Kickers can’t make field goals, coaches are already being fired and Devonta Freeman can’t stop scoring touchdowns—just another crazy, unpredictable week of NFL football.
Below, we’ll try to parse through the madness and unlock the secrets of the fantasy universe. We’ll likely fail, because even a soothsayer probably seeks fantasy advice, but hopefully we can guide you in making wise lineup decisions based on the projections below, while also offering a few predictions for the PPR crowd.
Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets
There aren’t many surprises on the rankings this week, as the regular suspects are starting to emerge as the top options for fantasy owners. Even some players with tough matchups (Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton come to mind) are worth starting rather than gambling on an alternative.
Dalton in particular has been excellent this year, and even against a very good Seattle defense, he’s worth considering a start. He’s posted 17 or more fantasy points in all four starts this season and has an excellent arsenal of weapons at his disposal.
Seattle is tough against the run and pass, but Cincy is pretty darn tough to beat at home. Expect Dalton to put up solid, if unspectacular QB1 numbers.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees should get back on track for fantasy owners after his big win this week.
Expect him to put up big numbers against a poor Philly secondary.
Is Freeman for real? Nerdy Football’s Matt Camp thinks he is…for now:
Freeman has been electrifying in the past two weeks, but there are concerns for fantasy owners going forward with him. The first is that his touchdown production is obviously unsustainable. Expecting him to score a touchdown each week—let alone three—is foolish.
However, that is mitigated by the fact that Atlanta has featured him regularly in the run and pass games and that he has shown off dynamic talent when given the ball. So he should be able to produce yardage points for owners even if the touchdown well dries up.
The second concern, as Camp raises, is that rookie Tevin Coleman will eventually return and scoop up some of Freeman’s touches. Freeman has played well enough to be the starter, yes, but the coaching staff liked Coleman enough to give him 20 carries in Week 1. At some point, Freeman will be splitting reps, and once that happens he’ll return to his status as an RB2 or flex option.
But enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Julio Jones is going to have some quiet weeks, folks. He’s been traditionally streaky for fantasy owners, though this season it feels like those downturns will come less frequently than they have in the past. He should be fine this week.
Keenan Allen has emerged as a true consideration for WR1 status. He’s posted double-digit fantasy points in three of four weeks and has two weeks with 10 or more receptions. Philip Rivers trusts him and, frankly, the San Diego Chargers need him to keep producing.
Allen may not finish the season as a WR1, but it’s hard to imagine him being anything less than a high-upside WR2 this season. He’s for real, folks—last year’s disappointing numbers were an aberration.
Boy, tight end seems thin this year, doesn’t it? I mean, Gary Barnidge—who sounds like he should be selling you life insurance, not catching passes from Josh McCown—cracks this week’s top 10.
Then again, why not? Barnidge has 12 receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the past two weeks. He obviously has excellent chemistry with McCown and has to be considered a spot starter for fantasy owners—especially folks who have Greg Olsen on bye this week—as long as McCown is under center.
This could be a tough week for some of the better defenses, as a few of them have tough matchups. Still, if you have a defense you trust to this point—Denver, Seattle, etc.—stick with them.
After a week when kickers seemed to miss every other kick, having a reliable one is pretty darn important. If you have a Justin Tucker or Stephen Gostkowski, you should be just fine.
Jones continues to be a beast in points-per-reception leagues, and that doesn’t seem likely to stop anytime soon, as Matt Ryan will continue to target him with regularity. The Falcons have gotten to 4-0 in large part because either Jones has torched the opposition or Atlanta’s opponent has had to overcompensate to slow him down. Few players have more value in the PPR format than Jones.
Julian Edelman, aka Wes Welker 2.0, will continue to have supreme value in this format. Ditto for running backs like Danny Woodhead or Darren Sproles, who are largely used as third-down options or passing weapons out of the backfield.
Jarvis Landry goes on bye this week, but the receptions machine has far more value in PPR leagues than he does in standard ones. With unrest in Miami, now might be a good time to pry him a way from a nervous owner.
Larry Fitzgerald has re-emerged as Carson Palmer’s top threat in the passing game, taking up a new role in the slot. That gives him sustainable value as a WR1 in PPR leagues, even if some of his other numbers regress back to his recent mean. Brandon Marshall, another player on a bye, is also locked in as a WR1 in the format.
All fantasy stats via ESPN standard leagues.
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