Friday, October 10, 2014

Last Minute Injury Replacements for Your Ailing Fantasy Team

So, you were sitting there on your couch, enjoying the first great Thursday Night Football game of the season, minding your own business, when the bad news hit. Your biggest fantasy star, your top pick, is officially ruled out for this week due to injury. Cue the panic. Four consensus first round fantasy choices: Calvin Johnson (ankle), A.J. Green (toe), Jimmy Graham (shoulder), and Montee Ball (groin), will all be out at least one game. As all fantasy owners know, the choice between one free agent or another could make or break your week,and one week can make or break your season. Don't worry, we're here to help. Stick to these guys, and you'll have your opponent slamming their phone against the sofa as he watches your point total skyrocket.

Jeremy Ross, WR, Detroit Lions

We're assuming that Detroit's No. 2 wide-out, Golden Tate, is already owned. If not, grab him immediately. Still, with the way the Lions sling the ball around, Jeremy Ross has some serious appeal this week. Since you've probably never heard of him, let's give a bit of background:

Despite not seeing the field much last season, Ross flashed his big play potential on special teams. He scored two return TDs, and finished near the top of the league in both kickoff and punt return average. Many thought that Ryan Broyles would come in and steal the Lions' No. 3 WR spot this year, but as the weeks go by, Ross, the best speed option on the team, has solidified his role in the offense.

In week 4 against the Jets, when Calvin Johnson was playing, Ross got behind the defense and hauled in a 59 yard TD. Without Calvin this week, QB Matt Stafford can still be expected to take a few deep shots against a mediocre Vikings' secondary. He's definitely a boom-or-bust kind of play, but there's a chance for a big day here.

Bonus Team Sleeper: Eric Ebron, TE, DET 

Mohamed Sanu, WR, CIN

This one is quite the obvious choice, but his production is hard to ignore. Sanu has been filling in as Cincinnati's No. 2 receiver all season, as Marvin Jones has missed the entire year to date with a foot injury. He's already racked up 455 yards and 2 TDs as a secondary target, so we can only imagine that he'll be the primary option with A.J. Green on the sidelines. 

Since coming into the league, Green has been near the top of the league in targets every season. On top of what Sanu would normally receive, we expect him to see at least half of the balls that would normally be thrown to Green. In addition, Bengals' TE Tyler Eifert is also out with an elbow injury. Cincinnati is expected to stick with a run-first offensive game-plan, but even so, they'll have to throw the ball at least 25 times. If Sanu can grab 10 targets, which is very much in the realm of possibility, he's a top tier option. 

Bonus Team Sleeper: Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

Another high-round pick, Montee Ball, went down with a serious looking groin injury on Sunday, leaving a void in the fantasy friendly Broncos' backfield. Peyton Manning’s running backs, from Marshall Faulk, to Edgerrin James, to Joseph Addai, to Knowshon Moreno, have all had huge seasons as the lead runner in a Peyton-led offense. So, who’s the next man up?

Ronnie Hillman has had an up-and-down NFL career so far. He’s been inactive more than he's been on the field through two-plus seasons, so it’s clear that the Broncos aren’t sold on him as a long-term piece. However, he soaked up 15 carries on Sunday after Ball departed in the third quarter. Hillman should get the first crack at RB for Denver, and the possibility of 15+ touches in that high-powered offense will make him an appealing option until Montee returns.

Bonus Team Sleeper: C.J. Anderson, RB, DEN

Daniel Fells, TE, New York Giants

Okay, we know this one is really a stretch, and may be geared more toward those in deep leagues, but hear us out. Jimmy Graham is hurt, AND the Saints are on a bye. It's well known that the TE pool this year is slim pickings, so if you need a fill-in for a couple of weeks, you're really looking for a guy who can find the end-zone and not ruin your odds of winning. Fells just may be your man.

Over the past few weeks, the hype behind Giants' starting TE Larry Donnell was outrageous. Why did Donnell really shine? Well, Eli Manning has finally figured out this new up-tempo offense, and is playing his best football in years. It's well known that when Eli is on his game, he loves his safety-blanket receivers over the middle. Again, Fells fits the mold. Though he does serve as the second-string TE, he's found the endzone in three straight weeks. The Giants match-up with Philadelphia this week, who field one of the weakest defenses in the NFL. Expect New York to be in the red zone early and often, so there's opportunity here.

In addition, with the injury to NYG RB Rashad Jennings, Eli may opt to throw more often in the red zone. Fells may only grab one or two catches on the night, but there's a strong chance that he finds pay-dirt. Desperate owners could do much worse than an eight point fantasy day from a fill-in tight end.

Bonus Positional Sleeper: Tim Wright, TE, NE

Check out the Schedule page in the SnapCall app to see which games we'll be covering! There will be action all day, starting with the 1:00 games, so don't miss it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fantasy Tips: Week 5 Starts and Sits

Bye weeks are in full swing, which means fantasy football start/sit decisions are even tougher this week. Have some tough calls on your lineup this week? Well, that’s why we’re here. We’ve parsed through the matchups and found a few must-starts and a couple must-sits that may prove decisive in this week!

Must-Start

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions

This isn’t a particularly great matchup for Bush and the Detroit running game, as the Bills allow just 72 yards on the ground. Nevertheless, this is all about opportunity for the shifty back from Southern California. His co-starter, Joique Bell, is sitting out this week due to a concussion suffered last week against the Jets. Moreover, Detroit’s third back, Theo Riddick, is sitting out as well with a sore hamstring.

So, that leaves Bush with undrafted free agent second-year player, George Winn, as the only real threat for carries. The former USC Trojan has received 15, 8, 18, and 16 touches through the first four weeks, so that’s not the problem. It’s the constant shuttling in and out of the lineup that has fantasy owners irritated. Well, on Sunday, Bush should be on the field for about 75-80% of the offensive snaps. He may not post great rushing numbers, but he’ll make some hay in the passing game.

Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans

The rookie out of the University of Washington was ticketed for a pretty sizable role when the Titans made him the first running back selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. After all, Tennessee had let go workhorse Chris Johnson, leaving slow-footed Shonn Greene and scat-back Dexter McCluster as the only other options in the backfield. Sankey’s ability to stay on the field for all three downs theoretically gave him the most fantasy football upside from the outset of the season.

Unfortunately, some head coaches are reluctant to play their rookies, especially at running back. Ken Whisenhunt has cited poor footwork for Sankey’s lack of playing time, but frankly, that’s a weak excuse. This rookie has produced 5.1 yards per carry on his 23 totes this season. Additionally, he has passing game chops, which Greene doesn’t have. That should help out banged up quarterback Jake Locker as he returns from injury. Whisenhunt is on record this week saying Sankey’s role is growing. He should see about 15 or more touches against the Browns today.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

Now that we’re four weeks into 2014, we can start tossing out recent production and focus on 2014 usage. Well, it’s starting to look pretty obvious that Houston’s first-round pick from 2013, DeAndre Hopkins, is looking like a better fantasy bet in 2014 than teammate Andre Johnson. Of course, Andre has been a fantasy football superstar for the better part of 10 years, but at 33 years old, father time is starting catch up.

Hopkins still has four fewer catches than his veteran teammate, but he has 30 more yards in the air, in addition to the 3-0 touchdown margin. He’s the lone downfield threat for Houston, but also runs crisp routes and is sure-handed, which leaves him as a threat from all over the field. With Johnson and Arian Foster being limited in practice this week, get Hopkins into your lineup for the Texas showdown with the Cowboys.

Must-Sit

DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins

This one should be a no-brainer. Monday night, the Seahawks head the nation’s capital for the first time since they won a 2012 Wild Card playoff game at FedEx Field. The Seahawks will have gone a full 15 days since they defeated the Broncos in Week 3. Granted, the Redskins would’ve had about 11 days since their Thursday Night Football drubbing at the hands of the Giants, but this is a poor spot for the Redskins.

Kirk Cousins looked miserable against the decent, but by no means dominant, New York secondary. So, how will he fare against a Legion of Boom that has had a bye week and a few more days to comb through the Week 4 film? The outlook looks terrible, that’s for sure. Against the Seahawks, Cousins will be forced to dink-and-dunk within about 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. If he doesn’t, it’ll be another turnover-filled evening. DJax may catch a couple short passes, but the long touchdown that owners will be clambering for may prove to be too elusive.

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

There’s a theme developing here, isn’t there? In truth, getting Morris going is really the only chance Washington has of putting a scare into Seattle on Monday night. They’ll need to pound the rock between the tackles early and often in an effort to keep Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense off the field. The problem is that the Seahawks are giving up just 72 yards/game on the ground and don’t figure to give much to respect to Cousins after his Thursday night performance

And stopping Wilson, Lynch, and company is really just a matter of how long you can hold them in check. The Redskins may slow “Beast Mode” early, as they’re only allowing 87 yards on the ground per game, but Wilson will carve up the porous Washington secondary. When the Seahawks inevitably jump out to a lead, Morris may not even see the field on offense. Jay Gruden loves Roy Helu as his passing down back, so even if Morris provides some thunder on the ground early on, he’s unlikely to get the volume needed to be a #1 fantasy RB this week.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints

This one qualifies as a bit of a questionable call, as the Tampa Bay secondary has been a disaster this season. Also, Drew Brees hasn’t looked like Drew Brees in 2014, which may change at home on Sunday. On the flip side, though, it’s possible for Brees and the Saints to pour it on vs. the Bucs with rookie Brandin Cooks not playing an extensive role.

New Orleans is not short on weapons in the passing game, with Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Pierre Thomas all commanding looks. Colston, in particular, has disappointed in 2014, but we have a hunch that this changes at the SuperDome on Sunday. Moreover, if the Saints are wiping the floor with their NFC South rivals, they may be left running the ball and killing the clock near the end of the game. It’s clearly a risk, but sit Cooks down this week.

The Sunday football party starts right at 1 PM ET. We’ll have five 1pm starts going off on SnapCall, so download SnapCall and come join the prediction fun during all the action!