Week 10 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More
Right up top, let's talk the Monday Night Football injury to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. He was gone in the locker room for some time, finally emerging out of his equipment, clearly done for the night.
There was no sling, but as of this writing, there is no real information about the status of Rodgers for next week.
Here's your bonus tip: Don't, under any circumstances, start Seneca Wallace. Wallace looked horrible all evening, and while some of that can be chalked up to entering a game on the fly with no first-team reps, he was shockingly bereft of pocket presence and held the ball way too long when he needed to throw it away.
In fact, his repeated sacks cost the team a lot of yards.
The Philadelphia Eagles are improving defensively but are still a good matchup.
Unless you are Wallace.
Who else is worth starting and who else should you avoid?
Let's take a look.
*All statistics are via NFL.com unless otherwise stated.
Start 'Em: Robert Griffin III at Minnesota Vikings
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III didn't score a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers in Week 9, but he nearly topped 300 yards passing with just one interception and is facing a Minnesota Vikings defense ranked No. 29 against the pass.
They have allowed 18 passing touchdowns (second-most in the NFL), and with Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford hurt and Harrison Smith on injured reserve, this secondary is stumbling.
Griffin isn't his old self and may not be all season. However, he can put up fantasy points when he has a favorable matchup—and this matchup is favorable.
Sit 'Em: Matt Ryan vs. Seattle Seahawks
Over the last two games, Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown seven interceptions and just two touchdowns.
Minus Julio Jones and Roddy White, there seems to be only so much Ryan can do. He did throw for 273 yards, three touchdowns and no picks in Week 7 coming off a bye week and going against a Tampa Bay defense which can be inconsistent.
The Seattle Seahawks—the opponent for Week 10—are a much tougher defense.
While he may not be a complete disaster this week, he's likely to turn the ball over at least a couple of times and could struggle to put yards up as well.
Right now, Ryan is not playing well, and this is a bad matchup for him. Find someone with some upside or a good matchup and plug them in instead.
Start 'Em: Philip Rivers vs. Denver Broncos
While we expect the Denver Broncos to beat the San Diego Chargers, we can also expect it to stay interesting.
And by interesting we mean that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will throw for a bazillion yards and 45 touchdowns, but his defense will cough up enough yards and touchdowns to keep things closer than it should be for at least a half, maybe three quarters.
Denver's passing defense is ranked No. 30 in the league right now and have allowed 15 touchdowns so far—though they also have 13 interceptions—tied for most in the league with the Seattle Seahawks.
So we can also surmise that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, coming off a 341-yard, two-touchdown game and playing better than he has in years under head coach Mike McCoy, is going to throw the ball.
He'll probably throw a couple of picks as well, but unless you have an unreasonable penalty for them, his yards and touchdowns will far outweigh that.
Even if Manning runs away and hides early, the Chargers will be throwing to catch up—in fact if you're a Rivers fantasy owner, you kind of want that.
Rivers is a good bye week, injury or matchup start this week and could be one of the sneakier ones this week.
Sit 'Em: Andy Dalton at Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens defense isn't as dominant as they once were, but they're only allowing 239 passing yards a game and have generated 28 sacks.
The sacks are what should concern you for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Last Thursday he was sacked five times by the Miami Dolphins and was under constant pressure all night.
A trio of interceptions and some really inaccurate passes in general.
The Ravens can certainly bring the heat and Dalton did not handle that well last week. While the Ravens don't generate much in the way of turnovers, neither did the Miami Dolphins prior to Thursday night.
Stay away from Dalton this week and find a better matchup option.
Start 'Em: Zac Stacy at Indianapolis Colts
Two games with 120-plus yard production.
And last weekend against Tennessee, two touchdowns.
The Indianapolis Colts rank No. 27 against the run this year. The two biggest concerns in starting Stacy are as follows.
First, the Colts don't allow many rushing touchdowns (just five so far) and the Rams don't score many (just two—both by Stacy last week).
Second, with Andrew Luck at quarterback, the Colts could run away and hide early, negating the run.
The good thing to remember when starting Stacy is that he is involved in the passing game as well as the ground attack. In addition to his 127-yard outing against the Titans, Stacy added six catches for 51 yards.
So if the Rams have to pass, Stacy will be involved.
Keep in mind though that the Rams pass defense is pretty good—they're currently ranked No. 9 in the NFL. They have a good shot at keeping a lid on the Colts offense.
Either way, Stacy is a great play because of how many ways he can be involved. Assume good yards and no touchdowns when you set your lineup—which makes him a decent No. 2 running back.
Any score by him is just icing on the cake.
Sit 'Em: Mike Wallace at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oh, Mike Wallace.
What are the Miami Dolphins and fantasy owners going to do with you?
That six-catch, 82-yard game against the Cincinnati Bengals was such a tease. But you're more often than not a disappointment as anything but a flex option.
And even then you leave us wondering where the points will come from.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a middle-of-the-road team defensively, but they've begun to play some better football.
On occasion, they even use cornerback Darrelle Revis in man coverage.
In the last two weeks, they have held all the wide receivers they faced under 100 yards. They have allowed some touchdowns, but let's be honest—Wallace isn't a touchdown machine.
On top of it, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a hot mess right now. He's thrown for five touchdowns in three games, yes. However, he has also thrown four interceptions in that same span and topped 200 yards only once—and even then, only by eight yards.
Mike Wallace does not have a good situation and isn't performing well anyway. It's not worth the risk against a desperate Tampa Bay defense.
Start 'Em: Andre Ellington vs. Houston Texans
Glory and hallelujah!
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians wants to get rookie Andre Ellington more touches.
While the number totals didn't look pretty until his 154-yard, one-touchdown torching of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8, if you look at the games though, watch his carries and see how he runs, Andre Ellington should have been the lead back weeks ago.
If Arians is truthful about wanting to get Ellington more work—and they should—he should be a great start this weekend.
The Houston Texans are a big fat mess, though they can still play against the run. That said, Ellington is a strong enough runner that he should have some success against them.
Ellington isn't more than a flex until we see more full games from him, but he could be a guy who will be trending upwards.
This week is one where he will start to prove to his patient fantasy GMs what he will do the rest of the way.
Sit 'Em: Steven Jackson vs. Seattle Seahawks
Why is it that running backs show up in Atlanta to play for the Falcons and lose their burst?
Mike Turner kept his for a while, then collapsed.
Now Steven Jackson has arrived and been hurt. Now that he's back, he looks better, but he also looks like he doesn't have the burst he had last season.
The Falcons did a good job blocking for him, which resulted in some decent yards, but Jackson himself didn't look all that fast.
The Seattle Seahawks are a solid defense, just like Carolina is, though they can let the run yards go. But since Matt Ryan is playing below par and lacks a lot of the weapons, so the Seahawks can just focus on the run because it's not likely that the pass is going to beat them.
So we expect the Seahawks run defense to have a bounce-back game and the Falcons offense to continue to misfire—that spells "bench" for Steven Jackson.
Start 'Em: Pierre Garcon at Minnesota Vikings
You can't complain about the Week 9 production of Washington receiver Pierre Garcon. You'll never turn your nose up at 121 yards and a touchdown, right?
The Minnesota Vikings are, as we talked about in the Robert Griffin III slide, a secondary on the ropes due to injury and subpar play.
We expect Griffin to have a very good day.
Who's his favorite receiver?
Well, Garcon has been targeted 89 times so far this year. The next closest? Leonard Hankerson, who has 44 targets.
So we know the answer is Garcon.
Against the Vikings, Garcon is poised for a pretty good day. Start him as a strong No. 2 wide receiver.
Sit 'Em: Hakeem Nicks vs. Oakland Raiders
New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has topped 100 yards once this season.
He has a grand total of zero touchdowns and has not caught 10 balls in a game this season.
Can Hakeem Nicks ball? Absolutely.
Does he want to?
Well, that's a good question.
Because there have been a lot of moments where, to our eyes, he is just trying to get out of this season with his tail intact so he can cash in on a nice free-agent paycheck.
He's still getting targets (he's the second-most targeted receiver on the team), but he's not catching them. Sure, some of it is because Eli Manning is spraying footballs all over the field like it's Call of Duty on his XBox, but some of it is a distinct lack of effort on Nicks' part.
He's let you down almost every week this year.
Don't let him do it to you again this week, even in a good matchup against the Oakland Raiders. Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle will see more of the production than Nicks will.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.