April 23, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 10 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

We only have one more week of byes after this one so it is time to start focusing on your push for the playoffs. If you are comfortably in, then focus on those players who have great matchups in your league’s playoffs.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. I’ve got one big change to the Survivor options this week. There is a new team at number one.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington

Quarterback      

Up: Carson Palmer should be a starter in all leagues this week. The Raiders are without their top two RBs and their best RB left is a passing catching machine. I can see Palmer throwing the ball 40+ times and just on volume could get 300+ yards. I see him as a top 10 QB this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick should also be a top 12 option even if he is missing Stevie Johnson. Fitzpatrick was a top scorer in week four when he faced the Patriots even with four interceptions. The Patriots can’t get to the QB with any regularity and could be missing two top safeties.

Down: Eli Manning has really struggled over the last month and I don’t think a road game against a solid Cincinnati Bengals defense is the cure. Manning should finish outside of the top 12 this week. Manning needs to get all of his weapons healthy before he’s back to being “Eli-te.”

Cam Newton won’t be a top 12 option this week as I think the Denver defense can rattle him enough to keep him off balance all day. The Broncos have enough speed on defense to keep him bottled up and they have defensive backs that can track with Steve Smith.

Running back

Up: Isaac Redman is must start against a Chiefs team that is moribund. I see the Steelers doing what they want to do all game long and Redman should be the beneficiary of this largesse. Sure, Jonathan Dwyer is back in the mix, but there should more than enough to go around. Dwyer is a viable flex play in deeper leagues.

Mikel LeShoure looks to have a tough matchup against the Vikings. However, if we look at the last three weeks, the Vikes have given up 100 yards to each starting RB.  I don’t think LeShoure will reach 100 yards (as his upside is limited by the presence of Joique Bell, who is a good flex option this week), but I can see 75 yards and a TD.

Daniel Thomas is in this space again this week as great flex play this week as the Dolphins faceoff a Titans defense that is friendly to anyone it sees. Thomas’ workload has increased as the Dolphins seem to be limiting Reggie Bush carries (either due to nagging injuries or the desire to increase Thomas’ reps). I could see Thomas sneaking into RB2 land this week, but more likely will remain only a flex option.

Mark Ingram is supposedly fully healthy for the first time this year.  There are many calling him a disappointment, but I don’t see how anyone can evaluate him due to injury and lack of playing time. The Saints do not utilize the running back to run the ball, but if Ingram is finally back to 100%, he might be an interesting stash in deeper leagues.

Oh, and I said monitor Doug Martin last week to see how Carl Nicks’ injury affected him. I think you can stop monitoring. He looks a-OK.

Down: Shonn Greene should not be starting in most leagues this week. He faces the Seahawks in Seattle and I can’t see Greene doing much of anything at all against the defense. My hat seems safe for another week.

I don’t like Ryan Matthews as anything more than a flex play this week. The Bucs have been up and down against RBs, but with their offense clicking I think the Chargers will have to play from behind limiting Matthews carries.

Wide Receiver

Up: Emmanuel Sanders is said to be splitting time with Jerricho Cotchery, but Sanders is the one with the upside. I can see him being a good flex play this week in all leagues against the Chiefs.

Golden Tate has WR3 updside today as the Jets defense shuts down #1 WRs, but is only league average against #2s. I like Tate for another TD catch this week and about 70 yards.

Kenny Britt is excited. Jake Locker is back. Britt should be back in your lineup and hope for WR1 production this week out of Britt who has been harmed by nagging injuries and Matt Hasselbeck.

For the Vikings, there should be more targets for Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins. Simpson has the upside, but Christian Ponder hasn’t seemed to be able to connect with Simpson. I like Jenkins to pick up the slack for the Vikes and he is a solid flex play (especially in PPR). Simpson is more of a desperation call as he could get on the end of a long TD throw, but that’s probably it for him.

And if you have room for him, grab Andre Roberts or Michael Floyd. They are on bye this week and are on many a waiver wire. The Cardinals offense should improve in the next couple of weeks with Kevin Kolb and Beanie Wells soon to return.

Down:  Lance Moore is not an option for me in most leagues today. The Falcons have been very good against WRs this year and Moore is still working his way back from injury. I think he’s a flex option this week at best.

Dwayne Bowe is also nothing better than a flex option for this week. The Steelers have been great at shutting down WR1s all year long. I expect five catches for 60 yards for Bowe. If that performance is useful in your league’s scoring system, start him. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

I’d drop Torrey Smith down a notch this week to a low-end WR2. There has been talk of the Ravens rotating in other WRs and coming off their bye week is a great time to incorporate new wrinkles into the offense.

Tight End

Up: Scott Chandler is a top 10 option this week against a poor Patriots defense that will likely be without Patrick Chung at safety. The Bills may also be down top WR Stevie Johnson so Ryan Fitzpatrick will look more often to his athletic TE, especially in the red zone.

With Percy Harvin out, I can see Kyle Rudolph picking up some additional targets. His value lies in TDs though so he’s a tough guy to put in your lineup. He’s more of a desperation play in my opinion.

Down: Heath Miller is a popular choice this week as he faces a weak Chiefs defense. However, the Chiefs haven’t given up much in the way of fantasy points to TEs. That isn’t necessarily because the Chiefs have a great defense. I imagine some of it is due to the fact that offenses facing the Chiefs don’t have to use all of their weapons to win. Miller should finish outside of the top 12 for TEs this week.

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. I don’t care that the Packers are on a bye this week.

Kicker

Up: Dan Carpenter has been hot since a slow start and makes a good bye week fill-in this week. He’s made nine of his last 11 FGs (with his only two misses being 50+ yard attempts) Morever, the Titans give up a ton of FG opportunities to opponents.

Defense

Up: I mentioned the Pittsburgh Steelers in my column earlier this week. This is just a reminder as they play the lowly Chiefs with Matt Cassel at the helm. The Steelers do not have playmakers on defense or special teams so a TD may be too much to ask, but they should see 2+ turnovers and a few sacks while holding the Chiefs to less than 14 points.

I’d bump the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the top 12 as they face a San Diego Chargers team that will likely be without LT Jared Gaither. They should be able to get to the QB with ease and Philip Rivers can be a turnover machine when he’s pressured.

Down: The San Diego Chargers had a breakout performance against the Chiefs last week. It won’t happen again this week as they face off against a Tampa Bay team that has turned into an offensive juggernaut, protects the QB and doesn’t turn the ball over.

I know Percy Harvin is out, but I do not like the Detroit Lions this week against the Vikings. The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson and will likely run him as much as they can. Moreover, I can see them trying some other ‘trickeration’ to attempt to make up for Harvin’s absence. I wouldn’t count on the Lions being top 12 this week.

Survivor

Week nine allowed most of us to skate through to see another week in Survivor. The only team in the top 10 to lose last week was Washington taking 3.3% of entries out of Office Football Pool (though it took almost 11% out of my largest pool). It’s been a bit too easy the last three weeks. I have to think a big surprise is on the horizon to take out a large number of entries.

I’ve got a big update (well, at least in my eyes) below as I change a bit of my thinking for this week and beyond.

Bye week: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington

Survivor Pool – Week 10 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Sunday morning:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

51.90%

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

59.98%

2

San Francisco 49ers

15.50%

2

San Francisco 49ers

12.98%

3

New England Patriots

10.50%

3

New England Patriots

7.10%

4

Baltimore Ravens

9.50%

4

Baltimore Ravens

5.65%

5

Seattle Seahawks

4.90%

5

Indianapolis Colts (W)

4.71%

6

Miami Dolphins

2.60%

6

Seattle Seahawks

3.43%

7

Indianapolis Colts (W)

2.50%

7

Denver Broncos

2.48%

8

Denver Broncos

1.10%

8

Miami Dolphins

1.51%

9

New York Giants

0.80%

9

New York Giants

1.17%

10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.30%

10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0.23%

 

We have two double digit favorites to choose from at the top of the pile. Is there any concern with either of them? Where does the value lie? What if neither of the big favorites is available?

As you may have noticed, I’ve moved the Ravens up from third to first and slid the 49ers and Steelers down one slot each. Why have I done this? Well, I’ve decided to look ahead, something I do not like to do in survivor. So much can change from week to week with injuries, that looking ahead is a fool’s pursuit. Color me a fool this week.

The Ravens are good at home and poor on the road. Looking at their remaining schedule, they have @PIT, @SD, PIT, @WAS, DEN, NYG and then wrap up @CIN. The Ravens are never a play for me on the road and their remaining home games are likely to have them favored by one point or less in every game.

The Ravens are a seven point favorite this week. If you do not use them this week, you won’t use them for the rest of the season. I’m putting Baltimore at the top as I think they are a better value than Pittsburgh. Depending on your pool, the 49ers might be a better value as they have a better chance to win, but there may be more entries with San Francisco left.

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens are a far different team (and Joe Flacco a far different QB) at home than on the road. The Raiders may have a guy named for a country in Asia as their lead RB this week. The Raiders are coming east to face the Ravens for a one o’clock game. There was terrible news on Saturday with four year old son of Raiders’ defensive line coach Terrell Williams dying. I am sure this will give an emotional lift to the Raiders. I give the Ravens a 75% chance of winning.
  2. San Francisco 49ers – Your pool may vary, but the value play is San Francisco. There are few players who have the 49ers available and they are in the same neighborhood in terms of a chance of winning this week. The concern with San Francisco is they have scored only 16 points total in their last two home games (one a loss to the Giants). The Rams (coming off a bye) are due to get playmaker Danny Amendola back which makes the Rams offense dangerous. I believe the 49ers defense is too much for the Rams. I give the 49ers an 81% of winning the game.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are hot. The Chiefs are cold. The Steelers have injuries on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs are awful on both sides of the ball whether they are healthy or injured. The Chiefs are led by professional turnover machine Matt Cassel at QB. The Chiefs give every team they face so many extra opportunities with those turnovers that the Steelers should be able to overcome the Chiefs. I have the Steelers third because I think you can get better value in your pool by choosing either Baltimore or San Francisco. I give the Steelers an 85% of winning the game.
  4. New England Patriots – I have no rational reason for moving the Patriots down to number five four other than they’ve burned me once and come close to burning me a second time. The Bills are off their bye and do have dynamic offensive weapons. However, I do see the Patriots winning this game without too much of an issue. I give the Patriots a 74% chance to win.
  5. Seattle Seahawks – Oh, the Seahawks love to be at home as well. The Link is a tough place to play. The Seahawks have already defeated the Patriots there. Their marauding defense should be able to confuse Mark Sanchez and force the Jets to throw. I give the Seahawks a 71% chance to win.

Other teams I like early in the week: None

As for the avoid list, I doubt there will be too many people on teams other than the 49ers and Steelers. If you can’t use one of the five I’ve listed above, I would stay away from Indianapolis Colts off the short week in Jacksonville. The Colts had an emotional win last week and are going to a Jaguars team that hasn’t looked as bad as its talent suggests

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d take the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints have been bad, but they are at home against at Falcons team which may be looking past them as the Saints have struggled mightily for much of the season.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

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