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Like/dislike: Don't abandon Antonio Brown in fantasy

What we are talking about:

  • Antonio Brown

Stay the course, sans Big Ben.

  • DeAndre Hopkins

Find a way to bench him.

  • My thoughts on ...

Who deserves a Super Bowl the most?


If you spent some time reading this space last week, well, bless you. I appreciate that you not only took the time to read; but made perhaps the questionable decision to return. So for that I cannot thank you enough. My baby, Ahsoka, gets to eat for another week! So I appreciate you.

So if you were here last week, you know I'm not a huge fan of narratives. Or mostly, people who debunk narratives that are actually the truth. Like, I hate the narrative that Del Taco isn't a great place to eat, because it clearly is.

All right, that might have been a weird example. Especially if you're some place in the world that doesn't have a Del Taco. I feel for you. (And yes, I know, I live in California and there are literally [not figuratively] thousands of hole-in-the-wall places to get a burrito that are fabulous. Which is true. However! Very few of them are open at midnight, when I need to grab a bite to eat after performing (like Wednesday night after a set at the Brea Improv). Well, there is Taqueria Mexico in Westminster, Calif. which is an even more obscure reference (although I will get at least one tweet from a local who has eaten there). But even though Taqueria Mexico is great, there are times when I don't want to fight the sober Uber drivers who hang out there, plus it doesn't have a drive-thru. But I fear I'm getting a bit off topic here.

Because I want to talk about the biggest narrative in fantasy football; "Antonio Brown can't succeed without Ben Roethlisberger." Which is complete nonsense, and really isn't rooted in fact.

Now, if you were to say "Antonio Brown can't succeed with Michael Vick," well, then you would clearly be on to something. Vick turned out to be the NFL's true shutdown quarterback last season when he struggled to get 84 the football. Landry Jones didn't quite have this affliction.

He made one start at Kansas City. It was the only game where he spent the week preparing to be the starter and played the full game. Obviously Landry started against Cleveland and was hurt in that game after four pass attempts. Roethlisberger came on in relief and threw three touchdowns which included two to AB. I made the joke on Wednesday on Twitter that hey, look, AB had two touchdowns in a game started by Jones! And some sweet kid with a Kevin Owens avatar lost his (expletive) mind. I tried to calm him down much in the same way I try to keep my dog calm when people start shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July weekend. Unfortunately, both attempts at soothing were all for naught. (Hey you win some and you lose some.)

So let's start in on this game. I made use of GamePass to go back and watch that game against the Chiefs (which I implore you to do the same) and I was somewhat impressed with Jones. I always liked him at Oklahoma and he's backup quarterback good. He made some nice throws to Brown. There were a couple where he really threaded the needle, only to have them knocked away. He had one interception that landed in AB's hands and was batted into the air (which I hate that it gets credited as such). There was also a nice move AB made that resulted in a pass interference call. All in all, it was impressive. Brown had eight targets for six receptions (again, one was in his hands and knocked away) for 124 yards. That is 14.4 points in leagues where you get the 100-yard bonus as the lord intended.

And you want to tell me that AB can't succeed without Big Ben?

So in short (which is weird for me, because I can never be short about anything; In fact, I feel like when my producers want me to film a two-minute hit, they tell me it's just a minute, and when I go over by 60 seconds, they are actually getting the length that they are hoping for.), here is what you need to know about Brown.

And I'm pretty serious about this.

Brown is going to be good with Jones. Obviously, he's not going to be as prolific as he will be with Ben. But that's to be expected. Ben is the starter for a reason. But to foolishly cast him aside (or to even consider benching him in traditional leagues) is completely ridiculous. Jones is going to target Brown extensively. The young quarterback is going to lean on both Le'Veon Bell and Brown against the Patriots. New England is pretty good at taking a team's main threat and neutralizing him. The Steelers have a unique problem because they have two guys you need to contend with. My conjecture is both of them do pretty well. Brown and Bell, that is. Just in case you were confused.

All right, let's find out who else I like and dislike this week. But not before I plug "Fantasy and Friends" which will be on Friday at 6 p.m. ET. There is no replay. But also check for me on "NFL Now, Later" on the NFL Network this weekend. But it's just going to be another rant on AB. Watch anyway. The show is good.

And without further ado ...

Tom Brady is 4-1 against the Steelers in the Mike Tomlin era (2007). In those games, Brady has 17 touchdowns and no picks, with a passer rating of 127.9. I'm assuming that's pretty good.

The Giants have allowed an average of 269 passing yards per game this season, that's the 11th-highest total. More importantly, teams have focused the attack on Todd Gurley and dared Case Keenum to beat them in the air. The Giants will do the same, so I will make the case for Keenum. Yep, I already hate myself.

Keenum has similar numbers to Eli Manning. Eli has an edge in touchdown passes (eight to seven), but otherwise it's damn close. The Rams DBs are banged up, so I like both QBs in London.

Kirk Cousins leads the NFL in completion percentage (69.3) and Matthew Stafford ranks second (69 percent) since Week 7 of last year. Only Russell Wilson has a higher passer rating (109.8) than Cousins (106.8) and Stafford (106.4) in that span.

Marcus Mariota has averaged close to 30 fantasy points in his last two games with seven total touchdowns. He's got a great matchup against the Colts.

Sam Bradford is often overlooked as a streaming option, but he's played well. He has a 146.8 passer rating on passes over 15 air yards.

Philip Rivers does great against Pete Carroll's defenses. Dan Quinn is part of the Carroll coaching tree, so expect Rivers to have a great game in Atlanta this week.

Matt Ryan is on pace for 5,546 passing yards, which would break the all-time single-season passing record (5,477). There isn't one matchup where you would bench him. Not one.

Ryan and Rivers rank first and third in passing yards among quarterbacks in NFL history that have not won a Super Bowl. Oh that's rough.

Image Oh my god, he's back! That's right, Eric Young is back on NXT! Well, I was excited for that one. But yes, you were probably expecting me to mention Goldberg! I'll be honest. Even as a jaded jerk, I was pretty excited about this. What added to it was Goldberg seemed genuinely touched by the fans' reaction. (Though to be honest, Brandon Stroud does have a point here about the fans.) I know they will probably rush this Survivor Series, but I wouldn't mind if they pushed this WrestleMania. Not like there isn't a precedent with the whole Rock vs. John Cena thing. So make it so.

Image Now that Goldberg's back, I guess the only surprise return that would bring down the house is of course Cody Rhodes. I kid, I kid. Although that would be cool. But obviously it's going to be CM Punk. He's obviously not done with MMA, but man, I can't wait for his return because his promo is going to be hot fire. And with the millions he's going to make, I would imagine they let him say anything.

Christine Michael is the bell cow in the Seattle backfield. Michael has accounted for 80 percent of the team's rushing yards and 46 percent of the team's total touchdowns.

David Johnson has been a touchdown machine for the Cardinals and he's already set the franchise record for TDs in a player's first two seasons (21). It's also the most by any player since he entered the league in 2015.

It's going to be a fun debate about who should be No. 1 next season. DJ will have a strong following, although they will have to get behind our own Marcas Grant who had him as the top overall player this year.

Spencer Ware was on the field for 63 percent of the plays in Week 6, the most among the team's running backs. He's averaged 5.3 yards per carry this season, which is pretty dope.

Matt Jones has been great in recent weeks, much to my chagrin. I like the matchup against the Lions this week who rank 22nd in rush defense.

LeSean McCoy has been one of the best stories in the NFL this season. Mike Gillislee would be the next man up if McCoy (hamstring) can't go this weekend. The Dolphins D is 31st against the run, so Gillislee might be a sneaky start anyway.

Jacquizz Rodgers is a great play against the 49ers who rank last against the run. Which is more amazing when you consider how they shut down Todd Gurley in the opener.

Doesn't this seem like the game Cleveland is going to win, with Hue Jackson? I feel like he's going to know a way to dismantle this defense so I'd be comfortable with Duke Johnson in as flex. Or if you're a hardcore ZeroRB fan, even an RB2.

Image I don't want to be that guy who can't enjoy a Marvel movie now and then. "Guardians of the Galaxy" was a rare hit for them. (You can't count any of the "Spider-Man" movies [Sony] and "Deadpool" was all on Ryan Reynolds. I'll concede the first "Iron Man" and "Captain America" which were great. I'm a human being, I can recognize that. And that's it!) But I'm down with "Guardians" and I'm super stoked for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" which released this sneak peek this week.

Odell Beckham Junior is pretty great. He had 222 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It was the most receiving yards by a Giants player in a single game in the Super Bowl era. The kicking net thing is funny now, isn't it? ISN'T IT???

Allen Robinson is going to be good, y'all. The Raiders have allowed an average of 445 yards per game this season. Not only is that the most yards per game allowed this season. It would be the most for a full season since the 1970 merger.

Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have combined for the most targets (108) and receiving yards (950), and are tied for the most receptions (67) among all WR duos this year.

The Lions have allowed a 119.3 passer rating, which is last in the NFL this season and would rank last all-time if that holds up. So confidently start Jamison Crowder.

Hunter Henry has at least 12 fantasy points in three consecutive games. He's the first Chargers player with a receiving touchdown in three straight since Antonio Gates in 2014. That doesn't seem so long ago. The Falcons have trouble shutting down tight ends. So that's good. Start all of your Chargers receivers, too.

The Doyle Rules indicate Vernon Davis is the play this week. The Lions can't seem to stop tight ends and last week it was Lance Kendricks who got a score. Of course, if Jordan Reed returns, then Davis is off the table.

Image Here's a fun exercise, which fan base deserves a Super Bowl title the most? This was put out via Pro Football Talk (and Mike Clay) on Thursday. My first choice would be Chicago, duh. But who should really be considered? Cleveland would be an obvious top choice. But the Cavs won a title this year and here come the Indians. Buffalo is another good one. I don't have much negative to say about it. Philadelphia definitely deserves to be in that conversation. But the Phillies won a World Series recently. So my choice would be the Lions. While the Bills and Eagles at least have tasted the Super Bowl, Detroit never has. As an NFC North rival, I can't even muster the strength to really hate on that team. Each of the teams in the division have taken turns dominating a decade Vikings (70s), Bears (80s) and Packers (Favre through Rodgers). So it seems like the Lions have the most to gain.

Image Some of you might even add the San Diego Chargers here. But have you ever been to San Diego? They are already huge winners.

Brock Osweiler has absorbed 43 quarterback hits this season, second-most in the NFL behind only Andrew Luck. The Broncos D has more hits than any other team with 57.

And honestly, I know some of you only like the numbers. But you don't think this Broncos defense is going to be primed to get busy on this dude? You want nothing to do with him. This could be an ugly game.

Carson Wentz has been a straight G this year. But the Vikings defense has overwhelmed some of the league's top quarterbacks. In its last eight games, six of which were against Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, the Vikings defense allowed a 65.5 passer rating.

I mentioned this in Rank's 11, but it's worth repeating here. You can move on from Carson Palmer. He's like another version of Alex Smith. The rest of the league knows what Bruce Arians wants to do with the deep ball. Which means it's going to be a lot more underneath stuff to Larry Fitzgerald. And when they get near the goal line, the ball is going to DJ. Which is the smart thing to do. But bad for our fantasy teams.

You want to know what sucks? The Steelers have played five of a possible 24 games with Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown all active. And I don't care about the Pittsburgh fans, they just won a Stanley Cup. But think of us fantasy enthusiasts.

Drew Brees has put up "Madden" numbers at home, averaging 421.3 passing yards per game with 11 touchdown passes. He averaged 235 passing yards and three touchdowns on the road.

That's right, I would sit Drew Brees. I don't think it's a bad idea to start Brees at home, stream on the road. That will end up winning you a championship.

I'm out on Alex Smith. I expect this week's game to unfold similarly to last week's game with the Raiders. A lot of rushing touchdowns. Your hope would be Jamaal Charles would take a short dump-off 20 yards for a touchdown. But you can't rely on him to get into the end zone. At all. Especially with Dontari Poe now stealing touchdowns, too.

Andrew Luck has played well against the Titans, with a 7-0 record. But he's had just 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions in those games with a passer rating of 86.8.

Image Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians who reached the World Series for the first time since 1997. Awesome. I know LeBron James has received a lot of grief for showing up in Indians gear since he's a Yankees fan. But here's the thing. Nobody seems to have a problem with Aaron Rodgers showing up at the Wisconsin Final Four, even though he went to Cal. Which is more egregious to me. But LeBron deserves a fair shake here. The Indians players were supportive during the Cavs' title run, so the King is returning the favor here. Honestly, you all need to build a bridge and get over it.

The Chargers have the worst record of any team with a positive point differential (+18) in 2016. Only once have the Chargers finished a season with a losing record and a point differential above +15 (1990 finished 6-10).

As tradition, we put Melvin Gordon in the dislike ledger to keep the magic rolling for him. It's not me, it's science. Though the Falcons rank 11th in rush defense, I wouldn't bench Gordon unless you have some fantastic options. I can't imagine what they would be.

I feel so bad for Matt Forte. Shown no love by the Bears, and he signed with the Jets as that final piece for their offense. Instead it's turned into a (expletive) show. The guy really does deserve better. This is why I wanted him to sign with the Patriots. He's the millennial version of LaDainian Tomlinson.

Ryan Mathews has been aight. I'm not playing him against the Vikings this week. I wouldn't touch anybody else like Darren Sproles in a PPR league, either. Don't do that.

I'm kind of excited about the NFC race right now. Minnesota and Seattle look like the two obvious choices for the NFC Championship Game. But the Falcons showed something last week to also be considered in this race.

Image While I do admit I'm excited for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" Marvel hasn't done really well with the second movies. Think of some of the follow ups to your favorite Marvel flicks. Yeah, that's a tough admission. If you want to dive down the wormhole this weekend, check out the Honest Trailer for "Captain America: Civil War" which is amazing. Also, this one about "The Flash" is pretty spot-on, too. I can never un-see the Barry Allen head bob. Thank you so much, Honest Trailers.

Brandin Cooks has 15 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns at home. He's had just 10 receptions for 99 yards on the road.

T.Y. Hilton has had a similarly bad time on the road this season, as he's averaged 44 yards per game on the road. Nearly 100 yards fewer than he averages at home.

We touched on Palmer earlier in this space. But it warrants mentioning John Brown. Smallish receivers (like Hilton) have done well against Seattle in the past. Brown not so much. And now with the way the Cardinals have played. I'm out.

I'd stay away from both of the Texans receivers this week. Will Fuller tried to give it a go last week and burned a lot of people. I don't need to bother with him this week. Don't drop him. He can still be valuable. It's not going to be this week. I'd also balk on DeAndre Hopkins this week, too. Look, Matt Harmon warned you about this.

Tyler Eifert has practiced again! I know a lot of you have some tough situations. C.J. Fiedorowicz is getting some attention. But with Eifert, I would still leave him on the bench even if he does return. How effective is he going to be? I saw Rob Gronkowski struggle for a few weeks before he got his footing underneath him. So I would exercise similar caution.

Image Seriously, Vontaze Burfict what's your deal? I realize that you've made many questionable decisions in your life, starting with going to Centennial High School and not my alma mater Corona. But dude, you're still representing the 951 and I'm going to have to implore you to tone it down a little bit. I'd be happy to meet you at the Miguel's Junior on Sixth Street to see if I can help out. Because there's nothing a Miguel's BRC burrito can't help fix.

Image Thirty years ago on Thursday, the dirtiest hit in NFL history occurred. None of you were even alive when this happened. I'm sure you've seen some of the stuff Ndamukong Suh has done with the stomps and the kicks to the groin. What Charles Martin did was like 100 times worse. It was like 20 seconds after the play. Jim McMahon was walking to the sidelines. I remember distinctly how upset my dad got. He was rather livid. The kind of hue I hadn't seen from one of my parents since my mom got super mad at me for sneaking into the gulley by our house (which I did every day as a child, even though it was forbidden). If you asked my dad about things that still haunt him, it would be the Fridge stealing Walter Payton's touchdown, my nephew going into the Army instead of the Navy and this Charles Martin hit on McMahon. He still believes this was the thing that cost the Bears the Super Bowl XXI championship (remember, this was the team that set the record for fewest points allowed, not the 1985 team).

Be sure to watch "Fantasy and Friends" at 6 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Monday-Wednesday and Friday. (Sorry, the Thursday night game preempts us. But you can be a part of the show by going to Also follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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