Hopefully you’ve survived the awful six-teams-at-a-time bye week situations to at least be .500 as we head into the final stretch of the season. We’re still dealing with bye weeks, but Jacksonville taking a week off shouldn’t hurt you too much unless you love targeting them when selecting a fantasy defense. Leave the draft busts like Michael Floyd and Michael Crabtree behind as we push forward to the playoff run.
Below is a list of guys I’m focused on for one reason or another this week. They’re especially important in daily fantasy sports (DFS) leagues like DraftKings. If you’re curious about guys you don’t see listed here, you can always find me on Twitter (@MrT_BroBible) to ask questions, but remember to mention league specifics like PPR.
You Know Who You Should Start?
Matt Ryan (QB – Atlanta)
Ryan started this year with high expectations and a healthy offensive line, but now finds himself with neither. Thankfully he’s in a stretch where he can take advantage of teams with bad pass rushes. He did okay against Tampa Bay last week and should do reasonably well again this week against Carolina. The Panthers give up the 7th-most points to fantasy quarterbacks and their pass rush is nothing like what it used to be.
C.J. Anderson (RB – Denver)
Sometimes all you need is opportunity and that’s what Anderson has this week. Rumblings were Anderson was better than Ronnie Hillman when Montee Ball got hurt, but Hillman took his opportunity and ran with it for a couple weeks. Now he’s injured (and was ineffective the last two weeks anyway) and Anderson is the next man up. Ball is back from injury and in better shape, but Anderson performed so well last week that he gets to start against this weekend. The Rams are a decent run defense, but the running back in a Peyton Manning offense is always worth starting.
Ryan Mathews (RB – San Diego)
We’ve forgotten about Mathews because he got injured back in Week 2, but we need to remember him now. His legs should be fresh as he returns from a knee injury just in time to go against the lowly Raiders. Oakland is allowing 22.2 points to fantasy RBs, third-most in the league. Mathews will be limited to about 15 touches, but that’s enough to do damage against a low-quality opponent this Sunday.
Odell Beckahm Jr. (WR – N.Y. Giants)
It’s time to stop asking questions about whether or not you should start Beckham Jr. and just put him in your lineup. ODB has racked up over 100 yards and 7+ catches in his last two games as the Giants’ top receiving option. He’ll find the end zone soon enough, as he did three times in his previous three games. The 49ers are likely to get the jump on the Giants this weekend, which means the Giants will be throwing to get back in the game. Roll ODB out there and enjoy.
Brandon LaFell (WR – New England)
We all expect Sunday night’s game in Indianapolis to be a shootout between two stud QBs, so that certainly doesn’t hurt LaFell’s cause. He’s come on in the last four weeks, grabbing four touchdowns and scoring at least 11 points (in standard scoring) in three of those four games. The bye week should have cemented his status in the passing offense and he should continue to thrive against a team that’s given up an average of 440.5 passing yards in their last two games.
Travis Kelce (TE – Kansas City)
There’s an obvious option for a tight end in this space this week and it’s Kelce. We’re all disappointed in his usage this season, especially after his strong game against the Jets, but things are rounding into favor for the Gronk wannabe. Anthony Fasano, who plays ahead of Kelce for some reason, is banged-up and won’t be at full strength even if he plays this weekend. That should mean more snaps for Kelce against the team giving up the fourth-most points to fantasy TEs. It’s time for Kelce to feast against the Seahawks on Sunday.
You Know Who You Should Sit?
Jay Cutler (QB – Chicago)
Most of the good quarterbacks have good situations this week, so it’s tough to find one I’m not high on. The closest thing would be Jay Cutler because his offense has been struggling and now he faces the fourth-best defense against fantasy QBs in the Vikings. I’d still play Cutler over guys like Ryan, Cam Newton, or Eli Manning, but I’d avoid him if you had better options and in DFS games.
Joique Bell (RB – Detroit)
The Lions’ RB situation has been a carousel this year with injuries to Bell and Reggie Bush, yet no one has been able to cement themselves as truly fantasy viable. Bell has been the best of the bunch, but he hasn’t been great by any means. His three touchdowns on the year are disappointing considering he was projected by many (including myself) to have a strong season in an improved offense. This weekend he’ll go against the second toughest defense for fantasy RBs to play against and his 12-15 carries and 2 receptions won’t put enough on the table for owners.
Lamar Miller (RB – Miami)
Things were going incredibly well for Miller until he injured the AC joint in his shoulder two weeks ago. He was so banged-up last week that he couldn’t give much in his five touches. Now he has to come back on a short week against the third-stingiest defense against fantasy RBs. To add further injury to insult to injury (yes, you read that right), Miami is now missing Branden Albert, their beast left tackle. While he may be more important in pass production, his loss will decrease Miami’s ability to run, while allowing teams to worry less about the passing offense.
Mike Wallace (WR – Miami)
This is not the week to be on board with the Miami offense. As mentioned above, Miami’s passing game should take a turn for the worse after the injury to Branden Albert. There’s a very good chance that Buffalo’s pass rush, which has the most sacks in the league, gets after Miami hard tonight. Buffalo will sure double cover Wallace since Miller is hampered and other strong offensive options are limited.
Reggie Wayne (WR – Indianapolis)
Wayne will get plenty of attention this week because of the high-scoring game expected on Monday night, but let’s realize something. Wayne hasn’t been producing this year nearly like he used to with only two touchdowns and one game over 100 receiving yards. His point total in his last game is skewed because the Giants’ coverage broke down and allowed Wayne to run free for a 40-yard touchdown. The Patriots do a good job being physical with receivers now that they have Darrel Revis and Brandon Browner on the outside. Wayne’s not quick enough at this stage of the career to get away from that kind of coverage and he’s smallish to begin with. Look elsewhere for a WR this weekend.
Martellus Bennett (TE – Chicago)
It seems as if the Black Unicorn is always banged up during a football season and this year is no different. Bennett dragged himself through last night’s game at Green Bay despite being limited all week. Despite Chicago’s requirement to throw after going down big, Bennett only emerged with two grabs and looked pretty awful when trying to gain separation. These week’s matchup vs. Minnesota doesn’t provide any positives given Minnesota’s the third best team in the league at limiting fantasy points from the tight end position.