Welcome to Pro Football Weekly's Fantasy Buzz, where we'll hit on the most pressing topic for every team, every week to try and help you make the most informed daily and weekly roster decisions.
As a general rule of thumb each week, we'll get you the Thursday Night Football goods, an extra serving beyond what we have for the weekend's slate, in time for your Thursday afternoon commute. We'll then circle back in this same space and round out the weekly action by Friday afternoon. Voila.
If you see a position ranking in parentheses, that's where I have a player slotted for the week. Just don't let that preclude you from checking out our top 100 regardless of position here.
Let's get to it.
GIANTS @ RAMS (LONDON)
Only five teams are permitting more scoring to opposing wideouts than Los Angeles (25.7). OBJ (WR3) reuniting for the first time with the first team whose antics set the stage for his future kicking net fling aside, it'll be telling to see if Sterling Shepard can reignite. The rookie wideout gets a 'D' that proved to be a slump-buster for Golden Tate, so why not Sterling silver, who hasn't held fantasy value since Week Two?
We told you last week Kenny Britt (WR37) was due to the find the end zone, which he did twice en route to climbing to No. 17 among all fantasy wideouts in scoring. This week we're telling you Britt is due for a letdown against old friend, Janoris Jenkins. Those fortunate enough to claim Britt should slow their rolling him into the lineup until Weeks 8-11, also known as cupcake month (vs. Carolina, @ New York Jets, vs. Miami, at New Orleans). Also, mmm, cupcakes.
BROWNS @ BENGALS
I'm giving Isaiah Crowell (RB16) one more week in the top 20 of backs, but not without ackowledging Sir Duke Johnson (RB26) could leapfrog him soon. Crowell has managed 1.7 yards per carry over the past two weeks; Johnson is coming off his best showing (74 scrimmage yards, TD) and should be more involved with Terrelle Pryor hobbled and/or out. Cincinnati is much better at distributing cheap shots than defending receiving backs.
Tyler Eifert isn't in my rankings this week but he'll be in my lineup if he goes. He should be in yours, too, as I can't envision a Gronk- or Charles-level disappointment for patient owners awaiting his return. Unlike New England and Kansas City, both humming fine before their studs returned, the Bengals are desperate, with the NFL's 28th-ranked red-zone offense.
WASHINGTON @ LIONS
Kirk Cousins' home/road disparity remains an issue. His pass-catching corps has injury concerns with Jordan Reed (TE2 if he goes) and DeSean Jackson (WR28). Don't care. Did you see what Detroit made Case Keenum last week? Cousins (QB9) is going to succeed, even if it means again doing it with the fogies, Vernon and Pierre — which, coincidentally, sounds like the name of a sitcom.
What, you thought I didn't save some geriatric jokes for Anquan Boldin? Coming off his best game as Lion — 8-60-1 — Boldin was tearing up Pahokee High in 1997 when Washington's rookie nickel, Kendall Fuller, was in diapers. Boldin's 8.4-yard catch average tells us the 36-year-old is moving, well, like a 36-year-old. But I'm telling you he makes for an interesting DFS option, readying to show the youngster, Fuller, a thing or two with Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron still out.
RAIDERS @ JAGUARS
Has Jalen Ramsey already become someone fantasy owners should fear their studs tussling with? Ask Alshon Jeffery owners. I've dropped Amari Cooper (WR12), fresh off a pair of monster outings, accordingly. But perhaps I didn't give Michael Crabtree (WR31), stranded on Peters island much of last week, the necessary boost after seeing what Cameron Meredith did to Prince Amukumura and the rest of Jacksonville's back seven.
Anyone know what to expect from the Jaguars backfield this week? T.J. Yeldon (RB28) "took ownership" of the feature role in Chris Ivory's absence, the coaches said. But the touch distribution — 37 for Yeldon, 24 for Ivory — and Ivory getting five more carries and the lone rushing touchdown coming off the bye says differently. Oakland's 'D' just might allow both to produce Sunday.
SAINTS @ CHIEFS
How frustrated are Mark Ingram (RB10) owners? Bellcow of NFL's No. 2 scoring offense, and John Kuhn and Coby Fleener (TE7) have four combined rushing touchdowns to Ingram's one. My advice: exploit their frustration and see if you can add him. He's healthy, New Orleans' O-line has overachieved and its defense can't possibly underachieve this much all season. He'll pick it up soon.
Move over Tevin and Devonta, there's now another backfield with a pair of start-worthy studs. Spencer Ware (RB5) and Jamaal Charles (not ranked, RB15) — yes, they're ordered correctly, for now — both belong in lineups versus New Orleans (who doesn't?) and Charles' workload will only increase as he regains his explosion and the Chiefs refine their thunder-lightning attack.
BILLS @ DOLPHINS
Justin Hunter must've been jealous watching fellow former Britt, his fellow former Titans problem child receiver, reinvent himself. Quietly, Hunter has managed touchdowns, albeit on his only catches, in his first two games in Buffalo. The vertical weapon could be exactly what big-armed Tyrod Taylor needs, as evidenced by their pretty 30-yard hookup last week. And with Robert Woods out, Hunter could extend his scoring streak against a Miami 'D' unlikely to repicate its showing vs. Pittsburgh.
Are you buying or selling Jay Ajayi (RB18), No. 1 on my and I'm guessing most waiver target columns this week (believe it or not, I don't read any others). I'm still undecided, though Adam Gase is all but assured to feed him until he flounders, I'm guessing. Buffalo is tough, but Marcell Dareus is out and Ajayi has the feel of a potential monster producer down the stretch.
RAVENS @ JETS
Joe Flacco is about as average as they come in the regular season, and he's coming off an incomplete practice week due to right shoulder soreness. I don't love any Ravens on Sunday against a Jets team that could get a spark from Geno Smith (seriously), but Mike Wallace (WR32) and Breshad Perriman have to feel good about watching Jets secondary film.
Geno, Geno, Geno! Seriously, like the pizza (technically, Gino's, but certainly overrated), I don't like him, but I have confidence he can't be worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick. And that can't be bad for Brandon Marshall (WR10), who you better believe is going to pile up stats in a lost year. I'm less confident in Matt Forte's outlook (that defense).
If ever there was a week for Minnesota's A.P.-less backfield to make its presence felt, it's in Philadelphia, where the Eagles return after letting Matt Jones have a career day. But like with Stefon Diggs (WR35), I'm in wait-and-see mode. That's not the case with Kyle Rudolph (TE9), who should help his quarterback stick it to his former team. Also, if you're desperate for receiving help, I think Adam Thielen's career day in Week Five will happen again at some point this year.
Has Doug Pederson lost confidence in Ryan Mathews? He parlayed just 11 snaps Sunday into nine carries for 60 yards, but 11 snaps is the key — and it might not bode well for Mathews owners. A visit from the Vikings doesn't bode well for any Eagles fantasy prospects, but Jordan Matthews (WR26) and DGB at least has the size to contend with Minnesota's monster corners.
COLTS @ TITANS
In keeping with the theme of the "other" Colts tight end always being the one to produce, I'm convinced Eric Swoope, former basketball player and athletic marvel, not my guy Jack Doyle is going to open eyes in Dwayne Allen's absence. But Doyle has done enough to earn your attention. Andrew Luck (QB4) and T.Y. Hilton (WR9) = still good.
The Titans are putting things in the offense for Kendall Wright after his best receiving day in more than a year. I've told you the past two weeks Marcus Mariota (QB5!) is fantasy relevant again alongside Delanie Walker (TE3) and DeMarco Murray (RB2); can Wright finish his contract year with a bang and build on last week's reminder he's alive?
CHARGERS @ FALCONS
With apologies to Shepard, Hunter Henry (TE5) and the Saints' Thomas are my flavors of the week when it comes to second-round fantasy beasts. Henry's meteoric ascent won't stop soon; gentleman's wager says he stays in the top five of scoring tight ends even as Gronk climbs and Reed gets healthy (hopefully). A rookie tight end hasn't done that since, that's right, Gronk.
Julio Jones (WR1, No. 1 overall play this week) hasn't stacked 100-yard outings this season. Just wanted to type that before he goes nuts over the next four weeks (vs. GB, at TB, at PHI). Pretty hot take, huh? It it's hot takes you want, it's hot takes you shall get (I guess having Matt Ryan (QB1) as my No. 1 QB sleeper this offseason wasn't hot enough. Are you guys as tired of me gloating as my arm is of patting myself on the back?) Hmmm, hot take... how about Levine Toilolo hits pay dirt for a second straight week?
BUCCANEERS @ 49ERS
If you love backup RBs who had a cup of coffee with the Bears, well, this is your game. If you love playoff-caliber clubs, not so much. But Jacquizz Rodgers loves contributing more than on special teams — and he's in luck. Don't be surprised if, again filling in for Doug Martin, he crashes the RB1 party this week. All RBs facing the Niners are invited!
Colin Kaepernick wasn't good last week, and he still finished 14th overall among scoring QBs. The Bucs' 'D,' unlike Buffalo's, isn't good. If Kaepernick can ascend to just decent, he's streamable. Also, the very early returns suggest his promotion could make $40 million man Torrey Smith worth more than a bag of peanuts. See, Trent Baalke, Kap can make you look slightly better.
PATRIOTS @ STEELERS
If you think Hansel is hot, Mugatu, wait until you see what Tom Brady (QB2) and Rob Gronkowski (TE1) are doing right now. But who's been the second-largest beneficary of Brady's return? That'd be James White (RB23), who has his two highest receiving totals in addition to his first multi-TD game a week ago. I also like LeGarrette Blount (RB27) this week. He's found the end zone in both games with Brady despite taking a backseat to White, but could wind up in the driver's seat against a Pittsburgh 'D' that got trucked by another power back, Ajayi, Sunday.
Small sample size alert: Antonio Brown (WR7) and Le'Veon Bell (RB3) were both the fantasy commodities we know and love in Landry Jones' lone complete start last season. Isn't that comforting? No? Not even more than Jones telling his teammates not to panic? Well, with Big Ben, Brown torched New England in each of his previous three meetings (27-267-3 combined), and Bell had 139 scrimmage yards in his lone battle, Week Five of his rookie season. Maybe that's what made Bill Belichick drool this week about Bell.