The RotoViz writers’ Slack chat is always full of football talk. Here are some highlights from this week.
Brian Malone: Hey all, welcome to the RotoViz Slack Roundtable. We’re about one-third through the NFL season, and things are starting to solidify. It’s a good chance to figure out where we are and where we’re going.
Cort Smith: If anyone is wondering, I’m in bed in my underwear drinking coffee.
Brian: No, I already knew that.
Cort: OK, then we may proceed.
You’re a Fraud! No, You’re a Fraud!
Brian: Let’s begin with some big-picture questions. What early season trend do you think is actually a mirage?
Cort: Biggest fraud for me is Deshaun Watson. Obviously, his long-term prospects look better than what we had assumed, but this “Brees vs. Watson” rest-of-season talk is silly. He had a huge game vs a very bad Titans defense, then racked up a bunch of garbage time points vs KC. Houston is good enough that I don’t see them being in a bunch of garbage time situations like Bortles has been the past few years. I see Watson settling in as a high-end QB2, low-end QB1.
Brian: Rest of season: Alex Smith or Watson?
Cort: I take Smith. Similar rushing floor, more weapons, more consistent.
Matt Wispe: It’s funny you mention that, Brian, because my biggest fraud is Alex Smith. Smith has benefited from a major uptick in his offense. The Chiefs currently rank first in the NFL in yards per attempt at 8.8 compared to 17th in 2016 (only 7.2). While it’s fair to assume that he’s better with Tyreek Hill as a major contributor and the addition of Kareem Hunt, a 22 percent increase per passing play would seem to be unsustainable. And his rushing attempts have increased significantly from 2016. His current 16-game pace is 80 compared to 48 total in 2016.
Hasan Rahim: I agree with Matt that Alex Smith’s year-to-date production seems to be unsustainable, but the Chiefs face a softer schedule than the Texans going forward.
Cort: I think with Andy Reid, we can’t make too many assumptions. He may be the most flexible and creative play caller around. I’m not sure he is the type of coach to revert to what he did last year just because.
Ryan Bobbitt: I’m with Cort on Reid, and give me Smith rest-of-season over Watson.
Hasan: Even if Smith regresses to his career mean, you’re looking at a fairly solid weekly option at quarterback. After the bye week, Watson faces a fairly difficult schedule as a signal caller.
Brian: Just so we’re clear, would anyone take Watson over Smith?
Matt: I would still take Smith over Watson.
Cort: I’m actually quite surprised no one would gamble with Watson. It’s close.
Brian: I prefer Smith if we’re talking about who’s the best bet to finish with more FPs going forward. But in a 1QB league, I might take the chance that we’re wrong about Watson. Smith has put too much on paper in his career to think he’s really a top-five QB. But I said the same about Matt Ryan in 2016, so …
Matt: My concern with Watson also stems from his late-game explosion in Week 5. He went from relatively meh to week winning, and that somewhat relies on the presence of garbage time, which he shouldn’t face frequently.
Cort: Exactly. And I still think Houston wants to use a run a ton and play defense as a strategy. That’s probably all it will take to win that division. They don’t need heroics from Watson. KC will need heroics from Smith to win the West.
Matt: Cort, I think you misspelled “Hunt.”
Ryan: Losing Watt and Mercilus, perhaps garbage time will be more of an option.
Hasan: You know what. I’ll take Watson rest-of-season.
Brian: Where’s a flip-flop emoji when I need it?
Hasan: The Buy Low Machine states that Houston QBs have the fourth-easiest schedule going forward. With Houston’s defense suffering several injuries (good point, Ryan), I think Houston will have to be more aggressive to maintain their pursuit of a playoff spot. So if an owner drops Watson during the Week 7 bye, I will try and snap him up and ride him till the FF playoffs.
Fantasy Playoffs MVPs
Brian: I think it’s time to switch it up here. Who’s your way-too-early pick for fantasy playoffs MVP?
Cort: The obvious candidate is Alvin Kamara, as he gets the Falcons twice in the fantasy playoffs.
Hasan: I’d roll with Julio Jones because he gets the Saints twice in the FF playoffs. Thus far Jones has disappointed owners. And several people have recommended that you sell high on him.
Cort: Ha. Yeah, those matchups will decide a lot of championships.
Brian: Who’s the top running back you’d trade for Julio right now?
Hasan: Ezekiel Elliott.1
Matt: I’d sell Julio for Devonta Freeman on the same Saints logic.
Matt: My MVP is another top NFC South wide receiver, Mike Evans. Evans faces Green Bay, Atlanta, Detroit, and Carolina over Weeks 13-16. Each of those games will be among the top Vegas totals of the week.
Ryan: Drew Brees is my playoff winner for this reason: fantasy playoff schedule.
Matt: Apparently we really like the NFC South. Does anyone want Kelvin Benjamin?
Hasan: I’ll take Benjamin. With all the positive Funchess noise Benjamin seems to have slipped between the cracks slightly. Also, if Greg Olsen has been dropped in your league, pick him up. He’s eligible to start practicing on November 6. So if Olsen continues to progress with no setbacks, he’s on track to return on November 26 (Week 12 against the Jets).
Matt: The Jones Fracture concerns me a little more. I considered Olsen as well, but that injury has historically had setbacks.
Cort: I’ll also throw CJ Anderson out there. Broncos have a nice schedule vs RBs in Weeks 14-16 (New York Giants, Indianapolis, Washington) and Anderson has quietly looked very good this year.
Brian: I like Anderson, though I’m also interested in Jamaal Charles as a Zero RB target in the likely scenario that Anderson misses time.
Cort: It’s a backfield I’ve watched closely. While it could always change, so far I’ve seen no indication that the Broncos are interested in giving the GOAT more work. I think they are being careful with him.
Brian: That settles it. Trade everyone on your team for the whole NFC South and CJ Anderson.
Brian: Oh, by the way, my top choice is D’Onta Foreman. 49ers, Jaguars, Steelers. He may get dropped during the bye week gauntlet. And if Lamar Miller goes down, he’s the workhorse.
Matt: Houston is the top target for RBs over weeks 14-16 according to the Buy Low Machine.
Week 6 Talk
Brian: Looking more short term, which Week 6 matchup intrigues you the most?
Cort: I’m pumped for the Packers and Vikings. But I think the biggest make-or-break game of the week is for the Steelers. It feels like it’s all just on the edge of disaster there, and they have to get back on track against the only undefeated team in the league, the Chiefs. Maybe it’s schadenfreude, but I’m curious to watch it all burn in Pittsburgh.
Hasan: I just want to add on to the Packers/Vikings here. It will be interesting to see how Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are used going forward. Currently, their target share is fairly similar, and Adams has accounted for more touchdowns. Also, we might get an understanding of how the Ty Montgomery–Aaron Jones backfield may look. Lastly, the most interesting thing here would be Stefon Diggs playing through injury. Hopefully, he does well and the injury wasn’t particularly serious.
Hasan: I’d like to personally observe the train wreck that’s currently the Miami offense. So far, Jarvis Landry has been the only consistent fantasy producer in Miami, and I referred to him as a buy-low option this week. I’m interested in seeing how DeVante Parker performs given his ankle issues, whether Jay Ajayi sees more usage in the passing game, and whether Miami actually breaks the glass and starts Matt Moore.
Matt: As weird as it sounds, I’ll be interested to watch Jets/Patriots because of the porous New England defense. That game might actually turn into a shootout.
Brian: 2017 Josh McCown = 2016 Brian Hoyer
Cort: Great call, Matt. That game is fascinating on many levels, not the least of which is Tom Brady has struggled against the Jets. Then you have the rookie RB McGuire. Could he be the hero that puts the Jets in first place in the AFC East?
Ryan: I like the Lions-Saints matchup. We’ve targeted both defenses heavily last year but both units are currently allowing less than 20 points per game. The Saints were obviously helped by playing the Dolphins, but Detroit’s defense is no longer a pushover.
Brian: Agreed. And with Matt Stafford gimpy, the Saints could dominate this one defensively.
Brian: How about Rams-Jaguars? Two teams that no one expected to look this good. I suspect the Jags are going to remind us why we all thought Jared Goff was the WOAT.
Hasan: It may also re-ignite some Todd Gurley hatred as well.
Matt: The Jags are among the league’s worst in yards per carry allowed and it was baffling to watch Pittsburgh pass a ton against them. If McVay is the coach we think he is, I’d expect a healthy dose of Gurley.
Cort: So what does that make Tomlin last week, Matt? Yeesh.
Ty Montgomery or Aaron Jones?
Brian: Last question. Hasan, you mentioned wanting to see how the Packers backfield shakes out. Who do we prefer going forward: Montgomery or Jones?
Hasan: I actually wrote about this in August. I’m a Montgomery fan, but I thought the price on him had gone crazy. He was consistently taken around the late third, early fourth, which is a rich cost for someone who had only taken limited snaps as an RB. Now with Jones impressing (in a small sample), Montgomery may be forced into a committee. That’s bad news for anyone who drafted Montgomery at the top of his valuation. (He was routinely going ahead of RBs like Carlos Hyde, Mark Ingram, and Anderson.) If Montgomery maintains the stranglehold as the passing down back (quite possible, seeing as how the Packers have only targeted Jones once thus far), then he could make for an intriguing buy low candidate. But it’s certainly not the role you hoped he’d land in if you bought into him as the bell-cow RB.
Matt: I think this week will be telling for Jones. If Montgomery is active and Jones is still successful as the lead back, it’s Jones. In his limited work, he’s appeared to be the best back in their system to balance the passing game. He’s definitely not as versatile as Montgomery, but his college receptions indicate that he’s not on the LeGarrette Blount or Adrian Peterson levels of obvious run either.
- Editor’s Note: This conversation happened before Elliott’s suspension was confirmed. (back)