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 who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Cam Newton (vs. Atl)
Who has the most fantasy points in the league over the last five weeks? Yep, it’s Cam Newton.
It’s truly amazing how much of a difference it makes in fantasy football when you’re a quarterback who can run the ball.
Newton’s overall passing stats are downright dreadful compared to the rest of the league, but those gaudy rushing numbers make up for it in spades.
This week he’ll take on an inter-division Atlanta Falcons team that he put up over 30 fantasy points against back in Week 4.
I don’t think he’ll be able to do quite that well again, but it’s certainly possible with the way he’s been playing lately.
Others with QB1 Potential:
- Andrew Luck (vs. Ten)
- Eli Manning (vs. NO)
- Josh Freeman (vs. Phi)
- Russell Wilson (vs. Ari)
- Matthew Stafford (at GB, Sunday night)
- Matt Schaub (at NE, Monday night)
- Colin Kaepernick (vs. Mia)
- Joe Flacco (at Was)
- Ben Roethlisberger (vs. SD)
- Sam Bradford (at Buf)
Start 'Em: Running Backs
Bryce Brown (at TB)
What a maniac this kid is!
With LeSean McCoy out of the lineup for the last two weeks, Bryce Brown has run for 347 yards and four touchdowns on just 43 carries, which comes out to a whopping 8.1 YPC.
The rookie is really something special to watch as he not only has a ton of power in his legs, but also has more speed than you’d think for a 223-pound back.
He runs with a rare ferocity that can sometimes get him into trouble considering his three fumbles in the last two games, but Andy Reid wouldn’t dare tell him to slow down at this point.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been pretty good against the run this season, but Brown is on too much of a roll right now to think he’ll do anything but put up RB1 numbers.
Jamaal Charles (at Cle)
As has been the case throughout his career, Jamaal Charles is still having a bit of trouble finding the end zone.
However, he also just ran for his fifth 100-yard game last weekend and third in his last four games, so the kid is obviously on a bit of a roll.
Not that it makes much of a difference, but Charles is averaging 109 yards a game against the AFC North this season with just the Cleveland Browns left to play.
The Browns are probably the worst of the four teams (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh), but they have been pretty stout on the defensive side of the ball lately.
They’ve had a bit of trouble with the speedier running backs, though, so I expect Jamaal to have a couple of big runs and a RB1 type of day because of them.
Others with RB1 Potential:
- Doug Martin (vs. Phi)
- Trent Richardson (vs. KC)
- Chris Johnson (at Ind)
- Alfred Morris (vs. Bal)
- Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. NO)
- Matt Forte (at Min)
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Dal)
- C.J. Spiller (vs. StL)
- Steven Jackson (at Buf)
- DeMarco Murray (at Cin)
- Knowshon Moreno (at Oak, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 32 rushes - 119 yards - 1 TD / 4 catches - 48 yards - 0 TDs
- Michael Turner (at Car)
- Fred Jackson (vs. StL)
- Shonn Greene (at Jax)
- Vick Ballard (vs. Ten)
- Montell Owens (vs. NYJ)
- Peyton Hillis (at Cle)
Start 'Em: Wide Receivers
Vincent Jackson (vs. Phi)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—if there’s one thing Vincent Jackson does really well for his fantasy owners, it’s that he takes full advantage of poor pass defenses.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense, though not bad on paper, have already mailed in the season and look about as lethargic as I’ve ever seen a defense in this league.
They’ve allowed six touchdowns to wide receivers in the last three weeks alone and 28 or more points in each of their six games since a Week 7 bye.
V-Jax has already reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season on a career-high 20.3 yards per catch average. He might actually be able to improve on that number with as many big plays as the Eagles have surrendered lately.
Victor Cruz (vs. NO)
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Meadowlands Magician in 2012 as his hot start through the Giants' first seven games was followed up by a dud of the last five weeks.
His rise back into the elite, however, starts this Sunday with the abysmal New Orleans Saints pass defense coming to town.
Cruz has always played better at home, but particularly so this season with averages of 6.2 catches, 86.8 yards and one TD through the team’s first six games in New Jersey.
Though the Saints defense has played better of late, it still allows the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, so Cruz should be able to grab top-10 numbers this weekend.
If you need a last bit of confidence here, I’ll also tell you that Victor had his best fantasy output of 2011 against the Saints last year when he grabbed nine balls for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
- Brandon Marshall (at Min)
- Julio Jones (at Car)
- Andre Johnson (at NE, Monday night)
- Reggie Wayne (vs. Ten)
- Randall Cobb (vs. Det, Sunday night)
- Wes Welker (vs. Hou, Monday night)
- Torrey Smith (at Was)
- Pierre Garcon (vs. Bal)
- Hakeem Nicks (vs. NO)
- Marques Colston (at NYG)
- Greg Jennings (vs. Det, Sunday night)
- Chris Givens (at Buf)
- Michael Crabtree (vs. Mia)
- Josh Gordon (vs. KC)
- Danario Alexander (at Pit)
- Kenny Britt (at Ind)
- T.Y. Hilton (vs. Ten)
- Mike Williams (vs. Phi)
- Golden Tate (vs. Ari)
- James Jones (vs. Det, Sunday night)
- Anquan Boldin (at Was)
- Brandon Lloyd (vs. Hou, Monday night)
Start 'Em: Tight Ends
Martellus Bennett (vs. NO)
Martellus Bennett finally jumped back on board the G-Train last week grabbing five of his seven targets for 82 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins.
It was his first double-digit scoring game since Week 3, but he’ll have a good chance to do it again this Sunday with the New Orleans Saints decrepit defense coming to town.
In fact, the Saints have allowed the most receptions, yards, touchdowns and (obviously) fantasy points to opposing tight ends over the past five weeks, so you have to believe the Black Unicorn is primed to get in on the fun.
Greg Olsen (vs. Atl)
Olsen has been a bit up and down this season, but when he’s been on—like he was against Atlanta in their first matchup of the season—he can be a huge asset to your fantasy squad.
Back in Week 4, Greg caught six passes against the Falcons and turned them into 89 yards and a score.
I have no doubt these numbers could be duplicated on Sunday in Carolina, especially seeing how Atlanta has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to tight ends over the last five weeks (ninth-most on the season).
Olsen is definitely worth taking a chance on this weekend.
- Owen Daniels (at NE, Monday night)
- Kyle Rudolph (vs. Chi)
- Dennis Pitta (at Was)
- Heath Miller (vs. SD)
- Brandon Pettigrew (at GB, Sunday night)
- Jermaine Gresham (vs. Dal)
- Jermichael Finley (vs. Det, Sunday night)
- Dallas Clark (vs. Phi)
- Dwayne Allen (vs. Ten)
- Brent Celek (at TB)
- Lance Kendricks (at Buf)
- Tony Scheffler (at GB, Sunday night)
Philip Rivers (at Pit)
Rivers has been a mess this season, with his only good fantasy scoring games coming against Tennessee, New Orleans and Tampa Bay (all bottom-10 pass defenses).
He’s been better on the road than at home this year, but it won’t matter against a Steelers team that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2012.
Tony Romo (at Cin)
The Bengals haven’t allowed a double-digit fantasy performance from a quarterback since Peyton Manning back in Week 9. They’re also pretty stellar at home, which doesn’t bode well for the road-fearing Romo.
With DeMarco Murray back and playing well, I expect Dallas to run more anyway, so you might want to re-think Romo as your starting QB.
Chad Henne (vs. NYJ)
Without WR Cecil Shorts III in the lineup, I fully expect the old Chad Henne to come out flustered and turnover-prone like he used to be.
With his next-best receiver, Justin Blackmon, being shadowed by CB Antonio Cromartie all game, Henne doesn’t stand a chance.
Ryan Mathews (at Pit)
Plain and simple, Ryan Mathews hasn’t been all he was cracked up to be this season.
He has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game and has gone over 100 TOTAL yards just twice, with one of them coming against a league-worst New Orleans Saints defense.
If you’re expecting him to suddenly break out against a top-tier Pittsburgh Steelers D, you might as well go back to lion taming because your chances of something like that working out are slightly better.
Reggie Bush / Daniel Thomas (at SF)
Being in a timeshare backfield obviously hurts your fantasy stock, which is exactly what Bush and Thomas are in right now as neither one has been given more than 16 touches in a game since Week 6.
Just thought I’d give you a reason to sit these two guys other than the fact that they’re playing the vaunted 49ers defense.
Beanie Wells (at Sea)
The Seahawks defense has been chewed up on the ground a bit lately, so there’s actually a tiny ray of hope for Mr. Wells this weekend.
However, most of the damage has come on the road, and other than Adrian Peterson’s outburst in Seattle five weeks ago, they’ve been dominant playing at home.
Beanie doesn’t quite have his legs back under him since his return from injury, anyway (70 yards on 32 carries; 2.2 YPC), so there’s no need to go pinning your playoff hopes on a hope and a prayer here.
Larry Fitzgerald (at Sea)
This one’s a bit iffy for me with the Cardinals turning back to John Skelton as their quarterback this week.
Fitzgerald was awesome in 2011 with Skelton under center and put up fairly decent fantasy numbers in the few games they played together this season.
However, Seattle’s defense has shut down the passing game this year allowing the second-fewest passing touchdowns and third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
With his immense talent, Fitz could surprise with a nice game here, but I wouldn’t count on him as more than a flex this week.
Dwayne Bowe (at Cle)
Is Brady Quinn still the Chiefs starting quarterback? Yes? Well then there’s your reason to sit Dwayne Bowe in Week 14.
If you need a little extra incentive to plop him on your bench this Sunday, consider that Bowe hasn’t had more than 79 yards in a game or caught a single touchdown pass since Week 4.
Oh, and shutdown cornerback Joe Haden will be shadowing him all game as well.
Justin Blackmon (vs. NYJ)
With Cecil Shorts already declared out for the game, Blackmon will be out there on an island this weekend as the Jags’ only wide receiver with even a speck more talent than a kumquat.
What this means is that the Jets will let one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Antonio Cromartie, shadow Blackmon all day long in order to eliminate him from the game.
Stevie Johnson (vs. StL)
Stevie J has played pretty well this season and scored a decent amount of fantasy points of late, but with a good chance of rain on Sunday and an already bummed out hamstring, I have a hard time believing he’ll put up any better than flex numbers this week.
In case you didn’t know, Johnson isn’t much of a big-yardage guy, anyway, as he’s only had two 100-yard games in his last 34 contests.
Brian Hartline (at SF)
Here is how a normal passing play goes against the San Francisco 49ers:
One-and-a-half seconds later, the 49ers front seven are in the quarterback’s face and he’s either forced to throw the ball away; dump it off to a running back/tight end; toss it to a short-routed slot receiver; or take a sack.
Basically, unless you’re either the slot receiver on the opposing team or named Calvin Johnson, you have no part in this game.
Brian Hartline is neither, so you do the math.
Antonio Gates (at Pit)
Is this really all you can give us Mr. Gates? Three games with double-digit fantasy points this season and a whopping EIGHT with fewer than six?! Simply unacceptable.
So far, in the three games against the other AFC North teams this year (Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland), Gates has put up a COMBINED 10 catches for 76 yards and zero touchdowns.
Pittsburgh is the toughest of all three against opposing tight ends, so don’t expect too much from the future Hall of Famer in this one.
Jared Cook (at Ind)
Though he’s been targeted more often of late, this matchup with the Colts on Sunday doesn’t look like a winner for Mr. Jared Cook.
He had three catches for 45 yards the first time these two teams hooked up back in Week 8, but Indianapolis has allowed the second-fewest receptions and sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season, so you can’t expect much more than that.
Scott Chandler (vs. StL)
Standing 6’7” with some pretty good hands, Scott Chandler is a threat to snag a touchdown any time the Bills get down into the red-zone.
However, it’s really the only thing Chandler brings to the table as he’s caught two or fewer passes in seven of 12 games this season.
If he were facing a different team, I’d say to go ahead and take your chances, but the Rams are one of only six teams to have allowed three or fewer touchdowns to tight ends this year.
NFL injury report.
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