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.
Colin Kaepernick (at WAS) – This recommendation is a leap of faith because quite frankly Kaepernick has been a colossal disappointment this season. The Redskins defense struggles against opposing quarterbacks, especially those with mobility. The past four quarterbacks have all scored at least 18 points against the Redskins defense and just last week Nick Foles rushed for a score against them. If ever the 49ers were going to open the playbook and let Kaepernick use his legs like he did last post season, this is the week for it.
Scott Tolzein (vs. MIN) – This one might be reaching deep into the bag of tricks but if you found lightening in a bottle with Nick Foles and are now in need of a one-week filler, you could do worse. The Vikings are 29th in the league against the pass and have given up a league leading 23 touchdowns. The Packers showed last week they weren’t afraid to air it out and while the results weren’t great, the Vikings defense is nothing like the suddenly rolling Giants. Tolzein should find some openings in the defense and he certainly has the weapons in Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin.
Eli Manning (vs. DAL) – Eli is usually the man behind all the victories over the Cowboys. To make it more intriguing, Dallas comes into this contest dead last in the league against quarterbacks allowing almost 330 yards per game through the air. Let’s not forget Week 1 when Eli put up 36 points against this defense. Playing without Sean Lee, even the middle of the field should be open for Eli. This game looks to be a shootout, weather permitting.
Case Keenum (vs. JAX) – What? You actually thought I wouldn’t go to the well again? Last week I struck gold recommending Carson Palmer against the Jags so I’m going there again. The Jaguars are simply pathetic and they can’t stop anyone on defense. Head Coach Gary Kubiak has faith in Keenum so don’t be fooled by last week’s removal. Hell, Matt Schaub played worse in relief anyway so it’s not like there’s reason for Keenum to worry. I’m thinking 250 yards and two touchdowns for sure.
Robert Griffin III (vs. SF) – It’s tough to recommend benching Griffin because it seems he’ll stink for most of the game and then suddenly pour on the fantasy points late to make your prediction seem awful. This week the 49ers present a very difficult task for Griffin. The 49ers have held down such talents as Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and more impressively Drew Brees. Tight end Jordan Reed may miss the game and Leonard Hankerson is out for sure. That leaves Griffin with Garcon and Josh Morgan? Not enough weapons for my liking.
Philip Rivers (at KC) – Once again on the sit list after a hot start to the season. Now the struggling Rivers gets to face one of the best defenses in football in one of the toughest environments to play. While they lost the game the Chiefs did a pretty darn good job of holding down Peyton Manning just last week. If they can hold down Manning, they can shut down Rivers.
Ryan Tannehill (vs. CAR) – Tom Brady was on my sit list last week against this ferocious Panthers defense so of course Tannehill is going to reside here. The Dolphins are a mess on the offensive line without Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and Mike Pouncey so even with the Panthers playing without standout defensive end Charles Johnson; they should generate plenty of pressure on Tannehill. He doesn’t respond well to pressure so we could see a few picks this week.
Ben Tate (vs. JAX) – I know I already recommended Keenum but I’m even higher on Tate. No defense is the league is worse against the run than the Jaguars. Teams are averaging 139.1 yards per game on the ground and Tate will be the primary ball carrier for the rest of the season. The Texans have something to prove after many weeks of losses and the Jaguars are just the type of opponent to take your frustrations out on. Tate should be good for at least 125 yards and a score.
Zac Stacy (vs. CHI) – While the Jaguars are the worst against the run the Bears are a close second giving up 133.9 yards per game on the ground. Stacy has been a gold mine for owners who scooped him up as he’s put up RB1 numbers even playing through injuries. Coming off bye he should be 100% and ready to roll against a defense that just got pummeled by struggling Ray Rice. Triple digits and a score for Stacy this week.
Rashad Jennings (vs. TEN) – No Darren McFadden? No problem for the Raiders. Jennings has stepped in and simply run over people. Jennings is averaging over 100 yards per game the last three weeks and now gets to face a Titans defense that has allowed seven straight running backs to score double-digit fantasy points against them. I repeat, seven straight. Ride the trend.
Andre Brown (vs. DAL) – In his first game back Andre Brown had 30 carries. Last week he was on his way to a very solid day before he got a short touchdown vultured by Brandon Jacobs. Eight different running backs have scored touchdowns against the Cowboys this year and that was with Sean Lee manning the middle. This week, Dallas is extremely vulnerable without Lee. The Giants love to pound the ball and keep Tony Romo off the field. Without Lee, that shouldn’t be difficult.
Ray Rice (vs. NYJ) – Was I impressed with Rice last week? A little. Do I think he can continue that success? Not a chance. As bad as Chicago’s run defense is, that’s how good the Jets are. The Jets are #1 in the NFL allowing only 73.2 yards per game on the ground so the going will be extremely tough for Rice this week. Unless he’s heavily involved in the passing game he’s likely to disappoint you this week. Look for other options.
Stevan Ridley (vs. DEN) – Ridley is surely on a touchdown streak having scored in five straight games. This week, I think the streak may end. Denver is 4th in the league giving up only 92.7 yards per game on the ground. Much of that is because they are usually ahead and teams therefore abandon the run. What concerns me this week is Ridley’s fumble last week (forcing LeGarrette Blount into 10 carries) and more importantly, if New England falls behind we’ll see tons of Shane Vereen as the Patriots are in the shotgun for passing situations. Denver has given up 9 rushing touchdowns this year so there’s always hope for a score but this match up makes me a bit nervous for Ridley.
Lamar Miller (vs. CAR) – He stinks. He was terrible when the offensive line was together and now I hate him against one of the best defenses in football while missing 60% of his starting line. Daniel Thomas has been getting more and more involved so there’s almost no reason even carrying Miller on a roster at this point. Not sure what the Dolphins were thinking with this kid cause I’ve never been a big fan. Looks like maybe I should be their GM.
Chris Ivory (at BAL) – I see a lot of people jumping on the Ivory bandwagon but in my opinion this is the week to get off. The Ravens are 11th in the league against the run but more importantly they’ve only allowed 1 rushing touchdown all season. Baltimore has struggled a little recently but they’ve done so against passing game threats like Giovani Bernard and Matt Forte. A straight-ahead bowling ball like Ivory should be easier to handle.
Victor Cruz (vs. DAL) – Cruz has been a slight disappointment lately as he hasn’t been the reception monster you’d expect. This week I think he breaks out big-time. As I mentioned earlier the Cowboys give up over 330 yards per game through the air and with Hakeem Nicks still struggling Cruz will see upwards of 15 targets this week. As long as the wind at MetLife Stadium isn’t a problem Cruz will have a monster day.
Vincent Jackson (at DET) – Back in the saddle V-Jax is exhibiting those WR1 skills lately. This week he gets a Lions defense that’s 29th in the league giving up 296.7 yards per game through the air and 19 touchdowns. Easily the #1 option in the Buccaneers passing game Jackson should see targets early and often and have plenty of success on the fast track in Detroit.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. SD) – Bowe should continue to fly ‘high’ (sorry, couldn’t help myself) against a Chargers defense ranked 27th in the league against the pass. This is a big bounce back statement game for the Chiefs and it’s still a road to redemption for Bowe. I think this week Alex Smith looks for his big target and the Chiefs win this game going away.
Kendall Wright (at OAK) – The Raiders come into this game 25th in the league against the pass and that bodes well for the Titans target monster in the passing game. Wright has been a PPR monster but the lack of touchdowns has kept him from being in the conversation of WR2 types. This week his chances to score rise considerably as the Raiders have allowed 11 touchdowns to wide receivers. This week he’s a clear WR2.
Antonio Brown (at CLE) – As a Brown owner in two leagues it kills me to say this. How many times do you recommend sitting the NFL’s leader in receptions? This week Brown will be matched up against Joe Haden. The same Joe Haden that just held monster A.J. Green to two catches for 7 yards. For those who are mathematically challenged that’s a ZERO in a standard league. Cleveland has given up 16 touchdowns so if you’re like me and stuck starting Brown, pray for a short score to salvage the day.
Cecil Shorts (at HOU) – Another one of my wide receivers makes the list. Normally I recommend a receiver who complains about his activity as the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease. This week they face a Texans defense that’s #1 in the league against the pass averaging only 181.6 yards against per game. Houston has shutdown the likes of Torrey Smith, Dwayne Bowe and Larry Fitzgerald so I’m not overly optimistic on Shorts.
T.Y. Hilton (at ARI) – Hilton is the top receiver on the Colts but this weeks opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, are #2 in the NFL in limiting the success of #1 wide receivers. The main reason is Patrick Peterson. He’s done a tremendous job of shadowing and blanketing the opponent’s top receiving option and this week should be no different.
Denarius Moore (vs. TEN) – Whether it’s the change at quarterback or the shoulder injury, Moore hasn’t been productive in over a month. This week he gets to face Alterraun Verner and that doesn’t bode well for his production. Verner is one of the most underrated corners in all of football. We constantly talk about Darrelle Revis, Joe Haden, Patrick Peterson and the duo in Seattle but Verner is right up there with them. Moore could have a tough time this week.
Jason Witten (at NYG) – I have to admit the Giants defense has really been playing well lately but history suggests you still start Witten. In his last two games against the Giants Witten has caught 26 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. That’s not a typo. Those are WR1 stats from a tight end. He just kills them so there’s no reason to sit him.
Delanie Walker (at OAK) – There’s no hotter tight end right now than Walker. He’s scored three touchdowns in his last four games and is fresh off a 10-catch performance last week. This week he gets to face a Raiders defense that just allowed Garrett Graham to go 7-136-1 against them. No reason not to continue to ride the Walker bandwagon.
Antonio Gates (at KC) – I know Philip Rivers needs someone to throw to but no team in football gives up less points to tight ends than the Chiefs. Long a staple of the Chargers offense, the Chiefs will know to game plan against Gates and continue their stellar play against opposing tight ends. There has to be better options out there for you.
Jordan Reed (vs. SF) – Reed is fresh off a concussion last week and has not yet been cleared to practice. It’s possible he will return to practice Friday and therefore suit up this weekend but even if he does, he’s not a recommended play. First, he’ll be very susceptible to a big hit which could once again knock him out of the game but even more importantly the 49ers are #3 in the NFL against opposing tight ends. The match up and medical conditions suggest you look for someone else to start this week.
Ravens (vs. NYJ) – After watching the Bills dismantle the Jets I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend the Ravens against them. Geno Smith has been a turnover machine (16 ints to just 8 TDs) and the Ravens are a much better defense at home than on the road. Look for another tough performance from Smith and solid score from the Ravens.
Panthers (at MIA) – The Panthers defense has been nearly match up proof this year. They’ve simply been crushing everyone. This week they travel to Miami to face a team missing 60% of their offensive line and without any true #1 weapon in the passing game. Mike Wallace has been proving he’s nothing more than a straight line runner so the lack of dynamics in the Miami passing game plays right into the Panthers hands.
Broncos (at NE) – Denver’s defense is a bit underrated from a fantasy perspective as they got off to a rocky start without Von Miller. That being said, even though they’ve played better of late, most of their premier performances have occurred in Mile High. Traveling across the country to play a stingy New England offense I don’t expect much scoring from the Broncos defense.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.