Well, you can’t be right on them all, can you? Hopefully you ignored my advice, and started Hakeem Nicks (9 recs, 142 yards) last week. If you didn’t start him after reading my post, I’ll offer you a cookie as consolation. This week’s edition will explore some hot pickups, and sneaky starts that may net you solid fantasy contributions.
Terrelle Pryor – This guy is becoming a sneaky fantasy QB, and if you don’t have a surefire bet at QB, grab Pryor. He faces a bigger challenge in Kansas City than he did his last week in San Diego, but Pryor should still be good for 250 passing yards and 2 TDs. Remember, he is a dual threat QB.
Sam Bradford – Who’d of thunk the Rams QB would be among the top 10 QBs thus far this season? With a 10:3 TD to INT ratio, and an improved receiving corps, that’s currently 10th best among QBs in MLFF leagues. Houston may be middle of the pack against the pass, but middle of the pack means will give up points.
Pierre Thomas – It’s so easy to overlook Saints running backs not named Darren Sproles. Let’s face it, the Saints will never be a great running team, but their running backs are essentially extra receivers lined up in the backfield. If you look past Thomas’ atrocious 2.85 yards/rush attempt, you’ll see that he has 28 receptions for 166 yards and 2 scores. The Saints are going to look to score quickly and often against New England, so get Thomas and the rest of your Saints starters in your lineups.
Justin Blackmon – Last week’s stat line (5 recs, 136 yds, 1 TD) was no accident. Blackmon is that talented. The problem is off-field issues cost him games every season, it seems. The good news here is Henne is the QB, meaning a more reliable passer. Against a Broncos secondary that got completely shredded against the Cowboys, look for a 135 yard/1 TD day, and 2 TDs is not completely out of the question.
Garrett Graham – With Owen Daniels out this week, Graham is the top option at TE, and his stats this season as Daniels’ backup are enticing (3 TDs on 15 recs). The Texans utilize the TE a lot in their offense, and despite Schaub being less than stellar, he still manages to get Graham the ball. Start with confidence against the Rams (who gave up 135/1 to Blackmon last week).
EXTRA EXTRA: Kevin Burnett (LB) – Burnett got off to a slow start the first two weeks of the season, but the past three weeks he’s put up 29 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, and a recovered fumble. Owned in only 4.3% of all leagues, go grab him.
Tom Brady – Brady got completely stumped last week against the Bengals D. Currently the 18th ranked QB, the task doesn’t get much easier against a surprisingly stout Saints D this season. His 7:3 TD to INT ratio isn’t his fault, as the Patriots have injury concerns on offense. Given the Patriots are gearing for a shootout, don’t be surprised if he gets 3 TDs, but if his receivers don’t help him, a 250/1 TD day could also be feasible against the Saints. Oh, how he misses Rob Gronkowski.
Stevan Ridley – The Patriots need Ridley back more than the two peas in a pod need one another. Without Ridley, the Patriots run game is…bad. Neither Blount nor Bolden seem capable of picking up the slack, and given the Patriots are looking at a shootout, Ridley will be needed to keep the Saints honest and not key in on the pass game. In either case, this is going to be a long day for the Patriots running game.
Rashard Mendenhall – Within two weeks, Mendenhall will lose his starter status to Andre Ellington. Not only has Mendenhall been largely inefficient in the run game (219 yards on 69 carries, versus 18 for 120 yards for Ellington), Ellington has also out-produced Mendendenhall in the receiving game (144, 1 TD vs. 64, 0 for Mendenhall). If you must trust a Cardinals RB, let it be Ellington, but it’s best to avoid all RBs against San Francisco this week.
Steve Smith – Look back at my WR rankings, I believe I had Smith lower than most, not due to his skills, but more due to the fact of Cam Newton. Newton and the Panthers are one of the most run heavy offenses, which means less receptions all around, impacting Smith the most. Cam has a 6:5 TD to INT ratio, and is nowhere near the QB he was in his rookie year, and so long as Newton struggles, Smith will be frustrating to start. It’s hard to bench WR1s, but until Newton turns the ship ’round, you may want to consider it.
Jermichael Finley – In just his second game back from a concussion, there still are lingering questions about Finley’s health. Yes, he had 121 yards receiving and 2 TDs in the first two weeks, and yes the Ravens are known to give up points to TEs this season. But there’s the emergence of Lacy at RB, and the other receivers will take away from Finley going forward, or at least we get a better gauge on Finley’s role in the Packers offense.
Andrew Luck – With only a 7:2 TD to INT ratio, more was expected out of the sophomore. He gets the Chargers this week, who are known for getting demolished by opposing QBs. Luck breaks out for 3 TDs, 290 yards passing.
Matt Schaub – The word “bench” has the same number of letter as the name “Yates,” and it’s no coincidence. Unless Schaub turns it around quickly (8 TD: 9 INT), Yates could quickly be spelled S-T-A-R-T-E-R for the Texans, and Schaub would be bound for the bench. The only good news here is the Rams secondary, which is ranked 21st against the pass. Don’t start him, find another option.
Eli Manning – ESPN’s love affair with the name “Manning” has blinded them to the phrase: Abandon ship, abandon ship! He has an ugly [9:15]:2 TD to INT to Fumble ratio, and after Thursday’s performance against the Bears (1 TD, 3 INT) it may be time to cut ties with the younger Manning. He has normally been pretty good in season’s past, but this season…ummm…yeah. Bye.
Knowshon Moreno – Due time I give the man props. All he does is produce and move the chains (4 TDs), and now he gets the Jaguars defense. His day as starter against the Jags may be short, considering the spread, but he’ll get ya 100 yards rushing and 1-2 TDs rushing and receiving. Start with confidence. Last time I doubt Knowshon.
Chris Johnson – This is more due to the opponent (Seattle) than him as a running back. Johnson hasn’t looked as explosive this season, and is yet to score a touchdown. The questionable play at QB only furthers those concerns about him being able to rack up the yards and scores. He hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards this season, and he won’t this week either.
Daryl Richardson – Zac Stacy started last week, and did an admirable job, considering the state of the Rams offensive line. This spelled the end for Richardson as starter. Richardson may get the occasional 3rd down carry, but his inability to break tackles and paltry yards/carry (2.95 per) may limit him even further than that. Now might be the time to see if there’s a better option on the wire.
Terrance Williams – The raw rookie may well have supplanted Miles Austin on the depth chart, or at least solidified himself as WR3 on the team. The rookie looks more explosive than Austin and makes for a better compliment to Dez than Austin. He may not get many receptions per game initially, but as Romo’s trust in Williams grows, Williams could have some big games. Be advised, there will be dry games, as well as drops, the latter of which is the main concern with him.
Andre Johnson – No, I haven’t lost my mind, it’s Johnson who seems to have lost a step. Look, of course you’re going to start him, but be advised of the inconsistency of his QB. Add to the mix nagging injuries and the rookie DeAndre Hopkins, and it could be a dry day for Johnson, even against the Rams secondary.
Steve Johnson – No, sorry, not starting you. With E.J. Manuel out for a couple of games, you will want no part of the Bills passing game. I mean, Jeff Tuel???? Thad Lewis???? Sorry, haven’t really heard of either guy being fantasy relevant. Against a Bengals defense that shutout Brady, don’t expect anything much from Johnson this week, or until the QB play improves.
Jordan Reed – The Redskins are discombobulated offensively, but RGIII is completing 86.7% of his throws to Reed this season. Not only that, Reed seems to have supplanted Fred Davis on the depth chart. Considering the opposition is coming off a shootout, there could be a sneaky score for Reed this week.
Scott Chandler – Like previously stated, the Bills QB situation is in flux. Until that fixes itself, you may want to stay away from the Bills receivers and tight ends. The only things going for Chandler are his size and his reliable hands. If he scores, it will be from five yards out. I’m not enticed.
Dallas Clark – That one week outburst from Clark is a distant memory. The only TE you want part of in the Ravens offense is likely out for the season (Pitta), meaning you can safely drop Clark. It would have been a “cool story, bro,” if he did revive his career.
Robert Mathis (LB) – This guy is rejuvenated, and is going nuts. 9.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Mathis is showing no signs of slowing, so start him with confidence.
Brandon Flowers – My pick of him as a sleeper at corner is starting to look like I labeled the wrong guy “sleeper.” Playing opposite a shutdown corner in Dunta Robinson should have led more teams to throw his way, but Flowers is still not racking up the stats that count. The opportunity is there, I just want more out of him. He is starter worthy if you need a corner, but I wanna see more passes defensed and picks.
Michael Bennett – Bennett looks to be the odd man out on the terrifying Seahawks defensive line. There simply aren’t enough sacks to go around with Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons, and Bruce Irvin all more apt at getting the QB on the turf. Hey, tackles count, right? They do, but fantasy owners want sacks, and forced and recovered fumbles, in addition to tackles.
Good, Bad, horrible honorable mentions: Barry Church (S), Chris Ivory (RB), Eddie Royal (WR)
That’s a rap for this weeks installment. Tune in next week for week 6, and don’t forget to checkout the other awesome articles by Andy Singleton on fantasy football advice as well. If you have any questions about whether to sit/start a player, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @MetalhammerBen