Brian Hoyer may very well be the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Just when all hope seemed to be lost with this Browns offense, Hoyer has stepped in and has not only played well, but has also positively impacted the fantasy values of both Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. In two games with Hoyer under center, Cameron has caught 16 balls on a whopping 23 targets, while Gordon has been targeted 28 times. Both players are the most targeted guys out of any position over the last two weeks. Insanity. Hoyer, meanwhile, has been posting solid numbers himself, tossing five touchdowns and three interceptions in two starts. He looked very strong against a very stout Cincinnati defense on Sunday afternoon, and considering the volume (92 attempts over last two weeks, most in football during that span), he legitimately has top-fifteen quarterback upside.
Yes, Hoyer of all people. If you predicted Hoyer to be this productive (if play at all), you, sir, are a liar.
So, with Hoyer playing at a very high level, and other quarterbacks having been let downs through the first four weeks, many fantasy owners are seriously contemplating sliding Hoyer into their starting lineups this week. It’s an interesting scenario, as it’s a favorable matchup against a Buffalo defense that has been playing inspired football, but is still filled with injury. However, it’s one of those dreaded Thursday night contests, which tend to force fantasy owners away from starting anyone who isn’t a stud. Discounting that other-worldly seven-touchdown performance from Peyton Manning (which wasn’t an actual Thursday night game), not one quarterback has scored 20 fantasy points this season. In 2012? Only six managed to accomplish that feat. It’s not just a myth, folks.
Thursday night games truly are the fantasy devil.
Salvatore Stefanile took an extensive look at the Thursday night theory, and dug up some intriguing numbers. In 2011, only one signal caller to play on Thursday night finished the week as a top-10 fantasy quarterback (Carson Palmer), in 2010, seven did and in 2009, Peyton Manning was the only one to accomplish that feat. If over the years, and even this year with guys like Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick have struggled on Thursday night, it would be foolish to automatically assume that Hoyer is a safe play, despite having a favorable matchup. The Bills defense, while banged up, has played very well this season. They forced five Joe Flacco interceptions on Sunday, and currently rank seventh in the league in sacks (13) and first in the league in interceptions (9). Like I said before, without guys such as Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin in that secondary, Buffalo has been playing some inspired defense.
Basically what I’m saying is, don’t fall in love with matchups. In fantasy, there are often many different variables that need to be considered, and as crazy as it sounds, the fact that this game is on Thursday night is a factor. History tells us that Thursday nights aren’t very kind to fantasy quarterbacks. If you are in a two-quarterback league, I am perfectly fine with Hoyer as your second option. There’s not much risk in that regard. However, to start him over much proven, more talented guys would be foolish.
Tread carefully, Hoyer fans.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.