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. Asher Molk 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 @BraudeM and @AsherMolk.
Before you read my matchups column I would like to give you some advice:
Be sure all your players are active and ready to roll on game day. If your player is a game-time decision, check 30 minutes before game day – if he’s active, check what kind of role he is going to have in the game and make sure he’s not just an emergency option.
This article is written every Wednesday so it doesn’t always have perfect accuracy for who’s playing. I just wanted to go over those because getting a goose egg out of someone is detrimental to your team. Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
Minnesota at Atlanta
With Adrian Peterson likely out this weekend, the Vikings will be a different team. Expect Percy Harvin to be heavily involved as the Vikings only real playmaker. He’s extremely talented and will see touches both through the air and out of the backfield. He’s a high-upside WR2 in this one. Christian Ponder is worth looking at in two-QB leagues because he faces Atlanta’s 26th ranked pass defense – just be weary that he doesn’t have AP in the backfield to draw the defenses attention. Toby Gerhart will draw the start at tailback but hasn’t shown anything special in terms of talent and has a tough matchup against the feisty Falcons run defense – he’s only a desperation flex play. You’d be better off staying away from the other skill players on this team.
Going against a Vikings pass defense giving up the 5th most passing yards per game, Matt Ryan has the look of a QB1. This game has the look of a blowout so I expect Ryan to have plenty of chances against a team that is much worse against the pass. This is not a great matchup for Michael Turner but he has a least 100 yards or a touchdown in 9 of 10 games this season. He cannot be benched in a game that the Falcons will likely dominate time of possession. Roddy White finally broke out last week with 7 catches for 147 yards. With Julio Jones likely out again, White will continue to be a target monster and is a low-end WR1 in this appealing matchup. Tony Gonzalez has touchdowns in three straight and should be started with more confidence any time Julio Jones is sidelined… he’s a solid TE1 this week.
Houston at Jacksonville
With Matt Schaub out for the season, the Houston Texans go from being a Super Bowl contender to a team just fighting for a playoff spot – terrible loss for a promising team. Don’t even think about starting Matt Leinart, he has a tough matchup and the gameplan will be run-heavy. Even without Schaub, Arian Foster is running behind the best offensive line in football – keep him rolling as an elite RB1. Andre Johnson will make his long awaited return this week and should be started in all formats. He’s still an elite WR that can beat even the best cornerbacks – he’s one of those guys you want to start while you “wait-and-see”. Owen Daniels takes a small hit with Schaub out but inexperienced quarterbacks like Leinart often rely heavily on their tight ends so he’ll maintain value as a low-end TE1.
Blaine Gabbert cannot be relied on in any leagues. Completing less than 50% of his passes and averaging 137.2 passing yards per game, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse starting quarterback in football. Even with 41 pass attempts last week, he managed just 210 yards… he’s useless in all leagues. Although he’s stuck in a laughable offense, Maurice Jones-Drew continues to demand respect. Averaging 108 yards per game with five touchdowns, he should be started as a high-end RB2 even against Houston dominant defense. I’m not relying on anyone who needs Gabbert to have value – if you’d like to, be aware that it is extremely risky.
Carolina at Indianapolis
Last week Cam Newton showed why he is second to only Aaron Rodgers in fantasy points this year. Even while displaying his inaccuracy with four interceptions, Newton threw for 280 yards and a touchdown and added 37 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. With 9 rushing touchdowns in 10 games, not only is Newton a good bet for a rushing TD but it’s almost a certainty. Whenever the Panthers get in the redzone, Newton is a great bet for a rushing touchdown. Don’t even think about benching him against the Colts undersized secondary. This is arguably the best matchup of the year for the Carolina backfield. Not only are the Colts allowing the second-most rushing yards per game but there’s a good chance the Panthers will have a sizeable lead for most of this game. This means there will be a solid opportunity for the Panthers to get DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart involved. I prefer Jonathan Stewart because he has a larger role in the passing game but both are high-end flex options in this one. It’ll be nice to see both running backs get enough touches – sadly, there’s a good chance Newton could vulture come touchdowns… Steve Smith couldn’t ask for a better matchup – squaring off with the Colts secondary that struggles with physicality – is a recipe to get Smith back on track. He’s a WR1. I’m still a fan of Greg Olsen as a low-end TE1 because of his consistent targets – hopefully soon Newton can provide him with better throws. All the other pass-catchers on this team are going to be inconsistent – many players are involved in their passing attack and Smith and Olsen are the only ones seeing consistent targets. The Carolina defense is also a solid spot-start on defense this week.
Curtis Painter hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 6 but has managed to throw six interceptions. He’s in a battle with Blaine Gabbert to be the league’s least effective passer. I would love to recommend a Colts running back against the porous Panthers rush defense. The problem is it will very possibly be divvied up between Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Delone Carter – making it a situation to avoid rather than exploit… Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon are highly inconsistent options because of Painter’s lackluster quarterback play. Carolina has a mediocre secondary so I’m expecting similar play from the two of them. Garcon is a low-end WR3 and Wayne is more of a WR4 due to the target distribution. Dallas Clark is out, meaning Jacob Tamme will draw another start. Keep an eye on him – but he’s still waiver wire fodder currently.
Cleveland at Cincinnati
Although he’s started every game for the Browns this season, Colt McCoy is just the 21st ranked quarterback and cannot be relied on. Averaging just 210 passing yards per game, McCoy has thrown for just three touchdowns in his last five games. The Browns are expecting the returns of Montario Hardesty and Peyton Hillis. Both will be spilitting carries and against the Bengals No. 3 ranked run defense, this is a situation to avoid. Josh Cribbs has proven to be the Browns red-zone target over with three touchdowns in his last four games. The problem is he hasn’t topped 56 receiving yards in a game this season and is stuck on one of the league’s worst offenses. Greg Little remains the only Browns receiver I would think about starting. Sadly even with his semi-consistent catches, Colt McCoy drastically caps his playmaking ability – leaving him as low-end WR3.
Despite throwing three interceptions against the Steelers, Andy Dalton showed a lot of potential – exploiting the Steelers’ secondary for 373 yards without playmaker A.J. Green. I’m very impressed by his poise as a rookie quarterback and would recommend him as a stretch QB for those who have lost their starters to injury – however, he faces a Cleveland secondary allowing just 166.5 yards per game, tops in the league. His tough stretch doesn’t end next week either, when he plays the Steelers again… For this week, he’s just a low-end QB2. Cedric Benson’s best game of the year came against the Browns in Week 1 when he carried the ball 25 times for 121 yards a touchdown. There hasn’t been much of a change in the Browns 29th ranked run defense since then so expect similar output. I don’t think he’ll reach 25 carries because of the emergence of Bernard Scott but he’ll still see around 20 and is a high-end RB2. A.J. Green is likely to return this week and was playing at a high level with four touchdowns in five games before his injury. However he’s squaring off with Joe Haden who held him to one 41-yard touchdown catch in Week 1 and the touchdown came on a quick snap when the defense wasn’t set… but he’s improved since then and is a low-end WR2 this week. Jerome Simpson went off with eight catches for 152 yards against the Ravens. With Green back, Simpson won’t see that many targets again and has only broken 50 yards three times this season. He can be started as a WR3 based on matchups – but I’d stay away with the Browns No.1 pass defense looming. Jermaine Gresham almost had four touchdowns in his last five games but couldn’t maintain possession of the ball to send the game into overtime. If you don’t have any better options, he’s a high-end TE2.
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets
Ryan Fitzpatrick started the season red-hot but has cooled down significantly recently. Over his last three games, Fitzpatrick has thrown seven interceptions with just two touchdowns, averaging 182 passing yards. There’s no way I’m starting him in his first game without Fred Jackson against the Jets… With Fred Jackson on the I.R., this offense looks exponentially worse. C.J. Spiller will be the Bills’ lead back going forward but there’s no question he struggles between the tackles so keep an eye on fifth-round pick Johnny White. Neither are great fantasy plays as this is a wait-and-see week but Spiller should see enough catches to maintain low-end RB2/flex PPR value. With just 24 yards in his last two games, Stevie Johnson has to benched – this offense hasn’t been able to generate offense with just 26 total points in their last three games. Unless you’re in a very deep league, I would advise to stay away from the other Bills pass-catchers as well.
Mark Sanchez did nothing to put away doubts that he’s not a starting quarterback last week, losing to Tim Tebow in the final frame. This week he has a much better matchup against the league’s No. 25 pass defense. Going against a sputtering Bills team that just lost their best player – if you’re looking for a spot start, I would advise Sanchez. Joe McKnight played respectably in Shonn Greene’s absence but Greene will return this week after participating fully in practice Tuesday. Look for McKnight to pickup LaDanian Tomlinson’s 3rd down work with his status in doubt. Santonio Holmes was shadowed by future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey last week and it led to a clunker. He’s still averaging under 50 yards a game and has fallen to just a WR3. That said he has a nice matchup this week – making him a high-upside WR3. Plaxico Burress has become noticeably more entrenched in the offense since his three-touchdown performance in Week 7. Still yet to top 80 yards this season and the second-option in the passing game, he’s just a WR3 that is dependent on touchdowns for scoring. Dustin Keller started the season hot but as the Jets moved to a rush-first offense he become more of a TE2. Averaging 49 scoreless yards over his last five games, he’s better suited for a bench spot.
Tampa Bay at Tennessee
Josh Freeman had his best game of the season against the Packers last week, but the same can’t be expected against the Titans. The game will be a lot closer meaning LeGarrette Blount will be more involved and see more touches. This has the opposite effect on Freeman who won’t see the same volume of passes – still he’s a high-end QB2. Blount had a marvelous run last week, breaking many tackles on his way to a 54-yard touchdown run. This week he should be similarly involved, seeing around 20 touches. He’s a RB2 against Tennessee’s respectable run defense. Mike Williams had his best game of the season last week, hauling in seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. While that’s a positive, he’s squaring off with Cortland Finnegan this week so be weary of a clunker but he’s still a WR3 because of consistent targets. The other Bucs WRs continue to cancel each other out for fantasy purposes. Kellen Winslow had a fantastic 9 catch, 132-yard performance against the Packers… considering other than this game Winslow hasn’t topped 5 catches or 54 yards in any game since Week 1 – I’m chalking it up as a fluke. However, Tennessee hasn’t guarded the tight position very well – giving up a 6 catch, 80-yard weekly average – he’s a solid TE1 this week.
Even with Jake Locker showing off last week, Matt Hasselbeck practiced fully and will keep his job as the Titans starting quarterback. With 1+ passing touchdowns in just one of his last six games, expect more low-end QB2 stats. After a dismal effort in Week 11 carrying the ball 12 times for just 13 yards, Chris Johnson has his more interesting matchup of the season. The Bucs defense is ranked 22nd against the run and has struggled since losing their best interior lineman, Gerald McCoy. In my view, this is Chris Johnson’s last chance to save his season – if he doesn’t produce in this one all hope is lost. I’ll call him a high-end RB2 with upside. Nate Washington broke out last week with 9 catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. The problem is that was his first game over 70 yards since Week 3 and those two touchdowns matched his previous total – he’s just a WR3 this weekend. Damien Williams had a tough game, catching only one pass for 16 yards – but he did pace the team with 11 targets. Keep an eye on him but he’s just a WR4 right now. Both Williams and Washington could easily switch off having production weekly because Hasselbeck is only producing enough for one consistent wide receiver.
Arizona at St. Louis
Kevin Kolb is expected to start this week, before his injury he was averaging 243.7 passing yards per game with an 8:8 TD-to-INT ratio – similar stats to John Skelton. This is a juicy matchup for running back Beanie Wells. After starting the season like a RB1, Beanie has just one touchdown in his last five games. With the Rams giving up a league-worst 148.1 yards per game, this is the perfect matchup for Beanie to get hot. He’s a high-end RB2 in this one. Larry Fitzgerald is downgraded a little after scoring in his last three games with Skelton at quarterback. Still, the Rams don’t have a cornerback that can matchup with Fitz making him a solid WR1. Early Doucet was more consistent with Kevin Kolb, so that he’s back Doucet is back on the WR3 radar – just know in most cases there are far more reliable and consistent options out there.
Somehow Sam Bradford continues to show no improvement. He’s yet to throw for more than one touchdown in eight games this season and is averaging just 221 yards passing per game. The Cardinals help make every quarterback look better but he’s just a low-end QB2. Steven Jackson cooled off last weekend with just 61 yards from scrimmage. Look for him to rebound against the Cardinals – he gashed them for 142 total yards back in Week 9. He has the look of a high-end RB2. This is also an exciting matchup for Brandon Lloyd owners. Averaging 11.8 targets since joining the Rams, Lloyd had five catches for 80 yards last time out against the Rams. Now with three games under his belt with Bradford, Lloyd should build on that performance – he’s a WR2. The other pass catchers on this team cannot be relied on; there are simply too many options with too little passing yards.
Chicago at Oakland
Jay Cutler’s injury was very upsetting from a football standpoint as this was his best Bears team. Even in the midst of a five game win streak, it’s now looking like they’re not going to make the playoffs. Caleb Hanie will take over at quarterback. He replaced Cutler in last year’s playoff loss to Green Bay going 13-of-20 for 153 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He could certainly have value in two-QB leagues but shouldn’t be relied on in his first week as a starter. Matt Forte will remain the focal point of the offense; expect Martz to rely on him heavily. He’s an elite RB1 against a Raiders defense giving up a league worst 5.2 yards per carry. Sadly the fantasy value Earl Bennett has accrued is now useless – even in PPR leagues. Don’t trust any Bears pass-catchers this, we must see and wait how Hanie will run the offense before trusting him enough to start his receivers.
Carson Palmer still provided solid fantasy value with passing and rushing touchdowns last week. This week he’s facing a stingy Bears defense that knows they must play well if they want a chance to win; I’m calling him a high-end QB1. Darren McFadden will miss this game and there are concerns about him missing more… Michael Bush could receive around 30 touches and is a rock-solid RB1. He has at least 100 total yards in his last four games, and a touchdown in the last three. Denarius Moore was disappointing last week in a game when fantasy advisors that he’d explode. Moore hasn’t participated in practice this week and looks like a game-time decision – even with Ford out, he’s a banged up – making him a WR3 at best. Darrius Heyward-Bey participated in practice Friday and looks like a solid bet to play. If you need to pick up a receiver from the wavier wire for a spot-start, here’s your guy. He’s a great bet to lead the team in receiving if Moore sits – keep an eye on this situation if you’re desperate.
Washington at Seattle
This is a contender for the worst fantasy matchup of the week. Rex Grossman will likely throw 40+ times against a very good Seahawks rush defense, but we’ve seen this show before- the implosion is coming. He is an incredibly risky QB2 due to his tendency to throw more completions to his opponents than to his receivers. It looks like Santana Moss is making his return this week. With Grossman at the helm, Santana Moss sustained very good WR3 production before he went down- expect that to continue, especially with Fred Davis emerging to take some of the pressure off. Jabar Gaffney hadn’t topped 68 yards in a game before last week’s 115 yard performance- it was a fluke. With Moss coming back, whatever value Gaffney had is shot. Fred Davis will be a mid-level TE against the Seahawks, he’s a very dynamic pass catcher and will certainly be either 1st or 2nd in targets in this game and going forward. There are plenty worse options out there…Its time to give up on Mike Shanahan’s use of his backfield- he continues to baffle people, and its anyone’s guess how the situation will end up. Against a very good Seahawks run defense, the complete guessing game that is the Redskins running back situation carries far more risk than reward, and thus Roy Helu, Evan Royster, and Ryan Torain need to be avoided like the plague in fantasy leagues.
The Seahawks roster is a fantasy wasteland. Marshawn Lynch has “beast-moded” his way into RB2 territory, so keep him going until he reverts back to the unexciting running back he’s been in the past. The Redskins only rank 18th in rush defense…Tavaris Jackson has deviated back to his usual inefficient self- he has one touchdown pass since week 5. Its an awful matchup, as the Redskins are a top-10 pass defense who really get after the quarterback. Outside of deep 2QB leagues, he doesn’t belong on rosters. Sidney Rice has retained some WR3 value over the course of the season, and is by far the Seahawks most dynamic player on offense. Keep expectations low for him, as Jackson may fall flat on his face. The following players don’t even belong on rosters, let alone in your starting lineups: Zach Miller, Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Ben Obomanu, and Mike Williams. They are fantasy non-factors in every sense of the term. You can definitely do better.
New England at Philadelphia
It may appear that Tom Brady is slowing down, but don’t fret- the resulting expectations from his white-hot start were unattainable. There aren’t 3 other QBs I’d rather have than him for the stretch run into the fantasy playoffs. The Eagles’ pass rush that looked much improved against the Giants is a slight concern, but definitely not enough to relegate him to fantasy benches, especially with Nnamdi Asomugha’s status in doubt. I’m not to keen on trusting any of the Patriots running backs. If I had to pick one, it would be BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Eagles give up 4.5 yards per carry, but I wouldn’t want him as anything more than a flex- he hasn’t scored since week 5 and has gotten 17+ carries only twice on the season. He’ll be most effective if the Patriots get out to a big lead. Rob Gronkowski is an absolute beast. He’s overtaken Jimmy Graham as the top scoring fantasy TE, and cannot be benched- he’s only had two games under 74 yards, and one was due to a terrible flu-like illness which he fought through in order to help block. Watch the Patriots in the red zone- Gronkowski is targeted relentlessly. Aaron Hernandez is still a TE1, but is the clear second fiddle to Gronkowski. He and Brady seem to have timing issues, but I would keep the faith and continue starting him down the stretch- the matchups are fantastic and its only a matter of time until defenses pay more attention to his counterpart at TE. Wes Welker will line up in the slot, where the Eagles are incredibly weak- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, and Welker has a chance to catch 8+ balls in a bounce-back game. Deion Branch has been a low-upside but steady WR3, though he may be ignored as Welker racks up the targets in the weak part of the Eagles defense.
With Mike Vick unlikely to suit up, Vince Young gets the nod once again. The Patriots’ secondary is laughable, so the matchup is right to use Young. He really settled down nicely and made some good decisions at the end of the game against the Giants. He’s a low-end QB1, even without Jeremy Maclin. Desean Jackson will once again be the primary target in the passing game- Young found him 6 times against the Giants. He’s a high end WR3, but he’s certainly benchable if you have superior options at WR- he’s proven the busts are much more common than the booms. Move on from Steve Smith and Jason Avant- they caught a grand total of two passes combined last week. The stone-handed Brent Celek caught 6 passes against the Giants, and is climbing his way up the high-end TE2 radar. If you are desperate at TE, he is a decent if low-upside option with Young playing. It’s the same old stuff for Lesean McCoy- he’ll be the featured part of the Eagles’ offense and is a threat for 180+ total yards and multiple scores whenever he suits up- last week was the first time he didn’t score all year. That will change, in all likelihood.
Denver at San Diego
Whether it be in the win/loss column or in the fantasy box score, Tim Tebow somehow finds a way to get it done. The awful mechanics and low pass attempts aside, he is a decent QB1 due to his rushing statistics. The Chargers pass defense is better than their pathetic rush defense, which is great news for Tebow and Willis McGahee, who is a very high-end RB2 this week- the Chargers give up 4.4 yards per carry, and the “option” attack opens holes for him as defenses have to account for Tebow’s legs as well. The only other fantasy option on the Broncos is Eric Decker, who scored in all three of the games before the catch-less performance against Darrelle Revis. Owners need to keep in mind that a clunker is highly likely due to very few pass attempts, but he is still worth WR3 consideration. Lance Ball, Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal cannot be trusted. Ball is useless with McGahee not even on the injury report, and there simply aren’t enough pass attempts on this team to support more than one wide receiver.
It was a typical 2011 Philip Rivers performance last week: a good amount of yards, under 3 scores and multiple turnovers. At this point, it would be unreasonable to expect him to deviate from this statistics in what may be shaping up to be a lost season. He’s a low-end QB1 against a below average rush defense. Ryan Mathews is dinged up (as usual), so he’ll be a low end RB2 option against a Broncos run defense playing pretty well. With him not being at full health, expect Mike Tolbert to siphon a lot of passing downs and goal line carries- he can be considered a mid to low end flex option himself. Vincent Jackson is a mid WR2 this week- he has never been able to figure out Champ Bailey. He should be in lineups due to his tendency to explode, but don’t be surprised if he’s held under 4 catches. Vincent Brown will draw the start with Malcolm Floyd still hurt, so he can again be considered a risky WR3. The kid has flashed some potential though…Antonio Gates has been himself since returning from injury, having caught at least 4 passes and surpassed 54 yards in every game since returning from injury- he’s caught 3 TDs in his last 5 games. He’s a top 3-4 TE whenever he suits up, and presents a matchup nightmare for this Bronco defense. Unless you have Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, he needs to be locked into lineups.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City
This game is one that will likely be over by halftime. The Chiefs looked competitive for the first quarter of the game against New England, but even the Patriots pathetic defense had Tyler Palko and Co. figured out by halftime. I expect the Steelers to dominate much sooner. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers pass attack has been very good- the Chiefs pass defense doesn’t scare anyone. They are 11th against the pass, but that’s because opponents pass less than 30 times per game against them due to their pathetic offense. The Steelers have become a pass-first team, and I think Big Ben will drop back at least 35 times. He’s a good QB1. Antonio Brown has emerged as a fantastic number two opposite Mike Wallace. Brown is a WR2 in my opinion, and is often the primary read on third downs. Mike Wallace may be in a slight slump, but are you really going to bench this top 3 WR? Didn’t think so. Emmanuel Sanders is returning this week, but probably won’t see over 5 targets- he is the clear third option in the passing game after Antonio Brown’s emergence. He’s a WR4. Hines Ward and Jerricho Cotchery are off the radar. Rashard Mendenhall has a fantastic matchup in this one, as the Chiefs rank 28th against the run. In a game that will likely be over by halftime, he could see a boost in clock killing carries. He is the goal line option on this team, and will more than likely punch one in from inside 5 yards. He’s a high-end RB2, but his upside is limited going forward due to the Steeler’s switch to a pass-first philosophy.
I would be more than comfortable not putting any Chiefs in my starting lineup this week. Tyler Palko will draw the start over the newly acquired Kyle Orton, and is a weak-armed scrambler who isn’t sniffing the QB2 radar in this daunting matchup. Dwayne Bowe’s value may have been saved by the signing of Orton, but will have Palko throwing to him for now and will likely be shadowed by Ike Taylor- a recipe for disaster. He’s a WR3 just by name. I’m not trusting Steve Breaston- he may rack up some stats in garbage time, but he isn’t a playmaker…I’d call him a WR4. Jonathan Baldwin is on the very edge of the fantasy radar- not starter material. Jackie Battle has likely had his moment in the sun, and is an RB4 in this game who only contributes in close games or when the Chiefs have a lead- in other words, not this game. Dexter McCluster will probably catch a few passes from Palko, but is too small to really compete. He can be considered a low-upside PPR flex option in this one- they may have to pass a lot in this one, and he’ll get a lot of checkdown looks. In summary, keep your Chiefs on benches if at all possible.
New York Giants at New Orleans
Get Eli Manning and Co. going in this one against a Saints defense that’s ranked 19th in rushing and passing defense. Victor Cruz is fast becoming the wideout to own on the Giants, having been held under 84 yards just once since week two. He has proven to be an every week WR2 in fantasy leagues, and that’s going to continue. Hakeem Nicks is still the player he was last year, but with the other weapons Eli Manning has, he’s not getting the ball forced to him. Consider him a low-end WR1. Mario Manningham hasn’t lived up to bigger expectations this year, having yet to top 77 yards this season. That is very likely to change however, and he’s still catching TDs. He’s a pretty good WR3 with upside going forward. Jake Ballard’s tear had to come to an end sometime- he doesn’t have the athleticism or targets to consistently produce. He’s a low-end TE1. Eli Manning should fare better against a Saints pass rush that’s inferior to an Eagles’ one that bottled him up last week. He’s not a top 5 guy, but is still a fine QB1 until further notice. Don’t be afraid to use him. Ahmad Bradshaw’s status is still “officially” up in the air, but don’t expect him to play. Brandon Jacobs has proven ineffective with his pathetic 3.0 yards per carry- he isn’t going to be anything more than a flex option while you hope for a goal line score. Da’Rei Scott will take over passing duties if Danny Ware is unable to suit up- neither of them are more than deep flex league desperation plays though.
Drew Brees is always matchup proof, and this meeting with the Giants defense isn’t concerning- they are pretty average. They do generate turnovers and sacks, but likely won’t be able to consistently stop Brees. He’s always a top 6 option with the upside to lead QBs in scoring in any given week. Now that Mark Ingram is healthy, the backfield roles that prevailed during the first half the season will reapply. He showed some great potential in the game he went down in, and is always a threat for a TD. Consider him a flex option against a 21st ranked Giants defense. Darren Sproles will rebound from the pre-bye clunker and resume his playmaking ways- he has really surprised owners this season, and the Saints put him in a fantastic position to succeed. He will resume RB2 status in PPR and high end flex status in standard leagues. He’s always a threat to catch 8 passes… The odd man out will continue to be Pierre Thomas, who is in the game for a handful of carries and screen passes- whether he’ll be lucky enough to salvage a touchdown or more than 60 yards is anyone’s guess, but I’m going against those statistics- he’s an unexciting deeper-league flex option. Don’t expect any of these roles to change barring injury. Outside of Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, the receivers are a lottery ticket- rarely boom, mostly bust. Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson may get behind the defense for a long TD, but they don’t get the targets to be any sort of reasonable fantasy option. Lance Moore isn’t very acceptable either, only playing a fraction of his teams snaps. I’ll call him a WR4. Rob Gronkowski has been getting all the attention lately (and rightfully so), but Jimmy Graham isn’t slowing down. He’s had only one game in which he hasn’t scored or topped 78 yards. Don’t get cute and start someone else if he’s on your squad. Colston is by far the best WR option on the Saints, and will continue to move the chains in the middle of the field and be a fantastic red zone target- few receivers are better at catching the ball in traffic. He’s a WR2 with major upside- I’d want him in my lineup at almost any cost.