Welcome to the week eleven edition of the 3M report where we spin you around the league sharing insights from the week that was.
Quite honestly, the biggest news from the weekend arguably had nothing to do with the games on Sunday, but instead news from Saturday. In what appears to be a relatively stacked first round of fantasy talent for 2015, Todd Gurley had many drooling at the prospect of drafting him first overall. As it turns out, Gurley’s left knee injury is of the ACL variety. Watching the game live myself, it was a typical non-contact plant that resulted in the knee to give way and while he walked off the field with only a small limp, the end result seemed ordained. It reminded me a bit of Edgerrin James’ ACL injury in which he seemed no worse for wear after rising off the turf, only to hear the dreaded three letters in the following days. James was never the same following. Given that Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon has been on fire of late, rushing for a record-setting 408 yards on Saturday, things are now far more interesting as we head into the off-season. Whose record did Gordon break? Yep, LaDanian Tomlinson’s. Tough break for Gurley, though. You just hate to see that.
I’m a firm believer in factoring a would-be player’s character into his fantasy prospects. I don’t ultimately condemn them for off-the-field or behavioral issues, but I most certainly take it all into consideration. If you’ve read any of my past rookie articles, you know I don’t get really concerned until after the age 25. I mention this because I’ve been considering Dez Bryant of late. As a rookie, I had serious concerns about his mental and behavioral make-up. His talent was immense but his character questionable. As a 2015 free agent, things may get interesting. Word is the Cowboys are still significantly concerned about Bryant’s off-field behavior and has numerous team attached restrictions in place. I have to believe that none of this will ultimately affect a deal getting done, but it’s another piece of evidence emerging rookies with baggage usually take that baggage with them into the NFL.
If your Internet connection seems slow over the past week, it’s likely because of the bandwidth being consumed by teams in the AFC as they stream the week 11 Broncos vs. Rams game. In case you were under a rock, Peyton Manning looked more like brother Eli on his way to a 22-7 loss in St. Louis. Manning was sacked twice and hit four times while throwing two interceptions on the day. Montee Ball re-aggravated his groin injury and may now miss extended time, if not the remainder of the year. C.J. Anderson had a productive game, reeling in eight receptions, one less than his nine carries on the day. Emanuel Sanders was blown up on an incomplete pass and is now in the mandated concussion protocol. Julius Thomas left with what could be a serious ankle injury, MRI coming on Monday. Odds are he won’t be playing in week twelve. And Hey! Kenny Britt owners, you have to be excited with his 128 yard, one touchdown, performance on seven targets. Owners know he’s a huge tease and as soon as you start him, he’ll break your heart.
Seahawk fans, you (we) may be in trouble. They don’t look the same away from home and won’t remind anyone of the 2013 Hawks at home, either. The loss of Golden Tate and Percy Harvin is just too much lost dynamic ability for the team to overcome. Wilson could only muster 178 yards on the day and while Doug Baldwin is doing his best Percy impression, he doesn’t bring with him the same impact on the defense. Russell Wilson is human and they badly need a big receiver. Marshawn Lynch has only a few games left as a Seahawk as well, so change is on the horizon.
When I released my early 2014 rookie rankings, I took a lot of heat for having Kelvin Benjamin at third overall, behind only Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. As it turns out, that is exactly where he would likely be drafted in rookie drafts now. That said, I did drop him down my rankings as the weeks went on, due to primarily to his size. He has a huge frame and while that can be advantage for positioning at the top of routes, it can also impact speed, leaping ability and route-running. He’s far from dynamic running his routes but, as it turns out, his big frame is a nightmare for opposing defensive backs and he has fine leaping skills – a tough combination. 2014 looks like the year of the rookie receiver and this will be something to consider as we head into 2015, especially considering how NFL running backs are being used.
And I’ll say it again, Devonta Freeman isn’t an every-down runner in today’s NFL, regardless of how he was being drafted in fantasy. I don’t own him in a single league.
Can you start Andy Dalton in the fantasy playoffs? I don’t see how. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde. But welcome back A.J. Green. Many are beginning to fall out of love with Mohamed Sanu after another poor game and I’ll offer this: I fully believe Marvin Jones is nearly as talented as A.J. Green, if he can stay healthy. A bold statement? Yes, but I’ve watched a lot of Jones and I think he can be great. He ran NFL routes in for Cal, is extremely smart and has a great work ethic. I’m still buying everywhere I can and a lost 2014 is a perfect buy-low catalyst.
Marques Colston is looking old. He’s uncharacteristically dropping passes and looks disengaged. Figuring out what to expect from him down the stretch will be difficult. You almost have to allow him to burn you on the bench one week before starting him again.
Chris Borland. Know who that is? IDP leaguers do. Borland, who has taken over in the middle for Patrick Willis in San Francisco is on pace for a ridiculous season. In three weeks, he has accumulated 48 tackles and is always around the ball. He also had two interceptions against the Giants on Sunday. You can be sure that Borland will be on the field in 2015 when Willis returns, but most likely on the outside.
What will the Giants do with Eli Manning in the off-season? It sure seems there is going to be a housecleaning in New York and it could even start with Head Coach Tom Coughlin. Manning threw five interceptions against the 49ers, proving once again that nobody looks quite as bad as Eli during a bad game. He just wears a bad day like none other. The good news for fantasy ballers is the combination of Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. racked up 28 targets, although they could only convert on 13 of them – less than 50%.
I had multiple questions this week regarding the possibility of sitting Brandon Marshall. The answer was, and is, “No.” Don’t get cute with your lineup, especially late in the year. Let your studs do their jobs. For the record, Marshall reeled in seven receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
Oh, Raider nation. I’ll give the Raiders credit for hanging in there against the Chargers, losing by only a touchdown. But in the end, it’s 0-10 for Oakland, making for an apt label of black hole. There are just too many holes on this team. They need upgrades at running back, receiver, offensive line and in the coaching ranks. It does appear tight end Mychal Rivera may be a keeper and Derek Carr, for his part, hasn’t looked inept.
Hand out the award for Coach of the year right now. Cardinals’ skipper Bruce Arians is a wizard. There may be no better schemer in the NFL, Belichick included. He does a phenomenal job of taking what’s offered and exploiting weakness. Where will Larry Fitzgerald be playing in ’15? New England anyone? Denver? Seattle? I think we’ve seen Calvin Johnson’s best days as well, queue the curtain. Don’t get me wrong. He’s got a lot of football left in him if he so chooses, but I always have in the back of my mind the fact that he, himself before turning pro, talked about having a protracted NFL career as he had other aspirations. I wonder. Having just updated my rankings, Megatron has fallen to third within the position and I expect that slide to continue. And for the first time ever, Dez Bryant is my top receiver. If Josh Gordon can keep his nose clean, there may be another change by this time next year.
I hope your week eleven was productive and with the playoffs approaching, you’re in the hunt.
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You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff