2016 Matchstick Men of Fantasy Football

“Matchstick Men” is a term that refers to con men. It was also a 2003 film with Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell playing a couple of con artists. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s safe to say that most viewers don’t see the ending coming.

The movie not only profiles a couple of con men, but it also reveals that the movie itself was a con. The audience realizes that it was duped into believing something that just wasn’t true. The story itself isn’t complicated either so it’s easy to follow. And maybe that’s another reason the audience feels surprised by the ending. It’s a good movie. (IMDb gave it 7.3 stars out of 10.)

Still don’t see the connection to fantasy football?

Some are analyzing the moves since free agency began on March 9th to see how the new team will be affected by the value of its newest player. The plot for this movie is not far-fetched. If you bring in a new player, it is certainly an indication that the team WANTS that player on their team. Why else would they have signed him? And there’s the con.

Here’s a look at some of the plot scenarios as a result of recent off-season moves.

Brock Osweiler – signs with Texans. Not overly impressed with him. With all of the weapons available in Denver, and having an offensive-minded head coach, he averaged a measly 250 ypg in that offense. Now he goes to the Texans with a less-experienced head coach and arguably less weaponry. Here’s an interesting stat: In the last 7 games he started for Denver, the Broncos rushed for an average of 134.8 yards per game. In the other games without Brock, they averaged 89 rush yards per game. Coincidence?

Matt Forte – signs with Jets. Forte has always been pretty dependable. I’m confident he’ll do well with his opportunities. Early word from the Jets is Bilal Powell will handle 3rd-down work which is a shame since Forte is a good receiving back. The QB situation could be a concern.

Lamar Miller – also a Texan. I looked at his game log and he only had 7 games with more than 12 rush attempts last season. For a RB that averages 4.6 yards per carry, why wouldn’t you lean on him more? (Probably a reason why the Dolphins fired their head coach.) If Brock O. turns out to be “average” it could work out for Miller’s benefit.

Chris Ivory – signs with Jaguars. Doesn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of confidence to T.J. Yeldon — especially since they immediately pledged that they’ll split carries. Still not sure what to make of this situation? Seems like the Jags are committed to improving the run-game which may affect touches for Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns the most.

DeMarco Murray – traded to Tennessee. Followed up an impressive 2014 season with a regrettable 2015 season. A mobile QB in Marcus Mariota may actually help him. Murray has had trouble playing an entire season except for the 2014 season. He could be a low risk value in a weak division, but he needs to separate himself on the Titans depth chart early. And should.

Coby Fleener – signs with Saints. The knock on him is his drops. 35 year-old Ben Watson had 110 targets for the Saints last season. Fleener should get plenty of looks in that offense. Will he be Jimmy Graham 3.0 for 2016?

Ladarius Green – signs with Steelers. What is puzzling me most is why did the Bolts decide to resign 35 year-old Antonio Gates instead of 25 year-old Green? My gut says that San Diego saw something in Green they didn’t like. I like the signing, especially with the respected Heath Miller calling it a career. I’d be more excited about this signing if the Steelers threw more often to the TE — something they did only 18% of the time (6th-fewest of all teams), and they threw a TD to the TE even less.

Travis Benjamin – signs with San Diego. If he can do well as a WR1 in an anemic Browns offense, then he should do no worse as a WR2 in a pass-happy Chargers offense. But being a WR2 in SD means that Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates still get first looks. Some suggest he will be more than a WR2, challenging Allen.

Marvin Jones – signs with Lions. Megatron hangs ’em up. I’ve never been a fan of Golden Tate (who depended on Calvin Johnson to draw the coverage). With Johnson gone, I’m curious to see how the 300 or so targets will be divided up between Tate and Jones? My initial thought is that neither will be consistent and there will be some lean weeks as they alternate peaks on the Tate-Jones fantasy roller coaster.

Mohamed Sanu – signs with Falcons. He steps into Roddy White’s role who was released. He could steal looks from Julio Jones, so instead of Jones getting another 200 targets, he may only get 175 or so. Note that Roddy did have 70 targets in that offense so it may realistically be a matter of what Sanu does with his targets.

Chris Hogan – signs with Patriots. Maybe there is little fantasy relevance here, but if there is a team that can turn a nobody into a somebody it’s the Pats. One source suggests that this may mean the end for Danny Amendola.

Mark Sanchez – traded to Broncos. Maybe I’m alone on Sanchez island, but I think he’s been put into poor situations in his time with the Jets and Eagles. Maybe he doesn’t even come close to starting for Denver, but I think he finally has a coach (a former QB himself) that may actually help. And seeing that the Broncos have shown little interest in other free agent quarterbacks (there are not many quality options still on the market), this may ultimately impact Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders too.

Mike Wallacesigns with Ravens. He went from marginally relevant on the Vikings to extinct on the Ravens. Unless I’m missing something, Steve Smith is still “the man” in Baltimore. After Smith, there is unproven first-round rookie Breshad Perriman and Kamar Aiken who did well enough when Smith went down to rack up 75 receptions and almost 1,000 yards. Adding to this con is Joe Flacco, who missed 6 games himself.

Alfred Morris – signs with Cowboys. Everyone raved about the Dallas O-line last year. It was a running joke (pun) that anyone could rush behind that line. McFadden found new life in Dallas at age 28. Was it the O-line? Lance Dunbar is younger but was seldom used. Morris is one year younger than Run DMC, but maybe he can find new life behind the same O-line? He needs to win the depth chart battle first.

Robert Griffin III – signs with Browns. He was hurt a lot, but he was good (at least from a fantasy perspective) mainly because of his rushing yards. Some suggest that if RG3 is limited to being a pocket passer, he will fail. Given his situation/city/etc., it would not surprise me if at some point he is asked to try to win games using any means possible. Note: In need of a QB, Denver chose not to pursue RG3. So they view Sanchez’s value above Griffin.

Reuben Randle – signs with the Eagles. To me he just signed away his fantasy relevance. Too crowded for me with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor, especially with Sam Bradford at the helm as well as a new coaching staff that came from a run-first mentality.

Jared Cook – signs with the Packers. Packers have been looking for a TE for some time now. No one seems to fit. Cook is 28. A younger Richard Rodgers (23) seemed to turn the corner catching 8 TD passes last season, but Jordy Nelson was out all year and Eddie Lacy was bulking up on cheese fries. This could be a potential GB TE committee.

Marshawn Lynch retires. This propels Thomas Rawls into the lead role. History is not too kind to players with a small, but impressive body of work, since they tend to not live up to expectations in their next full season. Christine Michael is also rumored to add some “punch” in the run game.

Chris Johnson resigns with Arizona. Despite bringing back CJ, everyone seems enamored with David Johnson. ADP shows him going as the 3rd RB selected. Keep in mind that Andre Ellington still factors into the distribution too. Note that all 3 backs averaged over 5 yards per-carry. Ellington averaged the most (6.42). Plus Ellington and Chris Johnson missed significant time with injuries. This potential committee headache has not swayed the value of David Johnson.

These are some of your matchstick men for 2016. There are some real con artists on this list. Perhaps the slanted point of view that is being presented is the ruse? Can you see how the movie ends for some of these players? Some may see no surprises. By all means then, share the spoiler.


Fantasy Rundown BannerJust because football is over doesn’t mean there isn’t any fantasy news. Fantasy Rundown has you covered throughout the off-season.

Joe Mica

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Joe has been passionate about fantasy football since 2001. He has experience as an owner as well as a commissioner in H2H, auction, redraft and IDP leagues. He has written fantasy football columns since 2010. Submit any fantasy football questions you may have to me on twitter @JoeFMica

10 thoughts on “2016 Matchstick Men of Fantasy Football”

  1. Like hearing your take Joe, some I agree with, some I don’t, but it does have me considering angles I didn’t before, for example this:

    ” Seems like the Jags are committed to improving the run-game which may affect touches for Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns ”

    Could be. Bradley being a ex Seahawks coach, this makes sense.

    Keep the articles coming Joe!

    1. Thanks, Harold. You mentioned you don’t agree with some things. Fantasy football isn’t an exact science. I’d be sincerely interested to hear what you don’t agree with. Maybe you have an angle that needs to be considered.

  2. Nice read im glad i stumbled on the site
    i will be back
    i really appreciate the detail and opinion as i live in Hockey country (Canada) and though im aware of free agent signings im not privy to the wonderful insight

    Great Job i hope to see more…

  3. Good work as usual Joe! I also agree that the Pats are going for one of their reclamation projects with Hogan. I think Cook helps the Packers offense more in real life than helping his fantasy numbers but I think it really pays dividends for Eddie Lacy.

    1. Thanks, Trudem. I agree with you.
      Actually, I was expecting a few comments about the movie Matchstick Men. Not everyone enjoys the same type of movies.

  4. I loved ‘Matchstick Men’! And I also plan on taking a vacation to Sanchez Island. Maybe I’ll see you there. 😉

  5. Great stuff Joe. Especially like the moves for Miller, Benjamin and Green. Believe those will all benefit their careers (and fantasy). If Sanchez becomes the starter in Denver, I for one, will be avoiding Thomas and Sanders.

  6. I know “T” disagrees with me about David Johnson. It’s ok to disagree. If there’s a point of view you feel needs vocalizing, don’t hesitate.

    Brandon LaFell signs with the Bengals. I think this may actually be an extremely rare case where an ex-Patriot does BETTER on his new team. In New England, LaFell had to share passes with Gronk, Edelman, and Amendola.

    LaFell posted 37 receptions for 515 yards with zero TD. But for Cincy, he could assume the WR2 role vacated by Marvin Jones (as well as Mohamed Sanu), which means that his receptions could double and so might his yardage.

  7. Excellent read as always Joe. I do believe you’ve got Brock backwards, the run game improved becuase he opened up the outside passing game, which spread out the defense, which Peyton want doing, not because they ran more often to cover the fact he wasn’t good. More like a cause and effect than a coincidence.

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