As we near the halfway point of the 2017 season, the fantasy landscape lies in shambles.
The No. 1 running back and top pick overall (running back David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals) has been sidelined since Week 1 with a dislocated wrist. The Cardinals ground game had suffered so badly without him that the Redbirds swung a trade for Adrian Peterson, who turned back the clock with a 134-yard, two touchdown performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first game with the team.
The top quarterback (Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers) could be sidelined for the rest of the season after breaking his collarbone in Week 6. Not only does Rodgers’ injury blow a huge hole in many a fantasy lineup, but his absence also casts a pall across the likes of Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.
Not that they are the only receivers hurting. Option numero uno at that position on some boards (Odell Beckham of the New York Giants) was lost for the season with a fractured ankle back in Week 5.
In other words, there are fantasy squads all over the place trying desperately to hold it together with duct tape and hope – trying to withstand these hammer-blows and sneak into the playoffs. To hold it together as their team falls apart.
I’m guessing most of them most assuredly do not feel fine.
And in order to do that, it’s more important than ever to hit on lineup decisions – to squeeze every point possible out of a roster that’s not firing on all cylinders.
With a bit of good fortune, I hope to be of assistance in that regard.
So as the smoke clears from yet another major injury, let’s get back after it.
Tom Brady, New England (vs. Atlanta)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (at Green Bay)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at New England)
Deshaun Watson, Houston (BYE)
OFF THE LIST: Aaron Rodgers (vs. New Orleans): The Packers can spin and fans can hope until both are Smurf-blue in the face. But the reality is that with Rodgers’ injury requiring surgery the odds of him playing again in 2017 fall somewhere between slim and none.
SPOT START OF THE WEEK
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (vs. Tampa Bay)
Per Heath Cummings of CBS Sports, fantasy owners who stream their quarterback will be hard-pressed to do better than Taylor in Week 7. “Taylor and the Bills return from the bye to face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is playing its second straight road game,” he said. “The Buccaneers are allowing more than 300 passing yards per game this year and a quarterback rating of 104. Taylor’s rushing prowess gives him a nice floor and this defense gives him all the ceiling you could want.”
Those numbers really don’t tell the whole story as to just how bad the Tampa defense has been this year. There’s one other stat that helps to that should be of particular interest to fantasy owners – in Sharks League Scoring so far this season, only the New England Patriots have surrendered more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Bucs.
ROLL THEM OUT
Kirk Cousins, Washington (at Philadelphia)
There are a great many things the Eagles have done well en route to their 5-1 start. No team in the National Football League has been harder to run against. That should mean a boatload of pass attempts Monday night against an Eagles secondary that’s their weak spot (fifth-most fantasy points given up to quarterbacks in 2017).
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (vs. Arizona)
After a hot start Goff has cooled off considerably of late – he threw for just 124 yards a week ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars and hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Week 4. This week’s trip to London presents a good opportunity to bounce back – the Cardinals were just shredded through the air by the immortal Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (at Cleveland)
Despite clearly not being himself and not really using his mobility at all, Mariota was still able to put up over 300 passing yards last week against the Indianapolis Colts. Look for a similar effort this week in Cleveland against the Browns, who are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the quarterback position this season.
SIT THEM DOWN
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis (vs. Jacksonville)
Usually I’d file this under “goes without saying,” but given injuries and with Detroit and Houston on a bye this week (no Matt Stafford or Deshaun Watson) there just might be someone desperate enough to consider Brissett as a spot-start. Don’t. Not against a Jaguars defense that’s 32nd in both passing yards and fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at Pittsburgh)
With the Bengals showing some signs of life before their bye, Dalton’s another middling option some might be considering for spot start detail. Once again, don’t. The Steelers just shut down Alex Smith, they have been very stingy to fantasy quarterbacks and Dalton has averaged less than 220 passing yards in 12 career matchups with Pittsburgh.