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THE FIRE SALE: Week 5 Going Up and Coming Down

Every year around this time I remind fantasy owners of the most ridiculous thing they do every single summer. They look at strength of schedule. What schedule? The year before? What good does that do you?

I try to tell people you won’t know a team’s strength of schedule for an upcoming year until a month into the current season. I don’t get owners in August trying to figure out Week 15 and 16. Right now, how are you feeling if your quarterback plays the New England defense in Week 16?

Sure, we have a good idea that the Denver defense will be pretty good but you never know what will happen from one season to the next. Look at the New York Giants as an example. On paper, the Giants defense brings back virtually everyone from last year and so far they’re not close to the same unit. New York just allowed 434 yards of total offense to Tampa Bay.

The only way to get a jump on others in fantasy football is to try to predict future success. If you’re basing strength of schedule on last year’s records and numbers, it’s not doing you a damn bit of good. Anyone who tells you different is giving bad advice. Speaking of bad advice …

You can follow my crazy ramblings and fantasy observations on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy. I never sleep and I respond to every tweet. Hit me up with fantasy questions or just to tell me I’m a remarkable human being.

Now, on with “The Fire Sale” 

Going Up

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

This guy is the real deal just like I predicted (not true). I remember back when Houston drafted Watson I told anyone who would listen that he was going to be the next Michael Jordan (that was Dabo Swinney). Every year we spend all this time listening to blowhard experts before the draft on Twitter telling us who to take and when it’s over, guys like Watson and Jared Goff end up being fantasy starters. I guess you can throw away all those Excel spreadsheets and pie graphs. You could have just grabbed Watson and Tarik Cohen off the waiver wire.

It’s like I was telling one of my friends this summer who never invites me to his fancy dinner parties, “Watson will be a better fantasy start than Matt Ryan this year (never happened).” Well, two things are for certain. Watson is the real deal and that “friend” isn’t invited to the First Annual Casale Holiday Bash. Oh wait, I forgot I can say Christmas again. Merry Christmas everyone!

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals

I really like what Bruce Arians is doing in Arizona. Arians lost David Johnson, who in my opinion is the most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL. When you factor in rushing and receiving, no player is more important to his team than Johnson (or my fantasy team).

Arians knows he can’t possibly replace Johnson because he doesn’t have Le’Veon Bell or Kareem Hunt on his roster. Instead, he’s using Ellington to replicate one thing Johnson did, which is catch the ball out of the backfield. Let’s be honest, Arizona can’t run the ball at all and Arians knows it. At least Ellington can contribute as a receiver, so he’s played the most snaps in Arizona’s backfield the last two weeks.

In his last two games, Ellington has only rushed for 40 yards but he’s caught 14-of-22 targets for 145 yards. Look for him to continue to be a big factor in the passing game going forward.

Bilal Powell, RB New York Jets

I don’t care what anyone says, I still don’t think Todd Bowles is a good head coach. I never said he’s not a good defensive coach though. The NFL is so bad, the Jets are 2-2 because Blake Bortles and Jay Cutler were born.

Bowles is such a great coach he kept Powell on the sidelines for the first two-and-a-half games until Matt Forte got hurt. Powell got 18 touches in the Jets first two games. Why? Only Bowles knows. Last week Powell got 25 touches and turned them into 190 yards and a touchdown. If only we could have predicted that kind of success. That’s right, Powell averaged 138 yards from scrimmage and caught 21 passes over the Jets final four games last season when Forte was injured. I guess Bowles didn’t get the memo.

Listen, I have no skin in the game when it comes to the Jets. I’m telling every Jets fan though as an objective observer, this isn’t the coaching staff you want moving forward. Winning a few games is the worst thing that can happen to the Jets. The same thing happened to the University of Alabama once with a guy named Mike Shula. They ended up giving him a new contract and delaying the inevitable. The inevitable was firing Shula and hiring a new coach. The new coach was someone named Nick Saban. How did that work out? Don’t get stuck in mediocrity because you go 5-11. Bowles stinks.

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans

If you read a bunch of columns last week, I doubt many pinpointed Fuller as the top waiver wire pickup. That’s why you come here. I try to look deeper. I had Fuller as my No. 1 waiver wire target last week and he responded by scoring two touchdowns. You see, I’m looking at both short-term and long-term success. Houston now has a real passing game with Watson at quarterback like I predicted (nope) and Fuller is going to benefit all year. Hopefully you listened to me and grabbed him. If not, pick him up this week. He’s still available in many leagues.

A.J. Derby, TE, Denver Broncos

He lives! Every year I dig deep for my top sleeper and this season I went with Derby:

Derby had only caught four passes in his first three games but finished with four receptions, 75 yards and a touchdown Sunday against Oakland. Now I’m not telling everyone to go out and grab Derby. He was actually owned by 0 percent of fantasy owners before last week. That means even Derby’s family members didn’t own him.

I will say to keep an eye on Derby though. He may have had just one big game and disappear but I wouldn’t have recommended him if I didn’t believe there was something there. He’s had three other chances in the red zone this year. Once he was wide open and Trevor Siemian opted to throw to Emmanuel Sanders instead. The other two times, Siemian ran with the ball. Denver scored on all of those plays but if luck went the other way and Derby got those opportunities, he’d have four touchdowns right now.

As someone once said, “I’m rarely wrong.” It was me, but someone said it.

Aldrick Robinson, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Robinson was another one of my sleepers and like Derby, he hadn’t done much. On Sunday, Marquise Goodwin left the game against Arizona with a concussion. With Pierre Garcon being shadowed by Patrick Peterson, Robinson led San Francisco in targets with 12. However, he only caught three of those targets for 52 yards.

Goodwin has struggled this year as the No. 2 receiver and that was a big part of my analysis for liking Robinson this year. I’m not trying to sell you on Robinson being a great player. He’s a just a guy on a bad football team, but so is Goodwin. It’s my job to monitor situations. Goodwin has bombed like I thought he would, so keep an eye on Robinson and rookie Trent Taylor getting more run in the San Francisco offense.

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.