With four teams on a bye this week (it should be more, but the Colts refused a bye after their London debacle last weekend), and with injuries piling up, it’s a bit tricky trying to field a quality fantasy team these days. I don’t know about you, but this “Questionable” tag on anyone who isn’t “Doubtful” really forces fantasy owners to be more diligent than ever, and to check right up until game time for players who are tagged that way.
Luckily for us, some teams have already ruled out otherwise impact fantasy players for this weekend, players like Eric Decker and Cam Newton, among others, so we can sit them on the bench and find other options. That’s where I come in. It’s time to decide a few Lineup Moves.
1. Paxton Lynch (vs. ATL) – Did you hear Lynch gets to start for the Broncos against Atlanta? As soon as it went down I grabbed him off the waiver wire and inserted him into my starting lineup. The Falcons have given up fantasy gold to QBs so far this season, and I see no reason for that to stop.
2. Carson Wentz (@ DET) – I know it’s a road game, but Wentz has been better than advertised. Besides, he beat the Bears on the road, and this Lions team has played just about as poorly as the Bears to this point. You can throw on the Lions, and throw he will. Wentz will light up the scoreboard.
3. Eli Manning (@ TEN) – The Titans are the definition of average. They are middle of the road in most offensive categories, and their defense is just so-so. While Manning has been off lately, I credit the defenses in forcing the issue. That isn’t the strong suit of this Titans defense, which is why I have Eli as a strong play in Tennessee.
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick (@ PIT) – Fitzpatrick has been downright miserable the past two games, turning the ball over at a really impressive rate. So this matchup against the Steelers on the road should be a bad one, right? However, Fitzpatrick’s history suggests just the opposite. Pittsburgh gave up yardage and points to Alex Smith last week in garbage time, and I can see the same here.
AVOID: Tyrod Taylor (@ LA) – The Rams have been solid on defense the past three games, but the Bills rolled to two big wins in that same time frame. Which force will be greater in this one? I think it’s the Rams, whose wins have been even more impressive because of how their defense has held up. That defense will force Taylor into ill-advised situations, and he will falter.
1. Jordan Howard (@ IND) – Remember what I told you about the Colts and their jetlagged week? They also have a patchwork defensive line that bodes well for the Bears and their running game. Howard will have a week to remember.
2. Devonta Freeman (@ DEN) – Lost in the shuffle, apparently, as the Broncos have gotten out to a 4-0 start, is the fact that their defense is giving up a lot of yards on the ground. With Tevin Coleman likely limited this week, this backfield is Freeman’s, and he should shine in what on paper might seem like a tough matchup.
3. Jeremy Hill (@ DAL) – The Bengals are using Hill as their workhorse, and while not every matchup suits his talents, I think this one does. Cincinnati will look to establish the run early and often, and Hill will find just enough holes in that Cowboys defense to have a great day on the ground.
4. James White (@ CLE) – If you haven’t heard, Tom Brady’s back, which means boost the value of all the parts to that offense. Brady likes to look to his “receiving” back when he gets outside of the pocket. Cleveland will be trying to move him off his spot, and White will be the safety net. I like both running backs for NE, but I like White better this week.
AVOID: Charles Sims (TB) – Maybe you can’t afford to sit Sims this week, but if you can I suggest you do. That’s because Sims is not Doug Martin, which should have been apparent last week. Oh, and it’s because that Carolina defense was embarrassed and manhandled last week, so they’ll be out for blood. Sims is not a quality play.
1. Michael Crabtree (vs. SD) – This may seem like chasing points (Crabtree had 3 touchdowns last week), but it’s not. It’s an acceptance that Crabtree is the number one receiver in Oakland, and that Jason Verrett is done for the season. Who else is going to be able to cover Crabtree? He’s a Top 10 play this week.
2. Jordan Matthews (@ DET) – I love Wentz, so I also love Matthews this week. He will have an opportunity for a huge day against the Lions, and he’s the most reliable wide receiver for the Eagles despite the few drops he’s had so far.
3. Sammie Coates (vs. NY JETS) – This kid is for real. The Steelers were looking for a complementary receive to Antonio Brown, and it’s looking like Coates is the answer to their questions. He’s a great red zone target too, which makes him a nice play in fantasy during a week when a lot of bigger options are on bye.
4. Randall Cobb (vs. NY GIANTS) – The Giants have not been very good against slot receivers, which is where Cobb plays a vast majority of the time. I know that it has been frustrating for Cobb owners, too, with his slow start to the season. With him we have to look at matchups, and this one is good, so get him active.
AVOID: Kenny Stills (vs. TEN) – Stills is a boom-or-bust option, so if you’ve got a strong stomach, be my guest and roll the dice with him, but if he hadn’t caught that 74-yard bomb last week his week would have been forgettable. I don’t trust Tannehill, even in this matchup, so I certainly don’t trust Stills.
1. Gary Barnidge (vs. NE) – New England likes to take the opposing team’s best player out, and right now that is Terrelle Pryor for the Browns. That makes Barnidge a bit of a dark horse. Even though his season hasn’t been the best so far, part of that is the lack of consistency. With Pryor attracting defensive attention Barnidge will have a good game.
2. Cameron Brate (@ CAR) – Austin Seferian Who? Exactly. Once the TE who must not be named headed out of town, Brate has taken off. He’s become a solid receiver for Jameis Winston, and he will need all of his weapons facing an angry, underachieving Panthers team on Monday night.
3. Zach Ertz (@ DET) – If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m all in on the Eagles passing game. Ertz is finally healthy, and he’s still available on the waiver wire in quite a few leagues. If you’re able to get your hands on him he’s got a great matchup against the Lions, and he should get at least one touchdown this week.
4. Hunter Henry (@ OAK) – Yes, Gates might be back for this one, but Henry has played well enough to warrant quite a few 2-tight end sets. At this stage I think I would rather see Henry on the field than Gates. Regardless, the elder player won’t be 100% so keep Henry active.
AVOID: Dennis Pitta (vs. WAS) – While Joe Flacco is looking his way, Pitta has by no means been a must-start. He’s more of a dartboard throw right now as the Baltimore offense tends to change from week to week. If you’re streaming tight ends he should be available on the waiver wire, but leave him there.
1. Terrance West (vs. WAS) – West took over the starting duties last week, and now that Forsett is out of town (for good?) it’s his gig this week too, since Dixon still isn’t ready to make his season debut. West has a chance to lock it down against a suspect run defense. He gets his mojo going.
2. DeAndre Washington (vs. SD) – With Latavius Murray out for this one it’s a tough choice between Washington and Richard, but my money’s on Washington to emerge as the best option in that Oakland backfield. He’s the better runner and receiver between the two, and he should get the goal line work as well.
3. Jarvis Landry (vs. TN) – The jack of all trades has been the master of none the past couple of weeks, and patience is starting to wear thin. The Dolphins need to give him the ball more, and not just in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. And I think the turnaround starts here, against a Tennessee team that is thin in the secondary.
4. Fozzy Whittaker (vs. TB) – Jonathan Stewart is out again, and Whittaker has shown he’s the better option between himself and Cameron Artis-Payne. He keeps it up here as a checkdown receiver for Derek Anderson on Monday night.
AVOID: Ryan Mathews (@ DET) – Okay, so I’m not all in on every single Eagles player. Mathews is still not 100%, and against Pittsburgh Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner had a field day. This Detroit defense is vulnerable to the run, but I don’t trust any one of these runners to have solid fantasy numbers. One might, but would you want to guess which one?