I always think of myself as a pretty avid reader.  But things recently went into a complete standstill once I got about 2/3 of the way through Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about, the part when they get to Colorado and there’s this (spoiler alert) magic screen making a valley invisible where everyone has started a commune… sure.

Now I’m not here to trash the book, and I’m actually almost done with it after picking it back up a few days ago.  If anything, it will help guide your own ideals if you disagree with Rand lays forth.  But to read 1000+ pages to keep getting hammered over the head with the same point gets a little tiresome.  I get it: free markets are good, and taxation and financial aid is bad as those people didn’t “earn” it.  Womp womp.  I also don’t think Ayn Rand’s personal philosophy of “objectivism” is that different from other, older philosophical schools of thought.

My experience with Atlas Shrugged is exactly what it feels like managing a losing fantasy team.  In both of my most important leagues I am 1-4 and 2-3 –  leagues which I almost always have been in the playoff push.  I know it’s early, but it feels extremely taxing (pun only 30-35% intended) going through the same routine every week: put in the best guys, some do well and others not so much; the other team has a few guys with huge games and it’s yet another L for me.

For everyone that has played fantasy and takes it semi-to-really-serious, you know what I’m talking about.  You feel you’re better than the competition and have made the playoffs or top few spots annually and all the sudden you can’t win to save your life.  It’s even worse in fantasy compared to real sports or video games because you have absolutely no control over the performance your players’ have (other than your original draft, waiver wire moves, and who you start or bench).

But I’m here to tell you not to give up!  I’m not going to sit around and let my teams wallow with inattentiveness.  And if I end up with only 3 or 4 wins, at least I’ll know what it’s like going through the experience and be ready for next year.  I also can know what not to do and avoid offering ridiculous trades (becoming a proverbial “looter” as Rand would say) to try and get out of the hole (if you’re reading this – you who offered me Kevin Kolb straight up for Ryan Fitzpatrick – I’m talking about you) Once I get through Atlas Shrugged I can appreciate the next book even more; once I get through this tough season, I’ll be ready and more appreciative of the next.

Last week’s picks were pretty split with Andy Dalton not quite having the day I saw for him but giving you 2 TDs and Brandon Pettigrew having a big game on Monday Night.  Three of the five guys I thought to bench all were pretty quiet: LaGarrette Blount was stuffed and got hurt, Sproles still did OK but did have his worst performance of the year and first single-digit (in ESPN standard-scoring) game, and Steve Johnson also had his worst game of the year.  On the other hand Preston Parker and Stevan Ridley didn’t have nearly the roles I thought they would and Isaac Redman had a lot of missed opportunities with Ben Roethlisberger throwing short yardage TDs and then leaving early with leg cramps.  Also, Matt Schaub and DeAngelo Williams had pretty good games if you stuck with them.

With a losing team, it becomes more and more desperate to right the ship, so playing guys with a little higher upside is more crucial. Here are some guys I like that most people aren’t starting and some guys to think about benching (along with their % start figures on ESPN & Yahoo, respectively).

Possible Starters

Earnest Graham (41.4%, 31%) LaGarrette Blount is reportedly out for as much as 4 weeks with an MCL tear, opening a huge opportunity for Earnest Graham.  Along with taking over Blount’s role, Graham was already the third down back and should see a lot of touches with Blount out.  Going against the Saints tomorrow, I like Graham a lot, especially in PPR-formats, to get a lot of work and a few opportunities to score either through the air or on the ground.

David Nelson (34%, 19%) Previous WR2 Donald Jones is now out 4-6 weeks with an ankle sprain, making Nelson a much more attractive option at receiver or as your flex.  I’ve said this before with Nelson – I feel his ascent reminds me a lot of Steve Johnson.  Both started as third string WRs with the receiver ahead of them falling to injury midway through the season (last year being Roscoe Parrish).  Nelson isn’t the raw talent Johnson is and I don’t expect comparable numbers, but he is a legit option moving forward and I think he has a big game this week against the Giants.

Daniel Thomas (20%, 29%) With a game missed with injury and coming off a bye, I feel like a lot of people are coming off Thomas, but I see a big game again for the rookie.  Matt Moore is getting the start at QB, and as a Panthers fan, I can tell you with certainty he’s not the answer.  Look for Miami to get as much out of the ground game as they can against a porous Jets’ run D, currently giving up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing RBs.  He is listed as questionable, but his upside is worth the risk.

Colt McCoy (6.3%, 9%) McCoy has a TD in each game this season, and the Raiders have given up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing QBs this year, sorely missing their former shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha.  The Browns’ rushing attack hasn’t been clicking with Peyton Hillis still a little sluggish recovering from a severe strep throat and Montario Hardesty still very raw.  I see a big game for the Browns through the air and a big game for McCoy’s soon to be go-to-target (see below).

Greg Little (3%, 6%) Now a starter in Cleveland, I think this is going to be Greg Little’s breakout week.  Not necessarily because he’s merely got the moniker of “starter,” but because the playbook is now opened up for him and the Raiders don’t have any film to figure out how to contain him.  Little is physically a beast at 6’2” 220, and has had a bye week to prepare for his expanded role while also coming off his best game in week 4.  I don’t think he’s going to have a Torrey Smith-type coming out game, but an 80-90 yard game with a TD seems very realistic to me.

 Son of a Bench

Javhid Best (89.6%, 71%) Javhid’s coming off a huge game, but that 49ers defense is legit – just ask any of the RBs that have been stuffed against the best run defense in the league.  It’d be pretty hard to bench him in PPR leagues, but in standard scoring formats, he’s a tough start.  The Lions are going to abandon the run earlier than they usually do and rely on Stafford’s arm to keep them undefeated.  Start with caution.

Rashard Mendenhall (72%, 64%) Starting a player coming off a hammy is always stressful, just ask Arian Foster owners.  The Jags defense is actually pretty stout, with the 8th least fantasy points given up to opposing RBs.  I see a very similar game plan from Pittsburgh as we saw last week, with conservative running plays and utilizing the passing game to put up points.  I also see this game getting out of hand pretty quickly and a lot of Isaac Redman with Jonathan Dwyer mixed in to lighten Mendenhall’s load.

Marques Colston (61.2%, 65%) Another star player still easing his way back from injury, I think Colston has a slow game this week.  The Buccaneers are searching for answers on both sides of the ball, and this could be another game that gets out of hand quickly.  When the Saints don’t need all they can get out of their offense, it’s really scary to start anyone other than Brees, Sproles, and Graham.  I’d still start Colston over any of the other WRs, but if I’m struggling, I’d start Little over him this week with a big roll of the dice.

Brandon Marshall (56.7%, 56%) I know what you’re thinking… I’m putting too much into Marshall’s claim that he’s going to get ejected by the 2nd quarter.  What a load of @#$%.  Marshall is just “trying” to pump up his team, but they’re already 0-4 with probably the least talented QB in the league (except maybe Jimmy Clausen) about to take over the offensive reigns.  Add into the fact the Jets can’t stop the run with Daniel Thomas primed for a big workload and Marshall is about to be on Revis’ island, and Marshall’s claim that he’ll be ejected should be the least of your concerns if you’re starting him.  Maybe Marshall is hoping his miniscule stat-line will trick people into thinking he actually was ejected…

Matt Schaub (59.5%, 55%) If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… I don’t like Schaub again this week.  Andre Johnson is out yet again and the Ravens are giving up the least fantasy points to opposing QBs.  I know you’re probably starting him if you got him, especially with a solid game again last week, but I would again advise looking elsewhere.

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.), keep playing the Twitter “Gruden ‘that guy’ drinking game” (#GrudenThatGuyDrinkingGame) for the ultimate party game that’s primed to sweep the nation.  Sorry I didn’t play this past week, I’ve been in hardcore NLCS mode (go Brewers!).  If there’s an NLCS game 7, Monday Night Football might take a backseat again this week…  Good luck to everyone in week 6!

  1. Cole says:
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    I’m starting Earnest Graham over Mendy. It’s a non-ppr league…approve or disapprove? Thanks!

  2. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Cole: Definite approve!

  3. genghis chone says:
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    Who should I choose for my flex slot? Ingram, D-Moore or Little? PPR. Thanks!

  4. dreap town all stars says:
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    Man this article is exactly my predictament. Going forward need the highest up side qb looking at Curtis painter, Alex smith, dalton and Campbell. Thinking smith thoughts? Also trying to stay ahead of curve (ppr) can get Eddie royal, demarius Thomas, mark Clayton or braylon Edwards….thoughts?

  5. JB Gilpin says:
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    @genghis chone: Awesome name… I’d go with Little man… I just have a feeling… I know Ingram got a TD and a nice little (no pun intended) game last week, but I don’t think as part of that 3-headed monster he’s gonna do what Little is gonna do tomorrow.

  6. JB Gilpin says:
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    @dreap town all stars: Hard not to say Alex Smith has the most upside out of that group, so I’d so go with him… Andy Dalton is a close second though; he has the best receiver in AJ Green to throw to. Man I don’t know about any of those WRs right now, it depends on who you’d have to drop, but I guess Edwards with how well Alex Smith is playing this year.

  7. Cheeeeeze says:
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    What do you think about starting cutler over schwab? I actually think cutler looked good against the lions… and with less of a pass rush this week he may be able to tear up the Vikings secondary… and with Schwab playing a stingy D I’m thinking of going with Cutler.. Thoughts?

  8. phizzics says:
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    First, do yourself a favor and skip the monologue in Atlas. You’ll know it when you get there, and it last a whole bunch of pages while not advancing the plot at all.

    Now for my question. I’m looking for a WR3 (12 teamer, no PPR, standard Yahoo scoring) and noticed how beat up Chicago’s D is right now. Any chance that Michael Jenkins has a decent game? He knows how to run a route and McNabb should have lots of time to throw. I think he’s a sleeper this week, but haven’t heard anyone mention him.

    Should I add him or roll the dice with Little?

  9. AB says:
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    PPR/Flex…Little, Antonio Brown, Gresham, Ryan Grant?

  10. Steve Stevenson says:
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    Looking to get a jump on my bye week replacement for Eli before everyone goes on waivers, as a few QBs are usually picked up on waivers every week. Do you like Cassel or Campbell better in the KC-OAK game? Leaning Cassel. Other options include McCoy (v SEA), Rexy (@CAR), Moore (v DEN) and Painter (@NO), but I’d probably only grab one of them if they had a monster game this week and Cassel and Campbell got injured or were horrible.

  11. JD says:
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    I’ve got a few questions:
    Who should I start? Jahvid Best or Earnest Graham? 0.5 PPR

    Also who would start this week, Jordy Nelson or Marques Colston? 0.5 PPR

    One last question, should I drop Denarius Moore, Kevin Walter, or David Nelson for Greg Little? Non-ppr

  12. Deep 16 team league. Need 2 receivers from- M Williams TB, Little, Burress, Nelson and DHB . Thoughts?

  13. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Cheeeeeze: I’m with ya 100%… The Ravens are a tough D and AJ is Schwab’s (I like that!) only real playmaker. Starting Cutler is definitely cringe-worthy, but I like his upside over Schwab tomorrow.

  14. JB Gilpin says:
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    @phizzics: Haha, I’m literally about 40 pages into the “speech” and haven’t been able to pick it up the past day and a half. If Galt really wanted to enact change he’d think of a way to connect to his audience (the “every-day American”) more concisely…

    I think you go with Little… I like your logic on Jenkins, but you just never know with McNabb and you gotta think Harvin has a big game at some point and sees more than 20 snaps. Or I see something like a 10-3 game with the Vikes not getting a TD. Either way, I think Little’s upside trumps Jenkins, but Jenkins could have a nice game as well.

  15. JB Gilpin says:
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    @AB: I might stick with Brown there… He’s getting a ton of targets and even though he’s coming off his worst game, I think he has more big play ability than my second choice of Little. If you feel you need a huge game go with Brown, if you need a solid 10-14 points I think it’s Little.

  16. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Steve Stevenson: Haha well Cassel and Campbell are definitely candidates for getting hurt, or more likely, being horrible… But yea, I’d take Cassel there… But I would keep your eye on McCoy who I think will tear up the Seahawks as well. Seattle isn’t as bad against the run as they are against the pass and if Little emerges like I think he will, it might be another big game there. I think picking up Cassel first is fine, and if he is atrocious, hope McCoy is still out there after waivers.

  17. JB Gilpin says:
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    @JD: First off, I’d drop either Walter or Moore for Little… Walter loses almost all of his value when AJ returns and Moore is well… a Raiders’ receiver. I think of the 3 Little is the only guy you’d ever count on to start.

    I think I would roll with Graham over Best… It’s a little risky, but even though Best can bust a techmo pro bowl play at any time, zig zagging in and out, at least you know Graham’s gonna get a ton of touches… You never know with Best. I’d go with Colston as well… The Pack attack won’t need too much of their attack against a lackluster Rams D, so it may be pretty conservative offensively for them in the second half. I know the same could be said for Colston, but I think Marques is more the possession guy and I like him more.

  18. Gimme Some says:
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    Hmm, start Torain over Colston then?

  19. JB Gilpin says:
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    @vultures: Is it PPR? Little is still a no-brainer for me. Probably Williams alongside him, even though I know it’s tough to play him these days.

  20. JD says:
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    Thanks man! I was thinking the same thing about dropping Walter for little, just making sure I wasn’t too foolish

  21. Random Collmenter says:
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    League 1: Start Meachem or B Marshall? Leaning Marshall.

    League 2: Start Percy, Nelson, or Little? Leaning Little.

    Both are .5 PPR leagues. thanks!

  22. It is a PPR league JD and I was thinking the same thing
    Thanks!

  23. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Random Collmenter: I like both your decisions man! You never know with Meach and I keep toutin’ Little I hope he comes through for everyone!

  24. JB Gilpin says:
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    @JD: @vultures: No problem guys, thanks for reading!

  25. Commish Cauda (formerly Mike) says:
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    What about starting Denarius Moore (no Haden) over Colsten? Going a little too far?

  26. Commish Cauda (formerly Mike) says:
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    12-team, 0.5 PPR

    I’m desperate for a RB (Benson, DeAngelo Williams, Graham, Scott & Murray)

    My WRs are Fitz, VJax, Cruz, Little & Burleson

    Trade Fitz for Felix Jones & James Jones?

  27. Random Collmenter says:
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    @Commish Cauda: think you can get a better RB for Fitz. I’d at least try for someone like Mendy, Beanie, or Best. Someone along those lines. Or maybe you could package two players like DeAngelo (right now is def the time to sell high on him) and Cruz for Felix Jones…

    You had Jamaal Charles, I assume?

  28. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Commish Cauda (formerly Mike): First, I think it is too far… Even without Haden, you just don’t know where the Raiders’ looks are gonna go. Second, it’s tough, but I think you hold off on that trade for right now, because after Fitz and VJax, you don’t have solid options at WR, despite how high I am on Little… While I like Felix a lot, it’s so hard to predict how he’ll do week-in and week-out and his injury history scares me too much. Although if Kolb doesn’t get it together in the next week or two, that trade is looking much better for ya.

  29. James says:
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    12 team PPR league. Which should I start for my flex-Bradshaw or Maclin?

  30. Robert says:
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    Hey JB! I’m back with a Flex/WR question. Need two start two at WR and two at Flex…

    Roddy, A. Brown (Return Yds.), Boldin, Finley, Gronk

    Thanks!

  31. Robert says:
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    Also, an RB question. Need one for this week (and it’s ugly, I know)…

    Ridley, Ingram, P. Thomas, D. Carter

    And a follow-up, just out of curiosity…who do you think is the best rest-of-season bet among those?

  32. Rick R says:
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    #3wr….Titus Young, Mo Mossoqoi or Greg Little?

  33. Amishfrank says:
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    so would you bench best this week for say, cruz or garcon?

  34. JB Gilpin says:
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    @James: For PPR, I might go with Maclin’s upside… You never know with the G-Men and the Bills are much worse int he secondary than in the run game…

  35. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Amishfrank: Naw, I’d still stay with Best over those guys, even as enticing the upside those WRs have.

  36. Hurricane Kindra says:
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    I’ve got a questionable Percy Harvin, could swap him out for David Nelson… ooooh, I’m on the edge! What do I do?

  37. barker says:
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    start 3

    manningham williams tb garcon lance moore colston

    schaub or campbell

  38. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Robert: Yo Rob! Was hoping you’d be back… I think Boldin is your bench. He’s been pretty damn quiet since week 1 and I don’t see him being a big part of the offense again this week. I’d probably go Delone Carter I think, with Addai out… But I like Ingram the most the rest of the year. I just have a feeling Pierre Thomas gets hurt and Ingram starts getting some 20 carry games come fantasy playoff time. I would have said Ridley last week, but when has there been a reliable fantasy back in New England? Corey Dillon? Haha. Hope all is well man, thanks for reading!

  39. Lily says:
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    Ugh, need help! Freeman or Dalton today 6pts td

  40. Lily says:
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    Or McCoy??

  41. zandercage says:
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    Ed Dickson or Danario Alexander at Flex?

    Thanks!

  42. morgan freeman says:
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    james jones or percy harvin? please help!

  43. Jay says:
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    A little help…Romo or Newton? And Fred Davis or Keller?

  44. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Rick R: Little fa sho man! I’m all in on him today!

  45. JB Gilpin says:
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    @morgan freeman: Wow, I didn’t know I had such a celebrity following! Love your work. And James Jones I like more, you never know with Harvin….

  46. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Hurricane Kindra: Go over the edge and go with Nelson, I like him a lot… I need a big game from him!

  47. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Lily: McCoy this week. Like him a lot to tear up the Raiduhs

  48. JB Gilpin says:
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    @barker: Manningham, Williams, & Colston. I know it’s tempting to start Garcon, but I’m not confident enough with him yet.

  49. JB Gilpin says:
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    @zandercage: Ugh… Probably Dixon, there’s just no way I’d want to start a Rams WR even if it does mean playing a backup TE…

  50. Hurricane Kindra says:
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    @JB Gilpin Aaaaagh, I trust u again on Nelson.

  51. JB Gilpin says:
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    @Jay: Newton! And I’d probably go with Keller, but it’s pretty effin close!

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