Let’s face it, there’s an enormous amount of information out there on Sunday mornings. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you on the premium content. Again, there are 100 places you can go for that, so no reason to repeat ourselves or others.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. One player will be picked from each team who has dynasty value tied to the game – players at a pivot point where their value could increase or decrease based on opportunity and performance.
New England at Cleveland
Quarterbacks, as I’ve mentioned in previous editions, have a tendency to jump off of a production cliff rather than having a nice slow decline. Since we haven’t seen Tom Brady play yet this year, I simply want to see if he’s still got the mojo. If he does, great, he deserves his value to hold steady. If he looks shaky against a soft Browns defense, Brady’s value could be in for a slide.
Don’t look now, but Isaiah Crowell is turning in legit production on limited touches in 2016 under Hue Jackson. The Patriots just got embarrassed at home by the Bills, and Brady may have some rust to knock off. If the Browns are going to have a chance of winning this game, Crowell will need to produce early to keep the defense honest and be able to put the game on ice with late runs. New England is beatable this year, even by the 0-4 Browns. If the Browns pull it off or even come close, I suspect Crowell will be at the heart of it and need his value increased for dynasty.
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New York (Jets) at Pittsburgh
Last week, Brandon Marshall must have read my article as he produced like the elite wide receiver we drafted him to be. This week, the Jets will likely be in catch up mode and the Steelers have proven they can shut down a team’s WR1 by doing just that with AJ Green. For those reasons, I like Quincy Enunwa as a man to jump in value while Eric Decker is on the shelf. Enunwa has already seen several value bumps this year, but he has plenty of room to grow.
A deep ball specialist to date, Sammie Coates is the buzz of many DFS aficionados against a Jets secondary that has been burned all year on deep passes. Ben Roethlisberger throws a superb deep ball and is adept at recognizing opportunities to do so. If Coates can get over the top of the defense, Ben will pull the trigger. What we need to see is a few plays like this where Coates catches the ball. He has the physical profile to grow within the Steelers offense, and his value could grow with an increased role.
Houston at Minnesota
I’ll go ahead and preemptively duck before you read on. OK, defensive position assumed. DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t have the early look of being the Texans number one option. Will Fuller has more targets, yards, and fantasy points than Hopkins. Hopkins tied with Jaelen Strong for week four targets. Ryan Griffin saw more targets than Hopkins in week three. It doesn’t look likely to get better for Nuk as the Vikings have been shutting down opposing WR1’s. To be honest, if Hopkins goes off against the Vikings, I’m not sure that is even good for his value as it may mean the Vikings chose to defend him as the Texans WR2.
The Texans heralded defense isn’t as good against running backs as you may think, and Jerick McKinnon is in line to benefit from this. The Texans offense also hasn’t been consistent in being able to move the ball in every game, so the Vikings strong defense sets up a nice game script for McKinnon who is seeing 70 percent of his teams rushes over the last two weeks without Adrian Peterson in the picture. If McKinnon can make a splash here after a good week against a stout Giants run defense, he will be moving up on value.
Washington at Baltimore
We all know that DeSean Jackson is a premier deep threat in the NFL and due to that, his fantasy production is boom or bust week to week. Part of accurately assigning player value is knowing when a player should have a boom week and watching to see if they meet that expectation. This is a week like that for Jackson, as everything about this matchup screams a production explosion. If he doesn’t meet that expectation, we may need to temper expectations going forward.
The narrative says that Kenneth Dixon will be the lead back for the Ravens before too long, but that he will be eased back into action. In the meantime, Terrance West should continue to be the man. The thing with West is that he just had an excellent game and he may not give the touches over to Dixon so easily. Watch two things with Dixon in week five to try to gauge his value in the immediate future: his running back snap percentage, and the percent of his snaps that he receives touches on. If his snap count is low but his touch percent is high, it demonstrates the coaching staff legitimately wants him to be involved. If both are low, they just want him to be on the field.
Philadelphia at Detroit
I can’t help myself, I have to give two names for the Eagles. Detroit is absolutely awful against tight ends, and with Zach Ertz returning from injury it should be a nice bounce back game for him to prove his value. If he doesn’t meet expectation, he probably has his value insulated by the fact that he is returning from an injury. His value can only really go up here. Bonus: Dorial Green-Beckham has been showing increased chemistry with Carson Wentz and the team appears dedicated to get him more involved in the game plan. Coming off of a bye week, I have a hunch the Eagles commit and feed DGB.
The Eagles have been a tough defense so far in 2016. Throughout his career, Matthew Stafford has a history of being an up and down player that takes too many chances with the ball, and 2016 doesn’t appear to be any different for him. He becomes much more difficult to just throw in as a weekly starter if he can’t overcome some bad matchups to the tune of solid fantasy production. I want to see him put up serviceable numbers in this matchup or move down my rankings slightly.
Tennessee at Miami
Do you know has cooled off lately and is getting no buzz? Tajae Sharpe. I’m not entirely sure why, as he’s seen 90 percent of the team’s snaps year to date and leads the team in targets by a healthy margin. While he isn’t turning it into stellar fantasy production week in and week out, he is still a rookie and Marcus Mariota is struggling. Miami has given up some big weeks to opposing WR1’s and Sharpe could be in store for a big bounce back.
What do we make of Devante Parker? His talent dictates he should be a valuable wide receiver, but his target counts through four weeks are zero, 13, six, three. Jarvis Landry may be the only Dolphins wide receiver with consistent enough usage to have tangible value at this point in time. Parker’s theoretical value should remain intact at this point in time, but production is what makes a fantasy commodity tick, and he needs more of that.
Chicago at Indianapolis
Brian Hoyer and Zach Miller have good things going for their value, but Jordan Howard is the potential breakout player here. After success in limited work, he gets to go on the road to show how he can perform in what could turn out to be a high scoring game. Neither team’s defense is adept at stopping opposing teams from scoring, and Howard was heavily involved in the Bears game plan last week. Look to see if he can produce on the road, and he may be your new starter in Chicago going forward.
The team around Andrew Luck just isn’t what it needs to be, and his performance is starting to show it with his lowest passer rating of his four-year career through four games. While a terrible Colts defense will keep Luck fantasy relevant by forcing him to throw a lot, he is also taking some chances with both throws and his body that you hate to see for a guy so skilled. I think it’s time to consider that he isn’t as valuable as he once was – in part due to his team’s shortcomings and in part due to cheap production at quarterback being readily available.
Atlanta at Denver
Holy Julio, Batman! The Panthers bottled up the Falcons run game in week four but allowed Julio Jones to destroy them. After a performance like that, I expect the Broncos to key on the passing game. With news that Tevin Coleman may be limited, Devonta Freeman stands to be the beneficiary. One of the prime indicators that value should move up or down is whether or not a player can produce when they are expected to be able to produce. With his involvement in all facets of the game, I expect Freeman to produce this week. If he doesn’t, down he goes despite a tough matchup on paper.
Could it be over already? I’m referring to the Trevor Siemian era, as despite his superb play the past few weeks rookie first round selection Paxton Lynch looks likely to make his first start after looking good in limited action in week four. I’m personally high on Lynch and am excited to see what he can do in this offense. The talent is there for him to become a tour de force and Wally Pip Siemian.
Buffalo at Los Angeles
With Sammy Watkins on injured reserve, it is next man up for the Bills as they need to develop a solid receiving game to take pressure off of LeSean McCoy, who continues to prove he can carry the load. Robert Woods looks like the man most likely to get a big value bump due to a change in usage. While that usage dictates his value has already increased, he will need to do something with that usage to keep his value trajectory moving upward.
In shades of early 2014, Brian Quick is miraculously a Thing once again in early 2016. He seems to be getting a volume increase at the expense of the underperforming Tavon Austin. It’s hard to say if there is something to see here or not. Quick has touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, but his reception total is very low. His value certainly has tons of room to grow, but we need to observe his play some more before we anoint him a breakout.
Cincinnati at Dallas
Dallas is low key a bad run defense. They mask it by not having a large volume of rushes against them, but have allowed above average yards per carry. I think Jeremy Hill is primed to put up a solid game while Dallas should be focusing on stopping AJ Green and the Bengals are without Tyler Eifert. If Hill gets usage early and often, and turns that into production, he will get a small bump.
On the other side of the ball, Ezekiel Elliot is leading the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie (through week four). His value was already enormous, but his efficiency is climbing as he gets fed touches and he looks more comfortable each week. At this point, he is the only running back deserving to be in the conversation with David Johnson about who the top NFL running back is. He isn’t topping Johnson yet, but if he continues to improve week in and week out, he may get there.
San Diego at Oakland
The value of Melvin Gordon has been contentious this season to say the least. His proponents point to his fantasy production while his detractors point to his low efficiency. I personally err on the side of caution – it’s hard to get a ton of yards per carry when you’re getting a ton of red zone touches. Ideally, red zone touches are precisely what we want out of a fantasy stud, so I don’t totally understand the argument against his efficiency. Anyway, check in to see if Gordon is continuing his fantasy scoring ways in what should be a relatively high scoring affair. I think he keeps moving up as long as he keeps producing.
Last week I said that Amari Cooper needed to produce like a WR1 or move down. Instead, we got an explosion from Michael Crabtree who is producing like Oakland’s real number one. For that reason, I am going with him as my pick this week. Cooper is already sliding down my value board, and Crabtree is proving he deserves to be moving up it. If he out produces Cooper again in week five, his ranking should move up everywhere.
New York (Giants) at Green Bay
Last week, I implored Odell Beckham, Jr. to show up in terms of fantasy production in a tough matchup against the Vikings. He failed to do so, and his value took a slight ding. This week, he goes up against the Packers defense that allowed huge weeks from Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones. I’m ready to acknowledge that, if he can’t produce in this matchup, something simply isn’t right. The panic button may need to be at the ready if OBJ gets shut down again.
We all know the narrative that the Giants are weak at defending the pass in the middle of the field. Randall Cobb, in theory, excels in this area of the field. So this should be a good place to see if Cobb can return to form or not. His value has been on a bit of a free fall of late and even some of his biggest supporters have begun to question whether they were right on him or not. Keep an eye on him during this game, because he could right the ship and turn his trend around.
Tampa Bay at Carolina
Perhaps suffering from a sophomore slump, Jameis Winston has been electric as a fantasy starter in two of his games, and has been a turnover machine in two of his games. The Panthers will likely be without Cam Newton and let go of one of their starting cornerbacks this week. While the defense is still stout, we need to see more consistency from Winston to justify his asking price right now. Watch for signs of maturation and better ball control in this game.
I typically don’t put much weight on the value swings that present themselves when a stopgap starter is in at quarterback; however, with Derek Anderson the presumed starter for this game, one man stands to benefit above the rest. As Scott Barrett points out in the tweet below, Greg Olsen is a big beneficiary of Anderson’s starts and is the de facto number one receiver for him. Given that this is Newton’s second concussion scare in 2016 alone, we may be seeing more of Anderson and, in turn, more of Olsen this year.