The Bills' Frank Gore, Bears' Allen Robinson, Colts' Marlon Mack and Raiders' Josh Jacobs (among others) get the week off, so fantasy football loses far more star power than it did last week. Fortunately, there are a lot good matchups.
1. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks at Browns
Wilson has a method to his mad scrambling, but the ways he weaves around the pocket then pinpoints difficult throws to Tyler Lockett, Will Dissly and others look like scenes taken out of "The Matrix."
That's why it doesn't matter that on paper there are better matchups than Cleveland's defense (16th in points allowed). Teams that have had success against the Browns have mostly gashed them on the ground. Had Dante Pettis not dropped what should've been a touchdown, Jimmy Garoppolo would've become the third quarterback this season to throw three touchdowns against the Browns.
2. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams vs. 49ers
Don't be deceived by the 49ers defense's top ranking in locking down fantasy running backs. Before Monday night's game against the Browns, they had the good fortune to face three dysfunctional running games with the Buccaneers, Bengals and Steelers. Pro Football Focus ranked this bunch dead last in run defense this summer, and while they may be better than preseason projections they couldn't have improved that much. The Rams have figured out the balance between underusing Gurley and wearing him out and he's racked up four trips to the end zone over the last two weeks.
3. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers vs. Lions
Don't let a big-time division matchup dissuade you, the Lions have given up the fourth most points to running backs (standard format). Lost in the hype of Jones' four-touchdown day against Dallas is the fact that he has found paydirt in four straight games.
4. DJ Chark, WR, Jaguars vs. Saints
Chark's weekly projections on fantasy sites have done him a disservice, but you still have to be cautious about matchups such as the Saints' Marshon Lattimore. But a few things should set your mind at ease: Lattimore does have his bad games, Chark has held up well despite facing three of the 10 stingiest defenses in fantasy points allowed to receivers, and Chark moves around as his route tree has evolved since Week 1, based on Next Gen Stats' charts.
Meanwhile, among receivers who have played at least four games and at least 30 snaps per game, he leads in fantasy points per 100 snaps (40.1), per fantasydata.com. Last week he had eight catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
5. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots vs. Giants
There are so many bigger names expected to shine this week, but don't overlook New England's leading receiver against a hollow pass defense.
6. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers at the Buccaneers
The Run CMC show had to come at the expense of someone, so Olsen appeared to be the odd man out against the Jaguars. But he has success in the past against the Bucs, including Week 2's 110-yard game.
7. Randy Bullock, K, Bengals vs. Ravens
It's hard to find a pair of competent (but not explosive) offenses matched by equally "meh" defenses. It's one of the best recipes for field goals you'll find.
8. Patriots defense/special teams vs. Giants
You hate going to the same well too often, but how do you not talk about this matchup? You get rookie quarterback Daniel Jones on a short week in New England whose primary support in the running game comes from (thumbs through notes) ... rookie Jonathan Hilliman, who has only six more carries (19) than his quarterback. Chalk up the one touchdown the Patriots allowed on Sunday's 65-yard run by Washington's Steven Sims Jr. to sloppy tackling.
9. Daniel Jones, QB, Giants vs. Patriots
Jones is at a disadvantage with the modest talent at his disposal. According to Pro Football Focus, almost half of Jones' completions came behind the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, the Patriots lead the league in sacks (24), interceptions (11) and passes defended (44). Yikes.
10. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Jets vs. Cowboys
Other than Christian McCaffrey, no back has been on the field for 100% of their offenses' snaps, so Bell's lack of production is alarming. Sam Darnold's return from mononucleosis would be a boost, as would Bell's involvement in the passing game, if it weren't so hard to trust any Jets with the offensive line issues they're having.
11. Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs vs. Texans
You have free articles remaining.
Williams got the most touches out of the backfield in his return to action, but that doesn't mean he's worthy of a start. Dual threats like McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Devonta Freeman make up the bulk of any RB1 production against Houston, and even if Williams was assured of their level of usage, he's not in their class.
12. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers at Chargers
You're within your right to start Smith-Schuster if he's your WR1, just keep expectations low. Untested Devlin Hodges mans quarterback and the Chargers will be keyed up after Sunday's upset home loss to the Broncos.
13. Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks have allowed only two wide receivers to top 100 yards. Antonio Callaway returned in Week 5 and you never know many balls there will be to go around if Baker Mayfield is struggling (although that third-and-goal pick against the 49ers is on Callaway). As someone who doesn't have many receptions in the red zone, Landry just needs too much volume for too little production for non-PPR purposes.
14. Jimmy Graham, TE, Packers vs. Lions
Only Travis Kelce has put up double-digit points against the Lions. Dallas was a better matchup for Graham last week and he turned in a dud.
15. Robbie Gould, K, 49ers at Rams
The Browns game on Monday night exposed problems with San Francisco's kicking unit. Gould missed one field goal after bad execution on the snap and hold, and his second was blocked.
16. Texans defense/special teams vs. the Chiefs
The plucky Colts had a 10-point day against Mahomes and Company, but it's not a feat you want to try and repeat.
17. Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals vs. Falcons
The Falcons secondary has been hit hard by injuries and the rush hasn't produced a single sack. Murray may get Christian Kirk back from an ankle injury. By the way, Atlanta's one of four teams to allow two or more touchdowns on the ground to quarterbacks.
18. Carlos Hyde, RB, Texans at Chiefs
Everyone's expecting an aerial show between Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes - and that may happen - but the Chiefs have allowed at least 135 yards from scrimmage in three straight games. And if Josh Jacobs had run for one more yard in Week 2, Kansas City's defense would have coughed four straight 100-yard rushing performances.
19. Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins at Dolphins
A catch specialist like Thompson can be a young quarterback's best friend and Bill Callahan would be wise to stress that should he decide to start Dwayne Haskins behind that leaky offensive line. "I think coach Callahan is a more run-game-minded coach. So he's probably going to want to (run the ball more)," Thompson said via NBC Sports Washington. "But at the same time, if we're in second-and-12, first-and-20, or second-and-15, you can't run the ball in those situations." The Dolphins rank ninth in receiving yards allowed to running backs and are the only defense to allow that position to average a touchdown catch per game.
20. Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals at Ravens
The Bengals aren't the most desirable option in fantasy but you can trust one thing: Andy Dalton's going to find Boyd. He has targeted him at least 10 times in all but one game and looked his way 14 times (eight more than anyone else) as Boyd caught 10 passes for 123 yards and a score against the Cardinals. A.J. Green and John Ross III are dealing with long-term injuries, so Boyd is Dalton's best option. Boyd excels as a route runner out of the slot, and the Ravens just lost safety and defensive signal caller Tony Jefferson (knee) for the season.
21. Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys at Jets
After struggling in humbling losses to the Saints and Packers, expect the Cowboys to arrive in New York ready to pulverize the Jets, who have the third most accommodating defense to wide receivers in fantasy (Yahoo format). The Jets are unsettled in the secondary, going back and forth between Trumaine Johnson and Nate Hairston in recent weeks. If Gallup finds himself lined up across one of them, he could take advantage.
22. Jeff Heuerman, TE, Broncos vs. Titans
If Tennessee has a vulnerability it's in this area. The question is whether they play Heuerman or rookie Noah Fant. Heuerman played his second-most snaps of the season, according to the Denver Post.
23. Cody Parkey, K, Titans at Broncos
Cairo Santos had one miss too many (or make that four) so the Titans cut him and are reportedly bringing in ... Cody Parkey?
Bears fans' heartbreak hasn't fully healed from January's double doink, so this should be interesting. Never mind the fact that the Broncos are just a good matchup, when have you ever had the chance to watch high drama like this from your kicker?
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com