The Union-Tribune is reporting that Phillip Rivers is suffering a bad case the flu. It sounds like Rivers will probably start, but he's likely not going to be 100% and he may not be able to make it through the whole game. This news is more relevant because Kansas City was one of the plays we liked this week, but with Rivers' effectiveness in question, we like this defense even more.
Rob Gronkowski made the trip with the team to Houston. Unfortunately, it's a Sunday night game so we won't actually know Gronk's availability until mid-way through the afternoon games. He's still officially questionable, but with the Patriots history of mystery, we can't be sure he will play. It's a lot of money to tie up on one player on your team, but at least you can always fall back to Scott Chandler(assuming he plays), if necessary. That might make either Gronk/Chandler in play in tournaments on DraftKings.
Jets CB Darrelle Revis still needs final clearance to play tomorrow, but the team has him listed as probable, meaning they likely expect him to play. If he does suit up, he'll be covering Dorial Green-Beckham, making the rookie lose a little appeal in all formats other than tournaments.
With Matt Schaub listed as questionable, QB Jimmy Clausen would draw the start against Seattle. While the Seahawks will be traveling to Baltimore, it's hard to be optimistic about the Ravens chances. This is a downgrade for Buck Allen and an upgrade for the Seahawks defense.
CJ Anderson didn't practice all week and it's expected to play against Oakland. That means Ronnie Hillman will draw the start and could be in for a pretty decent workload. We don't love him in cash games, but he's a decent option if you're looking to save a little money.
Bengals CB Adam Jones is doubtful to play this week against the Steelers. We fully expect this to be a high scoring game and highly recommend everyone to get a piece of both offenses.
***We will use Draft Kings as the basis of our recommended players and their corresponding salaries.
Fantistics Top 5 QBs:
1. Blake Bortles
2. Jameis Winston
3. Ryan Tannehill
4. Tyrod Taylor
5. Eli Manning
Jameis Winston (TB) - Winston plays the one defense this coming Sunday that makes winners out of all opposing QBs - the lowly New Orleans Saints - the same team that was simply obliterated by Cam Newton and Co. last week. Not only does NO have the 31st ranked pass defense in the league, it yields a league worst 31.7 points per game as well as 425.2 total yards per game! Winston really put himself on the fantasy map following his 5 TD performance against Philadelphia in Week 11, but has only thrown one TD pass in each of his last two games - which we think will change this Sunday. In just the second game of his career in Week 2 earlier this year, Winston led his Bucs to an efficient victory over NO on the road as he threw 14 of 21 for 207 yards, one TD and zero INTs while rushing for 23 yards and a TD. You could see the potential of the young QB during this game after getting waxed in the season opener against Tennessee, and he is so much further along at this point of the season. Winston has his full complement of weapons including the explosive Mike Evans, big play Vincent Jackson and a red hot Doug Martin lining up behind him, and is very moderately priced at $5,500 which will allow you to really load up your daily card at other positions.
Tyrod Taylor (BUF), Ryan Tannehill (MIA) and Blaine Gabbert (SF)
Tyrod Taylor has been on an absolute tear ever since Buffalo's disappointing loss to New England in Week 11 - throwing three TDs in each of his last two games against two quality defenses in Kansas City and Houston. This Sunday he faces the not so quality defense of Philadelphia - which is ranked 25th in the league against the pass and 31st in passing TDs allowed at 28! Only New Orleans has given up more passing TDs so far this year (35!). Taylor has actually been very underrated this year after getting off to a hot start but struggled after getting hurt and not having a healthy LeSean McCoy to lean on. He is now back to full health (along with McCoy) and has thrown for 3 TDs in four different games this year. Ryan Tannehill had a horrendous game against the Ravens last Sunday despite leading his team to victory, but he will bounce back in a huge way coming up against the worst pass defense in the league - the NY Giants. The Giants give up 321.3 passing yards per game, including 22 total receiving TDs. Tannehill was on a tremendous hot streak earlier this season as he threw for multiple TDs in five straight games and started another streak of three games before last week's defensive battle with Baltimore that saw him throw just one score. Miami has legitimate playoff aspirations so it is time for Tannehill to take that jump up in production and solidify his standing as a franchise quarterback. Blaine Gabbert is a name I never thought I would recommend anytime soon but we have to give credit where credit is due. He has provided an offensive spark to a previously moribund SF offense and so it is time to capitalize on his low price point ($5,100). Gabbert has thrown TD passes in four consecutive games and ran for a ridiculous 44-yard TD against Chicago last Sunday to help send the game into OT. In four starts, Gabbert has completed 63% of his passes and has run for 140 yards in four games which adds to his value. Another thing that will add to his value is his opponent this Sunday - the long suffering Cleveland Browns. The Browns are ranked 23rd against the pass and 29th in passing TDs allowed at 25! Gabbert has some nice weapons to throw to in Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Vance McDonald, while Shaun Draughn has impressed in relief of the injured Carlos Hyde. With the chaotic but exciting Johnny Manziel starting for the Browns, expect a lot of passes to be thrown by both sides.
Fantistics Top 5 RBs:
1. LeSean McCoy
2. Todd Gurley
3. Doug Martin
4. Matt Forte
5. Lamar Miller
LeSean McCoy (BUF) - You think McCoy has had this game circled on his calendar for a while? McCoy returns to face the team that drafted and made him a star this Sunday, and will have something special to show up his pal Chip Kelly. McCoy was shockingly traded in the offseason by Kelly in a move that made little sense then, and makes even less sense now. His original replacement Ryan Mathews has never proven to be durable in his career but the team somehow thought he would be an upgrade. The Eagles then went on to sign DeMarco Murray who is totally not a fit for the offense they run which everyone knew but thought Kelly would modify it to make it work. Not only does McCoy have the ability to be the consistent back that the Eagles are lacking, he has been on a tear in Buffalo and will now face a 27th ranked Philly run defense. He has rushed for 112 yards in three of his last five games, including two rushing TDs and one receiving TD. Head Coach Rex Ryan is the ultimate player's coach so he will see to it that McCoy gets ample opportunities to seek some revenge.
Lamar Miller (MIA) - Miller is coming off an impressive 113-yard rushing effort against a 10th ranked Baltimore run defense and will look to be even more productive against a 19th ranked NY Giants run defense that is giving up 108.8 yards per game. Miller has been a mixed bag this year, looking great in some games but disappearing in others. Since the coaching change earlier this season, Miller's involvement in the offense has increased which has led to strong numbers as he has scored five rushing TDs and two receiving TDs in eight games. He has the ability to explode at any time so his lapses are hard to explain (three different offensive coordinators this year are a part of this). His generous price point of $5,700 makes him a very attractive option for your daily card when factoring his opponent - a team that hasn't stopped anyone this year.
Thomas Rawls (SEA), TJ Yeldon (JAX) and Shaun Draughn (SF).
Thomas Rawls has played great in relief of the injured Marshawn Lynch, as has the entire Seattle offense which is on fire. Rawls has lit up his last three opponents, rushing for 209, 81 and 101 yards respectively along with four total TDs. For opposing defenses, playing Seattle is incredibly tough because Russell Wilson's ability to scramble and still pass accurately kills any defense, no matter how good they are. If you stack the box to stop the run, Wilson will kill ya, if you play the pass, his improvisational skills will kill ya, and the defense has enough playmakers to kill ya too. Rawls's opponent this week - Baltimore - is solid against the run (ranked 10th) but its offense stinks and will not be able to match Seattle's offensive assault. Because of this, Rawls will get plenty of chances and continue his string of production. TJ Yeldon faces Indianapolis this Sunday - one of only two teams that he has rushed for 100+ yards against this year. He rushed 22 times for 105 yards against Indy in Week 4 while also rushing for 115 yards against Buffalo in Week 7. Yeldon isn't leaned on as much as you would think - he hasn't received 20+ carries since Week 7 which is hard to believe because he does produce when given the opportunity. Jacksonville favors the passing game to set up the run which can be effective but Blake Bortles is a little overrated by fantasy fans - especially when it comes to consistency. Jax is coming off two winnable games that it ended up losing, so it should rediscover and emphasize the run, especially against a 24th ranked run defense. Shaun Draughn has come out of nowhere to be a consistent fantasy producer in place of the promising yet injury prone and disappointing Carlos Hyde. He will now get to the face the second worst run defense in the league - Cleveland - a team that gives up a ridiculous 136.3 yards per game (4.6 YPC average!). While his rushing yardage has consistently been in the 15 carry range, it's his receiving that is making him so viable in the daily world. Over his four starts, he has caught four, eight, five and five passes respectively. He only has one rushing TD during his four game run, but he is a big part of the Blaine Gabbert-led offense that does move the ball pretty consistently. His matchup with lowly Cleveland has pushed his price point up but even at $4,800, he is reasonable enough to load up at other places on your card.
Fantistics Top 5 WRs:
1. Odell Beckham Jr.
2. Alshon Jeffery
3. AJ Green
4. Jarvis Landry
5. Antonio Brown
Brandon Marshall (NYJ) - The red hot Marshall has caught TDs in five straight games and will next face a Tennessee pass defense that was just torched beyond recognition by Jacksonville for 322 passing yards and five TDs! Marshall has a two game streak of 100-yard games and has registered seven 100-yard games so far this season. With his game last week against a terrible NY Giants pass defense, he became the first player in NFL history to log 1,000 yards for four different teams. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marshall have an undeniable chemistry that will take advantage of a Tennessee pass defense that has yielded 25 TDs - 29th in the league. With Eric Decker drawing so much defensive attention because of his deep speed, Marshall is able to simply own defenses with his underneath route running.
Mike Evans (TB) - Evans has been very steady the last few weeks as Tampa Bay continues to impress - winning three of its last four games. Over his last four games, he has caught 22 passes for 314 yards and two TDs. He will now face a vulnerable NO defense that was just embarrassed by the Carolina Panthers last Sunday - particularly the secondary. When a defense allows 301.4 passing yards per game like NO does, opposing coaches don't attempt to reinvent the wheel. They attack the obvious weakness which all coaches have done against the Saints - evident by the league worst 35 passing TDs they have yielded so far this year. Last week's emotional loss to Carolina, along with Mark Ingram being lost for the season due to injury, might have been a watershed moment for the Saints, a team that could completely unravel against Evans and the Bucs come Sunday.
DeVante Parker (MIA), Danny Amendola (NE) and Martavis Bryant (PIT)
DeVante Parker got his first start of the season last Sunday against Baltimore and scored a TD on an incredible play which saw him easily outjump Baltimore's D to catch the ball at its highest point. That single play was all you needed to see to show why Miami drafted Parker in the first round this past April. The youngster has dealt with nagging injuries the whole year but finally appears to be completely healthy which is bad news for his opponent this Monday night - the NY Giants - the worst passing defense in the league from a yardage standpoint (321.3 yards per game!). Veteran WR Rishard Matthews's injury which allowed Parker to start last week doesn't look to be healing anytime soon as sources say Matthews will likely not play. This could be Parker's coming out party on national TV but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. Danny Amendola returned from his sprained knee to have a decent game against Philadelphia last week - catching seven passes for 62 yards and one TD. Amendola thrives in the Julian Edelman role in NE's offense and took off right where he left off after injuring himself against Buffalo several weeks ago. With Tom Brady's uncanny accuracy and Amendola's route running skills, opposing defenses are rendered helpless when trying to stop them. NE does play a formidable Houston defense on the road which is ranked 3rd in passing yardage allowed but has given up 20 receiving TDs. There really is no defense that can effectively shut down the underneath receiver role of NE so watch Amendola rack up some serious catches. Martavis Bryant has had a strong fantasy season despite missing the first four games of the season due to suspension. In seven games, he has three 100-yard games and six TDs. It helps being the deep threat of a high-octane Pittsburgh defense, especially when Ben Roethlisberger is healthy. With opposing defenses understandably so occupied with Antonio Brown, Bryant draws a lot of single coverage which he is able to exploit with his deep speed. That is why he might not rack up a lot of catches, but when he does they go for big yardage. He does play a rugged Cincinnati defense this Sunday but Pittsburgh will be very aggressive with the pass as DeAngelo Williams doesn't figure to gain much on the ground against a ninth ranked Bengals run defense.
Fantistics Top 5 TEs:
1. Delanie Walker
2. Greg Olsen
3. Tyler Eifert
4. Richard Rodgers
5. Travis Kelce
Greg Olsen (CAR) - After years of being so underappreciated in the fantasy world, Olsen has really hit his stride this year. He is coming off his third 100-yard game of the season and has scored three TDs in his last six games. Cam Newton has just been on fire which obviously benefits Olsen to no end, and will continue to against reeling Atlanta this Sunday. The Falcons cannot stop anybody these days so what do you think will happen when the hottest team in the league faces them at home? Granted, division rivals tend to play tougher against each other because they know each other so well, and Atlanta did bottle up Olsen in two games last year, but it's a different year with different dynamics. One dynamic being a red hot Carolina offense that has been unstoppable, and the second one being Atlanta's sloppy play which has resulted in five straight losses.
Zach Miller (CHI) and Scott Chandler (NE).
Zach Miller got a big boost in his value when starting TE Martellus Bennett was placed on injured reserve, leaving Miller to start in his place. After a hot streak which saw Miller catch four TDs in four weeks, he was held in check by San Francisco this past Sunday. With Bennett now out of the picture, Miller will get more looks so his production should rise accordingly. He is battling sore ribs but will face a Washington defense that is prone to big lapses as evidenced by the 22 receiving TDs it has yielded so far this year. Admittedly, Miller is a reach due to his inexperience as a starter, but his low price point of $2,700 makes him look a lot more attractive. Scott Chandler stepped in for the injured Rob Gronkowski last Sunday against Philly and immediately scored a TD along with 61 yards to boost his value. Chandler is a big target with good hands and fits in well in NE's offense, especially in the red zone. With Gronk most likely out again this Sunday against Houston, Chandler should continue to pick up the slack. No matter who NE plays and how ineffective NE's running game can be (and make no mistake about it, LeGarrette Blount can be shut down by most teams - except Indy - if game-planned against), Tom Brady and the passing game will keep chucking away which bodes well for sure handed TEs like Chandler.
Fantistics Top 5 Defenses:
New England Patriots - The Pats are understandably priced at the high end of teams ($3,500) but have a chance to really put the nation on notice that Tom Brady doesn't deserve all the headlines. NE faces a Houston team that has a QB in Brian Hoyer that can be quite skittish in big games, an inconsistent running game and one true game breaking talent in DeAndre Hopkins. NE has one of the most well-prepared and talented defenses in the league, a defense that can do wonders to an offense with so many weaknesses. Remember, it was Philly's defense and special teams that beat NE last week, not the offense. Houston's D is tough and definitely the strength of the team, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a low scoring game, but I trust Brady more than Hoyer. The Patriots ranked 2nd in the league in sacks with 36, including 10.5 by DE Chandler Jones which leads the team. DE Rob Ninkovich has 5.5, LB Jamie Collins has 4.5 and DT Jabaal Sheard has 4 so Hoyer better have his head on a swivel. CB Logan Ryan leads the team with four INTs as opposing QBs would rather not challenge NE's best corner Malcolm Butler. Houston is ranked 22nd in points per game (21.1) so it is not exactly the high-octane offense that would give NE trouble. NE will be able to sit on most receiving routes and its front seven should easily take away Alfred Blue and the running game. Unless Houston's D and ST can make plays like Philly did to NE last week, the Pats D is geared for a big outing.
Other Values: Detroit Lions - Lost in the Hail Mary madness of last Thursday's heartbreaking loss to Green Bay, the Lions played great defense the most of the way, continuing a streak of strong play. Prior to the Green Bay loss, the Lions held teams to 16 or less points for three straight weeks which caused their previously woeful defensive rankings to jump up to average. Led by pass rushing beast Ezekiel Ansah (12.5 sacks), the Lions rank 7th in the league with 33 sacks and will now get to play a St. Louis team that is struggling on offense like few others in the league. The Rams rank 31st in the league in scoring at 15.8 points per game (only the 49ers are worse) and total yardage. Embarrassingly, St. Louis has scored more than 13 points only once in its last eight games! The San Francisco 49ers have not had a good year but are coming off an upset victory on the road against Chicago and get to face a hapless Cleveland team that will be led by the returning Johnny Manziel. Manziel makes for excitement but also makes for lots of turnovers and miscues which will benefit SF. The Niners have played strong defense at home this year but not on the road, that is until its win last week and hope to continue the trend in Ohio. The Browns are so void of talent on offense, opposing defenses have real choices on how to attack them. The Niners have a price point of $2,100 which is the bottom of the barrel, but Cleveland's own ineptitude and depth issues will assist SF in having that nice fantasy performance it has lacked on the road this year. Also consider that Eric Mangini is SF's defensive coordinator, a former head coach in Cleveland who would love to stick it to his old team.
Fantistics Top 5 Kickers:
1. Josh Brown
2. Andrew Franks
3. Randy Bullock
4. Phil Dawson
5. Dan Carpenter
Josh Brown (NYG) - Although he missed a crucial FG against the NY Jets in overtime that would have extended the period, Brown was perfect on the season prior to that with 25 consecutive FGs. He will face a Miami team this coming Monday that gives up 25 points per game - ranking them 24th in the league. NY's running game may be nonexistent this year but its passing game is on fire which will allow plenty of scoring opportunities for a team that is far more talented than its record. It should also be noted that Brown has kicked four FGs in three games so far this year as well as three FGs twice and two FGs three times!
Other Values: Graham Gano (CAR), Chandler Catanzaro (AZ) and Jason Myers (JAX).
Sample Cards (each card reflects a roster at or under a basic 50K cap total) -
#1 QB Russell Wilson
RB LeSean McCoy
RB TJ Yeldon
WR Brandon Marshall
WR Danny Amendola
WR DeVante Parker
TE Tyler Eifert
FLEX Doug Martin
DST New England
#2 QB Cam Newton
RB Matt Forte
RB Shaun Draughn
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
WR Allen Robinson
WR Doug Baldwin
TE Zach Ertz
FLEX Jeremy Hill
DST San Francisco