Demarco Murray and Derek Henry performed pretty much as I expected they would. Despite what some on twitter seem to think; the Browns have a short list of things they do well and run defense is at the top of that list. I expected Marlon Mack to have his breakout game against the Jaguars, but that didn’t materialize. It was encouraging to see Mack get more touches than Gore and come in second on the team in receptions though.
Derek Carr decided to target Amari Cooper eleven times, but I’m going to need to see more before I’m convinced. The only thing shorter than the list of things the Browns do well is the list of quarterbacks who’ve struggled against the Patriots defensive backs this season. So technically Matt Ryan is back on top.
Finally, the Panthers completely shut down Mitch Trubisky without Luke Keuchly, making Zach Miller a complete no-show in the process. And they still lost the game by two touchdowns. Week seven: Good Riddance.
1. Nelson Agholor – Start
Let’s get right to it then. The Eagles are hosting the 49ers this Sunday, and the later will have their hands full trying to stop a red-hot Carson Wentz. San Francisco has given up seven plays for 40+ yards this season and Agholor is averaging 15.3 yards per reception. Agholor is also tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns and his longest reception on the season went for 72 yards. There is a lot to like in starting Nelson Agholor.
2. Andy Dalton – Start
For those looking to stream a quarterback, Andy Dalton might be a really good option this week (if he’s available). If you have him on your bench he might still be a really good option over some other quarterbacks. The Bengals are hosting the Colts this week. The Colts defense has ceded 40 plays of 20 or more yards and at least 8 plays over 40 yards this season. On top of that, their allowing averages of 300.7 yards and 31.7 points per game.
3. Dolphins Receivers – Sit
If the Dolphins are smart they will hand the ball to Jay Ajayi early and often in their game against the Ravens this Thursday. The Ravens have allowed over 1,000 rushing yards on the season already. On the flip side of that coin, they have 10 interceptions on the year. I’m not expecting back up quarterback Matt Moore to be passing too incredibly much. And considering Joe Flacco has woes of his own, I don’t expect the Ravens to force the Dolphins hand in the passing game. If Jay Cutler was in I’d say Jarvis Landry might still be a decent PPR play, but with Cutler out there is no telling what the target share will look like. Steer clear.
4. Dez Bryant – Sit
The Washington Redskins are a middle of the pack kind of defense by just about every statistical measure this season. They do, however, have Josh Norman projected to come back from his week four rib injury. Norman will likely shadow Dez Bryant for the majority of the game as the two have been known to play each other competitively. If Dez were the only option on the Cowboys roster I’d say start him, but he’s not. Jason Witten will probably benefit the most if Bryant is shut down, and coming off a good game last week there’s reason to believe he could see the end zone again. Bryant struggles against top-tier cornerbacks. I would avoid him this week if Norman plays.
5. Stefon Diggs – Start
This is contingent on, obviously, if he actually plays this Sunday. He’s been out for the past few weeks with a groin injury, but if he suits up against a Browns defense that has allowed 14 passing touchdowns this season it could be a big day for Diggs. There is some concern here with re-injury. The game is also in London, so that means it will be an early morning (9:30 am) game for viewers here in the states. If things aren’t cleared up by Saturday night you might have to wake up and start your pregame early for the game-time decision. Adam Thielen is the safer bet to start if you have him, but he has yet to score a touchdown this season. Nevertheless, the Browns are a team with a solid run defense and a leaky defensive backfield so there is a chance that either Diggs or Thielen will do.
6. Vikings Running Backs – Sit
Jerick McKinnon has been the back to own in Minnesota since Dalvin Cook went down. Last week, Latavius Murray had himself a game against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Murray surely bought himself some added carries after that performance, which spells trouble for both McKinnon and Murray owners. Also, they are going up against a solid run defense that has only allowed four rushing touchdowns (two went to Deshaun Watkins) and held opposing teams to an average of 83.7 yards per game. They are tied with the Denver Broncos, allowing an average of only 3 yards per attempt. I don’t care what everyone is saying on twitter. The stats don’t lie.
7. Demaryius Thomas – Start
Thomas, apart from having a first name that’s infuriating to type fast, also leads the Broncos in receptions. He also has the deepest average yards per reception for any wide receiver with at least 20 receptions on the team. The Broncos are facing the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday. The Chiefs have allowed 9 receptions for over 40 yards this season. That’s most in the NFL. They’ve also allowed 30 receptions over 20 yards and 13 touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders is already a healthy scratch for Monday night’s game, so targets should be easy to come by for Thomas (not as if they weren’t already).