I joined a new pool this year that is referred to as fantasy survivor. Many people are familiar with survivor pools, but this fantasy survivor concept needs to become a thing because we all love fantasy football. It’s pretty simple. You set a lineup of six guys every week and you can only use each player once. You’re telling me you don’t want to sign up for this? We’ve got four weeks and seven participants left. I’ll like the whole idea even more if I take home the bag of donuts after this is all over, but I highly suggest you do this with some friends next year.
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?
Marcus Mariota (QB – Tennessee)
Don’t look now, but Mariota is starting to live up to his billing as #2 overall pick. He’s produced 17 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games with the exception being against Carolina. Memo to fantasy owners: no quarterback ever puts up numbers against Carolina! Mariota takes on the Jaguars this week and he put up 17 points against them two weeks ago. Now he’s at home with a healthier Kendall Wright and a Dorial Green-Beckham whose been challenged by the coaching staff. Jacksonville has the 30th ranked passing defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA. They’ve given up at least 16 points to quarterbacks in the last six weeks. Things will be happening again for Mariota on Sunday.
David Johnson (RB – Arizona)
Opportunity and volume are the two biggest things that help fantasy running backs become relevant. Just look at how guys like Charcandrick West, Jeremy Langford, and Thomas Rawls have turned into big deals in recent weeks. Johnson is the latest RB with the two things working for him as injuries have given him the opportunity for a high-volume game against St. Louis. The Rams have been beaten down by injuries in recent week and have allowed 96 or more rushing yards to fantasy RBs in each of the last four weeks. Even Jeremy Hill had his best rushing yardage game of the season against St. Louis, so that tells you Johnson can get something done.
C.J. Anderson (RB – Denver)
This may seem like chasing points, but Anderson has a chance to parlay his new rushing success again this weekend. Anderson has finally looked like the running back people thought they were getting when drafting him in the first round. The difference? Brock Osweiler takes snaps under center and Peyton Manning does not. This makes Greg Kubiak’s running game go and it went pretty well before in Baltimore and Houston. San Diego will keep it going this weekend as they allow the most points to fantasy running backs this season.
Martavis Bryant (WR – Pittsburgh)
Obviously this selection all depends on Ben Roethlisberger recovering from the concussion (or non-concussion) that he’s dealing with from last game. Pittsburgh showed they were willing to go to their secondary receivers last weekend when Antonio Brown was shadowed by Richard Sherman. The same thing should be the case again this weekend as Vontae Davis follows Brown around. That should leave Bryant able to do whatever he wants on the other side of the field. The guy who’s being called the “Odell Beckham Jr.” of the AFC has a pretty good situation to exploit.
Devante Parker (WR – Miami)
Week after week we watch receivers burn the Ravens secondary. The only team in the last six games that didn’t have two touchdowns from wide receivers against Baltimore was St. Louis and we know how bad their passing game is. Enter Parker stage right. Parker will be filling in for Rishard Matthews, who suffered multiple fractured ribs and won’t play on Sunday. Parker saw 10 targets in Matthews’ absence last weekend and managed to rack up 80 yards and a touchdown. With the Ravens still as porous as ever, it could be Parker’s coming out party in Miami.
Kyle Rudolph (TE – Minnesota)
The Legion of Boom is clearly not the same as they used to be and one specific hole in Seattle’s defense is covering tight ends. We positioned Heath Miller last week for the same reasons and he was on his way to a huge game with five catches in the first quarter until he got injured. He played through the injury, but he clearly wasn’t the same. Rudolph comes into this game with full health and should be able to take advantage of the defense allowing the fourth most points to fantasy TEs.
You Know Who You Should Sit?
Tyrod Taylor (QB – Buffalo)
I’ve definitely been on the TyGOD bandwagon for most of this season, which means I’ve been backing owners to start him most of the year. Unfortunately Taylor has a mediocre situation this weekend against Houston. The Texans have improved dramatically in recent weeks on defense and haven’t given up more than 15 points to a fantasy QB in the last four weeks. In fact three of the four opponent QBs were held under 10 points including bigger names like Andy Dalton and Drew Brees. Taylor’s not a quarterback to stream in this match-up.
Frank Gore (RB – Indianapolis)
I for one can tell you the body doesn’t recover so well as you get older. Gore is finding that out this year as it came out this week he’s beat to shit. So much for Indianapolis taking the limits off Gore’s carries. Maybe they should’ve kept them back on. Unfortunately the sledding doesn’t get much better for Gore when he heads to Pittsburgh this weekend. The Steelers have only given up three rushing touchdwons so far this year and are holding running backs to the fewest points of any team in the league. Those aches and pains Gore has won’t feel any better after this one.
Latavius Murray (RB – Oakland)
Murray’s ranked 12th in fantasy points at the RB position this year, but something’s been up with him in recent weeks. He’s only had two double-digit scoring games in the last eight games including 8 points or less in his last four. He’s been a little banged up during that time, but it’s all quite alarming. The Chiefs should keep Murray down again this weekend since they’re allowing the seventh fewest points to running backs this season. We’ll have to wait another week for Murray to turn it around.
Brandin Cooks (WR – New Orleans)
It’s your weekly Josh Norman alert. With New Orleans not having any receiver other than Cooks with any true talent, look for Norman to follow him around. You were warned with Dez Bryant last weekend and you saw how Norman owned him. Just sit Cooks and move on.
Mike Evans (WR – Tampa Bay)
Revis Island might be heading towards retirement. There’s no legit receiver for Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson to shut down this week. You’re never going to bench Antonio Brown even if he’s playing against Vontae Davis. Where should you turn or shall I put it turn away this week? Let’s look at Mike Evans. There’s something weird about Atlanta because their passing defense isn’t that good. It’s ranked 22nd in the league according to Football Outsiders. Yet they have this weird ability to limit wide receivers. They’ve only given up three touchdowns to wide receivers all year and have held wide opposing wide receivers under 150 yards in every game since Week 4. That’s not great upside for Evans if you have some alternatives.
Scott Chandler (TE – New England)
You’re obviously looking for production in a post-Gronkowski world, but you may have to wait a week until Chandler really excels. The Patriots prey on an opponent’s weakness and Philadelphia’s weakness is clearly at cornerback. They’re cornerbacks are brutal and that word doesn’t even do them justice. Brady will be passing to the outside all day long to Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola (who’s supposed to return), and Keyshawn Martin. Chandler got plenty of looks when Gronkowski got hurt last week, but that was a scheme thing to go after Denver’s weakness. That situation will have to wait a week.