Even at this late stage in the season, we have two players listed in our top category. These two players can be picked up from waivers and dropped right into a starting fantasy lineup as they will have an immediate and long-term fantasy impact for their teams. This week is heavy on wide receivers, though we do have a couple of running backs sprinkled in along with a handful of tight ends.
This week’s column was written while wondering if coach Gary Kubiak’s fantasy opponent this week had Peyton Manning in his starting lineup. There is really no other reason that Manning was kept in that game for so long, especially given the fact that he knew that Manning was fighting through injury and had not practiced much during the week. I give props for Manning for wanting to play in the game, as any competitive player would do, but it was up to the coach to keep an eye on him early on and make a determination that he was not at 100 percent and was hurting his team in a big way. Such a shame that on a day he breaks the record, he will be remembered for throwing almost as many completions to the defense as he did to his own teammates.
While we are randomly thinking out loud, were the two best teams playing each other at MetLife Stadium this Sunday evening? Apologies to Carolina and Cincinnati, but I’m just not a buyer of those two teams right now. Sure, Cam Newton is a great “MVP Runner Up” candidate, but it was the New England Patriots and New York Giants that went toe-to-toe for a full 60 minutes with each team pulling out all the stops to try and pick up a victory. In the end, it was the Patriots that prevailed, but only by the slimmest of margins.
Both those teams have the offensive firepower to score points, defenses that can get the job done when needed, and special teams that perform in the clutch. Most importantly, those teams have excellent coaches, which seems to be a rarity in this year’s NFL. Who is beating the Giants in a playoff game? Possibly Carolina, especially at home.
The Green Bay Packers are fading in a big way, Seattle and Arizona are in the mix, but to me it looks like Giants in the NFC. The AFC teams are also dropping by the wayside, with the Denver Broncos failing badly. The Pittsburgh Steelers are there, Indianapolis maybe if it can rebound, Cincinnati is in the mix. Can any of them win in Foxborough? Time will tell.
On to this week’s wonders …
WR Danny Amendola, New England
Another week and another major loss for the New England Patriots on offense, this week losing Julian Edelman for likely the rest of the regular season. Edelman left in the first half, giving Amendola the opportunity to perform on the big stage, and he was up to the task putting up a line that included 10 catches for 79 yards. One of those was a key 4th-and-10 conversion to keep the game-winning drive alive, so Tom Brady already has a confidence that Amendola can do the job. New England continues to be a pass-first offense, so look for Amendola to be a key player for them the rest of this season.
WR Dwayne Harris, New York Giants
Putting last week’s disappointing game behind him, Harris was one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets against New England. He hauled in six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. And on an afternoon where Odell Beckham Jr. drew the attention of the defense, it was Harris who was available in all other areas of the field. He has put Rueben Randle behind him, and now that Victor Cruz has shut it down for the season, look for Harris to be the second banana to Beckham Jr. after the Giants’ come off their bye week.
RB Jay Ajayi, Miami
The Miami Dolphins are on record as saying they want to get the rookie more touches, and against Philadelphia he gained more yards than starter Lamar Miller. Given only six carries, he tallied 48 yards giving him a total of just under 90 yards on 11 carries over two games. Miller is getting the stats in the air, but Miami has nothing to lose by giving Ajayi a few more chances to carry the ball. This has the potential to be a 50-50 split at minimum, with the rookie having a chance to make it much more if he continues to out-gain Miller.
WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle
Russell Wilson has been up and down for Seattle this year, bringing down the fantasy value of all the pass catchers in Seattle. Against Arizona this past week, it was Doug Baldwin who emerged as their top threat, as he brought in seven catches for 134 yards and a score. These were the numbers that Baldwin started out the season putting up, but we haven’t seen them since Week 2. Baldwin is worth grabbing off waivers and holding to see if he and Wilson can hook up on a more regular basis.
WR Wes Welker, St. Louis
We had Welker listed in our lowest category this week, as we thought his signing was more curious than serious. After he caught three passes for 32 yards against Chicago, he gets bumped up a couple of categories for a repeat listing. St. Louis has its difficulties throwing the ball as Nick Foles has not looked good, but the competition at wide receiver is minimal so we see Welker as getting more involved in the offense as he gets more familiar with the plays.