For the first time in this young season, I’m pleased to bring you the first “full” version of The Presessment. I’ve covered every single matchup in the league this week, so there’s really only one thing left to say…
Bears @ Packers
Story to Watch: Fantasy football is weird as hell. Jordan Howard looked like he was waiting for evac at a Vietnam LZ after the week 2 loss to Tampa Bay, only to follow it up with an unreal 23-138-2 line in a surprise home win against the Steelers. Those are week winning numbers, but chances are he was on your bench after reports made it sound like his arm was going to fall off. On the Packers side, playing time monster Ty Montgomery seemed like an incredibly safe play against a struggling Bengals team, but he managed to turn 20 touches (8 receptions) into just 50 total yards. He was also vultured at the 1 yard line by the unlikely culprits Lance Kendricks and Jordy Nelson. This isn’t exactly a story to watch, but the lesson here is that no matter what you do, read, plan for, etc., there’s a good chance you’ll still get the poopy end of the stick because this is fantasy football. That goes double for Thursday Night Football (last week’s bonkers LA-SF game notwithstanding). Here’s to all of us making the right calls this time around…
Safe Bets: It seems that Aaron Rodgers feels the same way that I do about Mike McCarthy these days. Here’s hoping he audibles out a few of his conservative coach’s calls and goes full gunslinger mode over the next few weeks. The dangerous cocktail of a divisional game and Thursday Night date typically doesn’t result in loads of fantasy points, but this is Aaron Rodgers we’re talking about here. Jordy Nelson played the role of vulture with two scores within the 5 yard line last week, which is nice to see from a wideout who normally does his damage through deep balls. I like him a lot this week. With a seemingly healthy Jordan Howard back on our hands, you can start him with confidence going forward. The Bears are doing everything they can to keep Mike Glennon from blowing the game through the air, so expect the young running back to get workhorse duties once again. That’s not to suggest Tarik Cohen will take a backseat, however. In a game that the Bears will almost assuredly be trailing at some point, Glennon will be looking for his diminutive checkdown option frequently. This will be a really fun RB duo if both they can avoid injury, and I think they’ll both be viable in some form every week.
Hope For the Best: While he just put up a total dud against the Steelers, you don’t exactly have to be Johnnie Cochran to defend sending Zach Miller out there again. The tight end position is basically a roulette spin outside of Gronk, Kelce, and Zach Ertz, and anecdotally it seems that Miller scores in every nationally televised game somehow. Davante Adams didn’t do much in a game where he had a chance to be featured, and there’s a possibility that Randall Cobb will be returning. He’s a WR3 for me in a game that could be relatively low scoring. Ty Montgomery struggled gaining positive yardage last week, but the reports of the Packers limiting his workload were highly exaggerated. He’s still on the field the entire damn game, and he’ll be very safe from a usage standpoint.
Hell No: Mike Glennon isn’t long for this job. He’s gone from trying too hard and forcing unnecessary turnovers to shriveling up and trying to limit them, which is almost worse. In any event, the result likely won’t be more than 13 fantasy points or so. Martellus Bennett is still trying to find his way in Green Bay, but I’d definitely hold him for the day he figures it out.
Post-game Headline: “Howard, Cohen run strong, but Rodgers too much as Bears fall 23-17”
Titans @ Houston
Story to Watch: Now that’s more like it. I’ve been a very vocal skeptic of the Tennessee offense in the early going, but that sure looked like 2016’s “exotic smashmouth” vs. Seattle last week. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry split carries evenly for over 160 yards rushing, Mariota was efficient and hit on two deep touchdown passes, and overall the Titans controlled the game from the outset. It’s good for everyone on the offense when the Titans run this balanced approach, but time will tell if it was a one off performance or if they’re truly back on track. I’m betting on the latter.
Safe Bets: So far this season, Deandre Hopkins is doing his best Pierre Garcon impersonation – and that’s okay! With at least 7 catches in all three games this season, this capped-upside-but-solid-floor version of Nuk could be the new normal. It’s a refreshing change from his frustrating 2016 season. Oh, and he averages 100+ yards for his career against Tennessee, so keep him locked in as a WR2 in your lineup. I’m starting Marcus Mariota with confidence. He may not throw for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns, but his rushing floor and red zone efficiency are finally back on track. Demarco Murray also proved the doubters wrong with a spectacular 75-yard touchdown scamper last week. Those are some veteran moves right there – great vision and setting up blocks to get a clear lane. You probably won’t get another one of those, but he’s firmly back on the RB1 radar after Derrick Henry owners collectively called for Demarco’s retirement before the game.
Hope For The Best: His backfield mate got the highlight, but Derrick Henry shared rushing duties almost evenly with Demarco Murray (14 to 15 in carries) against Seattle and looked good doing it. He’s still the top candidate for goal line work, too, so he’s a fine start in 12 team leagues and a flex option in shallow ones. Rishard Matthews has been the only dependable option in Tennessee’s WR corps from a fantasy perspective, and I think he has a solid floor in PPR. He’s clearly Mariota’s favorite target. With all the devastation at the TE position this season, Delanie Walker and his 4 catches per game is good enough to qualify for “set it and forget it” status. He’ll never win your matchup, but he won’t go Hunter Henry on you either. Deshaun Watson showed some major improvement against the Patriots and I think this will be a close game. He could be like Deshone Kizer in the “ugly in real life, useful for fantasy” mold this week.
Hell No: Lamar Miller has been adequate, but Donta Foreman has been taking more touches each week from the presumed feature back for the Texans. It’s hard to trust either of them for safe production, but if I was a gambling man, I think I’d go with Miller this week. Eric Decker being duped into skipping the anthem suggests he was duped into thinking he’d be a factor on the Titans when he signed there this offseason, too. Maybe the guy is just easily duped, but he’s easily on my bench until he can manage more than 4 catches or 50 yards in a game.
Post-game Headline: Smashmouth rolls on as Mariota, Henry topple Texans 27-20
Steelers @ Ravens
Story To (Not) Watch: In no specific order, here’s a list of things I’d rather do than watch this football game on Sunday…
- Do my taxes
- Go to the DMV, but, like… for the kind of task that would take 3+ hours so I can avoid this game
- Make enough pasta so I can constantly check to see if the water is boiling yet, hence avoiding this game
- Listen to a Dane Cook album
- Watch the double feature version of Grindhouse, which is my least favorite movie.
- Read the 50+ think pieces published this week about why teams should/shouldn’t kneel during the national anthem.
That last activity should hammer home just how much I’m not looking forward to this one. Given the litany of factors working against this game having any possibility of being enjoyable, it’s not worth spending time on a specific storyline to look for. And there are so many things you could do instead! Have you ever tried gardening? It’s peaceful as fuck. Give that a shot instead of watching Road Ben Roethlisberger play a team that just lost 44-7 to the Jaguars.
Safe Bets: The only guy who “truly” fits into this category this week is Antonio Brown. He always gets his, regardless of the situation. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to bench Le’veon Bell either, as he’ll likely get you your 10 points, but it could be a slog. To say the least, he hasn’t been the most efficient runner in football to start the season, and it won’t get easier against a Ravens team coming off an embarrassing loss across the pond. I expect them to come out firing and give the Steelers fits in a low scoring, ugly affair.
Hope For The Best: I really wish I could put a single Raven in this category, but the London game made the Baltimore offensive outlook seem as grim and desolate as badwater basin. We were all pretty high on Javorius Allen, but Terrance West started the game and, surprisingly, Alex Collins got plenty of work as well (he looked good in the process too). To make matters worse, it was the perfect script for Buck Allen to make hay, but he was just as ineffective as everyone else on the Ravens’ offense. This is an away game for Ben Roethlisberger, so by rule he has a very low ceiling. I would feel overjoyed if I started him and he had 2 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions and a fumble lost.
Hell No: I can be prone to hyperbole, but I watch a lot of football and I have to say that Joe Flacco’s performance against the Jaguars was some of the worst quarterback play I’ve ever seen. Each time you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, and each subsequent interception seemed to have a comedic flourish to it. And to make matters worse, he managed to make Blake Bortles look like freakin’ John Elway by comparison. Stay the hell away from him and everyone else on this bottom-5 offense. Martavis Bryant goes as Big Ben does, and Big Ben is likely going in the shitter in this week. He’s “Boom/Bust” in the truest sense of the phrase. As mentioned above, Alex Collins looked pretty good running the ball in a blowout last week. I’d keep an eye on his usage, as he looked like the best back on the Ravens (which is kind of like being the best blip on a catscan).
Post-game Headline: “Steelers sleepwalk to 13-10 win in Baltimore.”
Rams @ Cowboys
Story to Watch: Three weeks in, and I’m not sure exactly what to make of the Dallas offense. I thought they were prime candidates for regression as a whole coming into this season, but so far they’ve just been inconsistent. Dak Prescott struggled with his completion percentage for the first two weeks, but then turned in a vintage performance vs. a tough Cardinals secondary last week, completing 13-18 pass attempts and dropping in 24 fantasy points to boot. Jason Witten looked like a shining beacon of hope at the quagmire that is the TE position this year, but last week his box score was as empty as Jerry Jones’ pre-game anthem gesture. Zeke was dominated and/or didn’t try very hard vs. Denver, but gave us two great performances against decent defenses in New York and Arizona. This week, against a Rams unit that surrendered a 39 points to the previously touchdown-less 49ers, we should see exactly what the Cowboys are capable of. Whether you’re buying, selling, or holding, this is the game that should give you a good glimpse of what you can expect from the ‘boys as a unit going forward (for better or for worse).
Safe Bets: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em… there’s a lot of points to be had in this matchup. I can’t stand Dak Prescott, but there’s no denying he’ll get the job done for you in fantasy. I’d certainly let it ride against the Rams. Zeke Elliott found the end zone for the first time last week, and there’s a good bet he’ll do it again vs. a team that Carlos Hyde just wrecked for two goal line scores. The Todd Gurley revival is real, and it’s fantastic. He still isn’t the most efficient runner between the tackles, but I think the Rams are going to learn from the game film that he is much better on outside runs. He may not get a crack at three touchdowns again (it could have been 5, or possibly even 6 scores against SF!), but he’s a great bet to lead the league in scoring opportunities with his volume. Fire him the hell up. We always knew that Sammy Watkins was capable of the 6-102-2 line he delivered against San Francisco. Now that Jared Goff and the Rams know, too, you can’t turn away from him while he’s healthy in a good matchup.
Hope For The Best: I’m actually a big fan of Dez Bryant this year, so owners shouldn’t take it personally when I say he’s a touchdown dependent WR2 with upside. It’s pretty badass when he does score, though, and the schedule is starting to soften up. If you’re cool with a ceiling of 75 yards and a possible score (nothing wrong with that), then go for it. I called Jared Goff a low end QB1 in last week’s matchup and I’m sticking with it this week as well. The emergence of Sammy Watkins really opened up the air attack for the Rams, and Gurley’s ability as a receiver in the red zone can do wonders to boost Goff to the next tier of fantasy QBs. It’s a pretty remarkable development, actually. Let’s chalk up Jason Witten’s dud against the Cardinals as an outlier and move on, okay? At least I’m telling myself that. We can’t afford to lose another dependable scoring option at TE this year.
Hell No: It was fun while it lasted for Cooper Kupp. His value will take a nosedive if Sammy Watkins truly becomes the first read for Goff. Think of Kupp as an Adam Thielen with a much lower yardage ceiling going forward (I swear I didn’t just compare them because they’re white).
Post-Game Headline: “New Look Rams continue scoring surge, hold on against Cowboys 31-28”
Eagles @ Chargers
Story to Watch: Last year while travelling in Japan, I decided to pop into an upscale bar to have a high-end Tokyo experience. I asked the bartender for a Grey Goose martini and he respectfully nodded. With a Grey Goose bottle in plain view on the bar, he pulled out a bottle of Absolut right in front of me, mixed the drink, handed me the cocktail and said, “One Grey Goose Martini”. I was almost impressed by the total slap in the face and the IDGAF nature of this dapper Japanese man, but more than that, reminiscing on the event made me think of how Doug Pederson is handling his RB rotation this season. You want LeGarrette Blount at first and goal from the 7 yard line? Here’s a sweep to Corey Clement. Blount is absolutely destroying the Giants and the Eagles have a 14 point lead? How about four straight runs for Wendell Smallwood. Darren Sproles is out for the year (RIP)? Let’s find a replacement to fill out the already overstuffed rotation (The Eagles already signed Kenjon Barner.) Even though the running game finally got on track to the tune of 193 yards rushing last week, it will be extremely difficult to project where the fantasy points will come from with the full blown committee going on. Unless there’s a trade or some injuries, this is still a situation to avoid for fantasy purposes. However, I will say that LeGarrette Blount looked like an effective bruiser….
Safe Bets: Speaking as an Eagles fan, this is exactly the type of game that we’ll choke in. 2-0 in the division and coming off a massive win with a historic ending? Better follow it up by blowing it against the 0-3 Chargers in front of their 13,721 “home” fans. Phil Rivers will be the primary beneficiary of the choke job, even though he stunk up the joint last week. Presumed dead person Eli Manning came alive last week and attacked the Eagles with quick hitch throws and slants over the middle. That’s exactly where Keenan Allen lives, so I think he’s in for a monster day in PPR. I’m downgrading Carson Wentz for the first time this season, but I still think he’s a quality start in this one. Even though his accuracy struggles with the deep ball are really hurting his overall scoring potential, he’s shown enough mobility and red zone acumen to supplement the missed connections on deep bombs. Zach Ertz is giving you Gronk numbers minus the touchdown potential, but he found paydirt last week. Keep it rolling.
Hope For The Best: Wentz’s aforementioned deep ball accuracy is hamstringing the entire Eagles passing attack, but it really limits Alshon Jeffery’s fantasy upside. He struggles to create separation as it is, so it was especially crushing to see Wentz sail a ball out of reach on what would’ve been a wide open 40+ yard touchdown for Alshon last week. The trust is certainly there, so Jeffery is always worth a start in a pass heavy offense, but Wentz needs to pick it up. The Eagles have been stout against the run and Melvin Gordon isn’t exactly Marshall Fault with his YAC. I think his value is 100% tied to touchdowns in this game, but you’re not sitting him. Despite my rant against the Eagles rushing attack, LeGarrette Blount is starting to get rolling now. He’s a good bet for 50 yards and a goal line plunge. Not bad for a flex.
Hell No: Here’s a fun fact: in 2/3 games this season, you would have the exact same result starting a retired player as you would starting Hunter Henry. Personally, I would wait to see a positive trend before risking another freakin’ goose egg. Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Tyrell Williams are all dart throws at best, with the result likely being you missing the dart board entirely and hitting your friend in the eye. Antonio Gates looks about done.
Post-Game Headline: “Chargers get first win of the season in front of Philly-packed Stub Hub Center, 27-17.”
Bengals @ Browns
Story to Watch: There were major improvements for the Bengals offense in a game that they should’ve won at Lambaeu field last week. While there were a lot of encouraging developments under new OC Bill Lazor, though, anyone who owns a Cincy player really needs this team to stop dicking around. This is purely my opinion, but it’s pretty tough to own a great player on a team that’s struggling. Sure, it can pay off in fantasy when it’s a team that’s developing rookies or a player trying to prove himself (see Terrelle Pryor on the Browns), but the losing can wear thin for superstars on teams that were supposed to compete. I doubt the Bengals would bench Dalton, but that could conceivably happen down the road if he hits another bad streak. It could get ugly for guys like AJ Green or Odell Beckham if their respective teams are sitting at 2-8 in the middle of November. Again, totally my opinion, but you want your high-priced WRs invested for the stretch run. In a matchup with the Browns, there’s no time like the present for Cincy to get a W and get on the right track.
Safe Bets: Antonio Brown laid waste to the Browns in the season opener, and so there’s little doubt that AJ Green is capable of torching Cleveland as well. He’s a good bet for 100 yards and a score. Guys, it’s finally time to roll out Joe Mixon. After being “mixed” into the RB rotation in the first couple of games, the short fused RB got a long leash against the Packers, totaling 21 touches for 100+ yards from scrimmage. I think the rookie has a good shot at 100 totals yards or a touchdown this week, but then again, it’s the Browns so…
Hope For the Best: It happens every year. There are always 2-3 QBs who are pretty ineffective on the gridiron but a value goldmine when it comes to fantasy. Deshone Kizer is starting to look like one of them, in the mold of early career Tyrod or 2015 Blake Bortles. The Browns may go 2-14, but Deshone will get the job done for you based on matchups. Andy Dalton was able to temporarily halt his hilarious interception pace last week thanks to a safer, quick-hitting passing scheme. That’s great for real football, but not tremendous for fantasy upside. Still, he’s a QB2 with upside against the Browns. Duke Johnson Jr. has never been one of my guys, so it feels weird to say this – he’s a pretty good flex option this week in PPR.
Hell No: Jeremy Hill got a few touches last week, but his run with the Bengals is basically over. Gio Bernard still factored in as well, but his usage goes up as the Bengals are in comeback mode, and the game script against the Browns likely won’t allow that. Throw them pizza lunchables back in the stands – Isiaiah Crowell simply can’t be trusted yet. He’s a hold until you see a positive development, and outright drop if you don’t in a few weeks. Kizer has to throw to someone, so Kenny Britt has an outside shot a scoring for a 2nd consecutive week. I wouldn’t bet your car payment on it or anything.
Post-Game Headline: “Bengals get first win behind Mixon’s coming out party”
Panthers @ Patriots
Story to Watch: Last week I harshly compared Carolina’s offense to a dog shamefully taking a shit on your front lawn. Turns out I may have been too generous. In plus spot at home against a Saints defense that could only be described as Red Cross levels of charitable, the Panthers only managed to scrape together 13 points and looked ugly doing it. While the Panthers were missing Greg Olsen and lost Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury in the first quarter, the primary culprit for the painful offensive display was the signal caller himself. Cam Newton simply doesn’t look healthy, comfortable, accurate, interested, invested, motivated, I don’t know… alive? It’s a disaster from a fantasy perspective and the Panthers need to make a decision soon. It’s not going to get any easier for them travelling to New England, but the question will be if Cam is out there in person for the beat down. With the way things are going this season, it might be worth it to let him rehab his shoulder for a bit.
Safe Bets: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowksi should be firmly stuck in your lineup with Gorilla Glue regardless, but the Patriots are at home and they’re red hot, so obviously keep them rolling. It was great to see that kind of outing from Brandin Cooks last week. We’ve seen that kind of performance from his time on the Saints, but let’s see if the yardage output can be more consistent coming off the huge game. I like his chances for 100+ yards. Or hey, maybe he’ll get you 4 catches for 31 yards. That would be a very Brandin Cooks thing to do. Even though Danny Amendola returned to the lineup, Chris Hogan proved that his role in the offense is secure. He delivered two touchdowns and his stock is only rising, so I like him as a WR3 with WR2 upside this week. With or without Cam Newton, I like Christian McCaffrey in a game that the Panthers will be trailing in from the opening gun. Rivera finally unlocked his first rounder’s potential as a receiver during last week’s embarrassing loss to the Saints, and with the litany of injuries Carolina has suffered, he’s really all they’ve got. I’ve stated before that I needed to see CmC’s role as a receiver increase before trusting him, and here we are. I’m nothing if not an honest man and a mediocre fantasy writer.
Hope For The Best: After a sample size of three games, we have a pretty clear picture of how Mike Gillislee will be used in New England. I called him a must-start vs. the Texans, but his services weren’t required in a game that was much closer than expected. I’m not exactly doubling down, but the Panthers are atrocious, so there will be plenty of carries and clock killing drives in the second half that Gill will thrive in (and, of course, he’s their Blount on the goal line.) Same goes for James White, who really disappointed last week but is the preferred Pats option at RB between the 20s. I don’t think Brady will need to throw for 400 yards this game, so White should have some value. I’m tentatively giving Jonathan Stewart some flex appeal for his red zone scoring opportunities, but they’re few and far between this season.
Hell No: If Cam Newton is active, he’s a hell no – you just can’t trust him. If he’s benched, Derek Anderson is a hell no – you just can’t trust him. Danny Amendola came back from injury with whimper last week, following up his strong opener with just 3 catches for 48 yards. I think Amendola and Hogan will go back and forth on the big weeks this season, but for now, Hogan is in the driver’s seat. There’s a strong chance that Kelvin Benjamin misses time, but if he’s out there, I mean… what will you expect from him at this point? If he’s not active, Devin Funchess stands to benefit, although Devin Funchess’ talent level would beg to differ.
Post-game Headline: “Riverboat Ron falls to 1-3 as Brady, Cooks set panthers on fire 34-14”
49ers @ Cardinals
Safe Bets: We’re going to miss Larry Fitzgerald when he’s gone. That 13-149-1 performance against Dallas will likely be his best of the season in PPR, but he’s got a great floor and Carson Palmer looked serviceable for the first time this year. I’d feel confident starting both – you’ve gotta get a piece of that Niners defense that just surrendered 41 points. A wise man named Omar Little once said, “Worrying ‘bout you be like worrying if the sun gon’ come up.” This is how you have to look at owning Carlos Hyde this season. He gave us a scare in the first quarter of last week’s game, but then he returned and dominated with 25 carries and 2 touchdowns. Any running back could get injured at any moment, so you should just plug him in while he’s healthy and cross the injury bridge when you get there. He should continue to give you RB1 numbers, so quit complaining. Pierre Garcon proved me wrong in a big way last week, hauling in 7 catches for 142 yards in a shootout against LA. It seems that Brian Hoyer knows what he has in the veteran receiver now, and I expect him to funnel targets to him again this week (provided he can roam and avoid Patrick Peterson).
Hope For The Best: We could all use a bit of humble pie now and then, and JJ Nelson served us a fat slice Monday night with a dud of a performance against the Cowboys. The consensus top waiver add for week 3 followed up scores in consecutive games with a fat egg, hauling in 0 receptions on just 3 targets. He’ll certainly improve from that, but they 5-120-1 line that he gave us in week 2 shouldn’t be what we expect as his ceiling. Brian Hoyer delivered huge points in a shootout against the Rams, but I don’t expect that to be the case this week. Still, if you’re hurting, he could provide some garbage time scoring and get the job done in a pinch.
Hell No: Whether you’re considering Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, or Kerwynn Williams – don’t. There isn’t any value to be had in the post-DJ rushing game in the Desert. Jaron Brown looked like he was going to be “the guy” last week after a first quarter score, but then he saw little action as old man Larry Fitzgerald dominated the rest of the game. It is such a crapshoot outside of Fitz, but JJ Nelson has a better chance for targets than Brown. I’d pass.
Post-Game Headline: “Cardinals go to .500 as Niners, Hyde too little, too late.”
Jaguars @ Jets
Safe Bets: I half expect Blake Bortles to walk around with Union Jack pants and sport a cockney accent after how comfortable the Jaguars looked in London last week. After wrecking the Ravens 44-7, I’m a little surprised the quarterback didn’t go all in and provide postgame comments like “Bruv, on teley you can’t see, but it were a right proper rodgering we gave ‘em and they couldn’t do bollocks for fook all, innit.” In any event, expect some of the Guy Ritchie swagger to carry over for Bortles in a plus matchup with the Jets. Leonard Fournette is dependable as the day is long, and the Jets are in for a long ass day with how great the Jacksonville defense has been playing. Expect him to get 20+ touches in a game that the Jaguars shouldn’t struggle to control the clock in. Marquise Lee seems to be the go-to option in the wake of Allen Robinson’s injury. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever string together consecutive 100+ yard performances, but the talent has always been there for the former USC standout. Now that he has the opportunity, too, I expect him to seize it.
Hope for The Best: It was an improvement for Bilal Powell last week, but not one that you can get too excited about – kind of like your fuckup son bringing home a C- instead of a D+ on his algebra test. However, Matt Forte having a potential absence opens the door for Powell to finally get come catches out of the backfield. If you don’t have better options, the Jets should be playing catchup in this one and Powell could have his “breakout” performance. Allen Hurns has been scoring the touchdowns, but I still think Lee is the Jacksonville Receiver that you want. Marcedes Lewis reminds me of former NBA player Tim Thomas – all the talent in the world, but he only shows up when it’s convenient for him. In the current hellscape that is the TE position, however, you could do worse than starting a guy who just scored three touchdowns.
Hell No: I’ve actually been pretty impressed with Josh McCown this season, considering it’s the Jets and everything. He’s been surprisingly adequate from a real life football standpoint, but you shouldn’t touch him against a Jacksonville Defense that’s starting to look all business. Same goes for Robby Anderson, who’s a hard pass despite hauling in a 60+ yard touchdown last week. I saw a stat that CB Jalen Ramsey’s longest completion allowed this season is 8 yards, so yea… don’t bank on the deep TD happening again. Chris Ivory is hard to start, but keep an eye on his usage. He looks spry and is a great handcuff going forward.
Post-game Headline: “Jaguars keep it rolling stateside, ground Jets 31-14”
Lions @ Vikings
Story to Watch: Don’t look now, but the Lions Defense appears to be a serious customer for opposing quarterbacks this season. Darius Slay and company were jumping Matt Ryan’s routes all afternoon last week, forcing the MVP quarterback to throw 3 interceptions and generally refusing to allow him to get comfortable. But more than that, they looked fast in the process. They’re quickly approaching “set it and forget it” status for me, simply because their penchant for forcing turnovers will offset the points they may give up to the few top offenses remaining in their schedule. And right now, that’s just looking like an away matchup against New Orleans and two games against Green Bay. I don’t usually talk defenses in this post, but I’d scoop them up where you can and enjoy the wonders of post-streaming life.
Safe Bets: Part of the reason I’m able to effectively write these posts is because I watch the highlights of every game from the previous week. This is usually a drag, but not when it comes to Vikings games because Stefon Diggs. Without fail, he does 2 or 3 things per week that simply makes my jaw drop. He straight up attacks the ball when it’s in the air, and that kind of talent should be entrenched in your lineup (even against this Detroit D). Dalvin Cook has the juice, baby. He’s one of these guys who seems to get better as the game goes on, and I think the Vikings will commit to the run early in this one. He’s probably the #1 fantasy asset in dynasty leagues (okay, maybe it’s Kareem). Matt Stafford has been an early bright spot from an efficiency standpoint. Even against a tough Vikings secondary, I like his chances at a 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hey, that’ll pay the bills. Golden Tate is the WR you want on Detroit. He was inches away from a 2nd touchdown last week and his targets are only going up.
Hope for The Best: I hope you didn’t abandon ship on Adam Thielen after it seemed like Bradford’s knee ligaments snapped for the 27th time. He proved that he can get it done regardless. With the ball hawking Lions secondary keying in on Minny’s deadly wideout duo, there’s a chance for Kyle Rudolph to finally make a splash here. Going out on a limb a bit, but I like him for 4-58 and a red zone touchdown. Remember how I said MVP Matt Ryan struggled against this defense? Yea, Case Keenum isn’t exactly in the MVP conversation. He was very impressive last week, but Keenum has a habit of duping the fantasy world with these one off performances. He’s probably safe, but I wouldn’t expect too much this week.
Hell No: I never root for any player to do poorly (well, except for Terrelle Pryor and Dak), but I do take a modicum of satisfaction when Eric Ebron continues to fool people. What am I missing with this guy? He has drive-killing hands and never cracks 60 yards; I just didn’t get the hype this preseason. He should be a non-factor once more against the Vikings. Marvin Jones Jr. is like the Jerome Bettis of wide receivers this season – he’s TD or bust. If you’re debating between Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick – first of all, my condolences – I would probably give the edge to Riddick for the outside shot at red zone receiving TD.
Post-game Headline: “Diggs Dazzles, but Lions overwhelm Keenum in 27-21 loss for the Vikings.”
Colts @ Seahawks
Story to Watch: In what was probably the most encouraging development of the entire week, the Seattle Seahawks underwent their annual transformation from trainwreck clusterfuck to NFL Blitz passing powerhouse. It was like watching a nature show…
[British narrator voice] “On a southern excursion from the Cascade Mountain range to the warm plains of Tennessee, the Pacific Seahawk sheds its ugly rushing game and allows a truly marvelous transformation to occur. (closeup of passing touchdowns) Now a creature of the air, the formerly grounded Seahawk can seek the endzone at will from a higher vantage point.”
In all seriousness, this type of game typically doesn’t happen until at least November, so this was a new development for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. If the floodgates are truly open, then everyone on the Seattle offense gets a massive upgrade.
Safe Bets: If the Seahawks are committed to throwing it (which they should), then Russell Wilson is my #1 QB for a home date against the Colts. I similarly expect a huge game from Doug Baldwin, provided he’s healthy enough to be out there. Jimmy Graham is no longer on the shit list after hauling in 7 catches for 72 yards during the Seahawks aerial outburst last week. It’s nice to see him back in the fold, but it’s not nice to see that his habit of celebrating like Khal Drogo after every 6-yard reception is alive and well. Relax, dude. Hard to recommend anyone on the Colts, but Jacoby Brisset breathed some life into TY Hilton last week. He has a chance to do some major damage in garbage time.
Hope For The Best: There really isn’t any competition in the Seattle backfield, but Chris Carson will have trouble all season behind the Seahawks offensive line. Make that double against a Colts rush defense that’s been a bright spot so far, so don’t expect RB1 numbers this week. I don’t have a problem if you want to play Jack Doyle, but he was much less effective with Jacoby Brisset at QB. Finding a serviceable tight end on the waiver wire is a barfight, though, so do what you gotta do.
Hell No: I think it’s safe to say that Donte Moncrief has zero value without Andrew Luck in the lineup, and that’s coming from a huge fan of the grim criefer. Jacoby Brissett managed a very good fantasy performance against the Browns, but playing at the Clink is a different beast. Frank Gore is solid as hell, but it’s easy to sit him at Seattle.
Post-game Headline: “Seahawks soar to 34-20 victory behind Wilson, Graham.”
Redskins @ Chiefs
Safe Bets: It’s fun when a godmode running back emerges in fantasy every year, but usually it doesn’t occur until midseason (think Devonta Freeman’s breakout a few years back, Ajayi’s 200+ yard streak last season, etc.) The fact that Kareem Hunt is a baller from the start virtually guarantees anyone who drafted him a ticket to the playoffs. He may not continue his absurd 50+ yard touchdown streak, but who am I to say that? I would love nothing more than to see Tyreek Hill leave Josh Norman in the dust, and he seems to love the limelight. I bet he has a huge night. Travis Kelce took the week off after victimizing the Eagles in week 2, but I think he’ll see regular targets once again on Monday night. This isn’t “safe” but, there’s no way in hell I would sit Chris Thompson if I had him, even in a tough matchup at Kansas City. You’re riding the hot hand – if he busts, well, it’s not like you made the wrong play.
Hope for The Best: Kirk Cousins was tremendous last week, but I’d reel it back a bit on the road at Kansas City. He should still deliver low end QB1 numbers, though. Same goes for Alex Smith, who will benefit from his harem of skill players doing all of the work for him. I think he’ll go for 3 touchdowns on national TV.
Hell No: Noted “Sh*teater” Terrelle Pryor Sr. is definitely living up to Janoris Jenkins’ slander through 3 games this year. In a game in which Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards, Pryor managed just 2 catches for 19 yards. I really don’t think he’s that good at football, but there’s nothing more you can do but hold him and hope for an improvement. The running game wasn’t a focal point for Washington last week, and I doubt it will be featured against the Chiefs either. That means the upside will be somewhat capped for Rob Kelley. I’d hope for a goal line plunge to salvage what could be a tough night of running.
Post-game Headline: “Hunt, Hill late game burst key Chiefs win in Arrowhead, 27-24,”
Bills @ Falcons
Story To Watch: Out of all of the faux outrage regarding the league-wide demonstrations before/during the national anthem last weekend, the most hilarious instance had to be the talking heads’ collective conniption about Lesean McCoy stretching. You can probably tell where I stand on the issue (hey, I’m just here to watch the games), but if he did it intentionally – are you really surprised? It was a very Lesean McCoy thing to do. If you don’t believe me, here’s a brief history of Shady’s “antics”…
- He notoriously left a .20 cent tip as “a statement” (lol)
- He dragged the mother of his child through the mud on social media, then tasked his followers with doing the same (they did)
- He got in a fistfight or something with off-duty police officers at a night club
- One time in Philly, McCoy and Brent Celek showed up to play pickup basketball at my gym. They were fine as players, but Shady constantly spit on the hardwood floor. It was super weird.
It’s not a “story to watch”, but my god this guy is a knucklehead. Here’s hoping he gives us a great performance finally so we can go back to enjoying him as a football player.
Safe Bets: I wouldn’t stress about Matt Ryan’s turnovers last week. Those were his first interceptions in over 300 attempts, and a few of them were amazing plays by the defense. He’s firmly in the overall QB1 conversation at home against Buffalo. I think people should stop worrying about Julio Jones’ lack of touchdowns. This is what you signed up for, and it’s still better than 98% of the options out there. Plus, you don’t want to miss the 11 catch, 296 yard “Julio game” that happens once per season. Lesean McCoy has faced tough matchups so far, but I think he’ll score his first touchdown of the year and give you 100+ total yards. I’ve never owned Devonta Freeman, but I’ll be damned if he’s not one of my favorite players in fantasy. He’s giving you a great return on that first round investment, and he’s a solid bet for good yardage totals and another touchdown plunge at home this week.
Hope For The Best: It’s tough to find room for Tevin Coleman in shallow leagues, but he’s doing a lot with a little so far this season. In a Buffalo passing game that regards wide receivers as second class citizens, Charles Clay is a great play in a matchup that is likely to produce a lot of points. While the Atlanta Defense can be a bit feisty, I like Tyrod Taylor as a (very) low-end QB1 this week. I think he’ll get it done with his legs and he doesn’t commit too many mistakes.
Hell No: Taylor Gabriel is too fluky, Austin Hooper has been a massive disappointment since week 1, and Mohammed Sanu will have limited upside in what I’m betting will be Julio’s breakout game of the season. If you were announcing the Bills starters in the style of the SNL intro, Zay Jones and Jordan Matthews would barely qualify for the “featuring…” section.
Post-game Headline: “Julio Jones erupts as Falcons topple visiting Bills, 41-27”
Giants @ Buccaneers
Safe Bets: If you squinted your eyes really hard last week, Jameis Winston might’ve looked like the spitting image of Marc Bulger. With 328 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, it was most certainly a “Jameis” game. He forces the ball way too much, but I like him to give you at least similar results against a good Giants Defense. Jameis has a habit of telegraphing the ball to Mike Evans, regardless of how bracketed he is in the secondary. I think Evans will bounce back and find the end zone this week. Eli Manning came to life thanks to an adjustment to a quick passing attack against the Eagles last week. This was boon to his fantasy value and his golf swing, as another sack could result in the statuesque QB requiring a hip replacement. His value is imminently tied to Odell Beckham, who was in fine form both as a receiver and an instigator in Philly. I think he’ll keep be the top scoring WR of the week in what should be a very entertaining game.
Hope For The Best: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m surprised at how much Desean Jackson is being used thus far for the Bucanneers. I figured he’d play more of the role of decoy, but he has serious value as an upside WR3 with Jameis Winston. Oh, and he loves to sting the Giants’ asses. After a slow start, Cameron Brate picked up where he left off in 2016 as a red zone threat. The Giants are very generous against Tight Ends, so he’s a solid play this week. Sterling Shepard got a big chuck of his yardage on a broken play last week, but he has a lot more value in this quick passing scheme. He’s a good PPR play. I think Jacquizz Rodgers will be a solid, if not exciting flex option.
Hell No: Now I’d have to check the statistics to be certain, but it seems like the Giants haven’t had a 5+ yard run since George W. Bush was in office. I swear all these guys do is run for 2 yard gains the entire damn game. So yeah, I would pass on Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, or whoever else gets the honor of getting jacked behind the line by Ereck Flowers’ assignment. It was an improvement for Brandon Marshall, but let’s see how involved he is this week before we pick him back out of the dumpster.
Post-game Headline: “Odell Beckham doubles down on celebration, mimics taking a dump on the field as Giants win thriller 33-31”
Saints @ Dolphins (London)
Safe Bets: One week after dismantling the lifeless Panthers, I don’t think Drew Brees will have any issues picking apart a Dolphins defense that was just victimized by Josh McCown, of all people. Brees hasn’t shown any rust at all in his age 38 season. Michael Thomas should similarly feast, and Willie Sneed is back in the fold. Sean Payton suggested that the golden haired deep threat would be eased back into the rotation, however, so I’d temper expectations. I’m calling it – this is the week that Mark Ingram gets you 10 points. If he can’t in this matchup, then, well, it’s time to just punt on this rushing attack altogether. If we’re taking this literally, Jarvis Landry is latex safe when it comes to PPR leagues. He’s an extension of the run game in this offense, but he’s not going to win any yardage titles under Adam Gase.
Hope For The Best: Welp, it was fun while it lasted for Jay Cutler. He may not win you your league as a QB2 with upside, but he can certainly help win your week against a Saints team that will likely be leading early. He’s a safe bet for some good ol’ fashioned fantasy garbage in London. Speaking of garbage, Davante Parker totally salvaged his would-be dud of an afternoon with some final drive heroics last week. He needs to be more of a factor in the standard offense before you can trust him as your every week WR3. Jay Ajayi stunk up the joint in a shortened effort against the Jets, but I think we’ll see rhinoceros Jay playing in front of his people in London. Provided the game doesn’t get out of hand early, expect a massive workload. Brandon Coleman is doing a pretty good Marques Colston impression in the red zone. He’s not a bad option if you’re looking for a dart throw touchdown play, but don’t expect more than 2 targets.
Hell No: There simply isn’t a lot of value that Adrian Peterson brings to the table. It feels weird to say this about Purple Jesus, but he’s droppable. I feel the same way about Alvin Kamara, but I would hold him until we see his usage increase. The day that you don’t have to roster Colby Fleener any longer is a good day. A single target out of 29 pass attempts? That doesn’t cut the mustard.
Post-game Headline: “Brees, Thomas spoil Ajayi homecoming as Saints win 30-17.”
Raiders @ Broncos
Story To Watch: As a football, it was great to see Jamaal Charles looking like the JC of old after battling back from an knee injury. As guy who recently called CJ Anderson an RB1, however, it was decidedly LESS great to see this development. I’m a little surprised at that OC Mike McCoy is going with the nearly even split, as he rode Melvin Gordon almost exclusively during his time as head coach in San Diego. It might have been a one-off situation against Buffalo, but the carry distribution is definitely something to monitor in a divisional game against Oakland this week.
Safe Bets: Even against the vaunted Denver defense, I’d feel okay using Derek Carr after that embarrassment of a performance on Monday night. I can see why you might be scared off, but Carr is better than any streaming options and he has a good shot of bouncing back (the same can’t be said for the rest of the Oakland offense). Despite what I mentioned above, I think you can safely play CJ Anderson in this one. He might not get 21 carries like in week 2, but he should receive more than the 8 he received last week.
Hope For The Best: I have no doubt that Amari Cooper will get back on track, eventually, but it’s certainly hard to go all in on him vs. the Denver secondary. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders can both provide WR2 numbers for you, even with Trevor Siemien coming back down to earth a bit. Jamaal Charles is certainly wetting his beak, and he’s getting redzone touches to boot. I think he’ll get you 50-60 total yards and a touchdown.
Hell No: It’s highly unlikely that Marshawn Lynch goes beastmode against a Denver front that held Zeke to just 8 yards on 9 carries. You probably don’t have better options if you own Michael Crabtree, but I don’t love his outlook in this one.
Post-game Headline: “Anderson, Charles force Raiders into submission, 24-17”