Friends, sit down. It’s story time. We’ll get to bounce back candidates in a moment, but I need to take this chance to vent about some fantasy football anomalies that have become a millstone around my neck.
I am in a small, 8-team league with some friends of mine, and it’s the league I care most about winning. Last year, I managed to rally from 0-3 to finish 10-4 before pulling a Bengals and losing the first game of the playoffs. Naturally, I wanted to build on this success, so I went into fantasy overdrive. Preparing. Researching. Mock drafting.
This year, I lead my division in scoring. In fact, I am the third highest scorer in the league. So, of course, it stands to reason that I am bottom of my division, and second from bottom in the overall standings with a 3-7 record.
I have lost THREE FREAKING GAMES by a point or less, and two of those games have been against THE SAME GUY. In our two matches, he has won both with a COMBINED winning margin of 1.5 points. He also happens to be the guy leading our division. The best part? He has a points differential of MINUS 85 POINTS for the year. *Cue angry swearing*
Rant over (in this post, at least). Let’s talk about players who underwhelmed last week, but will be awesome this week.
QB – Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have suffered a fall of grace that has been as sudden as it has been graceless. Their struggles have seen Carson Wentz’s fantasy production dip dramatically in his return from injury last year. There are a number of issues on this team, but Wentz is not one of them.
The Eagles have faced a number of above-average secondaries, but are about to walk into an indoor matchup with the offensive leviathan that is the New Orleans Saints. Don’t be fooled by the Bengals game – this Saints secondary has been, and will continue to be, very #notgood.
This has the potential to be a shootout, and there aren’t many better venues for a shootout than the Superdome. Expect Wentz to turn in his best fantasy performance of the season by a significant margin.
RB – Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
If you played Tarik Cohen last week, you got bailed out by a touchdown, so he still turned in a decent performance. But regardless of the result, Cohen was a risky play. The formula for playing Cohen is simple. If the Bears are playing a bad team (Jets, Bills, Lions), you do not want to play him. If the Bears are playing a good team – or at least a team that will score lots of points (Patriots, Bucs), then play Tarik Cohen.
This week, against the Vikings, you need to be playing Cohen. The Bears have had three consecutive games where they’ve been free to beat up on bad teams, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Cohen’s usage has dropped. The Vikings are not a bad team, which means that Chicago will need to actually try and win – which means Tarik Cohen will be more involved.
Even better, Minnesota boasts a frightening defensive front seven, and a talented secondary – a potent cocktail for checkdowns to one of the most electric pass-catching running backs in the NFL. Expect a definitive return to form for Cohen this week.
WR – Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
Remember everything I said about Carson Wentz? That goes double for Alshon Jeffery. If you had told me last year that Jeffery was going to be matched up with Marshon Lattimore in the Saints secondary, I would have been concerned. Lattimore was an All-Pro, shutdown corner last year. This year, Lattimore has allowed a passer rating of 116.1 when he’s been targeted.
Lattimore just isn’t the same player he was last year, and Jeffery is the prime beneficiary of Lattimore’s sophomore regression. In a game where we can expect the Eagles to be in scoring positions often, you want to be starting a player who commands 27% of his team’s red zone targets, and 31% of his team’s end zone targets. Jeffery is primed for a big game, and you do not want his explosion to happen on your bench. You have no time for bench points. You have a matchup to win. Win it with Jeffery.
TE – Trey Burton, Chicago Bears
It’s far, far too obvious to promote Travis Kelce as a bounce-back candidate this week, and I have no desire to ever write anything about James O’Shaughnessy, so guess what? We’re going back to Chicago to hype up Trey Burton.
Trey Burton has 8 catches in the redzone this year. That’s 8th best among tight ends this year. Trey Burton has generated 1.98 yards of separation per target this year. That’s 7th best among tight ends. Trey Burton has given Mitchell Trubisky a passer rating of 129 when he’s been targeted this year. That’s 9th best among tight ends. Trey Burton is #GoodAtFootball.
Minnesota? Minnesota has given up 90+ yards to a tight end four times this year. They allowed Jimmy Graham to rack up 95 yards in Week 2. Yes, they allowed a 31-year-old Jimmy Graham to rinse them for 95 yards. Trey Burton is an easy play this week. So play him.
by Ben Barton – @Baron_Barton