Ricky’s Week 4 Fantasy Review

I am back with another edition of the Ricky’s Review. I am going to breakdown the week that it was in the world of Fantasy Football and what I brought to the table as far as my 5-Pack Fantasy Sleepers as well as my Must Start/Must Sit pick for the week. So this will be either an article ranting and raving about how awesome I am or me talking about how I enjoyed a long, emotional shower cry Sunday Night.

Week 4 was really insane. Forte broke out of his slump, McCoy had his 2nd straight single-digit performance, Eli Manning looked like Peyton and Matt Asiata scored not once, not twice but three times this week. Speaking of McCoy, could someone wake him up please, I have way too much stock in him to be treading water week to week.

Alright lets dive right into my 5-Pack Fantasy Sleepers for Week 4

Tom Brady – Ummmmmmmmm yeah. Let’s not talk about this one folks.

Matt Asiata – 100 total yards and 3 TDs – My man Asiata just killed it this week!!!!! Although his job is probably in jeopardy with how good McKinnon looked but still LOVED this matchup and going forward I think I like anyone who is rushing against that Falcons D.

Jeremy Maclin – 5 catches 68 yards – Can we get a bonus for great catches? The price just didn’t end up being worth it this week.

Owen Daniels – 4 catches 43 yards – This was pretty solid value. He was one of the cheapest TE’s and unless you spent big on Graham, he wasn’t awful.

Lions D – 17 points 2 turnovers 2 sacks – They weren’t fantastic but they did well enough to be a solid play for me this week.

Overall: Asiata provided amazing value and the Lions D was good as well but other than that just a crap shoot of MEHness this week.

Now let’s dig into my Start/Sit Hit’s and Misses

I breakdown my list into 3 sections, Hits (Guys who made me look good), Misses (Guys who made me look bad) & the Meh Group (They weren’t hits but they surely didn’t miss).

Must Start Hit’s

Philip Rivers – 377 yards and 3 TDs – He came in and did his job like he should have. Great play this week.

Ahmad Bradshaw – 52 yards and a TD – That makes it 3 straight games with a receiving TD. The TD really saved what would’ve been a lackluster day for him.

Charges D – 14 points 3 sacks 3 turnovers – Job well done.

Must Start Misses

Antonio Gates – 3 catches 30 yards – I guess you can’t win them all in this matchup. Gates was 5th in the pecking order in targets.

The Meh Group

Michael Crabtree – 5 catches 43 yards – 9 PPR points? 4.3 standard points? MEH!

Must Sit Hit’s

Joquie Bell/ Reggie Bush – 104 total yards – This was a real no brainer for me. Jets run D is legit and proved so but shutting both of these guys down.

Greg Olsen – 2 catches 30 yards – I hated this matchup for him this week and even late he really couldn’t get it going when the team was down big.

Panthers D – 38 points 0 turnovers 0 sacks – This is not the same defense it was last year.

Must Sit Misses

Vincent Jackson – 3 catches 32 yards 1 TD – NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! A TD catch with 7 seconds left really ruined this for me.

 

Overall: Overall it was a pretty good week. Gates/Crabs/Vjax were my only enemies this week, outside of that looks like everyone did their part for me.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!

 

Fantasy Hockey: Late Round Sleepers

The fantasy definition of “sleeper” is an under-the-radar draft pick with a lot of potential. Every year, there are several players that you kick yourself for allowing to slip past you. It happens to us all. We forget about the trade or signing that sets a player up in a perfect situation, or a young player ready to make the big leap from 30-35 points into the 55-60 range. Bottom line? Do your homework!

Here are five I’m keeping a close eye on in the coming days:

Patric Hornqvist, RW (Penguins): Talk about leaving the Nashville outhouse and entering the Pittsburgh penthouse! Hornqvist has been underrated in fantasy for the last several years because of playing in the offensive hockey version of Siberia known as Nashville. Hornqvist is projected to play on a line centered by Evgeni Malkin, and in all likelihood, play on Pittsburgh’s #1 power play unit. For a player that has scored 35% of his career points on the man advantage, the former Predator could be in for the best season of his career. Look for Hornqvist to blow his single-season career high of 53 points completely out of the water. Oh yeah, he plays with a little sandpaper too, so he’s got a legit shot at 50 PIM. My projection: 33 goals, 35 assists, +15, 20 PPP, 245 SOG, 38 PIM

Loui Eriksson, LW (Bruins): Someone will slide very comfortably into Jarome Iginla’s open wing spot next to David Krejci and Milan Lucic, and who better for the job than the slick, 29 year-old Swedish winger who is only two years removed from a streak of four consecutive 25-goal seasons and three straight 70-point campaigns? He missed more than 20 games this past season with injuries, including a nasty concussion courtesy of Brooks Orpik. A healthy season from Loui could result in a possible return to the 70-point range. Eriksson has fantasy steal written all over him, so draft the winger in the ninth round and beyond in standard drafts. My projection: 28 goals, 38 assists, +25, 13 PPP, 185 SOG

Chris Stewart, RW (Sabres): Remember him? Players like Stewart are extremely rare in fantasy hockey: 50+ point and 125+ PIM potential. Stewart fell way out of favor in St. Louis under Ken Hitchcock and was shipped to Buffalo. His arrival in Buffalo was to a rudderless ship, and his fantasy value plummeted accordingly. New season, new start, Stewart has big power forward upside, and that can be very tempting for fantasy owners if he is on his game. Depending on linemates (projected to play with Matt Moulson and Tyler Eniss on Sabres’ top line), Stewart is a low-risk, high-reward investment at the end of your draft. Another important factor for Stewart heading into 2014-15: he’s an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Those three letters, when put in acronym form for professional athletes, means monster performance = monster contract. Pair Stewart’s abilities with his contract status, and very few NHL players have the boom-or-bust capability like Stewart. My projection: 27 goals, 25 assists, -7, 13 PPP, 115 PIM, 185 SOG

Christian Erhoff, D (Penguins): Another new addition to the Penguins’ lineup (Like Hornqvist) that will see a nice jump in fantasy value due to an address change. I think we can all agree Pittsburgh is not Buffalo; for that reason, Erhoff should see a substantial bump right across the board in all statistical categories. Now toss in the potential to play on a top pairing with Kris Letang and also see significant time on the Pens’ #1 power play unit, and the 32 year-old German becomes a very attractive pick for your fantasy blueline. Draft him anywhere in rounds 12-14 and watch him blossom into a top-20 fantasy rearguard. My projection: 13 G, 36 Assists, +5, 17 PPP, 42 PIM, 174 SOG

HoltbyBraden Holtby, G (Capitals): What, you thought I was gonna forget to include a goalie in my sleeper picks? Not a chance! New Caps’ head coach Barry Trotz has officially handed the #1 backstop job to Holtby, and at 25, he is poised to take control of it this year and several more. Another promising sign for Holtby was the hiring of goalie coach Mitch Korn, who was the Predators’ goaltending coach for the past 16 years alongside Trotz. Korn has a way with goalies and should be able to get Holtby back on track. The overall commitment to team defense from Trotz and his staff can only help Holtby return to his 2012-13 season of a .920 Saves Percentage. He finished last season as the 30th ranked fantasy goalie; that will not happen this year. Look to draft him anywhere around the 10th round, and sit back and enjoy his climb into fantasy hockey’s top 15 goalies. My projection: 36 wins, .920 SV%, 4 Shutouts, 2.52 GAA

Statistical credits: ESPN.com, CapGeek.com
Photo cred: isportsweb.com, bleachereport.com, gettyimages.com, USAtoday.com and CSNwashington.com

Derek Gibson is The Sports Script’s resident fantasy hockey guru. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Extra_Attacker!

Waiver Wire Wizardry: Pickups for Week 5

Manning Face
Sure, Eli Manning makes a lot of strange faces but he’s coming off a 300 yard, 4-touchdown performance against the rival ‘Skins. Is he worth a look?

Quarterback:

Eli Manning (47% Y!): He’s always had the weapons to do it but just couldn’t put it together for the first three weeks. On Thursday night, Manning showed a lot of improvement and that he seems to be understanding the new West Coast offense put in place during the offseason. Throwing for 300 yards, 4 TD and rushing for another score is a huge improvement over what he had done the first 3 weeks of the season (674 yards, 5 TD, 4 picks). Having Victor Cruz, Larry Donnell, Rashad Jennings, Reuben Randle and potentially Odell Beckham (might debut this week) is certainly a good set of weapons for Manning looking ahead. Now that Manning seems to be putting it all together, he is definitely worth a roster spot for QB needy teams in the coming weeks. Don’t expect these kinds of monster weeks over the rest of the year as he’s faced weak defensive units but he could be a solid bye week filler option in the future.

Teddy Bridgewater (13% Y!): Teddy Football? I like it. Finally Bridgewater was given the starting job and led the Vikings to a victory over the Falcons, who had destroyed the Buccaneers the week prior. Yes, the Falcons have a very weak defense, but Bridgewater flashed his skills during the game – throwing for over 300 yards while rushing for a score. He seemed to connect with Jarius Wright, who spend a lot of time with Bridgewater on the practice squad. Bridgewater could be even more dangerous in the coming weeks as the Vikings (hopefully figure out that they need to get the speedy Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in the offense. Bridgewater did suffer a sprained ankle in the 4th quarter of Sunday’s game but is expected to play Thursday night against a beatable Green Bay secondary.

Running Back:

Jerick McKinnon (16% Y!): When Adrian Peterson was suspended, a lot of people (myself included) thought that McKinnon would take over as the lead back. This has not yet been the case. Minnesota has used Matt Asiata heavily since the Peterson suspension. However, McKinnon was given 18 carries on Sunday, turning them in to 135 yards. McKinnon has shown over and over again that he is the superior back and sooner rather than later, the Vikings will realize that. Asiata had all 3 TD on the ground Sunday, but that could change quickly as he is better suited as a passing-down tailback. Asiata has a 3.38 YPC so far through 4 games (47 carries for 159 yards) while McKinnon has a 6.17 YPC (23 carries for 142 yards). The window to grab McKinnon is quickly closing.

Justin Forsett (41% Y!): Forsett was used as the primary tailback on Sunday as Bernard Pierce was active but not given a touch. Lorenzo Taliaferro was the backup runner. Pierce seems to have fallen out of favor with the Ravens, no matter what the coaching staff says. Forsett has been very reliable for Baltimore so far as both a runner and receiver. He has a 5.8 YPC (44 for 255) and 16 receptions through four games this season. Taliaferro is going to experience growing pains, as he did Sunday. Forsett is simply the more experienced halfback right now and seems to be in good graces with the Ravens, unlike Pierce. Forsett is a surefire FLEX option, with the potential for RB2 upside some weeks. He needs to be owned in all formats as the Ravens seem committed to using him as the primary running back in the coming weeks.

Bishop Sankey (56% Y!): Entering the season, there was never a question who the most talented back on the Titans was; Bishop Sankey. He has yet to be given the keys to the car through four games and been able to really lead this backfield in touches. Once Sankey corrects his minor issues he should be capable of taking over lead duties for the remainder of the season. He rushed 6 times for 34 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, performing much better than any other of the mediocre Titans halfbacks. Unfortunately, Sankey didn’t play at all in the 1st half and that shows that Tennessee isn’t ready to give him the outright starting job. Whisenhunt should quickly realize that Sankey is their best option in the backfield, especially with a career backup at QB. The Titans will rely on the run more than ever, and Sankey should only see his carries increase moving forward. Scoop him up before he finally does breakout. It’s coming.

Wide Receiver:

Eddie Royal (23% Y!): Is it deja vu all over again? Didn’t we see this out of Royal last year? Back-to-back 2 touchdown games have put Royal squarely on the waiver wire pickup map. There are few reasons that while this streak won’t continue, he is a valuable WR4 for fantasy. When this happened last year, the Chargers running game was established with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead and San Diego turned to them a lot. Also, Rivers was still on the “recovery” path to becoming a great QB again and he basically force-fed Keenan Allen the ball. Now, Rivers is putting up an even better season than he did in his 2013 resurgance. Behind Allen and Gates, there is nobody else reliable for Rivers to throw to and Royal seems to still have some life in him and could be  serviceable down the stretch of bye weeks, with the running game sputtering. He will continue to have plays set up with chances to score. You could do worse at WR4.

Rueben Randle (62% Y!): It seems like the Giants offense is finally clicking now that they have had some real game experience in using thw West Coast play calling. Randle was a favorite to breakout this season but failed to do so the first few weeks with Manning sputtering. Now that Manning is looking much better, so is Randle. He was targeted 10 times, catching 8 balls for 88 yards on Sunday. You can expect to see more of those target numbers going forward. Randle is Eli’s third target in the passing game, so the targets should be there. Randle needs to be owned across the board. There’s upside here.

Tight End:

Larry Donnell (55% Y!): Donnell’s 7/54/3 line from this past week says it all. He’s not a fluke. Eli clearly has a connection with this man, especially near the end zone. The Giants’ tight end is my #1 waiver claim this week and one that can be ignored no longer. If he’s somehow still available in your league, change that. Last call here, folks.

Heath Miller (62% Y!): While he won’t put up 10 catches for 85 yards and a TD every week, those lucky enough to have Miller still on your waiver wire should go ahead and give him a look. He is Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to-guy and his #2 target after super-star Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh’s offense is clicking on all cylinders and Miller is a safe option. Running a more no-huddle oriented offense under Todd Haley enables the Steelers to make more plays, which is good for every member of the Steelers. Despite early-season woes for Miller and his fantasy owners, he showed on Sunday that he can be trusted with a big workload and should put up good enough numbers to make him a low-end to mid-tier TE1 in the coming weeks.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/pdvGnM

Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Script Profile: Matt Kemp

Kemp has flexed his muscle in the 2H and you should believe in it
Kemp has flexed his muscle in the 2nd half and you should believe

Evaluating a player’s performance as the season draws to a close is always interesting. I am not afraid to admit that I was very worried about Matt Kemp entering 2014 and owned zero shares of him this season. The risk/reward factor that was attached to taking him seemed a bit too steep, similar to Ryan Braun. After a sluggish first half, Kemp is gaining momentum not only for the Dodgers in the throes of a pennant race, but also for hardcore fantasy owners who are still paying attention.

Entering the 2014 season, Kemp was on average the 44th player selected in live drafts according to Fantasy Pros cumulative statistics and was taken at pick 55.6. On ESPN’s player rater today, Matt Kemp oddly enough ranks 44th overall with four games remaining in the regular season. Even though Kemp has been an MVP candidate, he seemed to be valued almost dead on by drafters this year. With an eye on the future, it is going to be interesting not only to see where he goes in early drafts for 2015, but how his projection for next year will be.

First, here is how his season looks so far:

Matt Kemp 2014: 148 G, 75 R, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 8 SB, 284/343/498

If I took his name off of here and put say, Yoenis Cespedes, the only surprise would be the batting average. This is a solid season but not one that would make owners reach in drafts for the next season. But this is Matt Kemp and his name still means something in fantasy. If you are still paying attention to baseball, you would realize that his first and second half splits tell an interesting story:

Matt Kemp 1H: 86 G, 38 R, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, 269/330/430
Matt Kemp 2H: 62 G, 37 R, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 3 SB, 303/360/589

What really catches my eye is the difference in production between the first and second halves. Not only is there is a jump in Kemp’s slugging percentage, but more importantly in his OBP, home runs and RBI. Being realistic, it is hard to imagine Kemp ever stealing more than twenty bases in a season again. Since his career year in 2011 with 40 steals, he has not played over 140 games until this year and the stolen bases seem to be the one area he is declining. However, if his power numbers continue to surge with health, I think this is a tradeoff that fantasy owners will palate due to the dearth of power in baseball across the board. As important as the splits above are, can they be sustained?

Kemp’s 1H: ISO – .161, BABIP – .349, wRC+ – 117, wOBA – .336
Kemp’s 2H: ISO – .286, BABIP – .335, wRC+ – 164, wOBA – .404
Kemp’s Career: ISO – .203, BABIP – .351, wRC+ – 127, wOBA – .361

Here is where things get a bit more interesting. It appears that Kemp could even improve a bit in his average for 2015 with his BABIP being a bit under his career numbers; not that .284 is a number to be disappointed in. What I want to see is how his jump in ISO (isolated power) over the second half can be projected for next year. Less running should keep Kemp healthier and allow him to blossom as a power hitter moving forward. It will be hard to determine if the second half is an outlier or a sneak preview of things to come as Kemp evolves as a player. For perspective, Kemp’s HR/FB % in 2014 is 19.4, while his career number is 16.5%. He’s reached as high as 21.4% and 21.7% in 2010 and 2011 respectively, however. Knowing he was not healthy the past season and a half may make Kemp a player that can be bought at a reasonable price in 2015. That is the rub. Where will Kemp be valued for next year? If he is being taken in the third round then he will provide great value like Giancarlo Stanton this year, but if Kemp makes his way into the early second round, then some of that value is mitigated.

After some great Twitter debate last night, I am comfortable projecting Kemp for between 32-35 home runs next year with 10-12 stolen bases. You cannot always get great value but if Kemp can maintain the power gains that he has shown in a healthy second half for next year, there may be a different MVP debate in 2015 between Kemp and Stanton instead of a pitcher. That would be nice. As I said in a tweet, I am more confident investing in Kemp 2K15 than I was Braun 2K14.

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/SiGjS5

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Be sure to check for our articles and more at FantasyRundown.com, your one stop shop for the best fantasy content from around the web!

The Fantasy Forecaster: Week 4 Start/Sit

Ricky was joined by fellow TSS writer Doug Moore and they discussed their Must Start/Must Sit for week 4

Here is the short version of the show just telling who we picked.

 Here is the show in full with explanation of why we picked each guy.

You can also subscribe/download on iTunes here. Leave a rating, don’t be shy!

Make sure to follow Ricky (@rickygangster) and Doug (@DMM0822) on Twitter!

The guys will be back next week (September 30)! Get your questions in on Twitter using the #TSS tag.

In The Crease: Goaltender Handcuffs

Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson, Ladanian Tomlinson/Michael Turner, Arian Foster/Ben Tate; the term “handcuff” is synonymous to fantasy football players. It is now no different in fantasy hockey. Gone are the days of goalies making 75 starts in a single season, it just does not happen anymore. The physical taxation on the body due to the butterfly position style necessitates that goalies get their proper rest, and having a competent backup is a must. Prior to your upcoming draft, let’s take a look at 3 potential goalie handcuff pairings that could bring you success throughout the season. Not only could you benefit from both goalies, but you may also be able to take advantage of great value in the mid to later rounds with both the starter and backup.

Brian Elliott/Jake Allen (St Louis): This is the perfect example of a handcuffing situation that could be a big hit this season. The veteran Elliott and the up and coming youngster Allen. Elliott will be the starter, coming off a great year with a 1.96 GAA and .922 SV%, but he is best served in slightly better than small sample sizes. His career high in starts is 48 in 2009-10 with Ottawa; the 2014-15 St Louis Blues are a far superior team to that Senators squad, as they bring back essentially the same lineup from last year’s 111 point team (add in strong two-way possession center Paul Stastny). If Elliott gets 45-50 starts, look for a slight regression in his SV% (career of .911), but the wins will be there as well as excellent shutout opportunities; in the last 3 years, he has 16 shutouts in 81 starts, better than 1 in every 5 starts.  The 24-year-old Allen earned AHL Goalie of the Year honors in 2013-14 while playing for AHL Chicago, where he went 33-16-0 with a 2.03 GAA and .927 save percentage. His numbers were predictably less impressive in a 15-game cameo with the Blues in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, but he’s developed significantly since then and should make for a good spot start option most any time he’s guaranteed to be in the net.

Handcuff Potential: This is a 5-handcuff goldmine; the Blues should win anywhere from 47-52 games. Draft both with confidence of those numbers, plus chip in 8-10 team shutouts and this handcuff pair is well worth it.

Ben Scrivens/Victor Fasth (Edmonton): Everyone in the fantasy hockey community is well aware of Ben Scrivens and possibly the greatest fantasy start ever:

However, Scrivens is much more than just a one-hit wonder. He’s a quality goalie with a career .917 SV%. The problem for him and Fasth will be the stigma of playing for Edmonton, an abysmal possession team that most nights seemed to have almost no structure in their defensive end. Compare Scriv Master B’s statistical splits with Edmonton and the Kings:

Team:               GS:            GAA:                 SV:               SV%:

LA                      15             1.97                 432                  .931

EDM                  20             3.01                 679                  .916

Yes, LA is the defensive-minded and advanced statistical possession team Edmonton’s front office only dreams of being, but from a Yahoo! standard scoring perspective, Scrivens is actually not a bad, late-round option. He averaged seeing 28 shots/game for the Kings, and 34 shots/game for the Oilers. Take out the 59 save gem, and it’s still 32 per outing. So, he will see plenty of rubber regardless, and the Oilers, believe it or not, should be much-improved in their own zone, adding possession darling Mark Fayne on the blueline. Their Corsi numbers should improve from 28th in the league to somewhere in the low 20’s, which could mean a slight dip in shots on goal, but the win total for the team could see a spike from last years paltry 29. Scrivens has potential for 20-25 wins.

Victor Fasth is a definite wild card heading into 2014-15. He came into the NHL later than most goaltenders, but has shown plenty of talent and poise. After pushing Jonas Hiller for a starting job in his rookie season with Anaheim, Fasth dealt with injuries before being traded to the Oilers in 2013-14. He played only seven games in net for the Oilers, but put up better numbers than Ben Scrivens (2.73 GAA and .914 SV%). At 32, Fasth should expect to see 30-35 starts and could potentially beat out Scrivens. The two will battle for the starting gig, and could end up in a timeshare.

Handcuff Potential: Both will see their fair share of rubber regardless of who is playing, and fantasy value comes into play only if  the Oilers become a much better defensive team. Both should be available some time after round 10, so the gamble may be worth while.

Frederick Andersen/John Gibson (Anaheim): This another high-profile goaltending duo that warrants careful monitoring during training camp. Both Andersen and competitor Gibson ended up surpassing incumbent Jonas Hiller on the depth chart for the Ducks during the postseason, but Andersen suffered an MCL sprain in round 2 against the Kings that allowed Gibson to leave the lasting impression (3-0, 1.33 GAA .954 SV% in regular season action & 2-2/2.59/.919 vs LA). Andersen, however was nearly as good as Gibson over a much larger sample of last season (20-5-0 with a 2.29 GAA and .923 save percentage). The greater amount of experience confers an early advantage to Andersen in the job battle, but whomever opens the season as the No. 1 goalie will largely earn the gig based on training camp performance. Gibson is the future, and if you can, draft/stash him in keeper formats, but Andersen has done nothing to convince me he won’t be fighting for a starting gig with the Ducks this season. And, based on his rookie numbers as Jonas Hiller’s backup this past season, he deserves a shot.

The Ducks’ coaching staff may just have to choose their ‘tender based on mask creativity; Gibson (left) and Anderson (right).

Gibson MaskAnderson Mask

Handcuff Potential: This battle is right up there comparable to St. Louis, based on Anaheim being a superb regular season team that had 116 points last year and added Ryan Kesler. The only red flag to me is that Andersen could very well seize the starting gig and see 57-62 starts, leaving Gibson as a true backup. But if you can get Andersen — and Gibson for that matter — late enough in a draft as a No. 3 and No. 4 goaltender, you could hit a fantasy goldmine should one emerge over the other.

Other Potential Duos:

Robin Lehner/Craig Anderson, Ottawa

Anton Khudobin/Cam Ward, Carolina

Jonathan Bernier/James Reimer, Toronto (Aren’t there always goaltending issues in Toronto?)

Marc-Andre Fluery/Thomas Greiss, Pittsburgh (Keep an eye out on this one)

Antti Niemi/Alex Stalock, San Jose (Just like in Pittsburgh, the longtime starter could be unseated)

Good luck!

Statistical credits: thehockeynews.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/0Kk4n8 (Gibson mask), http://goo.gl/xp11HU (Anderson mask)

Derek Gibson is The Sports Script’s resident fantasy hockey guru. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Extra_Attacker!

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 4

I’ve been asked countless times why shouldn’t I just roll with one defense all season? Fair question. I usually respond with a question.

Why would I pick just one?

Picking one defense is like going to the same diner every week. Sometimes the food will be great, other times it will be just OK, and rarely, it may even be vom-worthy. Trust me, even the best defenses lay an egg at some point during the season. Playing weekly matchups allows the owner to spend their draft picks on impact offensive contributors. The math has been done, streaming defenses properly nets you top-5 defensive production over the course of a full season without having to waste a high pick on Seattle’s 12th man, for example.

So how does the restaurant analogy come full circle when it comes to streaming defenses? Streaming defenses is like going to a new restaurant every week. Variety is fun! The wait times might be long at the hot place in town but the restaurant (or defense) with the best value might be wide open for the taking. I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between a packed restaurant with high expectations or a smaller restaurant with local owners, better deals, and a chance at amazing food, I know where I am going.

In standard formats, only three of the top 10 defenses (Patriots, Bengals, Panthers) are 100% owned. The other 7? Texans (58.2%), Falcons (9.2%), Bears (8.9%), Bills (43.9%), Lions (8.8%), Vikings (2.2%) and Eagles (7%). Three weeks is a small sample, but when 3 of the bottom 4 units are universally owned, something needs to change.

How did I do last week?

The Chargers allowed only 10 points to the Bills and got to EJ Manuel three times. In total they scored 9 fantasy points in standard, almost as many as the 100% owned Seattle defense has scored all season. The Cowboys didn’t get past the Rams offensive line all game to sack the QB but they did have two interceptions, one fumble recovery and a defensive TD; good for 12 points. Not bad for a defense that is 4% owned and is considered one of the worst in football. The Texans were my flop of the week. I thought they would be all over Eli and the Giants. Instead, they allowed 30 points, only sacked Eli once and scored just three fantasy points. This week they have the Bills, but I wasn’t impressed with them last week. I will be looking for a better matchup than that. The Indianapolis Colts on the other hand left you happier than a kid in a candy store. Indy allowed 17 points to the Jags, with two picks, one fumble recovery and a TD. They also recorded 4 sacks and are currently 14.5% owned. Finally, the Patriots (now 100% owned after waivers last week) disappointed, with only one pick and no sacks against the Raiders. This matchup was supposed to be better than prom night for the New England Patriots but instead they were held to just six fantasy points. Still overall, the Patriots are currently the number one fantasy defense after three weeks.

Convinced? Join the party. Below are defensive options whom are widely available. You should be able to pick them up in the majority of leagues. Good luck in week 4!

Week 4 Targets:

San Diego Chargers: The first thing I do when writing this is to see which team is playing Jacksonville. Ding ding ding! It’s San Diego’s turn. The Jaguars with Bortles under center may be a different team but every opposing defense through three weeks has scored at least 14 fantasy points! I will take my chances with the San Diego Chargers. Not only are the Chargers a team that likes to sack opposing QB (at least two sacks in every matchup this year) but the Jaguars have a terrible offensive line. In three games, Jaguars QB’s have already been sacked 17 times, including 10 times in week 2 by Washington. I expect San Diego to attack Bortles (if he starts) and get to him at least 5 times.

Indianapolis Colts: Again, the Colts show up, partly because of their defensive play, but also because of their schedule. This week, the Colts get the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have allowed multiple sacks all three weeks and Jake Locker has also thrown two picks in each of the past two games. Indy is a safe pick for some points.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Coming off a great Sunday night performance against Carolina, the Steelers are at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. Along with 7 sacks given up in three weeks, the Bucs have trouble holding on to the rock. Opposing defenses already have five lost fumbles, and McCown has thrown an interception in every game this season. The Steelers should have a nice home-cooked defensive feast in week 4.

Chicago Bears: If you look at who Chicago plays this weekend, you might think I am crazy. Chicago is my surprise pick of the week. The Bears host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this week. That being said, the Packers offensive line is struggling through three weeks and also giving up lots of sacks. Opposing defenses have gotten to Rodgers 9 times thus far and the Bears have 8 sacks of their own. Rodgers might get his yards, but I think they will pressure him enough early to at least leave you with a positive fantasy performance when the day comes to an end. Only 8.9% owned right now so they should be available in your fantasy league.

Remember that while going to the same restaurant might be a tradition every week, at some point you are going to get sick and tired of the same food. Try new places, take risks, and try some places that might not look pretty from the outside. Sometimes, those places are the ones with the best food.

Have a great week!

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/8k7DDm

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

Waiver Wire Wizardry: Pickups for Week 4

Quarterback:

Kirk Cousins (48% Y!): As mentioned last week, Cousins is a great QB2 add. He torched a poor Eagles secondary for over 400 yards and 3 scores in week 3. Could he be this season’s Nick Foles? Seems so. With Jay Gruden now calling the shots on offense, Cousins can sit back in a pocket-style offense and toss the rock to his plethora of weapons. He’s a great add with the bye weeks upon us. Cousins has a chance to shine.

Blake Bortles (5% Y!): It finally happened, Blake Bortles is the Jaguars’ starting QB. After two downright horrid games from Chad Henne, something had to give. At halftime, Gus Bradley had no choice but to bench Henne and start Bortles. When Blake took over, he threw for over 220 yards and a TD in one half. Granted, it was mostly garbage time against the Colts, but it’s clear who the better signal caller is. Bortles will be the starter moving forward with the potential to boost the Jaguars offense substantially. Bortles is definitely worth a flier.

Running Back:

Lorenzo Taliaferro (7% Y!): Finally! The best back in this committee may get his shot. Taliaferro didn’t disappoint as the complementary back to Justin Forsett as Bernard Pierce was inactive with a thigh injury. He was given a healthy amount of touches with 18 carries, gaining 91 yards and a TD. That is good enough for 5 YPC on the day and could really put pressure on Justin Forsett and Bernard Pierce for touches in the very near future. This is a muddled backfield but by far Taliaferro is the most talented of the three and going forward needs to be owned in all formats. Go scoop him up while you still have the chance.

Donald Brown (50% Y!): Wow, injury after injury to the San Diego backfield. Ryan Matthews will miss several more weeks and Danny Woodhead will not be back until 2015, leaving Donald Brown as the de facto starter. He is in line for a ton of touches, and despite only gaining 2 yards per tote last week, still had 31 carries in the afternoon. He’s my #1 waiver scoop this week, as he is assured volume in the carries department in the coming weeks. Go get him.

LeGarrette Blount (20% Y!): The Steelers blew out Carolina on Sunday, and I was impressed by Pittsburgh’s offensive line, they straight up beat the Panther front four. Both LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount both rushed for over 100 yards in the game. The Steeler run game looks dangerous right now. There is no doubt that Bell is the top back, but with how much the black and gold like to run the ball, Blount is ownable  in most leagues and would be the beneficiary should something happen to LeVeon.

Wide Receiver:

Allen Robinson (2% Y!): Bortles taking over the play calling for Jacksonville is an instant boost to all of their wideouts. Robinson had 10 targets, hauling in 7 of them for 79 yards. There’s a chance that we can put this stat line on repeat moving forward. Robinson was a very talented WR prospect coming out of Penn State. Even once their recieiving core is healthy, Robinson looks like he’ll be in the plans. He and Bortles obviously have a connection. I see him as a mid-tier WR4 right now with a lot of room to grow.

Jeremy Kerley (3% Y!): Kerley had 11 targets, hauling in 7 catches for 81 yards and a TD. He seemed to be a favorite of Geno Smith’s, especially after Eric Decker went down with a re-aggravation of his hamstring injury. Kerley should be the number 1 option in New York if Decker is forced to miss any time, making him a must add across the board. They will play it safe with the former Bronco, so Kerley may be the go to guy for gang green in the coming weeks. He is a high-end WR4/low-end WR3 for next week’s game against the weak Detroit secondary.

Hakeem Nicks (42% Y!): Nicks is owned in too few leagues. If you remember, Hakeem didn’t score at all last season. He’s found pay dirt twice already this season. He may not be the deep threat he once was, but he is still just 26 years old and is getting a lot of looks in the red zone for the Colts. In a pass-first offense, you want to own Nicks. The Indianapolis running backs have failed to impress through three weeks. Further, TY Hilton suffered an injury in week 3 which would put Nicks in line for a ton of looks. If Hilton is out, Nicks becomes a nice play in week 4.

Tight End:

With Dennis Pitta done for 2014, Owen Daniels is a must-add.
With Dennis Pitta done for 2014, Owen Daniels is a must-add.

Owen Daniels (27% Y!): Daniels only had one catch on Sunday, but the big news here is that fellow-tight end Dennis Pitta will miss the remainder of the season with yet another hip dislocation. Daniels stands in line to benefit big time here, as he has a past with OC Gary Kubiak. Everyone knows that Kubiak will find ways for Daniels to get the ball and he could be a guy who is a TD-threat every week, making him a valuable TE2 that could potentially turn into low-end TE1. But for now, after the Pitta injury, Daniels needs to be owned as a TE2 with potential to do more.

Niles Paul (44% Y!): As I pointed out last week, Niles Paul is going to be a good target for Kirk Cousins to throw to and he proved that again in week 3. Paul got 9 targets, and caught 6 of them for 68 yards. Another solid week in the books for Paul, who could be the starting TE for a while as Jordan Reed doesn’t seem to be coming back any time soon. He is producing low-end TE1 stats right now and could keep that up for the foreseeable future.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/puvzpc

Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Ricky’s Week 4 5-Pack Fantasy Sleepers

Each week, Ricky Valero will unleash his 5-pack of fantasy sleepers for the upcoming week. These players are going to make for great value plays while you construct your weekly DFS lineups.

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For season-long fantasy football chatter, follow Ricky on Twitter @rickygangster!