Thanks for submitting your questions for this week’s NFL Nation fantasy mailbag. Send them anytime @MikeTriplett and I’ll share insight every week from our 32 team reporters around the league.
@MikeTriplett: You’re still in good shape with Philip Rivers as your quarterback, assuming you don’t have any other top-10 options available on the free-agent wire. But it might be smart to consider an alternative in Weeks 13 and 14, when Rivers faces two tough defenses (vs. Denver, at Kansas City).
There are definitely some small warning signs with Rivers. He had his worst performance of the season last week against the Chiefs, and his receivers are banged up. But that only bumped him down from fourth to eighth on ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Karabell’s end-of-season QB rankings (requires Insider access). After all, Rivers is still averaging 321 yards per game this season.
San Diego Chargers reporter Eric Williams said in this week’s Insider Trading advice that he expects a nice bounce-back performance from Rivers against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that he has thrived against during the past two years.
And Williams agreed that Rivers is still a safe bet for the rest of the season.
“Even though the Chargers are 2-8, he’s going to play. And San Diego is going to throw it,” Williams said, because of San Diego’s struggles running the football.
Williams also pointed out that receiver Malcom Floyd is on the mend, which should help as well.
@MikeTriplett: Here’s a perfect example of the type of replacement who might seem tempting to Rivers owners – especially after Jameis Winston’s five-touchdown performance last week.
I’m still sticking with Rivers ahead of Winston this week and for the remainder of the season in general. But Winston might be a smarter play during that two-week stretch I mentioned above. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be hosting Atlanta and New Orleans in Weeks 13 and 14.
Buccaneers reporter Andrew Astleford stressed that Winston’s growth in recent weeks should be taken seriously.
“I'm starting to warm up to the idea that Jameis Winston can be a solid, consistent producer for fantasy owners,” Astleford said. “You're right; I wouldn't place him over Philip Rivers yet. But Winston's recent run probably is indicative of the type of quarterback he'll be in the NFL when he's at his best. He has nine touchdowns with just two interceptions after tossing four picks in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4. Improved comfort with his targets and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter are to credit for that development.”
Astleford pointed out that Winston’s good stretch came with many of his own top receiving targets battling injuries as well.
“I expect he'll go through more growing pains, but he's definitely making progress,” Astleford said.
@MikeTriplett: Emmanuel Sanders appears healthy this week, so that becomes something of a coin flip. Sanders is probably the safer bet, while Martavis Bryant's big-play potential is a little more exciting. I chose this question, though, because I wanted to dig a little deeper into new Baltimore Ravens running back Javorius Allen.
On the surface, I like Allen. He’s the Ravens' surefire No. 1 running back in the wake after Justin Forsett’s injury. And Baltimore is facing the Cleveland Browns’ NFL-worst rushing defense, while Miami is facing the New York Jets’ fourth-ranked rushing D.
But Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley and Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker both preached caution with Allen and Lamar Miller in this week’s Insider trading column (requires Insider access). So neither is a sure thing.
Hensley stressed that “expectations have to be tempered" with Allen, who averaged just three yards per carry last week. Hensley noted that no Ravens running back has scored a touchdown in the past three weeks, the Ravens might be starting three backup offensive linemen, and it’s unclear what the offense will look like now that quarterback Matt Schaub is replacing injured starter Joe Flacco.
“Allen has potential, but I wouldn't say it's a lock that he's getting 100 yards and couple of TDs even though Ravens are playing the worst run defense in football,” Hensley said.