Fantasy Football: Must Starts for Thursday Night Football

Bruce ChenAnalyst ISeptember 11, 2013

Fantasy Football: Must Starts for Thursday Night Football

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    Thursday Night Football games are always tricky. Either you head into Sunday with a huge advantage or a couple of your guys have played and scored poorly and you're dead in the water.

    This week's Thursday showdown consists of a divisional matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Or better known as the matchup between two "evenly" matched teams. 

    In all seriousness, the Patriots did have a scare at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 and Geno Smith did lead Gang Green to a stunning win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    So let's break down five players you need to be starting, unless you have a glaringly better option.

    Obvious, no-brainer starter names like Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez won't be mentioned.

    Just kidding! Without further ado, let's win your fantasy matchup!


Bilal Powell

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    He out-touched the football against supposed starter Chris Ivory 16 to 10, yet how am I recommending you start a player who averaged 2.4 yards per rush against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

    Well, for one thing, the Jets aren't as good a football team as the Patriots. They might get down three touchdowns in the first quarter of the game.

    Powell played the lions' share of the third downs for the Jets last week, snaring four passes for 35 yards. Comparatively, Ivory did not record a catch.

    The trouble with two-down backs is that they do not play when the team is down big and in obvious passing situations. When the Jets get down, Geno Smith is going to be looking downfield, but due to the Jets' offense being the Jets' offense, Smith will need check-down options.

    This is the perfect time for Powell to pick up garbage-time receiving yards. He's a half-decent flex play in 12-team leagues. 

Stevan Ridley

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    Ridley had a tough Week 1, surrendering a fumble to Da'Norris Searcy that resulted in a touchdown for the Bills. Bill Belichick wants him "ready to go" following the news that Shane Vereen will be placed on IR. 

    You drafted Ridley as a second-round pick, and he will produce like a fantasy No.1 back if healthy.

    More to the point, the Patriots will dominate this game. And when they're up three touchdowns in the third quarter, Ridley will be the one doing mop-up duty, running out the game for the Patriots and running all over the Jets. 

    Book him for a 100-yard outing and one, potentially two touchdowns. 

Kellen Winslow

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    Rookie quarterbacks often throw to their tight ends, and this was certainly on display during Winslow's seven catch, 79-yard performance against the Bucs. He threw in a touchdown to boot. 

    Geno Smith will need a reliable safety valve as the Jets get down and need to throw the ball a lot. The Patriots were also in the top five in being inept at defending tight ends last year.

    Winslow is a solid option for Week 2. 

Julian Edelman

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    The Patriots lost a lot this offseason in terms of receiving talent, but the one piece of continuity andmore importantlyreliability that remains in this offense is Julian Edelman.

    He knows the system much better than the likes of Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins for the moment, and as such he has garnered the role of the primary red-zone read in the wake of Rob Gronkowski's unavailability for Week 2. 

    He'll see the most targets on the team with the exception perhaps of Danny Amendola. A prominent target in Tom Brady's passing attack is always a viable fantasy option. 

Patriots D/ST

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    The Patriots' D should be one of the top-scoring defenses this week.

    Geno Smith gave up an interception and a fumble in Week 1, and the Bucs' defensive line was able to penetrate the Jet's offensive line for a whopping five sacks. 

    Sacks generate opportunity for fumbles, which in turn generates opportunity for returned touchdowns. The Patriots will have plenty of chances to exploit questionable decisions by Smith when he's down big.