NFL Fantasy Dilemma: Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan

Natalie FaulkContributor IOctober 1, 2010

San Diego's One-Two Punch
San Diego's One-Two PunchStephen Dunn/Getty Images

After a couple weeks of barely winning my fantasy match-ups I took a good, long look at my team and realized that it is, indeed, one of my best amalgamations of talent in a number of years. Unfortunately, such a collection of abilities invariably causes problems when deciding each week’s lineup. This week is no different.

Patriots’ rookie TE phenom Aaron Hernandez is a “must start” on every fantasy site I have perused; however, also owning San Diego’s Antonio Gates confounds my dilemma. Hernandez is 10th among all fantasy TEs thus far this season and—facing a Dolphins’ defense who has given up major points to tight ends—starting him should be a no-brainer. However, Gates leads all TEs with 4 TDs and is 2nd with 242 yards—making him even more of a “sure thing” with whom I will be placing my fantasy trust, again, this week.

The same questions surround my choice between Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers. Again, such a dilemma is, indeed, favorable to, for example, deciding between Oakland’s Jason Campbell and Cleveland’s Seneca Wallace (no offense guys, it’s just that you aren't as prolific as, well, the rest of the league.) Rivers leads all QBs with 1,087 yards after just 3 games, putting him on pace to easily break 5,000 yards this season, 3rd in TDs with 7, and is ranked 5th among all fantasy QBs. Troubling, however, is the fact that he has tossed 4 INTs thus far (although, in his defense, 3 of them were deflected passes.) Ryan is a must-start as well—8th among all fantasy QBs and particularly against a suspect 49ers defense—but his numbers aren’t as strong and with the Cardinals’ relatively mediocre defense I will stick with Rivers.

Another dilemma involves Chargers’ RBs Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews. While Mathews is slated to return after a minor high-ankle sprain sustained in week 2, his propensity to fumble is worrisome as is the full status of the injury itself. Tolbert has gotten the majority of carries in Mathews’ absence; however, it is unlikely that Norv Turner wouldn’t give him a respectable number of touches—particularly at the goal line—thus making him an attractive fantasy option.

At least the rest of my team is relatively easy to assemble: Browns’ RB Peyton Hillis, Oakland’s K Sebastian Janikowski, Baltimore’s WR Anquan Boldin (who is having a phenomenal year), Houston’s WR Kevin Walter, and the Chargers’ DST (well, actually defense only because their special teams are in serious trouble, particularly since the departure of Kassim Osgood to Jacksonville.)

I welcome any comments to assist my decision-making process.