Andy Dalton vs. Cleveland Browns: $7,200
Hey Andy Dalton, welcome back to fantasy relevance! After an impressively efficient performance against a solid Denver Broncos defense, Andy Dalton gets the lowly Browns at home in a must win game for Cincinnati's playoff hopes. It should be noted that Cleveland's defense is above average and they did a good job holding Cincinnati in check during their first meeting, but the Bengal's offense has played significantly better of late. Expect a QB1 performance with some upside scramble opportunities at a bargain bin price.
Dion Lewis vs. Miami Dolphins: $6,200
With three Thursday games and a Monday night game, there isn't a lot of cheap choices I would suggest at running back. However, two mid-range price options stick out. The first is Dion Lewis. In a convoluted backfield, it's Lewis who has risen to the top, seeing at least 10 carries in each of the past 5 weeks and averaging 15 touches in the last three. In the high powered New England offense, that many touches is a gold mine. Because of the Patriots unpredictability, this choice is only recommended for tournaments, but it has plenty of upside against a Miami defense that is susceptible to pass catching backs.
Joe Mixon vs. Cleveland Browns: $6,200
The second mid-range choice is Joe Mixon. Ah yes, recommending two fantasy players from the team with the 4th lowest scoring offense, just like I drew up. Now, to be clear, it would not be wise to stack Dalton and Mixon, but I expect both to have solid performances against the Browns. Mixon now has complete control of the Bengals backfield, and while the holes haven't opened yet, the Bengals will likely be leading this game and feeding Mixon well over double digit carries. Mixon also has shown flashes in the passing game, furthering his appeal. This isn't the highest upside pick but presents an appetizing floor for cash games at a cheap price.
Other considerations: Tevin Coleman vs. Tampa Bay: $6,200 (If Devonta Freeman sits again)
Ted Ginn Jr. at Los Angeles Rams: $5,700
There are bigger shocks this fantasy year, but Ted Ginn Jr. becoming a reliable contributor for fantasy points is up there. Ginn has always had big play ability with his game breaking speed, and he still relies on the big play, but he's offered a surprising consistency in New Orleans. He has more than 44 yards in all but two weeks this year and has left Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman to battle for the remaining playing time in 3 wide receiver sets. His upside is completely dependent on how far he can take his usual 3 to 4 targets a game, but the script against the Rams calls for a shootout, meaning Ginn will get his opportunities. Just make sure he isn't near your cash games.
Cooper Kupp vs. New Orleans Saints: $5,400
For better or worse, Jared Goff loves him some Cooper Kupp. Kupp has seen 29 targets over the last 4 games, and that volume will likely rise, with the injury to Robert Woods. The Saints have been excellent against the pass, but Kupp will find room working the slot. He's not a deep threat, so this is a volume cash game choice, but Kupp is virtually guaranteed 8-10 targets in what, on paper, looks like a shootout.
Other considerations: Kenny Stills vs. New England Patriots: 5,600 (If Matt Moore plays)
Jared Cook vs. Denver Broncos: $5,500
OK, so last week didn't go so hot with Jared Cook. Despite Derek Carr hoisting it up 49 times, Cook only managed two catches for 36 yards. Not his best. But this week, the Raiders welcome the vaunted Broncos defense, which actually means good things for Cook. Because despite being the 5th best pass defense in the league, the Broncos are allowing the second most points to tight ends. I can't make Bill Musgrave exploit this weakness, but I'm hoping he figures it out for himself. With Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper dealing with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jared Cook should be able to find plenty of space against the slower Broncos linebackers. Give him another try this week.
Other considerations: O.J. Howard vs. Atlanta Falcons: $5,100 (for a tournament shot in the dark)