Ian Allan answers your fantasy football questions. In this edition. Is Jonathan Williams a viable plug-and-play back for tonight's game? (And can injured Eric Ebron be used?) Declining Philip Rivers, handcuff running backs, struggling Tyler Boyd, and more.
With Marlon Mack out for a few games, is what we saw from Jonathan Williams in the second half Sunday (when Mack was hurt) for real or is Jacksonville's run defense just that bad? From what I saw I think it might be some of both, maybe more of Williams being capable. I'm interested in your thoughts.
Jonathan Brater (Ann Arbor, MI)
I was impressed by Williams on Sunday. When the Bills cut him in 2017, recall, there were the issues with him showing up at training camp overweight – I remember him saying something about him snacking too much during his wife’s pregnancy. He’s been bouncing off and on rosters for the last two years, trying to get a foothold in the league. He’s in good shape now. He looks leaner, and he was breaking tackles and gaining yards against the Jaguars. But I would be leery of using him this week. He’s facing a defense that’s a lot better against the run than the pass. Houston has allowed 22 touchdown passes, but just 4 TD runs. And I expect Indianapolis will use a committee approach at running back. Jordan Wilkins has been their backup tailback for most of the season; he didn’t play on Sunday because of an ankle injury, but he’ll be ready to go tonight – he was a full participant at practice on Wednesday. I would expect they’ll use both Williams and Wilkins (and also Nyheim Hines, mixed in as a third-down back).
While my year has been good I have had some guys beaten up along the way. I have Hooper and Ebron at tight end which was working out well until the last couple of weeks. If Ebron isn't ready to go tonight I can substitute another WR instead. Unfortunately my two choices would be Shepard or Sanders, both with injuries themselves. Or, I could bench Ebron in any event and start one of those two WRs. So, I'm wondering, "what would Ian do"?
David Hogshire (Plymouth, MN)
Ebron practiced fully on Wednesday. You can double-check later in the day if you wish, but I’m pretty sure that means he’s playing. I think he’s your guy – a borderline top-10 tight end. He’s caught touchdowns in each of his last four games against Houston.
What's happening to Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense? They looked terrible against Kansas City. Rivers was standing like a statue in the pocket, Chiefs rushing him from all directions, and missing his throws by a mile or getting them tipped. I had the misfortune of drafting Mike Williams and Melvin Gordon and both are underperforming. Austin Ekeler is their main receiver, they hardly throw to Gordon anymore,, and Williams is good for about 50 yards/game but has yet to score this season. I assume the Chargers should be thinking about playing their backup QB, Tyrod Taylor, who can at least roam outside the pocket.
Drew Paterson (Ferndale, WA)
Rivers was also a disaster in Week 10 at Oakland, putting him at 7 interceptions in his last two games. With no mobility, he needs to have a clean pocket, and he’s not getting that right now (with both of their offensive tackles hurt). It’s been pretty ugly, and it’s probably becoming more apparent to all involved (including Rivers) that it’s time for the Chargers the move on. I’m not sure if he retires or the team releases him, but I would say it’s more likely than not that Rivers isn’t on the roster on opening day next year. To me, Mike Williams is the more frustrating player on that offense. He’s a big, talented receiver – a former top-10 pick – but they’re just not using him much. He’s running mostly deep routes, with Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry catching most of the balls. Williams has caught more than 3 passes in only three games all year. Four weeks in a row Williams has had a reception over 40 yards – all of them great catches – but he’s caught only 6 other passes in those games. I am not giving up on Williams; I look forward to seeing what he can do in a different offense with a different quarterback.
I have Waller and Hollister at tight end. I also own Todd Gurley but not Zeke Elliott. On the waiver wire today are Tony Pollard and Malcolm Brown. Would you recommend dropping Hollister in favor of one of those handcuffs?
Jerry Enger (Littleton, CO)
I suppose the Rams might sit down Gurley at some point, if given the chance. They rested him in Week 17 two years ago, and they pulled him for the final two games last year. But if Gurley isn’t playing, Brown won’t necessarily be a productive replacement. I would think they would use a combination of Brown and Darrell Henderson. With both Waller and Hollister looking like top-10 tight ends, I wouldn’t be willing to cut either of them loose for Brown.
If I can toss out a few names that I feel are misrepresented in the rankings: Michael Gallup … seems like every week he's undervalued and outperforms his predictions. For instance, I sat him last week for McLaurin based on the rankings and he outperformed him by a mile. The second guy is this Hill in Atlanta. Unfortuantely, I used him last week and got burned. This week you gave him a pretty good rating as well. I lost Gordon for the bye and only have Cohen and Breida. I'd have thought Cohen would be a better play, but you have Hill quite a bit higher.
Bill Petilli (Harrison, NY)
Gallup has played well the last two weeks, but both of those games were against lesser pass defenses (Vikings may seem like a good pass defense, but they’re struggling right now). This week Gallup is playing against a New England defense that might be the best in the league against the pass. The Patriots have allowed only 4 TD passes all year, including just one to a wide receiver. Most of those opponents, of course, have crappy passing games, but I think it’s very reasonable to rank Gallup much lower than usual. Terry McLaurin, meanwhile, isn’t a guy you would normally use. He’s handcuffed to erratic Dwayne Haskins. But this week Washington is at home, and is playing against one of the half dozen really terrible pass defenses in the league right now – the Lions keep giving up lots of yards and touchdowns. Against this defense, I think it’s a week you roll the dice on McLaurin, who is the clear No. 1 option in that offense. McLaurin played against another really bad pass defense last week, and I thought he looked good. He caught 3 passes for 69 yards, with a 41-yarder, and he had another 67-yard reception nullified by a penalty. I definitely like McLaurin more than Gallup this week. With the running backs, I’m not crazy about Brian Hill, but he’s probably the best of what you have. I don’t think we can assume Breida will be healthy enough to be super effective; he didn’t play last week, and he didn’t practice on Wednesday. If the Bears decide to make Chase Daniel their starting quarterback, then maybe Cohen. When Daniel started against the Giants last year, Cohen caught 12 passes for 156 yards in that game. But Cohen hasn’t been much of a factor this year; he’s averaging 12 rushing and 25 receiving yards, with 3 TDs in 10 games. I think Hill is your guy.
I have Chase Edmonds sitting on my bench and I am currently in 5th place in a 12-team PPR league. Do you think he could potentially come back in any of the playoff weeks 14-16 and be above Phillip Lindsey who is my 2nd-best running back? I am debating dropping him for maybe a second defense or a player who could have a great matchup in week 14 or 15.
Tom Clark (Suffers , NY)
I would release Edmonds. We’re getting late in the game, and I’m not sure Edmonds is even the No. 2 running back on his own team. Suppose Kenyan Drake was to suffer a season-ending injury; do you think the Cardinals would start Edmonds or David Johnson in their next game? I would guess Johnson. I think the correct move is to waive Edmonds if you see a defense or kicker with an appealing late-season matchup.
I'm in a keeper league (we can keep 2 players who were not drafted in the first 3 rounds ... players can be kept a max of 2 years). Who would be some guys to target as keepers via trade or on waivers who could be high-round draft picks next year? Lamar Jackson seems to be the top keeper in our league going into next year. Guys like Zeke, McCaffrey, Kamara, Michael Thomas, etc. are obviously not eligible. I've got Hooper on that team who is probably my best keeper at the moment ... possibly Jaylen Samuels? Otherwise my bench is primarily depth for this year but likely not keeper type guys.
Rich Wiegard (Frisco, TX)
I don’t think Jaylen Samuels is in the conversation. I think he’s going to be more of a third-down back and utility player. I don’t think he’s ever going to evolve into being another James Conner. Samuels has had a couple of chances to fill in this year and hasn’t done enough with those opportunities. The last time Conner didn’t start, they had Samuels sharing time with Trey Edmunds. I expect Conner will be out on Sunday at Cincinnati. For that game, I think we’ll see some combination of Samuels, Edmunds and Benny Snell. Snell has been out the last few weeks with a knee injury, but he’s been practicing and looks ready to return. Of these backs, Snell is the one who looks the most like Conner – a bigger, slower back who can bang out some yards between the tackles. If we’re looking for the next Pittsburgh running back (other than Conner) who’ll run for 100 yards in a game, I think it will be Snell.
Somebody dropped Tyler Boyd and I have first waiver priority but I’m not too sure I want to put in for him anyway. Would you drop any of the following for him: Singletary, R.Jones, B.Hill D.Parker, M.Williams, Hollister, Westbrook.
Graham Ginn (OCEAN VIEW, NJ)
Possibly. Boyd come off a clunker game, of course, with just 1 catch (for no yards) in the loss at Oakland. But he’s a capable slot receiver. Prior to the Raiders game, he was on pace to finish the season with 101 catches for 1,063 yards. He can work the middle of the field. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that things change a little, with Boyd maybe starting a game or two for you. Suppose, for example, that the Bengals put Andy Dalton back in the starting lineup; that might affect what you think of Boyd. Cincinnati next week host the Jets, who have been allowing a lot of production through the air. They’re at Miami in Week 16. If you’re not using Brian Hill this week, I would release him to add Boyd.
We can start 3 WR and 1 TE, or 2 WR and 2 TE. TD-heavy scoring. With byes, my 3rd WR this week is Tyler Boyd, who does not inspire. Instead, I’m thinking of starting a 2nd TE — Jared Cook or Goedert — in addition to Ertz. Thoughts?
Eric Pryne (Vashon, WA)
Sounds like you have it scoped out correctly. Boyd has some ability to catch balls underneath. In PPR scoring, I would still start him over those guys. But he’s caught only one touchdown all year. Both Cook and Goedert have scored in three of their last four games.
One of my teams is 8-3 but got hit hard by injuries. Conner, Breida, Hooper, JuJu, and Lockett. I'm trying to get some last-minute trades to make a playoff push. I shipped Mahomes to get Melvin Gordon last week (have Russell Wilson so I had excess capacity at QB). I'm trying to get Mark Ingram for Tyler Lockett. The remaining WR corps would be DJ Moore, DeVante Parker, and Michael Gallup. My hope is come week 15, that I could field Wilson at QB, Gordon-Ingram at RB, Moore-Parker at WR, and either Conner/Samuel or Gallup in the Flex, with Hooper hopefully back by then. As much as I love Lockett, do you think this is a good trade for Ingram if I can get it?
Andrew Napoli (Alexandria, VA)
Tyler Lockett was sidelined by a leg contusion at the end of the 49ers game, but he’s had a bye week now. My understanding is that he’ll be ready on Sunday. For PPR scoring, I have Lockett higher than Mark Ingram on my board. Standard scoring, I have Ingram higher. (Did you really trade Mahomes for Gordon?)