Sometimes, reality gets flipped on its head. You might not get a forewarning. It just happens. And suddenly, there is an aftermath that in no way resembles the previous norm.
Sometimes, we can identify this flip instantly. Other times, we might disregard this new reality, expecting it to change back, to become normal again. Sometimes, we are wrong.
Just like back to when things were “normal,” say, 2015. When Tom Brady was among the top touchdown passers, and Drew Brees the yardage leader, and Devonta Freeman was one of the top fantasy running backs. … Hmmm. Maybe it isn’t as different as it seems.
Wait … in 2015 we had a dynamic, dab-happy personality who dominated the landscape. His name was Cam Newton. He had become everything the Panthers dreamed of when they drafted him with the top pick in 2011. He was throwing darts downfield, was scrambling for big gains, was involved in the running game, was leading the highest-scoring offense in the league. He was Superman.
Maybe Newton never watched the 1980 classic “Superman II.” If you lose your super powers, you can gain them back if you just reverse the effect of the Molecule Chamber. Duh!?!
Newton has lost his power. Whether it is because of his offseason shoulder surgery, or if he rushed back, or the resulting rustiness, he is now just Clark Kent getting beat up in a diner on a weekly basis. But this goes beyond just injury recovery or rust.
Newton never has been good in the pocket, and now he doesn’t scramble, he just stands in the pocket waiting to overthrow a receiver or get sacked. He never was accurate, and now he doesn’t run or scramble.
If all he does is pass, who are his targets? Kelvin Benjamin looks like a JAG (just another guy). Tight end Greg Olsen is out. Devin Funchess looks like a bust. Newton never has been a checkdown guy, but his best option now is rookie running back Christian McCaffrey open in the flat, waiting to be overthrown.
This is an offense in disarray. Yet, many fantasy owners will be honing in on a juicy matchup with the league-worst Patriots pass defense. But the Madman asks: Even though the Patriots can’t cover anybody, does it matter, since the opposing quarterback can’t hit an open receiver?
He has two TD passes in three games, which ranks 29th. That is behind Case Keenum, Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston (who all have started just two games) and also Sam Bradford (who has played in just one). His four interceptions are tied for second-most.
Don’t be fooled by a good matchup. This offense couldn’t get anything done against the woebegone Saints last week, at home. The Saints have no defense. Even a bad Patriots defense is better than no defense. With the exception of McCaffrey, bench your Panthers, and start with Newton.
Trevor Siemian QB, Broncos, vs. Raiders (FanDuel $7,500/DraftKings $5,200)
Raiders have allowed five passing TDs over the past two weeks. Siemian has been much better at home — six TDs in two games.
Jay Cutler QB, Dolphins, vs. Saints (FD $7,300/DK $5,800)
Our trust in the deficiencies of the Saints’ defense outweighs our distrust in Cutler. Not worried about solid Saints D game last week, since we don’t consider the Panthers a viable pass offense.
Chris Carson RB, Seahawks, vs. Colts (FD $6,600/DK $5,400)
The unquestioned lead guy in what was a muddled backfield to start the season. Could (should?) be a blowout, so he has a high volume opportunity.
Jared Cook TE, Raiders, at Broncos (FD $5,500/DK $3,400)
Considering the strengths of the Denver defense are the pass rush and cornerbacks, the most likely open targets will come elsewhere. Not high on Raiders offense this week, with Cook an exception.
Kirk Cousins QB, Redskins, at Chiefs (FD $7,500/DK $6,500)
We always keep a second QB option handy if we have guys like Cousins, so we can bench him on the road against one of the tougher pass defenses.
Ben Roethlisberger QB, Steelers, at Ravens (FD $7,800/DK $6,000)
The Ravens have contributed significantly to Big Ben’s poor home/road splits. In nine career games at Baltimore: eight TDs, 12 INTs, 242 average yards per game.
Wendell Smallwood RB, Eagles, at Chargers (FD $5,300/DK $4,100)
Yes, he was a smart waiver grab with Darren Sproles out, but use the “show me” test before you play him. Unless you’re desperate, make him burn you one week before you use him.
T.Y. Hilton WR, Colts, at Seahawks (FD $7,000/DK $5,300)
For one week, he made you forget Andrew Luck was out. But on the road, with an inexperienced QB, against a solid pass defense? Hard pass.
Post fantasy Madman Drew Loftis and Roto Rage Jarad Wilk debate whom you should start this week:
Joe Mixon vs. Christian McCaffrey
Drew: Mixon — Over the first two weeks, the rookie got 42 percent of the backfield workload on the ground. Last week, the first under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Mixon jumped to a 64 percent share — with 18 carries to a combined 10 from Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Against the Browns, we expect him to do better than the 3.4 yards per carry he averaged against the Packers. Cleveland’s run D stats are a mirage — with their two solid outings coming against a nonexistent Colts ground game and a limited Le’veon Bell against the Steelers in Week 1.
Jarad: McCaffrey — Mixon doing better than 3.4 yards per carry may be a big ask against a defense allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. I would rather have McCaffery going against a Patriots defense allowing 5.1 yards per carry (second worst in the NFL) and the second-most receiving yards to running backs. Oh, and they’ve also allowed the most receiving touchdowns to RBs this season, too. With Greg Olsen out, Kelvin Benjamin dinged up and their top option being Devin Funchess, McCaffery is going to see a lot of action, especially when the Panthers are trailing (another time the Panthers have already shown they like using the rookie RB).
Last week: Drew 12.1 (DeSean Jackson — 4-84 receiving, one TD), Jarad 5.0 (Martavis Bryant — 2-30 receiving)
Season: Drew leads series, 2-1
of the Week
Streaming Ds of the Week
Patriots (vs. Panthers), Falcons (vs. Bills), Buccaneers (vs. Giants)
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