Patriots @ Bills
Story To Watch: When watching the precipitous decline of one Antonio Brown, I can’t help but be reminded of the seminal When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong skit from Chapelle’s Show. If you close your eyes, you can probably even hear the voiceover as AB’s antics were unfolding during his truncated time in Foxborough. “After a string of highly publicized kerfuffles with a previous employer, Antonio Brown was given a new lease on life and lucrative contract with the New England Patriots. He could have continued his illustrious career by avoiding threatening the children of sexual assault victims via text message, but Antonio Brown decided…to keep it real.”
Safe Bets: This won’t be the easiest game for Tom Brady, but the Patriots are still likely to win by two touchdowns because of course they are. I expect them to be throwing a bit more in a competitive contest, which is good news for the presumably healthy Julian Edelman. With Tre’Davious White likely busy on the outside, the slot machine could be in line for a banner day.
Hope For The Best: Take the numbers with a grain of salt because Edelman was sidelined, but our lord and savior Josh Gordon saw 11 targets against the Jets last weekend (by far his highest total in an offense where looks are at a premium). He’s got his work cut out for him, but 4-73-1 is well within his wheelhouse on Sunday. There’s a palpable push on fantasy twitter to add Rex Burkhead everywhere possible, with the sole reason being that Sony Michel sucks, apparently. Rex could have a flex worthy day, but I don’t see him becoming a 20 touch guy in this offense. Phillip Dorsett isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither are his opportunistic touchdowns.
Buffalo likely will be playing from behind in this one, so Josh Allen could be thrust into a gunslinger role for the first time this season. The more likely scenario is that he’ll be flushed from the pocket early and often, so I anticipate the highest rushing totals of the season for White Cam. Speaking of rushing, Zombie Frank Gore delivered last week and has a shot to do so again. With Devin Singletary likely returning from injury, Gore will have to cash in from the goal line to warrant RB2 consideration. John Brown is also worth a look in a game in which the Bills will need to some deep connections in order to compete.
Hell No: Nobody is denying the talent that Devin Singletary has, but he unfortunately has an undead veteran in front of him siphoning the lion’s share of the work. He’s a stash for now.
Postgame Headline: “Patriots survive Bills in 28-24 divisional brawl in upstate New York.”
Buccaneers @ Rams
Safe Bets: If you were one of the esteemed few with a large enough appetite for airmailed passes and inopportune turnovers to hang onto Jameis Winston until last week, go ahead and take a bow now that you reaped the rewards of his absolute crab boil of the Giants secondary. While having Jameis means you’re always a possession away from total disaster, the on-again/off again gunslinger appears to have finally settled into Bruce Arians’ system. That goes double (triple?) for Mike Evans, who rewarded loyal owners by hanging massive dong on Janoris Jenkins to the tune of 8-190-3, most of which occurred before halftime. And if you’re fortunate enough to have both against the Rams this weekend, you can rest easy Saturday night knowing that you’re working with a 45 point cushion thanks to the Buccanneers stack attack.
On the Rams side, it’s actually a little hard to feel supremely confident in any option, but Cooper Kupp appears to be emerging as the difference maker in a talented receiving corp. Both he and Brandin Cooks could be in line for big plays in what should be an entertaining shootout.
Hope For The Best: A friend of mine loves to declare whether certain teams or players “got it.” Oftentimes, this is an unprompted statement when nobody was asking for his opinion. It might go something like this: “Look, I’m sorry to say, but Carson Wentz just don’t got it.” If I could bite from that routine for a moment, I’m gonna have to say that Jared Goff doesn’t “got it” either. I could say the same of Todd Gurley, but he gets a pass because his knee cartilage is made up out of gears from an abandoned tractor in the rust belt. With other options emerging in their respective offenses, both Chris Godwin and Bob Woods are closer to WR3’s with WR2 upside.
Hell No: Although Ron Jones has looked like the most complete back in Tampa’s backfield, he’s still ceding touches to both the underwhelming Peyton Barber and upstart Dare Ogunbowale. I’d hold Ron Jones, but until he emerges, this is a shit sandwich to avoid. Speaking of which, I’m shocked that O.J. Howard tallied 66 yards last week from the putrid confines of Shitsville™. Maybe he turns things around, but you can observe that potential phenomenon with him safely on your bench.
Postgame Headline: Robotic Goff executes enough to secure 26-23 win over visiting Bucs.
Chargers @ Dolphins
Safe Bets: Given the historically awful start to the season that the fish are having, a good rule of thumb for 2019 is to start any and every player lined up opposite of the Dolphins. While it’s true that the LA Chargers invent new ways to embarrass themselves each week, even this SoCal shameful bunch isn’t exempt from this rule. That means Phil Rivers is a quality start, as his running mate Keenan Allen. While there’s no debate that he’s a surefire WR1, his 42 targets through three games makes a serious case for him being considered top three at his position going forward. Those who invested in Austin Ekeler and found themselves with a bellcow RB on the cheap are likely enjoying 3-0 starts to the season, but the return of a certain disgruntled employee means you’ll have to treat the smackdown in South Beach as Ekeler’s swan song. There’s no doubt that Ekeler will still have a serious role in LA’s offense, but Gordon’s suddenly curtailed holdout surely left Ekeler owners with the following reaction…
Hope For The Best: Last time I checked, Mel Gordon on a snap count is still Mel Gordon. The soon to be irrelevant Justin Jackson is currently hobbling around in a walking boot, so I think Gordon will see more action than the pundits are anticipating for this 2019 season debut. Also, head coach Anthony Lynn stated in no uncertain terms that Gordon is the starter, so there’s an added shot of draino that Ekeler owners can chase their cyanide pill with.
Hell No: We’ve been over this – every single Dolphin. If you’re holding any Miami player (even promising ones like DeVante Parker) instead of shipping them off to Shitsville™, then you need to take a hard look in the mirror.
Postgame Headline: “Chargers nearly Chargers it, allowing Dolphins within two scores of comeback in 29-16 road win.”
Redskins @ Giants
Story To Watch: The fact that Jay Gruden hasn’t been fired yet is a testament to just how apathetic the front office of the Washington Redskins has become (which is saying something). Between nearly causing a mutiny with veteran players and showing outright disdain for the press, Gruden is reaching a level of professional indifference not seen since smokin’ Jay Cutler graced the gridiron. Regardless, it appears the lame duck coach is here to stay for at least a little while longer, similar to a popcorn kernel stubbornly fused behind a molar. Until Washington installs a coach who actually cares if he lives or dies, Dwayne Haskins’ career will be stuck in the starting block.
Safe Bets: Since the heir apparent is still firmly planted on the pine, why not ride Case Keenum one more time? This is a Giants defense that made the perpetually embarrassing Jameis Winston look like Daunte Culpepper last week, so Keenum can provide more than serviceable numbers if you’re on the streaming tip. While he may sound like a mid-level accountant from Texas, Wayne Gallman will be thrust into a 15+ touch role in what should be a high scoring affair between dumpster fire defenses. You can’t go wrong with Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram, either, who both figure to see 8+ targets. As of this writing, Scary Terry is looking iffy to suit up. If he’s out there, though, it should be patently obvious how I feel about the boy.
Hope For The Best: Far be it from me to curtail a fantasy football circle jerk, but maybe Daniel Jones needs to show he can do this consistently before we lock him in. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason he’s being dubbed Danny Dimes (check out this one , which is decidedly not something Eli Manning can pull off anymore), I’m just not expecting weekly production like we saw in the debut. Adrian Peterson doesn’t have a lot to offer anymore, but he should have a shot to punch one in from short range. Chris Thompson will pay the bills in PPR formats. With Case Keenum potentially short his explosive rookie receiver and Jordan Reed mercifully contemplating retirement, Vernon Davis isn’t a terrible option if you’re in a pinch at tight end
Postgame Headline: “Danny Dimes legend grows as Shepard, Gallman roll Redskins 24-20”
Browns @ Ravens
Safe Bets: As the realest G in the NFL said himself, the Browns are who we thought they were. Freddie Kitchens’ disastrous play calling hasn’t helped matters, nor has Baker’s proclivity for bailing on play immediately by rolling to the right and then tossing an uncatchable pass out of bounds. Still, when times are tough, it’s nice to have an ace in the hole like Odell Beckham Jr. Despite the difficult matchup, I think the fraudulent Browns will lean on their star wideout to try to get back on track. Rather than telegraphed draw plays on 4th and 9, Nick Chubb is going to need goal line touches to have a successful day against the Ravens. You can’t turn down volume, though.
While Lamar Jackson showed us a glimpse of his mortality against the Chiefs last weekend, his rushing ability is more than enough to qualify him as an every week starter. Mark Ingram is delivering despite relatively limited volume, and I think the Ravens will lean on the ground game more than usual against a tough Browns defense. Those one-yard plunges for six are easy money.
Hope For The Best: Heading into drafts this season, picking a tight end outside of the top was a lot like browsing Tinder in your 30s: A lot of the good ones were taken a loooong time ago, and what’s leftover is likely damaged goods. Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, however, those who waited on the historically sparse position are likely in a better place thanks to guys like Mark Andrews. He’s been money in the bank to start the season, and provided that his foot doesn’t fall off, he’s locked and loaded as Lamar Jackson’s #1 option. Both Jarvis Landry and Hollywood Brown are intriguing if uninspiring dart throws in what should be a gritty matchup. I’m not suddenly expecting Baker Mayfield to become an elite quarterback against the Baltimore Ravens.
Hell No: Unless something happens to Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards isn’t catching the bus out of Shitsville™ any time soon.
Postgame Headline: “Baker Mayfield silences critics by only committing two turnovers in 26-20 loss to Ravens.”
Bengals @ Steelers
Safe Bets: What sounded like an exciting primetime affair when the schedule was released is now looking like a cruel joke to close out week 4 of the NFL. While these teams are ostensibly competing to avoid the title of “lost season”, there’s still fantasy points to be had here. JuJu Smith-Schuster simply needs the ball in his hands, and I think he’ll be targeted heavily on Monday Night. On the same token, James Conner is looking to kick the rust off and have a breakout performance, and there’s no time like the present against a spiraling Cincinnatti defense. Tyler Boyd has seen double digit targets in every game this season, and I don’t see why that would change now.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m obsessed with Joe Mixon, so it was manna from heaven to see him hit paydirt against a difficult Bills front seven last week. Still, owners who likely dropped a first round pick on the The Criminal might still be looking to cut their losses. I’m still on board, obviously, so if your buddy Stu approaches you looking to trade Mixon away out of frustration, there’s only one way to respond…
Hope For The Best: Sometimes you read or hear something that qualifies as a “day ruiner”. Accidentally overhearing your grandparents expressing their love in the back bedroom? Yea, that’s a day ruiner. Finding out, due to a clerical error, that your coworker makes $50,000 more than you do? Ha, you better believe that’s a day ruiner. It’s never a good feeling, but I’ve got one that trumps them all – try spending 25% of your FAAB budget on Mason Rudolph only to read that he was 3-15 on passes beyond the goddamn line of scrimmage against San Francisco. I’ve been wrong on some valuations in my lifetime, but Mase’s performance against the Niners legitimately caused me to look myself in the mirror and ask if I know what I’m doing. If he can’t turn it on against an atrocious Bengals defense, then it might be time to cut bait. John Ross finally cooled off after his shit-hot start to the season, and sure, there’s a chance he could connect on another bomb from the Red Rifle. You’ll have to temper your expectations against a Steelers unit that just forced five turnovers last week, though.
Hell No: Although Andy Dalton has delivered at least two touchdowns in every game this season, I can’t help but feel like he’s set up for disaster in this one. I wish I had more justification behind it, but it just doesn’t feel good!
Postgame Headline: “Steelers avoid winless September with 23-17 win over rival Bengals.”
BFG’s note: Full slate of games coming in Week 5