It’s time to take our weekly look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday.
Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys
Matchup – Washington Redskins
I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong. For example, I was incredibly wrong about Dak Prescott heading into this season. Last year’s breakout rookie quarterback finished sixth in fantasy scoring at his position ahead of guys like Matt Stafford, Derek Carr, and Russell Wilson. Boy was I wrong. So far this season Prescott is once again the sixth highest scoring quarterback and has had three straight games with at least three touchdowns. He also hasn’t put up less than 26 points since week two. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if and when Ezekiel Elliott serves his suspension this season, but until then you’re starting the Dak Attack if you’ve got him. I like him particularly well against Washington this week.
Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
Funny enough, Derek Carr sat on my bench last week. At no point when setting my lineup did I think this guy would throw for 417 yards and three touchdowns. Carr looked absolutely atrocious against the Chargers after missing only one week with broken bones in his freaking back. I figured he was still banged up, and I wasn’t taking a chance on him. Well that’s on me I suppose. Unfortunately, I think the celebration of Carr’s epic return will be short lived. The Raiders will face a Bills defense this week that has allowed more 20 points in a game just one time so far this season. I understand playing him if you’ve got him, but I wouldn’t expect another 400 yards performance.
Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
Matchup – Denver Broncos
I’m willing to argue that Alex Smith is the biggest surprise in fantasy at quarterback outside of Deshaun Watson. Heading into last week Smith was second in the league at his position behind the rookie down in Houston, and the veteran quarterback threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders. I think one of the most impressive aspects of Smith’s play this season is how well he takes care of the football. Through seven games he hasn’t turned the ball over one single time. He’s always been tagged as a game manager, but Smith his showing his value as a prolific passer so far this season. Unfortunately, we may see some regression this week against an imposing Denver defense. I don’t see Smith laying an egg, but there’s definitely better quarterback options this week.
Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers
I really liked Aaron Jones heading into this year in dynasty formats. While the smart money was on Jamaal Williams to get work as Ty Montgomery’s backup, I liked Jones simply because he’s a better athlete in an offense that likes to pass the ball. Last week was a total crap shoot for every player in Green Bay’s offense from a fantasy perspective. It was the first full game without Aaron Rodgers, so I was hesitant to play anyone on this team. As it turns out I was right about everyone but Aaron Jones. The rookie rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. That’s the second time in three weeks this kid has at least 125 rushing yards. Jones dominated the workload out of the backfield, and Montgomery only saw four carries and gained six yards. After watching a full game from Brett Hundley it’s abundantly clear that he’s nowhere near Aaron Rodgers (not many people are but you get my point). If I’m Green Bay, then my game plan is to run the football. A lot. Jones faces a tough Lions defense at home after the bye week. If he explodes again, then he’s an every week starter.
Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings
Matchup – Cleveland Browns
Wow. NOBODY saw this one coming. At least I sure didn’t. Latavius Murray ran the ball 18 times for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens last week, and Jerick McKinnon owners have gone from extremely confident to a wee bit concerned. Murray had a 29 yard touchdown run last week. You want to know how many yards he gained in the game prior to that? 28 yards on 15 carries. I’m going to put my neck out and say this doesn’t happen again. Latavius Murray isn’t suddenly some top tier running back, and I particularly don’t like him against a surprisingly tough Cleveland run defense. Don’t play the guy, this is an outlier.
Matt Forte – New York Jets
Matchup – Atlanta Falcons
To put it bluntly, the Jets’ backfield is a shit show. There is absolutely no way to determine who is going to lead this group in points. Bilal Powell is banged up and struggling. Elijah McGuire has entered the ring as a threat. Matt Forte is old and can’t stay on the field. Teams that utilize a running back by committee style are often impossible to predict. However, Matt Forte appears to be New York’s go to third down back. While his rushing totals are subpar, he’s been an active receiver out of the backfield and has 13 catches for 100 yards in the last two games. While those aren’t gaudy numbers, the veteran running back deserves to be on your team in a PPR league. The Jets will face a struggling Atlanta team that was all but shut down by the Patriots last week, so who knows what’s going to happen in this one. At the very least Forte deserves a spot on your roster. He’s ownership percentage is under 50%.
Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
Matchup – with Buffalo Bills
Well it’s about damn time. Last week was a make or break game for Amari Cooper owners. To say Cooper was in a slump before his matchup against Chiefs would be a huge understatement. Amari Cooper exploded for 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City, and I couldn’t be happier. There was just no way Cooper was suddenly a terrible wide receiver in the National Football League. The former Alabama product had 146 yards heading into last week, which means in one game he shattered his season total by 64 yards. While I don’t consider this game to be an outlier, I don’t think Cooper has a great chance at performing at a high level this week. The Bills have been near impenetrable and haven’t given up many big games to receivers. At least we know now that Cooper isn’t an afterthought.
Kenny Stills – Miami Dolphins
Matchup – Baltimore Ravens
I honestly think the Dolphins might be better off with Matt Moore at quarterback instead of Jay Cutler, but only time will tell. One thing seems apparent though. Kenny Stills is going to see his fair share of attention as long as Davante Parker is sidelined. The speedy receiver has ten catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games Parker has missed. Stills is typically known for being a big play type of receiver, but he was utilized all over the field last week against the Jets. This is evident when you see that one of his touchdowns came when Miami was on the two yard line. This type of production may me short lived, because Parker should make his way back soon. However, Stills is worth grabbing if he’s available just in case. I wouldn’t expect another outing like what we saw last week against the Ravens.
Ted Ginn Jr – New Orleans Saints
Matchup – Chicago Bears
Brandin Cooks who? Drew Brees likes speedy receivers, so it makes sense that Ted Ginn will have a big game here and there. However, Ginn has strung together two strong performances in back to back weeks and has caught 11 passes 207 yards and a touchdown over that span. Willie Snead is still banged up, so the veteran receiver will continue to see an expanded workload while his teammate works his way back to the field. Ginn is only 44% owned in fantasy leagues, and I think he’s worth adding if you need help at receiver. Chicago’s defense has given up at least 20 points in all but two games, so there’s a shot Ginn can continue his hot streak.
OJ Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matchup – Carolina Panthers
We got a glimpse of what Tampa Bay saw in OJ Howard when they drafted him this earlier year. The rookie had by far the best performance of his young career against a tough Bills defense and finished the day with six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Howard has taken a backseat to Cameron Brate in terms of targets from Jameis Winston, but we could see that begin to change after this big game. I’m not quite willing to endorse Howard as a starter just yet, but he’s definitely worth adding to your team. If he has another solid outing against the Panthers this week I’d start starting him.
Even Engram – New York Giants
At this point there’s really no reason why Evan Engram should be sitting on your bench, regardless of the matchup. The rookie has been consistent all season and now finds himself as the lead receiver after the Giants lost basically all of their wide receivers. Engram had six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown against Seattle last week and will be heavily involved in New York’s passing attack moving forward, and this includes even after Sterling Shepard returns from injury. The Giants face the Rams at home after their bye week, and I’m full speed ahead on Engram.
Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks
Matchup – Houston Texans
After a slow start to the year, Jimmy Graham has been one of the more consistent tight ends for fantasy purposes. That’s extremely valuable considering the tight end position lacks many players that are able to put up serviceable numbers each week. The good news for Graham is that the Seahawks offensive line is still terrible, which makes running the ball difficult. As a result, Russell Wilson is going to have to throw if this team is going to win. Graham has at least 60 yards receiving or a touchdown in each of the last four games, so I’d be starting him with confidence. The Texans are a tough matchup on paper, but the veteran shouldn’t have much trouble producing considering his involvement in the passing game.
Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
I answered a ton of questions on our Twitter account over the weekend asking about Mariota, and in all but a couple cases I advised people to play their other option. Now you can see why. While last week’s performance against Cleveland was definitely his worst game of the year so far, this wasn’t the first time we saw Mariota struggle. He has been able to find the end zone on the ground, which has helped, but he’s only thrown for more than one touchdown once and has only two games where he’s thrown for over 250 yards. I don’t particularly like Mariota’s matchup against the Ravens after Tennessee’s bye week either.
Eli Manning – New York Giants
At this point in the season you have to drop Eli Manning. He’s still over 40% owned, and that percentage is entirely too high. While Manning has struggled so far, not all of the blame can be put on him. The Giants wide receiving corps is decimated, and they have no dependable running backs. Still, as a professional quarterback in the NFL Manning should be able to throw for more than 262 yards in two games combined. I’m not overly confident Manning turns things around after the bye week either. Time to move on.
Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup – Indianapolis Colts
Andy Dalton really turned things around after an atrocious start to this season. Heading into the bye week Dalton was coming off a game with 300 yards passing and threw for six touchdowns in the previous two outings. That all came to a screeching halt last week against the Steelers. Dalton’s 140 yard performance was his lowest total so far this year, and while he did have two touchdowns he also threw two interceptions. The good news is the Red Rocket should be able to get back on track this week against the Colts. I like him as a steaming option against an Indianapolis defense that has allowed at least 23 points in all but one game this season.
Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins
Matchup – Baltimore Ravens
Much of Ajayi’s struggles this season can be attributed to Miami losing Ryan Tannehill. While not elite, Tannehill is a more prolific passer than Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. Opposing defenses simply aren’t very afraid of either one of these quarterbacks beating them. The result of that is Jay Ajayi is seeing a lot of loaded boxes that are determined to stop him. He ran the ball 23 times for 51 yards against the Jets for 2.2 yards per carry. What’s frustrating is you can see this guy can be effective when he has room to run. Ajayi has two games where he has rushed for 120 yards or more. I’d like to say he can turn things around this week, but it’s difficult to be very optimistic about his situation.
Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers
Whelp, it looks like the Ty Montgomery experiment might be over in Green Bay. I’ve said for weeks now that Montgomery isn’t a three down back in the NFL. While he’s a great receiving option out of the backfield, he simply was just never very effective as a runner. Rookie Aaron Jones now has rushed for at least 125 yards and a touchdown in two out of the last three games. With production like that I think this is Jones’ job to lose moving forward. Montgomery will still be the third down back for the Packers, but he’s no longer a weekly starter as long as his teammate is healthy. Try to find another option at running back.
Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts
Matchup – Cincinnati Bengals
I hate to say it, but I think Frank Gore is done. The veteran running back has been seemingly ageless in his time with the Colts, but his numbers this season have been just plain bad. Gore only touched the ball nine times against Jacksonville last week and finished the day with 34 yards. To make matters worse, those types of numbers aren’t outside the norm for the future Hall of Fame inductee. Gore has scored only two touchdowns this season and only has one game where he’s rushed for more than 50 yards. With Marlon Mack seeing more carries it’s not hard to see Gore eventually become less and less involved. If you’re a Frank Gore owner you can’t start him against a tough Bengals run defense this week.
AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup – Indianapolis Colts
It’s a little unfair to throw AJ Green on this list, because he has been his usual dominant self at times this season. However, his production is obviously directly tied to Andy Dalton’s play, which has been inconsistent at best so far this year. Green only had three catches for 41 yards against the Steelers, which is not what you’re looking for out of an elite wide receiver. That being said, Green and Dalton should bounce back this week against a soft Indianapolis secondary.
Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers
The Packers are in big trouble. There was some optimism heading into this week against the Saints that Brett Hundley would be able to put up decent numbers against a weak defense. That was definitely not the case. In his first start, Hundley completed only 12 passes for 87 yards and an interception. As a result, Jordy Nelson only managed to bring in one catch for 13 yards. It’s not just Nelson either, as not one Green Bay receiver had a serviceable performance. The Packers bye week comes at a good time, but I’m hitting the eject button quick here. Find someone in your league that’s holding out hope and try to get some value for Nelson before it’s too late.
TY Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Matchup – Cincinnati Bengals
I honestly don’t know what to do with TY Hilton at this point. The news coming out last week with Andrew Luck suffering a set back and not resuming practice is extremely concerning. Jacoby Brissett is a fine backup quarterback, but he’s still just a backup. After two straight weeks of failing to bring in more than two passes for 30 yards it has to be about time to start thinking about benching Hilton. While he has had two impressive games of 153 and 177 yards, he’s only surpassed 50 receiving yards once in the other five games. I just don’t see Hilton getting back to being a consistent fantasy wide receiver until Luck is back, and I’m feeling pretty apprehensive about playing him this week against the Bengals.
Martellus Bennett – Green Bay Packers
Remember when you got excited about the news that Martellus Bennett was going to be playing with Aaron Rodgers this season? While was he a disappointment through the first five weeks, it’s time to panic if you own Martellus Bennett after seeing what this offense looks like with Brett Hundley at quarterback. The veteran tight end has less than 50 receiving yards in the last two weeks combined, and I’m surprised he’s still over 70% owned. If I’m a Bennett owner at this point I’m trying to trade or drop the guy for a better option.
Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans
The matchup between Cleveland and Tennessee last week was an absolute dumpster fire. I think it’s a little telling of Delanie Walker’s season when he’s coming off his second best game of the year after catching seven passes for 63 yards. It’s the first time since week two he’s had those types of numbers, and Walker has still not found the end zone as we approach the halfway point in the season. Combine Mariota’s struggles with the fact the veteran tight end is dealing with a bone bruise, and this situation gets worrisome quick. I’m not advocating dropping the guy by any means, but it may be time to admit that what we saw last week could be the ceiling for Delanie Walker moving forward.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
Matchup – Cleveland Browns
I’m convinced Case Keenum has some personal vendetta against Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph was a force at the tight end position last season and finished in the top five. Fast forward to this year, and he’s only scored two touchdowns and hasn’t surpassed 50 yards through seven games. It might just be time to accept the fact that this is what we need to expect from the big tight end until Sam Bradford makes his way back onto the field. Minnesota faces a surprisingly tough Cleveland defense this week, so I’m not optimistic that Rudolph breaks out of his slump in this one.
As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!