There are a ton of decisions to make in fantasy football this week. For the most part you need to play the studs you drafted. Yes, that meant suffering through dreadful outings by would-be elites such as Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy. But you had to play those guys, so there’s no looking back.
Moving forward, though, things can get cloudy deeper into your roster. Andre Ellington getting hurt complicates matters for some, as does the Wes Welker suspension and minor injuries to other guys. For a lot of your fantasy football lineup decisions, you can bug me on Twitter @BreakingKevin or you can use the nifty My Playbook fantasy tool. Or you can test your luck each week in my personal creation – the Fantasy Football Decision-Maker column. The “decision-maker” is just me, so calm the masses. I pick six tough decisions that a ton of people are deciding over and I make a call. If you want, you can keep score at home, but my only concern is that one call helps someone win each week.
That’s what it’s all about, right? Since you’re still here, you might as well read on:
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders vs. Shaun Hill, QB, St. Louis Rams
Carr, the rookie, versus Hill, the seasoned veteran. It’s an age old battle, but one you might actually be forced to entertain. Maybe it’s because you’re worried about Cam Newton. Maybe it’s because you’re in a crazy deep league and you failed to secure a backup quarterback. For whatever reason, you’ve hit the waiver wire and one of these guys has to rescue you (or you’re playing weekly fantasy football games). The reason doesn’t matter. You need answers.
The reality is Hill used to be a very solid backup quarterback. Unfortunately, he’s 34 years old now and hasn’t started a game since 2010. Carr is on the other side with no experience, but he has a big arm and nice athleticism on his side. He’s also facing a Jets secondary that has a shaky safety trying to play corner. If you want safe, you go Hill. If you want pure, majestic upside, Carr is your guy.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
Andre Ellington (foot) is holding out hope to play on Monday Night Football against Woodchuck’s very San Diego Chargers. Don’t count on that happening. That means the plodding mass that is Jonathan Dwyer should start and he should have a role. The problem? He’s not explosive or overly versatile and San Diego is actually solid against the run. Dwyer should also not be alone in the backfield. As spare as Stepfan Taylor is, he at least should steal touches. Woodhead also have competition in his backfield, but in PPR formats he still holds nice Flex value. Even in standard formats, he still has more upside than Dwyer, too.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints vs. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Oakland Raiders
Ingram is a draft bust that is on his last legs, which is hilarious considering the awesome summer he’s been having. It’s almost certain to crash in flames once the games count, but let’s hope for a second that he actually finally realizes his potential. Unlikely and mind-boggling at the same time, no doubt. I actually think it can happen, but with two other running backs and a ton of other weapons in the passing game, he’s going to be too TD reliant. MJD is going to be the pick here, if only because of pure role and versatility. He’s easily the call in PPR formats and he has just as good of a chance to score, despite a bad matchup with Gang Green.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
The second year breakout stud versus the rookie breakout stud. This is an interesting duel, as Hunter isn’t even technically a starter yet and really, neither is Cooks. However, Hunter faces a banged up Chiefs secondary and has crushed it all summer, while Cooks might start if Kenny Stills sits out with a quad issue. Both are very interesting options and I think both do well. However, New Orleans simply has way more weapons to compete with than Hunter does in Tennessee, so I think Hunter is both the safer pick and probably also carries more upside, as well.
Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos vs. Andre Caldwell, WR, Denver Broncos
Caldwell and Latimer both will work to replace Wes Welker in week one and over the next four weeks and both are worth rostering during that time. Only one is truly worth starting, though, and that has to be the explosive Latimer. Caldwell fared well when filling in for Welker late in 2013, but he’s not a world beater. Latimer is. Latimer may not be officially ahead of Caldwell on the depth chart, but I think he ends up doing more with his opportunities simply because he’s the better player. With both Eric Decker and Welker gone heading into the first week of the year, Denver needs to roll with the upside in a shootout versus the Colts.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers
I wasn’t a believer in Kelce last year and then he got hurt and didn’t play a down. I warmed up to him this year and then he dominated in the preseason. Notice the trend? No, things don’t always happen as I will them to, but Kelce surely has blown up in the hype department. The thing is, it’s for good reason. He is built in the Rob Gronkowski mode, as he has the size and speed to be a real terror over the middle of the field and in the red-zone. He’s not the true starter in KC, but with no Dwayne Bowe in week one (suspension), that won’t matter. Green is in the same situation, but he has Antonio Gates to contend with. I prefer Kelce this week.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots vs. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Another interesting tight end dilemma, as most fantasy owners protected the oft-injured Gronk with a quality backup they could use early in the year if need be. Gronkowski looks to be playing, but he might be limited. There is your potential “if need be”. Ertz is just one possibility you may have run into in your draft as Gronk’s second in command, and he deserves consideration in a high-octane Eagles offense. However, he’s not the true starter yet and Philly is a little unpredictable. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, too, it’s that even a Gronk at less than 100% is a Gronk worth playing. All he needs is a touchdown to make you look like a genius, to let him make you look like a genius.