To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to write about in my open this week.
Then my beloved Buffalo Bills traded their talented, yet very frustrating defensive tackle, Marcell Dareus, to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Boy, did Sacksonville get a big boost to an already stellar defense. The Jaguars’ defensive front now includes Dareus, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler, Jr., and Yannick Ngakoue. Just wow.
For Dareus, this is a reunion with former Bills head coach Doug Marrone.
Defenses don’t get a lot of credit in fantasy. They hardly get mentioned altogether. By unspoken rule you’re supposed to draft your defense with either your last or second-to-last pick. Then some owners drop and pick up defenses weekly, using the spot for waivers.
Heck, I don’t even mention defenses in my column.
But the Jaguars, who were already the No. 1 defense with 102 points on ESPN, just got even better. I would expect teams to continue to have trouble running the ball and this also gives Dareus a fresh start. He’s closer to home and is playing for his old coach, that same coach Dareus played for when he went to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014.
If they weren’t already, the Jags are now the favorite to win the AFC South.
Must have: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
While Rivers is travelling to the East Coast to face the New England Patriots, it’s that very same defense that is dead last against quarterbacks. While New England is improving, I find it very hard that they’ll be able to stop this Chargers offense. Not to mention, this is Rivers’ second week with rookie wideout Mike Williams.
Pass: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben on the road? No thanks. The Detroit Lions defense is legit and the Steelers are going to be down a weapon in Martavis Bryant, who’s being benched? I don’t get that move.
Worth a shot: Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Taylor’s facing a shaky Oakland defense that’s travelling all the way out to Buffalo. Plus, the weather isn’t supposed to be that great. Taylor ran for 53 yards last week. That’s the type of production that makes him a QB1 this week.
Must have: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
At some point one of either two things is going to happen. I’m either going to stop putting Mixon in my column or he’s going to have a breakout week. Facing the Indianapolis Colts, who rank second-to-last against the run, I’m thinking the latter.
Pass: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
The loss of Joe Thomas will loom large for this offense. Cleveland is going to struggle to move the ball and I imagine they’ll get down early and abandon the run. That doesn’t bode well for Crowell.
Worth a shot: Jamaal Charles, Denver Broncos
This is purely a gut call. Charles returns to Arrowhead on Monday night. I think he gets extra touches in this one and you can run against the Chiefs. Well, not you per say, but an NFL running back can.
Must have: Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
Worried about Funchess after a couple of slow weeks? Don’t be. He’s facing a bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense. He’ll get back on track.
Pass: Will Fuller V, Houston Texans
I’m an advocate of Fuller’s but just not this week. He’ll see a good amount of Richard Sherman. According to ESPN’s Mike Clay, Seattle has allowed the fewest fantasy points to players lined up on the right side of the field, which is where Sherman has been in 95 percent of his coverage snaps this season.
Worth a shot: Bennie Fowler III, Denver Broncos
Looking for a flyer in your flex spot? BF3 is your guy. He’ll line up in the slot and mostly face Phillip Gaines, who has allowed 84 fantasy points this season according to Clay. That’s seventh-most in the league. He’s a good flex option in a week with a lot of byes.
Must have: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
The Browns give up the second-most fantasy points to tight ends. Give me Rudolph all day.
Pass: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
I’m not saying you bench Ertz, but just temper your expectations. The San Francisco 49ers are very good against the tight end. Third-best in the league, in fact.
Worth a shot: Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati Bengals
Kroft has done a nice job replacing Tyler Eifert. The Colts have given up the 11th-most fantasy points and receiving yards to tight ends. He’s worth a look.