I hate the Thursday games. Really, really hate them. I think they’re bad for fans and bad for the sport. I mean have we really seen a good game in any of them this year? One, if not both teams have been horrible in all of them and this week was no exception. Its wreaked havoc on many a fantasy player this year for sure, myself included. Aside from Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis what player helped you? If AJ Green doesn’t score his week kills you. Gresham was mediocre and that’s it. Dalton was bad, Brown was worse and the Philly receivers left you high and dry. I didn’t have any better options though (I own Gresham and Brown) and I’d be willing to wager you didn’t either. So, now we are all in a big whole and looking for some great plays on Sunday to recover. Or maybe you did avoid them, but you still need help this week. Let’s see what we can find on the wire.
Russell Wilson was on my list last week and you’d think in a game the Seahawks won 58-0 he’d have been great, but no. Seattle was up 31-0 at the half and Wilson’s day was done. Fourteen of those points came from the defense (if you had Seattle’s D congrats on making it to the next round, if you need a D look at whoever is facing Arizona) so he really only had a hand in 17 points, and that hand was mostly used to give the ball to Lynch. This week in Buffalo (Toronto actually) I think Wilson should be better. The Bills’ defense hasn’t impressed much this year and though they have been getting better. I’d be willing to wager they load up to stop Lynch and give Wilson the opportunity to beat them thru the air. I wouldn’t count out some good rushing numbers for the highly mobile rookie signal caller either.
I still like Carson Palmer as well. I’m actually considering starting him over Matt Ryan because the Raiders are facing the Chiefs this week. If Roddy White is out (he’s a game time decision as of this morning) I will definitely make the switch. The Chiefs are bad. Even if their defense plays a respectable game their offense is anemic and Oakland should have the ball plenty, giving Palmer ample opportunity to score. Next week the Raiders are at Carolina, who is also very bad against the pass giving him a decent chance to be a stud in your final game. If you play in to week 17, he gets a weak Charger defense then too.
Brandon Weeden has not been spectacular, but he has played well. He’s put up good numbers against bad teams, but it will really depend on if he throws a touchdown or two. The Browns have a great match up this week at home against Washington, so I wouldn’t hesitate to use him if you are searching for a starter.
If you’re desperate I might give Sam Bradford a shot. Strictly based on match up, the Vikings defense hasn’t been good against the pass this year and Bradford has been consistent, if mediocre.
For the even more desperate, perhaps look at Colin Kaepernick. I like Kaepernick, but I don’t know what to do with the match up against the high flying Patriots. Their defense isn’t good, but can you really trust Kaepernick if the 9ers are forced in to a shoot out with Brady? He could have a really nice game, or he could crumble under the pressure. New England did give up a good game to Fitzpatrick a few weeks ago, at least as far as fantasy points go. Andrew Luck had a decent game, and even Mark Sanchez threw for 300 yards against them. Kaepernick also has one of the best defenses in the league on his side, but we have seen a few chinks in their armor this season as well. Actually the more I think about it, the less desperate I think you need to be to consider him. I’d put him third on this list, behind Palmer and Wilson.
If Knowshon Moreno is still out there (and he is in about 25% of leagues) he needs to be owner by you this week. Even if you don’t need a running back I’m sure there is someone on your bench you really wont ever use, drop him and get Moreno. You don’t even have to play him, just keep him from being played against you. Last week I picked up Montell Owens with out any plan to start him. I was one spot higher on the waiver list than my opponent last week who needed him and would have started him. I would have lost if he had. Owens is another back I’d look at. He is the guy in Jacksonville, for now, and a starters level of work makes him useful again this week if you’re looking for a back. His match up isn’t great against a good Dolphin run defense, but he is the guy and that has to count for something this late in the season.
Joique Bell continues to do a lot with a little. Bell is only seeing around 10 touches a game, but especially in PPR leagues, he’s turning them in to double digit points. Bell has broken the 10 point mark in PPR in all of the Lions last 3 games.
Rookie David Wilson exploded with over 300 all purpose yards (lucky for you if you get special team yards, most don’t) and 3 scores last week. He’s making a very strong case for more work. Bradshaw is struggling with a knee injury this week and is 50/50 for this weeks game against a poor Atlanta defense. Even if Wilson had to play the backup roll I’d like him, with a good chance he gets more work, maybe even a half or more as “the guy” I don’t see how you can pass on him.
Vick Ballard looks like he has outlasted his competition now that Donald Brown has gone on IR and Delone Carter is out for a few weeks. Reports from Indianapolis say that Ballard will get as many touches as he can handle this week against Houston. The match up is not favorable at all as only two teams have rushed for over 100 yard against the Texans, but if you’re looking on the wire for a starting back there’s not much else out there and he will get the work. If you can get past this week he has a much better match up against the Chiefs next week.
Another one of those guys that appears to be out there in way more leagues than he should be is Josh Gordon of the Browns. The guy has been absolutely great value this year. He has put up good, if not great numbers, especially in PPR leagues most of the season. This week Cleveland hosts the Redskins and their porous pass defense. I already mentioned Weedon and I can’t like him with out liking the guy he throws to. Gordon has 14 catches on 20 targets in the Browns last 2 games, and with his speed and athleticism he could easily take any of those to house and break open a big game for his fantasy owners (please dear God let it be this week!).
I have to say I think the pickings at receiver are a little thin this week. Consider guys like T.Y. Hilton, Justin Blackmon,and Chris Givens. All of these guys have shown big upside potential recently, but all have competition for targets. Hilton has Donnie Avery (another guy to consider if you can get him) and a bad match up in Houston this week, but he has shown he can do a lot with a little. Sometimes he gets a lot and does even more. Maybe he draws the 3rd corner on the Texans and makes the most of it. Blackmon has Cecil Shorts potentially returning, and even if he doesn’t there is Chad Henne under center holding him back a bit. Chris Givens was held largely in check by the Bills last week, and Danny Amendola may return this week, but he has shown big play skill and the Rams have given him shots to capitalize on it. Sometimes he comes thru, sometimes he doesn’t. I’d rank them in the order I listed them, but insert Avery between Blackmon and Givens, though I don’t think he has the big play potential of the other 3.
Keep an eye on the situation with Dez Bryant leading up to the Cowboys kick off. If he can’t go, look at Kevin Ogletree. He flashed big time in week 1 when given the chance, and if he gets another shot he could surprise although the match up against Pittsburgh isn’t great.
The tight end position has been very strange this year. Guys have emerged and been solid for weeks at a time only to then vanish for weeks at a time as well. Witness: Kyle Rudolph. He started the season with excellent numbers in 5-out-of-6 then posted zeros then posted 3 zeros in a row. Now that the Vikings are without Percy Harvin for the season he has returned (not sure what happened last week against the Bears, other than Adrian Peterson). This week Rudolph gets a good chance to help his owners against a Rams team that is in the bottom half of the league against tight ends.
Witness: Martellus Bennett. Started the season with 3 great games making him the best pickup early on, only to disappear in week 4 and never return. Until two weeks ago. The resurgence of Eli Manning has led to a return of Bennett as well. This week the Giants face a very bad Atlanta team. We know the Giants can get hot at the end of the season, and Bennett will be key if they are going to do it again in 2012.
Witness: Dennis Pitta. Three good games to start the season and then nothing to shout about until week 10, but he’s still been hot or miss since then. His pattern since week 10 has been 1 good game followed by 1 bad game which would put him in line for a bad game this week against the Broncos. However, the Broncos have struggled against the tight end all season and the Ravens have played much better at home. If Flacco is going to be good at home this week as he has been most of the season he will need Pitta to step up, because the Broncos have very good corners to take away Bolden and Smith and an excellent run defense. Pitta may be his only option.
Whoever is playing Arizona. Last week the Seahawks scored 41 points on 8 turnovers, 3 sacks and 2 defensive scores. This week’s lucky winner is: the Detroit Lions.
The Bengals would have been great. Sorry that one is a little late at this point.
If Cutler doesn’t play for the Bears this week, I think you have to like the Packers. That’s a big if though.
I don’t think you can go wrong picking on the Chiefs, though Jamaal Charles will do something, it won’t be enough to hurt you. This week the Raiders get the Chiefs.
If those are all taken, try the Dolphins at home. This week they get the Jaguars and Chad Henne. Miami is familiar with Henne, and if things go wrong for them at the running back position (they’re on their 3rd guy so to an extent it already has) you or I might be getting a phone call before Sunday.
I don’t usually do kickers because I don’t think they are predictable for week to week, but several are injured and you might be looking for one. I’d look at Phil Dawson in Cleveland or Adam Vinatieri in Indianapolis. Dawson and Browns should score plenty of points against the Redskins, but I’m counting on the rookie led offense (not just at QB, but running back and receiver as well) to stall a time or two and give Dawson and chance to kick a few. On the other hand I think Vinatieri will benfit from his team being stymied by the Texans defense. He has a good leg, even if its not as bg as it used to be, and this game is in doors. I see the Texans stopping the Colts in field goal range a lot and I’m counting on Vinatieri to convert.