This Season’s Least Valuable Player Is…
I hope after reading this column that you’re moving on to your Fantasy Championship. I’m in five leagues right now and still haven’t checked the scores. I rarely do on gameday but tonight, being a Dallas fan, I didn’t want my night to be ruined by seeing how much I’m winning or losing by. I’m sure that’s strange to some of you but it makes perfect sense to me. I’ll check them after submitting this column. It’s been a long season but you’re about to come to the end of it. I wish you nothing but the best of luck next week. Let’s bring this home.
Los Angeles at Seattle
The Rams may have a new coach, but the results were the same. Todd Gurley may be the leading contender for Least Valuable Player this season along with DeAndre Hopkins. The only player who can get any kind of consideration is Kenny Britt. I was less than impressed with the Hawks; just expected more out of their offense. Thomas Rawls laid an egg. It seemed the Rams’ game plan was to stop the run and force Russell Wilson to beat them. Well, he did that. Tyler Lockett had the big play but still can’t be trusted on a week to week basis. Truth is, no one in this offense can.
Miami and Jets
Matt Moore may have only completed 12 passes, but four of them went for touchdowns. No, he won’t do that every week but it’s still a good sign that the offense is not going to come to a screeching halt because Ryan Tannehill (ACL/MCL) is out. Jarvis Landry is still the wide receiver to own there, and I would expect the Dolphins to lean on the run game from here on out. The Jets are a mess. This should not come as breaking news. Bilal Powell was a pleasure to watch and should continue to be a RB2 but Matt Forte (knee) also looked healthy in limited action, and you have to wonder if they will cannibalize each other as far as Fantasy is concerned. Bryce Petty does not have an NFL arm but he does find Robbie Anderson, who could be a flex play next week.
Green Bay at Chicago
I wouldn’t get on yourself too much if you started Aaron Rodgers. It was the right play. Sure, he didn’t throw any TD passes but he should have. Davante Adams dropped two easy touchdowns and there were several other dropped passes as well. Ty Montgomery had a huge day. It makes you wonder why the Packers went away from him in the first place. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I’m not afraid to say that I was wrong about Alshon Jeffery. I didn’t expect much from him in his first game back from suspension. It wasn’t like he was lighting it up before being given a four-game vacation. Jeffery may yet still pay off for owners. Jordan Howard is a must-start game in and game out. It really is amazing the numbers he has put up with despite the passing game seemingly all on injured reserve.
Philadelphia at Baltimore
This is why Fantasy Football can be so frustrating. Unless you just didn’t have anyone else on your roster, it was hard to recommend starting Ryan Mathews. He was up against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. So what does he do Sunday? He rushes for 128 yards and a score. I’m still not starting him Thursday versus the Giants. I will start Zach Ertz, though, as he has become a PPR monster over the past month. Despite scoring 27 points, this was a pedestrian effort by the Ravens’ offense. No one truly stood out and what may even be more frustrating is that Terrance West outperformed Kenneth Dixon. You just never know which of them will be the running back you want to own in any given week.
Tennessee at Kansas City
The Titans took advantage of KC trying to play prevent to lose for what seemed like the entire second half. Derrick Henry vultured a couple of touchdowns, and I wonder if this will continue. The Titans may use Henry in short yardage situations as a way to give DeMarco Murray a break. If you survived the past two weeks (Denver, Kansas City) with Marcus Mariota and the passing game, you finally catch a break next week as they play Jacksonville. The Chiefs tried to do the same thing in the game that they did versus Oakland. Get an early lead, then sit on it. It worked versus the Raiders but not so much Sunday. Tyreek Hill is a difference maker. The Chiefs are only starting to scratch the surface of how to use him. He scored a 68-yard TD from the backfield in this one.
Detroit at Giants
The finger didn’t seem to bother Matthew Stafford all that much. He seemed to have plenty of zip on the ball. The Giants’ defense was a problem, however. Golden Tate was the only player on offense that looked to have an answer for the Giants’ defenders but in the end, it wasn’t enough. The lack of a running game was very noticeable in this one. Eli Manning played much better in this game than he did versus Dallas last week but it was also an extremely conservative game plan. It seemed that once that Giants got the lead and head coach Bob McAdoo realized that the Lions couldn’t move the ball on offense, he wasn’t going to let Eli lose the game by committing a turnover, even if that meant constant three and outs.
Indianapolis at Minnesota
There was some trepidation during the week about starting Andrew Luck and/or T.Y. Hilton in this game. Well, Luck put those worries to bed early. Hilton didn’t reach the end zone but had a good day in PPR leagues. They are both must-starts week in and week out. I wouldn’t have started Frank Gore either. I didn’t see 100 yards coming from him in this one. What happened to Minnesota in this game? Hard to understand how they could mail in a home game that had playoff ramifications for them. They couldn’t even pressure Luck, who plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Was it because the team thought that with Adrian Peterson starting again that everything would be okay? I hope not. Peterson was always going to be a rough start. That offensive line is still terrible, and with Sam Bradford doing nothing but dink and dunk, it seems that every member of the defense is within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Well, if you survived this week the good news is that the Steelers play at home next week. At Heinz Field this is a completely different offense. For some reason, Ben Roethlisberger just isn’t the same player on the road. Antonio Brown was kept in check in this game but Eli Rogers and Ladarius Green picked up the slack. If Roethlisberger can continue to spread the ball around, this offense will become more and more potent. The Bengals looked unbeatable in the first half but it all fell apart after that. Brandon Lafell was the only player worth starting but his inconsistency can be maddening for a Fantasy owner. Jeremy Hill’s yardage total wasn’t impressive but he finally reached paydirt after being given multiple chances to do so.
New Orleans at Arizona
How many Drew Brees’ owners were screaming at the TV during this game. After throwing six interceptions and zero touchdowns over the past two weeks, he lit up the Cardinals for 389 yards and four scores. This is why it’s so dangerous to get cute with your studs. Each of the Top 3 wide receivers ate in this game but none more so than Brandin Cooks. He looked unstoppable with seven receptions for 186 yards and two scores. Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that he had zero targets? It was also good to see Michael Thomas with a productive game (7-52-1) after missing the game last week. Tim Hightower, though, probably drove Mark Ingram owners crazy. Ingram had more touches and the better production, but Hightower was the one called upon to reach the end zone. Something a clearly agitated Ingram wasn’t happy about on the sideline late in the game. Carson Palmer also had a rebound game here, so if you did start him over an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, it will have paid off for you handsomely. J.J. Nelson may have technically been the new starting wide receiver after the release of Michael Floyd but it was John Brown who took the spotlight with five receptions for 81 yards and a score. It didn’t help matters any that Nelson dropped what would’ve been an easy 70-yard TD late in the game. Brown ended up scoring on that drive.
San Francisco at Atlanta
Did you know the 49ers could lose 15 straight games this season, yet not get the top overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Talk about salt in the wound. Colin Kaepernick was okay. We would’ve liked to have seen more than 17 Fantasy points, though. If not for the score, Carlos Hyde would’ve had a much bigger day. He can be an RB1 if he can stay healthy. No Julio Jones, no problem. Matt Ryan just keeps finding receivers to throw to. We all know about Taylor Gabriel by now but how about Aldrick Robinson? He had four receptions for 111 yards and a score and just looked explosive. I’d be careful automatically adding him, however. How much he is used next week will likely depend upon the health of Jones. The running game looks close to unstoppable. Pick your poison with that duo. Do you want to concentrate on Devonta Freeman? Well, then you have to worry about Tevin Coleman and vice versa. This ATL offense may very well be the best in the NFL.
New England at Denver
Well, we all knew that the way to beat the Patriots was by running right up the gut. What we didn’t know was that it would be Dion Lewis with the big game, not LeGarrette Blount. This is what makes this NE team so dangerous; just so many weapons. The defense also allowed the offense to play conservative. Tom Brady didn’t have to take chances, as Denver just couldn’t move the ball. As for Brady, it’s not a surprise that he didn’t have a good Fantasy game. Denver doesn’t have one of best passing defenses for no reason. Trevor Siemian threw for 282 yards but couldn’t lead the Broncos to a score. The Pats play a bend but don’t break defense. They will let you move the ball between the 30s but once you get in scoring position, they are going to make plays to stop you. It doesn’t help Siemian any that the running game is just non-existent. You can’t start Devontae Booker or Justin Forsett. It’s the passing game or bust.
Oakland at San Diego
Derek Carr was a popular pick to start over Brady and Brees but that didn’t work out so well. The accuracy wasn’t there and he had trouble converting in the red zone. It was also telling that in the game winning formations (when you just take a snap and kneel), he was still in the shotgun formation. That pinky is indeed still bothering him. What has happened to Amari Cooper? One catch for 28 yards, really?
Tyrell Williams left the game to undergo concussion tests but passed, so he returned. We had a Travis Benjamin sighting with a 47-yard TD, but I’m still not starting him next week. This game was a disappointment for Fantasy owners overall, as a shootout was expected. So, it’s hard to find anyone who lived up to expectations. This includes Kenneth Farrow who was nothing but a pedestrian RB.
Tampa Bay at Dallas
The Tampa offense isn’t as lethal as it once was. Teams are clamping down on Mike Evans and forcing Jameis Winston to look elsewhere for the big play. The running game, although solid, is also not forcing teams to respect it. The Bucs need someone to step up but that might not come until the offseason, when they can acquire someone to play opposite Evans. Dak Prescott was better versus the Bucs but still limited somewhat. Dallas has a very methodical offense. They rarely throw the ball down the field, especially deep down the field, outside the numbers. When they can hit the short throws to Jason Witten and Cole Beasley, the offense is dangerous, but when teams cover those routes, well, then not so much. This team will go as far as Ezekiel Elliott and that offensive line will take them. That job would be made easier if they would stop shooting themselves in the foot. They need to stop taking penalties. This offense is not built to convert long third downs.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.
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