How many of you have looked at your fantasy roster(s) this week, and have thought, “Man, if I can salvage a win this week with this line-up, I’m golden”?
Well in three of my leagues I had that exact thought, piecing together a makeshift line-up with duct tape and super glue to hopefully sneak in a win. With the most teams on bye we’ll have all season (Six teams – the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers), it effectively removes 19% of players.
In weeks like this, I always try to size up my competition. If I’m playing a guy with terrible fill-ins, I want to keep my roster as consistent as possible. Give me someone boring over a guy with upside. But if I’m stuck with an opponent that didn’t get murdered by bye weeks, I’ll go with upside picks to try and steal the win.
Reflecting on last week’s picks, Sidney Rice had a great outing (on Sunday’s game against the Patriots – bonus points for a game-winner?) and LeGarrette Blount was correctly predicted to get a late 2nd half junk time TD. However, Jacquizz Rodgers, Brent Celek, and Robert Meachem failed to deliver big games. For my benchers, Dwayne Bowe was awful with Brady Quinn at QB (literally all I wrote for my explanation, and all I needed) and Brian Hartline put up a goose egg. However, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Lloyd, and Matthew Stafford all had fantasy starter quality games.
Here’s five guys not started in enough leagues and five guys started in too many leagues that should be benched, along with their % started in ESPN leagues and Yahoo leagues, respectively. And remember, these picks are not always suggestions for direct 1-for-1 swaps if you own players in both sections, but merely picks for guys not started enough and started too often.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo (30.4%, 25%) It’s easy to just forget about a guy after two straight bad weeks, but when you’re on the road against the 49ers and the Cardinals, it’s OK to have bad fantasy days. Now Fitzpatrick is back at home with a terrible Titans’ defense across the line of scrimmage. Also, while his stat line was unimpressive in the Bills win last week, he didn’t have a single turnover and only got sacked twice. I’m excited to throw Fitzpatrick back in my line-up.
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay (17.3%, 27%) As I said on this week’s podcast, I don’t think Josh Freeman’s big game last week was just a blip on the radar, and more a sign of things to come. He’s got two elite receivers to throw to with a solid running game behind him. Oh, and he’s facing off against the terrible Saints’ defense. I like Freeman to have a high-200 yard, 2-TD game, conservatively.
Felix Jones, RB, Dallas (34.8%, 56%) Jones’ percent start numbers have risen dramatically over the past few days, but while he is started in tons of leagues and isn’t exactly a sleeper pick, I think he needs to be started in ALL leagues. I know he’s not an every down back and Phillip Tanner is going to get some action, but the Panthers run D is so abysmal that there’s not way Jones gets slowed down. I also think this game stays fairly low scoring with the Cowboys D keeping the Panthers in check. I see 20 touches for at least 90 yards and a score for Felix today.
Brandon Gibson, WR, St. Louis (17.6%, 23%) Sometimes a single catch can get you all excited, even if it’s not a big one for your fantasy team. But just watch Gibson’s catch last week, if you missed it on Sportscenter. Quickly emerging as Bradford’s #1 target with Danny Amendola out, I like Gibson to have another solid game at home against the Packers. With the dome keeping the passing game viable against a Packers team that is going to score a lot of points, the Rams are going to have to throw. I like Gibson a lot as high as even a WR2 with all the byes.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee (9.4%, 29%) I’m also high on Kendall Wright as a WR play, as he’s become a focal point of the Titans offense and faces a poor Bills secondary. Wright and QB Matt Hasselbeck have formed a nice rapport over the past few weeks, making Wright a very solid play, especially in PPR. I can see him getting 80 yards and a score in this one.
Son Of A Bench:
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit (60.5%, 65%) I’ve officially hit my quota of Matthew Stafford bench calls. But I’m saying bench him in this one for the last time this year, I promise. The Bears are extremely stout against opposing QBs (well, they’ve been stout against all opposing offenses as well), and I don’t see Stafford finding any sort of comfort level in this one. He hasn’t been what you drafted, and in such a tough divisional matchup like this game, I think you play both Fitzpatrick and Freeman over him.
Shonn Greene, RB, New York (56.4%, 58%) Coming off such an impressive game, it’s going to be very hard to bench Greene, but I think if you have solid options, he stays on your bench. The Patriots have been solid against the run all year, mainly because they’ve had big leads, and I think the same formula is in play this week. We’ve seen Greene yo-yo his whole career, and I think he falls right back down to disappointment level this week.
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis (30.3%, 17%) While not started in the majority of fantasy leagues, I’m still surprised at just how many owners are trusting Ballard with a starting nod yet again this week. I know the Browns run D hasn’t been spectacular, but they are coming off an impressive win to finally notch a W, and I think play hungry this week. Ballard hasn’t had more than 8 carries or 25 rushing yards in a single game. Given both those marks were set last week, but he was the #1 with Donald Brown out and was very uninspiring. I’d go with a different fill-in option.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina (70.2%, 69%) As a Panthers fan, no one is hoping this pick is more wrong than me, but I just don’t see how Smith can be a confident start option on your squad. Dwindling numbers since the beginning of the season, and a very tough Dallas secondary and pass rush is going to make it very difficult for Cam to find Smith deep. Sure Cam can scramble and make a play, but it’s usually not to Smith. Cam likes to use the pocket when finding his #1 receiver – the scrambles tend to be to the check down guys. Smith is as explosive as it gets making him a tough bench with so many guys out, but if you have similar options, I’d go with them.
Fred Davis, TE, Washington (57.0%, 51%) I’m a little surprised owners haven’t jumped ship from Davis more frequently, as he’s been not a very reliable fantasy TE. Still without a touchdown, he’s up against the Giants who have given up the 4th-least amount of fantasy points to TEs and haven’t given up a touchdown to them. I would much rather go with a high-upside play from one of the multitude of TEs with fantasy-relevance these days. And hey, even a guy like David Thomas with Jimmy Graham out has more appeal to me.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone today in week 7!