The Fantasy Hipsters are back for the 2017 season with their weekly guide to how to approach fantasy football a little bit off the beaten path. In this space, Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) will give you a mix players to add, overlooked weekly plays and in-depth stats all layered with the type of unique, off-the-mainstream tone you can only expect from these two well-groomed hipsters. Since the communal approach to creating a living space is the only way to exist in harmony, the duo will split the work. Here's this week's division of labor.
Most ironic stats
Communal living space:
Pour over your lineup
Some things get better with time. Like a full-flavored cask of aged bourbon or that one pair of skinny jeans you've worn in so much that they feel like sweatpants (let's be honest, I have, like, eight pairs of those). Same goes for fantasy football players. Did you draft Hunter Henry thinking the shiny new young tight end would be the next big thing? Get in line with the rest of the herd. While you and the rest of the mainstream horde are all about the up-and-coming young talent in the NFL, we Fantasy Hipsters are sticking with experience over youth. Each week in this space, we'll deliver one Vintage Veteran player of the week that you can rely on to produce for your fantasy team. Now where did I put my great-grandpa's brogues?
Dez Bryant has only cleared 70 yards receiving in just one game this year and hasn't gone for 100 yards yet here in the 2017 season. Frustrated? I somewhat understand. Well, not really. I've come to expect everything to be a little disappointing but I've accepted it because nothing matters. Nihilism is so in for 2017.
Anyway, I'm anything but pessimistic about Dez Bryant's Week 9 matchup. He's facing the Chiefs in Dallas. I feel like people see Kansas City on the schedule and shake in their all-natural leather boots a bit. The thing is, the Chiefs are actually a pretty bad defense. It's like Coldplay. Did they have their time in the sun? Yes. I'm not afraid to admit that at different points in the existence of the planet Earth they made some good music. If you didn't like "Clocks" and that era you're probably just trying too hard. But the stuff they're coming out with now? Come on.
Oh right, I'm supposed to be talking to you about Dez Bryant and his Week 9 matchup. Don't put me in a box. What I'm trying to say is that the 2015 Chiefs are like "The Scientist" and the current iteration is that "Hymn for the Weekend" situation they put out recently. Here's the deal: Kansas City can't stop giving it up to wide receivers. Almost 69 percent of the passing yards allowed by the Chiefs have come from the wide receiver position and 13 of the 14 passing touchdowns went to wideouts.
The arrow of opportunity is pointing right at a Dez Bryant eruption coming any day now, as well. He ranks fourth in the NFL in percentage share of his team's intended air yards behind only Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins. Simple opportunity implies that he will eventually offer up a monster game like those three have offered up this season. In a matchup with a team that hasn't made good music since I was in high school, this is the spot for it to happen.
Sustainable pickup of the week:
Sustainability is all about preparing for the future. From discovering and developing a new source of energy like wind and solar to crop rotation and water conservation, we all have to do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment. A small investment now goes a long way down the road. And when it comes to fantasy football, a major key to building sustainable depth from waiver wire adds means finding players that you can rely on for the long term without wasting resources. So in this section, the Fantasy Hipsters will get ahead of the curve and offer up one player to add for depth who should pay off dividends in the future. Hey man, turn that light off in the other room. It's not hard, okay?
Look, even though Ezekiel Elliott is going to play in Week 9, his suspension will likely hit sooner or later. And you people are going to want to be prepared for that.
Now, I like to think of the remaining Dallas running backs like a flight of craft beers from your favorite, local (obviously) watering hole. We have Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, and Rod Smith. Each guy has a different track record (or none at all at the NFL level) and each brings something different to the table. But while your sheeple friends are out there thirsting for the old, comfortable options because they're afraid of change, you're going to want to pull the wolf move and pivot to the flavor that's going to give you the most returns in the long run. That's what sustainability is all about, after all.
By now, Morris and McFadden are probably owned in the casual, "whatever" leagues you play in. Folks will point to McFadden's 1,000-yard season in 2015 or Morris' seemingly direct backup role to Zeke as their reasoning as to why they're the next man up.
Newsflash: 2015 was two years ago, and Morris is about as one-dimensional of a running back as they come.
Rod Smith is the hipster go-to here. He's the young, upside stud with a skillset that could make him a breakout fantasy star in Zeke's absence. Sure, maybe he'll start as the "pass-catching" back behind the veteran Morris when Elliott is eventually (?) sidelined. But Smith is 6-foot-3 and weighs 235 pounds. A guy that big isn't going to just be a "change-of-pace" if he continues to run through defenders like he did in mop-up duty in Week 7 against the 49ers. I mean, look at this run. The kid's a beast. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry on eight rush attempts in that game. Sure, it's a small sample size, but it's a good one.
So, finish that crappy IPA that you've thrown back more times than you'd like to admit, and expand your palate. Go get you some Rod Smith. He's a full-bodied, smooth and drinkable option with an amazing aftertaste. I swear you'll forget what that boring, played-out IPA tastes like in no time just like the Cowboys will move on from the Morris/McFadden split when and if Zeke sits.
When we're building lineups for the week, we're always looking for a bargain. The thing is, those of us who don't want to live cookie-cutter lives aren't chasing for some boring old fill-in; we're still after something fresh. Just like a good barrel-aged craft beer that's off the beaten path away from dull domestic brews, we want a different kind of bargain brought on by a unique spin on an outcome of a game that the public just hasn't considered yet.
I know I just had a whole section about something cool and vintage with Dez Bryant earlier in this article. Obviously, vintage items are cool. Everyone knows that. Well, everyone that "gets it," at least. But I think we can all agree that sometimes people take the vintage trend too far. You got to know when to let it go when to just give up that old 1960's flannel coat after it's well past the point of being ironically notable.
We are at that point with Frank Gore. Look, two years ago and even in 2016 it was cool to tout Gore as a sneaky mid-round fantasy pick and a solid weekly floor play. Those days are gone. Gore has cleared 80 total yards just twice this year. Yes, I know one of the games was last week, but let's try not to be a prisoner of the moment here. Gore used to be a prime pickup of the vintage rack because he was the only show in town for the Colts backfield. Folks, that's no longer the case.
Exciting rookie Marlon Mack is coming for Gore's job. Mack's snaps have gone up in each of the last three games (14, 32 and 39) following his nine carries for 91 yards and touchdown line against the 49ers in Week 5. It's even more encouraging that the Colts are doling out passing game work to their rookie back. He has 11 targets over the last two weeks alone.
There's no better path to a floor in fantasy than working as a receiver out of the backfield. Marlon Mack has even lined up away from the backfield 15 times this season, taking 11 plays out wide and four in the slot. The rookie saw four targets from those positions through the first eight weeks of the season.
With his developing floor as a pass-catcher being a great fit with the Colts in negative game script often (because they are bad) and enticing big-play ability, Mack has a great mix of ceiling and safety. With the Colts traveling to play a Texans defense with injuries throughout their defense, he's a great punt play this week.
Most Ironic Stats of the Week
Every week, there are some pretty crazy stats floating around that you might be able to apply to making decisions in your fantasy lineups. So, just for kicks (actually I need a new pair of vintage Converse), here are the most ironic stats of Week 9. Enjoy. Or don't ... it's more ironic that way.
-- The Cowboys defense has allowed just 14.5 points per game with six forced turnovers in their last two contests. But don't let this one go to your head, brah. They've played the 49ers and Redskins. Now it makes sense, right?
-- Jack Doyle is averaging a team-high six receptions per game and leads all tight ends in targets, receptions and receiving yards since Week 6. Jack. JACK DOYLE. Not Gronk. Not Ertz. Not Kelce. DOYLE.
-- Cam Newton is averaging just 10 fantasy points per game in his last two contests. That includes three touchdowns and SEVEN giveaways. Cam, come on man. You're better than that. Actually, without Kelvin Benjamin, maybe not.
-- Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins are both averaging more fantasy points per game than Antonio Brown. But that could easily change with Deshaun Watson out for the year. That's not even ironic, just sad.
-- Packers quarterback Brett Hundley has the worst passer over the last 20 years among 240 players with 65 or more pass attempts. Expect a heavy dose of Aaron Jones this week against Detroit.
Pour over your lineup
Franchise: Alright, my pal. Let's help another loyal follower out. Stupid bye weeks are so mainstream. And annoying.
Harmon: Right? I don't take a bye week from harvesting the kale from my balcony garden? Why should these football teams just get to pass on a week?
Franchise: Obviously. True hipsters never rest, nor do their organic, urban gardens.
Harmon: Mack will crush it, that's obvious, of course, because I just wrote it. The Drake part is a little bit of a drag. I mean, I'm as excited about playing an unknown running back in a Jay Cutler offense as I am to download the next Jason Mraz album. Which is to say, I am not excited.
Franchise: Ew, gross. I feel like I need a shower after reading that. And I haven't showered in weeks. Anyway, let's dig into this flex. Tough choice with Will Fuller who will now be catching "passes" from Tom Savage vs Paul Richardson who's been lit, but does our guy really wanna stack THREE Seahawks?
Harmon: Very natural of you. From the earth we came, of the earth, we live. That's how the saying goes, right? Anyway. Dude, I think the playing all the Seahawks is actually a good strategy. That offense is cooking, and Russell Wilson is playing at an MVP-level (spare me your @'s). Did you know four of Richardson's five touchdowns have come on throws where Wilson was outside of the pocket? That's the guy he looks for in high-leverage situations.
Franchise: Speaking of pockets, I can barely even fit the new iPhone in my skinny jeans. Ugh. Anyway, Seattle has virtually no run game. Plus it's November, and Russell Wilson always turns it up a notch after the halfway point. I think his hot play can sustain both Baldwin and Richardson this week. Richardson is the WR12 in standard right now! Didn't see that coming.
Plus, our guy's last name is Richardson, per his Twitter profile, so really it's all coming together organically.
Harmon: It really is. Richardson is a great play this week, and the fact that it's his last name too just adds a nice level of smoked paprika to the situation. I mean, Twitter user Richardson really does "get it," though. All these craft beer and beard hashtags. Way to grab our attention among the many thousands of people who send lineups in every week, obviously.
Franchise: The last hashtag is a bit thirsty, but I'll let it slide.
Speaking of thirsty, don't we have some homebrew to ferment or something? Let's get out of here.
Harmon: Yes, we've helped this follower enough. Let's roll. This coffee I'm sipping might be free-trade but our advice isn't.