Fantasy Football Roundtable: Lower expectations for White, Spiller?
C.J. Spiller and Roddy White, among other players, have endured slow starts -- should owners wait it out for them to pick it up, or should expectations be tempered? Will Colin Kaepernick return to his Week 1 status? What are the best options for the first week of byes? Our fantasy experts Michael Beller and Brian Flood discuss in this week's fantasy roundtable.
1. Whose surprisingly-disappointing start do you see continuing deep into the season?
Beller: I'm very happy I don't own any shares in C.J. Spiller right now. He hasn't done a thing in two of three games this year and is now dealing with a quad injury. The Bills say it isn't serious, and he is expected to play this week against the Ravens. Still, Fred Jackson has carved out a role in the offense, which is problematic for Spiller owners. The vet who just won't go away had 17 touches each of the first two weeks and 12 against the Jets last wpreek. Moreover, he has outgained Spiller on the ground in two games this year.
In addition to all that, Buffalo's offensive line has been the third worst run-blocking unit in the league this season. I still think Spiller will perform to a level where you'll be sure to have him in your lineup every week, but I don't see him justifying his first-round price tag this season.
Flood: Roddy White is dealing with an ankle injury right now, which contributes to the fact that he's only had seven catches for 56 yards this entire season so far. David Wilson, another slow starter, showed flashes of potential in Week 3, and the Giants don't have another realistic option for handoffs. In general, it's too early to panic on both White and Wilson. I'm not a big fan of selling low or losing faith in September, especially if you loved the player three weeks ago.
One player that I never liked, and still don't, is Stevan Ridley. His preseason hype was confusing. The Patriots simply don't turn their running backs into quality fantasy players. Bill Belichick will bench a running back after a fumble. He'll bench a running back after a missed blocking assignment. He'll bench a running back if he looks at him the wrong way. Plus, Tom Brady likes to throw the ball in the red zone. Ridley isn't someone to rely on going forward.
2. After a strong Week 1, what do you make of the funk Colin Kaepernick has fallen into the last two weeks? Will he snap out of it?
Beller: I was willing to cut Kaepernick plenty of slack after he struggled against the Seahawks, but after last week's stinkbomb against the Colts, I'm starting to get a bit worried. Terrelle Pryor ran for 112 yards and threw for another 217 in Indianapolis Week 1, and Ryan Tannehill torched the Colts for 319 yards, including 9.4 yards per attempt, and a touchdown. I don't think this can be chalked up completely to missing Vernon Davis, either. Kaepernick was off target with his throws and completely shut down as a runner. I had my concerns about anointing him the next great thing at quarterback heading into the season, and it primarily had to do with the fact that I felt defenses could start figuring him out with more exposure. I'm not suggesting that has happened, but I am saying I wouldn't trust him regardless of matchup until we see a bit more consistency.
Flood: I was never big on Kaepernick. I assumed teams would figure out the read option and Kaepernick would regress from a fantasy standpoint. Well, the read option isn't his issue. He's proven he can succeed as a pocket passer. I think the consecutive poor performances by Kaepernick are a result of the Seattle defense and a hungry Colts team. Vernon Davis missing the Colts game didn't help. I still don't love Kaepernick, but I expect him to bounce back in Week 4 against the Rams.
3. Bye weeks are upon us. This week, just Green Bay and Carolina are off, but we'll soon see four and six teams off per week. What are your best practices for dealing with byes? For this week, any below-the-radar quarterback options for owners who will be without Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton?
Beller: Well hopefully you started doing this back during the draft season when you had the opportunity to build depth at the two positions where you truly need it, running back and wide receiver. There's no better formula for getting through they bye-week portion of the schedule than having a handful of bench guys you feel comfortable playing for a week or two. This week isn't so bad with just two teams on bye, but it's going to get rough in Week 8 and Week 9 when there are six teams taking a seat. Any roster moves you're considering, be they trades or pickups, make sure you keep the byes in mind. If you're 3-0 or perhaps 2-1, you can afford to get a bit risky. If you're 1-2 or 0-3, you can't put yourself in a spot where you're severely short-handed for a week. There are only so many games you can lose.
If you don't already have a backup, one guy you could very well pluck off waivers is Jay Cutler. He has 693 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions through three games, and gets a Detroit defense that has allowed 366 yards per game.
Flood: I like to scout my bye-week situations a week in advance. I own Cam Newton, so before Week 3 I grabbed Ryan Tannehill off waivers. I was nervous that if I waited until after Week 3, the victim of a quarterback injury or the Rodgers owner would snag my guy. I like Tannehill in general and he faces the Saints on Monday Night Football. Although Miami and New Orleans have been solid on defense thus far, I expect a shootout on MNF.
Geno Smith and Christian Ponder all have nice matchups if you are desperate for a quarterback -- however, I have zero long-term faith in any of them.
Running backs and receivers are a different animal in regard to bye weeks. You're not going to find a serviceable player on waivers in most scenarios, so hopefully you drafted a decent bench. Isaiah Pead, Brandon Bolden and Santonio Holmes are available in most leagues and could contribute in Week 4.
Another important thing to remember is to not get duped into silly bye-week related deals. For example, if a savvy owner offers you Cam Newton for, say Andrew Luck, don't accept it even if you want to. You'll receive Cam, who is on a bye, and you'll be without a quarterback this week. Make sure to factor in bye weeks when evaluating trade offers going forward. That said, feel free to offer trades in which you give up the player on a bye. If I were 1-2 or 0-3 with Rodgers on my team, I'd be tempted to offer him for Peyton Manning and see what happens.
4. Who could owners realistically sell high at this point in the season?
Beller: If I'm a Joique Bell owner, I'm doing everything I can to trade him this week, In fact, I'm shopping him aggressively as we speak, especially while Reggie Bush's status for Week 4's game against the Bears is in doubt. Bell has been great this year and will have a role in the offense even when Bush returns. But the bottom line is that Bush's injury isn't that serious, and he'll get the majority of the touches out of the backfield once he's healthy. When that happens, Bell will once again be relegated to a goal-line back who maybe gets a series every so often. His value will never be higher than it is right now, coming off a game in which he put up 132 total yards and a score. The time to trade him has arrived.
Flood: DeAngelo Williams is playing well, but he's on the wrong side of 30. I'd be all over it if someone offered me equal value for him before the Week 4 bye. I don't expect a huge decline in Williams going forward, but he doesn't have much upside. Matt Forte is great, but I'd happily swap him for a different elite player who hasn't peaked yet. Forte's value is at an all-time high. Julian Edelman, Fred Jackson, Joique Bell, Ahmad Bradshaw and Eddie Royal are other guys I'd be looking to sell high on.
Phillip Rivers, Alex Smith and E.J. Manuel are among the leading fantasy scorers thus far. I don't expect any of them to finish the season among the top fantasy players, but it's very difficult to trade a mediocre quarterback during the season.
5. We know the Colts were just getting Trent Richardson's feet wet on Sunday, but can they really freeze Ahmad Bradshaw out of the offense? What's the state of this backfield for the rest of the season?
Beller: Bradshaw's performance has me concerned about Richardson's fantasy value for the rest of the season. The Colts didn't give up two picks, including a first-rounder, to get him in a 50/50 timeshare, but I think Bradshaw will have a significant role in the offense. He's quite possibly the best pass-blocking back in the league, and we saw last week that he still has plenty of juice as a runner. Richardson will get the majority of the carries, and he'll get all of them at the goal line, but this isn't going to be a situation where he runs the ball 25 times every single week. Put it this way. If Richardson were on the Colts to start the season, I don't think he would have been a first-round pick in nearly every fantasy league. I've got him ranked as the No. 14 back for the rest of the season.
Flood: Bradshaw saw 19 carries compared to 13 for Richardson in Week 3 at San Francisco. I expect that to change significantly by the end of the season. The Colts didn't give up a No. 1 pick just to have Richardson share carries. The split could be 50/50 when they travel to Jacksonville in Week 4, but that's only because Bradshaw is coming off such a big week. By Week 5 Richardson should see 20-plus carries per game with Bradshaw picking up his leftovers. I expect Richardson to be a top-five fantasy running back in the second half of the season. Unless you own both players, Bradshaw owners should be looking to sell high. If you do own both players... keep them. Bradshaw could turn into the best handcuff in the league.
MORE WEEK 4 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
GONOS: Start 'em, sit 'em -- Who should start in place of Rodgers or Newton?
BELLER: Week 4 player stat projections -- Expect big things from the Colts this week
SI STAFF: Week 4 composite player rankings -- Manning tops QB rankings for second week
FLOOD: Waiver wire -- Uncovering the best replacements for players with Week 4 byes
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Will Spiller start performing like a first-rounder?
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Richardson will continue to rise with new team
BELLER: Fast Forward -- Browns aren't crazy; Giants' offense a disaster