Chip Kelly might have confidence in Sam Bradford, but after watching Bradford's six games under center for the Eagles, you'd be excused for not sharing his enthusiasm. The assumption many make is that Kelly's offense needs a running quarterback to work, but that hasn't been the case in the NFL; the Eagles were fourth in the NFL in scoring in 2013, with Nick Foles under center. Even with Mark Sanchez last season, the Eagles weren't bad offensively, and there are two places to look at for their regression.
First, the loss of Jeremy Maclin can't be overstated. The Eagles don't have any dependable receivers right now, and certainly none with Maclin's gamebreaking downfield abilities. That gets to the second issue: Bradford's unwillingness to throw the ball downfield. Foles and Sanchez collectively threw 15.5 percent of their passes 20 yards down the field last season and completed 33.3 percent of them; Bradford has completed just 25 percent of his passes 20 yards down the field, and only 12.3 percent of his attempts have traveled that far.
Jordan Matthews has largely failed in his first opportunity as a No. 1 receiver, Zach Ertz is as unreliable as ever, and the likes of Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are hardly dependable at this point. After a dreadfully slow start to the season, Murray had finally gotten going over the last two weeks, and has dominated the playing time as a result. He's the only player you can feel confident starting at this point.
You could realistically argue Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Andrew Luck, Antonio Brown and C.J. Anderson have all been pretty much complete busts, and that's just the top-10 in Average Draft Position this season. Any kind of prediction is going to carry inherent risk, especially in a sport as volatile as football, but that doesn't mean knowing nothing is better than doing research. It does mean you have to be quick-witted and willing to overreact early in the season. Relying on preseason expectations for too long is an easy way to waste a Fantasy season.
As the ninth quarterback off the board, on average, Ryan was certainly someone you were expecting to rely on this season. However, as we'll discuss shortly, going into the season expecting one quarterback to carry you for 16 weeks is a foolish unless you're willing to invest in Aaron Rodgers. That being said, Ryan has finished with 20-plus Fantasy points in CBSSports.com standard scoring in four of his six games so far, and eight of 12 going back to last season. It's hard to argue with that kind of track record, even if the path he takes to those 20-point games isn't always pretty. Having a healthy Julio Jones is a nice safeguard against busting.
Of course, there's a reason I never invest in quarterbacks early. They just aren't that hard to find on waivers, and there are always a few who come out of nowhere to surprise. In one league, I lost Ben Roethlisberger and replaced him with Derek Carr in Week 4, Josh McCown in Week 5 and Matthew Stafford in Week 6. Carr only scored 15 Fantasy points, but McCown and Stafford both put up huge games, helping me weather the storm of Roethlisberger's absence without much worry. That kind of success isn't sustainable, but just look at Ryan's track record; two good games for every dude. Quarterbacks are too important to stream every week like a DST -- if you bust, it's awfully hard to win -- but it's important not to get too attached to any one passer, because only a handful are truly irreplaceable. That goes for trades too.
I very badly want to find a way to argue against this one, because I don't trust Barnidge keeping this up. He's a 30-year-old who entered the season with 603 receiving yards over the course of seven NFL seasons, and has already set his career high in every category with 10 games left in the season. His track record suggests he can't possibly keep this up, which is why I want to find a way to argue against this. On the other hand, he has 35 targets over his last four games and is clearly a big part of what Cleveland wants to do, which makes me think he might actually be better than Kelce. Kelce is the more talented of the two, but his offense is also clearly worse -- which seems insane, considering Barnidge plays for Cleveland. They're probably close to the same tier, so play the matchups -- or trade Barnidge, who has more value right now.
I think it's more than fair to say at this point. That doesn't mean Lacy will be useless for Fantasy purposes, but you're clearly not getting top-three value out of him at this point. Your best hope is that, with a week off, Lacy can get past any lingering issues in his ankle and get back to the shape that made him so promising coming into the season. Right now, it's a coin flip proposition whether he or James Starks is the better play for Fantasy.
I don't know if Dan Campbell fixed the Dolphins. I don't know if they needed schematic adjustments, or if they just needed someone with a lot of muscles to high five them and run Oklahoma drills until they realized the season started. Whatever. The narrative isn't important. What is important is that the Dolphins' pass rush finally got home in Week 6, and they finally gave the ball to Lamar Miller, arguably their best offensive player. Ryan Tannehill still has his issues to work through, and the results in that regard weren't quite so promising this week. However, Miami found a balance on offense that hadn't existed under Joe Philbin, and that should make a big difference. If you own any Dolphins, you rightly feel much more confident today than you did a week ago.
If you believe this one, you had better enjoy the next week, because that's about all the time you have left. Brown's value isn't tied to Ben Roethlisberger's in the same way that, say, Julian Edelman is tied to Tom Brady, but Brown's status has clearly taken a hit by Roethlisberger's absence. Landry Jones might give the Steelers a better option in the pocket than Michael Vick, but he's also a totally untested option with a track record of NFL success that basically consists of two passes last week. Brown is one of the most talented receivers in the league, but he still needs reliable play at the quarterback position to be an elite Fantasy option, and he and Roethlisberger in particular have a symbiotic relationship. With Roethlisberger likely one more week away from returning to the field, Brown should should be back to elite status around that time.