So a guest at the hotel I work at just called down to the front desk complaining of noise in the room above him. Since it’s 1:30 in the morning, I walked up there and checked it out. Sure enough, TV blaring, a bunch of people in the room, and when I knocked on the door somebody yelled out “Oh [expletive]” and everyone started scurrying about (also, who knew expletive had three Es in it?). So while they promised to quiet down, they also seemed to assume I’m a moron. Why do I share this story? Because I don’t assume you’re morons. Yeah, there’s no link to a FanDuel contest in here this week, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still need help going out to win some money, right? So I offer you the following picks and tips as a substitute (number in parenthesis is the opponent’s rank in fantasy points allowed to the player’s position).
Nick Foles ($5,300 at WSH – 2nd): The rash of QB injuries last week means there’s plenty of value out there for this week. It looks like Alex Smith might actually keep Colin Kaepernick on the bench, but Jason Campbell, Byron Leftwich, and Foles all look set to start. With the 49ers and Bears facing off against each other and Leftwich just being terrible at football, Foles is the only one I’m really comfortable rolling with in a matchup that’s tastier than Denny’s after a night out drinking (true story: My 12-year old step brother claims Denny’s has “the best steak ever.” He’s not joking, either. And yes, he has had other steaks). Everyone who’s watched tape of Foles this week and posted about it on Twitter has actually come away pretty impressed with his first performance. That has me on board for his second.
Felix Jones ($6,500 vs. CLE – 8th): Even if DeMarco Murray comes back this week, I would expect Jones to get plenty of work against a suspect Browns defense. They’re really so bad as to conjure up images of something else that’s brown. If Murray doesn’t go (my read on the situation, though I am not a doctor and do not play one on TV either), then Jones gets a full workload and goes from “reasonable play” to “absolute steal.”
Rashard Mendenhall ($5,600 vs. BAL – 10th): Sound the trumpets! The week is finally here (I think)! Every Steelers source has said Mendy’s the man as soon as he’s good to go, and Leftwich’s presence gives the best incentive to get him off the bench. If he goes, he gets the same Ravens rush defense Arian Foster mauled a few weeks back. This pick takes a stronger stomach than being on Fear Factor since it’s the Sunday nigh game, but go look at that salary again and consider the potentially huge reward. Or wimp out and go with Marcel Reece instead. Your call.
Steve Smith ($6,000 vs. TB – 1st): Maybe some day I’ll be able to stop picking Steve Smith. And maybe someday I’ll be able to keep this thing under a thousand words. Neither of those things are going to happen today though. Yes, his production has been off for most the season, along with his quarterback’s, but this is a Bucs defense now that doesn’t even have the option of using Aqib Talib and is giving up the most points to opposin WRs. So if it’s not Smith, it’s Brandon LaFell, right? And Smith still seems like the safer bet.
Denarius Moore ($6,500 vs. NO – 2nd): Even as they’ve been winning, the Saints defense is still pretty bad. Moore is certainly a boom-bust type of player, but if there’s any week you could see him going off, it’s this one. Well worth it for a potentially elite result at a middle-of-the-road price.
Brandon Lloyd ($5,800 vs. IND – 4th): Do you realize how much under the cap you are if you’ve taken all my picks by this point? I’m not doing the math, but it’s a lot. So forgive me for not having a strong case to make for a third cheap WR (obviously catching two TDs on two targets is in Lloyd’s possible outcomes) and just draft Reggie Wayne instead. Maybe I’ll change the self-imposed rules of my column in the future so crap like this doesn’t happen again.
Antonio Gates ($5,600 at DEN – 2nd): I was watching NFL RedZone this past Sunday (as I do every Sunday. Yes, ladies, I’m single) and Scott Hansen asks something like “And you know who gets that big catch for the Chargers. Danario Alexander.” And sure, Alexander was having a very nice game, but the “you know who” for the San Diego passing game to me is still Gates when he’s healthy. Which is why I like him in a road game I expect the Chargers to spend most of the day losing (doubly so if Ryan Matthews is out). I’m officially predicting double-digit targets for Gates (Note: Official predictions are kind of like “The official pretzel snack of NASCAR” – it’s arbitrary and ultimately means nothing).
David Akers ($5,000 vs. CHI): It was either Akers or my man Shayne Graham, who both cost the minimum. The question becomes which will get more opportunities this week. Graham faces the Jags, which makes me worry about the team scoring too many touchdowns for him to be a profitable play. The 49ers might struggle to get into field goal range against the Bears, but if they do it’s very possible they stall out there like your first car that you were too poor to keep maintained (I’m on my third car and that’s still the case). Stalled out drives create points for kickers. Stalled out cars create bleeding knuckles from punching the windshield.
Atlanta Falcons ($5,000 vs. ARZ – 5th): There’s not a particularly great low-cost defense this week, so we’ll play the matchups and go with the Falcons. It’s really as much about qualitative aspects of the game as trying to come up with some stats since the Falcons are back home and smarting after a tough loss to the Saints. I expect both sides of the ball to come out firing on all cylinders, which makes this a solid choice.