This shortsighted pundit whiffed on recommending the reserve replacing Ryan Mallett and throwing for 312 yards and two scores while the Green Bay Packers quarterback coughed up his first, second and third turnovers of the season.
Also, what were you thinking playing Rob Gronkowski at tight end instead of Jacob Tamme? Welcome to fantasy football, where every drop, penalty, missed call, injury or sheer randomness can mitigate days of meticulous research.
Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots ($5,800)
Dion Lewis isn’t going anywhere.
After trolling fantasy gamers for years with his revolving running-back carousel, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick decided to sneak a stud under their skeptical noses. Through four games, the 25-year-old has compiled 418 total yards and three touchdowns on 59 touches.
Anyone who paid $3,000 for his Week 1 services were delighted to see him churn out 16 DraftKings points. While he hasn’t since received double-digit handoffs due to LeGarrette Blount’s return, he has registered more fantasy points in every other contest.
He’s not merely capitalizing on his situation; he’s showcasing serious skills. The former Philadelphia Eagles castaway circumvented a swarm of Dallas Cowboys defenders to find the end zone on Sunday.
Lewis is one of four running backs (Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and Jamaal Charles) scoring more than 20 DraftKings points per game. After letting contestants steal him at a discount for weeks, the site finally hiked his price up from $4,800 to $5,800. No longer an immense bargain, Lewis is still usable against the Indianapolis Colts.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington ($3,600)
Scrambling for offense without DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed, Washington has found an intriguing slot receiver in Jamison Crowder.
Nearly invisible during the opening weeks, the rookie wideout has rendered incremental gains over the past three contests, capped off by a strong showing against the Atlanta Falcons.
Per the team’s official Twitter page, head coach Jay Gruden praised the 22-year-old’s development:
To compartmentalize his 14.2 DraftKings points averaged over the past three weeks, that clip matches the season rate of Kendall Wright, who costs $5,300 heading into Week 6. Crowder remains hidden down the catalog at $3,600.
He’s still searching for his first touchdown in an offense more inclined to feed Alfred Morris and Matt Jones than a 5’8″ wideout in the red zone. Don’t expect an incoming touchdown barrage, but his workload sustains his value in DraftKings‘ point-per-reception (PPR) system, especially at such a low price.
A difficult opponent in the New York Jets actually plays right into his hand. According to Football Outsiders, Gang Green has relinquished 96.7 yards to receivers other than the No. 1 and No. 2 wideouts. With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie shadowing the sidelines, Kirk Cousins will frequently seek out Crowder from the slot.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals ($4,900)
Tyler Eifert continued his climb up the tight-end hierarchy with his second two-touchdown game this season. Pairing those scores with eight catches and 90 yards, his 29 DraftKings points placed second at the position behind Gary Barnidge.
On the season, only Rob Gronkowski has manufactured more fantasy production. Eifert also ranks second behind the Patriots superstar in Pro Football Focus’ grading:
Travis Kelce, initially on a path to realizing his mini-Gronk potential, hasn’t scored a touchdown since his two-score Week 1. Away from the New Orleans Saints, Jimmy Graham is no longer Jimmy Graham. Eifert, who could easily have six scores instead of the position-high five if not for a controversial call, has the inside track headlining the pecking order after Gronkowski.
His breakout should continue against the Buffalo Bills, who rank No. 27 in DraftKings points allowed to tight ends.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos ($6,600)
Worrying about Peyton Manning is no longer an overreaction, but the only rational response to the legend’s cavernous fall from grace.
In another Denver Broncos victory subsidized by their defense, the 39-year-old quarterback tossed 266 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions on 35 pass attempts. His 8.64 DraftKings points mark his second single-digit tally of the season.
Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick and Kirk Cousins have all averaged more fantasy points per contest. SportsCenter‘s Twitter page shared a harrowing insight on Manning’s alarming touchdown-to-interception ratio:
His 6.53 yards per pass attempt is also the lowest rate since his rookie campaign. Having thrown at least 26 touchdowns in all 16 seasons of his storied career, Manning is on pace to accumulate a career-low 19 while falling below 4,000 yards for the first time since 2005.
This isn’t the same superstar. Regression will happen after undergoing neck surgery and admitting to not having any feeling in his fingertips. It may seem like sacrilege for nine quarterbacks—including his brother—to cost more, but even his $6,600 tag is a generous recognition of his past.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions ($4,000)
If first impressions meant everything, Ameer “Barry Sanders” Abdullah would have met and sauntered past the lofty preseason hype. Onlookers salivated when the rookie running back opened his career with a 24-yard touchdown run on his first touch, but it turns out that old saying about first impressions is actually hogwash.
Since the opening week, Abdullah has compiled 130 yards through four games. He reached a new low on Sunday, gaining 27 yards while fumbling two of his seven touches. As a result of his butterfingers, Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick split the Detroit Lions’ late backfield duties against the Arizona Cardinals.
According to Pro Football Focus, Abdullah and Riddick—used almost exclusively as a pass-catcher—have each played 134 snaps this season. On Sunday, however, the rookie finished with 15 while Zenner logged 31. In Detroit’s defense, the rookie hasn’t done anything to earn a full-time gig, recording a robust 3.3 yards per carry.
“Anytime you put the ball on the ground, obviously, your chances of being able to play for us consistently are going to be minimized,” head coach Jim Caldwell told MLive.com’s Justin Rogers after the Week 5’s 41-17 loss.
Football’s only winless team might as well keep pushing its talented rookie, but it’s looking more and more likely that nobody survives a disjointed timeshare to produce consistently.
Note: All pricing and scoring information obtained from DraftKings.com.
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