Chatting Up Players of Interest
Upon Further Review now considers the future value of these players who will enter the postseason with questions by dynasty team owners.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
Stewart gained 110 total yards in week 13 in Minnesota. He gained 155 yards in New Orleans last week (thanks to a 69-yard touchdown run). If you are new to fantasy football – say started in the last three or four years you may hardly know who he is. Those who go back six years or more recall the hyped back who ran for 833 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, then 1133 yards and ten more scores in his second season. And for the last four years, he’s been chasing his tail getting no where with constant injuries including a lingering foot issue. But he was hyped again in the offseason as looking good and healthier than he had in years. That hasn’t really panned out for much until recently and the Panthers running back unit is overall one of the very worst in the league. It has been since Cam Newton showed up to steal yards and almost all the rushing touchdowns. So is Stewart reborn? He is in his seventh season but only turns 28 in March. The Panthers love their split backfield. But DeAngelo Williams turns 32 next year and will be owed around $3 million and Stewart is owed $4.25 million as both are hitting more back loaded seasons. The current offense, manned by Cam Newton has been a running back killer though and so long as Newton is there, it won’t matter. All Stewart can hope for is yardage and the Panthers have just been too committed to the committee backfield. I’d expect more of the same.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos
What is not to love about Anderson? The Broncos have finally found their stud running back hiding on their depth chart all along! But hold on. True enough, these last five games have been huge for Anderson. He’s totaled over 100 yards in almost every game, scored six times in that span and even had back-to-back 160+ rushing yard games. Last week he was held to only 58 yards by the Bills but he scored three touchdowns. It is true – the Broncos have a stud running back on their roster and he is simply anyone they appoint as the starter. Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson, Montee Ball – anyone is going to do well when the defense is scared to death of Manning. For those of you still adamant about Montee Ball being a slug, how does it sound now that he started out against the Colts, Chiefs and Seahawks? He had 80 yards against them all other than in Seattle. He was hurt in the Jets matchup. Anderson is playing so well that he should remain the primary for at least the regular season and maybe the entire playoffs. But come 2015, chances are we have a mess because Hillman and Anderson are in the final year of their contracts and cost peanuts. Ball still has two more years and also costs relative peanuts (all are around $500k each). Best guess is it will be a headache next season guessing who is the primary. It may start now since both Hillman and Ball are practicing. Anderson may be working out great for you right now, but keep your fingers crossed for the next two weeks.
Geno Smith, QB, Jets
The second quarterback taken in 2012 (2.07) has not exactly had a great start to his career and the question to be asked is simply – is he done? As a rookie, he threw for 3046 yards and 12 touchdowns with 21 interceptions. But he ran in six touchdowns and gained 366 more yards. This year in 11 games he’s totaled 1778 yards with eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He’s only run for 195 yards and one score. He’s really never been fantasy relevant other than as a rookie when he was turning in some rush yards and scores. He’s tried to be more of a passing quarterback this year and the results are not good. In fairness, Smith has never really had a chance. As a rookie he was saddled with horrible receivers. This year they brought in Eric Decker who is really just a #3 wideout at best but playing with Peyton Manning made him look like a legitimate #1. So he’s making nice coin now but with only a fraction of the production. Bottom line to me is that Smith is probably done as a starter, he never really had a good chance and he’ll likely end up as a back-up from now on. But where won’t be known since the Jets may end up with a major house cleaning in the offseason.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings
The 1.29 pick in 2013 will be entering his third season next year. Ready for a breakout? Patterson is another one of those players who comes into the NFL with all the supposed tools and physical traits but it has just never come together. Is it time to bail on Patterson for good or stash him in a dynasty league for that classic breakout? I’ve already bailed on Patterson. And he is on my dynasty team until I get around to dumping players in the offseason. There has been nothing in the first two years that says he is going to break out. He had one decent game in 2013 at Baltimore somehow. This season he has really never had a good one but did top out at 86 yards in Tampa Bay. But he’s fallen down to #4 on the depth chart and has no catches in the last two weeks. Patterson has some special teams value because he has the raw ability but as a wideout who has to learn the playbook and run the correct routes – it has never been there and there is no reason to expect it will.
Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers
The future of Green has less to do with himself and more about Antonio Gates who turns 35 next summer and is owed $5.9 million in the final year of his contract. He is the oldest tight end in the NFL by two years (along with only Benjamin Watson). Does he retire or get forced out or return for a nearly unprecedented season at the age of 35? Tony Gonzalez returned and played at the age of 37 but he’s sort of in a class of his own (the Jerry Rice of tight ends). Green had some hype last season that just never materialized since this year he’s been held to only 19 catches and no scores. But Green will be in the final year of his rookie contract and only cost $660k to the Chargers so they could save significant cash losing Gates and going with Green. The problem here is that Gates had a revival year and he is going to end with his best season since 2009. His touchdowns are down to only four but there has been no talk of retirement and nothing to suggest that Green is going to see more work next year. Dynasty league miners who like to grab guys for next year can consider taking Green so long as it costs you nothing, but chances are he’s not going to amount to much more than his first three years.