Sunday Morning Huddle: Week Eight

Trevor Bucher

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.

Early Games

New York (Jets) at Cleveland

I hate to go with a quarterback that might not be the starter in a few weeks, but I’m also pretty sure that’s the definition of a player whose dynasty value is at a pivot point.  Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick lucked his way back into a starting role after Geno Smith went down with an injury.  One would have to imagine that Fitzmagic 2.0 has a short leash and that struggles could quickly turn into opportunities for Bryce Petty and perhaps Christian Hackenberg.  Time will tell, but Fitzpatrick needs to tap into his well of magical powers and produce consistently to keep his value afloat.

In recent weeks, the Jets defense has been gouged by some great running backs, but it has been stout against more pedestrian talents.  Due to this, I think we have an unique opportunity to use the Jets rushing defense as a litmus test for how good a running back is in 2016.  David Johnson passed the test, Terrance West failed it, but what will Isaiah Crowell do against them?  If he can perform well in this spot, it may be time to rethink his talent level.  Of course, the opposite is true.  If he doesn’t put up, we need to consider that he could be just a guy and easily replaceable in 2017.

New England at Buffalo

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So far this year, James White has been lights out as the Patriots passing back – especially after the return of “Angry” Tom Brady.  Many claim White is not “good at football” and that his time is numbered.  Well, with Dion Lewis returning to practice his path to playing time is becoming more clear.  James White will need to continue to produce to prove his worth and keep Lewis from regaining the passing down work.  Frankly, White could be just another Patriots running back casualty in a few weeks or he could help lead teams to the fantasy promised land.

This week, Tyrod Taylor is in an especially rough spot.  The Bills appear likely to be without LeSean McCoy, presumed starting running back Mike Gillislee has a foot issue himself and wasn’t spectacular in limited time, and the Patriots defense has been relatively stout against the run.  All of this adds up to the Patriots defense having the luxury of game planning to limit Tyrod Taylor.  My thoughts are that if Taylor transcends the situation and produces meaningful fantasy points, it is good for his long term outlook.

Detroit at Houston

With Golden Tate re-establishing himself within the offense, I’m turning my eye towards the running game for the Lions.  While Theo Riddick is also due to return to his usual role, this matchup might be juiciest for Dwayne Washington to exploit.  The Houston defense is significantly better against PPR type backs than it is against rushing running backs.  Based on that and coupled with Riddick’s lack of chops for running it up the gut, I could see Washington proving he deserves the ground work and carving out a larger role going forward.

It feels like a pivotal week for a lot of quarterbacks this week, which is weird considering the number of teams on bye.  Alas, that is what we have, though, as Brock Osweiler has been looking fairly not “good at football” lately.  The backup, Tom Savage, may not be all that good either.  The thing with Savage is that he hasn’t seen enough game action to ascertain whether he is good or not, whereas Osweiler has played enough for it to be apparent that he is not.  The Texans could decide to take a look at Savage if Osweiler can’t pick up his play against a shaky Lions defense.

grahamSeattle at New Orleans

This is a game to get excited about.  In fact, I’m bummed out it isn’t a SNF or MNF game, because this is the kind of game we deserve to all see rather than the torrent of Chicago and Houston games we have been getting.  Anyway, Jimmy Graham looks like his old self and has a revenge narrative on the road playing against his old team, which is a team that isn’t very good at defending against tight ends.  The triple narrative is strong here, and Graham should exploit it to claw his way further up the tight end rankings.

On the other side of the ball, we are witnessing the creation of a monster in Michael Thomas.  His real value is lagging behind where it should be to date, and it still has room to grow.  He should avoid facing off with Richard Sherman too often and his future value is somewhat insulated against the loss of Drew Brees by the fact that his size and skill set should translate to the play style of potential future quarterbacks.

Arizona at Carolina

This year, with Michael Floyd’s failure to step up, John Brown is looking like the de facto WR2 for the Cardinals behind Larry Fitzgerald.  He has good rapport with Carson Palmer and the Panthers have been eminently burnable on the perimeter, a strength of Brown’s game.  Brown is already valued fairly highly and reasonably, but no other Cardinal really stands to gain or lose much value so he is my guy here.

With Cam Newton committing to his use on between the tackles rushes, his value should be safe as long as he avoids further injuries.  In the meantime, Kelvin Benjamin has been doing well lately, as he has his entire career, but he could be doing so much better.  His production to date for his career is known equally as well as his lack of efficiency.  At some point, you’d like to see him become efficient and just dominate.  With the Panthers struggling and against a beatable Cardinals squad, I want to see it.  Until then, Greg Olsen is the Panther I want.

Kansas City at Indianapolis

I’ve recently heard some rumblings that Spencer Ware is this year’s Devonta Freeman.  While the situations aren’t identical, the production from a lowly valued running back is pretty spot on.  Jamaal Charles simply might not be relevant in 2016.  Ware’s value is not yet reflective of his production and potential.  It could get a little redundant, but I am going to continue to pound the table for Ware.  His value is and has been going up each week, and that should continue in a tasty matchup against the Colts.

With Donte Moncrief expected to return this weekend, I actually look to TY Hilton’s value.  Hilton has been an absolute stud in Moncrief’s absence, and his value has increased as a result; however, situations are a-changing and Hilton will likely have a tougher time putting up video game numbers with a legitimate #2 option on the field.  We might be at a sell high opportunity for TY as his value could slide after a few weeks of potentially lower production with Moncrief actually doing things with his targets unlike the rest of the Colts wide receivers.

Oakland at Tampa Bay

A major theme for me with dynasty value is consistency.  A core player on your dynasty squad with a very high ADP should be someone that you can plug into your lineup and expect reasonably high returns on a weekly basis.  Right now, Amari Cooper’s actual value is not commensurate with his perceived value (ADP, ranking, etc.)  Until Cooper gets more consistency in his game his value needs to be depressed.  Michael Crabtree is playing too well for Cooper to have a high floor.

On the other side of the ball, we have another pair of players whose value is heavily impacted by consistency.  Last week I mentioned that Tampa Bay may have let the genie out of the bottle with Jacquizz Rodgers, and that they’d have a hard time bottling him up with how good he has been.  Well, when that kind of production comes consistently, the team might actually have lightning in a bottle.  Incumbent (but injured) starter Doug Martin has been productive but wildly inconsistent throughout his career.  While Rodgers may not be the most talented player here, his lack of volatility in the Buccaneers system could net him a larger than expected role going forward.  My main question is can he keep it going?

Late Games

San Diego at Denvergordon

I absolutely love it when we have a “rock, meet hard place” type of situation for dynasty valuations.  So far this year, Melvin Gordon has been somewhat inefficient but is putting up other-worldly touchdown totals.  The Broncos defense is incredibly stout.  Can Gordon keep the scoring going?  Is this where his touchdown run comes to an end?  What impact could that have on his future value?  Bonus:  Hunter Henry has a tasty matchup and could continue his ascent at the expense of Antonio Gates.

Literally everyone is on this one already, but Devontae Booker has an amazing opportunity in front of him with CJ Anderson hitting injured reserve.  A rookie running back with good do-it-all skills and high efficiency with his touches to date, all we really need to do is sit back and see how he can handle a featured role.  What he does in the remainder of this season should impact roles in 2017, so this will be important to watch.

Green Bay at Atlanta

There has been a narrative going on in analyst circles for some time now that Aaron Rodgers might not be playing as well as he used to.  They tend to base this on numbers and facts.  That is all well and good, but he is still putting up decent fantasy totals a lot of the time.  After a great week seven, he is in another good spot in what could be a shootout in Atlanta.  Consistency, folks.  A few great weeks of production in a row should silence the doubters.

While Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are formidable and in good matchups, I don’t feel that their value has much room to move this week.  On the other hand, Devonta Freeman should finally get the backfield to himself in what should be a high scoring game.  If he does well here, it could mean a higher percentage of touches once Tevin Coleman returns.  Even if it doesn’t, though, Freeman has been a solid fantasy contributor for two years now with varying levels of touch distribution.  His value can only really go up unless he gets hurt.

Sunday Night

Philadelphia at Dallas

Finally!  A nationally televised game that I look forward to.  I continue my assault on your sanity with more quarterback selections.  Carson Wentz looks like the future at quarterback but distributes the ball fairly evenly among his options, and the running game looks like a revolving door for the Eagles.  What we can figure out from this game, though, is how he can perform after two poor fantasy performances in a row.  Add in the narrative that this game is for the top of the division and nationally televised, and this is where you want your young quarterback to step back up to the plate and put it together.  Can he?

For the Cowboys, Dak Prescott is still the man with the most to gain.  His worst week was week one in his first career start, and he is coming off of a bye.  There is no bouncing back to do here, but expectations are high since this is four things: nationally televised, a division game for the top of the division, his first post-bye week game, and a home game.  The expectation of a good quarterback here is to produce and win.  Doing so will boost his value and give him a much better shot of simply supplanting Tony Romo.

Monday Night

Minnesota at Chicago

The Vikings players are mostly valued fairly steadfastly.  One clear exception I see is Kyle Rudolph, who probably still isn’t getting the love he deserves for his connection with Sam Bradford this season and his sudden ability to stay healthy.  With Cordarrelle Patterson banged up and Stefon Diggs not living up to his early season production, Rudolph could be in line for increased work this week and we’ve already seen what he can turn his targets into this year.  His value has room to grow, and I expect it should.

What a season this has been for Bears running backs.  First Jeremy Langford was the man, then he was on his way down before actually going down with an injury, then Jordan Howard exploded onto the scene as a feature back but has recently been upended by Ka’Deem Carey.  Who knows what to make of all of this?  I sure don’t, but right now Carey is the guy moving up and you’ll want to see if he can turn in a good performance against a stout Vikings defense.


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