Fantasy football mailbag: Mathews frustrates but stats can't be denied
On Sunday I was doing some research on the Revis Island effect and came across some interesting findings. Widely regarded as the best one-on-one cover corner in the league, he's believed to be death for opposition fantasy no. 1 wideouts, but the numbers don't pan out. While Revis' personal stats are quite impressive -- he's holding the man he's covering to catches on less than a third of the throws his way with no touchdowns scored against him yet this season -- opposing teams are doing a good job of moving their top guns around to escape from the island. Thus far this year fantasy standouts Dez Bryant (3-71-1), Wes Welker (5-124), Brandon Marshall (6-109) and Stevie Johnson (3-84) all have had success despite being covered by Revis. So yes, he's great, but he can't be everywhere on the field all of the time.
Now for this week's mailbag.
The Chargers are one of the most vexing teams in the league, and Tolbert and Mathews have been at the root of many of the questions, trading good games and missed games back and forth. However, Mathews is among the most productive fantasy performers this season, averaging nearly 16.5 fantasy points per game. Despite a terrific game from Tolbert in Sunday's shootout loss to the Packers, Mathews remains Norv Turner's top backfield option. The other two players you mention, Thomas (crowded backfield especially when Mark Ingram returns) and Tate (great back but still the Texans' second option behind Arian Foster) have big obstacles in front of them. Making the decision easier is the fact that Mathews nearly suited up against Green Bay. But with a big Thursday night division game coming up against the Raiders this week, Mathews was held out as a precaution. Not only would I hold onto Mathews, I'd even use him this week.
From time to time a fantasy owner outsmarts himself. It's my understanding that following each week's action the NFL's official statisticians, The Elias Sports Bureau, combs over the play-by-plays and game films to make sure that the statistics are correct before making them "official." Sometimes this takes a couple of days and does affect the outcome of fantasy games. Often these include changing receptions to rushes and vice versa when laterals are uncovered, adding sacks, changing the length of returns, etc. That's why most of the web sites that offer live scoring use the disclaimer that the real time stats are unofficial and subject to change. Getting to the crux of the matter, stats changes are much more than a doomsday play that creates a come-from-ahead loss. Set your lineup and stick with it. The extra points you get may be useful in a tiebreaker anyhow.
With four strong games in a row, Boldin is proving to be a quality fantasy receiver, recapturing some of the magic he had when paired with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona and nearly singlehandedly keeping Joe Flacco fantasy relevant. He's outplaying Santonio Holmes, with twice as many touchdowns on 16 fewer catches. Daniels ranks seventh in fantasy points among tight ends and has fewer receptions than Winslow, but he's been drawing a lot of attention as Matt Schaub's favorite target while Andre Johnson has been sidelined. However, AJ is getting closer to a return and will free up Daniels more in the downfield passing attack. All together, I like the outlook for Holmes and Daniels better than that for Boldin and Winslow the rest of the schedule.
The Giants' towering (6-foot-6) third-year receiver quietly made his 2011 debut against the Patriots after being activated from the Physically-Unable-to-Perform list earlier in the week. A project from Cal Poly St. Luis Obispo, he was passed on the depth chart by Victor Cruz this summer, and when Hakeem Nicks returns will have trouble getting the attention that you need from a fantasy receiver. Still, with his size, it's just a matter of time until he becomes a weapon in red-zone offense. Right now, barring injury, Barden is simply someone to keep an eye on. But he should be a solid sleeper for next season's draft.
If the choice is between having Johnson and Tolbert in your lineup or having Marshall and Johnson with one always on your bench, I'd stick with Tolbert and Johnson.
Nope. Fitzpatrick is having a fine season and Rivers leads the NFL in turnovers, but when all is said and done Rivers will have the superior numbers, aided in large part by a soft remaining fantasy schedule and the successful return of his binky, Antonio Gates.
That's not the strongest group in the league, but adding Hillis, who has fallen off not only the table but the planet in fantasy and real life, will not help. However, it wouldn't hurt to replace Morris, a good piece but not one you should be counting on to start in a non-bye week situation. The emergence of DeMarco Murray also makes Jones expendable if you can find a Cowboys fan to take him off your hands.
Although Jackson hasn't put up big numbers yet this season, I still love his explosiveness and big play ability. Turner is also a solid pickup, and with Bradshaw's foot a major concern the deal becomes pretty even. I would do it from the Jackson/Turner side.