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:
New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram – Running Back
Ingram should be a must start option, but he continues to share opportunities with Tim Hightower and that’s going to limit his potential appeal. Granted, he’s been the more productive runner over the past two weeks (26 carries for 208 yards and 1 TD) and we also know that Ingram has upside potential in the passing game as well. Carolina has been pretty stingy against the running game, yielding the third fewest points per week, which adds to the issues with utilizing him. At this point, though, we’d consider Ingram the better option and a player worth utilizing as a RB2 depending on your alternatives.
Tim Hightower – Running Back
The days of Hightower seeing a heavy workload appear to be behind us, as he saw a dramatic falloff in carries in Week 10:
- Week 8 – 26 carries (3.9 YPC)
- Week 9 – 23 carries (3.8 YPC)
- Week 10 – 8 carries (2.6 YPC)
Obviously the production wasn’t overly impressive either. He’s going to continue taking touches away from Ingram, but that’s hardly enough. Hightower can be on the FLEX spectrum, but given the matchup and unsure usage he’s going to be a risky play (at best). We’d rather look towards other options.
Brandin Cooks – Wide Receiver
He’s scored in four of the past five games, which is promising, but he’s also been targeted 6 times or fewer in each of the past three weeks. That’s a tough workload to depend on, even though he’s arguably the best receiver on his team playing against a secondary that has allowed the ninth most yards to opposing wide receivers this season (1,653). He’s a borderline WR2, but worth utilizing as a WR3.
Willie Snead – Wide Receiver
Snead caught a pair of TD passes this past week, but he faces a similar issue to Cooks in that his opportunities could be limited (7 targets in each of the past two games). He hasn’t topped 100 yards since Week 1 and only has one other game over 60 yards. It’s easy to get excited after the big scoring game, but he is more of a borderline WR3 given the limited production.
Michael Thomas – Wide Receiver
He appeared to be primed to emerge as the most trustworthy receiving option, though he’s now been targeted 6 times in two of the past three games (and has under 75 yards in three straight). In fact he’s surpassed 80 yards just once this season, meaning his been dependent on the TD to rack up his points. Throw in losing two fumbles in Week 10 and you have to wonder how many opportunities he’s going to get. He’ll definitely be involved, but he’s hard to trust.
Coby Fleener – Tight End
This was supposed to be a breakout season, but he’s posted less than 50 yards in four straight games. In fact he’s been over 50 yards just twice all season and has seen more than 6 targets three times. There are ample tight end options out there that he’s not worth gambling on this early in the week.
Must Start Options:
- Drew Brees – Quarterback
Note – It’s rare that we have so much certainty from a team, but the Panthers offense is fairly straight forward. We all know who the go to options are, and the upside is significant across the board. Thursday night game or not, don’t shy away from them.
Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver
You can argue that Funchess is the one “intriguing” player that the Panthers have, especially coming off a game where he scored a TD. That said he hasn’t had more than 6 targets in any game and his 56 yards in Week 10 matches a season high. He’s TD dependent, and given the other skill players that’s not something we’d be willing to bet on. He’s an intriguing player to monitor, but he has no value for now.
Must Start Options:
- Cam Newton – Quarterback
- Jonathan Stewart – Running Back
- Kelvin Benjamin – Wide Receiver
- Greg Olsen – Tight End
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 11 rankings: