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.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins
2V: In broad terms, the question is whether or not Cousins is a legit every-week fantasy starter or a matchup QB. If you witnessed the Giants debacle… well, let’s not end the argument prematurely. Cousins was competent against a stout Seattle defense thanks to a couple of home run shots to DeSean Jackson; now he gets to travel cross-country and test another solid NFC West secondary. As noted in the SBL writeup the Cards have struggled to stop Mannings this season—both on the road, mind you—but they fared pretty well against Philip Rivers (238 & 1) and Colin Kaepernick (245 & 1) in their house. Granted, if Patrick Peterson is out or limited that changes things a bit, but for the moment assume you’re getting the full Arizona D. Can Cousins do what Rivers and Kaepernick couldn’t—namely, get two TDs? Neither the Chargers (20) nor the Niners (9? Really?) ran the ball nearly as much as the Redskins are likely to do, so I don’t think the full onus falls on Cousins. In fact, after the Giants game I doubt Jay Gruden wants things to shake down that way ever again. DMD and I seem to be in agreement on the yardage—I’d lean closer to 250 than the 270, but we’re in the same cul de sac—so the sticking point is the TD. DMD can have the over, I’ll take the under… and hopefully I have a better fantasy option at my disposal.
DMD: Anytime you rely on Cousins you are taking a chance – that is a reality. The guy has been really good on a few occasions and not so hot in others. But since the Redskins are more often playing from behind, you will be throwing 32+ times as the quarterback. I like the ball in the air. I know that Manning shredded the Cardinals and ruined their defensive ranking and that doesn’t have a lot of similarities to this game. But so far every opponent has thrown for at least 238 yards against the Cardinals and admittedly just one score when at Arizona. But the rushing effort is almost certainly going to be no help this week and whatever happens will go through Cousins. I do want to see what happens with Patrick Peterson who sprained his ankle last week because if he is hobbled or does not play, I feel a lot better about this projection. Bottom line – I do not think the Skins can score on the ground against them and the Cardinals have always allowed at least 14 points in every game. That has to come from two passing scores even if it is at the end of the game in trash time.
Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings
2V: In games where he fails to reach the end zone, Asiata is a single-digit fantasy scorer. Moreover, there’s nothing particularly special about his 3.7 yards per carry and Jerick McKinnon is horning in on his action in the passing game (feels like I’ve read that somewhere before…). So Asiata’s fantasy value hinges on him scoring a touchdown. Not saying it’s impossible, but against a Lions’ D that’s allowed only two RB TDs in five games improbable isn’t too strong a word. Fortunately DMD put down the cognac long enough to remove at least one of Asiata’s TDs from his projection. As DMD is fond of saying, touchdowns are unique one-play events; in this case I don’t think Asiata is unique enough—especially given the matchup—to be banked on for a touchdown. That leaves him with some yardage, and not nearly enough to lock down a starting gig in a typical fantasy lineup.
DMD: Tuvey says to sit him and I probably would as well. The confusion I caused was because I awarded him a rushing and a receiving touchdown and I am already going to drop the receiving score in my update. The problem with the rushing score is that it could go to Asiata. It could go to Jerick McKinnon. It might end up with Teddy Bridgewater. So what my projections really say is that he’ll rush for only 30 yards and get maybe 20 yards receiving. A total of 50 yards. There is a chance of a touchdown but not a strong one. I’d say evaluate him on the yardage alone – is that a starter to you?
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
2V: Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to Week 3 when Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount stormed into Carolina and left with 147 and 118 rushing yards, respectively, with Blount kicking in a touchdown for good measure. Now here come the Bengals, with run-centric OC Hue Jackson pounding the rock with his one-two punch of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. In all likelihood AJ Green sits this one out, leaving Cincy with virtually no reliable pass-catchers on the roster—as if Jackson needed further reason to run. It’s not at all difficult seeing Cincy follow the lead of their AFC North brethren and run the ball 31 times (like Pittsburgh did against Carolina) or 29 times (like Baltimore did against Carolina). That means Hill is probably looking at a dozen or more touches this week, at the 6.7 yards a pop he’s averaging (4.8 per carry), against a defense that’s surrendering 165 combo yards and more than a TD per game to opposing backs. Even as the junior member of Cincy’s committee, all those factors coming together like they are scream “great start”.
DMD: I would personally fall short of saying that Hill is a great start. As the #2 back, I am not sure I would ever consider him more than “good” unless Giovani Bernard was injured. Hill faces the Panthers but that’s not as fearsome as it once was and even less so when they are the visitors. The Bengals should be primed to bounce back after their defeat in New England. I had Hill with 40 rush yards and a score plus three catches for 20 yards. Unlike the Asiata above, I feel better about Hill scoring. That’s one reason why Asiata had two confidence stars and Hill has four. I am going to be upgrading the rushing game tomorrow since A.J. Green is not going to play and the Bengals will want to run the ball more. So Hill is a good start. To call him great depends on what else you have to use.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
2V: The bullet here is that see a Fred Jackson touchdown as far more likely than a CJ Spiller touchdown. Yes, the Patriots have trouble stopping the run on the road and as noted in the SBL Spiller is always a home run threat. Unfortunately, he’s a home run threat in the same way that Adam Dunn or, going back to the era when I actually paid attention to baseball, Rob Deer or Dave Kingman is a home run threat: a .220 hitter who’ll launch the occasional—and very impressive—long ball. Tough to trust guys like that in your lineup, especially when they’re sharing carries. Hence, Spiller is a fringe fantasy play—maybe the kind of desperation swing you plug into your lineup after having shards of TY Hilton removed from your backside following the Thursday night game.
DMD: I have Spiller down for about an average game – 60 rushing yards and then three catches for 20 yards and one score. Spiller was benched last week for missing a block but he’s back at home this week and he usually turns in around 50 to 6o rush yards in home games. The Patriots are coming in after their really big win over the Bengals and I would expect them to play a bit flat as most teams do after such a game. The Patriots have been giving up big rushing yardage in away games this year – the Chiefs ripped them for 169 yards and in the season opener the Fins ran for 192 yards. I like that the Patriots have already allowed three passing scores to running backs and at least one in each road game. Tuvey sees Spiller as a fringe play but I am a little higher because of the Pats being on the road after a bog emotional win and they have been softer against running backs anyway.
Steve Smith, WR, Ravens
2V: I knew as soon as I looked back at my notes and saw that I’d given Joe Flacco a B+ for this week that I’d undersold Smith; if Flacco is anything higher than a C, it means his pass catchers should be in for a treat. I’d argue that the receivers who’ve had success against the Bucs have been bigger dudes like Julio Jones and Kelvin Benjamin, but Smith has been fighting the little man’s fight long enough; I think he’s proven when it comes to his pass-catching size doesn’t matter. He’s already achieved every-week starter status, and I’ll officially green-light any upward movement on Smith’s expectation level heading into the weekend.
DMD: It is nice to see a wideout in his twilight change teams and he’s not just drawing a paycheck. He’s not just riding out the final chance to make ridiculous money. Smith is a gamer and he wants to succeed. He has been reborn in Baltimore. He has yet to have a bad game. Now he faces the Buccaneers who rank 29th against wide receivers (PPR scoring). Catching passes from Joe Flacco is night and day from Cam Newton. The Bucs have already allowed big games to Kelvin Benjamin (6-92, TD) in his first NFL game, Julio Jones (9-161-2) and Antonio Brown (7-131, 2 TD). Smith is the primary weapon of the Ravens now. He may not have the two scores I projected for him (though two others have done that against the Buccaneers in the last three weeks). But he is a must start every week and the Buccaneers are better against the run at home. Cannot imagine a reason for not starting Smith this week.