Every week fantasy football owners have to make decisions on who to start, who to sit and who potentially to go pick up off the wavier wire to play. Sometimes those decisions can be tough. For help with that check out Breaking Football’s weekly rankings. In addition to that, I will be giving my weekly take on starts, sits and sleepers.
Each week I will be giving two players I like starting, two guys I would like to bench and one sleeper per position (except for D/STs, there will only be one start and sit). Now of course every week you would start Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, among others, assuming they play. This weekly article is to help fantasy owners decide on their “non-stud” players. If you have more specific questions regarding fantasy football, ask me on twitter (@MikeSports22) and as always happy hunting fantasy friends.
Drew Brees vs Tampa Bay: Over the past several seasons, Brees has been a top five fantasy quarterback and an every week starter. However, this season the Saints have focused more on the running game and with a much improved defense, Brees isn’t forced to throw all over the field to keep the Saints in games. Brees is averaging 17.2 fantasy points per game but has scored under 12 fantasy points in two of his last three games. However, this week he faces the Buccaneers who rank 26th in the league against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 18.9 fantasy points per game. Brees should have his first 20 point fantasy game, since week three, against the Buccaneers.
Alex Smith at Dallas: Last week against the Broncos, Smith had a season low 13.4 fantasy points, but most quarterbacks struggle against the Broncos defense. This week Smith gets to bounce back against the Cowboys, who rank 19th in the league against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 16.9 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, the Cowboys have allowed four opposing quarterbacks to score 18 or more fantasy points this season. Smith has four games with 25 or more fantasy points this season and has a high chance to get number five on Sunday.
Cam Newton vs Atlanta: After a hot three week stretch where Newton scored 20+ fantasy points in each game, the last two weeks have been ugly as he has scored 20 total fantasy points. Over the last two weeks Newton has just one touchdown and four turnovers. To make things worse for Newton, the Panthers traded away his number one wide receiver right at Tuesday’s trade deadline. Now Newton will be without his big catch radius number one wide receiver as he takes on a Falcons defense that gives up 15.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks; ranking 17th in the league. Furthermore, the Falcons haven’t allowed an opposing quarterback to score more than 18.5 fantasy points in any game this season. I don’t expect this to be the week Newton gets back on track.
Carson Wentz vs Denver: With the exception of Deshaun Watson, Wentz might be the most surprising fantasy quarterback this season. Wentz is averaging 21.1 fantasy points per game and has scored 21 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games. However, this week he faces his toughest task yet as the Broncos defense rolls into town. The Broncos have given up an average of only 14.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over their last four games. With six teams on a bye fantasy owners may not have a better option this week, so if you have to play Wentz temper your expectations.
Jared Goff at New York: Goff is averaging a solid 15 fantasy points per game this season and had 18.7 fantasy points against the Cardinals right before his bye last week. Goff had two weeks to prepare for the Giants, who will be without starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins this week. The Giants rank 27th in the league against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 19.1 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, over their last four games the Giants have given up an average of 22.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Aside from the two games against the Seahawks and Jaguars elite defenses, Goff is averaging 17.5 fantasy points per game. If you have Tom Brady on a bye, Goff could be your bye week savior.
Christian McCaffrey vs Atlanta: The talk that McCaffrey shouldn’t have been a top 10 pick has picked up again lately and I am sick of it. McCaffrey may be struggling as a runner but he has proved real value for the Panthers in the passing game. McCaffrey is currently RB12 in PPR scoring, averaging 6.2 catches and 13.6 fantasy points per game. The Falcons rank 27th in the league against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 26.1 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, the Falcons struggle against pass catching running backs as 14.9 of their 26.1 fantasy points given up to opposing running backs come through the air. Between McCaffrey’s pass catching ability combined with the Falcons struggles to cover pass catching running backs, that makes him a top seven running back this week.
Adrian Peterson at San Francisco: After a great performance in his first game as a Cardinal in week six, Peterson scored just 4.3 fantasy points in week seven. However, the whole team played horribly that week as Carson Palmer broke his arm. The Cardinals have had two weeks to prepare for the 49ers and adjust their gameplan around new starting quarterback Drew Stanton. Expect the Cardinals to run the ball and take pressure off Stanton. The 49ers rank 32nd in the league against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 31.7 fantasy points per game. Peterson had 26 carries in week six but only 11 in week seven, expect Peterson to get 20+ carries this week.
Frank Gore at Houston: Coming off a season-high 14.1 fantasy points last week against the Bengals, Gore was in the middle of trade rumors ahead of the trade deadline Tuesday. However, he wasn’t traded and many fantasy owners wish he had been. This week Gore takes on the Texans defense that ranks second in the league against opposing running backs, giving up just 17.6 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Marlon Mack had a career-high 14 touches last week and is the better pass catching back. With the Texans expected to lead this game from the start, look for Mack to see more snaps than Gore this week.
C.J. Anderson at Philadelphia: Over his last three games Anderson is averaging just 6.1 fantasy points per game. During that span, Devontae Booker is averaging 10.7 fantasy points per game. Overall the Broncos offense has been a mess and the team named Brock Osweiler as the starting quarterback for week nine. Furthermore, the Eagles rank sixth in the league against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 20.9 fantasy points per game. The Broncos have turned to Booker late in games thanks to his pass catching ability. Anderson has 12 catches in eight games this season while Booker has 10 catches in his last three games. Bottom-line is I have no confidence in starting any Broncos running backs, but if I have to I’d start one it would be Booker.
Ameer Abdullah at Green Bay: Abdullah hasn’t performed up to his draft selection so far this season, averaging just 9.1 fantasy points per game and failing to score nine or more fantasy points in five games this season. Furthermore, over his last three games, Abdullah is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and 5.5 fantasy points per game. However, this week Abdullah takes on a Packers defense that ranks 28th in the league against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 26.3 fantasy points per game. Abdullah is getting enough touches, 16.3 per game but has only one touchdown this season. If Abdullah can get in the end zone he should finish as a top 15 running back this week.
Dez Bryant vs Kansas City: With Ezekiel Elliot likely starting his six game suspension this week, the Cowboys will have to rely on Bryant more while Elliot is out. Bryant had a three game streak with 14+ fantasy points which was snapped last week against the Redskins. However, that had more to do with the weather and game flow. This week Bryant should get back on track versus a Chiefs defense that gives up an average of 39.6 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, ranking 31st in the league. Furthermore, the Chiefs have allowed opposing wide receivers to score 40 or more fantasy in half their games this season. Bryant will have to play well if the Cowboys will have any chance to win this game.
Tyreek Hill at Dallas: Usually when players have crazy home/road splits the player plays better at home. However, for Hill that is not the case. In four home games Hill is averaging 7.2 fantasy points per game but in four road games Hill is averaging 22.2 fantasy points per game. Hill is on the road this week and faces the Cowboys secondary that ranks 28th against opposing wide receivers, giving up 36.8 fantasy points per game. Hill has scored a touchdown in each road game this season and should be good for at least one this week as the Cowboys have given up nine touchdowns to wide receivers this season.
Alshon Jeffery vs Denver: Despite a season-low two catches, Jeffery had his second best fantasy performance of the season with 16.2 fantasy points last week against the 49ers. However, this week Jeffery faces the Broncos, who rank fourth in the league against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of just 23.6 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, over their last three games opposing wide receivers are scoring average of just 12.1 fantasy points per game. Jeffery has scored single-digit fantasy points in half of his games this season.
Sterling Shepard vs Los Angeles: Shepard hasn’t played since week five due to an ankle injury. With three weeks off, Shepard is expected to play this Sunday against the Rams. While Shepard is expected to get a high target share the rest of the season, this week he faces a tough matchup. The Rams rank seventh in the league against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of just 26.2 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, the Rams have 23 sacks on the season while the Giants offensive line has been one of the worst in the league. The Rams should get plenty of pressure on Eli Manning this week, making it hard for him to get the ball to Shepard.
Sammy Watkins at New York: The Giants season has been a mess and they are on their way to a top five draft pick in April. To make things worse, this week starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins is suspended for showing up late to the team after their bye week. For Watkins owners this is good news. Watkins has failed to score 7.5 fantasy points in five of seven games this season. However, Watkins has faced several of the leagues best cornerbacks so far this season. Even with Jenkins in the lineup, the Giants rank 16th against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of 31.3 fantasy points per game. With no Jenkins shadowing Watkins, this might be the week he explodes for a big game. In many leagues Watkins has been dropped and if fantasy owners need a wide receiver for the week, grab Watkins.
Jimmy Graham vs Washington: Over his last three games Graham is averaging 16.6 fantasy points per game and last week against the Texans, Graham scored 19.9 fantasy points in large part thanks to his two touchdowns. On the season, the Redskins have given up an average of 16.6 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, ranking 29th in the league. Furthermore, the Redskins have given up 19 or more fantasy points to opposing tight ends in three games this season. Graham is a top three play this week with so many good tight ends on a bye.
Jack Doyle at Houston: Last week against the Bengals, Doyle had season-highs across the board with 12 catches, 121 yards and 30.1 fantasy points. Over the last three games, Doyle is averaging 18.8 fantasy points per game. The Texans just gave up 19.9 fantasy points to Jimmy Graham last week and give up an average of 14.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Doyle has been the most trusted Colts pass catcher this season.
Evan Engram vs Los Angeles: In the two games since all the injuries to the Giants wide receivers, Engram has been on a fantasy hot streak, scoring 37.2 fantasy points. However, this week he faces a Rams defense that ranks fourth in the league against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of just 9.5 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, over their last two games, the Rams have held opposing tight ends to just 4.5 fantasy points per game. Engram is probably a must play this week with so many tight ends on a bye, but fantasy owners should temper their expectations.
Austin Hooper at Carolina: Hooper has been an up and down fantasy player this season. On the season Hooper has three games under three fantasy points and four with 10 or more. Last week against the Jets, Hooper had 14.7 fantasy points, but this week he faces a much tougher opponent. The Panthers rank ninth in the league against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of just 10.5 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, the Panthers have held opposing tight ends to under eight fantasy points in half their games this season. Unless Hooper can find his way into the end zone for the second straight week, he isn’t likely to reach double-digit fantasy points this week.
Vernon Davis at Seattle: A season full of injuries have only gotten worse for the Redskins. Jordan Reed injured his hamstring in the loss against the Cowboys and wasn’t able to return. If Reed isn’t expected to play this week, Davis should be considered a fantasy starter in deeper or 2 TE leagues. In the one game Reed missed this season, Davis had five catches for 58 yards, a touchdown and a season-high 16.8 fantasy points. The Seahawks give up an average of 11.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Davis is worth a look based on volume alone this week if Reed is out.
Texans vs Indianapolis: Since the loss of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus in week five, the Texans D/ST has scored negative fantasy points in two of three games. However, this week they face the Colts offense that is the most friendly at opposing D/STs. On the season, opposing D/STs are averaging a league-best 13.3 fantasy points per game when facing the Colts offense. Furthermore, over the last two weeks opposing D/STs are averaging 15.5 fantasy points against the Colts offense. With the injuries considered, the Texans D/ST is nothing more than a streaming week to week play, but the matchup makes them a top three D/ST this week.
Chiefs at Dallas: Fantasy owners shouldn’t get excited seeing the Chiefs D/ST score 18 fantasy points last week and think they are back to being a top five D/ST; they aren’t. The Broncos offense has been a mess and gave away five easy turnovers, including a pick-six. However, the Chiefs face the Cowboys this week and opposing D/STs are averaging just 3.3 fantasy points per game against the Cowboys offense; ranking sixth worst in the league. Leave the Chiefs D/ST on the wavier wire as they have a week 10 bye.
Rams at New York: Entering week eight, the Rams were the second ranked D/ST averaging 11.4 fantasy points per game, yet somehow is only owned in 52% of ESPN leagues. Over their last three games, the Rams D/ST is averaging 15.3 fantasy points per game. Meanwhile, over the Giants last three games, opposing D/STs are averaging 8.7 fantasy points per game against the Giants offense. Fantasy owners can stream D/STs against the Giants offense, especially this week with the Rams.