I had the blissful feeling of beating the person who I lost to in the championship game two years ago. She won in a two-week matchup by 3 points. It was my first time ever playing fantasy football, in a work league I was basically forced into. Although I lost, I felt good about it and was immediately hooked. Now in 2018, I had a shot at redemption. The two of us didn’t play in a league together last year, so after plenty of smack talk, and quickly learning this game over two years, I had my shot. Kerryon broke out, Alshon remained steady, and Cam came back to finish the QB 3. I won by over 30 points. This is what Risers and Fallers is all about.
In a game of ebbs and flows, it’s important to remember things change quickly and often. An injury here, a QB playing steadily better there, and I had a recipe for success on my hands. With that, let’s shed some light on new players, and revisit a couple running backs from week 3 and 5. Here’s to your redemption story, good luck this week!
Nick Chubb – RB (CLE)
After huge news of Carlos Hyde being shipped to Jacksonville, Nick Chubb now has full control of the Cleveland backfield. Duke Johnson, Jr. still exists and he too should see a bump up as the scat back. Chubb was the RB 18 in PPR in week 7, amassing 80 yards and a score on 18 carries. Prior to that, he was 16-173-2 on the year. If he is still on waivers, which he is in 21% of ESPN leagues, grab him now. In a year where we’ve seen so many RBs down to injury, season-long or otherwise, a cleared up backfield with a solidified number one back is a blessing to us.
The next three weeks will also be a blessing, as the Browns face the 3rd, 31st, and 29th worst defenses against fantasy RBs before their bye week. If you look closely a Chubb’s performance, it is a bit misleading. On the year he’s averaging 7.4 Y/C. However, if you took away the two breakaway scores against Oakland, his line is 32-149-1, with 4.6 Y/C. This is still not bad, and I only mention it to highlight more realistic expectations. The Y/C will come down as he becomes more utilized, but nonetheless, he should be rostered and can be flexed almost weekly.
Marlon Mack – RB (IND)
Mack was discussed a lot during the offseason, and after dealing with a hamstring injury we had to wait for him to be useful in fantasy. Before his breakout week 7, he’d posted just 22-123-0 in two games. He is back to healthy now, and in positive game scripts, he should be used as a workhorse. Mack is another player we’ve been gifted in a depleted RB landscape, but again, you should temper expectations.
Buffalo was ranked 19th against fantasy RBs going into week 7, and Luck and the Colts were able to manhandle the Bills defense. As a result, Mack went off for 19-126-1, good enough for the RB 3. Moving forward he should be a matchup play, to me. The Colts have the 7th best run blocking grade on Pro Football Focus but have allowed the 5th most points of all teams. If they’re trailing as they probably will be often, Nyheim Hines will see a lot of snaps. He is currently the 4th most targeted Colt, and will eat into Mack’s production if they’re playing from behind. Mack is a bit easier to get, owned in just over 50% of ESPN leagues. Make an effort to grab him as that’ll surely go up by week 8.
Amari Cooper – WR (DAL)
The Raiders are currently graded the 5th worst offense by PFF. The average fantasy ranking of the top receiver on those 5 teams is 48th best, in PPR. For the 5 best-graded offenses, it’s 11th best. The Cowboys are by no stretch a high-powered, prolific fantasy offense. But they’re better than Oakland. They have a better line, backfield, and one could argue a better QB in Prescott over Carr. Dak’s top receiving option finished the WR 32 and 24 in 2016 and ’17 respectively. So I don’t expect Cooper to all of sudden be a WR1, or even a WR2. But I do expect the Cowboys to be able to use Cooper better than they did in Oakland.
When Amari was targeted more than twice (I can’t believe that’s even a thing), he averaged 17 fantasy PPG and scored once. Cooper is the WR 59 in PPR, but the WR 17 in those three games aforementioned. Julio, AB, and A.J. Green are 3 fantasy ranks up or down from Cooper in that timespan of three games. Can you imagine any of them seeing one or two targets in a game? None of them have fewer than five targets in any game this year. Cooper has fewer than five targets in three games.
He can be good, and maybe great. What I’m expecting from Cooper is a lack of boom or bust. First of all, there is no reason for him to go from 2 to 10, or 11 to 1 targets week-to-week. He should be the number one guy in Dallas, and I think that shock factor can now be taken out of his ownership.
T.J. Yeldon – RB (JAX)
Last week I wrote about Carlos Hyde falling. Since then, he’s been traded to Jacksonville. There is a lot to digest here: Fournette may be out longer than expected, Yeldon is right back in a one-two system, and Hyde could continue to fall if Fournette returns, as it could be a committee system at that point. In weeks one and four when Fournette played, Yeldon had 32-103-1 on the ground. Add in 6-66-2 in the air and he averaged 20 fantasy PPG in PPR. Yeldon’s floor should remain safe, this move just takes away volume and upside. Remember too, Fournette was hurt even when he played, so a one-two punch with a healthy Carlos Hyde spell trouble for the Alabama product.
The upcoming slate for Jacksonville isn’t great. They see the 2nd, 19th, and 4th best defenses against fantasy RBs and have a bye week in there. Yeldon has actually been less productive as a workhouse, averaging 18 fantasy PPG since Fournette last went down. In those three weeks, Jacksonville saw the 4th, 15th, and 31st ranked rush defense per PFF. Blake Bortles has struggled as well, to the point of being benched in week 7. A world exists where Hyde is able to throw some balance back into the equation. But with substantially better competition, lack of workload, and a bye week looming, Yeldon looks to be a Faller.
Matt Breida – RB (SF)
Matt Breida has played in all seven games thus far but has been hurt in almost all of them. He currently ranks as the RB 21, averaging 11.7 fantasy PPG. However, in the last two weeks, he’s scored just 13 fantasy points total. Raheem Mostert has come seemingly out of nowhere, to almost double Breida’s Y/C at 7.7 to 4, on the same number of carries. And Alfred Morris has remained somewhat relevant, clouding this backfield.
I mentioned it in passing before the season kicked off that Breida is a small guy, and may not be sustainable. Too many times he’s gone down just to come back the next week when he probably should have sat. At peak performance, he’s played well. In week 5 against Arizona, he was 8-56 on the ground and caught a touchdown. He scored 13.1 points in less than two quarters then went down. But then again, it was against Arizona. The fact that he continues to play injured, and Mostert has now worked his way into the lineup isn’t good. Even when healthy, it looks like a committee between him, Mostert, and Alfred Morris is in play.
Kyle Juszczyk also remains a factor, who has seen 25 targets on the year and will hurt Breida’s value on a weekly basis. Now add in George Kittle, the TE 4, and the receiving corps, and things become too clouded and injury-prone for me to feel safe playing him.
Thanks for reading Risers and Fallers this week. These articles will become more and more useful as the fantasy playoffs get nearer, so check it out, give it a share, and let’s win some championships!