JM VanSant ’16, Sports Editor
In my weekly love/hate column, I take a look at who are the top candidates to put together either good or bad performances in fantasy football. Just remember, I am human, so if you bench someone who I hate and they go off, take your anger out on your TV, not me.
Teams on bye: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers
Quarterbacks I Love:
Carson Palmer, Cardinals: Palmer had 421 yards through the air last year and with the reemergence of Larry Fitzgerald and the speed of second-year man John Brown, I expect the USC-product to have a monster game against a weak Baltimore Ravens secondary. And of course I’m playing against him, so he’s bound to go off.
Andrew Luck, Colts: Going up against a Saints’ defense that has allowed the second-most yards per attempt (8.6) and third-highest passer rating (106.8). With a healthy T.Y. Hilton to go along with Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief, big numbers are to be anticipated from Luck.
Landry Jones, Steelers: This is a stretch; even I can admit that. But Jones flashed some ability in the second half of last Sunday’s game versus Arizona, including an 88-yard touchdown to Martavis Bryant. With the aforementioned Bryant and superstar Antonio Brown running all over the field against a horrible Kansas City secondary, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Landry had 200+ yards to go along with 2 touchdowns.
Quarterbacks I Hate:
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: In five career games where he’s started against the Legion of Boom, Kaepernick has averaged 161.6 yards-per-game through the air and has a 2:7 touchdown-interception ratio, including two multi-interception games. Stray away from this guy, especially if running back Carlos Hyde (foot) doesn’t play and help open up the offense.
Joe Flacco, Ravens: Flacco is 30th in total yards-per-attempt among 34 qualified quarterbacks and faces a Cardinals defense that has given up the fifth-fewest yards-per-attempt. Stray away from the questionably elite quarterback.
Running Backs I Love:
Todd Gurley, Rams: Coming off a bye-week, facing a weak Browns defensive-line, averagin 152.5 yard-per-game in his two real starts. Play. This. Dude.
Latavius Murray, Raiders: Before the Raider’s bye-week and excluding the game against the stingy Broncos defense, Murray was averaging 74.25 yards-per-game and 11.5 fantasy points per game. Facing a weak San Diego front-seven, don’t be afraid to put some faith in Latavius.
Running Backs I Hate:
Melvin Gordon, Chargers: 49.8 yards-per-game, 4 fumbles on the season including two in the first half of last week’s game, and no touchdowns on the season. I still believe brighter things are ahead for the promising rookie out of Wisconsin, but this week’s game against Khalil Mack and the Raider’s defense is not that time.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: Getting primarily garbage time work and facing an intimidating Jets defensive front that’s tops in the league in rushing yard per game for opposing backs. Not a good play for Week 7.
Every Cowboys Running Back: Although it was announced that Christine Michael would be the go-to guy this week, it’s hard to believe Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden won’t be getting touches. No telling if new quarterback Matt Cassell will open up the offense, so I expect defenses to stack the box against Dallas.
Wide Receivers I Love:
Pierre Garcon, Redskins: Desean Jackson is most likely STILL out for this week, so Garcon should put up solid numbers against a poor Tampa Bay secondary.
Antonio Brown, Steelers: Last week this guy was on my hate list, but going up against a Chiefs team that has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers and with Oklahoma University-alum Landry Jones running the offense, it finally feels okay to put some assurance in Antonio.
Wide Receivers I Hate:
Tavon Austin, Rams: Just in case you were thinking of falling into the Tavon-trap, don’t. He’ll be lined up against Pro Bowl-corner Joe Haden and has averaged only 28.8 receiving yards-per-game to go along with 19.8 rushing yards-per-game. His fantasy production is primarily reliant on touchdowns, all three of which have come in his last two games. Keep this guy on your bench.
Tight Ends I Love:
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins: Cameron currently ranks number one among tight ends in average air yards-per-target and faces a Texans defense that has allowed 52 yards-per-game to that position. The new offense under interim head coach Dan Campbell looked good last week and it seems they’re looking to get their big free-agent acquisition more involved.
Charles Clay, Bills: Sammy Watkins is doubtful to play and the Jaguars have allowed the tenth-most yards to opposing tight ends on the season. Clay should get a lot of targets whether it’s EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor playing.
Tight Ends I Hate:
Defense/ST I Love:
Dolphins D/ST: Matchup against the Texans and coming off a 6-sack, 25 fantasy point outing in their first game under Dan Campbell after not recording a single sack in their previous four games. Things are looking up.
Defense/ST I Hate:
Rams D/ST: This team remains reliant on sacks for fantasy points, and this Cleveland Browns O-line is not going to let that happen. Josh McCown is playing very well and I don’t see that trend ending against St. Louis.
Last Week’s Hit/Misses:
Let’s review how many player I accurately predicted in last week’s column:
Tom Brady, Patriots: 22 points
Chris Ivory, Jets: 25 points
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: 22 points
Brandon Marshall, Jets: 15 points
Anquan Boldin, 49ers: 10 points
Greg Olsen, Panthers: 19 points
Josh McCown, Browns: 11 points
Chris Johnson, Cardinals: 4 points
Antonio Brown, Steelers: 2 points
Julio Jones, Falcons: 9 points
Cam Newton, Panthers: 19 points
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks: 14 points
*All fantasy point totals are ESPN standard-scoring
**Credit to Matthew Berry for the influence on this column