After weeks 4-5 in the NFL most fantasy leagues start to come to form and things make a little more sense. Injuries happen throughout the season and it seems like even more so this year, but this season there have been quite a few players that have owners scratching their heads and thinking through trade options. These players aren’t necessarily injured, but all had draft potential and made owners reach for them in rounds that they can’t seem to produce quality for lately. Enter owners of: Demarco Murray, Amari Cooper, Jay Ajayi, Marshawn Lynch, Terrelle Pryor Sr., Adrian Peterson, Dez Bryant, etc.. …..the list could go on for a bit.
The fantasy landscape can change week to week, especially early on in the season. Players can go from the dog house one week, to steak dinner the next, and back to the couch the week after. After a roller coaster year of crazy injuries, under/over performers and dark horse/rookie breakouts we owners are left in a league of turmoil. Who will use this “chaos as a ladder” to scheme, manipulate, and mold their team together and to become King of the fantasy ashes?
It’s week 5 people and the time of “seeing your roster play out” is nearly over and we must not only be looking at matchups, but truly investigating the players stockpiled on our teams. Judging not simply on how each can be used to win on a given week, but instead how they can be used as ingredients to make the perfect stew. There are better ways to build up your team than simply vulturing the waiver wire, especially if you aren’t first or second in waiver order. Stop taking the scraps left over in the league and instead outmaneuver and manipulate your way to the Ship! Find the weaknesses in your league and take advantage for your own benefit. Teams all over leagues are hurting at every position. In the words of Sun Tzu, “ Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”
This week we will skip out on the weekly stats that you can read on any fantasy page and dive a little deeper into injuries, trade value and potential talent. We are almost to the midway point of the season and it is time to start putting some finishing touches on your team before the playoff push.
Just to make everyone a little more aware of the terrible injury season that we are currently in, check out these stats: These offensive players were considered fantasy relevant.
2016 Notable injuries: Entire Year
Buy / Sell: Players worth trading away or trading for at the current price.
Marshawn Lynch, OAK RB -
Mike: Sell. I didn’t like Lynch coming into the season (see my first post) and I don’t like him now. His last season in Seattle showed everyone that he wasn’t the Lynch of Beastmode days. You can randomly see a spark of that Lynch in games, but mostly he just looks out of place. I love his dancing, but It is time to say bye to Lynch as anything more than an low end RB2 He will have a decent week without Derek Carr for the first time, but I say sell high after week 5.
Devin: Sell, try to pitch the angle of Carr being down so he'll see more carries. He had a decent game against the Jets, but I don't see thing picking up. He has faced two tough defense the last few weeks and should be worthy of flex consideration going forward if you decide to keep him.
David Johnson, ARI RB (IR) -
Mike: Buy. If you have an IR spot then of course he is worth a roster spot. How much you want to give or get for him is entirely dependent on your situation. If the Cardinals can remain relevant for a few more weeks then he will certainly be used once he is back and that should at least call for RB,WR2/3 in most leagues.
Devin: Unless your league has no IR spot this shouldn't even be considered. In the event of no IR he's still worth a bench spot unless you're just really hurting. He's going to come back on fresh legs and be hungry for touches. Unless you're getting low end starter in return then hold onto DJ.
Terrelle Pryor Sr, WAS WR
Mike: Sell. Right now is the best time to get value for Pryor in your league. He caught a touchdown on Monday night football and should have some value now. Worth trading if you have a strong WR unit and want to improve elsewhere. I just don’t trust their offense to consistently have him involved. If he is your WR1/2 it is time to look elsewhere.
Devin: I’m going to have to go with sell as well. He finally had a game with the appearance of fantasy value. Get on the hype train and reach for a 20-30 lesser known RB or package his name with performer to try pull a legitimate starter.
Lamar Miller, HOU RB
Mike: Sell High. I haven’t liked Miller in the past two seasons as an RB1 which a lot of people have him as right now. Miller’s strong point was he would get 18-20 rush attempts every game, but I truly think Foreman will continue to cut into those attempts. Plus, his TD numbers are so insignificant. I can see QB D. Watson rushing for more TDs than Miller this year. Another low end RB2.
Devin: Buy. I may be biased as a Texans fan, and the Texans will play chiefs next week so this next game may not be as pretty. However, he has good selling points right now, as he has consistently pulled 15-20 touches per game and his schedule looks soft as baby shit the rest of the season. I see him as a solid RB2 in a season where they are in short supply. Unlike Mike I think more carries for Foreman actually helps Lamar. If you do sell, sell high make a strong pitch and you could land a Chris Hogan or a top tier TE or QB.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR RB
Mike: Sell. Although in PPR formats McCaffery has been somewhat of a decent flex play, in standard formats he is struggling. It doesn’t look like Christian is in the red zone plan and until we see some touchdowns I think it is best to part ways and get value for his name and potential. Always a risk of him turning it on...never know with rookies, but I am taking the bet of “overhyped” pass catching back and not an RB2 unless you are in deeper leagues.
Devin: Buy. I see McCaff as a merely average flex play until we find more touchdown potential. He’s just not getting the looks close to the end zone at this point in the season those who drafted him were hoping. That said I still wouldn’t mind him on my team as he at least gets touches and could bust a big play. I still think the Panthers are figuring out how to utilize his skill set but he could have a stronger finish to the season. If I had him I’d hold onto him, or take advantage of the owner who is suffering injuries or has a losing record.
Ameer Abdullah, DET RB -
Mike: Sell. Detroit’s running game hasn’t been good in years and there shouldn’t be much change anytime soon. Abdullah is coming off one of his best games in the last two years and you should be able to convince people he is turning it around….he is not. He is a mediocre to low end RB2/flex that has a below average line blocking for him. Bye bye.
Devin: Sell. His value is the highest I’ve seen in my entire fantasy experience, and he’s still not even a top 20 RB in PPR. After this last game against a great Viking defense I would be trying to move this guy for something of value. We keep hearing the Lions are committed to the run, well he and Riddick only have 1 TD each on the year. He’s on a great offense and will have decent games from time to time, but he’s still just a flex play/ possible bench player at best on your team, try to move him for something worth starting consistently.
Dez Bryant, DAL WR -
Mike: Buy. Bryant has looked great from a fantasy standpoint but everyone needs to remember Dez started the year with the hardest schedule for a WR. Despite the tough defenses he is still averaging over 11 points in most PPR formats. Even though his schedule is still tough it looks to lessen up a bit in the next few weeks. (GB, SF, ATL, PHI and LAC) If you can get Dez at a WR2 price he is worth it.
Devin: Buy. This is a tough call, but Dez has 40 targets on the year. It’s been rough for owners though as he’s only caught 16 of them. The Cowboys have played tough teams, but clearly the wide outs talent/ salary demands him the ball. His schedule the rest of the year will ease up, and I think Dak will start to connect with him on more passes.
DeMarco Murray, TEN RB -
Mike: Sell. Murray’s place as lead back still exists in Tennessee, but it is hanging on by a thread and each time D.Henry breaks out a big run that thread gets a little thinner...I think Murray still merits some respect as a RB2 with good potential, but if he is the running back you are leaning on it might be time to change. Try and cut bait before he is injured or Henry starts splitting carries completely.
Devin: Buy. If you own him not much to say other than “that sucks”, but don't just give him away. Wait for another week, he could bounce back (but it's not looking great). I don't see his value really getting worse. Without MM they're going to run it. Let's see if there's any gas left in the tank. Buy super low, sell if you think it's a good offer.
Adam Thielen, MIN WR -
Mike: Buy. It doesn’t matter who the QB is in Minnesota because Thielen gets look from them all. Currently he is tied for 9th in the league in Targets and 5th in Receptions. Those are solid WR2 numbers and you should feel confident knowing that the Vikings want him involved. If you can manage to steal him away from another owner then this week would be a good time.
Devin: Buy. He’s the closest thing to Jamison Crowder last season. He’s the #13 WR in PPR and hasn’t even got in the end zone. With his kind of targets a couple scores are bound to happen. His name isn’t as well-known but anyone would be lucky to have this guy. I would try to package a sell high guy with another flex play to bring this guy in.
TY Hilton, IND WR -
Mike: Buy. I am a TY Hilton fan and could be a little one sided on this, but the fact that Andrew Luck has returned to practice is a good sign. Hilton has managed stay relevant in the current system, but we all know that with Andrew Luck playing that Hilton quickly jumps into the top 10 WR conversation. If you can manage to get Hilton for a reasonable price right now then do it. His value will only rise in the coming weeks.
Devin: Buy. If you’re thinking about trying to get him on your team, I believe this is the week to do it. He’s had some rough games with the exception of week 3, but (speculation) Luck should be back within a month and at that point no one is giving him up. I would definitely test the waters to see what would need to be given up for him, but I wouldn’t go much above an RB2 for him at this point. Buy low, see what counter offers are made. Don’t sell the farm, but this cow has a lot of milk to pump out once his QB is back.
Jay Ajayi, MIA RB -
Mike: Sell. The talent is without question there, but the opportunity seems to be fading away. The Miami team is terrible and the offense is the worst part. Jay Cutler can’t captain a team anymore and defenses know that. I think for the rest of the year you can expect around 12-15 carries and 70 yards a game. You can be hopefully he will get a touchdown, but it seems like a wish at this point. PLUS, you can’t overlook his knees. He has had knee trouble in college and the NFL. Those troubles rarely just go away….Sell while that 122 yard game is still in view.
Devin: Buy. Jay Cutler is about as useful as a poopy flavored lolly pop. Monitor his health, use things like his health as red flags and steal him away from a scared owner. You don’t win fantasy leagues by being safe, you win by taking chances. This is a high risk high reward kinda guy. If he’s healthy he’ll be a top 10-15 back the rest of the way.
Amari Cooper, OAK WR-
Mike: Buy. I have been on the Cooper hype train since he was in college, but he does look awful this year. Clearly something is going on between his ears, but I see him getting over this and coming around. Sit him on your bench if you have him or go try and snag him for a low cost because of recent stats. Cooper could be an advantageous play in later weeks when Carr returns. Sit for now or buy low.
Devin: Sell. Derek Carr is hurt. When this happened last year his and Crabtree’s production became a wasteland… try to get something of value, but jump off this sinking ship while you can. I don’t see him turning this around anytime soon and everyone needs to be in playoff push mode.
Brandin Cooks, NE WR -
Mike: Buy. Although Chris Hogan looks like the number 1 WR in New England right now, Cooks is more talented. That is nothing against Hogan. The number of targets should increase throughout the year and we will see some big games in the near future. The Pats need to turn things around and will start looking for the big play making of Brandin Cooks.
Devin: Buy. He's still the most talented and athletic wide out in Tom Brady’s stable. He has all the boxes checked to contribute as a solid WR2 or a coveted flex option. I believe him to be the most gifted (non-slot) receiver to play with Brady since Randy Moss in 2009. If they get clicking on downfield throws it could really be something special.
Make the Team: Waiver Wire Claims
Eli Manning NYG - Eli has been playing at a much high level with Odell back in the picture and the running game actually came to life last week vs Tampa Bay. With a little help in the backfield and all his weapons healthy Eli looks to have a good match up vs a chargers defense that has allowed even a poor Miami team to score 19 points. If you are in need of a Quarterback Eli should be a good start.
Alex Smith KC - Alex Smith still isn’t getting the credit he deserves. He is playing at a top notch this year and is converting on over 75% of his passes. Although he is going to face a decent Texans defense Smith should look to continue his steady fantasy relevance despite being owned in less than 50% of leagues. There are worse options on the board for sure.
Alvin Kamara NO - Kamara is quickly becoming a duel threat with his gadget abilities and his ability to catch the ball. Brees looked his way 10 times vs Miami and connected every time leading to 71 yards and a touchdown through the air. Owned in less than 21% of leagues currently. Worth a grab and stash for sure until his bye week is over.
Latavius Murray MIN - After posting about Murray earlier in the year I was scared that we might not see him much with Dalvin emerging. Sadly, Cook went down for the year and Minnesota will need someone to carry the load. Even if there is a dual back situation Murray should get the majority of carries over McKinnon who has already proved he can’t handle lead back responsibilities. Murray needs to be owned in almost all formats. Owned in less than 20% of leagues.
Wendell Smallwood PHI - The system in Philadelphia has resolved around two backs for a few years now and will continue that way despite Sproles being injured. Smallwood has filled in very nicely the last two weeks and caught 4 passes for 45 yards. Smallwood is worth a roster spot in most 10+ team leagues. Owned in less than 16% of leagues.
Andre Ellington ARI - With David Johnson going down in game 1 the Cardinals have been looking for someone to fill his role. While that may be impossible to do Ellington his sure giving it a good try the past two weeks. Palmer is looking comfortable dumping it off to him which happens often considering the terrible offensive line in Arizona. Andre is worth owning and even a flex spot this week vs a bad pass defending team in Philadelphia. Owned in less than 5% of leagues.
Elijah McGuire NYJ - It is hard to like anything about the Jets offense besides the backfield right now. McGuire managed 93 yards on 10 rush attempts and 38 yards of 2 catches. Although Bilal Powell looks like the lead back it is clear that the Jets like what they have in Elijah and will continue to put him in spots to produce after this weeks’ win. Owned in less than 1 % of leagues.
Will Fuller HOU - In his first game back from an extended absence it looked like Fuller fit into the offense fairly easy. Although he wasn’t getting the long balls that mainly people were hoping for it is was nice to see him get in the end zone twice. Obviously he won’t be getting you two touchdowns a week, but 5-6 targets a game are enough to grab attention. Owned in less than 19% of leagues.
Jaron Brown WR ,ARI - Brown is currently taking the role that John Brown usually plays and is producing well. He continues to produce with whatever he is given. If the cardinals keep having to throw the ball 35+ times a game then Jaron makes for a good grab. Especially if John Brown or any other WR on the team misses any more time. Owned in 10% of leagues.
Devin Funchess CAR - Funchess is looking like he will have a bigger role now that Greg Olsen is down for a while with an injury. Funchess has a similar build to Tight Ends and will fill those holes often. Finishing this week with 7 reception son 9 targets for 70 yards. Newton doesn’t have many other options and Funchess should be a good WR3/Flex in the next 3 weeks ( DET, PHI, CHI ) . Currently he is only owned in 13% of leagues.
Kendall Wright CHI - Wright could be a risky play depending on how Mitchell Trubisky decides he wants to run the offense. However, Wright is probably the most talented and dependable receiver that is healthy for the Bears right now… Kendall has played decently this year and is worthy of a roster spot in a lot of formats strictly because he is the WR1 in Chicago and should continue to see around 6-7 targets a game. Owned in less than 7% of leagues.
Evan Engram NYG - With Odell healthy the Giants have looked half way decent on offense and Engram has carved out a nice role in it. The last 3 games he has 15 receptions for over 160 yards. Not half bad considering what most Tight ends have been doing. Currently owned in 24% of leagues.
Cameron Brate TB - Just like last year it seems that often times when Winston is looking for a safety net he looks to Brate. Although he is often looked over Brate has looked good over the last two games with looks in the red zone and converted on 2 of them. If you’re tight end isn’t getting it done or has a buy week then Brate is worth a grab this week vs. New England...currently the worst defense in the league.
Oakland (vs. BAL) - The Baltimore offense has not been anything special this year and the Oakland pass rush is halfway decent. Joe Flacco should see a good amount of pressure making him uncomfortable in the pocket. You probably won’t see a huge game from the Oakland Defense, but getting out of the week with 7-10 fantasy points is realistic. Owned in 21% of leagues.
Titans (vs. MIA) - See who they are playing? Unless something crazy happens and "Cool" Jay Cutler throws for 300 yards and 3 TDs then you should be ok for at least an above average defense week. Owned in 21% of leagues.
Look out: keep an eye on me
Wayne Gallman NYG, RB - Well it looks like there may be a new RB in New York to keep an eye on. Gillman rushed for 11 times on Sunday and managed 42 yards along with 2 receptions for 8 yards. Watch him in the next week or two, but if you have a spot for fliers and potential he could fill it for now.
Alex Collins BAL, RB - Collins looks great when he can hold onto the ball. The Ravens will keep giving him touches and once he proves worthy they may even give him lead back rush attempts with Buck Allen looking like he can’t handle it. Collins is definitely out there, but worth keeping an eye on in your watch list.
J.D McKissic SEA, RB - Everyone watching the Seattle game surely noticed the young McKissic making two difficult touchdowns look easy. He looks great catching the ball out of the backfield and is a great talent. Only problem is that the Seahawks RB situation is just as messy if not messier than the Saints and Baltimore with 3+ backs being used. Play this one slow and see what the next two weeks show. Cj Prosise, Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacey are sure to take big chunks of the snaps.
Juju Smith-Schuster PIT, WR - With Eli Rodgers inactive lately the young Juju has filled into the offense nicely. Whether it is due to double coverage on Antonio Brown or the rift between QB/WR last week, there was a void to fill and Smith stepped up. He has two touchdowns on the more and with the high powered offense he should see a couple more on the year. If you are in deeper leagues or are really strapped for WRs then Juju is worth a look.
Tyler Kroft CIN, TE - Kroft filled in exactly like he should’ve in week 4 vs Cleveland. Losing Tyler Eifert is a huge blow to this team and the need someone to fill that spot. Andy Dalton loves to through to this tight end and that alone should make Kroft pop up on almost every fantasy owner's radar. He may not be consistent, but he will have weeks that he has performances close to the one this last week.
Recap: Week 4 Leaders
Deshaun Watson HOU, 25/34 283 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT, 4 Rush 24 yards
Cam Newton CAR, 22/29 316 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 8 Rsh 44 yards
Andy Dalton CIN, 25/30 286 yards, 4 TD, 4 Rush 29 yards
Jameis Winston TB, 22/38 332 yards, 3 TD, 4 Rush 12 yards
DeAndre Hopkins HOU, 10 Rec 107 yards, 1 TD, 12 Targets
Devin Funchess CAR, 7 Rec, 70 yards, 2 TD, 9 Targets
Jordy Nelson GB, 4 Rec 75 yards, 2 TD, 7 Targets
Tyrell Williams LAC, 5 Rec 115 yards, 1 TD, 6 Targets
Michael Thomas NO, 8 Rec 89 Yards, 1 TD, 6 Targets
Le’Veon Bell PIT, 35 Rush, 144 yards, 2 TD, 4 Rec 42 yards, 6 Targets
Todd Gurley LAR, 23 Rush 121 yards, 7 Rec 94 Yards, 1 TD, 8 Targets
Bilal Powell NYJ, 21 Rush 163 yards, 1 TD, 4 Rec, 27 yards, 5 Targets
Ezekiel Elliott DAL, 21 Rush 163 yards, 1 TD, 4 rec 27 yards, 5 Targets
Lamar Miller HOU, 19 Rush 75 yards, 1 TD, 4 Rec, 56 yards, 5 Targets
Tyler Kroft CIN, 6 Rec 68 yards, 2 TD, 7 Targets
Travis Kelce KC, 6 Rec 101 yards, 1 TD, 7 Targets
Cameron Brate TB, 4 Rec 80 yards, 1 TD, 6 Targets
Charles Clay BUF, 5 Rec 112 yards, 7 Targets
A.J Derby DEN, 4 Rec 75 yards, 1 TD, 6 Targets
Seahawks, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 FR, 3 Sack, 16 PA
Texans, 1 TD, 4 INT, 1 FR, 2 Sack, 14 PA
Steelers, 2 INT, 2 FR, 4 Sack, 9 PA
Saints, 1 INT, 4 Sacks, 0 PA
Thanks for reading everyone! Make sure to check back in tomorrow morning as we post our position ranks for Week 5. Please share with your friends and comment with any questions you might have. Be on the lookout for our Podcast starting next week.
( Just so we are clear.....we are big Jay Cutler fans. It has just been hard to have faith lately, but we wish him the best this season. )
- M &D