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.
Josh McCown (vs. DAL) – As of this writing, Jay Cutler has not gotten clearance so the assumption is McCown will start once again. Dallas ranks 31st in the league allowing 295 yards passing per game in addition to 22 touchdowns. Bears quarterbacks have topped 300 yards 5 times this season so the combination of those two stats seems to indicate McCown’s in line for another stellar performance. There are simply too many weapons for this weak Cowboys defense to stop.
Joe Flacco (vs. MIN) – The Vikings are 30th in the league giving up 287 yards passing per game. They’ve surrendered 26 passing touchdowns while only picking off 8 passes. Flacco has thrown for 250+ and a score in each of his last two games. This looks like another 250+ performance but this time he’s likely to throw for 2 scores or more.
Eli Manning (at SD) – Eli has been a big disappointment this season but he’s had three straight weeks of double-digit fantasy points and this week he draws a San Diego defense that has allowed 7 quarterbacks to score 22 points or more. While a cross-country flight isn’t the best precursor to success, the fact that Eli is out of the cold, windy conditions of MetLife Stadium bodes well for his chances.
Alex Smith (at WAS) – Don’t look now but Alex Smith is on a serious roll. He’s thrown for 230+ yards and multiple scores three weeks in a row. Granted, two were against the Broncos but it’s not like the Redskins pose a tougher threat. Washington is 27th in the league allowing 265 yards per game through the air. They have given up 23 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. I like Smith again this week.
Robert Griffin III (vs. KC) – On paper, it would appear that Griffin’s matchup isn’t terrible. The Chiefs are 21st in the league against the pass allowing 249 yards per game. Here’s the problem. The Chiefs have only given up 18 passing touchdowns all season. Dig a bit deeper and you realize Peyton Manning has thrown 6 of those. Take away the Peyton effect and the Chiefs have given up 12 passing touchdowns while picking off 12 passes. They are also among the league leaders in sacks with 37. Unless Griffin gets you points with his legs, he may leave you out in the cold.
Colin Kaepernick (vs. SEA) – This one is a no-brainer. Seattle is #1 in the league giving up a meager 177 yards per game through the air. They have 16 interceptions versus only 13 touchdown passes. Hell, they just held Drew Brees to under 200 yards and only 1 score. Granted, Seattle is a different team away from home but Kaepernick is a far cry from Brees. Play it safe and stay away from Kaepernick.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. MIA) – Big Ben is on a streak having scored 20+ in three straight games. You’d think I’d be riding the wave but Miami is 9th in the league giving up only 222 yards per game. More importantly, they’ve only surrendered 12 touchdown passes while intercepting 16 passes. With 37 sacks they are among the league leaders. Pittsburgh has struggled in protection so I’m looking for a run heavy attack this week.
DeMarco Murray (at CHI) – The Bears run defense might be the worst I’ve seen in a long time. They are dead last in the league giving up 153.6 yards per game on the ground. They have also given up 15 rushing touchdowns. This week Murray comes in on what almost amounts to a bye, as it’s been 11 days since he last played a game. Fresh legs against a dreadful run defense? Sounds like the perfect start.
Eddie Lacy (vs. ATL) – Speaking of terrible run defenses, enter Atlanta. The Falcons give up 135.4 yards per game on the ground, which is 30th in the league. Lacy is another runner who hasn’t played in 11 days and therefore brings fresh legs into this contest. Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers should lean heavily on Lacy. Matt Flynn has had extra time to learn the offense so he should provide better support than he did last week. Ride Lacy like a horse.
Le’Veon Bell (vs. MIA) – Miami is great against the pass but is 25th in the league against the run. As a result, look for the Steelers to go with a ground heavy attack. Even though he was knocked unconscious last week it appears Bell is good to go for this week. So much for the concussion protocol and player safety.
Steven Jackson (at GB) – Welcome back S-Jax. The last two weeks Jackson is averaging almost 75 yards per game and he’s scored at least once in each game. Green Bay has given up 7 touchdowns to running backs in the last 6 games. Both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell ran all over them just last week. Green Bay is 26th in the league against the run so Jackson will look to make it three solid games in a row.
Zac Stacy (at ARI) – I’m a big Stacy fan and he’s proven me wrong before this season but this week he faces a stiff test. Arizona is 4th in the league against the run only giving up 83.3 yards per game. They have also only given up 4 touchdowns to running backs all season. It’s really hard to bench Stacy unless you have some serious depth but here’s hoping you have it.
Rashad Jennings (at NYJ) – The Jets defense ranks #1 in the league giving up only 77 yards per game on the ground. While Jennings is fully expected to play he did suffer a concussion on Thanksgiving so who knows if there’ll be any lingering effects should he take a solid pop against a stout defense. The Cowboys defense was ranked 27th in the league and Jennings only had 35 yards on 17 carries. His two touchdowns saved the day. Won’t happen against the Jets.
Frank Gore (vs. SEA) – Seattle’s defense is something fierce. They’ve only given up 4 touchdowns all year to running backs and just last week they simply pasted the Saints in every aspect of the game. It’s possible the 49ers are without Joe Staley and Mike Iupati and that only makes the matchup worse for Gore. In their first meeting Gore had 10 touches for 30 yards. Ouch.
Pierre Thomas (vs. CAR) – Speaking of punishing defense the Panthers are 2nd in the league giving up only 80.3 yards per game on the ground. Against a similar defense in Seattle last week Thomas had 8 touches for 21 yards including zero yards rushing on 4 carries. He’s a definite sit in standard leagues and still might be a tough play in PPR formats.
Nate Burleson (at PHI) – Philadelphia is last in the league giving up 314.5 receiving yards per game. They also struggle with #2 receivers and with Kris Durham banged up Burleson becomes the #2 target in the passing game this week. Detroit is never shy about passing the ball or running up the score. Nick Foles has been terrific so this could be a shootout. I know it’s crazy recommending a guy who scored a 0 last week in what was a shootout but I’ve never shied away from a challenge.
Kendall Wright (at DEN) – The Broncos give up over 300 receiving yards per week. Most of that is because they are always winning big and early, causing the opposition to throw all day long. Well, that shouldn’t change this week either. Kendall Wright has been a target machine this season and he’ll draw double-digit looks once again this week. Start him with confidence.
Alshon Jeffery (vs. DAL) – Yeah, I’ve got big cajones putting him here. Well, the last time Jeffery went over 200 yards he only ended up with 27 on one catch the next week. This time he gets the benefit of facing a Cowboys defense that gives up almost 311 receiving yards per week, good (or bad really) for 31st in the league. Brandon Marshall is always going to draw the most attention so it should be another stellar week for Jeffery.
Dwayne Bowe (at WAS) – As I mentioned earlier Alex Smith has been quite hot. This week they face a Redskins defense that gives up 281.8 yards per game to receivers and 23 touchdowns. Bowe found the end zone for the third straight week last week but a penalty wiped out the score. I think he’ll get back into the scoring column this week.
Michael Crabtree (vs. SEA) – Owners have been holding Crabtree just waiting for his end of season return. He actually played more snaps last week than I anticipated and even busted out for a long reception while finishing with 2 catches for 68 yards. Shaking the rust off is good. Facing Seattle is very bad. He will certainly have his hands full with Seahawk defenders this week. The time for Crabtree might be Weeks 15 and 16 when he faces Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Not now.
Steve Smith (at NO) – New Orleans ranks 5th in the league giving up only 223.8 receiving yards per game. Smith has yet to catch more than 6 passes in a game and more importantly he hasn’t reached 70 yards even once. Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell have stepped up lately giving Cam Newton other options to throw to. Smith has been a bust all year. Don’t trust him now.
Marques Colston (vs. CAR) – Speaking of busts, Colston has 147 yards combined in his last three games. His only good week since Week 4 was November 10th against Dallas and we all know how bad their pass defense is. Carolina is 8th in the league giving up only 234.3 receiving yards per game. The Saints are angry after last week’s beat down and they certainly play better at home, but Colston simply hasn’t been trustworthy this year.
Steve Johnson (vs. TB) – This one is a tough one. Tampa Bay is 18th in the league giving up 261.3 receiving yards per game. They have also given up 24 receiving touchdowns. That being said, a healthy Johnson is certainly the Bills #1 receiver which means he’s the one to draw Darrelle Revis. Johnson has actually had some success against Revis in the past but this is a more banged up Johnson and Revis has really been flying high lately. That’s not a good combination.
Brandon Myers (at SD) – I’m high on Eli as he’s done well lately and Myers has scored in two straight. With no wind or weather concerns I think Eli continues his relationship with his tight end. Things were rocky for these two early but they look to be on the same page now. I like Myers to score again.
Jordan Cameron (at NE) – Yes, I know the Patriots do well against opposing tight ends and I know the quarterback situation in Cleveland stinks with Caleb Hanie getting the start but something just tells me this is the week for Cameron. Josh Gordon has been an unstoppable monster lately and you know Belichick loves to take our your #1 option. In addition to Aqib Talib I expect a ton of double coverage on Gordon which should mean more 1-on-1 looks for Cameron. I think he exploits that this week.
Charles Clay (at PIT) – The Steelers are very tough on opposing tight ends. They’ve only allowed one tight end to reach double-digit fantasy points so even though Clay is coming off a great game, we’ve seen him do that and then disappear before. The Troy Polamalu effect could lead to a quiet day for Clay.
Jordan Reed/Logan Paulsen (vs. KC) – No team in the league defends the tight end better than the Chiefs. Reed is still dealing with concussion issues and may not start. Even if he does, I’d steer clear of this match up.
Patriots (vs. CLE) – Call this one a hunch. The Patriots defense just got lit up by a struggling Texans offense but something tells me Belichick goes back to the drawing board and figures out a way to force Caleb Hanie into many turnovers. I like defenses against quarterbacks who are signed on Tuesday of the week they are supposed to start. In 10 career games Hanie has 10 interceptions. Yikes.
Raiders (at NYJ) – Geno Smith has committed 22 turnovers this year. He has 19 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles. The Jets are a complete mess having scored only 3 points in back-to-back games. They are -18 in turnover ratio. If you’re ever going to start the Raiders defense, now is the time.
49ers (vs. SEA) – The 49ers are near the top of the NFC in takeaways with 23 but did you watch Russell Wilson and the Seahawks last week? They look primed for a run to the Super Bowl so I’m going to steer clear of the defense that’s facing them. Stop Marshawn Lynch and Wilson beats you. Play the pass and Lynch will run all over you. Stay away from this one.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.