by Byron Hamilton
I’ll call what we saw this past week the Week of the Running Backs. There were 17 running backs that scored more than 15 fantasy points, but there was one performance that stood out among the rest. Le’Veon Bell was the cornerstone of many winning lineups last week as he broke the Steelers single game rushing record and rumbled for 236 yards on the ground. He scored three touchdowns and added another 62 yards on four receptions in the passing game. Bell finished the day with a whopping 54.8 fantasy points in Draft Kings, which I believe is the highest scoring week of any running back this season. Will he do it again this week? Let’s take a look and see.
Side note: the values and scoring we use are from Draft Kings. I prefer them for two reasons. They utilize PPR scoring and have an additional flex spot on the roster with no kickers. Everyone hates kickers.
Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Value – $7,300
Matt Ryan has been in somewhat of a lull over the last few week, and we haven’t seen many games out of him that were reminiscent of his strong start to the season. He got back on track last week against the Rams by posting his highest fantasy total since week nine. The Falcons host the 49ers this week, and it’s hard to imagine Matt Ryan not exploiting this defense. San Francisco has given up at least 23 points in every game this season other than the opener against the Rams. Ryan is the most expensive quarterback on the board this week, but he’s as close to a lock as you can get.
Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
Value – $6,800
Cousins has been fairly mediocre over the last couple of weeks as he faced two of the better defenses in the league in the Eagles and Cardinals. Even so, we’re only two weeks removed from watching him have his two best performances of the season in back to back weeks. Washington has a trio of receivers that give Cousins several options as well as one of the best tight ends in the league. I think the Carolina Panthers will have their hands full this week as they have been roasted by top tier quarterbacks all season. Cousins is in my top three at the quarterback position.
Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers
Value – $5,800
It’s only taken two weeks for the mood to completely shift on Colin Kaepernick after he lit up the second half of the season. First, there was the debacle against the Bears where he was benched after completing one pass for four yards in the third quarter. Then there was his performance against the Jets last week in which he threw for only 133 yards and a touchdown. The hope is Kaepernick can get back on track this week against an Atlanta defense that’s ranked last in the league against opposing quarterbacks. If Kaep can get some traction going on the ground, then that could open up the passing game for him. He’s a cheap boom or bust play this week.
Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills
Value – $5,700
I feel like Tyrod Taylor could have had a fairly decent season this year had it not been for all of the injuries the offense has sustained. There have been games where the Bills have been without LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, and Robert Woods all at the same time. The fact the Buffalo talked Percy Harvin into coming back speaks volumes about where this team was on the offensive side of the ball. That being said, LeSean McCoy is looking like the running back we saw at the beginning of the season, and Sammy Watkins is back after missing the majority of the season. Taylor will have the pleasant opportunity to host the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Unless this is your first time looking at a fantasy football column this season you already know this should mean great things for the Bills. If there’s a time to play Tyrod Taylor, it’s this week.
Trevor Siemian – Denver Broncos
Value – $5,200
It’s clear after watching Paxton Lynch play that the Broncos made the right decision to start Trevor Siemian over him. The first year starter for Denver has certainly had his ups and downs this season, but he’s strung together two straight fantasy relevant games that have gotten my attention. Siemian has thrown for over 330 yards in each of the last two games he’s played in and has accounted for four touchdowns. At only $5,200 he is a sneaky play this week against the Patriots. You have to assume New England will still be able to put up some points against Denver, and I can’t imagine the running back duo of Booker and Forsett will be able to make much of an impact. If Siemian is forced to throw he has a chance to outperform his low price tag.
Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
Value – $9,800
There’s no way Bell’s stock was dropping this week after the show he put on against the Bills. He broke the Steelers single game rushing record with 236 yards and scored three touchdowns in the process. There’s obviously no real chance of him putting up those kinds of numbers again this week, but Bell still has an advantageous matchup against a Bengals defense that’s 22nd in the league against running backs. He’s scored at least 26 points in the last five games, which gives him a huge floor. Unfortunately, you’ll pay for it.
LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
Value – $8,900
McCoy is playing like the running back we saw at the beginning of the season and has an excellent matchup this week against the Browns. He was still able to rack up 22 points last week against the Steelers by scoring a touchdown and catching six passes for 81 yards, despite rushing for only 27 yards. Cleveland has allowed 21 points or more to opposing offenses in all but one game this season and is ranked 30th against running backs. Don’t overthink it.
Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders
Value – $5,800
There was some concern surrounding Murray earlier in the season when we saw rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard slowly begin to siphon carries away from him. While Washington has fallen by the wayside, Richard has still been lingering around. Still, Murray has had a fine season due to finding the end zone 12 times on the ground. He’s scored no less than 12 fantasy points in the last seven games, which gives him a very stable floor at his price. He’s gained a combined 185 yards on the ground in the last two games and has added three touchdowns. The Raiders will square off against the Chargers this week, who rank 26th in the league against the running game.
LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots
Value – $5,000
Blount has more rushing touchdowns that any other running back in the league this season and has tied New England’s single-season record with fourteen on the season. So much for everyone worrying about Dion Lewis, huh? Blount is an absolute bruiser and has been utilized much more than many believed since Tom Brady’s return. I have a feeling he may be used more than ever this week against the Broncos. Denver’s secondary is arguably the best in the league, and there’s a chance Brady may have trouble finding open receivers. Fortunately for New England, the Broncos are 22nd in the league when it comes to surrendering points to running backs. Blount is as close to a lock as you can get this season to score a touchdown, and I think he’s a steal at only $5,000
Isiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns
Value – $4,100
Isiah Crowell is the type of running back Jeremy Hill would be if he played for the Cleveland Browns. Crowell has had some solid performances this season, and I think he has the talent to develop into a decent running back if he were with another team. He rushed for 113 yards last week against the Bengals, which is the third time this season he has gone over the century mark on the ground. He’s also been much more involved in the passing game than he was last season, which gives him another layer of value. Unfortunately, the Browns don’t utilize him enough to make him a reliable fantasy option. However, he’ll face a Buffalo defense that just allowed Le’Veon Bell to break the Steelers franchise single-game rushing record. The Bills have struggled against the run in multiple games this season, which makes Crowell an intriguing option. Let’s hope he can build on last week’s performance.
Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
Value – $5,700
I’m going to ride this kid until the wheels fall off or his price gets above $6,000. He’s been one of the biggest surprises over the second half of the season and is a dynamic player that has a chance to score whenever he touches the ball. Hill’s involvement in the passing, rushing, and return game keeps him involved in the game regardless of where he’s lined up. He’s not scored less than 10 fantasy points over the last five weeks and has three games of over 20 points in that span. The Titans have been friendly to wide receivers at times this season, and the Chiefs will continue to keep Hill involved.
Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers
Value – $7,300
There was a stretch earlier in the season where you were seriously concerned about Jordy Nelson’s involvement in Green Bay’s offense. Everyone can breathe a little easier now that Nelson has caught a touchdown in all but one game over the last seven weeks. With the Packers rushing attack still struggling with the mostly ineffective tandem of Ty Montgomery, James Starks, and Christine Michael, the offense should continue to rely heavily on Aaron Rodgers to move the ball through the air. I believe Chicago’s defense has been better than advertised this season, but I still like Nelson’s chances this week. He’s been one of the most consistent wide receivers over the second half of the season.
Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks
Value – $6,600
I know I’ve recommended Baldwin a couple of times over the last few weeks, and he’s not quite panned out. Most of the struggles can be blamed on the poor play of Russell Wilson over the last few weeks, but Baldwin remains the go-to receiver in Seattle. In four of the last five weeks, he’s seen at least seven targets and has scored no less than ten fantasy points in that span. I think Wilson and Baldwin will have an easier task this week when they play the Rams at home. Las Angeles just fired Jeff Fisher, and the Rams have struggled on both offense and defense most of the season. They’ve given up at least 26 points in each of the last three weeks and just gave up three passing touchdowns to Matt Ryan. I think this is the week Doug Baldwin gets back on track.
Tyrell Williams – San Diego Chargers
Value – $5,800
I thought Williams was a lock last week against the Panthers considering the matchup and his nose for the end zone. Unfortunately, he finished the day with his lowest fantasy output since week eight. Phillip Rivers didn’t have the best day as San Diego’s defense struggled in general. This week presents another matchup against another vulnerable defense in the Raiders. Oakland 20 or more points in each game over the last six weeks and ranks 24th against receivers. Williams is an inexpensive play with upside this week.
Robby Anderson – New York Jets
Value – $4,200
If you listen to our podcast you know our man Derrick has a tendency to make some pretty outlandish statements, which I typically enjoy pointing out and ridiculing. He’s been touting Robby Anderson for a few weeks now, and I’ve mostly shrugged it off. It seems now I may end up eating my words. After two games with Bryce Petty under center, Anderson has scored a touchdown and racked up 160 receiving yards. There seems to be a clear rapport with these two, and Anderson is worth a flier at his price tag.
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Value – $5,900
Travis Kelce has been on a roll. He’s gone four consecutive weeks with more than 100 receiving yards and has passed that mark five times in the last seven games. Kelce seems to have finally developed into the weapon everyone thought he was capable of becoming. I thought the return on Jeremy Maclin last week could have pulled some targets away from Kelce, but that wasn’t the case as he was targeted eight times and finished with five catches for 101 yards against Oakland. He’s the most expensive tight end on the slate this week, but he’s worth the price with his recent production.
Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
Value – $5,600
Much like last season, Tyler Eifert has been a touchdown machine since he’s made his return to the field from injury. The Bengals continue to play without AJ Green, which means for targets for last year’s breakout tight end. Eifert has scored four touchdowns over the last three weeks and has only one performance with less than ten fantasy points since week eight. The Steelers are a middle of the road defense when it comes to the tight end position, which makes Eifert a strong play this week at home.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
Value – $4,300
I honestly thought Rudolph was on the verge of a breakout season. He caught three touchdown passes over the first four weeks of the season and was targeted no less than seven times in each game. Unfortunately, he’s only found the end zone three times since the fourth week of the season. Sam Bradford has looked incredibly bad at times this year, so the blame can’t necessarily be placed at the feet of his tight end. Still, the Vikings host the Colts this week, which has proved to be a fantasy gold mine at times this season. Indianapolis is the 23rd ranked defense against tight ends this week, so Rudolph has a chance to put up some points.
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Value – $3,800
There are two players that consistently catch passes in Tampa Bay. Mike Evans and Cameron Brate. That’s really about it. The Buccaneers have been decimated by injuries on offense this season, and Brate has developed into a nice option in the passing game for Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers defense has been great over the last few weeks, but they’ve not faced a rushing attack that comes anywhere close to what Dallas employs all season. This could turn into a fairly high scoring game, and Brate is essentially the second receiver in this offense.
Ladarius Green – Pittsburgh Steelers
Value – $3,700
Last week was a tough game for any Steeler not named Le’Veon Bell. The weather was less than ideal, and Ben Roethlisberger threw zero touchdowns and three picks while failing to throw for 300 yards for the fourth straight game. Ladarius Green has been heavily involved in the game plan recently and has seen 17 targets over the last two weeks, so it’s clear the coaching staff wants to utilize him. I think this could be a bounce-back week for both Green and Roethlisberger as they face off against the Bengals. Cincinnati is second to last in the league against tight ends, and Green is priced well below his potential.
Who I’m Stacking:
Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Total Value – $13,200
Aaron Rodgers has been on a tear over the second half of the season. He has at least 21 fantasy points in each game since week six other than a sluggish game against the Texans a couple games back. I mentioned above that I like Jordy Nelson this week. However, Davante Adams has played at a high level as well and can be paired with Rodgers for a $1,200 discount. Rodgers does have a calf injury, but everything I’ve seen indicates that he’ll be just fine. The Packers still lack any real weapons at running back, which means they’ll have to throw to move the ball. I think these two should have solid games against the Bears
Eli Manning/Odell Beckham Jr – New York Giants
Total Value – $13,600
This one could bite me, but I think Manning has a chance to bounce back this week against the Lions. He’s not had a 20 point fantasy game since week ten against the Bengals and hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards over the last three games. Detroit is 25th against quarterbacks and Manning plays at home, so the conditions feel right for him to get back on track. If you’re stacking anyone here it has to be OBJ. He’s scored three touchdowns over the last three weeks and has over 90 receiving yards in each game. Manning’s ownership should be fairly low, but he’s a boom or bust player this week.
Andy Dalton/Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
Total Value – $11,100
The Red Rifle has had some pretty serviceable performances over the season. His 180 passing yards last week against the Browns were a season low, but he simply wasn’t needed to throw much as Jeremy Hill was running wild on the Cleveland defense. I think this week against the Steelers may be a different story. At some point, Roethlisberger is going to break out of his slump and start throwing 60-yard touchdowns again, and I think that may happen this week. If so, the Bengals may be forced to take to the passing game to keep pace. If I’m stacking anyone with Dalton this week I’m rolling out Tyler Eifert. The guy is a touchdown machine and has found the end zone four times in the last three games.
Steals of the Week:
Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers
Value – $5,900
Carlos Hyde is the San Francisco 49ers offense. He’s by far the most dynamic and consistent playmaker they have and has been a mostly reliable source of fantasy production all year when he’s not been injured. Hyde racked up 193 yards on the ground and caught a touchdown pass last week against the Jets, and I think he’ll have another impressive performance this week when he faces the Falcons. Atlanta has given up points all season to running backs and ranks next to last in the position. Hyde is under $6,000 this week, which is a steal considering the matchup and his role within the offense.
Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
Value – $5,400
Crowder finished the day against the Eagles with his lowest fantasy output since week four of the season, and it was the first time in that same span where he hadn’t scored a touchdown or caught at least seven passes for 80 yards. It makes sense that last week was also the worst game Kirk Cousins has over the last five weeks. Luckily they have a great opportunity to get back on track this week against the Panthers. Carolina has been notorious for giving up big games to quarterbacks and wide receivers this season as they rank 28th and 29th at each position. Crowder is the highest-scoring wide receiver in Washington’s offense and is a great play this week at only $5,400.
Kenneth Farrow – San Diego Chargers
Value – $4,400
I didn’t include Farrow up above because Melvin Gordon hasn’t been officially ruled out as in writing this. If Gordon does indeed sit out this week, I like the idea of adding Farrow into some lineups. He dominated the touches after Gordon left the game and has a great matchup against an Oakland defense that’s giving up 120 yards per game on the ground. Ronnie Hillman will likely play a role as well, but I expect Farrow to get the majority of the work.
Bilal Powel – New York Jets
Value – $5,600
As with Farrow, I’m including Powell separately since there’s no guarantee Matt Forte sits out. If he does I see Powell as a virtual must-start this week against the Dolphins. He looked great against San Francisco last week as he racked up 145 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns. Bryce Petty won’t likely be throwing a ton, but if he does we may see a lot of targets come Powell’s way. If Forte does indeed sit out this week, then Bilal Powell may have the highest ownership percentage in daily leagues this week. You’ll want to go with more obscure guys at other positions if you roll him out there.
I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it each week. I’m truly passionate about fantasy football and love any opportunity to share my opinions with you. As always, hit us up @No_HuddleFFB on Twitter for any questions you might have. Get rich this week!!!