Welcome to Byemageddon. Six teams – Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans – have the week off. Some fantasy owners see a roster full of injuries and are in survival mode. That’s the name of the game. Nobody said earning bragging rights in your league was ever going to be easy.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati (vs. Indianapolis)
All signs point to Dalton going off against the Colts’ second-worst passing defense that allows opposing quarterbacks 300.7 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game with 63.1 completion percentage and 93.5 passer rating. Dalton has been borderline horrible in four of six games, but giving up on him would be a mistake. It was an almost certainty he would struggle Sunday against Pittsburgh, ranked No. 1 in passing defense. He threw for 140 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 56.7 completion percentage and 63.2 passer rating. Look down the road and realize that aside from Indianapolis, Dalton is at Tennessee in Week 10 and plays Cleveland at home in Week 12. His best games this season are Weeks 3 and 4 at Green Bay and Cleveland where he averaged 249 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, 80.6 completion percentage and 135.1 passer rating. He never has elite upside, but when a cupcake secondary is on tap, Dalton’s a starter in most league formats.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina (at Tampa Bay)
This suggestion is more for leagues that award half or one point per reception, because while McCaffrey is targeted often out of the backfield, he’s only averaging 2.5 yards per carry. The former Stanford star caught a receiving touchdown in Weeks 5 and 6. He caught 10 receptions in Week 6 against Philadelphia and nine receptions in Week 3 against New Orleans for an average of 6.2 receptions and 48.9 yards in six games. Aside from 13 carries in Week 1, McCaffrey averaged 5.3 rushing attempts from Weeks 2 to 7. Start him this week primarily as a flex, but those numbers prove why he’s more productive in PPR formats. Tampa Bay is ranked No. 30 in passing defense at 294.8 yards per game. The most comparable dual-threat running backs to McCaffrey that Tampa Bay has faced this season are Chicago’s Tarik Cohen and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, who combined for 13 receptions, 127 yards and one touchdown. Is it possible for McCaffrey to catch seven receptions for 65 yards with a chance to score? Statistics from the Panthers and Buccaneers lean toward it being probable.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans (vs. Chicago)
Ranked No. 13 overall, the Bears’ rushing defense allows 4.0 yards per carry. Chicago’s No. 8 passing defense is even better at 196.4 yards per game. My feeling is quarterback Drew Brees won’t be as effective as normal, meaning Ingram will continue to have a big role. In his first game after Adrian Peterson was traded to Arizona, Ingram rushed for 125 yards on 25 attempts (4.6 average) and two touchdowns. He also had 105 yards on 22 attempts (4.8 average) and a touchdown Sunday at Green Bay. Although the Lions and Packers have worse rushing defenses than Chicago, New Orleans’ commitment to feeding Ingram is evident. The only downside is rookie Alvin Kamara. Christopher Harris of HarrisFootball.com wrote a story last week that appeared in The Washington Post called, “Alvin Kamara could be Kareem Hunt Good. Just Wait.” Harris believes Ingram and Kamara can produce strong numbers with head coach Sean Payton. Perhaps he’s right and Kamara is the future RB1 to own in New Orleans. For now, the wise move – and it’s not even close – is to start Ingram.
Chris Hogan, WR, New England (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)
Name a team that has the fifth-best passing defense at 185.4 yards per game and gives up 1.3 touchdowns. Now name the WR8 in PPR through six weeks who’s his team’s third option. You probably wouldn’t know the answers if it wasn’t written above. Hogan has the chance to lead the Patriots in receptions and yards against the Chargers. Los Angeles’ main defensive goal is to contain tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Hogan has created separation all season other than Week 6 in New Jersey as the New York Jets held him to one reception for 19 yards. In the previous four games Hogan averaged 5.5 receptions for 70 yards and 1.3 touchdowns. The best comparable to the Chargers is Week 4 against Carolina when Hogan had 60 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (at New England)
Not only Williams, but receivers Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin may have a field day against New England’s worst-ranked passing defense at 310.3 yards and 2.1 touchdowns per game. Williams might have the best day due to his big-play ability. Williams has caught 21 receptions for 298 yards and one touchdown. His 14.2 yards per reception and long of 75 yards leads the team. Aside from Sunday night against Atlanta, New England cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore are not getting the job done. The run defense is poor and quarterbacks are rarely under pressure, often forcing Butler and Gilmore to cover their man for a long period of time. Except for one game, nobody is doing their job on defense. Allen is the Chargers’ top receiver. He may get double-teamed at times, and if that happens, all Williams needs to do is beat his defender and he could be in store for another long touchdown reception. The Patriots’ offense scores 27.9 points per game. If that holds true, Philip Rivers will throw a lot of passes and the likelihood of Williams breaking out increases.
Other Players to Like
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets (vs. Atlanta)
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota (at Cleveland)
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Philadelphia (vs. San Francisco)
DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay (vs. Carolina)
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City (vs. Denver)
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco (at Philadelphia)
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas (at Washington)