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Each NFL week brings a new collection of storylines, shifting depth charts, injuries, and dynasty value changes. Here are a few of the hot topics from the past week, including pivotal players in the dynasty trade market:
The sight of Arian Foster slamming his helmet down on the sidelines is etched in fantasy owners’ minds from Week 9. Foster may or may not be good to go following Houston’s Week 10 bye, putting Blue on the starting radar. Here is the need-to-know information from the pre-draft process for Alfred Blue:
- Blue is an average athlete for his size
- Blue was an anemic producer through his college career
With an overall projection score of 24 (1-100 scale), Blue is in the bottom tiers of running backs. Since 1999, the only two running backs to emerge as fantasy starters in at least one season with a score of 30 or less are Domanick Williams and Olandis Gary. While middling college performers, both are clearly ahead of Alfred Blue in that category. Watching Blue’s touches this season backup that sentiment. Blue logged an ugly dropped pass and a whiffed pass protection block in relief of Arian Foster in Week 9. He rarely makes plays post-contact and has little creativity to win at the second level.
In short, Blue is a situationally-valued dynasty asset. Now is the perfect time to seek exit value to the Arian Foster owner or any team weak at running back. A future third round rookie pick is the market I have seen over the past week and seeking an Alfred Blue plus 2015 third for a 2015 second round pick type deal is a preferred option.
The highlight of Robinson’s athleticism is his long speed. Watching his recent string of production, it remains the core of his appeal. Between the tackles Robinson lacks the ability to move even second-level defenders backwards. The few chunk gains were all due to gaping holes where Robinson could freely accelerate and not creating yards laterally or post-contact. Robinson is a stop-gap option for a backfield that is frankly out of options. Robinson is currently RB49 in terms of ProFootballFocus.com Rushing Rating and only solidly better than Toby Gerhart among the Jacksonville backs. Robinson’s four missed tackles rushing (on 85 attempts) is an anemic rate and higher than only Alfred Blue of backs with more than 50 carries on the season.
I have seen Robinson traded, as part of a package, to get into the mid-first round of 2015 rookie picks. That is an outstanding haul for a non-core dynasty asset. Robinson will have supporters that are contending down the stretch and looking towards 2015. Robinson has some appeal with regular work in the coming month or two, but banking on him to keep the starting job for Week 1 next season or even bypass NFL free agency and the NFL Draft without legitimate competition brought in is a low-probability play.
Rivera had an underrated rookie season in 2013. Over the past two weeks he has surged in production, including two highlight receptions. One came on a seam route, hauling in the pass with one hand. The other a touchdown as Rivera skied in the back of the end zone. Here are a few notes from Rivera’s projection model profile:
- Rivera is on the small size for a true tight end
- His athleticism score of 28 (1-100 scale) captures his below-average marks across the board
- A highlight is his hand size, in the top-15% of all tight end prospects since 1999
Rivera has more short-term than long-term value. For owners that have been patching holes from Tyler Eifert, Ladarius Green, Kyle Rudolph, Dennis Pitta, or others this season, Rivera is a potential stopgap for otherwise strong rosters. Rivera should see steady volume in an Oakland offense with an anemic running game, no true lead receiver, and a game script favoring a glut of passes late in games. A third round rookie pick is Rivera’s equivalent value on my value board and it would be difficult to get that in return outside of tight end premium formats.
It is a sad week in Mudville for the once-lauded freshman talent at South Carolina as Marcus Lattimore retires from football. I clearly remember Lattimore and Christine Michael being debated in the late first round or the early second round of rookie drafts in 2013. The drafting of Carlos Hyde by the 49ers was a clear sign that San Francisco was not tying their future in any way to Lattimore.
Outside of Andre Ellington, the once-promising running backs of the 2013 NFL draft outside the top-100 have turned into shadows. Johnathan Franklin flashed for a brief moment. Marcus Lattimore is out of game. Zac Stacy started hot and now struggles to see snaps. Mike Gillislee had some early situational buzz that faded quickly. Latavius Murray is being ignored even on a looking-ahead Oakland team. Kenjon Barner has bounced around the league. Mike James flashed with injuries in front of him prior to sustaining one himself. A fourth round or later running back historically has an 8% chance to become a fantasy starter in their career. Zac Stacy already hit that threshold in 2013 and Andre Ellington looks poised to do so this season. Those two already make the late-round running backs of last season a success as a class.
Back to Marcus Lattimore, who had the highest projection model score of the 2013 running backs. His age-weighted rushing score of 83 and receiving score of 93 were optimal benchmarks. As an 18-year-old at South Carolina, Lattimore averaged more than 120 total yards per game and 1.3 touchdowns on the ground. He topped that on a per-game basis as a 19-year-old with more than 140 total yards and 1.4 rushing touchdowns. Running backs that hit those 80 Rushing and 90 Receiving benchmarks include:
- Giovani Bernard
- Marcus Lattimore
- Jacquizz Rodgers
- Joique Bell
- Bernard Scott
- Danny Woodhead
- Brian Westbrook
- Ricky Williams
Considering their draft position, that is an elite group based on that production criteria. Happy Trails Marcus Lattimore, one of the good guys out there that will succeed in whatever his ‘life after football’ holds.
With Nick Foles out for a significant stretch (plus he was average efficiency-wise pre-injury), the enviable Philadelphia starting quarterback job is Mark Sanchez’s. At a minimum, Sanchez is a mid-to-high QB2 for the rest of the season. With good matchups, like this week against Carolina, Sanchez is in the top-10. There is upside for Sanchez to keep the job into next season as well. After updating my dynasty values, Sanchez is worth a 2015 rookie pick in the 20-30 range in start-1QB leagues and closer to the top-15 in quarterback premium formats.
The elephant in the room this week is Jeremy Hill. Owners and especially daily fantasy players held their collective breath when Hill exited in Week 9. Fortunately he returned for a long touchdown run in the second half. Giovani Bernard looks doubtful again in Week 10 for Thursday Night Football and it is another positive matchup for the Bengals ground game. That means a possible selling opportunity. With six teams on bye and the general state of the running back position, Jeremy Hill is highly valuable this week.
Hill resides inside my top-15 dynasty running backs. More than a strong backing of Hill as an individual asset, it speaks to the state of running backs. On my overall board, however, running backs like Jeremy Hill are not all that valuable.
Watching him on tape, Hill is not as impressive as he is by the numbers. On paper, Hill is a poor man’s LeVeon Bell – a big back with receiving skills. Unfortunately, Hill is not a very good athlete. The productive backs over the last 15 years (at least 225 pounds) have all been more athletic than Hill’s 43 athleticism score and nearly all of them are well above 60. Hill, Jonathan Dwyer, Maurice Clarett, and Anthony Thomas are the four 225+ pound backs with high age-weighted rushing scores in college with middling athleticism. Not the part of the group with which one would like to be associated. Being an average receiver in college also tempers Hill’s upside long-term. Instead of slotting in with Steven Jackson and Ricky Williams types, a big running back being slanted towards rushing production leans to names like Travis Prentice, Ron Dayne, T.J. Duckett, Chris Wells, and again Jonathan Dwyer.
Shop Hill this week, ahead of the Thursday Night game, especially the team is not contending. Hill appeals to contenders and non-playoff teams alike and the goal should be a mid-range first round pick. Adding a late second round selection or small piece to get the deal done is worth it.