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.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
2V: Despite what the Minnesota coaching staff has been saying, there is no concerted effort to get Matt Asiata a larger share of the workload. The Vikings are test-driving McKinnon to see if he’s capable of replacing Adrian Peterson as the feature back, and thus far he’s been pretty good. But he’s hardly a lock, and a date with a Washington defense that’s allowed only two very good backs—Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray—to have success against them should keep expectations in check. Also, a Washington D that’s allowed one RB TD doesn’t feel like the venue for McKinnon to break his NFL maiden. That lack of a likely touchdown is what really puts a limit on his projected value—that and negative receiving yards two weeks straight. What he’s left with then is rushing yards against a defense that’s allowed only two elite backs to top 75 yards against them; color me pessimistic.
DMD: I like McKinnon the more I see him but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I think he is average or better. He ran for 135 yards on 18 runs when the Falcons visited but who doesn’t? He was easily slowed down by the Packers and Lions which counts pretty big as a divisional rival. But he gained 103 yards in Buffalo and then 83 yards in Tampa Bay. Not bad. This week he is at home against the Redskins and while Tuvey apparently is down on him, I’d start him. I suppose some of the disconnect was that I predicted a touchdown and as one person noted, I did that after I said he had never scored a touchdown before. I’ll grant you – that is a stretch though he has to score one eventually and he is at home against a Redskins team I think may play a little flat because of their big win last week. I like the yardage with Murray turning in 141 yards last week when the Skins visited. It may be a little aggressive but the Skins are also on their second straight road trip. Touchdowns are always hard to call for most players and I only gave him three “stars” for confidence meaning I think there is a fair chance of reaching the projection but there are too many variables at play to consider his prediction rock solid.
Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers
2V: I don’t necessarily disagree with the receiving half of Oliver’s projections; I said as much in his write-up. But I’m not as confident in the rushing side, for reasons also stated in the SBL: Oliver’s attempts lagged the past two games, and along with it his productivity. Maybe he’s wearing down a bit, maybe the league has enough game film on him to make adjustments, maybe it was just playing motivated interdivisional defenses. Miami on the road isn’t a particularly favorable matchup, so I’ll meet DMD in the middle on the projections and say receiving side a-okay, rushing side I’m taking the under.
DMD: I gave Oliver two touchdowns and that certainly rockets anyone up the charts. Donald Brown is returning which I have to believe is a complete non-event as badly as he played and as good as Oliver has been. But the Dolphins are allowing about 80 rushing yards per visitor in Miami. And Oliver ran for 114, 101, and 67 yards in the last three games prior to the Denver fiasco when he only had 13 carries. I also like that he catches at least four passes in all but one game. My yardage projections fall in line with what the Fins are allowing and what Oliver has been producing. It wouldn’t be the first time Oliver had two scores in a game – he did that against the Jets in week five. Joe McKnight and Matt Forte both scored twice on the Fins. As always – touchdowns are single plays and as such are harder to rely on. If you can live with the yardage, start him and take the scores as gravy if they occur.
Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens
2V: Not sure where the disconnect is here; DMD has Forsett projected for 80 scrimmage yards and a score and the SBL has him as a solid start. He’ll get the majority of the carries, with a dose of Lorenzo Taliaferro sprinkled in, and the Steelers are consistently serving up a healthy chunk of yardage—like to Bernard Pierce in the earlier meeting. And of course Forsett makes up for any lacking rushing numbers with receiving stats, which the Steelers of late have been more than forthcoming in providing. So, yeah… what was the issue again?
DMD: I have Forsett with 80 total yards and one score and Tuvey considers him as “solid”. That certainly seems pretty solid to me. He was limited in practice which may be the cause of concern but he returned on Thursday and is still expected to play. I’ll update tomorrow based on what happens Friday. If he comes out as questionable, I’ll probably drop the projections though so consider this one an incomplete until after Friday practice.
Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers
2V: Sims is about to lose his greatest advantage: he hasn’t had an opportunity to disappoint the Bucs yet. Doug Martin has been nothing but disappointing for the past two seasons, and every time Tampa tries to hand the job to Bobby Rainey he drops the ball—literally. Those guys are holdovers from the old regime; Sims is a Day Two draft pick. Which guy is going to get a serious look with the backing of the coaches who are on the hook for his success? Of course it’ll be Sims. Whether he’s able to do much of anything behind that offensive line remains to be seen, but he’s a quality pass catcher so he won’t have to leave the field on Tampa’s many third-and-longs or when they’re forced to throw while playing catch-up. And he hasn’t disappointed fantasy owners… yet.
DMD: Charles Sims certain evokes rampant optimism in the fantasy world at least for some. And anytime a new running back shows upon the waiver wire it is like throwing a chicken into the alligator pit. There are plenty of instances where a back shows up at mid-season for whatever reason and then succeeds wildly down the stretch. Would I add him to my team if I had the space? Sure! I have limited expectations about what Sims will become but just in case he beats the odds and can shine, I want him on my roster (or at least not on anyone else’s roster). But the thing is that Sims is no lock to play this week and even when he does, his role would be small to begin. He’s been out for about three months and not been playing. Not even in the preseason. He was a third round pick out of West Virginia and does have prototypical size (6-0/214). And he was selected by the current coaching regime which counts big. But he goes to an offense that has a terrible offensive line. Aside from the one freakish game that Bobby Rainey had against the Rams, there has been nothing going on in the backfield of the Buccaneers. Doug Martin was a stud two years ago – is it that he just lost a step at the age of 25? His season-ending injury in 2013 was a shoulder issue – not a blown out knee. I am all for the unknown rookie backs being on my roster to see what happens but I have limited expectations in this case. He’s just a rookie who missed three critical months on a very bad team.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
2V: Jay Gruden’s offense should be a great fit for RG3, but he’s going to need reps to get up to speed. He hadn’t yet mastered it through the early season, so it may take a couple weeks to get back in the groove. Expectations have to be checked for this week, but then there’s a bye and a home date with the fantasy-friendly Tampa Bay secondary. He should be hitting his stride by then, through a couple neutral matches followed by two fantasy-friendly matchups during the typical three-game fantasy playoffs. RG3 should also have all his receiving targets at his disposal and a solid ground game behind him. Color me optimistic at his potential to be a fantasy factor down the stretch.
DMD: Getting injured may be the best thing for RG3 since no one is hoping that Kirk Cousins gets to play anymore. He may play this week and the matchup is good. If not, he has a bye for week ten and then comes back against the visiting Buccaneers – usually a very good thing. His schedule looks good though road trips to IND and SF are going to be a challenge. But his return should re-energize the passing game and take up out of being just dink and dunk with about every sixth pass being a bomb thrown to DeSean Jackson. Pierre Garcon may not return to the 113 catches of 2013 but he’s certain to improve very pedestrian numbers since Cousins just never clicked with him. Griffin returns to a healthy Jordan Reed, his old buddy Garcon and the new deep receiver Jackson. His ongoing value should certainly flirt with top ten status aside from the two tough road games.