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.
Arizona at Baltimore
Kevin Kolb cannot be trusted as a fantasy starter most weeks, especially against the Ravens defense. Coming off a terrible loss to the Jags, expect the Ravens to come out hungry against a reeling Cardinals offense missing their star running back… sit Kolb. The Cardinals have been quiet about Beanie Wells’ injury but there is reason to believe he will miss 1-2 weeks. He conceded Monday that it’s “badly swollen” – if he’s on your team, start searching for viable alternative. Considering the Cardinals are playing the Ravens, I’m not going to recommend any of the Cardinals RBs. Alfonso Smith is an undrafted free agent and backup talent at best; he will be splitting with LaRod Stephens-Howling and possibly Chester Taylor. Not only do none of these guys have special talent, but the touches won’t be there either. This could prove to be a tough matchup for Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals will struggle to run and pass, but he’s impossible to sit. On pace for 1,347 receiving yards, don’t over think this one- keep him in your fantasy lineups. Early Doucet continues to be the Cardinals only other notable WR – he’s drawing single coverage and has at least five receptions in three of the last four games. He’s worth WR3 consideration most weekly but I would stay away from him against the Ravens.
Joe Flacco continues to disappoint owners who were expecting a breakout season. He’s averaging only 6.7 yards per attempt and only completing 52 percent of his passes – both are the worst statistically in his four year career. After throwing for just 137 yards on 38 attempts last week, you can hopefully do better for your starting QB. But don’t feel to bad if he’s in your lineup- the Cardinals cannot defend the pass. After Terrell Suggs called out the Ravens’ coaching staff for not getting Ray Rice the ball enough against the Jags, I’m expecting a monster workload against the Cardinals. He remains one of the few true every down backs in the league – chalk last week up as a fluke, he’s still an RB1. Anquan Boldin continued to struggle to create separation against the Jags but salvaged his fantasy day with a TD. Boldin isn’t the WR he used to be and will continue to struggle – sell high while you still can. In this ball-control offense there isn’t enough attempts for Torrey Smith to have production. He’s a third or fourth option on a team that runs the ball often and struggles to get first downs – keep the deep-threat on your bench if you can. Ed Dickson is averaging 37.2 yards per game – he is not an option.
Minnesota at Carolina
Christian Ponder impressed in his first career start, throwing for 219 yards with 2 TD’s and 2 interceptions – also adding 31 yards on the ground. He should that he’s an obvious upgrade over Donovan McNabb but that doesn’t mean he’s a fantasy starter. With Adrian Peterson setting up the pass, there should be places to throw the ball. The Vikings, however, still need to work on their receivers’ effectiveness. As declared by Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson, Peterson is now playing “better than he has at any point in his life.” Currently, that notion is difficult to object. Health is the only thing that can hold AP back in this juicy matchup, so expect more RB1 number from the most violent runner in the league. Michael Jenkins took over as Ponder’s favorite target and caught three passes for a career-high 111 yards and a TD. A repeat of these number are extremely unlikely: not only does Michael Jenkins lack special talent but this is his first 100-yard performance in EIGHT years…. He’s worth monitoring but temper your expectations – he’s only broken 50 yards twice in 7 games this season. Devin Aromashodu led all Vikings WRs with 61 snaps but caught only one pass and can’t be counted on for fantasy production. The Ponder experiment has to excite Percy Harvin owners. With Bernard Berrian gone, he should be an every down player and it looks like Ponder can get him the ball. There have never been any questions about Harvin’s talent and if he gets the opportunity, he will produce. The Vikings have penciled him in for this week and if he can recover from his ailing ribs – he makes for an interesting buy-low. Visanthe Shiancoe pulled out a TD in Ponder’s first start and currently looks like a viable TE2 option – just don’t expect TE1 numbers with the presence of Kyle Rudolph.
Cam Newton continues to impress me with his abilities. He blows by defenses running and stands in the pocket delivering accurate throws on blitzes. Newton is a special talent that will change the way the quarterback position is played – if you’re lucky enough to have him as your QB, keep him rolling. Jonathan Stewart is beginning to separate himself from DeAngelo Williams in all facets of the game. Stewart has proven to be extremely talented whenever given the opportunity but Williams continues to steal attempts each week. Stewart maintains his value through goal-line carries and receptions and looks like a solid RB2/flex play in this matchup. Williams is becoming less valuable by the week and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change. Only 55 total yards a game with 1 TD on the season – he’s a low-end flex play at best… if you have other options, bench him. Steve Smith continues to prove his connection with Newton is not a fluke – already up to 818 yards on the season – you’d be hard pressed to find 4 better WRs in the league. The rotation of Legadu Naanee and Brandon LaFell continues to kill the fantasy value of all Carolina WRs not named Steve Smith. Greg Olsen is coming off a one catch, 4-yard performance – that may have been influenced by his turf toe, so I would advise to keep him on your bench until after this week’s game and their bye in week 9. Jeremy Shockey can’t be trusted – he hasn’t topped four catches or 60 yards in a game yet this season.
Jacksonville at Houston
After running on 64 percent of their plays last week, Blaine Gabbert is off the radar for fantasy owners – even in 2-QB leagues. He looked terrible last week; he has no pocket presence and no receivers. Coming off a win in last week’s RB battle against Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew will continue to see 20 or more touches per game. The Texans are above average against the run, but he’ll hopefully continue with his low-end RB1 production. Mike Thomas had one catch for 8 yards against the Ravens secondary and can’t be counted on for fantasy production. With only one touchdown and 44 yards per game average, Thomas is only a WR4 – going against Jonathan Joseph will make this matchup even more difficult. Jason Hill has had some fluky production – without his 74-yard touchdown, he averaging only 37 yards a game – don’t buy his production on this run-heavy offense. If Marcedes Lewis is still on your team, drop him – he’s waiver wire material.
With Andre Johnson possibly returning this week, things are looking up for Matt Schaub. Coming off a solid two TD performance against the Titans, expect borderline QB1 production in this one. Last week, Arian Foster reminded owners why he was the consensus number one pick before his hamstring injury. Showing prowess in all areas of the game, Foster broke out to the tune of 234 total yards and 3 TDs. Arguably the most valuable fantasy player going forward, Foster is an elite RB1 in all formats. After practicing on Wednesday, Andre Johnson’s status is up in the air. If he plays, he is impossible to sit – in this first three games (not counting the game against the Steelers that he was forced to leave) Andre averaged seven catches for 105 yards to go along with 2 TDs, there are few, if any, more complete receivers in the game. Coach Kubiak was optimistic about Andre’s status but the talented WR revealed that he felt “tugging”, never a good sign for an injured hamstring… Kevin Walter is droppable when Andre returns – being only the fourth option on offense, he’s not going to get enough targets to produce. Jacoby Jones once again failed to produce with Andre on the sidelines, don’t expect him to produce with Andre back… Owen Daniels is an interesting sell-high, he’s still going to have value but he isn’t the first option in the passing game with Andre returning – therefore, his production will decrease. This week however, he has an juicy matchup against a Jags defense that has struggled against quality tight ends – he’s a TE1.
Miami at N.Y. Giants
Looking like the headliners for the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes, the Miami Dolphins are still without a victory. Matt Moore has played three games, is averaging 189 yards a game with a 1-3 TD-to-INT ratio… for these reasons and many others – keep him benched. Daniel Thomas has been receiving plenty of touches but hasn’t been able to generate offense. He was held out of practice Wednesday and has struggled to produce at less than 100 percent. Unless he gets two straight days of practice under his belt, don’t expect a big game. The Giants will control this game and expecting production from Thomas is tough – he’s a risky RB2. If Thomas misses the game, Reggie Bush would provide a nice RB2/flex bye week plug-in. He’ll get around 18-20 touches against the Giants. The Dolphins will be playing from behind so Brandon Marshall should have a solid game – he’s a high-end WR2 in this one. Davone Bess had a team-high 12 targets last week, which led to 7 catches; this is fluky – Champ Bailey was all over Marshall last week leading to short dump-offs for Bess - he’s averaging only 46.7 yards a game, keep him benched. All other Dolphins pass-catchers are irrelevant and therefore not options in fantasy leagues.
The Dolphins pass defense has struggled, allowing 12 TDs with only two interceptions on the year. Although I do expect a regression soon – due to his inflated yards per attempt at 9.1 compared to his career average of 6.9 – Eli Manning has done surprisingly well this year. I would consider him a solid sell high, but he’ll put up solid QB1 numbers in this juicy matchup. Coming off a huge game before the bye week, Ahmad Bradshaw will continue to provide solid numbers even with the return of Brandon Jacobs – just temper your expectations, he’s not receiving 26 carries again. Coming off the injury, Jacobs isn’t someone you want in your lineup – averaging only 43.8 total yards per game, you’re betting on a TD… Hakeem Nicks continues to be the mega-talented WR owners drafted early, don’t expect it to stop now – he’s locked and loaded as a WR1 this week. After a tough start to the season, Mario Manningham is on the verge of breaking out. Worth looking at as a buy-low, Manningham had four near-touchdowns in his last game – the talent is there, the production is coming…. He’s a WR2 this week. During the bye week, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride called out Victor Cruz for inconsistency. There’s no question he’s talented but inconsistency will be a problem considering he has to compete with other playmakers on this team. He’s the third passing-option on a balanced offense – he’s a boom-or-bust WR3 play against the Dolphins. Jake Ballard has continued to impress Giants coaches, showing he’s not just a blocker – let’s wait for him to receive more than five targets before calling him a fantasy starter. He’s a TE2.
New Orleans at St. Louis
Last week, the Saints provided fans with the first 60-point game in the 21st century. Drew Brees led the attack completing 31-of-35 passes for 325 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. You don’t need me to tell you to start in against the Rams… With Mark Ingram likely out, there will be more carries to go around at running back for Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Against the Rams defense that gave up 253 yards to DeMarco Murray last week, they are both solid RB2s. Thomas will pick up the bulk of Ingram’s carries – Sproles will continue to provide value through his passing-down role. After three straight solid showings, it’s obvious Marques Colston is back. Colston and Jimmy Graham are options 1A and 1B on the NFL’s second best passing offense. Averaging 341 passing yards a game; expect both to continue to produce very well at their respective positions and don’t let the big names fool you – Jimmy Graham is the best TE in football right now. Robert Meachem and Lance Moore can produce at any time in this pass-heavy offense but predicting their big games will be near impossible – keep them benched, you’ll need an injury for consistent production.
With Sam Bradford likely to sit again this week, the Rams offense takes a significant hit. Maybe the worst fantasy option in the league, A.J. Feeley belongs on the waiver wire. This game will be a blowout; the Saints are the far better team, which will lead to decreased production from Steven Jackson. He’s still worth a RB2 start but temper your expectations – this game will get out of hand in a hurry. After receiving a team-high 12 targets in his debut, Brandon Lloyd will need Bradford back to provide WR2 numbers – but should have WR3 value in a game filled with plenty of passing attempts. Keep all the other Rams pass-catchers out of your starting lineups.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
After three straight solid showings, Curtis Painter took a big step back against the Saints. At this point, not only does Painter have little to no value but one has to worry about his ability to get the ball to Colts pass-catchers. Joseph Addai sat out of practice Wednesday; it doesn’t look like he’s going to play this week. Don’t be fooled by Delone Carter’s solid showing last week, splitting carries with Donald Brown leaves both as undesirable options. Carter is the better bye week plug-in but splitting carries on an offense that struggles to move the ball in a recipe for disaster. After a solid Week 1 showing, Reggie Wayne has averaged 3.8 catches for 53 yards a game – without a touchdown. He must be benched until proven otherwise. Pierre Garcon has stepped up as the Colts most productive pass-catcher since the change to Painter. He led the team with six targets last week but can only be counted on as a WR3 in fantasy leagues. Austin Collie and Dallas Clark cannot be started – they both belong on the waiver wire.
Matt Hasselbeck’s season went down the drain when Kenny Britt went down. While he’s not a bad play in QB2 leagues, most owners can do better for a bye week plug-in. No longer in his prime with wide receivers who struggle to separate, Hasselbeck is not the QB you want in your starting lineup. Chris Johnson has continued to disappoint fantasy owners and I see no reason for it to end now. The Titans line hasn’t been good, but neither has Johnson – even Texans players claimed he wasn’t the same after last week’s blowout. Against a beatable Colts defense, I’m calling CJ a RB2 … The Colts secondary has been destroyed by big WRs the last few weeks, Nate Washington may not be big but he warrants WR3 value in this plus matchup. Damian Williams sat out the second half of last week’s loss with concussion-like symptoms – don’t both using him until he proves otherwise. I would love to recommend Jared Cook based on raw talent along but snaps and targets remain a serious concern; with only two targets last week, he’s a TE2.
Washington at Buffalo
John Beck impressed coach Mike Shanahan last week with a solid performance, but there’s no reason to get excited. With No. 1 receiver Santana Moss out, Beck will fail to provide even QB2 numbers – he’s a poor talent on a poor offense without the team’s best receiver… The Redskins backfield has been tough to predict all season and after Tim Hightower’s season-ending injury, this week provides us with another opportunity to guess. If last week is any indication, Roy Helu will start – last week he played 33 snaps compared to Ryan Torain’s measly 3 snaps… however last week the Redskins were playing catch-up and while I do expect them to fall behind in this one, it will not be that drastic. I believe Torain will get the early down work because Shanahan doesn’t believe Helu is an every down back. Helu will be in for passing downs and is a decent flex for PPR leagues, but give Torain the nod in non-PPR. Jabar Gaffney will attempt to fill Santana Moss’ void but has no after the catch ability and struggles to create separation – he’s a decent PPR WR3/flex but offers little upside in non-PPR. The biggest beneficiary of the injury is Fred Davis. He’s formed a nice rapport with Beck and should receive extra targets due to the injury… consider Davis a solid TE1.
Coming off the bye week, Ryan Fitzpatrick should continue his consistent low-end QB1 production. He makes good reads but doesn’t have the arm strength of an elite QB; expect more of the same. Averaging 5.7 per carry and scoring TDs in 5 straight games, Fred Jackson is for real. The Redskins have been mediocre against the run; he’s a RB1 this week. Since the injury to Donald Jones, C.J. Spiller has been included in the Bills offense as a WR. After catching five balls for 39 yards in Week 6, he looks like an intriguing flex play in PPR leagues – don’t be afraid to plug him in if you’re desperate. Scoring in four of six games this season, Stevie Johnson has been solid as a WR2 – expect more of the same from him. David Nelson has been up-and-down this season but overall has 60+ yards or a TD in all but one game – you could do worse for a WR3. Neither of the Bills TEs are options in fantasy leagues – leave them on the waiver wire.
Detroit at Denver
Matthew Stafford was limited in practice on Wednesday and looks about 50/50 to play this weekend. He’s a QB1 in their pass-heavy offense if he plays, but be prepared with other options. Shaun Hill is plenty capable as a backup and should be a high-end QB2 if Stafford doesn’t play. Hill averaged 260 yards passing and 1.6 TDs per game last year and should be effective against Denver. It’s been confirmed Jahvid Best will sit out till the Lions’ Week 9 bye, leaving Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams one more game to share the backfield. Once again, while splitting reps, neither will get the touches for fantasy consideration and neither has the talent to have a big game. Morris is the better bet but I wouldn’t want to rely on him against the Broncos run defense playing better than expected. With either 100+ yards or 2 TDs in each of his seven games this season, Calvin Johnson is unstoppable… Burleson has been anemic since the first two games of the season and with one yard receiving last week, he’s droppable. Titus Young has the talent to be a good WR one day but with only 28 total yards in the past two weeks, he can’t be relied on. Even with a sub-par performance last week, Brandon Pettigrew has emerged as the second-option on this pass-heavy offense; he’s a solid TE1 going against the Broncos this week.
Tim Tebow’s performance last week wasn’t pretty but in typical Tebow fashion, he got the job done. With two touchdowns through the air and 65 rushing yards, he managed a solid QB1 fantasy performance. The Broncos, hopefully, will do a much better job of putting Tebow in position to succeed. The Dolphins continued to blitz Tebow recognizing his inability to release the ball quickly. The Broncos should’ve countered with quick routes and screen passes – however they failed to do so. There are even rumors that the organization doesn’t want to see Tebow succeed – hopefully this week will dispel that notion… Either way, Tebow is the Broncos goal line back and finds ways to fill up the box score – he’ll maintain value in the long run. For this week he’s facing a much tougher Lions defense, he’s a low-end QB1. With Willis McGahee out for a month, Knowshon Moreno is expected to start. He’ll get some early down carries and will serve as the team’s third-down back – expect RB2 production. Lance Ball, the team’s power back, will take the short yardage and goal line work – leave him on your bench and see how the Broncos use him. The Broncos’ passing game is going to be inconsistent, leaving Eric Decker as an unreliable WR3. The Brandon Lloyd trade helped his value but I would prefer to see a rapport between Tebow and Decker before relying on him in fantasy leagues. Demaryius Thomas led the team with 10 targets and is an intriguing flier. He’s not going to have value immediately but may be the most talented WR on this roster and was Tebow’s favorite receiver against the Dolphins… keep an eye on him.
New England at Pittsburgh
In Tom Brady’s last four meetings with the Steelers, he has 9 TDs and only one interception – don’t over-think this one… the Patriots will spread the Steelers out and attack their cornerbacks; play your star QB. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been consistent and has a good chance to score weekly in this high-powered offense – he’s a RB2. Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley cannot be trusted – neither has consistent touches and both belong on fantasy benches this week. Averaging 131 receiving yards a game, Wes Welker has been fantastic this season – Brady and Welker possibly have the best chemistry of any QB/WR duo in the league; he’s an elite WR1 as usual… With Aaron Hernandez in the lineup, Deion Branch has come to life: averaging 91 yards per game through 4 with Hernandez, he’s an intriguing WR3 play in non-PPR and a solid WR3 in PPR. Even with his BiBi Jones drama, Rob Gronkowski is a TE1 – he has 5 TDs in six games and will continue to produce effectively. Aaron Hernandez is no slouch either with at least 5 catches in each game he’s played this year and TDs in three of four; he’s a TE1.
Ben Roethlisberger has enjoyed the Steelers move to more spread formations recently, to the tune of a 9:1 TD-to-INT ratio over his last three games. This week he’ll go against New England’s 32nd ranked pass defense – play him. Rashard Mendenhall struggled against the Cardinals last week but remains a low-end RB1 in this one. He is the unquestioned starter and we know he’s talented – he should get more chances this week against New England. Mike Wallace has scored in five of seven games this year and is an elite WR1 against the burnable Patriots defense. At 35 years old, Hines Ward has held the Steelers offense back all year – he’s slow and stops the explosive Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders from getting on the field. The question this week becomes will Ward play; I believe he will, but if he doesn’t Brown becomes a WR2 against the Patriots secondary in a shootout. Sanders moves up to a WR3 in a game that the Steelers will have to pass to keep up. However if Ward does play, Brown is only a WR3 and Sanders is merely a desperation play. Make sure you keep an eye on this situation. Even with two TDs in his last three games, Heath Miller is merely a TE2 – with these WRs, there are few plays drawn up for him.
Cleveland at San Francisco
The Browns emerged from the year’s least entertaining game last week with a win – that’s the only positive thing to take away from their performance. Colt McCoy is averaging 42 pass attempts per game, but has topped 215 yards just once – a terrible sign. Even with the emergence of Greg Little, McCoy is the lowest of the low-end QB2s, and you should try your best to not put him in lineups against a fantastic 49er defense. With Peyton Hillis set to return, the Browns may even scale back the pass attempts. Stay away. Speaking of Hillis, his return is a welcome sight for the Browns. Montario Hardesty failed to seize his opportunities – he couldn’t even garner 100 rushing yards on 33 carries. Hillis is a lower-end RB2 against this stellar run defense ranked 2nd in the NFL and Hardesty, who isn’t a fantasy option, caps his upside. Greg Little is the only Browns receiver who deserves a roster spot, and his after the catch abilities complement McCoy’s weak arm very nicely. The upside isn’t too high because of his situation and matchup, but roll him out there as a decent WR3 if you need to. No other Browns pass catcher is worth mentioning other than Evan Moore. A big, athletic TE who is a red zone monster, he would be an option as a fill-in TE play with Ben Watson likely inactive.
Arguably the biggest surprise of the NFL so far, the 49ers took a 5-1 record into their bye week. With Alex Smith doing enough to not lose games and their defense playing at an elite level, they have proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Smith has played better on the field than his stats show, but sadly that’s what matters in fantasy. He is a guy whose upside is 200 yards and a score or two against the number 1 ranked pass defense – leave him benched. Michael Crabtree has finally shown signs of life recently as a WR3, but he gets shutdown corner Joe Haden in this one. He received 15 targets against the Lions before the bye – he’ll be targeted which is sometimes enough, but it would be optimal to get another option in your lineup this week. Braylon Edwards is set to come back from his injury this week, but it’s a wait-and-see week for him. The only optimal part of the 49ers passing game is TE1 Vernon Davis. The box score has been a little sluggish for him this season, but he still saves fantasy performances with touchdowns. The future is bright however – with the emergence of Crabtree and Smith looking as steady as ever, he has a great matchup against a Browns team that has a strong pass D, but gives up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing TEs. This could be the first game where he combines a nice yardage total with a score. In this contest, the 49ers will rely heavily on the running game, which bodes well for the white-hot Frank Gore, who has three straight games with 125+ yards and a score. Although fantastic against the pass, Cleveland is slightly below average against the run, and Gore should see at least 20 touches. A mid-low end RB1, Gore needs to be in lineups and is a good bet for a score. Talented rookie Kendall Hunter has looked great, but has proven to be the backup to Gore. Keep him rostered, but he’ll only see 8-10 touches in this one barring an injury.
Cincinnati at Seattle
Coming off of a bye week, Cincinnati looks to continue their surprise season rolling against an injury-riddled Seattle Seahawks. The major headline coming out of Bengals headquarters is that Cedric Benson will serve his one-game suspension this week. This puts Bernard Scott on the fantasy radar as a possible RB2 during the bye weeks. Having consistently flashed more speed and playmaking ability than Benson, it will be intriguing to watch what Scott can do with a full workload – he’s succeeded in this endeavor before. Temper expectations because of the Seahawks elite run defense, but he’s a fine play this week. Andy Dalton has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie. Averaging 218 passing yards per game with a 7:5 TD-to-INT ratio, he’s proved more than capable of keeping this offense afloat. Despite this, he’s just a QB2 on a run-first team. Dalton’s competence has allowed AJ Green to show his superstar potential. Surprisingly consistent for a rookie, Green has only had two games in which he was held without a TD, but in one of them he still managed 118 receiving yards. Until Dalton begins to show he’s really a rookie, Green needs to be a fixture in lineups as a WR2/3. It’s not a good sign for Jerome Simpson that his coach was dissatisfied with his 6-101 performance against the Colts. He has flashed some ability with two 100+ yard games this year, but he hasn’t topped 44 yards in the other four. This passing offense only has enough volume to consistently feed one pass catcher, and that’s AJ Green. Simpson is a deep league bye week plug-in, only due to his inconsistency and his place in the coach’s doghouse. The last Bengals offense player worth mentioning is Jermaine Gresham. He’s been a decent TE2 with 3 TDs, but is only averaging 38.5 yards per game. Hopefully he isn’t your starting TE, but play him if your starter is on bye if you must. Just keep in mind he’s a low-upside play against a Seahawks team giving up only the 20th most fantasy points to tight ends.
To be perfectly honest, your fantasy roster would likely look a whole lot better if you didn’t own any Seattle Seahawks. Charlie Whitehurst has continued to confirm the notion that he does not have what it takes to be in the NFL even as a backup, as illustrated by his Jamarcus Russell-esque 12-30 for 97 yards and a pick against the Cleveland Browns last week. This makes Doug Baldwin and Mike Williams completely hands off, and Sidney Rice as desperate injury/bye week option who might be more likely to post a doughnut than catch a TD with check-down-machine Whitehurst likely taking the reigns. It doesn’t look like Tavaris Jackson is ready to return from his injury. Speaking of injuries, it looks like Marshawn Lynch is headed for a game-time decision, even if he does play, he may see a reduced role. Hopefully you don’t have to choose between Leon Washington and Justin Forsett, but if you must, go with Washington. He seems to be the lead back when Lynch is out, and got 11 touches (4 catches) for 49 yards last week. That said do not do your opponent the favor of starting any of these RBs. Zack Miller and Ben Obomanu are to be left on the waiver wires.
Dallas at Philadelphia
Get your Cowboys rolling in this one. Tony Romo may have disappointed last week if you just looked at the box score, but he was incredibly efficient without turning the ball over – it was just simply Demarco Murray’s day. He’s a perfectly fine QB1 this week, despite the Eagles pretty good pass defense and secondary – they’ve given up 11 TDs through the air, tied for 8th most in the league. The Eagles’ pass defense is still quite good, but that’s no reason to bench your Dallas WRs. Dez Bryant finally got it going in the second half last week, going for 5-90-1. There’s more than a decent chance he puts up top 10 receiver stats the rest of the way, and he can be considered a mid-low end WR1 this week as well. Miles Austin has been unexciting since his return from his 3-week absence. Not to worry though, he and Romo have fantastic chemistry, and he also has a very good chance to finish the year with top 10 WR numbers. Trot him out there in what has the chance to be a high scoring affair. Jason Witten is as consistent as they get. There has been only one game this year in which he hasn’t scored a TD or surpassed 100 receiving yards, and even in that game he caught 6 balls for 60 yards. Always Romo’s safety blanket, he is a high floor TE1, as usual. Last week’s hero Demarco Murray has another dream matchup with the Eagles rush defense, or at least their best imitation of rush defense. With defensive line injuries and sub-par linebackers, they constantly let opposing runners accelerate into the secondary for large gains. Only three teams have given up more fantasy points per game to opposing RBs than the Eagles. Expecting another 200-yard performance is obviously unreasonable, but if he gets the carries he could easily surpass 120. Get him in lineups – he’ll see a nice workload with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice nursing injuries.
Just like the Cowboys, all of your usual Philadelphia Eagles should be in lineups. Still an incredibly explosive option, Michael Vick is coming off a nice week of rest and is ready to go. His weapons are all there, and he will see a high volume of pass attempts due to the Cowboys’ number 1 ranked rush defense and the potential for a shootout. Always a good bet for a rushing score, he’s a top 3 QB option this week. Lesean McCoy will be facing a defense giving up under 70 rushing yards per game, but you’re never benching him. He is an integral part of the passing game, and always makes defenders miss. Ask his fantasy owners – he NEVER puts up a clunker. He has scored a TD in every single game so far this season, and been held under 80 rushing yards just once. He is easily one of the top 5 fantasy RBs. Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are both top 15 WR options this week against a middling Cowboys secondary. They may be ranked 14th against the pass, but that’s because of whom they have faced: St Louis, New York Jets, San Francisco, and Washington – not exactly a group of gunslingers. Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick are always burnable, and Terence Newman has seen better days. Jason Avant is only a PPR bye week filler, and Brent Celek doesn’t even belong on rosters.
San Diego at Kansas City
There have been speculations of injury, but whatever the case, Philip Rivers has clearly not been himself. Although he’s still averaging 285 passing yards per game, Rivers has a measly 7:9 TD to INT ratio. He has yet to throw for more than two TD passes in a game, and even multiple TDs in a game hasn’t happened since Week 2. He’s thrown two picks in four of the six games he’s played, and simply has not passed the eye test as of late either. It would probably be a good idea to start even someone like Tebow over him until he figures it out – he’s a low end QB1 or even borderline QB2 until further notice. Ryan Mathews will likely continue his breakout 2011 campaign against a 25th ranked Kansas City rush defense giving up upwards of 125 rushing yards per game. He has propelled himself to RB1 status due to his recent opportunities in the run game and at the scoring stripe. As for his counterpart Mike Tolbert, he has dropped to flex status this season. Although he still catches a few passes and may even get a goal line score here and there, it’s clear that Mathews is the alpha-dog in this backfield. He still contributes in the receiving game, but has gotten double digit carries just twice this year. That said, you could probably do worse as a flex option against a below average Kansas City defense. Just beware he has missed some practice this week and if he misses the game, Mathews becomes a top 5 option at RB. Vincent Jackson was Darrelle Revis’ latest victim last week, only catching one ball for 15 yards. An excellent buy low, he is a good bet to put up WR1 numbers from now to the end of the season – his schedule becomes dreamy. Even with Rivers’ struggles, Jackson will still get his. He also should be helped out by the return of Antonio Gates, who came back in style with 54 yards and a score. Who knows how long he will be healthy for this time, but whenever he’s on the field he needs to be in fantasy lineups. He is still one of the most dominant red zone threats in the game, and Rivers locks onto him whenever the Chargers are inside the opponent’s 20. Malcolm Floyd is nothing but a dicey, low-end WR3. Rivers simply isn’t playing well enough, and there are just too many mouths to feed in this offense. If you are crunched due to the bye weeks, go ahead and plug in him- but a sub-60 yard game is more than possible.
After losing their best offense player (Charles) and defensive player (Berry), the Chiefs were written off as one of the favorites for the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes. But they have shown they have heart, coming into this game on a three game winning streak. I was one of many people to write off Dwayne Bowe’s monster season to easy matchups, but I must now eat my words – the man can seriously play. With virtually no supporting cast until recently (and even now it’s not overwhelming), he has been a model of consistency: only one game without a TD or under 76 receiving yards. Even as the Chiefs only explosive offensive threat, defenses have failed in stopping him. Bowe is a must start until further notice and is a high end WR2, even against a Chargers defense giving up a mere 175 passing yards per game. Matt Cassel has found a rhythm in the past month, averaging 226 yards per game with a 5:2 TD to INT ratio during the three game winning streak. However, he is not a recommended option against a (as mentioned earlier) fantastic Chargers passing defense that ranks 3rd in the league against the pass. He always runs the risk of throwing 2+ interceptions and passing for under 180 yards – he’s a bye week filler at best. Steve Breaston has been the biggest beneficiary of Cassel’s recent success, averaging 4.3 catches for 68 yards per game and two scores during the winning streak. This success is unlikely to continue, but he can be considered a WR3 until the bye weeks pass or until he cools down – keep expectations low. Speaking of low expectations now is a perfect time to mention Dexter McCluster. Once considered to be the main beneficiary of Charles’s injury, he has fell on his face. Even during the recent hot streak, McCluster has rushed for a total of 72 yards on 21 carries. He can’t even salvage any value in PPR leagues, catching a grand total of five balls for 19 yards his past three games. Still scoreless on the season, his upside is 70 total yards – not the kind of stuff you want in your fantasy lineup. Desperation flex option is a generous title for him. Jackie Battle has emerged as the workhorse back in Charles’ absence. A nice story, this ex-special teamer has averaged 17.5 carries for 97.5 yards per game in the two games since being called upon as the starter. The Chargers weakening front seven let a player with a similar skill set (Shonn Greene) put up 112 yards against them last week, so this is a good excuse to lock Battle into lineups. He doesn’t possess the game-breaking ability of a prototypical NFL back, but he can get what’s blocked behind a mauling offensive line. He’s arguably a top 20 RB this week.
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