Bills @ Patriots
Safe Bets: It’s hard to imagine a guy like James White becoming even more valuable this season, but the PPR god is about to get an even bigger workload. While the multi-purpose back has been money in the bank to date, he’s in line for feature work after Sony Michel went down with a gnarly looking leg injury last week. Now I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think your torso is supposed to rotate a full 360 degrees while your knee remains in place. In any event, I expect señor blanco to be on multiple championship rosters come December.
Safe Bets: Let’s put aside the fact that this atrocious contest made it into a nationally televised slot and just try to pick up a win, shall we? Tom Brady will carve up the Bills secondary with impunity, and James White, Julian Edelman, and a presumably healthy Rob Gronkowsi are all good bets for a score. Not to be outdone, our lord and savior Josh Gordon is looking more comfortable by the week and should have his best performance of the season on Monday night.
Hope For The Best: I’ll 100% have egg on my face for this suggestion, but Kenjon Barner is worth a shot if you’re in a pinch. This game should get out of hand in a hurry, so the former Eagle could be in for double digit carries and a potential goal line score. If Lesean McCoy is out, then you can maybe think about Chris Ivory.
Hell No: Kelvin Benjamin is coming off a season high of 71 yards, but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly on the upswing. Derek Anderson is throwing the ball to him, after all, so this entire offense can be fired into the sun.
Postgame Headline: “Patriots spank Bills in televised snuff film 37-10”
Saints @ Vikings
Story To Watch: Here’s a frustrating thought: consider how annoying Taysom Hill is if you’re a Kamara/Ingram owner, and now recoil in horror that he isn’t even scoring touchdowns yet. It’s only a matter of time before he starts punching in some goal line scores, and who knows, he might even vulture some passing TDs from Drew Brees as well. We can only hope that the meddlesome mormon decides to go on a mission to Guatemala or starts paternity leave with his third wife soon, because his act is extremely concerning for stakeholders in the New Orleans offense.
Safe Bets: Despite their substantial pedigree entering the season, the Vikings defense is fairly toothless halfway through the 2018 season. Feel free to deploy Drew Brees (“Mr. 500” himself), Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara. Both running backs should see plenty of work in this one, and I think we’re looking at a 50-50 split with the goal line opportunities coming down to dumb luck. On the Vikings side, Kirk Cousins has been as consistent as they come, and he’ll need to connect early and often with the apparently unstoppable Adam Thielen for Minnesota to keep pace with the Saints. I mentioned early in the season that Stefon Diggs is inconsistent as shit, and wouldn’t you know it, the typically measured and logical fantasy football community tore me to shreds for the suggestion. While I feel somewhat vindicated in my claim, I do think that Diggs gets back on the board with a huge outing in this one. 8-130-1 incoming.
Hope For The Best: There’s a case to be made that Latavius Murray is a bonafide RB1 given Dalvin Cook’s now extended absence, but I’ve got him being held relatively in check here. He’s still a nice start, but I see more of a passing attack from the Vikes here. Tre’qaun Smith is looking like more than just a bench stash lately, and he has some flex appeal in what should be a high scoring affair. In the battle of tight ends, both Ben Watson and Kyle Rudolph are looking at similarly capped upsides of 48-50 yards max. But hey, that’s nothing to shake a stick at in the disaster that is the 2018 tight end field.
Hell No: This should be a good one, so you can deploy basically everyone on the field with confidence (except Taysom Hill, obviously. He can go sit on an upside down pogo stick)
Postgame Headline: “Saints fail to exact revenge, fall to Vikings in familiar 33-29 contest”
Broncos @ Chiefs
Safe Bets: Just a few weeks after letting the Chiefs off the hook at mile high stadium, the Broncos head to the decidedly less friendly confines of Arrowhead stadium for the rematch. It’s safe to say this one won’t be as close, and that’s because Patrick Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill make up a well-oiled machine that eviscerates everything in its path. The Broncos might be feeling themselves a bit after whooping ass in the desert last Thursday (and creating a meme in the process) , but Pat Mahomes isn’t going to serve up wounded ducks like Josh Rosen. Still, Denver should put up a fight thanks in no small part to the ageless Emmanuel Sanders. You can’t count on him throwing a 40+ yard touchdown bomb every week, but he’s clearly the number one target in the game in which the Broncos will need to air it out. Travis Kelce is overdue for a touchdown, and I think it comes in this one.
Hope For The Best: The only thing keeping Phil Lindsay from being a “Safe Bet” is that the Broncos will likely be facing a 20 point deficit by halftime. He looks electric, though, and he should deliver a nice return as a high end RB2 with Royce Freeman sidelined. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sammy Watkins can hit the bricks. He has all the talent in the world but can’t seem to string together two decent performances in a row. Proceed at your own risk. Demaryius Thomas is still on the roster, so I can’t fully recommend Courtland Sutton just yet. That said, he’s clearly the future for the Broncos and his usage is ramping up by the week. If the Broncos’ shellacking of the Cardinals last week afforded Case Keenum and his criminal salary a stay of execution, then Chad Kelly being an actual criminal all but assures the veteran’s status as the starter. If you like multiple turnovers and a chance at a touchdown or two, then he’s your guy.
Hell No: Nothing gold can stay, and that’s clearly the case for Demaryius Thomas at this point. The fact that Demetrius Harris is a better play speaks volumes about the fallen once-perennial WR2.
Postgame Headline: “Reid, Mahomes keep the train rolling with 36-21 trampling of Broncos.”
49ers @ Cardinals
Story To Watch: I’d like to share a bit of (ancient) history with you for a moment here. Back in 2006, I took Lamont Jordan with my 2nd round pick and picked up a plucky upstart QB by the name of Byron Leftwich with my 3rd rounder. He didn’t do a goddamn thing for me, but I did wind up winning the championship that season. So, upon seeing that Leftwich was taking over playcalling duties from the mercifully departed Mike McCoy, I jumped at the opportunity to acquire David Johnson from a tanking owner in my league. I don’t know a damn thing about Leftwich as a coach, but a I feel a kindred connection to the former Jaguar, and it’s pretty clear that there’s nowhere to go but up. I’m not saying that DJ will immediately revert to his 2016 all-world status, but it’s clear that any kind of change is a good one for one of the biggest busts of 2018…
Safe Bets: David Johnson, George Kittle, and Raheem Mostert (if Matt Breida is inactive)
Hope For The Best: Marquise Goodwin, Josh Rosen, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk
Hell No: CJ Beathard, Ricky Seals-Jones, Alfred Morris (he’s dead to me)
Postgame Headline: “Rosen, Cardinals bounce back in 23-21 win over rival Niners”
Jaguars vs. Eagles (London Game)
Safe Bets: It’s fitting that this game will be held in London, because both of these team’s seasons are currently swirling the loo. With seasons literally on the line, expect the skill players to bring their A game and impress our English cousins. Alshon Jeffery has been operating on another level this year, so much so that I even recommend starting him against Jalen Ramsey. Zach Ertz should continue his torrid TE1 pace, and Carson Wentz will have something to prove after spectacularly bungling last week’s 4th quarter with the game on the line. On the Jaguars side, I’m officially recommending zero players. They suck ass.
Hope For The Best: While Jalen Ramsey will be healthy and barking, the rest of the Jacksonville’s ailing secondary presumably won’t even make the trip across the pond. That means more room to operate for Nelson Agholor, and the depleted resistance is coming at the perfect time for a 4th year player who desperately needs a big game. Take you pick between Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, but neither have been cutting the mustard so far. 70 total yards and a potential score is the ceiling for both disappointing backs. For Jacksonville, the only guy you can consider starting with a straight face is Carlos Hyde, and even then it’s a dicey proposition. Nobody can run effectively against the birds, so this would be strictly a volume play until Fournette returns (lol). This is more of a shot in the dark than an official recommendation, but I’d consider Donte Moncrief in this game. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the grim criefer.
Hell No: Blake Bortles has a better chance of getting knighted during his trip to London than delivering a passable fantasy performance. He’s obviously on thin ice and the Eagles are pissed off after last week – avoid. That means Dede Westbrook will need to rely on blown coverage to make an impact, but hey, that’s certainly possible! The arrival of Carlito in Duval county means that TJ Yeldon should start packing his bags for Shitsville™.
Postgame Headline: “Eagles control game for once this season in 26-16 victory over jinxed Jaguars”
Ravens @ Panthers
Story To Watch: This is the good shit. When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean that this game will be entertaining; in fact, in the context of the Patrick Mahomes and Sean McVay arcade style football we’re witnessing this season, a matchup between Cam Newton and Joe Flacco is antithetical to the concept of fun. No, what I mean is that this is the first true playoff game of 2018. The weather is starting to change, the sun is going down a little earlier, and the contenders are starting to reveal themselves. This won’t necessarily be a bonanza for fantasy purposes, but this game has 17-14 with a game winning field goal written all over it. Settle in…
Safe Bets: As I mentioned above, regardless of the drama that’s unfolding on the actual field, it will be difficult to glean any excitement if you’re just tracking your matchup score in this one. That said, John Brown figures to be the most dynamic option in what could quickly turn into a field position battle. He’s quietly been money in the bank all season and I don’t see why he’d slow down now. I’m never sitting Cam Newton on principle, but I think you’ll need to rely on his rushing ability to get a good outing in this one.
Hope For The Best: There simply hasn’t been enough volume for Alex Collins to pick up RB1 numbers, but I expect the Ravens to rely on him more heavily in what should be an ugly game. Speaking of volume, you can’t sit Christian McCaffrey given his allotment of weekly bread, but it’d be nice if he flashed some those preseason wheels again, huh? Devin Funchess will get you 4 catches for 61 yards, but I wouldn’t bet your mortgage on a touchdown. Joe Flacco will give a middling performance, but there are at least ten quarterbacks this week who will be worse off.
Hell No: DJ Moore has been trending in the right direction, but this isn’t the matchup to bank on a breakout. As timely as Greg Olsen’s touchdown was last week, it’ll be a difficult act to replicate against one of the stingiest defenses in football. Sorry ass receiver Michael Crabtree is one of the least exciting options in fantasy this year. Strange how that happens when you don’t get your weekly redzone touchdown, huh? Hayden Hurst looks like a guy who lost his factory job in a small town in the rust belt. The name of that fictional town in West Virginia? You guessed it… Shitsville™.
Postgame Headline: “Panthers survive at home against Ravens 17-14”
Seahawks @ Lions
Story To Watch: I know that this is Kerryon Johnson week and everything, but forgive me if I don’t immediately whip it out over a Lions running back. We’re talking literally decades since a running back from the motor city has had fantasy relevance, but having said that… damn did Kerryon look good against the Dolphins. While 179 yards from scrimmage is certainly nothing to sneeze at, there is a 6’3”, 240 pound turd in the punchbowl by the name of Legarrette Blount. He’s going to be a nuisance for the rest of the way in the redzone, but provided that Kerryon is still the lead man, there’s no stopping the rookie from taking you to the promised land.
Safe Bets: Kerryon, Matt Stafford, Golden Tate, Chris Carson and hey, what the hell – Doug Baldwin.
Hope For The Best: Russell Wilson – he’s been bailing his owners out with some red zone touchdowns so far, but the Seahawks simply aren’t throwing enough and this is a difficult matchup. Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, Legarrette Blount, Tyler Lockett
Hell No: Mike Davis, Theo Riddick
Colts @ Raiders
Safe Bets: If you were patient enough to wait for Marlon Mack’s breakout, then feel free to take a bow. The guy has looked like a reincarnated Joseph Addai since returning from injury, and thanks to finally getting in a practice on Friday, he should be locked into your lineup as an upside RB2. Andrew Luck should continue to deliver the goods in what should be an easy win for the Colts, and T.Y. Hilton will look to capitalize on his multi-score game from last week. The Raiders are officially a sinking ship given recent injuries/transactions, but Jared Cook is a buoy of hope in the decimated ocean of fantasy tight ends.
Hope For The Best: Apparently Jack Doyle is back in business, so you should find room for him on your rosters. Doug Martin is the heir apparently to the futile role of bellcow in the Oakland backfield, and he’s worth a look on volume alone. You may be tempted to play Martavis Bryant or Jordy Nelson given that some additional targets are now up for grabs in the Oakland passing attack, but the salinity level of their quarterback’s eyes means that any passes headed their way will likely be inaccurate anyway. I shouldn’t shit on Derek Carr for squirting some during last week’s loss, because really… can you blame him? Things are so bad in the bay that shipping off one-time rising star Amari Cooper is seen as a positive for the franchise, and I can’t say I blame them when you consider that they netted a 1st round pick in the process. I was extremely shocked by that haul, as I expect the rest of the league reacted like this upon hearing the asking price…
Hell No: The return of Jack Doyle doesn’t necessarily mean that Eric Ebron is heading directly to Shitsville™, but the writing is on the wall. Jalen Richard can safely stay on the wire until proven otherwise.
Postgame Headline: “Raiders continue slide, fall to Colts 31-23”
Cut For Time: a LOT. I’m trying to manage my job a little better to bring you guys most of the games, but you’ll have to settle for this abridged version for now.