by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week). Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups? Who should be sat down? Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:
Mohamed Sanu – Wide Receiver
He erupted in Week 8 for 9 catches (on 10 targets) for 84 yards and 1 TD. It’s the second time in the past three weeks that he’s racked up that many targets, which is a promising sign. The Falcons also have a favorable matchup (Tampa Bay is allowing the fifth most points per week to opposing wide receivers), adding to the appeal. He’s been a bit too inconsistent to dub a must start WR2/WR3 type player, but he certainly has that type of potential depending on your alternatives. We wouldn’t be afraid to slot him into your lineup depending on the alternatives.
Austin Hooper – Tight End
Jacob Tamme has already been ruled out, which should mean full-time opportunities for Hooper. While he turned 5 targets into 5 receptions and 41 yards in Week 8, we all know how risky an investment rookie tight ends are. There’s potential, but this early in the week he isn’t worth it.
Must Start Options:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antone Smith/Peyton Barber – Running Back
The Buccaneers running back corps has been ravaged by injuries in recent weeks. Doug Martin has been sidelined since the second week of the season with no sign of a return. Jacquizz Rodgers, who was thriving in Martin’s absence, suffered a sprained foot in Week 8 and is going to be sidelined as well. That leaves Tampa Bay with a mish mosh of Smith, Barber and the recently signed Mike James to try and plug the gaping hole.
Atlanta has been hospitable to running backs who can catch the football (479 receiving yards are the second most in the league), and Smith would have the edge in that department. Those who are desperate for a FLEX fill-in can considering utilizing him because of that, but it’s an extremely risky proposition. There’s simply too much uncertainty as to who is going to get the opportunities/touches (and if anyone can even step up and produce).
Adam Humphries – Wide Receiver
With Vincent Jackson on the IR there should be opportunities for wide receivers to emerge. That said Humphries hasn’t had more than 4 targets in each of the past four games. Move on.
Russell Shepard – Wide Receiver
Shepard has scored in back-to-back games, but is that really enough to make you trust him? In the overtime loss to the Raiders he was targeted just 3 times and even in his “breakout” game two weeks ago he had 6 targets (which he turned into 5 receptions, 77 yards and a TD). While they could easily throw the ball a lot, thanks to the questions in the running game, outside of Mike Evans there’s far too much uncertainty.
Cameron Brate – Tight End
We’d love to dub Brate a must use option, but over the past three weeks he’s totaled 11 targets (which he turned into 7 receptions) and hasn’t had more than 67 receiving yards in any game. The matchup makes him a potential option, as the Falcons have allowed the sixth most points per week to opposing tight ends, but he’s a risky low-end option this early in the week (though a viable one due to all the bye weeks).
Must Start Options:
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings: