Brandon Funston

The Funston Fives

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Rookies McGuire, Mack Move Up

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Each week during the NFL season, I will offer up a variety of top-five lists because, well, who doesn’t love a top five list?  With that universal love of lists in mind, I offer up some exploitable matchups for Week 6, some backups that I’d find a bench spot for and some buy-low/sell-high trades targets to contemplate.


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5 non-Captain Obvious Week 6 Matchups to Exploit

Carson Palmer, Ari, QB vs TB – Palmer is outside the top 10 in fantasy PPG at the QB position this season, but he’s got a good chance to finish near the top of the QB1 class this week against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed no fewer than 288 passing yards to each of the four QBs it has faced this season, including 300-plus yards to Mike Glennon and Case Keenum. Palmer has attempted more passes this season than any other signal caller, and that pass-heavy approach should serve him very well this week.

Elijah McGuire, NYJ, RB vs. NE – With Bilal Powell (calf) and Matt Forte (toe) nursing injuries, McGuire steps to the plate in Week 6 as the Jets’ expected featured back. The timing could hardly be better as he’ll face a New England defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to the RB position. Among players with at least 30 rush attempts this season, McGuire sits at No. 7 with a YPC clip of 5.2.  And he has the athleticism and hand-eye coordination to make his mark in the passing game, if the likelihood of a negative game script for the Jets is a concern.

Ricardo Louis, CLE, WR vs. HOU – The athletic Louis is starting to gain traction as the lead wideout in Cleveland’s offense, combining for 17 targets, 10 catches and 135 yards over his past two games. And he has a catch of 21-plus yards in four of five games this season. Last week, Louis picked up 43 of his 71 yards in the second half against the Jets after QB Kevin Hogan replaced Browns starter DeShone Kizer, so there’s hope that Louis can continue his upwards trend with Hogan leading the Browns this Sunday against a Houston defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per catch to the WR position.

A.J. Derby, DEN, TE vs. NYG – In Week 4, before stepping out to observe his bye, Derby posted a career-best line of 4-75-1 vs. Oakland, a team that has struggled against the tight end position in recent seasons. Derby comes out of his bye week facing a Giants defense that has also struggled mightily against tight ends, allowing the most receiving yards (374) and touchdowns (6) to the position. In fact, six tight ends have scored double-digit fantasy points against the Giants in their five games this season. Given the sweet matchup and his healthy production in his last outing, Derby’s not a bad bye-week dice roll for those owners of bye-week tight ends Charles Clay, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and the Tylers (Eifert/Kroft).

Washington Defense hosting San Francisco – The Redskins come off of bye to host a 49ers team that has allowed 3.0 QB sacks per game, 10th-most in the NFL. The Redskins’ defense is averaging 3.0 QB sacks, good for seventh-best. I like the way those numbers line up for Washington, especially playing at home this week.


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5 non-Platoon Backups worth Stashing


Alfred Morris, WAS, RB – We still aren’t sure that Ezekiel Elliott is going to be able to avoid suspension. If the NFL wins its request from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction, Zeke could start serving his six-game penalty soon. That would put Morris behind an offensive line that, although not quite as ferocious as it was last season, is still one of the best offensive fronts in the league. Considering how lucrative the lead backfield role is in Dallas and the possibility that Elliott could still be suspended, Morris’ wide availability in fantasy leagues is surprising – with a decision on Elliott expected this week, adding Morris now in advance of the court decision is a prudent course of action. You can always cut Morris loose if things go Elliott’s way.

Marlon Mack, IND, RB – I’ve been holding onto Mack in a couple leagues, and I suspect, after rushing for 91 yards on nine carries against San Francisco on Sunday, that he’ll be an item of interest in many of the leagues where he’s currently unowned. Mack now has four runs (of his 25 carries) that have gone for 10 or more yards. Gore has five such carries (on 75 attempts!). Mack has fresh legs and he brings some much-needed juice (speed, quickness, elusiveness) to the table that Gore can’t match. It may not be that Mack outright takes over for Gore, but Mack is certainly bucking for some kind of platoon that serves him much better than the current 3:1 split he’s currently in – head coach Chuck Pagano agrees, saying this week that Mack has earned a bigger role going forward.

Matt Breida, SF, RB – Breida wasn’t considered a platoon back heading into Week 5, but after out-snapping starter Carlos Hyde on Sunday at Indy, he has emerged from Week 5 with the potential for an expanded, platoon-level role. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that Breida’s expanded role was about riding the hot hand, and it could be he’ll continue to manage his backfield in that manner. Breida has turned one of every five totes (6 out of 30) into a gain of 10 yards or more this season. For comparison, that’s the same number as LeSean McCoy, who has 57 more carries than Breida this season. Hyde will continue to start, and you can argue that he doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment considering he’s posted some impressive numbers this season.  But Shanahan enjoyed great success using two backs in tandem last season in Atlanta and, apparently, he’s not going to be satisfied with a stand-alone featured back in San Francisco either.

Mike Tolbert, BUF, RB – Tolbert is the backup for a team that leans on its starting running back, perhaps more than any other team in the league. If LeSean McCoy were to go down with injury, something that would not be completely out of the ordinary for his career (the 29-year-old has missed nine games in past five seasons), Tolbert is the next man up in the Bills’ backfield. I’ve been quietly adding The Kool-Aid Man in leagues where I can afford the bench space.  

Geronimo Allison, GB, WR – We’ve already seen Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb miss time this season because of injury, and if not for an amazingly quick recovery from a brutal head blow in Week 5, Davante Adams would have been in the same boat. Should any of those three miss time moving forward, Allison stands at the ready - with Cobb out, we’ve already witnessed Allison post an impressive 122 yards in Week 3. Green Bay is a lucrative offense for receivers. The next time Allison finds himself among the top three WR options in this attack (like Week 3), you’ll want to make sure you are prepared to capitalize.




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Brandon Funston has been dispensing solid gold fantasy advice (with some fool's gold mixed in from time to time) for the past 20 years, formerly with ESPN, and Yahoo. You can send him questions/comments on Twitter @brandonfunston.



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