At several positions, this is an odd week of fantasy football. At quarterback, several top options have brutal matchups. At running back, the elite herd thins out quickly. At wide receiver, several surprising options should emerge among the week's top performers.
It can be difficult to know when to trust a player's ability over a tough matchup—or when to ignore trends and take a chance on a player—but I'm here to help. I'll take a look at some of the biggest surprises set to crash the top-10 rankings at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.
Notes: Points against stats via ESPN. Point totals are for standard-scoring leagues. The St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys are on a bye.
|1||Robert Griffin III||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||28|
|2||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington||25|
|3||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||New England Patriots||24|
|4||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||22|
|5||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||San Francisco 49ers||21|
|6||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||20|
|7||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||Minnesota Vikings||18|
|8||Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||17|
|9||Case Keenum||Houston Texans||Oakland Raiders||17|
|10||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16|
Yes, there are some surprises in the top 10.
Foles has thrown for 10 touchdowns and registered 67 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues in the past two weeks. He's scored 22 or more fantasy points in three of his four starts and faces a Washington defense allowing 18.2 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, 26th in the NFL.
So yes, Foles earns his No. 2 ranking this week, especially since Stafford takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers (fourth in pass defense), Brees faces the San Francisco 49ers (eighth in pass defense), Manning gets the Kansas City Chiefs (sixth in pass defense) and Cam Newton faces the New England Patriots (12th in pass defense).
Dalton and Ryan have been inconsistent in recent weeks, but both have solid matchups. Besides, with Colin Kaepernick playing poorly, Tom Brady facing a brutal matchup against the Carolina Panthers, Aaron Rodgers hurt and Tony Romo on a bye, the pickings are pretty slim at the position.
That also opens up the door for Case Keenum, who has registered an impressive 60 fantasy points in his three starts and now faces an Oakland Raiders team giving up 18.1 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, 24th in the NFL.
Don't be afraid to get creative at quarterback this week.
|1||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington||22|
|2||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||Minnesota Vikings||21|
|3||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Denver Broncos||19|
|4||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Seattle Seahawks||18|
|5||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints||17|
|6||Reggie Bush||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||17|
|7||Alfred Morris||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||16|
|8||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||Baltimore Ravens||15|
|9||Giovani Bernard||Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||14|
|10||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||New York Giants||13|
To be honest, there aren't any major surprises on this list. All of the players included have been quite good this year.
No, the surprises come when you start looking at which players were left off. Stevan Ridley has posted four straight weeks with double-digit fantasy points, but he faces a Panthers team giving up just 11.9 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week, fifth in the NFL.
Knowshon Moreno is averaging 14.4 fantasy points per week, but he faces a Chiefs defense giving up just 12.3 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week, sixth in the NFL.
And then there is Chris Johnson facing an Indianapolis Colts defense that gives up just 13 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs, ninth in the NFL.
So no, there aren't many surprises in the top 10. But good luck getting much production from your RB2 this week.
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||23|
|2||DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington||20|
|3||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||Baltimore Ravens||19|
|4||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Cincinnati Bengals||18|
|5||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||16|
|6||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||15|
|7||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||Oakland Raiders||14|
|8||Pierre Garcon||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||14|
|9||Larry Fitzgerald||Arizona Cardinals||Jacksonville Jaguars||13|
|10||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||Detroit Lions||13|
Let's get into it.
I broke down in further detail here why I think A.J. Green has limited upside this week, and it's due to a tough matchup against Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden. You should still be starting Green, but don't expect a huge performance.
Garcon faces a Philadelphia Eagles defense that gives up 29.6 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per week, worst in the NFL, and he had seven receptions for 64 yards against it in the first meeting, so he's a great start.
Fitzgerald has been the picture of inconsistency thus far—though we can chalk that up to the play of Carson Palmer, not Fitz himself—but he faces a Jacksonville Jaguars team he should torch. Yes, Jacksonville has been better against the pass than the run, but the Jags don't have anyone capable of slowing down Fitzgerald.
Finally, Antonio Brown has scored double-digit fantasy points the past two weeks and has seven or more points in seven games this season. The Detroit Lions give up 27.4 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per game, 30th in the NFL, so Brown will get his.
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||San Francisco 49ers||17|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Carolina Panthers||17|
|3||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||Cincinnati Bengals||15|
|4||Vernon Davis*||San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints||14|
|5||Jordan Reed||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||13|
|6||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13|
|7||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||11|
|8||Antonio Gates||San Diego Chargers||Miami Dolphins||10|
|9||Timothy Wright||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||9|
|10||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||New England Patriots||9|
*If he plays
The pickings are so slim at tight end, there really aren't any surprises here.
Perhaps people will be wary of starting Julius Thomas against a Kansas City defense that has given up just 2.9 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week, best in the NFL, but are you really going to sit him for an inferior option like Rob Housler or John Carlson?
Me neither. For now, stick with your studs.
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, tweet random fantasy musings and wonder how the New Orleans Saints could earn almost as many first downs (40) on Sunday night as the Dallas Cowboys ran plays (43).