Hogs & Dogs: Week 5
What an absolutely putrid year of fantasy football it has been. Through four weeks, I think almost every Sunday has resulted in some type of swearing and yelling at the TV. Just last week, John Kuhn pilfered not one, not two, but three touchdowns from actual fantasy weapons for the Saints. Coby Fleener was targeted on Kuhn’s second touchdown but Kuhn was five yards in front of him and leaped up and ripped it out of the air, only to turn around and be stuffed at the goal line. That didn’t stop the Saints who proceeded to give him the goal line carry on the next play anyway. Drew Brees and Mark Ingram each finished the day with a touchdown. Brandin Cooks, Coby Fleener, and Willie Snead all finished with zero. This has become a common theme across leagues over the past few years. If you haven’t already, make sure to give our podcast a listen this week as we heavily vent about this subject. No matter how good a matchup, player, coach, situation, or home field advantage might be, fantasy football is at least 75% luck. You can do all the research and film study in the world, but you could still be SOL come Sunday. That’s what can make this game so fun (and not so fun) to play; but you already knew that. Maybe I’m salty due a rough start in a few leagues, but that’s the nature of the beast. Looking back on last week, we made out pretty well in terms of the Hogs and Dogs predictions. We hit on Terrelle Pryor, Kelvin Benjamin, Latavius Murray, Quincy Enunwa, and Delanie Walker while missing on T.J. Yeldon, Michael Floyd, and LeGarrette Blount. On to week 5, where the bye weeks pick up some steam as Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Seattle all take a little pit stop. Fortunately for you, the Gurus don’t take any pit stops; which brings us to our week 5 installment of Hogs and Dogs.
Russell Wilson – Talk about making something out of nothing. Wilson has helped turn a grab bag of potential second teamers into a 3-1 team averaging 32 points in their last two games. Christine Michael finally has his head on straight and seems to be finding a few holes in the running game, opening things up a bit for Wilson. Jimmy Graham has strung together back to back good games and looks to be solidifying himself as another safety blanket for Wilson next to Doug Baldwin. I know they’re on a bye this week, but that allows Wilson time to heal his injured knee and ankle, which have limited him a bit mobility wise. He has still been able to avoid most of the big hits and just picked apart a good Jets’ secondary after flying to the east coast for the game (no easy feat). Look for Wilson to continue dominating after the bye as Seattle gets Atlanta (potential shootout), Arizona (lots of problems), and New Orleans (no defense).
Michael Crabtree – Crabtree has worked his way onto the Hogs list for the second time already this year, after balling out yet again on Sunday. Crab has been a favorite of mine since he came out of Texas Tech, being a precise route runner with great body control and some magical toe-tapping sideline footwork. Crabtree has remained an elite route runner now in his eighth season in the NFL and has become a focal point of the Raiders’ offense. He has also appears to be Derek Carr’s favorite red zone target. He’s scored 9+ points in every game this season and has solidified himself as an every week WR2, which is something we fantasy players drool over.
Steve Smith – Mr. and Mrs. Smith has been on the up since the season started, as his points have increased from 1.9 to 6.4 to 8.7 to 19.1 over the first four weeks. He has seen eleven targets over each of the past two games and is over 85 receiving yards in the same time frame. Mike Wallace was initially the favorite target for Flacco because Smith was still adjusting to game speed and getting his feet underneath him after his achilles injury last year. What is supposed to be an agility and quickness sapper seems to have not fazed Smith. He has reasserted himself as Flacco’s favorite target and as long as he can stay healthy, should put up similar numbers to what he’s done over the past few years with the Ravens.
Alshon Jeffery – A late addition to the list, Jeffery has found himself in a pretty poor situation this year. But, it appears Jeffery has finally stumbled upon a bit of luck as Kevin White is again out for the season after rolling his ankle and subsequently breaking his fibula. Jeffery has been the subject of some missing person’s reports as he has only been targeted 25 times through the first four weeks, good for 6.25 per game. This is after he was drafted in the second or third round of most drafts. That’s not the type of return on investment we are looking for from our second or third rounder, especially after he has averaged 9.46 per game over his past three seasons. He also has yet to find the endzone yet. This injury to White, who hasn’t been able to do much with his 36 (!) targets this year should open things up for Jeffery, who we were all considering possibly benching this week. Let’s just hope his targets aren’t somehow dispersed amongst Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, because the Bears just want to screw over Alshon owners.
Buffalo – The return of Marcell Dareus only further bolsters this defense that just shut out New England, albeit without most of their top players. If you’re in the thought process of streaming defenses, Buffalo is a great play this week. The return of Dareus obviously helps, but they’re also going against a talent lacking L.A. Rams team besides Todd Gurley. If they can bottle him up and put pressure on Keenum, they could have a field day. They’ve put up 37 fantasy points over the past two weeks while only allowed 18 points scored. They’ve got fantastic matchups the next three weeks against Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami.
Terrance West – Be cautious boarding the hype train. I was all in on West when he was the backup a few years ago to one Isaiah Crowell. Since then he has bounced around on a few teams and mostly been a plodder. But in week four he had his redeeming chance and absolutely yabo-ed it for 113 yards and a touchdown and looked pretty good doing it. One of the biggest waiver wire adds this week, West looks to capitalize on his week four outburst. But all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately for West I think that happens in week five with the return of Ken Dixon. One of the top running backs in this year’s draft class, Dixon will see the field for the first time. I expect he and West to split carries until Dixon takes over the role for good. Sell high if you can on West, I think a timeshare or worse is in store for him from here on out.
Tevin Coleman – This is no knock on Coleman, who I actually really like as a player, but more on his current situation and whether or not you should be trotting him out there this weekend. I think Coleman will eventually take the reigns of the Atlanta backfield but right now he and the Falcons have a tall task ahead of them in Denver this weekend. Who knows how much he’ll actually play due to his sickle cell trait and the effects that high altitudes can have on that. Couple that with a potential defensive struggle and a shared backfield and you have a situation that I want to avoid this weekend. If this game were in Atlanta I’d have different feelings towards Coleman and Freeman. Coleman is certainly a buy low for me after he only put up 3.3 points last week, but I don’t think I can start him this weekend in Mile High.
DeAndre Hopkins – This could be another rough week for Hopkins’ owners, as he squares off with one of the NFL’s best defenses this year in the Vikings. Hopkins has been kept to six total fantasy points over the past two weeks while only garnering 14 total targets, much lower than he should be getting. He also has only surpassed 60 receiving yards once through four games. We all know that you should start your studs, but I wouldn’t blame you for benching Hopkins this week in favor of someone with a better matchup. We just saw what Xavier Rhodes and the Minnesota defense did to Odell Beckham. Hopkins is one of the best buy low options on the market right now.
Phillip Dorsett – The Colts offense is just not clicking the way we thought it would and the way it did in 2014. Some predicted this type of fall off, most did not. Maybe it’s Andrew Luck, or maybe it’s the turnstiles that Indianapolis has as their offensive line. Either way, it will be a few weeks before they can turn this around, or another head coach in Indy will be on the chopping block. All this being said the Colts have not looked good this year, and because of that most of their players have been fantasy irrelevant. Dorsett was supposed to assume some of the work that would be left once Donte Moncrief got hurt. That has not been the case. Dorsett is a roll of the dice this weekend against a Bears defense that just completely shut down the likes of Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones, and the Lions. Proceed with caution.
Gary Barnidge – Gary Barnyard Animals as a colleague of mine likes to call him, is certainly not in prime position to repeat his 2015 numbers. He’s currently on pace for 64 catches for 640 yards, which means he’ll have to go bananas in the next twelve games if he wants to even be near his 2015 mark of 79 catches for 1,043 yards and 9 touchdowns. I don’t see it in the cards for Gary, especially with the emergence of Terrelle Pryor and the somewhat unknown quarterback play from the Browns. It’s doubtful that Kessler can maintain being a game manager, especially if Cleveland’s run game can’t duplicate what they did last week. If Josh McCown can come back, get his job back, and be competent, then I’m all in on Barnidge, but until that happens, I think Gary Barnburner is going to have to ride the backburner.
And that does it. Another week of predictions, analysis, and opinions. Tell us how you feel and what your thoughts are on our starts, sits, buys, sells, etc. Until next week Guruers. Make sure to listen in to the latest episode of our Trophy Time podcast. Boom.