Wednesday - Sep 23, 2020

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Double Zero

Don’t get the double zero reference? That’s sad. No game more closely resembles fantasy football than that of a roulette wheel. No matter what the stats tell you, you’re guess is as good as anyone else’s. You have to go with your gut, close your eyes and hope for the best. In roulette, there is one spot that is neither red nor black. It’s the green 00 slot that is almost impossible to guess correctly. However, when you do, it pays out quite handsomely. If you’re roster looks like a bunch of injury depleted or under productive players, you may have to bet green 00. Here’s a look at those players who have potential to be top options next season though this season doesn’t really lead us to believe so.

Vincent Jackson
It will be very interesting to see what exactly happens in this situation. It’s pretty obvious that the San Diego Chargers have many needs to fill next season in order to move up the rankings. However, receiver doesn’t seem to be one of them. Philip Rivers has been able to spread the ball around to dozens of different receivers with great success. Jackson is due to start playing on Sundays as early as this week.

But, San Diego hasn’t budged in the least since this situation first began in the preseason. I have a hard time imagining them rewarding him with a contract extension after all the drama and less-than-professional behavior. Jackson is a premium receiver, regardless of his baggage. He will probably be allowed to hit the market after this season’s conclusion. Once placed on the market, Jackson will draw interest from most, if not all, receiver-needy teams.

Jackson could end up with a team like the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons or Green Bay Packers. But he could also end up with a team like the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders or Cleveland Browns. Jackson could range anywhere from a No. 1 receiver to an afterthought depending on where he ends up. If you roster looks bleak, remember that desperate times call for desperate measures.

Sidney Rice
Rice is almost in the same situation in terms of total time missed and expected return date. However, Rice’s situation is due to injury, not behavioral issues. For the first time since all the retirement talks began, I actually feel like Brett Favre will not be back next season. But even if Favre does crawl out his coffin for next season, Rice’s value will still see a huge bounce back. With all the attention that defenses need to pay to Adrian Peterson, Rice will have a real nice combination of skill set and situation. Percy Harvin provides ample help in terms of drawing secondary coverage himself. Brandon Marshall had the same hip surgery as Rice did, though Marshall was smart enough to do it during the offseason. As long as he doesn’t suffer any significant set backs, I’d fully expect Rice to flirt with the Top 10 wide receiver landmark next year.

Tony Romo
I can’t stress enough the main rule of fantasy football. “Don’t confuse real football with fantasy football.” If I had to choose a quarterback to lead my franchise to a hopeful championship, Romo wouldn’t be in the Top 10. But in terms of leading my fantasy team to a championship I’d still put Romo in the Top 6 or 7. The injury that Romo suffered should not be a lingering issue. He broke his collar bone, it’s not like he tore his rotator cuff. There are some injuries that create a huge value dropoff, but I really won’t list a broken collarbone as one of them. I bet the Detroit Lions would rather be reporting that Matthew Stafford broke his collar bone instead of his second shoulder separation to his throwing arm.

In actuality, Romo is in a great position to be a mainstream producer. His running game is all but invisible, his defense gives up large amounts of points and his receiving crew may only be second to that of Peyton Manning’s squad. Will it seem strange to keep a player with half the stat line that all the other kept quarterbacks will be sporting? Yes. But don’t play next season based on this season. You can’t predict injury. Brett Favre is all but invincible and look at him this year. I have a hard time seeing Romo going from a projected 30-touchdown quarterback to not being a top option at all in one season.

Randy Moss
This is a tough one to really figure out this early in the season. When Moss wants to turn it on, he’s the best receiver in the league. Kenny Britt was putting up huge numbers for the Titans before his injury and Britt isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Moss in terms of talent. If the combination of Kerry Collins and Vince Young can transfer that production from Britt to Moss, you could see Moss getting the franchise tag for next season.

If Moss decides it’s not working out then he’ll make sure that he’ll be able to be cut loose next season. Looking back at Moss’ career, one thing really jumps out at me outside the stat sheet. Moss has never, once, had control over where he’s ended up and who he has played for. The Minnesota Vikings signed him as a rookie, traded him to Oakland, who traded him to New England, who traded him back to Minnesota, who placed him on waivers, where the Titans picked him up. Unless Moss is getting a huge percentage of passing targets, I’d put my chips on the fact that Moss will be a free agent next season.

And like Terrell Owens this year, teams will be reluctant to sign him because of his history. Eventually though, like Owens, a team will come calling. And if Moss can put up a season like Owens has so far this season then the move to keep Moss will have fully been worth it.

Michael Vick
Talk about the ultimate risk-reward decision. You could decide to take Vick into next season and get a Top 3 fantasy producer. Or you get a back up quarterback. At this time it is way too hard to see. I would guess that Vick will be given the starter’s job. But given his injury history and Kevin Kolb’s professionalism through all of the swapping, I’d also guess that Kolb will remain on the roster as the No. 2 quarterback. Vick has been spectacular to watch and has sparked that offense in a way that only Donovan McNabb in his prime could.

If the Eagles were to move Kolb, then Vick’s status would go through the roof. That offense is about to break out, and whoever is under center will be the main statistical beneficiary. With such young, productive playmakers in LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, whoever is quarterbacking the team could have an easy bid to Hawaii.

Ryan Grant
As stated before, it’s impossible to predict random injuries in the NFL. Just look at the large amounts of missed time from concussions this season alone. Grant was slated to be a Top 10 fantasy running back this season, but sadly he was lost in the first game of the season to a serious foot injury. There really hasn’t been too much detail surrounding Grant since being placed on Injured Reserve, but one would hope that it wouldn’t be a career threatening situation at such a young age.

The replacement running backs for Grant have been less than impressive. They’ve been so bad in fact that the Packers were rumored to be trying to hammer out trades for either Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo or Willis McGahee from Baltimore. It’s obviously not ideal to be going into next season with a player that didn’t record a full game played the year before. But if your roster looks dim, try to look past the injury. I’d say that the biggest black mark going against Grant for next season is his potential free agent status. Green Bay could make a move in free agency or try finding a replacement in the draft.

I’d guess that his injury mixed with the backups’ unimpressive run that Green Bay could look elsewhere for rushing production. This is the biggest gamble of them all to this point. I’d try to steer clear of this situation altogether but if you need to gamble I guess you might as well go big and hope for the best.

Marshawn Lynch
His value hasn’t been at its peak for a few years now. He went from the replacement of Willis McGahee to the third-string back in just a few seasons. His injuries opened the gates for Fred Jackson, his suspension opened the doors even further, and then C.J. Spiller all but booted Lynch out the door. He seems to be in a split back situation with Justin Forsett, but sometimes those situations work out alright.

 Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones both offer value een though they play in the same backfield. Maybe a lightened workload and fresher legs are what Lynch needs to reestablish himself as a top threat once again. Pete Carroll is a very running back friendly coach, so expectations should be higher than what they were in Buffalo. Again, Lynch shouldn’t be kept over more established and proven players. But there is a chance for redemption in Seattle. Depending on how many players your league allows you to keep, Lynch will very much be worth forfeiting the draft pick of which you selected him this season.

Peyton Hillis
Here’s a situation where the numbers do argue in favor of keeper status, but other factors argue against it. For one, a lot of owners feel uncomfortable when comparing their players to others and see Arian Foster and Frank Gore compared to Hillis. While it’s true Hillis doesn’t have the keeper name status yet, another season or two of this kind of production could change that.

The other strike against Hillis is his situation. Cleveland is on their way to becoming a well-balanced team, but they are, in fact, still the Browns. The only player that should have been kept from them over the last five years was Braylon Edwards after his 17-touchdown campaign. And even then look how that turned out. If many owners in your league are planning on keeping running backs and you don’t want to get stuck without premier talent at the position next season then Hillis makes sense. He’s still got a lot of games left to play and his numbers are already extremely noticeable. To me the only reason as to why I would be nervous about Hillis’ status for next season will be the come back of Montario Hardesty. But even then, who is say how things will pan out?

Ryan Mathews
I have no doubts when it comes to San Diego and running backs. They are a running back factory, and Mathews should follow the mold. While it is concerning to see touchdowns and third-down snaps going to other players, I feel it’s more due to babying their prodigy than it is due to some inability to perform.

Mathews was drafted to replace LaDainian Tomlinson. He wasn’t drafted to rush on only first and second downs and outside the red zone. He’ll eventually become the player that he’s fully expected to be. First-year players are expected to post average to fair stats anyway due to picking up the professional speed and learning the offense. If you have the room to keep him I would highly recommend it. Darren McFadden took a while to come into his own but now patient owners get to rep the benefits.

Don’t discount him for next season because you’re trying to predict injuries. There are only a handful of players that you can fully expect to be injured each season and only having been in the league for less than a full season, Mathews is not on that list.

DeAngelo Williams
Yes, the guy from the Carolina Panthers. Nobody saw this kind of dropoff from last season coming. But again, it’s not about this year in terms of dynasty. This year has already happened. Next year is about next year. Carolina needs to make a decision when it comes to the looming free agent. If the franchise does decide to resign the former all star back then both Williams’ and Stewart’s values remain at 50 percent. But, if Williams denies a contract extension in order to hit the free agent market then he could rise from 50 percent to 100 percent in terms of potential. This, and the move itself, could lead to a much more beneficial situation. However, I fear as though Carolina may use their franchise tag on Williams, once again limiting what they can do in terms of growing as a team and what Williams can do in terms of production.

With Jimmy Clausen under center, I really don’t want anything to do with either Stewart or Williams. But, Williams going to a running back needy team could throw him into the Top 5 production level.

Chris “Beanie” Wells and Knowshon Moreno
I lump them into one category because they are almost mirror images of each other. Both offer extensive value when they’re healthy. But health seems to be something that escapes their grasp time after time.

Like Ryan Mathews, both are too young in their careers to be labeled injury concerns. Neither has missed more than a few games due to recovery. And even then, the teams probably wanted to get them back in slowly. You have to go with potential and hope for the best. Both have decent shots at redemption next season. I would argue that Wells is the more pure talent, but that Moreno has a better situation.

Wells’ injury just further exemplified the need for Tim Hightower. Moreno’s replacements of Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter offer zero competition at the position. And in terms of quarterback play, Kyle Orton has been an almost MVP type of player while Arizona is digging through the dumpster and finding Max Hall. Both will be high upside No. 2 backs again next season, and depending on your league format for keepers they could be considered.

Again, all of these guys are gutsy gambles. The only ones that I would feel truly comfortable with as true keepers would be Ryan Mathews, Tony Romo and Sidney Rice. But one of these high-risk, high-reward picks could offer a championship. Knowshon Moreno, Chris “Beanie” Wells, Vincent Jackson and DeAngelo Williams are all risky, but in actuality you could do a lot worse. That being said, I certainly hope you drafted better than needing to keep Marshawn Lynch. Think your keepers over carefully. Some leagues allow two keepers while some allow as many as you wish, but for a draft sacrifice. I’ll keep Wells and Moreno for the sacrifice of my fifth pick any day.

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