Fantasy football Roundtable: Is Alshon Jeffery the real deal?
Alshon Jeffery has racked up huge fantasy numbers two weeks in a row -- is he the real deal? With Thad Lewis at the helm, should owners consider starting any Bills receivers? Can Matt Schaub turn his season around? Our fantasy experts Michael Beller and Brian Flood discuss in this week's fantasy roundtable.
1. Should you buy into Alshon Jeffery?
Beller: In a word? Absolutely. These last few weeks are no fluke. Jeffery was considered one of the top draft prospects among wide receivers entering his junior year at South Carolina, but a down season slid him into the second round of the 2012 draft. He was beset by injury in his rookie year with the Bears, but played well when he was on the field. Jay Cutler raved about him all preseason, and after a slow start to the year, the team has clearly made it a priority to get him involved.
He has 15 receptions on 24 targets for 325 yards and two scores in Chicago's last two games. The Bears defense is not what it once was, allowing 26.6 points per game (not including a defensive touchdown scored by the Lions), and the Bears were already throwing the ball more under Marc Trestman. The opportunity will be there, the scheme suits his skill set, and he has the talent to take advantage. You'll want to start him most every week the rest of the season.
Flood: Brandon Marshall said, "I've always said this guy could be the best to ever do it," when asked about Jeffery's 10 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown in Week 5. If you play in a league with Brandon Marshall, sell high. You obviously shouldn't expect another performance like that anytime soon. But he's easily capable of producing second wide receiver numbers with monster weeks sprinkled in. Jeffery has all the tools to succeed and Jay Cutler is growing more comfortable with him each week. He was on every fantasy sleeper list this preseason for a reason.
2. Andre Ellington and Zac Stacy have the fantasy world buzzing. Whom do you prefer?
Beller: I do like both for the rest of the year, but if I can only have one I'd rather have Stacy. Ellington and incumbent starter Rashard Mendenhall split the snaps right down the middle last week, picking up 30 apiece. Meanwhile, Stacy ran for 78 yards on 14 carries in his first start with the Rams, and it looks like the Rams have finally soured on Daryl Richardson. Stacy is expected to remain the starter, and should get the majority of the touches in St. Louis. With guys this far down the rankings, your best bet is to trust in the volume. Right now, that means Stacy is your man.
Flood: I hyped up Ellington in last week's edition of waiver wire, so I'll stick with my guy. Ellington continues to outplay Mendenhall on a weekly basis. In Week 5 Ellington and incumbent starter Mendenhall both played exactly 30 snaps. Coach Bruce Arians doesn't believe Ellington can handle a larger workload and claims he'll be limited to 30-32 snaps per game going forward. Arians will have to change his tune if Ellington keeps averaging 6.6 yards per carry and Mendenhall continues to gain only 3.2 yards per attempt. Well, if Arians wants to win games he'll change his tune. Either way, Ellington is ready to be a serviceable flex option with only 30 snaps per game.
Stacy, who leads this week's waiver wire column, has a legitimate chance to run away with the starting running job in St. Louis. Stacy probably has more down-the-stretch upside, but I'd pick Ellington if I wanted to start one of them in Week 6.
3. What's Terrelle Pryor's value for the remainder of the season? Should he be considered a starter is a deep enough league?
Beller: No doubt, Pryor has been impressive in his first year as a starter. After running for 112 yards against the Colts Week 1, he has thrown for 502 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games, getting 9.84 yards per attempt. Let's recall, though, that he racked up those numbers against the Broncos and Chargers, who have been friendly to quarterbacks this season. Pryor should certainly be owned in all leagues and I think he's a starter in two-quarterback leagues. In conventional leagues, I don't see him being more than a matchup play. His rushing totals have declined each of the past three games, but he did carry the ball 11 times against the Chargers, so the Raiders don't appear to be scared off by the concussion. Let's call it 2,500 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 350 rushing yards the rest of the year.
Flood: Pryor faces Kansas City in Week 6 followed by a Week 7 bye, so he might not be worth using until Week 8. But as for labeling Pryor a "starter," I'd hold off. In a standard, 12-team league, I'd prefer Manning, Brees, Romo, Rivers, Stafford, Luck, Rodgers, Ryan, Kaepernick, Wilson, Brady, Newton and RGIII. That puts Pryor as a fantasy backup with tremendous upside going forward.
4. How much should we downgrade the Bills' receivers and running backs, given that Thad Lewis will be the starting quarterback?
Beller: I would not even consider starting Stevie Johnson or Robert Woods. They simply cannot be counted on with Lewis under center. C.J. Spiller may have been a tad overrated heading into the season, but you can't realistically bench him unless you're flush with running backs. He did put up a nice statistical game against a strong Browns defense, running for 66 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and his tender ankle will have had 10 days of rest since that game. Fred Jackson had 17 carries for 53 yards and two scores last week and caught four passes for 40 yards. He has been very productive this year, but the combination of a practice squad quarterback and a very tough matchup with the Bengals scares me. I'd likely bench him.
Flood: If you own C.J. Spiller, he was probably your first-round pick (and you are probably in last place). If that's the case, you can't downgrade him any more than you already have. Fred Jackson shouldn't see much of a change in value with Thad Lewis under center. As for receivers, Stevie Johnson is already a mediocre option and Lewis isn't going to help his cause. Johnson is also dealing with a back injury and should be avoided for fantasy purposes in Week 6.
The most exciting player on the Bills is rookie Robert Woods, who was developing nice chemistry with E.J. Manuel. Woods should continue to mature as a receiver, but a change at quarterback could negatively impact his development. Overall, not too many Bills are dependable for fantasy purposes, regardless of the starting quarterback, but the downgrade from Manuel to Lewis should hurt Woods the most.
5. Can Matt Schaub turn his season around, or should Andre Johnson be traded now?
Beller: Well, you should be willing to trade all of your players. I'm not saying you're going to trade Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles, but you need to keep every door open. Having said that, I'm not rushing out to trade Johnson by any means. It was just one week ago that he caught nine passes for 110 yards against the imposing Seattle secondary. Matt Schaub may be on a historic pick-six streak, but he has had three very good fantasy games this season, and that's really all we care about here. Don't worry about Johnson.
Flood: The way Schaub is playing, Johnson owners would be better off with a new quarterback. It's not like Johnson will have someone incapable of throwing a football. T.J. Yates is an NFL-caliber QB, who has won a playoff game in his career. Johnson is talented enough that a change at QB is probably the perfect recipe for him to step up for fantasy owners. Remember, Yates threw a touchdowna pass to Johnson when Houston beat Cincinnati in the playoffs a few years back.
MORE WEEK 6 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Stat Focus -- How your roster can benefit from Justin Blackmon
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Is it worth starting any Raiders this week?
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- A.J. Green primed for a huge game
SI STAFF: Composite Player Rankings -- Expect another strong week from Bryant
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Is Alshon Jeffery the real deal?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Stacy stepping up as Rams' starting running back
McQUADE: Risers & Sliders -- Top players struggling to produce stats
BELLER: Fast Forward -- Quarterbacks steal the spotlight in Week 5