FOOT­BALL FAN­TASY

Plenty of hand­cuffs to go around if you’ve lost an RB for the play­offs ... Bench ’em all if you have a first-round bye ... Henry’s mon­ster night

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - dbil­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter: @dan­bil­icki

We hate to say we told you so, but if you didn’t grab a few key hand­cuffs last week, your play­off hopes may be doomed.

In fact, two of the play­ers we men­tioned as good pick­ups last week should find them­selves in big roles this week.

James Con­ner went down with a sprained an­kle that will keep him out at least this week. While Steel­ers coach Mike Tom­lin says that the team will use a com­mit­tee ap­proach, there’s no deny­ing that Jaylen Sa­muels is the player to own over Ste­van Ri­d­ley. Af­ter Con­ner limped off the field, it was Sa­muels thrust into the fea­tured role. In fact, Ri­d­ley didn’t get a carry at all last week.

As we men­tioned last week, Sa­muels also car­ries the quirky TE/RB des­ig­na­tion and can be a game-changer in fan­tasy. In fact, Ya­hoo projects just one TE (Zach Ertz) to score higher than Sa­muels this week, though we’d prob­a­bly take Travis Kelce over him, too.

So, could you be bench­ing Rob Gronkowski for a Steel­ers run­ning back in your fan­tasy play­offs? Hon­estly, we would.

The Charg­ers star back Melvin Gor­don will sit again this week, but af­ter Austin Ekeler un­der­per­formed in the fea­ture role against Pitts­burgh, it looks like Justin Jack­son could be set for a big day. The rookie stole the show af­ter half­time and is now pro­jected to lead a time-share sit­u­a­tion, with Ekeler re­turn­ing to his pre­vi­ous role. That’s not ex­actly damn­ing for Ekeler, who still car­ries de­cent value in PPR leagues and could cer­tainly be the hot hand against Cinci.

If you’re look­ing for the Rams’ hand­cuff, it’s no longer Mal­colm Brown, who is out for the sea­son with a bro­ken col­lar­bone. Justin Davis and John Kelly would step in if, heaven for­bid, Todd Gur­ley goes down.

And in San Fran­cisco, in­juries have caught up to Matt Breida, who has played through a va­ri­ety of ail­ments this sea­son. Jeff Wil­son Jr. im­pressed in re­lief last week and looks to serve as the 49ers top RB against Den­ver.

A WEEK OFF

This one is for Ya­hoo users only, but it’s a good, sneaky loop­hole if you’re on a bye.

If you’ve earned a bye in the play­offs, it’s ac­tu­ally a good idea to bench all of your play­ers. You see, in Ya­hoo leagues, play­ers don’t lock in on your bench once their games have be­gun, like on other plat­forms. So, you can drop play­ers from your bench for any free agent you choose.

So, if one of your play­ers un­for­tu­nately suf­fers a se­ri­ous in­jury and looks to be lost for the sea­son, you’ll be able to make a move ASAP in­stead of hav­ing to wait for waivers to fin­ish early Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

You can al­ready do this with bench play­ers you have, but this way you could also drop your stars if need be.

We’d also look ahead at de­fences for next week’s matchup, if you don’t have a solid op­tion al­ready.

Three big names to go on IR this week are A.J. Green, Greg Olsen and Em­manuel San­ders. Green and Olsen both ag­gra­vated foot in­juries while San­ders tore his Achilles in prac­tice, which could linger into next sea­son.

In Cinci, Tyler Boyd be­comes the top tar­get yet again, but his value re­mains ques­tion­able with Jeff Driskel un­der cen­tre.

Ian Thomas takes over as the Pan­thers top TE, but he didn’t do much with the op­por­tu­nity ear­lier this sea­son when Olsen was out, com­pil­ing 68 yards in three games. Look for D.J. Moore and Devin Funchess to get a big­ger tar­get share.

San­ders’ in­jury re­ally hurts a Bron­cos team that had al­ready dealt away De­mary­ius Thomas at the dead­line. A lot will fall on rookie Court­land Sut­ton’s shoul­ders now while DaeSean Hamilton steps into the No. 2 WR role and is slated to play out of the slot.

OH, HENRY!

What a night Der­rick Henry had on Thurs­day. The Ti­tans RB put up an as­tound­ing 47.8 fan­tasy points — the high­est to­tal we’ve seen this sea­son — and could’ve had more af­ter he pulled him­self late in the game in an ef­fort to get Dion Lewis a TD, which ul­ti­mately failed. Here are some more stats about Henry’s fan­tas­tic fan­tasy out­ing: He has topped 90 to­tal yards just six times in his ca­reer and four have come against Jack­sonville … Per PFF, 226 of Henry’s 238 yards came af­ter con­tact … Henry was owned in just 54% of Ya­hoo leagues and started in only 19%, while Lewis is owned in 86% and was started in 45%. This is de­spite the fact that Henry has outscored Lewis in five straight games in stan­dard leagues … Henry’s 238 yards were more than 50% of his sea­son to­tal go­ing in to the game … He was ranked 40th in yards per carry pre-game and is now tied for 13th … Henry had scored just five TDs com­ing into the game, but is now tied for fourth in ground scores … His 99-yard TD run tied the NFL record for long­est rush and was worth 15.9 fan­tasy points alone.

JAYLEN SA­MUELS RE­SERVED JUDG­MENTS

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