Thursday - Feb 21, 2019

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Deeper & Down

Chris
Jennings (CLE, RB) 10%

Now Eric Mangini does NOT strike me as a ‘Warm & Fuzzy’ type of guy. The
type of coach that might shower his players with gifts or gush forth with
effervescent praise – but he

really should be doing both to
Chris Jennings
this week. It was his bruising work in the trenches that
could quite possibly have given his bosses chances of retaining stewardship of
the Browns next season, even though it would be the most tenuous of threads for
him to cling to. The general manager Mangini brought in? Gone. The players they
brought in? Erm, can you name them, let alone decide if they have been a
roaring success or not? Me either …

But every cloud they say has one, and Jennings is one of only three players on
the Cleveland roster that has actually proven they are a silver lining and can
do something when game time comes around …

What was really impressive about Jennings’ contribution last weekend was that
up until last week, the Pittsburgh defense – which whilst more porous than a
colander when it comes to defending the pass – had managed to hold opposing
backs to 3.6 yards per carry and less than 1,000 total yards on the season. Up
until they played

Cleveland,
that is.

Those are elite defensive numbers against the run and better running backs than

Jennings have
been benched purely on the basis of that matchup alone. Yet even knowing that

Cleveland isn’t doing terrifically
well in the aerial game, that should have made it even easier to stuff the run
by packing the box? Yet against

Pittsburgh,

Jennings bruised his way
to 73 yards and a score off 20 carries. Fluke? Maybe. He did manage five
carries for 28 yards against

San Diego
the week before, so maybe not?

If

Jennings is the featured back – then if

Dallas wants to give their backs the names ‘Smash, Dash
& Tash’ (Marion Barber,
Felix Jones
and Tashard Choice) then

Jennings
would simply just be called “Bash.” He’s that kind of running back. The longer
the game wears on, the more he’ll wear down the opposing defense. Of course
this is good news for Joshua Cribbs, who could have the same sort of success
this week as last (and were he not 21 percent owned I’d certainly consider
suggesting him).

Now

Kansas City doesn’t have

Pittsburgh’s rush defense. They allow 4.5 yards
per carry and have allowed 1,925 yards rushing against them over the season to-date,
with teams making 32.6 rushing attempts per game on average against them. Even
if he only received 60 percent of the carries? Even if he only made three yards
per carry? That’s still 60-plus yards. Throw in the likely score he’ll carry
over and I’d say

Jennings is hot fantasy
property, especially with games against

Oakland
and

Jacksonville
following (ranked 30 and 14 against the run, respectively).

Deon Butler (SEA, WR) 0%

Nate Burleson has a high ankle sprain. That right there? That’ll be 2-3 weeks
out – so consider his season effectively over for all intents and purposes. You
don’t have to add

Butler – and this is fair
warning as I’m slightly biased in favor of the former

Penn

State
wideout – as he is high-risk/reward this week, but you do need to cut Burleson
in any event.

Now, whilst woeful on the road – the Seahawks are 1-6 away from Qwest Field,
and 4-2 at home (and have managed to outscore opponents by nine in those games).
Now

Tampa Bay
on the other hand? They haven’t won a road game in that six-game time frame. In
fact, they haven’t won a road game all season.

Deion Branch – 32 receptions, 279 yards, (8.7 avg.), 2 TDs

Butler – 11 receptions, 130 yards (11.8 avg.), 0
TDs

Now with Seattle airing it out (232 yards per game) – if you factor in that
T.J. Houshmandzadeh will likely see the majority of targets? That just leaves
Branch,

Butler,
Carlson and the running backs to pick up the remaining 150 yards between them.

Butler’s risk-reward
comes in the form of breaking off a long run from a short pass. He can do it.
The question is will he …?

Houshmandzadeh is the Seattle wide receiver you’d most like to own this week –
and with Jim Mora’s stubbornness in looking ahead at 8-5 with a game on the
road against Green Bay and at home to Tennessee to come – it’s not looking
likely that he should be building for anything but the future right now, especially
with all the Mike Holmgren talk …

I love Butler’s ability. I love his matchup (not because the Tampa Bay defense
is especially soft, just that their offense has sputtered of late – that means
more time on the field for the ‘Hawks offensively) but I only like his chances
of huge numbers this week, and if you missed out on picking up
Kenny Britt
or
Josh Morgan
(Morgan still only 5 percent owned and going into a shoot out
against Philadelphia – if he’s there I’d take him over Butler if you are
playing it safe) as suggested here in recent weeks, then Butler could either
become very hot very quickly or very quickly fade from memory.

Arian Foster (HOU, WR) 3%

Steve Slaton fumbled – got benched.
Chris Brown
couldn’t make the short yardage plays – got benched.
Ryan Moats
fumbled – got benched. Gary Kubiak is not a happy camper this
season. He has other reasons that haven’t helped his overall demeanor, but the
word “fumble” is not something you’d want to say within earshot around coach Gary
Kubiak right now.

As a result you, should fully anticipate some hydra-headed hybrid at running
back this week. With 10 teams above them jockeying for the remaining five playoff
spots, he won’t get another chance to try out a successful running back
formula, which believe me he’ll need in the rapidly receding event that

Houston is playoff bound.

Even Moats was able to put up serviceable fantasy numbers before he got pulled
from the game for fumbling (10 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD) against the Seahawks.
The Rams are a worst rushing defense and Foster is – in my opinion – a better running
back than Moats, something I’m apparently not alone in thinking …

Kubiak said he was “impressed” with Foster’s work against the Seahawks,
especially in the passing game. “He can learn a lot of things,” Kubiak said. “But
he handled his job in protection for the most part pretty good, so I think we
just get him involved more, give him an opportunity.” The Texans coach added he’d
like Foster to “touch the ball five times and give me a reason for him to touch
it 10.” Kubiak then went on to add that Moats is the worst blocker of the trio,
with fumbling still a major concern.

Being
undrafted and not having a huge sample of NFL work to look at, it’s worth
looking at his college numbers. At Tennessee, he was just shy of being it’s
all-time record holder in rushing (currently
Travis Henry
), all the more impressive is that this was despite the fact he
played only three seasons and that he was in an running-back-by-committee almost
exclusively during his tenure there. If one game tells the story of Foster as a
college back, it’s got to be the

Tennessee
vs. UCLA game. He was part of a three-headed RBBC that took the vaunted UCLA
into overtime. He fumbled on the opening drive (yep – you read that right,
fumbled. He has made a couple of costly fumbles during his college career, which
is why he went undrafted regardless of the impressive numbers and speed/size he
has) but still managed seven yards per carry in that game. He did all this on
an offense that was ailing at quarterback and had huge offensive line issues
against one of the giants of college football.

Foster can be everything that Slaton was last year, but he can also be
everything that Slaton is this year too. If you’d play a running back against
the

St. Louis defense
normally, then Foster is the flex player you want to add. Brown has struggled
all season, Moats has given up his place because of security issues (both
blocking and in pass protection) and Slaton is on Injured Reserve. He could be
the
Quinton Ganther
of Week 15, and if he is he’ll not only be an add to make
in dynasty leagues, but he could the player that carries you into the finals.

And that will be all for this week, except for a short word and
absolutely free (no obligation to buy!) piece of advice …

If you’ve made it this far into the championships, then you have to be careful
about who you drop and who you add and you can do more harm than good with
tinkering too much. You’re in the semifinals: one foot in the grave and one
foot in fantasy football glory.

I’m not a subscriber to

ASYS (“Always Start Your Studs”). I think that
only really applies to seven – arguably 10 – players, but I do think you should
ASYS

“more often than not” and should ASYS

“if in any doubt.”
This falls into the latter category. They got you this far and chances are
better than good they can take you further. You really only want to be looking
at flex players and players with great matchups that are just too good to
ignore this week. Games that should yield good ROIs (Return On Investments) for
fantasy players this week are:

Arizona


at Detroit/Houston at St. Louis/Cleveland at Kansas City/Green Bay at Pittsburgh/Tampa
Bay at Seattle

Potential banana skins could be had in the Indianapolis at Jacksonville and New
York Giants @ Washington games. Ordinarily I’d say that the Colts-Jaguars game was
a home run. They are cruising towards an unbeaten season,

Jacksonville is struggling,
Maurice Jones-Drew
has now gone four games without hitting 100 yards and
whilst coach Jim Caldwell has said he will start his starters, no one in the
Colts organization is saying exactly how long they will play for. Players that
are fringe players for Indianapolis suddenly become interesting, but should you
drop anyone for – say –
Dallas Clark
‘s backup at tight end (that would be
Tom Santi
, by the way. I know you’d lose sleep over it!)? Not a chance.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Jason Avant (PHI, WR) – Jeremy Maclin is out with Plantar
problems and coach Andy Reid has confirmed that it is Avant (and not Reggie Brown)
that will start the game lined up opposite DeSean Jackson, against a Jekyll
& Hyde San Francisco defense. Slightly too well owned for me now to keep
nagging people about him at 17 percent, but he’s a very good add.

Marcus Trufant (SEA, CB) – Really? You want to tell us you’re not
100 percent recovered from your injury now after
Andre Johnson
ran wild on you? Good call and “way to go” on looking out for
your team over you.

Chris Johnson (TEN, RB) – I love you and I’m glad that I own you
in a dynasty league, but even I’m getting a bit fed up with all these CJ2K shenanigans now.
It’s like if he doesn’t get to 2,000rushing yds then he shouldn’t be in the MVP
running or that his season has been a dismal failure … 1,832 all-purpose yards and 18
TDs is what got
LaDainian Tomlinson
the MVP in 2006. C.J. already has 2,017 yards and 13
TDs with three games left to play in regular season – and he’s already eclipsed
L.T.’s rushing total by 164 yards! Really? They should make the MVP this season
a co-MVP like they did with
Peyton Manning
and Steve McNair back in 2003. In any other season I’m sure
Johnson might be a shoe-in, but this season has been one of the best for quarterbacks
in a long, long time.

Kurt Warner (QB, ARI) – This week was probably the worst week you
could have hoped for King Kurt not to have his first clunker this bad in a
long, long time. Commiserations to anyone who started Kurt last week as well as
hoping you had someone from the list below to help you out …

Ray Rice,
Brandon Marshall
,
DeSean Jackson
,
Thomas Jones
,
Dallas Clark
,
Adrian Peterson
(Chris Johnson … again!)
– We salute you!

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.