We are at the fantasy mid-point as most leagues run regular season until Week 13 or 14. Which means you should look at where you are in the standings and see what it will take to make the playoffs. My research shows that on average, 7 wins gets you into the playoffs. So if you are at 3-3 right now you will have to win half your games to make the playoffs.
The current fantasy landscape has changed with injuries, changing starters and teams on bye weeks, your starting lineup will be completely different than it was a few weeks ago. With recent injuries such as Eddie Lacy placed on IR, Ben Roethlisberger’s surgery and LeSean McCoy‘s hamstring, the need to utilize your bench is more important than ever. Those teams that chose to load up on wide receivers early in drafts are now in trouble as running backs go down. Adding Jacquizz Rodgers is not going to win you a championship.
Even though the bye weeks had started back in Week 4, we haven’t had a significant amount of starters off on the same week. Week 8 and 9 will be bye week hell for some of us. In Week 8, the Ravens, Rams, Dolphins, Giants, Steelers and 49ers are off. In Week 9, the Cardinals, Bears, Bengals, Texans, Patriots and Redskins are off. Chances are most fantasy teams will run pretty thin during these weeks.
Those that adjust to the changes in the fantasy landscape through out the season are the ones that win championship.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
Odell Beckham, Jr.- 8 receptions for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns, 1 marriage proposal. We’ve been waiting all season for the breakout game and it finally came in a big way. The targets have been there all year as Beckham has double-digit targets in 4 of 6 games.
Jay Ajayi– 25 carries for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ajayi had a career game in which he finally saw over 20 carries for the first time this season. Maybe his situation is similar to what Lamar Miller dealt with in his time with the Dolphins in that he can be productive if they ever gave him the volume.
David Johnson– 22 carries for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns. For those that drafted Todd Gurley over David Johnson this season, it is difficult to watch as Johnson has already racked up 8 touchdowns on the season while Gurley is on an offense that can’t help him produce. Johnson leads all fantasy running backs through 6 games.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
Demaryius Thomas– 5 receptions for 35 yards. Thomas was on a nice little streak of scoring in 3 straight but his yards over those three had dropped significantly. Thomas has just one 100-yard game this season and two over the last 15 regular season games.
Doug Baldwin– 4 receptions for 31 yards. Baldwin was one of the most overhyped players entering this season and we have seen so far this season that he is back to the old Baldwin of having one good game and then doing nothing for several games. He has 3 games with fewer than 55 yards this season with a very tough matchup this week.
Antonio Brown– 4 receptions for 39 yards. Is it panic time if you are a Brown owner? Not so fast. Ben Roethlisberger will be back in a few weeks so don’t go trading Brown for Kenny Britt any time soon. You do have to be concerned with Landry Jones throwing him the ball in the short term.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Andy Dalton against the Browns. Dalton gets overlooked in fantasy but he’s currently the 8th-best quarterback in leagues. He’s had one bad start this season which came against the Broncos where he failed to throw a touchdown. Last season, Dalton threw 5 TDs in two games against the Browns and I think their defense is even worse this season. Heading into this week, the Browns have allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to quarterbacks with 21.0 points per game. The Browns defense ranks 26th in yards per game allowed with 285.3 and have the 2nd-most touchdowns given up with 16. Start everyone!
Blake Bortles against the Raiders. The Raiders must already have their minds on moving to Las Vegas because they are playing like a team that has already packed it in on the defensive side. They rank as the worst passing defense allowing 312.7 yards per game with 12 passing touchdowns. They give up 19.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks this season which is about Bortles’ season average. I am expecting a big day for Allen Robinson.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Joe Flacco against the Jets. Flacco enters this week as the #15 fantasy quarterback. Some of this is due to the team liking to run the ball. The matchup is golden for Flacco to hit Mike Wallace deep. The deep pass has been the Jets’ Achilles heel so expect some deep bombs in this game. The Jets have allowed 8 plays over 40 yards and are 28th in passing yards allowed with 290 per game with 13 touchdowns. They are also tied for the lowest amount of interceptions with just two. They allow the 5th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks with 19.5.
Good running back matchups this week:
DeMarco Murray against the Colts. Murray is the 2nd-best running back in fantasy behind David Johnson and is averaging 24.3 fantasy points per game. He faces a Colts team that is 2nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs with 23.5 points per game. On the season, the Colts allow 117.7 rushing yards per game (25th) with 6 touchdowns given up. Expect Murray to be one of the top running backs this week.
C.J. Anderson against the Texans. This is a gut check pick. I just have a feeling that Anderson goes off this week. He has been losing carries to Devontae Booker and struggled last week. However, on the Monday night stage and against a Texans team that can be run on, I see Anderson putting up good numbers. The Texans have allowed 100+ yards in 4 games this season. They are 29th in the league allowing 126.3 yards per game with 8 touchdowns given up. They allow 16.8 fantasy points to running backs.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Mike Gillislee against the Dolphins. LeSean McCoy’s status is still up in the air but I can’t see him recovering in time as he was initially ruled out. Even if McCoy were to give it a go, you can’t expect the Bills to push him too much. Gillislee is a capable back up that has 6 touchdowns the last two seasons. He faces the Dolphins who are 31st in run defense allowing 147.0 yards per game and give up 4 touchdowns.
Bad quarterback matchups this week:
Russell Wilson against the Cardinals. Wilson is not having a great season as he is the 25th-ranked quarterback in fantasy leagues. Players such as Alex Smith and Blaine Gabbert have more fantasy points. Let that sink in for a second, Gabbert who was benched last week still has more fantasy points than Wilson. Wilson faces the Cardinals who he fared well against last season scoring 20 fantasy points in each meeting. The Cardinals, however, rank 3rd this season in passing defense allowing just 191.0 yards per game with only 5 touchdowns and are tied for the league lead with 9 interceptions. They allow just 11.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Carson Wentz against the Vikings. Wentz is getting a lot of love because his team is winning but fantasy-wise he is very average. He is ranked below Wilson as the 26th fantasy quarterback. Again, Blaine Gabbert ranks higher. He comes off an 8-point game against the Redskins to face a Vikings defense that is 6th in passing defense allowing just 209.8 yards per game with only 4 touchdowns allowed and 7 interceptions. They are holding fantasy quarterbacks to 12 points per game.
Ryan Tannehill against the Bills. Tannehill killed me last week. I thought he was in a good position to go off but he failed to throw a touchdown. It didn’t help that Jay Ajayi went off. This week he faces the Bills who are giving up some passing yards but are stingy in the red zone. They have allowed just 3 touchdowns this season with 242 passing yards per game (16th). They are the 2nd-toughest team on fantasy quarterbacks allowing just 11 points per game.
Bad running back matchups this week:
Matt Jones against the Lions. Jones has been inconsistent this season but bounced back after a poor Week 5 with his best game of the season rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown. The Lions have given up yards this season at 108.3 yards per game (21st), but have allowed just 1 touchdown on the ground. That leads to them holding fantasy running backs to just 12.5 points per game.
Le’Veon Bell against the Patriots. Considering the situation of the Steelers offense, you have to be concerned for Bell this week. Yes, he will get a ton of carries and most likely several catches out of the backfield, but the Patriots have a good run defense allowing 92 rushing yards per game and only 3 scores. The Patriots will be focusing on containing Bell all game. I’m not saying to avoid starting him, but rather don’t be surprised if he doesn’t have a big week.
Mark Ingram against the Chiefs. Ingram is a frustrating fantasy player and I refused to own him the last few years because he is very inconsistent. In an offense that puts up a lot of points, especially at home, Ingram has just 1 rushing touchdown and 1 receiving touchdown all season. The Saints are a different team when they are on the road and they head into Arrowhead which is a tough environment to play. The Chiefs rushing defense has allowed just 3 rushing touchdowns all season but does give up 116.4 yards on the ground per game (24th) but Ingram doesn’t see more than 15 carries in a game.