Fantasy Football sucks. Let’s be real, it’s very, very frustrating.
But as corny as it sounds, Fantasy Football is a marathon, not a sprint. Over the course of 16 weeks, there are 16 Tuesday night’s to win your league at the Waiver Wire. Overspending on Fozzy Whittaker sucks, but it should kill you. There are other weeks to make it up. There are 16 opportunities to make the right call on gameday. Benching C.J. Anderson Week 1 against Carolina won’t and shouldn’t kill your league.
It is best not to get too down when we make a bad decision, and to not get our own biases in the way. Certain players are frustrating to watch on Sunday’s (I’m looking at you Amari Cooper), but like I mentioned five seconds ago, it is a process, and it only takes a few weeks for a certain player to get going and make ourselves pat ourselves on the back for choosing him over the other options.
Through the first four weeks of the NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have certainly been frustrating, as many (including myself) would have thought their record would have certainly been a little bit better than 1-3.
However, this is a week for the Bucs that will define their year, a very important road division game that will put an emphasis on a win if they were to achieve it. And in order for Tampa Bay to win, it will have to go through their wide receiver, Michael Lynn Evans III (SIDE NOTE: What a weird middle name!)
Start of the Week: Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay
For those of you that might be thinking, “Oh, he’s just chasing points from last week when Julio dropped 300 yards receiving”, or “I don’t like this Patriots fan giving me shady advice”, you may be right, but, the matchup is a good one.
Continuing with the injuries theme, although there were some question marks to begin the week, it is looking like Carolina will have Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson. The Carolina defense is a funnel defense, one that should have no issues taking away the Tampa Bay run game, but in turn, are not so good at defending wideouts.
Although it is easy to look at it and say that Carolina ranks 19th in the NFL against the pass per Football Outsiders, it is good to know that in terms of DVOA, the Panthers rank 25th in the NFL in covering opposing number 1’s.
The Buccaneers have been underwhelming thus far, and they should probably continue to be for most of the year. However, this doesn’t mean that Evans will not get his, and boy will he in a great matchup against a banged up and bad Carolina secondary.
*Note* – I will be more than happy to answer specific lineup questions below, but I won’t be selecting the “obvious” plays unless I don’t think they are so obvious. Regardless of a great matchup, you won’t see names like Aaron Rodgers, Todd Gurley, or Antonio Brown. Those are no-brainers. Fire ’em up with confidence.
The great thing about Manning this week is that he’ll face a funnel defense in the Green Bay Packers in what is likely to be a shootout. With a 48.5 O/U labeled on this game by Vegas, Manning will face a Packers defense that ranks 2nd in the NFL against the rush according to Football Outsiders, but also ranks 22nd against the pass. Well, if the Giants did want to run the ball, good luck, as they’ll have to do so with Orleans Darkwa and Paul Perkins. Meanwhile, the Packers secondary will be without Sam Shields and will also possibly be without Damarious Randall as he has been limited all week in practice. Even though it may not seem like it, considering they are underdogs, the Giants might actually be in a “get-well” matchup as their passing attack can continue to evolve with Sterling Shepard and Odell against this beat-up secondary (both of whom are great plays as well).
Derek Carr (vs. SD)
With Latavius Murray out for this game, and with the Chargers secondary taking a major blow earlier this week with the news that Jason Verrett will be out for the year, this game script is setting up to have Derek Carr throw the ball a ton. Even with Verrett, this secondary is very average, ranking 13th against the pass according to Football Outsiders, and on average, give up 25 fpts per game to the QB position. Carr has actually not done too bad against the Chargers in his career, as last year, he completed 68% of his passes in this matchup. Carr is a great start over other guys like Matt Ryan or others who will be in tougher matchups than usual.
Wentz has definitely impressed many to start the year, and his Eagles are in prime position to start the year 4-0 against this weak Lions defense. Through 3 weeks, Wentz ranks 5th in DVOA according to Football Outsiders, and 9th in QBR, with a 65.3% completion rate. This week he’ll get a chance to further his rookie season against a Lions defense that ranks dead last against the pass, according to Football Outsiders, and on average, gives up 280 yards and 2 TD’s, with 27 fpts per game in total. A stat that really goes overlooked is AY/A, or adjusted yards per passing attempt, with is pretty self explanatory. Anything above 7.5 is pretty good, and Carson Wentz ranks 4th in the NFL with a AY/A of 8.5. This kid is good, and this matchup is even better.
Osweiler has not been good to start the year at all. Not only does he rank 30th in the NFL in DVOA and DYAR according to Football Outsiders, he only has a 61% completion rate with 6 interceptions to start his 2016 campaign. He’ll face a very tough Minnesota Vikings defense that ranks 4th in the NFL against the pass according to Football Outsiders, and even 4th in the NFL against the run (so those that think that Lamar Miller could do well and lead to some play-action passes are…. wrong.). Osweiler has been decent at best against weak or middle-of-the-road defenses, and not so hot against good defenses. Stay away.
Stafford disappointed all of us last week against what seemed to be a great matchup on the road against Chicago, and although some may still want to start Stafford at home, I would really try to convince you otherwise. First off, this is not an easy matchup, even though it will be at Ford Field. The Eagles rank 1st in the NFL against the pass according to Football Outsiders (remember, they shut down Pittsburgh a few weeks ago). Stafford definitely has a high upside offense that has really suited him best thanks to my favorite dude OC Jim Bob Cooter, but what some people might not know is that Stafford will have to face off against Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, who used to be Stafford’s Head Coach a few years back. If there is anyone who knows how to stop Stafford, it’s Schwartz. I would look for other options.
So Matt Ryan did really well last week you guys. However, that was against a Panthers secondary that doesn’t look too good now, and the game was at the Georgia Dome. Now, Ryan will face a totally different, and tougher, matchup against Denver in Denver. The Broncos rank 3rd in the NFL against the pass according to Football Outsiders, and Julio should have a pretty tough time if they so choose to put Aqib Talib against him. There are better options to choose from, and it is very likely that Ryan comes back down to earth in this tough matchup on the road.
With the likely absence of Bears DT Eddie Goldman Sunday, this is shaping up to be a great game for Gore, who has carved out a healthy role in this disappointing Colts offense to start the year with 21 touches last week in London. The Bears as a defensive unit rank 20th in the NFL against the rush, and this is a good spot for Gore, especially when you consider there could be some effects of traveling back from London to Indy without a bye week, hindering the passing game. But, that is just a thought. This is a chance for the Colts offense to look like themselves again in what looks to be a good matchup on paper.
Like I have mentioned in the past, the injury of Adrian Peterson has actually brought a more balanced attack from the Minnesota offense. McKinnon has gotten involved over the last few weeks, and so has Rudolph and at times Diggs. The Houston rush defense has not been very good to start the year, as they rank 30th in the NFL against the run, per Football Outsiders. Especially with the continued absence of J.J. Watt, this front seven is vulnerable, and McKinnon should have no issues, especially with a healthy workload courtesy of Norv Turner.
Before you click the back button on the top left corner of your browser, hear me out. First off, this is a scary Denver secondary, and I think Shanahan knows this. If Atlanta wants to even think about marching into Denver and taking the win, it’ll have to be with Devonta on the ground and out of the backfield. They aren’t gonna target Julio and Sanu a bunch against these DB’s. Second, according to Football Outsiders, these Bronco’s rank 23rd against the run of all NFL teams. And who have they played? Carolina, Indy, the Bengals and Tampa Bay. I think it is safe to assume that Devonta is better than all of these backs on these teams. Third, and probably most important, Freeman might be the only back we see out of Atlanta on Sunday, as Coleman will be likely restricted with a sickle-cell trait, which is really effected by Altitude. Freeman might not go bonkers (I hope he does though), but he is a solid play this week, and one that you definitely should not bench in what seems like I bad matchup.
This Baltimore front seven looks good so far, and I think it will continue against Jones this week. According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens front seven ranks 1st in the NFL against the rush, and they will face a Washington team that has run the ball fairly effectively to start the year, but in general, are more pass-oriented, and should match up better against a Ravens secondary that is not as scary as their front seven (albeit, they’re still pretty freaking solid as a defensive unit together). Game script is not working the Jones’ favor, and I don’t see a way Washington generates any kind of offensive production on the road. I’ll pass.
We don’t know much about the status of Mathews’ health going into Week 5, which is primarily why I will stay away. He could be a full go, but even if he does, which is not likely, I don’t think he’ll dominate touches at all, and there has been word that Wendell Smallwood could get some looks in addition to the workload that Darren Sproles already receives. After only playing 12% of snaps last week, he’ll face a Detroit defense that looks weak on paper, yet has not allowed a rushing TD this year (even while facing against DeMarco). There are better options elsewhere.
Like I mentioned before with Osweiler, there is no part of this Houston offense that I want. He’ll face a very tough Minnesota Vikings defense that ranks 4th in the NFL against the rush according to Football Outsiders, and even 4th in the NFL against the pass (so those that think that Lamar Miller could do well and lead to some play-action passes and open up the field are…. wrong.). I don’t see Houston moving the ball down the field, and I think this game will get out of hand early and quickly. The only thing going for Miller is that he’ll see a nice workload regardless, but I don’t see that aspect making a difference for me Sunday.
Amari Cooper (vs. SD)
Trust me, the dude has been frustrating, and I get that. But fantasy football decisions should not be made with the heart, but with the head. And the smart move is to lock Cooper into your lineups. Like I mentioned with Carr above, with Latavius Murray out for this game, and with the Chargers secondary taking a major blow earlier this week with the news that Jason Verrett will be out for the year, this game script is setting up to have Derek Carr throw the ball a ton. Even with Verrett, this secondary is very average, ranking 13th against the pass according to Football Outsiders. Cooper would have gotten a lot of Verrett, and is now in a prime spot to take advantage of. Although Cooper has not had the production we would have liked to have seen, he has still been getting in WR1 snaps, and even WR1 targets in some cases, but has not gotten the catches to go along with it. Cooper is a nice regression candidate, and should show us in this matchup of why he is Oakland’s #1 wideout.
I can’t get enough of Matthews this week, and I think he has the upside to finish as a Top-5 wideout this week against Detroit. Because Matthews works mostly out of the slot, he should avoid Darrius Slay, and work on the rest of the Detroit secondary that ranks 32nd in the NFL against the pass, and should be Wentz’s #1 option. The interesting thing about Matthews is the fact that they are on the road versus Detroit. Because it is at Detroit, the Eagles should pull away and pound the ball a whole lot, and Matthews should still have an active participation in this game once it goes late.
Landry is a PPR target monster, and is bcoming Tannehill’s primary read, and possibly his only read. Landry has been racking up catches and targets for the first 4 weeks in this 2016 season, and he should continue against a secondary that ranks 14th against the pass, which is good nor bad. The reason why I am so interested in Landry is due to the fact that Miami does not have a running game, causing Tannehill to throw the ball a ton, which is a benefit to Landry. At home, the Miami passing attack should not falter, and Landry is the direct benefit of it.
Pryor might be the only hope for Cleveland against New England, as he has been the past few weeks, but Belichick has a habit of taking away the best offensive threat of the opposing team. The only way I see Pryor generating any sort of fantasy relevance is if New England runs up the score a bit, the Browns might never run the ball, however, that is a tall order, and there are other options I would perfer over Pryor.
I’m going to keep this short, and sweet. Like I mentioned with Osweiler, they’ll both face a very tough Minnesota Vikings defense that ranks 4th in the NFL against the pass according to Football Outsiders, and even 4th in the NFL against the run (so those that think that Lamar Miller could do well and lead to some play-action passes are…. wrong.). Yes, he is DeAndre Hopkins, and Fuller is a nice rookie, but there is too much risk associated with starting these two, and there are better options.
Travis Benjamin (@ OAK)
Benjamin has been very inefficient even without Keenan Allen, and he shouldn’t start to turn it around against this Raiders secondary that boasts PFF’s top overall grade at CB. Yes, he is still averaging around seven targets, and there is a chance that he could burst out for a nice game if this game in general becomes a shootout, but that is not likely, as the Raiders rank 10th in the NFL against wideouts. Simply put, there are other options, and there is a lot of risk with starting Benjamin that there shouldn’t be from your WR3 or FLEX spot.
He’s back! After a few weeks off repairing his injury, Ertz is back and will have a great first matchup against a Detroit defense that ranks 29th in the NFL against TE’s with a very weak LB corps that again should be without DeAndre Levy. He’s already seen a nice workload when he was healthy, and he should continue to get his in a great matchup this Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong, Rudolph is a stud rest of season, but I want to have other options to work with this week. Rudolph will square off against a Texans defense that is pretty solid against TE’s, especially with LB Brian Cushing back and stronger after another week under his belt, ranking 1st in the NFL according to Football Outsiders. With Stefon Diggs likely out, Crennel and Co. should focus much of their efforts on taking away Rudolph, which might be Bradford’s only option thus far.
Mason Crosby (vs. NYG)
Funny enough, the Giants actually give up the most points to kickers of any team in the NFL. On average, New York gives up 12 points to the Kicker position. In a game marked by Vegas of having a 48.5 O/U, it has a feeling of a shootout with two sub-par defenses, and Crosby should benefit from it.
Dan Bailey (vs. CIN)
Bailey is pretty banged up this week, and with Dallas looking at other options in a game that won’t even be a shootout or have enough offense to convert drives on, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Defense & Special Teams
Buffalo Bills (@ LA)
The Bills have looked pretty good over the last few weeks, and they’ll get another great opportunity against the L.A. Rams. The Bills are middle-of-the-road against both the run and pass to start the year, but again, they get a great matchup against the Rams that have not been very efficient to start the year, and rank 30th in the NFL in pass offense according to Football Outsiders, and 29th in rush offense.
The Packers haven’t been a sieve to start the year, but they’ll be faced off against a very efficient New York Giants offense that has looked good thus far. Also, it is more than likely that they’ll be without Damarious Randall in addition to Sam Shields being out indefinitely. With a game that is looking to be a shootout, there are better options on the board.
Thanks for sticking around to the end for what is shaping up to be a great second week of the NFL season. As always, if you agree or disagree with a player above, or have a general question or comment about your team, please do not hesitate to leave one below.
Best of luck, and I’ll talk to you guys next week as we try to get your team to 6-0 on the season.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.