*My sincere apologizes to our readers. I planned on having this out before the three games played on Thanksgiving, but I was in the hospital enjoying my 3rdson being born.*
For the remainder of this week’s games, here are your Start’ems, Sit’ems, and highly suggested plays or “Sleepers” in my weekly piece.
Position by position Start’em, Sit’em, and Sleeper look at fantasy Hashtag Style
Jameis Winston: It is always hard to play a QB like Winston, who has not shown the ability to be consistent just yet in his young career. With that said this is the week that Winston builds off his most recent impressive performance. Last week Winston and the Bucs torched the Eagles for 5 TD passes, 65.5% completion rate, no picks, and 246 yards. This week the Bucs travel to play the putrid Colts that are struggling to stay afloat in the sad excuse for a division this year in the AFC South. The Colts do have one weapon in their pass defense with Vontae Davis being able to hang with most teams #1 WO one on one. But with Vincent Jackson back from injury, and Mike Evans taking clear command over the #1 WO spot on the team, Winston is not lacking for legitimate targets in his passing game at this time. Winston shouldn’t have a problem surpassing his yardage output from last week and tossing at least 2 TD passes this week.
Josh McCown: The QB carousel in Cleveland doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. With that said, when he has been healthy and in the game, McCownhas actually played well this season, tossing 2 or more TD passes in 5 of his 7 games. Playing the Ravens this week that are all but done for the year and could be playing for the #1 overall pick, this could be the perfect week to play McCown and get great value for doing so. The Ravens have struggled to stop opposing teams passing games, and with the loss of their top WO, RB, and now their starting QB, expect the Ravens offense to struggle mightily even against a porous Browns defense, giving McCown more opportunities with the ball to make plays in the passing game.
Tom Brady: Several writers and sports prognosticators that I highly respect have said for years, “Never, under any circumstance do you bet against Tom Brady, as long as Tom Brady is healthy.” I am going against this very people and saying it is time to put Brady on the bench for a week. Missing Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, and Danny Amendola, there comes a point where it doesn’t really matter how good you are as a player when your support staff is nothing more than other teams practice squad players (Example: Aaron Rodgers this year). As the Bills were able to show last week that if you can keep Gronk tied up for most of the game and get good coverage on Brady’s receivers, he is going to struggle and not be his usual self production wise. Facing the league’s top ranked defense that can stop the run, cover with the best of them, and confuse even some of the best QBs in the game in Denver, expect Brady to struggle this week and put him on your bench.
Alex Smith: Yes, the Chiefs are riding an impressive four game winning streak, as they host conference and wild card contender the Buffalo Bills this week, do not expect Smith to have a lot of success when the Bills defense continue where they left off playing an impressive and dominate game against Tom Brady and the Patriots last week. Smith is well known as a game manager, and rarely throws the ball more than 10 yards down field at any time. Smith is very good at not turning the ball over, and that may continue this week, but the Bills will get after Smith and rush him into throws he isn’t going to want to make and disrupt the timing of his ever favorite screen game. It also appears that Smith’s favorite target Travis Kelce may not play in this game due to an ankle injury, making Smith even more vulnerable to be swallowed up by the Bills outstanding blitz and coverage packages.
Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Doug Martin: Last week Martin gashed what was thought to be a good Eagles rush defense for 235 yards at a clip of 8.7 YPC. This week Martin faces a weaker Colts defense against the run and there is no reason to believe that he won’t continue down his productive resurgence this point in the year while his team is making a legitimate push for a playoff wild card. Martin should walk through this defense for no less than 100+ yards and score his first TD since 10/11/2015.
Javorius Allen: With the unfortunate departure due to a significant arm injury to Justin Forsett, Allen stepped in last week and played well enough to get the starting RB position for the Ravens. Facing the Browns and their terrible rush defense this week and playing Matt Schaub at QB with very few passing game weapons, expect to see Allen to get feed the ball early and often to give the Ravens any semblance of a chance at staying in this game, let alone winning it. Allen does well carrying the ball and is decent at catching the ball out of the backfield as well, so do not be surprised to see him on the ball for the majority of the Ravens offensive plays.
Entire Giants Backfield: I have made this suggestion once before and I am making it again as the trend has continued in recent weeks. OC Ben McAdoo has truly embraced the, “Running back by committee” mantra, and has stuck with it, even to a fault. There were many that believed that Vereen would show some significant value as a PPR back but as McAdoo has done all season, even if he has a hot hand to ride, he doesn’t. Minus one of these backs breaking off a large play for big yards and a TD, none of these backs are worth playing.
LeGarrette Blount: The Pats offense may be in deep trouble this week as they will struggle to find any semblance of a passing game which they use to set up with run. With that said, Blount will not have much luck running against this 9th DVOA ranked rush defense. The Broncos love to blitz early and often and that isn’t just to get after the QB, they will also blitz to stop the run and that will happen this week. DC Wade Philips doesn’t get enough credit for his skills as a DC which may be a result of his poor performance as a HC, but nonetheless he is a great defensive mind and with the Pats missing so many weapons, he has the ability to pin his defense’s ears back and go after the running and passing game. Sorry Blount, this isn’t your week to shine.
Giovanni Bernard, Frank Gore, Matt Jones
Antonio Brown: This man is on an absolute tear, and when Big Ben is back taking the snaps, it doesn’t matter who is covering Brown he gets him the ball. Even with facing the Seahawks and their Legion of Poo (Yeah, they have really struggled against good QBs this year and aren’t as good as they were), Brown and Bryant are going to give Richard Sherman and Co fits and Brown will get his catches and yards as he always does when the Big Ben to Brown combination is there. Bump him, hold him, double him, Ben is going to get him the ball and it’s as simple as that.
DeAndre Hopkins: I have to atone for my major mistake of telling everyone to sit him last week. After the display Hopkins put on against Revis, I do not think it is speaking to early or too much by saying Hopkins maybe the best WO in the game right now. Having played with three different QBs this year Hopkins doesn’t seem to skip a beat and is doing so while being shadowed by some of the best in the game, and even doubled with the #1 CB with safety help over the top and still dominating week in and week out. The Saints are everyone’s whipping boy in the passing game this year, and Hoyer and Hopkins will exploit this weakness early and often.
Jeremy Maclin: Maclin’s performance this year has been very up and down all season long. A lot of this could be due to Smith’s inability to push the ball down field where Maclin excels in the passing game. That issue aside, there still stands another problem this week that will limit Maclin’s production and that is the Bills DBs. The Bills have arguably the best cover corner tandems in the league and between the two of them have more pass break ups than any other tandem in the league and it isn’t close. Gilmore is well on his way to becoming and finally recognized as an elite cover corner in the league and rookie Ronald Darby is right in the early mix to be considered the NFL’s DROY. Maclin will have trouble getting off the line with these two monsters, let alone open on a consistent basis.
Travis Benjamin: Another product of what QB is playing determines another player’s success. Benjamin has put up some impressive games this year, but almost all of them have come when Johnny Manziel is his QB, not McCown. McCown loves to throw to Gary Barnidge and does a better job of exploiting match-ups at the line than Manziel does, and doesn’t have to rely as much on chemistry or throw and pray like Mazieldid/does. Sit Benjamin for plenty of other options out there.
Sleepers: Stefan Diggs, Allen Robinson, Eric Decker
Gary Barnidge: With his favorite QB back under center, Barnidge’s surprise rise to stardom this season can continue this week. Yes, the Ravens actually play TEs very well in the passing game with players like CJ Mosley covering them, but Barnidge has proven all season that even with great coverage LBs or throwing a safety his way, he will still get his catches and often TDs when McCown is his QB.
Jordan Reed: Reed is having a great year this season when healthy and still remains Cousins’ favorite target in the passing game. Facing the Giants this week that love to make games into shoot-outs and aren’t very well equipped to stop another teams passing attack, play Reed with confidence knowing that the Redskins will likely be playing in a fast paced high scoring game (hopefully as long as Cousins’ doesn’t throw 4 picks), and likely from behind, Reed will get a lot of targets, yards, and a TD or two this week to help keep his team in this game and in the NFC East race.
Jacob Tamme: Prior to last week’s performance against the Colts, Tamme was starting to really pick up his production and develop a much needed QB to TE connection in ATL. Unfortunately that connection will again be lost this week as the Falcons will face off against a young but very impressive Vikings defense. LB Anthony Barr and Co are outstanding against the run and do very well in coverage as well. With their speed and skill Tamme will not only see a bad week in his personal numbers, but he may have to stay in a block more often than he’d like to slow that Vikings pass rush.
Vernon Davis: After the switch from Manning to Osweiler, Davis’s numbers saw a substantial jump (6 for 68), but with facing the Pats this week, I do not see Davis having a big game. The Pats are underrated as a pass defense, and even though they do not have the most talented group of LBs in the game they do have two solid safeties, one of which is not just good but great in coverage for a safety. Davis has lost a step, but does still have great size, agility, and route running ability, but none of that will matter this week as the Pats will shut him down and force the 2nd start QB to have to beat them using his WO’s.
Sleepers: Gilmore Crockett, Julius Thomas, Tyler Eifert
Buffalo Bills: Short, sweet, and to the point; the Bills even with missing 3 of the Williams’ have finally come to a happy medium of what they want to be and what Rex wants them to be and has been progressively better and better as the season has gone on. Facing a game manager with banged up tools, the Bills will flat out get after this week and shut down this Chiefs offense.
Arizona Cardinals: Even with a banged up Patrick Peterson, this is still one of the best and most imposing defenses in the NFL, and when you face the 49ers, you don’t really have to be great to get the job done. The Cardinals will have no problems giving Blaine Gabberteverything he can handle and then some. This won’t be a close game barring a complete collapse by the Cardinals offense, and the defense will be a big reason why.
Tennessee Titans: A young and impressive passing offense is coming to town this week Titans, and well you’re not up for the challenge! This defense is getting better and will in a year or two be good, they aren’t right now and Derek Carr gets back on track after a poor showing last week. Until they prove otherwise the Titans defense will remain a punch line. Holding down the Jags offense isn’t proving anything yet, and they still have a way to go. Carr will prove that this week.
New Orleans: Even with the firing of Rob Ryan this defense isn’t getting better overnight. It is still the same players, playing the same scheme for now, and their big money acquisitions haven’t done much to make anyone think that they can turn this defense around. Houston is no offensive powerhouse, but they will put up points against this sad excuse of a defense for the Saints.
Sleepers: Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, NY Jets