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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.
Michael Vick (vs. NYG) – I keep saying it, the Giants stink. Five quarterbacks have scored 20 or more fantasy points against this pathetic defense. In a half of football earlier this year Vick threw for 105 and ran for 79 more. Imagine what he could do to this defense if he plays 60 minutes. Even at 80% health, Vick should be able to dismantle the Giants.
Eli Manning (at PHI) – I feel dirty going to this well again but if I keep saying it, eventually I’ll be right. One of these weeks Manning is going to put together a performance for the ages. This is the perfect week to do it. He’s facing a dynamic offense that will be able to move the ball and score against his defense. Furthermore, he’s facing a defense that allows 300 yard passer almost each and every week. I think this is finally the week Manning takes advantage.
Carson Palmer (vs. ATL) – You might think I’m nuts but Palmer faces an Atlanta team that’s giving up 267 yards per game through the air. More importantly, they’ve surrendered 14 passing touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald seems to be round back into shape and Palmer is coming off 258 yards and a score against the powerful Seahawks defense. With 11 days to prepare for this game, I expect a game plan that will take advantage of the many holes in the Falcons defense. Teams coming off a Thursday night game are 9-3 against the spread this season. Good bye week filler here.
Robert Griffin III (at DEN) – Now that Washington has had their bye, it appears Griffin is ready to unleash the “real” RGIII on the league. Last week he passed for 298 yards and two scores while also rushing 11 times for 84 yards. This week he gets the defense that gives up the most passing yards in the league. Four quarterbacks have scored 20+ fantasy points against Denver and there’s no reason Griffin doesn’t make it five. Likely in comeback mode, Griffin will be in the shotgun often which will also lead to plenty of rushing attempts.
Geno Smith (at CIN) – Smith has been a nice surprise for the Jets thus far this season. Unfortunately, his inconsistencies have hurt them at times as well. It appears Smith thrives on positive reinforcement which might explain his success at home and troubles on the road. Smith has thrown 4 touchdown passes in three road games this year. To make matters worse, the Bengals defense has been much better at home than on the road. That’s a potentially lethal combination of statistics.
Alex Smith (vs. CLE) – Very solid REAL NFL quarterback in that he’s a good game manager. That being said, Smith is not usually a good fantasy option and against a tough Cleveland defense, I’d keep him on the pine. The Browns have been vulnerable recently but since their offense is a mess, I don’t expect Kansas City to have to put up too many points in this game. The defense and Jamaal Charles should lead the way.
Terrelle Pryor (vs. PIT) – You’d think coming off the bye that I’d like Pryor, but I don’t. The Steelers have held down Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton in the past and I expect Pryor will get the same treatment. Only 1 quarterback has even come close to 20 fantasy points against the Steelers. The Steelers are hot right now and Troy Polamalu will not let Pryor use his legs to beat them. Save Pryor for later weeks.
Le’Veon Bell (at OAK) – The Raiders present a very tasty match up for the rising Bell. Against a much tougher defense in Baltimore last week he ran for 93 yards on 19 carries. Now he gets a defense that has allowed a running to hit pay dirt each of the last four games. And, we’re talking names like Ronnie Hillman, Danny Woodhead and Roy Helu, not Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy.
Knowshon Moreno (vs. WAS) – I was a fan of Moreno coming into the season but not even I expected him to be the 5th highest scoring running back in a PPR league after seven weeks. This week he gets a Washington defense that’s giving up 126.2 yards per game on the ground as well as 9 touchdowns. Look for Moreno to keep rolling this week and to provide excellent returns. He’s no fluke.
Darren Sproles (vs. BUF) – Yes, he’s sharing time in the backfield with Pierre Thomas but this week he’s facing a Buffalo defense that gives up 123.6 yards per game on the ground. There’s plenty to share there. Pass catchers like Shane Vereen and Giovani Bernard have had success against the Bills and I expect Sproles to follow suit. He’s also much more dynamic on the carpet at home too. Good match up for Sproles.
Stevan Ridley (MIA) – Finally back as the featured back in the offense Ridley is coming off back to back games with a touchdown. Miami has a tough defense in that they haven’t yet allowed a 100 yard rusher but with Ridley, it’s more about the score. Five running backs have scored touchdowns against Miami this year and I’m betting Ridley makes it six. He scored three times in two games against them last year.
Zac Stacy (vs. SEA) – Don’t get me wrong, I really like Stacy. I think he’s done wonders for the Rams offense. That being said, this week presents a challenge. This is a Seattle defense that only allows 91.6 yards per game on the ground. Furthermore, the loss of Sam Bradford means Kellen Clemens gets the start. With a secondary of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, the Seahawks could literally put 9 men in the box and just dare Clemens to beat them. I’d keep Stacy active in PPR leagues because Clemens will probably be a dump-off monster but in standard leagues I’d stay away.
Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. SF) – It’s been a terrible season for Jones-Drew and when you get about 9 carries per game, you have to expect that to continue. Jones-Drew has rushed for more than 70 yards only once this year and he’s been invisible in the passing game. I think San Francisco gets out early and stays ahead all day long thereby limiting the touches for Jones-Drew once again. There are better options.
Peyton Hillis (at PHI) – I’ll give him some leeway since he was just signed on Wednesday before the game but Hillis looked every bit the running back who’s been on the couch for months. In 23 touches he managed just 81 yards. He had zero mobility and in his chance to make just one tackler miss, he not only failed, he fumbled. I guess since the Giants won the game they might be inclined to “stick with what worked” but they won an extremely ugly game and a plodder like Hillis won’t allow them to stay close to the Eagles.
Chris Ivory (at CIN) – Everyone’s hot waiver wire pick this week, I’m saying you should bench Ivory. Yes, he ran for 104 yards last week but he did so on 34 carries. For an injury prone running back, that’s not a workload that he can sustain. In addition, a 3.1 yard per carry average is certainly not inspiring and if you take out his long carry of 17 yards, you’re looking at 33 carries for 87 yards. Yikes. Cincinnati only gives up 97.9 yards per game on the ground and only 3 touchdowns all season. I’m not a fan of Ivory this week.
Marques Colston (vs. BUF) – Against #1 wide receivers, the Bills are giving up about 125 yards receiving per game. When you also consider they’ve already surrendered 15 touchdowns through the air, you understand why I’m high on Colston. With Jimmy Graham questionable this is the week Colston explodes for you.
Rueben Randle (at PHI) – Since I recommended Eli, I’m going to recommend one of his newer favorite targets. Randle has scored in three straight games and against the Eagles he has an excellent chance to make it four. In Week 5 against the same Eagles team Randle caught 6 balls for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles have allowed 11 receivers to reach double digits in fantasy points and between Cruz and Randle that number could grow to 13 this week.
Pierre Garcon (at DEN) – A “handcuff” situation as I love RGIII, so why wouldn’t I love his top option. Denver is giving up 320 yards per game through the air as well as 14 touchdowns. Garcon is a dynamic receiver with solid hands who’s also been known to take a quick slant 80 yards to the house. Griffin’s improved mobility will also open up some improvisation plays where Garcon gets behind the defenders for a long score. Denver is just the type of defense to give this up.
Terrance Williams (at DET) – The Lions are 28th in the league giving up 282 yards per game through the air. Williams has three scores in his last three games and Miles Austin has already been declared out for this week. Tony Romo trusts Williams and says he’s seen a huge leap in improvement this year. That means Romo trusts him and won’t be afraid to exploit this match up with Dez Bryant seeing constant double teams.
Hakeem Nicks (at PHI) – Yes, I recommended Eli and Rueben Randle. Yes, this looks like a great opportunity for Nicks to finally break out. However, I’m still down on the guy. He’s show zero burst off the line and no ability to out-run defenders to the ball. Basically, Nicks is a shell of the receiver he once was and his performance is costing him millions in his walk season. At this point, I’m waiting for him to show me something. His name value is gone.
Cecil Shorts (vs. SF) – The 49ers are only giving up 219 yards per game through the air. Shorts showed extreme toughness last week shaking off an injury and catching 8 balls for 80 yards. This week presents a much tougher challenge for him. He’s still a start in PPR formats but I don’t think Shorts tops 100 yards or gets into the end zone this week so in standard leagues, you’re looking at a single digit total.
Josh Gordon (at KC) – Brandon Weeden is a terrible NFL quarterback. That’s simple to see. He’s been benched this week. You’d think that’s a good think but 31 year old journeyman Jason Campbell can’t possibly be the answer. Gordon will likely see blanket coverage from Brandon Flowers and this is a Chiefs defense that’s giving up only 195 yards through the air. They also happen to be brutal at home. You probably can’t afford to bench a guy like Gordon but if you’re equipped with a lot of depth at wide receiver, I’d consider my other options.
Harry Douglas (at ARI) – On this week’s Google Hangout, we talked about Douglas and I didn’t give him a glowing recommendation so it makes sense that I’ll follow it up and put him here. As the Falcons #1 receiver he’ll be matched up with Patrick Peterson this week. Other than Calvin Johnson, Peterson has feasted on all receivers he’s blanketed this year. This seems more like a game that Tony Gonzalez will dominate. Don’t count on Douglas.
Jordan Reed (at DEN) – Like Aaron Hernandez, Reed is murder except we’re talking on the field only. Reed is an extremely dynamic talent at the tight end position and his 134 yards and a touchdown last week is proof of it. Against a Denver team that gives up yards in bunches Reed is an excellent start this week. Coby Fleener scored against the Broncos last week so look for Reed to get in on the action this week.
Joseph Fauria (vs. DAL) – Fauria has scored five touchdowns thus far this season. The Cowboys have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends. This game has all the makings of being a shootout. Put all those in a hat and you’re looking for Fauria to score once again. He’s a nice sleeper option this week.
Zach Miller (at STL) – With Kellen Clemens at quarterback I don’t expect Russell Wilson to have to do much for Seattle to win this game. The Rams have been torched by #1 receiver so Golden Tate (or even Percy Harvin if he plays) should see some action and then Marshawn Lynch and the defense should do the rest. This could be a quiet week for Miller.
Jared Cook (vs. SEA) – I’ll stay with the same game and say to sit Cook. After Week 1, the pundits who lauded Cook were hurting themselves trying to pat their own back. Well, how do they feel now? Cook has fewer points combined in Weeks 2-7 than he did in Week 1. Only one tight end has scored on Seattle and I just don’t see Cook making it two.
Packers (at MIN) – The first two weeks of the season the Packers defense looked like a disaster. Since then they’ve actually been an extremely solid starting option. This week they face the return of Christian Ponder to the starting lineup. Ponder is usually in the giving mood when it comes to opposing defenses. Adrian Peterson will get his stats but look for the Packers to get enough sacks and turnovers to give you a solid score.
Saints (vs. BUF) – With an extra week to prepare for a poor offense, this is exactly the type of match up you love to stream. The Saints allow less than 14 points per game at home and Thad Lewis is making only his third start. The Saints have covered the spread 11 times in a row at home and have won by an average of 15 points coming off their last 4 bye weeks. The hostile environment and lack of weapons should make this a very solid start for the Saints defense this week.
Cowboys (at DET) – The ‘Boys are streaking with double digit fantasy points the last two weeks. This week, they travel on the road and face a very solid offense led by Matthew Stafford. Stafford is tied with Romo atop the NFC with 15 touchdowns and is first in passing yards. The Cowboys were a single digit fantasy squad against Alex Smith, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. They could be a single digit squad this week too.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.