Part 2! I brought up some questions for the AFC teams earlier this week and here we'll take a look at some for their counterparts in the NFC. Again, I tried to pick one fantasy relevant topic for each team that hopefully a lot of owners will be looking at as we make our way through the rest of the NFL and fantasy football season. Here we go!
Chicago Bears: When will Alshon Jeffery get on the field and how good will he be?
Jeffery has been injured since the preseason and hasn't been able to get on the field at 100% yet. He's only managed to play in one game so far -- although he was still suffering from a nagging calf/hamstring injury -- in which he was targeted 11 times and caught 5 passes for 78 yards. With Jeffery out, the Bears' QBs have had to work with Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson as their top receivers and Martellus Bennett has been the top target overall at the TE spot. When Jeffery finally comes back, I'd expect him to be at full strength and to get a ton of targets, as we've seen Jay Cutler force the ball to his #1 WR plenty of times when he was playing with Brandon Marshall and Jeffery played well in the past when Marshall was out. It's been reported that Jeffery has been limited at practice this week, so it's a possibility we see him in Week 5. He's a Top-10 guy when he plays.
Detroit Lions: Will Ameer Abdullah be featured in the Lions' backfield and how valuable would that really make him?
Ameer Abdullah was one of the darlings of the preseason, as many expected him to make a big and immediate impact in the Lions' backfield. While Abdullah has looked like the best RB in Detroit (sorry Joique Bell), the Lions' run game and offense in general has not looked good. Abdullah got 15 total touches (13 rushes and 2 receptions) in Week 4 and although he didn't do much with them, I wouldn't be worried, as the Lions were playing against the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday night. If Abdullah can get somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 touches per game for the rest of the season, he'd definitely be a RB2 candidate or strong flex-play.
Green Bay Packers: Who's more valuable the reason of the season, James Jones or Davante Adams?
This has been a frustrating experience for any owners who drafted in the early-to-mid preseason. Jordy Nelson went down with a torn ACL and many expected second-year WR Davante Adams to step up and absorb a lot of his targets/production. Unfortunately, James Jones was signed right before the regular season started and it's all been downhill from there. Jones' chemistry with Aaron Rodgers has been apparent and he's tallied 17 catches on 21 targets for 317 yards and 4 TDs. Adams has only managed 9 catches on 15 targets for 92 yards and 0 TDs, although he has missed basically two full games due to an ankle injury. If and when Adams comes back at full strength, I think this situation will even out and both guys could be WR3s, but I think I'd rather have Jones for the rest of the season due to his obviously strong connection with Rodgers.
Minnesota Vikings: Is anybody in the Vikings' passing game worth owning?
The Vikings' passing "attack" has been pretty dreadful so far this season. While QB Teddy Bridgewater has completed 67% of his passes, he is only averaging 6.7 yards per attempt and has 2 TDs. Trendy break-out pick Charles Johnson has only gotten 8 TARGETS in three games...that's not good. Mike Wallace has been much better, with 20 catches on 24 targets for 233 yards, but he just got his first TD in Week 4. TE Kyle Rudolph has gotten almost as many targets as Wallace with 23, but he's only converted them into 14 catches for 104 yards and 1 TD. The Vikings' just aren't getting the ball downfield and Adrian Peterson has been carrying the offense. Wallace is a WR3, but If you're able to, stay away from the passing game until you see something more.
Dallas Cowboys: Which Dallas' running back will be the most valuable going forward?
I know, I know...the Christine Michael hype-train just never stops, does it? I'm not the conductor of that train, but I have to admit I'm interested to see if Michael gets a shot behind Dallas' offensive line. Joseph Randle has gotten the majority of work out of the backfield so far, as he has 59 rushes for 229 yards and 4 TDs. Randle looked amazing in the first half of Week 3 against the Falcons, but other than that he's been mediocre at best. Averaging 3.9 yards per carry running behind that offensive line just isn't going to cut it. If you need somebody to start right now you're obviously picking Randle, but if you have a bench spot and are able to stash a guy, Michael is definitely at the top of my list. He could payoff big down the line if the Cowboys are willing to give him a chance.
New York Giants: Are there any Giants' running backs worth starting? Or even owning?
The Giants' RBs have been anything but impressive so far, as the three main backs -- Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen -- have averaged 3.5 ypc, with Vereen being the best at 3.9. Also, all three have combined for only 3 total TDs (2 for Jennings, 1 for Williams). Jennings and Williams occupy the same role as a first- and second-down back and Jennings is able to catch the ball well enough to take some receptions away from Vereen. There's a chance that the Giants try to completely replace Jennings with Williams as the season goes on, but does that really matter if Williams just isn't any good? I want no part of this backfield.
Philadelphia Eagles: Will DeMarco Murray regain (even partially) his form?
So I guess the grass isn't greener on the other side...To say the Murray has been a disappointment would be vastly understating it, as he's only managed 29 rushing attempts for 1.6 ypc through three games. Yes, you read that right, 1.6 yards per carry! He managed to save his fantasy day in Week 1 with both a rushing and receiving touchdown, but has left fantasy owners with nothing else to show for making him a first- or second-round draft pick. The other every-down type RB in Philadelphia, Ryan Mathews, has actually looked good when given a decent workload, as he put up 108 yards on 24 rushes in Week 3 when Murray was out with an injury. If you have Murray, you can't trade him because you won't get anything worthwhile in return. You also can't start him due to how he's played so far in head coach Chip Kelly's system. This may not all be on Murray, as Sam Bradford has been up and down and the offensive line has looked ugly most of the time. Unfortunately, that won't put fantasy points back onto your scoreboard. This is a bad situation right now.
Washington Redskins: Who's the best Redskins' running back going forward, Alfred Morris or Matt Jones?
Wow, those NFC East RB situations, right? A few weeks ago, everyone was jumping on the Matt Jones bandwagon after he ran for 123 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries against St. Louis in Week 2. The next game, Jones fumbled the ball when going in for a score late in the game and it just seems like the Redskins decided that he wasn't ready to be the guy based on that one play. Alfred Morris put up a nice Week 1 line of 121 yards on 25 carries and has at least 17 rushing attempts in three of four games this season. However, besides that first game, Morris has averaged only 3.4 ypc and has yet to score a touchdown. I think Washington's coaches will decide that while Jones might not be as reliable as Morris, his playmaking ability has a chance to win them some games in a winnable division. If I had to pick a guy between the two, it's Jones. You know what you're getting in Morris, but Jones could be something special if he takes the reigns sometime during the season.
Atlanta Falcons: What's going to happen to the Falcons' backfield when Tevin Coleman gets healthy?
Devonta Freeman has lit the fantasy football world on fire in the past two weeks, running the ball 44 times for 209 yards and 6 TDs, as well as catching 10 passes for 133 yards. He's basically scored all of his points during those two weeks (except for a touchdown in Week 2), but has still managed to be the top scorer at RB so far this season. Rookie RB Tevin Coleman looked to have a solid grasp on the running back job prior to getting injured, as he had 20 carries in Week 1 for 80 yards and got another 9 attempts for 32 yards and 1 TD in Week 2 prior to getting injured. At this point, no matter how much they like Coleman, I don't think the Falcons' coaching staff can relegate Freeman back to the pass-catching and change of pace guy. There might be more of an even split once Coleman is ready to return, but I'd count on Freeman getting more touches until he proves he shouldn't.
Carolina Panthers: Can Cam Newton keep up his pace with limited weapons?
Cam Newton has been getting great numbers for fantasy owners, and is the #4 QB in standard fantasy leagues up to this point. While he's only been completing 55% of his passes, Newton has been able to pile up 7 passing TDs to only 2 INTs, not to mention almost 200 yards and another 2 TDs on the ground. All this has been without a real #1 WR or possibly even a #2, as Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey "Philly" Brown have been the starters so far, with rookie Devin Funchess not having an impact so far. TE Greg Olsen is by far the best weapon in the passing game and even he has only had one great game and another decent one out of four. The Panthers' running game has been lackluster as well, as starter Jonathan Stewart hasn't really been able to get anything going. From my perspective, all of these things are good signs for Cam, because the offense should get better as the year goes on and he could put up even more numbers. He's definitely an every week starter at this point.
New Orleans Saints: What has happened to Brandin Cooks?
After the preseason, I don't think I was the only fantasy owners who was excited about Brandin Cooks' potential in the Saints' offense. Unfortunately, it just hasn't worked out for any fantasy owners who have a piece of New Orleans' offense, minus Mark Ingram. Drew Brees is completing almost 69% of his passes and has 969 yards through the air, but has only managed 4 TDs and has 2 INTs. Cooks has gotten 31 targets so far, which is nothing to sneeze at as almost 8 targets per game, but I think we expected him to get even more in a Saints' offense that lost Jimmy Graham and has no other great options. The problem is that he just isn't getting much out of it, as he has 20 catches for 215 yards and no TDs. The more I see him play, the more it just makes me think that he won't be a #1 WR in the NFL. I'm not saying that I 100% believe that, just that it's a possibility. If you're a Cooks owner (and I'm one of you) you're very disappointed so far.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Who would you rather own for the rest of the season, Mike Evans or Vincent Jackson?
Alright, so this is an easy question for the vast majority of fantasy owners, as Mike Evans is the younger and more explosive option at this point in their respective careers. Evans has only played in three games so far and 25 of his 28 targets have come in the last two, as he was basically a decoy in Week 2. Despite those 25 targets the past two weeks, Evans has only managed 10 catches for 133 yards and has no TDs. It's just a matter of time before he gets into the end-zone on a regular basis. Counterpart Vincent Jackson has gotten 35 targets up to this point for 19 catches, 292 yards and 2 TDs. Both WRs are dealing with a rookie QB in Jameis Winston that has been inconsistent, so hopefully he'll improve as the season goes on. Evans should be the better guy through the rest of the season, but I think it's closer than most people think
Arizona Cardinals: What should we make of the Cardinals' backfield?
What's that? Chris Johnson is a usable option in fantasy again? What has the world come to!? After starter Andre Ellington went down with an injury (again), Johnson has managed 302 rushing yards and 2 TDs with a 4.4 ypc average. He's gotten at least 10 carries in each game and we know that Ellington has a lengthy injury history already. Even when he's able to come back, I'd expect Ellington to be worked in slowly and to be more of a change of pace guy. Unfortunately, rookie David Johnson occupies a similar space in the offense and has played well with limited touches. If there was one guy in this offense he'd almost be a RB1 by default, but there's just no way to know what's going to happen once all three guys are back on the field again. It's just an unfortunate situation for fantasy owners because there's no right answer right now.
San Francisco 49ers: Should you be starting any 49ers on a weekly basis?
The 49ers offense has been horrific besides Carlos Hyde in Week 1 and Colin Kaepernick's junk time stats in Week 2. Since his Week 1 explosion, Hyde has been bad, as he's only had 36 rushing attempts for 2.9 ypc. It hasn't been all Hyde's fault, because the 49ers have been in comeback mode for the past three games and I don't think teams are scared of Kaepernick throwing the ball. If you have Hyde you almost have to start him as a RB2, but you don't feel good about it right now. Kaepernick has been atrocious and there's no way you're starting him, even as a bye week fill-in. Free agent addition Torrey Smith had one 75-yard TD catch in Week 2 against the Steelers in junk time, but other than that he's been invisible. Anquan Boldin is the most consistent option in the passing game but he's only got 15 catches in four games and TE Vernon Davis only has 8. You just can't start anyone in this offense right now except Hyde, and you shouldn't even do that if you have a better option.
Seattle Seahawks: Can Seattle get Jimmy Graham more involved in the offense?
Jimmy Graham was one of the biggest trade acquisitions in recent memory, but there were many who wondered how he would fit into the Seahawks' run-heavy offense. So far the results haven't been great, as Graham has totaled 23 targets for 18 receptions, 174 yards and 2 TDs. It's looked like the Seahawks and Russell Wilson just aren't worried about making him the focal point in the offense and although he's better than the tight-ends they've had in the past, I don't see them completely changing the offense mid-season to better fit him. Even in the red-zone, where Graham should dominate, the Seahawks like to run the ball, limiting his opportunities. Graham was the #1 option in the Saints' passing game when he was in New Orleans and he was great in that offense, but I just don't see Seattle changing the way they do things to give him better numbers. I wouldn't expect a big jump in numbers as the season goes on.
St. Louis Rams: How good is Todd Gurley going to be for the rest of the season?
Todd Gurley officially made his entrance onto the NFL stage last week, as he ran for over 100 yards in the 4th quarter against the Cardinals to help seal the win for St. Louis. Gurley got 19 carries for 146 yards (7.7 ypc!) in the win and just got stronger as the game went on, as he wore down the Arizona defense. The fact that Tre Mason has looked unimpressive so far helps Gurley owners, as he should be the feature back from this point forward. St. Louis' schedule isn't terrific for the rest of the season, but it's not horrible either and I think Gurley is going to turn into one of those guys that you start regardless of match-up. For the rest of the season, I think Gurley could be a Top-10 RB, especially with guys like C.J. Anderson, DeMarco Murray and Marshawn Lynch disappointing greatly so far.