Patrick Daugherty: Which newly-minted fantasy option do you think is going to make a difference for your teams during the fantasy playoffs? C.J. Anderson? Latavius Murray? Jonas Gray? Cecil Shorts? Mark Sanchez?
Someone I’m excited about for maybe the first time in re-draft in Kenny Stills. He was already quietly averaging 4.4 catches on 5.4 targets over his past five games, and now is someone the Saints need to step up in the absence of Brandin Cooks. Drew Brees badly needs a downfield threat, and we know that’s an element Stills can provide. He’s in a great Week 12 spot against a Ravens secondary trotting out Lardarius Webb (banged up and struggling), Anthony Levine (converted safety) and Danny Gorrer (waiver claim) at cornerback.
Evan Silva: Yeah I'm excited about Kenny Stills, too. He's really the only Saints receiver left capable of both taking the top off and working underneath. I think he has a fast finish with a lot higher floor than he had before, and the upside never went away.
We should probably talk about Latavius Murray. His build and running style are similar to DeMarco Murray's. We always knew he had great athleticism — he's a SPARQ freak — and it was just a matter of Murray getting opportunities, to really see whether he could play. He pretty clearly can. He's now got well over twice as many yards as Maurice Jones-Drew on about a third of the carries. I think Murray hit 22 MPH on his 90-yard TD run against Kansas City. He ran 4.38 coming out of UCF, which is freakazoid stuff at 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds.
The Raiders don't have an easy run-defense schedule down the stretch, facing the Rams, 49ers, Chiefs and Bills in the final four weeks of the fantasy season. Murray has demonstrated enough big-play ability that he could still be useful in any of those games if the coaching staff cooperates and gives him a significant workload.
Latavius Murray and Marcel Reece are the two best options in the Raiders' backfield. I'm not sure it's even close. And this isn't recency bias talking. I think we could have told you that in about Week 3 or sooner.
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Adam Levitan: I'm sick over not owning C.J. Anderson in more spots. I know Evan was among the people beating the drum for this kid as the one who should be Montee Ball's backup in the preseason and we're seeing why. An ability to play well in the pass game is so massive when you're lining up next to Peyton Manning. With Ronnie Hillman (foot) out a month and Montee Ball unable to even last a few plays before re-popping his groin, this is CJA's job.
I also love to watch all the hot takes and recency bias on Mark Sanchez. Before the Carolina game, he was the "butt fumbler" who "couldn't beat out Geno Smith." Then he goes berserk and "he's an All-Pro!" Then he struggles at Lambeau and everyone hates him again. It's comical. In this Chip Kelly God of Offense scheme, Sanchez is going to stuff the box score. He's going to light Tennessee on fire Sunday, rip Dallas twice and be a fine QB1 against the Redskins in fantasy's Super Bowl week. The only spot I'd want a backup plan is Week 14 against Seattle.
As for Kenny Stills, I really hope you guys are right and he's used as both a deep threat and on more high-percentage routes now. As I mentioned in Waiver Wired, he was quietly awesome as a rookie in terms of efficiency. I'm just slightly wary that Sean Payton will fill the Brandin Cooks' role in other ways.
Ryan McDowell: I agree completely on Anderson. With Ball struggling on the field and with injuries, he’s basically having a lost season. While Hillman was solid, it seems that Anderson is better in pass protection and just as good handling the ball.
I also have concerns about Stills. I don’t see him ever being a reliable option on a weekly basis. Pat made the point on Faked Goods, and I agree, this team really needs Pierre Thomas back. I’d expect even more targets for Jimmy Graham and maybe even Marques Colston ahead of Stills.
As for Murray, assuming he will be the bell cow the rest of the season is giving the Raiders too much credit. After all, it took them this long to even give him an extended look. Hopefully, he gets/stays healthy and they don’t let MJD touch the ball again this year, while giving Murray the large majority of the touches. I’m not sure he’ll be able to stay on the field under those circumstances, but they need to find out before the season ends.
Patrick Daugherty: Ryan, definitely feel that way about Thomas, but I think his return could also help Stills. He’s going to occupy attention underneath. That’s something that’s been sorely missing for the Saints during his absence. Everything underneath gets rolled toward Jimmy Graham. Now defenses will have to account for two short-to-intermediate monsters, giving Stills a little freer rein on the outside. It’s not like I’m expecting Stills to explode, but I really think he’ll be a solid WR3.
I think even the Raiders know the score with Murray. He embarrassed them last night, but they’ll take it. Darren McFadden rushed 12 times for 29 yards against the Chiefs. MJD three for -1. They’re going to be champing at the bit to see what Murray can do. I think he has wildly-high upside down the stretch, but safely, I’ll call him a top-24 back, a low-end RB2.