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FanDuel: Thanks for the bye-week problems, NFL

One week, you don't care about the byes. Another week, you're dead because of them. Maybe we work on that?

It's weeks like this I remember Week 5, when Oakland and Miami were on a bye. That week, we had to fill out our rosters while we were missing only Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace. This week, we're missing all the people. Just all of them. You're using some particularly good college players in some leagues, because we're out of players.

I think I've made this point before -- but I've written a billionty-seven pieces this season, so maybe I just thought it -- but the NFL at this point knows that fantasy players, gamblers, not-just-fans are its bread and butter, and you'd think there would be some effort to work with that.

There's a whole process to making the NFL schedule. The London teams get the next week off. There are certain weeks certain stadiums aren't available. I get all that. But if I'm the NFL, I'm literally bringing in a Matthew Berry, a Sigmund Bloom ... heck, a Daniel Kelley. Put a fantasy guy or a gambling guy on the committee. Give them input on the bye weeks.

Ultimately, I'm just whining. I get that. But when there's a week where I don't even care about the byes, and another where I had to rank Kyle Juszczcyk in the PPR running backs just to fill out a top 50, that's silly.

Anyway, here's a look through the matchups this weekend. Remember, this isn't a strict "use/do not use" list, it's just identifying spots where players make more or less sense than normal. Take the trip with me:


Good situations

  • You want to like the Houston defense, because of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt and all sorts of other things. But it's allowed multiple touchdown passes to six consecutive quarterbacks, and 40-plus pass attempts against in six of eight games. Nick Foles ($8,400) is the one going against the Texans this week.
  • I grabbed Kyle Orton last week almost entirely because he was playing the woeful Jets pass defense. This week it's Alex Smith ($7,100), who could be useful for the exact same reason.
  • The Chiefs allow the fewest passing yards in the league, which would normally be a turn-off for the quarterback facing them. But it's not like Michael Vick ($6,900) is going to be throwing a lot out there. He'll run it ridiculously often, and if he can figure out how to hold on to the ball even a little better than last week, he could be a sneaky play.

Bad situations

  • The Steelers have allowed the 13th-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Of course, that includes last week's big game from Andrew Luck playing from behind. Take it out, and they're in the top five. Bad news for Joe Flacco ($7,300).
  • I'm as exciting as anyone else that Robert Griffin III ($7,200) is back on the field, because he's fun to watch when he's healthy, and we all want that. But in his first game back, against a Vikings defense that is stingy against quarterbacks, this is the time to give him a week.

Running backs

Good situations

  • The Cowboys rank well in fantasy production allowed to running backs, but that's in large part because they've led a lot of their games; they still allow plenty of yards per carry. With the possibility of a struggling offense Sunday, they might not lead so quickly or by so much, and that bodes well for Andre Ellington ($7,500).
  • Ronnie Hillman has been banged up over the course of the week, and after his two scores in Week 8, Juwan Thompson ($6,500) could be a reasonable budget play if Hillman is limited.
  • I'm not believing in Charles Sims as a fantasy producer yet, and he's actually not even in the FanDuel game, as far as I could find. He's a rookie with limited practice in his first NFL game. With that in mind, and Doug Martin likely inactive, it's a nice time to use Bobby Rainey ($6,200), especially at his salary.

Bad situations

  • The Ravens have been the league's best team against opposing fantasy running backs. In year-long leagues, you're obviously using Le'Veon Bell ($8,700) even with that information, but he's not as exciting in FanDuel.
  • It looks like Trent Richardson will be healthy Monday night, and he's actually getting more carries than Ahmad Bradshaw ($7,500), whose scores have been flukier than you'd like. Eventually, Bradshaw's going to drop off.

Wide receivers

Good situations

  • Three different times this season, the Eagles have let the opposing team's wide receivers combine for 39 fantasy points -- 32 or more four times. I like both Houston receivers a lot this week, especially Andre Johnson ($6,900).
  • After a lot of struggles over the season, Keenan Allen ($6,700) finally looked like what we were hoping for in Week 8. Here's betting that continues.
  • Speaking of guys who got on track last week, Cordarrelle Patterson ($6,300) finally looked like a part of the Minnesota offense, and his targets were up. Once again, this is a bet that things are on an upswing.

Bad situations

  • Despite their high-scoring games, the Broncos don't actually allow that many fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and I'm still in the camp that Julian Edelman, not Brandon LaFell ($6,900) is the team's best receiver. I wouldn't invest here.
  • I'm calling Andrew Hawkins ($6,400) one of my success stories from the preseason, since I was all over him. However, he's still not scoring a lot of touchdowns, and in FanDuel you need someone with home-run potential.

Tight ends

Good situations

  • Either Tony Romo plays, and he's at less than full strength, or he sits, and the Cowboys go to Brandon Weeden. Either way, that quarterback is going to need a lot of security-blanket help from Jason Witten ($5,700).
  • His two fumbles in his last game masked that Larry Donnell ($5,400) really bounced back from a couple of weeks of struggles. Combine that with a matchup against a Colts team that struggles against tight ends, and he's a nice play.

Bad situation

  • The Rams have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends only once all season, and Vernon Davis ($5,700) hasn't been worth an investment since Week 1. Give him some time before you buy back in.


Good situations

  • Sure, it's struggled this season, but the Seattle defense ($5,500) played its best game in Week 8, and now gets a bad Oakland offense. This is a nice time to spend big.
  • We're conditioned to think the Jacksonville defense ($4,500) is a terrible defense. And to start the season, it was. But in the last four weeks, the Jags have averaged eight fantasy points a game, and now gets a Bengals team that is hurting in a lot of ways. For a super-cheap unit, this ain't bad.

Bad situation

  • In standard scoring, the Miami defense ($5,100) has actually been the best defense in football this year. But against a San Diego offense, it might be tougher sledding. Look elsewhere.