START: Aaron Rodgers ($9800) – When I pay up for a player, I’m usually targeting huge points. That’s what Rodgers gives fantasy owners, especially at home. He is averaging 29.1 fantasy points per game in Lambeau Field. He’s thrown 20 touchdowns, no picks, 1,781 yards, and has a 134.4 passer rating in six home games. Talk about efficiency. In the last three games played in Green Bay, Rodgers has thrown 11 touchdowns and more than 300 passing yards in each of those games. The good news is that there’s a good chance he continues his hot streak this week against a vulnerable secondary. He’s playing the Falcons that allow 285 passing yards per game which is the most in the league. In their last four road games they’ve given up eight touchdowns, two in each game, and 1,051 passing yards. They have only allowed 15 passing touchdowns this year, but nine have come in the last six games. Rodgers is playing as close to perfect football as possible at home, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change this week against a below average secondary.
I’d start him over: All quarterbacks
SIT: Joe Flacco ($6600) – It’s always hard to predict which Flacco will show up on the football field each week. Last week, he had a good game at home against the Chargers, but the two weeks prior to that, he struggled against two mediocre pass defenses. This week he heads to Miami who is ranked as the second best pass defense in the NFL. The Dolphins are allowing just 11.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. They’ve allowed 18 passing touchdowns; eight of those were in home games. In the last two home games, they’ve kept the opposing quarterbacks from throwing a touchdown. In fact, besides allowing four touchdowns to Peyton Manning on the road, the Dolphins have only allowed just four other passing touchdowns in that last seven games. They are surrendering less than 200 yards per games. Flacco has had his moments where he goes off for a big game, but it’s very unlikely that happens this week on the road against a good defense.
I’d rather start: Ryan Tannenhill $7300, Eli Manning $6900, and Philip Rivers $6800
START: Matthew Stafford ($7900) – This is one of my favorite plays this week. In his last two home games, Stafford has thrown for over 250 yards and two touchdowns in each game. He’s averaging 19.2 fantasy points when he plays in Ford Field. This week the Lions host the Bucs that have been generous to opposing quarterbacks. For the season they’ve allowed 22 passing touchdowns, 2,943 passing yards, and are giving up 16.1 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers. Granted, they’ve been better as of late, but if you look at some of their road games against top solid quarterbacks they’ve been torched. On the road against Matt Ryan they allowed 350 yards and three touchdowns, Drew Brees 371 yards and two touchdowns, and Ben Roethlisberger 314 yards and three touchdowns. Each of those quarterbacks scored over 20 fantasy points against this Bucs defense. Stafford has yet to throw more than two touchdown passes in a single game this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that streak can come to an end this week.
I’d start him over: Tom Brady $8500, Ben Roethlisberger $8200, and Russell Wilson $7700
SIT: Mark Sanchez ($6300) – When you think of Mark Sanchez, a reliable fantasy quarterback isn’t one of the first things that come to mind. In fact, he’s never really been much of a fantasy option besides this season. He has thrived since becoming the starter in this Eagles offense. He has scored over 20 fantasy points and has thrown for more than 300 yards in all but one game since becoming a starter. However, some things are still the same with Sanchez; he has thrown four interceptions and has lost two fumbles in his four starts. This week he has a tough matchup against a very stingy pass defense. The Seahawks are allowing just 199 passing yards per game and 11.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. They have given up 15 passing touchdowns this season, but only three in the last six games. They have only allowed one 300 yards passer, and that was Peyton Manning who threw 303 yards against them. The Seahawks defense have kept quarterbacks under 200 passing yards in seven of the 13 games. This defense is impressive, and I’d feel uneasy starting a turnover prone quarterback against it, especially with some of the quarterbacks in this price range having better matchups.
I’d rather start: Cam Newton $6700, Colin Kaerpernick $6500, and Andy Dalton $6000
SNEAKY START: Teddy Bridgerwater ($5500) – In the last two games he’s thrown two passing touchdowns in each game. He has also thrown at least one touchdown in six consecutive games. He has a favorable matchup against the Jets who are one of the worst pass defenses in the league, especially on the road where they have allowed two or more passing touchdowns in each game. They are giving up 18.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Jets are tied with the Bears for most passing touchdowns allowed this season with 27. I’m not expecting a Rodgers-like performance here, but this could be a game where Bridgewater throws for over 250 yards and throws a couple of touchdowns. At this price, taking a shot at that stat line is worth it. Keep in mind, I wouldn’t recommend him in a cash game; this is strictly a tournament option for me.
START: Eddie Lacy ($7800) – After a slow start to the season, Lacy has become a new back since week 8. In the first seven weeks, he scored less than 10 fantasy point in four games. However, since week 8, he has scored more than 20 fantasy points in all but one game. He has five total touchdowns and has totaled over 100 yards in all but one game in the last five games. He’s catching the ball and running the ball well. The Packers offense as a unit is playing really well. One thing I love about Lacy is that he isn’t the most expensive running back this week, and has a great matchup. The Falcons are giving up the third most fantasy points (21.1) to opposing running backs. They are allowing 118.3 rushing yards per game and have yielded 15 rushing touchdowns. Lacy is coming off of his worst game since getting on his hot streak, so with a good matchup at home, I’m expecting a bounce back game.
I’d start him over: Jamal Charles $8500, Marshawn Lynch $7700, and C.J. Anderson $7600
SIT: C.J. Anderson ($7600) – Last week I didn’t like Anderson much either, and well, I was wrong about him. This week I feel the same. This is a tough matchup for Anderson, and as good as he’s been, I still can’t consider him matchup-proof. He has over 100 total yards in each of his last four games, and has scored three touchdowns in that time span. So why sit him? First, the price you’re paying and secondly, the matchup is not appealing whatsoever. In regards to price, if I can get Marshawn Lynch for $100 more and a better matchup or say Jennings plays, pay $500 less for him, and he’s playing the worst run defense in the league; why not do that? The Bills allow the second fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (11.3). They’ve allowed just four rushing touchdowns, and that includes a three rushing touchdown game that they surrendered to the Jets. If you attribute that game to just a bad week, they’ve allowed just one rushing touchdown in 12 weeks. Anderson is a good back, and could be really productive down the stretch, I’m just taking into consideration price and matchup, and that leaves me with a conclusion of skipping on him this week.
I’d rather start: Marshawn Lynch $7700, Rashad Jennings $7100, and Justin Forsett $6900
START: Mark Ingram ($6500) – The last four times that Ingram received 20+ carries, he’s rushed for more than 100 yards three times. The only game he struggled in was against the league’s best run defense, the Ravens. Ingram has already played against the Panthers in Week 9, and in that meeting, he rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers have been getting burned by running backs for most of the season. They give up 18.8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns. Granted, in recent weeks they’ve held running backs to fewer than 80 yards, but it was against Steven Jackson and Matt Asiata, who haven’t been all that great this season. This is also a solid price to get Ingram at. Tre Mason and LeSean McCoy are in the same salary range, but both have tougher matchups. The last time Ingram scored more than 25 fantasy points was in Week 9 against the Panthers. Look for another big day out of Ingram on Sunday.
I’d start him over: Tre Mason $6700, LeSean McCoy $6400, and Denard Robinson $5600
SIT: Daniel Herron ($5400) – Many people have asked me about Herron this week. I think he has done well in the last two games. He has 20 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown in the last two weeks. Many people may be looking at this matchup and thinking to themselves it’s a good one. However, if you look at the numbers it’s not the greatest. In the last nine games they have allowed a 100+ rushing yard games four times, but have only allowed three rushing touchdowns. Only one running back has scored more than 20 fantasy points in that span. One thing that concerns me about Herron is his ball security. He has lost a fumble in the last two games. At this price, I’m more inclined to take some of the other backs who have much better matchups and have proven to us before that they are capable of having big games. $5400 is too much for a running back in my book with so many uncertainties and a below average matchup.
I’d rather start: Joique Bell $5500, Frank Gore $4800, and Ryan Mathews $4700
SNEAKY START: Lamar Miller ($4500) – Here’s a running back I liked heading into the week mainly because of price, but with the recent news on Haloti Ngata being suspended for the next four games, Miller has become even more appealing. The Ravens are a good run defense, but will be without the anchor of their D-Line. Miller hasn’t been all that great this season, but is averaging close to 16 fantasy points per game and 5.4 yards per carry in home games this year. When I look at his price, and consider the fact that he is facing a team who just lost a key piece of their defense, the first thing that comes to mind is value. I’ll roll the dice with him in a few spots.
START: Jordy Nelson ($8100) – When I looked at the receivers the week, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Nelson was the sixth most expensive receiver, and has one of the better matchups. He will face the Falcons who are giving up 292 receiving yards per game, which is good for second most allowed per game. They are also allowing the sixth most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (24.2) and have surrendered 11 touchdowns. Much like Aaron Rodgers, Nelson has been a beast all season, but even more so at home. He has only 26 receptions at home, but has made good use of those catches. He has scored seven of his ten touchdowns and is averaging 111.5 receiving yards in Lambeau Field. He has yet to fail to score a touchdown and is averaging 24 fantasy points when he plays in Green Bay. I’m not expecting that streak to end this week against the Falcons. He could easily have the most fantasy points at his position this week.
I’d start him over: Antonio Brown $9300, Josh Gordon $8100, and T.Y. Hilton $8000.
SIT: Jeremy Maclin ($6800) – It’s going to be a tough day for Maclin who will face the best pass defense in the league. The Seahawks have allowed just one receiving touchdown in the last eight games, and only four for the season. They are allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (14). In the last four games, Maclin has only scored one touchdown, and gone over 100 receiving yards once. He has scored fewer than 12 fantasy points in two of the last four games. I’m expecting him to see a lot of Richard Sherman this week, and not many receivers get the best of him. If I can’t trust the quarterback who’s throwing him the ball this week, how can I consider starting the receiver? I’ll take my chances with some of the other receivers in his salary range with better matchup and possible higher volume. Kelvin Benjamin has received 32 targets in the last four weeks (three games due to a bye week), while Maclin has received 35 in the last four weeks also, but he has played four games. Why pay more for a receiver who has a tough matchup and gets less looks?
I’d rather start: Randall Cobb $7400, DeAndre Hopkins $6600, and Kelvin Benjamin $6500
START: Kenny Stills ($6000) – This kid has been great since getting moved into the No. 2 wide receiver slot. In the last three games he has scored two touchdowns and has scored double digit fantasy points. He’s caught at least four passes in each of the last three games. The Saints will host the Panthers which have been exposed by wide receivers this season. They are giving up 23.4 fantasy points per game and have surrendered 16 receiving touchdowns to opposing receivers. On the road, they have allowed at least one receiving touchdown in each game and have allowed multiple receiving touchdowns in three road games. Stills can pop off for a big play at any time. He has both the big play threat and has been fairly consistent these last couple of weeks. With some of the more expensive receivers or some in his price range dealing with tougher matchups, Stills becomes even more appealing.
I’d start him over: Mike Evans $6700, Anquan Boldin $5900, and Sammy Watkins $5800
SIT: Vincent Jackson ($4900) – For just about the entire season, Jackson has been hit or miss. In recent weeks though, Mike Evans has been the spotlight of this offense, which makes Jackson even less appealing. At $4900 he can be tempting to some, but I wouldn’t ignore the facts. First, he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4. Secondly, he will face a Lions defense that is allowing the third fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (17.2). They have allowed just eight touchdowns to opposing receivers this season. This is the first time that Jackson’s price tag falls below $5000, but even with that, there are still other players I’m taking over him at an even lower price. Unless you’re hoping for a miracle, there’s really no reason why he should be in your lineup this week.
I’d rather start: Mike Wallace $5200, Marques Colston $4500, and Robert Woods $4500
SNEAKY START: Charles Johnson ($4300) – Here’s a roll of the dice type of play. Johnson is someone I’m only considering in tournaments. He will be in the starting lineup this week and has a great matchup against the Jets suspect pass defense. The Jets are allowing 21.4 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers and have given up 12 touchdowns. They have allowed more than 150 receiving yards in the last three games and are allowing 253.8 receiving yards per game. If you’re looking for a contrarian play at a relatively low price, Johnson is someone to consider.
START: Jimmy Graham ($6500) – Last week he laid a goose egg, and has been somewhat inconsistent in the last four weeks. With that said, I’m all over Jimmy Graham at $6500. Any time he’s been below the $7000 price tag, he’s scored more than 15 fantasy points. He is $1500 less than Rob Gronkowski, and we all know we can do a lot with $1500. Not to mention, the Panthers have surrendered three touchdowns in the last five games. Graham is still an elite tight end, and despite his recent struggles, it’s very difficult to dismiss him at this price. If you’re building around a tight end this weekend, use Graham.
I’d start him over: All tight ends.
SIT: Heath Miller ($4600) – Miller has stringed together some solid back-to-back performances in the last two games. This week he has a tough matchup ahead of him. The Bengals have held opposing tight ends to fewer than five fantasy points and less than 50 yards in the last six games. Keep in mind they played against Jimmy Graham two weeks ago, and held him to three catches for 29 yards. Miller’s price went up $800 more than what it was last week and his matchup isn’t one that catches my eye. I’d rather roll the dice with some of the other tight ends listed below.
I’d rather start: Antonio Gates $4700, Jordan Reed $4600, and Delanie Walker $4200
SNEAKY START: Kyle Rudolph ($3300) – Rudolph scored his first touchdown since returning from injury last week against the Panthers. This week he faces the Jets defense that has allowed the most touchdowns to opposing tight ends (12). They are giving up 10.2 fantasy points per game and have allowed four or more receptions to opposing tight ends in all but two games this year. This is close to the cheapest possible salary for a tight end, and one with a good matchup Tight ends have been tough to figure out, so why not risk a small portion of your salary on a tight end if you decide to skip on one of the elite ones. Let’s not forget, Rudolph has upside and is a red zone target. There’s a chance he scores in consecutive weeks for the first time this season.
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.