Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout both the season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to share their insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.
This week, the QB List Staff was asked which player they are trying their hardest to sell:
Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): Lamar Jackson, QB (BAL)
Reasoning: This is not an indictment or disbelief in what Lamar Jackson has done so far for fantasy owners. Jackson has been arguably the best value at quarterback in fantasy to this point. Taken with a mid or late-round pick in most drafts, Jackson has exploited plush matchups against Miami, Arizona, Cleveland, and Cincinnatti while excelling against mid-tier defenses like Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. However, Jackson hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 5, and he has only thrown multiple scores in three of his seven games played. In fact, Jackson only threw for 143 yards against Seattle last week and hasn’t topped 250 yards in a game since Week 3. The bulk of his recent production has come from his legs, where he has run for over 100 yards in both of his last two games with a rushing score in each. Essentially, Jackson is supplementing his poor passing numbers with RB1 stats. Part of this has to do with an injury to Marquise Brown in recent weeks. After all, having this element in the passing game helps make Jackson more of a multi-dimensional threat:
Lamar Jackson ➡️ Hollywood Brown 🙌
— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2019
Coming out of the bye in Week 9, Baltimore plays New England, statistically the best defense in football through eight weeks. Two more plus matchups against Cincinnatti and Houston follow, but then Jackson faces the Rams, 49ers, Bills, and Jets defenses in Weeks 12-14. Jackson is thriving because of the threat he poses as a runner and his efficiency as a passer. He has given a moribund Ravens offense life, but a stretch against some of the best-coordinated and most talented defenses in football could suppress his output and ability during the home stretch of the fantasy season. The hype on Jackson, and the belief that he will win your league for you, has reached a fever pitch. If you want to capitalize on an asset at peak value, now is the time to move Jackson.
David Fenko (@Velcronomics): Jordan Howard, RB (PHI)
Reasoning: Over the course of the season, Jordan Howard has eclipsed backfield-mate Miles Sanders in standard-scoring by a margin of 70 – 49. In PPR leagues, that margin slims down to 78 – 65, though it’s 57.4 – 42 over the last four weeks. However, fantasy points are only ever part of the story. The backfield split by snaps tells a different story, one where Miles Sanders has out-snapped Jordan Howard every week but Week 4 (where Jordan Howard scored just under half of his points) and Week 6 (a game where Howard saw more snaps, but Sanders easily outscored him due to his ability as a receiver). Not many realize that part of Howard’s success stems from facing a lack of stacked boxes on his snaps, something that may not continue if the Eagles’ offense continues to suffer without a deep threat to stretch the field.
Running backs who see 8+ defenders in the box on the lowest percentage of their rush attempts, per @NextGenStats:
1. Chase Edmonds – 1.96%
2. Miles Sanders – 4.76%
3. Joe Mixon – 5.95%
T-4. David Johnson – 6.49%
T-4. Jordan Howard – 6.49%
— Evan McPhillips (@emcphil) October 25, 2019
This running back corps is a mess for fantasy purposes, as no option exceeds 60% of the snaps for any given week and they both tend to settle around 40-50%, so if you have an owner in your league who just needs a body at RB, Jordan Howard can be sold as an option who will maintain a floor week-over-week.
Mattew Bevins (@MattQbList): Austin Ekeler, RB (LAC)
Reasoning: Austin Ekeler was drafted as the 27th back off the board with the Melvin Gordon holdout looming. After the first 2-3 weeks, he was actually showcasing as a top-3 value at running back in any league format. Oh, how quickly things change. Ekeler had three games of over 10 carries in the first four games of the season (12/17/18). He was also receiving a ton of passing yards. Melvin Gordon came back just three weeks ago and is clearly the lead back. The coaching staff has basically said as much, numerous times. Even when Melvin was holding out, they made it a point to mention it.
De-emphasizing Austin Ekeler's usage just because Melvin Gordon ended his holdout is one of the worst coaching moves of the year. Get that man the ball.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 20, 2019
Ekeler now has half the upside, despite being an elite pass-catching back. If you could get the value of a top 15 running back and a wide receiver or tight end to help upgrade your bench or starters, I absolutely would deal Ekeler. Ten times over.
Mike Miklius (@sirl0inofbeef): New England Patriots D/ST
Reasoning: People do this every year. They elevate a team defense into the elite tier, ignoring important factors that helped the team rise to dominance. How do you think your favorite team would be doing right now if they faced the Dolphins, Steelers, Redskins, Jets twice, Giants, and Bills? I’m guessing you’re thinking at worst, 5-2, but maybe 6-1 or 7-0. This is the collection of teams the Patriots have dominated. Four of those teams are absolutely helpless, two of the remaining three are looking really bad, and the last one was admittedly good (and the only team to hold them under 33 points).
Patriots' QBs faced weeks 2-7:
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
3. Luke Falk
4. Josh Allen
5. Colt McCoy
6. Daniel Jones
7. Sam Darnold.
Patriots QBs faced weeks 8-13
8. Baker Mayfield
9. Lamar Jackson
10. Carson Wentz
11. Dak Prescott
12. Deshaun Watson
13. Patrick Mahomes
— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) October 22, 2019
The upcoming schedule gets much more difficult with the Browns, Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans, and Chiefs. The craziest part is I think you might be able to sell the Pats defense for an RB2 or WR2 if you’re lucky. You don’t have to sell here, but you definitely should if someone is willing to give up a nice return. Remember, the elite Bears defense faded a little bit towards the end of last year as well.
Nate Watt (@NateWattQBL): Matt Breida, RB (SF)
Reasoning: Despite not missing a game yet this season and only two in his career, Matt Breida has dealt with an assortment of injuries in his NFL career, which lead me to lean towards moving him while he’s still relatively healthy. Just last week he missed a half and has dealt with knee, ankle, shoulder injuries, as well as concussions. It seems like every game, local beat writers are Tweeting this out:
Matt Breida is shaken up, The medical staff helps him off the field.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) October 20, 2019
Breida’s a tough guy who has managed to play through injury, but I’d rather have a player who I don’t have to worry about being healthy so much. Add in the time-share with Tevin Coleman (who has been out snapping Breida) and the addition of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to bolster the passing game going forward, and I’d be shopping Breida right now.
Brandon Miller (@BrandonMillerFB): Davante Adams, WR (GB)
Reasoning: This is not easy for me to write as someone who has several shares of Davante Adams and has held onto him for three inactive weeks and counting. In the end, I think it comes down to factors like your team’s current record and WR depth. Unless you’re a legitimate (not fluky) 4-3 or better and can afford to do without him in the short-term, it may be worth seeing what you can get for Adams now before he returns from his turf toe-related absence, especially now that he has returned to practice.
Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (toe) participated in individual drills for the first time since Week 4. While helmetless, he ran some half-speed routes before heading inside the Hutson Center. pic.twitter.com/jmKg1vczEM
— Olivia Reiner (@ReinerOlivia) October 25, 2019
These injuries are known to linger and reaggravate easily, so if Adams goes down again after returning, it could be for the season. For those championship-minded teams, I should also note that the Packers play the Bears (Week 15) and are at the Vikings (Week 16) to end the year. I’m not telling you to sell at all costs; make sure you get appropriate value, but if you can’t afford to take on the risk of Adams not returning to form then you might as well ask around to acquire another position of need or a safer WR option. Week 8, roughly the halfway point, is a great time to take a critical look at your roster for the stretch run.
Have a question? Want to know more? Click the Twitter handle of any QBList.com writer above to reach out directly. We’re always happy to help out and talk football!
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)