Bad weather games decimated fantasy scores last week and several players went inexplicably flat just when owners needed them the most. That’s something that we need to take into account for the final weeks and 2015 was mostly a milder winter so it is easy to forget how it can impact players, All four of the visiting quarterbacks in freezing weather during Week 14 all had worse games – Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott and Derek Carr.
Pull up a chair. Here’s another six things I’ve been thinking about.
1. WR Michael Floyd (NE) – The Cardinals dropped Michael Floyd after his DUI arrest but being practical – that was just the final reason. What to think that he was picked up by the Patriots? Well, that meant that the 31st team with waiver privileges finally took him and all but the Cowboys passed.The reality is that Floyd has always been more promise than production and his 66 catch, 1054 yard second season in 2013 was as good as he ever was.
He will not be suspended by the NFL since his legal situation has to work itself out first and that won’t happen by January. So the Patriots get a cheap look at Floyd who could help provide depth for the Patriots who likely have several more games to play this month and next. But Floyd hasn’t showed particularly good decision making skills and had all this happen in the final year of his contract. The only thing he is going to provide is a interesting very deep pick in playoff leagues that is most likely to not matter. He doesn’t bring anything to the Pats that isn’t really already there. He’s only 6-2 so he’s no substitute for Gronkowski and has only caught 47% of his passes this season.
2. WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI) – After a four-game suspension, Jeffery returns but finds a new starting quarterback – what to expect? Likely not much. First off, Jeffery only had three games with more than 70 yards and two were in the first two weeks of the season with Jay Cutler there. So was Eddie Royal, Kevin White and Zach Miller. In the first meeting with the Packers, Jeffery only managed three catches for 33 yards. Now Matt Barkley starts and after his surprise first game, he only passed for 192 yards versus the 49ers and 212 yards and a score in Detroit. The problem for Jeffery besides never playing with Barkley is that there is no longer any other receivers for the defense to worry about. And the Packers defense is better now than it was in Week 7 and Week 16 goes against the Redskins where he matches on Josh Norman.
3. Marcus Mariota (TEN) – The game in Kansas City is currently expected to be around 4-8 degrees that will feel like zero. Last week, the Raiders could only pass for 117 yards while completing 17 of 41 passes in a game that was 21 degrees. Now Mariota comes in with his experience limited to Hawaii and this year in Tennessee. That has to be a huge advantage for the Chiefs defense but could affect the Chiefs as well since Alex Smith passed for 264 yards last week but only 62 yards in the second half while Spencer Ware only gained 56 yards on 20 carries. This game will be colder than any last week.
4. CLE at BUF – This game is expected to be around 24 degrees with a 13 MPH wind – more problematic in being cold than altering the flight of the ball. Last week, Ben Roethlisberger played there and only threw for 230 yards and three interceptions. (Le’Veon Bell had a nice day). The Browns played in 28 degree weather last week when Robert Griffin III only managed 12 of 28 completions for 104 yards and one interception. This will be almost the exact same weather – maybe a few degrees colder. The Browns are on the road this week facing a tougher defense. The only Browns player with fantasy value is Isaiah Crowell and even that may be a stretch. This game could go down so poorly for the Browns that the Bills just run up the score with their rushing effort. And if it is really bad, McCoy could be pulled while Gillislee mops up.
5. PIT at CIN – This is the other cold weather game. The conditions here – 22 degrees and 10 MPH wind is roughly the same that both teams played in last week. Light snow is expected. Bell could roll up another big one here and that would make him the hero of the playoffs if he isn’t already. This won’t be a pretty game for A.J. Green to return if he gets that far. This is shaping up to be very similar to Week 14 for the Steelers and the Bengals only passed for 180 yards versus the Browns, At current rate, this looks like Le’Veon Bell vs. Jeremy Hill.
6. RB Kenneth Farrow (SD) – Melvin Gordon hasn’t practiced and is not expected to play this week. That means Kenneth Farrow will become the primary back – what to expect? Several factors are working against Farrow matching what Gordon would have done. Ronnie Hillman is expected to play some role though this will be the first for him with the Chargers. Then Farrow is an undrafted rookie with a 3.5 yard average on his 36 runs this year. He came up with 55 yards on 16 runs in Carolina in Week 14 after Gordon went down. He caught six passes though and that counts big in a reception point league.
But Gordon only ran for 69 yards on 16 carries in Week 5 in Oakland. The problem then and likely now is ifthe Chargers fall behind and just do not run as much. But those six receptions give hope and Gordon only caught one score in Week 5 – an 18-yard touchdown. Farrow is going to be a risky play with nearly no track record and no real pedigree. But he should be worth moderate yardage at worst and could have a good game if he is also used as a receiver. And Rivers passed for 359 yard and four scores in the first meeting.
And an extra point…
Kudos to the NFL if they follow through on what was discussed on Thursday night football. It was another dreadful and sloppy game with only 27 total points. And Richard Sherman addressed the problems with Thursday games with salient points and an experienced view point. It is a recommended read.
The reality is that Thursday night games are not going away anytime soon if ever. But the accommodation to players’ health would be to feature teams that are coming off their bye week. That would allow for proper recovery from previous games and yield a better product. I’m an old-school purist that enjoyed when the NFL was just Sundays with a game on Monday. But if they NFL would make the bye week accommodation, it would be as close to win-win as can be hoped.