By Rob Carter
BU News Service
With Week 8 of the Fantasy Football season upon us, we have officially hit the halfway point for the season. Almost no one can afford a loss this time of year, but with six teams on bye and a litany of injured players, fielding a quality starting lineup isn’t going to be easy.
Here are our favorite players that are still widely available (owned in under 65% of ESPN public leagues) for those owners that need some extra depth this week.
Players On Bye: Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, Case Keenum, Landry Jones, Colin Kaepernick
Important Injuries: Geno Smith (if we use “important” liberally that is)
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (53% owned)
The bye week and an easier match up against the 49ers last weekend got Jameis Winston back on track. The second year quarterback threw for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns Sunday looking like the player Tampa Bay drafted him to be last year. Winston still has work to do with his concentration, getting an unnecessary personal foul on the 1 yard line and throwing an ugly pick in the first quarter, but his talent makes him a gamble worth taking. This week Winston and the Bucs host the Raiders who have given up the 5th most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
2) Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (41% owned)
A recommendation in last week’s column, Alex Smith delivered the high-floor/low-ceiling totals expected against the Saints in week 7. Owners can expect similar numbers this week as the Chiefs travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Corner back Vontae Davis is still capable of smothering a number one receiver, but relying on one receiver hasn’t been Smith’s style this year. Look for Smith to rely heavily on short passes to his tight end, running backs, and speedster Tyreek Hill to assemble decent yardage and a couple touch downs.
3) Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets (14% owned)
Saying Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a bad season so far would be putting it lightly. In only 7 games, Fitzpatrick has thrown 11 interceptions and has been benched for Geno Smith twice. As bad as Fitzpatrick has been though, the Cleveland Browns may have been worse. Thus far, the lowest point total a quarterback has gotten against the Browns in a standard scoring league was 18.18 points. With Smith out with a torn ACL, Fitzpatrick is all but guaranteed 48 minutes against the worst team in football which makes him a legitimate streaming option in a week when 6 quarterbacks are on bye.
Players On Bye: Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Jarvis Landry,
Important Injuries: No one new
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (18% owned)
Many fantasy owners want to hold onto their grudge against Davante Adams, who last year did very little with his opportunity to step as the Packers’ number two option in the passing game. Adams is making that difficult though, snagging a touchdown in all but two games this season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was honed in on Adams last Thursday, connecting with the receiver for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 catches. With a great schedule of match ups coming up against Atlanta, Indianapolis and Tennessee, Adams should be added in all leagues
2) Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets (52% owned)
Quincy Enunwa only had four targets last weekend, but made the most of them catching two for 73 yards and a touchdown. While hoping for a big play in back-to-back weeks from a role player can be risky, Enunwa’s odds are better than most as he takes on the Browns this week. With Joe Haden potentially missing the game due to injury, the Jets will need to devote most of their coverage to slowing down Brandon Marshall. That means Enunwa should be on the winning side of some mismatches this weekend and should turn in a solid performance.
3) Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (63% owned)
Typically picking up a rookie wide receiver who is facing Seattle and Denver in two of the next three weeks is not a great plan, but Michael Thomas may be the exception. Thomas has had either a touchdown or over 100 yards receiving for 4 weeks straight now and is becoming a favorite target for Drew Brees. Without much support from their defense, the Saints will need to rely heavily on their passing game this weekend, and that should mean a decent performance from Thomas even against Seattle’s talented secondary.
Players On Bye: Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Carlos Hyde, Terrence West, Jay Adjayi, Rashad Jennings
Important Injuries: Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin, Jerrick McKinnon
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay (31% owned)
Doug Martin’s injury appears worse than originally anticipated and Charles Sims is on the injured reserve list meaning Jacquizz Rodgers is the only show in town. Tampa has been running the ball more often the past couple weeks as Jameis Winston has been turning the ball over a bit too frequently in the passing game. While he hasn’t found the end zone yet, Rodgers has had over 100 yards rushing in back to back games while filling in for Martin. Expect Rodgers to have another good game against a Raiders defensive line that footballoutsiders.com rates worst in the league against the run.
2) Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings (57% owned)
Matt Asiata led the Vikings in carries on top of six receptions in the passing game after Jerrick McKinnon left the game last weekend with an ankle injury. Despite the Vikings’ obvious problems in their offensive line, they often end up with great field position thanks to their incredible defense this season. Add to that a risk averse quarterback, who favors runs and check downs and the lead back in Minnesota become a fairly enticing fantasy option. While the ceiling is capped by Asiata’s pedestrian skillset, he is still a valuable starter if McKinnon is limited this week.
3) Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Green Bay Packers (20% owned)
Although he started the season designated as a wide receiver, even making my receiver waiver wire adds last week, both ESPN and Yahoo fantasy leagues made Ty Montgomery eligible to start at receiver or at running back. The flexibility alone makes Montgomery a nice addition to a team, since he can fill in for multiple positions. More importantly though, Montgomery is coming off his second 10 catch game in as many weeks, and this time also got nine rushes for 60 yards. While he got stuffed at the goal line and will probably cede those touches to Knile Davis in the future, Montgomery’s new high-usage role makes him an extremely valuable fantasy commodity.
Players On Bye: Dennis Pitta, Jesse James,
Important Injuries: Dwayne Allen
Who to pick up for this week:
1) Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (15% owned)
After Coby Fleener left the Colts to join Drew Brees on the Saints, many predicted that this would be a break out season for the Colts other primary tight end Dwayne Allen. Allen has caught two touchdowns this season, but the Colts have needed so much help on the offensive line that Allen has had to spend much of the season as a blocker. Now battling a high-ankle sprain, Allen can’t even stay on the field as a blocker, opening the door for the Colts second tight end Jack Doyle. Doyle, more of a receiving threat than a blocker has already scored more touch downs than Allen and is slated for more work while Allen is sidelined. Doyle caught nine targets for 78 yards and a score in his first full game without Allen last week.
2) Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31% owned)
Although he hasn’t found the end zone in three weeks now, Cameron Brate is still an active part of Tampa Bay’s offense. While it is safe to assume quarterback Jameis Winston will still lean heavily on his favorite target Mike Evans and running back Jacquizz Rodgers to move the ball up the field, Brate should be a legitimate red zone threat this weekend. Tampa Bay takes on the Oakland Raiders this weekend who have struggled against tight ends this season, giving up the 6th most points at the position.
3) C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans (6.8% owned)
While there hasn’t been much to celebrate about Houston’s offense this season, C.J. Fiedorowicz has been an unexpected surprise. The only target that quarterback Brock Osweiler seems to be able to find with any consistency, Fiedorowicz has at least four catches in each of the last four games. That may not sound like much, but he has achieved this while splitting his role with two other tight ends. Fiedorowicz’s play is going to force the Texans coaching staff to give him a bigger role sooner or later, and it may be sooner if he can exploit a great match up against Detroit this weekend. Detroit has given up a touchdown to a tight end in every game but one this season.
1) Chiefs, DST, Kansas City (54% owned)
The Chiefs have a deceptively nice match up this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have struggled to protect Andrew Luck this season, giving up 25 sacks over the first seven games of the year. If the Chiefs are able to keep Luck and the Colts in check, the poor offensive line play should give the chiefs a relatively safe floor.
2) Jets, DST, New York (23% owned)
The Jets have been far from Stellar defensively this season, but the match up against the Browns is one they should be able to handle. If the Jets can slow down the Browns’ run game, they should be able to force Cody Kessler to throw a pick or two this weekend.
3) Titans, DST, Tennessee (15% owned)
The Titans take on the Jaguars this weekend, who have struggled with turnovers all season long. Blake Bortles has shown incredibly poor decision making with many throws into double coverage or non-existent windows getting picked off and returned for scores. The Titans aren’t an elite defense by any means, but are consistent enough to take advantage of a favorable match up this weekend.