I almost quit fantasy football last Monday when Aaron Rodgers dropped back to throw the ball to Davante Adams with around six seconds left, the game tied, and the team needed only a field goal to win. It was one of those weeks where I had made some smart moves like putting in Jameis Winston over DeShaun Watson. Alvin Kamara was on a bye. And, my three receivers were Cooper Kupp, Calvin Ridley, and Amari Cooper. Brutal.
So, it looked like I was going to somehow score miracle a victory (thank you Tarik Cohen), even though I was going against Rodgers. But then Aaron Jones had his touchdown reversed. The 49ers forgot how to rush the passer. Rodgers looked like he was near-death and then ran for damn-near 20 yards on the next play. And right before his final toss, I was up four but had Mason Crosby. So, had Rodgers completed that final pass to Adams, I would have lost by one (even with the Crosby PAT because our TD passes are worth six).
Thankfully, the crisis was averted. I emerged victoriously and I leave the comforts of civilization to go live on the beaches of Zihuatanejo. Lucky you. Here are some sleepers who will hopefully give you such a comfortable lead, you won't have to sweat out Monday night.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
I've been the conductor of the Mayfield Hype Train and well ... we've been stuck on the track for a while now. I would have loved to have seen more production from Mayfield against the Chargers. And, if Antonio Callaway could just make a catch, who knows what could have happened. In fact, Mayfield's receivers own the highest drop rate in the league (9.8 percent). However, this is the matchup right here. The kind of thing where if Mayfield doesn't get it going against the Buccaneers -- who have allowed close to 30 fantasy points to quarterbacks this season -- then it's never going to happen.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
The loss to the Dolphins was a bad one, that's for sure. And, I don't want to be the guy who says look at the positives, but let's do that. The Bears offense has been simplified and is a bit more aggressive. Trubisky is averaging more than 10 air yards per attempt during this two-game stretch where he is looking like the second-overall pick in the draft two years ago. The Bears run a similar offense than the Chiefs, considering coach Matt Nagy came from the Andy Reid. The blueprint is laid out before them in this intriguing home draw against the Pats.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Don't look now, but Dalton is the QB10 in fantasy this season. He's got a great matchup against the Chiefs this week who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The great thing about Chiefs games (besides the entertainment value) is that their opponent is often forced into a shootout like it's a Big XII game or something. When Dalton needs to fling it, he can fling it.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts wasted no time getting Mack into the mix last week as he touched the ball 13 times and ended up with 93 yards from scrimmage. The majority came with his 89 rushing yards, which is significant us fantasy players because the Colts pretty much gave up on running during his absence and had Andrew Luck toss the ball all over the field. The matchup isn't ideal this week against the stingy Bills, but Mack is going to be the volume play in this one.
Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Smith has scored a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games. I know the Julio Jones managers are super triggered to hear this. Look, Julio is the WR, you're fine. Still, Ito is a great option this week. He has 14 and 13 touches in the last two games and has forced a near-even timeshare with veteran, Tevin Coleman. Smith could be awfully touchdown dependent; but, who isn't? Oh, that's right. Julio isn't. Seriously, you're fine.
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders
The injury to Marshawn Lynch (groin) is clearly something to monitor as we move forward this week. When looking at the two Raiders backs to target on waivers, I'd lean on Richard especially in PPR leagues. Richard has seen 5 or more targets in 5-of-6 games. Obviously the Raiders are on a bye this week, but if you have the room to stash a dude.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears
Gabriel has been of the biggest benefactors in the recent surge by the Bears offense. He's close to Allen Robinson in targets (38 to 34) and air yards (455 and 396), but doesn't figure to land on Stephon Gilmore this week. And as mentioned previously, the Bears will have the blueprint. I'm not putting Trubisky in Patrick Mahomes class ... but I ain't running from it, either.
Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Goodwin had two touchdowns against the Packers and this seems like another opportunity to chase the points. But, I do like the matchup against the Rams. Game script favors C.J. Beathard putting the ball in the air a lot. And when he does, he's been pretty good. Marcus Peters and the Rams secondary has also been vulnerable at times this year as well.
Nick O'Leary, TE, Miami Dolphins
"Dude, Rank ... Can you pick one player that didn't score a touchdown last week?" No, I cannot. But with Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) out again this week, I'm going to look at the guy Brock Osweiler went to a lot last week. If you're really hurting at tight end, you could do worse. Let's just cut to the chase and face the reality that Brock is going to throw like six picks this week.