Football fans will get to see an offensive explosion of biblical proportions when the Green Bay Packers travel to Detroit to take on the Lions this Sunday — so what better way to describe this occasion than with an excerpt from a well-known psalm. I’m Jewish (and a mostly non-practicing one for that matter), and even I know this phrase very well. Of course, we have Quentin Tarantino to thank for that (Note: Although Samuel L. Jackson mentions “Ezekiel 25:17” in his immortal quote, he in fact uses lines from Psalm 23 as well).
Throughout time, there have been many interpretations of that verse, but when relating it to this week’s slate of NFL games, it can only mean one thing: start Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford with confidence. Not only will those QBs give you some relative “comfort”, but so should their receivers. As of now, I have Stafford No. 1 in my QB rankings, with Rodgers right behind him. Calvin Johnson is my No. 1 WR (Julio Jones‘ TNF performance not included), which he’ll likely be in most matchups, and after a huge 206-yard performance vs. the Jets, Jordy Nelson checks in as this week’s No. 3 receiver. The Packers’ “other” wideout, Randall Cobb, is also in my top 10, and in his third game with his new team, former Seahawk Golden Tate makes his way into the top 30.
Start all these players with the utmost confidence and take a look below for some more start/sits before you set your lineups prior to kickoff…
Joe Flacco, Ravens: Despite allowing just 237 yards to Drew Brees last week, the Browns have given up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. Flacco wasn’t great in Week 1, but he is coming off a much more efficient game (21-of-29, 166 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) and faces a Browns team that he’s performed pretty well against in the past two years (5/2 TD/INT). He’ll be looking to avenge last year’s five-interception debacle vs. former Bills’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who is now the current head coach of the Browns.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks: The Broncos are the worst team in the NFL vs. QBs, allowing 25.7 points per game. Yeah, it’s still early, but there’s no reason to think this game won’t be a shootout. Vegas has the over/under at 48.5, the fourth-highest projected point total of the day. Peyton Manning and Co. will be out for revenge after last year’s Super Bowl loss, and that should keep the game at a pretty nice pace. Wilson seems to have clicked with a healthy Percy Harvin and all signs point to him having another nice, efficient game. The third-year pro has a 33/7 TD/INT ratio when playing at The Link.
Geno Smith, Jets: Smith had a poor performance last week, but despite that, he’s looked much better over his last six games. In that span he has completed 60.8 percent of his passes with 4/2 TD/INT ratio. In his previous 12 games, he connected on just 54.7 percent of his pass attempts and had an astonishingly bad 8/19 TD/INT ratio. The Bears defense hasn’t performed well and will be missing Charles “Peanut” Tillman for the remainder of the season with a triceps injury. Eric Decker, the Jets’ No. 1 wideout, is questionable with a hamstring injury, and if he sits out, you’d have to downgrade Smith a little, but I still like him at home, where he is 7-2 in his career. I wouldn’t be starting Smith over any of your studs, but he’s a fine play in 2-QB or Superflex leagues.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts: Anyone who saw Monday’s performance can see Bradshaw is the man in Indy. The depth chart may say “Trent Richardson” at the top, but we are smarter than that, and know better, too. Bradshaw was electric vs. the Eagles, piling up 96 total yards and two touchdowns. Richardson, on the other hand, looked like a slow, straight-up runner, and he also fumbled twice. The knock on Bradshaw has always been whether he can stay healthy or not, but he seems okay now and there’s no better time to start him than vs. the porous Jaguars run D, who have allowed 41.5 fantasy points per game to RBs — the most in the NFL. The Colts also figure to be up big in this game, which should give Bradshaw plenty of clock-killing carries.
C.J. Spiller, Bills: The tides may have turned in Buffalo. Once the presumed second fiddle on the running back depth chart, C.J. Spiller now seems poised to regain the role of top dog in the Bills’ backfield. I’m not minimizing Fred Jackson‘s contributions here, and we know the Bills have gone in many directions with their run game before, but Spiller looks healthy, and at 27 years old, there’s no reason to think he can’t be his explosive self once again. Jackson will still get the goal line carries and most of pass-catching opportunities, but Spiller already has eight more carries than him in the early going. Spiller gets an even bigger bonus if your league counts return yards. We saw him reel off an incredible 102-yard kickoff return last week vs. the Dolphins. The Bills’ opponents this week, the San Diego Chargers, are allowing 29.8 fantasy points to the opposition’s RBs this year, which makes them the eighth-worst team in that regard.
Brian Quick, Rams: The Rams have very few offensive weapons, and because of that, Quick has easily stood out as the one of the few fantasy-relevant players in St. Louis. So far, the third-year pro has racked up 14 catches for 173 yards, which amounts to nearly 38 percent of his total career yardage coming into this season. The lack of touchdowns (none) is a bit distressing, but with Shaun Hill and Austin Davis at the helm, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s possible Stedman Bailey (who is back from suspension) steals some targets, but Kenny Britt and Chris Givens have looked terrible, and Tavon Austin is hurt. Quick is the guy, and he’ll lineup vs. a Cowboys defense that has looked pretty good through two weeks, but was in the bottom six vs. WRs last year.
Torrey Smith, Ravens: Things can’t get much worse for Torrey Smith. The top pass-catcher in Baltimore has struggled to get out of the gate in 2014, with just four catches to his name. I like Flacco this week, so there’s no reason not to like Smith either. The former Maryland Terp ravaged the Browns secondary last year, compiling 163 yards on 12 catches in their two meetings. Look for Smith to finally bust out this week.
Dwayne Allen, Colts: With as much offense as there was in Monday night’s game, it was pretty disappointing to see Allen finish with less than one fantasy point (he made one tackle). The Colts offense sputtered late, and they squandered a number of chances to put the game away, which should have offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton rethinking his game plan a bit. Allen is far more talented than fellow tight ends Coby Fleener and Jack Doyle, and a smart team would realize this. His utilization is a concern, but the matchup can’t get any better than Week 3’s meeting with the Jaguars. Last year, the Jags allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and this year they are merely one spot better, ranking 30th overall.
Andy Dalton, Bengals: After a toe injury caused him to sit out most of last week’s game, A.J. Green has resumed practicing for the Bengals. Awesome, right? Yeah, it could be, but one has to wonder whether Green will even be close to 100 percent on Sunday, practice or not. He was originally supposed to miss at least a week and maybe return after the bye, but his inclusion in practice may set him up to be a decoy vs. the Titans. Assuming he plays and is not a decoy, he won’t be at his best, and Andy Dalton without Green, or even a less-than-perfect Green, is no more than an average quarterback. Hell, he may only be an average quarterback with Green. Left with Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate and Jermaine Gresham as his top targets, Dalton will be in for a looooong day. Oh, the Titans are also the third-best team vs. QBs this year.
Toby Gerhart, Jaguars: You probably won’t see Gerhart’s name on the “Sit ’em” list after this week because that would just be overkill. The way the Jags’ are playing, there’s no reason anyone should be starting him, even vs. a bad Colts’ run D. The Jags aren’t competing, which limits the run opportunities for Gerhart. Take into account a nagging ankle injury, and you’ve got a player that’s one or two bad performances away from landing on the waiver wire in all 10-team leagues and in most 12-teamers as well.
Wes Welker, Broncos: As I stated earlier, I expect this game to be a high-scoring affair, but if I’ve got other receiving options, I’m sitting Welker this week. Most owners are gonna be amped to get Welker back in their lineups after he just finished serving a two-game suspension, but it’s not worth the risk. Not only is he likely to be rusty, but with all the hoopla surrounding his recent punishment, it’s easy to forget that he suffered a concussion less than a month ago — one that brought up talks of a possible retirement. I’d treat this situation like you would in fantasy baseball when you have a pitcher making his first start coming off a DL stint — resist the urge and let Welker watch this one from your bench.
Kendall Wright, Titans: On paper, this is a good matchup. The Bengals have allowed the fourth-most points to wide receivers in the early goings, but the Titans entire passing attack looked out of sync last week. Wright was a PPR monster last year, but now he has to compete for targets with the emerging Justin Hunter and tight end Delanie Walker, who is all of a sudden looking like Jimmy Graham. Throw Dexter McCluster into the mix, and Wright makes for a nice weekly play, but an unpredictable one just the same.
Charles Clay, Dolphins: Clay was one of the top waiver wire pickups last year and has thus become a fantasy football favorite. After being targeted just 58 times during his first two seasons, Clay emerged out of nowhere in 2013, receiving 103 targets from QB Ryan Tannehill, and turning that into 759 yards and six touchdowns. He even got seven carries, which netted him one score. 2014 hasn’t started quite as well. In two games, the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder has nine catches for a measly 58 yards. Mike Wallace has clearly garnered a lot of attention in new OC Bill Lazor’s offense, and in until we start to see the Charles Clay from last year, he’s a guy you should be sitting.
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