We’re a quarter of the way through the 2014 fantasy football season and the dust is starting to settle. Not to make excuses for myself for less than stellar predictions I’ve had in the past, but finding trends with just a week or two sample size is largely inaccurate. Now that we’ve seen a fair amount of football, we can (hopefully) start to make more accurate predictions.
Actually, forget I said that. I don’t want that kind of pressure. Let’s just get to this week’s risers and fallers. As always, use these general shifts in player production to guide you in waiver wire pickups, and buy low/sell high prospects:
Larry Donnell, TE, New York Giants
Donnell had huge fantasy production last week hauling in three touchdown passes from brother Eli. Oddly enough, he was such a shocker that even he didn’t use himself in fantasy football last week. He now has 25 catches for 256 yards and four TDs on the season. The Giants offense has shown some really nice signs of coming together in the past two weeks. That, combined with Donnell’s insane size make him a reliable redzone target for the remainder of the season. He’s worth rostering in every league.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Not surprisingly, Manning also makes an appearance on the risers list this week for much of the same reason. No, not his insane size, but the fact that everyone on offense has started to gel and Eli looks like he’s finally grasping the new offensive schemes in New York. He’s no QB1, but Eli is certainly been worlds better in weeks 3 and 4 than he was in weeks 1 and 2. Like, it’s been night and day. If you have a shaky QB at the helm right now, considering Eli as your QB2 is far from a crazy idea.
Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers
Wow, does the Chargers passing offense look good. So good, in fact, that the all-but-forgotten Eddie Royal is rising from the grave to resurrect his career. In the past two weeks, Royal has four touchdown catches. The Chargers also don’t have much of a running game at the moment, so the emphasis will be even more on the passing attack for the next few weeks. Royal certainly won’t be hauling in two TDs per game for the whole season, but he seems like a solid bet going forward nonetheless.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Baltimore Ravens
In the wake of Ray Rice’s departure, the running back situation in Baltimore was fluid and changing week by week. Fantasy owners had to contend with Bernard Pierce constantly being the injured starter stealing carries, and then Justin Forsett showed some life and it looked like he might take over the feature back role, and now the pendulum has swung to Taliaferro, the guy many analysts pegged to step up all along. In the past two weeks, Taliaferro has 15 and 18 carries respectively and has scored a touchdown in each game. The primary running back position looks like it’s his to lose at this point.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
There’s no two ways about it: Shady has been awful this year. In the past two weeks, he almost has as many carries as he does yards. 29 carries for 41 yards is not what fantasy owners expected when they drafted the 2013 league leader in rushing yards. The problem, however, is not McCoy, it’s the Eagles’ O-Line which has been decimated by injuries. They’ll be getting their two starting tackles back in week 5 which should help, but the entire interior of the line is still a mess. If there’s any silver lining it’s this: Darren Sproles has not been stealing touches like many people feared and this is still a Chip Kelly offense. One of the most innovative offensive minds in football should be able to find a way to use his best player.
Chris Johnson, RB, New York Jets
CJ2K hasn’t existed for a long time, but the move the New York brought a little hope that he could be a productive RB2 for fantasy owners. This has even proven too much for the shell of a running back Johnson is now. What started out as a timeshare with Chris Ivory that favored Johnson has completely done a 180, with Ivory now seeing the bulk of the carries. Fantasy owners probably can’t expect anything more than a weak flex play from Johnson here on out.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Before we get into this one, let me just saw I have more faith in a quick Newton turnaround than anyone on this list, even McCoy. With that said, Newton has certainly been a disappointment so far this year. His passing has been on point, no complaints there. The problem lies with Cam Newton the runner and that’s the guy who brings fantasy owners the most success. Whether it is because of his ribs or his ankle, through three games this season (he missed week 1), Newton has only took off running eight times and hasn’t cracked the endzone once. Perhaps a weak Bears D in week 5 will help turn things around, but until they do, Newton is nothing more than a matchup play.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
We end week 5’s risers and fallers list with a repeat offender. Making an appearance on week 3’s fallers list as well, Lacy still continues to sink into the abyss of disappointment. His latest crime was failing to show us anything against a weak Bears defence in week 4. This was supposed to be his redemption game, his coming out party after a slew of tough defenses and a concussion to start the season. Instead, he posted a mediocre 48 yards on 17 carries. Lacy owners should be concerned.