The Beatles released the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in November 1968 on their self-titled, more commonly known as White Album. That same year is also when Charlton Heston said, “Damn you all to hell!” at the end of the original Planet of the Apes. These iconic moments come to mind for a reason, because that’s how some people may feel knowing Week 9 means fantasy football is more than halfway complete, especially with six more teams – Chicago, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England and Pittsburgh– on a bye. Don’t look on the downside and wonder what to do. Instead, continue to exploit or avoid certain matchups to give yourself the best chance at winning.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams (at New York Giants)
The second-year signal-caller is a great streaming option who, coming off a bye, scored the 12th-most fantasy points among quarterbacks headed into Week 8. Goff is the leader of the top-ranked offense at 30.3 points per game. The Giants have the sixth-worst passing defense at 258.7 yards per game, and have allowed 14 passing touchdowns overall this season. To nobody’s surprise, Goff struggled this season against Washington, Jacksonville and Seattle. The Giants defense is much worse than those teams. Better comparisons are his other four opponents. When facing Indianapolis, San Francisco, Dallas and Arizona, Goff averaged 272 yards passing, 1.75 touchdowns and 0.25 interceptions per game. Feel free to round the decimals to the nearest tenth like normal. No matter how it’s written, the Giants are probably going to lose badly as Goff lights up the scoreboard and stat sheet.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore (at Tennessee)
Who’s more trustworthy: Ryan Mallett or an Irish dancing running back leading the NFL in yards per carry? Not that Joe Flacco was playing well but he’s dealing with a concussion as Mallett, in his seventh season, has a career 55.1 completion percentage and 66.8 passer rating in 21 games. Collins continues to get more playing time and has become Baltimore’s RB1. Hopefully he’ll start to get more goal-line carries, too. Collins gained 113 yards on 18 carries (6.3 average) last week against Miami. Tennessee, tied for the fifth-best rushing defense at 3.6 yards per attempt, allows 100.1 yards per game, ranked No. 10. Collins won’t shred Tennessee like he did Miami, but he should get enough touches to post RB2 numbers. Collins also caught two receptions for 30 yards against Miami. That’s a good sign for him because Mallett will throw a lot of dump-off passes based on his ineffective history. His longest completion in the past two years is 12 yards, just twice as much as Collins’ per carry average.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay (at New Orleans)
Saying Martin averaged 3.8 yards per carry in his first four games is misleading, because he had a 5.7 yards average against New England. For this player endorsement, the New Orleans rushing defense is more on line with New England’s ninth-worst unit. New Orleans is No. 30 at 4.9 yards per carry. New Orleans has improved throughout the season but still allow 20.7 points per game, slightly better than average. This game could be a shootout between two high-powered offenses whose defenses are equally susceptible. Martin’s rushing average is poor but he’s getting the lion’s share of carries, which makes backup Jacquizz Rodgers droppable. Martin scored a touchdown against New England and Arizona. Tampa Bay’s offense should be in the red zone often in “The Big Easy,” making a decision to start Martin simple.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay)
Aside from Week 8 it’s funny how Michael Thomas, a consensus second-round pick in 2017 fantasy drafts, is basically being matched in production by an 11-year veteran whose high in receptions (54, 56) occurred in 2016 and 2008. Headed into Sunday, Thomas was WR23 in non-points per reception leagues (Ginn WR24) and WR17 in points per reception leagues (Ginn WR31). In Ginn’s first season with Drew Brees, he’s caught 24 receptions for 421 yards (17.5 average) and two touchdowns in seven games. He has eight receptions of 20-plus yards and four receptions of 40-plus yards with 17 first downs. Tampa Bay has the third-worst passing defense at 274.7 yards per game and have allowed 21 receptions of 20-plus yards and five receptions of 40-plus yards. I’m not saying Ginn is going to outproduce Thomas. What I can almost guarantee, however, is the Tampa Bay poor secondary will pay more attention to Thomas, thus providing Ginn opportunities to make big plays in the home field where Brees has his best performances.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (vs. Los Angeles Rams)
Eli Manning has to throw the ball to someone. Might as well be Shepard considering Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris have season-ending injuries. Of Shepard’s 22 receptions for 263 yards (12-yard average) on the season, his best games were against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Dallas when he caught 19 receptions for 231 yards and one touchdown. Tampa Bay and Philadelphia have the third- and seventh-worst passing defenses, and Dallas is ranked No. 18 in yards per game. Like most arguments, this one has a downfall as well considering one of Shepard’s other opponents, No. 25 Detroit, held him to two receptions for 23 yards. But that was in Week 2 before the Giants’ wide receiver core was decimated. The No. 9 Rams allow 205 yards passing per game. Granted, starting Shepard as a WR2 or flex is far from ideal. But considering there are six teams on bye and league-wide injures, it’s hard to complain about a team’s WR1 – even if it’s the 1-6 Giants that were outgained 425-177 in total yards by Seattle in Week 7.
Other Players to Like
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston (vs. Indianapolis)
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland (at Miami)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina (vs. Atlanta)
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona (at San Francisco)
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona (vs. San Francisco)
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay (at New Orleans)
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle (vs. Washington)