Listen, I know everyone wants the ball. Even down to a pick-up game or intramural flag football, everyone’s looking to make the catches.
But when I saw what Roy Williams said about having more chemistry with Jay Cutler to try and convince the Bears’ coaching staff to feed him the ball (that motive is my speculation, but obvious I think), I about lost it:
“I can’t get detailed on [what happened before with Cutler], but it’s just certain pass routes [where] I’m like, What I got?’ He’d be like, ‘You’ve got the such and such.’ [Then], I’m like: Alright, my bad.”
Maybe the “such and such” Cutler was talking about is horrible hands. Whatever the case, Williams knows that he has been one of the NFL’s biggest busts on talent at WR.
Which got me thinking… fantasy sports has become a great barometer of skills players’ values, hasn’t it? Of course there have always been stats, but now players are more intently followed every week, new players that break out are known of much quicker and added to fantasy teams, while players that bust are dropped even quicker, making Roy Williams not a bust for just the Lions, Cowboys, and Bears (oh my!) but a bust for anyone that thought he’d be a big part of their fantasy team. I have actually never drafted Williams, but it’s funny to see him get any sort of press after one good game. What’s even funnier? He’s owned in 51.3% of ESPN leagues (vs. only 12% owned in Yahoo leagues – which is still baffling).
So I had to go back and think about how well players’ ownership percentages actually translate into players’ real-life values. Of course there are going to be dead teams and autopicks that are never addressed, but Chad Ochocinco is over the 50% mark as well? Really? And started in 9.8% of leagues? Now these numbers are starting to look ridiculous.
I apologize to getting to my point so circuitously, but all I’m trying to do is debunk the values of % started and % owned players. Of course I still accompany my picks with their % started numbers just for reference, but they don’t really mean anything. Unless you think your WR core of Roy Williams and Chad Ochocinco is gonna take you all the way.
Looking at last week’s picks, it was a pretty solid outing with Jackie Battle proving his worth, Pierre Thomas sneaking in a TD, and Antonio Brown having a definite legit outing. Jabar Gaffney and Demaryius Thomas both had poor games, but at least Gaffney snuck in 4 points. Thomas disappeared. For guys I said to bench, BenJarvus Green-Ellis put up a goose egg (how’d that work out for you “maybe the writer plays in a 4 team league” Pefacommish) and Miles Austin still hasn’t worked his way back into the offense. MJD got bailed out by scoring a late 4th quarter touchdown, Jeremy Maclin would have had only 16 yards if you took out the first 5 minutes of Sunday Night Football (damn!), and Steven Jackson, well, yes Random Collmenter, I’m up 2-1, but that’s a rough loss there. I don’t think a single person, even the most die-hard Rams fan (or player for that matter), would have seen a game like that against the Saints.
Due to your feedback, and my intro above, I’m slightly changing the format for this article the rest of the year. I’m still going to list my sleeper starters like usual, but I’m not necessarily going to pick predominantly started players as guys I’d bench (even though this week 4 of the 5 are). While some guys will still be over 50% started, I’m also going to include some trendier starters that are perforating into line-ups. Since you readers are obviously more of the adept players, it makes more sense to include some guys I don’t like that may look like nice sleeper plays. Still included are players’ start percentages on ESPN and Yahoo.
Chris Ogbonnaya (3.7%, 11%) You know, earlier in the week I was low on Ogbonnaya, thinking HIllis would probably be back in a limited role or someone else would split carries with him. Well, Hillis re-injured his balky hammy making him officially Madden cursed, and while the Browns did sign Thomas Clayton (who I’ve never heard of – he has 7 career carries) to be the third down back, Ogbonnaya looks primed for a major role against the Texans on Sunday. Houston has a good run defense and the Browns will probably be behind early, but Ogbonnaya was on the Texans practice squad all of two weeks ago. I’ve got a feeling that going against his former team will help calm his nerves and pregame jitters before his first start. It’s a gut call but also a volume call, and while I don’t see any sort of DeMarco Murray breakout, a 50-yard game with a TD seems very realistic, if on the low end.
Michael Bush (37.9%, 47%) It’s hard not to get excited about the best running back with the last name Bush helming the Raiders backfield with McFadden out. Bush is owned in most leagues, but you can still find him on a few waiver wires, and should be started in pretty much any situation. The Broncos defense is in the dregs of the league, and with Carson Palmer making his first start in silver and black, it’s going to be a big workload for Bush.
Tim Tebow (22.6%, 18%) I know I just said you can’t take % started numbers very seriously, but I am surprised these numbers dropped so dramatically after last week. Sure, the Broncos got trounced last Sunday and Tebow was god-awful, but for us in fantasy land, he still put up 12 points (in standard ESPN scoring). The Lions were the perfect team to minimize Tebow with such a strong defensive line, who are the players Tebow usually has to shake to make plays. This week, Tebow gets the Raiders and will fare much better both on the ground and through the air. I expect over 20 points this time out, and with guys like Stafford and Newton out on byes, should be started more often than not.
Arrelious Benn (0.3%, 1%) Reports out of Tampa Bay are that Raheem Morris wants to get Benn more involved in the offense, and what better week to expand a player’s role than going up against the team he had his best game against this year. Benn snagged a 65-yard TD against the Saints in week 6, and while I don’t think he has another play that big this week, I like him a lot as a deep sleeper if you’re in a deeper league or searching for a lottery pick. A 50-60 yard game with another TD against New Orleans is what I’m seeing.
James Jones (10.1%, 20%) Hit James Jones up on the low ‘cause James Jones about to blow… No? Are Mike Jones references done? Probably. Anyway, I like Jones to be the second-most productive WR (behind Jennings of course) for Green Bay at San Diego on Sunday. I like Jordy Nelson as well, but I think Jones has the bigger game. We all saw on Monday Night what wide receivers can do against a questionable Chargers secondary, and I think it’s going to be a pass heavy game back and forth. Start Jones with confidence.
Son of a Bench
Anquan Boldin (72.1%, 82%) Boldin is coming off three straight double-digit outings, but I don’t think it continues this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is still giving up the least points to opposing WRs and Boldin was the leading receiver against them in that week 1 trouncing. Boldin has been getting tons of targets, and I think the Steelers are going to take him out of the game this time out and make Torrey Smith and Ed Dickson beat them.
Nate Washington (61.1%, 47%) While he’s had a pretty solid season, Washington’s last two big games came against Indianapolis and Denver. Not exactly stout secondaries. But the Bengals are much stronger, and I see Washington very limited this week. I think there are a lot of better options out there.
Jackie Battle (35.4%, 43%) Battle has been on my start list the past two weeks and delivered solid games, but I think he’s a bench this time out. Miami is a stronger run defense than they get credit for, giving up the 4th least fantasy points to opposing running backs, and Battle isn’t exactly well suited to barrel through Miami’s physical line. If you watched last Monday Night’s game, you could tell Battle needs a defined lane to get going, and I don’t think he’ll see many if any holes like that against the Fins. I would look elsewhere, maybe even pick up Ogbonnaya if he’s available.
Ben Roethlisberger (66.5%, 70%) I’m in a pretty small minority, but I think the Ravens surprise the Steelers yet again and eke out a tough, grinder of a game. If those adjectives turn out to be true, that would mean Big Ben is in for a slow fantasy day. I think it’s going to be one of those 13-10 games and you can find a lot of better options to play as your starting QB.
Beanie Wells (79.1%, 68%) Wells has been on this list three or four times, and only once has he had a big game. I’m sticking with him for another bad game here with John Skelton being called upon to start for Kevin Kolb. Not that Kolb was playing well anyway, but Skelton is definitely not an upgrade. I think the line gets stacked more often than not and the Rams play tough against the run just like they did last week against the Saints. If you have some other options at RB, I’d go with them.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot me some comments, or tweet me@jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone in week 9!