Welcome to this week’s Fantasy Thursday, where I am coming to grips with a very real fear of a team in one of my leagues. Not like a “wow, that team’s pretty good, hope I can catch them on a good bye week” type of fear, but a “maybe I should accidently hit the Reset Draft button” type of fear. This week his team scored 161 points in standard scoring! ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY POINTS. Then I forgot that we had agreed to do PPR, so after I adjusted the scoring settings his total was actually 189!!! Needless to say, I am completely without hope for that league and am really struggling to find purpose in fantasy football, as well as in life.
Wow, kind of a heavy opening, huh? Let me apologize for getting my existential identity crisis all over your football-hungry eyes. Let’s get to the good stuff! It was a wild, wild weekend in the world of fantasy, people. I’m talkin’ two of the AFC’s most dependable quarterbacks going touchdown-less kind of crazy. I’m talkin’ tight ends leading the league in receiving touchdowns kind of crazy. I’m talkin’ Eli Manning is a poorly-made interception robot that some eighth grader whipped up a week before the science fair kind of…well I guess that’s not actually all that crazy, it’s actually exactly what you should expect. As for that eighth grader I’ve got to say, shoddy workmanship at best, buddy. You could have at least jammed a working voice-box in that Eli-bot of yours; I can barely understand the damn thing in all of those atrocious commercials. To the lists!
Five Guys You Absolutely Need To Start This Week
- Kansas City Defense, Chiefs. Didn’t expect to see a defense heading up this list, did you? Usually I’d call it nonsense, but Peyton Manning is offering you a deal that you absolutely can’t refuse! His inability to get the ball down the field against Baltimore combined with his legendary helplessness when the pocket breaks down means the Chiefs should be racking plenty of sacks, allowing very few points, and most likely adding a couple of interceptions thanks to that mean pass rush.
- Ameer Abdullah, Lions. If you saw 49ers vs. Vikings on Monday night then you bore witness to the haplessness of Minnesota’s run defense. Carlos Hyde took whatever he wanted from them, whether it was straight up the middle, getting to the edge untouched countless times, or avoiding tacklers to find open space. Abdullah should continue the breakout rookie campaign he started against San Diego with ease.
- Matt Ryan/Julio Jones, Falcons. After seeing how effortless Tony Romo’s back-to-back touchdown drives were on Sunday against the Giants, I’m not convinced that they’ll be much more of a challenge for Atlanta’s passing attack. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll be a challenge to any quarterback with at least one legitimate receiving option.
- Chris Ivory, Jets. It really pains me to include a Jester on this list, but that’s how much I care about you guys. The Colts run defense has been absolutely atrocious for the duration of the Andrew Luck era and this season looks like more of the same. Expect Ivory to have a great day in Indianapolis.
- Karlos Williams, Bills. One weakness (and really, the only weakness) that I saw in New England’s victory over Pittsburgh was the inability at times to stop the run. I don’t expect this to continue over the season, but you can always count on Rex Ryan to lean on a productive rushing attack and stingy defense to give the Patriots a close game. Except when his Jets were being beaten by 43-point margins, but we won’t mention that now, let him enjoy his first season in Buffalo.
Five Guys That I Wouldn’t Start This Week Because Eh…
- Frank Gore, Colts. I know you’re convinced that Gore is heating up and set for a big week, but trust me when I say this: the Jets defense is not kind to running backs. Once the Colts realize how futile to keep the ball on the ground against that unit Andrew Luck may end up throwing 90 passes before the game is over.
- Demaryius Thomas, Broncos. (See #1 on list above) In addition to Peyton’s struggles throwing the ball, Kansas City will certainly have Thomas bracketed. It’s not shaping up to be a very successful day for DT.
- Martellus Bennett, Bears. The Cardinals showed last week that their secondary very well may live up to all of the hype it received in the offseason. Bennett has a less-than-favorable matchup with Tyrann Mathieu in the middle of field, a term which here means unconquerable.
- Andy Dalton, Bengals. You cut out all of that laughing! I know some of you went all-out for receivers and backs in PPR leagues and ended up with Dalton as your starting quarterback. Hopefully you lucked into a good 2nd option at QB because San Diego’s defensive backfield absolutely shut down Detroit in the second half of Sunday’s game and I expect that tight, physical play to continue in Cincinnati.
- Allen Robinson, Jaguars. Robinson’s fantasy stock sky-rocketed throughout the offseason, but this week doesn’t look like an occasion when that potential will be fulfilled. Miami’s secondary looked every bit as-advertised on Sunday against the Redskins and by no means should Jacksonville’s receiving corps be too much for them to handle.
This Week’s Tough Calls™
This week’s tough calls were provided by my boy Austen all the way from Crooked Creek Ranch in Colorado. Austen had three pretty great tough calls that many of you may be facing, or if not, at least something strikingly similar. Solving these fantasy conundrums will be about as tough as Austen on the basketball court (hint: VERY TOUGH).
Jordan Cameron or Tyler Eifert?
I really love this one, particularly because I scoured the waiver wire for Eifert this week and even tried to trade for him last night. Eifert has a high ceiling as Cincy’s only strong receiving option behind A.J. Green, but as Austen pointed out when he sent this question in, Cameron has a very favorable matchup with Jacksonville’s defense this week. Down the stretch I really like Eifert, but San Diego’s very physical linebackers will bend a lot less for Eifert than the Jags will for Cameron.
Chris Ivory or Bishop Sankey?
Chris Ivory was already mentioned earlier as a must-start, but there’s probably a good amount of you who plucked Sankey off of waivers, so let’s open the conversation here. Before you scoff at the idea of starting Sankey let’s have a little peek at his Week 1 stats: 12 carries, 74 yards, 1 touchdown. I know my starting backs in a couple of leagues didn’t muster that much production. Now before you go getting too excited, let me issue a warning. Cleveland’s defense looked atrocious on Sunday, but I have a very bad feeling about that continuing throughout the season. Play it safe and start Ivory this week.
Philip Rivers or Ben Roeslithberger?
Allow me to show you why Rivers is the clear start here. I understand that we’re working with a one-week sample, but don’t be too afraid of Cincinnati’s defense. After the second half display that San Diego was able to put on against Detroit’s top-rated secondary there’s really no reason to doubt Phil as your starter. His smorgasbord of talent at receiver, tight end, and running back means that it will be hard for the Bengals to key in on any one facet of the offense and shut it down without opening a floodgate somewhere else.
Now, as you sit there and debate whether you should actually take my advice, it seems like the perfect opportunity to point out the things I was right about last week. I would NEVER do this to brag or show off, simply as a tool to instill confidence in you, the advisee. Shall we?
- I urged you to start Rob Gronkowski despite Pittsburgh’s claims to have a game plan that would shut him down. The result? Gronk rewarded your faith with three touchdowns. On behalf of my brain and Gronk’s biceps you are so very welcome.
- I begged you to keep Desean Jackson out of your lineup and what happened? He got hurt! But that’s just fine, you don’t even care because you took my advice, right? Right?! Plus, I told you that Miami’s secondary would come ready to play and then Brice McCain made the interception of the year! Double right!!
- I sent you the waiver wire to seek out a mysterious rookie known as Tyler Lockett. While Lockett may have mustered only 4 receptions for 34 yards he also returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown on his first NFL touch. I still win.
- While you were at the grocery store I asked you to go ahead and pick up Ameer Abdullah. In his first NFL start the Nebraska product rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown, which adds up to some very nice flex points. I hope you’ve learned your lesson.
Get to the Waiver Wire Now
- Terrance Williams, Cowboys. With Dez Bryant out for at least four weeks, this is Terrance Williams’ chance to prove himself as a top receiver in the NFL. He won’t be able to replace Bryant by any means, nobody really could, but he’ll see plenty of targets from Tony Romo. If the running game continues to struggle then Williams could be looking at a serious breakout season.
- Jason Witten, Cowboys. The Cowboys again? That’s right, baby! While Terrance Williams might be catching the ball up and down the field on Sundays (and Mondays, and Thursdays) it became clear during Dallas’ victory over the Giants that Romo will lean heavily on Witten in the red zone which equals TOUCHDOWNSSS BOIIIII. Witten is often overlooked so he’s probably chillin’ on your waiver wire right now.
- Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay tight end was probably the only positive the Bucs were able to take away from their loss (read: absolute blowout) to the Titans. It remains to be seen whether Jenkins’ production will stay consistent, but it’s worth dropping Doug Martin or Hakeem Nicks to stash him on the bench and see what happens.
- Jon Brown, Cardinals. There’s a fair amount of fantasy owners who saw Jon Brown’s varied success last season and assumed that he couldn’t keep it up, mostly because of his diminutive stature. However, I went out of my way to see the Cardinals match up with the Saints and let me tell you, Palmer was throwing him EVERYTHING. Even better was the fact that he was catching almost all of it. If Carson Palmer loves Jon Brown then you definitely should too.
- Jared Cook, Rams. Cook is another largely overlooked tight end with plenty of receiving ability and it seems as though he may become one of Nick Foles’ favorite targets. I highly doubt that Cook was drafted in too many leagues, so hit that wire now and try to pick him up while you still can.
Do you remember when you were a little kid and you loved to watch that one movie over and over again? You’d get all cozy on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate that you’d put way too many marshmallows in, recite every line under your breath, and wait with barely-hidden anticipation for your favorite part. I imagine that’s what it’s like when you read Fantasy Thursday leading up to the segments about my teams. I’ll assume that we’re all in agreement on that one.
Adventures in Dynasty
Entering the second week of my first season in a dynasty league, I came to a startling realization. Although I love the process of drafting, I can definitely go without it, no problem. However, as I made my way to the waiver wire I realized that because everyone has so many bench spots on their rosters there will never be any fun in free agency. We can all keep so many players (literally forever) that no matter how obscure you think a guy is, no matter how deep into the R.E.M. cycle that sleeper was, he’s on someone’s roster. This made me a little sad. What made me even sadder was the fact that I went into Monday night riding 20+ point performances from Brady, Gronk, and Forte to a pretty nice lead only to have it erased by Julio Jones’ 26-point night and lose by 7. That definitely did not help to quell any of my qualms about the loss of true free agency.
Fantasy Sob Story of the Week
Todd Babinec’s Moustache got off to a rocky start this week by taking a hard loss to what was quite possibly the worst team ever last week. My friend Holly got into fantasy last season, but due to a limited knowledge of football and a wacky schedule on account of her living in China, she was never really able to build or adjust her team and was pretty much a free win to anyone lucky enough to face her. Going into Week 1 with Holly as my opponent, I’ll admit, I may have been a little more convinced of sure victory than I should have been. I mean c’mon, she started Desean Jackson. C’MOOOON. Of course I found myself trapped in another Monday Night-mare as Matt Ryan threw touchdowns to Julio Jones and threw dirt on my coffin at the same time. Ryan’s eventual haul of 19 points ensured my demise and unavoidable embarrassment at having lost to Holly. The only thing that can redeem me now is for Holly to make a deep playoff run and show everyone that she was secretly a fantasy genius this whole time. Yeah, that’ll show em’! Holly, if you’re reading this, PLEASE turn out to be a secret genius. I’m begging you.
That’s my time, folks! As usual you’ve been a great crowd. You can send your start-sit dilemmas every week to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @4thandGyas, and help yourself to that comments section as well! Don’t forget to set your lineups if you’ve got any Chiefs or Broncos on your roster, because the only thing worse than being ruined at the last minute on Monday night is making a huge mistake on Thursday night and having it stare you in the face all day. Tragic, tragic I tell you! For the record I’m taking Kansas City to pull out the victory tomorrow night. Catch y’all next time!