Bills @ Jets
Story to Watch: Hey, the Bills are kind of good! Ordinarily a team going 5-2 during the first half of the season wouldn’t be extremely noteworthy, but you have to remember that Bills essentially admitted defeat during the preseason. Buffalo seemed committed to tanking after trading away Sammy Watkins and shutdown corner Ronald Darby, and we’re quick to forget that Anquan Boldin straight up retired because of how hopeless the season outlook appeared to be. I don’t think I’ve seen a team intentionally try to tank and then fall ass backwards into a winning record in the same season, but here we are with the Bills. It’s like they attempted one of those hilarious insurance fraud scams but were actually awarded a $10 million settlement.
The tanking talk is all ancient history, though. With Lesean McCoy, Tyrod Taylor, and now Kelvin Benjamin, the suddenly dangerous Bills are cooking with gas heading into the second half of the season. Hope you were able to buy some shares.
Safe Bets: Nothing makes my eyes roll faster than seeing some fat old white dude rocking an “Old Guys Rule” t-shirt, but Josh McCown is making me reconsider my position on the slogan. He looks more than competent in his age 38 season, and the American Ivan Drago even appeared like the better quarterback in his rainy duel with Matt Ryan last week. I’d keep him going in what should be a close divisional matchup against the Bills. On the other side, Tyrod Taylor is getting the job done and then some for the streaking Bills lately. While Lesean McCoy is clearly the focal point, T Mobile can easily deliver you 20+ points against a Jets defense that was shredded by Matt Moore not too long ago.
Hope For The Best: I’m taking a wait and see approach with Kelvin Benjamin, but I don’t blame you at all for starting him if he’s active. Bear in mind he’s had two days to prepare, though, so the amount of times they call his number could be limited. I’m starting to like Robby Anderson. Not only does he look like a surfer whose diet consists entirely of weed and tacos, but he’s been locked in as a dependable deep threat for McCown as well. Austin Seferian-Jenkins ended his touchdown streak last week, but he figures to bounce back against a Bills unit that’s weak against Tight Ends. I’m not a huge fan of either Matt Forte or Bilal Powell, but I’d have to give the edge to Powell in this one.
Hell No: The fact that a 3 catch, 32 yard outing qualifies as a breakout performance tells you all you need to know about Zay Jones. You weren’t starting him anyway, but he’s doubly expendable now that Kelvin Benjamin is in the fold. There isn’t a strong case for Jordan Matthews, either, who was equally hapless last week against the Raiders. The emergence of Robby Anderson has firmly planted Jermaine Kearse as the 2nd read for Josh McCown. In a typically sluggish Thursday night matchup, he is the definition of a flex dart throw.
Postgame Headline: “Bills continue stampede into November, hold off Jets 28-24”
Colts @ Texans
Story To Watch: There’s putting your foot in your mouth, and then there’s comparing your mostly African American employee base to inmates in a prison. Texans owner Bob McNair certainly didn’t read the temperature of the room before making his ill-advised comparison last week, causing numerous walkouts and talks of protests from Texans players. There was a part of me that felt this distraction could derail the red hot Texans’ performance on the field, but those fears were quickly assuaged as Houston-Seattle turned out to be the best game of the season. The Texans were almost emboldened by the controversy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they play with even more fire from here on out. As for Bob McNair, well, I just hope he’s able to avoid running into DeAndre Hopkins in the elevator…
Safe Bets: In a game last week against Seattle that featured more highlights than a slam dunk contest, Deandre Hopkins’ ability to snare the ball is what stood out to me the most. He is the truest definition of a “throw it to an area” wide receiver, and he finally has a quarterback that can utilize him to his fullest potential. He should be in line for another huge game against the Colts. In the least surprising news of the week, I’m advocating you go ahead and start fantasy MVP Deshaun Watson. He’s earned matchup-proof status, and this game is against the goddamn Colts. I’m at the point where I’m done betting against Will Fuller. He’s going to drop off eventually (7 touchdowns in 13 receptions this season), but then again… will he, though? It feels good to have Lamar Miller back in action as a bellcow running back. The talent is there, and now that he’s in a dynamic offense, the sky is the limit. He’s money in the bank as an RB2.
Hope For The Best: I was rightly derided for claiming that TY Hilton was a “safe bet” last week, so I’m not exactly doubling down after that embarrassment. That said, the Texans defense was just shredded for nearly 500 yards of offense, so I think Hilton gets back on track in this one. I think Jacoby Brissett can get the job done for you in 2QB leagues this week. The matchup is there for him to get around 15 points. Zombie Frank Gore is pretty much un-killable. He handled 20 touches this past week and totaled over 100 yards for the first time this season, but more prominently, he struck a mortal blow to the Marlon Mack truthers in the process. Resident moron Chuck Pagano doesn’t seem too keen on expanding the rookie’s touches, and Gore certainly made that decision easier for Indy’s lame duck coach. With 12 catches for 126 yards and a score last week, you need to keep it rolling for Jack Doyle. He turned into Jacoby’s “oh shit!” button overnight it seemed, which is a major boon to both players’ fantasy prospects.
Hell No: Coming off a catchless, one target performance and being the subject of trade rumors doesn’t exactly scream “key offensive piece” about Donte Moncrief. This is simply looking like a lost year for the grim criefer. C.J. Fiedorowicz returned to practice this week, but I anticipate a slow return to a Houston offense that has been humming along just fine in his absence. D’Onta Foreman oozes talent, but Bill O’Brien gave the rookie a one way ticket to shitsville by demoting him to 3rd string running back for the foreseeable future. No need to stash him any longer.
Postgame Headline: “Texans lay the wood at home, embarrass rival Colts 34-17”
Bengals @ Jaguars
Safe Bets: It’s been almost two full weeks since we’ve seen Leonard Fournette on the football field, which I would argue is about two weeks too many. He’s healthy again and should feast against a Bengals defensive unit that was just gashed by the geriatric Frank Gore. I’m not telling you to sit AJ Green, but by now you should be aware of Jacksonville’s ability to utterly erase star wide receivers. He’s locked into your lineup, but don’t expect one of those 7-173-1 days from AJ.
Hope For The Best: We all know that Jalen Ramsey chews through receivers like an angry african bullfrog, but with the acquisition of Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus, the Jags now figure to be a brick wall against running backs as well. That spells trouble for Joe Mixon, but if you have to start him out of necessity as your RB2 or flex, his burgeoning ability as a receiver could boost his value in this one. Marqise Lee was trending upward before the team’s bye, and I think he’ll continue to see a healthy number of targets when the Jags aren’t committed to pounding the rock (which will be often). He’s the wide receiver to own in Jacksonville.
Hell No: There’s a whole lot more to dislike than to like in this matchup, and as such, I cannot in good conscience recommend starting Blake Bortles or Andy Dalton. The Jaguars have embarrassed far better quarterbacks than the Red Rifle, and avoiding starting Bortles is up there with “pay your taxes on time” and “don’t eat food out of the trashcan” as an unwritten rule for a healthy life. Giovanni Bernard gets more burn than Jeremy Hill, but neither should be considered for starting duties in fantasy. The tight end position has opened up a bit as late, so you would need to be extremely desperate to start Tyler Kroft in a tough defensive matchup.
Postgame Headline:”Fournette, Jaguars run over Bengals in 27-13 pounding.”
Buccaneers @ Saints
Story to Watch: Fresh off a performance in which it looked like he finally arrived against the Bills, Jameis Winston followed it up by auditioning for the “before” portion of a Lenscrafters commercial against the Panthers last week. I don’t know how else to describe it; he was missing throws left and right, consistently overthrew balls to open receivers and forced the rock to covered ones. He exhibited worse decision making than a drunk guy at Taco Bell. You know that second crunchwrap supreme order is unnecessary and that your asshole is going to pay dearly for it later, but what the hell, right? That’s Jameis throwing the ball into triple coverage or gift wrapping an interception to Luke Keuchly as he shadows Cameron Brate.
Look, you know I’m probably the biggest Jameis fan on the planet, but it’s getting more difficult by the week to be a part of the club. Two months into the season and he’s looking less like the prince who was promised and more like a not-quite-as-gluttonous Jamarcus Russell. He’s hoping he’ll bounce back, but don’t hold your breath…
Safe Bets: While Drew Brees hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire, he’s in line for a bounce back performance against the Bucs. I think he’ll cross the 300 yard plateau for the first time in weeks and will add a couple of scores to boot. Mark Ingram doesn’t appear to be in the doghouse after nearly losing the game with a fumble late last week, but it will be a situation to monitor. Alvin Kamara figures to get a bump as a result of Ingram’s ball security problems, but still, I like both RBs this week. Michael Thomas is ready to make up for that first half, and matchup with the Bucs is a great opportunity to kick things off. With Jameis’ spreading the ball all over the field like a Jackson Pollack painting, Dirk Koetter will likely lean on the Doug Martin and the running game to limit mistakes. Expect a heavy workload.
Hope For The Best: While not exactly Jalen Ramsey, Saints rookie CB Marshon Lattimore has made quite a name for himself as a wide receiver eraser this season. I’m not telling you to sit Mike Evans, but understand that the matchup is not as pretty as it looked in years past. Cameron Brate is still giving you his weekly 4 catches for 60 yards with a couple scoring chances mixed in, which qualifies him as a low end “set it and forget it” option. You are “hoping for the best” this week and every week going forward with Jameis Winston. With Willie Snead being worked into the offense at a snail’s pace, Tedd Ginn Jr. has some WR3/flex value in this one.
Hell No: If your league rewards guys who haul in one catch per game when it seems like they had at least five, then Brandon Coleman is your man. I feel like that dude has 80 yards every week until I read the box score and inevitably see the 1-16-0 line. I love Desean Jackson, but he’s hard to trust until Jameis reins in his accuracy issues (which could be never). He missed him on a deep ball again last week, much to the chagrin of Jaccpot owners. It should be clear by now that O.J. Howard’s success is predicated upon the defense completely forgetting he’s on the field. This is Brate’s show.
Postgame Headline: “Bucs continue slide as Brees, Saints win 26-16”
Rams @ Giants
Safe Bets: Outside of spending the bye week doing hand strengthening exercises and dipping his fingers in pine tar, I’m not sure how Todd Gurley II could improve on his first half of the season. Here’s hoping he picks up where he left off as the focal point of the Rams surprisingly effective offense. Speaking of the 2nd half of the season, there are few tight ends in the league whose outlook is brighter than Evan Engram. He’s the key to the Giants passing attack, which is either an impressive or depressing statement depending on your point of view. I think this will be a week that Jared Goff gets back on the low end QB1 map. The Giants’ secondary is banged up/being disciplined, and Gurley is always looming for a nonzero chance at taking a swing pass across the pylon (provided he doesn’t fumble the ball while making contact with it). Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are both nice WR3 plays given the circumstances, with Kupp getting the edge for a better shot at a touchdown.
Hope For The Best: Eli Manning has managed to play competent football despite the Giants’ training facility resembling a Vietnam field hospital, but he has to be feeling a bit like Roger Murtaugh at this point. I’m sure he’d rather be on the golf course, but even still, he should still put up serviceable numbers at home against the Rams. Part of that is due to the return of Sterling Shepard to the lineup, who should step in and easily receive 8+ targets per game going forward. I’m not in love with either of the Giants running backs, but Orleans Darkwa should see the volume. Calling Sammy Watkins a safe start is on the “I don’t get sunburnt because I drink water” tier of the quack meter, but it has to be said that Janoris Jenkins is suspended for this contest. If there was ever a day for Sammy to show up…
Hell No: I don’t envision the script playing out in a way that will give Wayne Gallman the requisite volume for good fantasy day, so I’d avoid him if possible. I could say the same for every other Giants player you could possibly be thinking of, as they are as nameless and forgettable as an auto-created 6th round rookie in Madden to me.
Postgame Headline: “Rams battle Giants, time zone and come away with 27-23 victory”
Falcons @ Panthers
Story to Watch: Even when it’s not explicitly listed in the job description, there are plenty of career paths where there are obvious yet unwritten expectations. For instance, firefighters are expected to rescue cats from trees for some reason. If you work for In-N-Out, it’s understood that you will serve their fresh yet wildly overrated burgers with a smile. If you get hired as the director of accounting for a large, publicly traded firm, they’re counting on you resisting your newfound power to embezzle funds and spend all the company’s cash on strippers and blow.
Hence, it should go without saying that when you get hired as the OC of the Atlanta Falcons, the expectation is that you get Julio Jones the fucking ball. Outside of two games this year in which Julio has been force fed targets, the Falcons haven’t been able to unleash their superstar wide receiver to his fullest potential. Steve Sarkesian has yet to grasp this very obvious concept. All we can do is hope he has a moment of clarity sooner rather than later.
Safe Bets: This has the potential to be an ugly game, so I’m hesitant to call anyone truly “safe” here. Obviously you’re starting Julio Jones, though. Mike Evans would’ve had a monster game against the Panthers last week if Jameis wasn’t so inaccurate, so Julio should have a chance at a big day for the Falcons (finally). Even though he’s down one massive weapon in Kelvin Benjamin, I think the Panthers will move the ball well enough to give Cam Newton some scoring opportunities in this one. I like him for about 18 fantasy points. It remains to be seen what Devonta Freeman will be able to do in practice this week, but if he’s active, I think he’s more of a high end RB2 than his typical RB1 designation.
Hope For The Best: It took a 52 yard run to get there, but Tevin Coleman was able to top the 100 total yard plateau in a wet and wild game with the Jets. Despite the inclement effects, Tevin looked spry and seems deserving of a bigger workload, which he could possibly get depending on Devonta’s status. Matt Ryan should be adequate in this one. Nothing more, nothing less. The aforementioned departure of big ass Kelvin Benjamin has people clamoring for Devin Funchess shares, but I just don’t see it. The opportunity is there, but he’s never been a game breaker. Expect more of the same (4-6 catches, 70 yard ceiling, outside shot at a touchdown). Conversely, I’m digging what Mohammed Sanu is doing with his opportunities. I like him again as a high end WR3 with the targets he’s been seeing.
If you thought Donald Trump’s 33% approval rating was low, you should check out the comments section when I shit on Christian McCaffrey every week. Excuse me for calling a spade a spade (49 carries for 117 yards = not an NFL-level running back), but I recognize that the guy is PPR gold. His targets should only increase with Benjamin out of the picture, and just imagine the possibilities if he could actually make a defender miss! It seems like Austin Hooper is back in the fold, but beware that he can disappear from the offense at any moment.
Hell No: Theoretically, now is the time for Panthers rookie WR Curtis Samuel. He’s been a ghost for Carolina to this point in the season, though, so I’d wait to see his role in a post-Kelvin world before confidently sending him out there. Jonathan Stewart finally crossed the goal line last week, but the sun shines on a dog’s ass at least once a day too. You don’t magically have a goal line specialist on your hands.
Postgame Headline: “Cam delivers vintage performance against visiting Falcons in 27-20 victory”
Broncos @ Eagles
Story to Watch: What a difference a week makes. When we last saw Jay Ajayi, he was hopelessly crashing into walls (sometimes willingly) against the Baltimore Ravens in a putrid performance. Behind a sieve-like offensive line, Ajayi’s 13 carries for 23 yards looked less like NFL rushing attempts and more like Ace Ventura’s forced exit from a rhinoceros’ ass.
Talk about a tight window. Anyway, those tiny holes are about to be blown wide open now that the Jay Train will be running through Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Ajayi won’t be catapulted to league-winning status or anything – this isn’t the 2016 Dallas offensive line – but his unique, violent running style will fit like a glove with the Eagles’ soaring offense led by Carson Wentz. Doug Pederson loves to control the clock, so even though the former Dolphin won’t enjoy the same insane volume going forward, he’ll still have plenty of touches – and higher quality ones, at that. I hope your ticket on the Jay train is already punched.
Safe Bets: Even though he’s coming off arguably his worst game of the season, I’m not sitting Carson Wentz at home – regardless of opponent. The Broncos are still stingy and their pass rush is a major concern, but Wentz has proven by this point that he’s matchup proof. Zach Ertz is money in the bank, and Travis Kelce aka “Varsity Zach Ertz” just abused the Broncos secondary to the tune of 7 catches for 133 yards and a score. Keep Ertz locked in. Even though he only hauled in 2-8 targets, Alshon Jeffery finally made one count with the sort of game-breaking play that he was acquired for. Wentz also missed him on what would’ve been a wide open red zone score too, so perhaps they’re finally getting in synch. Demaryius Thomas is a perfectly fine WR3/WR2 in this one, but bear in mind that he hasn’t scored since Moses wore short pants.
Hope For The Best: As you can tell from the “Story To Watch”, I’m more than a little excited for Jay Ajayi’s arrival in the city of brotherly love. That said, Denver is still a tough customer against the run, so I’m tempering expectations for Jay’s Eagles debut. Same goes for Legarette Blount, whose carries and red zone opportunities figure to go down, although not to the point that will render him unusable. If Emmanuel Sanders is active, feel free to start him against the Eagles’ exploitable cornerbacks (unless Ronald Darby is back).
Hell No: The eagles defense is 3rd best against the rush + a difficult to project RBBC = me staying the hell away from CJ Anderson, Jamaal Charles, and Devontae Booker. All three of them have a case for being the lead back, too, which caps the upside of each player with the way Vance Joseph is spreading around carries. Speaking of Vance Joseph, I could’ve sworn I saw this exchange with Trevor Siemien after one of his many interceptions Monday night. It’s hard to imagine how Brock Osweiler is a worse option at this point. Nelson Agholor has had a nice season, but this isn’t the matchup you want to start him in. Same goes for Wendell Smallwood, whose fantasy relevance went out the window earlier this week. Look on the bright side, though – you have an extra spot on your bench now.
Postgame Headline: “Eagles roll into bye 8-1 after holding off Broncos 27-19”
Ravens @ Titans
Safe Bets: Hopefully the Titans spent their bye week pulling their heads out of their asses. After a disgusting performance in which the offense couldn’t muster a single touchdown against the Browns, the bye week came at a perfect time Mike Mularkey to reexamine both his life and his now extremely stale “exotic smashmouth” system. With nowhere to go but up in the second half of the season, here’s hoping there’s been some improvement for Mariota and company down in Nashville.
Safe Bets: Assuming the time off did his bum hamstring at least a little good, a refreshed Marcus Mariota could be in for a bounce back game against the inconsistent Ravens. Provided that his mobility has returned, I like him for about 220 yards, 2 scores, and 30-40 yards on the ground. Demarco Murray also had some time to get healthy, and as such I expect him to continue his role as a solid RB2 and Henry owner antagonist. Alex Collins seems to finally have a stranglehold on the lead back duties in Baltimore. The volume should still be there for another week, but Danny Woodhead’s return is going to increasingly muddle the situation by the week. After a nearly two month long hiatus, Corey Davis should finally return to the lineup against the Ravens. He had 10 targets in his first game, and with the Titans offense running like a Model T since his departure, I’m guess the coaching staff is overjoyed to have him back as a vital part of the gameplan.
Hope For The Best: I’ve seen some dazed individuals in my time, but Joe Flacco looked like a stranger in a strange land after Kiko Alonso’s vicious hit last Thursday night. It looked like he needed Earth’s customs and laws explained to him on the sideline after that one, so it’s a little surprising that he’s on track to play this week. If he’s willing to mortgage his ability to form coherent sentences and decides to play, though, I don’t mind him as a very low end QB1 against the lifeless Titans. Jeremy Maclin was able to come alive on a beautiful deep touchdown last week, so here’s hoping him and Flacco can pick up where they left off. Javorious Allen hasn’t exactly grabbed the bull by the horns since Danny Woodhead’s injury, and his snap share is only going to diminish from here on out. This may be one of the last games where you can start him, and even then it should only be as a Flex.
Hell No: Eric Decker couldn’t make it happen with rookie phenom Corey Davis sidelined since week one, so I’m not super confident in his ability with a full receiving corps this week. The Ravens held Jay Ajayi to 23 yards after he rushed for 21 yards on the first play of the game. This is a group that knows how to tighten up, so Derrick Henry should also be avoided where possible.
Postgame Headline: “Titans get tough 21-17 win over Ravens to kick off 2nd half of the season.”
Cardinals @ 49ers
Story to Watch: Much like how avian creatures migrate south during the winter months, the Arizona Cardinals are trending downward in a hurry after having a glimmer of hope just two weeks ago. With a season ending injury to Carson Palmer, the recently resurgent Cards are now sufficiently screwed for the stretch run, and that goes triple for any of their skill players for fantasy purposes. The Arizona fanbase has understandably entered paper bag mode, and they’ve exhibited this to hilarious effect by turning the Cardinals subreddit into an actual bird watching message board. You’ll have a better chance finding pictures of American Kestrels or Yellow Warblers than getting an update on Larry Fitzgerald’s targets these days. Can’t say I blame them.
Safe Bets: If the 49ers ever had a chance to win a game, it’s this one. I’m not saying it’s definitely going to happen (since I’m not deranged), but if the Niners do pull it off, it will likely be on the back of Carlos Hyde. He could’ve had a much nicer game last week if CJ Beathard didn’t throw behind him on multiple screen passes. I think they’ll lean on El Guapo in this one. You’ve gotta feel for Larry Fitzgerald. He finally had a couple years of competent quarterback play after nearly a decade of ineptitude under center, and now he’s right back with Drew Stanton. Still, he’s the only Cardinals receiving option that you can put a modicum of trust in post-Palmer’s injury.
Hope For The Best: It’s hard to envision Adrian Peterson having truck lanes to run through with the Cardinals passing attack grounded for the foreseeable future, but the 49ers are exploitable against the run nonetheless. I expect the Cards to feed “All Day” the rock. I could see Matt Breida being mixed in a little more after he showed some flash during last week’s matchup with Philly. The workload won’t be huge, but he could have some flex appeal. Pierre Garcon will likely be tangling with Patrick Peterson. You’ve been warned.
Hell No: I don’t know what you can reasonably expect from John Brown, JJ Nelson, or Jaron Brown with Drew Stanton under center. I would avoid all of them unless you’re playing in a 16+ team league. Likewise, CJ Beathard should similarly be avoided at all costs. Jimmy Garroppolo will eventually have the honor of leading the 49ers offense, but that’s about as futile as leading a charge at the Battle of The Somme. Everyone is going to get torn to shreds regardless of who’s under center.
Postgame Headline: “Carlito gets his way, Niners upset Cardinals 24-20 for first win of the season”
Redskins @ Seahawks
Safe Bets: Coming off an absurd 452 yard, 4 touchdown performance against the visiting Houston Texans, I think it’s time to acknowledge that the real Russell Wilson is back. He was slinging it all afternoon long, and his maneuverability and athleticism is clearly back to 100% after last year’s hobbled, disappointing campaign. His ability to extend plays was the difference maker, as he routinely escaped simple dropbacks when the Seahawks pocket inevitably crumbled into a modern depiction of Picasso’s Guernica.
So yea, if you’re fortunate enough to own Russ, let it ride. I feel the same way about our guy Jimmy Graham, who was invisible for about 58 of 60 minutes last week but still cashed in with two touchdowns – including the game winner. When the Seahawks get inside the 20 yard line, Big Jim is the first and second option for Russ, and the fact that they’re both fucking crazy bodes well for their chemistry going forward. This would be a good game to deploy Paul Richardson, as Josh Norman will likely be occupied with Doug Baldwin throughout much of the day. On the Redskins side, Kirk Cousins and Chris Thompson are both tremendous options in what should be another high scoring affair with Seattle. This is the legion of boom no more.
Hope For The Best: Even though he was only able to account 54 of the aforementioned 452 yards passing, bum ass Doug Baldwin is due for a blow up game. Josh Norman will be one week healthier, though, so think more along the lines of 65-80 yards as opposed to the 150+ outing you’ve been waiting for. While the yards per carry average certainly doesn’t leap off the page, I can see things looking up for Rob Kelley. He won’t be winning the rushing title anytime soon, but he’s a good bet for a goal line score with the way his offense is humming. Speaking of which, please join me in welcoming Jamison Crowder to the 2017 season. He should keep the momentum going against a Seattle secondary that can’t run in stride with a sloth lately.
Hell No: As much as I like Josh Doctson’s outlook for the second half of the season, he’s a hard player to recommend this week. He managed to salvage his day with a late score last week, but other than that he was a non-factor. Speaking of which, did you happen to catch the graphic of Terrelle Pryor’s quote to the effect of “I’m ready to become the beast that I know I can be” followed by his game stat line of 1 target for 0 yards? That’s next level trolling by the Fox production crew. It’s looking like Pryor is a Sh*teater for life. This should be a rule for every week until the end of the season, but you should avoid Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and the Seattle backfield in general.
Postgame Headline: “Wilson continues hot streak as Seahawks outlast Redskins 35-28”
Chiefs @ Cowboys
Story to Watch: Let’s take a moment to pour one out for the fantasy grim reaper. While it’s true that Zeke Elliott’s suspension comes as great news to me as a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles (sorry, let me clarify – I meant the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles), I’m more than a little depressed that we won’t have him around until December for fantasy purposes. He is such a throwback to the glory days of the early 2000s when the running back position was the entire focal point of the sport. It’s just not going to feel the same without him around, but hopefully you’ve been preparing for this and have a backup plan in place. As for the Cowboys, well, it’s time to see what Dak Prescott is truly capable of.
Safe Bets: I don’t know what’s more remarkable, that Alex Smith is looking like Joe Montana this year or that he’s doing it despite Andy Reid’s increasingly arrogant play calls. In any event, keep Smith dialed in as a top 3 option against the Cowboys this week. Travis Kelce continues to dominate any defender who deigns to cover him, and there’s no reason he can’t keep up the streak against a less than stellar Cowboys secondary. It’s been a frustrating month for Kareem Hunt owners. While he hasn’t played poorly by any stretch, the Chiefs don’t appear to be putting him in a situation to succeed on most carries. I think he’ll bounce back and find the end zone for the first time in a month.
Dallas’ quarterback isn’t going to ascend to Russ levels, but Jason Garrett would be wise to unscrew the training wheels and let Dak Prescott go out there and sling it. I think the entire Dallas passing game gets a bump with Zeke on the shelf, and there should be more targets to go around as a whole. That’s amazing news for Dez Bryant owners. He and Dak were connecting in the preseason without Zeke, so let’s hope they can rekindle their summer romance.
Hope For The Best: It’s always a boom/bust proposition starting Tyreek Hill, but since he busted last week, let’s go ahead and call this one a boom. The Chiefs continue to look for him on deep shots, it’s just a matter of connecting. You’re probably very excited to start Alfred Morris after hearing Jerry Jones claim he’d be the starter. Then again, Jerry Jones also claimed he would bench any anthem protester for kneeling just one week after kneeling during the anthem himself. He’s full of shit. Jason Witten hasn’t been setting the world on fire, but he figures to see a few more targets than usual with the Cowboys likely going pass-first.
Hell No: I’ve heard the theory that Darren McFadden has been inactive to keep him fresh for the inevitable day that Zeke gets suspended, but the fact remains that this dude hasn’t put on pads since August. Also, Steven Hawking probably could’ve scooted his way to 100 yards behind the Dallas O-line last season, but they’ve been decidedly average in 2017. I would temper expectations for this backfield as a whole until the Christmas season.
Postgame Headline: “Smith, Chiefs continue dominance by winning 28-24 thriller against Cowboys”
Raiders @ Dolphins
Story to Watch: In the wake of the Dolphins’ shocking trade of Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia, it’s safe to wonder just how toxic the environment is in Miami. Reports are coming out that head coach Adam Gase had an axe to grind with Ajayi since before the preseason, and there have been similar rumblings that Gase has been unhappy with fan favorite Jarvis Landry as well, going so far as to put the star wide receiver on the trading block during this week’s bonkers deadline day. It seems clear that Gase isn’t exactly fostering a sense of team unity in the Dolphins facility. With all of the trust issues and leaks coming from the organization, I bet simple film study sessions devolve into the blood test scene from The Thing….
Never gets old. Anyway, the Dolphins’ offense is a noxious dumpster fire as it is, and Jay Cutler isn’t exactly the knight in shining armor to rectify the situation. It’s going to get worse before it gets better…
Safe Bets: I’m going to have to agree with Rodney Harrison in that Derek Carr seems to get a pass for his shortcomings. That said, this feels like a spot where he can earn that QB1 tag. The Dolphins just lost 40-0 to a combination of Joe Flacco and Ryan Mallett, so it’s fair to have high expectations for the Oakland offense in this one. Michael Crabtree has either a touchdown or 80 yards in every game since the Raiders’ Week 4 bye, so I’d feel great about firing him up on Sunday Night Football. Amari Cooper matched Crabtree’s target total with 10 against the Bills, but he wasn’t able to do much with them. I think he gets back on track in this spot. Jarvis Landry is the only safe option for a reeling Dolphins team, and that statement is dependent upon the generosity of your league’s ppr settings.
Hope For The Best: Signs point to DeVante Parker suiting up on Sunday Night, and not a moment too soon for the floundering fins. I don’t exactly know what to expect from him after a lengthy absence, but you’ve held him this long, so you might as well enjoy watching him under the bright lights. Call it a hunch, but I think Smokin’ Jay Cutler is gonna sling it on national TV. I mean, he’ll sling it right into the Raiders hands at least a few times, but the departure of Jay Ajayi could mean a shift in offensive focus for the Dolphins. Look for Jay to air it out. As of this writing, Marshawn Lynch is currently missing from the Raiders facility. He might simply be over it, but if he’s out there, I like him for 14+ carries and a shot at a goal line plunge.
Hell No: Even if Marshawn missed time once again, I’m not over the moon about either Deandre Washington or Jalen Richard. If you started one last week, you got the full Raiders experience when Jamize Olawale snuck in and vultured a TD at the goal line. I don’t think running the ball is going to be a focus. Likewise, Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake will pick up where Jay Ajayi left off, which is to say they’ll run the ball approximately 43 times for 57 yards.
Postgame Headline: “Raiders win battle of trash ass teams, overcome Fins 26-20”
Lions @ Packers
Story to Watch: Sometimes, you just have to learn to let it go. I was dating a girl for about two months during my freshman year of College, and things were going great until one night my roommate innocuously walked her home from the bar. Naturally I didn’t make anything of it, mostly because I was a 19 year old moron, but sure enough I later walked in on the two of them doing the horizontal tango in my dorm room. Even in my blacked out state, it only took me a few moments for my synapses to fire and come to the realization that this son of a bitch successful pulled off George Costanza’s roommate switch…
Though I was initially gobsmacked by the betrayal, my roommate eventually went on to date the girl for the next three years, so it was easy to accept that the two were right for each other. I think that Ty Montgomery owners should practice similar grace in the wake of the Packers’ obvious preference for Aaron Jones at the moment. I get that you likely paid a high price on draft night for TyMont’s services, but it’s clear that Aaron Jones is the better fit for the Packers. Like the old saying goes – sometimes your girlfriend fucks your roommate and the two begin a loving and lasting relationship together. Not much you can do about it…
Safe Bets: Safe to say that I’m pretty high on that home wrecking whore Aaron Jones. Not only has he destroyed the lives of loving Montgomery families, but he’s looked dynamic and effective while doing it. With Aaron Rodgers down for the count, he’s primary focus of the offense. Matthew Stafford has been anything but dynamic; however, his receiving corps is almost back to full strength and the Packers defense is exploitable through the air. I’m certainly not in love with Ameer Abdullah, but with the Packers giving up the 4th most fantasy points to running backs on the season, it’s a fine spot to deploy him as a RB2 or Flex.
Hope For The Best: It’s been a nice couple of weeks for Marvin Jones Jr., and I don’t really buy the talk of 2nd half regression. It’s true that Golden Tate has been hampered, but Jones has developed a nice rapport with Stafford over the past couple of weeks. On the flip side, it’ll be hard to feel confident about Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams ever again. Going from Aaron Rodgers to Brett Hundley is like going from a dry aged filet mignon to an old can of Spam with a few dents in it. You’re “hoping for the best” with both receivers for the rest of the season.
Hell No: It’s looking unlikely that Kenny Golladay will suit up again, but if he does, there’s no reason to force him into your lineup. The Packers are the only team yet to surrender a touchdown to tight ends this season, and they’ve yielded just 33 yards per game to the position. In case you have trouble interpreting analysis, that’s a “hell no” for both Daniel Fells and Eric Ebron. On the Packers side, there are few players in fantasy more disappointing than Martellus Bennett this season. Brett Hundley isn’t the guy to suddenly catapult him into relavence, either.
Postgame Headline: “Lions grind out tough divisional win over Packers 23-15”