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The Lowdown – Week 6

Welcome to The Lowdown for Week 6. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe — feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

Handcuff Hangover

Are you the type of owner that employs the “handcuff” theory when drafting? You know, the practice of drafting the RB2 of an NFL team after you’ve already drafted the RB1 of the same NFL team? Has that strategy ever worked out for you?

I rarely if ever employ the Handcuff strategy, for three reasons:

  1. I can usually draft a more valuable RB as a backup for my team,
  2. If the RB2 of a team were any good, he’d be the RB1 to begin with, and
  3. Why do we only use this strategy on the RB position? I mean, you never hear anyone say “I drafted Andrew Luck in the 5th, I better make sure I draft Matt Hasselbeck soon, in case Luck gets hurt!”

In the 25 years I’ve been involved with fantasy football, my avoidance of handcuffing RBs has worked out pretty well; the RB4-RB6 I draft are usually rookies or players in a specific favorable situation (like DeAngelo Williams for the first four games this season)– however, I never felt the need to blindly draft a Matt Asiata because I drafted Adrian Peterson in the second round. But I believe in being honest in this column, so I’ll share this little secret with you: this season, I tried handcuffing in two different leagues (for different reasons).

In one keeper league, I had just traded for Jeremy Hill. I was (and still am) high on this kid, so much so that I traded Le’Veon Bell for Hill and three high draft picks. In a different redraft league, I had just drafted Latavius Murray.

In the keeper league, we had gotten to the 16th round (of 19) and I noticed that Giovani Bernard was still available. I decided to draft him– not so much because I doubted Hill, but rather because Bernard was a young, proven starter who in a keeper league would have value in a year or two should he become a free agent in the NFL and switch teams. In the redraft league, I drafted Roy Helu late in the draft because he is a great 3rd-down back and I was concerned about Murray’s lack of a track record, as well as his injury history.

You can see how this has been working out. Hill has stumbled out of the gate this season, and Bernard has outperformed him; but as is usually the case in this type of situation, Bernard has not been named the starter by the Bengals. So every week, I end up starting Hill because… well… he’s still the starter, dammit. Murray has remained healthy thus far, keeping Helu off the field.

It’s still early in the season, but you can see where this is heading: I would’ve been better off taking a chance on the likes of Dion Lewis or Karlos Williams, rather  than the “logical” handcuffs of my drafted runners.

So my conclusion is this: much like in other walks of life, handcuffs are best avoided… unless you find yourself at a bachelor party in Las Vegas where the entertainment is dressed like a sexy cop and you’ve just committed a naughty crime. Then by all means, enjoy a handcuff strategy… there’s no point in wasting the $500.


Interesting Players for Week 6

If you’re interested, here is the list of the top 10 at each offensive position (along with a relative value) for this weekend’s games. Use it to gauge how two players compare. For example, if Tom Brady has an FFRS of 44 this week and Derek Carr has a 33, then you should think of Brady as being a 33% stronger play than Carr this week. Use these FFRS for standard fantasy leagues for waivers or lineup decisions; in DFS leagues use the relative nature of the FFRS to gauge dollar values between players.

Good luck! (PPR scoring is used for the FFRS rankings below)

Top 10 QB Plays:

  1. Tom Brady, NEP (vs. Ind) – 24.92
  2. Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. Buf) – 22.84
  3. Aaron Rodgers, GBP (vs. SDC) – 20.85
  4. Cam Newton, CAR (vs. Sea) – 20.68
  5. Carson Palmer, ARI (vs. Pit) – 19.88
  6. Eli Manning, NYG (vs. Phi) – 19.58
  7. Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. Mia) – 18.47
  8. Philip Rivers, SDC (vs. GBP) – 18.31
  9. Blake Bortles, JAC (vs. Hou) – 18.17
  10. Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. Car) – 17.03

Bortles is a guy I picked up in several of my redraft leagues last week, because Might Max had been showing a steady uptrend in his numbers. Good thing, because after he tossed four TDs this past Sunday, he was a hot call-up this week. Now I have a solid QB2 that can step in for my teams as a bye-week replacement or as the matchups dictate. I really like Dalton this week against a Buffalo squad that tends to make any opposing QB look really good.

Top 10 RB Plays:

  1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT (vs. Ari) – 25.19
  2. Dion Lewis, NEP (vs. Ind) – 21.27
  3. Matt Forte, CHI (vs. Det) – 20.00
  4. Adrian Peterson, MIN (vs. KCC) – 18.92
  5. DeMarco Murray, PHI (vs. NYG) – 18.00
  6. Chris Ivory, NYJ (vs. Was) – 16.76
  7. Frank Gore, IND (vs. NEP) – 15.11
  8. Eddie Lacy, GBP (vs. SDC) – 15.09
  9. Chris Johnson, ARI (vs. Pit) – 14.06
  10. Bishop Sankey, TEN (vs. Mia) – 13.26

By far the most interesting player on this list is Murray. Already suffering from the predicted Curse of 370, Murray’s name seems out of place as Max’s #5 RB this week; however, Mighty Max has no emotions about his earlier predictions. A high probability of a good performance is what it is… all math, no hunches or emotions. Murray at #5 it is; game on.

Top 10 WR Plays:

  1. Julian Edelman, NEP (vs. Ind) – 28.72
  2. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs. Pit) – 26.47
  3. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. Jac) – 25.47
  4. A.J. Green, CIN (vs. Buf) – 25.27
  5. Brandon Marshall, NYJ (vs. Was) – 24.94
  6. Jeremy Maclin, KCC (vs. Min) – 22.31
  7. Keenan Allen, SDC (vs. GBP) – 21.52
  8. Allen Robinson, JAC (vs. Hou) – 20.87
  9. Anquan Boldin, SFO (vs. Bal) – 20.53
  10. Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. Ari) – 19.65

Brown would have definitely placed higher than #10, but until Ben Roethlisberger gets back under center, there’s no avoiding the fact that Michael Vick simply does not get the ball into Brown’s hands as much as Big Ben. Why this is the case is beyond me, but if wishes were fishes we’d all ride. Or whatever that old saying is. Damn, I hate it when I don’t get my own references…

Top 10 TE Plays:

  1. Antonio Gates, SDC (vs. GBP) – 25.20
  2. Rob Gronkowski, NEP (vs. Ind) – 17.78
  3. Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs. Buf) – 16.22
  4. Gary Barnidge, CLE (vs. Den) – 14.28
  5. Greg Olsen, CAR (vs. Sea) – 14.11
  6. Martellus Bennett, CHI (vs. Det) – 13.03
  7. Travis Kelce, KCC (vs. Min) – 12.66
  8. Delanie Walker, TEN (vs. Mia) – 11.26
  9. Richard Rodgers, GBP (vs. SDC) – 10.18
  10. Larry Donnell, NYG (vs. Phi) – 9.96

Hey, I’m all in on the Barnidge bandwagon. I have to admit, I haven’t watched too many Browns’ games in their entirety, so my knowledge of Barnidge is limited to what I’ve seen on the RedZone channel (which is evidence of the existence of a higher being and the Love he has for us, IMHO) and the highlight shows; but any TE that can take a bomb, catch it falling down between his ankles while avoiding two DBs and have the presence of mind to break the plane of the goal line is golden in my book. Donnell is a decent TE play, unless you’re a Giants’ fan. If you’re a Giants fan, it drives you insane to see Donnell win a game with an incredible catch (like he did Sunday night against the 49ers), but earlier in the game drop three easy seam passes on 3rd down.

Steady, John, steady… be more like Mighty Max… leave emotion out of it…

About John Georgopoulos

John T. Georgopoulos is a 24-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions. You can also listen to and watch all his various shows at The Riot.