So I just picked up Fifa 12 the other day, you know, for the other football, and I’m getting really into the online “Head-to-Head Seasons” (hit me up on twitter if you have Fifa and wanna play some time @jbgilpin) where you are matched up against a comparable team and a comparable opponent.  I don’t really have a favorite soccer team (I just love Fifa, it’s my favorite sports game), but I hate playing with a team that is a money-grubbing juggernaut, so I usually play with Arsenal, which I know spends a lot of money as well, but they’re no Barcelona, Real Madrid (if you like soccer and know their line-ups, it really makes you wonder if their payrolls are a big factor in Spain’s economic crisis) or Man U.

But every time I play, I get matched up almost exclusively with those teams.  It’s so frustrating playing against people using them…

…On to American Football and the best fantasy sport in the land, and it’s pretty much the same deal with any team that owns Aaron Rodgers.  It’s just unfair what he’s doing right now.  He came pretty close to topping Michael Vick’s ridiculous “video game” performance on Monday Night against the Redskins last year, but I think it’s pretty safe to say Rodgers is the best QB in the league right now, both for fantasy and in real life.

For us mere mortals that don’t have Rodgers on any team, we’re now entering the grind of the bye weeks (well when Rodgers has his, owners will be scrambling as well) where key matchups and sleepers are going to be called upon to fill your studs’ shoes.

Last week didn’t go so hot for my picks, but I am going to use the excuse wagon a lot here.  At least Eric Decker proved me right with a huge game, Michael Jenkins had the ultimate 1 yard 1 catch game with that catch being a TD that gave you 6 points, and Reggie Bush didn’t do much, but at least had 65 yards and 2 catches.  Peyton Hillis and Javhid Best both had slow games, but man, was I wrong on Steve Smith… He and Newton sure gashed the Bears all afternoon.  Owen Daniels and Dwayne Bowe also had pretty nice games if you stuck with them.

What really grinds my goat (I don’t think I got that phrase right at all) was Jeremy Shockey’s TD that was called back on a pass interference that they wouldn’t have even been called a foul in the WNBA.  Just watch.  And watch Charles Tillman’s body language as soon as Shockey catches it.  He’s like, “man, I wish I had better cleats…”  But do not fret!  Apparently if you’re at home and you fall down, it’s a penalty on the away team.  That would have given Shockey a 63-yard, 1 TD game, and then of course Greg Olsen gets the ultimate garbage TD with 4 seconds left with the Panthers down 11.  So yea, I guess I was wrong on Shockey outperforming Olsen.  Eesh.  Andre Caldwell had an awful game as well, with the preposterous Bills’ pick-6 bouncing off his hands and catching a ball on the 3-yard line but unable to score.

With a new week comes the hope of keeping your winning ways going or turning around your slumping team (I’m more in the latter grouping with my teams), along with a new week for me to get some better calls out there.  So here’s some guys I like to step up this week as bye-week fill-ins or solid subs, and some guys to think about benching (along with their % start figures on ESPN & Yahoo, respectively).  With bye weeks claiming numerous big-name players, don’t take my benchable guys too seriously if you don’t have legit back-ups.

Possible Starters

Isaac Redman (20.3%, 30%) It’s looking more and more like Rashard Mendenhall is going to miss Sunday’s game against the Titans, and with Mewelde Moore also out, it’s going to be all Redman.  The Steelers O-line is still atrocious dealing with injury after injury, but somehow Redman is averaging 4.9 yards a carry despite that.  Big Ben is beat up, and Pittsburgh is going to persist getting their ground game going.  I like at least 60 yards and a score, and that’s pretty conservative at that.

Stevan Ridley (9.8%, 27%) Danny Woodhead is Danny Wood-ankle right now, and BJGE isn’t putting up nearly the numbers that rookie Steven Ridley is lately.  And on Sunday, the Patriots get the Jets, who don’t have your typical run-stopping defense that we’ve seen the past few years.  I see the Patriots getting up early and Mark Sanchez only marginally bouncing back after looking like a high school QB against the Ravens, giving Ridley a lot of touches to build his rookie numbers and take over an even larger share of New England’s backfield.

Preston Parker (1.7%, 10%) Parker has pretty much come out of nowhere to become a pretty reliable slot guy for the Bucs, and this Sunday against 49ers with the NFL’s best run-D, I expect a lot of 3-man WR sets and a lot more work for Parker.  He’s gotten 4 catches or more in 3 of the first 4 games, and will also have a shot on kick-off returns if you’re in a return yardage league.  I think another 5-catch, 60 yard affair with the optimism of a second week in a row with a TD is pretty realistic.

Andy Dalton (2.2%, 6%) More a gut call than anything else, I think Dalton has his best game as a pro against the Jaguars this Sunday.  Cedric Benson’s appeal is still pending, so he’ll still be anchoring a mediocre run game that I think Jacksonville will be able to minimize.  Even with the league’s worst offense, their run-D is still 12th in the league, holding up against teams with leads trying to run it down their throat.  I don’t expect this game to be any sort of shootout, but I think Dalton will get more than a couple red zone opportunities and will be playing extra-confident after upsetting the Bills last week.  I think a 220-yard 3 TD game could be waiting for those risk takers who play him this week.

Brandon Pettigrew (40.3%, 41%) Pettigrew is actually still on the wire in some leagues, and gets a saucy matchup against the Bears and their cover-2 on Monday Night.  Playing at home in the dome, I think Pettigrew gets look after look running routes underneath Calvin Johnson against the league’s worst defense against the TE.  If he’s still out there in your league and you have your TE on bye, he’s a no-brainer.  I think Pettigrew could outperform all other TEs this week as he’s coming off two high volume games as well.

Son of a Bench

LeGarrette Blount (88.5%, 77%) I don’t have much analysis beyond the match up… With the Bucs heading to San Francisco they get the league’s beat run defense while playing on the road.  We’ve also seen the Bucs get away from Blount and the run game early, like we did in week 1 against the Lions.  As mentioned above, I think the Bucs get into a lot of 3-WR sets and use Earnest Graham frequently in a lot of third-down packages even when it’s not third down.  I think it’s a tough day for Blount and I’d start both Redman and Ridley over him on Sunday.

Darren Sproles (69.8%,71%) It’s definitely hard to bench Sproles, especially in PPR-formats, but I see him getting a lot less work against the Panthers on Sunday.  The Panthers run defense is horrendous… and Sproles will be exactly the non-benefactor.  The Bears offensive line, who couldn’t open a hole to save their lives before last Sunday, ripped the Panthers’ front 7 a new one (or seven new ones – or maybe more), giving Matt Forte huge holes right up the middle.  I see a lot of work for Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas between the tackles to help balance the Saints’ attack, and a lot less work for Sproles in the short passing game.

Steve Johnson (85.1%, 92%) This is another gut call more than anything else, but I think Nnamdi Asomugha really clamps down this week and shuts down Johnson when they’re lined up across from each other.  I still see Donald Jones and David Nelson having pretty nice games, but I think the Eagle’s passing D finally steps up this week, along with the run-D.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Johnson doesn’t find the endzone this week and has his worst game of the season.

Matt Schaub (65.3%, 63%) I’m pretty surprised Schaub is still being started in this many leagues… Andre Johnson, arguably the second best receiver in the league (yea, Calvin Johnson has to be the unanimous best right now), is going to be out for some time, giving Schaub a very limited set of weapons.  Of course, Arian Foster might score on a screen pass, but otherwise I think it’ll be all Foster and the ground game against Oakland.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Schaub has only one or no touchdowns, and would play Andy Dalton over him for this week.

DeAngelo Williams (69%, 32%) I know he’s not quite started in the majority of Yahoo leagues and a lot of ESPN leagues must be dead leagues, but I think a lot of owners are going to see Williams’ 10 carry, 82-yard performance against the Bears last week and think Williams is finally out of the coffin.  However, this is not the week to start him.  Prior to how the Panthers used to play offense, they are using shotgun formations at an abhorrent rate, really constricting their run game.  While Carolina is also utilizing RB screens and check downs more frequently, Jonathan Stewart has shown he might actually be the better receiver in the backfield, limiting Williams’ role even more.  Almost assuredly down in this game, look for Cam Newton to have yet another 300-yard passing game and another dud for DeAngelo.

If you have any last second decisions, shoot me some comments, or tweet me @jbgilpin.  If you’re of the legal drinking age (have to say that due to our legal dept.), join me on Monday Nights for the brand new Twitter “Gruden ‘that guy’ drinking game” (#GrudenThatGuyDrinkingGame) for the ultimate party game that’s primed to sweep the nation.  Good luck to everyone in week 5!

  1. Gus says:

    Where is the IDP post this week?

  2. Mark says:

    0.5 ppr pick one for flex:

    Redman or V Jax (I’m starting Fitz & S Smith)

  3. JB Gilpin says:

    @Gus: That’s outta my range man, I haven’t played IDP in forever!

  4. JB Gilpin says:

    @Mark: Geez that’s tough… I’d wanna play V Jax if he plays, but he’s a 4 o clock game vs. Redman at 1. I’d wait until the last possible moment to get as much info on V Jax, and if he’s still very questionable roll with Redman, if V Jax is for sure playing, I’d keep him in.

  5. herschel says:

    @jb gilpin: deciding between rothlisberger, dalton and alex smith…..who do you like??

  6. hideousmutants says:

    Pick a Flex for a 1pt. PPR

    Shonn Greene


  7. Earl says:

    Good column as always.

    I have Blount, and will use Ridley at RB2.

    But should I go with Blount or Colston at the flex position? I also have Ryan Grant, but not much more besides that.


  8. JB Gilpin says:

    @herschel: I think I’d stick with my guns on this one and suggest Dalton… Big Ben is hurtin’ and last time I started Alex Smith I wasn’t happy about it beforehand and was even less happy after haha.

  9. JB Gilpin says:

    @hideousmutants: I’m gonna go with Redman… Manningham isn’t getting the targets a lot of people thought and the Jets are going to doing a lot of passing against the Pats.

  10. FredroStar says:

    really struggling with my flex option in .5 ppr league. grant, mike thomas preston parker or robert meachem.

  11. Mark says:

    @JB Gilpin: Thx JB!

  12. Drew says:

    12 team league. need 2 RB’s. A.P. is 1. Jacobs or Tate for #2. Felix Jones and HIghtower on bye. Slim pickings on waivers. Can get Jacquiz, Graham, or a few others off waivers. Thanks

  13. Cole says:

    I need to pick a flex for a 1ppr league. McCluster, Grant, or Ridley. Thanks for any help!

  14. Robert says:

    JB! You haven’t failed me yet (2 weeks of good calls — thanks!). So, I come to you again…Need two at RB and two at Flex…return yds/TDs count…

    Redman, Ridley, McCluster, McGahee, Roddy, VJax, A. Brown, Finley, Gronk

    Side Q: Would you drop any of those RBs before the Sunday deadline for a speculative add of Montario Hardesty?

  15. JB Gilpin says:

    @Earl: Thanks man! I’d stick with Blount, there’s no telling how many snaps Colston will get still easing his way back onto the field and I don’t think the Saints are going to have to pass too much against my Panthers… I also think Starks is going to take too many touches from Grant to make him valuable.

  16. JB Gilpin says:

    @FredroStar: I think I might roll the dice on Parker… It depends though, if you feel like you need a more reliable guy I’d go with Meachem… I think Starks is slowly taking over and I don’t think Mike Thomas is a good start until Blaine Gabbert improves a little bit.

  17. JB Gilpin says:

    @Drew: I think it’s Jacobs… Conventional wisdom has the Giants spanking the Seahawks giving Jacobs plenty of touches on the ground, but anything can happen with Eli at QB. I don’t think the Texans are going to push Tate very hard after tweaking his groin last Sunday and your waiver options aren’t too snazzy

  18. JB Gilpin says:

    @Cole: Gonna stick with it and say Ridley, I think it’s a big game for him this week. If only McCluster got more touches, but Todd Haley is insisting on limiting him…

  19. JB Gilpin says:

    @Robert: Glad I’m helpin ya out! I like McGahee and Redman at RB and Roddy and Finley as your flexes. I think McGahee and Redman get lead back roles on Sunday with lots of touches and Roddy and Finley both get heavily involved in what has to be a shoot out on Sunday Night Football. Those are some pretty nice options, especially since you can bench VJax and not lose too much sleep over it. Good luck again this week!

  20. Earl says:

    Thanks JB!

  21. eyyoitsmejerry says:

    @Drew @JB Neither Jacobs or Tate are playing this week. Tate might suit up as an emergency running back. I’d roll with Graham. He should be more involved if the bucs will be passing more.

  22. dani says:

    should i go with eric decker or percy harvin or reggie wayne? im starting brandon lloyd so i thought it’d be nice to have both denver WRs….also, out of the following 4 pick 2 : beanie wells, MJD, legarrete blount, mendenhall. thanks!!!!

  23. JB Gilpin says:

    @dani: Yea I like Decker as well, especially against San Diego who should be running up the score… Mendenhall is out today, so I’d go with Wells and MJD… As much as that pains me, I hate Beanie Wells haha.

  24. JB Gilpin says:

    @eyyoitsmejerry:@Drew: Thanks for getting my back man! Yea I knew Jacobs was banged up, I didn’t know he was down to doubtful though… I agree about going with Graham, like I wrote about Blount, I think he’ll see a lot of work in passing formations.

  25. JB Gilpin says:

    @Robert: Oh, and I would hold off on Hardesty… I think his work load last week was just to spell Hillis as he was still recovering from illness, and Hardesty’s touches are going to decline.

  26. Robert says:

    @JB Gilpin: YOU ARE MY LEADER!

  27. Robert says:

    @JB Gilpin: Yeah, I was just thinking since Hillis may get traded in the next week or two, it might be a good idea to stash Hardesty. And with McCluster having a bye-week next week…seemed like it might be a good time to do the switch if I’m not starting him this week.

  28. JB Gilpin says:

    @Robert: Haha, prec the love! Yea I don’t know how much I put into Hillis getting traded, usually it’s WRs traded mid-season, but we’ll see… I just have a feeling Haley might actually let McCluster a little loose the last few games of the season and even if Hillis is traded I don’t think Hardesty is gonna put up the numbers Hillis has in the lead role. Hopefully I got you some good calls again this week man!

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