up 76 yards and a touchdown on the road against a really stout Kansas City Defense.  Hopkins has a much better match-up at home this week against the Colts and has potential for a great game if Keenum can play well.  Given the Week 9 circumstances, Hopkins is a decent WR3 or Flex play in most leagues.

Myles White (WR – GB)

Myles White was thrust into Green Bay’s lineup with injuries to Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Jones in Week 8. Jones is no lock to play during Week 9 so White should see plenty of playing time on Monday night against the Bears.

Last week against the Vikings, White was second on the team in targets with seven and had five catches for 35 yards. Not great numbers, but owners have to be happy about the seven targets and five catches.  With Aaron Rodgers throwing White the ball, good things are bound to happen in the future.

White is a very deep sleeper but does have upside playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game in a offense that likes to pass a lot.  White is is low end WR3 or Flex play this week but has a lot of potential if he can gain Rodger’s trust in the coming weeks.

NFL Week 8 Wide Receiver Sleeper Report

Thanks to Calvin Johnson, Durham is always facing single coverage

Thanks to Calvin Johnson, Durham is always facing single coverage

Fantasy owners are being forced to roll the dice with some sleepers in Week 8.  Six teams (Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indy, San Diego and Tennessee) have bye weeks and injuries are plaguing the entire NFL.

With the horrible numbers running backs are putting up this year, it’s probably a good idea to test the wide receiver waters for a sleeper in Week 8. Luckily, there are a few sleepers out there that are putting up decent numbers and are ready to produce for your fantasy team.

Jeremy Kerley (WR – NYJ)

Jeremy Kerley caught eight passes for 97 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 against the Patriots. Kerley appears to be Geno Smith’s favorite target and could end up being a nice WR3 or Flex option in Week 8 considering the injury and bye week situations.

Kerley has a tough match-up as the Jets take on the Bengals, but if the Jets have a hard time getting things going on the ground, there will be more targets for Kerley in the air. The Bengals are dealing with some injuries in the secondary and Kerley seems be getting better each week. Given the Week 8 circumstances, Kerley is not a bad play coming off a 20-plus point performance.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR – PITT)

Emmanuel Sanders was quiet in Week 7 against the Ravens but could bounce back in Week 8 against the Raiders. Before Sanders’ dud performance in Week 7, he was averaging 60.2 yards yards from scrimmage in his previous five games.

Sanders has a great match-up against the Raiders and has reached or flirted with double-digit fantasy points every week this season besides Week 7. No owner will feel great starting Sanders week in and week out, but he’s not going to post a goose egg and is a quality receiver with a quality quarterback. Sanders is averaging 9.5 points a game in PPR formats and is a good bet to eclipse that mark this week.

Kris Durham (WR – DET)

Kris Durham has produced good fantasy numbers two of the last three weeks and is averaging 12.3 points per game over that stretch. He is the clear-cut number two wide receiver behind Calvin Johnson until Nate Burleson returns. With two or three defenders keying on Calvin Johnson, Durham gets single coverage all game long in a pass-happy offense.

While Durham only had five catches for 49 yards in Week 7, he did get eight targets which was second on the team. Detroit could easily find themselves in a shoot-out as they take on the Cowboys in Week 8 and if that turns out to be the case, Durham could have a nice day.

 

 

 

 

NFL Week 8 Running Back Sleeper Report

Helu has another shot at a big game against the Broncos

Helu has another shot at a big game against the Broncos

The name of the game in the NFL right now is simple: injuries. Injuries across the league have decimated team rosters and fantasy lineups alike. Last week seemed even more brutal. Reggie Wayne and Sam Bradford are out for the year, Jermichael Finley might be out for the year and Doug Martin and Jay Cutler are out for an extended period of time – all because of injuries suffered during Week 7. There are numerous major injuries each year that put teams and fantasy owners in a bind, but the big names in 2013 are glaring.

As much in fantasy as in real-life play on the field, serious injuries can have a sort of domino effect, or at the very least secondary repercussions. That is to say you may not have had Reggie Wayne on your roster, but if you have Andrew Luck without his number one wide receiver, it may hinder his value going forward.

On the other hand, perhaps a player going down for a period of time will allow another player to step up. However, be optimistic only to a certain extent; a combination of other teammates’ trust, game plans, and willingness to now take on a larger role will determine whether someone has the capacity to score more points in fantasy.

If you had Doug Martin or another player whose injury has opened a spot on your roster, you’ll be looking to pick someone up that can provide immediate value (or at least value in the near future.) There are players that can be had in many leagues, and here are a couple that sound intriguing this week and going forward.

Jacquizz Rodgers (ATL)

Rodgers may be owned in many leagues; after all, he is the Falcons number one rusher. However, in those leagues where he is not owned, he needs to be picked up as soon as possible. And in leagues where he is owned, now is a possible time to buy low in a trade. Why? The passing game. Even though Rodgers does lead the Falcons in rushing statistically, he hasn’t been that impressive at 3.2 yards per carry. Furthermore, Steven Jackson is set to come back as early as Sunday.

However, even with Jackson coming back, Matt Ryan clearly trusts Rodgers as an outlet and a playmaker when he drops back to throw. Think about it: Julio Jones is out for the year, Roddy White has been banged up all season and Tony Gonzalez consistently sees double and triple coverage when the Falcons are in the red zone. Matty Ice needs someone to throw to, and in the first game without Jones and White, Rodgers caught two scores. It’s very possible this becomes a trend as Atlanta tries to claw their way back into playoff contention.

So, if you can convince a Rodgers owner to take on an asset you feel comfortable parting with, definitely look into it.

Roy Helu (WSH)

Helu’s three touchdown performance last week was an anomaly. Anyone who started him either on a whim or out of desperation got lucky. With that being said, this week’s matchup against Denver means the Redskins have to put on a premium on controlling the ball and keeping it out of Peyton Manning’s hands.

While Denver’s run defense, which ranks first in yards per game, has been far superior to their pass defense, which ranks last in yards per game.  Getting into a shootout with the Broncos hasn’t worked out well for other opponents. Dallas scored 48 points against them in week 5 and lost.

If Helu can somehow sneak in a score, he’s likely to get enough carries to justify starting him as a flex option in some leagues. Plus, no one knows more about ball control and needing to use multiple options at running back than Mike Shanahan. Shannie probably wants to win his Denver homecoming more than anyone on his own roster, and if he trusts Helu with the ball in his hands, he’ll give him touches.

Alfred Morris hasn’t been supplanted as the number one back in Washington, but Helu has provided a decent number two with a respectable 4.2 yards per carry.

Waiver Wire Wide Receiver Pickups for Week 6

Alshon Jeffery blowing away expectations

Alshon Jeffery blowing away expectations in Chicago

The Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins have bye weeks during Week 6. Fantasy owners with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzales, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are looking for spot starts while other owners are looking for possible alternatives for struggling wide receivers such as Dwayne Bowe and Roddy White.

Luckily, there are some wide receivers putting up solid numbers that can help owners during these bye-weeks and sub-par performances from some big name receivers.

Justin Blackmon

Justin Blackmon produced some big numbers during his 2013 debut with 5 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown in Week 5. Blackmon took full advantage of the putrid St. Louis defense and it didn’t hurt that the Jaguars were playing catch-up the whole game. Blaine Gabbert also left the game early with a tweaked hamstring and Blackmon was and will continue to be more productive with Chad Henne at quarterback.

There’s nothing not to love about Blackmon’s fantasy value moving forward. He’s playing on a team that will almost certainly be behind in every game they play this year and he will be getting lots of chances to make big plays. Blackmon is owned in only 61% of Yahoo and 20% of ESPN Fantasy leagues so grab him if he’s available in your league.

Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery produced double-digit fantasy points during Week 3 and 4 and absolutely exploded in Week 5 against the Saints. Jeffery caught 10 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. This was Jeffery’s second week in a row with at least 10 targets and it’s quite clear that Jay Cutler has found his number two option in Jeffery.

Jeffery has a great Thursday night match-up against the Giants at home during Week 6 and another great match-up on Week 7 against the Redskins.  Jeffery is poised to put up big numbers the rest of the season with his favorable schedule and high volume of targets he is receiving. Jeffery is only owned in 67% of Yahoo and 85% of ESPN Fantasy leagues and should now be owned in 100% of all leagues.  If you have a high waiver priority, it should definitely be used on Jeffery.

Austin Pettis

Austin Pettis has scored has at least 10 points in his last four games in PPR formats. Pettis is getting lots of targets in the red zone and already has four touchdowns on the season, including two on Sunday against the Jaguars.

Pettis plays in a tough division so he has some ugly match-ups down the road, but he still warrants a WR3 or Flex consideration during bye weeks. Pettis might not warrant a waiver wire pick-up in smaller leagues, but is definitely worth a look in deeper leagues because of his upside.

 

San Diego Avoids the “Tebow Effect”

The Tim Tebow effect was evident last season in New York, when their offseason acquisition stirred up a slew of media chaos. This intense media coverage may, or may not have created locker room distractions leading the Jets to finish 6-10. For now, it appears that the San Diego Chargers have successfully avoided the “Tebow Effect” while dealing with rookie linebacker Manti Te’o’s offseason drama.

Of course, it’s much easier to avoid intense media scrutiny in San Diego than it is New York City.

As much of the free world is aware, one of the NFL’s most fascinating rookie stories was Manti Te’o, a Heisman finalist who displayed some very bizarre behavior in the middle highly-publicized fake online relationship.

Following the offseason media coverage revolving around the incident, the Notre Dame senior was heavily distracted while entering the combine where his 40-yard dash time was less than attractive to NFL teams. Te’o improved on his 40 during his pro day, but apparently not enough to be taken in the first round.

The San Diego Chargers moved up to grab Te’o with the 38th overall pick, and since then, the Chargers have practically suffocated the story. The Chargers franchise did not allow the media to speak to Te’o until after the June minicamp was finished. During this media meet, Te’o answered questions for 17 minutes and was described as mature, polished and polite.

With the lack of distractions, Te’o has been able to impress his teammates and earn their respect in the locker room and on the field. Without the distractions, and with a chip on his shoulder, Te’o has been referred to as one of the most “NFL-ready” rookies coming into the new season.

No Guaranteed Money for Darrelle Revis in Tampa

DB – Darrelle Revis –

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The New York Jets traded cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay for two draft picks. The $96 million deal will make Revis the highest paid defensive back in NFL history – but the deal isn’t half as good as it seems. Revis agreed to the contract without “one cent” of guaranteed money.

That is unheard of for any kind of top-rung NFL player and it’s amazing that Revis or his agent agreed to such a deal that could essentially leave outspoken corner with nothing. If the Bucs aren’t satisfied with Revis they can let him go with no hit to the cap.

The Jets will get the Bucs 13th overall pick in this week’s draft along with a conditional fourth round pick next year. If Revis is still with the Buccaneers roster on the third day of 2014, the pick next year becomes a third round selection.

In order for this deal to get done, the teams had to first agree on the deal itself. Revis had to agree to a new contract with the Buccaneers and he had to pass a physical. The team doctors decided that he was good to go and Revis inked a new six year deal worth $96 million dollars.

The trade makes sense for everybody except Revis. The Buccaneers had arguably the worst pass defense in the league last year, giving up just under 300 yards a game. The team is also short on defensive backs with the departures of Aqib Talib and E.J. Biggers. Tampa veteran Ronde Barber has also yet to sign for the upcoming season.

The Bucs will be looking to add more defense in the draft with their second and third round selections.

The deal helps the Jets for more than one reason. New York has deep salary cap issues and Revis was scheduled to make $12 million in 2013. He was also opting for a new contract this year and the Jets did not have the cap space.

The team also added another draft selection in Thursday’s draft, which will them rebuild. Revis was arguably the best defensive player in the league during his 6 years in New York, but the Jets have plenty of holes to fill in just about every player position.

Fantasy Buzzer – NFL News from around the league

No Guaranteed Money for Darrelle Revis in Tampa

DB – Darrelle Revis –

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The New York Jets traded cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay for two draft picks. The $96 million deal will make Revis the highest paid defensive back in NFL history – but the deal isn’t half as good as it seems. Revis agreed to the contract without “one cent” of guaranteed money.

That is unheard of for any kind of top-rung NFL player and it’s amazing that Revis or his agent agreed to such a deal that could essentially leave outspoken corner with nothing. If the Bucs aren’t satisfied with Revis they can let him go with no hit to the cap.

The Jets will get the Bucs 13th overall pick in this week’s draft along with a conditional fourth round pick next year. If Revis is still with the Buccaneers roster on the third day of 2014, the pick next year becomes a third round selection.

In order for this deal to get done, the teams had to first agree on the deal itself. Revis had to agree to a new contract with the Buccaneers and he had to pass a physical. The team doctors decided that he was good to go and Revis inked a new six year deal worth $96 million dollars.

The trade makes sense for everybody except Revis. The Buccaneers had arguably the worst pass defense in the league last year, giving up just under 300 yards a game. The team is also short on defensive backs with the departures of Aqib Talib and E.J. Biggers. Tampa veteran Ronde Barber has also yet to sign for the upcoming season.

The Bucs will be looking to add more defense in the draft with their second and third round selections.

The deal helps the Jets for more than one reason. New York has deep salary cap issues and Revis was scheduled to make $12 million in 2013. He was also opting for a new contract this year and the Jets did not have the cap space.

The team also added another draft selection in Thursday’s draft, which will them rebuild. Revis was arguably the best defensive player in the league during his 6 years in New York, but the Jets have plenty of holes to fill in just about every player position.

Fantasy Buzzer – NFL News from around the league