Fantasy playoffs have started in many big contests and are coming up for regular leagues. Every game is important now – it’s either trying to reach the playoffs or trying to stay there. Here are some guys that are important this week.
Josh Gordon – This is either going to be the comeback story of all time or one of those “what were we thinking?” sort of situations. He had one good season back in 2013 when he went 87-1646-9 while catching passes from Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, and Brandon Weeden. That was before Johnny Manziel was drafted. Gordon came back and played the final five games in 2014 but never scored and totaled just 303 yards on 24 catches.
Gordon excelled in 2013 and broke 100 yards seven times including exceeding 200 yards twice. If he scores this year, it will be four years since his last touchdown. The Browns are plenty desperate, and he’s not going to be any worse than what is already there besides Coleman. This should be fascinating but Gordon will be playing at the Chargers, Packers, Ravens, at the Bears, and at the Steelers. That is not going to make his comeback any easier.
Jimmy Garoppolo – The 49ers have thrown the switch to Garopplo in the hopes that Kyle Shanahan’s offense can be installed that much quicker. The reality is that there were be some changes at wideout next year so this is mostly about getting him some playing time in the system. The season was over long ago and the move makes the 49ers more competitive anyway. They are designing the gameplan to win the game. This is not just to immerse Garoppolo in the offense,
He won’t have any cold weather games but he starts out against the Bears defense that ranks No. 7 against quarterbacks. But he’ll head to Houston next and then host the Titans. He’s only started two games in his three-plus seasons in New England so there is almost nothing to go on. Time will tell if he is another Brett Favre (originally a Falcon) or just the next Matt Cassel.
Eli Manning – Not that it hasn’t been beaten to death by now, but why not throw my own two cents in? When the news broke, it struck me as a bizarre move that seemed akin to Ben McAdoo getting ready to move on and deciding to burn the house down when he left. At the least, it was a public-relations snafu for a team that needed no more challenges or reasons for fans to tune out.
After some thought, I still disagree with it. At least in how it was handled. Yes, the season is over and there is nothing to win. I can understand wanting to get some playing time for Davis Webb. I cannot imagine what there is to gain by playing Geno Smith who already who was already a two-year starter in his career. Especially since he is playing with a set of receivers that will not be the starters in 2018. The move signals the Giants throwing in the towel so whatever happens will relate little to what starting in 2018 would be.
Bottom line, I’d let Eli start the games and play in them and once the game was out of hand (as they will), then insert Webb. The Giants may be stripped down significantly next year in a “start over” mode. It is a shame for the fans that they found out how to make their worst season in decades just that much worse.
Ricky Seals-Jones – This is exactly why you always jump on any player that has a big, unexpected game (providing you have roster room). RSJ caught three passes for 54 yards and two scores in Houston during Week 11 for his debut. Trust me, there are plenty of one-time big games for any position. This year Ed Dickson (5-175), Tyler Higbee (4-98) and Gerald Everett (3-95) were just a few examples. But Seals-Jones faced the Jaguars and upped his game with four catches for 72 yards and a score. Most waiver wires are shut down for the year so anyone taking the plunge last week may have something for the rest of the way. Consider the tight end rankings for the defenses he’ll face in Week 15 (@WAS – No. 28) and 16 (NYG – No. 32).
Raiders – The Giants are a team teetering on implosion and travel to Oakland to face the Raiders who are also missing their two starting wideouts. Cordarrelle Patterson will play the X (split end) and also play special teams. Johnny Holton will replace Amari Cooper as the Z (flanker). I can’t wait to see this game because almost anything might happen. Geno Smith brings one of the worst offenses and what is likely the most dispirited teams. That should work out well for Marshawn Lynch but the Giants have been better versus the run. Patterson, Jared Cook, and Holton should have an unusually productive game. Janoris Jenkins is out and the Giants were already No. 23 versus wideouts and No. 32 against tight ends.
Rookie Running Backs – I think, at least I hope, that the NFL is coming full circle on the value of a running back. Using standard point-per-reception scoring, the top eleven running backs contain four rookies. Alvin Kamara (3), Kareem Hunt (4), Christian McCaffrey (10) and Leonard Fournette (11) have all sky-rocketed to the top of their position as a rookie. And that was with Dalvin Cook on IR.
Since nothing predicts future drafts like current results, imagine how much confidence is going to be placed on the 2018 crop of rookies. There were years past that no rookie back was in the top 30. Now they assume a big chunk of the top players.