“Ugh,” you mutter softly to yourself while looking at the screen on your treadmill. It seems like you have been on the machine forever and sweat has begun to take over your shirt. Somehow, someway the screen tells you that only half your workout has been completed so far.
That’s where we stand in fantasy football: chugging along with a heavy, sweat-drenched shirt but realistically nowhere near done. Week 7 marks the regular season more than halfway over but there is plenty of work to be done.
Stopping a run short is incredibly disheartening. It makes you feel like you have unfinished business. You feel lazy and have a lot left to be desired for your health. Honestly, it could be one of the worst feelings in the world.
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Let’s not let this happen to us in fantasy football. We can’t have ourselves running at a solid pace and taking our admirable spot in the standings for granted. If we give up and stop worrying about our teams, our run can come to a disappointing end. Your team can run out of air and press the stop button frantically. We don’t want a wheezing fantasy football team. We want a sustained winner.
With that being said, we need to continue changing how we value players on a week-to-week basis. No more relying on Trent Richardson or Doug Martin as a sure thing RB1. No more looking at Keenan Allen or Justin Blackmon as risky options best left for waivers. No, let’s adjust so we can make it all the way until the “Cool Down” option turns on.
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.
Nick Foles – Who needs Michael Vick? If Foles keeps playing like this, Vick will be left in the rear view mirror. Foles threw for 297 yards, 3 passing TD and even scored on the ground in Vick-esque type fashion. Previous to this week, Chip Kelly seemed hesitant to assure Foles of anything. After last week’s performance, the coaching staff now says they’ll monitor the situation on a week-by-week basis. Whether he keeps the job or not, Foles has a monster match up this week against the 32nd ranked Cowboys defense vs. the quarterback. Pick him up and start him if you are in a pinch. If he plays well once again, you may have found yourself a gem.
Thaddeus Lewis – Um, who saw this coming? Well, Regan Yant did. The 25 year old from Duke actually was signed off the practice squad to start week 6. All he did was throw for 216 yards for 2 TD and rush 7 times for 17 yards and a 3rd TD. I took a look back at Lewis’ college numbers and they were pretty impressive. He led the ACC in passing TDs his senior season with a 134.5 QB rating. He only completed 58.1% of his passes in college however and never recorded a rushing TD. So while his week 6 opened the eyes of fantasy owners, I still need to see more before I am a believer. On the plus side, he gets the 21st ranked defense vs. quarterbacks this week, so if you’re feeling lucky……
Joseph Randle – DeMarco Murray’s sprained MCL and Lance Dunbar’s continued battle with a hamstring injury have opened the door for the rookie Joseph Randle. Randle gets the chance to become a man in the fantasy world in the next few weeks. The Cowboys’ ground game has been surprisingly effective this year, and the weak Eagles defense is next on the schedule. Randle will obviously have to improve on his 1.5 YPC from Week 6. Hey, he found the end zone last week and will continue to be the goal line back on a high powered offense. You could do worse at RB this week.
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Stevan Ridley – Ridley made his fantasy owners happy in week 6 by bursting out of the doghouse with a huge performance. Belichick surprisingly supplied Ridley with a season high 20 touches which led to 96 rush yards, 2 TD and most importantly no fumbles. I don’t think Ridley is a slam dunk to hang onto the job, but as long as he doesn’t fumble the odds are in his favor. LaGarrette Blount just isn’t nearly as talented. Just keep your fingers crossed if you are a Ridley owner because any mistake could result in him riding the pine.
Chris Ogbonnaya – Fullbacks really haven’t been a big part of the fantasy game since Mike Alstott. Ogbonnaya’s 15+ points in two of the last three games in PPR scoring says he’s trying to bring them back. Although Cleveland Browns fans are nuts, you wouldn’t be crazy to own Ogbonnaya at this point in deeper reception-based leagues. “Bananas” led all backs in targets with 12 last week and is 4th among all backs over the last 4 weeks with 24 targets. Who are the only backs targeted more often during that span, you ask? Jamaal Charles (37), Danny Woodhead (29) and Darren Sproles (29): three of the biggest PPR studs there are.
Chris Ivory – As a fantasy owner, I never root for injury. Now that one has occurred to Mike Goodson, however, we must react accordingly. Ivory had already been named the goal line back although the coaching staff seemed to back off on that during the game. With one less back in the picture, Ivory’s chances of seeing work increased greatly. Powell is really just another back and really isn’t very impressive. To his credit, he has yet to make any huge mistakes so far. If that is his greatest strength though, is that someone you really want to continue to start? They paid Ivory the money, it just makes sense that they would get him the ball. Make sure you roster Ivory in most leagues at this point, even if it’s only out of speculation, because talent has a funny way of working itself out.
Mike Tolbert – Speaking of goal line backs, the bowling ball rumbled, bumbled, stumbled his way into the end zone twice this week. DeAngelo Williams just is never trusted to carry the ball anywhere near paydirt. The Panthers have always been more willing to trust Cam or Mike Tolbert carrying the ball at that part of the field. For that reason, Tolbert will always be worth a desperation start on any given week at RB because he can always find the end zone. If you’re absolutely screwed and backed into a corner at the RB position, you almost have to add him.
Jarrett Boykin/Jordy Nelson – My preseason article on Randall Cobb‘s chances of coming to fruition crumbled, along with Cobb’s knee, on the hit he took this weekend. On Monday, the Packers placed Cobb on IR-eligible to return, meaning he’s out until at least week 15. James Jones was also injured this weekend and is considered doubtful to play on Sunday. Jordy Nelson immediately rises to the top of the depth chart, assuring he should see a ridiculous number of targets from here on out. Jarrett Boykin is the next man up and saw a whopping six targets in roughly three quarters of a game. He did drop two passes in the first half, but with a week of practice working with Aaron Rodgers, expect much improvement from here on out. I think Boykin is immediately a useful WR4 in 10-12 team PPR leagues and a solid WR3 in 14-16 teamers.
Vincent Jackson – Overcoming the transition from Josh Freeman to Mike Glennon apparently isn’t such a difficult task after all. Jackson’s 14 targets and 35.9% target percentage ranked 3rd and 4th among WR in week 6. When a young QB locks onto a WR, it usually is for an extended period of time. Jackson is a huge target with nice speed so it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t target him. Finally, the team realized V-Jax is a great red zone option as they sent 100% of the targets in that area his way. For most of the season, Mike Williams had been dominating those targets. Expect this trend to continue for at least another week, so Jackson is a top 10 start against the 28th ranked defense (Atlanta) vs. opposing fantasy WR.
Kyle Rudolph – If you retired Rudolph from fantasy relevance, it’s time you reconsider. “Rudolph the red zone reindeer” racked up 9 catches for 97 yards and a TD this week, which was easily his best game of the season. Now Josh Freeman steps in as starting QB for the Minnesota Vikings. If you recall, Freeman made Kellen Winslow fantasy relevant last season. Rudolph is far more talented and even a bigger target. I expect Rudolph to hold top 10 TE type value as long as Freeman is running the show.
Eli Manning – How a guy has a receiving core as talented as the Giants and isn’t in the top 12 of QBs in fantasy points per game I’ll never know. This is a hall of fame QB we are talking about in all likelihood also. The offensive line just has too many injuries and Eli just isn’t feeling it this year. Maybe he’s been sending too many late night text messages lately.
Brandon Bolden – Penciled in as the team’s passing down back when Vereen went down, he hasn’t exactly flourished in the role. At this point, Vereen is scheduled to be back week 11 which is getting closer and closer. He just doesn’t have the talent or the hands of Shaney-V, so there’s almost nothing to see here. I would have to be in a 16 team league with Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw and DeMarco Murray-type injury problems to consider starting him.
Le’Veon Bell – Offensive line play is essential to a RB’s success. If guards don’t pull in time on runs to the outside, not even Adrian Peterson can succeed at a high rate. For a rookie back like Bell, it’s near impossible to succeed with terrible line play. The Steelers have one of the worst and it’s going to hurt him going forward. He should see all the goal line carries which assures he’s still worth owning and starting, but temper expectations especially against solid opponents. Oh by the way, he gets the #1 defense vs. opposing RBs this week (Ravens).
Golden Tate – Russell Wilson has surpassed 210 passing yards just twice in six weeks this season. As a result, all of Wilson’s receiving targets have suffered. Percy Harvin’s return is right around the horizon. Immediately, Harvin will become the #1 target in the passing game when healthy. Just not good news all around for Tate who is a must-bench. You can even go ahead and cut him in small leagues for someone with more upside.
DeAndre Hopkins – Schaub is hurting. Hopkins has 7 catches in the last three weeks. Tight ends usually get the red zone targets in this offense, although Hopkins received two last week and didn’t convert either. Until I see production out of Hopkins, he will be tough for me to recommend. I wouldn’t cut him in deeper leagues because he can develop a rapport with his QBs still. This ultra-talented WR will pull out of this rut at some point, I’m just not sure when it will be.
Jermaine Gresham/Tyler Eifert – These two have been sucking value out of one another like a vampire would to a neck. Unless one of them goes down with injury or a suspension, neither are worth owning. Eifert has solid upside in dynasty leagues, but is safely droppable in re-draft. Unless Gresham is doing the Oklahoma drill, he is borderline useless.
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