Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers It may be redundant to tell you to start Matt Ryan, but after last week’s QB19 finish, some owner’s confidence may be tested. Ryan was even spotted on the injury report with a foot issue which was later shot down as precautionary. This, however, is not the week to bench Matt Ryan as he faces a very soft Tampa squad that has allowed an average of 24.2 points per game to opposing quarterbacks this year. You will want a piece of all startable weapons in this potential shootout in ATL, starting with Matt Ryan!
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Like a broken record, I have repeatedly advised you to target the Falcons secondary and for good reason! The Falcons have given up four straight top 10 finishes to Fantasy QB opponents including the #1 overall finish to Drew Brees in week 3. Enter Jameis Winston who has been given back the keys to the offense for Tampa that boasts a stacked receiving corps of Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Adam Humphries. Even with the injury to O.J. Howard, Buccs shouldn’t lose a step as Cameron Brate is a competent fill-in. The Buccs lack of depth in their own secondary and lackluster run game will cause them to lean on their own strength throwing the ball. All of this has Winston primed to do damage after an extra week of preparation during Tampa’s BYE.
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins If you have Jordan Howard on your roster (or you spent an entire offseason as the conductor of the Jordan Howard HYPE TRAIN like me) then it has been a long two weeks. The week prior to last week’s BYE, the Chicago Bears gave an old fashion beat down to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game in which Mitch Trubisky threw for SIX touchdowns! You would assume that in a game with the Bears dominating and scoring at will, Jordan Howard would have had a strong Fantasy day….FALSE! He ran the ball 11 times for 25 yards and did not catch a single pass. Those with Howard on their roster were frustrated with HC Matt Nagy’s use of Jo Ho here and have been in an anxiety riddled state as he returns from BYE. How will he be used going forward? Will Cohen siphon off more looks? While I cannot answer these questions 100%, what I will say is the Bears offense looks to be game-flow dependent and scheme their play calling to each opponent week to week. I believe this sets up really nicely for Howard this week, as Miami boasts a particularly strong secondary led by Xavien Howard and rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick. Furthermore, Miami has been responsible for letting up the third most points per game to the backfield on average. That is a whopping 31.4 ppg to the position. If Howard doesn’t get it done in this spot, panic could ensue and rightfully so!
Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets vs Indianapolis Colts One of Fantasy Football’s biggest enigmas this year has been Jets running back and the #8 overall at the position, Isaiah Crowell. It seems like every other week this guy is going off and you just can’t get a handle on when it is ok to start him or Bilal Powell or maybe both. I went back, looked at the tape, dived into how each of these games have played out, and It looks to me as if the best predictor for Crowell’s value week to week is if the Jets can stay relevant against their opponents. In the case of last week against Denver and the MNF opener against the Lions, the Jets were the aggressors, pouring it on their opponent and imposing their will on defense. Ideally, New York would deploy this type of game plan every week; however, when playing superior elite NFL teams, like Jacksonville, they are forced out of the game plan and Crow suffers. Vegas has the Jets favored in this game; this especially encouraging for Crow’s prospects, especially when you consider the Colts have allowed the 7th most points to the position on average this year. Now, Crow’s status will need to be monitored as he hasn’t yet hit the practice field, but in his absence you can sub in Bilal Powell confidently in his place given the aforementioned matchup.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers The better part of this past month has been really good to Mohamed Sanu and those managers who have picked him up and trusted him in their lineups. Sanu has 3 straight games of 7 or more targets and has cleared 100 yards or scored a touchdown in each of those games. His status needs to be monitored as he enters this week with a hip injury, but the Buccaneers are not a team poised to stop Sanu’s torrid streak down in HOTlanta. The Buccaneers are the best team to target your wide receivers against as they lead the league in fantasy points scored against them by the WR position at an eye-popping 48.9!
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs Chances are that if you have Julian Edelman on your roster then you have some other options at WR. It is possible that after a pedestrian performance last week that saw him only rack up 57 yards on 7 catches, you are considering your options this week. In his first game back since the 2016 season, he seemed to be shaking off rust last week as he had a very bad uncharacteristic drop. With that game under his belt and this absolute gem of a matchup, I wouldn’t advise fading Jules this week. The Chiefs are the 4th worst team against WR so far this year and just got picked apart by Blake Bortles, who targeted his slot receiver Keelan Cole 10 times for 70 yards. Had Bortles been a bit more sharp, Cole would have had a monster day as he only caught 4 of those 10 targets. Edelman is poised to bounce back from his slow return game against this generous KC secondary.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Similar to last week’s Steelers/Falcons game, The Fantasy Whisperers will spend a lot of time convincing the Whisper Nation to load up on pieces of the Falcons/Buccaneers game as it boasts an over/under of 57.5. That is just a half point shy of the game last week, and this game should continue to be fortuitous for pass catchers. Hopper was heavily involved last week for Atlanta, catching 9 of 12 targets for 77 yards. He seems to be warming up as a substantial piece of one of the better offenses in the NFL. Additionally, Tampa Bay has been terrible against opposing Tight Ends, allowing on average 20.1 PPG to the position!
Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Just as the Steelers began ramping up McDonald and exciting Fantasy owners who had invested in him, the rug was pulled out from underneath them last week. In a choice matchup against the really bad Atlanta defense, Vance was targeted only twice. He caught one of those targets for 6 yards. SIX YARDS! The tight end position has been extremely gross this year and Vance’s performance was no exception. You are likely staying with Vance at this position as it has tons of question marks every week. I am here to give you my seal of approval on McDonald this week! He should be used more in a divisional matchup against an opponent that is allowing 14.7 points per game to the position on average.
Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins As a Packers fan, I find it very easy to hate the Bears and dislike a lot of their players. I am urging you to move away from Trubisky as a streamer or a point-chasing option, not because of my fan bias, but because his matchup against the Dolphins is actually worse than it looks at first glance. The Dolphins defense has been quite underrated this year, and a matchup with a pissed off Tom Brady at home two weeks ago is not helping their otherwise sterling record. But even in that beatdown, the ‘Phins picked off Brady twice, and he only finished as QB14 in most scoring formats. That is the highest finish they have allowed! This is due in part to their young and emerging secondary led by Xavien Howard who is quietly becoming the NFL’s next lockdown corner. Trubisky is likely the breath of fresh air the Bears have longed for at the QB position, but Fantasy owners may want to hold their breath on him this week.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders vs Seattle Seahawks With both Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford on BYE this week, Fantasy managers may be out scouring the waiver wire for a fill in this week. The narrative coming from Seattle this year has been that the Seattle secondary or “Legion of Boom” has become the “Legion of Whom?” as in who are these guys? While it is apparent that the Seahawks aren’t the elite secondary they once were, they have not been terrible either. On average, Seattle has only allowed quarterbacks to score 13.4 points against them. Maybe this is in part due to their inability to stop the run, especially in the red zone. Nevertheless, if you are targeting Derek Carr, I would advise trying another player instead. Carr not only faces this tough matchup on paper, he has only one game out of five with more than a single TD.
Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans Honestly, check on your league mates who have Collins on their roster; make sure they are ok. Let them know you love them. You never know what someone is going through. If you have had Collins you are well aware of the Ravens apparent disdain for his fumbling issues. Collins and his owners just watched as Buck Allen, who is averaging just 2.8 YPC this year, out snapped Collins 50-27 just last week. This is even after Allen had a fumble himself. There are some massive games being played in Baltimore, and it is making it extremely hard to trust anyone in this backfield. Even if there was more clarity here, the matchup itself is not inviting at all. The Titans are one of only 3 teams to not surrender a rushing TD this year and only allow the 25th most points per game to running backs.
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins vs Chicago Bears If there is a matchup worse than the Titans this year, it is the Chicago Bears. They have allowed only 51 rushing yards on average and no rushing touchdowns. Khalil Mack has turned this already good defense into a stout defensive front that is incredibly unforgiving on opposing run games. This does not present an ideal opportunity for Kenyan Drake, who finally produced a solid fantasy performance last week byscoring 18 points in most standard formats. A closer look at his production and usage, however, show that he was still out carried by Frank Gore 12 to 6. That makes it three straight weeks of being used less than Gore in the run game. He relied heavily on out-of-the-normal usage in last week’s contest as he saw 11 targets, catching 7 of them. I would love to say that his usage (at least in the passing game) was sustainable, but I don’t think it can be trusted as Miami has not seen one consistent playmaker on offense garner typical #1 attention. Drake owners need to proceed with caution, especially in this daunting matchup.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Alshon has had quite the ride as an Eagle so far, he managed to play all year last year, win a Super Bowl, and he has successfully returned from a rotator cuff injury. He scored a touchdown in his first outing and has 144 yards over the last two weeks. Temper your expectations and look at starting a stronger option this week as Alshon will be locked up against Janoris Jenkins and a Giants secondary that is in the bottom 5 for points allowed to opposing WRs. Another warning sign is that this is a divisional game on a short week, and Vegas has the over/under at a modest 44.
DeDe Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys Although, the majority of the attention will be on Jacksonville’s elite secondary, the Dallas Cowboys are quietly having a strong year in their own secondary. They have only allowed two receivers to eclipse 100 yards and they are allowing 33.4 points per game, putting them as a bottom 5 matchup for WRs this year. This game has a defensive/running game feel to it and for that reason I would be fading the Jags receivers but especially Westbrook who has only scored one TD this year and racked up only 55 yards last week in a plus matchup against Kansas City.
Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets Normally the Stay Away portion of this article is me telling you that you can feel comfortable benching this player due to matchup, recent performance, etc. Because the tight end position has been a wasteland and Ebron has been a huge part of his offense, you likely cannot and should not bench him; I just wanted to highlight him here as a player to temper expectations on. The Jets have absolutely smothered opposing tight ends this year, only allowing an average of 7.5 points. They have been the best unit in the NFL defending the position.
Trey Burton, Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins Similar to Ebron, you may not have a better option, but you are likely more willing to bench Burton in this spot. Sure, the Miami Dolphins have done a great job defending the tight end position, but maybe even more concerning has been Burton’s usage in this offense. Last week, as Trubisky torched the Buccs, Burton caught only 2 passes! Yes, he scored, but Burton is not seeing the usage we expected in Chicago as he has yet to get more than 4 catches in any contest this year.