Pickups of the Week: Ito Smith, Marlon Mack, Taylor Gabriel demand fantasy attention

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Ito Smith is a TD machine, in line for significant workload spike

Another week, another touchdown for Ito Smith. He’s visited the end-zone in each of Atlanta’s last three games, emerging as a preferred goal-line option for an excellent offense. Smith is an elusive, powerful runner who’s established a legit role for the Falcons. He’ll have a secure role for the foreseeable future, too, because Devonta Freeman is headed for injured reserve.

Smith produced back-to-back 1400-yard rushing seasons at Southern Mississippi and he caught at least 40 balls in three straight years. He’s an all-situation back, likely to share a workload with Tevin Coleman. Bid aggressively. Smith is available in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this writing, but he’ll be flying off the fantasy shelves this week.

Schedule, next three weeks: NYG, bye, at Was

FAAB bid: $26

Ito Smith has been a force at the goal-line and he can now expect to see consistent touches. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Ito Smith has been a force at the goal-line and he can now expect to see consistent touches. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Marlon Mack reclaims the lead role in Colts backfield

If one of your primary fantasy goals for this season is to spend absolutely no time evaluating Indy’s backfield depth chart … well, we get it. Perhaps this crew of running backs is not, in fact, a fantasy goldmine. With six games now in the books, the Colts have rushed for only one touchdown. This is not ideal.

But it’s worth noting that Marlon Mack finally resurfaced in Week 6 after missing his team’s prior three games due to hamstring issues. Mack carried the ball 12 times for 89 yards against the Jets on Sunday, adding one catch for four yards on two targets. He was out-snapped slightly by Nyheim Hines, but he got the start and saw more opportunities (14 to 6). Moving forward, Mack is pretty clearly the head of this backfield committee. He has a pair of friendly matchups on deck (see below), and it’s reasonable to expect him to see 15 or more touches per game. Add wherever you can use a backfield boost.

Schedule, next three weeks: Buf, at Oak, bye

FAAB bid ($100 budget): $19

Marlon Mack is atop the Indianapolis backfield hierarchy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marlon Mack is atop the Indianapolis backfield hierarchy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Father time was undefeated, until he met Frank Gore

Gore’s first 100-yard rushing performance as a pro occurred on January 1, 2006. His most recent triple-digit game happened yesterday, in the sixth game of his fourteenth NFL season. He is simply ridiculous. Gore converted 15 carries into 101 yards against the Bears, plus he gained 18 yards on one reception. The man is 35 years old, yet still fantasy relevant. Incredible. Kenyan Drake saw one more touch than Gore on Sunday (17 to 16), but this is clearly a committee arrangement. Miami has a matchup on deck with Detroit’s defense, a unit that’s allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing running backs. (Isaiah Crowell and Matt Breida both roasted the Lions run defense, you might recall.) Gore is a respectable RB2/flex option in Week 7.

Schedule, next three weeks: Det, at Hou, NYJ

FAAB bid: $9

Baker Mayfield’s upcoming schedule is fantastically friendly

Mayfield didn’t exactly produce a quarterbacking clinic in Week 6, as he tossed a pair of picks and averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt. But he’s already demonstrated that he and his receiving corps are talented enough to deliver quality numbers when given a friendly matchup. Over the next four weeks, Mayfield will face four of the league’s bottom-six pass defenses. It’s an absurd scheduling quirk that QB streamers need to embrace. The fun starts in Week 7, when Cleveland travels to Tampa Bay to face a team allowing 355.6 passing yards per game and 9.3 per attempt.

Schedule, next three weeks: at TB, at Pit, KC

FAAB bid: $5

Baker Mayfield is about to face the easiest imaginable four-game stretch, which makes him plenty appealing in our game. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Baker Mayfield is about to face the easiest imaginable four-game stretch, which makes him plenty appealing in our game. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

WHY IS TAYLOR GABRIEL STILL ELIGIBLE FOR THE PICKUPS COLUMN? WHY?!

Seriously, Gabriel is almost certainly going to set a record for most appearances in Pickups of the Week. This is crazy, people. In a 12-team fantasy league, it’s hardly possible that no one can possibly use Gabriel. He’s on pace for 86 receptions, 970 yards and six TDs. Gabriel has delivered back-to-back 100-yard performances and he hasn’t seen fewer than five targets in any week. He gave us a catch-of-the-day candidate on Sunday…

…which should not have surprised anyone. He’s been terrific all year. Go get him, gamers.

Schedule: NE, NYJ, at Buf

FAAB bid: $9

Chris Godwin continues to deliver, remains weirdly available in fantasy

This is starting to look a bit like the Gabriel situation. Godwin has found the end-zone in four of his five games this season, and he was targeted nine times on Sunday. Curiously, he’s still available in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues. At this point, Godwin looks like a strong candidate to finish with a 70-800-8 season (or better). He’s been a do-it-all receiver for the Bucs, with at least five catches in three of his last four games. It seems clear that Tampa will be involved in weekly shootouts, because this team’s defense hasn’t yet stopped anyone.

Schedule, next three weeks: Cle, at Cin, at Car

FAAB bid: $11

Buffalo has its problems, but the defense hasn’t been a disaster

The Bills’ D has produced double-digit fantasy points in three of the past four weeks, while facing a series of respectable opponents (Min, GB, Ten, Hou). This defense noe ranks third in total yards allowed per game and sixth against the pass. Andrew Luck is up next for Buffalo, and he’s already tossed eight picks this season, including five over his last two games.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Ind, NE, Chi

FAAB bid: $1

Also recommended: QB Mitchell Trubisky, Chi, QB Joe Flacco, Bal, RB Latavius Murray, Min, RB Raheem Mostert, SF, RB Darren Sproles, Phi, WR Albert Wilson, Mia, WR Chester Rogers, Ind, WR Terrelle Pryor, NYJ, WR Jermaine Kearse, NYJ, TE C.J. Uzomah, Cin, TE Benjamin Watson, NO, DEF Denver Broncos

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