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Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 FANTSAY FOOTBALL ISSUES: LEONARD FOURNETTE (ANKLE) BECOMING BIG QUESTION MARK

Being a Friday practice downgrade is never a god thing when it comes to fantasy football availability and that now is becoming the case with Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette as we move closer to Sunday's Week 11 games.  After being a limited practice participant both Wednesday and Thursday, Fournette missed Friday's session which sent off alarms around his fantasy football owners.  Having already noted his aversion to playing in cold weather, Fournette can now be only be considered a 50/50 deal to suit up versus the Cleveland Browns.  After a tremendous first 8 weeks of his rookie campaign, Fournette has really hit the skids of late as he was suspended for one game and then missed another with the bum ankle.  For a guy who has had endless foot problems going back to his LSU days, we are seeing the risks that went with drafting Fournette last summer.  Get T.J. Yeldon ready just in case or try and make a small trade (if you league deadline has not passed) for an Alex Collins or someone of that ilk. 


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL STATUS REPORT: BRUCE ELLINGTON WR HOUSTON TEXANS

Yes we all run for the hills when we hear the name "Tom Savage" when it comes to the twisted world of fantasy football but we are also in the business of presenting to you untapped potential sleepers that can help the DFS crowd and those looking for help as the bye weeks wind down.  That brings us to the Houston Texans and specifically wideout Bruce Ellington who all of a sudden looks like an interesting value play for Week 11 based on a number of key reasons.  While the shortcomings regarding Savage are ugly and obvious, the fact of the matter is that ace Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins is going to have his hands full with top Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson this week and that means more targets for everyone else.  Right at the top of this list should be Hopkins' counterpart Ellington who will replace the injured Will Fuller for this week's game and thus be a highly-targeted outlet for Savage in the short-to-intermediate range.  The word has not really gotten out here as well which makes Ellington even more of a potential find this week.  So while the numbers may not jump off the statistical map, Ellington is well worth checking out due to the solid short-term upside. 


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL THURSDAY NIGHT WRAPUP: TITANS/STEELERS

When the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is running on all cylinders, it is a thing of beauty and this is what we all witnessed Thursday night when Ben Roethlisberger and company went to town on the Tennessee Titans.  Meanwhile it was another horrid game for DeMarco Murray who looks like he needs to take a seat.  Let's get to all the relevant fantasy football results that ultimately came out of the game.

-While he had played well of late, the totality of Roethsliberger's season leading up to Thursday night's game was overly disappointing and even more so when you take into the fact that he has arguably the most awesome collection of offensive weapons at his disposal.  It all came together Thursday night as Big Ben completed 30-of-45 passes for 299 yards with 4 TD's and even 10 yards rushing.  This is what Roethlisberger is fully capable of on a weekly basis and the Steelers using the no-huddle seems to unleash his best.  With another decent matchup in the Green Bay Packers on tap for Week 12, Roethlisberger should be fully back in the circle of trust.

On the other side, the Titans' Marcus Mariota was simply dreadful as he tossed four interceptions as part of his 22-of-33 day for 306 yards.  While he did toss for one TD and rush for another, Mariota simply can't be depended on outside of two-passer leagues and overall it is a giant step back for him after an emerging 2016 campaign.

-The Titans really need to strongly consider benching DeMarco Murray so that he can heal up from his myriad injuries.  We said back in the summer to avoid Murray given his age (29) and the fact he came off a very heavy workload in 2016 and we are seeing why.  Simply put, Murray has been terrible and last night he rushed for just 10 yards on 8 carries.  He did help a bit in PPR by catching 5 balls for another 37 yards but Derrick Henry (32 yards on 7 carries) needs to be given more leash.  At the very least, Murray needs to be benched in all standard setups.

As far as the Steeler's Le'Veon Bell is concerned, the game plan centered on the pass which is why he got just 12 carries for 46 yards (and narrowly missed a running score).  However Bell was terrific on the receiving end as he hauled in 9 balls for 57 yards to secure a very good night in PPR.  While the overall numbers on Bell have fallen below expectations, he still is without peer at the running back position.

-Speaking of without peer, we have known for awhile that was the stats of Steelers wideout Antonio Brown at the position.  What he did last night was silly as Brown caught 10 passes for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The third score got former New York Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree up off his couch cheering for sure as Brown snagged the ball against the side of his helmet as he stayed in bounds to collect the score.  Tremendous stuff and it is a reminder that there is Brown and then there is everyone else among the wide receiver hierarchy. 

With regards to the supporting cast, JuJu Smith-Schuster added 4 catches for 47 yards which keeps him in the WR 3 mode for PPR formats but Martavis Bryant (2 catches for 30) remains an enigma. 

On the Tennessee side, Delanie Walker led the way as usual with 6 catches for 92 yards but he somehow dropped a gift of a touchdown pass that had to have his owners banging their heads against the wall.  Also Corey Davis just can't seem to get going as he caught just three passes for 27 yards.  Keep the faith here however. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSSCRIPT: MARWIN GONZALEZ INFIELDER HOUSTON ASTROS

While it didn't get the same type of attention that the unexpected breakouts of Scooter Gennett or Justin Smoak engendered, there was no denying the surprising and at the same time shocking offensive performance of Houston Astros utility ace Marwin Gonzalez in 2017.  Known more for his glove and ability to literally play all over the diamond than anything he did with the bat prior to the start of last season, Gonzalez wound up setting career-bests in runs (67), RBI (90), homers (23), and batting average (.303).  Add in 8 stolen bases and eligibility at virtually every spot in the field and Gonzalez had his place secured on the "All-Value Team" for 2017.  Perhaps Gonzalez began hinting at this type of ability the year prior when he posted a 13/12 split in the home run/steal columns but no one could have possibly foreseen him blowing way past any sort of previously established norm.  The fact he turns just 29 in March does place Gonzalez in the beginning of his prime years which could legitimize the breakout to an extent but the best course of action is to not pay for the career year.  Instead simply embrace the fact Gonzalez qualifies everywhere but third base for 2018 fantasy baseball and place his baseline at around 15/10/.280.  Anything above that should be treated as a nice bonus.
2018 PROJECTION:  .270 19 HR 88 RBI 74 R 11 SB

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: EZEKIEL ELLIOTT IN PLAY FOR CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

After months of exhausting and very annoying appeals when it came to the six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence, the decision was made by the player himself on Wednesday to no longer challenge the case in court.  That means Elliott will miss the next five games for Dallas which wipes him out for all but Week 16 in terms of fantasy football.  Of course Elliott's owners need to continue holding him in hoping they get the chance to throw him back out there against Seattle in Week 16 but making a play for him in a trade is also an interesting idea as well.  Consider a scenario where the Elliott owner is in pure panic mode right now in trying to keep their team afloat and they get a low-ball offer of let's say Orleans Darkwa or Duke Johnson for him.  If you are on the border of the playoff picture in your league, you do that deal in playing for tomorrow and not weeks from now.  So if you are a team in good playoff standing, making a play for Elliott is a smart move and could net you a first-round talent when the stakes are the highest.  Yes there should be some rust and Seattle's defense is no picnic but the bottom line is that Elliott will be a factor once again in a few weeks.  Try and get your hands on him before then. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: MARINERS PICK UP CHEAP POWER BOOST IN RYON HEALY

The Seattle Mariners made yet another in what has been an endless string of trades during the last two years when they added 1B/3B Ryon Healy from the Oakland A's late Wednesday for RHP Emilio Pagan and infielder Alexander Campos.  Healy figures to slide right into the first base spot on the Mariners that will be vacated by free agent Yonder Alonso and he certainly has power to offer as he comes off a 25-home run campaign in 20167.  Turning just 26 in January, Healy has some hitting approach warts however; which primarily center on a severe lack of walks (just a laughable 3.8 BB/9 a year ago) and his 235 K/9 rate is nothing great either.  Be that as it may, Healy is certainly a backup 1B/3B for 2018 fantasy baseball mixed leagues and he carries decent starting status in AL-only formats.  Solid but unspectacular is the word here. 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 11 ISSUES: QB TURMOIL IMPACTING SCORES OF SKILL-POSITION PLAYERS

It was a lively day in the QB world on Wednesday as two changes were made in preparation for Sunday's and there are some fantasy football ramifications that go with it.  First came word the Arizona Cardinals would go with third-string QB Blaine Gabbert since backup Drew Stanton is dealing with a knee injury.  Then later the Buffalo Bills announced that Tyrod Taylor would be benched for rookie Nathan Peterman despite the team being 5-4.  Let's tackle each one in terms of the impact on the skill players involved.

Arizona:  Boy have things gone completely off the rails for the Cardinals who are absolutely decimated with injury.  Going with Gabbert and his noodle arm is never a good thing for those wideouts and runners who make up the rest of the offense and so that means more bad news for Larry Firtzgerald, John Brown, Adrian Peterson and company.  Fitzgerald is the only one who we would still sign off on starting in a WR 3 sense given his slot position and how inferior QB's like Gabbert use him as a safety outlet.  Peterson comes off a brutal Week 10 performance and he will continue to see 8 men in the box which is trouble.  Consider him right on the RB2/3 border.

Buffalo:  It is ridiculous how the Bills have treated Taylor; who while he does have faults; is also a competent enough to win games for you.  New head coach Sean McDermott is obviously not a fan and he is now risking possibly playoff contention by going with the green Peterman who looked terrible in the preseason.  While running back LeSean McCoy seems matchup proof, wideout Kelvin Benjamin may need to be benched this week as we watch to see how Peterman performs in Sunday's game.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL CRISIS POINT: MELVIN GORDON RB LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

You knew this was coming right?  Ever since the summer when I first began to hedge about drafting Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, I knew at some point he would be featured here.  While Gordon was a popular first round pick in fantasy football drafts this summer based almost solely on an expected heavy workload for the Chargers to at least begin the year, we are now seeing the red flags that have always emanated around him begin to overwhelm the picture here.  As we look ahead to a very important Week 11, it is now crystal clear that Gordon is nothing but a below-average running back who has yet to average a modest 4.0 yards per carry as he moves further into his third year in the league.  Throw in constant injury flare-ups and the fresh presence of super-speedster Austin Eckler and we have a full blown crisis on our hands with the fantasy football playoffs approaching.

So how did we get here?  Well honestly we have always been here with Gordon who has now averaged 3.5, 3.9, and 3.8 yards per carry his first two-plus years in the NFL which is a terrible collection of numbers that have never gotten enough attention in fantasy football circles.  Throw in the injuries that have once again hobbled Gordon on a weekly basis and he is becoming a gigantic headache and question mark moving forward.  Then of course there is Eckeler who shot right to the top of waiver adds this week coming off a big Week 10 performance where he rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries, while adding 5 catches for 77 yards and two scores.  Eckeler has tremendous pure speed and was arguably the fastest offensive player in the 2017 NFL Draft but his Western State background in college left him well off the radar.  That is not the issue no longer and what we have here is a guy with Alex Collins speed (another mid-season popular waiver add) but with terrific receiving hands that his Baltimore counterpart doesn't have.  While the sample size is small, Ecekler is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and has caught 19 passes in a backup role.  That role should grow as the Chargers clearly have a talent on their hands that needs to be looked at more closely.  This of course comes at the expense of Gordon who has now fallen into high-end RB 2 value.  But you knew trouble was coming anyways right?