The NFL quarterback situation is becoming increasingly difficult to manage week to week. Deshaun Watson has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Jameis Winston will miss at least two weeks to rest his injured throwing shoulder. And Carson Wentz, Alex Smith and Derek Carr are on bye weeks. Potential backup options such as Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers and Marcus Mariota all have tough matchups, making them risky to roster.
Finding a viable running back could also be difficult. Kareem Hunt, Marshawn Lynch and Jay Ajayi are on a bye, and an injury to Eddie Lacy, a potential fill-in, could leave you with a less-than-optimal replacement.
Don’t worry — we got you covered. Here are three players you can feel good about this week and three others who will do more harm than good.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Manning has been solid in 2017, completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,820 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions despite losing wideouts, including Odell Beckham Jr., to injury.
This week he goes up against a San Francisco 49ers defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game, with opposing quarterbacks producing a 95.2 rating against, an upgrade over Manning’s 85.4 passer rating.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions
Riddick carried the just ball five time for 11 yards but caught all four of his targets for 62 yards Monday night and should get more work because Ameer Abdullah fumbled twice. If Abdullah is the starter, he will have trouble gaining ground against the Cleveland Browns, who are allowing a league-low 2.9 yards per carry. However, that same defense is allowing almost nine yards per catch to running backs, with the third-highest yards after the catch (392 yards, 9.3 per reception) this season.
|Yards per reception||Yards after the catch per reception|
|Browns defense vs. RB||8.9||9.3|
Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Kroft, filling in for the injured Tyler Eifert, has caught three touchdowns over his past five games plus had a 79-yard performance in Week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the best pass defense in the NFL.
This week’s opponent, the Tennessee Titans, are allowing 5.1 catches and 55.3 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends, resulting in 12.2 fantasy points per contest in point-per-reception, or PPR, leagues.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Do. No. Start. Any. Quarterback. Against. Jacksonville.
The Jaguars’ defense is holding opposing quarterbacks to a lowly 63.5 passer rating (league average is 88.3) and hasn’t allowed a passer to throw for multiple touchdowns. Only one quarterback, Jared Goff in Week 6, has thrown for a touchdown against them without also throwing an interception.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jackson has game-breaking potential, but with Mike Evans out, Ryan Fitzpatrick under center and the team’s running backs averaging 3.7 yards per carry, well below the league average of 4.1, the New York Jets’ secondary could shut him down.
Plus, Jackson is averaging only 1.5 yards per route run with Evans in the lineup, placing him 27th out of 37 qualified receivers, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus, adding more pessimism to an already bleak forecast.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
Drake saw an uptick in usage after Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he is still very much in a running-back-by-committee situation with Damien William.
Plus, Coach Adam Gase does not run the football often when his team is tied or trailing, and with the Dolphins nine-point underdogs on the road, they aren’t expected to be very competitive in this game, leaving fewer rushing attempts to go around.