My first place squad lost a close one to the 10th place team. I would have won had any of the following not happened:
-Carlos Hyde breaks off a 60 yard run that ended two steps before a glorious TD when the ball was punched out of his hands. Instead of 6 for the score, I got -2 for the fumble.
-Shortly thereafter Houston was on the 1 yard line with a comfortable lead. Rather than run the ball to keep the clock moving, the Texans decide to gift De’Andre Hopkins (my opponent’s WR) with a 1 yard TD reception rather than hand it to Hyde. Six for him, a sharp stick in the eye for me. (To be fair, Hopkins had been tackled at the 1 twice earlier in the game.)
-The Ravens were all set to kick a FG on the opening drive when the Patriots uncharacteristically jumped offside, sending Tucker back to the sidelines.
-Later in the game, Harbaugh eschewed a 56 yard field goal, well in Tucker’s range, to go for it on 4th down and 4.
-The Patriots made no use of garbage time when some late yardage or a score from Brady could have saved me.
-The Chargers Mike Williams goes off for 100 yards for the first time all year.
-What happens when my opponent’s defense faces the hottest QB in football? The Chargers defense rises from the ashes to shut down Green Bay and sack Rodgers three times.
-Of course Rodgers manages a meaningless TD pass late in the game to my opponent’s RB, Jamaal Williams.
-Harrison Butker scores 18 points, finishing off the game with 54 and 44 yard FGs accounting for 9 of the points.
I’m not even mentioning the performance of the Patriots defense for me because I expected it, but due to Freeman, Brees and Kupp all having byes, I didn’t have the flexibility to use a substitute for them this week.
The moral of the story is that despite the best plans, sometimes it just isn’t in the cards. When it happens to you, don’t be discouraged, just keep battling. Luck has a way of evening out. Nevertheless, I’m pretty salty this week.
Serious point about the Patriots defense – it is still damn good, but like every other defense, who they are playing is half the game. Baltimore posed some particularly difficult challenges. The next four weeks will be tough as well, but I think last night may have been the worst of it. If you have good streaming options over the next month, by all means do it. (In another league I played Cleveland instead of the Pats yesterday. it was marginally better, but I learned that my pessimistic view of Cleveland was not pessimistic enough. I thought they’d start 3-5 – they showed me.) Remember that the Pats play @CIN, vs BUF and vs MIA in weeks 15-17. And as an aside, if the Pats have to play Baltimore again in the playoffs, I think I’d bet on the Pats, especially in Foxboro.
Week 10 brings the most teams on byes (6) of any week this season. In addition, while Mahomes and Ryan might be back, they might not, and Jacoby Brissett looks like he will be a gametime decision. Since we try to plan ahead, we discussed week 10 recommendations last week. As a quick update for those that were not able to plan ahead, here are the players less that 75% owned that can help you in week 10 or 11.
Garoppolo vs SEA, vs AZ
Brissett (if he plays) vs MIA, vs JAX
Carr vs LAC, vs CIN
Jones @NYJ, BYE (high ceiling, low floor)
Foles BYE, @IND (Expect him to regain his job after Minshew’s performance in London.)
Singletary (73% owned today – after breakout this week he will be a popular waiver pick. Hopefully you grabbed him when we touted him in September and said he’d ripen by Thanksgiving.) @CLE, @MIA
Damien Williams @TEN, @LAC
Peterson BYE, vs. NYJ
Jamaal Williams vs. CAR, BYE
Gore @CLE, @MIA
R. Jones (Getting bigger share in TB) vs AZ, vs NO
*Montgomery vs NYG, @WAS (* – Bell went for MRI – if he misses time, Montgomery is a decent volume play with these matchups.)
Samuel @GB, vs ATL
Sanu BYE, @PHI
M. Brown @CIN, vs HOU
Parker @IND, vs BUF (His activity is up and Preston Williams is out for the season.)
Paschal vs MIA, vs JAX
Fells BYE, @BAL
Ebron vs MIA, vs JAX
Hockenson @CHI, vs. DAL
Everett @PIT, vs CHI
Graham vs CAR, BYE
Doyle vs. MIA vs JAX
Jared Cook and Delanie Walker both have value as well but are injured. Either one is a capable streamer if they return.
Given the byes and how many people stream defenses now, the % owned fluctuates, but the following lesser owned (below 75%) units are approved plays for the next two weeks:
Saints (vs. ATL)
Colts (vs. MIA)
Week 11 – Not a lot of safe plays among the lesser defenses.
Panthers (vs ATL)
Raiders (vs CIN)
Chiefs (@LAC in Mexico)
In addition, the best advice I can give for winning teams at this time of year is to stay alert. Follow your favorite breaking news sites. Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life app is excellent in terms of volume and speed of information. That is vital, especially Thu-Sat when you can grab free agents on the basis of breaking news.
When prioritizing your waiver picks, think about what those above and below you on the list are likely to do. If you know you are one of two shopping for a TE this week but one of six looking for a defense, look at the landscape. If Ebron, Everett and Hockenson are all available, go for your defense first. Think about waivers as we do about the draft. What can we do to ensure the best total production at all the positions we need to fill?
So for those of you that read the top of the column and can relate, we’ve all been there. Weeks like I just had only make championships that much sweeter when it works out. Sometimes our wounds are self inflicted and we can learn from them, but occasionally the fantasy gods just poop in our oatmeal. All we can do is show up for breakfast next week and open up a can of whoop-ass and dish out some L’s to our opponents.
**UPDATE** Dolphins RB Mike Walton has been suspended for four games. With Kenyan Drake shipped off to Arizona, there will be plenty of touches for Kalen Ballage for the next month. The Dolphins offense has looked better with Fitzpatrick and the schedule is @IND, vs. BUF, @CLE and vs. PHI – not great but not horrible and they are @NYJ, @NYG and vs CIN in weeks 14-16.