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.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
2V: The big winner in last Thursday’s Bucs debacle was Martin. To review: Martin sat out with an injury; his top backup, Bobby Rainey, lost not just one but two fumbles and third stringer Mike James finished with negative yardage on five touches. In other words, everyone lost ground to Martin in the battle for backfield touches in Tampa. Of course, it’s been more than a year since Martin did anything of fantasy relevance so he’s hardly a sure thing. But the Bucs simply can’t keep trotting out a turnover machine like Rainey; heck, they’ve got two quarterbacks who can do that for them already. So I’m buying low on Martin—not in hopes of the guy who warranted a top-five pick heading into last season, but at least a guy who can consistently turn 15-20 touches into 80-plus yards and a shot at a score. What else are the Bucs gonna do?
DMD: I am not completely sure where the whole “Dump Doug” movement started. This was a first round pick in 2012 who gained 1926 total yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie. His 2013 started out well but he hit a three game stretch that ended with him tearing his labrum and missing the rest of the year. The new coaching regime wanted more of a rotation at running back but then Charles Sims was lost for the year. In August, HC Lovie Smith said that Martin was going to be his “bell cow” and that he would lean on Martin. Sadly he would twist his knee in the opener against the Panthers. He’s been gone for two full games and now returns. Bobby Rainey seems to have made a problem for Martin because he ran for 144 yards against the visiting Rams. The same Bobby Rainey that only produced 3.9 YPC last year when they needed him to replace the injured Martin. Rainey is a fourth-year player, 27 years old and on a one-year contract. He’s just a generic back. Martin will have problems as a runner though only from his blocking and from the offense still trying to learn a new scheme while the offensive coordinator is gone on an indefinite leave of absence because of cardiac problems. The Tampa Bay defense is doing no one any favors. So while I know that Martin is far more talented than Rainey and has proven it, I don’t see Martin jumping back and racking up serious yardage in the near future. Check out Vincent Jackson’s year for an idea of what is happening in Tampa Bay (10-102-1 in three games). I would expect that Martin produces more as the season progresses. I don’t see Rainey as a threat.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens
2V: When push comes to shove, I’m banking on Baltimore giving meaningful touches not to a pair of journeyman backs but to the next Arian Foster or Alfred Morris. It was a pretty low-risk investment when I started buying Taliaferro futures a couple weeks back—certainly not as costly as his FAAB price tag following his 91-yard coming out party last week. Sure, Bernard Pierce says he’s healthy but is his 3.9 yards per carry really worth forcing into the lineup? And we know Justin Forsett is best served as a change of pace guy. Meanwhile, Gary Kubiak can prove his genius once again by creating a stud back out of thin air—or in this case, out of Taliaferro. Heck, I’ll settle for goal line carries and a healthy chunk of the Ravens’ workload.
DMD: I’ve acquired Taliaferro in several leagues and would have taken him in every one had I the roster room and free agent dollars. We’re hitting the fourth game of the season. From here on out, there will be more injuries to running backs to be sure but they’ll be replaced by patchwork committees. Taliaferro at least has the chance of being a heavy-use back. It is still way too early to say that will happen. He looked great but it was only one game. A favorable aspect is that he was just drafted by the new coaching regime. Bernard Pierce is a holdover from the previous team. Ray Rice is gone. Justin Forsett is a 29-year old journeyman who helps on third downs. What we will see and the Ravens need is to play both players in the same game to evaluate which one is really better. I’d wager it would be the power back Taliaferro if it happens at all. The Ravens want to run the ball and will use whatever works best. We will know a lot more next week. But Taliaferro is in a situation that often spawns surprise “sleepers” and it is unlikely we will see that sort of scenario again this year.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
2V: No player is more represented across my many fantasy teams this year than Allen, so these first few weeks have been trying to say the least. The first couple of disappointing showings weren’t unexpected, facing Patrick Peterson and Richard Allen, and while Buffalo has a solid secondary as well I was kinda hoping he’d get back on track last week. I’m admittedly heavily invested, but I’m also buying low on Allen. As noted in this week’s Pick-Up Joint, through three games last week Allen’s stats were even worse than they are right now and yet he still finished 24th among wideouts in fantasy scoring. That San Diego’s backfield has been gutted by injury doesn’t necessarily hurt; it just means more passing, which has to benefit Allen. Way too early to panic, and as I said above if the price is low I’d be buying.
DMD: I was afraid of Allen having a sophomore slump and I believe that is exactly happening. He’s getting all the doubles and Rivers is finding other options. In fairness, he went against ARI, SEA and BUF secondaries. As I covered last summer, the Chargers had the worst swing between a good schedule last year and a bad schedule this year. Would I buy him now? Absolutely – only because his next opponents are JAC, NYJ, OAK, KC and DEN. He’ll look better though his late season schedule gets ugly again. He is slumping but also facing great defenses. He’ll improve but he feasted on an easy schedule as a rookie and by now defenses all know who to watch in this offense.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars
2V: The future is now in Jacksonville, and what we’ve seen of Bortles indicates he should be stashed on a roster in every dynasty league—assuming he wasn’t already. As for what we can expect this year, the outlook is less promising. He’ll be playing behind the same line that just got Chad Henne sacked 10 times. His running game is in flux, with an injured Toby Gerhart unable to provide any sort of chain-moving rhythm and Denard Robinson getting on-the-job training at the position—not necessarily a bad move, by the way. On the bright side his young receiving corps has plenty of talent; if they could only all get healthy at the same time. Assuming at least two or three of Cecil Shorts, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns can stay healthy, Bortles should have ample opportunity to build some garbage-time stats—maybe even offer up an occasional glimpse of the future in a competitive game as well. Now that we’ve hit the bye weeks Bortles comes into play as a viable option in weeks where there’s a favorable matchup. But with no roster carryover, he’ll be the kind of quarterback who yo-yos in and out of the free agent pool over the next couple of months.
DMD: I am trying to wrap my head around what Bortles can do this year. I am still not sure and no one could be. He is considered the best quarterback from this hear’s rookie class. His short play in the summer and last week suggest that is not hype. But the receivers around him are almost all rookies or injury-prone veterans. I’d love him on a dynasty team (which, incidentally, he is on both of my dynasty teams). There are enough soft spots in his schedule that he could be worth starting in a redraft league later in the season if he can prove his worth. He is one to watch but my expectations is that he’ll have three to five good games and need a soft matchup to merit any fantasy attention this year. In 2105 – I’d expect much more.
Chris Johnson, RB, Jets
2V: Word out of New York is that Chris Ivory has played his way into more carries for the Jets, which means they’re taking food off of CJ?K’s plate. Not that Rex Ryan has dished much Johnson’s way: after 18 touches, 91 yards and a score in the opener CJ has just 22 carries in two games, plus one target and no catches. Not coincidentally, the Jets won the game in which Johnson was involved and dropped the two where he wasn’t. So of course Rex wants to follow the blueprint from the “L”s; it’s classic Rex. Sadly, Rex calls the shots and not us so Johnson’s fantasy value is going to take a hit. We can hope the damage isn’t permanent, but CJ needs to get some sort of rhythm going to allow him to hit those home runs we’ve grown accustomed to—and right now that isn’t on the horizon.
DMD: That is an interesting situation in New York and I am not convinced that what it looks like now will remain all season. Whether that means Johnson improves or Chris Ivory declines or both, I am not sure. Ivory is playing in his fifth season. The Jets brought him in last year to be the primary back. He only ran for 833 yards and three touchdowns on 182 carries so they went out and grabbed Johnson to be the #1 back. Johnson topped 1000 yards in all six of his previous seasons. He has never not broke 1000 yards. But he is not having nearly the success in New York that anyone expected or desired. They are limiting him to about a dozen carries per week and after five receptions and a score in week one, Johnson has not been used as a receiver again. Ivory opened with 102 yards in week one but mostly thanks to one long run. He has rushed for only 44 yards or less in the last two games. I own Johnson on a few teams and I am benching him for now and will play him only when the matchup looks very favorable. I don’t buy Ivory as suddenly being a running back stud in the least. For the record, his first five games of 2013 saw him only gain 115 yards on 34 carries for a 3.3 YPC average and just around 23 yards per game total. I am not selling Johnson quite yet. But I am not buying him either. If your roster is small, then I can understand dumping him for a number of other backs.