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Three Ways to Avoid Thursday Night Fantasy Disaster

CJ Spiller
CJ Spiller

CJ Spiller – Brett Davis/US PRESSWIRE

The populist movement known as #FreeCJSpiller reached its apex a couple weeks ago, when the electrifying Buffalo Bills running back was averaging more than seven yards a touch, mowing down defenses at will, while head coach Chan Gailey insisted on maintaining an even timeshare with infinitely less talented backfield mate Fred Jackson.

Nothing against Jackson. I like the guy. But I know Spiller, and you, sir, are no C.J. Spiller, to coin a phrase.

You’re playing Spiller if you own him when the Bills take on the reeling Dolphins’ defense, which, until recently, looked downright formidable. I’ve ranked Spiller No. 3 among running backs in Week 11, behind only Arian Foster and Ray Rice. Miami has allowed 110 yards per game over its past four. Even more startling for a formerly stout front seven: They’re giving up 6.5 yards per carry.

Even if you’re in some absurd six-team league, find a way – any way – to finagle Spiller into your lineup. He’ll dominate on the ground and through the air. Gailey, after all, has proven adept at getting the ball into Spiller’s hands in open space, where he can use his otherworldly quickness.

Now for three more ways to start your fake football week without a Thursday night crying shower.

Scott Chandler, TE, Bills – I looked for a reason to bench Chandler against Miami. I wanted to tell you to keep his hind parts firmly planted on your fantasy bench. But alas, I cannot. The Dolphins are allowing 6.8 fantasy points per game to tight ends, and when I went back and compared how Chandler – third on the team in targets — fared against teams that allow 6-7.5 points to tight ends per game, I found a distinct pattern of solid outings.

Chandler, against the Chiefs (6.2 fantasy points per game to tight ends) in Week 2, snagged two of five targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. In Week 9 at Houston (allowing 6 points per game to tight ends), Chandler caught three of five targets for 51 scoreless yards.

Chandler even squeezed 40 yards out of the 49ers’ defense in September, a tough task against a unit giving up five fantasy points per game to tight ends.

I’ve ranked Chandler as my No. 13 tight end for this week. If you’re hurting at the position, remember that his match-up is not nearly as bad as you might have thought. You will, however, need a touchdown from the big man to avoid the five or six points dud.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins – He hasn’t made the leap to foundational back that the Miami brass had hoped for when they drafted Thomas in 2011, but he has acquitted himself well in recent weeks, much to the chagrin of Reggie Bush owners who have seen their guy – dare I say it? – get the short end of the committee stick.

In Miami’s past three contests, Thomas has 34 touches for a combined 162 yards. Bush, during that span, has a mere 32 touches for 160 yards. And lest we forget, Bush has fallen out of favor with Dolphins coaches thanks to ball security issues and a spate of rather lazy running. Thomas has played more snaps than Bush over the past three weeks.

Most importantly perhaps, Thomas has a monopoly on short yardage and goal line totes. Bush is pulled, almost without fail, any time the Phins approach the end zone.

It’s a familiar story in fantasy circles: the center fielder on your co-rec softball squad could rush for 100 yards and a score against Buffalo’s run defense. The Bills have been gouged for 200 yards thrice this season, and even when they crowded the line of scrimmage against the Texans, Arian Foster ran for 118 yards and a score.

Bush could still get his against the Bills, but Thomas is more than just serviceable this week. He’s a top-25 play who is more than worthy of your precious flex spot.

Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins – No one, even after Hartline’s surreal 253-yard Week 4 performance, is going to adjust their defensive game plan with Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target in mind.

And while that seemed to be the case during Hartline’s major lull, from Weeks 5-7, Hartline was always drawing single coverage. He’s just not the kind of receiver who will regularly scorch the man-on-man approach.

Tannehill is still targeting Hartline with startling regularity – including 22 targets in the past two weeks – and Hartline gets the pleasure of going against highly exploitable Buffalo cornerback Leodis McKelvin Thursday night. I like Hartline’s chances of breaking off a few big gainers as Tannehill locks in on him and forces the ball in his direction.

Buffalo is giving up 20 fantasy points per game to wide receivers over their last five. I like Thursday’s contest to be a back-and-forth affair, which makes Hartline a nice top-30 option with big upside.

 

 

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