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.
Nick Foles (vs. WAS) – Foles has been on fire and this week he gets a Redskins defense that gives up 275 yards per game through the air. Only Buffalo, Minnesota and Dallas have given up more passing touchdowns than the 19 surrendered by the Skins. A divisional home game with first place on the line I expect Foles to continue to carry this offense, especially against a poor pass defense.
Mike Glennon (vs. ATL) – It’s tough going “off the radar” for recommendations on a week where only Tony Romo is on bye but Glennon is an option for those Romo owners looking for some help. Just a few weeks ago Glennon put up over 20 fantasy points against the Falcons in their home park. Returning home and with a bit more experience under his belt, not to mention the worsening situation in Atlanta, I see no reason why he couldn’t do it again.
Case Keenum (vs. OAK) – Matt who? Keenum is averaging just under 275 yards per game and has thrown no interceptions since taking over for Matt Schaub. Andre Johnson has scored five of those touchdowns (after having zero under Mr. Schaub). Oakland has allowed 18 touchdowns while only picking off 6 passes. Playing at home, this should be another solid week for Keenum and is a possible play over some other more notable names you might see on the sit list.
Carson Palmer (at JAX) – A desperation play for sure but any quarterback against Jacksonville is potentially a solid start. The Jags have given up 18 touchdowns while only picking off 4 passes. It’s not like Arizona has such a strong running game, especially if they continue to lean on the plodding Rashard Mendenhall. Palmer is probably good for 250 and 2 this week.
Colin Kaepernick (at NO) – The Saints have the 3rd best pass defense in the league giving up only 200 yards per game through the air. What’s more, we are entering Week 11 and they’ve given up only 9 passing touchdowns all season. They just recently made Tony Romo look like Joe Pisarcik and with Kaepernick’s recent struggles, it doesn’t seem like this is the week he’s suddenly going to snap out of his funk.
Tom Brady (at CAR) – The Panthers possess an extremely ferocious defense that has been eating up quarterbacks all season. They only give up 201 yards per game through the air while sacking the opposing quarterback 29 times. Through nine games they’ve only surrendered 7 passing touchdowns while picking off 13 passes. The Patriots offensive line has been far from stellar this season so Brady will most likely be under constant pressure. The Panthers simply crushed Kaepernick and the 49ers last week and while I expect more from Brady, he’s not going to put up a stud-like number against this defense.
Matt Ryan (at TB) – The Falcons are a complete mess and this week’s road game against the Buccaneers is not the opportunity for them to right the ship. Roddy White will be matched up on Revis Island and Tony Gonzalez hasn’t practiced yet this week and is questionable. Do you want to hang your hopes on Harry Douglas? I didn’t think so.
Chris Ivory (at BUF) – Ivory has earned himself a larger workload and he’s come through for the Jets. This week he travels to Buffalo to face a Bills defense that gives up 117.3 yards per game on the ground. That being said, they’ve only given up 3 rushing touchdowns but I think that’s more because they simply can’t stop anyone through the air. The Jets are a run first team and I think Ivory bucks the trend and gets at least one score this week in addition to plenty of yards.
Le’Veon Bell (vs. DET) – Detroit’s rush defense ranks 8th in the league giving up only 100.7 yards per game on the ground so this one is more of a hunch. I’m encouraged by the fact that Bell had 22 touches last week against the Bills and I think this usage is bound to continue. Pittsburgh would be wise to keep Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson off the field and the best way to do that is to establish the run and eat the clock. Just a hunch but I’m thinking 75 and a touch on the ground plus some activity in the passing game.
Pierre Thomas (vs. SF) – Last week Thomas had 24 touches for 111 yards and two scores. Among those 24 touches were 7 receptions. Even with Darren Sproles in the lineup Thomas has been extremely active in the passing game and I expect that to continue this week. San Francisco gives up 105.1 yards per game on the ground in addition to 8 rushing touchdowns. They’ve also given up a bunch of receiving yards to backs thus far this season. Thomas is too versatile to not put up the numbers.
Ben Tate (vs. OAK) – Arian Foster is done for the year so it’s the Ben Tate show in Houston from here on out. He claims he’s getting better at dealing with the pain of his broken ribs and this might be a good week to prove it. Seven running backs have reached double-digit fantasy points against the Raiders and Tate will look to make it eight.
Steven Jackson (at TB) – It’s been a lost year for Jackson and things won’t get any easier this week. The Bucs are 5th in the league giving up only 95.8 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons offense is a mess so unless they somehow get inside the 5-yard line it seems unlikely Jackson will score against a defense that’s only given up 4 rushing touchdowns all year. The Bucs just destroyed Miami’s rushing attack so I don’t think things will be any different this week.
C.J. Spiller (vs. NYJ) – In Week 3 against the Jets Spiller had zero fantasy points. That’s right, he had 10 carries and scored no points because he finished with 9 yards rushing. Now, lately we’ve seen a slightly different Spiller but the Jets run defense is still formidable, ranking 1st in the NFL giving up only 73.8 yards per game on the ground. I can’t possibly recommend a committee running back (sharing time with Fred Jackson) against a team allowing only 74 yards per game. This isn’t Spiller’s breakout week.
Lamar Miller (vs. SD) – Miller has been an extreme disappointment this season and things aren’t getting any better without Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin missing from the offensive line. They were simply manhandled by the Bucs last week. This week they face a Chargers defense that has allowed only four running backs to score double-digit fantasy points against them. 2013 might be a lost cause for Miller.
Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. ARI) – While it’s been a down season for MJD he’s actually been serviceable the past three or four weeks. This week he runs into a wall, literally. The Cardinals only give up 86.9 yards per game (3rd in the NFL) on the ground and they’ve also only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns. If you’ve been happy with MJD recently, you might be disappointed if you stick with him.
Pierre Garcon (at PHI) – Garcon has really stepped up lately and his performance has really helped Robert Griffin III. This week they face the Eagles and their 31st ranked pass defense. The Eagles surrender 301 yards per game through the air. This game presents itself as a potential shootout so Griffin’s favorite and most dangerous target should be a prime beneficiary.
Riley Cooper (vs. WAS) – Is there a hotter receiver in the league than Cooper? Five touchdowns in the past two games to go along with 241 yards receiving!! This week they get the Redskins and their 26th ranked pass defense. The Skins give up 275 yards and more importantly, 19 passing touchdowns. As I said above this has the making of a shootout so start Cooper with confidence.
Antonio Brown (vs. DET) – Detroit’s pass defense is struggling big-time. They give up 276 yards per game (27th in the league) but more importantly, 10 receivers have scored double-digit points against them in the past six weeks alone. Brown is Ben Roethlisberger’s #1 target in the passing game and he should continue that trend this week. The Steelers will mix the run and pass well and the only thing keeping Brown from being an elite receiver is the lack of touchdowns. Hopefully he gets one this Sunday.
Alshon Jeffery (vs. BAL) – In his last five games Jeffery is averaging 5.8 catches for 104.8 yards per game. He’s basically been immune to the quarterback situation. If you take out the stinker against the Giants, Jeffery has 19 catches for 332 yards in his last two home games. The Ravens defense is not the scary foe they once were. Baltimore is 16th in the league in yards allowed and has given up 16 passing touchdowns. With the focus on Brandon Marshall, Jeffery should have another solid game.
Cecil Shorts (vs. ARI) – After a stinker last week you’re probably hoping for a rebound. Don’t count on it. Shorts is banged up and all reports are that Patrick Peterson will shadow Shorts this week. Wide receivers average only 137.9 yards per game against the Cardinals. They also average only 18.3 fantasy points which is the 8th fewest in the league. Don’t expect big things from Shorts unless he gets it in garbage time.
Roddy White (at TB) – Mr. White, welcome to Revis Island. I wouldn’t like White this week if he were 100% healthy so I can’t possibly recommend him when he’s going to be shadowed by one of the best corners in football. At this point, it’s a lost season for White so no matter who they play, I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting him until after a game where he actually showed me some ability to perform.
Steve Smith (vs. NE) – Smith has made somewhat regular appearances on my sit list. He’s clearly not the little spark plug he once was. This week, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll be facing Aqib Talib. The former WR1 hasn’t topped 70 yards receiving in any game yet this year. Pretty amazing when you consider Cam Newton is actually having a pretty decent season. A healthy Talib completely changes this New England defense so watch the injury report if you’re a Smith owner.
Aaron Dobson (at CAR) – I have Tom Brady on my sit list because of the imposing Carolina defense. Carolina’s secondary isn’t the best in the league but their front seven generates a ton of pressure and makes quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket. Based on that fact, Brady will be utilizing his slot receivers much more this week and that likely leaves Dobson out in the cold. Without time in the pocket, Brady isn’t going to hit Dobson for a deep ball, which is where he’s made his impact lately. This could be one of those 3 for 45 type of days for Dobson.
Jordan Reed (at PHI) – Reed has become a target monster for Robert Griffin III. Blessed with extreme athletic ability, he’s a wide receiver trapped in a tight ends body. Reed has been targeted 9 times each of the last three weeks and that’s generated 90+ yards or a score each time. In a game I’m projecting as a shootout, it’s nearly a lock Reed sees 9+ targets again.
Zack Ertz (vs. WAS) – Here’s my sneaky tight end play of the week. While I certainly do love the Eagles receivers this week, I think Ertz is finally coming into his own. Last week he saw 6 targets and turned that into 5 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. I think he’ll carry that momentum forward into this match up and continue to perform like a top 12 tight end.
Greg Olsen (vs. NE) – Olsen did score touchdowns in Weeks 8 & 9 but he hasn’t topped 66 yards receiving since Week 5. So it seems his value is linked to getting into the end zone. This week they face a Patriots team that’s allowed only one touchdown to tight ends all season. I’m a trend follower who plays the percentages and this week that suggests sitting Olsen.
Charles Clay (vs. SD) – After a nice run from Weeks 4-7 Clay has gotten quiet on the fantasy front. This week the Dolphins face a Chargers team that has allowed only two tight ends to score double-digit fantasy points. Last week Julius Thomas was one of them but what’s lost in the stats is he only caught 3 passes, it’s just that one went for a 74-yard touchdown. Clay isn’t that type of dynamic tight end. It could be a quiet week for Mr. Clay.
Jets (at BUF) – A hot defense coming off bye facing a team they had a season high eight sacks against the last time they faced them? Sounds like a good start to me. To make it more attractive, Buffalo could be without wide receivers Steve Johnson and Robert Woods. The Bills have been giving gifts to defenses all season and this week should be no different.
Saints (vs. SF) – The Saints have the 3rd best pass defense in the league and get to face a quarterback struggling to find the rhythm he had in last year’s playoffs. The Saints aren’t strong against the run so expect a lot of Frank Gore but my feeling is they’ll gear up to stop him early and with Drew Brees lighting up scoreboards, the 49ers may find themselves forced to pass to keep up and that plays right into the Saints strength.
Miami (vs. SD) – Last week the Dolphins defense struggled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This week they face a tougher test in the Chargers. Philip Rivers has been solid this year and the combination of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead has been very productive out of the backfield. I usually don’t like an offense traveling across the country like this but the late starting time should have San Diego refreshed and ready to roll. That’s trouble for the Dolphins.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.