Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers We are just 3 weeks removed from Jared Goff’s electrifying 5 touchdown performance on Thursday night against the Vikings in week 4. It feels much longer than that, however, as he has now put up back-to-back clunker performances of QB19 and QB28. Just after I started to crown Goff on the podcast, he failed to deliver on my hype, but I am not phased! Goff will be facing a San Fran squad that, with the exception of Josh Rosen, have allowed 20 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. On average, they surrender 21.5 ppg to QBs; if Goff is to return to form, this is the spot to do it in.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears vs New England Patriots Well, well, well! Would you look at Mitchell Trubisky? He is out here making fools of all the haters on his way to back-to-back QB1 performances. After he tossed six touchdowns against a cupcake Buccs defense two weeks ago, many doubted (myself included) that he could continue his success against a stingy Miami secondary. He cashed in, however, and threw for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also adding 47 rushing yards on the ground. He continues to improve under first year head coach Matt Nagy’s spread style offense, and this week he’ll will get a New England team that has surrendered the second most touchdowns to date this year with 15! In a week that sees Rodgers, Wilson, AND Big Ben all on bye, you can feel comfortable with both Trubisky’s recent production and his current matchup.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Well Baker-Mania came and went, and now the rookie’s magic over the last few weeks has begun to wear off. Over his last two starts Baker has yet to crack the top 15 for weekly QB performances, even falling outside the top 20 at the position against Baltimore. He is poised for some better production this week as the Brownies head to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers and their bottom of the barrell pass defense. If you read this column every week then you understand I urge the Whisper Nation to target the Buccaneers defense. In 2018, Tampa has surrendered the second most yards to opposing QBs, the most touchdowns to enemy signal callers, and they have only forced one (not a typo) interception! You will not see a better time to start Baker Mayfield in fantasy this season than this week right here.
Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Many times when a team is bad on defense, especially in one concentrated area as the Buccaneers are against the pass, it is safe to assume defenses will funnel to that weakness, therefore causing other facets of opposing offenses to not have as strong of numbers. That is not the case with Tampa. While the Buccs surrender the most points per game to the QB with 28.1 they also surrender the 7th most to running backs with 28.7! Listen, I get it, Hyde has vastly disappointed you over the last two weeks, failing to crack 75 yards or score since week 4 but this is not the matchup to Hyde from…..get it?
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins When we last saw Johnson before the Lions’ bye he was getting two separate touchdowns vultured by the NFL running back equivalent to a twinkie….LeGarrette Blount. For the life of me, I cannot fathom how head coach Matt Patricia watches film of these two backs and comes to the conclusion that Blount deserves a share of this backfield. In their week 5 contest against the Packers not only did Blount snag those red zone looks, but he equalled Kerryon in carries with 12. The difference? Kerryon gained 70 yards and Blount only 22. Kerryon did leave this game briefly with an ankle injury but after the bye week he has told reporters he is good to go. I know its hard to trust HC Patricia here, but roll Johnson out with confidence against a Miami squad that has surrendered the third most points per game on average to the running back position at 31.3.
Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins vs Detroit Lions Much like twinkies and LeGarrette Blount, Frank Gore would survive a nuclear holocaust and probably rush for about 50 yards while doing so. Much to the chagrin of Kenyan Drake truthers, Gore signed a deal to go play for his hometown and he has not disappointed the Miami faithful this year. He is averaging a respectable 4.9 yards per carry, and has gained 205 yards over the last 3 weeks. Additionally he has seen is carry totals increase every week going from 11 to 12 to 15. Dare I say it? Frank Gore is heating up! Just in time for a juicy matchup, too, as the Lions surrender the second most yards on average with 142.4 yards per game. He seems to be the one in the one-two punch the Dolphins are using at RB lately, and should be primed for some nice production against the Lions
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers I won’t waste a lot of your time here: Start Jarvis Landry. The Buccs are bad. See above. Jarvis is a talented wide receiver and I am sure you have your doubts after he has been lackluster the past two weeks but you have to start him here the Buccs have been torched by every single WR1 they have faced.
John Brown, Baltimore Ravens vs New Orleans Saints John Brown was a preseason hype darling of the fantasy football community and he delivered over the first four weeks of this year with 4 touchdowns on 338 receiving yards. Over the first five weeks he was being targeted just under 9 times a game on average but in a weird game last week against the Titans Brown massively underperformed with only 2 catches on 3 targets for 28 yards. After that game, I can imagine how stressed those with Brown on their roster are but I am here to ease that pain. First of all Brown is the perfect wide receiver for Joe Flacco as an elite deep ball specialist he is averaging 20.2 yards per reception on 21 catches so far this year. Second and most importantly the Sains are the second worst team when facing WRs who are targeted on throws 15 or more yards down the field and prior to the bye had their young star cornerback Marshon Lattimore leave the game with a concussion. Your final vote of confidence for Brown is the fact that even with their bye, the Saints have given up the 4th most yards to enemy wide receivers with 1,147.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets A lot of what makes a successful fantasy season is surviving the ebbs and flows of production and picking matchups and spots to start your guys in. You are looking to capitalize weekly on what is most likely to happen. Last week against a very underrated Cardinals secondary Diggs did not perform up to snuff, catching only 3 balls for 33 yards. He saw his lowest target count of the season with only 5. The panic and recent play of the Jets defense could maybe cause the casual fantasy GM to pull Diggs out of their starting lineup this week. Take your finger off the mouse and back away from your computer, slowly! The Jets have surprisingly been very generous to opposing wide receivers, giving up the 3rd most receiving yards and a total of 7 touchdowns to the position. Diggs is in a much more favorable spot than it may appear at first glance and you should be ready to deploy him in your lineup.
Evan Engram, New York Giants at the Atlanta Falcons The return of Evan Engram cannot come soon enough, both for fantasy owners and for Eli Manning! The Giants can’t seem to get anything on offense, outside of Saquon Barkley’s sheer will, talent, and magic. Prior to his injury Engram was averaging 6 targets and was a legit safety net for Eli who, behind that line, does not seem to have the time to allow routes to develop down field. He should slide right back into favorable looks from Eli as well as a pristine matchup on his plate against the Atlanta Falcons. The dirty birds have given up 13 points per game on average to the TE position this year as well as the 4th most touchdowns with 3. Engram should receive a nice welcome back party against a soft Falcons defense.
C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs A few things we do know this year: the Chiefs defense is very attackable, their offense will force you to throw to keep up, and Andy Dalton has targeted his tight ends on 18% of his pass attempts this year. We also know that Dalton’s starting tight end Tyler Eifert has been placed on IR and in his first game as the starter C.J. Uzomah saw a healthy 7 times catching 6 of them for 54 yards. I know these numbers don’t blow you away but for tight ends 7 targets means he has his quarterback’s trust and has fully taken over the Eifert role in this offense. To make matters even better, Uzomah lines up against a Chiefs defense that has allowed the 3rd most targets to and the most receiving yards to tight ends this season.
Chris Herndon, New York Jets vs Minnesota Vikings Who? Yeah I know, this is wild! I mean on the year this dude only has 9 targets and 7 receptions. But he did score last week and the Jets wide receiving corps has a chance to be down three starters! With Jimmy Graham, Vance McDonald, Jared Cook, and Jesse James all on bye, I don’t hate a “hail mary” play of Herndon here especially when you consider the Vikings have given up the 4th most yards, the 6th most receptions, and 6th most red zone touches to the the TE position this year.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars The case against Watson this week is quite simple, in my opinion. It is built on the foundation of strengths versus weaknesses. The strength of Jacksonville’s defense lies in its pass rush and secondary. The Jaguars even after giving up back to back solid fantasy performances to Pat Mahomes and Dak Prescott, have allowed the league’s fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns in the NFL this year. Admittedly they have shown cracks in their armour as of late but the Texans offensive line is allowing a NFL second worst 25 sacks on the year. That is an average of 4 per game to be fair to the Jags their defensive letdowns have been on the road and they will be at home this Sunday. If you can stream a quarterback with a plus matchup it would be wise to do so here.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints vs Baltimore Ravens Part of my preseason fear for Drew Brees and his fantasy outlook was the success of the Saints run game and how taking the load off of mostly his shoulders would mean much like last year a dip in his monster fantasy performances. A fair amount of this narrative however was banking on the step forward for a Saints defense that would slow the game down and give more balance to their game scripts. The defense if anything, took a step back and Brees has started the year on a tear. He is fresh off a bye and fantasy owners will want to roll him right back out there giddy with excitement. This is ill advised as Brees is facing the Ravens this week who are fantasy’s worst matchup for opposing quarterbacks this year allowing a suffocating 11.8 points per game to the position. With how deep the position is, you can and should look to other options this week as gross as it may feel to bench the future hall of famer.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills I am aware the risk I am taking with all these big names in my “Stay Away” section especially with Brees and Luck coming off of really good performances over the last few weeks. I will say this, though, being successful in fantasy is about not being comfortable and being fluid in your decision making process. Luck has the rare combo of no running game to assist him as well as a terrible defense that allows him to chuck the ball a league leading 288 times so far this season. The problem is that few teams have been better against starting quarterbacks this season than the Bills. In fact, only two teams are considered worse matchups against quarterbacks as the Bills are only allowing 13.5 points to the QB this year. It may be tough for you to bench Luck with your league mates covering for their bye week quarterbacks but I suggest you consider benching him this week.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints vs Baltimore Ravens With a lot of the attention placed on Joe Flacco and his new weapons, the Ravens defense may have slipped under your radar but they are dominating in all facets of the game and that is not limited to opposing running backs. The Ravens allows on average the least amount of yards to enemy backfields at 85.5. That is not very many yards for the Saints backfield to split up between Kamara and Ingram. When you also figure in the fact that the Ravens have only allowed one running back TD on the season you realize not only yards but touchdowns will be hard to come by for the Saints backs. I am fading Ingram if I can get away with it this week.
Lamar Miller, Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars Miller battled back from his chest injury that saw him miss a game the week before last to post 46 rushing yards and 25 receiving yards on 17 total touches. This was a similar touch count and outcome to his efforts prior to the injury this year and it may cause some excitement for those with Miller on their roster. The opportunity and workload were a sight for sore eyes but expectations should be met with an understanding of the Jaguars defense. The Jags have been stingy against enemy backs surrendering only 18 points on the year which is good enough for 6th best. You should consider a back up plan to Miller who’s 3.7 yards per carry this season may not be enough to get the job done on Sunday.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles vs Carolina Panthers Smallwood is coming off his season high snap count of 44 against the Giants last Thursday. He also out carried Corey Clement 18 to 11 in that contest which left some pundits scratching their heads in an effort to project this backfield. Given head coach Doug Pederson’s propensity to ease his players back from their injuries, I think it is safe to say that this backfield will remain a committee and Clement will slowly siphon off more and more carries from Smallwood. With that being said, I am avoiding Clement this week against a Carolina squad that has only given up two whole touchdowns to running backs this year.
Will Fuller, Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars Are you sensing a theme here? I am not loving the matchup for the Houston Texans offense this week. In fact, I am hating it. That includes Will Fuller who has now gone back to back games without a touchdown and in those contests has failed to gain more than 33 yards. His targets have dropped drastically over the last four games from 11 to 5 to 3 to 3. This is not a great sign for Fuller especially against Jacksonville who has only allowed 4 touchdowns to wide receivers all year, only the Arizona Cardinals have allowed fewer.
Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Cole Beasley was a hot waiver wire pickup this week after he garnered 11 targets, catching 9 of them for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns against the aforementioned stingy Jaguars. Was this a flash in the pan? The fact that it was against Jacksonville justified his consideration for a waiver stash, but this is a performance I will need to see an encore of before I chase the points with Beasley. The encouraging part of Beasley’s performance and the lack of weapons around him in Dallas was his target share. 11 targets is nothing to scoff at but now the Cowboys are set to travel to the nation’s capital to play the Redskins who allow the second fewest targets and the third fewest yards to opposing wide receivers. You should be patient with Cole if you picked up him, don’t trust him just yet.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons In the 4 games without Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard averaged just under 8 targets per game, just about 67 yards per game, and scored 2 touchdowns. These are respectable numbers, especially in a very volatile offense such as the Giants. The problem is not the matchup for Shepard as repeat listeners of the podcast, readers of this article, and NFL fans with eyeballs know all too well: the Falcons defense is atrocious especially against the pass. My concern is the two games with Engram in the offense, Shepard only gained 48 and 24 yards respectively. He is likely to work his way down the list of options for Eli, who has been hard to trust regardless.
Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers vs Tennessee Titans With the likes of Jimmy Graham and Jared Cook on bye, you may be looking to for a one week fill in at tight end. Well in the case of Gates, look away! Gates saw his lowest snap total of the season against the Browns last week with only SIXTEEN! He looks overweight, slow, and easily the 5th best option on this team and that is being generous. The Titans also allow the league’s 3rd worst points per game to the tight end this year with 8.4.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles This one may be tough for you to do, given how bad the tight end position has been this year but I absolutely do not want any part of Greg Olsen this week against the Eagles. He miraculously made his way back, ahead of schedule, from his foot injury to post a respectable day of 7 targets, 4 catches for 48 yards. Respectable in the fact that he didn’t get hurt again and all tight ends suck this year! Olsen now looks across the field this week at a Philly defense that has surrendered the 4th least yards, the 6th least amount of touchdowns, and second fewest average points per game to the tight end position this year. I hope he can make it through this game healthy as he will have better days ahead, but I think it’s going to be a long day for him in Philadelphia this Sunday.