This is a make-or-break week for Trent Richardson owners as he faces the suspect Rams run defense.
Although we are in the middle of the NFL season, we are in the fantasy stretch run, so it is time for an annual admonishment: Dance with the ones who have brought you in fantasy football.
No, guys like Eli Manning, Trent Richardson, Chris Johnson and Hakeem Nicks haven't gotten you to this point, but they were among the players you thought you would be leaning on in fantasy crunch time coming out of draft day. They also happen to be among the players we list as "starts" in Bleacher Report's weekly Saturday Start 'Em, Sit 'Em.
This six-part slideshow gives you the guys to activate and to bench in addition to listing all of the rankings by position. Use this as a catch-all to answer your myriad of lineup questions. Enjoy.
Starting Eli Manning against the suspect Raiders secondary might point you to fantasy victory Sunday.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
With the emergence of Keenan Allen and the surprisingly healthy production from Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates, Rivers has returned to being a must-start fantasy quarterback. We list him here as an obvious start only because the Denver Broncos have been so forgiving against the pass and against fantasy quarterbacks—third-worst in both regards. Rivers should be good for 350 yards and three-plus touchdowns in what could wind up being another epic fantasy game for both offenses.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Say what you want about the disappointing Steelers, but Big Ben is one of the more underrated commodities in fantasy football. He showed that a week ago against the New England Patriots, throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns.
The Buffalo Bills are second-worst in fantasy against wide receivers, allowing a league-high 15 touchdowns, so Big Ben should be able to find Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and a resurgent Jerricho Cotchery early and often at home. The Steelers aren't playing great defense and they know they need to pick up the offensive pace to win ballgames. Expect another 300-plus-yard and three-plus-touchdown performance from Big Ben here.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Hate on Manning and the Giants this season all you want, but the Eagles piled on the Oakland Raiders last week in Nick Foles' seven-touchdown breakthrough. If you think the Eagles have weapons, the Giants have an arsenal with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle all healthy and rested coming off their bye. Manning had to have watched that game last week from his living room with visions of sugar plums dancing in his head. He has been a fantasy bust this season, but this week he is a boon.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
The Green Bay Packers haven't played as bad of defense of late, but with Chip Kelly pushing the pace, it should be another productive game for Foles. You picked him up as the No. 1 waivers option this week, so you might as well run him out there in lieu of Tom Brady (bye) or Matt Ryan (ineffectiveness/tough matchup).
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ignore the fact that Roddy White (ankle/hamstring) is expected to return—as ESPN's Vaughn McClure tweeted this week—Ryan has struggled with continuity in his injury-hit offense. It certainly doesn't help that he will have to face arguably the best defense in football this week in the Seattle Seahawks (No. 2 in the NFL in yards allowed per game and No. 1 against fantasy quarterbacks).
You are better off going with a younger quarterback in a better matchup, allowing Ryan to earn his way back into must-start fantasy status at this point.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Those hoping for sleeper points out of Palmer cannot like what he's done thus far this season. You absolutely cannot like him against the NFL's No. 1 defense (No. 1 against the pass and No. 3 against fantasy quarterbacks) in the Houston Texans either. There are almost 20 quarterbacks more equipped to help your fantasy team this week (see below).
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens' 29th-ranked rushing offense has often put the game on Flacco's shoulders, but expecting him to come through against the Cincinnati Bengals is a tall order. The Bengals are in the top 10 against fantasy quarterbacks, and Flacco has gotten no help from his offensive line or the running game to take the pressure off. He should only be owned in two-quarterback leagues at this point, especially with the byes winding down.
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||at SD||1||0|
|2||Drew Brees||NO||vs. Dal||2||0|
|3||Philip Rivers||SD||vs. Den||4||+1|
|4||Matthew Stafford||Det||at Chi||3||-1|
|5||Russell Wilson||Sea||at Atl||5||0|
|6||Robert Griffin||Was||at Min||8||+2|
|7||Andrew Luck||Ind||vs. StL||7||0|
|8||Cam Newton||Car||at SF||9||+1|
|9||Tony Romo||Dal||at NO||6||-3|
|10||Colin Kaepernick||SF||vs. Car||11||+1|
|11||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||vs. Buf||14||+3|
|12||Eli Manning||NYG||vs. Oak||12||0|
|13||Nick Foles||Phi||at GB||10||-3|
|14||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||at NYG||17||+3|
|15||Andy Dalton||Cin||at Bal||16||+1|
|16||Jake Locker||Ten||vs. Jac||13||-3|
|17||Jay Cutler||Chi||vs. Det||15||-2|
|18||Matt Ryan||Atl||vs. Sea||18||0|
|19||Joe Flacco||Bal||vs. Cin||22||+3|
|20||Carson Palmer||Ari||vs. Hou||26||+6|
|21||Case Keenum||Hou||at Ari||19||-2|
|22||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. Mia||25||+3|
|23||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||at TB||20||-3|
|24||Seneca Wallace||GB||vs. Phi||24||0|
|25||Kellen Clemens||StL||at Ind||29||+4|
|26||Christian Ponder||Min||vs. Was||21||-5|
|27||EJ Manuel||Buf||at Pit||27||0|
|28||Chad Henne||Jac||at Ten||28||0|
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
This one should be obvious after his 150 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9. But since he got off to another slow start amid a tough early season schedule, we feel obligated to mention him here. Johnson has favorable matchups down the stretch, and none is more favorable than the Jacksonville Jaguars here. They are last in fantasy against running backs and last in the NFL against the run, allowing over 161 rushing yards per game.
Don't worry about Shonn Greene getting more carries and vulturing the touchdowns. In fact, start him too.
Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs finally decided to shut Doug Martin (shoulder) down for the season, so the running onus falls on James' shoulders the rest of the way. The rookie out of Miami looked capable of carrying a fantasy team's second running back spot last week, rushing for a career-high 158 yards. This week, he draws the Miami Dolphins, who have been the second-worst team in fantasy against running backs to date. James goes for at least 80 and a touchdown this week.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
Chappell likened T-Rich's slow start to that of the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch and, like the aforementioned Johnson, Richardson's schedule softens in the second half. He gets the St. Louis Rams this week; they have been the third-worst team in fantasy against running backs and the fifth-worst in the NFL against the run.
Start Richardson, and consider timeshare back Donald Brown a viable sleeper as a flex play in standard leagues.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Concerns here should be subsiding after Spiller broke some huge plays last week and topped 100 yards rushing for just the second time this season. That came against the Chiefs' undefeated defense too.
Spiller is a much more favorable play against the Steelers, who have been disappointing against the run and have allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy backs to date. They are also the only team in football that has allowed 12 touchdowns to running backs through just eight games. Spiller and Fred Jackson are viable plays in tandem this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD is coming off his bye week and his best week of the season, yardage-wise, against a stout San Francisco 49ers defense from Week 8 in London. The Jags have lost Justin Blackmon (suspension) for the season, and the offense clearly will have to rely heavily on the running game. MJD is one of the heaviest-use feature backs in football too, with just converted college quarterback Denard Robinson as the primary backup.
The Titans are in the bottom 10 against the run and against running backs, so you should feel as confident in MJD this week as in any week all season.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
The more highlight-reel runs Giovani Bernard puts up in his rookie season, the more you have to dislike BGE in fantasy down the stretch. The starter and goal-line back still gets touches, but a matchup against the Baltimore Ravens—eighth-best against the run and No. 1 in fantasy against running backs—is a bad week to trust this plodder. The Ravens have allowed a league-low one touchdown to running backs.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Not only has Danny Woodhead usurped Mathews' job on passing downs, he also tends to be in the game inside the five. Mathews looks like a bad play against the Broncos run defense, which is No. 3 in the NFL, allowing just 81.5 yards per game. Mathews needs rushing yards because he doesn't score his fantasy points on touchdowns or as a pass receiver. Start Woodhead but not Mathews, especially in PPR.
Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs, Andre Brown and Michael Cox, New York Giants
You have to hate all of the Giants' options this week, if only because they will each cancel each other out from being viable in fantasy. The Raiders have been susceptible to the pass, but they are sixth-best against the run, allowing under 95 yards per game on the ground. Expect Brown (leg) to return, but in a limited role, while Hillis and Jacobs (hamstring) share the other opportunities in a three-way split.
Brown will be the man down the stretch for the Giants with David Wilson (neck) officially out for the season, but offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride told the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano: "When he's healthy, he can help us."
He doesn't sound like Brown is returning full-go just yet. Gilbride continued to the Daily News:
A healthy Andre Brown that's playing well will be a significant contribution to our offense. It looks like he's physically running pretty well. The things that happened very naturally, right now are not happening very naturally, or as natural as usual, I should say—his reads, his awareness of what's going on. But you can see he's a good football player.
DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
Ignore the fact that Tolbert is rolling his chubby body into the end zone on a regular basis—or the fact the 49ers are uncharacteristically 11th-worst against fantasy running backs. All of the Panthers backs are bad plays in San Francisco this week.
You might have gotten away with starting one of them if the other two weren't healthy, but this is a full three-way timeshare, and the only back who would be fantasy trustworthy because of the goal-line carries is no guarantee to get one this week. Avoid them all.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Was||1||0|
|2||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. Det||3||+1|
|3||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. Jac||7||+4|
|4||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at GB||5||+1|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at Atl||2||-3|
|6||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Phi||6||0|
|7||Alfred Morris||Was||at Min||9||+2|
|8||Trent Richardson||Ind||vs. StL||22||+14|
|9||Reggie Bush||Det||at Chi||4||-5|
|10||Knowshon Moreno||Den||at SD||8||-2|
|11||DeMarco Murray||Dal||at NO||11||0|
|12||Ray Rice||Bal||vs. Cin||20||+8|
|13||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at Pit||15||+2|
|14||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Car||12||-2|
|15||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Buf||13||-2|
|16||Zac Stacy||StL||at Ind||10||-6|
|17||Mike James||TB||vs. Mia||14||-3|
|18||Ben Tate||Hou||at Ari||27||+9|
|19||Andre Ellington||Ari||vs. Hou||23||+4|
|20||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at Ten||18||-2|
|21||Steven Jackson||Atl||vs. Sea||24||+3|
|22||Lamar Miller||Mia||at TB||19||-3|
|23||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Bal||21||-2|
|24||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Dal||29||+5|
|25||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at NYG||26||+1|
|26||Shonn Greene||Ten||vs. Jac||31||+5|
|27||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. Den||17||-10|
|28||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. Den||28||0|
|29||James Starks||GB||vs. Phi||40||+11|
|30||Fred Jackson||Buf||at Pit||16||-14|
|31||Donald Brown||Ind||vs. StL||32||+1|
|32||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at SF||33||+1|
|33||Joique Bell||Det||at Chi||34||+1|
|34||Montee Ball||Den||at SD||43||+9|
|35||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. Hou||35||0|
|36||Mike Tolbert||Car||at SF||39||+3|
|37||Andre Brown||NYG||vs. Oak||30||-7|
|38||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Dal||25||-13|
|39||Jonathan Stewart||Car||at SF||41||+2|
|40||Peyton Hillis||NYG||vs. Oak||38||-2|
|41||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Bal||37||-4|
|42||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. Sea||42||0|
|43||Roy Helu||Was||at Min||46||+3|
|44||Bryce Brown||Phi||at GB||51||+7|
|45||Bernard Pierce||Bal||vs. Cin||53||+8|
|46||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Car||54||+8|
|47||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Atl||57||+10|
|48||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. Mia||48||0|
|49||Felix Jones||Pit||vs. Buf||69||+20|
|50||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. Det||64||+14|
|51||Daniel Thomas||Mia||at TB||44||-7|
|52||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Dal||56||+4|
|53||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. Sea||50||-3|
|54||C.J. Anderson||Den||at SD||75||+21|
|55||Toby Gerhart||Min||vs. Was||67||+12|
|56||Joseph Randle||Dal||at NO||61||+5|
|57||Ronnie Brown||SD||vs. Den||78||+21|
|58||Ronnie Hillman||Den||at SD||65||+7|
|59||Johnathan Franklin||GB||vs. Phi||84||+25|
|60||Benny Cunningham||StL||at Ind||76||+16|
|61||Daryl Richardson||StL||at Ind||68||+7|
|62||Darrel Young||Was||at Min||66||+4|
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown's fantasy owners have had to suffer through the indignity of Emmanuel Sanders and long-lost veteran Jerricho Cotchery having big fantasy performances lately. They should feel confident keeping Ben Roethlisberger's true No. 1 target active in all leagues, though, especially against a Bills team that has allowed the second-most points to fantasy wide receivers to date. The fact the Bills have given up a league-worst 15 touchdown receptions to wideouts can lead you to start Sanders too, if not Cotchery.
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
There have been reasons to doubt these this season, especially Nicks, and there's the red-zone emergence of Rueben Randle, but you can be sure Eli Manning was watching the Raiders get shredded by Nick Foles and Co. during the Giants' Week 9 bye. Manning, despite some offensive line woes and the lack of a running game, still has juice, and he will make his primary receivers productive in favorable matchups such as this one. Heck, start Randle too. The Eagles' third receiver, Riley Cooper, had a field day.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
He has emerged as a must-start option in all leagues, particularly since Vincent Brown cannot get going in his return from an ankle injury. The rookie Allen is Philip Rivers' No. 1 receiver now, complementing Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates, but even slot man Eddie Royal and the aforementioned Brown might be solid sleepers against the Broncos secondary.
Denver has allowed the sixth-most points in fantasy to wideouts and is fifth-worst in the NFL against the pass, allowing a shade under 300 yards per game. This could become an epic shootout.
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
The injury that knocked Marques Colston (knee) out for Week 9 is what leads us to Moore here. He should be a frequent target in a game against Dallas that should get loose. The Cowboys play a defense that allows a lot underneath, and that's where Moore almost exclusively works. Drew Brees should be plenty capable of picking apart a secondary that has allowed the second-most passing yards in football this season. Start Moore and consider Colston (questionable) if he's active and Stills if not.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
The loss of Justin Blackmon (suspension) for the season seemingly makes Shorts a fantasy star, but you have to temper expectations while he deals with a groin issue that has kept him out of some practices the past few weeks. Also, the Titans are surprisingly in the top 10 against the pass and No. 1 in fantasy against wide receivers. Shorts is a marginal flex option despite the potential to post some big games down the stretch.
Harry Douglas and Dew Davis, Atlanta Falcons
They have enjoyed some moments as they became Matt Ryan's best options downfield amid the absences of Julio Jones (foot) and Roddy White (ankle/hamstring). White is returning to action this week, though, which pushes Douglas and Davis into secondary roles. Also, you don't mess with the Seahawks secondary if you can avoid it. Seattle is No. 2 against the pass and No. 2 in fantasy against wide receivers.
Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
You won't be sitting Larry Fitzgerald outside of real shallow leagues, but you should ignore Floyd and Roberts against the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL. The Texans have had their issues this season, even on defense, but it hasn't been against the pass. They are allowing a league-low 158 yards passing per game and that's over 20 yards per game better than Seattle even. Floyd and Roberts are bad fringe options.
Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
Sure, the Steelers were ripped by the Pats last week, but the Bills' secondary targets figure to take a backseat to Stevie Johnson with the return of EJ Manuel (knee). Johnson had his best weeks when Manuel was at the helm early in the year, so expect Woods, Goodwin and T.J. Graham to drop off the fantasy radar, especially against a Steelers defense that is stinging and yet No. 4 against the pass and in the top 10 against wideouts.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||at Chi||1||0|
|2||Brandon Marshall||Chi||vs. Det||2||0|
|3||Dez Bryant||Dal||at NO||3||0|
|4||A.J. Green||Cin||at Bal||4||0|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Den||at SD||5||0|
|6||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at GB||7||+1|
|7||Wes Welker||Den||at SD||6||-1|
|8||Victor Cruz||NYG||vs. Oak||8||0|
|9||Andre Johnson||Hou||at Ari||12||+3|
|10||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||vs. Hou||17||+7|
|11||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Min||11||0|
|12||Eric Decker||Den||at SD||15||+3|
|13||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||vs. StL||13||0|
|14||Jordy Nelson||GB||vs. Phi||16||+2|
|15||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||vs. Det||18||+3|
|16||Antonio Brown||Pit||vs. Buf||10||-6|
|17||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. Mia||14||-3|
|18||Keenan Allen||SD||vs. Den||9||-9|
|19||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. Oak||21||+2|
|20||Torrey Smith||Bal||vs. Cin||20||0|
|21||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. Jac||25||+4|
|22||Roddy White||Atl||vs. Sea||37||+15|
|23||Denarius Moore||Oak||at NYG||26||+3|
|24||Steve Johnson||Buf||at Pit||32||+8|
|25||Anquan Boldin||SF||vs. Car||28||+3|
|26||Mike Wallace||Mia||at TB||24||-2|
|27||Riley Cooper||Phi||at GB||31||+4|
|28||Steve Smith||Car||at SF||27||-1|
|29||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||vs. Buf||30||+1|
|30||Lance Moore||NO||vs. Dal||40||+10|
|31||James Jones||GB||vs. Phi||34||+3|
|32||Golden Tate||Sea||at Atl||22||-10|
|33||Cecil Shorts||Jac||at Ten||19||-14|
|34||Eddie Royal||SD||vs. Den||49||+15|
|35||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Bal||36||+1|
|36||Marques Colston||NO||vs. Dal||42||+6|
|37||Terrance Williams||Dal||at NO||23||-14|
|38||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. Jac||43||+5|
|39||Brian Hartline||Mia||at TB||35||-4|
|40||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Was||38||-2|
|41||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at Ari||44||+3|
|42||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||vs. StL||52||+10|
|43||Brandon LaFell||Car||at SF||51||+8|
|44||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. Oak||41||-3|
|45||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. Sea||29||-16|
|46||Mario Manningham||SF||vs. Car||69||+23|
|47||Marlon Brown||Bal||vs. Cin||47||0|
|48||Jarrett Boykin||GB||vs. Phi||48||0|
|49||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at Atl||39||-10|
|50||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. Dal||45||-5|
|51||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Bal||71||+20|
|52||Michael Floyd||Ari||vs. Hou||33||-19|
|53||Chris Givens||StL||at Ind||58||+5|
|54||Mike Brown||Jac||at Ten||50||-4|
|55||Tavon Austin||StL||at Ind||74||+19|
|56||Vincent Brown||SD||vs. Den||53||-3|
|57||Kris Durham||Det||at Chi||46||-11|
|58||Jason Avant||Phi||at GB||73||+15|
|59||Ace Sanders||Jac||at Ten||78||+19|
|60||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. Jac||88||+28|
|61||Andre Roberts||Ari||vs. Hou||87||+26|
|62||Lavon Brazill||Ind||vs. StL||80||+18|
|63||Leonard Hankerson||Was||at Min||56||-7|
|64||Rod Streater||Oak||at NYG||54||-10|
|65||Cole Beasley||Dal||at NO||70||+5|
|66||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Was||57||-9|
|67||Santana Moss||Was||at Min||76||+9|
|68||Austin Pettis||StL||at Ind||62||-6|
|69||Jacoby Jones||Bal||vs. Cin||72||+3|
|70||Robert Meachem||NO||vs. Dal||61||-9|
|71||Tiquan Underwood||TB||vs. Mia||67||-4|
|72||Ted Ginn||Car||at SF||66||-6|
|73||Marquise Goodwin||Buf||at Pit||65||-8|
|74||Tandon Doss||Bal||vs. Cin||82||+8|
|75||Brian Quick||StL||at Ind||97||+22|
|76||Damian Williams||Ten||vs. Jac||96||+20|
|77||Aldrick Robinson||Was||at Min||83||+6|
|78||Jermaine Kearse||Sea||at Atl||60||-18|
|79||Kyle Williams||SF||vs. Car||108||+29|
|80||Cordarrelle Patterson||Min||vs. Was||59||-21|
|81||Jacoby Ford||Oak||at NYG||103||+22|
|82||T.J. Graham||Buf||at Pit||75||-7|
|83||Earl Bennett||Chi||vs. Det||93||+10|
|84||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. Jac||95||+11|
|85||Markus Wheaton||Pit||vs. Buf||91||+6|
The Bucs' Tim Wright has already schooled the Cardinals and now he gets the second-worst team vs. tight ends.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
He started the year off hot as a secondary option to Owen Daniels (leg), but Graham hasn't posted fantasy-worthy numbers since Week 4 despite Daniels being placed on Designated for Return IR. Case Keenum proved capable last week, and Graham gets the best matchup in fantasy for a tight end.
The Arizona Cardinals have allowed a league-high 708 yards to tight ends and are dead last in fantasy against the position to date. Graham is a solid sleeper if you have Rob Gronkowski or Jordan Cameron on bye.
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The undrafted free agent moved to tight end as a pro, and he has emerged as a favorite target of fellow rookie Mike Glennon. Wright has been the most-added tight end in fantasy by a wide margin, and his consistent numbers make him a solid start against a Dolphins team that has allowed the third-most points to the position in fantasy.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears; Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts; and Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
They are each drawing fairly tough matchups as far as fantasy tight ends go, but they all remain on the right side of the fringe plays at the position. You should feel confident starting any of this trio—regardless of their matchups down the stretch—particularly since they are important pieces in their respective offenses.
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
The loss of Jermichael Finley (neck) for the season was supposed to make Quarless a sleeper, but that was a function of Aaron Rodgers' (shoulder) potential and a banged-up Packers wide receivers group. Quarless wasn't fantasy viable in Week 9 and facing the Eagles—No. 2 in fantasy against tight ends and haven't allowed a tight end a touchdown all season—makes him someone to cut, not start, this week.
Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens look like a favorable matchup for a fantasy tight end, having allowed the 10th-most points to the position, but most of that damage was done early in the season, as Julius Thomas went off for two touchdowns in the season opener. The Ravens have done a much better job on the position since, and only the Texans (22) and Colts (28) have allowed fewer receptions to tight ends this season (29).
Gresham and Eifert are fantasy sleepers in good matchups, but this isn't one of them, particularly in Baltimore, with the defending world champion Ravens desperate for a signature victory in the division.
Brandon Myers, New York Giants
Are you left wondering how Carson Palmer made Myers a fantasy star and Eli Manning can't help Myers get out of his own way? Just watch a Giants game, particularly in the obvious passing situations they have tended to be in all year. Myers hasn't posted more than three receptions since Week 2, and it is a function of the Giants realizing just how bad their offense line is. He has been used in pass protection more often than not on those obvious passing downs.
Myers is not fantasy viable in any league until the Giants prove they can protect Manning without using the six-plus blockers.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||vs. Dal||1||0|
|2||Jason Witten||Dal||at NO||6||+4|
|3||Vernon Davis||SF||vs. Car||2||-1|
|4||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||vs. Sea||7||+3|
|5||Antonio Gates||SD||vs. Den||3||-2|
|6||Julius Thomas||Den||at SD||4||-2|
|7||Greg Olsen||Car||at SF||9||+2|
|8||Jordan Reed||Was||at Min||5||-3|
|9||Martellus Bennett||Chi||vs. Det||8||-1|
|10||Coby Fleener||Ind||vs. StL||13||+3|
|11||Tim Wright||TB||vs. Mia||10||-1|
|12||Heath Miller||Pit||vs. Buf||11||-1|
|13||Garrett Graham||Hou||at Ari||12||-1|
|14||Jared Cook||StL||at Ind||17||+3|
|15||Charles Clay||Mia||at TB||14||-1|
|16||Rob Housler||Ari||vs. Hou||29||+13|
|17||Scott Chandler||Buf||at Pit||19||+2|
|18||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||at Bal||22||+4|
|19||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Bal||18||-1|
|20||Brandon Myers||NYG||vs. Oak||20||0|
|21||Brent Celek||Phi||at GB||27||+6|
|22||Zach Ertz||Phi||at GB||23||+1|
|23||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||at Chi||21||-2|
|24||Joseph Fauria||Det||at Chi||26||+2|
|25||Zach Miller||Sea||at Atl||15||-10|
|26||Dallas Clark||Bal||vs. Cin||28||+2|
|27||Andrew Quarless||GB||vs. Phi||25||-2|
|28||Delanie Walker||Ten||vs. Jac||16||-12|
|29||Lance Kendricks||StL||at Ind||33||+4|
|30||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||at Ten||30||0|
You might struggle to name a Titans defender, but you should know they are No. 1 in fantasy vs. wide receivers.
Not only are the Titans among the leaders in fantasy scoring for defenses in standard-scoring leagues (seventh), but they get the lowly Jaguars without their best player (Justin Blackmon suspended). The Jags matchup is the third-most favorable in fantasy too. The Titans are the No. 1 unit on our board this week.
Granted, most of this comes from Matt Schaub's awful pick-six streak, but the Texans are second-worst in fantasy against defenses. A raw Case Keenum comes to town to pick on now too.
There are some very good playmakers on this Cardinals defense, and they are behind just the Seahawks and Broncos (13 apiece) in interceptions. Consider this one of the best weeks to use the Cardinals, especially with Arian Foster (back) out, according to the official NFL Injury Report.
The Bucs haven't been an overly favorable matchup for opposing defenses, but the Dolphins are hot coming off that victory on an overtime safety against the Bengals. If they can win that one in prime time, handling the Bucs and a rookie quarterback on Monday Night Football shouldn't prove as difficult. Consider this a great streaming play.
This has been the worst defense in fantasy this season in standard scoring, but the Bills are a matchup to take advantage of if you have your defense on bye (Kansas City, New England, N.Y. Jets or Cleveland) or in a tough matchup (see below). The Bills have struggled with continuity on offense and are sixth-worst in fantasy against defense/special teams. The Steelers are a viable Hail Mary play here at home.
New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
We don't like either surprising unit in this matchup in the Superdome. Sure, Rob Ryan knows the Cowboys well, but both quarterbacks can light up even the best defenses in football when they are going well and when they have to. They figure to have to in a shootout here. Both the Cowboys (No. 1) and the Saints (No. 8) are in the top 10 against opposing defenses.
St. Louis Rams
They have a good pass rush, but the Colts have been the second-best team in fantasy against opposing defenses to date. They have turned the ball over just six times thus far this season and Andrew Luck can light up anyone at home. You can like the Rams defense as a sleeper down the stretch, but don't use this unit here.
San Diego Chargers
Obviously, you cannot mess with Peyton Manning, but the Chargers have been unable to recreate their defensive-touchdown magic from a year ago. The Chargers are just 29th in standard scoring after finishing fourth last season with a fantasy-best nine combined defense/special teams touchdowns. The Chargers are not worth owning in any leagues right now, much less starting.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Tennessee Titans||Ten||vs. Jac||1||0|
|2||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||vs. Hou||3||+1|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at Atl||2||-1|
|4||San Francisco 49ers||SF||vs. Car||4||0|
|5||Carolina Panthers||Car||at SF||7||+2|
|6||Miami Dolphins||Mia||at TB||8||+2|
|7||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||at Bal||6||-1|
|8||Denver Broncos||Den||at SD||9||+1|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers||Pit||vs. Buf||15||+6|
|10||Washington Redskins||Was||at Min||17||+7|
|11||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||vs. Cin||16||+5|
|12||Houston Texans||Hou||at Ari||12||0|
|13||Chicago Bears||Chi||vs. Det||22||+9|
|14||New Orleans Saints||NO||vs. Dal||13||-1|
|15||New York Giants||NYG||vs. Oak||18||+3|
|16||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||vs. StL||5||-11|
|17||Green Bay Packers||GB||vs. Phi||20||+3|
|18||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||vs. Mia||10||-8|
|19||Detroit Lions||Det||at Chi||19||0|
|20||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||at NO||21||+1|
Graham Gano is coming off a productive week, but the 49ers are the best team in fantasy against kickers.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
The analysis from my Friday Top Plays at Bleacher Report bears repeating here:
The Falcons have been the most forgiving team in fantasy against kickers, and No. 5 on the scoring list, Hauschka, comes to town. Hauschka wasn't highly regarded coming into the year, but he is a must-start fantasy option in all weeks now. The matchup here just makes him a home run play.
Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
Not only do the Bears get Jay Cutler (groin) back, but the Lions have allowed the most field-goal attempts (22) and the most makes (21) in football. Gould should have a busy day and hit double digits in fantasy.
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
Sturgis is a rookie, but he has displayed one of the best legs in football already in his young career. The Bucs are also in the bottom 10 of fantasy against kickers, and the Dolphins have been through their bye. Sturgis is a set-him-and-forget-him kicker option down the stretch now.
Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers
More analysis thievery from my Friday Top Plays:
The Panthers' Graham Gano is coming off a double-digit week, but the matchup in Week 10 doesn't make him a fantasy option. The 49ers have been the toughest team in fantasy against kickers, allowing a league-low 10 field-goal attempts (and just eight makes).
Josh Brown, New York Giants
The Giants scored the second-most kicking points in football last season, but Brown has struggled at times along with the Giants offense. Brown faces a Raiders team that has allowed the fewest made field goals in football to date (tied with San Francisco ). Ignore Brown this week.
Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans
We understand the desire to stack Titans against the lowly Jags, but don't apply this strategy to the kicker. The Jags have allowed just 12 field-goal attempt this season. Only the aforementioned Bay Area teams, San Francisco and Oakland (11), have allowed fewer.
|1||Matt Prater||Den||at SD||1||0|
|2||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at Atl||5||+3|
|3||Dan Bailey||Dal||at NO||7||+4|
|4||Alex Henery||Phi||at GB||9||+5|
|5||Phil Dawson||SF||vs. Car||13||+8|
|6||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||vs. StL||2||-4|
|7||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. Phi||4||-3|
|8||Robbie Gould||Chi||vs. Det||11||+3|
|9||Garrett Hartley||NO||vs. Dal||3||-6|
|10||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||at TB||23||+13|
|11||Matt Bryant||Atl||vs. Sea||14||+3|
|12||Justin Tucker||Bal||vs. Cin||8||-4|
|13||Nick Novak||SD||vs. Den||6||-7|
|14||Mike Nugent||Cin||at Bal||16||+2|
|15||Greg Zuerlein||StL||at Ind||26||+11|
|16||Blair Walsh||Min||vs. Was||18||+2|
|17||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||at NYG||21||+4|
|18||Shaun Suisham||Pit||vs. Buf||17||-1|
|19||Graham Gano||Car||at SF||20||+1|
|20||Kai Forbath||Was||at Min||15||-5|
|21||Rob Bironas||Ten||vs. Jac||12||-9|
|22||Randy Bullock||Hou||at Ari||27||+5|
|23||Josh Brown||NYG||vs. Oak||19||-4|