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.
Andre Holmes, WR, Raiders
2V: The Raiders have been a fantasy wasteland for quite some time, so the trepidation towards Holmes as a legitimate fantasy entity is understandable. This time, however, feels different. Holmes isn’t an Al Davis speed-first project; he’s a tantalizing size-speed combo platter whom his current coach compares to Brandon Marshall. He’s not a wide-eyed rookie; he’s a former undrafted free agent who’s battled through three different practice squads and a suspension for performance enhancing drugs to emerge as the Raiders’ top target. He has James Jones for veteran mentorship, a strong-armed quarterback to feed him the ball, a defense that will force his team to play catch-up, and $60 million in Raiders cap space waiting for a potential free agent to step up and claim. There may be some short-term growing pains for Holmes and Derek Carr, though I unloaded plenty of FAAB this week that says I expect the pains to be mild. And long-term, Carr to Holmes has all kinds of fantasy potential. Or, if the Raiders whiff on keeping the tandem together, maybe Holmes finds a new home with another big-armed quarterback desperate for a man of Holmes’ obvious talents. Either way, I’m definitely buying.
DMD: Andre Holmes is a hard one to peg. I had him as one of the sleepers that I liked last summer and he even landed on a team or two of mine along the way. He is 6-4/210 and very fast. We are all waiting for someone – anyone – to show up in Oakland in a positive light and Holmes seemed to have an inside track on in this summer. But he once again got beat out at the end of the preseason. Holmes only scored once last season but was used for around four catches in each of the final five games and had a high of 136 yards on seven catches in Dallas. (meh – who didn’t?). That mostly happened since he played for the Cowboys in 2012 but only managed two catches. I definitely think Holmes needs to be owned and gaining 121 yards and two scores on the Chargers last week was impressive. But the only two games where he’s produced fantasy value were both at home. I’d want to see him one more time before I could commit to starting him but he provides a nice big target for Derek Carr and he is just 26 years old. I’ve followed him for a while now and he looks like he is turning the corner finally.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
2V: It would be a whole lot easier to be bullish on Beckham’s fantasy fortunes if the Giants’ offense as a whole hadn’t crapped the bed last week against Philly. And yet… I still am. The Giants’ brain trust liked Beckham enough to spend a first-round pick on him last May, and despite his wearing Tom Coughlin’s patience to the nub with a nagging hamstring injury that cost him much of OTAs, training camp, and even the early portion of the regular season he moved directly into the lineup—and the end zone—once he got healthy. Now, with Victor Cruz out for the year, Beckham gets to play the Randall Cobb role in Ben McAdoo’s Packer-esque offense as well as provide a home run threat whenever the Giants want to go deep. New York’s track record of generating productive receivers is pretty solid, another reason I’m buying into Beckham as both a short-term fantasy helper and a quality long-term dynasty option.
DMD: This is the combination of two very significant and powerful events. First, the Giants went out to get a play maker at wide receiver and spend their first round pick on Beckham – the 12th overall selection in the draft and the third wideout selected. Beckham was a hotshot at LSU and brings an all-around talent that should translate eventually into being a #1 wideout for an NFL team. Add to that the loss of Victor Cruz which is just big for the Giants and not in a good way. Beckham has to learn the ropes and he was delayed playing by a hamstring injury anyway. But Eli Manning needs something much more than Rueben Randle – a #3 miscast as a #2 and Preston Parker. Beckham is going to get every opportunity to do something big as a rookie from here on out. I’d love to have him on all my teams to see what happens.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
2V: The plan made tons of sense: ease the rookie franchise QB into the mix behind a veteran caretaker, all the while riding on the shoulders of the best running back in the game. One of the many side benefits of the plan was that it allowed the Vikings time to develop the athletic McKinnon, an option quarterback in college, into a full-fledged NFL running back. And then it all went south. Now McKinnon has to learn the nuances of his position on the fly as he attempts to provide the Vikings with some semblance of a ground game behind a banged up and underachieving offensive line—and in front of the aforementioned rookie quarterback. Is he the heir to Adrian Peterson’s throne in Minnesota, or will the Vikings follow the route of so many other teams and employ a backfield by committee with McKinnon as merely one cog in the machine? Redrafters don’t much care; what they do care about is a Vikings schedule that’s far too long on difficult matchups for running backs. And with the team announcing this week that they want to get Matt Asiata more work, McKinnon’s short-term fantasy value is extremely limited. Long term it’s tough to see him as more than just a part of the solution, a change of pace guy to complement the sort of workhorse Norv Turner prefers. So while the Vikings fan in me hopes for the best for McKinnon, the fantasy realist in me doesn’t see much short- or long-term fantasy upside.
DMD: I am going to have to agree with Tuvey. I have somewhat limited longer-term expectations of McKinnon because I just do not like college quarterbacks converted to running back. They can turn into great wide receivers – Hines Ward is a good example. But the rigors of being a full-time back means the skill set to succeed involves a lot more collision that a quarterback is used to experiencing. I also do not buy that the Vikings would wait until the 3.32 pick to go get an heir apparent for Adrian Peterson who was already getting older before his fiasco blew up. I do like him more than Matt Asiata but I cannot imagine McKinnon will be talked about much next summer.
Zac Stacy, RB, Rams
2V: The Zac Stacy bandwagon had plenty of riders this preseason, but he hasn’t been anywhere near as effective this season as he was after taking over the starting gig midway through last year. And when Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason started getting touches and Jeff Fisher talked about the Rams’ backfield as a three-headed committee… well, that was all she wrote for Stacy as a go-to fantasy back. And there isn’t much reason to expect a return to normal, what with the Rams staring down the barrel of one of the more difficult remaining slates for running backs. If forced to pick a horse in this race I’d go with Mason; he’s a guy the team actually invested a semi-early draft pick in. Fortunately for me I can follow the plan espoused in Brewster’s Millions and vote for “None of the Above”; oh that such an option would be available this November..
DMD: What is not to hate about the Rams backfield? Considering that HC Jeff Fisher has a great career using Eddie George, Chris Johnson and eventually Steven Jackson as workhorse backs, he’s changed completely to treating the position like it was another placekicker. In 2013 it was Daryl Richardson and later Zac Stacy took over in week six and would run between 18 and 33 times per week. The guy ran for 973 yards and seven scores in roughly half a season. He beat out 2012 2.18 pick of Isaiah Pead. But this year he’s been held under 12 carries in all but one game. Benny Cunningham gets mixes in, steals a few touchdowns and now Tre Mason finally shows up and worst of all – he looks good. Granted it was only five carries for 40 yards. But at least Mason has the pedigree from college days for whatever that is worth. The only player I want from this mess would be Tre Mason deep on my roster. Because if anyone is going to ever take over a big workload again, it will be him. Even if he does it may not last a year as we have already seen. But he’s the only hope this doesn’t turn into the Carolina-style backfield of comedy.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
2V: No question, I bit and I bit hard; coming into the season I was—still am, actually—heavily invested in Allen across multiple teams. At first I was able to write off the early struggles as due to tough matchups. Then Allen teased with that 10-135 and all was right with the world… until Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal kept swiping Allen’s touchdowns and Allen kept laying fantasy eggs. Sadly, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel as the Chargers have completed the easy portion of their slate and now face the third-toughest remaining schedule for wide receivers. I haven’t yet brought myself to outright drop Allen, but I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind. And if anyone comes knocking, it won’t be difficult to pull the trigger and bid him adieu. Sophomore slump, indeed..
DMD: I think that Allen’s success last year was a testament to both Philip Rivers and to the rookie who came in after being injured his senior season at CAL. No one saw it coming – he was supposed to be getting 100% healthy last year and learn the NFL. Instead he posted six 100 yard games and scored eight times. Thoroughly impressive and the best rookie wideout by a large margin. But what to think about this year? To me it is just a sophomore slump and I am not worried too much in his long-term view. Allen is the #1 guy and gets all the focus and this season has a far more challenging schedule than 2013 (remember Ryan Matthews freakishly good year as well). I do not anticipate him being another Michael Clayton who peaks as a rookie. But a tougher schedule and defenses looking for him are depressing his stats. I think he’ll bounce back in 2015.