Tag Archives: #FantasySports


We’re through two weeks in the NFL season and what a ride!!!  The world seems topsy-turvy with the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tampa Bay Bucs at 2-0.  Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans are winless, and we’ve already seen two games end in a tie.  But how crazy has the fantasy season been???

  • QB – The top 3 fantasy scoring QBs are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Patrick Mahomes, and Kirk Cousins
  • RB – Matt Breida leads the NFL in rushing yards
  • WR – DeSean Jackson leads the NFL in receiving yards
  • TE – The top 3 fantasy scoring TEs are Jared Cook, Jesse James, and Will Dissly

Remember, we’re only 2 weeks into the season.  Starting this week, you will see fantasy owners panic and drop good players because they had 2 bad games.  Don’t overreact and try to cash in when other owners do.  After 4 weeks of poor play, then you can assess if a player needs to be cut.

So onto the “Fantasy Smoke & Fire” for week 2, where we read beyond the stat lines to determine player values moving forward.

Here are the four categories of players we look at each week:

  • On Fire – These are players that are exceeding expectations (or ADP), and we expect it to continue. Think waiver wire adds!
  • Smoke (and mirrors) – These are players that have performed well recently, but we do not expect it to continue. Don’t buy into the hype; pass on the waiver wire pickup.  Possibly look to trade them away with the value is high.
  • False Alarm – These are players that are underperforming recently, but we expect them to turn around. Don’t cut bait too early.  Possibly look to acquire them in a trade while the value is low.
  • On Ice – These are players that have not performed well, and we expect a poor season to continue. They should stay on the bench (or be cut depending on the player/circumstances).

On Fire – Obviously all of these players aren’t on waivers, but they have impressed and I expect it to continue.

Pos Player Comment
QB Patrick Mahomes 23/28 326-6-0.  I doubted Mahomes entering the year.  He’s the real deal and his decision making is quick/sharp. Never been a question of his cannon arm.
QB Kirk Cousins 35/48 425-4-1.  Same old slinging Cousins, just on a new team.
RB Chris Thompson 4-1 (13-92 on 14 targets).  He doesn’t always get the most touches, but I’m finally starting to buy into him.
RB Tevin Coleman 16-107 (4-18 on 4 targets).  Anytime Freeman (or Coleman) is out, the other is a great fantasy play.
RB Phillip Lindsay 14-107 (1-4 on 1 target).  Is Lindsay really the lead back of the Broncos?  We would all like to see them stick with one.
WR Will Fuller 8-113-1 on 9 targets.  Outside of Fuller and Hopkins, nobody else had more than 3 targets.  Fuller is 30-40% of the passing game.
WR Sammy Watkins 6-100 on 7 targets (1-31 rushing).  Looking like a resurgence as long as Mahomes keeps up his game.
WR Juju Smith-Schuster 13-121-1 on 19 targets.  He got more looks than AB.  It’ll continue with so much defensive attention payed to Brown.
WR Nelson Agholor 8-88-1 on 12 targets.  Outside of Ertz, he’s the most heavily involved in the passing game.  Will it continue with Wentz back next week?
WR Quincy Enunwa 7-92 on 11 targets.  Looks like Darnold’s go to guy.
WR Kenny Golladay 6-89-1 on 9 targets.  Just keeps pushing for looks from Stafford.  It will continue, but he’s still the #3 receiver til Marvin Jones falters.
WR Allen Robinson 10-83 on 14 targets.  Trubisky’s certainly looking his way.  I doubted his ADP this year but he may come through.
TE Will Dissly 3-42-1 on 5 targets.  He’s building trust from Wilson and should see looks with Baldwin out.


Smoke – They had a good start to the season, but I’m not sold on it continuing.

Pos Player Comment
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 27/33 402-4-1.  Fitz-Magic is rolling.  He’s on a hot streak and may keep the QB job from Winston.  But his career proves that he’s certainly not this good.
QB Andy Dalton 24/42 265-4-0.  Week 2 may be the only 4 TD game he has all year.  He’s no more that a low-end QB2 matchup play.
QB Blake Bortles 29/45 377-4-1 (6-35).  Bortles did everything he needed to do to beat the Patriots.  He’s not a fantasy QB that you want to lean on all season.
RB Matt Breida 11-138-1 (3-21 on 4 targets).  He had one great long run; the rest was mediocre.
WR DeSean Jackson 4-129-1 on 4 targets.  Jackson can’t keep this up all season.  He’ll always catch a few long ones, but the week to week consistency isn’t there.
WR Brandon Cooks 7-159 on 9 targets.  Goff spreads the ball around and I don’t expect a top 5 passing attack.  I don’t expect big games consistently.
WR Keelan Cole 7-116-1 on 8 targets.  Everyone will talk about the spectacular 1 handed catch.  That doesn’t get you extra fantasy points; and neither will Bortles.
TE Jesse James 5-138-1 on 5 targets.  Had some big plays, but the Steelers offense uses him as a safety valve more than a playmaker.


False Alarm – Don’t overreact to these players just because of a slow start; they’ll be fine moving forward.  If they get cut in your league, be quick to scoop them up.

False Alarm
Pos Player Comment
QB Aaron Rodgers 30/42 281-1-0.  The knee injury will only slightly impact his fantasy production over the next month.  Expect 90% of typical Rodgers.
RB Alex Collins 9-35 (3-55 on 4 targets).  Collins is still the man, but Bal was behind 21-0 early.
RB Adrian Peterson 11-20 (3-30 on 3 targets).  Surprising stat line against a bottom tier Ind def.  I expect a rebound.
RB Kareem Hunt 18-75 (1-5-1 on 1 target).  Don’t panic, but pounce if there’s a worried owner out there.  Also see Dalvin Cook…
RB Kenyan Drake 11-53-1 (4-17 on 4 targets).  I still believe in Drake, but need to see a big game by week 4.
RB Dalvin Cook 10-38 (3-52 on 5 targets).  Don’t panic, but pounce if there’s a worried owner out there. Also see Kareem Hunt…
RB Jordan Howard 14-35 (3-33 on 4 targets).  Still the workhorse; TDs will come.
WR SF Wide Receivers No one targeted more than 4 times.  Goodwin was out week 2.  Someone will step up, but who?
WR Odell Beckham Jr. 4-51 on 9 targets.  Still one of the best in the league.
TE Rob Gronkowski 2-15 on 4 targets.  Just because Jacksonville shut him down, it doesn’t mean other teams can replicate.


On Ice – These guys are not performing and I don’t expect it to turnaround any time soon (compared to expectations).

On Ice
Pos Player Comment
QB Andrew Luck 21/31 179-2-2.  I didn’t trust him as a top 5 QB before his shoulder injury in 2016; he’ll be up and down all year.
QB Sam Bradford 17/27 90-0-1.  How pitiful!!!  Is it time for Josh Rosen?
QB Case Keenum 19/35 222-0-1 (3-16-1).  Can any QB be successful in Denver these days?  Not looking good for Keenum
QB Russell Wilson 15/27 139-1-1.  Sacked 6 times in each of the first 2 games.  It’s gonna be tough sledding this year.
RB Derrick Henry 18-56.  Until teams respect the passing game, Henry won’t be a fantasy starter.
RB Dion Lewis 14-42 (1-1 on 1 target).  I like his chances at a rebound more than Henry because of his receiving ability, but the passing game stinks!!!
RB LeSean McCoy 9-39 (4-29 on 4 targets).  Terrible team, cracked ribs, age, nuff said…
RB Jamaal Williams 16-59 (3-12 on 4 targets).  I expected Williams to run with the RB job the first 2 wks.  Didn’t happen and here comes electric Aaron Jones back from suspension.
RB David Johnson 13-48 (1-3 on 2 targets).  That offense is beyond terrible.  DJ won’t improve until Bradford is benched (or turns around his career which is unlikely).
RB Royce Freeman 8-28-1 (1 target).  Overdrafted in many fantasy leagues (I didn’t buy in).  Lindsay looks like the preferred option and was already the 3rd down back.
RB Chris Carson 6-24 (1 target).  The Seattle backfield has been bad for years.  Looks like they’re ready to turn the page and see what their rookie RB has.
WR Robby Anderson 3-27 on 5 targets.  Looks like Enunwa is his go to option.
TE David Njoku 4-20 on 7 targets.  He’s an athletic freak, but hasn’t put it all together yet.

Hit me up on Twitter with any questions/comments @PghJohn36


Fantasy Football Review – Week 1 Waivers and Player Outlook

Fantasy football season has kicked off and many owners are already faced with tough decisions.  We’re here to read between the stat lines and help you determine the value of players moving forward.  We recommend waiver wire pickups, players you should pass on, and trade targets to exploit.

Here are the four categories of players we’ll look at each week in the “Fantasy Smoke & Fire”:

  • On Fire – These are players that are exceeding expectations (or ADP), and we expect it to continue. Think waiver wire adds!
  • Smoke (and mirrors) – These are players that have performed well recently, but we do not expect it to continue. Don’t buy into the hype; pass on the waiver wire pickup.  Possibly look to trade them away with the value is high.
  • False Alarm – These are players that are underperforming recently, but we expect them to turn around. Don’t cut bait too early.  Possibly look to acquire them in a trade while the value is low.
  • On Ice – These are players that have not performed well, and we expect a poor season to continue. They should stay on the bench (or be cut depending on the player/circumstances).

On Fire – Obviously all of these players aren’t on waivers, but they impressed week 1 and I expect it to continue.

Pos Player Week 1 Stats / Comment
QB Tom Brady In mid-season form; nuff said!
QB Philip Rivers 34/51 424-3-1:  Usually puts up QB1 stats.
RB James Conner 31-135-2 (5-57 on 6 targets):  Le’Veon who???
RB Adrian Peterson 26-96-1 (2-70):  Use him now and trade mid-season before he wears down.
WR Tyreek Hill 7-169-2 on 8 targets:  Maybe they will utilize him in enough gadget plays to make him useful all year.
WR Emmanuel Sanders 10-135-1:  Expecting a great year and drafted him accordingly
WR Kenny Golladay 7-114 on 12 targets:  He just may break through in year 2; at Marvin Jones expense
TE Jared Cook 9-180 on 12 targets:  Carr couldn’t hit the WR’s at all.  He may be a top 6 TE year; especially with Olsen and Walker injured.
TE George Kittle 5-90 on 9 targets:  See Jared Cook above…
TE Baltimore (3 TE’s) Boyle/Williams/Andrews 13 targets combined for 9-103-0.  How will Hayden Hurst fit in and when will he return?
TE Indianapolis (2 TE’s) Jack Doyle 7-60 on 10 targets, Eric Ebron 4-51-1 on 5 targets


Smoke – They had a good first week, but I’m not sold on it continuing.

Pos Player Comment
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 21/28 417-4-0 (7 incompletions):  Don’t expect a repeat; but could take job from Winston.
RB Lamar Miller Don’t expect 20 carries and 5 ypc every week.
RB Chris Thompson 5-65 (long of 16) & 6-63-1 on 7 targets:  He’ll get 10-15 touches per game, but I don’t see a consistent 10 yards per touch.
WR Kenny Stills Don’t count on Stills 4-106-2 on 5 targets weekly.  2 TDs on 5 targets isn’t sustainable.  And DeVante Parker is returning soon.
WR DeSean Jackson 5-146-2:  See Stills above…
WR Randall Cobb 9-142-1:  Rodgers spreads the ball around.  I’m not sold that Cobb will be the guy week to week.
TE Will Dissly 3-105-1 on 5 targets:  This guy isn’t a pass catcher and won’t get another 66 yd TD in his career.


False Alarm – Don’t overreact to these players just because of a slow start; they’ll be fine moving forward.

False Alarm
Pos Player Comment
QB Ben Roethlisberger 355-1-3 (5 turnovers total):  Tough week against a hungry team. Ben is always good for a few stinkers and plays better at home.
QB Matthew Stafford 27/46 286-1-4:  See Ben above…
RB Alex Collins 7-13-1 (1-6 on 1 target):  The week 1 game was a blowout, Dixon got garbage time, he’ll be just fine.
RB Kareem Hunt 16-49 & 1 target:  He’s a fantasy 1st round pick for a reason.  If he has a tough week 2 @ Pittsburgh, I’d try to buy low from his owner.
RB David Johnson 9-37-1 (5-30 on 9 targets) – The offense is definately suspect, but DJ is too good!  Look for a big bounce back game in week 2.
WR Josh Gordon 1-17-1 on 3 targets – He will win contested balls; he just needs the QB to throw them.
TE Zach Ertz 5-48 on 10 targets:   Wentz will be back soon and Ertz is still the teams receiving crutch.
TE Trey Burton 1-15 on 6 targets:  Better things to come.


On Ice – These guys are not performing and I don’t expect it to turnaround any time soon compared to their draft spots.

On Ice
Pos Player Comment
QB Nick Foles 19/34 117-0-1:  Still doesn’t look good and Wentz might be back for week 3.
QB Matt Ryan 21/43 251-0-1:  Overrated for fantasy since his Superbowl season; becoming more of a game manager not a slinger.
QB DeShaun Watson Will he live up to his top 5 QB draft status?  Maybe in a few weeks.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo 15/33 261-1-3:  Played against a tough Minnesota defense, but I think he was overrated going into the season.  He’s a high QB2.
RB LeSean McCoy We all knew it was going to be a tough year.  It may get ugly.
RB Ronald Jones Inactive and can’t block.
RB Duke Johnson 9-37-1 (5-30):  He’ll catch some balls, but it’s Hyde’s backfield.
RB Ezekiel Elliott 15-69-1 (3-17):  Looks like a tough year and that’s what I expected.  He won’t be a top 5 RB, but he’ll still get 1,200+ yards and 10+ TDs.
RB Jamaal Williams 15-47-0 & 2 targets:  I was hoping for more going into the season.  He better turn it around quickly before Aaron Jones steals the job.
WR John Ross 1-3-1 on 2.  Will he show up this year?  Doesn’t look like it as of now.
WR Robby Anderson 1-41-1 on 1:  Probably the best WR on the Jets. He was only targeted once, but it was a 41 yd TD.  Should be Darnold’s bff!
WR Amari Cooper 1-9 on 3:  Another dreadful game.  The team doesn’t look good.
TE Jimmy Graham 2-8 on 4 targets:  Aaron Rodgers didn’t utilize his new target in week 1.  Can’t count on Graham til the chemistry develops.

Hit me up on Twitter with any questions/comments @PghJohn36

Outfield Rankings – Balance Your Team

In most leagues, you are required start 5 outfielders.  While I always want the best player available at each position, sometimes it’s a close call between a few guys and I focus on category needs here.  Your #4/#5 outfielders will not be elite.  I like to utilize those spots to make up for a category deficiency.  If I didn’t secure a Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, or Trea turner, I’ll probably go after a speed guy in the OF as one of my later picks.  If I’m short on power, I may target a 30+ HR bat that will bat .220 (think Adam Dunn).  With 5 slots to fill, there are plenty of ways to construct an outfield.  On to the rankings…

Scorching Hot (Top Tier)

I have 10 players in my top tier for outfielders.  All of these players except for Mookie Betts projects to hit at least 33 HRs.  They may not all be 5 category studs, but they’re exceptional in the things they do well.  Position rank is in (#).

(1)  Mike Trout – The best player in fantasy baseball.  Nuf said!
(2)  Bryce Harper – Over his 6 yr career, he’s only hit 30 HRs once, scored more than 100 runs once, never had a 100 RBI season, and is a career .285 hitter.  He’s getting over drafted in the top 5 based on potential.
(3)  Giancarlo Stanton – He probably has the biggest home run bat in the MLB and just went to a better home ballpark in New York.  Can he really hit more than the 59 he smashed in 2017?  Gotta stay healthy.
(4)  Charlie Blackmon – In Colorado and expecting a 30/10 season batting above .300.
(5)  Mookie Betts – He just might put up a 25/25 season and lead the AL in runs scored atop the lineup.
(6)  Aaron Judge – Is 50 HRs in his future for 2018?
(7)  George Springer – The reigning World Series champs won’t have a lack of offense, and Springer will be in the heart of it.
(8)  Jose Martinez – Can he deliver a 30/20 season?  It’ll be close and he’ll bat over .300.
  Cody Bellinger – He had a fantastic rookie campaign, but will he see a sophomore slump?
(10)  Justin Upton – Don’t write him off.  He’s not in an improved Angels lineup and should deliver a 30/10 season and close to 100 Runs and RBIs


Fire Bombs (Power Tier expecting 30+ HRs)

There’s plenty of power to be found in the outfield if you are willing to deal with a few shortcomings (usually batting average).  35+ HRs for any of these guys is possible.

Rhys Hoskins – I like Hoskins and expect around 35 HRs, but I typically like to see more of a track record before putting a player in the top tier.  How will the revamped lineup play out in Philly?
Khris Davis – This guy crushes the ball and should hit 40 HRs.  The A’s lineup has improved.
Marcel Ozuna – His 37 HRs last year were a career best by far.  I’m not sure that he’ll match that number, but expect 30+ with the Cardinals.
Jay Bruce – He should have another 30 HR season with the Mets.  He’s done it in 5 of the past 7 years.
Adam Duvall – The outfield in Cincinatti is crowded with Schebler, Hamilton, Duvall, and Winker.  Duvall should reach the 30 HR plateau.
Scott Schebler – See above regarding Adam Duvall.  30 HR possibility.
Kyle Schwarber – His batting average will kill you, but he should get enough playing time to amass 30 HRs.

Lightning (Speed Tier expecting 20+ SBs)

These guys may not provide much power, but they’ll definitely help some in the stolen base category.

Lorenzo Cain – He won’t wow you in any one category, but the SBs and runs can help.
Billy Hamilton – 50+ SBs are almost a lock.  So is a deficiency in RBIs and batting average.
Delino DeShields
– Looks like he’ll be leading off for the Rangers.  I can see 30 SBs and 100 Runs.
Rajai Davis – He’ll get about 30 SBs as the 4th outfielders for Cleveland.
Hernan Perez – We have to see how much playing time he’ll have after the Brewers outfield acquisitions.
Cameron Maybin – Can’t stay healthy, but he runs.
Jarrod Dyson – He will get more playing time with Souza out; expect 30 SBs

Combination Platter (Power/Speed Combo expecting 15/15)

These guys provide a little bit of power and speed to help in both categories with projected HR/SBs.

Andrew Benintendi – 20/20
Tommy Pham – 24/19
Starling Marte – 15/36
A.J. Pollock – 17/26
Eduardo Nunez – 15/28
Chris Taylor – 21/16
Byron Buxton – 20/32
Ian Desmond – 20/19
Gregory Polanco – 20/15
Brett Gardner – 15/20
Bradley Zimmer – 15/26
Michael Taylor – 19/23
Kevin Kiermaier – 18/21
Manuel Margot – 15/22
Carlos Gomez – 16/15
Keon Broxton

Remember that my rankings (unless otherwise stated) are based on a standard 5×5 league.  Players qualify at any position where they played 20+ games in 2017.  Make sure you know your specific league’s scoring, roster size, transaction process, and any other important settings.

Third Base Rankings – Hit or Miss!

Remember that my rankings (unless otherwise stated) are based on a standard 5×5 league.  Players qualify at any position where they played 20+ games in 2017.  Make sure you know your specific league’s scoring, roster size, transaction process, and any other important settings.

Third Base is a position that I feel will be very hit or miss.  Many of the players have question marks and this includes the veterans as well as younger players.  While third base doesn’t have quite the same power products as first base, you still want to target players getting at least 25 HR, preferably 30.  On to the rankings…

Scorching Hot (Top Tier)

This is my top tier for third basemen.  These players are the clear cut studs at the position.  These guys should go 90-30-90 and bat .280+.  Position rank is in (#).

(1)  Nolan Arenado – He’s a consensus top 5 overall pick and a foundation for a fantasy team.
(2)  Kris Bryant – Averages 106-31-91 over the past 3 years, chips in about 10 SBs, and is a career .288 hitter.
(3)  Josh Donaldson – He’s not getting enough love.  Averages 103-37-100 over the past 3 years and should hit .280.
(4)  Jose Ramirez – Can he deliver a 30/20 season?  It’ll be close and he’ll bat over .300.
(5)  Manny Machado – Consistent, young, and one of the best.  He’s so good that he could be the top 3B by years end.

Burning Bright (Second Tier)

This is my second tier for second basemen.  There’s a slight drop from the top, but solid contributors that you can count on.

(6)  Anthony Rendon – He’ll give you all around production, but not quite top tier caliber.
(7)  Rafael Devers – He’s young and expected to bat in the middle of Boston’s lineup.  He could hit 30 dingers, but I’m expecting slightly less.  He has ton’s of upside.
  Alex Bregman – Another all around player.  He should deliver 80-20-80-15.
(10)  Travis Shaw – He had his first 30 HR season last year with over 500 at bats.  Will he repeat?
  Jake Lamb – He’s averaged 85-29-98 over the past 2 seasons.  You could do worse.
(12)  Eduardo Nunez – Averaging 32 SBs over the past two years and also in that same Boston lineup.
(13)  Kyle Seager – This guy is consistent, but unspectacular.  He’ll be around 80-28-90 again.
(15)  Adrian Beltre – How much does this guy have left at age 38.  20 HRs -> Maybe?  .300 hitter -> Yes!
(20)  Justin Turner – I’m expecting him to miss the first month of the season which drops him down.

Fire Bombs (Power Tier)

There’s some power to be found at 3B, but these guys may drag you down in batting average.  35+ HRs for any of these guys is possible.

(8)  Miguel Sano – He’s one of the biggest mashers at 3B.  He has yet to top 30 HRs, but has never had over 440 at bats in a season.  The power is for real, but the batting average needs to improve.
(14)  Joey Gallo – If you can stomach his low batting average (career .201), his HRs will make you happy.
(16)  Mike Moustakas – Until last year, he never hit more than 22 dingers in his first 6 seasons.  He busted out with 38 last year.  Don’t look for a repeat, but it’s obvious he’s capable.
(22)  Todd Frazier – This guy has a 40 HR season and averages 34 over the past 3 years.  Batting average killer!
(30)  Matt Chapman – He crushes the ball and his low batting average crushes that category.
(37)  Matt Davidson – See Matt Chapman above…

Hot Lottery Tickets (3B Sleepers)

(17)  Evan Longoria – I can see an 80-25-90 season; not too bad.
(21)  Ryon Healy – He’s locked down the starting 1B job in Seattle coming off of his 25 HR campaign in Oakland.
(23)  Maikel Franco – Can he return to form now that Carlos Santana has taken him under his wing?  This is a make or break season for the Phillie.  Can he reach his 30 HR potential?
(24)  Nick Senzel – This is only minor leaguer that is worth a ticket.  It won’t be long til he’s in the majors.

Second Base Rankings – Deeper Than In The Past, I’ll Wait!

Remember that my rankings (unless otherwise stated) are based on a standard 5×5 league.  Players qualify at any position where they played 20+ games in 2017.  Make sure you know your specific league’s scoring, roster size, transaction process, and any other important settings.

Second Base is a deep position, unlike in the past.  When drafting your 2B and/or middle infield spots, remember that 20 HRs are what 15 HRs were in the past.  Unless you’re stealing 20+ bases, I don’t want a middle infielder with less than 20.  There’s plenty of guys that can fill the void if you miss out on the best.  On to the rankings…

Scorching Hot (Top Tier)

This is my top tier for second basemen.  There’s a handful of guys that are difference makers, and the rest can be had later in drafts.  Starting your team off with one of these 5 players will have you in a good place, if you get them at the right price.  Position rank is in (#).

(1)  Jose Altuve – Frequently a top 2 overall pick, he’s the best at the position (and just got paid!).
(2)  Jose Ramirez – Can he deliver a 30/20 season?  It’ll be close and he’ll bat over .300.
(3)  Brian Dozier – He’s the best power hitter at 2B.  He’s averaged 35 HRs over the past 3 years.
(4)  Dee Gordon – Forget power for a minute.  He should run away with the AL stolen base crown and lead your team a high ranking in that category.
(5)  Jonathan Schoop – He’s averaged 87 runs, 28 HRs, and 93 RBIs over the past two years.  I’m higher on him than most people.

Burning Bright (Second Tier)

This is my second tier for second basemen.  There’s a slight drop from the top, but solid contributors that you can count on.

(6)  Daniel Murphy – He’s 32 and not fully recovered from knee surgery last October.  He’ll miss opening day and I’m not sure when he’ll return to form.  He’s fallen out of the top tier for me.
(7)  Robinson Cano – Since 2009, he’s only had 1 season under 20 HRs, averaging 28 over the past 3 years.  He’s a plus in 4 categories.
(8)  Rougned Odor – He’s basically gone 30 HR / 15 SB in back to back years.
(9)  Whit Merrifield – I’m not as high on Merrifield as others.  He led the AL in stolen bases last year with 34, but don’t expect a repeat of 19 HRs.  Look closer to 15 HRs.

Lightning (Speed Tier)

These guys may not provide much power, but they’ll definitely help some in the stolen base category.

(10)  Eduardo Nunez – Averaging 32 SBs over the past two years and in a potent Boston lineup.
(13)  Ozzie Albies – I think this youngster is going to have a great year and should approach 20 SBs.
Jonathan Villar – He’s battling for a starting gig, but he’ll get about 30 stolen bases this year.
(23)  Cesar Hernandez – He should be hitting atop the Phillies lineup for now, but has Scott Kingery breathing down his neck in the minors.  HRs and RBIs are a big deficiency.
(33)  Jose Peraza – He should start at SS and could flirt with 30 SBs if he improves his OBP.

Keep Me Warm (The Rest – That I Like)

This is a group of players that I like in the late rounds to fill out my middle infield spot…

  • Chris Taylor
  • Ian Kinsler
  • Yoan Moncada
  • Ian Happ
  • Marwin Gonzalez
  • Paul DeJong
  • Jason Kipnis
  • Neil Walker

Cold As Ice (The Rest – I Don’t Like)

  • Scooter Gennett
  • Dustin Pedroia
  • Eric Sogard
  • Joe Panik
  • Brad Miller

First Base Rankings – Better Get Your Power Here!

In my first positional ranking article, I want to lay out that all rankings (unless otherwise stated) are based on a standard 5×5 league.  Players qualify at any position where they played 20+ games in 2017.  It’s important that you understand your league’s scoring, roster size, transaction process, and any other important settings.

Whether drafting for fantasy football or baseball, I’ve had the most success building tiers of players by position.  As the draft goes on, I can see by position when a “tier” of players with similar projections are getting thin.  Then a decision is to be made if I pounce on the last one of a tier, or if I need to focus on a larger positional need.  This approach helps you to have a few players to target before your draft pick comes up.  Don’t be that guy at the draft who’s constantly late with their picks and annoying everyone else.  On to the rankings…

First base is a deep position and there are sleepers and value late.  Make sure you get power numbers from this position.  If you don’t, you’ll be behind the league in this day and age of power bats.

Scorching Hot (Top Tier)

This is my top tier for first basemen; and it’s deeeeeep.  I want one of these top 8 guys on my roster.  If I miss out, then I’m going to wait in the draft to find value.  Rhys Hoskins just made the top tier as of this writing.  Position rank is in (#).

(1)  Paul Goldschmidt – He’s at the top, but falling in some drafts to the middle/late 1st round.  Snag him up and don’t worry about the “humidor” effect.
(2)  Joey Votto – Just keeps ticking.
(3)  Freddie Freeman – Looking to be a consensus top 3 1B.  He’ll do fine; even with that Braves lineup.
(4)  Anthony Rizzo – Consistently produces; and I like consistency!
(5)  Cody Bellinger – He had a fantastic rookie campaign, but will he see a sophomore slump?
(6)  Edwin Encarnacion – This guy will be a DH, but still eligible at 1B in many leagues.  He may be 35, but he’s averaged over 38 HRs over the past six years and got 42 twice!
(7)  Jose Abreu – Another consistent producer.  He’s not the biggest masher, but he’ll get you about 30 HRs and is a career .301 hitter which gets overlooked.
(8)  Rhys Hoskins – I like Hoskins and expect around 35 HRs, but I typically like to see more of a track record before putting a player in the top tier.  How will the revamped lineup play out in Philly?

Fire Bombs (Power Tier)

These guys may have deficiencies, but they can flat out mash the ball.  That often comes with a low batting average, but 40+ HRs for any of these guys is possible.

(12)  Matt Olson – This guy is undervalued and should be at the 35 HR range.  Cheap version of Cody Bellinger / Rhys Hoskins.
(13)  Joey Gallo – If you can stomach his low batting average (career .201), his HRs will make you happy.
(16)  Justin Smoak – Was the 38 HRs from 2017 all “smoak” and mirrors?  It was his first year over 30 HRs, but also his first year with 500+ at bats.
(24)  Chris Davis – In the past 5 years, he has seasons of 53, 47, and 38 HRs.  The two other years he only got 450 at bats and blasted only 26 in down years.  He’s averaged 37 over the past 3 years.  For how late you get him, it’s worth a shot.

Warm Embers (Middle Tier)

This group of guys aren’t the most exciting, but they fall outside of the top tier, are veterans, and will provide value.

(9)  Eric Hosmer – He’s not going to get you the HRs you need, but fills out other categories.
(10)  Wil Myers – He may flirt with 30 HRs and he’s one of the few 1B eligible players who will get double digit steals.
(11)  Miguel Cabrera – This perennial first round pick has fallen, probably too far.  Expect a bounce back to about 30 HRs and a .300+ batting average with better health.
(14)  Carlos Santana – The new Philly brings his veteran presence to the young lineup and should flirt with 30 dingers.
(15)  Ryan Zimmerman – He resurrected his career last year, will he repeat after 3 down years?
(17)  Matt Carpenter – Another veteran coming off of a down year.  Don’t let him slip too far.

Lottery Tickets (I Like With Potential)

This is a group of players that I like in the later rounds; let’s see what they can do…

  • Justin Bour
  • Josh Bell
  • Ryan McMahon
  • Trey Mancini
  • Logan Morrison
  • Ryon Healy
  • Greg Bird
  • J. Cron

Cold As Ice (Likely Won’t Draft)

  • Eric Thames
  • Yonder Alonso
  • Brandon Belt
  • Danny Valencia

NFL Week 5 Fantasy Impact

To win a fantasy championship, you need to be active on the waiver wire.  You need to know which players are truly waiver wire gems and which ones are a flash in the pan that you should pass on.  There are a few fundamental questions you should ask yourself before making moves:

  • What are my positional needs?

If you already have 6 RBs on your roster, you probably don’t need to pick up another.  Be aware of your depth.  Look at your players’ upcoming bye weeks so you know how your lineup will shake out in those crucial weeks.

  • What do I need from this player addition?

Obviously, we need that player to perform, but you need to understand if you have a short term or long term need.  If you just need a bye week replacement at QB, Brian Hoyer may be better for Week 6.  If your QB goes down for the year and need someone more steady, you may want to look at Alex Smith.

  • Do I have any dead weight?

If you have players on your roster that aren’t performing, and you don’t expect them to turn it around, then cut them.  Take a flyer on a high potential player, someone coming back from injury in a few weeks, or a backup RB in case of injury.

Here is what I see on the Waiver Wire landscape going into Week 6…

Waiver Wire – Buy or Pass


Sammie Coates – Coates is usually good for a big play or two, but has problems with drops dating back to college.  He’s a decent add on a potent Steelers passing attack, but he’s not a PPR machine.

Chris Hogan – Now that Tom Brady is back, the whole offense gets an upgrade.  He won’t have big games every week, but in that passing attack you can never count one out.

Jacquizz Rodgers – He went over 100 yards without Doug Martin active and looks to get work whenever Martin is out.  I expect Rodgers to fill Sims role as the receiving back even when Martin plays.

Jeremy Kerley – I’ve never been a Kerley fan, but he’s getting utilized in San Francisco.  Kerley (8-102-1 on 14 targets) has scored in 2 straight games and seems to have decent chemistry with Blaine Gabbert.  The only problem is the 49ers are toying with the idea of bringing Colin Kaepernick back as the starter.

James Starks – Lacy went down with an ankle injury but it’s not believed to be serious.  If you’re a Lacy owner, this should be your reminder that you need to roster Starks no matter what.  When Lacy doesn’t play, Starks always gets the full workload.

Eddie Royal – Alshon Jeffery is struggling and Royal is benefiting.  Royal’s worth a look in PPR leagues.

Tyrell Williams – I like Williams if you need a steady WR4.  He’s had at least 60 yards in 4 of 5 games and 5+ catches in 3 of 5.

Brian Hoyer – Hoyer has been great in his short stint as the starter and Cutler may not get his job back.  I don’t trust Hoyer as my starter for the year, but I like Hoyer if you need a fill-in for a week or two.

Donte Moncrief – He was supposed to be the 2nd receiver on a potent Colts offense, but suffered shoulder injury in Week 2 with the initial prognosis of 4-6 weeks.  He’s now 3 weeks in and could be nearing a return shortly.  If you’re in need at WR and he’s unowned, keep him on your radar because you won’t want to miss out on his production come Week 8 through the fantasy playoffs.

Justin Forsett / Dwayne Washington – The Detroit Lions have Theo Riddick, but they don’t really want to use him as an every down back.  You can take a flyer on Washington hoping that he comes back from injury and takes the lead RB job.  The Lions also just signed veteran Justin Forsett which is intriguing.

Quincy Enunwa – Like Tyrell Williams, he’s a steady WR4.  He’s had at least 50 yards in 4 of 5 games and is averaging nearly 8 targets per game.

Tavon Austin – Austin has big play ability, but the Rams offense is a mess.  He’s seen at least 8 targets in 4 of 5 games and chipped in 20+ yards rushing in 2 of 5.  He’s not a great option, but you could do worse to round out your bench.


Cameron Meredith – He’ll have a decent game or two, but I’m not wasting my time.  Of everyone on the pass list, he at least has a shot to be decent.

Dontrelle Inman – Week 4’s “one week wonder” fell back to earth with 1 catch in Week 5.

Adam Thielen – And for the surprise of the week, Adam Thielen (7-127-1 on 8 targets) led the Vikings in receiving with Stefon Diggs absent.  Thielen isn’t worth your time; Diggs will be back soon enough.

Oakland RBs (Excluding L. Murray) – In Latavius Murray’s absence, the workload was split and nobody stepped up.  DeAndre Washington (9-23), Jalen Richard (8-31), and Jamize Olawale (6-22-1).  There’s too much uncertainty in this backfield outside of Murray.

Week 5 – Aerial Attack

Tom Brady / Martellus Bennett – Welcome back Tom Brady!  He looked in midseason form on Sunday going 28/40 for 406 yards and 3 TDs with no picks.  Brady loved his TEs in this one as Rob Gronkowski (5-109 on 7 targets) went over 100 yards and Martellus Bennett (6-67-3 on 8 targets) scored 3 TDs.  Chris Hogan (4-114 on 5 targets) also went over 100 yards.

Ben Roethlisberger / Sammie Coates – The weather is getting colder in Pittsburgh so Big Ben pulled out his Coates in this one.  Ben was 34/47 for 380 yards with 4 TDs.  Sammie Coates (6-139-2 on 11 targets) dropped a ton of crucial passes but managed to catch 2 TDs.  He better work on his drops if he wants Roethelisberger to continue to look his way.

Derek Carr / Amari Cooper – Carr (25/40, 317 yards with 2 TDs / 1 Int) went over 300 yards against the Chargers and finally found his #1 WR for a solid game.  This was Amari Cooper’s (6-138-1 on 12 targets) best game of the year with his 1st TD and topping 100 yards for only the 2nd time.  Michael Crabtree (3-47-1 on 7 targets) also scored again.  I said last week to buy low on this guy; this week may be your last chance.

Brian Hoyer / Cameron Meredith – And just like last week, of course everyone expected this…  This time it was Cameron Meredith (9-130-1 on 12 targets), not Eddie Royal (7-43 on 9 targets) who shined for his QB.  Brian Hoyer may have won the QB job outright, even when Jay Cutler comes back from his thumb injury.  Hoyer was 33/43 for 397 yards with 2 TDs and no picks.  Hoyer has thrown for over 300 yards with 2 TDs and no Ints in his last three games!  He has a juicy matchup against Jacksonville this week, but then they are @GB and home against Min before his Week 9 bye.

Philip Rivers / Travis Benjamin / Tyrell Williams – Philip Rivers (21/30 for 359 yards with 4 TDs / 2 Ints) continues to impress and had his 3rd straight 300 yard game and has thrown 4 TDs in 2 of his last 4 games.  Travis Benjamin (7-117-0 on 11 targets) and Tyrell Williams (5-117-1 on 6 targets) both had 117 yards receiving with Williams also snagging a TD.  Rivers will spread the ball around and remain a QB1 for this year.  As for the WRs, you never know which one will put up stats.  Dontrelle Inman (1-3 on 3 targets) disappeared after last week’s 100 yard performance.

Andrew Luck / T.Y. Hilton – Andrew Luck abused the Chicago Bears secondary for 322 yards and 2 TDs.  T.Y. Hilton (10-171-1 on 11 targets) has scored in 3 straight games and received at least 10 targets in each game this year.

Brandon Marshall – Marshall (8-114-1) saw a whopping 15 targets against a subpar Steelers defense and scored a TD.  He’s now scored in back-to-back games and has seen his targets increase each week.  The recent spike is due to Eric Decker being sidelined, but he’s seen at least 8 targets in every game.

Greg Olsen – Greg Olsen (9-181-0 on 13 targets) helped Derek Anderson in the passing attack this week with Cam Newton out.  Olsen is without question a top 3 TE.

Larry Fitzgerald – With Drew Stanton under center, I didn’t expect a big game from Fitzgerald (6-81-2 on 8 targets) and boy was I wrong.  Fitz scored twice and now has 5 on the season.  On the downside, he’s yet to top 100 yards receiving.

Week 5 – Ground Breakers

David Johnson – On Thursday, David Johnson (27-157-2 and 3-28 on 6 targets) showed why he was such a high draft pick.  This was his first 100 yard game, but he does have 5 TDs on the season.

Ezekiel Elliott – This guy seems to be on this list every week!  Elliott (15-134-2 and 3-37) had another big game and now leads the NFL in carries and rushing yards.

Le’Veon Bell – Bell (20-66-0 and 9-88 on 11 targets) had a tough time in the running game, but showed up as a receiver.  Bell gets one of the biggest workloads in the leagues so he’ll always put up stats one way or another.

LeSean McCoy – McCoy (18-150-0 and 2-8) had a big game against a tough Rams defense.  The Bills are now hitting their stride; they have San Francisco at home and are at Miami the next two weeks.

Theo Riddick – Riddick (11-49 and 6-33-2 on 6 targets) was mediocre but did catch 2 TDs and led the team in carries.  Riddick is the only back making a fantasy impact right now, but Zack Zenner (7-9) did steal some carries.

Injury Report (And Replacements)

Trevor Siemian (Shoulder) – Siemian is expected to return for the Broncos Week 6 game at San Diego on Thursday.  I don’t think I can start him this week, but he does have a juicy matchup.

Tony Romo (Back) – Romo is undergoing another MRI on his back and it’s possible that he returns after the Cowboy’s Week 7 bye.  There’s also talk that he may not even get the starting gig back, but Jerry Jones denies those rumors.

Cam Newton (Concussion) – Cam is questionable for Week 6 with a concussion.

Carson Palmer (Concussion) – As of now, Palmer is still listed as questionable for Week 6 with a concussion, but he’s expected to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol on Tuesday.

Eddie Lacy (Ankle) – Lacy was having a good game before he injured his ankle in the 3rd quarter; he’s questionable for Week 6 vs. Dallas.  The injury is not serious, but James Starks is always a must have for Lacy owners.

Jeremy Hill (Chest) – Hill reinjured his shoulder/chest and did not finish the game on Sunday.  He’s questionable for Week 6 at New England but initial reports are that he’s expected to play.  Bump up Giovani Bernard a few spots.

Latavius Murray (Turf Toe) – Murray missed Week 5’s game and the work was split between DeAndre Washington (9-23 and 5-29), Jalen Richard (8-31 and 6-66), and Jamize Olawale (6-22-1).  Murray is questionable for Week 6 vs. Kansas City but the team is hopeful he can play.

Doug Martin (Hamstring) / Charles Sims (IR – Knee) – Both Doug Martin and Charles Sims missed Monday night’s game against Carolina and Sims was placed on IR.  Jacquizz Rodgers (30-101-0 and 5-28 on 6 targets) led the way in Week 6.  Rodgers is the new Sims.

Rashad Jennings (Thumb) – Jennings is still questionable to play this week.  In his absence in Week 5, Orleans Darkwa got 7 carries, Bobby Rainey got 5, and Paul Perkins got 2.  Rainey also caught 6 balls and has become the new Shane Vereen.

Jonathan Stewart (Hamstring) – Questionable for Week 6.  In Week 5, Cameron Artis-Payne (18-85-2) and Fozzy Whittaker (5-45) shared the workload.

Arian Foster (Hamstring) – Questionable for Week 6.

Jeremy Langford (Ankle) – Langford has missed the past 2 weeks and may not have a job when he gets back.  Jordan Howard has back-to-back 100 yard games and has been giving the Bears a chance to win.

Thomas Rawls (Lower Leg) – Rawls is out for Week 6 vs. Atlanta.  Christine Michael will continue to fill in.

Randall Cobb (Neck) – Cobb took a nasty hit to his head/neck on Sunday.  He’s listed as questionable, but appears to be okay and expects to play Week 6 vs. Dallas.

Steve Smith (Ankle) – Smith left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.  He’s questionable for week 6.

Dez Bryant (Knee) – Bryant is questionable for Week 6, but there’s a good possibility he sits this one out.  Dallas has a Week 7 bye and they do not want to rush back their star receiver.  Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Brice Butler will need to fill in if he’s out again.

Eric Decker (Shoulder) – Decker is questionable for Week 6.  Quincy Enunwa would get the start opposite Brandon Marshall.

Stefon Diggs (Groin) – Diggs missed Week 5 but will hopefully be recovered from his groin injury after his Week 6 bye.

Mike Wallace (Undisclosed) – Wallace got crumpled on the last play of the game on Sunday.  He’s questionable for Week 6.

Terrance Williams (Shoulder) – It’s believed that Williams suffered a sprained AC joint.  He’s optimistic that he won’t miss any time, but we’ll have to see how he progresses at practice this week.

Gary Barnidge (Ankle) – Barnidge suffered an ankle injury, but it doesn’t appear to be serious.  He’s questionable for Week 6.

Tyler Eifert (Back) – Eifert is questionable to make his season debut in Week 6 at New England.

Words of Wisdom

When it comes to lineup decisions, play your studs.  You should only utilize matchups and surrounding circumstances when comparing two players on a similar tier.  I’m not starting Terrance West @NYG over Mark Ingram vs. Carolina.  West may still put up better stats at the end of the day, but you drafted Ingram for a reason.  I’d rather lose with my studs than take a chance on a lesser player having a good day because of matchup.

Week 6 is right around the corner with the San Diego Chargers hosting the Denver Broncos on Thursday.  It should be a good one!

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Stars and Stiffs Report

cam 2

On the verge of Week 2, the Stars and Stiffs Report is here to point out the guys you should feel safe about starting and the ones who are better off left at the bar until closing time. After one of the most exciting opening weeks in fantasy history in the books,, there is plenty to be concerned about heading into Week 2.

Guys like OBJ and Dez Bryant,  who didn’t perform well last week, will still get their numbers going forward. However, if you are a Jamaal Charles or Sammy Watkins owner, now is the time to be concerned. The constant fear of injuries always exists, but when guys coming off of a specific procedure either can’t get on the field or admit still being sore, the feeling of nervousness is definitely warranted. Now that we have hard evidence to go off of from Week 1, it makes the decisions a little more simplistic for Week 2.

The world of sports media is a beautiful thing when all parties are involved and engulfed in a stern debate. As always, I look forward to your opinions and feedback. You can tweet me (@TCutillo23) with any questions and leave your comments below. For my statistical hounds out there, I will put last week’s stats in parentheses so you can see how I performed.

Here are my picks for Week 2:


QB: Matthew Stafford (TEN), Joe Flacco (@CLE), Eli Manning (NO)

RB: Rashad Jennings (NO), David Johnson (TB)

WR: Doug Baldwin (@LA), Emmanuel Sanders (IND), Alshon Jeffery (PHI)

(Last week: 5 out of 8, 63%)


QB: Jimmy Garoppolo (MIA)

RB: Arian Foster (MIA), Ryan Matthews (@CHI)

WR: Desean Jackson (DAL), Jordy Nelson (@MIN), Vincent Jackson (@ARZ)

(Last week: 4 out of 6, 66%)


Tevin Coleman (@OAK), Travis Benjamin (JAC), Cole Beasley (@WAS)

(Last week: 3 out of 4, 75%)


Jameis Winston (@ARZ), Todd Gurley (SEA)

(Last week: 1 out of 2, 50%)


Joe Flacco (@CLE) – Joe Flacco has looked pretty good as he comes back from an ACL injury and the Ravens have a lot of firepower on offense that can help him ease back in. This week, the road goes through Cleveland, who couldn’t get pressure on the QB even if they tried. It will be a long day for the Dog Pound as they will have nightmares of purple and black running through their minds all week. Get Flacco in your lineup now!

CJ Anderson (IND) – Did anyone expect CJ Anderson to come out on Thursday night against the Panthers and command the ball for the entire game? We heard whispers of Kubiak naming him his workhorse, but it was hard to imagine it being true. Well, it definitely looks to hold merit and CJ has gone from mid-to-late round draft status all the way up to RB1 material. It looks as if the receivers will be taking a step back this year and the running game will be the featured play of the week.

Are you still worried about Devontae Booker? Since he showed he could of been the lead spokesmen for “I can’t believe it’s not butter” on his first carry, I think CJ owners can feel safe.

Last week, the Lions erupted for 448 total yards and four total touchdowns from their running backs against the hapless Colts defense. This leads me to believe Mr. Anderson will bring it once again and show everyone why he will be a top RB1 option this year.

Odell Beckham JR. (NO) – Did you see last week’s game between the Saints and the Raiders? If you did, you know it had enough offense to keep even Mike Martz happy. There are two things that weigh heavily in the favor of OBJ this week; he wasn’t on his game in Dallas last week and the Saints secondary couldn’t stop the Little Giants team led by Ed O’Neil.

Amari Cooper showed off his skills last week to the tune of 6/137, which is just a starting point for OBJ. And to make matters worse, the Saints will be without their top CB, Delvin Breaux, as he broke his fibula last week and is lost for the season. If you haven’t realized it already, OBJ should explode this week and make his last game a distant memory.

As always, you can stop by my Facebook page (Fantasy Sports Addiction) or tweet me (@TCutillo23) for questions or some nice fantasy debates. I can also be heard weekly  via the internet stream live at WENG RADIO every Monday at 4:00 P.M. ET for a weekend sports wrap. But most importantly, you can catch me here at Pi!

For fantasy purposes, all my articles are predicated upon a PPR-based system.


NFL Week 1 Fantasy Impact


Now that we had time to digest the ups and downs of week 1 of the NFL season, we need to look at the fantasy impact moving forward.  This means going beyond just the stats and looking at how situations have changed over the past week.  Can we now answer any questions we had going into the season?

Week 1 Fantasy Highlights

A.J. Green – He put up a monster day with 12 catches for 180 yards and a TD.  He’s happy to have a healthy Andy Dalton back and this should be a top QB/WR combination for the rest of the year.

Drew Brees (Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks) – This highlight goes to the New Orleans passing attack in general.  Brees had 423 yards passing and 4 TDs with Snead (172 yds) and Cooks (143 yds) combining for 315 yards and 3 TDs.

DeAngelo Williams – This guy just keeps running.  At age 33, he was the leading rusher in week 1 with 146 yards and 2 TDs, and chipped in 6 catches for 28 yards.  Bell will be back in week 4, but DeAngelo has 2 more weeks to be a RB1.

Antonio Brown – This guys is just consistently great; 8 catches for 126 yards and 2 TDs.  He was taken #1 overall in fantasy drafts for a reason.

Jordan Matthews – Rookie QB Carson Wentz looked to Matthews 14 times as he hauled in 7 catches for 114 yards and a TD.  Hopefully they will maintain this chemistry moving forward.

Matthew Stafford – After a terrible preseason and the loss of Megatron, Stafford actually looked good this week.  He passed for 340 yards and 3 TDs, but more importantly was a leader out on the field.  Let’s see if he can keep the streak going.  I expect the same old Stafford by season’s end.

Larry Fitzgerald – Larry is still the #1 target for Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals.  He had 11 targets in the game and caught 8 balls for 81 yards and 2 TDs.  Palmer consistently looked for him in clutch situations.  Michael Floyd will show up for a few huge games and John Brown has always been overhyped.  Larry Fitz is my guy!

Carlos Hyde – I was intrigued by Hyde in the offseason.  He’s put up some big games but hasn’t been healthy or consistent throughout his career.  Chip Kelly is in town and the 49ers are going to run a lot of plays.  Hyde got 23 carries and scored 2 TDs; I expect him to be heavily involved in the offense all season.

Jason Witten – While his numbers weren’t eye-popping, it was nice to see Witten get looks from rookie QB Dak Prescott.  Witten caught 9 balls for 66 yards on 14 targets.  For how low Witten was drafted in leagues, he’s a great target if you’re in need of a TE.

Players Returning From Injury

Kelvin Benjamin – He sure looked good on Thursday night (6-91-1) and looks to be Cam Newton’s favorite target once again.

Jordy Nelson – In Nelson’s first game back from last year’s season ending knee injury, he fared decently well.  Jordy had 6 catches and a TD, but only 32 yards receiving.  He doesn’t quite look to be his old self and might not get the separation that he used to, but Rodgers will still look his way often (9 targets).

Victor Cruz – It appears that Victor Cruz is past his nagging injuries (for now) and was able to log significant snaps for the Giants.  Cruz caught all 4 balls thrown his way including a TD.  The takeaway here is that he’s on the field and getting snaps.

New Player Additions

Marvin Jones – Jones was targeted by Stafford 10 times in week 1 as he ended the day with 4 catches for 85 yards.  Golden Tate had 7 targets so Jones is already gaining the confidence of his QB.

Will Fuller – This rookie shined in his first NFL game.  He caught 5 balls for 107 yards and a TD.  The most interesting thing is that he had 11 targets so Osweiler is looking his way.  Hopkins had 8 targets in the game.

Mohamed Sanu – Matt Ryan looked pretty comfortable with Sanu as he caught 5 balls on 8 targets for 80 yards and a TD.  With Julio Jones getting double coverage, Sanu may be just what the Falcons and Matt Ryan needed.

Dwayne Allen – This is a stretch to put in the new additions section, but Rob Chudzinski the Offensive Coordinator is a new addition to the Colts and he loves utilizing the TE.  The Colts’ TEs had 7 catches on 10 targets for 88 yards and 3 TDs.  Jack Doyle caught 2 of the TDs, but Allen played the majority of snaps and is the guy to benefit.

Running Back Battles

C.J. Anderson – Anderson had a full workload with 92 yards on 20 carries and a TD.  With Devontae Booker fumbling early in the game, C.J. looks to run the show here.

Devanta Freeman (Tevin Coleman) – Freeman had a poor outing with only 20 yards on 11 carries.  Tevin Coleman had 8 carries and was more active in the receiving game, and that’s not the split Freeman owners want.  We’ll have to see how this plays out in the upcoming weeks.

Justin Forsett (Terrance West) – At this point, I’ve had enough of the Baltimore Ravens backfield.  Justin Forsett had 10 carries and 41 yards while Terrance West had 12 carries and 32 yards.  I don’t know who will come out on top of this one, but will any of them really help our fantasy teams???

Spencer Ware (Charcandrick West/Jamaal Charles) – With Jamaal Charles sidelined, Ware shined carrying the ball 11 times for 70 yards and a TD as well as catching 7 balls for 129 yards.  Charcandrick West was supposed to garner quite a few carries (only got 3), but Ware was an absolute beast in this one.  Ware looks good to start until Charles is active.

Matt Forte (Bilal Powell) – Matt Forte got 22 carries to Bilal Powell’s 4.  Powell may pick up a few more in the coming weeks, but this is not a timeshare.

Ryan Mathews – Mathews had 77 yards and a TD on 22 carries.  Darren Sproles was 2nd on the team with 5 carries and Kenjon Barner got 4.  Mathews is poised for a heavy workload as long as he stays on the field.

DeMarco Murray (Derrick Henry) – Murray got the majority of work for the Tennessee Titans with 13 carries and 7 targets (77 total yards).  Derrick Henry had 5 carries and 2 targets (44 total yards).

Christine Michael (Thomas Rawls) – While Christine Michael got the start, it was pretty much a timeshare and Thomas Rawls is slated for more work next week.  I don’t expect either of them to be a true workhorse and it’ll be a committee moving forward, with Rawls having the edge.

LeGarrette Blount (NE RBs) – With Belichick you never know, but in this one Blount rushed 23 times and no other RB came close.  He’s the guy in running situations but not passing downs.

Matt Jones (Chris Thompson/Rob Kelley) – Jones couldn’t get anything going against the Steelers and I don’t know how long he’ll hold onto the starting job.  Jones had 7 carries for 24 yards; Chris Thompson had 4 carries for 23 yards.  Rob Kelley is also in the mix if the team decides to make a change.

Week 1 Injuries (and Week 2 Replacements)

Keenan Allen – Allen suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year again.  Travis Benjamin was one of my sleepers entering the year and I like him that much more now.  Tyrell Williams appears to be the guy to replace Allen.  Gates and Woodhead might pick up a little extra work but they’re always involved.  Dontrelle Inman should get some action too.

Demaryius Thomas – Suffered a hip injury on Thursday against Carolina.  While originally thought to be serious, Thomas is actually questionable for week 2.  If Thomas doesn’t play, there isn’t a must play fantasy pickup for him.

Sammy Watkins – He reinjured his foot in Sunday’s game and has a game on short rest on Thursday.  Tyrod Taylor doesn’t pass enough to make Watkins’ replacement relevant, if he doesn’t play.

Russell Wilson – He injured his ankle against Miami but is expected to play in week 2.  This injury will probably limit his mobility and may take some time to fully heal.  Trevone Boykin is the backup and the whole offense would take a hit with him under center.

Robert Griffin III – He is on injured reserve and out for 8+ weeks with a fractured bone in his shoulder.  Josh McCown – He will replace RG3 as the Cleveland Browns QB.  This actually improves the value of Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson as RG3 wasn’t a “check down” type of QB.

Week 1 Concerns

Cam Newtown – How much of a beating can Cam take?  Cam isn’t in this section because he won’t put up stats.  He’s here because he took a beating from the Denver Broncos in week 1 and I can’t imagine him staying healthy all year.  When he plays, he’s a beast.

Todd Gurley – While many people may be worried about Gurley, I’m not so concerned.  Yes, the Rams offense looks bad.  Really bad!  The offense was bad last year and he still excelled.  Don’t put too much weight into one game, but this situation is worth monitoring.  He may not be the best RB in the league, but he’s still a solid RB1 and I expect him to improve.

Words of Wisdom

Do Not Overreact!  We’re only one week removed from our drafts and a good or bad week 1 performance should not greatly change our rankings.  Over the next couple weeks, we need to determine which performances are smoke and mirrors and which ones are a sign of things to come.  Only time will tell!

Reported by

John Kocur (Sports Writer)

Fantasy Football: NFL Week 1 Running Back Landscape


The NFL season is upon us and we’re all gearing up for our fantasy leagues.  The preseason hype is over and everyone picked their sleepers and busts.  Let’s take a look at the fantasy running back starters and reserves entering Week 1.

AFC East

Patriots – LeGarrette Blount appears to have the first crack at the position and any rushing touchdowns.  James White will be sprinkled in the passing game but probably not enough to have value.  Veteran Brandon Bolden is also still hanging around in case Belichick wants to shake things up like he usually does.  Dion Lewis is on the PUP and out for the first six weeks with a knee injury.  Once he’s back, only Blount will maintain some value.

Dolphins – Arian Foster locked up the starting job and Jay Ajayi wasn’t thrilled with the decision.  It looks like Ajayi won’t even suit up for week one.  Foster should get a full load of carries as he tries to stave off the injury bug.  Kenyan Drake is the only other running back to own and could supplant Ajayi as #2 in the coming weeks.

Jets – People are up and down on Forte.  He’s been a beast for years, but how long can he last.  He’s 30 years old and his past workload may be catching up to him.  I still think Forte is on the plus side of a 75/25 split with Bilal Powell.

Bills – This is LeSean McCoy’s show and should be the workhorse of the team.  One of only a few 3-down backs, McCoy is set for a big year if healthy.  The backup job is cloudy in my opinion.  Somehow Reggie Bush impressed enough to make the team but I like Mike Gillislee as the #2 back.  Bush could get some work on 3rd downs.  The Bills also have rookie Jonathan Williams as a darkhorse.


AFC North

Steelers – Le’Veon Bell should be back in Week 4 barring another suspension.  DeAngelo Williams will hold down the fort until Bell is back.  I expect Williams to be a RB1 for the first three weeks and a must handcuff to Bell.

Bengals – Jeremy Hill will do the heavy lifting and get the ground TDs (and fumbles).  Giovani Bernard has never been expected to be a workhorse back, but always shows up when his number is call.  Hill will be steady, but not spectacular.  Bernard should put up a few big games, especially in PPR leagues, but good luck guessing which week it will be.

Ravens – The running back position for the Ravens has been in flux all preseason.  Justin Forsett was cut, then resigned and expected to be the starter.  Terrance West had a great preseason and was the started in the few days that Forsett wasn’t on the roster.  Javorius Allen and Kenneth Dixon both have a shot to get their share of carries.  At the end of the year, who knows which of these four will lead the team in rushing yards.

Browns – Isaiah Crowell has the starting job for now and Duke Johnson will be a receiving threat from the position.  It’s possible that Duke gets more carries if “The Crow” doesn’t show up.


AFC South

Colts – Frank Gore is up in age (33), but he’s also one of those rare 3-down running backs.  The Colts want to limit his workload, but have Robert Turbin as the backup.  Jordan Todman and Josh Ferguson don’t sound like viable options either.

Texans – Lamar Miller is one of the new additions to the team and looks to be the workhorse.  Let’s see if he lives up to his potential as a rushing/receiving threat; I think he will.  Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes have never impressed when they were called into action.

Titans – The one-two punch of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry look to be lethal  I expect the workload to be 70/30 at the start in favor of Murray, but Henry may get more carries as the season wears on.

Jaguars – It will be interesting to see how the Jags use Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.  Yeldon is the better receiving threat, but I think the workload is 60/40 in Ivory’s favor. Ivory is questionable for week 1 with a calf injury.


AFC West

Broncos – Well we got to see C.J. Anderson blow up Thursday night, and it might be that way all season.  His handcuff, Devontae Booker, came in and coughed up a fumble.  Not a good first impression.

Raiders – Latavius Murray is the started but there has been a lot of hype around backup DeAndre Washington.  He’s not a bad handcuff, but I think Murray will have a solid season and fend off any competition.  Taiwan Jones is also around to vulture some carries.

Chargers – The highly touted Melvin Gordon looks to put a tough rookie season behind him and show that he can be a productive NFL running back.  Backup Branden Oliver is out for the season so there is less competition for Gordon.  Danny Woodhead is still around, he’s 31, but can still catch a ton of balls if Rivers throws it to him.  I expect Gordon to improve on last year, and Woodhead to have a very slight decline but be more than serviceable.

Chiefs – This is another mess of a situation.  We saw last year that when Jamaal Charles is out, both Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware can handle the duties.  Charles still appears to be out with a slower than expected recovery on his ACL, and West/Ware are still battling for carries.  Flip a coin on who out-produces who until Charles is back.


NFC East

Giants – Rashad Jennings isn’t flashy, but he should get a full workload this season as a 3-down back.  Shane Vereen will catch some balls, but not like when Brady was throwing to him in New England.  If Jennings goes down, who knows if Paul Perkins, Bobby Rainey, or Orleans Darkwa would get the carries.

Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott was drafted to be the workhorse for Dallas.  Everyone has huge fantasy expectations (Top 5 RB) and he’s yet to have an NFL carry.  Alfred Morris is backing him up and has looked great through training camp and preseason.  Morris is a veteran in the league, but still only 27 years old.

Eagles – Ryan Mathews is the starter and can catch passes out of the backfield.  The Eagles also have Darren Sproles to use in the passing game.  If Mathews goes down, Kenjon Barner or Wendell Smallwood could fill in nicely.

Redskins – Matt Jones appears to have the starting job, but the vibes haven’t been good this offseason.  Chris Thompson will catch passes and get 3rd down work, but backup duties would be Rob Kelley if Matt Jones can’t play.


NFC North

Packers – Eddie Lacy will carry the load for the Packers; James Starks is the handcuff if Lacy falters; nuff said.

Vikings – Adrian Peterson will carry the load for the Vikings; Jerick McKinnon is the handcuff.  Matt Asiata is also still hanging around.

Lions – Ameer Abdullah is the starter in Detroit.  Theo Riddick is the 3rd down back and should catch a slew of passes.  Zach Zenner could be a sneaky sleeper if Abdullah doesn’t perform and in short yardage situations.

Bears – With Forte gone, Jeremy Langford has some big shoes to fill.  He’s the starter, but Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard are both on the roster looking for carries.  If the Bears start out slow as a team and can’t get the running game going with Langford, don’t be surprised if there’s a change at the top.


NFC South

Falcons – Devonta Freeman had a great year last year and should have another one in 2016.  Tevin Coleman shouldn’t carve out too many carries, nor Terron Ward.

Panthers – James Stewart is the unquestioned starter at running back, but Cam Newton could actually lead the team in rushing and he steals rushing TDs from Stewart.  Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker are the backups, but there’s not enough stats at the position on the Panthers.

Saints – Mark Ingram is looking to have another big year and really improved in the receiving department.  Tim Hightower is the backup and can fill in if an injury hits.

Buccaneers – Doug Martin is the starter, but Charles Sims will vulture some carries and get a lot of receiving work.  Martin will get the rushing TDs.


NFC West

Seahawks – Thomas Rawls was expected to be the starter, but Christine Michael will start week 1.  I would give the edge to Rawls as the more productive back this season, but Michael will get his fair share.  I don’t see a Marshawn Lynch like workhorse here.  C.J. Prosise can be a playmaker but he might not get the ball enough.

Rams – It’s the Todd Gurley show in LA and I have him as the #1 RB in fantasy football (thanks to the Le’Veon Bell suspension).  If Gurley goes down, I don’t think there’s a RB that could put up relevant fantasy points on this team.  Benny Cunningham is the backup and looked decent in preseason.

Cardinals – David Johnson is the starter and should be primed for a big year.  Chris Johnson will back him up but I don’t expect him to get much work.  Andre Ellington is still on Arizona, but not worth watching.

49ers – Carlos Hyde is the #1 running back in San Fran.  With Chip Kelly’s offense, they should run plenty of plays and give Hyde the opportunity to produce in a big way.  His status for week 1 is in question and Shaun Draughn would fill in if Hyde misses time.  Mike Davis also impressed in preseason and can fill in when needed.

The world of Fantasy success is sometimes predicated upon the amount of depth on one’s roster. Getting familiar with the names above is the first step to becoming a winner!

Reported by

John Kocur (Sports Writer)