For many fantasy football owners, last week was a whirlwind of questionable calls and devastating injuries to fantasy studs. Arguably the best quarterback in football, quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone early on in the Packers match up against the Vikings, likely a season-ending injury for the gifted passer. What this moment displayed to fantasy football aficionados was the very real fact that these seemingly superhuman athletes are usually one massive hit or collision away from being completely incapacitated. While this is certainly devastating for fantasy owners, it’s essential to remember that this game we play should in no way desensitize us from the fact that injuries can have serious implications in terms of shortening the career of these superstars that we have come to know and love. So, if you’re feeling particularly irate because of what you lost fantasy wise, realize that it’s a very minuscule concern compared to what these athletes endure day in and day out.
Alex Smith, QB, Kanas City Chiefs (vs. Oakland Raiders)
Alright, so Alex Smith looked dreadful against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. While Smith was able to somewhat salvage his day fantasy-wise as he threw a 57-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, it was still one of the more forgettable days for the potential MVP candidate. However, Smith is due for a huge bounce-back performance as he plays one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL in the Oakland Raiders (Raiders have allowed a 105.4 QB rating this season, 31st in the NFL). As we saw against the New England Patriots, Smith is more than capable of burning poor secondaries. Whether he utilizes his favorite intermediate passing target in tight end Travis Kelce or throws a go route to speedy wideout Tyreek Hill, Smith will have his pick when it comes how he can gash a porous Raiders defense.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
Although this may seem like a risky start considering the Bengals are still utilizing running back Jeremy Hill a fair amount of the time, a look at Mixon’s escalating production points to the rookie rusher potentially stepping into the featured back role this week. Since week 3, Mixon has carried the ball at least 15 times per game and has been a far better receiver than Hill in recent weeks. Despite beating his projected point total only once this season, Mixon is set up perfectly for a breakout performance against a Steelers rush defense that has allowed the sixth most points to running backs. Combine that with the fact that the Steelers have a stingy pass defense, and it becomes clear that Mixon could have a monster day both running and catching the football out of the backfield.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins (vs. New York Jets)
As many fantasy owners understand, the best fantasy asset can be someone that accrues massive target volume rather than being more talented in an offense with more mouths to feed. Considering that Landry has accumulated 24 targets and two touchdown passes in his last two games, it seems clear that the favorite target of Jay Cutler will more than likely garner those same target numbers against a Jets defense that has already given up 11 passing touchdowns this season. While Landry may never be a steady 100-yard per game receiver like Antonio Brown, his steady floor reception-wise (has caught no less than fives passes per game this season) gives him solid value in PPR leagues.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
After severely underperforming in the first four weeks of the season (15 targets, 1 touchdown), Rudolph has slowly but surely become more featured in the Vikings passing attack (18 targets, 1 touchdown in last two games). With wideout Stefon Diggs still suffering from a groin injury, Rudolph should continue to get a strong target share and is likely to convert many of these targets into big receptions as the Ravens have allowed tight ends to score six touchdowns in six games. Even if Diggs were to play this week, it’s unlikely that he would be 100% healthy and his production would also struggle against a Ravens defense has allowed only four opposing receivers to catch for 50 yards or more this year.