I'm of the opinion that in fantasy football you don't need to spend an early round draft pick on a signal caller. Thus far I think that overall strategical position has been shown to be a good direction to have taken in the 2012 season as a handful of cheap options on draft day are now looked at as QB1's while another group of guys who were drafted highly haven't lived up to expectations thus far. We tend to fear older runners a bit, an in general I would agree with that position, but there have been a couple of guys with some miles on the odometer who are having solid seasons this year. At the wide receiver position we'll take a look at three men who have put up good numbers and ask you to guess who they are. Finally, at the tight end spot, if you don't have one of the top-3 names at the position does it really matter who you are starting on a weekly basis?
Kyle Elfrink an I have long been pushing on our radio show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (you can find show times below) for more than two years now that drafting a QB in the first couple round of a draft is foolish. Certainly the stability of guys like Brady, Brees and Rodgers gives you an extreme feeling of comfort, but the truth of the matter is that (A) you can win without an elite quarterback and (B) there are always a handful of QBs who end up as QB1's despite a low draft day cost. Some examples.
*ADP courtesy of Mock Draft Central.
Robert Griffin III (#4 overall, ADP 11th): Barely drafted as a starter in many leagues, the rookie has had a terrific rookie season leaving him 4th at the position in points. However, Fred Davis is done for the year and it looks like Pierre Garcon (foot) might be joining him soon. Given the lack of weapons around him, and his relatively poor efforts in his last two games (29.8 total points when his average game this season is 24.3 points), we may have seen the best that he has to offer this year.
Andrew Luck (#7 overall, ADP 15th): On pace for roughly 4,700 yards passing which would be an NFL rookie record. Surprisingly he's on pace for only 18 passing scores but he's also on pace for nine rushing scores as well. Can it be expected that the rushing scores will continue at that rate? I think you know the answer to that question. His 362 pass attempts are he fifth most in football as the Colts just keep throwing and throwing.
Carson Palmer (#9 overall, ADP 17th): A spotty defense combined with an offense without its lead back has helped to push Palmer to a whole lotta passing. Five times this season Palmer has thrown at least 45 passes in a game, and six times he has thrown for at least 290 yards. He's the #2 quarterback in fantasy football the past five weeks (he's tossed eight scores in his last three games and has thrown for 782 yards the past two weeks).
Andy Dalton (#10 overall, ADP 20th): Threw for four scores in Week 10, and also had his first game without an interception this season. Still not a fan of the 20 interceptions he is on pace to throw or the fact that while he's averaging 259 passing yards a game that he's failed to reach that mark in four of his last six outings.
Josh Freeman (#12 overall, ADP 19th): The last five weeks of the season he has been the top QB in fantasy football (Aaron Rodgers is averaging more points per contest but he had a Bye in Week 10). I still worry about Freeman since he has completed 20 passes in a game just twice this season and he's failed to reach 265 yards passing the past three weeks, but his run of 13 scores and one interception the last five games is about as impressive as it gets.
Meanwhile, the following QBs have struggled this season.
Eli Manning (#18 overall, ADP 7th): The Giants head into the Bye in desperate need of rediscovering themselves. Manning's arm is sore according to reports (even though he denies this), and his performance of late has been dreadful, and that's not even a strong enough adjective really. Over his last four outings he has one TD pass and he's averaging 177 passing yards in his last three games.
Philip Rivers (#21 overall, ADP 8th): Keeps making bad decisions and bad throws. He's on pace for a solid 27 passing scores, but we're also looking at 21 interceptions and just 3,920 passing yards. Really misses Vincent Jackson.
Jay Cutler (#25 overall, ADP 14th): Concussed yet again, reports suggest he has suffered at least six concussions in his career. Seems unlikely to play in Week 11.
Will you change your strategy in 2013?
Since Week 6 of the NFL season Chris Johnson (107.4) is trailing only Doug Martin (142.8) and Adrian Peterson (126.4) in fantasy points by a runner in a PPR setup. On the year CJ2K is up to 8th at the RB position. By the by... the last five weeks Doug Martin has been so out of control that he's more than doubled the point total of Ray Rice (69.2) and LeSean McCoy (69.0).
Everyone keeps waiting for Frank Gore to slow down. Got news for you, he isn't. Gore is the 11th ranked runner in the game right now and his 15.33 point per game mark is better than that of Jamaal Charles (15.02). After a hiccup in Week 3 (36 yards rushing), Gore has rebounded to run for an average of 94 yards a week the last three times on the field, a wee bit better than his 83.7 YPC mark this season. Gore has also started to see his number called a bit more frequently in the passing game as he's averaged 3.25 receptions a game the past four weeks. As a result he's already bettered his total of 17 receptions last season with 19 this year.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been predictably terrible with the Bengals this season (I did predict an effort like this in the preseason which is why I can refer to him in this manner). Not only has he lost two fumbles after failing to turn the ball over in four seasons with the Patriots, he's been terrible on a per carry basis with a 3.4 YPC mark, the worst of his career. But at least he's scoring touchdowns, right? Oh shoot, he's not doing that either. BJGE has a total of three scores putting him on pace for five scores this season. That wouldn't even be halfway to his average of 12 rushing scores the past two seasons.
Michael Turner was embarrassing in Week 10 with 13 carries for 15 yards against the awful Saints. Blame Turner all you want, and criticism is fair, but what about that Falcons' offensive line that couldn't stop Saints from hitting Turner in the backfield? They deserve their fair share of the blame. Turner hasn't been anything special this year, as predicted, but he is currently the 21st most valuable runner in PPR setups. He's also run the ball for more yards than Steven Jackson, Ryan Mathews and Darren McFadden, while his four touchdowns on the ground, he also has one receiving, give him five total scores which is the same total as Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris. Turner is far from exciting and not likely to pick things up in the second half of the season, but he's still a passable low level RB2/flex option as long as the Falcons keep giving him the football.
No receiver in football has more yards after the catch than Percy Harvin (531) who has a massive advantage over Wes Welker (393). Moreover, there are only six receivers in football who have half as many yards after the catch as Harvin, a truly shocking fact. Welker's teammate, Brandon Lloyd, is the league leader in receptions for a player who doesn't have triple-digit yards after the catch. Lloyd has 42 receptions and just 99 YAC. One other note. Reggie Wayne leads football with 69 receptions, seven more than Mr. Harvin. However, even if Wayne took his next four receptions for 80 YAC each time he would still fall behind Harvin for the YAC lead as Wayne has just 193 YAC.
WHO AM I?
(1) I'm the 10th ranked receiver in football this season in terms of points produced, per game, in a PPR setup. The only time I failed to record at least 11 points in a game this season was in the game that I was injured. I've only scored twice this season so obviously I get a lot of my points through my reception total (I've caught at least five passes in each of my full games this season). I just returned to action and caught 11 balls for 102 yards in Week 10. I'm Danny Amendola.
(2) The last six weeks I'm the 17th wide receiver in football in a PPR setup. Even so, I bet no one views me as one of the top-27 wideouts in football even though I'm ranked 27th this season at the wide receiver position. In on pace for a career best 78 receptions. I'm on pace for a career best 907 yards. I'm on pace for a career best seven touchdowns. I'm a former first round draft pick. I play on the West Coast. I'm Michael Crabtree of the 49ers.
(3) The last three weeks there are only five receivers in football who have more fantasy points than me. I'm one of only three wideouts who has produced at least 15 points in each of Weeks 8, 9 & 10 (the others are Brandon Marshall and Reggie Wayne). I've hauled in four touchdown receptions in three weeks which has enabled me to put up big numbers despite the fact that I've caught just 12 passes the past three weeks, never once going for more than 55 yards. Oh yeah, I've also scored five TDs in my last five games. I'm Sidney Rice.
Here's the deal with the tight end position. Either you have one of the elites, or you're just like everyone else. Well, that's not quite true but it's pretty close. Let's investigate by looking at the players point total per game in a PPR.
Elite: Tony Gonzalez (17.63), Jimmy Graham (17.54), Rob Gronkowski (17.23)
Impressive: Jason Witten (14.50), Owen Daniels (14.35), Heath Miller (13.79), Greg Olsen (12.30)
The 10's (scoring 10 points, and change, a game): Aaron Hernandez, Antonio Gates, Brandon Pettigrew, Vernon Davis, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph, Scott Chandler
The 9's: Brent Celek, Martellus Bennett, Dustin Keller
If you don't have one of the top seven guys at the position there are literally 10 players who are scoring somewhere from 9.4 to 10.95 points a week. Ten. If you don't have one of the elites you could actually, and probably successfully, stream tight ends and have success. Amazing.
Given the above, how many tight ends have produced at least 10 points each game this season? Zero. Not a single tight end has gone for 10 points each week. Tony Gonzalez has missed three of the past four weeks. Gronkowski has been held to fewer than eight points twice (Week 3 and 5). Graham came the closest as has undershot that total only once, Week 5 when he was injured.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9p-12a EDT. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account Twitter account.