It’s that spooky time of year! Not a lot of things scare me. I’m not afraid of spiders or black cats, but I do believe in the paranormal. Growing up, my parents owned a business in Seaside Heights, N.J. On the way to work with them in 1979, we would pass the house in Toms River, where the Amityville Horror was being filmed. Since I already knew the premise and it was based on a true story, it frightened me to drive by that house. I like to think that ghosts are friendly. I believe they are souls that haven’t crossed over yet because they have a message for us. That said, I still think Ouija boards are creepy. My logic says the pointer or planchette only moves because of the players’ unconscious movements of their fingers. This is a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect. Or maybe it’s simply that my brother makes it move to try to scare the crap out of me.
Setting fantasy lineups these days can be nightmarish, too. I wish coaches would quit playing tricks on us when it comes to players. Many people started Jerick McKinnon last week (one of my sits), while Jeff Wilson racked up 32 points on the waiver wire and benches. Read on to see what players I think will be a trick or a treat this weekend.
Week 7/Season Recap
I hit on Teddy Bridgewater (QB12), Calvin Ridley, and Rob Gronkowski as players to start, and Jerick McKinnon and Jared Goff (QB17) as sits. I missed on Ronald Jones (start) and Christian Kirk (sit). Kirk isn’t seeing a lot of targets, as I noted, but he’s been incredibly efficient with his touches. Over the last two weeks, he’s scored four touchdowns on only seven receptions. Season tally: 28-14.
Brandon Aiyuk at Seattle
Aiyuk tied with George Kittle for the team-lead in targets last week, catching six of seven for 115 yards. He saw two more targets than the team’s No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel. Aiyuk will have a small window of greater opportunity as Samuel (hamstring) will likely miss the next two games, with the 49ers having two scheduled within the next 10 days. Up first on the docket is a floundering Seattle defense giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers. Then he’ll play the Packers, which isn’t too scary either.
Derek Carr at Cleveland
Carr always seems to string together some impressive performances each season. He said he’s tired of getting disrespected, and his play has been praise-worthy this year. Carr has scored 21 fantasy points or more in every game this season except for Week 1. Over the last five games, he is averaging 26 fantasy points per game. Next up is the Cleveland defense that is yielding big games to quarterbacks and just gave up 406 yards and three passing touchdowns to Joe Burrow. The Raiders have their starting o-line back except for right tackle Trent Brown. Cleveland could be without their pass-rushing beast Myles Garrett, who is nursing an ankle injury. If Garrett is out Sunday, starting Carr could be a real treat.
Jonathan Taylor at Detroit
The Colts are returning from their BYE, and typically this is when rookie running backs see an increase in workload. This is usually due to the time it takes a player to learn the offense and earn the coaching staff’s trust. Over the last four games, Taylor has averaged at least four yards per carry. Last week had the makings of a great game for Taylor, but he only saw 12 rushing attempts once the Colts fell behind. The Lions are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to backs. As a bonus for Taylor, left tackle Anthony Castonzo should be near 100% health coming out of the bye week after nursing a rib issue.
Take a chance on him
Rashad Higgins at Raiders
Higgins had scored in back to back games entering Week 7. When star receiver Odell Beckham Jr left the game early to injury, Higgins rose to the occasion – catching six passes for 110 yards. With Beckham out the rest of the season with an ACL, the third-year player has a chance to emerge in this offense as the No. 2 receiver behind Jarvis Landry. Since Higgins already has chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield, he should have the edge for an elevated role over rookie Donovan People-Jones. The Browns could keep it on the ground with Kareem Hunt in this game as the Raiders are a sieve against the run. I’m banking on Cleveland trailing in the game at times though, forcing Mayfield to throw.
Drew Brees at Chicago
Brees is not a strong option at quarterback this week against the Bears. Chicago allows the fewest points to the position, and the Saints may be without Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders again. The Saints are favorited in this matchup, and I imagine they’ll lean heavily on Alvin Kamara in this one.
Stefon Diggs vs New England
You probably have to start him due to lack of better alternatives, but temper expectations when the Bills travel to New England this weekend. Josh Allen has been struggling of late, and Diggs hasn’t been over the 50-yard mark in the last two games. Things could get dicey this week as Diggs will likely face shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore. I’m sure you have heard that Bill Belichick likes to take out the opposing team’s top weapon, and this week that’s Diggs. *Update* Gilmore has been ruled out this week, making Diggs a better play. However, the weather forecasters are predicting strong wind gusts, which could negatively affect the passing game.
Wayne Gallman vs Tampa
Gallman could end up being the bell cow on Monday night. He saw extended action in the G-Men’s last game after Devonta Freeman exited the game early with an injury. Regardless of the increased role, don’t be tricked into starting him against the Buccaneers. Opposing backs have a combined average of 66 rushing yards per game against Tampa Bay, the lowest mark in the league.
As always, start your studs! Unless it’s under extreme circumstances, obvious players will not appear in this column.
Logo graphic courtesy of @TheDiamondMike