The NFL TV ratings are down, my chances of missing the fantasy football playoffs are up, and it’s a fun time to be a pro football fan…that is, if you enjoy games where players must act like robots with no emotions. Due to the chances of a referee throwing a flag my way for acting too excited about this week’s fantasy article, I have to revise my style.
Greetings and salutations, people of the internet. Over the next few days, many brave teams will battle for mid-October showdowns that will help determine if they will play in the postseason come the start of January — not that missing the playoffs is bad, however, as effort is more important. Even the 2008 Detroit Lions are a success in our book because they showed effort and never gave up.
Today, we will look at several players you should pursue for your fantasy football team and several who you should sit, but not because they’re bad players. Well, for a couple of players, you could probably make a case they’re not too good. As much as I’d love to play politically correct robot, my job is to help you win your fantasy games by any means possible (
and yes, I am suggesting hacking into the commissioner’s profile to change the lineups when you’re losing).
QB: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles ($5,200 on DraftKings): If the Carson Wentz hype train is over for the time being, then so be it — but don’t give up on him fantasy-wise just yet because he’s sure to keep racking up points. This week, however, I’m not a huge fan of playing him against that awesome Minnesota Vikings defense that made Aaron Rodgers play like Joe Webb. I’ll admit to being down on him entering 2016, but Tennesee’s Marcus Mariota (owned in 53.7 percent of ESPN leagues and worth $6,000 on DraftKings) is quickly showing the Titans’ front management why drafting him second overall last year was the right move. He may seem a bit pricey for a quarterback on DraftKings, but would you rather start Geno Smith for $5,000? I don’t think so…
RB1: T.J Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars ($4,100): Chris Ivroy’s stock is up and Yeldon, who entered 2016 with major expectations, isn’t even averaging 3.3 yards a carry on the ground; in other words, he’s probably a sit until he reclaims the starting role or Ivroy gets hurt. Another team who has had some running back issues, the New York Giants, are attempting to solve things by using Bobby Rainey (7.6 and $3,200) as a hybrid rusher and catcher, so I’d see if you can pick him up for this weekend’s game. But, be advised: the Giants and Rams are playing a 9:30 A.M. ET game in London on Sunday, so set your lineup in advance if you plan on starting him!
RB2: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns ($4,000): How funny would it be if, in a year where the Cavaliers and potentially Indians each won their league’s championship, the Cleveland Browns finished 0-16? Even going against a struggling Cincinnati Bengals team, I wouldn’t start any of the Browns this weekend – especially not running back Isaiah Crowell, who has averaged just 1.72 yards per rush these past two weeks against the Patriots and Titans; he’ll get back on the right path soon, but him on Sunday against a Bengals team that is infuriated at their struggles is probably a mistake. I normally try to avoid cliche picks and going with the huge names everyone else is suggesting, but I would play it safe and try to land Miami’s Jay Ajayi (owned in 69.7 percent of ESPN leagues and quickly moving up, but is still just $4,500 on DraftKings). You’re not likely to see Ajayi pass 200 yards again when he takes on the Buffalo Bills, but that explosiveness could be well-needed against a Rex Ryan-led defense that’s looked much better the past month or so.
WR1: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,300): Until Ben Roethlisberger comes back, I would stay far away from Brown unless you’re either desperate or he somehow manages to form a relationship with replacement quarterback Landry Jones. With Brown sitting against the Patriots, and you knew I was going here at some point, I would look into this Cameron Meredith kid (52.6 and $4,700) who seems on the path to quickly becoming a star in Chicago. Against a struggling Green Bay Packers team that has looked unimpressive the majority of the season, I’d make sure to pick up Meredith before it’s too late so he can snag you some “easy” fantasy points.
WR2: Brandon Marshall, New York Jets ($7,600): Like with Brown, stay far away from Marshall — even after the season-ending injury to Eric Decker that the team’s official website reported yesterday — until he and Geno Smith start building a rapport. Sticking with players from that Bears-Packers game, how about giving Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery (10.2 and $3,000) a shot? After being held without a catch in the season’s first four games, Montgomery exploded for 10 catches and 98 yards in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys; with the Packers quickly nearing the point of desperation, as a loss Thursday night would put them at 3-3 behind an unbeaten Minnesota Vikings team in the NFC North, expect for Montgomery to get plenty of opportunities to shine both in the air and on the ground.
WR3: Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints ($7,500): Saints quarterback Drew Brees may be known for his home success, but he’s slightly above inconsistent at best when it comes to playing on the road. The basic thing to understand is this: when Drew Brees succeeds on the road, it’s by throwing passes to running backs and lesser-known targets, which is why you’d see guys like Devery Henderson and even Lance Moore to an extent capitalize in away games when Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham may have been relatively quiet in the box score. Cooks falls under that trope, so I’d sit him and replace him with a name not many people are talking about: Tampa Bay’s Adam Humphries (3.4 percent and $3,000 on DraftKings), who figures to get more touches after the NFL.com report yesterday that Vincent Jackson will be placed on Injured Reserve thanks to a torn ACL. At 2-3, the Bucs could get right back into Wild Card contention with a win over the San Francisco 49ers and Humphries, who had eighteen catches in the team’s first three games but one in each of the last two may be the piece Jameis Winston needs to potentially save the season.
TE: Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints ($3,800): Everything I said above for Cooks is the same for Fleener: if Drew Brees manages to play well on the road, it’ll be through passes to his running backs and lesser-known targets. He’d been quiet for a couple of games before hauling in four catches and a touchdown last week, so maybe checking in on Indianapolis’ Jack Doyle (10.7 and $2,500) could help your team out. Like the Bucs, the Colts are in desperate need of a win – and keep in mind, the Colts could potentially fall to 2-5 in the AFC South– so hey, give Doyle a chance.
Defense: Pittsburgh Steelers ($2,700): Pittsburgh’s defense is good, but would I play them against a red hot New England Patriots offense that is seeing a seemingly reborn Tom Brady and a back-to-normal Rob Gronkowski. Nope. Owned in just 6.3 percent of ESPN leagues (with a low $3,200 price on DraftKings), I’d instead give Tampa Bay’s defense a play against Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. Say what you want about Kap when it comes to protests, but last week against the Bills (in a game I admittedly said to start him for fantasy) showed he’s still working things out as a quarterback. I’m rooting for the guy to get back to his 2012-13 form, especially if the Jets can snag him cheap this offseason, but start the Bucs against him for now.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]