Eagles @ Panthers
Story to Watch: While he certainly wasn’t fooling anyone with his Rosie the Riveter faux apology after a postgame gender gaffe, noted feminist Cam Newton definitely had us fooled with his play over the first few weeks of the season. Seemingly asleep during the first month of the season, Netwon has come alive over the past two weeks, leading the Panthers to two huge wins while accounting for seven total touchdowns over that stretch. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes it back-to-back top 5 QB finishes for a guy who previously looked like a zombie on the field. It’s safe to say that Cam is back, and not a moment too soon for a must-see matchup with the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. In the words of the immortal Terrell Owens… getcha’ popcorn ready.
Safe Bets: I think this will be an entertaining game, but don’t expect it to be 34-31. Still, you’ve gotta ride the hand with Cam Newton as he has a good chance at 2+ scores. I’d also fire up Carson Wentz, who’s coming off his best game as a pro after throwing for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. I may or may not have broken youtube’s analytics by watching this video 4,000+ times in a single week. We miss Desean dearly in Philly, so it was nice to see his famous “nestea plunge” back in action. I’m starting to worry about Alshon Jeffery, guys. He was utterly erased by Patrick Peterson, which is no crime, but he simply isn’t a big part of the Eagles offense this season. This is a put up or shut up game for him. Zach Ertz is money in the bank, and he’s a big reason why Wentz is evolving. You’ve probably heard about the Eagles’ bum ass secondary by now, so I’d feel pretty confident starting Kelvin Benjamin in a plus matchup.
Hope For The Best: In the most unexpected performance of the year, Ed Dickson said “here’s my dick, son” to the entire Detroit defense, picking up 175 yards on 5 catches. There’s no way in hell that happens again, but maybe him and Cam have something cooking. Devin Funchess proved me wrong. He’s getting the job done and is a red zone option to boot. Between Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith, I’d have to lean Smith. Torrey has gotten great looks in every game this season, whereas Agholor only sporadically breaks out. The Eagles seem intent on saving Legarrette Blount to be their closer, but he’s still the best bet for red zone work.
Hell No: Starting Jonathan Stewart is like watching an episode of Law & Order – it’s comforting in a way, even though you know exactly how it’s going to end (hint: it’s 15 carries, 52 yards and no touchdowns). I’ll continue to beat the drum that Christian McCaffrey can’t play at this level, at least not as a running back. His value is 100% tied to his ability to make the first guy miss in the flat. He might have a career as a Shane Vereen type. With Wendell Smallwood returning, the RBBC of doom will be back in full swing for Philadelphia. I’d stay away from both him and Corey Clement.
Postgame Headline: “Eagles struggles in Carolina continue as Cam, Panthers win 24-20”
Giants @ Broncos
Story To Watch: Ostensibly that was a football game at the Meadowlands last week, but in reality it was more like watching a snuff film. Judging by the 20+ replays and angles they showed of Brandon Marshall’s nasty ankle roll (only the second most gruesome injury of the day), the producers at CBS seemed to be fully embracing the carnage, too.
Ian Eagle: “In his twelfth season, this could very well be Brandon Marshall’s last game… It’s times like these when you realize that things go beyond football. You’ve got to think about his future, his family at this point… let’s see if the boys in the truck can get us some audio of the ankle bone ACTUALLY snapping on this replay angle though.”
Jesus, we get the picture already. After losing Marshall, Sterling Shepard, Dwayne Harris and Odell Beckham Jr. (RIP), you really have to wonder where in the hell the Giants go from here. The story to watch is who will be the sacrificial lambs for an absolutely brutal date with the Denver defense. The Giants really only have two options…
- Scour the already picked-over wide receiver free agency crop and/or get someone like Chad Ochocino off of the golf course/couch/E! production lot
- Host open tryouts for flame outs or first timers as a publicity stunt for an 0-6 team that’s obviously going nowhere, just like in Invincible
I really, really hope it’s option #2. The Giants literally have nothing left to lose at this point, and who wouldn’t pay good money to see Eli Manning tossing slant routes to some gavone from North Jersey? Against the Denver secondary, there won’t be much of a difference between last man standing Roger Lewis and some construction worker named Joey Luccio.
Safe Bets: Melvin Gordon just shredded the much discussed but often disappointing Giants defense, so I doubt C.J. Anderson will have any trouble. He’s running well lately, and fresh off of a bye, the Broncos might be killing the clock by the middle of the 2nd quarter. He’s a top ten play this week. With Demaryius likely tangling with Janoris Jenkins, I think Emmanuel Sanders is in a good position to go 6-72-1 while the Broncos are still playing aggressively early.
Hope For The Best: I think Demaryius Thomas is a fine WR2 this week, but don’t expect him to break 100 yards or hit paydirt. He can get you 65 yards, though. Even with a golden opportunity last week, Evan Engram laid the fattest of eggs by going catchless against the exploitable Chargers. By virtue of being Eli’s only remaining target, though, he’s worth a shot as a tight end streamer. There was a lot of buzz around Trevor Siemien through September, and not just because he has the most mispronounced name since Colonel Angus. I think he’s in line for yeomen’s work, but with the upside of two touchdowns.
Hell No: There’s a chance that Jamaal Charles could get an even workload in a game that’s likely to be out of hand, but I wouldn’t risk it. For the Giants, well, what is there to say? If you’re starting Eli Manning, Paul Perkins, Wayne Gallman, Roger Lewis Jr., Shane Vereen or whoever the Giants sign this week, then you’re gonna have a bad time.
Postgame Headline: “Broncos topple Giants 27-10 in televised mercy killing”
Rams @ Jaguars
Story To Watch: Don’t look now, but there’s a good chance we’re looking at the reincarnation of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. The Jaguars are doing everything in their power to hide Blake Bortles’ deficiencies (which are many), but to his credit, he’s managed to settle very nicely into the new “don’t fuck up the game” strategy. It’s brilliant, really. With a ball hawking defense and a running back that seeks contact like a bighorn sheep, Jacksonville may have finally found a brand of football that works for them. Fresh of a dismantling of the Steelers that had Big Ben questioning life itself, it will be interesting to see how the Jags handle the at-times potent offensive stylings of Sean McVay and the Rams.
(Also, this makes it three straight weeks that I’m looking forward to watching a Jacksonville Jaguars game. So the other “story to watch” is if I need to have my head examined, potentially?)
Safe Bets: As you can probably glean from my thoughts above, I’m pretty into Leonard Fournette. I have a soft spot for power backs, and I DEFINITELY have a soft spot for power backs who can rip off game sealing, 90-yard touchdown runs. He’s been a model of consistency, too, so fire him up with confidence. On the other side of the ball, I wouldn’t freak out over Todd Gurley’s tough game against the Seahawks last week. He wasn’t bad, and the Rams inexplicably went away from the run (he also fumbled the ball out of the end zone on a would-be touchdown). He’s as safe as it gets in my book, but for real – he needs to hold onto the ball.
Hope For The Best: He’s not going to be asked to throw the ball a ton, but if you’re really, really desperate, I could envision Blake Bortles having a decent fantasy game. The Rams pass rush had Russell Wilson running for his life last week, but with the Jags planning to run it down the Rams’ throats, I could see Bortles having a couple cracks at some touchdowns from inside the 10 yard line.
Hell No: The same can’t be said for Jared Goff, unfortunately. While the 2nd year quarterback has looked much improved this season, he’s in for a rough day against the dynamic cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. Which brings me to Sammy Watkins, who hasn’t been part of the gameplan to date and is about to matched up with the grim reapers of the cornerback position. He’s a hard pass, as is Cooper Kupp. While he had a case of butterfingers on a potential game winning touchdown catch against the Seahawks, he likely won’t get another shot against this vaunted secondary. Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns are similarly unattractive, as the Jaguars likely won’t be throwing the ball enough to justify either being in your lineup.
Postgame Headline: “Rams hit rough patch in Jacksonville, fall 20-17 in ugly game with Jags”
Lions @ Saints
Story to Watch: With the Adrian Peterson saga in the bayou mercifully coming to a close earlier this week, we’re about the find out just how much Sean Payton despises Mark Ingram. The backfield is wide open now, with Ingram only needing to fend off scatback surpreme Alvin Kamara; but history has proven that the Saints’ head coach simply doesn’t like the cut of Ingram’s jib. Something must’ve happened along the way, and I can only speculate that…
- Ingram slept with Payton’s wife (the most plausible scenario)
- Ingram keyed Sean Payton’s car, which is undoubtedly a Mazda Miata
- Ingram told Sean Payton to draft Adrian Peterson in fantasy this year
- Ingram spoiled the Game of Thrones finale before Payton had a chance to watch it
- Ingram never refills the coffee filter in the break room, the bastard.
Regardless of what his past transgressions entailed, the gloves should officially be off for Mark Ingram this week. As long as the game script is positive, there’s really no excuse for Payton to not give the former ‘bama phenom 18-20 carries at the minimum. If he doesn’t hit that mark, well, then we officially know that Sean Payton has an axe to grind with his workhorse running back.
Safe Bets: So yea, I think it’s safe to go ahead and start Mark Ingram this week. The Lions just lost their run stopping defensive tackle and the path to an RB2 workload is open, so I’d feel confident sending him out there. Drew Brees has been a model of consistency and has yet to throw an interception on the season. Even against a ball hawking Detroit secondary, Brees is a great option this week at home. I feel similarly about Matt Stafford, despite his apparent allergy to 300+ yard performances in Jim Bob Cooter’s offense. Big Michael Thomas is starting to eat and the Saints are picking up steam, so he’s a great bet for a score and 85+ yards to boot.
Hope for The Best: It’s been a disappointing season for Golden Tate to say the least, but a shootout in the dome could be just what the doctor ordered. The fantasy world is ablaze with lust for rookie sensation Alvin Kamara, but there’s no getting around the fact that his value is intrinsically tied to your league’s PPR settings. For example, we play in a league that awards 0.25 points per reception because I play with a bunch of fucking cavemen, so obviously he’s less valuable in that kind of set up. Marvin Jones Jr. is worth a shot this week despite being a somewhat touchdown dependent option. You could do worse than Ameer Abdullah as your RB2 in a matchup that has all the makings of a high scoring affair. Sean Payton has said that Willie Sneed is close to 100% this week, so owners who’ve stashed him to this point should be close to 100% engorged.
Hell No: I’ve dedicated a fair amount of words to bashing Eric Ebron this season, but it’s nothing compared the memes that r/detroitlions cooked up the past week…
I’m actually starting to feel bad for the guy, but I don’t feel bad about leaving him on the bench until he gets his head right. I’m also staying away from Colby Fleener, whose impact in most games is less noticeable than a fart in a hurricane. Brandon Coleman is the very definition of a touchdown-dependent option. Even in what should be a high scoring affair, he’s little more than a WR4.
Postgame Headline: “Brees, Ingram tame Lions in the superdome, win 33-26”
Dolphins @ Falcons
Story To Watch: When I would bring home a bad grade on a test, my mom would brighten the mood by saying, “Nick, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Setting aside the fact that my sanity was called into question as an 11 year old, it’s fair to ask if the Dolphins should have a mental evaluation for repeatedly sending Jay Cutler out there. The guy simply doesn’t look like he cares, and although that’s nothing new, he’s not even the providing the IDGAF deep throws or attempting to be the caution to the wind gunslinger that he’s capable of. As long as Smokin’ Jay is under center, this simply isn’t an offense that can be trusted. It will be interesting to see if Adam Gase changes his gameplan this week, though, as nothing else seems to have worked to date.
Safe Bets: I think the true fantasy season for the Falcons begins this week, so I’m going huge on the dirty birds. Matt Ryan shouldn’t have any issue delivering QB1 numbers, and I think Julio Jones is in line for a 100+ yard effort provided that he’s healthy and active. I’m not crazy enough to predict a touchdown, though, because this is still Julio we’re talking about here. Austin Hooper has been a massive disappointment since his week 1 breakout, but he delivered a respectable 5-50-0 line on 7 targets last week. With Mohammed Sanu likely still sidelined, I think it’s safe to start Hooper as a low end TE1 in a plus matchup with the fins. Devonta Freeman is one of my favorites, but it’s hard to deny Tevin Coleman’s ever increasing usage. I think Devonta is good for at least 70 total yards and a goal line plunge this week, though. With Devante Parker looking iffy at best, I think Jarvis Landry is a mortal lock for 10 points in PPR leagues.
Hope For The Best: If you drafted Jay Ajayi with your first round pick, then you’re probably not pleased with his YPC so far. He is EXCELLENT when it comes to running into tacklers behind the line, though. It’s looking like it’s going to be a tough season in this offense, but at least the volume is there. Tevin Coleman, on the other hand, is doing a lot with minimal touches and remains a really nice flex option in deeper leagues. Devante Parker isn’t trending in the right direction to be active, but if he is, I’m still not in love with his potential against a tough secondary.
Hell No: Probably the most disappointing aspect of Jay Cutler’s game (if you can even qualify as that) this season is that even the potential for glorious garbage points has been sabotaged. He routinely throws behind open receivers and doesn’t give his guys a chance to make a play on the ball. Even in multiple game scripts that have been extremely friendly to passing situations, Jay has failed to eclipse the 230 yard passing mark to date. That is almost an achievement in and of itself in today’s air raid NFL. If you can’t tell by yet, I am not a fan this week.
Postgame Headline: “Dolphins mull QB change as Falcons dominate 36-17”
Buccaneers @ Cardinals
Story To Watch: I think one of the most important storylines of the week is whether or not the Bucs’ health insurance policy includes a good optometrist. If not, Jameis Winston should consider a switch to a private plan, as there is something clearly jacked up with his depth perception. After going 26-46 in a cupcake matchup against the Patriots, is it too much to petition the Bucs’ medical staff to bone up for some lasik or something? He overthrew Desean Jackson – which is supposed to be impossible – by at least 10 yards on what would’ve been a monster touchdown. He flat out didn’t see Mike Evans for a majority of the night, and Mike Evans is like eleven feet tall. He regularly threw the ball 130 miles per hour at targets that were 5 yards away, probably because they looked like they were a half a mile away. I’m beating a dead horse here, but it’s safe to say that was not a good outing for Jameis on national TV. I didn’t think we’d be in this position through 5 weeks, but it’s starting to feel like Jameis is holding back the fantasy production of this team. Here’s hoping he bounces back in the desert.
Safe Bets: If you drafted Doug Martin late, stashed him, and started him during last week’s strong debut – go ahead and take a bow, ya bastard. He looked like he was anxious to hurt people, and he’s going to deliver low-end RB1 numbers again this week. He might need a pair of rec specs to do it, but Jameis Winston should bounce back against a secondary that just made Carson Wentz look like Dan Marino. I think Carson Palmer will be in line for a get-right game, as well, as the Tampa Bay Defense is still a bit banged up. Mike Evans looked bored and ignored at times last week, and it might be a challenge once again against Patrick Peterson. Still, he’s the top red zone option for a team that should have plenty of scoring opportunities.
Hope For The Best: It didn’t go exactly as planned for Larry Fitzgerald against the Eagles, but this is the type of matchup that he can exploit. With the Buccaneers missing some defensive playmakers over the middle, the old man should be in line for a solid PPR day. John Brown and JJ Nelson were both solid against Philly, but it’s a crapshoot to predict who will get the scoring opportunities when they’re both in the lineup. If he’s healthy, I’d lean Brown. Desean Jackson didn’t show any signs of age in a vintage performance against the Patriots. Even though he isn’t quite synced up with Jameis yet (who is, at this point?), “Jaccpot” should be in for another good day with Peterson shadowing Mike Evans. “TE1” looks good on Cameron Brate, don’t you think?
Hell No: There was a moment in time where Adrian Peterson getting traded to the Cardinals would’ve been an unprecedented maneuver that broke the internet, but sadly it’s not 2010 anymore. The move barely registered a whisper on twitter, and for good reason – AP just doesn’t look like he can go all day anymore. If you’re starting him, you’re in line for about 3.1 yards per carry and an outside shot at a goal line plunge. You should also stay away from Jacquizz Rodgers, who straight up lost his job last Thursday. He’s a handcuff at best now.
Postgame Headline: “Tampa Bay still rusty but win on the road, 24-20”
Chargers @ Raiders
Safe Bets: It took a disgusting snap of Odell Beckham Jr’s ankle and a miraculous fumble the following play for it to happen, but the Los Angeles Chargers finally got a checkmark in the win column last week. Look for Felipe Rios to keep the good times rolling (for as much as a 1-5 team that nobody roots for can have, anyway). Melvin Gordon also busted out of his tentative approach towards yards after contact last week, exploding for over 150 total yards and two scores. He flashed some great moves while doing it too, and I think October is shaping up to be “The Melvin Gordon Month”. Enjoy it while you can. Keenan Allen wasn’t quite as involved, but he should be in line for 6+ receptions in a game that should be, should be high scoring. It all depends on which Raiders team decides to show up. Speaking of which, Derek Carr’s spinal column was recently realigned and he’s trending towards playing this week. He’s a fine play if active, but it’s a little worrisome that this guy needs to be reassembled like humpty dumpty with the nastiness of his injuries. I’d feel pretty good about Michael Crabtree too, as he was able to turn in a nice fantasy performance last week with professional clipboard holder EJ Manuel throwing him the rock. Don’t pin my reputation to this or anything, but I’m going to ride the Hunter Henry wave. I think he’s finally part of the offense and he’s the apple of Rivers’ eye in the red zone.
Hope For The Best: It’s been a tough road for Amari Cooper, but after another week of hauling in one measly reception for 9 yards, it’s safe to say the he’s officially a victim of the Monstarz. The only explanation is that there’s a dynamic 6’2” alien catching 107 passes a year in a distant galaxy right now, because Amari looks like Charles Barkley in the pickup scene in Space Jam…
I don’t blame you for not trusting him, but I believe in his talent. Expect an improvement this week (shit, it can’t get any worse, right?) Marshawn Lynch looked a little better last week and he has an improved chance at goal-to-go opportunities with Carr in the lineup. He looks every bit like a guy who just came out of retirement, but his touchdown potential makes him viable as a flex option. Tyrell Williams only saw two targets last week and isn’t a factor in the redzone. He’s okay as a WR3/flex, but just know what you’re buying into.
Hell No: There’s been a lot of talk about top pick Mike Williams’ role in the Chargers offense, but the reality is we have no idea how he’ll be used in his debut. He’s okay for a stash, but I wouldn’t start him just yet. It looks like it might officially be the end of the line for Antonio Gates. It’s a shame, too, because how will viewers find out that he used to play basketball if he’s on the sideline?
Postgame Headline: “Raiders get their act together, beat Chargers 29-24”
Patriots @ Jets
Safe Bets: Clearly you’re starting Tom Brady against the freakin’ Jets, so it’s not worth wasting too many words on him, especially with Rob Gronkowski likely suiting up. It was clear that Brady was missing “Yo Soy Fiesta” last week, so I think he’ll get the big guy involved early and often in what’s likely to be a blowout. This is 100% a hunch call, but I think this will be a game where we get a Brandin Cooks deep shot. His role didn’t change with Gronk out, so I think the looks will still be there. There’s no sense in creating a problem where one doesn’t exist, so there’s no reason to sit Chris Hogan now. Everything is pointing up, so don’t feel like you screwed up when the bust inevitably occurs. This touchdown pace isn’t sustainable; I still him like him for 80 yards this week though. I’m totally buying into the Elijah McGuire hype, but you have to think of him as a one week rental. He likely won’t get this kind of workload again, so why not play him in a soft matchup? You won’t get to use him like this when Bilal Powell returns.
Hope For The Best: In a year when we need all the help we can get at tight end, let’s hope that Austin Sefarian-Jenkins loves the end zone as much as he loves drunk driving. He’s basically the main aerial threat for the grounded Jets, and without Bilal Powell, he’s likely to see his targets only go up from here. Danny Amendola was heavily involved last week, but I can’t help but think that was due to Gronk’s absence. I think he’ll have 5-6 catches instead of 7-9. James White is essentially a receiver in this offense, so he’s a great option in PPR and a very middling option in standard. The touchdown opportunities just aren’t there, especially with Dion Lewis stealing even more snaps at running back. You know what Mike Gillislee is at this point. The matchup against the Jets is strong, but he’s not a 100+ yard back by any stretch. I like him for a goal line punch in this one though. Josh McCown should deliver some beautiful garbage in the 2nd half of this one. The Pats will be up early, so he’s a better option than he is on most weeks (which is typically unstartable).
Hell No: Even though he’s practicing this week, I’m not super enthralled with the prospect of Matt Forte coming off a turf toe injury. Maybe I’m just salty as an Elijah McGuire owner, but I don’t think the script will line up for him to succeed in this one. Robby Anderson is the definition of a dart throw. You’re hoping for a deep ball that isn’t likely to come. I wouldn’t read too much into Dion Lewis’ usage last week, mostly because I wouldn’t even think about giving him a roster spot.
Postgame Headline: “Gronk, Cooks go wild as Patriots trample Jets 35-17”
Steelers @ Chiefs
Story To Watch: There was a game back in 2011 where the Jets had to beat the Giants for the Eagles to make the playoffs. It was notable for being the only Jets game that I ever watched all 60 minutes of, but it was even more notable because Mark Sanchez exhibited the worst quarterback play I had ever seen in my life. That is until last Sunday, when Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in an embarrassing effort against the Jaguars. It was simply atrocious, and after the game he was under more pressure from the media than when he was dealing with some rape problems back in 2010. He even went as far as to say, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore…” which is probably last on the list of things you want to hear from your quarterback after a tough loss. I would rather hear canned public relations bullshit like “Hey, we just gotta get back on the horse,” or “Not concerned, we can only take things one game at a time” than “Maybe I don’t have it anymore…” One thing is for certain, things aren’t going to get easier on the road in Kansas City.
Safe Bets: Even against an above average Steelers defense, you can’t sit Alex “Aaron Rodgers” Smith at home. It feels like the Chiefs are on national TV every goddamn week, but I can’t say I’m bored of watching smith sling it in the twilight of his career. Same goes for Kareem Hunt, who is simply a special talent. I’ve said it before, but he’s this year’s David Johnson in that he can give you 15-18 points without even scoring a touchdown, which is pretty remarkable for a running back. Antonio Brown was the only aspect of last week’s Steelers performance that wasn’t a complete embarrassment, and he might be the only WR in the league who is matchup proof. Not worried at all about him tangling with Marcus Peters. Le’veon Bell spoke for the collective fantasy world after the game when he wondered why he wasn’t getting the ball more, and Tomlin should read that loud and clear if he wants to keep his job. He’s basically the only dependable source of offense with how poorly Big Ben has been playing. Travis Kelce is still dealing with some brain problems, but he’s obviously a must start if he’s able to correctly answer what day it is come Sunday.
Hope For The Best: I’m not entirely convinced that Tyreek Hill is a regular part of the Chiefs offense. He was able to salvage his day with a punt return touchdown last Monday night, but outside of that he’s not seeing the yardage totals to make him more than a WR3 in my book. Kareem Hunt has emphatically removed the need for gadget plays and jet sweeps too, which diminishes Hill’s value even further. Martavis Bryant is a risky play, but it’s not exactly his fault. He’s been open on some deep balls, but Big Ben hasn’t been able to connect due to his shit play.
Hell No: Road Ben + playing at Arrowhead stadium = stay the hell away from Ben Roethlisberger this week. He has nowhere to go but up after last week’s atrocious performance, but you can feel free to let him work out the kinks on your bench. Charcandrick West is becoming a bit of a touchdown specialist, much to the chagrin of Kareem Hunt owners. Still, he’s a dicey flex play at best with his limited touches. Jesse James has actually been playing over the last few weeks, which is news to me. You can find more impactful tight ends on the waiver wire.
Postgame Headline: “Chiefs keep the gravy train rolling, pummel reeling Steelers 27-20”
Packers @ Vikings
Story to Watch: While watching Aaron Jones’ stellar debut against the Cowboys last week, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the time that Colin Kaepernick stole Alex Smith’s job. Long before Kaep’s stint as the leader of the SJWs, it only took a one game absence from Alex Smith (who was playing very well!) for Kaep to come in and supplant the starting QB spot for the Niners’ Super Bowl run. Through no fault of his own, Ty Montgomery is now squarely in the same position as Alex Smith was. While he claims that he’s 100% even with multiple fractured ribs, it’s hard to envision the Packers going way from Aaron Jones now. TyMont clearly is trying to get on the field as fast as possible, which is why his urges to play through injury sound a lot like the “tis’ but a scratch!” routine from Monty Python…
Good luck with that, Ty. I’m calling it now – Aaron Jones is your Jay Ajayi or Jordan Howard (or even Samkon Gado, for you old timers) of 2017. Be thankful if you got your hands on him last week, because he’s the waiver wire savior we’ve been waiting for.
Safe Bets: It was glorious watching Aaron Rodgers calmly dissect the Cowboys on the final drive last week, and not just because I’m a filthy Eagles fan. It’s always fun to witness greatness, but more than that, Rodgers’ heroics allowed the greatest sports picture I’ve ever seen to come to pass…
That’s pure gold. Anyway, I would go ahead and start both Jordy Nelson and absolute warrior Davante Adams confidently this week. On the Vikings side, the only player you can feel somewhat safe about is Stefon Diggs, although his status is definitely up in the air for this weekend.
Hope For the Best: Even though Aaron Jones is your 2017 fantasy savior, I would temper expectations if Ty Montgomery is in the lineup. Jones will still get the job done, but we’ll have to see how it shakes out in the first game of a time share. Kyle Rudolph scored a short touchdown and he was targeted 6 times, which nearly raises him to “must start” status among the shit pile that is the 2017 tight ends. I don’t have an issue with Case Keenum either, and he was significantly better than whatever shambling corpse put on Sam Bradford’s jersey last week. Sammy Sleeves looks like he might never play again, honestly. Jerrick McKinnon looks like the back to own in Minnesota, but I really don’t think he’s a workhorse guy. He should give you good returns in PPR this week, however. Adam Thielen is a great start if Diggs is out, and more of a WR3 if he’s active.
Hell No: I wouldn’t cut bait on Latavius Murray just yet. He was definitely bad Latavius last week, but the Vikings didn’t have any goal to go situations, and Murray still figures to be the guy in that scenario. 12 touches a game along with goal line duties sure sounds flex worthy, at the least. But I don’t love him this game. Randall Cobb seems like the odd man out with a fully healthy receiving corps. With a ceiling of 50 yards and no touchdowns, I’m ready to give up on Martellus Bennett.
Postgame Headline: “Packers gut out tough win over Vikings 23-17”
Niners @ Redskins
Story to Watch: With two straight subpar performances after an unbelievable Thursday night game a month ago, Carlos Hyde, who is clearly limited by his hip injury, just hasn’t been himself since his season breakout on national TV. Therefore, I think it’s safe to ask at this point – was Carlos Hyde the highest motherfucker on planet earth during that Rams game? He got injured in the first quarter, came back in and took 27 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and he’s been a gametime decision in the three weeks since. The coaching staff clearly gave him some combination of fentanyl and cocaine – or at least some proprietary blend – that allowed him to run through a goddamn brick wall. Whatever he was on, I think it’s fair to ask the coaching staff to give Hyde another taste, because he simply hasn’t been able to function without it. Give the man his fix, Shanahan!
Safe Bets: Kirk Cousins looked like a mighty fine real life and fantasy quarterback the last time we saw him, and he should keep it rolling against a San Francisco secondary that is deadass terrible. Washington is starting to look like a legit contender, and it’s in no small part due to captain Kirk’s play. I’m tempering expectations with Carlos Hyde, especially given that Shanahan uttered the dreaded words “hot hand” this week. That said, he’s the Niners’ best player by a mile, so if he’s healthy (your guess is as good as mine), then he’s a strong play. Pierre Garcon is getting better every week and his bond with Brian Hoyer is only getting stronger. Plus, it never hurts the narrative when a cocky player is matched up against his former team. I honestly forgot that Jordan Reed was in the NFL, but apparently he’s healthy for this matchup. Hey, why not, yknow?
Hope For the Best: You’re not fooling me, Terrelle Pryor. He’s still a Sh*teater to me, and without that 40 yard bomb against the Chiefs, he would’ve been right in his comfort zone with another 1-5-0 performance. I think he’s an alright play, but remember this is a converted quarterback who only experienced minor success because he was on the Browns. Streaming Brian Hoyer was a goldmine last week, throwing for 353 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Colts. I don’t think he’ll quite reach those heights against an improved Washington defense, but he’s beginning to look comfortable in this offense. Chris Thompson came back down to earth, which we all knew was bound to happen eventually. Still, he has flex value as a pass catching RB with touchdown upside. George Kittle made some really nice plays last week and Hoyer is looking his way. After an ominous start, suddenly the Tight End position in fantasy is looking up…
Hell No: Apparently the Redskins are committed to getting Jamison Crowder more involved, but to this point it looks like Ryan Grant took over his duties as the Kirk Cousins bailout option. I’m not a fan of either, and at the very least I want to see a good game from Crowder before starting him. Rob Kelley sounds iffey to play at best, and Semaje Perine figures to mix in even if he’s active.
Postgame Headline: “Redskins beginning to look like contenders, clobber Niners 33-14
Bears @ Ravens
Safe Bets: It’s a pretty up and down ride for Baltimore running backs, but it seems that Buck Allen is firmly back in the driver’s seat in the backfield. Terrence West is probably going to be sidelined, so that only leaves Alex Collins as a potential impediment, which is really no impediment at all for ol’ Buck. Joe Flacco has been picking up the pieces slowly but surely after the embarrassment across the pond a few weeks back, and last week was his most competent performance yet. He didn’t throw any touchdowns, but I have a feeling he has some stream appeal in this one. Jordan Howard ran with confidence against the Vikings, and he would’ve had a much bigger game than his statline suggested if not for a questionable holding call that revoked a long touchdown run. He looks great when running the ball, so don’t get discouraged.
Hope For The Best: It was refreshing to see Mike Wallace do his thing where he catches three balls with like a 63 yard per reception average last week. Typically one of those will go for a score, but more importantly for the Ravens…
It’s great for both Flacco and Wallace’s fantasy value going forward, and the ability to stretch the field puts Wallace back on the WR3 map. Jeremy Maclin likely has the better chance for a touchdown, but he isn’t more than a dart throw WR3.
Hell No: I thought Mitchell Trubisky acquitted himself quite well in his debut, especially during the coolest trick play since the Annexation of Puerto Rico. Still, I don’t think the Ravens will be very kind to the rookie. Alex Collins ceded 21 touches to Buck Allen, so it doesn’t look like he’s taking over the backfield anytime soon. Zach Miller scored an extremely fluky touchdown on a pass that should’ve been picked off, so you can’t feel too safe sending him out against the Baltimore defense. I caught a bit of blowback for claiming that Tarik Cohen was trending downward last week, but by now it should be clear that he’s borderline unstartable. Benny Cunningham’s return clearly cut into his real estate.
Postgame Headline: “Trubisky struggles as Ravens win field position battle, 21-13”
Browns @ Texans
Story to Watch: After last week’s miraculous fantasy performance after the game was all but decided, I’m hereby bestowing the nickname “The Garbage Man” upon QB1 extraordinaire Deshaun Watson. He should show up to the game wearing a brightly colored vest while saddled to the side of a garbage truck, along with fellow master of the custodian arts DeAndre Hopkins on the other side. I don’t know what it is, but things really heat up when the Texans find themselves overmatched (and a lot of us either love or despise Watson for that in fantasy, depending on where you’re sitting in your matchup). It will be interesting to see how the Texans offense functions when they’re in control from the get go, however. They shouldn’t have much trouble getting out to the lead in front of the awful Browns, so we’ll have to see if the garbage man can play the role of front runner for one afternoon.
Safe Bets: I could be wrong here, but I think you should start the guy who’s accounted for 10 touchdowns over the past two weeks (that’s Deshaun Watson). Oh, and did I mention he’s playing the Browns? DeAndre Hopkins is a great play as well, and he’s also the owner of this bizarre stat –Nuk is 10th in receiving yards, but something like 163rd in yards after the catch. In any event, Hopkins’ penchant for going down like he got shot doesn’t matter if it occurs in the end zone. Lamar Miller should get a heavy workload in this one as well, as the Texans should be firmly in control.
Hope For the Best: Will Fuller’s touchdown rate is incredibly unsustainable, but he’s okay as a WR3 against the Cleveland Browns. D’onta Foreman didn’t get many opportunities against the Chiefs, but that’s mostly because the Texans were playing catch up for the entire second half. Look for him to get at least 10 carries this time around. Duke Johnson Jr. is really your only option if you’re looking to play a Browns player, and he isn’t a great one at that.
Hell No: After watching Deshone Kizer perform this year, I have no doubt that Kevin Hogan gives the Browns a better chance to win. I also have no doubt that I’ll be watching how he handles the start from the safety of my bench this week. Kenny Britt, Rashard Higgins – the only reason I could see for starting a Browns wide receiver is if you have some kind of masochistic fetish. Hey – whatever floats your boat, man.
Postgame Headline: “Watson keeps the magic alive, leads Texans over Browns 27-17”
Colts @ Titans
Story to Watch: I just recently finished watching Ken Burns’ spectacular documentary on the Vietnam War, and I have to say that I was floored by how frequently and blatantly the government lied to the American people during that time. It makes you think that we’d never fall for something like that again, but flash forward to the summer of 2017 and there we were, fully believing that Andrew Luck would be playing in Week 2. It’s not a perfect comparison (okay it’s loose as hell), but seriously – the Colts’ front office is comprised of some major scumbags for propagating a blatant lie ostensibly to sell season tickets. The dude had no muscle mass in his throwing shoulder, which gets hit by a defensive end approximately 35 times per game. When they said that he “practiced” last week, they likely meant that he sat in the film room and observed practice while eating a hoagie. You just can’t trust these guys, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut Luck down for the year if the Colts don’t pick up some wins in October. The joke’s on us, I guess…
Safe Bets: I’ll confess that I wasn’t too high on T.Y. Hilton coming into the season, but he sure made me shut my mouth last week. Hauling in 7 catches for 177 yards might seem inflated since it was the 49ers, but the Titans secondary is almost just as bad. He’s a great play. Jacoby Brissett is my kind of dude. He’s a little on the chunky side, but he’s got some wheels and he throws a beautiful deep ball. If you squint your eyes, you might even see Daunte Culpepper out there. If Marcus Mariota is active, then he’s obviously a guy you should consider starting. I have a feeling he might be limited, though, so it’s gonna be a tough call with the Monday night start time. For what it’s worth, I’m starting Brissett over him regardless of his availability.
Hope For The Best: Demarco Murray is really the only Titan you can trust if Mariota is inactive, but even then he’s an average play at best. The Colts are surprisingly stout against the run. Frank Gore is losing his grip on the starting spot, but he’s still part of the gameplan. Expect an even split with emerging talent Marlon Mack. It hasn’t been the prettiest season for Delanie Walker, but he had a huge potential touchdown called back on a penalty last week. What’s the worst that can happen? He’ll get you your 5 points Monday night.
Hell No: Even in a seemingly good matchup at home, I wouldn’t break your finger clicking Matt Cassel into your lineup. The next time Eric Decker crosses 50 yards will be the first time. He’s been an utter disappointment. Rishard Matthews is an okay play if Mariota is active, but I wouldn’t risk it with Cassel chucking wounded ducks all night. Derrick Henry is nothing more than an expensive handcuff until further notice.
Postgame headline (With Mariota): “Colts gut out tough win on the road, beat Titans 23-16”
Postgame headline (W/O Mariota): “Colts gut out tough win on the road, beat Titans 23-16”
Good luck out there this weekend…