Week 6: In Which Alicia Silverstone Is Hot
When I was in eighth grade, “Blast from the Past” was one of my favorite movies.
I don’t know. Maybe part of it was that I thought Alicia Silverstone was a stone cold fox. Maybe part of it was that I thought Brendan Fraser was a good actor (oops). Maybe part of it was that I thought I was really cultured and “above my peers” in knowing who Christopher Walken was – sort of the adult equivalent of telling you about the opera I recently attended (no, I did not actually attend the opera recently; if you recently attended the opera yourself, tell us about it in the comments section so you can see what I felt like in eighth grade knowing who Christopher Walken was). And of course, part of the reason I liked that movie was that it was just plain funny at the time. I haven’t watched it in years; I doubt it would still be particularly funny to me now.
In that movie (you have seen it…right?), Brendan Fraser’s family lives underground for 35 years, in a fallout shelter his father (Christopher Walken) led them into when he thought the Cold War had finally escalated and nuclear warfare had begun. When Fraser (who, in the movie, is named Adam, because that was apparently the best they could come up with) emerges from underground 35 years later, the world is an entirely different place, and the Perry Como and Dean Martin records he listened to for 35 years have left him a bit out of touch with modern society. He meets Alicia Silverstone (who, of course, is named Eve – see?), and she helps him navigate through modern society, opening his eyes to understand the things that have changed in the 35 years during which he was underground.
Yes, we are on our way to talking about daily fantasy sports…
While I am committed to providing you with the best content I have the ability to provide, I am not so committed that I was willing to waste two hours of my life re-watching “Blast from the Past” when that time could otherwise be used for DFS study and preparation (or for just about anything else). As such, I do not remember the stocks Brendan Fraser had from his father (AT&T?), nor do I recall the baseball cards he had. What I do remember is this: Because he had too little information regarding the current value of these stocks and baseball cards, he nearly sold the baseball cards for substantially less than they were worth, and he nearly deemed the stocks entirely worthless.
I also know that if I had jumped forward 16 years from the year 1999, I would have found myself in 2015 severely over-valuing “Blast from the Past” – thinking it was a good movie, and was something worth using as a conversation-starter with strangers.
Do you have a guess as to how I am tying this into daily fantasy sports?
Especially because so many of us play season-long fantasy football, it is easy for us to hang onto our “preseason talent evaluations” in order to make our decisions in daily fantasy sports. It is easy for us to pay attention to “the things we kept reading” or “the things we already know to be true,” and to never pause to reevaluate or acknowledge that those things just might be wrong.
Last year, it took all of us a couple months to finally realize that “loading up on offensive players against the Cowboys” was not a good strategy. Sure, the Cowboys maybe did not have much talent on defense last year, but they played “keep away” so effectively, it really didn’t matter; opposing offenses had hardly any time or opportunity to do much in the way of “creating fantasy goodness.” Those who adjusted to this reality most quickly won money off everyone else as a result.
Last year, another trap some fell into was “rostering Keenan Allen and waiting for him to blow up with a big game at low ownership.” There was a reason Allen had a bad year last year: he came to camp out of shape, and he lacked the commitment to be an elite wide receiver. He talked about that a lot this past offseason, and he corrected those mistakes coming into 2015.
Maybe you are one of those who is still rostering C.J. Anderson, thinking you are making a sneaky move that will pay off big once he has his huge game. “The price is so low,” right? “He’s too good to be priced this low.”
Here are some preseason, “Perry Como and Dean Martin” thoughts that some of you may still be holding onto (and if you are not holding onto any of these thoughts yourself, trust that some of your competition is; recognize this, and gain an edge as a result), and here is my response to each of these thoughts:
The Jets don’t throw enough for Brandon Marshall to be relevant. (The truth: There are going to be games in which the Jets do not throw enough, but when playing better offenses or facing teams that do a good job stopping the run, the Jets are still throwing, and Marshall is soaking up most of the looks.)
Lamar Miller is a Top 10 running back. (The truth: As was the case last year, his usage is too spotty to keep him anywhere close to the Top 10. If you want to start guessing on his usage under the new coaching regime – “taking advantage” of his depressed price – feel free, but I will be waiting until we see something to prove he is going to be a 20-touch back.)
Andy Dalton isn’t very good. (The truth: We keep waiting for Dalton to implode (and his pricing on some sites seems to be waiting for the same thing…), but it is not unusual for a quarterback to continue improving this early in his career. Dalton has continued improving, and he may not be great, but he is most certainly very good.)
The Steelers have an awful pass defense. (The truth: Pittsburgh may not have much talent in the secondary, but they are effectively using scheme to remain a middle-of-the-road coverage unit. They are not a unit to be afraid of, but it’s time to stop “drastically upgrading” passing offenses against them.)
The Browns cannot throw the ball. (The truth: Don’t ask me how they’re doing it, because I have no idea. The Browns have Josh McCown at quarterback, and they have a host of no-name weapons at wide receiver. But they also have the eighth-most passing yards per game in the NFL, and that’s not all from “being behind and playing catch-up.” Also, that includes the game in which Johnny Manziel started and hardly threw the ball at all. I’m not on the Browns against a stellar Denver defense this week, but I will be giving their passing offense a serious look moving forward.)
Marc Trestman creates PPR monsters at running back. (The truth: Justin Forsett has not topped four catches in a game this year, and is averaging 3.2 catches per game. That is perfectly acceptable, but it is not significantly more than we would have expected if he had come back in the same offense as last year – in which he reeled in 2.75 catches per game.)
Peyton Manning is at least above-average. (The truth: On my GrindersLive spot on Friday night, I was arguing with Jeff Collins and Adam Levitan that Demaryius Thomas was a great play this last weekend. Adam pointed out that Demaryius is priced as if Peyton Manning is still good, and I said something to the effect of, “Sure, Peyton isn’t Peyton, but he’s still better than Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer, and look what DeAndre Hopkins can do with them.” When I made that comment about Manning being better than Mallett and Hoyer, Adam – off-camera for GrindersLive viewers – made a face that said, “I’m not so sure about that.” Well, I’m no longer so sure about that, either.)
T.Y. Hilton is Andrew Luck’s number one target. (The truth: In Weeks 2 and 3 – Luck’s last two weeks as the starter – Hilton received target totals of seven and seven. In those same weeks, Donte Moncrief received target totals of eight and seven. I’m not saying Hilton is not the guy who “will get more total targets throughout the rest of the year,” but I am saying that I don’t think we should still be looking at him like he is “the man” in this offense.)
DeAndre Hopkins will be hurt by his quarterback play. (The truth: Well…we were wrong on that one, huh?)
Cam Newton has no wide receivers to throw to. (Okay, this is true. But the twin narrative to this one was that the Panthers would want him to run less, as they just committed a large amount of money to him. The lack of receivers has not hurt Cam’s fantasy scores at all, as he is now running more than ever before.)
Jameis Winston may suck, but he’s aggressive enough to support his receivers. (The truth: I fell into this trap last weekend, thinking (and telling others), “Mike Evans received target totals of 17 and eight his last two games; even if Winston is not good, Evans is good enough to turn this type of usage into a monster game.” Maybe so. But last week, the Bucs held Winston to 19 total throws. Unless they absolutely have to, I don’t think the Bucs will be opening up the offense much.)
Davante Adams is taking Jordy Nelson’s place in the offense. (The truth: Davante will have his weeks, but the return of James Jones has basically left Davante and Jones splitting the targets that would have gone to Jordy. It’s going to be a long road to fantasy trustworthiness for Davante right now.)
I know, not all of those are things you have been thinking yourself. Maybe none of those are things you have been thinking yourself. But guess what: Even if those are not the specific things you have been thinking, I can guarantee you that there are still some areas in which you are holding onto preseason thoughts, and are overvaluing or undervaluing players as a result. Take some time to examine your own approach, your own biases, and your own preconceived notions. Identify the places where you may still be thinking “Blast from the Past” is a good movie, and be one of the first to leave that thought behind and jump forward into the present.
This week’s picks will mostly focus on some of the guys who are under-valued (by DFS sites, or by DFS players, or both) for any of a variety of reasons. These are all guys I like this weekend, and are all guys you should like too.
Jay Cutler at Lions: Similar to the Jaguars-Buccaneers game last weekend, I see the porousness of theses defenses outweighing the shortcomings of these offenses. I think this is going to be a relatively high-scoring game, and the price of each quarterback in this game has dropped to Building 19 levels (anyone from New England remember Building 19? – man, that store gave me the creeps!). Jay Cutler has Adam Gase calling the plays, and he is facing one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL; especially if Alshon Jeffery is back this week, Cutler – who has played well in his two games against “not Green Bay or Arizona” (which are two of the top six opponent-adjusted pass defenses in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA) – should be in line for a very strong game. Even if Jeffery sits, Cutler is usable as a tournament option.
Matthew Stafford v Bears: Is his confidence shaken? Who knows. But this is still a guy with the arm talent to toss the ball up to Calvin Johnson (and guess what: Calvin Johnson may not be as explosive as he once was, but he still has the height, the hands, and the route-running chops he has had throughout his career). Since facing San Diego’s weak secondary in Week 1 and Minnesota’s solid-but-unspectacular secondary in Week 2, Stafford has faced Denver, Seattle, and Arizona. His price has dropped as a result of those matchups, and he now takes on a Bears team with one of the worst pass defenses in football. I expect big things this week from Stafford (and from Calvin Johnson).
Andy Dalton at Bills: I talked about this in my NFL Edge this week, but I’ll talk about it again (because some of you, for some reason, are not Incentives members, and therefore do not get my full game-by-game breakdown that is posted each Wednesday in the form of the NFL Edge). The Bills have a solid pass defense, but they have faced more pass attempts than any team in the NFL. The reason? – teams would rather pass on the Bills than run. This is leading to lots of short, quick passes to counteract the Bills’ pass rush, and while the Bills are allowing the fourth-fewest pass yards per attempt in the NFL (the fewest pass yards per attempt if we take out Brady’s destruction of them in Week 2), this is still leading to enough yards to make quarterbacks and pass catchers viable plays. “More attempts,” by the way, is especially valuable for pass catchers on PPR sites (cough – A.J. Green – cough), and there should be enough volume here for Andy Dalton to put up yet another very strong game, especially considering his price.
Charcandrick West at Vikings: The reasons he is being undervalued? Fears that Knile Davis may carry a large chunk of the load, and reasonable thoughts from the “wait and see” crowd. The reason I will probably be using him this week? Andy Reid makes the decisions on game day, and he has shown the last two weeks that he prefers West over Davis; I expect West to get at least 75% of the snaps in this game, and that makes him an extremely usable fantasy option – especially at his price.
Chris Ivory v Redskins: The Redskins have a solid run defense, yes. Chris Ivory does not catch passes, yes. But Ivory is highly likely to receive 20 touches in a game the Jets should be leading, and he will also be in line for any goal line work that is available. He may not have “win you the week” upside, but Ivory provides a very solid floor, and is a guy many will overlook this week as they either aim to “pay up” or “pay down” at running back.
Adrian Peterson v Chiefs: Matt Forte, Arian Foster, and Le’Veon Bell are all (obviously) strong plays this week. I may actually like Forte and Foster more than Peterson. But I also feel Peterson is going to go overlooked this week, as so many people will be gravitating toward those other three guys. Ever since the Week 1 Debacle, Norv Turner has corrected his mistakes, and is feeding the rock to Peterson relentlessly. Although the Chiefs have a solid run defense, it takes more than just “a solid run defense” to stop Peterson, and he is being used heavily enough in the passing game that his overall floor is about as high as anyone’s. Peterson makes for an excellent tournament play as the non-sexy pick of this group of high-end running backs.
Donte Moncrief v Patriots: I said it already; I’ll say it again: Moncrief is just as much on Luck’s radar right now as Hilton. What’s more, the mid-week talk is that T.Y. Hilton is the guy Bill Belichick will be scheming to take out of the game. If Luck is starting this week (which seems, at present, to be a tossup – though that may very well be nothing more than gamesmanship), Moncrief at a lower price than Hilton makes all the sense in the world for your roster, especially as the Colts are likely to fall behind, and will find themselves throwing plenty as a result.
Alshon Jeffery at Lions: This is another “if he plays” situation. If he plays, Jeffery is going to be one of the strongest plays on the weekend, and the “wait and see” crowd will keep his ownership lower than it should be. Jeffery has the talent (and, frankly, Cutler has the arm strength) to be the top-scoring fantasy wide receiver on any given weekend. If he is out there (and if reports deem him 100% – which should be the case if the Bears let him see the field), he will be a pretty certain bet for double-digit targets, and he will be able to do plenty with that type of usage against this Lions defense.
Jeremy Maclin at Vikings: I already told you about his target totals. I’ll also tell you that Maclin lines up all over the Chiefs’ formation, which means he will effectively avoid the coverage of Xavier Rhodes for much of the game. I don’t see this game being anything close to a shootout, but I do see the Chiefs having to pass enough for their main target to be relevant – and Maclin is very much their “main target.” With Jamaal Charles out, Maclin could see his usage bumped up even more, making him an excellent play – and one who is perpetually undervalued because of the “Alex Smith cannot throw to wide receivers” narrative.
Calvin Johnson v Bears: You knew I would be listing him down here, right? I have been looking toward this weekend for a while now, hoping Johnson would continue to be held down in his tough matchups, and hoping his price would keep dropping (while fear of rostering him would continue to increase). This is a great weekend in which to expect Johnson to go off, and you will want a piece of him when it happens.
Martellus Bennett at Lions: A lot of people got burned by Bennett last weekend. A lot of people! This will lower the excitement surrounding him this week, which makes this a perfect time to jump on board. Although the Chiefs (who are EXTREMELY tough on tight ends) held down Bennett last weekend, he still received a whopping 11 targets (one week after seeing 13 looks from Cutler). If Alshon Jeffery is out, Bennett becomes an almost auto-play, as he is going to see double-digit targets, and he will be facing a defense that has a hard time stopping the tight end.
Jordan Cameron at Titans: Cameron is one of my favorite plays on the weekend. In games this season in which he did not get injured, he has seen target totals of nine, eight, and seven. Because of he ineffectiveness of those targets, his price has dropped, and all attention on Cameron has disappeared. He has monster upside against a defense that currently ranks 32nd against the tight end (Football Outsiders DVOA), and he is someone that pretty much anyone who has not read this article will overlook. You with me?
Even if you are not with me on that, how about being with me on meeting up at the top of the leaderboards on Monday night? You good with that? (That’s 2015, by the way – not 1999. Just making sure we are on the same page…) I’ll be there, so come and find me; we’ll celebrate together, then we’ll turn the page right away to our study and prep for our next great weekend.