Los Angeles Rams at Detroit – Kenny Golladay
Here we are, people. Smack dab in the middle of crunch time. If you don’t have that beautiful little asterisk (*) floating next to your presumably authentic team name already, then that means it all comes down to this week. Week 13, boom or bust, do or die, win to get in, you know the drill. So the stakes are higher and we need to be even more cautious about the options we deploy. Which is why, we personally, are not utilizing Golladay this week. Look, we get it, Golden Tate is gone, Marvin Jones is on Injured Reserve. It’s the Golladay show for Detroit from here on out and Matthew Stafford is going to need to throw that ball 50 times in order to even sniff the output of the high-powered Rams offense. But we fear too many people are solely focusing on the positive. There are a lot of negatives that can’t simply be ignored. For starters, Stafford already has a 10-sack game on his record. Against the Rams, he could be going for two. Secondly, Aqib Talib was taken off Injured Reserve and could very well be ready to go here. Adding a top-end talent to your defense is historically a negative for opposing offenses. We’ve always said “chase opportunity as opportunity leads to production” but this may be too much opportunity for Golladay. The defense is going to blitz Stafford while undoubtedly double covering the only receiving threat in Golladay. The door is wide open for Golladay to catch everything in sight en route to a 15-catch game, which would cement him as a matchup-proof WR1. But there is also the chance that he can’t handle the combination of offensive and defensive attention.
Cleveland at Houston – Baker Mayfield
There are five games left on the NFL slate and Mayfield is holding onto a strong touchdown total of 17 in his rookie season. That means that if he averages two passing scores a game from here on out, he’ll could end up flirting with 30 passing touchdowns in his first season as an NFL passer. While 30 touchdowns may not give you a case of the vapors, it is a sign of good things to come. Way back when, we saw the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers post totals close to 28 touchdowns in very successful campaigns. As a matter in fact, in their first seasons with 16 full games under center, Brady lead the group with 28 touchdowns, with Rivers and Brees respectfully trailing with 22 and 17, respectively. Let that marinate for a hot minute. With five games left, Mayfield has already matched Drew Brees’ passing touchdown total as the full time starter. And Mayfield himself wasn’t the true starter until the team ultimately decided to move on from Tyrod Taylor. The four touchdowns last week was a giant step forward for the first overall pick. Now, Mayfield has to face off against one of the toughest and well balanced defenses that the NFL has to offer. And Houston is going to be flying all over the field as it is juiced up on potential playoff motivation while it attempts to keep its winning streak alive. Can Mayfield answer the call? Was last week a quick flare or is he really on his way to becoming the next Brees, Rivers or Brady?
Buffalo at Miami – Ryan Tannehill
Do we love Ryan Tannehill? No, we don’t. Do we even really like Ryan Tannehill? Again, no, not really. Do we believe that Tannehill could not only boost the fantasy value of receiving options but also himself in the process by getting out of Miami? Yes, as a matter of fact, we do. Miami has been so anxious to show the ghost of Dan Marino the door that it threw ridiculous money at the first guy who looked the part. After all the Cleo Lemon’s, Daunte Culpepper’s, Jay Fiedler’s and Ray Lucas’ ran their course, Tannehill looked like the first legit threat to become the heir to Marino. And Miami responded by opening its bank books and writing a check that Tannehill’s talent simply could not cash. Miami placed too high a burden on the quarterback and he’s regressed since inking the deal. Now, Miami already seems to be moving on to whatever new kid on the block that draft gurus promote while the team kick Tannehill to the curb. The rest of the season has turned into the Tannehill combine. He’ll be able to showcase his arm strength, mobility and overall health for the next suitor. What if a fully capable team like Jacksonville begin to take notice? Tampa Bay could be moving on from Jameis Winston. Is Oakland really going to pay Derek Carr all that money? Is Andy Dalton done in Cincinnati? There are a lot of questions at the position around the league and Tannehill could turn himself into an offseason prize to the highest bidder.
Baltimore at Atlanta – Matt Ryan
While Atlanta continues to showcase how different the same team can be from year to year, Matt Ryan keeps showing us the beautiful creature that is created when a capable quarterback is paired with a flat out awful defense. The Atlanta defense could not stop a committee college flag football offense at this point. It is getting chewed up and spit out at a borderline historic pace. But as bad as the terrible Atlanta defense has been, Matt Ryan has seized this opportunity to mold himself into an elite quarterback. If the former Boston College Eagle can keep this pace up, he’ll not only break his own personal passing record, but he’ll go well past 5,000 yards on the year. The good thing for Ryan is that the majority of his remaining schedule offers little to no resistance. The only friction that remains is this week with Baltimore. So we’ll get a quick answer to the question that on all of our minds? Is Matt Ryan simply a matchup only based play who excels against junk but falters against legit competition or is he an true QB1? The answer could see Ryan moving up from a ninth-round pick to a potential fourth-round selection.