By Grant Playter | Staff Writer
For anyone looking to decide who to play and who to bench for this week in fantasy, you need to look no further. We’ll take ten players who could go either way and offer whether you should play or bench them. Let the writers here at the Capital Sports Report make the tough decisions for you. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, you know who to wave the pitchforks at.
Jamaal Williams was a hot waiver add after the injuries to the Packers running backs ahead of him in the lineup. With an ineffective quarterback under center, injuries to the running back position mean a lot because of the offense’s need to play through the ground. Williams got a significant uptick in snaps and volume following the injuries to Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery, and any repeat readers will know how I love to chase volume.
Having said that, he’s the third-string running back going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Necessary or not, they should very easily shut down a team like the Green Bay Packers, and their defense will likely stack the box time after time and force an incompetent Brett Hundley to pass. For some teams that may be ineffective, but the Steelers defense is good enough at protecting the pass – third in the league – that I don’t think they’ll risk letting Williams get much of a dent in. It’s weird to say given all the compliments I have on his situation, but I recommend BENCHING Jamaal Williams.
Corey Clement has had very interesting few weeks. Before Jay Ajayi was traded to the Eagles, he was essentially non-existent on the field, playing second fiddle to LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles prior to his season-ending injury. After adding yet another running back to the mix, however, it appears that the scheme has shifted to include him more often, as he’s posted two consecutive games – albeit with a bye in between them – with touchdown scoring.
I’m not entirely sure why this is occurring, but it seems like Clement is a change-of-pace type of guy, who will play fewer snaps but has big-play potential. It feels a bit weird to call a running back boom-bust because they typically rely on consistent volume to build up fantasy value, but Clement has the potential for major yardage and touchdown scoring plays on a week-to-week basis. Playing against the Chicago Bears is not especially welcoming, but he’s not overtly owned and could be a solid flex play. For that reason, I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend STARTING Corey Clement.
Rishard Matthews had a big week last week, catching Marcus Mariota’s sole touchdown of the evening and putting up at WR1 performance on the week. Matthews has been a great flex or WR2 option throughout the season, and long-term his value has been great. I would love to personally acquire him in most of my leagues because I see so much untapped potential, plus his schedule gets significantly easier starting this week against the Indianapolis Colts.
However, this week I think he’s a bit of a trap. He’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that’s left him at questionable status, which means he could very likely be out and an obvious bench. But even if he does play, I have a few issues starting someone who is dealing with an injury, let alone a wide receiver struggling with a hamstring. I like Matthews a lot, I believe he’s a valuable part of the Titans offense, but this week I think he needs to be BENCHED.
Before I’m repeatedly assaulted for even daring to suggest that a Cleveland Browns receiver could put up flex-worthy numbers, allow me to point out what Coleman managed to do last week. Coleman, a receiver for, I reiterate, the Cleveland Browns – the very same team quarterbacked by DeShone Kizer – put up 6 receptions for 80 yards. And not only did he do that, he did it coming off an injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The match-up isn’t ideal, the Cincinnati Bengals have been a surprisingly stingy defense this season. We only have one game to go off of since Coleman has come back to action, the possibility of it being a fluke is absolutely present. But, if you need someone to stream, he’s currently only owned in 31% of leagues on ESPN and the talent is there. It’s a high-risk, high-reward play; his floor is almost certainly a zero due to circumstance out of his control, but if the Browns can get anything together he has a great ceiling. For that reason, God help me, I think you should START Corey Coleman of the…of the Cleveland Browns. Yeah, that hurts to say.
Ricky Seals-Jones is a tight end no one had heard of before this week. He had played precisely one offensive snap prior to this week, but NFL teams love to give the occasional chance to rookies to see if there is a diamond hidden in the rough. Jones, who was undrafted and signed as a free agent by the Cardinals, exploded this past week with two touchdowns and 54 passing yards on just five targets. With a new quarterback at the helm, Jones could, in theory, find a role in the offense.
I, however, do not subscribe to this theory. I actually do think that two touchdown passes don’t come out of nowhere and there’s a very good chance that at some point in the future Jones could find a role in the offense. But against Jacksonville, after one good game, with an already crowded pass-catching core? He’ll likely see some targets, but unless a miracle happens and he somehow finds the end zone the Cardinals will turn to one of their more experienced options when he is shut down. Picking him up is already a lottery ticket move, but doing anything other than BENCHING him is blatantly working against your own interests.
It hurts to type this out because in my favorite league I’m playing him this week, but I really do like Cook this week. Cook is owned in a lot of leagues, but he’s not seen as an elite tight end or even all that good of one. If he’s not on someone’s starting roster, he’s easy to acquire, and there’s a fairly good chance he’s sitting on waivers left to be claimed. Unless you’re streaming tight ends, Cook is not likely to be “the guy” for anyone in the league.
But Cooks has shown definite talent, and among a lot of bad options, I think he’s sneakily solid. The floor is nonexistent and he’s playing the Denver Broncos, these things are true. But the best defensive players will be on Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, the “No Fly Zone” will be looking to shut down big playmakers and let Jared Cook pick up a lot of short, easy passes. It’s risky to doubt the Denver Bronco’s defense even if the offense is in shambles, but with so little available at the tight end position, I’m willing to risk STARTING a talented tight end like Jared Cook against them. If the floor falls out under him, so be it.
- Los Angeles Rams D/ST
The Rams have had some very good weeks this season, they’re currently the fifth highest scoring defense on the back of some incredible games. From week five to week ten they had double-digit scoring, and it wasn’t until this past week that they hit negatives in scoring. However, these games were all against sub-par offenses, and they’re playing the New Orleans Saints this week. The Saints have consistently hit double-digits and most weeks hit twenty or more, but the Rams were shut down just this past week. I’m okay starting the Saints defense, if not thrilled, because the Rams just showed they won’t always be a high-powered offense, but I have no reason to believe the Saints will fail to score and advocate BENCHING the Los Angeles Rams D/ST as a result.
- Atlanta Falcons D/ST
The Falcons defense has been mostly in the middle of the pack this season, being a match-up dependent defense like most in the league. Recently they’ve had good outings against stronger offenses, and this week it’s going to be against an offense that’s struggling in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Picking off Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a herculean task, and limiting what they can do should be easy when the team itself seems to want to do that. I think if you’re looking at streaming options, STARTING the Falcons D/ST is a great one.
This week it’s a battle of the B’s at the quarterback position, with Blaine Gabbert of the Arizona Cardinals taking on Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I feel like any match-up Blake Bortles is in is a particularly interesting one, given his less than stellar play that is surrounded by an incredible defense that brings his opposing quarterback to said less than stellar level. The points will likely not be high on either end of this game, but for people hurting for quarterback streams, there is some value to be had here.
Blaine Gabbert has just one game to base his trajectory for this particular season on. In his, and again I stress how limited this is, one game of play, Gabbert was the eighth highest quarterback in the league and scored 19.6 points, netting three touchdowns and over 250 passing yards in the process, albeit with an ugly two interceptions as well. The potential is there, he has an elite receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and a bevy of serviceable receivers like Jaron Brown or J.J. Nelson. (John Brown would also likely be in the mix, but has been declared out this week.) If he can keep up the touchdown streak and make this a passing game, he can beat the Jags and Bortles – the Los Angeles Chargers very nearly did the same in a nail-biting overtime game.
Arizona is the tenth ranked rushing defense, which means Bortles will likely be forced to beat them in the air if he wants to succeed. This could either succeed dramatically or fail catastrophically, and the room in the middle is a rather small. If Arizona shuts down Leonard Fournette, Bortles will have to pass the ball, and Arizona is ranked twentieth in this regard. If he can find the holes in their pass rush Bortles can have a good week, Arizona has been weak against quarterbacks.
There is always the question of the Jacksonville defense, affectionately termed “Sacksonville” for their ability to dismantle opposing quarterbacks. They are much more of a passing defense, number one in the league, than a rush defense, where they sit in the middle of the pack at number sixteen. There is always the possibility that Arizona will try to beat them on the ground, Adrian Peterson had some solid games and if he can wear them down then it’s possible holes will appear there.
But, going back to our limited sample size with Gabbert, I worry about the two interceptions. If he got intercepted twice against a team like the Houston Texans, the twenty-third ranked passing defense, he could have a Nathan Peterman-esque-showing if he goes for a pass offensive. The end-zone touchdown upside is definitely there, he has that boom-bust upside, but I do think Bortles is the safer play. He will be forced to try to beat them in the air and, based on their past history, probably succeed at it. I don’t love starting either, but for those desperate for a stream, STARTING Blake Bortles and BENCHING Blaine Gabbert is my advice.
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