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Start ‘em/Sit ‘em
By Jon Stulberg
Welcome to your weekly start or sit column. Before we proceed, let me tell you that this article is NOT here to state the obvious. I will not ever recommend you start Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham. The fact is you should like your fantasy football live under the following mantra: START YOUR STUDS!! If you need me to tell you to start your studs, you need a lot more help than this column will provide.
There may be some rare occasions where I might possibly suggest you sit a top-level player simply based on the match up. I’ve done similar things in the past for WR’s scheduled to be on Revis Island. That all being said, if you don’t see your player named on the start list, that doesn’t mean it’s a suggestion you sit him. If you don’t see your player named on the sit list, that doesn’t mean you should start him. For any lineup questions you should visit the FFLockerroom forums and one of our staff of experts will address your specific question. With all that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Michael Vick (vs. SD) – Now that we’ve seen what a Chip Kelly offense can do, it’s time to start becoming a believer. If you watched the first half Sunday night and didn’t think Vick looked great than we watched different games. This week he draws a San Diego defense that just gave up 346 yards and three touchdowns to Matt Schaub. Look for Kelly and Vick to put on a show in their first home game of the season.
Carson Palmer (vs. DET) – Last week I was wrong on Palmer by putting him on the sit list. This week he makes the big jump to the start list. It seems Palmer is going to air it out a good 35-40 times a week which automatically makes him a solid start in most leagues. Detroit is away from home and on the grass so their turf advantage is gone. While Detroit shut down Minnesota last week, Palmer is better than Ponder and the combination of Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd surely surpasses what the Vikings threw out there. I’m thinking at least 280 yards and two scores this week.
Robert Griffin III (at GB) – Watching the Sunday night game Griffin looked tentative and rusty. Then when the final gun went off I realized he still had 20+ fantasy points no matter what your scoring system was. This week he gets the team that just made Colin Kaepernick a Hall of Famer. While I don’t expect Griffin to repeat what Kaepernick did, I definitely expect some big numbers. The only fear is the Skins better find a way to keep Clay Matthews off Griffin (and away from his knee).
Terrelle Pryor (vs. JAX) – I feel dirty doing this but Pryor looked pretty solid last week. This week he draws a team in shambles in the Jaguars. Hell, they even let Alex Smith have a decent day. Add what Pryor can do with his legs and you’re likely looking at a really solid day. Based on some of the matchups for other quarterbacks, Pryor’s a pretty good grab and go option this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (at CIN) – Last week I expected good things from Big Ben because I figured without a running game he’d air it out. Well, without an offensive line, that’s tough to do. To make matters worse, center Mike Pouncy is done for the year. This week he draws a tough Cincinnati defense. Last year Roethlisberger averaged less than 250 yards per game against the Bengals. Combined he had two touchdowns and three interceptions. Not a recipe for success.
Joe Flacco (vs CLE) – While this seems like an odd recommendation the Browns defense isn’t as bad as you think. In his last five contests against the Browns, Flacco has only one game above 20 fantasy points. Add to that the fact that the Ravens have talked about getting more involved in the run game this week and you should see Flacco take a step back from last week. It could be a big step back considering he won’t throw 60+ times again.
Jay Cutler (vs. MIN) – Two weeks in a row on the sit list? I have to admit, I was slightly impressed with how Cutler spread the ball last week but now we’re talking about a tougher opponent. Last year Cutler threw three interceptions versus only two touchdowns against the Vikings. After what Christian Ponder did last week, look for a big workload for Adrian Peterson which means a lot of clock killing. The longer Minnesota is on the field, the less chances Cutler has to score.
Darren McFadden (vs. JAX) – It’s simple, as long as he’s healthy (which is rarely ever) you start McFadden. This week he tops the list simply because he’ll get to kill the lowly Jaguars. Jamaal Charles averaged almost five yards per carry last week so I’m looking for 100+ from McFadden this week. As long as Reece doesn’t vulture a goal line score, he should probably hit paydirt too. Start him with confidence.
David Wilson (vs. DEN) – Bet you expected to find him on the sit list didn’t you? Well with Andre Brown out and Da’Rel Scott banged up the Giants need Wilson big time. If they don’t control the ball they might be looking at another seven Peyton Manning touchdowns. Opportunity usually breeds success. Don’t give up on Wilson after one bad week.
DeAngelo Williams (at BUF) – Last week I was really shocked at how good Williams looked. Against an incredibly tough Seattle defense he had a combined 100 yard day. This week he faces a Bills defense that let Shane Vereen run wild on them all with a cracked bone in his wrist. A healthy Williams should be able to do some damage against this squad.
Daryl Richardson (at ATL) – I don’t think I need to even mention Steven Jackson as an obvious start this week since he’s facing his former team in St. Louis. It goes without saying that you start him. However, I think Richardson will be running with a chip on his shoulders as well this week trying to prove to Jackson and the Rams that they made the right call. Combine that with the fact the Rams will want to control the clock to keep the high powered Atlanta offense off the field and Richardson should be a good start. Keep your eye on the injury report though as he’s dealing with a foot injury. Elevate Isaaih Pead if Richardson is out.
Frank Gore (at SEA) – Gore had a nice final fantasy line last week but he didn’t find many running lanes and his per carry average showed it. This week he draws an incredibly tough Seattle defense that has allowed Gore to score only one touchdown over their last six meetings. In a PPR league I’d still roll with Gore as he’ll likely be active in the passing game but if I’m deep at running back Gore is one I might sit this week.
Lamar Miller (at IND) – On paper this is a good matchup for Miller but games aren’t played on paper. Last week the Colts held Darren McFadden to less than 3-yards per carry and I don’t think anyone would say Miller is at McFadden’s level. Many are still hoping for big things from Miller but I’d probably make him show me something before I trusted him in my lineup.
Giovani Bernard (vs.PIT) – This one falls in line with the Miller sit above. I think Bernard is easily the most talented runner in Cincinnati but for some reason they keep feeding the ball to the Law Firm. Last week Pittsburgh held Chris Johnson to just 70 yards on 25 carries so a time split against that type of defense isn’t going to help. I’m high on Bernard long term but make him show you something first.
Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. MIA) – Last week Vick Ballard saw more touches than Bradshaw. We’ve heard the coach-speak this week about them wanting to get that ratio back to 50-50. Well, prove it first. No way I’m starting Bradshaw against a defense that just held Trent Richardson to under 80 total yards.
Steve Smith (at BUF) – In a touch matchup against Seattle last week Smith still caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. This week he gets a much easier test against the Bills. The Patriots, without a receiver with Smith’s breakaway ability, had an awfully big day against this Bills secondary and now they’re even more banged up. Look for a big day from Smith.
Mike Wallace (at IND) – Last week Wallace was a sit because of Joe Haden. This week he’s a start because let’s be honest, the Dolphins didn’t pay him all that money to be a decoy. What’s more is that Wallace’s speed is accentuated on the carpet. He should look exceptionally fast and I expect him to get behind the coverage once for a long score. Add the potential quick screen that turns into a long score and it could be banner day for Wallace.
Andre Roberts (vs. DET) – Roberts enjoyed a terrific debut with Palmer last week and I expect him to continue that success this week against Detroit. Palmer will likely throw 40+ times just about every week and this week should be no exception. Roberts proved that he has a good rapport right off the bat with Palmer and he was all over the field last week. The versatility is tough to defend and he should have plenty of single coverage as Detroit looks to slow down Larry Fitzgerald.
Leonard Hankerson (at GB) – Last week the Packers gave up over 400 yards through the air. This week I expect the Redskins have seen that tape and realize they too can take advantage of the soft spots in the Packers defense. Coming off an impressive Week 1 I expect Hankerson to remain an important part of the Skins passing attack. Other than Pierre Garcon there really isn’t anyone to take the touches away from him.
Anquan Boldin (at SEA) – I know, you’re not really going to sit him after he went over 200 yards last week but I think you should drastically lower your expectations. This week Boldin will likely be shadowed by the 6’3” Richard Sherman. The same player that Profootball Focus rated as the top cover corner in all of the NFL last year (by a wide margin). Boldin is likely more like a WR3 this week.
Roddy White (at ATL) – White is a stud but he’s just not healthy right now. Last week he tweeted this “As far as fantasy if I don’t participate in practice than don’t start me it’s a red flag.” Thanks for the tip Roddy. This week he should ride the pine unless he puts in a full practice Friday.
Greg Jennings (at CHI) – I’m guessing Jennings already misses Aaron Rodgers. If you missed our Google Hangout (now available on YouTube) then you missed how much I hate Christian Ponder. He stinks on ice. In his last five games against Chicago Jennings has scored one touchdown. And I’ll repeat, that was with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Make Jennings prove he’s part of the offense first.
Steve Johnson (vs. CAR) – Two weeks in a row for Johnson here. Last week he caught only 3 passes for 39 yards but at least salvaged the day for some fantasy owners by scoring a touchdown. The Panthers defense will be a much tougher test this week as they did a darn good job holding down the receivers in Seattle last week. Doug Marrone is still a run first coach.
Julius Thomas (at NYG) – This one is simple. The Giants pass defense stinks. Their linebackers stink. They couldn’t stop Jason Witten last week when they KNEW the ball was going to him. This week they have Demarius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker to worry about. Thomas, who Manning has said he loves, should be open all day long.
Brandon Myers (vs. DEN) – This game looks to be a shootout as the two Manning brothers look to one-up eachother. I don’t expect the Giants to have much success stopping Peyton so that leaves little brother Eli passing all day long. With 50+ pass attempts there should be more than enough for Myers to exploit the middle of the field. The tight end is always a big part of an Eli Manning passing attack.
Dallas Clark (vs. CLE) – Don’t be fooled by last week’s stat line. Dallas Clark was awful. He’s old, slow, has poor hands, missed assignments and I don’t expect Joe Flacco to throw the ball 62 times again. There simply has to be better options out there for you.
Antonio Gates (at PHI) – Name value only goes so far. Gates is a shell of the player he once was. He might have a good game here and there but he’s not a TE1 anymore. The Eagles did a very solid job against tight ends in 2012 and they carried that over by holding Fred Davis to two catches last week. I’m not trusting Gates.
Panthers (at BUF) – They held a Russell Wilson led offense to 12 points last week. This week they get a quarterback with one NFL game under his belt. Luke Kuechly is going to spy EJ Manuel and stuff the running game as well. It could get ugly in Buffalo.
Eagles (vs. SD) – I’m not a big Phillip Rivers fan and despite last week’s 28 points, I’m not expecting much from the San Diego offense. The Eagles looked great in the first half against Washington and Rivers isn’t as mobile as RGIII when Griffin is asleep. West Coast team with early start on the East Coast is usually a good thing for the defense.
Chiefs (vs. DAL) – The Chiefs looked awfull good last week but that was against the woeful Jaguars. This week they draw the Dallas Cowboys. There’s simply too many weapons between Murray, Bryant, Witten and Austin for the Chiefs to stop them. If you’re streaming defenses, I’d go Carolina or Philly over the Chiefs this week.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.