NFL Week 10 / UFC 205 Predictions

We are now officially beyond the halfway point of the NFL season. Where is the time going? I have no idea, but I do know that we learned some things last week.

We learned that the Raiders are for real following a 30-20 domination of the defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos on Sunday night. We learned that the Lions might be the luckiest team in a long time, after defeating the Vikings in overtime to go to 5-4, despite trailing in the 4th Quarter of ALL NINE of their games. We learned that something is seriously wrong with the Packers, to the point where even Aaron Rodgers is (kinda) throwing his teammates under the bus.

We learned a lot, and we’ll probably learn even more this week. I’ll have my new Power Rankings, followed by a ranking of each of the eight divisions, and of course a Fantasy Start/Sit. I’ll also have a little something special for any UFC fans, as at the end of the post I’ll give a short preview and prediction for the biggest fights at the UFC’s first card in New York City taking place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Power Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Atlanta Falcons
  5. Seattle Seahawks
  6. Kansas City Chiefs
  7. Denver Broncos
  8. New York Giants
  9. Minnesota Vikings
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers
  11. Washington Redskins
  12. San Diego Chargers
  13. Philadelphia Eagles
  14. Green Bay Packers
  15. Houston Texans
  16. Detroit Lions
  17. New Orleans Saints
  18. Arizona Cardinals
  19. Indianapolis Colts
  20. Baltimore Ravens
  21. Cincinnati Bengals
  22. Carolina Panthers
  23. Buffalo Bills
  24. Miami Dolphins
  25. Chicago Bears
  26. Tennessee Titans
  27. New York Jets
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  29. Los Angeles Rams
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars
  31. Cleveland Browns
  32. San Francisco 49ers

 

NFL Division Rankings

Each season, we hear divisions referred to as the “best” or the “weakest.” Well, I’m here to try and settle the argument of which division is the best in the league this year, and also which is the worse, with the other six in between. From one to eight, here are how I think the divisions stack up at this point in the season.

1 – AFC West

There is no debate here, the AFC West is the best division in football. Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper have led a young Raiders team to a 7-2 start, and they head into their bye week in 1st Place. Right on their tails is the 6-2 Chiefs, who have a road victory over the Raiders already this season. The defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos are in 3rd Place at 6-3. That alone is reason enough for this division to be at the top. Sitting in last place in the 4-5 Chargers, who are without question the best team in the league that’s below .500.

2 – NFC East

There were a ton of questions about the teams in this division entering the season, but they have surpassed all expectations to this point. The 7-1 Cowboys are the biggest surprise of the season, led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. It was a slow start for the Giants, but they’re starting to round into form following a win over the last place Eagles, who are at 4-4 after starting the season 3-0 behind rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. The Redskins have been quietly putting together a good season, as they sit at 4-3-1 coming off their bye week.

3 – NFC North

The top two teams in the NFC North are starting to struggle a little bit, but I think both of those teams are still good enough to compete with any team in the league. The Vikings are in 1st Place, but they have lost three straight after winning their first five games. There is something very wrong with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense, but at 4-4, they still have time to figure it out and make it to the playoffs. The Lions have trailed in the 4th Quarter in all nine of their games. Remarkably they are 5-4, and they just got a huge OT road victory over the division-leading Vikings. The Bears are just 2-6, but Jay Cutler is back and they are coming off of a victory over the Vikings. They could be dangerous during the home stretch.

4 – NFC South

This was one of the weakest divisions in the league last year, despite the 15-1 Panthers, but this year it has gotten much better, despite the 3-5 Panthers. The Falcons have proven to be one of the top teams in football with road wins over the Raiders and Broncos, and the Saints’ offense is leading it to some nice wins, as they sit at 4-4 and right in the playoff mix. The Buccaneers have been really struggling lately, but they still have a shot to make some noise as well at 3-5.

5 – AFC East

The 7-1 Patriots are easily the best team in football, that cannot be disputed at this moment. The rest of this division, though, is pretty mediocre. The Bills have shown flashes, but they had a bad start and are in a bad rut right now. The Dolphins may have found something with running back Jay Ajayi, but they are just 4-4 and don’t seem like a legitimate playoff threat yet. The Jets had high hopes coming into the season, but a terrible secondary and mediocre quarterback play have doomed them thus far.

6 – AFC North

I do believe that the Steelers, when completely healthy, are probably one of the best teams in the league. But they are dealing with all sorts of injury issues right now, and they cannot win on the road. That could be a problem. The Ravens are in 1st Place, but are just 4-4 on the season, and look unlikely to hold onto that spot. I said before the season that I thought the Bengals could struggle this season, and I’ve been right so far. They are just 3-4-1, so if they can figure out their issues, they could still reach the playoffs. The Browns are the only winless team in the league, but they play hard each and every week. You heard it here first, the Browns will defeat the Ravens tonight to get their first victory of the season.

7 – NFC West

The Seahawks and Cardinals were supposed to be two of the top Super Bowl contenders in the NFC this season. The Seahawks are 5-2-1, and while they have looked anemic on offense at times, they are still one of the best teams in the league and a threat. The Cardinals on the other hand, for reasons that I cannot figure out, have struggled mightily so far this season. They are just 3-4-1, and I’m not sure that I see it getting better for them. The Rams are a complete disaster right now despite being a respectable 3-5, and the Chip Kelly experiment in San Francisco is off to a rough start, as they have lost seven consecutive games following their season-opening win over the 49ers.

8 – AFC South

In my opinion, and I think in many other people’s opinion, the AFC South is the weakest division in football this season. The 5-3 Texans are in 1st Place, but their offense has not clicked, and the Brock Osweiler signing looks like a huge mistake at this juncture. The Colts are gaining steam, but after a very poor start, they are just 4-5 on the season. Also at 4-5 is the Titans, who have wins over the Lions, Browns, Dolphins and the 2-6 Jaguars. Not a very good resume. And speaking of the Jaguars, many people had high hopes for them entering the season. They have probably been the biggest disappointment in the NFL, and their status as the worst team in the worst division is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Fantasy Start/Sit

Quarterbacks

Start

Cam Newton
It’s been a frustrating year for Newton owners (I sympathize with you), but I think he’ll start to turn it around this week. A home game against a Chiefs’ team that has given up a fair share of passing touchdowns, and are struggling with their pass rush. Feel good about starting him this week.

Eli Manning
Another QB that has been frustrating to own this year, Manning started the turnaround last week with four touchdowns against the Eagles. Now he gets a struggling Bengals’ defense at home on Monday Night Football. When the lights shine bright, so does Eli.

Marcus Mariota
Remember about a month or so ago when I told you to pick up or trade for Mariota? I look pretty smart so far. Now he gets to face the Packers, who have not been good against the pass. Look for a big week from Marcus.

Sit

Brock Osweiler/Blake Bortles
Two of the top pass defenses in the league going up against two quarterbacks who can’t seem to get out of their own way. This game is going to be won on the ground, so I wouldn’t start either of these guys this week.

Kirk Cousins
The Vikings’ defense has started to struggle a little bit, but they are still one of the best in the league, and I don’t think Cousins is quite there yet to be able to thrive against any defense. Try and find a better option this week.

Running Backs

Start

David Johnson/Melvin Gordon
You are obviously starting both of these guys every week now at this point, I just wanted to put them here for those that play daily fantasy. These are the two guys you’ll want to build your lineups around this week (not both in the same, but one of them should be in each of your lineups).

Jordan Howard
In his breakout game two weeks ago, Howard proved that he should be the bell cow of the Bears’ offense, and he gets a fantastic matchup this week against the Bucs. Look for him to build on that great game and go for big numbers once again this week.

Tim Hightower/Mark Ingram
The Raiders gave the entire NFL the blueprint for how to beat the Broncos: run the ball down their throats. That makes Mark Ingram a great play this week, and I think Hightower is also worth a start, as he’ll get carries and targets in the passing game.

Sit

DeMarco Murray/Jay Ajayi
As with Johnson/Gordon, you are obviously starting both of these guys, but just beware that they could be in for some tough sledding. Murray faces the Packers and Ajayi goes up against the Chargers, two teams that have been great against the run this season. I would not put either of these guys in any daily fantasy lineups.

Todd Gurley
I own Gurley in two leagues, so I know what Gurley owners are going through. In fact, I pretty much have to start him in both leagues this week, but I don’t feel good about it. He hasn’t done anything this year, and he faces the stout Jets’ run defense this week. Jeff Fisher said Gurley needs to get the ball more, but I don’t know that it will help his fantasy prospects this week.

Carlos Hyde
It looks like Hyde might play this week, but odds are the Niners will be down early and will need to throw the ball a ton. That should limit Hyde’s opportunities, especially if they keep him on some sort of snap count, which is also possible.

Wide Receivers

Start

Alshon Jeffery
Jay Cutler is back, and that can only be good news for Jeffery and his owners. Add that to the matchup with Tampa Bay, and Jeffery is a slam dunk this week. He is too big and physical for Tampa’s corners, and he should have a huge game.

Stefon Diggs
Diggs is quietly putting together a really good season, and he’s been the focal point of the Vikings’ offense the last couple games. He has been targeted 27 times over the last two games, and I expect those big target numbers to continue against Washington this week.

Michael Thomas
Aqib Talib is unlikely to play this week, and when Derek Carr threw the ball last week, he had his most success going at Talib’s replacement Bradley Roby. The Saints will focus on the run game, but they’re still going to throw the ball, and Thomas is the most likely player to see a lot of Roby. I expect Brees to take advantage of that matchup like Carr did last week.

Sit

DeAndre Hopkins/Allen Robinson
Both guys that you might have to start, but I wouldn’t feel good about doing so. They’ve both been frustrating to own this year, mostly due to their quarterbacks, and this week their QBs have to go up against two of the top secondaries in the league. I’d honestly consider sitting both of these guys.

Jeremy Maclin
Not only is Maclin in danger to miss the game against Carolina with a groin injury, but when he’s been healthy, he just doesn’t seem to be a focus in Kansas City’s offense. It’s a favorable matchup if he plays, but I can’t be confident that he’ll get enough targets to be worth starting.

Tight Ends

Start

Tyler Eifert
Eifert is finally healthy, and he had a big game over in London two weeks ago, showing everyone that he was exactly what Andy Dalton and the Bengals needed on offense. He’s a must start every week as long as he’s healthy.

Zach Miller
I’m obviously big on the Bears this week, but this one is for good reason. The Bucs have been AWFUL against tight ends this season, so Miller could be in for a big performance this week. It could depend on if Jay Cutler actually throws him the ball, but I think he will.

Sit

Coby Fleener
He has been very hit or miss this year (more miss than hit), and I don’t like him against the Broncos this week. It’s simple as that. There will be better options this week.

Jason Witten
He’s been Mr. Reliable his entire career, and he’s been a great piece for Dak Prescott, but he’s got a tough matchup with the Steelers this week. They have some of the best cover linebackers in the league, and I think Prescott will try to attack their corners instead.

 

UFC 205 Predictions

Mixed Martial Arts are finally legal in New York, and for the UFC’s first show in the state, they are going all out. UFC 205 is the biggest card in the company’s history, headlined by Featherweight (145 lbs) Champion Conor McGregor moving up to Lightweight (155 lbs) to challenge Philly’s own Eddie Alvarez for his Lightweight Championship. The card will see two other belts defended, as well as a slew of popular fighters like Chris Weidman, Miesha Tate, Donald Cerrone and New York’s own Frankie Edgar. Here is a short preview of the biggest fights that will take place on Saturday night, and my predictions for them.

FS1 Prelims

Lightweight Bout (155 lbs)
#2 Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) vs #6 Michael Johnson (18-10)
Some believe that the winner of this fight could be in line for a title shot, but a lot of that could also depend on who leaves UFC 205 with the belt, Conor or Eddie. Regardless, this should be a really good fight, and you’ll get it for free on FOX Sports 1. Nurmagomedov has for a long time now been considered one of the top young prospects in the UFC. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his flight towards stardom. He is one of the best pure wrestlers in the UFC, and for him to win this fight, he’ll have to take it to the ground, which he almost always does. Johnson is a much more skilled striker, and he’ll want to stay upright and strike with Nurmagomedov. If he can make that happen, he may be able to catch him and pull the upset.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Unanimous Decision

Featherweight Bout (145 lbs)
#2 Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) vs #7 Jeremy Stephens (25-12)
Frankie Edgar is probably just thrilled to be a part of this, the UFC’s first card in his home state of New York. He has been a championship-level fighter for a while now, but the former Lightweight Champion has had two chances at the Featherweight belt, and has come up short both times, most recently falling to Jose Aldo at UFC 200. Despite the loss, Edgar is still one of the best 145-lb fighters in the company, and he comes into this fight the favorite over the powerful Jeremy Stephens. Stephens claims to have the most powerful fist in the division (Conor McGregor had a nice laugh at that one), but whether that’s true or not, it is true that Edgar needs to be careful. If Stephens lands one right hand, that could be the end for Edgar.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar, Unanimous Decision

PPV Main Card

Women’s Bantamweight Bout (135 lbs)
#1 Miesha Tate (18-6) vs #8 Raquel Pennington (8-6)
Miesha Tate finally reached the pinnacle at UFC 196 when she defeated Holly Holm by submission in the 5th round to win her first UFC Championship. Unfortunately, her time at the top wouldn’t last long, as she was defeated by 1st round submission at UFC 200 by new champion Amanda Nunes. Tate has long been one of the top female fighters in the world, and she’ll look to stake her claim for another title opportunity on Saturday when she takes on #8 ranked Raquel Pennington. Pennington and Tate go way back, as Tate was Pennington’s coach on The Ultimate Fighter, so she may know more about Pennington than anyone. Pennington is riding a three-fight winning streak into this one, and with a win, she could launch herself into the upper-echelon of female fighters. She is very well-rounded, but her best bet will be to keep the fight on the feet, as Tate is one of the most impressive female wrestlers in the UFC.
Prediction: Miesha Tate, Rd. 2 Submission

Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)
#5 Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) vs #6 Donald Cerrone (31-7, 1 NC)
This fight is being a little overlooked due to the three title fights on the card, but Gastelum versus Cerrone has a chance to steal the show. Gastelum was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 17 fighting at Middleweight (185 lbs), defeating Uriah Hall in the finals. He is an excellent striker, and is coming off a victory over former Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 200. Saturday he’ll take on one of the most popular fighters in the UFC in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. After losing to Rafael Dos Anjos in a fight for the Lightweight title, Cerrone moved up to Welterweight and has won three consecutive fights, including three Performance of the Night bonuses. Cerrone has won 11 of his last 12 fights, so he is clearly a man on a mission. Cerrone is also a very talented striker, but his jiu jitsu is also top-class. This will be an exciting fight.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone, Split Decision

Middleweight Bout (185 lbs)
#2 Chris Weidman (13-1) vs #4 Yoel Romero (11-1)
Another exciting fight on a stacked card, the winner of this fight could be next in line for a shot at Michael Bisping’s Middleweight title. Weidman is a former Middleweight champ, and this will be his first time in the Octagon since losing the title to Luke Rockhold in December of last year. Weidman is a former All-American wrestler, and also a U.S. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion. His takedowns are some of the best in the UFC, and I suspect that taking this fight to the ground will be the best way for him to get the win, because his opponent is one of the most dangerous strikers in the game. Romero was a silver medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and has transitioned into being a very successful mixed martial artist. His technique has been questioned by a lot of experts, but there’s no denying that his right hand packs a ton of power. All it could take is one shot to end Weidman’s night.
Prediction: Yoel Romero, Rd. 3 KO/TKO

Women’s Strawweight Championship (115 lbs)
C Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) vs #2 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0)
One of these ladies is going to suffer the first defeat of their professional fighting careers. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the most dominant champions in the history of the company. She has pretty much wiped out the Strawweight division, save for her fellow Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Karolina earned this opportunity with a split-decision win over Rose Namajunas at UFC 201 in Atlanta. Beyond this being the “Battle for Poland,” one of the most exciting things about this fight is that both of these women want to stand up and just throw fists. Neither of them try to hide the fact that they are glorified boxers, but that just means that the better striker will win this fight. Joanna has some of the quickest movements I’ve ever seen, and I think it will be tough for Karolina to keep up. But the best part of fighting is that anything can happen.
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Unanimous Decision

Welterweight Championship (170 lbs)
C Tyron Woodley (16-3) vs #2 Stephen Thompson (13-1)
Championship fight #2 of the night will pit the new Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Woodley is one of the best strikers in the UFC, and he proved that when he knocked out former champ Robbie Lawler in the 1st round at UFC 201. Lawler had become known for his iron chin, and Woodley caught him with one punch and then laid it on to take the title. This fight will be a wonderful clash of styles, as Thompson boasts a repertoire based on karate, which has become a lost art in MMA. Thompson has won seven fights in a row, so he comes in with some momentum. He will attack Woodley in a variety of ways, and he is very hard to read, which could cause some trouble for the underdog champion. Thompson’s style is also very well-suited to go deep into fights, so he won’t be afraid to weather the storm and take this fight to a decision. This should be a fun co-main event.
Prediction: Stephen Thompson, Unanimous Decision

Lightweight Championship (155 lbs)
C Eddie Alvarez (28-4) vs C-FTW Conor McGregor (20-3)
Oh man, I am excited for this fight. Conor McGregor is a once-in-a-lifetime figure. He is polarizing, he is entertaining and above all else, he is a damn good fighter. McGregor does whatever he wants, says whatever he wants, and Dana White and the UFC are powerless to him because he is the biggest star they’ve ever had. It makes for wonderful viewing, and this Saturday, he looks to become the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two different weight divisions. He’ll have a tough task in taking down the “Underground King” Eddie Alvarez. It’s been a whirlwind career for Alvarez. He’s been a champion in every organization he’s fought in, and it took three years, but he is finally the UFC Lightweight Champion following a 1st round TKO of Rafael Dos Anjos. Alvarez has an exceptional ground game, but he also likes to stand up and strike with his opponents. That might not be his gameplan Saturday though, as McGregor has the best left hand in the business. “Precision beats power and timing beats speed,” McGregor said following his 13 second knockout of Jose Aldo. He doesn’t think there’s a Featherweight in the world that can take his left hand, but when he moved up to Welterweight, Nate Diaz seemed to take them okay. Diaz beat him once, but lost the second time due to eating too many of those precision punches from McGregor. If Alvarez stands and tries to out-punch McGregor, he’s likely to come up short, but if he can get the fight to the ground and extend the fight, his chances will improve. This will be the perfect finish to what is sure to be a tremendous night of fights.
Prediction: Conor McGregor, Rd. 2 KO/TKO

NFL Week 9

We are back after a quick little one week hiatus (focused on the start of the NBA season last week), and it’s basically the midway point of the NFL season. Holy crap, how are we in Week 9 already? I’m not sure, but we are just a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving, which means we’re about a month and a half away from Christmas, which means we only have about two months of regular season football to go. This is the point in the season where certain teams get desperate to stay in the mix, and others start to press too much and fall out of the race.

Quick post this week with my new Power Rankings and who you should start and sit in fantasy. Hope you enjoy Week 9!

Power Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Atlanta Falcons
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Oakland Raiders
  7. Minnesota Vikings
  8. Seattle Seahawks
  9. Kansas City Chiefs
  10. Green Bay Packers
  11. Philadelphia Eagles
  12. New York Giants
  13. Houston Texans
  14. Arizona Cardinals
  15. Washington Redskins
  16. San Diego Chargers
  17. Cincinnati Bengals
  18. Buffalo Bills
  19. Baltimore Ravens
  20. Tennessee Titans
  21. Detroit Lions
  22. Carolina Panthers
  23. New Orleans Saints
  24. Indianapolis Colts
  25. Miami Dolphins
  26. Los Angeles Rams
  27. New York Jets
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  29. Chicago Bears
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars
  31. San Francisco 49ers
  32. Cleveland Browns

Fantasy Start/Sit

Quarterbacks

Start

Dak Prescott
*Insert quarterback facing the Browns here* Not much more that needs to be said. Dak against the Browns is about as slam dunk a start as it gets. He might not go crazy, but he’ll do more than enough to make him worth starting this week.

Ben Roethlisberger
This is obviously only if he plays, which is still in doubt, but if Ben is on the field, he should be in your lineup. The Ravens’ pass defense is not very good, so if the Steelers’ line can keep him clean, he should pick that secondary apart.

Colin Kaepernick
He’s one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, but he’s facing one of the worst defenses in the league at home. If you’re streaming quarterbacks, or if you need a fill-in for Cousins, Brady, Dalton or Palmer, Kaepernick could be your guy.

Sit

Matthew Stafford
Odds are Stafford is your best (or only) option, but just don’t expect too much from him, so that you can be stoked if he has a big game. The Vikings’ defense has terrorized QB’s all season long, and I expect that to continue on Sunday.

Russell Wilson
Unfortunately for most Wilson owners and the Seahawks themselves, Russell is not the guy you thought he was going to be entering this season. He’s banged up, the line can’t protect him and there isn’t much talent for him to utilize. Against the Bills, I’ll pass on him.

Running Backs

Start

Devontae Booker
The first start for Booker didn’t go exactly as every fantasy expert this side of Denver was expecting it to go, but he’ll have a chance to really breakout in front of the entire nation against the porous Raiders’ defense on Sunday night.

Theo Riddick
Where you should be worried about the Vikings if you have Stafford, don’t let that defense scare you away from starting Riddick. He is the only reliable option in the Lions’ backfield, and Jordan Howard just had over 200 yards from scrimmage against the Vikes. Riddick is more talented than Howard, especially in the passing game, so I expect he could be in line for a big game.

Latavius Murray
I’m going with my gut on this one, but facing the Broncos’ defense, I expect the Raiders to look to run the ball more than they have recently, and that could lead to a big game for Murray. He’s scored a lot of touchdowns this year, and I think he gets at least one on Sunday night.

Sit

Christine Michael
The Bills are a good matchup for Michael, but this is more based on the competition in the Seattle backfield. CJ Prosise is now healthy, and with a shoddy offensive line, as a pass catching back, he is more valuable to the team, in my opinion. I think Michael will continue to lose touches to Prosise as the weeks go on.

Frank Gore
Gore has had a really nice season for the Colts, despite being “over the hill” for an NFL running back. That being said, the Colts face the Packers this week. That is a terrible matchup for Gore. Start somebody else this week.

Wide Receiver

Start

Jarvis Landry
I’d suspect that Landry owners are probably a little disappointed with what they’ve gotten from him so far this season. Nothing like a matchup with the Jets to get a receiver back on track. Landry should fill it up this week, and might even find the end zone once or twice.

Davante Adams
Randall Cobb is expected to miss another game, and believe it or not, Adams is on pace for just under 1,000 yards receiving this season. The Colts’ secondary is horrible, and Adams should have another big game, especially in PPR leagues.

Tyrell Williams
Travis Benjamin is unlikely to play, and likewise with Hunter Henry. That means Antonio Gates and the aforementioned Williams will be the top targets for Philip Rivers against a bad Titans’ secondary. Williams has been great this season, and I think he’ll have another big game this week.

Sit

Marvin Jones
Xavier Rhodes is going to be shadowing Jones on Sunday. That is enough for me to sit him in any lineups I’d have him in. I suggest you do the same.

Jeremy Maclin
No Alex Smith, a coach that wants to run the ball and he’ll have Jalen Ramsey covering him all day long. I don’t expect very much from Maclin this week, or the rest of the season for that matter. Try to trade him if you possibly can at this point.

Tight Ends

Start

Antonio Gates
For the same reason I like Tyrell Williams, I also like Antonio Gates. No Hunter Henry and the Chargers are going to throw the football. Could be a huge game for Gates this week.

Lance Kendricks
Very quietly, Kendricks has turned into a top option in the Rams’ passing game. He has at least seven targets in three of their last four games, and we all know the Panthers are having trouble covering anyone. Kendricks is a great bye week fill-in.

Sit

Eric Ebron
He’s back and healthy, but a rough matchup against the Vikings and their talented cover linebackers, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Ebron is a great pickup for the rest of the season, but I’d consider keeping him on your bench this week.

Julius Thomas
It’s hard to trust anybody on the Jaguars’ offense these days, especially Thomas. He’s scored a touchdown in each of his last two games, but he’s also had less than four catches in each of their last four games. A rough matchup with the Chiefs means you can do better than Thomas.

NFL Week 7

Six weeks in and we are starting to distinguish the contenders and pretenders. The Vikings and Patriots are the clear favorites in their respective conferences, while the Browns and 49ers might as well be mathematically eliminated already.

This week I’ll give you my power rankings for all 32 teams and I will give you my answer to some pressing questions in the league right now, including the Josh Brown situation and the Romo/Prescott debate. Then we’ll finish it off with who you should start and sit in fantasy this week. Let’s not waste anymore time, here’s this week’s Power Rankings.

Power Rankings

  1. Minnesota Vikings
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. Atlanta Falcons
  5. Dallas Cowboys
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers
  7. Buffalo Bills
  8. Denver Broncos
  9. Kansas City Chiefs
  10. Green Bay Packers
  11. Arizona Cardinals
  12. Oakland Raiders
  13. Washington Redskins
  14. Philadelphia Eagles
  15. Houston Texans
  16. San Diego Chargers
  17. New York Giants
  18. Cincinnati Bengals
  19. Los Angeles Rams
  20. Baltimore Ravens
  21. Detroit Lions
  22. New Orleans Saints
  23. Indianapolis Colts
  24. Carolina Panthers
  25. Tennessee Titans
  26. Miami Dolphins
  27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars
  29. Chicago Bears
  30. New York Jets
  31. San Francisco 49ers
  32. Cleveland Browns

 

Question & Answer

Q: What is wrong with the New York Giants/NFL?

A: Boy do I wish I knew the real answer to this question. For a short recap, Giants kicker Josh Brown was arrested in 2015 after an incident with his wife, Molly. As part of the investigation, she told police that he had been physically violent with her more than 20 times over the last several years. As of September 2016, no charges had been filed. Due to the domestic violence arrest, the NFL suspended Brown for ONE game. ONE! It was an absurd suspension compared to what other crimes/arrests/rule breaks have been punished with. For example, Le’Veon Bell served a three-game suspension for a marijuana arrest. Yes, the possession of marijuana was a crime, but compared to domestic violence, I’d say it’s pretty harmless.

It was revealed yesterday that Brown admitted to being abusive towards his wife in letters, emails and journals. The NFL and the Giants claim to have no prior knowledge of these documents. That begs the question “How?” How did the Giants and/or Roger Goodell not know about these confessions? The league claimed that it was working closely with investigators, which makes this inexcusable.

On top of this, in a press conference this morning, Giants’ HC Ben McAdoo claimed that the team will not turn it’s back on Brown. WHY? He does realize what is wrong with that statement, right? I guess not. This is just a massive failure on all terms. I am embarrassed by the Giants, I am embarrassed by the NFL, and I feel absolutely zero remorse for Josh Brown. I hope he never plays another snap in the NFL.

Q: When he’s healthy, should Tony Romo take over for Dak Prescott?

A: Now on to something a little more light-hearted. This is a difficult question to answer, and if I would have been asked last week, I would have had a different answer. I totally understand why the Cowboys will want to start Romo. Yes, he’s not the same player he once was, and his body is breaking down on him quickly. That being said, when healthy, Romo is still a top quarterback in this league, and the Cowboys are still his team. Jerry Jones said that it’s Romo’s team, Jason Garrett said that it’s Romo’s team, even Dak Prescott has said that it’s Romo’s team.

Despite that, after last week’s performance, the answer to this question is clear. Dak Prescott must remain the starting quarterback for the Cowboys. Last week I would have said that they should start Romo, but give him a really short leash. Then last week, despite committing his first two turnovers of the season, Prescott led his team to a decisive victory over the Packers in Green Bay. The Packers aren’t the same dominant team they once were, but they are still extremely tough to beat at home, and the Cowboys made it look easy. Prescott is second in the league in Total QBR, behind just Matt Ryan, who many believe is the MVP of the league thus far. He’s doing everything he needs to do to make the Cowboys successful, and they are 5-1 and at the top of the NFC East. As long as they continue on this path, they cannot make the switch to Romo. Prescott has to stay the starter.

Q: Are the Vikings a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

A: Simply put, yes, they are. Here’s why. Their defense is dominant. They are second in the league in yards allowed per game, behind just Seattle. They lead the league in points allowed per game, giving up just under 12 points a game. They have yet to give up more than 16 points in a game this year. That is incredible. They are tied for third in sacks, and the two teams ahead of them have played six games, compared to just five so far for the Vikings. The Broncos went to the Super Bowl last season led by their defense, but between Brock Osweiler and Peyton Manning, their offense did enough to allow the defense to do the dirty work. The Vikings have been successful this year in a similar fashion.

Nobody is calling Sam Bradford one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but he is controlling the game masterfully so far this season. He isn’t turning the ball over, and that is the biggest thing. The Vikings’ offense has coughed the ball up just once this season, and that was a fumble. Bradford has yet to throw an interception. They are +11 in turnover differential, good for first in the league. Last season, the Panthers led the league in turnover differential, and they represented the NFC in the big game. In 2014, the Seahawks and Patriots were in the top-4 in the league in that category en route to the Super Bowl. We’re just six weeks into the season, but the Vikings are a clear Super Bowl contender, and they need to be taken seriously.

 

Fantasy Start/Sit

Quarterbacks

Start
Matthew Stafford
Stafford has been inconsistent this season. It’s been either high or low, with very little in between. Last week was a high against Los Angeles, and I think it’ll be another high this week against the Redskins. The Lions are very thin at running back due to injuries, and I expect them to throw early and often, taking advantage of a poor Washington secondary.

Marcus Mariota
I highlighted a few weeks ago how Mariota’s schedule is incredibly favorable in the middle of this season. He had a coming out party last week against Cleveland, and I predict more of the same this week against the porous Indianapolis defense. Mariota could be a Top-5 quarterback this week.

Sit
Drew Brees
Odds are you don’t have a better option, but don’t expect much from Brees this week. He historically tends to struggle on the road, and the Chiefs have one of the best secondaries in the league led by Marcus Peters and Eric Berry. It could be a long day for the Saints offensively.

Carson Palmer
He had a cushy matchup on Monday night against the Jets, and he performed accordingly. This week he has a brutal matchup against the Seahawks, and I expect him to again perform accordingly. There are lots of better options this week.

Running Backs

Start
Spencer Ware/Jamaal Charles
It will be impossible to predict how many snaps and touches these guys are going to get, as the Chiefs continue to ease Charles back into it, but against the Saints, I think they are both worth a start. Ware was the lead back last week against Oakland, but Charles was able to find the end zone. If they produce similarly this week, they should both be in lineups.

James White
When Tom Brady plays, the passing down running back produces. It was Dion Lewis at the start of last season, then James White at the end. This year it’s flip flopped. White may only have value until Lewis returns, but they face the Steelers this week, and their defense is among the worst in the league in giving up receptions to running backs. I believe White should absolutely be started in PPR, and this week he should be started in standard scoring leagues as well.

Sit
Jay Ajayi
After a 200-plus yard performance last week, I know Ajayi owners will be tempted to start him this week. I’m telling you that you should definitely rethink that. The Bills defense has been stellar as of late, and they held Carlos Hyde to just over 50 yards on the ground last week. This is not a good matchup for Ajayi.

Frank Gore
Gore has been solid once again this season, continuing a streak of being undervalued during the preseason. The Titans have been terrific against the run this year though, and if the Colts want to win this game, they’ll do it with Andrew Luck’s arm. I don’t envision a big game from Gore.

Wide Receivers

Start
Golden Tate
Finally! Finally Golden Tate produced how everyone expected him to before the season! I’d like to see him do it again before I truly trust him again, but I think he’s set up for a big game. The Washington secondary can be suspect, and with the Lions’ run game struggling, Stafford is going to throw the ball a lot. Tate and Marvin Jones are both good plays this week.

Allen Hurns
The Jaguars are playing the Raiders. That’s probably all you need to know. They are dead last in the league in passing yards allowed, and we know the Jags want to throw. Slot receivers have had a lot of success this year against Oakland (Willie Snead and Tyrell Williams come to mind), and I think that will continue this week with Hurns.

Sit
DeAndre Hopkins
There is something wrong with the Texans’ offense, and a road matchup with the Broncos probably won’t do them any favors. The Broncos’ secondary is one of the best in the league, and they should keep Hopkins under wraps all night long. I don’t expect much from Hopkins this week.

Doug Baldwin
*Insert wide receiver facing Patrick Peterson here* Baldwin should be shadowed by Peterson, and that does not bode well for him. Peterson is one of the best press man-to-man corners in the league, and I don’t think Russell Wilson will want to challenge him much. I’d start somebody other than Baldwin this week.

Tight Ends

Start
Vernon Davis
Jordan Reed is out for a second straight week. I was curious last week how Davis would do filling in for him, and he found the end zone against a good Philly defense. The Lions have a bad defense, and I think Davis could have more success this week as Reed’s replacement.

Jack Doyle
Dwayne Allen is out with a sprained ankle, and Andrew Luck loves his tight ends. Doyle has put up good numbers in the action he gets. He’ll see a lot of snaps this week with Allen out, and I expect Luck to look for him early and often.

Sit
Coby Fleener
See: Brees, Drew. It’s going to be a rough day for the Saints’ offense (in my opinion), and I think that will lead to a poor game for Fleener.

Antonio Gates
Surprisingly, Hunter Henry has taken full advantage of the opportunity he’s been given and has become one of Philip Rivers’s favorite targets. The odd man out in this situation is Gates, especially given that he’s still not 100% healthy. Henry is the Chargers’ tight end that you want.

NFL Week 6

Five weeks into the 2016-2017 NFL season, and we have just one remaining undefeated team. The craziest thing about it is that it’s a team who lost their starting quarterback during the preseason, traded their 1st Round pick in next year’s draft for a new starter, and then lost their best player, a future Hall of Famer, in Week 2. Despite all of that going against them, the Minnesota Vikings head into their Week 6 bye at 5-0, and the clear favorite to win the NFC at this point in the season. This just goes to show that the NFL is near impossible to predict.

Didn’t have much time to devote this week, so it’s a shorter post than normal. I’ll give you my new Top-10 teams and a start/sit for fantasy. Can you believe it’s mid-October already? Pretty nuts.

 

Top-10 Teams

1 – Minnesota Vikings
I wanted to declare this team #1 last week, but I was still a little hesitant. Then they went out and straight dominated a good Texans team. That, combined with a Broncos home loss to Atlanta, has the Minnesota Vikings in the top spot. It’s pretty remarkable too how they’ve gotten to this point. The only remaining undefeated team, they lost their starting QB during the preseason, and then their future Hall of Fame running back gets hurt in Week 2. Yet here they are, 5-0 and showing no signs of slowing down. Except for that tricky bye week, which always seems to catch teams at the worst time.

2 – New England Patriots
Everybody in the Northeast can breathe a sigh of relief, Tom Terrific is back! And he hasn’t skipped a single beat. Brady showed no signs of rust last week, picking apart the Browns defense to the tune of 406 yards and three touchdowns. They play host to a struggling Cincinnati team on Sunday before a huge road game in Week 7 down in Pittsburgh. The winner of that game will become the favorite to win the AFC.

3 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Speaking of that Pittsburgh team, how happy do you think Ben Roethlisberger, Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin are to have Le’Veon Bell back in the fold? His versatility takes the Steelers’ offense to the next level, and they’ve showed that off with back-to-back dominating performances against two very good defenses (Chiefs, Jets). Now, Ben tends to play much better at Heinz Field, but luckily for him, the Dolphins are in a tailspin right now, and their weakness is their secondary. They just have to avoid looking ahead to New England next week.

4 – Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks move up a little bit in my rankings this week without even playing, but they deserve it. Their performances in the last two games are exactly what we expected from them this season. The defense looks just as great as the one that led them to consecutive Super Bowls just a couple years back. They have a big game this week as they welcome the blazing hot Atlanta Falcons into town. The 12th Man will really have to be rocking for this one.

5 – Atlanta Falcons
If you didn’t think this team was for real before last week, you definitely do now. They went into Denver and defeated the defending Super Bowl champs 23-16. They did only win by a touchdown, but the score was not indicative of how the game went. The Falcons dominated this game. It seemed like they could do just about whatever they wanted to do on offense against what most believe to be the best defense in the NFL. We thought a Carolina-Denver-Seattle stretch would spell doom for the Falcons, but they have taken the first two of those games, and look like a pretty sure bet to win the NFC South.

6 – Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers was not his best on Sunday night, completing just 23 of 45 passes, but the defense was stellar as the Packers pulled out a 23-16 win over the visiting New York Giants. If the Green Bay defense can continue to play well and lift up the team when the offense struggles, the Packers will be a force in the NFC. They sit at 3-1, and the 4-1 Dallas Cowboys will come into Lambeau on Sunday for America’s Game of the Week. Should be a fun battle between the veteran Rodgers and the rookie Dak Prescott.

7 – Oakland Raiders
They don’t win pretty, and they don’t do anything easy, but they win games, and in the NFL, that is all that matters. The scary thing is that they have yet to play a game up to the level that everyone knows they can play at, and they are still 4-1 with three of those wins coming on the road. Their lone loss on the season was a 35-28 loss to the Falcons, who are actually better than most expected them to be. A legitimate argument can be made for Derek Carr as the MVP of the league so far, as he has been the difference in these close victories. A big division battle with the Chiefs is on their plate this week. A 5-1 start would really put Raider Nation into a frenzy.

8 – Dallas Cowboys
How ‘bout them Cowboys? When Tony Romo went down again in the preseason, if you said Dak Prescott would have them 4-1 going into the Green Bay game, you would have been called crazy, and you would have been wrong, because everyone knows the biggest reason for the 4-1 start is Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line. Prescott has done a great job controlling the game and protecting the football, but Elliott has been as explosive as advertised, leading the league in rushing through five weeks. The debate rages on as to whether or not they should put Romo back in when he’s healthy. I believe that they should, but they should have him on a short leash. If the rest of the team continues to play well, it probably won’t matter who’s under center.

9 – Philadelphia Eagles
I figured the early bye week would be a bad thing for the previously unbeaten Eagles. I also expected them to come out sluggish in Detroit because of the bye week. I still expected them to take care of business and defeat a Lions’ team that simply isn’t very good. Despite giving up touchdowns on each of the Lions’ first three drives, the Eagles had a 23-21 lead late in the game. Then it crumbled. Ryan Mathews fumbled on a 3rd down as they were just looking to run clock. The Lions went ahead with a field goal, then Carson Wentz threw his first career interception, and Philadelphia fell to 3-1 on the year. I think they can still compete for the division crown, but they’ll need to play much better than they did last week. The real season starts this week with a trip to Washington, which is followed by a matchup with the Vikings. This week might be must-win.

10 – Denver Broncos
My, how the mighty have fallen, and how quickly it has happened. The Falcons are obviously a good team, but the Broncos turned in a very poor performance against them at home, highlighted (actually, lowlighted) by backup quarterback Paxton Lynch. Lynch played great in relief of starter Trevor Siemian in the game the previous week in Tampa Bay, but he looked mediocre at best against the Falcons. I said going into the draft that Lynch was the most overrated quarterback prospect, and his performance against Atlanta showed why I felt that way. I figured with a short week, the Broncos wouldn’t be able to think about the loss too much and would come back with a vengeance against San Diego last night. Quite the opposite, actually. Denver turned in a pitiful performance against a 1-4 Chargers team, and only had a chance to tie the game at the end because it’s the Chargers, and they’ll always try to lose.

Next Five Up: Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams

 

Fantasy Start/Sit

Quarterbacks

Start
Cam Newton
Just don’t think about this one too much. I know he’s coming back from a concussion, and he has not been the same this year as he was last year. But Ron Rivera announced today that he plans to start Newton this week barring a setback. Well, barring a setback, you start Newton against the Saints. I don’t care who else you have.

Carson Palmer
Another player coming off of a concussion, but he too is expected to play this week, and he has a good matchup against the struggling Jets’ secondary. It’s been tough being a Palmer owner this year, but I think things will start to turn around this week. I’d like them to announce that he’s definitely playing before Sunday, but if you don’t have another Top-10 quarterback, it’s worth the risk to wait til Monday and go with Palmer.

Sit
Kirk Cousins
Matthew Stafford surprisingly put up good numbers against the Eagles last week, but just about all of his success came early, and then he was shut down. It’s Kirk Cousins’s turn to face the Eagles, and I don’t see him putting up the numbers necessary to start him in a 10 or 12 team league this week. Especially if Jordan Reed doesn’t pass the concussion protocol.

Eli Manning
The Giants’ offense has yet to find any consistency this season, and that is mostly due to Eli Manning’s struggles. He has just five touchdown passes this season, and three of those were in the first game against Dallas. Also, the Ravens’ defense has been surprisingly good against the pass, ranking 5th in the league in passing yards allowed per game.

Running Backs

Start
Lamar Miller
I know that you are probably starting Miller if you have him, mostly because he was likely your 1st Round pick. But I’m sure some of you have been frustrated by him to the point where you’re considering benching him. Give him this week yet to turn it around. The Colts are terrible against opposing running backs, and in the Sunday night spotlight, I expect Miller to go off.

Jordan Howard
Thank you Jordan Howard for making me look smart last week! He had a big game against Indianapolis (118 yards rushing, 45 yards receiving, touchdown catch), and I expect more of that this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville is much better against the run than Indy, but the Bears will need to lean on Howard in order to get the win. John Fox knows that feeding Howard gives him the best chance to come out on top.

Sit
Eddie Lacy
Looks like it could be another frustrating year for Lacy owners. He has yet to score a touchdown this season, and he’s nursing a knee injury. He practiced in full on Thursday, so he’s likely to play Sunday against Dallas, but I’d have a hard time being confident starting him. I need him to have a breakout performance before I feel good about starting him. You should too.

Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson
The Titans’ defense is solid against the run, as they give up just under 100 rushing yards per game, and opponents have only scored two rushing touchdowns against them this season. Crowell is among the leading rushers in the league, and Duke Johnson has been targeted 28 times in the passing game this year, but I wouldn’t start either of them this week.

Wide Receivers

Start
Allen Robinson
Robinson has been solid this year, but he has yet to live up to the preseason hype. He was drafted as a WR1, but he’s performed like a WR2. I think that is all a fluke, and he’s still going to have a big year. It begins this week against an injury-riddled Chicago secondary. One of the biggest stats for a wide receiver is targets. As long as a receiver is being targeted, he has a chance to put up big numbers. Robinson is being targeted just over 10 times per game. That’s a good number, and it’s hopefully a sign of things to come.

Kelvin Benjamin
Ah, the best cure for a receiver’s struggles, a matchup with the Saints’ defense. The physically imposing Benjamin should have a field day against this secondary, and he’ll have Cam Newton back throwing to him. Start Benjamin and don’t think twice about it (Sidenote: I still like Benjamin this week even if Newton doesn’t play).

Sit
Doug Baldwin
I don’t really have numbers to back this one up, so call it a hunch. The Falcons’ defense has played much better recently, and even when they struggled, Desmond Trufant has been really good this year. Baldwin’s two big games this year came against awful defenses (Miami, San Francisco), and he was a non-factor in Seattle’s other two games. Combined with the re-emergence of Jimmy Graham, I think Baldwin is on track to have a rough game this week.

Alshon Jeffery
It hasn’t been a great start to the year for Jeffery. He has yet to record more than five catches in a single game, and before his 77 yards last week, his yardage numbers had decreased in each game this season. Bryan Hoyer has found reliable targets in tight end Zach Miller and Eddie Royal, and Cameron Meredith has emerged as another option for him on the outside. With Jalen Ramsey likely covering him, I don’t think Jeffery will have a great game this week.

Tight Ends

Start
Jimmy Graham
I came into this season looking at Jimmy Graham as undraftable at the tight end position. All signs pointed towards that. But now healthy, Russell Wilson is taking advantage of the mismatches that Graham creates with his size and athleticism. He has over 100 yards receiving in two straight games, and I think he makes it three straight this week against Atlanta.

Martellus Bennett
Who saw three Bennett touchdowns coming last week? Not me. It would appear as though Bennett is on his way to a career resurgence, and it now has him playing the role that Aaron Hernandez played in this Patriots’ offense before all of his criminal activities were revealed. The Bengals are struggling right now, so I can see Bennett having another big game.

Sit
Jordan Reed/Other Redskins’ TEs
As someone who owns Jordan Reed in three leagues, I was devastated to hear that he is in the concussion protocol. Concussions have had a huge impact on his career already, so another one can’t be good. If Reed is somehow able to play, you’re going to start him (so will I), but I wouldn’t expect a huge game from him. If he doesn’t play, look to another team before you pick up Vernon Davis or Niles Paul as a replacement. The Eagles have been really good against opposing tight ends this season.

Jacob Tamme
Tamme in Weeks 1-2: 11 receptions, 126 yards
Tamme in Weeks 3-5: 6 receptions, 32 yards
I miss the first two weeks. Unfortunately, I think the last three weeks are more what we should expect from Tamme. You can’t start him this week against the Seahawks given the trends.

NFL Week 5

It seems crazy, but 30 out of 32 teams are already to the quarter-point of their season. Some are starting to establish themselves as forces to be reckoned with (Broncos, Vikings) and others are off to surprisingly hot starts (Eagles, Falcons, Raiders, Rams), while a few teams are struggling to stay on top (Cardinals, Panthers, Jets) and a select few can probably start planning for next season (Browns, 49ers, Saints).

We have 13 more games left this week (Arizona defeated San Francisco on Thursday night), and they include some intriguing storylines. Tom Brady makes his return to the Patriots in Cleveland, the Vikings and Texans (4-0 and 3-1 respectively) look to continue their red hot pace against each other, and the 1-3 Panthers look to right the ship on Monday night against the Buccaneers, but they may be without Cam Newton, who is in the concussion protocol.

It’s a heavy fantasy article this week, as Jeff Greco will take a look at which free agents you should pick up in your leagues, and I will pinpoint which players you should buy low on and which you should sell high, and then as always I will also tell you which players to start or sit this week. First off, my new Top-10 teams.

Jay’s Top-10 

1 – Denver Broncos

They have the same dominant defense that led them to a Super Bowl last season, but they’ll face their toughest test this week against the Atlanta Falcons, who have the #1 offense in the league so far this season. And they could be without starting quarterback Trevor Siemian.

2 – Minnesota Vikings

Speaking of defenses that can lead a team to a Super Bowl, that’s exactly what the Minnesota Vikings have. They have shut down Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning this season already. On top of that, their offense has done a great job controlling each game, and that’s all they need. This week they get Brock Osweiler and the Texans.

3 – New England Patriots

The loss to the Bills last week was a little embarrassing, yes, but no need to fret Pats fans, Tom Terrific is back! With Brady at the helm, this team will be fine, and they get the Browns this week, the perfect team for Brady to ease his way back against.

4 – Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers played like a team possessed Sunday night against the Chiefs. With Le’Veon Bell and his versatility back in the fold, Pittsburgh is definitely a team to be reckoned with. I believe their offense is tops in the league, and will lead them to a division crown.

5 – Seattle Seahawks

Remember when the Seahawks lost 9-3 to the Rams and everyone was starting to wonder if this team was finished? Here we are two weeks later, and the Seahawks are just fine. Russell Wilson is playing lights out, and the defense is like a brick wall. They get a bye this week, and that’s perfect for Wilson to rest his ailing ankle.

6 – Green Bay Packers

The Packers have the top run defense in the NFL, giving up under two yards per rush! That is a figure that can’t possibly remain that low, but it tells us that it’s hard to run against them. On the flipside, they are struggling to run the ball on offense, but Eddie Lacy is a talented player and the offense as a whole is starting to come around.

7 – Philadelphia Eagles

It’s Week 5, and the Eagles are one of three undefeated teams remaining, with rookie Carson Wentz at quarterback. If you predicted this, you’re a liar. Wentz has been spectacular, but it’s the defense that has this team sitting at 3-0. Road games against Detroit and Washington are up next, and if they can win both, they’ll be 5-0 heading into a home matchup with the red hot Vikings.

8 – Atlanta Falcons

A road win over the Raiders was impressive, and dominating the Saints in New Orleans was also. But their absolute demolition of the Panthers this past week was their best win of the season, and it has people wondering just how good this team could be this year. They’ll have their biggest test this week as the travel to Denver to take on the defending Super Bowl champs.

9 – Oakland Raiders

This team doesn’t win pretty, and they don’t make any games easy, but they win, and that’s what matters in the end. 3-1 with all three wins coming on the road, the Raiders are playing with supreme confidence, led by their star quarterback Derek Carr. He has led six game winning drives since the beginning of last year, most in the league in that timeframe. They return home this week for a battle with the banged up Chargers.

10 – Houston Texans

Losing J.J. Watt is a huge blow to this team, and Brock Osweiler is struggling to protect the football, but the Texans still have all the pieces to make a playoff run. They have their hands full this week though with the Vikings, but I think they can give Minnesota a good test.

Next 5 Up – Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills



Jeff’s Waiver Wire Targets

Bye weeks started in Week 4 with the Eagles and the Packers, and we’ll now have teams on byes each and every week up to Week 11 (no byes Week 12, Browns and Titans are off Week 13). One of the keys to winning a fantasy championship is dominating your waiver wire. These are the players that you should look to grab if they are available in your leagues.

*All players are owned in 50% or less of ESPN leagues as of 10/3*

Quarterbacks:

Brock Osweiler – HOU (19%)
Osweiler has been struggling thus far, but has a favorable schedule for the remainder of the season. Pick him up before his bye, Week 9, because he may not be available afterwards.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – NYJ (27.6%)
Fitzpatrick has struggled so far, throwing ten interceptions in four games. However, he doesn’t have to play the Chiefs or the Seahawks again this year. His next five games include four favorable matchups.

Running Backs:

Kenneth Dixon – BAL (20.8%)
Baltimore is going in a more youthful direction with their running game. I’d like to think that Dixon is their running back of the future, and worth a priority pickup for a weak running game.

Wendell Smallwood – PHI (9.9%)
Smallwood received 17 carries in Week 3, and could see the majority of touches in the future of the backfield. It remains to be seen if he will be saddled in a committee.

Bilal Powell – NYJ (36.2%)
Powell continues to get more looks in the passing game with the absence of Eric Decker. With bye weeks looming, Powell can be a PPR flex option for some teams in the coming weeks.

Sleeper: Dion Lewis – NE (17%)
Lewis is eligible to return in Week 7 and if he plays up to his potential, could be a RB1 in PPR leagues.

Wide Receivers:

Robert Woods – BUF (10.3%)
With Watkins on IR for the next eight weeks (at least) Robert Woods figures to see the most targets in the Bills offense and is worthy of a flex start on an almost weekly basis.

Cole Beasley – DAL (42.8%)
Bryant has a hairline fracture in his knee, and may not play for a few weeks. Beasley is already a favorite target of Dak Prescott. Without Bryant on the field, he should certainly see plenty of targets.

Eddie Royal – CHI (9%)
With Alshon Jeffery dealing with multiple injuries Eddie Royal saw seven targets in Week 4. That sort of production should continue as long as Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery are ineffective.

Tight Ends:

Cameron Brate – TB (9%)
Brate is third on the team in receptions (16) and continues to emerge as a valuable weapon for Tampa Bay. He should continue his climb in the following weeks.

Jesse James – PIT (16.9%)
James continues to be the starting TE for the Steelers. With their potent offense, James could be an emergency starter in bye weeks.

 

Jay’s Buy Low/Sell High

This is the point in the fantasy season when players should look to identify which struggling players are going to turn it around and which players off to scorching starts are bound to slow down as the season wears on. I’m here to try and help you with that.

Quarterbacks

Buy Low – Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Mariota was drafted in most leagues this year, and the early results have not been good. Through four games, Mariota has turned the ball over EIGHT times (5 interceptions, 3 fumbles). That is compared to just four touchdowns (all passing). That being said, his best game came against the lowly Lions’ defense, and the Titans upcoming schedule is very favorable. Here’s who they have coming up (pass yards allowed per game ranking in parenthesis): Miami (22nd), Cleveland (16th), Indianapolis (24th), Jacksonville (5th), San Diego (27th), Green Bay (29th). If you have an inconsistent starter at QB, or one with a tough upcoming schedule, try to grab Mariota to pair with him. I expect his turnaround to begin this week.

Sell High – Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
I know he just threw for over 500 yards against the Panthers and that at this point in the season, he’d be most people’s pick for league MVP, but you have to look the teams he’s faced. Carolina is a bit of an outlier, as his other three games were against Oakland (32nd in total defense), New Orleans (31st) and Tampa Bay (15th). For the most part, he has feasted on poor defenses, and the schedule definitely gets tougher from here. His next two games are against Denver and Seattle, two of the top secondaries in the league. He also faces the Eagles, Cardinals and Chiefs consecutively during the fantasy playoff push. His value will never be higher than it is right now, and you should definitely look to move him for a QB that will help you more down the stretch.

Running Backs

Buy Low – Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
I sympathize with Gurley owners. I have him in two leagues, one where he was my 1st round pick this year (6th overall). It’s frustrating, because it seems like he literally has nowhere to run when they give him the ball. He’s averaging just 2.6 yards per carry and just over 50 yards a game, but I am in the camp that believes that is going to get better. Jeff Fisher knows his team needs to establish the run to give Case Keenum a chance to have success, and they have some favorable matchups on the schedule. During the fantasy regular season, Gurley has games against the Lions, Giants, Dolphins, Saints and Falcons where he should definitely put up big numbers. He also had five catches last week against Arizona, and word out of LA is that they want to continue targeting Gurley in the passing game. If you can find a Gurley owner who is frustrated to the point of giving up on him, pounce. You can thank me later.

Sell High – Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
If you were one of those who took another chance on Gordon this year, or one who kept him in a keeper league because you took him so high last season, kudos to you! You are reaping the benefits, as he leads all running backs in touchdowns with six, one year removed from failing to score a rushing touchdown as a rookie. He’s probably helped you win a matchup or two already this season, but I am here to tell you that you should sell sell sell! He cannot possibly keep up that touchdown rate, and he has just one fumble so far after coughing it up seven times last year. More fumbles are coming, and with the injuries San Diego is suffering on defense, they’re going to be playing a lot of catch up, and that means Philip Rivers launching the ball down the field. You’re going to be chasing touchdowns with Gordon the rest of the season, and I think now is a good time to move on from him.

Wide Receivers

Buy Low – Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper was drafted as a Top-15 wide receiver this season coming off of a rookie year with 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six scores. He was Derek Carr’s #1 target, and with the continued development of the Oakland offense, fantasy players were excited for Coop’s potential this season. To this point, he has disappointed most, but I think that’s only because the bar was set so high. He has yet to find the end zone this season, but the scores will come. The Raiders have  a high-powered offense, and they love to air it out. Cooper is on pace for over 1,300 yards this season, and he is 6th among wideouts in yards after the catch, which means he is a great playmaker. All Carr has to do is get the ball in Amari’s hands, and he’ll make things happen. As Michael Crabtree continues to torch defenses, he’ll garner more attention, and that will only open up more space for Cooper to work.

Sell High – Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
There is a combination of factors that explain why I believe that you should sell Alshon Jeffery. He’s not a sell high candidate because of the numbers he’s put up this year, but more because he’s the “number one” option on a bad team with a pretty favorable fantasy schedule the rest of the way. Jeffery, like Cooper, has yet to find the end zone this year, and I don’t think that’s a fluke as with Cooper. John Fox wants to run the football, and even when down in games, establishing the run will be important for him, especially with Brian Hoyer under center. Jeffery had just 46 yards receiving against the Lions, and that’s probably the best matchup he’ll have the rest of the season. Eddie Royal and Zach Miller have shown a good connection with Hoyer, and Jordan Howard is going to seize a lot of touches in the backfield. As crazy as it sounds, the odd man out might be Jeffery, if he can even stay healthy. Alshon has a tendency to get hurt, and he is currently a little banged up. It’s hard to rely on him, and I’d try to move him for a similarly ranked wide receiver that you can trust more. Julian Edelman and Brandon Marshall are two guys that come to mind.

 

Fantasy Start/Sit

Quarterbacks

Start
Philip Rivers
Not only does the Raiders’ defense struggle to stop anyone, but they also should be leading this game, forcing Philip Rivers to throw the ball more. And we all know Rivers needs no excuse to air it out. The Chargers are banged up, but they can still put up points. This is a fantastic matchup for Rivers, and you should start him if you have him.

Carson Wentz
A dream matchup for the red hot Carson Wentz. The Lions just allowed Brian Hoyer to throw for 302 yards and two touchdowns. The only worry here would be the Eagles going up big early and then putting it into cruise control, but I think Wentz ends up the reason they go up big early.

Sit
Kirk Cousins
The Ravens did give up four touchdown passes last week, but Kirk Cousins isn’t Derek Carr. Plus, Carr only threw for 199 yards to go with those touchdowns. Coming off a home loss, the Ravens will be motivated to win this game, and this will be the best defense Cousins has faced this year.

Tyrod Taylor
Taylor has started to turn a corner, and the offense as a whole has looked much more in sync the last two weeks, but this week will be tough for the Bills. The Rams have a very good defense, and I think the lack of depth at WR for Buffalo will work against them for the first time this week. Traveling all the way to Los Angeles won’t help matters either.

Running Backs

Start
Jordan Howard
The Bears drafted a really talented running back, and all it took was injuries to Jeremy Langford and KaDeem Carey for him to show what he can do. Howard ran for 111 yards against Detroit last week, and this week he gets a terrible Colts’ defense who is returning from London. All systems go on Howard this week.

Devonta Freeman
Believe it or not, the Broncos are giving up over 110 rushing yards a game. Their strength is against the pass, so look for the Falcons to run the ball more than usual. On top of that, Tevin Coleman has a sickle cell trait that could affect him in the high altitude in Denver, so I expect Freeman to get the bulk of the work on Sunday.

Sit
Matt Forte
I bet Forte owners are missing the first two weeks. His torrid pace has almost completely evaporated over the last two weeks, and he is dealing with knee and rib injuries. Imagine that, Matt Forte is hurt. Bilal Powell has played well the last two weeks as well, and could continue to eat into Forte’s share of the touches.

DeAngelo Williams
Those of you who decided to start Williams last week despite Le’Veon Bell’s return got extremely lucky. A garbage time touchdown bailed you out. You can’t expect that every week. This isn’t a timeshare. Bell is the bell cow (pun intended) and Williams will see some touches, but not enough to make him worth starting in fantasy.

Wide Receivers

Start
Julian Edelman
Tom Brady is back. Do you need to hear anything else? You shouldn’t. The carousel at the QB position is now done in New England, and Edelman will benefit the most. The rapport he has had with Tom Brady the last few years is fantastic, and if anybody is happier than Brady owners now that he’s back, it’s Edelman owners.

Quincy Enunwa
Eric Decker is again unlikely to play with the rotator cuff injury, and I expect the Steelers to be up big in this game. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to throw the ball, and they can’t all go to Brandon Marshall. Enunwa has had a great start to the season, and I think that will continue this week. Pick him up if he’s still available in your league.

Sit
DeAndre Hopkins
You saw how the Vikings shut down Odell Beckham Jr. last week, right? And you realize that Kelvin Benjamin had zero catches against them the previous week, right? I know it will be hard to sit DeAndre Hopkins, but trust me, I wouldn’t even have him in my lineup this week. The Vikings’ defense is that good.

Stefon Diggs
Staying in the same game, Diggs’s numbers have gone down each game, and he has a tough one-on-one matchup this week against Johnathan Joseph. Diggs will be okay for the long run, but this is a week to keep him on your bench. That will be a low scoring game.

Tight Ends

Start
Zach Ertz
The Eagles are expecting Ertz to return this week, and he gets a sweet matchup against the Lions. Wentz targeted Ertz seven times in week one, and he could see a similar number of targets, if not more, this week against Detroit. Ertz is a must-start if he plays.

Zach Miller
I’m going with a pair of Zach’s this week. Brian Hoyer has hit Miller 11 times over the last two weeks (12 targets), and three of those 11 were touchdowns. The Colts’ defense is not good at all, and I think Zach Miller could have a field day against them.

Sit
Gary Barnidge
Barnidge has been targeted 13 times over the last two weeks, but those games were against two mediocre defenses (Miami and Washington). The Patriots are a much better defense, and they have linebackers that can give Barnidge fits in coverage. There are better options out there this week.

Jacob Tamme
His targets have gone way down over the last couple weeks, and now he has to face the Broncos. It’s probably best to stay away this week and wait for a better matchup before you start Tamme again.

NFL Week 4

We are three weeks into the 2016-17 NFL season, and things are beginning to take shape. The Broncos are still a Super Bowl contender, the Patriots are still one of the top teams in the league even without Tom Brady and the Eagles and Ravens have surprised everyone en route to 3-0 starts. The Cardinals, Bengals and Panthers have struggled out of the gate, while the Falcons, Raiders and Giants look to be playoff contenders.

There is still a long way to go, but we are starting to recognize which teams are for real and which are in for a very long season. This week I’ll give you my Top-10 teams, along with the teams that are trending up and trending down, and then as always, we’ll look at who you should start and sit in fantasy this week.

Jay’s Top-10 Teams

1 – New England Patriots

 

2 – Minnesota Vikings

 

3 – Denver Broncos

 

4 – Green Bay Packers

 

5 – Pittsburgh Steelers

 

6 – Carolina Panthers

 

7 – Seattle Seahawks

 

8 – Kansas City Chiefs

 

9 – Arizona Cardinals

 

10 – Philadelphia Eagles

Next Five Up – Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons

Who’s Trending?

Trending Up

Philadelphia Eagles

I am willing to admit when I am wrong, and it would appear as though I was probably wrong in my judgement of the Eagles. I mean, I don’t think you can blame me. Wins over Cleveland and Chicago were nothing to write home about. But then this past week, they absolutely annihilated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 in front of a very excited crowd in Philly. Carson Wentz continued to show that he is well on his way to being a top quarterback in the league, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns. I know last week I said to pump the brakes on the Wentz Wagon, but again, I’m willing to eat crow when I feel it’s necessary. I’m still not ready to crown him the next king, but Carson Wentz has all the looks of a top-flight NFL quarterback, something Philadelphia has desperately needed since the end of the McNabb era.

With this 3-0 start, talk has shifted to whether or not this team can compete for a playoff spot. They are now at 22-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, and they’ve been tabbed as the new favorite to win the NFC East. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, I think it is fair to call this team a playoff contender, but they have a tough stretch coming up. Their bye is this week, which is honestly the worst possible time for their bye. They have tons of momentum, and a week off could take some of that away. They travel to Detroit following the bye, which should be another win. Then they hit the middle of their schedule, which is a brutal 8-game stretch that will look like this:

at Washington
vs Minnesota
at Dallas
at New York Giants
vs Atlanta
at Seattle
vs Green Bay
at Cincinnati

They will benefit from playing three divisional home games at the end of the year, but they’ll need to make it through those eight games in order for those games to mean something. They’ve had a terrific start to the year, but they have a lot more to prove in the middle of the season. We’ll see just how good this team is.

Minnesota Vikings

One of those teams the Eagles will have to contend with is the Minnesota Vikings, who through three weeks have the look of this year’s Broncos. From seemingly out of nowhere, the Vikings defense has become one of the best in the league, and the numbers back that up. Here’s how they’ve started this season:

Week 1 at Tennessee – 16 points allowed, 2 sacks, 77-yard interception return for TD, 2 fumble recoveries, 24-yard fumble return for TD
Week 2 vs Green Bay – 14 points allowed, 5 sacks, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries
Week 3 at Carolina – 10 points allowed, 8 sacks, 3 interceptions, 54-yard punt return for TD

It was easy to overlook the performance against the Titans, but the way they played against the two previous NFL MVPs (Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers) cannot be ignored. They dominated both of those games, and I think it is time to call the Vikings’ defense one of the top units in football. They face another high-octane offense this week when they take on the Giants, but based on these first few weeks, the Vikings should handle business once again thanks to their defense. It’s early, but I think the Vikings are the early favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams

It’s no secret that Week 1 was a disaster for the Rams. They lost 28-0 to the Rams, and it looked even worse than that. Todd Gurley was invisible and Case Keenum looked horrendous. They were able to bounce back in Week 2 with a 9-3 win in their home opener against Seattle. They have owned the Seahawks as of late, and I think the excited LA crowd helped will the Rams to a victory, because the stats were nothing spectacular. The defense was great, but that is expected.

This past week it finally all came together for the Rams, as they traveled to Tampa Bay and came away with a 37-32 win despite a lengthy weather delay in the 4th quarter. It was an all-around effort for the Rams, with Case Keenum throwing two touchdown passes, Todd Gurley rushing for two scores of his own and a huge 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown early in the final frame from Ethan Westbrooks. Maybe a slight concern that the defense gave up so many yards (472) and so many points, but in a game where the offense needed to step up, it did. West coast teams playing on the East coast is always difficult, and the Rams were able to come away with a victory. They hit the road again this week for a tough matchup with a Cardinals team that desperately needs a win. If the Rams can come out on top this week, they might be for real.

Trending Down

Carolina Panthers

I know I just got done talking about how good the Vikings’ defense is this year, but the Panthers are the defending NFC champions, and they went 15-1 in the regular season last year. Plus they got star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin back. There is no way that they should have been shut down the way they were by the Vikings, and there is one simple reason that they were… their offensive line.

All last season, Cam Newton was able to thrive despite a below-average offensive line, an offensive line that would eventually let him down against Denver in the Super Bowl. Cam has been terrorized twice now this year, against the Broncos and Vikings, the two teams there were able to get pressure on him. It’s clear that teams with a good pass rush will give Carolina trouble, and they’ll have success against teams with a weak front seven. They are still probably the favorites to win the NFC South, but they’ll have to play better if they want to return to the Super Bowl.

New York Jets

I did not think that the Jets would be able to get a win in Kansas City last week, but I did expect them to at least try to compete. Ryan Fitzpatrick turned in the worst performance of his career, going 20/44 for 188 yards and six, yes, SIX interceptions en route to a 24-3 loss. It seemed at times like the Chiefs’ defenders were the intended target for Fitzpatrick.

It was a very discouraging performance from a team that’s looking to challenge the Patriots for the AFC East. One issue is that it might get worse for the Jets before it gets better. Their next three games are vs Seattle, at Pittsburgh and at Arizona. They don’t even play the Patriots until after Thanksgiving, and at that point, the season may be long gone already. They really need to beat the Seahawks this week.

New Orleans Saints

It’s unfortunate for football fans, but the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era in New Orleans is coming to an end, and it doesn’t appear to be going out on top. The Saints fell to 0-3, losing at home to the Falcons on Monday night, 45-32. Drew Brees is still at the top of his game, throwing for over 375 yards and three touchdowns, but the Saints’ defense cannot stop anybody.

They gave up 35 points to the Raiders at home Week 1, then went to New York and only gave up 16 points to the Giants (but gave up a ton of yardage) and Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman went crazy against them on Monday. The Saints can score, but so can every team facing them. They travel to the West coast this week to take on a depleted Chargers team. It’ll be tough after the long trip, but if the Saints can’t get the win, they’ll fall to 0-4, and the contract extension they just gave Brees this past offseason will look like an even bigger mistake than it already does.

Fantasy Start/Sit

Quarterbacks

Start
Matthew Stafford
Stafford is going to be a Top-10 quarterback for the rest of the season, and a matchup with the depleted Bears’ defense is just the type of matchup that Stafford can exploit. With Ameer Abdullah on the IR, the Lions will want to throw even more. Stafford has developed great chemistry with Marvin Jones, and he also has Golden Tate, Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron to toss the rock to. I think Stafford is a Top-3 QB this week, start him if you have him.

Philip Rivers
Yes, Rivers was here last week, and he didn’t throw a single touchdown pass, so I apologize. But he did throw it 39 times, and ended up with 330 yards in the air. Oh, and he gets to face the Saints at home this week. Yeah, that Saints’ defense that I just got done ripping on. Rivers will tear them apart. Trust me again this week, play Rivers.

Dak Prescott
Aaron Rodgers owners are going to need a fill-in for this week. I say that you can do a lot worse than Dak. Yes, it’s a road game, but the 49ers’ defense is nothing special. And despite reports that Dez Bryant will not play, I still like his chances to have a really good game. If you need to grab a QB off the waiver wire, go with Dak.

Sit
Matt Ryan
I know you’ll be tempted to start him given his impressive start to this season. Ryan leads the league in passing, but he faces the Panthers this week, and they easily have the best secondary that he’ll have faced so far this season. Don’t feel like you need to start him this week just because he’s been so good. He’s a prime candidate for regression, and that starts this Sunday.

Russell Wilson
Hey, I can’t be right every time. Yes, I told you to sit him last week and yes, he went off. But that was at home against the 49ers. This week, all the way across the country against an above-average Jets’ secondary, oh, and he has an injured ankle. He may not even play. But if he does, think about sitting him on your bench this week. You can probably do better.

Eli Manning
With injuries to Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, the expectation is that the Giants will lean even more heavily on Eli and the passing game to win them some contests. That probably will hold true as the season continues, but this week the Giants face the Vikings in primetime. The Vikings love to blitz and they have a great secondary. This won’t be Eli’s finest performance.

Running Backs

Start
DeMarco Murray
With Marcus Mariota struggling, the Titans will continue to rely on the run game, and Murray has been fantastic so far this season. He’s been exactly what they were hoping for when they traded for him this offseason. He is also among the leaders in receptions for running backs, so he has added appeal in PPR formats. The Texans defense is good, but Murray gets great volume, and he is an RB1 until they stop giving him the ball, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.

Charles Sims
Take advantage of Sims before Doug Martin gets healthy. I know he is facing the Broncos’ defense, but believe it or not, Denver ranks 30th in the league in defending the run. Sims is the every down back with Martin on the shelf, and there aren’t many backs who will get the carries and the targets that he will. Don’t worry about the matchup, start Sims this week.

Jordan Howard
If you were lucky enough to grab Howard off of your league’s waiver wire this week, congratulations are in order! Howard is clearly the most talented player in the Bears’ backfield, and now it looks like he’ll finally get the opportunity to show what he can do. And there’s no better matchup for him than the Lions. They struggle against the run, and I expect Howard to have a breakout game this week.

Sit
Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman
After Monday night, I know you’ll have a hard time sitting these guys. And odds are, you don’t have better options. But if you do have other options, consider sitting these two. The Panthers defense is no joke, and I expect the Falcons’ offense to struggle. I feel more comfortable starting Coleman of the two due to his success in the red zone. Each have received 10 carries from inside the 20-yard line. Coleman has 45 yards and four touchdowns. Freeman has 17 yards and zero touchdowns. Coleman has the better chance to find the end zone, so I’d start him over Freeman.

Latavius Murray
The Raiders backfield has turned into a three-way timeshare with Murray (32% rush percentage last week), DeAndre Washington (33%)  and Jalen Richard (29%). It’s a positive for the Raiders, but a negative for fantasy owners. Unfortunately, you have to depend on touchdowns with Latavius Murray, which he has gotten you so far. He’s a FLEX play at best this week, and probably for the remainder of the season.

Matt Jones
It’s probably tempting considering the matchup with the Browns, but the Redskins run game has been virtually nonexistent. It’s the Kirk Cousins show, and Matt Jones is affected most by it. Until the Skins’ offense becomes more balanced, I wouldn’t be comfortable starting Jones.

Wide Receivers

Start
Kelvin Benjamin
You may be surprised to see him here, but it’s only because he put up a goose egg last week, and I’m here to assure you that it will only be viewed as an outlier in an otherwise great season. The Vikings’ defense didn’t give Cam time to breathe, let alone find Benjamin on the outside. Kelvin will bounce back against the Falcons this week, and produce closer to what he did in the first two weeks of the season.

Travis Benjamin/Tyrell Williams
See Philip Rivers above. But seriously, the Chargers are going to throw, and these are the top two guys. Benjamin is the de facto #1 option, and Tyrell Williams has quietly had at least 60 receiving yards in each of the first three games this year. Benjamin is a WR2 this week, and Williams is a great FLEX play with WR2 upside.

Allen Hurns
Vontae Davis will shadow Allen Robinson, and in the two meetings last year against Indianapolis, Hurns went off. He had 11 receptions for 116 yards and a score in the first game, then had 3 grabs for 105 yards and another score in the second matchup. Blake Bortles is going to throw, and Robinson could be blanketed all day long. I like Hurns a lot this week.

Sit
Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker
Both have injury concerns, and they’re facing the Seahawks. It’s as simple as that. I like the Jets to have a good shot to win the game, but for fantasy purposes, I don’t like Marshall or Decker.

Brandin Cooks
I know, you’re almost definitely starting Cooks this week if you have him. He was very quiet against the Falcons, and Drew Brees likes to spread the ball around. He’s still a Top-10 wide receiver this week for most experts, but Jason Verrett has been fantastic for San Diego so far this season. He’ll be on Cooks for most of the day. You’re going to start Cooks, but just don’t be surprised if he has another rough day.

Doug Baldwin
Baldwin had a 2015-esque performance last week against San Francisco, but with his quarterback banged up and a trip East to New York, I don’t see Baldwin having the same type of performance this week. Revis Island isn’t as daunting a trip as it used to be, but it’s enough along with those other factors for me to sit Baldwin this week.

Tight Ends

Start
Dennis Pitta
Start tight ends facing the Raiders. The rule still applies until they prove me otherwise. Plus, he has been targeted 20 times in the last two games, so Flacco clearly likes to throw the rock Pitta’s way. Pick him up if he’s still somehow available in your league. If you have him, start him this week.

Kyle Rudolph
Thank you Sam Bradford! He has turned Rudolph into a TE1 despite being drafted as a TE2 (if he was even drafted in your league). He’s a huge target in the middle of the field and in the red zone. The Vikings’ offense hasn’t lit the world on fire, but the Giants’ defense is a good matchup. I like Rudolph this week.

Sit
Hunter Henry
Don’t be tempted to pick him up and start him. Yes, Antonio Gates is hurt and yes, they are facing the Saints. I just don’t think Henry is a very talented pass catcher or route runner, and that will hold him back. Rivers has other targets, and you’ll likely have other tight ends available that you have a better chance to get more out of this week.

Martellus Bennett
I don’t see the Gronk/Bennett combo being anything like the Gronk/Hernandez combo was. It was nice to have Bennett while Gronk was out, but with him back in the lineup, and not as a decoy like he clearly was used last week, Bennett’s fantasy value takes a major hit. Especially this week against a Bills’ defense that effectively shut down the high-powered Cardinals’ offense last week.

NFL Week 3

We are two weeks into the season, and only a quarter of the league is undefeated (even less than that now with New England’s win over Houston last night). We still have 15 weeks to go, but there are some things that are starting to take shape. We can see some teams that are going to be major factors at the end of the season, and some other teams that already look like their seasons are over.

This week, I’ll give my Top-10 teams, I’ll look at which hot takes I’m buying into and which ones I’m selling for now, and I’ll finish it off with a look at who you should start and sit in fantasy this week.

Jay’s Top-10 Teams

1 – New England Patriots
An easy win over Miami with Garoppolo at quarterback, and an even easier win over Houston with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. I think every team in the NFL should be scared due to how New England is performing without its future 1st-ballot Hall of Fame QB. If you didn’t think so before last night, now you know that this is the best team in the league right now.

2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh won a physical, sloppy game over division rival Cincinnati on Sunday. They turned the ball over a few times, but we can chalk that up to the conditions and an above-average Bengals defense. One more week without Le’Veon Bell, but DeAngelo Williams has filled in quite nicely. That will be a hell of a two-headed monster in a couple weeks.

3 – Carolina Panthers
Cam and company took care of business this week in their home opener with a 46-27 win over San Francisco. That’s a lot of points to give up, but when your offense can almost hang 50, you’re going to win most games. A huge matchup with the scary Minnesota Vikings defense comes this week.

4 – Arizona Cardinals
As I expected, Arizona bounced back this week with a statement 40-7 win over the Buccaneers. The entire team was clicking, and with San Fran, Seattle and LA all looking subpar at best, it looks like the Cards could run away with the division this year.

5 – Denver Broncos
We all knew the Broncos defense was good, but, and I know this sounds a little crazy, they might be better than we even thought. They kept Andrew Luck in check and scored twice themselves on Sunday. Von Miller is a machine, and throwing against that secondary cannot be done confidently (I wouldn’t think anyway). With the Chiefs and Raiders having issues, the Broncos appear to be in the AFC West driver’s seat.

6 – Green Bay Packers
The Packers suffered a setback this week in their 17-14 loss to Minnesota, but I wouldn’t worry too much. The offense isn’t really clicking just yet, but it will. Don’t read too much into their struggles through two weeks, they are still a Super Bowl contender.

7 – Minnesota Vikings
It was looking like a great time to get excited about the Vikings’ prospects for this season, and then Adrian Peterson went down with a knee injury. The projected timetable varies anywhere from four days to four weeks to four months, so we’ll have to wait and see on that. But I think this team, even without AP, is a Top-10 team led by their defense, which has looked absolutely fantastic through the first two weeks.

8 – Houston Texans
I’m not ready to give up on the Texans just yet, especially considering the win last Sunday over Kansas City, but my goodness did they look awful in New England last night. I recognize that it was their first road game, but c’mon man. The offense didn’t run a play in NE territory until late in the 3rd quarter, and the defense, which looked so good the first two weeks, couldn’t stop Jacoby Brissett making his first career start. This team isn’t dead yet, but they need to rebound next week.

9 – Kansas City Chiefs
I might have had the Chiefs ranked a little high last week, but I liked what I saw in their comeback against San Diego. That being said, they really flipped the script on me this past week against Houston. Alex Smith looked horrendous, and without a 100% Jamaal Charles, that could spell some trouble for them down the line. They are expected to get Charles back this week against the Jets, but we do not know just how healthy he is yet.

10 – Seattle Seahawks
Alright, now it’s definitely time to panic. The Seahawks offense looks downright anemic, and that’s not to take away from the Rams defense, but man, Pete Carroll has his work cut out for him. The defense is going to have to hold teams to 14 points or less, and that might not even be enough. They are only still in my Top-10 because of their defense.

Next Five Up – New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens

Buy or Sell

We’re only two weeks into the season, but you’ll see a lot of people taking these small sample sizes and making predictions for the rest of the season. Here are some things I’ve heard from experts and the like, which ones I’m buying into and which ones I think we should hold off on for at least a little while longer.

Buying:

Houston Texans as Super Bowl Contenders
Maybe I’m being a bit premature, but based on what I’ve seen through two weeks, I am on the Texans’ bandwagon. Now granted, their first two games were both at home, one against a terrible Bears team and the other against a Chiefs team playing without Jamaal Charles, who is arguably their best player. That being said, these Texans have the look of a team that can compete for a title. Brock Osweiler has started off nicely in Houston, and he has lots of weapons around him. Lamar Miller has been as advertised, DeAndre Hopkins is probably one of the five best receivers in football, and rookie 2nd Round pick Will Fuller just became the first rookie to start his career with two 100-yard games since DeSean Jackson. Add that to one of the best defenses in the league led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, and I think you have the recipe for a team that could make some serious noise in January.

*So I wrote that little blurb on Tuesday of this week, and as I should have expected, they went and laid an egg against the Patriots. I still believe most of what I wrote, but better to disregard it*

Downfall of Seattle
All I keep hearing is that the Seahawks always seem to struggle in September, but they eventually figure it out, and they will again this year. It just seems different this time around though. Don’t get me wrong, the defense is still elite, but even the best defenses need their offenses to contribute at least a little bit. Right now, the Seahawks offense is atrocious. It all starts in the trenches, and even though the O-line wasn’t great when they went to back-to-back Super Bowls, it has gotten progressively worse. Pro Football Focus ranked Seattle’s O-line dead last in the league entering this season, and it shows. Russell Wilson is running for his life (if he even gets a chance to run) and there are no holes for Thomas Rawls or Christine Michael. Remember, Marshawn Lynch created a lot of the holes on his own. Neither Rawls nor Michael are talented enough to do what Beast Mode could do. This team may be able to figure it out and sneak into the playoffs, but they’ll have some rough sledding ahead, and it’ll take a transformation of sorts to get them there.

Kelvin Benjamin as a Top-10 WR
We saw glimpses of greatness from him as a rookie in 2014 when he totaled 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns. That’s quite a stat line for a rookie. There was lots of buzz for his second season in Carolina, but he proceeded to suffer a torn ACL during training camp, ending his 2015 season before it could start. Many experts ranked him cautiously given the knee injury, and how it is difficult to project how a player will bounce back. If the small sample size is any indication, Benjamin has responded swimmingly. He has 13 grabs for 199 yards and 3 scores in the first two games of the season, and has picked up right where he left off as Cam Newton’s top target. At 6-5 and 245 pounds, Benjamin is a terror for opposing cornerbacks and safeties, and if he can stay healthy, he is on his way to getting back in the conversation as one of the top wideouts in the league.

Selling:

The Wentz Wagon
Before a bunch of Eagles fans show up at my house with torches and pitchforks, just hear me out. I think that Carson Wentz has looked really good through his first two career games. He has showed nice touch, good accuracy and an ability to move in the pocket and create some plays. I think the future could be bright for him. That being said, it cannot be ignored who he is playing against. The Browns and Bears’ secondaries were ranked 25th and 31st in the league respectively by Pro Football Focus entering this season, and the Eagles have dominated these two mediocre teams to the point where Wentz has yet to be put in a high-pressure situation. He has the tools to succeed in those situations, but we won’t know until we see it. That should come as soon as this Sunday when he faces his first true test against perennial Super Bowl contenders, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Again, I think the future is bright for Carson Wentz, and I am impressed by his performance thus far, but I think everyone needs to pump the brakes a little bit on the Wentz Wagon and wait to see how he performs against much stiffer competition.

Todd Gurley’s Struggles
I don’t really have anything statistical to explain my stance on this (other than Gurley’s stats from last season, which were 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in just 13 games), but I think it’s too early to worry about Todd Gurley. Yes, he’s had a rough start to the season, totaling 98 yards on 36 carries (2.7 YPC) through the first two games of the season. There are a combination of factors that could explain this though. While the 49ers defense is not strong, the strength of it is the front seven. Also, the Rams were down early in that game, and Gurley did not get much run in the second half of that game. In Week 2, the Rams were facing the always stout Seattle run defense, so rough sledding was to be expected for Gurley. LA’s offensive line is not great, but they should improve as the season wears on. I also expect Jeff Fisher to get the passing game going, whether it’s Keenum or Goff, and that should open up some more running room for Gurley. He’s running against 8-man boxes, and that’s not easy for anybody. Todd Gurley is just way too talented a rusher for these struggles to continue. I think he’s just having a tough time getting it going here in the beginning of the season, and with time will come improvement.

An Improved Jaguars Squad
There was a ton of hype entering the season around this supposedly improved Jacksonville Jaguars team. In fact, I recall Jeff and I sitting at the bar one day during training camp, and two NFL Network analysts went through the Jags schedule. They predicted a 10-6 season. Jeff and I laughed hysterically. If memory serves, we agreed that 8-8 was a realistic goal, but 10-6 was a major stretch, and they were still at least another year away from competing for a playoff spot. And here we are, two weeks into the season, and I think the Jags are clearly the weakest team in the AFC South. Their run game is still virtually inexistent (granted Chris Ivory is yet to make his debut, but I think the O-line is the biggest reason for that), Blake Bortles has yet to take the next step in his development and despite a huge focus on defense in the offseason, they just gave up 38 points to a mediocre Chargers team missing Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, its two biggest playmakers. A home game against Baltimore this week is a good opportunity for Gus Bradley to start to right the ship. The Ravens are 2-0, but haven’t looked overly impressive in getting there. If the Jags fall to 0-3, the season may already be over.

 

Fantasy Start/Sit

As with last week, and as it will be each week moving forward, you won’t start or sit all of these guys depending on who else you have on your roster. This is more just a look at who is playing well or struggling, and which players have good matchups this week and which ones don’t.

Quarterbacks

Start
Matt Ryan
There’s no better streaming option this week at quarterback than Matt Ryan. He just torched the Raiders’ defense last week, and now gets a matchup with what might be an even worse secondary in New Orleans. If you have Matt Ryan, you start him this week.

Philip Rivers
I don’t care that he’s missing his two best playmakers. Playing indoors against the Colts is the perfect recipe for a big game from Mr. Bolo Tie.

Sit
Russell Wilson
Now obviously, depending who else you have on your roster at QB, you’re probably going to start Wilson this week against San Fran. But what I’m telling you is that if you have even a decent second option, start them this week. Until the Seahawks figure out what’s wrong, I wouldn’t feel confident about putting him in my lineup.

Carson Wentz
I know a lot of you are on the hype train, but despite how well he’s played, he hasn’t put up numbers yet to suggest you should be starting him in fantasy. Especially not against the Steelers defense.

Running Backs

Start
Theo Riddick
Ameer Abdullah was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a foot injury, and that makes Riddick the clear #1 back in Detroit. It’s not a fantastic matchup against Green Bay, but Riddick was already the pass catching back, and now he’s probably also the lead runner. He is a solid RB2 this week, and every week after this as long as Abdullah is on the shelf.

Tevin Coleman
I think that both Coleman and starter Devonta Freeman are solid plays this week against the Saints, but take this suggestion as your glimpse into the future. As this season wears on, Coleman will slowly (but surely) continue to eat into Freeman’s usage share. Freeman had more yards last week against Oakland, but Coleman found the end zone. If you have both, I’d consider starting Coleman over Freeman this week (or start both).

Sit
Spencer Ware
Time is running out for those of you who scooped up Ware when it was announced that Jamaal Charles wouldn’t be ready for the season opener. Charles is expected to make his debut this week, and while that alone takes away value from Ware, they also face the Jets’ very good run defense. This combination of factors means you should probably try your best to avoid starting Ware this week.

Asiata/McKinnon/Whittaker/Artis-Payne
This is the collection of backs that are going to be replacing the injured Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Stewart, and let me be the one to tell you not to start any of them. For one thing, we have no clue how the snaps will be split for any of them. Also, the teams are facing each other, and both the Vikings and Panthers have excellent run defenses. You can be excited if you were able to pick up any of these guys, but don’t start them this week.

Wide Receivers

Start
Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb
I know you’re probably starting these guys regardless, but I just want to make you feel a little more comfortable about it. I know Aaron Rodgers is struggling, and the offense looks out of sync, but there’s nothing to cure that faster than a matchup with the Lions. Nelson and Cobb are both great plays this week.

Tajae Sharpe
I like to think that the Raiders are going to figure it out defensively at some point this season, but until they do, it’s a good idea to start any receivers you have facing them. This week, that’s Tajae Sharpe of the Titans. He has yet to break out like people thought he might, but there’s a good chance we could see that breakout game this week.

Sit
Sammy Watkins
Rex Ryan says they need to get the ball in Sammy’s hands more often. That’s all well and good, but a guy by the name of Patrick Peterson is most likely going to be shadowing Watkins for the entire game Sunday. That’s not all well and good. Watkins should be fine for the season, but this week, I’d do whatever I could to avoid putting him in your lineup.

John Brown
Poor John Brown. The guy has so much potential, and for whatever reason, he just can’t seem to put it all together. He’s been targeted just seven times through two games, and it seems like Palmer prefers Jaron Brown as a deep threat. Maybe they’re trying to bring him along slowly due to his preseason head injury, but for right now, you just can’t start this guy.

Tight Ends

Start
Jacob Tamme
Who is the second highest scoring tight end so far this year in PPR leagues? That’s right, it’s Jacob Tamme. Despite the presence of Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper and Freeman/Coleman, Jacob Tamme has put up solid numbers so far this season. He was targeted EIGHT times last week against Oakland, and could see a similar target share this week against New Orleans. I think Tamme is a must-start this week.

Dennis Pitta
Pitta has 12 receptions through two games (tied with Olsen, Reed and Witten for the most among tight ends), and has easily outperformed Maxx Williams and Crockett Gilmore. Joe Flacco loves his tight ends, and it’s another great matchup this week against Jacksonville. You can do much worse than Pitta.

Sit
Coby Fleener
Jeff touched on this last week, but for the love of God, sit Coby Fleener on your bench. Better yet, drop him from your team. There are options on your waiver wire that will produce more consistently for you than Fleener will (Vance McDonald, Jesse James, Kyle Rudolph just to name a few). Fleener is not worth owning, as he and Drew Brees just do not have any chemistry. One catch Week 1, two catches Week 2. Unless he continues to catch the same number of passes as the week of the game, he’s not worth having on your team.

Trey Burton
I know you’ll probably be tempted to add him to your roster after a nice performance Monday night, but I wouldn’t start him this week against Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ linebackers are very good against tight ends (they shut down CJ Uzomah last week and held Jordan Reed somewhat in check Week 1), and I think the entire Eagles’ passing game could struggle. I’m fine if you want to roster Burton until Zach Ertz returns, but don’t start him this week.