Monday - Apr 22, 2019

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The Fire Sale: Don’t Believe the Hype

It’s July and that means countless players are being hyped up by fantasy writers and the media. I have my five over-hyped players that you should avoid.

Hey, I’ve done my fair share of hyping, so I’m not busting anyone’s chops. As usual though, I’m here to help the common man. I’m here to help fantasy owners decipher which players aren’t worth the summer hype. I’m here to help you win championships.

Keep in mind when I say a player isn’t worth the hype, it doesn’t mean I don’t like the player. TC’s No. 1 rule of fantasy football:

There’s a big difference between NFL success and fantasy success.

It sounds simple but sometimes we don’t separate a player who will have value to his team but might not be as valuable on a weekly fantasy basis. I actually like most of the players I discuss below in real life football. I just think they’re being over-hyped by the fantasy community heading into the season.

Before I get started I want to mention that I’ve been running a fantasy league against readers for the past six years. This year because of interest I’m starting a second league and I have a couple of final spots open. Just keep in mind that since we’re not 12-years-old, we play for more than pride. So if you’re interested and think you have what it takes to whoop me, send me an email at thepigskinguy@gmail,com and I’ll give you the details. It will be fun to kick the snot out of you.

You can also follow my awesome tweets @ThePigskinGuy where I promise never to use the word “awesome.”

Now on with The Fire Sale…

Latavius Murray, RB Oakland – I like Murray and think he has talent but his limited sample size concerns me.

We have these players that the fantasy community is always higher on than NFL coaching staffs. I won’t use Christine Michael as an example of a player some fantasy people thought was the backup to Marshawn Lynch for two years when the real backup was Robert Turbin but…Christine Michael. Now Michael is fighting just to make Seattle’s roster.

I’m worried about Murray being a 20+ touch guy with Roy Helu, and even Trent Richardson, in the Raiders’ backfield. Granted, I have no use for Richardson but I don’t coach the Raiders.

If it were up to me I would use a combination of Murray and Helu. However, it’s not like Bill Musgrave is the greatest offensive coordinator on the planet. This is the guy who had to start Joe Webb at quarterback in a playoff game and didn’t call one option play. Not one with a quarterback that can’t throw.

Murray has an Average Draft Position (ADP) of Round 4 and he’s receiving a lot of love in the fantasy community. It won’t surprise me if Murray jumps into the third round of drafts by August. I just can’t pay that price for an unproven back I think is going to end up being a fantasy headache.

Murray has the talent to prove me wrong but I have a hunch he’s always going to be more of a fantasy tease. I say pass.

Doug Martin, RB Tampa Bay – Have you heard that Doug Martin is in the best shape of his life? He’s down to 210 pounds. Yes, it’s a contract year so Martin is in tremendous shape.

Some people re-tweet that nonsense. You know what I do? I cross Martin off my list because the “I’m in the best shape of my life” line is the cry of the truly desperate. Remember when Felix Jones was in the best shape of his life? Now he’s trying out at the NFL veteran combine. Brandon Jacobs was in the best shape of his life too. I can go one and on.

Martin has been arguably the worst starting running back in the NFL over the last two seasons. Since his promising rookie campaign in 2012, Martin has a 3.6 yards per carry average and just three touchdowns in 17 games.

Another thing about Martin is he’s looked bad. Listen, I’m all for metrics and analytics. I read that stuff, find it interesting and use it often but one thing I think we’re getting away from a little bit is just watching these guys and forming an opinion. Martin is running up the backs of his linemen. He isn’t showing any patience in the backfield. I don’t see any explosion or speed to the edge. He just looks bad.

Lastly, when you defend the “I’m in the best shape of my life because it’s a contract year” argument, are you’re saying the guy is lazy? You can’t have it both ways. A majority of players are in shape when it’s not their contract year, so if Martin has been sitting on the couch eating cheese doodles and drinking milkshakes, I still don’t want him. I don’t trust him. He’s lazy.

The only thing Martin has in his favor is that Charles Sims is a tomato can. That guy isn’t an NFL starter and Bobby Rainey is too small to be an every-down back, so Martin will likely play out of necessity. How effective will he be? I don’t know. The guy has too many question marks and I don’t want to figure out the answers. I’ll let someone else deal with him.

David Johnson, RB Arizona – I’m going to keep preaching it: Andre Ellington was playing hurt all of last season.

Johnson was a smart draft pick for the Cardinals. Arizona had no depth behind Ellington. Johnson allows the Cardinals to not overuse Ellington and he provides the team a quality backup in case Ellington gets injured. However, all this stuff about Johnson becoming the starter is unfounded summertime hype.

The next time you hear someone say Johnson is going to unseat Ellington as the starter, treat it like Joe Pesci in the classic line from My Cousin Vinny: “Everything that guy just said is bull***t.”

Amari Cooper, WR Oakland – Again, do we play real football or fantasy football?

I thought Cooper was the top offensive player in the entire draft but if you’re taking him over Jarvis Landry I’m so offended I might want to fight you in my backyard.

Cooper is going to be an absolute stud but no way am I taking him over receivers like Landry, Keenan Allen and Golden Tate. There’s that old saying about “putting the cart before the horse.” I’m not exactly sure what it means but I think this is a good example of it.

People should get excited about Cooper but not to the point where they select him over Landry. Landry is the most under-valued player in fantasy football this year but that’s another story. I already spoke about Musgrave above. It took him half a season in Minnesota to realize he had Percy Harvin. I say it 1,000 times every year: Coaching matters. Give Cooper to Chip Kelly and I’ll take him.

I love Cooper. If I could get him two rounds later I would be all over him but since that doesn’t look possible, I’ll “settle” for Landry or Allen instead. I would advise targeting Cooper in dynasty (obviously) and daily leagues, while letting someone else buy the hype and reach for him in re-draft leagues this year.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia – Ertz is a perfect example of a player I love but I don’t know if he’ll ever live up to the hype of the fantasy community.

First, let me say I don’t hate taking Ertz in the seventh or eighth rounds to be your tight end. I wouldn’t select him there personally, but it’s not like I would laugh you out of my league for doing so either. He’s a high risk/high reward player and I lean on him being more risk.

My problem with Ertz is, in my view, he’s an average run blocker. I see fantasy people I respect saying if Ertz can be on the field for 70-75 percent of the offensive snaps this year he’ll be a top-tier tight end. I question if he’ll ever see that many snaps because of Kelly’s system. Ertz was only on the field for only 50 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last year, despite being a dangerous weapon in the passing game.

I believe when the season starts coaches get into doing what they like to do best. Now Kelly is a little different because he’s more open-minded offensively and tries to get his playmakers on the field more than some conservative coaches. However, at his core, Kelly likes to run the ball and wear defenses down.

It’s going to be difficult for Ertz to get all those snaps if Kelly doesn’t trust him as a blocker. Ertz actually doesn’t grade out awful as a run blocker but I watched him closely against the Cowboys and he gets absolutely blown up at times. I think Kelly pulls him in some games because Ertz is struggling, so his overall grade may not tell the entire story. Kelly simply might not trust him and if that’s the case, it’s a problem.

Do I think Ertz will see an increase in snaps this year? Yes. Do I think he’ll see more targets? Yes. Do I think he’ll be a decent fantasy tight end? Yes. What I’m cautioning against is the hyping of Ertz being a breakout player. That can happen in NFL terms but I don’t see him being a weekly top-tier fantasy tight end.

I like Ertz better as a daily league play than a traditional re-draft tight end because of his inconsistency from week-to-week.

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.