Winter is coming.
No, I’m not referring to the nuclear winter that is sure to sweep across the planet shortly after Election Day.
I’m talking about inclement weather that can disrupt passing games and make the kicking glitches of the first half of the season seem like minor blips on the fantasy radar.
While you probably couldn’t convince me to bench Tom Brady even when he’s playing in a blizzard, high winds and snow can certainly tilt the balance when it comes to choosing to start one quarterback over another on any given weekend. Such conditions also tend to favor the ground games, so opting for running backs over receivers in your flex spot is also generally advisable.
Turnovers naturally tend to increase as the ball gets harder to handle, so streaming a defense playing in dicey conditions – such Buffalo or Green Bay or New York or Seattle – can give you a decided advantage.
But where weather can most wreak havoc is with your kicker. Simply put, betting on field goals flying straight in sloppy conditions or through 15 to 25 mph wind gusts is just asking for trouble. Plan ahead to avoid such circumstances and you’ll have a much warmer feeling about your chances on any given Sunday.
Winter is coming.
WAIVER WIRE PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
James Starks, RB, Packers. Starks is nearing his return to the field following knee surgery, and none too soon for Green Bay’s struggling ground game. While he’s not the kind of tailback who’s going to run roughshod over opposing defenses, Starks is capable enough to be a solid RB2 or flex play most weeks. Grab him before your competitors notice.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks. Signs point to Rawls returning in Week 11, and he’s currently available in more than half of all fantasy leagues. He should slide back into his workhorse role very quickly, so consider making a preemptive move now and stashing him for the stretch run.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans. Though Sunday’s six receptions were a modest season high, Matthews can no longer be ignored after collecting his fourth and fifth scoring passes over the last five games. Marcus Mariota has been on a tear, and Matthews has become his favorite red zone target.
Steve Smith, WR, Ravens. Need WR help? Smith returned Sunday, and while his 47-receiving-yard outing was nothing to write fantasy columns about, take a look at who’s up next: Cleveland. After that, he’ll face the Cowboys’ depleted secondary, making Smith a viable starter in both weeks, and likely beyond.
Don’t be fooled
DuJuan Harris, RB, 49ers. If you didn’t snag and start him after getting the news that Carlos Hyde would miss Sunday’s game, you likely missed Harris’ best performance of the season. Hyde is expected back soon – probably this weekend – and the 49ers won’t be facing a cupcake run defense like the Saints’ in the weeks ahead. Harris can be a valuable handcuff to Hyde, but his future value will depend on the starter going down again.
Paul Perkins, RB, Giants. The rookie is working his way further into the Giants’ backfield rotation. But the only thing worse than being a tailback in this run-challenged offense is being a backup. Unless and until he vaults over Rashad Jennings, Perkins won’t be roster-worthy. Maybe next year.