The NFL is as unpredictable as ever this year. Did you think Ryan Fitzpatrick would lead the NFL in passing yards after the first three weeks? How about Matt Breida leading the league in rushing yards? There’s no doubting that fantasy football is the most popular fantasy sport, partly because football has arguably become the most popular spectator sport in America and partly because of its aforementioned unpredictability.
I’m a player of fantasy football, basketball and hockey, and I can say with certainty that football is the hardest to predict, both from a season-long standpoint and from a game-to-game standpoint. Things rarely go the way you expect in the NFL, which is why it’s the ultimate fantasy sport for the casual fan. There’s so much luck involved that you don’t have to be an expert to do well. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen every week. The matchup winner is often decided by the better (or luckier) guesser, and I’m just giving you my best guesses.
Quarterback – Ryan Tannehill
The undefeated Dolphins are going to have their hands full this week trying to defend the Patriots high-powered offense. On the contrary, the Patriots have had their hands full trying to stop any offense this season. Tannehill has been adequate so far this season, throwing for two or more touchdowns in every game so far. I think two touchdowns is the floor for his matchup this week, especially if the ‘Fins play from behind. If you’re an Alex Smith or Cam Newton owner, Tannehill is probably your best play this week. Cincinnati Bengal Andy Dalton also has a promising matchup in a very similar situation. He plays against the Falcons, who have an excellent offense and a porous defense.
Running Back – Carlos Hyde
The Browns have their best roster in years, and El Guapo has been the focal point of the backfield. Hyde trails only Todd Gurley in rushing attempts this season, and I expect him to meet his own pace in what should be a competitive game against Oakland. Another great running back option this week is the Bengals’ Giovani Bernard. If you happened to snag him and start him last week, you were treated to 61 yards and a touchdown as well as some receiving work. With Joe Mixon out again this week, Bernard figures to see plenty of touches against Atlanta.
Wide Receiver – Kenny Golladay
I’ll admit, coming into this season I was doubtful that the Lions could support three fantasy-relevant wide receivers, but I had no idea how good Golladay is. Even though the Lions face the capable Cowboys defense this week, I have no problem starting Golladay. The Cowboys can’t afford to double-cover him when Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. are on the field, and Golladay is a great one-on-one receiver. Two waiver-worthy wideouts you might find unowned this week are Calvin Ridley, who has emerged as one of Atlanta’s deadliest weapons, and Tyler Boyd, who has separated himself from John Ross as the clear No. 2 receiving option in Cincinnati.
Tight End – Austin Hooper
I can’t help but grimace at the thought of starting Austin Hooper. The fact of the matter is that tight ends are few and far between this year, and if you’re in a pinch, you could do a lot worse than Hooper. He’s clearly the lead tight end in Atlanta, and with defenses focusing on Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu or Ridley, Matt Ryan is going to find Hooper wide open from time to time. Even though he’s not much of a touchdown threat, he’s a safe play against Cincinnati. If you’re looking for more upside, go with Pittsburgh’s Vance McDonald, who appears to be taking over Jesse James’ role in the offense.