by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Every decision is vital with your fantasy title hanging in the balance. Deciding on who to start and who to sit today could set the tone for your championship matchup, as you have the potential to either put your team in an early hole or build up a big lead. Let’s take a look at a few of the “trickier” decisions for today’s games and try to determine how to proceed:
Melvin Gordon – Running Back – Los Angeles Chargers
This is a tough situation due to several factors:
- While Gordon wasn’t included on the final injury report and he’s practiced in full this week, though he’s been out since Week 12
- The matchup is not an enviable one, with the Ravens allowing the second fewest points per week to opposing running backs
So we have what could be a questionable workload (will the Chargers ease him back into action) in one of the harder matchups to envision. Of course Gordon is one of the elite running backs in the league, and despite the missed time still has an outside chance of reaching 1,000 rushing yards (he has 802 yards and 9 TD thus far). We also can’t ignore his ability to catch the football, with 44 receptions and another 4 TD.
That dual threat is key, as the Ravens have allowed 258 total yards and 3 TD to opposing running backs over the past two weeks. There’s risk, but the potential reward keeps him as a must use option.
Verdict – Must Start (viable RB1)
Keenan Allen – Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Chargers
According to Ian Rapoport (via Twitter):
WR Keenan Allen, who is dealing with a hip pointer: “I’ve been given every
indication that he will be playing.” Sounds like his workouts went
Obviously there’s going to be some risk, especially with Gordon returning to the lineup. That said prior to getting injured in Week 15 Allen had been targeted at least seven times in six straight games (and 9+ targets, including a 19 target day, in four of them). He also had found the end zone in five straight. Those numbers make him difficult to sit unless you are loaded at the position.
Verdict – Start ‘Em (viable WR2, though with risk)
Derrick Henry – Running Back – Tennessee Titans
To say that Henry has erupted over the past two weeks would be an understatement:
- vs. Jacksonville – 238 yards and 4 TD
- at New York Giants – 170 yards and 2 TD
The obvious question is going to be whether or not he can come reasonably close to matching that type of production? He’s coming off a week where he received 33 carries, and even with Marcus Mariota banged up can we expect that type of usage?
Of course he may only need 20ish carries for another big day, with the Redskins allowing around 5.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (6.0 yards/carry over the past two weeks). Maybe he takes a step back slightly, but betting on another 100+ yard day seems fairly wise.
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Baltimore Ravens
It is hard to knock what Jackson has done since assuming the starting quarterback role for the Ravens (he’s gone 4-1). A lot of his damage have come with his legs, averaging 85.4 rushing yards/game, but even against a tough Chargers defense (seventh fewest points per week against opposing quarterbacks) on the road why would we think it couldn’t continue?
Over his past two games Jackson has thrown 3 TD vs. 0 INT and he’s now gone three straight games without an interception. That said he also hasn’t thrown for more than 178 yards in a game and is averaging less than 1 TD throw per start. Those numbers are going to help limit his appeal, as the Ravens focus on defense and ball control as opposed to trying to put up gaudy numbers.
Is Jackson a viable option this week? Absolutely, but there’s also enough risk to keep his ranking down. Consider him more of a QB2 than a must start, and it all comes down to your alternatives. Let’s put it this way, given the news out of New England we’d likely start Jackson over Tom Brady at this point (though how much does that say).
Verdict – Sit ‘Em (unless you play in a two-quarterback format)
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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