Ive come to an impasse with my team. I dont want to overreact to the first three weeks since Ive had the league high score put up on me 2/3 weeks, but with our regular season 25% over, I sit at 2-4 and am wondering how I can make a run for the playoffs. Time to take a look at my team.
At QB, I think Mariota looks really good. He has reliable pass-catchers in Wright and Walker to take advantage of his accuracy and move the offense down the field. In the RZ, DGB’s size gives Mariota and TEN another option. I haven’t really seen DBG or Hunter uncorked for a huge play downfield yet, but they have that potential at least. The TEN run game is dogshit so they really rely on Mariota to move down the field. Look no further than their failed 2-pt conversion where they initially had the ball in Mariota’s hand then seemingly switched to a run play after a defensive penalty which failed in spectacular fashion. What really gets me excited however is that Mariota’s been so solid for fantasy thus far without using his legs. Adding some rushing to his game could be the 2-4 extra points a week that push him into the vaunted 20+ ppg class.
On the other hand, Bradford has been a pretty big disappointment thus far. It seems Chip shook up his playbook and the run game finally got going a little (though I wonder how much of that is because they were gifted a lead courtesy of a Sproles PR TD). The problem really is that PHL doesn’t have a field-stretching WR and even if they did, Im not sure Bradford would even be willing to look to him deep. To be fair, Bradford’s YPPA is 6.3, still in the lower half of passers, but ahead of some names like Luck (5.7), Peyton (5.1); for reference, notoriously conservative Alex Smith sits near the 60th-percentile with 7.5 YPPA (through 2 games). Those intermediate passes/screens could just be deliberate decisions of the playcalling/coaching as well. If the run game continues to improve, then maybe the passing attack that relentlessly beats defenses with chain-moving tempo will follow, but for now, it’s a wait-and-see situation for me before they get my trust back.
My team’s RB conversation starts with CJ Anderson. Through 3 games, he holds ~4 ppg average; from my 1st round pick, I really hoped for at least 10 ppg. So what’s his problem? At first I chalked it up to facing a tough run defense (BAL) and then his injury combined with a quick turnaround to the TNF game vs KC. The OL clearly wasn’t helping either as CJ constantly was getting hit behind the los. Kubiak’s imprint on the DEN offense seemed to clash with their available personnel. I thought given time for his toe to heal and the OL to gel, that CJ would be able to bounceback. On SNF vs DET, he actually looked pretty spry to start the game, but then got knocked out of the game after taking a huge hit (looked like helmet-to-helmet). He got tested for a concussion and was able to return after missing about a quarter of gametime. He played for some series in the 2nd half, but didn’t look as good as he did to start the game.
DEN’s run game hasn’t been kind of any of their backs, so I don’t think it’s a condemnation of just CJ. At least Kubiak has demonstrated that he’s willing to be flexible and adapt to his personnel as shown by the shift to Peyton in the shotgun/pistol vs DET. So, what to do now? Im not going to get anything for him in a trade, so I guess I just ride it out with CJ. It’s looking more and more that CJ’s huge run last year was a consequence of beating up on bad defenses than overwhelming talent. Being optimistic, if the OL can continue to improve and defenses give more respect to the DEN passing attack, CJ could get back on track. He does hold a 60% share of the DEN RB snaps through 3 games, most likely due to his role in pass-blocking, but pass-blocking doesn’t score me fantasy points. Being on the field does have its advantages with a QB like Peyton who has the freedom and awareness to audible into more advantageous plays such as draws for Anderson.
Foster’s eventual return is the one hope for my team’s RB situation. Im expecting a return in week 5 (I don’t think HOU plays him in week 4 with short turnaround to the TNF game in week 5). If Foster can give me RB1 production, I think I can get away with CJ giving me RB2/FLEX production (~10ppg). I picked up Polk (BANG BANG CHICKEN AND SHRIMP) but maybe Blue is the real handcuff? I hate Alfred Blue’s running game, but I might have to pony up the FAAB to secure him.
Starks and Mathews are backups I might be able to leverage into solid bye week fill-ins or useful trade pieces in deals with the Lacy/Demarco owners. Duke is holding steady at 50% of the RB snaps in CLE. He’s only gotten 40% of the carries, but finally is being used as a receiver. I don’t know if a greater role is coming for him this year. Christine Michael…I want sooooo badly to believe. After seeing Randle stomp thru ATL (for a half at least), Im not sure if DAL even thinks of turning to Michael for a long time.
Regarding my WRs, Im going to be dreaming of AJ’s 80yd TD for weeks; simply one of the coolest, most impressive football plays Ive ever seen. JMatt, Maclin, and Moncrief is a solid group of WRs to surround AJ. I don’t think any of them is a WR1, but in my estimation, none is worse than a WR2/3. Im not sure if any of them has potential for those week-winning, explosive 30pt games, but I think together, they will provide my team with a solid floor to build off of most weeks. None of my WRs share a BYE week, so I might be able to get away with having just one backing WR or putting a RB in the FLEX during their BYE weeks. Trades including one of my trio and those handcuff RBs might net me a nice return, but Im not really banking on such a trade since I think I value these guys higher than my leaguemates do.
Kelce seems like a lock for top5 TE status so I cant really complain about this position. I picked up Miller solely for that juicy wk 9 mu vs OAK during Kelce’s BYE. Cant really complain about the DEN DST or Matt Bryant either. Im happy if I just get 20 pts from the pair each week and they seem up to the task which an above-average chance of scoring even more.
Currently my team is 2-4. Both my wins have been from scoring in the top6, otherwise I would just be 0-3 due to the bad luck of playing the lg high score 2/3 weeks (discussion of how my lg determines W/L will be for another time…). In my estimation, my team is somewhere around 5-6 in the power rankings thru 25% of our regular season. I don’t know if there’s any move or trade that would significantly change my team’s prospects at this point. I have $112 of FAAB remaining for the season, but Im not sure if anyone on the waiver wire can be a difference maker. As I see it, my season pretty much rests on how my RBs do rest of season. If Foster can return healthy as a RB1 and CJ bounces back even to just RB2 level, my team has a shot at the playoffs, otherwise there may be some nice weeks sprinkled in but ultimately we’ll come up short. This season has been very murky so far for fantasy and Im cant help but feel a lot of uncertainty about my fantasy predictions. Im going to have to do a lot better job of understanding the current landscape if I want to win this league.