Each week I will be walking through the Twitterverse extracting some of the best commentary from trusted fantasy football minds. Twitter can be overwhelming with the amount of information that streams live, but it also proves to be one of the fastest and easiest ways to communicate. In 140 characters or less, you can learn something about a player you may have never thought of from trends, stats or analysis.
Victor Cruz WR, NYG
It has not been a good start to 2014 for Victor Cruz. He has caught less than half his targets and his YAC (yards after the catch) is also extremely low. DLF’s Jarrett Behar tweeted, “Seriously worried about Victor Cruz. More soul-crushing drops this week. Hasn’t scored a TD since September of last year.”
[inlinead]Cruz registered three drops on Sunday and as Jarrett pointed out, the touchdowns have completely vanished. The Giants offense continues to look bad and Eli Manning is finding a new favorite go-to in his tight end. Cruz is still relatively young at 27 and signed through 2018, but his upside for both this year and moving forward are taking a hit. He is likely at an all-time low right now in regards to fantasy value, so if you are a believer or maybe just need a wide receiver who can be had for cheap, now is the time to make offers. While he just re-aggravated his hamstring on Sunday and his questionable for week three, Eric Decker would be a receiver I would consider swapping straight up for Cruz. Decker represents a clear number one with a young quarterback in Geno Smith that is learning to rely on him to move the ball.
Toby Gerhart RB, JAX
Toby Gerhart was a player coming in 2014 with a new fantasy outlook as the lead back for a team that did not have any immediately viable options at running back behind him. He had performed well in backing up one of the greatest backs of all time and while no one was touting him as a top choice in drafts, many did expect a high volume would lock him into weekly lineups with a low floor. Of course as Adam Harstad mentioned, “This was always the problem with the off-season Toby Gerhart love: he’s playing in the same offense that ruined Maurice Jones-Drew.”
Jacksonville has now been outscored 75-27 in two games. The defense that many thought would be much improved and help keep Gerhart on the field and churning out yards has not performed well. Gerhart is averaging just 2.0 yards per carry on 25 runs and courteous of Pro Football Focus stats has gained 48 of his 50 yards rushing after contact. On 25 carries, the man has only gained two yards before someone has hit him! There were some words of encouragement from Sigmund Bloom on Sunday stating, “The whole Jaguars offense could come alive with Bortles. Don’t abandon your positions on Gerhart just yet.”
If anything, now is not the time to sell Gerhart as no one will be paying anything of value. I advise all Gerhart owners to seek out Eric Olinger as you likely share his point of view, “You’re ruining my life Toby Gerhart!”
Ladarius Green, TE SD
Coming into his third season in the NFL, many believed that the rare abilities and measurables would tip the scales in Ladarius Green’s favor. Antonio Gates had enjoyed 11 great seasons, but no one thought the old man could keep up with the more impressive physical specimen. If anything, Gates and the Chargers are providing reason why not to get to caught up on a player’s potential if the guy in front of him is the more reliable option. As Evan Silva noted, “Ladarius Green has two targets through two games. Antonio Gates leads the Chargers with 17 targets.”
CBS’s Jason La Canfora also chimed in tweeting, “So, um, I guess Antonio Gates isn’t done yet. He’s got a hat trick of TDs today including a ridiculous grab between two defenders.”
Coming into the 2014 season, Green was a consensus top 10 tight end prospect. DLF’s own composite rankings had him at sixth overall, though Karl Safchick (@KarlSafchick) dropped him all the way to 14. Ladarius may still be a great fantasy asset to have in the future, but without an injury to Gates, there is no way to expect any type of value in the 2014 fantasy season.
Mark Ingram, RB NO
Mark Ingram was a favorite late round target of mine coming into this season. In fact, I own him in every league I play in. After Sunday’s performance I was feeling great about having him on my rosters and wondering would it be better to ride the fantasy points to victories or attempt to try and sell at an all-time high. Monday morning neither of those options were available as Ingram has been reported to miss four weeks with a broken hand. Interestingly the opinions on one of fantasy’s top running backs through two weeks remained split.
Ryan Forbes offered a negative outlook exclaiming, “Ingram will regress a bit through from this top-5 start. Still only 20 snaps yesterday so will be maddening some weeks.”
Ingram had been making the most of his touches averaging six yards per carry and scoring touchdowns in both weeks to start the season. Ingram’s 40 snaps are one third of what DeMarco Murray received through two weeks and many other top performers have already logged 100 plus snaps. When Ingram returns, he will most likely receive the same amount of touches he garnered to start the season, the only question will be whether weeks one and two are a sign of things to come or merely just the ceiling for a running back getting less than half of his team’s offensive plays.
Niles Paul, TE WAS
The injury to Jordan Reed has clearly benefited fourth year tight end Niles Paul. After managing to catch only four balls last season, Paul is maximizing his current opportunity. The injury to Robert Griffin also should not worry anyone as Chris Wesseling noted, “Looks like Kirk Cousins developed quite a rapport with Niles Paul on the second team offense.”
JJ Zachariason also tweeted out, “Niles Paul is living the stream so hard right now.”
commenting on Paul’s value to owners who decided to forgo the tight end position in drafts and utilize the waiver wire for weekly fantasy points. Given Niles’ first two games though you will not be finding him on the waiver wire after this week. Paul has been highly efficient with his targets and even if Reed does return from his hamstring injury in week three, Paul should remain a factor. Unfortunately his fantasy outlook this season and beyond is very unclear. He is an unrestricted free agent in 2015, so he may not remain a Redskin after this year.
Bobby Rainey, RB TB
This is the second year in a row where Bobby Rainey has stepped in after an injury to Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and performed well. Last season it was Mike James who received the starting job after Martin went down until he was injured himself. While most will remember last season’s games that Rainey dominated and put up RB1 numbers, he also finished the year unable to top 37 yards rushing in a game over his last three contests. Sigmund Bloom did mention Rainey’s performance on Sunday stating, “Bobby Rainey might be messin’ things up for Doug Martin owners by outplaying him right now.”
He sure looked good doubling his yards per carry from the previous week and catching three passes as well. Martin was expected to play earlier in the week and was a late scratch due to his injury. It still is unclear what Tampa Bay will do this week, but Chet Gresham made a good point tweeting, “Right now Rainey should be given more touches when Martin returns, but they aren’t going to just make Martin the backup soon.”
The running back situation will likely remain more of committee and fantasy mess this season. Rainey is a restricted free agent in 2015 and Martin still has one year left on his rookie deal. Martin’s fantasy stock and long term value has once again taken a significant hit and he can no longer be valued as even a top 15 running back. We should learn a lot more this week on his playing time and outlook for 2014.