There was a brilliant coaching move by Bruce Arians this weekend. An unconventional coaching move that I’ll remember and use throughout this fantasy season.
New England traveled to Arizona this past weekend and pulled out a great victory. Lucky, but great. Yes, I said lucky, Patriot fans. It’s OK to admit it. Sometimes you need a little luck, especially on the road against a tough team, but the Patriots should not have won that game and if not for a bad snap they’d be 0-1 today.
So how did a great team that is brilliantly coached like New England find themselves in a game they should have lost? Simple, you had two fairly evenly matched teams, and because of that, the outcome of the game came down to the very end and Bruce Arians was the better coach in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Did I just insinuate that Bill Belichick got out coached? In the last 5 minutes of this game, yes. It is conventional coaching wisdom that when the opposing team is running down the field and you have a couple of timeouts left that you let them run all the way to the 2-minute mark and then you use all your timeouts to try to conserve the clock after that.
Arians wasn’t buying that method. As Jimmy Garoppolo started driving down the field and entered into Cardinals’ territory there was just under 5 minutes on the clock. The Cardinals held the Patriots on first down at which point Arians called a timeout. He what? That was the unmistakable echo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth from the press box into your T.V. screen. Both commentators openly questioned what Arians was doing. They clearly felt that Arians should just allow the Patriots to roll down the field and let the clock run until after the 2-minute warning.
Arians refreshed defensive unit then kept the Patriots to a 5-yard gain on 2nd down making it 3rd and 5. Arians called his last timeout. What? Now Michaels and Collinsworth were loudly contesting his decision making process. He was not doing what all other coaches always do and they didn’t seem to understand it. To me it seemed obvious. He was trusting his defense to get it done on the field and leave his team with well more than a few minutes to make their own run down the field. Guess what? It worked. The Cardinals held the Patriots on 3rd down, the Patriots kicked a field goal leaving 3 minutes and 44 seconds for the Cardinals to put themselves back into field goal range.
The Cardinals made it down the field with the time left to set up Chandler Catanzaro for the win. Now, in the end, he missed it and the Patriots won, but that is not because of Arians. He managed the timeouts perfectly, even though unconventional, and it gave the team a chance to win.
Sometimes you have to do the same thing in fantasy football. You have to look at the conventional wisdom about who to grab off the waiver wire and choose a different path. Why should you do what everybody else is doing when there might be a better choice out there for you to capitalize on? That is what I want to talk about today. Who conventional wisdom tells you to take versus who you might want to consider instead. Let’s start with the quarterbacks.
The QB position has already proven to be interesting this season with Tom Brady suspended, Tony Romo out, and now RGIII out for a month or so due to his shoulder injury. It’s also possible that you had Tyrod Taylor as your starter and are starting to re-think his abilities. Well if you have any of those players and find yourself looking for a QB this week, you may think that Jameis Winston would be a great pickup. I agree that in the long run Winston is a great pickup and after his 281 yards passing and 4-touchdown performance on Sunday, how could you blame a person for wanting to pick him up especially since he is available in over 40% of leagues.
If you are one of these owners let me point to his next 4 games. He plays at Arizona, versus the Rams, the Broncos then at the Panthers. That schedule is no bueno for any quarterback. So instead, I suggest that you look the direction of Carson Wentz. Wentz who is still available in 89% of leagues has a very nice upcoming schedule where he faces the Bears, Steelers, Lions and Redskins in his next 4 games.
Yes, he is a rookie but that rookie threw for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions on Sunday. He is very poised and with weapons like Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz there is no reason to believe that he won’t keep producing those type of numbers.
Alex Smith is also a name you are going to be hearing a lot from me this season. Smith is consistently boring. His style of play has so little pizzazz that he is available in 75% of leagues even though he puts up numbers like he did on Sunday, 363 yards and 2 touchdowns with an interception, more often than most would believe. He is a perfect example of a guy that owners pass on because he lacks flair.
Don’t be that owner. Smith scored more that 13 fantasy points in all but two of his games last year. He is not flashy and he won’t always give you huge numbers, but he will give you good numbers every week guaranteed.
Speaking of guaranteed, was there a more sure thing this weekend than Jalen Richard of the Oakland Raiders rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown? Ok, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but I do guarantee that he is going to be one of the more picked-up running backs off the waiver wire this week, and as fun and exciting as that is, (the opposite of Alex Smith), it is not a good move.
All but 9 of Richards yards came on one play and though it was spectacular, he is still 3rd on the depth chart behind a very capable Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington. The Raiders also have a great QB in Derek Carr and a young, fast WR corps. In other words, he probably won’t have another game like that this whole year.
Unfortunately, the running back position is not ripe with untapped fruit. So in some leagues Richard may be the best and only bet you have at grabbing a RB that could give you some points. However, there are still two RBs available in over 30% of leagues that will give you steady points each and every week. The first of which is Theo Riddick.
Riddick, available in 31% of leagues, ran for 45 yards and a TD and caught 5 passes for 63 yards an another TD. This is not an odd week for the very versatile back from Detroit. If you happen to be in one of the leagues that he is available you should grab him immediately and be very happy you were able to snag a viable flex RB off the waivers this early in the season.
The second RB to consider is Isiah Crowell. Crowell, available in 33% of leagues, ran for 62 yards and touchdown on Sunday against the Eagles. He is the number one back in Cleveland, will also give you a couple of catches every game as well and has a fairly nice upcoming schedule where he faces the Ravens, Dolphins and Redskins over the next 3 weeks. Again, you might not have any other choice besides Richard, but if you happen to have either of these two other veterans available, grab them up while everybody else is scrambling for the new Raider flavor of the week.