Fantasy football mailbag: Murray in play to remain No. 1 in Dallas
Led by Shady McCoy, Michael Vick, Brent Celek and a defense that finally played like a "Dream Team," the Eagles showed the nation that they're going to be a force to contend with this season and remain one of the teams that fantasy owners must have a part of. Perhaps the bigger news in Philadelphia's 34-7 blowout over Dallas was last week's hottest pickup, DeMarco Murray, who quietly solidified his position as the Cowboys top running back, gaining 74 yards on only eight carries. He's the focus of the first question in this week's fantasy football mailbag.
The Cowboys' new single-game rushing leader followed up his record-breaking performance against the Rams with a somewhat quiet but effective game in Philly. That may reduce his trade value slightly but there's always going to be inflated value for the top back on "America's Team."
As for your options, Graham is a stud and would be a great get. Boldin played with great passion against his ex-Arizona mates, but with Joe Flacco as inconsistent as any quarterback in the league, you can't count on him. Now splitting carries with Javon Ringer, CJ2K is a headache you want to avoid. However, if you can get a slightly upgraded running back in the deal to replace Murray in your lineup, I'd do it. If not, I'd pass.
First, Newton should be starting over virtually every quarterback in the league the rest of the year, so the struggling Rivers is merely an extra player for you. Although often injured, Hernandez has huge offensive potential as one of Tom Brady's trio of top targets with Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. His speed and size makes him one of the most dangerous receivers in football and difficult to cover, especially when he's matched up against cornerbacks, as he often is. He's on pace for more than 800 receiving yards and has scored a touchdown in four of the five games he's played. If you make the deal you'll have to use Dalton against the Titans in Tennessee this week with Newton on a bye, but I think it's worth it.
There's no doubt that the Packers scheme are firing on all cylinders and are stacked with receiving talent. But it's underestimating Rodgers to say that it's all system. He is the best passer in football right now and is having the best season since Tom Brady set all sorts of records in 2007. Smith is one of the game's most improved and efficient passers, which is one of the main reasons the Niners are 6-1. However, I think you're right in wanting to stay with the Packers the rest of the way. Should injury sideline Rodgers for any period of time, and if you can spare the roster spot to have a true backup on your roster, Flynn certainly makes sense. Before cutting Smith, though, offer him around your league in a trade to a team with a passer on a bye. You just might be able to shore up another position.
With Sam Bradford sidelined the last two-plus weeks the Rams have put the offense squarely on the shoulders of Jackson, who played like a man possessed in the league's biggest upset of the season Sunday against the Saints. Not only did he score two touchdowns in St. Louis' first win, but he went over the 100-yard mark for the first time this year and over the 150-yard mark for the first time since '08. Still, I wouldn't make the deal. The Eagles, already the league's second-ranked offense, is shifting into a higher gear and although he's been a first-half disappointment, it's just a matter of time until DeSean Jackson breaks out. And while Heyward-Bey has come on strong, his success is tied directly to the Raiders' shaky quarterback situation, a troubling prospect. So while it's not a completely one-sided deal, I believe from here on out the team getting DeSean Jackson would win out.
Smith has been rejuvenated with the addition of Cam Newton and has become one of the top must-start wideouts in the league, ranking behind only Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker in fantasy points, so anything you can do to get him, I endorse. Lloyd is a nice piece, but in no way a dealbreaker in either direction. The added bonus of getting Jones-Drew, who ranks only a few slots behind Turner in PPR points (granted, with one more game played) makes it a slam-dunk decision.
Brown is much better than a roll of the dice. He was targeted a career high 15 times Sunday against the Pats, hauling in nine balls for 67 yards and his first career receiving touchdown. He currently ranks among the Top 20 receivers in standard PPR leagues and as Pittsburgh's main punt returner, he could even tack on some special teams points in leagues that allow them. Others to keep an eye on of the deeper sleeper variety are Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos, Jeremy Kerley of the Jets, Braylon Edwards, who was just re-activated by the Niners, Dezmon Briscoe of the Bucs and Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks.
Jonathan Stewart and Newton are monopolizing the Panthers' backfield touches, basically freezing out any chance Williams has to contribute to fantasy teams barring an injury to Stewart. McCluster is neither a good fantasy wideout nor a good fantasy running back, so I don't like either to tell you the truth. I would be scouring the waiver wire for someone, anyone, better. If I had to hold onto someone it would be Williams.
Decker is the Broncos best receiver and a perfect outlet for Tim Tebow. He can get open in the middle of the field, giving Tebow a target even when the play breaks down. So I would keep him, especially in PPR formats. As for Nelson, he's been hot and cold, so if there's a better alternative out there, perhaps someone who's been cut during a bye week, I wouldn't be averse to making a move. But playing for a good passing team as the No. 2 receiver, he's certainly not going to hurt your squad.
If you have the ability to play both in a W/T flex situation, I would whole-heartedly support that. The problem with trading one is that there's so much depth at the tight end position this season (Gronkowski, Finley, Graham, Gonzo, Witten, Fred Davis, Olsen, Daniels) it may be hard to find a trading partner who needs one this late in the season. And each of their injury issues would likely hold their trade value down. The best you can hope for is an injury to a competitor's top tight end; then, perhaps, you can work out a fair deal. But playing both of them will offer you more value than anyone else.