Hello again Razzball readers! I’ve really been enjoying contributing to Razzball so far and I look forward to answering more questions and helping more fantasy teams. Mike Braude and I will be working as a team and editing each other’s columns so feel free to ask either of us any questions; we’d love to help! And check us out on Twitter at @AsherMolk and @BraudeM
Oakland at San Diego
Carson Palmer has done a good job of getting the ball in the hands of Oakland pass-catchers and has shown he still has a little left in the tanks. That said, he’s still just a QB2 this week against the Chargers. Darren McFadden’s sprain is concerning to fantasy owners but all you can do is sit him right now. Michael Bush has proven to be effective whenever McFadden sits, expect a similar performance – he’s a RB2 with upside. Darrius Heyward-Bey was mysteriously absent against the Broncos last week; he only saw 12 snaps and can’t be relied on in fantasy leagues. Jacoby Ford was one of my sleepers before the season because of his athletic prowess, game-breaking speed and Hue Jackson’s apparent liking to the youngster… I’m excited to see what he can do with Palmer, he’s a WR3 in this matchup but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit him because of the Raiders unpredictability. Denarius Moore is another interesting player, he has speed, maturity, and elite ball-skills (as shown in his Week 2 performance) – the problem is he’s being shadowed by opponent’s best cornerback most weeks… he’s more of a wait-and-see than a WR3 this week but don’t be fooled, there’s possible upside here.
Philip Rivers has been a huge disappointment this season and there’s speculation it’s injury. Even after a four touchdown performance against Green Bay, I don’t have a lot of confidence in him – the large volume of passes is reason alone for his breakout performance. He forced a lot of passes and was wildly inaccurate – I’m calling him a high-end QB2 with no bye weeks this week. Mike Tolbert was fantastic for fantasy owners in replacing Ryan Mathews last week, but moves back to a flex play with Mathews return. Tolbert will still receive 10-12 touches and has scored in half of his games so you could do worse… Mathews has a juicy matchup with the Raiders giving up the fourth most – 139.6 rushing yards per game. Plug him in immediately as a high-end RB2. After three straight duds, Vincent Jackson finally broke out to the tune of seven catches for 141 yards and three touchdowns, now is not the time to sit him – he’s a WR1 this week. Malcom Floyd will miss another week with his ailing hip, giving Vincent Brown the start. He had a solid game last week playing catch-up against the Packers, but with less pass attempts I would leave him on the bench. Antonio Gates is always a good bet when he’s playing, recording three out of three solid games – he’s a TE1.
New Orleans at Atlanta
Don’t sit Drew Brees now, or ever… with a touchdown pass in 36 straight games, he’s a QB1. Pay close attention to whether or not Mark Ingram is active because it has an impact on this backfield situation, Darren Sproles however is unaffected either way. The Saints have showed they’re going to get him the ball and in turn, Sproles has shown he will produce. With at least five catches in each game this year, the PPR beast will continue to do more of the same. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory have been splitting whatever is left over. Last week Ivory saw 15 touches while Thomas recorded 12, this leaves both as flex plays against Atlanta’s respectable run defense. If Ingram does suit up, pay attention to whether or not Ivory is active, if Ivory is active – this is a situation to avoid completely. If he’s inactive, expect Ivory’s 15 carries to go back to Ingram. After going run heavy last week, expect the Saints to pass more against the Falcons. Marques Colston has let owners down the last two weeks but don’t expect the trend to continue. Colston should get back on track this week – he’s a high-end WR2. Jimmy Graham has been an absolute beast all year – he’ll continue as Brees’ favorite target… The rest of the Saints pass-catchers are extremely difficult to predict and will provide you with unnecessary frustration. The snap counts differ weekly and the Saints use each WR for different things. Lance Moore is my favorite of the three but has less than four catches in four of his last five – inconsistency will be consistent.
Matt Ryan had one of his best performances of the year last week against the Colts, totaling 275 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. I have been on his bandwagon for a breakout all year but I am jumping off it right now. Here’s the problem – the Falcons are winning with their conservative attack and there’s no reason to stray away from it. There’s evidence to back this up in his stats – Ryan had an average of 41 pass attempts his first four games (the Falcons went 2-2) compared to an average of 28 pass attempts the last four (the Falcons went 3-1). One could argue he had a great game last week on only 24 pass attempts but I would argue it was a fluke. Julio Jones single-handedly saved Matt Ryan’s performance – not every week will he be able to account for 164 yards. He made an unbelievable catch for a 50-yard touchdown on a poor thrown ball into triple coverage and caught an 80-yard touchdown on a slant – there’s no question Julio can help Ryan but he can’t save him. Since the conservative shift, Ryan has broken 220 yards once in for weeks, so don’t huge numbers… In turn, Michael Turner has gained steam with this offensive switch and has produced when given the opportunity. He has 100 yards or a touchdown in each of their past five games. Roddy White, besides Michael Vick, is my favorite buy-low for the second half. He’s proven that he’s an elite WR – averaging 1,282 yards in the last four seasons. This year he’s on pace for only 1,002 yards; there’s no injury to blame for this regression and I expect a breakout in the second half from one of last year’s best receivers. Julio Jones, as previously mentioned, is an absolute beast – this is not a fluke, this kid is going to be one the best receivers in the league for years to come, in this matchup he’s a WR2. Continuing to fight old-age weekly, Tony Gonzalez has done a great job. Matt Ryan’s favorite red zone target is a lower-end TE1 this one – mainly because he lacks upside in terms of yardage.
Houston at Tampa Bay
Going against the Buccaneers run defense giving up the 7th most rushing yards a game, expect the Texans to go run heavy in this one. Running behind the best offensive line in football, Arian Foster should be his usual self, churning out fantasy points every play – he’s the number one fantasy player this week…. Matt Schaub is not a recommend play this week – he only had 119 passing yards this week, and while it would be silly to expect that kind of performance again, his upside is limited and he’s a QB2 in what will be a run-dominated attack come Sunday. While it’s risky, Ben Tate wouldn’t be a bad flex play this week – he’s going to receive around 12 carries and has averaged 8 per carry – the problem is the volume limits his production… With the bye looming in Week 11, Andre Johnson will likely rest this week. He’s too important to rush back and the Texans have been perfectly fine running the ball. Based on the fact that the Texans will be run-heavy this week, the only pass-catcher I would even begin to rely on is Owen Daniels. The rest have been inconsistent and aren’t worth playing when there are bye weeks.
Against a solid Houston secondary, I would prefer not to have Josh Freeman in my starting lineup. He lacks upside because the Bucs don’t throw the ball down the field, even Mike Williams has turned into a possession receiver. With only 8 TDs in ten games, he’s only a QB2 this week. LeGarrette Blount has become the Bucs best offensive weapon – the problem is he doesn’t play on passing downs and the team falls behind so quickly he has trouble making an imprint on the game. He’s a solid RB2 but lacks big upside in a game that his team will fall behind. Coming off another dud, Mike Williams is becoming increasingly difficult to rely on and I’m starting to wonder if last year was a fluke. He cannot beat double coverage and his teammates haven’t been able to open things up for him. Still without a 100-yard game this season, Williams has become better in PPR leagues but is still no better than a WR3. All the other Bucs pass-catchers have been inconsistent and can’t trusted in fantasy leagues – even Winslow is averaging less than 40 yards a game, he’s only a TE2.
Arizona at Philadelphia
Kevin Kolb will be missing his second straight game; expect John Skelton to be atrocious against the Eagles elite secondary. This is a good week to play the Eagles defense… This has the look of a plus matchup for Beanie Wells, but he hasn’t been able to cut on his injured knee and doesn’t look like himself – Wells needs a game of rest before he’s able to produce at a high level again. He’s a low-end RB2 after the clunker against the Rams. Larry Fitzgerald cannot be benched but will square off with Nnamdi Asomugha and could struggle with Skelton at QB… he’s only a WR2 in this one. You could do worse than Early Doucet for a flex play but I would suggest not starting any other Cardinals pass-catchers. This could get ugly in a hurry.
The Eagles have struggled so far this season, but the Cardinals are just what the doctor order. Prone to big plays and defensive mistakes, DeSean Jackson should finally have his breakout game. He’s a WR1 in this dream matchup, but I would suggest selling high immediately after – this one trick pony can’t go over the middle, isn’t a red zone target and teams aren’t allowing him to beat them with the deep ball. While we’re discussing trading, Michael Vick is currently my favorite buy low. He’s proven he’s elite and I have no doubts about a big second half. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be fine – this week the only QB I’d rather start is Rodgers… LeSean McCoy is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL and has scored in eight straight… the only player I’d rather have starting this week is Arian Foster and not by much. Jeremy Maclin is the more complete WR on this team but for this week only I’d rather have Jackson playing. Don’t hesitate to start Maclin though; he’s still a low-end WR1 in a plus matchup. Brent Celek has become more involved in the offense lately but I’d still call him a TE2.
Washington at Miami
John Beck is the definition of a check-down machine, compiling 14 catches for 105 yards with running back Roy Helu. The problem with checking down is the team doesn’t get enough yards to get first downs – Beck not even close to playable in fantasy leagues. Roy Helu, on the other hand, benefits from Beck’s ineffectiveness and after receiving 64 of the 67 offensive snaps looks like the starter. Following a 146-yard performance against the 49ers, he’s a RB2. Jabar Gaffney is difficult to trust, since Beck has been ruled the starter he’s had two 40-yard performances, luckily he caught a touchdown in one. I’m staying away from all Redskins WRs because of Beck’s inability to throw the ball downfield. Fred Davis has proven to be Beck’s favorite target and is a TE even after last week’s game.
Matt Moore had a nice three touchdown performance against the Chiefs last week, but after throwing only one touchdown in his previous four games I don’t want him anywhere near my teams… Reggie Bush has played well in his last two games and can be trusted as RB2 in fantasy leagues even with the return of Daniel Thomas. After last week, I don’t expect the Dolphins to limit Bush’s touches – he’s providing the spark the offense has been looking for. I can’t recommend Daniel Thomas to fantasy owners, he ran the ball seven times for 12 yards last week… use this week as a wait-and-see for him. After being targeted at team-high eleven times last week and breaking out to the tune of eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown – Brandon Marshall must been in fantasy lineups as a high-end WR2. No other Dolphins WRs can be trusted, most weeks Moore doesn’t throw for enough yards to have more than one fantasy starter on his team.
Denver at Kansas City
Tim Tebow showed his enormous potential last week – rushing for 118 yards and throwing for 124 yards with two touchdowns. He didn’t have a fantastic game but because of his running stats he’s immediately a low-end QB1. As I’ve been saying from the beginning, as long as Tebow is playing he will have fantasy success. Perhaps the biggest surprise of last weekend, Willis McGahee ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns with a broken hand. Running the option with Tebow helped open up gaps for McGahee – his stats cannot be ignored, he’s a high-end RB2 in a game that he’ll likely receive over 20 touches as the lead back. Eric Decker produced again and is definitely Tebow’s favorite target. The problem is with Tebow starting; the running game is featured – meaning only 21 pass attempts for Tebow. Decker can and will produce but he’s an inconsistent WR3. With so few pass attempts, no other Broncos pass-catchers can be recommended.
On pace for 18 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions on the season, Matt Cassel isn’t good enough to warrant serious fantasy consideration. After falling behind early, Jackie Battle only received 15 touches last week and couldn’t get anything going. He should have an easier time against the Broncos but remember he’s not a special talent and only really gets what the offensive line gives him – he’s only an RB2/flex play. On pace for 1,292 yards and 8 touchdowns, Dwayne Bowe will draw Champ Bailey’s coverage but can’t be on fantasy benches because he’s simply too consistent. Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin will switch off producing weekly. Breaston had a nice game last week and saw a team-high 11 targets – he’s a WR3. After last week’s clunker, Jonathan Baldwin can’t be trusted – he’s immensely talented but needs to show consistency before he’s in lineups.
Tennessee at Carolina
Matt Hasselbeck has been limited in practice and shouldn’t be relied on in fantasy leagues. Chris Johnson finally got over 100 total yards from scrimmage last week and can hopefully put a streak together this week against the Panthers run defense giving up the sixth most rushing yards per game. We’ve seen what he can do and I’m not putting him below a RB2… After only touching the ball fives times last week, Javon Ringer can’t be in fantasy lineups – wait-and-see how Johnson does before inserting him into lineups. With 72 receiving yards in the last three games, owners should have someone better than Nate Washington to start – still, he’s not a bad desperation flex. Damien Williams is an intriguing player to keep an eye on but hasn’t been consistent enough for fantasy leagues. Titans coaches still haven’t included special-talent Jared Cook enough on offense for him to have consistent production.
Cam Newton will continue his stunning rookie campaign – don’t expect it to end, this guy is the real deal… The Carolina running back situation has been frustrating for fantasy owners this year but I imagine Jonathan Stewart will start getting more touches in the coming weeks. Stewart has received more carries than DeAngelo Williams the last two weeks and is the much better receiver out of the backfield. It’s about time they forget about Williams’ contract and worry about what’s best for the team. The problem is with Newton as the team’s goal-line back there’s not enough to go around, leaving Stewart as a low-end RB2 with upside and Williams as a mere flex option. Averaging an unfathomable 114.8 receiving yards per game, Steve Smith is a top-5 option almost every week. Greg Olsen is second on the team in targets (52) and has proven to be a capable TE1. Just keep in mind Shockey’s targets (41), keep Olsen from being elite.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Since the change to the spread attack, Ben Roethlisberger has been much more effective. Big Ben has some extremely talented young receivers, and he’ll continue to put up QB1 numbers in a game that the Steelers will struggle to run the ball. Rashard Mendenhall’s story is no different – he’s a talented running back that hasn’t broken 13 carries the last three games. This game could be different if the Steelers come out on top early and can sit on the ball – he’s a solid RB2. On pace for 1,543 yards and 10 touchdowns, Mike Wallace is among the league’s elite – don’t ever sit him. With Emmanuel Sanders out with a knee operation, Antonio Brown will continue to produce as a low-end WR2. Talent is not a question when it comes to Brown, only opportunity and a team like the Steelers will not keep him off the field for the likes of Hines Ward… Speaking of Hines Ward he should not be anywhere near your starting lineup. I would not be surprised to see Heath Miller’s production continue with Sanders out. Miller has had a nice three game stretch and is a solid TE2 currently.
Andy Dalton is playing at a very high level for a rookie QB, with a TD-to-INT ratio of 12:7; he looks like he could be the real deal. That said, you don’t want a QB averaging 212 passing yards per game as your starting QB… Going against Pittsburgh is far from ideal for Cedric Benson. He’s not included in the passing game and will have to generate yards or touchdowns for value – he’s a low-end RB2 against this tough run defense. A.J. Green has shown he is going to be a great WR for years to come. He has elite ball skills, body control, and has shown nice chemistry with Dalton. Green has true WR1 potential, but squaring off with Ike Taylor this week leaves him as a WR2. Jerome Simpson has shown some promise but you don’t want him playing against the Steelers. The same goes for Jermaine Gresham who has been banged up recently.
St. Louis at Cleveland
Sam Bradford made his return last week throwing for 255 yards and an interception against the Cardinals, the league’s fourth worst pass defense. This week he’s going against the league’s best pass defense… sit him. Steven Jackson has proven he has a lot left in the tank with either a TD or 100 total yards in each of his last five games. He’s a high-end RB2 against Cleveland’s 30th ranked run defense. With Bradford back, Brandon Lloyd has just what he needs for the stretch run – a quarterback who can get him the ball. Josh McDaniels runs a vertical offense that throws the ball down the field – this led to Lloyd’s explosion last year with the Broncos. Don’t expect the stretch run to be any different this year but he does have a tough matchup with Joe Haden this week – leaving him as a WR2. Bradford loves to throw to the slot, leaving Austin Pettis (Greg Salas’ replacement) with significant value in PPR leagues – keep an eye on him. With injuries to Danario Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Greg Salas, and Lance Kendricks – stay away from anyone else on the Rams.
If you’re considering starting Colt McCoy this week, good luck. He’s throwing for 5.7 yards per attempt, as a team that is second worst behind the Jaguars… Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty will both be out in Week 10, leaving Chris Ogbonnaya as the starter. This is a very good matchup against a bad Rams run defense but he’s averaged 2.9 yards per carry and doesn’t look anywhere close to an NFL talent. He’s merely a flex play against the Rams. Greg Little has a lot of potential physically, but with his rookie growing pains and McCoy’s weak arm – it doesn’t look like it’s happening this year. He’s only a flex in deep leagues. There have been talks of getting Joshua Cribbs more involved in the defense but I wouldn’t rely on someone that has played every game and has yet to top 56 yards. Fantasy owners shouldn’t be worrying about anyone else on this atrocious offense.
Buffalo at Dallas
Without bye weeks looming, Ryan Fitzpatrick shouldn’t be in starting lineups. He’s not bad but he lacks upside. Fred Jackson had another 100 total yard performance and continues to show he’s not going to slow down. Averaging 149.3 total yards per game, he’s a RB1. Stevie Johnson had a tough matchup with Darrelle Revis last week and managed to save his fantasy day with a couple circus catches. He has a much more favorable matchup against Terence Newman this week but is yet to top 100 yards in a game this season – he’s a high-end WR3. David Nelson is the only other pass-catcher I would play on the Bills, but his consistency hasn’t been there. Averaging only 50.3 yards per game, I’d rather have him on my bench.
The Cowboys have under-achieved in terms of fantasy players as much as any team besides the Falcons. I see Tony Romo getting going in this game, as it should be a shootout. He’ll probably throw a few picks with the Bills creating a lot of turnovers, but they’re allowing the 8th most passing yards per game. Romo played well last week and should continue in this plus matchup. I doubted DeMarco Murray but now is the time to admit I was wrong. The big, fast, physical running back is extremely talented – Jerry Jones compared him to Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson this week and it’s easy to see why he’s excited. Coming off a 186-yard performance, he should be in lineups as a low-end RB1. Felix Jones will out again this week. With Miles Austin out, Dez Bryant should be targeted heavily. It didn’t happen last time but Bryant was also a little banged up – I’m calling him a high-end WR2 with upside. Laurent Robinson is also a solid play this week – he’s shown good chemistry with Romo and I’d confidently start him as high-end WR3. Jason Witten as always is an elite TE play; don’t even think about sitting him.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
There is not too much to report here in a matchup of two of the worst fantasy offenses around. Maurice Jones-Drew continues to be the only player in Jacksonville worth a roster spot in 10 or 12 team leagues, let alone worth a starting. He may be in for a second half regression due to teams stacking the box. But he is still mid-low end RB1 material in this game. Blaine Gabbert has been truly awful, and can’t be on any rosters regardless of league size. Mike Thomas’s talent is going to waste, and he can safely be dropped. Jason Hill and Marcedes Lewis belong on the waiver wire as well. None of these guys can be started in any league, especially with no teams on bye.
How bad has Curtis Painter been recently? There is talk of him being benched for the famous Dan Orlovsky. After showing some promise, he has fallen off the QB2 radar. Reggie Wayne has turned into a WR4, falling in the pecking order behind Pierre Garcon who is the only bright spot in this passing game. He can still be started as a WR3- Painter locks on to him completely. Dallas Clark and Austin Collie are in Jason Hill and Marcedes Lewis territory. Drop them. Just like everyone in this game not named Jones-Drew or Garcon, this backfield situation needs to be avoided if at all possible in a tough matchup. Joseph Addai is highly questionable to play- even if he did, he’d be a pretty rotten flex option. Delone Carter was benched due to last weeks fumble, and cannot be in any lineups at all. Donald Brown has been the most productive out of the bunch- the first round bust may be finally shedding his label. He is probably the best bet out of these RBs for fantasy production, but don’t count on it. He’s a flex play in deep leagues.
Baltimore at Seattle
Joe Flacco stepped up big last week in a critical spot. He has a great chance to keep it going against the Seahawks, who field a very good run defense but a shoddy pass defense. He’s a low end QB1 in this matchup. His two primary outside receiving targets will be Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Boldin has proven to be a very solid WR2 in standard and even better in PPR leagues. Although he is definitely showing his age, you aren’t sitting him until he begins to actually tank. He is a fine top 20 option this week. Torrey Smith gets open deep at least once or twice per game- whether Flacco finds and connects with him is anyone’s guess. Due to this boom or bust factor, he is a WR3. Ray Rice does have a tough matchup, but he’ll rarely turn in a clunker due to his receiving prowess. You are not sitting him, ever. Keep him rolling as a very high end RB1. The Ravens TEs could be a real fantasy asset if they only used one of them- sadly, that is not the case. Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson continue to cancel out each other’s value, with no end in sight. In a week with no teams on bye, they shouldn’t be in lineups.
This one is going to be short and sweet: in a terrifying matchup against the Ravens, get every single Seahawk out of your lineup. Please. Tavaris Jackson reverted to the erratic QB we know he is- he is a desperate, desperate play at QB2. Seattle’s most talented receiver, Sidney Rice, is a WR4 against this great defense. Doug Baldwin has proven to be a nice little find for them, and is a low-upside WR3 in PPR leagues this week. Simply put, there is no other pass catcher on this squad even worth rostering. Marshawn Lynch didn’t play like himself last Sunday- he actually played…well…good. Don’t expect that to continue against a top 3 Ravens run defense that will be daring Seattle to pass. Leon Washington and Justin Forsett aren’t even rosterable outside of 16 team leagues.
Detroit at Chicago
The injury to Jahvid Best has turned the backfield into a fantasy wasteland. His playmaking and pass catching abilities have been sorely missed, as Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams have not been viable options. Williams is droppable, and Morris is a low upside flex option at best. Hopefully we can do better in a week with no byes. Calvin Johnson continues to be the dominant force he’s been all year. No team has had a prayer of containing him all game, and its doubtful the Bears and their below average pass defense will be the first to find a way. He’s a top 2 WR every week. Titus Young and Nate Burleson continue to cancel each other out- neither has provided consistent or viable fantasy production to consider starting outside of 14+ team leagues, and even then it’s a stretch. Brandon Pettigrew has been the passing game’s safety blanket all year, and is a constant red zone target. He’s provided very decent TE1 production, and against the Bear’s Cover 2, he should be open plenty. Matthew Stafford remains a QB1- he has been remarkably consistent, throwing for at least two scores in all but one game this year. The Bears should give him too much trouble, and he’s a top 7 option weekly.
Matt Forte continues to prove he’s one of the best RBs in the game. Fantasy wise, he is at worst a top 6 RB. His consistency has been remarkable- only once has he been held under 100 total yards in a game. Although the touchdowns haven’t been plentiful, he makes up for it by racking up the yardage. His floor is incredibly high, making the tough matchup against Detroit not seem so scary. Jay Cutler has begun to found a rhythm due to more balanced play calling and an improving offensive line. In his last 4 games, he’s passed for between 208-267 yards and sported a 6:2 TD to INT ratio. He isn’t quite a QB1, but you could do a lot worse as a QB2. But the balanced attack comes with a price, one that is paid by the Bears’ wide receivers. Johnny Knox has surpassed 60 yards only once on the season, and Devin Hester is maddingly inconsistent outside of return yardage leagues. I’m not buying Roy Williams and Earl Bennett. Williams is a shell of his former self- he’s only got 25 targets on the year. Earl Bennett has never provided consistent fantasy production, and I’m not expecting him to start now. He could be a low-end WR3 in PPR leagues, but that is his upside. In reality, the receiver to own in Chicago is Forte.
New York Giants at San Francisco
Eli Manning has been absolutely remarkable this season- he’s on pace for over 4,700 yards and 30 scores. He has been every bit a QB1, but the matchup is tough here- he is a more than adequate starter, but don’t be afraid to bench him if you have another good option. But he has provided many teams who stacked on RBs and WRs early in the draft with fantastic value. Ahmad Bradshaw is highly questionable this game, but even if he plays he is a mere flex option. Its unlikely he will get a full complement of touches against a 49ers defense ranked number 1 against the run. Brandon Jacobs will likely get most of the carries, but his best bet for fantasy production is a goal line score in this nightmare matchup. If Bradshaw doesn’t go, Jacobs is a low end RB2. If they are both active, then they are flex options. Jake Ballard goes as Manning does- he has also been white-hot. Its likely that you have better options, but Manning clearly trusts him- he is a TE1 until further notice. With Hakeem Nicks expected back this week, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham are relegated back to high end, high upside WR3s. You should find a way to start them. Nicks says he is feeling good, and is a high end WR2 in this one. He is too explosive to ever sit.
The 49ers have proven to be one of the NFLs best teams, but they are hardly a fantasy juggernaut. Alex Smith is a low upside and undesirable QB2- he’s surpassed 201 yards one time this year. Vernon Davis has fallen out of must-start and TE1 territory. His production has been dragged down by the conservative offense, and has been blocking quite a bit. Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards are clear cut WR4s- this passing game is too anemic to support consistent fantasy production. The best option on the 49ers all year has been Frank Gore, who despite his slow start has over 100 yards rushing in his last 5 games and a TD in 4 or them. He has a slightly gimpy ankle though, which is something to keep an eye on, but he is still an RB1 in this plus matchup.
New England at New York Jets
Tom Brady’s production had been very slightly lacking until last week’s game, but the man is simply matchup proof. He still passed for 321 yards in this year’s first meeting with the Jets, and is too good to bench unless you have someone like Cam Newton or Mike Vick as well. Wes Welker may see a lot of Darrelle Revis in this one, but the amazing rapport between him and his quarterback is too good to consider benching him. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski continue to be TE1s. It is telling that with the game on the line last week, Brady looked to Gronkowski on three straight plays in the red zone, converting on the last one. Hernandez continues to split out wide and never block- something a WR does. He provides a lot of matchup problems for defenses. Deion Branch hasn’t topped 36 yards in his past two games, and should probably be out of lineups against this shutdown secondary. The backfield continues to be a fantasy mess. Kevin Faulk should be active, but is only an option as a flex in deep, deep PPR leagues. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the best bet to score in this backfield, making him the de facto fantasy preference. Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley are off the radar for now.
In a week with no byes, Mark Sanchez is a mid QB2 in a great matchup. I wouldn’t be starting him outside of two QB leagues though- although in his last meeting with New England he threw for two scores, he threw for an Alex Smith-like 166 yards. I have no answer as to why the Jets are under-utilizing Santonio Holmes– he is by far their most talented offensive player, but their refusal to give him the ball more puts him in WR3 territory. I’d want him in my lineup this week though. I’m not buying Plaxico Burress still. He had a very productive game last week, but he is still a high to mid WR4. He’s an option in deeper leagues due to this matchup, but try not to start him in 10 or 12 team leagues. He could easily bomb. Dustin Keller hasn’t scored since week two, but has put up 50+ yards in his last 3 games. He’s barely a top 12 option. Shonn Greene is a low-end RB2, as usual. He has been pretty consistent recently due to his large workload, but this middling talent is never going to be a gamebreaker. Its very interesting that they took him out at the goal line last week in favor of LaDanian Tomlinson, who is a mere flex option at this point in his career. He doesn’t get enough touches to be a real contributor.
Minnesota at Green Bay
It figures to be quite chilly on Monday night in Green Bay, which means…you guessed it: a heavy, heavy dose of Adrian Peterson. In the only two games he hasn’t scored in, he still put up at least 83 total yards. Concerns about his supporting cast affecting his production have proven to be unfounded- he is the most talented runner in the league, and nothing is capable of stopping him. He even flashed some receiving skills to the tune of a 5-76-1 line in week 8. Christian Ponder has been mighty impressive, considering he’s a rookie who many considered a second/third day draft pick. He is worth QB2 consideration in this one because he may throw 30+ times in a game where Minnesota could find themselves down in a hurry. Percy Harvin is beginning to come alive, and the bye week came at an excellent time for him- he says that his rib pain is mostly gone. He should be used as a WR3 in this one. By now, you know the drill- Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Kyle Rudolph, and Visanthe Shiancoe are only even rosterable in very deep leagues. Don’t start them.
Aaron Rodgers is playing at a level that has possibly never been seen before in the NFL. He has yet to have a passer rating below 110, has only thrown for less than three scores twice this year, and has passed for under 297 yards once- last week when he threw 4 touchdowns. He is carrying fantasy teams to victory on his own. Greg Jennings has enjoyed an unbelievably consistent year- in the two games he hasn’t scored, he has 15 catches for 201 yards. You’re not benching him. Jordy Nelson has catapulted himself into WR2 territory, and there is no evidence of him slowing down. James Jones has somehow continued to find the end zone even on a meager amount of targets. At this point, he is a WR3 worth starting consideration every week. The running back situation hasn’t changed- James Starks is the lead dog, but Ryan Grant is still capping his upside. Grant isn’t a fantasy option, and Starks is a decent flex and sees most of the passing down work. But with John Kuhn siphoning goal line carries, the upside is incredibly limited here. Jermichael Finley is a big game waiting to happen – don’t sit him unless you have Graham, Gates, or Witten.
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