CINCINNATI BENGALS at DETROIT LIONS
Following last week’s 4-TD explosion, Stafford is now the 5th ranked QB in standard scoring. His favourite target has had another week to recover, and he seems have had a diamond in the rough unearthed before him in the form of an undrafted tight end. It is a concern that he faces a potent defense this week, giving up just 216 yards through the air on average (and just 18.5 points to opposing offenses), but Stafford is still a top-10 QB this week.
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Dalton had a huge game last week, finishing with 354 total yards and 3 TDs. This week, he faces a Lions defense giving up an average of 268 yards passing per game, and just surrendered 290 to Brandon Weeden. Brandon Weeden. Dalton still isn’t a QB1 this week, but is a suitable bye week / injury fill-in candidate. He could put up 275 yards and 2 TDs comfortably.
Bush has a very tough matchup, but don’t try to be too cute and think about benching him. He’s been spectacular this season, and you’d rather have him in your lineup and get 7 points (which is his worst case scenario) than overthink it, bench him, and watch him explode for 25 points, which he’s capable of. DON’T BENCH YOUR STUDS.
If you own Bernard, he should be in your team every week, whether as an RB2 or flex. His big play potential is enormous, and this week he goes up against a Lions defense that has given up 8 TDs to running backs this season. If you don’t own Bernard, you may not realise this – Bernard is the 12th highest scoring running back in STANDARD formats. He is the truth.
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Green-Ellis put up his highest rushing yardage of the season against Buffalo, with 86. The Bills are giving up the 5th most rushing yards per game, but the Lions are one spot ahead at 4th most. Green-Ellis is a viable flex play again this week, but then faces 4 very stout run defenses consecutively, then his bye. If you so please, use him when you can.
Megatron was clearly not close to 100% last week, and will be limited again this week. The good news is that he has practised for the third straight day as of the day of writing (Friday). As with last week, we recommend that if you do decide to start him, exercise a certain amount of caution, as it’s unrealistic to expect “typical” Calvin levels of production. 100 yards would have to be considered a big win for everyone involved.
Durham has 21 targets and 17 standard fantasy points over the last 2 games. If you have the roster space, he’s worth a speculative add, but for this week he’s at best a WR4 option.
Other Lions WRs
Combined for 0 fantasy points.
Matching last week’s total of over 100 yards and a score should be Green’s minimum target against a porous Lions secondary. As noted by ESPN, Green is on pace for 187(!!!) targets this season. He is a top 5 option this week, and could easily be the highest scoring WR.
Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu
Jones will likely be a hot waiver wire pickup this week. Playing on an offense with boundless potential which has been searching for a #2 wideout to pair with Green, Jones posted 16 points in standard leagues last week. However, he remains behind Sanu on the depth chart, and neither is worth playing this week, though Jones is a player to keep an eye on.
Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria
You’ve heard the stat by now – Fauria has 7 catches and 5 TDs on the season. Obviously, this is unsustainable, as much as we wish it could continue to see more of Fauria’s celebration dances. He’s averaging 5.8 points per game, but has 3 games with a goose egg. It’s best to avoid him for now. Likewise Pettigrew, who is just bad at football.
Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham
Eifert and Gresham combined for a solitary fantasy point last week. In a game where Dalton threw for over 330 yards and 3 TDs. Neither is a viable option at the minute, but – BOLD PREDICTION – one of the two will go for 70 yards and a TD this week against a poor Vikings secondary. Unfortunately, it’s a coin flip as to which.
Akers remains a borderline starting kicker, though against a good Bengals defense he way see more opportunities this week.
Nugent remains solid and unspectacular. He’s not a worthy starter.
This has been a disappointing unit this season, ranking 18th. They face a quarterback prone to turnovers, but it’s still not a good matchup. They are a middle-of-the-road option this week.
While the Bengals are the 9th ranked D/ST, expectations before the season were higher. They may struggle to get to Stafford, who has been getting rid of the ball faster than any QB this season.
CHICAGO BEARS at Washington Redskins
Sneakily, Cutler has had a fantastic fantasy season, ranking 7th at the position. This week, he faces the generous Redskins defense, which is giving up 7th most points to quarterbacks. Anything less than a 300 yard, 2TD effort from Cutler will be disappointing.
Forte has scored double digit points in every game this season, showing a remarkable level of consistency. The Redskins are giving up the third most points to opposing running backs this season. He could, and perhaps should, easily eclipse 120 total yards and a TD.
After 3 sub-par weeks, Marshall came back in a big way in week 6 with 20 fantasy points. Look for him to extend his scoring streak against a Redskins defense giving up the 6th most points to opposing wide receivers (there’s a theme here…..).
Alshon should also get back on track this week, though expect closer to 80 receiving yards than over 100 and a score. There should be plenty of yards to go around in this game.
Bennett’s health in question this week, but if he suits up, you have to start him. The ‘Skins aren’t quite so generous against tight ends, but they are still giving up the 9th most points at the position. As long as he plays, he’s a TE1.
As always, Gould is a serviceable kicker. Little more, little less.
The Bears D/ST has actually been quite poor in real life over the last few weeks, but that really doesn’t matter to us degenerates. They’re still a must start until they stop creating big plays.
CLEVELAND BROWNS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Many fantasy owners will be wary of starting Rodgers against a stingy (apart from last week) Browns defense featuring budding superstar Joe Haden. But, as we preach each and every week, don’t sit your studs. He is missing some of his top weapons, but he remains one of the very best players in the league. He’ll find a way to get production from whoever suits up.
Weeden is not a good football player. He is not the future in Cleveland. HOWEVER, if you’re absolutely desperate, you could do worse than starting him this week. He’ll likely be throwing the ball a ton to keep up with the Packers (whose defense has been ravaged by injuries), and still has one of the top young WR/TE tandems in the game at his disposal. Laugh if you like, but there are worse options.
Lacy has received 23 carries in the last two weeks. Even against a stout Browns defensive line, he’s a high upside RB2, and has clearly become an intrinsic element of this Packers offense. He should see close to 100 yards rushing again, and now has a better chance of scoring with the Packers missing some of their other weapons.
Chris Ogbonnaya / Willis McGahee
Neither of these are players you really want to have to use this week. Ogbonnaya is evidently on the upswing, and has been a favourite on checkdowns for Weeden, but his only double digit fantasy games have resulted on passing TDs which are next to impossible to predict. McGahee is coming off an injury, and is little other than a plodder at this stage of his career. The Packers have also been surprisingly good against the run, giving up the 5th fewest scrimmage yards to running backs.
In most circumstances, Nelson being Aaron Rodgers’ only proven weapon in the passing game would be a great thing. This week against Joe Haden, it’s not the gimmie it should be. He should still put up over 70 yards, and quite probably a TD, but he might not have the monster game some people are predicting. He’s still a low-end WR1.
Boykin has been a trendy pick off the waiver this week as the Packers look for help at the receiver position. After being thrust into action following the injuries to Cobb and James Jones last week, Boykin caught a 43-yard pass against the Ravens. He’s the ultimate boom-or-bust play this week, and is likely to either go for 28 yards, or 97 and 2 TDs. If you need to swing for the fences, give him a shot.
As noted in this column before, our man-crush on Gordon is absolute and unapologetic. This week he goes against a Packers defense that has struggled against wideouts, giving up almost 300 pass yards on average per game. Gordon has averaged over 100 per game since his return from suspension. He’s a borderline WR1 this week.
Little seems to have Weeden’s trust, but he shouldn’t have yours, at least just yet. An inaccurate QB and a stone-handed WR isn’t a recipe for success.
Finley had a decent game last week, which means that, traditionally, he should disappoint this week. However, he should be a bigger part of the offense with Cobb and Jones out. As always with Jermichael, temper your expectations, but he is a high upside play this week.
Bold prediction – Quarless scores this week. This not an endorsement to start him, however. Don’t do that.
A nice nugget provided by ESPN is that Cameron is on course for the most catches ever by a Browns player with 101. His production has tailed off, but in reality there are very few players at the position getting better production. He remains a high upside TE1.
Well look at that, Crosby has quickly turned his season (and career) around to become a must start in fantasy! With the depleted passing options, he may see a high number of attempts again this week.
Cundiff only has one game with double digit fantasy points this season. There are better options out there.
A very difficult unit to evaluate this week, the Packers are missing key players, but facing the statuesque Weeden, who has been sacked an average of 4.5 times per game. They’re worth rolling the dice with.
The Browns D/ST came back down to earth last week after 3 consecutive double digit games. Things might not get better this week. As always, we recommend you never start a defense playing against Rodgers.
BALTIMORE RAVENS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Roethlisberger, like any player in this matchup, is tough to get a handle on. When these two teams play each other, the form book goes out the window, and anything can happen. They are usually low scoring, close affairs, which gives us some idea of what Big Ben’s numbers might look like. He has been putting up impressive yardage of late (averaging 351 per game over the last 3), but the touchdowns haven’t been coming. He should split the difference this week, posting around 270 yards and 2TDs, leaving him in QB2 territory.
Flacco has been hot and cold all season, and even when he’s been hot it’s been more….tepid. Against the defense giving up the second fewest points to opposing fantasy QBs (surprising, right?), Flacco doesn’t warrant a spot on your team this week.
The Ravens defense has been downright miserable against opposing running backs, giving up the fewest points to the position. Bell’s realistic best case scenario is 80 total yards, and a score seems unlikely. He’s tough to play as anything more than a flex this week.
The well for optimism regarding Rice is starting to run a little dry, the chief reason being that his yards per carry is just 2.8 for the season. That’s fine when he receives 27 carries like he did against Miami, but not when he gets 14 totes like he did against Green Bay. Luckily for Rice, he should be able to inflate that number against the Steelers who have been prone to giving up big plays. He’s also a lock to score.
With each passing week, Brown is elevating his play, and cementing his status as a #1 receiver in the NFL. He and Roethlisberger are on fire right now, and Brown has posted 30 catches over the last 3 games. He will be used all over the field, and should come close to 100 yards. He’s also around a 50/50 shot to score.
Sanders finally broke the long TD run most of us though he would have got much earlier in the year, beating Antonio Cromartie with a beautiful double move. While another long strike is unlikely, he should post around 60 yards and remains a high-upside player for a spot start from your bench.
Smith came back to earth last week with just 1 fantasy point after putting up 34 in the previous two weeks. He will be matched up with Ike Taylor this week, who has done a good job in limiting the opposing teams’ top receiver for most of the season. While he’s always a threat to break a long catch and run, Smith might struggle this week. For now at least he’s back to WR2 status.
Marlon Brown / Tandon Doss / Jacoby Jones
The Ravens might finally be getting some options at wide receiver. Jones returned from injury to score, Doss came a hair shy of 100 yards receiving, and Brown had 7 targets. However, the situation is so muddied at the minute it’s best to stay away for now. For what it’s worth, we like Doss most out of the group.
Miller has 6 catches in each of his last 2 games for 7 and 8 fantasy points respectively. He should post a similar line against a Ravens defense who haven’t been very strong against tight ends, giving up the 7th most points to the position.
Clark had a nice stat line last week, with 81 yards and a TD. The week before? Zero targets. He’s not close to being consistent enough to be a fantasy option.
Suisham is perfect on the season, and should see more attempts now that Roethlisberger and the offense are finally getting going. He’s becoming an every week startable kicker.
Tucker only had one attempt last week, but that should increase in a matchup that’s normally dominated by field goals. Roll him out with confidence.
Don’t let a good game against a rookie QB fool you, this defense has a long way to go to being fantasy relevant. Another good performance on Sunday will go a way to alleviating that, but for now, don’t be tempted.
The Steelers’ O-line can’t protect, the Ravens’ D-line can get to the quarterback. Last week was Roethlisberger’s first game without a turnover, he had 9 interceptions or fumbles before that. This is a top-5 unit this week.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS at New York Giants
Much like Brandon Weeden above, Freeman is a much better fantasy QB than a real life one. He has a chance to put up numbers against a poor Giants defense which is giving up an average of over 2 TDs through the air. The main concern will be his understanding of the playbook, and the presence of the all-everything running back behind him. There’s every chance Freeman passes for 190 yards and no TDs, but he could realistically put up 260 and 2 scores. He’s a QB2 option this week.
Peterson has been limited with tightness in his hamstring, but if he’s good to go, he’ll be the #1 ranked running back this week. His numbers were down last week due to his personal situation, and the fact that the Panthers absolutely annihilated the Vikings, changing the game plan. He should have a much smoother time this week, and 150 total yards and a score is not only possible, but realistic.
Outside of a huge game against the Steelers in London, Jennings has been a huge disappointment this season. There’s a chance he gets his season back on track against a weak Giants secondary, but it’s hard to predict more than 80-90 yards for him in this game. He remains in the WR3 discussion.
We like Simpson’s chances in this game better than Jennings’, as he should be able to do more with whatever targets he receives. His game is predicated on big plays, something the Giants have given up all season. He’s a low floor, very high upside play this week.
Rudolph had his second score for the season last week, but for the first time had big yardage too. This week, he faces the defense giving up the fifth most points to opposing tight ends, and is a good bet to score again. He should post 9-10 fantasy points in standard scoring.
Walsh has a hamstring injury, and as a result only attempted one field goal last week. If he is good to go, he’ll be a top-10 option as always.
The Giants are giving up the most points to opposing D/ST units this season. There won’t be a better time to start the Vikings.