Chiefs @ Raiders
Story To Watch: For whatever reason, the Raiders give off the same vibe as a pickup basketball team that was randomly assembled at the local YMCA. There’s the “rah rah” guy, most likely a corporate executive or a lawyer, whose leadership act wears really thin (Carr). There’s the dude who played Division III ball in college and thinks he’s too good for this (Crabtree). There’s the dude who’s obviously talented but his glory days are behind him, plus he takes pulls from a blunt between games (maybe that’s just a California pickup thing, oh and obviously that’s Marshawn). And then there’s the guy who you picked thinking he was the best player in the gym, only to be flabbergasted as he constantly drops easy passes and clanks layups off the bottom of the rim in shockingly unathletic fashion. I shouldn’t need to tell you who that is, but it’s Amari Cooper. If you pick Amari, you’ll probably have the same reaction as Michael Scott upon seeing Stanley’s skills on display…
Clearly there’s no correlation between roundball and the gridiron, but the point is that the Raiders don’t seem to have a sense of cohesion when you watch them play. It feels like this squad was just assembled overnight, even though the core players have been together for three years now. We’ll see if they can finally get on the same page against the Chiefs.
Safe Bets: It was a meteoric crash to Earth for Alex Smith last game, although that was bound to happen eventually. I think there’s a good chance of a rebound against a reeling Raiders squad. Kareem Hunt was bottled up outside of a few broken pass plays, but I doubt the Raiders can contain the rookie dynamo. I expect Andy Reid to lean on Hunt and establish the running game early. If things go according to plan and Marcus Peters shadows Amari Cooper, then Michael Crabtree should stand to benefit. He looks great after the catch and is still the go-to option in the red zone. Purely a guess here, but I think this will be a Tyreek Hill night. He seems to ball out under the big lights. If Travis Kelce had a comedy album, it’d be the type that you repeatedly listened to at your frat house but embarrasses you as a sensible adult. Oh, he’s an awesome play this week as well.
Hope For The Best: Cue 30 for 30 narrator…
“What if I told you… that a star wide receiver quadrupled his production and still had less than 30 yards. Dropped: The Amari Cooper Story.”
I make fun of poor Amari a lot on here, but he’s still running great routes and getting open. I expect some more improvement this week, incremental though it may be. Speaking of running hard, Marshawn Lynch is doing his best to make people miss (or simply run through them), but there hasn’t been a lot of room to operate. That won’t get any easier against Kansas City, but he’s still the guy to benefit on the goal line (if the Raiders ever get there for once). Derek Carr wasn’t exactly crisp coming off a spinal injury last week. Playing the Chiefs isn’t a great bet for improvement, but he can deliver low end QB1 numbers.
Hell No: Not that you were considering them anyway, but unless Marshawn gets injured, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are about as useful as having an asshole on your elbow. Seth Roberts is a touchdown-dependent gamble, and a very risky one at that against the Chiefs.
Postgame Headline: “Chiefs get back on track vs. Raiders, win 29-23”
Buccaneers @ Bills
Story To Watch: It’s been nearly 7 weeks now, so I think it’s fair to ask – when the time of man has passed, when the last vestiges of humanity cease to leave signs of its passage on this planet we call earth… when all lifeforms revert to their base properties and the fires of the world fade… when the solar system collapses upon itself and a lone light flickers in some far off galaxy before finally petering out into a whimpering halt, signaling the finality of existence as we know it – when all of these things have come to pass… will Lesean McCoy have a touchdown yet? I mean it’s a reasonable question, guys.
Safe Bets: Despite the apocalyptic scenario above, Lesean McCoy is easily a top 5 option this week. This is a Buccaneers defense that just made Adrian Peterson find the fountain of youth, so there’s no reason that Shady (who is still running great, by the way) can’t capitalize. If you’re “living the stream”, then Tyrod Taylor is the guy you want. He might not have anyone to throw it to, but he’ll start find a way to gash a defense that just surrendered 38 points to the geriatric Cardinals. It took a Jameis injury for us to finally see it again, but Mike Evans finally busted loose and whipped an opposing cornerback for a deep touchdown. This was a regular occurrence in 2016, so it was reassuring to see there isn’t something fundamentally wrong with the monstrous wideout. The solution is clear by now – get him the goddamn ball. Doug Martin will find the going a little tougher against the Bills, but he’s rendered Jacquizz Rodgers obsolete by this point. It’s the Hamster’s backfield, so he’s an easy RB2 with upside. Cameron Brate’s campaign for TE1 recognition continues, but what else does he have to do at this point? The guy is paying the bills and putting fantasy food on the table every week.
Hope For The Best: If Jameis Winston is actually starting, then there technically isn’t a reason to sit him in fantasy. Still, it’s hard to feel confident in Jaboo these days. He was throwing the ball on the sideline and petitioning the coaches to go back in last week, but Dirk Koetter still denied him. That’s not a great sign. Desean Jackson would’ve been on his way to a big day had Jameis not exited early, however. He looks great despite this being his age 30 season, and he’s making a good case as a fine every week starter at WR3. I’m not entirely sure that the Bills even roster wide receivers at this point, but if some dude named Jordan Matthews happens to be suiting up, this is a pretty great matchup.
Hell No: As mentioned above, the time of Jacquizz Rodgers having fantasy relevance has come and gone. He might as well bring a deck of cards with him to Buffalo so he can play solitaire to pass the time on the bench. Adam Humphries is nothing more than a dollar store version of Danny Amendola.
Postgame Headline: “Jameis’ struggles continue as Bills hold off Bucs, 26-19”
Titans @ Browns
Story to Watch: Here’s non exhaustive list of things that are somehow less disappointing than the Tennessee Titans offense this season…
- Your Ivy League educated daughter dating a barista who’s “figuring things out” as a musician.
- Stuffing your face with a handful of trail mix only to realize said handful didn’t contain a single M&M
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- Geraldo Rivera’s unveiling of the “mysterious secrets” within Al Capone’s vault
- The season finale of Lost
- When you realize that you haven’t been carded at a bar in over seven years
- Every tweet/update dashing the last glimmer of hope you were holding out for Josh Gordon’s return
The list goes on and on. Mariota and the Titans were popular picks to deliver a veritable fantasy bonanza every week before the season started, but it clearly hasn’t panned out that way. They were unimaginative at best against the struggling Colts Monday night, too, but if they can’t execute and develop some semblance of a rhythm against the Browns this week, it might be time to accept this offense for what it is. In case I wasn’t clear, “what it is” is a steaming pile.
Safe bets: Reportedly close to 100% after a hamstring injury, Marcus Mariota has a golden opportunity against the Browns to pay back fantasy owners for the high draft price. He was pretty good as a pocket passer against the Colts, but we’re all here for the dual-threat action he provides with his scrambling. Demarco Murray did not look like a healthy person last week, but he still managed to gut out nearly 70 total yards and punched in a touchdown. There’s no reason to sit him, but an even carry split is more and more likely with his hamstring issues. With Deshone Kizer back under center, the arrow can tip back upwards for Duke Johnson Jr. The Browns should be down in this one, so I expect him to deliver a useful PPR day.
Hope For The Best: The Titans are a likely to play front runners in this one, so Derrick Henry can give you a nice return as Flex with RB2 upside. Mike Mularkey said that they like using him as a 4th quarter clock killer, so there should be plenty of carries for the former Heisman winner. Eric Decker emerged from witness protection and delivered his best performance of the season last week, although that’s not saying much. However, with Mariota’s transformation – or rather, reversion – into a pocket quarterback, perhaps the chemistry they exhibited is here to stay. Rishard Matthews is the still the Titans’ top receiving option with Corey Davis sidelined, though.
It’s not that Delanie Walker isn’t a factor, it’s just that Mularkey hates us possibly? I don’t know what’s worse, Jet sweeps to a 33 year old tight end (seriously, who runs a jet sweep to a tight end?), or red zone routes where the only conceivable opening between defenders is 5 yards beyond the end zone. He has a great chance to cash in against the Browns this week, though. You can’t be overly optimistic about DeShone Kizer regaining the starting role, either. That said, he could deliver some beautiful garbage against the Titans’ woeful secondary if he can avoid getting benched again. I’m pretty sure that Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is about Isaiah Crowell’s shackling by the Browns offense. Hue Jackson needs let the Crow fly so he can take the Titans for a ride in the slam sedan.
Hell No: I can’t think of any reason you would start a Browns receiver, unless you play in one of those points-per-interception-when-targeted leagues. I hear they’re all the rage.
Postgame Headline: “Titans get on track, cruise to win over Browns 33-17”
Patriots @ Falcons
Story to watch: I’m a responsible adult these days, but when my hangovers hit… man, they hit hard. You know the kind where you’re lying down on the bathroom floor, desperately clasping to the cool tiles for the fleeting relief they provide from your overheated, clammy skin? The kind where each sip of water singes the back of your throat from when you violently vomited up a corrosive mixture of tequila, taco shop hot sauce, and stomach bile? The kind where turning your head ever so slightly or shifting your weight feels like an exercise out of the Worlds Strongest Man marathon that’s airing midday on ESPN2, which you’re currently watching because you skipped work like a piece of shit? That’s a bad hangover, but it’s not nearly as bad as the one that Matt Ryan is experiencing coming off of his MVP 2016 campaign. He has been so incredibly middling that it truly defies explanation. If he can’t deliver QB1 numbers against Patriots on Sunday Night, then it might be time to look for alternatives on the waiver wire.
Safe Bets: While Tom Brady seems eminently comfortable peddling scam nutrition products that are backed by junk science, he’s even more at home when it comes to shredding the Falcons. I doubt you’re worried about it, but asking if you should start a healthy Rob Gronkowski is like asking if lungs are important. I think Brandin Cooks keeps it up as well, as Brady appears to be syncing up with him each of the last few weeks. He just missed a deep touchdown last week by stepping out of bounds just before the goal line. Devonta Freeman saw an even split with Tevin Coleman last week, which is troubling, but I still like him for 15+ carries and goal line plunge in this one. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn spoke for every fucking person in America when he expressed his displeasure at Julio Jones’ lack of involvement in the offense this season. In a Superbowl rematch on SNF, the breakout might finally happen.
Hope For The Best: There’s huge boom potential for Matt Ryan this weekend, but his performance thus far relegates him to “hope for the best” tier. Hope is all you have at this point, really. I’m not discouraged at all by Chris Hogan’s letdown of a performance against the Jets. He got some good looks deep but couldn’t haul them in, and like I said in last week’s Presessment, the drop off was bound to happen eventually. Look for him to get back on track in this one. Life comes at you fast if you’re a running back in New England, so this week former fantasy hero Dion Lewis. If you want to start James White for old time’s sake, though, I wouldn’t be against it. He scored 3 touchdowns against the Falcons during their last meeting. Tevin Coleman is here to stay, and he looks incredibly quick and powerful with his usage being capped at around 12 touches per game. This one should produce some fireworks, so he’s a fine flex option. Taylor Gabriel is your dart throw flex play of the night, but his role in the offense could be reduced with Mohammed Sanu’s return.
Hell No: Bill Belicheck is a “what have you done for me lately?” kind of guy, and if what you’ve done lately is fumble the football, then you can get nice and comfortable in your new home on a milk carton. Mike Gilislee is effectively benched until further notice. Ideally you should wait and see how Mohammed Sanu is eased back in the offense, but I can understand if you’re in a pinch and need to roll the dice. I don’t love Austin Hooper’s upside with a fully healthy Atlanta receiving corps. Similarly, Danny Amendola is the odd man out for a New England offense that appears to be at full strength. He’s fine, but I doubt you get more than 6-55-0 out of him.
Postgame Headline: “Ryan fails to exact revenge as Brady, Gronk flatten Falcons 36-27”
Redskins @ Eagles
Safe Bets: There’s lots to like in what is easily the best Monday Night Football game of the season to date. Even though this is an NFC East battle (which can typically turn ugly), I’m expecting some aerial fireworks from both Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz. Factor in their surprising ability to scramble for 30-40 yards some games, and both of these quarterbacks are in for QB1 numbers. Zach Ertz is typically a guy who goes for 7 catches for 85 yards and no scores, so it was strange to see him haul in only two catches for two short touchdowns against the Panthers (not that his owners are complaining). Chris Thompson should be thoroughly involved in the passing game in this one, and the Eagles have struggled to contain receiving backs this season. Even though Legarrette Blount hasn’t exactly been a goal line specialist this year, he’s still getting the call when it’s business time. He’s also the 4th quarter closer, so I think he’ll be a fine start in this one.
Hope For The Best: It’s been a disappointing season for Jordan Reed owners, but fear not – he roasts the Eagles. I don’t think he’s going to have 8 catches or anything, but he’s capable of shambling his hobbled hips across the goal line once in this game. Nelson Agholor is starting to flash the speed and shiftiness that made him a 1st round pick. In the parlance of our times, he feelin’ himself lately. Alshon Jefferey is decidedly NOT feeling himself, though. Even though he totaled a respectable 71 yards last week, he left about 71 more on the field by failing to haul in contested balls. This is exactly what the Eagles are paying him to do, and it’s just not working. Imagine buying an expensive toaster that inexplicably freezes bread when you try to use it – that’s Alshon so far on the Eagles. Josh Doctson has his coach’s vote of confidence, and I just have a hunch that he’ll hit paydirt against the Eagles.
Hell No: The narrative that the Eagles have an “exploitable” secondary is vastly overstated IMO, but even if it was true, I highly doubt that noted sh*teater Terrelle Pryor Sr. would be the one to capitalize. The Eagles are one of the top units in the league against the run, so I’m staying away from both Fat Rob and Samaje Perine. I would also avoid Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner, if possible, as I doubt any of them will see the volume necessary to be fantasy viable. If healthy, though, Smallwood is obviously the best bet of the bunch. Torrey Smith followed up his best game of the season with his worst game last week, hauling in one catch for 5 yards. Expect something in the middle. Jamison Crowder would still be droppable in a league that awards 10 points per reception.
Postgame Headline: “Eagles improve to 6-1 in Monday Night spectacle, beat Redskins 31-27.”
Cowboys @ Niners
Story To Watch: I had a bit of a nasty hangover this past Sunday (I swear I don’t have a problem…). Ordinarily I’d just treat it with the ol’ burrito and gatorade 1-2 combo and would be in fighting shape by noon, but unfortunately I had an appointment to get fitted for a tuxedo at 10:00 AM. Trust me, the Men’s Warehouse is the last place you want to be when you’re hungover as shit, because even the most banal question from an overeager salesperson makes it feel like your head is going to explode. Needless to say I was in rough shape and wanted to kill myself, but I’ve gotta be honest… I felt pretty goddamn good once I put that tux on. It was the strangest thing – my skin had a sickly pallor, you could see the beads of alcohol laced sweat dripping down my pale forehead, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel like a million bucks while wearing that expensive suit. It just goes to show you that the phrase “change your clothes, change your life” really has some legs to it, so all of us Carlos Hyde owners should keep our fingers crossed for a trade in the next two weeks. He’s one phone call away from sweating out the boozy, San Francisco stink and donning the sharp tux of a featured running back in a dynamic offense.
Safe Bets: Much to the 49ers’ chagrin, Ezekiel Elliot got another stay of execution and is allowed to suit up for the foreseeable future. By now it should be clear that everyone in the Manhattan legal system is a diehard fantasy player. Anyway, Zeke will shred this week. Dak Prescott has been a model of consistency outside of the Denver game, and think he and Dez Bryant will form a nice connection in this one. Carlos Hyde may not wow you with his yards per carry average, but he totaled nearly 70 total yards and cashed in twice at the goal line. That’s good enough for me, even if he’s literally his team’s only weapon.
Hope For The Best: I keep hearing a lot about this guy George Kittle. His name makes it sound like he’s a union leader from Oklahoma during the great depression, but apparently he’s a tight end for the 49ers. All kidding aside, I’ve watched him play and the dude is nice. With Pierre Garcon being the primary chain mover between the 20s, Kittle should the red zone benefactor in a game in which the Niners will be forced to throw. Cole Beasley managed to grit out two touchdowns in the Cowboys last game before the bye. That won’t happen again, but he looked like Dak’s bailout option on more than a few occasions.
Hell No: Kyle Shanahan ended the charade and mercifully benched the skeletal Brian Hoyer last week, paving the way for rookie C.J. Beathard to assume his destiny as tank commander for this likely 0-16 team. It can’t get any worse than Hoyer, but I’d stay away if you can help it. My condolences if you dropped anyone of value for Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris. While Matt Breida may be the starter in a post-Hyde world, for now he’s just an undrafted rookie who carries Chuck’s pads. Jason Witten is dead to me.
Prediction: “Cowboys unimpressive, but hang on to win 26-20”
Jets @ Dolphins
Story to Watch: Imagine, if you will, that we were to suddenly be visited by an extraterrestrial being from another galaxy. He’s come in peace, fortunately, but he clearly has no knowledge of our language, customs, or general way of life. Even this benevolent uninformed visitor would exclaim, “get the fuck out of here” if you were tell him that the Dolphins are somehow 3-2 this season. I don’t know how they’ve managed to scrape together 3 wins despite the apathetic play of Jay Cutler, but coming off a shocking road win in Atlanta, maybe we have to start taking them seriously? I really, really don’t want to, but if they’re able to keep grinding out wins like this, then clearly there’s some fantasy value to be had. Damn, and just when I thought we were on the verge of a Cutler benching…
Safe Bets: It took nearly a month and a half, but now it seems clear that the Jay train is back on schedule. I’m starting Jay Ajayi wherever I can, as the Dolphins clearly depend on him to set the pace for their boring as shit offense. Jarvis Landry is getting the job done with or without Devante Parker, but just realize that “getting the job done” in Jarvis terms means a ceiling of 70 yards. Hard to argue with the 14 targets last week, though. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is leading all tight ends in targets since his reinstatement, and he’s needed every single one of those targets to be viable with Josh McCown chucking the ball all over the place. Still, if you managed to pick him up a couple weeks ago, ASF should be locked up as your every week tight end going forward.
Hope For The Best: Jay Cutler is the very personification of the phrase “hope for the best”. He could be matched up against the football equivalent of the Washington Generals, and you’d still have to hope for the best. “Hope for the best” should be engraved on his tombstone. I’m not over the moon about Josh McCown either, especially considering that Miami has yet to allow more than 20 points in a game yet this season. Still, I like his chances to throw for two touchdowns. I would include Devante Parker in here, but his availability is up in the air.
Hell No: Elijah McGuire squandered his opportunity with an open backfield last week, and he doesn’t figure to get more reps with a healthier Matt Forte and the possibility of Bilal Powell returning. Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson are both WR3 dart throws, and their touchdown upside is limited with Austin Sefarian-Jenkins’ emergence.
Postgame Headline: “Jets shock Dolphins, win surprisingly entertaining game 27-23”
Cardinals @ Rams
Story To Watch: I don’t know what it is, but there’s something brewing in the typically barren landscape of Scottsdale, Arizona. Despite being at an age where meeting for bridge club would be more appropriate than a football game, the Cardinals’ geriatric players are thriving lately. Last week against the Buccaneers, Larry Fitzgerald looked physically dominant, Carson Palmer continued his solid play, and Adrian Peterson was making cuts that you simply don’t see from a 32 year old running back (since most are sitting on the couch then). I guess a change of scenery was all he needed – like when doctors from the 1920s would recommend polio patients head west for the palliative properties of the dry, desert winds. They’ve put AP in a good “humour”, indeed.
Safe Bets: While his explosions have been sporadic, the baseline for Larry Fitzgerald has been there all season long. Coming off a 10-138-1 line, he should be locked into your lineups. Todd Gurley had a very strong game against the Jaguars, but it could’ve been even better. The Rams inexplicably went away from the run for chunks of time, but hey, we’re not complaining about 100+ rushing yards. Also, from an eyeball test standpoint, Gurley is running more confidently with each passing week. Speaking of running confidently – Adrian Peterson falls into the “let it ride” school of thought when it comes to setting your lineup. Compared to his sleepwalking stint in New Orleans, AP looked like he received an adrenaline shot to the chest from Vincent Vega. It’s safe to say that he’s back…
This game out to be more tightly contested than the one against the Bucs, but Carson Palmer should still deliver mid-QB1 numbers. 245 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions sounds about right.
Hope for the Best: It wasn’t the prettiest effort from Jared Goff last week, but that can be expected against the Jaguars’ nightmare cornerback duo. It should be a little easier this week in what should be a somewhat high scoring game. John Brown looks to be 100% healthy for the first time this season, and it’s clear that he’s part of the Cardinals’ gameplan when that’s the case. The targets are spread a little thin lately, but JJ Nelson has WR3 and flex appeal in deeper leagues. Same goes for Cooper Kupp. With Sammy Watkins not giving a shit and/or being bracketed by Patrick Peterson, Kupp stands to benefit in what should be a high scoring affair.
Hell No: Fantasy football is a game of matchups, but I feel comfortable copy and pasting Sammy Watkins in the “hell no” category in perpetuity. He’s essentially droppable (cue the 27 point explosion out of nowhere). With a fully healthy receiving corps, I’m afraid Jaron Brown is the odd man out. Same goes for Andre Ellington, who has been emphatically muscled out by the arrival of Purple Jesus.
Bengals @ Steelers
Safe Bets: It should be clear from his 191 yard shredding of the Chiefs last week that Le’Veon Bell is in prime form now. I think the Steelers finally got the memo that the offense should flow through him and not Big Ben’s noodle dick of an arm, and they were rewarded with a win on the road as a result. Even in a difficult divisional matchup against the Bengals, Le’Veon should be in line for a heavy and productive workload at home this week. Antonio Brown had one of the coolest game-winning TDs I’ve ever seen last week, even if it clearly should’ve been an interception. Talk about a bailout. Anyway, he should continue his streak of making 100 yard performances look like a yawn. AJ Green should remain on the warpath as well. He’s been dominant since speaking out in week 3, and the Red Rifle will continue to pepper him with targets if he knows what’s good for him (hint: he might not!)
Hope For The Best: I’m a huge fan of Martavis Bryant coming off a nearly two calendar year-long weed suspension and immediately demanding a trade. He may have a legitimate gripe about his usage, but I love the lack of self-awareness nonetheless. In any event, perhaps his bitching will lead to Big Ben sending a few more passes his way. Some of the more sanctimonious members of my league refer to Joe Mixon as “Joe the Criminal”. Just wanted to share that. Anyway, he’s a decent RB2 start as his carries are trending upward each week. As an aside, Mixon’s running style was accurately compared to Le’Veon’s coming out of college, and so far the rookie has lived up to the praise in the few situations he’s been able to break loose. It should be interesting watching them go head to head.
This game could very well become a boring, 15-12 defensive struggle that Middle America nonetheless loves, so I’m not crazy about Andy Dalton or Ben Roethlisberger this week. With a gun to my head, though, I’d probably say that Dalton has the better chance for fantasy upside. In the least surprising news of the week, Tyler Eifert decided to have season ending surgery. Consider me stunned. Tyler Kroft is the next Tyler up, and he’s not a bad TE streaming option as the de facto #2 receiving option for the Bengals.
Hell No: The only situation where Giovanni Bernard can deliver anything more than flex numbers is if the Bengals find themselves facing a 24+ point deficit, and I don’t envision that being the case in this one. Jeremy Hill should send Marvin Lewis a personalized thank you note if he ever sees more than seven carries in a game again. In a game that should be low scoring, there isn’t a lot of bandwidth for a secondary receiving option like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Jesse James.
Postgame Headline: “Steelers outlast Bengals 16-14”
Seahawks @ Giants
Story To Watch: I can’t do this. I can’t sit back here and watch these Giants – who were essentially roadkill with an 0-5 record heading into Denver – start this redemption tour on the backs of scrubs. We’re now in the unenviable position of feeling bad for these sons of bitches, whose struggles just two weeks ago made them the laughing stock of the NFL. All it took was one measly win (an impressive one, no doubt) to start the hot takes about whether this team is better off without Odell, that this season will be Eli’s greatest feat, etc. I was so ready to be done, but now I guess I have to write about them every week. I was kind of hoping they would just forfeit and give my fingers a break, but here I am, having to write about luminaries like Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman.
Safe Bets: He’ll be running for his life once again, but that won’t stop Russell Wilson putting up 20+ fantasy points in the meadowlands. I think this game has sneaky low-scoring potential, but Russ will still pay the bills. This has been a whacky season to say the least, but the Giants offer at least a modicum of consistency in that they cannot defend tight ends. Start Jimmy Graham and his overzealous celebrations with confidence. On the Giants side, Star Wars bounty hunter Orleans Darkwa is a must start against a Seattle unit that is somewhat embarrassing against the run. Evan Engram is entering the “must start” conversation almost by default. He’s the designated survivor of Giants pass catchers.
Hope For the Best: I don’t think Eli Manning is on the streaming radar, but he won’t be as bad as some people are suggesting. The giants are going conservative and Eli is taking care of the football, and as a result he has a nice floor at the cost of a high ceiling. Doug Baldwin will be tied up in the brier patch with the jackrabbit, but you likely don’t have better options. Don’t go in expecting one of those random 12 catch, 173 yard performances and you won’t be too disappointed.
Hell No: With CJ Prosise returning to action, that means there are now four running backs vying for touches in Seattle’s clusterfuck of a backfield. It’ll be hard to trust Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, or J.D. McKissic in any capacity. Wayne Gallman has his role on the giants, but he shouldn’t have a role in your fantasy lineup against Seattle.
Prediction: “Giants survive tough battle, get bullshit win over Seattle 23-20”
Broncos @ Chargers
Safe Bets: I might be alone here, but I think “Angry Melvin Gordon” is the best Melvin Gordon. He’s run with authority two weeks in a row now, and he’s done it while handling 25+ touches in each game (both wins, by the way). He’s looking like an overall RB1 candidate to me, and I would even feel confident starting him against a Denver team that just got shredded by Orleans Darkwa. Hunter Henry is finally part of the Chargers’ every week gameplan, and he just missed out on another touchdown last week by about six inches. Keep him locked in your lineup going forward and don’t worry about it anymore. If Demaryius Thomas happens to be active, then he should feast with his partner in crime Emmanuel Sanders shelved for the foreseeable future.
Hope For the Best: It isn’t a tremendous matchup by any stretch, but these are the sorts of games that overgrown bitch baby Phil Rivers thrives in. I think he’ll get at least two touchdowns, with swing pass extraordinaire Melvin Gordon hauling in one of them. Things are not going well if you’re a CJ Anderson owner. He was looking like an RB1 steal early in the season, but this appears to be a full blown rotation now. Still, he’s the best bet of the three Denver running backs. Keenan Allen hasn’t delivered the explosive breakout game yet this season, and it’s doubtful that it’s coming this week. Expect a neat and tidy 5-65-0 performance.
Hell No: The matchup might seem like a rebound spot on paper, but you do not want to start Trevor Siemien this week. There are only two teams on bye, so it’s basically just insubordination if you decide to start him anyway. Tyrell Williams needs the long bomb to thrive, which he probably won’t be getting against Aqib Talib and company. I am the founding member of the “Devontae Booker burned me in 2016” support group. We know that some wounds never heal, so our lines are always open. I find the fact that he’s unstartable this season to be productive for the healing process, however. Love me some Jamaal Charles, but it’s just not gonna be worthwhile unless you’re in a 20 team league or something. On that note, Bennie Fowler is worth a look in extremely deep leagues.
Jaguars @ Colts
Story To Watch: Andrew Luck has always had a bit of a Civil War aesthetic, but the current physical state of the typically bulky quarterback has him looking more like a prisoner at Andersonville than a Union General. It should come as no surprise to anyone who watched clips of Andrew luck “throwing” last week, but beat reporters recently suggested that he might not play a single game this season. I understand the Colts being cautious with their franchise quarterback, but the team said he would be ready to play by week one! That is either an egregiously dishonest or egregiously inept handling of the situation, but either way it’s embarrassing for the organization. At this point it’s fair to wonder if Andrew Luck will ever be the same again…
Safe Bets: Thankfully the injury gods spared Leonard Fournette after a seemingly devastating ankle injury late last week. He was cleared to return, however, so feel free to deploy him as usual and expect him to deliver the pain as scheduled. As far as “safe” goes, well… there isn’t much more here.
Hope For the Best: There’s little reason to expect that TY Hilton will break the trend of Jalen Ramsey shackling top receivers for sport, but his ability to get over the top makes me think he might have a decent yardage output in this one. Marlon Mack has some good burst and playmaking ability, so it seems like the Colts are holding themselves back by limiting his touches. It’s not that Frank Gore has been bad, mind you, but getting Mack into space and letting him make plays will take some of the burden off of Jacoby Brisett’s plate. I think this is week to get on the Mack truck. I wouldn’t kill yourself trying to decide between Allen Hurns or Marquise Lee, but I think I’d give the edge to Lee in this one. With Hilton and Chief Crief likely to be bracketed by Jacksonville’s superstar CB tandem, whitest guy in the league Jack Doyle is a fine TE play this Sunday.
Hell No: You can probably tell that I love the grim criefer, but starting Donte Moncrief in Jacksonsville is the hardest of sells. It doesn’t look like help is on the way for Jacoby Brissett, so he might as well get comfortable as the starting quarterback. He’s acquitted himself quite well so far, but I don’t like his chances at all against this nasty Jacksonville defense.
Postgame Headline: “Jaguars get big division win, lull Colts to sleep 23-16”
Saints @ Packers
Story To Watch: The story to watch is how much of a letdown this game is now that Aaron Rodgers is out for the season. We could’ve been in for a treat, but now we get to watch Brett Hundley. Oh well, we’ve still got a job to do here…
Safe Bets: If you were to tell me that the Saints scored 52 points but Drew Brees threw for less than 200 yards with two interceptions, I would calmly back away, call the police, and alert them that a raving lunatic was on my property. That was one whacky game, but I think we’ll see the Brees that we know and love against the Packers. There’s a very real possibility that this is turning into a rushing offense, with Mark Ingram FINALLY getting the workload that he deserves. His talent level has never been what’s holding him back. Michael Thomas was largely absent during the roundabout shootout in the Bayou last week, but that was mostly due to Drew Brees only completing 20 passes. I think Mike will get back on schedule as one of the more consistent WRs in fantasy.
Hope For The Best: Just when the Packers were starting to get rolling, all it took was one collar bone snap for the Green Bay offense to suddenly look, ahem, less than desirable. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams looked amazing under ideal conditions with Rodgers, but now the lights have come on, so to speak. I’ll let George Costanza take it from here
Nelson and Adams are great players, but there’s a nonzero chance you’re going see “bad” or “ugly” more often than “good” with Hundley under center. Ty Montgomery hilariously botched a touchdown last week that simply defied explanation. The defense parted like the red sea and he still managed to trip over himself and drop the ball on the goal line. Still, I think he’ll continue to be involved as a receiving option, which keeps his fringe RB2 value afloat for now. I still like Aaron Jones more, but we’ll have to see how this new offense operates with Hundley taking snaps. Alvin Kamara did a lot with his 10 carries last week, totaling 74 yards with a few long bursts mixed in. I think he’ll be more involved as a receiver in this one, which is where he should derive the majority of his value anyway. This might be the game where Willie Sneed is fully integrated back into the offense.
Hell No: I’m inclined to think that Tedd Ginn Jr.’s breakout game last week was a bit of a fluke. Mind you that I’m basing that on nothing in particular, though. Brandon Coleman looked like a red zone specialist early this season, and that’s all you can really hope for to get any sort of fantasy ROI. His receptions and yardage totals alone don’t warrant anything more than flex consideration. I think it’s okay to stash Brett Hundley, but he’s a guy you should take a “wait and see” approach with.
Postgame Headline: “Saints continue winning ways at Lambeau, drop Packers 31-21”
Editor’s note: Panthers-Bears and Vikings-Ravens will be posted later today.