I guess this week is just going to be a week of revelations, my friends. The other day, as I was reminding myself to sit down and write this week’s edition of Fantasy Thursday (and I literally just reached out for Tough Calls as I typed that), an exceedingly introspective question struck me: WHY THURSDAY? This inquiry rocked the very foundations of my soul. Why is it that I scramble and stress and put so much work into making sure that this particular column is published on Thursday? The obvious answer here is that there’s a football game every Thursday which means that fantasy owners need to set their lineups that day to avoid accidently missing a guy on the bench who goes off or starting someone they never meant to who lays an absolute short-week egg. Not to mention that waiver wire advice is pretty useless by Saturday night/Sunday morning, because unless there are a bunch of un-attentive, non-American, pansies in your league who don’t faithfully manage their teams then those free agents have been picked clean. Here’s the thing that really grabbed me, though: the column is called FANTASY THURSDAY and there’s never any mention of THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL and whether you should start or sit the guys playing in that game. I’ve completely failed you, folks! That’s on me and I WILL be better. Jeez, that was a long opening, huh? Let’s get to it.
Five Guys You Have to Start This Week
- Devonta Freeman, Falcons. Wanna hear something hilarious? I have Devonta Freeman on a (maybe two?) team and haven’t started him the past two weeks. In that two-week span, he’s scored six touchdowns. Ride the hot hand until it cools down. You might get burned, or you might get 30 points from a guy you drafted in the seventh round.
- Allen Hurns, Jaguars. We all chose the wrong Allen in the offseason, it seems. Allen Robinson was the darling of fantasy owners looking for a good sleeper, but Allen Hurns has emerged as the most dependable option in Jacksonville. Robinson is still the team’s receiving leader at this point, but this is another case where the hot-hand principle is applicable. Hurns is matching up with Tampa Bay’s defense this week so he should be juuust fine.
- Todd Gurley, Rams. Gurley has finally arrived, ladies and gentleman. I offer a tip o’ the hat to you owners who drafted him in good faith and have waited patiently for him to do what he did last week, which was gash the Cardinals defense (read: scariest in the NFL) for 146 yards on the ground. If Gurley can do that in Arizona, he can do it absolutely anywhere and you should never sit him. That kid’s gonna have 200 yards on his bye week. Good lord.
- Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos. Sanders just isn’t a guy who is going to let you down. If you saw the Broncos vs. Vikings game, you can’t possibly still believe that Peyton Manning is legitimately looking for receivers in the deep third of the field. Sanders is going to get a high volume of catches this week against the Raiders, who’s linebackers are and defensive ends are watching tape of Peyton’s motionless pocket presence and placing bets on how many sacks they’ll have.
- Antonio Gates, Chargers. Gates is back this week from a four-game suspension for taking PEDs which, according to him, he didn’t know he was taking. Let me just say this before I proceed: I wholeheartedly believe what Gates said, because there are few athletes in the history of sports who have been such stand-up guys as Gates has been throughout his storied and legendary career. In a hostile environment against a Steelers team clawing for a foothold in their division, you can expect plenty of pressure to lead Rivers straight to his security blanket.
Five Guys I Wouldn’t Start This Week Because Eh…
- Golden Tate, Lions. I’m not really a guy who gives up on a whole lot of things. Don’t believe me? I once threw eight interceptions in game of Madden against my cousin because I was determined to prove that I could complete a pass on a certain route. Eight interceptions later, I was still convinced. I was sure coming into the season that Tate would be a breakout player and pay mad dividends for my fantasy teams. Instead, he’s failed to crack 30 receiving yards twice in four games and has yet to score a touchdown. Some of the blame for this falls on coaches, of course, but Tate is banned from my lineups until further notice. I feel like a disappointed father.
- Joseph Randle, Cowboys. Randle has been a popular flex option this season, but I don’t expect his success to continue this week. Bill Belicheck specializes in taking away a team’s strength, and I’m sure he’s licking his chops thinking about what will happen to the Cowboys when he shuts down the run game and forces Brandon Weeden to throw 40 passes.
- Any Receiver, Ravens. Baltimore may have eked out a win last Thursday in Pittsburgh, but it was very clear that their offense will not be the catalyst for future victories. Nobody could get open for Flacco with Steve Smith on the field and if his back injury doesn’t resolve itself by Sunday, the Browns will have even less to worry about.
- Louis Defense, Rams. The Rams defense has been surprisingly dominant since the new season began, but it’s foolish to bet against Aaron Rodgers until he shows any signs of human weakness on the football field. Just in case you’re considering starting the Ram’s defense to cash in on an uncharacteristically sloppy day from Green Bay’s offense, just don’t.
- James Jones, Packers. Jones has been a great story since returning to the Packers. Cast off by a few teams who thought he had nothing left, Jones found his way back to Green Bay and immediately became Aaron Rodgers’ favorite end zone target. However, Rodgers threw three scores to Randall Cobb last week in what was likely the rekindling of their uber-productive connection. Those targets in the red zone should be going back to their rightful place in the direction of Cobb.
Get to the Waiver Wire Now! (In the key of Ah-nold)
- Theo Riddick, Lions. Let’s be clear on something: the waiver wire is not somewhere you should go in search of a guy who’s going to score 20 points every week. That’s what the draft is for. Anybody you pick up should be streaming through your flex position unless you’re just lucky enough to happen upon a baller. That being said, Riddick has had at least five catches in his past three starts, so as a flex he’s good for about 9-10 points per week in a PPR league.
- Eddie Royal, Bears. Most fantasy owners have lost faith in Eddie Royal by now, but Jimmy Clausen’s arrival may have been a blessing in disguise for Chicago’s slot man. Remember that dissertation about backup quarterbacks I did after mistakenly suggesting you start Antonio Brown in Mike Vick’s debut? Well, the whole “backups love throwing to the guys they work with primarily in practice” principle is definitely at work and I expect Jimmy Clausen to throw at Royal even more often than the 10 targets he gave him last week. By the way, Royal caught seven of those for 54 yards and a touchdown.
- Pierre Garcon, Redskins. Up against a less-than-intimidating Falcons defense and representing one of Washington’s two legitimate receiving options with Desean Jackson still out for at least week. Garcon is averaging six catches per week, pitching in 55 yards and a touchdown last week against the Eagles. Garcon is much more attractive option in PPR leagues, but anyone in need of a temporary fix at receiver should give him a look.
- Willie Snead, Saints. This one may be a stretch, but part of good fantasy ownership is not being afraid to get out ahead of a trend. Snead, a rookie receiver, was targeted six times by Drew Brees last Sunday night and there’s plenty of reason to believe that their connection is loaded with upside. Snead is more of a tuck-and-see prospect, but you’ll be kicking yourself if he ends up on an opponent’s roster and buries you in his breakout week.
- Cole Beasley, Cowboys. With New England focused on stopping the run and Malcolm Butler most likely the bigger, more athletic Terrance Williams, Beasley should have plenty of room to work on Sunday. I’d expect about 5 catches, 40-60 yards, and a touchdown from him.
This is part where I give you information actually pertinent to your lineup in this very moment, Thursday Night Start or Sit. Even the most dependable of fantasy stars have a tendency to disappear during Thursday Night games, mostly because things just get weird on Thursday and we’ve all come to terms with it by now. For this reason I will advise you on who to start and who to sit so that you can avoid a Thursday Night-mare ruining your week. Man, I love new segments!
Thursday Night: Start or Sit?
- Andrew Luck, Colts. Luck, much like his predecessor, has made a name for himself by feasting on the atrocious defenses in the AFC South. The one caveat here is that Luck is still listed as “questionable” at this moment, and will likely be a game-time decision. You’ll have to be monitoring this one closely with access to your team on a moment’s notice, but if Luck plays then we’re going:
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans. While the QB situation in Houston remains unclear, one thing has become certain: no matter who is throwing the ball, Hopkins is going to get his. The still-young star has topped 100 yards receiving twice in his first four games and posted 98 in a third. A virtually non-existent Texans running game guarantees that whoever is under center should be throwing plenty of passes and a third of those will probably be aimed at Hopkins.
- Frank Gore, Colts. Gore looked as though he was struggling to find his place in Indy’s offense in the first couple of weeks, but those good ol’ AFC South defenses (and a return to involvement in the passing game) have him looking more and more like his old self. His renewed success should continue this week against an expensive Texans defense that, quite frankly, hasn’t done jack-shit this season.
- Arian Foster, Texans. Foster had 10 rushing yards on 8 carries last week. Not very inspiring numbers from the guy you thought would be carrying your team this year, huh? Foster (who went to my high school, as anyone from my high school will tell you often) will likely need a few weeks to adjust coming off of an injury.
- Y. Hilton, Colts. Hilton has been nowhere near the fantasy monster that owners had come to expect on a weekly basis. Houston is seventh in the league for points allowed to receivers this season and will probably be looking to blank Hilton on Thursday. That news bodes well for Donte Moncrief owners, but not anyone depending on #13. SIT.
See, don’t you feel prepared for the actual game that will be on TV tonight after that? I’m seriously embarrassed that it even took me that long to figure that one out. However, let’s just let it be what it is and not miss an opportunity to recognize yet another great idea of mine, okay? There won’t be an entry for Adventures in Dynasty this week an account of my having discovered something that could alter the course of that entire league. I’m not sure about it yet, so I’m going with radio silence on the subject until certain things can be proven.
The Sob Story of the Week isn’t about any of my teams because my boy Robby, basically the smoothest, coolest guy you’ll ever meet, went through an ordeal much, much more heartbreaking than anything I experienced last week. Before we get to that, here’s an update on my teams that I know you’re just dying to hear.
- Left-Handed MasterDebaters: 3-1 (2/12)
- Bull Moose Dough Babies: 1-3 (8/10)
- Todd Babinec’s Moustache: 3-1 (2/12)
- The Eiffel Hightowers: 3-1 (1/10)
As you can see, my fantasy wizardry is 100% real and not just a façade that I’m putting on. As for the Dough Babies, all I can say is that the night is darkest just before the dawn. Right, pre-Two Face Harvey Dent? Right.
Fantasy Sob Story of the Week
Okay, now, remember that guy Robby I was telling you about? Well first of all he told me one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard in my life this past summer, but that’s not why we’re here. Robby’s team, T.C. Coach Boone, has had some struggles early into this season. This Sunday it seemed as though his time to shine to had finally come when tragedy struck. Coach Boone took what seemed to be a game-winning lead over our old friend Austen when Mark Ingram scored against the Cowboys, but lo! The touchdown was recalled and Robby’s squad lost, wait for it, 129-128. Excruciating. Our staff here at 4th & Gyas thanks Robby and the Thornton family for sharing with us during this painful time.
Well, folks, that’s my time! Don’t forget to flood firstname.lastname@example.org or @4thandGyas on Twitter with your questions and fantasy cries for help. Whether you hate or love us, the comments section is always waiting with open arms! Until next time!