Last time Aleks and I faced off back in week 4, I narrowly escaped with a 116.5-109.3 victory. Even with CJ Spiller’s miraculous OT TD vs DAL, the Stafford/Calvin duo was contained by SEA and a large lead meant Julio wasn’t needed to carry the load vs HOU. Way back then, I was still starting Hill out of necessity but he was kind enough to punch in 3 TDs that week. With Brady on BYE, I was relying on Flacco and Ryan. As fortuitous as Hill’s game was, I unfortunately caught that one terrible game that Flacco seems to have every year. I remember drafting Flacco explicitly to cover for Brady until the latter returned from suspension and when that didn’t come to pass, Flacco was supposed to be the BYE week fill-in I kept stashed for 3 weeks – thanks Joe >_> (ps – get well soon!)
After stashing him all year, Aleks lost Romo again to injury and finds himself relying on Stafford and Alex Smith again. A year that looked totally lost at some points for Stafford and DET, they’ve actually managed to right the ship a bit lately (Martha Ford for Executive of the Year?? xD). Stafford had his best game last week vs PHL, but Im inclined to think that that is more reflective of how bad PHL’s defense played. He did manage 242/2/1 @GB a few weeks ago and I think his performance will be closer to that in the rematch at home. The potential for Stafford to just bottom out is there, but far less likely than it seemed at the beginning of the season. That risk is a little higher @STL, but that defense has been shown to be vulnerable to the big play if they cant get to the QB and as a result of overpursuing.
The way KC is constructed, Smith actually seems to suffer in better matchups as the gameplan gets conservative. It’s a shame since KC does have players like Kelce/Maclin/West/Ware who can step up if KC wanted to best teams with their offense, but alas. A QB2 floor is basically ensured each week with his aversion to TOs and modest running numbers however. OAK and SD are beatable defenses so Im expecting one QB2 week and a low-end QB1 week between those two matchups for Smith.
Stashing Rawls paid off for Aleks as he is now SEA’s RB1. Having just lost Graham, it’s certainly possible that SEA leans even more on the run (only CAR has a higher % of run plays – mb bc they’re usually in the lead). MIN and BAL are pretty good run defenses, but so was PIT vs who Rawls demonstrated that he is good enough to produce even in hard matchups. He also has big play ability so it wouldnt be a surprise to see him break off a big play either as a runner or receiver. The main concern might be Wilson punching in TDs (still looking for his first this year) or SEA spreading teams out with Baldwin/Kearse/Lockett, but both of those seem unlikely.
Cherry picking some stats here, but Miller has had 6 (out of 11) games of 8 or fewer pts but 4 with >18 pts including 41 and 30 pts weeks. What happened to interim coach Campbell just pounding the ball on the ground? Maybe the change in MIA OC means Miller gets more touches and BAL and NYG are not death-knell matchups either. Not sure what to expect out of Miller, but he does have the ability to just win matchups, but can also sink them with his duds. MIA is technically eliminated yet (I think…), but maybe they feature Ajayi more if they think Miller isn’t part of their future.
Dougernaut has already eclipsed the 1000yd rushing mark and should be able to make some sizeable additions to his total with games vs ATL and NO (both at home in TB). He probably is also due for some TD regression as well so he should be a locked in RB1 both weeks.
Julio torched TB in their last matchup for 12/162/1 and may have his number called again in the rematch. ATL seems pretty desperate for another receiving weapon to take some of the load off Julio’s shoulders, but White/Hankerson/Tamme/Hardy have struggled to live up to the task. More concerning might be the play of his QB, Matt Ryan who has looked unimpressive in recent weeks with some ugly TOs. Regardless, Julio gets moved around so much that he usually sees enough volume to overcome any matchup. This week’s matchup isn’t nearly as interesting as next week’s vs Josh Norman and CAR on the road. Apparently Norman didn’t follow Dez when the latter lined up in the slot last week so maybe Julio and ATL dodge the Norman matchup and operate mostly from there. If any WR were to beat Norman downfield, Julio would probably be on the short list of WRs capable of doing so.
While Calvin may not be as dominant as he has been in the past, he still has been pretty consistent through questionable QB play and playcalling. Probably still one of the top threats in the RZ, he took a vacation in TD-regressionland last week with 3 TDs vs PHL. He may not have many big yardage games, but volume and high TD potential ensure a high weekly floor that he’ll probably hit vs GB and STL.
Similarly to Miller, Sammy Watkins has been one of the biggest boom/bust players this season. When not hampered by injury, he’s rattled off some incredible games rife with spectacular catches downfield for big yardage and TDs. Tyrod seemingly doesn’t have reservations about just throwing it up and letting Sammy make a play and yet Watkins’ usage continues to come and go. Just last week was a tale of two halves as just about all of his 6/158/2 came in the first half only for him to be nearly absent in the 2nd half. Perhaps KC should be credited for making adjustments, but BUF has had a maddening habit of sacing Watkins and trying to utilize the space he creates by drawing the defense to himself. HOU has been able to shut down some strong passing games, but I imagine Watkins should find success purely off his talent vs PHL.
Aleks has a lot of players that can make some spectacular plays. Delanie Walker is uh…not as aesthetically pleasing, but you cant argue with his production. Mariota’s trusted target, Walker gets plenty of volume. Relatively matchup proof due to his role, JAX is a great matchup that he previously torched for 8/109 and he should be a low-end TE1 vs NYJ.
Admittedly, I don’t really know our leagues scoring for DSTs which includes yardage. JAX seems like a safe floor play @TEN if their last matchup on TNF is any indication. CHI probably has more upside for those precious DST TDs in a matchup with SF at home. Id imagine he streams a different DST for next week tho. Gostkowski is the #1 K, simple as that. With NE’s injuries on offense, maybe that could mean more drives that stall within FG range for Gostkowski. Jmatt/Austin/Amendola and two empty spots make up his bench, but I don’t foresee him starting any of those over his current starters.
Cam is pretty self-explanatory. NO is a premier matchup and ATL next week is also doable. Locked in QB1 with great upside. In hindsight, it’s kind of fortunate that I was able to trade Brady (sans-Gronk/Edelman/Lewis) for him despite the mental anguish it cost me. My QB2 is a bit murkier. Cutler seems to have benefitted from an offense that asks him to do less resulting in more consistency and in turn stronger fantasy production. SF has some really unfavorable road splits so Cutler seems like the play for me this week. To be honest, TB isn’t that bad a matchup for Ryan, but he’s almost been Bradford-esqe with the way he and the ATL offense struggles to move the ball at times and the TOs at the most inopportune moments. Devonta returns so maybe there is more balance, but ionno. Also with Julio on the other side, seems like that’s a race I probably wont win, tho Ryan has been throwing TDs to seemingly dudes off the street lately.
AP also is locked in as a RB1. Still seems like the MIN offense is predicated on him being able to break off that big run, but at least his OL is blocking a little better? MIN’s game plan actually resembles KC a bit most weeks: run, play defense, run more. Sucks for Bridgewater and Diggs, but works for AP. Charcandrick should be back from his hamstring injury, but returns to a RBBC with Ware. The dream of course would be that he returned to workhorse back status, but he’ll likely have to settle for leading the RBBC. Ware’s size presumably gives him the edge near the GL, sapping some of West’s TD potential, so I think he’ll be more reliant on yardage for this fantasy production. The good news is that he can catch the ball well enough and is capable of breaking off chunks of yardage at a time so all is not lost.
Alshon is healthy and shouldn’t have much trouble reaching WR1 production vs SF or WAS. Cooks/Maclin/Brown/Benjamin are all mid-to-low WR2’s that I’ll mix and match. Maclin and Brown for sure this week. Maclin has a chance to get gamescript’d out of a week with the way KC plays, but OAK’s offense should keep them in the game for all four qtrs and thus keep Maclin involved as well in a relatively neutral matchup for WRs. When he’s been on the field, Brown has actually been pretty steady for ARI. The presence of Floyd will take away some targets from Brown, but should also give him a little more space. I feel like the chance of him catching a long pass is greater vs STL than next week vs MIN despite the former being better at limiting WR fantasy production on the year. Olsen is locked in as a TE1 and should be able to do whatever he wants vs NO.
The last FLEX spot is a bit of a tossup between Hill/Cooks/Benjamin/Draughn/Chandler. I feel like I should dodge the CAR matchup with Cooks, but it is at home. Hill has been so inconsistent and even vs a soft CLE run defense, he wasn’t able to capitalize last time. Manziel didn’t have much luck connecting Benjamin last time vs CIN, but maybe Davis could be more successful? I feel better starting him next week vs SF. Draughn is so damn un-sexy but his role in SF is pretty unquestioned. He shouldnt have much trouble reaching his floor (~11 fantasy pts) vs CHI but his ceiling (~12 fantasy pts) leaves much to be desired…. OK, Im being a bit facetious, but he is probably going to need Gabbert to stop giving all the TDs to Vance McDonald to break into the upper teens of scoring. Chandler is obviously no Gronk, but does seem like a good bet to score a TD even vs PHL’s strong defense against TEs.
A few weeks ago, I thought I had picked up a stud DST in STL, but a weak offense has left them on the field far too often in recent weeks. The injury to Quinn also has exposed their weakness when they’re unable to get to the QB with phenomenal DL (4 sacks in their past 4 games). ARI has been a nightmare all season for opposing defenses and since I don’t really have the bench space, I’ll probably replace them on Saturday.
My team used to be a bit boom or bust surrounding Brady/AP but now with Cam/Alshon/Olsen, I feel like that floor is a little safer now. Julio/Calvin/Rawls offer strong floors with upside and Stafford/Smith wont lose you weeks, but you cant count on them to win you matchups either. Since this matchup is so even, I think I’ll play for the floor this week and if Im down heading into the 2nd week, play more aggressively. Miller and Watkins don’t “boom”, I should be able to hold the advantage and move on.
Bonus: By the Hand of Odell vs TRUMP 2016
As much as I wanted to clown Aria, his team has come on in these past two weeks. The return of Forte as well as the emergences of CJA and Baldwin have conveniently filled the holes in his lineup that he was able to overcome to make the playoffs. Conversely, Adrian’s team of heavy hitters has taken some hits of their own recently. Gronk down, Dez losing Romo, Devonta getting concussed, and a perpetually questionable backend of the roster have opened up some cracks in this seemingly juggernaut of a team. We’ll see if his remaining core of Roethlisberger/Dalton/Devonta/Antonio is strong enough to carry him past a surging Aria.