Every week, there are certain fantasy studs that you simply have to start no matter what, such as Tom Brady, Arian Foster and Calvin Johnson.
There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well, but then there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit.
Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position that you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictate one way or the other:
Start 'Em: Quarterback
Andrew Luck (vs. Min)
Luck showed against the Bears that he’ll be a fantasy force to be reckoned with this season, and he should outperform his Week 1 numbers (309 yards, 1 TD) against Minnesota this weekend.
No offense to Blaine Gabbert, as he’s certainly improved this season, but if the Vikings can give up 260 yards, two TDs and no INTs to him while at home, then it’s very possible we see Luck go up over 300 yards once again and likely stack it up with two or three TDs as well.
Peyton Manning (at Atl Monday Night)
When one of the best of all time tries to come back from a possible career-ending injury, there are usually more questions than answers. Is he really healthy? Will he ever regain the arm-strength he once had? Is it even possible at 36 years old?
Well, it looks like those questions was pretty well answered last Sunday night as Manning tossed up 253 yards and two TDs against the Steelers' top-rated pass defense of 2011.
His move to Denver and playing with new receivers didn’t make much of a difference, but on Monday night, Manning will have to prove his worth yet again if the Donkeys want to keep up with this new uptempo Falcons offense—and I believe he will.
Remember, this is Peyton Manning we’re talking about here—the same guy who has finished outside the top-five fantasy QBs in a season just once since 2000 (sixth in 2008).
Jake Locker (at SD)
It was a bummer watching Locker get injured while trying to tackle his interceptor last weekend, as he was well on his way to a 300-yard game before that happened, but the word is that Locker is absolutely fine and will start today against a banged-up San Diego pass D that gives up a lot of fantasy points to opposing QBs.
Tony Romo (at Sea)
The Tony Romo we have come to expect (in the early part of the season) showed his stuff in the NFL kickoff game last Wednesday against the Giants, but that New York secondary can’t hold a candle to what the Seahawks have going on in Seattle.
Still, I think the Cowboys will have to throw the ball to win this one due to the ‘Hawks strong rush defense, so look for Romo to put up a good 35-40 passes in this one.
Last year, Romo threw for 279 yards and two TDs against this team in Week 9, numbers he should be able to reproduce en route to a QB1-type fantasy day.
Other QBs You Should Consider Starting
Start 'Em: Running Back
Jamaal Charles (at Buf)
Jamaal showed last weekend that Peterson isn’t the only one who can return from ACL surgery and look good, as he put up 87 yards on 16 carries (5.4 YPC) against a pretty stout Atlanta rush D.
The main reason I have him up this high, however, is because Charles LOVES playing the Bills and has had some of the best games of his career against them.
In 2010, he put up 238 total yards (177 rushing) on 26 touches, and in 2009 he had 181 total yards (143 rushing) with a TD.
Buffalo could barely stop the slow-rolling Shonn Greene last weekend, so what are their chances against a lightning bolt today?
Stevan Ridley (vs. Ari)
Ridley put his stamp on the Patriots' season-long starting RB job last weekend, going off for 125 yards and a TD on just 21 carries.
Not quite the case with Tom Brady running the show, and I fully expect to see some gigantic holes for Ridley to pound through, putting up some hefty fantasy points in the process.
When New England gets up big—which they will—it might be the Ridley show from then on out as well.
C.J. Spiller (vs. KC)
I love that this kid pulled it together last season after being considered a bust for the first year and a half of his career—and now he seems to have proven that he wasn’t just lip-syncing, either.
With Freddy Jackson on the mend for about a month, Spiller will have sole possession of the backfield once again and should be able to do well against a banged-up Chiefs defense that looked pretty porous against Atlanta in Week 1.
Last year, Spiller and Jackson combined for 128 yards and a TD on 25 carries against KC, numbers Spiller should garner on his own this time around.
Alfred Morris (at StL)
Though Shanahan has already gone on record saying Alfred Morris is his starter this Sunday, you know it can change any second, so I’d absolutely keep an eye on all the news coming out of the Redskins camp right up until game time.
That being said, Morris DID in fact look like an NFL starter in Week 1, putting up 96 rushing yards and two TDs against the Saints.
If he does indeed start again, he’ll have a great matchup to get him in your lineup, as the Rams gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs in 2011 and the second-most already this season—to supposedly one of the worst rushing offenses in the league (Detroit).
Reggie Bush (vs. Oak)
Bush is coming off a pretty impressive game against the Texans where he finished with 115 total yards with six receptions and a 4.9 yards-per-carry average.
Daniel Thomas suffered a concussion in Week 1 and is out for this game, so Reggie will undoubtedly get his fair share of work for the 'Fins.
Bush will face the Raiders defense, which showed their toughness against the Chargers, but the Chargers WERE without Ryan Mathews, so it could have just been fools gold.
Bush is definitely a nice start here, as west coast teams always seem to have trouble going to the east coast and playing in the early game.
Was that really the Law Firm running the ball last weekend against the Ravens, or did Corey Dillon make a comeback at 37 years old? Actually, Dillon always sucked against Baltimore, so that MUST have been Green-Ellis in there.
Cleveland had one of the worst rush defenses last season, allowing the second-most yards to RBs in the league, and they probably won’t be all that much better this season, so I expect BJGE to have some pretty nice fantasy stats today.
Other RBs You Should Consider Starting:
- Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. TB)
- Doug Martin (at NYG)
- Jonathan Dwyer (vs. NYJ)
Start 'Em: Wide Receiver
Reggie Wayne (vs. Min)
Wayne went absolutely ballistic in his first regular season game with Andrew Luck and should be right back in the WR1 talk each week from here on out.
Eighteen targets, nine catches and 135 yards is nothing to sneeze at, and seeing that he’s playing against a terrible Minnesota secondary this week, he just might do it again.
The Vikings allowed Blaine Gabbert to toss up a career-high 260 yards against them last week (with two TDs), so who knows how much more Luck and Wayne will get this weekend?
Vincent Jackson (at NYG)
Jackson is going to dominate the targets department on this team all year long, so you know he'll get his chances.
The Giants secondary wasn't able to stop anybody last year and got off to another horrible start this season against the Cowboys in the season opener.
Jackson should have himself a nice game here.
Percy Harvin (at Ind)
Yes, I do believe the Vikings will run quite a bit in this game due to the Colts porous rush D, but they'll also be able to throw, as Jay Cutler and the Bears showed in Week 1.
With Dwight Freeney already declared out for Week 2, Christian Ponder will have as much time as he wants to find his receivers—and Percy will capitalize big time.
Darrelle Revis would normally shadow Brown in this game, but since he's out with a concussion, the task will fall onto Kyle Wilson to handle the job.
Neither he nor anyone else (especially RB Joe McKnight, who is rumored to be practicing at CB for this game) has a shot at keeping up with him, so I expect Antonio to dominate.
Lance Moore (at Car)
With Devery Henderson out with a concussion and this game looking like a possible slug-fest, Moore will have ample opportunity to put up similar numbers to last week (6-120-1).
Kendall Wright (at SD)
Kenny Britt is on a snap-count, and if Nate Washington can't go this Sunday (which is looking like a slim-to-none chance), then Kendall Wright will have quite a bit of room to shine.
Michael Crabtree (vs. Det Sunday Night)
Detroit has a pretty stout run defense, so the 49ers are going to HAVE to pass the ball more than they would like.
Other WRs You Should Consider Starting
- Denarius Moore (at Mia)
- Titus Young (at SF Sunday Night)
- Brandon LaFell (vs. NO)
- Malcom Floyd (vs. Ten)
- Donald Jones (vs. KC)
- Damian Williams (at SD)
- Danny Amendola (vs. Was)
Start 'Em: Tight End
Coby Fleener (vs. Min)
In his first game as a pro, Fleener caught six balls on 10 targets for 82 yards against the Bears. Not too shabby of a start for the rookie.
The Vikings weren't very good against tight ends last season and just allowed Marcedes Lewis to score his first touchdown since 2010 last weekend.
Get used to this Luck-to-Fleener combo, folks.
Jermaine Gresham (vs. Cle)
In two games against the Browns last season, Gresham put up 11 catches on 17 targets for 126 yards and two TDs.
I think he likes these inner-state games.
Jared Cook (at SD)
San Diego was already in the bottom third of the league in regards to allowing tight end fantasy points last season, and then proceeded to allow Oakland's Brandon Myers to grab five balls for 65 yards against them last Monday night.
Myers had only caught 32 balls in his three-year career before that outburst.
Besides that, like I said with Kendall Wright above, Cook should get a lot of looks with Britt on a snap-count and Nate Washington unlikely to suit up.
With John Carlson getting back into the Vikings' lineup and taking over as the in-line/blocking TE, Rudolph is going to be a target monster out there.
In conjunction, Indy allowed the second-most receptions to tight ends in 2011.
You do the math.
Other TEs You Should Consider Starting
- Owen Daniels (at Jax)
- Martellus Bennett (vs. TB)
- Scott Chandler (vs. KC)
Sit 'Em: Quarterback
Michael Vick (vs. Bal)
Even though WRs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson look like they'll play, they aren't at 100 percent and already would have had a tough time getting open against a tough Ravens defense.
On top of that, Vick's security blanket, TE Brent Celek, will likely be kept in on the offensive line more than usual to help out with blocking against a hardcore Baltimore front four as well.
If you drafted Vick, I'll assume you also drafted a nice backup due to his injury risk. Despite Vick being healthy, this would be a good week to use your QB insurance player.
Mark Sanchez (at Pit)
Dirty Sanchez probably won't have another game all season like he did last weekend against the Bills, ESPECIALLY not in this week's matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There's no way you drafted him as your starter this season, so sit him back down on your bench where he belongs today.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. KC)
Chiefs stud CB Brandon Flowers is back in the lineup and ready to shadow Stevie Johnson wherever he goes today.
Considering that WR David Nelson is also out with a season-ending injury, I expect the Bills to run quite a bit and thus cap Fitzpatrick's fantasy potential this week.
Russell Wilson (vs. Dal)
After an awesome preseason to win the Seahawks starting job, Russell Wilson was brought back down to Earth in Week 1 against a middling Arizona defense.
If Wilson couldn't produce against the Cardinals, there's no reason to think he'll do much against a Cowboys defense that sports a really nice CB combo of Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne.
Sit 'Em: Running Back
Steven Jackson (vs. Was)
Jackson had about as bad a start as you can have, finishing Week 1 with 53 rushing yards on 21 attempts for a putrid 2.5 yards per carry.
Jackson and the Rams face the Redskins this week after they shocked the Saints on their home turf last week. The Redskins looked really good in that game and should have a good chance to jump to an early lead against the Rams, a prospect that could end up limiting Jackson's rushing attempts.
Tack on some major troubles along the Rams offensive line, and it could be a stressful day for fantasy owners.
Jackson needs to prove it this game, or it could be a long season.
Ryan Mathews (vs. Ten) – Questionable To Play
If Mathews makes his debut against Tennessee today, the coaching staff will likely limit his carries.
That being said, Mathews is a competitor who will want to be on the field as much as possible and is explosive enough to put up big fantasy points with little opportunity.
Mathews was setting up for a huge season before the injury to his collarbone and will be looking for blood when he finally does get the ball.
Stevan Ridley was able to exploit the Titans defense at home, so if Mathews plays, he is still a viable fantasy threat, even with limited carries, but make sure to check on his status before game time, as he may not play at all.
He may not be worth the risk here, as the Chargers play in the late game today.
Other RBs You Should Consider Sitting
- Shonn Greene (at Pit)
- Kevin Smith (at SF Sunday Night)
- Donald Brown (vs. Min)
- Beanie Wells (at NE)
- Isaac Redman (vs. NYJ)
- Fred Jackson (vs. KC) – OUT - Sprained Knee (LCL)
Sit 'Em: Wide Receiver
Stevie Johnson (vs. KC)
Stevie will draw an activated Brandon Flowers as his shadow this week, which is obviously not the best situation for him or his fantasy owners.
With the Bills likely looking to run in this game, Johnson could have a really slow day.
DeSean Jackson (vs. Bal)
If he’s shadowed by Lardarius Webb (which he should be), don’t expect much out of D-Jax…again.
Brandon Lloyd (vs. Ari)
Lloyd will likely be shadowed by Patrick Peterson in this one.
With so many other weapons at Tom Brady's disposal, I just don’t see Lloyd playing much of factor, as Brady always does a good job of avoiding turnovers
Greg Little (at Cin)
Brandon Weeden doesn’t look all that comfortable as an NFL quarterback yet, and with Little still dealing with a butterfingers issue, you simply can’t start the guy.
Kevin Ogletree (at Sea)
This is the same Kevin Ogletree who wasn't able to do anything with his playing time over the last three years, fellas. Let's not forget that after one good game.
This is also the Seattle Seahawks pass defense, not the Giants.
Santonio Holmes (at Pit)
That was likely the best passing game the Jets will have all season, and Holmes was barely even a part of it.
Until he puts up a good game, you simply have to sit him.
Nate Washington (at SD)
Nobody is even sure what the injury was that he sustained in Week 1, whether it was a leg injury or a concussion, but Nate missed practice all week and is questionable to play today.
Don't take the chance of putting him in your lineup unless you have to, especially with the game set to start at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Pierre Garcon (at StL)
It's only a "bruised right foot" from what team officials are saying, and he was only given a questionable tag, but Garcon was very limited in the two practices he attended this week, and I'm not so sure the Redskins will feel the need to risk aggravating the injury against the Rams.
If you have another option, you might want to sit him regardless of whether he's active or not.
Maybe pick up his replacement, Aldrick Robinson, and stick him in there instead. He did very well replacing Garcon last weekend and has the Redskins coaches singing his praises.
Siit 'Em: Tight End
Fred Davis (at StL)
Fred has NOT looked in tune with Robert Griffin III yet and only caught two of his four targets in Week 1 for 38 yards.
He'll get better for sure, but St. Louis was actually the second-best team in the NFL in not allowing fantasy points to tight ends last season, so you might want to sit Fred for the week.
Brent Celek (vs. Bal)
With Baltimore’s defense as dominant as it always is, I’m betting on a nice fat blocking day for Mr. Celek.
Dustin Keller (at Pit) – Ruled OUT for Sunday’s game - Hamstring
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