Lamar Miller

Fantasy Decisions: Week 7 Rankings and the Flex

The flex spot in your lineup can be one of the most infuriating positions on this planet.

In most leagues, you’re given the choice between starting a running back, a wide receiver, or tight end. For years, I followed the philosophy of absolutely always using a running back in that flex unless bye weeks forced me to throw in a wide receiver for the position. Running backs have always seemed like the safe play to me. I rationalized all this in my head saying, “Running backs are always going to get carries! You never know if Alex Smith is going to throw to Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery. How am I supposed to figure out whether Matt Hasselback has a good connection with T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week?”

But as the league turns more and more towards an aerial attack, suddenly many teams are using a wide receiver in a flex spot once reserved for RBs only. The two positions are quickly becoming near-equivalents for fantasy purposes. As of this morning, there are 29 running backs that have averaged at least eight points a game this season. And wide receiver? Well, there are 30 in the same category.

Here’s another stat for you. Of the top 40 flex options this year (based on average scoring per week): 17 are RBs, 17 are WRs, 6 are TEs.

Just remember your flex spot is a FLEX spot! It is not a RB3 spot. Receivers are being more utilized every passing year, so now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, wide receivers may seem more sporadic but in reality, you’re looking at the same stats as the running back position. So use that flex spot for the receiver you keep ignoring; he just might surprise you.

As we look forward to this weekend, don’t forget the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both on bye so feel free to let Mike Glennon and Riley Cooper hang out on your bench. Lastly, the Patriots take on the Jets tonight in an AFC East battle. Set your lineups accordingly. Onto the rankings!

WEEK 7 RANKINGS

QB

1.     Aaron Rodgers

2.     Philip Rivers

3.     Andrew Luck

4.     Peyton Manning

5.     Jay Cutler

6.     Tom Brady

7.     Russell Wilson

8.     Drew Brees

9.     Carson Palmer

10. Cam Newton

11.  Colin Kaepernick

12.  Matthew Stafford

13.  Brian Hoyer

14.  Joe Flacco

15. Kirk Cousins

16.  Matt Ryan

17.  Tony Romo

18.  Jake Locker

19.  Ben Roethlisberger

20.  Eli Manning

RB

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Jamaal Charles

7.     Giovani Bernard

8.     Eddie Lacy

9.     Ben Tate

10. Andre Ellington

11.  Branden Oliver

12. Lamar Miller

13.  Alfred Morris

14.  Justin Forsett

15.  Andre Williams

16.  Ronnie Hillman

17.  Frank Gore

18.  Shane Vereen

19.  Fred Jackson

20.  Joique Bell

21.  Fred Jackson

22.  Chris Ivory

23.  Mark Ingram

24.  Bishop Sankey

25.  Jonathan Stewart

WR

1.     Demaryius Thomas

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Julio Jones

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Dez Bryant

6.     Alshon Jeffery

7.     Brandon Marshall

8.     Randall Cobb

9.     Steve Smith

10.  Golden Tate

11.  Emmanuel Sanders

12.  Andre Johnson

13.  Kelvin Benjamin

14.  Mike Wallace

15.  Mohamed Sanu

16.  Julian Edelman

17.  T.Y. Hilton

18.  DeSean Jackson

19.  Michael Floyd

20.  Percy Harvin

21.  DeAndre Hopkins

22.  Pierre Garcon

23.  Reggie Wayne

24.  Rueben Randle

25.  Keenan Allen

TE

1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Jordan Reed

5.     Antonio Gates

6.     Martellus Bennett

7.     Jordan Cameron

8.     Delanie Walker

9.     Travis Kelce

10.  Larry Donnell

11.  Vernon Davis

12.  Dwayne Allen

13.  Jason Witten

14.  Jared Cook

15.  Heath Miller

D/ST

1.     Seahawks

2.     Bills

3.     Patriots

4.     Texans

5.     Browns

6.     Cardinals

7.     Lions

8.     Broncos

9.     Ravens

10.  Bears

11.  Cowboys

12.  Chargers

13.  Titans

14.  49ers

15.  Packers

Flex

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Demaryius Thomas

7.     Antonio Brown

8.     Jamaal Charles

9.     Giovani Bernard

10. Julio Jones

11.  Jordy Nelson

12.  Eddie Lacy

13.  Dez Bryant

14.  Rob Gronkowski

15.  Ben Tate

16.  Andre Ellington

17.  Branden Oliver

18.  Julius Thomas

19.  Alshon Jeffery

20.  Lamar Miller

21.  Alfred Morris

22.  Brandon Marshall

23.  Randall Cobb

24.  Justin Forsett

25.  Andre Williams

26.  Steve Smith

27.  Golden Tate

28.  Emmanuel Sanders

29.  Ronnie Hillman

30.  Frank Gore

31.  Shane Vereen

32.  Andre Johnson

33.  Kelvin Benjamin

34.  Mike Wallace

35.  Mohamed Sanu

36.  Greg Olsen

37.  Julian Edelman

38.  Fred Jackson

39.  Joique Bell

40.  T.Y. Hilton

41.  DeSean Jackson

42.  Chris Ivory

43.  Mark Ingram

44.  Bishop Sankey

45.  Jonathan Stewart

46.  Michael Floyd

47.  Percy Harvin

48.  Jordan Reed

49.  Antonio Gates

50.  DeAndre Hopkins

Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

 

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:

Tom Brady

Every other analyst I’ve read has listed Brady as one of their must-sits. Don’t believe it. The Jets defense is great, but Rob Gronkowski should suit up this Sunday — expect Brady to connect with him early and often.

Lamar Miller:

No one really feels good about starting Miller on their fantasy team. He struggles at running between the tackles, and doesn’t get many goal-line carries, but if there is one week to start him, it’s this week. Buffalo’s defense has been porous all year — expect Miller to have potentially the best game of his young career.

Joseph Randle:

An obvious pick for a Week 7, Randle will get the start for the Cowboys this week. He is not nearly as talented as DeMarco Murray, and he may not be a weekly start, but he will have a strong performance this week against the Eagles. This will be a high scoring game, and Philadelphia has a weak rushing defense. Randle got a lucky draw for his first NFL start.

 

Sit:

Andre Johnson: 

I know it’s hard to bench Johnson. He was once the top dog of NFL receivers, but the tides are shifting — he is no longer a must-start. Given that Case Keenum will have his first start this weekend and that the Texans are playing the Chiefs, who have arguably the best defense in the league, Johnson is a strong sit this week.

Le’Veon Bell:

Pittsburgh’s offense is far from dynamic, and the same goes for Bell’s rushing abilities. Bell is averaging a meager 2.8 yards per carry this year, and the Ravens’ have allowed only one rushing touchdown all year.  Bell has a low floor and a low ceiling — a bad combination.

Stevan Ridley:

Last week, Ridley had the best game of his season with  110 yards and two touchdowns. Does this make him a must-start this week?  Absolutely not. The Jets defense is remarkably strong against the run, and don’t read too much into Ridley’s Week 6 performance. In the end, the Patriots have a running back-by-committee situation, and that won’t change any time soon.

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Rising:

Lamar Miller:

Lamar Miller averaged almost six yards per carry on Monday and is looking better and better with each outing. This week he managed to tally over 60 yards and a touchdown in only 11 carries. The most encouraging part of his performance was that he ran well enough early in the game that Daniel Thomas only had four carries. Miller is taking hold of the starting job in Miami, and is worth starting in your fantasy team on a weekly basis.

Alshon Jeffery:

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is known to dominate the Bears’ passing game, and typically receives more than 10 targets per game. But for the first time in his career, Alshon Jeffery outshined Marshall. Jeffery is a massive, athletic receiver who should be utilized more by the Bears’ offense, and it looks like quarterback Jay Cutler is finally catching on. Jeffery had 134 total yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 11 targets, which was a career high. He might not be weekly starter status yet, but he is definitely heading in that direction.

Danny Woodhead:

I wrote about running back Danny Woodhead early in the season, choosing him as one of my sleepers. Thank you, Mr. Woodhead, for making me look good. Woodhead totaled 86 yards and two touchdowns this week, and saw a fair share of snaps from different positions on the field. Running back Ryan Matthews is still the starter in San Diego, but Woodhead’s success in the passing game, as well as his five to 10 carries per week, make him a reasonable flex play in most leagues.

Falling:

Cecil Shorts:

Finally we can close the book on Cecil Shorts being a starting fantasy receiver. In the first four weeks he totaled more than 10 fantasy points just once, and has yet to score a touchdown. This week, wide receiver Justin Blackmon returns from suspension, which will add a much-needed boost to the Jaguars’ offense, and officially send Shorts into fantasy football obscurity.

Mike Wallace:

If Cecil Shorts has been a disappointment this year, then I don’t even know what that makes wide receiver Mike Wallace. He is averaging only slightly more than five fantasy points per game through the first four games, and there are no signs of improvement in the near future. Even when the Dolphins abandoned the run game for the entire second half of this week’s game against New Orleans, Wallace only totaled 24 yards. Bench Wallace until further notice.

Russell Wilson:

142, 202, 123. What do these numbers represent? They represent how many yards quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for in his last three outings. Even in an overtime win against Houston, he only posted nine fantasy points. Of the great crop of second-year quarterbacks, Wilson is my best bet to be a bust by the end of the season.

Week 1 of NFL football is always a mixed bag, as it is often hard to tell whether successes or failures will be isolated incidences or the beginning of a trend. Will Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant combine for only 59 yards in future weeks? Unlikely, but you may see players like C.J. Spiller and Lamar Miller start to trend downwards. Usually this column lists the buys and sells related to the prior weekend’s games, but I never like to sell a player based solely on their Week 1 performance. Here are some players that I am currently buying into and some that I worry about.

Buy:

Jared Cook and Jordan Cameron — Cook and Cameron are stunningly similar players — young, big, fast tight ends on teams with quickly improving offenses. Both players had very successful first weeks and will continue to improve. Both Sam Bradford and Brandon Weeden should continue to look for ways to dump the ball off and avoid turnovers. Cook and Cameron may not repeat their Week 1 successes, but expect them to be strong fantasy starters for the foreseeable future.

Stevan Ridley — This pick isn’t as much of a buy as it is a don’t worry. A fumble on the Patriots’ first drive led to Ridley spending most of his Sunday on the bench. Bill Belichick is a stickler about turnovers, and Ridley should take a lesson from this model even though he doesn’t have a fumble problem historically. Although Shane Vereen racked up 158 yards from scrimmage in Ridley’s stead, he also injured his wrist in the game and required surgery. Ridley will continue to start in New England, post solid numbers and can be bid on at a lower price due to his less-than-stellar Week 1.

Worry:

Lamar Miller — What does an appallingly bad Week 1 performance for a starting running back look like? Ten rushes for three yards and one reception for seven yards.  Welcome to the fantasy dog house, Mr. Miller.  Miller showed very few signs of life in Week 1 and saw a large portion of the Dolphins’ touches go to Daniel Thomas. I’m not initiating a fire sale on Miller, but I am definitely leaving him on my bench until further notice. 

C.J. Spiller — Since entering the NFL three years ago, Spiller has shown fans exactly one half of a great season.  Although he seemed poised to break out this year — and he still might — it may be time to tap the breaks on Spiller’s expectations.  He has all of the potential in the world, but inconsistency could cut short his effectiveness.  This week Spiller had 55 yards from scrimmage and a fumble, while his counterpart, Fred Jackson, had 108 yards from scrimmage and held onto the ball. The Bills will continue to frustrate fantasy owners and use Jackson for entire quarters at a time, which will limit Spiller’s productivity and make him unworthy of the top 10 overall pick that fantasy football fan probably spent on him.