Whatever, Mr. Good At Fantasy Guy who has checked out The Ticker because you have all sorts of fantasy questions for your fantasy finals. I'm only still alive in one of my five leagues. You go ahead, you brag, you jerkface.
The Ticker is a little different this week. For the end of the season, I've scrapped the Futures market and Hedges, since, you know, there's no time for the future to get here. It's now or never. In place of those, I've eliminated my player cap on my other categories. I just went through and listed any player I might want to talk about, and then I talked about them. As a result, it's a 15-player Ticker this week, but spread over only four categories.
As a reminder, these are the categories:
Stocks I'm buying: Players owned in 50 percent or fewer of Yahoo! leagues (as of Monday evening) who had a big game this week, and I believe in it.
Stocks I'm not buying: Players owned in 50 percent or fewer of Yahoo! leagues who had a big game this week, but I'm skeptical.
Stocks I'm selling: Widely owned players who struggled this week, and I think there's reason to dump stock.
Stocks I'm not selling: Widely owned players who struggled this week, but I'm keeping the faith.
We're now heading into Week 16, which means one mistake now can mean the difference between a title and a not-title. Hopefully, I can offer you some guidance as you make your final decisions. If your opponent also reads The Ticker, well, congratulations on your tie!
And I'm sorry I called you a jerkface.
Stocks I'm buying
Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (31 percent owned in Yahoo! fantasy leagues)
There's usually an hour or so of prep work for The Ticker, with the making of the stock symbols and the organization of players and the like. But the first thing I do every time is make a quick list of players I could possibly write about and check their ownership percentages, since I have that 50-percent threshold to worry about. I didn't even include Tannehill on my possibles list. It was only through random chance that I realized he was still under 50-percent owned, and he's only at 31? What am I missing? Sunday's win over the Patriots vaulted Tannehill over Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III in season-long fantasy points. Nick Foles passed the lot of them, so Tannehill sits at 14th now. Everyone has played 14 games, so it's quick and easy (if not wholly fair) to look at seven-game splits. In games 1-7, Tannehill averaged 12.4 fantasy points; in games 8-14, that has jumped to 18.3, and hasn't scored below 14 once. He has 20-plus in three straight, and with the team right in the race for the AFC six-seed, you know Tannehill isn't easing up on the throttle.
Jordan Todman, RB, JAC (19 percent)
This wasn't exactly a tough call entering Week 15. Maurice Jones-Drew was out, Cecil Shorts III was out. The Jaguars had the backup running back, Marcedes Lewis at tight end, and Ace Sanders at wide receiver. Also, "Todman, Lewis, and Sanders" is the most fake-sounding law firm name. But yeah, with that list of potential "weapons," of course the team was going to go to Todman, who rewarded them with 109 rushing and 44 receiving yards. The team has no real motivation to bring Jones-Drew back for the last two games (to be fair, it doesn't really have any motivation not to, as he's a free agent after the year and good lord is he not going back to Jacksonville, but still), so why not see if Todman is your future? The Jaguars play the Titans in Week 16, who are among the league's worst teams against opposing running backs. Assuming MJD is out again, Todman's an easy RB2 in Week 16.
Andrew Quarless, TE, GB (2 percent)
Quarless wasn't really considered a viable replacement for the injured Jermichael Finley in any way but positionally; for his career, he's not been nearly the pass-catcher the bigger names at tight end have been. But the tight end has become a preferred short option of fill-in quarterback Matt Flynn the past two weeks, putting up identical six-catch, 66-yard, one-score games in Weeks 14 and 15. If Aaron Rodgers misses another game, Quarless will likely still be a Flynn favorite; if Rodgers returns, Quarless has shown he can do more than what had been expected of him before. If you've been casting about for a Rob Gronkowski replacement, or if you bought in on Jacob Tamme or Ladarius Green lately, Quarless is a fine low-end flyer option.
Stocks I'm not buying
Fred Davis, TE, WAS (23 percent)
Reasons you might buy in on Davis: He had his first touchdown of the year when playing with the team's new starting quarterback; maybe that means they have a connection. Reasons you might not: Literally everything else. Even Davis' "successful" game was only a one-catch, 23-yard outing that just happened to wind up in the end zone. He's only been targeted 12 times all season. The team likes Logan Paulsen more than him, and will also slot Jordan Reed well above him if the tight end can get back on the field. How the hell is this guy still 23-percent owned? Move the decimal point one place to the left and the number is still too high.
Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS (11 percent)
Look, it's pretty cool that Cousins came in and threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, he also threw two interceptions and fumbled once, and his performance came against an awful Atlanta Falcons defense that didn't exactly have a lot of Cousins tape to look at. As bad as the Redskins' next two opponents, Dallas and the Giants, are on defense, the more Cousins plays, the more he's likely to be exposed. The opposing defenses are bad enough that he might still be able to score in the low teens, but don't expect anything big. There's a reason he was such a low draft pick to begin with.
Matt Asiata, RB, MIN (7 percent)
I advised everyone who asked me not to bother with Asiata Sunday. And you know what? Screw it, I was right. Dude was bad. He had only 51 yards on 30 carries. Even if you say the yardage on his touchdowns was low because, you know, the end zone was there, that puts him at 44 yards on 27 carries. The touchdowns were a fluke, BenJarvus Green-Ellis' dream come true. Asiata will never have a game like this again. He might not even be in the NFL in 2014. I'm happy for him that he has this game on his resume now, but even if Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart make it back onto the field Sunday, the opposing defense gets significantly harder (Eagles Sunday; Bengals next), so stay away.
Andre Caldwell, WR, DEN (1 percent)
This was really interesting. Everyone in the world was talking up Jacob Tamme as the sleeper, could-have-a-big-game tight end Sunday, under the argument that Tamme would fill the slot role vacated by Wes Welker, out with a concussion, and could have big production in the spot. That thinking was exactly right, except that it was Caldwell getting the looks. Like, there was nothing different except for the person in question. Well, if Welker makes it back on the field Sunday, Caldwell fades back into a reserve role. Even if Welker doesn't, I think Tamme is more likely to have that sort of game next Sunday than Caldwell is.
Edwin Baker, RB, CLE (0 percent)
I love seeing games like these. Baker, Asiata, Da'Rick Rogers a week ago. Guys who we had never heard of at the start of the season have a big game. I've taken to calling them "Look Ahead Or Look Back" games. As in, is this a game that we think portends big things to come ("Look Ahead"), or is it the game they'll look back on fondly when they're in their 50s ("Look Back"). Victor Cruz's "Look Ahead Or Look Back" game was his huge preseason game in 2010, and it was a Look Ahead. But Kevin Ogletree's big game last year was a Look Back, and Tiquan Underwood's from a few weeks ago was, too. Baker's game wasn't huge, but 84 yards from scrimmage and a score in his first game is still a big moment, and I'm happy for him. But the Browns go from playing the can't-stop-any-running-back Bears in Week 15 to the can-stop-every-running-back Jets in Week 16. I hope Baker clings to the memory of Sunday's game, because I don't expect him to form a lot more any time soon.
Stocks I'm selling
Drew Brees, QB, NO (100 percent)
Chart time! Drew Brees, home and away:
|Per-game fantasy scoring||27||15.9|
|High fantasy score||33||19|
|Low fantasy score||14||7|
I mean, don't get me wrong. Drew Brees is still a QB1 in every game, no matter what. But he is such a different quarterback in home games vs. away games. It's not comparable. Sunday, the Saints travel to the Carolina Panthers for a road game. If you have Brees, you're starting him, but be aware you could be looking at a bad game.
Golden Tate, WR, SEA (87 percent)
With Sidney Rice done for the year and Percy Harvin a complete question mark, Tate should have been a safe-ish play for the last month or so. Instead, he's averaged 40.25 yards and 3.5 fantasy points a game in his last four. Instead, it's been Doug Baldwin who has produced, with 12 or 13 fantasy points in three of those four games. Tate has only one hundred-yard game on the season and only four touchdowns. He just lacks the upside of the other receivers owned around his level.
Martellus Bennett, TE, CHI (85 percent)
Bennett had 125 yards, three touchdowns, and 29 fantasy points in Weeks 1 and 2 combined. He has 534 yards, two touchdowns, and 58 fantasy points total in the 12 games since. He has only scored double-digit fantasy points once in those games. Basically, Bennett still clocks in as a top-10 fantasy tight end, but that is almost entirely on the strength of his early-season production; he's been at the back end of the top 20 since. If you're starting him and still alive in the playoffs, it's long past time to look elsewhere.
Riley Cooper, WR, PHI (82 percent)
Cooper, season: 743 yards, 7 touchdowns, 114 fantasy points
Cooper, season minus Weeks 9 and 10: 502 yards, 2 touchdowns, 60 fantasy points
This is a guy whose value lies completely in his insanely hot Weeks 9 and 10, when he went for five combined touchdown. Outside of those games, he's been an extraordinarily mediocre receiver. He's only topped 50 yards five times all season including those big games. Yet he was still started in 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That's just people who watch ESPN on occasion and remember Cooper's big games. Don't bother.
Stocks I'm not selling
Andre Johnson, WR, HOU (100 percent)
Johnson's numbers fell apart Sunday, with four catches but only 18 yards, and it all came against a Colts' defense that let Johnson go for 229 yards and three scores six weeks earlier. Case Keenum's abominable performance really sucked the entire team down with him. On the other hand, Keenum's been pretty awful for weeks now, and Johnson had double-digit fantasy points in five of six games before Sunday's meltdown. As bad as Keenum has been and is (now I have the intro to The Tell-Tale Heart stuck in my head, but that's just because I'm a nerd: "True, nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous, I had been and am, but why will you say that I am mad?" Sorry, sidetracked), the Texans take on the Broncos next week, and Johnson will get his.
Thomas had his second-worst game of the season Sunday, with only 49 yards and no score. It's only the third game all season Thomas has played in and not scored. I'm not a big subscriber to things like "the Broncos will play angry after their Week 15 loss," but then ... won't they? I don't know, but it definitely feels like there's a lot of reason to believe a great Denver team will demolish an abysmal Houston team Sunday, and Thomas should offer fine production in the process.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT (78 percent)
Roethlisberger had his least-productive fantasy game since the season-opener Sunday, throwing for only 191 yards, adding in an interception to go with only one touchdown. On the other hand, the team didn't need much out of him, as they ran out to a huge lead early, with a rushing touchdown and a punt-return touchdown limiting Roethlisberger's chances to accumulate stats. As a result, he had his second-fewest pass attempts of the season, even though he set season-highs in completion percentage and QBR. Basically, he played as well as the Steelers needed him to play, and no better. Next Sunday, he gets a Packers team that is not nearly as good on defense as the Bengals team the Steelers just beat. Roethlisberger has been a top-10 fantasy quarterback this season (no, really), and that should continue the rest of the way.