Wednesday, October 28, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 8 Rankings

If you have a deep roster and/or are in a shallow league, you may find yourself with some tough decisions to make on a weekly basis.  Last week I had a number of tough decisions to make in one league:
1. Justin Jackson versus James Robinson
2. Robert Tonyan versus Jared Cook
3. Matt Ryan versus Matthew Stafford

I talked a lot about the first one in my Week 7 intro, and in the end I ranked Robinson one spot higher so I plugged him into my second RB spot.  That turned out to be the right call because Robinson continued to produce, and he's looking to be both matchup and game script proof.  I also had Cook one spot higher than Tonyan, so I went with the Saint (also turned out to be the right call).  In the case of Ryan versus Stafford, the right call might've actually been neither.  I went with Ryan, but the difference was negligible.  And if it weren't for the crazy ending that could only happen to the Falcons in 2020, Ryan would've been the right call.

But in reality, all of those calls could've been wrong because they were all very close leading up to kickoff (at least in my eyes).  I could've easily gone the other way on all three, and I'm especially glad I went with Robinson.  I'm also happy that my leaguemates didn't accept any of my trade offers earlier in the season that included Robinson.  He's really been helping me out in that league.  What a nice surprise in 2020!

As usual, I'm more than happy to answer your start/sit questions on Twitter, but most can be answered just by checking the rankings below.  If you have any specific questions about waivers, trade offers, league issues, or breaking news as it happens...hit me up on Twitter @bartonwheeler.  

Trust the process, start your studs, work the waiver wire, and sometimes just listen to your gut!

As a reminder, I'm also keeping my Rest of Season Rankings up to date.  Check those out if you're curious about a guy's value for the second half of the season.  For now, let's get into the Week 8 rankings!

One guy I liked last week as a top-10 play and the ECR didn't was Joe Burrow.  With Mixon out, I thought Burrow would continue to air it out against a Cleveland team he lit up in Week 2.  He did it one better in Week 7 and finished as a top-5 fantasy QB.  He has a plus matchup against Tennessee this week, and I have both him and Justin Herbert as top-10 plays.  With Tua making his first start against the Rams, it could be just a matter of time before all three rookie QBs are ranked in the top-12.  Time will tell with Tua, but as for Burrow, I'm still going against the current ECR with him this week.  I just think he's a top-10 fantasy QB in good matchups, especially if Mixon is out again (which I expect to be the case).

On the flipside, I'm actually a little down on Tom Brady here in Week 8.  He was great against the Raiders last week, but he hasn't exactly been a consistent top-12 option this year (or most years in his career to be honest).  Sure, he's the GOAT.  But for fantasy, he's had some pretty inconsistent seasons.  I still have him in my top-10 as of right now.  I just don't have him in my top-5.  I feel like there's a chance he doesn't need to throw the ball 35+ times this week against the Giants, and he's been pretty average in two of three games this year without Chris Godwin.  You might be starting him regardless, but maybe not considering he could've easily been the second QB you drafted late.

I was high on Justin Jackson last week (+7 vs ECR), but he didn't do much in a cake matchup against the Jags.  I'm very curious to see how the split between Jackson and Kelley is this week against a tougher Bronco defense.  The Charger RB who emerges (if any) could be in line for some good production while Ekeler likely continues to miss time in Weeks 9 through 11: LV, @MIA, NYJ.  

I was down on Damien Harris against the 49ers in Week 7, and my thought was James White is the only back to play in this Patriot backfield right now.  Well, Harris had an OK game and White was an afterthought.  It was strange considering the Patriots were playing from behind all day, but maybe there isn't much useful intel to get from this game.  If anything, I will keep all Patriot RBs fairly low until this situation clears up.  Just keep in mind that especially with Cam getting goal line work, it may stay cloudy all year.

This week, I'm pretty low on Zeke on Sunday Night Football.  Like my Brady take, it might not be super useful because it's not like I'm ranking him outside of my top-25 RBs.  The current ECR has him as a top-5 play, but I have him down at #12.  With the Cowboys likely starting Ben DiNucci (a rookie out of JMU) against the Eagles, I'm not confident this offense will move the ball against the Eagles.  Sure, Elliott will probably get his usual 20-25 touches.  I'm just nervous that those touches won't produce enough for him to be a top fantasy running back this week.

I was down on Terry McLaurin for the second week in a row, and I thought he'd end up outside of the top-20 WRs again.  He broke for a touchdown and nearly had another on his way to a top-12 finish.  While I was way off with that one call, I actually ended up as the #4 WR ranker in Week 7, so maybe I shouldn't have called out McLaurin and focused on literally anyone else!

Speaking of the FantasyPros expert accuracy competition, I finished as the #2 ranker in Week 6, and I backed that up in Week 7 with the #13 finish.  Not bad!  I'm hoping to keep this momentum going here in Week 8, and that goes for my betting picks as well.  I had been going back and forth between good and bad weeks, but I finally strung together a couple of good weeks.  Some people don't believe in momentum when it comes to sports, and I wonder if those people extend that line of thinking to other things.  But I'm not one of those people, so I don't know.  I'm trying to keep this Big Mo rolling!


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 7 Rankings

As you can imagine, a lot of factors go into these weekly rankings.  
And since I like ranking things, I thought I'd rank those factors:

1. Production (recent > past)
2. Usage - targets/touches
3. Matchup - opposing defense good/bad versus run/pass
4. Talent aka "Is this person good at football?"
5. Injuries (player I'm ranking > teammates of the player I'm ranking)
6. Is his team good? / Expected point total (higher = good for fantasy)
7. Gut feel / high upside or risk of a player
8. How many leagues am I facing this player in? If two or more, I'm definitely bumping him up my rankings because he's bound to produce.

After 6 weeks of the NFL season, I feel like we have enough data to start making bigger adjustments for matchups in these weekly rankings.  In Week 1, I probably would've ranked talent above matchup because we just didn't really know.  Now we have a clearer picture of which defenses are overall good units and which are good or bad in specific areas.  So matchup is becoming more and more important.

Let me walk you through an example of a tough decision I have in my rankings below (as well as in one of my fantasy teams): Justin Jackson versus James Robinson.  

These two teams are actually playing each other this week, so I can put one in a FLEX spot and swap out with the other if I have a last-minute change of heart.  I have them super close in my rankings, and their talent is probably close enough to be a wash.  Robinson definitely has the edge on usage, but I feel like Jackson has the slight edge on recent production (albeit a small sample size of really just one game against the Saints before his bye).  Then we get to matchup, and the Chargers have been fairly middle of the road against running backs this year.  But the Jags on the other hand...oh man.  They continue to get gashed on the ground.  Just last week, Detroit's RBs had over 150 rushing yards and 3 TDs against Jacksonville.  The week before that, David Johnson had nearly 100 rushing yards on just 17 carries.  Joe Mixon had his huge game against the Jaguars the week before that.  I could go on, but you get the point: start your RBs against the Jags.  Jacksonville is more than a touchdown road underdog per Vegas, so I expect Minshew to be passing a bit more in this game.  That doesn't mean Robinson will necessarily get game scripted out because his usage has been great.  But the Chargers are likely going to score more points in this game, so that also factors in as I mentioned above.  

I used this example to say it's time to start paying more attention to matchups, but this also gives you some insight into all of the things going through my brain when I'm doing these rankings.  And in case you missed it, I also posted my Rest of Season Rankings earlier this week, so check those out if you're into that kind of thing.

OK. Let's get to the Week 7 rankings!

Last week I talked up Ryan Tannehill and Fitzpatrick as top-12 plays, and I pointed out how Matt Ryan hadn't thrown a touchdown pass in October yet.  Well, it turns out getting Julio Jones back was pretty important because Matt Ryan threw 4 touchdowns and was the #2 fantasy QB in Week 6.  I started Matthew Stafford over Matt Ryan in one league and it was the wrong call, but I still won that matchup.  This week those two play each other, and I'm once again struggling with which one to start!  As for Tannehill and Fitzpatrick, they were top-12 fantasy QBs last week too.  It was a good week if you have "Ryan" in your name I guess.

This week the Dolphins are on a bye and have declared Tua their starter moving forward, so not so great of a week for that Ryan.  I still have plenty of confidence in the other two though.  Yes, the matchup against Pittsburgh isn't great for Tannehill, but why should you doubt him at this point?  I say roll him out there until he gives you a reason not to.  One guy I like as a top-10 play and the ECR doesn't is Joe Burrow.  It looks like Mixon might be a little banged up with a foot injury, and the Browns are a little banged up in the secondary.  I think Burrow at home against Cleveland is a pretty tasty matchup.  He was a top-10 fantasy QB against this squad in Week 2, so why can't he do it again?!

I was high on Phillip Lindsay last week, and the ECR caught up by kickoff with Melvin Gordon out.  I said he was in for a big game if he had the backfield mostly to himself (which he did). Lindsay rushed for over 100 yards on 23 carries but wasn't involved in the passing game.  He finished just outside of the top-20 RBs in Week 6, but the usage was great.  I was way down on Malcolm Brown (-12 vs ECR), and one of the reasons was because McVay had hinted that Cam Akers would get more work.  Well, Akers played exactly one snap, so that wasn't the case.  But Henderson remained the hot hand, and he just might continue to lead this committee for the foreseeable future.  In any event, Brown wasn't involved much, and you should feel free to drop him.

This week I'm high on Justin Jackson (+9 vs ECR), and I explained why in the intro to this piece.  I'm way down on Damien Harris, who I am not trusting with a 10-foot pole now that Cam is back.  James White is the only back to play in this Patriot backfield right now.  Harris had just 7 touches against the Broncos last week, and Cam figures to keep the goal line carries to himself.  The ECR has Damien as a top-30 play, but I have him about 10 spots lower.

I pointed out last week that it's finally WR1 season for A.J. Brown.  He ended up with 5 catches for 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns, which landed him in the top-5.  I wasn't big on Terry McLaurin against the Giants, but he did OK.  ECR had him as the WR18 play, but he was way down at WR28 for me (and that's pretty much right where he finished).  I'll probably be down on him again because he'll likely get shadow coverage from Trevon Diggs, who has been playing really well this year.  He's one of the few bright spots on an otherwise terrible Cowboy defense, so I'm a little concerned that McLaurin could end up outside of the top-20 WRs again.

This week it looks like I'm fairly high versus ECR on both Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks.  Look, Watson has been playing lights out since BOB got the boot. Some of that is certainly good matchups, but Green Bay hasn't looked like a tough matchup this year.  I think Watson will be a top-5 QB again this week, and both Fuller and Cooks could both be top-25 WRs.

Below are my betting picks for Week 7 if you're interested.  I got a little back on track in Week 6, but so far this season I've been ping ponging between good and bad weeks.  As always, I'll adjust these a bit leading up to kickoff for each game.


Monday, October 19, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Rest of Season Rankings

As I'm sitting here watching game 2 of a Monday Night Football double-header, I thought I'd finally post some Rest of Season Rankings.  I've been working on these and keeping them up to date for a couple of weeks now, but it just feels silly posting them after like Week 2.  After Week 6?  Sure, why not?

I will update these rankings periodically but at least weekly, and likely it'll be on Monday or Tuesday after most games have been played.  Hopefully this list will help you when considering trade offers, but it can also be helpful to see the big picture on a player rather than kneejerk reactions that can occur on a weekly basis.  If you have any questions about these ROS rankings, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @bartonwheeler!


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 6 Rankings

On Monday night, I was actually stressing over whether or not I should play Justin Jackson in my FLEX or wait to play Diggs on Tuesday night.  With the uncertainty around the Titans and their Covid mess, I almost just played it safe with Jackson.  I was down a little over 8 points, and Jackson got that in the last drive of regulation.  Believe me, I was paying attention to see if I'd have regret of not playing him.  In the end, it didn't matter because Diggs had an even better game than Jackson and I won my matchup.  

But this highlights a bigger issue with the uncertainty around these games with teams dealing with Covid issues.  Many fantasy football leagues are implementing rules like replacement subs, expanding rosters for added flexibility, etc.  We've been chatting about this in one of my leagues for what feels like forever, but it's really only been a few days.  We've finally settled on a solution after multiple rounds of voting and of course not everyone being happy with the results.  But in the end, we have extra flexibility with our rosters for this season, and we'll likely just revert back to normal next year.  But who knows?  Maybe we'll like the expanded rosters, and people will realize the waiver wire actually isn't that thin.  Or maybe it'll increase trades.  Time will tell.

As for Week 6, let's get into the rankings, shall we?


Last week felt like a make or break week for Daniel Jones against a bad Dallas defense, and he fell on his face again.  I still feel like he can get back on track, but how many chances should I give him?  I'm certainly not trusting him enough to start him in any leagues, but I'm still holding out hope he could turn it around in the second half of the season.  Maybe it's the definition of insanity thing.  I don't know.

This week, I have two Ryans in my top-12 and I don't mean Matt.  Tannehill and Fitzpatrick have both been consistently putting up really good fantasy numbers, but Matt Ryan hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in October yet!  I have started Matt Ryan a couple of times this season, but I'm looking elsewhere (at least until Julio is back and healthy).  If I can stream Fitzpatrick against the Jets, I just might.

Last week I kept my entire rankings brief because I was on vacation, so not much to recap with the RBs.  This week I currently have Phillip Lindsay 15 spots higher than ECR, and I feel like I still need to move him up.  My expectation is that Melvin Gordon won't play after getting pulled over for speeding and a DUI, and that means plenty of work for Lindsay against the Patriots.  I think he could have a big game if he has the backfield mostly to himself.  

On the flipside, a guy I'm way down on is Malcolm Brown.  The ECR has him as a top-30 RB, but I barely have him in my top-50.  McVay has already hinted that Cam Akers is going to get more work this week, and I think Henderson will still be plenty involved.  That should leave Brown as the third RB in this committee, and I have a feeling he won't do much of anything this week.  In fact, if he stinks this week and all of these RBs are healthy, he'll be an easy drop heading into Week 7.

I really liked Russell Gage last week with Julio likely out (he was) and the volume should have been there for Gage.  I thought he'd end up as a top-30 WR, but he had a dud for the third straight week.  He started off the season strong in the first couple of weeks, and those were the big Matt Ryan weeks against the Cowboys and Seahawks.  He and Ryan both haven't done much since then though, and I have a hard time trusting either in Minnesota here in Week 6.

One guy I'll trust is A.J. Brown.  He looked great last night against the Bills, and the Titans don't have a ton of healthy receiving options outside of A.J. and Jonnu.  Both should be great options against the Texans this week, and I have A.J. Brown currently about 10 spots higher than ECR and inside my top-12.  I'm not big on Terry McLaurin this week against the Giants.  ECR has him as a top-12 play, but he's way down at WR28 for me right now.  He's plenty talented, but he didn't look great last week in his first game with a QB other than Haskins.  I'm not saying Kyle Allen isn't an upgrade over Haskins.  I'm just saying the connection may or may not be there yet with McLaurin, so I'm not ranking him as a WR1 until I see it.

Here are my betting picks for Week 6.  I had a bad week in Week 5, especially with my over/under picks.  I'm in the red on those picks for the season, but I'm above water with my ATS and Moneyline picks so far.  Let's see if I can bounce back with all of these here in Week 6!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football Week 5 Rankings

I'm on vacation this week, so this is going to be a quick one.  No lead in.  No fluff.  No pictures. 

Just rankings and a quick hit at a couple of positions.  Let's do this!

I liked Jared Goff against the Giants last week, but he didn't pan out as a top-12 play like I thought he would.  But in that same game, I stayed down on Daniel Jones who has looked terrible to start the season (albeit against very tough opponents).  I said better fantasy days are ahead for Jones, but that wasn't going to start until Week 5.  Danny Dimes was once again straight trash last week, and this is really a make or break week against the porous Dallas defense.  I think he can get back on track, but we'll see...

Last week I talked up Carlos Hyde and spoke badly of Devin Singletary, but a lot changed between Wednesday and Sunday.  I get these rankings out every Wednesday, but you have to especially pay attention to those Friday injury reports.  My rankings were very different come Sunday, and I obviously removed Hyde (who was inactive) and bumped Singletary up when Moss was out.  This is really just a reminder to take note when guys are limited and/or don't practice.  Get those waiver wire claims in on Tuesday night, but also see who people have waived to make their own weekly claims.  And check those injuries on Friday/Saturday.  

A guy I really liked last week and who was in my top-20 was DeVante Parker.  He was facing a Seattle team that has been giving up so many fantasy points to WAY more than any other team.  He easily finished as a top-20 WR, and this week you have to not only like Thielen but Justin Jefferson against the Seahawks who will once again be without Jamal Adams.  This week I really like Russell Gage, who I'm currently about 10 spots higher on versus the ECR.  Julio Jones will likely be out again, and Matt Ryan will absolutely throw the ball a ton.  Gage should get high volume and should end up as a top-30 WR.

If you're interested in my betting picks for Week 5, check em out...