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Ronnie Hillman's Fantasy Value Going Forward (October 2014)

Ronnie Hillman's Fantasy Value Going Forward (October 2014)
On October 7th, 2014, SB Nation did an article on the fluidity of Montee Ball's medical situation and how he could be out of the lineup for more than a month with the groin injury he sustained against the Arizona Cardinals back on October 5th.

Yet as Ronnie Hillman continues to impress, the extent of Ball's injury is becoming a less critical issue.

Why's that?

Because the Denver Broncos are, quite frankly, running great without him.

In other words, Hillman is putting Ball out of a job.

Ronnie Hillman's Rushing in Two Games Without Ball

Courtesy of

Tyler Murray of Sports Injury Alert has noted that it's becoming increasingly unlikely for Ball to return to his previous role, considering the nature of his injury, poor play to start the season and Hillman's success in his absence.

If we assume a November 7th return for Ball, Hillman will have the job for at least two more games.

Already in two full games, serving as Ball's replacement, Hillman has both rushed for 100 yards in one and scored two touchdowns in another.

It's hard to imagine that the Broncos would return to Ball who has been nothing if not unproductive during the four full games he's played.

Ronnie Hillman's Fantasy Value Going Forward (October 2014)
Aside from a modestly productive opening game against the Indianapolis Colts, which saw him gain 67 yards on 23 carries (still bad) and score a touchdown, he's scored eight, one and one fantasy points in the three games after that.

Unfortunately for those who spent high draft picks to get him, Ball has been awful.

And if he's out until at least week nine, that gives Hillman plenty of time to solidify himself as the better choice for Denver's backfield.

That is, if he hasn't done so already.

Hillman's Fantasy Outlook

The sample size we get from Hillman is small, but he's proved to be good in the two and a half games played in Peyton Manning's offense.

It also wouldn't be the first time that someone had unseated Ball from his spot on the depth chart.
At this point and for at least the next two weeks, Hillman is a must-own and a must-start.
Last year, Knowshon Moreno was listed as the third back on the Broncos depth chart coming into the regular season, and surpassed both Hillman and Ball for Denver's lead rushing spot. Perhaps, the same thing that "clicked" for Moreno last year, could be clicking for Hillman as well.

He's certainly more of a speed back than Ball is, which might be something that Denver is looking to take advantage of since their receivers tend to back the quicker defenders off the line of scrimmage.

For whatever reason, Ball has not been able to exploit that, and Hillman has.

For fantasy owners, that's a green light to start Hillman and assume that you're getting a 15-25 carry-per-game back depending on the game situation. He had only 14 carries against the San Francisco 49ers but was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter along with the rest of the first team offense.

Had that not happened, we may have seen more carries and production out of Hillman, especially if Denver's lead was small enough that they used their first team offense to run out the clock.

That would have meant plenty of garbage time for Hillman.

Hillman is a Solid RB2 for the Next Two Weeks

At this point and for at least the next two weeks, Hillman is a must-own and a must-start.

When Ball is cleared to play, it might get a little more difficult to be certain of Hillman's value, as he'll likely be involved with a timeshare. That is, unless the Denver coaching staff transparently commits to one back as their leader rusher.

It's also easy to envision a scenario where Ball comes back and they verbally commit to him as their No. 1, but then give Hillman 60 percent of the carries.

Who knows.

But either way, if Hillman continues to help the Broncos avoid being a one-dimensional offense (which they clearly were becoming with Ball), expect him to keep getting RB2-worthy production.

Flickr Commons Images Courtesy of  West Point - The U.S. Military Academy and M Glasgow.


Carson Palmer's Fantasy Value Against the Oakland Raiders in Week 7

Carson Palmer's Fantasy Value Against the Oakland Raiders in Week 7

Carson Palmer's stock is up.

And it would have been up, even if the Arizona Cardinals weren't playing the Oakland Raiders this week.

But they are, and the Raiders are terrible. Palmer is also reportedly in contract talks with the Cardinals, for what it's worth.

So we like him a little more than usual this week.

Here's a little extra fantasy analysis: Worried about Larry Fitzgerald? His value is going up too. Not that I would recommend starting Palmer and Fitzgerald, but either one could be a solid waiver pickup at this point.

That paragraph was free.

But I assume you want to know whether or not you should start Palmer. Just to kick things off, Matthew Berry thinks you should.

And I agree.

Here's why.

Fitzgerald in Week Six

So maybe the "something extra" has a little more relevancy.

We'll have to charge for these paragraphs.

Seeing Fitzgerald essentially drag a defender into the endzone for his first touchdown of the year was really encouraging, both for him and Palmer's value.

He would total 98 receiving yards before the day was over.

Expect Palmer to try and get the ball into Fitzgerald's hands again this week, since the Cardinals have a unique opportunity to build their No. 1 receiver's confidence. He's still their best offensive weapon and playmaker, if not terrible with the team's backups.

You can't really blame him for that, anyway.

So in simpler terms, I like Fitzgerald this week because I like Palmer, and I like Palmer this week because I like Fitzgerald and believe he's way better than his first five games would indicate.

Palmer has Played Well in Two Games This Year

Palmer has only played in two games this year, but he's tossed two touchdown passes in each game and thrown for 304 and 250 yards respectively.

You're happy if you get those kind of numbers out of your quarterback. And historically, Palmer isn't the type of player who is going to make a lot of mistakes and hurt your fantasy team. He's a facilitator with the arm and skill to do a little more.

So despite the small 2014 sample size, it was encouraging to see him bounce back so quickly in week six and pickup where he left off.

That gives us reason to hope that the strong play will continue as his shoulder heals.

Oakland Against opposing QBs in Fantasy

Oakland hasn't gone a game without allowing at least one touchdown to an opposing QB. In three of those games they've allowed two or more. They don't give up a ton of yards, ranking 11th in passing yards against per game (

But they do give up points, and only have two interceptions on the year.

So it's not exactly the "slam-dunk" matchup that it might sound like just because you hear, "playing the Raiders."

But it's nothing if not favorable for Palmer.

We should also consider that the low number of passing yards the Raiders have allowed is likely because teams don't always need to throw against them. Oakland is 0-5 and have only scored 79 points this years. That's the lowest offensive output in the NFL.

Thus massive yardage is not required.

Bottom Line

A matchup against the Raiders just doesn't put Palmer in a position to hurt your team in any capacity.

Statistical outliers do occur and we should always keep in mind that anything can happen in an NFL game. But the odds are in your favor if you start Palmer this week. So be confident in him going into Sunday if you give him the nod.

If it helps, here are a few QBs I'd start Palmer ahead of in week seven: Cam Newton | Eli Manning | Matt Ryan | Tony Romo | Russel Wilson.

Let me know what you think about Palmer this week over at Twitter and Google Plus.

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Joe Flacco Fantasy Value after Week Six Performance: Fantasy fool's gold?

Should there be a mad dash to pickup Joe Flacco for your fantasy team? Maybe you're the nervous Eli Manning owner or you're in a deep league where you've got to start someone like Jake Locker.

There's no doubt that you and many others will be giving Flacco some thought.

He's only 36 percent owned in ESPN fantasy leagues.

In Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he threw five touchdowns, all in the first half and finished the game with over 300 yards receiving. It was by far his most productive performance on the year.

He also had a three-touchdown and 327 yard performance two weeks earlier.

So what is Flacco's value?

Should we be rushing to pick him up, or is this a temporary run that's not going to be sustained?

Pick him up, if you don't expect five TDs per game...

Putting up such big numbers makes Flacco an enticing pickup, but is that really going to be the new normal for him, considering his history, style of play, the team around him and what he's done the last few years?

Even the last few games tell us a different story.

So picking him up based on the Tampa game alone is bad idea. Because you can't count on him to do that every week, or to even come close.

It's not his M.O.

That said, there is some upside to owning and starting Flacco, assuming you can keep your expectations reasonable.

Flacco Looks Comfortable and in Control

In this year's offense with Steve Smith, Flacco does look unusually comfortable, having thrown for multiple touchdown passes in three of the team's first six games. He also has the Baltimore Ravens looking more like the elite team that they've been for much of the past decade.

And if we're honest, we've never really seen Flacco get to be the spearhead of his team's offense. For the past several years, that role has belonged to Ray Rice.

Now that Rice is gone, it's falling on Flacco to lead his team's offense and to put points on the board.

That's not a scenario that I would assume to be favorable to Flacco, but the numbers don't lie.

Flacco's Impressive Stats

Through six games, Flacco is posting career, and all-around impressive, numbers in several different categories.


Were the season to end today, his 63.6 completion percentage and 97.8 rating would both be the best he's had in his career. What's even more encouraging is that he's only thrown three interceptions, after 22 in 2013.

On paper, he's a good fantasy option, if not a bit unpredictable.

So if we're going to make a smart fantasy move, what do we do with Flacco? There's no denying his recent success, but how do we avoid being over-reactive and assign proper fantasy value to him for the coming weeks?


First, we've got to look at the bigger sample size.

We know that Flacco has flashes of brilliance, but he's not going to put up big numbers every week. On average he's an 15-20 point fantasy QB, not a 30-35 point QB. So just be careful that you don't judge him based on one good (or bad) game.

Second, you're likely debating whether to start him over someone else on your roster. For some quick comparisons, check Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg's rankings on CBS Sports.

Then take your best guess.

Third, start him with the perspective that he's going to have some bad games and probably isn't going to repeat Sunday's performance in this calendar year.

That said, he's a good add for a team in need of help at the QB position.

He might not win you a fantasy championship, but he shouldn't be the reason you lose either.

You and Flacco

What's your take on Flacco's fantasy value going into week seven? Let me know over at Twitter and Google Plus.

Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Keith Allison


Demarco Murray Fantasy Value Against the Seattle Seahawks: Should you trust him?

Demarco Murray Fantasy Value

From a fantasy perspective, this matchup is as good as it gets.

You have the No. 1 fantasy running back going up against a defense allowing the fewest points to opposing RBs this year.

Thus Demarco Murray versus the Seattle Seahawks defense is truly the clash of the titans.

But if you're a Murray fantasy owner you've got to be asking the question, "Is it wise to start Murray against Seattle's front seven?" Fantasy football is nothing if not cyclical, so there's nothing to say that a number of favorable and unfavorable outcomes aren't possible.

In other words, Seattle could definitely shut him down and make him a non-factor.

However, benching the league's No. 1 rusher isn't smart for a number of reasons.

Murray's Touches

Part of the reason that Murray has been so good is that he's getting an obscene amount of touches this year, on pace for 464 over a 16-game span.

While he isn't likely to sustain that pace, it's the Dallas Cowboys MO for the time being.

Don't expect them to deviate from that gameplan just because the Seahawks are tough to run against. They'll still give Murray the ball because that's what has been working for them. If it doesn't work and they have to change course, you can still hope for Murray to get involved in the passing game.

Murray's 2014 Receiving Stats


The goose egg under the TD column isn't encouraging, but the point is that Murray will find a way to be involved in the Cowboys offense.

Lack of Alternatives

The second thing you've got to consider if you're actually going to bench Murray, is simply who to replace him with.

Maybe you're stacked at RB and you can put someone in with a better matchup.

But even then, there hasn't been any RB who has been as consistent and gotten as much work as Murray has. Thus it just wouldn't be practical to plugin somebody else who might have a better matchup, but won't be having the same kind of production or workload up to this point.

You Don't "Play the Matchups" with Your Big Names

You can take weekly flyers on DSTs, kickers and speculative players who you think might breakout on a given week. But you don't play that game with your studs and star players. Especially those who are having great years and that you had to spend a first or second round draft pick to get.

Getting Murray on your roster meant you had to spend a second round pick, and since he's performing, he shouldn't be relegated to your bench just because of a poor matchup.

How do you think fantasy owners felt after benching Philip Rivers against the Seahawks in week two?


Our answer to the question of whether or not you should trust Murray against the Seahawks, is a resounding yes. That's not to take anything away from the reality of what Seattle can do to fantasy teams.

They can ruin everything.

But if there's one man that you'd trust to buck that trend this week, it would be Murray. Start him and keep your fingers crossed.

I'm not saying you'll feel good about it.

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Eli Manning's Fantasy Value Going into Week 6: Must Start?

Eli Manning's Fantasy Value Going into Week 6: Must Start?

How did this happen?

How did Eli Manning go from being a horrible fantasy option to a must start in week six against the Philadelphia Eagles?

For starters, the Eagles defense is really bad defending the pass.

They've given up the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. So that helps Manning's case this week.

But what's even more compelling is that the New York Giants offense has been good and they've limited mistakes in the process of improving. So last year's debacle of a season is quickly becoming a distant memory as Manning makes his case to be a must-start QB1 in week six.

Not only is that making him fantasy relevant, but he's done enough to put himself on track to a career-year.

That's enough to warrant more than 60 percent ownership in ESPN fantasy leagues and for you to start him with confidence in week six.

But if you're not yet convinced, let's look at the matchup.

Manning vs. the Philadelphia Eagles

We've already mentioned that the Eagles are terrible against opposing QBs, giving up at least two touchdowns in each of their five games this season. In three of those games they gave up three touchdowns.

Additionally, Manning has tossed 20 touchdown passes in his last eight games against Philadelphia (thanks ESPN).

Throw in the fact that the Giants are chasing the Eagles in the NFC East and could tie them for the division lead with a win, and you've got more than enough reasons to start Manning this week. The Giants have also won three straight games after losing their first two of this season.

So something is clicking in New York.

Whether it's Larry Donnell, Odell Beckham Jr. or a stable offensive line, the recipe has come together for the Giants and it's benefiting Manning's fantasy value in a big way.

Projecting Manning in Week Six

While it's also possible that Philadelphia's secondary could buck a few trends and shut Manning down, I don't think this is the week that's going to happen.

You'll likely see an offensive game where the Eagles may win, but do so without effectively slowing Manning's offense.

Now, Manning has only thrown for more than two touchdowns once this year.

But Sunday night will be the second occurrence.


Is Manning a Must-Start?

Maybe we're a little too optimistic about Manning. Is he due for a bad game? Maybe just not firmly in the QB1 category yet?

Let me know over at Twitter and Google Plus.

Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Keith Allison


Julian Edelman's Fantasy Value Going Into Week Six

Julian Edelman's Fantasy Value Going Into Week Six

Historically, Tom Brady's No. 1 wide receivers have been golden fantasy options. And this isn't to take anything away from Julian Edelman, but that has not been the case over the last season and a half.

Mediocrity (at best) has been a trademark of Edelman as he's struggled to fill the shoes of far more successful receivers who have gone before him in the New England Patriots offense. It's surprising that he hasn't inherited at least marginally stronger numbers, simply by being in what historically, has been such a productive system.

So why has he been so bad for the Patriots (and thus fantasy owners) outside of the first two weeks of the season (11 and 14 fantasy points)?

Let's dig in and see if we can get a feel for his value in week six.

Why Edelman is Struggling

First and foremost, Edelman's numbers have tanked in part because of Brady's poor play and a porous offensive line.

That kind of pressure on a quarterback can derail any WRs stat line.

Second, Gronkowski has taken on a more expanded role as his condition has improved. Add that to the emergence of Tim Wright as a second tight end option for Brady (similar to the Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski package) and you get a mere three fantasy points for Edelman in a game where the Patriots scored 43 against the Cincinnati Bengals in week five.

Third, Edelman is in a sense, out of his league.

Edelman simply is not a No. 1.

Brady has historically made his receivers better and has been able to win with or without solid weapons around him.

But the reality of this year is that Edelman isn't, nor was he ever, a No. 1 target. Think about the amount of snaps he would play on a team like Denver or Green Bay. He would be a third or fourth receiver at best.

A good one, to be sure. But a third or fourth receiver all the same.

That said; what value does he hold as a fantasy commodity going into week six?

Let's start with the Buffalo Bills defense.

Could a trip to Buffalo help?

The Buffalo defense is ranked 20th in the NFL defending the pass, allowing 251 yards per game which looks like an appetizing matchup for Brady and any of his receivers. At the same time, their DST ranks 13th against opposing WRs in fantasy thus far this year and have allowed more than one TD to opposing WRs only once.

That's not a terrible scenario for Edelman, but it's not as good as you would think considering he's up against a 20th ranked passing defense.

It's also expected that New England is going to continue to rely more heavily on TEs Gronkowski and Wright, which would make sense considering how well that has worked for them in the past.

For Edelman, that could actually be a good thing.

It would take the pressure off and allow him to relax a bit more.

Yet from a fantasy perspective, it's becoming more and more difficult to start him. Buffalo's defense doesn't give us any reason to expect Edelman to get more touches or opportunities, regardless of whether or not he relaxes into his role a bit more.

Projecting Edelman in Week Six

It's worth noting that the Bills DST has actually been better against TEs than against WRs, allowing only one touchdown this year and giving up more than six fantasy points only once.

So if Buffalo shuts off the Gronkowski and Wright show, Edelman might get more targets as plan B.

But it's tough to call that with any kind of certainty.

If possible, I'd recommend sitting Edelman this week. If not, here's what I think you're in for:


If you can't, or don't want to sit him, he's a low-end WR3 or FLEX at best. If it's a FLEX issue, pickup Wright and give him the spot.

He's got a better chance at seeing the endzone than Edelman does.

Where do you have Edelman?

Is Buffalo a breakout game for Edelman? Are you sitting, starting or maybe even cutting the guy? Let us know over at Twitter and Google Plus.

Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Football Schedule


Jimmy Graham Bye Week: Possible Replacements for Week Six

Jimmy Graham Bye Week: Possible Replacements for Week Six

Week five was strange.

If you benched the Carolina Panthers defense or Tom Brady, you're probably pulling your hair out. That's the problem with fantasy analysis.

It's too dang reactive.

Sometimes it's good to just be patient and let the big names play.

But if that big name is Jimmy Graham, he won't be playing in week six. So we've got to go about replacing him. And for those of you who drafted Graham without picking up a second tight end, it's off to the waiver wire for a replacement.

1. Larry Donnell

His ownership has shot up after a three touchdown performance in week four against the Washington Redskins.

Despite a week five where he only saw one target, he still has value as a fill-in for Graham in week six, when the New York Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles who have allowed more passing touchdowns than any other team this year.

Currently he's owned in only 67 percent of ESPN leagues.

2. Dwayne Allen

Dwayne Allen has now scored a touchdown in four of the five games he's played, including week five's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. What's more, his ownership is around 11 percent, meaning he can probably be snagged Tuesday morning.

3. Heath Miller 

He's extremely touchdown dependent and has only managed one in the first five weeks of this season. That said, Heath Miller is only 24 percent owned and has a favorable matchup against the Cleveland Browns in week six.

4. Niles Paul 

Though he's nursing a concussion and isn't certain to play in Monday night's match against the Seattle Seahawks, Niles Paul has value as Jordan Reed's replacement. If Reed plays on Monday night or is in the Redskins week six game against the Arizona Cardinals, Paul isn't your best option on this list.

Otherwise he's an easy pickup, available in nearly 90 percent of leagues.

5. Zach Ertz

Because of the way he's used in the Eagles offense, you've got to hope for a statistical outlier of a game if you start him in week six. He hasn't managed no more than four receptions in a game this year and is very touchdown dependent.

That said, he's only owned in 50 percent of leagues, and you could do worse.

Who do you have?

Who are you picking up to replace Graham? Let us know over at Twitter and Google Plus.

Wiki Media Commons Courtesy of DVIDS


Calvin Johnson Could Be Out: 5 Possible 4pm Replacements

Calvin Johnson Could Be Out: 5 Possible 4pm Replacements

Calvin Johnson owners have a bit of a headache on their hands.

After being a monster in the first game of the season, Johnson has had trouble staying on the field due to an ankle injury. He was severely limited in week four against the New York Jets, catching only one pass for 12 yards.

He's listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills and head coach Jim Caldwell wants to see improvement in Johnson's ankle before he starts him on Sunday.
The bottom line is easy: If Johnson plays, he should be in your lineup despite the hobbled ankle.
An encouraging note is that the Lions play at 1pm, which would give you time to drop Johnson from your lineup and pickup somebody else before the 4pm slate of games begins.

Just make sure you have Johnson off your bench if he's listed as inactive.

Afterwards, you can work on a 4pm replacement.

5 Possible 4pm WR Replacements

We're going to look at five player on the waiver wire (or who are likely to be on your waiver wire) to target, either to fill Johnson's wide receiver slot or to plugin at your FLEX position, should you have a favorable WR from your bench, capable of "replacing" Johnson.

Wide Receivers

Doug Baldwin (Seattle)

He's little more than a deep-league WR3 in most situations. But the Washington Redskins secondary is abyssal and the Seattle Seahawks will be without tight end Zach Miller, creating the distant potential for a Doug Baldwin breakout.

Jon Brown (Arizona)

The Arizona Cardinals WR has three touchdowns this year, meaning he's converting 20 percent of his receptions into scores. Though it's not a sustainable clip, the other two Arizona receivers haven't been playing well at all. And if the Cardinals get into a hole against the Denver Broncos you can bet they'll be throwing the football. It wouldn't be a shock if Brown scores again on Sunday.

Macolm Floyd (San Diego)

Malcolm Floyd doesn't get many targets, but he has been efficient, turning nine total receptions into 29 fantasy points stretched over the three games he's played in. While you would regularly want nothing to do with him, beggars can't be choosers.

Running Backs and Flex Spots

Roy Helu (Washington)

Lack of a steady workload keeps Roy Helu from being fantasy relevant, but he could get more work in the passing game against Seattle if the Redskins get behind.

Travis Kelce (Kansas City)

Travis Kelce's ownership is rising, now at 48.5 percent in ESPN leagues. Though that should still give you a chance to pick him up and plug him into a FLEX spot, while giving Johnson's slot to another WR already on your roster. The matchup against the San Francisco 49ers isn't great, but he's still a good start in week five because of his recent explosion.

If your Bench Fails You

These are all of course contingency plans if you don't like the alternatives on your own bench or if you simply don't have another WR to replace Johnson. Hunting on the waiver wire probably won't be your best option for replacing him, but for some of you it's your only option.

All of the players mentioned here are likely to be available to you and will still be unlocked at 1pm until right before their games start.

Just a reminder: If Johnson is declared inactive before 1pm, it could happen within the hour leading up to kickoff. If so, you'll have to be quick getting Johnson out of your lineup.

After that, one of these guys should be able to help you out.

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