The two worst phrases in the fantasy football lexicon are ‘questionable’ and ‘game-time decision.’ Take in to consideration teams like the Patriots’ who do not release any information about injuries, and you have yourself some tough lineup decisions. In week 1 of the 2015 season, there are some top notch wide-outs who are questionable, and hopefully with final practice reports we will receive more clarity about these injuries. Nevertheless, here are some players that are questionable, which will open up opportunities for players behind them.
After those question marks, we will divulge into some Week 1 sleepers, and players you should avoid for Week 1 and possibly further into the season. Whoever said there was a Christmas in July, was obviously not a football fan. Christmas is tomorrow when the Steelers head to New England and look to take the air out of their sails, or wind, whatever they are doing in Gilette Stadium these days.
Randall Cobb- The Pack dodged another bullet after losing top WR Jordy Nelson for the season after tearing his ACL. You would think that after that devastating injury happened, Green Bay would not put any of their big guns out on the field for anymore pre-season games. Doing so the week following Nelson’s loss, they almost lost Randall Cobb, in what, at the time, was speculated to be a possible collarbone break. Luckily, it was only a shoulder sprain, but as far as suiting up for week 1, he is dreadfully questionable. The loss of Jordy already had Davante Adams flying up the draft boards, and the possibility of Cobb not playing at 100 percent opens the door up even more for the Green Bay secondary receivers. James Jones is a guy who has played in this offense before, and had put up some fantasy relevant numbers at times. Also keep an eye on the physical freak Jeff Janis, and exciting rookie Ty Montgomery. Even with Cobb fully healthy, the situation behind he and Adams is one to keep an eye on as there may be some value to be had. Adams can easily be a WR3 for your fantasy team, holding down a flex spot on a week-to-week basis, and should be used in cash games for DFS purposes, as he will be highly owned and is the chalk play at a super cheap discount that will not last for long.
Alshon Jeffery- Jeffery has not gotten much practice in this off-season due to a mild calf strain. Now, this is a guy, who if healthy, I believe can put up sure-fire WR1 numbers. Yet, that is a big if. It seems as though throughout his four-year career he has been hampered by injury quite often. With these soft tissue injuries, I wish teams would just let the player sit out the necessary games and let it fully heal, instead of letting them be hampered all season by it. If Jeffery is not ready to go Week 1, or be at 100 percent, that opens the door for the only fully healthy WR on the roster, Eddie Royal. Royal is not a big target, nor does he have the explosiveness that he used to have, but Cutler will have to throw the ball somewhere, albeit, some of those times they will be to green jerseys on Sunday. Forte and Bennett will see their share of targets, but Cutler will need to throw down the field some. We will have to wait and see when final practice reports come out on Wednesday to check the status of Jeffery and other questionable players. For now, if you are looking for a nice DFS option, look no further than Eddie Royal in GPP’s, as the likes of Davante Adams will be highly owned, and you need to be contrarian.
Mike Evans- He is questionable for the juicy Week 1 matchup versus the Titans. He suffered a hamstring injury in the Bucs’ second preseason game, and has not played or practiced since. Evans has stated that he will be ready for their season opener, but again these soft tissue injuries are tricky ones to pinpoint. Evans had a huge rookie campaign playing with garbage at the QB position. Enter Jameis Winston, who is definitely an upgrade from what they had last year. The forgotten player it seems in drafts that I have done this season is Vincent Jackson. Evans has gone around the tenth WR taken in most drafts, whereas, V-Jax has fell in the range of 25-30. If Evans is hampered by this injury going into Week 1, that can open up some opportunities for V-Jax to get some added looks. Jameis has three trees he can throw to in their aerial attack in Evans, V-Jax, and second year TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. It remains to be seen who he develops chemistry with early in the season, as that is a solid precursor to what rookie QB tend to do for their first season. V-Jax is not a bad flex option coming out of the gate, and could get some added value dependent on the status of Evans.
Michael Floyd- It’s not really about the guy in bold this time. I do not really see Floyd being too big of a factor even if he was healthy, but his injured fingers may open up some more opportunities for the likes of John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald. Carson Palmer has spoken highly of John Brown all off-season, and having Palmer back in the fold is promising for this whole WR corps. Head coach, Bruce Arians, compared John Brown to the likes of T.Y Hilton, and I would say that’s pretty high praise as we have seen what Hilton can do on the field. Brown has bulked up this year to help him separate from press coverage, which he may be forced to see more of this year. This is a guy who may not catch a bunch of touchdowns, but in a PPR setup he can be a big contributor to your fantasy teams. Grabbing him in round 7-9 you are most likely not looking to him to be a consistent starter on your squad, but he is a solid of a reserve as they come, and somebody I would feel ultra comfortable with starting in bye weeks.
Get out your cots, bunk beds, and sleeping bags… It’s time for some sleepers for Week 1
Kendall Wright- Often overlooked in many drafts as a player who disappointed last season. The Titans’ have a week 1 matchup with the Buccaneers as the top two draft picks, Winston and Mariota, set to duel it out. Jameis Winston seemed to be a much better fit as a professional football player because of his play in the pocket, but Marcus Mariota was very impressive in his preseason work. While many believed that Mariota would use his jets to run away from the first sign of pressure, he has shown poise and patience inside the pocket.
The website for the Tennessee Titans also stated that Wright was Mariota’s favorite target, and of Mariota’s 21 pass completions and 326 passing yards, Wright hauled in six passes for 84 yards. That means Wright caught 28% of Mariota’s passes. In 2014, the defense for Tampa Bay allowed 39.1 Fantasy points to wide receivers, which ranks them as allowing the fifth-most Fantasy points to the wide receiver position. The rushing attack doesn’t appear to offer much stability for Week 1 for the Titans, and a matchup between two rookie quarterbacks could quickly turn into a shoot out. Wright has a good enough matchup and should see enough targets that he should garner some attention as a possible starter for your PPR leagues in Week 1.
Stevie Johnson- Feel like I’ve rang this bell plenty of times this off-season. Here I am, to ring it again. Let’s just compare situations really quickly.
Last season with the 49ers: QB Play- Kaepernick sub-par at best, Opportunities- crowded WR corps with Boldin, Crabtree, Lloyd, and Vernon Davis.
This season with the Bolts: QB Play- Rivers elite and efficient, Opportunities- WR 1B to Keenan Allen 1A, Antonio Gates suspended 4 games opening up more middle of the field targets for Johnson where he excels.
Before arriving in San Francisco where he was hardly utilized due to the depth in the WR core and nagging injuries, he was a consistent 1,000 yard receiving threat. He now joins Phil Rivers who is by far the best QB he has ever played with, in an offense without a standout WR 1. I would not be surprised to see Stevie outscore his counterpart Allen while Gates is out for the first four games. It has been documented that Rivers and Johnson have already developed some solid chemistry throughout training camp and pre-season. Although, you probably drafted Johnson near the end of your draft, for Week 1, you can pencil him in as a flex option and receive solid production.
Terrence Williams- Many might remember Williams for the eight touchdown passes he caught last year. Others might remember him for being wildly inconsistent and disappearing for weeks at a time. Either way, Williams has some upside in 2015 as he enters his third year as a pro — the old standard for wide receiver breakouts. As the No. 2 option in the Dallas passing attack behind Dez, Williams could see more frequent looks from Tony Romo as the Cowboys aren’t likely to run as much as they did a season ago without Demarco Murray. Williams could still be as up-and-down as he was last year, but his talent and experience warrant a stash as a WR4/5.
As far as Week 1 is concerned, the Cowboys face off with division rival, the New York Giants. Vegas has this game at 51.5 total, which means they’re envisioning somewhat of a shootout. This could become a duel between Romo and Manning come the second half of this football game. Obviously Dez will most likely see the lion’s share of targets, but Williams will also see some. Williams has the talent to break off a long play, and if you’re trying to replace Jordy or Benjamin for Week 1, Williams is a place you could look. Be aware that he is a boom or bust type player, so you may have a 20 point game, or a 2/20/0 type game.
Sammy Watkins- It was hard to stand out as a rookie in last year’s amazing class, but Sammy Watkins still showed flashes of why he was the top player drafted at the position in 2014. The problem has been quarterback play, and that won’t be too much better with Tyrod Taylor under center.While Taylor does provide excitement as a runner, he hasn’t shown much as a passer in his short career.
Things will be tougher in Week 1, when Watkins will likely match up against Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis, considered by many to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
This doesn’t equal a recipe for success in the first game of the year.
Mike Wallace- There are a couple of reasons why I have refrained from drafting Wallace in all my leagues this year. Let’s prime this by just saying that they got this really, really good guy back this year, he goes by the name of Adrian Peterson. Have you heard of him? Thought so, the Vikings will stay a run-heavy team in 2015. Even with AP out of the fold last year, Bridgewater only attempted 30 or more passes five times.
Bridgewater is a young ascending QB, but in this offense, it appears that only one WR from the Vikings will be fantasy relevant. That guy is not Wallace, it will be Charles Johnson, who came on strong at the end of the last season. Norv Turner has even stated that Johnson is “far and away the best receiver on the team.”
The Vikings play the porous 49ers defense, but unless Wallace catches a bomb, you can render him useless.
Allen Robinson shreds the Panthers to the tune of 8/135/2.
Nelson Agholor outscores Jordan Matthews as the leading WR in Philly.
The Chiefs’ Alex Smith throws more TD passes to a WR in his first game, than he did in 2014.
Rueben Randle gets less receptions and yards than Beckham, but outscores him by catching 2 TD’s.
This season is going to be one of the most intriguing ones I can recall. The first round is loaded with players that you can make a case for going top 5, and fall to 10-12. Rounds 3-5 are muddled with mediocrity, and the latter rounds are filled with high upside fliers. Work those waiver wires folks, that is how you win leagues.
Find me on twitter: @zaksauer
(Click the BLUE link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 13th from 11-12:45pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Sports radio show sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live call in questions at 646-915-8596. We will be breaking down everything fantasy related for the coming days games.
Major League Fantasy Football Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Zak Sauer for Major League Fantasy Football Weekly on Tuesday September 15th from 8-10pm EST. This show is your one-stop shop for a weekly recap and what to focus on for the coming week in fantasy football. We will be discussing key games, and performances from players from the prior week’s games. We will also prepare you for the coming week in regards to waiver wire claims, and a break down of the Thursday night game. This is a live call in show so feel free to do so at 323-870-4395.
You can also listen to the recorded version of the show afterward if you can not listen live. You can find the podcast on I-Tunes, or Podcast Republic. Search for Major League Fantasy Football Weekly.