Texans and Jaguars – Chris Ivory
Now that’s what we’ve been waiting for all season long. Finally, a bulldozing effort by one of the most physical runners in the league. Yeah, the lost fumble in the end zone was huge, but so were the 100-plus rushing yards. The Jaguars are still struggling on offense as they should look to build upon Ivory’s success to establish balance. Not only balance, but an established run game will make defenses bite on the play action. Having defenders clog the middle while Blake Bortles rolls out to find Julius Thomas or Allen Robinson would have the big plays returning to the Jacksonville offense. It all starts with Ivory repeating last week’s success. If he can rumble and bumble for another 100 yards he’ll undoubtedly earn a larger weekly workload. By balancing out the offense he’ll become a RB2 for our purposes. It’s all on Ivory to return to 2015 form and truck his way into our lineups for our championship run.
Broncos and Saints – Emmanuel Sanders
If there were ever the opportunity for Sanders to post a vintage WR1 game, it would be here against the lowly Saints defense. Last week, Sanders wasted a great matchup against the Raiders as he was only able to put up 47 yards on the day. Yes, the majority of the problems rest squarely on quarterback Trevor Siemian‘s shoulders but Sanders has to pull himself up by the boot straps and start gaining yards after the catch to make up for it. He has to put on the jets and chase down a few of Siemian’s off-target passes and then break big yardage in order to save his floundering fantasy value. Time is beginning to run out as we’re now just four weeks away from the playoffs. Can you trust Sanders in your fantasy lineup when it’s elimination time? Can we set high expectations when he faces off against Jacksonville and Tennessee later in the year? How Sanders performs here will set the bar for our expectations when you absolutely can’t afford a loss.
Steelers and Cowboys – Ben Roethlisberger
Week 9 against the Ravens is the worst that we can recall Big Ben ever playing. His passes were way off target and often times down in the dirt. He salvaged his day with some garbage time scores when Baltimore went into prevent defense, but overall, his day was less than ideal. We have to wonder how long this knee injury will prevent Roethlisberger from returning to his normal self. Having a quarterback in your lineup that can’t hit his valuable target in Antonio Brown down the field is a huge burden to endure. Dallas has played splendid defense to this point but they are dealing with injuries all over their defense, including their secondary. If Roethlisberger looks the same as he did last week it’ll be time to panic. You may need to pull the trigger on a trade before your deadline to ensure you have a QB capable of keeping up with the high-end options that you’ll be facing off against in the playoffs. Do you want to go toe to toe with the owners who have Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees with an ineffective Roethlisberger? Let’s hope that a week further removed from injury is all the Steelers’ quarterback needs to return to QB1 status.
49ers and Cardinals – John Brown
Coming off the bye, what are we to expect the Cardinals’ passing game to look like? They’ve struggled a lot this season and save for Larry Fitzgerald, every passing option has been a let down. Clearly, Carson Palmer is not the same player he was last season, but even an average quarterback should be able to move the ball with these elite targets. With Fitzgerald firmly established on the outside, this week is Brown’s chance to re-establish himself opposite of Fitz. He had 49 yards with a touchdown last game and he’s still dealing with hamstring issues. Hopefully, the week of rest is just what the doctor ordered and he can get back to being a weekly play. Having already unseated Michael Floyd as the starter, Brown still needs to fend off J.J. Nelson as the second option for Palmer. It would be very uplifting if Brown could go off here. When we look forward to approaching contests, you can’t help but get a fluttery feeling in your gut. Brown will be facing the Falcons, Redskins, Dolphins, Saints, and Rams down the stretch. If Brown can put up solid WR2 numbers against San Fran here, he’ll end up serving as WR2 spot play for a few weeks during our playoffs.
Falcons and Eagles – Jordan Matthews
Matthews has been the only Eagles’ fantasy option that’s worth starting every week. Every other Eagles option is so hit and miss that they’re best saved for matchup-based opportunities in daily and borderline not roster worthy for yearly leagues. While Matthews may be the fantasy MVP of the Eagles, he’s still been a letdown from what we were hoping for in regards to production. He is on pace for 1,000 yards but he’s walking a very thin line in doing so. This week, facing off against one of the most underrated corners in the league in Desmond Trufant, Matthews could find himself off that pace in a big way. The 1,000 yard marker has long since been a rule of thumb for what should be viewed as a successful year for a wide receiver. With only 3 touchdowns on the year, it doesn’t look as though Matthews is going to suddenly surge for multiple touchdowns and save his overall numbers. Getting shutdown by Trufant here would put Matthews on pace for something much closer to 850-900 yards. Matthews will need to chip away at a big day by catching everything thrown his way. We’re hoping that Matthews goes for 10 catches for 90 yards in the same way he did against Dallas two weeks ago as Atlanta will look to keep him from making huge plays. Matthews’ day here will determine if he’s either a good WR2 pick or a fringe draft day bust.