START: Ben Roethlisberger ($7900) – Big Ben is not known to be great on the road, but at this price and with such a great matchup, he shouldn’t be overlooked. The Steelers will head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons defense that has been friendly to opposing quarterbacks. They are giving up 288 passing yards per game, which is the most in the NFL. They’ve given up just 18 touchdowns, but 12 of those have been in the last seven games. No to mention, they’ve allowed 300+ passing yards in four of their last six games. Big Ben had a big road game last week against the Bengals defense that has been solid against the pass. He’s scored more than 30 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks, has thrown for 340 or more yards in in five of his last six games, and had 19 touchdowns passes in the last six weeks. The over under for this game is 55 points in most places, which just means that Vegas is expecting a lot of points. He’s the seventh most expensive quarterback this week, but we’ve seen him finish top five often this season. This is a good time to start Big Ben.
I’d start him over: Tom Brady $8100, Russell Wilson $8000, and Matthew Stafford $7800
SIT: Joe Flacco ($6900) – After a big game in Miami, Flacco is back at home where he will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over the last three weeks, the Jaguars pass defense has been surprisingly good. They kept Andrew Luck in check, and have not allowed a 300 yards passer in the last three games. As I’ve mentioned before, Flacco is all but consistent. He has a great arm, and at times, shows that he can be a great quarterback. He just can’t do it week in and week out. In the last two weeks he has scored more than 23 fantasy points in each game. Prior to that, he didn’t eclipse 14 points in two straight games. Flacco is one of the few quarterbacks that has scored less than 10 fantasy points twice this season. The Jags are giving up just 15.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and have only allowed three 300+ passing yard games. Since Week 4, no quarterback has thrown for more than 273 yards, and only one quarterback has scored more than 14 fantasy points. The Jags aren’t a shutdown defense by any means, but they are no pushover either. I’m not a fan of his price and the matchup.
I’d rather start: Jay Cutler $7500, Tony Romo $7300, and Eli Manning $6400
START: Matt Ryan ($6600) – If a shootout is expected in Atlanta, its only right to start the quarterback who’s played well in the Georgia Dome. Ryan has thrown for 1,867 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just four interceptions in six home games. He’s thrown more than 350 yards in each of his last two games, and has thrown six touchdowns. They will host the Steelers, who’ve been susceptible against the pass. They have allowed two or more touchdown passes in each of their last seven games. For the season, the Steelers have surrendered 26 passing touchdowns, and are giving up 17.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. They are allowing 248 passing yards per game. Ryan has played well in recent weeks as he’s scored the most fantasy points he’s scored in a single game last week. Great matchup, great pricing, and he’s on a little heater. There’s a lot to be excited about for Ryan this week.
I’d start him over: Joe Flacco $6900, Mark Sanchez $6500, and Ryan Tannenhill $6500
SIT: Andy Dalton ($6100) – For someone who has a 15 to 13 touchdown to interception ratio, this is not the matchup to look forward to. The Browns have allowed 19 passing touchdowns this season, but have also intercepted the ball 19 times. Dalton is as streaky as a quarterback can be. Over the last five weeks, his scores have been: 1.24, 22, 12.92, 14.74, and 30.28. Yes, you read that right, he scored just 1.24 fantasy points in Week 10, and it was against this same Browns defense. The last time Dalton played against them, he threw for 86 yards on 33 attempts, and three picks. This was the second in as many games against the Browns that he’s thrown less than 100 yards. It was one of the worst games ever played by a quarterback. His QB rating was 2.0. The Browns give up just 13 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Last week he put together a nice game, but it was against the Steelers, who have one of the worst pass defenses in the league. He threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns, which was the first time he threw more than 300 yards in a game since Week 6. This could be another grudge matchup between the two division rivals.
I’d rather start: Eli Manning $6400, Philip Rivers $6200, and Kyle Orton $5500
SNEAKY START: Jake Locker ($5400) – Two things you need to know about Locker. First, he should only be played in tournaments, if you decided to roll the dice on him. Second, start him at your own risk. I look at Locker as a roll the dice type of play. He’s cheap and has a very good matchup. The Jets allow the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (18.7). They’ve also surrendered the second most passing touchdowns (29). The Jets haven’t stopped opposing quarterbacks for most of the season; they’ve given up two or more touchdowns in all but two games this season. Locker will only get the start if Zach Mettenberger can’t play, and that’s currently what it looks like. If you don’t mind taking a big risk, then Locker could be someone to consider.
START: Matt Forte ($9000) – Forte has scored 25 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games, and has done that eight times this season. He’s caught five or more passes in all but one game. Now that the Bears have lost Brandon Marshall for the season, there’s a good chance that Forte becomes even more involved in the passing game than he already is. This week he has a very good matchup against the Saints run defense. The Saints are allowing the third most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (21.5). They’ve surrendered 12 rushing touchdowns, and have given up more than 100 rushing yards in four of the last five games. Along with six touchdowns in the last five weeks. The one stat that caught my eye the most is that the Saints have given up the second most receiving yards to opposing backs (734). They’ve also yielded 60 receptions and two receiving touchdowns. There’s only one back I like more than Forte this week, and that’s Le’Veon Bell. However, Forte is $600 cheaper, and this week an extra $600 can benefit you pretty nicely.
I’d start him over: all backs, except Le’Veon Bell.
SIT: Eddie Lacy ($7500) – Lacy is coming off of yet another great week, but there are a couple of things that concern me. First, he hurt his hip last week and was limited in Thursday’s practice. Second, this matchup against the Bills is not as attractive as some may think. The Bills are giving up less than 100 yards per game to opposing backs. They’ve surrendered just seven touchdowns, and are one of two teams who’ve not allowed a receiving touchdown by a running back this season. They did get run over by C.J. Anderson last week, but in the three games prior to that, they didn’t allow a rushing touchdown in any game. This is also the second highest his salary has been all season. He’s currently listed as questionable for Sunday, so there’s even a chance he doesn’t suit up. There are just too many red flags to consider starting Lacy, especially with some of the other backs that are in his price range or even cheaper.
I’d rather start: Justin Forsett $7400, Marshawn Lynch $7300, and LeSean McCoy $6600
START: Joique Bell ($5900) – Bell was on my radar last week, and he blew up with a big game against the Bucs. In that game, he carried the ball 18 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, and also caught five passes for 50 yards and a score. Even with Reggie Bush back in the lineup, Bell produced quality fantasy points. In the last two games, he has scored four touchdowns and has totaled more than 100 all-purpose yards in each of those games. Bell is clearly the best back in the Lions backfield at this time. This week he has yet another promising matchup against the Vikings defense. In the last four weeks the Vikings defense has allowed more than 100 rushing yards per game. They are yielding 18.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. What’s also a bonus is that his price is still below $6000. There’s a good chance with another big game, his price will go up next week, so why not jump on the bandwagon at a discount price one more week? He’s playing really well, and has a great matchup. It doesn’t appear that he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
I’d start him over: Mark Ingram $6000, Rashad Jennings $5900, and Andre Williams $5500
SIT: Lamar Miller ($5000) – I was pretty excited about Lamar Miller last week, and he didn’t pan out as I thought he would. So I’ll be like Bill Belichick and send him to the dog house. I kid, I kid. What concerns me about Miller is the fact that the Dolphins simply aren’t using him as much as I thought they would. He’s received more than 15 carries in just one game this season. Last week he did have five receptions, but it was the first time that happened all season. The Dolphins head to Foxboro to play the Patriots who have been playing really well against the run as of late. In the last five games, the Patriots have allowed just one rushing touchdown, and have not allowed any running back to rush for more than 100 yards. In fact, they’ve held running backs to less than 10 fantasy points in three of the last four games. Talk about a stiff run defense. If you look at some of the backs below, they either have a better matchup, get more touches, or both. I haven’t given up on Miller yet, but don’t feel comfortable taking him ahead of some of the other backs at his price range.
I’d rather start: Alfred Morris $5000, Jonathan Stewart $5000, and Isaiah Crowell $4900
SNEAKY START: Chris Johnson ($3600) – Chris Johnson has carried the ball more than 15 times in each of the last two games, something he hadn’t done all season. He also rushed for more than 100 yards in Week 13, which was the first time he passed the century mark in a game this season. Johnson will take on his former team, which have been unable to stop the run. The Titans are allowing 141.5 rushing yards per game which is most in the NFL. They have surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns, and are giving up 21.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. While some may be looking to start Chris Ivory vs. this defense, I’m more inclined to start Johnson. I’m not huge on revenge games, but this could very well be that. He’s been getting the touches in recent weeks, and is dirt cheap with a great matchup.
START: Antonio Brown ($8700) – Pound for pound, Brown is arguably the best, if not one of the best receivers in the NFL. If there was an NFL dictionary that contained the word consistency, there’s a good chance Antonio Brown would be the definition. There’s still three weeks left in the football season and Brown already has 105 receptions. He has now caught eight or more passes in his last seven games. Not to mention he also scores touchdowns, as he has 12 for the season. By now you know the Steelers head to Atlanta to play the Falcons, and this is expected to be a high scoring affair. The Falcons are giving up the most receiving yards per game (294.7). They’re also allowing the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (24.7). They’ve haven’t given up many touchdowns this season, but let’s be honest, most teams struggle to keep Brown out of the end zone. The price is high, but as they say, “you get what you pay for.”
I’d start him over: all receivers
SIT: Josh Gordon ($7400) – It’s tough to consider sitting a talented receiver such as Gordon. However, there are several things that concern me about Gordon this week. First off, as much as I think Johnny Manziel is more talented than Brian Hoyer is, he’s still a rookie and is getting his first NFL start against a pretty tough defense. In fact, I think Manziel could do most of his damage with his legs this week. Aside from that, like I said before, the Bengals have played well against the pass. They are allowing the second fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (15.8) and touchdowns (7). In their last five games they have only given up two touchdowns. Prior to last week, the Bengals had contained receivers to fewer than 150 yards in four straight games. When you weigh out all the variables, and you consider the price he’s at and the other receivers in his price range, he’s likely the last guy you’re bearing in mind.
I’d rather start: Dez Bryant $7900, Julio Jones $7800, and Randall Cobb $7300
START: Kenny Stills ($5700) – This week’s Monday night football game is expected to be a high scoring one. The over under for this game is currently set at 54 points in most sites. There are several things that are attention-grabbing to me when it comes to Stills this week. First is the matchup. The Saints will head to Chicago to play the Bears, a defense that’s just as bad as the Saints defense. The Bears are giving up 23.6 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers. Receivers have scored 16 touchdowns against the Bears, and their defense is allowing 279.3 receiving yards per game. Secondly, the price is also perfect if you’re hoping that Stills just hits value. He has a rough week last week against the Panthers, but ultimately the entire offense struggled. Because of that his priced dropped a couple of hundred dollars. Lastly, since he struggled last week, there’s a good chance some people will look elsewhere this week. As I’ve mentioned in some of my other articles, each week in DFS is a new week. There’s no room for grudges. Stills has scored two touchdowns in the last four weeks and has put up double digit fantasy points in three of the last four games. This is a great price to get a receiver that’s expected to be in a shootout, and has a future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him the ball.
I’d start him over: Jeremy Maclin $6100, DeAndre Hopkins $6100, and Brandon LaFell $5600
SIT: Mike Wallace ($5100) – Wallace will visit Revis island this week, a place where many receivers have gone to, and not had much success. Revis is actually playing great football once again, after a rocky season last year. Wallace on the other hand, has been up and down as of late. He was unable to capitalize from a good matchup at home against a suspect Ravens secondary, so it’s unlikely that he’ll get anything going on the road against a much more respectable defensive unit. The Patriots are allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points per game to opposing receivers (17.6), and have allowed just nine touchdowns. They kept Calvin Johnson out of the end zone a couple of weeks ago, and held him to just four catches for 58 yards. Not to mention, holding the Packers receivers unit to just one touchdown. Wallace has less than 40 receiving yards in three of his last four games. He’s always capable of busting out for a big play, but I wouldn’t bet on it since he’s going up against Revis. With the value at the receiver position this week, Wallace shouldn’t find his way into many lineups.
I’d rather start: Martavis Bryant $4800, Steve Smith Sr. $4800, and Marques Colston $4600
SNEAKY START: Marquess Wilson ($3000) – Here’s another shot in the dark pick. Wilson is likely going to step in as the Bears’ No. 2 receiver, with Brandon Marshall sidelined. If that happens there’s a good chance he’ll get plenty of looks. As I’ve mentioned before, this game is expected to be high scoring, and the Saints defense are actually just as bad as the Bears defense. The Saints are giving up 275.1 receiving yards per game. They’re surrendering 23.8 fantasy points per game and have also allowed 16 touchdowns to opposing receivers. Wilson is as cheap as a player can be besides a defense. If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough, but don’t want to pay up the big bucks, he could very well be that. If he ends up whiffing, well it was only $3K. He hasn’t done much in the NFL, but should have plenty of opportunities this week to get something going.
START: Jimmy Graham ($6300) – In the last four games, Graham has scored fewer than six fantasy points in three games. Talk about disappointing. If there’s a week gets back on the map, I’d say it’s this week. The Bears are actually the worst at defending against tight ends. They’re giving up 10 fantasy point per game to tight ends, and have allowed 11 touchdowns. These are two bad defenses playing on Monday night, so there should be plenty of scoring going on. He’s also left a bitter taste in fantasy owner’s mouths in recent weeks, so there’s a good chance he’s owned less than he would be under these circumstances. He’s the second most expensive tight end, but is $1300 cheaper than Rob Gronkowski, who has a tough matchup. If you’re anticipating on paying up for a tight end, and are trying to find ways to save, give Graham another shot. I don’t think he will disappoint you.
I’d start him over: All tight ends.
SIT: Coby Fleener ($4700) – Fleener’s production has been like a roller coaster over the last four games. One week he blows up, the other week not so much. If history repeats itself, this would be the week he’s due for a big game. However, the Colts spread the ball a lot, so any given week it could be that week for any player on this offense. The tight end position has been a guessing game all season. He’s currently the sixth most expensive player at his position, and it’s not something I’m willing to pay. The Texans have actually been pretty solid against tight ends this season. They’ve allowed just three touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and are giving up just 4.5 fantasy points per game. In their last five games, they’ve kept tight ends out of the end zone and with fewer than five receptions. There’s really no reason to dish out the money to pay up for Fleener.
I’d rather start: Antonio Gates $4500, Delanie Walker $4400, and Jordan Cameron $4000
SNEAKY START: Larry Donnell ($3800) – Everyone found out who Larry Donnell was in Week 4. He busted out for seven catches, 54 yards, and three touchdowns. Guess who that was against? The Redskins. As I mentioned above, the Bears are the worst against tight ends, but the Redskins are literally neck and neck with them in all categories. They’re giving up 10 fantasy points per game and have surrendered 11 touchdowns to tight ends. The only difference really is that the Redskins have allowed 49 fewer yards and 10 less receptions. He’s caught nine passes in the last two weeks, and has been getting more looks. This is one of the best values at tight end this week. It’s also a small amount to pay. There’s really not much to like about Donnell this week.
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.