Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 4 fantasy moves to make now

Week 3 is in the books, with the Panthers licking their wounds unfortunately, and perhaps some of you doing so as well with injured players continuing to mount or with early draft picks that are not getting it done. Let's take a look at some top targets that may still be available in your fantasy leagues.

The Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota) and Blake Bortles (Jacksonville) eras are set to begin in full form this week as both will make their first NFL start. I think Bridgewater will be an upgrade for Cordarrelle Patterson owners, but Bortles is the quarterback of the two you want to pick up. Bortles has a lively arm and he gets the ball down the field - Bortles averaged a very healthy 9.3 yards per attempt and 15.9 yards per completion this past week, and he piled up 223 yards passing in just one half of football against the Colts. Bortles also will add to the bottom line with above average rushing production (he had 30 rushing yards this week - note that Bortles had 17 rushing TDs in three seasons at Central Florida). 

Allen Robinson (Jacksonville) has seen his targets, receptions and yards increase in each of the first three weeks of the season, and he is easily the No. 1 Jacksonville wide receiver to own if you ask me. Blake Bortles looked his way often last week in his NFL debut. It is a deep and talented rookie wide receiver class and that includes Robinson, who set the Penn State record with 77 receptions in 2012 and then broke his own record with 97 receptions in 2013. Definitely add Robinson if he happens to be on your waiver wire. 

In place of Arian Foster, Alfred Blue (Houston) had a successful day rushing this week with  78 yards before game flow limited his touches against the Giants. Blue looks like a high-value handcuff going forward. 

Lorenzo Taliaferro (Baltimore) from Coastal Carolina had a big day replacing Bernard Pierce this past week, to the tune of 91 yards rushing on 18 carries and a touchdown. Taliaferro displayed plus power and he is a load to bring down at nearly 230 pounds. Taliaferro will likely still be in a complement role but he should get liberally mixed in and he is the Ravens' running back you want to own and he should be one of this week's top pick-ups (although I wouldn't start him just yet and not this week against the Panthers). 

Speaking of the Panthers, someone in your league probably has released DeAngelo Williams. He isn't going to win you titles, but Williams should be the main back with Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert injured, and the Panthers down to Darrin Reaves as their only other healthy running back (signed from the practice squad last week). Williams should be busy – surely the Panthers will try to run more? 

Dennis Pitta (Baltimore) dislocated the same hip that he broke/dislocated in training camp last year and unfortunately there is a good chance his career is over. Owen Daniels steps in as the main tight end, and he knows the offense well having played for offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak when they were at Houston together. That said, I don't see Daniels as being a fantasy-difference maker. 

If you want to get ahead of the curve, add rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis) if you have room. Moncrief has seen his playing time increase each week and he has caught six of his seven targets on the season. Moncrief is still the fourth WR in Indianapolis, but he may push for more playing time as the season progresses or if an injury open up a spot. Moncreif is an absolutely sensational athlete and draws poor-man Dez Bryant comparisons. 

I mentioned Kirk Cousins (Washington) last week – he is legit. Cousins racked up 427 yards and 3 touchdowns this week and he looks in command of the offense with five touchdowns to one interception this year. He doesn't have RG3's athleticism of course but Cousins is simply a better quarterback. 

I also mentioned Donald Brown (San Diego) last week and will spotlight him again. Brown averaged just 2.0 yards per carry last week but you have to like the workload (36 touches). Brown will find things much easier this week at home against Jacksonville and with Danny Woodhead lost for the season Brown will again be very busy. I expect Brown will end up remaining the Chargers' starting running back even when Ryan Mathews eventually returns, with Matthews playing the Danny Woodhead role in the offense. 

This is way down the list as a deep sleeper, but if you have room Antone Smith (Atlanta) is worth a cheap deep flyer. Steven Jackson has had a hard time staying healthy of late, Jacquizz Rodgers is more of a change of pace back and Devonta Freeman is averaging 2.1 yards per carry. At some point, Atlanta may give Smith more work as all he does is make big plays. Also on the deep sleeper list is Jacksonville's Denard Robinson. The reality is Toby Gerhart simple isn't fast enough or talented enough to be a starting NFL running back (Gerhart is averaging 2.4 yards per carry this year). Look for Robinson to get more work and he had 8 carries last week, just one fewer than Gerhart. 

At kicker, after missing four of seven field goal attempts Nate Freese is out in Detroit, Alex Henery is in. Henery played three years in Philadelphia and sports a solid 86.0 field goal accuracy percentage. Henery isn't a kicker that is going to connect on many 50+-yard field goals (he has just two in his career) but the kicker for Detroit has the potential to put up a lot of points. 

Other fantasy notes 
I have been spotlighting rookie wide receivers breaking out each week, and how the 2014 rookie wide receiver class potentially is the best in "Fantasy History" and it could end up being one of the best in NFL history. Week 1 saw Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin have strong weeks, Sammy Watkins had a big game in Week 2 - next up, Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia) for two scores. Matthews has Pro Bowl potential written all over him. Mathews (cousin to Jerry Rice) was the first Vanderbilt WR to earn all-SEC 1st team honors last year (ever) and he has massive hands (and great size) to dominate in the end zone – with a 10-3/8 hand size, Matthews topped all WRs at this year's Combine (and actually Matthews would have tied as having the largest hands among this year's tight ends).

Are you sitting on more good tight ends than you can start? If so, target the Kyle Rudolph and Dennis Pitta owners who likely suddenly find themselves in need of a starting tight end. 

Eddie Lacy (Denver) and Montee Ball (Green Bay) sure have been disappointing thus far. They will see better days. If you own then, don't panic and if you don't own them you may want to try to target them in a trade as owners may be willing to sell at a decent discount. 

Likewise, stay the course on T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis). Hilton hasn't scored yet but he will have big days. Andrew Luck is playing exceptional and Hilton is his No. 1 option. The targets have been there (Hilton ranks tied for 10th among wide receivers with 28 targets). Hilton was well on his way to potentially a big day last week but was sat down with an ankle sprain (and the game was already well in hand; the ankle injury is not considered serious). 

On the flip side, is it time to stick a fork in Marques Colston (New Orleans) and Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona)? I think so. They are just big names. Try to sell for anything reasonable.