Week 11 Street FA Report

Updated: November 16th 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Byes: PATHERS, COLTS, JETS, 49ERS

Add of the Week

Brandon LaFell, WR – CIN (Owned 14%)

Week 10: 6 Rec/95 yards, 1 TD

Brandon LaFell has been a player I have wanted to list for a couple of weeks but the poor performances left me looking for more unknown players to target. After last week’s performance though this is why sometimes it’s better to go with “old reliable”. For most of the offseason and leading into the regular season, LaFell was an afterthought for being targets to younger receivers Tyler Boyd and John Ross in Cincinnati. As the season has gone on, however, it is clear that he is still the number two option behind A.J. Green. While Cincinnati’s offense is not as potent as it has been in recent years they still have playmakers that can be fantasy relevant. LaFell is a cheap option to have on your bench for the rest of the season and can be used in a pinch for good matchups.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

RB Adds

Austin Ekeler, RB – LAC (Owned 26%)

Week 10: 10 Car/42 yards, 5 Rec/77 yards, 2 TDs

If you want to understand where Austin Ekeler’s week 10 performance came from go back to my week 8 report to read what I thought he could bring to the Chargers offense. Melvin Gordon has never proven to be a complete three-down running back and any receiving satellite back that proved themselves to the coaches was going to eventually eat into his touches. There’s a reason Danny Woodhead finished as the PPR RB3 in 2015 in this offense. The team likes to use the screens and check down options from backs as an extension of their running game. I don’t expect Ekeler to be putting up much more 20 points weeks but his floor is rising with the number of targets he is getting weekly now.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,00

J.D. McKissic, RB – SEA (Owned 23%)

Week 10: 5 Car/26 yards, 4 Rec/20 yards

J.D. McKissic had a coming out game in week 4 against Indy with two late touchdowns leading everyone to add him to their rosters. He has since had lackluster performances which has led to him becoming a free agent again in most leagues. However, he should be added for similar reasons as Ekeler due to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. C.J. Prosise can’t stay healthy and Thomas Rawls is a shell of what he was two years ago meaning that this backfield is WIDE open for any back to show that they should be trusted going into the playoffs. I’m not a big fan of McKissic’s running style frankly, he looks like he’s racing to try and see how fast he can get to the line of scrimmage rather than waiting for holes to open up, but he has amazing speed. If he earns more targets or breaks more runs he has big-play ability that will improve his weekly fantasy outlook.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Russell Shepard, WR – CAR (Owned 9%)

Week 10: 3 Rec/40 yards

After week 10 one of these statements has to be true. Either, the Dolphins defense is one of the worst in the league OR the Panthers offense is looking closer to their 2015 level of production than their 2016 level. If the latter is true and now both Kelvin Benjamin (traded) and Curtis Samuel (possible IR) are out of the lineup, Russell Shepard would become the WR2 behind Devin Funchess in an offense that could be turning the corner in terms of production. Shepard isn’t a great talent but we saw this same situation with Adam Humphries in Tampa Bay last year where a subpar level receiver can be thrust into a starting role and deliver replacement level fantasy production. Depth is always a needed commodity going into the playoffs and Shepard, similar to Brandon LaFell is nice depth to add this late in the season. For a free player, Shepard doesn’t have to be a superstar to be relevant. More targets will lead to more catches as well as more scoring opportunities. The Panthers have a late-season bye this week so the coaching staff will have two weeks to find ways to fit Shepard into their play calling.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

The Watch List: Week 11

Updated: November 8th 2017

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the storylines, players and matchups from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my weekly picks, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the season as The Watch List will continue to update you on who is fantasy relevant and worth your draft capital next year. 

Storylines to Watch

  • Heisman Update:  In my opinion, Saquon Barkley is still the favorite to win the Heisman.  He did have a down game compared to his high standards but he did still total 96 yards on 17 touches.  If that is his worst game of the season, he’s your Heisman winner.  Michigan State was the first team to hold Barkley without a touchdown since Ohio State did on October 22, 2016 (15 games).  Both Bryce Love and Lamar Jackson likely fall in the rankings.  Love was slow in his return from injury (16 rushes for 63 yards and one score) while Jackson simply was off while Baker Mayfield lit up Oklahoma State.  Mayfield has played two games against ranked opponents and has totaled 984 yards and 8 TDs in those two contests.  Mayfield has been a historically good quarterback the last two seasons (he finished fourth and third in Heisman voting the last two years) but 2017 is even better; all of his rate stats (completion percentage, yards per attempt and TD:INT ratio) have all improved this season.  I’ve been slow to add Mayfield to the top of my Heisman ballot but he’s probably my second choice right now.
  • Playoff Picture:  After a number of surprise losses last week (i.e. Ohio State and Penn State), there are just nine 0- or 1-loss teams remaining.  Some of those teams will face off over the next three weeks or presumably in conference championship games so what does that mean?  We are probably looking at a CFP with at least one 2-loss team and I’ll bet at least one 1-loss conference champion misses out (probably Washington).  Right now I would rank them Georgia, Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame.  I rank them this way because right now I would take Georgia over Alabama in the SEC Championship (I reserve the right to change that after I see Alabama play Mississippi State and Auburn) and I think Clemson runs the table (which would likely mean two wins over highly ranked Miami to add to their already solid resume).  Interestingly, this ranking leaves three Power 5 conference champions out of the playoff because the SEC gets two bids and Notre Dame sneaks in.

Players to Watch

  • Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado:  Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.  Lindsay does not have elite size for an NFL prospect.  He’s just 5’8″ and 190lbs.  Since 2010, there have been 38 RBs to measure 5’8″ or shorter at the combine.  Of those 38, only seven were lighter than Lindsay and just sixteen were drafted (42%).  If you factor in Lindsay’s projected speed (4.49 per NFLDraftScout.com) things do get a little better: 19 of those 38 ran a sub 4.50, nine of which were drafted (47%).  So, if Lindsay runs a sub 4.50, my guess is that an NFL team would give him a chance given his immense production.  Speaking of Lindsay’s production, let’s take a look at his stats and game logs.  Lindsay is a two year starter and four year contributor for the Buffaloes.  He averages 5.0 yards per carry over his career and is also a weapon out of the backfield because he averages 2.3 receptions per game.  In 2016, Lindsay rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 TDs and caught 53 balls for 493 yards and a score.  In 2017, his lines are currently at 1,334-12 and 20-233-1.  Looking at his game logs, the beastly nicknames “bell cow” and “work horse” come to mind.  Lindsay has 22 career games with at least 15 carries.  Through 2016-2017, when Lindsay was the primary ball carrier for the team, he has thirteen games with 15 carries and 2 receptions.  There are two other backs ahead of him on that list: Ito Smith of Southern Miss and Justin Jackson of Northwestern.  Notice that the dynamic pass catching back named Saquon Barkley is behind Lindsay on this list.  Obviously, I’m not saying Lindsay is a better player, I’m just simply illustrating that Lindsay’s production is impressive.  DraftBreakdown.com only has film of Lindsay from 2016, nothing from 2017 yet, but I decided to dive into his tape against Washington State since they had the best rush defense of those films available.  Due to his dimensions, Lindsay has a low center of gravity that he uses to his advantage to bounce off defenders like a pool ball.  I didn’t note many broken wrap tackles where a defender actually had hands on him.  So, while I don’t question his toughness and grit, I do question his play strength.  A number of plays went for minimal or no gain after a blown block lead to contact in the backfield that he could not bounce off of.  Lindsay shows a willingness to run between the tackles, although his NFL team is unlikely to deploy him this way, and is at least average in his cuts.  He had a wonderful play in pass protection in the first quarter where he saved his quarterback from demolition on a blitz.  Unfortunately, he did fumble the ball twice (one of which was lost).  I’ll end on two positives: Lindsay has not suffered any serious injuries in college and has great hair.  Ultimately, I came away encouraged but with the slightest hint of hesitation.  It’s a toss-up whether or not Lindsay gets drafted so until we know more I don’t think I can accurately figure his RSO value.
  • Larry Rose, RB, New Mexico State:  I came across Larry Rose’s name while researching some stats for my Lindsay write up.  Rose has a similar statistical profile (heavy workload, a factor in the receiving game) but he’s bigger at 5’11” and 195lbs.  Rose’s best seasons came as a freshman (1,102 yards rushing) and sophomore (1,657) so he’s been off the radar recently.  As a junior, Rose rushed for 865 yards in 9 games and this year he has 613 yards in 8 games.  Those missed games are due to injuries; Rose missed the start of 2016 after sports hernia surgery and missed time in 2017 with a knee.  He has 108 career receptions for just under a thousand yards so he’s very productive as a receiver.  Similarly to Lindsay, DraftBreakdown.com did not have much to choose from but I was able to watch Rose against Georgia Southern last year.  I came away impressed with both his straight line and lateral speed.  When given the chance to get out of the backfield, he is an explosive runner.  Unfortunately, he’s playing on a bad team and there are more negative plays than positive plays.  In pass protection, he looks to be average although he’s infrequently in to protect (just 19.9% of pass plays per Pro Football Focus).  I fear that that lack of pass protection experience will hamper Rose’s chances at the next level.  We may be looking at an UDFA in Rose so it’s hard to get too excited but considering how dominant he was earlier in his career I am interested in following him through the draft process.
  • Steve Ishmael, WR, Syracuse:  I have come across Ishmael’s name a few times this season as he has been near the top of the FBS receiving stat lists for most of the year.  He’s currently 2nd in receptions (78) and 4th in yards (986).  Ishmael’s reception totals have increased year over year (27-39-48-78) which is a positive sign of his development.  He only has 16 career touchdowns, despite being a four-year contributor, but let’s not forget how poor Syracuse has been in recent memory.  Ishmael has good size (6’2″ 209lbs) and decent speed (4.53 estimate from NFLDraftScout.com); given his size and possession receiver skills (41 of 78 receptions went for a first down) I would comp him to Keenan Allen.  Sadly, DraftBreakdown.com does not have any film of Ishmael yet – from any season.  So, further film study of Ishmael will have to wait but I like what I have seen in limited exposure while watching Syracuse against Florida State and Clemson.  Another positive for Ishmael is that he seems to be clutch.  Two of his biggest games came against LSU and NC State, both ranked at various times this season, in which he combined for a 18-243-2 line.  Furthermore, 44 of his 78 receptions have come while the Orangemen were trailing the opponent.  I’m looking forward to learning more about Ishmael, he’s a sneaky deep sleeper to target.

Games to Watch

  •  #1 Georgia at #10 Auburn, 3:30pm Saturday on CBS:  Georgia gets another CFP resume builder here against a highly ranked Auburn team.  Auburn has the 24th ranked rush defense in the FBS (126.4 yards per game); meanwhile, Georgia has the nation’s 8th ranked rush offense (279.7).  The Georgia rushing attack is headlined by Nick Chubb (867 yards, 9 TDs) but don’t forget about Sony Michel (867-9) and freshman D’Andre Swift (388-1).
  • Iowa at #8 Wisconsin, 3:30pm Saturday on ABC:  Wisconsin can’t even afford a close loss in this one.  Iowa is coming off a great win versus Ohio State so the Badgers will be on high alert and need a beatdown victory.  Their only hope at clinching a CFP spot would be to finish the season undefeated (including a Big Ten Championship).
  • #2 Alabama at #16 Mississippi State, 7:00pm Saturday on ESPN:  This one will be a defensive struggle.  Alabama has the 2nd ranked defense by points and 3rd by yards; Mississippi State’s ranks 14th and 7th.  I’m interested in seeing QB Nick Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald was getting some draft hype a few weeks ago after good games against BYU and Kentucky but he’s since come back to Earth.  He’s pretty inefficient with a 56.8% completion percentage and a 13:10 TD:INT ratio.  A big game against the Tide would buoy his draft stock again.
  • #3 Notre Dame at #7 Miami, 8:00pm Saturday on ABC:  I’m not old enough to remember the “Catholics vs Convicts” game that happened in 1988 when I was just a year old but this one will be nearly as important even though both teams are not undefeated.  I’ve been saying Miami was underrated and would lose for the last few weeks and they have proved me wrong each week.  I’m still picking them to lose unless they make it to the ACC Championship.  The injury status of RB Josh Adams and QB Brandon Wimbush will be big stories heading into Saturday.
  • #6 TCU at #5 Oklahoma, 8:00pm Saturday on FOX:  These two teams are tied in the Big 12 standings at 5-1.  The loser still stands a chance in the conference championship game race but will have to duke it out with the winner of the Oklahoma State and Iowa State game (both of those teams are 4-2).  TCU features the best pass defense in the Big 12 allowing 214.4 yards per game in the air.  Iowa State, the team that beat Oklahoma a few weeks ago, has the conference’s second best passing defense.  I’m not calling for the upset, Mayfield is en fuego, but it will be close.

Note: When watching film for a player in the offseason, I typically pick two games at random to watch.  If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had all season so they really need to jump off the screen.  I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability.  If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents.  Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

Week 10 Street FA Report

Updated: November 8th 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Byes: RAVENS, CHIEFS, RAIDERS, EAGLES

Add of the Week

Damien Williams, RB – MIA (Owned 50%)

Week 9: 7 Car/14 yards, 6 Rec/47 yards, 1 TD

If you didn’t pick up Kenyan Drake last week you’re likely too late to get him now after his double-digit performance on Sunday Night against the Raiders. Lucky for some, the Dolphins did show that they were willing to use both of their backs so Damien Williams needs to be added this week, especially in PPR leagues. While his production on the ground wasn’t much (14 yards, 2 YPC) he caught all six of his targets and had a nice touchdown to boost his numbers. This was easily the best offensive game for the Dolphins all season and it’s unlikely that they will be able to support two steady fantasy RBs like they did in week 9. Still, unless Drake becomes a workhorse three-down back in this offense it’s likely Williams will see his share of carries and targets.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $2,500,000

RB Adds

Peyton Barber, RB – TB (Owned 2%)

Week 9: 11 Car/34 yards, 2 Rec/20 yards

A lot of blowouts in week 9 allowed for a clearer picture of who the immediate backups are for certain teams. One of those teams, the Buccaneers, surprisingly used Peyton Barber over other options Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims to spell Doug Martin as the second back. Most of Barber’s production came after the game was decided but it is an interesting development to watch because of how low his ownership is. Martin only had 8 carries for 7 yards and hasn’t been the pillar of health during his tenure. If anything should happen to Martin or the Buc’s coaches lose some faith in his ability to produce in this offense Barber could slowly start eating away at his shares. With news that Jameis Winston could be sidelined for a couple of weeks it also conceivable that the running game is used more frequently to aid with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. A team in a downward spiral the Bucs could be another team looking to see what they have to build with moving into 2018.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

Charcandrick West, RB – KC (Owned 34%)

Week 9: 1 Car/3 yards, 5 Rec/30 yards

I wanted to put Charcandrick West on this list after his week 5, two touchdown performance but considered it a fluke game script that allowed him to be on the field near the goal line for two successful passing plays. After the Chiefs game against Dallas however, there may be some holes in the Kareem Hunt armor that makes West an interesting option. Hunt only played 54% of the snaps last week and has scored fewer points in every week since his 40 burger in week 1. We’ve seen this before with Andy Reid when he had Jamaal Charles who was a beast but would at times disappear to due personnel choice. West is used primarily as a satellite back as evident by having only 6 carries through 9 games but with the Chiefs being in more and more competitive games and opponents focusing on stopping Hunt, West may have more opportunities as a pass catcher. We will see how the Chiefs adjust after their bye week but West may see more targets going forward.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

WR Add

Terrance Williams, WR – DAL (Owned 49%)

Week 9: 9 Rec/141 yards

Way back in week 2 I recommended Terrance Williams and he has pretty much stunk it up since then, failing to eclipse more than 4 catches or 50 yards in any game until last week. In the never-ending saga of Ezekiel Elliot’s will he/won’t he play we have seen that Dak Prescott can and will need to pass the ball more if the Cowboys are going to be a playoff team this season. Williams had a tremendous game last week and although Dez Bryant says his ankle injury is nothing to be worried about he has a history of nagging low body injuries. If Dez is hobbled even a little Williams will be the primary beneficiary as he was in the past when Bryant missed games.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Keelan Cole, WR – JAX (Owned 1%)

Week 9: 3 Rec/47 yards

Since Allen Robinson’s week 1 injury the Jaguars have focused more on running the ball with Leonard Fournette and tried to avoid having the game on Blake Bortles’ shoulders. With all that focus on the running game, the development of Keelan Cole has become something of a lost story at receiver. An undrafted rookie out of Kentucky Wesleyan, Cole made the team mostly for his special team’s skills but is now pushing Allen Hurns to be the WR2 behind Marqise Lee. If he continues to make one-handed catches like he did last week he may be able to earn more targets in the second half of the season.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

 

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Early 2018 Positional Rankings

Updated: November 8th 2017

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the storylines, players and matchups from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my weekly picks, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the season as The Watch List will continue to update you on who is fantasy relevant and worth your draft capital next year. 

It may only be November but I think it’s time to start looking at positional rankings for 2018.  I did struggle at times with these rankings as to whether they should be based on my perceived fantasy value or in what order I believe players will be drafted.  Let’s say these rankings are a composite of both ideals.  I will separate out the two different mindsets in my future RSO and NFL mock drafts.  I have included brief notes on interesting players for each position.  For more detailed play analysis follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper or read my weekly The Watch List pieces which have, and will continue to, spotlight future fantasy relevant players.

Quarterbacks

Rosen is my QB1 because he is likely the most “pro ready” of the prospects since he is playing in a pro-style system with good size and stats.  Darnold looks likely to go back but if he does declare early he has hurt is stock with too many turnovers this year.  You may be surprised to see Finley and Litton on my list.  I have watched a bunch of NC State this year and have liked Finley’s ability to manage the game and limit mistakes.  Litton is a big (6’6″ 233lb) three year starter whose stats have been consistent through each season (including 590 yards and 4 TDs in his two games versus Power Five opponents); no guarantee he comes out but I’m intrigued.

Running Backs

The top of my list is pretty “chalk” for those who have been paying attention to the college season so far.  I did decide to put Chubb over Guice but they are so close it’s a pick’em.  Adams and Scarborough fall out of my Top 10 because I’m concerned about their size; few RBs at their height or taller (6’2″) have had sustained production in the NFL.  I sneak Jalin Moore in at RB15 because I think a team will take him for his pass protection skills as a great third down back; per Pro Football Focus he’s one of only a few RBs with a perfect “pass blocking efficiency.”

Wide Receivers

I have Ridley at WR1 even though he hasn’t put up huge numbers this season (or last).  I like his consistency because even though the offense focuses on the run, he still has three or more receptions in all but four of his 38 career games.  He also has a pedigree that few can match as he was the #1 receiver recruit in his class and had a breakout season as a freshman (89-1,045-7) in 2015.  He’s slight, just 190lb for his 6’1″ frame, which I have to acknowledge as a big negative because I am critical of guys like Pettis and Burnett for the same reason.  Read more about my Ridley opinion in my SEC season preview.  Sills, Cobbs and Burnett landed on my list because of seasons that beat my expectations so far.  I included two small school prospects in James and Wilson because I always need a sleeper to root for.  Watch for Wilson, he’s going to be a training camp riser for whatever team he lands on.

Tight Ends

The top four on this list may not quite compare to Howard, Engram and Njoku from 2017 but it is a very good group and I bet they will creep up fantasy draft boards given how barren the position has been this season with injury and ineffectiveness.  Jaylen Samuels is my favorite prospect in all of college football right now.  He has stat lines like no TE ever before (56-474-3 receiving and 39-209-7 rushing this season) and will likely project more as a FB or H-Back in the NFL.  Being position eligible at TE while getting goal line carries would be an incredible fantasy advantage.  If he lands with a creative offense he will be the ultimate third down weapon.  Never heard of Goedert or Yurachek?  Don’t worry I hadn’t either before I started my research but both are big and productive so I ranked them over some other smaller athletic types.


Note: When watching film for a player in the offseason, I typically pick two games at random to watch.  If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had all season so they really need to jump off the screen.  I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability.  If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents.  Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

Week 9 Street FA Report

Updated: November 1st 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Byes: BEARS, BROWNS, CHARGERS, VIKINGS, PATRIOTS, STEELERS

Add of the Week

Kenyan Drake, RB – MIA (Owned 45%)

Week 8: 6 Car/22 yards

Big new coming out of Miami as the Dolphins have traded Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. This leaves Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams to take on the workload for the remained of 2017. Sources say that while Ajayi has been resting in practices due to injuries the coaching staff has become more impressed with how Drake looks in his sophomore season. This, coupled with the inept ability to produce offense this season is likely why they felt comfortable moving on from Ajayi. Drake worked mostly behind Williams this season but since the trade has gone through the coaching staff has come out to say he will be the primary ball carries with Williams being more involved in passing and 3rd down situations. If he’s still available on the street and you need RBs for the playoffs Drake is a player that needs to be owned in all league now.

Suggested Bid: $3,000,000 – $6,000,000

RB Add

Dwayne Washington, RB – DET (Owned 3%)

Week 8: 6 Car/12 yards, 1 Rec/4 yards

As both a Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah owner it frustrates me to no end that the Lions insist on having Washington brought in within the 10-yard line. It’s obvious what his role is which is why the Steelers were able to hold the Lions from getting into the end zone despite having multiple red zone drives last week. But since the coaches clearly want Washington to be their “thumper” back he holds similar value to Matt Asiata from previous seasons. It’s likely that he doesn’t score more than 3 points in any game for the rest of the season but the possibility of having goal-line carries is enough to be bench material in case of an injury to Abdullah.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

WR Add

T.J. Jones, WR – DET (Owned 6%)

Week 8: 4 Rec/88 yards

Kenny Golladay missed week 8 and Golden Tate worked his way back from his week 6 injury giving T.J. Jones an opportunity to be involved in the passing game. He responded with over 80 yards receiving and had his second straight game with over 8 targets. Because of their backfield situation, the Lions are a team that frequently uses 3 receiver formations which means Jones has fantasy value until Golladay and Tate are back to full health. It’s possible that if Jones can be trusted over the next couple of weeks that he may retain the WR3 role regardless of Golladay’s return.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

Tre McBride, WR – CHI (Owned 2%)

Week 8: 3 Rec/92 yards

The Bears receivers are a fickle bunch of players to own, especially since Mitchell Trubisky took over. In his first 4 starts, he has less than 15 completions in every game which makes the week-to-week expectations of Tre McBride risky business. Still, the Bears don’t have a receiver that should command the majority of targets and they just lost their primary TE, Zach Miller, for the season.  McBride has a typical receiver build, 6ft 210 lbs and has similar metrics to that of Pierre Garcon, according to Player Profiler. This late in the season there is likely more valuable to be had in a trade than with anything you can find for free on the street. But if you’re strapped for cash McBride could be a matchup-based WR4/5 some weeks.

Suggested Bid: $500,000 – $1,000,000

TE Add

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE – HOU (Owned 40%)

Week 8: N/A

There’s better than a 50:50 chance that Fiedorowicz is sitting on the streets in your league in which case you should be picking him up now before he is reinstated from IR. In his first game, he caught all four (4) of his targets and this was when Tom Savage was still the starting QB. When he returns, C.J. will take back the TE1 role in what has become one of the most effective offenses in the NFL. There’s no guarantee when he will return but he did practice last week which should be considered a good thing. In the meantime stash him on your bench. He could be a TE1 going into the playoffs.

Suggested Bid: $2,000,000 – $5,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Dion Sims, TE – CHI (Owned 2.5%)

Week 8: 3 Rec/15 yards

As previously mentioned the Bears have lost Zach Miller for the season so I’m going to double down on the Bears needing to find new targets to throw to. Sims was an early offseason sleeper while as a member of the Dolphins before they traded for Julius Thomas and let him go to Chicago. Many might point to Adam Shaheen as the next man up but he’s still a rookie and learning the position. Sims is the more polished player, for now, at both receiving and more importantly blocking which will allow him to be on the field more. He should be a considered a TE2 going forward.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

The Watch List: Week 10

Updated: November 1st 2017

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the storylines, players and matchups from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my weekly picks, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the season as The Watch List will continue to update you on who is fantasy relevant and worth your draft capital next year. 

Storylines to Watch

  • Heisman Update: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley was mostly held in check against Ohio State but he did total 67 yards and two touchdowns. His first score came on the opening kickoff and just shows how effortlessly he can change the outlook of a game. I’m not yet ready to advocate for him to go first overall in the NFL Draft but he is undoubtedly a Top 3 pick for me. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson had another big game (491 combined passing and rushing yards with 4 total TDs) but the Cardinals lost again, this time to Wake Forest. I just don’t think the voters will go for him on a barely bowl eligible team. Much like stubborn baseball Hall of Fame voters refuse to put anybody in unanimously, I don’t think Heisman voters will want to give Jackson a second award that puts him in the most rarefied of air while playing on a bad team. Bryce Love did ultimately sit out last Thursday against Oregon State which I think hurts his Heisman stock. Playing in a primetime (instead of 10:00pm or later) weeknight game on ESPN would have helped a lot of east coast voters see him live. So, who would I have second? It has to be Notre Dame RB Josh Adams. I am not sold on his prospects at the next level but he put up another huge game against a solid NC State defense. Adams went for 202 yards and a touchdown and is making it harder and harder to ignore him.
  • CFP Rankings: I am writing this on Monday and Tuesday prior to the CFP ranking release “show.” A few thoughts… 1) why does this need to be a weekly show, just give us the rankings. 2) Remember, there is a lot of football left to play. Last year’s initial rankings were Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Texas A&M. Michigan ended up 6th while A&M finished unranked. 3) Don’t be surprised to see Notre Dame at #4 in the CFP ranking despite being #5/8 in the AP/Coaches polls.  It’s hard for Notre Dame to fly under the radar but they have in my opinion. They are 3-1 against AP ranked teams (nobody else has more than 2 such wins) and that one loss was by a single point to #2 Georgia – the committee will heavily value that.
  • MACtion is Back: The novelty will wear off in a week or two but MACtion is back and I am excited. For the uninitiated, the MAC conference plays some Tuesday and Wednesday games later in the season on the ESPN networks. It gets them some national attention and gives us football every night of the week. Below in my Players to Watch section I highlight a few names you should keep an eye on when you tune in over the next few weeks.

Players to Watch (MACtion Edition)

  • Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo:  Woodside has a shot at being a late-round QB prospect if he finishes the season strong.  So far this season his stats have been a mixed bag.  He threw 45 TDs in 2016 and has 19 so far this season, so he’ll regress there; it’s hard to say that 35 TDs is a bad year but it’s regression nonetheless.  He has significantly improved his INT rate this season (just 2 INTs on 232 attempts) but his completion percentage is down nearly 7%.  I watched Woodside a few weeks ago against Eastern Michigan, it was actually one of my Games to Watch, but he struggled; Toledo got the win but he but he threw for just 289 and no touchdowns.  I expect him to get drafted but will likely start his career as a third stringer – little upside for RSO owners but he’s still a fun college QB to watch.
  • AJ Ouellette, RB, Ohio:  Ouellette is leading the MAC in rushing (752 yards) and has seven total touchdowns.  He’s the best offensive player on the best East division team so we’ll probably see a lot of him in the coming weeks.  I would be concerned about his durability if I was a scout so I doubt we see his name mentioned in the Spring.  He missed last season due to a foot injury and was supposedly injured earlier in the season with an “undisclosed injury” per RotoWorld; maybe the same foot but not sure.  Ouellette has 121 carries this season and will surpass his previous totals (151, 160) in the coming weeks so it will be telling to see if he can finish the year healthy.  He is a former walk-on so maybe I shouldn’t be counting him out.
  • Corey Willis, WR, Central Michigan:  I was high on Willis to start the season but he was slowed by a hand injury that forced him to miss multiple games.  In his second game back he went for 5-98-3 against Ball State so hopefully he is now fully healed.  Willis is not big (5’10” 175lb) or very fast (4.50 speed) but he has a knack for big plays.  In the preseason, I compared him to John Brown and Travis Benjamin; both have had weeks of fantasy relevance this season so I think Willis should be on your sleeper radar.
  • Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo:  Admittedly, I have not watched a minute of Buffalo or Johnson play this season.  I am including him simply because he leads the conference in receptions and reception yards and is second in receiving touchdowns.  Per the Buffalo media guide, Johnson is a JUCO transfer who honestly did not see much success at that level (40 receptions, 993 yards and 7 TDs over two seasons at two different schools) so it’s surprising to see his 55-888-6 line in his first season of FBS competition.
  • Anthony Winbush, DE, Ball State:  Nothing new to report, Winbush is good.  I’ve written about him twice now and still think he should get talked about more.  He had a disappointing game against Toledo (just 2 tackles) but his dominating games against Illinois and Central Michigan show his potential (combined between those two games: 14 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble).  Winbush leads the conference in sacks and forced fumbles.  I have no idea how he projects to the next level because he’s undersized (6’1″ and I have seen his weight listed at 207, 225 and 240lbs); it will come down to his 40-yard dash and cone drills to see if he has the speed and explosiveness to play upright as a 3-4 edge rusher.
  • Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan:  Phillips is a darling of Pro Football Focus and is one of their draft board risers.  He started the year strong with two great games against USC and Michigan State (4 tackles, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and two kick return TDs) but has since slowed.  Phillips was originally recruited as a WR and actually saw his first offensive touches since 2014 a few weeks ago against Ball State.  In 2014, Phillips had 32 receptions, 479 receiving yards and 2 TDs as a freshman receiver.  He’s a talented player and I think the Broncos coaching staff will use some of these nationally televised MACtion games as an opportunity to get their guy some pub.  If you play in an IDP league you should consider Phillips because he has good ball skills and the chance for touches on special teams (or even offense in a limited package).

Games to Watch

  • #7 Penn State at #24 Michigan State, 12:00pm Saturday on FOX:  This matchup has lost some of it’s hype after both teams lost last weekend.  Still, it’s an important divisional matchup because the two 4-1 teams are just one game back of 5-0 Ohio State.  The winner will be like a dog waiting under the table for scraps as the Buckeyes finish out their season.  Plus, you should take any opportunity to watch Saquon Barkley.
  • South Carolina at #2 Georgia, 3:30pm Saturday on CBS:  We know that Georgia is a very good team but I’d bet that most fans don’t realize that the Gamecocks are 6-2 (I didn’t).  South Carolina’s rush defense is ranked 39th so it likely won’t stop the duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel but maybe they slow UGA enough to give sophomore QB Jake Bentley a chance.
  • #18 Stanford at #25 Washington State, 3:30pm Saturday on FOX:  An odd afternoon game for these two teams who are used to playing “PAC-12 after dark” games.  I hope that Bryce Love is back from injury so that he doesn’t miss his second straight chance to capture the national spotlight.  Prediction: Love goes but is outshined by the Cougars RB Jamal Morrow who has 747 total yards and 8 total TDs.
  • #19 LSU at #1 Alabama, 8:00pm Saturday on CBS:  I can’t remember the last time CBS had a primetime regular season game.  Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention but I don’t think it’s common.  So, let’s hope this one is uncommonly good.  I expect a low scoring game because of the strength of the two defenses; Alabama’s defense is Top 10 in most categories while LSU’s is Top 25.  LSU’s defensive weak spot is against the run where they are giving up 145 yards per game.  Considering that Alabama averages 298.8 yards per game on the ground (7th in the FBS, 3rd if you remove the triple option teams), I give them the edge.  Alabama’s one knock this season is their strength of schedule.  Only one of their wins came against a ranked opponent and that was the opener against Florida State who lost their quarterback and were obviously overrated in the preseason.  This one will be telling as it’s the Tide’s toughest test yet.
  • #13 Virginia Tech at #9 Miami, 8:00pm Saturday on ABC:  I have been saying over the last few weeks that Miami is overrated.  Their last four wins have been by a combined 18 points against middling opponents.  They have a tough schedule over the next two versus #13 Virginia Tech and #5 Notre Dame.  It’s time for me to pay more attention to the Hurricanes and that’ll start this week.  I’ll double down and guess that Miami loses both of these ranked contests.

Note: When watching film for a player in the offseason, I typically pick two games at random to watch.  If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had all season so they really need to jump off the screen.  I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability.  If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents.  Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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