Fantasy Thursday: Hold the Mustard, Please

Have you ever been on a really good run in life and then one tiny little negative thing happens and it’s all you can think about? Let me give you an example. I somehow mustered up the huevos to ask that aforementioned beautiful and intelligent girl to a winter formal and by some miracle, some glitch in the system, she actually said yes! I bought the tickets before she could realize the huge mistake she was making and, as you could guess, I’ve been on cloud nine ever since. So can you guess what I’ve been thinking about all week? The excruciating loss I took in fantasy last weekend! How crazy is it that fantasy football could be the focus of my life when I know that in a couple of weeks I’ll be taking a girl way out of my league to a dance while being chauffeured in 64’ Impala with the top down? In 2010 my mom told me that I cared too much about football and I shrugged her off. Look at me now, mom! You were right.

Before we hop to our lists, I didn’t cast the net for Tough Calls™ this week so don’t worry about how much time we have, let’s take a second to review how I was so undeniably correct last week. Remember with me, if you will last week’s Fantasy Thursday column. I urged you to pick up Redskins back Matt Jones before his matchup with the atrocious Saints defense. Jones had previously scored 20+ points just once this season, aaaaaall the way back in Week 2. Since then he has cracked double digits just once, scoring 10 points in week 5, and besides that had a high of 7 points. So it was pretty bold of me to call Jones a must-start in the very shaky landscape of productive fantasy running backs. So what did Jones do last Sunday? 11 rushes for 56 yards and 3 catches for 131 yards with one touchdown. Tally all of that up to 31 big ones, my friends! I’ve got the vision, people. Now I need you to do me a favor, okay? All of the trust and belief that you feel towards me right now is going to lead you to follow the advice given in the following words of this article. Just hold on to that feeling when you read this week’s Sob Story. That’s all I’m asking. To the lists!!

Five Guys You Have to Start This Week

  1. Michael Crabtree, Raiders. Derek Carr will be throwing against a Lions defense this week that has given up 260 passing yards per game, good for 24th in the league. Besides the Bengals in Week 1 no defense has really figured out how to stop Carr’s aerial assault and I don’t think Detroit will be the heroes in that regard. Start Crabtree, start Andre Holmes, and start Amari Cooper. Be afraid, Detroit will burn to the ground.
  2. Greg Olsen, Panthers. There’s never a reason not to start Greg Olsen. He’s the only reliable receiver at Cam Newton’s disposal and the one guy you can count on when Carolina absolutely needs a first down. Plus, Olsen is kind of randomly wide open three to four times a game.
  3. Danny Amendola, Patriots. I saw something on TV last night that really made me scratch my head. On some fantasy football show that was on in the bar where I was having dinner, Tom Brady was ranked as the #1 quarterback for Week 11 and yet Danny Amendola was only the #15 receiver. Brandon Lafell didn’t show up until all the way at #22. Here’s my question: WHO DO YOU THINK TOM BRADY IS GOING TO THROW TO?! It’s idiotic to think that Brady will be successful with his receivers somehow not putting up numbers. Amendola and Lafell deserve starts this week.
  4. Devonta Freeman, Falcons. After a bye week in which he avoided arrest or mysterious injury, Freeman is back to continue his campaign as this year’s fantasy breakout star. The Colt’s defense he’ll be facing is allowing 114 rushing yards per game so all systems are go for Sunday.
  5. Stefon Diggs, Vikings. As far as I can tell, Peyton Manning and the Broncos broke Green Bay’s defense. They were the only squad to make Peyton look even marginally good and then gave up all kinds of passing yards to Cam Newton who isn’t known for throwing all over the field. With their first home loss to the Lions since 1991 capping off their current three-game losing streak, the Vikings have the opportunity to take a commanding lead in the NFC North over the Packers. This is Teddy Bridgewater’s first defining moment as the QB of the Vikings and I fully expect him to ball out.

Five Guy I Wouldn’t Start This Week Because Ehh…

  1. Tony Romo, Cowboys. Now hold on, before you get all mad at me and light up the comments section, just let me explain. This is Romo’s first game back from injury which is never a great situation to trust a quarterback unless that QB is Big Ben who I believe has been injured in some capacity since birth. What stood out in the Dolphins’ win last week was the emerging chemistry between Suh and Cameron Wake. A dangerous pass rush and solid secondary could spell doom for Romo. Start Carr instead if you can swing it.
  2. Karlos Williams, Bills. On the opposite spectrum from the primetime underachieving Bengals, the Patriots tend to play their best football on a Sunday or Monday night game. As it happens, that same Patriots defense that Williams will be facing next Monday has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league. With Jamie Collins likely returning from his virus-induced absence, it will be tough going for any running back against this unit for the remainder of the season.
  3. James White, Patriots. I understand that you’re hurting in the wake of both Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman going down with injuries, trust me, I feel your pain. However, I think Lewis beat out James White in the preseason for a reason. All signs point to White being nothing special. Don’t get burned in your desperation.
  4. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos. Times are hard when I’m lobbying against the one receiver I’ve blindly trusted without hesitation for the past two seasons. We’ll get into this a little more during this week’s Sob Story, but Sanders can’t be trusted as long as Osweiler, or even Wet Noodle Arm Manning, are throwing to him.
  5. Jeremy Hill, Bengals. The Bengals offense is significantly less efficient when Hill can’t find his groove, and I would call 20 total yards on Monday night an inability to find your groove. The Cardinals defense that Hill will be up against on Sunday night is 3rd in the league in rushing defense. The presence of Gio Bernard will keep Hill limited in the passing game when Dalton is looking for quick yards.

Get to the Waiver Wire!!

  1. Matt Hasselbeck, Colts. Andrew Luck has been sidelined with an injury to his kidney which means that Hasselbeck rides again! You may recall earlier in the season when Hasselbeck started two games and a subsequent, though short lived, quarterback controversy in Indianapolis. The Falcons defense should make him look deserving of a starting job once again.
  2. Keshawn Martin, Patriots. I doubt you’ve heard of Martin, but I have a feeling that in the next few weeks every football fan in the world will know his name. The Patriots quietly traded for Martin back in Week 2, who then came in and immediately scored a touchdown in Week 3 against the Jaguars. After the devastating loss of Julian Edelman last week (it’s still tough to talk about, bear with me) Martin is the prime candidate to see an increase in playing time and targets.
  3. Zach Miller, Bears. I thought fantasy owners might have caught on to Miller already, but seeing as how I’m picking him up as I type this, it’s a safe bet you can still grab him too. Miller’s game-winning touchdown on Monday night may have seemed like a fluke, but his 107 yard, 2 touchdown performance against the Rams last Sunday shows the trust that he has earned with Jay Cutler. Productive tight ends are slim pickins’ these days so don’t miss out on a guy that could pay dividends for your team down the playoff stretch.
  4. Wes Welker, Rams. In just his first game with St. Louis, Welker was second on the team in targets, highlighting their need for a consistent slot presence. His production should increase as the season progresses and anyone in need a flex should kick the tires on this one.
  5. Theo Riddick, Lions. Riddick has been able to see consistent targets out of the backfield this season, eclipsing 5 catches/50 yards more often than not. With Oakland’s tendency to break down against pass-catching backs. Riddick should be able to help your team as a flex this week.

Fantasy Sob Story of the Week

The subject of this week’s Sob Story is the division-leading Master Debaters team. After I inexplicably ignored reports about Emmanuel Sanders not being 100% healthy and barely being able to start the game, I gave him the start over Michael Floyd and Doug Baldwin.  While I was at it, Cincinnati’s defense got the nod over Kansas City. As is consistent with my luck, Sanders out up a big, fat 0 while Floyd posted 31 and Baldwin chipped in 27. Needing about 17 points from Cincy’s defense on Monday night, I settled for 10 as they reverted to their “self-destruct in primetime” programming. The Chiefs’’ defense, of course, had already racked up 20 points behind Peyton’s horrible afternoon. So instead of the Debaters winning by 20, moving to 8-2, and separating themselves from the pack, we lose by 5 and keep 2nd place in the league based on a tiebreaker. It was a rough week for decision making all around.

Thursday Night Start or Sit

Since the NFL began its “Color Rush” uniform series for Thursday Night Football to rave reviews (and by rave reviews I mean color-blind people who were raving mad) last week, I have decided to make it a point not to see a second of any more Thursday games. TNF has traditionally featured pretty lackluster efforts from teams being forced to play football after having just been on the field the previous Sunday, but the whole Color Rush deal has really added a new dimension of stink to the entire affair. This week’s matchup of the Titans and Jags is a tough sell in itself, but I would definitely rather go catch a movie than see Blake Bortles dressed head-to-toe in lightly burnt mustard. And believe me, I love Blake Bortles, but it’s gotta be against some sort of law to put those dudes on the field looking like Grey Poupon. I’m just saying.

START: The Jacksonville Allens

SIT: Everyone else

We made it, friends! And I might actually make it to work on time, which never happens on a Thursday because obviously furthering my semi-semi-professional sports journalism career is a much more important endeavor than focusing on the job which currently pays me a substantial amount of money. Until next time!



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