Each week, TSN.ca Fantasy Editor Scott Cullen, NFL Editor Ben Fisher, and Isaac Owusu discuss three hot fantasy football topics.
How good could Josh Gordon be matched with a competent quarterback?
Cullen: Considering how well Gordon is playing with mediocre quarterbacks, it's not unreasonable to think that he would be the most productive receiver in football if given a top-tier starting quarterback but, the truth is, Gordon is not that far off as it is. Gordon is already averaging a league-leading 124.9 receiving yards per game and his 19.5 yards per catch ranks second only to the Saints' Kenny Stills (20.6), who is strictly a deep threat. Gordon catches a higher percentage of his targets (64 of 113 – 56.6%) than Detroit's Calvin Johnson (72 for 132 – 54.5%), who holds the title as the league's best wide receiver now so the only thing that would really work in his favour with a better quarterback might be more opportunities to score.
Fisher: Gordon is the second-leading fantasy receiver despite missing the first two games to injury so there's not much room for improvement. The former second round supplemental pick gets thrown to a lot in Cleveland; with a better QB comes also a better offence so Gordon could conceivably see his targets decrease, but that better offence would also lend to more scoring opportunities. I'll stop short of putting Gordon on Megatron's level just yet, but teams are definitely kicking themselves for not pulling the trigger when the Browns made Gordon available earlier this season. The guy is a stud regardless of who's throwing him the ball
Owusu: Without question, Josh Gordon has moved himself into high WR1 status. His fortune has come simply by being the only dependable option in an offense that has no choice but to throw the ball. Going into next season Gordon will be viewed as what Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones and A.J Green were heading into this year, another party in the battle for who will be the second best receiver in fantasy, behind Calvin Johnson, who is in a tier of his own. Considering that the Browns' best RB option is either probably Chris Ogbonnaya or Willis McGahee, and the team has had three barely average quarterbacks passing Gordon the ball with all the defensive attention placed on him, he has played out of his mind. Like a true WR1, Gordon is matchup-proof a target machine. If the Browns can pair him up with a decent passer on a full-time basis Gordon should be the second WR drafted next year in fantasy based on the fact that there really just isn't a major weapon in that offense that could bite into his production like Marshall, Jones and Green have to deal with.
Can Nick Foles be a future Top 5 fantasy QB?
Cullen: Top five is too high for me. For one thing, he's not going to forever throw touchdown passes without ever throwing an interception, but if we presume that Foles becomes more comfortable with more reps as the Eagles' starter, I can buy him as a consistent fantasy starter. Maybe, as the older guys – Manning, Brady, Brees (even Romo and Roethlisberger too) – either slow down or move on, maybe Foles could creep into the Top Five at that point, but I guess you could say that I like, instead of love, Foles.
Fisher: Foles' average numbers this season would have him ranked among the best fantasy QBs this season and he's being mentioned as finalist for Peyton Manning's MVP award this year. His numbers suggest he's a Top 5 at least, but can he be trusted to continue putting up these numbers on a consistent basis? I don't think Foles will be susceptible to the same “sophomore slump” as other second-year starters because there's nothing too revolutionary about his game that defences will eventually adjust to. Still, there's a few too many QBs I trust more than Foles (Manning, Brady, Rodgers…) to make him a Top 5 right away. I'd be comfortable picking him as a QB1 next year however.
Owusu: Yes! It appears that Nick Foles has finally gained that vote of confidence from head coach Chip Kelly, and that goes a long way. Foles plays in an offence that is spoiled with riches: tons of weapons, a dangerous running back an aggressive coach, and they play in the NFC East! the perfect recipe for quarterbacking success. Since taking over as Philadelphia Eagles' starter, Foles has launched the ball vertically downfield at a ridiculous rate, in fact he's tied for second with Drew Brees in 40 yard pass completions with 11, only behind Peyton Manning's 12. It's all crazy considering that Foles only has 6 starts this season and zero interceptions. Foles' consistency and grasp of the Eagles offence makes it apparent that he's poised to join the tier of top 5 fantasy QBs consisting of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Which rookie runner have you been more impressed by: Eddie Lacy or Le'Veon Bell?
Cullen: I'm going with Lacy, though Aaron Rodgers' recent absence shows just how much respect for the Packers' passing game helped Lacy churn out yards earlier in the year. Generally, I've been a little down on Bell because he averages only 3.3 yards per carry, but he augments his rushing totals with some decent receiving numbers (33 REC, 319 YDS). Some of that is obviously due to a subpar Pittsburgh offensive line and the circumstances surrounding each back makes it a closer call, but I still side with Lacy.
Fisher: This is a tossup. Lacy and Bell have near identical average numbers in both scores and total yards. Lacy has averaged more yards on the ground but Bell makes up for it through the air. But while the two are near identical now I think Bell will finish the season with the better average numbers. Lacy will struggle along with the rest of the Packers' offence while Aaron Rodgers recovers from his shoulder injury and Bell is the slightly better option in PPR leagues.
Owusu: It's been fairly close, but between the two of them Lacy has showed that he is the guy you'd want to have as your RB1 in all formats. Bell is solid and does contribute in the Steelers offense but his role on his team is not as prominent as Lacy's. It's been clear all season that Mike McCarthy wants to ease the workload from Aaron Rodgers, (or whoever else is tossing the ball around for Green Bay) and Lacy has responded well to the call. Consistency and usage are what make an RB1 valuable, and for Lacy, in 7/11 games that he played, he's amassed at least 20+ rush attempts, while Bell only has 2/9 games where he's actually gone for over 20+ carries. Lacy also already has three 100-yard rushing games, to Bell's zero. Both RBs have been steady with their production but Lacy has shown that the design of the Packers offense has called for more production out of him and he has delivered.