The craziness that is fantasy football truly is like riding a hummingbird. It’s up. It’s down. It’s all over the place but it’s always a heck of a ride. Trying to pin down a pattern to the 2016 season is a maddening task as top performing positions continue to alter on a weekly basis.
Take the running back position for example. In Week 7, there were 13 different running backs who posted at least 100 total yards from scrimmage. That number was 14 if you play in a league that granted Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery running back status. Last week, the number of running backs to garner at least 100 total yards fell to just eight. Some of that surely can be attributed to the fact that six teams were on a bye with this season’s weird NFL schedule.
So, I’m sure we will be in for another wacky week as once again six teams are on a bye. At least in Week 10 we return to a bit of normalcy with only four teams sitting out.
Let’s do this!
Moving On Up
Marcus Mariota – After struggling out of the gate, Mariota has been consistently putting up strong fantasy totals over the last four games. In that time, he has put up a total of 11 touchdowns (one rushing score) and turned the ball over only twice. Mariota is a Top 10 quarterback on the season and is definitely trending upwards. The reemergence of wide receiver Kendall Wright as an offensive weapon further bolsters Mariota’s value. The youngster is now a weekly must start in all scoring formats.
Dak Prescott, DALLAS at Cleveland – Dallas has stated that Prescott will be the starting quarterback this week and that’s music to fantasy owners’ ears. Prescott has wide receiver Dez Bryant back on the field and has been getting it done with his arm and legs through seven games. He has thrown for nine touchdowns and leads all quarterbacks in rushing scores with four. This week he faces an anemic Cleveland defense (even with the addition of linebacker Jamie Collins) that is a Top 5 matchup in allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks. Cleveland allows an average of 288 passing yards per game and has given up 19 touchdown passes through eight weeks this season.
Jameis Winston, TAMPA BAY vs. Atlanta – The foot injury suffered by running back Jacquizz Rodgers last week will likely mean the handcuffs come off of Winston a bit this week. The trio of Mike James, Antone Smith and Peyton Barber will struggle to form a consistent running game leading to more passing attempts for Winston. Atlanta is a very juicy matchup as the team has given up three or more touchdown passes in 5-of-8 games this season. When these teams met back in Week 1, Winston threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns. We see similar numbers in this week’s showdown.
Sam Bradford, MINNESOTA vs. Detroit – We chased the Detroit defense last week with Brock Osweiler and he let us down. So why do so again with a lackluster Bradford? The difference is that Houston was able to run the ball and limit Osweiler’s passing attempts as the trio of backs accumulated 108 yards on the ground with a score. Minnesota has no running game to speak of and will rely on Bradford to get it done at home this week. Detroit has allowed 19 passing touchdowns and cannot cover the tight end position (more on that later). There is also the chance that cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) is unable to play after sitting out last week. Bradford will have a nice fantasy outing at home this week.
Eli Manning, NEW YORK GIANTS vs. Philadelphia – At first glance the Philadelphia defense/special teams seems to be a tough matchup for quarterbacks, having allowed only nine touchdowns to the position in seven games. A closer look reveals that all nine of those scores have come in the last four games and quarterbacks are averaging 253 total yards per game in that time. While Manning has tossed only four touchdown passes in his last three games, I see him having a breakout game and hooking up frequently with Odell Beckham Jr. against a struggling Philadelphia defense.
Russell Wilson, SEATTLE vs. Buffalo – Despite the recent reports that Wilson will soon be shedding his knee brace (he’s already lost the ankle brace), he just can’t be trusted as a starting option. Last week was a prime matchup for Wilson to shine against a weak New Orleans defense and once again he fell flat on his face. He has not put up a single touchdown in the last three games and the passing offense is absolutely out of sync. Despite giving up four touchdown passes to Tom Brady last week, the Buffalo defense has only allowed six touchdowns to quarterbacks in the last six games. Wilson belongs on the bench until we see vast improvement in his play.
Blake Bortles, JACKSONVILLE at Kansas City – Yes, I realize that Bortles finished last week as a Top 5 fantasy scoring quarterback. Yes, we all know that he continues to look lost and that it was pure and simply garbage-time production that led to that finish. Kansas City isn’t likely to get out to as big of a lead with its conservative offense that may be without both Jamaal Charles (knee) and Spencer Ware (concussion). Kansas City will likely put cornerback Marcus Peters on Allen Robinson (more on that later), forcing the inaccurate Bortles to look elsewhere as Peters is a ball hawk. On the road, Bortles will struggle again and likely turn the ball over a time or two … or three.
Tyrod Taylor, BUFFALO at Seattle – We don’t like either quarterback in this matchup. Buffalo is so thin at wide receiver due to injuries that the team actually signed the recently un-retired Percy Harvin. After dropping a close game to New Orleans on the road, the Seattle defense is going to be an angry bunch at home in Week 9. Taylor will be hard-pressed to put up much production against a defense that has allowed just seven total touchdowns to quarterbacks through seven games. We can safely sit both quarterbacks in this matchup.
Trevor Siemian, DENVER at Oakland – Oakland has been very generous to the quarterback position to date, giving up 17 total touchdowns this season. Oakland has been a bit better in the last three weeks having allowed an average of just one score per game to the position. The problem with Siemian is that he is nothing more than a game manager and rarely attacks defenses vertically. He averages less than 7.0 yards per pass attempt and is a dink-and-dunk machine. Denver will look to pound the ball with Devontae Booker (if his dinged up shoulder is OK) and Kapri Bibbs further capping Siemian’s fantasy outlook. There are just too many better options available to rely on the oh-so-mediocre Siemian this week.