Waking up on Sunday morning, everything seemed like normal for Calvin Johnson owners. The sun had risen, birds were chirping and most importantly there still was no zombie apocalypse. While enjoying their morning coffees, owners turned on the TV to watch their favorite NFL pregame show. For the sake of this story, let’s assume it was ESPN and people were tuning in to watch Adam Schefter preach to them.
Then something happened. Skies darkened, lights began flickering and a thunderous silence filled the air (okay, maybe that was just for dramatic effect). Adam Schefter came on the TV and shocked the hell out of the viewing audience.
“Calvin Johnson is inactive”
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WHAT? NO! How is that even possible? Practice reports all week were as they always are with Calvin: no practice on Wednesday and then limited the rest of the week. That has become common practice with Megatron. Honestly, as a Calvin owner, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I, along with all his other owners, was absolutely crushed.
What went wrong? Who knows. Detroit is being cryptic with this injury which is starting to scare me. One thing is for sure: I am downgrading Calvin Johnson until further notice. Megatron always plays through pain and hadn’t missed a game since week 17 of 2010. If this pain actually was enough to keep the big man out, then it probably isn’t something minor. Reggie Bush already came out and said the team is preparing as if Calvin won’t play this week. While that doesn’t mean he’s not playing, it’s not a good sign either. On the flip side, Browns’ coach Rob Chudzinski says the team is preparing as if Calvin is playing. In all honesty, this could be a front and Jim Schwartz could be preparing for him to play. I mean Calvin did say he was “close, real close” to playing last week. Either way, this injury scares me and we will not have an answer until Sunday morning it seems. If you can get Dez Bryant for Calvin at this point, I would make the move. In fact, I have both Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant ranked ahead of Calvin moving forward. It just seems like there is enough going on with Calvin to worry, so you may want to sell him at fair price if you can get it………especially if you are 1-4 or 0-5.
All that being said, here are some players whose values have changed significantly since this time last week. Remember I try my best not to be so obvious with the players I choose.
Tony Romo – BOOM BABY! Holy Romo explosion! 506 yards and 5 TDs but yet all the media can talk about is the one interception he threw. C’mon man. In the NFL, if you score 48 points, you’ve done enough to win. If you can’t win from there, that’s on your defense. Romo proved he was up to the task against an elite team and guess what? The teams in his division are terrible. He still plays five games against his division which are three of the worst teams/defenses in football. I’m sorry but Romo is a borderline elite fantasy QB…..whether you like hearing it or not.
Pierre Thomas – Looks like someone relishes Mark Ingram’s absence. In week 5, Thomas didn’t exactly make the most of his 16 carries (36 yards), but he out Sproles-ed Sproles. Thomas led the running back tandem in receptions with 9 for 55 yards and 2 TD. Sean Payton has always trusted Pierre Thomas and now he’s letting him run away with the lead back role. Darren Sproles no doubt still has value because his blazing speed is an absolute asset, but Thomas is multi-talented in his own right. While I wouldnt’ go too crazy trying to get Thomas, realize he has the potential to be a top 20 back in this Saints’ offense. Just know that Sproles still received half the carries in the red zone this week, so the TDs will be inconsistent.
Willis McGahee – RBBC? What you talkin’ bout Willis? 26 carries, 72 yards and a TD later, we have ourselves the new Michael Turner. Is there going to be huge upside? No, probably not considering the YPC won’t be there. McGahee is not really an explosive runner. Like other bruising backs, however, McGahee will get the tough yards which will make him effective. Beginning to look like a younger McGahee, he should be able to get around 4 YPC on a million carries and specialize around the goal line. As long as he is getting goal line carries, he is worth a start on nearly any week. You can’t predict touchdowns but you can predict who would get them if they’re going to occur. McGahee is your man as a RB2/FLEX if you need one.
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Andre Ellington – Scat backs are becoming the new fad of the NFL. They remind me of the football version of hats with the sticker still on. Ellington looked like the more effective back this week. Actually, Mendenhall seems like just another guy. I have to assume the explosiveness Ellington showed earned him an every week role in this offense. It brought a new element that it had been lacking: a home run threat. Fitzgerald is just old reliable at this point and isn’t really the big play threat he once was. Ellington is: just like Sproles, Woodhead and to some degree, Roy Helu. These guys have nice value in PPR leagues in fantasy, and this week Ellington put himself on the map.
Harry Douglas/Levine Toilolo – Remember the kids who were the last pick in gym class? Well, Harry Douglas and Levine Toilolo once upon a time were the last pick for coach Mike Smith to throw to in the Falcons’ offense. Unfortunately for the Falcons, all their top picks in gym class suffered injuries this season. We are now witnessing the all-replacement offense in Atlanta. Still, Matt Ryan is a good enough quarterback that there will be some production to be had. The top beneficiaries will be Harry Douglas and Levine Toilolo. Douglas will be a PPR, move the chains type receiver better suited for deeper leagues. Toilolo is a 6’8 target that probably will get most of his looks in the red zone. From here on out, he may be something resembling Kyle Rudolph from last year (but the lite version). Both have value in the right situation, whereas last week they didn’t.
Pierre Garcon – Giving RG3 a week off just can’t be a bad thing. So far this season, he’s seemed timid towards running but I believe it’s because he hasn’t been 100%. He probably shouldn’t have been playing in the first few weeks of this season, so more time to rest should help. With that being said, the healthier he gets, the better news it is for his #1 target: Pierre Garcon. It’s not like Garcon has been quiet so far this season. In every game this year, Garcon has caught at least 6 passes and gone for at least 64 yards or a TD. If RG3 can buy time with his legs in the pocket, that should give Garcon more time to get open down field. If and when he does, he could be even more of a monster. Yes, Garcon may have top 5 WR upside for the rest of the year if he stays healthy.
Terrence Williams – Dez Bryant is a beast, but every super hero needs a sidekick. If you need a reliable sidekick, it’s harder to be more reliable than converting all 4 targets for 151 yards and a TD. Miles Austin’s hamstring issues never go away. Seriously, three things you can rely on are death, taxes and Miles Austin’s hamstring flaring up. Even if Austin comes back, he’s one wrong step away from three more missed games. Romo is developing a nice rapport with Williams, the former third round draft pick. If Williams continues to impress, I think Miles Austin will become a forgotten entity in this offense.
Justin Blackmon – Eat my shorts, Cecil. That’s what Justin said to his receiving mate on Sunday in regards to who really is the team’s top pass catcher. While Blackmon received one less target than Shorts (10 to 9), he made the most out of it. When all said and done, Blackmon recorded 5 receptions for 136 yards and a TD. Surprisingly, the Jaguars actually completed three passes of 20+ yards between Blackmon and Cecil Shorts including Blackmon’s long TD. Blackmon is clearly an elite talent having been selected 9th overall in 2012. Considering the Jaguars are always behind, Blackmon should get plenty of volume thrown his way. Seeing that Blaine Gabbert will be sidelined for a while, the odds of him converting those targets just became increasingly likely.
Garrett Graham – Let’s do the math: Graham was the 13th highest scoring fantasy TE after last week and Owen Daniels was #10. Owen Daniels now goes down and there’s really no other TE worthy of targets. Can you do that sort of arithmetic in your head? Okay, let me clarify then: Garrett Graham should immediately become a top 10 fantasy TE. All the TE targets will be flying his way, and considering all Schaub does is look to TE in the red zone (6 of 8 passing TD for the Texans have been to the TE), Graham should prove to be a waiver wire gem.
Rob Gronkowski – Could it be? Could it really be true? Could the man so many teams have been relying on as their fantasy savior finally be ready to take the field? All indications say yes. Multiple reports say Dr. James Andrews just needs to clear Gronkowski as the final step but he is expected to play for the first time this season. Immediately pencil him in as a TE1. Anytime Gronkowski suits up, he is a threat to go for 2 TD. Looking at the lack of options around him, he essentially has to be the team’s look in the red zone. Don’t think Brady has forgotten about him. Starting this week, Gronkowski will once again be terrorizing your fantasy opponents. Consider yourself lucky if you’ve stayed afloat while waiting because your investment is about to pay off in a huge way.
Cam Newton – Um, I thought he was a running quarterback? Exactly four rushing attempts in two of the last three games? Last year he averaged about eight. If Mike Shula truly wants to take Newton’s biggest strength out of the playbook then he’s just another guy. Sometimes offensive coordinators amaze me. TAILOR YOUR OFFENSE TO THE PLAYERS, NOT TO WHAT YOU’RE USED TO! THAT’S WHAT BEING A GOOD COORDINATOR IS ALL ABOUT! Sorry for that rant, but I had to get it out. In terms of where I’d value Cam for the rest of the season, he’s holding at about the 12-15 QB range until I see improvement. The good news is the next two games should be the perfect elixir to turn things around (@MIN, STL).
Trent Richardson – Maybe he’s just not as good as we all thought he was. Most drafted him in the first round as about the RB9, but maybe he’s more in the RB12-14 range. Everyone thought the switch to Indianapolis would turn his career around but so far, so bad. His YPC actually decreased from 3.4 in two games with Cleveland to 3.0 in three games with Indy. Things don’t get any easier this week as San Diego is allowing the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. I’d sell him in a PPR if I could get someone like Reggie Bush for him.
LaGarrette Blount – I was fooled by one long run in week 5. LaGarrette Blount is what LaGarrette Blount is. If you don’t know how to take that, let me fill you in; it’s not good. Blount averaged 4.25 YPC on 12 carries but he doesn’t catch passes and with Ridley back his goal line role is questionable. If I had to rank Patriots backs the rest of the season, I’d go Ridley, Vereen, Bolden and then Blount. As soon as Ridley is back, don’t hesitate on sending LGB packing.
Bilal Powell – Ugh, Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory were unwanted visitors for Powell owners. From week 5 to week 6, Powell went from a workhorse back to just one of three in a committee. Goodson made the most of his touches, averaging 10+ YPC (on 3 carries) and 1 REC for 9 YDS. Ivory also saw 4 carries and averaged nearly 7 YPC. Sure, Powell is still the guy for now, but his upside is now severely capped. Powell’s upside in fantasy was because of the pure volume and now his volume should reduce significantly. Outside of a FLEX in 12 team leagues, I’m losing interest quickly.
David Wilson – Neck problems (a must watch video) have transformed Wilson’s terrible year into virtually a lost year. Wilson owners can’t just go find a replacement either. Brandon Jacobs and Da’Rel Scott are both pretty terrible. I’d advise going to get Andre Brown now if he is still available in your league. Wilson has had to battle for Coughlin’s trust this year, and now will have even a tougher battle against a injury to a tricky part of the body. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are extra cautious with him and Andre Brown returns to the field sooner than he does.
Roddy White (and obviously Julio Jones) – By now, I’m sure you all have heard Julio Jones is out for the year with a re-aggravation of his 2011 foot injury. I won’t even go into why that means you should downgrade him. I assume all of you reading this are intelligent enough to figure that one out. Roddy White, however, suffered a hamstring injury in week 5 unrelated to the high ankle sprain he had already been dealing with. For those hoping that the bye week was timed perfectly and would limit damage, well, guess again. Reports say Roddy White will miss multiple games with this new injury. I don’t know what to say about this one. You’re going to have to wait it out because selling White at this point will net you nothing. Good luck.
A.J. Green – Will the real A.J. Green please stand up? In three of his last four games, he’s recorded 61 receiving yards or less without a TD. What’s going on here? This is supposed to be an elite WR who can take anybody. In fairness, in those three games he was matched up against Ike Taylor, Joe Haden and Aqib Talib; three of the best cover corners in football. He should turn things around this week against Buffalo, but if he doesn’t consider me officially worried.
Coby Fleener – I’m like the kiss of death. It seems like all the guys I write on value up end up in value down the following week. Every week is an absolute surprise as to whether we get a blow up or dud from this Indy TE. Fleener has three complete duds out of five, so I can’t trust him as an every week starter moving forward. He, like most other tight ends, is a weekly match up play.