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A recipe for success

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Colin Kaepernick has been all over the media this season, but not for his play on the field. Kaepernick started the season injured, and behind Blaine Gabbert on the official depth chart. That didn't stop him from making headlines, as Kaepernick was the first NFL player to refuse to stand for the national anthem. His actions led to speculation that he could be cut from the roster, or just told to stay home for the rest of the season.

The 49ers chose to ride out the PR storm and let things blow over. It wasn't until Week 6 that Kaepernick was ready to take over the starting role, and his first two games were less than impressive, with a combined total of 330 passing yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. That all changed this week as the 49ers took on the Saints, whose pass defense has been suspect all season. I told people via social media to give Kaepernick a look if their QB was on a bye, and boy oh boy did he pay off (see below)!

In other news, the Broncos were absolutely embarrassed Sunday night by the Raiders, losing 30-20 in a game that wasn't as close as the scoreboard would suggest. The biggest news to come out of the game for fantasy owners is that Kapri Bibbs' effort was enough to make the Broncos consider swapping RB spots on the depth chart with Devontae Booker and Bibbs. Nothing is certain yet, but Bibbs is worth a speculation add on the waiver wire this week.

Now is the time to go grab Thomas Rawls off the waiver wire. Outside of the 49ers game back in Week 3 (106 rushing yards and 2 TDs), Christine Michael hasn't had more than 66 yards rushing in a game this season. He is clearly not the answer at RB, and the Seahawks seem to know it after giving him just 5 carries (1 yard and a touchdown) Monday Night.

Winners

Colin Kaepernick – 49ers: There is nothing like playing the Saints to jumpstart a QB, and that is just what happened this weekend when Kaepernick threw his way to 398 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He chipped in 23 yards rushing, but lost a fumble, which basically cancels each other out in terms of fantasy points.

If you picked up, and played, Kaepernick this weekend, you caught lightning in a bottle. The problem is, he doesn't play the Saints every week. He takes on a much tougher Cardinals defense in Week 11, putting him right back on the waiver wire where you got him.

Marcus Mariota – Titans: Mariota was the prototypical fantasy QB this weekend; winning games in fantasy, killing his team in reality. The young QB was able to amass 313 passing yards, 4 TDs (3 throwing, 1 running), and 14 rushing yards. But he also threw 2 INTs (one was a pick-six) and lost a fumble (which was returned for a touchdown).

The numbers look good enough on paper, but the reality is he is miles from being the QB they suggest. Part of the blame can be on his targets, part can be on his coaching, and still another part he has to accept himself. Mariota is a fringe QB2 most weeks, and someone I would rather avoid if at all possible.

Dak Prescott – Cowboys: It was no mystery that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys would be a hot commodity this week in fantasy football, given their matchup, with the Browns struggling on both sides of the ball. Prescott took full advantage of the situation by throwing for 247 yards, 3 TDs, and no INTs. I'll admit that I didn't think the Cowboys had a chance when Tony Romo went down. But now I think Romo should remain on the bench in favor of the rookie, who is obviously the future at QB.

Prescott could have been better, if Dez Bryant hadn't gone missing this week. The impressive thing for me is Prescott did it without his main weapon at WR, instead leaning on his 34-year-old TE, Jason Witten (8/134/1). While Prescott will be in the QB1 discussion for Week 11 as he takes on the Steelers, owners need to know that his remaining strength of schedule is 17th-best for QBs. Just something to keep in mind for the fantasy playoffs.

Latavius Murray – Raiders: Murray is someone I've been targeting in trade talks as we approach the deadline, but my interest had been based more on his remaining S.O.S. (6th-best for RBs) than his production up to this point (46.5 YPG rushing). However, that changed this week as Murray rumbled his way to 114 yards and 3 TDs on the ground.

Murray's trade value is going to spike now, putting you in the possible predicament of paying a premium to get him. His schedule is great for fantasy RBs, but I would only trade for him if the price is fair. He isn't someone I would pay 1.5x value to get.

Mark Ingram & Tim Hightower – Saints: There are few things in the NFL that will light a fire under a player like the possibility of losing your starting job. But that is just what Mark Ingram is dealing with after the fumble monster once against visited him in Week 8. With the Saints on the road to take on the worst run D in the NFL (49ers give up 29.7 PPG to fantasy RBs), Ingram and Hightower were set for a "hot hand" role where the Saints would just roll with whomever was doing the best.

Fantasy owners got the best of both worlds, as both guys finished with RB1 numbers this week. Ingram was able to run the ball 15 times for 158 yards and a touchdown, while adding 2 catches for 13 yards and another touchdown. Hightower racked up 23 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown, and added a single catch for 15 yards.

My gut feeling here is Ingram did enough to retain his job as the No. 1 RB for the Saints. Hightower is going to remain involved, but more as a 1B option to Ingram's 1A. With that said, I want no part of either RB in Week 11. The Broncos are headed to New Orleans with a chip on their shoulder after getting manhandled by the Raiders this week.

Allen Robinson – Jaguars: Robinson has started paying dividends the last two weeks for fantasy owners who were patient enough to hold on to him. Last week A-Rob hauled in 6 of 15 targets for 70 yards; this week he snatched 7 of 11 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. The 11 targets this week ranked him 8th for WRs, and the two-week total of 26 ranks him 2nd in the NFL for WRs.

Robinson and Blake Bortles (252 passing yards, 54 yards rushing, 2 TDs, 1 INT) have an undeniable chemistry with one another on the field. With Marqise Lee (4 of 8 targets for 84 yards) healthy, and looking like the No. 2 WR they drafted him to be, Robinson is able to see fewer double coverages than he did last year. Add Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon running the ball hard, and you have an offense that is on the cusp of turning the corner. I know people think I'm crazy, but I truly do believe the Jaguars offense is RIGHT THERE when it comes to breaking out.

  • Allen Hurns is in the concussion protocol, putting Lee on the waiver wire target this week for WR-needy teams.

Rishard Matthews – Titans: For those of you who aren't familiar with Rishard Matthews, let me introduce you to Mr. TD-or-bust. Matthews has scored 5 times this season, but he has just 2 games with 70-plus yards. This week he was able to reel in 6 of 10 targets for 63 yards and 2 TDs against the Chargers.

The Titans are desperate for playmakers at WR, with Tajae Sharpe nowhere near the No. 1 they have him slotted at, and Kendall Wright still trying to figure out what type of WR he is exactly. Matthews is a true TD-or-bust play every single week, and you have to wonder if Mariota will keep looking his way with Delanie Walker looking healthy (ish) once again. He's a WR3, but not someone I want to have in my lineup.

Antonio Gates – Chargers: At 36 years old, Antonio Gates is probably in the final year of his Hall of Fame career with the Chargers. That, however, hasn't stopped him from being a beast on the field, racking up 4 TDs in 7 games this year. His yardage total leaves a lot to be desired (32.4 YPG), but he set a season-high in Week 9 as he hauled in 5 of 9 targets for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Gates gets the Dolphins in Week 10, and they're only giving up 6.5 PPG to TEs this season, 13th-fewest in the NFL. Furthermore, they've given up just 2 touchdowns to TEs this year, making Gates someone I would take a long, hard look at in this coming week.

Baltimore Ravens defense: The Ravens and Steelers faced off in a game that was pivotal in determining how the AFC North standings would look as we head into the 2nd half of the NFL season. If the Steelers won, they would go up two games on the Ravens; if the Ravens won, they would tie things up in the AFC North. The game was even more interesting with Ben Roethlisberger coming back from a torn MCL after missing just one game.

Well, it looked like Big Ben really should have sat out another week, as the Steelers had more penalty yards than offensive yards all the way up to the 3rd quarter, I believe. The Steelers were able to get some garbage time points, which slightly hurt the Ravens' overall fantasy numbers on defense. Regardless, the Ravens defense still allowed just 14 points, while netting owners 2 sacks, 1 INT, and a defensive touchdown off a blocked punt.

This isn't the 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense, but they put up a top-5 fantasy effort this week, and are in the top 10 for fantasy defenses this season.

Losers

Derek Carr – Raiders: I warned people not to start Carr this week, even with CBs Aqib Talib and Kayvon Webster, so hopefully you listened. Carr was the worst fantasy QB in Week 9, mustering just 184 empty passing yards on the day. The Raiders really didn't need him with Murray going all beast mode on the Broncos, but that doesn't do much for the fantasy owners who started him.

The Raiders have a bye in Week 10, then take on a Texans defense that is ranked 2nd against fantasy QBs (15.7 PPG allowed). Carr will be a QB2 for me in Week 11, so I'd plan ahead if you can.

Cam Newton – Panthers: I had higher expectations for Newton this week, taking on a Rams team that seems to be without direction on offense and defense. That wasn't to be, though, as Newton finished with just 225 passing yards, 16 rushing yards, and a single touchdown on the day. He was also sacked 5 times, for those in leagues where that is counted as a negative.

Newton has just one touchdown over the past 2 games, and has another tough matchup in Week 10 against the Chiefs. I would strongly consider other options next week at QB, as Newton just doesn't look like he has the same nose for the endzone he did earlier in the season.

Jerick McKinnon – Vikings: For those with good memories, try to remember when Adrian Peterson went down for the year, and I talked about Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. Do you remember what I said? Luckily, I do. I said Asiata would end up with more fantasy value than McKinnon, regardless who the Vikings list atop their depth chart. And guess what? Asiata is the more valuable RB.

McKinnon managed just 8 yards on 7 carries this week, which averages out to a whopping 1.1 YPC. With him averaging just 32.1 YPG rushing, and a single touchdown to his credit, it amazes me that he is still owned in nearly 60 percent of fantasy leagues right now. McKinnon is nothing more than a warm body for the Vikings, and should be on your waiver wire.

Devontae Booker – Broncos: When C.J. Anderson went down for the year, fantasy owners rushed to the waiver wire to put in a claim for Devontae Booker, who was managing to get 40-yard games on as little as 5 carries. The job was his to lose with nobody other than practice squad RB Kapri Bibbs backing him up. One thing I can say for Booker: he IS consistent.

After Anderson went down, and Booker was inserted as the Broncos No. 1 RB, he continued to average roughly the same yardage (38.0 yards) in his two starts. To make matters worse, Bibbs hauled in a 69-yard touchdown pass that now has the Broncos thinking they need to give him an extended look, possibly at Booker's expense.

The RB situation in Denver is murky right now, but fantasy owners would be smart to grab Bibbs on the waiver wire this week.

Jarvis Landry – Dolphins: Landry is clearly the Dolphins' No. 1 WR, accounting for 29 percent of the passes thrown by Ryan Tannehill. To put that in perspective, his thrown to percentage is 3rd in the NFL, behind Mike Evans (32.0) and A.J. Green (31.0). His problem, in my opinion, is Tannehill is maxed out in terms of talent, and the Dolphins are trying to hide that by running Jay Ajayi 90 times over the past 4 games.

This week Landry saw just 6 targets, catching 3 of them for 33 yards. If the Dolphins continue to use a run-heavy philosophy, and pass only when they need to, Landry is going to head into the fantasy playoffs as a No. 1 WR you have to consider benching.

Dez Bryant – Cowboys: There are fantasy leagues right now littered with milk cartons featuring Dez Bryant's picture and a caption that reads, "Last seen headed to Cleveland." Bryant did have Joe Haden covering him, but the Browns' shut-down corner has been a shell of his former self all season.

Bryant saw just 4 targets on the day, of which he caught just one for 19 yards. It's especially disappointing on a day when Dak Prescott had such an impressive performance. I've been fairly outspoken for a while in my dislike for Bryant as a fantasy WR. He is basically a guy you draft in the 1st or 2nd round, and end up regretting it most weeks. He'll have a few 100-yard games each year, but he will have a bunch of bench warmer numbers in between.

Dennis Pitta – Ravens: We all know TE is an all-or-nothing position in fantasy football, so when a TE gets you nothing (unless his name is Rob Gronkowski), you can normally brush it off. Pitta is no exception, getting his owners 2 catches and 14 yards this week. The reason he made the losers list is because he had drawn an impressive 28 targets over the previous 3 games.

Pitta had been a safety net for Joe Flacco, with Steve Smith out. Now that Smith is back, he is gobbling up the targets that were Pitta's before. He'll remain a TD-dependent play as long as Smith is healthy.

Denver Broncos defense: The Broncos are one of the only fantasy defenses that is 100 percent owned this year, with the only other real possibilities being the Seahawks and Vikings. With that being the case, it's hard to imagine them finishing any week as one of the worst fantasy defenses in the league. However, that was the case in Week 9 as the Raiders put 30 points on the board against them, and allowed just 2 sacks for defensive stats.

Aqib Talib is going to be out again next week, which is especially worrisome considering they are facing Drew Brees, on the road. I would strongly consider benching the Broncos defense in Week 10 if you can do it.

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