Four teams are on bye this week. Who can you use to help fill in for the likes of Adrian Peterson, Pierre Garçon, and RG3? Look no further. I wasn’t able to get this out in time for the Bills/Browns game, but I tweeted my advice and have left it below. Teams on bye this week are the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Redskins.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
I’m losing faith in CJ Spiller. It seems like he’s getting re-injured every game and Fred Jackson has clearly been the better of the two. This week against a strong Browns defense doesn’t bode well for him either, so I think it’s completely justified if you bench him especially since he has yet to practice. Joe Haden will probably lock down Steve Johnson, so I think Robert Woods shines again, earning him a Flex worthy spot in 12 team leagues. The Browns’ running game is very subpar, but McGahee had a much better 2nd game and the Bills are giving up 120+ rushing yards per game so McGahee serves as a bye week fill-in especially for deeper leagues. Start Josh Gordon with confidence, and if you’re in a 2QB league or need a bye week guy Brian Hoyer has averaged 295 passing yards and 2 TDs in 2 games so far this season. Sleeper Special is Tashard Choice. Simply put, if Jackson and Spiller have to exit the game (or can’t play) Choice will get the carries. Again, the Browns are very good against the run (4th) so this is a deep sleeper pick.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
This is the Saints offense that I expect. It may not happen every week, but Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are sure fire starts for everyone that has them. Reggie Bush just tore apart the Bears defense for 173 total yards, and I think Darren Sproles could do similar damage (120-130) with the defense attempting to stop Jimmy from dominating. Khiry Robinson is getting more carries, which lowers Pierre Thomas’ value to the point that he may not even be a Flex anymore. Jay Cutler had a horrible game and although this week will be better, he isn’t a starter. The Saints pass defense is far better than the Lions and Brandon Marshall has injury concerns. Matt Forte should have a great game since the Saints aren’t too good against the run, plus the injury to Marshall may cause the Bears to lean more on Forte. Sleeper Special goes toAlshon Jeffery. Averaging 8 targets game, and last week had a good game with Marshall not playing as well. With Marshall hurt Alshon could have a big game.
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Not quite sure who’s playing other than Julian Edelman for the Pats’ receiving core. Kenbrell, Amendola, and Gronk are all facing injuries. I think Kenbrell will play, but the other two I think are doubtful especially Gronk. Even Ridley is hurt, which leaves some questions for the backfield. The Bengals have a good defense, but if Brian Hoyer could throw for 269 yards and 2 TDs then I’m fairly certain Brady can do the same. The only sure starter for the Bengals is AJ Green. The Pats run defense makes me hesitant to rank Gio Bernard higher than a Flex, and I think the Law Firm is slowly coming to a close as anything more than a goal line back. Sleeper Special is LeGarrette Blount once again. Second week in a row he’s had a good game and with Ridley and Bolden hobbled, Blount is in line for more work.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
I think Reggie Bush can run over the Packers. Whether it’s a designed run or a HB screen, I think Bush could have another top-10 day so he goes into Week 5 as a RB1 for me. The Packers defense still hasn’t gotten good and I don’t think one week off will fix that. Megatron is facing injury concerns as well, but I doubt he misses this game. The Packers were off for a week, but we can’t forget how great the offense was before that time off. Rodgers, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson are definite starts. I think James Jones is a Flex with upside and I have faith in Eddie Lacy’s return. Sleeper Special is Ryan Broyles. Yeah, I know, he’s sucked so far, but Green Bay is 28th against the pass. If Broyles doesn’t do anything this week I swear I’ll stop putting him here.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Jamaal Charles has blisters on his feet, but that isn’t going to stop him from playing Sunday. The Chiefs rely on him too much so I think blisters aren’t going to affect his status. Dwayne Bowe scored another TD, but the Titans have been good against WRs so I’m wary of Bowe this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Donnie Avery has a better game to be honest. The Chiefs defense should have another fun time with Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over for an injured Jake Locker. This is the same Fitzpatrick that had as many turnovers as touchdowns last season. Chris Johnson gets Flex consideration from me this week, but the Titans will probably rely on the run a lot. Nate Washington should be serviceable, but take note that most of his value last week came on a 77 yard TD pass in the 4th quarter. Sleeper Special is Kendall Wright. The Chiefs defensive backs will limit big plays by pressuring Fitzpatrick, and I think Wright will get more of the short passes.
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
This should be a good game and I think both defenses are good plays here. Russell Wilson is starting off slower than I expected (similar to last year), so I wouldn’t confidently play anyone on the Seahawks other than Marshawn Lynch and the defense. Andrew Luck doesn’t get a start from me either, as he wasn’t as impressive against the Jaguars as I thought he’d be. You’re better running against the Seahawks than passing, so Trent Richardson should get more work. 20 carries last week are in line with what I think he gets this week. The ypc probably won’t be much higher, but he’s getting red zone carries which means a TD is likely. Sleeper Special for this game is Coby Fleener. I think the defense will focus more on Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton, so I think Fleener gets a lot of open looks here.
Jacksonville Jaguars at St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford should be back at fantasy relevancy at least for this week. I think Tavon Austin and Chris Givens are Flex plays, as well as Jared Cook being a solid TE. I’m not touching any of the Rams RBs especially since we still have no idea who the starter will be. Sleeper Special is the Rams defense, because the Jaguars are a horrible franchise. Sure, you could play Cecil Shorts as a Flex, but the Jaguars are poison as far as I’m concerned.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
The Ravens offense just isn’t good. Ray Rice should never end a game with 5 carries, no matter what the point deficit is throughout the game. Torrey Smith is Flacco’s most trusted weapon which has given him solid WR2 value thus far, but the impotence of this offense has seriously ruined Rice’s stock. I think you have to play Rice, but the Dolphins are 10th against the run and Rice probably won’t even have the backfield to himself (Bernard Pierce is still here). Ryan Tannehill played a pretty bad game, but it’s hard to stop the Saints at home especially with their revived defense. I don’t think he faces the same issues this week against the Ravens. Mike Wallace continues to be a dud, and I honestly think Brian Hartline is more valuable. Pecking order for Dolphins I say goes Hartline > Clay > Wallace, with Clay having the most upside. Sleeper Special is the Dolphins defense. Mainly due to the fact that Flacco threw 5 INTs against the Bills and I say the Dolphins have a much better defense.
Philadelphia Eagles at NY Giants
DeSean’s last two games weren’t that good with defenses keying in on him, but he shouldn’t have that issues against the Giants. He and McCoy should have great games, and as long as Vick can stay on the field he should be fine too. The Giants are giving up 261 passing yards and at least 2 TDs per game. Eli Manning is poised to have his best game since Week 1, as the Eagles defense is even worse. Overall both quarterback and star WRs should have goo output. As much as I’m not a fan of David Wilson, I think he has his first 100 yard game and first TD of the season this game. Sleeper Special is Hakeem Nicks, because his stock is so low that I think most people forgot they even have him on their team. Brandon Myers should have a good game as well, because the Eagles pass defense is atrocious.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
There are only two people I really find as must starts for this game and they are Cam Newton and Larry Fitzgerald. Steve Smith shouldn’t have a bad game, but I’m a fan of the Cardinals pass defense. Both teams are very good against the run so I expect the running games to be suspect. Michael Floyd really has solidified himself as the #2 WR for the Cardinals so a Flex spot isn’t out of the question. Sleeper Special is Andre Ellington. Bruce Arians isn’t happy with Mendenhall and Ellington may get more touches as a result.
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
Only 246 yards and 2 TDs from Tony Romo surprised me. I expected more from him against the Chargers, and I think he’ll do more this week against the Broncos. As great as the Broncos have been offensively, they are 30th in the league against the pass. DeMarco Murray’s presence in the passing game keeps is value up even if the Cowboys are forced to go away from the run to keep up. For the Broncos I don’t think much needs to be said, you know who you’re starting from them. Sleeper Special is Ronnie Hillman. He’s been splitting carries fairly evenly with Moreno and I think any rushing TD the Broncos get is a toss-up between the two.
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
Arian Foster scared us for a bit, but I think he’s back at top-5 RB must start no matter what status. Last week he had almost as many touches as Weeks 2 and 3 combined. Add in his receptions and he was finally the complete RB we’ve been used to seeing. The 49ers aren’t easy to run through, but Foster should be used enough by the Texans that he’ll score a goal line TD one way or another. Andre Johnson proved me wrong last week and I won’t disrespect him again. You’re stating him this week. For the 49ers the Rams were a nice bounce back opponent. The Texans statistically have the top passing defense in the league, and Kaepernick wasn’t exactly impressive last week. He hasn’t played too well since Week 1 and I think he has another rough outing Sunday. Sleeper Special is Kendall Hunter, as the 49ers seem intent on using him to give Gore rest.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
The Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates revival is real. Unfortunately for Ryan Mathews owners, he still hasn’t shown any signs of life, and Danny Woodhead looks like the far better RB to own. Matter of fact, if you needed to drop Mathews in order to pick up Woodhead, I would in a heartbeat. Eddie Royal hasn’t done much lately, but this week is his best chance to bounce back. If he proves useless this week then I say he’s droppable. Terrelle Pryor should be back for the Raiders, which is a good thing for Denarius Moore. I say Moore is a Flex and Pryor is a QB2 with starter upside against the Chargers’ poor pass defense. Sleeper Special is Rashad Jennings. McFadden most likely won’t play, and I think Reece is healthy enough to get the start and perform well. Jennings will be the backup, with extra value since Reece is banged up himself.
NY Jets at Atlanta Falcons
Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill are out. This raises the value of Jeremy Kerley and Kellen Winslow a lot, especially since the Falcons are not a good pass defense. Bilal Powell will get extra work since the Jets will have to rely on him more with their main receivers out, and even though the Falcons are good against the run I think the volume of touches he gets will keep him in Flex/RB2 range. It seemed like a quiet game, but Matt Ryan threw for 421 yards last week. The Jets defense is much underrated, but the Falcons are in a 1-3 hole and Ryan needs to put this team on his back. Julio and Tony should be good as usual. Roddy is still a decoy at this point so I’m not trusting him nor the Falcons RB’s (see Jets defense). Sleeper Special is Zach Sudfeld. Yep, you heard right. The Jets have claimed Sudfeld, and it’s not like Geno has many other options to throw to this game.
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