October 20, 2019

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week one held a series of surprises none bigger than Robert Griffin III and his Washington Redskins taking down the New Orleans Saints. Hopefully, you took my Survivor Pool advice from last week and stayed away from the Saints. Remember, along with a bad defense, the Saints are on their third-string head coach at the moment. This week, it looks like we have a no brainer to take in Survivor, but we’ll check some other options out as well. We’ll also walk through some start/sit decisions. As always, if you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Quarterback                               

Up: Cam Newton is due for a big day against a Saints defense that gave up 40 points at home to a rookie QB making his debut. I can’t see the Saints getting appreciably better (especially without those bounties) in one week. He should be the highest scoring QB this week.

Further down the rankings, I like Peyton Manning a bit more than most this week. He’s heading back to a dome and I believe the Falcons will get out quickly in their home opener. As a result, I can see the Denver Broncos abandoning the run and putting the ball in Manning’s hand to attempt to win.

Down: This column comes out after the Packers played in Week 2, but I’d start to be a bit concerned about Aaron Rodgers as a top three QB. The offense produced very little through the air and Packers coach Mike McCarthy remarked that he wanted to get Cedric Benson involved more in Week 2 which he did. Benson’s activity could chew directly into Rodgers productivity.  Monitor the situation to see if the Green Bay offense “clicks” as it did in the past.

I’d stay away from Michael Vick this week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens defense is better than the Cleveland Browns and Vick hasn’t gotten better at protecting the ball or reading blitzes. Expect a performance outside of the top 10 for QBs this week.

Running back

Up: The St. Louis Rams will once again be without Michael Brockers in the middle of their defensive line. For that reason, I’d upgrade the Redskins backfield. Oh, you want me to predict who you should start? Hmmm….The rumblings here in DC are that Evan Royster is in Mike Shanahan’s doghouse (tip of the cap to Kevin Sheehan at ESPN 980). Both Royster and Helu dealt with injuries in the preseason – both of the nagging variety so I still think Alfred Morris is the back to own in Week 2 and I like him to approach 100 yards this week. However, one mistake (a missed block, a dropped pass, an untied shoe) could land Morris at the back of the tailback line. Also, Morris’ 3.4 yards per carry last week was far from impressive. I don’t think his leash is long and I think Royster gets the next shot at the starting gig

Doug Martin had nearly 100 rushing yards in his debut against the Carolina Panthers. This week he faces off against the New York Giants on the road. I can see Bucs coach Greg Schiano leaning heavily on the rookie on the road. Moreover, the Giants gave up 6.6 yards per attempt to the Cowboys DeMarco Murray in Week 1.  Everyone knows about the Giants pass rush, but their linebackers are a mess right now as they are rotating players through to attempt to find a mix that works.

Mikel Leshoure is set to make his debut for the Detroit Lions next week. If you have an opening on your roster for a lottery ticket, he’s a good add. I’d rather have him than David Wilson of the Giants, LeGarrette Blount, Knowshon Moreno, anyone in San Diego or Isaiah Pead. Kevin Smith has shown he can’t stay healthy and Leshoure would slide into a prominent role on a high powered offense.

Down: Ahmad Bradshaw will struggle this week. The belief going into the opener was that the Carolina Panthers would run wild against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because the Bucs had one of the worst defenses last year. That was last year and that analysis was lazy (though I didn’t expect the Panthers to rush for close to zero yards.)

The Bucs have a new coaching staff, new scheme and they are a year older on defense (especially the youngsters Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy on the line. Plus, they drafted Mark Barron to start at strong safety. This is not the same Bucs defense and as a result I’d downgrade Bradshaw and Fumbling David Wilson. If the Giants are to win, it will be on the shoulder of Eli Manning and their defense.

Sticking in New York, the Jets Shonn Greene was not impressive. Yes, he scored a TD and picked up 94 yards. However, he did it at a 3.5 yard per carry average. His career average per game is 53.3 yards. If someone thinks that Greene is now a top 10 to 15 back because he’s developed, deal him now.

Avoid Steven Jackson this week as the Rams line is a mess and the Redskins have a solid front seven that should bottle Jackson up.

Wide Receiver

Up: Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown should both see a bit more breathing room for the Pittsburgh Steelers against a notoriously stingy Jets defense as Darrelle Revis sits out with a concussion. Moreover, it looks like the Jets may also use RB Joe McKnight as a defensive back at some point. Wallace should see more of an improvement in his numbers as Revis would have likely played him extensively, but upgrade both receivers.

Reggie Wayne will continue to be a PPR stud with the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck looked to him early and often and I don’t see Luck stopping. Wayne no longer has the ability to get behind defenses, so he’s not as big an asset in TD-heavy leagues, but he’s going to be the number one option in that offense all year long.

Brandon LaFell looks to be in line for a big game for the Carolina Panthers. The Saints gave up 40 points to the Redskins last week who have a young, athletic mobile QB with a rocket arm. Sound familiar? LaFell had just five targets last week, but scored. I could see 100 yards and another TD for LaFell this week.  And remember, he’s a third year WR which for some is a key season in a WR’s development. You can find other third year WR’s at this link. More of the theory is here.

Another third year WR, Golden Tate of the Seattle Seahawks, has moved into the starting lineup. That offense has a chance to be a very balanced attack and Tate could end up being a good bye week fill in going forward.

Down: Greg Jennings missed Week 2 with a groin injury. Jennings also struggled with a concussion during the preseason. It’s starting to look like this could be a season of nagging injuries for Jennings. I don’t believe he’ll be a top 15 WR this year and I’d look to deal him if you can find someone who still sees him as a top tier WR.

Andrew Hawkins caught eight passes on nine targets for the Cincinatti Bengals in the first game of the season. There has been speculation surround the number two WR for the Bengals all season. Many think that the Bengals have found their man. I don’t think he is the long term answer. At only 5 foot 7 inches tall and a listed 180 pounds, he does not have the size to sustain during an entire football season.

Tight End

Up: Coby Fleener looks like the TE to own for the Indianapolis Colts. He had 10 targets in the opener and Andrew Luck and Fleener have excellent chemistry.

Martellus Bennett wasn’t special, but he was effective as he grabbed four of his six targets and scored a TD. The New York Giants haven’t had a threat at TE since Mark Bavaro perhaps, but Bennett has great athleticism. It probably comes down to the offensive game plan if they choose to incorporate the TE into the offense.

For a one week matchup play, I really like Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings. The Indianapolis Colts LB crew is beat up so Rudolph should have a pretty easy time of it.

Down: This is really for next week since the Green Bay Packers have already played in Week 2, but I don’t think Jermichael Finley needs to be kept in shallow leagues. He’s got all of the physical gifts, but seemingly they haven’t fully translated into production.  In addition, he has an above average backup in D.J. Williams who will likely draw some targets from him as the season progresses.

Kicker

Up: Billy Cundiff of the Washington Redskins is still only owned in 28% of CBS leagues. He’s going to be a top 10 kicker this year so go out and get him now. Plus, this week he’s in a dome.

I also like Dan Carpenter of the Miami Dolphins for this week against the bend-but-don’t-break Oakland Raiders.

Down: Jay Feely of the Arizona Cardinals has a back injury though it is supposed to minor. There is no need to have a kicker on your roster with any type of injury so if he’s owned, drop him.

Defense

Up: It’s a road game and it’s a team going from west to east, but I like the Oakland Raiders defense this week at the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins showed little in Week 1 and I believe the Raiders should have a solid day against a talent-deficient Miami team even if it is on the road.

Down: The Denver Broncos had a great Week 1, but they are traveling to Atlanta and the dome so I would pass on them this week. Atlanta looked great on offense on the road last week and I only see them improving. Denver has a young and talented front seven, but Atlanta has too much firepower.

I might also stay away from the Houston Texans this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A healthy MJD should allow the Jags to do more on offense than last week.

IDP

I won’t cover a lot of IDPers every week as the player pool is too vast, but I will try to give a couple of ideas for everyone.

DL – Don’t drop Chris Long yet, but don’t start him this week. I’m still high on him, but I’d like to see Michael Brockers return from injury first to get a true read on Long’s value.

The New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan spoke glowingly of rookie Quinton Coples in the preseason. Coples showed little in the opener, but keep him on your watch list. He could have a huge impact in the sack department in 2012.

LB – The Bengals lost middle linebacker Thomas Howard for the season. An injury is generally a great way to find an untapped resource. However, in this situation, that’ snot the case. As Rotoworld notes, it won’t be a one for one swap. Dan Skuta will get the early downs most likely, but this injury just narrows the pool of viable LBs in deeper leagues.

Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo should have a field day against the Rams patchwork line. I expect at least one sack from each.

With Colin McCarthy out for the Week 2 for the Tennesse Titans, Will Witherspoon slides over to MLB and makes a sneaky play this week

DB – Cortland Finnegan against a rookie QB should be a good matchup for Finnegan. Look for him to continue his success against the Redskins this week.

A reminder that Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns is suspended for the next four games so find a substitute for him until he returns.

Ronde Barber isn’t getting any younger, but I like him in his new roles as a safety. He could play for a couple of more years and it looks like he’s going to be a playmaker in that role. He should end up as a top 10 DB this season if he stays healthy.

For more injury information, Stephania Bell’s blog at ESPN is invaluable.

Survivor Pool – Week 2 selections

I was quite pleased with my choices as all three teams made it through, my road winner came through and the Saints lost to the Redskins. As I was researching what other places said about the Saints (most places listed them as a good bet) I ran across the ESPN Insider number crunching site which had the Saints as the best bet of the week. They covered a bit of their methodology in this week’s piece and it uncovered a glaring weakness. When discussing Robert Griffin III, the author said that when they simulate games with rookie players, they assume that the rookie is league average. League average! Griffin showed he’s better than league average and as the number two overall pick, that’s the hope. I wonder if the authors might re-think the algorithms used for picking winners and losers.

The key for Week 2 is to not overreact to what we saw in Week 1. Perhaps there is a surprise team that we now believe is better than we thought or a team that looked bad in Week 1 who we believe will continue to perform poorly. Temper your impressions from Week 1 as we turn to Week 2. First, the top 10 from OfficeFootballPool.com and ESPN Eliminator Challenge:

Office FootballPool

 

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

 

Picks

% of all pools

   

Picks

% of all pools

1 Patriots 44.60%   1 New England Patriots

39.80%

2 Giants 15.00%   2 Cincinnati Bengals

13.60%

3 Bengals 14.20%   3 Houston Texans

11.70%

4 Texans 7.80%   4 New York Giants

9.20%

5 Chargers 5.70%   5 Washington Redskins

5.80%

6 49ers 3.40%   6 Dallas Cowboys

3.30%

7 Redskins 1.70%   7 Oakland Raiders

3.30%

8 Cowboys 1.60%   8 San Diego Chargers

2.70%

9 Steelers 1.50%   9 Green Bay Packers

2.10%

10 Raiders 1.20%   10 Minnesota Vikings

1.30%

My three choices for Week 2 are:

  1. New England Patriots – Here is the no-brainer that I talked about at the beginning of this column. The line for this game opened at 12.5 and has hit 15 at one shop. The Cardinals are coming east, seem to have no quarterback and have a mess in the backfield. Their defense is average, but I don’t see their offense being able to keep up with the Pats. I give New England an 85% chance to win this game.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are playing the hapless Cleveland Browns at home. The Browns defense looked solid in Week 1 even if it seemed like most of the Philadelphia Eagles offensive players hadn’t played organized football. The Browns will be without their top cover corner Joe Haden for the next four games. Unfortunately, they will have QB Brandon Weeden under center for this game. Unless Trent Richardson carries the load to the tune of 30 carries (which is possible as the Bengals lost starting MLB Thomas Howard for the season this week), I see the Bengals winning by at least a touchdown. I give the Bengals a 70% chance of winning.
  3. San Francisco 49ers – The Niners are seven point favorites as of Saturday and the Detroit Lions will be travelling outside the comfort of their dome home. The Lions lost at home to the 49ers last year, so the Lions could be out for revenge, but the San Francisco defense can handle a one-dimensional offense like the Lions.

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the New York Giants even though they are at home and favored by seven. I don’t see them covering the seven points as the Bucs are not nearly as bad as imagined. And the Giants look to be soft against the run and Doug Martin can exploit that weakness. I still believe the Giants have a better than 50% chance to win, but the margin will be thin and that’s not enough for me when the Patriots should be on the board for everyone.

I’d also stay away from Washington Redskins. In an odd twist, the Redskins and Rams have played each other six of the last seven years and the record is 3-3 with only the 2007 win being dominant for the Redskins. For whatever reason, the Rams give them fits. The Redskins still have a rookie QB and they are going into a dome. Moreover, Griffin’s favorite target from Week 1, Pierre Garçon is a game time decision and may be less than 100% should he play.

The Rams do have a banged up offensive line so if the Redskins can exploit that with the run they should be OK. But, there are plenty of safer choices and I’d rather keep a team like Washington for later when we have more data on Griffin.

This is not a week to get cute in the Survivor. Take the big favorite – survive and advance!

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.

 

About Chris Garosi

Chris Garosi is a Contributor to District Sports Page. He has played fantasy sports since paper, pencil and fax machines were key components in every league. He’s written about fantasy sports since 2012 for District Sports Page, TheFantasyFix.com, Scout Fantasy and RotoCurve. He’s even available to you via DraftValet. He has his MBA from The Smith School at the University of Maryland. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi

Comments

  1. Arg!! You sonnanna beesh!

    Pats killed me.

  2. Chris Garosi says:

    Kb-

    It won’t make you feel any better, but the Pats killed me (and about 50% of all pools) too. Of the 9 entries I have in various pools, 7 are now done because of the Pats. I’m not sure which is more frustrating – that Belichick has decided that Welker is the #3 WR or that Gostkowski couldn’t make a 42 yard field goal.

    I imagine I jinxed everyone by calling it a no brainer.

    -Chris

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