Crystal Ball Week 5 2018
Ask anyone in our field what they think of the term “Fantasy Expert”, and the immediate reaction will generally be to cringe. “Expert” implies that due to the amount of time that we spend ranking, preparing, researching and constructing our thoughts, that our results will continually outperform others.
Want the truth? The majority of all writers, radio personalities, editors and such are still prone to the same pitfalls as the average player. We will overspend on players that we really want on our teams. Some still get into bidding wars in auction drafts. Heck, I’ve even seen my fair share that won’t wait until the final rounds of a draft to grab a DST and kicker. We have the same information to work with as the “average Joe”. We follow beat reporters, watch RedZone and do our best to make informed predictions and pass along information to our followers.
No one’s word should be the golden standard or the absolute truth. I’ve seen plenty of folks on Twitter ask the exact same question to other writers, in the hopes of getting multiple opinions. Many times, we are correct about “touts” (players that we are backing to breakout), but we will have our fair share of duds as well. Several years ago, I went out of my way to ensure that David Johnson was added by all of my followers. I praised his name from the rooftops in a number of articles, radio segments and television appearances. I’ll be the first one to pat myself on the back for that one. Yet I’ve also endorsed players that have fallen flat, most recently Marlon Mack of the Indianapolis Colts or Josh Gordon of the New England Patriots. Talent and opportunity do not always translate to immediate success, much to our chagrin.
In my “Diehards After Dark” Twitter Q&A session last night, I was able to sit down and provide my thoughts on a number of players. To my estimation, this week had the most viable number of waiver-wire relevant additions of the 2018-19 season to date, and owners dealing with injuries or underperforming studs would do well to spend a pick or some FAAB. Some of these players will hit and carry owners to a championship. I’m sure that others will be a flash in the pan. With that in mind, take my thoughts on each one at face value. It is an opinion, similar to some of my colleagues. I’d much prefer the term “Analyst” to “Expert” moving forward, but it will be hard to shatter the old moniker. Regardless, here are my thoughts on a number of the most added players entering Week 5:
Blake Bortles – I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big Bortles supporter. Any player, especially a quarterback, that is reliant upon piling up statistics in second half garbage time to assist Fantasy owners will never receive a full endorsement from yours truly. That aside, the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be more confident letting Bortles control the offense than in years past. This may be largely in part due to the lingering hamstring injury that Leonard Fournette has been battling, but Bortles has averaged nearly 38 attempts per game. A reduction in turnovers has further enhanced his value, coupled with a stronger receiving core than in past seasons. I still don’t view him as a plug-and-play starting QB1 on a weekly basis, but as a bye-week fill in or spot start, owners could certainly do worse. The additional 20-30 rushing yards he will tack on each week further adds to his floor, and will compensate to some degree any mistakes.
FAAB Amount: $5-10/$100 budget
Joe Flacco – Similar to Bortles above, the formula is currently in place for the Baltimore Ravens to lean on their quarterback for victories. A mediocre running game has resulted in Flacco attempting nearly 43 passes each week, and he seems destined to repeat the number of passes back in 2016 when he led the league (672). The good news for Flacco owners? The additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown have paid immediate dividends, and the Ravens will also have their first-round tight end stud Hayden Hurst back this weekend. Flacco will still dink and dunk down the field to the tune of less than seven yards per attempt, but his overall numbers at the end of each game will make him a viable option for owners looking for a bandaid. He’s currently averaging nearly 315 passing yards and two touchdowns each week.
FAAB Amount: $5-10
(Going to skip over T.J. Yeldon due to his ownership percentage)
Ronald Jones – Meh. That more or less sums up my feelings about Jones. Look, is he worth a speculative add for a few dollars since he has the chance of inheriting a starting role in the NFL? Sure. Any starting RB deserves to be owned. Sadly, Jones has given little room for optimism since joining the league. Despite being picked 38th overall in the most recent draft, he is a total liability as a pass blocking back, and has averaged less than three yards per carry when given a chance this year. Peyton Barber’s struggles have provided Jones with an opportunity, but I am lukewarm at best about dropping any sort of healthy bid to acquire him. He would at best be a FLEX option upon the team’s return after their Week 5 bye.
FAAB Amount: $5-10
Mike Davis – Have I mentioned lately just how much I can’t stand Pete Carroll? Davis drew the start in Week 4 after Chris Carson was a surprise inactive, and rather than giving their first-round selection Rashad Penny an opportunity, the Seattle Seahawks instead chose to give Davis 25 total touches. I reached out to a number of beat writers that cover the team asking why this happened, and they said the Davis had more touches due to a “trust” that they had with him. I’m still baffled. Why spend the assets to acquire Penny in the first round when you are reluctant to ever use him? Carroll has confirmed that Davis earned a role in the offense moving forward, meaning that what was already a crowded situation will now resemble the Old Lay who Lived in a Shoe. Ugh.
FAAB Amount: $10-12
Keke Coutee – Owned in less than one percent of leagues entering Week 4, Coutee estimates to be the most-added player entering Week 5 due to his 11/109 line in the Houston Texans’ Week 4 win over the Colts. I spoke at length about how I viewed his rest of season outlook last night, but here is a quick synopsis. Coutee’s value is directly tied to the health status of Will Fuller. Evidence of that is how many targets he received after Fuller left on the first drive of the second half with a hamstring injury. Fuller has battled a number of injuries in the past, and this hamstring issue since the preseason. Now that Bruce Ellington is no longer blocking his way, Coutee could be this season’s DeeDee Westbrook. A 5’11, 180 lb. explosive talent that is dangerous in space, Coutee will see 5-8 targets with Fuller on the field and more than 10 with him out. As the Texans defense isn’t as stout as advertised and the team will be playing from behind more often than not, there is a lot to like here. Don’t expect a repeat of this last week, but he will fit in as a solid FLEX play in PPR formats.
FAAB Amount: $15-20
Taywan Taylor – After the surprise departure of Rishard Matthews, Taylor was thrust into starting duties behind Corey Davis and immediately produced in Week 4, catching 7-of-9 targets for 77 yards. A breakout star in the preseason, Taylor’s upside is similar of Coutee’s – being on the field as a possession-based option for an offense that struggles to run the ball. It is obvious that Taylor has the trust and eye of Marcus Mariota, and the Tennessee Titans coaching staff has been very vocal about his usage moving forward. He is another player that will be a solid FLEX option in standard leagues, and receives a bump-up in PPR formats.
FAAB Amount: $15-20
Taylor Gabriel – I’ve found it difficult to get aboard the Gabriel hype-train in prior years, as his skillset has long suggested that he is a niche player. We’ve seen this act before from Gabriel – a stretch of brilliance followed by a number of quiet games. Will this season be any different? Signs point to yes. This was the third week in a row that Gabriel has seen at least seven targets, and he was utilized much more down the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than seeing jet sweeps and short throws. At this point, we’ve likely seen his best and worst weeks of the season. His floor remains around the seven- or eight-point range in a PPR format but he has the chance of breaking a long touchdown in any given week. He already has 22 receptions in the early season, and previously his career high was 37 in his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns back in 2014. Be realistic with your expectations of Gabriel and realize that there is a wide variety of outcomes in any given week.
FAAB Amount: $5-10
Hayden Hurst – Can we just get it out of the way that this position has been absolutely brutal again in 2018? Injuries and underperformance have resulted in Jared Cook and Eric Ebron being considered as “top options”. Yeesh. Enter Hurst. By far the most talented tight end on the Baltimore Ravens, Hurst will immediately be thrust into a starting role that will have owners drooling in a PPR format. The Ravens already have 3 tight ends that surpassed the 100 yard receiving mark this year (Mark Andrews, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle), and their combined statistics would easily be within the top-5 at the position. View Hurst as Dennis Pitta 2.0 – a safety blanket for underneath routes and red zone targets in an offense that will need to throw to stay competitive. I’ve been pounding the Hurst drum for a while, so please don’t make me say “I told you so” later on!
FAAB Amount: $5-10