Have the Saints finally figured it out? No, not things in general, as their 4-5 record indicates, but do they finally realize the type of talent that Mark Ingram has when given the opportunity? For years, the Saints went with a stable of backs, and the only ones who have fantasy dependable were Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas (last year). But as the injuries have mounted this year, Ingram finally got his chance to shine after teasing us for years. Sucks for the Saints that he’s in a contract year, huh?
There’s no guarantee that Ingram will stay healthy — he already missed three games this year due to injury — but while he’s healthy and Thomas and Khiry Robinson are out, fantasy owners have to ride Ingram until the wheels fall off.
Ingram has carried the load for the Saints in recent weeks, and on the season, he has 551 yards on the ground (4.8 ypc) and six scores. With another juicy matchup on the schedule this week against the Bengals at home, who just surrendered three rushing touchdowns last Thursday to the Cleveland Browns, Ingram is a no-brainer start of the week.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit: I hope you bought low on Stafford while you could, because he’s about to take off. The return of Calvin Johnson will once again make Stafford a top-six quarterback option in fantasy circles going forward. The real life matchup of the Lions and the Cardinals will be fun to watch, and while the Cardinals will be leaning on the play of their defense after Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury, they give up plenty of yards through the air. The Lions’ running game is one to avoid this week, but expect at least two scores through the air for Stafford and over 325 yards.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston: The change to Ryan Mallett makes me slightly nervous, and I expect Mallett to have his share of struggles against the underrated Cleveland defense. However, Hopkins can still shine even if his quarterback struggles. If you are ever looking for a wide receiver to start, take a look at the No. 2 receiver that is facing the Browns. Last week aside (thanks, Andy!) No. 2 receivers have eaten Buster Skrine and Justin Gilbert up this year. Expect that trend to continue this week, even with the change of quarterback for the Texans.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City: There’s a shot that Anthony Fasano won’t play on Sunday, which opens the doors (finally!) for Kelce. Larry Donnell didn’t capitalize in last week’s matchup against the Seahawks, though he did have a red zone look. Kelce has been hit or miss all season, but the matchup and opportunity sans Fasano is too good to overlook him this week. Start him with confidence and if you pass on Rob Gronkowski in DFS this week, Kelce is a cheaper alternate.
Russell Wilson, Seattle: Remember when Wilson was taking over fantasy early in the season? Yeah, that was cute. Lately, Wilson has looked horrible on the field, and his only value has been with his legs. Do you want to count on that each week, especially this week against a stout Kansas City defense? Look elsewhere if you can.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati: It’s going to be the Hill show again this week, and the matchup isn’t a bad one. However, I can see the Bengals falling behind early, which will lead to them abandoning the running game. He could go off and have a huge game, but he’s no more than a flex to me this week.
Marques Colston, New Orleans: This isn’t a this week thing, this is a 2013, 2014 and beyond thing. Can we stop pretending that Colston is good, please? He has no business starting for you, and he shouldn’t be owned in any 10- or 12-team leagues at this point. Forget the name, and drop him right now. Literally, drop him for the Indianapolis defense if they are out there.
Greg Olsen, Carolina: Look, you aren’t going to bench Olsen. Frankly, tight end is such a poor position that it’s hard to recommend to bench anyone. This is merely a warning that Olsen’s schedule gets mighty tough coming up, and it starts on Sunday against the Falcons, who he has owned in his career. If you have a Rivera, Donnell or another decent tight end option, it’s not the worst idea to dangle Olsen out there to see what you could get.