We can only wait to see if stud RBs such as Melvin Gordon (knee), James Conner (leg/ankle) and Kerryon Johnson (knee) suit up this week, but we already know Matt Breida (ankle) is out, a week after we lost Marvin Jones (knee), Andy Dalton (thumb), Jack Doyle (kidney) and Jeff Heuerman (ribs/lung).
But hey, at least we got Rex Burkhead back, right? Actually, James White and Sony Michel owners are probably not too thrilled about that. Well, c’est la vie, and every absence creates an opportunity, as we’ll see below.
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.
Quarterbacks: Drew Brees has posted under 17 fantasy points in four of his past five road games, but he has also roasted the Falcons and Bengals as a visitor this season and now gets a Buccaneers pass defense that’s tightened up of late but still doesn’t figure to slow the Saints much. . . . The Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes has a much tougher matchup, but he also has more games with four TD passes this season than seven NFL franchises have since 2004 (H/T Scott Kacsmar). . . . The Panthers' Cam Newton threw a surprising four picks against the aforementioned Tampa Bay defense but still gave his owners a top-12 QB week, and the Browns have been leaky. . . . Since reclaiming the Bucs' starting job three weeks ago, Jameis Winston has completed almost 73 percent of his passes for 760 yards, six TDs, just one interception and a 119.1 rating. He’s also tacked on 88 yards rushing in that span. . . . Finally, Aaron Rodgers has been released from the shackles of ex-coach Mike McCarthy! Can’t wait for the Packers' highflying offense under, um, Joe Philbin. . . . The Colts' Andrew Luck wasn’t going to keep throwing for at least 3 TDs per game forever, but failing to score a single point was unexpected, even if it was at Jacksonville. . . . Remember when Tom Brady was considered to be fantasy money in the bank? He has just four TDs in his past five games.
Running backs: The Rams' Todd Gurley did it again, opting to let the clock run down rather than score a sure TD for his owners, but he’d already posted another monster outing at that point, so no complaining, please. . . . Ezekiel Elliott already has almost as many receptions this season (53) for the Cowboys as in his first two seasons combined (58). . . . The Panthers' Christian McCaffrey is the first player in NFL history with five straight games of at least 50 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards (per Field Yates). . . . Things I didn’t foresee writing 14 weeks ago: It’s becoming increasingly difficult to rank the Saints' Alvin Kamara ahead of the Broncos' Phillip Lindsay. . . . McCarthy’s firing could be good news for Aaron Jones, especially if Rodgers now has more say in the Packers' game plans. . . . With no Green, Dalton or Tyler Eifert, you’d think the Bengals would run Joe Mixon into the ground, but even while performing well Sunday, he got just 12 carries. . . . The Bears will probably need to score to keep up with the Rams, which means Tarik Cohen should be heavily involved. . . . The Chiefs may be going with more of a committee at RB than those who pounced on Spencer Ware would like. . . . Even if James Conner can play this week, the Steelers are heavy favorites and, assuming they take care of business, they presumably would want to take advantage of the opportunity to give him some rest. . . . After filling in ably for Breida, 49ers rookie Jeff Wilson will be a popular waiver pickup, as will Chargers rookie Justin Jackson, assuming we don’t soon get a positive report on Gordon. . . . Over his past two games, the Falcons' Tevin Coleman has 34 yards on 18 touches. That’s, er, not good.
Wide receivers: The Steelers' Antonio Brown is coming off season highs in catches (10) and yards (154) and has scored in 10 of 12 games. . . . This feels like just the spot for the Saints' Michael Thomas to put aside a couple of down weeks and put up a huge effort. . . . The Packers’ Davante Adams is tied with Brown for the most TD receptions (33) since 2016. . . . The Falcons' Julio Jones should bounce back after a rough outing against the Ravens — it’s what elite WRs do — but he may have a hand injury, which would obviously be a problem. . . . The Chargers' Keenan Allen has a receiving TD in a career-high four straight games. . . . Odell Beckham Jr. now has two TD passes this season of at least 40 yards. Giants QB Eli Manning has zero. . . . How boom-or-bust-y has the Chiefs' Tyreek Hill, coming off a 13-yard outing, been? He’s scored in just six of 12 games, but has multiple TDs in four of those contests. . . . The Vikings’ Stefon Diggs had just 49 yards receiving Sunday, but his owners were just happy to see him out there and looking pretty nimble, given that he was a game-time decision with a knee injury. . . . The Bucs' Adam Humphries has scored in four of his past five games and deserves WR2 consideration in PPR. . . . In place of Dalton, Jeff Driskel wasn’t terrible, and showed that he could find Tyler Boyd, who’s back to being the Bengals' top WR with Green out. . . . The 49ers' Dante Pettis took advantage of the absences of Garcon and Marquise Goodwin to go bonkers against the Seahawks (5-129-2), and he could well be a player on the rise.
Tight ends: The Chiefs' Travis Kelce apparently saw the Eagles' Zach Ertz coming for his TE crown and has responded with 41 catches for 519 yards and six TDs over his past five games. . . . For his part, Ertz’s 92 receptions are two more than the Eagles' previous record for catches in a season, set by Brian Westbrook in 2007, and we still have, you know, a quarter of the season to go. . . . After those two, there’s no better bet for TE production than the Colts' Eric Ebron, who has seen a spike in usage, as expected, in the wake of Doyle’s injury . . . The Browns' David Njoku gets a Panthers defense that has been the season’s most generous to TEs . . . If this position were any deeper (not that it ever is), the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski might be lower, but as it is, he’s slipping ever further away from elite status . . . The Raiders' Jared Cook had his third 100-yard game of the season and is working on a streak of three straight games with a TD . . . The losses of Smith and McCoy, not to mention the fact that he now has Mark Sanchez as his starting QB, don’t figure to bode well for The Redskins' Jordan Reed . . . Trey Burton had 126 yards and a TD for the Bears in Week 7. In six games since then, he has a total of 123 yards and a TD.