Fantasy football suggestions for when you face the player who, like Tom Brady, refuses to shake your hand because you beat him in the finals three years ago.
Some things never change. The sun will rise, the leaves will fall, and that Brian Hoyer-looking dude from your office league will talk shit after he beat you last week as if he were the one throwing TD passes to CeeDee Lamb. But it’s time to tighten your mask straps and move on because fantasy has no time for losers. The ongoing injuries and Covid positives have everyone in your league scrambling, so these upcoming weeks are crucial for overcoming that surprise Teddy Bridgewater top-five performance and Matt Ryan third-straight sub-300 yard game. The market is so wide open that you could build your own championship-caliber team from previous week’s pick-ups and trades, and that means hustling those below-average performers so you can steal Robert Tonyan, Mike Davis, and Jerry Jeudy.
Here’s who to push this week:
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (@Baltimore Ravens)
Not long ago, you’d have fought your mom to take A.J. Green as your top pick in the draft. The seven-time pro bowler caught more passes in his first three seasons than any other player in NFL history before Jarvis Landry. More importantly, he defied the fantasy odds of an average quarterback-good receiver trend. But now with a good quarterback, he’s not seeing much of the ball as Tyler Boyd has become rookie quarterback Joe Burrow’s preferred target. Green’s 14 receptions for 119 yards in his first four games would have equaled most first halves in his prime, but his 1 catch for 3 yards in the Bengals’ win over the Jaguars shows how far he’s fallen. As a veteran receiver returning from an injury-plagued 2019 season, Green ranks 109th in the league for wide receivers. Not great when you consider earlier in his career, you’d have played him even if Andy Dalton were throwing more passes to the Browns.
Your angle: Once that O-line starts clicking, Green’s receptions will be ticking.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (@ Houston Texans)
We get it, the stash, the throwback chill quarterback that reminds us of every football movie growing up. Gardner Minshew is “Floyd” from Dazed and Confused, “Mox” from Varsity Blues, and “Sunshine” from Remember the Titans. The cool cat you want with the ball in his hands when the game’s on the line. Last year, he threw for 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and had an incredible completion rate for a rookie. But Minshew’s also highly unpredictable. He throws the ball a zillion times and sometimes it lands in his receiver’s hands and other times it doesn’t. He threw 3 TDs against the Colts and Titans then threw none against the Dolphins, arguably the worst defense in the league. But he’s got some hold on the Jags because they were willing to part ways with a Super Bowl MVP and are now considering laying off Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. I don’t get it, but I guess when you’re Jacksonville, 6-10 feels a whole better than 5-11. Anyway, he faces a Texans team that just fired its head coach Bill O’Brien and now has Romeo Crennel at the helms, a defensive guru who will let that D get after things. And jobs are already on the line, which means trouble for Minshew.
Your angle: Channel you inner Matthew McConaughey and let it ride, baby ride.
Any impact player on the Tennessee Titans or Buffalo Bills
I don’t want to sound overeager here or laud a horrendous virus and an even more heinous response, but fantasy sometimes is about gaining an edge on the opposition, and if your week 5 nemesis is flaunting Derrick Henry, Jonnu Smith, Jared Allen, or Stefan Diggs, it’d be in your best interest to leave them alone. The Titans had an unexpected bye last week after their game against the Steelers was called due to several additional positive Covid tests. The team has had 23 positives since September 24th and their facilities have been closed for a mandated 10 days and are expected to open this weekend. As a result of their most recent positive tests on Thursday, the NFL pushed their game against the Bills to Tuesday, which leaves any fantasy player on those rosters with a high probability of a earning a 0.0. I’m not happy preaching it nor do I condone celebrating positive tests, but I’d certainly encourage you to pass on to your opponent as much misinformation as possible about this game happening in hopes that it doesn’t.
Your angle: This game is on even if the Titans have to call up Steve McNair and Eddie George.
Greg Oldfield’s stories have appeared in Hobart, Carve, Barrelhouse, and Maudlin House, among others. He also writes about soccer for the Florida Cup and the Brotherly Game and often rambles about soccer on Twitter.