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.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots
2V: Tom Brady indicated earlier this year he liked having a non-midget target to throw to, at a point when LaFell was pretty much the only wideout on the Patriots’ roster able to get on all the rides at Disney World without an adult chaperone. And LaFell has seen a steady dose of targets, four or more in every game he’s played and six or more in four of the six. He’s also produced four catches in four of the last five, a couple games with 90-plus yards, and three TDs. I own him in more than a couple leagues and am certainly not against playing him when the matchup is right. This week’s matchup isn’t awful, as the receivers who have found success against Chicago have tended to be of larger stature a la the 6-2, 211-pound LaFell. The discrepancy between his P&P and an SBL ranking that falls just on the wrong side of the start/bench equation is exacerbated by his projected touchdown, which is probably why we’re discussing him here. I wouldn’t feel outgunned if forced to play LaFell this week; there were just 40 or so players who are better options this week, and I had to draw a line somewhere.
DMD: The Bears secondary is only getting worse and Brady is throwing better. I like LaFell for the 4-60 I projected and it could be more. I like the chance for Brady to throw three scores as well and LaFell is more likely than any wideout to catch a touchdown so far this season and while he only has three, that is tied for the team lead with Rob Gronkowski. I don’t think LaFell is anything special other than he is playing with Tom Brady who has a lack of other play makers. The only time in the last five games that LaFell fell short of the neighborhood of my projection was when they demolished the Bengals and Shane Vereen had his big two-touchdown game as a receiver.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins
2V: I’m certainly not anti-Tannehill this week; he gets a start grade in the SBL, albeit in the low-end Fringe tier. The temptation is to see Jacksonville on the schedule and assume a walkover; ask the Browns, fresh off dismantling the Steelers, how that worked out for them last week. Two of Tannehill’s last three games fall almost exactly where DMD is projecting him this week, and I’m certainly not going to quibble with him when it comes to projections. I’d contend, however, that a Jacksonville pass defense that ranks second only to Indy in fewest fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks the past three weeks might be less inclined to cede those numbers to Tannehill than either the Bears or Raiders were. 270 and 2 is absolutely not out of the question for Tannehill, but as noted with LaFell above I came up with 16 or so guys I felt better about hitting those numbers this week.
DMD: Here is the deal with Tannehill. He;s thrown for 240+ yards in four of the last five games and is on a three game streak with double touchdowns. And that has lasted through bad teams (OAK) and good teams (GB) and two road and two home games. He’s not setting the world on fire but he is being rather consistent with about 250 yards and two scores. I like consistently a lot. The Jaguars are hard to peg because they are not only not very good, but that teams sometimes play down to them. Sometimes they score a lot. Miami to Jacksonville is not exactly a big road trip either. My projection this week is as much about what the Fins bring to the match as what the Jags have allowed. They have given up as much as 370 passing yards with four scores or twice they held opponents to no passing scores. Tannehill certainly could do worse and it would be no major shock here but I like the projection.
Percy Harvin, WR, Jets
2V: Yawn. Maybe it’s because I’ve already seen his act wear thin up close in Minnesota—and I was riding his MVP-like final season right up until one of his many injuries cut it short. Despite the vast potential, despite the standout Super Bowl and recent game with three touchdowns wiped out by penalties, the bottom line is that Harvin isn’t even a top-60 fantasy wide receiver. And now he moves from a team that didn’t used to pass much but has a talented quarterback, to another team that doesn’t pass much and has… let’s just say a significant downgrade at the quarterback position. Harvin openly railed against the quarterbacking in Minnesota; you think he’s going to take to Geno Smith in New York? Also tough to believe that Marty Mornhinweg is going to suddenly find ways to use Harvin that Darrell Bevell didn’t during his two tours with Percy. Add in the reports that Harvin has burned bridges at every stop along his football career and the chances for this story having a happy fantasy ending are slim. Plus, would it be at all surprising if Harvin’s migraine issues returned after leaving the state of Washington, perhaps because self-medicating might become a more difficult proposition? Just sayin’.
DMD: I am currently torn on Harvin’s outlook. For about 95% of me thinks that Harvin is just a head case with some talent. He played for the Vikings who dearly love their players. He played for the Seahawks when they were unbeatable and he really wasn’t even needed not that he was available much anyway. Now he plays in New York where the media and fans are brutal and the team is teetering on implosion. I somehow have him on my dynasty team (hint – never bid up players you actually do not want). But I am not looking to add him on any teams and would have never drafted him. The 5% of me who would consider touching him is only because he had a bigger role back in Minnesota and the Seahawks were never going to throw much anyway. The Jets desperately need help before everyone is fired at the end of the year (or sooner). But even if the “good Harvin” shows up – if such exists – he still won’t likely offer the consistency merit fantasy consideration.
Bryce Brown, RB, Bills
2V: Everybody loves potential, everybody wants to be first on board for the Next Big Thing, so everyone is rushing to grab Bryce Brown. Makes sense in a dynasty league, as it’s entirely possible CJ Spiller has played his last game for the Bills and any time you can pick up a back with the potential for significant carries off the waiver wire you have to do so. But Brown hasn’t exactly pushed Spiller aside; he hasn’t even been able to crack the active roster this year until Spiller went down. And indications out of Buffalo are that he’s expected to handle the Spiller role in that offense. So that means ceding goal line carries to Anthony Dixon now and Fred Jackson when he returns while providing the Bills with a dozen or so touches in hopes one of them hits a home run. There are maybe two startable dates left on Brown’s schedule, Week 13 against Cleveland and Week 16 in Oakland. That’s more than a month out, with Jackson’s timetable for return currently at two to four weeks. Again, there’s no question Brown is worth a stash in dynasty leagues, but his redraft league potential isn’t worth breaking the FAAB bank over. Why chase Spiller junior when Spiller senior was nothing but fantasy heartbreak over and over again?
DMD: This season has been rife with running backs coming and going and the ones that stick (say Forsett) are surprises. And just because a back has one or two really good games doesn’t necessarily mean much. I see Brown as just another average back. He is not bad. He is no difference maker compared to the many other backs in the league. He’s going to get what is blocked like most backs. He has a very tough schedule left to play starting with this week so he’s not likely to offer that much. As John said, Jackson will return and Brown takes a lesser role replacing C.J. Spiller. This assumes that Anthony Dixon is the next forehead-slap. Dixon thinks he is the man now and he’s certainly going to play like it. I guess bottom line to me is that best case is Brown is the primary for a few games against really good defenses and then takes a back seat to Jackson. You get a few weeks of moderate production. The worse case is he’s another C.J. Anderson or Christine Michael or another handful of backs who seems good in theory last summer but just never panned out. Me? I am not buying.
Tre Mason, RB, Rams
2V: Mason’s potential, along with a lack of faith in Zac Stacy, intrigued me enough to draft Mason in at least one league this preseason. Unfortunately I didn’t have the patience to stick with him through more than a month of zero touches so while my assessment of Stacy appears accurate I have nothing left to show for it. I’m a little slower to buy into Mason at this juncture primarily because it’s become clear Jeff Fisher will play the hot hand. Right now that’s Mason, but with three straight tough matchups followed by a pair that show as neutral on paper but in reality—vs. Denver, at San Diego—are no picnic it’s entirely possible the Rams’ backfield rotation will shuffle itself again once or twice before the next favorable matchup. At 5-8, 207 Mason’s not a classic goal line guy and his experience in the passing game both as a receiver and a protector is extremely limited; the former would be a way for him to keep fantasy value even in a rotation, the latter is a way rookies earn or keep (or lose) playing time. Again, he’s a guy I’d love to stash on a dynasty league roster because with some experience and an opportunity to work through some growing pains he has significant upside—plus the Rams spent a third-round pick on him, so they’re more invested in him than either Stacy or Benny Cunningham. But there are too many ways things could go south the rest of the way—strength of schedule, Stacy and Cunningham still in the mix for touches—for me to bank on Mason as a guy who can be a key cog in a fantasy championship run this year.
DMD: We had three backs that were waiver wire items this week. Bryce Brown (above), Denard Robinson (converted quarterback with one good game) and Mason. I have acquired Mason in a few leagues. The Jags are not a good team and their offensive line is the bigger problem. The Browns wanted to mail in the game last week so Robinson looked way better than I would expect this week. But Mason was a stud in college, was in line for the Heisman and brings in pedigree and success at a high level. When he runs, he shows much more power than Stacy or any other Ram. I can see Mason being the full-time primary back this time next year. Not so with Brown or Robinson. My expectations are tempered with the fact that Mason has a streak of bad matchups coming in the next month. But I will think he is worth owning and is just starting to make his mark.