What sucks most about Fantasy Football is that it flies right by, and before we know it the season is over. For most leagues, we’re approaching the halfway mark of the Fantasy Football season. There are only two teams on bye this week: the 49ers and the Giants, if you can even still call them Giants. The only thing that has been giant about them in the past few weeks is their flop after winning three straight. Nonetheless, there are some marquee players sitting out this week because of the bye, perhaps none more important than running back Rashad Jennings. Reports suggest that the bye week could give him enough recovery time to be ready for Week 9, a huge return indeed. As usual, feel free to use some of the suggestions below if you’re battling injury or just flat out desperate.
One of the presumed strengths of the St. Louis Rams’ defense coming into this season was their ability to sack the opposing quarterback. Boy, everybody couldn’t have been more wrong, but it’s that kind of unpredictability that makes us love this game. The Rams currently have a league-worst four sacks as a team, meaning they give opposing quarterbacks all day to throw the ball, and that bodes well for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith this week. Smith is the type of player who, if given time in the pocket, is going to make good decisions and seldom turns the ball over. The Rams are also allowing the fourth-highest yards per pass attempt this season at 8.1, so they are prone to giving up big plays. Smith isn’t the guy that is going to light up the scoreboard, but he won’t hurt you either. He has the ability to make some nifty plays with his legs, and I expect an above-average performance from his this week.
Start Smith over: Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Andy Dalton
Looking Deeper: Remember last week, when I said we learned that you could start any player against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Well, unfortunately for us, the Bucs had a bye in Week 7, but they are back to help owners out in Week 8. I know Teddy Bridgewater has been anything but trustworthy in recent weeks, but in his defense, his matchups were the Lions and Bills. If you look at the one start he had against a porous defense in the Falcons, you’ll see that he wowed a lot of people. I expect this week to be something closer to that. The Bucs are allowing a league-worst 295 passing yards per game, and despite already having their bye week they have given up 15 touchdowns through the air this season. That is 15 passing touchdowns in six games, including five by JOE FLACCO . . . Let that sink in.
Remember a guy by the name of Darren McFadden? It’s been a very interesting career for the young running back, as he now finds himself in the bad graces of a lot of Fantasy owners. I am telling those owners to forgive McFadden for one last week. Since taking over the Raiders’ starting job in Week 2, McFadden has been decent at best. He’s had at least 50 total yards in each game with a rushing touchdown in two of five contests. If it makes you feel any better and you play in PPR leagues, he’s had at least four receptions in three of his last four games. The bottom line is that while they might have a young running back waiting in the wings in Latavius Murray, he’s still third on the depth chart, and McFadden has a golden matchup this week. The Cleveland Browns are allowing just over 23 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and 155.5 rushing yards per game, worst in the NFL. The icing on the cake for McFadden owners is what the Browns did just last week. They allowed Denard Robinson to run rampant for 127 yards and surrendered a rushing touchdown to both him and Storm Johnson. If McFadden lets you down in Week 8, you can officially turn your back on him forever.
Start McFadden over: Both Jets running backs, All Rams running backs, Alfred Morris, and Doug Martin
Looking Deeper: This is more for PPR formats than anything, but I know what it’s like to be desperate for running backs. Travaris Cadet will be stepping into Pierre Thomas’ role to some degree with the Saints in that we know he is going to do a lot of damage in the pass game. With Thomas (shoulder) out 2-3 weeks, New Orleans will lean on Cadet to be the pass-catching back, as both Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson don’t have that in their respective repertoires. Just last week, Cadet caught six passes for 51 yards against a stout Lions defense. At 6’1”, 210 pounds, he has a durable build that could earn him a lot of playing time when this team is trying to play catch up. The Saints get the Packers this week, so we could be headed for a bona fide shootout.
Ever since there were whispers about Jimmy Garoppolo taking Tom Brady’s job in New England, Brady has done everything he can to kill that noise. With Brady back in rare form, that bodes well for most if not all players around him. One teammate who’s seen a recent spike in production is Brandon LaFell. This big target for the Patriots has hauled in 15 receptions for 291 yards and three touchdowns since earning more offensive snaps in Week 4. This week the Pats take on the Bears, a defense allowing nearly 22 Fantasy points-per game to opposing wide receivers. Also, they’ve allowed seven touchdowns in seven games to wide receivers, a positive trend for LaFell owners. If a wide receiver is going to haul in a touchdown for the Patriots, it will more than likely be him, as Julian Edelman doesn’t get many looks in the red zone.
Start LaFell over: Brandin Cooks, Brian Quick, All Jaguars wide receivers, and Wes Welker
Looking Deeper: Obviously, if I like one team in a potential shootout, then I have to like the other. Opposing the Saints this week will be the Packers, and that bad man known as Aaron Rodgers. Usually, if Rodgers is throwing you the ball, that means you’re in good shape. Normally, we don’t see rookie wide receivers thrive right away, but one player that has is Davante Adams. He’s been impressive for the Packers, leading to a spike in targets and touchdowns in two of the past three weeks. Consistency will be an issue, as he is surely the third option in the passing game, but Rodgers likes this kid and has noted Adams’ ability to get separation. The Saints are hungry for a win in New Orleans this week, so there is little doubt these teams will be going back and forth at each other.
It’s no secret the Jets’ pass defense has been below average this season, as they’ve been torched by tight ends at times. It seems as though Scott Chandler might be touchdown-dependent, but there is a good chance he finds the end zone in this game. The Jets have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, and just about 11 Fantasy points per game to the position. With Vernon Davis and Larry Donnell on a bye this week, there might not be too many other solid options.
Start Chandler over: Coby Fleener, Tim Wright, and Jermaine Gresham
Although the Dolphins D/ST will be a top play this week against the Jaguars and, rightfully so, I think the Chiefs could be a sneaky play with rookie Austin Davis coming to town. Despite losing a lot of big names on the defensive side of the ball early in the season, the Chiefs are still getting to the quarterback. They were even able to make the Chargers cough up the ball a few times last week en route to an upset victory. The whole world got to see what the Chiefs’ defense could do at home when they manhandled the Patriots in prime time. There is still a lot of fight left in this team.
Start Chiefs D/ST over: Eagles, Cardinals, Rams, and Patriots
So, why is this column called Bye, Bye, Bye? Find out here.
Yes, I was a 90’s kid, and who doesn’t love a good old fashioned boy band?