One For the Money: Players To Love/Hate At Every Position
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We're already a quarter of the way through the season and there are plenty of hot topics that have been produced. Did we write off Dallas too soon? Will the Saints defense dash their postseason hopes? Are the Patriots finished as an elite team? Who will emerge from a very competitive NFC West? Did I jinx my beloved Eagles by attending the one game they've lost this season?
There are more questions than answers at this point, but that's not why you're reading this. You're here because you've been changing your lineups frantically all week asking some anonymous higher power if Peyton Manning is really worth his price tag this week. Fortunately for you, I'm here to provide some clarity to your jumbled brain. So take some advice from Aaron Rodgers and "RELAX" so I can make you a future millionaire.
Note: Packers/Vikings players will obviously be exempt from these lists. Any big-name players that are absent from my lists (Peyton Manning, LeSean McCoy, etc.), are absent because there is only room for three players per list, their price is too high, or I predict their performances will be average and not indisputable enough to place them on either list. Do your homework on those players.
Finally, I won't be covering kickers. Like a fantasy football draft, a kicker should be your last concern as well as your cheapest.
QBs I Love
Philip Rivers (vs New York Jets) - Rivers is second among QBs in fantasy behind only Andrew Luck, and Keenan Allen hasn't even had a monster game yet. The Jets have allowed 1,015 yards, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions to opposing QBs through four games, one of them against Derek Carr. Rivers is the 14th most expensive QB, which is mind-boggling, at $7,000 this week. Don't overthink it, start Rivers.
Matt Ryan (at New York Giants) - I promise I'm not picking on you, New York. You just drew a bad hand this week. This game could very well turn into a shootout with the Giants offense coming to life last week. Unfortunately, shootouts tend to favor the owners of Matty Ice. Regardless of the outcome, I fully expect Ryan to shred the Giants secondary en route to a stellar fantasy day. Ryan is the 6th most expensive QB this week at $8,100.
Ben Roethlisberger (at Jacksonville Jaguars) - The Jags are allowing 344.2 passing yards per game this season, let that sink in. While you do, contemplate how many bombs Antonio Brown is going to be on the receiving end of on Sunday. Get it? Got it? Good. Big Ben is the 11th most expensive QB this week at $7,400.
QBs I Hate
Nick Foles (vs St. Louis Rams) - As an Eagles fan, this pains me. The Rams currently allow the fewest passing yards in the NFL and although Lane Johnson returns from a four-game suspension this week, the interior of the line is still mediocre at best. Robert Quinn against Jason Peters should be an intriging matchup, but I expect Foles to be under duress once again on Sunday. Foles is the 5th most expensive option at QB this week at $8,500.
Colin Kaepernick (vs Kansas City Chiefs) - Another QB having an unusual season, I witnessed Kaepernick's struggles live last week. Throwing behind receivers, happy feet in the pocket, Kaepernick doesn't look comfortbale at all. After dismantling the Patriots on Monday night, I expect more of the same from Kansas City defense, and Kaepernick as well. Kaepernick is the 7th most expensive QB this week at $7,800.
Andy Dalton (at New England Patriots) - Any time you start Andy Dalton, you're rolling the dice. This is not the week to roll the dice. Dalton has two touchdowns through three games so far and we're still not quite sure which version we're getting -- the regular season or the postseason Dalton. Dalton is the 17th most expensive QB this week at $6,800.
RBs I Love
DeMarco Murray (vs Houston Texans) - I wrote earlier this week why Murray will make you a millionaire and those reasons remain the same now. He is on a historic tear and the Cowboys offensive line looks like the best in football right now. Murray is the 4th most expensive RB this week at $7,500.
Le'Veon Bell (at Jacksonville Jaguars) - See Roethlisberger, Ben. The Jags defense is just as atrocious against the run. Bell is the 6th most expensive RB this week at $7,300.
Bishop Sankey (vs Cleveland Browns) - Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt has finally realized what we've knwon all along - the committee of Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster isn't working. Whisenhunt stated earlier this week that Sankey would be getting more reps this week, and it couldn't come at a better time. The Browns have allowed 413 rushing yards and four touchdowns to opposing RBs in just three games. If you're in a salary bind, Sankey is your man this week. Sankey is valued at $4,700 this week.
For Your Consideration: Rashad Jennings (vs Atlanta Falcons) - While I said three players per list, I couldn't pass on Jennings this week. Atlanta has allowed the most fantasy points (118) and touchdowns (8) to opposing RBs this season. Jennings is valued at $5,500 this week.
RBs I Hate
Marshawn Lynch (at Washington Redskins) - The last time Seattle was on the road, Lynch carried the ball six times in their loss to the Chargers. Granted he scored on a receiving touchdown, but that's not Lynch's forte. This week, he goes up against a Redskins rush defense that is only allowing 77 yards per game. Let's not forget that the Seahawks aren't the best team away from home. Coupled with his $7,200 price tag this week, I say you can find better value elsewhere.
Montee Ball (at Denver Broncos) - Ball has a brutal matchup on Sunday facing a stout Cardinals defense that has allowed only 142 rushing yards to opposing RBs this year, fewest in the NFL. Ball has produced nine fantasy points in his last two outings. He is valued at $6,500 this week.
Donald Brown (vs New York Jets) - Finally, some redemption for New York fans. While their pass defense leaves much to be desired, the Jets have arguably a better rush defense than the Cardinals. The Jets have allowed 185 yards on the ground and zero touchdowns in four games, as opposed to 142 yards and two touchdowns in three games for the Cardinals. Brown is valued at $5,400 this week.
WRs I Love
Antonio Brown (at Jacksonville Jaguars) - Did I mention the Steelers are playing the Jags, who've allowed 344.2 passing yards per game, this week? Brown is the 2nd most expensive WR at $8,100 this week.
Kelvin Benjamin (vs Chicago Bears) - An early candidate for rookie of the year faces a Bears defense that has allowed the 6th most fantasy points to WRs. Benjamin is 7th among WRs in fantasy so far this season and his $4,800 price tag this week is an absolute steal.
Jeremy Maclin (vs St. Louis Rams) - In an offense created to spread the wealth, Maclin has emerged as the beneficiary and favorite target of Nick Foles. Maclin has been targeted 46 times, second to only Jordy Nelson (49), who just finished his fifth game Thursday night. The opportunities will continue to present themselves to Maclin, who has also become the playmaker for the Eagles in the 4th quarter so far this season. Maclin is valued at $5,600 this week.
WRs I Hate
Calvin Johnson (vs Buffalo Bills) - No sane person trying to win a million dollars should waste $8,200 of their salary cap on someone who is questionable for their game, even if his nickname is Megatron. Johnson will be nothing more than a decoy if he suits up this week, keeping the Bills defense honest with him on the field. The best receiver in the league needs to stay on the bench this week.
A.J. Green (at New England Patriots) - Inconsistent Andy Dalton against the best ranked pass defense in the NFL right now. Coupled with the fact that Green and Muhammad Sanu are tied in fantasy points (Sanu's QB skills have helped him keep pace), playing Green at a $7,400 price tag this week is high-risk, low-reward.
Sammy Watkins (at Detroit Lions) - Detroit has only allowed two touchdowns to WRs in four games, both on the road. Although E.J. Manuel was benched, I don't expect anything different from Kyle Orton. Don't be fooled by Watkins' $4,800 price tag this week. Stay away.
TEs I Love
Delanie Walker (vs Cleveland Browns) - Walker has been the only positive on an otherwise disappointing Tennessee Titans team. His 33 targets is third among TEs. He has a favorable matchup with the Browns this week, who rank 28th against opposing TEs. His price tag of $4,300 is a much better bargain than some of his counterparts. That being said...
Jimmy Graham (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - The Saints are at home, the Bucs defense has struggled mightily so far this season. If you don't want to take a shot on a non-household name sleeper, Graham is a safe bet this week, as long as you're willing to cough up the $7,600 for his price tag.
Heath Miller (at Jacksonville Jaguars) - Jaguars. 31st against opposing TEs. $4,000 price tag for Miller. Next.
TEs I Hate
Travis Kelce (at San Francisco 49ers) - Kelce has emerged as a threat in the Chiefs offense, but he faces a stingy 49ers defense that is 2nd against opposing TEs. If Alex Smith can get in a rhythm, Kelce could have a big day. High-risk, high-reward. My money's on risk. Kelce's price tag is $3,000.
Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener (vs Baltimore Ravens) - The Colts two-headed TE attack faces a Ravens defense that ranks 1st against opposing TEs. Even if one manages a productive game, it's essentially a coin-flip to figure out who it will be. Allen and Fleener's price tag are both $3,000.
Zach Ertz (vs St. Louis Rams) - Another casualty of Chip Kelly's spread-the-wealth offense, Ertz hasn't lived up to fantasy expectations just yet. And while better weeks lie ahead, this won't be one of them. The Rams rank 4th against opposing TEs. There are better options this week. Ertz will cost you $3,800 this week.
D/ST I Love
Philadelphia Eagles (vs St. Louis Rams) - While it's insane to hope for the Eagles to repeat their performance on defense and special teams this week, the Rams 31st-ranked offense should provide a productive day for the Philly defense. Whether it's Shaun Hill or Austin Davis at the helm on Sunday, the Eagles will produce fantasy points at their expense. Philly's D/ST costs $3,300.
Cincinnati Bengals (at New England Patriots) - The Patriots offensive line is crumbling. The offense has been anemic. Tom Brady is playing like Tom Savage. Oh, and the Bengals are coming to town. With six interceptions in three games, Cincinnati's defense is poised for another big game in New England. The Bengals D/ST will cost you $3,800.
Pittsburgh Steelers (at Jacksonville Jaguars) - I think I've made my point here. $3,500 price tag.
D/ST I Hate
New England Patriots (vs Cincinnati Bengals) - While their pass defense is top notch, the Patriots weakness lies against the run, something Giovanni Bernard and company will exploit Sunday night. And while Andy Dalton will be unpredictable as always, I think he'll avoid rewarding the Pats defense on Sunday night. New England boasts the most expensive D/ST at $4,300.
New Orleans Saints (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - The Saints D/ST has the 2nd fewest fantasy points, in front of only the Jaguars. To make matters worse, Pro Bowl Safety Jairus Byrd was put on season-ending IR during the week. There could be an NFC South shootout on Sunday, avoid the Saints D/ST, valued at $2,500.
Atlanta Falcons (at New York Giants) - If you take away the Falcons drubbing of Tampa Bay, Atlanta's D/ST has combined for negative 17 points in its other three games. The Falcons have one of the worst defenses in the NFL right now, especially their run defense that's allowed eight touchdowns in four games. This game could turn into a shootout as I said earlier and that doesn't benefit the Falcons D/ST, and it definitely doesn't benefit your chance at winning $1,000,000.