Welcome to Cover 1’s weekly fantasy football roster maintenance column, Sign & Decline.
Smart fantasy managers are constantly churning the bottom of their roster, signing players off the waiver wire who show promise and declining to keep unproductive players from taking up valuable space on their benches.
We’ll also touch on some of the highlights and lowlights of the week in the fantasy world.
*Hit me up on Twitter to submit questions for the Mailbag section of Thursday’s Flex On ‘Em column*
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo: Luckily for fans of Taylor, most of which are Bills or Virginia Tech fans, the traits required of winning quarterbacks are not necessary for fantasy-winning quarterbacks. Taylor leaves a ton of throws on the field, whether due to aforementioned skill deficiencies or by coordinator design, but he’s able to make up for lost passing yardage with rushing yardage by the sheer force of fantasy mathematics. It doesn’t take a math wizard to know for every 100 yards Taylor leaves on the field as a passer, he’s more than capable of producing 40 yards of rushing to make up for it. Add in his run-pass-option goal line looks, and it’s easy to see why Taylor should be rostered.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago: Cohen was absolutely electric on Sunday. It’s rare to see an NFL player make his opponents look outclassed in the speed department, but that’s exactly what it looked like on this run. He was only given 5 traditional carries, but was targeted a WR1-like 12 times in the passing game. Those 12 targets amounted to 8 catches and a TD. Every time he touches the ball he’s a threat, and the Bears have a plan to keep him involved.
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Arizona: David Johnson’s wrist injury severely damages the fantasy chances of many with the No. 1 pick in 2017 drafts, not to mention the outlook of the Arizona Cardinals. The only winner in this situation is Williams, who is likely to absorb the lion’s share of Johnson’s carries. Even if he’s only able to produce 70% of what Johnson does, I don’t have to uh…paint you a picture of what Kerwynn Williams can do for you.
James White, RB, New England: I’d rather walk down the roughest street in South Boston in a full-on Yankee uniform than trust Bill Belichick’s running back usage on a week-to-week basis. The primary RB job appears to be Gillislee’s, and he (of course) looked as explosive as he did as a Bill, and sure, Dion Lewis will steal touches. But White is the pass-catching back, and the Patriots are set to face two of 2016’s five worst defenses against pass-catching RBs in New Orleans and Houston, according to Football Outsiders.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis: Mack scored the lone rushing TD and outscored backfield-mate and human boulder Frank Gore. With Luck out for September (at least), expect the Colts to lean on the run.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detriot: Golladay lived up to preseason hype and hauled in a pair of touchdowns on seven targets. He has a tough matchup at the Giants in Week 2, but will be back on home turf for high-scoring Atlanta in Week 3.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams: Unlike the crowds in LA and San Francisco, Kupp was surprisingly present for what felt like a majority of the Rams’ passing plays. Despite a serious investment in other WRs and very poor QB play, Kupp appears destined to receive 7-10 targets per game for the foreseeable future.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas: There’s a little egg on my face early in the season, as I expected Beasley to cede targets to Ryan Switzer or Brice Butler, and thus dogged him in my Fantasy Football Draft Guide. He only hauled in 3 of 5 targets, but Beasley had the highlight of the day and appeared to be Dak Prescott’s primary release valve.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, NYJ: Kearse was the only playmaker in green on Sunday against the Bills. Targeted a respectable 9 times, the former Seahawk consistently found holes in McDermott’s zone scheme. The Jets are as bad as advertised and will be throwing a lot this season. You won’t be proud to have him on your team, but he’ll do for a base 10 points per game.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville: The news out of Jacksonville is that Allen Robinson will miss the season with a torn ACL. Expect Hurns to have a major role in filling the void. While it may not have been the quarterbacking head coach Doug Marrone imagined in his wildest dreams, Bortles was passable on Sunday.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta: This may be a little bit of an overreaction given that he was only targeted twice, but hear me out. He turned those two targets into 128 yards and a touchdown. Hooper is the No. 1 TE on a pass-first offense with Green Bay and Detroit ahead on the schedule. He’s a matchup nightmare and has run-after-the-catch ability – the Falcons will use him more going forward.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo: Long considered a colossal waste of salary cap in Buffalo, Clay appears primed to take advantage of offensive coordinator Rico Dennison’s pass-catching TE offense. QB Tyrod Taylor’s limitations, the biggest of which is literally seeing the field over his offensive linemen, will leave Clay wide open from time-to-infuriating-time, but the rest of the receiving corps combined matched Clay’s 9 targets. It’s a game of opportunities, and Clay will get plenty.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee: DeMarco Murray is fading, and fast. Henry was a high draft pick that the Titans will inevitably begin to feature. Bury him on your bench and leave him there, especially if you’re a Murray owner.
Emma Stone Of The Week
Your weekly “deep-sleeper” target currently in obscurity but potentially on the verge of breaking out. People forget Stone debuted on the national stage as sloppy teenage Jonah Hill’s token love interest and has since exploded into one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. Talk about starting from the bottom.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Chicago: A free agent signing from the Steelers, the Bears thought enough of Wheaton to pay him $7 million to be their #3 WR behind Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. Since then, White and Meredith have been sent to IR with shoulder and knee injuries, respectively, and Wheaton has missed the last few weeks with a broken pinkie. Set to come back in Week 2 or 3, Wheaton has no competition for targets going forward. This one might take a few weeks to pan out, but remember: Stone followed Superbad with The Rocker – this isn’t the section for immediate dividends.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore: The opposite of former teammate Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco is absolutely an ELITE quarterback option if the goal is to win real-life football games. If the goal is to win fantasy football games, the ELITE-O-METER is redder than Tom Coughlin in sub-zero temperatures.
Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas: It’s looking like McFadden should have hired his own attorney to block Ezekiel Elliott’s block of the NFL’s attempt to block Ezekiel Elliott from returning to the field. McFadden went from a possible fantasy stud for 6 games to a Club Trillion-esque stat line. One snap. Zero attempts. Zero targets. Alfred Morris is the Zeke handcuff you need.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati: The least dynamic of a 3-way backfield-by-committee, Hill’s fantasy future is as bleak as that of the latest Bachelorette and her lucky-not-at-all-forced-to-do-this fiancé. He’ll steal a goal line carry and vulture a TD every third game, but the point of your bench is to find guys ready to blow up, not the ones about to deflate.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Seattle: Having allegedly cut back on his caloric intake over the summer, Lacy sure didn’t run like a hungry man. 3 yards on 5 carries in a crowded backfield that’s still set to introduce another cog in Thomas Rawls? No thanks.
Brandon Marshall, WR, NYG: Much like the guys above, Marshall is on rosters because of his name and not his production. 1 catch on 4 targets, even with OBJ on the sideline. Ouch. The argument for Marshall is that OBJ will draw coverage, but I think Sterling Shepard is the more likely benefactor in that situation. Like Jeremy Hill, Marshall will score a redzone TD or two a month.
Brian Quick, WR, Washington: Brian’s 2017 trip to fantasy irrelevancy is as quick as it was in 2016 and 2015.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Baltimore: See Joe Flacco.
Will Tye, TE, NYG: Evan Engram is the better player, and there are only enough targets for one of them.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington: Name brand on your roster because of his history.
One player you should pursue for your team and one player you should move while he still has value.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay: One less target equated to about 1/3 of Jordy Nelson’s fantasy scoring. Expect Aaron Rodgers to keep slinging the ball and expect Adams to keep shaking loose in broken secondaries. Even the Seattle secondary couldn’t match up with all of Green Bay’s weapon; expect other defenses to give up even more. I’d trade most any #2 WR for him.
Sammy Watkins, WR, LA Rams: It doesn’t matter which time zone or from which direction the sun rises, Sammy Watkins’ career is dotted with a ton of targets early that give way to empty second halves. Cooper Kupp is better than expected, and Jared Goff played what will likely end up as his best game of the season. Be like the Bills and sell high.
Good Job, Good Effort
This section highlights an underachieving fantasy star and whether or not their performance is an outlier or beginning of a trend.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh: He missed the entire preseason in a contract holdout and debuted with an abysmal 42 total yards and zero touchdowns. You’re obviously not going to bail on him, but don’t be surprised to see a soft-tissue injury in September, as is often the case with guys who don’t cut and take hits for months and then jump into an NFL game. Pick up James Conner to be safe.
Talk About It Over A Drink
It’s natural to feel blind rage toward an underperforming player on your roster. With that in mind, each week we’ll sit down with a drink and an outside-the-lines look at one such underperformer to remind you that there’s more to these guys than yards and touchdowns.
This week we’re having an…
Old Fashioned: Pour two fingers of Crown Royal Vanilla over a muddled cherry, orange, and ice. Toss in a splash of orange bitters and some simple syrup. Skip the garnish.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis: Moncrief has “GOGA” tattooed on his foreman, which is an acronym for a personal slogan his mother (his mother!) taught him as a boy: Grind Or Get Ate. Moncrief has embraced every challenge from growing up in the Mississippi outskirts to making a name for himself in the NFL. Check out more from the Indianapolis Star here: Grind Or Get Ate: The Rise of Donte Moncrief.
GIF Of The Week
My thoughts on Rex Ryan providing color commentary for the second game of tonight’s Monday Night Football double-header:
I am hyperventilating. This is an ALL TIME thumbs down 👎🏻 pic.twitter.com/UwyJq8dAcE
— KFC (@KFCBarstool) September 12, 2017