Every week, I will highlight a few players to start and a few players to sit at each position. I’m a firm believer in starting your studs, so I won’t suggest you bench Drew Brees or Adrian Peterson because they have tough matchups – just go ahead and keep them in your lineup. Instead, I’ll focus on the borderline guys – players you’ll only start under the right circumstances. It’s important to note that depending on your roster and situation, you may not be able to follow these recommendations. For example, if I suggest you bench a solid starter like Tony Romo, only do so if you have a clearly better option on your bench.
Matt Ryan should be in starting lineups this week given his favorable matchup against the 49ers, who have yielded 2.3 passing TDs through the first three weeks…Chad Henne figures to throw quite a bit against a suspect Pats secondary that is ranked 25th in yards allowed…Mark Sanchez looks like a safe start against the Bills, who are giving up 221 passing yards and 1.7 pass TDs per game…Need someone to plug in for Tony Romo or Brett Favre during their bye? Bruce Gradkowski played pretty well last week (255 yards, TD) in a good matchup and figures to throw a lot against a Houston pass defense that has given up 368 yards per game (along with 2.0 TDs)…Vince Young should be able to post nice numbers against a Broncos pass defense that has struggled not only against Peyton Manning, but David Garrard and Matt Hasselbeck as well.
Is this the week the Carolina running game finally gets going? The Saints have struggled against the run (145 yards, 1.0 TD per game), so it’s now or never for DeAngelo Williams. Fantasy owners everywhere are counting on him…The same goes for Maurice Jones-Drew — the Colts were decent against the run last week in Denver, but historically they’re not built to stop the rush. The Jags need to feature MJD early and often if they hope to pull the upset…I like Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn this week against the Lions’ league-worst rush defense…LaDainian Tomlinson appears to be the starter for the Jets, and with the Bills 27th-ranked rush defense on tap, he should be able to post nice numbers…Ryan Mathews was a full go at practice this week, so barring a setback, he should have a good day against the Cards, who have given up 146 yards on the ground. Mike Tolbert is also a decent flex play…Looking for a sleeper? Check out Ryan Torain, who is the new RB2 in Washington. It looks like the Redskins are going to a RBBC, so Torain could surprise against an Eagles’ defense that has yielded 129 rushing yards per game this season…This should go without saying, but Michael Turner and Arian Foster both have very nice matchups and should be in starting lineups this week.
Keep riding the hot hands of Austin Collie. Not only is he on fire, but he has a terrific matchup with the Jags, who have given up an average of 287 yards and 2.3 pass TD per game this season…Louis Murphy should have a nice week against the Texans, who rank last in the league against the pass. Darrius Heyward-Bey is startable as well…Despite Jacksonville’s struggles Mike Sims-Walker is startable as the Colts have been a little more vulnerable than usual against the pass this season, and the Jaguars figure to trail most of the game…Davone Bess (and even Brian Hartline) can be started in PPR leagues. The Dolphins will likely throw more than usual against the Pats’ questionable secondary…Jeremy Maclin continues to fly under the radar a little bit, but he’s a Top 15 receiver in a great matchup with the Redskins, so get him in your lineup…Mark Clayton is pretty much a must-start in most leagues given a very nice matchup with the Seahawks’ 30th-ranked pass defense.
I don’t recommend Joe Flacco this week. He looked brutal against the Bengals in Week 2, and the Steelers have given up just one pass TD in three games…Kyle Orton is still startable in a pinch, but the Titans pass defense has been pretty good this year, giving up just 178 yards and 0.3 pass TD per game on the season. Some of this has to do with the competition (Jason Campbell, Charlie Batch), but Tennessee looked good against Eli Manning in Week 3 as well…Think the 49ers are in for a quick turnaround now that they’ve switched offensive coordinators? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on Alex Smith this week, seeing as the Falcons have only given up three pass TDs all year.
Ray Rice is supposed to play, and most fantasy owners will have to start him, but don’t expect much since he’s going up the 3rd-ranked Pittsburgh rush defense. The Steelers have only allowed one rushing TD all season…Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller have been reasonably productive of late, but the Jets are almost impossible to run against, so don’t expect starter-caliber numbers this week…Jahvid Best is struggling with a turf toe, and with a bad matchup on tap (GB), I wouldn’t recommend starting him this week. That goes for his backup, Maurice Morris, as well…The Bears rush defense is ranked #1 in the league (allowing just 40 yards per game), so Ahmad Bradshaw won’t find the going as easy as the last few weeks.
I’d steer clear of the Browns receivers, Josh Cribbs and Mohammed Massaquoi, as the Bengals have allowed just 196 yards passing this season…Hines Ward and Mike Wallace are still startable in some formats, but they figure to struggle for open looks against Baltimore’s top-ranked pass defense. The Ravens have only allowed 117 yards passing and 0.3 pass TD per game this season…Andre Johnson is usually a must-start, but with a bum ankle and a matchup with Nnamdi Asomugha (who has held him to just five catches for 94 yards and zero TD in three games), I’d bench Johnson if I had another good option.