Tom Lorenzo, Senior Editor RotoExperts.com
Trust is huge in Fantasy sports. Think about it. How often do you hear Fantasy experts say, “I don’t trust him” or how many times have you begun a conversation about your roster where you said, “I don’t trust [Player A], but I’m not sure I can sit him this week”? “Trust” is one of the most commonly used words in the world of Fantasy sports. And rightfully so. Do you trust that Chris Johnson can help lead you to a championship? No, probably not. Do you trust that Aaron Rodgers is going to score double-digit points in each of the next four weeks? Of course you do. Fantasy Football is all about trust. It’s all about trying to figure out who to start and who to sit, based on trust. The problem is, though, you can’t necessarily say for certain that a player becomes untrustworthy and no longer dependable, since in Fantasy Football, as we know, there are several factors that force us to rethink a position. Prior to Week 9 there probably wasn’t a single Fantasy owner who had any trust in starting Philip Rivers, especially while Antonio Gates was hurt. Then, after getting a healthier Gates back and watching Rivers throw six touchdowns in Weeks 10 and 11 against the Packers and the Raiders, we started to reconsider whether or not Rivers was a trustworthy starter. Then, two weeks ago, well, you don’t want me to remind you about his awful showing against Denver. So, now, do you still trust Rivers as your QB1? Trust seems like a strong word in this case.
There are plenty of players who we can safely say we don’t trust, but with this week’s exercise, I wanted to take a look at some of the less than trustworthy players in Fantasy Football and ask that you reconsider these 10 players going forward. Nothing’s certain in Fantasy Football, but these 10 guys have some daylight in the weeks ahead.
It’s cute that Todd Haley is saying that he’s going to stick with Tyler Palko as the team’s starting quarterback. Sure you are, coach. For a team who scored just two touchdowns in the last four weeks, led by a quarterback who has thrown one touchdown and six interceptions over the last three weeks, this is almost laughable. It’s inevitable that Orton will be the team’s starter, possibly as soon as this week. There’s no cast on his dislocated finger, which leads me to believe that he’s probably going to get a look later this week. You need to keep yourself updated on his status, but even if he doesn’t start against the Jets, Orton has a shot to have some nice value in Weeks 15 and 16, when the Chiefs play the Packers and Raiders. It’s never wise to get cute in the Fantasy playoffs, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
Again, I’m not telling you to bank your season on the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I think if you’re in a situation where you may need to carry two quarterbacks in the playoffs, based on roster requirements, you could do much worse as an injury reserve than Fitzpatrick. Coming off a week where he re-found his groove against the Jets (25 Fantasy points), the Bills get matchups against the Chargers, Dolphins, Broncos and Patriots to end the season. There’s not a single secondary in there that scares me. And now with Fred Jackson done for the season, the Bills are forced to rely on the pass, using screen passes to C.J. Spiller as part of the rushing attack. I think we need to reconsider Fitzpatrick as a fine backup option over the span of the Fantasy Football playoffs.
I’ve been riding Chris Johnson the entire season, telling you to remain patient from one week to the next with this one-time Fantasy stud. See, the thing with Johnson is that he’s an opportunist. It’s no wonder he has four 100-yard games this season, all against teams who simply cannot stop the run (Browns, Panthers, Bucs and Bills). The good news is, his next two opponents aren’t much better at stopping the run either. With the, Saints and Colts on the docket over the next two weeks, Johnson is a must-start going forward. Hey, maybe this guy will end up helping a few teams win their championship after all.
Finally, it seems as if there is a starting running back in Washington. With Helu coming off a huge breakout game against the Seahawks, Mike Shanahan couldn’t help but finally name him the team’s starter, thus leading to another plus-performance against the Jets (142 total yards and a touchdown). I know that most of you are wondering whether or not you can trust Shanahan, and I know how difficult it can be to put your faith in his decision making process, but there really is no other option in Washington. And, might I add, no better runner. Trust is a funny thing, but it might be time to use some of that trust on Mike Shanahan, as scary as that sounds.
The problem with Hillis right now isn’t that Montario Hardesty is close to returning, but it has to do with the matchups he faces over the final four weeks. Aside from the Arizona matchup in Week 15, the schedule is brutal for the Browns. You have another matchup against the Ravens and two against the Steelers. Those two teams are among the Top 6 in the NFL against the run. Still, Hillis is a physical enough back to counter and put up nice low-end RB2 numbers, and his hip injury seems to be at least kept in check this week. Plus, we don’t have to worry about him wearing down, like he did last season after Week 13. Hillis is rested, refreshed and trying to make the case that he deserves a big paycheck in the offseason. I have him listed as a low-end RB2, but feel more comfortable using him as a flex going forward. Keep following the updates heading into Thursday night’s matchup against the Steelers, with Hillis listed as questionable, but should he play I wouldn’t be afraid to use him as a flex.
I know it’s tough to want to trust any runner in Carolina, other than Cam Newton, but Stewart deserves consideration because of his matchups (Tampa Bay again in Week 16) and because he is a better pass-catcher than DeAngelo Williams. I do like Williams as well, especially against the Bucs, but when facing Atlanta and Houston, two teams who are effective at stopping the run, Stewart has the ability to contribute in the passing game.
Believe it or not, Knox is better off with Caleb Haine at quarterback than he would have been had Jay Cutler remained healthy. Remember, as we were scratching our heads wondering why Knox was pulled from the starting lineup and forced to practice alongside the second team early on in the season, Knox was busy getting into a rhythm with Haine. That trust built between Knox and Haine was on display two weeks ago when the receiver saw 10 targets against the Raiders, catching four balls for 145 yards and a touchdown. I know he was quieted a little last week with five catches for 53 yards against the Chiefs, but he once again showed that he’s the top target in Chicago. With the Bears without their top offensive force in Matt Forte, they’ll have to find ways to open up the offense and get Knox even more involved. He’s not ideal, by any means, but he’s a decent WR3 option against Denver, Seattle and Green Bay in the playoffs.
It’s hard to get too excited about Williams, considering how awful he was to start the season, but when you look at his most recent performances, it’s time we start to reconsider him as a WR3 during the Fantasy playoffs. Williams is averaging 5.7 catches, 88.5 yards over the last three weeks, adding two touchdowns. Obviously you have to factor in the Josh Freeman injury to some extent, but it’s clear that whether it’s Freeman or Josh Johnson, Williams is finding his groove and has maintained nice low-end WR2 status over the last three weeks. Freeman or not, I’m comfortable right now riding out Williams’ hot hand and slotting him in as my WR3, when I need him the most.
Harvin is really starting to show his ability to make plays, posting four touchdowns and 323 receiving yards over the last three weeks. The fact that the Vikings didn’t have Adrian Peterson actually worked in Harvin’s favor, since the Vikings were forced to get more creative and weren’t able to just stand around and watch the offense run through Peterson. Even with Peterson close to returning you still have to give Harvin a serious look as a high-end WR2. He and Christian Ponder are on the same page right now and we’re no longer seeing him sit out 50 percent of the offensive plays. That’s a big accomplishment from where he was some four weeks ago.
I realize that Finley has been fairly inconsistent since his big three-TD game in Week 3, but when it comes to tight ends, who hasn’t been inconsistent this season, aside from Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham? Finley hadn’t necessarily gotten good looks from Aaron Rodgers over the two weeks prior to their matchup against the Giants last week, but it’s hard not to see him maintain some level of consistency given his team’s playoff schedule. You have Kansas City in Week 15 and Chicago in Week 16. Those two teams allow over 10 Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. He could help post big numbers just when you need him the most.
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