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Welcome to the inaugural edition of Popping and Dropping! We’ll get to Carson Wentz, and other players with rising player values, but first a little back story. Originally, our version of stock up/stock down was going to be “Ballin’ and Fallin’,” but I already have enough street cred.

That’s right, me and Queen Elizabeth.

Actually, truth be told it was the Queens English that made the decision. Every time I wrote “Ballin'”, I felt like the biggest poser in the world. Do the kids even still use that word? The fact that I am asking made it 100% clear I had to go with something a little less street and something slightly more sophisticated. But don’t mistake sophistication for being a wuss. I’m not going to say Antonio Brown is “popping”. That lacks a couple kernels if you catch my drift.

I’ll let you know about some of those players in the middle or even a little deeper and possibly off your radar who might be “popping.” Of course you can’t have ying without yang, so I’ll also let you know who is not doing so well and is therefore “dropping”. So even though his stock actually dropped after his turd of a game on Monday night, Case Keenum’s ownership rates are so low, I’m not going to waste time discussing him. The player profiles will also include what you should expect going forward. I’ll also try and look at various positions and discuss relevant players for various types of leagues. I might even consider a player for you IDPers. But don’t count on it.

What you can count on however is Eagle fans overreacting, which brings us to our first player of the week, Carson Wentz.

Popping: Rising Player Values

Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia

So I was driving on the “Blue Route” when I heard the Philly sports DJ say “The week kicks off again this Thursday Night, but today is “Wentzday”…..and every day this season is going to be “Wentzday”. “ Yes the hysteria has started. But Carson Wentz is giving them reason to believe again in Philly.

First off, as I mentioned earlier in the preseason before the Sam Bradford trade Wentz has that intangible “it” factor. He looks absolutely unflappable right now. Admittedly, so does Dak Prescott, but what Wentz has over Prescott however right now is the stat line to support it.

Wentz went 22 for 37 with 278 yards and 2 TDs and 0 INTs. That’s not exactly elite level, but that’s QB1 territory and that is exactly what Wentz is: he is currently the 12th best fantasy QB. I don’t think Wentz will be a QB1 all season, but he should hover in that general vicinity and against a battered Chicago secondary this week, don’t be surprised if he keeps the Philly fans happy all week. It is thumbs up in Philly, especially on Wentzdays…

Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City

Let’s go from Andy Reid’s old team to his new team.

I’m not sure I’m ready to live in a world where Alex Smith accounts for three touchdowns and passes for 363 yards. You might need to call Dr. Kevorkian though because that’s exactly what happened last week. The real test comes this week against Houston. But before you think it can’t happen again, realize Smith passed for 386 yards against a pretty good Cincinnati secondary last year. Let’s put it this way. Expect his owners to continue smiling as the rest of us continue to underestimate him.

Speaking of underestimating, let’s talk about a wide receiver I was definitely wrong about…

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta

So it’s no secret Sanu is extending his wings this year. But pop quiz hot shot: Sanu has more targets than Julio Jones. True or false?

The answer is false. That’s because they have the exact same amount. But what is true is Sanu has done more with his targets, registering more catches and more yards. Any time your receiving stats are better than a healthy Julio Jones, you’re not just popping, you’re hopping. He is currently ranked 11th amongst WRs, making me look real stupid.

He’s making me look foolish but I am still not sure I am a believer. Sanu was seen walking with a limp earlier this week. I’m sure it is just temporary, but I still can’t shake the gut feeling that Justin Hardy cuts into Sanu’s output this season. Right now however, Sanu is the best wide receiver in Atlanta and is popping like few other receivers.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

How many times this week did you hear a fantasy expert saying that John Brown was overrated. You might have even heard occasionally someone say Michael Floyd was overrated. You know why? Cause the “old man” still has it. Eight catches for 81 yards and two TDs is proof enough. Maybe, just maybe, all those saying last year was an aberration for the 13-year veteran were wrong. And for those saying he’s going to retire, you do realize he just signed an extension, right? I think Fitzgerald continues to pop right through his 14th season.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh

Okay, so maybe this isn’t such a surprise as I said earlier Williams would probably be the top handcuff. But he went gonzo on Monday might, carrying the ball 26 times for 143 yards for a gaudy 5.5 YPC and of course two touchdowns. If that was enough, he also caught six passes to give you a RB that scored nearly 36 points. Leveon, take your time getting back. Williams is keeping the RB seat more than warm, he’s on absolute fire.

Others however have not started so hot….

Dropping: Falling Player Values

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego

The truth of the matter is that Rivers performance this week wasn’t that bad. But just one touchdown, and less than 250 yards isn’t that great either. Plus, the problem with Rivers however is that every Rivers owner is trying to sell him. Of course the collective Rivers ownership could care less that they are driving down his price. As individuals they know that he a) is coming off a mediocre start b) he just lost Keenan Allen,  his best receiver to injury for the year, and c) has a game against an improved Jacksonville secondary.

Currently the 19th best fantasy quarterback, I absolutely believe that Rivers will finish much higher than that. Given his history, he should finish as a high-end QB2. However, most of his owners were hoping he would be a low end QB1 and they might need to lower their expectations. Their expectations however might have been lower those down in New Orleans.

Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans

Coby Fleener was often the 6th TE off the board, usually drafted before the 8th round, but typically selected with an average of the 70th pick overall. Right now, he’s not even the 46th best TE. And let’s remember, last week was not a particularly good week for tight ends across the board. Not a single TE notched even 80 receiving yards this past week.

I liked the upside of Fleener, but the potential downside scared me from having any shares of him this year. What downside? Yes, Fleener has had his share of 100+ yard days. But I decided to go back and take a look.

28 times in the last three years Fleener has failed to score double digit points….in a PPR! That means more than half the time you were better off not using him than using him. And in a standard league, I am really starting to wonder why he was even getting drafted.

The problem is that you will get nothing from selling Fleener now. If for some reason you can get anything for Fleener now, take it and run. Unfortunately, Fleener is not the only Saint who has disappointed.

 

Mark Ingram RB, New Orleans

You’d think cutting C.J. Spiller loose might actually increase Ingram’s ownership levels. Instead, his ownership levels are dropping. His ownership in ESPN leagues for example this week has dropped a tenth of a percentage. Perhaps an overreaction to Travis Cadet getting the TD instead of Ingram? Yes, but let’s go a little deeper.

Cadet’s volume was lower than Ingram’s. Yet Cadet’s point per snap was higher than Ingram’s and his point per touch was nearly four times higher. That might be okay if Ingram’s volume was particularly high, but Ingram’s snap percentage was not even 45%. Yes, the game turned into a shoot-out, but if 12 carries becomes the norm, Ingram’s value will continue to drop. That tenth of a percent will quickly turn to 10%, and Ingram will see his ownership rates drop.

 

Done reading about falling and rising player values? Looking for something else? Maybe try My Playbook to figure out who is going to pop or drop next.

Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg remembers making Jerry Rice his first round selection as well as taking a flyer on a young pitcher named Doug Drabek. His Fantasy analysis has spanned multiple sports including football, baseball, basketball, and even golf. A FSWA finalist, his fantasy analysis has been featured in various outlets including but not limited to SI.com, USA Today national magazines, Yahoo! and RotoExperts.

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