2013 Fantasy Football Daily Fix, September 3, 2013
News and Notes
- Bengals sign DT Geno Atkins to five-year, $55 million extension (per @AdamSchefter)
Geno’s contract extension doesn’t have any fantasy impact, but it does provide an excuse to talk about how good Cincinnati’s defense is. They finished 5th in fantasy points last year, and they were the 3rd best defense according to ProFootballFocus.com’s grades. They were also a good defense in terms of being a bad matchup for position players. They allowed the 5th fewest points per game to opposing quarterbacks, 11th fewest to running backs, and 3rd fewest to wide receivers.
Most of you have probably completed your drafts, but if you’re drafting today or tomorrow, Cincy is the one defense I would consider taking before the last two rounds. In a 12-team draft I was in last night, the Bengals fell to the 13th round. If they’re still there in the 13th or even the 12th, it’s OK to grab a defense a little early at that point. It’s crazy to take the 49ers and Seahawks defenses in the 7th or 8th rounds when there are really good position players still available. But in the 12th or 13th your chances of hitting on a flier are low. Moreover, some of your fliers may be available in the 14th or 15th, but the Bengals won’t. My boy, Mohamed Sanu, lasts longer than the Bengals in almost every draft, so I’ll reach a bit for defense and take the same flier pick I would’ve taken anyway.
- Order of running backs in Denver’s initial depth chart: Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno
This has been a fluid situation and a tricky one for fantasy owners as a result. Very early in the offseason it seemed obvious that Ball would be the starter given his high draft position. But then Hillman was running with the first team early in camp and in early preseason games. The narrative was that he was better in pass protection and thus was a better fit for Peyton Manning’s high-pace offense. But then Hillman fumbled a few times and Ball once again seemed like the favorite. Then the “better in pass protection” narrative got attached to Moreno and he started sneaking up the ADP. And today the first Denver depth chart comes out and looks more like we thought it would early in the preseason.
Again, most of you have probably completed your drafts, but if you haven’t, I’d recommend staying away from this situation. I think one back will essentially assume the lead role, but I’d be lying if I said I felt positive about which one it will be. I assume Ball will develop and eventually become the guy, but I’m not willing to spend a late 5th/early 6th round pick to find out. There is too much potential that you’re drafting a backup running back there when you could take a certain starter like Ryan Mathews, Ahmad Bradshaw or DeAngelo Williams around the same spot.
- Le’Veon Bell aiming for Week 2 return (per @ScottBrown_ESPN)
Speaking of running back situations to avoid, I present to you the Pittsburgh Steelers. For a small stretch during the preseason, Bell seemed like the rookie running back with the easiest path to a lead back role. But after Bell’s foot injury, Eddie Lacy assumed that role. The fact that Bell was thought to be in that position at one time probably means he’ll be the guy whenever he’s fully healthy, but you should be dubious that week 2 will be that time. Stephania Bell has said it’s difficult to imagine the back returning before late Spetember. That means week 3 or week 4 at best.
But even when Bell does come back, he’s not going to be in a great situation. The Steelers were the second worst run blocking team in the league last year according to ProFootbalFocus. They did nothing to improve the o-line via free agency or in the draft, so it’s reasonable to assume it’s not going to be a very good run blocking unit once again. This is also a good reason not to be too high on Isaac Redman early in the season. Redman is still worth a flier in the 10th/11th round if you’re drafting in the next couple of days, but this is not going to be a good situation for any Pittsburgh back.
DraftKings Wide Receiver Recommendations
First off, if you’ve never played on DraftKings before, you can get a deposit bonus by signing up. And there are a ton of good game options in the opening week. Try the Kickoff Bash, the $30,000 Play Action or the $100,000 Hail Mary
My task this season is to provide weekly wide receiver recommendations for the DraftKings contests. It’s important to note that DraftKings uses PPR scoring. It’s also important to note that weekly recommendations are based heavily on matchups, and matchup data gets more and more reliable as the year goes on as we gradually stop using 2012 matchup data and start using the more recent 2013 data when the sample size gets big enough.
That said, it’s hard to look at anything other than 2012 matchup data in week 1. Below is a chart showing the best and worst defenses against wide receivers last year with the idea being that the teams on the extremes are more likely to remain above or below average even if they don’t continue to be one of the best or worst WR matchups.
Dez Bryant, $8,200 – Among the truly elite options, Bryant is the best choice. Calvin Johnson’s price ($9,400) is prohibitive. A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall don’t have great matchups. Julio Jones and Roddy White have a good matchup with the Saints, but it’s a bit of a gamble picking the one with the better game. Bryant is facing the Giants who were 23rd against #1 receivers last year (per Football Outsiders), and they didn’t have a corner that was better than average in coverage last year according to ProFootballFocus.
Dwayne Bowe, $6,400 – The Jaguars were 25th against #1 receivers last year and also didn’t have a corner rated above average in coverage. Bowe hasn’t been a huge PPR guy in the past, but if Alex Smith keeps even some of the accuracy he showed last year, Bowe could catch 80+ balls this year.
DeSean Jackson, $5,300 – The Redskins gave up a ton of points to receivers last year, but Josh Wilson was pretty good in coverage, and I worry that he could be a tough matchup for Jackson. And that’s especially true given that Wilson may be able to get some help with no Jeremy Maclin to worry about. But for this price, Jackson is a good option.
Brian Hartline, $4,600 – Hartline was a solid PPR play last year with 74 catches. If Ryan Tannehill improves his accuracy, Hartline could catch 80+ balls. Cleveland has decent cover corners, but still gave a up a lot of points to receivers last year. It’s not a great matchup, but for $4,600 it’s not a bad option.
Golden Tate, $3,900 – This seems like a curiously low price for Tate given the buzz he has generated in the preseason that pushed him up to being drafted as top 40 receiver. And the matchup with Carolina in week 1 isn’t a bad one. They didn’t have a single corner rated as above average in coverage last year, and they were middle of the pack or worse against #1, #2 and ‘other’ WRs according to Football Outsiders.
Reuben Randle, $3,900 – Randle is a guy I took a flier on in the 10th-12th round range of several drafts. He gets Dallas week 1 who was 29th against #2 receivers and 28th against non-#1/#2 receivers last year. This could be Randle’s breakout year, and it could start in week 1.
I much prefer the luxury and cheap options this week, and I’ll probably take one of each. I’d rather have Tate and Bowe for a combined $10,300 than Jackson and Hartline for basically the same price ($9,900).