NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - This is an absolutely brutal bye week, to say the least. Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England and Washington have the week off. That means from Tom Brady to David Johnson and A.J. Green, some of the league's most productive players at the position, and the bread-winners of your fantasy team, won't be there.
Time to take advantage of the favorable matchups and pray.
Kansas City QB Alex Smith: Reports indicate that his injury that knocked him out of last week's game against Indianapolis isn't too serious and that Smith should be able to go this week. They're home against Jacksonville. Enough said. Titans QB Marcus Mariota was an efficient 18/22 for 270 yards and two touchdowns against them last week while adding a steady dose of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. That's what the Chiefs love to do as well. And if Smith isn't a go for Sunday, plug in Nick Foles. He'll have the same upside after a pair of touchdowns last week against the Colts.
New Orleans RB Mark Ingram/Tim Hightower: This is a tough one. I typically stay away from Saints running backs for obvious reasons. The carries are almost never there, and they're frequently playing from behind and taking to the air. However, their patience paid off against the Seahawks with 35 runs and 35 pass attempts, even as they trailed Seattle for most of the game. Payton insisted that Ingram would bounce back, and there's no better team to do that against than the worst rushing defense in the league in San Francisco. And that's where the question mark is. Do they feed Ingram or Hightower? Your guess is as good as mine, but I give the edge to Ingram given how good he is around the goal line and how ineffective Hightower was at the goal line last week. Either way, their days hinge on touches, which should be there.
Miami WR Kenny Stills: I know. The Dolphins passing game is a train wreck for fantasy owners this year. Jarvis Landry is usually the only pass catcher worth starting and maybe even having on your roster, period. But the Jets and their highly questionable secondary are the exceptions to the rule. Stills has big play potential, and the Jets just gave up 341 yards to Josh McCown and the Browns.
Los Angeles RB Todd Gurley: The sophomore slump is in full effect for Gurley. He's averaging just 3.0 yards per carry with three rushing touchdowns. Then you look at the matchup, and he's facing a Carolina defense that's second-best in the league against the run game. I know, as we've mentioned, there's a very thin talent pool with a lot of productive running backs on bye, but there are some other options with upside. Consider Tim Hightower as mentioned earlier, or take a look at Oakland's Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington against the Broncos (ranked 25th in rushing defense).
Seattle WR Doug Baldwin: Without Russell Wilson being 100 percent, the Seahawks' passing game just isn't cutting it for fantasy owners. Consider this a sit Wilson note as well. There are several big passing games in the league that produces more than one WR fantasy option better than Baldwin (Saints, Raiders, Cowboys). He managed just four catches for 51 yards against the Saints, and 27 yards came on one play. Don't expect that to change against Buffalo, even at home in Seattle.