By Julian Martinez
Quarterback: McCown be clowning
This might surprise you, but picking up a Cleveland quarterback might not be a bad idea, and I’m not talking about Manziel. Josh McCown was very disappointing for the Bucs last year and he was on the verge of losing his job to Manziel in the season’s early going, but now this guy is a little-known Fantasy stud.
Stud isn’t a stretch at all when you consider McCown put up over 30 points this past week and 20 in consecutive weeks before that. He in fact is only owned in four percent of leagues, and if you just lost Tyrod, which is a separate issue I’ll cover, McCown can help you.
Now speaking of Tyrod Taylor. Taylor unforunately is the latest victim of an injury-riddled season for quarterbacks. A sprained MCL could keep Taylor on the shelf for at least a couple weeks, which is disappointing, considering he was developing into one of Fantasy’s most exciting passers. His backup E.J. Manuel is not worth the pickup.
Speaking of people who saw the bench recently, but for a separate reason other than injury, what about Matthew Stafford? It made sense for the Lions to bench Stafford against the Cardinals, given the game was well out of hand when they pulled the trigger, but you have to worry about the guy’s long-term confidence.
Stafford has been trending downward ever since his 5,000-yard-passing season in 2011. The fact the Lions would even consider benching Stafford for Dan Orlovsky, a quarterback famous for running out the back of his own end zone, is worrisome to say the least. If Stafford is your lead quarterback, then you may have a problem.
Runningback: Jamaal Charles NOOOOO!!!
Jamaal Charles has been the best running back in the NFL this season, but unfortunately he played his last snap of 2015 against Chicago on Sunday. Charles joins a long list of star players to be out of action this year, and even more troubling is to think this is Charles’ second ACL tear in his professional career. We wish you a speedy recovery, Jamaal.
Now the question is how do you replace such a dynamic back. The hope for many this week is that someone takes over in the Chiefs’ backfield. That should be a Fantasy goldmine, given Andy Reid’s tendency to develop solid Fantasy contributors at the position.
The guy I am targeting is Charcandrick West. West took over the majority of the touches following Charles’ departure to the locker room on Sunday, but he does have Kniles Davis to compete with. Davis was the Charles-handcuff coming into the year and is the incumbent to the job, but West can do so much more with the ball, which is something Reid appreciates. If not this week, then a couple weeks from now I can see West taking over the majority of touches in the Kansas City backfield.
A name you should look into, especially in deep leagues, is Antonio Andrews. Andrews is similar to Carolina back Mike Tolbert, as it appears he is the preferred goal line back for the Titans. He’ll be inconsistent week-to-week, given he’ll be very touchdown-dependent, but on weeks he scores that can be a difference maker.
Wide Receivers: Big Ben isn’t just missed at the quarterback position
If you are an Antonio Brown owner, then Mike Vick hurts to watch behind center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown has put up two meager performances with Vick throwing him the ball. Vick is as bad as putting Josh Norman on Brown weekly. You can’t bench Brown, but the best you can do is hope he has boom-or-bust type value in the weeks before Roethlisberger comes back.
I will make a bold claim this week in regards to the Miami Dolphin offense. DeVante Parker will emerge from his deep sleeper status. The Dolphins are coming off a bye week, their offense will be looking to make a statement after the season’s slow start, and Tennessee’s pass defense isn’t imposing.
Parker, who was a first round pick this year for Miami, has been quiet all year, as he’s recovered from a foot surgery and has battled veterans in the passing game for touches, but I could see him getting enough snaps coming off the bye to make him a bigger part of the Miami offense moving forward.
Willie Snead looked great last week and I am willing to endorse him for the rest of the year. Eleven targets jumps off the stat sheet and developing chemistry with an elite quarterback like Drew Brees does wonders for wide receivers. Pick him up now because everyone will jump on him this week coming off the big game.
Tight Ends: Open the Gates to Victory
It came off as a surprise to many when Antonio Gates was suspended for the first four games of the NFL season, but now he’s back. In his first game, Gates saw 11 targets from Philip Rivers and turned it into 92 yards and two scores. His production might fade off, given Stevie Johnson should return from injury soon, but Gates should jump right back into elite tier of the position.
Another player I am going to give an endorsement to this week is Julius Thomas. Thomas missed the early goings of the year due to a hand injury and he has been known to have a well-documented injury history, but Jacksonville didn’t spend a lot of money on him to not give him opportunity to succeed. I envision Thomas finding the end zone this week against the Houston Texans.
Kicker and DST: A Few Notes
Start the Cincinnati defense. Against E.J. Manuel I could see the Bengal defense having a field day. They are currently only owned in 33% of leagues.
Bye Week Teams:
Tampa Bay Bucs
St. Louis Rams