Fantasy football mailbag: Top QB replacement options, Drake London trust level and more

It’s pumpkin spice season, but I’m not sure that applies to the waiver wire or IR. If somehow that is a thing in your league, please send me a link or screenshot. Besides planning for that trendy Halloween costume, you’re also likely managing bye weeks and injuries on your fantasy team. That brings questions, and I’ve got answers! Here’s some of the most interesting and common questions heading into a Week 7 with six teams on bye. It also marks the halfway point for the regular season in many formats, so the time is now to make some changes and organize for a playoff push!

Who should I pickup with Justin Fields probably being out next week? — Daniel C.

Week 6 saw a bunch of QB injuries. In addition to Justin Fields, folks may be dealing with injuries to Trevor Lawrence, or QB2 options like Ryan Tannehill or Jimmy Garoppolo. That, combined with six teams on bye for Week 7, means options are severely limited. Looking at QBs who are on rosters in less than 50% of leagues, I’d prioritize Sam Howell, who has the Giants up next. Howell has produced 290+ passing yards and/or 2+ TD passes in four of his past five games.

Another option is Derek Carr, who is coming off a 353-yard outing against the Texans and has Alvin Kamara starting to round into his PPR monster form. Carr’s next four games are all against teams who allow Top 10 fantasy production to QBs (JAX 6th; IND 10th; CHI 1st; MIN 8th).

The last name to check is Jordan Love, who may have been dropped in your league after his season-worst outing vs. Vegas, followed by his bye week — he was performing as a Top 10 fantasy QB in the first month of the season. Here’s hoping you can ride it out — good luck!

Can I trust Drake London in my lineup? — Steven F.

With the bye weeks upon us, I think it’s less an issue of trust and more an issue of options. That said, I don’t think a waiver target (like Wan’Dale Robinson, for example) is a move to make over Drake London. So the question then becomes how good you feel about it. Let me give you some positives to make you feel better. London’s 28 targets over the past three games are exactly what you’re looking for, the same number as Puka Nacua and one more than DJ Moore. The fact that three of his next four games come against bottom-10 pass defenses (TEN, MIN, ARZ in Weeks 8-10) should also help with your confidence that London can sustain his recent mini-breakout. Atlanta will always be a run-first offense under Arthur Smith, but I do believe you can trust London in your lineup moving forward, especially as bye weeks limit your options.

Who are some running backs I could land in a one-for-one deal in which I give up Zay Flowers? — Brent W.

Fundamentally, I believe you don’t target specific players to trade for. Instead, my advice is to find teams in your league to trade with. If you believe you have a WR surplus that makes Zay Flowers expendable, your first step should be to investigate which teams are your mirror image, meaning they need (or would start) Zay and have a surplus of RBs who match. This is how you craft deals that don’t get laughed at or rejected, unless you’re playing in leagues with soft competition. That said, to answer your question directly, I believe the tier of RBs that would return equal value in a 1:1 trade for Zay as a low-WR2 include Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, or even David Montgomery, if his manager is scared off by the rib injury. But there has to be a team that did well drafting RBs and/or grabbed someone like Kyren Williams early off the waiver wire. Identify that team and see if you like their RB2 in a deal as a potential win-win.

I have Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor. Who has more value this year and what would you do in this situation? — Andrew B.

I get it. Zack Moss has been a Top 5 fantasy back through six weeks, this despite playing the first week. Anybody who puts up 20+ points three out of five weeks is hard to move on from. However, the clear answer is to prioritize Jonathan Taylor going forward. Taylor was finally given a three-year contract extension and I believe that (more than any injury) was the main element holding him out of the Colts lineup.

Moss’s carries dropped from 23 to 7 in the first two games Taylor has been active, and being down big to Jacksonville on Sunday impacted the rushing attempts overall. Colts coach Shane Steichen said he would be increasing Taylor’s workload, and I expect that to play out over the next  few weeks to the point where Moss once again becomes a bench handcuff to use only if Taylor has a new health issue. I would thank Zack Moss for his early service to your fantasy team, and then be excited to see JT get more opportunity (and production for your fantasy team) in the coming weeks.

Is it time to give up on Jahan Dotson? — Max R.

It depends on what you mean by give up. Zero points on one target against Atlanta now puts Jahan Dotson at WR 67, well behind Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, who are both currently in the Top 25 at the WR position. However, in a 12- or 14-team league, Dotson is still on the cusp of being a WR5 and deserving of a spot on your bench. One issue is that Dotson has yet to take that step forward correlated to Sam Howell, as some anticipated. The other is that Samuel looks like the second option in the Washington pass game, and I don’t view the Commanders as a dynamic enough pass offense to support all three wideouts. If this were the Chargers, Chiefs, or even Jacksonville, I’d say to hold out hope that there will be enough to go around. Unfortunately, I think this means you can cut bait on Dotson. Some WRs who have been performing better and may be waiver options for you include Wan’Dale Robinson, Kadarius Toney, or DJ Chark, who are on rosters in less than 50% of leagues.

(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

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