Peyton Manning is taking the week off. Only physically, we know, as his mental process hasn’t stopped in about 18 years, but still, a week off is a week off. He’ll undoubtedly come back as good as ever after that break, but his future awesomeness doesn’t do your fantasy football team a whole lot of good in week four. Heck, maybe it didn’t save you through the first three weeks, either. But that’s not the point. The point is you are without your stud fantasy quarterback and possibly a litany of other pieces to your crafty weekly fantasy puzzle.
Bye weeks are a bitch. And here one is, the first one, at that, in week four. The Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams are all resting up this week. That means at a minimum, you’re without Manning, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton at quarterback. And if you were slumming it with Drew Stanton, Austin Davis or Brian Hoyer, you’re possibly in even worse shape than we thought. At running back you’ll have to do without Beast Mode and Zac Stacy, while pass-catchers like Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas can’t help you.
It’s time for some bye week saviors. In this suddenly weekly fantasy football column (it can only start when the byes come, yo!), yours truly will find you winning replacement options to help put your fears to bed. They’re just for the one week, though, so don’t get too attached. And here we go:
Note: To qualify, bye week saviors must be available in at least 51% of fantasy football leagues. These suggested calls are for week four ONLY. Also, be sure to join our awesome FREE ROLL via BoltDraft.com. Enter passcode “breakingfootball” to gain access and win $100!
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (Available in 57% of leagues)
Eli’s older brother is on a bye week and your only other quarterback is hurt or benched? Let little bro do the heavy hauling here. Let’s get one thing straight – Eli Manning is one sad sack when it comes to fantasy football. He was abysmal all last year, already leads the league in picks again and I don’t like his face. But he’s picked his game up the past two weeks (4 TD and avg 230+ yds) so there’s real hope he can be better than awful. Throw in a Redskins pass defense that just got torched in a shootout last week, and I like Eli’s chances to make you smile on Thursday Night Football.
Believe it or not, Manning is a better play than both Alex Smith and Ryan Tannehill. Smith was solid last week, but faces the top-ranked Patriots pass defense. Tannehill has been terrible lately and while the Raiders sound good, they’ve actually been pretty nasty to opposing quarterbacks. No thanks on both accounts.
Gimme Pick: Kirk Cousins (Redskins) – If he’s still out there, he’s the obvious choice. He’s looked excellent and ‘Skins will have to throw with Giants run D being so solid.
Go For Broke Pick: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Texans) – Facing former team in the Bills so there’s the revenge factor. Then again, he’s Ryan freaking Fitzpatrick.
Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans Saints (54%)
Robinson isn’t a big catcher of passes and he hasn’t done anything to win you over yet, but he’s getting there. Mark Ingram is still dead, so that’s all that really matters when Robinson’s Saints head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Dallas has surprisingly not been brutally bad against the run yet, but Robinson ran the ball 18 times last week. He has a role and he plays for the Saints. That’s enough to force him into your Flex and cry yourself to sleep on Saturday night.
Gimme Pick: Donald Brown (Chargers) – He should be owned everywhere, but maybe you’re in one of those leagues (32%) that don’t respect roles. Everyone else in San Diego’s backfield has taken the stretcher approach to football, so it’s Brown or bust for the Bolts’ ground game. He could do nothing, but his role is mountainous, to be sure. That has to count for something – especially going up against the suicidal Jaguars.
Go For Broke Pick: James Starks (Packers) – Eddie Lacy has been fumbling like a bafoon and the only thing working in Green Bay’s rushing attack has been Starks (4+ ypc). His role is limited (no touches in week two), but he is running very well and gets a shaky Bears defense this week. He’s a definite risk, but he’s an interesting shot in the dark. If Green Bay finally gets their act together, it’s not crazy to think he runs 7-8 times for 45+ yards and a score.
Stevie Johnson, WR, San Francisco 49ers (93%)
Johnson is a very interesting play, as he’s coming off a week three outing where he was extremely involved out of the slot (nine catches). He clearly can still ball a bit, while his matchup this week against a disastrously bad Eagles pass defense has him set up for a killer week yet again. The only catch is tight end Vernon Davis’ status. Stevie got hot last week with not Vern around, so make sure Davis is out again before you deploy him. With Davis out, Stevie is a reasonable WR3 play if you need receiver help. With Davis active, he’s quite a bit shakier.
Gimme Pick: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – He’s still out there, albeit in just 11% of leagues, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to go check. Hopkins has been the best WR in Houston thus far (gasp!) and Ryan Fitzpatrick somehow knows how to get him the ball. With three straight games with 10+ fantasy points, he’s a pretty safe play against Buffalo this week.
Go For Broke Pick: Davante Adams (Packers) – He or Jarrett Boykin have to hit big for us eventually, right? Chicago has Kyle Fuller and then all of the spares in the world in their beat up makeshift secondary right now, so this is a pretty good time to take a chance on a non-household name Packers receiver. Considering Boykin is a snoozer, maybe the rook will be the one to finally do some damage. Here’s to hoping.
Owen Daniels, TE, Baltimore Ravens (62%)
Dennis Pitta’s corpse is in another land by now, so this is the Owen Daniels show. This week is largely about Steve Smith opening a can on his former team (the Panthers), while I’m not sure I actually love the idea of Daniels winning battles with Luke Kuechley. That being said, this offense uses the tight end a ton and Daniels has had a solid role even mostly as a backup through three weeks. He should at least get 4-5 targets and have a shot at a touchdown.
Gimme Pick: Delanie Walker (Titans) – If you couldn’t tell, the “gimme pick” is a guy that might be out there, or he could already be on your roster – and you should probably play him. Walker has been extremely active nd he can get some work done with this matchup (vs Colts).
Go For Broke Pick: Ladarius Green (Chargers) – He’s athletic as balls and is facing the Jaguars. He plays behind Antonio Gates, but what more do you want?
Nick Folk, K, New York Jets
Folk seems to kick 100 field goals a year because of how bad this Jets offense is once they hit the red-zone, so he’s an easy pick at home against a stingy Lions defense. I expect New York to move the ball enough to let him kick five field goals.
Gimme Pick: Matt Bryant (Falcons) – Oddly available in 41% of leagues, one of the most reliable kickers in a very potent offense is a lock for production this week. Unless Atlanta scores nothing but eight touchdowns again But hey, still eight points!
Go For Broke Pick: Caleb Sturgis (Dolphins) – This is probably where playing pure matchups gets you into trouble, but it’s the damn Raiders. If Miami can’t move the ball and get Sturgis opportunities here, when can they?
Pittsburgh Steelers DEF/ST (63%)
I know Pittsburgh is without two pass rushing linebackers (namely Ryan Shazier), but they’re well coached and they looked pretty good last week. They also are facing Mike Glennon at home. I don’t hate their chances to get the job done for you this week. The Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons are also both available quite a bit and would be solid options this week, as well.
Gimme Pick: San Diego Chargers – Blake Bortles could light a fire under the Jags this week, and then again, he might not. The Jags have been mostly dreadful through three weeks, so it’s hard not to love San Diego’s defense against them.
Go For Broke Pick: Miami Dolphins – Facing Derek Carr, this would be a pretty convenient week to use them. Oakland hasn’t been too threatening on offense so far, and it’d be weird if they suddenly were here. Miami has dealt with a ton of injuries, though, so there’s some risk involved.