Dolphins and Jets- Bilal Powell
With Matt Forte suffering a MCL injury last week, his status for this week remains very much in doubt as of this writing. It sounds like he’s going to try to tough it out but with the Jets on the hook for another year, don’t be surprised if they urge him to sit this one out. If he does convince the Jets he’s capable of playing, it’ll surely be in a limited capacity. That leaves the door open for an expanded role for Powell. He’s going to be a popular daily play this week and a high-end flex option for injury-battered playoff teams. The question with Powell is if he can do enough to earn a more prominent role on a different team? Can he follow in Chris Ivory‘s footsteps and let his production lead him out of town? If Powell were to not only help out championship rosters but do enough to deserve a pay day, he could flirt with RB1 status if the stars align in 2017. Can Powell convince maybe even the fellow New Yorkers in blue that he can be a stud?
Eagles and Ravens- Jordan Matthews
When considering the state of the Philadelphia offense, the struggles of a rookie quarterback, and the season long battle against injury, Matthews actually has been pretty solid. With 65 catches and 765 yards, Matthews can still hit the 80-reception mark and go over the 1,000 yard wall. This week, he’ll be highly targeted by Carson Wentz against the tough Ravens defense. Normally, this would be a stay away scenario but much of Matthews’ potential rides on the availability of Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith. Smith has played with such ability that he’s even managed to keep Antonio Brown in check, never mind Matthews. If Smith sits, then Matthews should be active in all lineups considering the target volume that Wentz throws his way. He needs a couple really good games down the stretch to save face for 2017 as many, if not all owners, have been disappointed with their draft pick investment. Play Matthews with high expectations if Smith sits. If he fails to come through in a favorable situation, his draft stock will plummet next year.
Packers and Bears- Alshon Jeffery
There may not be another team riddled with so many long-term questions heading into next season. Chances are we’ve seen Cutler throw his last pick in Chicago. Kevin White‘s availability and overall success remains very much in flux. Add in the pending payoff for Jeffery and things quickly get blurred. Will Chicago be willing to pay Jeffery big time money after all the injuries, the suspension, and the overflowing toilet at the quarterback position? Or, will Chicago cut bait with Jeffery as they attempt to rebuild over the next few seasons? Jeffery should do both us and himself a huge favor and play his way out of Chicago. If he were to go gangbusters to end the year, his price tag may become too rich for the Bears to match or counter. We’re all hoping that he contributes for us with after taking a four game vacation as he should quickly become good friends with quarterback Matt Barkley. He could find himself in the WR1 category once more if he finds a new home somewhere like Tampa Bay or Philadelphia.
Titans and Chiefs- Marcus Mariota
Mariota’s season may go down as the quietest 30 plus touchdown year in the history of fantasy football. With 25 passing scores and 2 more on the ground, the second year man only needs 3 additional scores over the next three weeks to hit 30 on the year. 30 touchdowns is typically the bench mark for a high end QB2/low end QB1. Think back to last season when Eli Manning threw for 35 touchdowns. That mark was the highest of his 13 year career and Mariota is flirting with that mark in just year two. If the Titans’ quarterback can average two scores a game for the next 3 weeks, he’ll be just short of Manning’s 2015 touchdown total. That would have Mariota firmly entrenched as a QB1 on draft day next season. If the Titans were to add to their offensive personnel, for example the aforementioned Alshon Jeffery, Mariota could find himself inside the top ten. It starts here in what should be a frost bitten, bitter cold contest against the Chiefs. No excuses though as failing to score two here will likely put the 33 total score line out of reach.
Lions and Giants- Matthew Stafford
RnF pointed out the week that his finger injury occurred that owners of Derek Carr needed to proceed with extreme caution. Carr wants to be tough and gut it out because after all, it’s just pain in one finger. But that discomfort leads to mechanical adjustments that a player has never dealt with before. With Carr, he’s standoffish about accepting the snap and his pinky seems to be off the ball when throwing, limiting his accuracy and deep ball ability. Last week, Carr buried owners in the first round of the playoffs against the Chiefs due in part to his finger problem. Here, we have very similar circumstances with Stafford. Personally, we’d avoid Stafford at all costs as his finger injury includes torn tendons as compared to Carr’s dislocation. Stafford has been wearing a glove this week at practice and that alone will alter how he throws the ball. It’s never a good sign to see a player who has played their entire career without using a glove suddenly needing one. One wack on the head of a helmet or awkward fall on the turf could be all she wrote for Stafford’s day. We’d rather see how he plays for one week before relying on him.