In the first half of my Week 4 Risers and Fallers series, we will look at players (including my favorite rookie of 2014) who’s value is rising throughout the league and whether you should Buy, Sell or Hold them at their current value.
Blake Bortles, JAX:
Let the Bortles era begin! For those of you that know me, know how much I love this kid. We’ve know since the preseason how much better Bortles is to lead this young Jags offense and he has finally been given the opportunity to do so. In just one half of football on Sunday, Bortles accumulated 223 yards through the air with two touchdowns and two picks while adding 30 yards on the ground in two rushing attempts. Some starting quarterbacks wish they could be that productive in a full game, let alone a half. Yes, the passing stats came in a blowout where Bortles was forced to throw as much as he could, but it’s the Jaguars, he’s going to have to do that all year long. The talent will shine through as he grows rapport with Cecil Shorts and the stable of young guns the Jags have at wide receiver. BUY
Teddy Bridgewater, MIN:
Who would have thought we’d have two major QB prospects thrown into the fire this early on the same Sunday afternoon. Bridgewater doesn’t quite have the arm that Bortles does, but what he lacks in that area he makes up for it with accuracy and decisiveness. His ceiling is not as high, but I believe his floor is higher than that of Bortles. The unfortunate thing for Bridgewater is that without AP, and now Kyle Rudolph for at least six weeks, the weapons surrounding Teddy B won’t help his cause much. He’s a big time upgrade from the ineffective Matt Cassel, but this offense lacks the punch to make him worthy of anything more than a bench stash at this point. HOLD
Rashad Jennings, NYG:
Remember when Andre Williams was all but guaranteed to be the goal line back for the Giants? Yeah, me neither. Rashad has established himself as a true workhorse back, making plays in the passing game and dominating the goal line looks. Jennings shredded the Texans to a career day of 176 yards on 34 carries, leading the Giants to their first victory of the year. With the way the running back landscape is shaping out this season, there are few backs you can trust to run, catch, get goal line looks and produce on a week to week basis. With Eli’s inconsistencies, Jennings will be relied on heavily every week by Tom Coughlin. BUY
Le’Veon Bell, PIT:
Going against perhaps the top front seven in all of football, many believed the Le’Veon train would come to a screeching halt on Sunday night in Carolina. Bell had other ideas, gashing the Panthers D for 147 yards on 21 carries and adding a respectable two catches for 10 yards. Unlike Jennings, Bell has a legitimate running mate in his backfield in LaGarrette Blount (who also went over 100 yards against the Panthers) that will sap some of his massive upside. Blount will assuredly pilfer a few TDs over the course of the season, but Le’Veon will be in the running for most all purpose yards in 2014 as a matchup proof RB1. BUY
Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL:
It was just a matter of time before Taliaferro got his chance to shine. With Bernard Pierce out with a thigh injury, Taliaferro took over as the lead back and did not fail to impress. He ran north-south with physicality and looks like a tremendous fit for Kubiak’s system. With Bernard Pierce penciled in as the Ravens starting running back, Taliaferro could shorten the gap quickly by outplaying Pierce in Week 4, eventually taking over as the lead back for this year and possibly beyond. BUY, he’s the most talented back in Baltimore and will be given every opportunity to prove it from here on out.
Jordan Matthews, PHI:
After a quiet first two weeks, Jordan Matthews put his talent on full display with an eight catch performance, totaling 59 yards and two scores on Sunday. Matthews is as physically talented as any wideout in the 2014 class and is in a wonderful situation in Chip Kelly’s high octane offense. Like I mentioned last week in my Fallers list, rookie wideouts are going to struggle with consistency this season and the same will ring unfortunately true for Matthews. Until he overtakes Riley Cooper in two-wide sets, playing the guessing game for when Matthews will have a big week will be a gamble. If Cooper or Maclin miss a game or any extended period of time, Matthews will be immediately startable. BUY as a WR4 with upside for more as the season goes along and must handcuff for Maclin owners.
John Brown, ARI:
Another of my favorites from this rookie class, Brown has big play ability and seems to have a penchant for the endzone. I talked extensively about him in my preseason Watch List (link article). Brown has T.Y. Hilton/Mike Wallace top end speed and has already shown rapport with both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton in the early weeks of this season. Though the yardage totals are not quite as high as owners would like, Brown will keep improving and provide owners with solid production as a bye week fill-in. BUY as a WR4/5 with upside for more and a must handcuff to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Jeremy Maclin, PHI:
A week after having him in my Fallers column, Maclin made his way back up the board big time after his performance on Sunday. The biggest reason Maclin was included in the fallers list last week was because Foles simply could not get on the same page with Maclin. Well, they were clicking on Sunday and it looked good. Like I said last week, if these two get on the same page, Maclin could easily finish as a WR1 on the back of consistent 100+ yard games with at least a TD per game. He’s not as big of a deep threat as DeSean was last year in this offense, but he’s a better overall receiver who catches more balls. BUY BUY BUY
Martellus Bennett, CHI:
Not only has Bennett been a top 3 tight end so far this year, but he has also offered the most consistency so far by scoring at least one TD in all three of his games. Bennett has been used a lot as both a tight end and as the third receiver in three wide sets, allowing him extra routes and thus more targets. With Marshall’s ankle injury getting worse, Jay Cutler should rely on Bennett even more if Cutler’s favorite target misses time or is not at full health. BUY for the time being, but I would SELL high when Marshall returns to full health.
Owen Daniels, BAL:
With Dennis Pitta out for the year due to a hip injury (again), Owen Daniels will step right into Pitta’s starting role. Daniels and Kubiak have worked together for eight years with the Texans and have had a lot of success. Though the Ravens’ coaching staff has said they plan to use a committee to replace Pitta’s production, Daniels’ familiarity with Kubiak and his system will allow him every opportunity to gain Flacco’s trust and carve out a consistent role in the offense. He will not produce like a healthy Dennis Pitta, but he will have some nice games and be a serviceable backup on your fantasy team. BUY as a backup/bye week filler.