The Cincinnati Bengals played Thursday night, as their hot streak was snapped by the Dolphins. Andy Dalton came back to earth with a huge thump, with 3 interceptions, a fumble, and no touchdowns to go with a respectable 338 passing yards. A.J. Green continues to prove he’s one of the very best players in the league with 11 receptions (a career high) for 128 yards. He also had 19 targets. NINETEEN. Green is on pace for over 1,500 yards . Gio Bernard also had a huge day with 21 points in standard leagues, although he picked up an injury and is questionable for next week’s game against the Ravens.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS at Dallas Cowboys
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Don’t even consider starting Ponder. Just don’t.
Peterson has had a down year by his standards. In a year where running back has been beyond funky, he is still the #7 fantasy RB through half of the season. He faces the defense giving up 9th most points to fantasy running backs, and while it’s easy to say the stink at QB will count against him, the reality is Peterson is good enough to put up numbers against 9-man fronts. The real issue is his workload, and while it’s hard to say why Purple Jesus has recorded only between 10-13 carries over the last 3 weeks , the Vikings have to realise that handing the rock to Peterson and repeating is their best chance of winning. He should see at least 100 total yards and a TD this week, and remains, as always, a top-3 option.
Greg Jennings / Jerome SImpson / Cordarrelle Patterson
If you’re happy with around 50 yards per game, start Jennings. Otherwise, look elsewhere. Jerome Simpson is an acceptable desperation play, as Dallas are giving up the 5th most yards to opposing WRs. Patterson is an electric playmaker, capable of making it rain on any play. Why is this so obvious to everyone except the Vikings’ coaching staff? Until they get smart, Patterson should remain on the wire.
Rudolph hasn’t kicked on from last season’s breakout campaign, with just two TDs on the season. Luckily for him, he is going against the defense giving up second most points to opposing TEs. He’s a top-10 option this week, but is still only 50-50 to score, which is what his value rides on.
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BALTIMORE RAVENS at CLEVELAND BROWNS
Perhaps his ceiling IS a lot higher than Weeden’s, after all. We don’t recommend starting him, but if you need a nugget, the Ravens’ defense is less stingy in fantasy than real life, ranking in the middle of the back for points against opposing signal callers.
Much like Campbell above, Flacco is only really an option in a desperate situation. To this point in the season he’s performed like a bona-fide QB2 in fantasy.
This may be the ugliest situation in all of fantasy football, and they now face the Ravens, who are giving up the second fewest points against opposing RBs. It’s hard to recommend rostering any of these players, nevermind starting them.
Ray Rice, #35 running back through half of the season. Just doesn’t look right, does it? It’s nothing more than a gut feeeling, but we like him to get back on track this week against the Browns, who are surprisingly giving up 10th most points to opposing running backs. Rice should see at least 20 touches, and around 100 total yards and a TD. We like him as a top-10 option this week.
Gordon has the talent to thrive in spite of who is under centre, not because, like many players. He won’t (or at least is unlikely to, but anything is possible with this kid) put up numbers like last week, but he’s, again, the highest upside WR2 you could possibly have. We like to look at Gordon like A.J. Green in his last season, a transcendent talent on a bad offense. Turned out okay for Green, and Gordon will be the same. He’s a borderline top-12 option this week, and should have 80+ yards, with a good chance of a score.
Other Browns WRs
Smith’s 2-game explosion in weeks 5 and 6 led many to believe he had “turned the corner” and would be a player owners could count on. Unfortunately, his production has dipped then, and this week he faces Joe Haden, who we’ve waxed lyrically about plenty of times before. There’s a chance Smith goes off this week, but it’s not a huge one. Look for a similar stat line to his last meeting with Haden, with around 80 yards.
Other Ravens WRs
Wow, there are lots of similarities in these teams in terms of fantasy options. Tandon Doss, Marlon Brown, or Jacoby Jones could have a huge game this weekend, but the reality is nobody knows who of them it will be. We like Doss’ chances best, but you’re taking a huge gamble if you start any of them.
Cameron is the #2 TE to this point of the season. The Ravens have been below average against TEs. Roll with him as you usually would. If he has a bad day, he has 50 yards. If he has a good day, he has 90 and a TD. He’s as dependable as you’re likely to get at the position.
Clark had a TD against the Steelers, but also 3 catches for 9 yards. 3 yards per catch is not a statistic you want on your fantasy team.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS at New England Patriots
Roethlisberger is throwing the ball a ton, but his weapons are not red zone specialists. So, while he’s getting plenty of yards most weeks, his fantasy points are not reflecting his attempts. He’s been a QB2 all season, and against a Patriots defense giving up 7th fewest points to opposing QBs, he will continue to be.
Bell salvaged his fantasy value last weekend with a touchdown, but otherwise had 13 carries for just 24 yards. Some of that can be attributed to the offense falling behing early, and some to the Raiders’ quietly strong defense. In week 9 Bell goes against a defense lacking its two best players in the middle in Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo. Last week, Daniel Thomas and Lamarr Miller combined to average ofer 5 yards per carry against the Pats. The week before, Chris Ivory had 34 (!!!) carries against them for 104 yards. The Patriots can be run on, and the Steelers need to do that to have any shot of winning. Bell should see around 20 touches, 90-100 total yards, and is 50-50 to score.
In spite of scoring only 2 TDs, which were in one game, Brown is currently the #15 WR in non-PPR leagues. He’s on pace for 128 receptions, which would top the league at this current pace. Brown is the Steelers’ best weapon in the passing game by far, and should rack up around 100 total yards.
Don’t use Sanders’ huge game last week as an excuse to rush him into your lineup. This is a player Bill Belichick coveted and didn’t acquire, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see “The Hood” try to completely negate him. Sanders is barely a WR3 this week.
Miller had a TD called back due to penalty this week, and outside of Le’Veon Bell is the Steelers’ only option in the red zone. He will continue to get plenty of looks from Roethlisberger, and the Patriots are ranked right in the middle of the pack for points against opposing TEs.
CHICAGO BEARS at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Never consider not playing Rodgers. Ever. If he plays, you play him.
McCown performed admirably after coming in to replace Cutler. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen SO many times, when a player plays well replacing another, they almost never replicate their performance in their first start. Teams will now have time to study McCown, which doesn’t bode well for him. Due to Marc “The QB Whisperer” Trestman’s influence, McCown is a viable QB2/ bye week fill-in, but don’t expect much more.
Lacy is, as the great Evan Silva would say, eatin’. He’s become an intrinsic part of the Packers offense, and rushed for a season-high 29 carries last week. At a position devoid of consistency, Lacy has become an incredibly valuable player. The Bears are giving up 3rd most points to opposing RBs, and Lacy could, and perhaps should, finish as a top-5 RB this week.
With Cutler out, Forte will see more stacked boxes, but likely more checkdowns. He is the #3 RB though half of the season, and has yet to register a game with fewer than double digit points. Green Bay’s defense has been stingy towards RBs, but Forte remains a high-end RB1, and should have at least 100 total yards. Again.
Nelson has quietly been fantasy’s #3 WR this season. After this game, it’s likely Nelson won’t be quiet any more. He’s the top option on one of the top offenses in the league, and is a viable top-5 player at the position this week. Anything less than 100 yards and a TD would be a surprise.
At the time of writing, Jones’ status was unclear. With this being a Monday night game, it’s not worth waiting and hoping on Jones, who will be limited even if he does return.
Boykin has proven that Ted Thompson is a smart GM. Green Bay’s offense hasn’t missed a beat in spite of missing some of its top options, and Boykin has had a huge hand in that transition. He gives Rodgers another huge and savvy option, and clearly is a trusted weapon in the passing game. Look for him to have around 70 yards receiving.
It’s safe to worry about Marshall’s targets, since he won’t have Jay Cutler force feeding him the ball. While it’s difficult to predict that Marshall will perform at his dominating best, his floor is what many wide receivers’ ceilings might be. We also like him for a TD this week, and around 12 standard points.
Alshon currently sits as the 14th highest scoring fantasy wideout, including an 11-point effort in week 7 with McCown in for most of the game. He’s a safe bet for another 70+ yards.
Bennett is the 5th highest scoring TE through 8 weeks. The Packers are giving up the 3rd most points to opposing TEs. TEs are traditionally an inexperienced QB’s best friend. START BENNETT.