Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em – Week 10
Bye Week Teams
Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins
Every week, there are certain fantasy studs who you simply have to start no matter what. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and A.J. Green fall into that category, to name a few. There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit. Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. KC, Monday night) – Big Ben hasn’t been outstanding this year, but he’s been consistent enough through the halfway point of the season to be ranked eighth in fantasy points per game. He’s also been extremely accurate, ranking fourth in the league in completion percentage (67.1) while tossing up the second-fewest interceptions (4) of all starting QBs. This Monday night, the Steelers return home to face a Kansas City Chiefs team that has allowed the third-most TDs and seventh-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks so far this season. With their backfield still a bit jumbled, look for Pittsburgh to let Big Ben pass his way to a victory and give his fantasy owners QB1 stats for the week.
Andrew Luck (at Jax, Thursday night) – Even though Andrew Luck has thrown for just three touchdowns in his last five games, he’s still seventh in the league in fantasy points per game. The reason being is because he’s also managed to rush for four TDs during that stretch while averaging 284.6 passing yards a game. His Thursday night performance against the Jaguars wasn’t quite the explosion I was figuring on, but it wasn’t bad either. Luck completed a season-high 69.2 percent of his passes (18-for-26) for 227 yards, though his only touchdowns on the night would come on the ground as he ran for two TDs en route to an Indianapolis 27-10 victory. FINAL STATISTICS: 18-for-26 – 227 yards – 0 TDs – 1 INT // 7 rushes - 11 yards - 2 TDs
Ryan Fitzpatrick (at NE) – Not sure if I’ve ever had a tougher time putting a player in my top-10 than I did with Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. However, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t feel it was deserved. If you can believe it, in three games over the last two seasons, the former seventh-round pick out of Harvard has averaged 342 yards and 2.7 touchdowns against the Patriots. I might consider numbers like these a bit of a fluke if it weren’t for New England’s porous as hell pass defense. So far this season, the Patriots have given up the third most passing TDs, the fifth-most passing yards per game and the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. Basically, if you have either Aaron Rodgers or RGIII on a bye, or simply wanted to give your fantasy team a nice boost with a sleeper pick this week, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your man.
Josh Freeman (vs. SD) – What Big Josh Freeman has been able to do over the last four weeks is simply amazing. During that time, Freeman has averaged 314.3 yards and 2.8 touchdowns a game and now finds himself within the top-10 in fantasy points per game for QBs (ninth). My only question is whether he can actually keep up a streak like this because even though the fantasy numbers have been there, he’s still put up just a 56.7 completion percentage which needless to say, is pretty darn bad. This week the Bucs will be at home against a San Diego Chargers defense that has allowed just 310 total passing yards and no TDs in their last two games, though the numbers may be a little misguiding with rookie Brandon Weeden and god-awful Matt Cassel being the two QBs they faced. In the four games prior, they allowed an average of 301.3 passing yards and three TDs a game, numbers Freeman should be a little closer to than the other ones.
Eli Manning (at Cin) – Eli Manning has been slowly falling down the fantasy ladder for about a month now as he has only two touchdown passes and one game throwing for over 200 yards in the Giants last four games. Granted, New York has won three of those four games and only lost the other one by a mere four points, but that doesn’t really mean too much to his fantasy owners now, does it. This week, Eli goes into Cincinnati to face a Bengals defense that seems to hold their own just fine (fantasy-wise) against the lesser QBs of the league, but have a bit of trouble containing the better ones. Despite his recent slump, I would still consider Eli Manning to be an elite QB both in real life and in fantasy, so with WR Hakeem Nicks getting very close to full health, look for the Giants QB to come out of his funk this Sunday.
Others with QB1 Potential:
Philip Rivers (at TB)
Carson Palmer (at Bal)
Andy Dalton (vs. NYG)
Ryan Tannehill (vs. Ten)
Joe Flacco (vs. Oak)
Jake Locker (at Mia)
Stevan Ridley (vs. Buf) – Ridley seems to have had one of the more up-and-down seasons in fantasy this year, although after looking at the numbers, I was amazed by what I found. Exactly halfway through the season, Ridley is on pace for 300 carries, 1,432 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s also put up 100 rushing yards in half of his games and currently ranks seventh in fantasy points per game. It’s true he’s been a bit of a boom-or-bust guy as well putting up three games of 6.5 fantasy points or less thus far, but the booms have outstanding and well worth getting him in the starting lineup each week. Stevan’s biggest fantasy game of the season came in Week 4 against these same Buffalo Bills when he rushed for over 100 yards and ran in two touchdowns on the day. Can he repeat those numbers this Sunday? It’s a tall task, but well within the realms of possibility.
Willis McGahee (at Car) – I’m not sure people realize how much of a difference it makes when players and teams take on a foe outside of their conference. The NFC has no idea what to expect from the AFC and of course the same holds true in the reverse. This generalization undoubtedly holds true when it comes to Willis McGahee. In his two games against the NFC so far this season, McGahee put up his two highest rushing totals (122 and 113 yards) and three of his four touchdowns while amassing over 5.2 yards per carry when his season average is just 4.2 YPC. See what I mean? This week he takes on an NFC-based Carolina Panthers team that has improved their run defense as the year has gone by, but it’s not quite good enough to buck the AFC-NFC trend.
Doug Martin (vs. SD) – Alright, so we’ve heard all the stories now about how Doug Martin broke all sorts of fantasy league records after rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders last week. What you may NOT know, however, is that throughout NFL history, six other players have rushed for 200-plus yards and four TDs in the same game; Clinton Portis (2003), Mike Anderson (2000), Corey Dillon (1997), Barry Sanders (1991), Cookie Gilchrist (1963) and Jim Brown (1961). Rare company indeed. Martin’s 386 rushing yards and six touchdowns over the past two weeks has been ridiculous, but you have to think it slows down a bit this Sunday against a Chargers defense that allows the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (84.0) and the fifth-fewest yards per carry (3.7), as well as just a half a rushing TD per game. I still expect some nice numbers, but don’t expect lightning to strike twice this weekend.
Frank Gore (vs. StL) – Frank Gore and the rest of the 49ers offense should be raring to go after their nice little mid-season bye last weekend. Just prior to the week off, the ‘Niners were doing all they could to keep Frank the Tank good and rested for a strong second-half push, so I expect them to start amping up his touches again as they look to gain home-field advantage for the playoffs. Despite his recent lack of usage, Gore still sits just outside the top-ten in fantasy points a game, though it wouldn’t shock me to see him jump up a couple of spots after an afternoon against the Rams this Sunday. Across the pond in England back in Week 8, the Patriots drubbed this St. Louis rush D for over 150 rushing yards, two touchdowns and 34.5 fantasy points, so it stands to reason that the NFL’s top-ranked rushing offense will be able to do the same.
Michael Turner (at NO) – He ain’t pretty and he ain’t sexy, but damn does the Centaur get the job done. He’s visibly slow compared to the rest of the league at this point and might have trouble beating out a cement mixer in a race, but with the Falcons offense being so wide open right now, defenses are forced to play back and let Atlanta run whenever they want. This is exactly what happened last week against the Cowboys when Turner rushed for 102 yards and a three-yard touchdown. This week he gets to take on a New Orleans Saints defense that has allowed the most rushing yards, the most total yards and the fourth-most points per game in the league this year. The Atlanta and New Orleans offenses also both rank in the top-ten in points per game this season, so in a game that looks like the shootout matchup of the week, you’d have to think that Turner will at least be a nice contributor to the overall offensive onslaught of the game.
Others with RB1 Potential:
C.J. Spiller (at NE)
Ryan Mathews (at TB)
Reggie Bush (vs. Ten)
Pierre Thomas (vs. Atl)
Isaac Redman (vs. KC, Monday night)
Joique Bell (at Min)
Marcel Reece (at Bal)
Shane Vereen (vs. Buf)
Julio Jones (at NO) – The man formally known as the “Predator” (before shaving off his dreds) is turning it on and giving fantasy owners reason to believe again, folks. Though he’s only been targeted 11 times over the last two weeks combined, he was still able to manage two 100-yard games against a couple of pretty darn good pass defenses. The Atlanta offense has been rolling all year long and will now get to face a league-worst Saints pass defense in Week 10. Matt Ryan and his offense are going to have to score a bunch against New Orleans if they want to win, so there should be more targets than normal out there for Julio to snag. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Jones has been a MUCH better receiver on the road throughout his 21-game career, putting up over 1,100 yards and 10 TDs in 11 away games versus 451 yards and three TDs in 10 home games. This one’s a no-brainer.
Wes Welker (vs. Buf) – As you would expect from a midget NFL player around this time, Wes Welker is dealing with bumps and bruises galore, but should be no worse for the wear this weekend after enjoying a nice bye week in order to rest his old, miniature bones. Fantasy owners should have loved it as well, as Welker had just put up a couple of major stinkers in the two weeks prior. This weekend he’ll be facing off with one of his (and ours) favorite teams to go against when the Buffalo Bills come to town. Earlier this season, the Slot Machine put up nine catches for 129 yards versus the Bills secondary while last season he combined for 22 catches, 268 yards and two touchdowns against them. Being fully rested at this point, I like his chances for a big game.
Marques Colston (vs. Atl) – Marques Colston is currently on pace for career-highs in targets, receiving yards, touchdowns and most importantly—fantasy points. After a slow start to the season, Marques has pulled it together for his fantasy owners by averaging top-10 fantasy points over the last five weeks and with an inter-division matchup with the Falcons on tap, there’s no reason to believe his streak will change. Last year against Atlanta he averaged 7.5 catches for 97 yards while grabbing one touchdown in two games, numbers I can easily see him repeating with the touchdown going in his favor in this one.
Vincent Jackson (vs. SD) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—if there’s one thing Vincent Jackson does well in this game, it’s taking full advantage of a poor pass defense. Not that San Diego is awful by any means, but combining the facts that they’re still dealing with an injury or two and that there is no doubt they’ll have to pinch in their safeties to defend against RB Doug Martin, Jackson should have no problem being able to put up some fine WR1 numbers this weekend. Vincent has had five great games out of eight this year with each of them coming against suspect pass Ds (Giants, Redskins, Chiefs, Saints and Raiders). I expect this week’s game to be his sixth.
Eric Decker (at Car) – Eric Decker now has five straight games with a touchdown catch (seven TDs in that span) and to be honest, I’m not shocked in the slightest bit. When you consider the situation he’s in, his rise to prominence had to at least be on the radar for fantasy owners this year. The situation I’m talking about is Decker’s current role as the “WR2” in a Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos offensive attack. When you look back at the last decade of Manning’s career, there hasn’t been a single year he didn’t get his WR2 at least recognized as a start-able option in the fantasy world and more often than not, some form of a starring role. Eric Decker is every bit as good as Reggie Wayne was years ago and better than Pierre Garcon ever was, so if you were one of the forward-thinking owners or just a guy who took a chance in your draft, kudos to you as Decker currently stands as the fifth-best wide receiver in points per game this season. Oh, and yes, he’s going to have another touchdown this week.
Others with WR1 Potential:
Denarius Moore (at Bal)
Brandon Lloyd (vs. Buf)
Torrey Smith (vs. Oak)
Titus Young (at Min)
Hakeem Nicks (at Cin)
Kenny Britt (at Mia)
Mike Williams (vs. SD)
Brian Hartline (vs. Ten)
Donald Jones (at NE)
Ryan Broyles (at Min)
Emmanuel Sanders (vs. KC, Monday night)
Chris Givens (at SF)
Harry Douglas (at NO)
Jason Witten (at Phi) – After a slow start to the season due to a scary injury with a lacerated spleen, Jason Witten now has at least six receptions in each of his last five games and leads all tight ends in both targets and receptions. He also ranks second in receiving yards and would undoubtedly be a top-three TE option this year if those damn pesky touchdowns could ever catch up to his other on-field production. Witten didn’t play very well against the Eagles last year, but was outstanding in 2010 which is actually right in tune with his career trend against them. Not that I put too much stock in this sort of stuff, but Witten usually does his best work versus Philadelphia in even-numbered years, so if you believe in superstitions, you might want to get Jason in your lineup. The fact that he’s third in the league in fantasy points per game over the last five weeks should have nothing to do with it.
Antonio Gates (at TB) – Gates hasn’t been much of a fantasy force for his owners this season, but being the ultra-competitor that he is, he let his pride take over in last week’s inter-division matchup with the Chiefs and it didn’t let him down. The numbers weren’t great by any means, but he looked good in grabbing three balls for 43 yards while taking in the all-important first touchdown of the game. This week he takes on another defense in Tampa Bay that holds tight ends to very few receptions, but also allowed three touchdowns in their last three games. The Chargers are going to have to pass the ball to win this one, so I expect Gates to at least see a good amount of targets and possibly put up his fourth TD in his last four games.
Brandon Pettigrew (at Min) – Brandon Pettigrew hasn’t been a slice of apple pie with ice cream for his fantasy owners this season, but if there’s one team you want to get him in your starting lineup against, it’s the Minnesota Vikings. Nearly every player in every sport has that one specific team that they simply love to go up against and for Pettigrew, it’s the Minnesota Vikings. He may not get you a touchdown this week, but he’ll definitely make up for it in receptions and possibly yardage as he’s averaged eight receptions for almost 79 yards against them in their last three matchups. He also threw in one of his rare touchdowns against them last season, so you at least know it’s a possibility.
Others with TE1 Potential:
Owen Daniels (at Chi, Sunday night)
Heath Miller (vs. KC, Monday night)
Brent Celek (vs. Dal)
Greg Olsen (vs. Den)
Scott Chandler (at NE)
Martellus Bennett (at Cin)
Jermaine Gresham (vs. NYG)
Zach Miller (vs. NYJ)
Anthony Fasano (vs. Ten)
Tony Romo (at Phi) – Not a big fan of this week’s matchup for Mr. Romo at all. Nope, not one bit. Not only did the Philadelphia pass defense just hold fantasy’s league-leading QB, Drew Brees, to his second-worst performance of the year last week, but the Eagles have also been a career-long nemesis for Antonio Ramiro Romo as he’s averaged just 166.3 passing yards and less than a touchdown a game against them in 12 career matchups. Could he surprise and put up some decent fantasy points this week? Sure, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t want to hook my fantasy trailer to it if I needed a win.
Matt Schaub (at Chi, Sunday night) – Matt Schaub has pretty much depended on Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels this year for his passing numbers, so with ‘Dre likely to be shadowed by shutdown CB Charles Tillman and Owen Daniels at far less than 100 percent, do you really think he’s going to somehow be able penetrate the Bears’ top-of-the-line monster defense? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Jay Cutler (vs. Hou, Sunday night) – Not like it’s much of a shock to see Jay Cutler listed here in the Sit ‘Em aisle, but this is REALLY one of those weeks where you want to sit him on your bench. Every once in a while, Cutler will surprise and put up 20 or so fantasy points like he did last week. However, with the Texans defensive coordinator (Bum Phillips) already announcing that they plan on double-teaming Brandon Marshall all game, you kind of have to question where exactly Cutler would go to get even HALF of those points. Nowhere is the answer, which is exactly why you need to sit him.
BYE WEEK QBs
Cleveland – Brandon Weeden
Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers
Washington – Robert Griffin III
Jonathan Stewart (vs. Den)
Chris Johnson (at Mia)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. NYG)
Shonn Greene (at Sea)
Steven Jackson (at SF)
BYE WEEK RBs
Arizona – LaRod Stephens-Howling / William Powell
Steve Smith (vs. Den)
Andre Johnson (at Chi, Sunday night)
Dez Bryant (at Phi)
Jeremy Maclin (vs. Dal)
Michael Crabtree (vs. StL)
Eddie Royal (at TB) – QUESTIONABLE – Hamstring
BYE WEEK WRs
Jacob Tamme (at Car)
Dennis Pitta (vs. Oak)
Marcedes Lewis (vs. Ind, Thursday night)
Dwayne Allen (at Jax, Thursday night)
BYE WEEK TEs
Green Bay – Jermichael Finley
Washington – Logan Paulsen / Chris Cooley
Listen & subscribe to our Pyro® Weekly Podcasts: http://pyromaniac.buzzsprout.com
Follow Pyro® on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pyroman1ac
Like us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/pyromaniac