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.
Fantasy Football Domination – FFLocker Room Late Week Injury Essentials
Michael Vick (at NYG) – It’s a consistent theme in this column that you really need to start your quarterback against the Giants defense. The secondary is abysmal and the pass rush is generating zero pressure. Even if they do get in, Vick’s elusiveness makes him very dangerous. The Giants have yet to allow less than 20 fantasy points to an opposing quarterback and one of them was Alex Smith. Need I say more?
Sam Bradford (vs. JAX) – If Bradford doesn’t perform this week, feel free to drop him. Everyone has lit up the Jaguars this year and I expect this week shouldn’t be much different. With a mess in the backfield, it’ll be on Bradford’s shoulder to lead the Rams to a must win game against what should be an easy opponent. If he can’t muster up 250 yards and two touchdowns than he isn’t roster worthy at all.
Eli Manning (vs. PHI) – The Giants offensive line is a complete mess as David Baas and Chris Snee are going to miss this week’s game. They were terrible with them so why am I recommending Eli? Only the Minnesota Vikings give up more passing yards per game than the Eagles. Add to that the Eagles will probably put up plenty of points on the Giants and you have a game where Eli will throw 55 times or more. Eli has done very well against the Eagles with three 4 TD games in his last five. Even with the offensive line woes, I see big things from Cruz and Nicks this week.
Terrelle Pryor (vs. SD) – Pryor has been cleared for action Sunday and you should get him back into your lineup. The Chargers have yet to hold an opposing quarterback under 20 fantasy points this year and I don’t expect them to buck that trend this week. Philip Rivers should have plenty of success against Oakland’s defense which means Pryor will be active playing keep up.
Joe Flacco (at MIA) – Is it too early for the Ravens to start regretting the contract they gave to Flacco. Against a pathetic Bills defense Flacco managed to throw 5 interceptions. This week poses a true challenge as the Dolphins defense has held down the likes of Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck. Letting Anquan Boldin walk for essentially nothing is really hurting Flacco and this tough road match-up is one I’d avoid.
Russell Wilson (at IND) – If you listened to our Google Hangout this week, you’d have expected this sit recommendation. There were many “experts” pushing the Wilson bandwagon this off season but I wasn’t one of them. Wilson is a much better real quarterback than fantasy option. He’s a game manager who keeps his team involved and somehow gets the win but will often put up uninspiring statistics. If you take out the game against Jacksonville (and come on, I could perform well against them) Wilson has been a dreadful fantasy option. Unless Wilson uses his legs to score, he’s probably going to disappoint.
Matt Schaub (at SF) – Another one of my carry-overs from the show but Schaub is a guy I put on the bench this week. The 49ers defense is extremely tough on opposing quarterbacks and the loss of Aldon Smith hasn’t done anything to change that. Schaub is being torched in the press for his poor decision that cost Houston the game against Seattle and I don’t think he bounces back. In fact, I think he puts too much pressure on himself. Unless Arian Foster has a monster game to alleviate the pressure, this could be a stinker from Schaub.
Eddie Lacy (vs. DET) – I’m getting predictable here but not everyone listens to the Google Hangout show (Tuesday evenings at 8pm ET so you really should listen in) so I’ll keep putting my guys on here. Coming off the bye Lacy has a clean bill of health and he walks right into a great opportunity. James Starks is out and the Lions are one of five teams in the league surrendering more than 5 yards per carry. This is definitely Rodgers’ team but don’t for a minute think he doesn’t know that stat I just mentioned. He’ll get Lacy plenty involved.
Brandon Bolden (at CIN) – Stevan Ridley isn’t practicing as he nurses an injury so most people will recommend LeGarrette Blount. Personally, I think Blount is a boring plodder that merely gets what’s open. I think this is the week he falls flat on his face and Bolden not only gets heavily involved on third downs and in the two-minute drill, but sees early down work as well. Much like Shane Vereen stole Ridley’s thunder in Week 1, I see Bolden potentially doing the same to Blount this week.
Rashad Jennings (vs. SD) – No Darren McFadden and no or limited Marcel Reese means it’s the Rashad Jennings show this weekend. Once touted as a must have handcuff to Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, Jennings has a second chance to show some NFL life. I think this is the week he gets it done. Opportunity usually breeds success, especially against a weak defense.
Giovani Bernard (vs. NE) – Many will predict BenJarvus Green-Ellis to do well against his former team. I go the other way. I think Green-Ellis is a dud and the Bengals realize their best chance to beat the 4-0 Patriots is to use their best weapons. In the backfield, that is unquestionably Bernard. Look for Bernard to be very active in the passing game if Cincy is in comeback mode but I also expect them to use him more for early down work too. No point leaving your talent on the bench. Lay it all out there.
Daryl Richardson (vs. JAX) – What? Sit someone against the Jaguars? Well, when the running back himself tweets that he’s not starting this week, I take that as a bad sign. Failing to average 3 yards a carry is another bad sign. Finally, the Rams have Zac Stacy, Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham who could all end up getting more carries than Richardson.
David Wilson (vs. PHI) – The Eagles aren’t a potent defense and many are saying this is the week for Wilson but I’m just not buying it. I can’t in good conscience tell you to start a guy who’s been one of the biggest fantasy busts on the year. I say show me something first. This game has Eli Manning written all over it, not Giants ground and pound. I may be wrong here, but I’d rather be wrong for the right reasons than right for the wrong ones. Play the percentages.
Chris Johnson (vs. KC) – Johnson was having a terrible year even before he lost Jake Locker and starting tweeting that he doesn’t care about fantasy football? Wait, he doesn’t care about fantasy football? That type of attitude will always ride the bench. Against a Kansas City defense that has only allowed success to LeSean McCoy, Johnson definitely rides the pine.
Jason Snelling (vs. NYJ) – The Falcons have employed the two-headed monster of Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers ever since Steven Jackson went down. In the first game, both players did well. Last week, Snelling was left in the dust. The Jets defense is on tap this week and they’ve stymied the likes of Chris Johnson and CJ Spiller so far this year (yes, so has everyone else) so I expect this to be more of a game for Rodgers again. Don’t expect much from Snelling. If you start him, you’re essentially just hoping a wide receiver gets knocked out of bounds at the 2-yard line and Snelling gets the lucky plunge.
Justin Blackmon (at STL) – As a Blackmon owner I realize this may be a bit of wishful thinking but I’m expecting a very solid output this Sunday. The Jaguars offense has been nothing short of horrific. The Jags are averaging 175 yards passing per game so the addition of their premiere receiver can only help. Now granted, Blackmon was indeed much better with Chad Henne under center last year (someone explain to me why Gabbert still has a job) but I think the Jags do everything in their power to get the ball into the hands of their most dynamic playmaker. Call it a hunch.
James Jones (vs. DET) – It’s easy to recommend an Aaron Rodgers wide receiver but I particularly like Jones in this game. This game has shootout written all over it and the Lions have allowed the likes of Jerome Simpson and Alshon Jeffery to be useful fantasy products against them. With the Lions focusing on Randall Cobb look for Jones to exploit weaknesses all over the field and put up a big day.
Austin Pettis (vs. JAX) – The Jags simply can’t stop anyone and quite frankly I’m not a big Tavon Austin fan. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t start Austin this week too but I’ll always opt for the guy who’s 6’3” and 205 pounds. Pettis was targeted 9 times last week and he could be a big target again this week. The match-up is too favorable to avoid if you’re in need of a bye week replacement receiver.
Jeremy Kerley (vs. ATL) – Geno Smith will be without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill which makes Kerley his #1 option in the passing game. A spotlight game on Monday night football, you know Smith wants to show the world they made a mistake passing on him in the draft. Atlanta’s defense has been decimated by injuries. They only have 7 sacks on the year and give up 301 yards passing per game. Someone has to be the recipient of those passes. My money is on Kerley.
Mike Wallace (vs. BAL) – Since getting torched by Peyton Manning in Week 1 (and who hasn’t he torched) the Ravens defense has crushed opposing quarterbacks. With Wallace, we have a receiver that the Ravens are very familiar with. In fact, they are adept at shutting him down. Last year in two games Wallace had 9 catches for 68 yards. Not quite what you’re looking for. The Ravens will force Tannehill to check down and won’t let Wallace beat them deep.
Steve Smith (at ARI) – Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson is the type to kill your fantasy dreams. In four games this year only Calvin Johnson has reached double digit fantasy points against the Cardinals. This week, Peterson will likely be matched up with Smith and that doesn’t bode well for Smith’s chances of success. The last two weeks Cam Newton and Smith haven’t been on the same page as they’ve only hooked up for 8 catches on 18 targets. Peterson will likely keep that percentage down this week as well.
Anquan Boldin (vs. HOU) – I love Boldin. He’s one of those receivers who is open even when he’s covered. He does such a great job of using his body to shield the defender and his strong hands to hold onto the ball. All that being said, this week he faces a defense that is only giving up 141 yards passing per game. With Colin Kaepernick not playing all that great since his Week 1 explosion against Green Bay, this could be a disappointing week for Boldin.
Nate Washington (vs. KC) – Washington is everyone’s hot waiver wire pick after two successful weeks in a row. Well, this is the week I think he comes crashing back down to earth. First, Jake Locker is out and Ryan Fitzpatrick is in. While that wasn’t a disaster last week, long term I think it is. Secondly, the Titans are facing a Chiefs defense that gives up only 189 yards through the air per game, second best in the NFL. He might have some success catching quick passes in a PPR format but in standard leagues I’m staying far away from this one.
Jared Cook (vs. JAX) – Common theme is start players against the Jaguars. Just last week Coby Fleener went 5 for 77 and a score against the Jaguars and Cook is a big part of the passing game in St. Louis. He’s been wildly inconsistent thus far this year but this week he gets back on your good side.
Greg Olsen (at ARI) – Olsen has been a big target for Cam Newton this year, averaging 8 targets a game. He hasn’t seen less than 7 in a game yet. The Cardinals have been torched by Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham already this year so clearly they are vulnerable to athletic tight ends so Olsen should take full advantage of that this week. With Patrick Peterson in lockdown mode on Steve Smith, Olsen could see the most targets on the Panthers this week.
Brandon Myers (at PHI) – Two weeks in a row on this list for Myers. Last week against KC I was right on as he was only targeted one time. That’s not a good sign. While I see this as a high scoring game, the injuries to the Giants offensive line may force them to keep Myers in more to block or perhaps even on the sidelines since blocking isn’t one of his stronger suits. That’s not a recipe for success.
Owen Daniels (at SF) – I like Daniels as a player but he’s not as quick as he used to be. This week he faces a stiff test in San Francisco. Matt Schaub is already on my sit list and I fear Daniels will also disappoint. Even with the defense focusing on Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, I’m not expecting much from Daniels this week.
Rams (vs. JAX) – If you’re in need of a bye week defense look no further than the Rams. As stated above the Jaguars offense has been less than pathetic this year. While the return of Justin Blackmon should help (and the fact that the Rams really don’t stop the run that well) Blaine Gabbert will probably be generous to the Rams so they’re worthy of a spot start here.
Panthers (at ARI) – Carson Palmer has been sacked ten times and he’s thrown six interceptions already this year. The Cards are 27th in the league averaging only 320 yards per game. The Panthers are surrendering only 318 yards per game, are fresh off shutting out the Giants and have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Seems right to me.
Broncos (at DAL) – The Broncos are 24th in the league giving up 390 yards per game. This week they get the talented Cowboys offense on the road. Peyton Manning scores so quickly he can sometimes put his defense at a disadvantage when it comes to fantasy in that they are on the field for a long time. If they don’t get a special teams touchdown like they have been lately, this could be a weak performance from the Broncos.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.