What games and players should we be keeping tabs on now in order to flatten the competition later?
Kamar Aiken vs The Jacksonville Jaguars
We are to a point now where there is almost literally no one else to catch passes from Joe Flacco. With Steve Smith gone for the year and any hopeful return of Dennis Pitta now officially out of the question, there are around 20 targets a game up for grabs. The next in line to step into the primary target role looks to be wideout Kamar Aiken. This will be a very telling week as to what we can expect from Aiken with the fantasy playoffs rapidly approaching. Aiken can either prove himself a useful commodity this week or a waste of a “confirm move” click. If you have the roster space, hold onto to Aiken this week while also stashing Marlon Brown in the event that the targets sway in his favor.
James Starks vs The Detroit Lions
There was an obvious need for a change in the Packers’ backfield. The designation of Starks as the “starting” back means that the coaching staff is trying to motivate former bell cow Eddie Lacy to step his game up. After the move, however, Lacy is quoted as saying that he doesn’t know what is causing his lack of production. We all assumed it was an injury but such a statement mixed with the clear frustration from the coaching staff could mean that Lacy is simply not performing without any given reason. If Starks can play well in both aspects of the offense, Lacy’s role could further diminish next week. By season’s end, Lacy could turn into a member of a full-on RBBC approach where he sees the lesser percentage of carries. Lacy could find himself in a Trent Richardson kind of scenario if Starks were to keep up the pace this weekend.
Devin Funchess vs The Tennessee Titans
Well, well, well….look who decided to show. It only took almost 10 weeks but Funchess actually contributed to the offense and to fantasy owners alike. His stock is on the rise and another week of above average production could move him into the top 30 wide receiver rankings for Week 11. Cam Newton is a doing a lot with a little and anyone that can step up will likely become a reliable commodity for fantasy purposes. If Newton can make Ted Ginn Jr. a semi-reliable producer, imagine what he could do with a productive 6’5″ receiver. Maybe Funchess can do a Kelvin Benjamin impression for the rest of the year? Maybe Funchess does nothing and continues to float with the likes of Nelson Agholor as unimpressive rookies? Either outcome, Funchess will see a value swing this week.
Brandin Cooks vs The Washington Redskins
Right around the time that everyone jumped off the Cooks bandwagon is right around the time Cooks finally started to produce. Cooks has been stellar over the past three games as he’s looking more and more like the player we expected when selecting him as a borderline WR1. Perhaps this was all due to the shoulder injury of Drew Brees. Maybe it was due to not having a respected wide receiver playing opposite of him until the emergence of Willie Snead. What ever the reasoning may be, patient owners have been relishing in the recent production. Another game of seeing Cooks go for 100 and a score will push him inside the top 15 wide receivers again and on the edge of the top 10. Smart owners who picked up Cooks after hasty owners dropped him or moved him on the cheap could have their championship scales tip on the production of Cooks down the stretch. A 40-yard day will leave owners racking their brains with what to do once the playoffs hit.
Travis Kelce vs The Denver Broncos
At the beginning of the year, it was thought that Kelce would become Gronk-ish and tear through defenses for massive amounts of production on a weekly basis. We were right in thinking that someone would step up this year and resemble Gronkowski, we were just wrong with who it would be. At this point, the only person that seems capable of holding a candle to the Patriots’ tight end is the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert. Kelce isn’t out of it yet though, as his skill set plays directly into what Alex Smith specializes in and the loss of Jamaal Charles leaves a lot of targets still up for grabs.
Time still remains but the hour glass has minimal sand left. Kelce has to pull through this week as the Chiefs face off against the always tough Broncos. In a game that will require the Chiefs to throw the ball to stay in it, while Denver also limits the outside receiving options, Kelce should be the number one most involved offensive weapon on Sunday. If he goes for 50 yards in a game where he is needed the most by his actual team, how can he be trusted on our fantasy teams in our most valuable contests?