You know how when you’re younger people always tell you that one day you’ll appreciate all of the things your parents did for you that you never knew about? Well I’m not your mom so I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that it’s 6:30 am and I am writing this article for you out of the love in my heart (which is shaped suspiciously like a football). Last night I was too busy dazzling my friends with top-tier karaoke skills to get a head start on our beloved Fantasy Thursday. However, it is what it is, so let’s just get into it, people.
Let me tell you a quick story about someone trying to disprove my football knowledge and failing horribly because I am always right. My buddy Joseph is what my friend Marcus describes as a “player hater”, basically someone who just lives to hate on people who are doing well in life. So anyway every Monday we get together to watch Monday Night Football which this week was a barely interesting matchup between the Bears and Chargers, our hometown team. I had predicted that the Chargers would lose to the Bears because of their inability to finish close games. Joseph was convinced that I made this pick for no other reason than to spite the Chargers and insisted that my reasons were unfounded. Long story short, the Chargers lost by three points, and Joseph’s last words were: “I hate you so much”. The moral of the story here is this: if you come at the king, you best not miss. Better luck next time, Joseph.
I’m particularly proud of myself for not only scheduling the driving test to get my license that I’ve been procrastinating on for oh, only about three or four years, but I also got some Tough Calls™ after weeks of forgetting like a bonehead. I think I’ll go ahead and reward myself with some excessively fancy chocolate that I was given the other day. Cookies and cream, even. This is good chocolate here, people. Alright, enough of my musings, I know you’re here for fantasy football. Let’s get to it!
Five Guys You Have to Start This Week
- Tom Brady, Patriots. Before you get to rolling those eyes and writing off my bias, hear me out on this one. Only a couple of weeks ago Drew Brees threw seven touchdowns against the same Giants defense that Tom Brady will face this week. With Dion Lewis fresh off of the field with a torn ACL the Patriots will probably be throwing the ball the most that we’ve seen to this point. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Cam Newton, Panthers. Cam against a 2-6 Titans is basically a fantasy owner’s dream. Tennessee’s secondary has decided to show up on occasion to randomly harass a quarterback here and there, but Cam will decimate them on the ground should he look downfield and be unable to find an open receiver.
- Michael Crabtree, Raiders. I picked up Crabtree a few weeks ago and I’ve been on Cloud 9 ever since. Crabtree has gone for over 100 yards in each of his last two games and scored at least one touchdown in each of his last three, scoring two last week in Oakland’s epic slugfest with the Steelers.
- Allen Hurns/Allen Robinson, Jaguars. It seems like each week one of the Jacksonville Allens scores a touchdown and the other has 100+ receiving yards. For this reason it doesn’t really matter which one you start because they’re not going to let you down. The Allens have a great matchup this week against the atrocious Ravens defense that I’m not even sure uses cornerbacks and safeties at this point.
- Denver Defense, Broncos. The Broncos defense has been a death sentence for even the most efficient offenses this season and the Chiefs do not have a very efficient offense. Trust me on this one.
Five Guys I Wouldn’t Start This Week Because Eh…
- Michael Floyd, Cardinals. Richard Sherman made it clear two weeks ago when he absolutely took Dez Bryant out of the game that he and Seattle’s defense are rounding into form. Larry Fitzgerald has spent most of his time in the slot this season and Sherman isn’t leaving his spot so that makes Floyd the #1 candidate to disappear from Arizona’s offense in Seattle.
- Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs. The Broncos defense features at least two cornerbacks who could shut down your favorite team’s best receiver. Unfortunately for the Chiefs their offense only features one legitimate wide receiver and a pass-catching tight end. T.J. Ward, who chose the wrong team when he left Cleveland, will be on Kelce’s hip all day but is prone to give up a few big plays because he’s looking for the hit first rather than playing the ball in the air. Maclin, however, is in for a boring afternoon.
- Jimmy Graham, Seahawks. Jimmy Graham has been openly unhappy with his role in the Seattle offense to this point in the season. The thing is, the Seahawks are the ones who should be unhappy because they traded for Graham as a product of the nightmares they were having about Rob Gronkowski after Super Bowl XLIX. Unfortunately for Seattle, Graham will never be the blocker that Gronk is nor the receiver and tackle-shedder. That being said, Tyrann Mathieu is going to make Jimmy Graham’s situation go from bad to worse.
- Jay Cutler, Bears. Cutler has been very consistent in mediocrity this season, throwing more than one touchdown in only three games. The Rams defense is the perfect setup for Smokin’ Jay Cutler to throw three interceptions and make Bears fans forget all about his Monday night heroics.
- Shane Vereen, That Other Team in New Jersey. Vereen, dead to me since bolting to New Jersey after Super Bowl XLIX, will have a tough time this Sunday facing the team to which he owes all of his success and relevance. Belicheck knows exactly what Vereen wants to do and won’t tolerate him scoring against the team that he never should have left. Again, Vereen is dead to me.
Get to the Waiver Wire!!
- Jeremy Langford, Bears. Being the genius GM that I am, I picked up Langford last week after Matt Forte’s injury devastated my roster. Langford rewarded my confidence by rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown, also adding 70 receiving yards.
- Matt Jones, Redskins. Jones has been up and down so far, not uncommon for a rookie, but the Saints defense has yet to stop anyone from doing anything and there will be plenty of Rob Ryan exasperation to go around.
- Ben Watson, Saints. If you need a tight end, there’s a good chance that Watson is floating in your league. The Saints tight end has posted 20+ points twice in the last four weeks and failed to reach double-digits only once in that same span.
- Brandon Lafell, Patriots. Lafell, who was injured for the first six weeks of the season and then returned for a drop-fest against the Jets, had 5 catches for 102 yards last week against the Redskins. He’s been a common pickup-and-drop for a more pressing need player so go ahead and grab him for this week’s matchup with the Giants’ trash defense.
- James Starks, Packers. Starks took over for Lacy in last week’s loss to the Panthers and posted 83 yards and a touchdown through the air as well as 39 yards on the ground. With Lacy out for Green Bay’s meeting with the divisional rival Lions, Starks is a good RB2 or Flex play.
This Week’s Tough Calls™
Since you’re something of an expert on the topic, who’s the better add: Brandon Bolden or James White? – Alan, the U
Alan is referring, of course, to the situation in New England’s backfield. With Dion Lewis tearing his ACL last week against Washington (moment of silence) there is now a void to be filled at the Patriots’ pass-catching back position. This position has been integral to New England’s success over the last few years, whether it be Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen (RIP), or Lewis. That being said, I wouldn’t look for a replacement within the Patriots until another back proves himself. White was the preseason favorite to fill the role, but was quickly usurped by Lewis’ clearly superior talent. Bolden scored a touchdown in relief last Sunday, but has been with the team for years and never received a vote of confidence from Belicheck outside of his phenomenal contributions to special teams. I say we wait this one out, and in the meantime, seriously go get Jeremy Langford before it’s too late.
Deangelo Williams or Shady McCoy? – AG, Running the City
Before I answer this question I’d like to give a little context as to why this is such a momentous occasion in 4th & Gyas history. Aaron is a friend of mine who is known for, besides being tall, having some fantasy football talent. The first time I put out the ad for Tough Calls™ his wife tagged him in the post, to which Aaron replied only, “I don’t need any help. Lol.” So you can imagine my surprise yesterday when I found Aaron’s comment inquiring about these running backs. This may be the single most important moment of my semi-semi-professional journalistic life. One mistake and I’ll never be able to redeem myself. Here goes nothing.
Last week against the Raiders, Williams rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a game that was largely void of any recognizable defense. He also added 55 yards on two catches. In McCoy’s last game against Dan Campbell’s Dolphins, he rushed for 112 yards and added just 7 yards on two catches. McCoy’s next opponent is the division-rival Jets who just so happen to be the best rushing defense in the league. Todd Bowles’ defense is allowing only 80 yards per game on the ground and has relented just two rushing touchdowns. They’ve also forced five fumbles which speaks to the gang-tackle strategy they employ that allows other players to come in and strip the ball while a running back is being stopped in his tracks.
Now that Big Ben has been sidelined yet again, Williams can expect a heavy workload as the Steelers ease Landry Jones into the game. If Jones can hit a few passes down the field and keep the defense honest then there should be plenty of open space to pound the ball on the ground. Not to mention that Cleveland, Pittsburgh’s opponent this season, is dead last in total rush defense, allowing 147 yards per game and 9 touchdowns already this season. Williams is the clear start for me.
Antonio Brown or Gurley for my flex? – Joseph, #1 ranked hater in the US
First of all let me just say that if Brown and Gurley are merely flex options on your team then I guess it really doesn’t matter because clearly you’re doing just fine. Let me also say that someone tried to trade me Gurley for Woodhead, Gates, and Ingram and I took that as slight disrespect. But anyway about Joseph’s question, Gurley will be facing the 21st ranked rushing defense in Chicago this Sunday. They allow just over 120 yards per game, but have given up only two rushing touchdowns. Brown is a little more of a risk because he could have another 280 yard game or Landry Jones could ignore him all afternoon. Although I will say that Brown and Jones seemed to be making a nice connection in Jones’ last start in which he did in fact throw a touchdown Antonio’s way. Gurley is the safer bet in this situation and, if your team is as prolific as this question implies, you should be fine to take the risk should you so choose.
Is Michael Crabtree or Amari Cooper the better fantasy option? – Farcus, Event Coordinator
Uncanny as it may sound; Crabtree is right now your best bet for Raiders receivers scoring fantasy points. Basically this is just a case of Amari Cooper being too talented for his own good. Halfway through his rookie season, Cooper has already earned bracket status, meaning that no matter where he goes there is always a safety over him to make sure he has no room to work after the catch. The dominant first-year wideout will still get plenty of catches every week, but his likelihood to get in the end zone has greatly diminished because of how dedicated teams are to stopping him. This, of course, opens up the field for Andre Holmes and Michael Crabtree, the latter of which has really made the most of the opportunities.
Thursday Night Start/Sit
This is going to go one of two ways: the Jets reestablish their grip on second place in the AFC East and, for the time being, one of the AFC’s two Wild Card spots with a defensive display that leaves Rex Ryan crying over his wife’s feet while he fondles them OR the Bills find a way to exploit a Jets pass defense that has had its share of struggles in the past few weeks. Either way, there should be plenty of good Rex quotes coming out of this one.
START: Chris Ivory
SIT: Everyone else
Fantasy Sob Story of the Week
This week we’re eschewing my wildly successful fantasy teams to bring you a very real sob story from my own very real life. You’ve seen me mention a particular girl here more than a few times now, and I’m still as infatuated as ever, in case you were wondering. So there’s a formal coming up and this girl can REALLY dance so I figured if I took her to the formal and we dance the night away there’s a pretty good chance we get married that night. Pretty good idea, huh? So on my way to her college campus I go to my bank and get the money for the tickets, I’m nervous, I’m hyping myself up for this, the whole nine yards. So I get up to the campus and text her to let her know that I’m around because she’d been expecting me. She didn’t text back immediately, but I figured it was no big deal. So I’m drifting on campus and I run into some other friends of mine who invite me to have dinner with them and we eat together and tell stories and have a grand old time. About two hours later, just as I’m about to depart for my rise to karaoke stardom, she texts me saying that she’s not on campus. Needless to say, I’m not going to say anything else about it because that would be needless.
Well folks, I hope you enjoyed the triumphant return of Fantasy Thursday and the live look-in at my life, the likes of which you’d normally only get during ESPN’s coverage of NFL training camps. Remember that you can always send any fantasy questions, love letters, hate mail, or Carl’s Jr. coupons to firstname.lastname@example.org or @4thandgyas on Twitter. Until next time!