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Fantasy Spin: Faith In Nick Foles

Posted Oct 18, 2013

So, Nick Foles is starting and he was really good last week. What should my expectations be for this week?

Credit absolutely must go to Foles for his incredibly strong performance last week against the Bucs. While the Bucs aren’t a good team, their defense isn’t the reason that’s the case, as I highlighted in this column last week. Nonetheless, Foles totally picked them apart to the tune of 296 passing yards, with three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. In his short time with the Eagle offense this year, he’s now accounted for seven TDs (six passing, one rushing). He’s been efficient and effective, and that’s going to fly in Chip Kelly’s offense even if he isn’t a mobile guy. Foles also has yet to turn the ball over.

And it’s hard to ignore this matchup: Dallas has given up 26.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the last five weeks, third-most in the league. Oh yeah, the Cowboys are expected to be without DeMarcus Ware too. If you need a fill-in or upside option at quarterback, I’m now firmly a believer in Foles in this offense, which has put up over 400 yards from scrimmage in every game so far. In our rankings formula at FantasyGuru.com, Foles came out as the projected #13 quarterback for the week, with upside, ahead of guys like Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick and Ben Roethlisberger. For what it’s worth, Foles played pretty well in two games against Dallas last year too, going 44/66 passing for 470 yards with two touchdowns.

Is there something there with Riley Cooper?

Cooper had a career day playing in front of his family in Tampa last week, hauling in four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, and his effort showed up on film. While he’s clearly not a great athlete, he fought for extra yardage and got behind cornerback Johnthan Banks for a ball on his 47-yard touchdown. That said, we also have to take into account that Cooper had essentially been losing snaps in recent weeks because he had been struggling so badly with man coverage.

We expect he’ll see some this week, perhaps from the also-struggling Morris Claiborne. Cooper can make plays here and there because of the nature of this offense, but it’s really just impossible to know if he, Jason Avant, or even Jeff Maehl will be the favored secondary receiver on a week-to-week basis. He’s someone who’s much more important to the Eagle offense than to your fantasy teams, in other words. Let’s also not forget that the Eagles have been slowly increasing the snaps of Zach Ertz, rolling with more double-tight sets as the weeks go on.

What can you tell me about Cowboys running back Joseph Randle, and does he have any fantasy value?

Randle didn’t do much in relief of DeMarco Murray in Week 6, but he scored despite having only 11 carries for 17 yards. He also had 2/15 receiving on two targets, while playing 24 snaps, or 44 percent of their plays. Now, with Murray out at least a week with a knee sprain, Randle is the expected beneficiary of the Cowboys’ first-team work (Lance Dunbar remains injured and Phillip Tanner is the expected backup).

Before the Cowboys even drafted Randle, he reminded me of Murray as a physical downhill runner with underrated hands. He should fit the scheme well, at least, even if he isn’t as effective as Murray. He’s got a chance to make some plays, and I should point out that DeMarco Murray had also been eating up Tony Romo’s checkdowns. The Eagles are giving up 23.3 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs and nearly six catches per game to the position over the last five weeks, so Randle is an intriguing start behind this improving offensive line if you own Murray or need a fill-in this week. However, the Eagles certainly luck out by not having to go up against Murray.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

What’s going on with the Giants backfield? Is there anyone here worth owning?

Obviously, the Giants are one of the biggest disasters in the NFL right now. They’re 0-6, and basically anything that could go wrong for them has. Their backfield was sent for a loop even before the season when Andre Brown broke his leg in the meaningless fourth preseason game. Then, David Wilson fumbled twice in Week 1 and landed in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse, an incident that led to the Giants’ re-signing of Brandon Jacobs, who was completely ineffective before his ridiculous Lazarus act against a hapless Bears defense in Week 6.

Wilson’s now out about a month with a neck injury suffered against the Eagles, and the Giants have added Peyton Hillis to the fold, after releasing Da’Rel Scott… twice. Whew. Still following? Here’s the short answer to this fantasy question: I am avoiding this backfield in any way that doesn’t involve stashing Brown or Wilson for later in the season. I am not and never was a Jacobs believer, and if you managed to benefit from his ridiculous Week 6, sell high before people figure out it was a fluke.

I think the Giants will give a shot to Brown once he returns from short-term IR, perhaps after their Week 10 bye. It’s possible at that point that both Brown and Wilson could be back in the fold, so don’t expect anything more than a flex option at best from any of these guys.

Who are some injured players I should consider picking up off of waivers?

Well, I just wrote about Andre Brown but that Giants backfield is such a ridiculous mess that it’s only a desperation stash-and-hope if you want to make a move for him. But the guy I’m really looking at right now is Percy Harvin. I pushed him last week as someone to consider, but it’s official that the time is now to go get him. Both Harvin and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll have been talking up his progress in his return from hip surgery in recent weeks, and this week NFL Network reported that there’s a non-zero chance Harvin actually plays in Week 8. The Seahawks need him as he’s an impact player at a position where they lack one, and it’s obvious that quarterback Russell Wilson is the real deal. Will Harvin have huge numbers? I doubt it. But we know he has the potential for them.

WAIVER WIRE PICKUPS

Nick Foles, Eagles – This goes without saying, but the quarterback of any offense capable of putting up 400 yards in any given week must be owned in all leagues.

Harry Douglas, Falcons – Atlanta has lost Julio Jones for the year and will be without Roddy White this week. Douglas isn’t a stud, but someone needs to step up here.

Tim Wright, Buccaneers – Don’t fret, Eagles fans, it wasn’t just the Eagle defense that led to Wright’s breakout last week. He’s a tall, athletic tight end who can play anywhere in the formation, and the Bucs have been begging for a #3 target to step up behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.

Jarrett Boykin, Packers – Randall Cobb will miss at least six weeks of action, and James Jones is battling a minor knee sprain of his own. Boykin, a possession receiver with YAC ability, is next man up on the depth chart.

INJURIES TO WATCH

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Gronk (forearm) has been cleared to play this weekend against the Jets, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Matt Schaub, Texans – Schaub (leg) is out this week. University of Houston star Case Keenum will get the start.

C.J. Spiller, Bills – Spiller (ankle) is expected to play Sunday, and said this week that he’s getting healthier. But there has been speculation recently that the Bills may consider resting him one game.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Murray (knee) is not expected to play this week.

Roddy White, Falcons – White (ankle, hamstring) has never missed an NFL game until this Sunday.

James Jones, Packers – Jones (PCL sprain) looks like a game-time decision. With Randall Cobb (fibula) on short-term IR, this could mean more looks for Jarrett Boykin.

Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – Shorts (shoulder) was injured last week and is a game-time decision this week.

Shonn Greene, Titans – Greene (knee) hasn’t played since Week 1. However, when he gets back into action, he could start stealing carries from the largely ineffective Chris Johnson, especially in short-yardage situations.

START ‘EM

QB: Andrew Luck, Colts – Luck was hurt badly by dropped passes and ridiculously conservative play-calling last week against the Chargers, but he’ll have to put up numbers to keep pace with the guy he replaced, Peyton Mannning.

RB: Zac Stacy, Rams – I’m convinced Stacy can be the real deal. He’s a downhill runner with a fantastic center of gravity, and the Rams have been feeding him the ball. His rib injury isn’t serious.

WR: Antonio Brown, Steelers – A really underrated player, Brown is one of the most high-volume receivers in football, having caught a ridiculous 30 passes over his last three games, and the Baltimore secondary is beatable.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – He’s cleared, and the Pats need him. That’s all I need to know. I’m starting him.

SIT ‘EM

QB: Matt Ryan, Falcons – Ryan has been playing fantastic football this year, but he can only overcome so many losses at the skill positions. In addition to Julio Jones (IR), he could be without Roddy White this week.

RB: Brandon Jacobs, Giants – He went for 100 yards and 2 TDs last week against the Bears. Can it happen again? Here’s a hint: absolutely not.

WR: Anquan Boldin, 49ers – He was in this section last week, too. But I’m putting him here again because he’s been one of the easiest players to call in fantasy thus far. When faced with a tough individual matchup this year, Boldin hasn’t come through. He’s got one this week in Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner, one of the league’s best emerging corners.

TE: Greg Olsen, Panthers – He came up small in a good matchup last week and now he’s banged up.

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