One of the most frustrating fantasy situations is Drew Brees and his wide receiver corps. It seems like every week there is a new player who comes up big for New Orleans. The question for fantasy owners is which Saints receiver can be trusted?
Going into the 2017 season, Michael Thomas was looking to continue his red hot career with Drew Brees. He hasn’t quite performed like the WR1 people drafted him as. Coming off of his bye week, Thomas struggled against a good Lions secondary but bounced back against the Packers this week.
It seems that every week we see Michael Thomas with at least five receptions for 80 yards. A model of consistency that most owners would like to see out of their wide receivers, just not their number one. There was some hope that Thomas would blossom into a full-time WR1 with multiple weeks of eight points, 14 points, and 14 points again.
The touchdowns are what’s key for Michael Thomas. If he can be consistently targeted in the red zone and come away with more touchdowns, then we can see more double digit games from the Saints stud.
Ted Ginn Jr.
If you played Ted Ginn Jr. in week seven against the Packers, then you got a steal. One of the most frustrating fantasy players has had back to back double digit weeks and is turning into a big target for Drew Brees. Unlike Michael Thomas, Ginn has come off of the bye week playing better than he has all season.
Now when I say that he is a frustrating fantasy player, it’s just because he has been inconsistent so far this season putting up three double digit weeks and three weeks of five points or lower. Owners can never tell if they need to put him in their lineup but he should be owned in every league for sure.
It seems like we can only depend on matchups for Ginn Jr. from here on out. With Michael Thomas drawing most of the coverage from opposing secondaries, it allows Ginn to find gaps in the defense and breakaway for long receptions. From now on if that matchup proves to be good for the Saints, and you need to fill someone in due to bye weeks, play Ginn Jr. and hope for a big game.
Brandon Coleman is the least likely out of the Saints wide receiver trio to be put in your fantasy lineup. I’d like to put Willie Snead on this list but because of the time he’s missed, I’m going to have to defer to Brandon Coleman.
Coleman, like Ted Ginn Jr., has been inconsistent throughout this season. We’ve seen him have big weeks with nine, seven and 14 points, but he has also put together three lackluster performances with one, two and three points.
Now that Willie Snead has made his return, in future weeks he should be on every team and is a viable fantasy option under Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. But Coleman has been a threat in the red zone in the first seven weeks. As a matter of fact, three out of his 12 receptions have ended up as touchdowns.
Basically with Brandon Coleman, it’s boom or bust. If he can find a way to score a touchdown, then he’s valuable, but we haven’t seen enough of that to promote starting him in fantasy lineups.
It’s tough to decide which receiver to play if you have all three but to play it safe, Michael Thomas is the best, and most consistent receiver on that team and should get our team the most points out of all the Saints wide receivers.
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Week two for the quarterback position could be characterized as a return to normalcy. We saw the usual suspects at the top of the scoring charts like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Derek Carr. However, players like Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz were able to perform on par with or better than those previously mentioned. Will any of these players will wind up on the quarterback edition of my week three DFS don’ts?
Drew Brees: FanDuel Price $8,400
Drew Brees is almost matchup proof. Last year he produced even against the most elite pass defenses like Denver and Seattle. However, he played those games at home in the confines of the Superdome. This Sunday, Brees plays at Carolina in a pivotal division game.
One year of data does not constitute a trend. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it. Brees had a staunch difference in production against the Panthers in 2016 depending on where he played. I’m not saying this is exactly what will happen this year, but Brees is not playing with the same team.
Brees will play against the fifth ranked defense in terms of DVOA. You can read more about DOVA here, but it’s a stat that evaluates how good a team or player is relative to the NFL average. Currently, the Panthers are 42 percent better than the average NFL defense, and is ranked by Football Outsiders as the second best defense.
Apart from playing on the road against a great defense, Brees will be less equipped to produce than in his past matchups. Why’s that? Well, last year he had Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead at his disposal. This Sunday, he’ll only have Michael Thomas. He’ll also enter the game with one of the least efficient running attacks in the NFL. They currently rank 26th in total rushing and only have 38 rushing attempts in two games.
As much as it pains me to say, I’m not willing to pay $8,400 for Drew Brees given this week’s matchup. Let’s hope his placement on my week three DFS don’ts will be his only time this season.
Russell Wilson: FanDuel Price $7,800
Can Russell Wilson overcome his terrible offensive line to keep the Seahawks from falling to 1-2? (Courtesy of; SI.com)
I feel so bad for Russell Wilson. His franchise is failing him the same way the Colts are failing Andrew Luck. They continue to devote resources away from their offensive line, and now they are paying for it. Seattle is currently tied for 20th in sacks allowed.
This offensive line is so incompetent that they allowed the 49ers to stay competitive in last Sunday’s game. Sadly, I don’t think the Seahawks offense will be able to sustain drives and give their defense ample time to recover between drives.
They will inevitably have multiple three and outs, and that will force the Seattle defense to get pounded by DeMarco Murray or Derrick Henry. This will force the offense to abandon the run, and force Wilson to continue to run for his life.
I hope the Seahawks find a way to correct their pitiful offensive line play. I love stacking Wilson with Doug Baldwin in my DFS lineups. But until further notice, I can’t take that chance. Wilson and company are firmly on my week three DFS don’ts.
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Wide receivers and tight ends are tough positions to evaluate in the NFL. Over the years, top-level quarterback play has turned guys like Austin Collie, Deion Branch, Jacob Tamme and Willie Snead into solid pass-catching targets.
It is pretty rare to find a guy who is productive in every situation he is put in. However, this offseason has seen three players who fit that bill change teams. If healthy, they could help their new teams get to the next level.
Brandon Marshall, New York Giants
This is possibly the most impactful move of the entire offseason. In terms of raw talent, Marshall is one of the best of his era. He was a victim of the Jets’ dysfunction last year and posted an underwhelming 59 catches.
Prior to last year, he had just one full season as a starter with under 80 catches. Even at age 33, anyone who can make plays like the ones featured below on the NFL YouTube channel less than two years ago has a lot left in the tank.
The Giants are a perfect fit for Marshall. A quarterback like Eli Manning and young talent like Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram should be plenty to keep the occasionally temperamental Marshall motivated. These factors also mean he has a chance at two things he has never seen before: single coverage and the playoffs.
Eric Decker, Tennessee Titans
Here we have another escapee from the barren wasteland that is the New York Jets. Decker missed all but three games last year due to a shoulder injury. Before that, he had become one of the most consistent pass-catchers around. This included hauling in 44 balls on the Tim Tebow-led Broncos that were allergic to throwing the ball.
He also tallied 87 catches from Peyton Manning in 2013 and 80 from Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015. Those numbers in those situations say a lot. You will be hard pressed to find a more versatile pass catcher.
Bringing in such a reliable target was very wise of the Titans. Young quarterback Marcus Mariota is completing only about 61 percent of his throws and still trying to figure out how to be a consistently accurate NFL passer. When that is the case, you can never have enough guys like Decker around. Lastly, he is an above average blocker who should slide right into Tennessee’s run heavy offense and be a big help.
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
Free agent signings are almost as rare as unicorns in Green Bay, but this is a great one.
Aaron Rodgers has not had all that many physically imposing receiving targets over the years. However, he got a taste of it last year with Jared Cook and is no doubt happy with this replacement.
Bennett is on a streak of 50-plus catch seasons that dates back to 2012. He has never been the top guy in an offense, but he is someone that always needs to be accounted for.
Adding him to an offense that already has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb among others will make that difficult for defenses. At well over 6-feet tall, he can run like a wide receiver and is matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs alike.
Make no mistake, the entire Packers organization is well aware of what Bennett did for Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Patriots last year, averaging 13 yards a catch and grabbing seven touchdowns. His addition to the Packers significantly strengthens their already realistic chances of doing what New England did last year.
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This class of wide receivers is deeper than it has been in years for fantasy football. You can win your league with two stud running backs in the first round and take one of these wide receivers as your number one, so pay attention to this list if you’re going to take two running backs.
40. Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers): In 2015, when Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury, the demand for Randall Cobb was high. He was the No. 1 wide receiver on a high-powered Packers offense, but he didn’t live up to expectations.
He followed up his disappointing 2015 season with an even more disappointing 2016 season. Cobb had 610 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and less catches per game last season than any season since 2014.
Mike McCarthy wants Cobb to get more involved in the Packers’ offense, but with a healthy Jordy Nelson, an emerging Davante Adams and a recently acquired Martellus Bennett, targets are going to be hard to come by. Don’t draft Cobb too early, but if the price is right take him.
39. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore Ravens): The Chiefs made the surprising move to cut Maclin this offseason. He ended up signing with the Ravens on a two-year deal. Jeremy Maclin had a disappointing season with the Chiefs but is in line for a lot of targets this season with Baltimore.
After losing their core of receivers and recently losing tight end Dennis Pitta, Jeremy Maclin is the new No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. He’s playing with a reliable (and elite, debate that in the comments if you must) quarterback in Joe Flacco, but there are some things that make Maclin unreliable.
He ranked in the bottom half of production and efficiency last season and has dealt with his fair share of injuries. He ranked 62nd in receptions and 69th in receiving yards. I have high hopes for Maclin given his current situation in Baltimore, as he has a chance to regain his No. 1 wide receiver status.
38. Pierre Garçon (San Francisco 49ers): Pierre Garçon had a bounceback season with the Washington Redskins last year. Quietly, he was one of the most productive receivers in the league last season. He ranked 16th in the league in receiving yards with 1,041 and 17th in receptions with 79. He’s now joining a revamped 49ers team led by quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Not only was Garçon one of the most productive receivers, he ranked in the top half in efficiency. Pierre Garçon was the 13th-ranked receiver in terms of yards per target and that number can increase during Garçon’s tenure in San Francisco.
All in all, I didn’t agree with his choice to leave Washington, but I do think Garçon will surprise people and keep up his production next season.
37. Devante Parker (Miami Dolphins): The long awaited breakout of Devante Parker came last season, kinda. Parker had a nice year, with 744 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He has drawn criticism from head coach Adam Gase and hasn’t fully emerged as the big receiver everyone thought he would be.
Standing at 6-foot-3, Parker should be catching more touchdowns than he did. He had only seven end zone targets which ended up as four touchdowns, which is weak for his size and role in the offense.
With Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry on the Dolphins’ roster, there’s limited space for targets for Parker. He needs to emerge as a big end zone threat to make some noise in fantasy this season.
36. Eric Decker (Tennessee Titans): I don’t think Decker would make this list if he was still on the Jets. Riddled by injuries last season, Eric Decker never got the chance to do anything noteworthy for the Jets. But in 2015, we saw the Eric Decker that we expected. He was one of the most productive receivers in the league ranking in the top half in categories such as receptions, receiving yards, total touchdowns and fantasy points per game.
Now he heads to Tennessee to play alongside Demarco Murray and Marcus Mariota. The up-and-coming Titans offense has their new No. 1 receiver and Decker has the opportunity to regain his status from 2016.
35. Willie Snead (New Orleans Saints): Willie Snead has found success early in his career in the NFL. Snead has eclipsed 850 yards and 65 receptions in both of his seasons in the NFL so far. Playing with elite quarterback Drew Brees, Snead was the number 2/3 wide receiver for the Saints but now things have changed.
Brandin Cooks is gone but the emergence of Michael Thomas has put Snead as the No. 2 receiver. Snead won’t flash anything special in terms of efficiency and production, but one thing he is, is reliable. His reliability is what makes him so intriguing, as he’s a lock to gain 900 yards and five touchdowns. Take him as a No. 2 receiver or flex and love the numbers.
34. Desean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Another old face in a new place. Desean Jackson almost played a full season last year and was as explosive as ever. Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for Kirk Cousins and has the opportunity to be even better this year.
Most likely lining up in the slot and returning punts, Jackson has big play ability written all over him. Playing with Mike Evans and Jameis Winston, the new look Bucs have a high-powered offense and a lot of potential.
When healthy, Jackson can put up big yardage, but the only issue with him is he won’t have the touchdowns that the stud wide outs will have.
33. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in a good situation with the New York Giants. He is the No. 2 wide receiver behind the top tier, two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning.
Last season didn’t go as planned for Brandon Marshall but he’s a big bodied, reliable receiver with something left in the tank. The Giants pass on 62 percent of their plays and Marshall has the opportunity as the No. 2 receiver to see tons of targets and big plays in the red zone. The Giants weren’t great in the red zone last season, as they were successful on 51 percent of their plays, but Marshall will help in that category. Expect double digit touchdowns from Marshall this year.
32. Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers): Everyone is down on Kelvin Benjamin this season and I don’t know why. He missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL, and didn’t quite rebound like everyone thought he would. He still had 941 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers were only slightly worse than his impressive 2014 rookie campaign. Keep in mind that the entire Panthers offense was out of sync last season.
Now the revamped offensive line and a healthy Cam Newton makes KB an intriguing fantasy player this year. Still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina, Kelvin is a monster and has the opportunity to be a stud this year.
31. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings): Diggs broke out as the No. 1 receiver for Minnesota last season. He had 903 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Stefon Diggs ranked in the top 15 players in the league in terms of receptions with 84 and fantasy points per game with 13.
The Vikings did a lot to revamp their offense by bolstering the offensive line and adding rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Teddy Bridgewater won’t be under center for the Vikings this season, as he recovers form his a knee injury. Diggs won’t have double digit touchdowns due to a lack of looks in the red zone, but 1,000 yards is very possible as he is a clear WR2.
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It’s the middle of July, so it’s time to really dive into the world of fantasy football. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you a healthy dose of fantasy football knowledge. To start, I’ll provide you with the most safe picks you can make at each position in order to steer your team to a championship.
If you’re not into sky diving, alligator wrestling, or giving cats baths, this article is for you. Here’s five safe bets quarterbacks who’ll be quality starters this season.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers should be the number one quarterback on your draft board this season. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scored the seventh-most points among quarterbacks last season, which is already great. Rodgers didn’t even get to enjoy the services of Jordy Nelson last season, who missed the entire year after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Nelson finished with 230 points in 2014, good for second among wide receivers.
The Packers didn’t even have a great wideout last season. Their leading point scorer was James Jones (141 points), who isn’t even on an NFL roster right now. Randall Cobb was right behind Jones, scoring 130 points last season. Rodgers didn’t get to throw to an elite receiver, or even a great one at that.
I say all that to say this: Aaron Rodgers was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and he did it without an elite receiver. Of the six passers to score more than Rodgers last season, all of them had at least one player who scored in the top 12 of receivers last season.
Here’s the complete breakdown:
Greg Olsen (#5 TE)
Rob Gronkowski (#1 TE), Jullian Edelman (on pace to be#7 WR)
Doug Baldwin (#7 WR)
Allen Robinson (#4), Allen Hurns (#14)
Larry Fitzgerald (#11), John Brown (#21)
Bradin Cooks (#12)[/su_table]
Aaron Rodgers has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since he became a starter in 2008. Rodgers hasn’t finished worse than third in points among quarterbacks since 2008, other than last season. He’s chalked up two first place finishes, coupled with two second place finishes.
Draft Rodgers this season, and don’t worry about drafting another quarterback until the double digit rounds. The UC-Berkeley alum stays healthy, and will get Jordy Nelson back this season, so don’t be surprised to see him finish in first among quarterbacks this season.
2. Cam Newton
Cam Newton scored the most fantasy points of all players in fantasy football last season. Just like Rodgers, Newton gets one of his favorite targets back after missing all of 2015. Kelvin Benjamin returns this season, and like the aforementioned Nelson, missed 2015 due to a torn ACL.
In 2014, Kelvin Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards. He was 11 catches away from Greg Olsen’s team leading 84 catches, and tied Olsen’s mark for most receiving yards. Benjamin also led the team in receiving touchdowns, snagging 9. With Benjamin back, Newton has a chance to have two top-15 pass catchers at their positions. Benjamin is just 25 years of age, and is about to enter the prime of his career. It will also be just his second full season in the league.
Alongside Benjamin and Olsen are Tedd Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and Devin Funchess. Ginn’s rather ho-hum career was recharged last season. The Ohio State product was the ringleader of the wide receivers, pulling in 44 throws for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ginn is 31, so he may still have a few more productive seasons in him. Regardless, the speedster still should produce enough to help Newton be more than serviceable this season.
Another Ohio State alum who’ll continue to improve his young career is Corey “Philly” Brown. Brown caught 31 balls for 447 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown is just hitting his stride in his NFL career, and will be a deep-threat slot receiver for Newton this season.
Wedged in between two OSU alums is Michigan standout Devin Funchess. Many fantasy experts are waiting for Funchess to quit spinning his wheels and gain traction in the NFL, but it hasn’t happened yet. With 473 yards on 31 catches and 5 touchdowns last season, Funchess was widely known as a fantasy sleeper last season. Instead, Ginn took his projected role. Funchess is still a pretty good option for Newton, who is really becoming accustomed to not-so-new faces in Carolina.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben will be one less headache for your team this season. (Photo: Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
Ben Roethlisberger would’ve finished as the fifth-best quarterback last season had he played all 16 games last season according to projections.
Let’s marvel at all the toys Ben gets to play with. Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Ladarius Green, will all catch passes from Big Ben this season. Roethlisberger has the best weapons in the league, paving way for a monster season for the bruising quarterback.
Roethlisberger threw for less than 250 yards just twice in the entire season in 2015. Six times he threw for 350 yards or more, and also had a game with 349 yards. The Miami (OH) product is just keeps on keepin’ on, and so long as he stays healthy, enjoy his services.
4. Drew Brees
If you’re looking for a player with consistency like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees is your guy. Since 2004, Brees’ worst season was finishing as the ninth-best quarterback(!). He did that twice, in his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Since then, Brees has finished in the top-five in every season except two, when he finished sixth in 2010 and 2015.
To add to Brees’ allure, he’ll get to throw to one of the most respected rookies from other players’ standpoint in the league. Michael Thomas was the Saints’ second-round pick, and the first of two Buckeyes to be drafted onto the roster (Vonn Bell). Thomas will be a huge red zone target for Brees, and has great hands. Thomas has gotten knocked due to his inability to showcase a large catching radius, but every rookie has some kind of kink to work out.
Rave reviews aren’t few and far between for Thomas. The highest of praise came from Saints in-house reporter Sean Kelley, who said Thomas is “going to be a star”. He went on to say that Thomas will easily take the number three spot on the depth chart, and that he could even push Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks.
5. Russell Wilson
In 2012, the first season after Tony Romo got married, Romo had the best season of his career. On July 6 of this year, Russell Wilson tied the knot. People say history repeats itself, so I project big things for Russell Wilson. All humor aside, let’s get to the undeniable stats.
Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has been in the top-ten in scoring each season. He’s improved each season in points, shooting all the way up to second last season. Wilson’s exact finishes are shown below.
To make a better case for Wilson, he gets one of the best tight ends in the league back this season. Jimmy Graham started slow last season prior to his gruesome knee injury that ended his season. However, three of his best four games took place in the second half of his season.
In addition, Wilson may be passing the ball more frequently with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch this offseason. Thomas Rawls was great in Lynch’s absence in 2015, but it’s not certain whether or not the running game will be as steady as last season. Pro Football Focus gives Seattle the worst offensive line grade in the entire league after the 2015 season. Wilson is a great passer when on the run, and it’s easier to throw with a mobile quarterback than run with a terrible line.
Disclaimer: Tom Brady is not included in this list due to his four-game suspension. I refuse to expose this issue more than it already has, so I’ll make this quick. Brady will miss 25 percent of the season, meaning 25 percent less points. Had Brady missed 25 percent of the season last season, he would’ve been the 18th highest scoring quarterback. If you think he still deserves to be on this list, I respectfully and strongly disagree.
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