Waiver wire gems

Last week, I told you about a way you could still improve your team as you head into the final two weeks of the fantasy football regular season – the waiver wire. If you’re 6-6, or better, there’s still a chance to make the playoffs. But you’re going to have to work the waiver wire and take some chances.

I’m going to give you the names of ten players who are rostered in less than half of the Yahoo and ESPN leagues I play in. But first, stop reading this column and see if by some chance Alexander Mattison is available to claim. He’s 50 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues and 33 percent in ESPN.  

If you claim players in your league with FAB bids, make a large bid on Mattison (at least $25). If you play in a league where claims are filled based on waiver order, good luck. I put in a claim in one of the waiver-order leagues, and I have the 8th priority in a 10-team league. In other words, it’s unlikely I’ll get him.

As Dalvin Cook’s direct backup, Mattison shouldn’t be on the waiver wire. The Cook manager should have drafted him and kept him on the bench. Mattison, who is averaging 7.0 PPR points per game, has more than 20 FP in two weeks where Cook was ruled out. But what is Mattison’s fantasy outlook for Week 13 and beyond?

It was announced Monday that Cook suffered a torn labrum and dislocation of his left shoulder during Sunday’s loss. The injury isn’t believed to season-ending. Cook sustained a labrum tear in his other shoulder in 2019, tried to play through it for two games and then was out for two games before returning in dominant fashion.

In other words, it’s likely that Cook will miss the next two weeks and possibly additional time. I project Mattison to be a top-five fantasy back for the next two weeks. If you need a couple of wins to make the playoffs, Mattison is sheer gold. After that, the outlook for Mattison is unclear. If Cook misses time, Mattison is an RB1.  

If you are unable to claim Mattison, there are some other decent running back targets to consider on waivers ahead of Week 13. Chubba Hubbard, Jamaal Williams, Boston Scott, D’Onta Foreman and/or Dontrell Hillard. If you’re looking for Week 13 help, Hubbard, Foreman and Hilliard aren’t the answer since they have byes.  

CHUBA HUBBARD, RB, CAROLINA (39%/33.4%)

Hubbard finds himself in line to have a heavy workload after Christian McCaffrey injured his ankle on Sunday. That is his second IR designation of the season, which means his season is over. The rookie also filled in for CMC when he missed five games due to a hamstring injury earlier in the season and averaged 13 PPG.  

JAMAAL WILLIAMS, RB, DETROIT (39%/46%)

Williams’ backfield mate, D’Andre Swift, left Thursday’s game against the Bears with a sprained shoulder. The injury isn’t considered a serious one, but he could still end up missing at least one game. Williams played 63% of the snaps in Thursday’s game with Swift leaving early and would be a top-15 RB this week if Swift is ruled out.  

BOSTON SCOTT, RB, PHILADELPHIA (19%/17%)

Scott is another waiver wire option, though that situation in Philadelphia is murky. Jordan Howard missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury and Miles Sanders was limited in the second half after limping off with an ankle/foot injury. Scott led the team with 15 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown, adding three targets as well.

D’ONTA FOREMAN, RB, TENNESSEE (46%/41%)

Foreman had 19 carries for 109 yards and one reception Sunday and wasn’t even the leading rusher for the Titans. He was in one of my starting lineups, and his 10.2 FP didn’t make my day. But if he has managed to get into the end zone once or twice, it would have been a different story. He’s a good add in spite of having a bye in Week 13.

DONTRELL HILLIARD, RB, TENNESSEE (29%/27.9%)

Hilliard rushed 12 times for 131 yards and a touchdown and put up 22.5 FP Sunday in the Titans’ blowout loss. In spite of the game script, Hilliard and Foreman had 31 rushing attempts. Tennessee has been a mess without Derrick Henry, but with the volume those two are getting, Week 14 against the Jaguars could be good for both.

VAN JEFFERSON JR., WR, LA RAMS (49%/42.8)

Jefferson saw nine targets in Week 12, behind only Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham, who each saw 10. Jefferson caught three of those targets for 93 yards and a touchdown, while playing 98 percent of the snaps. He’s seen at least seven targets in three straight and four of the past five games. He’s a field stretcher, meaning his upside each week is high.

LAVISKA SHENAULT, JR., JACKSONVILLE (41%/46%)

Shenault saw a team-high nine targets in Week 12, including three in the red zone. This marked his third straight game with at least five targets. The Jags are using him in the slot more after losing Jamal Agnew for the season. Jacksonville has a favorable schedule coming up and Shenault has upside if the offense around him can get going.

MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING, WR, GREEN BAY (25%/12%)

Valdes-Scantling saw nine targets in Week 12, tied for the most on the team with Davante Davis. That is a week after he saw a team-high 10 targets. This week he caught four of them for 50 yards. A week ago, he caught four for 123 yards and a touchdown. He possesses great down-field ability, and he is clearly the second option in this passing game.

KENDRICK BOURNE, WR, NEW ENGLAND (23%/15.2%)

Did you know that Bourne was WR26 heading into Week 12? He’s moved up into WR2 territory after scoring two touchdowns and 23.1 FP Sunday in the Patriots’ 36-13 win over the Titans. Unlike Jason, this Bourne seems to know his identity after putting up his second 20-plus game in the last three. He’s another boom-or-bust option.    

JOSH REYNOLDS, WR, DETROIT (1%/1%)

The Lions have been desperate for a spark in the passing game, and Reynolds gave them one Thursday. Reynolds led the team with 70 receiving yards and a touchdown on three catches and five targets, and while the volume isn’t especially impressive, it did come out to a 20% target share. The ball has to go somewhere in this offense.

Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, also has a weekly column at CreativeSports. You can follow Thomas on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Waiver wire wellspring

In the last two weeks, I’ve given you the names of a dozen players you can trade for to turn your season around. With time running out, I now want to turn to the last remaining way to improve your team as you head into the home stretch of the fantasy season – the waiver wire. I believe that working the waiver wire can win you a championship.  

Many people believe you need to have the best selections in their respective fantasy football draft to win their league. This is simply not true.  The top picks in a draft generally gets you the top players from the previous year. Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara were drafted in the first round this year because of their track records.

I don’t want to minimize the importance of a good draft, but consider that after 11 weeks, McCaffrey is RB24, Cook is RB15 and Kamara is RB10. Meanwhile, James Conner is RB5. He was undrafted in some drafts. And Cordarrelle Patterson is RB12, and he was on every waiver wire during the regular season. These are based on PPR rankings.

Again, there’s no doubt that a good draft gives you a big boost heading into the regular season in fantasy football. But a fantasy championship is won through the waiver wire. Not only is the waiver wire a great tool on a week-by-week basis but also if you’re lucky enough, you can land the next Kamara and have him as a keeper for the following year.

In 2017, I had the first pick in my home league and drafted David Johnson. He was injured in the first quarter of the first game and never returned that season. I lost the first four matchups that year, while I scoured the waiver wire each week. In week 4, I picked up Kamara. The rookie RB had gotten off to a slow start but was emerging in New Orleans.

The same week that I got Kamara, I traded for Mark Ingram. This coincided with the surprising departure of Adrian Peterson that same week. Ingram, at age 28, set new career highs with 1,124 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Kamara added 728 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns and led the NFL with a 6.1-yard average per carry.

And that’s just what the tandem managed as rushers. Adding in what Ingram and Kamara did as receivers shows just how great the duo now known as “Boom and Zoom” became in 2017. Kamara caught 81 passes for 826 yards. Ingram had 58 receptions for 416 yards. Kamara was AP Rookie of the Year, and my fantasy team won a championship.

Four years later, I found myself without either of my starting running backs. As I’ve shared in this column three weeks ago, I lost first-round pick Derrick Henry to an injury in week 8. The best-case scenario has him returning in week 17. Carson, who had a neck injury and didn’t play after week 4, opted to have season-ending surgery. It’s back to the waiver wire.

Without my top running backs, I have been looking for temporary solutions to win each week. I picked up James Conner on waivers on November 6th, Devonta Freeman on the 10th, Ingram on the 11th, D’Ernest Johnson on the 12th (for a second time), Jeff Wilson on the 17th, D’Onta Foreman on the 17th and David Johnson on the 24th.

All of those acquisitions were made in the last three weeks. Before that, I picked up Alexander Mattison and used him effectively on two different occasions. I also picked up A.J. Dillon back in October but foolishly traded him for Myles Gaskin right before Aaron Jones was injured. I had also acquired Devantae Booker while Saquon Barkely was out.  

My point is that you must always utilize an opportunity to make a transaction and better your team for the following week, or for the season. In my case, I have managed to win two of my last three matchups since the Henry injury to improve my record to 7-4 in my home league. I’m currently tied for second place, but I’ve got a long way to go for a title.

Breakout players are bound to happen. Be ahead of the curve and find them on the wire. Each year, many of the best fantasy players are not even drafted in most leagues. A great example is Patterson, the Atlanta running back who came out of nowhere to achieve RB1 status. He was averaging 17.6 fantasy points per before he was injured in week 10. 

Speaking of breakouts, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not even drafted in some leagues when he broke out in 2018. That same year, Nick Chubb broke out in a big way for Cleveland. He was available on the waiver wire before the breakout. Chubb was playing behind Carlos Hyde but got his chance after the latter was traded midseason.

If you’re still in contention in your fantasy league, don’t go to sleep at the wheel. Even though we’re entering week 12, it’s still not too late to find the next potential breakout player or fantasy stud. Always utilize the tools given to you to win in fantasy football. The best thing about the waiver wire is it costs you literally nothing to use it.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Trading places, part 2

Last week, I told you about three players you should trade for and three you should trade away, as your league trade deadline approaches. I suggested that you go beyond simply looking to buy low and sell high because sometimes it’s advisable to sell low, or buy high. Look at your roster, and then look at the roster of each team in your league before making any trade offers.

This week, I am going to offer another three players you should trade for and three you should trade away. However, before we get into that, there’s another important consideration – your team record. If you’re 8-2 or 7-3, you can make a trade that might benefit you more down the road. But if you’re 5-5, or worse, you’d better make a trade that will benefit you now.

Let me use the example of A.J. Dillon. If you were fortunate enough to have Dillon rostered before Aaron Jones was injured in week 10, consider yourself fortunate. Dillon went from behind an RB4 to an RB1 in an instant. But it’s likely that he will only be an RB1 for one or two games. When Jones returns, Dillon will return to a mere mortal, putting up RB3 numbers at best.

Again, if you’re the fantasy manager at 5-5, you might want to overpay and acquire Dillon. If you are deep in wide receivers and trade D.K. Metcalf, or CeeDee Lamb, it might be worth it. That’s assuming you need an RB1 that can produce 20 or more points per game. If you have two running backs that can give you at least 15 points, you may not want to make that trade.  

With only four games left in the fantasy season, your position in the standings matters a lot.  The two games Dillon is likely to start could make a huge difference if you’re fighting for a playoff spot. I think Dillon is a top-12 RB for Week 11, and I might be short-selling him. He’s got legitimate top-five upside. But if you’re 7-3 and can get Metcalf for Dillon, you do that deal. 

If you’re 7-3 and have Dillon, moving him may not be the worst idea. Jones’ injury could linger, of course, but chances are if he’s healthy, Dillon is going to go back to being a fringe starter in a few weeks. Which won’t mean all that much to you come the playoffs. So, trying to move him for someone like Metcalf might be a really, really good idea in the long run.

As I shared in a previous column, I lost Derrick Henry on my home league team. Earlier in the season, I had also lost Chris Carson. He has a neck injury. Although he resumed practice last week, he didn’t play in week 10. His status is still up in the air in week 11. If you have Carson rostered, you have to accept the fact that he may not be back at all in 2021.  

Suffice it to say that I’ve been scrambling to pick up running backs that I can start in recent weeks. In week 9, I put in a claim for James Conner. I was surprised to find Conner on the waiver wire, recalling that he had been dropped a week earlier (probably because of byes). I got him and stashed him on my bench, where he proceeded to put up 40.30 fantasy points.

I don’t blame myself for benching Conner because Chase Edmonds was still healthy and ahead of Conner in the depth chart. But Edmonds was injured in the first quarter of that game. Entering week 10, Conner was a hot topic and I sold him on the buzz. I threw in Odell Beckham, who was gathering dust on my bench, and was able to land a big fish – wideout Stefon Diggs.

This was not an easy trade to make because Conner will be an RB1 until Edmonds returns (or Conner gets injured). But I’m looking beyond the next three or four weeks. If Diggs stays healthy, he’ll be a solid WR1 the rest of the season. This is just another example of a timely trade – one you can make right now if you have Conner rostered. Sell high if you can afford to.

Here are three more players I suggest you consider trading for:

DARRELL HENDERSON, RB, LA RAMS

For managers looking to bolster their rosters by acquiring a top-tier running back, Henderson might just be the perfect buy-low option ahead of Week 11. The entire Rams team forgot to show up the last two weeks, and Henderson had two single-digit games. Game script worked against him, but better times are ahead. Trade Conner, or someone like Michael Pittman for Henderson.

D.J. MOORE, WR, CAROLINA

When it comes to Sam Darnold, things can only get better for the Panthers. Whether Darnold starts to play better, or P.J. Walker plays better in his stead, better quarterback play will boost Moore’s fortunes. He’s had three straight single-digit games, but do you recall how he started the season averaging more than 22 points in the first four games? Buy low on Moore now.  

JALEN HURTS, QB, PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles had a pass or a sack on just 28.6% of their snaps in Weeks 8 and 9. For context, the lowest rate in the NFL this season is 49.8%. I can buy the Eagles being more run-heavy than your average team, but Hurts is going to get back to around 30 pass attempts per game and he’ll keep rushing for 60 yards per game. Try trading Kyler Murray for Hurts and a back or receiver.   

Here are three more players I suggest you trade away:

JONATHAN TAYLOR, RB, INDIANAPOLIS

I remember when people were disappointed in Taylor, back in week 3. In seven games since, Taylor is averaging 25.4 PPR points per game. That’s Christian McCaffrey territory. However, he’s averaging 1.36 Fantasy points per touch in that stretch; the best McCaffrey has ever averaged was 1.17 per touch. See if you can trade Taylor for Dalvin Cook and a good wideout.

CHRIS GODWIN, WR, TAMPA BAY

The good news for Godwin is we don’t know when Antonio Brown is going to be back from his ankle injury. But we do know he’ll be back at some point because the Bucs would’ve put him on IR if he wasn’t. Godwin is an amazing player, but he’s been beyond amazing with Brown gone.

He’s averaged 14.7 PPR points per game with Brown active compared to 26.6 with Brown out.

LAMAR JACKSON, QB, BALTIMORE

I don’t understand the hype surrounding Jackson. Other analysts are saying to buy Jackson now, but I guess I’m a contrarian. He’s QB5 right now for the season, and he’s got Chicago, Cleveland (twice), and Pittsburgh in the next four games. See if the disappointed manager with Aaron Jones wants to trade him for Jackson. If you have a winning record, do this deal right now.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Trading places

We’re heading into the 10th week of the regular season for fantasy football, and if you have a losing record at this point, it’s time to take action to improve your team – before it’s too late. There no quicker way to transform your team than to complete a good trade. Everyone knows you should buy low and sell high, but sometimes it’s reasonable to sell low, or buy high. The key to a good trade is timing. Look at your roster, and then look at the roster of each team in your league. You must understand what they need before you propose a trade. The trade deadline in most leagues is between November 20th and December 1st.  

Here are three players to trade for because I think their best days are ahead of them.

STEFON DIGGS, WR BUFFALO

It’s hard to believe that Diggs has topped 100 yards only once this season. His performance in a week 9 matchup against the Jaguars was expected to be a get-right spot for Diggs, but Buffalo had their worst game of the year in Jacksonville. Diggs still caught six passes for 85 yards on eight targets. But he’s yet to break out like he did in 2020. Still, he’s averaging more than 15 points per game. Now, the Bills get the Jets at home, and I expect Josh Allen & Co. to come out on fire. There are also other favorable matchups to come, so buy low on Diggs. Trade Saquon Barkley, or James Robinson someone desperate for a running back.   

JAMES CONNER, RB, ARIZONA

Conner has been dominating carries inside the five-yard line, but Chase Edmonds has split carries with him and has been getting several targets per game. Then the news broke Monday that Edmonds suffered a high-ankle sprain and is likely to miss 4-6 weeks. When Edmonds limped off the field Sunday, Conner went to work. He carried the ball 21 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught five passes for 77 yards and another touchdown. Conner has 11 touchdowns in his first nine games. If someone would trade Conner for Antonio Gibson, David Montgomery or Michael Carter, do the deal without hesitation.

DALLAS GOEDERT, TE, PHILADELPHIA

When Goedert missed week 6 because of COVID, someone in my home league dropped him. Suffice it to say that I broke the FAB bank to land him. The reason was because Zach Ertz had been traded, and Goedert finally had his chance to be THE tight end in Philadelphia. Your window to buy low on Goedert is still open because he hasn’t been dominant yet. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is having a difficult time getting on the same page with the talented tight end, but that could end soon. If you have George Kittle, offer to trade for Goedert and ask your trading partner to throw in a running back like A.J. Dillon or Alexander Mattison.     

Here are three players to trade away because I think their best days are behind them.

PATRICK MAHOMES, QB, KANSAS CITY

There are plenty of analysts who will tell you to “buy low” on Mahomes. I will take the contrarian view. No one can doubt the talent of Mahomes, who has led his team to two Super Bowl in a row. In my opinion, you’re not going to buy low on Showtime. But it’s noteworthy that Mahomes has slipped to QB7 in fantasy this year. I could be wrong, but I think Mahomes is a depreciating asset. It’s not unreasonable to think that there might be some kind of fatal flaw in the Chiefs offense that is going to derail them this season. If you have Mahomes rostered, try trading him for Elijah Mitchell, or Mike Evans. Then stream the position.

ANTONIO GIBSON, RB, WASHINGTON

Humility is a good quality, so humble yourself and admit you made a mistake if you drafted Gibson in the second round. If you listened to the pundits and traded for Gibson sometime after the draft, you still made a mistake. He’s average 6.8 fantasy points in the last three weeks. On Sunday, he carried eight times for 34 yards and caught three passes for 20 yards. Gibson was out-targeted by J.D. McKissic 8-3 and out-carried by Jaret Paterson 11. If you’re waiting on another good game so you can sell high, it’s unlikely to arrive soon with a tough schedule ahead. Try trading him for Chris Carson, who may return from the IR this week.

DALTON SCHULTZ

Schultz is currently TE5, but his target share has been declining in recent weeks. He possesses low weekly upside, and his offensive role will continue to shrink within the Dallas Cowboys offense. There are too many mouths to feed in Dallas. The Cowboys have the second-ranked rushing attack, fueled by the revitalized Ezekiel Elliot and the emergence of Tony Pollard into a playmaker out of the backfield. This should minimize a need for a high-volume passing attack. To make matters worse, Michael Gallup is expected to return this week. Trade Schultz to someone who needs a tight end and ask for Myles Gaskin, or Jerry Jeudy.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Oh, Henry lament

When Derrick Henry left Sunday’s game with a foot injury in the first half, I was concerned.   King Henry has seemed like Superman, and I’ve worried that the incredible workload he has shouldered had finally caught up with him. But when he returned to the game against the Colts, playing 74% of the snaps and logging 28 carries, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Less than 24 hours later, my worst fear became a reality. Henry had suffered a broken foot and would be out for 6-10 weeks. I know I’m just one of thousands of fantasy managers fortunate enough to have drafted Henry on my home league team. If Henry’s on your team, you can share my pain, and I can share yours. Simply put, you don’t replace Derrick Henry. 

Okay, let’s hug it out and move on. The first decision is whether to drop Henry, or hang on to him. If you have an open IR spot, you should keep him because he could be back in time for the fantasy playoffs (week 15). If you don’t, you can drop him – unless the player in your IR spot is deemed to be expendable or replaceable. This is a decision each manager must make.  

In my case, the player in my IR spot is Chris Carson. Carson is eligible to return in week 10 and plans to practice that week. Since I didn’t want to drop either Henry or Carson, I activated the latter and moved Henry into the IR spot. If Carson can’t return to action in week 10, I have the option of dropping Henry at that time and moving Carson back into the IR spot.

After you’ve decided what to do with the corpse of Henry, you need to look at your roster and make some decisions. There’s a gaping hole in the RB1 slot, so who do you have to fill it? If you just happen to be deep in running backs, bully for you. I only had five rostered in week 8 – Henry, Carson (IR), Darrel Williams, Devontae Booker and A.J. Dillon.

I had traded for Williams a two weeks ago and picked up Booker on the waiver wire a few days later. Both were in my starting lineup and helped me win in week 8. However, I don’t see either of them as a long-term solution for me since they are second on their respective team depth charts. My conclusion was that I needed to make a trade as quickly as possible.

If you were riding the Henry wave, you may also need to make a trade. If you need a back, you need to consider whether you can trade a wide receiver, a tight end, or a quarterback for a running back that could actually be started. Again, you’re not going to replace Henry, but if you can find another RB that can put up 12-15 points, that’s a step in the right direction.   

My trade target was Dolphins RB Myles Gaskin. I have had a love/hate relationship with him since I drafted him. He’s been wildly erratic in the first eight weeks. I traded him away, traded and got him back and finally dropped him. The problem was he was locked in a timeshare in Miami, but then Malcolm Brown, one of the other running backs, went on the IR.    

Instead of just sending a trade offer, I emailed my sister-in-law, who had picked up Gaskin off waivers. “Would you be interested in trading Gaskin?” Candy has been doing very well and had accumulated the most fantasy points of anyone in the league, so I had no idea about her level of interest in making a trade. I sent her the email first thing on Monday morning.

If you’re interested in making a trade in your league, you should target a player (or players) and then determine if the manager is interested in trading. Some managers won’t trade at all. Others will only trade if they can fleece you. If you find a willing trade partner, look for a win/win trade If you have only selfish interests, you’re unlikely to strike a deal with him/her.   

My sister-in-law responded to my query with a trade offer. She was willing to trade Gaskin and Terry McLaurin for Keenan Allen and Dillon. Candy has been trying to trade for Allen since the first week of the season. I wasn’t going to trade Allen for McLaurin, but I wanted Gaskin. When she refused to trade Gaskin for Dillon, I accepted her trade offer.

On Tuesday, I prepared for an active day on the waiver wire. I put in claims for eight players, dropping three. Keep in mind that this included multiple players in order of priority. For instance, I had Boston Scott, $12; Mike Davis, $6; and Jeremy McNichols, $2 attached to Kalif Raymond. If the Scott claim was filled, the other two claims would be cancelled.

On the above-mentioned claim, I was outbid on Scott but got Davis. I also claimed wide receiver Devante Parker and running back Alexander Mattison. The players dropped were Allen Robinson and Odell Beckham. Robinson was the topic of last week’s column, and I waited until the NFL trade deadline passed and I knew he was stuck for the season in Chicago.

Davis and Parker won’t win me a league championship, but Mattison has massive upside if Dalvin Cook gets injured. I had him rostered when he scored almost 50 fantasy points in the two weeks that Cook was sidelined. Otherwise, he’s going to give you very little. Check waivers and see if he’s available to add if you have a spot on your bench.

Being short on FAB money, I didn’t bid on Adrian Peterson, who was signed by the Titans after the Henry injury.  Peterson and McNichols were both hot waiver wire pickups this week. Peterson, the 36-year-old future Hall-of-Famer, hasn’t played this year, but last season in 16 games with the Lions, he rushed for 604 yards and seven TDs.

Peterson’s physical running style is similar to Henry’s, and perhaps the Titans will lean on him. Given that he’s going to a run-heavy team, Peterson has upside. McNichols is still likely to get touches, particularly on receiving downs, but Peterson might volume his way to RB2/flex-level numbers – especially since he’s the most likely to get goal-line touches.

Peterson has remained more productive than anyone had any right to expect into his mid-30s, rushing for 2,544 yards on 4.1 per attempt in his age-33 through 35 seasons. But it might be too much to expect a 36-year-old to be a lead back, and he certainly wouldn’t get Henry’s workload. So, I didn’t bid on him. But I did offer to trade for him on Wednesday.

As it turned out, my son had just completed a trade for Cook on the same day I claimed Mattison off of waivers. I offered to trade Mattison for Peterson. Peterson will never be as valuable as Mattison would be in the event of a Cook injury. But Cook is healthy right now, and Peterson could be a starter for me next week. This could be a win/win trade.    

The bottom line is that if you lost Henry this week, your season (like mine) is circling the drain. All you can do is try to do something which is very difficult – a midseason rebuild. Take it one matchup at a time, one week at a time, and try to make the playoffs. If you can make the playoffs, anything can happen. As Winston Churchill said: “Never give up!”

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

The bye week challenge

Season-long fantasy football is a challenge for any manager. As a manager, you must navigate through the injuries to your key players and the emotional ups and downs each week. Unlike DFS, you’re not out to win just one week. Of course, you want to win each matchup, but your goal is to make the fantasy playoffs. You want to be one of the four, or six teams that qualify.

In addition to injuries, there is another challenge to overcome – bye weeks. Two weeks ago, we moved into the part of the season where bye weeks occur. Navigating bye weeks can be a cause for anxiety. During the draft, it’s enough to make sure you’re drafting the best possible players without worrying about whether or not your two stud running backs have the same bye week. 

Some would argue that having multiple starters on bye in the same week increases your odds of winning your league. It’s worth taking the loss that week if you have all of your best players playing all of the other weeks. But what if your bye week comes in Week 10 when you need the win to make the playoffs? Even if I can afford to take the loss, I don’t want to lose any week.

One of the ways to mitigate the risk of having your best players on bye the same week is to not stack players. Again, there are two schools of thought on this. Some analysts argue that if you are able to stack good players, you have an advantage. For example, you might have drafted Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, believing that the Chiefs’ passing game is golden.

I disagree with the school advocating the stacking approach. Before I continue with this, let me delineate and differentiate between redraft leagues and DFS. I don’t play DFS, but I know enough about the subject to understand that stacking is an effective strategy – especially in a tournament – because you’re swinging for the fences and need massive upside to win.

Stacking players creates volatility, but you don’t mind that in DFS because it’s always one and done. If you finish last in a tournament because you guessed wrong on your player stack, you don’t care. You move on. But if you’re in a season-long league, you can’t afford to guess wrong and move on. In my opinion, it’s too risky to have too many starters on one team.

My philosophy in building a fantasy team is similar to a stock portfolio. If I had a crystal ball, I would have bought 1,000 shares of Amazon stock on October 27, 2008. On that date, Amazon closed at $49.58 per share. Amazon is now trading well above $3,000 per share, so my $49,500 investment would now be worth more than $3 million. But Amazon could have been Enron.

I also wished I had drafted Mahomes in the 10th round in 2018. I can’t predict the future, and that’s why I diversify my stock portfolio and my fantasy team draft and waiver wire picks. Hopefully, you can understand by now that there are more benefits to diversification in your roster across many NFL teams than just avoiding the stress of dealing with bye weeks.  

But this kind of sage device doesn’t help if you’re have a bye week problem now. You probably had one last week because it was the most difficult of the nine bye weeks because six teams have byes. No other week has more than four teams off. In week 7, Buffalo, Dallas, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Chargers had byes, and many stars won’t be shinning.

Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, James Robinson, Trevor Lawrence, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen were just some of the players who were not available. They were home watching the games – just like you. If you didn’t plan for this, you probably had some holes in your starting lineup.

The best way to plan for bye weeks is to have at least five running backs and five wide receivers rostered. Five of your nine starting positions must be filled with an RB, or WR. If you carry two quarterbacks and two tight ends, be sure they don’t have the same bye week. Bye weeks are a problem for me because I normally carry only one quarterback and one tight end. 

For example, Dalton Schultz, my starting tight end on my home league team, was on bye last week. Since I don’t want to drop him, I needed to add a tight end off the waiver wire. Fortunately, Dallas Goedert had been dropped the previous week when he was put on the reserve COVID-19 list. During that time, to the surprise of many, Zach Ertz was traded to Arizona.

Goedert is finally the unquestioned No. 1 tight end for the Eagles. He has huge upside, and I bid $24 of my remaining FAB budget to secure him on my roster. The second-round pick in the 2018 draft has something to prove since he is in his walk year. If I am only looking for a bye-week replacement, why spend so much FAB money? The answer is that I view him as a top 10 TE.

I can’t start both Schultz and Goedert, but I might trade one of them for a starting running back or wide receiver. In week 7, Goedert put up a respectable 12 fantasy points. This week, I left him in my starting lineup and benched Schultz because Dark Prescott was questionable for the SNF game. With that much uncertainty, I went with Goedert. He rewarded me with 13.2 fantasy points.

It all comes down to planning. You can’t plan unexpected events like injuries, but you can plan for bye weeks. My advice would be to look at your lineup now if you haven’t already done so. Look at the next few weeks and see which key players are going to be off. Then check the waiver wire and see if any who’s available as replacements. Add them ahead of time and beat the rush.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Allen Robinson mystery

Where have you gone, Mr. Robinson?

Less than two months ago, Allen Robinson II was being drafted in the third or fourth round of every fantasy football draft in the country. A few weeks ago, the pundits were advising that you trade the Bears wide receiver for whatever you could get. After the game on Sunday, many are advising that you drop him for your favorite waiver wire flavor of the week.

Frankly, it’s hard to blame the detractors with Robinson averaging only 7.7 fantasy points per game (PPG). Midway through the fantasy season, Robinson is WR65 after finishing as WR9 in 2020. Part of the problem is the Chicago offense, which is dead last in the league in total yards per game and passing yards per game. They’re also third-worst in points scored per game.

But that was supposed to change on Sunday when the Bears arrived in Florida to play the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Bucs. No one expected an upset win, but there were many who expected Robinson to have his best game of the year. After all, the Bears would be playing from behind, and Justin Fields would be forced to throw the ball.

The rookie quarterback did throw the ball 32 times, but only four of those balls were thrown in the direction of the talented wideout. That’s only about half of the 24.2% team target share Robinson saw in the three previous weeks when the game script wasn’t as favorable. May I suggest that the problem is not Robinson but the first-round draft pick?

Fields, who was twice recognized as the Graham–George Offensive Player of the Year, was propelled into the spotlight last January when he made an appearance in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship. If you saw that game, you might recall that he was awful as his Ohio State Buckeyes lost 52-24 to Alabama on national television.

Fields’ poor performance was blamed on a hip injury he sustained in the semifinal game against Clemson. In that game, Fields was tremendous, throwing for six touchdowns. But it was his last good game. On Sunday in Tampa, he threw three interceptions and fumbled twice as the Bears were humiliated 35-3. He has topped 200 yards just once in four starts.    

But let’s get back to Robinson. Here’s what a CBS analyst wrote about him in a preview last August: “Robinson, a borderline No. 1 wide receiver, is a sure-fire starter who should rank toward the top of the league in targets if he can stay healthy. Robinson has earned at least 150 targets in each of the past four seasons that he’s played 16 games.”

Robinson has stayed healthy, playing in all seven games, so that’s not the problem. But where are all of those targets? After being targeted 11 times in the opener against the Rams, Robinson has been targeted only 29 times in the last six games. Why? Is he suddenly unable to run routes, or create separation from defenders? Let’s take a look at the situation.  

In addition to getting only half the number of targets in 2021, Robinson is also gaining only half the yards he did last year. Consider that the Bears wideout was averaging 78.1 yards per game on his way to a total of 1,250 in 2020. This year, he is averaging 39 yards per game. Fields doesn’t throw the ball much, and when he does it’s not going to Robinson enough.

The biggest issue for Robinson may be the entire construct of the offense. The Bears seem to be comfortable easing Fields into their playbook. The game script has also not usually been as favorable as it was in Tampa. In their three wins, the Bears led by two scores for most of the game. This has contributed to the Bears being the run heaviest in the NFL.

Before Sunday’s game, the Bears were running only 24.2 pass plays per game. Last season, they ran 38.4 pass plays per game. The run-heavy offense was a boon to David Montgomery before his injury, and it has been a boon to Khalil Herbert, who has rushed for almost 300 yards in the past three weeks, while averaging more than 18 carries per game.

If all of that is not bad enough for Robinson, Darnell Mooney may be emerging as the Alpha Dog receiver for the Bears, seeming to find chemistry with Fields faster than Robinson. Still, Robinson was being targeted a respectable 25.7 percent of the time before the drop off in Sunday’s game. But Robinson’s catch rate is only 57.5 percent.

In the interest of full disclosure, I traded for Robinson a few weeks ago in my home league, believing this was going to turn around. It hasn’t, and I now believe that it won’t turn around if Robinson remains in Chicago after the November 2nd trade deadline. If you still have him, don’t drop him before the deadline because a trade could change everything.

Frankly, the Bears would be wise to trade him. Robinson is in his walk year, and I can’t imagine him wanting to stay in Chicago after becoming the forgotten man. I think this is the last chance for the Bears to get something for the wideout. Three teams rumored to be interested in Robinson are New England, Philadelphia and Washington. I’m hoping for the last one.

The Football Team would be a great fit for Robinson. Except for Terry McLaurin, who continues to be great with 428 yards, the next best thing in Washington is Adam Humphries with 149. The Football Team has no viable second option. Robinson would clearly change that. He and McLaurin would form quite a duo, giving the team more explosiveness through the air.

I’m holding out hope for Robinson to be traded to our nation’s capital on, or before the November 2nd trade deadline. If not Washington, perhaps AR15 will land in a better spot than the Windy City. If Robinson isn’t traded, I will probably cut bait and drop him. In fantasy football, sometimes you have to admit your mistakes and just cut your losses.   

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.F

Circle of life

During the fantasy football season, I have a weekly routine that I follow. On Monday, I am reviewing and assessing the previous week’s action (even if I have one or more players in action that night). On Tuesday, I am looking at my lineup and evaluating what players are available on the waiver wire, and I’m also looking at possible trade targets based on needs.

In last week’s column I mentioned a trade that I made on Monday. On that dark day, I traded James Robinson for Allen Robinson and Mike Davis. It took only a few hours for me to regret this trade. Regret set in after I found out that Chris Carson, my RB2, had a neck injury. If I had known that piece of information, I would never have traded James Robinson away.

Frankly, I should have suspected something was wrong with Carson after his lackluster performance in week 3. Alex Collins had taken over for Carson in the second half and played more snaps in the game. He scored 15.8 fantasy points, aided by a touchdown run. I immediately put in a waiver claim for Collins, fearing Carson might not play week 4.   

On Wednesday morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and quickly checked my lineups to see if my waiver claims had been successful. Surprisingly, I was five for five in my three leagues. In the home league, the most important one to me, I had secured Collins for a bid of $3. I had also been able to successfully claim tight end Dalton Schultz for $6 of FAB.

After waivers had run, I began the process Wednesday of determining who I would start, or bench. The “sit or start” decisions are the most difficult part of the week for me because many of the players on my roster are comparable in ability and point potential. In five weeks, I have had five different home league starting lineups based on matchups and other metrics.

By Wednesday night, I was back on the waiver wire. I added Pittsburgh’s DST because I was uncomfortable starting Buffalo’s DST against Kansas City on the road. The Bills have the No. 1 defense, but the Chiefs have the best offense, and I liked the Steelers matchup against Denver. But I didn’t want to drop Buffalo, so I made the decision to drop Jaylen Waddle.

Every waiver wire add creates a dilemma for me because I usually like all of my rostered players. If I didn’t like them, they wouldn’t be rostered. I had seven wide receivers last week, so I knew I was going to be dropping one of them. My other six wideouts were Keenan Allen, Julio Jones, Corey Davis, Jakobi Meyers, Allen Robinson, Courtland Sutton.

I spent more time on Thursday evaluating my roster, trying to determine who would start. Three of the players were easily locked in – quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver Keenan Allen. As the kickoff time approached for the Thursday night game between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle, I was still undecided.

Less than an hour before the start of TNF, Carson was ruled out. With Carson out, I put Collins in my RB2 slot and crossed my fingers. But Collins’ performance was less than inspiring. He had 15 carries for 47 yards and caught two of three targets for 9.20 points. It worth noting that there’s usually a good reason why a backup player is a backup player on a team.

In addition to Collins, Stafford also underperformed for me on TNF. He completed 25-of-37 passes for 365 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the Rams’ 26-17 victory. Stafford’s first-half pick was a horrendous end zone attempt, where he appeared to be trying to throw the ball away but underthrew. Stafford also appeared to injure his throwing hand.

Having started Collins, both of my RB slots were filled for week 5, and one of my WRs was set. However, the second WR spot and my flex were still undetermined on Friday. One of the things I was anxious to see was the final injury report for Friday. I was interested in seeing the status of Dalvin Cook. Two weeks earlier, Cook was out and Mattison had 23.1 points.

I had Mattison in my lineup in week 3 but dropped him when Cook returned and they shared time at running back in week 4. The Vikings have two talented running backs, with Mattison always taking a back seat when Cook is healthy. But Cook sprained his ankle in week 2 and hasn’t been right since. Would he play on a limited basis or be ruled out in week 5?

The injury report indicated Cook had not practiced at all on Friday, although he did some work on the sidelines. The Vikings coaching staff said they would make a gametime decision on Cook. There was one piece of news that was also important to me and every fantasy manager who had Julio Jones rostered. Jones was ruled out for the second straight week.

After a restless night Friday, I woke up Saturday and added Mattison from the waiver wire, dropping the Pittsburgh defense. I would roll with the Buffalo defense against Kansas City. I didn’t want to wait until Sunday morning on Mattison because I feared someone else would get him. After trading away James Robinson and losing Carson, I needed points.  

With Jones out, my choices for the second WR spot in my starting lineup was between Davis, Meyers, Allen Robinson and Courtland Sutton. Robinson, who had been targeted more than 150 times in the past two seasons while exceeding 1,000 yards each year, had only seven catches in the past three weeks with Justin Fields under center. I couldn’t start him.

Sutton had been on my bench when he exploded for 24.9 fantasy points in week 2. The reason he was benched was because he had only one reception in the opener. Even with Jerry Jeudy out, he only had single-digit production in the two games after his breakout week. To make matters worse, he was listed as questionable after suffering an ankle injury on Friday.

With Sutton questionable, along with Broncos quarterback Terry Bridgewater, I decided to sit him for week 5. That left me with only Meyers and Davis for the WR2 spot. I liked Davis’ matchup with Atlanta’s week defense, coming off a 21.1 point week against Tennessee. But I also liked Meyers, who had been targeted 26 times in the previous two weeks.

If Cook was active for Sunday’s game, I knew I would start both Davis and Meyers, but there was another problem. Davis was playing at 8:30 a.m. CDT on Sunday, and I wouldn’t know Cook’s status until about an hour before the Vikings noon game. If Cook was ruled out, I wanted Mattison in my lineup, and the only option would be in the flex position.

If Meyers had been a clear choice to start over Davis, I would have just plugged him in at WR2 and waited for the Cook decision. But it was a tossup. With the uncertainty, and the early kickoff in London, I decided to start Davis as my WR2.  Things came together quickly on Sunday morning. Cook was ruled out at 11 a.m., and I moved Mattison into my flex. 

As it turned out, it didn’t really matter whether I started Davis, or Meyers. Davis had 8.5 points, and Meyers had 9.6 points. It was up to two running backs to save the day, and Mattison and Henry combined for 57.3 of my 140.9 fantasy points. And that Bills defense that I was so worried about put up 19 fantasy points as Buffalo upset Kansas City, 38-20.

I won all three of my matchups this past week. Doubting Thomas, my home league team is 3-2. My public league teams are 5-0 and 4-1. But now it’s a new week – week 6. On Monday, I reviewed the previous week’s action. On Tuesday, I looked at my lineup and evaluated what players are available on the waiver wire. It’s the fantasy football circle of life.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Roster Machinations

How did I go from having five solid running backs to having just one? This is the question that I’m asking myself as I prepare for week 5 of the 2021 fantasy football season. Perhaps, you’re in a similar situation. After all, we’re all managing the same small number of NFL players. Four of the five RBs that I drafted on Labor Day are no longer rostered on my home league team. The five were Derrick Henry, Najee Harris, Gus Edwards, Myles Gaskin and Raheem Mostert.

Things started to unravel for me just three days after the draft. Edwards suffered a season-ending torn ACL in practice. Edwards had soared into the top 50 after J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL in the preseason finale. Edwards earned the nickname Gus “The Bus” because of his physical downhill rushing style that reminds us of a bus rolling down a hill. I saw the Dobbins injury as a golden opportunity for him to embrace the role of a bell cow running back in Baltimore.

But The Bus ran off the road before the race ever started. It was a small, dark cloud, I wasn’t discouraged yet because it was only September 9th, and I still had four solid running backs. Or, so I thought. Hours after the Edwards injury, I settled in to watch the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Bucs host the Dallas Cowboys. I had no dog in this fight, so I watched the game and remember congratulating myself for not drafting Ezekiel Elliott, who scored 5.9 fantasy points.

Three days later, Mostert went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of San Francisco’s first game. I had confidently put him in my starting lineup. After all, this is the same Mostert who flashed so much talent in leading the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV. He capped off the 2019 season with a memorable, record-setting performance in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, carrying the ball 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns. 

But Mostert was out after two rushes for 20 yards. The initial report was that he had chipped knee cartilage and would be out for about eight weeks. I could live with that, planning to stick him in the IR spot and waiting patiently for him to return. But then the tail back announced on Twitter that after consulting with multiple doctors, he planned to undergo season-ending surgery in order to fully repair his knee. Good for him and bad for me (and all those who drafted him).

Three weeks ago, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of week 1. For me, winning matchups in my two public leagues was small consolation since I scored only 80.98 points in my home league. This was one of the lowest point totals I’ve ever had in a week. Mostert wasn’t the only RB downer for me that week. Harris, my RB2, matched Zeke’s 5.9 total. Even Henry had a subpar day, rushing for only 58 yards and scoring 10.7 points in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Henry more than made up for underproducing in week 1. The following Sunday, he went nuts against Seattle, carrying the ball 35 times for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught six receptions for 55 yards. That added up to 47.7 points in PPR. Henry wasn’t the only back that improved in week 2. Harris put up 19.1 points, helped by five receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown. But he only rushed for 38 yards behind the a terrible Pittsburgh Steelers line.

I purposed on that day to trade Harris while I could still get something for him. I also made a decision after the second game to trade wide receiver Robert Woods. Ol’ Bobby Trees wasn’t awful in the first two weeks, scoring 12.4 and 12.0 points, but Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford clearly preferred Cooper Kupp over Woods. Like Harris, I decided to trade Woods while I could still get something for him. A few days later, I made the trade.

The Woods trade may have been the best trade I’m going to make this year. In return for Woods and Mark Ingram, I received James Robinson and Devin Singletary. On the same day, I traded Myles Gaskin for Stafford, after my starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, had looked anything but impressive. Time will tell, but I think this was also a good trade because Gaskin was (and still is) a depreciating asset. The talented Gaskin has had little opportunity to shine in Miami.

But I wasn’t done. The day after making the two above-mentioned trades, I was offered a deal for Harris. I was offering Chris Carson, and I hit the accept button on my phone very quickly. After all, Carson has been a tremendous player in reality and fantasy. In his first full years in the NFL, he rushed for 1,151 and 1,230 yards, before missing some time last year with an injury.   

Carson, who had two solid outings in the first two weeks, had another one in week 3. I was feeling good about having Henry and Carson in my starting lineup, but what about Robinson? He put up more points that week than either Henry, or Carson. The only reason he wasn’t in my flex was because I had added Alexander Mattison from the waiver wire on a hunch that Dalvin Cook wasn’t going to play. Cook was ruled out Sunday, and Mattison put up 23.10 points.

With Cook returning in week 4, Mattison was quickly relegated to a backup role. That was okay because I knew I wanted Robinson in my starting lineup, and he delivered again. Unfortunately, Carson had a terrible game. The usually-reliable back had 13 carries for 30 yards and had only target. Alex Collins took over for Carson in the fourth quarter and looked good. I wasn’t worried about Carson because there was no indication at this point that he had suffered an injury.

The fifth week started before week 4 was in the books. My son, Nathan, approached me about trading for one of my backs. He had lost David Montgomery the previous day, and he said he was desperate enough to trade away Tyreek Hill. At this point, I was convinced that I had enough running back depth with Henry, Carson, Robinson and Mattison all rostered. I had to try for Hill. The trade negotiations started with me offering Nathan Carson and Julio Jones for Hill.

The Hill for Carson and Jones was quickly rejected, and the counteroffer was Hill for Carson and Keenan Allen. I didn’t like that offer at the time. In retrospect, I wish I had accepted it because Hill is a lot better than Allen. What I didn’t know at the time was that there was something wrong with Carson. I rejected the offer, and I pivoted to Robinson. We quickly struck a deal where I sent him Robinson in exchange for Allen Robinson and Mike Davis.

One day after I agreed to trade James Robinson away, I found out that Carson has a neck injury and is likely to miss Thursday night’s game against the Rams. A neck injury can be a serious injury, and this news was chilling. The injury certainly explained why Carson had a subpar performance last Sunday. I put in a claim for Collins and got him as an insurance policy. But I now have a much weaker team than I had a few days ago, and I have only myself to blame.

I don’t blame myself for not knowing about Carson’s injury before the trade because there was no news out there until he missed practice on Tuesday. What I do blame myself for is trading away a solid running back (Robinson) for a marginal running back (Davis) and a good receiver (Allen Robinson) who may be stuck in a bad situation in Chicago. I know that there are a lot more good receivers than running backs, so the decision to trade Robinson was foolish.

If you’re trading players anywhere near as much as I am, you are going to make some bad trades. I started making the trades that I made because I had already lost two backs to season-ending injuries and had a bust (Gaskin) and a player who I had lost confidence in (Harris). I am still not sure about the Steelers tailback. He’s had three solid fantasy games in a row, but he’s never rushed for more than 62 yards. Can he really catch enough passes to continue to be an asset?

In summary, my advice is to look at your team each week and make decisions based on your roster needs. You should always be working the waiver wire because there are a few gems out there. There is also some fool’s gold (like Chuba Hubbard and Ty’son Williams). You should also be looking to make a timely trade if you notice one of your fellow managers has a need. Look for a win-win. But realize that trading is risky, as this story illustrates. 

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

Staring into the TE abyss

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In my tight end preview posted on August 15th, I told you about the tight end minefield. My advice was to “go great, or go late.” To go great meant to draft one of the three elite tight ends – Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, or George Kittle. The alternate was to wait until late in the draft and pick up a tight end you could quickly drop if he didn’t work out.

I took my own advice. I have Travis Kelce on one public league team and Darren Waller on another.  But I waited and took Jonnu Smith in the 12th round in my home league. Kelce has proved he was worth a first-round pick, averaging 22.3 PPR fantasy points in the first three games to lead all tight ends. Waller is No. 4, averaging 16.1 PPR fantasy points.

But what about Smith? He’s TE26, averaging 6.0 points in the first three games. Fortunately, I dropped him after the first week (when he had a respectable 9.8 points). Last week, he had one reception on six targets for 1.4 points. I liked Smith as a sleeper heading into the 2021, and he has averaged more than five targets per game. But he has just 74 yards and is yet to score.  

I’m actually considering streaming Smith this week because the Patriots are hosting the Buccaneers. This is the long-awaited return of Tom Brady to New England, and the defending Super Bowl champions are seven-point favorites. It’s a safe bet that the Patriots won’t be able to run on Tampa Bay (no one has yet). But opponents can pass on the Bucs, so that puts Smith in play.

At this point, no one can argue against taking Kelce, or Waller, in the first two rounds of the draft. Kittle, who was drafted in the second or third round, has also paid off marginally. He’s TE6, with 11.5 PPG.  There was some concern about Kittle after a dismal week 2 showing in Philadelphia, but he righted the ship last week, snaring 7-of-9 targets for 92 yards and 17.1 points.

So, if you don’t have Kelce, Waller, or Kittle, you might as well be streaming the position. I would actually recommend trading T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, or Kyle Pitts now for what you can get. You should be able to get a good running back, or wide receiver, for Hockenson or even Andrews.  Both are sell-high players (although Hockenson was higher before the Baltimore game).   

Before you call the men in the white coats, let me remind you of something I mentioned in the preview column last month. Although Hockenson was TE9 last year, he only averaged 12.0 PPG. Andrews, who was TE15, averaged 10.6. Meanwhile, Smith, who was a waiver wire add during the regular season, was TE2 with 16.4 PPG. And what about Pitts? He’s simply the pits.  

If you took Pitts in the fifth round, you were betting on the come. That wasn’t the game of craps, it was just pure crap. I warned you against overpaying for an untried rookie, and now you are stuck with a depreciating asset. Everyone likes to buy low and sell high, but I would recommend you sell low here because the Atlanta offense is burning in a giant dumpster fire.

If you’re streaming the tight end position, you will be staring into the abyss each week. You’ll spend a lot of time and energy trying to decide what makes a tight end streamable. For me, it’s some mixture of matchups, projected target volume and the talent of the player and his quarterback. With targets at a premium, you want them to be good targets to a good receiver.

This week the buzz surrounds Dalton Schultz of Dallas and Tyler Conklin of Minnesota, who were both available on the waiver wire on Tuesday night. In most leagues, they still are. Schultz caught 6-of-7 targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night, good for 26 points.  A day earlier, Conklin caught 7-of-8 targets for 70 yards and a touchdown, good for 20 points.

The problem with adding either of them is that they’ve only had one good game (so far). I’m not saying that neither Schultz, no Conklin, are breaking out. One, or both of them might be this year’s breakout. But if you add them this week, you’re chasing last week’s hero. Of course, if one of them goes off again this week, you will be getting in line for a chance to pick up said player.

You can follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.