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Thu Oct 3rd 2019

Week Four Review

Rankings Shake-up

Though I did watch all of the week three games, I took the week off from writing and podcasting.  I do this after week three every year because that's the week my wife and I take our anniversary trip.  Last week Brenda and I had a blast in Dublin, Ireland.  Thanks for the break!

We got back just in time to watch all of the week four action in the NFL.  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

The bad teams are as bad as I've ever seen.

  • If Miami thought they could "tank for Tua," they may have to tank harder. Many teams seem to compete with them for the #1 draft pick.  Arizona, Cincinnati, Washington, Denver, and the Jets may be right there with them in the thick of the competition for Tua.  From a fantasy perspective, this means a couple of things.  These teams' offenses have value at the wide receiver or passing downs running back position because they're going to be playing from behind so often.  This kills the value of top prospects like Joe Mixon and middle prospects like Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman.  High pass-catching backs like David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell may have a chance to stay viable, but only in the passing game.  Whereas passing options on these teams could see increased targets but less value because the offenses are so bad.  Larry Fitzgerald, Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, and Terry McLaurin (initially) have taken advantage of this weakness.  High-potential players like Tyler Boyd, Preston Williams, Devante Parker, Robby Anderson, and Christian Kirk have been stifled by poor team-play.

There's a major shake-up among the top tight ends.

  • We're only a quarter way through the season, but so far there are a lot of surprises among the top 12 tight ends.   Mark Andrews, Austin Hooper, Darren Waller, Will Dissly, Delanie Walker, Jason Witten, and Jordan Akins are among the top 12 tight ends.  Tight end scoring is largely linked to touchdowns so rankings can be skewed, but targets and receptions can be more meaningful.  With those things in mind, Mark Andrews, Austin Hooper, Darren Waller, and Will Dissly (as younger prospects) seem to be inline to move permanently into the top 12 in our tight ends rankings.  Meanwhile, questions arise around high upside but less impactful tight ends such as George Kittle, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Vance McDonald, O.J. Howard, Jared Cook, and David Njoku (injury).

Many of the highly drafted wide receivers are underperforming.

  • There is no need to panic because things will soon level out, but there is some reason to be concerned with highly drafted wide receivers.  Mike Evans owners are concerned because Chris Godwin has scored more than Mike Evans and appears to be the WR #1 in Tampa Bay.  DeAndre Hopkins is WR #24, Odell Beckham is WR #25, Brandin Cooks is WR #26, Adam Thielen is WR #34, D.J. Moore is WR #36, and Juju Smith-Schuster is #40.  Changes in offensive philosophy, possible changes in competition, and quarterback injuries have changed player's dynasty values considerably.

Several surprise defenses are making a fantasy impact.

  • It feels like, depending on your league formats, that some dynasty defenses that were likely kept are dominating (Patriots and Bears) while other surprise defenses that were likely not kept are also dominating (Titans, 49ers, Buccaneers, Jets, Packers, and Bills).  Depending on your league settings, these may have been rostered teams.  I can say for my leagues, even those that value defenses higher than others, that the Titans, 49ers, Buccaneers, Jets, Packers, and Bills have all been added since the season started, and some may have gotten a steal.  I made a lot of waiver wire plays for defenses this week.

One-third of the league is starting unexpected quarterbacks this week.

  • A few weeks ago I wrote about close to 25% of teams not starting the quarterback they intended to start the season.  Well, now it's up to 33%.  This is impacting the value of many fantasy players, given that offenses are so directly tied to the quarterback.  Almost every quarterback injury results in the devaluing of players and their teams.  In most cases, minus the NY Giants and Jacksonville, these are not permanent changes, so player value's should change significantly.

Week Four Injury Impact

Mitch Trubisky

  • Trubisky hurt his shoulder early in the game.  Chase Daniel came in and performed well enough to get the Bears a win, but not well enough to elevate the fantasy value of his teammates.  They were playing a tough defense (Minnesota), and it's always hard for a backup to come in without a game-plan being set to his skills.  He'll play better for the next few weeks while Trubisky heals, but likely not well enough to change the value of the only two startable fantasy players for the Bears, Allen Robinson, and David Montgomery.  I'd give them a slight downgrade in value for the next few weeks, but both players are still every-week starters. Chase Daniel is not.

Josh Allen

  • Josh Allen was concussed late in the game against the Patriots.  Matt Barkley came in and almost led the team to a comeback win against New England.  Allen was a streamable QB play this year given his up-and-down play and his ability to run for 30 yards or more per game.  Barkley will not be worth streaming.  Hopefully, Allen clears the concussion protocol quickly, because he made John Brown an every-week starter and Cole Beasley a viable flex play each week in PPR leagues. I would not start Brown or Beasley this week against the tough Tennessee defense.  I'd wait until Allen becomes the starter again, which will not be long.

Case Keenum

  • A third quarterback went down with an injury in Case Keenum.  Washington brought in their rookie quarterback, Dwayne Haskins who promptly gave the game away by throwing three interceptions.  It was a rough start to his career.  I don't think it dooms him by any means, but he needs more time to adjust.  Washington is likely going to start Colt McCoy, not Haskins if Keenum does not get healthy by Sunday.  Their match-up this week is New England, the best fantasy defense in the league.  I wouldn't start anyone on the Redskins this week except Chris Thompson who racks up garbage points in PPR leagues after the Redskins get behind.  If Haskins starts future games, I would bench all Washington players, but if McCoy or Keenum are starting, I would confidently put Terry McLaurin back in my line-ups.

Marlon Mack

  • The Colts indicated that Mack could have come back into the game if needed, but they didn't let him back in the game even though they were behind.  Jordan Wilkins stands to benefit if Mack cannot go this week.  I believe he will be the 1st and 2nd down back while Nyheim Hines will be the passing downs back.  Indianapolis plays Kansas City this week which makes me suspect they could be playing from behind, making Hines a better play this week (especially in PPR leagues) but Wilkins a better play going forward.  I bet Mack will miss a week so that the Colts can return to full strength next week with Mack and TY Hilton back in the line-up.

T.J. Hockenson

  • This was a pretty ugly looking concussion that caused a very long pause in play in that game.  It stinks because he had already scored a touchdown and was likely going to be targeted in the end zone again on that drive.  This injury downgrades the fantasy value of Matt Stafford just a hair if the concussion symptoms linger.  They're on a bye week this week, so hopefully T.J. can recover quickly and be ready to play in week 6.  If not, Jesse James could replace him, but would have no fantasy value.  Red zone targets would be the biggest missing component from Hockenson's absence, making Kenny Golladay an even better value.

Week Four Waiver Moves

As a reminder, I play in dynasty leagues that roster 27-30 players.  This is a list of the players I was most eager to pick up this week.

1. Auden Tate

  • Honestly, this is the only guy I aggressively bid on this week apart from a few defenses.  It was a bad week on the waiver wire this week overall.  Tate was already getting a lot more targets in the last two games (6 and 10).  He was already on my radar for the waiver wire before the John Ross injury and subsequent move to IR.  A.J. Green's injury is lingering too, so it's going to be the Tate and Boyd show in Cincinnati.  Two years ago I had him ranked as a top 10 rookie before the Combine and NFL draft.  His poor performance at the Combine and his falling to the 7th round in the NFL draft caused me to drop him quite a bit, making him undraftable.  I'm trusting in the Florida State film I watched before the NFL draft and trusting in the current circumstances. I picked him up in several leagues and have him in my starting line up in one league this week.

2. Ricky Seals-Jones

  • RSJ, as he's known, came out of nowhere last Sunday catching 3 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.  I don't think this is something we'll see again, but I was willing to take a chance and did pick him up in one league.  David Njoku will come back this year and it was Demetrius Harris who caught the tight end touchdown last week and had 67% of the snaps last week.  I took a stab in one league just to watch for a week or two in case the snap-count begins to favor RSJ.  Either way, it's not a dynasty move given Njoku is the long-term starter in Cleveland.

3. Gerald Everett

  • Everett had 8 targets in that crazy shootout of a game last week.  That's more than he has had in a very long time.  Even though he was Sean McVay's first draft pick and promised to be the next Jordan Reed, the fact is that McVay has not used his tight ends the last two years and I don't believe he is going to change now.  Other teams picked him up in my leagues this week but I passed.

4. Benjamin Watson

  • Here was the sneaky add this week.  If other owners fell asleep and forgot that Watson was returning from suspension this week, then savvy owners picked him up while they were sleeping. I considered making some bids on him but ultimately decided not to do so.  He's 38 years old now.  I just don't believe that he will come in and make a difference even though he should have every opportunity since New England has not had a productive tight end to start the season.  Savvy move, but I was not interested.

5. Chase Daniel

  • I add Daniel here because he could become a starter on weeks where 4-6 NFL teams are on bye weeks.  He's a must-add in any 2-QB leagues, but I don't think he is worth and add in 1-QB leagues unless you're one of the teams that have been ravaged by the quarterback injuries or have Trubisky on your team.

Week Four Trades

Here are the trades that were made in my leagues this week.

Michael Thomas and a 2020 3rd <======> Sammy Watkins, Austin Hooper, and a 2020 1st

  • This was a trade that I made in my league where my team is right on the verge of a rebuild.  I traded away Thomas and the 2020 3rd.  I decided not to go full rebuild mode on this team and thought a two for one and a 2020 1st could help me do both - give me a better chance to compete this year and an extra 2020 1st round pick.  Hooper and the 2020 1st were the main targets for me in this deal.  I have been languishing at tight end in this league and Hooper has moved up to be my #7 ranked TE.  The team that traded him has Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and has a good shot at the title this year, so he was willing to give a lot for Michael Thomas.  I'm not a huge Watkins fan, largely because he is so inconsistent week to week and injury-prone, but I do love the Kansas City offense and his potential even when Tyreek comes back.  I am strong at wide receiver in this league (Hopkins and Juju are my other starters) so I was willing to make Watkins my #3 wide receiver knowing that I have my tight end problem solved.  As for the 2020 1st, read about the next trade.

Le'Veon Bell and a 2020 3rd <=====> Royce Freeman and a 2020 1st

  • Later in the week, I made this trade, showing that I have a hard time completely giving up on my team. The 2020 1st round pick that I acquired in the previous trade was traded away with Royce Freeman to get Le'Veon Bell and a 2020 3rd.  This team is in rebuilding mode, so I am hopeful that the 2020 3rd will be a better pick between pick #20-25.  My running backs in this league are my weakness, so I wanted to have one stud that I can start every week to see if I can get back in the race in this league.  I have Russell Wilson, DeAndre Hopkins, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Austin Hooper in the league so adding Bell made me more hopeful (that is until I saw how Mason Rudolph didn't target Juju much on Monday night).  The 2020 1st that I traded was acquired from the very strong team mentioned above, so I am hoping it was essentially Le'Veon Bell for about a 1.10 pick next year.  I still have my 2020 1st.  Finally, I have soured on my Royce Freeman hopes.  The 50/50 split with Lindsay was starting to drive me crazy.  I think Denver likes what they're doing with their running backs and neither will become an every-week starter, as Bell will be.  Hopefully, I can get back in the fight in this league.  If not, I will regret this trade.

Wayne Gallman and a 2020 4th <======> 2020 2nd

  • This trade was given to the Barkley owner who has a great team and won the championship last year.  I am sure he just wanted the security this year and perhaps going forward with Gallman.  The Gallman owner was just trying to get a 2020 2nd out of the deal.  I know because he was offered to me too.  I would not do it, but it makes more sense for the Barkley owner.  I favor the 2020 2nd otherwise.

Wayne Gallman and a 2020 4th <======> Alexander Mattison

  • This trade was made by the same Gallman owner but in a different league.  The team that bought Gallman does not have Barkley but he has a very strong team with a slight weakness at running back.  He was trying to buy himself a win or two before Barkley comes back.  He also has four 2020 1st round picks next year so he was more willing than most to give up Mattison.  I see why he was willing to do it given his team make-up, but I still prefer the Mattison side of this trade since Dalvin Cook is likely to get injured given his history and the number of touches he is getting.  That said, he could become a perpetual back up to Cook, but the same could be said to Gallman.  I like Mattison as a long-term back up more than I like Gallman so I favor the Mattison side of this trade.

Diontae Johnson, Dawson Knox, and two 2020 1sts <======> George Kittle and Parris Campbell

  • It should be noted that this trade is in my FFPC league, which has much thinner rosters (20 players) so trades in this league look much different than in more normal 27 to 30-man leagues.  The team that gave away Kittle and Campbell is 1-3 and has decided early to shift into rebuild mode. They now have two 2020 1st round picks plus Knox and Mark Andrews in this tight end premium format.  I can see why they'd be willing to give Kittle away given their record and their tight end depth.  The team thought bought Kittle and Campbell is competitive (stinks that I play them this week and now they have Kittle), so I see why they were willing to give so much away.  All in all, on this one I like the Knox, Johnson, and two 2020 firsts on this trade.  That team is going to be much stronger next year for sure.

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