Coffin Corner: Surging and Injured
Are you lucky enough to still be playing fantasy football in Week 15? I assume if you weren't still playing you probably wouldn't be reading this. You would probably be drinking heavily, drowning the old sorrow in spiked egg nog (I tend to imbibe a bit myself at this time of year), if you were knocked out of fantasy football. It's a tough time of year for folks, and I don't mean to make light of that, but cheer up. There's still football to watch. There's still fantasy football to play (you can take me on in a weekly league if your regular season is over). I'd also wager that for the majority of you that come to RotoWire.com on a consistent basis, you're probably playing in three, five, nine leagues right? You had to make the playoffs in a couple of them, and I'm sure you've had success this season if you've followed the great work that RotoWire.com provides on a daily basis. With the infomercial complete let's move on to a look at some players that might, just might, be difference makers in Week 15 – minus a couple of guys that have seen their seasons torpedoed by injury.
A WEEKLY FANTASY BATTLE
I’m going to describe to you a way you can play fantasy football – against me. Thanks to Fanduel.com you will be able to take me on each week in fantasy football in a salary cap game. Chose your team and take me down. Simple as that. Should be a lot of fun and you can also win cash along the way, so why wouldn't you be interested? Here's the link to play: Take on The Oracle.
Joique Bell, Lions
Bell stepped up when Reggie Bush went down in Week 14 and racked up nearly 25 fantasy points in a PPR setup. I know it might be hard to believe given his sometimes sporadic usage and the fact that he's had three games this season of less than 4.5 points, but Bell is the #15 runner in fantasy football this season (PPR setup). Shocking right? Bell has 38 receptions, only two less than LeSean McCoy, and his total of 436 receiving yards is three less than McCoy and 33 more than Giovani Bernard. On the ground Bell has seven rushing scores which is more than Alfred Morris (six), Chris Johnson (five), Zac Stacy (five), Ray Rice (four) and... Reggie Bush (three). With Bush's uncertain health status Bell could be a difference maker in the fantasy playoffs.
Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers
He's on the injury report this week with with a shoulder bruise but there is no real concern that he won't play against the Bengals. Does that mean you should be playing him in Week 15? Some thoughts. Cotchery has scored in 5-straight games. Yes, you read that right. Cotchery has scored a touchdown in 5-straight contests. During the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons Cotchery had a total of four touchdown receptions. Not only has he scored in five of the last six games this season, but he's actually scored seven times in those five games. In a career that began in 2004, Cotchery had never scored seven times in a season until this year. The seven scores he has the last five games give him more receiving scores than Alshon Jeffery (six), Vincent Jackson (six) and Kennan Allen (five) have this season. Moreover, Cotchery has a total of nine scores on the year which is more than Josh Gordon (eight) and A.J. Green (eight). Seriously? That's just bonkers and certainly not sustainable. Think of it. Over the last five games Cotchery has scored seven times on 17 receptions. He had never scored seven times in a season and now he has seven scores on 17 catches? Come on. Despite all the scores the past six weeks Cotchery has pretty much been totally TD dependent, a phrase that wasn't ever uttered for the first nine years this guy was in the NFL. In his five scoring gone wild games Cotchery has averaged 3.4 receptions and 48.6 yards a contest with games of six, 31 and 48 yards. I know it's been “working,” starting him, but if he doesn't get into the end zone he's simply not worth starting. If you're starting him in Week 15 more power to you, but I still believe it's not the correct move unless you are desperate at the position. There's just not enough volume here and sooner or later, much likely now soon, the scoring will dry up.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
The new Darren McFadden? Gronkowski is all jacked up. He's had multiple arm surgeries. He's had multiple back surgeries. He now needs knee surgery for a torn ACL and MCL, casting serious doubt as to whether or not he will be available for Week 1 of next season. Just 24 years old, it's quite possible that we'll never see Gronkowski dominate again. At some point your body just gives out, and it's fair to wonder if we're getting to that point with the big fella. I know we've become numb to ACL surgeries. Guys have it and we expect them to return at 100 percent. While they often do it needs to be noted that players don't always get their burst back. With the line of demarcation in the NFL being so thin – the difference between a star an a guy who can't get a job is razor thin – losing just a bit of your burst/athleticism can sometimes be the difference between being an All-Pro and struggling for work. It's far too early to toss Gronk into the washed up pile, but boy is this one rough situation for the chronically beat up one. Some Gronk facts. (1) He last appeared in 16 games in 2011. (2) He's played a total of 18 games the past two years. In those 18 games he hauled in 94 passes for 1,382 yards and 15 scores. He's still been as effective as ever, but what will he lose with the multiple tears in the knee ligaments? (3) Per 16 games for his career Gronk has averaged 72 receptions 1,042 yards and 13.4 touchdowns. That's truly amazing work which is why his loss for the remainder of the 2013 season is such a crushing blow to those that own him.
Percy Harvin, Seahawks
He's still being listed as day-to-day after suffering a setback with his surgically repaired hip, and it's doubtful we'll see him in Week 15, and you have to be concerned with his availability for Weeks 16 and 17 as well. I personally love Harvin, he's a football player of the highest ilk, but this has gotten out of hand. He has one catch this season. Dating back 13 months he's appeared in one NFL game. At this point, and I write this with sadness, he's just not worth holding on to unless you're in a keeper league or a deep league, not with names like Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers likely on waivers and contributing right now.
Jacob Tamme, Broncos
The Broncos play Thursday this week and with Wes Welker coming off his second concussion in less than a month there is pretty much no chance he suits up. At this point there hasn't been much in way of talk about how much time Welker would miss, but it might just be a one week absence. Regardless of how long he's wearing a ball cap on the sidelines it sure seems that Tamme is a worthwhile add. That's based on the four receptions for 47 yards he picked up working out of the slot after Welker went down for the count. Even more impressive for Tamme, and speaking more to his short-term value, Tamme played 45 of 46 snaps after Welker's injury. The matchup with the Chargers is one that Peyton will likely be able to exploit, so that has to make those of you desperate for help at tight end intrigued with Tamme, who apparently will fill the slot role for the Broncos. Would I start Tamme in Week 15? I'd say with some trepidation I would. Tamme has two games of four catches for 47 yards the past three weeks, but those are the only two games he's played this season in which he caught more than one pass. One. I don't know how anyone could feel comfortable, I mean truly comfortable, playing a guy with those numbers in the fantasy playoffs. If you lost Gronk and were outbid on Pitta I guess I could cut you some slack if you're adding Tamme, but I have to stop short of giving a full on 100 percent thumbs up to adding him this week, even though he's certainly trending in a big way.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
In the SiriusXM Hosts League, Ryan Tannehill is the 12th ranked quarterback in fantasy football. Shocking right? He's been extremely consistent this year, even if he hasn't been consistently excellent. Check it. In every game this season he's been between 16.5 and 27.6 points. Some perspective on that. Every one of the 11 men above him in overall points, every one, has at least one game this season with more than 27.6 points (in fact, Peyton Manning is averaging 31.4). On the downside, which in this case is actually the upside for Tannehill, how many of the 11 men above him in points have an outing this season of less than 16.5 points? You might be surprised to see the names: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, RGIII and Tony Romo. If you were counting along with the names you will have already noted that every one of the 11 men above Tannehill in points has had at least one game this season of less than 16.5 points. Shocking isn't it? There is also this – Tannehill is surging. Over the past four weeks he's thrown for an average of 277 yards a game while attempting 38 passes. He's also run for an average of 34 yards a week showing off that athleticism. Oh yeah, he's also been the 6th leading point producer at the position the past four weeks. How you like them apples?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.