The NFL week gets an early start on Thursday afternoon. We’ll be feasting on turkey and watching football all day long. But first, we’ll need to set our fantasy lineups.
Think of fantasy player matchups as precious metals, and me as a jeweler. Like a good salesman, I’ll give you a tour of my shop, starting with the most alluring matchups and work my way down, presenting my case for each.
Platinum: can’t-miss investment, must-start
Gold: very good investment
Silver: solid investment
Potential gold mine: could be great, but, could also turn out to be nothing
Copper: least desirable of the precious metals, not a good start
Plastic: not even real gold, put on your bench
Fool’s Gold: shiny and enticing, but not a wise investment
Gold - Russell Wilson, SEA (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks’ offense are starting to get healthy and back to the form we saw late last year. Wilson has surpassed 24 fantasy points three straight games, one of which was a road win in New England. Meanwhile, the Bucs have struggled against the pass this year, even more so in the last four weeks, allowing over 22 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per game.
Silver - Dak Prescott, DAL (vs Washington Redskins) - He’s been an effective player the entire year, but the rookie signal caller has stepped up fantasy-wise in the past few weeks (averaging 23.89 fantasy points per game the last four weeks). He now goes up against a Washington pass defense that has been solid overall, but has struggled in recent weeks. And if the Cowboys want to keep up with the Redskins’ offense, they’ll need to score with frequency.
Silver - Marcus Mariota, TEN (at Chicago Bears) - Mariota seems to have turned the corner. He’s now put up over 22 fantasy points in three straight games, and is the fourth overall quarterback in NFL.com fantasy leagues. While the Bears have been respectable against opposing quarterbacks, they are a team with a lot of injured players that is already looking to next year. You can expect Mariota to put up good, but not great, numbers against Chicago.
Copper - Matthew Stafford, DET (vs Minnesota Vikings) - After a hot start, Stafford has slowed down a bit in terms of fantasy points (though his team is rolling). He hasn’t hit 20 fantasy points since Week 6, and it is unlikely he does so against a Minnesota defense that is allowing just 13.17 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Fool’s Gold - Carson Palmer, ARI (at Atlanta Falcons) - Atlanta is allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. And Palmer has thrown for over 300 yards in four games this year. He seems primed to have a huge game, right? Well, the Falcons’ pass defense isn’t actually as bad as the stats indicate. Opposing quarterbacks have put up big numbers in large part because the Falcons’ offense leads the league in scoring. And Palmer has had some big games, but recently he’s looked confused and, well, as Matthew Barry put it, old.