Avoiding the MASH Unit

Injuries and bye weeks taking a toll on your starting roster? We're here to help

Russell Wilson has supplemented his lack of touchdowns with his rushing ability lately. (Scott Eklund/AP)
Russell Wilson has supplemented his lack of touchdowns with his rushing ability lately. (Scott Eklund/AP)

By Eric Edholm and Alessandro Miglio

Fantasy football is a game of luck and attrition. Much like poker, only with no ligament injuries. Godspeed to those players who have suffered injuries—it is easy to forget they are human beings with livelihoods at stake here in the fantasy realm.

Hopefully that attrition hasn’t hit your fantasy team. With New Orleans and Oakland on byes, on top of potential injury woes on your team, you might be left with some serious questions about who to start. We are here to help.

Sit: Russell Wilson

True, it might seem easy to suggest benching Russell Wilson, considering he is coming off his second zero-touchdown game out of three, but he has still had plenty of fantasy value thanks to his rushing abilities. This week, things might be worse for his stat line.

Wilson faces a tough Cardinals defense, one that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks. It held Cam Newton in check two weeks ago, and, were it not for the super-heroic exploits of Vernon Davis last week, Colin Kaepernick would have suffered a similar fate.

Wilson has no Davis on his team right now. He is certainly running the ball well, but the Cardinals have done a good job holding running quarterbacks in check the past couple of weeks.

Benoit Says: “That offense doesn’t have a ton of rhythm right now, and they run the ball more than any other team in the NFL. The passing game is one-third play-action based, and Wilson hasn’t been as sharp as last season. The offensive line probably contributes to it, and the team doesn’t want to throw the ball.”

Start: Ryan Tannehill

The hype behind Ryan Tannehill has been far truer in reality than fantasy football. He looks very much the part of a young stud, but he hasn’t really done much in the fantasy realm. That changes this week.

Miami is coming off a bye week, presumably a good time for the offense to straighten some things out like protection and avoiding drops. Tannehill’s rapport with Mike Wallace—his new $60 million receiver—has left something to be desired, but the duo gets a nice matchup this week against a Bills secondary that has been one of the worst in the league to date.

Benoit Says: “Buffalo doesn’t have a great edge rush, which means they can’t exploit Miami’s weakness along the offensive line. They might blitz Tannehill a lot, which will tell us a lot. Will Tannehill try to throw deep or be more cautious?”

Sit: Stevan Ridley

Stevan Ridley is back! Now bench him.

Last week the Patriots running back finally did what we all thought he would do with regularity this season—score a bunch of fantasy points. To that point he was a bitter pill of disappointment for fantasy owners who might have drafted him in the second or third round. While that was a great performance to get him rolling this season, he’ll be rolling into a brick wall this Sunday.

The Jets boast one of the league’s top defensive lines, anchored by the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. That front has allowed just 12.4 standard fantasy points per game thus far this season, third-best in the league. Ridley might get the majority of the workload again, but his results will be far less palatable to your fantasy team.

Benoit Says: “Normally I’d say start Ridley—he looked excellent last week—but I’m inclined to sit anyone who plays against the Jets. I don’t think the Patriots will challenge that run defense a whole lot either—they will try to do more in the passing game and avoid playing to New York’s strength.”

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Start: DeAngelo Williams

How long has it been since DeAngelo Williams delivered on any sort of fantasy promise?

His 2013 season has been pretty good, but he continues to struggle to find the end zone with Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert stealing all the goal line carries. This week’s matchup is Williams’ best in a while, though. As Arian Foster proved last week, you don’t have to get into the end zone to have a nice fantasy day against the Rams. Whether a date with the end zone is a fate for the fantasy gods to decide, 150-plus total yards that factor in several receptions make him an excellent PPR option for this week.

Benoit Says: “The Rams run defense has been porous this season. I don’t know what’s going on with James Laurinitis; he just looks soft. Williams, meanwhile, looks very shifty and dangerous, and the offensive line did an excellent job blocking against Minnesota last week.”

Sit: Larry Fitzgerald

Last week might have been brutal for you as a Larry Fitzgerald owner. If you are like one of us, you benched him in case he was inactive for the afternoon game. He was, of course, active, and he rewarded our cautiousness with a 75-yard touchdown grab and overall excellent game.

He did injure his other hamstring, however, and he gets to match up against Richard Sherman and that Seattle defense on a short week. Thursday Night Football has been a fickle mistress—some weeks delivering huge fantasy scores, other weeks giving us duds—but that Cardinals offense figures to have a tough time moving the ball against the Seahawks.

It looks like Fitzgerald will gut it out one more time, but don’t count on a long touchdown catch on broken coverage this week.

Benoit Says: “This is a tough matchup for Fitzgerald. The Cardinals do a good job of moving him around—especially in three-receiver sets—so I would guess he will draw Walter Thurmond more than Richard Sherman throughout the game. But I don’t think the Cardinals offensive line can deal with the Seahawks pass rush.”

Start: Alshon Jeffery

It was a magical two-week run for Alshon Jeffery, who might have scored many of those points on fantasy benches across the league. Naturally, when everyone put him in the starting lineup in a good matchup against the Giants, the second-year receiver laid an egg.

That was through little fault of his own, however. Twice Jay Cutler targeted him deep when he had gained separation, only to overthrow his big receiver in disappointing fashion. One other time Jeffery couldn’t hang on to a longish pass because he was immediately crunched.

This week, Jeffery is out for fantasy redemption against another soft pass defense in Washington. True, that defense held Tony Romo and Dez Bryant in check last week, but the Cowboys didn’t have to do much in the passing game to win that game thanks to their special teams and running game.

Benoit Says: “Alshon Jeffery is getting a ton of one-on-one coverage because defenses have to respect Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett. Jeffery is a big receiver that has outstanding body control, so he can win a lot of those one-on-one matchups.”

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13 comments
Antediluvian
Antediluvian

Good call on suggesting that we "sit" Russell Wilson. Good call.

samasters88
samasters88

Floyd did well for me last night - Ellington not so much. I need a worthy replacement to Hopkins, with Houstons troubles, and trying Fauria this week. After last weeks performance, he's bound to see the field more, yes?

samasters88
samasters88

Floyd did well for me last night - Ellington not so much. I need a worthy replacement to Hopkins, with Houstons troubles, and trying Fauria this week. After last weeks performance, he's bound to

MichaelDuerre
MichaelDuerre

Glad I stuck with Wilson.  235 passing/3 TDs/29 rushing yards.  Wilson was money tonight.  He didn't have a perfect game, but he came through big against a tough defense with a patchwork O line in front of him.  I won't be benching Wilson the rest of the year!

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

The Seahawks offense has been weak with the offensive line missing 2 starters.  They were last in pass attempts in the NFL last year, and want to run the ball more than anything.  Wilson is never a good choice as a fantasy starter unless he is the only starting QB you can get.

ea10
ea10

Is it time to cut bait on Jared Cook? (i.e. should he be dropped in most standard leagues?)

It seems like every fantasy football pundit had him as a top 10 TE, and aside from week 1, he's been terrible.

What happened? How did all of the pundits miss so badly on this guy?

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@Antediluvian  

I admit I was wrong about that.  And I am a Seahawks fan.  

 Wilson has no "ceiling".  He will make whatever play is out there to make.  He can be as good a passing QB as his WR's and coaches will let him be . He is on a team that focuses on D and running the ball.  But if he were on an offense that was all about passing, he would throw for 400 yards a game. He can do it all.  The guy doesn't even like to run, he only does that because he has to sometimes. If the Hawks ever get some stud receivers, Wilson will be put up huge passing numbers.


jb22
jb22

@samasters88 I wouldn't count on it, I think you can do better with someone else.  He's still DET's No. 2 TE, and really only sees goal line action.  The two games prior to his 3 target/3 TD game were : 0 receptions, 0 targets, and 0 receptions, 0 targets.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@MichaelDuerre   Were his fantasy numbers still good even with 3 fumbles?  He did have a great game in reality. Without him, the Hawks offense would be awful.  

Notice how the Seahawks had Wilson run on the very first play of the game. With his offensive line playing so bad, the Hawks needed to give the Cardinals something else to worry about besides Lynch.  Wilson and Lynch really make the entire Hawks offense work.   

MichaelDuerre
MichaelDuerre

@unitcaptain11 Out of 7 games this year, Wilson has had 20, 20, 27, and 26 in Yahoo league scoring.  The other 3 weeks were 15, 11, and 18.  Not stellar, but definitely not a poor choice as a fantasy starter.  He's right there with Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan.  He's not far behind Aaron Rogers, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, and Phillip Rivers and he's having a better year than Tom Brady.  Also having a better year than Kaepernick, RGIII, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Big Ben, Eii Manning.  Out of the marquee fantasy QBs, Wilson is right there in the middle of the pack.  When he gets Harvin and his two starting tackles back, his production is sure to go up.

AlexMiglio
AlexMiglio moderator

@ea10 Good question. Cook has become excellent at fooling us all into thinking he will produce consistently. I'm not sure about cutting bait—depends on who is available—but there are plenty of tight ends who are producing more and consistently.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@MichaelDuerre @unitcaptain11  

Excellent points!  And Wilson threw 3 TD's last night.  Looks like the Seahawks offense is starting to get it going.  I am glad to be so wrong about his fantasy value.  Wilson has the skill to put up huge passing numbers.  But not the team around him to do it, at least yardage wise.  But as we saw last night, he can throw 3 td's with minimal attempts and yardage.

GO HAWKS!

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