The playoff pushes for fantasy football have already begun, and now more than ever the pressure to decide who’ll be in your starting lineup weekly is going to build exponentially. We’ve had a pretty good start and sit record this season -especially considering all of the players that have come out of nowhere (some who have faded equally as quickly).
So we present the following recommendations with the hopes that you’ll find something useful for your stretch runs. We’ll try to avoid the more obvious decisions and give you options that maybe you weren’t thinking about, or steer you away from emotional decisions based on all too recent streaks. As always if you have a question about a specific start/sit, get ahold of us we’ll be happy to help you out.
Saints at Falcons
Start ’em WR Marques Colston – Earlier in the season Colston was hurt and playing so terrible, that not only did he make Robert Meachem relevant, but we here at the Art of Score suggested it might be time you cut him. Well, Colston is back…sort of, over his last 2 games he’s produced 187 yards and 1 TD. More importantly his targets have been at 6 or higher for 3 straight weeks now- and this means that he’s firmly back on the Brees’ radar. Colston’s days as a #1 fantasy WR are probably over, but he makes a nice low end WR2 or Flex play tonight against a Falcons team that is mailing it in. I’m not advocating stardom for the rest of Colston’s 2013, but he does appear to be a fantasy starter you can use down the stretch. 80 and a Td could be well within his reach this game.
Sit ’em QB Matt Ryan – Ryan’s team has been disappointing, and he has very few healthy weapons – so it’s likely not the type of year you, or he thought he would have. Ryan’s last 3 games have produced 4 TD’s against 5 interceptions and he has cracked 250 yards just once in that time. Without Julio Jones, even a recovering Roddy White isn’t enough to guarantee Ryan produces weekly – and against the Saints’ 3rd overall pass defense he’s too risky to start. I’m not advocating you do something crazy like starting QB Matt McGloin over him this week, but if you have a reasonable backup QB like Big Ben or Eli – I would yank Mr Ryan from your starting lineup.
Jets at Ravens
Sit ’em RB Ray Rice: I know, I know we advised this last week and he had his best game of the season with 131 yards rushing and a TD. That was also against the Bears’ 31st ranked rushing defense, and the ONLY time Rice has even had his combined yardage go over 100 on the season! You want to try and sell me on the fact that he’s healthier now than he was earlier in the year, fine I’ll bite – a little, more like a nibble, more like a sample bite that I spit in a napkin really – but I’ll go with you at least as far as to say maybe they’ll be a week or 2 down this stretch that Rice will reward you for your pick. But, it’s not going to be this week folks. The Jets have the best run defense in the NFL, they just played a game where they limited fellow disappointment RB CJ Spiller to 6 yards on 13 carries, and for the 2nd time this season held him under 10 yards!! They grounded the Bills rushing game under 80 yards total – and that was in a blowout that they lost. If you have a RB on your bench that can get you 5 points or over, that guy is the call this week over Ray. Now is not the time to get caught up in a feel good rebound week, bench him and look at it again next week.
Start ’em WR Santonio Holmes: This can be your risky upside Wr3 play this week, or potentially desperation flex play. Before his injury in Week 4, Holmes looked to have developed real chemistry with Geno Smith and showed glimpses of his old WR1 potential. Holmes had 71 yards last week in what was probably Smith’s worst game as a pro, so he’s clearly got the potential to produce even in this ramshackle offense. It’s true those 71 yards came on only 2 catches, but it’s also true he was targeted 8 times. He’s a much better play than Dolly Parton sized bust Stephen Hill, and with Kerley (arguably the team’s best WR this year) sidelined with his own injury issues – Holmes is the only game in town. My bet is the Ravens’ 11th ranked run defense loads up to slow Ivory and Powell – and Geno is forced to throw. It could still be ugly for Geno, but good for Holmes – like it was last week. Take a chance as I’m betting on Holmes for 7-10 points this week in standard Non-PPR leagues.
Steelers at Browns
Sit ’em TE Jordan Cameron: Cameron has had a nice year, well above expectations, but the shine is starting to come off your new TE toy. In his last 5 games Cameron’s targets have dropped from an average of about 10 targets a game to about 5 targets. Granted some weeks like 2 weeks ago his 4 targets for 81 yards can still be very productive – but the truth is QB Jason Campbell does not have Jordan on his mind the same way Weeden and Hoyer did earlier in the season. You want to tell me Pittsburgh has a bad pass defense, and that maybe the Browns will refocus Cameron into the offense this week? That’s fine and perfectly plausible, but I think fringe guys like Coby Fleener, Garret Graham, and Delaine Walker could all outproduce him this weekend.
Start ’em RB Chris Ogbonnaya: I didn’t really believe the Browns would feature Ogbonnaya last week when I bet against him. But against a tough Bengals’ defense he did manage to get 99 combined rushing and receiving yards. Now he also had a costly fumble, which was returned for a TD – so I don’t know how long his leash will be (get it? Browns = Dawg Pound = leash? eh, eh?), but there’s no denying his 14 total touches last game is a positive sign. Pittsburgh’s defense is leaky, and their offense scores – so points may fly in this one, you’re going to want a RB that catches passes. Ogbonnaya makes a high level flex play this weekend.
Buccaneers @ Lions
Start ’em RB Bobby Rainey: Be careful here, I’m saying that as much to myself as to any of you. I liked Rainey coming out, and I thought his big chance would come when he was traded to Cleveland. But the Browns thought waking Willis McGahee up from his crypt was a better idea, and when Rainey wound up in Tampa well I figured that was the end of it. 2 injuries later and we’re talking about him coming off a 30 carry 163 yard 2 Td performance!! Rainey is talented no question, and hopefully the Bucs are smart enough to ride the hot hand here. However, don’t get yourselves too worked up about Rainey in the short term, or the long term. Long term the Bucs are not a great landing place for him with Martin and James ahead of him, and short term – he really will be a matchup play I think. Now the Lions are 5th in the NFL against the run, but that can be a little misleading because Rainey is capable of participating in the passing game where the Lions are a pathetic 30th. I think you have to start Rainey, but as much as I want to sound the horn to charge like a late season DeAngelo Williams circa November of 2008…I can’t recommend him yet as anything more than a low Rb2, or solid flex, until I see proof the Bucs won’t screw this up with Brian Leonard. Start him over a disappointing player like Ray Rice this weekend – but let’s wait and see if he returns to earth a little.
Panthers at Dolphins
Start ’em – Panthers D: They are playing well and going against a depleted Dolphins line. I don’t think they go crazy, but there is no need to bench them this week. Don’t overthink it. Play the Panthers D and expect positive results.
Sit ’em – RB Daniel Thomas: Thomas is a power back and this type of running doesn’t match up well with the strong front 7 of the Panthers. Lamar Miller is the better play but only marginally better. If you start him it’s out of pure desperation.
Bears at Rams
Start ’em – RB Zac Stacy: The Zach Attack is back. Follow my logic here. Ravens were last in the league in rushing last week. Last week they ran for 174 yards against the Bears. They are God-awful against the run. That might change once Briggs gets back, but as of now start any running back against the Bears. Anyone that says their D is playing well is living of the myth of yesteryear.
Colts at Cardinals
Sit ’em – RB Trent Richardson: He is averaging 2.8 yards a carry since coming over from Cleveland. 2.8 yards a carry! He has no vision. He runs into the line. I mean he runs hard, but there is a lot more to an NFL RB than just running hard. Trent your trend is bent; downward.
Sit ’em – RB Rashad Mendenhall: He has done nothing all season. Yes, he gets 10 carries a game. I get it. He does nothing with those carries. Start someone else.
Titans at Raiders
Start ’em – RB Rashad Jennings: Am I crazy? Maybe. Consider this, Titans have the 19th best rushing defense. The Raiders have the 5th best rushing Offense. He will also still get carries even if McFadden plays. He also ran well the past two weeks. That smells like a Flex start to me.
Cowboys at Giants
Start ’em – WR Ruben Randle: He has been playing well. The Dallas defense is one of the worst…things… I have ever seen. It’s embarrassing. Dallas will play and has been playing a lot of cover 3. Underneath routes should be open and Randle has a game worthy of a WR2.
Sit ’em – RB Demarco Murray: Giants run D has been playing well. Look at the past 4 games and you will see that. The Cowboys can’t/don’t want to run the ball. Bombs away. Start Murray if you have to, but be forewarned. In reality you don’t need a warning. If you have owned him all season, you know how disappointing he has been.
Broncos at Patriots
Start ’em – RB Shane Vereen: Bye week Troubles? Start Vereen in your flex and you will be cured. He will tear up PPR leagues the rest of the year. No reason to sit this guy at all. He is the kind of guy who can get on a role and carry your RB2 or Flex through out the playoff push.
49ers at Redskins
Sit ’em – QB Colin Kaepernick: Colin, buddy, I know the ‘Skins defense isn’t very good. But, the reality of the situation is that you are playing terrible. This is a get right game for you. There is no reason you should have a bad game here, but I don’t trust you. I’ll take the sure points with another QB. As I said, he should have a big game, but there is a lot of risk here.
*more to come*
-Mike and Ron