Boy, making projections is hard. As one who takes his craft quite seriously, I can tell you that it takes time to pour through the numbers, sift out the good stuff, and come to a solid conclusion. However, even if all of that is done to perfection, the desired result still might elude you.
Take the case of Delanie Walker’s Week 5 home matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Walker had seen eight targets in each of his previous two games and his involvement in the offense was starting to look like its 2015 levels. The Browns had allowed the most receptions to opposing tight ends, and had allowed five touchdown receptions to the position over the previous two weeks.
Final stat line: 1/21/0 on two targets.
True to form, the Browns did allow a tight end to score, but it was backup Anthony Fasano who took the glory.
If there is one thing I have learned in this business, it is that no one is going to be right 100% of the time. All you can do is develop a sound approach, stick with it, and the results will come.
In the words of Bill Belichick…
On to Week 7.
Week 7: Workin’ the Wire
The biggest injury to take place in Week 7 came at the quarterback position. Ben Roethlisberger suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee. He had the surgery done on Monday, and early reports indicate that he could be back as early as Week 9. With Adrian Peterson’s meniscus injury they did a full repair, thus the longer rehab. With Ben’s surgery they cleaned up the meniscus which could get him on the field sooner. It is a situation to monitor closely. The trickle down effect will impact numerous players such as Sammie Coates, Le’Veon Bell, and the first overall selection in many fantasy drafts Antonio Brown.
So where do Roethlisberger owners turn in the short-term (hopefully short-term)?
First off, his backup Landry Jones is not an option. Even with the weapons in that offense, I can’t trust him. Look no further than his preseason game in which he went 12/20/111 with four FOUR interceptions.
It might be time to give Colin Kaepernick a call. He showed some rust with his accuracy and touch, but chipped in 66 yards on the ground. He gets a good matchup in Week 7 against a Bucs defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes in four of their five games. As long as Kaepernick continues to use his legs, he will have some fantasy relevance.
Who gets the Saints this week? Okay, Alex Smith it’s your turn. Smith was ultra-efficient Sunday against the Raiders completing 19/22 passes. Don’t let the shallow volume scare you off. The conditions were sloppy and they coasted to the finish with a two touchdown fourth quarter lead. In his other four games he has averaged 42 pass attempts per contest. If he can muster 40 throws against the Saints, he will likely be the fifth quarterback to surpass 300 yards against them. I am not crazy about Smith as a long-term option, but he should be serviceable for Week 7.
At the tight end position, Houston’s C.J. Fiedorwicz is someone to keep an eye on. He has scored six or more fantasy points in three straight games and has 20 targets over that stretch. Hopkins is constantly drawing double coverage and the other options in the passing game are benefiting.
Keep an eye on Dwayne Allen’s injury, if he misses time, Jack Doyle gets a huge boost. It will be tough for either to be counted on if both are playing for the Colts. But if Doyle is able to secure all the tight end targets he could turn into a solid weekly option.
Another tight end whose value will hinge on the health of the incumbent is Vernon Davis. If Jordan Reed would miss an extended period of time Davis could be worth an add. He found the end zone in Week 6 and added in 50 yards on four targets.
Andy Dalton vs. CLE
Dalton is trending in the right direction. He has finished as a top 10 quarterback in each of the last two weeks and will look to make it three in a row when Cleveland comes to town. The Browns have given up at least 18 fantasy points in each of their first six games, including 29 and 28 to Brady and Mariota in their last two. Week 7 could also mark the anticipated return of Tyler Eifert, which should give this offense a shot in the arm, especially in the red zone. At 2-4 the Bengals desperately need a win, and I expect them to get back on track with Dalton leading the way.
Philip Rivers @ ATL
Rivers hit a bump in the road against the Denver defense. He got off to a fast start, but finished with a disappointing 178/1/0. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last quarterback to get held down by that defense. This week presents a juicy matchup against a Falcons defense that has allowed 270 yards passing in five of their six games. Even with the lackluster yardage output against the Broncos, Rivers still averages a healthy 275 yards per game. Chances are he raises that average this week.
Hunter Henry @ ATL
Hunter Henry is out to make you forget everything you thought you knew about rookie tight ends and their lack of fantasy value in their first season. In the last 10+ years, only two rookie tight ends have finished in the top 10. Double H (I really need to find out his middle name, the WWE fan is hoping it starts with “H”) currently sits third. He is riding a three game touchdown streak and has had at least 60 receiving yards in his last four. He is quickly becoming one of Rivers most trusted targets, especially in the red zone. The Falcons have allowed opposing tight ends to catch at least six passes in four of their last five games so there is a good chance that Henry stays hot.
Julius Thomas vs. OAK
Remember him? You know, the guy who caught 12 touchdowns in back to back seasons. The days of the gaudy stats are gone, but I think he gets on track this week against a Raiders team that has allowed three receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends. The Raiders have allowed 19 of the last 24 tight end targets to be completed. Thomas is averaging just under six targets per game. A 5/65/1 type of game could easily happen.
Matthew Stafford vs. WASH
After a rough start to the season, the Redskins defense, particularly their pass defense has settled in. Over the last five games they have allowed only one quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards and have not allowed multiple touchdown passes. It all adds up to zero games in games in which quarterbacks have scored 19+ fantasy points.
Here is a good stat on Stafford:
In the last two games he has thrown for 451 yards. Just 158 of those were “air yards.” The other 293 came after the catch.
So here is my question, what happens when some sure tackling shows up and the YAC yards disappear? (scratching chin pondering emoji)
Jameis Winston @ SF
I think the Bucs found something in their Week 5 win against the Panthers. They emphasized the run and stuck with it. Winston had a season low in pass attempts with just 30. This week the Bucs travel to San Francisco who struggle mightily against the run. Its bad, real bad. They allow almost 30 more yards per game then the second worst team. One has to believe that the Bucs will do their best to establish the run game and take advantage of the porous 49ers’ run defense. I expect Winston to be efficient, but after double-checking the scoring settings in my league there is no point value assigned for efficiency so just keep him reserved for this week.
Coby Fleener @ KC
Fleener looked great on Sunday against the Panthers hauling in six of his seven targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. He gave his fantasy owners a nice bonus on a sneaky 4th down call in which Brees handed the ball to Fleener on a end around that allowed him to barrel into the end zone.
Now let’s dive into these numbers a bit closer. A chunk of the 74 receiving yards came on his 50 yard touchdown reception. It was a weird play. I am going to assume someone ran the wrong route, because Fleener and Willie Snead were in almost the same exact spot on the field with three Panther defenders lurking. One of the defenders just missed tipping the ball, while Snead crashed into another defender taking him out of the play allowing Fleener to go the final 20 yards uncontested. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice play by Fleener, but it was also kind of flukey. If that gift doesn’t happen, as well as the once in a lifetime rushing touchdown his day turns into 5/24/0, which looks pretty similar to the 3/19/0 he turned in his previous game. The Saints offense as a whole sometimes struggles outdoors. C0mbine that with the fact that the Chiefs haven’t allowed more than three catches in any game to an opposing tight end and I am staying away from Fleener this week.
Zach Ertz @ PHI
Ertz had a promising start to the season logging six catches on seven targets in Week 1. However, since he has returned from injury he and Wentz have not been on the same page. Ertz has combined for 4/59/0 over his last two games and has struggled to get targets. This week he faces the best defense in the NFL in the Minnesota Vikings who have not allowed an opposing tight end to score or exceed seven fantasy points. I think Ertz will get it going at some point this season, but not this week.
Stack Play: Rivers to
My computer had a glitch. Every time I would type “Rivers to” Gates automatically popped up. Weird. Anyways, I have always liked Gates. He is probably in my top 10 favorite players, but the guy is finally slowing down. I mean don’t get me wrong, he can still play and produce. If there is a 3rd and 5 and he is singled up, I will put my money on him winning every single time. At this stage in his career though he is going to post plenty of 4/40 type games. With a limited ceiling, it just doesn’t work out in the fantasy game.
As mentioned above it is a dream matchup against the Falcons in what should be a shootout type of game. If you have both Gates and Henry, I am playing Henry based on the upside. However, with the all-time tight end touchdown record in his sights I could see Rivers getting his old buddy one closer given the chance.
Good luck this week, check me out on Twitter @barkballin with any questions.
(Click the RED link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Football Show: Join Ej Garr, Corey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Sunday October 23rd, 2016 from 11am-12:30pm EST for episode #73 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. We will be breaking down key matchups, discussing fantasy start/sit, some DFS, and handicapping as well.
Jeff is the defensive coach for Freedom H.S. in PA, an 8 year veteran of Major League Fantasy Sports, and 3 time champion.
You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.