Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings

I suppose there might be some people out there playing in Week 17, so I'll post my rankings below with three disclaimers:

1. These are very difficult to do this week, especially with so many teams resting players and trying some different things.  FantasyPros doesn't include Week 17 in the accuracy competition because there's just too much variance and most fantasy leagues don't play this week.

2. These rankings will change a TON from now until Sunday as we find out which players will be rested, inactive, etc.  So if you're using these for anything, check back around noon on Sunday for a final update.

3. There's a reason the vast majority of leagues don't include Week 17 in their fantasy playoffs.  I can't imagine having someone like Travis Kelce for an entire season only for him to sit in the most important week for fantasy because his real life team has nothing to play for.  If your league still includes Week 17, talk to your commish and get that changed ASAP.

So with that out of the way, let me just say that if you faced Alvin Kamara in Week 16 like I did in the championship in the main league I care about, I get it.  It stinks.  I put up the second most fantasy points this week of anyone in my league and lost to the guy who almost put up 200 fantasy points (with Kamara having over 1/4 of those points).  Hey, it happens.  I'm sure there are people out there who faced Kamara and still won.  That could happen too.  It's fantasy football and crazy stuff will happen.  I hope you can have some perspective when it comes to fantasy football and just take it as it comes.  You put your best lineup out there and you see what happens.  Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't.  Hopefully you have fun doing it.  I always do.

But now it's on to next year, right?  FantasyPros already has their 2021 rankings tool up on the site, and I started on those today.  I should have some early rankings out in the next couple of weeks, but for now, here are my Week 17 rankings with none of the usual commentary below it.  I'll just post my betting picks below the rankings.  As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any start/sit questions that can't be answered by the rankings.  And as we get into the offseason, feel free to shoot me questions about the NFL Draft, free agency, etc.  I'll be getting an article out with a preview on some of that stuff in a month or so.  

And here are my Week 17 betting picks:

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings

I hope if you're reading this, that means you're in your championship this week.  Of course I realize that's not the case for everyone, so if you're playing for third or nothing or whatever...hey, thanks for at least clicking the link and checking my rankings!

Way back in Week 6, I had a great week and finished as the #2 most accurate ranker, and I gained a lot of new Twitter followers because of it.  If you just started following me this year and are using my rankings, welcome!  I've had some ups and downs since then, but I've mostly been pretty consistent.  Right now I'm sitting at the #37 spot among over 150 rankers in the accuracy competition, and I'm pretty sure this is the last week included in that contest.  In case you're curious, here's my accuracy rank by week through Week 15:

120 (slow start...)
2 (!!!)
12 (got in a little mid-season groove)
138 (yikes)

I'm hoping to finish strong both with my rankings accuracy and with my betting picks at the bottom.  As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any start/sit questions that can't be answered by the rankings and discussion below.

Obvious Start: Last week I said if you were debating between Jalen Hurts versus Kyler Murray, don't.  Kyler was my obvious start, but both guys were awesome in that game.  This week I think both guys are obvious starts, but let me mention Josh Allen here in case you were considering benching him for someone else.  He's been a top-5 fantasy QB in 4 of his last 6 games, and he's been the #2 fantasy QB in two of those contests.  The Monday night matchup at New England shouldn't scare you, especially now that Stephon Gilmore is out for the season.  If Diggs is out, I might lower Allen a spot or two.  But I think Diggs plays, and I'd have Allen as a top-5 play regardless.

Not-So-Obvious Start: The funny thing is, the guy I'm facing in the championship in my main/home/money league has both Josh Allen AND Tom Brady.  I think both guys are great starts this week, and he probably can't go wrong with either.  But I wanted to mention Brady here because he's not as obvious as Allen.  He's been a little up and down this season, but this week against the Lions he has the potential to go OFF.  With Ronald Jones likely still out, Brady just might throw the ball 40+ times again.  And Detroit's defense is just awful right now.  To add insult to injury, the Lions are dealing with COVID issues and might not have a good portion of their coaching staff in this game.  I think the Bucs will put up a ton of points in this game, and Brady should be involved in at least three of those TDs.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I've talked about guys like Matt Ryan and Cam Newton here in recent weeks, and I've been spot on.  You don't want to start someone like Cam this week (duh), but don't consider Big Ben either.  The Steelers are an absolute mess right now, and I have a feeling Ben is dealing with an injury that is impacting his throws.  I don't want to make an excuse for the guy, but I think he's too good to be looking this bad otherwise.  The Colts are coming to town this week, and if Ben struggled against the Bengals, I don't see how he can put up a good game against Indy.

Obvious Start: You might think Miles Sanders might not have a huge game with Jalen Hurts running a bit more and that changing up the gameplan a bit, but I actually think Sanders will have a huge game against Dallas.  This backfield is all his right now, and Dallas could be without Vander Esch in the middle of that defense.  You're starting Sanders if you have him regardless, but that's why he's in the obvious start category now isn't it?

Not-So-Obvious Start: Don't look now, but David Johnson has been an RB2 in each of his last two games.  Against a not-so-good Cincy defense this week, he might break into RB1 territory.  He's not an exciting play and I can't imagine he's on a ton of championship squads, but he's a start for me this week.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Latavius Murray saved his Week 15 stat line with a touchdown, but he hasn't been very involved in this offense lately.  I have him ranked outside of my top-40 RBs this week, so I'd much rather take a chance on someone like Malcolm Brown or Gus Edwards who are just more involved in their team's gameplan right now.

Obvious Start: I doubt many people are benching Allen Robinson against his old team, but you never know after a down Week 15.  Don't bench ARob against the Jags.  He'll get double digit targets and could easily finish as a top-10 fantasy WR in this cake matchup.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I actually think Marquise Brown is quietly back into start territory.  He gets the Giants this week, and their secondary is banged up.  Brown has been a WR2 in 3 of his last 4 games, and he was a WR3 in the 4th game (in which he scored!).  The Ravens should be able to move the ball in this game, and it just takes one big play for Hollywood to finish as a top-20 WR.  I'd plug him into my FLEX this week if I had the space for him.

The Ceiling is the Roof: If you somehow have Tyler Lockett on your squad and made it all the way to the championship, congratulations.  I'm guessing in that scenario, you probably haven't been playing him lately.  He hasn't finished better than WR45 since November 19th.  He finished as the WR32 when the Seahawks played the Rams in Week 10.  I don't have a ton of faith in Russell Wilson this week, and that extends to Lockett.

Obvious Start: I had Logan Thomas as my not-so-obvious start last week, but he's graduating to obvious start territory.  The only wrinkle here is if Taylor Heinicke is the starting QB on Sunday, but if Logan is still getting 10+ targets, he'll be a TE1.  And as of right now, it looks like Haskins will start.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I mentioned Brady as my QB not-so-obvious start, so I'm going to mention Gronk here.  Like I said, I think the Bucs will put up a ton of points in this game, so why not a Gronk spike?

The Ceiling is the Roof: I think there are much better options out there than Jordan Reed.  He's had a couple of touchdowns in the last month, but he hasn't had more than 32 receiving yards in a game since Week 10.  With George Kittle potentially back this week combined with the fact that C.J. Beathard should be under center, I'd go ahead and look for another TE option for Week 16.

And here are my betting picks for Week 16.  I'm trying to finish strong and get in the top-5 in both the O/U and ATS categories by the end of the regular season, so let's see if I can add onto my numbers with these picks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 15 Rankings

If you survived Week 14 whether it was via a bye or a win, congrats.  I'm going to skip the small talk here in Week 15 and get right into the rankings.  Cool?  Cool.

Hit me up on Twitter with any start/sit questions that can't be answered by the rankings!

Obvious Start: I doubt I'll get to see any of it live, but my favorite matchup this week just might be the Eagles at Cardinals.  But if you're debating starting Jalen Hurts over Kyler Murray, don't.  Kyler got you here and has a super safe floor to go along with a ceiling of THE #1 fantasy QB.  Hurts had a great debut against a good Saints defense, but it's very possible Arizona watches the film and bottles him up a bit more.  Oh and the Eagles are dealing with some injuries in the secondary. Don't get cute and sit Kyler. You don't want to look at your matchup come Monday morning and see a top-5 fantasy QB on your bench.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Outside of that disappointing Week 12 in Atlanta, Derek Carr has been a top-10 fantasy QB in three of his last four games.  I could see him with 3+ TDs tomorrow night against the Chargers, and this could be a nice start to your semi-final matchup if you're looking for a streamer outside of the top-12 or so QBs.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I was spot on with Matt Ryan here last week, and I could easily talk about him here again.  But let me give you someone else in Cam Newton.  I believed in Cam as recently as Week 12, but that's when he totally fell off a cliff.  He somehow had 3 touchdown passes on 69 passing yards in Week 13, but the volume is so low I just can't do it with him (especially in such a crucial fantasy week).

Obvious Start: I won't talk about David Montgomery here for the fourth week in a row...though I suppose I kind of just did.  Let me instead make sure you realize that Jonathan Taylor has been the #2 fantasy RB over the last two weeks, and he gets the Texans again (who he lit up in Week 13).  There should be no start/sit questions about Taylor at this point.

Not-So-Obvious Start: It's certainly possible Jared Goff has a nice game against the Jets, but there's also a good shot the Rams just run the ball down New York's throat.  In fact, both could be true.  Either way, I would start Cam Akers in a good matchup after we saw him take control of this backfield last week.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I was wrong in this spot last week with Miles Sanders, but I wasn't alone in being worried in Jalen's first start against what had been an awesome New Orleans defense over the last month or so.  This week, I'm playing it a little safer and telling you to stay away from Todd Gurley.  You were probably doing that anyway, but in case you were desperate at the RB position and looking at his name and thinking he could do anything against the Bucs...well, I disagree.  He hasn't been better than a top-45 fantasy RB since Week 9, and Tampa is good against the run.  No thanks.

Obvious Start: Remember when I said to start Cam Akers against the Jets this week?  Yeah, start your Rams.  That means Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp too. 

Not-So-Obvious Start: Maybe this actually is obvious by now, but I still feel like people aren't giving Brandon Aiyuk enough respect.  Especially now with Deebo out, Aiyuk should get 9+ targets for the 5th straight game.  Yes, he had some inactive weeks sprinkled in there, but the guy has been awesome when healthy in the second half of the season.  This week he gets Dallas.  He legit could be a top-5 fantasy WR against the Cowboys.

The Ceiling is the Roof: A lot of people continue to rank Antonio Brown as a WR3, but I can't do it.  The matchup in Atlanta is not as good as it was early in the season, and Brown has only been a top-40 fantasy WR once since he joined the Bucs in Week 9.  Not great, Bob.

Obvious Start: If it's not clear by now, Robert Tonyan is an obvious start at the tight end position.  He has a touchdown in each of his last four games, and I don't see why that streak would stop Saturday night against the Panthers.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I hope Alex Smith can play this week, but I feel like even Dwayne Haskins will be able to get the ball to Logan Thomas 5+ times.  And what happens if Haskins gets hurt in this game?  I feel like Logan is probably the emergency QB and could rack up some second half stats in that unlikely scenario.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Trey Burton has barely been involved in the offense the last couple of weeks, and I don't think he has much of a floor or ceiling.  I can't imagine starting him against Houston this week.

And here are my betting picks for Week 15.  I'm still top-3 on BettingPros with my over/under picks on the year, and I've been making up some ground with my picks ATS in recent weeks.  I hope to finish strong and get in the top-5 in both categories by the end of the regular season, so let's see if I can add onto my numbers with these picks!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 14 Rankings

As this season has progressed, I've tried some different things with my rankings and I've updated the format of this weekly post.  This week I considered adding tiers, but ultimately it just felt like more work which I don't need right now.  Maybe I'll do them with my weekly rankings next season, but I wanted to explain the concept of tiers because I've been getting more and more start/sit questions on Twitter.  I do my best to answer all of them, but to be honest, most can be answered by these rankings.  Where it gets really tough is when people ask me a start/sit question about guys who are literally back to back in my rankings.  I realize you want an answer (or at least some validation of a ranking), but I tend to think of guys in tiers.  If you're asking me whether or not to FLEX a guy I have ranked as my RB15 versus WR30, that's an easy one (go with the RB).  

Side note: I do my best to update my FLEX rankings every week too, so check those out.  

But if you're debating between a guy I have ranked as my RB14 vs RB15, it's likely those guys are a total coin flip for me too.  As of this writing, that's CEH & Wayne Gallman.  Sure, I like Clyde slightly more, but I could rationalize Gallman over him given his solid workload.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain that a bit.  Unless you're totally out of the playoffs or have a first round bye, you're likely just scrolling down to the rankings anyway.  And if it's my betting picks you care about, then scroll to the bottom.  I was bad against the spread in Week 12 but really good with my over/under picks.  So of course in Week 13 that trend flipped.  I lost a small amount with my O/U picks, but I'm still in the top-3 among the BettingPros experts in that category.  

Let's get to the Week 14 rankings, shall we?

Obvious Start: I talked about Ryan Tannehill in this spot last week, and he was a top-10 fantasy QB for the third straight week.  That also makes him a top-10 QB for the 6th time in his 12 games this year.  Not too shabby.  He gets the Jags this week, so plug him into your lineup for the playoffs.

Not-So-Obvious Start: It feels kind of icky, but Philip Rivers has actually been a top-15 fantasy QB in each of the last 4 weeks.  He has a nice matchup in Vegas this week, and I could see him ending up with 300 yards and 3 TDs.  

The Ceiling is the Roof: He had been pretty money when Julio was in the lineup this year, but last week Matt Ryan put up a dud against the Saints.  He has a better matchup against the Chargers this week, but I wouldn't be confident enough to start him and I don't see that he has a big ceiling.

Obvious Start: I'm mentioning David Montgomery here for the third week in a row.  He may not have won you any matchups early in the season, but he could be a big part of carrying you into/through the playoffs.  He was the #1 fantasy RB last week, and I feel like he's a lock to finish in the top-10 again (maybe top-5).

Not-So-Obvious Start: If D'Andre Swift continues to sit, you have to like Adrian Peterson against a terrible Packer run defense.  He's been a top-10 RB each of the last two weeks given the workload, and I don't see why he can't do it again in a great matchup.  If Swift suits up, you can disregard this call, so check back later in the week on Swift's status.

The Ceiling is the Roof: You don't want to face the Saints right now, and that especially means their run defense.  Unless you have better options, you might not have much choice but to start Miles Sanders this week, but I feel like he has a very low ceiling in a tough matchup.  Throw in the unknown of Jalen Hurts now at QB, and this is a situation to try to avoid if you can.  Maybe Hurts makes the offense hum, but it's not the best week to roll the dice and find out.

Obvious Start: He can be a frustrating guy to start each week, but I don't see how you could bench Tyler Lockett against the Jets in a bounce back spot for Russell Wilson.  Yes, Lockett has four finishes this season outside of the top-50 WRs, but he also has two #1 finishes.  This week feels more likely to be the latter, so I highly recommend you keep him in your lineup.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I don't see how you can ignore the volume that Keke Coutee got last week on his way to a top-12 WR finish.  While Chicago is expected to be a frigid environment temperature wise, I don't feel like it's the worst matchup from a fantasy perspective.  I still expect Watson to throw the ball 35 times and for Coutee to get roughly 10 of those looks.  I think he's a WR3 and an obvious FLEX this week.

The Ceiling is the Roof: His best games this year have come with Fitzmagic at QB, so with Tua under center I'm a little worried about the ceiling of DeVante Parker.  It's that simple.

Obvious Start: The entire Charger offense stunk against the Patriots last week, so feel free to disregard the output of Hunter Henry in that game.  He was a top-12 TE the previous three weeks and now has a great matchup against the Falcons.  I wouldn't consider benching him for a streaming option.  Keep him locked into your lineups.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Just a reminder to get Gronk back into your lineup after his super late Week 13 bye.  It's tough to come up with a not-so-obvious start at the tight end position to be honest.  After the top 3 or 4, they are all kind of the same.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Dawson Knox has scored in each of his last two games, but he hasn't done much else than that all season.  Maybe he's being utilized more with John Brown on IR, but I can't imagine starting him against Pittsburgh with Minkah Fitzpatrick roaming around in the secondary.

Here are my betting picks for Week 14.  Good luck!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 13 Rankings

Here we are, sports fans.  It's the last week before the fantasy playoffs.  Whether you're fighting for that final playoff spot or not, I have the rankings that you crave.  Last week was a wild one with so many players out due to Covid and injuries, and I hope this week is a little more predictable.  But last week was actually kind of fun to do the rankings, so whatever.  I was terrible against the spread in Week 12, but I kept it rolling with my over/under picks.  So if you're looking at those at the very bottom of this post, maybe just fade my picks ATS and just look at those point totals.  And now that I've said that, I'm sure this week the trend will flip.  This is why I don't actually bet...or at least no big money.

Let's get right into the Week 13 rankings, shall we?

Obvious Start: I was so wrong about Cam Newton last week...and Derek Carr too.  This week my obvious start is Ryan Tannehill.  He's burned me before in this spot, but he's been a top-10 QB the last two weeks and gets the Browns here in Week 13.  He's had multiple touchdowns in all but two games this season, and he just seems to get it done.

Not-So-Obvious Start: While Tannehill has been a top-10 QB the last two weeks, Kirk Cousins has actually been a top-5 fantasy QB in each of those weeks.  He's not an obvious start, but against a terrible Jacksonville defense and with Adam Thielen likely back, he should end up at least in the top-10 here in Week 13.

The Ceiling is the Roof: Maybe it's because I just got done watching the Steelers barely get by Baltimore's B squad, but I feel like Ben Roethlisberger is a boring start this week.  I have him ranked in my top-15, but it feels like that's about his ceiling against the Fightin' Football Team.  This could be a low scoring affair with two good defenses, and I'd look for a better streamer than Big Ben this week.

Obvious Start: Last week I mentioned David Montgomery here, and he finished in the top-10.  I know he doesn't seem like he has a high ceiling, but he's playing the Lions this week!  He'll probably be a top-10 RB again, so don't worry about it.  Start Montgomery even though he's boring.  He'll get you the points you need.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I doubled down on Montgomery, and I'm doubling down on Duke Johnson with my not-so-obvious start.  If David Johnson is still out, you have to like Duke as an RB2 against the Colts.  With Will Fuller now set to miss the rest of the season, you have to think that will mean a bit more volume for the running backs because the rest of the WRs outside of Brandin Cooks are trash.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I told you Melvin Gordon was a fluke in Week 11, and he flopped against the Saints.  Well, the whole offense did because the Broncos didn't exactly have a quarterback.  Still, I wouldn't trust a running back against the Sainst this week either, and that means Brian Hill is a sit.  And if by some chance Gurley is healthy, this logic will extend to him too.  I'll even have a hard time ranking him inside my top-25 RBs.

Obvious Start: Did you see what Deebo Samuel did last week?  You start this man.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Cole Beasley has played in 11 games this year, and he has been a top-40 WR in half PPR scoring in 7 of those games.  With John Brown out, he feels like a lock for a top-30 option.  Get him in your lineup, especially if you have any points for receptions.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I warned you about Travis Fulgham in Week 11 and then again on Christian Kirk in Week 12.  I was right in both cases, and my boom/BUST guy in Week 13 is CeeDee Lamb.  I realize he's made some good plays recently, but his production minus touchdowns is worrisome in his last five games.  I think you can find a better option for your #2 or #3 WR.

Obvious Start: I realize that Zach Ertz could be back this week, but Dallas Goedert has been great with or without Ertz.  You're starting Goedert against the Packers.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I know Kyle Rudolph doesn't have great numbers on the season, but he had 7 targets last week with Irv Smith out.  If he's out again, you have to trust Rudolph in December.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I told you Jared Cook was garbage, and he's still garbage.  Also garbage is Jimmy Graham.  I liked his prospects better with Nick Foles under center, but I don't see Trubiskey making him a centerpiece of the offense.

I continued to underperform with my picks against the spread in Week 12, but I'm now in the top-3 among the BettingPros experts for my over/under picks.  So like I've said for the last few weeks, if you're taking any action on this, maybe focus on those!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings

Last week I changed up the format of my weekly commentary below my rankings, and I'm going to stick with it.  If you missed last week, basically I'm going to give you a guy or two at each position who I think is an obvious start, a not-so-obvious start, and then a guy I don't really like which I'll call "the ceiling is the roof".  For an explanation of what that means, just scroll way down and check last week's post.  But we're getting close to the fantasy playoffs, so I'd rather look forward than backward.  

In most leagues, you have just two weeks to establish your position in your playoffs.  Once you're in the playoffs, you never know what can happen.  It's not real football...it's fantasy!  The 6 seed can much more easily take down the higher seed with the amount of randomness and luck involved here.  So let's get right to it.  If you have specific questions not answered by my rankings, hit me up on Twitter @bartonwheeler.

Obvious Start: In case you were thinking about benching Cam Newton, just know in all three of his plus matchups this season he's finished as a top-12 QB: Seattle (QB2), Buffalo (QB12), and NY Jets (QB8).  The Cardinals haven't faced a ton of competent QBs this year, but guys like Russell Wilson and Josh Allen have finished as top-5 fantasy QBs against Arizona.  I'm not saying Cam is still in that same conversation as those two, but he's better than a lot of the other QBs the Cardinals have faced.  I'd fire him up and wouldn't look to stream anyone else unless you really trust my next guy over him (I think it's a coin flip).

Not-So-Obvious Start: If you have Patrick Mahomes and streamed Derek Carr in Week 10 against Denver, you were severely disappointed.  But the Broncos have a good defense.  You know who doesn't have a good defense?  The Falcons don't have a good defense.  In fact, they're giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, and that's who Carr and the Raiders are facing this week.  He's easily the best streaming option even in a week with no byes (and thus a ton of options).

The Ceiling is the Roof: I'm going back to the well with Matthew Stafford because he's still dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb on his throwing hand, and both Golladay and Amendola continue to be out with injuries.  Hockenson is banged up but playing through it, which leaves Marvin Jones and not a lot of other reliable options for Stafford.  There are plenty of other guys I'd prefer to stream and just ignore Stafford on Thanksgiving.

Obvious Start: I feel like he should be an obvious start, but it's possible people have forgotten about David Montgomery a bit.  He was out with a concussion and then had his bye in Week 11, but he should be back this week against Green Bay.  The Packers are giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, and Montgomery should get all the work he can handle in this contest.  He probably won't finish as a top-10 RB, but he's nearly a sure thing to finish in the 15-20 range.

Not-So-Obvious Start: Detroit has been terrible against running backs and specifically pass catching running backs.  I know Duke Johnson hasn't done a lot with the opportunity with David Johnson out, but I'd have a hard time not starting him tomorrow against the Lions.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I wouldn't be fooled by Melvin Gordon's big game last week against the Dolphins.  He's facing a Saints defense this week who has been one of the best units against the run for the past month.  I'll still have him ranked as an RB3, but I would look for a higher upside WR to plug into my FLEX this week.

Obvious Start: Last week I told you not to overthink it with Tyler Lockett.  I said if he was healthy enough to play, you're starting him.  He finished as a top-12 WR against the Cardinals.  The same goes for Julio Jones this week.  If he's not healthy enough to play, he won't play.  If he is healthy enough to play, get him in your lineup.  Now is not the time to sit a guy like Julio.

Not-So-Obvious Start: He got off to a slow start to the season, so people might not be realizing just how much D.J. Moore is coming on as of late. And somehow he quietly has the 5th most receiving yards in the league!  I think it goes unnoticed because he's had so many fantasy finishes outside of the top-40, but he's been the WR13 and WR8 the last two weeks.  He gets the Viking inexperienced secondary here in Week 12, and with Bridgewater likely back I think he's a must start.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I warned you about Travis Fulgham last week, and this week I'm backing off Christian Kirk against New England.  This is risky because Kirk is explosive and could break for a touchdown at any time, but I think the Patriot corners will keep him in check.  I just feel like this boom or bust WR is going to bust for a third straight week.

Obvious Start: In case you hadn't noticed, Justin Herbert finally got his tight end into the endzone the last couple of weeks.  Hunter Henry has been a top-5 TE in each of those weeks, and I'd of course fire him up this week against the Bills.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I'm going deep with this one because I have blind faith in my guy Will Dissly.  He was an amazing fantasy tight end last year until he was lost to a season-ending injury.  He's been healthy this year but only has one catch in each of his last 4 games.  But with Greg Olsen now out for the year with an injury, I feel like Dissly will get most of those vacated targets.  I like for him to sneak into the top-12 TEs this week, and he just might be a decent TE you can play down the stretch.  Also if you want someone who the ECR is ranking a bit higher and has a more clear path to targets, the Niners will have to throw to someone and Jordan Reed could be a great streamer against the Rams. 

The Ceiling is the Roof: I didn't see anything out of Jared Cook in Taysom Hill's first start that would lead me to think he will do anything here in Week 12.  Not only would I not play him, but I'd gladly cut him for a number of guys on the waiver wire.

Week 11 wasn't great with my betting picks, but I was still in the positive with my over/under selections.  Those have easily been my best on the season.  Let's see who we have here in Week 12...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 11 Rankings

As you might imagine, I listen to a bunch of fantasy football podcasts every week, and there are a handful of articles I read from time to time.  When I saw Matthew Berry tweet a link to his Week 10 Love/Hate article and found out it's now behind a paywall, I was a little surprised and slightly bummed.  But like, whatever.  If that's what ESPN is doing with some of their content, that's what they're doing.  I don't get the people tweeting hateful stuff at the guy because the content is now on ESPN+.  If you really want to read it, then get ESPN+.  Or not.  It's really up to you.  

Anyway, it got me thinking about my own format of my weekly rankings.  I tend to point out guys I like/don't like versus the ECR, but that also ends up changing between Wednesday and Sunday every week.  I also was thinking about how I used to read Berry's Love/Hate and could often predict who he would "love" and "hate" because to me a lot of them are obvious calls due to matchups, recent performance, etc.  So instead of my usual format, I'm going to change it up.  I'll give you a guy or two at each position who I think is an obvious start, a not-so-obvious start, and then a guy I don't really like which I'll call "the ceiling is the roof".  

If you don't remember Michael Jordan saying that during halftime of a Duke/UNC basketball game, well he did.  It was one of those moments that just makes you go "huh?!"  I considered going with "the floor is lava", but obviously I'm not going to like a guy with a zero floor.  "The celing is the roof" in my mind is a guy who I'm just not excited about starting at all.  Sure, he has a ceiling...but like, it's the roof.  You can see it.  I don't think he's winning you a week, and quite frankly I think he'll probably be kind of a dud (just like MJ's comment).

Maybe the format will stick.  Maybe it's won't.  It might be a little long this week, and maybe I'll tighten it up a bit in Week 12.  Feel free to let me know what you think on Twitter @bartonwheeler.

Let's do the rankings!

Obvious Start: When Julio has been healthy this year, Matt Ryan has been a QB1.  You're starting him against the Saints and not even thinking about it.  Another no-brainer is Ben Roethlisberger who is coming off a 4 TD performance against the Bengals.  This week it doesn't get any harder as the Steelers face the Jags.  As someone who has James Conner in a couple of leagues, I can tell you that Pittsburgh hasn't really committed much to the run.  I expect Big Ben to easily be a top-10 fantasy QB for the third straight week.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I reserve the right to change my mind on this guy in the coming days if we get any info from the Saints that Taysom Hill is going to start or split snaps or something crazy...but how can you not like Jameis Winston against Atlanta?  I won a championship last year with this roller coaster of a QB, and it was certainly a wild ride.  He might fumble and throw a couple of picks, but that just means he'll need to chuck the ball even more and put up yards/TDs.  I'm not saying it'll be just like last year, but combine his potential with arguably the best matchup against the Falcons, and I think he's a start here in Week 11.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I was at the playoff game last year in Baltimore when they lost to the Titans, and I think they'll be fired up to get some revenge in this game.  I don't expect Ryan Tannehill to put up big numbers, and I think it'll be a lot of Derrick Henry in this one.  I also am trusting Matthew Stafford less and less as the week progresses.  It's not a great matchup against the Panthers, and Stafford is dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb...on his throwing hand!  Sounds important.  If Golladay is back to practicing in full and Stafford looks good to go, I might change my tune a bit.  But for now, I'd be shying away from playing Detroit's QB this week.

Obvious Start: It's hard to find an "obvious" start outside of my top-20, so I'll stay in that range with rookies D'Andre Swift & Antonio Gibson.  Both have been more involved in their teams' game plans in the second half of the season, and both are coming off top-10 performances last week.  Swift has the better matchup this week, but I'd fire them both up here in Week 11.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I feel like Damien Harris should be in the obvious category, but people tend to be scared off by Patriot running backs.  Not only does he have over 100 yards rushing in 2 of his last 3 games, but he also has the best matchup this week according to the Harris Index (ironically enough...but that's Christopher Harris, not Damien Harris).  The real not-so-obvious start though is Kalen Ballage.  Now that he's gotten away from Adam Gase (twice!), Ballage has been a top-20 fantasy RB in back-to-back weeks.  Who is he playing this week?  Adam Gase and the Jets!  It's like a super revenge game.  Start HIM!

The Ceiling is the Roof: If you're considering starting Phillip Lindsay this week, stop it...get some help.  The only game this year in which he had more than 9 rushes was Week 6 when Melvin Gordon was out with an illness.  Otherwise Gordon has clearly been the lead back for the Broncos.  Even if Lindsay somehow gets 10 touches this week, I don't expect him to be anywhere near a top-30 RB.  You can do better.

Obvious Start: Don't overthink this one.  If Tyler Lockett is healthy enough to play tomorrow night, you're starting him against the Cardinals.  Remember when Patrick Peterson shadowed D.K. Metcalf in Week 7?  Remember what Lockett did?  If not, I'll remind you: 15 catches for 200 yards and 3 TDs.  He obviously won't do that again, but please don't consider benching him.  If he plays, you play him.

Not-So-Obvious Start: I'm pretty excited about starting Brandin Cooks in a league this week.  He's led the Texans in targets since the departure of Bill O'Brien, and he's been quietly a top-20 WR in 3 of his last 5 games.  If Stephon Gilmore misses a fourth straight game, I expect J.C. Jackson to cover Will Fuller and Cooks to go crazy in this game.  I feel like he'll be open the entire game in that scenario, and if Gilmore is out I'll likely bump Cooks up into my top-20 WRs.

The Ceiling is the Roof: With Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffrey, and Dallas Goedert now all healthy, I'm kind of worried about the role for Travis Fulgham moving forward.  Last week he had one catch for 8 yards, and I'd have a hard time putting him in my lineup this week against the Browns.

Obvious Start: I'm playing against him in my main league of record, so Darren Waller is going off against the Chiefs.  If you have him, you're starting him.  But hey, that's why this is the obvious category, right?

Not-So-Obvious Start: Sure, Austin Hooper had a bad game last week in his first action since his appendectomy, but so did everyone in the passing game.  The weather was terrible, but it looks like Cleveland might finally have a game without 40 mph winds this week.  I expect Hooper to be heavily involved in this game, and I actually like him to be a top-10 TE the rest of the year with the nice matchups he has remaining on the schedule.

The Ceiling is the Roof: I'll give you two: Tyler Higbee and Robert Tonyan.  Both guys had 3-TD performances earlier this season, and both guys haven't done much else outside of those games.  They're touchdown or bust dart throws, but that's kind of the tight end position after the top-5 or so guys.  

Last week I went 4-0-1 with my over/under picks after going 6-0 in Week 9.  Somehow I'm on a roll with those, but I'd really like to get back on track at least with my picks against the spread too.  We'll see if I can do that here in Week 11.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 10 Rankings

As you likely know, you only have a few more weeks to get into (or stay in) your league's playoff picture.  A lot of fantasy trade deadlines are this week, so swing a last minute deal if you can.  Be sure to take a look at your league settings and don't let the deadline pass you by.  If you have questions about a trade or otherwise, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @bartonwheeler.

OK.  Let's get right into the Week 10 rankings!

Before the 1:00 games kicked off on Sunday, I went on Twitter to call my shot with Drew Lock.  I bumped him up in my rankings to QB14 (+3 vs ECR), but my gut said he could finish as a top-5 play against the Falcons.  He did exactly that.  It wasn't pretty, but he got it done.  This week, Lock faces the Raiders and he could do his best impression of somewhere between Bortles and Jameis yet again.  I have him as a borderline top-15 QB, but as we get closer to Sunday I might just inch him closer to my top-10.  You could do worse with a streaming QB this week.  Maybe just don't watch the game...

I ranked Zeke all the way down at RB17 in Week 8, which was 7 spots lower than ECR.  He finished as the RB32.  I then ranked him as the RB29 in Week 9, and he finished as the RB29.  The Cowboys have a bye this week, and then hopefully at least Andy Dalton will be back to run this offense.  But Zeke might be someone to sell at the deadline if you can still get a top-12 RB for him.  I'm not confident he'll be that for the rest of the season.

I was really low on Le'Veon Bell last week (8 spots lower than ECR), and he'll likely be outside of my top-30 RBs when the Chiefs come back from their bye in Week 11.  He might even hit some waiver wires this week, so if you have CEH...maybe just check the waiver wire for Bell.  This is the time of year to start thinking about grabbing those high upside backups (even if you aren't the manager with the starter).  I realize Bell hasn't done much yet, but he's certainly an injury away from being a productive RB in the league's best offense.

I was down on more Cowboys than just Zeke last week, as I said I didn't think they'd score more than 13 points against Pittsburgh.  Well, somehow they scored 19 points, but CeeDee Lamb was the only decent producer in this game.  He ended up with 4 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.  Amari Cooper was serviceable for fantasy purposes, and Michael Gallup was mostly an afterthought.  As with Zeke, hopefully Dalton will be back and help all Cowboys when they're back in action against the Vikings in Week 11.  If their offensive line can get a little healthier, I might even trust all of these guys a bit in the last third of the season.

My Week 10 betting picks are below.  I wasn't great against the spread last week, but I was good with my over/under picks for the third week in a row: 6-0!  We'll see if I can keep that streak going.


Friday, November 6, 2020

2020 midseason check-in on my preseason takes

Like every year, I write a lot of preseason articles to get my takes on record before the games begin.  I thought I'd pause here at the midway point of the season and check in on how some of these are going.  I'll link to each preseason article in the sections below in case you'd like to take a trip down preseason memory lane, and I'll highlight a few takes from each that are looking good so far (or not!).

Back in August, I looked at all 32 teams and tried to find one "value" guy on each squad who I liked the most based on his ADP at that time (Average Draft Position - using FantasyPros as my reference for half PPR leagues).

Here are a few guys I highlighted who are clearly outperforming their preseason ADP:
James Conner - ADP 44, currently RB11
Tyler Boyd - ADP 76, currently WR8
Will Fuller V - ADP 85, currently WR16
Ronald Jones - ADP 95, currently RB13
Darrell Henderson - ADP 111, currently RB17
Hayden Hurst - ADP 114, currently TE8
Jonnu Smith - ADP 138, currently TE7
Justin Jefferson - ADP 133, currently WR18
Chase Edmonds - ADP 193, currently RB28

And excluding injuries, these are shaping up to be a few bad takes from that article:
Jordan Howard - ADP 88, currently RB76
Marvin Jones - ADP 97, currently WR53
Golden Tate - ADP 147, currently WR68
Ian Thomas - ADP 193, currently TE48

Seriously, Ian Thomas?!?  I know this was a last round type of flier anyway, but this guy has had every opportunity.  And with the tight end position being such a wasteland and barely a top-50 TE at the midway point of the season, this might be one of my worst calls of the preseason.  But if you go back and look at the article, I assure you I have way more hits than misses.  A lot of my preseason deep sleepers are on the IR, so I'm not counting those during this evaluation.

This is my favorite preseason article to write.  It's a Q&A format that includes some of my picks for "sleeper", "bust", "long shot", etc. based on historical trends.  I'll point out a few below and see if any are trending in the right direction as we're now halfway through the fantasy season...

Q: Who is this year's Alfred Morris (2012), Zac Stacy (2013), Tre Mason (2014), David Johnson (2015), Jordan Howard (2016), Alvin Kamara (2017), Phillip Lindsay (2018), or Devin Singletary (2019)?
[Description: A rookie NOT taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft who is virtually UNDRAFTED in fantasy leagues.  He's not expected to be the Week 1 starter, but he could really help your fantasy squad by mid-year.]

My preseason Answer: Zack Moss
Honorable Mention: Josh Kelley
Current ACTUAL Answer: James Robinson 

Q: Who is this year's Danny Woodhead (2013), Darren Sproles (2014), Danny Woodhead (2015), Theo Riddick (2016), Chris Thompson (2017), James White (2018), or Raheem Mostert (2019)?
[Description: Shifty veteran who sneakily finishes in the top-20 overall fantasy RBs.]

My preseason Answer: Tarik Cohen
Honorable Mention: Tevin Coleman
Current ACTUAL Answer: Chase Edmonds might be the front runner, but Rex Burkhead is a dark horse candidate.  He's currently the RB35, and you just never know with New England RBs...

Q: Who is this year's Keenan Allen (2013), Odell Beckham, Jr. (2014), Tyreek Hill (2016), JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017), Calvin Ridley (2018), or A.J. Brown (2019)?
[Description: Rookie WR with playmaking ability and a solid QB, who is a late-round fantasy pick or even undrafted in most leagues but ends up being a top-20 fantasy WR.]

My preseason Answer: Tee Higgins
Honorable Mention: Brandon Aiyuk
Current ACTUAL Answer: Tee Higgins (WR24)...or maybe Aiyuk (WR26)!!

NOTE: A lot of rookie WRs were being taken in the top-150 or so in August drafts: CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, Henry Ruggs, and Jalen Reagor.  So they were all excluded from this question/answer.  But it looks like Higgins and/or Aiyuk could end up fitting this category by the end of the year.

Q: Who is this year's Andrew Luck (2013), Russell Wilson (2014), Derek Carr (2015), Kirk Cousins (2016), Carson Wentz (2017), Patrick Mahomes (2018), or Lamar Jackson (2019)?
[Description: A young starting QB ready to jump from one fantasy QB tier to the next.]

My preseason Answer: Daniel Jones
Honorable Mention: Gardner Minshew II
Current ACTUAL Answer: Burrow and Herbert are rookies, so they don't quite fit this category.  It's possible Minshew ends up as the answer (currently the QB17 on the season), but he's not starting after the bye so that's not looking great anymore.  If Kyler finishes as the overall QB1 then it's him.  Either way, it's decidedly NOT Daniel Jones.  I'm very, very sorry about that.

Q: Who is this year's Joique Bell (2013), Giovani Bernard (2014), Devonta Freeman (2015), Tevin Coleman (2016), Alex Collins (2017), or Tarik Cohen (2018)?
[Description: A second year running back (mid to late-round draft pick) who is likely the #2 in a timeshare situation but will still find himself as a top-20 fantasy RB in 2017.]

My preseason Answer: Darrell Henderson
Honorable Mention: Alexander Mattison (Dalvin Cook has shown to be injury prone in his career)
Current ACTUAL Answer: Darrell Henderson!!!

This was the very last preseason article I wrote before the season started, and it was a new one this year for me.  Throughout July and August, I felt like I heard a lot of the same narratives from people like me who write, tweet, podcast about fantasy football.  I wanted to play devil's advocate and give a take on each team that wasn't being considered much.  These weren't takes I was "all in" on, but I think it's important not to get too focused on the groupthink mentality and make sure you step back and consider other possibilities.  There were obviously 32 of these, so it was a long article. I'll just highlight a few below.

Buffalo Bills
Preseason take:
[If Josh Allen] is better, I think a big part of that could be because he now has Stefon Diggs to throw to...No one is talking up Diggs like he can be a WR1 this year, but he has that potential if Allen can get him the ball.

Midseason Verdict:
Josh Allen has cooled off as of late, but he's still the QB4 and a big part of that is Diggs (who is the WR6 after 8 weeks and leads the NFL in targets).  We'll see how both do in the second half of the season with the weather turning cold in Buffalo, and the Bills still have their bye week ahead of them.  But Diggs has been a huge surprise not many people were talking up in the preseason.

Indianapolis Colts
Preseason take:
What if Jonathan Taylor gets 75-80% of the carries from Day 1?...In that "Day 1" scenario, I could see Jonathan Taylor finishing as a top-5 fantasy RB.

Midseason Verdict:
The crazy thing is, this was gifted to the fantasy community with the unfortunate injury to Marlon Mack.  Taylor has had the opportunity since Day 1 to be the guy, but he just hasn't done it yet.  Still, he's the RB21 on the season and is past his bye week.  There's still time for him to explode in the second half and finish in the top-5, though it feels more and more unlikely by the week.

Tennessee Titans
Preseason take:
What if Ryan Tannehill just keeps doing what he did as a starter in 2019?...Tannehill is getting no love this year, and everyone expects him to regress.  What if he just doesn't...?

Midseason Verdict:
Was anyone outside of Tennessee expecting Tannehill to continue to be a viable fantasy starter this year?  In short, no.  Right now he's the QB10 and is a consistent fantasy QB week in and week out.

Detroit Lions
Preseason take:
What if T.J. Hockenson is healthy for all 16 games and is the next George Kittle? 

Midseason Verdict:
While the Kittle-like breakout hasn't happened yet, Hockenson is the TE4 and we'll see how the second half of the season unfolds.  With Kittle himself likely to miss the rest of the season due to an injury, Hockenson could realistically finish as the #2 fantasy tight end behind just Travis Kelce this year.

Good luck to everyone here in Week 9, and I'll revisit this article in January!