Sat Sep 21 11:36am ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
The big news, and the advice you’re probably looking for, is what to do at quarterback. With injuries and changes, there are at least six new quarterbacks to choose from. The biggest two are the season ending injuries to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the six-to-nine week injury to New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. First, I must go on record as stating I’m not a fan of rookie quarterbacks and history tells us not to have big expectations.
If you’re going to claim a quarterback on the waiver wire this week, here is how I rank the candidates.
Mason Rudolph would be my first choice. With Big Ben out for the year, the job is his to keep and he’ll be given a bigger leash than the other candidates. He gets an interesting game to start with, although he played most of last last Sunday’s game. I expect a shootout with San Francisco with the home team prevailing in the end. The 49ers defensive strength is stopping the run, so James Conner, if he plays, will have tough going. Keeping the chains moving will be the passing game and lucky for Rudolph, he has a full complement of receivers ready to go, so I’m predicting 250-plus passing yards with two touchdowns.
I’m not a Teddy Bridgewater fan, but the job for next six-to-nine weeks appears to be his. I think Taysom Hill could be a better quarterback, and if Bridgewater falters, he could get a chance. I also expect to see him more involved in gadget plays. Seattle’s secondary leaves a lot to be desired and Michael Thomas can make a quarterback look good, so he could be fine this week.
Daniel Jones has replaced Eli Manning in New York, but it doesn’t change how bad the Giants are. He will bing some new enthusiasm, but his receivers are hurt and weak. He can’t throw every pass to Evan Engram, and the Tampa Bay defense must have a plan to stop him and Saquon Barkley. My guess is he struggles as you’d expect a rookie would.
Luke Falk. Seriously, I feel sorry for him and his debut could be really ugly. The Jets are hurting and the Patriots defense is playing at a high level. Granted, it was the Dolphins last week. Don’t expect anything from Falk and if you have to play him, I’m sorry for you and your team!
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew showed he could be a respectable addition from his showing Thursday night. He started well with two touchdown passes in the first quarter, and the Jags seemed to coast from there. Otherwise, he could have put up bigger numbers. But in a pinch and with the right matchup, he could be serviceable.
You’ll need to check Sunday morning, but there’s a good chance Kyle Allen will be playing in place of the injured Cam Newton. I don’t think it will be that much of a downgrade if he plays, and he has a solid group of receivers. The Cardinals defense has been vulnerable the first two weeks and Christian McCaffery will keep them off balance, so Allen will have time to succeed. Here’s a good sleeper if he plays.
Speaking of quarterbacks, this is the week Jameis Winston should show coach Bruce Arians he’s his man. After two weak games, he gets a Giants defense that can’t seem to stop anyone. He is my second sleeper. I expect him to have a really big day.
And it appears Josh Rosen will be replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick in Miami. Sorry Josh, I hope you don’t get hurt.
Quarterbacks: The game of the week has to be a Baltimore at Kansas City. Lamar Jackson is going against Patrick Mahomes. If this is the shootout everyone expects, both quarterbacks will put up huge numbers. My other picks to click are Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen against Cincinnati and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott against the woeful Miami Dolphins. Play all your Cowboys in a blowout. They’ll all get a share of the fun.
Running Backs: Of course it starts with “Zeke” against the Dolphins, I don’t need to tell you that. And the next four are all household names, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Austin Ekeler (Who needs that Gordon guy?). All have great matchups against teams who have not been able to stop the run this year.
Here’s a couple sleeper plays if injuries open up a start for them. Jaylen Samuels could be a great pick if James Conner (he did practice in full Thursday) can’t go for Pittsburgh at San Francisco. And Darwin Thompson will get the ball a lot in Kansas City if LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams can’t answer the bell. Although most of Thompson’s production will come by way of the pass as Baltimore is hard to run on.
Keep an eye on Indianapolis because Marlon Mack has come up lame in practice this week. Jordan Wilkins would be the man and should have some success against the Falcons.
Another running back who has something to prove this week is Devonta Freeman. He’s been outplayed by Ito Smith in the first two games, but the Colts defense should give him room to roam.
Wide Receivers: The Eagles passing defense is 31st, so who is Matthew Stafford going to be throwing to? I think Kenny Golladay has a big day, and Danny Amendola will see his share of targets, too.
Adam Theilen should torch the Oakland defense, especially if the Vikings open things up a little bit. This is a great opportunity for Kirk Cousins to prove he can get the job dob done. The Giants pass defense can be exposed, and Jameis Winston is the guy who will do it. Both Mike Evans, who needs to show he’s a No. 1, and Chris Godwin should break the century mark in this game.
And of course, all Dallas receivers against Miami. This could be a Randall Cobb breakout game, and Devin Smith with Michael Gallup out.
Tight End: As mentioned above, Jason Witten could have a field day as the Dolphins are averaging 100 yards allowed and eight receptions to tight ends so far this year. This also is the week that Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson plays like he did in Week 1 and makes you forget his Week 2. He is a rookie, so inconsistency should be expected.
Streaming Defense: Dallas at home against Miami and the Patriots at home against the Jets are the two best bets. But the move you might want to make is picking up the Chargers defense now, so you have them for the Dolphins next week.
Have a great week 3!
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is coming off a solid game in Week 7 as he tallied five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. It was his first touchdown and his first time exceeding 36 receiving yards on the season. Rudolph may see a slight increase in targets due to receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) being out, but he still shouldn't be trusted in standard leagues. Rudolph remains an unexciting touchdown-dependent TE2 in Week 8's home matchup against the Washington Redskins.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison has gotten at least seven carries in 5-of-7 games this year, though he hasn't quite emerged as a player to consider starting as he's still the clear backup to Dalvin Cook. That being said, Mattison could be in line for a sizeable workload this week as the Vikings are favored by 16 points in a home matchup against the Washington Redskins. The Redskins Defense is more vulnerable through the air, but the Vikings will undoubtedly lean on the rushing attack as they still run at the second-highest rate in the league. Start Mattison if you're in desperate need of a deep-league FLEX option as there's a good chance that he sees at least 10 carries and does something meaningful with them. He's also not the worst dart-throw in daily formats if you're multi-entering into tournaments.
Denver Broncos TE Jake Butt (knee) and Theo Riddick (shoulder) are eligible to return to practice this week, but head coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday, Oct. 23 that he isn't going to practice either of them this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck, shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday. Marqise Lee (ankle), who missed Week 7, was limited. Westbrook was questionable for last Sunday's game but played and went over 100 yards against the Bengals injured and ineffective secondary. He'll have a good chance of playing this Sunday as long as he practices later this week. The matchup will be just as nice, too, as the Jags will face off with Gang Green's struggling defense. If he plays, Westbrook has clear WR2 upside. If he's inactive, Chris Conley would be on the DFS and deep league streaming radar.
The Vikings Defense gave up 30 points in a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 7 but still rank sixth in yards per game allowed and points per game allowed. They also have seven interceptions, 19 sacks, four fumble recoveries, and a safety on the season. They're presented with a golden matchup against Case Keenum and the Washington Redskins on Thursday night in Week 8. The Redskins are averaging a miserable 12.9 points per game and their offensive line is no match for Danielle Hunter and the Vikings imposing defensive front. Look for the Vikings to force mistakes and pick up plenty of sacks and start them with confidence in Week 8.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said he's not optimistic that wide receivers Trent Taylor (foot) and Jalen Hurd (back) will make it back this season after they both had "a couple setbacks." Obviously neither wideout should be stashed in season-long leagues, but Hurd has appeal to those in dynasty/keeper setups. The 49ers just traded for Emmanuel Sanders on Monday, too, so it would've been unrealistic to expect either Taylor or Hurd to make an impact in single-year leagues even if they returned. Sanders is expected to be in three-wide sets immediately with Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis in Week 8 against the Panthers.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been silencing his critics the past three weeks, throwing for 977 yards and an impressive 10/1 TD/INT ratio. He's also coming off back-to-back outings with four touchdowns in wins over the Lions and Eagles. Cousins will be missing Adam Thielen (hamstring) this week, but it shouldn't matter much in an exploitable matchup against the Washington Redskins at home. The Redskins Defense has already given up 14 passing touchdowns and they've been absolutely shredded by competent passing offenses all season. The only reason for pause is the potential cap of Cousins' volume as the Vikings are favored by a whopping 16 points. Start Cousins as a low-end QB1 option as he should be able to keep the streak going through the air in a soft matchup.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram is a possible player to be moved at the NFL trade deadline next week, but an AFC scout believes the fact Engram cannot stay healthy hurts his value. 'He's hurt way too much, but he's a big problem when he's healthy,' the scout said. 'His speed makes him a matchup nightmare. I don't know if (the Giants are) using him right, but another team could.'
Fantasy Spin: Engram is just 25 years old and the team could pick up his fifth-year option, which would put him under control through 2021. But if they decide not to pick up the option and move Engram, there would likely be plenty of takers. He has wide receiver ability in a tight end body, again, when healthy.
New York Giants CB Janoris Jenkins remains the most valuable and likely piece the team has to sell because cornerbacks are prized possessions, beat writer Ralph Vacchiano suggests. 'He's still good. And in this pass-happy league, everyone needs cornerbacks,' one NFL scout said last week.
New York Giants TE Rhett Ellison could move up to the top spot on the depth chart if the team elects to move TE Evan Engram at the NFL trade deadline. Ellison is reportedly a favorite of head coach Pat Shurmur, and the team could deal Engram and use Ellison in a limited pass-catching role where he's been effective at times.
Fantasy Spin: Even if Ellison were to slide up to the top spot of the depth chart, he has proven to have limitations. Expect 40-50 yards per game with an occasional touchdown, and that might be the ceiling of his fantasy production. That all hinges on whether or not the team parts with Engram, which isn't a certainty.
Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher (hernia) and defensive tackle Chris Jones (groin) both were limited in practice on Wednesday. Fisher has been out the last five game, while Jones has missed two straight. Fisher's return would be a positive development, as he might be blocking the blind side of backup Matt Moore if the Chiefs hold Patrick Mahomes (knee) out for another week. Jones' return would also be a welcomed addition with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming into town on Sunday night. The 25-year-old has 11 total tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery in five games after setting a career high with 15.5 QB takedowns a year ago.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is leading the league with 725 rushing yards, a 5.5 yards per carry average, and eight rushing touchdowns. He's RB2 in half-ppr scoring (Christian McCaffrey). You're starting him without hesitation in Week 8 against the Washington Redskins, who are allowing 134.4 yards per game on the ground. Cook could easily finish as the top running back of the week with the Vikings favored by 16 points at home (and with McCaffrey facing the 49ers Defense). The Vikings still run at the second-highest rate in the NFL and could lean on Cook even more in the absence of stud receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring). Cook remains an RB1 and he should be a priority play in daily formats as well.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron saw his stock rise last week when he caught four of his five targets for 70 yards and one touchdown. He had 49 more yards than fellow tight end Jack Doyle, and he's been out-playing him all year. The Denver Broncos have some good safeties, but Ebron is better than he's been this year. As quarterback Jacoby Brissett continues to look his way, he maintains some value every week. Consistency is key for tight ends, and you can have some faith in Ebron this week.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle had high hopes coming into the season. Heading into Week 8, it's becoming more clear that he won't be having the bounce-back season he was hoping for. Doyle has 25 targets on the year, but he has just 17 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett looks his way on a regular basis, but it's not down the field. It's also not in the red zone. Doyle gives you a safe option to score more than zero every week, but he's not going to light it up, especially in a bad matchup with the Denver Broncos. Teammate Eric Ebron has been the better option at the position. Doyle should be avoided this week.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson had a productive game stepping in for Adam Thielen (hamstring) in Week 7, catching 4-of-8 targets for 40 yards and a touchdown in the win. The rookie out of Colorado State is now in line for a spot-start as the second receiver in Week 8 as Thielen has been ruled out against the Washington Redskins and their forgiving defense. It's not crazy to project a usable target share again in an advantageous matchup at home, especially considering Johnson has received at least four targets in three of his last four games played. It's also worth noting that Kirk Cousins and the Vikings passing game has been on fire for three games straight. Johnson can be considered a WR3/WR4 and should be in consideration for deep leagues this week.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle leads the team in receptions and receiving yards by a wide margin, but he now has some company with the addition of WR Emmanuel Sanders. QB Jimmy Garoppolo believes the addition of Sanders could take some pressure off of Kittle, who opposing defenses have keyed on. 'Yeah, it'll be interesting to see how defenses line up,' Garoppolo said Wednesday, Oct. 23. 'If they change anything, tilt the safeties toward him, whatever it is. Yeah, we'll have to adjust during the game and see how that goes.'
Fantasy Spin: Kittle's production isn't expected to take a hit with the addition of Sanders as the team's No. 1 wideout. In fact, there might be fewer double teams on the star tight end, if Sanders can stay healthy and be the type of receiver he was in Denver.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is excited about the addition of WR Emmanuel Sanders, and he said he is willing to help get the receiver up to speed quickly. 'I'll do my best to, but receiver-quarterback is a little bit different in what you have to learn, specifics and that nature,' Garoppolo said Wednesday, Oct. 23. 'But yeah, anything I can do to help him. I'm going to put in the extra time with him, whatever it takes, really.'
Fantasy Spin: The addition of Sanders gives the team an NFL-caliber No. 1 receiver, something they have honestly been lacking, with perhaps a bunch of secondary or tertiary options trying to fill the role. George Kittle is the team's leading receiver in catches and yardage by a wide margin. The addition of Sanders is great for the fantasy appeal of Garoppolo, although he still remains more of a QB2 in most fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams.
New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas is on the verge of being streamable this week against the Lions. The former Pro Bowler hasn't had much success this year and has yet to make more than one field goal in a game all season. However, he's in a good matchup. The Giants figure to move the ball against a banged-up Lions Defense, and they will need to push the tempo to keep up with quarterbackMatthew Stafford and the Lions offense. Rosas still isn't a recommended option, but he can be considered in deep leagues.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal has seen his stock consistently grow over the past few weeks. He's still not a player that you can have a ton of confidence in starting, but he does have some flex consideration this week. His size allows him to be a mismatch against most corners, and the Denver Broncos don't have a guy that can match up with him consistently in that regard if cornerback Chris Harris Jr. shadows wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. If you're missing wideouts due to injuries or bye weeks, Pascal gives you upside thanks to his touchdown production and big-play ability.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett went off on the Houston Texans in Week 7. In Week 8, his matchup gets more difficult against the Denver Broncos. Through seven games, Denver has yet to allow a player to clear 300 passing yards, and no quarterback has thrown for more than two touchdowns against them. The Colts have a lot of pieces on offense, especially with the emergence of wide receiver Zach Pascal, but expectations for Brissett should be tempered this week. He's still a starter in two-quarterback leagues, but you have better options at QB in standard formats.