Giants at Saints, Ravens at Vikins, Bears at Falcons — this week is filled with a lot of exciting football. Who should be on your bench, and who should be in your lineup? We break down all the games below.
Who to start: Cedric Benson
Houston is lousy against the run and have been decimated up the middle.
Others to start: Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels, Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco
As some have commented on here in the Cafe, Cincy locks out teams’ #1 WRs and that this correspondingly opens up plays for the #2. The path of devastation is consistent: Brandon Marshall/Eddie Royal, Greg Jennings, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Derrick Mason. While true, it’s tough to bench Johnson. Walter and Daniels may benefit wildly.
Others to consider: Steve Slaton, Andre Caldwell
Who to bench: Laveranues Coles
It’s no longer even worth considering starting him.
Others to bench: Cin Def, Hou Def
Who to start: Aaron Rodgers
Others to start: Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, GB Def
Grant doesn’t have a great history against Detroit — 126 yards in 2 games last year, with no TDs. Jennings’ public request for more touches was timed well for the coaches to game-plan that into an easy matchup.
Others to consider: Brandon Pettigrew, Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Kevin Smith, Jermichael Finley
With Calvin Johnson hobbled and listed as Questionable, Johnson and Northcutt would start. The two of them, and Pettigrew, would likely see the most targets if Johnson doesn’t play.
Who to bench: Stafford/Culpepper
Matthew Stafford is still dealing with a knee injury and is listed as Questionable. Daunte Culpepper started in his place last week. Whoever gets the start this week gets a pressure-based defense coming off a bye.
Others to bench:
Wildcards: Calvin Johnson (Q)
Listed as Questionable with a knee-injury suffered last week.
Who to start: Maurice Jones-Drew
MJD will need to back up the talk after complaining last week about not getting enough touches.
Others to start: Marc Bulger, Donnie Avery, Steven Jackson, Torry Holt, Mike Sims-Walker
After posting a perfect QB rating (7 of 7 in relief of Kyle Boller), Bulger faces a defense Seattle tore apart last week for for aerial scores and with no meaningful pass rush. Avery, the team’s WR1, appears to be getting into a groove as be recovers from injury and would be the most likely beneficiary of a similar shellacking. S-Jax, while not explosive, has been a consistent option despite not scoring a TD. Holt has reason to perform well as he plays his former team of ten years. Holt led the Jags in receiving last week as Sims-Walker was suddenly deactivated (reportedly for violating team rules in breaking curfew to visit a lady friend). MSW returns in time for another desirable matchup.
Others to consider: David Garrard
Garrard was pretty lousy last week, but don’t let that cloud your vision: he’s not the 323/3 like against the Titans, but he’s not the player that showed up against Seattle. His most explosive WR, Mike Sims-Walker, will (likely?) be back.
Who to bench: Jax Def
They have no pass rush and issues in the secondary leave them exposed: 18th against the run, 30th against the pass.
Who to start: Adrian Peterson
Not a juicy matchup: Benson ripped them because Ravens defenders overpursued. They’ve pledged they fixed the problems this week and face a bigger test in Peterson. I’m not saying you bench your stud, just don’t expect a studly performance.
Others to start: Sidney Rice, Brett Favre, Visanthe Shiancoe, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Todd Heap, Mark Clayton
As I noted last week, Baltimore has struggled for the last few years against the pass. They’ve now fallen to 26th in passing y/g. One of the more interesting nuggets I’ve run across recently: they’re especially vulnerable to tall receivers. Enter the 6′4″ Rice, a WR Favre has grown comfortable with as a red-zone target.
Others to consider: Bal Def, Kelley Washington; Min Def, Bernard Berrian
Both teams feature offenses recently considered conservative or impotent but have proven this year to be able to pile on the points. The lack of parity in the league means, any given week, another defense could face one worst teams in the league: the bottom 9 teams are a combined 5-39.
Who to bench: Willis McGahee
One of the surprises in fantasy football the first few weeks, McGahee has fallen flat the last two weeks. Last Sunday hosting the Bengals, he had one reception and one rush attempt.
Others to bench: LeRon McClain
You weren’t really thinking of playing him, were you?
Wildcards: Derrick Mason
He’s been dealing with a neck injury and last week was blanketed.
Who to start: Drew Brees
Others to start: Eli Manning, Steve Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG Def, Marques Colston, NO Def
Don’t be overly confident in how the defenses will perform. Jacobs underperforming, Bradshaw could break some plays.
Others to consider: Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, Reggie Bush, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs
The Giants have issues in their front seven. Despite their defensive reputation, they are ranked 15th against the run and could be gashed as they struggle to contain the Saints’ passing game. They may try to force the ball out of Brees’ hands, instead of giving him time to throw deep passing to the speedy Henderson. The better route-running Moore could benefit. With Manningham dealing with a bruised chest, the explosive Nicks could have a significant impact in what could turn into a barn-burner. Despite the fact he’s averaging 3.5 y/c and facing a Saints defense giving up 3.7 yards per rush, the Giants may try to keep Brees on the sidelines by pounding Jacobs.
Who to start: Ben Roethlisberger
He’ll have enough time to put up respectable stats before the Steelers focus on the ground game or pull him.
Others to start: Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Pit Def
The Steelers will probably run far more than they pass, and Ward and Holmes likely won’t get many passes, but the 27th-ranked pass defense will give the two opportunities to break them.
Others to consider: Derek Anderson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Jerome Harrison, Willie Parker
Cleveland will likely get behind early and give Anderson time to pick up garbage points. Anderson and Massaquoi were horrendous last week, but better the week before — 269 yards and two total TDs for Anderson, 148 yards for Mohamed. Harrison is a better option out of the backfield than Jamal Lewis as Cleveland will likely need to air it out to stay in the game. Back from his turf toe injury, Parker will earn a share of the carries. How much? It’s been stated it will depend on who’s the hot hand and the flow of the game.
Who to bench: Jamal Lewis
Lewis came out of nowhere last week. That was largely due to facing Buffalo, a defense struggling with injuries and a offense weak enough to allow Cleveland to stay in the game and pound the ball. With the Browns likely struggling to stay in the game this week, they’ll go to the air. Lewis offers no value in such situations.
Others to bench: Mike Furrey
He’s actually Cleveland’s #2 WR.
Who to start: Jake Delhomme
Ouch. In a game lacking offensive oomph, Delhomme earns headliner honors. His Week 1 meltdown is fading from memory. Now he faces another mediocre defense.
Others to start: Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Johnathan Stewart, Muhsin Muhammad, Kellen Winslow
Player history (15rec, 229y, TD last year in 2 games) and TB’s defense this year suggest big-time boom this Sunday. On the flip-side, Muhammad will likely be facing 1-on-1 coverage as TB seeks to reign in Smith. Stewart appears to be over his Achilles injury and had 39 yards and a TD last week, which limits Williams’ ceiling. Winslow is the 2nd-highest scoring TE in a number of leagues I’m in and may have a connection with QB Josh Johnson
Others to consider: Josh Johnson, Carnell Williams, Antonio Bryant
Some may not notice how bad Carolina is on defense this year (30th against the pass). Josh Johnson appeared more impressive last week in his second start; he’s an athletic QB who has 81 rushing yards in his two games this year.
Who to bench: TB Def, Car Def
Don’t bench the defenses because this will be a high-scoring game. Bench them because they just aren’t good Ds.
Who to start: Santana Moss
Miles Austin’s big game last week against Kansas City (250 yards, 2 TDs) exposed how bad they were at tackling in the secondary. An inadequate KC defense that can’t apply pressure (27th in sacks) will give Jason Campbell enough time to fling it deep.
Others to start: Clinton Portis, Jason Campbell, Matt Cassel
It’s tough to call Campbell a start, but a soft matchup gives him appeal. Cassel has looked much better of late, averaging 2 TDs each week for the past 3 weeks. Be aware, though, that LT Brandon Albert will not be playing.
Others to consider: Dwayne Bowe, Chris Cooley
Bowe has been consistent, but faces a tough matchup as the Redskins are ranked 3rd against the pass. With LT Chris Samuels out (and possibly done for the year), Cooley could again be kept at the line of scrimmage to block.
Who to bench: Was Def
Who to start: Phi Def
Will Philly’s name-brand skill players (McNabb, Westbrook) blow up? The matchup is there for them, but Philly could rely on the youngsters like McCoy to carry them through an easy matchup.
Others to start: Donovan McNabb, Jeremy Maclin
Who will Oakland’s premier corner cover? Nnamdi Asomugha typically sets on the right side, freeing Philly to shift Maclin or DJax to the other side. However, Oak coach Tom Cable has made noise of moving Asomugha to cover the better WR.
Others to consider: Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Michael Bush
Who will get the majority of carries in a game the Eagles will likely focus on the run? Unknown, meaning both Westy and McCoy not automatic starts. CB Nnamdi Asoumgha may be matched up on Philly’s best WR. Given how TB’s defensive focus on him last week led coach Andy Reid to throw the ball elsewhere, this is bad news for Jackson owners. Bush is the Raiders player mostly likely to put up useful stats. Given he’s a RB and Oakland will likely be forced from the run, he’s not an automatic start, either.
Who to bench: JaMarcus Russell
Jeez, you’re desperate if you’re even thinking about starting Russell.
Others to bench: Chaz Schilens
Schilens, possibly the most skilled Oak WR, is at least a week away from returning.
Who to start: Nate Burleson
Facing one of the worst pass defenses in the league, Burleson is a must-start after apparently recovering sufficiently from the back issue that cropped up during last week’s game.
Others to start: Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Matt Hasselbeck
Seattle does have a skilled defense and Warner might not find the going easy.
Others to consider: Tim Hightower, Chris Wells
Who to bench: Sea Def
It’s hard to play a defense that’s so inconsistent. Then, you realize they’re playing a high-powered offense, something the Jags (last week’s opponent) can’t come close to saying.
Others to bench: Julius Jones, Ari Def, Sea Def
Arizona’s defense gives up a measly 71 yards on the ground a week. They’re much weaker in the air, where Hasselbeck will likely focus Seattle’s offense. Both defenses should be benched in what will likely be a shootout.
Who to start: Tom Brady
The Patriots will face the 31st-ranked pass defense missing their two starting CBs. This could be the game Brady blows up for you.
Others to start: Chris Johnson, Randy Moss, Wes Welker
Johnson is getting close to falling out of must-start territory. Welker is finally off the injury report.
Others to consider: Kerry Collins, NE Def, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
It’s a struggle to figure out which Tennessee WR will get the benefit of playing catch-up. Each has randomly had a big day (and been shut out) for no apparent reason. The Patriots’ passing game is struggling to regain form, its rushing game is often ignored and their defense is filled with young players and ones that make you ask “Who?” This could turn into a blowout early, so all four Patriots RBs could put up usable stats. Fred Taylor is out after having a surgery, so there’s one less mouth to feed.
Who to bench: Ten Def
Tennessee’s defense is struggling against lesser offenses.
Others to bench: LenDale White
As the Titans have struggled to stay in games, White has lost touches. Despite being the more effective RB, he had 10 last week.
Who to start: Thomas Jones
Run, Run, Run. With the Jets facing injuries at WR, they’ll establish the run.
Others to start: Mark Sanchez
This will be an easy game. Sanchez will get his points, but he won’t do much.
Others to consider: Leon Washington, Terrell Owens, Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Lee Evans
The Jets’ll run so much, Washinton might get heavy usage on a team missing it’s three opening-day starters at LB. Some of Buffalo’s skill players might pick up some useful garbage time stats.
Who to bench: Trent Edwards
The Jets’ defense will have a field day
Others to bench: Buf Def
Who to start: Matt Ryan
QBs are doing pretty well against the Bears this year, and judging from last week, the Falcons offense is clicking on all cylinders.
Others to start: Roddy White, Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez
The Falcons are giving up the 10th most points to RBs, which is good news for Forte. Roddy White had a huge game in Week 5 and is unbenchable now.
Others to consider: Jay Cutler, Greg Olsen
Cutler has been great this season and is hard to bench right now, but there are guys with better matchups.
Who to bench: Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett
Good luck deciding which of these guys are a good play.
Others to bench: Atl Def, Chi Def
Should be a high-scoring game.
Who to start: Knowshon Moreno
San Diego has had an awful time trying to stop rushing offenses. Moreno is the lead back here after doing a great job with Correll Buckhalter sidelined in Week 5. Moreno should produce like a RB1 on Monday.
Others to start: Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Gates
But temper your expectations. Jackson has a tough matchup, but that hasn’t stopped him in the past.
Others to consider: Philip Rivers, Kyle Orton, Eddie Royal, Den Def
Rivers is likely matchup-proof. Royal finally showed signs of life last week, while Denver has had one of the best defenses all season long.
Who to bench: LaDainian Tomlinson
Tough matchup for him, plus who knows how good he’ll look coming back from injury?
Others to bench: Darren Sproles, Chris Chambers, Tony Scheffler, San Diego D
Kevin Pina is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Kevin in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Kareighuis.
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