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fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE
You guys have a ton of articles.
This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.
If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.
1. Sigmund Bloom's Buy-low, Sell-High: Quarterback Dynasty Stashes
This week, Bloom gets you thinking about quarterbacks you could easily acquire as low-price, long-term stashes with high upside. Here are some of my favorites from his feature:
Gardner Minshew, JAX - Minshew’s value for redraft leagues sunk when Nick Foles came back, although he could still start by the end of the season if Foles doesn’t pick it up, and perhaps even start Week 1 of the 2020 season. His mobility and grace under pressure bode well, especially if he can get paired up in the future with an offensive coordinator who schemes to his Air Raid roots.
Josh Rosen, MIA/??? - Rosen has shown out about as badly as a first-round quarterback can, short of being Paxton Lynch and barely even being able to get and stay on the field, but he has also arguably been dropped into the two worst situations for a first-round quarterback in recent memory. He could end up somewhere like New England or New Orleans, where he can hit the reset button and start over his development in a good organization, or maybe even compete to start somewhere if the Dolphins make him available for trade.
Will Grier, CAR - The Panthers are basically out of the playoffs without a miracle, but they seem to have no plans to see their third round pick in action this year. Cam Newton may or may not be with the team next year, Kyle Allen may or may not be the starter, and Grier may or may not get a chance to at least win the backup role. The team may have soured on Grier already, or they might be more interested in evaluating Allen fully before choosing which way to go at the fork in the road ahead of their franchise.
Chad Kelly, IND - Kelly continues to hang around NFL rosters, and it’s on the basis on his likeability or personality. Jacoby Brissett has been competent but limited, and while Brian Hoyer got a three-year deal after the Patriots released him, no Colts fan will want him on the field after he lost to Miami. Kelly arguably has NFL starter talent, he just needs to stay out of trouble to get a chance to prove that eventually.
Matt's Thoughts: Bloom and my mutual friend and occasional Rookie Scouting Portfolio contributor, Eric Stoner is a Jaguars fan. He thinks Jacksonville blew its opportunity to trade Foles and get out from his pricey contract when it decided to bench Minshew. I agree, Stoner because Foles has never been a long-term starter talent whereas Minshew displayed greater upside as a rookie than Foles ever did.
Rosen earned a raw deal in two cities. I won't be surprised if he's earned a bad reputation from his collegiate years that precedes him and has made many organizations leery of him. Even so, his value becomes more attractive the longer he doesn't establish a football. He's a skilled prospect worth the cheap investment simply to see if some team decides he's worth the long-term commitment.
Grier and Kelly are two of my favorite prospects. During a recent episode of our twice-monthly RSP Scout Talk podcast, former NFL scout Russ Lande has mentioned that NFL teams may draft a player with an impression about his readiness after interviews, workouts, and tape study, but it is usually after a couple of months in the facility post-draft that organizations learn whether their rookie is ready to play immediately.
According to Lande, most teams are prepared for the possibility that the rookie needs a year. Grier probably needed more time after playing in an Air Raid system and transitioning to Norv Turner's number-system offense where the verbiage can be a significant step up from Grier's Mountaineer offense.
Kelly must prove he's trustworthy off the field for a longer period of time before a team believes he can handle the pressures of starting and leading an offense.
2. Joe Bryant's Random Shots
Sometimes, you need to enjoy the lighter side of football or return to the days where great plays captured your childlike sense of awe. Either way, Joe Bryant delivers this weekly in his Random Shots feature.
Joe solicits football videos, fascinating stats, and human interest storylines with links to the NFL and he posts them along with his commentary. Some of these entries are funny whereas others seek to connect us as football fans and human beings.
For instance, the Al Bundy-influenced referee:
You won't get fantasy value from Joe's feature but it's not the intent. If you want some weekly fun in your inbox, this is well worth a read.
3. Daniel Simpkins' Big-PLay Payday
Daniel writes about worthwhile IDP picks in big-play scoring formats. Since we're facing off as a pair of 9-2 teams for the division crown in a big-play IDP dynasty staff league this weekend, it was a good reminder to share this excellent weekly feature.
Surprisingly, the Titans gave away just one sack to the Jaguars and the game got out of hand quickly for Jacksonville in the opening minutes of the second half. The Colts are a more disciplined team and we know that the Titans’ offensive line that has surrendered an average 3.9 sacks a game is not suddenly going to turn it around for the remainder of the season. Jabaal Sheard and Justin Houston are above-average plays this week.
The Steelers have been among the better units in the league this year, giving up only 1.6 sacks a game to opponents. However, we need to consider that they are missing their center due to suspension and that they just surrendered three sacks to the Bengals in their last contest. It is a good idea to play Olivier Vernon (assuming he plays) and Chad Thomas if you have them. On the other side of this contest, it is smart to play T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Cameron Heyward. They will benefit from going up against a line that is better than it was at the season’s beginning but still ranks in the bottom half of the NFL in terms of protecting its quarterback.
The Raiders hot pass rush went cold against the Jets last week and they will continue to cool against Patrick Mahomes II II and a bye-week-rested line that has given up only 1.7 sacks a game. Sit Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrel this week.
Matt's Thoughts: Thomas is a first-round athlete coming into his own in Cleveland. As well as Tannehill is playing, he's better on designed movement from the pocket than hanging in crowded spaces and feeling the rush. Warner's production has skyrocketed and while I agree with DAniel about Crosby and Ferrell, I wouldn't be surprised if one of them as a decent afternoon for fantasy players — I'd bet Crosby if I had to choose.
4. Chad Parson's New Reality: Free Agent Wide REceivers for 2020
Continuing the 2020 NFL free agency preview of available players, cut candidates, and landing spots, Parson's takes look at the wide receiver position around the NFL landscape. Here is his top tier:
Cooper is unlikely to hit the absolute open market with Dallas to open up their wallets before Cooper looks to the highest non-Cowboys bidder. Cooper would break the bank if he did a la Kirk Cousins, a rare occurrence at such a high tier among their respective positions. Spotrac.com estimates Cooper's market value at nearly $19 million per year. Green and Fitzgerald are career-long notables on their current teams but Green could shift to a much stronger contender as the Super Bowl has eluded him to-date and Cincinnati is closer to tearing down the roster than a piece or two away from being built up. Fitzgerald is more of a bet to retire than play for a non-Arizona team, but the Super Bowl was close for Fitzgerald with the Cardinals, albeit many years ago.
Anderson has yet to hit 1,000 yards in a season for generally poor Jets teams over four seasons. In his mid-20s, this is Anderson's best (and likely lone) chance to cash in on a positive career start and being a 1A/B option on a better offense starting in 2020. Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffery, and Doug Baldwin are comparable players and contracts in the $11+ million per year range provided by Spotrac.com.
Sanders has bounced around in his career and is now at 33 years old and potentially on his third team in two seasons if leaving San Francisco, after they traded for him, midway through 2019. Sanders likely draws less of a contract than all but Fitzgerald on the open market from the above list, but can still be a WR1 as a stopgap.
Matt's Thoughts: I agree with Chad about Cooper staying in Dallas. He and Dak Prescott have a strong rapport and the Cowboys are 2-3 pieces away from true contention, despite the massive annual expectations the coach and fans place on this team.
Anderson should test the market but there will be a pull to stay in New York and build on his rapport with Sam Darnold. He's the most boom-bust of the top tier options based on his current skill level and the type of teams that I think will make offers.
I don't think Sanders is going anywhere. The 49ers are a great fit for him schematically and I believe he was brought into San Francisco to mentor this young depth chart of receivers. He's the most complete option on the roster and has a lot of offer the first-, second-, and third-year players with their route running, studying, practicing, and caring from one's body. He's also the best receiver on the roster, by a significant margin and the offense suffers when he's missed time.
I agree with Chad about Fitzgerald. I see Fitzgerald staying in Arizona due to the desire to play out his entire career with one team and in part due to my skepticism that any contender wants him. Green will be a top free-agent acquisition.
Check out the rest of the article to see Chad's thoughts on potential landing spots for the 2020 free agent receiver class.
5. Fantasy Overview: Jeff Haseley's Playoff Advice
Jeff delivers 10 key factors for winning in the playoffs in this week's feature. Here are my three favorites from the article:
4. Game Script - There is a degree of luck involved with game script because it's difficult to accurately predict how a game will go from quarter to quarter. Will there be garbage yards in the second half of a blowout? Will the game be a back and forth battle involving two strong offenses or perhaps two teams who are known for having defenses that give up a lot of yards and points, like the Dolphins, Cardinals, and Bengals? There have been several high scoring games this year where both team's quarterback finished in the Top 8. The Chiefs, Cowboys, Falcons, and Buccaneers come to mind as teams that fit into this category. As the league continues to evolve and stronger offenses become king, favorable game scripts are becoming more and more common. It's good to keep tabs on Vegas lines, particularly over/unders, as well as team totals. If an O/u is 46 points, but one team is slated to score 28 points and the other 18, it may not be a favorable game script for offense on both sides. I'll touch on this a bit later in the article. It's difficult to have multiple players on your roster who have pristine matchups, so those that do, better come through for you when you need them.
5. Lineup decisions - Play your studs, but also play matchups. Often times, your third wide receiver will be the one who saves your team, thanks to a big game that likely was the result of a game script in his favor. Take a recent game from Week 12 for example where Atlanta hosted a Buccaneers defense that was especially vulnerable in the secondary. The sharp move was to exploit that weakness and consider starting a guy like Russell Gage, along with the mainstays Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. They all finished with 19 combined catches and over 225 yards. The decision to play Gage over someone else who had fewer fantasy points and had a poor matchup, ultimately put you in the catbird seat. It's also good to take note of which wide receivers will be faced up against an opponent's second cover corner. Or if the top corner is injured making WR1 matchup against a backup that more enticing. Some teams to target that have injuries or general weaknesses that you can exploit include Atlanta (Desmond Trufant - toe), Detroit (Rashaan Melvin), Philadelphia (entire secondary), Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. Keep an eye on injury reports, but if these players are inactive on game day, these are the matchups that you want to exploit. Injuries in the secondary have definitely played a part in the success of opposing team's receivers. Take advantage of them.
8. Follow Vegas lines, especially over/under point totals - Many sportsbook sites like VegasInsider.com have NFL lines and over/under totals. The games with higher point totals tend to lead to higher fantasy production games. Usually, games forecasted to exceed 48 points or more are the ones you want to target for making lineup decisions. Most weeks include at least one matchup with 50+ expected points. Exploit those games. Our John Lee writes an article every week in our DFS section showing which matchups will yield the most expected points.
Matt's Thoughts: If you examine the Vegans lines for compelling matchups, research which of these games are likely to produce game scripts that Haseley described above, and you pair them up with Jene Bramel's injury reports as well as our weekly recaps that will mention struggling individual defensive players, you'll identify some unlikely plays with strong production potential.
This is a good plan of attack. I also recommend David Dodds' Game Predictor as a source for lineup research.
I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and good luck with your playoff hunts this weekend.