Bye weeks are coming to an end, and were starting to set our sights on the fantasy playoffs two weeks from now. Only four teams are on their open date (BAL, JAX, DAL and NYJ). We still have a few potential shootouts on tap, with Vegas projecting DAL at ST
QB Robert Griffin III vs. Bucs ($7400): RGIII has to be the top streamer of the week. He looked healthy in his Week 9 return, as evidenced by the number of roll-outs and read-option plays called by coach Jay Gruden. RGIII has had to two weeks to rest and now gets the Bucs atrocious secondary that could be without top CB Alterraun Verner (hamstring) again this week. Even if Verner plays, RGIII will remain a strong play because Verner has been terrible. The Bucs field the leagues 31st-ranked pass defense and have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. RGIII also has one of the most talented receiving corps. Hes a borderline QB1 who has a very favorable fantasy playoffs schedule with the Colts, Rams, Giants, and Eagles lined up for Weeks 13-16. RGIII is worth grabbing in all formats.
QB Mark Sanchez at Packers ($6900): Some refuse to believe in Sanchez, and thats fair. But he looked good on Monday night, and coach Chip Kelly knows how to play to Sanchezs strengths. Even after his strong Week 10, Sanchezs price rose just $300 on FanDuel. He remains a huge bargain with mid-range QB1 upside. The Packers play strong pass defense, but this game projects as a shootout with a 55-point over-under. 300-plus yards and a couple touchdowns is attainable, even if it comes with a turnover. Sanchez is going to bring back value. After Week 11, Sanchez will face four straight top-ten fantasy pass defenses.
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RB Jeremy Hill at Saints ($6500): Giovani Bernard (hip) is fully expected to miss at least one more game. And the schedule remains soft for the Bengals rushing attack. On deck are three straight bottom-12 fantasy run defenses in New Orleans, Houston, and Tampa Bay. Look for the Saints to force Andy Dalton to beat them and concentrate on Hill and the run game after Daltons bed-wetting against Cleveland last week. But the Browns have a more talented pass defense, so Dalton should find more throwing lanes especially if New Orleans is minus top CB Keenan Lewis (knee). In turn, that would open up more alleys for Hill, who is fully capable of handling 20-plus touches. Owners need not to be scared off by Hills 55-yard effort in Week 10. Hes a legit RB1/2.
RB Ryan Mathews vs. Raiders ($6200): Mathews has missed seven games with a sprained MCL. But hes been practicing for weeks and is set to make his return against Oakland with San Diego coming off its bye. If hes not 100 percent, Mathews is close to it. Hes fully expected to slide right back into the lead-back job on first and second downs, with Branden Oliver playing the Danny Woodhead role. Ace beat writer Michael Gehlken expects Mathews to handle around 15 touches based on game flow. Well, this game could get out of hand in favor of San Diego with the Bolts in dire need of a victory, which could then lead to more carries for Mathews in the second half. 18 carries for 80-plus yards and a touchdown is doable. Mathews needs to be owned in all leagues and fired up as a strong RB2 play in this AFC West tilt.
RB Trent Richardson vs. Patriots ($5700): Youre going to want to own someone from the highest projected shootout (58-point over-under) of the season. Both teams are going to want to throw the ball all over the yard, but look for the Colts to try and take advantage of a New England run defense that is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. Richardson gets the starts in the Indianapolis backfield and is a good bet for at least 12 touches. While Ahmad Bradshaw is the preferred play, Richardson will likely see a couple goal-line looks. Wed be more than happy with 60-70 total yards and a touchdown. That would be tremendous value on FanDuels 44th-highest-priced running back for Week 11.
RB Jerick McKinnon at Bears ($5500): Directly under Trent Richardson on the FanDuel pricing chart at running back this week is McKinnon. The rookie is still looking for his first NFL touchdown, and its going to be up to him to break one off because the Vikings plug Matt Asiata into the backfield when they get close to the end zone. I feel pretty confident McKinnon will find pay dirt against the Bears. The Chicago linebackers and safeties cant cover anyone, and we saw it last Sunday night when Eddie Lacy of all people took a screen pass 56 yards to the house. McKinnon would run circles around Lacy, and thats no knock on Lacy. McKinnon is a legitimate RB2 whos had zero trouble picking up yards. Hes going to be looking to have a big game with Adrian Peterson knocking on the door of a possible return in Week 12.
RB Benny Cunningham vs. Broncos ($5400): Cunningham is a lock for 6-10 touches, and hes found the end zone in 4-of-6 games since the Rams bye. Hes the running back the Rams trust most in pass protection and on third downs, and hes also the one who gets the key looks near the goal line. With less mobile Shaun Hill at quarterback, DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller coming off the edges, Id expect Cunningham to out-snap Tre Mason on Sunday. Cunningham will be Hills outlet. He hasnt touched the ball more than 10 times in a game this season, but could surpass that this week with the Rams likely to get blown out and forced to pass. Hill is a checkdown artist with no downfield pass-game options in St. Louis. Cunningham is the ultimate dart-throw. There are worse options at running back.
WR Marques Colston vs. Bengals ($6100): Colston has averaged just four targets per game the past three weeks, so this isnt a play for the faint of heart. Bengals slot CB Leon Hall missed Week 10 with a concussion, but is expected back Sunday. Before getting hurt, Hall had been one of the worst cover corners in the league the previous few weeks. Allen Hurns burned Hall for 4-79-1 in Week 9, and T.Y. Hilton beat him for 4-81 two weeks prior. Colston had opportunities for big plays last week, but couldnt corral a pass that wouldve gone for an 81-yard score. The Saints are at home again where the offense as a whole plays much better. Colston is a WR4 with some upside.
WR Rueben Randle vs. 49ers ($6100): Randle falls into that category with Michael Floyd and Justin Hunter as guys we continue to wait on for big games. Unlike Floyd and Hunter, Randle sees consistent targets; hes seen at least nine passes come his way in 6-of-7 games since Week 2. Now, the 49ers are down top CB Tramaine Brock and may also be without slot CB Jimmie Ward, forcing other players into action. Randle has fallen behind Odell Beckham as the Giants unquestioned No. 1 receiver, but theres still gobs of talent here. He just has to harness it. Eli Manning will continue to give Randle opportunities to make plays. The 49ers have been susceptible to the pass. Randle remains a boom-or-bust WR3 with boom potential Sunday.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson at Bears ($6000): Patterson is another guy were waiting on. After totaling 96 yards in Week 8, Patterson came crashing back down in Week 9 with just nine yards on one catch. The Vikings continue to say they want Petterson more involved on offense, so maybe they used the bye week to draw some plays up for him. The Bears cant cover, tackle, or play the run, leaving the Vikings playmakers as interesting fantasy options. Packers WRs were running free all night last Sunday. Patterson is a headache, but one worth the gamble against Chicago.
WR Andrew Hawkins vs. Texans ($5300): Hawkins missed last Thursday nights game against the Bengals with a thigh/knee issue, but said he was close to playing. Hes now at just about 100 percent and gets a date with a Texans pass defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points to receivers. Hawkins plays the slot about 55 percent of the time, so hes going to see enough of Texans CB Andre Hal, whos been torched for 11-185-2 the past three games. Houstons regular slot CB Kareem Jackson remains sidelined with a knee injury. Hawkins has seen at least eight targets in 7-of-8 games played this season.
TE Kyle Rudolph at Bears (N/A): Its extremely frustrating that Rudolph isnt available on FanDuel this week. And were not sure why thats the case, as plenty of other injured players are available on the site. Rudolph has been out since Week 3 after undergoing sports-hernia surgery. Hes been eyeing a Week 11 return all along and was back at practice Wednesday. Rudolphs fill-in, Chase Ford, caught 11-of-12 targets for 127 yards and one touchdown the past two weeks, and became a favorite of Teddy Bridgewaters as a middle-of-the-field intermediate option. Thats where Bridgewater excels. Last week, the Bears gave up two touchdowns to tight ends. Rudolph should be added in all leagues as a potential stretch-run TE1 with a favorable schedule the next five weeks. With Rudolph unavailable on FanDuel, Ill most likely end up dishing out the dollars for Rob Gronkowski. Im not a fan of the basement-priced tight ends this week.
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