Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Last-Minute Advice on Who Can Make or Break Your Week

Jeremy Alpert@@pyroman1acSenior Analyst IISeptember 25, 2011

Every week, there are certain fantasy studs that you simply have to start no matter what, such as Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson and Andre Johnson.

There are also a good number of players you know you should sit each week, such as a fringe running backs like Joseph Addai going up against a normally tough and very pissed off rush D like that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And then there are those players with whom you have no idea whether to 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 for whom the stats and other information dictate one way or the other.

Start 'Em


Cam Newton (vs. Jax)

Everybody knows about the rookie QB records Cam Newton has demolished thus far in his two-game career, but did you know he actually has more 20-plus yard completions than anybody else in the league (16) and leads the NFL in yards per completion (9.46)?  Aren’t rookie QBs supposedly afraid to go deep when they first join the league?

Basically, Cam Newton has broken the mold and should continue to do so against a Jaguars D that ranked last in the league last year in giving up 8.3 yards per passing attempt.  Don’t miss the boat on this kid.

Matt Hasselbeck (vs. Den)

In his 13th season, Matt Hasselbeck likely has the best receiver he’s ever thrown to in Kenny Britt, and he knows it. Denver’s defense is once again near the bottom of the pack, so Hassel shouldn’t have too much of a problem tossing the pill around on them, especially if Champ Bailey can’t make it back in time.

Believe it or not, through two games in the 2011 season, the Titans' new QB has the fifth most completions (51) and sixth most passing yards (621) in the entire league. More than Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Sexy Rexy!

Rex Grossman (@ Dal)

Isn’t it about time Sexy Rexy threw a fat goose-egg up on the board? Normally I’d say yes, but not this time. I believe the surprises will keep coming this week against a banged up Dallas D that could barely stop Alex Smith and the 49ers last Sunday.

The Redskins wide receiver corps may be in the middle of the pack in terms of talent, but the tight end position with Fred Davis and Chris Cooley brings an element to Rex’s game that seems to work well within his talents. When called upon to start against the ‘Boys last season, Grossman threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns in a fantasy outing up close to 30 points.

That said, expect the unexpected.

Mark Sanchez (@ Oak)

I’m pretty sure it won’t last, but Mark Sanchez is currently on pace for 4,136 yards and 32 touchdowns. I mention this for a couple of reasons.

First, I wanted to show that despite a complete overhaul in the Jets' wide receiver corps since his 2009 rookie season (not a single wide receiver remains on the team), Dirty Sanchez has still managed to get better each year.

Secondly, I want people to know he’s not just a sideshow QB anymore… he’s actually better than you think.  Oakland still has a pretty good secondary after the loss of Asomugha, but Sanchez should be able to get rack up some decent fantasy points regardless today.

Running Back

Ryan Mathews (vs. KC)

Being just a sophomore, Mathews doesn’t have an extensive sample size of games to look at just yet, but he has faced Kansas City twice and done well against them both times.

San Diego should be able to go up early in this one and win the game with ease, so the likely scenario will be for the coaching staff to get the youngster a little more game experience on Sunday while they have the chance and let him show them what he can do.

Expect high-end RB2 numbers with nice upside. 

Ben Tate (@ NO)

It looks as if the Texans are going to play it safe and hold Arian Foster out again this week, so those of you with Ben Tate on your squad, get him in there as a RB2 this Sunday.

The Saints have been good against the run so far, but it looks as if Tate isn’t just a workhorse back—he can actually catch the ball out of the backfield as well. I mention this because it will serve as a nice plus on Sunday considering that New Orleans has given up the third most receiving yards to running backs this season.

High-scoring games mean high scores in fantasy. That’s what I expect in this one.

James Starks (@ Chi)

Starks is the man in this offense, and everyone knows it. I guarantee you even Ryan Grant knows it. The question is, how soon will it be before the Packers give him the ball 20 times and let him do his stuff? I'm thinking it's this weekend, playing in the rain at Soldier Field.

Starks got 22 carries against the Bears last year in the playoffs, which he turned into 74 yards and a touchdown, so the Packers know he can do it against them. Grant has simply become too slow a running back to be effective against this speedy Chicago D, so I can see Starks taking on a larger role this weekend and possibly put up some nice fantasy points with the well-earned playing time.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@ Buf)

It’s not often the Law Firm sees more than just his normal goal line/short-yardage work in a game, especially with the Patriots' passing offense running so smoothly. However, last season Green-Ellis got 35 carries in his two games against the Bills, with which he rattled off 202 yards and a touchdown.

You never know what Emperor Belichick has up his sleeve, and with the Bills seeing what Brady is doing to opposing defenses this year, they’ll likely play the pass a bit more than normal, a strategy which could pay into BJGE’s hands.

Even if New England does end up passing all over the place, I can still almost guarantee a touchdown out of BenJarvus this Sunday.

Wide Receiver

A.J. Green (vs. SF)

The A.J. Green everyone was talking about before the season showed up in a big way last weekend against the Donkeys. Ten catches on 14 targets for 124 yards and a touchdown are awesome numbers for ANY wide receiver, especially a rookie.

The 49ers pass D has taken a beating thus far, giving up five touchdowns and 291 yards a game through two weeks, so Green looks primed for another nice fantasy game this Sunday.

Julio Jones (@ TB)

If the Buccaneers stick cornerback Aqid Talib on Roddy White all day long, Julio could be poised for a breakout game this Sunday.

Last season, in their first matchup, the Falcons WR2 (Michael Jenkins) had more yards than Roddy over the course of the game. In the second one, it was Jenkins who caught a touchdown pass, not Roddy.

If the trend sticks in their rivalry this season, Jones could very easily out-produce White in this one.

Nate Burleson (@ Min)

With all the attention opposing defenses are giving to Megatron, Burleson has emerged as a go-to guy for Stafford through two weeks. He may not have a touchdown to show for it yet, but he leads the team in targets, receptions and yards so far and might not slow down all year long.

Indoors against a beatable Vikings pass D, Nate should be able to have himself another nice showing for fantasy owners.

Deion Branch (@ Buf)

The older he gets, the better Deion Branch looks. Of course, Tom Brady and the Patriots' offensive machine could have something to do with it, but you can’t ignore the fact that Branch has caught 15 of the 19 passes thrown his way (tied for second in the NFL) and turned them into 222 yards (sixth in the NFL) so far.

If this game turns into a point-scoring free-for-all like it should, Branch will have a good chance at catching his first touchdown of the season today... along with a whole bunch of catches and yards.

Tight End

Fred Davis (@ Dal)

If nobody has picked up Fred Davis in your league for some reason, go grab him immediately. The guy is one of the more athletic tight ends in the league and it seems he’s put enough space between himself and Chris Cooley to warrant a weekly start.

Dallas was really good against tight ends last season, but not so much this year as they’ve already given up two touchdowns and 150 yards to them through two weeks of action. Grossman loves to toss the ball to his tight ends, so make sure you get Fred in your lineup for the Monday night game

Marcedes Lewis (@ Car)

The monster that is Marcedes Lewis is back and ready to suit up for the Jags this week.

Carolina has been pretty bad against tight ends this season and with coach Jack Del Rio opting to go with the rookie under center today, Lewis might be looking at a ton of targets from young Blaine Gabbert.



Josh Freeman (@ Atl)

If it weren’t for his five-touchdown performance against the lowly Seahawks in Week 16 last year, Freeman would have finished 23rd in the league, averaging just 16.2 fantasy points per game. I mention this because Josh has put up just 16.1 fantasy points per game so far this season against two so-so defenses in Detroit at home and against the Vikings indoors.

Basically, maybe Freeman isn’t quite as good of a fantasy QB as people thought.

In his two games versus Atlanta last season, Freeman completed just 50 percent of his passes while putting up an average of, you guessed it; 16.1 fantasy points per game.

Then again, Atlanta’s pass D has been pretty darn porous so far...

Eli Manning (@ Phi)

Eli has had a rough going of it so far and it doesn’t look like it will improve much this weekend.

The Eagles’ pass D is one of the best in the league and could turn out to be one of the better ones of all time, so with wide receiver Mario Manningham out for this game, I’d look elsewhere for QB points.

Running Back

Tim Hightower (@ Dal)

Dallas has been crushing opponents trying to run against them, holding teams to just 59.5 yards and one rushing touchdown on the ground through the first two weeks of action.

Hightower has been a horse so far, carrying the ball 45 times in two games (second most in the league to Ben Tate, 47), but I can’t see him getting much more than 15 totes in this one after the coaching staff sees him get stuffed every other time he touches the ball.

Cedric Benson (vs. SF)

I’ll say this until the cows come home… I can’t stand Cedric Benson. Being from Chicago, I’m sure you understand, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about him right now.

After going off for 121 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in Week 1, Benson pulled off a real stinker against one of the worst rush D's in the league last week in Denver. Basically, the guy can’t be trusted, either in real life or in fantasy.

Regardless, Ceddy is going up against the top rush D in the league this weekend, a 49ers squad that has allowed just 2.5 yards per carry, 54.5 yards per game, a long run of only 13 yards and zero touchdowns.

Now watch; CedBen will go off and screw us all over again...

Felix Jones (vs. Was)

Felix is banged up and it was thought he would likely miss some time with a dislocated shoulder, but it looks like he’ll suit up this weekend against the Redskins. I don’t expect more than maybe 15 touches for him, though, as he’ll share time with both DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice, so play him only if you absolutely have to.

Peyton Hillis (vs. Mia)

Peyton has been ruled out this week with a case of strep throat.  Make sure you get him out of your lineup.

Wide Receiver

Dwayne Bowe (@ SD)

All is not well in Kansas City, and while talented, the defense will now be able to focus on Dwayne with Charles going down with a season-ending injury.

I'm interested to see how this team will respond offensively to last week's devastating news before playing anyone on that team. Either way, it's not a good time at the moment, and it may end up staying that way all year.

Mario Manningham (@ Phi)

Manningham has been ruled out in this one, so make sure you get him out of your lineup.  I didn't particularly like the matchup anyway, but his sitting on the bench makes this kind of an easy call.

Tight End

Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. Det)

Shiancoe is a mere shell of the player who put up 11 touchdowns back in 2009. Kyle Rudolph should eventually take his place out there on the field and in due time, in your fantasy lineup as well.

Besides, the Lions do really well at bottling up opposing tight ends.

Brent Celek (vs. NYG)

Celek is being primarily used as a blocking tight end thus far this season and I don't expect his role to change today. Against a Giants defense that will undoubtedly go after Vick as hard as they can all game, Brent will be needed more than ever along the line protecting the Eagles' franchise player.

Look elsewhere for fantasy points this week.

Follow Pyro® on Twitter:

Follow Pyro® on Facebook:


    Report: Del Rio Favorite to Become Giants DC

    NFL logo

    Report: Del Rio Favorite to Become Giants DC

    Expert Predictions for Championship Sunday

    NFL logo

    Expert Predictions for Championship Sunday

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Brady to Play AFC Title Game vs. Jags

    NFL logo

    Report: Brady to Play AFC Title Game vs. Jags

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Jags’ Recipe to Upset the Pats in NE

    NFL logo

    Jags’ Recipe to Upset the Pats in NE

    Sean Tomlinson
    via Bleacher Report