One of the more difficult things about the first half of each football season is figuring out what teams no longer fit into the same convenient categories as the previous season or two. For instance, over the last couple years, your eyes got wide when you saw your player was facing DET, STL, CLE, or KC. Well, I’m not sure I believe the Chiefs are really a top 10 defense, but they certainly look average-ish this year (and I mean that as a compliment). Schaub hasn’t been in sync, Andre Johnson isn’t 100%, Owen Daniels isn’t close to being the same weapon he was pre-injury, and since KC isn’t really an explosive offense, the Texans may try to re-establish Arian Foster.
Matt Stafford is supposed to be close to returning, but I expect Hill to get one more start. Unfortunately, it’s against a resurgent Giants pass defense (and pass rush), and Calvin Johnson is still struggling with a shoulder injury. Some of you in super deep leagues may console yourselves with Nate Burleson or Brandon Pettigrew, but Shaun Hill is not the QB you’re looking for.
The New England defense doesn’t have a player that can handle Anquan Boldin. If Belichick decides to double Boldin, that leaves plenty of room for Flacco’s less talented but still sure-handed recievers. If you’ve been patient with (or bought low on) Flacco, you should be rewarded this week.
The Broncos defense has been pretty good so far this year, but I think they are due for a regression soon. I was impressed with how quickly Santonio Holmes stepped back into the offense, and while his reintroduction diminishes the value of the other recievers, it only helps Sanchez.
Jahvid Best @ NYG
I know you’ve been waiting and hoping for his return, but unfortunately, Bush is expected to retain the starter’s role, and McFadden may not be 100% right away. I’d sit him this week, and if he looks good and breaks a nice run or two, then you can consider starting him again next week.
There seems to be a good chance that Cutler will return, but either way I think the Bears will still run a bit more than usual — in the case of Cutler, to minimize the pass rush exposure, and in the case of other-than-Cutler, to minimize the number of completions to people wearing the wrong uniforms. The Seahawks are surprisingly tough at home, but they are pure milquetoast on the road.
Ryan Torain vs. IND
Torain was underwhelming in his first start after Portis’ injury, but I’m doubling down and starting him again this week. The Colts D-line has had trouble stopping physical backs, and even if the Redskins offense has to change gears, Torain showed himself to be a pretty adept pass-catcher last week with 4 grabs for 27 yards.
Wes Welker vs. BAL
Brandon Lloyd demonstrated that there are yards to be found against the BAL defense, but I wouldn’t look for a huge game from Welker this week. The Patriots offense will adjusting to life without Randy Moss stretching the field, and while Welker may still have some PPR value this week, I don’t see him breaking loose for big gains.
Michael Crabtree vs. OAK
Never underestimate an NFL coach’s ability to screw up a gameplan, but the 49ers should be running early and often with Frank Gore. Malcolm Floyd did go off against the OAK secondary, but he had Antonio Gates attracting the defenses attention. Vernon Davis is good, but not as good as Gates, and Crabtree won’t have as much room to operate as Floyd did.
Kenny Britt @ JAX
Britt has scored in 3 straight games, and now he gets to face one of the worst pass defenses in the league. TEN still isn’t likely to throw that much, so you may not get more than 5 or 6 catches in PPR leagues, but he ought to be able to push 100 yards.
Brandon Lloyd vs. NYJ
I’m guessing most Lloyd owners are fully committed to him by now, but just in case someone is still questioning his matchup, it needs to be noted that Revis was clearly not 100% against the Vikings, and isn’t likely to be 100% any time soon. Ride the Broncos pass offense until it stops.
Jermichael Finley vs. MIA
Sorry, Finley owners. That was cruel and I apologize.
Dustin Keller @ DEN
I put Keller here not so much because this week’s matchup is terrible (though I don’t think it’s great, either), but as a caution that Holmes return diminishes Keller’s value somewhat. Keller will still get a fair share of targets, but I don’t see him jumping to the next level for now.
Tony Moeaki @ HOU
The Chiefs offense isn’t going to start taking big shots downfield just because they are facing a terrible HOU pass defense, but Cassel should certainly be able to hit Moeaki for some nice gains. Cross your fingers for some redzone looks.
Baltimore @ NE
The Ravens defense has been showing some signs that they aren’t quite the same unit from last year. They’ve done a pretty good job at limiting points, but they haven’t racked up the secondary stats that really boost a good fantasy defense. The Pats offense may be more balanced with Moss gone, more willing to take what the defense gives them.
Dallas @ MIN
The Dong-gate scandal rages on and Brett’s complaining of elbow pain. The Vikings are just a mess right now, and while there’s always the chance that Peterson has one of his games for the ages, I’d bet against it and feel just fine throwing the Cowboys out there again this week.