Is Andy Dalton is the real deal? Fantasy Football Implications

Andy Dalton’s hair is not the only thing on fire, his game is pretty on point too. Dalton is currently the top scoring fantasy player, beating out notable names like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Andrew Luck. Dalton went undrafted in many leagues, and is currently still unowned in 18% of leagues, and remaining benched in 46% of leagues. Veteran QB’s like Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees aren’t playing up to snuff, and the new recruits, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota aren’t consistent fantasy producers. It would seem like Andy Dalton would be rising in the ranks of fantasy quarterbacks. So what is stopping managers from playing Dalton on a weekly basis?

I think it’s just name recognition. Fantasy players are more likely to play a big name like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees over someone like Andy Dalton. Even though Dalton has been putting up some serious numbers, the media doesn’t paint him as an elite quarterback. In spite of that Dalton is making some serious headway into building an MVP resume.  Only two other quarterbacks in NFL history have started 5-0 with at least 1,500 pass yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of at least five. Those signal-callers were Aaron Rodgers in 2011, and Peyton Manning in 2013. Both went on to win MVP honors in those respective seasons.

Through his last five games, Dalton has 11 touchdowns, 1,518 passing yards, and a 67.5-percent completion percentage. He’s also gained 55 yards rushing and rushed for two touchdowns. He’s surrounded by talent, and has the support of his team his coaching staff, and his fans. If you’re not betting on Dalton, you should be.

 

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The Pittsburgh Steelers Have Release Josh Scobee

Josh Scobee has learned the first rule of football. Don’t piss off Snoop dog.

I’m sure Scobee’s release doesn’t come as a shock to many. Josh Scobee has performed at a less than desirable level during his employment with The Steelers. He missed a field goal early in the season that left Head Coach Mike Tomlin, and The Steelers organization doubtful of their kicker’s potential. As a result Pittsburgh turned it’s eye instead to the two point conversion, and took more risks in the red zone. In the wake of a lackluster performance, Twitter has been less than kind.

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It was Scobee’s Thursday night performance that sealed his fate. Scobee missed two critical field goals from 40+ yards. As a direct response to his less than stellar performance, The Steelers chose to go for it on a fourth down in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. They failed to convert on the down. They went on to lose to the Ravens by three.

The Steelers have officially signed free agent Chris Boswell. Scobee finished his tenure with The Steelers making 6 of 7 extra points, and 6 of 10 field goals. It’s currently a hard time in the NFL for kickers.

Julius Thomas Injury Update

Julius Thomas and the Jacksonville coaching staff are still mum on a timetable for for the return of their pricey tight end. The Jaguars certainly didn’t expect for Thomas to be sidelined going into week four after signing the tight end in March to a five year $46 million dollar deal. Thomas has been dealing with a broken finger that he sustained on his only catch during The Jaguars preseason. He underwent surgery on September 2nd after his healing wasn’t progressing as the Jacksonville coaching staff would like. He was originally set to return in week four, but obviously that’s not going to happen. He has received a check up as recently as Tuesday which Thomas said was positive. “The good news [from the surgeon] was no bad news”. Coaching staff has speculated that he should be back in time for their London game against Buffalo Bills, October 25th.

In spite of not having played a single down of football and still having no set timeline for his return, Thomas is owned in over 55% of fantasy football leagues. Fantasy owners, and the Jacksonville coaching staff alike, are eager to see him take the field. The Jaguars are desperately in need of a offensive weapon. They are currently tied for 29th as the lowest scoring team in the NFL, ahead of only the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, fantasy owners have him stashed in a valuable roster spot, in the hopes that their sacrifice will pay off. Thomas was very successful in his last two seasons with the Denver Broncos where he averaged 54 receptions, an 11.8 YPC average, and 12 touchdowns. With the Jaguars desperate need of an offensive boost, it’s likely that once Thomas returns, he’ll put up strong fantasy numbers. At least this is what his owners are banking on. Expect his fantasy stock to rise as we get closer to week seven. My advice is to pick him up early week six if you have the roster space.

Cowboys Quarterback Brandon Weeden

The Cowboys are certainly missing Tony Romo right now. Brandon Weeden’s performance had some highs and some lows. On one hand he completed 20 out of 26 pass attempts for a 77% completion total. On another hand, he failed to find the endzone, and had majors problems moving the ball down the field after the second half. Part of what was holding Weeden back was the offensive strategy employed by The Cowboys. His hands were tied by short passes, and conservative play. This worked in the first half, but by the third quarter the Falcons had figured out the game plan. After that, it was just a mess. Weeden’s lone long look resulted in an interception so there may be a reason why the Cowboys coaching staff is holding onto the reins so tightly. Even though Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has professed his admiration for their new quarterback, it looks as if Jason Garrett has doubts.

The Cowboys are going to have to make a change. Either they start letting Weeden take some looks down the field, or they continue to lose games. If Weeden cracks under pressure next Sunday against the Saints, he’s getting sidelined in favor of former Bills quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel hasn’t been taking many snaps in practice, but I bet that will change this week.

What Happened to Sammy Watkins?

I started Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins week one, and I wasn’t the only one. Watkins had an impressive rookie campaign, knocking on the door of 1,000 yard and scoring six touchdowns. One a team with out many elite receiver options, Watkins was expected to shine early. Unfortunately for many fantasy players, he did not. In fact, he put up a big ol’ goose egg. Instead, it was preseason addition Percy Harvin who racked up the yards and fantasy points.

So what should we expect going forward? In my opinion, not much. While Watkins may have some outstanding games, as he’s a very talented player, I just don’t see him performing at a fantasy starter’s level consistently. While his talent is exceptional, he currently has two things holding him back; Tyrod Taylor and Rex Ryan.

While it’s true that Taylor’s week one performance was impressive (with a 73% completions, including six passes over 20 yards out of his 19 attempts) I doubt that will be the norm in Buffalo. In previous season where Taylor attempted more than five passes, his completion percentage average was 39%. Where Taylor will excel is with his legs, not his arm. In game one against the Indianapolis Colts he had 41 rushing yards. The Bills offensive line looks much improved from last season, which will benefit both Taylor and the Bills Rushers.

His biggest hinderance to his fantasy produciton however, is Head Coach, Rex Ryan. Ryan is known for two things; His killer defenses, and his ground and pound rushing game. Rex has been quoted as saying, “whatever you do best, we’re going to take away from you” in reference to his defensive philosophy. His love of the run game has never been a secret either. Want a cleverly inserted quote? “We prefer to ground and pound it. We’ll run fifty times a game if we can on you” -Rex Ryan. It’s just how he coaches, and how he prefers to run his team.

This week Watkins may surprise us against the New England Patriots. He’s currently predicted to score about eight points this week in standard leagues. My advice would be to wait for a break out game and and trade him for someone more reliable. If you’re dead set on keeping him, watch your defensive match ups, and play him when they’re favorable.

Arian Foster Injury Update: Foster Returns to Practice

Foster owners rejoice! We have our first Arian Foster practice spotting since suffering his groin injury back in August. So does this mean Spring is just around the corner?

While Foster’s participation is certainly good news for the Texan’s and his fantasy owners, it’s likely we won’t see him take the field for at least another week, and more likely two. Even so Foster is making good progress in his recovery. Originally it was thought that Foster’s groin injury, and subsequent surgery would have him sidelined for the majority of the season. The Houston Texan’s coaching staff seems motivated as well, with Coach Bill O’Brien saying he expects Foster back, “sooner rather than later”.

So when Foster returns, what sort of fantasy production can we expect to see? In seasons where Arian Foster participated in more than eight games, he averaged over 1,350 yards and 12 touchdowns. The most encouraging stat is that every season, even those where Foster missed multiple games due to injury, he never dropped below a 4.1 YPC average. The take away from this is that as long as Foster is on the field, he’s a fantasy producer.

The one area where we may expect less production from Foster is in the passing game. Last season Foster recorded 38 receptions, for five touchdowns. The Texans need a reliable runner. Anyone that watched the Texans last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs will agree. Alfred Blue just doesn’t cut it as an every down back. However, they don’t lack for passing targets. DeAndre Hopkins, Nate Washington, and Cecil Shorts III all look to contribute to the passing game. The addition of Nate Washington in particular as a possession receiver should really help take some strain off the running game, and off of Foster. The Texans are going to want to keep Foster healthy, and while they can’t cut out too many of his rushing possessions, they can cut back on passing possessions.

So maybe Foster doesn’t see as many receptions on passing downs. He will still produce impressive numbers on the ground, and is the go to guy for the Texans in the endzone. Even if Foster sees a passing reduction, he should remain a fantasy RB1, and produce for his owners every week.

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Ryan Mallett Named Houston Texans Starting Quarterback

While the Texans coaching staff are staying mum on any concrete decisions, many media outlets are reporting that Ryan Mallett has been named the Houston Texans starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Brian Hoyer was named the starter week one after a close preseason battle between the two. Mallett was pretty outspoken about how he felt about the decision. Mallett vented his frustration at a media conference, saying “’I’m disappointed. I don’t agree with it, but it’s for the best of the team, so I’m just going to wait till my turn gets called, and I mean at some point, it’s going to happen this year”. I guess he was right, though his opportunity has come quicker than even he imagined.

Hoyer failed to impress week one against the Kansas City Chiefs. He fumbled once, threw for 236 yards, had one touchdown, and one interception. Under his leadership the team managed only ten points in almost four quarters. Mallett was subbed in late in the fourth quarter where he managed to pass for 98 yards, including one touchdown. With him at the helm, the Texans were able to score twice, and almost rally back to beat the chiefs. It wasn’t just Mallet that looked good. With Mallett under center, primary receiver DeAndre Hopkins was finally able to shine, and the offense was finally able to get into a groove.

So what does this mean for the Texans? And what does it mean for fantasy players? I think that in both cases the answer is the same. Every player should see a boost in production with Mallett holding the reins, both on the field and in fantasy scoring. While I wouldn’t rush out just yet to claim Mallett off the waiver wire, I’m excited to see what he can bring to the Texans offense, and with the Houston Texans rushing game stalled due to the loss of running back Arian Foster, there should be plenty of passing action.  I listed wide receiver Nate Washington as one of my targets for the week two waiver wire, and I’m sticking by my guns. I think both Hopkins and Washington should see double digit points against the Carolina Panthers defense.