Andre Ellington: No Longer a Viable Fantasy Option

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Ellington averaged only 3.3 yards-per-carry and rushed for just 3 touchdowns last season

Returning from a plethora of injuries that required a hernia surgery during the offseason, Cardinals 3rd year running back, Andre Ellington, will try to prove his potential as the game’s next great dual-threat weapon. The 26-year-old registered an impressive 46 receptions for nearly 400 yards receiving in twelve games last season.

However, fantasy owners should be wary of the running back situation in Arizona, which could prove to be a battle between Ellington and rookie David Johnson out of Northern Iowa, who boasted explosive speed and strength with his 6’1, 225 pound frame. Johnson is a viable threat to steal not only red zone touches, but could severely eat into Ellington’s playing time. In dealing with his injury issues, Ellington’s yards-per-carry and yards-per-reception fell drastically during the 2014 season—most notably, his YPC plummeted from 5.5 to 3.3.

Fantasy owners can hope that the RB situation in Arizona will mirror that of the Cincinnati Bengals, whose run game was bolstered by the one-two punch of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill, both solid options that rewarded fantasy owners last year. However, Ellington is on the wrong side on such a projection; David Johnson, in every capacity, has the potential to be a solid number one for the Cardinals during the upcoming season.

It’s likely that Ellington and Johnson will share the workload for the first few games of the season. However, with his health problems and relatively small size, the odds are against Ellington to solidify his position as the starting back. Ellington is likely to become more of a change-of-pace back, severely limiting any long-term fantasy appeal.

 

Chargers Ladarius Green Gets Shot at Limelight

Ladarius Green must elevate his game to keep his job once Gates returns

Ladarius Green must elevate his game to keep a share of the pie once Gates returns

Chargers tight end Ladarius Green has the tools to be a huge impact player, but must hit the ground running and gain the trust of his quarterback, Philip Rivers. With Gates out of the picture with a four game suspension, Green is the clear cut starting tight end and must pick up where Gates left off. Green stands at 6’6, 240 pounds and has stunning speed for such a big man. If Rivers stays true to form and relies heavily on his tight end, Green will present a mismatch nightmare for defenses during the upcoming season.

Although he has not seen a ton of action on the field, Green was still able to contribute. On 53 targets, Green hauled in 36 catches for 602 yards, finding the end zone 3 times during the past two seasons. Sitting behind Antonio Gates has paid off for Ladarius and he nows gets his shot to be the team’s difference maker.

With Gates gone, Rivers needs an outlet receiver that he can count on. San Diego signed Stevie Johnson from the Bills to play on the outside with Keenan Allen. This should really open up the middle for Green. Even though Gates is slotted to return around Week 5, Green has the potential to be a top 10 tight end during the beginning of the season.

MLB Week 13 – Waiver Wire Report

The cast is off and Wil Myers has real late season value

The cast is off and Wil Myers should provide real late season value

Wil Myers- San Diego Padres

I know what you’re thinking. Wil Myers is injured and is definitely on the DL, but his cast is off and he should back in about a month. And more importantly, he is a fantastic keeper in dynasty leagues. His value will only continue to increase in the coming years. If Myers is available in your league (which he is in nearly 50%) It only makes sense to grab Myers and stow him away on your bench. He can be a key piece for fantasy teams heading into the playoffs.

Steven Souza Jr.- Tampa Bay Rays

Souza Jr. (involved in the same trade as Myers this offseason) is also available in 50% of leagues. Coming up on the halfway point, he hasn’t played as well as expected. But that should also change, for the better. His batting average is low, but the 14 home runs warrant enough value for a spot on your roster this year. And, more importantly, he again has great keeper value for the future. Nearing the All Star break, he would be a great addition to your team.

Ivan Nova- New York Yankees

Nova is still only owned in 28% of leagues. That is miraculous. Nova has pitched well so far since returning from Tommy John surgery. He has certainly pitched well enough to deserve a spot on your roster. He may fly under the rally, but he could be the key to your playoff push. A solid middle of the rotation arm is often the difference, and Nova is just that.

Bolts Rookie RB Melvin Gordon is the Real Deal

Melvin Gordon

With Melvin Gordon, the Bolts get an every down back who is NFL-Ready

San Diego’s Melvin Gordon is the most NFL ready rookie running back from the class of 2015. The Wisconsin product boasts the coveted combination of opportunity and talent that fantasy owners love to find in first-year players. Gordon has the stature, speed and pass-catching ability to be an every down back and is sitting at the top of the Bolts’ depth chart.

The Chargers traded up to select Gordon with the number 15 pick in the NFL draft in effort to revive the run game and lure veteran QB, Philip Rivers, to stay with the team. Rivers is in the final year of his contract, but may want to sign an extension and stick around to see the development of an offensive juggernaut.

Gordon set all kinds of milestones at Wisconsin. MG set school records with 12 100-yard games and six 200-yard games. He briefly held the FBS single-game rushing record with 408 yards against Nebraska. Gordon currently sits at the No. 2 spot for most single-season rushing yards in FBS history with 2,587 yards (Barry Sanders is No. 1 with 2,628).

NFL scouts have compared Gordon to the likes of Jamaal Charles. Gordon’s ability to make a cut and burst through a single hole for a big play is what will make him stand out in the NFL. Gordon’s pass catching is not as elite as Charles but it has improved enough heading into Chargers’ camp.

Danny Woodhead will return from injury in 2015 and likely see his role expanded to what it once was. On third and long, it’s a no-brainer Woodhead will be on the field. However, expect all of the early-down work to be gobbled up by Gordon. Donald Brown and Branden Oliver provide no threat to Gordon’s usage.

Finally, the most important factor is health. Gordon played in every game his junior and senior year at Wisconsin. Todd Gurley, who was selected five spots ahead of Gordon, was hampered by an ankle injury in 2013 and had 2014 cut short due to a torn ACL. Gurley is still recovering from the knee injury and won’t be available for the start of the season. That doesn’t just make Gordon the safer option heading into 2015, but the better option moving forward for his lack of injury history and time spent currently practicing with teammates.

The time spent in OTA’s and minicamp, on the field, and getting reps, is invaluable for rookies. Gordon will be more than prepared come time September and ready to make a case for Rookie Offensive Player of the Year.

ESPN rankings currently have Gordon as the No. 17 back behind Alfred Morris, Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde. Gordon has the potential to leap frog all three of them and many other backs by time season end. Gordon is the full package and a legitimate RB2; therefore, he should be drafted as one.

 

Avoid Carolina Rookie Receiver Devin Funchess

Devin Funchess is a big target, but lacks good hands and speed

Devin Funchess is a huge target, but lacks good hands and quickness

At 6-foot-four and 230-plus pounds, Carolina wide receiver Devin Funchess might be on some fantasy radars, but he’s not really a player you want to burn a draft pick on. He might be a big target, but his production at the University of Michigan wasn’t anything to write home about.

After being drafted by Carolina, Funchess went on to impress the Carolina staff during OTA’s earlier this year. During the NFL combine, Funchess ran a non-impressive 4.7 time for his forty-yard dash, but would manage to shave off two-tenths of a second during his pro day showing.

At this point, Funchess is more of a fantasy liability than a fantasy asset. He’s talking the talk, boasting of future success, but that should fall on deaf ears for fantasy owners. If Funchess somehow catches fire later in the season, then snag him off of the waiver wire.

Funchess is still likely to start on the opposite side of Kelvin Benjamin at the number 2 receiver spot. As he towers over defenders, he still needs to work on his hands and his movement after the catch.

Carolina quarterback, Cam Newton, is certainly not the most accurate quarterback in the NFL. This will be a problem for Funchess who was not known for fighting for the ball in college. The only saving grace for the rookie is that defenses will be forced to key in on Benjamin, which may give Funchess some open looks.

Tampa WR Mike Evans – No Sure Thing

Mike Evans will have to suffer through Winston's growing pains

Mike Evans will have to suffer through Winston’s growing pains

Tampa Bay wideout Mike Evans doesn’t get the same attention as Odell Beckham Jr., but with 12 touchdowns and more than a 1,000 yards receiving, he more than made his mark during his rookie 2014 season.

After a first half start, Evans exploded during weeks 9-11 for 458 yards and five touchdowns. After that impressive run, Evans’ production dwindled and he wasn’t slow to point the blame elsewhere.

“The quarterback would just look me off, and then I’d be dead,” Evans told USA Today sports reporter Tom Pelissero. “And I didn’t understand, because I always think I’m open. Just throw that thing up.”

There’s no doubt that at 6-foot-5 and 230-pounds, any jump ball will have a good chance to land in Evans’ hands. Luckily for Evans, the 2015 number one overall pick, Jameis Winston, has no problem throwing it up to big receivers. During Winston’s undefeated 2013 campaign, the quarterback threw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns. That year, his teammate was the 6-foot-5, 240-pound, Kelvin Benjamin, who was responsible for a thousand of those yards and 15 touchdowns.

As if that’s not exciting enough for the outlook on Evan’s future, offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter just recently moved from Atlanta to Tampa. Koetter is responsible for reviving the Falcons offense last season and generating success with Julio Jones. Evans should be the number one receiver for the Buccaneers and Koetter will look to get him the ball early and often.

However, fantasy owners should be cautious, Evans will have a rookie quarterback throwing the ball and there will be growing pains. The ceiling for Evans and all Buccaneers wide receivers is obviously linked to how long it takes Winston to adjust to the next level.

Too Much Fantasy Fanfare for Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray has a little too much buzz going into the fantasy draft season

Despite what the experts say, it’s far too early to crown Raiders running back Latavius Murray as the breakout fantasy player for the upcoming 2015 season. Murray had a grand total of ONE good game last season and he’s playing for an Oakland squad that finished the season with a rushing attack that ranked DEAD-LAST in the league.

Plagued by injuries last season, Murray registered 82 rushing attempts for 424 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And most of those totals came from Oakland’s Week 12 win against the Chiefs where Murray ran for two scores and 112 yards on only four carries.

Apparently that one game, coupled with the retirement of Maurice Jones-Drew and the departure of Darren McFadden, has convinced the fantasy community that Murray is going to be a stud during the upcoming season.

While I agree he may indeed be the starting back for the Raiders and easily beat out Trent Richardson for the starting job, he’s still playing on a team that has done very little to improve its offensive line.

Even if Murray is the stud that everyone imagines him to be, he’s going to get pounded by opposing defenders on a weekly basis. Couple that with his injury issues, and you could very well have a running back that may spend more time recovering from injury than playing for your fantasy team. It’s not that Murray is a terrible selection, but he’s far too risky to burn up an early fantasy draft pick coming into a new season.

Injury Woes Persist for Odell Beckham Jr.

No one wants to say it, but Odell Beckham Jr. may just be injury prone

No one wants to say it, but Odell Beckham Jr. may be injury prone

Despite missing the majority of the preseason and the first four games of the regular season, Odell Beckham Jr. was a man among boys during his introduction to the NFL last year. His speed, talent and swagger didn’t just earn him Rookie of the Year honors, but also a spot on the Madden 16 cover.

Now it’s time to follow up on a fabulous first year, but Beckham’s health concerns are already shooting up some red flags very similar to last season. As opposed to Beckham’s left hamstring, which he tweaked last spring, he’s now struggling with an injured right hamstring. Last season’s injury proved to be more than a “tweak” costing him the first quarter of the season. Now all eyes are on Beckham to evaluate how serious this new injury is.

“Whatever the medical people tell me is what I do,” Tom Coughlin told New Jersey reporter, Jordan Raanan. “If he could go, he’d be out there.”

There’s little need to push any receiver in June, but this injury should bring up a lot of questions and concerns. Will OBJ miss the start of the season again? Will a hamstring injury hinder his entire career? Is this the effect of the Madden Curse?

The problem right now is, there is no good answer to any of those questions. Hamstring injuries tend to linger, resurface, and reoccur. If Beckham’s right hamstring does flare up, you can almost guarantee that the Giants will move very slowly with his rehab, even if he has to miss regular season games.

Right now, OBJ isn’t a big gamble, but a gamble nonetheless. Rolling the dice on him is banking on his lower extremities holding up, barring any other injuries as well. If Beckham Jr. can put together a full season, he’ll put up the numbers of an elite receiver and live up to all the hype.

Will Superman Ever Return To Carolina?

Superman lost his shine with fantasy owners last season

Superman lost his shine with fantasy owners last season

Fantasy owners who took a shot with Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton are still feeling the pain a year later. He was a buy-low quarterback last year and turned into an absolute bust leaving owners scrambling for a viable quarterback.

Newton was banged up from the start of the season and being in car accident half way through the year didn’t help either. Despite an abysmal record, Carolina actually won the the NFC South for the second year in a row and Cam Newton even found his Superman form (Kind of) towards the end of the season.

Which Cam Newton will we see going into 2015? On paper, Carolina’s receiving core has significantly improved since last season. Kelvin Benjamin should build off of his impressive rookie year; Carolina acquired Ted Ginn Jr. during the off-season and drafted a big target in Devin Funchess out of Michigan. It looks like Superman will have more talent to throw to this year. If Newton can play the way he did towards the end of the 2014 season, his numbers should certainly improve from last season.

Carolina has become one of the better defensive teams in the NFL, and has bailed out Newton when he’s struggled. Newton should be healthy in this upcoming season, but his offensive line has not improved much since last year, where they struggled to keep him standing upright. Newton has also shown an alarming tendency to throw the ball way too high when he’s under any kind of pressure.

Fantasy owners need to be very cautious before drafting Newton. He’s a feast or famine fantasy option and only a very solid fantasy team can survive with him at the helm.

Falcons Rookie RB Tevin Coleman: Pure Electricity

Coleman

Tevin Coleman possesses pure breakaway speed, but lacks patience

Coming into the new season, no rookie ball handler should be more electrifying to watch than Tevin Coleman. Drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons, Coleman finds himself battling for touches. However, his lightning-quick speed should perch him atop the depth chart before season’s end.

Last year at Indiana, Coleman ran for 2,036 yards, only the third player in Big 10 history to do so. His breakaway speed meshed perfectly with the stretch-zone scheme utilized by the Hoosiers. This is the same set up new offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, plans to implement in Atlanta. This should translate into immediate success for the Atlanta offense and Coleman during his rookie campaign.

However, fantasy owners should keep in mind that Coleman is currently listed as second on the depth chart behind second-year back Devonta Freeman. Freeman was used sparingly during his rookie season recording 95 touches and two touchdowns. Freeman’s small frame (5-foot-8, 205-pounds) might make him a change-of-pace scat back, but there’s no questioning his superior pass-catching skills.

Coleman has the size and speed to be the workhorse out of the two, but his biggest knock is his lack of patience and vision.

“Coleman treats every carry like a sprint,” one NFL scout said. “He is a race car in the red.” That can attest to why half of Coleman’s 28 career rushing touchdowns were of 43-plus yards, including eight of 64-plus yards. However, run plays need time to develop, and timing miscues translate into loss of yardage.

For now, Coleman is worth a bench spot on any fantasy team. The opportunity is there for Coleman to become a starter before the regular season begins. Once Coleman develops patience, the starting gig is his, and he’ll set the league ablaze.