*Teams on Bye*: NY Giants, San Francisco
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Philip Rivers hasn’t throw for less than 2 TDs since Week 1 and has at least 200 passing yards in every game this season. I don’t even know why I’m bringing him up, if by now you haven’t realized he’s a top-10 fantasy QB every week then you may never agree with me. I’ve dropped Keenan Allen by now, no reason to keep him on your team in 10-team leagues in my opinion. The only question on the Broncos is who won’t score? I think Welker is the weakest of the bunch, so I’d feel great starting any Bronco, but him.
Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (9:30 AM EST)
You read that right, this game is on at 9:30 AM on the East Coast, so my sympathies for West Coast viewers; 6:30 AM is brutal. Also brutal: the Falcons offense. Over the last 3 weeks Matt Ryan's performance has declined, which has resulted in worse performances by Julio Jones. The Lions have a great defense, so I’m not putting faith in Ryan to have a big game here. I’d sit him. Amid his recent struggles, Jones is still one of the best WRs in the league and it’s hard not to see him bouncing back sooner rather than later. I think Roddy White is a Flex play, and I’m not starting any Falcons RBs. Not much to say for the Lions other than I think the DST, Golden Tate, and Joique Bell are great starts here. I don’t expect Megatron to play, but if he does I’d honestly sit him and wait till after next week’s bye to use him again. If Reggie Bush plays I give him Flex consideration solely due to how bad the Falcons run defense is.
Chicago Bears at New England Patriots
Upset with Brandon Marshall’s subpar performances lately? I am, and I blame Jay Cutler. Apparently Cutler thinks Matt Forte is the team’s best WR, which is how he’s been treating this offense lately. I love Forte as an every week starter, and he’s arguably the top RB in PPR leagues, but there’s no way he should have 52 receptions on the season compared to Marshall’s 31. Alshon Jeffrey isn’t much higher with 33 catches on the season, so I think Cutler needs to look for his dynamic duo more than focusing so much on Forte. Both WRs belong in your lineup, and although I expect Revis to shadow Marshall, the latter vented his frustrations to his QB so I think he’ll get more looks. Julian Edelman let his fantasy owners down with two pretty big drops last week, which is uncharacteristic for him. He’s been hit or miss this year, but against the Bears defense I think this week we’ll get a good performance from Edelman. Brady stays a top-10 QB this week, and although I don’t expect another 2 TD performance for Shane Vereen, I do think the speedy back will have a good day. I like the Pats defense against the turnover prone Cutler.
St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs
I expect this to be a low scoring game, so I think the options are very limited. Tre Mason was a surprise start to me, and his production against the Seahawks was even more surprising. I like Mason as a Flex play and that’s pretty much it for the Rams. I don’t like Brian Quick this week, and Jared Cook would be a desperation play for those of you struggling at TE. For the Chiefs there’s the obvious Jamaal Charles play, but other than him I’d only use Travis Kelce (TE2) and the Chiefs DST.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
The Texans may not be playing well enough to win, but Arian Foster is surely playing well enough to help lead your team to victory. The DST is doing a good job overall and I still like DeAndre Hopkins (WR2) more than Andre Johnson (Flex). Zach Mettenberger will get the start (RIP Jake Locker Era) this week so I have to cautiously rank Kendall Wright as a Flex. I am not on the Justin Hunter bandwagon, nor am I on the Bishop Sankey bandwagon, so I’d bench both guys. Delanie Walker is a top-10 TE, so I have no problem starting him this week even with the rookie QB.
Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Jennings is a Flex play. The Bucs are last in the league versus the pass, and Jennings has been the most productive of the Vikings WRs. I’m ignoring Cordarrelle’s TD last week and leaving him on my bench with Matt Asiata. Jerick McKinnon is clearly the better RB, and he’s an RB2 for me. I think Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are Flex plays, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Evans had the better game. Evans has 36 targets on the season compared to VJax’s 60, yet the former only has 4 less catches than the latter (also keep in mind Evans has missed a game). I can’t see why anyone would think it’s a good idea to start Doug Martin (BENCH!) and I think Bobby Rainey is too boom-or-bust to play. I do have a Sleeper Selection for this matchup and it’s Louis Murphy. Murphy is averaging 9 targets a game and has had at least 9 fantasy points in each. 3 games is a small sample size, but with his production so far he’s definitely a sleeper.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Is the Seahawks defense still start-worthy? They haven’t been good for most of the season and the Panthers passing game is doing fairly well, so I would actually bench the Seahawks DST. They just haven’t been very good this year. Aside from Russell and Beast Mode, I’d start Doug Baldwin (WR2). He definitely capitalized off of being the #1 WR last Sunday and I think that continues. The Panthers are the same bunch they’ve been for most of the year: start Cam, Olsen and Benjamin (WR2). The RB roulette just isn’t worth the headache, and no other WR has done enough to warrant play.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Flacco had a decent week in his first matchup against the Bengals, but the latter’s defense looks like it has gotten worse since then. Flacco didn’t perform like I thought he would last week, so I’m not going to make the mistake 2 weeks in a row of suggesting you start him. Justin Forsett is an RB1, and should join Steve Smith (WR1) and Torrey Smith (Flex) in your starting lineups. I would say be wary of the Ravens DST this week. AJ Green may be back, and if he is it should clear up the running game for Giovani Bernard. I’m not saying you should start Andy Dalton, but I think Green and Mohamed Sanu (Flex) could do well here.
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars
Charles Clay finally had a good game, but I’m not ready to say he belongs in your lineup yet. He should play well here, and if he can make it 2 weeks in a row then I’ll start having faith in him. Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace (WR2) are the Dolphins that you want to rely on, and due to their opponent I love the Dolphins DST this week. The Jaguars are using Denard Robinson as their starter, and it paid off well last week. Unfortunately for him he’s going against a solid Dolphins defense, so I’m not ranking him any more than a desperate Flex play for this week. I hope those of you hurt by RB injuries picked up Denard. I don’t like any of the Jags WRs, but Allen Robinson has been the most consistent of the bunch and I anticipate Blake Bortles needing to throw. The rookie WR is a Sleeper Selection.
Buffalo Bills at NY Jets
CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson are injured, so Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will split carries at RB. I have to say I wouldn’t be confident in either, but if you have to use one I’d say pick Dixon. Brown has been inactive all season, so Dixon is likely to get the most play here and he has been averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Sammy Watkins has been playing very well, so against the Jets I think he’s a WR2. Continuing my weekly theme, start the Bills DST, because Geno Geno Geno. If the Jets lean on Chris Ivory like they did last week, I think he can be a solid RB2. The Bills do have a great run defense so I don’t want to hype Ivory up too much, but he has been effective when given the opportunity. I’m not sure what the addition of Percy Harvin means for this passing game, and I’m not going to automatically believe Harvin is worth a spot in your starting lineup. I think Eric Decker (Flex) will be the better of the two this week, and I’d actually sit Harvin here.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
The Eagles offense played well in its last game except for Jeremy Maclin. I think Maclin bounces back, maybe not as a top-10 play, but surely a WR2 at the least. For those of you that didn’t give up on LeSean McCoy, I think he’s back. He may have some trouble against this defense, but he’s at least an RB2. Zach Ertz has at least 5 targets in his last 3 games, so he’s my Sleeper Selection for this matchup. Foles (QB1) can’t solely throw to Maclin all game. Andre Ellington has solidified his RB1 status, and due to his large workload Stepfan Taylor may be worth a pickup. He’s TD dependent, but he’ll be around to give Ellington a break here and there. Carson Palmer should have a good game here, and his presence keeps Michael Floyd at a WR2 level. It may have been premature to elevate Larry Fitzgerald to a reliable status, as that really isn’t the case. Fitz is a Flex for me this week.
Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Not much to see here. I like James Jones, Andre Holmes, and Darren McFadden as low end Flex plays. I rank McFadden the highest of them all since he has played fairly well over the last 3 games. For the Browns I’d use Ben Tate (RB1), Isaiah Crowell (Flex), and Jordan Cameron (TE2). Cameron is a TE2 simply due to the matchup, keep in mind he’s been useless for most of the season.
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers
Trent Richardson had his best rushing game of the year, but also injured his hamstring. He’s expected to play, but I boost Ahmad Bradshaw’s value a bit more due to a struggling Trent now being hurt. TY Hilton looks like the #1 WR on the Colts, and he’s appropriately a WR1 this week. Reggie Wayne will likely be out due to an elbow injury so look for Dwayne Allen (TE1) and Coby Fleener (TE2) to get extra attention. The Steelers really boast 2 start-worthy players: Le’Veon Bell (RB1) and Antonio Brown (WR1). Until someone else steps up (Heath Miller maybe?) that’s all I would suggest starting.
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
Eddie Lacy is an RB2 going into New Orleans, mainly because the latter’s defense has been horrible this year (common theme for the NFC South). They may not be giving up a ton of rushing yards, but they are giving up TDs. James Starks is a Flex play since he’s eating a bit more into Lacy’s carries. Drew Brees needs to cut down on the INTs, and hopefully that’ll be the case since he’s at home. The Packers’ pass defense has been respectable this year, so I’m not extremely high on Brandin Cooks (Flex) or Marques Colston (Flex). I expect Brees to get multiple people involved, especially Jimmy Graham who remains a matchup nightmare. Sean Payton will certainly need to make Jimmy a priority to keep this offense moving. Green Bay is doing poorly versus the run, so I’d like to place a bet on Mark Ingram being an RB2 and Travaris Cadet at a Flex spot. The latter will be involved on passing downs with Pierre Thomas injured and Khiry Robinson seemingly limited due to injury as well.
Washington Football Franchise at Dallas Cowboys
Anybody else expecting a blowout here? Am I really supposed to have faith in Colt McCoy putting up points? Am I supposed to rely on Alfred Morris (Flex) knowing he barely plays when the game gets out of hand since he isn’t involved in the passing game? DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are Flex plays as I can’t see either getting big plays out of Colt. Romo, Murray (duh), Dez (duh), and the Cowboys DST are all top-10 plays at their respective positions for me this week. Terrance Williams is a good Flex play, and Witten is a TE2. I’m not ready to jump on the Gavin Escobar bandwagon yet.
Thanks for reading, and follow me @CLNS_Marc for further coverage.