Thursday - Feb 21, 2019

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Deeper & Down

Without further ado – and in no particular order – here is this week’s fare of players available in 10% of leagues or less for those of you in deep and/or competitive leagues:

Keenan Burton (StL, WR) 1%

For the eagle-eyed amongst you, you’ll notice I’ve spoken of Burton previously in a “Dishonourable Mention”. This week, he’s getting an upgrade.

People who were invested in Laurent Robinson made Avery the add when he went down with a broken leg. Now, I can easily see that a WR#1 on any team is worth having. However, I said then – will repeat now – that if Avery wasn’t producing when Robinson was giving other teams more of a distraction – then why will he now? Maybe he starts each season slowly? Maybe it’s the dreaded “Sophmore Slump”? Who knows – more importantly (unless you own him), who cares?

Burton has taken Robinson’s role by default. He missed 3 games last season with a knee injury and played only sporadically with Holt still occupying the 1st team slot. With the loss of Holt (moved to JAC) & Robinson (out for the season), you have a 2nd year WR who was placed 1st in the vertical jump, 3rd in the 60yd shuttle and ran a 4.44 in the 40 at the combine, not to mention being a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (awarded to the nation’s best college WR, losing to Michael Crabtree. Other winners have been Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss and err… Charles Rogers) on a team that will usually have to play catch-up football.

Catch-up football is one of those fantasy wonderlands. Its great for fantasy purposes, but kills a team in real-life. Any team that will go behind early & often has to start throwing the ball increasingly. Just ask Steve Slaton owners (just

don’t mention Chris Brown whatever you do!).

The match-up this week is salivatory against a jaded Jaguars defense that is sandwiched between KC and TEN at #30 against the pass, surrendering on average 270yds and 2 TDs per game. After JAC, they’ll play IND (where they will have to do something through the air as i don’t think anyone can seriously envisage them doing anything but playing from behind all game) and then it’s back to another porous pass defence when they play DET.

It’s also worth noting that down the home stretch (weeks 11 – 16) StL face HOU, TEN, ARI (twice), CHI & SEA. All of them very user-friendly defences with ARI & TEN ranked as the 2 worst teams against the pass. TEN might get Finnegan back in the next week or so, but Chris Hope is out for at least 6 weeks with a broken arm – so it’s open season on TEN, I’m afraid.

David Clowney (NYJ, WR) 0%

Can’t figure this one out myself, if I’m being brutally honest. I was at least expecting 5 – 10%. That’d be 4% for half of the people that still own Chansi Stuckey (He’s in the CLE offense now, let’s not forget – 8% ownership may be slightly optimistic there) and 4% for the people that watched the NYJ vs MIA game on MNF or – as I like to call it – “The Braylon Bowl”, but 0%?

Almost 50% of Sanchez‘ looks were aimed at hitting Edwards, something i know CLE fans wish they could do. The only difference between Anderson and CLE fans when it comes to “hitting” Edwards’ though is that CLE fans wouldn’t miss… That said, he (Edwards) is very ownable after Monday night – a complete reversal of where he was last week. Still, it’s not like CLE need players who can’t catch. They are well drafted at that position already.

When motivated Edwards can – and has played – to a pro-bowl standard. It’s no secret he has been witnessed asking opposing players about modelling, agents, ad and film work during games on the touchlines. If his appetite for narcissism cannot be sated in the spotlight of the big apple, then it’ll be the Jets’ problem now.

I have no respect for players that don’t respect their team – but more importantly I have even less for players that don’t respect their fans. They pay your wages, they buy your shirts, they shout your name at matches. He’s an idiot then and he’s an idiot now. The only difference as i see it, is that he’s now a fantasy-useful idiot…

After the Braylon-Bowl, teams should converge and conspire to try and blanket Braylon, paying more attention to “Ryanchez”‘ favourite shiny, new toy. That only means more space for Clowney who was neck-and-neck for the Stuckey role in camp. On MNF he had 4 targets (2nd highest), reeling in all 4 for 72yds.

It might take a week or two to rediscover the chemistry he showed in camp with Sanchez, but with Cotchery re-injuring his Hamstring on Monday night AND that they’ll be faceing the banged-up, black and blue Bills – hit by injuries to several key players on defense: Posluszny, Mitchell, McKelvin, Buggs & Whitner (who might be back – but it’s possible only 2 weeks removed from thumb surgery he also may not be).

I don’t expect “Ryanchez” to execute anything too exciting or to try anything too exotic in the first half, but once up comfortably? I think we will see more of a variety in play-calling & personnel.

So, to recap? That’s a starting WR#2 in a decent and balanced offense playing against a team that is not only playing below themselves but has been devastated by injury? 0% owned?

17% of you own Domenik Hixon (2 fps) – not Steve Smith, not Mario Manningham, not Hakeem Nicks. I think it’s okay for you to let go now and move across town, from Giants to Jets – remember, if you love it, set it free… Clowney has more than three times as many pts (7 fps) and a clearer path to relevance now. Go with the upside – even with Cotchery back he’ll still get on the field.

Dennis Northcutt (WR, DET) 1%

Given that I gave Daunte Culpepper a “Dishonourable Mention” here last week (between 21 – 25pts, depending on your scoring format) it’s only fair we should mention his team-mate.

Calvin Johnson left with what appeared to be a knee injury on Sunday. Just as Jim Schwartz was not forthcoming with information on whether Stafford or Culpepper would start this past weekend, it looks like more of the same with Calvin.

It was the diminutive Dennis that stood in admirably pulling down 5 receptions for 70yds and a TD  rather than Johnson’s namesake (Bryant). In his last game against the packers (this weeks opponents) Northcutt put up 127yds and a TD whilst his career average against the packers is 20ypc and 1 TD per game.

Culpepper has the experience to play the packers 3-4 scheme and make his plays and check-downs efficiently. Against the pack he’s averaging 245yds, 2TDs and INT per game over his career. After last week’s performance it would be no surprise to see Pettigrew off the leash for some more down-the-field plays as Culpepper is less a prototypical pocket passer like Stafford and more a player that likes to scramble and make plays on-the-fly. So with his experience to make check-downs and reads quicker and his greater ability and comfort to move outside of the pocket, Pettigrew will be needed to block less. With the Pack almost dead-last with a mere 3 sacks on the season, I don’t envisage there being enough pressure to prevent Culpepper from moving the chain – 3 pro-bowls & his career stats against the packers say he can do it again given the chance.

In fact, this one looks to be a bit of a shoot-out if Culpepper is under centre. Both teams are less than stellar in the defense department with both undergoing transitions for varying reasons, but both performing offensively – GB more so than DET. The (re)addition of Tauscher certainly makes Rodgers and his receiving options slightly better and will score often against the anaemic Lions’ secondary. Which means less running and more passing from DET.

Northcutt will do better with Culpepper under centre than Stafford (if recovered) but in either instance he’s flex-worthy. It’s worth noting that Stafford IS practising today.

Blondie may have a crush on you Denis-Denis, but i think we can still be friends, even if it’s only just until the return of Megatron.

Mike Wallace (PIT, WR) 10% / Josh Johnson (TB, QB) 6%

Talking of all things musical – Justin Timberlake has many things going for him – money, fame, looks (so i’m told!), but whilst he may be able to bring sexy back – I’m reserving the right to bring these two players back!

PIT suffered another major DEF blow with the news that they have lost DE Aaron Smith to a rotator cuff injury for an undetermined amount of time that looks like it will require surgery. The DE in a 3-4 formation is crucial, with an under-performing DE whole packages and defensive plays can collapse before they even start. As a result the “Steel Curtain” is starting to show signs of rust and corrosion like never before. Polamalu is set to return soon, which should help balance the loss of Smith – but until then? All offensive players at PIT are getting an upgrade as they will likely not have the luxury of controlling the clock as much as they used to. Every opponent the Steelers have faced this season have managed to put up points where they struggled before.

Whilst Collie, Garcon, Austin, Maclin & Nicks are all the hot, young WR picks – and rightly so in 2 of those cases – the Steelers think highly enough of Wallace that they have made Sweed available for trade. He’s clearly their WR3. In a team that has had troubles with their O-line and now their D-line, that can be relatively productive if less sexy than the other names mentioned. The other thing? He’s still available in 90% of leagues, the others are – in all likelihood – not.

Incidentally, he’s playing CLE…

Josh Johnson, or JJ to his close-friends& family (and those people who write about the NFL and have to continually seperate Chris Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Johnson & Bryant Johnson by having to write their entire name out in full* ) did exactly as was stated here last week: He threw it a lot (50 times), ran it a lot – successfully (7  for 40), scored a couple of TDs (2), used Winslow a lot and got picked a lot (3. One more than I thought he would). Still good for 21- 25 fpts.

*Just for the record – that’s 3 WR’s, 2 RB’s & a QB, you’d only need a semi-productive TE for the offensive fantasy “set”…

TB are playing a team that is currently ranked #2 overall against the pass, so what’s to like? Well, that same team is also ranked 2nd to last against the run. Sometimes you have to get behind the stats. Teams that – on paper – look woeful against rushing might prevent you from starting a particular RB against them. If you took a second look at them though you may find that’s only because teams don’t run against them because they can pass the ball against them with even greater ease and impunity. It’s exactly the same with CAR. They look good against the pass because teams just run on them all day. Only the Texans and the Browns have allowed more yds per carry than the Panthers (5.2, 5.1 & 5.0 respectively).

That said? Teams still throw against them and have, to the tune of 170yds and 1.5 TDs per game. The Panthers have only managed 2 INTs all season.

In short, they are most definitely NOT the Jim Johnson (another Johnson) born PHI blitzing machine that boasts ball hawks such as Asante Samuel & Sheldon Brown in the secondary.

In Carnell Williams and Derrick Ward, TB do have the players to open up the passing game. Winslow will have another useful day at the office and after Raheem Morris has had “words” with Bryant and Clayton

I expect them to as well, especially with Morris looking at other WRs this week (see below). Expect a similar performance from JJ this week as he gave you last – less yardage, but less INTs, to offset that. He’s legit.

Dishonourable Mentions:

Chris Henry (CIN, WR) 12% – 3 for 93 last weekend, but 1 of those was a peach of a catch that went for 78yds and he was caught just 4yds shy of a TD. IF his quad is anywhere between 90-100% healed? Then he’s a must add

CIN & Henry face the horrendous HOU “defence” this week – and i use the word defence in it’s loosest possible sense. I’d rather have seen a bigger game from Henry, but being honest I think if he HAD have gone the other 4yds for a TD & knowing he was facing HOU this week that the %age owned figure would be at least double what it currently is. I guess everyone is chasing Austin Collie & Miles Austin this week?

Chad Henne (MIA, QB) 8% – Although I’m high on JJ @ TB, if you’re not? Then Henne is the only other QB I’d recommend that might be available. He was outstanding at Michigan and will do well in the NFL. Tough schedule upcoming after the bye though – NO, NYJ & NE and i think he could use an upgrade at WR. Well, that or for Tedd Ginn Jnr to start using gum on his gloves. I actually think Henne might be the better player, but Johnson has the better weapons around him (RBs aside), especially with the news that former 1st round pick (2005) and all around physical freak, Matt Jones is trying out with TB.

Bobby Wade/ Mark Bradley (KC, WR) 8% & 10% – They each have 24 & 22 fpts so far this season. Not particularly overwhelming. In fact far from it, so why here, why now? Well, for those of you that didn’t see the KC/DAL game – not only was it a lot closer than DAL would’ve liked or were expecting, but we got to see some of the “old” Coach Haley.

In the 2nd half against DAL we saw a lot of no-huddle packages. In fact during one 27 stretch of plays called by KC, only ONE was a rushing play. By no means would I endorse anyone dropping players for either Wade or Bradley right now. What I would endorse is taking a wait, watch and see approach. Cassel has the smarts to run no-huddle, Haley has the brains to call them and prepare them for it (like he did for Warner and the ARI WR’s). If KC can use it regularly? Then these boys could became braves for the Chiefs.


J.Johnson – 240yds, 40yds rushing (on 5 attempts), 2 TDs, 3 INTs. Or to put it another way 21 – 25pts in most std formats. Would’ve been higher too, had Bryant & Clayton not conspired to drop 5 passes between them…

J.Morgan – 9 targets for 78yds and a TD

S.Greene – Still averaging 4.4 ypc on limited touches.

M.Massaquoi – Article submitted before Braylon Edwards‘ trade (ie. I’m taking a mulligan!)

S.Wallace – DNP

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