Crystal Ball Week 10 2018

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

One of The Beatles more somber hits is the tune “Yesterday”, which describes how things can suddenly shift overnight, and what once seemed like constant peace of mind can be so easily shattered. The opening lyrics read:

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Not it looks as though they’re here to stay. Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be. There’s a shadow hanging over me. Oh, yesterday came suddenly”.

In the course of a few days, Fantasy owners with A.J. Green or Chris Carson on their team are now suddenly dealing with major holes down the home stretch of the season. Yesterday it seemed that all was going swimmingly with both options – Green was averaging over six receptions for nearly 100 yards in each of the past four games, and Carson was coming off of his best performance of the year against the Detroit Lions. Though neither injury is expected to result in an I.R. move, the sudden loss of a low-end WR1 and high-end RB2 can’t be emphasized enough. These setbacks hurt.

In the case of Green, the “silver lining” is that his toe injury doesn’t require surgery, a diagnosis that was the result of a consultation with noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. Adam Schefter confirmed that Green will need “at least” two games of rest to let the injury heal, when the team will come back and reexamine his status. Owners should read that two games is the floor here, and a lingering pain problem could easily result in additional time lost. With Andy Dalton’s favorite target now on the shelf, Tyler Boyd will be asked to become the de-facto “X” option, and the hope is that John Ross and Josh Malone will see some of the leftover targets.

Owners scrambling to add Ross need to understand that he comes with major risk on two fronts. First, he has a lengthy injury history since joining the league, participating in only eight games in his first two seasons. Second, he is still a very raw talent with track-star speed, but his knowledge and comfortability with the route tree is a concern. Through analyzing game film of his preseason action and in-game snaps, it is evident that Ross gives up on routes where he isn’t the primary target, and he relies upon his raw athleticism to win battles, rather than technique. I’d be more open to endorsing his pickup if Green’s injury lasted for a longer timespan, or if his practice reports resulted in positive news. I’d recommend giving Paul Dehner Jr (@PaulDehnerjr) from the Cincinnati Enquirer a follow for all of the latest news and insight on how the target share will shake out for the Bengals.

Flipping the page to Carson, there is both a short-term and long-term worry caused by his most recent groin/hip/thigh/leg injury that occurred in the first half of Week 9 against the Los Angeles Chargers. There is currently no timetable provided by coach Pete Carroll on Carson (what a shocker, I know), but he has been described as “sore” and isn’t expected to participate in practices until at least Friday. Assuming that he misses Week 10 against the St.Louis Rams, Mike Davis will resume lead duties for the team. A capable receiver who will inherit a major workload, Davis is at minimum a solid RB2 choice while Carson recovers. Rashaad Penny will see the occasional snap or target, but it will be mostly to give Davis a breather when necessary – he isn’t a true threat to steal away any touches, despite his first-round pedigree.

With those situations covered, here are some additional questions that I’ve been responding to on Twitter (@Roto_Wizard) after the conclusion of Week 9.

Q: Good call regarding Ito Smith! I picked him up in my 10-team league off the waiver wire two weeks ago and he has been a solid FLEX option for me. Will the hype train continue? Or get derailed?
A: At this point Fantasy owners should have a good idea about the workload that Smith will receive each week, assuming that the Atlanta Falcons can stick to their gamescript and stay competitive. Smith is expected to receive 10-12 rushing attempts and 2-3 targets in the passing game each week, and will be used around the end zone as well. He is more of an inside the tackles runner than Coleman, and has actually been underutilized in the passing game so far. His floor is a FLEX option in 10-12 team leagues, but his value would skyrocket if the oft-injured Tevin Coleman suffered an injury.

Q: I know that you touched on the Philadelphia Eagles running back situation a few articles ago, but I managed to grab Josh Adams this week when the team was on bye. Do you anticipate that he will see the bulk of carries moving forward in that backfield? Or is he more of just a stash option at this point?
A: Nothing has changed regarding the way that I view the Eagles backfield, and it is a situation that offers limited upside as it currently stands. It is obvious that the team wishes to use several players at the position, depending upon down, distance and game flow. Corey Clement is still the presumed starter while the game is competitive, with Wendell Smallwood being the passing-down and hurry-up option, and Adams in to close out the game. I understand why owners would want to add him preemptively, but I would be very hesitant to use him this week if possible. As a long-term investment or keeper/dynasty league stash he makes all the sense in the world to endorse. I just can’t go “all in” quite yet on saying that owners should drop more than 10-15 percent of their FAAB to acquire him, given the other bodies remaining there.

Q: Elijah McGuire warranted a “meh” from you before, has that changed at all?
A: Nope.

Q: With Golden Tate shipped off to Philadelphia, Theo Riddick came back to action and caught seven passes in Week 9. Will he keep this up?
A: I expect Riddick to be used as the slot receiver for this team, and stands to benefit the most from the absence of Tate – more so than Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones. Riddick is a nice pickup in deeper PPR formats as a high-floor but low ceiling option that should generate 10-14 points per week. He won’t see goal line carries due to LeGarrette Blount and typically won’t out-touch Kerryon Johnson either. That said, the Detroit Lions will be playing from behind more often than not, and he has always been a favorite outlet for Matthew Stafford to use up and down the field on third downs. At this point in his career we know what Riddick is, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Q: Is Marquez Valdes-Scantling the No.1 waiver wire claim this week?
A: At this point “MVS” should be scooped up in any remaining league where he is available, as his play during the absence of Randall Cobb and previously healthy Geronimo Allison earned him the trust of Aaron Rodgers. Allison has now been placed on I.R. and doesn’t present a threat to his targets any longer, and Cobb is noticeably slower than in prior years. During this past week when Cobb was active, MVS played significantly more snaps than Cobb, and also drew the same number of targets. His large frame makes him an ideal down-field presence, and at 6’4 206 lbs. Fantasy owners shouldn’t ignore how fast he is either. The WR2 role in Green Bay has long borne fruit for PPR points, and starting opposite Davante Adams is a major plus. In leagues where MVS isn’t already owned, I’d encourage owners to drop 25-30 percent of their total FAAB to acquire him, and he is definitely worthy of a top claim.

Q: Good call on not trusting DeVante Parker!
A: One of my favorite quotes comes from Winston Churchill – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Nothing new here to see with Parker. With Kenny Stills back healthy I can’t envision him being an every-week starter, especially with Brock Osweiler behind the helm.

Q: Keke Coutee cost me majorly in Week 9 with being a late-scratch in the week. Any updates on his injury status?
A: The only bit of new information that owners have on Coutee’s hamstring injury comes from the player himself, who stated “Until I’m 100 percent, I won’t be back out there. We are taking it day by day, I’m doing a little better each day. I’m definitely taking a little time off during the bye week”. This doesn’t sound promising, but he will have another full week of rest before the Houston Texans next game on November 18th at the Washington Redskins. Demaryius Thomas played well enough in his debut to make Coutee nothing more than a PPR FLEX option upon his return to action.

Q: Adam Humphries has been on fire since Fitzpatrick was renamed the starting quarterback in Tampa Bay, outperforming both Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. This is a fluke, right?
A: Not particularly. Humphries is an above-average slot receiver that commands plenty of volume with Fitzmagic under center. Evans will still see plenty of targets, but Jackson is a boom-or-bust deep threat option. When looking to move the ball up and down the field in the passing game, it will be either Evans or Humphries doing the heavy lifting, with O.J. Howard used sparingly. I don’t want to assume that he will score two touchdowns each week, but his floor of five receptions and 50 yards each week is certainly appealing.

Q: You’ve been pretty solid in the past with your DST and kicker calls, even though they are mainly streaming options. Anyone I should keep an eye out for this week?
A: The Los Angeles Chargers top my recommendations this week, and are owned in about 50 percent of leagues or so. If available, take advantage of their matchup against the Oakland Raiders. As for a kicker? Robbie Gould is a solid option against the New York Giants this week. The Giants allow plenty of yards but have been fickle around the red zone, and the San Francisco 49ers don’t have many passing options other than George Kittle.