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:
Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback
In the blink of an eye the overall outlook got that much better for Taylor. It’s amazing how things change with one addition, as Taylor now has a legitimate play maker at his disposal. Obviously it may take a week or two for Kelvin Benjamin and Taylor to gain some traction/rapport, but he’s an immediate threat in the red zone and could pop a big play at any time.Robby And
Is the acquisition enough to push Taylor into QB1 status for this week, filled with maneuvering byes? It’s close, though he’s not necessarily a must start option in what is a favorable matchup. The Jets have allowed 17 TD vs. 8 INT and are banged up in the secondary (both Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine banged up, though Skrine has cleared the concussion protocol and New York acquired Rashard Robinson at the deadline from San Francisco). This all comes down to your alternative, but using him is reasonable. Consider him a Top 15 option.
Verdict – Usable option, depending on your alternative (Top 15 QB)
Kelvin Benjamin – Wide Receiver
The only question with Benjamin is how quickly it will take him to get up to speed and see a full workload. Is he going to be limited in his snaps, with little time to get acquainted with the offense? Is he going to see the targets go elsewhere, while he builds a rapport/timing with Taylor? That’s the wild card, but the upside is there against a banged up secondary and in a favorable matchup. We’d love to slot him in as a WR1, but there are questions that could limit him. That said, he’s a locked in WR2 with WR1 upside.
Verdict – Must use WR2 with even more upside
Jordan Mathews – Wide Receiver
The acquisition of Kelvin Benjamin locks Mathews into a slot role, which is exactly where he belongs. The trade also gives opposing defenses a different player to focus on, which should open things up. There’s a good chance that the numbers improve, as he’s struggled thus far (he hasn’t broken a reception for more than 9 yards in October), though we’d take more of a wait and see approach. We can make similar statements about all of Buffalo’s receivers. Outside of Benjamin, no one is trustworthy enough.
Verdict – Must sit
Nick O’Leary – Tight End
With Charles Clay out, O’Leary is going to share tight end duties with Logan Thomas. O’Leary has had some decent days of late, including a pair of 50+ yard games. The Jets are allowing the fifth most points per week to opposing tight ends, and the addition of Benjamin will open things up even further. That makes O’Leary an intriguing bye week fill-in, if you are desperate, but it’s still going to be tough to trust him.
Verdict – Viable bye week flier if you are desperate
Must Start Options
- LeSean McCoy – Running Back
New York Jets
Josh McCown – Quarterback
McCown has been a surprisingly productive quarterback thus far, as he’s completed 70.5% of his passes overall and has thrown for at least 2 TD in four straight games (9 TD vs. 4 INT). The problem is that it’s not an easy matchup, as the Bills have allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing QB with just 6 TD vs. 11 INT. Considering the questionable supporting cast, despite what they’ve accomplished, and utilizing McCown as a QB1 is an impossible sell.
Could you use him in two-quarterback formats? Considering the questions around the league and with six teams on bye, absolutely. That said if I am picking among the quarterbacks playing on Thursday night I’d rather roll the dice on Taylor as of today.
Verdict – Usable only in two-quarterback formats
Matt Forte/Bilal Powell – Running Back
Let’s lump together this convoluted running back committee, as there is never a guarantee as to who the leader will be. Plus, are either of them particularly productive? Just look at the rushing numbers from last week:
- Matt Forte – 4 carries for 7 yards
- Bilal Powell – 14 carries for 33 yards
Both factored into the passing game, combining for 9 receptions on 10 targets, but again they shared the duties. The passing game is where the Jets duo could find some opportunity, though even that may be a tough sell (338 yards, 1 TD allowed by Buffalo) considering the uncertainty as to who makes the plays. We’d prioritize Forte over Powell, but both are just desperation plays.
Verdict – Dart throw FLEX in PPR formats (Forte preferred option)
Robby Anderson – Wide Receiver
He’s scored in back-to-back games, but you can argue that he’s a bit of a boom or bust threat. Anderson has broken 8 receptions for at least 20 yards (tied for sixth most in the league) and Buffalo is middle of the pack in that regard (23 passing plays of 20+ yards). In other words the opportunity will be there, but if it doesn’t happen he could easily put up a near 0 day. He’s turned 52 targets into just 27 receptions and he’s been targeted more than 6 times just twice in a game. He’s the epitome of boom or bust, meaning he’s nothing more than a WR3.
Verdict – Boom or bust WR3
Jermaine Kearse – Wide Receiver
Kearse is the opposite of Anderson in that he’s more of a “trustworthy” receiver. He’s converted a significantly better percentage of his opportunities (29 receptions on 42 targets), and he has scored 4 TD. At the same time he’s averaging 11.8 yards per reception and the TD/targets have diminished as Anderson and Seferian-Jenkins have started to emerge.
Verdict – Too much risk this early in the week
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Tight End
He’s not a must start option, but the Bills have allowed the tenth most points per week to opposing tight ends. Seferian-Jenkins averaged 5.2 receptions per game in October, and while he hasn’t broken many big plays he has become one of the go to red zone threats. That makes him an intriguing bye week fill-in, and a borderline Top 10 option.
Verdict – Viable TE1, but not must start
Sources – ESPN, CBS Sports, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings: