Fantasy Football Intelligence: Strange Days Indeed

Weeks like this one come along every season. Fantasy scores are lower than average and guys like Marvin Jones, Chase Edmonds and Jacoby Brissett light it up on someone’s bench or the waiver wire. Two of the top 5 fantasy QBs, both former MVPs, leave with potential multi-week injuries. Another former MVP QB comes in as QB19 and finishes the week re-entering the MVP discussion. This week is good for fantasy leagues because the teams that have been winning with the usual suspects are susceptible to an upset. For some it was agonizing, for others it was fun. Before we discuss going forward from week 7, here’s a classic from John Lennon.

Arizona backfield: Once he was declared active, owners were happy to get David Johnson in their lineup; he was 97% started. Three and a half hours later, Johnson had one carry and Chase Edmonds scored about 34 points for the 9% of owners who started him. Only 48% owned, managers will flock to Edmonds, chasing the stats he rolled up against a putrid Giants defense. Is he worth a claim? Probably if you have room, but don’t get too excited. Three of his next four games are @ New Orleans and two with San Francisco. It is a crowded rushing environment in Arizona with Johnson still in the picture and Kyler Murray still having plenty of designed runs. Additionally, the offensive line is still weak and there will be games where the offense can’t get untracked. Once the Cards are eliminated or in the event Johnson gets more seriously hurt, Edmonds could see a nice volume of touches. Until then, the biggest result of his emergence is the devaluation of Johnson. If you are a Johnson owner, I would see about moving him. Currently RB8, Carson and Fournette, RBs 9 and 10, both have a clear path to more touches and I would trade Johnson for either one. Not convinced yet? Reports today are that free agents RB Jay Ajayi and Spencer Ware worked out for Arizona.

Philadelphia: Coming into the year, they looked like a Super Bowl contender, but they have not looked like it on either side of the ball. Compounding the felony is that the offensive production has been spread out and difficult to predict. The next four weeks are @Buf, vs. CHI, bye and vs. NE. If you drafted Wentz, as we discussed last week, consider spot starting QBs with better matchups. If you drafted Ertz or Jeffrey, you are probably still starting them, but downgrade expectations until further notice. The backfield is hit or miss with Howard and Sanders; I would avoid both for the next month. They will have a nice run in weeks 13-15  @MIA, vs. NYG and @WAS, but the time until then is a bumpy ride.

Kerryon Johnson Injury: We don’t know how severe it is, but he was wearing a large knee brace on the sideline. Ty Johnson may be a priority add, but the Lions may also consider bringing back C.J. Anderson or signing another back if it is a multi-week injury. Expect to learn more mid-week.

Will Fuller and Adam Thielen Injuries: Both suffered hamstring injuries with Fuller’s considered more serious. If you are a Thielen owner, have a plan B for this week, but he should not be out long. See below for recommendations.

Mahomes and Ryan Injuries: Thankfully Mahomes avoided a more serious injury, but it seems he will be out at least three weeks. Less is known about Ryan, but he left in a walking boot and his team is 1-6 so there is no need to rush him back. They hope to get him practicing later this week, but it seems far from a done deal. Even if he starts, there is not much incentive to have him finish if it is out of hand. If you are shopping for a replacement, as we’ve said before, think Tinder, not eHarmony. Look for the best option for a week or two at a time. If you are in the market (or if you have Jackson or Prescott on a bye this week) consider the following for the next two weeks:

Cousins (63% owned) vs. WAS, @KC

Stafford (57%) vs. NYG, @OAK

Brissett (48%) vs. DEN, @PIT

J. Allen (77%) vs. PHI, vs. WAS

Between Mahomes and Ryan’s injuries and Prescott and Jackson’s byes, there may be competition for QBs. If you can’t land any of the above, other viable options for weeks 8 and 9 are:

Minshew (52%) vs. NYJ, vs. HOU (U.K.), Darnold (34%) @JAX, @MIA

We’re off Daniel Jones until further notice, even with a good matchup. I’m not completely off Baker Mayfield, but the next three are @NE, @DEN vs. BUF, so it may not get better for a while. Drew Brees may be back this week; he is 82% owned, but if he happens to be available, he goes to the top of the list with a matchup at home against Arizona. If he sits, Bridgewater (16% owned) is a fine play.

Week 8 and 9 Byes: We advise that you plan for your byes at least two weeks in advance if you have the flexibility because many managers don’t and you can get the player(s) you want as free agents rather than competing for them on the waiver wire. Below are recommendations for weeks 8 and 9. For recommended QB options, see above. Remember, these are not league winning replacements for your starters. They are tactical additions that could score enough points in the next couple of weeks to keep you afloat. Recommendations are based on standard scoring.

Week 8: Dallas and Baltimore

Key Starters: Prescott, Elliott, Cooper, Gallup, Jackson, Ingram, Andrews, M. Brown, Tucker

Week 9: Cincinnati, Atlanta, L.A. Rams, New Orleans

Key Starters: Mixon, Boyd, Ryan, Freeman, Jones, Ridley, Hooper, Goff, Gurley, Kupp, Woods, Cooks, Zeurlein, Rams Defense, Brees, Kamara, Thomas, Lutz, Saints Defense

Possible replacements <75% owned (These are loosely ranked; consider your individual situation for each weekly matchup):

RB:

Frank Gore (70%) vs. PHI, vs. WAS

Jamaal Williams (60%) @KC, @LAC

Ty Johnson (2%) vs. NYG, @OAK

Royce Freeman (71%) @IND, vs. CLE

The Washington RB situation will have volume, but a lot of uncertainty and bad matchups the next two weeks (@MIN and @BUF). Adrian Peterson (60%) is nursing an injury and Derrius Guice is about to return to practice. Hold off until there is more certainty.

WR

D.K. Metcalf (65%) @Atl, vs. TB

Marvin Jones (71%) vs. NYG, @OAK

Kenny Stills (13%) vs. OAK, @Jax (U.K.) (Keke Coutee also viable, but less upside than Stills)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (66%) @KC, @LAC (as long as Adams remains out)

Corey Davis (41%) vs. TB, @CAR

Dede Westbrook (72%) vs. NYJ, vs. HOU (U.K.)

Devante Parker (13%) @PIT, vs. NYJ

A.J. Brown (13%) vs. TB, @CAR

Jakobi Meyers (6%) vs. CLE, @BAL

TE

T.J. Hockenson (66%) vs. NYG, @OAK

Gerald Everett (72%) vs. CIN (U.K.) Bye

Eric Ebron (52%) vs. DEN, @PIT

Jimmy Graham (70%) @KC, @LAC

Jason Witten (70%), Bye, @NYG

Jared Cook (Currently OUT with ankle injury) (57%) vs. AZ, Bye

K

Jason Myers (68%) @ATL, vs. TB

Joey Slye (47%) @SF, vs. TEN

Robbie Gould (64%) vs. CAR, @AZ

Brett Maher (61%) Bye, @NYG

Matt Prater (53%) vs. NYG, @OAK

Dan Bailey (15%) vs. WAS, @KC

Josh Lambo (46%) vs. NYJ, vs. HOU (U.K.)

WEEK 8 Recommended Defenses (<75% owned)

Seattle (47%) @ ATL (if Ryan is out)

Indianapolis (13%) vs. DEN

Pittsburgh (47%) vs. MIA

Detroit (9%) vs. NYG

Houston (47%) vs. OAK

Tennessee (63%) vs. TB

Week 9 Recommended Defenses

Carolina (44%) vs. TEN

Indianapolis (13%) @PIT

NY Jets (9%) @MIA

Seattle (47%) vs. TB

Dallas (43%) @NYG

Cleveland (26%) @DEN

The NFL trading deadline is one week away on October 29th. While it is unlikely that there will be a flurry of activity, the rumblings are that Emmanuel Sanders may be on the move to a contender. The Patriots were interested in him when he was a free agent prior to 2015, but there are probably multiple suitors for him, Green Bay, Indianapolis, San Francisco and Seattle to name a few, who may have interest. Seattle is also in the market for a TE, so they may be less likely to play for Sanders.