We obviously would love a larger sample size from this year, but Dukie getting the work that he did as soon as Hue Jackson was fired and Freddie Kitchens took over as OC doesn’t seem like a coincidence. We know that he’s going to be on the field with Atlanta most likely getting to a lead, and he’ll be getting opportunity against a team who is giving up the most receptions and targets to RBs, and the fourth most receiving yards to RBs. Whether you already had him or picked him up, if you’re not starting him against the Falcons, you probably never will. Much preferred in PPR.
It’s been a bumpy 2018 for Coleman, even with Devonta Freeman sidelined this year. He had two good fantasy weeks in a row, but the 13 and 11 touches he had before the bye wasn’t encouraging. Last week, he saw 18 touches against the Redskins after his bye, so we can hope for the same this week against the Browns, who’ve been allowing the 3rd most rushing attempts and the most rushing TDs against them.
With Ty Montgomery out of this backfield, Jones’ snap share and volume is a lot more predictable. With some negative game scripts out of the way against the Rams and Patriots, the Packers’ schedule gets a bit easier, starting this week with the Dolphins at home. Jones should clear 15 carries in this one, and producing on that volume shouldn’t be an issue against a team giving up 5.7 yards per carry over the last three games. The upside is there for Jones this week.
Ridley was targeted 9 times last week after the Falcons came out of their bye, as he had an advantage on the outside against the Redskins. This week, he has an advantage once again on the right side of the field, where he lines up for a majority of his routes. The Browns have given up the 4th most fantasy points to WRs lining up on that side for the season, and the 2nd most over the last 4 weeks. The 9 targets last week was very encouraging, and he should be targeted a ton this week while Julio Jones is shadowed by Denzel Ward… not that Ward has a chance against Julio.
We have a little bit of clarity from this backfield, and even with the Titans up all game last week, it was Dion Lewis as the primary RB. 19 carries along with 4 catches is very encouraging usage, and we’ve always known that he was the most versatile back involved in both facets of the offense. Even if you’re not sold on the offense, 20+ touches a week with a good percentage of that coming in the passing game is very start worthy on a weekly basis. Against the Patriots this week, we know that even if the Titans go up, Derrick Henry will hardly see the field, and Lewis should see targets to try and come back in this game.
Jacksonville’s allowing 4.5 yards per carry over the last 3 games, 4.2 for the year too, so this is not a bad matchup for Mack. The Jags have the aura of a great defense, but they’ve been in the middle of the pack this year, especially in the run game. The Jaguars haven’t been great on offense, and having a healthy Leonard Fournette doesn’t necessarily make it that much better, so the Colts will stay in this game and Mack should have an opportunity to continue seeing touches throughout. He’s averaging 24 touches over his last two games; you might have other options, but don’t bench him because you think the Jaguars defense is still elite.
Assuming Chris Carson is out this week, Mike Davis is a pretty good start after the game he had last week. The potential for 20+ touches is very intriguing in this offense, because Seattle RBs have performed when given that opportunity. 22 touches last week for Davis after Carson already had 8 carries is very encouraging going into this week. Even if Seattle goes down, Davis should still be involved after catching 7 of 8 targets a week ago. This backfield is in complete flux at all times, and we can never trust Pete Carroll when it comes to the split in this backfield, but I would assume Davis will at least be the 1a to Penny and I don’t want to leave 20+ touch upside on the bench.
Howard is TD dependent, no doubt, but he’s scored in three straight weeks, and if he didn’t fumble on the goal line in Week 6, it would’ve been four straight, and would’ve had one in five out of six. The Bears defense plays a big role in Howard’s success, so as long as this defense puts the offense in good positions, and this creative offense moves the ball, Howard is going to get those red zone opportunities. Detroit gives up 5 yards per carry, so Howard is in a good spot to put up a decent yardage number with a potential 15+ carries. The only worry would be that the Lions WRs on the outside get out to a big start against these corners that can be taken advantage of, and the Lions get up early. I just doubt that it happens in Chicago, where the Bears defense plays better.
Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk
I think it’s finally time where we can feel okay about starting Larry again. The Cardinals will almost definitely be in a negative game script and they’re going to have to throw it a ton. After getting 8, 8, and 12 targets over the last three weeks, and then finally catching 8 of 12 for 102 yards and a TD, Larry is looking like a red zone target for them. If you count the 2-pt conversion last week, he has 3 end zone catches in the last 2 weeks. He had an extra week to rest that hamstring during his bye, and the Cardinals probably re-worked that offense with Byron Leftwich re-implementing some of Bruce Arians’ concepts, so things are trending a bit positive overall for Larry and this offense. As far as Kirk goes, he’ll be lining up on Orlando Scandrick’s side of the field, where the Chiefs have given up the 7th most fantasy points over the last 4 weeks, so I would continue to feel confident in him in PPR leagues.
No AJ Green, he’s been killing it, and he goes up against the Saints. The Saints have given up the 5th most fantasy points to slot WRs over the last four weeks. Yes, he’s had a couple of not-so-great games, but I don’t see that as a reason to not have him in your lineup. He caught 9 of 10 for 138 yards and a TD before the bye in a great matchup, so I’m hoping for something similar this week. Even though he’s been outproducing AJ Green in fantasy, he’s now officially the #1 WR for the Bengals until Green is back.
Atlanta has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to slot WRs this year, and with the Browns likely in a negative game script, Landry should be able to produce on his targets. Outside of last week, he’s had 10+ targets six weeks in a row. He should get back to that this week.
The Eagles struggle on the perimeter, particularly on Jalen Mills’ side. It’s possible that Rasul Douglas plays that side due to Mills’ foot injury. Side note, Mills did not practice on Thursday, which is not a good sign for his availability, although it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he played. Either way, the Eagles have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs on that side of the field, and Cooper lined up on that side 50% of the time last week in his Cowboys’ debut. While he might not get 10+ targets, but he can be just fine on 6-8.
Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay
These two finally have a decent matchup. The Bears haven’t been great on the perimeter, giving up the 11th and 13th most fantasy points, respectively from left to right. Prince Amukamara’s side has gotten better, where Marvin Jones has lined up, and I’m less worried about him. We would love to see Golladay get some targets, and while his numbers have been a little worrisome, this is a get right matchup for him against Kyle Fuller, whose side of the field has given up the 8th most fantasy points over the last 4 weeks. Golden Tate is gone, it’ll be tough for the Lions to run the ball against Chicago at home, so the Lions will need to throw it.
You’re most likely starting Cooks, but in case you wanted to know what his matchup was like, he has a great one on his left side against Seattle; the Seahawks have given up the 5th most fantasy points over the last 8 weeks to that side of the field.
Gordon lines up on Malcolm Butler’s side of the field about 60% of the time, and he has a chance of killing it against him. The Titans have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs lining up on that side of the field, so Gordon can build off the momentum from last week. He’s off the injury report now, so that hamstring injury is a thing of the past. He has some real upside this week.
We want to think that Fournette will be the workhorse, but will Carlos Hyde and TJ Yeldon there, will he? That’s the only reason that he’s more of a desperate start. Otherwise, the matchup is fine, and he should get goal line work. The Jaguars have had one of the biggest percentage of their TDs come through the air, so they would have to switch up their philosophy a bit for Fournette to get those red zone carries. If you can afford to wait it out, I would because of the above and a chance of re-aggravation, but the Colts are not a bad matchup to play him in.
Jalen Richard (PPR)
The Raiders are terrible, and Richard should be the guy on the field a ton sooner than later after the Chargers get up big. Derek Carr loves to check it down, so Richard should be able to rack up 5-10 catches in this game. I wouldn’t recommend playing him in standard leagues, but he’s a decent start in PPR with a safe floor.
The Dolphins have been very stout against WRs this year, but they’re going up against Aaron Rodgers this week, who loves his WRs. MVS has produced in the last four games, and it’ll be tough to bet against him and Rodgers. The connection is there, and because he hasn’t had any high reception games while playing on the outside, he’s probably a better play in standard leagues because of it. He’s still a good bet because you’re betting on Aaron Rodgers.
As we saw with Jordan Howard last week, there’s a potential for short fields with Buffalo’s ineptitude on offense. Crowell is the goal line back, so with Josh McCown starting this week, the Jets have a better chance of getting there. If the Jets defense holds it down, there’s a chance Crowell can as well. He’s completely TD dependent, but there’s a chance he sees volume.
Smith isn’t seeing enough volume to feel confident in starting him, but if you’re desperate, this week would probably be the point to start him against this Browns team that’s allowing the 3rd most rushing attempts and the most rushing TDs. He’s used in the red zone at times, so at least you have the hope at another TD; he’s had 4 in 5 games.
Where was he this whole time while Jamison Crowder sat? One reason could be that he hasn’t had good matchups out of the slot until last week. Carolina, Dallas, and the Giants are all defending the slot pretty well, but the Redskins chose to take advantage of his matchup against the Falcons. This week, the Redskins go up against a Bucs team who has given up the most fantasy points to slot WRs, so we can see another high volume game. Vegas sees this one as a high scoring affair at 51.5 points. If there’s any concern of Harris playing on the outside, Jay Gruden said that it will happen once Crowder gets back, at which point I won’t be interested. He’s closer to a flier this week, but if you need a PPR bye week fill-in, he’s not a bad option after going catching 10 of 12 targets for 124 yards last week. A note is that Crowder is dressed for practice on Thursday, so keep an eye on his status for this week before starting Harris. Preferred in PPR.
I know, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. 10 touches last week is not what you want to see, but this week can be a run-heavy week for New Orleans against Cincinnati. He saw 16 touches the week before, and he even saw a few red zone touches last week. Alvin Kamara is preferred in any game situation, including goal line, but he’ll still likely get around 15 touches in one of the best offenses in the league. If Kamara gets them inside the 5 after a big play, Ingram still has a chance of getting touches in that area. He’s a very desperate play, but I just want to point out that he’s not unplayable.
Drake’s 3 carries last week was very discouraging, but at least we have a little bit of a role distinction with him out-targeting Gore 33-13 in the pass game over the past 5 games, and 6-1 last week. One would assume the Packers will go up in this game, with the Dolphins trying to catch up, so Drake would be the guy on the field in the second half. If you’re in a PPR league, Drake can actually have a decent floor in this game along with the upside we’ve seen from him in random games this season. If you’re in need of a back during your bye week, Drake can actually return for you this week. Much preferred in PPR.
With Raheem Mostert out for the season and Matt Breida getting in a couple of games without re-aggravating his ankle injury, hopefully we can get a full game out of Breida without a threat of a better RB taking his job. Alfred Morris should get some touches, but Breida can be efficient with 10-15 touches against a team that just traded run-stuffer Snacks Harrison. Breida has seen a goal line carry here and there, so he has a little bit of upside.
Smith has been somewhat disappointing in the fact that he didn’t make a splash after Ted Ginn went on IR, but I don’t think we should give up on him because of how many snaps he’s playing right now. The Bengals as a whole have been terrible against WRs, and Dre Kirkpatrick’s side of the field has given up the most fantasy points over the last 4 weeks and the 3rd most overall this year. Smith lines up on that side on a majority of his snaps, so we can see some shots taken downfield to Smith. He can make plays, and while a big game didn’t happen last week in a decent spot, it can happen this week.
Miller’s production has increased over the last few weeks, and yes, Allen Robinson should be back this week, but he’ll be shadowed by Darius Slay. It’s not a terrible matchup but Robinson gets a downgrade, while Miller has a good one in the slot, where the Lions have given up the 9th most fantasy points to slot WRs over the last 4 weeks, and the 12th most over the last 8. Miller doesn’t have a really high floor, but in a PPR league, he’s a desperate play for a combo floor and upside play. The Lions are tough on the perimeter, so Miller can have a bigger role in this game.
The Redskins have struggled on the perimeter, giving up the 4th most fantasy points to WRs on both the left and right sides of the field. It sucks that Godwin only had 3 targets last week, but the Panthers have good corners on the outside. We’re not going to use one game and say okay, Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t like his WRs anymore. He’s had a TD in each of the first three games with Fitz, so I’m back on Godwin as not a must-start, but a good start if you need some help at WR during some byes or if you need a flex this week.
The Browns have made it a point to give their early down back carries, regardless of whether they’re down or not, so you have that going for you. The Falcons have given up a lot of fantasy points to RBs because of the amount of TDs, receptions, and reception yards they’ve given up, but they’ve given up the 9th least rushing yards and the 6th least rushing attempts. I’m not sitting Chubb, but if you have a decision to make between him and someone else, it’s something to consider. He’s probably tough to bench, as Atlanta does give up a good amount of yards per attempt.
Mixon is a good play, but keep in mind that the Saints have one of the best defensive fronts in the league, and have been stout against the run. The encouraging thing about Mixon is that he’s on the field in passing situations, so he can rack up some catches in that area, and will still get goal line looks. The Bengals should be able to move the ball even without AJ Green against this defense through the air, and Mixon can find himself in some opportune positions. We still have to temper expectations though because of the likelihood he doesn’t produce in the run game.
Tampa Bay’s run defense has gotten worse, giving up 5.3 yards per attempt over the last 3 games, but the Redskins offensive line has some real issues after a few injuries. That combined with the Bucs potentially going up in the game would limit Peterson’s volume. It’s also possible the Redskins hold the fort in Tampa, but that’s a big if after Atlanta was able to handle them defensively pretty well last week. You might have to start him because of your lack of other options, but it’s tough to know which type of performance you’ll see from him. The Redskins have a lack of playmakers on offense with all the injuries, but this Bucs defense isn’t great, so Peterson can see a goal line look or two.
If Michel is active, he should be started. The Patriots are favored in Tennessee, and they should be able to get a lead and maintain it with Michel grinding away. It would be tough to bench a guy averaging 22 carries in the 3 games prior to his injury on this offense. However, the Titans have been stout against the run, giving up only 3.5 yards per carry over the last three weeks; their supposedly good run defense was suspect until they actually went up against a legit RB last week, when they limited Zeke to 17 carries for 61 yards. Regardless, Michel is the favorite for goal line work, and we know the Patriots are going to be in the red zone more often than not.
Hilton will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, so it’s obviously a tough matchup. Hilton has burned Ramsey on a TD or two in the past, so it’s not a definite bust game for Hilton. It’s tough to bench him, but he’s only seen 9 targets combined over the last two games. They did have a bye, so he’s probably completely healthy, and I’m sure they figured out how to get him open against this shadow coverage.
Davis will most likely be shadowed by Stephon Gilmore, who’s been amazing in coverage this season. Davis caught two TDs against the Patriots in the playoffs last year, but both were against Malcolm Butler, with the second one coming with the Patriots up by 4 TDs already. The Pats like to take away the #1 option, and Davis is that guy. If you have another option, I won’t be mad if you want to bench him this week. The silver lining is that he’ll still probably see 8+ targets.
Johnson was still involved in the pass game on early downs, and Theo Riddick lined up as a WR a few times with Johnson still on the field last week, but Riddick’s return had Johnson limited to only 56% of snaps. It’s still a relatively healthy share, but his upside is limited, especially against a Bears defense giving up only 3.3 yards per carry over the last 3 games and 3.3 yards per carry overall at home. There isn’t much upside in the passing game either, as the Bears have given up only 254 yards receiving to RBs, which is 5th best defensively. Even if they get near the goal line, he’s not the guy on the field, which adds to why I’ll be looking for another option.
Martin’s a tough sell this week against a Chargers team that should go up against the Raiders hapless defense. His ceiling is probably around 12-13 carries, and while he’s the favorite for goal line work, I’m not sure we should put him in our lineup in the hopes of that opportunity on an offense that has been struggling mightily.