Friday - Feb 22, 2019

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Deeper & Down

An
awkward week this week through the volume of players that will be unavailable.
Awkward, though, and hopefully not disastrous with only four, maybe five studs
being demoted to the pine. Moving on and moving up – in no particular
order – here is this week’s fare of players owned in 10 percent or less of
leagues

:

Sammie Stroughter (TB, WR) 1%

This is a guy that going into 2007 was being touted as a potential future first-rounder
in the NFL. He’s a receiver, returner, running back, deep threat, slot man – he
did the lot. He’s elusive, sure-handed and has played at both WR and RB in his
time at college, but undoubtedly his strength’s are both as a slot receiver and
a returns specialist.

Unfortunately for Stroughter, he dropped off the grid with the deaths of a
couple of important figures in his life triggering a bout of depression, which
was quickly followed by a season-ending injury.

They say you measure a person not by how they fall, but how they pick
themselves back up. Stroughter managed to get back onto most teams’ boards with
a productive finale at college and was taken by

Tampa in the seventh round.

With Antonio Bryant the deep threat and Michael Clayton opposite him
underachieving, Stroughter has stepped up from special teams and made a
difference. It was only two weeks ago Raheem Morris was asked about the five
drops that Bryant and Clayton conspired to deliver. Words would be had, he
responded. Maybe the words weren’t strong enough? Maybe the WR duo had an
outrageous buildup of mass in their aural cavities? Either way, there were more
missed opportunities last week. Despite the bumps along the way, Josh Johnson
has started to get the offense scoring points. It’s not always pretty, but this
is a franchise in major rebuild mode, having severed ties with a number of notable
veterans this offseason and that’s to be expected.

He has the opportunity and he’s grabbing it with both hands. Last week he had
three receptions for 65 yards and three punt returns for 142 yards and a TD.

Justin Fargas (OAK, RB) 6%

Look who’s back … back again … you know, for someone the Raiders were
seriously contemplating dropping this offseason, Fargas is looking remarkably
like the most productive RB they have just now.

If we rewind to last year? He did exactly the same thing – he stepped into the
breach and just quietly went about grabbing yardage. He’s not spectacular, but
he does all the simple things well: he breaks the plane, he keeps the ball
tight, hits the crease hard and low.

In fact, his dad probably has more “moves” than he has (his dad is the one and
only Antonio Fargas aka Huggy Bear from “Starsky & Hutch” – if you don’t
know who I’m on about, it’s worth looking up!) but you won’t argue with the
steady production.

Turning into a three-headed monster? Possibly. But with Darren McFadden out and
Michael Bush still not quite what we are hoping for, that won’t be happening
just yet. “Huggy Bear Jr.” has accumulated 1,691 yards and five TDs, or 80 yards
and 1/4 TD per game over 21 fixtures, if you’d prefer. Solid numbers.

He’ll be facing a Kris-Jenkins-less Jets defense this week followed by
user-friendly games sandwiched around their Week 9 bye against such forgettable
fantasy run defenses as San Diego (27th – Week 8) and Kansas City (25th – Week 10).

Matt Stover (

IND,
K) 6%

So, Adam Vinatieri is out for 4-8 weeks. That puts his return at somewhere
between Weeks 10-14. Now, there is a reason why kickers are not drafted until
the last or latter rounds of any draft – both NFL and fantasy – so I’d like to
ask all 16 percent of Vinatieri owners to just let him go, step away from the
fantasy accident and move along.

If you are a Vinatieri owner and haven’t yet made the required add yet, then he’s
still out there. That will change.

It’s a prolific Colts offense, so more and more I’m beginning to suspect that
Peyton Manning is part-man, part-machine and unless someone plans on drafting
or trading for John Connor or Michael Biehn, then anyone involved with him is
certainly relevant in fantasy circles.

Bizarrely – in one of those “real life” vs. “fantasy life” issues – it actually
works against as well as for Stover, too. When drafting a kicker you are
looking for a team that will march down to the red zone with regularity, but
then stumble, fail to punch it in over the goal line and then have to settle
for the field goal.

Indianapolis
is definitely not a team that struggles in either department!

What Stover will give you are consistent PATs and the odd FG thrown in. I don’t
expect there to be much, if any, dropoff from the performances that Vinatieri
was giving. There has been a lot made of Stover’s age and possible lack of fitness
and leg strength – he kicked a 50+ yarder in his try out to win the job, so I
wouldn’t be overly concerned for the 18-year veteran there.

James Jones (WR, GB) 1%

This last one was a little tricky as there were a couple of other WRs I’m
liking for this week (see “Dishonorable Mentions” below) but he wins out
because in the long-term he has more opportunity to keep a relevant fantasy
position.

Now, the Packers’ O-line is having “difficulties.” I think that’s been pretty
firmly established, documented and agreed upon. Some might call it a “mess,”
others “transitional” – but we all concur that it’s not the best part of their
offense and that it is causing Rodgers some problems.

When this happens we have a number of things that happen: RB productivity
decreases, TE productivity decreases, vertical passing game is less effective
(less time for the WR to get from point A to point B before the pocket
collapses), there are more screen/bubble passes, outside running patterns and
short-to-intermediate passes.

Thus far, Jordy Nelson and Jones have been in a time-share at WR3.

Green Bay is currently –
despite all the O-line difficulties – able to toss the pigskin for 260 yards per
game currently. That’s only 20 yards per game less than

Arizona.

In his rookie season, Jones put up 676 yards and two TDs. Last season was
hit-and-miss with him suffering from injury problems and playing in only nine
games. The hope here is that he can do enough to lockdown the WR3 job to
himself. He’s certainly capable of doing it, and with games at

Cleveland
and against

Minnesota
before Nelson is back to full fitness, he has window of opportunity to take
advantage of it.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Mike Thomas (WR, JAC) 1% – He’s the WR3 on a team facing the Tennessee
pass defense after this week’s bye – ranked 32nd and giving up 310 yards per
game. Being on a bye this week you can think about it … take your time a bit.
Me? I think they’ll use the time to work him in on more plays if they go
behind, which they do … a lot. Just ask an Maurice Jones-Drew owner. Heck, just
ask MJD – the second-most highly paid decoy in the NFL (after Reggie Bush) –
according to his twitter!

Jerheme Urban (WR, ARI) 1% –  Anquan Boldin is injured, so
Steve Breaston becomes No. 2 and Urban No. 3. He’s facing a Giants team that is
likely to be a little “surly” after last week’s game though, so don’t expect
anything and you can only be pleasantly surprised (I’m actually a little worried
for Warner – see below).

Arizona wasn’t able
to run the ball that effectively against

Seattle
in their blowout, so something will have to give – he’ll either be a great fill
in or give you fits.

Matt Leinart (QB, ARI) 1% – If you have a mediocre QB on the
bench (Jake Delhomme 24 percent, Shaun Hill 23 percent, JaMarcus Russell 5
percent)? Then go and look at Kurt Warner’s career stats … paying

careful
attention to the number of games played per season. In 10 seasons he’s only
finished 16 games three times! He’s flying a long way from

Arizona
to

New Jersey to play arguably the best front
seven in the league that are going to be very, very, very, VERY upset about
their loss to

New Orleans
last week and will be most keen not to let Warner settle into his rhythm. At
his age and with “that” hip, I don’t think it’s a reach to be concerned and
look for either some upside on the bench or – if you are a Warner owner – to
handcuff him at this point.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB, NE) 1% – The New England backfield
probably has more issues than your average helium-balloon loving family, but at
least for the next week or so it’ll be relatively clearer. No Sammy Morris. Not
much Kevin Faulk. Laurence Maroney will get the Ray Rice role (with some added
Faulk), while the Willis McGahee role will be given to Ellis, who put in a
solid 243 yards and four TDs over Weeks 7-10 when the injury bug bit the
backfield, leaving him the only “Bruiser” at Foxboro last season.

Accountability:

Mike Wallace (PIT, WR): 72 yards overall – 51 yards receiving, 21 yards
rushing.


Dennis Northcutt (DET, WR): Led the Lions in both receptions (five) and yards (40).


Keenan Burton (StL, WR): five for 37 yards; now the WR1 with Donnie Avery’s hip
injury.


Josh Johnson (TB, QB): Something for everyone – 45 yards rushing, 147 yards
passing, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble.


David Clowney (NYJ, WR): A victim of the “Dirty Sanchez” this weekend –
Mark Sanchez throwing out five INTs.

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