- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Let’s answer some questions.

Russell Wilson or Mark Sanchez?

Wilson is a Super Bowl winner who has become a better quarterback than any of us could have imagined, while Sanchez is best known for The Butt Fumble. But we’re talking fantasy here, so …

Wilson’s status as a fantasy starter has always been more tenuous than the other top signal-callers because he gets fewer opportunities. Until recently, he has had an uncanny knack for making the most of those, but after throwing multiple touchdowns in five of the first six games, he has thrown just one total in the past three.

He continues to add value with his running (a season-high 14 carries and a score last week), but that’s not enough when a quarterback is not consistently throwing touchdowns. Cam Newton is the perfect example.

With the Seahawks’ relative struggles on defense, the team has re-committed itself to running the offense through Marshawn Lynch, who scored four touchdowns last week while Wilson threw two interceptions. As good as Wilson can be, the Seahawks are better off right now when he’s not the focal point of the offense. He’s still capable of big games, but he’s not in the best spot to put up QB1 numbers.

Sanchez, on the other hand, is. The Eagles’ offense doesn’t exactly run through him, but Chip Kelly’s system is so efficient that it produces plenty of opportunities for the quarterback.

In his first start since he was with the Jets in 2012, Sanchez threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns in a win Monday night. Granted, the Panthers are terrible, but Sanchez delivered one of the better performances of his career with the spotlight squarely upon him. That bodes well moving forward.

Sanchez has some good matchups over the next seven weeks, and while he’s liable to put up a stinker or two, he has the perfect opportunity to finally put The Butt Fumble behind him.

Is Mark Ingram for real?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that it likely won’t matter much longer.

Ingram ran during the preseason like the player everyone expected when the Heisman Trophy winner came out of Alabama. He has shown the same explosiveness the past three games, averaging 27 carries, exceeding 100 yards in each and scoring three total touchdowns.

But as fantasy owners know, no one ruins a good running back thing like Sean Payton. The man loves the running back-by-committee approach more than New Orleanians love po boys. That means that as soon as Khiry Robinson returns from injury, he will cut into Ingram’s workload. Ingram should remain a viable option as an RB2 because the Saints like to run near the goal line, but his days as an RB1 are numbered.

Which rookie wide receiver will have the best second half?

There are no shortage of options this year. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin leads the class in receiving yards (659) and TDs (seven); New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks has the most receptions (48); Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans have put up all-around numbers befitting their status as the top two receivers taken; and the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. is among a group making a strong push to join The Big Four.

Benjamin’s last two touchdowns were the epitome of garbage scores during Monday night’s blowout loss, but they all count the same in fantasy. The bigger concern is that Newton is neither healthy nor very good right now. That is likely going to affect Benjamin’s numbers.

Cooks has had two of his better games in the past three weeks, but he has yet to record a 100-yard game. He’s a good flex play most weeks in a PPR format, but unlike Benjamin he has plenty of competition for receptions and a quarterback willing and able to spread the ball around.

In between dealing with nagging injuries, Watkins has shown flashes of superstardom. His recent back-to-back performances against the Vikings and Jets (a combined 12 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns) showed what he is capable of. But then he turned around and had four catches for 27 yards last week. That marked the sixth time Watkins has caught four or fewer passes in a game.

In contrast, Evans has caught at least four passes in every game he’s played, and he has put up his two best games in the past two weeks. Against the Browns and Falcons, he caught seven passes in each game for a combined 249 yards and three scores. That he put up nearly identical stat lines with two different quarterbacks is a great sign. Another thing working in Evans’ favor is that he has a receiver opposite him, Vincent Jackson, who is good enough to draw coverage away but not so good as to limit opportunities to make plays. The other factor is that the Bucs are awful and find themselves playing from behind — and thus throwing — a lot.

The two wild cards for a breakout second half are Beckham and Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant. The latter has six touchdowns on 14 receptions, but that is primarily a consequence of Ben Roethlisberger‘s ridiculous two-game, 12-TD stretch. I would have found the end zone in those games. Bryant did have an 80-yard score late in last week’s loss to the Jets, but he still has to prove his recent outburst wasn’t a fluke.

Like Bryant, Beckham didn’t see the field for much of the first half. But he has helped fill the void in recent weeks after Victor Cruz was lost for the year with a knee injury. He caught two touchdowns in Week 8 against the Cowboys and he recorded 100-yard games in each of the past two weeks (264 total yards on 20 catches).

Watkins has the most upside and Benjamin the least competition, but Evans and Beckham are in the best position to continue their success in the second half.

Week 10 Lineup Crime: In my main league, I had my best week of the year and lost by 52.

Week 11 Lineup Time: If Kyle Rudolph returns for the Vikings, he’s a must-play against a bad Bears defense whose biggest weakness is covering the middle of the field. … With the Browns due to take a step back and the Texans starting a new quarterback, I like both defenses as spot plays. … Matt Ryan should be the latest quarterback to excel against the Panthers. … How about a big game from Pierre Garcon against the Bucs? It’s been too long. … It’s all set up for the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde to have a breakout game against the Giants, who gave up 350 rushing yards last week.

• Matt Pallister can be reached at mpallister@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide