With so many options to choose from, sometimes fielding a fantasy lineup can be quite the headache. Obvious are the starts akin to Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Matthew Stafford, LeSean McCoy and the game's other big names. However, it’s the tougher choices – namely the less obvious starts – that will end up winning your league.
Here are a few names you might want to consider. And let's not forget about all the teams on byes this week!
Blake Bortles QB Jacksonville – For those of you in two QB leagues, Bortles can be an enticing choice for Week 4. Though San Diego improved their pass defense in the off season, it still remains to be seen how much of an improvement was made. Bortles has some young talented receiving targets including Allen Hurns, Cecil Shorts and Allen Robinson and seemed to have no problem spreading the ball around. Bortles also threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Hurns, but that play was really all about yards after the catch. Still, it looked good on the stat sheet for Bortles. This week Bortles makes his first start on the road in San Diego and, though there is a good chance we could see a few mistakes, there is also a good chance that he can find success with his many young and quick targets. Don’t be afraid to start Bortles as your number two QB this week since he should perform at least on a pedestrian level while his speedy receivers can make big plays at any moment, possibly giving their QB a nice fantasy day.
Darren McFadden RB Oakland – McFadden is only averaging just over 3 yards per carry but he now faces a Miami defense that just gave up 174 rushing yards last week at home to Kansas City. Granted, Knile Davis is the more talented runner these days but McFadden still has shown he is capable of an occasional speed burst from time to time. Fellow Oakland runningback Maurice Jones Drew figures to play this weekend, but that shouldn’t scare an owner from giving McFadden a shot considering Jones-Drew looks to have nothing left in the tank. This should be more of a ground matchup and McFadden will get his chances. McFadden is a good bye week replacement and maybe then some as a lower tier RB2 with the potential to surprise.
Steven Jackson RB Atlanta – Looking for another bye week replacement RB for Week 4? After all, six teams are on byes this week and pickin’s could be slim. As most probably look at Steven Jackson as an afterthought these days, he has quietly put up…well, non-relevant fantasy numbers. But you might be hurting for a runningback and Jackson has a great shot at finding the endzone this week. Minnesota has allowed 258 yards over the past two games and are not the stout run defense we have been used to seeing in recent years. I fully expect Jackson to get his endzone shots and put off up and comer Davonte Freeman for a couple more games. Look for Jackson to find paydirt the first time this season and start him as a low-end bye week replacement RB2.
Anquan Boldin WR San Francisco – While Michael Crabtree tears up the Philadelphia defense, Boldin should also be a big factor. Boldin started out the season with a nice performance against a bad Dallas defense but hasn’t made much noise since. This is the week he should reemerge as San Francisco should not have much of a problem exploiting a porous Philadelphia pass defense. Boldin does have 16 catches in his first three games and should be in store for lots of looks this week with Crabtree stretching the defense like he can. Boldin is certainly a good PPR league play and can be looked at a high-end WR3 that would not surprise in putting up WR2 numbers.
Brandon Myers TE Tampa Bay – If you are looking for a tight end off the waiver wire because you are hit with bye week issues this week, you might want to take a chance on Brandon Myers who goes up against one of the worst defenses against the tight end position so far this year in Pittsburgh. Myers has shown he is a strong pass catcher over the past few years and will have QB Mike Glennon filling in for injured Josh McCown who could be looking quite often for his safety net. Myers has yet to surpass 41 yards in a game this season but he catches balls and always seems to have confidence from his quarterbacks thanks to his good hands and ability to get open in the middle. Start his as a TE2. He’ll get the catches.
The waiver wire well runs shallow these days, but we are here to help. Don’t give up on the wire just because the gold is few and far between. Injuries are always a concern and bench depth is important. Stash those guys with upside this week. If you still holding out hope for those late round draft picks, then you have the room on your roster.
Blake Bortles, JAX – Second year quarterback Blake Bortles continues to have fantasy relevance. His last 2 weeks he’s thrown for 634 yards and 7 touchdowns. The downside continues to be his accuracy and interceptions. That being said Jacksonville will continue to rely on the passing game and that is only going to increase Blake Bortles’ fantasy value. He’s only owned in 44% of leagues.
Christine Michael, DAL – All reports coming out of Dallas suggests Christine Michael is going to start. He received first team reps on Monday and Joseph Randle has produced little. Some may want to wait for Michael to prove himself, but you’re smart to grab him this week. He has a great matchup against the New York Giants bottom third run defense coming off of a bye week. He’ll also be running behind one of the best offensive lines in football. He’s still available in 60% of leagues out there.
Charles Sims, TB – 2015 seems to be the year of the 3rd down back. Charles Sims is one of the more consistent guys out in that role. His hard work is paying off as he saw an increase in carries last week with 12 for 51 yards. As with all third down back fantasy plays his value resides in his pass catching abilities. Before the bye week Sims posted 85 yards on 4 catches. I am not gonna lie, he is a risky pick, but if you need a flex option Sims has consistency going for him right now. He’s only off the board in 25% of leagues.
Stefon Diggs, MIN – This is going to be the most added player by tomorrow morning when waivers clear. In his last two games Stefon Diggs has 13 catches on 19 targets for 206 yards. Mike Wallace is already comparing him to Antonio Brown. While I am not inclined to talk that confidently about Diggs, he certainly has proved enough to be owned in all formats. He has a great matchup this week against the Lions awful secondary.
Michael Floyd, ARI – Its late in the fantasy season and the waiver wire is getting slim. Michael Floyd is a good bet if you need some depth at wide receiver. He saw a season high 8 targets last game, catching 5 of them for 50 yards and a TD. Floyd is more of a stash pick at this point, but it's never bad to stash WR’s playing on elite offenses.
Benjamin Watson, NO – I will be the first to admit that until last week, Benjamin Watson has done virtually nothing to be considered relevant in fantasy circles. That being said the Saints are struggling and Watson’s size is something familiar to Drew Brees. The last two weeks he has found the end zone. Last week he saw an incredible amount of targets and his best game yet. Optimism says he will settle somewhere in between there.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers defense has been holding their own from a fantasy standpoint. Realistically any time a defense can earn you more than the 10 points they start with it’s a decent day. Pittsburgh has done that in their last four games. They have a good matchup this week against Kansas City without Jamaal Charles.
Thanks for reading drinkfive.com this year! This week's installment of the rankings brings us to the end of the line. Week 17 is used in some fantasy leagues to determine the champion, so we're still here to help out in those circumstances. Good luck, all! Great plays this week include Blake Bortles, Giovani Bernard, Golden Tate, and George Kittle.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!