I have never been the most superstitious person in the world, but every once in a while, I can be stubborn.
The real reason for my failings in fantasy football lately is not the fact my team is bad (they aren’t). It is not they are underperforming (they are, looking at you C.J. Anderson). It’s not even the fact I struggle with getting the right guys to play in the right weeks (This list is too long, so just say Alex Smith all but two weeks.)
No, the reason I am losing is because of my team name. Because in the grand scheme of things, the team name is the most important part.
A fantasy team name can be many things. It can be a toilet-tier pun, a pop-culture reference or something to do with a player’s name.
Praise the Jordy, Rudolph the Red-Zone Reindeer, Fake Drews and 13 Reasons Ajayi are all good names that I totally had to look up because I’m not creative; just ask my former architecture professors.
So, it was time to make like most failing companies and rebrand. See ya’ later ThePiratesWho DontDoAnything (yes, my team had a theme song). So that means this is the first time that I give advice under a team name that suits me, the United States National Team. And no, I have never been to Boston in the fall.
If you need a one-week fill-in at quarterback this week, Trevor Siemian is your guy. Yes, he is coming off a week with two turnovers. Yes, he is coming off a week with no touchdowns. And yes, he is playing the Chiefs on the road, on Monday night. But Kansas City has given up the fourth-most points to opposing quarterbacks and given up multiple touchdowns in three of their last four. It also shows just how desperate these weeks can be with half the league going on bye either this week or next.
In the last two weeks, the second-best fantasy quarterback is … Josh McCown? He only trails Carson Wentz in the past two weeks, throwing for over 550 yards and five touchdowns. It could be even better, but he has thrown three interceptions in that span. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins, McCown is throwing in the red zone. At home against a reeling Falcons team this week, play him.
For Cam Newton, this season has been either good or ugly, with no in-between. Tampa Bay is not a good defense, so there is hope he is in the good this week. Newton has scored 20-plus points on three occasions this season. Tampa has given up 20-plus three times as well, plus 19 to Tyrod Taylor last week.
With Mitch Trubisky under center, the Bears threw the ball seven times last week. That says all you need to know about playing Jordan Howard. Chicago also scored off two turnovers last week, keeping the offense off the field. If the offense can get on the field, expect a lot of dump offs to Tarik Cohen. Both are start worthy.
If the Bengals are any bit serious in winning a game, Joe Mixon needs to be more involved. He had just seven carries for 48 yards last week, but was nowhere to be seen early in the second half. Get him the ball, let him go off and make fantasy owners happy.
Kareem Hunt has scored double-digit points all year, but that streak ends this week. Denver carries the best run defense, and expect them to key in on Hunt. He has been held out of the end zone for four weeks straight, and it will likely be five.
For those in a deep league that are looking for a good streaking option, there is one hiding in Pittsburgh. JuJu Smith-Schuster has the best celebrations after he scores, and his hide-and-seek proved it. But he has an expanding role for the Steelers (ask Martavius Bryant). With Bryant causing drama, JuJu could move into the No. 2 role for the Steelers.
Earlier this year, I said that Cam Newton had one last chance to impress after a disappointing stretch. That point has now been reached by Julio Jones. Thanks to a garbage time touchdown, Julio had his first score of the year. He was one yard short of the century mark, a feat he has reached just once so far this season. But that was against a weak Patriots defense. Against the Jets this week, he needs to prove it was not a fluke.
At this point of the season, the “what have you done lately” test becomes very important. Ted Ginn Jr. passes that test. Over 200 yards and a touchdown in the last two weeks, Ginn has become a big target for Drew Brees. With Willie Snead suffering from a hamstring injury, expect more good things for Ginn.
Cameron Brate is a top-10 tight end. O.J. Howard could be considered top-15 after last week. It is just a shame that they are on the same team. Brate is the more solid option, as the Buccaneers look his way more often and a lot on third and medium. Howard doesn’t run a lot of routes, but when he does, they are deep. Play either, and if you are feeling lucky, play both.