Welcome to Toad’s Fantasy Football Weekly Review, where I summarize the aftermath of the past Thursday through Sunday games, but more importantly ten thoughts and their lasting fantasy impact.
Week seven provided very few surprises as far as outcomes go in the NFL, but Carolina continues to be terribly inconsistent and hard to read and it appears the Broncos are not as rock solid as we once thought. Besides that, the Bills continue to trend upward despite having few players at the skills positions. The Chiefs lost a nailbiter, dropping their second in a row, but they still have a commanding hold of the AFC West. There was much to mull about week seven and we’ll start off with this week’s injuries.
1. Bones will eventually break and the rest of the Week 7 injuries.
• QB Carson Palmer (broken arm) – The last time the Cardinals lost Palmer for an extended period, they lost momentum of a NFC West title and were quickly dismissed in the playoffs. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been so complacent during the NFL Draft, but it is what it is and unfortunately we need to downgrade Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and yes, Adrian Peterson during the eight weeks or longer that he’s gone..
• QB Jay Cutler, (broken ribs) – Cutler was dealt a brutal hit that’s going to sideline him for multiple weeks. Matt Moore puts on his Dolphins‘ helmet once again and the drop off isn’t as big as you’d think.
• K Dan Bailey (strained groin) – will miss an extended period of time and have signed Mike Nugent to take his place until the veteran kicker can heal.
• RB Leonard Fournette – While most thought that Chris Ivory would fill in the big need, they went with T. J. Yeldon instead
• WR Chris Hogan – was in and out of the lineup from what appeared to be a concussion, but it’s probably best to check in on his status throughout the week.
• WR Mike Wallace (concussion) – This was an ugly looking injury that could have been worse but Sanders avoided the dreaded fracture and high-ankle sprain. So at the least, Sanders will miss Week 7 and put Bennie Fowler in the target mix, but there’s a chance his low ankle sprain heals in time to return in Week 8 or Week 9.
• RB C.J. Prosise (ankle) – it’s no surprise that the oft-injured back got hurt again, but the question is how much time (if any) will he miss this time?
• Lots of offensive lineman went down with the Browns’ Joe Thomas and Carolina’s Ryan Kalil headlining. Thomas is done for the season, Kalil re-aggravated a neck injury that previously sidelined him for five weeks. Jackonville’s OT Cam Robinson suffered an ankle injury, Miami’s Laremy Tunsil left the game for a knee injury but did not return. Thomas and Kalil are significant and will greatly affect those offensive lines.
2. How to navigate the Vikings’ running back committee
For two weeks straight, the snaps have been split nearly down the middle between Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. Murray is being used on early downs, McKinnon is there on third downs and passing downs, while doing a mixture of catching and running. They don’t do much to disguise it because Murray does not catch the ball well, but both would be best viewed as flex starts and based on the matchup, if they’re facing a weaker run defense, Murray gets the start. If they are facing a tough defense with a looser secondary and set of linebackers, McKinnon would be the preferred start. Again, nothing more than a flex with either of these two with Case Keenum starting. Standard league owners could make a case for Murray as a RB2, but not much higher because of the equal split.
3. Amari Cooper’s demise was greatly exaggerated
Okay, not really. That’s a bit of an overreaction. Cooper played awful the first six weeks of the season and then turned up like a beast in Week 7 with 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In that terrible stretch, Cooper saw some brutal coverage against the Redskins, Broncos, and Chargers. Because the Chiefs don’t move Marcus Peters around the field, Cooper took advantage of some matchups and came alive. We still don’t know what Cooper can give you week-to-week but at least he’s earned back the confidence that he can be a player when the matchup is in his favor. He’s got a long way to go to restore that moxie he had on a weekly basis though.
4. Last train for Evan Engram is leaving…
As the only reliable receiver, TE Evan Engram has converted 11 of 18 targets for 142 yards and two touchdowns for the Giants. He’s as hot a tight end that is out there but will only get better with Sterling Shepard because he’ll be able to pull some of the attention away from Engram. Who knows if Engram will get this kind of action next year when Odell Beckham is well again. This is Engram’s time to shine and burst on the scene and this is probably the last week he’ll be available.
Some other receivers and tight ends who could help you in this bye week crunch as well as down the road: Jared Cook (OAK), Hunter Henry (LAC), A.J. Derby (DEN).
5. Spend your remaining FAAB money on Aaron Jones
…And If not all your remaining FAAB money, then a good portion of it. As expected, Jones dominated the touches from the Packers’ backfield. To help out quarterback Brett Hundley, the Packers devised a game plan that utilized Jones, a more traditional running back, as the safe play on early downs and hope the quarterback can make a play on third down. Jones responded with 17 carries for 131 yards and a score, with a 7.7 YPC average. If by chance, he’s still available in your league, go out and spend large on the rookie running back.
Running backs I would NOT spend FAAB money on include: Malcolm Brown, Jonathan Stewart, T.J. Yeldon, and Matt Forte.
6. Quarterback Dos and Don’ts
Week eight is a big bye week, which means some owners will be in a pinch to find a replacement. There are also some quarterback injuries which may force owners to make a move. Here’s a quick rundown of who might be available.
Do Pick Up Matt Moore who is going to fill in for Jay Cutler who has multiple cracked ribs. The offense always seems to pick with him under center, just know that he’s a matchup play / streamer in this stint as Miami’s temporary starter.
Don’t Pick Up Drew Stanton. The Cardinals always go down the toilet with Stanton as quarterback. I’ve never understood why an offense-minded head coach like Bruce Arians doesn’t push for a better backup for Carson Palmer but once again, everyone for the Cardinals get down-graded because of Stanton’s career averages of <60 completion percentage and below 7.0 yard per pass average.
Do Pick Up Jared Goff if you haven’t already. He’s one of the few quarterbacks out there with plenty of weapons around him and an up-tempo style offense with playmakers.
Don’t Pick Up any of the Browns quarterbacks. LT Joe Thomas’ season-ending torn triceps injury will leave a gaping hole in the most important position on the line. Not that anyone is rushing to pick up DeShone Kizer, it’s good practice to stay away.
Do Pick Up C.J. Beathard who’s got a juicy matchup against the Eagles this week.
Do Pick Up Josh McCown who’s thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight games.
7. What were the Bears thinking in releasing Deonte Thompson?
In case you didn’t know his name when he was in Chicago, meet Deonte Thompson now that he’s in Buffalo. He’s about to become the hottest receivers on the waiver wire. I shined a spotlight on Thompson during week seven, but I’ll quickly recap it for those who missed it. Thompson and Tyrod Taylor played in Baltimore a few years back and that’s where they first developed chemistry working on the second and third teams as young players in the league.
But with all of Bills’ receivers either going down with an injury or underperforming (Zay Jones) Thompson, a reject from the Chicago Bears (Seriously? Like they had room to let a half-baked potato of a young receiver go?) was just waiting to join a depleted team. I expected him to join the Giants, but he may be a better fit with Taylor and the Bills. Jordan Matthews is coming back, but at the very least, Thompson could be a low-pressured No.2 receiver once Matthews is back up to speed.
Is Thompson the top waiver receiver available? No. But if this is a sign of him being at the least, a consistent, low-end WR2 or high end WR3, then he’s close to it. Some other long-term wide receiver pickups: Dede Westbrook (JAX) and Josh Doctson (WAS).
8. Try not to drop the Rams and Jaguars DSTs
If you’ve been following the NFL draft for the last four or five years, then these two defenses’ rise up the rankings should be no surprise. They’re actually a little late to the party because we’ve been promised that they’d be better with so much good young talent on the roster. Both of them are fantasy starts nearly every week but they also share a common deficiency, which is stopping the opposing feature running back.
That’s what prevents them from being the best defenses in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they stop being weekly starting defenses. They’re both racking up sacks, scoring on turnovers or special teams, really everything you could ask for in a defense/special teams. Remember, those are points that can’t be taken away if the opposing team scores. Also, know that if the Jaguars or Rams get a two or three-possession lead, the game is pretty much done.
That said, both teams are on bye, so I get a lot of questions about whether or not these defenses are good enough to hold on to for the rest of the season. I believe they are. I don’t know where you stand on keeping two team defenses personally, but I like to keep two, especially if I have a reliable one, because there’s too many good offenses out there where you have to play matchups when in a pinch. So while I prefer to roster two defenses, I actively use both. Others prefer the weekly task of playing the matchups, but with the Jaguars having already two games of 10+ sacks, that’s something you just don’t find sitting on waivers.
So in other words, don’t leave a defense like either the Rams or Jags up for grabs. If there’s a WR4 or WR5 that I have no plans on starting, I’m okay with pitching them for a streaming defense.
9. The Atlanta Bailout Plan
Julio Jones owners are angry. Devonta Freeman owners are furious. Matt Ryan owners? Well, consider bailing out by trying to move him to a desperate team in need of quarterback with a trade. Ryan’s a low grade QB1 who had a special season in 2016, but looking at this year, he just might not be special enough to turn the season around. He’s too talented to drop but he’s just not throwing more than a single touchdown and has been a QB2 every single week no matter the matchup. The one time he did throw for multiple scores, he threw three interceptions too.
I think Ryan could be in for a tough month with matchups that will be either be a coin flip or a matchup to avoid. He is at the Jets, at the Panthers, hosts the Cowboys then goes into Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The Jets, Cowboys and Panthers do allow multiple touchdowns thrown on them and are favorable matchups, but Ryan did next to nothing against the Patriots.
10. Steeltown is going back to basics
Did you really buy Ben Roethlisberger after the loss to the Jaguars, saying he might not have it anymore? Neither did I, but the adjustment they’ve made is to realize they have Le’veon Bell, the best all around running back, so why not use him? The Steelers are good enough to not have to depend on the pass as much, but they have the luxury of having WR Antonio Brown.
They have such an embarrassment of riches that they barely use the tight end or even WR Martavis Bryant, and while the latter is debatable, the Steelers don’t have to drop back 40-plus times now that the defense is greatly improved. Big Ben’s passing attempts have dropped from the high 30’s and settled to 25-30. Now that Bryant is complaining about targets, is only branding him with self-inflicted wounds because they’ll move onto JuJu Smith-Schuster.
That’s bad news for Bryant owners, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’ve won three of their last four games and each time, Bell has eclipsed the 30-carry mark. Outside of Bell and Brown, the Steelers are also relying on the defense, which so far is the best all-around defensive squad in the league. Sounds like classic Steelers football.