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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.
Tony Romo (at SD) – No team has allowed more points to opposing QBs than the Chargers. Each week they’ve given up 300+ which includes the 428 that Michael Vick hung on them. Hell, even Jake Locker lit up this defense. It’s not the playoffs so there’s no Romo choke factor to worry about. Tony should light up this defense.
Alex Smith (vs. NYG) – As a Giants fan it pains me to make this recommendation but quite frankly, they stink. Captain checkdown should find the middle of the field wide open all day for Donnie Avery and Jamal Charles out of the backfield. If you’re an Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton owner and you don’t already have a serviceable backup, Smith could be a decent (and cheap) plug and play option.
Joe Flacco (at BUF) – The Bills have yet to prevent an opposing quarterback from throwing at least 2 touchdowns against them this year. Just last week rookie Geno Smith put up some outstanding numbers against a secondary that couldn’t come close to stopping even Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. The Bills are already short handed in the secondary and could be without Leodis McKelvin this week. I’m thinking 250 and 2 should be easy for Joe.
Ben Roethlisberger (at MIN) – Heath Miller returned to the field and Big Ben had a good day. Coincidence? Maybe. The good news was Roethlisberger finally realized that Antonio Brown was his most talented pass catcher so he force-fed him the ball. This week, he faces a Minnesota defense that has allowed at least 290 passing yards to every opposing quarterback. The potential return of Le’veon Bell should only help Big Ben as it gives the Steelers another part of the offense for opposing defenses to worry about.
Matt Schaub (vs. SEA) – A match up with the best defense in football is never a good thing. It’s even worse when your All-World wide receiver is nursing an injury where he hasn’t practiced all week and is a game time decision for Sunday. Richard Sherman shuts down fully healthy studs so he’ll probably have his way with a banged up Andre Johnson. Seattle has already shut down Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick so I’d be very hesitant to start the lesser Matt Schaub here.
Russell Wilson (at HOU) – This game has defensive showdown written all over it. Houston has been incredibly stout against the pass this year. They are second only to Seattle in terms of stinginess to opposing quarterbacks. This is a tough opponent on the road. I’d be much more comfortable with Wilson here in Seattle. Wilson could surprise us, especially using his legs for points, but if I had other options, I’d definitely consider it.
Philip Rivers (vs. DAL) – I’m simply not a Rivers fan. His weak arm and dink and dunk style just don’t thrill me. Dallas is coming off a game where they ripped apart the Rams offensive line and sacked Sam Bradford six times. I think last week where Rivers struggled against Tennessee is more who he is than the guy who exploded in Weeks 1 & 2. Sorry, not buying in on Phillip.
Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. IND) – It’s been a terrible season for MJD but the good news is he played last week and made it through the game without a setback. This week he gets an Indianapolis defense that has allowed a rushing touchdown in every game thus far. He’s also had a very good history against the Colts. I’m not loving the return of Blaine Gabbert but that could mean they simply lean more heavily on MJD. He’s worth a shot this week.
Brandon Bolden (at ATL) – Bolden took the Shane Vereen role in the Patriots offense last week and shined. He rushed for 51 yards (on only 3 carries) and caught 5 passes for another 49 yards. As long as Stevan Ridley continues to be a ho-hum fantasy option, the Patriots will continue to use someone else as a complementary player. As we saw in Week 1, Head Coach Bill Belichick isn’t against sitting Ridley and riding the hot hand. Could be another solid week for Bolden.
Danny Woodhead (vs. DAL) – This is more a recommendation in PPR leagues but Woodhead has clearly supplanted Ronnie Brown as the back up to Ryan Matthews. In addition, he’s the true third down and two-minute drill option. Since I’ve recommended you start Romo and sit Rivers, I’m guessing that the Chargers will be trailing for most of the game. That means a lot of Woodhead and many check-down passes. He has 15 receptions in his last two games. Good week for Woodhead.
Bernard Pierce (at BUF) – Ray Rice returned to some limited practice but even if he plays, I’d ride Pierce again this week. The Bills have the 30th ranked rush defense and they just let Bilal Powell run all over them. Let me repeat, Bilal Powell. The Ravens love to run the ball so look for them to exploit this weakness in the Bills defense.
Rashard Mendenhall (at TB) – So far the Buccaneers defense has done quite well against the run. No running back has topped 65 yards rushing and zero have found the end zone. Mendenhall only had 9 carries last week as he’s clearly sharing the load with Andre Ellington and Alfonso Smith. Has the coaching staff soured on him already or is his toe still bothering him? Regardless of the answer, he hasn’t been effective so don’t play him until he shows you something.
David Wilson (at KC ) – At 3-0 it just might be time to start believing in the Chiefs. At 0-3, it’s getting close to the time to stop believing in the Giants. Eli Manning and company are a complete mess right now. The offensive line more closely resembles a subway turnstile than a group designed to protect the quarterback. Arrowhead Stadium is a very difficult place to play and I suspect the Giants will struggle there as well. The days of the ground and pound are gone. If the Giants are going to do anything, it’ll be on Eli, not the running game.
Arian Foster (vs. SEA) – Thus far this season Foster is far from the first round pick you thought you had. He’s sharing time with Ben Tate and quite frankly, Tate has looked like the more talented back. It could be that Foster is just getting into shape after missing most of camp and that his day is coming soon. Don’t bet on it coming against the very tough Seattle defense.
Ryan Matthews (vs. DAL) – Well, if I’m suggesting Dallas will jump out to an early lead, that Rivers is going to have a bad day and that Danny Woodhead is a good start, clearly I’m telling you to sit Ryan Matthews. I don’t think I really need to say anything more.
Julian Edelman (at ATL) – The Falcons defense is falling apart due to injuries. Five receivers have reached double digit fantasy points against the Falcons this year and I think Edelman makes it six. Brady is starting to get in tune with his rookies which will make him very difficult to stop. If the defense can’t focus on Edelman, he’ll kill you in the slot. No teams allows more points to slot receivers than the Falcons.
Antonio Brown (at MIN) – Finally, Big Ben found his most valuable weapon. Look for that trend to continue this week. Josh Gordon and Brandon Marshall each went over 100 yards against the Vikings and I expect Brown to follow suit. The addition of Heath Miller makes this Steelers offense more complete and harder to stop.
Denarius Moore (vs. WAS) – This one is easy. Start everyone against the Redskins. Hell, Nate Burleson had a solid game against them last week. Even if Terrelle Pryor sits and noodle arm Matt Flynn starts I still like Moore to lead the team in targets. His after the catch speed, as he showed against Denver, makes him a threat to take it to the house each time.
Donnie Avery (vs. NYG) – The damn Giants stink. Their secondary is atrocious. If they are going to game plan to stop anyone, it’s going to be Dwayne Bowe. That means Avery is going to be able to run free underneath all day, just like he did last week. The Giants simply don’t have anyone that can cover at this point, they don’t have any linebackers to scare Avery in the middle, so I expect another good week.
Andre Johnson (vs. SEA) – Yeah, I’m starting to get a bit predictable. I recommend sitting upper echelon wide receivers against Richard Sherman and Seattle when they are 100% healthy. Johnson hasn’t practiced all week and is questionable to play at this point. If you have other options, use them.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. NYG) – I sort of hinted at this by not mentioning Bowe in the Alex Smith write-up but here’s the official word. Prince Amukamara is probably the only good thing on the Giants defense at this point. He’s shut down each of the #1 wide receivers he’s faced this year and I expect Bowe to make it four. Alex Smith is simply not the type of quarterback to take shots down the field and that’s where Bowe makes his living. Oh well.
Larry Fitzgerald (at TB) – It appears that Fitzgerald is coming along nicely from his hamstring injury. Practicing on a Wednesday is usually a very good sign of health. That being said, Carson Palmer is coming off a horrific outing and this week Darrelle Revis looms. I’m skeptical whether Fitzgerald is really 100% yet and this isn’t a particularly favorable match up for him.
Cecil Shorts (vs. IND) – I know, Shorts killed my sit recommendation last week but I honestly never considered the fact that the Seahawks would actually sit their better defensive players and let the Jags do whatever they wanted. All of Shorts’ stats came in garbage time against back ups. Now Indy’s defense isn’t something to be afraid of but Blaine Gabbert is. He stinks. Shorts will probably still be a worthy start in PPR leagues but Gabbert makes me leery of him in standard formats.
Coby Fleener (at JAX) – With Dwayne Allen done I expect good things from Fleener. Last week was a tough match up against the 49ers. This week the pathetic Jaguars are on the docket. Woohoo for Colts players. Jacksonville may be without safety Dwight Lowery after he suffered a concussion in Week 3. If he’s out Fleener will have the middle of the field all to himself.
Charles Clay (at NO) – I expect the Saints defense to score which means Tannehill and company will be throwing a lot in order to keep up. Clay has been targeted a minimum of six times each game this year and I expect Week 4 will make it seven. While the Saints focus on Wallace and Hartline, Clay is a sneaky start.
Brandon Myers (at KC) – Thus far this year the Chiefs defense has done a solid job against opposing tight ends. They held Jason Witten to 3 catches for 12 yards. If the Giants are going to make some noise against the Chiefs, they are going to have to get the ball into the hands of Hakeem Nicks who has zero catches last week. Cruz is option #1 and I think Nicks will be a focal point this week. That might leave Myers out in the cold.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. PIT) – Big things were expected of Rudolph this year but thus far he’s not being targeted enough to make him worthy of a starting spot. This week they face the Steelers. With Troy Polamalu lurking I don’t like the tight end against this defense. Last week they held Martellus Bennett to two catches. Not a good sign for Rudolph’s potential.
Chiefs (vs. NYG) – Through three games the Chiefs have allowed a grand total of 34 points. The Ravens allowed more in Week 1 against Denver. The Chiefs lead the league in sacks with 15 and now face an offensive line that’s been nothing short of offensive. Eli Manning has thrown 8 interceptions already this year and I imagine he’ll be under constant pressure this week as well. I don’t expect a 38-0 shutout like the Panthers hung on the Giants but the Chiefs should be a solid start this week.
Titans (vs. NYJ) – Thus far I’ve actually been impressed with Jets quarterback Geno Smith. That being said, his rookie moment is coming. Every rookie quarterback has them. The Titans are a formidable defense who unlike Buffalo, won’t allow Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill to run untouched throughout the secondary. I predict this to be Geno Smith’s blowup game.
Patriots (at ATL) – The Patriots defense bounced back pretty well last week but this week presents a greater challenge. Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez present a difficult challenge. The two-headed backfield of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling add some more weapons to the mix. Looking ahead the Patriots have the Bengals and Saints so now might be a good time to drop them for someone else.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.