fantasy football


237 Yds | 4 TDs | 0 INT | 115.8 QB Rating

That’s Nick Foles’ line from last Sunday’s monster performance against the New York Giants. As bad as the Giants are, any game where a QB can put up numbers like that is impressive. And while no one’s ready to hand over the MVP award to Foles after last week, he has earned a hell of a lot more respect than he was afforded over the past few years. (Or weeks.) Going into the championship week for most fantasy football leagues, Foles is – shockingly – a legitimate fantasy asset. His ownership has jumped 24.1% since Sunday’s breakout game.

Cam Newton was dreadful last year. His completion percentage was an abysmal 52.9% and he threw only 19 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. He struggled mightily in the run game too, as he went from ten rushing TDs and an average of 4.8 YPC in 2015 to 4.0 YPC and only five touchdowns in 2016. But in 2017, Cam has returned to form. Despite losing Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr., he’s been significantly more effective in both the passing and rushing games. He’s completing 60.3% of his passes and has thrown for 21 touchdowns while rushing for five more. While his total passing yardage is down from last year, he’s been far more efficient in 2017 and the result is that he’s now the fourth rated QB in terms of PPGAR. A lot of people, myself included, counted Cam out after last year’s Super Bowl hangover. However, he’s definitely back and seems poised to continue his success, perhaps even winning some fantasy football league championships in Week 16.

When Josh McCown signed with the New York Jets this year, most figured he’d be a punching bag for opposing teams as the Jets willingly tanked their way to the top of a 2018 draft class that has all sorts of potential. The Jets’ offense seemed doomed. It would have been a pleasant surprise if McCown had been serviceable. That’s not even close to how things unfolded. Shockingly, McCown has been – brace yourself – really good. He’s the 7th rated QB in terms of PPGAR, ahead of more respected names like Matt Stafford, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. Even more incredible, he’s been doing it without any star power at receiver other than Robby Anderson who, it should be mentioned, was completely anonymous going into this season.

If McCown is the surprise of the season at QB then Alvin Kamara is the big story at RB. Through Week 13 , it’s honestly incredible how productive Kamara continues to be. In the last six games, Kamara has averaged 27.4 PPG. That’s six more PPG than Le’Veon Bell. Not bad I say. Not bad at all.

To Everyone Who Didn’t Make The Playoffs,

Dude, that sucks. I feel your pain. You just spent the past three months analyzing every skill position in football and now that the playoffs – the most exciting time of the year! – have arrived, you’re on the outside looking in. Try not to think about the number of hours you spent researching which New Orleans Saint RB to draft1 and debating whether or not you should pick up Robby Anderson.2 Even worse, it’s not like the people who made it into the playoffs at your expense even deserve their success, right? They totally lucked their way in by drafting players like Carson Wentz, Adam Thielen and Todd Gurley II.3 Who could have seen that coming?

Through Week 11, Julio Jones was the 9th rated WR in terms of PPGAR. He had 13.5 PPG and averaged only 2.5 more PPG than replacement level players. Then, without warning, Julio did that thing he does every year and straight up murdered an opposing secondary. There were funerals and everything. The eulogies were all about how Jones had 50 points in a single game.1

Jones’ owners have been (not so) patiently waiting for this kind of explosion and in its wake Julio is now the 3rd rated WR in terms of PPGAR. He’s a total stud and it looks like he and the Falcons are hitting their stride at the right time. Look for him to continue his offensive outburst despite the fact he’ll play pretty outstanding secondaries for the remainder of the season, with the exception of Week 15, when he looks to annihilate the Bucs again. God help those poor bastards.

For years, Jimmy Graham was consistently a top three TE for New Orleans. When he was traded to Seattle in 2015, the expectation was that Graham would fit in right away, providing the big red zone target that Russell Wilson had been sorely lacking. Two and a half years later, Graham has finally fulfilled that promise. He’s got seven touchdowns so far this season, all of which have come in the last six games. While their running game has failed the Seahawks, their passing game has been fantastic and Graham has been a big reason for it. Wilson is now the second rated QB in PPGAR, Doug Baldwin is the ninth best WR and Graham is fourth in the TE standings. That’s quite a bit of firepower on one offense. We’ll see if the Seahawks defense can at least be average without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor because, with this ridiculously good pass attack, that might be all Seattle needs for a playoff push.

The Saints are playing their best football in several years, despite the fact that Drew Brees is on pace to throw fewer than 30 touchdowns for the first time since 2007 and for fewer than 4,000 yards for the first time since 2005. The world was a lot different back in 2005 when our President was a bumbling orator, white female pop stars were trying to incorporate rap into their sound and North Korea was threatening to nuke America. Back then the Saints were just becoming the offense-only team that we’ve all come to love (for fantasy purposes, at least) over the last decade. It feels like every game they played finished 45-42 with Drew Brees passing for, like, 600 yards and six touchdowns. Now, with a vastly improved run game that includes two of the top ten players in terms of PPGAR, and a surprisingly stout defense, the Saints no longer have to rely so heavily on Brees. It looks like Sean Payton has finally realized that defense is more than just “what’s happening when Drew doesn’t have the ball.” Two years out from Rob Ryan’s reign of defensive ineptitude, the Saints look like a complete team on a mission.

Aside from that Saints RB duo, the rest of our top ten includes the usual suspects. DeAndre Hopkins, Leonard Fournette and Le’Veon Bell don’t seem to be falling out any time soon while Kareem Hunt looks like he may bounce back from a tough couple of weeks. In addition to posting fewer than 100 yards from scrimmage games in each of the last two weeks, Hunt is – somewhat surprisingly – entering this weeks’ contest against the Giants without having scored a touchdown in six weeks! That said, don’t be surprised if Hunt puts up huge numbers against a Giants team in a death spiral.

This week’s waiver candidates double as a legitimate starting lineup for a fantasy team in 2015. Boy, how the mighty adequate have fallen.

Dion Lewis, RB, NE – Owned in 38.6% of leagues

The human joystick is back, baby. Well, sort of. Over the past five weeks, New England running back Dion Lewis has seen his workload consistently rise. And while he’s still not putting up explosive numbers like he did two years ago, he’s getting more looks, which means he’s destined to blow up any game now, right? Right?

Darren McFadden, RB, DAL – Owned in 44.1% of leagues

Despite putting up a total of zero points so far in 2016, Run DMC is still owned in more than 44 percent of leagues, making him the least productive active player in fantasy football. That said, Zeke’s injunction failed and his suspension went into effect immediately earlier this week. As a result, McFadden’s value has skyrocketed. He’ll still be competing for carries with Alfred Morris, but McFadden should see an increased workload.

It wasn’t too long ago that this dude rushed for 1,089 yards.

Eric Ebron, TE, DET – Owned in 24.3% of leagues

Ebron might have bricks on the ends of his arms, but he’s still a starting TE1 and has a relatively weak schedule looking forward. Games against the Browns, the Bears and the Ravens all bode well for the struggling yet freakishly athletic TE.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, TB – Owned in 23.5% of leagues

Well folks, there’s no denying it now. The curse of Ryan Fitzpatrick is real. And he’s getting his first start of the season in Week 10 against his former team2 the New York Jets. He’s replacing Jameis Winston for at least one week, and even though it might be short-lived, Fitzpatrick’s matchup is a good one and he’s got some serious weapons on his side.

It looks like Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin are in the midst of their annual “where the fuck has this been all season?” scoring frenzy. They’ve both gone ballistic in their last few weeks and have quietly1 moved up the PPGAR ranks.

Down in Houston, Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller are still clinging to their high rankings but it’s only a matter of time before they fall off the map because, well, did you see how bad Tom Savage was last week? The guy even admitted he played like crap. (If you’re reading, I appreciate your honesty, Tom.)

Meanwhile, after Adrian Peterson’s departure, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are somehow making it work in a shared backfield in New Orleans with both runners now in the top 11 for RBs in terms of PPGAR. If they continue to put up numbers like this – as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman did for the 2016 Falcons – and the Saints’ surprisingly stalwart defense continues to play this well, New Orleans could make some noise down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Not hyperbole: the 2017 NFL trade deadline was the most exciting trade deadline in NFL history. Even as a few big trade rumors failed to come to fruition1 there was a flurry of activity including two trades – Jay Ajayi to the Eagles and Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills – that came out of nowhere and that could prove to be very meaningful to the remainder of both the NFL and fantasy football seasons.

In light of all this game changing activity, our team of analysts set out to determine which trades were the best, which trades were the worst and which trades they wanted to see happen but didn’t.


Best Trade: Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco
Remember when San Francisco went, like, a century without ever having to worry about their quarterbacks? Well, that’s not the case anymore. Since 2004, the 49ers have had 13 different starting quarterbacks and only Alex Smith and Colin “Somehow I’m Still Not On A Team” Kaepernick have played an entire season for them in that span of time. Queue Jimmy. He might only have a total of 94 passes attempted in the NFL, but he’s already proven he’s a better option than the Blaine Gabberts, J.T. O’Sullivans and Trent Dilfers of the world. Holy God they’ve had some bad quarterbacks.

Worst Trade: Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo
Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor has all the talent in the world, but never seems to be, well, good. He finished last year as the eleventh ranked QB in fantasy scoring. And when Jordan Matthews went down early last month, things weren’t looking good for his 2017 prospects. But with the addition of Benjamin, Taylor’s got another deep threat that can complement Zay Jones’s speed and Brandon Tate’s random exceptional playmaking. The problem here is that the Bills don’t throw the ball often enough to give Benjamin any real opportunity. Buffalo ranks 9th in the NFL in pass yards per game and 0th in pass plays. Benjamin has talent but the Bills might not be able to capitalize on it.

Wish List: Martavis Bryant to any other team
Let’s face it, everyone is #TeamJuJu in the Bryant-JuJu dust-up, and clearly Bryant is feeling the heat. He missed last week’s game against the Detroit Lions and Smith-Schuster put on a show. Dude caught 7 balls for 193 yards, scored a touchdown, and won everyone’s heart with his heartwrenching stolen bike fiasco.


A post shared by JuJu Smith-Schuster (@juju) on

All things considered, Bryant’s looking like he’s gonna lose some targets going forward. He would have been much better served had he been moved to a team in need of a speedy deep threat. But who needs that?


Best Trade: Cleveland fails to trade for A.J. McCarron
Every week I write about the dumb things that happen in the NFL so naturally when I learned that the Cleveland Browns – the NFL’s foremost experts in incompetence – had botched a trade by fucking up the required paperwork, well, it just made my day. Part of what makes this disaster so spectacular is that not executing the deal – i.e. an absolute failure to complete Cleveland’s objective – is probably the best possible outcome for the Browns as far as roster construction is concerned. Sure McCarron looked pretty good in his extremely limited Bengals appearances, but he was playing behind a great line and surrounded by a ton of weapons. That’s, um, not the situation in Cleveland. And while McCarron – a former fifth round pick – would have been playing on a restricted tender next year, the second and third round draft picks Cleveland had planned to give up to get him would have been playing on, bear with me here, rookie contracts. I’ll take my chances with the rookies.

Worst Trade: Cleveland fails to trade for A.J. McCarron
Can we go back to the part where Cleveland lost out on this trade because they failed to execute basic league requirements? Then they appealed for an exception and were denied? It’s one thing to try and fail at acquiring a superstar but this is not that. McCarron is far from a sure thing – Cleveland’s long pursuit of Jimmy Garoppolo indicates that McCarron wasn’t even their first choice – but that they tried so hard to get him and then celebrated so much once they thought they had…I mean, this is pretty bleak for Cleveland. After decades of misery, they didn’t have much respectability to lose but what little they had is certainly gone now.

Wish List: Cleveland fails to trade for A.J. McCarron
There is nothing left to wish for. This debacle has everything I could ever want in an NFL trade: a flailing team desperately trying to trade valuable assets for an unknown quantity, an entire organization spiraling into self-parody and front office nerds celebrating so hard that they forget to do their paperwork. Front office nerds love their paperwork! It’s practically their defining characteristic. Think about how hard those nerds must have been celebrating! And still, however boisterous the Browns’ brouhaha, however fabulous their fete, know that their celebration paled in comparison to my unquenchable glee when I heard this ridiculous-ass story. Thank God for the Browns.


Best Trade: Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco
The 49ers – a QB black hole this year – acquire a clear cut #1 QB that has been waiting patiently behind the GOAT, Tom Brady. Jimmy G brings a spark to the Bay Area and this move will attract free agent weapons in the upcoming offseason. The 49ers were able to finally solidify this position of need and Garoppolo’s arrival should allow them to get back on their feet sooner rather than later.

Worst Trade: Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia
Ajayi was a disturbance in the Dolphins locker room and the franchise promptly sent him packing. Now, Ajayi is running behind an offensive line that has lost LT Jason Peters for the season. Ajayi will have to split carries with LeGarrette Blount and doesn’t offer much in the versatile passing scheme that the Eagles have flourished with this season.

Wish List: Jarvis Landry to a competent offense
Honestly, I would’ve like to have seen Jarvis Landry sent to a team that is willing to expand upon his skill set. Without Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins have had major issues at the QB position. Jay Cutler and Matt Moore simply have not been able to funnel the ball to Landry and his average YPC is a measly 8.0. Landry would’ve been a nice addition to any team in the playoff hunt and could’ve blown up even more in a pass heavy system. Instead, his value remains stagnant as he’s stuck in this anemic Miami offense.


Best Trade: Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo
I know, I know. This is such a 2015 pick. However, the Buffalo Bills are a top 10 red zone team this year without a true number one receiver. Perhaps Benjamin will enjoy a resurgence on a team that has actually been able to move the ball pretty well despite a lack of star power outside of LeSean McCoy. Tyrod Taylor, for all the criticism he receives, is actually a better of a passer than Cam Newton in terms of air yards per completion and AYD.2 Assuming he gets healthy, Benjamin instantly becomes the big playmaking number one receiver the Bills have needed.

Worst Trade: Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia
Jay Ajayi is a volume running back. In 2016, when Ajayi broke out, he averaged 18.6 rush attempts per game in a lead back role. He’s not going to get that in Philadelphia with LeGarrette Blount playing as well as he is. Had Ajayi been traded in the offseason, I would have liked this trade a lot more. Assuming he does take the lead role from Blount, he’ll be facing eight in the box around 35% of the time3 which is an awful lot higher than the 22% Ajayi saw in 2016.

Wish List: T.Y. Hilton to a team with a quarterback
I selfishly want this because I drafted Hilton with the anticipation that he’d get Andrew Luck back at some point. Alas, Luck is done for the year and Hilton is stuck with Jacoby Brissett passing to him. If last year’s leader in reception yards could have gotten traded to a team like New Orleans, Seattle or Kansas City he could have re-established himself as one of the better wide receivers in the league. That didn’t happen and now we’re stuck with another half season of Hilton chasing down errant passes and failing to put up the type of numbers he’s capable of.