The Four Corner Debate: Week 15

Have you ever been sitting around the room discussing fantasy football when you and your buddies mention a player that you have differing opinions on? It happens all the time. Every Friday we want to bring you four players that owners are unsure about and have varying opinions on. The Four Corner Debate will have each of our writers here at NoHuddle give you their personal opinion on each of the four players listed. Four players, Four writers. Differing opinions.

The contestants for this week’s Four Corner Debate are:

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Jay Ajayi
  • Frank Gore
  • Brandin Cooks

The goal this week is to give you 4 players in which you might be trying to decide whether or not they are startable over the next 2 weeks of your playoffs based on their performance and schedule.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers):

Critt: I’ll be honest, I am worried about Big Ben. If a QB scores single digit fantasy points in a week, that is really, really bad. Ben has done that 4 times this season. Including just 2 points last week against the Bills. He is averaging 10.2 points a game this season in road contests. Well, guess what? Big Ben is on the road against Cincinnati this week. The Bengals haven’t given up more than 1 touchdown pass in their last 5 games. I do not think I can start Ben this week if I have anyone that is remotely close to a better option. Then in Championship Week, Week 16, he plays the #1 pass defense in all of football. The only good news is that he plays them at home where he is averaging 22 fantasy points per game this season. Even in a home game, I just don’t know that I would want to rely on Big Ben to put up numbers worthy of winning a championship against the Ravens. I would sit him both weeks.

Byron: Big Ben has been one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the league over the last few weeks. Over the last four games, Roethlisberger has scored 8, 26, 21, and 2 fantasy points. His season low fantasy output can be attributed to the veteran quarterback throwing for only 220 yards and three interceptions with no touchdowns. That’s the second time in four weeks Roethlisberger has failed to throw a touchdown pass, and he’s boasting a 5/4 touchdown to interception ratio over that span. What scares me this week is rolling Big Ben out on the road. He’s developed a Drew Brees-like tendency to fall apart when he’s not playing at home. In fact, if you look at the stats he has only thrown one more touchdown than interceptions in the last three years when he’s on the road. That’s just silly. I’m inclined to leave Big Ben out of my lineups this week, and possibly next week against the Ravens. 

Dan: It’s hard not to like Big Ben over the next few weeks. The last time he faced Cincinnati he threw 3 picks and still scored 27 Fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. In his last tussle with the Ravens, he put up 21 fantasy points at their house. He will be on the road this week against the Bengals, but Ben loves to play in Ohio. The Miami of Ohio grad is 29-5 in games in his home state in his career. So, I expect him to play well this week on the road. As for the next week against Baltimore in Pittsburgh, I believe that there will be a great emphasis on that game as the Steelers control their own destiny in the division. Baltimore is the key to a division title for the Steelers and Ben will a central cog in a possible victory. I believe he will have 20+ fantasy points in both games. Safe start here.

Derk: If I could sum up what you should do with Big Ben it’s this: Start him at home with confidence. Otherwise, look elsewhere for a quarterback. Anyone playing the Falcons or Saints will do. This season, Ben has 60 more points playing at home than when he is on the road. Not impressed? He’s only played in 5 games at home and 7 on the road! That spread is staggering! That equates to about an average difference of 17 points when he plays at home. No idea why he can’t put it together when on the road, you’ve got to be frustrated by it to the point you actually have a backup plan in place. This week, use that backup plan and if you’re blessed enough to pull one out this week, start him in that championship against the Ravens at home. Sounds like bad advice until you remember what Hurricane Brady did to them last week…and he doesn’t have Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell.

Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins):

Critt: In one of my main leagues I actually owned Jay Ajayi this season, and traded him away right before my trade deadline. Why did I do that? Because I did not view this stretch run of the dolphins to be favorable for Ajayi. Now as I sit here before Week 15 and look at the matchups, it appears that the Jets and the Bills both have extremely vulnerable run defenses. The Jets just gave up nearly 200 yards to Carlos Hyde and over 100 yards or a touchdown in each of their last 6 games. The Bills, who are on deck, haven’t faired much better. They have given up over 100 yards or a touchdown in their last 7 games. They have also given up multiple touchdowns 3 times and over 200 yards twice over that span, including Le’Veon Bell running for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns himself last week. With Ryan Tannehill out, I think the Dolphins will rely on Jay Ajayi, and I think he is very startable over the next 2 weeks!

Byron: The Ajayi owners out there (myself included) were losing their minds earlier in the season when this kid racked up an astonishing 529 rushing yards over three weeks. We had struck gold. Fantasy championship here we come! The sad reality is the Dolphins have played a tough schedule to close out the season. Ajayi has had the misfortune of facing off against the Rams, Ravens, and Cardinals in three of the last four games. However, Ryan Tannehill is likely out for the remainder of the season. I don’t see Miami handing the reigns over to Matt Moore and letting him do his thing. If I’m Adam Gase, I’m riding Ajayi for all he’s worth. Matchups against the Jets and Bills shouldn’t be extremely difficult matchups for him to end the season. 

Dan: I do not trust Jay Ajayi just yet. For me, he is no higher than a mid RB2 with upside. Especially this week against a stout Jets run d. Take into consideration that the Dolphins could have Matt Moore under center for a couple of weeks and you may have a recipe for disaster. I anticipate teams stacking the box against the Dolphins and trying to force Matt Moore to beat them. Even in the next week against the Bills, I would be hesitant to trust Ajayi. It’s one thing to get torn apart by Le’veon Bell but that was without a healthy Kyle Williams up front. For me, Ajayi is a midlevel RB2 and I’m not trusting my playoffs spot to Ajayi if I do not have to.

Derk: I wondered how long his run would last. That crazy stretch of games where he looked like a future hall of famed reminded me of when Jeremy Lin went nuts for like 5 games and people dubbed him the second coming. Well, while I would love to say this guy is terrible just like I thought he was going to be, he’s still not been bad as of late. He didn’t do what I thought he could’ve done to 49ers. He didn’t do much against the Ravens or the Cardinals, but then again that’s to be expected. However, he did do very well against the Jets in week 9 when he posted an 111-yard performance and 1 touchdown stat line. He has the Jets again this week and the Bills next. Remember the Bills? He had 214 yards and 1 touchdown. The biggest reason for his drop in production lately is the lack of carries. With Matt Moore holding the reigns, I imagine Adam Gase will look keep the ball on solid ground and feed the monster moving forward. Expect big things from Jay this week.

Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts):

Critt: Here is the skinny on Gore. He is averaging just about 11 fantasy points per game in non-PPR leagues. He is facing a very good Minnesota run defense this week. It is possible that they will be without Sharrif Floyd, though. Which helps Gore’s case. Yet, I would expect Gore to finish somewhere around his average of 11 points. He will have 50-60 yards rushing, 20-30 yards receiving, and if he can sneak in the end zone you have had a great day from Frank Gore, if not, you will be underwhelmed. In Week 16 he gets Oakland, and I would start him in that game. I think he is a flex play this week. If I had better options, I would obviously go with those, though!

Byron: You have to be impressed with the simple fact that Frank Gore is even still playing football. This guy is 33 years old, which equates to around 75 in running back years. Gore was great through the first eleven weeks of the season before hitting a little skid recently. Through eleven weeks Frank Gore had scored less than 11 fantasy points once in PPR leagues. He’s managed to pass that mark in one game out of the last three. With all that said, I’m not the biggest Gore fan this week against the Vikings. Minnesota still has a great defense, and I feel like their Achilles heel may be in the passing game rather than on the ground. The following week against Oakland I’m in all day. 

Dan: I love Frank Gore. I’m trying to not let my own opinion come into play as I write this. Frank Gore has been pivotal for me in several years of fantasy in the past. Yes, he has a tough matchup this week with the Vikings, but so far this year he has excelled when facing tough competition. He put up 14, 11, and 19 in 3 straight weeks away against the Titans, at home against Kansas City, and away against the Packers respectively. Those are tough run d’s and he is putting up double digits scoring outputs in standard scoring. I like that they are getting him involved in the passing game as well. He should have an excellent game against the Raiders in the second week because they struggle to stop the RB in both phases. I look for him to be a high RB2 against the Vikings and an RB1 against the Raiders the next week.

Derk: Well it’s 2016 and Frank Gore is still old and relevant. How has this guy managed have relatively healthy NFL career for this long is beyond me? I know he tore his ACL while in college, but past that he’s managed to remain unscathed since. I’m always shocked when manages to be an RB1 by years end. I shouldn’t be, but I can’t help myself. He’s got Minnesota this week. While I normally would stray away from starting a running back against this stout defense, I’m a little more optimistic considering Shariff Floyd has just been moved to injured reserve. With the Vikings this week, I could easily see Gore posting RB2 type numbers which is a win. Next week he should be even better against the Raiders who are 24th against running backs this year. Start Frank this week with an expectation of RB2 type numbers.

Brandin Cooks (New Orleans Saints):

Critt: Yikes, I don’t like Cooks this week against Arizona. Drew Brees has never struggled in his career the way he has the last two weeks, and unfortunately for him, it doesn’t get any easier this week. Not only does he get Arizona, one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, he gets them on the road. Next week he gets Tampa Bay, who has looked vulnerable in the past but seem to be playing pretty good defense right now. Just this past week they throttled Drew Brees and held Cooks to 61 yards. The one thing that will be in Cooks favor is that his QB typically plays well at home, although he had major struggles 2 weeks ago against the Lions at home. Unfortunately, for Cooks owner, he may only be worthy of a flex play over the next 2 weeks.

Byron: Brandin Cooks is who we thought he was! And we let him off the hook! If you don’t understand that reference we can’t be friends. At this point in the season, I am 100% out on Cooks. He was supposed to be THE guy in New Orleans this year. If you drafted Cooks you had visions of fantasy greatness. Now you’re debating whether to play the guy or not. Cooks only has three games this season with over 95 receiving yards, which is low when you consider the expectation. I’m not playing Cooks the rest of this season unless I absolutely have to. He faces one of the best defenses in the league this week against the Cardinals and plays one of the NFL’s hottest teams in the Buccaneers next week. Hopefully, you have a contingency plan in place at this point. 

Dan: For me, this is a no-brainer. Brandin Cooks is way too inconsistent to be trusted in your lineup as anything more than a WR2. If you are using him as a WR3 or worse he must be in your line up. The reward there outweighs the risk for me. Especially, this week against the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson on the other side. In the second week, they draw a favorable matchup at home against the Bucs. But he only put up 8 points in the last matchup in .5 ppr scoring leagues in the last matchup in Tampa Bay. So for me, he cannot be trusted with my playoff spot on the line. I like Cooks if he is in your lineup at the WR3 or flex spot. Any more than that is too big a risk for me.

Derk: Nope. Give me Michael Thomas. While we know what his ceiling is, his floor is too dang low for me. Unless you’re in a full point PPR league. Then maybe I’d take him over, Michael Thomas. Speaking of Michael Thomas, if he doesn’t play this week then I worry even more about Brandin Cooks against that Cardinals secondary. While I believe Willie Snead is a fantastic replacement for the ailing Thomas, it’s still not enough pressure taken off of Cooks. I don’t know if I trust him this week. I couldn’t advise starting him with confidence, but I definitely wouldn’t advise sitting him either. Start him as a WR3/Flex, and keep your expectations low. Then, next week, start him with more confidence.

As always feel free to contact us on twitter @No_HuddleFFB with questions.

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