The Most Reliable Wide Receivers in Fantasy Football

September 5, 2015

At this point I do not think I have to prove to you who you should be building your team around.  My Most Reliable Quarterback list detailed how your QB could have 6 or 7 defenders coming for him on any given play; and while touching the ball on every offensive play can be a gift, it can also be a curse.  I also established that the running back position is the absolute worst position to put your faith in as they are the only position that will have 11 defenders running for them on nearly every touch of the ball.  The running backs have proven to have the shortest shelf life, and the worst part is they sometimes fall off that cliff right in the midst of your season.

So that brings us to the receiver position.  The Wide Receiver has the value of a Quarterback in the sense that a true number 1 or 2 receiver will rarely miss an offensive snap.  Receivers enjoy the fact that most of their touches occur downfield and they are generally exposed to fewer defenders than any other skilled position.  Furthermore, the hits that receivers take; although vicious at times, are usually from smaller defenders such as corner backs and safeties.  From and injury and reliability standpoint it is a no brainer that your team should be built around a number one receiver.

There are simply too many receivers for me to give you all of them in one post but you can click here to look at the full SEP rating list.  My goal is to help you figure out which of the number ones you should be considering for your first and maybe even second pick.  Most of the fantasy experts agree on picking a wide receiver first, especially in PPR leagues; but do you really want to spend a first round pick on a player who you can not rely on?

Just like most of these positions, you will see a reliability premium on youth.  In fact I will tell you now that Amari Cooper comes in as the most reliable receiver in the league with a top rating of 107.  At the other end of the spectrum is an oldie but a goodie with the veteran Reggie Wayne rated as the least reliable wide receiver with a rating of 70.  The valuable information is in the middle.  Despite that fact, I am sure that not many of us will make Amari Cooper or Nelson Agholor as our first pick.  So instead of going through the entire list, I looked at number one targets who are projected to be owned heavily in fantasy football.

It is my advice to weigh these reliability ratings with production projections to make your picks.  Keep in mind that most projections account for a player who is playing every game in his normal capacity.  If you were to use those types of numbers exclusively, it would truly be a fantasy scenario as we know that the only thing that is guaranteed in the NFL is injuries.  So while someone may project 12 touchdowns for your receiver, it will mean nothing if that receiver misses 3 games or plays the last half of the season with a nagging hamstring injury.  Here are a few Wide Receivers and Tight Ends that most of us should be interested in.

I used weight, speed, experience, football IQ, injury history, position norms, and other factors to create a rating system that predicts which fantasy football players are the most reliable.  I call this my SEP Rating as it primarily consist of SCIENCE, EVIDENCE, and PERFORMANCE. I put just a pinch of subjective into these ratings as I believe there are simply some things that you have to assess with your eyes and not through data.  

NUMBER ONE OPTIONS WITH SEP RATINGS OF 90 AND ABOVE

Mike Evans: SEP Rating – 101

I consider Mike Evans the number one in Tampa Bay although Vincent Jackson may have something to say about that.  Ironically Evans is now nursing a hamstring injury.   Many owners will be concerned about this as these hamstring injuries are notorious for lingering.  I tend to worry less about a player this young having nagging injuries as technically a nagging injury is simply an injury that will not heal.  Generally speaking, healing is not something you have to worry about at this age as it tends to happen fast and furiously.  Evans is one of the biggest wideouts on this list coming in at 231 lbs and you can count on him to not likely go down from a big hit, as he is generally the larger man in most of his collisions.  Mike Evans will serve as an excellent fantasy option to build a team around for years to come, especially if Jameis Winston is as good as advertised.

Brandon Cooks: SEP Rating – 101

Although Brandon Cooks is almost the opposite of Mike Evans, he comes in just fractions below him for reliability.  Cooks injury last year is more of an anomaly than anything.  He suffered a broken thumb about mid way through but I do not feel that this is a direct reflect on his durability.  Brandon Cooks does concern me with his weight which is 189 lbs, but his 4.33 speed and shifty agility makes him elusive enough to avoid many big hits.  He is actually the only number one option under 190 lbs anywhere near the top half of this list.  I had Brandon Cooks last year on my fantasy team and may have been a year too early.  I think he has a chance to be a PPR beast this year similar to Antonio Brown, and with a reliability rating this high he may just be the better option.  The only flag I would put on Cook’s is to take him on a year to year basis.  Getting him in a dynasty league may not be the best idea as while I think he will be fine for this year, that small frame will wear down has his career progresses.

DeAndre Hopkins: SEP Rating – 101

Hopkins comes in last for our three-way tie at 101.  With Andre Johnson gone, it is very clear that DeAndre Hopkins is the man in Houston.  Hopkins is not too big and not too fast, which is how I like my players.  Sometimes I fear the Freaky Talented athletes who are too big or too fast as their bodies simply can not sustain that level of talent.  Hopkins has no significant injury history to speak of and he is playing in a division in which the only real defense wears the same uniform that he does.  Now I am no draft strategist but while some people will be ecstatic to get the first or second pick in their draft and pull a Julio Jones or ODB, I would feel just fine picking late and getting any 2 out these 3 receivers that top this list to build my team around.

Jordan Matthews: SEP Rating – 100

I think the secret is out that Matthews is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the offense who will likely run the most plays in the NFL this season.  The better news is that I expect him to be around for just about all of them.  Jordan Matthews looks like a big receiver on the field but at 212 is really not that big.  The trick is that he is always in the slot and these days the slot defenders all seem to be the little quick guys.  I guess it goes with Chip Kelly’s theory that big guys beat up little guys.  I expect Matthews to dominate the slot this year and to not take many big hits.  Despite his position, many of his routes are going toward the sideline and many of his hits are from that little slot defender that is covering him.  When you add in the Sports Science system that he is in with the Eagles, Jordan Matthews earns his spot as one of the most reliable wide receivers in the league.

Odell Beckham Jr.: SEP Rating – 99

This is the one that many of you have waited for as the most electrifying receiver since Randy Moss is at the top of many draft boards.  In my opinion this rating supports taking Odell Beckham Jr. very high.  Most of us are aware of the ongoing hamstring issue that Beckham has endured, but I think it may just come with the territory for him.  While he did not run a historically fast 40 yard dash at 4.43 seconds, on the field the Freaky Talent that he possesses is clear.  My guess is that he is more 4.3 on the field and that is a difficult job for those hamstrings to endure.  I think Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants training staff will get this hamstring thing figured out and that his reliability level may start to work its way up to his talent level in the near future.

Keenan Allen: SEP Rating – 97

Keenan Allen is somewhat of a sleeper on this list but that may be a good thing for you.  The item that pops out for Allen to me, is that despite being a modest size of 211 lbs, he only ran a 4.71 40 yard dash.  In essence, Allen is a possession receiver who relies mostly on skill.  He falls in my Supremely Skilled group and you will find that these are generally the most reliable players you will find.  Allen has a few missed games over the past few years and had a collarbone injury last year.  His modest measurable’s and tendency to not hang around the middle of the field should keep on the field as the Chargers number one option.

T.Y. Hilton: SEP Rating – 96

When it comes to T.Y. Hilton I say get him while he is hot.  Although he ranks fairly high on this list right now, I would not be picking him up in dynasty leagues as a long-term option.  Hilton weighs in at 178 lbs and is tied with DeSean Jackson for the lightest receiver in the league.  When I noticed this, I realized that Hilton and Jackson are almost like twins aside from the 3 year age advantage that Hilton has.  Same weight, same 40 time, Similar stats.  Remember that these reliability ratings are a year to year assessment and with a small frame like both Hilton and Jackson have, the hits may add up and lead to a few missed games.  But for now T.Y. Hilton has no real injuries to speak of although he is on concussion protocol now, and you should be able to get his upside as a center piece number 2 receiver on your team.

Dez Bryant: SEP Rating – 93

Dez Bryant has proved to be a gamer over the years as despite a few injuries over the years, he is always in uniform on game day.  Dez is moving into veteran territory as he hits 27 years old this season.  Although Dez may start showing the effects of a hamstring strain or ankle injury here or there as he ages, he is still a good option as your number one receiver.  Furthermore the Cowboys seem committed to running the ball which should preserve  Dez Bryant to simply make big plays and avoid the excessive hits that wide receivers that do not have a reliable running game are sometimes forced to take.

Antonio Brown: SEP Rating – 92

Antonio Brown falls a little lower on this list for good reason. Browns 133 touches last year was more than 20 touches greater than any wide receiver in the league.  Brown does get down the field a lot but he also takes a lot of short stuff in which he may encounter ends and linebackers that pack a bigger hit than the corners and safeties down field.  In PPR leagues, he is untouchable and this rating should not affect his value.  However in standard leagues I would be mindful that a 186 lb receiver with that many touches who does not really dominate in the end zone may be more risk than reward as an absolute number one pick.  With that said, Brown is only averaging 1 missed game per year and currently has no injuries to mention.  If you really want to get ahead of the game you may want to look at Antonio Brown Jr a.k.a. Brandon Cooks as he offers many of the same positives in a younger more reliable package.

A.J. Green: SEP Rating – 92

A.J. Green surprised me a bit to be on the top half of this list as it seemed like he was out for a while last year with that turf toe injury but in actuality Green has only missed 3 games over the past 3 years.  I have my reservations on A.J. Green for other reasons, but from a reliability standpoint he is showing to be a bit more reliable than a few receivers that are his age and younger.  The benefit that comes with Green is that he is generally going to stay on the outside rather than running those over the middle routes which allows his 207 lb frame to take very few big hits.

Demaryius Thomas: SEP Rating – 91

Demaryius Thomas seems to still be a quiet but dominate receiver despite his Freaky Talented size and speed.  At 229 lbs and running a sub 4.4 40 yard dash, the only human that can even compare to Thomas is Calvin Johnson.  Being that Johnson rates as 6 points less reliable, I think picking between the two should be easy.  Thomas could probably even be a little higher on this list if he did not have the second most touches for receivers last year.  I expect his touches to go down with Kubiak as his head coach but his production may still be elite.  With no games missed since 2011, Demaryius Thomas is a safe number one to build any fantasy team around.

 

NUMBER ONE OPTION BELOW SEP RATING OF 90

Randall Cobb: SEP Rating – 88

Aaron Rodgers new number one is already off to a shaky start with an AC sprain.  He should recover and be ready to play but if they try to change his role to compensate for Jordy Nelson, I do not think he will last long.  Cobb is already at higher risk as a slot who very often takes short passes and the many hits that go with them.  Cobb has missed 11 games over the past 3 years as a clear 2nd option, and without someone stepping up to take the attention from him, there may be more big hits coming his way.

Julio Jones: SEP Rating – 87

This one will burst a lot of people’s bubble as I am hearing about Julio Jones in the first round almost everywhere.  It’s hard to disagree with, considering the talent level.  My problem is that Julio Jones is Freaky Talented and with an average of 4 games missed per year over the past 3 years, his body is showing me that it can not tolerate the talent that he is pushing out.  Jones is not as big as Megatron or D. Thomas at 220 lbs but like them him he is sub 4.4 40 yard dash.  Despite missing one game last year, Julio still managed to have the 4th most touches for receivers.  Based on what I am hearing about the new offense that Kyle Shanahan will bring, Julio will likely get even more touches.  At 26 years old you would think that Julio is in his prime and could withstand the volume, but these numbers do not lie, and as his volume goes up so will his risk for injury.  All I can say is be careful.  Jones most definitely has the talent, the offense, and the quarterback to support building your team around him, but if he misses his usual 4 games how will you fill that Julio size gap on your roster?

Jimmy Graham: SEP Rating – 86

You may not have known it until now, but I did include tight ends with the receivers as truthfully they are not worth making a separate algorithm for.  Jimmy Graham is not the highest rated tight end, but he is the first big time tight end on this list.  The tight ends ranged from an SEP rating of 97 down to 73, so Graham rates fairly decent for TE reliability.  Overall the position does not match favorably with the wide receivers as most are going to the middle of the field and being hit by linebackers and safeties who have running starts.  Graham could almost pass for a wide receiver during his time with the Saints, but make no mistake he is not one.  Jimmy Graham is older than most think at 28 years old and he could be the poster child for Freaky Talented tight ends as he ran 4.56 40 yard dash at 265 lbs.  I think picking him or Gronk as your first tight end is the obvious plan if you can execute it, but don’t lose your mind and center your team around either.  At the end of the day they don’t produce as much as number one wide receivers and are at a higher risk to miss games based on the nature of the position.

Calvin Johnson: SEP Rating – 85

Word on the street is that Calvin Johnson may have some lower extremity issues that simply will not go away.  I have always considered Johnson King of the Freaky Talented group and while that title comes with some lofty stats in the prime of his career, it also comes with a steep drop off as the talent over rides the body.  I am afraid that Megatron has already seen his mountain top and is on his way down.  I am not saying that he won’t get you a lot of fantasy points on the way down from that mountain, but you may want to temper how high you pick him at this stage of his career.  Johnson has only missed 5 games in the past 3 years but he has played in a few games in which he was simply a less than 100%  decoy.  At 29 years old, Calvin Johnson is not exactly MJ on the Washington Wizards, but I think late in the year is when we start to see him transform into a different type of player.

Jordy Nelson: SEP Rating – 85

Not much to say as Jordy Nelson’s season is already over.  I am sure he will return next year and play at a semi high level, but I think many of us should wave good-bye forever to the 2014 Jordy Nelson as we will not see that guy again.

Rob Gronkowski: SEP Rating – 83

Rob Gronkowski is likely to be most people number one wish at tight end but with 15 games missed over the past 3 years, he is another player that I would be careful where I draft.  Gronk is definitely a physical beast and although not as Freaky Talented as his only true competition from a talent standpoint–Jimmy Graham, he is a Freak in his own right.  As long as you take Gronk or Graham at the right spot, there are no worries.  The take home message is that these tight ends who seem to put up receiver numbers are not as reliable as real wide receivers and should not be regarded as true center pieces.

Greg Olsen: SEP Rating – 83

The targets that are coming Greg Olsen’s way with the subtraction of Kelvin Benjamin is going to push him up a bunch of draft boards.  Olsen shows a great track record of playing through injuries with no games missed  over the past 3 years, but playing through hurt and injuries gets more and more difficult as you get older.  At 30 years old, Olsen’s body may be ready to rest some of those injuries and not play through them.  When you add in Cam Newton who seems to think all of his receivers are seven-foot tall as he throws everything high, we may be in for a banged up Olsen.  With more targets comes more risk.  Now we all want the targets, but look for Olsen to tap out at some point in the season if it turns into the Cam and Greg show every week.

Brandon Marshall: SEP Rating – 83

Brandon Marshall is probably on the tail end of being a number one receiver at 31 years old.  He has shown some toughness over the past few years as he has played through injuries.  Marshall has only missed an average of one game per year over the past few years.  The problem is that a player who is playing through an injury, gives fantasy owners too much of a headache.  If I remember correctly Marshall burnt a few of us last year when he hobbled through a game to score multiple touchdowns, but then followed that performance with goose eggs.  A hurt or injured player is bad for business in fantasy football and unfortunately this is what I expect Marshall to be on a team where he is by far the most proven go to weapon.

Jeremy Maclin: SEP Rating – 82

I would always hold my breath when Maclin got hit while he was with the Eagles as he always seemed to get up hurt.  Many of those times he ended up fine but he was notorious for the Allen Iverson face, always wincing in pain.  Aside from missing a year with an ACL, Jeremy Maclin has been pretty consistent suiting up week to week.  As hard as Maclin may be to trust not to get hurt or injured, he may be hard to pass up as a WR2 as Andy Reid is sure to target him heavily every single week.  In a PPR league, I think that Maclin is definitely worth the risk, but don’t be surprised if his 198 lb frame can not take the pounding of being a number one receiver that is expected to run every route.  If Andy Reid decides to use Maclin as more of a deep threat and outside the hash guy, it may help Jeremy Maclin’s stay on the field as a quality fantasy WR2.

Click here to see the complete list of SEP Reliability Ratings for wide receivers and tight ends and check out the SEP Reliability Ratings for every position at TheInjuryReportDoctor.com.

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS!

December 4, 2014

With most either getting ready or already in playoff mode, I thought I would cover some of the injuries that may literally make or break your season.  Here are some of the key injuries to take note of, as well as what you can expect:

rashad jennings

Rashad Jennings is suffering from an ankle injury from this past weeks loss vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.  This is one of the biggest injuries for league play and one day players as Jennings was in line to face the awful run defense of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have been a running backs dream this season and I think that Jennings will unfortunately miss out.  Initially the injury was said to not be serious but Jennings was quoted as not being able to put enough weight on his foot when it first happen.  These details likely suggest that he is dealing with a simple grade 1 or 2 low ankle sprain.  Although this may not be a serious injury, it will still need to go through the phases of healing.  Like most ankle injuries, this will limit Jennings ability to cut and plant on that foot and should take 1-3 weeks of rest and treatment to heal.  My guess is that Jennings is currently dealing with a swollen ankle that gives him pain if not supported significantly.  The training staff should be focused on getting the swelling and pain under control and we may see him give it a go with a heavy tape job, but I would need to see him practice at least on Friday to have any faith.  If you are in a league, a Friday practice and good reports may allow you to start him, but for one day fantasy it would be impossible to pay that premium price for damaged goods (wish they would adjust the prices mid-week). Unfortunately those who were licking their chops for this matchup will either have to trust Andre Williams,  his back up, to still light up this poor run defense or look elsewhere for a quality running back.  I would give Jennings until week 15 if it were my line up; after all it’s not like the Giants are in the playoff hunt and that he will pull out all the stops to get on the field.  For league players, I would just pick up Williams.  For one day players, there are other backs to consider near his price point (Eddie Lacy and Joique Bell are my picks for now).

Alshon Jeffrey’s injured hamstring is likely on many people’s minds.  If I had to pick my least favorite injury for one of my fantasy players to have it would be either a groin strain or a hamstring strain.  I despise these injuries mostly because they are the lingering type.  In many cases with a hamstring strain, a player will seem to come along well, may be practicing again, and be generally pointing in the right direction; and with one simple stride that player will do what all fantasy owners dread seeing–abruptly slow up and grab the back of their leg in pain.  Many of the other injuries are easy to predict, but a hamstring strain can feel like rolling the dice.  The good news is that Jeffrey appears to have been struggling with hamstring issues as early as week 3 of the season and has now been dealing with it for the past 2-3 weeks, and during that time his production has been good.

The infamous hamstring pull or strain is generally a result of one or more of the hamstring muscles stretching to forcefully or quickly.  This can happen for a number of reasons, but I believe that in many cases these athletes are simply too fast for their own bodies.  This may be the case for Jeffries as he clocks in at a 4.48 with his 40 yard dash; and for a receiver standing 6’3″ and 216lbs that may almost slot him in the “Freaky Talented” column (although my verdict is still out on that).  During the process of running, these athletes can sometimes just simply be thrusting their legs into extension (a straight knee position) too fast, and when this is combined with any contraction of the hamstring; the athlete will typically experience a strain or even a tear of the muscle fibers.

Additionally, some individuals simply suffer from muscle imbalances.  Despite state of the art facilities and the top strength and conditioning professionals in the country, some athletes are still disproportioned.  With respect to hamstring injuries, the culprit would be extremely strong quadriceps (thigh muscles on the front) combined with slightly less strong hamstring muscles (thigh muscles on the back).  While in full speed action, if both sides are acting at their max capacities, the quadriceps can over power the hamstrings and in the process injure the hamstrings.

These are all things Alshon Jeffrey and his team should examine in the offseason to reduce his chances of repetitive hamstring issues next year, but for now I would expect Jeffries to play.  Despite him playing, I would not play him on my fantasy team regardless of the upside he may possess .  As I stated before, you are one stride away from that moment of him grabbing the back of his leg and ending your fantasy season.  Combine that with the fact that he has to share with Brandon Marshall and the fact that Jay Cutler can not be trusted and I would simply look elsewhere for nearly all formats.

T.Y. Hilton was also limited on Wednesday with a reported hamstring injury.  The timing of this being a Wednesday injury is the most troublesome factor to me as a T.Y. Hilton owner.  Hamstring strain recovery feeds off of time to recover, and with a mid-week starting point, Hilton may be feeling some restrictions on Sunday.  Additionally, Hilton is definitely in the “Freaky Talented” column based off his 4.34 speed alone.  With his game being primarily based on his speed, a hamstring injury may bump Hilton’s stock down significantly.  The Indianapolis Colts also have to leave the comfort of their temperature and surface controlled dome to go to Cleveland.  As hard as it may be for a league player (I know as I own T.Y. in my league), this is a week I would have already considered sitting Hilton but any signs of a hamstring issue beyond Thursday would reserve a spot on the bench for T.Y. Hilton on my team.  The good news is that wide receiver would have to be the deepest position in fantasy right now and you should be able to find a good matchup this week for league play (I have the luxury of Randall Cobb, Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans as my other wideouts…..ha ha).  One day players should not even consider Hilton an option.

DeSean Jackson has a lower leg contusion.  Those who are familiar with me know that a contusion is just a fancy word for a bruise.  Jackson may take a little time to manage any pain or swelling associated with the injury but he should be a full go.  His presence is a domino effect for any offensive Washington player you may have.  He opens up Jordan Reed who should continue to be a PPR monster, he allows Colt McCoy to likely put up 20 + for his 3rd straight time as a starter, and he gives Alfred Morris a chance to run in a box that would not dare stack 8 with Jackson as the deep threat.  I am not sure DeSean would be my guy at receiver but in one-day PPR play, I think Reed and McCoy hold good value due to his presence.  Use the information as you see fit, but expect him to be ready to go.

Dwayne Allen is back after suffering an ankle sprain.  I think he took the perfect amount of time off as an ankle sprain generally is a 1-3 week injury, and he took the 3.  I expect Allen to be effective, and with my expectations for T.Y. Hilton being low, you may find Allen to be a low-cost/high reward option especially in one day play.  Coby Fleener is the obvious buzz kill for those who own Allen in traditional leagues, but simply stated–Dwayne Allen is a better football player than Coby Fleener (for now).  That may be unpopular to the highlight watchers of the recent weeks, but most who really pay attention know this to be true.  So in this spot, I would roll with Allen and expect things to slowly return to normal in which Allen is the obvious TE1 on the Indianapolis Colts.

How about some defense?  They say defense wins championships and this can be true in fantasy football too.  Aqib Talib has the hamstring bug too.  Talib will have about 2 weeks off from game action by the time the Denver Broncos face the Buffalo Bills, but I would watch out for him having some difficulty.  I especially think he will have difficulty if he somehow get matched up with Robert Woods.  If he covers Sammy Watkins as expected, their injuries may cancel each other out as they are both banged up.  Denver got away with missing their #1 corner vs. the Kansas City Chiefs as the Chiefs have no wide receivers, but I am not so sure they will fair as well without Talib against a respectable wide receiver duo.  Owners of the Denver D/ST should pay attention and look for a good matchup this week instead of using a defense that may be without a true #1 cornerback, as I think I have cemented how I feel about depending on players with hamstring strains.

The other cornerback that may cause a fantasy domino effect is Vontae Davis who is coming off a concussion last week.  I will eventually talk about concussion a little more in-depth, but one of my simple rules is to not trust a player to play at their best the week following a concussion.  There is complicated evidence out there that correlates concussions with poor performance, but my stance is more from a common sense point of view.  Concussion cloud the brain and typically take the player out of their normal routine.  I believe that many of the players in positions in which studying the opponent is key, will suffer the most, shortly after a concussion.  I especially worry about defensive players who need to read and react to the offense and as the corner that makes that defense go, Vontae not being at full capacity may spell disaster in Cleveland.  I think the Davis concussion takes the Colts out of the starting D/ST conversation as I believe he is the single most important person on their defense.  I also think his injury bumps Josh Gordon stock up. Gordon already has a QB in Brian Hoyer with something to prove and he gets what may be a shoot out vs. Andrew Luck.  When you add in a recovering Vontae Davis, I think Gordon will be lighting up the scoreboard this week.  If one day players can get lucky enough for Davis to not play, I think Hoyer and Gordon could be the value play of the week.

Quick notes:

Reggie Bush- You can’t trust him.  He’s been out too long with this ankle injury.  Maybe during the regular season you could take a chance but at playoff time he is too much of a gamble.  He made our running backs running out of time earlier this season and is fully living up to the injury prone status that I predicted.

 

bush in new orleansbush in miamibush in detroit

Greg Olsen –The proof is in the pudding.  Make sure he gets back to practice before believing that his swollen knee is not a problem.  With tight end being such a tough position to fill, I think if he practices he should start in all league play.  As a one day option, he would be way down my list.

Larry Fitzgerald- He should be back this week but watch his practice pattern.  If he misses any practices, I would  throw up a red flag for a set back.

Andre Ellington-He needs to rest and heal!  Unfortunately his owners will have to scramble to find a RB1 that can get them through a playoff run.  You better start matchup hunting.

Good Luck!

Week 5-Doubtul, Questionable, and Probable (DQP) players

Here is how we see this weeks big injuries playing out.  No need to list the players who are ruled out as we already know they won’t play.  Let’s take a look at the DQP players, so you can hit the waiver wire or your bench for a winning line up.

Probable

brandon marshall

Brandon Marshall (Start him with confidence)

Marshall has been playing with an injured ankle since hurting it in week 1.  Although he gets out there and plays every week and I expect him to do the same this week, he has grossly been a decoy or non factor.  Even with a 3 TD performance in week 2 at San Francisco, he only had 48 yards.  His skill set does allow him to play with this injury as he can still be productive without the quickness and cuts that his ankle is likely limiting him with.  With that said, keep in mind that it has been 3 weeks since his injury and most mild ankle sprains are mostly healed within that time or less.  Marshall likely could have improved faster by taking some time off, but I expect him to be closer to his normal self this week and put up normal Brandon Marshall numbers against a tough Carolina defense that has had a few hiccups this year.  No bubble screens or crisp route running is likely just yet, but I see no reason why Marshalls’ ankle won’t allow him to post up in the end zone and score.  I would start him with confidence.

Jamal Charles (The 49ers defense is a bigger factor than his ankle sprain at this point)

Charles bounced back pretty quickly from his high ankle sprain to light The Patriots up.  I see no reason why he is not physically able to perform this week with the exception of The San Francisco 49ers.  There is the likelihood that he still has some lingering swelling and pain, but based on his performance last week and the fact that he will be 3 weeks out, I think Charles is back to business as usual.

Questionable

teddy-bridgewater-target-blunder
Check out the questionable spelling at a local store. I guess Teddy will have to win a few more games so they will spell his name correctly.

Teddy Bridgewater (Get him ready for week 6 at home vs. the Lions)

The Vikings should not play him and nor should you.  After an exciting week for Minnesota fans and those who had Bridgewater in the stash for fantasy, everyone is probably a little over excited about a rookie QB that lit up a sub par defense who had no pro film on him.  With what appears to be a mild eversion sprain or maybe a mild high ankle sprain, I don’t see any way Bridgewater gets on the field in a productive way on Thursday night.  Furthermore the Green Bay weather forecast calls for rain which compromises his footing.  All signs point to sitting Teddy for a week and preserving the excitement that he earned in week 4.  So regardless of what Zimmer and the Vikings do, you should not risk a start on Bridgewater and should plan for another QB to be in your line up.

Carson Palmer (over/under for remaining time in Carson Palmers career is 4 months-never start him.  Take Denver defense if Palmer steps on the field)

Palmer is listed as questionable but I would have put him as doubtful.  Those who read my recent story on Palmer know that I do not have high hopes for Palmer when/if he comes back.  With the nerve injury in his throwing shoulder now causing him to see a second specialist confirms my initial fears that this is the beginning of the end for Palmer.  As a general rule of thumb, players don’t seek a second opinion for injuries that are doing well.  I doubt anyone plans to start him at Denver, but just in case…..DON’T.  The smarter bet is probably betting on Denver to cover if Palmer is in the lineup.  I don’t expect Palmer to throw well at all if he is on the field and a Palmer start elevates the Denver Broncos Defense to a start in my opinion.

Vernon Davis (Sit him if you can)

We predicted that Vernon Davis would play against Philly and also predicted that he would not play well.  Although this small example does not make me right (yet), but I also predicted that Davis is near The Redzone stage of his career and likely to decline rapidly.  I feel like this week will be a continuation of last week.  It is likely that his ankle is still not fully healed and that his knee also still has pain. As simple as it sounds, the song is true–“the knee bones connected to the thigh bone….the thigh bones connected to the hip bone…. the hip bones connected to the back bone…. All of these injuries become somewhat related and with Davis now suffering from 3 injured areas, other body parts will pick up the slack.  In the case of Davis, I believe a hit triggered the back spasms he is currently suffering from, but I also believe his back was primed for this by him trying to play on an injury, which caused him to compensate by putting more work on his back as well as other body parts.  I would stay away from Davis for a week or 2 if possible, although productive TE’s are tough to find.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he sat this one out or left the game one more injury richer.

Jake Locker (SIt him, start the Browns Defense)

In week 3 we predicted it would be 2-3 weeks before Locker would be effective.  Nothing has changed since then and the prediction is still that his first productive week will be week 6 when the Titans host the Jaguars.  I don’t know if this is really a sleeper play with all the negative pub that Charlie Whitehurst has received, but The Browns Defense may be a good sleeper play here as no matter who plays, the Titans will be fielding an ineffective QB.

Doubtful

There are no key players listed as doubtful so for this week my doubtful is The entire Atlanta Falcons team.  They are very banged up  and are holding open tryout for various positions (just kidding).  I would stay away from them all, if possible for fantasy, and expect the Giants to cover easily at home.