If you’re like me then the waiver wire has become your friend lately in an attempt to optimize your lineup. In one of my leagues I’m sitting at 4-5-1 (yes, a tie) coming into this week, which puts me in 5th place for the moment. A win will move me up to 4th place at the least, and can catapult me into 3rd if two other teams lose, which is where I want to be, somewhere higher than 5th, because only 4 teams make this league’s playoffs.
I mention this league not just for the playoff push, but because the team currently in 4th place just pulled off a shady trade that should have been vetoed by the league commissioner but wasn’t, for whatever reason. The trade: Owen Daniels (owned in 19.2% of leagues) for Julio Jones (started in 96% of leagues). Notice a disparity? And it was accepted because the team who had Jones was 2-7 and the team that had Daniels was 5-5, and pushing for the playoffs. In the words of my favorite fictional fantasy player: “Collusion!”
The reason trades like this are an abomination are simple. We should go to our fantasy playoffs based on how well we’ve played in the season, not on others trying to bolster us up to the detriment of their own team and to the detriment of the league itself. As I’ve always said, if the deal is obviously not fair to both sides then the deal shouldn’t be done. Period. Okay, rant over. It’s time for Setting Your Lineup…
QBs to PLAY
RYAN TANNEHILL vs. Dallas – No, I don’t subscribe to Tannehill as an every week option, but on the strength of his recent performances I think he’s serviceable this week against a Cowboys team that is vulnerable to the pass. With Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi keeping the line honest it opens up passing lanes, and I think Tannehill thrives in this matchup.
RUSSELL WILSON vs. San Francisco – I didn’t used to have to talk about Wilson in this space because he was a stud, but that hasn’t been the case this year in fantasy. However, he’s facing his old nemesis, somewhat reimagined, that he’s done well against, even earlier this year. Don’t expect a huge game, but if you’re choosing between him and someone like Mark Sanchez don’t hesitate to keep Wilson in your lineup.
BROCK OSWEILER @ Chicago – Denver quarterbacks haven’t appeared here either, and for good reason with Peyton Manning a shell of his former self this year. He’s been easy to bench, but Osweiler is a largely unknown commodity. Even for John Fox, who drafted him in Denver, I don’t think it will be easy to figure him out, not right away anyway. That’s good for Osweiler, and good for the Denver offense.
QB to AVOID
MATT RYAN vs. Indianapolis – I hate to say it, but Matt Ryan has become a streaming option at best, and even then it’s not a lock because he hasn’t played that well against teams he should be thrashing. That Colts defense is one that it is possible to dominate, but the emergence of Devonta Freeman has hurt Ryan’s value, and will continue to do so here.
RBs to PLAY
JEREMY LANGFORD vs. Denver – Yes, you can run on Denver lately, especially if you get enough carries, and Langford has earned the right to get a full workload in this one. He’s done yeoman’s work the past two weeks, and he will get the chance to do that again here, making the most of his opportunities. Count on him for 100 all-purpose yards and a score.
CHARCANDRICK WEST @ San Diego – I know. I know. You can throw against the Chargers, but Alex Smith likes to throw to his running back, and West has been on fire lately. The Chiefs are also all about time of possession, and the ultimate possession hog is the running back who can pick up chunks of yardage. Check, West.
LATAVIUS MURRAY @ Detroit – Murray thrives in situations when he faces poor run defenses. Detroit counts as such, so Murray should go off in this one. Even though the Oakland passing game has struggled of late, Murray is still consistent in his usage, so keep him active.
*ACE EXTRA – Go with DARREN SPROLES this week against the Tampa Bay defense. They’ve done a poor job of covering pass catching backs, and with Ryan Mathews out he should get more chances to flash his speed. And I know that Denver running game has been anemic, but with Osweiler keeping the defense honest with passing yardage and completions, RONNIE HILLMAN is a sneaky play that could pay off big time.
RB to AVOID
DARREN MCFADDEN @ Miami – He’s banged up, and I expect the Cowboys to be playing from behind in this one due to Romo rust and you’ve already heard me talk about Tannehill in this matchup. McFadden hasn’t been lights out anyway even when he’s been healthy, so don’t slot him in just because Romo’s back.
WRs to PLAY
JEREMY MACLIN @ San Diego – You can throw on the Chargers, and I expect Alex Smith to find Maclin in single-coverage more than once this game for huge plays. Count on TRAVIS KELCE (at TE) to have a revival in what should turn into a high-scoring game.
RISHARD MATTHEWS vs. Dallas – If I like Tannehill then you know I like his receivers as well. You should already have JARVIS LANDRY slotted into your WR1 slot, but Matthews is an excellent WR2 against that Dallas secondary.
STEFON DIGGS vs. Green Bay – The Packers haven’t been good at defending down the field at all lately, and Bridgewater will expose them with a few deep throws to Diggs. The glory of Diggs, though, is that he is so involved in the passing offense that he will get his catches.
WR to AVOID
SAMMY WATKINS @ New England – By now you should know that the Patriots scheme defensively to take away the number one receiving threat from the opposing team. Watkins remains that number one receiving threat when it comes to Buffalo, and they will limit his production here.
TEs to PLAY
CROCKETT GILLMORE vs. St. Louis – St. Louis can be beaten through the air, sure, but more importantly, who else can Joe Flacco lean on in another game where he has to throw it a ton? Kamar Aiken? My money is on Gillmore to go for at least 60 yards and a score.
CHARLES CLAY @ New England – Remember what I said about the schemes of the Patriots. Clay was hot early in the season but he’s cooled off lately as Watkins has begun heating up. With Watkins essentially taken out of this game, look for Taylor to find Clay early and often.
JORDAN REED @ Carolina – The Redskins will be competitive in this game. Repeat after me. The Redskins will be competitive in this game. In fact, tight ends have fared better against Carolina than any other skill group this season, and we know how much Kirk Cousins looks for his tight end.
TE to AVOID
ERIC EBRON vs. Oakland – Sure, Oakland has been pitiful against the position overall this season, but lately they’ve actually been pretty solid vs. opposing tight ends. Ebron hasn’t been lights out, and expecting a big game from him just because he’s facing this defensive unit is a reach.
FLEX to PLAY
GIOVANI BERNARD @ Arizona – Yes, yes. I saw that Monday night game, and the Bengals looked pitiful in every offensive aspect, but Bernard didn’t do a poor job so much as the rest of the offense never got going. Pass-catching backs can expose that Cardinals defense, and Bernard is one of the best in the game right now. He rights the ship here.
MIKE EVANS @ Philadelphia – You can throw on Philadelphia, and as Jameis Winston’s top option in the passing game Evans will be called upon often to move the sticks.
C.J. ANDERSON* @ Chicago – With Emmanuel Sanders out for this contest against his old coach, I can definitely see C.J. Anderson getting a lot of touches in what could be garbage time in Chicago, as well as catching more passes out of the backfield as a security blanket for Osweiler.
FLEX to AVOID
LeGARRETTE BLOUNT vs. Buffalo – I’m looking for Tom Brady to throw it a ton against the Bills just like in the first meeting, and for the Bills to continue to stack the box against the run. They believe they can force Brady into some poor decisions, tempering expectations for Blount.
K to PLAY
CHANDLER CATANZARO vs. Cincinnati
JUSTIN TUCKER vs. St. Louis
MATT BRYANT vs. Indianapolis
K to AVOID
MATT PRATER vs. Oakland
D/ST to PLAY
EAGLES vs. Tampa Bay
RAVENS vs. St. Louis
TEXANS vs. NY Jets
D/ST to AVOID
PACKERS @ Minnesota