After a week off from writing (thanks boss) I find myself excited to get back previewing the weeks games but oddly a bit tentative. Adam has been riding a bit of a hot streak so hopefully I can continue the trend.
Before we get started, I tip my hat to the thanksgiving teams this year. Great games, well, the first two were competitive at least but all were fun to watch. Matt Stafford didn’t wow anyone from a fantasy perspective but man he is playing out of his mind. ‘Clutch’ does not really do the man justice. I believe that they have trailed in the 4th quarter in EVERY game this year, and to be where they are in the standings, is all down to Stafford. If he continues in this trend I think he gets the MVP nod this year. From an actual fantasy football perspective, are there any better performers than Zeke Elliott and Antonio Brown? Generational talents at their respective positions and just a pleasure to watch. The move Brown makes on Vontae Davis is criminal/magical. I would advise Davis stay off the internet for about 10 years until people forget the image of his flailing limbs as he falls to the ground (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuES6MyGRQE).
On to this week!!!!
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
If it wasn’t for the Chargers and Bears injury woes, I think we would all feel a lot worse for the Bengals recent troubles. Thankfully AJ Green might be week to week rather than out for the year. That being said Gio Bernard is out for the year which is not great but he hasn’t exactly lit up the score board this year but of course, we wish him a quick recovery. This recent misfortune means that you sit Andy Dalton this week. Despite his strong play this year, having these guys out of the line up really affects his stock. Flacco on the other hand, you sit because their offense is generally unreliable. He’ll get you mid range points but nothing special. Jeremy Hill will get increased volume but I would play him with a massive asterisk above his head. Volume doesn’t always mean results. Especially against one of the top D’s in the league. The D that kept Zeke Elliott relatively in line, okay 97 yards is RB1 production but compared to his recent stat lines, it is very good. Jimmy Smith, one of the best corners in the game usually covers the opposing no1 receiver but without Green, he will probably be utilized in various ways put all over the field to confuse Dalton. Dalton needs to be perfect and for Hill to gain over 100 yards and a few scores to keep this away from an embarrassing score line. Not because the Ravens are amazing, no they are rather underwhelming. I would say you could start the Ravens receives in a flex scenario and I wouldn’t really start Pitta. Terrance West will hopefully get a few more touches as they look to control the game on the ground so start him and pray the game goes to the home team. Oh and Tyler Eifert, he will be pummeled with targets so start him, As if you weren’t already.
Winner – Baltimore
Jacksonville @ Buffalo
My god there are some things in life that you don’t want to do. But you have to. Like going to Ikea. Doing the washing up after all the family come for a Sunday roast. I don’t want to write about how bad the Jaguars are….. but they are. So. God. Damn. Bad. Blake Bortles recently said that he was ‘not a natural thrower of the football’. What? I’m sorry but how low is this guys confidence for him to say something like that? I have always had a fondness for the Jaguars but if it looks like a turd and smells like a turd, it’s a turd. That is how you describe the Jags this year. Despite his QB’s troubles, Robinson is a volume dependent low end WR2/flex this week. Allen Hurns has dropped off the planet for some reason and has been replaced by Marquis Lee who primarily works out the slot. At first I was against any WR against the Bills CB’s but they haven’t played great reently and even Ronard Darby has been playing less due to poor performances. Chris Ivory was one of my favourite players to watch last year but he still seems to be getting familiar with new surroundings and recovering from his previous injuries. Might be a flex play if Yeldon is limited or out. On to the other side, Tyrod Taylor has probably some of the best footwork in the league so I would expect him to trouble the Jags D with his feet more so than his arm. I’m not sure even he knows who he is throwing to these days at WR so a potential return for Sammy Watkins good return massive dividends if you managed to pick him up off waivers. Start LeSean McCoy as his thumb injury didn’t seem to bother him catching passes in practice. Possible Gilleslee stash again but he will more than likely stay on the bench. I wish, just wish I could write about an upset as I don’t like Rex Ryan but the Bills are starting to get a bit of swagger back so it would be a massive upset if the Jags won.
Winner – Buffalo
Tennessee @ Chicago
My disdain for Jay Cutler has finally paid off and he is done for the year. Although for poor Bears fans that leaves them with Matt Barkley. Never would have thought a team would be pining for Brian Hoyer but it goes to show you that an offensive system is sometimes just as important for a player as it is their physical gifts. I sadly, have nothing positive to say about the Bears other than potentially starting Jordan Howard as he will get all the volume as there is no way that Barkley should be throwing the ball. On the Titans side, start EVERYONE. Okay maybe not Tajae Sharp but everyone else should starting in fantasy this week. Even the Titans D are a great streaming option.
Winner – Tennessee
New York Giants @ Cleveland
Each game so far has a very clear winner. This game continues that trend unfortunately. Cleveland now almost seems like the kid brother of your mate who just kind of hangs around and tries to do what the bigger kids are doing but just isn’t quite there yet. They have some building blocks but an 0-16 season is looking more and more likely. The ever changing QB does not help matters but McCown does give the Browns a better chance to win with his rapport with Barnidge and Pryor. The Giants have an improving D and I have them this week as a streamer. Start the usual duo of Beckham and Shepard as I don’t expect any resistance from the Cleveland defence. If you are stuck you could probably also start Rashard Jennings. Yeah, I know, Rashard Jennings. He will get serious volume and whenever he gets volume, he can be a good performer. Landon Collins continues his pillaging of QB’s by getting both a sack and a pick this week I think as the Giants leave Cleveland a happy team with a solid 8-3 record.
Winner – New York Giants
San Diego @ Houston
Has there ever been two teams where the two teams playing should have each others records? The Chargers do not deserve a losing record, especially how they have been ravaged with injuries and bizarre melt downs early on in the season. I love how San Diego play this year and the evolution of the receiving corp just seem to be raising their game to match Rivers’ fire and passion. On the other side, the Texans are still bad on offense and really don’t deserve a winning record. Since week 4, CJ Fiedorowicz has more receiving yards and touchdowns than DeAndre Hopkins.That pretty much says it all. Lamar Miller started off slow but has played okay. He is their only real productive player and that is not an exaggeration (see previous statement). Their D has been serviceable but you cannot replace JJ Watt’s production. I would have taken Houston’s D every time in fantasy drafts but without Watt, they don’t seem as intimidating. With that in mind I would temper expectations with Melvin Gordon but the Texans defenders are likely to be on the field a lot so he will get a bunch of production in the second half. Rivers should be able to pick his poison with his pass catchers and generally control the time of possession. He will probably force feed Antonio Gates but I doubt he has a great game fantasy wise. Hunter Henry would be considered as having better upside but he can’t get production while Gates plays the majority of snaps. San Diego’s defense has been very opportunistic and I think is also a good streaming option this week. Joey Bosa has been great and offers a JJ Watt type presence always being around the opposing QB. I like San Diego’s chances this week against a terrible, disjointed offense. Do you see any scenario where Houston scores more than 20 points? I sure as heck don’t and I think the Chargers can easily score more than that so it’s an easy pick for me.
Winner – San Diego
San Francisco @ Miami
Miami has quite a unique opportunity this week, to beat 3 west coast teams,3 weeks in a row. Honestly if there was no Jay Ajayi then I would call this a no brainer and have the 49ers win. However, there is that one massive elephant sized problem that you might have heard of, the Niners have no run D. None. Historically bad in all key metrics so far. They kept David Johnson quiet a few weeks ago but then let LeGarette Blount run all over them. I think that if there is little to no threat of a pass game, then that does make the job easier for a D which is why I think the Arizona game was a lot closer than it really should have been. I also really don’t understand what is with San Francisco and its strange 2nd half no shows. First halves with Colin Kaepernick, look halfway decent and they are almost fun to watch. Then the second half kick off happens, and they seem to just, stop. It’s weird and I don’t understand! The Dolphins have found their niche and would be unbelievably stupid to do anything other than give Ajayi the ball 30 odd times. I say that with the knowledge that their only other real threat, Jarvis Landry has really suffered because of Ajayi’s emergence as a legitimate power back. Believe it or not, this might be a high scoring affair. Don’t be fooled using Miami as a streaming defense as Kaep has not turned the ball over and is looking more and more comfortable each week. Kaepernick is actually very good fantasy QB, top 5 production most weeks but that doesn’t really mean that his team wins. All WR’s in this game are to be avoided as none of them are consistent. Again Vance McDonald is worth a look as he is a top 20 TE despite very few opportunities. I might hear some grumbles about this pick but this is one of the few games that the 49ers can actually win and I really don’t want a 10 game losing streak. Kaep needs to play well though and run riot in the sunshine state to make it happen.
Winner – San Francisco
Los Angeles @ New Orleans
If it wasn’t for the Rams defensive front four, I would literally write ‘start New Orleans’ and then leave it. However, I feel that I should justify it slightly. Drew Brees, at 37 is playing his best ball in years and is averaging over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns at home. I expect more of the same this week. The Rams D are very capable of containing some of the best offensive units but they are going to be on the field for a long time this week as New Orleans are actually playing quite well on the other side of the ball too which makes them very very dangerous. They are getting pressure on the QB will some regularity now and if you hadn’t heard, Jared Goff is making his second professional start, in one of the toughest stadiums to play in. Talk about your baptism of fire!!? He should probably just take notes watching Brees play but once he starts getting some experience he will be better than Case Keenum and his no touchdowns in his last two games. The Rams rely heavily on special teams and trickety to gain any kind of momentum and that is really not the way to win in the NFL. Might get you a few close wins with a strong D but against potent attacking teams with average or above average defenses and the game quickly gets out of hand. Start Hightower despite the not so good match up on paper, if you have any Saints receivers then you can start them but their production is spread out so very difficult to predict. Go with whoever you think has the higher ceiling and you will probably be right. As for the Rams, don’t start anyone.
Winner – New Orleans
Seattle @ Tampa Bay
If there was an upset, this would be it. Seattle are missing several key players on D and I think they can be exploited. Mike Evans is of course a must start regardless of who is against him and Winston keeps extending plays with his feet. They upset the Chiefs last week who have had similar luck with their injuries on the defensive side of the ball so you can see how an upset might be on the cards. That being said, as always, Seattle seems to be coming in to their own again and finding their identity post Marshawn Lynch. I always said that I didn’t rate Russel Wilson and didn’t want to give him any love until he can start to play within the pocket. He is doing that this year so I will man up and say that I like what he has been doing. Baldwin and Graham are must starts purely based on increased volume they have and the rapport they have with Wilson. Their running back situation is insane, the week they get rid of Christine Michael, their heir apparent CJ Prosise gets hurt and is out for the year and his replacement gets banged up too. Oh did I mention that Thomas Rawls is also a bit banged up? Yeah that’s not good. Frustratingly they will probably have another running back stashed somewhere that will be equally as good. That being said, if their running backs are down to their 4th or 5th on the depth chart, I actually don’t think their receivers are as skilled to carry the Seahawks for the whole game. I would sit Winston this week, he will get his points via Evans but everyone else again is hard to predict. He is also prone to mistakes so the Seahawks D should be started with confidence. If Rawls plays, then absolutely start him as he will get all the touches. The Seahawks have beaten the Eagles and Patriots in recent weeks, somewhat cementing their status once again as a top 5 NFL team but Tampa have beaten the Falcons and Chiefs so they are capable if the conditions are right. If Doug Martin gets 100 yards then the Bucs win.
Winner – Tampa Bay
New England @ New York Jets
Brady quietly had a great game last week. He was oddly under pressure for quite a lot of the game but that didn’t really seem to make an difference. The old guy has some nifty feet right? I am not going to waste time about match ups because with Brady it does not matter. Therefore I would say you can start Blount as a flex, I think the Pats go with an aerial attack rather than running as the Jets front 7 can be good at times. Grandmaster Bill will go down as the premier game planner as no game is the same, they seemingly just pick something to exploit and have fun doing it. Occasionally you see them in close games until they get bored and decide to break away (see last weeks game when it was a three point game in the third quarter). For the Jets, do not, I repeat do not start anyone. If you are desperate you could go with Forte or Enunwa but I wouldn’t bother. Anything they get will be garbage points. It’s almost boring but maybe the Patriots D, stripped to it’s bones in some aspects get exploited a bit but I don’t think that the Jets are the team to do it.
Winner – New England
13 games this Sunday and the 3 already from Thanksgiving gives us a beautiful full line up of games. Admittedly, I struggle with around 40-50% of picking games each week. I try to research as much as I can and usually overloading on information helps me pick a team for the close ones. This week though, not that difficult. I think I have picked the 49ers and Bucs to win just to mix up. We have already been treated to a bevy of superstars on Thursday so hopefully some of the other teams around the league will step up and offer the same quality.
Fantasy Outlook this is great thanks to owning Elliott and Brown in my respective leagues.
League 1 – 7-4
Brady, Ajayi, Elliott (24 points), Demaryus Thomas, Evans, Walker, West/Robinson, Bryant, Ravens
League 2 – 6-5
Brees, McCoy, Gordon, Brown (27 points), Evans, Kelce, Rishard Matthews, Bailey (7 points), Giants
That’s it, peace out!