1 O’Clock Games
Houston (21st) @ Buffalo (32nd)
Steve Slaton is an automatic start regardless of matchup. The Bills defense isn’t as bad as you would assume. The offense makes their job a lot more difficult because they don’t stay on the field long enough. Earlier in the season I thought that Moats might usurp Slaton if he struggled but that’s not going to be the case now that Slaton has turned it around in a big way. Chris Brown continues to vulture some of Slaton’s carries, even in short yardage situations but that doesn’t make him a viable option either.
Texans: Slaton +1
Runnin’ for money!!! Marshawn Lynch is fighting for every inch right now and you have to love it. The Texans defense isn’t the stoutest so you know Lynch has a bulls eye on this game to put up big numbers. The nice thing about Lynch is that he is a complete back and will get work in the passing game as well. Unfortunately Fred Jackson’s role in the offense continues to diminish. My theory is that since Lynch is going to be a free agent the Bills are piling the carries on him; I believe they want to keep Jackson, who was effective during Lynch’s suspension, fresh for next season.
Bills: Lynch +2, Jackson -1
Cleveland (31st) @ Chicago (18th)
Remember how awesome that Bears defense has been for several years? Well they are a shell of their former selves now. I hate the Cleveland Browns in fantasy football this season. Most horrible teams, they at least give you 2 offensive players you can start. The Rams always give you Steven Jackson then you can slide Donnie Avery or something in there. But the Browns give you nothing. Earlier in the season when Jamal Lewis was hurt Jerome Harrison was a nice start. Now both Lewis and Harrison are totally useless. If Jamal Lewis would just get hurt or benched this whole problem would be solved. I am still head over heels (Junior High style) in love with Jerome Harrison as a stash and an awesome Keeper for next year in leagues where they make you sacrifice the round you chose the player in.
Browns: Lewis -1, Harrison -2
Frustrated Matt Forte owners; here’s the game you’ve been begging for. There’s no reason Cutler and company shouldn’t hang 35+ on these scalawags. I can see Forte scoring 2 touchdowns and racking up 25 or more in PPR. Speaking of guys you could play in deep leagues if you’re stuck, let’s talk about Garrett Wolfe. He is basically a stash but there could be some garbage time touches for him here.
Bears: Forte +4, Wolfe +3
Seattle (14th) @ Dallas (16th)
The ceiling on Julius Jones is extremely low. Best you can hope for is that he gives you 60 or 70 yards a game and one touchdown per two games played. Worst case scenario is that he loses his job due to ineffectiveness or gets hurt. The Cowboys are 16th against the run so this should be a straightforward matchup for him. You can’t put Justin Forsett in there unless you’re really stuck for a player to start.
Seahawks: Jones 0, Forsett -1
You have to use the Law of Modus Tollens or something to figure out who is going to get what touches and in which situations for the Cowboys. The only running back on that team I’d want to own right now is Tashard Choice as a stash for if/when Barber and Jones get hurt again. Seattle’s defense is actually respectable so you have to roll Barber out there and Jones, too if you are need of another flex guy.
Cowboys: Barber -1, Jones -1, Choice -2
St. Louis (27th) @ Detroit (20th)
I don’t get that excited about Kevin Smith or the Lions offense in general. This week I sort of am, though. The Rams can’t stop anybody right now. Their only hope is to play against teams that are so futile they stop themselves. In all honesty the Lions have been professionals at doing that for years but this offense could be somewhat respectable once everyone is back and healthy.
Lions: Smith +3
There is little good to come out of St. Louis since the Spirit of St. Louis was flying around the country, but Steven Jackson is here to rival Lindbergh and his stolen baby. SJax is a beast and going against Detroit this week he will take on the whole team by himself (as he usually does) and finally get into the endzone. You can take it to the bank! Or wherever you take your fantasy football pride dollars and stash them away.
Rams: Jackson +5!
Denver (3rd) @ Baltimore (7th)
Remember how everyone gave the Rams offense too much credit for being good years after the “Greatest Show on Turf” had ended? That is what’s happening with the Ravens. We all think they are better than they are. They have been exposed several times this season so don’t discount the possibility of the Broncos running backs being effective in this game.
Broncos: Moreno +1, Buckhalter 0
The Bronco’s defense is not secret at this point but neither is Ray Rice and his studliness. He would be a must start against the ’85 Bears. I have been saying for weeks now that McGahee should be traded because of his touchdown only value and injury questions. I would be wary of playing him unless you are really, really short on players this week.
Ravens: Rice -2, McGahee -5
San Francisco (6th) @ Indianapolis (19th)
Frank Gore didn’t answer a lot of questions last week. At least he didn’t get re-injured. The 49’ers should try and pound the ground game to keep Peyton off the field and their defense isn’t particularly stout against the run. Gore might have a fairly productive game. Right now Glen Coffee is a great stash but not someone you can put in the lineup this week.
49’ers: Gore +1, Coffee -1
Brown is out and Mike Hart will take over for him. Addai and Hart sounds like Poe could do something with that pair. Addai should get a little more work that usual, but if you are in a 20 team league and are having bye trouble, throw Hart in there. Mike Hart For Hire! The Niners rush D is good, but they haven’t looked like the same team and will have to be geared up to stop Peyton. Start Addai.
Colts: Addai +1, Hart -2
Miami (4th) @ NY Jets (22nd)
I knew the Jets rush defense was somewhat over rated but didn’t realize they have given up 116 yards per game on average. The loss of Kris Jenkins for the season is going to make it even tougher for them to stop the run. I would enthusiastically start both Ronnie Brown and Rickie Williams on Sunday.
Dolphins: Brown +1, Williams +1
The loss of Leon Washington for the season makes way for Shonn Greene to emerge as a viable fantasy back. His debut last week was stellar but don’t expect that every Sunday. I am interested to see how they split things up in the offense; Washington used to get most every passing down and some work in the running game with Jones as the feature back. Greene is more of a pure runner than Leon was so he may get a few more carries but expect the Jets to work him in to a similar role that Washington had.
Jets: Jones 0, Greene -1
NY Giants (11th) @ Philadelphia (15th)
We’re still waiting on that three touchdown game, Brandon Jacobs. At this point you would take a one touchdown game out of him. It’s shockingly obvious that last season he was “runnin’ for $” and he just isn’t going to deliver the same production he did. Even so he’s a feature back who gets all the goal line work and you have to like that. The Giants announced that Bradshaw is dinged up but they have no plans to shut him down at all. If you are short on players feel free to throw him in there as a flex option but don’t expect a huge game out of him.
Giants: Jacobs -1, Bradshaw -3
It’s hard to tell if Brian Westbrook will play (and if he does, how much he will play). Quantifying these two as starts is a little tricky so make sure you pay attention to the situation all the way up until game time. As of right now I’m going to value them based on Westbrook receiving a diminished role and McCoy getting most of the work but this could all change.
Eagles: Westbrook -2, McCoy +1
4 O’Clock Games
Jacksonville (13th) @ Tennessee (9th)
I am not creative enough to invent a sensible debate about whether or not you should start “Pocket Hercules.” Remember last week when some “experts” at ESPN were debating whether or not people should be sitting Adrian Peterson? How did that work out, by the way? Play your studs. Period.
Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew 0
The Jaguars are only giving up 99 yards per game on the ground this season- I thought it was much higher than that. Part of that is due to the ineptitude of their passing defense. The Titans have announced that they will roll self proclaimed “future Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer” Vince Young out there on Sunday. Expect a heavy dose of the running game. Chris Johnson should have a monster day due to the extra carries (and receptions when Vince checks it down). LenDale has been flat out disappointing this season but this could be a breakout game for him.
Titans: Johnson +4, White +2
Oakland (30th) @ San Diego (28th)
It doesn’t get much better than this matchup-wise if you own Raiders players. Both Justin Fargas and Michael Bush are legitimate starts against a struggling Chargers defense. The Raiders should stick with the running game regardless of the score because they can’t really throw the football.
Raiders: Fargas +2, Bush+2
I love both Tomlinson and Sproles in this game. LT wants to put up numbers in the worst way and I like his chances of doing so on Sunday. Sproles get a respectable workload as it is but could see even more touches if the Chargers get ahead.
Chargers: Tomlinson +3, Sproles +2
Carolina (26th) @ Arizona (1st)
DeAngelo Williams is another stud running back that you can’t sit regardless of matchup. The Cardinals defense looks better every week. Jonathon Stewart is usually a solid flex play but given this matchup I’d use caution; only start him if you really have to.
Panthers: Williams -2, Stewart -4
The running back situation in Arizona continues to get murkier. It looks like Wells will be handling the “traditional” carries while Hightower will be in during passing situations and getting the goal line work. Against this week Panthers defense I like both of them.
Cardinals: Wells +2, Hightower +2
Minnesota (10th) @ Green Bay (12th)
You should definitely sit Adrian Peterson (sarcasm). Play “Purple Jesus” unless you are devoid of self respect and common sense. Chester Taylor is an option for you in PPR if you’re really stuck but he’s nothing to get excited about.
Vikings: Peterson 0, Taylor -1
I have been predicting doom for Ryan Grant for a while. Then he goes out there last Sunday and lays wood. He is an obvious must start in this game. Brandon Jackson remains a decent stash.
Packers: Grant -1, Jackson -2
Atlanta (23rd) @ New Orleans (8th)
Michael Turner is either going to take off from here or regress. The Saints defense, much like the Cardinals, is over-shadowed. I still question whether or not they are as good as their ranking but time will tell. The guy who has really impressed me the last few weeks is Jason Snelling. Since Jerious Norwood has been sitting out Snelling has taken advantage of the opportunity given to him. Don’t expect big production from him but he is an option to put on your roster for the week if you are short on players.
Falcons: Turner 0, Snelling +1
It’s time to play that game where we try to figure out who is going to be productive in New Orleans. I discussed the splitting situation in last week’s ground game preview. Splitting carries between two players is the norm but I really can’t stand it when teams break it up three ways. Reggie Bush is slightly more valuable in PPR because of the receptions and Mike Bell is slightly more valuable in non-PPR because of the touchdowns. Pierre Thomas is the same in both formats because he is yard-oriented.
Saints: Thomas +1, Bush 0, Bell +1