For the first time in the 2016 fantasy football season, the Sauce results have brought us even for the season. This was the best week yet, going 6-2 in week nine and actually hitting on our Le'Veon Bell prediction. I won't gloat too much, because as the standings show, I've missed on as many as I've gotten right in our version of the bold predictions.
Jameis Winston, TB - 23/37, 261 yards, 3 TDs. ON FIRE
Dak Prescott, DAL - 21/27, 247 yards, 3 TDs, 4 carries for 20 yards. ON FIRE
Allen Robinson, JAC - 7 catches on 11 targets for 76 yards, 1 TD. ON FIRE
Eli Manning, NYG - 22/36 for 257 yards 4 TDs and 2 INTs. BURNED (But Eli, tried to Eli).
Derek Carr, OAK - 20/31 for 184 yards and 0 TDs. ON FIRED
Le'Veon Bell, PIT - 14 carries for 32 yards, 6 catches for 38 yards. ON FIRE
Jay Ajayi, MIA - 24 carries for 111 yards, 3 catches for 19 yards, and 1 TD. BURNED
Marvin Jones, DET - 1 reception on 5 targets for 5 yards. ON FIRE
[table id=104 /]
Week 10 Hot Sauce - The Starters
Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos @ New Orleans Saints
Yes, there are a lot of things not to like about Trevor Siemian's game. He doesn't have a big arm and gets rid of the ball before allowing plays to develop. What I do like about him is he's facing a New Orleans Saints defense that just allowed Colin Kaepernick to look like an All-Pro quarterback, throwing for nearly 400 yards.
Yes, you read that right.
If you're in need of a week 10 quarterback stream, Siemian can be your guy. Against Oakland in week nine, he threw for 283 yards and two scores. This week he'll surpass those totals in a shootout.
Flavorful Forecast: 350 yards, three touchdowns, one interception.
Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos @ New Orleans Saints
Devontae Booker was a hot commodity in dynasty league rookie drafts this season. Many even predicted that he would force the Denver Broncos running back situation into a committee at some point in the 2016 season.
With C.J. Anderson out, he is now the lead back in an offense that is tailor-made for his one-cut ability. The question at this point is; can he handle a full-time workload?
Against New Orleans in week 10, he answers that question.
The New Orleans Saints are middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed, allowing 108.5/game. They have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns in eight games, which is tied for the second most in the NFL. Start Booker in the Superdome.
Flavorful Forecast: 18 touches for 120 total yards and two touchdowns.
Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
Terrance West has been up and down the last several weeks. In a good week nine matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers (allowing 4.2 yards per carry), West was only able to manage 1.4 YPC on 15 attempts. That's in a game in which Baltimore led for much of the contest.
This week West and the Baltimore Ravens face the Cleveland Browns, a team that has given up the second most rushing yards in the NFL through nine weeks. The Browns have allowed 146.44 yards per game and 12 rushing touchdowns.
West will have to contend with rookie Kenneth Dixon for touches as Dixon is rumored to see more of the workload, but West should still get 15-plus touches in this contest.
Flavorful Forecast: 17 touches for 90 total yards and a touchdown.
J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers
This is a name most people may not be familiar with.
Coming into the 2016 season, J.J. Nelson was an afterthought in Arizona with a passing game featuring Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown.
Fitzgerald is still Fitzgerald, even at this age. With Floyd being ineffective, and Brown suffering from concussions and injuries for much of the season, Nelson has stepped up. In weeks seven and eight, Nelson was targeted 19 times and caught 11 passes for 163 yards, and two touchdowns.
In week nine, the San Francisco 49ers allowed over 300 yards passing and three touchdowns to Drew Brees & Co. The Cardinals likely won't have to air it out, but if they do, look for Nelson to have an impact.
Flavorful Forecast: Five catches for 85 yards, and one touchdown.
Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
Mike Wallace. What an enigma this guy has been throughout his career. He was stellar early on, when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then, and before arriving in Baltimore, he has been pretty average.
But Wallace has gone over 90 yards four times this season, including the last three games.
Cleveland is pretty bad on defense, and Wallace has been the biggest pass-catching threat Baltimore has to offer. He's worth a start this week in every format.
Flavorful Forecast: Four catches for 120 yards, and one touchdown.
Week 10 Weak Sauce - The Sitters
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins vs Minnesota Vikings
We've seen this show all year long... The Minnesota Vikings are really good on defense. They are also really good against the pass.
In week nine, they held Marvin Jones to one catch for five yards. That's really good. Only three times in 2016 have the Minnesota Vikings allowed a team to throw for more than 240 yards. On the season they've only allowed eight touchdown passes and are one of only four teams to have more interceptions than touchdowns allowed.
Kirk Cousins has been playing really well as of late, having thrown for 260 yards or more in four straight games. His last time out, Cousins threw for 458 yards and two touchdowns in an overtime game against the Cincinnati Bengals in London. While he has played well, he's still prone to throw interceptions. His TD:INT ratio this year is 12:7.
I look for Minnesota to rebound after their third straight loss and put an end to Cousins' statistical explosion.
Flavorless Forecast: 230 yards passing, one touchdown, two interceptions.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Giants
Jeremy Hill has been good in 2016. He has also been not so good. Against the New York Giants in week 10, I expect the not-so-good Jeremy Hill to show up.
The New York Giants are currently 8th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed with just 3.6 yards per carry. He hasn't been getting the majority of the work for the Bengals and I expect his yardage totals to be down this week.
Flavorless Forecast: 14 total touches for 48 yards and zero touchdowns.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots vs Seattle Seahawks
LeGarrette Blount leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns with nine. Even after a week off, he still leads the league in rushing touchdowns. He's been really good this year and the New England Patriots are actually using the running game this season.
Against Seattle in week 10, I wouldn't have such high hopes for him. The Seattle Seahawks have only allowed four rushing touchdowns in 2016 and allow 3.4 yards per carry.
Flavorless Forecast: 12 carries for 36 yards, zero touchdowns.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers vs Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are the only team in the NFL to not allow a 100-yard rusher or 100-yard receiver in any game in 2016. I see that trend continuing against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dallas' ball control style combined with their bend-but-don't-break defense is going to limit the Steelers' big-play ability, as well as the amount of plays they'll be able to run.
In week nine, the Baltimore Ravens essentially shut off Antonio Brown and made Ben Roethlisberger go to his other options.
If the Cowboys use a similar game plan, and with the possibility that Morris Claiborne isn't out as long as originally believed, the Dallas secondary could have its full compliment of talent available for this huge road game.
Flavorless Forecast: Four catches for 55 yards, zero touchdowns.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints vs Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are really good against the pass. If you've read this column, we've gone over that a ton. While the Oakland Raiders won the game, the Broncos were able to keep Derek Carr and the Oakland passing offense in check.
Oakland's top two targets -- Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree -- combined for only 83 yards on eight catches.
While New Orleans is a better passing offense, they've shifted their focus to a much more balanced offensive attack. The last couple of weeks they've been closer to a 50/50 rush/pass balance than anytime we've seen in the Sean Payton era (the Dallas effect). I expect them to employ more of the Oakland Raiders game plan against Denver and try to beat them on the ground.
Michael Thomas has been great in his rookie season and really stands out in the New Orleans Saints passing game, but I'd look for other options this week.
Flavorless Forecast: Four catches for 40 yards, and zero touchdowns.
Week 10 Waiver Wire Adds
Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos - QB Stream of the week. See above for further explanation.
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Denver Broncos - He got some runs against the Oakland Raiders, to the tune of 80 total yards and a touchdown. Has some explosive ability, though Booker is still the lead dog.
DuJuan Harris, RB, San Francisco 49ers - Though you may not want to start him this week against the Arizona Cardinals, he may be a good add and flex-play if Carlos Hyde's shoulder injury lingers.
Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills - 10 catches for 168 yards against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense. He's shifty and someone in Buffalo needs to catch the ball.
Eli Rogers, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers - With the Baltimore Ravens shutting off Antonio Brown, Rogers saw 10 targets in week nine and converted that into six catches for 106 yards. He may get similar opportunities against Dallas in week 10, though he will have a much more difficult time against Dallas' outstanding pair of slot corners, Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles - Finally!!! On the season, Ertz has 247 yards receiving. On Sunday he went for 97 of those yards. With all of the problems in the Eagles' wide receiver core, it doesn't make sense they would under-utilize Ertz. Many people have likely given up on him already so you should be able to snatch him up.
Is Dak Prescott a Player to Avoid in Fantasy Football in 2018?
For the Dallas Cowboys, the plan is to stick with Dak Prescott to hopefully turn him into a successful long-term franchise quarterback. Going into his third year in the league, this could be a season that defines his future on America's Team.
However, after the entire team struggled in 2017 while trying to overcome several key absences (including Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith), Prescott's level of play has been questioned by plenty around the league. Fans, analysts and writers everywhere aren't as sure as they were in 2016 about the quarterback's future.
And now, according to NFL.com, Fantasy Football players should beware of drafting Dak Prescott once their "friendly" (we all know they're anything but friendly) seasons begin.
Earlier this week, NFL.com Fantasy Editor Marcas Grant published an article telling us ten players to avoid for the 2018 Fantasy Football season. Perhaps it may come as a surprise to some that Dak Prescott is in there among names like Ty Montgomery and Jack Doyle. You can read his full article here.
To be honest, I see his point here.
It's more than fair to say that it's not going to be an easy year for Dak. He's got to prove a lot in a year that could have a juicy extension at the end of it. After going through a sort of an expected sophomore slump, Prescott's third year in the NFL should be his best one yet.
There's a big but, though. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are long gone, leaving Dak Prescott with a promising yet unproven set of pass catchers.
Will a dominant running game led by five great offensive linemen and Ezekiel Elliott be enough to help Dak and the rest of the offense? Probably. but how much will Prescott be able to accomplish?
Through a painful 9-7 season in which the Cowboys never seemed to be able to find a steady pace, #4's stats took a hit. Here are his numbers from his two years in the pros:
- 2016: 311 completions, 67.8% completion percentage, 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs.
- 2017: 308 completions, 62.9% completion percentage, 3,324 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs.
- He also ran for six touchdowns in each of his two seasons.
Per FantasyData.com, his fantasy points dropped from 286.88 in 2016 to 260.66 in 2017.
Despite his numbers dropping, Dak certainly took huge strides as a passer. From taking command of the offense as a captain to making throws he wouldn't make as a rookie, Prescott was able to demonstrate improvements during a rough sophomore slump.
Even with Dez gone, the receivers the front office brought in throughout the offseason are expected to be Dak-friendly. If the receiving corps actually make his strengths shine, the Cowboys' offense will take a huge step in 2018.
Maybe, as Jason Witten mentioned on Adam Schefter's Podcast, Dez is as good as anyone going up for the football. But that's not what will make Dak shine. This revamped WR room might be just what he needs, though.
At the end of the day, even though I truly believe he'll have a good career in the NFL and that he's the future of the Dallas Cowboys, I doubt he should be marked as an early target in the Fantasy Football world.
As of right now, from a Fantasy Football perspective, I would barely rank him as a Top 15 quarterback for many reasons.
First of all, the Cowboys' game will revolve around Ezekiel Elliott. Secondly, it doesn't matter how much faith we put into these pass catchers, they haven't proved anything yet.
Dak is not a bad player at all. But taking Prescott in the middle or even late rounds of a Fantasy Draft might be the safest way to go right now.
Lastly, I leave you with some "Fantasy Nuggets" from fellow Inside The Star writer and Fantasy Football Guru John Williams:
- Dak failed to score 10 standard format fantasy points only four times last season. He scored 15+ points nine times and 20+ six times in 2017.
- In 2017 - even with a down second half - he finished as the 13th best QB in points per game and as the tenth best in total QB scoring.
- In 2016, he was in the top 10 in both categories mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- His ability to run and score touchdowns on the ground easily make him one of the best 12 QB options for fantasy football.
Fantasy Football Implications of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension
Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for 6 games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. This will leave a void in the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys and on many fantasy football rosters around the world. As it is with the real league, it's a next man up philosophy in the world of fantasy football as well.
At the moment, that next man up is Darren McFadden.
Just two years ago, with Dallas still clinging to playoff hopes in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He finished fifth in the NFL that season despite not seeing more than 10 carries a game until week six. From week 6 until the end of the season, McFadden had 7 games with more than 90 yards rushing.
McFadden's touchdown total from that season leaves a lot to be desired, but let's not forget the quarterbacking chaos that went on that season. Between Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore, defenses weren't worried about being beat in the passing game.
Frankly, it's a miracle that McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards.
Over 11 games from weeks 6-17, McFadden averaged 21.45 touches per game and 108.27 total yards per game. At that pace, stretched over a 16 game season, McFadden would have totaled 1,732 yards, which would have led all running backs in total yards that season.
If you still have to draft, I would take a chance on McFadden around the 7th or 8th round in 10 or 12 team drafts.
As for Alfred Morris, he will get some touches as much as the Dallas Cowboys will look to run the ball. That being said the second half of 2016 showed who the coaches preferred as the backup.
The last time Morris ran for more than 1,000 yards was in 2014. In 2015, if you'll remember, he lost his job to Matt Jones who has since lost his job to UDFA Rob Kelley, who is starting but is being threatened by 2017 draft pick Samaje Perine.
When Morris played last year he was pretty ineffective averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
With McFadden's injury history, you can take a shot on Alfred Morris late in your fantasy drafts around the second to last or the last round.
How Should You Value Ezekiel Elliott in Upcoming Fantasy Drafts?
That's a difficult question to answer, because a lot will depend on your league settings. My simple answer is, if you can get any discount on Ezekiel Elliott from his average draft position of 3.0, then you're getting a good value for at least the second half of the season.
Just a week ago I wrote to not allow this absence to sway you too much. I stand by that.
Fantasy football is about getting as much value as you can with each draft pick. Elliott is a top 5 value in any setting, even if he has to sit out. I think you can comprise a roster good enough to get into the playoffs, then you'll want Elliott for a playoff run.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys, all you need to do is tread water while he's out. If you can make it through the suspension at or around .500, you will still be in good position to win your fantasy football league.
When Elliott comes back, he will be the starter.
Even if they make him earn it, it won't take long. He's just better than McFadden and Morris. If your league lets Elliott somehow slip outside of the first round, snatch him up and make sure you draft McFadden. You'll thank me for it later.
While many will look at this situation as a detriment to Dak Prescott and may feel deterred from drafting him as the 9th quarterback in your league, I actually see it the opposite. While Dak was very efficient in Dallas' run-first offense, he showed throughout the 2016 season that he could be leaned upon in a shootout or to bring the team back from a large deficit.
In fact, Dak might have played his best game of the season during the playoff loss to Green Bay when the team got down 21-3. Forced to pass, Prescott completed 63% of his passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in nearly leading the team back to victory.
With a full offseason in the Dallas offense and a really good compliment of receivers led by Dez Bryant, I fully anticipate Dak to have an excellent sophomore campaign.
Dallas may lean more on the pass during Elliott's absence, which will make Dak more valuable to me. Remember fantasy football is about acquiring stats and with Elliott out, Dak will have a great chance at putting up even bigger numbers. Especially if the run game is ineffective.
Fantasy Football: Draft Ezekiel Elliott Early, Don’t Be Swayed
Plenty of fantasy football drafts have come and gone, but many still remain as training camp is in full swing. The question has come up in the fantasy football Twitter community; what do you do with Ezekiel Elliott amidst rumors of a suspension? And the short answer is nothing.
Investigations into whether or not Ezekiel Elliott has violated any of the NFL's policies have persisted. Supposedly, those investigations have come to a close. The personal conduct policy, the domestic violence policy, and the substance abuse policy seem to all be in play as the league decides on the appropriate punishment for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back.
You could go the safe route and drop Ezekiel Elliott down your draft boards or you could take a chance at having one of the top scorers in fantasy football on your roster.
Say a suspension does come down. At worst, a drug suspension would be four games.
The domestic violence issue seems to be circumstantial evidence that even the Columbus Police and District Attorney declined to pursue. The NFL's personal conduct policy could apply, but that seems to be more of a threat than anything. So the question is, if Elliott is out for four games, does he lose his value somehow. I'd say no.
We don't have to go back very far to see a similar star running back with a similar suspension. In 2016, Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season and many people slid him down their draft boards. In some mocks, I saw him going outside of the first round.
Sure he missed the first three games of the season, but he finished as fantasy football's No. 3 running back and was there when you needed him most. Playoff time.
Bell only had three games where he failed to score less than 15 standard fantasy points during his 12 game season (didn't play in the season finale). The point being, anyone who drafted Le'Veon Bell in the first round or the top of the second was quite happy with the results.
If Ezekiel Elliott misses time, it will be at the beginning of the season, but like Bell, he will be around at the end of the season when you're trying to put away a championship win.
If you're drafting at the top of the first round, don't let Ezekiel Elliott's consistency and scoring ability get by you because of a threat of suspension. He'll be available to you when you need him most.
The first few weeks of the season are tough matchups for Elliott anyway.
Dallas will face the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams in the first four weeks--all teams with tough defenses. Though Elliott is a guaranteed starter for those four weeks, it's likely you're lowering expectations for him against some of the top run defenses in the NFL.
For me in 2017, the reward of having Ezekiel Elliott on my roster far outweighs the risk of any potential suspension. Draft Zeke and reap the benefits.
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