NFL fantasy roundtable: Helu, Jones impress but threats remain
Each week of the NFL season, a committee of SI.com fantasy experts will huddle together and offer their insights into the most intriguing questions facing fantasy players.
1. Roy Helu is the latest running back to take a spin on the Redskins backfield carousel? Is the job his from here on out or could Ryan Torain or Tashard Choice spoil the party?
Mike Beacom: Helu's performance against San Francisco (146 yards from scrimmage) will keep him in the starting lineup in Week 10. Beyond that, it's difficult to say. Mike Shanahan has never been one to make life simple for fantasy owners, and let's not forget that Helu has carried the ball just 37 times this season (no more than 10 in any one game).
Will Carroll: Choice is the wild card here, but I think Helu's the talent. From a fantasy perspective, 10 catches is where the value is, but as a rookie value pick for the Redskins, I have a harder time seeing why they'd suddenly commit to him. Shanahan changes from week to week based on what he's seen in practice and the matchup. He's done it everywhere he's gone, so I don't think any one week's performance is going to change that.
Eric Mack: Despite the fumbles, the Redskins are rebuilding and will be handing the feature-back duties to Helu. Choice is still not healthy and Torain clearly isn't a favorite; otherwise, he would have been used this past Sunday. The bad news is that Helu is facing four pretty good run defenses in the next four weeks and John Beck is a mess of a starting quarterback. The Redskins don't have much around Helu to make him more than a fringe fantasy option in crunch time. But long term, Helu looks like a potential fantasy star.
David Sabino: You can never say never with the Shanahans, but if Helu can avoid making a terrible mistake like developing a fumbling problem or failing to properly protect the quarterback, then the job should be his. While the backfield has been a mess, there is some rhyme to the reason. Tim Hightower would've been the starter had he not been injured. Torain is too fragile to handle a full load. And it's been two years since the currently injured Choice has shown any signs of being able to handle even a share of a backfield load. That leads to Helu. However, having the job and being someone who owners can rely on are two different things as the rest of the Redskins' offensive woes severely limit the value of the whole team.
2. Which Falcons receiver will have more value going forward this season: Julio Jones or Roddy White?
Beacom: It depends on how your league is scored. In PPR (points per receptions) leagues, I still like White. He's clearly in a funk, but he remains one of the most thrown-to receivers in pro football (79 targets). For traditional scoring, Jones is the more attractive weapon for the second half of the season. He has collected 100 or more yards in three of his last four outings, and is a safe bet for 2-3 deep ball attempts each game.
Carroll: White. I love Jones, don't get me wrong, but as a rookie, he's still adjusting. He has the speed (when healthy) and the talent (did you see that falling TD catch?) but there's still a lot he needs to work on. He hasn't used his body well and the Falcons still go to Gonzalez in the red zone. White is a top tier WR and Jones will be, but not just yet. Give him a couple more years and Jones will be the one you want.
Mack: White is still the Falcons' go-to man. Just look at the targets. Jones can break long plays, but the Falcons won't be facing many matchups as easy as the Colts were in Week 9. Long TDs are not something you can count on: Ask DeSean Jackson and Chris Johnson owners. That duo struggles when they don't break those long TDs we have grown accustomed to seeing from them. Jones is going to disappear similarly in future weeks. With that said, start Jones in all formats now. The results are just too good to ignore. White is going to get hot in the scoring column, too.
Sabino: Jones had a spectacular game against the hapless Colts, following up an incredible diving catch in the end zone on a 50-yard Matt Ryan bomb with an 80-yard catch and run to raise his average to 81.5 yards per game, good for 10th in the league. White, the league's most prolific pass catcher last season has slipped to 25th in receptions this year. When he's been on the field, Jones has been huge for the Falcons, and if he can remain healthy, I like him better going forward.
3. Reggie Bush has put together a couple good games in a row. Has he become a reliable every-week starter?
Beacom: What we've seen from Bush the past two weeks has been encouraging, but it's a small sample from what's largely been a disappointing five-and-a-half-year career. He has reached the 20-touch mark in a game just once this season (Week 1) and has found the end zone twice. Hardly the stuff fantasy starters are made of.
Carroll: One is a fluke, two is a pattern. Something changed and it wasn't Bush. What changed is simple, but we couldn't have known this five years ago, or could only have guessed. Now, we have data. Instead of running inside the tackles, Bush is being called outside, whether rushing or receiving. Thomas and Steve Slaton are getting the inside runs. Essentially, the Dolphins figured out what everyone else knew -- Bush isn't an every down back and getting him the right situations has made him a good fantasy play.
Mack: Bush's revival is a function of circumstance. Daniel Thomas is going to get healthier, presumably, so Bush is going to get less carries, and less red-zone scoring chances. The good news is Matt Moore has become an NFL quarterback -- at least one decent enough to make the players around him something greater than worthless. Bush can still be a factor in PPR leagues as a receiving threat.
Sabino: Not yet, but he's getting there. Bush has been a fantasy bust ever since entering the league but he's shown the ability to run between the tackles the past two weeks against the Giants and Chiefs ... neither of which is a great run-stopping squad. However, with the exception of the Patriots and Cowboys, Miami doesn't face a top 10 rushing defense, so he'll probably be safe to use as a flex option -- until Thomas reclaims the top job or at least an equal share of Miami's carries.
4. Poor weather is around the corner for much of the country. Whose stock might take the biggest hit when Old Man Winter storms in?
Beacom: Life has been grand for Cincinnati rookie wide receiver A.J. Green up until now. The former University of Georgia standout ranks among the top 10 in touchdown catches, and among the top 20 in both receptions and yards. But Green will start to slow down once the turf begins to harden and the winds begin to blow. The Bengals' only "warm" game remaining on the schedule is a trip to St. Louis.
Carroll: I think weather is a bit overplayed as a fantasy worry. In the last four weeks, the Packers (the most extreme weather team) play three home games and one on the road (vs KC). The schedule makers appear to be fans of the frozen tundra. Denver has three home games and one at Buffalo. Buffalo is home twice, at NE, and then at SD. I've never seen someone break down the second half numbers between domes, bad weather and "good weather" teams, so until then, I'll stick with Aaron Rodgers over Matt Moore.
Mack: It is never really the snow -- or even the cold and sometimes freezing rain coming in sideways -- that impacts fantasy performances. Heck, the slippery weather makes defense a lot harder, as players slip and miss more tackles and ball carriers break longer runs. The really crippling weather effect we have to worry about is the wind, and that can turn on a dime. It isn't very predictable and not something you can plan for -- outside of being wary of passers and receivers in windy locales like Chicago (Jay Cutler), Buffalo (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Johnson) and New York (Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Jake Ballard, Mario Manningham, Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller and Plaxico Burress).
Sabino: Between domes, climate change and the NFL schedule that has taken it easy on warm weather teams, I'm not really looking for a big drop-off for anybody due to the winter weather. In fact, the only team that should be affected terribly down the stretch is the Dolphins, who play in Buffalo and Foxborough in Weeks 15 and 16.
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