ONE TO START, ONE TO SIT
One to start, One to sit is a weekly column where each NFL game will be evaluated and the best/worst fantasy match-ups will be listed.
Atlanta Falcons @ Miami Dolphins
ATL- Matt Ryan
MIA- Ryan Tannehill
Are Ryan’s WR’s hurt? Yes. Does it matter? Unless you have Roddy or Julio, not really. In two games, Ryan has surpassed 300 yards and has thrown two TD passes. Atlanta’s strength is their passing game, which may be leaned upon more with Steven Jackson out, and pass catching RB’s Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling will be in the mix. While Miami does boast a very underrated Defense (holding Andrew Luck to 1 passing TD), Matt Ryan should have the best day out of the entire ATL offense.
Same goes with Ryan Tannehill. He has looked very impressive in his recent outings putting up good yards, but not getting over the hump of passing TD’s (he has 2 passing TD’s in 2 games). Against a Falcons def that surrenders yards through the air (giving up an average of 346.5 yards passing a game). The passing game for Miami will be the biggest factor to them putting up points. Tannehill could be in line for a sneaky QB 1 start on Sunday.
ATL- Roddy White / Jason Snelling
MIA- Lamar Miller
Roddy White isn’t a bad WR or having a down year (yet). In fact, his stats are very good. He’s caught 83.3% of all his passes. Granted he’s only had 6 passes thrown his way all season. Listed as questionable vs Miami, White’s ankle problems has seemed to slow his ability to separate from his coverage. With Atlanta hurting already (RB Steven Jackson is out, an Julio Jones is also listed as questionable with a knee injury).
Jason Snelling will be splitting time out of the backfield, filling in for Jacquizz Rodgers when he needs a breather. He performed better than Rodgers last week, getting a TD on 2 carries, and catching 4 passes for 41 yards. I don’t think he repeats those numbers this week against an underrated MIA defense. Atlanta’s rushing def has allowed just under 75 rushing yards a game. Miami has been very negligent on their running game so far (Miller’s just rushed the ball 24 times in 2 games, and has had little to do with the passing game). In a possible shootout match against Atlanta, the running game just tends to disappear as the game progresses.
I’d expect another dozen to 15 carries (at the most) for Miller. His output may very if he could get another TD, but against ATL’s stingy run defense, I don’t see it.
Buffalo Bills @ NY Jets
BUF- BUF DEF/ST
NYJ- NYJ DEF/ST
This is going to be a struggling day for both offenses. Buffalo and the Jets defense have overachieved so far with the Jets have held opposing offenses to 15 points a game, while Buffalo has averaged an INT a game and has already produced 9 sacks. While Buffalo also boasts a defense featuring Mario Williams. They are facing a Jets squad that turned the ball over 6 times already, are starting a rookie qb, and feature a running game that is less than stellar.
The Jets are also in the same boat, except the rookie QB they’re playing has only turned the ball over once, and feature an elite RB in CJ Spiller. However, the Jets have also made qb’s Tom Brady and Josh Freeman look very bad while playing them. Could the trend continue with EJ Manuel?
BUF- EJ Manuel
NYJ- Geno Smith
The Jets defense has given up 181.5 yards passing a game. They’ve held Tom Brady and Josh Freeman to 14 points or less. EJ Manuel is improving, but I don’t see big numbers coming his way against the Jets. Geno Smith, isn’t a bad QB, but the lack of receiving weapons he has is atrocious. Personally, I believe he’s being lead to fail and the Jets organization needs a complete overhaul of talent to fully see how good he can be.
That being said, Buffalo is not that strong in the secondary. It’s just the pressure they can give a QB can be overwhelming for ones with less experience. Geno could save his fantasy day with some good runs, but I’d stay clear from him this week.
Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers
CHI- CHI DEF/ST
PIT- Ben Roethlisberger
I would have put Pit’s def/st here as well, but they just cannot score points defensively. 6 fantasy points in week one, -3 in week 2? Outrageous! I know this week is against Jay Cutler, but like I said before, guilty until proven innocent. That being said, without a running game, and Brown/Sanders going up against Jennings/Tillman, there’s no one left but Roethlisberger. Ben’s been averaging a little under 200 yards,1 TD, 1 INT a game.
He’s not due, nor do I have any statistical stat that may go into his favor, there’s just no one left for PIT to name. Chicago’s defense however, should have a field day in this game. Pittsburgh’s very weak offensive line should be feasted upon by Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs. With Jennings and Tillman covering Ben’s top two and only throwing options.
It’s going to either force Jericho Cotchery/ David Paulson to play out of their minds or, Pittsburgh is going to struggle all night.
CHI- Brandon Marshall
PIT- Antonio Brown
Do I have to repeat myself? Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are going to be on Brown all game. He’ll manage to catch a pass here and there, but nothing noteworthy of a breakout performance. If there’s one thing the Steelers defense can do, is to downgrade, take away an opposing team’s top WR option. Kenny Britt in week one, (1 catch, 15 yards, 2 targets), AJ Green in week 2 (6 catches, 41 yards, 14 targets).
Brandon Marshall is going to get a lot of looks in this game, he may even match what AJ Green did last week, but don’t expect another 100 plus yard game. Safety’s Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are going to be all over him (and possibly Martellus Bennett as well) making Cutler force it to Alshon Jeffery or Earl Bennett to win this game.
Cleveland Browns @ Minnesota Vikings
CLE- Josh Gordon
MIN- Jerome Simpson
Josh Gordon returns to a Browns team that’s starting their 3rd string QB, and has no threat at RB. Which leaves him and TE Jordan Cameron to carry the load. To which I’m thinking Cameron must love having another receiving threat (Davone Bess and Greg Little are awful). In his first game back, I don’t expect Gordon to breakout for over 200 yards (we’re still talking Brian Hoyer here) but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get a TD grab in this one.
MIN’s defense is getting drilled through the air, giving up 320.5 yards a game. Brian Hoyer or not, Gordon’s gotta step up in this one. Greg Jennings should be seeing Joe Haden all game, so he’s out. Which leaves room for Jerome Simpson to surprise us all once again. In week 1 he was 7 for 8 targets for 140 yards. Going up against CLE’s 2nd DB (Buster Skrine/Leon McFadden) could set up for another big game for Simpson.
CLE- Cle’s Running game
MIN- Adrian Peterson
To think Cleveland’s running game is going to be a major fantasy factor in this one is foolish. Nobody knows who’s going to take the lead and be the feature back in this one. The signing of Willis McGahee gives the Browns a RB to look at in the future. Chris Ogbonnaya should be the feature back in this game, however, the Cleveland press as well as the Browns front office have been talking up RB Bobby Rainey as if he were the starter.
So to pick any one of these three would be taking a major crap shoot. Yes, I’m taking AP as a bust, are you going to bench him? No!
But don’t be surprised if he really underperforms for you this week. Cleveland’s rushing defense has held up just under 60 yards on the ground a game. They’ve made Ray Rice look bad, as well as holding Miami to just 20 yards total. AP is a beast, and with the Browns lack of offense, they could wear down late in the game.
However, if that were not to happen, AP could be going up against one if not the best running defenses by the end of the season. DEF coordinator Ray Horton loves to pressure and bring the house, AP could be seeing 8 in the box all game.
St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
STL- Sam Bradford
DAL- Tony Romo
Both of these Defenses are getting killed against the pass. Sam Bradford continues to surprise everyone averaging 325.5 yards a game. Combine that with Dallas’ def giving up 313.5 yards a game. Whaddya get? Probably another 300 yard outing from Bradford. Like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, it’s hard to say who is going to step up and be “The Guy” this week for Bradford. Week 1 it was Jared Cook, week 2 Chris Givens and Austin Pettis. So it remains to be seen who’s going to step up and be the monster for the Rams in week 3. Tony Romo on the other hand, should have just as good of a game.
The Rams are struggling against the pass, and so far Romo’s made fantasy studs out of Jason Witten, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant (for at least 1 week each). With pass catching backs DeMarco Murray and Daryl Richardson at each QB’s side, the fantasy points should be there for both these passers.
STL- Daryl Richardson
DAL- Jason Witten
St.Louis knows how to defend against Tight Ends. Last week they held possibly the best TE in the NFL, Tony Gonzalez to just 33 yards. Witten is Romo’s security blanket, and I would imagine ST.L would try to take him out early, and force Romo to throw to Dez/Austin (which could easily come back to bite them on the butt).
Surprisingly, Dallas boasts a strong running defense, holding the Giants to 50 total rushing, and run happy KC to 114 (Jamaal Charles was held to 55 yards on 16 carries). Richardson is not a bad RB by any standards, but going up against Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware as well as ST.L possibly translating to a pass first offense, could spell low numbers for the ST.L RB.
Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins
DET- Calvin Johnson/ Joique Bell/ Matthew Stafford
WASH- Alfred Morris
Possibly the best passing offense in the NFC vs. the worst passing defense in the NFL? Sign Me Up! Expect big days from Stafford and Calvin this week, as well as Joique Bell to fill in Reggie Bush’s spot in an expanded role. No doubt in my mind that all three of these guys will put up double digit fantasy points. Washington’s offense is in a bit of a flux right now, but I’d imagine with how powerful DET’s offense is, that they would want to manage the clock, and run the ball more often in this game.
Enter Alfred Morris, last year’s 2nd highest rusher has done pretty well so far, averaging 6.1 yards a carry, but hasn’t had the chance to really break out due to Washington being out of each game by the 2nd half. I say they keep it remotely close this week and Morris finally surpasses the 20 carry marker, leading a big fantasy outing.
DET- Reggie Bush
WASH- Leonard Hankerson
Due to his knee injury, one of two things is going to happen with Reggie Bush. #1, he isn’t going to play. #2, if he does play, it’ll be in a limited role. I fully expect Joique Bell to be the lead back in this game, while Bush will see maybe 5-8 touches. Will that be enough to make a fantasy impact? With Bush it’s a possibility, but I would just lower expectations this week. Hankerson does lead the team in TD receptions, but is 3rd in targets.
While the Redskins stats are tainted due to the majority of their points coming in garbage time, it’s hard to tell if these stats are going to continue throughout the season, or are just a fluke. With Hankerson, I say fluke. While Detroit’s secondary is lacking, I don’t think Hankerson sees another TD this week.
San Diego Chargers @ Tennessee Titans
SD- Vincent Brown
TEN- Jake Locker
Do or die for Vincent Brown this week. Malcolm Floyd is out this week with a neck injury, so an increase in targets is quite probable for Brown’s case. Tennessee does have an underrated pass defense (221.5 yards per game, 3 ints), but SD has relied on the pass a lot to keep up with other teams. If Brown is going to have a breakout game, vs. Tennessee would be the appropriate time.
Call me crazy, and in no way you should start Locker over any top tier QB, but in 2 QB leagues, he’s a very sneaky starter. San Diego’s secondary is in no ways frightening to any QB. They’ve given up almost an average of 400 passing yards per game, and rank 31st in passing defense in the NFL. Locker could come up with surprising numbers in this game.
SD- Ryan Mathews
TEN- Delanie Walker
While Mathews workload does seem to be increasing, I still cannot recommend him in this matchup. Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead still are in the mix and do enough to water down Mathews’ snap count. While Tennessee’s running defense is a mixed bag (they gave up big rushing numbers to Houston but made Pittsburgh’s running game irrelevant), I don’t see it as enough to make Mathews a starter this week.
It appears that SD has fixed their defense when it comes to defending the TE, after getting scorched for two TD’s by Owen Daniels from Houston, SD battled back and made Philly stud TE Brent Celek not even a factor in their game, holding him to zero catches. While Walker does remain purely a red zone threat, chances are he doesn’t find the end zone in this matchup.
Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers
INDY- Reggie Wayne
SF- Colin Kaepernick
San Francisco does own a top 10 passing defense, but it has been proven (Aaron Rodgers in week 1) that they can be beat with the right combination of speed and talent. While Indy did just acquire a new RB in T-Rich, I’d expect them to continue their pass first ways in this one. Leading the pack in this one is TY Hilton. Granted Darrius Hayward Bay is returning to this game, and may affect Hilton’s targets, but San Fran’s secondary does seem to have a problem with speedy receivers.
So they could handle sure-handed Reggie Wayne, but the Speed of Hilton and DHB could result in major problems for them. Kaepernick should eat this defense alive like he did with GB’s. The Colts have a middle of the pack passing defense, and rank 27th against the run, giving up 136 yards on average. Kaepernick can beat you both with his arms and legs.
Expect a better outing in this one than he did against Green Bay.
INDY- Trent Richardson
SF- Frank Gore
I don’t see Trent Richardson getting a lot of carries in this game. He had arrived in Indy just a few days ago, and regardless of the front office saying he’s going to play in this game. How much time can he see on just a few days knowledge of the playbook? Expect Ahmad Bradshaw to see at least 60% of the carries in this one. I say the streak continues, and Frank Gore continues to perform horribly, leading to possibly Kendall Hunter seeing more time on the field.
The 30-year-old RB has only averaged 30 yards a game so far, and is averaging a horrible 2 yards per carry. Indy may give up a lot of yards on the ground, but with how well Kaepernick can move the ball himself or through the air, Gore may be once again left behind to pick up a TD to save his fantasy day.
Tampa Bay Bucs @ New England Patriots
TB- Doug Martin
NE- Rob Gronkowski/ Stevan Ridley/ Zach Sudfield
After what Jimmy Graham and Kellen Winslow did to this defense (…Kellen Winslow?! REALLY?!) If Gronkowski plays, he’s going to destroy this defense. If he doesn’t, this marks the Do or Die week of Zach Sudfield. A pre-season sleeper pick, he landed with a thud in week one, getting just one target and didn’t play against the Jets. Sudfield could be a sneaky pick this week if Gronk is a no go.
Also, don’t forget about Stevan Ridley. TB’s defense has looked good against the run, but that was also against the Jets and New Orleans, where running games go to die. Ridley is quickly treading along the “bust” territory if he doesn’t perform well in this one. New England’s def is suspect against the run. Giving up 132.5 yards on the ground a game (vs Jets and Buffalo). Doug Martin, broke out against the Saints for 144 yards on 29 carries.
New England has made the Jets RB’s look decent, imagine what Martin could do to him. Martin has yet to explode as a receiver, but may not have to in this game.
TB- Josh Freeman
NE- Julian Edelman
Edelman is going to be on Revis Island all game. He’s been producing great numbers as of now, but going up against Darrelle Revis, New England will have to look elsewhere to find production. Josh Freeman is going to get eaten alive by the Pats defense. After 2 horrible outings against the Jets and Saints (wow! Saints DEF showing up!), the Pats offer him no help.
With pressure coming from Hightower, Spikes,Wilfork and Mayo, as well as a very underrated secondary lead by Aqib Talib, Freeman is in for another underperforming week which could lead to his benching.
Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints
ZONA- Rashard Mendenhall
NO- Drew Brees
This is the game Drew Brees breaks out and will probably throw for 3 TD passes or more. The Cards do have an amazing cornerback in Patrick Peterson, however, he cannot cover Colston/Graham/Sproles all at once. Brees capability of spreading the ball around will keep Zona’s defense from locking in on just one target, not to mention the capability of Lance Moore, and Kenny Stills breaking one deep route. The Saints have surprised the NFL with it’s secondary so far (3 TD’s given up, 2 INT’s, averaging 196 yards a game).
But their running defense is something to be desired (opponents are averaging 124 yards through the ground). Which leads to Zona’s top rusher, Rashard Mendenhall. While he’s quietly averaging about 63 yards a game, Rashard does bring in a 4.1 yards per carry this season. If he can see enough touches, there’s only a matter of time before he reaches the end zone.
ZONA- Carson Palmer
NO- Pierre Thomas
The Saints secondary has been the story of their defense. Malcolm Jenkins is playing light out so far, and Roman Harper as well as Kenny Vaccaro have both been instrumental to the success of this defense. With Larry Fitzgerald questionable and Carson Palmer possibly being put into a shoot out, the Saint’s defense could once again rise to the occasion. Palmer hasn’t been the most accurate QB during his tenure in the NFL, so a pick or two may be coming in this game.
Pierre Thomas is the most productive RB in the Saints backfield. He’s the backup to Mark Ingram on carries, and Darren Sproles on passing downs. However, this still hasn’t translated well into fantasy football. While Thomas is averaging 4 points a week in standard leagues, it will require an injury or at least a TD to make him considerable to being a weekly fantasy starter.
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers
NYG- Eli Manning
CAR- Cam Newton
7 Interceptions in two games. I don’t care if he’s averaging 400 yards a game, 7 interceptions in 2 games is unacceptable. I apologize for going on a mini rant here, but how can NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin accept this from his QB? He benches former starting RB David Wilson for fumbling twice, but it’s okay for his quarterback to throw 3-4 interceptions a game? What kind of hypocrisy is that? Since the Giants have no running game (or won’t commit to one), Eli once again is going to lead the offense against a Panther defense that only has one INT this season, but has racked up 7 sacks.
Expect Eli to pull the same crap as in week’s 1 and 2, put up 400 yards passing, throw another 2-3 interceptions, and 2-3 TD passes. While this game has blowout/shootout written all over it, Cam should return to form. After a slow start against Buffalo (16 fantasy points), and Seattle (12 fantasy points), Cam is poised to bounce back. The Giants are in the lower half of defenses against the run, and pass. Expect Cam to break through the 20 point barrier this game.
NYG- David Wilson
CAR- CAR DEF/ST
Ever since his week 1 fiasco, Wilson’s been in the Giants doghouse. The team went out and signed Brandon Jacobs to handle the goal line/short line carries, (to which he responded with 4 yards on 7 carries… GREAT JOB GIANTS!), and furthermore, appear to have completely eliminated the running game so far, resulting in more Eli Manning interceptions (which are apparently ok… Alright done ranting). Until Wilson can at least get more than 7 carries a game, he should remain on fantasy benches. It’s unfortunate, but remains the reality of the situation.
I know I’m going a little hypocritical on putting the Panthers defense here, but for two weeks this has been the story of the Giants. They fall behind early, turnovers ensue, the opposing team jumps ahead by a lot, more turnovers follow, Giants ruin opposing defense fantasy day due to pulling it reasonably close with several garbage time TD’s. Opposing team wins 42-35. Unless Carolina can return an interception, fumble, or perform a special teams TD, I’d stay away from them in this matchup.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Seattle Seahawks
JAX- Cecil Shorts
SEA- Seattle Def/ST/Marshawn Lynch
If you’re starting anyone on Jacksonville’s offense, you’re either extremely desperate, or you’re the biggest Cecil Shorts fan ever. Shorts leads the team with targets (24) but has only 133 yards on the season on 11 catches. Seattle’s Defense has made Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis all fantasy irrelevant when going up against them. Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor are beasts in the secondary, and the front line will be enough to give Gabbert/Henne nightmares. With Shorts, lower all expectations (if he gets a TD in this game that’s a victory in itself).
Seattle’s defense should put up big numbers in this game. Jacksonville’s defense has also surrendered 173.5 yards a game on the ground, so look for a heavy dose of Lynch in this one.
JAX- Maurice Jones Drew
SEA- Russel Wilson
MJD is listed as questionable as I’m writing this, but personally I don’t think he plays. Even if he does he will be limited, look for Dernard Robinson/ Justin Forsett / or Jordan Todman to steal some carries. It could be because they’ve played 2 very heavy run oriented teams (KC/OAK) but Jacksonville’s only given up an average of 142 yards a game through the air. With Seattle boasting a run first offense, Wilson could be inclined to a very quiet day.
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
HOU- Matt Schaub
BAL- Bernard Pierce
Ray Rice is listed as doubtful, so this game will feature nothing but Bernard Pierce in the Ravens backfield. The leading rusher in Baltimore was a deep sleeper pick and one of the NFL’s highest valued handcuffs. The last time he received a full work load was in week 17 of last season, where he got 22 carries for 89 yards against Cincy. Houston’s running defense has been overrated at best, holding opposing offenses just shy of 100 yards on the ground a game. While this isn’t the best matchup for Pierce, I still feel he’s going to receive the most touches on the team and therefore has the best fantasy upside to him.
Matt Schaub has been a tale of two halves this season, drastically underperforming in the first half in both his recent games, but then turning it up in the second half, leading his team to victory. The Ravens passing defense looked a lot better against Cleveland’s shoddy offense last week after their horrific outing against Denver in week one. They now see themselves facing against a pure middle of the road QB in Schaub, one that I believe could set them back and put up some points (at least for one half).
HOU- Joe Flacco
BAL- Arian Foster
The Texans are vulnerable against the pass, they don’t give up a whole lot of yards through the air, but have given up 6 TD passes in 2 games. The Ravens seem to love passing the ball (95 attempts in 2 games), but Flacco has yet to show that greatness that lead Baltimore to a superbowl title last season. Against Cleveland and Denver, Flacco has been humbled for the most part. Cleveland manhandled him until the final quarter of the game, and the majority of Flacco’s stats against Denver came in garbage time.
I think Houston’s defense has a monster game against him as well. Arian Foster has been an interesting case this season, while still producing like a first round pick (in ppr leagues at least), he’s been nearly outperformed by Ben Tate who is receiving half his carries. At this rate, Houston may consider evening out the two and making it a 50/50 time share.
While I think Foster still leads the Texans with carries in this game. Baltimore’s fantastic run defense (giving up 65 yards a game) will keep his stat line in check.
Green Bay Packers @ Cincinnati Bengals
GB- Jermichael Finley
CIN- Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham
While Green Bay and Cincinnati will struggle with AJ Green, Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson. I think it’ll be both team’s TE’s that will break out in this one. Finley has not been shut out yet from Rodgers, catching 11 of his 15 targets this season.
Cincy has also struggled with opposing TE’s so far this season. The same goes for Green Bay. Vernon Davis burned them in week one, and with the 2 headed monster Cincy has going with Gresham and Eifert, this could lead Andy Dalton to a 300 + yard game with the potential of two 100 yard receivers.
GB- James Starks
CIN- Giovanni Bernard
I’ll admit it, I’m not a believer in James Starks. Sure he was the first Packer to rush over 100 yards in what feels like forever, but against Washington’s defense. To use that as a measuring stick at what the future could hold for him is a very short sample. This is still the same James Starks that rushed for 255 yards in 6 games last season, and 578 yards in 11 games in 2011. Cincy’s running defense will be a true test to him, if he can pull a good game out against them, I may reconsider my opinion, until them.
I say bench Starks. The same goes with Bernard. His 2 TD performance last week was fun to watch, although I still think the Cincy Backfield belongs to The Law Firm. He may see more time on passing downs, and be featured more that way, but until he can get more than 2 targets a game, I still think the hype behind Bernard is purely that, hype for now.
Come back Monday Afternoon for the Monday Night edition of Start/Sit.