By Kirk Hollis
I know people read this column as a means of escaping from the everyday stressors that this life throws at us all, but it would be impossible for me to even compose a column this week without taking a moment to recognize and offer deep condolences to all those impacted by what took place at Louisiana Tech earlier this week. Which is to say everyone who subscribes to this news service as the impact is, I am certain, felt all over Lincoln Parish and the surrounding area. Just a tragic event in so many ways and my heart especially goes out to those impacted the most directly.
As for fantasy football, I am going to assume that if you are taking the time to read this column, you are in need of some escape and some distraction, so as I am assigned to that end of the spectrum, I will provide. If you are playing in a traditional fantasy football league, the moments are getting more critical as most fantasy football regular seasons are down to their final four weeks at this time. Making lineup decisions should be getting a little easier as roles have become more set in stone, but that doesn’t mean that the analysis of games and players is any less critical. With that in mind, here are some players I like this weekend based on their trajectory of recent play and match-ups and also a few I would avoid placing in your weekly lineup based on those same factors.
Brock Purdy vs. Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers are giving up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team sans two. And, Purdy has everyone around him healthy, which is a big deal if you have followed the careers of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, not to mention Christian McCaffrey. If you typically sit Purdy behind a QB that is only marginally better, this is the week to put Purdy in and reap the benefits.
Aaron Jones/A.J. Dillon vs. LA Chargers: I know the Packers’ offense has been a disappointment overall this season and Jones and teammate Christian Watson probably top that list of disappointments. However, the game plan for Green Bay is almost certainly going to be ball control and keeping Justin Herbert off the field, so look for lots of hand-offs to both RBs. It doesn’t hurt that the Chargers don’t stop the run well as evidenced by what David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs did to them last week.
Terry McLaurin/Jahan Dotson vs. NY Giants: If you watched the Cowboys-Giants game last Sunday, you know how beat up and essentially toothless this Giants defense is at the moment. Enter Sam Howell, who has now thrown for 300+ yards in three straight games and you have a recipe for wide receiver success all over the field. With Curtis Samuel still not 100%, that means McLaurin, Dotson, or both are probably in for their best games of the season, especially since those games are at home. Start both if you’ve got them, particularly if your lineup allows for a third or fourth receiver in the fold.
Puka Nacua vs. Seattle: I know the conventional wisdom is that Nucua is cooling off ala Zack Moss with Cooper Kupp back in the fold, but truth be told, Nacua has been producing fewer points of late because Matthew Stafford has been out of the lineup. Stafford will be back this week and as Seattle is generally very poor vs. the pass on the road, look for a good day for all start-able Rams, particularly Stafford and his band of receivers. I’m not saying Nacua will return this season to being what he was when Kupp was out, but I am saying this is not the week to stick him on your bench.
And now a couple of players I would avoid putting in my lineup this week if given the opportunity to do so…
Isiah Pacheco vs. Philadelphia: One of the reasons the Eagles are 8-1 is that they absolutely smother the run game of opponents. Add in the fact that the Chiefs are going to have to actually chase points to win this game and you’re likely to see a heavy dose of Jerick McKinnon and a much lighter dose than usual of Pacheco. I’m not saying he isn’t start-able necessarily as running backs who get touches can be hard to find. I am saying you can expect one of his lowest outputs of the season based on situation and opponent.
Adam Thielen vs. Dallas: I have praised Thielen’s resurgent season several times in this weekly column already this year, but this isn’t likely going to be a great spot for him to shine. Bryce Young is struggling with the mental side of the game right now and Dallas is not a team to get well against, particularly as far as the passing game is concerned. If your wide receiver corps is deep enough to give Thielen the week off, I would strongly consider it.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you next week.
Kirk Hollis is a 1989 graduate of Ruston High School and a well-read fantasy football writer for Fantasy Football Focus.