Concussions. They’re still unpredictable, and they still linger. Right now the foggy head we’re focused on rests on the shoulders of LeSean McCoy, the Eagles running back who’s still experiencing concussion symptoms, and therefore he most likely won’t play this week. With the motivation to rush him back non-existent in Philadelphia due to the Eagles’ repeated imitation of flushed fecal matter, every day that McCoy still has symptoms and still isn’t practicing fuels the likelihood that his season could be over.
Fantasy football managers are generally kind, simple folk. We enjoy a good micro-brewed beverage, and a finely-grilled bratwurst. And we never wish any harm or an ill fate on our fellow man, but this is one situation in which many of us would be fine with McCoy sitting out. It’ll be good for you, LeSean.
With the fantasy playoffs beginning either this week or next week depending on your league settings, a complicated workload for one of your top running backs is the stuff that nervous vomiting is made of, as it could lead to financial loss. So right now despite the reports of McCoy’s lack of progress, you’re understandably still worried that his backup Bryce Brown — you know, the Bryce Brown who’s logged 372 yards from scrimmage over just two starts, and he’s averaging eight yards per carry — could receive a significantly lesser workload during your fantasy championship week if McCoy returns. Or worse, you own both Brown and McCoy, and you have no idea what the hell you’re going to do if both are healthy.
That’s a question I’ll surely explore repeatedly over the next few weeks if McCoy’s health improves. For now, the pondering begins with the first query in this week’s Five Questions, this time featuring Shane Hallam, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and a fantasy analyst for Draftcountdown.com.
1. McCoy’s return this year isn’t a certainty, especially with the Eagles now in full spiral. But if he does return, has Brown done enough to earn a time share, limiting the fantasy value of both running backs? How should owners of either player (and often McCoy owners are also Brown owners, complicating this further) approach this scenario with their weekly sit/start decisions?
I think a time share will be in the works upon McCoy’s return, but all indications are that McCoy will go back to having a similar role to what he had pre-injury. Looking at some of the Eagles’ games pre-injury, Brown was already gaining snaps and carries, averaging about four carries a game in Weeks 9-11. I’d expect that number to go up to 8-10 and McCoy to still receive the majority upon his return.
If that is the case, a fully healthy McCoy would still be the better play, and Brown could end up being the flex play. With Andy Reid’s new run commitment, it may not be a bad idea to play both backs in a given playoff week (perhaps against the Bengals or Redskins,) and take all the RB points in Philly.
2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has also created some difficult decisions going forward. He’s put together three straight +100 yard rushing games, but prior to Week 11 he was averaging only 59.6 yards per game. Which Green-Ellis should we expect and prepare for throughout the remainder of the season?
I believe he will revert back to his old ways of about 60 yards and the occasional touchdown. The teams that Bengals are playing over the next three weeks (Eagles, Cowboys, and Steelers) have been fairly stout against the run. The Eagles have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year, the Cowboys (before last week) were top 15 vs. the run in terms of yardage, and the Steelers have one of the best run defenses in the league (plus their top CB in Ike Taylor should be out for the game, meaning more A.J. Green). I don’t expect BJGE’s production to continue, though TDs can always negate the lack of yardage and that is something all three of Cincy’s remaining opponents have given up. I have him as a great flex play, and a low-end RB2 for the fantasy playoffs.
3. How should owners handle Larry Fitzgerald? Until Kevin Kolb returns I think he’s a flex play at best, and a playoff-bound team that desperately needs the roster spot can even consider dropping him. That sounds extreme, but Ryan Lindley has been that bad.
I’d bench him, absolutely. The Cardinals have the Seahawks and Bears in two of the next three weeks, both of whom are Top 10 vs. fantasy WRs. Add Lindley to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. Your only hope is to bench him and hope Kolb is back for fantasy championship week vs. the Lions. It isn’t Fitzgerald’s fault, and I’ll still draft him relatively high in re-draft leagues next year. But his 2012 season is lost if Lindley is tossing passes.
4. Who would you rather own during the fantasy playoffs: T.Y. Hilton, or Pierre Garcon?
I’d rather have Hilton. Both should provide solid numbers, but Hilton has the Titans this week and the Chiefs for the fantasy title. He has been very consistent, hasn’t missed a game, and he’s been targeted often by Andrew Luck. That isn’t knocking Garcon, who when he has played has been extremely effective. But the Ravens and Browns are tough pass defenses whose main focus will be to stop Garcon and worry about the rushing attack.
Think of it this way: Garcon is drawing Cary Williams, Joe Haden, and Nnamdi Asomugha, and Hilton is drawing Jason McCourty, Kareem Jackson, and Javier Arenas. With the amount the Colts pass, it isn’t a bad thing that Hilton is the No. 2 after Reggie Wayne. His match-ups will dictate a ton of targets, while Garcon’s targets could be more limited going forward.
5. Let’s end with a look towards next year. For the sake of this discussion, assume Greg Jennings re-signs with Green Bay. How would you then slot in the Packers’ receivers on your 2013 pre-season WR rankings? Injuries to both Jennings and Jordy Nelson in addition to Randall Cobb’s emergence could lead to a lack of clarity next summer.
It is difficult, but if Jennings re-signs, I view it like this:
- Greg Jennings
- Randall Cobb
- Jordy Nelson
- James Jones
- Jermichael Finley/DJ Williams
As seen last week, when Jennings is there, plays will always be drawn up for him. Early in the season, those didn’t come to fruition and he struggled to put up the appropriate numbers needed to suit fantasy players. However, I have Randall Cobb VERY close to Jennings as he continues to emerge. The way he is moved around the offense gives him a lot of value, and he’s a better player than Nelson in the short to intermediate passing game.
Nelson is overrated. He had the huge season last year, and he hasn’t met expectations while trying to separate from defenders and cleanly catch footballs this year. Add in the injuries, and he’s a distant third. James Jones could still come at a great value in re-draft leagues, but I’m still not confident he will always have the snaps to be a starter on your squad. Finally, the TE position could hold value if Finley is shipped out, but D.J. Williams still has some learning to do before he’s a starting-caliber fantasy player.