START 'EM SIT 'EM—Week 14
by Dawgmaticå (pyromaniac.com)
Every week, there are certain fantasy studs that you simply have to start no matter what, such as Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, or Roddy White.
There are also a good number of players you know you should sit each week, such as a fringe player going up against a tough rush D like Ronnie Brown is this Sunday against the Jets.
And then there are those players with whom you have no idea whether you should Start 'Em, or Sit 'Em.
Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position that you might not know what to do with, but the stats and information we’ve found say otherwise.
Jon Kitna (v. Phi)
Kitna may not be the cream of the crop, but neither is Philly’s pass D. Sure, Asante Samuel will make a difference if he plays, as the Eagles have given up 1.7 passing TDs/game with him active (nine games) compared to 3.0 with him out (three games), but Kitna and the Cowboys will likely have to pass to keep up with Vick in this one. You also have to consider that a bunch of QBs are now having to deal with bad/snowy weather, something Kitna will not have to worry about down at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
If that isn’t enough, check this: Kitna has played in seven games this year, with every other game going from his passing yards being in the 100’s to his yardage being up over 300. Last game he threw for 167 yards. Guess what’s coming next.
Alex Smith (v. Sea)
I'm not actually suggesting that you start Smith over any of the usual suspects (Brees, Vick, Manning, Brady, Rivers, etc.), but if you’re in a fix and maybe having to choose between Alex and some of the lesser QBs, the 49ers' QB could be your guy.
Smith has been really good at home this year, averaging 260 yards and two TD's in three games, all of which came against much better pass defenses than Seattle’s (Saints, Eagles, Raiders).
He was also in the midst of getting on a roll with both Crabtree and Vernon Davis when he went out with his injury, a connection I can see returning immediately against the 30th ranked pass D in the league.
Knowshon Moreno (@ Ari)
Moreno set a career high in yards last week against a pretty good Chiefs rush D (23 carries, 161 yards) and has been a touchdown machine with seven TDs in just nine games played so far this season. In addition, with Josh McDaniels being fired and the Broncos' former RB's coach taking over, Denver might actually move to more of a rushing attack from here on out (sorry, Kyle Orton owners).
Arizona’s rush D is among the worst three in the league, maybe even the worst, so if you’re looking for either a guy to ride while in the playoffs this week or someone just to get you in, then Knowshon could be your guy.
LeGarrette Blount (@ Was)
I loved seeing how hard Blount worked for his yards against a tough Falcons D last week and in fact, he almost single-handedly won that game for the Bucs.
Washington is no Atlanta when it comes to stuffing the run and with the Redskins' biggest force on the D-line, Albert Haynesworth, out, you can be sure LeGarrette will make some serious noise for you in the playoffs this weekend.
Fred Jackson (v. Cle)
The Bills couldn’t do a thing against the newly inspired Vikings last week, Fred Jackson included.
However, Cleveland doesn’t have nearly as formidable a defense as Minnesota has, and you can’t forget how insane FJax was playing in the three games prior to last week’s drop-off (averaged 154 total yards and 1.7 TDs a game during those three games).
Playing at home should help Jackson out a bit as well.
Jeremy Maclin (@ Dal)
So it’s become rather obvious that Vick enjoys throwing the ball just as much to Maclin as he does to DeSean Jackson, maybe even more so, but that’s not to say that they can’t BOTH be fantasy-relevant players this Sunday night.
Dallas’ defense is giving up a disgusting amount of points right now, as opposing teams have averaged 28.0 points on the year against them and 32.1 in just the last seven games.
They also allow by far the most fantasy points in the league to wide receivers, so don’t hesitate to get Maclin in your lineup this weekend.
Wes Welker (@ Chi)
My goodness, Mr. Welker, I just don’t understand how you can continue to surprise the NFL watching world the way you do. Just when everybody has you counted out because of your past injuries, you put up a three week stretch that includes 20 catches, 228 yards and four TDs.
In fact, at this rate, we could see you eclipse the 100-catch mark again this season.
Anybody think Tom Brady doesn’t know what that means in terms of NFL history?
Sure, the Bears have been pretty darn stingy against the pass this year, but I personally don’t think Brady gives a rat’s ass about all that hogwash, so don’t you worry and ride this miracle kid out.
Michael Crabtree (v. Sea)
I wasn’t expecting much out of Crabtree last week with Charles Woodson on him all game long, and his three catches for 45 yards was actually a little more than I anticipated.
This week, he has a terrible Seahawks pass D facing him and Alex Smith back under center.
With the change at the QB position, you have to expect a nice showing from the youngster, as he and Smith were just starting to get into a real groove before Alex went down back in Week 7.
Derrick Mason (@ Hou)
After a nice eight-catch, 87-yard outing with one TD a couple of weeks ago, the Steelers held Derrick to just two catches for 22 yards last Sunday night.
That won’t happen again for the steadiest WR over the past decade, as Mason heads down to Houston for a Monday night match-up against the worst defense in the league.
I’m not saying that he should start over your normal studs of the game, but if you’re looking for a WR3 to plug into your lineup with a bunch of upside, Mason is that guy.
Ben Watson (@ Buf)
Watson is coming off a 10-catch, 100-yard performance with a TD last week and now goes up against a defense that gives up the second most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
In a league that has been depleted of good fantasy tight ends this year, you have to get Watson in there if you can.
Mark Sanchez (v. Mia)
Did anybody happen to catch how terrible Sanchez looked last week?
I’ll give the reason why: IT WAS FREEZING OUT THERE!
It’s obvious that Sanchez hates playing in the cold. Either that, or he’s just no good in it.
His passes seemed to be flying all over the place, and all too often into the opposing team’s hands.
This week, however, he’ll be playing at home; it will probably be raining or snowing, so his outlook doesn’t look much better.
The Jets will likely turn to their offensive line and just run the ball up the Dolphins' yahoo all day long, especially with Miami sporting one of the better pass D’s so far this year.
Matt Cassel (@ SD)
Cassel just had an appendectomy on Wednesday, so to think he’ll actually be ready to play on Sunday is a bit foolish.
The doctors actually say it’s possible for him to make a go of it, but even if he does, he’ll be facing a great, angry Chargers defense looking to exact some revenge after losing to the hated Raiders last week.
Cassel has been relatively hot over the past couple of months, but avoid him if you can this week.
LaDainian Tomlinson (v. Mia)
LT is pretty much splitting carries right down the middle with Shonn Greene right now in an effort to keep him fresh for the playoffs, so his production will tend to be on the light side going forward.
That said, he still has the ability to be lethal, seeing that he’s also the third down back in most situations and doesn’t come out around the goal line.
He’s not the worst play in the world for you this week, but I’d have a hard time depending on him this late in the fantasy season, seeing how the distribution of carries in New York has been going lately.
Thomas Jones (@ SD)
Jones’ touches are slightly unpredictable at this point in the season with Jamaal Charles rolling the way he is, but the Chiefs may need his power a bit in this game against the Chargers to grind out the tough yards and along the goal-line.
However, if Matt Cassel sits this one out, you can expect the Chargers to bunch the line in defending the run and try to make Brodie Croyle beat them with his arm.
If that’s the case, the Chiefs will need Charles a lot more than Jones due to his big-play ability.
Thomas is really no more than a flex play at best for you this week.
Cedric Benson (@ Pit)
Benson actually had a decent game against the league’s best rush D earlier this season, rolling out 74 total yards and a touchdown back in Week 9.
His two 100-yard games against the mighty Ravens last year also showed he can bulldoze even the best defenses at times.
Don’t be so fast to let the stats do the talking, though, because with the Bengals defense being as bad as it is, Palmer and company will likely have to be playing catch-up the whole game, which means a whole lot less of Ceddy this weekend.
Dwayne Bowe (@ SD)
I wonder if last week was the beginning of Bowe’s return to his lazy ways of the past, or if he was simply frustrated to hell by Champ Bailey and the Broncos’ D sliding a safety his way on every down. I’m hoping he was just a bit frustrated, but either way, San Diego isn’t the best place for a return to greatness, as the Chargers rank second in the league in allowing the fewest fantasy points to WRs.
It’s tough not to start him, but don’t expect the same numbers he was putting up for a stretch there, especially if Matt Cassel ends up sitting this one out.
Larry Fitzgerald (v. Den)
The Cardinals' turning to rookie John Skelton could go one of two ways for Fitz: 1) He could end up with about as much fantasy value as Steve Smith has on the Panthers right now (zero), or 2) Fitz will step up his game, catch every pass thrown his way, and continue to be a viable fantasy threat through the end of the season.
I’m betting on Fitz and his superior talent to shine through in a couple of games, but maybe not so much in this one with Champ Bailey likely shadowing him all day long.
Braylon Edwards (v. Mia)
The old Braylon showed up last Monday night by showing everybody that he still has the ability to drop everything in sight. He really seems to hate playing in the cold, so being at home this weekend won’t do him any favors.
The Dolphins have been one of the best teams against the pass this year, so my guess is that with the northern weather being what it is, the Jets will go back to depending on their offensive line to open up holes for LT and Shonn Greene all day long.
Davone Bess (@ NYJ)
Bess did real well in the Dolphins' first match-up with the Jets this year, going for 86 yards on six catches, but I just don’t see that happening this time around.
He might end up with some average numbers by the end of the game, but my guess is that the Jets let out a little anger on Miami this Sunday and hold Miami to a low score.
In addition, Henne has been awful on the road this year, so sit little Bessie if you have another option to toss in there.
Joel Dreessen (v. Bal)
With Owen Daniels coming back, it’s tough to predict just how much Dreessen will be used over the next handful of weeks. He’s done well filling in for the injured Daniels, but Houston will certainly get their stud tight end from last year involved as much as possible, so you can’t depend on Dreessen getting too many targets from here on out.
The Ravens also happen to be the best team in the league at defending tight ends, so if you have another option, I suggest you use it.