In case you missed it, part one of this week’s Presessment can be found here. Now let’s get into the rest of the action…
Redskins @ Saints
Story to Watch: This is the good shit. I didn’t initially have this game pegged as an entertaining bout a few weeks ago, but these two teams are starting to hit their strides thanks to wildly different playstyles. On the one hand you have the Saints, who are a living, breathing rebuke to the pass happy NFL over the past few seasons. At one point against the Bills last Sunday, they ran 24 consecutive running plays, basically acting out Sean Payton’s apparent fantasy of turning the Saints into the Junction Boys. And then you have the Redskins, who suck, but are turning in entertaining games nonetheless thanks to Kirk Cousins. It should be a good one.
Safe Bets: There isn’t a more lethal combo in the game than Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara right now. While they’re both RB1’s in their own right, they have an almost symbiotic relationship with their contrasting styles. You’re looking at the NFL equivalent of Banjo-Kazooie, basically. The Saints have an improved defensive unit on the season, but I’m still playing Kirk Cousins this week. He’s the entire offense and he always puts up points, so there’s no reason to turn away from the matchup (it might not be pretty, but he’ll get it done). With the pressure the Saints have been bringing lately, Kirk will probably have a healthy number of Chris Thompson, who should have a good night in a matchup that the Redskins will need to throw in. I’m not gonna do something crazy and predict a touchdown for Michael Thomas, but I will say something less crazy and say he has a nice 7 catch, 78 yard floor in this game.
Hope For the Best: While the Saints’ transition to 1940s Alabama football has been nothing short of fascinating to behold, former gunslinger Drew Brees has unfortunately been neutered as a result. He got in on the rushing party by punching in a touchdown of his own last week, but that’s not something you want to rely on. Fat Rob Kelley is heading to the bench, so this is Semaje Perine’s time to shine. He struggles as it is and there will likely be a negative gamescript, though, so don’t expect too many fireworks. IF the Saints decide to bust out some old favorites and air out the ball, Ted Ginn Jr. will be the primary beneficiary. Hearing that Jordan Reed was ruled out for Sunday had the same impact on me as someone saying, “Hey, tomorrow is Sunday” Vernon Davis stands to benefit in the oft-injured Reed’s absence. Jamison Crowder is trending in the right direction, and with shit eatin’ Terrelle Pryor inactive (not that that makes a difference), he’s the Washington WR to own going forward.
Hell No: Like clockwork, Brandon Coleman had his single catch and then vanished into the streets of Buffalo last week. He’s a marvel of consistency, just not the kind you want. The same goes for Josh Doctson, who doesn’t figure to get uncorked in this one. I forgot that Coby Fleener even existed, to be honest.
Postgame Headline: “Saints continue to run with authority, pound Skins 34-23”
Falcons @ Seahawks
Safe Bets: In what is looking more and more like a potential playoff preview now that the Falcons have their heads on straight, this battle at century link field should produce plenty of fireworks. In a season marred by inconsistent performers across the league, Russell Wilson has been as dependable as it gets for fantasy. The same goes for Doug Baldwin, who has been racking up the yardage totals lately thanks to being Wilson’s “oh shit” read. Julio Jones is quietly on pace for monster yardage season (by 2017 standards, anyway), but because it’s Julio, it’s unfair to expect him to hit paydirt too often. Still, against a reeling Seattle secondary that just lost Richard Sherman, anything is possible. Jimmy Graham is like the shotgun in every FPS game ever made. He’s ineffective as hell from range, but he’s the perfect tool for the job within ten yards. Expect another short touchdown in this one.
Hope For the Best: With Devonta Freeman dealing with some concussion problems, this is Tevin Coleman’s time to shine. Take a bow if you’ve been holding him all season, because he’s in line for at least 20 carries in what should be a competitive game. Matt Ryan should also have a decent game, but he has a habit of completely shitting his pants in high stakes situations (which this certainly qualifies as for the 5-4 Falcons). Mohammed Sanu could see a decent game if the remnants of the LOB are keying in on stopping Julio. Austin Hooper has had three consecutive games of at least 6 targets, but with his yardage totals essentially capped, you’re hoping for the red zone score.
Hell No: Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic failed to seize the reigns during the immortal Eddie Lacy’s absence, who is returning this week. You’re better off just leaving your RB slot empty than starting a Seattle running back, as you won’t have to live with the disappointment if you didn’t even try (that’s just math). After a few games with some encouraging volume, Paul Richardson has settled back into his role of “make one huge play and nothing else”.
Postgame Headline: “Russell Wilson, Seahawks hold off late Falcons push in 31-26 win at home”
(I feel compelled to mention that the following five games are total and complete ass. People wouldn’t even be watching on Sunday if not for their degenerate fantasy yearnings, so the NFL should be praying every night that millions of people continue to partake in this hopeless endeavor of fantasy football. Anyway, I’m here to help proliferate all of our obsessive behavior with this game, so let’s get into the shit shows…)
Bengals @ Broncos
Safe Bets: Even though the vaunted Denver defense has surrendered 92(!) points over the past two games, the Bengals will have a much more difficult time moving the ball than the Eagles or Patriots did. Andy Dalton can’t fill Brady or Wentz’s jockstrap, but having said that, A.J. Green is still a guy who qualifies for must start designation. After that, you can’t feel too confident about any other Bengals, especially with the team’s offense languishing from a severe bout of impotency. On the Denver side, Demaryius Thomas’s two game scoring streak is a veritable outburst by his standards. He hadn’t crossed the pylons in 13 games prior to that, so touchdowns in consecutive games qualifies as a hot streak for DT.
Hope For The Best: Although the Denver rush defense is beginning to show some chinks in the armor, you can’t feel too confident starting Joe Mixon. Gio Bernard has taken a back seat and Jeremy Hill’s season is mercifully over, but Mixon still hasn’t made the most of his frustratingly low workload. He’s cashing in at the goal line, though, so there’s standalone value in that. Emmanuel Sanders looks to be fully recovered from his midseason absence, and he showed out by turning 11 targets into 137 yards last week. The only thing holding him back is having Brock Osweiler throwing him the football, which is kind of like hitching your wagon to schizophrenic horse. I’m cautiously touting Andy Dalton as a 12-13 point quarterback in this one, with “cautiously” being the key word. Same goes for Brock, who can at least match the Red Rifle’s output.
Hell No: It’s not a question of talent for the Denver backfield, but how do you know what’s going to happen on a week by week basis? 10-8-8 was the carry distribution for C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles, and Devontae Booker, respectively, last week. In terms of fantasy value, those numbers might as well be the lock combination to a briefcase full of moose shit. Barring an injury, nothing of import is going to come to pass in this backfield.
Postgame Headline: “Broncos shake off blow outs to get 27-17 win over Bengals”
Ravens @ Packers
Story To Watch: I want to take a moment to pour one out for Aaron Jones, who I boldly claimed was the fantasy savior of the 2017 season just a few short weeks ago. I failed to account for the fatass elephant in the room (the elephant’s name is Mike McCarthy), but Jones’ fate was sealed beyond his inept head coach’s playcalling when he suffered an MCL injury that effectively ended his season last week. As is the case with all hype trains, we shouldn’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened. The ballad of Aaron Jones is summed up by the A.E. Housman’s famous poem “To An Athlete Dying Young”
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
*sniffles* rest up, Aaron. Jamaal Williams will honor your legacy by averaging 1.8 yards per carry against the Ravens.
Safe Bets: It’s appropriate that we’re talking about Williams’ ineffectiveness, because that’s the perfect descriptor for this matchup. It’s hard to gauge who will actually be effective when we’re dealing with two of the worst offenses in the league, but Jeremy Maclin is a good bet for production on the outside. Joe Flacco recently came out and said he wants to see the Ravens play more aggressively, so that should translate to a few shots to Maclin over the course of the afternoon. Flacco has a puncher’s chance at a decent fantasy day himself, but don’t expect him to repeat Big Ben’s performance from the other night or anything. On the Packers side, there seems to be a rapport developing between Brett Hundley and Davante Adams. For the putrid Green Bay offense, that’s kind of like a ringworm infested alley cat forming a bond with a disgusting street pigeon, but we’ll take the chemistry where we can get it.
Hope For The Best: The Ravens have stated that Alex Collins is still the lead back in Baltimore, but things are about to get crowded with Danny Woodhead returning to action. I think Collins is the better bet in terms of workload this week, but Woody should see an increase in volume over the next few weeks. Jordy Nelson has seen such a dramatic fall from grace that he’s barely on the WR3/Flex radar anymore. It’s not a knock on his talent, but Hundley hasn’t shown an ability to hit him on wide open deeper routes. I wouldn’t hold it against you for starting Ty Montgomery if he’s healthy, but don’t expect a heavy workload with Jamaal Williams being mixed in.
Hell No: I wouldn’t start Brett Hundley if you can help it. He’s improving by the week, but he’s ceiling is about 11 points. Buck Allen is going to see his targets and carries nosedive in a suddenly crowded Ravens backfield, so that means Terrence West is basically on the bread line. Breshad Perriman saw a season high 7 targets last week, but surprise – he didn’t do jack shit with them. I would avoid both him and Mike Wallace in a difficult road game at Lambeau.
Postgame Headline: “Ravens get tough win on the road, topple Packers 23-16”
Jaguars @ Browns
Story To Watch: With his reputation as a bruising, workhorse running back, it’s kind of surprising to hear Leonard Fournette bitching about playing in cold weather this weekend. The entire point of having a strong defense and a power running game is that your team is supposed to play more effectively as the temperature drops later in the year, i.e. when the games really matter. Lenny from Louisiana doesn’t see it that way, though, and his seasonal leanings combined with his questionable ankle situation makes him a dicey start this weekend. It might not even be snowing, but in order to keep the rookie happy, the Jags may need to outfit him like Randy in A Christmas Story.
Safe Bets: This game will be gross, so there aren’t a ton of “safe” options. If Leonard Fournette winds up being inactive due to his ankle issue (aka him sitting by a fire with some hot chocolate), then Chris Ivory immediately becomes an intriguing option. He’s proven to be effective with limited carries this year and he would be the focal point of the offense against the Browns. Outside of that, ehhh… let’s just move on.
Hope For the Best: I’m no meteorologist, but signs point to the conditions for this game being absolutely atrocious for kicking and throwing the football. Still, Marqise Lee could be active in the short passing game. Cleveland is very effective against the run (3rd best in the league), so the Jaguars could be looking for alternatives through the air. This could be one of those random blow up spots for Marcedes Lewis, but know that you’re getting either two touchdowns or one catch for 9 yards. There’s no in-between with Marcedes. Blake Bortles has a floor of 8.59 points and a ceiling of 14.87, which makes him a discounted version of the very disappointing Marcus Mariota. If you have a death wish and are absolutely committed to starting a Cleveland player, then it would have to be Isaiah Crowell.
Hell No: The Browns sound excited to have Corey Coleman back in action, but it will be difficult to tell if he’s even active with Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye facing off on the other side. Dede Westbrook is confident in his abilities, going so far as to claim he’ll total 200 yards in his debut. You can’t start him yet, but you’ve gotta admit the kid’s got moxie (or a brain injury?) DeShone Kizer is a “Hell no” this week and until the end of time.
Postgame Headline: “Jaguars nearly pitch shutout on the road, stifle Browns in 20-6 victory”
Cardinals @ Texans
Story To Watch: Despite what everyone is saying, I think this battle of water-treading shit squads will be rather intriguing. Sure, I mean that in the same way that a smoldering, six-car pileup on the side of I-95 is intriguing, but it should be intriguing nonetheless. This is the end result of what happens when the sport loses a majority of its stars to injury and OCs turn to a checkdown, low-risk spread style of offense. You get teams with one useable fantasy starter and a veritable heavyweight bout between Tom Savage and Blaine Glabbert. Let me run that one by you again – Tom Savage and Blaine Gabbert. I thought he would be working at a snow cone shack on the beach by now, but apparently he’s still serviceable enough to play quarterback in 2017. What a time to be alive…
Safe Bets: As is the case with a lot of these wretched matchups, there aren’t a lot of safe fantasy options that you can depend on in this game. That said, you have to like Larry Fitzgerald’s chances of at least delivering a serviceable PPR outing. Don’t crucify me here, but I’m not about to start betting against DeAndre Hopkins, either. I’m well aware of the challenge that Patrick Peterson presents for Nuk, but he’s been getting it done all season long despite numerous obstacles, the latest of which being having statue throwing him the ball. I think 7-72-1 is a possible line for Houston’s top receiver.
Hope For The Best: It was a bit of an age-revealing performance for Adrian Peterson last week, as he was only able to scrape together an 29 yards on 21 carries against the Seahawks. He’ll probably top that abysmal performance in Houston, but don’t expect 100+ yards for AP. The entire Texans offense has taken a nosedive with Tom Savage calling the shots, but the change has been especially disastrous for Lamar Miller. Not only is he ceding more work to D’Onta Foreman and even Alfred Blue, but he’s seeing less work in the passing game and effectively zero opportunities in the red zone (because Texans). Jermaine Greshman has turned in back-to-back touchdown performances and isn’t bad as a (very) low end tight end option this week. You might be tempted into starting John Brown, JJ Nelson, or Jaron Brown, but with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, that’s like being forced to play Russian roulette in a Vietcong prison hut.
Hell No: If you haven’t been paying attention, I hate Tom Savage both for personal and fantasy reasons. He has less mobility in the pocket than a guard at Buckingham Palace, so there’s no reason to ever consider starting him. Blaine Gabbert can similarly be avoided. I understand he has some value as a DFS pick, but there are better streaming options out there for your terrible fantasy team. C.J. Fiedorowicz is essentially worthless as the tight end in a Savage-led offense.
Postgame Headline: “Texans hang on to win at home 19-16 in excruciating battle”
Buccaneers @ Dolphins
Story To Watch: I was in South Florida this past weekend and couldn’t help but notice the ubiquitous signs, shirts, and hats inscribed with the mantra “Salt Life”. Turns out it’s a way of life down there, and depending on who you ask, its meaning ranges from “enjoying fishing and all the ocean has to offer” to “wife swapping, brother!” Those are two wildly different things, which makes sense considering that Jay Cutler plays football in Florida. He can give you some of the prettiest passes you’ve ever seen, but he can also generously telegraph interceptions to brain damaged linebackers without skipping a beat. There’s no telling which side of Jay you’re going to get this week, but there’s one thing that’s guaranteed: he’ll do his damage once the Dolphins are down 24 points. That’s the salt life, baby.
Safe Bets: This game will encompass all of the stickiness and shame that South Florida has to offer, so you won’t find too many “safe bets” in this matchup. In fact, is there even one? I guess you could put Jarvis Landry in here, as Jay Cutler will be looking at #14 once the shit assuredly hits the fan and the Dolphins are down three scores. Mike Evans is probably dying to get back on the field after his one game suspension, and in a cruel twist of fate, he might actually be excited that Fitzpatrick will be throwing to him. Fitzy was downright horrible last week, but at the very least he should lock onto the 6’5” Evans all afternoon long.
Hope For The Best: No matter how many times the Bucs try it to force it, they simply can’t seem to get Doug Martin and the running game going. Coming off a dismal 20 carry, 51 yard performance against the Jets, the Tampa Bay OC surprisingly stood behind the muscle hamster, stating that they need to stay committed to the run. It’s starting to look like Louis C.K’s attempt at being a cop in that they’ll never get it right, but hey, you can’t knock them for trying. “Try” is not the first thing that comes to mind when doing word association with Jay Cutler, but he should fare better than he did against the Panthers last week. The same could be said for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has a nice matchup against the Fins despite his inability to accurately deliver a football. Devante Parker is apparently struggling with maturity issues once again, but maybe his coaches questioning his commitment will light a fire under his ass. Kenny Stills could be usable in deeper PPR leagues, but it’s hard to envision a score from him.
Hell No: Cameron Brate’s value went straight to the bench along with Jameis Winston. He’s not usable with Fitz pulling the strings. Desean Jackson is coming off a nice performance against the Jets, but with Mike Evans back in action, it’s hard to envision another 10+ target performance. Despite scores in back to back games, Julius Thomas’ primary function is to serve as an interception indicator for opposing linebackers. I’d stay away from him in this one.
Postgame Headline: “Buccaneers win ugly Florida battle over Fins 26-21”
(I hate to do a chicken shit abridged version of these last two games, but it’s been a hectic week. I’ll get back to the same 8,000 word gauntlet you all know and love in week 12.)
Chiefs @ Giants
Safe Bets: Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Evan Engram, Travis Kelce, Sterling Shepard.
Hope for the Best: Eli Manning (risk for in game benching, or simply a “I’m done with this bullshit!” meltdown), Orleans Darkwa, Tyreek Hill.
Hell No: Wayne Gallman, literally any other Chiefs or Giants skill player.
Lions @ Bears
Safe Bets: Golden Tate (the GOAT), Jordan Howard, Matt Stafford.
Hope For The Best: Marvin Jones (regressed into “2 catch Marv” form last week after a couple games of being featured) Kenny Golladay, Ameer Abdullah, Mitchell Trubisky.
Hell No: Theo Riddick, Tarik Cohen (remember him?), Eric Ebron.