3 Ways to Avoid Thursday Night Disaster: Week 8

Kyle Rudolph

See, Thursday nights don’t have to be your terrifying fake football nightmare.

Last week, I recommended three ways to safeguard against the all-too-common Thursday Night Football fantasy football debacle – benching the guy who goes bananas, playing the boom or bust guy who posts a nice, round zero in your fantasy roster. All three picks worked out pretty well, if I do say so. Next time, I’ll try to warn you about a Vernon Davis goose egg.

This week’s Thursday night game between the Bucs and the Vikings is a little trickier, because both offenses have looked somewhere between efficient and moribund all season. Even so, we must go on, and find a few ways to sock our fantasy opponent in the face tonight.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings – Rudy stung you last week, posting as many fantasy points as I did in Minnesota’s game against the Cardinals. Rudolph’s zero was pretty damn devastating to owners who thought they had a surefire top-tier tight end.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE

It’s important though to apply a touch of context. The Vikings’ coaching staff shut down the offense after grabbing a hefty lead against Arizona. Christian Ponder completed a whopping eight passes for 58 yards last Sunday in the team’s uber-conservative approach.

Rudy drew four targets, second on the team, and his lone reception – a 19-yard gain – was called back on a penalty. He came into last week’s game as the No. 5 fantasy tight end, and as long as Ponder looks for the big man near the goal line, Rudolph needs to be in your lineup.

Josh Freeman, QB, Bucs – You think you have a sneaky play here with Freeman, don’t you? You’re considering playing the Tampa signal caller over guys like Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford this week, right? This, friend, is the definition of getting cute.

You’re mesmerized by Freeman’s Week 7 stat line – 420 yards and three touchdowns – against the league’s worst defense, the Saints. Freeman was left untouched for most of the game last week, and he took advantage of unforgivable coverage gaffes that left receivers wide open from start to finish. Freeman, against the Saints, was a fine matchup play.

Against the Vikings, he’s not. Minnesota’s front seven will apply pressure throughout, and the Vikings’ secondary is, well, much better than the Saints’ cover men. The Vikings are allowing 17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, a number that was skewed by Robert Griffin III’s huge state line against Minnesota in Week 6. Remove Griffin’s 34 fantasy points against the Vikings, and signal callers are averaging 14 points per contest against the guys in purple.

Go ahead and play Freeman if your quarterback is on bye, but don’t bench elite options in favor of the former fat guy.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Bucs – Stop with the timeshare talk. A cursory look at the Week 6 box score showed what looked to be a pretty even split between Bucs’ rookie runner Doug Martin and Blount. A closer look would have shown fantasy footballers that Blount didn’t get the rock until late in the second half, when the Bucs were up big against the Chiefs.

And last week, Blount failed to score on three miserable attempts from the one yard line. The big man is – and has been – afraid of contact, which is why his YouTube highlight reels include Blount hurdling oncoming defenders rather than facing them head on. Tampa’s coaches were clearly ready to expand Blount’s role in the offense after Martin’s early season struggles, but after two superb outings from Martin and Blount’s goal line blunders, it’s safe to drop Blount in most formats.

Even if you have running backs on bye weeks, don’t plug in Blount against a tough Vikings’ defense. You’re just asking for a Thursday Night Football hangover that, as we all know, lasts for 72 hours.

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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.

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