Written By: Josh Crocker – Follow Josh on Twitter @jccrocker
– Ladarius Green @ BUF –
If you haven’t already stashed Ladarius, you may not be too late. His ownership is only around 35%, but he’s not available in any of my leagues. Last week we saw something of a coming out party with Green attracting 11 targets and hauling in 6 of them for 110 yards and a TD. There aren’t a lot of other great options in this Steeler’s offense, outside of Brown and Bell. Ladarius was still out snapped by James, but I’m not sure we care at this point. Green is being targeted on over half of his snaps with a Hog Rate of 58.8% per playerprofiler.com. That’s just out of this world. Greg Olsen, for some perspective, has a Hog Rate of 12.4%. Travis Kelce has been red hot and seeing more targets than ever and has a Hog Rate of 14%. There is some skew in that based on the fact that the Steelers have really been limiting his snaps. Kelce and Olsen both play line up for almost every play, but if you’re getting 11 targets, not much else matters, especially when they’re of the variety that get you 110 yards on 6 catches.
The Bills haven’t really been a TE funnel. They’ve given up big games to big names like Graham and Gronkowski, but they’ve also kept guys like McDonald and Eifert quiet. If you’re buying shares in Ladarius I think you’re really hoping that he can transcend match-up dependency. We’re going to see, and so far it looks good, but he’s not in the TE hall of fame yet.
The game should be fairly opportunity rich with an over-under of 47 points. The spread calls for a close game with a spread of 1.5. I hope it lives up to those expectations. Buffalo tends not to allow a lot of passing yards or attempts against, but I expect the Steelers to do Steeler things.
– Vance McDonald v NYJ –
The silver lining of the Chicago blizzard game may have been that in the 9 pass attempts the 49ers made, Vance was targeted 4 times. And, while the Jets are not a particularly fun opponent to play a QB against. TE’s have fared better, scoring 3.4 points above their averages. We just saw Dwayne Allen catch up on TD’s for the year against them. Dominique Sims of the Miami Dolphins had 42 and a TD against them, and they’ve played a lot of teams that don’t really utilize a TE.
The nice thing about Vance is that his role in SF isn’t really a conventional TE role. He’s practically the WR 2 on that team and I might be understating it. He has the ability to bust a big play against defenses that are preoccupied with a rushing QB, definitely not a catch the ball and fall down guy. He still has the league’s best Target Premium numbers for a TE, adding more than any other to the chances he gets.
We aren’t expecting a big day for the scoreboard here, which may limit the upside of Mr. McDonald. However, the weather is supposed to be cloudy at worst with less than a 20% chance of wet stuff falling from the sky. I think Kaep gets things back on track in this game, and I think Vance comes with him.
– Jermaine Gresham @ MIA –
This is the state of affairs in Arizona. Bruce Arians has had to resort to calling plays for TE Jermaine Gresham. I bet he hates it. It certainly is not the trademark down the field style that we’ve been getting from the Cards in the most recent years but when your offensive line can’t protect your aging QB long enough for those types of routes to develop, this is what you do. I like the way that Gresham is being used in this offense. He’s getting targets, 5.5 per game. He has also had 30 or more yards in his last 5 games with 2 TD’s along the way. The yards aren’t exciting, but they’re a floor and that might be what you need these closing weeks.
Miami was kind enough to allow Mr. Pitta to score 2 TD’s on your grandmother’s hips. Vance had 60 yards against them. TE’s in general have scored 3.7 fantasy points above their averages lining up against this secondary. It makes a lot of sense to me that Gresham could slide past a defense facing the Cardinals. Top priority would have to be given to stopping David Johnson, then you have Fitzgerald to worry about. Gresham seems like the guy on this team that you leave open and just say “we’re going to make this guy beat us”. I don’t think that bodes terribly well for the Cardinals, resting their hopes on a very average TE, but I’ll take any points that come along the way.
Written By: Josh Crocker – Josh can be found on Twitter @jccrocker