by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week). Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups? Who should be sat down? Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:
Cody Kessler – Quarterback
Sure he’s shown signs, at times, but in the four games in which he’s thrown at least 27 passes he has a total of 4 TD (and more than 1 TD once). He’s also cracked 250 yards just once and hasn’t shown an ability to run the football (13 yards on 9 carries). With those types of numbers he’s barely a two-quarterback option, let alone one to trust in single quarterback formats.
Isaiah Crowell – Running Back
He’s had some big games, but those came early in the season. Just look at his performances over the past five weeks:
- vs. New England – 13 carries for 22 yards (1.7 YPC)
- at Tennessee – 9 carries for 16 yards (1.8 YPC)
- at Cincinnati – 12 carries for 63 yards (5.3 YPC)
- vs. New York Jets – 11 carries for 29 yards (2.6 YPC)
- vs. Dallas – 6 carries for 4 yards (0.7 YPC)
Sure he scored 2 TD, but those are generally some ugly numbers. He’s made some plays in the passing game, however the Ravens are allowing the fewest points per game to opposing running backs so it’s nearly impossible to trust him. It all depends on your alternatives, but this early in the week he’d be more like a FLEX option.
Duke Johnson – Running Back
At this point you’d argue that he’s the more trustworthy back, but he hasn’t topped 6 carries in the past five games (and only once has more than 6 receptions over that span). He has the potential for a big day, but the inconsistent usage makes him a tough sell.
Corey Coleman – Wide Receiver
He played for the first time since Week 2 last week, though he did show some rust (3 receptions for 41 yards on 7 targets). The Ravens have allowed the third most points per week to opposing wide receivers and things have been even worse over the past four weeks. That means the upside is there, and with an extra week of practice to get back up to speed there’s potential for him to blow up. Of course there’s also risk, with Terrelle Pryor potentially being the go to receiver, but as a WR3 there could be appeal. It all depends on your alternatives but don’t rule him out as an option.
Gary Barnidge – Tight End
He had just 3 targets last week, and you have to wonder how much of an impact the return of Corey Coleman will cut into his opportunities. He’s had 5 targets or fewer four times this season, and three of them have come in the games that Coleman appeared in. In other words, he’s impossible to trust.
Must Use Option:
- Terrelle Pryor – Wide Receiver
Joe Flacco – Quarterback
We’d love to name him a must start option, and if he had been playing better the matchup against the Browns would be a no-brainer to expose. That said he’s thrown for fewer than 250 yards in three of the past four games and hasn’t topped 1 TD throw in a game since Week 2 (which did come against the Browns). Overall this season he has 6 TD vs. 7 INT, but then again the Browns have allowed the third most points per week to opposing quarterbacks. The matchups keeps him as a high-end QB2, but given his performance he’s too risky as a QB1.
Terrance West – Running Back
He’s failed to break a run of more than 9 yards over the past two weeks, totaling 23 carries for 31 yards. Impressive matchup or not, would it be surprising to see the Ravens start to give others a look considering his recent struggles? He’s a FLEX option, but it’s hard to depend on him as anything more than that.
Kenneth Dixon – Running Back
He had a season high 9 carries last week, and while he mustered only 13 yards the struggles of West could easily lead to more opportunities. That puts Dixon on our radar, but the uncertainty in his touches makes him a hard sell. We’d prefer to use West, but if you are desperate the potential of building up a big lead and then giving Dixon touches gives him FLEX allure.
Mike Wallace – Wide Receiver
He’s racked up 97+ yards in three straight games, though part of it has been reliant on big plays (receptions of 50+ yards in each game). The Browns are tied for the second most passing plays of 40+ yards (9), so there’s a good chance he continues to roll. There is a bit of boom or bust to his game, but at this point the boom is a pretty good bet. While he’s not a must use WR2, he’s a solid option.
Steve Smith – Wide Receiver
After missing nearly a month, Smith returned last week and posted 4 receptions (on 7 targets) for 47 yards. He should play a big role, but he’s a bit of a riskier bet than Wallace is. Consider him a potential WR3 and nothing more.
Dennis Pitta – Tight End
He’s coming off a game where he saw just 3 targets and has had fewer than 50 yards in six of eight games. Throw in the lack of a TD (he has yet to score) and Pitta is a TE2 at best.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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