Chatting Up Players of Interest
Just to dive deeper into players of interest, Upon Further Review will look at five players each week with a discussion involving John Tuvey and David Dorey. We’ll keep an eye for the players that interest us the most or that we apparently disagree about. Like to make a suggestion? Go to the Start Bench List for a link. If we get enough requests, we’ll happily include players the most people want examined more.
Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings
2V: Asiata is the knee-jerk reaction to the Adrian Peterson situation–both the Vikings’ and fantasy owners. It goes without saying he’s no AP, and should this situation wind up with the Vikings washing their hands of the franchise back Asiata isn’t the long-term answer, either. But right now Jerick McKinnon isn’t ready and Joe Banyard is roster filler. Asiata’s fantasy value comes via volume, and there’s little reason to think a trip to N’awlins will yield any more opportunity than the 13-36 Asiata produced against the Patriots last week. His 5-48 as a receiver was surprising, if only because it bested his career receiving numbers (7-20) up to that point. Going forward, and assuming the Vikings don’t get Peterson back any time soon, if McKinnon is to horn in on Asiata’s action the bites will begin in the passing game. To be a fantasy factor Asiata requires a goal line look (no guarantee this week) or a favorable matchup (also lacking here); it adds up to him being a fringe contributor this week and occasionally better than that the rest of the way. Oh, and it also puts the Vikings squarely in the Todd Gurley sweepstakes.
DMD: How the Peterson situation plays out is anyone’s guess. And fortunately plenty of people like to publicly guess. I would agree that Asiata is no Peterson and certainly not the guy they ever wanted to play the entire season as the primary back. But he is the veteran there and that keeps him in front. He’s just an undrafted free agent that comes cheap behind the normally durable Peterson. This week I see him as a moderate play in New Orleans where the Saints have their first home opener and come off two surprising losses. I think they take it to the Vikings who are without their best weapon anyway. I see Asiata as someone who will benefit from trash time – sort of like Bobby Rainey just did against the Falcons.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
2V: Even the most ardent Packer-hater couldn’t have hand-picked a more difficult starting slate for Lacy, and his numbers have suffered accordingly. He’ll need the touchdown DMD projected just to salvage fantasy value this week, but if you’re into overcoaching there are plenty of trends to suggest you have better options: the two yards per carry the Lions are allowing, the three yards per carry Lacy is averaging, his 10-carry, 16-yard performance in Detroit last season… it’s enough to make a fantasy owner look to the bullpen. Don’t say you weren’t warned; a direct quote from DMD’s ease of schedule piece states “No way to sugar-coat this bad schedule that begins with three tough venues and never gets that much better”. On the bright side, we’re at the end of the monumentally difficult portion and now enter into merely tough.
DMD: I see Eddie Lacy as one of the elite backs and by year end he’ll reward owners. But starting out in Seattle and then hosting the Jets pitted him against two of the very best defensive fronts. The Lions are also good against the run and the Packers are on the road. The schedule is not that kind this year and most of his value should be about punching in short touchdowns. His schedule gets much easier in the second half of the year but that doesn’t really help right now. Getting a concussion was no help either. He remains an RB1 but his start was just impacted by his schedule.
Pierre Garçon, WR, Redskins
2V: Garçon is also all about the volume, and once RG3 went down last week so did Pierre’s volume: just four targets, yielding one catch. I’m willing to give Kirk Cousins the benefit of the doubt and theorize that he hasn’t taken a ton of snaps with the ones so he felt more comfortable throwing to, say, tight end Niles Paul (11 targets resulting in 8-99. Am I willing to risk a fantasy lineup spot on that theory? Well, when you know that DeSean Jackson will be highly motivated to return to action and leave some marks on the Philly secondary and Paul has established himself as a favored target, it’s a limb that smacks of “fringe fantasy player” this week. I figured Garçon’s looks would go down with Jackson in town, so Week 1 surprised me. Consider Week 2 a correction, with the truth somewhere in between–and maybe this week a bit closer to Door #2 than Door #1.
DMD: I hate that Tuvey figured out how to make the “c” in Garçon’s name do that and even more that I have to copy and paste it when he does.Week one had Garçon catching 10 passes for 77 yards in Houston. That’s a pretty nice pace for the year. Garçon was a pass sponge last year (113 catches) and started the year out just the same. And then facing the Jaguars, he disappeared. Not only did he have just one catch, that came late. But this came in the game where RG3 was injured to start and Kirk Cousins came in. I would not read too much into that game. The Redskins blew the Jags out and Garçon was not needed. He did plenty well with Cousins in 2013 and personally I think I like Cousins better at QB in that system anyway. This week he plays in Philly and I like the Eagles to win the game. That means Garçon has be a factor. The Eagles defense has played very well considering expectations and other than Allen Hurns surprising them, receivers have not done well. I think Garçon is an every week player if only because he is their leading receiver, has already had success with Cousins and this game is going to be all about the passing.
Terrance West, RB, Browns
2V: Not a tremendous matchup for West, but I was encouraged last week by seeing him involved in the passing game. I will, however, admit to being a bit more pessimistic about his chances than DMD’s 80 and a touchdown projection–partly because Isaiah Crowell looms and partly because the Ravens held Gio Bernard and Le’Veon Bell to a combined 107 yards. Plus Baltimore hasn’t allowed a running back rushing score yet this year. Throw West in the “fringe” pile with the other backs we’ve talked about above; if I had a more favorable matchup I know where I’d lean.
DMD: You have to like that West posted 100 yards in Pittsburgh on just 16 carries and then still had 68 yards and a score on 19 carries when the Saints visited. He also added 22 yards on two catches. Now the Ravens have been very good against the run but mostly because they limited the Bengals to only 18 runs and the Steelers to 14 carries. But they gave up 4.2 YPC and this week is their first road game. The Browns are going to commit to the run more if only because it works better than the pass. I see West as a worthwhile risk this week at home against a defense that gives up 4.2 YPC in home games.
TY Hilton, WR, Colts
2V: When we first started generating projections and rankings this offseason, I was most definitely not on the TY bandwagon. One of the primary reasons was the ground-game shackles Indy OC Pep Hamilton has placed on this offense, and while he still seems to force-feed the run he has definitely loosened the restraints on Andrew Luck.With that hurdle removed, now Hilton has to prove he has what it takes to usurp Reggie Wayne as the go-to guy in this offense. He’s certainly getting the opportunities, with 11 targets in each of the first two contests. And, as DMD so astutely points out in his game prediction, this is an extremely favorable matchup for the Colts’ passing game. Of course there’s a risk that this week Hamilton reverts to form and gives Trent Richardson 30 carries, or the Jaguars decide not to let TY beat them and leaves Wayne or Hakeem Nicks uncovered. But offset that risk with Hilton’s ramped-up targets and two 100-yard games in four career meetings with Jacksonville and it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
DMD: Here’s the thing. The Jaguars have allowed 75 points in just two weeks. The Colts are already familiar with their inter-divisional opponent. The last time Hilton faced the Jaguars, he left with 11 catches for 155 yards. Hilton is the #1 receiver for Luck and I like him long-term quite a bit. Reggie Wayne is playing better than expected so far but this offense works best with Hilton controlling the middle of the field and taking deep strikes on occasion. I am not concerned about him long-term. Any guy who can come up with 17 catches for 327 yards over just two playoff games is a guy that Andrew Luck will rely on.