I am a proud Minnesotan. When it comes to sports, that is a curse and a blessing.
In fact, there are three kinds of feelings for a Minnesota sports fan. There is the “we are just terrible” feeling that has been predominate in the last few years. Then there is “we are swinging above our weight and shouldn’t be in this position” feeling, like the Twins last week.
Finally, there is the “surely, we are better than this” feeling, like the Vikings in the first half against Chicago Monday night. This is what I am currently feeling with my fantasy team. As my colleague pointed out last week, I am currently on a bit of a skid. That skid could have ended Monday with a different flex play.
I went with Stefon Diggs over Kyle Rudolph. The wide receiver scored nothing, while the tight end scored 10 points — the number I needed to get the win.
But, instead of being mad about not playing Rudolph, I am more frustrated with another issue surrounding the tight end.
His celebration was “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.” No goose. No “e” in the color. This is Minnesota after all. While everyone else goes on a wild goose chase, I get to give fantasy advice for this week.
Are you still starting Eli Manning? If that is the case, you must be desperate. Under no circumstances should Eli start now. It’s reasonable to assume that Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge can go and play receiver for the Giants, seeing as he his healthy and can catch a ball in New York. He may play baseball, but does that really matter after four Giants receivers went out last week? Eli has not been great this year even before this injury plague struck his receiving corps, and now, there is just one Giant worth owning (more on that below).
This is more of a personal issue, and I think it stems from being that pessimistic Minnesota sports fan, but play Alex Smith at your own risk. Surely, he can’t keep up the pace, and it will be the week I start him when he falls. So, I am just going to keep him on the bench, which means everyone else should play him. At home against Pittsburgh this week is a tough matchup, so start with caution.
For the Vikings, it is now becoming a toss-up of who starts. Sam Bradford returned from his knee injury and played like Sam Bradford. Case Keenum came in for relief and looked sharp in the second half. If you must play one, hope that Keenum gets the start. If Bradford starts, he will need a full week of practice to get on the same wavelength as his receivers.
With Dalvin Cook lost for the season, many thought that Latavius Murray would take over the lead role in Minnesota. That would have kept Jerick McKinnon as the pass-catching back. On Monday, the latter looked to be the every-down back by the end of the game. McKinnon is versatile enough to be worth a start, even against a Packers team that is below average against the run.
The league I play in is in just its second year, but a pattern has started to emerge. We have the one guy who will bet big on a rookie running back in the draft and it pays off. Last year it was Ezekiel Elliot. This year it’s Leonard Fournette. Expect the Jaguars’ rookie to have a heyday against the worst defense in the league in giving up fantasy points to running backs, the Los Angeles Rams.
There is worry for Jay Ajayi owners. The Miami Dolphin has yet to score a touchdown, and he has just 10 points in the last three weeks. The Miami offense has been sputtering with Jay Cutler, allowing defenses to key in on the run. It is a softer matchup against the Falcons this week, but it will be a big long-term worry if he doesn’t find the end zone.
Remember when Julian Edelman was lost for the season and the worry of who will lead the receiving corps descended on Patriots fans? The answer, it turns out, is Chris Hogan. Hogan has scored touchdowns in four straight weeks, racking up double digit points each week. New England visits the Jets this week, looking to smash the upstarts, and expect Hogan to continue the run of form. And as a reminder, he played lacrosse in college.
Congratulations to Mike Evans, winner of the “I have to face Patrick Peterson” Award. Tampa Bay travels to Arizona, and Alshon Jeffery owners can attest to what happens when their receiver goes up against Peterson. The rest of the Cardinals’ secondary was just torn to shreds by Carson Wentz last week, so DeSean Jackson will be the primary benefactor.
I said we will get to the Giants eventually, and here we are. Manning will have to throw to ball to someone, and that someone will likely be Evan Ingram. The rookie tight end could line up on the perimeter given all the injuries. Even with a trip to Denver this week, there is a lot to like for the rest of the season.