There's nothing wrong with conventional wisdom. But being predictable is usually a pretty good way to get beat. Sometimes it's best to zig when people zag. Yin when people yang. Be unpredictable like an M. Night Shyamalan film (one of the good ones). That's where this column comes in. The tips below aren't for everyone and not all of them may be appropriate for your draft. But keep these handy when you want to throw your league-mates a curveball each week.
As we reach the end of October, we officially begin the start of the fantasy playoff race. The waiver wire is barren, byes and injuries are taking their toll and your best hope to bolster the roster is trying to work some deals with your league mates. Or ... you could go through the looking glass and try to see the angles no one else can. Time to get wired.
Getting Moore from Matt?
Tired -- Moore's a game manager. The Chiefs offense isn't going to be the same without Patrick Mahomes. That might be the most obvious statement you'll read all week. Even though Matt Moore came in last week and looked decent in relief against the Denver Broncos, can you really trust him in your fantasy lineup this week versus the Green Bay Packers? After all, we're talking about a career backup with a career ratio of 46 touchdowns to 36 interceptions. If anything, this feels like a week when Kansas City leans heavily on its run game to prevent this contest from becoming a track meet.
Wired -- Reid the game plan. If there's anyone who can draw up a game plan to help a backup quarterback, it's Andy Reid. He's notorious for being nearly unbeatable after bye weeks and while that isn't the case here, he's certain to have something up his sleeve for the Packers. Another thing to keep in mind -- while the Packers FPA versus quarterbacks looks good on the whole (sixth-fewest points allowed), this defense has allowed 19 or more fantasy points to three of the last four signal-callers its faced.
Patrick peaked too soon?
Tired -- Patrick Mahomes will lead you to the promised land. There's a reason Mahomes was the first quarterback off the board in most fantasy drafts. After posting numbers that looked like typos on his way to winning MVP, he started this season by giving the middle finger to any talk of regression. He's one of the few Ronco Showtime ("set it and forget it") players out there and unless you completely botched the rest of your draft, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Mahomes doesn't at least get you to the championship game.
Wired -- Mahomes' mountain to climb. The Chiefs offense was great last season. It also had a pretty favorable schedule. This year's schedule hasn't been quite as soft but it's not as tough as it's going to get a little bit later in the year. Mahomes is likely to miss this week's game against the Packers but the teams coming up on Kansas City's schedule include the Vikings and Titans. The playoffs look even tougher with Mahomes having to run the gauntlet of the Patriots, Broncos, and Bears. This isn't to suggest that Mahomes will completely go bust down the stretch but you might need someone else on your roster to pick up the slack if you're going to win a title this year.
Running with the Bears D
Tired -- The Bears run defense is vulnerable. What was considered a formidable Bears run defense hasn't looked too stout the past couple of weeks. First, Josh Jacobs ran through them when they faced the Raiders in London. Then a week ago, it was Latavius Murray eating up yards against this group. Maybe after these performances, opposing offenses have figured something out and maybe we shouldn't be terribly afraid of starting running backs against Chicago.
Wired -- Not so fast. There's a commonality between the Raiders and the Saints -- they have two of the best run blocking lines in the NFL. That should give fantasy managers pause if they're thinking this is a chance for Melvin Gordon to get right. The Chargers offensive line isn't up to the level of Chicago's previous two opponents and Gordon hasn't looked confident running the ball since his return. With Keenan Allen now uncertain for this week, Los Angeles might be best served to rely heavily on Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry.
On the Mark
Tired -- Mark Walton is a nice bench add. After we spent the preseason debating whether Kenyan Drake or Kalen Ballage would be the Miami running back to roster. Turns out that the proper answer was Mark Walton. He's taken over the starting role for the Dolphins and last week led the team in backfield touches. We wait to see if Miami trades Drake before the deadline but he's never become the lead back the way we'd hoped for the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, it's certain that Ballage is not the answer. That opens the door for the former Bengals fourth-round pick. He should be rostered in 12-team leagues, though can you really start him consistently? Because ... Dolphins.
Wired -- It's time to stash Mark Walton. Now is the time to add Walton to your roster in anticipation of what is to come. The matchups over the next few weeks are middling at best (Steelers, Colts, and Bills) but the playoff schedule for Walton and the Dolphins is pretty tantalizing. The Jets, Giants, and Bengals are slated for Week 14-16, which set up very well for Miami's run game. Don't worry about the team's record, Walton seems locked in as the tank job rolls along. Now's the time to start planning for the winter.