Carson Palmer has mostly been underwhelming this season, but this sets up to be his best week yet.
Fantasy football tends to be about its big-time stars over the long haul. But on a weekly basis, it can be about the little-used players, or even some nobodies.
It can be impossible to predict at times, unless you merely stack your options playing in favorable matchups. That is the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Few Cardinals are truly elite fantasy options, but a lot of the Cardinals pepper this week's Start 'Em, Sit 'Em. We break down all of the players to activate and bench in this six-part, position-by-position slideshow.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
This one has become obvious based on Foles' numbers the past two games, but this is arguably the best matchup of the season for him. The Washington Redskins have allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy quarterbacks, and only the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings have allowed more touchdown passes to date.
Not only does Foles rank as a starter in all leagues, but he has joined the elite eight among fantasy quarterbacks. He has 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions, and numbers never lie.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
This stands to be the best week for a quarterback many thought would be a fantasy gem working with Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals have a full healthy set of weapons for Palmer, and the Jaguars matchup is a great time for Palmer to break through.
The Jags have allowed the third-most points to fantasy quarterbacks to date, and they are even coming off their first victory of the season. Playing at home, they should show just enough juice to pique Palmer's numbers late into the game. We should see 350 yards and three touchdowns from this fantasy pariah this week.
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
Keenum has mostly avoided the big mistakes that have plagued the Texans' previous quarterbacks, and he has done what others have failed to do: get the ball to Andre Johnson early and often. Keenum draws a matchup against the Raiders defense—at home, no less—that turned Foles into a 2013 fantasy superstar. Keenum should be good for 250 yards and two-plus touchdowns again.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
We tried to hold on to this 2013 playoff star, but it is a real tough sell coming off that performance against the Carolina Panthers. Now, he heads to the Superdome in New Orleans, where Tony Romo struggled mightily. Rob Ryan's defense is the third-best against the pass and in fantasy against quarterbacks. Only the Titans and Panthers have allowed fewer touchdown passes.
Kaepernick still doesn't have Michael Crabtree (Achilles) at his disposal, and Anquan Boldin or Mario Manningham shouldn't impress anyone. Kaepernick belongs on the pine until the read-option opens something up for him again.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
He has cooled off in recent weeks, throwing three interceptions in each of his past two games. He is no longer one of those must-start fantasy quarterbacks, especially against the Browns.
Dalton was held to a season-low 206 yards and no touchdowns in their Week 4 meeting, and the Browns are 10th-best against the pass and 11th-best against fantasy quarterbacks. You have better options available to you in standard leagues than Dalton.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
You have to be beyond sick of this quarterback in fantasy leagues, especially after he failed to produce more than a mere touchdown pass against a Raiders defense that gave up seven the previous week to a young, unproven Foles.
Manning has just one 300-yard game since Week 2 and has thrown for less than a touchdown a game in that stretch. Heck, he has only cracked 250 yards once. He is a mediocre to bad play, even in two-quarterback leagues right now. Cut him in standard formats.
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||vs. KC||1||0|
|2||Drew Brees||NO||vs. SF||2||0|
|3||Russell Wilson||Sea||vs. Min||3||0|
|4||Robert Griffin||Was||at Phi||5||+1|
|5||Cam Newton||Car||vs. NE||7||+2|
|6||Matthew Stafford||Det||at Pit||6||0|
|7||Tom Brady||NE||at Car||10||+3|
|8||Nick Foles||Phi||vs. Was||4||-4|
|9||Philip Rivers||SD||at Mia||8||-1|
|10||Andrew Luck||Ind||at Ten||11||+1|
|11||Carson Palmer||Ari||at Jac||20||+9|
|12||Case Keenum||Hou||vs. Oak||9||-3|
|13||Colin Kaepernick||SF||at NO||16||+3|
|14||Alex Smith||KC||at Den||18||+4|
|15||Andy Dalton||Cin||vs. Cle||14||-1|
|16||Matt Ryan||Atl||at TB||12||-4|
|17||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||vs. Det||13||-4|
|18||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Chi||23||+5|
|19||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. Atl||17||-2|
|20||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Buf||27||+7|
|21||Eli Manning||NYG||vs. GB||19||-2|
|22||Scott Tolzien||GB||at NYG||26||+4|
|23||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Ten||vs. Ind||22||-1|
|24||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. SD||21||-3|
|25||Josh McCown||Chi||vs. Bal||15||-10|
|26||EJ Manuel||Buf||vs. NYJ||28||+2|
|27||Jason Campbell||Cle||at Cin||24||-3|
|28||Chad Henne||Jac||vs. Ari||29||+1|
|29||Christian Ponder||Min||at Sea||30||+1|
|30||Matt McGloin||Oak||at Hou||31||+1|
|31||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||at Hou||25||-6|
Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
You might be frustrated with the use of either of these players because of the presence of the other, but both are good plays against a Jaguars defense that has given up the fourth-most points to running backs in fantasy and is dead last against the run. The two will be good for 60 combined yards and a touchdown here. If you have to pick one, Ellington is the slightly more intriguing option because of his big-play ability.
Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Mathews has put some solid efforts together in the past few weeks, and Woodhead remains a heavily targeted receiver in the Broncos' short passing game. Both are solid plays against a Dolphins defense coming off a bad performance Monday night against the Bucs and playing on a short week, even if the Chargers have to fly across country. The Dolphins are in the bottom half of the league against the run and have given up the second-most points to fantasy running backs to date.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
How can we suggest not one but two backs from the league's 30th-ranked running game? Because something has to give when the Ravens play the Chicago Bears' beleaguered defensive front. It should be the Bears front line giving too.
The Bears are only better than Jacksonville against the run, so expect the Ravens backs to finally get some running room here behind that maligned offensive line. Coach Jon Harbaugh has said he is going to go with the hot hand, so expect Rice to up his game to keep his feature status. Both backs should be good for 60 combined yards and a touchdown apiece.
Brian Leonard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The loss of Doug Martin (shoulder) and Mike James (ankle) for the season thrusts Leonard into the starting role for the Bucs, who should be a run-friendly team down the stretch. Bobby Rainey is in the mix too, but he's more of a change-of-pace back to the pounder Leonard. Expect the former fullback to get 20 touches, 60-plus combined yards and a touchdown against a Falcons defense that is sixth-worst against the run and in the bottom half against fantasy running backs.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
So much for a limited return for the new Giants workhorse. Brown gives the Giants offense a trustworthy feature back who can handle the ball over 20 times a game and do his own short-yardage work. The Packers are more middle of the pack as a matchup for fantasy backs, but the Giants will stick with Brown throughout what should be a physical game. Expect at least one touchdown, regardless of whether he doesn't get his yardage over 60.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
He is long past being the sure-fire fantasy starter, but he also draws the third-best run defense in football in a Cardinals team that has given up the fewest points to fantasy backs this season. The Jags are coming off their first victory, but the Cardinals are not going to get tripped up here in their bid to get into the NFL wild-card race. Expect a long day for MJD, and keep him out of fantasy lineups if at all possible.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Despite Jackson's usage, you should keep C.J. Spiller active and sit the older, slower veteran against a Jets defense that is No. 1 against the run and No. 3 against fantasy running backs. The Bills are learning they need to get the ball to Spiller in space more, so not only will Jackson be bottled up by the matchup, but also by the move back to the now-healthier Spiller. This is a 10-carry, 35-yard performance coming for Jackson.
Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
You likely cannot afford to sit Stevan Ridley, but the matchup and potential return of Vereen (wrist) complicates the already-crowded Pats running back committee. Ridley is the only decent play until Vereen's usage is revealed, especially since the Panthers are No. 2 against the run and sixth-best against fantasy running backs. Running backs have attempted a league-low 18.6 carries against the Panthers defense, and that isn't a big number to potentially split four ways.
Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons and fantasy owners have learned, yet again, that 30-year-old running backs are bad news. Jackson has been banged up and ineffective, and he draws a Bucs defense that didn't give the Dolphins a sniff on the ground Monday night.
The Bucs are stout against run, fifth-best, and have allowed a league-low one rushing touchdown to running backs all season, tied with the Ravens and Chiefs. Don't touch any of the Falcons backs this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
Everyone knew it would be just a matter of time before the plodding BGE gave up more and more touches to rookie Giovani Bernard, and now it's clear Bernard is the Bengals' more potent option on any down and in any situation. BGE is facing the Browns' sixth-best run defense, and with byes not a real issue any longer, he shouldn't be needed in fantasy lineups.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||at Sea||4||+3|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Den||1||-1|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||vs. Was||2||-1|
|4||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. Min||3||-1|
|5||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. Bal||7||+2|
|6||Frank Gore||SF||at NO||6||0|
|7||Reggie Bush||Det||at Pit||5||-2|
|8||Alfred Morris||Was||at Phi||9||+1|
|9||Eddie Lacy||GB||at NYG||10||+1|
|10||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. Ind||14||+4|
|11||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. KC||8||-3|
|12||Ray Rice||Bal||at Chi||19||+7|
|13||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Det||13||0|
|14||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. Oak||12||-2|
|15||Stevan Ridley||NE||at Car||20||+5|
|16||Chris Ivory||NYJ||at Buf||24||+8|
|17||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. NYJ||28||+11|
|18||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Mia||21||+3|
|19||Andre Brown||NYG||vs. GB||11||-8|
|20||Andre Ellington||Ari||at Jac||16||-4|
|21||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. SF||26||+5|
|22||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. Cle||15||-7|
|23||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Ten||33||+10|
|24||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Mia||17||-7|
|25||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at Jac||32||+7|
|26||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. Atl||30||+4|
|27||Donald Brown||Ind||at Ten||34||+7|
|28||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Chi||41||+13|
|29||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at Hou||18||-11|
|30||Steven Jackson||Atl||at TB||29||-1|
|31||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. Ari||27||-4|
|32||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. SD||25||-7|
|33||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. NE||35||+2|
|34||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. SF||23||-11|
|35||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. NYJ||22||-13|
|36||Jonathan Stewart||Car||vs. NE||38||+2|
|37||Bryce Brown||Phi||vs. Was||55||+18|
|38||Montee Ball||Den||vs. KC||52||+14|
|39||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. SD||48||+9|
|40||Kendall Hunter||SF||at NO||57||+17|
|41||Shane Vereen||NE||at Car||31||-10|
|42||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. Cle||37||-5|
|43||Joique Bell||Det||at Pit||39||-4|
|44||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||at Cin||46||+2|
|45||Dennis Johnson||Hou||vs. Oak||51||+6|
|46||Shonn Greene||Ten||vs. Ind||43||-3|
|47||Mike Tolbert||Car||vs. NE||44||-3|
|48||James Starks||GB||at NYG||50||+2|
|49||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Buf||40||-9|
|50||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. Min||62||+12|
|51||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. SF||45||-6|
|52||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at TB||42||-10|
|53||Willis McGahee||Cle||at Cin||47||-6|
|54||Bobby Rainey||TB||vs. Atl||36||-18|
|55||Peyton Hillis||NYG||vs. GB||54||-1|
|56||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Car||65||+9|
|57||Felix Jones||Pit||vs. Det||69||+12|
|58||Roy Helu||Was||at Phi||49||-9|
|59||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. Bal||61||+2|
|60||Fozzy Whittaker||Cle||at Cin||59||-1|
|61||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||vs. GB||73||+12|
|62||Anthony Dixon||SF||at NO||82||+20|
|63||Denard Robinson||Jac||vs. Ari||67||+4|
|64||C.J. Anderson||Den||vs. KC||75||+11|
|65||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Mia||66||+1|
|66||Jason Snelling||Atl||at TB||60||-6|
|67||Knile Davis||KC||at Den||80||+13|
|68||Tashard Choice||Buf||vs. NYJ||86||+18|
|69||Johnathan Franklin||GB||at NYG||85||+16|
|70||LaMichael James||SF||at NO||72||+2|
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Rookie tight end Jordan Reed might have stolen some of Garcon's thunder, but the matchup is just too good to ignore for the Redskins' leading wide receiver this week. The Eagles are the second-worst pass defense in football and have given up the most receptions, yards and fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
He has scorched along with Nick Foles, and he draws a Redskins secondary that is in the bottom 10 against the pass and has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Cooper would be a good start against anyone right now. Against the Redskins and amid this hot stretch, he is a great start.
Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins
He emerged as a surprise go-to man for Ryan Tannehill on Monday night, and his performance was so eye-opening that the Dolphins have to go back to him again this week. You helped make him the most-added wide receiver this week, so you should play him against the Chargers this Sunday. San Diego has allowed the fourth-most points fantasy wide receivers and has the fifth-worst pass defense.
Percy Harvin and Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
You have waited weeks, if not months, for Harvin, so you have to be anxious to get him into your fantasy lineup. Even if he is limited in his snap count, his production should be up against his former team. The Vikings are 29th against the pass and eighth-worst against fantasy wide receivers. Harvin is a solid start and the attention he draws underneath should also help Tate be productive downfield. Start both of the Seahawks receivers this week.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He has posted back-to-back duds, but you should feel confident in him rebounding against a Falcons defense that is young and in the bottom 10 against the pass and fantasy wideouts. Head coach Greg Schiano told the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings this week that getting Jackson the ball more is a priority:
We need to make sure he gets his touches because he’s a dynamic player. You're talking about a Pro Bowl player. And, certainly, with the loss of some weapons offensively, defenses are really going to key on him now. That's a fact of life. But get over it and find a way to get him the ball. That's what we have to do.
Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots
Dobson went into the bye week hot, but Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski should get even more of the pie as the season wears on. Also, the Panthers are No. 4 against the pass and No. 2 against fantasy receivers. Amendola remains a must-start in PPR, but you might consider sitting him in standard leagues too because of the difficult matchup at Carolina.
Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings
Jennings (Achilles) hasn't been close to his productive self and Christian Ponder (shoulder) is still notoriously limited in getting the ball downfield. None of the Vikings receivers look like even decent plays against the Seahawks shutdown secondary. The Seahawks are No. 2 against the pass and No. 3 against fantasy receivers.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
He was having a sleeper-worthy season in the early going, but he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 6 and will be facing the No. 1 pass defense in football in the Houston Texans. The Texans have allowed a league-low 76 receptions and 918 yards to fantasy wide receivers to date.
Oh, and Moore might also have to deal with Matt McGloin as the Raiders' starting quarterback this week. Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted that McGloin got all of the first-team reps Friday, even if the Raiders are still hopeful Pryor feels well enough to play.
Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick has struggled to recreate his stretch-run magic from a year ago. Even if it has a lot to do with the health and effectiveness of his receivers, you cannot like the 49ers' struggling passing game at New Orleans. The Saints shut down Tony Romo and Dez Bryant a week ago and should be plenty capable of stopping this limited aerial attack. The Saints are one of only three teams to have allowed 200 or less passing yards per game this season.
Lance Moore and Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
This pair has taken turns being productive amid Marques Colston's struggles, but Colston (knee) proved healthy and effective again last week, so he should be the lone Saints wide receiver who is starter-worthy in fantasy against the 49ers defense. San Francisco is eighth-best against the pass and seventh-best against fantasy wide receivers.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||at Pit||1||0|
|2||A.J. Green||Cin||vs. Cle||5||+3|
|3||Brandon Marshall||Chi||vs. Bal||3||0|
|4||DeSean Jackson||Phi||vs. Was||4||0|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Den||vs. KC||7||+2|
|6||Wes Welker||Den||vs. KC||10||+4|
|7||Andre Johnson||Hou||vs. Oak||2||-5|
|8||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||at Jac||14||+6|
|9||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Phi||6||-3|
|10||Victor Cruz||NYG||vs. GB||11||+1|
|11||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. Atl||8||-3|
|12||Jordy Nelson||GB||at NYG||19||+7|
|13||Eric Decker||Den||vs. KC||15||+2|
|14||Antonio Brown||Pit||vs. Det||9||-5|
|15||Josh Gordon||Cle||at Cin||16||+1|
|16||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||at Ten||13||-3|
|17||Riley Cooper||Phi||vs. Was||20||+3|
|18||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||vs. Bal||12||-6|
|19||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Chi||18||-1|
|20||Danny Amendola||NE||at Car||24||+4|
|21||Marques Colston||NO||vs. SF||27||+6|
|22||Keenan Allen||SD||at Mia||17||-5|
|23||Cecil Shorts||Jac||vs. Ari||21||-2|
|24||Roddy White||Atl||at TB||30||+6|
|25||Percy Harvin||Sea||vs. Min||33||+8|
|26||Steve Smith||Car||vs. NE||25||-1|
|27||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. GB||28||+1|
|28||Golden Tate||Sea||vs. Min||22||-6|
|29||Rishard Matthews||Mia||vs. SD||44||+15|
|30||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||vs. Oak||31||+1|
|31||James Jones||GB||at NYG||39||+8|
|32||Anquan Boldin||SF||at NO||35||+3|
|33||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. SD||23||-10|
|34||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||vs. Det||32||-2|
|35||Aaron Dobson||NE||at Car||34||-1|
|36||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. Ind||29||-7|
|37||Brandon LaFell||Car||vs. NE||47||+10|
|38||Marvin Jones||Cin||vs. Cle||43||+5|
|39||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. GB||42||+3|
|40||Dexter McCluster||KC||at Den||62||+22|
|41||Michael Floyd||Ari||at Jac||37||-4|
|42||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. SD||36||-6|
|43||Denarius Moore||Oak||at Hou||38||-5|
|44||Jarrett Boykin||GB||at NYG||41||-3|
|45||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Chi||49||+4|
|46||Santonio Holmes||NYJ||at Buf||50||+4|
|47||Dwayne Bowe||KC||at Den||40||-7|
|48||Donnie Avery||KC||at Den||61||+13|
|49||Doug Baldwin||Sea||vs. Min||48||-1|
|50||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||vs. Cle||85||+35|
|51||Greg Jennings||Min||at Sea||56||+5|
|52||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. SF||46||-6|
|53||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. Ind||57||+4|
|54||Eddie Royal||SD||at Mia||59||+5|
|55||Harry Douglas||Atl||at TB||26||-29|
|56||Lance Moore||NO||vs. SF||52||-4|
|57||Nate Burleson||Det||at Pit||70||+13|
|58||Mario Manningham||SF||at NO||69||+11|
|59||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at Car||77||+18|
|60||Jason Avant||Phi||vs. Was||82||+22|
|61||Julian Edelman||NE||at Car||75||+14|
|62||Jacoby Jones||Bal||at Chi||76||+14|
|63||Vincent Brown||SD||at Mia||73||+10|
|64||David Nelson||NYJ||at Buf||71||+7|
|65||Leonard Hankerson||Was||at Phi||60||-5|
|66||Ted Ginn||Car||vs. NE||78||+12|
|67||Greg Little||Cle||at Cin||66||-1|
|68||Jon Baldwin||SF||at NO||94||+26|
|69||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||at Ten||72||+3|
|70||Mike Brown||Jac||vs. Ari||53||-17|
|71||Davone Bess||Cle||at Cin||87||+16|
|72||Lavon Brazill||Ind||at Ten||101||+29|
|73||Jerome Simpson||Min||at Sea||83||+10|
|74||Tiquan Underwood||TB||vs. Atl||51||-23|
|75||Stephen Hill||NYJ||at Buf||64||-11|
|76||Ace Sanders||Jac||vs. Ari||84||+8|
|77||Rod Streater||Oak||at Hou||81||+4|
|78||Andre Roberts||Ari||at Jac||58||-20|
|79||Robert Meachem||NO||vs. SF||102||+23|
|80||Jermaine Kearse||Sea||vs. Min||65||-15|
|81||Kris Durham||Det||at Pit||55||-26|
|82||Santana Moss||Was||at Phi||96||+14|
|83||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. Ind||67||-16|
|84||Jacoby Ford||Oak||at Hou||108||+24|
|85||Cordarrelle Patterson||Min||at Sea||68||-17|
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
Coming off his first career touchdown, Housler is primed to take off as a fantasy sleeper. We already listed Carson Palmer as a "start" at quarterback, and the emergence Housler is one of the reasons.
Housler was tripped up by a high-ankle sprain early in the season; otherwise, we might have already viewed him as a top-12 fantasy tight end. He can perform like one against the Jags, third-worst against tight ends in fantasy, if you need a spot starter.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
This one has become obvious in recent weeks, but the Eagles have been so suspect against the pass yet good against tight ends, we feel obligated to mention Reed here. Philly has the second-worst pass defense, but it's quietly been third-toughest against tight ends. It is not enough to consider sitting Reed, who has emerged as Robert Griffin III's primary target.
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He had a quiet week in what should have been a favorable matchup against the Dolphins, but we will give him a one-week pass. He still rates as Mike Glennon's favorite target and should be good for six catches for 60 yards and perhaps a touchdown at home against the Falcons, who have given up the fifth-most touchdown passes to tight ends (six).
John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings
He took over nicely for Kyle Rudolph (foot) last week, going off for seven catches, 98 yards and a touchdown to lead the position. This week will be a much tougher opponent in the Seahawks, who have the second-best pass defense and have limited tight ends to bottom-10 numbers thus far. Carlson is a bad fringe option with the bye weeks out of the way.
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
He has three touchdowns in his past four games, but he hasn't broken 50 yards but once since Week 1 and has been held under 15 yards in every game since Week 6. The one-yard touchdowns don't come often against Chicago either. The Bears have allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends this season. Look elsewhere if you have Jason Witten or Jared Cook on bye this week.
Kellen Winslow, New York Jets
He returns from a four-game suspension, but despite the Bills' secondary struggles, they have been tough on opposing tight ends in fantasy. Buffalo has allowed the fourth-fewest yards to the position (340) this season. You also cannot trust Winslow will get the targets when the Jets do go to the tight end, since Jeff Cumberland is still listed as their starter.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Rob Gronkowski||NE||at Car||1||0|
|2||Jimmy Graham||NO||vs. SF||2||0|
|3||Julius Thomas||Den||vs. KC||4||+1|
|4||Vernon Davis||SF||at NO||6||+2|
|5||Jordan Reed||Was||at Phi||3||-2|
|6||Antonio Gates||SD||at Mia||5||-1|
|7||Jordan Cameron||Cle||at Cin||7||0|
|8||Greg Olsen||Car||vs. NE||10||+2|
|9||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||at TB||8||-1|
|10||Coby Fleener||Ind||at Ten||11||+1|
|11||Rob Housler||Ari||at Jac||18||+7|
|12||Martellus Bennett||Chi||vs. Bal||9||-3|
|13||Tim Wright||TB||vs. Atl||13||0|
|14||Heath Miller||Pit||vs. Det||12||-2|
|15||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. SD||14||-1|
|16||John Carlson||Min||at Sea||17||+1|
|17||Garrett Graham||Hou||vs. Oak||16||-1|
|18||Zach Miller||Sea||vs. Min||22||+4|
|19||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Chi||25||+6|
|20||Scott Chandler||Buf||vs. NYJ||15||-5|
|21||Delanie Walker||Ten||vs. Ind||20||-1|
|22||Zach Ertz||Phi||vs. Was||27||+5|
|23||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||vs. Cle||28||+5|
|24||Tyler Eifert||Cin||vs. Cle||19||-5|
|25||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||at Pit||21||-4|
|26||Anthony Fasano||KC||at Den||33||+7|
|27||Joseph Fauria||Det||at Pit||35||+8|
|28||Brent Celek||Phi||vs. Was||24||-4|
|29||Brandon Myers||NYG||vs. GB||26||-3|
|30||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||at Buf||30||0|
|31||Andrew Quarless||GB||at NYG||34||+3|
|32||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||vs. Ari||23||-9|
|33||Jeff Cumberland||NYJ||at Buf||29||-4|
Continuing with our theme of the week, start the Cardinals defense at Jacksonville. The Jags are third-worst against opposing defensive units and the Cardinals boast a tough run defense (third-best). There are some legit Pro Bowlers on that Cards defense, and the Jags don't have the line or the offensive weapons to hurt them.
New York Jets
Speaking of strong run defenses, the Jets are No. 1 in that regard and they will be facing a Bills team that will be without Stevie Johnson (groin). The Bills are sixth-worst against fantasy defenses, so consider the Jets one of the best streaming options on the board.
This has been a maligned team, but the defense is still No. 1 against the pass and the Raiders might have to start a quarterback who was a walk-on in college and undrafted into the pros, Matt McGloin. No matter what you think you might know about McGloin or the status of Terrelle Pryor (knee), you should view the Texans as a must-start unit among the top five this week, especially at home.
Kansas City Chiefs
The No. 1 unit in fantasy is a bad play in Denver against arguably the most potent offense in NFL history. Peyton Manning's Broncos are not in the top 10 against opposing defensive units, but we should expect their best effort of the season, a la the performance on opening night against the Ravens. This should be a Broncos show and a bad week to have the Chiefs active.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have played better defense of late, but the Saints in New Orleans is perhaps the worst matchup in football for anyone. The Saints are No. 5 against opposing defensive units, so find a one-week fill-in here.
Here is a surprising stat: The Redskins, despite having the sixth-worst defense in football, have scored the third-most points in standard fantasy leagues. You should not buy into this against the Eagles in Philly, though. That Chip Kelly quick-strike offense isn't to be messed with right now with Nick Foles at quarterback.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||vs. Min||1||0|
|2||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||at Jac||2||0|
|3||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||vs. Cle||3||0|
|4||New York Jets||NYJ||at Buf||7||+3|
|5||Houston Texans||Hou||vs. Oak||5||0|
|6||Detroit Lions||Det||at Pit||13||+7|
|7||Chicago Bears||Chi||vs. Bal||9||+2|
|8||New England Patriots||NE||at Car||11||+3|
|9||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. KC||10||+1|
|10||Green Bay Packers||GB||at NYG||15||+5|
|11||Carolina Panthers||Car||vs. NE||4||-7|
|12||New Orleans Saints||NO||vs. SF||12||0|
|13||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Chi||19||+6|
|14||San Diego Chargers||SD||at Mia||17||+3|
|15||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||at Den||18||+3|
|16||San Francisco 49ers||SF||at NO||16||0|
|17||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||at TB||22||+5|
|18||Cleveland Browns||Cle||at Cin||14||-4|
|19||Buffalo Bills||Buf||vs. NYJ||6||-13|
|20||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||at Ten||8||-12|
Justin Tucker hasn't been quite as good as he was last year, but he can help down the stretch.
Nick Folk, New York Jets
Folk is coming off his bye with a matchup against the Bills, the third-worst team in fantasy against kickers. The Jets have shown a lot more juice than anyone expected and Folk has been a big beneficiary. He is a top-five fantasy option the rest of the season.
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
The struggles of the Ravens' running game has hurt Tucker's numbers and opportunities, but we expect both to improve against the Bears' 31st-ranked run defense. Tucker gets to face a Bears team that is eighth-worst against kickers. He should be viewed as a regular fantasy starter down the stretch, no matter what you think of the Ravens offense.
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
The loss of Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) impacts the overall productivity of the Packers offense, but it shouldn't affect Crosby's fantasy value too much. The Packers still can run the ball, and Crosby should be positioned for attempts often against a Giants team that has been in the bottom 10 of fantasy against kickers.
Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
One of last year's best rookie kickers, if not one of the best of all time, has been a bust for fantasy owners this season. He won't turn it around against the Seahawks defense this week either. Seattle has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to kickers this season.
Josh Brown, New York Giants
He has been a streaky option, but the Giants do not have a trustworthy enough offense to use their kicker in standard leagues. The Packers are seventh-best against fantasy kickers too.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
Riddle us eternal optimists, but the Texans are due for a big performance at home, especially defensively. SeaBass has been one of the worst kickers in fantasy, and the prospect of Matt McGloin starting over Terrelle Pryor should scare you off Janikowski in any fantasy lineup.
|1||Steven Hauschka||Sea||vs. Min||2||+1|
|2||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at Car||4||+2|
|3||Nick Folk||NYJ||at Buf||7||+4|
|4||Matt Prater||Den||vs. KC||1||-3|
|5||Mason Crosby||GB||at NYG||12||+7|
|6||Phil Dawson||SF||at NO||18||+12|
|7||Alex Henery||Phi||vs. Was||9||+2|
|8||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Chi||6||-2|
|9||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||at Ten||17||+8|
|10||Matt Bryant||Atl||at TB||10||0|
|11||Garrett Hartley||NO||vs. SF||8||-3|
|12||Ryan Succop||KC||at Den||20||+8|
|13||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||vs. SD||25||+12|
|14||Nick Novak||SD||at Mia||3||-11|
|15||Mike Nugent||Cin||vs. Cle||26||+11|
|16||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||at Hou||28||+12|
|17||Jay Feely||Ari||at Jac||13||-4|
|18||David Akers||Det||at Pit||5||-13|
|19||Graham Gano||Car||vs. NE||21||+2|
|20||Rob Bironas||Ten||vs. Ind||29||+9|
|21||Kai Forbath||Was||at Phi||15||-6|
|22||Josh Brown||NYG||vs. GB||24||+2|