NFL Week 9 Fantasy Mailbag

The second half of the fantasy season starts tonight with an AFC North rivalry matchup between the Bengals and the Browns. It’s likely been a serious waiver wire week for you with bye weeks and injuries to Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte, Keenan Allen, Steve Smith Sr., and the entire Niners backfield all included. Let’s take a look at the best top waiver wire picks from this season. Coincidentally, a few will be featured in tonight’s game on NFL Network.

Quarterback – Andy Dalton, CIN

15 TD / 4 INT, 1,992 pass yards, 2 rushing TDs

Dalton TD

Any reason to recount that A-Dalt touchdown, I’ll take it.

In the first handful of weeks, people waited for Andy Dalton to fall apart and he didn’t. There was also a stretch of 4 games with potentially tough passing matchups (Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle and Buffalo), and Dalton averaged 319.5 yards and 2.25 touchdowns against them. Having AJ Green and Marvin Jones healthy and Tyler Eifert playing to his potential are huge factors for that and why his success should sustain.

RB – Dion Lewis, NE

229 rush yards, 2 TDs / 32 catches, 349 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Dion TD

When you’re a running back in Bill Belichick’s system and you get on his good side, your numbers are going to benefit greatly from it. Dion Lewis was expected to be Shane Vereen’s replacement, but he’s he’s Shane Vereening better than Shane Vereen could (if that makes sense). In the 6 games Lewis has played, he has had more with double-digit touches than Marshawn Lynch, has scored touchdowns than Adrian Peterson, and more 100+ total yard games than Frank Gore and Justin Forsett.

WR – Allen Robinson, JAX

34 catches, 586 yards, 6 TDs

A-Rob TD

As Blake Bortles’s stock has risen, so has A-Rob’s. You can’t really sit him when he’s averaged 5.5 catches, 93 yards and 1 TD over the last 6 games. Robinson also leads all receivers in receptions of 20+ yards with 14.

TE – Gary Barnidge, CLE

40 catches, 567 yards, 6 TDs

Barnidging

Oh you didn’t draft Gronk? No worries because Gary Barnidge was available for EVERYONE after the first 3 weeks of the season. 30 years old and playing better than the rest of the tight ends in the league, Barnidge has scored touchdowns or caught for over 100 yards in every game since Week 3.

Mail Time!

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QB – That’s a really nice problem to have. While Philip Rivers is going to continue throwing it more than anyone with crazy high volume, but Ben Roethlisberger has the better matchup with better weapons to throw to as well. The Raiders are allowing 312 pass yards per game, 2nd most in the league.

WR – I’m not as jealous as this group as I was your QBs. I feel the most comfortable about Eric Decker against the Jaguars. Ryan Fitzpatrick being a little banged up means he’ll go to his possession option more which is Decker, and he has scored in 5 of his last 6 games. Then I go with Stefon Diggs despite facing a tough Rams defense. Diggs has earned the starting spot as the Vikings downfield playmaker. Not only do I hate Hilton’s matchup and quarterback (at the moment), the MRI he had on his foot and missing some practice doesn’t give me much optimism.

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Time for the “Reverse Rivers”…which isn’t as suggestive as you think, ya sicko!

Philip Rivers is going to throw a ton on Monday Night Football with the San Diego run game being weak and the Bears only giving up 2 rushing touchdowns all weekend. He’ll be without Allen, but he has to chuck it out of necessity. In games that Rivers has thrown at least 37 passes, he averages 381 yards and 2.4 touchdowns. The gameplan for the Bengals tonight should be very run oriented anyway as the Browns are giving up more rush yards than anyone in the league.

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Does Los Angeles count since they’ll be receiving the Rams soon?

I really wanted to pull the Lee Corso “Not so fast, my friend!” but I can’t, in my heart of hearts. Tavon Austin is the one decent option if your league counts return yards and you need a spots start out of someone. Austin has 6 total touchdowns with 2 coming on the rush, and 141 yards running too.

But Todd Gurley is the only viable option out of St. Louis and in a big big way…

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WR – Neither option is great and they are both going against incredible pass defenses, but I lean toward James Jones simply for the Aaron Rodgers factor.

QB – Big Ben for the reasons I listed above.

…and Todd Gurley is the realness. He’s the best running back in the league right now and if he stays healthy, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 8 Fantasy Mailbag

What happens when you fire Joe Philbin, play the Titans and Texans in back-to-back weeks, and hand Lamar Miller the ball?

(The “Hard Knocks” Texans seem so long ago don’t they?)

In just two weeks, the Miami Dolphins look like the team their roster suggested they would be before the season even started. Miller had just 37 carries over the first 4 weeks of the season for 131 yards and no touchdowns. He has more than doubled that production in his last 2 games with 288 rush yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 carries (plus 61 yards and another touchdown receiving). The Dolphins also became the first team since at least 1940 to score 4 touchdowns of 50+ yards in the first half against Texans. Not a shabby start to the head coaching career for Dan Campbell.

The Dolphins head to New England tonight for what could be a shootout with Tom Brady and the Patriots. Don’t slow your roll yet on Miller as the Patriots are allowing 110 yards per game rushing. Now proceed to point and laugh at whoever dropped him in your fantasy league.

Quick Hits

  • The Cardinals running back situation seems pretty clear now with Zombie Chris Johnson ranked second in the league in rushing. Okay he’s more of a “Dawn of the Dead” zombie that runs. Fast…If you took my advice last week, you played Todd Gurley in DFS against the worst run defense in the league. The Browns have allowed more than 1,000 yards rushing on the season (132 more than the Chargers), and Zombie Chris Johnson should eat.

Chris Johnson

  • While the Chargers seem to have nearly given up on running the ball, the biggest benefactor of that trend has been Keenan Allen. Allen now leads the league in receptions with 62. Allen owners know that his point production is a little inconsistent, but he gets 12 targets per game. When Philip Rivers locks in on Allen, oh does he lock in…3 times this season, Allen has recorded 130+ yards and averages 13 catches in those games. His matchup against the Ravens smells like one of those games as Baltimore allows 214 yards and 1.6 to wide receivers each week.

Keenan Allen

  • While the sexiest tight end name in the game is Gronk, Greg Olsen is no slouch either. Olsen has 65+ yards and/or a touchdown in 5 of his 6 games this season. He’s gone for 130+ yards twice this season, and was targeted by Cam Newton 11 times in both of those games. I expect Newton to bounce back from a 3 interception game and to make Olsen a priority in order to do so. Olsen has already accounted for 21% of the targets each week and only trails Gronk for the most plays of 20+ yards this year.

Olsen

Mail Time!

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WR – I really like Jeremy Maclin this week against the Lions in London. Detroit is allowing 206 yards and 1 touchdown per game to wide receivers and Maclin is the only reliable receiver in Kansas City. In 3 of his last 4 games, Maclin averaged 7.5 catches and 106 yards.

RB – The guy I’m not picking of your group is James Starks. Ronnie Hillman is finally getting a majority of the first team reps in practice and THE DUKE is the back to have out of Cleveland. Johnson Jr. is the pass catching back and you have to expect the Browns to be playing from behind against Arizona…which means they’ll be passing. Starks is also banged up, a backup, and going against the best defense in football.

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A very close call. As much as I like Martavis Bryant with Ben Roethlisberger coming back, I like Stefon Diggs more against the Bears secondary. In 3 games played, Diggs has more targets, caches and twice as many yards as Mike Wallace. Go with the clear #1 WR the Vikings has as the Bears will be doing whatever they can to keep Adrian Peterson in check.

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I’m going to let this slide this week, but this^ is too many questions. Try to limit it to 2 going forward. Love ya, Emmet. 

Trade: Hard to pick a winner without knowing the needs of each team involved, but I am going with whoever received Tannehill in the deal. Tannehill is trending way up with Philbin off his back, and Eddie Lacy is losing more and more touches to Starks. This weekend will be the most telling on what Lacy is this season with Starks hurting. If Starks gets more work than Lacy again, I feel bad for anyone who picked the former Bama back way too high this year.

Flex 1: The Duke for for the reasons I gave Bucy. Tavon is boom or bust regardless of the matchup as Gurley is now the entire offense and Nick Foles sucks.

Flex 2: Not a great week for Jeremy Hill going against the Steelers. Pacing will probably make Gio Bernard the better option for the Bengals, but at least you know Hill will get touches. He also has the most touchdowns from within the 5 yard line. Moncrief has a bad matchup against the Carolina secondary.

(See, I’ve already answered 3 questions for you and there are 2 left. I’ve got shit to do, homie)

QB: Roethlisberger. Ed Werder of ESPN has him going and so should you with ALL of his scoring options available.

Flex 3: Woodhead

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You’ve got a solid matchup for Delanie Walker this week against the Texans defense. Whether it’s Mariota or Mettenberger under center, he’s their favorite target regardless. Watson has had a nice couple weeks, but Drew Brees has way more options to keep up with a tough Giants receiving corps.

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Larry Donnell isn’t a great option, but at least he’s done something in the last 6 weeks. Jordan Cameron hasn’t recorded more than 30 yards since Week 2. I won’t trust him until I see him do better than that again.

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I think you answered your own question, Donald. Tyler Eifert is a big reason for Andy Dalton’s success this season and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. Eifert has as many red zone targets as AJ Green. Also, look at what Pittsburgh gave up to Gronk and Travis Kelce combined: 19 catches, 259 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 6 Fantasy Mailbag

The Arizona Cardinals are playing like a Madden team on Easy Mode right now. If you started a whole lineup of Cardinals players last weekend, I have a feeling you would have done pretty well…

QB – Carson Palmer: 11/14, 161 pass yards, 3 TD

RB – Chris Johnson: 103 yards

RB – Andre Ellington: 63 yards, 1 TD

WR – Larry Fitzgerald: 5 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD

WR – John Brown: 4 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD

TE – Darren Fells: 2 catches, 25 yards, 1 TD

Flex – David Johnson: 3 carries, 6 yards, 2 TD

DEF – 2 Forced Fumbles, 4 INT, 1 Sack

K – Chandler Catanzaro – 6/6 PAT

I don’t know if the Cardinals will sustain these video game numbers all season, but I don’t see it slowing down this weekend in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have the worst pass defense in the league at this point, so Carson Palmer owners should be pumped. St. Louis boasted the only viable defense Arizona faced and beat them at home, however…

Quick Hits

  • Tonight the Atlanta Falcons take their 5-0 record to the Super Dome, and hope to stay undefeated with the help of Devonta Freeman. In Freeman’s last 3 games, he’s averaging 179.6 yards from scrimmage per game (539 total). He’s also leading the league in touchdowns with 8, 7 over those last 3 games, all on the ground. Freeman faces a Saints defense that is allowing the 3rd most rush yards in the league.

Freeman Week 6

  • In the last 3 weeks, Browns TE Gary Barnidge has recorded 20 receptions for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. His pass catching total in that time is HALF of his entire career total, and he’s 30. Barnidge’s production has attributed to his quarterback’s incredible run as well. Josh McCown is averaging 384 yards and 2 touchdowns over his last 3 games, but now runs into a buzz saw with Denver coming to town. The Broncos pass defense is tops in the league with the kind of pass rushers that always seem to bring McCown back to Earth. Barnidge will be his best option to survive as the Broncos allowed 60+ receiving yards to Eric Ebron, Travis Kelce and Clive Walford.

Barnidge Week 6

  • The #TomBradyRevengeTour heads to where it all started this weekend. I imagine the Colts had this game circled on their calendar in the preseason, expected it to be Brady’s first game after a 4-game suspension, and would try to settle whatever score they had over a football they thought wasn’t inflated enough…In reality, the Colts are dealing with Wyatt Earp on his rampage in Tombstone. They’ve only won when their franchise quarterback has sat out and Brady is throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions coming in with fully inflated footballs. Brady is also throwing to two matchup nightmares in Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Edelman is averaging 99.75 yards per game, 8.5 catches, and has 3 touchdowns as well. 

Mail Time!

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I start with Duke Johnson Jr, especially in PPR. Denver is very good against the run, yes, but they are susceptible to pass catching backs. Isaiah Crowell got his numbers last week against Baltimore, but Johnson had as many touches and was the feature back down the stretch. I expect Cleveland to be trailing and throwing. The Duke is their man in that scenario.

Next I lean toward Ronnie Hillman, partially because Ameer Abdullah is in the winless Jim Caldwell’s doghouse for fumble issues. Hillman goes against a horrendous Browns run-defense that is allowing 5 yards per carry. If neither Hillman or CJ Anderson can get it going against Cleveland, I would then recommend looking elsewhere.

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When the Chargers are trailing, Danny Woodhead is getting a majority of the workload from Melvin Gordon. I know you’re fully aware of what the Packers are capable of scoring-wise, so you should expect Woodhead to get plenty of work. I don’t trust Abdullah’s usage at this point in the season like I do Theo Riddick’s.

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As I pointed out earlier, the McCown thing has been fun but he’s in for a rude awakening this weekend. While the Falcons defense is improved, the only decent quarterback they’ve faced is Eli Manning (that was a struggle for me to type). Drew Brees has thrown 335+ yards in 3 of his 4 games and seems to have figured something out with Willie Snead and Ben Watson downfield. Go with the proven player in a better matchup this weekend, Breesus. If McCown can match his production from the past 3 weeks against Denver, then I’ll start to believe in his hype.

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Really aren’t making this easy, are ya?

Hillman is your best option against a bad Cleveland run defense. Already said why I don’t like Abdullah. Golden Tate could burn the Bears secondary, which has improved in coverage recently, but I don’t like Stafford against their pass rush. And Pierre Garcon has a one-way ticket to Revis Island.

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QB: Is Blake Bortles available? He’s probably better than all four in a spot start going up against Houston. Out of the 4 though, at least McCown done something worth writing home about in recent weeks. Tyrod looks doubtful this week, so I would prioritize McCown (1) then Mariota (2).

WR: Already mentioned why I don’t like Pierre this week, and really it’s now or never for Jordan Matthews. In their first meeting, Matthews had 8 catches, 105 yards and 1 TD against Philly. I don’t know if he’ll get the same numbers, but the gameplan is there…as opposed to Garcon vs. a stellar Jets pass D.

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(1) – Breesus.

(2) – Sammy Watkins says he’s planning to return, and I believe him. I would also go with him over Martavis. Shaky quarterback situation, but at least he’s the #1 pass option. Both he and Bryant are taking on tough pass defenses, and Bryant has to work his way into a WR group with Antonio Brown and Michael Vick’s new favorite target, Darius Heyward-Bey.

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Alshon Jeffery is FINALLY getting work in practice, which is encouraging to me. If he plays, he’s a must-start with the way Jay Cutler is playing as of late…If he doesn’t go, Rueben Randle (if healthy) is your next best option. Stevie Johnson becomes even less valuable with Antonio Gates back (and Philip Rivers’ obsession with Gates). And Torrey Smith is currently stuck in the worst offensive dumpster fire in the league.

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Not a great passing matchup for either quarterback at all. I see both quarterbacks having to make more plays with their feet than their arms, but I also see Russell Wilson benefitting more from Marshawn Lynch returning for play-action. That, plus the defensive backs that Cam will be throwing against, gives Cam the slight edge.

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There really isn’t a team in the league who doesn’t have viable fantasy options. I mentioned San Francisco being a dumpster fire, but they do have Carlos Hyde finding life again against a tough Giants defense.

Bad teams also always adjust their identity as the season continues, which allows the emergence of diamonds in the rough. As the Jaguars went on their slow death march a year ago, they committed to running the ball and Denard Robinson became a consistent 100 yard rusher for at least a month. And as team’s with bad defenses consistently have to play from behind, there’s always a wide receiver benefitting from the “catchup” mentality with garbage time targets and yardage.

Players individually are a different story. I gave up on Jonathan Stewart after 3 weeks of no production, and I don’t blame other owners for doing the same with CJ Anderson. When a top half draft pick doesn’t give you much return after the first quarter, you either try to flip him, or relegate him to your bench and wait for him to turn it around.

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RB: Crowell’s game against Denver is way less effective than the Duke’s. That alone has me leaning toward Miller, and I like your thinking. New play-calling and a new attitude can’t hurt Lamar Miller’s usage.

WR/T: I am no longer a James Jones hater like I was for the first 3 weeks of the season. His 5 touchdowns with Rodgers tossing them makes him WR2 value for anyone. Then I go with Tyler Eifert against a Buffalo defense that his given up too much against tight ends this season…If your league gives points for returning yards, Jarvis Landry shoots the top of your group.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 4 Fantasy Mailbag

After 3 weeks into the season, it’s fun to see the rising Fantasy Football stars (and who you should be benching to send a message to your team).

Buffalo Bills backup RB Karlos Williams has scored a rushing touchdown every week so far, 3 total on the season. Starting running backs Jonathan Stewart, Justin Forsett and C.J. Anderson have all combined for 0.0…LeGarrette Blount matched Williams’ TD total in just the 2nd half against the Jaguars last week.

Do I seriously suggest you bench J-Stew, Forsett and Anderson?  If you have better options at running back, what have any of those 3 done to stop you? 

HEY LOOK! 

THE CHIEFS THREW A TOUCHDOWN PASS TO A WIDE RECEIVER FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 2013 SEASON!

Maclin Touchdown

Can they make it two weeks in a row? Tune in to find out!

Quick Hits

  • Michael Vick starts tonight for the Pittsburgh, which I am *slow clapping* for because Steelers fans were so against him being on the team in the first place. Vick has a 2-1 record against the Ravens in his career, with 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and averaging 211 pass yards per game. He’s not the scrambler and Madden video game dream that he used to be, but he doesn’t have to be with Antonio Brown capable of catching anything you throw up and Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Both skill players help make Ben Roethlisberger a better quarterback. Vick becomes a decent option if you’re hard pressed at QB…especially with Le’Veon Skywalker doing his thing out there. 

(Insert “getting high” joke here)

  • Julio Jones was awarded the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for September, and rightfully so. He leads the league in receiving yards and has recorded the most receptions through 3 games (34) in NFL history. Jones is currently on pace for 181 catches, 2,346 yards and 21 touchdowns…It’s highly unlikely he’s actually record those numbers, but dammit, he’ll try.

Jones has missed some practice this week, but still a must start. He’s earned the rest.

  • Rant Time: If you have used the term “fire sale” regarding the Chicago Bears, STOP IT. If you continue to do so, I’ll be forced to reach through your laptop or mobile screen and slap you. Contrary to recent popular belief, the NFL is not Major League Baseball. Teams can’t eat money to trade away whoever they want to. The team taking a trade must absorb the contract of a player and it must fit within their cap space, unlike baseball where there is no cap. The Bears moved Jared Allen because he was owed bonus money to start the season. Nobody would have taken him if his $11.5 million bonus was actually base salary for the season…Regarding Matt Forte, a team would need $15 million in cap space to take on what’s remaining in his contract. Only the Jaguars, Titans, Raiders and Browns fit that bill and NONE of them are looking to make a playoff push by adding Forte. None of those teams would be willing to trade back resources to match his value either, especially when he is a free agent at year’s end. Stop worrying about that if you have him on your roster. End rant. 

Mail Time!

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I love…none of your options. If Derek Carr is out there, go get him. Especially for this week.

If I’m choosing among your options though, Ryan Fitzpatrick is oddly the most trustworthy. Brandon Weeden behind his offensive line and with his weapons has the higher upside against a bad New Orleans pass defense, but I feel better about The Beard in London against a reeling Miami secondary.

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If Davante Adams is out this weekend, Ty Montgomery becomes an excellent play this weekend…and would be by far the best of your options. If he’s still available, I would recommend getting Leonard Hankerson as Roddy White’s usage is quickly becoming non-existent.

For your flex, Ameer Abdullah is your guy…even against the Seattle defense. He’s the Lions best option out of the backfield and will get plenty of work, at least in dump off passes. Ravens new OC Marc Trestman apparently has no idea how to use Forsett, and Melvin Gordon has taken over as the true #1 back in San Diego over Woodhead.

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TY Hilton is healthy enough, and now an even better play against Jacksonville while Donte Moncrief helps stretch defenses more. Then I go with Jarvis Landry over Brandin Cooks, especially if you get return points. Darrelle Revis is dealing with a groin injury and becomes even less of a fear as he’s left slot receivers alone in recent weeks.

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If Arian Foster can go, he’s going going to get plenty of work doing so. Pay attention for the active/inactive list I put out on the Facebook page Sunday for his status. I’ll be making that a weekly tradition going forward…otherwise, go with Ryan Matthews.

Among your wide receivers, I can’t ignore James Jones any longer. He has 4 touchdowns in 3 games, and the Adams injury makes him all the more a priority play.

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Marshawn Lynch drove the country crazy on Sunday with his late entrance into the game against the Bears, and even more so when he left early. If he can go though, you have to start him. That’s why you drafted him. Otherwise, Abdullah is a nice play in the flex.

Among your WRs, Pierre Garcon sticks out going against a Philly defense, that he recorded 11 catches, 138 yards and a touchdown on in one game last year.

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I am going to echo my advice that I gave to Bucy…Start Foster if he’s active. Bill O’Brien is dying to use him. Just keep an eye out for the Facebook Page for the IN/OUT list prior to kickoff. Just have your backup ready to go.

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Gotta go with Derek Carr against the Bears. He’s been slinging it like a younger Rodgers as of late and the matchup is too good not to.

If Andre Ellington can go, start him. If not, then go with his backup….yes, that’s Chris Johnson.

Then Pierre Garcon, for the reasons I listed to Kirk earlier.

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For your long-term question (which I’m sure interests my readers), Yes, Derek Carr is the best option and I have been trying to drive that home since the question asked for this week’s mailbag. He’s the most talented of those options and the combo of Latavius Murray/Amari Cooper makes him even more dangerous.

With your Dolphins WR predicament, in a standard league you can’t put Rishard Matthews in the corner. He’s catching the most passes, despite Landry getting double digit targets each week. While I believe Landry is the better receiver. Matthews is scoring touchdowns, and you should play him until he stops…As noted earlier, Revis is nursing a groin injury. I anticipate Ryan Tannehill testing that plenty in London this weekend.

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Despite my appreciation for his wide receivers, Tannehill has taken a step back in his progress this year and I think it’s going to finally get Joe Philbin fired. If you’re looking for a spot start, roll with Carr against the Bears. If you are looking longterm, I trust Tyrod Taylor to sustain his production as a dual-threat quarterback. He’s proven himself through 3 games and against tough competition.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend!