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We bring back the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest storylines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
- Thank the Lord for the Running Backs (New England Edition)
I get relaxation. It’s a time to groove. Now that Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has gone on IR, finding some other value in the Patriots backfield has been a popular mining expedition. However, ever since Dion Lewis got hurt, looking for that gold has mostly left owners with a bucket full of lead. Indeed, Blount was just the PPR RB52 since week 11. With that in mind, do you gamble on Blount’s likely early down replacement Brandon Bolden (actually the PPR RB39 since week 11 with his fluky week 12 four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos), who had 16 carries for 51 yards but no targets last week, or James White, who is the PPR RB9 since week 11 on the strength of 27 targets and two touchdowns in that span. The Patriots do have a good matchup on the ground against the Titans’ 17th ranked rushing defense that is giving up an average of 111.5 yards per game. I’d rather roll out White in PPR and would not feel great about either in non-PPR based on the uncertainty. That being said, Bolden will probably have three rushing touchdowns. For the Titans, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has started to assert himself lately, averaging six targets per game in his last four. It will be interesting if New England throws Malcolm Butler on DGB or gives him the Logan Ryan and safety help treatment they have been using on opposing team’s WR1s as of late. Either way, DGB is a dynasty player on the rise and indications are positive.
- Forever in Shoelaces
As long as I can have you here with me. The bevy of waiver wire running backs continued with Jaguars lead carrier TJ Yeldon likely to miss week 15 and possibly more time with an MCL sprain. Denard Robinson was available on the wire in about half of the leagues that I’m in and is a nice reward for those that were frugal with their FAAB dollars during the season (if you are in a league that, as they should, doles out free agents this way). Robinson played well last week, ripping off 75 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Against a Falcons’ rushing defense ranked right in the middle of the league (15th overall), Shoelace immediately slots in as a low-end RB1 based on volume in a Jaguars backfield that is greatly assisted by their success in the passing game. For the Falcons, coming off a rough game against the beastly Panthers defense, running back Devonta Freeman should have a much easier go of it this week against the Jaguars defense (ranked 13th in the NFL and giving up an average of 102.4 yard per game). I’d expect the Falcons to get back to basics after getting shut out last week and that means getting Freeman the ball in space, including on short passes. He’ll be back up at the top of the week 15 PPR RB ranks this week.
- Running Backs on the Rocks (Seattle Edition)
You left me alone here with nothing to hold. Owning Seattle runners this year has been both a long and short term rollercoaster this year. “Yay!, I have Marshawn Lynch, the most stable running back in fantasy” “Oh no, Lynch is hurt, but Thomas Rawls looks like a UDFA steal” “Whoops, Rawls is on IR, but they brought Bryce Brown back and he’s had success as a fantasy savior before!” “Seriously, Christine Michael again?!?” Where we are left for this all-important week 15 is with a three headed Brown-Michael-Fred Jackson monster. It looks like Brown is going to get the first crack and if you have to start one (say, for example, because Chip Kelly killed your DeMarco Murray shares), I’d take a gamble on Brown. But it truly is a gamble. Hopefully, if you make it to week 16, that will also mean that you gained a little more clarity on the situation as well. For the Browns, Johnny Manziel didn’t have to do much against a 49ers team that seemed to finally acknowledge that Blaine Gabbert is their quarterback and finished as a mid-QB2 for week 14. This week will be a much more interesting test of where Manziel is at. If he can find some success against a Seahawks team surging towards the playoffs, then we will have a better idea as to how to value him in dynasty moving forward.
- Sweet Charcandrick
[inlinead]Who’d have believed you’d come along. Over the last three weeks (including the game he missed), Chiefs running back Charcandrick West is just the PPR RB55 in average FPs per game with a paltry 5.9. Missing week 12 with a hamstring injury gave the Chiefs the ability to see what they had in Spencer Ware and cost West the lion’s share of the backfield. Now Ware is questionable for week 15 with a rib injury. West becomes part of the PPR RB1 conversation if Ware sits, but borderline unstartable if Ware is active. It’s a tough situation for playoff owners to be in, but at least the Chiefs have an early start time this week. Travis Kelce is still the overall PPR TE7, but is just the PPR TE17 in average FPs per game since week ten and has averaged just four targets per game the last two weeks. He’s a very risky start this week against a Ravens defense that generally defends the tight end well. For the Ravens, Buck Allen is still the overall RB1 since week 11 and even though he didn’t have a huge week 14, he’s still a high floor PPR RB1 based on volume.
- OBJ, You’ll Be the Overall WR1 Soon
Don’t let them make up your mind. Giants’ receiver Odell Beckham Jr. took over the PPR WR1 spot from Julio Jones last week while Jones was getting Josh Norman–ed on his way to a still respectable seven receptions for 88 yards on ten targets. This week, OBJ gets a matchup with Josh Norman and the Panthers defense. The Giants move Beckham around a lot and I expect him to get more looks out of the slot this week. I would not shy away (not that you were going to) from firing Beckham up as a WR1 this week. Despite Rashad Jennings looking good and getting 22 carries last week, the Giants will remain stubbornly committed to at least a three (and maybe a four) running back rotation. Jennings should remain on your bench. TE Will Tye now has double-digit PPR FPs in four straight games and is averaging a healthy six targets a game over the last five weeks. With Larry Donnell going on IR and not being that great at football, Tye is an interesting dynasty TE flyer at a thin position. For the Panthers, even with a less than 100% Greg Olsen, the Giants have trouble with TEs and, as I mentioned, it’s not like there’s a ton of great TE options out there. You have to start Olsen if he’s active as expected. Ted Ginn certainly made the most of his three targets last week, catching two for 120 yards and two TDs. Ginn has back-to-back games over 25 PPR FPs with a goose-egg the week before. He’s a classic high ceiling, low floor play.
- Crabby, Crabby
Ah, to be so exciting. Newly extended Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree is currently the overall PPR WR16 (three spots ahead of rookie receiver Amari Cooper). Throwing out last week’s game against the elite Broncos secondary, both have been WR2s for the entire season and quietly make up on the best receiving duos in the NFL, making Derek Carr a low end QB1. Crabtree, who was available on waivers in many leagues before the season, looks like a great candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. If you were lucky enough to grab him for free or for pennies before the season, give yourself a nice pat on the back. For the Packers, wide receiver Randall Cobb, mired as a low-end PPR WR2 for most of the season, saw 12 targets last week as head coach Mike McCarthy re-assumed play calling duties, and finally looked like a serious part of the offensive game plan for the first time in awhile. Although the lack of a TD left Cobb as the PPR WR21 for week 14 (right around his PPR WR20 average for the season), the useage left me optimistic and I feel much better about inserting Cobb into my week 15 lineups as a WR2 with upside. Since week 11, Eddie Lacy is the PPR RB12 and James Starks is the PPR RB14 and that includes the week 13 curfew game where Lacy saw little action. Both players are viable starts this week against the Raiders’ 12th ranked rushing defense that is giving up an average of 101.1 yards per game.