QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Would you be shocked if I told you Big Ben leads the league passing yards per game? To what greater degree would your surprise be if I told you he only has one wide receiver in the top 30 for yards per game?
The Steelers have six players with at least 10 receptions, and of those only one is under 9 yards per catch. The only quarterback not to throw for over 335 yards against the Falcons was Nick Foles in week 1.
Ben is going to spread the ball around, and the Falcons will suffer for it.
Projection: 365 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception
QB Blake Bortles, Jaguars
Last year Bortles was abysmal away from home, posting a 55.6% completion rate to go with his six touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Traveling to Arrowhead is a hostile environment to better his only other road game of the season, week 1 at the Giants.
Kansas City fields an awful passing defense, yielding 328 yards per game. Dee Ford is questionable and Eric Berry is doubtful. If you believe in patterns, this is an Average Blake game but for that to happen Bortles will need to implode.
The matchup favors a big day for Blake.
Projection: 313 yards, 2 touchdowns to go with 41 yards rushing and 1 touchdown
RB Joe Mixon, Bengals
Do not let the knee injury deter you from taking Mixon off your bench. This is the same guy that averaged 4 ypc against the Ravens. He is a threat on the ground, through the air, and with Giovani Bernard out with an injury the only candidate to spell him is rookie Mark Walton.
Miami is not only stinging from a beating from the Patriots, but they also travel to Paul Brown stadium beat up on the defensive side of the ball. When Mixon was health the Bengals were more balanced. I do not expect them to lean on Andy as they have been.
Projection: 87 yards rushing, 4 receptions for 41 yards and 2 total touchdowns
RB Chris Thompson, Redskins
Adrian Peterson...will he or won’t he be healthy? If you’re like me, how Thompson was used in the ‘Skins game against the Packers left you pounding sand. But it made sense. Run as much as possible to keep Rodgers off the field.
The Monday night matchup against the Saints screams a big night for Thompson. Facing a top five rushing defense in the Saints should require Alex Smith to give his favorite receiving target all the looks he deserves. Consider that even though the Saints stopped Saquan Barkley on the ground, he did manage six receptions for 56 yards.
Projection: 8 receptions for 72 yards, 4 rushes, 12 yards, and 1 touchdown
WR Antonio Brown, Steelers
If you have Ben and Brown, pair them.
Number 84 should be a must start, however you may have good reason to reconsider that truth. Ju Ju has stepped up as the go to, and even the tight end position has become a dual threat in the Steel City.
After week 5 last year Antonio Brown already had three games of 10 or more receptions, and in those games had no less than 110 yards. He started this season with two games of 9 receptions, but has then gone six and five. That said, he’s had a touchdown in three of the four games this year.
He joked about his “wi-fi” relationship with Ben. Foreshadowing.
Projection: 10 receptions for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns
WR Marques Valdes-Scantling, Packers
Yes, I’m going to make an argument that you start a guy with two receptions on four targets. Yes, I’m going to try to look smart by going deep into the bag of sleepers. Here is why I’m calling his name.
Davante Adams: calf injury. Geronimo Allison: concussion. Randall Cobb: hamstring (ruled out). Green Bay signed DeAngelo Yancey due to fear of receiver depth.
Look, this isn’t a “sit Julio Jones” recommendation, but if you are looking for help, Scantling is worth the risk. His speed makes him a big play thread.
Projection: 6 receptions for 83 yards and 1 touchdown
TE Vance McDonald, Steelers
Yeah, I’m leaning heavily on the Steelers. Guilty. So what. If there is another tight end rising like Vance let me know.
The Falcons defense has yielded 9 passing touchdowns this season, and they get a Steelers team dealing with bad press and coming off a loss to the Ravens. McDonald is getting roughly five looks a game and is taking away touches from Jesse James.
If Pittsburgh puts up less than 40 points I’ll be surprised.
Projection: 6 receptions for 62 yards and 1 touchdown
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals
This may appear like another “Oh, smart guy!” pick, but Jones is in a perfect spot to be the outlet for Josh Rosen. While Jones did see more balls when Sam Bradford was under center, (who also threw him his only touchdown) against Seattle, with Rosen starting, his two receptions totalled 52 yards.
The 49ers have yielded a touchdown to a tight end in each of their games this season.
Projection: 5 receptions for 73 yards and 1 touchdown
K Robbie Gould, 49ers
Reliable Robbie Gould. He is a perfect 10 for 10 on field goals. He hasn’t taken a single try from beyond 50 yards, but who cares. The San Francisco offense can move the ball even without Jimmy Garrapalo, and this is going to give Gould his opportunities. Against the Cardinals your kicker is good for at least 8 points.
Projection: 3 for 3 on field goals and 2 extra points
K Justin Tucker, Ravens
If your league scores based on field goal distance then you have to like Tucker. In spite of their low ranking I like the Browns to give the Ravens some trouble. Because of this I see more of Justin Tucker.
Projection: 4 for 4 on field goals and 1 extra point
I do not trust the Texans offensive line against the Cowboys front four. DeMarcus Lawrence leads the league in sacks, and Houston can’t protect Watson
Projection: 16 points, 6 sacks, and 2 total turnovers
Until the Giants show me they can optimize their talent I refuse to believe they can put up points. The Panthers are mean and balanced and this just looks bad for Eli.
Projection: 10 points, 4 sacks and 4 total turnovers
QB Marcus Mariota, Titans
You are probably on a Mariota High after last weeks overtime win over the Eagles. Do not fall for it this week. The Bills are banged up on the defensive side of the ball, specifically at the back, but they are improving with every passing week. Buffalo will hold their own at home, and Tennessee will more than likely pound the rock.
Projection: 208 yards passing, 43 yards rushing, and 1 touchdown
QB Andy Dalton, Bengals
The move may be to see Dalton as the fire for this offense with the Bengals banged up at running back, but I don’t believe Mixon is too hurt to take the load off Andy. Miami’s defense is better than last week, and with Mixon on the field Andy will yield to balance.
Projection: 235 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception
RB LeSean McCoy, Bills
McCoy is having a year that tells you he has jumped the shark. Add to that he is up against a Titans defense that is an iron wall against the run. LeSean should be benched for the season unless the matchup proves too appealing.
Projection: 32 yards rushing, 28 yards receiving
RB Dalvin Cook, Eagles
The rumors are he may see the field. Do not believe it. The hamstring is doing to him what it’s doing to Fournette. Cook will not play.
Projection: He will be benched due to injury
WR Devin Funchess, Panthers
The hope for Devin is that he would become the go to receiver for Cam. It hasn’t happened. Devin hasn’t topped 100 yards, only has 1 touchdown, and gets a Giants team that should shut him down.
Projection: 4 receptions for 62 yards
WR Corey Davis, Titans
Last week’s game was an anomaly. Prior to facing the Eagles defense Corey was averaging roughly 50 yards per game. That said, his numbers dropped when Mariota got injured so you should expect him to get more looks. I just don’t like the matchup.
Projection: 5 receptions for 51 yards
TE Austin Hooper, Falcons
Every week I think he is going to be more utilized, and every week I am wrong. There are simply too many options for Matt Ryan at wide receiver. The matchup is favorable, or at least it appears to be, facing a Steelers defense that isn’t good against the pass. If you have to play him, play him, but it’s boom or bust. He hasn’t been targeted more than five times in any game.
Projection: 4 receptions for 59 yards
TE Jared Cook, Raiders
Cook’s had two monster games, and two pedestrian games. I didn’t see him blowing up against the Browns, and that makes this a promising start. However, this big rivalry should see the Chargers making it much more difficult for Cook to get those numbers.
Projection: 5 receptions for 51 yards
I no longer believe in you Minnesota, especially against the pass. There isn’t a world where I see the Eagles not throwing up all the points.
Projection: 35 points, 2 sacks
This is an interesting sit because I think the matchup is favorable. Dallas doesn’t throw the ball well, but they also don’t turn the ball over. I don’t see Houston’s defense getting the fantasy value.
Projection: 13 points, 2 sacks
K Brett Mahrer, Cowboys
Tough defensive matchup for the Cowboys offense in a game where I don’t see much scoring.
Projection: 2 for 2 on field goals and 1 extra point
K Aldrick Rosas, Giants
Rosas is a reliable kicker, but the Giants face a Panthers defense that should limit their offensive production, and scoring opportunities.
Projection: 1 for 1 on field goals and 1 extra point