It feels like we’re just getting started with Carson Wentz and Eagles here in Philadelphia, but the 2016 NFL season is already a month old and most teams have played a quarter of their schedule. And from a fantasy perspective, once the calendar flips to October, your studs fall victim one by one to the insidious bye week. The byes are crazy early this year and anyone who owns Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Matthews, or Jordy Nelson probably wasn’t too happy with the events of the past weekend. The Eagles and Packers both had off after playing only three games and that’s way too soon to be dipping into your bench or (heaven forbid) dumpster diving in the Week 4 waiver wire.
Four teams are off this week, which isn’t a ton but still enough to create lineup problems all over your league. Four teams on byes is the most we’ll get until Week 8, when six (!) teams will have off and you’ll find yourself saying things like “Jets need to get Bilal Powell some goal line looks here.” Hopefully nothing like that this week for you though, here’s a list of notable players not participating this Sunday.
Week Five Byes
Chiefs – Spencer Ware, Travis Kelce, Jamaal Charles (maybe?)
Jaguars – Allen Robinson, Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, TJ Yeldon, Julius Thomas
Saints – Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas
Seahawks – Russell Wilson, Christine Michael (who woulda thought), Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham
Got a bunch of questions this week, so thanks to everyone who sent them in. As always, I apologize in advance.
I’m saying Blount here, but I’ll explain why I don’t like the other two guys first. Jackson’s problem is Kirk Cousins, who’s so lost he’s about to be cast in a Blair Witch sequel. He targeted Jackson twice against the Browns lousy defense despite holding a comfortable lead for all of two minutes. Jay Gruden is slowly (emphasis on that) realizing he can’t ask Cousins to throw 45 times a game and we got a lot of Matt Jones last week instead. I know it’s a little too early for team stats to matter, but the Ravens defense is allowing the fewest yards per game in the league. Washington hasn’t faced a defense like this yet and the O/U is 45, the lowest of the year for the Skins by two full points despite all four of their previous games going over. He’ll need to score to be worth it, so it’s a gamble.
Dorsett is kinda the same thing, I thought he’d get a ton of looks with Donte Moncrief out but he’s done nothing outside of one long TD reception on a different continent. He had six targets in Week 1, five in Week 2, four in Week 3, and three in Week 4 – no bueno. Besides, the Colts offensive line can’t keep Andrew Luck upright long enough for Dorsett to get downfield anyway.
I’m going Blount because he’s the most consistent player of the three and believe it or not, I think the Pats will run a lot on Sunday. The Browns do one thing well this year – run the football. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are both averaging over six yards a carry and despite the 0-4 record, the Browns average 149 rush yards per game, tops in the NFL. Belichick will want them to pass and the best way to do that is run it a ton yourself. Yes, Tom Brady is back, but Rob Gronkowski isn’t healthy and I think the Pats will continue to give Blount enough work (and goal line carries) to make him worthwhile.
This is your last chance, Tate. Golden Tate was a favorite in preseason due to the departure of Calvin Johnson, but Marvin Jones has been the star through four weeks and Tate has left his owners pretty unhappy. He’s not a deep threat so volume is key, which wasn’t a problem last year when he had nine games with six or more catches. Right now, we’ll take ONE game with six catches. Marvin Jones is on the injury report this week and Stafford will have to go Tate more often in theory, but he’s on the Do Not Trust list until further notice. I wouldn’t cut him with byes coming up though. The Lions defense stinks and they can’t run the ball, so Tate has to fall into an 8-catch, 100-yard day soon, right? Right??
(If you’re in a 10-team league, you can probably cut him)
Go to hell, Dontrelle Inman. After two straight weeks of fantasy competence, Tyrell Williams watched Inman have a career day against the putrid Saints. If you’re like me, you were salivating at that match-up and Williams’ results in the game were a huge letdown. But he still saw eight targets and had the 2nd most WR snaps behind Inman, plus he caught a ball inside the one for no gain that had to pull your hair out if you started him.
Duke Johnson gets the Tom Brady Return game this week and I expect the Browns spend most of the day playing catch-up. That’s good news in PPR leagues, but Johnson probably needs to haul in 7-8 passes to be a effective and Williams is much, much more likely to find the end zone. Chargers are gonna be in shootouts all year, so I’m rolling with Tyrell Williams to have a bounce back game against a Raiders secondary allowing 325 pass yards per game.
This question would seem absurd in August, but check out these numbers:
Crabtree: 37 targets, 26 catches, 308 yards, 4 TDS
Cooper: 35 targets, 20 catches, 318 yards, 0 TDs
The targets are close, but Cooper’s catch rate stinks and you’ll notice the big red zero. I know three of Crabtree’s scores came last week, but a four touchdown head start will be hard for anyone to make up. But going forward, I think Cooper has more value. He’s a the more talented receiver and he’ll eventually start catching some long TD passes from Derek Carr. Crabtree is the red zone target and I think he finishes with more points than Cooper, but a lot of that has to do with the four TD head start. Sell high on Crabtree, buy low on Cooper would be my plan here.
Eagles defense all the way, baby. They sack the QB, create turnovers, and play with an offense that always has the ball. Steelers are always banged up and the Bills probably hit their high water mark with the 16-0 shutout of the Pats. When it comes to defenses, you just don’t want someone dropping 40 on you and I think Eagles are the best bet for that. Also, please don’t ask about defenses anymore.
My favorite question of the week and a tough one to answer based on the information we have so far. Here’s how I see it:
4) Spencer Ware – He’s only valuable if Jamaal Charles gets hurt again, which I guess isn’t super far-fetched. But I wouldn’t count on him producing the way he did in the first few weeks and he just doesn’t catch enough passes for PPR leagues.
3) Duke Johnson – The Browns can run the ball this year and Duke’s a really good receiver out of the backfield, but this is the Browns and they don’t score much. Johnson only had two touchdowns last year and hasn’t found the end zone yet in 2016. He’s a good guy to plug in for bye weeks, but I wouldn’t depend on him much unless the match-up is juicy.
2) Tevin Coleman – Coleman gets goal line carries AND catches passes on third down, that’s fantasy heroin right there. The Falcons have a big enough offense for two backs and while he’s not the main guy, he gets the ball enough to be startable. Solid RB2 most weeks, but he’ll lay an egg every now and then if he doesn’t score.
1) Dion Lewis – Good things come to those who wait, and if you can stash and hold Lewis on your roster for Week 7, do it. In seven games last year, Lewis was targeted 50 times by Tom Brady and had at least four catches in every game. Throw in two touchdowns on the ground and two more through the air and you’ve got a guy you can start comfortably most weeks. With Brady, Gronk, and Lewis returning, I don’t think the Pats are getting shut out any time soon. I mean Belichick might drop 60 on Cleveland this week. Lewis is reportedly healthy and ready to go after his PUP list stint ends in Week 6 and I think he’s got the best chance of being a consistent performer. (Important note: I may have picked him up this week).
There’s a caveat here, however. Lewis is coming off a pretty significant injury while Tevin Coleman is completely healthy. Coleman might be a safer pick, but Lewis has much more upside.
Thanks for letting me take your questions, when you find yourself down by 30 heading into Sunday night, feel free to yell at me on Twitter @DanS_SOTS. Let’s go Birds.