FanPost

Week 6: Fantasy Football Studs and Duds

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So far the theme of this fantasy season seems to be "Lower Your Expectations". Fantasy's darling QB, and often recommended #1 overall pick, Aaron Rodgers finds himself out of the Top 5 of QBs, and uber tight end god Rob Gronkowski is currently ranked 4th among tight ends. No running back is averaging more than 19 points per game, and no wide receiver is averaging more than 16 points per game. This was supposed to be the year of the Quarterback with many analysts recommending 1st round draft picks on QBs because we were led to believe they would average in the 20s, with some elite guys even some approaching 30. So far though, only 5 are averaging more than 20 points per game, with 23.7 being the highest. It's time to lower those expectations and be happy with a 90-110 point team total in standard leagues, as that will usually be enough to win in a given week.

So who were the unexpected winners and losers in week 5? Did you see big games coming from: Alex Smith, Josh Gordon, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson who all scored 18 or more points? How about the big letdowns from: Maurice Jones-Drew, DeSean Jackson, Stevie Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Rob Gronkowski and Fred Jackson who all scored less than 6 points? Fantasy Football can be maddening at times. Oh yeah, I should mention that I'm going to try something a bit different from here on out with these weekly posts. I'm going to throw in a list of "Notables" below each Stud and Dud to highlight some of the other guys I considered picking, but ultimately didn't. And since it was requested, from here on out I'm going to include the stats from last week's picks at the bottom so you can see how close I came with my predictions. It's all very interesting to me...hopefully you find it interesting too!

As I have mentioned before, these articles consider the ESPN and Yahoo standard scoring projections for players at each offensive position (QB, RB, WR and TE). I’m going to choose 2 players at every position to highlight: one as a "stud" and one as a "dud". A Stud is one who I think will significantly beat their projected total, and a Dud is one who I think will fall short of their projected total. It’s also worth mentioning that generally speaking, I’ll try to avoid players with injuries as it’s too easy to pick them as Duds if they’re unlikely to play. I will also keep a running tally at the end of the post each week to keep track of the accuracy of my predictions. If I can do better than 50% by season’s end, I’ll call it a success. So read on after the jump (still using it, so my user blog page is more manageable) to see who my picks are for Week 6.

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QB Stud: Christian Ponder vs WASH

I know, I know, the last time I picked Ponder as a stud he had the worst fantasy day of the year scoring less than 5 points, and I don’t mean to jinx him again. But that was something of an anomaly game with special teams being the big winners. Get this: even with that weird game, Ponder is averaging 14.6 points per game. Without it? 17 points per game. This week the Washington Redskins, who are ranked 29th against QBs, are allowing an average of 20.5 points per game! They are dreadful. Oh, and here’s an interesting fact for you: Ponder’s only game where Jerome Simpson was on the field for any significant length of time resulted in a 4.9 fantasy point day (again, it was a special teams anomaly kind of game…but still). Simpson is questionable this week with a back injury, and my guess is that he probably won’t play, and I actually like Ponder better as a safe-throw, dink and dunk, YAC kind of QB. 200 yards and 2 scores seems like it would be a great day for Ponder, and would be easily achievable against the Skins. ESPN has him projected for only 11.6 points! Yahoo has him projected for 14.2. I think he’ll beat the ESPN projection by at least 4 points this week.

-Other Too-low Projected Notables: Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III (assuming he plays), Andy Dalton, Josh Freeman

QB Dud: Tony Romo vs BAL

This pick is based on two things: the Cowboys offensive line, and the Baltimore defensive line. Do you know who the starting center is for the Cowboys right now? Ryan Cook. Yeah, that Ryan Cook. You know the one, he was a backup on our offensive line for years and years. I think that says enough right there. Romo has been running for his life so far and isn’t getting enough time to get the ball down the field like he has in years past. It certainly didn’t help that Jason Witten was injured to start the season, but Dez Bryant hasn’t been the explosive WR he’s been hyped to be yet. Murray has so far turned in an average (at best) rushing season so far behind this O-line too, so it’s a liability. Through 4 games, Romo is averaging only 11.8 points per game, but this low average is mostly due to bad decision-making and interceptions (which are a byproduct of dealing with pressure behind this shoddy O-line). I think in the long run, he’ll even out and be just fine, because the yards are still there for the most part, and he showed promise week 1 behind the same O-line. But this week, coming off the bye and being on the road in Baltimore, I see him struggling once again. Baltimore is the 5th best defense against QBs, allowing an average of only 11.5 points per game. For some reason, ESPN has Romo projected for 17.8 points this week, and Yahoo isn’t much better at 16.14. I think he’ll fall short of the ESPN projection by at least 4 points this week.

-Other Too-high Projected Notables: Michael Vick, Matt Hasselbeck

RB Stud: Willis McGahee vs SD

Say what you will about McGahee’s awful Week 4 fumble and dropped pass, there just isn’t another RB on the roster that John Fox trusts. McGahee will continue to get the touches (he’s averaging 16.6 carries and 2.8 receptions per game) and is averaging 12.5 fantasy points per game through the first 5 games. He’s got 3 TDs and two 100 yards games so far this year. That’s not elite, but it’s borderline #1/#2 RB territory. This week he gets the San Diego Chargers, and they are an average run defense: not bad, but not particularly good either. They are allowing an average of 16.5 fantasy points to running backs. Yes, Denver is on the road, but I expect McGahee to perform on average at least. ESPN has him projected very low at 7.6 points, and Yahoo is marginally better at 9.4. I think he’ll beat the ESPN projection by at least 4 points this week.

-Other Too-low Projected Notables: Fred Jackson, Arian Foster

RB Dud: Alfred Morris vs MIN

I will admit that this is a bit of a risky call, being that Morris is currently the 6th best RB in all of fantasy, but hear me out. He put up double digit fantasy points against the following rushing defenses this year: New Orleans, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Atlanta. They are all ranked 32nd, 24th, 29th, and 22nd respectively against RB. The best defense he’s faced is St. Louis who is ranked 20th, and he scored 8.9 that week. This week he gets our very own Minnesota Vikings, 2nd best against RB. We are allowing an average of 8.9 points per week! Washington has a good running game, and we are back to being dominant against the run, so something has to give, and I think that something will be Alfred Morris. ESPN has him projected for 14.8 points this week and Yahoo's projection is a more sensible 9.47. I think he falls short of the ESPN projection by at least 4 points this week.

-Other Too-high Projected Notables: Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw, Stevan Ridley and Mikel Leshoure

WR Stud: Eric Decker vs SD

Decker is quietly having a pretty good year so far. Demaryius Thomas is the more athletic of the two receivers catching the ball from Peyton Manning and tends to get more of the focus in fantasy, but Decker only has 2 less targets and 2 less receptions on the year than Thomas. Believe it or not, but Decker is averaging 9.3 points per game and hasn’t scored less than 5 (Thomas is averaging 11.5, but also has a week where he scored 1.4). Decker has been pretty reliable for fantasy so far, and he’s even more valuable in PPR. This week he gets the Chargers and their 24th ranked defense against WRs. They are giving up an average of 25.8 points per game to WR. You can pretty much split that in half, giving 1/2 to Decker and 1/2 to Thomas. Trim a little off both for Stokely I guess. Either way, Decker should have an easy time hitting his average. ESPN has Decker projected for only 6.5 points while Yahoo has him projected for 10.39. I think Yahoo has the right idea here, and my prediction is for Decker to beat ESPN’s projection by at least 3 points.

-Other Too-low Projected Notables: Andrew Hawkins, Torrey Smith, Kenny Britt

WR Dud: Denarius Moore vs ATL

Moore was a fantasy star late last year, and had been slowed by a hamstring earlier this year. He certainly has the talent and speed to wreak havoc on the football field when healthy (and he is now). And I get that Darrius Heyward-Bey is likely to return this week to help draw attention away from him. So there is certainly an argument to be made that Moore will out-perform his 3-week average of 8.1 this week. But it will be tough against Atlanta’s secondary. They are ranked 2nd best in fantasy against WR and are allowing an average of 15.4 points per week. Assuming he splits that with Heyward-Bey and maybe even Rod Streater or Derek Hagan, that doesn’t leave much for him. Oakland would be better served to lean on McFadden as the Falcons don't have a good run defense. I think Moore will be startable, but ESPN’s projection of 14.6 points seems way too high. Yahoo is much more sensible with a projection of 8.3. Therefore, I think Moore will fall short of his ESPN projection by at least 3 points this week.

-Other Too-high Projected Notables: Malcolm Floyd, Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson and Pierre Garcon

TE Stud: Heath Miller vs TEN

Conventional wisdom says that Heath Miller’s explosion onto the fantasy scene in 2012 is an anomaly, because he’s never been an elite receiving tight end in 8 seasons with the Steelers (his best year was 2009 where he put up 789 yards and 6 TDs on the year, his worst was 2006: 384 yards and 5 TDs). And now that Mendenhall is back, the Steelers could return to their old ways of being primarily a running football team, relegating Miller to his normal blocking duties. That sounds like a nice storyline to explain his relative disappearance from the fantasy stats last week. But, I don’t think it’s grounded in fact. Miller leads all tight ends with 9 redzone targets on the year, and is the 3rd most targeted receiver on the Steelers offense, only 5 targets behind Mike Wallace. He was targeted 5 times last week and caught 4 balls for 47 yards. It’s certainly possible that the redzone looks go to Mendenhall more, but Miller is still a matchup advantage, and I think the Steelers know this. The fact is, Miller is averaging an obscene 10.3 points per game, and he gets the WORST defense against the TE in week 6: Tennessee Titans. They allow an average of 18.4 points per game to tight ends, and have allowed a staggering 8 TDs to tight ends so far this year. I think Miller finds the end zone for the 5th time this year. ESPN has Miller projected for only 3.5 points this week, while Yahoo isn’t much better at 6.4. I think he’ll beat the ESPN projection by at least 5 points this week.

-Other Too-low Projected Notables: Brandon Pettigrew, Coby Fleener, Jason Witten, Brent Celek

TE Dud: Rob Gronkowski vs SEA

Read carefully: don’t bench Gronkowski. My putting him here as a dud is more of a lowering of expectations. If you read any of my analysis over the summer, you should remember that I highlighted Gronkowski’s 2011 season as an anomaly, and it was in fact the best season for a tight end in NFL history. Therefore, he shouldn’t be expected to repeat that same feat this year, or maintain the same level of consistency. Why? Well, he had an obscene number of TDs last year (17!) and there is no way he could be expected to keep that up this season. Even worse, he’s only averaging 4.6 receptions and 59 yards per week and has found the endzone 3 times in 5 games. This is still very good for a tight end, but nowhere near the level of his 2011 season, so it’s time to lower expectations. He’s had more than 75 yards in only one game this year, and that was against Buffalo’s terrible defense. This is sort of breaking my own rule by choosing him as a dud, because he is dealing with a hip injury. But, he played through it last week and has been practicing, so I think it's safe to assume he plays this week. And this week he gets the Seahawks, at home in Seattle. They are an elite defense at home and have not allowed a tight end touchdown all year and have allowed less than 75 yards to tight ends in every game this year. They are 2nd best against the TE and have limited Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley and Greg Olsento single digit fantasy points. They are so good, they are allowing an average of only 4.9 points to tight ends. But for some reason, ESPN has The Gronk projected for 13.7 points this week and Yahoo has him at 10.99, both as their #1 tight end for week 6. I’m not buying it. I think he’ll fall short of ESPN’s projection by at least 4 points this week.

-Other Too-high Projected Notables: Jacob Tamme, Antonio Gates

Last Week

Correct Calls
QB Dud: Matt Hasselbeck (ESPN Projection: 15.2, My Call: 12.2 or less, Actual: 11)
RB Dud: Frank Gore (ESPN Projection: 23.9, My Call: 17.9 or less, Actual: 16.6)
WR Dud: Steve Smith (ESPN Projection: 15.1, My Call: 11.1 or less, Actual: 4)
TE Stud: Owen Daniels (ESPN Projection: 4.9, My Call: 8.9+, Actual: 13.9)
TE Dud: Jermichael Finley (ESPN Projection: 10.8, My Call: 7.8 or less, Actual: 1.1)

Incorrect Calls
QB Stud: Matt Schaub (ESPN Projection: 12.6, My Call: 15.6+, Actual: 10.4)
RB Stud: Maurice Jones-Drew (ESPN Projection: 9.9, My Call: 13.9+, Actual: 5.6)
WR Stud: Andrew Hawkins (Yahoo Projection: 3.88, My Call: 8.88+, Actual: 5.2)

Overall Record: 23-17, 58% Accurate

Daily Norsemen Fantasy Teams
Death Star Vikings: 4-1
Team CCNorsemen: 2-3
Blair Walsh Project: 1-4

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.

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