Colts @ Patriots
Story To Watch: It’s a good thing Andrew Luck already has a devoted social media following comparing him to a beleaguered Civil War general, because he’ll have plenty of opportunities to reenact Pickett’s charge in front of a national audience on Thursday night. Down nearly every conceivable weapon and with his noodle-like arm in need of a field surgeon’s touch, it’s not going to be pretty for the Luck and the reeling Colts in Foxborough. While the person who runs the parody account typically plays into the dignified captain trope with verbose descriptions and flowery language of the era, I think he can take the day off and simply state facts about the impending massacre. “Dearest Mother, I fear we are about to about to get face rolled” should suffice.
Safe Bets: Tom Brady, Sony Michel, James White, Julian Edelman. With a statline of 5-40-1 nearly every game, Eric Ebron is basically TE1 material in the meat grinder that is the 2018 season.
Hope For The Best: Even without TY Hilton and Jack Doyle, Andrew Luck always seems to pay the bills in fantasy. Plenty of garbage points incoming. Nyheim Hines. Chris Hogan. Josh Gordon. If you’re rolling the dice, Ryan Grant is worth a look with Hilton sitting out.
Hell No: Did you hear that Marlon Mack is OUT yet again? I know, try to contain your astonishment.
Postgame Headline: “Brady yawns his way to four scores as Patriots demolish colts 34-23”
Redskins @ Saints
Story To Watch: Let’s take a moment to appreciate workhorse Alvin Kamara and the cornucopia of fantasy points that he’s provided so far. In his four weeks in the featured role, there wasn’t a single fantasy asset this side of Todd Gurley that could single-handedly win your matchup like Al, and all I can say is that it was fun while it lasted. With Mark Ingram set to return from suspension, it will be interesting to see how Sean Payton incorporates the career bruiser into the backfield. While the Saints had a largely effective thunder and lightning approach with the backfield duo in 2017, Payton stumbled onto an even more operative strategy this season with the novel “give the most exciting player in the league the ball every damn time” approach. It was a bold strategy, Cotton, but it’s safe to say it paid off. With how electric Kamara has been thus far, Ingram might be in for an unexpected reaction when his number is announced in the Superdome on Monday night…
Safe Bets: The Redskins have been more stout than advertised in the inaugural month of the season, but you can throw any preconceived notions about defense out the window for this Monday Night Matchup. Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara (even in a slightly diminished role) are all full goes for fantasy fireworks. Against the permeable Saints defense, it’s hard to conjure up an image that doesn’t include Chris Thompson running free in the open field all night long. That means Alex Smith will be tacking on chunk gains all night long, and with a full week of rest to presumably take his osteoporosis medication, the ageless Adrian Peterson is a great play as well.
Hope for The Best: To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t start Mark Ingram in this one; he’s primed for good usage and will obviously have an axe to grind after being forced to take an extended summer vacation courtesy of the commissioner’s office. It’s more that the Saints were so effective with Kamara that I want to see Ingram’s goal line usage before giving him a dedicated “Safe Bets” spot. Jordan Reed figures to be in a blow up spot here, and Jamison Crowder looks good for a PPR day as well.
Hell No: I know it’s a minefield for Tight Ends out there, but there are better options than Ben Watson. Similarly, Cameron Meredith is basically a ghost in a high scoring offense.
Postgame Headline: “Saints bake Redskins in prime time spot with 38-30 win”
Jaguars @ Chiefs:
Safe Bets: While the Jaguars’ defense has more than lived up to the hype in 2018, even they might not be able to slow down “Showtime” Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead. Contrived though his nickname may be, the shit hot Mahomes is a must-start, matchup-proof option until proven otherwise. Coming back in the 4th quarter in Mile High earns you that honor in my book. It’s a slightly less dazzling outlook for the rest of the Kansas City offense, but Kareem Hunt is back on the menu as a RB1 now that he’s seeing workhorse usage again. Speaking of workhorses, you may have noticed that Jacksonville’s is conspicuously absent once again? Yea, that’s because Leonard Fournette seemingly prefers to spend his Sunday afternoons in the living room like Hyman Roth now. Until Fournette actually earns the designation of “Football Player” in 2018, TJ Yeldon is the focal point of the offense.
Hope For The Best: A date with the exploitable Kansas City secondary is certainly inviting, but this is still Blake Bortles we’re talking about here. That home crowd is going to be jacked up after last week’s thrilling win, so it’s fair to assume Bortles airmails a few balls into the welcoming arms of a fire engine red-clad defender. You’re probably starting Tyreek Hill regardless, but this will be his stiffest challenge to date. Same goes for Travis Kelce, who will need to work extra hard to find open space against the Chiefs most difficult opponent yet. On the Jacksonville side, I’m betting big on Dede Westbrook to become “the guy” in this passing attack. And make no mistake, this offense will certainly be a passing attack so long as Len Fournette is feeding ducks at the park instead of wearing pads on Sundays. Keelan Cole should bounce back after last week’s uninspired performance.
Hell No: I’m not officially recommending him, but I wanted to give a shout out to the grim criefer, Donte Moncrief. He was one of my favorite players from back when Andrew Luck still threw the ball downfield with reckless abandon, so I just wanted to acknowledge Chief Crief’s 100+ yard explosion last week. Don’t even think about starting him, though. Similarly, and don’t break out the pitchforks here, but Sammy Watkins may not see enough volume against this stiff defense to warrant more than WR3/flex consideration.
Postgame Headline: “Bortles stumbles ass backwards into upset as Jaguars shock Chiefs 24-20”
Giants @ Panthers
Story To Watch: It seemed so promising, didn’t it? You have the most electrifying weapon in the game in Odell Beckham Jr., a burgeoning matchup nightmare in Evan Engram, a serviceable and at times explosive slot machine in Sterling Shepard, and to top it all off, you add the most impressive running back prospect in a decade in Saquon Barkley. Sure, the generally terrible and increasingly decrepit Eli Manning never blew anyone’s skirt up, but the weapons surrounding him meant he could overcome his talent deficiencies to provide serviceable fantasy outings. Welp, one month in and I’ve seen enough to declare that the Giants are irrevocably, unequivocally fucked. It’s going to be a long season for people who sunk enormous draft capital into OBJ or Saquon, to say nothing of the franchise on the actual gridiron. The last time a New York outfit was this anchored with sunk costs was when Johnny Sac was too heavily invested in the Esplanade…
Safe Bets: I could be in the minority here, but I think two weeks without Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and company is two weeks too many. In an increasingly pass-happy league, Riverboat Ron’s Panthers are possibly the most innovative team in the league in terms of play design. Look for plenty of chunk plays on both rushes and well-constructed screen plays against the toothless Gmen. It’s incredibly sad to type this, but I think this is maybe the last week that Odell Beckham Jr. can be considered a “safe bet” based on talent alone. The giants are that much of a dumpster fire. We need to see something this week to continue considering this guy matchup proof.
Hope For The Best: Look, when your quarterback has a tendency to bail on a mission quicker than a French infantryman, the PPR volume will always be through the roof. Saquon Barkley is in the mix based on that alone, but the lack of redzone trips for this offense means that the PSU rookie will need to subsist on a meager diet of three yard dump offs. Devin Funchess is the de facto “leader” of the Panthers receiving corps, which means he’s the proud owner of a 67 yard ceiling every week. It’s going to be even tougher lined up against the jackrabbit. Sterling Shepard has a great chance at racking up meaningless yards in garbage time.
Hell No: It’s not that Eli Manning checks down on 3rd and 15, it’s that he checks down immediately on 3rd and 15. I can’t stress enough how cooked the lesser Manning is, and he’s positively worthless in this matchup. It’s gonna be a long year. While he scored on my favorite plays of the year before the bye, CJ Anderson isn’t digging into CmC’s touches anytime soon.
Postgame Headline: “Eli slips even further into shell as Panthers roll Giants 29-17”
Falcons @ Steelers
Safe Bets: Lets start with the obvious point: These are two of the worst defenses in the NFL, so both Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger should be locked and loaded for a fantasy bonanza. You probably weren’t counting on 67 yards and a score as a “great week” for presumptive WR1 Antonio Brown entering the season, but here we are. Still, the former lecherous dancer is in for a coming out party this week against the porous Atlanta secondary. JuJu Smith-Schuster already has made a name for himself by converting his double-digit targets into 100 yards+ damn near every week, and you can take it to the bank here as well. Not that anyone in their right mind should be complaining about a 170+ yard outing, but it was humorous that Julio Jones still couldn’t cross the pylon in last week’s shootout with the Bengals. I’m not insane, so I’m not going to predict this is the magic week, but… the stars are aligning for the rarest of occurrences to take place this Sunday…
Hope For The Best: With six touchdowns with in the last three weeks, touchdown regression is a virtual guarantee for rookie phenom Calvin Ridley. Owners aren’t trying to hear that shit, though, and given that The Presessment could never be mistaken for a bastion of statistical analysis, hey – fire him the hell up. Even with an admirable 5-60-0 line last week, Vance McDonald discovered that he won’t make the national headlines unless he attempts to decapitate someone with a straight arm, so he should be on the hunt again this Sunday in an effort to maintain his relevance. Here’s a fun fact – Ito Smith has been utilized in the red zone more than Tevin Coleman this season. You know what you’re getting with Tev’ at this point. James Conner owners had an ice bucket poured on their collective crotches when Le’Veon Bell announced his plans to return in a few weeks. This is the worst thing to happen to the Conner name since the T-1000 started donning a police uniform, but for this week at least, the 2nd year back should be in for a decent workload against the Falcons.
Hell No: Even though Mohammed Sanu out targeted Calvin Ridley last week… eh take a hike, yknow? Austin Hooper meets the criteria for start consideration in that he’s a living, breathing tight end in 2018, but there’s nothing special about him otherwise. Jesse James would love to move out of Shitsville™, but he’s locked into that high-interest mortgage since Vance showed up.
Postgame Headline: “Antonio Brown’s three touchdowns pace Steelers as they outlast Falcons 33-28”
Packers @ Lions
Safe Bets: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, Davante Adams, Kerryon Johnson
Hope For The Best: Aaron Jones, Jim Graham, Geronimo Allison, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay
Hell No: Jamaal Williams, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick
Postgame Headline: “Lions stun Packers in the dome in 24-23 upset”
Ravens @ Browns
Safe Bets: I’ll say this for Joe Flacco – he’s not going down without a fight. You can question the eliteness of the veteran Baltimore signal caller, but he’s helming one of the best teams in the league and providing substantial fantasy goodness in the process. The Browns are a tall order (imagine typing that last year?), but I’m staying on the Flacco freighter for the time being. My man John Brown is part of the reason for the Ravens’ success, putting up WR2 numbers on a weekly basis. I like him in this one as his chemistry with his well-coiffed quarterback is getting stronger by the week. Look, I know the Ravens defense hasn’t been the most welcoming bunch to kick off the season, but Carlos Hyde is still the primary option if the Browns get in striking distance. El Guapo is getting the goal line looks, and that’s literally all that we want sometimes…
Hope For The Best: Jarvis Landry is generally a safe volume play, but with Jimmy Smith returning to the already locked-in Ravens secondary, you’ll have to seriously temper your expectations for Juice this weekend. As exciting as Baker Mayfield has been to start his NFL career, I can’t recommend him as more of a dart throw in this divisional bout. He obviously has the cojones to pull out a win, though. David Njoku is glad that the rookie took the reins from the risk-averse Tyrod Taylor, as his targets have increased each of the last two weeks. Buck Allen is the guy you want in the Ravens backfield.
Hell No: In an unfortunate turn of events for Al Collins, he was rapidly beset by a case of Crisco hands against the Steelers last week. This places him dangerously close to Shitsville™, but don’t freak out just yet. I’m not seeing enough from Michael Crabtree to warrant more than fringe flex consideration. Nick Chubb will likely get more than the three unbelievable carries he received against the Raiders, but the Baltimore defense isn’t a viable testing ground for your top waiver add this week. Hold on.
Postgame Headline: “Ravens continue winning ways in tight 19-17 win over rival Browns”
Vikings @ Eagles
Story To Watch: I was back in Philly this weekend for a wedding and used the time to sample of the city’s finest offerings that could be stuffed into an Italian roll. After a cheesesteak at John’s Roast Pork, numerous italians at hoagie joints in Delco, and a particularly delectable turkey special in Swarthmore, I can conclusive state without a doubt that the best receiver in Philadelphia is Alshon Jeffery. Carson Wentz embraced his return like a co-ed on VJ day too, as he was showered with targets and put up a prototypical WR1 line of 8-105-1 in his debut. That stellar effort was good for his first 100 yard game in midnight green, and a sign of positive things to come for the previously stagnant Philly offense.
Safe Bets: The Vikings have dropped any pretense of having a competent defense this year, so Carson Wentz is good to go in a must win game for the birds. The aforementioned Alshon is green as it gets too, as the Vikings secondary just got roasted by literally every person wearing a Rams uniform a week ago. Zach Ertz looked like a top three tight end last week and received 10 targets for the 4th time this season. Neither of those things will change against the purple people eaters. While the Eagles defense is typically stout at home, they did just make a nerve damaged Marcus Mariota look like Joe Montana last week. Kirk Cousins shouldn’t have an issue getting over the top of the embarrassing Philly secondary, and Adam Thielen figures to be the primary benefactor in the process.
(What’s that? The Eagles lost in embarrassing fashion last week? I don’t seem to remember anything of the sort. Say, the Vikings are in town again though…)
Hope For The Best: Stefon Diggs is immensely talented, but I think Jalen Mills will commit an upwards of five defensive PI’s against him in this game. It’s too bad you don’t get points for that. Who knows what the hell to make of the Eagles running back situation. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using any back, but Jay Ajayi has a marginal upper hand here. Only Nelson Agholor could turn 12 targets into 22 total yards. It’s impressive, but his next trick will be to actually provide usable fantasy numbers this week.
Hell No: The Birds have been tough on Tight Ends other than a fluke score from OJ Howard in Week 2, so Kyle Rudolph is a no go for me. That goes double for both Dalvin Cook and the worthless Latavius Murray, who will be crashing into the Eagles brick wall front for about one quarter until Zimmer until the Vikings abandon the run altogether.
Postgame Headline: “Familiar scene at Linc as Eagles bounce Vikings 29-23”
Broncos @ Jets
Story To Watch: I’m too depressed about Isaiah Crowell’s zero carry, four yard performance last week to even muster a blurb about this travesty of a matchup at the Meadowlands. It truly has me in a rudderless stupor, unable to conjure even the most mailed-in content for my ostensible profession as a fantasy writer. It’s almost as if there’s only one thing that could cheer me up, but… hmm, I’m not sure what that might be…
Safe Bets: None. This game is going to suck to high heaven.
Hope For The Best: both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman are tremendous talents, but they’re looking at a 50-50 split in the backfield. Emmanuel Sanders is trending in the wrong direction with how his quarterback is playing. Mannnn you already know I’m in the driver’s seat of the slam sedan, but it’s up to you if you want to ride shotgun by starting Isaiah Crowell. I suppose starting ol’ Billy Powell isn’t the worst idea in the world. Quincy Enunwa is a low end WR3.
Hell No: Sam Darnold and Case Keenum are gonna trade turnovers and overthrown passes on third downs like past and future versions of each other, as if this was an NFL Films production of the movie Looper. Robby Anderson will be lucky to see a single ball.
Postgame Headline: “Viewers treated to afternoon bedtime story as Jets surprise visiting Broncos in 13-10 snoozer.”
Cardinals @ Niners
Safe Bets: David Johnson was once autocorrected to “Davis Johnson” in my group chat, and now we refer to him that way all the time as if he’s a middle-aged golfer on the PGA tour. Anyway, Davis should at least provide par numbers in his best matchup of the season against the Cardinals. Sure, it took an 82 yard bomb to get there, but George Kittle provided one of the best tight end performances of the season last week. Jimmy G’s shredded leg hasn’t negatively impacted the Niners’ best receiving option so far.
Hope For The Best: While he didn’t outright burst back onto the WR2 map, Larry Fitzgerald showed immediate rapport with rookie Josh Rosen. He dropped a would be touchdown as well, so feel free to put Larry Legend back in the lineup. Ricky Seals-Jones continues to somehow stand out in the dumpster fire that is the Arizona offense, as if he were an unspoiled mcdouble at the bottom of a trash-stuffed McDonald’s bag. Matt Breida should still produce even in this diminished version of the offense.
Hell No: I’m not big on either CJ Beathard or Josh Rosen in this one, but at least Rosen doesn’t look like he wants to sell you edibles out of the back of his van.
Postgame Headline: “If nobody watches a game, does it still count? Niners sure hope so after winning 20-17”
Titans @ Bills
Is this really even necessary? There are like two guys worth starting here between both teams, and one of those guys is guaranteed to let you down anyway (hint: the guy is Marcus Mariota). The other guy is target monster Corey Davis.
Postgame Headline: “Titans barely escape with 16-13 road win at Buffalo”
Rams @ Seahawks
Safe Bets: Sean McVay’s offense is clearly a prolific, well-oiled machine, but it seemed like Todd Gurley might’ve been the only dependable option on a weekly basis coming into the season. That’s certainly true, but it’s becoming more apparent by the day that this offensive juggernaut can sustain everyone. For instance, if I told you the Rams scored 38 points last week, is that something you might be interested in?
In which Jared Goff threw for nearly 500 yards and scored 5 touchdowns….
And that Cooper Kupp accounted for 162 yards and two scores….
And that Brandin Cooks got the monkey off his back with a clean 7-116 line, including a deep touchdown….
And that Robert Woods crossed the century mark as well, including a late drive in which he was solely featured and capped it off with a touchdown…
And if that wasn’t enough, that the Toddfather still contributed 150+ yards and his own trip across the goal line for good measure?
Yea, that’d be my reaction too if I had any piece of this offense. You know what to do with these guys this weekend.
Hope For The Best: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett
Hell No: It’s looking like a full blown RBBC in Seattle, so I’d avoid Rashad Penny if you can help it. Chris Carson and Mike Davis is a coinflip, and you’ll probably get it wrong anyway.
Postgame Headline: “Rams escape with tight 24-23 win over rival Seahawks.
Enjoy the games, everyone.
— The BFG
Cut for time: Dolphins @ Bengals, Raiders @ Chargers, Cowboys @ Texans