Man, what a week of football. From breakout performances (Robert Kelley) to devastating injuries, many owners are perplexed as to how they can improve their team with the fantasy playoffs looming nearer every day. After losing AJ Green, CJ Prosise, and Andrew Luck among others, many owners are struggling to find serviceable replacements. Below are this week’s picks.
Ryan Tannehill (Miami) — Though not the most popular man to start in fantasy circles, Tannehill has quietly put together back to back games of 2 throwing TDs each. His stats won’t usually wow, but with Jay Ajayi giving the Dolphins a solid rushing attack, Tannehill will have more chances to successfully get the ball down the field with opposing defenses selling out for the run. A juicy matchup against the 49ers should give owners a fair amount of confidence in starting Tannehill this week.
Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota) — A matchup against the Detroit Lions’ defense should alone suffice for picking up McKinnon, but there’s more to McKinnon then just a matchup. McKinnon has been receiving the majority of rushing attempts in the past weeks, and will look to capitalize on that this Thursday.
Wendell Smallwood (Philadelphia) — The add of the week in almost all formats, Smallwood has gained fantasy relevance by necessity. Though playing well in his few appearances this year, he was firmly entrenched in the 3rd string role on the Eagles’ depth chart behind Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles. However, this Sunday, it appeared that both of the Eagles’ main backs sustained injuries. If one or both can’t play, Smallwood instantly enters into the starting RB category. Compound this with the fact that the Eagles play a shoddy Green Bay defense that was torched for 40 points again this week by the Redskins, and you have yourself a solid RB. PICK HIM UP!
Marqise Lee (Jacksonville) — A familiar face to this column, I found it necessary to include Lee again on my “must adds.” Lee has consistently produced since being featured a few weeks ago, and managed to score another TD last week against Detroit. This week, he matches up against a middling Buffalo Bills defense. For all the success he has enjoyed over the course of the season, his ownership rating still sits at a low 4.4%. Add him if you’re in deep need of WR help.
Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati) — After the news broke that AJ Green will be out for the remainder of the season, everyone took a collective gasp. He has been a model of excellence over the past few years, and I hope he has a speedy recovery. In the meantime, fantasy owners should look to Tyler Boyd as the main wideout in Cincinnati now. The speedy youngster has shown some promise this year, and it’s time for him to really come into form against the Ravens this week.
Ted Ginn Jr. (Carolina) — Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been one of Ginn’s biggest critics until recently. For fantasy purposes, he was useless up until a couple weeks ago, because the Panthers only targeted him once or twice a game on a huge throw down the field. This led to weeks where Ginn would either put up a goose egg or a 20 spot. However, with Cam Newton trying to balance out the Carolina offense, Ginn has been given a healthy dose of targets each week, and he parlayed that into a TD last week. Look for Ginn to put up respectable numbers this week against the Raiders.
Vance McDonald (San Francisco) — After a shaky start to the season, McDonald has become Colin Kaepernick’s go-to target in the red zone. He’s scored in two of the past three weeks, so look for Vance to continue the trend this week against a poor Miami team, in a game that has all the looks of a shootout. With an ownership percentage at a minute 1.7%, it’s a wonder McDonald hasn’t been rostered in more leagues.
Nick Novak (Houston) — Going up against a porous San Diego defense, Houston will have little trouble putting up points. Consequently, Novak will get a large number of chances to put up points for YOUR fantasy team. Add him if you’re into that streaming-kicker jazz.
Defense of the Week
Cincinnati Bengals — The Bengals’ defense is what has kept them in games all season, and now with AJ Green gone, their defense becomes all the more important. The Bengals are going up against Baltimore this weekend in what figures to be an incredibly low-scoring game on both sides. With the Bengals likely available in your league, don’t be afraid to pick them up and start them.
Well, that’s all I have for this week. I hope everyone enjoyed the time off this weekend with their families eating copious amounts of turkey and watching a similarly large amount of football. Good luck to everyone this week, and don’t forget to add CJ Fiedorowicz!