FANTASY PLAYS: Ajayi and Tate big performers, others fizzle

Another unpredictable week for fantasy football, as players who many owners had given up on — like Jay Ajayi and Golden Tate — turned in big performances, and matchups that were supposed to yield big results — Allen Robinson, T.Y. Hilton — fizzled.

For fantasy footballers, that leaves one burning question with just seven weeks left in most leagues’ regular seasons: what do we do now?


Through his first four games played this season, Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi had 161 total yards. In four quarters on Sunday, Ajayi — started in just nine percent of leagues — gained 207 total yards, with 204 of them coming on the ground.

This muddles the role of Arian Foster, the presumed starter who returned from injury Sunday and played just 11 snaps to Ajayi’s 48. While Foster was playing well before his injury, Ajayi was tremendous on Sunday, and should alter Miami’s best laid plans going forward. Can anyone — outside of Bill Belichick — shrink the role of a player who nearly broke the team’s single-game rushing record (228, held by Ricky Williams) the following week? It’s tough to imagine Foster having a noteworthy role until Ajayi proves to be ineffective — which is not guaranteed to occur.

Expect Ajayi (30 percent owned in Yahoo!, 42.4 percent in ESPN, 56 percent in to be this week’s most-added player.


Detroit’s Golden Tate finally had the breakout game his fantasy owners (and millions of former fantasy owners) were waiting for all season. With eight receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown, Tate — started in just five percent of ESPN fantasy leagues — bested in one game the 134 receiving yards he totaled through his first five weeks.

But while Ajayi’s game was completely unexpected, Tate’s was somewhat telegraphed — Detroit was missing starting tight end Eric Ebron, pass-catching maestro Theo Riddick, and would-be starting running back Dwayne Washington. Additionally, fellow wideout Marvin Jones had previously been dealing with a foot injury. By process of elimination, that left Tate the main beneficiary in a pass-heavy offense.

Still, Tate’s big game at least shows that the Lions are capable of involving him in the offense, and this game could be the springboard from which Tate salvages his season.


— Aaron Rodgers (294 yards and a touchdown) is getting plenty of “he’s not elite” analysis after Sunday’s loss to Dallas, but he hasn’t been a fantasy disaster. Rodgers is averaging 24.4 fantasy points per game this season and his one “bad” game came against the league’s best defense (Minnesota), in which he still scored two touchdowns. Rodgers has relatively easy matchups against the Bears, Falcons, and Colts in his next three games. It would be wise to float a low-ball trade offer to his frustrated owner.

— Marcus Mariota (284 passing yards, three touchdowns; 64 rushing yards on seven carries) took advantage of a good matchup against the Browns and now has two big games in a row. Mariota owners (or his would-be owners) should be looking for more on the horizon: he has a string of easy opponents lined up the next five weeks, and the Titans have unleashed him as part of the ground attack, with 134 yards in his last two games. For perspective, Mariota’s 64 rushing yards on Sunday, in fantasy scoring, are the equivalent of either a touchdown or 150 yards passing.

— Terrance West (123 total yards and two touchdowns) looks to be very much for real. Kenneth Dixon (12 total yards) may have his day, but it’s probably not coming any time soon.

— Frank Gore has 75 yards rushing or a touchdown in all but one of his six games this season. He ran for a season-high 106 yards on Sunday and could be the most underrated player in fantasy football.

— The Jaguars came off their bye and promptly featured Marqise Lee (six receptions, 61 yards) and Arrelious Benn (51 yards, the team’s only receiving touchdown). Despite three games with double-digit targets, Allen Robinson has just one game with more than 55 receiving yards this season. Lee, meanwhile, has at least six targets in his last four games.

— Owned in 17 percent of leagues, Kenny Britt (seven receptions, 136 yards, two touchdowns), has 75 or more receiving yards in four of his last five games. His next five games feature favorable matchups.


The Panthers and Cowboys are on bye in Week 7. The Giants and Rams play in London.

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