START: Ben Roethlisberger ($7600) – Big Ben struggled against two subpar defenses prior to the team’s bye week, but was on the road in both games. We’ve see the good and the bad from him this season. At home, he averages 30.4 fantasy points per game, and on the road, he averages 13.4 fantasy points per game. This week he will be in Heinz Field, where he’s thrown 18 touchdowns and just one interception. That includes two, six touchdown games in Week 8 and 9. He has thrown 314 or more yards in four of the five home games. This week he has another favorable matchup. The Saints are allowing 16.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. In the last five games, they have allowed at least one touchdown in all but one game. Big Ben is the sixth most expensive quarterback this week. He averages more points at home than the five quarterbacks priced above him and will be playing at home while three of the top five quarterbacks are on the road. There’s a good chance we see the good Roethlisberger this week.
I’d start him over: Peyton Manning $9500, Drew Brees $8500, and Cam Newton $7100
SIT: Cam Newton ($7100)-Newton is the seventh highest priced quarterback this week. Any time he has been priced over $7000 this season he really hasn’t met value. He averages 15.36 points when priced over $7000. Through Week 12, Newton has thrown 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. One of his strengths is his legs, and he hasn’t done much on the ground this season. It’s unlikely that changes this week as the Vikings have only allowed 90 rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season. The Vikings defense allows 14.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. They have surrendered 19 touchdowns this season. However they have only allowed multiple touchdown games to Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, and Kyle Orton. The only quarterback that may raise a red flag out of that group is Orton, but to give their defense the benefit of the doubt, the game was in Buffalo. In fact, in Minnesota, the Vikings held Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford to just one touchdown pass each. I’d rather pay up a bit more for Big Ben or pay less for some of the quarterbacks listed below.
I’d rather start: Eli Manning $7000, Ryan Tannenhill $6900, and Alex Smith $ 6200
START: Andy Dalton ($6100)-For some it may be difficult to trust Dalton, and I completely understand. However, I can’t pass up this matchup against the Bucs. It’s in Tampa, so weather won’t be a factor, and the Bucs are bad defending the pass. They have allowed 16.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, have given up one or more touchdown passes in all but one game this season, and have allowed 300+ passing yards in five games. Dalton, surprisingly, has played better on the road than at home this year. He’s thrown seven of his twelve touchdowns in road games, and has just thrown a pick once. Now with A.J. Green back and apparently healthy, the entire Bengals offense is playing much better. I’ll go ahead and notch that horrid performance against the Browns a couple of weeks ago as a pretty bad day. This is the third lowest salary that Dalton has been all season. I’d take advantage of this discounted price to go along with a great matchup and get him in at least one of your lineups this weekend.
I’d start him over: Joe Flacco $6700, Matt Ryan $5900, and Kyle Orton $5700
SIT: Josh McCown ($6500)-Why pay more money for McCown than you would for Dalton or some of the other quarterbacks listed below? In home games, McCown actually has more interceptions than touchdowns, and has a quarterback rating of 77.1. Granted, in the last three games since becoming the starter of the team again, he’s averaging 21.37 fantasy points per game. However, that’s been against the third and fourth worst pass defense, and the Falcons which have also been somewhat vulnerable against quarterbacks. This week’s matchup is against the Bengals who have been stingy against the pass. The Bengals weakness is defending the run, but against the pass they’re allowing the seventh fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (13.6). The Bengals have held quarterbacks below 10 fantasy points in 45 percent of their games this year. In their last five games, they have only allowed three passing touchdowns, and over 250 passing yards in just one game. Only two quarterbacks have been able to throw over 300 yards against the Bengals. From the price to the matchup, nothing seems appealing about McCown this week.
I’d rather start: Philip Rivers $6000, Matt Ryan $5900, and Zach Mettenberger $5800
SNEAKY START: Philip Rivers ($6000)-Many people might be scratching their heads about starting Rivers against the Ravens because they associate their stout run defense with their defense in general. Against the run, the Ravens are great, but if you look at the numbers they are currently the eighth worst defending opposing quarterbacks. Their secondary is a bit banged up, and it’s been pretty clear in recent games. In the last three games, the Ravens have surrendered 10 passing touchdowns. Rivers has struggled in the last three games, but this could be a good matchup for him to pull out of his funk. He may not be on many radars this weekend, which could make for a good contrarian start with plenty of upside.
START: Le’Veon Bell ($8700)-If there’s a running back I’m paying for this week, it’s Le’Veon Bell. Arian Foster is $100 more dollars and has a great matchup, but he’s dealing with a groin injury and is questionable to play. Bell is coming off of a bye week, but prior to the bye, he rushed for over 200 yards and scored a touchdown. He will face the Saints defense that has allowed four rushing touchdowns and more than 100 rushing touchdowns in their last three games. For the season, the Saints are surrendering 19.5 fantasy points per game to opposing backs. On the road, the Saints have allowed a rushing touchdown in all but one game. Bell is averaging 23.5 fantasy points per game, which is two more points than his yearly average. Three of his four total touchdowns this year have been in Heinz field. Bell has been heavily involved in the passing game this year, which is good news because the Saints have allowed 515 receiving yards and 49 receptions with a touchdown to opposing backs. The Saints are on a short week and heading to Pittsburgh. Look for Bell to exploit them and have a nice game.
I’d start him over: All running backs.
SIT: C.J. Anderson ($6900)-After the biggest game of the season for Anderson, he falls in my sit list. Confused? No worries, I understand why you might be and will explain the reasoning behind my decision. I’ll begin by saying, that this is the most expensive that Anderson has been all season. He’s currently the fifth most expensive back and has one of the toughest matchups. Prior to last week, the Chiefs hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown. They still have not allowed a rushing touchdown in Arrowhead Stadium where this game will take place. They have also kept backs out of the end zone on the receiving end. Needless to say, this is a pretty darn good run defense. I get that Anderson will likely get plenty of volume, but you’re hoping for a score or a ton of receptions from him this week. I’m not willing to pay a top five salary to bank on that. In their last meeting, the Chiefs held the Broncos running backs to just 91 yards. I’ll look for a better price and/or a better matchup in other places before plugging Anderson into any of my lineups.
I’d rather start: Eddie Lacy $7300, Rashad Jennings $6700, and Justin Forsett $6300
START: Andre Ellington ($6200)-I’m really liking Ellington at this price more and more. Just three weeks ago he was $7300. His production in the last three weeks has been nothing to be excited about. He’s averaged fewer than three yards per carry. What’s kept him fantasy relevant is that in that time frame, he’s caught four or more passes in each game. In his defense, he has played against three of the top 11 run defenses in the league. This week, Ellington has a chance to get back on track against the second worst run defense in the NFL. The Falcons give up the second most fantasy points per game to opposing backs 21.9 and have allowed the most rushing touchdowns (14). They’ve surrendered over 100 rushing yards in six games. Ellington has yet to rush for over 100 yards, but that could easily change this weekend as the Falcons have allowed over 100 rushing yards in six games this year. He’s currently priced at the 10th most expensive running back this week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes amongst the top five in scoring.
I’d start him over: Denard Robinson $6000, Alfred Morris $5500, and Fred Jackson $5300
SIT: Ryan Mathews ($5100)-Mathews has put together some decent performances since returning from injury. Last week he rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. It was a tease to fantasy owners because he ended up leaving the game early with a shoulder injury. Reports are that he’s expected to play and the injury isn’t serious. However, Mathews has proven to be fragile, and I’m not convinced to start him at less than 100 percent healthy. Not to mention, this matchup against the Ravens will be the toughest matchup of the season for him. The Ravens are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing backs (10.4). They’ve allowed just three rushing touchdowns, and have only surrendered more than 100 rushing yards in one game this season. This defense has not allowed a rushing touchdown at home, and this is where they will be playing this week. In addition, this may appear to be a good price to some, but this is the second highest price that Mathews has had all season and he is facing the best run defense in the league. No thanks.
I’d rather start: Shane Vereen $5400, Giovanni Bernard $5200, and Jerick McKinnon $4600
SNEAKY START: Lamar Miller ($4500)-In the last four weeks, Miller has struggled. It could be because he’s been playing through injuries. However, this week he’s at the cheapest price he’s been all season. Not to mention, the Jets who were one of the stingiest run defense early in the season, have been a bit vulnerable as of late. In their last seven games, the Jets have allowed five rushing touchdowns and more than 100 rushing yards in four of those games. In addition they’ve allowed three receiving touchdowns to opposing backs. They have also allowed double digit fantasy points in six of their last seven games. I think the price is right for Miller this week, and could be a good ROI if you decide to plug him in.
START: Antonio Brown ($9000)-When you look at the receivers this season, he’s been one of the most consistent ones. He’s caught five or more passes in every game this year, has 10 touchdowns, 88 receptions, 1,161 yards, and is averaging 25.2 fantasy points per game. Besides the obvious, two other things stood out to me this week. First, he’s playing at home where he averages 31.3 fantasy points per game, and has scored six of his 10 touchdowns. Second, he will play a Saints defense that has not played so well this season. The Saints have allowed over 200 receiving yards in three of their last five games. For the season, they’ve surrendered 13 receiving touchdowns and are giving up 24 fantasy points to opposing receivers. The Saints will be traveling to Pittsburgh on a short week after a brutal loss to the Falcons on Monday night, and the Steelers are well rested as they are coming off a bye week. I’m expecting Brown to take full advantage of this vulnerable secondary.
I’d start him over: All wide receivers.
SIT: Mike Evans ($7300)-Evans continues his touchdown streak making it four consecutive games with a touchdown. However, he only had three catches for 47 yards, but was targeted a team high of 11 times. This week he has a tough matchup ahead of him. The Bengals allow the second fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (15.3). They’ve allowed just six touchdowns to receivers this season, and have held receivers under 12 fantasy points in 50 percent of their games. In the last six games they’ve yielded just three touchdowns. Last week, Evans’ consecutive 100+ yards per game streak came to an end. There’s a good chance he stays below that amount of yards for the second straight week and his touchdown streak comes to an end as well. He’s currently amongst the top 10 in price, but could easily slip out of the top 10 in points this week. The rookie receiver has a bright future in the league, but he will have his off weeks, and this could be one of them.
I’d rather start: Randall Cobb $7500, Julio Jones $7200, and Odell Beckham Jr. $6800
START: Jarvis Landry ($5400)-He has become one of Ryan Tannehill’s favorite receivers in recent weeks. Landry has five or more receptions, four touchdowns, and 195 receiving yards in the last four games. In that span, he’s averaged 16.43 fantasy points per game and has been targeted 32 times. This week, he has a great matchup against the Jets who allow 22.2 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers. The Jets have allowed one or more receiving touchdowns in five of their last six games. In addition, they’ve given up 200+ receiving yards in four games this year. This is the highest price tag he’s had all season, but it only makes sense. With that said he still has a great shot to exceed value and likely increase his salary even more for Week 14. He has 11 red zone targets this season which is only five shy of the team’s No. 1 receiver, Mike Wallace. Robert Woods found the end zone against the Jets last week, so it shouldn’t be difficult for Landry to do the same.
I’d start him over: DeSean Jackson $5900, Vincent Jackson $5300, and Percy Harvin $5000
SIT: Pierre Garcon ($4400)-This could seem appealing to some because of the price, but there’s a reason why he’s priced so low. In the last four games, Garcon has caught 11 passes for 102 yards, and hasn’t scored more than 8.7 fantasy points in a game. This week he has tough matchup against a Colts defense who has played well against receivers. They have allowed 10 receiving touchdowns, but five of those came in one game against the Steelers. The Colts have allowed just one touchdown to opposing receivers in their last three games. They are allowing the sixth fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (17.8). They’ve held receivers to 15 points or less in seven of their 11 games this season. Colt McCoy is expected to start for the Redskins this weekend, which makes me like Garcon even less. In what has been a disappointing season for Garcon, it doesn’t look like it’ll get better any time soon. Despite a low price, there’s still better value within this salary range.
I’d rather start: Martavis Bryant $4700, Mike Wallace $4600, and Justin Hunter $4000
SNEAKY START: Michael Floyd ($3600)-He’s coming off of a goose egg performance so I completely understand why you’d be skeptical or turned off. However, last week he had a tough matchup at Seattle, so expectations where low for me. Granted, I wasn’t expecting zero points. This is a good matchup for Floyd to bounce back and get some points. He takes on the Falcons that are giving up 24.5 fantasy points per game to receivers. They’ve allowed 11 receiving touchdowns and have yielded over 200 receiving yards in five of their 11 games. At this low price, the risk/reward factor seems about right for me.
START: Jimmy Graham ($7100)-Once again I’m taking the cheaper of the top two tight ends. Last week Graham scored two touchdowns against the Ravens. He also caught six passes for 47 yards. In the last five games, he has six touchdowns. Graham is matchup-proof, but when he has a favorable matchup, he becomes even more attractive. The Steelers have surrendered eight touchdowns to tight ends this season and are giving up the sixth most fantasy points per game (8.9). He’s $700 cheaper than Gronkowski and could easily outperform him for the second straight week.
I’d start him over: All tight ends.
SIT: Coby Fleener ($4700)-Fleener’s price dropped $500 from what it was last week, but he will be a sit for the second straight week. Last week he caught two passes for 28 yards. Fleener is set to face the Redskins who, since giving up four touchdowns to Larry Donnell in Week 4, have only allowed two touchdowns to tight ends in the last seven games. Fleener has been hit or miss, and as the sixth most expensive tight end, I’m not willing to take my chances. If you’re not paying for Graham or Gronk, don’t pay $4700 for Fleener, when you can pay a couple hundred less for tight ends with better matchups and similar ceilings.
I’d rather start: Travis Kelce $4300, Antonio Gates $4200, and Larry Donnell $4000.
SNEAKY START: Jordan Reed ($3200)- Reed missed last game with a hamstring injury, but practiced all week including a full practice on Friday. He’s listed as questionable for this week, but barring any setbacks he should be able to play. The good news for Reed not only is his favorable matchup, but Colt McCoy being the starting quarterback. The last time McCoy started, Reed caught seven passes. The Redskins face the Colts which are giving up the fourth most fantasy points per game (9.5) and have surrendered eight touchdowns. At this low price, it could be a great investment. Just make sure he’s active!
I’ve provided you with low-risk, high-reward players for each position. If you’re drafting a lineup that’s top heavy in salaries and need to find some inexpensive players to plug in, then my sneaky starts can be useful.