Darren Sproles

Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox: Fantasy Marriageā€¦and Weekly Rankings

This time next year, I will have been married for 4 months. Yeah I’m that kid: the one who gets married halfway through college. She’s a beautiful nursing student who, thankfully, will be graduating in December of 2015. But until then, as Alan Jackson puts it, we’ll be “living on love”…and very little else. Being newlyweds will be exciting as we learn more about each other everyday and experience a brand new life together. We’ll be two college students joined in wedded bliss.

            Now you’re not reading this to know about my personal life, you’re waiting to get to the fantasy analysis. Well, I challenge you to look back at the wonderful football marriages that took place this offseason and the beautiful impact they’re now having on your fantasy lineup. Remember when Gary Kubiak and Steve Smith were brought together as one? Yeah we’re not talking about marriage in the traditional sense, we’re talking about the ever-important marriage of new offensive coordinators and their new toys. Let’s take a quick look at just how big of an impact three new offensive coordinators are having on your roster.

 

 

·      Gary Kubiak and WR Steve Smith

o   When Kubiak was let go by the Texans this past offseason, teams around the league quickly inquired about the former offensive coordinator. He was always more of an offensive mind in Houston, leaving the defense up to his staff. Now in Baltimore, there may be no one happier than former Panther wide receiver Steve Smith. Upon leaving Carolina, Smith quickly became the ‘X factor’ receiver in Kubiak’s offense. For years, none other than Texan star receiver Andre Johnson held this prominent role. During his time in Houston, Kubiak made Johnson the first, second, and third option in the passing game. Secondary receivers weren’t important because they weren’t utilized. Kubiak had one receiver he cared about and that was going to be his guy through thick and thin. All this to say, we should have seen this breakout coming from Smith. Through three weeks, the former Panther has been targeted a staggering 32 times and has reeled in 18 of them. The next most targeted receiver is Torrey Smith, targeted only 18 times (or almost less than half of Smith). If an owner in your league is letting Smith ride the pine, see what kind of deal you can put together to grab him while he’s still available. As long as he holds down the ‘X’ spot, Smith is a viable WR2 in most formats.

·      Hue Jackson and RB Giovani Bernard

o   Hue Jackson is in a much different situation then Kubiak. Rather than moving teams, Jackson was promoted from Bengals running backs coach to offensive coordinator upon Jay Gruden’s exit to Washington. Having coached the team’s running backs, Jackson was smart enough to know what he had in the dynamic Gio Bernard. In 2013, Gruden was still focused on splitting the carries between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But today, Green-Ellis finds himself a free agent looking for a job while Bernard shines in Cincy. This fantasy marriage has done wonders for the young back. Last season, Bernard had more than 13 carries in just two games. This year, he’s already surpassed that number, averaging more than 18 carries a game. This doesn’t even include his role in the passing game, having already accumulated 19 targets through 3 weeks. Gio is the real deal and his owners are grateful for this marriage of coordinator and star running back.

·      Ben McAdoo and RB Rashad Jennings

o   In the last of our three marriages, we look at the beautiful chemistry between former Packers assistant McAdoo and Giants running back Rashad Jennings. McAdoo was brought into New York to spark life in an offense that ended in the bottom-five in offense last season. Having run the West Coast offense while in Green Bay, the coordinator quickly transformed the Giants into this system. West Coast offenses are known for short passes near the line of scrimmage and a hurry-up mentality. The Giants brass hired McAdoo hoping he could raise Eli Manning’s career 58.5% completion rate (hasn’t topped 60% in a season since 2011). What they didn’t expect was the massive role Jennings would play in the new scheme. Through week 3, Jennings has carried the rock 68 times for nearly 300 yards. In the current age of football, it’s hard to find many bell cow running backs. You need not look any further to find one. Having ceded just 19 carries to backup Andre Williams, this backfield is all Jennings. Expect more of the same in the coming weeks as McAdoo and Jennings take their marriage and turn it into wedded bliss (in the form of many, many fantasy points).

 

Week 4 Rankings:

            Here are my week 4 rankings broken down by position. I’ve also included my top 50 flex for those who can’t decide if they need to start a RB, WR, or TE in that flex spot. On to the rankings….

 

QB

1.     Drew Brees

2.     Andrew Luck

3.     Phillip Rivers

4.     Aaron Rodgers

5.     Matt Ryan

6.     Matthew Stafford

7.     Jay Cutler

8.     Kirk Cousins

9.     Cam Newton

10. Colin Kaepernick

11. Jake Locker

12. Ben Roethlisberger

13. Tony Romo

14. Nick Foles

15. Tom Brady

16. Eli Manning

17. Blake Bortles

18. Teddy Bridgewater

19. Joe Flacco

20. Ryan Tannehill

 

RB

1.     Demarco Murray

2.     Le’veon Bell

3.     Matt Forte

4.     LeSean McCoy

5.     Rashad Jennings

6.     Arian Foster

7.     Jamaal Charles

8.     Lamar Miller

9.     Donald Brown

10. Eddie Lacy

11. Alfred Morris

12. Matt Asiata

13. C.J. Spiller

14. Fred Jackson

15. Doug Martin

16. Ahmad Bradshaw

17. Frank Gore

18. Stevan Ridley

19. Pierre Thomas

20. Lorenzo Taliaferro

21. Shane Vereen

22. Reggie Bush

23. Darren Sproles

24. DeAngelo Williams

25. Chris Ivory

 

WR

1.     Calvin Johnson

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Dez Bryant

4.     Julio Jones

5.     Jordy Nelson

6.     Vincent Jackson

7.     Jeremy Maclin

8.     Alshon Jeffery

9.     Randall Cobb

10. Brandon Marshall

11. Kelvin Benjamin

12. Andre Johnson

13. Michael Crabtree

14. Keenan Allen

15. Desean Jackson

16. Victor Cruz

17. Cordarrelle Patterson

18. Cecil Shorts III

19. Julian Edelman

20. Roddy White

21. Brandin Cooks

22. Steve Smith

23. Marques Colston

24. Sammy Watkins

25. DeAndre Hopkins

 

TE

1.     Jimmy Graham

2.     Rob Gronkowski

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Vernon Davis

5.     Martellus Bennett

6.     Larry Donnell

7.     Travis Kelce

8.     Antonio Gates

9.     Delanie Walker

10. Niles Paul

11. Zach Ertz

12. Owen Daniels

13. Jason Witten

14. Heath Miller

15. Charles Clay

 

D/ST

1.     San Diego Chargers

2.     Miami Dolphins

3.     New England Patriots

4.     Houston Texans

5.     Pittsburgh Steelers

6.     Detroit Lions

7.     Carolina Panthers

8.     Atlanta Falcons

9.     Chicago Bears

10. Baltimore Ravens

11.  San Francisco 49ers

12. New Orleans Saints

13. Oakland Raiders

14. Indianapolis Colts

15. Washington Redskins

 

 

Kickers

1.     Nick Novak

2.     Stephen Gostkowski

3.     Shaun Suisham

4.     Justin Tucker

5.     Blair Walsh

6.     Dan Bailey

7.     Robbie Gould

8.     Adam Vinatieri

9.     Matt Bryant

10.  Cody Parkey

11. Mason Crosby

12. Phil Dawson

13. Dan Carpenter

14. Sebastian Janikowski

15. Randy Bullock

 

 

Flex

1.     Demarco Murray

2.     Le’Veon Bell

3.     Calvin Johnson

4.     Matt Forte

5.     LeSean McCoy

6.     Antonio Brown

7.     Dez Bryant

8.     Julio Jones

9.     Rashad Jennings

10. Arian Foster

11. Jamaal Charles

12. Jimmy Graham

13. Lamar Miller

14. Donald Brown

15. Vincent Jackson

16. Jeremy Maclin

17. Alshon Jeffery

18. Eddie Lacy

19. Alfred Morris

20. Rob Gronkowski

21. Matt Asiata

22. C.J. Spiller

23. Randall Cobb

24. Brandon Marshall

25. Kelvin Benjamin

26. Andre Johnson

27. Michael Crabtree

28. Fred Jackson

29. Doug Martin

30. Greg Olsen

31. Ahmad Bradshaw

32. Frank Gore

33. Stevan Ridley

34. Keenan Allen

35. Desean Jackson

36. Victor Cruz

37. Cordarrelle Patterson

38. Cecil Shorts III

39. Pierre Thomas

40. Vernon Davis

41. Lorenzo Taliaferro

42. Shane Vereen

43. Reggie Bush

44. Darren Sproles

45. Julian Edelman

46. Roddy White

47. Brandin Cooks

48. Steve Smith

49. Marques Colston

50. DeAngelo Williams

 

 

 

Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire thoughts, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

 

This tool is free and I promise to get back to you by the end of the day you send in your question. Send away!

 

Good luck to everyone this week!

 

This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve

 
Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Start:

Darren Sproles: 

All things considered, Darren Sproles has had a fairly sub-par year – just shy of 500 total yards and only two touchdowns. Outside of PPR leagues, he should not be a given start, but this week, the Saints will be visited by the Bills. Buffalo’s defense has been making opposing running backs look good all year, and that will continue this week with Sproles.

Jarrett Boykin:

A series of unfortunate turns for the Packers in the form of injuries to James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, have forced Jarrett Boykin in the limelight. Rodgers has only Boykin and Jordy Nelson to throw to, leading to Boykin posting 103 yards against a stout Cleveland defense last week. Expect more of the same from Boykin as the Packers dismantle the Vikings Sunday.

Chris Ivory:

I had all but given up on Chris Ivory before he ran for 104 yards against the Patriots last week. More importantly, he had 34 rush attempts compared to Bilal Powell’s three. The Jets play the Bengals this week, which isn’t a great match-up, but call this a gut feeling – Ivory will have a strong performance.

 

Sit:

Mike Wallace: 

I probably wouldn’t start Mike Wallace even if he had a great match-up.  The Dolphins play the Patriots this weekend  far from a favorable match-up.  Wallace always has the chance of catching a long touchdown, but don’t count on it this week.

Denarius Moore:

Denarius Moore has had a surprisingly strong year, and I expect his upward trend to continue. However, he might take a step back this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ike Taylor will be draped on Moore all afternoon, and Taylor has shut down the receivers far better than Moore (i.e. AJ Green).  

Andy Dalton:

The Bengals have a good offense, but the Jets have an even better defense. This will be a low-scoring game, which is bad news for all quarterbacks involved. 

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Rising:

DeMarco Murray — Murray absolutely torched the St. Louis defense for 175 yards this past Sunday, adding another outstanding performance against the Rams to his Cowboy history. Let’s just hope that he can replicate some of that success outside of St. Louis.

Josh Gordon — Gordon is finally relieved of his suspension in Week 3, and what does he do? He catches 10 balls on 19 targets for 146 yards and a touchdown. Other than a few turnovers, Brian Hoyer threw the ball well, and Gordon was his main recipient. Ironically, the same week that the Browns trade away their superstar running back, their offense finally starts to click. This offense will run through Gordon, making him a good player to have on a team.

Giovani Bernard — What does a young Darren Sproles look like? He looks a lot like Bernard. Bernard has two touchdowns in his last two games and received double-digit carries in Week 3. He is an adept pass catcher, has breakaway speed, and a team that uses him appropriately. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will still be used in late game and goal line situations because of his reliability, but Bernard is the better runner in this backfield.

Antonio Brown — Brown totaled 196 yards and two touchdowns against a strong Chicago secondary Sunday. Looks like the Steelers might not be missing Mike Wallace that much after all.

 

Falling:

C.J. Spiller — It seems to be a new trend in fantasy football this year — a star running back gets hurt mid-game, his back-up comes in to finish the game and outplays the incumbent. Spiller is the latest victim to this trend. Spiller left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, and in his absence, Fred Jackson totaled 109 all-purpose yards. Spiller’s injury isn’t serious, but Jackson looks to limit Spiller’s ceiling moving forward.

Anquan Boldin — I don’t care how many targets Boldin gets every week. The 49ers’ offense has been shut down for the second game in a row, and this time against a historically weak Colts defense. Boldin may be the recipient of many five-yard passes this year, but what good does that really do?

Ryan Mathews — Good news: Mathews is still healthy. Bad news: It doesn’t matter. Mathews is averaging less than four yards per carry this year, and Ronnie Brown is starting to get all of the goal-line work in this offense. Bring in Danny Woodhead for all pass-catching downs, and Mathews has very little fantasy worth.

Stevan Ridley — Ridley is still the running back to own in the Patriot’s offense, but that doesn’t mean that he should be starting on a fantasy team. Brandon Bolden had three carries for 51 yards Sunday, and LeGarrette Blount had 14 carries for 65 yards. This backfield will only become more convoluted with Shane Vereen’s return from injury in a few weeks. I wouldn’t start any Patriots’ running back on my team.

Trent Richardson’s strong play this season should continue into this week. He is among a group of rookies that are making big contributions to their teams this season, and could be gold mines for fantasy owners.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Fall is upon us, and so are the early rounds of bye weeks for players. Shuffling a roster to adjust for a key fantasy player’s off week is always difficult, so here are a few suggestions for players who are sure to be taking the field this weekend:

Start:

1) Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
RG3! RG3! In case you haven’t heard, this Griffin guy is pretty good. Despite being a rookie, he has put up the most fantasy points of any quarterback through four games this season. The key to his success is versatility in the running and passing game. Coincidentally, this week Griffin will face the Falcons, a team that had a ton of problems containing dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton. Expect RG3 to continue playing at a high level.

2) Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
The rookie trend continues with Richardson looking like a strong starting option this week against the Giants. Despite playing alongside rookie QB Brandon Weeden, who has struggled mightily, Richardson has managed to score in the Browns’ last three contests. Whether or not the Browns have a good day in the Meadowlands Sunday, Richardson should produce.

3) Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints
Holy cow, no one saw the Saints stumbling out of the gate to a 0-4 start. Despite his team’s struggles, Sproles remains a consistent fantasy threat. Thanks to his ability to run the ball and catch passes out of the backfield in the Saints’ creative screen game, Sproles is a versatile weapon for QB Drew Brees. With the Saints in desperation mode and his former team, the San Diego Chargers, coming into town for a Sunday Night Football showdown, Sproles should be in store for a big game.

Sit:

1) Michael Bush, RB, Chicago Bears
With starting running back Matt Forte out with an ankle injury for the past several weeks, Bush became a fantasy starter. However, with Forte healthy and back in the starting lineup, Bush’s workload is sure to decrease this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although he remains a viable threat in deep fantasy leagues because of his potential for goal-line touches, avoid Bush if you can.

2) Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots
Bolden exploded onto the scene in week four against the Buffalo Bills, racking up 137 rushing yards and a touchdown. However, New England players are always risky fantasy starts due to the Patriots’ propensity to spread the ball around. Considering he is behind RB Stevan Ridley on the depth chart and the Patriots are facing the Denver Broncos’ top 10 rushing defense, don’t expect Bolden to have a similar outing this week.

3) Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
You know a quarterback is struggling when fans are already calling for him to be replaced by the fifth game. You really know he’s struggling when his backup and sudden fan-favorite is Brady Quinn, who has not started an NFL game since 2009. With the Ravens coming to town and the pressure mounting, Cassel could be in store for more boos from his home crowd.

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Richardson among rookie fantasy locks

Fantasy Frenzy: Start and Sit

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews gets past Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Travis Daniels en route to scoring his second touchdown in the second half of a game Sept. 2 in San Diego.
San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews gets past Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Travis Daniels en route to scoring his second touchdown in the second half of a game Sept. 2 in San Diego.

There are always tough decisions week to week on who to start and who to sit. So here are a few suggestions at the three key positions — quarterback, running back and wide receiver — to help you set your lineup.

Players to Start

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
One of the biggest surprises of the fantasy football season is once again a must-play this week, as he takes a weak New Orleans secondary. Newton should have plenty of passing yards and will most likely go more than 300 yards for the fourth time this year.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Mathews did not live up to his high billing his rookie year, but in his sophomore campaign he is racking up the fantasy points. He is carrying the ball at least 15 times a game and is also accumulating receiving yards from the backfield. Expect great numbers from Mathews this week taking on a porous Denver defense.

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
He was a dangerous return man in San Diego but not a smart fantasy play, however now that he has headed to the “Big Easy” to pair with Drew Brees, he’s putting up solid fantasy numbers. Sproles is averaging 12 points a game, and this week expect him to go well over that against a bad Carolina defense.

Players To Sit

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson went down with a hamstring injury last week, and the team lists him as doubtful for this Sunday’s game. But if you saw the injury happen during the telecast, you know it looked significantly worse than reported, so don’t expect to have Johnson in your lineup for a little while. Fantasy owners that are scrambling to replace his huge output should look to the Texans’ second receiver Jacoby Jones to fill for the former Miami great. Jones is still available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues so he should be an easy temporary replacement.

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
He is usually a must start from week to week, but his numbers have been inconsistent this season. This week they are playing the Green Bay Packers, so expect a high-scoring game and very little running of the ball, especially if the Falcons fall quickly behind, which is something the Packers have managed to do to teams all season long.

Players on their bye weeks
Just a reminder to those that might not be completely aware that this is the first week of bye weeks this season. So owners of players from the Redskins, Rams, Cowboys, Browns, Ravens and Dolphins need to sit their star players from these teams and look to the bench to fill in.

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews gets past Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Travis Daniels en route to scoring his second touchdown in the second half of a game Sept. 2 in San Diego.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

There are always tough decisions week to week on who to start and who to sit. So here are a few suggestions at the three key positions — quarterback, running back and wide receiver — to help you set your lineup.

Players to Start:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
One of the biggest surprises of the fantasy football season is once again a must-play this week, as he takes a weak New Orleans secondary. Newton should have plenty of passing yards and will most likely go more than 300 yards for the fourth time this year.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Mathews did not live up to his high billing his rookie year, but in his sophomore campaign he is racking up the fantasy points. He is carrying the ball at least 15 times a game and is also accumulating receiving yards from the backfield. Expect great numbers from Mathews this week taking on a porous Denver defense.

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
He was a dangerous return man in San Diego but not a smart fantasy play, however now that he has headed to the “Big Easy” to pair with Drew Brees, he’s putting up solid fantasy numbers. Sproles is averaging 12 points a game, and this week expect him to go well over that against a bad Carolina defense.

PLAYERS TO SIT:

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson went down with a hamstring injury last week, and the team lists him as doubtful for this Sunday’s game. But if you saw the injury happen during the telecast, you know it looked significantly worse than reported, so don’t expect to have Johnson in your lineup for a little while. Fantasy owners that are scrambling to replace his huge output should look to the Texans’ second receiver Jacoby Jones to fill for the former Miami great. Jones is still available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues so he should be an easy temporary replacement.

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
He is usually a must start from week to week, but his numbers have been inconsistent this season. This week they are playing the Green Bay Packers, so expect a high-scoring game and very little running of the ball, especially if the Falcons fall quickly behind, which is something the Packers have managed to do to teams all season long.

Players on their bye weeks:
Just a reminder to those that might not be completely aware that this is the first of bye weeks this season. So owners of players from the Redskins, Rams, Cowboys, Browns, Ravens and Dolphins need to sit their star players from these teams and look to the bench to fill in.