So let’s take a moment and have a look at Buffalo, shall we? If only to, you know, marvel at what a fantasy Rust Belt it has been.
The Bills' 41-9 loss last week to the Bears marked the fifth time this season they’ve been held to single digits in scoring. With a quarterbacking carousel of Josh Allen, Derek Anderson and the incomparably awful Nathan Peterman, plus a subpar offensive line, it’s little wonder that LeSean McCoy has been a bust, to say nothing of the, well, nothing-burgers that overly optimistic fantasy drafters have received from the likes of Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay.
In fact, the only fantasy-relevant aspect of the Bills has been their offense — as a target for streaming defenses. In six games since its stunning upset of the Vikings, Buffalo has coughed up the week’s most fantasy points to the opposing D/ST an equally stunning four times, with a top-three display of generosity in one of the other games.
So I’ll give you one guess as to why I have the Jets, a D/ST with just two top-10 scoring outings since Week 2 and none in the top five since Week 1, as my top-ranked unit this week. The Bills might get back Allen, who has been out since Week 6, but it’s more likely that Peterman, he of the historically high interception rate, gets another start. J-E-T-S! (Just Enjoy the Turnovers and Sacks!)
Note that The Washington Post defaults to PPR scoring, and that the rankings will update throughout the week, so please check back frequently. Here are this week’s top movers and players of note.
On a bye this week: Broncos, Ravens, Texans, Vikings.
Quarterbacks: Last week, the Saints’ Drew Brees played in the game with the highest over/under and produced the highest QB score. Even though he’s on the road this time, that Brees is once again in the game predicted by Vegas to be the highest-scoring is good enough for me. . . . With the rate the Packers’ RBs are committing game-changing fumbles, Aaron Rodgers may never want to hand the ball off again as long as outcomes are in question. . . . The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes has thrown for at least 300 yards in eight straight games, tied with Andrew Luck (2014) for the longest streak in NFL history. . . . Suddenly, with the emergence of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel to complement Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers’ Cam Newton has as multifaceted a group of dangerous receivers as any QB in the league. . . . Congrats to Philip Rivers on having become just the fourth NFL QB ever to make 200 straight starts. Meanwhile, the Chargers’ kicker, whoever that turns out to be in the wake of Caleb Sturgis’s disastrous outing, will be working on a streak of one start in a row. . . . In his return as a starter, the Buccaneers’ Ryan Fitzpatrick showed exactly how he’s so shaky in real life yet so solid in fantasy. . . . The Bengals’ Andy Dalton is missing some weapons (more on that below) but is the other half of Brees’s aforementioned expected shootout. . . . The Redskins’ Alex Smith gets the tastiest possible matchup in the Bucs, but he just can’t be trusted to take full advantage. . . . Nick Mullens is ranked with the assumption that his remarkably effective outing last week will enable him to remain the 49ers’ starter over C.J. Beathard.
Running backs: Given that the Cardinals have been much easier to run on than pass against, the Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt should be in line for a heavy, and productive, workload. Not to mention that he’s been ON FIRE of late. . . . The Rams’ Todd Gurley was largely held in check by the Saints, but he now gets a Seahawks defense shredded Sunday by the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon, who in turn should have his way with a thoroughly bedraggled Raiders squad. . . . The Saints have apparently decided that Alvin Kamara, not Mark Ingram, is the RB they prefer to use near the goal line, which means Kamara is back to having a nearly limitless ceiling. . . . Le’Veon Bell won’t be back this week (rinse, repeat), and it may not matter anymore — that’s how good James Conner has been for the Steelers. . . . Sony Michel is tentatively expected back for the Patriots, but James White has done just fine even when the impressive rookie has been active. . . . Owners of the Falcons’ Tevin Coleman can hope that his Week 9 breakout on more creative usage portends a second-half surge. . . . New Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens may be just what the doctor ordered for Duke Johnson. . . . Although he hasn’t been catching the ball much, Nick Chubb has been receiving plenty of carries even as Cleveland has been losing. . . . Early-down backs set up for good outings based on expected game flow include the Packers’ Aaron Jones, the Bears’ Jordan Howard and the Jets’ Isaiah Crowell. . . . Adrian Peterson doesn’t have quite such a sunny outlook, with the Redskins listed as underdogs at Tampa Bay. . . . With Raheem Mostert suffering a broken arm, the 49ers’ Matt Breida should be set up for as much work as his injury-prone body can handle, while Alfred Morris gets a bit of new life. . . . With the Seahawks’ Chris Carson battling a thigh injury, Mike Davis gets penciled in ahead of him. . . . We’re all just waiting to find out what plans the Eagles made during their bye for their three-headed RB corps (Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Corey Clement).
Wide receivers: Michael Thomas had as many targets (15) in Week 9 as in the Saints’ previous two games combined. More of that, please. . . . The Steelers’ Antonio Brown continues to be uncharacteristically TD-dependent, but as long as he’s scoring in nearly every game, it’s a reasonable arrangement for his owners. . . . The Falcons were actually able to manufacture a TD for Julio Jones. Will wonders never cease? . . . The huge stretch run everyone has been predicting for the Chargers’ Keenan Allen began right on cue last week with 124 yards. . . . The Bengals’ Tyler Boyd in the top 10? Well, with A.J. Green (toe) expected to miss at least a couple of weeks, John Ross gimpy and the TE Tylers (Eifert and Kroft) out of action, Dalton may not have anyone else to throw the ball to while playing catch-up with the Saints. . . . Josh Gordon is starting to turn into the kind of weapon Patriots haters feared he would be. . . . In their first game without Golden Tate, the Lions’ Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay did next to nothing as the Vikings assaulted Matthew Stafford, and the same could happen at Chicago. But the Bears are much more vulnerable against the pass than the run, so I’m willing to give that duo another chance. . . . With Randall Cobb fading and Geronimo Allison ailing, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is looking a lot like the Packers’ No. 2 WR. . . . The Cowboys aren’t really capable of heavily targeting anybody, but Amari Cooper got about as much of a workload in his debut as could reasonably have been expected. . . . Tate makes his Eagles debut amid a crowded receiving corps. . . . Before heading into the their bye, the Cardinals’ new coaching staff appeared to restore Larry Fitzgerald to being the focal point of the passing attack, but Christian Kirk maintained a healthy share of targets. . . . The Bucs’ Adam Humphries tacked a huge game onto outings of at least 75 yards in two of his previous three games and now merits WR3, not to mention DFS, consideration. . . . If Michel sits out again, the Patriots probably will give more carries to Cordarrelle Patterson, who looked pretty good as a runner. . . . Lord knows, the Redskins don’t seem to have an abundance of good options at WR, so maybe Maurice Harris really is a thing.
Tight ends: The Cardinals have generally been tough on TEs, but Travis Kelce has been on too much of a rampage for the Chiefs to be placed anywhere but No. 1. . . . The 49ers’ George Kittle is 13th in the NFL with 692 receiving yards, and his 16.9-yard per-catch average puts him in the top 10. . . . The Eagles’ addition of Golden Tate could siphon a few targets away from Zach Ertz. . . . The Buccaneers’ O.J. Howard has been a steady contributor all season, and now he’s getting into the end zone with regularity. . . . The Panthers’ Greg Olsen has bounced back from his foot injury in a big way. . . . If we get some positive news on his likelihood of playing this week, the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski might — I repeat, might — climb up the rankings. . . . When last seen before the Colts’ bye, Jack Doyle (hip) returned from his lengthy absence and immediately relegated Eric Ebron to No. 2 status. . . . The Bears’ Trey Burton doesn’t always rack up yardage, but he has a TD in five of his past seven games. . . . The Steelers’ Vance McDonald has not been much of a factor of late, but the Panthers have been the most generous team to TEs . . . . The Raiders’ ineptitude is swallowing up Jared Cook, who has 20 yards or fewer in three of his past four. . . . The Redskins’ Jordan Reed has 18 targets over his past two games and just 72 scoreless yards to show for them. . . . Chris Herndon led the Jets on Sunday with 62 yards, which sounds even better (or does it?) when you consider that Sam Darnold only threw for a total of 229.