Fantasy

5 must starts & 5 pickups from your free agency lists

Credit LESLIE PLAZA JOHNSON/ICON SPORTSWIRE
Must Starts
1. Robbie Anderson, WR New York Jets. Normally I would be a bit sceptical (to say the least) about plugging in a Jets wideout into my fantasy matchup, however Robby
Anderson has exploded in Todd Bowles’ offense. Josh McCown’s favourite down-field threat has put up the type of numbers you would be thrilled with if you were starting Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Anderson has six touchdowns in his last five games! That’s crazy! He’s a certain WR1 against a Chiefs defense that have allowed the second most passing yards to wide receivers in the league this year. This Chiefs season is spiraling out of control and Robby Anderson is set to have a field day here. Not only that, but Anderson’s coming off a career high six receptions from ten targets for 146 yards and two TDs. If he’s on
your roster, get him in that WR1 spot. Lock him in there.
2. Jared Cook, TE Oakland Raiders. Last week was Jared Cook’s worst performance of the season, but expect him to bounce back with aplomb this week in a very favorable matchup against the New York Giants at home. The Giants have conceded the most in yards and lost ten TDs to the tight end position this season. With both Amari Cooper (concussion) and Michael Crabtree (suspended) missing from Oakland’s offense, expect Cook to see a chunk of the ball in this game as Derek Carr will be looking to other teammates to spur the Raiders to victory against Ben McAdoo’s Giants. The issue is that the Raiders may run the ball more with Marshawn Lynch rolling back the years and other WRs such as Cordarrelle Patterson and Seth Roberts looking to step up. Cook is definitely worth a punt, for this week anyway.
3. Alex Collins, RB Baltimore Ravens. Collins is listed as questionable with a calf injury for Sunday’s meeting with the Detroit Lions, but is expected to start. If he does, he’s down to see a good share of snaps in a Ravens team that need to push on now if they want to punch their ticket to a playoff spot in the AFC North. Collins has been trending upwards the last couple of weeks, averaging 18 rushing attacks in those games and also has a couple of touchdowns in that time. If he’s on your roster you may want to think about starting him, especially against the Lions’ run defense, which is 5th worst in the NFL. The issue could be the Ravens themselves. They remain very week-to-week, it’ll be difficult to say which Baltimore side will turn up, but the upside is greater than the downside in relation to Collins at least, he’s worth the chance in this matchup.
4. Rex Burkhead, RB New England Patriots. New England are now at full throttle heading towards the number one seed in the AFC (again). The next step on their road to the playoffs is on Sunday when they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a division clash. The Bills have a number of issues just now, but at least they know now that Tyrod Taylor wasn’t it. Having said that, they are still without an identity and will struggle against a dominant Patriots side that are hungry for a bye week in the playoffs. Burkhead has three TDs in as many weeks and confidence will be pouring against a Bills defense that have given up the third-most rushing yards to RBs and the most rushing TDs this season. The only issue is that there are a number of backs in New England that could see a heavy workload, but Burkhead remains favorable in the red zone.
5. Oakland Raiders, DEF. Why the Raiders defense? They haven’t been particularly great this season at all. Well, I have two words for you that will change your mind. Geno Smith. The Giants roll into town with a change of guard under center after Giants head coach Ben McAdoo decided this week to drop Eli Manning to the bench in favour of the former Jets QB. There’s no doubt that on occasion, Smith can throw some lovely passes downfield, but one of his issues is that the Giants are without Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and more than likely Sterling Shepard. Geno’s options are limited down field, so if he’s throwing the ball, expect a few INTs and expect a good performance from the Raiders D. If Oakland have any real ambition about making the playoffs, now is the time to show it.
Free Agents
1. Julius Thomas, TE Miami Dolphins. The tight end position has been erratic to say the least this season in terms of fantasy, however Thomas has been trending upwards the last month or so, since Matt Moore has come in at QB for the Dolphins. Thomas has seen an average of six targets a game in his last four weeks, plus two TDs in that time. He is also coming up against an ailing Broncos defense that have given up the most passing TDs in the league this year and second most in passing yards to players from the tight end position. If he’s still on your free agency list, go and pick him up now, he is a must start for Sunday.
2. Cordarrelle Paterson, WR Oakland Raiders. As previously mentioned, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are both missing the game, so this is a good matchup for Paterson against the New York Giants. The Giants season has imploded and it’s a case of damage limitation for the organization. Paterson will be getting the majority of looks downfield in this game along with TE Jared Cook, so expect some big numbers from Paterson against the Giants D that has averaged around 270 passing yards per game this year and
are in the bottom third in terms of yardage given up to WRs. The main issue with Cordarrelle Paterson is consistency. He could explode in weeks you wouldn’t expect him to and let you down in weeks he’s expected to do well, but with this matchup, he’s worth start as a WR3/Flex option this week.
3. Ricky Seals-Jones, TE Arizona Cardinals. If you’re looking around free agency at tight ends, why not take a chance on Ricky Seals-Jones. He has come to life in the last two weeks for the Cardinals. Seals-Jones has been a favorite target for Blaine Gabbert in the red zone for Arizona. I expect this to remain the case this week. Seals-Jones has three touchdowns from his last two games and Gabbert will need all the help downfield he can get against a resurgent Rams side under Sean McVay. The downside is that this will be Ricky Seals-Jones’ toughest match yet against the Rams and it remains to be seen if he can contribute on a regular basis, but he is worth it for his huge fantasy upside in his past couple of outings.
4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB San Francisco 49ers. CJ Beathard went out the 49ers game last week and up stepped Jimmy G who threw 5 of 5 passes, one of which was a touchdown. San Francisco fans can get excited about the prospect of a possible franchise QB in Garoppolo. He was thought very highly of at New England, but despite his best efforts, NE head coach Bill Belichick could not hold onto his backup QB. While niners fans should be excited by the introduction of Garappolo, if you’re thinking of picking him up in fantasy leagues, be aware that Garappolo is still new to Kyle Shanahan’s team and this offense. Despite Jimmy G’s perfect passer rating after coming into the game last week, it was a very small sample size and this week he comes up against the Chicago Bears defense last have allowed the 8th least in passing yards from QBs this season overall, but have been particularly dominant in their last few matches. It will be a challenge for Garappolo, of that there is no doubt, but he will have a huge upside to fantasy lineups and his team if he can perform.
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This one is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but Rodgers will be available in 10 and 12 team leagues and is worth a punt in the RB2 position for a couple of reasons. The most potent being the absence of Doug Martin in the Bucs backfield due to a concussion. Rodgers is likely to see a bulk of the workload with Martin out. He is also likely to out-touch Tampa’s other running back, Peyton Barber. With Jameis Winston back in the lineup for Week 13, it will be difficult to say if he is going to come back in and start slinging the ball downfield due to his right shoulder injury so could be forced to hand the ball off more. The downside is that when Doug Martin went out the game last week, Peyton Barber was the RB seeing the majority of the carries in the red zone, but in terms of touches,
Rodgers may be worth taking a chance on this week, especially in PPR leagues.
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