With the day of reckoning that was Sunday afternoon behind us, we can start thinking about how everything that happened this weekend might impact us going forward. With that in mind, here is an early look at a few interesting prices for Week 9. Good luck.
Tom Brady vs. WAS ($8,500) – Thursday night seems like ancient history with everything that went down on Sunday, so let’s recap: Brady tore apart the surging Dolphins, stomping on their hearts with 356 yards and 4 TDs. That made it three out of seven for Tom with 30+ fantasy points this season, with no games under 25. With the way this offense is playing, you simply are not going to get more consistent. He is a no-brainer play in cash games, but spending big on QB is tough in tournaments because even if Brady scores 30-35, you just KNOW there are at least a couple of guys who will score that high for $1,500-$3,000 less. In other words, he gets his price tag with consistency, not upside. Because, the flip side of the way this offense is playing is that with this many options, and so much versatility, that 7 TD game just might not be coming.
Drew Brees vs. TEN ($7,200) – Speaking of 7 TD pass games. I mean, wow. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about him here and take a look at what it’ll take to roster him next week. Because if you didn’t have him on your squad, you’re not winning anything in Week 8 – that’s how big of a game that was on an otherwise relatively slow scoring day. On paper, the Titans are a decent defense against the pass, but not the kind of defense that scares you if you’re a Saints fan. With Brees finally connecting repeatedly with Cooks, probably their most talented receiver, this game could have just been the final sign of an offense that is finally shaking off some rust from the turnover in the offseason (and which had been improving steadily up to yesterday’s eruption). If this offense and this QB are back to looking like they have in years past, $7,200 is a bargain.
Eli Manning @ TB ($6,900) – Talk about overshadowed. He threw for 350 yards and 6 TDs, and was the second-best QB in the game. Crazy-town. But there was one really obvious thing that helped Eli put up those video-game numbers: Odell. More on him later, of course, but Eli has a few great skills, and one of them is the deep ball. He can get it out there, and catchable, and it seems like when he is at his best, that’s all Odell needs. And with a threat like that on the field, everything else opens up. For anyone who was a proponent of Eli as a viable fantasy option in the preseason this year, yesterday was the way you expected these games to go.
Derek Carr @ PIT ($5,500) – Big Ben was back, which is great, but he threw the three picks – so maybe you want to wait before trusting him. Peyton went 21-for-29 for 300+, but no touchdowns. It was hard not to write about Rivers here, who chucked it 37 times again this week, but for $6,900 he’s not that inexpensive and, sometimes, you just need cheap. And Carr is that. Against a porous secondary and an offense he might have to do work to keep up with, this could be a big day. Last week, this was the guy who saved you a bundle over the top options and netted you equal return (Eli and Brees left aside). And that wasn’t the first time: with two games over 30 fantasy points and two other over 20, the upside is there. Hopefully, for fantasy owners and Raiders fans, the consistency is coming.
Mark Ingram vs. TEN ($6,500) – I know, it is strange to be talking about Ingram on a day where the Saints put up 50 and he didn’t score. But other than Brees, he has been New Orleans’ best player this year so far, proving to be their best runner and their best receiving threat out of the backfield. If Brees is going to start heating up, that’s only going to create more opportunities for Ingram, both as a pass-catcher and as their primary ball-carrier, as defenses are forced to start putting more and more players into coverage. Furthermore, Khiry Robinson left the game yesterday with a broken tibia and will miss the remainder of the season. Robinson has been Ingram’s primary competition for carries this year, including at the goalline. If Ingram is going to keep catching passes, and being their best runner, and the guy who gets called on to punch it in whenever this rejuvenated offense gets in close, then this price tag is only going up from here.
DeAngelo Williams vs. OAK ($5,500) – OK, so we have all been down the road with DeAngelo on our redraft league teams at one point or another. I get it. Hard to trust him with your hard-earned cash on the line and all that – I get it. But he had 41 carries for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first two weeks of the year, while Bell was suspended. I think he proved in those two weeks that, while he might not be Le’Veon Bell, he is in the best position he has been in maybe for his entire career. He’s a good back, not splitting carries, on a productive offense that makes it impossible for opposing defenses to focus on the run. Of course there is value to be had here.
Darren McFadden vs. PHI ($4,300) – It wasn’t a huge game yesterday, but it was encouraging. He had over 100 total yards against a great defense, and more importantly, he got 26 touches, compared to only 5 for Christine Michael. Six of those touches were catches, making that 17 in his last three games. If he is going to keep the receiving role out of the backfield, and pick up 90%+ of the carries, that makes him an every-down feature back, even if he did seem to slide into the role out of nowhere. It’s his to lose at the moment, and no matter what their ranking, the Philly defense is nowhere near as formidable as Seattle’s. I think he is an easy, obvious play in cash games this weekend.
Jeremy Langford @ SD ($4,000) – Forte left yesterday’s game with a knee injury, which some people inside the Bears are now saying might have been an injury to his MCL. That’s good news for his long-term prospects, but he is almost certainly not suiting up next week. And that makes it Langford’s role, at least in the short term. A 4th round pick out of Michigan St., the rookie has been impressing his teammates since the preseason, and, after Forte went down, he stepped in and took over all the work. He had 12 carries for 46 yards after he got into the game yesterday, and facing off against the statistically worst-in-the-league Chargers next week seems like a great opportunity to start off on the right foot.
Odell Beckham, Jr. @ TB ($8,800) – With eight catches for 130 yards and 3 TD’s, he enabled Eli to make a run at keeping up with Brees yesterday. He is the kind of game-changing threat that makes everyone on offense better when he is playing at the top of his game. If yesterday was an indication that all his nagging injuries are behind him and he is ready to start dominating like he did down the stretch last year, then he needs to be in consideration every week, even at this price. Coming off a matchup with New Orleans and moving onto Tampa Bay is nice, too, because we don’t have to worry if yesterday was more a product of good offense or bad defense – if it was bad defense, there’s going to be plenty more of that to go around next Sunday too.
Antonio Brown vs. OAK ($8,100) – He scored his first touchdown since Week 2 yesterday. And, if I am remembering correctly, I seem to think there might have been a common factor in Weeks 3-7. As Big Ben gets healthier, Brown’s performances are only going to improve. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him priced up there with Julio and Odell within the next few weeks, just like he was at the beginning of the year. That is especially true if the Steelers are going to be need to lean even more heavily than usual on the passing attack with Le’Veon out for the remainder of the year.
Alshon Jeffery @ SD ($6,700) – In his two games back from injury, with a bye sandwiched in between, he has 18 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns. At that rate, he’s going to cost $7,500+ by Thanksgiving, so jump on this value while you can. San Diego is not a great matchup on paper, but here’s the thing: their best passing defense is a terrible rushing defense. And with Forte out, Cutler might look more to the air, and when he does that, it’s Alshon. He;s their number one threat, and it’s not close. At this price, he remains a tremendous bargain.
Brandin Cooks vs. TEN ($5,800) – Can you trust him? He was billed as exactly what we saw yesterday – an elusive runner who could excel in the slot, but also stretch the field – the kind of versatile weapon that Drew Brees and Sean Payton could combine to make look like Jerry Rice out there. He had two of Brees’ seven touchdowns, on six catches for 88 yards. That’s an average of 14.7 yards per catcgh, and his long went for only 26, so it’s not as if the average was skewed by one outlier. He has the ability to get open on mid-level routes, and also to make a move once the ball is in his hands, exactly the kind of weapon a QB like Brees can make the most of.
Rob Gronkowski vs. WAS ($8,000) – The fact that Washington is “good against tight ends” doesn’t matter. Gronk is not “tight ends,” he’s Gronk. But we’ve gone over this before. So, I will just say this: if you happen to like a bunch of cheaper options at other positions, Gronk is a great way to spend some extra money, because he so rarely lets you down. The Pats are spreading the ball around so much right now that he doesn’t just dominate targets like he has at times in the past, but he makes the most of his chances, which is all you can ask.
Delanie Walker @ NO ($4,200) – Walker had six catches for 62 yards yesterday. That’s the kind of stat line that places him squarely in the middle of a huge pack of mostly indistinguishable tight ends. They need a touchdown for their days to look real good, and otherwise, their upside is right around ten points in this kind of PPR format. The difference for Walker is two-fold: bad QB play combined with a lack of other targets. The two things basically cancel each other out. So, look to the matchup. If you have a bunch of indistinguishable guys at one position, distinguish from amongst their opponents instead, and the Saints are a good one: a team that is 27th against Tight Ends, 18th against Wide Receivers and 32nd against Quarterbacks is just a team that can’t defend the pass.
Ben Watson vs. TEN ($4,000) – I felt the need to talk about a Saint at every position – you blame me? (Well, maybe not defense). His 32 points yesterday was his best game of the year so far, but not by as much as you might think. He had 31 two weeks ago against Atlanta, and in the last 4 weeks, his lowest total was 9.9 points. For a cheap option at the most unreliable position, that is not too bad.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. NYG ($2,800) – He was listed as questionable all of last week and then didn’t play, and is still listed as questionable. But he has been healthy enough to get in some reps at practice, and we haven’t heard about a setback, so you have to assume he’s close, and you have to hope that when he does get back, it’s at 100%. And what a week for that to happen, as the Bucs face off against the Giants, the worst team in the NFL at defending tight ends so far this season. With Vincent Jackson out for some time still, and ASJ the type of TE who can line up on the outside, he is their de facto #2 receiver if he returns at full strength. And we saw how he connected with Winston at the beginning of the season, nabbing five balls for 110 yards and two TDs in the opener.
New England Patriots vs. WAS ($3,300) – The Patriots are getting after quarterbacks right now, with Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins highlighting a front seven that is covering up for any other potential deficiencies on that side of the ball right now. Against this Washington club, that pass rush could lead to a lot more than sacks, with, um, questionable decision-making at the QB spot showing up from time to time. Turnovers, touchdowns, minimal yardage – it’s all on the table here.
Denver Broncos @ IND ($3,000) – I don’t normally love playing a road defense, but did you see what these guys just did to Aaron Rodgers? 77 passing yards? This is the kind of defense that is going to give you a baseline level of scoring just due to the fact that they are not getting blown out, ever. It’s hard to imagine them surrendering 30+ points to anyone (although they do have NE on their schedule this year). Baseline + anything they get you beyond that = consistency + upside. It’s surprising they aren’t more expensive, which to me is the definition of a value. You might say it’s because of the matchup, but the Broncos the Colts one-dimensional without even trying, and Luck has clearly been hurt ever since he came back, and now we have confirmation. Cracked ribs and a matchup with this defense is not a position I envy.