Ben Roethlisberger made his return from a torn meniscus, but he barely looked like himself. Big Ben was inaccurate all day and looked hobbled moving around in the pocket. With the Ravens sitting on the run and shutting down Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers just couldn't hit the long ball, with Sammie Coates putting up a goose egg. Joe Flacco didn't have that problem, finding Mike Wallace for a franchise record 95-yard touchdown. Flacco had just 146 yards aside from that play, and is purely a desperation streaming option moving forward, if that. Kenneth Dixon (9-13) did little to displace Terrance West (15-21). He gets the Browns next week, but he's not a must-hold by any means.
This looked like a varsity team taking on the freshman squad. Ezekiel Elliott (18-92-2) ripped off huge chunks of yards on nearly every carry and only played through three quarters. Dak Prescott was near perfect, capitalizing in the red zone with three touchdown passes. This makes two straight big weeks for Jason Witten (8-134-1), but I wouldn't get too excited. There's a much bigger sample size that says he's a low ceiling option who won't find the endzone very often. Corey Coleman (3-41) looked good in his return and should benefit from the Browns always playing from behind. He's an upside WR3 in my mind.
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It's like Blake Bortles is incapable of making throws unless his team is down at least two scores. He once again missed plenty of open receivers, but it was nice to see Allen Robinson (7-76-1) get back on track. Marqise Lee (4-84) is a better fantasy option than Allen Hurns (zero receptions) at this point. Julius Thomas is touchdown or bust, and he'll bust more often than not. Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon both had nice fantasy days for the first time this year. It's still hard to be interested in Yeldon or Ivory while both are healthy. The second-string Chiefs offense struggled, and Spencer Ware doesn't have to worry about his job security after Charcandrick West's 39 rushing yards. Travis Kelce continues to have no chill and was ejected.
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This was a nice test to see how legitimate Jay Ajayi really was. He passed with flying colors, gashing a tough Jets run defense for 111 yards and a score. He's a real deal RB1 the rest of the way. Matt Forte had a nice day (12-92-1) on the other side, but Bilal Powell is eating into his passing down work still. He's more of an RB2 because of that. DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry both busted in a great matchup. This is a run-first offense now, which couldn't be further from where the Dolphins were last season.
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Don't look now, but rookie Paul Perkins (11-32) received the same amount of touches as Rashad Jennings (11-26). Perkins needs to be owned in every league, as he's the more dynamic runner and receiver. Finally, Eli Manning came through with a big fantasy day (257 yards, 4 TD) in a tough spot, helping out Odell Beckham Jr. owners in the process. I wouldn't say this offense is "back"...but CIN, CHI, CLE are the next three opponents. That's good news. Ryan Mathews scored again with just five carries. Don't chase those scores. Zach Ertz (8-97) got on the same page as Carson Wentz, who is struggling as of late. He'll be a sneaky streamer next week against the Falcons, who are liable to shootouts.
I need to put out a huge mea culpa for telling fantasy owners to cut Golden Tate earlier this year. I thought Theo Riddick and Anquan Boldin had combined to remove his role, but he's been an incredible playmaker as of late. Tate's (11-79-1) game-winning touchdown will go down as one of the best plays of the season. Marvin Jones hasn't had over five receptions in five straight weeks. I wouldn't quit on him, but he's more of a Flex type option these days. Stefon Diggs (13-80) was the safety valve all day for Sam Bradford, who checked down relentlessly. He's the only member of this offense who performed well under a new offensive coordinator, as the running back committee in Minnesota has turned into a three-way monster with Ronnie Hillman (7-30), Matt Asiata (9-27) and Jerick McKinnon (7-8).
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Don't look now, but the Panthers are 3-5 and winning with defense again. Cam Newton (225, 1 TD) disappointed in this spot and seems more hesitant to tuck and run or pick up extra yards when he does keep it. His owners should be prepared to say goodbye to a good chunk of the rushing stats that made him the top fantasy scorer last year. If Jonathan Stewart doesn't score, he's going to burn you most weeks. He just isn't a factor in the passing game. Lance Kendricks (7-90) has been sneaky good at the TE position. He can help you during these bye weeks. Todd Gurley has killed more fantasy teams than a fully healthy player ever should. It's a nice time to buy low in dynasty leagues, though.
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The 49ers run defense is allowing opponents to run for nearly 200 yards per game. That's not a typo. Mark Ingram (15-158-1) sprinted out of the doghouse while Tim Hightower took advantage of pure volume (23-87-1) against a terrible opponent. David Johnson gets the 49ers next....and desperate owners might even want to consider his backup (Andre Ellington) if/when the Cardinals get up big. Colin Kaepernick paid off as a streamer, racking up 398 yards and two scores. His rushing and garbage time potential makes him a preferred streaming option. DuJuan Harris (132 total yards, 1 TD) looked fantastic, but Carlos Hyde should be back next week. Michael Thomas is a legitimate WR2 in all leagues.
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This had shootout written all over it, and neither offense disappointed. Melvin Gordon (32-196-1) turned one of his usual massive workloads into his biggest fantasy day yet. He's a legitimate top-5 running back every week. Antonio Gates has some juice left (5-75-1) and is worth starting so long as Hunter Henry is sidelined. Marcus Mariota is taking advantage of this friendly stretch of the schedule(313 yards, 3 total TD) and had GB, IND and CHI up next. Those could all be shootouts like this one. DeMarco Murray looked healthy and made Derrick Henry (zero carries) disappear again. His workload is guaranteed every week.
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Frank Gore (60 yards, 2 TD) is always underrated by everyone, myself included. Donte Moncrief scored once again and is the best red zone option on a team that should get there a lot. Jack Doyle (5-61) is still worth starting, even with Dwayne Allen (1-15) back in the mix. I understand the Packers aren't going to pound the ball, but Ty Montgomery (7-53 on the ground) deserved more touches. Randall Cobb was ruled out but ended up suiting up, and had his day salvaged by a second half touchdown. The shenanigans with the injury report by Green Bay are getting old. Keep starting all your Packers, as there's enough goodness to go around so long as Rodgers is throwing this much.
Raiders punter Marquette King's dancing was the best part of the week, hands down. Latavius Murray owners (20-114-3) might disagree. Murray was in a tough committee earlier in the season when he was dealing with injuries, but he's healthy and has earned the faith of the coaching staff. His touch count in the last three weeks: 20, 16, 21. He's a rock solid RB2. Devontae Booker is in a prime fantasy scoring position, but he flopped here. Trevor Siemian's inaccuracy is hurting his chances, but he just hasn't looked particularly explosive, either. It was hard to expect much from Derek Carr in this matchup, but don't get discouraged. In the championship weeks (15 and 16), he'll get the Chargers followed by the Colts. Yum.