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.
Cam Newton (at MIN) – After an ugly week Newton gets the benefit of playing the Vikings. Minnesota gives up the 4th most passing yards per game as well as 2.25 touchdowns per to opposing quarterbacks. Add the points he’ll get on his legs and you’re likely look at a 20+ point afternoon.
Robert Griffin III (at DAL) – For the season no team has allowed more passing touchdowns and fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Cowboys. After witnessing last week’s 51-48 game between Dallas and Denver, Griffin owners have to be salivating at this match-up. Having a week off to rest the knee as well as prepare for this game, it should be a big week for Griffin.
Chad Henne (at DEN) – To me this makes complete sense. Denver surrenders a league high 365 yards per game through the air. Their offense is so powerful (and the Jags defense so bad) that Henne will be chucking the ball all over the field. Garbage time fantasy points are still fantasy points. Add the fact that Denver is giving up 2 touchdowns per game in the air and Henne makes for a nice weekly play.
Andrew Luck (at SD) – The Chargers are the second most generous defense when it comes to surrendering fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Not one quarterback has failed to throw for at least two touchdowns. Is this the week Luck has a breakout performance? Sure looks possible to me.
Matthew Stafford (at CLE) – I know this seems crazy but it’s been three weeks since the Browns have given up a passing touchdown. Zero quarterbacks have topped 300 yards and the Browns are the third stingiest defense when it comes to fantasy points by opposing quarterbacks. Add a banged up Calvin Johnson who if he plays will be covered by Joe Haden and you have a recipe for disaster.
Russell Wilson (vs. TEN) – This one too seems like a sketchy recommendation on my part but if not for the running totals, Wilson would be a huge disappointment this year. The Titans defense has been very stingy to opposing quarterbacks. Only Matt Schaub had what would be considered a productive day. I find it hard to start a quarterback when I’m truly relying on his legs to support my cause. Can Wilson put up huge rushing totals three weeks in a row? I’m betting against it.
Geno Smith (vs. PIT) – The Steelers defense is coming off a bye which means they had two weeks to prepare to play a rookie quarterback. I know Smith has been very solid this year but the Steelers have only allowed one quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns against them and are second in the league allowing only 203 passing yards per game. Bump in the road for Smith this week.
Zac Stacy (at HOU) – I’ll preface this by saying that you need to check the game day active list since Stacy is a bit banged up but I like his chances this week. Houston has allowed a running back touchdown in three straight games. Three of the last four have gone over the 100 yards mark. Stacy averaged over 5 yards per carry last week and should be able to carry that momentum over to this week’s game.
Willis McGahee (vs. DET) – I feel dirty with this one since I mocked the experts on twitter who were going wild over the need to pick up McGahee weeks ago but this week I’m digging deep on running backs. Running backs have scored seven touchdowns this year against the Lions, second most in the NFL. If Cleveland is going to keep this a game, they are going to have to play the ground and pound game and that’s where McGahee comes in. It won’t be pretty, but the odds say he’ll score.
Bilal Powell (vs. PIT) – The Steelers have allowed a running back to score in every single game this year. Backs average 114 yards per game and 1.5 touchdowns. While there’s a committee in New York, especially with Mike Goodson back, I like Powell as the head of that committee. Against a soft run defense Powell should have room to roam.
Pierre Thomas (at NE) – No, I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid on last week’s performance from Thomas. What I am drinking is the fact that New England let the Bengals abuse them with the run game last week. The increased number of snaps for Thomas also allowed him to catch 9 passes, a trend that should continue this week as he shares the backfield with Darren Sproles. Any goal line chances will go to Thomas. That’s good news.
Eddie Lacy (vs. BAL) – As evidenced by my recommendation of McGahee above, you can run on the Lions. That’s why Lacy had success last week. This week is a different story. The Ravens have allowed only one running back to hit pay dirt this year. Beyond that, only one running back has even reached 60 yards rushing. If the Packers are going to win this, it’ll be through the air. That’s not where Lacy gets involved. This is a good week to sit him down.
Le’Veon Bell (at NYJ) – The numbers suggest it is damn near impossible to run on the Jets. They are allowing a meager 2.9 yards per carry and give up the second fewest rushing yards per game at just under 65. I’m not convinced after one game that Bell is a must start every week type of running back. I’m not risking him this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew (at DEN) – It’s been a tough year for MJD and it only gets tougher this week. Only LeSean McCoy has been able to rush for over 40 yards this year against the Broncos. Peyton Manning will probably lead scoring drives on each of their first three possessions which will essentially take away any chance of the Jaguars establishing the run. With few chances, you can’t succeed.
Frank Gore (vs. ARI) – Arizona has been surprisingly stout against the run this year. Zero running backs have scored touchdowns or run for more than 65 yards against the Cardinals. It’s tough to bench Gore, especially at home, but this could be the week to access your bench depth if you have it.
Justin Blackmon & Cecil Shorts (at DEN) – Opportunity knocks. Denver is giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. Four receivers have gone over 100 yards and seven times they’ve rang that fantasy bell. Henne will probably throw 50 times or more so this should be a game that both these receivers get a good 7 receptions.
Vincent Jackson & Mike Williams (vs. PHI) – No team is more generous to wide receivers than the Eagles. They surrender 242 yards and more than two touchdowns per game to opposing receivers. Jackson is looking for his first touchdown and I’m banking on him getting it this week. The Bucs have two #1 type options here and against a porous secondary I expect both of them to succeed.
Torrey Smith (at GB) – Green Bay has allowed every single #1 wide receiver to score a touchdown thus far this year. Smith has been every bit the top dog in Baltimore as he’s gone over 85 yards receiving every single week. Flacco may not be worth the money, but Smith is sure enjoying their time together. This is an easy recommendation.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. OAK) – Finally, a match-up even Bowe should exploit. The Raiders have been very friendly to #1 wide receivers this year. Most top 90 receiving yards and any that haven’t were recipients of a touchdown. No matter how you look at it, this should finally be the week Bowe rewards your patience.
Calvin Johnson (at CLE) – I said at the top that I wouldn’t tell you to start Calvin because that’s obvious. I never said I wouldn’t recommend you sit him. Johnson was a surprise inactive last week and reports are that he won’t practice at all this week. Sure, he’s been a monster without practice before but this week he’ll be locked up with Joe Haden. Thus far nobody has scored against Haden and receivers are averaging a paltry 40 yards per game against him. Ouch. He’s that good.
DeSean Jackson (at TB) – I am Mr. Rourke, your host, welcome to Revis Island. A grand total over zero receivers have topped 70 yards against Revis this year. Only one has found the end zone and that was a physically gifted Larry Fitzgerald. The diminutive Jackson will have a tough time getting separation off the line of scrimmage against Revis. This is the week D-Jax takes a step back.
Anquan Boldin (vs. ARI) – Mr. Boldin, meet Mr. Petersen. Patrick Petersen has been a shutdown corner this year having stymied the likes of Marques Colston and Steve Smith. Arizona is extremely generous to tight ends (bonus recommendation here for Vernon Davis) so Boldin shouldn’t be the first option in the passing game this week. It’ll probably be a letdown.
Larry Fitzgerald (at SF) – The 49ers defense has been a black hole to wide receivers. Since their Week 1 implosion against Green Bay no receiver has topped 60 yards or found the end zone against the 49ers. Carson Palmer has been terrible and a road game in San Francisco is not going to cure his ills.
Heath Miller (at NYJ) – Miller is the guy that Big Ben looks to when he’s in trouble. He’s the guy that makes this offense hum. This week, they face a Jets defense that has given up a touchdown to a tight end in three straight weeks. Hmmm, tight end that scored 8 touchdowns last year and is Big Ben’s safety blanket in the red zone against a defense that leaves tight ends open in the red zone????
Greg Olsen (at MIN) – Minnesota gives up the most fantasy points to tight ends and has allowed a league high six touchdowns to tight ends this year. Olsen is arguably the top option in the passing game since defenses are focused on Steve Smith. That all adds up to a damn solid performance this Sunday from Olsen.
Jared Cook (at HOU) – Everyone’s preseason sleeper (not mine) has been a colossal bust since Week 1. The past two weeks he’s actually been outplayed and out-pointed by Lance Kendricks. The Texans have held all tight ends not named Vernon Davis to single digit fantasy points. Don’t look for Cook to break that streak.
Brandon Pettigrew (at CLE) – I don’t understand why this guy stinks and to make matters worse, every time I’m just about to give up on him, he has a good game. Well, I’m not buying it. The Browns are an extremely stingy pass defense that gives up only about 4 points per game to opposing tight ends. Look elsewhere.
Lions (at CLE) – The Lions defense has been stout this year against opposing quarterbacks and we’re talking the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. This week they get Brandon Weeden. Heehee. Weeden is a sack-taking machine and will likely find himself on his butt early and often this week. Add a couple of picks and a low score and you’ve got yourself a valuable defense for this week.
Panthers (at MIN) – Carolina has played very solid defensively this year, even tossing a shutout against the Giants. They are averaging 14 fantasy points per week and in Week 6 they get a generous offense in the Vikings. Even Adrian Peterson has lost two fumbles already this year after losing only two all of last year. Roll with the Panthers.
Saints (at NE) – Tom Brady has been a very weak quarterback this year with only one game above 20 fantasy points. This is the week he makes it two. Brady looks set to get Rob Gronkowski back. Stevan Ridley also looks primed to return and Danny Amendola made it through last week’s game alive. That gives Brady his full complement of weapons which should reduce the powerful Saints defense to a bench option for this week.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.