by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky as it is, 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:
Kenny Stills – Wide Receiver
While Jarvis Landry has been finding the end zone of late, Matt Moore taking over for the injured Jay Cutler could change that. As it is Stills has scored 3 TD over the past two games, and both of his TD in Week 7 came courtesy of Moore in the fourth quarter (a 28-yard TD as well as a 2-yard TD). Let’s go back to last season, where Moore threw 8 TD over a three game span. Stills scored 3 of those, with 1 TD per game, so in the past four games Moore has played in 5 of his 10 TD have gone to Stills.
That alone has got to put Stills on all radars, especially in three-receiver formats. The matchup isn’t ideal, with the Ravens allowing the third fewest points to opposing WR (including just 3 TD), so it’s not a lock that he finds the end zone. In a better matchup he’d be a must play, but in this one he’s a potential streaming option if you are desperate.
Verdict – Boom or Bust/TD dependent WR3
DeVante Parker – Wide Receiver
He’s sat out the past two weeks with an ankle injury, and while a limited practice on Tuesday gives him a shot to return would anyone trust him if he did? Matt Moore is going to be under center, which hurts the offense in general, and there’s a good chance Parker operates on a “pitch count” or is used more as a decoy. It’s not like he’s been overly impressive to begin with (19 receptions, 236 yards, 1 TD) and even if he plays Parker is an easy sit.
Verdict – Must Sit
Julius Thomas – Tight End
Thomas is on radars due to a favorable matchup, but the TE opportunities could conceivably go to Anthony Fasano instead. Thomas has been a disappointment (15 catches for 166 yards and 0 TD), but if you need a bye week fill-in he’s got enough upside to take the gamble.
Verdict – Nothing more than a desperation bye week fill-in
Must Play Options
- Jay Ajayi – Running Back
- Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver
Joe Flacco – Quarterback
On the season Flacco has thrown 5 TD vs. 8 INT… Let that ratio sink in for just a moment. He has thrown 1 TD over his past three games, hasn’t exceeded 235 yards in any game and has thrown for more than 1 TD just once. If he offered something with his legs than maybe, but as things currently stand he’s an impossible player to trust.
Verdict – Desperation QB2 due to bye weeks
Alex Collins – Running Back
The big question facing Collins has been his ball security, but he’s now gone three straight games without a fumble and is averaging 5.9 yards per carry on the season. The Dolphins have done a good job of stopping opposing RB, allowing 3.9 yards per carry, and while it’s a better matchup than Collins had in Week 7 (the Vikings are allowing the second fewest points per week to opposing RB) it’s not a significantly better one.
Collins also isn’t a factor in the passing game and has yet to find the end zone, so he could prove to be a workload dependent option. He has gotten 10-15 touches each of the past three weeks, but that’s not a guarantee nor is it enough.
Verdict – Risky FLEX play
Javorius Allen – Running Back
While he may not carry the load on the ground, for those in PPR formats Allen has proven to be a valuable commodity. He leads the Ravens in both receptions (31) and targets (39), and with Flacco’s struggles he should continue to see his opportunities. Of course he hasn’t turned those into many yards (4.6 yards/reception) and his 3.7 yards/carry is nothing to get excited about. Given the bye weeks we could see him operating as a FLEX play, but he has a high likelihood of a bust performance.
Verdict – Boom or Bust PPR FLEX
Jeremy Maclin – Wide Receiver
Maclin has missed the past two weeks with a shoulder injury and while he’s been practicing on a limited basis he faces the same questions that Parker does for the Ravens. Could they give him more rest? Could he be a decoy? Could he even produce, considering the quarterback play? Considering his underwhelming numbers he’s impossible to trust.
Verdict – Must sit
Mike Wallace – Wide Receiver
He’s trying to get through the concussion protocol, but on a short week it’s tough to envision. Even if he does play, the “leader” of the receiving corps has just 16 catches for 248 yards and 2 TD. No one from this group can be trusted.
Verdict – Sit
Ben Watson – Tight End
Watson has been the beneficiary of the injuries/struggles of the receiving corps. Having been targeted 35 times, he has 29 catches, 214 yards and 1 TD. Of course those aren’t exciting numbers themselves, but given the bye weeks and a matchup that could be exploited he’s not the craziest fill-in.
Verdict – Not ideal, but potential TE1 bye week fill-in
Must Play Options
Sources – ESPN, CBS Sports, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: