If your fantasy team is like any of mine, you’re in desperate need of a win. Moral victories, while marginally more palatable in the fantasy world, serve little purpose in the overall quest for bragging rights amongst frenemies.
Unfortunately, as I and many others try to right their respective fantasy ships, week eight brings with it the debut of bye week hell and subsequently throws a major wrench in our plans of getting our squads back on track.
Through seven weeks, this NFL season has brought with it some unforeseen surprises in terms of production — who would’ve thought Carson Wentz & Alex Smith would be in the MVP discussion?
In addition to the surprising play at quarterback, Kareem Hunt has put the entire league on notice, and if it weren’t for a freak injury, Dalvin Cook likely would be challenging him in the OROY race.
Deshaun Watson looks every bit as advertised in Houston, begging the question why he wasn’t tabbed as the starter from the beginning — Savage thinking if you ask me.
All in all, this year has been filled with as much unpredictability as I can remember in recent memory. Picking and choosing the weekly standouts has been a troublesome task up to this point — I mean, it took until the later stages of last week’s Super Bowl rematch for Julio Jones to score his first touchdown of the season!
Regardless of the trials and tribulations we’ve all gone through so far this season, hope still remains for a playoff birth and ultimate fantasy supremacy. With that in mind, let’s rundown some fantasy DO’s and DON’Ts for this week.
DO start Case Keenum
All signs point to Keenum making his sixth start behind centre for Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, and it appears he will get a primary weapon back with the likely return of WR Stefon Diggs (groin). Keenum, for his part, has been steady most of the year. He has benefited from a much improved offensive line and has cut down on turnovers compared to past seasons. No Myles Garrett should give Keenum and the Vikings offence plenty of time and options to cruise to victory in London.
Sure, you can probably do better than Keenum but if bye weeks have you looking for a plug and play option, you could do A LOT worse.
DO start ALL YOUR EAGLES
They are playing the 49ers at home. Enough said.
DON’T expect much from the Raiders ground game
The Raiders were a team with so much promise at the beginning of the season. Many had Super Bowl aspirations. Now, they find themselves treating every game as a must-win just to stay in the hunt — no, not a KC play on words.
The Raiders travel to Orchard Park to face the Bills 7th ranked rush defence (84.5 yds/G). The Raiders have struggled most of the season running the ball and while I don’t expect the absence to be felt all that much, they will be playing this game without Beast Mode. Jalen Richardson and DeAndre Washington will look to pick up the slack. I expect the Raiders to continue their pass-heavy ways making their running backs worthy candidates for DO NOT TOUCH labels. Even starting Derek Carr is iffy.
DO start Andy Dalton
Dalton, for all his troubles, faces a Colts defence that would have a hard time shutting down Rick Moranis’ Little Giants. Yielding an average of 425 yards per game to opponents, the Colts defensive incompetence should provide the Bengals a much needed confidence boost this Sunday. I, for one, can’t get a read on how the backfield touches will shake out so roll with Bengals running backs at your own risk. But Dalton and Green should be locked in as starters, the latter of which being a weekly no doubter.
DO start Jerrick McKinnon
Pardon me for appearing to be Viking heavy with my projections. They are playing the Browns, can you really blame me?
McKinnon got left out last week as Latavius Murray had himself a day against the Ravens. However, this week should bring with it a return to the party of sorts for the converted QB out of Georgia Southern University. I think the Vikings jump ahead early and will look to control the clock, giving both their running backs a chance to put up respectable numbers. Hell, they could probably give him some snaps at quarterback for old time sakes and still win. Sorry Browns fans, but it’s just so easy to make fun of you.
DO start Philip Rivers
For all his faults — his awkward throwing motion for one — Rivers rarely fails to produce. Through 7 weeks, Rivers sits 5th in the NFL in passing yards and has thrown 12 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions. He’s coming off an impressive outing against a premiere defensive squad in the Denver Broncos where he threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Look for the yardage numbers to be much higher this week when he faces a Patriots defence giving up the most passing yards per game in the league (310.3). Rivers should have a big day, whether it results in a Chargers win…who knows.
DON’T start Colts running backs
The Bengals are allowing the ninth fewest fantasy points to running backs and have given up only two touchdowns to running backs this season. Add in the fact the Colts have no offensive line and are likely to play from behind most of the game, and it becomes clear why you should look elsewhere for your running backs this week — look at Lewis and White in NE. Both should net you some yardage points and Brady is not afraid to target his running backs in the red zone.
DO start Deshaun Watson
This is solely due to Watson’s opponent — a road contest against the Seahawks. Seattle still boasts an intimidating defence but Watson has been magnificent up to this point. A QB rating over 100.0, 15 touchdowns, only 5 interceptions and we all know about his ability to make plays with his legs. The Seahawks are a top-10 defence in terms of passing yards yielded but I still believe Watson has the goods to deliver in a hostile environment.
DON’T start Josh Doctson or Terrell Pryor Sr.
These two have been in a see-saw affair for snaps the past several weeks. To this point, Pryor has been targeted 33 times, to Doctson’s 14. Redskins HC Jay Gruden continues to promise an expanded role for Doctson but we’ve yet to see that on the field. The Redskins opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, are coming off a dominant win over the 49ers and while they don’t have the league’s most fierce pass defence (19th in terms of yards), both Doctson and Pryor are too reliant on the big play to warrant serious fantasy consideration this week. If you’re forced to go with one, my gut tells me Doctson.
DO start Jermaine Kearse
The Falcons are a team in disarray on both sides of the ball. Offensively, much has been said about the state of the offence under OC Steve Sarkisian, but defensively they have failed to live up to expectations, allowing opponents to convert on 41% of third downs. Jets QB Josh McCown and Kearse have shown glimpses so far this season so if you’re in need of a wide receiver with big play potential and also likely to see his fair share of targets, Kearse is a good bet.
DO start Matt Moore and Kenny Stills
Going back to last season, Moore has targeted Stills on just over 23% of his throws with Stills hauling in 5 of Moore’s 10 touchdowns over the same time span. Landry and Ajayi are no-brainers but don’t sleep on the other capable Dolphins. The Ravens are a formidable defence but in a week with six teams on byes, it may be slim pickings for some in the QB & WR realm.
I know there are many more decisions to be made, but the above should at least help you navigate your way through the rough waters of a six team bye week. As for tight ends, kickers, and defences, I counsel you to go with your gut.
Kittle (49ers) is a decent TE flier. Jack Doyle is another worthy fill-in candidate (O-DOYLE RULES!), although his matchup — Bengals — isn’t ideal, especially when you consider the return of LB Vontaze Burfict.
Leaning towards a kicker playing indoors is always advisable.
Defences are always a dice roll in weeks like this. If no waiver wire matchup screams at you, don’t be afraid to leave it blank. That way, you can’t lose points which happens all too often when trying to find plug in defences.
Best of luck out there.