Week 12: PPR Watch
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Confident - It's hard not to feel pretty confident about Blackmon at this point in the season. While it's pretty safe to assume Houston was mostly caught off guard (and we've seen Chad Henne have big games before only to follow them up with duds), it is clear that Jacksonville is committed to throwing the football. As I mentioned last week, Jag receivers have been top 15 in targets over the past 5 weeks, with Shorts and Blackmon leading the way. Blackmon has been targeted on average 8 times a week over that span, and was in on 80% of the offensive snaps in week 11. With Robinson done for the year on IR, the opportunity for both should remain substantial. Tennessee is better than people think against the pass, but certainly not a matchup to avoid. Blackmon should be a solid WR3 or Flex this week, and the rest of the season.
Confident - For a position that has been reinvented to become an offensive powerhouse, TE has sure been remarkably unreliable for fantasy purposes. With Gronk now lost until the end of the season, the situation is even worse for owners; playing the matchups is really the best bet. Enter Jermaine Gresham. The Raiders have no particular weakness against the TE position, they defend it just as well as they defend wide receivers and running backs. Fortunately, "just as well", also means terribly. Gresham's been fairly consistent so far this year, the epitome of "high floor, low ceiling", he's averaged 4-5 catches a game, 50 yards, and the occasional TD. He's far from a sure thing, but you can start him with confidence.
Confident - To me, Hillman is one of the most exciting pickups of the year. A rookie with good patience that can run between the tackles and is deceptively quick. He's on a balanced offense and he's had 10 games to learn the system and slowly see his role increase. Now he has the chance to take the next step, and as long as he can pass protect, he should get plenty of opportunity. Lance Ball's role is a minor concern, but Hillman got twice the number of carries last week, and Ball lost a fumble. Considering McGahee had already lost 4 this year without any demotion, that doesn't seem to be a huge problem for the Denver coaching staff. At this point I have to think this is Hillman's job to lose. KC is an excellent matchup, and I expect Hillman to have a great second half after the Broncos have built up a big lead. Not only is he a great pickup this week, but a solid RB2 play as well.
Caution - Consider this a downgrade. I liked Hartline a lot earlier in the year, and own him in several leagues. He's not an elite receiving talent, but he has been a pretty reliable flex even if he hasn't come close to reproducing his 212 yard week 4 effort. Unfortunately, the Dolphins offense has been terrible in recent weeks, and seem to be growing worse every Sunday. Tannehill has thrown only 3 touchdowns to WRs all season and the running game (once the strength of the team) has only 283 yards rushing in the past 4 games after starting the year with 700 yards and 6 TDs in the first 6 games. Tannehill has thrown for only 666 yards 2 TDs and 5 INTs in the same 4 games. When you add in the fact that Seattle is allowing the 3rd fewest points to WRs, it is pretty hard to see a scenario where Hartline has a big week. He will probably catch 4 or 5 passes, but the ceiling is too low to be a quality starter.
Caution - After a big week 11, Edelman was a highly sought after waiver pickup. Who wouldn't want a receiver on the field for 85% of the snaps in this highly ranked NE offense? In addition to his 5 catches on 7 targets for 58 yards and TD, he tacked on a 47 yard run and a special teams TD as well. There are a lot of things in Edelman's favor: Gronk's injury, reduced playing time for Lloyd, and Branch's release. On the other hand, Hernandez will be back this week, and NE will be on the road against the NY Jets on short rest. NE regularly expands and contracts the roles of certain players in certain matchups, and before week 11, Edelman was seeing just 35% of the snaps. I'm not convinced Lloyd's role will remain reduced to the extent that it was forever, and the Jets defense is still one of the best in the league against opposing wideouts. When they played in week 7, Brady completed just 14 passes for 117 yards and 0 TDs to WRs, doing most of their damage with the TEs. Edelman has upside, I just wouldn't force him into your lineup if you already have 3 quality every week starters, or players with similar skill and a better matchup.