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Tue Oct 29th 2019

Week Eight Review

Film and Statistical Anomalies

Week eight is in the books, and there are a few surprise anomalies based on statistics and film that have changed some of my opinions on players and situations.  Here are some of my overall impressions after watching all of the games along with comments on the dynasty and NFL transactions that were made this week.

Top Five Observations

A surprise rookie quarterback has moved ahead of the pack.

  • Nine quarterbacks were drafted ahead of Gardner Minshew in the 2019 NFL draft and no one drafted him in dynasty rookie drafts, but he is also now not only the rookie with the most average points per game, he is the number thirteen quarterback overall in average points per game. He had his best fantasy game of the season last week, scoring 30 fantasy points.  He is extremely poised under pressure and looks like a veteran player already.  He's incredibly safe with the ball too, having thrown 13 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. Plus, he's remarkably consistent, scoring about 20 points per game except for a poor week in week seven.  He's the surprise rookie this year and a fantastic dynasty prospect.  I hope you were able to pick him up after week one.  I was only smart enough to do so in one league.

Two stud running backs can't be stopped even if their teams can.

  • Cleveland and Carolina got hammered this week by the undefeated teams, New England and San Francisco.  Even so, Christian McCaffrey and Nick Chubb could not be held down.  They still produced fantasy points and looked awesome on film.  Chubb's unfortunate fumbles on back to back plays hurt his fantasy day, but the second fumble was at the end of an incredible 50-yard run.  He's so fun to watch.  He's excellent at balance, keeping his feet, and squeezing through holes.  He's one of my favorite players to watch.  McCaffrey is equally fun to watch.  He's game-script proof because of his proficiency in the passing game.  The 49ers could not keep him from scoring 28 fantasy points and a 40-yard touchdown run.  He's excellent at setting up tacklers to make them miss and is a precise route runner with great hands.  He's also one of my favorite players to watch.

Half the teams in our leagues have to stream tight ends.

  • The tight end position seems to get more and more frustrating every year.  If you don't have one of the top six guys, Hooper, Waller, Kelce, Engram, Andrews, Kittle or perhaps Hunter Henry now that he's back, you're streaming tight ends this year.  We expected players like Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, Delanie Walker, Jared Cook, and Vance McDonald to be among the reliable top 12 tight ends, but they've been anything but reliable.  It's a huge advantage to have one of the top six tight ends that you know you can start every week because those that do not have one of the top six tight ends often guess wrong each week.  I know I have often this year, like the last three weeks when I started Ertz over Goedert.

Two wide receivers are incredibly efficient... again.

  • Last year was thought to be an anomaly when Tyler Lockett and Michael Thomas had historic catch rates and touchdown rates.  Well, they are doing it again.  Normally tight ends  lead the league in catch rate just because they run shorter routes in the middle of the field and have a smaller average depth of target (ADOT).  This year, like last year, Thomas and Lockett are among the top 12 in catch percentage.  The other 10 in the top 12 are tight ends.  Lockett is catching 85% of the balls thrown his way and Thomas is catching 82%.  Thomas is the #1 scoring wide receiver on the year since he has scored 12 touchdowns while Lockett is the #11 scoring wide receiver even though he only has 4 touchdowns.  These guys are breaking the efficiency models for the second year in a row.  We should come to expect it.

Rookie wide receivers score and establish unique roles.

  • Three rookie wide receivers scored in unique ways this week, showing promise and increasing their dynasty value but in very different ways.  Darius Slayton caught two contestable deep balls for two touchdowns.  This mostly undrafted rookie in rookie drafts is the deep ball specialist in New York now.  DK Metcalf had just 3 catches for 13 yards but 2 were touchdowns.  He's become the red-zone target in Seatlle much as we expected.  Deebo Samuel had 3 catches for 19 yards last week but also had two carries for 29 yards and a touchdown.  He's become the wide receiver screen-pass target and the gadget guy in San Francisco.  Among these talented rookies, Metcalf is the most reliable in his role, but Slayton and Samuel could see their unique roles grow as the year progresses.  All three and impactful players on their teams.

Week Eight Injury Impact

There were a few key injuries that will affect player values this year and a few that may affect dynasty values in the years to come. Royce Freeman and Mile Sanders suffered shoulder injuries but both seem to be on track to play this week so I did not list them here.  These are the injuries that should impact our teams in the coming weeks or in the years to come.

James Conner

  • He had a great game on Monday night but ended the night wearing a sling due too a  shoulder injury.  So far he has been day to day in practice but it appears he will miss a week or two.  This does not affect his dynasty value at all, because I believe he is a better all-around running back than the limited Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell (also injured).  That said, Samuels can fill in fine for Conner if he misses a few weeks and should have a short spike in value and could be a good tradeable asset to teams in need of a running back this week.

Brandin Cooks

  • Cooks had another concussion on Sunday which makes for three in the last year and a half.  He's seeing a specialist this week, and it is starting to be a concern.  I believe this does affect his dynasty value.  His value was already dropping given the increased volume and effectiveness of Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett.  His streak of 1000 receiving yards per year is about to come to an end this year, I'm afraid.  It could mean more than that.  I love his talent and believe in him more than most people do, but these injuries may be too much.

Matt Breida

  • Brieda gets hurt all the time and fights through it to play again.  This time, given the short week, since they play Thursday, I doubt he will play.  Raheem Mostert was also injured on Sunday so the 49ers may need to go with just Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson this week.  I think this is a temporary injury and does not affect the dynasty value of any of the 49er running backs.  Tevin Coleman is likely to gain the short term if he can manage more of the workload.  

Chase Edmunds

  • Edmunds took advantage of the David Johnson injury last week to become a star and get into our starting line-ups this week, but he was a dud after hurting his hamstring early in the game.  Arizona traded for Kenyan Drake this week, which damaged the dynasty value of Edmunds for sure, especially after being injured this week and not being able to hold off Drake from starting this week.  As the Arizona backfield gets more cluttered, I downgrade the value of all of their running backs, Johnson, Edmunds, and Drake. 

Dede Westbrook

  • Westbrook started the game but was quickly removed, giving his owners a headache this week.  I still believe in Westbrook and see him as the clear #2 wide receiver in Jacksonville behind D.J. Chark in an improving offense.  Conley played well in Dede's absence and will continue to do so, but only this year.  Westbrook's dynasty value does not change based on this injury.  Nor does Conley's or Chark's.

Joe Flacco

  • It's hard to know if Flacco is injured or not.  He went on a bit of a rant this week about the coaching decisions and then suddenly ends up on the injury report.  It's surprising since their rookie, Drew Lock, is not able to play yet.  Flacco's dynasty value is already about dead and he's on the waiver wire in most of my leagues already.  This does, however, affect the dynasty value of all the pass catchers in Denver.  They will lose value in the short term, but I believe in them all.  I'd be looking to buy Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and Noah Fant while their values drop a bit.  Denver's running backs, Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay will lose value for the rest of the season, but their dynasty value should not change much.  I'd hold the Denver running backs if I had them but would not try to buy or sell them. 

Week Eight Waiver Moves

As a reminder, I play in dynasty leagues that roster 27-30 players.  I made very few bids on these guys because I like my rosters more than them, but I will list a few guys I made waiver claims for this week depending on my team's make-up and needs.

1. Hunter Renfrow

  • Renfrow had his first touchdown of the year this week in addition to his highest snap count (64%).  He does not seem to have lost snaps after the addition of Zay Jones, who was traded from Buffalo.  He's more worthy of a pick-up in PPR leagues to help fill in on bye weeks, but I do not believe he'll become an every-week starter.

2. Josh Reynolds

  • I already have Josh Reynolds in most of my leagues or he is on rosters of smart, long-term-thinking owners, but I did see him available in one of my leagues and made a claim for him.  He is on an NFL team loaded at wide receivers with Kupp, Cooks, and Woods.  Someone eventually has to leave that rotation due to contract costs or injury (like Cooks).  Every time someone has left due to injury, Reynolds has stepped up like he did this week when he had 73 yards receiving and one touchdown.  This is a long hold and wait, but I believe he is worth the wait and I have been holding him in many leagues this whole time. 

3. Danny Amendola

  • Amendola was only available in one of my leagues.  I made an offer for him in that league.  Like Renfrow, I only see him as a short-term bye-week play in PPR leagues.  Detroit is going to become more of a pass-heavy team this year since  Kerryon Johnson is injured.  Amendola is the underneath wide receiver sure to rack up catches but not many yards or touchdowns this year.

4. Tra Carson

  • I did not make any offers on him but I know others will, so I thought I would mention him here.  Ty Johnson, the top waiver pick-up in most leagues last week, was a disappointment this week.  No one expected Tra Carson, who signed off the Packer's practice squad, to play almost as many snaps and to get more carries than Ty Johnson, but he did.  I still believe more in Ty Johnson this year and beyond so I was not willing to make any offers on Carson.  Others will for sure, but I will not.

Week Eight Trades

There were three interesting trades in my leagues this week.  It's the time of year when owners are deciding if they are going to make a playoff run or headed into rebuild mode.  You can see that in a few of these trades.

 Sam Darnold <======> Marcus Mariota and a 2020 3rd

  • I like the Sam Darnold side of this trade.  It was a perfect time to go trade for him after the "seeing ghosts" game in New England.  Darnold is going to get years to prove himself even if the Jets seem to be organically "selling" by trading so many of their players.  He's not going to lose his job in New York while Mariota has already lost his job in Tennessee.  As for the 2020 3rd, who knows what that could turn into. 

Darren Waller <======> Marquise Brown, Eric Ebron, and a 2020 3rd

  • The team that traded Waller is 3-5 and realistically out of the playoff race.  The team that acquired Waller has the best roster in the league and just got better for their playoff run this year.  Waller is going to be much more consistent down the stretch run than Ebron would be so I like this win-now move for his team.  Overall, however, I like this move for the other team better.  He sold Waller at his high point and got a great return.  I have Ebron (12) ranked just two spots behind Waller (10) in my dynasty rankings so I don't see as big of a difference between them as most people do even though Waller has been much better so far this year.  When Marquise Brown is not injured, which does happen a lot, he has been a startable player already in his rookie year.  He should just get better. Add the 2020 3rd-round pick, and I like this side of the trade a lot more.  If the Waller owner wins a championship this year, however, it would be well worth it.

Kenyan Drake and Emmanuel Sanders <======> Alexander Mattison and a 2020 3rd

  • Both of these teams are 5-3 and should compete for the title this year, but the team that acquired Drake and Sanders has a much thinner roster and needed Drake this week given David Johnson's injury (who he also owns).  He's very thin at wide receiver too, which is why he picked up an aging Sanders who did look great in his first game after being traded to the 49ers.  This team was trying to get immediate help.  The other 5-3 team has much more depth at running back and wide receiver so he was willing to part with Drake and Sanders for Mattison and a 2020 3rd round-pick, especially since he has Dalvin Cook.  He's locked up the Minnesota backfield with one of the league's best handcuffs.  I see the logic behind each side of the trade and see it as a pretty even trade.  I favor the Mattison side of the trade a little more because I don't believe in Drake and believe he's only a half-year rental in Arizona and will be a back up on another team next year.  If Sanders becomes a #1 wide receiver  in San Fransisco beyond this year by beating out the young wide receivers I love (Deebo Samuel and Donte Pettis) then I could think differently, but I don't believe he can hold the young guys off beyond this year.

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