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:
Marcus Mariota – Quarterback
Many will want to believe that he’s a viable option, given the name, but the numbers tell a completely different story. Thus far he’s thrown for 1,783 yards, 7 TD and 6 INT, with his overall value being buoyed by running the football (3 TD). With that being the sole “value”, it’s hard to get excited considering the Steelers have allowed the third fewest points per week to opposing quarterbacks and limited them in all aspects:
- Passing – 1,851 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT
- Rushing – 69 yards, 1 TD
Lack of Production + Difficult Matchup? There’s little appeal.
Verdict – Borderline QB2, but unusable in anything but deeper formats
DeMarco Murray – Running Back
It’s impossible to call him a must use RB1, as much as we’d love to, as he’s fallen into a timeshare with Derrick Henry. If that wasn’t enough Murray has also struggled mightily, especially over the past four games, averaging 3.0 yards per carry on 53 carries. He is capable of finding the end zone, coming off a 3 TD performance (2 rushing, 1 receiving), but that’s hard to count on from a player who has 5 total TD on the season. Throw in the matchup, with the Steelers allowing 5 total TD to opposing RB, and Murray is more of a risky RB2.
Verdict – RB2 play, but there’s risk
Derrick Henry – Running Back
Henry has had a bit more spring than Murray, averaging 4.4 yards per carry on the season, and he is sharing time. He’s dependent on the one home run though, and that’s not out of the question with Pittsburgh having allowed 10 runs of at least 20+ yards (tied for tenth most in the league). Obviously there’s a lot of boom or bust to his game and that keeps him on the FLEX radar as opposed to being anything more.
Verdict – High risk, high reward FLEX play
Corey Davis – Wide Receiver
Davis has been hit or miss in the target department over his four games played, including 10 targets this past week against the Bengals. However he turned those opportunities into 4 catches for 48 yards and he also lost a fumble in the process. With a very similar matchup and not much time to work on his rapport with his QB, Davis is a tough sell even as a WR3.
Verdict – Desperation WR3 and nothing more
Rishard Matthews – Wide Receiver
He’s been the team’s best receiver, though part of that is due to the absence of Corey Davis. It’s a “default” label, especially with the numbers lacking appeal (36 receptions, 513 yards, 2 TD). He doesn’t have the upside of Davis, though carries the same matchup concerns. In other words, he’s an even worse desperation play.
Verdict – Nearly impossible to trust
Must Start Option:
- Delanie Walker – Tight End
Ben Roethlisberger – Quarterback
Roethlisberger is often viewed as a must use option, though that shouldn’t be the case this season. Just look at these four numbers….
17… 14… 17… 19…
Those are the number of completions he’s had over the first four games. That said he’s a known commodity in a fairly favorable matchup, as the Titans have allowed the ninth most completions to opposing QB (205) as well as 17 TD. Is he an elite option? Nope, but he’s a solid play given the questions throughout the league.
Verdict – Viable QB1
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Wide Receiver
It’s impossible to think that he’s going to overtake Antonio Brown as the team’s top receiver, but he’s now scored in three straight games and has entrenched himself as the #2 receiver. Over the past two weeks he’s totaled 290 yards and 2 TD while turning 17 targets into 12 receptions. There is the risk of all of the opportunities going to Brown and Le’Veon Bell, plus Martavis Bryant is looming in the background. The recent production puts him as a borderline WR2, but he’s a clear must play WR3.
Verdict – Must play WR3
Martavis Bryant – Wide Receiver
The emergence of Smith-Schuster has made Bryant a forgotten man, and it makes sense. Bryant has missed time and as the third wheel is no guarantee to get more than a handful of targets. He’s become forgotten for a reason and he should remain that way until he proves otherwise.
Verdict – Must sit
Must Start Options:
- Le’Veon Bell – Running Back
- Antonio Brown – Wide Receiver
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 11 rankings: