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.
Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
Matchup – Washington Redskins
Here is the Russell Wilson we all know and love. First of all, what a game between the Texans and Seahawks (guess who’s second on the list?). This game was supposed to be a defensive struggle for both teams. Instead we got to see a combined 79 points scored, and Wilson had one hell of a game. The veteran set a new career high with 452 yards and threw for four touchdowns against Houston. If you take those numbers and combine them with his stat line against New York the week before Wilson has thrown for 786 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception over the last two games. These are the types of numbers we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing. At this point it almost feels like Pete Carroll as just accepted that this team has no run attack. If you take away Wilson’s 30 yards on the ground, then Seattle rushed for a combined three yards on 17 attempts. Yes, you read that correctly. Hell, Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls had six carries apiece and lost one yard on those 12 carries. At this point it’s full speed ahead on Russell Wilson against the Redskins this week. He’s their only hope.
Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
Matchup – Indianapolis Colts
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d stop including Deshaun Watson until he had a down game. However, this was supposed to be that down game. It simply wasn’t. My sincere apologies to anyone that I advised to sit the rookie phenomenon this week, but I will not make that mistake again. Watson is an every week starter moving forward regardless of the matchup. He threw for 402 yards against Seattle and completed four touchdown passes. While three interceptions hampered his fantasy output a bit, that is easily forgiven. Look for Watson to do it again this week against a subpar Indianapolis defense.
Josh McCown – New York Jets
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
I never thought I’d see myself talking about how well Josh McCown has played in a Jets uniform, but it’s been that kind of a year in the NFL. The veteran signal caller has strung together three strong performances in recent weeks and just threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons. McCown’s strong showing over the last three games is a little startling considering the lack of talent he’s working with. Unfortunately, I think his hot streak may come to a halt this week against the Bills. Buffalo has been one of the best defenses in the league this season, and I’m just not very optimistic that we’ll see another startable outing from McCown. He’ll be a useful streaming option throughout the season, however, and is definitely worth snagging if you’re needing help at quarterback.
Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings
Ok, Jerick McKinnon owners can breathe a sigh of relief now. After a rough showing against the Ravens he picked up right where he left off last week against Cleveland. This confirms that this backfield didn’t suddenly turn into the Latavius Murray show, which is what I assumed wasn’t the case. While McKinnon’s carries and rushing totals were almost identical in back to back weeks, the big difference is his involvement as a receiver out of the backfield. He had three catches for 10 yards against Baltimore. Against the Browns he reeled in six catches for 72 yards. There’s no reason to think that McKinnon won’t be a focal point in this offense considering his production over the last four games. He’ll face the Redskins after the bye week, and if you’ve got the guy you’re playing him.
Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens
Matchup – Tennessee Titans
This backfield is the absolute worst to try to navigate. There’s just no way to predict which one of these guys is going to have a big game. First it was Terrence West. Then it was Buck Allen. Now Alex Collins is looking like a featured back. If we take a closer look at the stat sheet, Collins only edged out Allen with one more carry. The clear difference is the total yards each one of them had. Collins rumbled his way to 113 yards against Miami and looked good doing so. I’d like to say this is a sign of things to come, but I’ve said that before with this backfield. If Collins is available in your league I think he’s worth grabbing. However, this may be the biggest game we see out of him this year. Then again, this could be a sign of things to come. Who knows at this point.
Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts
Matchup – Houston Texans
I realize that Marlon Mack didn’t exactly explode last week. However, the rookie running back just looks like a more explosive option for Indianapolis than Frank Gore. Gore is still getting his fair share of work and even set a season high in total yards against the Bengals last week. Unfortunately, it’s looked like the veteran has been running on empty for a good portion of this season. Mack is worth an add if you can grab him in your league. This matchup against the Texans doesn’t bode well for Gore as this defense just held both Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls for a combined negative one yard on 12 carries last week. If the Colts have to throw to stay in this game, then I think that plays into Marlon Mack’s favor.
Will Fuller – Houston Texans
Matchup – Indianapolis Colts
Ok, this is getting a little out of hand. This is generally where I look at a player and make some sort of statement about how this type of production isn’t sustainable. Well I can’t say that about Will Fuller, because I said it two weeks ago. And boy was I wrong. There just isn’t any stopping this kid. Fuller now has 13 receptions this season. He has also scored seven touchdowns. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. The sophomore receiver has also increased his yardage total each week and may have peaked against Seattle with 125 yards through the air. At this point there’s just no point in sitting this kid. Especially against the Colts this week. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.
Juju Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
We’ve got to come up with an acronym or some sort of alternate name for this kid. Regardless, Juju Smith-Schuster made his name known last Sunday night and had everyone thinking, “Man, Martavis Bryant screwed up”. The rookie finished the day with seven receptions for 193 yards and a touchdown, which should cement his role in this offense moving forward. With all of the controversy surrounding Bryant it had to have been a breath of fresh air for Mike Tomlin to see Smith-Schuster put on such an impressive show. Look for the rookie to be the hottest waiver wire commodity in your league this week as Pittsburgh heads into their bye.
Robby Anderson – New York Jets
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
Robby Anderson was the favorite among most fantasy analysts to lead the Jets in receiving after losing Quincy Enunwa. While he’s had his ups and downs, Anderson has quietly strung together three solid consecutive performances and had his best game of the season against Atlanta last week. He finished the day with six receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown and seems to be settling into his role as to go to receiver in New York’s offense. Some of Anderson’s success can be attributed to Josh McCown playing at a high level as well. Unfortunately, we may see him come back down to earth this week against the Bills. Buffalo’s defense has been dominate this season, so I don’t see another 100 yard performance coming from Anderson.
Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
Matchup – Houston Texans
While it may be an exaggeration to say that this was kind of production that I expected out of Jack Doyle this season, I certainly thought he’d be more consistent. That is, unfortunately, what happens with Jacoby Brissett under center instead of Andrew Luck. Doyle had his best game of the season by far against the Bengals last week as he reeled in 12 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers are certainly encouraging, I’m not sure we’ll see a repeat this week against Houston. I would expect that he’ll see more looks from Brissett, but another 121 yard performance is not likely.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
There’s really not much more to say about Kyle Rudolph other than what I’ve said in the past. At this point if you’re a Rudolph owner you’re just hoping that he finds the end zone. A top five tight end a year ago, Rudolph has struggled at times this season and isn’t very heavily utilized by Case Keenum. While Rudolph did find the end zone last week against the Browns, he was only able to rack up 27 yards on six catches. He’s still a serviceable tight end for fantasy purposes and is likely going to give you middle of the road production most weeks unless he finds the end zone. Expect more of the same out of Rudolph against the Redskins after the Minnesota’s bye week.
Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons
Matchup – Carolina Panthers
What does is say about the tight end position that I had to dig up Austin Hooper for this list? In looking at his stats over the last few weeks, Hooper has actually been more involved in Atlanta’s passing game than I realized. If we look over his one catch six yard outing against New England, then the second year tight end has at least four catches for 45 yards in three out of the last four games. Those aren’t terrible numbers at the tight end position. While his touchdown against the Jets last week was his first time in the end zone since his huge performance in the first week of the season, Hooper has been targeted enough by Matt Ryan to become a relevant option for fantasy purposes. I’m not particularly sold that he’ll be able to keep it up against the Panthers this week, but crazier things have happened.
Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Matchup – Atlanta Falcons
I just don’t understand what is happening with Cam Newton. After a sluggish start he seemed to be turning things in weeks four and five when he threw for a combined 670 yards and six touchdowns. However, in the last three games Cam has failed to throw for over 250 yards and has thrown two touchdowns while being responsible for seven turnovers. What’s maddening is there isn’t one single aspect of this team that you can point to and determine the issue. I honestly don’t think I’m comfortable playing Newton until he turns things around, regardless of the matchup. Normally facing the Falcons at home would be reason for a little optimism, but I think we’re passed that at this point.
Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matchup – New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston has to be more banged up than he’s let on previously. Prior to last week and not counting the contest where he left early with injury, Winston had four straight games with at least 325 passing yards and threw for multiple touchdowns in all but one matchup. That’s a far cry from the 210 yard, three turnover performance we saw last week against the Panthers. The good news is Winston’s struggles should be short lived. Tampa Bay will face the Saints this week, which should be a friendlier matchup. The Buccaneer offense is loaded with talent, and Famous Jameis should be able to effectively utilize them this week.
Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
Matchup – Seattle Seahawks
It seems a little unfair to put Kirk Cousins on this list after one bad week, but this is a fickle business we’re in. Cousins ended the day against the Cowboys with 263 yards with one touchdown and two turnovers. Thankfully, I put his struggles more on the weather than anything. If you watched that game you know what I mean. It seemed like it rained seven inches just while they were playing. Regardless of the poor weather Cousins still left much to be desired, and I don’t think we see him get back on track this week. Washington travels to Seattle to take on the Seahawks this week. While we just saw Deshaun Watson pick apart this defense, I don’t think we see that happen two weeks in a row. Cousins should be able to put up decent numbers, but I wouldn’t have very high expectations.
Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
Matchup – Carolina Panthers
Devonta Freeman came out of the gates swinging to start the season, and it looked like that big contract Atlanta gave him was worth the money. However, Freeman (and the Falcons in general) has looked incredibly average over the last three games since coming off a bye week. While his yardage totals have been mostly fine, Atlanta’s primary running back has failed to find the end zone since week four after scoring five touchdowns in the first four games. One big issue I see is Freeman simply isn’t getting as many carries as he did to start the season. After carrying the ball at least 18 times in three straight weeks, he’s not seen more than 12 carries since then. Whatever the issue is I don’t see Freeman turning things around this week against a stout Panthers run defense.
Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins
Matchup – Oakland Raiders
Adam Gase called his offense the worst in the National Football League in his post game press conference last week. After watching the Dolphins get completely shut out against the Ravens last Thursday night it’s hard to disagree with that statement. Part of the problem starts with Jay Ajayi. Last year’s breakout star rushed for 23 yards on 13 carries against Baltimore. That’s 1.7 yards per carry, which is astonishingly terrible. I’d be much less concerned if this was the first time we’d seen this sort of flop from Ajayi, but these types of numbers are becoming the norm. I think at this point I’m waiting for another 100 yard game and trying to get rid of the guy to the highest bidder. I’d like to say he’s got a chance the bounce back against the Raiders, but I’m just not very confident.
Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers
Matchup – Arizona Cardinals
I feel like this always happens with Carlos Hyde. He’ll start the season off strong, and you’ll pat yourself on the back thinking what a steal you got in your draft. Then he’ll have a bad game, and you brush it off. Finally, you realize the wheels are starting to come off the wagon as you look at the daunting schedule Hyde has over the last half on the season. Hyde managed to gain only 25 yards on 12 carries in a blowout loss against the Eagles, which marks the third time in four games that he’s failed to rush for more 30 yards. Unfortunately, I don’t see things turning around any time soon. The 49ers will face the Cardinals, Seahawks, and Bears in three out of their next four games. There’s not much cause for optimism here.
AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals
Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars
I really thought AJ Green would put on a show last week against the Colts. Instead he had a season low 27 yards and three receptions. While a touchdown salvaged his day from a fantasy perspective, these last two weeks have been rough for fantasy owners. Andy Dalton still hasn’t really gotten over the hump this season, so it’s hard to place the blame squarely on Green’s shoulders. While I think he’ll be fine down the stretch, it doesn’t seem like Green is the plug and play fantasy option that we’ve all grown to love. That’s especially true this week against a drastically improved Jacksonville defense. Green will get a healthy dose of Jalen Ramsey, so I’d temper my expectations on him bouncing back in this one.
Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers
One of my bold predictions in the offseason was that Keenan Allen would stay healthy and finish the season as a top five wide receiver. While the first part of that statement has held up, Allen better kick things into high gear if he’s going to finish as even a top 15 wide receiver. Scoring touchdowns has never been his forte, but the fact that Allen has only found the end zone once in eight games is concerning when you also take into consideration that he has only two games under his belt with more than 70 receiving yards this season. Granted he had 100 yards or more in those two contests, but that’s just not enough when you consider the expectations most people had before the season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that Allen will get things going after the Chargers bye either. With back to back matchups against the Jaguars and Bills, I’d expect to see more of the same in his production.
Pierre Garcon – Sam Francisco 49ers
Matchup – Arizona Cardinals
There’s something to be said for being the number one receiver without much competition for targets. Sadly, there’s also something to be said for having Brian Hoyer and CJ Beathard throwing you passes as well. However, literally as I’m writing this the news as broke that San Francisco will be bringing in Jimmy Garoppolo from New England. Time will tell how long it will take for him to settle in, but this automatically boosts Garcon’s upside. The trade may help the veteran receiver who has failed to find the end zone this season and has only three games with over 80 yards. Stay tuned on this one.
Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers
I was singing Hunter Henry’s praises just a couple of weeks ago, so this may seem like a knee jerk reaction. However, when Henry falls off he falls hard. After four consecutive games with either at least 70 yards or a touchdown, the second year tight end caught only two passes against the Patriots for eleven yards. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised considering the struggles this offense has had in general at times this season, but Henry seemed to be trending into weekly starter territory considering his consistency over recent weeks. As I mentioned with Keenan Allen, the future doesn’t look especially bright for Henry. With tough matchups against the Jaguars and Bills on the horizon I think you’re better suited finding fantasy production elsewhere for at least a few weeks.
Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
Matchup – Seattle Seahawks
There are times in fantasy football where you have to ask yourself, “What’s in a name?”. For example: are you holding onto a particular player because you think they’ll do well, or is that player on your roster simply because they’ve been a well known commodity in the past? Eli Manning and Eddie Lacy are excellent examples of this. Another example would be Jordan Reed. Generally thought of as one of the best three tight ends in football, Reed has struggled to stay on the field in his career. The big difference this season is he has done very little to help his team despite only missing a game and a half so far. While he was injured last week against Dallas, Reed has only one game this year with more than 50 yards and both of his touchdowns came in the same game. This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but at this point I think you can drop Jordan Reed. Or at the very least try to trade him. He faces the Seahawks and Vikings in back to back weeks, so I’m at least sitting him in the short term.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – New York Jets
Matchup – Buffalo Bills
This is exactly what I’ve been worried about with Austin Seferian-Jenkins. His success from a fantasy football perspective is entirely based on touchdowns. He simply doesn’t rack up enough yardage to be a useful fantasy tight end otherwise. Let’s just say that ASJ didn’t score three touchdowns in three consecutive weeks. He’d have 8, 12, and 5 fantasy points in those games in a PPR scoring format. He hasn’t had more than 50 receiving yards in a game yet this season, so its end zone or bust if you’re playing this guy. Which I would advise against this week. Buffalo’s defense is as tough as they come, and I think we’ll see similar yardage totals but without the usual touchdown we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
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!