Bears @ Bills
Story To Watch: If I could borrow a bit from Rutger Hauer’s famous monologue at the end of Blade Runner, I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe: Samkon Gado leading teams to a title out of thin air. Nick Foles throwing for 7 touchdowns in a game as part of a 27 touchdown, 2 interception season. Mike McCarthy still having a job. And now, in perhaps the most shocking addition to the list, Mitch Trubisky’s ascendance to dominant fantasy quarterback. I would have never guessed it when ol’ Mitch unceremoniously started his career (including a four completion game last season), but the dude needs to be taken seriously in all formats. Plus, there’s the added benefit of telling your opponent “you just got mitch slapped” when he turns in yet another 25-point performance his week.
Safe Bets: Not that the Chicago Bears are world beaters, but this game is going to be NSFW if you’re a Bills fan. Mitchell Trubisky should have no issues finding the seams and extending plays with his legs, and Trey Burton figures to open all afternoon. I’m not a fortune teller or anything, but the stars are aligning for the much-maligned Jordan Howard to have his best game of the season. He’s going to absolutely erupt for 73 yards and a touchdown. Tarik Cohen only needs to break one or two plays to pay the bills (no pun intended) for the week, and he should have ample opportunity to make it happen.
Hope For The Best: The only reason Allen Robinson isn’t a safe bet is because I see this being a clock-controlling beatdown for Chicago. Oh, and there’s the minor nuisance known as Tre’Davious White to consider as well. Much like how you’d be forced to invite every kid in class to a birthday party, so must we at least consider a Buffalo Bills player for fantasy purposes. This week, why not take a shot on Jason Croom?
Hell No: Watching Lesean McCoy struggle with every ounce of his being to total less than 20 rushing yards is a bit like watching your aging dog struggle to walk up the stairs. It’s a depressing thing to witness, but it’s time. If Kelvin Benjamin doesn’t catch a single ball for the rest of the season, at least his presence gifted us with this Booger McFarland gem last week…
Postgame Headline: “Trubisky, Bears demolish Bills 27-10”
Chiefs @ Browns
Story To Watch: Welp, that escalated quickly. The Browns front office effectively pulled off their own version of the red wedding, and all it took to finally scuttle Hue Jackson was his mere suggestion that he’d take a more active role in the playcalling. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I wish Hue made that proclamation two years ago, but the past is the past and Gregg Williams is running the show. I’m shocked there isn’t an NFLPA agreement in place to prevent Williams from holding a head coaching gig, let alone enter an NFL office again for the rest of his life. Nonetheless, we’ll see how Baker Mayfield and company respond now that things have sufficiently been shaken up. It can’t get any worse, right?
Safe Bets: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill (if healthy)
Hope For The Best: There’s a chance that David Njoku got fired mid-game to kick off the Hue/Haley housecleaning, because that’s the only explanation I can muster for his goose egg against the Steelers. Still, I’m giving “the chief” another shot against an exploitable Kansas City defense. Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and Baker Mayfield all figure to have a blowtorch lit under their asses after last week’s corporate downsizing, and Sammy Watkins will look to build off his best game of the season with another 100+ yard effort (thought it will likely be closer to 60-70 yards).
Hell No: I’ve never been a Duke Johnson Jr. guy, and for all I know he’s the mayor and very founder of Shitsville™. Despite the late touchdown last week, it’s put up or shut up time for Antonio Callaway.
Postgame Headline: “Browns look reinvigorated under Williams as they only lose by three scores to Chiefs, 37-20”
Jets @ Dolphins
Story To Watch: Let me be clear: I wish nothing but a speedy recovery for Bilal Powell, and I know that Elijah McGuire’s recovery process must have been an emotionally and physically trying experience. That said, for one more week at least, I’m positively tumescent over the fact that the New York backfield belongs solely to one man for the time being. We’ve had a few weeks off, but fear not – it’s once again time to get so fuckin’ crow
Safe Bets: There isn’t a lot to like in this matchup, but you know I’m riding or dying in the slam sedan with Isaiah Crowell. Ken Drake might finally have some value, but there’s always a risk he gets only 7 touches or something ridiculous like that. Call me crazy, but I’m giving Devante Parker a shot this week after his breakout performance against the Texans. His coach may hate him, but who cares if he’s giving you 100+ yards.
Hope For The Best: Choosing between Sam Darnold and Brock Osweiler is like playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded revolver, but Brock should at least provide some scoring chances in this one. Much like the banana stand, there’s always money in zombie Frank Gore.
Hell No: Mike Gesicki was probably more productive guzzling soco lime shots in a Penn State frat house than he has been on the football field this year (not that you were thinking of starting him anyway.)
Postgame Headline: “Brock turns back the clock, turns over the ball numerous times as Jets upset Dolphins 23-17”
Lions @ Vikings
Story to Watch: Oh ye of little faith. If you frustratingly (and justifiably) dropped Kenny Golladay after yet another invisible performance last week, you were likely overcome by a sharp bout of nausea upon reading that Golden Tate was traded to Philadelphia. While Marvin Jones Jr. figures to be the primary beneficiary of the move, there’s no doubt that Babytron is back in the fold and will be a fantasy contributor for the stretch run. Fire him the hell up
Safe Bets: Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Matt Stafford, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, Kerryon Johnson
Hope For The Best: Latavius Murray (if Cook is sidelined), Dalvin Cook (if he’s healthy). I’ve been repeatedly accosted by people for claiming that Stefon Diggs is inconsistent, and I’m going to double down on that claim by suggesting you temper your expectations for him this week. It has nothing to do with the matchup or talent level, but I strongly feel that Diggs shot his wad last week and it’ll take a couple more weeks of buildup before he unloads again. Kyle Rudolph.
Hell No: As much as I love him, you’d be nuts to use Legarrette Blount.
Postgame Headline: “Vikings escape with tight 24-23 win over spiraling Lions.”
Buccaneers @ Panthers
Safe Bets: While it might be the end of the line for my sweet prince Jameis Winston, I highly doubt Mike Evans or Desean Jackson are losing any sleep over the decision to move on from the 4th year pro. With Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly winning the game in the 2nd half last week, the Bucs have their quarterback for the rest of the season. Move Big Mike and Jaccpot wayyyy up in what should be a shootout. Cam Newton is very quietly stringing together an MVP caliber season, and he should be able to pad his stats against the porous Buccaneers defense. Christian McCaffrey should build off a solid performance last week, and man, I can see it now – the image of D.J. Moore galloping down the sideline on a 38-yard scoring strike (at least that’s what I’m telling myself.)
Hope For The Best: Things are trending upward for both Greg Olsen and OJ Howard, and they both should live in the 4-55-1 range in this game. I have a hard time trusting Devin Funchess on general principle, but there are worse WR3’s you could deploy during a heavy bye week. Peyton Barber has to be the least exciting player of all time to have such an exciting matchup.
Hell No: Ah what do you know, Ronald Jones’ opportunity came and went like a fart in the wind. He should do the fiscally responsible thing and read up on the tax code in Shitsville™, because he’s about to be a full-time resident. Jacquizz Rodgers should only be started if your league gives out a bonus for having exactly 23-31 total yards. CJ Anderson is still waiting in the wings with handcuff-only status.
Postgame Headline: “Cam casts ‘shell’, protects Panthers against all Fitzmagic attacks as Carolina wins 31-27”
Steelers @ Ravens
Safe Bets: Antonio Brown, the apparently unstoppable James Conner, John Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster
Hope For The Best: Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger (something, something Big Ben on the road…). By the time it took me to type this sentence, Al Collins fumbled again (but I’m still starting him.) It should be a decent game for Vance McDonald, and y’know what? Let’s give Hayden Hurst a shot too.
Hell No: I’m just not seeing enough from Michael Crabtree. The problem with being the Ravens goal line back is that your team needs to occasionally be on the goal line for you to be worth a damn. As such, Buck Allen can hit the bricks.
Postgame Headline: “Ravens gut out tough win over Steelers in 26-23 slugfest.”
Texans @ Broncos
Safe Bets: With his five touchdown outburst last week against the woeful Dolphins defense, Deshaun Watson is officially back on the menu for fantasy purposes. Not that you needed me to tell you to start DeAndre Hopkins, but I have a general rule that when you catch a ball with your taint, regardless if it counted or not, then you’re automatically my WR1 the following week. The Phillip Lindsay owner in my league has a running routine where he posts a picture of my wife, whose name is Lindsay, whenever he scores a touchdown. While that’s an extremely questionable schtick, there’s nothing questionable about slotting Phil into your RB2 slot this weekend. Manny Sanders should continue his surprisingly dominant season now that a certain someone is his opponent rather than his teammate this weekend…
Hope For The Best: That certain someone is of course Demaryius Thomas, who will be replacing Will Fuller’s ability to stretch the field with… making contested grabs on 5 yard buttonhooks? I’m not sure how he’ll fit in exactly with the Texans, but you can bet he’ll want to be featured against his former team. Courtland Sutton stands to benefit the most from his departure, as the rookie’s target share figures to skyrocket almost immediately. There is literally nothing exciting about Case Keenum, but he can give you 10-17 points in a bye week pinch. I get that you’re pretty excited about Lamar Miller’s explosion last week, but remember that this is Lamar Miller we’re talking about. He’ll follow that up with a patented 15-53-0 line this week if only because it’d be extremely on brand.
Hell No: I’m not overly excited about Keke Coutee’s role with Demaryius taking an extra 8 targets per game, but he’s a stash until we see how the target distribution shakes out.
Postgame Headline: “Texans’ good vibes come to an end as Sanders, Broncos pull away 26-17”
Falcons @ Redskins
Safe Bets: Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Adrian Peterson (did you think we’d be saying that in Week 9?), Tevin Coleman.
Hope For The Best: Jordan Reed, Alex Smith, Calvin Ridley
Hell No: Ito Smith, basically anyone from the faceless Redskins receiving corps
Postgame Headline: “Falcons show some backbone in 27-23 win over Skins”
Chargers @ Seahawks
Story To Watch: Back during Madden’s heyday of actually being a fun video game (circa 2004-2008), I prided myself on an offensive approach that my friends ignominiously dubbed “The slow game”. The tenets of the slow game were complex, but here are the nuts and bolts: 3 yard run on first down, 3-4 run on second down, 3-5 yard pass on 3rd down to extend the drive. Repeat this process until either your opponent commits seppuku due to boredom or you win the game 17-13, whichever happens first. Somewhat ironically, I almost always played as the Seahawks because I like their uniforms, so it’s encouraging to see that the slow game is alive and well in 2018 with its flagship franchise. Ahh, the slow game: horrendous for fantasy, incredible for pissing off your friends during way-too-serious madden games.
Safe Bets: Despite paradoxically deploying the slow game during the current air raid trend of the NFL, Russell Wilson is definitely worth a look due to his TD production. I get that 17 passing attempts in a game isn’t ideal, but what do you care if 3-4 of them land safely in the end zone? Melvin Gordon and Felipe Rios should resume their roles as fantasy superstars post-bye, and Chris Carson’s volume ensures his role as a very high end RB2
Hope For The Best: I’d be disappointed in Keenan Allen if I didn’t already know that this is who he is. Without the touchdowns, he’s essentially a possession receiver. The same goes for Doug Baldwin; we’re rubes for thinking the historically inconsistent WR was going to sudden be consistent this season. He’ll have a forgettable 5-56-0 game, with Tyler Lockett getting the glory in the end zone. Austin Ekeler strangely had one of his worst games with Melvin Gordon sidelined two weeks ago, but he’ll be back on the flex radar in this one.
Hell No: Don’t be fooled by Mike Davis’ 10+ touches last week – he’s difficult to trust while Carson draws breath. David Moore is quickly becoming a touchdown machine, but you’re banking a lot on a guy who’s only getting 4 targets on a good day.
Postgame Headline: “Chargers really ‘charger’ this one, lose 30-24 to Seahawks on late Wilson drive.”
Rams @ Saints
Safe Bets: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Bob Woods, and revenge fueled Brandin Cooks
Hope For The Best: Mark Ingram, Cooper Kupp, Tre’quan Smith
Hell No: I’m not recommending you start him, but I predict Taysom Hill makes fantasy twitter explode when he finally vultures Drew Brees with a passing touchdown this week.
Postgame Headline: “Saints deal Rams their first loss in 33-31 thriller in the dome.”
Packers @ Patriots
Safe Bets: There’s plenty to like in this marquee Sunday Night affair, so let’s get the obvious starts out of the way. This game will be a classic quarterback duel, so Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are both dialed in as top three options this week. Davante Adams should ball out in this one, and Aaron Jones should finally get the volume he deserves. Even if Sony Michel comes back from the dead in time to start the game, I still love James White in PPR formats because, well… he’s like shooting distilled PPR straight into your veins. Given that Josh Gordon lost track of time last week, it appears Julian Edelman has the upper hand in the Patriots WR corps. Speaking of Flash, both he and Rob Gronkowski really need to show some life this week. Otherwise, I unfortunately think it’s time for owners to “say something”…
Hope For The Best: Even though he overslept and/or didn’t care enough to show up to work for like the 5th time, Josh Gordon is different now! I actually don’t care about the Gordon reformation project – I just want to see the man produce again. I’ve got no issues with you starting him, but don’t be shocked if he thinks the game was supposed to be on Monday or some dumb shit like that. Jim Graham was robbed of a touchdown last week, but I think his red zone services will be required to keep pace with Brady and the pats. There’s something about Marquez Valdez-Scantling that gets me all tingly inside. If Sony Michel is active, then obviously you should get him the hell in your lineup.
Hell No: Did you know that Chris Hogan was a lacrosse player? Since Cris Colinsworth will remind us about that at least seven times Sunday night, Hogan might as well go back to his former sport to make things less confusing for the folks at home. It’s Aaron Jones time, so Jamaal Williams should end the charade and pack his bags for Shitsville™.
Postgame Headline: “Patriots pull it out against the Pack in 33-28 Sunday Night Thriller”
Titans @ Cowboys
Story To Watch: What a difference a couple of weeks can make. While the Cowboys lost in embarrassing fashion to the Redskins before their bye last week, the Dallas offense has been undeniably improved since Dak Prescott decided to abandon any preconceived notion about being a pocket quarterback. I’m not knocking his passing ability (although I have numerous times in the past… who am I kidding, he can go pound sand), but things really started to open up once Dak started to get outside the pocket and throw on the run. With the dual threat option once again keeping defenses honest, things are looking up for the previously stagnant ‘boys.
Safe Bets: With his quarterback finally running again and extending previously stalled drives, things should open up considerably for Ezekiel Elliott. Although he didn’t get to play during Halloween week, I have a feeling the grim reaper of fantasy will still be giving opponents nightmares after Monday night. Despite the gushing above, I’m a certified Dak Prescott hater. That said, the guy is looking better and those rushing yards are no joke. Smoke ‘em if you got em.
Hope For The Best: Sources reported that coaches weren’t sure Amari Cooper “loved playing the game of football anymore”, so obviously any time you can trade a 1st round pick for a guy who wants to quit his job, you gotta do it. Jokes aside, I think the change of scenery will be good for Cooper, but there’s going to be a learning curve. Cole Beasley shouldn’t see his targets dip very much, and he’s still a nice PPR option in this one. Dion Lewis is really the only guy I reasonably trust on the Tennessee offense, and even then he’s still a “hope for the best” play. Just to give you some insight into my feelings towards Marcus Mariota – back in week two, I dropped him for Nick Foles and I still think it was the right decision. Corey Davis is the Titans’ best receiving option by default, but the horrendous Tennessee offense is one situation where the phrase “volume is king” is irrelevant.
Hell No: With the holiday season officially underway, Allen Hurns should start looking into flights back home to Shitsville™ so he can visit his family. If you still have the under performing Derrick Henry on your roster, well…
Postgame Headline: “Cowboys start second half of season strong with 27-17 win over Titans”