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.
Philip Rivers (at WAS) – Rivers hasn’t been the same hot quarterback he was in the beginning of the season but this week presents an opportunity to return to dominance. The Redskins give up 274 yards per game through the air and have been victimized for 15 touchdowns. Rivers has topped 20 fantasy points in half of his road games this year so the travel isn’t such a big concern. This one could be a shootout.
Alex Smith (at BUF) – Smith isn’t someone you want to start every week as he’s more of a game manager than a fantasy contributor. This week he gets a Bills defense that has allowed four quarterbacks to eclipse the 20 point barrier. Smith has been efficient and done a good job getting his team into the end zone. You can do worse than a match up against the Bills.
Terrelle Pryor (vs. PHI) – The Eagles are allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for well over 300 yards per game. Having to fly all the way across the country isn’t going to help them any. When you factor in that Pryor is averaging over 60 yards per game on the ground and that he’s fresh off a 100+ rushing performance, you see why Pryor makes the list this week. He’s a great bye week option for those in need.
Robert Grffin III (vs. San Diego) – Well I mentioned above that I think this game could be a shootout so of course I like the other quarterback as well. Griffin is practicing which means his removal last week was more a precaution than a concern. Griffin has shown that he’s a better home quarterback than road warrior. The Chargers defense has struggled on the road allowing the likes of Michael Vick and Jake Locker to tap them for 20+ points. Griffin’s a strong option this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (at NE) – Big Ben used to be a reliable fantasy option but not in 2013. It’s been 6 weeks since he’s had a game with 2 or more touchdowns. Aqib Talib has returned to practice and might play this week which is bad news for Ben’s favorite target Antonio Brown. Both teams like to run the ball so with a constantly ticking clock, there might not be all that much time for Roethlisberger to rack up the points.
Tom Brady (vs. PIT) – I have to admit I wasn’t high on Brady coming into the season but I never imagined it would be this bad. This week it’s even worse on paper. The Steelers have been murder on opposing quarterbacks this year. Brady has been a single digit fantasy scorer three of the last four weeks while the running game has dominated the scoring. On paper, this doesn’t look like the week that Brady returns to prominence.
Matt Ryan (at CAR) – Is a quarterback only as good as his weapons or are his weapons only good because of the quarterback. Without Julio Jones and Roddy White we are finding out the answer to that question in Atlanta. Ryan is coming off a four interception game and things only get more difficult this week. Carolina is the stingiest defense in football when it comes to allowing fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That’s not a recipe for success for a quarterback solely in need of some more weapons.
Ray Rice (at CLE) – It’s been a disappointing season for Rice to say the least. This week he faces a Browns team that gives up almost 104 yards per game on the ground with 9 touchdowns. He’s coming off the bye so hopefully that means Rice will finally be healthy and ready to showcase his formidable talents. He faced the Browns coming off a bye last year and ran for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland’s last four opponents had running backs score double-digit fantasy points. This week should make it five for five.
Eddie Lacy (vs. CHI) – Lacy has been a machine for the Packers, giving them that banging runner they’ve been desperate to find for years. This week he gets to face a Bears team that gives up 117.3 yards per game on the ground. Without Jay Cutler the Bears are not the threat they used to be so look for Green Bay to get out early and ride Lacy the rest of the way. Another workhorse performance is coming.
LeVeon Bell (at NE) – Only the Jacksonville Jaguars give up more yards on the ground than the Patriots. That’s good news for Bell. While the Pats have only given up four touchdowns to opposing runners, that stat doesn’t seem to jive with all the yards they give up. This week I think Bell puts up the combo with high yardage as well as a score.
Darren McFadden (vs. PHI) – This might seem like an odd recommendation since the Eagles only give up 99.5 yards per game on the ground. However, the Raiders aren’t a traditionally pass happy team and certainly aren’t that way with Pryor at quarterback. McFadden’s speed outside will present problems for the Eagles, especially as they worry about Pryor potentially keeping the ball. That open space is all McFadden needs to take one to the house. He’s healthy for now so ride it out.
Pierre Thomas (at NYJ) – The Jets are the best team in the league in stopping the run, giving up only 77.9 yards per game on the ground. The Saints love to move the ball through the air. That’s a pretty lethal combo when trying to ascertain the value of your running back. Darren Sproles has been a big disappointment this year but this might be the week he dominates the touches in the passing game.
Zac Stacy (vs. TEN) – The Titans have been somewhat vulnerable to ground attacks as they give up 117 yards per game but with Stacy nursing a bad ankle, I’m not so sure I’d roll the dice with him this week. The Rams don’t have much to play for so even though Stacy may gut it out, look for an uptick in carries for Daryl Richardson and even the potential for Stacy to get pulled if ineffective or the game gets out of hand. Less touches is never a good thing.
Arian Foster (vs. IND) – I know what you’re thinking, why the heck does he recommend sitting one of the best in the league against a team giving up 122.3 yards per game on the ground? It’s because Foster is battling back from a hamstring injury and those are the type that can creep back into the conversation at a moment’s notice. In addition, the Texans have the Sunday night game so if you’re counting on Foster and the dreaded game day decision turns into an inactive, you’re royally screwed. Unless you also have Ben Tate as insurance (and he’s banged up too) I might use someone else that’s on my bench.
Steven Jackson (at CAR) – After the Jets Carolina is the next stingiest run defense in the league giving up only 79.3 yards per game on the ground. They have shutdown the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson. They’ve only given up two touchdowns to rushers all season. Jackson looked dreadful last week so it’s clear he’s not fully recovered from his injury. At this point, the Falcons are better off rolling with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jackson owners should roll with someone else too.
DeSean Jackson (at OAK) – This is one of those coin flip recommendations. Sometimes this year Nick Foles has looked terrific and other times he’s looked like he couldn’t even play Division III football. I think this week Foles is serviceable once again and that he makes it a point to find his most dangerous weapon. Oakland has given up 10 passing touchdowns this week and my money is on Jackson getting one from Foles.
Keenan Allen (at WAS) – I liked Rivers so of course I like his favorite weapon. Coming off the bye the Chargers should be refreshed and ready to roll. The cross country travel shouldn’t present a problem. Washington has allowed nine receivers to score double digits against them this year while allowing 15 touchdowns. Allen is this year’s version of Danario Alexander. Rivers usually feeds his favorite targets.
Denarius Moore (vs. PHI) – If you’re a receiver facing a team that gives up over 300 yards per game through the air, you have to be excited. Eleven receivers have scored double-digit points against the Eagles this year. Think about that for a second. We’re entering Week 9. Moore is Pryor’s favorite and most explosive option in the passing game. This is a very favorable opportunity.
Terrance Williams (vs. MIN) – At this point, you almost have to start Williams every week. Romo loves him and he’s incredibly explosive. Last week Williams had 1 catch for 4 yards while in the third quarter. One play later he was 2 for 64 and a score. The Vikings give up 288 yards per game and 16 touchdowns through the air in 2013. Williams will likely score again.
Vincent Jackson (at SEA) – With Mike Williams going on injured reserve, Vincent Jackson is the only weapon the Bucs have left. Because of that, the Seahawks could double cover him with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman and still have no problems stopping the rest of the Bucs offense. Seattle will pay extra special attention to Jackson and simply dare anyone else to beat them. If you have other options, use them.
Torrey Smith (at CLE) – The Joe Haden treatment is coming for Smith in Week 9. I know he caught 7 balls for 85 yards against him in Week 2 but that’s basically the top side for Smith. Don’t you want more? Jordy Nelson is the only #1 receiver to score against the Browns this season and that includes match ups with Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green. The entire Ravens offense is struggling and this isn’t the week for Smith to get on track.
Stevie Johnson (vs. KC) – Johnson had a very good game in Week 8 but he’s still not 100%. In addition, it’s looking more and more likely that Jeff Tuel or Matt Flynn will be his quarterback this week. While Kansas City has proven a bit vulnerable the last few weeks, this combination of a 3rd string quarterback and a less than 100% wide receiver is usually a recipe for disaster.
Marques Colston (at NYJ) – Because I put Colston here, I might actually be helping his owners. Last week I expected him to break out and he stunk so maybe this could be reverse psychology. In any event, Colston has been somewhat of a bust this year. Hell, somewhat is being kind. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1!! The Jets are vulnerable through the air but the return of Jimmy Graham combined with the emergence of Kenny Stills and I’m a bit nervous for Colston owners at this point.
Jordan Reed (vs. SD) – The Chargers give up 273 passing yards per game and Reed is proving to be Griffin’s most dangerous weapon. Wide receiver skills in a tight ends body is something that’s very difficult for opposing defenses to stop. With attention paid to Pierre Garcon the middle should be wide open for Reed on Sunday.
Greg Olsen (vs. ATL) – If you’re a Julius Thomas owner like me and you also have Olsen (like me) you’re very happy things worked out this way. Olsen simply loves playing Atlanta. Olsen has scored a touchdown each of the last three games against Atlanta and with Cam Newton soaring high he has a pretty good chance of making it four for four.
Jared Cook (vs. TEN) – Less fantasy points from Week 2-8 combined than he had in Week 1. While St. Louis paid all that money to simply not use Cook is beyond me. Now with Kellen Clemens at quarterback, you’re playing with fire if you’re still trusting Cook. For some reason he’s still owned in about 30% of leagues out there. Not only wouldn’t I start him, I’d drop him.
Coby Fleener (at HOU) – Call this a hunch. I know with Reggie Wayne out you’d think the Colts would lean more on Fleener but I’m not so sure. Houston has done very well against tight ends this year and if Arian Foster doesn’t play, this could be a ball control ground the clock type of game for the Colts offense. Not high on Fleener this week.
Colts (at HOU) – Case Keenum has done well thus far but for some reason, I think this week he struggles. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate both banged up there simply might be too much pressure on Keenum to perform and one of these weeks he’s going to fall flat on his face. My guess is this is that week.
Titans (at STL) – Titans good, Rams stink. Even a caveman can predict it. The Titans have 20 sacks, 13 turnovers and three touchdowns this year. The Rams have been a great match up for defenses this season and that’s a trend that continues this week.
Bears (at GB) – What do you get when you remove your starting quarterback, travel to a tough location and play a nationally televised game against one of the best quarterbacks in football? You get a low score from your defense. The Bears defense wasn’t stellar to begin with but if you take away Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs you’ve got nothing to fear.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.