By: Ryan Hawks (@RyanWorldEater)
Another week of football, another week of decisions on who teams think will eat in their lineup, and who will just bunk out on the bench. At the halfway point of the fantasy season, it becomes even more important to start the right guys. Here’s some good and bad matchups for running backs and quarterbacks this week.
He’s back! Adrian Peterson made his debut with the Arizona Cardinals in style. They gave him reigns, and he led them to victory. We saw vintage AP on display, making some wonder if there is some kind of fountain of youth that Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been hiding from the rest of the league.
Peterson was able to eat again, getting 26 carries and turning them into 134 yards and two touchdowns. He looks like a perfect fill in for David Johnson and the Cardinals power run game. Now, he gets a golden matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, who are giving up the most points in the league to opposing running backs.
Don’t be surprised if Adrian Peterson gets even more yards than last week as the desert birds feed their hungry back who has a perpetual chip on his shoulder. Teams that were lucky enough to get him on waivers, or dumb enough to keep him, don’t let him sit on the bench.
Guess who’s also back? Now that Peterson’s short stay in New Orleans is finished, Mark Ingram is back to being the lead back for the Saints. He’s still splitting carries with rookie Alvin Kamara, but he looks to be the unquestioned top dog, and will get the goal line carries.
Last week he got 25 carries and turned them into 114 yards and two touchdowns. He probably won’t get that kind of volume every week, but the Saints defense is improving, so he is going to get positive game scripts a lot more than he used to.
This week should be one of them. Ingram is going up against the Green Bay Packers defense, who are allowing over 100 yards a game. To make matters worse, without franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers offense doesn’t look like it stands a chance against Drew Brees and company. This game could get out of hand and Ingram could see a similar stat line to last week. Start him again without hesitation.
The Carolina Panthers backfield has a real problem. Last week, against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Panthers running backs averaged an embarrassing 2.8 inches per carry. At least overall they went forward a little bit. Jonathan Stewart somehow had eight carries for -4 yards last week. How is that even possible?
Some backs end with negative yards on a few carries, but eight is plenty of chances to get into the positives. In matchups where Stewart was the only player between two teams, those that started him somehow came out of it losing, even though their opponent had zero points.
Needless to say, Stewart needs to be benched until further notice. On the season, he is down to 2.9 YPC, so it’s not like this game was just a anomaly. He hasn’t performed, and really isn’t worth taking a chance on even as a touchdown dependent back. He’s someone teams might want to think of trading away based on name value before he loses even that with another dismal performance.
Another ball carrier to stay away from this week is Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery. Montgomery looked much better than expected entering his first full season at halfback, but things can change very quickly in NFL. Now he’s not in as good a position as he was just two weeks ago.
For one, he’s playing on bad ribs. Last week, he wore a heavy jacket to protect himself, and split carries pretty evenly with rookie Aaron Jones. That’s not even the worst of. Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, and is likely out for the season. This could destroy Montgomery’s value moving forward.
Now defenses are likely to just stack the box and not respect him. This was already evident in Montgomery’s 2.8 YPC last game against the Minnesota Vikings. New Orleans defense has improved this season too, so it’s best to keep Montgomery, and his backfield buddy Aaron Jones out of lineups this week.
Dallas Cowboys signal caller Dak Prescott has been on fire this season, never scoring less than 17 points in a game. This is even including 17.92 against Denver Broncos vaunted “No Fly Zone.” He might come back to earth after steadily increasing his fantasy totals each week, peaking at a ridiculous 30.74, but if his floor is 17 points, that’s still a pretty good number.
This week, he’ll likely stay closer to his ceiling. He is fresh off a bye and going against San Francisco’s horrible defense. They’ve given up the 7th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Some might remember Jared Goff ripping them apart on Thursday Night Football in week three, throwing for three touchdowns and 292 yards.
To make things better for him, Ezekiel Elliot is set to play this week, after getting his suspension delayed by a judge in New York. This means teams will focus on in stopping Elliot, opening up throwing lanes for Prescott. He’s set for another big game.
Last week we had Tennesse Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota listed as a sit, and although he didn’t exactly go off, he did pretty well considering he was obviously still hobbled from his hamstring injury. Confined to the pocket, he managed to complete 23 of 32 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Now he goes up against Cleveland, who have been practically handing opposing quarterbacks stats, especially mobile ones. Jacoby Brissett scored two rushing touchdowns, and threw for one more in week three. Deshaun Watson couldn’t be contained, throwing for three scores against them last week.
Mariota should be healthier after a week of rest, and ready to go this week. It’s likely the Titans go back to their usual game plans, which means Mariota’s ceiling and floor go up due to his rushing prowess. He should finally start to produce the numbers people thought he would when teams drafted him.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned to the field last Sunday after only missing one game. It was a surprise, and many wondered if he was ready or not. While he did not look very limited physically, it was obvious that there was some mental hesitation by both him and the coaching staff.
Save for his lone touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, Carr refused to push the ball downfield, reverting from the gunslinger that got him his huge contract, to Captain Checkdown. Whether Carr was scared of getting hit by the Los Angeles Chargers potent pass rush duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, or the coaching staff protecting their investment, the result left a lot to be desired.
This week Carr goes up the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that always seems to have his number. In his last game against the Chiefs, Carr went 17 of 41 for 117 yards. Putting that in perspective, that’s a 41.5% completion percentage and a horrid 2.9 YPA. Carr’s comeback is going to have to wait another week. Leave him on the bench.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston left last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. He says he will play this week, but fantasy teams should look elsewhere at the quarterback position this week.
Who knows how limited Winston will be, and so far, he has only put in very limited practices. In addition to that, the Bills defense has been surprisingly stingy to quarterbacks this season. Opposing passers have only scored two passing touchdowns, and committed eight interceptions against the Bills. This is not a good matchup, especially since Winston’s weakness is already throwing interceptions.
With a bad matchup and a bad throwing shoulder for Winston, the Bucs likely lean on Doug Martin, who’s been great since his return from suspension. Teams might want to look for a streaming option at quarterback this week if Winston is the only one on their roster.