Hogs & Dogs: Week 4
Another bizarre year of fantasy football is among us. Week 2 it was running backs ravaged by injuries and week 3 highlighted some inefficiencies at the wide receiver position. Most notably, through three weeks each of the top receivers has had at least one dud of a game. One thing that has remained constant this year is the inconsistent play at the tight end spot. What most of us were expecting to be a deep position this year has turned into a hot pile of trash. Of the top five tight ends so far this year (G. Olsen, K. Rudolph, T. Kelce, J. Doyle, Z. Miller) only two were probably drafted in your league. Week 3 also saw some surprising stability to running backs across the league as we saw a lot of teams focusing on getting their backs involved early and often. Hopefully this trend continues because that is the foundation that fantasy football was built on. As I’ve covered in many articles before, running backs have been the backbone of fantasy football since its inception. Though injuries have marred the position a bit this year (and last), I still hold strong in my belief that at the end of the day, no matter what trends come and go running backs will remain the stronghold of fantasy football, though it’s certainly possible that I’m just being stubborn.
LeGarrette Blount – Leggy Blount has been a huge surprise this year. I had him initially pegged as a Dog in week 1 and that was certainly a swing and a miss. It’s also a huge surprise that defenses are keying in on him and forcing the Patriots to throw the ball. Not that I’m complaining being a Pats fan, but thing like this always boggle my mind. Blount has been running better than what we’re used to. Instead of bopping and bouncing around in the backfield searching for a hole to fill with a 1 yard gain, Blount has been much more decisive in his cuts and hitting the hole hard. He has seen 20 plus carries and has scored in each game, and that should only continue come Sunday. The Patriots have had ten days to prepare for the Bills, who they’ve notoriously run rampant on. Fire him up with confidence this week.
Lamar Miller – Miller has been an absolute workhorse since coming over from Miami, something he was never given a chance to be with the Dolphins. Among running backs, Miller ranks second in carries so far this year with 74. I’m okay with this 20-25 workload per game, but if starts to creep into the high 20s, low 30s every week, that could spell injury for Lamar. He has reached at least 80 yards rushing in each game so far and looks to be playing some of the best football of his career. The worry for me is the offensive line, which looked shoddy at best on Thursday against the Patriots. If teams are able to bracket and put safety help over the top on Nuk and/or Fuller, Miller needs to be able to produce for this team. I think as the team grows together and the year moves on, the Texans offense will become one of the most potent in the league, though they are not there just yet. With a ten day rest and playing at home against Tennessee, I envision a big game for Miller as the Texans look to get him back on track. The loss of J.J. Watt on defense bodes well for this offense as they should find themselves in more shootouts. Bold prediction for Miller this week: how’s three touchdowns sound?
Terrelle Pryor – I’m not entirely sold on his ability as a wide receiver, but he has certainly been improving since he came into the NFL with QB aspirations. The sticking point for me is that if you can slot him into your lineup as a WR3 and he ends up being that Swiss army knife for the Browns or even playing quarterback all game, then you’re getting fantastic production out of a wide receiver. We all know that quarterbacks score the most points in fantasy, so why not play one as a wide receiver?
Kelvin Benjamin – Another former Dog for me to start the season, Benjamin slapped me in the face in the first two weeks for even considering him in the Dog section of my article. Then last week happened, and he was targeted once and held to zero catches in a surprising loss to the Vikings. The Panthers OC already came out and said that he needs to get Benjamin more involved and last week’s game should be just a blip on the radar. He is one of Cam’s huge targets who has the ability to just block out an opposing cornerback because of his size. This game is indoors in Atlanta and with the Carolina defense looking like it may be a half step slower than last season, it should be a shootout. I’m thinking OC Mike Shula makes it a point to get the ball back in Benjamin’s hands as he pops off for 7 catches for 150 and a touchdown.
Dez Bryant – (Update: Dez has a hairline fracture in his knee and Jerry Jones is optimistic that he can play this weekend. Ultimately this comes down to how risk averse you are and if you’re willing to move a viable piece in order to get a possible WR1. Think it over before sending a trade offer for Dez and stay updated on his situation. I still think he is a buy low candidate, but now possibly even cheaper!) At this point everyone has been burned by Dez, including myself. But that isn’t keeping me away! I think Dez is one of the best buy low candidates you can find right now. The MRI on his knee was concerning for some, but we haven’t heard anything else about it from his camp and the fact they waited so long to even do it does not have me worried at all. Dez has disappointed some owners so far this year, but we obviously know what he is capable of. He is still getting acclimated with Dak Prescott which should only improve as the season moves on. If/when Tony Romo comes back and stays healthy (doubtful), I expect him and Dez to pick up where they left off in 2014. Fire Dez up this weekend as a WR1 and if you can buy low on him with a guy like Tevin Coleman, I’d do that in a heartbeat.
T.J. Yeldon – Man, oh man. The chances have been there for Yel-dog and he just doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. That entire offense is puttering along right now, but Yeldon had a golden ticket to the reins of Jacksonville’s ground game and he just simply couldn’t do anything with them. Chris Ivory came back last week and got twelve carries (though he didn’t do anything with them) to Yeldon’s six. It doesn’t help that their offensive line has been quite putrid, but Yeldon needed to do more with his opportunities those first two weeks. Since he didn’t, this backfield is shaping up to be a timeshare, which is exactly what we predicted before the season. I’m giving the edge to Ivory as he figures to get the majority of goal line carries.
Latavius Murray – This one is not on Latavius. He’s a big back that has shown he can be explosive and keep a defense on its heels. Understandably, the Raiders do not want to tire him out. Football wise this is smart, as it keeps Murray running fresh, especially towards the end of games. Unfortunately for us fantasy owners he will continue to lose touches to other running backs so that he can remain fresh. So while we would love to see him get 15-25 attempts per game, he’s currently sitting at 10.67, which is hard to be happy with Latavius as anything more than a flex player. The Raiders seem to be happy having him share series and touches with the likes of Jalen Richard, Jamize Olawale, and DeAndre Washington; none of whom have much fantasy appeal unless Latavius goes down. I am enjoying his weekly touchdown, but until I see that the Raiders are willing to give Latavius more rope, I’m not all that crazy about him.
Quincy Enunwa – Many were expecting Enunwa to break out against the Chiefs with the news that Brandon Marshall was going to see limited snaps. Marshall did not see limited snaps. This is why you should stop listening to coaches. Why would they tell us their game plan? Marshall saw ten targets and only sat out a handful of regular snaps. Enunwa saw eleven targets, which led the Jets but he was only able to snag four of those. His value ballooned last week with the hopes that he would be able to fill in admirably for Marshall. Unfortunately for Enunwa, Marshall didn’t sit at all, and Enunwa was not able to do much with his targets. I think he’s best held onto at this point as a WR5 or WR6 hopeful. He’s more of a physical freak who can beat you down the seam and run a few guys over, similar to a tight end, rather than a finesse toe-tapping magician down the sidelines, comparable to Marshall. That’s what I think ultimately limits his upside.
Michael Floyd – It seems as though the most viable threats in the Arizona offense are the ones who can keep their noggin intact. First it was John Brown, now it’s Mikey Floyd. Is Larry Fitzgerald next?!?! Brown led the Cardinals in receiving in their surprising loss to the Bills on Sunday, signaling a changing of the guard of sorts for who is the complement to the trustworthy Fitzgerald. For the past few years, Floyd has gotten the hype throughout training camp, and year after year he seems to disappoint owners. The year is still obviously young, but it’s hard to trust Floyd or Smokey Brown when they are both healthy. Now that Floyd is in the league’s concussion protocol, it should pave the way for a healthy dosage of John Brown on Sunday. Floyd had done nothing to impress up to this point either, with only 19.4 fantasy points on the year, good for about 6.4 per game. The same way Brown’s concussion opened the door for Floyd to start the year; Floyd’s concussion now seemingly does the same for Brown.
Delanie Walker – Walker has been a favorite of mine for a few years, evidenced by his constant appearance in this article dating back to last year. Unfortunately this Tennessee team does not look too promising this year and Walker is coming back after missing a week due to a hamstring injury. Those hamstrings are known to rear their ugly head at any time (see: Alshon Jeffery) and coming back against a potent defense like the Texans (even without J.J. Watt) could spell trouble for the old man. The Houston front seven has been playing very well this year and if they decide to blanket Walker with a linebacker, Mariota could be looking elsewhere for his safety valve. If you have Walker, I’m assuming you have to play him, but this tough matchup off an injury could result in some upset fantasy owners.
And there you have it, just like that we’re already a quarter of a way through the season. We hate how short the season is, but love helping you win your leagues. Remember to listen to our podcast, Trophy Time, on iTunes and Google Play and send in those questions on Twitter and email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck this week and remember to set those lineups before 9:30am EST Sunday time with the game in London this weekend. Boom!