this season just keeps giving us some great stories
By Martin Richardson
I feel like this week was a week of arrivals for some players when it comes to fantasy football. We had Javonte Williams finally get a touchdown in the shock win against the Chiefs. We had a Buccaneers running back reach double figures for the second week in a row against the Bills. We had Jahmyr Gibbs finally let loose on the atrocious Raiders. And we also had a potential changing of the guard in Tennessee, with Will Levis having the perfect debut for the Titans, paving the way for him to perhaps becomes the new QB1 of the Titans both for now and the future.
But as usual with the NFL, we have more catastrophic injuries to contend with and the ripple effect of those could be season defining for some. Keep an eye out for what happens this week in Minesota, as the Kirk Cousins swansong is over with a torn Achilles. In other QB news, the Rams could well be starting back up QB Brett Rypien should Matthew Stafford’s UCL sprain keep him off the field. Both of these injuries will not doubt have a massive impact on the fantasy value of breakout stars Jordan Addison and Puka Nacua, as well as Cooper Kupp, TJ Hockenson and Justin Jefferson when he returns from injury. Whilst Stafford’s injury is short term, the Vikings could well find themselves in a mess after a slow start to the season, with recently traded for Joshua Dobbs and rookie Jaren Hall on the roster.
With all this mind, you may have to look to both the waiver wire and to trade in order to compensate for those ripples that these injuries have had on your team. Let’s take a look at some moves that could help you if you’ve been hit by injuries once again.
When Tannehill got injured, I would like to think I wasn’t the only one thinking that Malik Willis would get the start on Sunday. But as news broke out in the week of Levis being named the starter, I was suddenly invested in him doing well. Perhaps it was due to the Draft Day camera pointed directly at him as others were drafted before him. Regardless, I was rooting for the rookie to do himself justice on Sunday and boy did he do that: four touchdowns, three to forgotten man DeAndre Hopkins and throwing over 230 yards. That’s some debut. He is available in over 98% of leagues and I would recommend putting in a claim to snag him if you can.
There are bye weeks for the Dolphins, Eagles, Rams and Chiefs in week 10; followed by another fourteen teams by week 14. The Titans had their bye week in week 7, so by grabbing Levis now before that mass of byes hit would be a sensible move. What also makes it a sensible move is who Levis has to play in the coming weeks: the Steelers, the Bucs, the Jags and the Panthers. Now two of those games are not easy, and I’m not talking about the NFC South teams, but if Levis can come out of those 3-1, then he has a real shot at being QB1 for the future, as well as probably helping you to a few fantasy wins along the way.
Another player who burst onto the scene this week. Even though he has been involved in every game this season, he hadn’t had a game over 30 yards, bar week 6 against the Rams, so to get nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, McBride is one to watch in the coming weeks. He has a tough game against the Browns this week, and their defence is mean, allowing the fewest points to tight ends in the league. But after that they have matchups with the Falcons, Texans, Rams and Steelers, where he could become a decent option for your fantasy team, especially against the Falcons who have let on average 15 points per game to tight ends.
However, McBride comes with a footnote of caution. Josh Dobbs was benched early this week for rookie Clayton Tune, then traded the Vikings to help their Cousins problem, paving the way for Kyler Murray to return. Now if Murray does return in week 10, that so happens to be the game against the Falcons, which could result in a massive game for both Murray and McBride. Stash him now for the that week 10 matchup.
So, a short story for you. I made a trade in my fantasy league last week. I was eyeing up this move for a few weeks the but the other team wasn’t out of contention at that point. I made my move and went for Isiah Pacheco out of his two running backs. Seemed to make sense as he hit double figures in his pervious five outings for the Chiefs, chipping in with touchdowns along the way. This week- forty yards and nothing else. Who was the other person on his team that I could have pilfered- Gus Edwards. The same Gus Edwards that in week 7 ran for over sixty yards and a touchdown, as well as catching the ball for eighty yards. The same Gus Edwards that in week 8 rushed for 80 yards and three touchdowns against the Cardinals. Meanwhile I’m sat watching Isiah Pacheco block all game as Mahomes has to sling it to get points aginst the Broncos. Somewhat annoying to say the least.
Not such a short story, but you get my point. Gus Edwards is available in 30% of leagues somehow and if you are in that 30%, go and get him. A week 13 bye helps you out massively in these coming weeks, and in that time he has the Seahawks, Browns, Bengals and Chargers, all teams that the Ravens will be looking to put away as they hit a hot streak before January football. Even if you look at Lamar Jackson’s numbers as a counter to Edwards’ rushing usage, his numbers have been less because of the effectiveness of Edwards, which has allowed Jackson to throw the ball for over 500 yards total in his last two games. Are the Ravens finally beginning to get it together as we approach the business end of the regular season? If they are, then it is in no small part to the importance of Edwards in this Ravens offence.
Mulligan of the week: THE Kansas City Chiefs
Have I mentioned that Isiah Pacheco did nothing last week for Fantasy football? Well, he wasn’t the only one. The Chiefs were totally off the boil from the first drive, punting away for a loss of 4 yards. Then they got a field goal, followed by a fumble, an interception, a field goal and another fumble all before half time. A meagre nine points on offence for an MVP candidate against a mediocre Broncos team was certainly a shock. But, if anyone can sort it out, both Mahomes and Andy Reid can. And what better place to do it than in Germany against the Miami Dolphins, who are 0-2 against Super Bowl contenders. Mahomes will want to bounce back quickly and showcase that he is an MVP candidate against a defence that will either be lights out or switched off all game. There is no middle ground with the Dolphins and the same can be said of the Chiefs this season. The below par showing last week only emphasises that they are perhaps not firing on all cylinders yet, and continue to rely on Kelce being the main. I guess we will only know on Sunday if he will be; and yes, I am basing this solely on whether or not a certain someone is doing childish handshakes with Brittany Mahomes in a VIP box.
I think they have the potential to get right on Sunday, hell it’s the Chiefs for heaven’s sake, but they will need help from other places. Rashee Rice is slowly becoming the WR1 for Mahomes, but even his numbers have yet to get to true WR1 numbers. He has got over 50 yards in his last three games and one touchdown, so to elevate himself he needs more touchdown opportunities in the coming weeks for him to come into the WR1 discussion. Some would argue he’s a bit of a risk for a FLEX position on your roster at this point of the season. But he is more likely to get more points than Kadarius Toney who has been such a disappointment for fantasy managers as well as the Chiefs. He has yet to be targeted more than six times in a game and has only had five successful receptions in two games. Which means that any defence will be able to figure out really quickly what is happening on offence. Stopping it is a very different matter though…
FANTASY HEADACHE- THE 2-5 Green Bay Packers
Ok, we get it. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers leave a pretty big legacy in Green Bay, so naturally there might be a little taste of reality. Just ask Patriots fans. But with eleven touchdowns and eight interceptions, Love has not hit the heights suggested in preseason. Six of those touchdowns came against the Bears and Falcons, which doesn’t really do him any favours if you’re looking to measure progress of success.
Looking at the numbers, he has only thrown for over 250 yards in one game, which is a valuable source of points in fantasy football, whereas Jared Goff has thrown for over 250 yards in all but three games all season. Which is where the issues arise. To continue the comparison, Goff has only one more touchdown than Love, yet has won considerably more, with records of 6-2 and 2-5 respectively. So where do the issues lie? For fantasy players, Love is just not what you need as a starting QB in fantasy football. But is isn’t all on him, other players have also not been what is expected in Green Bay.
Here is an example of exactly that. Every year Aaron Jones is someone who people rate as a locked in round two or three fantasy stalwart. But that was with Rodgers as his QB. Now Jones seems a shadow of his former self. That one huge touchdown play was his only highlight, a highlight that ended with him inuring himself and missing game time in the process.
Since that moment, he has played in only three games, and has been ineffective since the bye week with a combined fifteen carries for 64 yards and no touchdowns. I feel obliged to draw comparisons here, but all I would have to do is list players who people would have drafted a lot lower to illustrate the point (Zach Moss, Raheem Mostert, Kyren Williams etc.) that Jones just isn’t a running back that can be trusted in fantasy football at the moment.
Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs:
I think this is where I’ve gone back in time about 18 months and look at the wide receivers in Green Bay and sigh. Rodgers was desperate for talent on offence and it never came. Watson was supposed to be the solution to a Davonte Adams shaped hole at WR, but he has yet to hit any kind of form for fantasy owners to have faith in him being anything better than a bye week streamer. He has one touchdown all season and only one game where he reached nearly 100 yards and that was against the Raiders in week 5.
His injury hasn’t helped his him either and he hasn’t been the same since. This paved the way for Romeo Doubs to become the lead WR for Green Bay and Love, with twelve and thirteen targets in Watson’s absence. But even with touchdowns, Doubs is only getting short passes in the redzone and little else now that Watson is back. His early season games of 73 and 95 yards have gone, leaving fantasy owners benching him as their potential sleeper from the draft is not worth risking.
When it comes down to it, I think the Packers need a complete rethink on offence as it just isn’t working. With games against the Rams, Steelers and Chargers on the horizon, I’m not sure if I would be looking to start any of these players in fantasy lineups. The Rams are churning out results and Aaron Donald could feast on Love, as could TJ Watt for the Steelers. But, should the Packers come away with something, it would certainly be a turning point in their season, and the fantasy production of these players who have so far disappointed.
A Yorkshireman living in Lancashire, Martin is a massive NFL fan but his heart belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also a huge Fantasy Football enthusiast and spends far too long crunching the numbers! Follow him at @MRBucsFan31