FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Pick-up Joint: Week 9
John Tuvey
October 29, 2013
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OPEN TO SWAPPING

Eli Manning, QB, Giants
Since dueling Tony Romo to the tune of 450 yards and four touchdowns back in Week 1, Eli has exactly one multiple touchdown game. Over the past three weeks, facing three bottom-10 pass defenses, Peyton’s little brother has just two TDs and failed to top 250 yards. Since it can’t get much worse, take a leap of faith and assume it’ll get better. The schedule certainly plays in Eli’s favor, with only a Week 15 home date against Seattle to fear. With Big Blue on the bye this week Eli may be kicked to the curb; at minimum he’ll be easier to pry from his current owner. And if you’re struggling with quarterback issues, he’s as solid a bargain play down the stretch as you’ll find.

CATCH 'EM ON THE REBOUND

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
Buffalo finally opted to sit Spiller down and get him fully healthy rather than continue to trot him out at less than full speed with predictably frustrating results. Maybe he’ll even take a couple more weeks off; you don’t need him until after the Bills return from their Week 12 bye. At that point, following game he’ll either have missed due to injury or struggled against the Chiefs, Steelers, and Jets, Spiller’s fantasy owners will have likely had their fill. This is where you step in, snap C.J. up, and enjoy a hopefully healthier Spiller facing off against the second-easiest fantasy schedule for running backs the remainder of the season.

Rueben Randle, WR, Giants
Hand in hand with Eli’s favorable schedule noted above, Giants receivers have a primrose path the rest of the season as well. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will be tougher gets, but if you buzz the tower of the Randle owner this week you can point to his big ol’ goose egg from last week’s meeting with the Eagles to drive his value down. Curious to note that the last time Randle was targeted just once and failed to score came in Philly last year; he responded with 6-82 the following week. And after watching Cruz get bounced on the turf last week—not to mention Nicks’ long history of bumps and bruises—who’s to say by the time you need him Randle won’t be the Giants’ WR2 rather than WR3?

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
Maybe you’ve been encouraged by Palmer’s mini-resurgance, with two multiple touchdown outings in the past three games. But now the Cardinals go on the bye, and when they return the only favorable matchup on Arizona’s slate is a Week 11 date in Jacksonville. That’s the highlight of a remaining schedule that ranks second only to Cleveland in difficulty for fantasy quarterbacks. Hold him for that spot start if you must, but if for no other reason than a Week 16 trip to Seattle—you do expect to be playing for your title that week, don’t you?—that’s the extent of Palmer’s fantasy usefulness the rest of the way.

Marques Colston, WR, Saints
When you think of the erstwhile WR1 on a high-powered offense like the Saints, you think there has to be fantasy productivity there. But Colston’s numbers don’t come anywhere close to delivering on that promise. For starters, 58 other NFL wideouts have seen more targets—as well as teammates Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Factor in a schedule that from Week 13 on is as difficult for fantasy wideouts as any in the league and you can no longer justify plugging Colston into your lineup

SEND 'EM PACKING

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos
The signs of life Ball exhibited last week have the rookie’s fantasy value climbing—maybe not to the ill-advised second-round levels Montee was reaching during the peak of his preseason hype, but they’re certainly up there. Stress Ronnie Hillman’s fumblitis, how much the Broncos still like to run the ball—and sell reasonably high on the junior member of an RBBC on a team that faces the single toughest fantasy schedule against running backs the rest of the way.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars
Despite slowing from the torrid pace of his opening fortnight, Blackmon remains statistically a fantasy WR1 with a points per game number wedged right between studs Brandon Marshall and Victor Cruz. The news that, at least for now, Chad Henne would remain at the helm in Jacksonville helps Blackmon cling to his fantasy value for the moment, but the absolute toughest fantasy schedule for wide receivers the rest of the way will knock even more shine off of him. Maybe Jacksonville’s bye week will allow potential trading partners to forget just how bad the Jaguars are—and allow you to get WR1 value in return for Blackmon and an abysmal finishing slate chock full of stoppers.

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
Doing Blackmon one better, Gordon ranks sixth among wide receivers in fantasy points per game—tied with Demaryius Thomas. Moreover, he not only survived the double whammy of a tough matchup with the Chiefs and Jason Campbell at quarterback, he actually thrived with 132 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets—his biggest total since the making-up-for-lost-time 19 he saw in his first game back from suspension. Why sell now? Concern that Campbell can’t keep it up, for one thing. And when you look at the Browns’ remaining schedule, which reads like a primer for pass defense, you’ll want to bail as well.


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