Quarterback is really interesting to me this week, as I feel there is no “must play”. To me, this feels like a week where we can build our roster and then fill-in QB last with whoever fits in. Ultimately, I will update my thoughts here Saturday night when I figure out where I’m leaning, but for now the names I’m considering are Drew Brees and Lamar Jackson. As you will soon read, I think this week sets up as a massive pass-heavy week for the Saints and if Brees has to throw 28+ times he will absolutely crush. As for Lamar Jackson, it appears he will get the starting nod in this game as Joe Flacco was bumped to doubtful, but they also said they could mix in RG3 for some series or packages. That’s kind of tough to trust for cash games, but he’s so cheap it doesn’t matter as much as it normally would.
Top Tier: Ezekiel Elliott/Saquon Barkley- Both of these guys are in extremely good spots, with Zeke taking on the Falcons and Barkley at home against the Buccaneers. The Falcons have given up under 20 fantasy points to an opposing running back just once this season, and they are fresh off letting Nick Chubb absolutely destroy them. Elliott’s passing game usage has been there as well, and it’s going to be really hard for me to not play Zeke this weekend. Barkley has topped 100 all-purpose yards eight times already this season, speaking to his floor, and he sets up as a home-favorite due for some touchdown regression. I have these guys pretty much equal, and it’s going to make for some tough decisions.
Mid Tier: David Johnson- I got David Johnson right last week, and he was like 4-5% owned in cash games, I’m expecting that to change pretty drastically this week. The usage under Byron Leftwich has been extremely encouraging, and he saw nine targets last week, and now he matched up with a Raiders team who has been gashed on the ground all season and has clearly threw in the white towel on this season. Ideally, I’d like to pair one of the above backs with Johnson, but if I have to choose one it’s probably DJ for the price.
Low Tier: Dion Lewis- After a classic chalk bust last week, I, and the masses, will be going back to Dion Lewis for dirt cheap once again. Although he busted, he still out=snapped Derrick Henry, out-carried him 22-11, and was clearly the lead back once again. Henry stole a one yard touchdown, and then another in the wildcat, but Lewis’ was on the field more and that’s all that matters to me. The Colts are allowing the second-most running back catches this season, and I don’t see them stopping him like the Patriots did. Another viable option in this tier is Alex Collins, who has grown on me as the week has gone on.
Top Tier: Michael Thomas- The Eagles are already one of the most attackable secondaries in the NFL, and now they are down three starting corner backs. Thomas has seen a ridiculous 27.5% of the Saints team targets, sporting a near 90% catch rate on the season. The volume is going to be there given how good the Eagles run-defense is compared to their secondary, and it would be foolish to think Sean Payton won’t be able to exploit this. As the week has gone on, I’ve realized how much of a lock Thomas is and I will not be fading him in cash games.
Mid Tier: TY Hilton/Amari Cooper- I love this tier this week, with Hilton set up in a smash spot at home and Amari Cooper finally getting the volume he deserves. It’s been a while since we had a classic TY Hilton game, and this sets up as one at home against the Titans who have given up some monster games to opposing WR1’s. If Frank Reich is able to scheme TY Hilton onto Malcom Butler, he is going to potentially break the slate and to ease your concerns, he’s top-five in the NFL in targets inside the 10 yard line. Cooper has seen eight and 10 targets since joining the Cowboys, and has a great matchup with the Atlanta Falcons who we have picked on all season. I’d like to get both of these guys in, but I’m not sure if it will be possible.
Low Tier: Tre’Quan Smith- There’s not a lot to like at the low tier of WR this week, so I think we can potentially take a shot at Tre’Quan Smith once again. I know, I know, he’s let us down before, but this Eagles secondary is so bad, and so banged up, I have to consider him. He’s coming off a weird game, he wasn’t targeted but he also played a season-high in snaps. He has huge big play potential and nobody in this secondary will be able to keep up with him, so if I need the savings I’m comfortable taking the risk.
Zach Ertz- Ertz sets up as a fantastic play against the Saints, and I’d love to be able to roster him and potentially run back a Brees-Thomas stack in cash games. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be possible to use him unless going Lamar Jackson, so I’m not sure if I will end up having him despite him clearly being the top tight end play by a mile.
Vance McDonald- I hate using this guy in cash games because he is still a part-time player, but the risk is minimized given how thin tight end is. You have to attack this Jaguars defense over the middle, and Ben targeted Vance 16 times in their playoff loss against Jacksonville last season. He has upside, which is huge for a tight end, and if he falls into the end zone you are golden.
D/ST Options: Chargers, Cardinals, Ravens
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)