My dearest fantasy football participants,
I am laying here in the hospital without a steady heartbeat. My vocal chords are shredded. I can only feel a light tingling sensation from the crotch down. My face? Disfigured. My skin? Inflamed. I type this to you on one index finger because I fear my days are limited, and I need my story to get out before my impending expiration.
Last Sunday, I was walking out of the laundromat with my hands occupied by a basket full of (semi) clean clothes when I heard the most nerve-racking sound for any fantasy football owner.
I immediately dropped my laundry and pulled out my phone. I don’t know what it is like to not know where your kid is, but it has to be something like not knowing the health of one of your fantasy football players as they are carted away to the locker room. All I could think was, “did Andrew Luck tear his labrum already?! Did Melvin Gordon redestroy the cartilage in his knee?! Is DeAndre Hopkins concussed?!” Before I could use Touch ID to unlock my phone, I was squashed by the 15,000-pound monster truck that was week one of the fantasy football season.
I woke up to the faded image of my family huddled around me, despair poisoning the atmosphere. With squinted eyes, I glossed over the scene trying to regain full consciousness. My father put his arm on my shoulder.
“Son, we have some bad news for you,” he said grinding his teeth trying not to cry.
“What’s wrong Pop? Did my team win this week?” I managed to squeak out.
Everyone looked at each other not knowing how to break the news. Nine surgeries, 47 stitches, and one lost eyeball and their silence hurt the most.
“Well, we at least scored 90 points, right?”
No one said anything.
“Okay, so it was a slight down week. So, we scored 80?”
More nervous glances.
“Guys? They didn’t only score 70, did they?” I said no longer wanting to use the pronoun “we” when referring to my team.
My mother stepped forward. “James, honey. Your fantasy team scored 54 points this week.”
Remember the scene in The Dark Knight when Harvey Dent found out that Gotham’s police didn’t get to Rachel in time to save her life? His bellowing pales in comparison to the screaming that left my mouth that Sunday night. To make matters worse, I didn’t even have anyone slated to play on Monday night.
It has been six days since the accident. All I can think about is the people outside of the hospital being able to set their lineups. Unfortunately, my long-term memory is a sham, and I can’t remember the password to my phone. And, of course, Touch ID only works if you still have the thumb that activates it. All I am left with are these thoughts of who I would start this week if I were as lucky as all of you.
Adrian Peterson vs. the Colts
It seems as though AP isn’t done quite yet.
Last week versus the Cardinals, Peterson gained 96 yards on the ground to go along with a touchdown and 70 yards receiving. More importantly, he carried the ball 26 times and had 18 more rushing attempts than the rest of Washington’s backfield.
I am in the camp that Peterson isn’t going to put up RB1 or RB2 numbers for an entire season. Especially since the 70 receiving yards he accumulated seem more like an anomaly than a constant in his stat line. However, if he is going to continue to get 25 or more carries, there are going to be games where he rips apart a defense.
His next victim comes this week versus Indianapolis.
The 2017 Colts defense had 13 games where it allowed 80 or more rushing yards and had five games where it allowed 165 rushing yards. Indianapolis also allowed the sixth-most rushing touchdowns in the league last year. The Colts ranked in the bottom half in the league in forced turnovers, so AP has a higher chance of not giving up the football like he has been known to do in the past.
Peterson is a top-15 play this week. If you have him, start him.
Philip Rivers vs. the Bills
You know who was a better 2017 fantasy quarterback than Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger? Philip freaking Rivers. And this week he gets to feast on the new doormat of the NFL.
In six starts versus the Bills, Rivers has completed 68.2 percent of his passes and has thrown ten touchdowns to only one interception. He scored 17 or more PPR points in nine of his 13 games last season. He has Keenan Allen back and two great receiving running backs in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. The Ravens had 260 yards receiving without having a true No. 1 receiver. I honestly don’t know what more you all want from Philip. Be nice to Philip and start him on Sunday. If the Bills defense can make Joe Flacco look like Peyton Manning, I can’t wait to see what they make Rivers look like.
Kenny Stills vs. the Jets
When Jarvis Landry and his NFL-leading 112 catches flocked to Cleveland, that opened up targets for the rest the Dolphins’ wide receiver corps. After taking down the Tennessee defense in week one, Stills has another opportunity to garner double-digit points going against a Jets defense that allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns in the league last year.
Sheer volume is also on the side of Stills in Miami’s pass-friendly offense. Since Ryan Tannehill has taken over the helm at quarterback, he has averaged 34 passing attempts a game. Head coach Adam Gase claims he wants to get his running backs consistently involved on offense, but when it comes to game time, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Tannehill is going to throw the ball in the air a lot, and Stills is going to get his targets.
Tevin Coleman vs. the Panthers
With Devonta Freeman out for this contest, the best backup running back in the NFL is going to get his opportunities on Sunday. Look, I know Coleman struggled in his two meetings versus Carolina last year. But having consistent volume for an entire game and a full week of practice without Freeman has to count for something. Matt Ryan did not get the job done last Sunday, and the Falcons might have to rely on the run and dump off game against an aggressive Carolina defense.
Statistically speaking, Coleman has the fourth highest breakaway percentage (39.6 percent) behind Kenyon Drake, Bilal Powell, and Alvin Kamara. With more opportunities, he could provide a solid fantasy performance especially if you are a Freeman owner.
If you have gotten this far, remember to make the most of every fantasy week. No, every fantasy DAY. You’ll never know when the last time you will set your lineup will be. Week one has always had its share of casualties, but its relatives are sharpening their blades waiting to strike.
Good luck this week, and I hope you choose your lineup wisely.
PS: Can someone can get my laundry where I was hit? My family didn’t retrieve it for me, and it is still in the middle of the street.