Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 9

Key injuries are cause for concern for fantasy owners. (seattlepi.com)
FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

The past couple of weeks we have covered the rash of injuries to hit some of the NFL's key players. In fantasy leagues losing a Julio Jones for the year is devastating, but for better or worse you have to move on. You cut Jones, add one of the fine alternatives as suggested by your humble narrator, and you keep on trucking.

But now, as these injuries pile up, we have to focus on the collateral damage. The players affected indirectly by these notable injuries, and really put on the - I don't want to say panic hat, but let's say - worry hoodie. 


For every key injury, a team gets weaker. Players do have the ability to rise above these kinds of things, but here are some elite fantasy options that have had their legs cut out from under them so far. Let's take a look at a couple of them and see if we should stick it out or look for better options.

THE QUARTERBACKS
Russell Wilson, SEA 
Key Injuries: Russell Okung - OT, Breno Giacomini - OT

If you're the Rams you have to feel a little slighted about your 14-9 loss last night on Monday Night Football. You were within a goal line stand of defeating one of the best teams in football on a night where hardly anyone in St. Louis cared about football, and all you hear is how bad the Seahawks looked. Well, there's a reason for that. Both starting offensive tackles are injured and without them, not only is the pass protection poor, but this also greatly limits Seattle's run game and play action attack. 

It's a bad scene, but the good news is that it will get better for the Seahawks. Pete Carroll is hopeful Okung can make it back this year, and Giacomini has a much more positive outlook. With an easy schedule over the next couple of weeks, and the imminent return of Percy Harvin don't lose faith in Wilson.
DECISION: HOLD

Matt Ryan, ATL
Key Injuries: Roddy White - WR, Julio Jones - WR, Stephen Jackson - RB

At the beginning of the year if you had to talk about what the Falcons' keys to success were this year, it probably had a lot to do with all of those guys I just named. Jones is the only one lost for the year, but White hasn't been the same as he's battled an ankle injury all year before finally missing some games which allowed teams to double team Tony Gonzalez and leave Ryan with few options. 

Jackson hasn't been healthy either and he hasn't shown much punch when he has been in there, so with Jaquizz Rodgers an effective weapon in his absence there could be less of Jackson on the field.

Sure Ryan has had adequate fill-ins at WR like Harry Douglas and someone I'll mention in a few, but can he really keep this going? He had a stinker of a game last week, and while the pass attempts will be up there, high volume throwing has never been Ryan's calling card. 
DECISION: SELL

Tom Brady, NE
Key Injuries: Danny Amendola - WR, Shane Vereen - RB, Sebastian Vollmer - OT, Rob Gronkowski - TE, Vince Wilfork - DT, Jerod Mayo - LB, Aquib Talib - CB

That's a lot of names. Sure, Sebastian Vollmer and Jerod Mayo doesn't jump off the page, but for every massive injury on offense the Pats have sustained, there's been a huge loss at every level of the defense over the past couple of weeks. A poor defense puts a lot of pressure on an offense, and with key injuries on that front the Pats can't operate like they would like.

It's easy to pass a lot of the blame on injuries, but Brady has not been good this year. You have to scroll pretty far down to find him on Football Outsider's DVOA ranks, and if you just watch him he's not as sharp as he used to be; especially down field. Having Amendola healthy (for however many quarters that lasts) and Gronk gaining steam can only help, but there are legit concerns for this team. If anyone can make a big turnaround in the second half, it's Brady, but you can't be certain.
DECISION: SELL


THE RUNNING BACKS
LeSean McCoy, PHI
Key Injury: Michael Vick - QB

Believe it or not, there was a QB controversy in Philadelphia. Vick or Foles was the question and it's looking more and more likely that neither is the answer. After Foles' epic choke job against the Cowboys, Vick re-injured his sensitive hamstring leaving mortified Philly fans to watch Matt Barkley play 4+ quarters of NFL football. Foles might possibly be back this week at Oakland, but Barkley is taking first team reps today.

It's pretty clear that McCoy is a more effective runner with Vick than Foles (there is an article somewhere on Philly.com I read that broke it down ... if I had a research team I'm sure I'd link to it), and with Matt Barkley, well, McCoy might not want to make the trip West. 

These past two weeks aren't the best to review the Eagles as they've been horrible, but there are several positives for McCoy moving forward. He is the undisputed back on a once mighty offense. He will get his opportunities, and the schedule is a favorable one for him. There is upside to jump on here, so I'd only move McCoy for another Top 10 back.
DECISION: HOLD, UNLESS YOU GET A TOP BACK IN RETURN

Matt Forte, CHI
Key Injury: Jay Cutler - QB

I'm electing to Trust in Trestman. Josh McCown looked good when he stepped in for Cutler against Washington, and the schedule in the coming weeks isn't too bad. I think there will be a lot of focus on getting Forte the ball, and McCown can make that happen.
DECISION: HOLD

THE WIDE RECEIVERS
Josh Gordon, CLE
Key Injury: Brian Hoyer - QB
Key Decision: Jason Campbell starting over Brandon Weeden

People love throwing Josh Gordon the football. He has at least 6 targets in the last 4 weeks, and when he gets the ball, he makes big plays. I'm sure most of Cleveland and all of Gordon's fantasy owners are hoping that Campbell stays at QB, but you never know what Cleveland is going to do. The caveat here is that there have been rumors since the beginning of the season that Gordon could be traded. That is looking more and more unlikely, but a move to a contender could boost his value even higher. 
DECISION: HOLD

Vincent Jackson, TB
Key Injuries: Doug Martin - RB, Carl Nicks, OG, Greg Schiano - HC

I think it's pretty clear that the Buccs hate Greg Schiano. The disciplinarian model doesn't mean failure in the NFL, but you have to have a personality to back it up. I wonder if Schiano's time at Rutgers, a decent football school but not elite, didn't give him the skills to manage high level talent? 

Some injuries took their toll on this team, and cutting their starting quarterback a couple of weeks into the season isn't great either. Oh, and there was also an infectious disease outbreak in the locker room. So this is either a bad football team or a bad football team that is being cursed by God or something. The good news for V-Jax is that none of this bothers him. He makes big plays and gets the football. Even with Mike Glennon hurling footballs around, Jackson should demand and get several deep balls per game. His production will be sporadic, but he has plenty of big games in him.
DECISION: HOLD

Just another victim.

Emmanuel Sanders, PIT - WR (50%) +New England Patriots 

Slowly ... extremely slowly, the Steelers look to be figuring something out. Not exactly dominating, but at least not being embarrassing. Sanders deserves a bench spot.

Daniel Thomas, MIA - RB (16%) v. Cincinnati

Lamar Miller is owned in 84% of leagues. Thomas should be owned in just as much. There can be arguments that Miller isn't getting a fair shake at the majority of carries or he has and just hasn't delivered, but Joe Philbin is trotting both of them out there. I mean Miller is averaging 4.5 YPC compared to Thomas' 3.5, so I'm sure it's not just a numbers thing, but oh well.

Montee Ball, DEN - RB (38%) BYE

Knowshon Moreno owners don't want you to know this, but this is what we've feared all season long. At some point, for some reason, the Broncos are going to decide they need to ease up on the oft-injured Moreno and start getting Montee Ball the football. Ball's touches last week against Washington were many but produced little. He did get some goal line looks, and Moreno has already lost one TD to a stupid reason. So who knows what's in store. It'd be shocking if the Broncos turned the pass catching and pass blocking part of Moreno's game over to Ball - especially with Peyton Manning dinged up, but crazier things have happened.

Peyton Hillis, NYG - RB (40%) BYE

Has a football player gone from more likable to less likable so quickly than Hillis? One year he's bowling over defenders and winning Madden Cover votes, the next he's sitting out games for no reason, demanding more money and ruining his career. Well after a shot in Tampa Bay, he's on the Giants and showing a little spring in his step. 70 yards against the Eagles is nothing to do double back-flips about, but it's something. He would most assuredly be the goal line back until Andre Brown returns.

Dexter McCluster, KC - RB/WR (5%) +Buffalo Bills 

We've all been waiting for it. Begging for it. The day when McCluster becomes scat-back extraordinaire. Ultimately, that time may never come, but Andy Reid has found some use for McCluster. In the Chiefs conservative offense, McCluster has worked well as a receiver for Alex Smith. Captain Check-down has turned his nose up at Dwayne Bowe and made McCluster an apple in his orchard. If I would have told you McCluster and Bowe would have similar value going into Week 9 you probably would have told me to jump in a slow cooker and die, but that's where we are.

PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Lance Moore, NO - WR (28%) +New York Jets 

Marques Colston has done something to offend Drew Brees. He's not getting any looks. Even with Jimmy Graham semi-injured and Darren Sproles doing zilch, Colston still only managed 3 receptions for 18 yards last week. Lance Moore re-introduced himself with a touchdown catch, but I'd rather have Kenny Stills than Moore.

THE 1%

Drew Davis, ATL - WR (1%) +Carolina Panthers 

Who needs Julio Jones and Roddy White? The Falcons have Harry Douglas and Drew Davis! Davis is getting as many snaps as Douglas and if Douglas is in Jones' role, than Davis is in White's. Of course Roddy should be back at some point this year, making Douglas the better long-term add, but Davis has some short-term value.

Joel Dreessen, DEN - TE (1%)

Bonus 1%! Broncos have a much needed bye this week, but it's worth noting that Julius Thomas has a knock on his ankle, and he should be fine coming out of the bye, but any time you can potentially add a piece of the Denver offense, you must take note.

PERSONS OF INTEREST 

Noteworth players that have previously been mentioned on FAABulous that are still un-owned in 50% of leagues.

Marvin Jones, CIN - WR (22%), Terrelle Pryor, OAK - QB (36%), Tim Wright, WR/TE - TB (5%), Mike Tolbert, CAR - RB (21%), Kenny Stills, NO - WR (9%), Aaron Dobson, WR - NE (23%)

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