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.
Sam Bradford (at DAL) – In the first two games of the season, Bradford is averaging over 325 yards passing and 2.5 TDs per game. Sounds like elite numbers to me. In fact, in most standard scoring systems, Bradford is around the 5th or 6th best QB through two weeks. Things don’t get tougher with Dallas on tap as they just let Alex Smith have a solid game. Any defense that let’s Alex Smith be a fantasy worthy QB is a defense I don’t mind starting against.
Carson Palmer (at NO) – As we’ve said on our preview show before, Carson Palmer is the king of the garbage time points. Against a high-powered offense like the Saints, Palmer will be forced to throw early and often. Opportunity usually means stats, especially against a defense that isn’t imposing. If Larry Fitzgerald is healthy enough to play Palmer is an above average start this week.
Andy Dalton (vs. GB) – This recommendation falls right in line with the one I just made above. The Green Bay offense is known to light up the scoreboard so Dalton will be forced to throw in order the keep up. With a stud like AJ Green on the outside, two solid TE’s in Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and the emerging Giovani Bernard for safety dump offs out of the backfield, look for Dalton to put up some solid numbers.
Cam Newton (vs. NYG) – Let’s face it. At this point the Giants are a mess. They haven’t had a secondary to be worried about in years and their line backing corp. is a disaster. Between Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, Newton has enough to do some serious damage. The Giants have yet to generate a pass rush so Newton could have all day to throw. If they Giants sell out on the blitz, look for Newton to give you points with his legs too.
Andrew Luck (at SF) – Don’t get me wrong, I like Luck as a quarterback and I think between Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener he has some decent weapons at his disposal. However, playing against an extremely stout defense like the 49ers, in San Francisco, and I think I’m looking for other options. He probably won’t be a complete disaster but my guess is at least three of the above-mentioned Start ‘em quarterbacks will do better.
Terrelle Pryor (at DEN) – Sorry folks, still not sold on Pryor as a fantasy talent. I need to see more than some legwork before I get all amped up on him. He doesn’t have many weapons in the passing game and he’s facing a very tough Broncos defense that just gave two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning fits. Add the high altitude and Pryor is someone I’m staying away from this week.
Tom Brady (vs. TB) – He’s one of the best quarterbacks of our generation but with too many rookies in the passing game we haven’t seen much from Brady this year. His only real connection is with Julian Edelman and it’s quite possible he gets man coverage from Darrelle Revis this week. Revis Island is not a good place to be. It takes guts to sit Brady, but this could be a good week for it.
Joique Bell (at WAS) – As of this writing Reggie Bush is only a 50-50 proposition to play this week. Even with Bush in the lineup Bell has been an extremely valuable performer, especially in PPR leagues. The Redskins defense has given the ole treatment to opposing offenses so Bell is a recommended start even if Bush plays. If Reggie is out, Bell could put up stud stats.
Alfred Morris (vs. DET) – I love starting running backs when they have a coach who’s not afraid to just give them the ball. Even with the big early deficits, Morris has been a pretty solid performer. This week I think the Redskins make it a point to get him the ball early in order to keep their defense off the field. Add the fact there’s talk of more running from Robert Griffin and I think we’ll see a more dynamic offense from the Skins this week. That was successful for Griffin last year so ride it out.
Giovani Bernard (vs. GB) – It’s pretty simple. When Benjarvis Green-Ellis runs the ball, the Bengals offense looks like it’s trudging through the mud. When Bernard touches it, you have to ask if you’re watching a high-speed replay or if it’s live. He’s an exciting rookie who’s just being eased into the offense. This week he gets a much bigger look, especially in the passing game.
Bernard Pierce (vs. HOU) – At this point Ray Rice is a game time decision. In my opinion, when you have a back up as capable as Pierce, there’s simply no reason to rush Rice back. Houston’s defense might seem tough on paper but Ryan Matthews had a solid Week 1 and Chris Johnson ran for 96 last week. If Rice is out, Pierce is a borderline RB1 in PPR leagues and he’s definitely a RB2 no matter what format.
Ray Rice (vs. HOU) – Following along the lines of the Pierce recommendation, I’d sit Rice. Even if it’s announced on Sunday that he’s going to go, there’s no reason to take that risk. He could have an early carry and aggravate the hip. The Ravens could fall behind and not want to risk a Rice injury and pull him. If you’re not assured of a full complement of touches, why run the risk?
Ahmad Bradshaw (at SF) – I have to say, I had Bradshaw all slated for this list even before the big trade that netted Trent Richardson. At this point, it appears Richardson is going to suit up for Indianapolis this Sunday. That kills Bradshaw. Even if T-Rich somehow doesn’t play or is going to split time because he’s not familiar with the playbook, there’s no chance of me starting Bradshaw when he’s facing Patrick Willis and the 49ers. I’ll even add that I recommend sitting Trent Richardson as well.
Maurice Jones-Drew (at SEA) – I think if Jones-Drew was firmly in his prime and Jacksonville had an All-Pro quarterback, I’d be recommending him for the sit list this week against the leagues best defense in the toughest stadium to play. Now that Jones-Drew has “looseness” in his ankle and zero offensive support, you could be looking at single-digit fantasy points that you can count on one hand. Yikes.
Ryan Matthews (at TEN) – So I recommended Woodhead in Week 1 and he was a dud. Then all of a sudden the Chargers got wise and moved him ahead of Ronnie Brown and Week 2 was a PPR dream. It’s been a long time (11 games) since Matthews found the end zone and if he fumbles early or the Chargers fall behind, it’ll be Woodhead in there and not Matthews. This week, I look elsewhere.
Jordy Nelson (at CIN) – Aaron Rodgers rarely has a bad week for his fantasy owners so that means some wide receiver is going to be the beneficiary. My guess is, that Bengals will give Randall Cobb lots of attention and when choosing between James Jones and Jordy Nelson, I’m going with Nelson this week. He’s big, has good hands, isn’t afraid to go over the middle and is a big red zone target for Rodgers. Cincinnati has a tough defense but I’m comfortable with Nelson this week.
Anquan Boldin (vs. IND) – He’s not going to catch 13 passes in a game too often but he’s also not going to catch just 1 very much either. Indianapolis doesn’t have two corners that if you morph them into one, would be nearly as good as Seattle’s Richard Sherman. Back home against a forgiving defense, look for Colin Kaepernick and Boldin to rekindle their love affair. Hell, even Mike Wallace lit up the Colts last week.
Pierre Garcon (vs. DET) – Washington seems to always fall behind which means lots of work for Garcon. He was targeted 13 times last week and 24 times total on the season. Against a high-scoring offense like the Lions, the Redskins will have to stay with them and that means lots of targets for Garcon.
DeAndre Hopkins (at BAL) – After Andre Johnson was injured last week, Hopkins took the team on his back and carried them to a win. Johnson passed his concussion tests and will play on Sunday but that’s still good news for Hopkins. Johnson will draw the attention and may even be a decoy since the Texans may not want to risk another concussion. Baltimore has been lit up in the passing game this season and the Texans rush attack hasn’t been the focal point. Hopkins could do it again.
Brandon Marshall (at PIT) – It’s rare that you’d sit an elite receiver. It’s rarer in a PPR format. This week Marshall gets to face Ike Taylor of the Steelers. Now Taylor isn’t Richard Sherman but he’s been known to play the shutdown role from time to time. Last week he did a damn good job on AJ Green and Marshall is pretty much the same type of receiver. I don’t expect a goose egg or anything but I’m not sure Marshall puts up his usual 8-100-1 line.
Julian Edelman (vs. TB) – Tom Brady has nobody but Edelman to throw to and he might be sitting on Revis Island all game. In PPR formats, I’d probably still roll with Edelman. Wes Welker usually did pretty well against Revis but Edelman is just Welker-lite. He might get some points underneath but I don’t think it’s going to be a big week for him.
Vincent Jackson (at NE) – Right now the Tampa Bay offense is a mess. There’s talk that Josh Freeman has requested a trade (which he denied) and they simply haven’t been putting up the points even though they have their fare share of weapons on offense. Bill Belichick usually makes it a point to try to shut down a team’s biggest weapon and in my eyes, that’s V-Jax. Shouldn’t be a big game for him this week.
Cecil Shorts (at SEA) – Shorts was everyone’s PPR darling coming into the season but I never had much faith in this Jacksonville offense and Blaine Gabbert in particular. The good news is no Gabbert. The bad news is Richard Sherman. If he can hold Anquan Boldin to 1 catch, he might just shut out Shorts. I simply can’t recommend anyone when playing in Seattle.
Cameron Jordan (at MIN) – At this point Jordan is an every week start recommendation but judging from the numbers, there are still some non-believers. The trade of Trent Richardson makes Cleveland a pretty one-dimensional offense. More pass attempts is only going to help Jordan. This is also a Vikings defense that just got toasted by Martellus Bennett last week so clearly they have their issues stopping opposing tight ends.
Jared Cook (at DAL) – If I’m recommending Bradford, I’m all-in on Cook this week. Freed from the chains in Tennessee, Cook is a huge part of the offense in St. Louis and I think Bradford and Tony Romo put on an air-show this week. Cook is likely in line for some wide receiver type numbers and I’d start him without reservation.
Fred Davis (vs. DET) – In two games Davis has all of 3 catches for 25 yards. Yes, that’s even with all the gaudy passing stats RGIII has put up trying to play catch up. It seems that when the Skins fall behind, they look to their wide receivers and rookie tight end Jordan Reed. Selected as the tight end of the future, it appears that the future is now for Mr. Reed. Sit Davis.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. CLE) – Rudolph is off to a slow start this year and it seems his value is completely dependant upon the touchdown. Since the Vikings are playing a Cleveland team that has given up on the season after only two weeks and simply doesn’t have the weapons to stay with the Vikings, there’s probably not much reason for Ponder to throw it when in the red zone. Simply turn around and give the ball to Adrian Peterson. Could be a soft week for Rudolph.
Vikings (vs. CLE) – I had the Vikings slated for this spot even before Cleveland dumped Trent Richardson. Now with Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey in the backfield and Brian Hoyer at quarterback, I’m loving the Vikings this week for a spot start.
Patriots (vs. TB) – I was high on the Patriots defense coming into the season and have been a bit disappointed by them thus far. I think this week they get back on track against a Tampa Bay team struggling to find their identity. There’s a lot of turmoil with the Bucs and I think that’s exactly the type of team Belichick will take advantage of.
Bengals (vs. GB) – Rodgers is one of the most sack-able quarterbacks in the league but he doesn’t throw many balls to your guys. Add the fact that you’re not going to get any bonus points for keeping the score down (Green Bay will score) and you’re not going to get any points for holding them under 300 total yards (Rodgers will throw for that alone) and I think there are better streaming options out there.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.