In the before time when our fantasy forefathers invented flex spots, they had in mind players like Marquise Goodwin, and the exact situation Goodwin faces today.
Now, before I dive too deep into Goodwin slobbering, let’s get this clear up front: your desire to flex the Bills burner against Pittsburgh rests mostly with the depth of your league, and the degree to which bye weeks hate you. So basically, if you own either Josh Gordon or any of the Patriots’ primary wide receivers (all of whom are on byes), this Goodwin kid looks mighty appealing. Or if you’re in a league with 14 or more teams (hi there, I’m in a 20-team league and I haven’t seen my family in months), Goodwin also deserves at least several minutes of your attention right now as you set lineups.
Why is that? Because of speed, because of Robert Woods, because of E.J. Manuel, and because of favorable target distribution.
First, the major factor in Goodwin’s favor is Woods. The fellow rookie wideout didn’t practice all week after suffering an ankle injury in Week 9 against the Chiefs, and won’t play today. That will leave more looks for Goodwin in all three wide receiver sets as he plays behind Stevie Johnson and T.J. Graham, and the latter has been pushed heavily all season. In that sense then, today we can expect a pre Reggie Wayne injury T.Y. Hilton role for Goodwin. What’s more encouraging is that even prior to Woods’ injury, Goodwin’s secondary exploding speed was being called upon more often by Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Goodwin missed a month due to a broken had, but his 13 targets overall is still a minimal number following four game appearances. However, nine of those targets have come over just the past two weeks, and he has 171 receiving yards on only eight receptions. That’s a booming 21.4 yards per catch, which has included two +40 yard catches and two touchdowns, one on a 56-yarder last week. He can get you fantasy points in bunches, lots and lots of bunches.
The target distribution gets better. Last week while Goodwin led all Bills pass catchers in yards with 64 on just two catches, he was targeted four times. That equals the targets given to Graham, and what did he do with those targets? -2 yards, that’s what. Meanwhile, Woods was targeted eight times, and Johnson received seven looks from Jeff Tuel, who’s ability to throw the ball deep is, um, lacking. Now Graham and Goodwin will inherit those Woods targets, and the latter brings far more speed and an element of surprise that Hackett can continue to capitalize on with Manuel’s booming arm returning.
Then there’s the matter of the Steelers pass defense, which has been swell overall while giving up only 210.0 passing yards per game, the league’s fourth best total. But they’ve been susceptible to deep, chunk yardage while allowing seven catches of 40 yards or more, which is nearly one per game. That’s contributed to a less than likeable 7.3 yards per pass attempt allowed, a number achieved largely through Ike Taylor’s recent struggles. Lastly, there’s also the utter lack of pressure provided by the Steelers’ front seven despite the presence of LaMarr Woodley. Manuel won’t be threatened much during his rust shaking process by a defense that’s only registered 13 sacks, and neither will his ability to get the ball deep and far.
Again, there’s a dice rolling element here. But for most of you, that’s what the flex spot is for, and with an increased role and the return of Manuel, Goodwin has the best chance to go all Week 9 Riley Cooper on us.
More stray lineup thoughts, predictions, words of warning
You need to handcuff Dennis Johnson now
If your league’s waiver wire takes effect as of the early kickoffs like most do, you need to make this move now.
To the surprise of no one after Arian Foster had to see a back specialist Friday, reports surfaced earlier this morning that he’s most likely out for the season. There are two histories with running backs following a +400 touch year like Foster’s in 2012. One sees a drop off of some significance, but the RB in question is still plenty productive. The other is a faceplant and immediate combustion. Foster’s fate is now definitely the latter following his extremely heavy abuse last year, and his rapidly declining yards per carry.
Ben Tate ascends into the starting role, though his status is uncertain at best, because that’s what happens when you play a position where thorough whackings are common, and you have four broken ribs. That’s right, Tate’s midsection is busted, and he admitted after last week’s Sunday night loss in which he had 81 rushing yards (but on only 3.7 yards per carry) that normal human functions like breathing and laughing were difficult.
So enter Johnson then, who becomes the Texans’ No. 2 running backs with Foster out, and there’s a very real chance that he’ll have a meaningful role soon if Tate continues to run tentatively.
Aside: remember a little over a week ago when, with great sadness, I explored how much the top fantasy running backs have sucked? Welp, since that post was written two of the top three running backs according to August ADP data at FantasyPros have been ruled out for the year. The worst.
You’re probably starting Nick Foles, but expectations should be reduced
I still haven’t slept much since Sunday.
I lack the bravery to start Foles over Flacco in my 20-teamer. But given the matchups, that seems like the intelligent thing to do.
— Sean Tomlinson (@Score_Tomlinson) November 3, 2013
Here’s the dea: while throwing seven touchdown passes in a game is impressive regardless of the opponent, please remember that the Raiders’ secondary is rather putrid while giving up 7.9 yards per attempt, and for many of those scoring chucks Foles’ targets were wide open. But on the flip side, he now opposes a Packers defense that just made Josh McCown look like the second coming of Joe Montana with his two touchdowns on 272 yards, and a passer rating of 90.7. That’s just a litttttle bit high than McCown’s’ career passer rating of 72.7.
But then on the flip flip side, there’s the return of Clay Matthews. Much of McCown’s deep passing last week was the result of comfort in the pocket against these Packers, which ends today. Combine that with a tough matchup for DeSean Jackson against Casey Hayward, and Foles becomes a low-end QB1. He’s commonly been ranked as such.