Here are seven players I like more than usual this week and seven I like less.
- QB Drew Brees NO. The Panthers have been beatable through the air, especially by top end QBs. Brees put up 20 points on the road in their first meeting. The Saints rushing attack has siphoned a good amount of Brees’ opportunities in the middle third of this season. Carolina is a stout run defense, though. I think Brees gets the 35+ attempts he needs to produce.
- RB Alex Collins BAL. Detroit has made a habit of giving up 100+ yards of rushing to opponents. Sometimes it’s split between backs, which may be the case with the Ravens, but the workhorse usually gets the bulk. Collins is Baltimore’s workhorse and he’s finally seeing some red zone work over the last month.
- RB Duke Johnson CLE. Receiving backs have caused issues for the Chargers this year. They give up 50 receiving yards per game to backs on average. The way LA’s offense is clicking I’d expect the Browns to be trailing early, meaning Duke will get more snaps. They’re not much better at limiting rushing and Duke gets about 5 carries a game at 5.3 Y/A.
- WR DeAndre Hopkins HOU. The Titans have struggled with number one receivers for the past two seasons. As Mike Beers details, they give up 6 points more than opposing WR1s are averaging. Nuk is the epitome of a WR1. He’ll get his this week.
- WR Johnny Holton OAK. There’s a three way race for WR production in Oakland with their top two guys out for Sunday’s game. While Seth Roberts is a good bet for targets, he runs short routes heavily out of the slot. Holton and Cordarrelle Patterson are the home run threats, and outside of a few designed plays to get the ball in Patterson’s hands he hasn’t been a part of the passing game. I’ll throw a dart on the guy that’s made a few long catches on deep routes in Holton.
- TE Evan Engram NYG. I don’t blame you if you headed for the hills when the Giants announced Geno Smith would start this week. It’s hard to analyze Smith’s career at QB since all his starts came with the dysfunctional Jets. What I can see is that he was much better targeting the inside receiver and tight end. Maybe it was a personnel issue, but the Giants currently have that same issue. Engram and Sterling Shepard are the likely target leaders in this game, and I like EE better for a TD.
- DEF LA Rams. This defense put up 17 fantasy points against the Cardinals in their first meeting and that was with their starting QB. Do you think Arizona has improved in any facet since that meeting?
- QB Russell Wilson SEA. Look, I’m not saying bench him or do anything drastic. The Eagles have one of the few front seven’s capable of dealing with Wilson’s rushing ability, however. They’ve faced two mobile QBs in Cam Newton and Dak Prescott. They blasted Dak who didn’t have his starting LT. Cam put up a good fantasy total, though with three INTs and a good portion of yards coming in catch up mode. All in all I think Russ has a modest day, at least by his 2017 standards.
- RB Melvin Gordon LAC. Presumably worried about Gordon’s durability the coaching staff continues giving Austin Eckler between a third and half of the RB snaps. Gordon has mainly produced big lines with volume and those days look over.
- RB Tevin Coleman ATL. With the return of Devonta Freeman, and facing a stiff Vikings defense, Coleman’s back to your bench this week.
- WR Devin Funchess CAR. Between the up and down nature of Funchess’ production and the Saints getting both of their starting corners back, I want no part of the Panther. Cam’s the only one on that team with any fantasy certainty.
- WR Sammy Watkins LAR. It was nice while it lasted for Watkins fantasy usefulness window. He’s getting the Patrick Peterson shadow this week. Sean McVay’s offense prioritizes efficiency. I don’t see many targets going Watkins’ way.
- TE Kyle Rudolph MIN. While his growing target share makes his floor palatable, I worry his fantasy production is too dependent on touchdowns. Atlanta has only yielded two scores to TEs on the year.
- DEF Detroit Lions. Baltimore doesn’t tend to take undue risks when they can avoid them. They should be able to run the ball at will against the road team. The Ravens defense also matches up well with the Lions offense in their ability to defend the pass, meaning they aren’t likely to trail by a large amount.
Follow Mike Alexander on Twitter @Roto_Wan.