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Thursday Night Preview: Fantasy Football Starts and Sits

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A look at some of the top fantasy plays of the week

NFL: New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday Night Football:

Green Bay Packers:

- Fire up the whole Packers offense this week in your season long and DFS fantasy games. Aaron Rodgers should have to throw a bit more in this game than he did a week ago, which makes all his weapons more viable as well. Aaron Jones has shown himself to be an explosive back averaging 6.8 yards per carry this year and is starting to add some passing game work. Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham are the two easiest to trust weapons from the Packers passing attack, but Marquez Valdez-Scantling has been impressive when given opportunities.

Seattle Seahawks:

-Russell Wilson continues to play at a ridiculously efficient level this year. He is averaging just 27 passing attempts a game, but with a very good 8.0 ypa and an excellent 8.5% TD rate, he is still producing fantasy points. Now the overall yards typically haven’t been there, but this week it could be more of a pace up game. If he gets his normal 2-3 TDs and adds some yards on the ground, he should be in play this week.

As for the rest of the Seattle offense the low passing volume is concerning for the receivers and tight ends because no one is getting featured enough. Tyler Lockett keeps scoring TDs so he is the best bet of the bunch. The Seattle running game has been highly effective of late, but it’s tough to guess who will be the lead back as now three different players have rushed for over 100 yards in a game. Chris Carson should be healthy again and he’s been the lead back, but with all three backs healthy it’s tough to trust any of them.

Quarterbacks:

Start:

Marcus Mariota:

-Mariota had a terrible start to the year, but the last couple weeks has started to show some real signs of life. The nerve issue in his hand appears to be better and his play has definitely improved. Mariota has a promising match-up versus a Colts defense that has started to struggle of late after playing well early in the season. Add in Mariota’s rushing ability and you should project a pretty solid game here if you don’t have access to one of the top QBs.

Eli Manning:

-It’s scary to trust Eli Manning as his skills have clearly started to deteriorate and his offensive line is just awful. Manning still has some fantasy relevancy due to his elite offensive weapons. Add in the best possible defensive match-up versus the Buccaneers and he’s worth firing up if you need a QB this week. Manning is a pretty good bet for 300 yards and 2-3 TDs in this game and there is even the potential for a monster performance as well.

Dak Prescott:

-Prescott is starting to play a bit better of late and faces one of the best fantasy match-ups in the Falcons this week. While I wouldn’t expect a massive fantasy score from Dak, he is a good bet for 250 passing yards and 2-3 TDs through the air. Prescott is also picking up fantasy points on the ground as he now has a rushing TD in three of his last four games.

Sit:

Ravens QB’s*:

-Right now it appears that Robert Griffin III is the lone healthy QB for the Ravens (he was the only one who practiced fully today), but there is still a chance that Joe Flacco and/or Lamar Jackson are healthy enough to play in this game. This is likely to be a game time decision and there is speculation that two or all three QBs split time in this game. Even if Griffin is the only healthy QB, I would stay away from this game. The Bengals have a bad defense that you can pick on, but Griffin isn’t the ideal match-up option. In the preseason Griffin still showed plenty of struggles with high sack rates, poor throws and low yards per attempt. He made a few big plays that make highlight reels, but overall his play was underwhelming.

*If somehow we get an indication that Lamar Jackson is going to start and get the majority of the work I would be interested in him versus this Bengals defense.

Blake Bortles:

-Bortles is coming off a good game versus the Colts and could see a similar situation where the Jaguars get down early and have to throw to come back versus the Steelers. The problem is the Steelers defense has played considerably better of late and they are just shutting down opposing offenses. Maybe Bortles breaks the trend, but there should be better options for you.

Case Keenum:

-Keenum should be in a positive game script for passing versus the Chargers, but this looks like a tough match-up. The Chargers have only allowed 1 300 yard passer this season (Jared Goff). Since giving up 27 or more points in three of their first four games, the Chargers defense hasn’t allowed a team to score more than 19 points.

Running backs:

Start:

Dion Lewis:

-Lewis burned fantasy owners a week ago as he managed just 68 combined yards and two catches in what looked to be a great spot versus the Patriots. Despite the poor numbers, Lewis still dominated the snap and touch share of Titans running backs and is worth targeting again this week. The low target numbers should definitely improve and Lewis should see 15-20 carries again. I’d expect a bounce back game for Lewis in a pretty decent match-up. The Colts defense forces teams to throw underneath which can increase the work load for opposing running backs in the passing game. Last week Jaguars backs had 10 catches on 11 targets for over 100 yards and a TD.

Alex Collins:

-While it’s up in the air who the Ravens QB will be, Collins upside in this game looks pretty clear. The Bengals defense has been terrible this year, and their line backing core is decimated with injuries. Regardless of who lines up behind center, Collins should be plenty involved this week.

Sit:

Dalvin Cook:

-Cook’s first game back off the injury report he had over 89 rushing yards and 4 catches while splitting work with Murray. Now after a bye he should be fully healthy, but this is probably a week to avoid putting him back in your line-up. While that 89 yards looks impressive, 70 of the yards came on a single carry, he’s unlikely to break one like that again and faces a tough Bears defense this week. It’s still likely that Murray steals some work from him, including goalline work.

Phillip Lindsay:

-Lindsay has had a nice year so far and has plenty of promise moving forward, but this is not an ideal match-up. The Broncos figure to be down most of this game and the Chargers have been pretty good versus the run this season. Lindsay’s passing game work has been pretty limited of late so it’s unlikely he makes up for a lack of rushing usage that way.

Wide Receivers:

Start:

T.Y. Hilton:

-Hilton hasn’t seen the heavy volume he saw early in the year the past few weeks, but some of that was match-up and game script driven. This week he faces a struggling Titans secondary and I’d expect the Colts to try to get him matched up versus Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, both of whom are having bad seasons. This is a potential shootout type game, which could lead to a big day for Hilton.

Amari Cooper:

-Through two games Cooper has 18 targets with the Cowboys and has had two pretty decent performances. Now he faces a bad Falcons defense which could make him a very good fantasy option this week. Cooper will probably see 10-12 targets and has a good shot of over 100 yards and a TD in this match-up.

Sterling Shepard:

-Now obviously Beckham is the top play in this Giants-Buccaneers match-up, but don’t forget about Sterling Shepard. Tampa Bay has been terrible versus slot receivers and Shepard can take advantage of this match-up and have a big day. While he’s coming off a low volume week, I’d expect him to have more like 10+ targets in this game and he has the potential for 100+ yards.

Sit:

John Brown:

-Typically we want to target receivers versus the Bengals, but Brown feels like a trap this week. We don’t know who the QB(s) will be for the Ravens this week, and if it ends up being Griffin, that has to be a downgrade to a deep threat like Brown. Ravens will probably try to be more of a ball control offense this week, which could lead to better fantasy days for Crabtree and Willie Snead (though far from certain). Brown though is the one receiver I’m comfortable fading versus the Bengals

Tyler Boyd:

-I do believe that Boyd can be effective, even in games where A.J. Green misses, but this is not an ideal situation. The Bengals offense is a mess right now, and there is a real chance this could be another blowout game facing a tough Baltimore defense. I know he smashed the Ravens earlier in the year, but this Bengals offense isn’t functioning the same way right now.