Cody Pagels
The Weekly Barometer - Week 11

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This past week, consensus first round draft picks Doug Martin and Arian Foster were lost for the season. With two more massively disappointing fantasy running back seasons in the books, I’m on the verge of reassessing my long-held belief that running backs should invariably be taken early in drafts. My reasoning has always been that quality rushers are scarce, while the quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end positions are deep. After all, you can get all kinds of Tony Romo or Torrey Smith -caliber players in Round 7, while there’s nothing in the way of RB talent that late.

The reasoning makes sense, but in practice I just don’t know anymore. Out of the top-25 players in average draft position in ESPN leagues, 15 were RBs. As we enter week 11, seven of those 15 backs ( Chris Johnson , Ray Rice , C.J. Spiller, Trent Richardson , Arian Foster , Doug Martin , and Steven Jackson ) have made their owners miserable, only six have been the reliable studs we’ve expected, and the jury is still out on Stevan Ridley . Meanwhile, of the 10 non-RBs taken in the top-25, only one, Tom Brady , has been anything less than the consistently productive elite stud he was expected to be on a per-week basis.

Hard luck injuries that derail your season can happen to any position (Hello, Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers !), but in terms of actual production, it looks like you simply have more sure things at QB and WR. If I’m drafting 5th overall next year and LeSean McCoy is somehow available, I’m probably still taking him instead of Drew Brees , but I’m nowhere near as sure as I was 11 weeks ago.

But hey, you’re fighting for a playoff spot right now. I’ll have seven months of offseason to think about how I’ll ruin my 2014 fantasy team. Week 10 was considerably lighter on nobodies enjoying monster games than the ridiculousness of Week 9. The list of scoring leaders was populated with many more familiar names, but there’s still plenty to cover. Let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Week 10 vs. Jacksonville: 264 yards, 2 TDs, 13 yards rushing, 1 TD, 1 lost fumble)

No. I’m not falling for this again. I own Matt Ryan in my money league, and for the last two weeks I’ve victimized myself by starting Jake Locker because Ryan’s matchups scared me. Just like Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a marginally talented passer with solid rushing ability and a string of appetizing matchups on the horizon. With Locker out for the season, this will be Fitzpatrick’s offense going forward. I’ve been burned twice by expecting Tennessee to produce a consistently productive fantasy quarterback, and I’ve watched enough of Fitzpatrick in Buffalo to know that he can’t be relied upon. A solid relief performance at home against one of the worst units in the league will not sway me into thinking he belongs on fantasy rosters.

Ignore

Tony Romo (Week 10 at New Orleans: 128 yards, 1 TD)

Here are some actual comments from Romo owners on fantasy message boards:

“Just when you need him…Romo is being a Romo (again) …why do I waist my time with this bum…he sucks…”

“AwfuL!”

“The hell with this bum.I’m starting Dalton from here on out”

“i now need to start seriously considering consider benching him for my backup Russell Wilson”

I didn’t even need to cherry pick comments from the thread I was looking at, because that’s what almost all of them were like. Romo, who is on pace for over 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, is top-five in standard league scoring among QBs, his remaining opponents range from beatable to terrible, and his owners all hate him. He’s not Peyton Manning or Drew Brees and he never will be, but he continues to be perceived as less valuable than he is.

Buy Low

Colin Kaepernick (Week 10 vs. Carolina: 91 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 16 yards rushing)

On the one hand, his line let him get sacked a half dozen times, and he lost Vernon Davis , by far his best receiving target, to a concussion in the first half. On the other hand, my gosh was Kaepernick terrible Sunday. This season he simply isn’t the every-week stud we all hoped he would be when he was drafted late in Round 3. Playing seven of his nine games against teams that are in the bottom half in terms of points allowed to QBs certainly hasn’t helped matters. On the plus side, he absolutely shredded the Packers and Jaguars, a.k.a. the only two bad pass defenses he’s faced, to the tune of 30 and 27 points. Of course, only one of his next four games is against a bad pass defense because Colin Kaepernick can’t have nice things, but then he draws the extremely generous Buccaneers and Falcons for weeks 15 and 16, making him a prime trade target for a playoff-bound team with a marginal QB situation.

Buy Low

Running Backs

Andre Brown (Week 10 vs. Oakland: 115 yards, 1 TD, 1 reception for 4 yards)

There isn’t much to say here besides a lazy UPS pun, because nothing beats referencing an ad slogan that was retired over three years ago. There is absolutely zero competition for carries in the Giants’ backfield, and considering the overall miserable state of running backs at this stage of the season, owning a feature role automatically makes a player worth starting as at least an RB2. I can’t recommend trading for him or putting yourself in a position where you rely on him every week, because we’re still talking about a guy who has missed 13 of his last 14 games with serious leg injuries. But as long as he’s upright, get him in there. Peyton Hillis was even kind enough to fumble away his last chance at a decent workload. Speaking of Hillis…

Start With Confidence

Steven Jackson (Week 10 vs. Seattle: 11 yards, 3 receptions for 9 yards)

Not even I was expecting a fantasy faceplant to this extent, but not since Peyton Hillis in 2011 has there been a more obvious draft bust. Even if the Falcons hadn’t slipped into The Darkest Timeline, and an alternate chain of events in which Jackson stayed healthy and the Falcons still had playoff hopes occurred instead, in what scenario would Jackson have been a fantasy stud? He’s 30, and his team would have wanted to keep him fresh for a playoff run. A stud’s workload was never in the cards. In this new dark reality, Jackson is largely ineffective, his team falls behind often, and two other backs are slicing into his touches. I wouldn’t drop him just yet, I can’t imagine getting much of value in a trade, and I certainly wouldn’t start him if I have him.

Bench

Mark Ingram (Week 10 vs. Dallas: 145 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions for 15 yards)

Congratulations to Mark Ingram for getting his first career 100-yard performance. I hate to point this out and take away from this achievement, but much of his statline had to do with Ingram running out the clock against a Cowboys defense that completely gave up somewhere in the third quarter. Management at the Superdome might as well have put the words, “WE ARE RUNNING IT UP THE MIDDLE” in huge flashing neon lights on the Jumbotron, and the Cowboys let themselves get gashed 10 yards at a time anyway. I don’t mean to suggest that Ingram didn’t play well, because he ran well and with authority, but based on what I saw and what Ingram has displayed throughout his career, the only way he earns a fantasy relevant workload and consistently strong stats is if he plays in more blowouts against defenses that aren’t trying, and for the sake of my personal sanity and the good of football, I hope I never have to watch a game like Sunday night’s again.

Ignore



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