Sunday Morning Huddle: Week 15

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

Jacksonville at Houston

Another week goes by, and another week where Marqise Lee looks like the most productive receiver for the Jaguars, fantasy owners should continue to take notice.  Allen Robinson will continue to have his fans and likely be the most valuable receiver on the team, and that means that we have a window of opportunity in which to evaluate Lee and decide whether we want to invest in him or not.  At this point, he looks like a buy to me, and I don’t see that changing against Houston.

Another transcendent wide receiver from 2015, DeAndre Hopkins is continuing to tumble down the value boards this season due to a struggling quarterback.  Given Brock Osweiler’s contract situation, it is hard to imagine things improving in the near future for Nuk.  Still, he is a proven prospect inasmuch as he’s shown he can dominate at the NFL level in the past.  His value is down, but he’s still a hold.

Cleveland at Buffalo

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Last week’s game was one big nightmare for Cleveland fans and owners of the Browns wide receivers alike.  Robert Griffin III not only put up horrible stats, but he pulled down the production of everyone around him.  This could be his last legitimate shot in the NFL, and it is not going well.  Watch this game, if you dare to, to see if he continues this ugly slide or turns it around.  The entire Browns offense has its value hanging in the balance, since they will be prone to RGIII’s floor if he keeps the job.

As long as LeSean McCoy keeps rolling, I’ll keep writing him up.  No one else on the Bills offense is as valuable as McCoy is right now and he is trending in the right direction for a huge role again in 2017.  No one else on the roster, outside of perhaps Sammy Watkins, has as solid of a future projection with the team as McCoy.  Watch for him to lock down that future role this week emphatically.

Indianapolis at Minnesota

This season, TY Hilton has been a monster at wide receiver for the Colts while the team is getting nothing out of Phillip Dorsett and only 40 yards and a touchdown each week from Donte Moncrief, if he is even healthy.  Going up against Xavier Rhodes this week should be quite the test, especially with Andrew Luck injured and three starting offensive linemen out.  If he can keep his production streak going in this spot, he should probably be passing Nuk and ARob on your dynasty value sheet.

Finally healthy, Stefon Diggs will get to show the world what he can do against a Colts defense lacking in the talent department.  After exploding onto the scene both in 2015 and early in 2016, Diggs has cooled off somewhat due to injuries.  I expect a late season surge to begin here and end with Diggs seeing a significant value gain over the offseason as a result.

Tennessee at Kansas City

Destroying the NFL ahead of the week 13 bye, Marcus Mariota was humbled against the tough Broncos defense.  A common thread between many of my choices this week is that closing the season either strong or weak begins now.  Mariota will gain a substantial amount of value this offseason if he can bounce back after a poor outing last week, although the Chiefs defense is no pushover.

Starting the season with a bang and parlaying the effort into a workhorse role for most of the season, Spencer Ware hasn’t been as dominant lately.  While the assumption has been that once Ware took over as the lead back he would never let go, even if Jamaal Charles were to return, poor play to close out the season could leave his role open to a lot of question marks for 2017 and beyond.  What will he do against Tennessee?

Green Bay at Chicago

Now officially a running back and facing unusual usage, Ty Montgomery’s fantasy value may be moving down.  It seems unlikely that he’ll ever be given a feature role as a running back, and his days of being a wide receiver are likely behind him.  I have trouble envisioning him having a reliable role going forward that would allow dynasty owners to deploy him with confidence, despite his high upside on a per touch basis.  Having said all of that, this looks like a game where he could go bonkers since he’s the only healthy running back.

As mentioned previously, the Bears are giving Jordan Howard a good long look to see how well he handles lead back duties.  At the rate he is going, he should have first crack at the job in 2017; however, the Packers have a stout run defense that will be a good test of how well Howard can perform in the long run for the Bears.  I’d have to think that if he puts up good stats here, the job is his.

Philadelphia at Baltimore

While the Ravens tend to give up more points to wide receivers than any other position, the Eagles don’t have a ton of healthy talent at the position right now.  Enter Zach Ertz, coming off of a huge game where he looked like the Eagles top option.  While I don’t expect quite as big of a game from him this week, he is positioned nicely to be the team’s leading receiver once again, and a few weeks in a row like that can do big things for a tight end’s value heading into the offseason.

The Eagles are quietly giving up a boat load of points to running backs, and Kenneth Dixon is starting to look like the lead back for the Ravens.  The timing couldn’t be any better as it is playoff time and Dixon’s owners are loving to finally get a return from him.  After doing the majority of his damage in the passing game to date, it would be great to see him do well on the ground.  Watch to see how Dixon accumulates his points this week, as it will be telling of his future potential.

Detroit at New York (Giants)

While calling him healthy might be a stretch, Dwayne Washington is seemingly the only healthy running back left standing for the Lions.  The Giants present a strong front, but with fantasy values firmly in place for the rest of the Lions, Washington finds himself with opportunity knocking late in his rookie year.  If he can perform admirably, he could turn that into a continued role in 2017 as neither Theo Riddick nor Ameer Abdullah are well suited to grinding between the tackles.

Not overly productive with his touches recently, Paul Perkins has at least been getting a lot of touches for a rookie, sharing the backfield with Rashad Jennings.  If this trend continues, Perkins could be lining himself up for a bigger workload in 2017, although he will need to be more productive with his touches.  On the flip side, the Giants could always just draft a new running back early and make it a moot point.  Keep an eye on how he performs to gauge what you’re willing to invest.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Already one of the game’s most valuable running backs, Le’Veon Bell appeared to be from another planet in last week’s game.  Put simply, if he can continue dominating at the rate that he is right now, his injury risks and character risks will no longer be much of a factor and his value will be at an apex.  Against a division rival, does he keep rolling?

Beatable on the ground, Jeremy Hill is coming off of one of his best performances of the year.  Unfortunately, two of of his three big performances were against the Browns, and that isn’t saying much.  Does he have it in him to produce against the Steelers also?  He still needs to solidify his role going forward into 2017 to maintain value.

Late Games

San Francisco at Atlanta

Playing his way into a big role going forward, Carlos Hyde is beasting at the right time of year to trigger a big boost in dynasty value.  Players who explode in the final four to six weeks of the season always tend to see their value grow throughout the offseason, and Hyde could be significantly less valuable right now than he will be in August.  The Falcons give up tons of points to running backs, so check back to see if Hyde is still healthy after this one, as that’s the main thing that I could see hampering his value after this game.

In a year where many elite quarterbacks are struggling, Matt Ryan has been simply dominant for most of the year.  Against a 49ers defense that isn’t stopping anyone, I expect him to keep that rolling.  Turning a year like this in, heading into the offseason his value should grow as he will be seen as a safe player with a high ceiling.  Elite scoring quarterbacks always seem to get an ADP boost the following year, and Ryan should be no different.

New Orleans at Arizona

While an exceptional athlete, Brandin Cooks is taking a back seat in the Saints offense.  It’s been four weeks without a touchdown for Cooks and he hasn’t had a mega-game since week six.  He’s also only had two mega-games for the year, with the other coming in week one.  For a player of his explosiveness in an offense like this, we rightfully expect more frequent outings with offensive dominance for him.  His value is declining unless he can hit his ceiling again towards the end of 2016.

For the Cardinals, Carson Palmer is in a bit of a now or never spot for a 2016 explosion.  He has played decently but just isn’t putting up the kind of fantasy year he did in 2015.  Without a boom at the end of the year, his value should be depressed in 2017 with question marks surrounding whether he is beginning his inevitable decline.

New England at Denver

Denver is doing well against tight ends and New England loves to throw to tight ends.  This feels like a good test for Martellus Bennett to show up and solidify his value.  He is coming off of a strong performance, and he could develop a bit of a streak to end 2016, which would be a boon for his outlook in 2017 and beyond.  The question is how the Patriots will choose to attack the Broncos defense, as Bennett could be either featured or an afterthought.

Another tight end that I’ve written about several times, AJ Derby is trending in the right direction to close out 2016 with five receptions for 57 yards last week.  Derby led the Broncos tight ends in snaps played for the first time all year in week 14, and that is a trend we can expect to continue.  As his role grows, I also expect his target share to grow.  He could be shaping up to be a nice buy heading into 2017 as Denver has other positions to address that are more pressing in the offseason.

Oakland at San Diego

I once again look to Latavius Murray as the man on the Raiders with the most to gain or lose.  Operating essentially as a workhorse back at this point, he could cause the team to invest in him for the long term or franchise tag him since he is an impending free agent.  Even if the Raiders don’t lock him up, he is playing his way into a bigger contract and a valuable role in 2017 somewhere as long as he maintains this pace.

Last week, I discussed how Tyrell Williams may have worked his way into a significant role for the Chargers in 2017.  Then, he only caught two of five balls thrown his way with two more going for interceptions.  This could be a roller coaster ride for his owners, look to see if he can rebound against the Raiders.  No one else on the team seems poised to gain or lose as much value as Williams as a result of on-field contributions for the final few weeks.

Sunday Night

Tampa Bay at Dallas

A player I considered near the top of the second tier of quarterbacks entering 2016, Jameis Winston has tumbled a bit for me.  With Dallas showing cracks last week and Winston orchestrating a victory against the Seahawks on the road recently, things could be turning around in the second half this season.  If Jameis can show he can consistently lead his team to success against proven opponents, he should gain dynasty value.

Considered an elite wide receiver, Dez Bryant for the most part isn’t showing that on the field.  In just the Cowboys second loss of the season last week, Dez managed to only pull in one reception on nine targets for 10 yards.  That won’t cut it among the league’s elite, and his value should be tumbling right about now.  Can he right the ship against a team the Cowboys should beat?

Monday Night

Carolina at Washington

While Cam Newton has been struggling, Kelvin Benjamin doesn’t even appear to be trying anymore.  Benched for lack of effort last week, will he return to what he once was?  Is Cam the problem?  Is it Kelvin?  Does it matter?  All great questions that I don’t presume to know the answer to.  I will say that if Benjamin doesn’t turn it around, the Panthers will be looking elsewhere for a number one target in 2017, and that only means bad things for Benjamin’s value.

The way things are playing out this year is a perfect storm for Jamison Crowder’s dynasty value.  DeSean Jackson has played well enough to likely be lured away to another team in the offseason, and Josh Doctson hasn’t been healthy enough to really even play.  In the meantime, Crowder has stepped up in a big way and figures to have a significant role in 2017 and beyond.  Just watch to see if he can keep that momentum going in this game.


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