By Brett Malamud
Congratulations! You made it all the way to the end of the year untouched and into the finals of your fantasy football league. Let’s help you out in completing your journey to the promised land and take home that title! It all starts with making the right decisions and that’s where this week’s column of Take It To The Bank comes in handy. Let’s get to it!
There’s no reason to think that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be stopped anytime soon. While the Atlanta Falcons have had a dangerous secondary this season, they’ve been shaky over the last few weeks and that’s where Cam comes in. I’m very confident in his abilities to get it done on Sunday.
To Belichick…Or Not To Belichick?
That is the question. The New England Patriots defense has been great all year. They’ve scored 35 fantasy points over their last two games, but head to MetLife Stadium this weekend to take on the New York Jets. This might be the week for you to look elsewhere for another defense because the Jets passing game has been phenomenal between wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. I’d also bench the Jets defense, even with knowing that wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman will be sitting this game out. There’s two reasons for that. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Gurley Birds: Finals Edition
Did St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley propel you into the finals? Gurley fell to me as the 93rd overall pick before I swiped him up, setting up a fun season once he hit the field. Now, he heads into Seattle to take on the Seahawks, who haven’t allowed more than 46 rushing yards to an opposing running back during their five game win streak. Gurley is touchdown dependent for me this week, and belongs as a RB2/Flex play.
In the finals, you have to take the easy matchups when given. For me, this one is simply Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West against the Cleveland Browns. While there isn’t much explanation needed for this pick, the Browns have allowed the second most rushing yards in the entire league, and West is due for a big day. If you have West on your team, you certainly should start him in your lineup if you want any chance of winning it all.
By Brett Malamud
Let’s take a look at some names that have been active in fantasy over the last week as we head into the fantasy playoff race.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles
The quarterback who is surprisingly a great play this week. You can trust Bortles, who has remained consistent through most of the season. Obviously if you have guys like Rodgers and Newton, start them, but Bortles will help many teams on their playoff runs.
Flying with the Jets
With the fact that the tallest Titans DB stands at a measly 6-foot-1, you can bet that Eric Decker (6-foot-3) and Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4) will both have nice days. I think that the Jets receivers are a great play this week.
That’s about all I can say about Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper this week as he faces the Denver Broncos. They’ve proven that they’ve had the top defensive secondary all season. Cooper will be benched for me this week, and should be for many of you.
Richard Rodgers…One Hit Wonder?
I know that last week, Rodgers was the hero (both of them actually). But this week is different. Richard Rodgers has been invisible for most of the season, and his 61 yard catch to win the game is simply boosting his stats. I’d beware of him today, even against a weaker Dallas Cowboys defense.
By Brett Malamud
Here’s some tips as your fantasy football playoff race heats up in week 11:
The Coop Troop
Starting Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper this week will be vital to your team’s success, and I’ll even name him my Start of the Week. Cooper has been an extremely reliable option at wideout thus far, and the last few weeks are proof of that. In his last three weeks, Cooper has been targeted 31 times. This number makes it very intriguing to play him, considering the recent success of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (who should be started as well). The Detroit Lions defense have given up at least 73 yards to seven out of the nine top receivers they’ve faced this season, so Cooper is expected to have a big day.
It’s been a while since Danny Amendola was a reliable fantasy wide receiver option. You’d have to go back to his days in St. Louis to compare the hype that he’s been getting this week. Amendola will have the opportunity to return that level after the losses of pass catching running back Dion Lewis and wide receiver Julian Edelman. This obviously gives a major boost to a player like tight end Rob Gronkowski, who will certainly see an increase in targets. I’m looking at Amendola to step up though, especially after having 10 catches last week. I’d definitely play Amendola as a flex this week.
This week marks the return of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to the starting lineup. Not much to say here. He’s going to have a nice day against a struggling Miami Dolphins team.
Don’t(e) Play Donte
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief is my buyers beware player of the week this week. Of the five touchdowns that Moncrief has this week, every one has been from quarterback Andrew Luck, who is prepared to come back in mid-December. The last time that Matt Hasselback started for the Colts, Moncrief had just one catch. Plus there’s the fact that the Falcons have been great against opposing wide receivers. I’d keep Moncrief on the bench, as you probably have a better option.
By Brett Malamud
Digg for gold
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs has scored 43 fantasy points over the last three weeks, making him one of the most intriguing names on the fantasy football waiver wire. He’ll take on a St. Louis Rams defense that has a tough secondary. I’m not sure that this will be a huge outing, but Diggs should still be considered as a flex play.
Big Ben’s Back
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned from a sprained MCL injury last weekend, completed 28-of-45 passes for 262 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions Sunday against the Bengals.. Not such great numbers. I think that this week, Big Ben returns to his old self, and has a big day against an Oakland Raiders defense that has allowed the most passing yards in the league. Look for wide receiver Antonio Brown to have a huge day as well.
Same Face, New Place
Headlines were made this week as the Denver Broncos traded two sixth round picks this week to acquire two time pro bowler, tight end Vernon Davis. This had me intrigued for the main reason that quarterback Peyton Manning loves his tight ends. Let’s take a look back. Julius Thomas had 24 touchdowns from Manning in his final two seasons as a Bronco. I think that can be Davis this season, and am highly attracted by the potential that this trade has. He does have two other tight ends on the roster to compete with (Owen Daniels and Virgil Green), but there’s a reason why Denver traded for him. I say take a number and stash Davis on your bench this week.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Last week we saw many players go down with major injuries, crippling fantasy teams everywhere. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell tore his MCL and PCL, and he is done for the season. DeAngelo Williams is going to replace him, and if you were lucky enough to snag him on the waiver wire, he should be in your lineup right away. Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte suffered damage to his MCL and will be out for a few weeks. Enter Jeremy Langford. I expect him to have a big week against the Chargers on Monday Night Football.
Your Bold Prediction
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski takes on the Washington Redskins this week, who have allowed the 12th fewest yards per game to tight ends. Of course, they’ve yet to face Gronkowski and I’m predicting three touchdowns today from Gronk.
By Brett Malamud
Happy Halloween! We’ve taking the Take it to the Bank report this week and giving it a Halloween feel with today’s section: Trick or Treat! Use this section as you look to this week and beyond as you set your fantasy football lineups.
Trick: Charcandrick West
Yes, many people had Jamaal Charles in their running back slot and are looking to West to produce. Yes, West had a big game last week, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown. Yes, I did say to pick him up (and he should be picked up), but I’m not that big on him. This player is not a RB1, and I’m not sure he’s a reliable RB2 option. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge West by one big game. He’ll probably have a good game this week, but don’t expect huge numbers every week.
Treat: Gurley Owners
Gurley owners that stuck through the thick and thin are now grinning at the results. Gurley has been the league’s most productive player, especially in an offense that has become run-heavy. Continue to enjoy Gurley having big games almost every week.
Trick: The Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are an interesting story. Yes they took a heartbreaking loss to the Giants last week, letting the Giants return a kickoff for a touchdown just after tying the game. But they also found new life in running back Darren McFadden. With Joseph Randle possibly out for a few games due to violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, the Cowboys will look to McFadden, Christine Michael and Rod Smith. Flashback to a week ago when Jason Garrett planned on making Michael the starter. Yeah, so that didn’t happen, and you can look elsewhere for a better running back on your team. McFadden however is a flex play at best this weekend as the Cowboys welcome in the Seattle Seahawks, so don’t be tricked by last week’s big performance.
Treat: The New York Jets
The Jets are another interesting story. The offseason changed everything for them, bringing in cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, along with wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Many members of the New York media propelled them to Super Bowl contenders. Then the season came, and Geno Smith got punched in the jaw by his now-former teammate I.K. Enemkpali, sending the Jets predictions out the window. There was no way that Ryan Fitzpatrick could pick up the pieces right? Wrong. The Jets headed into New England last week at 4-1. They played till the final whistle and although they sit at 4-2, look at their schedule. Eight out of their remaining 10 games come against teams that are currently at or below .500 and that should be looked at closely. Fitzpatrick should be looked at if he’s still available in your leagues, and Brandon Marshall and Chris Ivory should be starting in your lineup. The defense should be starting most if not all weeks. If you want that sneaky play, look to Eric Decker, as teams are focused on stopping Brandon Marshall.
Trick: The New York Giants
While I’d like to stick the entire NFC East in the tricks section, I’m not going to do that because I’m not that mean. But I will stick the Giants in here with the Cowboys because of their fantasy impact. I understand that the team is 4-3, but with a lot of tough teams (looking at you AFC East and Carolina Panthers) coming up on their schedule, it’s not really an ideal situation. I definitely do not trust any of the Giants running backs, and other than Odell Beckham Jr., I don’t trust any of their wide receivers. I’d consider Ruben Randle in deeper leagues, but only if you don’t have other options due to the bye week. Quarterback Eli Manning certainly cannot be trusted in fantasy leagues, compiling just 14 fantasy points in ESPN standard leagues over the last two weeks. I’d look elsewhere for impactful fantasy players.
Treat: San Diego Chargers Tight Ends
So Antonio Gates came into the season off a four game suspension, and immediately made a major impact. Gates had two touchdowns in his first game back, and has had 90+ receiving yards in both games that he has played in. But with a sprained MCL, the Chargers looked to Ladarius Green and he has been contributing all season. Quarterback Philip Rivers loves to throw to his tight ends, and while Gates is taken in most leagues, Green isn’t so pick him up now.
By Brett Malamud
It’s another edition of your weekly guide to fantasy football with some intriguing pickups and some must-starts. Here’s week five’s installment of Take It To The Bank:
Jumpin’ for Julio
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones finally came down to earth this week, bringing in just four catches for 38 yards. That was pretty surprising to owners, as the Falcons put up 48 points in a rout of the Houston Texans. Jones practiced on a limited basis this week, complaining of tightness in his hamstring. He is active Sunday and will play the Washington Redskins. Not too many worries here, and you should keep him in your lineup.
Return of the Gurley Birds
Maybe it’s my fascination with St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley, but he put on a show last week. Gurley ran for 146 yards in just his second career NFL game. He is who we thought he was, and now he’ll look towards that first big touchdown. While he plays the Green Bay Packers this week, he should still produce numbers. Keep him locked in your lineup and get ready for Gurley to take over.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees played ok for most of last week’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, with the walk off 80-yard touchdown to C.J. Spiller being his big play of the day. This week, Brees heads into Philadelphia to face the Eagles, and I think that it could be another good week for the veteran QB. He’s a must start for me.
Alex the Great
Many are looking into possibly using their bye weeks to pick up a possible replacement for their players sitting out. One of these players to look in to is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Smith is at home Sunday against the Chicago Bears and that is an interesting matchup. Smith has the second most dropbacks in the entire league right now, and with a weak Bears defense, Smith is an intriguing play.
The injury bug has taken its hit on fantasy football lineups everywhere. Here’s some guys to replace them, including a guy who you should probably look into trading for (if the person who owns him will even give him up). Here’s week four’s installment of Take it to the Bank:
Can’t Catch Karlos
With LeSean McCoy out, Rex Ryan turned to running back Karlos Williams, who led the Buffalo Bills with 110 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He’ll be back there again this week at home against the New York Giants and is going to have another big game.
Speaking of the Giants, week three saw the reemergence of wide receiver Ruben Randle. We all knew what he could do at his best, but it took a few weeks for Randle to get back to himself. He finished last week with seven catches, 116 yards and a touchdown. Don’t expect this kind of performance every week, but every now and then, Randle will go off.
Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Up to this point, the league’s top wide receiver has been Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones. In three weeks, he’s had 34 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns. Not bad, huh? This is the guy to break the bank on if you’re looking to make a blockbuster trade in your league. Fantasy owners, keep riding Julio, who has no intentions on having any ordinary appearances.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson came out and looked like the Chris Johnson of old. Not the guy we saw with the New York Jets. Nope. Johnson looked like he was back on the Tennessee Titans, carrying the ball 22 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson also had a 40-yard catch that almost went for a touchdown. While I’d only take Johnson in deeper leagues, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has said that Johnson will start this week no matter what the status of Andre Ellington is. It’s a situation worth monitoring over the next few weeks.