Our adventures into the ol’ tweetbag this week led to many different directions. Should you give up on Darren McFadden? Will Rashard Mendenhall doing anything for you ever? What’s Robert Griffin III’s trade value in a keeper league?
There are no right answers to those questions. Just better answers, and then the best answers…my answers.
There are few trades involving Robert Griffin III that won’t get near universal stamps of approval right now if you’re on the receiving end in a keeper league, because his recent struggles have no bearing whatsoever on his ability to produce going forward, and produce for a very long time. Since most leagues place a premium on rushing yards and they’re valued more than passing yards, the mobile quarterback has some serious sex appeal. Look at Cam Newton; even with his struggles and problems with mechanics he’s still averaging 18.5 fantasy points per week. Of course, Michael Vick is the exception in this conversation, but his main problem is that he can’t block for Michael Vick.
This particular package is appealing, and while the short-term value may lack a little, the long-term value is great. You’re acquiring both Griffin’s limitless ceiling, and his youth, as he’s nearly a decade young than Pey Pey’s little bro (RG3 is 22, and Manning is 31). He matches Manning’s strong arm, and exceeds his value with a much more diverse skillset. As a rough gauge of the upgrade you’re getting, Griffin currently has 59 more fantasy points than Manning using standard scoring.
I assume/hope that your bench depth is sufficient to sustain the loss of Morris, who’s averaging 88.1 rushing yards per game. That’s where this could hurt in the short term, making this a decision that in Week 10 is also clearly dictated by your position in the standings. I still like Morris next year and beyond, but there’s always lingering uncertainty in a Mike Shanahan backfield. Also, at a position where studs can often emerge early in the season (think Steven Ridley, Doug Martin, and to a lesser extent Mikel Leshoure), you can get a productive running back at a reasonable mid-round draft price instead of burning a keeper spot on Morris.
The tweetbag piled up with a few McFadden queries as Run DMC goes through his yearly routine of drowning his owners in human tears. His performance — which has mostly sucked — is actually a secondary concern now. Yes, that sounds a little odd considering McFadden is seriously, really behind Shonn Greene in fantasy points, and it’s not close (McFadden has 68 in most formats, while Greene has 84).
Your main concern is now clearly his health, because high-ankle sprains are the worst. The Raiders are still guarding information closely regarding McFadden’s injury, but if he does indeed have a high-ankle sprain, that’s running back doom. It’ll mean appropriately a three-week absence, but even once he returns McFadden could lack burst.
So combine that with his struggles even when he is healthy (he’s averaging only 56.9 rushing yards per game, and he’s logged three games with less than 40), and the answer to your trade question is…well, it depends. Are you at the top of your league and reasonably comfortable with your playoff position? Then hold on, and ride waivers for a few weeks. McFadden has two great matchups during the fantasy playoffs against weak Kansas City and Carolina run defenses, and even at less than full health he should post solid numbers. Two weeks ago against KC he finished with 137 yards from scrimmage on 33 touches.
Conversely, if you’re in the muddled middle of your league and you need to make a push, sell McFadden if there’s anyone willing to bite for even a moderate return. Even with his injury and lagging performance, McFadden still retains value to a playoff team with those favorable fantasy playoff matchups.
The only format in which Reece is favored here are point per reception leagues. The Raiders will most likely be playing without both McFadden and Mike Goodson, because a higher power somewhere has cast a running back-eating plague on Oakland. Running will be a difficult task against a Ravens defense that’s still tough against the run even without Ray Lewis. That almost doesn’t matter, though, because without McFadden the Raiders forget that running is legal, as Carson Palmer attempted 61 passes last week while handing a ball to a running back only 10 times.
That favors Reece, a lot. As a former wide receiver turned fullback, Reece is one of Palmer’s most trusted options, which led to his eight receptions for 95 yards last week and a touchdown when he had only 177 receiving yards prior to Oakland’s Week 9 loss to Tampa. In standard formats, though, lean to Jones, who will run against a leaky Eagles front seven that gave up 141 yards on the ground to Saints running backs last week. On the season New Orleans is averaging just 81 rushing yards per game.
The problem with Charles is the anguish you’re likely putting yourself through by benching him. Although I understand the desire to avoid even further pain by burning a starting spot on a running back who has just 83 rushing yards over his last two games, you likely spent a second-round pick on Charles. Like Chris Johnson earlier this year, the investment you made in a player is directly connected to the growth of off-color hair on your head when he’s on your bench.
The waiver options at the position weren’t that great this week unless you were able to grab Isaac Redman. So if I’m left choosing between either Charles or Fred Jackson, unfortunately I’d still lean towards Charles. Both have pretty horrid matchups against New England and Pittsburgh respectively, but if Brian Daboll and Romeo Crennel have maintained any shred of sanity, Charles will get the ball more, and receive a much larger share of the Chiefs’ backfield workload. But in Buffalo, Chan Gailey has said repeatedly that he needs to get C.J. Spiller involved more.
Sammy Davis Jr. once said that alcohol gives us infinite patience for stupidity. That’s probably not the best inspirational patience quote to use here, but we’ll take it.
I understand your frustration, Mendenhall owners. You feel angry, lost, and cold, but don’t let your resolve waver now. You’ve kept Mendenhall on your bench for nine weeks (!!!), and now although he’s limited in practice, the widespread expectation is that he’ll return in Week 11. And when he does that, Mendenhall will be re-inserted into the starting role, according to his position coach.
One more week. You’re almost there.
I like Hilton a lot, mostly because I enjoy being right about things, and I picked him as a sleeper back in August. But my pretentious boasting aside, he’s definitely out if you’re choosing between those three. While Hilton’s speed makes him a great deep option and there’s a decent chance you could hate me tonight while watching him catch a 40 yarder, his usage in the Colts’ offense has been inconsistent behind Reggie Wayne. Over the last two weeks Hilton has 15 targets to Donnie Avery’s 17, making this wild guess territory, and making both Hilton and Avery low-end flex plays at best.
So that leaves us with Shorts and Rice, and for me Rice easily has the advantage. Yes, Shorts has developed a connection with Blaine Gabbert recently. But while Gabbert is progressing nicely this year, he’s still inconsistent. Meanwhile, the mobile Russell Wilson will have plenty of time to find Rice against a Jets pass rush that’s registered only 12 sacks this year. Wilson tossed three TDs last week during Seattle’s win over Minnesota, and Rice has three scores over his last four games.
Picking between one wide receiver who’s returning after a month-long absence and facing the league’s second-best pass defense, and another one who has Matt Cassel as his quarterback and is facing the league’s best pass defense is the definition of suck. If you’re in this position presumably because of byes or injuries, both decisions feel wrong. Combined the Steelers and 49ers have allowed only 10 passing touchdowns all season. There’s just so much hurt here.
The better of these two evils is Bowe, the lord of the garbage-time reception. Even though the Chiefs have lost by two touchdowns or more five times and his quarterback has turned the ball over 18 times, Bowe’s still somehow moving ahead at a very respectable per game receiving average (71.4). Remarkably, that’s a better average than Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant, and Bowe is also only 3.8 yards behind Percy Harvin.