Fantasy football owners might receive some early holiday gifts from the players at the bottom of their rosters this weekend.
Fantasy owners normally want to cut players quicker than the Philadelphia Eagles cut Jason Babin. One or two bad games and guys get dumped in favor of Knowshon Moreno, Chad Henne or Mario Manningham, despite those three having dubious track records for fantasy owners.
Patience is definitely a virtue, even in fantasy football. Sometimes if you ride out a bad patch you will get paid off with a decent fantasy performance later on depending on who the player is. This week there are several players ready to return to their fantasy owners’ good graces.
Here are four players who should have bounce-back games this week:
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons (RB)
Turner has been running like he has an anchor tied to that rotund rump of his this season. His 3.5 yards per carry is a career low, and twice in the past three weeks he has had 13 carries for under 20 yards in games, and one of those games was against those bastions of run defense, the New Orleans Saints.
But can the tackling-challenged Saints, ranked dead last in rushing defense, stuff Turner twice in the same month? Not likely in my mind. Even if Turner is running in quicksand he should get four yards per carry this Thursday night against that crew thanks to his offensive line.
I am not saying Turner is going to have a 200-yard game and sprint down the sidelines with the speed of Chris Johnson. Jacquizz Rodgers is going to get 40 to 50 percent of the touches, so Turner can only do so much. But I can definitely see Turner bouncing back with 70 to 80 rushing yards and a touchdown—especially with quarterback Matt Ryan engineering plenty of drives down to New Orleans’ goal line.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (QB)
Cutler has not been endearing himself to fantasy owners this season. His 13-to-11 TD-to-INT ratio is nothing to shower him with awards over, and he has thrown for less than 200 yards in six of his 10 starts, including the 188 yards he tossed for in his concussion comeback last week.
Cutler is slated to throw his heaters against the Seattle Seahawks and their Adderall-loving cornerbacks on Sunday. But even though Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner’s suspensions are being appealed and they are able to play, Cutler should not have as hard of a time as you may think.
While Seattle’s defense is almost always a fantasy start when the Seahawks play in their boombox of a stadium, the unit is average at best on the road. In its past two road games Seattle allowed Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford to throw for a combined 605 yards and four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Cutler will probably be pressed into passing more often thanks to running back Matt Forte’s ankle injury and has a revamped offensive line that seems to be protecting him better (only one sack allowed against Minnesota last week).
Cutler throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns would not surprise me. If that is better than what you think you could get out of your other quarterback options on your fantasy squad, feel free to use him.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders (WR)
Moore was Carson Palmer’s top target for a time during the season, racking up many fantasy points while Palmer was tossing 300-yard games like he was in the CFL. Yet Moore has vanished in recent weeks like Angus T. Jones’ character on Two and a Half Men.
Moore is coming off back-to-back one-catch contests. He was only targeted 11 times in those two games after being aimed at eight to 10 times in every other game. Palmer has been throwing to his tight ends and running backs more than his receivers and not paying as much attention to Moore and the underwhelming Darrius Heyward-Bey.
The great news for Moore and his leery fantasy owners is that he is facing the Cleveland Browns this weekend, a defense rated 21st against the pass and whose defensive backs are below-average cover guys except for cornerback Joe Haden.
I am not exactly going out on a limb by predicting that Moore will not have his third single-catch outing in a row. But I think the Oakland offense will get back to normal this weekend, and the talented Moore will be targeted the most and lead the team with receptions and receiving yards, which could amount to a solid stats day for his fantasy followers.
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons (K)
Bryant has been one of the most productive kickers in fantasy football this year thanks to all of the scoring opportunities the 10-1 Falcons have provided him. He is third among kickers with 108 points and second in field goals with 26. Bryant has been as successful kicking field goals as Ndamukong Suh has been kicking groins.
But Bryant has been battling a bad back the last few weeks, and it appears to have caused some accuracy issues. He missed two of his three field-goal attempts at Tampa Bay last Sunday, and that cost at least one fantasy owner (me!) his/her game last week.
Atlanta’s offense will certainly hook Bryant up with several scoring chances Thursday night when the Falcons host New Orleans. Bryant should be afforded several field-goal and extra-point attempts because of Atlanta’s awesome offense and New Orleans’ subpar defense. And Bryant has been successful kicking against New Orleans recently, making eight field goals over his last three games versus the Saints.
Bryant’s back appears to no longer be an issue as his name was not listed on this week’s injury report, plus he is kicking inside the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome, so there is no excuse for him not to score plenty of points Thursday evening.
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