Sat Nov 9 2:48pm ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
Six teams are on a bye this week: New England, Philadelphia, Houston, Denver, Washington and Jacksonville. Some premier fantasy will be missing in lineups, who can you replace them with?
The Colts get the gimme game with the Dolphins coming to town, but T.Y. Hilton is out and Jacoby Brissett looks doubtful. Their defense remains a good play. The other matchup of bad teams meet in the battle of New York with the Giants playing the Jets. There is very little to get excited about there.
There are two matchups where a lot of offense is predicted, so playing the guys on these four teams makes sense: Arizona at Tampa Bay, and Atlanta at New Orleans. Not far behind will be Kansas City at Tennessee, and Minnesota at Dallas.
In one of the better good versus bad team matchups, Baltimore plays Cincinnati. This should be a very one sided game.
Three Bengals have one of the worst defenses in the NFL against both the pass and rush, so Cincinnati has no chance to stop the potent Ravens offense. Lamar Jackson should have a big day both rushing and passing. And the other Ravens players should put up big numbers - Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. Play them all!
Quarterbacks: Kyler Murray and the Cardinals travel to Tampa. The prize the Cardinals get is the Bucs defense. Their secondary is in shambles, having allowed 300-passing yards and two touchdowns the last six games. The rookie quarterback has a great chance to have one of his best days as a pro in this one. And on the other side of the ball, Jameis Winston could put the ball up 40 times playing catch up. You can safely play both quarterbacks. Arizona is really bad defending against tight ends. Could this be the day everyone has been waiting for from O.J. Howard? I say no. Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians doesn’t make up plays that go to tight ends, and I doubt he’ll start against his former team.
Drew Brees gets an easy game against a pitiful Falcons defense at home in what should another very one-sided game.
My sleeper quarterback pick is whoever starts for the Colts at home against Miami. I think Brian Hoyer might have better day than banged up Jacoby Brissett, and I don’t think the Colts need him to dispose of the Dolphins. It’d be smarter to give home the week off to heal. If Hoyer starts, he makes a great DFS play.
Running Backs: David Montgomery has averaged 110 yards his last two games, and the way Mitch Trubisky has been playing, the key to victory for the Bears is to run him early and often against the Lions. You can expect the big five - Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook - to all have the games you’d expect this week.
Devin Singletary has taken over the lead running back role in Buffalo, and he should have a really good day against a Cleveland rushing defense that is giving up over 120 yards per game.
And the Colts are playing the Dolphins, so the Marlon Mack express should be chugging along.
Wide Receivers: Look at the quarterbacks above. The question is what receivers will they be throwing to? I think Murray’s top receiver will be veteran Larry Fitzgerald, but Christian Kirk will have a good day, also. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both top the century mark. On the other side when James isn’t throwing to Arizona cornerbacks, I look for Chris Godwin to out-catch Mike Evans this week. The main reason is because Winston might want to stay away from Patrick Peterson, who likely shadows Evans.
The most consistent wide receiver this year has been Michael Thomas, and he’ll be Drew Brees’s favorite target this week. To go with my sleeper pick with the Colts at quarterback, Zach Pascal will be on the receiving end for which ever quarterback plays.
Tight Ends: Travis Kelce should have a good day against a questionable middle linebacker group in Tennessee, especially if Patrick Mahomes does indeed play. And if George Kittle is healed enough to play for the 49ers against the Seahawks Monday night, it’s a great matchup for him, but right now he looks really risky. My top pick this week is Atlanta’s Austin Hooper, especially if Matt Ryan is back at quarterback. New Orleans has allowed the sixth most yards per catch to tight ends this year.
Defenses: The obvious three are Indianapolis (vs. Miami), Baltimore (vs. Cincinnati) and New Orleans (vs. Atlanta). The Bears at home against the Lions are a good call, too. Look for them to get a pick six.
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.
The New York Jets re-signed backup quarterback David Fales to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday, according to a source. Fales was Sam Darnold's backup for most of last season and will continue to fill that role after playing for head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in both Chicago and Miami. Since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the Bears, the 29-year-old has played in parts of just five games and has never started a game. He'll continue to hold the clipboard for Darnold in New York and will have zero fantasy appeal.
Washington Redskins three-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Scherff is signing his $15-plus million franchise tender on Tuesday, according to a source. If there is a training camp, he will be required to be there. Scherff, 28, has missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries -- 19 games played over that span -- but he is one of the better offensive guards in the NFL when he's on the field. Locking him up long-term is next on the agenda for Washington, and his services will be needed on the offensive line with young quarterback Dwayne Haskins under center.
Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said that general manager Tom Telesco, head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive backs coach Ron Milus told him that he will be playing the slot in 2020. "That was the main thing that they brought to me," Harris said. The 30-year-old was asked to cover the opponent's best receiver in his final year in Denver, and he notably struggled after making the Pro Bowl four times (All-Pro in 2016) since 2014. There's no denying that Harris is the most comfortable in the slot, and he could rebound in an all-around sold Chargers Defense in his first season with the Bolts. How Harris' presence affects Desmond King remains to be seen, but this secondary might be one of the best in the NFL on paper.
The future of kicker Adam Vinatieri remains unknown, according to Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. Vinatieri has not made a decision on whether he wants to return to kick for a 25th season in the NFL. The 47-year-old future Hall of Famer has been rehabbing his knee following season-ending surgery last year, and the Colts are waiting for his rehab to progress before making a decision on whether they want to re-sign him. The Colts already have Chase McLaughlin on roster, so it will be a tough decision if Vinatieri wants to come back and kick, especially since he wasn't performing up to his standards before he was placed on Injured Reserve. He missed 14 kicks -- eight field goals and six extra points. If Vinatieri returns to the Colts or another team, he won't be worth drafting in most standard fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell said that general manager Steve Keim has had talks with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins about his contract. Hopkins was unhappy with his contract in Houston, which is one of the reasons he was dealt to Arizona for pennies on the dollar. The All-Pro wideout will be a bargain at his current salaries for the next three seasons, but the two sides might negotiate something and reach a middle ground eventually. Money aside, the Cardinals got one of the best receivers in the game, and he should make quarterback Kyler Murray even more desirable in fantasy in 2020 and beyond. Hopkins makes a case to be the first receiver off the board in fantasy drafts.
The Seattle Seahawks released tight end Ed Dickson on Tuesday, according to a source. Dickson was due $3 million in 2020, and the Seahawks will save most of that money with his release. The 32-year-old veteran played in just 10 games (one start) in his only season in Seattle, catching 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He has had trouble staying healthy in recent seasons and will be, at best, a depth option for another team on the open market. Dickson's release was expected after the team signed Greg Olsen in free agency. They also have Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister returning.
Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has interest in joining the Seattle Seahawks, according to a source close to Griffen. The Seahawks could also be interested in Griffen if they don't re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, who is asking for close to $20 million a season. Clowney will likely have to sign with another team before Griffen signs, so it might be a while. The 32-year-old Griffen is on the wrong side of 30, but he has had at least eight sacks in five of the last six seasons with the Vikings and has been to the Pro Bowl four times since 2015. He'd be a great fallback option for Seattle if they don't want to meet Clowney's asking price. Griffen is older, but he's also shown more durability than Clowney.
The Houston Texans are in active contract talks with Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. Houston has offered Tunsil $18.5 million per season, but Tunsil's counter-offer is "significantly higher." After the Texans traded two first-round picks and a second-rounder for Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills last year, Tunsil is fully expected to become the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. He's under contract for $10.35 million in 2020 and is seeking a deal that averages more than $20 million per season. The good news is the Texans have around $35 million in salary cap space, which is the second-most in the league behind the Browns. Having Tunsil around long-term will be great news for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The Cincinnati Bengals released cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on Tuesday. The Bengals went all out to improve their defense in free agency, so Kirkpatrick is being shown the door. The 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Kirkpatrick should still see significant interest late in free agency now that he's available. The 30-year-old hasn't played in a full season since 2015 and started just six games in 2019 due to injuries. He recorded one sack, 33 tackles (27 solo), four passes defensed and one fumble recovery. In the right situation, Kirkpatrick could be an effective veteran presence for another team's secondary.
The Cleveland Browns are likely to have free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen on their radar given his connection with the Browns coaches from their time together in Minnesota. Griffen is 32 years old but had 13, 5.5 and eight sacks in the last three seasons with the Vikings and can still be effective on the wrong side of 30. If the Browns sign him for one or two years, they could cut defensive end Olivier Vernon and save $5 million against the salary cap. Griffen would be a nice complement to Myles Garrett on the defensive line as the Browns look to boost their pass rush heading into the 2020 season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have heard from multiple interested teams about a potential trade for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is turning 25 years old on Tuesday. The Jaguars place a lot of value in the pass-rusher and won't just give him away for a little return. But the former third-round pick in 2016 was unhappy with receiving the franchise tag and isn't interested in a long-term extension with the team. He'll be a prime IDP target no matter where he's playing in 2020 after recording 37.5 sacks in his four seasons in the NFL. Last year he had eight sacks, 41 tackles (36 solo), 13 tackles for loss, 15 QB hits, an interception returned for a touchdown, six passes defensed, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 15 games.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who is training this offseason with free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, thinks he can make a lot of noise with the Bolts if he's given the chance to be the team's starter under center. Things could change, but as of now, Taylor is at the top of LA's QB depth chart. The 30-year-old former sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2011 has one year left on his deal and will make a base salary of $5 million in 2020. The Chargers are moving forward with Taylor, but they haven't given him any assurances of a starting job, and they could very likely take a QB with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Taylor has a strong arm and is mobile, so he could do some damage with the weapons the Chargers have around him, but he'll primarily be a QB2 for fantasy owners with upside for more if he's handed the starting gig.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said that the team doesn't think quarterback Tom Brady's skills have diminished or that he'll have any trouble playing in head coach Bruce Arians' vertical passing scheme. "Well, the tape to us showed that he had plenty of arm," Licht said. "We felt that he had the ideal arm for Bruce and his system. He can still throw it deep." The GM also said that they think Brady could play for them for over two years. No. 12 had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2019, but in all fairness to him, he didn't have much to work with in the passing game outside of Julian Edelman. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his new top receivers, Brady has a real chance to bounce back, even at his age. However, don't just assume he'll return to his glory days either. He'll be a great fantasy backup with the chance for some nice QB1 games along the way.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to draft a running back this year with James Conner headed into his contract season. The Athletic's Ed Bouchette doesn't think that the Steelers will give Conner a new deal before the start of the 2020 season, so he'll have to prove his worth and stay healthy to remain with the organization beyond the upcoming season. The 24-year-old has RB1 potential when he's on the field, but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy consistently since he took over the lead-back role from Le'Veon Bell. Conner played in just 10 games in 2019, rushing 116 times for 464 yards (career-low 4.0 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He could bounce back with better health and a full season with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center, but fantasy owners will take more caution when drafting Conner as more of an RB2 this year.
Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick was released Tuesday, March 31.
Jacksonville Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue has had several teams inquire about landing him, but the team values him and won't give him away.
Fantasy Spin: Ngakoue had a "down" season with 41 total tackles and eight sacks. However, his six passes defended, one pick, four forced fumbles and one recovery kept him as a midrange DL1. He should be drafted as such in 2020 regardless of where he plays.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was blitzed 221 times - second-most in the league - and hurried an NFL-high 71 times in 2019.
Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie officially signed an undisclosed contract with the team Monday, March 30.
Updating previous reports, New York Giants WR Corey Coleman, DT Austin Johnson and TE Eric Tomlinson's contracts were finalized by the NFL Monday, March 30.