We’re almost midway through the NFL season, and the last two weeks have brought a slew of injuries to fantasy teams everywhere. With this being a big BYE week (Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore and Houston) who can you use to fill in for your missing guys?
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Ladies and Gentlemen Rob Gronkowski is finally back, and for you owners who stuck with him for all these weeks you definitely appreciated how he performed last Sunday. Expect some progression this week and even more looks from Brady. The Dolphins have a solid run defense so the Pats will want to pass more. Unfortunately Tom Brady has looked very average so far and his WRs can’t be blamed for all of his overthrown passes. It’s hard to advise benching him, but he definitely isn’t the top-5 play he used to be. For the Dolphins I’d be wary of Mike Wallace since Aqib Talib should be back. I like Brian Hartline as a Flex and Brandon Gibson is the Sleeper Special as he seems to be getting more chemistry with Ryan Tannehill as the weeks go by.
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
Last week wasn’t too good for Thad Lewis and I don’t imagine this week being any better. The Bills will run heavy especially factoring in the Saints’ issues against the running game. With CJ Spiller doubtful, Fred Jackson is a top play and Tashard Choice gets the Sleeper Special tag as I doubt Jackson will get a full workload alone. For the Saints we don’t know how much Jimmy Graham will be used, but if he is a go, you’re starting him. Darren Sproles and Drew Brees are every week starters, and I’m hoping Marques Colston finally has a good game. I can’t place him any higher than a Flex, but he’s too good to have this much of a drought in this high powered offense. Feel free to roll with the Saints defense as well. Rob Ryan loves applying pressure and I think they can rattle the sophomore QB.
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
Both teams have questionable defenses so the start on both offenses should have good days. In my eyes Terrance Williams is much more valuable to have than Miles Austin, and I wouldn’t blame you for dropping the latter from your teams. He isn’t healthy and he isn’t doing much on the field. Reggie Bush skipped practice, but he claims it was precautionary, which isn’t out of the ordinary for the Lions to do (see Megatron). I think Bush will play, but you may want to pick up Joique Bell as insurance just in case. Both QBs should have great games and I expect a lot from the two stud WRs. DeMarco Murray is questionable, but I think he plays, and I honestly believe this guy is a top-10 RB (when the Cowboys actually decide to run the ball).
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
If you haven’t been benching Dwayne Bowe you’ll definitely want to this week. Alex Smith is allergic to throwing far, and with Joe Haden covering Bowe I doubt Smith even looks Bowe’s way. Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs defense are the only quality plays for that team, but Donnie Avery could have a nice Flex day with the attention away from him. Josh Gordon is a starter in my book, and hopefully Jason Campbell can get him the ball. I like Campbell as a QB, but it sucks that his first game back is against one of the top defenses in the league. Sleeper Special here is the Chiefs defense. Yes I expect Jamaal Charles to score, but I’m not expecting much from anyone else. I think this’ll be a low scoring game.
NY Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Another battle between two horrible defenses here. Eli Manning has pretty much been a joke all season, but against the Eagles three weeks ago he put up 334 yards and 2 TDs (with 3 INTs). I say he’s start worthy this week, but hopefully you have better options. Victor Cruz has been in a slump, but hopefully he gets back to his normal self. Reuben Randle has been the most valuable player on the Giants lately and with Nicks being unreliable, Randle is in line for another good week. Sleeper Special is Peyton Hillis, because the Giants literally have no one else to go to other than rookie RB Michael Cox. For the Eagles you know the drill: Vick, DeSean, and LeSean. Even if Vick doesn’t make it past halftime he’ll probably net you better numbers than Eli.
San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars
*Ahem* Kaepernick, Boldin, Davis, Gore, 49ers DST. Cecil Shorts sure, Justin Blackmon why not, MJD bench. Sleeper Special Mike Brown, whatever. Yep, this is how I feel about ranking games involving the Jags, waste of time.
NY Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
The two teams to beat the New England Patriots this season face off in what I expect to be a defensive battle. That being said, I think both defenses are worth playing here and I’m skeptical of both QBs. Both Geno and Dalton are coming off good weeks, as did their main WRs, but both are facing better defenses on Sunday. You’re starting AJ Green regardless, and Jeremy Kerley is a solid Flex play. Chris Ivory’s 34 carries stunned me, and I highly doubt the Jets run the ball 52 times this game. For the RBs in this game I rank them Bernard > Ivory > Law Firm, and I’d sit Powell. Powell only had 3 carries out of the 52 last week and he’s healthy, which to me means that Rex Ryan just isn’t using him in favor of Ivory. Sleeper Special is Marvin Jones, who has put up two consecutive good weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders
Antonio Brown had a quiet week, but he’s still the top WR on the Steelers and is a WR1 in PPR leagues. Heath Miller wasn’t too involved last week, but the TD was nice and he should have a better game against the Raiders. Last game the Raiders played Terrelle Pryor finished with more rushing yards than Darren McFadden and I won’t be surprised if I see that again this week. For the Raiders I’m starting Pryor and Denarius Moore at WR2, with McFadden at RB2 at most. Raiders actually aren’t too bad on defense and have done well against the run, so Le’Veon Bell is a borderline RB2 for me. Sleeper Special is the Steelers defense. Pryor is good, but I think the Steelers will be able to generate some turnovers.
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos
RG3 looked great last week and hopefully that carries over as he faces possibly the worst defense in the league. Pierre Garcon has taken a back seat to Jordan Reed the past two weeks, but I think Garcon gets back on track Sunday. Reed is coming into a top-10 TE and if you picked him up this week you’re probably starting him. Roy Helu’s 3 TDs are not too fluky as he’s getting the third down and goal line carries, so a Flex designation for him isn’t out of the question. I will say I still think Alfred Morris is a top RB and this week will serve as a good indication for where he stands in this offense. The Broncos WR wheel spins as another week moves along, but regardless of who it lands on all 3 guys are starts. This is the best offense in the league, and the Redskins defense isn’t that good either. Sleeper Special is Roy Helu, simply because he has the most “sleeper”-ish look out of all these guys.
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
Roddy White and Julio Jones are out, which means the Harry Douglas show gets an encore performance. As Matt Ryan’s #1 WR I don’t see his performance last week as a fluke and is a starter in all leagues along with Tony Gonzalez. The Cardinals secondary isn’t bad, but they aren’t stopping Matt Ryan. Jacquizz Rodgers is Flex worthy with Jason Snelling out and the decision on Steven Jackson’s status still not clear. For the Cardinals I like Andre Ellington and he still remains as a Sleeper Special for this team until the Cardinals wise up and make him starter over Rashard Mendenhall. Larry Fitzgerald is a WR2, and the Falcons aren’t good against the pass so Carson Palmer could have a good day here.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Another good WR to add and put in a starter slot is Jarrett Boykin. Cobb is gone for a while and James Jones looks like he’s going to be out. Like Harry Douglas, I don’t think Boykin’s output was a fluke either, so Boykin and Nelson are the top two guys to use on the Packers other than Rodgers. Eddie Lacy had a second consecutive week of 20+ carries and I think this Sunday makes three. The Vikings all around and bad, and if they aren’t going to give Adrian Peterson the ball then they might as well call quits on the season. I don’t understand how the best RB in the league only gets 23 carries combined over two weeks, but AP owners should be concerned. You’re starting him (you’d be nuts not to), but things aren’t looking good especially this week when they’ll be done by a lot and Christian Ponder is back at QB to ruin the fantasy values of the Vikings WRs. Sleeper Special is Kyle Rudolph due to his chemistry with Ponder and him being most likely to score a TD.
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
Let me get this straight. Sam Bradford is out for the year with a torn ACL and the Rams have so little faith in their starting QB fill-in Kellen Clemens that they had to contact Brett Favre?? Here’s your birthday gift Seattle Seahawks DST owners. The best fantasy player on the Rams is Zac Stacy, but I can’t expect him to be able to do much against the Seahawks when the passing game will be nothing more than a joke. Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and whomever Wilson feels like throwing to should have fun. Sleeper Special is Zach Miller, who either scores a TD or takes a nap midgame.
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