Start ’em, sit ’em, and other fantasy football advice.
I attended the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers game at Soldier Field this weekend. At the beginning of the game, they welcomed a handful of old Bears players to hype the crowd, including hair restoration model Brian Urlacher. It was meant to be nostalgic, to call on the ghosts of the past to give the current squad hope and inspiration.
Mitchell Trubisky and Matt Nagy are like Jake and Elwood Blues only they’re on a mission to ruin football. This was doomed from the start. Nagy took heat all week for not running ball. In this one, he gave David Montgomery 27 carries but gave “zero thought” of giving his kicker a few extra yards for a game-winning 41-yard field goal. The saddest thing in the world is a franchise swirling the toilet bowl with zero picks in the first round the following year. The second saddest thing is knowing the pick will be wasted by the Oakland Raiders.
But times are too crazy and the world is moving too fast to feel sorry for these Bears, or any of these teams who have cheated us this season. The Cleveland Browns. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s best to focus on fantasy. Escape further from reality. Let it cascade over you. Being a fan isn’t nearly as much fun as trying to find a viable RB2 among the clutter or losing to the New England Patriots defense.
The pickup of the week is Titans tight end Jonnu Smith. He should’ve already been on your team if you were paying attention. Probably a week late. Alex Erickson is probably another one I’m a week late on but he’s on bye. I ignored the line last week so sorry for not saying anything. But, counterpoint, if you need Jonnu or Erickson to save your season, advice from an old stoner isn’t the only thing you need. You need a Blues Brothers miracle.
What can help you, you ask? Nothing. So pack a bowl and let’s get into Week 9’s smoke ’em, pass ’em.
Matt Stafford at Oakland: Oakland is giving up 285 yards per game through the air. He threw for 342 and three against the Giants so he’s coming in hot. They gotta throw it because they don’t have any other options. Feed me the garbage. I like it. Why else would I want to watch Detroit and Oakland play?
Philip Rivers vs. Green Bay: I don’t want to beat a dead horse but hand me that stick and I’ll remind you of how dreadful this Bears and Chargers game I attended was. It set football back many years, long before even Frank Gore was playing. But at home against a Green Bay defense unable to contain Matt Moore and most likely forced to throw to keep up, this seems like a good spot. Speaking of dead horses, here’s a joke about his fertility: You know how many kids Rivers has? It’s nine more than the times you should’ve started him this season.
Frank Gore vs. Washington: Game flow saw Devin Singletary dominate snaps against Philadelphia. His numbers through the air the reason for his solid line with 4-30-1 on six targets. The Wise One, the knower of things, the seer of futures, the Alpha and the Omega, the fire of life at the Gore of the Earth (it used to be core), will rise once again, however. With 100 yards Gore would pass Barry Sanders for No. 3 on the all-time rushing list. This means in 2024 when Gore is the RB1 for the Las Vegas Raiders and they’re hosting the London Jaguars during their four-game road stretch, he will pass Emmitt Smith for No. 1.
Mark Ingram vs. New England: They can’t be faded. Or can they? Frank Gore put it on them in Week 4. Last week Nick Chubb got at them. Aside from those, though, New England hasn’t surrendered much. But they’ve faced the Jets twice, Miami, and Pittsburgh, who, in retrospect look mediocre. What if it’s just a matter of someone competent pushing them around? This one is gonna be worth watching. And I think Ingram, out of the bye, is the guy who cracks the code.
Duke Johnson at Jacksonville: The lack of mid-level RB talent that can be plugged-and-played with even a shred of confidence is nonexistent. Glancing over the games this week there’s almost no borderline starts or sits. But this game is in London where Dukes originated. Look it up. And anyway everyone knows your flex spot is burning with the heat of 10 Frank Gores.
Allen Lazard at Los Angeles Chargers: He saw five targets and caught all five. I can’t see this being a windfall as Aaron Jones is clearly the No. 1 receiver on this team while the rest of these guys battle like the last lizards scuttling about the charred earth. Devastated by climate change, the year is 2095, and these lizards are the only living things left, besides, of course, Frank Gore. I’ll being completely frank with you, that’s the last Gore joke.
Tyrell Williams vs. Detroit: He’s played in five games and he’s got five TDs. He’s like a poor man’s Cris Carter, which is weird because Cris Carter was actually the poor man’s Cris Carter. It’s fun to have him around because it seems to help Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs. This team is suddenly palatable. Derek Carr will get you just enough value to make it worth keeping him around. Watch Mason Rudolph throw one pass and they should sign Carr to a lifelong George Blanda deal. That’s where Oakland is contractually obligated to pay him and start him, as long as he has the ability to walk and raise his right arm, until he is 48.
Manny Sanders at Arizona: Ah, the bonus wide receiver. I’m actually feeling ambitious this week. I don’t know why. I like this time of year. Fall reminds me that time is ticking away. A nice reminder of the mortality of things. My son’s favorite movie is Coco. And one of my favorite books is Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano. The novel takes place in Mexico on the Day of the Dead. I’ve read it three times because it took that many times to understand it. But I finally did and it blew my head off, which is exactly what Sanders is about to do with a competent QB.
Jonnu Smith at Carolina: You picked him up so you have to use him, right? This isn’t a terrible spot if we get the same amount of targets he’s been seeing. At a position that is so important to find an edge, Jonnu provides a solid floor. Step onto it. What could go wrong? Ryan Tannehill is here and everything is going to be fine. Take this pill. That’s it.
Kyler Murray vs. San Francisco: He’d been great until New Orleans got ahold of him. Speaking of a hot defense, N.O. gets Atlanta and Jameis Winston coming out of the bye. And San Fran and Indy at home Weeks 14-15. Please write yourself a note. I know how forgetful you are these days. This is my note.
Jameis Winston at Seattle: I mean he might very well get you 250 and two TDs. And this defense gives up plenty through the air. But doesn’t it feel like a place where Jameis would abandon you? Seattle’s a great city so I guess it wouldn’t be all bad to be abandoned there.
Detroit RBs at Oakland: What a disaster. Ty Johnson ain’t it. But don’t get to thinking Tra Carson is either. This is a sad situation and it’s only gonna get worse. More of the reason to fill the syringe with Staff Infection every week.
Tampa Bay RBs at Seattle: You’re not starting them. But I felt obligated to have two listings under the header.
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Indianapolis: Mason JarJar Rudolph hit him for a TD against Miami and maybe it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. But Indy has been balling out against much better opponents.
D.J. Moore vs. Tennessee: Mike Evans sure burned this D to the ground. But something tells me this Tennessee team is a little different now. It’s like they have a swagger. You know where that comes from? That old jangly walkin’ Tanny, man. Believe in the Power of the Tanny. Tell your friends.
Darren Fells at Jacksonville: What is going on? Maybe he has value here. I don’t know anything anymore.