Most of you reading this are in the Fantasy playoffs, for which I tip my hat. While each season always has its share of injuries and subplots, the 2017 campaign has been one of the most challenging years I have seen in nearly 30 years of participating in Fantasy Football, and I don’t expect the playoffs will suddenly clear the skies and offer us clarity.
One of my Fantasy keeper/dynasty leagues had to endure the loss of Odell Beckham, David Johnson, Julian Edelman and Deshaun Watson, while also suffering the near-weekly pain of Martavis (Bryant) the Unfriendly Ghost. Ponder what the hell I did to deserve this agony while I help those of you playing meaningful games this week.
Use Your Hands For Catching, Please
Raiders’ receiver Michael Crabtree returns from his one-game suspension just in time to flirt with high-end WR2 status. With Amari Cooper’s status uncertain, Crabtree should see a considerable volume of targets against a Chiefs defense allowing 1.3 touchdown passes per game to opposing receivers, a total topped only by the Cowboys (1.4). KC is also 29th in average targets allowed to wideouts (21.8), so if you own Crabtree, there’s a selfish part of you hoping Cooper is sidelined again.
Don’t look now, but there’s stability in the Patriots backfield, as Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis have emerged as a solid 1-2 punch. Burkhead has a combined 38 Fantasy points in the last two weeks, amassing four touchdowns in the process. The good times should continue for him on Monday night against a Dolphins defense ranked 27th in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing backs. Burkhead should be a good RB2 play in PPR formats, while his recent knack for finding the goal line has him flirting with backend RB1 status in standard formats.
(Yes, No, Maybe (Subtitle: Yes, Virginia, It Actually Snows in Houston)
Yes: Jason Witten caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening win over the Giants. He was neglected in last week’s win over the Redskins (one catch on five targets), yet Witten is a very good play against a New York defense that has allowed the second-highest average points per game against opposing tight ends.
No: As much as I love Zach Ertz, this is the week to avoid him. That is, provided he plays, as Ertz enters the weekend in concussion protocol. Even if he gets the OK to play, the Eagles face a Rams team that has been a black hole for opposing tight ends. Los Angeles is seventh in Fantasy points allowed per game to TEs, so even if Trey Burton gets the start in place of Ertz, he’s not the sleeper some might view him to be.
Maybe: Jets receiver Robby Anderson has been one of the hottest players in Fantasy over the past month, but he has to line up against the Broncos, who are fourth in fewest Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing wideouts. Anderson’s 16.8 yards per catch and seven touchdowns will be challenged by Denver’s lockdown corners, and how he fares will determine the fate of a fair share of playoff games and Fantasy regular season finales.
Come On, Come On, Come On And Touch (and Target) Me, Baby
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: He had 11 targets against a solid Chargers secondary last week and should be a lock for another double-digit afternoon of targets versus a Packers defense that is 29th in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing receivers. Green Bay is one of six teams allowing more than a touchdown pass per game, making Gordon a very good WR2 play.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: While he has been ill for much of the week (he missed practice on Friday), I can’t see Lewis not suiting up on Monday night. Lewis has averaged 6.6 yards per carry over his past three games and gets a potential monster matchup against the soft Miami run defense.
Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals: Joe Mixon (concussion) is out, so expect Bernard to get a huge workload against the Bears. Chicago has been near the middle of the pack when it comes to Fantasy points allowed to opposing runners, but with only Brian Hill behind him on the depth chart, Bernard should easily exceed the season-high 15 touches he recorded in last Monday’s Hell in a Cell-like match against the Steelers.
Frank Gore, RB, Colts: No one allows rushing touchdowns like the Bills, who have given up a league-high 18 scores on the ground. Gore is less of a factor in the passing game (three catches, 24 yards over the last three weeks), but I’d lean on multiple touchdowns if Indy gives him 20 touches this week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets: Yes, Denver can chill receivers, but the Broncos are Fantasy-friendly to opposing TEs, as they are 29th in average points allowed per game. Jenkins has been quiet of late with just nine targets in the last two games and while he hasn’t scored a touchdown since October 22, this is the game ASJ hits double-digit targets for just the second time this season.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Coming off a perfect 8-for-8 effort that produced 99 yards in last week’s win over the Bears, Goodwin and new tag team partner Jimmy Garoppolo should have an equally productive afternoon against a Texans defense that is tied for 27th with 23 touchdown passes allowed. Houston is also 29th in yards per catch allowed, which plays well with Goodwin’s game-altering speed.
Gimme a Sleeper!
The Giants are a mess, but Sterling Shepard gets a quality matchup against a Cowboys defense ranked 30th in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing receivers. A returning Eli Manning should have a field day, with Shepard a low-lying WR2 sitting on potential WR1-like production.