Cardinals @ Bengals
Story To Watch: After watching one quarter of the Bengals’ disastrous 2019 season, I’m starting to seriously wonder if being briefly acquainted with Sean McVay is a legitimate qualification for being a head coach in the NFL. I know, it’s blasphemous to even suggest it, but perhaps a coach with a little more peach fuzz on his chin might be doing a better job than Zach Taylor? The same goes for Kliff Kingsbury, whose innovative, college-style spread offense and allegedly off-the-charts air yards metrics mask the inconvenient detail of the Cardinals being winless in September. One of these young bucks are going to pick up the first win of their careers on Sunday, and they better savor it – it might be the high point of the season.
Safe Bets: Among the litany of travesties compiled by these would-be electric offenses is the continued imprisonment of “the criminal” Joe Mixon behind the line of scrimmage. The Bengals’ offensive line has a legitimate case for being the worst in football, but Mixon has an opportunity to break out against the Cardinals. Let him ride and then sell high. Since we’re talking about the worst units in football, both Larry Fitzgerald and Tyler Boyd should be able to eat up receptions between the hash marks against these defensive backs. David Johnson is set up for his best game of the young season, so pray you’re not lined up against him.
Hope For The Best: When you throw the ball 60 times per game like Kyler Murray, you’d think a few more touchdowns would be mixed in. Still, the rookie is going against a defense that made Mason Rudolph look like a short-ranged gunslinger, so the rookie QB is set up for success in this one. The same goes for Andy Dalton, who will find a little more breathing room after getting sacked 8 times by the Steelers at Heinz field. Tyler Eifert is the mayor of Shitsville™ as far I’m concerned, but the oft-injured veteran is next in line to profit off the Cardinals’ defense, which is essentially catnip for opposing tight ends.
Hell No: It was borrowed time anyway for John Ross and his explosive start to the season, but now he can safely rehab his injured shoulder in the state of the art facilities in Shitsville™. With Christian Kirk sidelined, it’s preseason darling Andy Isabella’s time to shine. All I can say is that I wish him the best as I observe his performance on the bench.
Postgame Headline: “Cards hold on in disgusting, engaging bout with hapless Bengals, 26-24”
Buccaneers @ Saints
Safe Bets: Don’t look now, but there’s a nonzero chance that the mercurial Jameis Winston is finally all growns up. While it’s true that Jameis is never moments from disaster, he has seriously hit his groove while under Bruce Arians’ formidable wing. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are looking like the Larry Fitzgerald-Anquan Boldin WR1/WR1 combo of old, and I think this entire passing attack performs even against an underrated Saints defense. In fact, Tampa has a decent chance to take an early lead in this game and rely on the ground game to end this contest early, which is great news for everyone who has been waiting patiently for Ron Jones II’s breakout. The arrow has been trending upwards for weeks, and coming off a 19 carry performance in which his counterpart toted the rock a measly 9 times, Ron could finally step into the RB2 limelight in this one.
On the Saints’ side, I’m never in the habit of betting against Michael Thomas. That said, the painfully obvious limitations of Teddy Bridgewater are concerning for every pass catcher donning the fleur de lis. You’re never sitting Alvin Kamara, but his touchdown upside is undeniably capped with the career understudy under center.
Hope For The Best: After a September of discontent for people who invested significant draft capital into O.J. Howard, things… aren’t exactly trending upward. However, there is an outside chance Howard could break out with New Orleans’s secondary keying in on Tampa’s dynamic wideout duo. Peyton Barber is the definition of a “hope for the best” play as you need to pray for a goal line plunge.
Hell No: Not that you needed further incentive to keep Ted Bridgewater on the waiver wire (for god forbid, you’re bench), but with the way Shaq Barrett is mauling opposing signal callers this season, you’re better off jamming an ice pick through your cornea than searching for reasons to start Teddy this week. Outside of Big Mike, there isn’t a New Orleans’ receiver you can feel comfortable with. Latavius Murray is similarly unattractive until Drew Brees returns and the Saints start controlling games again.
Postgame Headline: “Saints survive divisional brawl in the bayou, 23-20”
Patriots @ Redskins
Safe Bets: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James White
Hope For The Best: Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Scary Terry, Adrian Peterson, Josh Gordon
Hell No: Seeing as the starting quarterbacks are a toss up between Dwayne Haskins and Colt McCoy, you can’t seriously consider starting any other Redskins.
Postgame Headline: “Patriots continue to defy odds, overcome adversity by slipping past Redskins 31-13.”
Bills @ Titans
Story To Watch: This is one of the least appealing fantasy matchups of the week, thanks in no small part to Josh Allen’s unnecessary heroics last week that led to his seemingly annual enrollment in the league’s concussion protocol. While the headfirst charge wasn’t overly smart, Allen wasn’t exactly doing an Einstein impression with his decision making in the pocket either, tossing three first half interceptions and losing a fumble as well. The only silver lining about this hopefully short term injury is that it will perhaps knock some sense into the sophomore quarterback. One can hope that painful blow to his cranium might rearrange some particles into some better decision making in the future, similar to when Homer Simpson had a long-embedded crayon dislodged from his brain
Safe Bets: The only player you can reasonably expect a return from in this defensive battle is the implacable Derrick Henry. He’s delivering RB1 volume and production so far, and against a Buffalo front that’s seemingly for real, the Titans will be forced to lean on their monstrous bellcow back.
Hope For The Best: 2019 has truly been an undead apocalypse for Zombie Frank Gore. Following up on his 109 yard performance against a stalwart New England defense, the Bills will once again be forced to lean on the ageless veteran with Matt Barkley running the offense. Expect another 17 carries with a chance for a goal line score. Just in time for the spooktober season, let’s talk about the most trick or treat motherfucker in fantasy football: Marcus Mariota. He is constantly teetering line between ‘face of the franchise’ and ‘organization-debilitating failure’, so you’d have to be really strapped for quarterbacks to be considering him here. Corey Davis reemerged from witness protection last week, but you’ll be hard pressed getting an encore against Buffalo.
Hell No: If you squint your eyes, A.J. Brown looks a bit Andre Johnson when physically dominating fools en route to the painted area. The rookie has tons of potential, but a miniscule target share and difficult matchup make him merely a hold for the time being. Matt Barkley – not even once. John Brown will crush this week in leagues convey a bonus for getting exactly 68 yards.
Postgame Headline: “Henry, Titans win war of attrition against shorthanded Bills, 13-10”
Falcons @ Texans
Safe Bets: In a matchup that could be rightly billed as the early season’s super bowl of underachievement, something has to give. Deshaun Watson has to live up to that lofty ADP and preseason hype and deliver the 300 yard, 4 touchdown game we’ve been waiting for. DeAndre Hopkins needs to remember his full name is “DeAndre Motherfuckin’ Hopkins” and proceed to dad dick this sorry group of Falcons defensive backs. Matt Ryan needs to continue to do just enough to lose or not enough to win, whatever happens to work out for his schedule that day. Provided that the perpetually uninspiring Ryan can keep his team in the game, Julio Jones should get back on the 100+ yard track in a game that has sneaky shootout potential.
Hope For The Best: Although Austin Hooper has been unexpectedly crushing lately, this just feels like one of those explosive Julio games to me. It’s simply a math problem at that point, and there’s only so many yards to go around after the big dog eats. That goes the same for Will Fuller V, who’s missed on a few deep shots this year but looked good in the process. I like him for 76 yards and a score in this one. Devonta Freeman, Duke Johnson, and Carlos Hyde can all fight over who can have the biggest impact this game without scoring a touchdown.
Hell No: Ito Smith is a pain in the ass for Devonta owners – no more, no less. Calvin Ridley has cooled off considerably in the last two weeks. He’s not in Shitsville per se, but it’s easier to track his target numbers from the safety of your bench.
Postgame Headline: “Watson, Texans kick it into great as they erase Falcons 33-28”
Chiefs @ Colts
Safe Bets: Unless you were denied the necessary oxygen for healthy brain development as a child, it should be painfully obvious what to do with Patrick Mahomes in prime time. That said, the guy I’m excited to watch is on the other side of the ball. Jacoby Brisett has been paying the bills for fantasy owners this season, and now he has a chance to prove his worth under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football. I like him for 260 and three scores in a game that could be a playoff preview. Of course, that incredibly premature statement is contingent upon Marlon Mack and TY Hilton actually being healthy enough to suit up. While Sammy Watkins has been quiet since his week one eruption, I think he and Travis Kelce both get back on track with a score in this one.
Hope For The Best: The Chiefs haven’t proven that they’re able to stop anyone on defense, so Eric Ebron is always game in a matchup where the scoring opportunities should be ample. If Marlon Mack is out, Nyheim Hines is an intriguing option for those looking for a bye week fill-in. Take your pick between Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson – either one is just as likely to hit the jackpot or shit the bed with 3 catches for 41 yards. With the news that Damien Williams is practicing again, people who lucked into a temporary RB2 with Lesean McCoy are likely pushing the panic button. Don’t fret, my man Richie Aprile has your new plan of attack if you own either of these timeshare tailbacks…
Hell No: All I can say about Darrell Williams is we thank you for your service, buddy. We’ll see you again the next time Shady or Dame hit the rack (AKA, the middle of the 2nd quarter on Sunday Night.)
Postgame Headline: “Chiefs survive late surge from Colts in 27-23 Sunday Night Showdown”
Jets @ Eagles
Story To Watch: Historically, I haven’t owned a lot of shares in the Philadelphia backfield because of the randomness of how Doug Pederson handles the touches. You might think you have some inside information, but come gameday, the results are typically more unpredictable than a Maury Povich DNA test. However, in what was hopefully a sea change last week, the Eagles pounded the rock with a distinctively two-pronged approach between Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Carrying the ball 27 times between them for 157 yards, Philly’s RB combo made for the nicest duo since Jadakiss and Styles P. With the way the Eagles’ thunder and lightning attack blistered the Packers, this should be the beginning of a new identity for Philly’s famously socialist ground game approach.
Safe Bets: While Carson Wentz wasn’t required too sling it much in last Thursday’s impressive win at the Lambaeu, his wet work in the red zone was enough to get the birds the win and make Wentz PFF’s #1 graded quarterback through the first four weeks. That ranking shouldn’t change against a still-hobbled Jets defense that will be gasping for air with how frequently the Eagles’ offense will be on the field. Zach Ertz is getting it done in the usage department, but it’d be nice to have a touchdown eventually, maybe? He’s the inverse of Alshon Jeffery, who cashes in at close range and doesn’t exert himself otherwise between the 20s. In any event, both should see a fair number of targets with Desean Jackson still sidelined.
I doubt anyone has the luxury of benching Le’veon Bell, but be warned: The Eagles are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground this season, good for 4th in the NFL. Bell is much more attractive in PPR formats, as the dump offs should be coming early and often.
Hope For The Best: As the eagles should be in control of this one, I’d feel comfortable sending out either Jordan Howard or Miles Sanders here. You’ll always have to monitor the usage, but both should be locks for 11+ touches, with Howard likely getting the narrow edge. The Eagles, known for having the most forgiving secondary in football, are down to just three healthy cornerbacks in this one, which is a lot like having a musket ball-maimed ankle finally amputated. Even though the Jets’ quarterback situation is one to avoid, Rob Anderson and a just-off-sabbatical Chris Herndon are worth flex looks.
Hell No: Even though his spleen could explode like an overboiled haggis, Sam Darnold is apparently considering giving it a shot this weekend. Provided that he does the right thing for his health and remains on the sideline, there are better ways to get your masochistic kicks in besides starting Luke Falk in Philadelphia. With Philly’s ground game looking like a two man show, the ageless Darren Sproles should see which assisted living facilities have vacancies in Shitsville™
Postgame Headline: “Eagles lean on ground game in 26-14 victory.”
Cowboys @ Packers
Safe Bets: Aaron Rodgers, Amari Cooper, Zeke Elliott (book him for 130+ yards and two scores)
Hope For The Best: Aaron Jones, the recently exposed Dak Prescott, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb
Hell No: Jim Graham and Jason Witten, aged titans in the twilight of their majestic careers, are merely relegated to blind squirrel::found nut status when it comes to touchdowns. It’s just a bit too random for my liking.
Postgame Headline: “Rodgers gives Dak a lesson as Packers outlast Cowboys 27-24”
Ravens @ Steelers
Safe Bets: A couple games without Lamar Jackson setting the world on fire is a couple games too many for me, personally. Fear not, because while Pittsburgh’s defense feasted on Andy Dalton last week, it will be quite a different story with the dynamic Baltimore quarterback flying around. Mark Ingram should continue to key a heavy rushing attack for the Ravens, and another 75 yards and a score is well within reason for the veteran pounder.
Hope For The Best: If you were just reading the box score from last week’s blowout of the Bengals, you were probably overjoyed that James Conner turned the corner and delivered his best game of the season. Watching the game told a different story, however. The lion’s share of Conner’s receptions came from glorified handoffs, with Jaylen Samuels preposterously running zone reads on a few of them out of the wildcat formation. This is a full blown split backfield now, but Conner’s ability in space still gives him some upside here. The short yardage, clock-controlled gameplan was largely by design, as the Steelers are apparently worried that Mason Rudolph will scratch himself if he tries to throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield. Until the Steelers are willing to take the newborn mittens off of their 2nd year quarterback, the skill players on this offense are in serious danger of being relegated to Shitsville™
Fresh off figuratively and physically suffocating Odell Beckham Jr. last weekend, Baltimore CB Marlon Humphrey will set his ravenous sights on the slumping JuJu Smith-Schuster. I doubt you have better options, but JuJu is definitely more of a flex play until Pittsburgh decides to be more vertical. For Baltimore, both Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown are even money to catch one of the two touchdowns that Lamar will serve up here.
Hell No: As long as Mark Ingram is drawing breath, you can’t trust Gus Edwards. You might be impressed by Diontae Johnson’s final stat line last week, but his touchdown came on blown coverage that your decrepit grandfather could’ve hauled in. Nick Vannett might be the only game in town while Vance Mcdonald is sidelined, but he isn’t worth a damn if the Steelers continue to run out of the wildcat.
Postgame Headline: “Jackson, Ravens right the ship with 24-16 win over rival Steelers”
Enjoy the games, and good luck out there.