A lot can happen in a week, and the panic has already set in for some fantasy owners who don’t think they’re getting solid bang for their buck, i.e. the studs are looking like duds. But don’t worry. It’s still early, and one week does not a fantasy season make. There is a tendency to freak out, especially with fantasy first-timers, to try and cut bait and look for the hot hands from week 1 to slot in and pray.
Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Grabbing and playing Tevin Coleman this week is not a productive thing to do, Devonta Freeman owners. Sitting Gary Barnidge because he stunk up the joint last week — also not recommended. Look no further than Tyrod Taylor, who couldn’t get anything going in week 1, but who just rang the fantasy bell on Thursday night against the Jets.
I’m the commissioner in a 12-team league where I lost by 3 points last week. I was a Todd Gurley 31-yard run away from winning, but of course the Rams sat their bell cow in the fourth quarter of that blowout in Santa Clara. I’m not going crazy, though, trying to figure out how to wring 3 points out of this coming matchup. In fact, I’m sticking with almost my exact same lineup as last week. They did their job and came close. Now it’s my turn to trust them once more (which means trusting Devonta Freeman once more) and see if they can’t get me over the hump.
For all of us, though, it’s that time of week once again, the time when we freak out the most, when we are finally ready to set our lineups, then we cross our fingers, our toes, and our elbows and hope they come through for us. But to help you along I offer these Lineup Moves…
1. Eli Manning (NYG) – Anyone else remember the shootout against the Saints when Eli threw 6 touchdown passes? Yeah, I remember it too. And this is pretty much the same Saints defense. More, please? Even if the Giants don’t win, this should be a barn burner.
2. Philip Rivers (SD) – That Jacksonville defense seemed a little improved last week, holding Aaron Rodgers to 199 passing yards, but they were abysmal on 3rd downs against, which is where San Diego thrives. I know it doesn’t seem right to go with Rivers when he just lost his top threat in Keenan Allen, but he makes fantasy magic. Keep him active.
3. Joe Flacco (BAL) – He’s facing Cleveland. And even though they’re divisional rivals, Flacco usually comes out for these types of games. He’s got a deep threat in Mike Wallace now, too, and that combination will come out to play on Sunday. Yes, for at least this week, Joe Flacco is elite.
4. Andy Dalton (CIN) – I know. I know. Dalton doesn’t have a great track record against Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, but the Andy Dalton of today isn’t the same Andy Dalton of even last year. He’s more poised. And if you haven’t noticed, this isn’t the same Pittsburgh defense of yesteryear either. He’s going to have a monster game.
AVOID: Brock Osweiler (HOU) – Osweiler was passable in his Houston debut, but a matchup against an opportunistic Kansas City defense is not ideal. He will be pressured a lot in this game, and the defense will step up like they did in the second half last week against San Diego.
1. T.J. Yeldon (JAC) – With Chris Ivory out again Yeldon gets another chance to shine, and I like his matchup here. San Diego just got shredded by Spencer Ware, which makes Yeldon an RB1 based on that alone. He had a fine day last week, but this one will be even better. Get him active.
2. Jeremy Langford (CHI) – The Eagles defense isn’t bad, but their run defense is, which is where the Bears can and will attack them on Monday night. Langford is clearly the top dog in Chicago, and should have a dynamic prime time adventure.
3. Giovani Bernard (CIN) – I didn’t like Jeremy Hill for several reasons coming into this season, and one of them is that he tends to disappear in tough matchups. This game against the Steelers qualifies as a tough matchup, which is why Andy Dalton will lean on Bernard in the passing game to keep Pittsburgh honest.
4. James White (NE) – Did you see the Miami defense last week in Seattle? I did too, and it was pretty darn good. We all know that the Patriots like to throw exotic looks at a good defense, like we saw last week. This seems like a James White kind of game. Garroppolo will be hurried in this one, and dumping it off to White is a great way to escape trouble.
AVOID: Justin Forsett/Terrance West (BAL) – The Ravens showed last week that they’re going to give West some work, and this game is against Cleveland, but remember what I said about Flacco above? The way to take down the Browns is through the air, and having one half of the dynamic rushing duo that is Forsett/West is not good for fantasy profit.
1. Willie Snead (NO) – Remember that shootout I predicted earlier? Willie Snead is a big red zone target, and Drew Brees will find him early and often near the goal line. That should translate into at least a score, and some good yardage.
2. Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) – With Demaryius Thomas banged up, Sanders will be the most reliable receiver on the field. I’m tempted to say he probably would have been anyway, even if Thomas was 100%. Against that atrocious Colts defense it could easily be a career day.
3. Jordan Matthews (PHI) – Carson Wentz is the real deal, and even under the lights on Monday night he will find his top receiver. It’s not like the Chicago secondary is legendary or anything, and Matthews will have room to move all night long. With Zach Ertz out the volume will increase even more for J. Matt.
4. Stefon Diggs (MIN) – It’s good all day playing receiver against the Packers, as those Jacksonville receivers showed last week. It will continue here with Mr. Diggs. Speaking of good all day, Diggs had a 100-yard day against the Titans. Chalk another one up here. Can you say streak?
AVOID: T.Y. Hilton (IND) – Honestly, it’s Denver, which generally means those incredible cornerbacks blanketing receivers. And I know Hilton has a great quarterback in Luck, but that’s going to be tough sledding against the Broncos. I just don’t trust him or any of the receivers for the Colts this week.
1. Gary Barnidge (CLE) – I told you to avoid him last week, which was some solid advice, but now that he’s got Josh McCown back at QB it changes things. He was the breakout TE of the year in part because of his connection with McCown. As long as they’re on the field together again keep Barnidge active.
2. Julius Thomas (JAC) – Remember when Thomas was a household name in fantasy? He’s been largely irrelevant since he switched zip codes from Denver, but last week he showed some signs of life, and this week he gets a date against a poor San Diego defense. It’s renaissance time.
3. Eric Ebron (DET) – I’m all in on Matthew Stafford this year in that Jim Bob Cooter offensive scheme, so I like all of his receivers too. This matchup against Tennessee is a very good one, and Ebron could well function as a safety blanket for Stafford.
4. Virgil Green (DEN) – As I said earlier, with Demaryius Thomas out Trevor Siemian will need more outlets. Since the Colts sport a poor pass defense all of the Denver receivers are viable to take the slack from Thomas. Green underwhelmed last week, but he will step up here.
AVOID: Jesse James (PIT) – It might be easy to think that James will be viable in the same way that Heath Miller was for fantasy, but I think his slight usage last week is a sign of things to come instead of an outlier. You can get better production from Clive Walford or Coby Fleener this week.
1. Danny Woodhead (SD)
2. Theo Riddick (DET)
3. Spencer Ware (KC)
4. Julian Edelman (NE)
AVOID: John Brown (ARI)