Less than three weeks until the NFL trade deadline, and it’ll once again affect fantasy leagues. Jay Ajayi and Jimmy Garoppolo — coincidentally both done for the season following ACL tears — are two examples of fantasy studs who switched clubs last fall.
With Ajayi now injured, all eyes once again are on wheeling-and-dealing Howie Roseman. Could ex-Eagles LeSean McCoy or LeGarrette Blount land back in Philly? Would Roseman go for broke in club's title defense season and add a certain disgruntled dual threat in the same state? It’s worth noting the Eagles have among fantasy’s toughest remaining schedules for backs, but rather than waiting on Roseman to possibly make a move, make yours now for Corey Clement.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
Bucs at Falcons
Tampa returns from the bye to visit a Falcons defense that is just about out of warm bodies, if not gas. Jameis Winston, back in the QB1 fold, has a 12-2 TD-INT ratio in four meetings against Dan Quinn’s Falcons, who trail only the Bucs in scoring ‘D,’ having surrendered 43 and 37 points in back-to-back home defeats. Likely without O.J Howard (knee, check status), Tampa’s Cameron Brate can be comfortably welcomed back to the TE1 party this week. Frankly, this sets up as a pleasant welcome back for the entire Tampa offense, which was rudely sent into the open date by the Bears.
Don’t hesitate: QB Jameis Winston, WRs Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin
Think twice (but it’s alright): TE Cameron Brate
Colts at Jets
Fantasy football is fickle, and yesterday’s avoid can become today’s exploit at the drop of a hat. Or in Andrew Luck’s case, the dropping of a combined 829 passing yards and seven TDs over his past two games. Those numbers are even more impressive when considering T.Y. Hilton was on the field for one of the four halves, which is one more than Jack Doyle. Hilton could return as the Colts emerge from their “mini bye” following last Thursday's game, and irrespective of his status, Eric Ebron and Chester Rogers have each produced from the slot, where the Jets ‘D’ has ceded the most production.
Don’t hesitate: QB Andrew Luck, WR T.Y. Hilton*
Think twice (but it’s alright): RB Nyheim Hines, WR Chester Rogers, TE Eric Ebron,
Seahawks at Raiders
This is more about our utter lack of faith in the Raiders ‘D’ than Russell Wilson’s Seahawks being “back” after their best day on offense since Week 11 last season. In the 31-30 defeat to the Rams, Wilson tossed three touchdowns — including two to emerging second-year player David Moore — and targeted Doug Baldwin only once. The Chris Carson-Mike Davis duo tallied 184 yards and a touchdown. Moreover, Wilson has only taken two sacks in each of the past three games after being sacked 12 combined times in the first two weeks, while Oakland has six total sacks in five games. With a surging run game, Moore and Tyler Lockett, Wilson finally has help on offense from someone beside Baldwin.
Don’t hesitate: QB Russell Wilson, RB Chris Carson, WR Doug Baldwin
Think twice (but it’s alright): RB Mike Davis, WRs Tyler Lockett, David Moore
Texans vs. Bills
After Houston converted on 1-of-6 red-zone trips vs. Dallas, this is a pretty bold strategy, right, cotton? Stick with us. Deshaun Watson was outstanding once again despite throwing only one touchdown, eclipsing 300 passing yards for a fourth consecutive game. The QB6 overall comfortably leads all QBs in rushing yards (40.2 per game) and red-zone carries (11). Keke Coutee is emerging as the guy Houston thought Braxton Miller was, with 22 combined targets in his first two NFL games, parlayed into WR21 overall in that span. Also, Buffalo is quite bad defending inside its own 20, where the Bills have surrendered TDs on 12 of 15 opponents’ trips.
Don’t hesitate: QB Deshaun Watson, RB Lamar Miller*, WRs DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Keke Coutee
MATCHUPS TO AVOID
Cowboys vs. Jaguars
The Jaguars ‘D’ is angry after getting torched at Arrowhead, and the Cowboys offense should prove to be quite therapeutic. Dallas ranks 28th in total offense, 30th in scoring and has zero receivers in the top 50 or quarterbacks in the top 24 of overall fantasy scoring. Dallas’ best fantasy weapon outside of Ezekiel Elliott is TE Geoff Swaim, who’s not exactly Gronk but is about to receive the same treatment from a Jacksonville ‘D’ that limited the best TE ever to 2-15 receiving largely because it didn’t have to worry about anyone on the perimeter.
Don’t hesitate: RB Ezekiel Elliott
Don’t do it: QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys skill guys not named Zeke
Dolphins vs. Bears
Miami makes its second consecutive appearance in this space but first potentially missing LT Laremy Tunsil (concussion, check status), who’s pretty important considering the Bears rank No. 2 in the NFL in sacks despite being off last weekend. Chicago has allowed only one 100-yard rusher (Latavius Murray in Week 17) in over a calendar year; Kenyan Drake owners can go back to fading the underused (by the Dolphins) speedster after his best fantasy outing this season. Miami’s curious plan to slot receiver its opponents to death hasn’t exactly panned out (surprise!), and Bryce Callahan is emerging as one of the game’s best nickel corners.
Think twice (but it’s alright): RB Kenyan Drake
Don’t do it: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Frank Gore, Dolphins WRs and TEs
Titans vs. Ravens
We didn’t think it was possible, but the Titans have managed to be nearly as infuriating to watch on offense under new coordinator Matt LaFleur as they were under Mike Mularkey. Marcus Mariota followed up his most prolific passing day in more than three years by being kept out of the end zone and held below 130 passing yards for the third time this season, though his receivers didn’t help. And that was against Buffalo, not Baltimore, which has held its four opponents that aren’t the Bengals to a combined 43 points and two passing touchdowns.
Think twice (but it’s alright): RB Dion Lewis, WR Corey Davis
Don’t do it: QB Marcus Mariota, RB Derrick Henry, WR Taywan Taylor
Bears at Dolphins
What, you thought Mitch Trubisky would sandwich 6-TD outings around the bye? Though we like Chicago’s chances of revving its run game up in South Beach, we’re not getting overly excited about the Bears’ fantasy passing prospects just yet. Allen Robinson will see plenty of emerging star CB Xavien Howard. Coming off his best game with the Bears, Trey Burton is opposed by fantasy’s sixth-stingiest ‘D’ against fantasy tight ends. And Trubisky’s career day brought his 2018 passing-yard average to only 236.25 and his career home-road TD-INT ratio splits to 12-3 and 3-7.
Think twice (but it’s alright): WR Allen Robinson, TE Taylor Gabriel, RBs Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen
Don’t do it: QB Mitch Trubisky, WR Taylor Gabriel