All right, at this point in the fantasy football season, you’re in one of two places:
- You’re in the playoffs, and the sole reason for your dominance is your Belichickian football IQ. You watched the tape. You read the scouting reports. You scouted matchups, bye weeks, past performance, rookies from the draft, free agency moves, and coordinator changes. You know who’s getting overdrafted and who’s worth taking a bit higher because oh boy, will it be worth it. You played the trade market like a fiddle, happily dealing quantity for elite players and sleepers alike. And you, GM of the Year, are rolling as a result.
- You are not in the playoffs and have the worst luck in all of fantasy. The injuries keep piling up. Studs don’t perform. Your top picks are performing like they just signed an eight-figure contract with the Washington Redskins. The trades blew up in your face. The sleepers you picked never woke up. And now you’re just playing for pride to prove that you’re not the Taco of your league. It happens.
(There’s also option 2A, which may or may not have happened to your writer last year: you miss the playoffs AND are now at risk to finish dead last and suffer your league’s shame punishment.)
Whichever one of these is you, now is the time to play your best ball.
We’ll start with our “A Few Things You Should Know About the Game”:
Where is it?
Miami, Florida - Hard Rock Stadium
When is it?
Monday Night Football, 8:30pm EST. Nothing like waiting all weekend to see if a Monday night game decides whether you survive and advance, right?
As we do, let’s start with the running backs.
(FYI, for positional rankings, I’m going off Fantasy Pros, which aggregates a whole bunch of expert rankings. You probably knew that already, and if you didn’t, congrats, Pats Pulpit just made you smarter. You’re welcome.)
Dion Lewis, RB (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 16th in running backs
PPR Scoring Ranking: 18th in running backs
He’s small, but he ain’t little - since Week 5, he’s averaged 26.5 snaps per game, more than double the 12.8 snaps per game he got before that. Dion’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry, good enough for the 6th-highest yards per carry in the NFL. Oh, and that includes Cam Newton and Russell Wilson.
Rex Burkhead, RB (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 14th in running backs
PPR Scoring Ranking: 13th in running backs
Burkhead’s the hot hand in fantasy at the moment, scoring 4 touchdowns in his past 2 games...one of which was also against Miami.
James White, RB (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 54th in running backs
PPR Scoring Ranking: 47th in running backs
Sweet Feet White’s been on the field quite a bit this season, but it’s almost never converted into steady fantasy points. Regardless of whether you’re in standard scoring or PPR, he’s much more valuable to the Patriots in real life than in your starting lineup.
Brandin Cooks, WR (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 5th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Ranking: 6th in wide receivers
Rough week for Cooks last week. He also ranks 9th in the NFL in wide receiver points scored all year long, ahead of Adam Thielen, Larry Fitzgerald, Alshon Jeffery, and Michael Thomas. Do it.
Chris Hogan, WR (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 45th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Ranking: 45th in wide receivers
Beware the dude that’s “Questionable” for a Monday Night Football game and coming off a serious injury, kids.
Danny Amendola, WR (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 50th in wide receivers
PPR Scoring Ranking: 50th in wide receivers
If you think that ranking looks grim, you probably don’t want to look at where he ranks at in Wide Receiver points scored on the season.
Speaking of which, ditto for Phil Dorsett.
By now you’ve surely heard that Rob Gronkowski’s one-game suspension for his cheap shot on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, and maybe you also heard that the whole hood wants Gronk, as well. So, there’s that.
So, can you count on Dwayne Allen to step in and-
Let me stop you right there. The answer is no.
Stephen Gostkowski, K (NE)
Standard Scoring Ranking: 1st in kickers
Believe it or not, Stephen Gostkowski is the second-highest scoring kicker in fantasy this year. Not that a lot of you guys put any thought into your kickers, but still.
New England D/ST
Standard Scoring Ranking: 1st in D/ST
Don’t let the my-eyes-are-burning start to the season hold you back. They’ve allowed 11.8 points per game over their last 8 games, and while they don’t score a ton of fantasy points from sacks, picks, and that kind of thing, they’re not going to lose your playoff matchup for you by getting negative points or anything either. Plus, it’s Miami.
Oh, and I’d probably start Tom Brady too, while you’re at it.