The Fantasy Basement is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or two. Why “Fantasy Basement” you ask? There is a common misconception that sports writers dwell in their childhood cellars, that the institution promotes arrested development. Um…how does that have negative connotation? After all, who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to fresh-baked cookies and having their laundry done?…Anyway, enjoy!
QB: Nick Foles, Eagles
Foles hasn’t officially been named starter for Sunday’s Philly-Dallas showdown, but after his exploits in substitution of Michael Vick in Week 6 (22-for-31, 296 yards, four total touchdowns), it would be shocking if the second-year signal caller sat on the pine. Before you reject this triumph as a correlation to playing the winless Buccaneers last week, Tampa’s defense has actually been one of the bright spots for the team, with a top-10 secondary and energetic front. Moreover, Foles has been solid in spot duty this year, evidenced in his display against the Giants in Week 5.
Vick’s ground prowess is allegedly a stimulus for Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. Conversely, whatever level of evasiveness Vick’s speed injects, his accuracy, or lack thereof (53.8 completion percentage), negates. Enter Foles, who hit 71 percent of his intended targets last Sunday. The Cowboys are giving up the most points to fantasy quarterbacks thus far, making Foles a must-start. Other starts: Tony Romo, Jay Cutler
RB: Joseph Randle, Cowboys
I hope you’re sitting down: DeMarco Murray is hurt. Shocking, I know. (Concededly, I probably shouldn’t be so snarky toward injury-prone players, given in the last year I’ve fractured my elbow, received stitches and broken my ring finger, all stemming from the hardwood. Just spitballin’, but it could have something to do with my Kevin Durant physique coupled with my Chris Kaman coordination, sprinkled with a pain tolerance of Greg Oden.)
Murray suffered a sprain versus Washington and is expected to be out several weeks. Same goes for backup Lance Dunbar, who is dealing with a hamstring injury. This bequeaths the backfield touches to Randle, a fifth-round rookie from Oklahoma State. In replacement of Murray, Randle was, frankly, unimpressive, tallying just 17 yards on 11 carries, although he did find the end zone and added two receptions for 15 yards. However, Randle has a chance to shine against a Philadelphia resistance allowing 29.8 points (29th in the NFL) and a league-high 420.2 yards per contest. Available in the majority of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, snatch up Randle while you can. Other starts: Trent Richardson, Brandon Jacobs
WR: Mike Wallace, Dolphins
This play is somewhat of a gamble, as Wallace’s debut in South Beach has been mercurial at best (22 receptions, 281 yards). We’re rolling with Wallace in the hopes that:
A) Wallace uses his strong outing in Week 5 (seven catches, 105 yards) as a platform to right the ship
B) His rapport with Ryan Tannehill improved during the bye week
C) He takes advantage of a Buffalo unit relinquishing the second-most points to fantasy receivers
D) Tannehill realizes his other receiving options are Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. Offered such choices, one would think Tannehill would want to fly in Wallace’s direction early and often. Other starts: Justin Blackmon, Harry Douglas
TE: Coby Fleener, Colts
Owners are probably gun-shy on Fleener following two consecutive subpar games, and the Colts offense has transitioned from a pass-happy approach to a more conservative attack. Nevertheless, expect Indianapolis to find itself behind against Denver, making Andrew Luck and company head to the sky. As an upshot, Fleener should see plenty of balls facing a Broncos team that’s susceptible over the middle. To be fair, Von Miller is set to return for Denver, yet that won’t encumber Fleener’s production as much as you would believe. Other starts: Brent Celek, Jermaine Greshman
DEF: San Diego Chargers
Considering the previous peak for this franchise was its mascot getting drilled by paintballs, Jacksonville covering the 27.5-point spread last weekend might have been the highlight of its season. Unless the free booze promotion is brought back, envision the Jags coming down from this high against a decent Chargers resistance. Other starts: Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers
QB: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Ball security continues to plague Kaepernick, who fumbled and tossed a pick in San Fran’s 32-20 win over Arizona, giving the San Fran quarterback an unimpressive 8-9 touchdown-to-turnover ratio in 2013. Though he passed for 252 yards, it was the first time since Week 1 he crossed the 200-yard plateau. Worse, he’s rushed for 22 yards or less in five of six contests this fall. In short, Kaepernick hasn’t been the fantasy deity that some foretold.
I do think there’s light at the end of the tunnel for Kaepernick owners, especially as some of his receiving entities near return. Alas, this week’s matchup with Tennessee will not provide the turnaround, seeing that the Titans are restraining adversarial arms to the fourth-lowest production in fantasy. In most standard leagues, keep Kaepernick on the bench. Other sits: Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
Sign that I may be working too much: one of my dreams the other night centered on a debate between the headlines “FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS” and “BELL RUNG” for a story on the Steelers’ loss to…the mighty Ohio Bobcats. Four years ago, nightfall brought images of Mila Kunis playing volleyball on a beach. Now, fictional battles between NFL teams and MAC schools. Life is hell.
Anyway, as much as I like Bell’s second-half forecast, this week’s prognosis looks ominous, as the Ravens are one of just nine teams holding opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. On the bright side, Bell has emerged from Pittsburgh’s cluttered backfield as the primary rusher, meaning he’s not the worst option in deeper formats. Simply be aware of a less than prosperous afternoon. Other sits: Reggie Bush, Knowshon Moreno
WR: Andre Johnson, Texans
Johnson’s partner in crime will either be a hobbled Matt Schaub or the incomparable T.J. Yates. Against a secondary ranked in the top third in points allowed to roto receivers. And Johnson is dealing with a shin injury. Plus, did we mention a hobbled Matt Schaub or the incomparable T.J. Yates will be his quarterback? Other sits: Larry Fitzgerald, Robert Woods
TE: Jermichael Finley, Packers
I can see the upside for Finley, in the perspective that the tight end becomes a bigger component of the Green Bay offense in the absence of Randall Cobb and leg issues of James Jones. Unfortunately, I don’t think Finley is a bankable asset this week, either. Cleveland is surrendering a meager 214.3 passing yards this year (eighth-best in the league) and has been especially parsimonious over the middle of the field. Furthermore, since hitting pay dirt in back-to-back games to start the season, Finley has just 10 receptions for 107 yards and zero scores in his last three contests.
He has higher name recognition than most available tight ends, yet he also has a penchant for posting goose eggs. You’ve been warned. Other sits: Charles Clay, Garrett Graham
DEF: Cincinnati Bengals
The $#*! is going on with this defense? The Who-Deys take care of business against Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, yet blow a late-lead to Jay Cutler, lose to Brian Hoyer and allow Thad Lewis to engineer a 14-point comeback. Lord knows if they’ll shutdown Matthew Stafford or help the Lions quarterback light off the fireworks. Inserting this defense in your lineup is dancing with the devil. Other sits: Denver Broncos, Houston Texans
Waiver Wire Watch: Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Mentioned above, injuries to Cobb and Jones have led to a disheveled state in the Green Bay receiving corps. While Finley may be a part of this recovery effort, I like Boykin as the chief beneficiary, at least in terms of fantasy value. A Virginia Tech product, Boykin went undrafted in 2012 and hit the lowest rung of NFL hell: getting cut by the Jaguars. Yet Boykin will get a chance to shine with Cobb on the sidelines, illustrated by six targets in Boykin’s vicinity in Week 6. He doesn’t have the friendliest of matchups this week versus a daunting Browns secondary, but Boykins is a solid WR3 option the next month. For Cobb owners seeking a replacement, Boykin, available in 97 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, is your man.
Email of the Week
This week’s winner derives from Jake Westrich of Cincinnati, Ohio, who writes:
Dear (rhymes with casserole),
I had misgivings about watching Bridesmaids, a movie clearly targeting the female demographic, but you said it was funny and it was on the shelf at the library so I thought, what do I have to lose?
Two hours, 12 minutes of my life, that’s what.
It had a slow start so I told myself, “Just wait til they get to Vegas. Then it’ll be funny.” Spoiler alert: they don’t even make it to Vegas, and it NEVER gets funny. Sure, there were a few laughs, like when I considered that I’m a grown man watching Bridesmaids by myself on a Tuesday night and how embarrassing it would be if someone walked in and found me in this awkward position. But mostly I just had feelings of regret, mixed in with some hate directed toward you for dishing out terrible movie suggestions.
Do us all a favor and stick to fantasy sports. Speaking of, I’m currently sitting on Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and Nick Foles in one league. If they’re all looking like top-10 QBs in a couple weeks, what kind if haul could I get for trading one?
Admittedly, Jake is a friend and fellow co-worker, and I MIGHT have off-handedly remarked that I enjoyed Kristen Wiig’s performance. I can’t be sure; alcohol is a heck of a drug.
Atlanta’s diminished receiving crew curbs the appeal of Ryan, and while I stated my love for Foles above, doubtful this sentiment is universal. With an easy schedule and the past to back it up, Rivers has the most pull out of the group. In terms of trade targets, I would shoot for a third-tier RB like Chris Johnson or Trent Richardson, or WR3 like Hakeem Nicks. And while we’re here, in atonement, I do recommend catching The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. It’s lovely.
Fantasy Flyer: Jordan Reed, Washington
The rookie tight end has assimilated into the Washington offense quicker than imagined. Against Dallas, Reed saw the field in 56 of Washington’s 79 plays, dwarfing the snaps of supposed starter Fred Davis (19 plays). Reed responded with his best game as a pro, hauling in four grabs for 58 yards. Washington’s porous defense will translate to frequent scoreboard deficits, meaning Robert Griffin III and the offense will forego the run for the passing game. As a corollary, Reed should see a fair share of opportunities, putting him on your fantasy radar for Week 7.
This Week in BRENT CELEK
The Eagles got the W last week, but a rough personal outing for Celek, finishing with a lone catch. In his defense, Celek probably got distracted with what he thought was a trailer for Rocky VII, which, unfortunately, is something way, WAY worse.
Luckily, C-Note could be in for big things this week against a Dallas defense giving up the third-highest fantasy harvest to tight ends this season. In deeper leagues, Celek deserves a starting nod. 2013 stats: 11 catches, 188 yards, two touchdowns. Linebacker Body Count: Five
Personal Foul on: Joseph Fauria, Lions
I’m as much for artistry through dance as the next guy. But breaking out the Cabbage Patch? Pretty sure that set the touchdown celebration movement back 10 years. Somewhere, Chad Johnson is shedding a tear, although that could also derive from being reduced to filming low-budget films with Vinnie Jones. One of the two.
Gatorade Shower Goes to: Joseph Fauria, Lions
As much derision as Fauria deserves for those end-zone waltzes, I guess I would get jiggy wit it too if I was an undrafted rookie that just hit the Promised Land three times in a game. The kids still say “gettin’ jiggy wit it,” right?