Week 12 Believe It or Not: Add Taylor Gabriel, start Tyreek Hill and bench Jay Ajayi?
It's too late for patience. You need to win now or kiss your season goodbye. Our Heath Cummings says that calls for some rash decisions.
We don't have time to be patient anymore. It's time to react fast because most teams have one week of regular season left and it may be the week that determines their fate.
So when wide receivers break out with multiple touchdowns we have to make an instant reaction as to what it means moving forward. At the same time, when past breakouts begin to struggle we have to quickly decide how long to stick with them.
We'll discuss that and more in this week's Believe It or Not.
The huge difference between Matt Ryan in 2016 and years past is that Ryan doesn't mind spreading the ball around. That's led to several disappointing performances from Julio Jones, but also a lot of opportunities for others in the offense. In Week 12 those opportunities went to Gabriel -- and boy did he deliver.
Gabriel led his team (and all receivers in the game) with 75 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns. In the process he flashed his big-league speed. It was most evident on a reverse the Falcons called. I generally hate reverses and this one didn't look like anything special until Gabriel touched the ball. Then you saw it. He has that "it" speed that can make anyone a weapon, especially if they can catch. He looks like he can catch and is a must-add this week as the No. 2 option in the Falcons offense.
Verdict: Don't believe it. This was the perfect setup for Gabriel, and not just because Patrick Peterson was shadowing Jones. Mohamed Sanu also had to deal with Tyrann Mathieu. The truth is that the running backs are the second option in this pass offense with Gabriel and Sanu battling for scraps each week. This week the situation played well for Gabriel, next week could be a Sanu game.
What's obvious is the speedster is making Ryan more reliable and has at least done enough to become a consistent part of the offense. He has a touchdown in three of his last four games and at least 50 yards in all four of those games. I'd still rather add someone like Malcolm Mitchell or Marquess Wilson, but Gabriel is a fine deep-league add.
I said all week that I didn't want to start Sammy Watkins this week because I was so nervous about how much or how well he would play. Well, he's clearly back now and a solid No. 2 wide receiver. But that's not the only impact he'll have.
Taylor has struggled to deliver on the sleeper potential I foresaw for him this year because he's been so limited in the weaponry he's had to work with. That changes with a healthy Watkins and we saw it start to take shape this week. Taylor got back to his extreme efficiency in Week 12 with more Fantasy points than pass attempts. You should expect more of the same for as long as Watkins stays healthy.
Verdict: Believe it. Completely. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that Taylor will be borderline must-start from here on out, if for no other reason than his schedule.
Taylor gets the Raiders in Week 13, which is a fine matchup, but it gets much better. In the Fantasy playoffs he'll face the Browns, Steelers and Dolphins. You know what the Browns are and we just saw the Dolphins against a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.
Taylor is 79 percent owned and you guys need to make it closer to 100 percent. Even if you're set for the playoffs, this is the type of player that a lesser opponent could pick up and ride to an upset victory. Taylor is worth an add just to block your opponent if nothing else.
Matt Barkley is streamable because of the volume he'll likely see.
We all got excited about streaming the Titans defense and made jokes about the Bears offense all week. Then Barkley went and threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns. That was with his receivers dropping a record number of passes according to Pro Football Focus.
Unlike Jay Cutler, Barkley looked like a quarterback that was willing to stay within the system and the system worked on Sunday. Barkley figures to be chasing the scoreboard for the rest of the season and if he can do that with so little help there's no reason to think he can't be a serviceable streamer.
Verdict: Don't believe it. It will be tempting this week against the 49ers, but I don't buy it. This Titans secondary played terribly and the drops Barkley battled are not something that will likely go away with this set of receivers. The only place Barkley is a viable streamer is in a 2-QB league.
Jay Ajayi goes back to a borderline No. 2 RB until his offensive line gets healthy.
Ajayi had a dream matchup at home in Week 12 against a San Francisco 49ers team that had been by far the worst in football against opposing running backs. Ajayi even got a good game script to go with it, the Dolphins played the entire second half with a lead and had a two-score lead for most of the final 30 minutes. The results were far from inspiring.
Ajayi averaged just 2.5 YPC and totaled just 56 total yards on 19 touches. A touchdown saved his Fantasy day but it was clear from his very first run that the Dolphins badly missed their three offensive linemen, even against a defense as bad as this one. You're probably still starting Ajayi down the stretch but unless his offensive line gets healthy fast, the expectations need to be seriously lowered.
Verdict: Believe it. In fact, I'm not sure you are going to to feel good starting Ajayi again this year. The Dolphins face the Ravens, Cardinals, Jets and Bills in the next four weeks. Three of those games are on the road. If Ajayi had his dominant line in place I would feel nervous but I'd probably start him against all of those matchups. If he plays with the line he did in Week 12 I'm not sure I'll feel confident ranking him in the top 20 against any of them.
You can't bench Tyreek Hill again.
Well, the Chiefs found their offense. Against the worst possible matchup, Hill scored three touchdowns and led the team to a road win against the Denver Broncos. He did it in all phases of the game, including a slant route in the red zone that showed a skill set we hadn't previously seen from Hill.
If he can put up that type of performance against this type of defense I'm not sure when you would sit him. Hill is the team's No. 1 wide receiver and their most explosive weapon. He has the ability to take a dink from Alex Smith to the house, and he's being used in the Wildcat as a running back in the red zone.
Verdict: Believe it. Especially in leagues where you can start three receivers. Definitely until Jeremy Maclin returns. But before Hill can be must-start he needs to be must-own and at 56 percent owned he's currently far from that. So step one is go get Hill on the waiver wire, step two is start him in your flex because he's quite clearly matchup proof.
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