Patience is supposedly a virtue, but points aren’t awarded in fantasy football for being virtuous. No amount of baby kissing will bring you a championship crown. If that were possible, I suspect the pregnancy rate between September and December would skyrocket yearly. Whatever it takes, you guys.
This week’s Tweetbag O’ Questions is filled with many reasons for both worry and patience, starting with brother Eli. So let’s dive into this digital discourse.
I can’t get to all of your questions every week, because I have a strict philosophy against working too hard. But keep firing them off to The Score’s Twitter account, and I’ll keep punching keys every Thursday afternoon. Together, we’ll find the answers to every question ever asked.
Your pain is my pain. Everybody hurts sometimes, but lately Pey Pey’s little bro has been one of the most hurtful fantasy commodities, and arguably the most hurtful of the season. And that’s coming from someone who also owns Chris Johnson in the the same league in which Manning is my fake quarterback. Pain of that nature cannot be divided, only multiplied.
The difference, of course, is that Johnson has rebounded nicely from his early-season imitation of a drunk mule, while Manning is seemingly still very much in the plummet stage of his decline. Over the first five games of the season Manning had 1,570 passing yards, a stretch that included a 510-yard outburst in Week 2. Then over his next five games he had 1,062 yards, with his passing pace dropping by over 400 yards. Passing yards are admittedly a circumstantial and often poor metric to use while measuring the quality of a quarterback, even if they matter so very much for our fantasy purposes. So here’s this too: Manning’s completion percentage has dropped below 55.0 three times this year, and all three have come over his most recent five games, a stretch in which he’s thrown six interceptions and just two touchdowns.
That’s just the beginning of the exploration of the sizable girth of Manning’s recent suck, and why you’re motivated to look for a deal as the fantasy trade deadline nears. But there’s just one minor problem: finding a trading partner who wants to acquire a quarterback at the absolute bottom of his value. Doing that is difficult, and therefore so is upgrading at the position, which is presumably your goal as the calendar advances to the fantasy playoffs.
Using the current ESPN standard scoring point totals, Manning is currently 18th among quarterbacks with 125 points, behind Ryan Fitzpatrick (sad trombone). If you own Manning, that means you likely invested highly in the quarterback position, taking him around the third round at about 35th overall. You most likely won’t be able to jump up to the top tier of quarterbacks with any kind of trade package (Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III), and the step up to the muddled second tier and, say, Josh Freeman will only be temporary. If that’s a step up at all, as Freeman’s only averaging four more fantasy points per week than Manning.
This is still a quarterback who passed for nearly 5,000 yards last year with essentially the same core offense minus Mario Manningham. Maintain normal breathing, hold on, and keep playing him every week.
More sucking here, and more rapidly declining value. Bush was benched last week in favor of Thomas, and the former USC stud and Kardashian man food has put together five straight games with less than 60 rushing yards, which includes just 17 yards on 12 carries in Week 6 (that’s 1.2 yards per carry).
But unless you were able to grab Bush at an exceedingly low price and you have another attractive option on your bench, I don’t see how he can be benched tonight in favor of Thomas, or anyone. The Bills run defense has improved since their Week 8 bye, as they held Stevan Ridley to under 100 yards (he had 98, but hey, progress), and Arian Foster had a day in which he didn’t exactly tear the Bills a new body part despite still being productive, finishing with 111 yards and a touchdown.
Baby steps, kids, and yes, sadly those totals are a dramatic improve for a defense that’s allowing 163.7 yards per game. That shouldn’t cause any pause tonight, though, but no matchup is appealing enough to start two running backs in the same backfield. So if you’re picking one — which you are — it should be Bush. The Bills have quite predictably allowed the most runs of 20 yards or more in the league, giving up 14 through just nine games. And despite Bush’s recent struggles that have led to limited usage, he’s still shown his trademark home run speed, putting together three straight games with a +15 yard run.
Eventually, one of those will pop, and the Bills present the creakiest gate in the league for one of the fastest and shiftiest backs.
Tough decisions are tough. This much is obvious here, and there’s an easy way to get burned, which is by rolling with Newton, and then Newton remains the Newton we’ve seen for most of the season. And meanwhile, Freeman continues to be the Freeman we’ve seen recently. He’s the quarterback who’s supported by Doug Martin and his 605 yards from scrimmage over the past three weeks, and he’s thrown 13 touchdowns and only one interception since the Bucs’ Week 5 bye. Yeah, he’s been pretty good.
But Newton is facing the league’s worst pass defense, and a unit that just shed Aqib Talib. The Bucs are one of only three teams giving up more than 300 passing yards per game, and they’re one of only two teams that have allowed more than 40 completions of 20 yards or more.
So beyond the favorable recent history you mentioned (in Week 1 Newton threw for 303 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown against Tampa), there’s also the simple weakness of the opposition. Between games against Phillip Rivers and Carson Palmer over the past two weeks, the Bucs have allowed 751 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
Roll with Newton, although there’s really no wrong move here.
Even with Ben Roethlisberger out and Byron Leftwhich’s throwing motion taking longer than a lunar landing, this decision is still harder than you’d likely assume. One word: usage. Need another word? Matchup exploitation.
That last one was two words, but you get where I’m going with this. Yes, any Leftwich pass takes about two years to develop, but that’s a secondary concern in this conversation. We’re discussing a tight end here, a position that’s most often targeted on more intermediate routes down the middle. That’s why Leftwich’s presence will likely hurt Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders more than it will affect Miller.
Then there’s the Steelers’ opponent this week. The Ravens are scary even without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, you say. I agree, is what I would say. But they struggle against tight ends, allowing 68.2 receiving yards to the position weekly, according to Football Outsiders, while the league average is 55.4.
The Packers — Pettigrew’s opponent this week — are giving up 50.4 yards per game to TEs. When we couple that with Pettigrew’s decline since the Lions’ Week 5 bye (only one game with more than 40 receiving yards, and two total touchdowns), and the seemingly safe assumption that Miller will be targeted often as Leftwich’s check down security blanket, I’d lean in the latter direction.
Yet another case of declining value, and increasing angst/chronic hair loss here. But be patient, young fantasy Jedi.
Morris has scored only once over his last four games, a stretch in which he failed to eclipse the 60 yard mark in two of those games, and a 120-yard outing against the Giants is very much looking like an outlier. He adds nothing in the passing game to compensate for his slumping on the ground, as he has only 35 receiving yards throughout the season.
But calling Morris’ recent output the product of a slump is actually unfair. Much of it has been out of his control since he can’t give himself the football. Throughout the season he’s averaged 18.2 carries per game, and he’s received 13 in each of the Redskins’ games over the past two weeks, both losses by at least 10 points.
Some appealing matchups await for Morris down the stretch and into the fantasy playoffs, with the Cowboys on deck twice, a defense still playing without middle linebacker Sean Lee for the remainder of the season, and they’ve allowed eight rushing touchdowns over nine games. Then in Week 15 — the first week of the fantasy playoffs in most leagues — Morris opposes the Browns and their front seven that’s giving up 132.2 yards per game (27th), in addition to two games against the Eagles and their defense that’s a week removed from allowing the Saints to rush for 136 yards, a team that’s still averaging only 88.4.
You’ll like yourself a lot more if you hold on to Morris, and continue to view him as the ideal RB2.