Week 14 Flames: Morris, Ajayi trucks to carry owners into Round 2
Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 14 Flames in the comments section below.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, QB (4 percent started, $29 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Hou (Game over/under: 43)
Ain’t nothin’ but a G thang, baby. Jimmy G is about to go crazy. #TeamHuevos is the label that pays ‘may.’ … Last week in front of friends and family in Chicago, Garoppolo, though not a box score warrior, impressed in his first San Francisco start. He stood tall in the pocket, unloaded the ball with plus zip and hit his targets in stride. He completed 73 percent of his attempts, netted 8.0 yards per attempt and finished with 294 yards. His 2.5 game sample size as a full-time starter is infinitesimal, but film crunchers who comb through the evidence should come away feeling optimistic. Garoppolo has all the necessary tools to be a franchise quarterback – quick release, astute reads/progressions, coolness. Surround him with suitable weapons and borderline QB1 numbers in 12-team leagues will quickly accumulate. His Week 14 performance may offer a sneak peek. To say Houston is atrocious against the pass is akin to declaring Trader Joe’s’ chocolate narcotic Jingle Jangle is only mildly addictive. The Texans, who’ve allowed 247.6 pass yards per game, 7.8 yards per attempt and 1.9 touchdowns per contest, rank No. 2 in fantasy points surrendered to signal callers. Under the magnifying glass, first-team corners Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph have given up a combined 104.9 passer rating and 66.3 catch percentage to their assignments. If protected adequately, Garoppolo’s chances of popping off are rather substantial. Overly concerned Russell Wilson (at Jax) owners should debate the Niner’s merits.
Fearless Forecast: 286 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 turnovers, 7 rushing yards, 20.1 fantasy points
Alfred Morris, Dal, RB (28 percent started, $20 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at NYG (Over/Under: 41.5)
Liquor store business in Fantasyland boomed when Ezekiel Elliott’s interminable court battle finally reached a resolution. Owners, who likely rode Elliott to a lopsided record, needed something, anything to numb the pain. Some, however, made the shrewd move of adding Morris, a waiver tourniquet that’s stopped the bleeding. Running with aggressiveness previously witnessed in Washington, the promoted backup has pounded his way to a fruitful return. Though he’s crossed the chalk only once since Week 10, he’s averaged an appreciable 80.0 total yards per game, 4.80 yards per carry, forced 12 total missed tackles and tallied 3.4 yards after contact per attempt. Rod Smith has supplanted him roughly 10-12 times per game, especially on pass downs, but Morris is Dallas’ bully, a between-the-tackles blaster who will continue to chew up real estate operating behind a premium run-blocking line. With Ben McAdoo and his slicked back hair now updating his sizzle reel for a part on the new “Jersey Shore,” the Giants are hopeful the page turn alters team tenor, an unlikely outcome. New York’s defense is still one of the virtual game’s friendliest, a unit that subscribes to an open door policy. Over the past five weeks, it’s surrendered 4.54 yards per carry, five rushing TDs and 121.6 rushing yards per game to RBs. Do the rudimentary math and a duplication of Week 13 could be on deck for Morris. Similar to Marshawn Lynch last week, the Cowboy digs in his spurs.
Fearless Forecast: 24 carries, 117 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 0 receptions, 17.7 fantasy points
Jay Ajayi, Phi, RB (48 percent started, $23 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at LAR (Over/Under: 50.5)
When Doug Pederson shops for cereal he always buys the mini-box variety pack. Corn Pops one day, Fruit Loops the next, the man refuses to commit to just one flavor. His backfield is no different. When Ajayi was acquired at the trade deadline, most, including this hair-challenged loudmouth, believed the former Dolphin would step in and immediately command the lion’s share. That, of course, didn’t occur. Ajayi, limited to a fantasy unemployable 15-20 snaps per game, is just a number on the constantly spinning roulette wheel. LeGearrette Blount, Kenjon Barner and Corey Clement have seen equal or greater time. It’s a bit of crapshoot pinpointing who will head the committee any given week, but the former Dolphin is worth debating strongly in the opening round of the fantasy playoffs. Though limited since his arrival the rusher has been a model of efficiency. On 34 touches, he’s compiled a dynamite 3.4 yards after contact per attempt, 64.3 total yards per game and scored one touchdown. Assuming he earns another 10-12 touches this week, he’s worth flexing or slotting at RB2 in 12-team formats. Despite featuring one of the true D-line anchors in the league, Aaron Donald, the Rams are very lamb-like when it comes to defending the run. This season, they’ve yielded 154.8 total yards per game, 4.73 yards per carry, 14 total touchdowns and the most fantasy points to RBs. Running behind a fortified offensive line and given Carson Wentz’s field-stretching abilities, Ajayi rips off a flashy run or three.
Fearless Forecast: 9 carries, 63 rushing yards, 1 reception, 8 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.6 fantasy points
Josh Gordon, Cle, WR (27 percent started, $21 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. GB (Over/Under: 40)
Discussed incessantly on talk radio and hot take TV shows, the NFL has experienced a ratings crisis this season. From the National Anthem controversy to catastrophic star injuries to boring primetime games to the Ezekiel Elliott situation, various reasons explain why fans have abandoned the game. Suffice it to say, it desperately needs a compelling feel-good story. Enter Gordon. Before drugs and alcohol derailed his football career, the Cleveland wide receiver was an unstoppable megastar in the making. His 2013 (87-1646-9) is indisputably the greatest Age 22 campaign ever recorded. Clean and sober, his return to action last week in Los Angeles was a day few expected, including Gordon. Unsurprising, he didn’t regain his All-Pro form three years removed from his last regular season action, but he wasn’t exactly oxidized. On 48 snaps played and 11 targets, he high-pointed, muscled and sprinted his way to a 4-85-0 line, which should’ve been much, much more. Numerous times he had a step on his defender but DeShone Kizer overthrew him. Still, what he achieved fresh off the street against Casey Hayward, who admitted Gordon was his toughest assignment this year, was extraordinary. With the dust knocked off, Cleveland’s Superman should shred a Packers defense sapped by injuries and ineptitude. Green Bay’s secondary is chock full of bell ringers. Plop a dollar in the kettle and they bring nothing but cheer. Damarious Randall (65.9 catch% allowed), Gordon’s likely dance partner, being the most giving. On the year, the unit has conceded the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Yes, Kizer couldn’t hit the Abominable Snowman on a quick slant, but the volume, talent and matchup say No. 12 comes through with WR1 numbers.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 19.1 fantasy points
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pit, WR (32 percent started, $19 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Bal (Over/Under: 41)
The NFL record holder for most touchdowns scored by a player under 21 years old is on a trajectory to supplant Maurice Jones-Drew as the greatest hyphenated player in fantasy football history. The rookie, like fellow greenhorns Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffery, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, shifted into another gear midseason. Though limited by a hamstring injury recently, he’s occasionally cashed when on the field averaging 4.4 receptions for 78.6 yards per game with three touchdowns over a five-game stretch. Hey, playing alongside Antonio Brown has its perks. His resulting 15.8 fantasy points per game in PPR ranks No. 12 among wide receivers over that span. More than just a situational red-zone weapon, he’s rapidly developed into a versatile WR2. At first glance, Smith-Schuster’s battle with Baltimore is an unfavorable one. The Ravens have surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. But that was accomplished before Jimmy Smith’s achilles tear. Down their best cover man, the Ravens are ripe for the picking. Marlon Humphrey is Smith’s replacement. The rookie has certainly held his own conceding a 50.0 catch rate and 52.3 passer rating on 184 snaps. Still, the downgrade is significant. With Brown likely to draw Brandon Carr, Smith-Schuster should lineup across Humphrey and slot corner LaDarius Webb (68.4 catch% allowed) often. When you also consider home Roethlisberger, JuJu’s top-24 upside becomes clear.
(UPDATE: With Smith-Schuster suspended, I’m replacing him with Martavis Bryant who could achieve the forecast below based on the reasons discussed above.)
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.7 fantasy points
WEEK 14 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Mike Davis, Sea, RB (1 percent started, $15 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Jax (Over/Under: 39.5)
Trying to place a round peg into a square hole, the Seahawks, since Chris Carson’s breakthrough season prematurely ended Week 4, have tried various RB combinations with little success. Eddie Lacy, J.D. McKissic and Thomas Rawls crawled along behind a work-in-progress offensive line. Davis, however, could be the remedy Pete Carroll has desperately searched for. Last Sunday night, the Niners castoff exhibited outstanding power and elusiveness against one of the league’s nastiest fronts. Seeing action on 73 percent of team snaps, the thickly built back (5-foot-9, 218 pounds) totaled 101 yards on 19 touches. Most impressively, he notched 3.1 yards after contact per attempt. Jacksonville is night and day different defending the run from earlier this season. Marcell Dareus’ acquisition has transformed the Jags from leaky to ironclad. Since Week 9, they’ve allowed only one RB rushing touchdown and 3.39 yards per carry. The matchup, at least on paper, isn’t favorable. Still, Seattle must establish the run to compete. Jacksonville’s asphyxiating secondary severely taxes opposing passing attacks. Russell Wilson, who normally pulls rabbits out of hats, will likely resemble a low-grade street magician. Davis, on another 15-20 touches, is a volume play worth plugging in, a rusher capable of attacking the Jags in similar fashion as L.A.’s Austin Ekeler in Week 10.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 62 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 26 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.8 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 14 FLAMES
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
— Dan Jones (@Djones1236) December 5, 2017
Fan Week 13 results: 4-3 (Season: 34-58)
My Week 13 results: 7-5 (Season: 60-86; W: Alex Smith, Tarik Cohen, Jerick McKinnon, Cordarelle Patterson, Rex Burkhead, Julius Thomas, Tennessee D/ST; L: Brett Hundley, Jimmy Garoppolo, Zay Jones, Ted Ginn, Eric Decker)
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”