Crystal Ball Week 4 2018

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

I’ll be brutally honest with you. I have many faults. I’m a stressball. I hardly ever say no to a friend, no matter what the circumstances. My cleaning tendencies would make “Monk” proud. I have an addictive personality. But above all else, I’m predictable, and a planner.

I enjoy structure and loathe unpredictability. My Fantasy teams (both baseball and football) tend to mirror that way of thinking. Often times I will draft the more stable veteran over the hotshot rookie, knowing that I can boost projections with a safer floor. You’ll find plenty of Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady and Golden Tate shares across my teams. Ho-hum, I know. Though I’m not particularly flashy when it comes to drafting, this mantra has served me well in the past and leads to less variance in outcomes and a high probability of success.

Planning ahead, an oft-times foreign concept to many Fantasy owners, is a strategy that I find to be terribly underutilized. Now that we have reached Week 4 in the regular season and teams have begun their dreaded bye weeks, it will be more difficult to construct a roster that will put up a predictable number of points. FLEX slots will present a challenge to many teams that didn’t draft deep enough rosters, and FAAB bidding/waiver wire claims will become ever more crucial.

A popular strategy with both experts and novices alike is to stream team defenses and kickers on a week-to-week basis. Having drafted teams that have spent an extra dollar or two initially versus mid-season on these positions I’ll say that either option holds merit, but given the prevalence of streaming I did want to reinforce the notion of planning not only for the short-term, but several weeks in advance. Owners that opt to bid on and rotate their defense and kicker slots will typically rely upon projections provided by their league provider. The majority of owners will place a bid on the top option for a few dollars (hopefully successfully making the acquisition) and repeat the process each and every week. This strategy has many shortcomings. Not only are owners relying upon pure guesses from their websites (right now I’m staring at ESPN’s idea that Ryan Succop will somehow score 7.5 points, which is an impossibility), they are also commonly only submitting bids on the top options against numerous other teams. An unsuccessful claim leads to undue stress later on in the week to acquire an alternative option, and the constant rotation week in and week out will also drain valuable FAAB, prohibiting them from being competitive with FLEX options or players being thrust into roles due to injuries.

With constant turnover at these two positions, don’t be afraid to spend an extra dollar or two to pick up a longer-term solution. As an example, in my friends and family league the Cleveland Browns defense was dropped after a weak showing against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. Knowing not only that they would face the New York Jets on short rest Week 3, but weaker offenses in the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens immediately after, coupled with a late bye (Week 11), I was comfortable putting in a little extra money for them. In that same league I chose to acquire Sam Ficken, the replacement kicker for the Los Angeles Rams. Knowing full well the potency of this team’s offense and their ability to move the ball on anyone else in the league, I was fine adding him to my roster while Greg Zuerlein recovers from his groin injury. Having both of those positions comfortably taken care of for a longer duration than a week gives me the ability to both save FAAB elsewhere, but concentrate on adding other talent that may have been dropped. When looking to rotate either of these two commonly contested slots, I’d strongly encourage owners to view the big-term picture. Plan ahead, it will help!

Q: The New York Giants offense looked surprisingly competent against the Houston Texans in Week 3. Any chance that means that Eli Manning is worth a pickup?
A: Amazing what a few extra seconds of protection will do for a quarterback, now isn’t it. After an eternity of waiting for epic bust Erick Flowers to turn things around, the team benched the right tackle in favor of UDFA Chad Wheeler. The result was immediate. Slant routes to Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard were easier to complete, and Saquon Barkley actually had the ability to run to the right side of the line finally. Even with stud tight end Evan Engram sidelined a week or two with a sprained MCL, the Giants have plenty of talent to make Manning relevant in 12-team formats. The Giants square off against the New Orleans Saints in Week 4, a defense that was just torched by Matt Ryan a week ago. For owners reeling after losing Jimmy Garoppolo after a torn ACL, Manning is a worthy pickup.

Q: Alright, sounds good. If Baker Mayfield is available too, is he a better option than Manning?
A: Remember how I said that I value consistency and predictability? Mayfield is an elite talent to be sure, and his debut victory comeback against the New York Jets proved as much. That said, the Giants offensive weapons are much better than the Cleveland Browns. Carlos Hyde has been phenomenal so far, and I’d expect the team to continue giving him 25 or more total touches each week and relying upon their stout defense. Mayfield has an obvious connection with both Antonio Callaway and David Njoku, but he is still a rookie quarterback that will go through his fair share of growing pains. Mayfield remains as a QB2 in my rankings.

Q: Why do the Baltimore Ravens hate Alex Collins so much? Does this mean that Javorius Allen is the starter moving forward?
A: I wouldn’t say that the Ravens hate Collins per se, but it is clear that they are comfortable giving plenty of touches to Allen each week, especially at the goal line. Similar to last season, Allen’s statistics are boosted by his receiving skills, and his floor of 3-4 receptions each week gives his owners a nice floor to work with. That said, this split will still be maddening between the two players, and the presence of one caps the others upside. With both Allen and Collins currently healthy, neither will be more than a FLEX option recommendation on a week to week basis.

Q: Finish this sentence. Calvin Ridley is worth a FAAB bid of ___________ ?
A: Rather than giving owners a static dollar figure to work with, I’ll provide a percentage instead. To acquire him off of a three-touchdown performance, I would expect a minimum bid of 25-30 percent to be realistic. More aggressive leagues will warrant a higher price of up to 45-50 percent instead. Make no mistake, his name being mentioned here isn’t a fluke. As the season has progressed it is clear that Ridley’s talent is winning him the positional battle with Mohammed Sanu, and his snap counts will rise. He deserves to be owned and started in all formats.

Q: You mentioned Antonio Callaway before. Is he the better pickup over Rashard Higgins?
A: Absolutely. Owners can expect a much higher ceiling from Callaway, as evidenced by his 10 targets from Week 3. He is a legitimate downfield threat akin to DeSean Jackson or Mike Williams. With that in mind, attempts downfield come with a significantly decreased completion percentage, so Callaway’s performance from week to week will widely fluctuate.

Q: I drafted Jack Doyle with the expectation that he would be a solid PPR option at tight end. He has been horrible! Would you drop him for either Dallas Goedert or Tyler Eifert? And which one?
A: Without question, Doyle is one of the biggest disappointments of the 2018 season to date. Drafted by many owners in 10 or 12-team leagues as their starting tight end, Doyle’s “best” game came in Week 1, when he caught seven passes for 60 yards, but lost end zone targets to Eric Ebron and committed a costly fumble. Doyle further sustained a hip injury that led to him putting up a giant donut in Week 3. Would I cut him for either of those players? Eifert of the two, if I had my choice. The Cincinnati Bengals allowed him to run more routes and have additional touches (finally) in Week 3, and Eifert remains one of the best red-zone threats in the league. Should A.J. Green miss any time with the groin injury that he suffered last week, expect Eifert to absorb plenty of additional touches. Goedert is a fine player in his own right and was my second-favorite rookie at the position drafted outside of Hayden Hurst this year. With Carson Wentz back as the starter it is evident that Goedert will be involved, but remains the second fiddle to Zach Ertz. Alshon Jeffery figures to return in Week 4, further cutting into his upside. He is an add only in the deepest of keeper or dynasty formats, and is unlikely to repeat the success he had in Week 3.

Q; Is it safe to drop Robby Anderson? He was supposed to be my WR2!!! GAH!!
A: Unfortunately for his owners… yes. Anderson’s value has greatly diminished with Sam Darnold behind center, as the New York Jets have favored short passes with high completion rates rather than shots downfield. This shift in gameplan has led to Quincy Enunwa and Bilal Powell seeing plenty of targets, with Anderson fighting for scraps. Further, Anderson lost a fumble in Week 3 and then sustained a facial injury. Unless the team is forced to start Josh McCown for any given reason, Anderson is safe to drop in all formats.

Q: What about Dak Prescott?
A: Him as well. Prescott offers little to no upside at quarterback in a position where there are a solid 15-20 better options. The entire Dallas Cowboys offense goes through Ezekiel Elliott, and he is the only player that I would currently roster on this team in any format. Prescott has failed to top 170 passing yards in each of his first three games, and has just two touchdowns on the season. Even with a minor contribution of rushing yards, there is not enough here to warrant a roster slot.