Week 5: PPR Watch
For too long PPR leagues have been fantasy football second-class citizens. PPR is an after thought, a quick mention at the end of the column, as though it were unworthy of sound research and a singular focus. Well no more, brother. PPR honors the role players of the NFL, the first down makers, the guy that goes over the middle, and even occasionally, the wise running back that catches a pass for negative yardage. PPR is here and our time is now.
Sure Thing - 11 catches on 17 targets inflated Jones' numbers quite a bit, but it doesn't change the fact he had 11 catches on 17 targets. Wow! Jones is now top 10 in both receptions and yardage after 4 weeks. Teams can't just swing coverage off White to stop him, so Jones' prospects look fantastic the rest of the year. The Falcons have started slow, but with Jones developing and Gonzalez resurgent, the passing game is getting close to where we'd like it to be for fantasy purposes. It's been much documented already, but Green Bay's secondary is not the scary match-up it was last year. The Packers have given up the third most fantasy points to wide receivers this season and if Atlanta had trouble stopping Tavaris Jackson in week 4, it's fair to say there is a good chance they will be playing from behind. Jones should have an excellent day.
Confident - After another solid week and 2 more touchdowns, it's time to view Decker as a potential impact fantasy player. Denver's secondary has been terrible this year, and that means they are giving up a lot of points. A lot of points allowed by the defense means a lot of passing by the offense, whether John Fox likes it or not. Denver's up against San Diego in week 5, and even in a down offensive year, they are more than capable of putting up numbers against the Broncos. Decker's role in the offense is secure, and he's getting results you can't ignore. He's in the top 25 in targets, receptions, yardage, and touchdowns. Leave that on your bench if you want, but with bye weeks approaching I think Decker's a safe WR3 with WR2 upside. Take advantage.
Confident - You probably got Crabtree late enough in the draft that he's just been a useless commodity sitting around on your bench. You've probably even toyed with dropping him. Well, the bye weeks have started, and this might be the time to consider tossing him into one of the empty spots in your lineup. Crabtree had a pretty decent day against the Eagles, catching 5 balls for 68 yards on 9 targets. For now, the Niners are a conservative offense, and the match-up against Tampa bay doesn't exactly scream for Harbaugh to open up the playbook. Still, Smith is starting to earn a little more trust, and made some big throws against Philly in the 4th quarter. They are trying to get Crabtree involved, and his run after the catch ability gives him a chance to make short throws into big plays. Tampa's given up the 8th most fantasy points to WRs, and the Niners are at home. Don't be afraid to give Crabtree a shot.
Caution - The situation for Holmes is going from bad to worse. Not only did he have just 3 catches on 12 targets, but the Jets passing game was so bad that Rex Ryan has emphatically stated that they will once again make the running game their focus. I'm going to take this with a grain of salt. The Jets' running game has been unspectacular in it's own right this season, and they will be facing plenty of teams with secondaries a lot worse than Baltimore's. Still, Holmes wasn't even in the top 50 amongst wide receivers in fantasy PPG when the Jets were passing 60% of the time. It's very reasonable to be concerned. Seattle's a pretty great match-up in week 5, so play him if you need him, but Holmes is a big name I'd be looking to trade in PPR formats.
Caution - It's a PPR article so I'm supposed to talk up guys like Mike Thomas right? Wrong. I didn't like him coming into the season, and despite 40 targets, I still see him as nothing more than a flex. Why? Because while PPR makes players like Thomas relevant, I still need more than 50 yards a game and 4 touchdowns a year to put a guy in my lineup. Pierre Garcon and Victor Cruz had one good game each and they've scored as many fantasy points as Thomas. Consistency is great, but at some point you need upside as well, and unless something drastically changes in the coming weeks, there just isn't much to be had with this Jags offense. Through 4 games Cincinnati has given up the 4th fewest points to wide receivers. Thomas will get his 5 catches for 45 yards, but if you want more than that, look elsewhere.