Patriots @ Buccaneers
Story To Watch: Do you like fantasy points? Then the story to watch is the entirety of this game. While there’s always a risk of TNF producing a turd, the horrendous New England defense has proven that it will spot you 30 points regardless of what day of the week it is. There are multiple storylines to keep an eye on…
- Will Jameis make you think, “Damn, this kid has the right stuff” before, just moments later, he doinks a bullet pass off the back shoulder of his target for a red zone interception?
- Will Mike Evans commit offensive pass interference more than 6 times this game, and if so, how many times will it be penalized?
- Will OJ Howard be left with more open land than a Montana rancher again?
- Will we see the 37 yard Brandin Cooks or the 186 yard Brandin Cooks?
- Will Chris Hogan continue his 60 yard and/or touchdown streak?
- Will Gronk victimize you if you’re playing against him?
That last one is a rhetorical question, obviously. You’re screwed, pal. In any event, I’m looking forward to this purely from a football perspective. It’s like one of those matchups that you don’t get to see too often, like Packers-Saints or Steelers-Seahawks. With two quarterbacks who love to sling it, we should be in for a treat this Thursday.
Safe Bets: This will be a regular fantasy buffet, at least through the air. You can feel free to start Tom Brady and Jameis Winston with confidence. It may not be the cleanest performance, but you know that Jameis is going to hook up with Mike Evans at least once in the painted area. There’s simply no one in the Pats secondary that can stop him. Rob Gronkowski will similarly feast and I feel confident guaranteeing he gets 100 yards and a touchdown, barring injury. If I were a betting man, I think this would be a “Good Cooks Game” for Brandin Cooks.
Hope For The Best: I haven’t been completely on fire when it comes to “ride the hot hand” reasoning with my fantasy advice to date, but there simply isn’t a reason to sit Chris Hogan until he proves otherwise. Tom Brady loves him. You know what Mike Gillislee is at this point – give it a go if you’re comfortable with 12-14 carries, but with the upside of goal line plunges. His scoring is totally dependent upon Gronk getting tripped up at the 1 yard line. I like James White in what should turn into a good old fashioned shootout, and the same goes for Cameron Brate. He’s starting to come into his own now, and not a moment too soon for those of us looking for tight end relief. Jameis isn’t locked in with Desean Jackson yet, but he’s been open on some deep balls. I think he’ll cash in.
Hell No: There will be tons of points, but it will be hard to expect the same workload for Jacquizz Rodgers with Doug Martin coming back. Neither are a true “hell no” in a juicy matchup, but the workload might be more evenly split than Martin holdouts are willing to admit. Expect a nearly even workload in this one. Danny Amendola doesn’t have the catch totals to be fantasy viable in shallow leagues. OJ Howard isn’t the apple of Jameis’ eye just yet, and the huge line from last week was the result of a single busted play.
Post-Game Statline: “Jameis, Bucs take the next step, beat Pats 36-33 in Thursday Thriller.”
49ers @ Colts
Story to Watch: I normally wouldn’t spend a lot of time on a match up like this, but as the sinkhole-sized crater in your lineup likely indicates, the bye weeks are officially upon us. Still, as far as last resort options go, this battle of trash ass teams should still put up a decent amount of points. I’m expecting it to be a comedy of errors, though, and whoever is the victor will likely be the result of sucking somewhat less. Whether it’s Brian Hoyer or Jacoby Brisset, the winning quarterback will look about as impressive as Homer Simpson’s foray into the boxing world…
Safe Bets: The Colts actually have a somewhat stingy rush defense, but provided that Carlos Hyde is able to put off his hip replacement for at least one more week, “El Guapo” is a clear must-start. We all talked about how Matt Breida would slowly siphon carries from the workhorse back, but there’s just this small, minor issue of talent in the way. This is Hyde’s show. Free from the vice grips of Patrick Peterson and facing a Colts secondary that surrendered 48 points less than a week ago, Pierre Garcon figures to have his best game since the shootout with the Rams a few weeks back. With another week of Jacoby Brissett at the helm, it’s hard to get too excited about T.Y. Hilton. That said, he’ll fare much better against a Niners defense that has surrendered the 5th most points to wide receivers this season.
Hope For The Best: Like a convict trying to satisfy his urges during a long prison bid, a man does what he has to do under extreme circumstances. It’s no different than needing a fill-in option with the multitude of starting caliber QBs on bye this week (alright, maybe it’s a little different). You don’t have to justify starting Jacoby Brissett in a really nice match up at home, but you have to be aware of the risks, too, just like in the penitentiary. I have a similar opinion about Brian Hoyer, but I probably can’t take this questionable analogy any further. Frank Gore hasn’t been great so far outside of a couple of goal line touchdowns, but the matchup is hard to ignore on a heavy bye week. Get one more decent game out of him before Marlon Mack returns.
Hell No: Despite whipping Shaq Griffin on national television, Donte Moncrief has zero value without Andrew Luck. The matchup is nice, but you’re risking a 2-27-0 line. There really aren’t any other skill players to discuss here.
Postgame Headline: “Colts send reeling 49ers to 0-5 start after 26-19 win at home.”
Chargers @ Giants
Story To Watch: Man, we’re going to miss these quarterbacks when they’re gone. I don’t mean that we’ll reminisce over Philip Rivers’ personal achievements (of which there are few) or his playoff wins (of which there are even fewer). No, I’m referring to the weekly ritual of watching a grown man absolutely lose his shit on the field. I think I’ve mentioned some iteration of this during every article this season, but he did it again just last week! I know that Rivers is a red blooded American man who has sired 7 children, but it’s clear that he spends his downtime around one too many toddler meltdowns in a grocery store. I may be off on this one, but I’m guessing throwing the ball at your center’s ass 3+ times per game doesn’t play well when your team is 0-4 and “your” city doesn’t want a damn thing to do with the franchise.
As for Eli, well, there’s just something familiar about him that will be tough to replace. At this stage in his career he’s like the dying embers of a campfire just before dawn. Too cool to ever burn you, but warm enough to stick around for just a little bit longer. With his team winless and facing the very real prospect of this being one of his last seasons, Eli is channeling Dylan Thomas and refuses to go gentle into that good night. Playing his best football on a sinking ship…whoever thought manning face could look so poetic?
Safe Bets: As I mentioned above, Eli Manning isn’t going down without a fight. I’d feel comfortable starting him with the Giants’ backs against the wall. Same goes for Philip Rivers, who rages against the dying of the light in his own unique way, but is still a good bet for mid QB1 numbers. The Giants just allowed a huge game from Jameis, and that was with numerous Jameis foibles. Odell Beckham Jr.’s drop issues fly under the radar, but he should bounce back this week in a must-win (for real this time, guys) game for the Giants. Melvin Gordon complained about touches this past week AND is facing a Giants rush defense that’s so bad it turned the pass happy Eagles into a run-first offense. He hasn’t been impressive, but those factors make him an easy RB1 call this week (just don’t expect the YPC to jump off the page – this is still Mel Gordon). Keenan Allen moves around a bit, so he should avoid Janoris Jenkins enough to have a strong PPR day.
Hope For The Best: There’s a good chance that Evan Engram could be a long-term solution for you at tight end. He’s been more involved each week and Eli clearly trusts him. A friend – a piece of shit Giants fan – also told me that Hunter Henry is a lock, so I did some research and it turns out he was right. Big Blue has allowed at least 6 catches and 1 touchdown per week to tight ends so far, so you should feel more confident than usual trotting out HH. Tyrell Williams had a nice game vs. the Eagles, but most of that came through a deep 75 yard bomb on broken coverage. Still, I think a 5-71-1 line is attainable.
Hell No: I’m not starting him, but would you be surprised if Antonio Gates has 2 catches, 9 yards, and one fat guy touchdown on the goal line? Starting a Giants running back is like taking expired painkillers. It might give you a brief buzz, but there’s an even better chance that there’ll be zero effect and you’ll have stomach problems afterwards. So Orleans Darkwa and Paul Perkins are out (if healthy). I get that you’re excited about Wayne Gallman, but we’ve been here before with this backfield. He’s not bad for a stash, though.
Prediction: Eli makes last stand, keeps Giants alive after 27-24 win over Chargers.
Cardinals @ Eagles
Story To Watch: I was in Nashville this past weekend and we all decided to go skeet shooting along the Cumberland river. One of my friends asked the guide – an ornery, cigar-chomping southern man – if it was alright if we cursed up a storm during the session. The guide nodded, quickly blew away two clay pigeons with shotgun blasts, grabbed his cigar and said, “motherfuckin’ cocksuckin’ birds.” Watching the extreme prejudice with which he dispatched the “birds”, I couldn’t help but think about how similarly Larry Fitzgerald must feel every time he sees the Eagles on his schedule. In just seven career games against Philadelphia, Fitz has totaled 41 catches, 693 yards and 8 touchdowns, and that doesn’t even include the 9-152-3 line during his one playoff matchup with the Eagles. That’s a large enough body of work to conclude that Larry Fitz and The Dude feel exactly the same when it comes to matchups with Philly. You might bet against a 34 year old receiver, but there’s no way I’m sitting him this week against the Eagles’ exploitable secondary. “Cocksuckin’ birds”, indeed.
Safe Bets: Opposing offenses have schemed perfectly for the Eagles since the week 2, and the result is that the vaunted Philly pass rush isn’t getting close to quarterbacks anymore. Eli Manning and Philip Rivers put in solid fantasy performances, and I think that will continue for Carson Palmer. Expect lots of quick passes and at least 2 touchdowns. Zach Ertz has an 8 point floor every week and is Wentz’s favorite target, so he’s locked in as a top 3 tight end option this game (and every game). I think it’s safe to say that I have Larry Fitzgerald ranked very high this week.
Hope For The Best: After a furious start in which it seemed the Eagles would lead the league in passing attempts, the more balanced offensive approach since week 3 has firmly revoked Carson Wentz’s fantasy upside. He’s made great strides as a passer, but his point totals will look more like his rookie year numbers than the weekly 20+ point guy we thought he could be. The Eagles might as well be wearing leather helmets with how much they’re running the ball lately, but that doesn’t mean Wendell Smallwood will automatically get the lion’s share. Legarrette Blount got stuffed 3 times at the goal line after this Beast Mode-esque run last week, but he’s still the best bet for a rushing TD of the duo against the Cardinals. John Brown is close to full health and has roasted the Eagles before, though not quite to Fitz’s extent. He’s a WR3 with big boom potential this week.
Hell No: Although he scored a short touchdown last week, Alshon Jeffery wasn’t particularly impressive against the Chargers. He simply isn’t hauling in the contested 50-50 balls that the Eagles signed him to catch, and I’m starting to wonder if Wentz is taking notice. Unless he starts catching passes in tight coverage, he’s going to have a hard time eclipsing a 4-60-0 ceiling most weeks. He’s definitely more of a WR3 against the stifling Patrick Peterson. JJ Nelson takes a back seat with a fully healthy John Brown returning, and Andre Ellington can offer a bit of flex appeal in PPR, but that’s it. Torrey Smith has dropped so many balls this season that he apologized to the world on twitter. Corey Clement might get 8-10 touches, but that’s tough to gamble on. I wouldn’t be too enthusiastic starting Chris Johnson against an Eagles D that shuts down the run, either.
Postgame Headline: “The Eagles withstand Fitz’s onslaught, run away with division lead after 28-17 win.”
Seahawks @ Rams
Story To Watch: With Chris Carson no longer in the picture, it will be interesting see if Pete Carroll actually commits to a single back or if it’s a full blown committee going forward. Now, there’s no question that the Seahawks Head Coach loves talking “loads”, and even yesterday he said that Lacy and Rawls would “take the load” evenly, but it will be difficult to discern what that means before seeing another a game. One thing is for certain – the man is obsessed with loads. In any event, I wrote about how I personally feel this backfield situation will shake out. I don’t hold it against you whatsoever if you disagree with my assessment, however. I’m pulling for Fat Ed, but this could be a situation to avoid in what’s becoming a deadly passing offense.
Safe Bets: I’m a very vocal Russel Wilson detractor, but it should be clear by now that I’m simply a jaded former owner who got damaged goods last season. He simply looks like a new man (or rather, an older Russ from the pre-injury days), making vintage rollouts and throwing against his body to complete passes way downfield. He’s my top ranked QB for the rest of the season. Doug Baldwin has been a major benefactor of the switch to pass-first, and he has a great matchup to boot. Jimmy Graham seriously, seriously sucks at catching the ball sometimes, and it cost Russ an interception in an otherwise perfect passing performance. Still, the yardage is getting better each week, and he’s a good bet for a red zone target. Even though it’s against the Seahawks defense, there’s no way you can sit Marshall Faulk. Oh, my mistake, the dreads should’ve tipped me off… that’s Todd Gurley accounting for 100% of his team’s league-leading offense out there. Gurley has picked it up on the ground and I’m loving his contributions on passing routes. Talk about taking off the reins – Sean McVay has really unlocked this dude’s potential in this scheme.
Hope For The Best: While Jared Goff looks like a dependable QB1ish/strong QB2, I’m gonna have to pass on sending him out there this week. He’ll be good, but the potential for something like 280 yards and 3 touchdowns is incredibly slim. I totally get it if you want to start Thomas Rawls in a seemingly wide open backfield, but as we mentioned before, Eddie Lacy is taking some of that load as well (and rookie J.D. McKissic will clean up the mess). Tyler Lockett will be a boom/bust WR3 at best, but I don’t know, I just have a feeling. Sammy Watkins is the fantasy equivalent of a roulette table full of energy, everyone is spreading money around, there’s some great coverage aannnnd it’s a double zero. I just don’t know anymore with this guy, but we all know the talent is there. Cooper Kupp came back on the map after Watkins seemingly took his job, but now he’s firmly back on the WR3 radar in ppr leagues.
Hell No: He made a big splash on national TV last week, but I don’t think you can depend on J.D. McKissic getting more than 6-7 touches against the Rams. Paul Richardson is a dart throw, and that goes double for Robert Woods against the legion of boom.
PostGame Headline: “Rams look like the real deal, but fall to Seahawks in close finish 31-27”
Packers @ Cowboys
Safe Bets: The Cowboys defense was just brutalized by the relatively tame combo of Jared Goff and Greg Zuerlein, so what do you think Aaron Rodgers will do to them? Every Packers possession in this game should come with an NC-17 warning, so that means Jordy Nelson is an automatic start in a good spot to score again. Randall Cobb also found the end zone last week, and with Davante Adams reportedly on the mend but still in the concussion protocol after a sickening hit, Cobb is a good bet to pick up the slack to the tune of an 8-83-1 stat line. Ezekiel Elliott isn’t quite the monster that he was during the rookie season, but there’s no way you’re complaining about 20+ carries, 80+ yards and a touchdown each week. Outside of an uninspired performance against Denver, he’s doing exactly what you want. It’ll continue against Green Bay. Add Dak Prescott to the list of players whom I personally despise but are performing great in fantasy. I bet he gives you three more touchdowns in what’s sure to be a high scoring affair. Conversely, I was thrilled to see Dez Bryant have a good fantasy game without scoring a touchdown last week, which is new for him. I’ve always been a fan, and it’s safe to say he has unfinished business with the Packers. Think of him WR2 that will give you WR1 numbers this Sunday.
Hope For The Best: Although he claims that he’s planning on fighting through the broken ribs he suffered last Thursday night, it’s hard to expect RB1 numbers from Ty Montgomery. We kind of knew this was coming at some point, as it’s tough to imagine a converted receiver take the pounding of a bellcow running back week after week and not suffer the consequences. In the words of the immortal Uncle Junior, I guess he never had the makings of a varsity athlete…
Aaron Rodgers said that they want to get Martellus Bennett more involved, and I think this is the week, you guys. So far he’s been more like Jermichael Finley in terms of his production, but I think the turnaround starts right now. He also saw three targets near the goal line last week. A touchdown is coming soon…
Hell No: I wouldn’t go nuts over Aaron Jones if TyMont is active. If #88 is on the shelf, though, then you should slot Aaron Jones in the flex and enjoy seeing what the kid’s got. The talent is there, he just needs the opportunity (so, obviously not a “hell no” if he’s the starter on Sunday). After back-to-back single catch performances, it’s safe to say that Jason Witten is dead to me. He can ride his lawnmower off into the sunset as far as I’m concerned. Terrance Williams and Geronimo Allison are last ditch options in deep leagues.
Postgame Headline: Rodgers, Nelson scorch cowboys, win on the road 34-29
Titans @ Dolphins
Story To Watch: There’s one thing you can’t hold against Jay Cutler – he makes it clear, in no uncertain terms whatsoever, that he does not give a fuck. It’s not a situation like, “Certain analysts have suggested that they’re not sure Jay Cutler’s first love is football” or “Sources say that Jay Cutler mulled retirement last year because his heart wasn’t in it.” No, no… Smokin’ Jay wears his emotions on his sleeve all the time, it’s just that his emotion of choice is apathy. Just look at his academy award winning performance as a decoy last week in London. Can we get you a drink, Jay? How about a reader’s digest? He looks like he’s been working a trading desk all day and waiting to catch the 7:17 local out of Penn Station. This may sound like a vicious teardown, but it’s really not. He might just be the most authentic player in NFL history.
Safe Bets: I was wrong about Jay Ajayi last week, but I think that deserves a pass since the entire Dolphin’s offense didn’t make it off the plane. Against a Titans unit that hasn’t quite clicked yet, not to mention just gave up 57 goddamn points to the Texans, I have a good feeling that Jay Ajayi will have 2017 season coming out party (and hey, not a moment before the 2nd week of October!) I have a hard time imagining Marcus Mariota will play considering he was yanked from a still winnable game last week (it was 31-14 with a full half to play. Don’t give me the “it was out of hand” excuse – the Titans need wins). Signing the geriatric Brandon Weeden certainly doesn’t lend itself to Mariota suiting up, and if that’s the case, then Demarco Murray is the only Titan you can trust.
Hope For The Best: Despite what I said about Jay Cutler above, the Titans defense has been mighty generous to QBs and just made Deshaun Watson look like “Monday Night Vick”. If Jay can’t get it done this week, then it’s time for this Dolphins team to look at Matt Moore. I like Devante Parker this week, too, but Jay needs to commit to slinging it deep. Parker has already bailed him out of a couple of interceptions. Jarvis Landry will give your daily bread in PPR, but don’t expect a 100+ yard outing.
Hell No: Everyone gets a massive downgrade if Mariota sits, and they weren’t exactly the 2001 Rams while he was healthy. Don’t look now, but Delanie Walker might finally be showing his age. Father time is undefeated, after all. Rishard Matthews is Mariota’s favorite target, but Matt Cassell’s favorite target is an opposing cornerback, or possibly an equipment manager just minding his business on the sideline. Derrick Henry is firmly entrenched in a timeshare and the Dolphins won’t be respecting the pass – avoid. Julius Thomas has what we refer to in basketball circles as “credit card ups”. It’s been a massive drop off since Peyton Manning for that guy.
Postgame Headline: “Listless Dolphins survive against banged up Titans, 24-16”
Vikings @ Bears
Safe Bets: With the terrible twist of fate of losing Dalvin Cook, the Vikings will have no choice to become an air raid offense. They weren’t so bad at this to begin with (at least with Sam Bradford), but it can only get better for Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. I like them both this week, regardless of who’s throwing the ball. If you spent the money to acquire Latavius Murray, then you might as well enjoy watching your new toy on national TV. It’s a “new” toy in name only, though; think more of an old timey Tonka truck that’s missing a wheel and could shoot a spring in your eye at any moment. Still, if the Vikings get anywhere close to the goal line, he’s going to be the one cashing in. Jordan Howard is slowly becoming one of my favorite players this season. He doesn’t jump off the screen; he doesn’t wow you with highlights; but will he likely get you 9-11 points? You bet your ass. If Sam Bradford is playing (a big “if”, mind you), then you can feel pretty good sending him out there. Keep in mind that divisional games are always tricky, though.
Hell No: Going straight into the “Hell No” category because this matchup doesn’t seem to have a gray area. Tarik Cohen has been trending downward for weeks and the Vikings defense is no joke. You’ve probably been letting it ride since week 2, but now’s the time to reel him back in. Case Keenum could give you a decent stat line, but then again, the egg salad sandwich at a gas station could wind up being good, too. You wanna be the guy to find out? And finally, we’ve got our boy Mitch Trubisky’s first career start on Monday Night against Minnesota. Talk about a baptism by fire. I actually think he’ll perform pretty well, all things considered. Think of a rookie pitcher who has a hot 3-4 game start before teams start mashing the ball and driving his ERA to 6.41 for the year. I think that’s what we’ll have on our hands here, but he’s a stash for now because there’s better options this week.
Postgame Headline: “Trubisky’s debut ruined in sleepy affair as Vikings win 17-13”
Jaguars @ Steelers
Story To Watch: The story to watch here is that none of us, from Chris Colinsworth down to the BFG himself, have any idea what the hell we’re talking about when it comes to the NFL. Fresh off of a 44-7 ass whoopin’ of the Ravens in London, I’m guessing everybody and their mother’s picked the Jaguars to beat the Jets. Welp, they lost. A lot of us figured the Steelers would bring some offensive fireworks this season with Martavis Bryant back and a healthy Le’veon, but they have struggled to move the ball against the vastly inferior opponents (on paper at least). Having said that, this game will be incredibly interesting because I have literally no idea what the hell is going to happen. Let’s do our best with the fantasy aspect, at least…
Safe Bets: The fantasy community let out a massive sigh of relief after Le’veon Bell’s dominant performance last week against the Ravens. It took him 35 carries to get there, but he was ripping off chunk yardage and accounted for nearly all of the Steeler’s offense. Expect more of the same against a Jaguars defense that is much better against the pass than the run. I would never, ever, in a million years suggest that you bench Antonio Brown, but surely by now you’re aware of the Jaguar’s shutdown duo of Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. It might be a tough day for ‘Tonio. I would feel pretty comfortable starting Leonard Fournette based on volume alone, but don’t expect him to set a YPC record or anything.
Hope For The Best: Ben Roethlisberger is at home, which is good. He’s playing the Jacksonville Jaguars, which is bad. This one is a toss-up, honestly. The Jacksonville secondary has been extremely unkind to opposing quarterbacks so far, and Big Ben definitely is exhibiting some decline in his play this year. It’s always a good idea to play him at home, but this will honestly come down to your other options. If you start Martavis Bryant, then you’re hoping he can bust one. He’s generally a good play when the Steelers are at home, but be warned about the secondary, once again. He’s a boom/bust WR3 in this one.
Hell No: Fresh off of game where Blake Bortles looked, dare I say, competent against the Ravens in London, he served us a good old fashioned suck sandwich against a highly exploitable Jets defense last week. The good version of Bortles is essentially Keyser Soze at this point. 300+ yards, 4 touchdowns and *poof* he’s vanished. There’s a nonzero chance he loses his job this week. I hope you didn’t fall for the ol’ Marcedes Lewis rope a dope. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s one three touchdown performance and three games without a single reception. I wouldn’t risk it.
Postgame Headline: “Steelers keep rolling behind Le’Veon Bell, bury Jaguars 24-10”
Raiders @ Ravens:
Story To Watch: The story to watch is anything, anything that might be on TV other than this game. I’m talking Mid-Afternoon Movie Special on your local ABC affiliate status. I’m talking reruns of Matlock status. I’m talking looking up what Matlock even is on Wikipedia status. You could rewatch the first season of Stranger Things. Sure, it was overrated, but it will seem like Citizen Kane compared to a showdown between EJ Manuel and Joe Flacco. You Ravens fans probably feel like I’m picking on your team at this point, but it’s really just been the perfect storm of shit the past few weeks. I’d probably take a basket weaving class before settling into this one, because at least I’d be learning a tangible life skill on some level. Watching Flacco throw errant picks on a weekly basis is NOT a tangible life skill.
Safe Bets: Trying to find a dependable fantasy asset in this game will be like sorting through rubble for a missing person at a bomb site. You might find who you’re looking for, but it’s going to be a grim discovery. Man, I really don’t know here. Michael Crabtree’s status is still up in the air, but I guess he’s a safe start if he’s active? Someone has to carry the ball and the Raiders will likely try to take the game out of E.J. Manuel’s hands, so I guess Marshawn Lynch will be a somewhat dependable flex? The Raiders secondary is extremely poor, so I guess Jeremy Maclin would stand to benefit? It feels like I’m guessing answers on a test I didn’t study for.
Hope For The Best: Oakland is a very inviting matchup for Joe Flacco, but I shouldn’t have to tell you that he’s a last ditch option (even in a bye week pinch). I feel similarly about E.J. Manuel, who doesn’t figure to have the full playbook open to him unless the Raiders find themselves down by 30 points, and LOL on that happening in this affair. At this point, Amari Cooper should just cut his hands off and sign up for the new wave of human augmentation prosthetics. Transhumanism is the wave of the future, and the drops can’t get any worse, so Amari might as well go full Deus Ex and start hauling in some balls. (That was mean. I’m actually a big Amari fan, so I hope he gets it together). I’m thinking Alex Collins is the guy this week. He’s looked very strong – albeit in garbage time – and the Raiders’ rush defense is exploitable.
Hell No: Blowing a fat stack of FAAB on Javorius Allen after week 1 is the very definition of getting taken for a ride. This guy is just not a factor in the offense, even when the game script is in his favor. Mike Wallace dropped a would-be touchdown last week, but he’s hard to count on. I’m convinced that Terrence West will only get carries going forward when Harbaugh feels bad for him, like a kid in pop warner who hasn’t played yet deep in the 4th quarter.
Postgame Headline: “Ravens win 23-13, drive Carr-less Raiders to 2-3 record”
Chiefs @ Texans
Story To Watch: During the preseason, this game had us all clamoring for the NFL to move up the flex scheduling policy to allow October games to be switched. Now, one month later, I’ll be damned if this isn’t the most compelling game of the week. There are two reasons for this…
- Any time a team hangs 57 points on an opponent, chances are they’re going to draw an audience the following week.
- Deshaun Watson went from a project QB with bad mechanics to potential fantasy savior in a little less than two weeks.
Obviously the Titans game got out of hand quickly, but it doesn’t change the fact that Deshaun was impressive as hell. Now, against a stingy Chiefs defense on National TV, we’ll really get to see what this guy can do. It’ll be appointment viewing.
Safe Bets: Well, it finally happened. We finally got a good look at what Kareem Hunt’s floor is, and I don’t think anybody was disappointed with the results. Last year it seemed like David Johnson could regularly get 18-20 points without a touchdown, and this guy is quickly approaching that status. He’s the hottest player in fantasy. Speaking of hot, Alex Smith sure is playing like a guy who didn’t like his team drafting a quarterback in the first round. I don’t know if Mahomes has truly pushed him, but Smith is playing the best football of his career. Travis Kelce remains a jackass, but a jackass that can go 7-107-1 every single week. That kind of jackass is okay in my book. As a rule, I generally play any quarterback who scored 5 touchdowns the previous week. If you’ve got Deshaun Watson, let it ride. He’s also breathed new life into DeAndre Hopkins, who’s proving to us that the talent has always been there. He’ll be tangling with Marcus Peters, but I think Nuk will still deliver.
Hope For The Best: Where the hell has that been, Lamar? If you own Lamar Miller, chances are you didn’t get to experience the outburst last week as you likely benched him. I’d fire him up in for an offense that’s suddenly dangerous. It’s clear by now that Tyreek Hill requires a huge play to be fantasy viable, but luckily for him, he has the best chance of any player in the league of a huge play happening. I think he’ll get his shot this week. Will Fuller burst back onto the scene in a big way last week, hauling in two touchdowns in his season debut. Don’t expect that to happen again, but he’s a good WR3 play.
Hell No: We may have jumped the gun on D’onta Foreman. He still gets his touches, but Lamar Miller firmly established his territory during last week’s scoring outburst. Outside of him, there isn’t a whole lot to stay away from this game. Let’s enjoy the show.
Bills @ Bengals
Story To Watch: Look, I get it. When you drafted Lesean McCoy with your top 6 pick, you probably didn’t think you’d be sitting here on October 5th without a touchdown yet. Now, you know I only get profane when I’m trying to make a point, but people saying that Shady has declined, well… that just puts a bee in my bonnet. He’s had some very difficult matchups to date, but last week was a step in the right direction. He is a major factor for an offense that doesn’t have many alternatives, so the points are going to come. Shady is still shifty as hell.
Safe Bets: The Buffalo Bills defense certainly has some juice, but I think AJ Green will be too much for them on the outside. Look for him to build on his two game scoring streak in this one. At home, building off the first win of the season, I have to say I feel the same way about the red rifle. This is purely a gut feeling, but I’m starting Andy Dalton and looking for a solid 250-2-1 line. Though this isn’t saying much, I think this will be Lesean McCoy’s best game of the season. Look for him to tear through the Bengals front 7 quicker than a bag of Smartfood white cheddar popcorn. If you’ve eaten that before, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Hope For The Best: It’s been two games since Joe Mixon was ostensibly been named “the guy”, but he hasn’t exactly grabbed the bull by the horns with the opportunity. He’s still the best bet for the most touches in the backfield, however, and I feel like the Bengals will be in control of this one from the start. They’re playing with some fire lately. Tyler Kroft is basically the same player as Tyler Eifert, except Kroft is only sometimes injured whereas Eifert should be collecting a government disability check at this point. Seriously, if not for the contract, the man’s earning power would be shot. Charles Clay looks like the #1 and #2 receiving option in the Bills offense, and he’s as good of a Tight End play as there is outside of the Gronk/Kelce/Ertz triumvirate. Tyrod Taylor will give you enough points to justify a start in a rough bye week. Expect some low, low QB1 production, however.
Hell No: If Gio Bernard is only a fringe flex option in 12 team leagues, then Jeremy Hill isn’t even deserving of a roster spot in a hardcore 18 team league. They’re both awful bets, but clearly Gio is more in favor with the coaching staff. Zay Jones has the door wide open with Jordan Matthews’ injury, but Tyrod Taylor still won’t look his way.
Postgame Headline: “Bengals claw Bills, win again 23-21”
Panthers @ Lions
Safe Bets: While Cam Newton clearly forgets what year it is, he looked vintage at times against the hapless Patriots defense last week. Although he’s not exactly back in MVP form, he appeared to be a far cry from the shambling corpse that he looked like in the first few games of the season. Even in a tough road match up, you’ve gotta ride that wave. After a show stopping season debut, Matt Stafford has devolved into exactly what I expected at the start of the season – a glorified game manager in this low risk offensive scheme. *cue Seinfeld voice* Not that there’s anything wrong with that! In fact, I think he’ll give you 200 yards and 2 scores, which could be just what the doctor ordered for your roster. Ameer Abdullah gave the Lions their best rushing performance in years last week, sporting a nice 20-94-1 line. I think he’ll keep up the efficiency, but don’t go thinking you suddenly have Jim Brown on your hands. After he became another Xavier Rhodes statistic last week, Golden Tate should get back on track against the Panthers.
Hope For The Best: Kelvin Benjamin broke out of his funk last week, hauling in 4 catches for 104 yards against a stinky Patriots secondary. It’s going to be a lot more difficult against Darius Slay and co, but you likely don’t have a better option, so this is literally the definition of “hope for the best”. Devin Funchess has shown the ability to step up, and if the Panthers are throwing, then he’s a WR3. Jonathan Stewart is extremely uninspiring, but he can get you 10+ carries in a bye week.
Hell No: I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again – Christian McCaffrey looks physically overmatched at the NFL level. As far as enormous defensive ends and linebackers are concerned, CmC is little more than a low-level mob during an MMO raid. Notice how defenders don’t even celebrate when they stop him behind the line – that’s because trash mobs like McCaffrey don’t even drop loot. Marvin Jones Jr. simply isn’t an option, and Theo Riddick isn’t part of the game plan anymore. I’ve been pretty clear about how I feel towards Eric Ebron.
Postgame Headline: “Panthers gut out tough win on the road, win 20-17”
Jets @ Browns
Story To Watch: Ugh… really? Are you really going to make me do this? Almost 7,000 words deep on a bye week and you want me to weigh in on the Jets-Browns? Fine, I’ll throw you a bone (a chicken bone). There isn’t a lot to be had in this one, but looks like ol’ Billy Powell gave us a good one last week. About 80 of those yards came on a single busted play, but still, that’s improvement you can get behind. Watch out for Elijah McGuire coming up the rear, though. The Jets seem to like him. As for the Browns, well, Duke Johnson Jr. is basically the entirety of their offense. Isaiah Crowell has had every opportunity imaginable this season, but he has yet to show us “how dem big dicks swang”. Deshone Kizer and Josh McCown are the absolute bottom of the barrel for QB fill-ins. They are the 7th circle of hell on the waiver wire, one that likely also includes Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky, and Brian Hoyer.
Postgame Headline: “We didn’t watch, but the Jets probably won? Something like 23 to, um…10?”
Good luck, and I’ll see you all next week.