Tag Archives: Ray Rice

2013: Start ‘em or Sit ‘em Week – Thanksgiving Edition – Week 13

Hello all and Happy Thanksgiving.

Here are some Starts and Sits for todays games.  The rest will follow later tonight and Friday.

Packers at Lions

Sit ’em – WR Kris Durham:  He was a nice story, but now that Nate Burleson is back and getting targets, his value takes a huge hit.  There are plenty of WR options out there and this is the time to employ one of them.

Sit ’em – : Packers Defense- They aren’t the worst start of the week, certainly. As a defense they get to the QB, but they give up a good amount of yards and points.  They are a Def2 at best.  If you have that other defense, this is the time to play them. Oh, and they are playing the Lions with the 7th ranked offense in Detroit.

Raiders at Cowboys

Start ’em RB Rashard Jennings – Ride the hot hand!  This Dallas defense is terrible and gave up over 200 yards to a Giants team that is average at running the ball.  The Raiders are 4th in the league  in rushing.  Dallas is 30th in defending the run.  I still can’t believe I am writing this, but start Jennings and feel good about it.

Steelers at Ravens

Start ’em – Steelers Defense:  This is a bit of a sneaky play this week, but let me explain.  The Ravens are 27th in the league in Rushing and 29th overall in offense.  They are inconsistent at best.  The Steelers are playing much better as of late.  The Steelers are a match up play.  If you have another defense with a great match up, go with that.  If you have the Steelers and are debating on what to do, consider this match up today.

Football Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

– The Art of Score

2013: Start ‘em or Sit ‘em Week 12

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

2013: Start ‘em or Sit ‘em Week 9

As teams go through their bye weeks – so do we here at the artofscore.  With Ron’s vacation underway, our rollout schedule is a little behind.  So for this week, we’ll get you the Starts and Sits before Sunday, but *this page will be updated throughout the weekend as we complete matchup analysis*.

As always we try to stick away from the obvious “start Calvin Johnson” etc, but we are always open to fielding specific lineup questions if you leave them in the comments below.

Bengals vs Dolphins

Sit ’em WR Marvin Jones – I know, I know….what?!!! He just scored 4 td’s in a game?  You guys recommended picking him up weeks ago, and you’re very proud of that fact.  Both those statements are true, but so is this one…it’s likely that was Marvin Jones’ highest fantasy output of his entire career, let alone the 2013 season.  And this isn’t a strict bench advisory if you’ve got some WR 3 issues or bye issues, but this is a warning to temper expectations.  Thursday night games have a way of being  sloppy and low scoring- which isn’t the best environment for a guy that plays on the outside. He and Dalton have been heating up, but something is warning me this is a game where he dips and maybe is even held out of the endzone for the 1st time in 3 weeks.  I mean don’t start him just because you didn’t last week and got burned- it’s not going to happen to that degree again. I think a realistic expectation for him is around 5 catches for 65 yards and no score – which may be passable for you depending on what your situation is…but I’m cautioning against Marvin as a “must start” this week, he may have problems tonight.

Start ’em TE Tyler Eifert: Lost in the breakout that was Marvin Jones’ 4 TD reception day, was another near miss TD by Eifert.  Eifert is a guy that I think should be a potential star and for fantasy purposes the only thing holding him from top 5-10 Te status this year has been his infrequent targets by Andy Dalton.  I am hesitant to recommend Eifert regularly,  because Dalton usually looks his way less than 6 times a game,  but I just have a good feeling about him in what generally are sloppy Thursday night affairs. In these types of lower scoring games reliable TE’s usually see their target increase.  The Dolphins d is just 20th against the pass this season,  and I don’t see anyone being a matchup equal for Eifert’s big frame.

Sit ’em RB Lamar Miller: I like Miller more than most, and he has been averaging close to 5 yards per carry his last 2 weeks.  But the Bengals have the league’s 8th best run defense – allowing opponents under 4 YPC on average.  Miller may get some additional pass receptions in this one, but over 70 combined yards from scrimmage seems unlikely – and he probably won’t find the endzone either.   In no way is he a RB2 this week, and he may have problems being a solid flex or RB3 play.  I’d start him over guys like Peyton Hillis, Mike James, or Willis Mcgahee – but I’d also feel free to take a risk on some guys like Chris Ivory or teammate WR Rishard Matthews as a flex. Miller’s outlook seems pretty pedestrian.

Chiefs at Bills

Sit ’em RB CJ Spiller: This is my 2nd straight week of advising to bench CJ, and this week it looks like he really will get some playing time.   The problem is no one knows what sort of workload CJ is capable of at this point and he is the poster child for fantasy frustration this season. Particularly aggravating is that even when healthy Spiller cedes carries to Fred Jackson near the goalline, and I can’t imagine he sees more than 10-12 total touches in this game against a fairly stout (10th in the NFL for rush defense) Kansas City Defense.  I see Spiller’s upside as 6-8 points, which is generally disappointing for a fantasy starting RB.  Spiller owners who have a shot at the playoffs should hold Spiller on their bench until he shows he is healthy – those of you with only outside playoff hopes it may be time to start shopping him to owners that believe he will reboound.  I don’t see Spiller as a real fantasy factor for another 2-3 weeks.

Start ’em WR Dexter McCluster – McCluster’s career has been so inconsistent that I almost feel like the Chiefs were trolling us for a few seasons there.  He’s a RB, no he’s a slot WR, no he’s a punt returner, a wildcat QB, etc, etc, etc….McCluster is an above average talent, with a below average frame – so unlocking his true potential has been very difficult over his 1st 3 seasons.  I say strike while the iron is hot here.  In his past 2 games McCluster has around 140 total yards and a TD, which means he’s clearly in the gameplan weekly for KC.  Buffalo has the league’s 26th overall defense which should mean opportunities for McCluster to find space – and he becomes a solid flex choice this week.   McCluster has a history of disappearing (injuries, fumble issues) so he may not be worth starting for long – but he is trending upwards right now, which can help your team.

Falcons at Panthers

Sit ’em Steven Jackson: Jackson didn’t look completely healthy last week in his 1st game back since the 2nd week of the season.  In fact an 11 carry for 6 yard performance looks downright nasty. We remarked in the preseason how Jackson looked very slow and hurt, and we had hoped it was just a veteran going through those preseason “I have to be out here” motions.  Well he looks like that again, and against a Carolina team that ranks 2nd in the NFL against the rush he should find a seat on your fantasy bench.   Jackson will be very fantasy useful down the stretch, and I love the player – but like Spiller, he’s just not there yet.

Start ’em WR Ted Ginn:  This might be the riskiest of my advice this week, but I can’t help myself.  Ginn can be a devastating weapon when Cam Newton looks for him – and if Cam involved him in the game plan weekly you’d be looking at a solid fantasy WR2 option.  Unfortunately Cam likes to feed the mouth that is WR Steve Smith, and the Carolina running game, and some weeks even TE Greg Olsen – all before Ginn.  So you look over Ginn’s season and you see things like 10 yards,  60 yards and a TD, 70 yards and a TD, 70 yards,  20 yards, 30 yards, 80 yards….it’s pretty maddening.  In non PPR leagues Ginn is a top 30WR, averaging around 9 points a game….it’s just that those duds in between scare you off.  Against the Falcons who should keep the pressure on scoring wise, I think you start Ginn this week and he gives you a nice performance.  Just be aware of the disappearing risk.

Vikings at Cowboys

Start ’em RB Demarco Murray: I’ve never been a huge fan of Murray’s talent level,  but after watching the Dallas running game in his 2 week absence (RB Joseph Randle under 2 YPC) – it’s clear the team needs him.  Hopefully Murray’s return frees up Tony Romo to play better, as Romo has also somewhat underperformed without the real threat of the run.  I predict a heavy workload for Murray this week against a bad Vikings defense – so start him without hesitation this week.

Sit ’em all Vikings other than AP: And you likely weren’t going to start any of them anyway, but with the news that QB Josh Freeman is probably back under center in this one you can’t take a chance on any of the WR’s or on Kyle Rudolph.  This is a real shame, because the Cowboys pass defense is very susceptible to giving up all sorts of fantasy yardage, but the Vikings are the league’s 29th ranked offensive team – and they now have a QB controversy (reports are emerging that the locker room is behind Ponder as the starter).  Only the Rams and the Buccaneers are worse run NFL franchises right now-especially on offense (yes Jacksonville I’m giving you props up to 4th worst).

Saints at Jets

Start ’em RB Chris Ivory: Ivory burned me last week with a start recommendation, but that was against a stout Bengals run d. The Saints run defense is only 19th in the league right now, and Ivory appears these last 2 games to have finally (8 weeks into the season- when he was supposed to be the lead back in Week 1) won the early down role for the Jets. One factor from last week’s  game that worries me a little is that the Bengals were able to get up on them 14-0 in the 1st 3 drives of the game – which regulated the amount of time the Jets could even think about trying to run the ball.  The Saints offense could put the Jets in a similar situation again, but you have to think very early it will be about ball control with the Jets – and the Saints run defense is not near the level of Cincy to make the early stops.  I like Ivory this week as a high RB3 possibly even RB2, this might finally be the game he puts together yardage and a TD.  The Jets should be nice enough to try to get him in the endzone against his old team.

Sit ’em WR Marques Colston: Name value aside it’s very arguable that Colston should even be on a fantasy roster in standard size leagues.  You either keep starting him as a flex, or a bye week guy – or more hopefully, stashing him on the bench waiting desperately for something that looks like his 1st month of the season where at least he was getting 60 yards.  Colston may not be done as a player in the league, but something is wrong with him.  And the Saints have picked up on it -in his last 3 games Colston has yet to break 20 total yards!  While Colston used to be the 1st or 2nd option in the passing game he’s now clearly behind Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, and then depending on the week Stills, Meachem, or Moore are also stealing looks.  Colston’s a better player than his output, but with the Saints philosophy already being to spread the ball around – and Colston clearly not a redzone priority (1 TD all season) – you can’t start him with any confidence.  I keep him on my roster for now, but if he posts his 4th straight game under 20 yards (even under 40) he becomes someone I look at for freeing up a roster spot.

Titans at Rams

Start ’em RB Zac Stacy:  I still think Benny Cunningham (out with injury these last 2 weeks) may be the better RB, but I have to tip my cap to Zac.  With Kellen Clemens as no real threat to anyone, somehow Stacy ran all over Seattle last week for 134 yards and a 5.2 ypc!  In 4 games since being named the starter Stacy has surpassed 70 total yards each time, and if he can somehow add a TD to that average you’ve got a mid-level fantasy RB2.  Stacy was banged up a little this week with a foot injury, but he’s been practicing and make no doubt he knows he can put a stranglehold on this job very soon.  The Titans are just 24th against the rush- so even though Clemens presents zero threat, and the rest of the Rams skill position players are among the most worthless in the entire league, and he’s a little hurt – Stacy is still a great option this weekend.

Start ’em RB Chris Johnson: This is just a vote of confidence to you Johnson owners. I know the news came out of Tennessee this week that they want to get Shonn Greene more involved (the Titans comical mismanagement on offense has them threatening the bottom Vikings, Rams, and Bucs) but let’s face it Chris Johnson doesn’t need a lot of typical rushing touches to be productive.  Last week against a good Niners d he only ran for 39 yards (on a semi respectable 4.3 average), but he still added 71 yards and a TD to that total with his receiving totals.  The Rams run d in prime time against Marshawn Lynch looked good last week – but remember the Seattle OL is very depleted right now, and overall the Rams rank just 22nd against the run for the season.  Don’t let the hype – either from the Titans, or the Rams d scare you off of Johnson for 2013 – he’s going to be a very good player for your team.

Chargers at Redskins

Start ’em RB Ryan Matthews: You would think there would be fantasy points galore in this game.  Neither defense is any good at making stops, and both offenses have decent if not superstar point producers.  I want to highlight Matthews for the Chargers, as his previous 2 games he went over 100 yards rushing and then got the bye to rest up.  We know Matthews history: injuries and fumbles.  Well he’s healthy right now and starting to run red hot against the 30th ranked Redskins run defense he’s a high end RB2 and absolutely a better play this week than some guys with better historical reputations like Steven Jackson or even Chris Johnson.

Start ’em WR Pierre Garcon:  Garcon, like RG3 has been a bit of a disappointment this season.  He still makes crazy catches and accelerates well after them, but as he put it best “We suck right now at passing”.   He’s been held without a TD for 3 straight games and has only broken the 60 yard barrier once in his last 4 games.  But, we know the drill with WR’s: complain and teams will usually try to force feed you the ball.  Against good defenses this could be a problem, but against the Chargers 26th ranked pass defense it’s likely Pierre gets his long awaited breakout week.  I’m not saying to expect the insane 143 and a TD he put up in week 2, but I would think he’ll be a redzone target this week for certain.  So if you’ve recently taken him out of your WR rotation b/c you’re sick of looking at him put up 6 points or so – now is the time to get him back in as a high WR2 this weekend.

Eagles at Raiders

Sit ’em QB Terrelle Pryor:  I know he just rushed for the longest TD in league history by a QB. But if someone from the Steelers makes a tackle after say 40 yards what kind of day are we talking about fantasy wise?  And that’s the thing, I feel like Pryor is on about 14:58 of his 15mins of spotlight.  His passing #’s over his last 2 games are hovering around a pathetic 52% completion percentage and he has 1 TD vs 5 Int’s during that span.  Pryor can’t really pass at the NFL level, and teams are starting to adjust to this, once his rushing yards drop to a semi-normal 40-50 yards per game you’re going to wind up with a below average fantasy QB (and a terrible real life QB).  We have probably made more wrong calls about Pryor being hot or cold than any other player all season, but I just don’t know how you can feel good about starting this guy right now.  Sure if you’re faced between a Case Keenum or a Jason Cambell, Pryor’s homerun upside is worth it, but against any midlevel producer like Alex Smith or Russel Wilson- I’m taking the safer guys all the time.

Start ’em WR Riley Cooper: In the 2 games prior to Nick Foles getting a concussion Cooper had over 200 yards and a TD.   Foles may be a little slow coming back from his injury (thus why I can’t go all in on him this week), but Cooper will still be one of his favorite targets when he gets back under center this week.  I feel like if Foles can stay healthy that duo will surprise folks down the stretch of this season – it’s not so much that Cooper is extremely talented, so much as it is that Foles is capable of involving his secondary WR options much better than Vick – or the insanely terrible Matt Barkley could ever be. Cooper makes a nice WR3 or very low end flex play this week – with a trend I think to be a very solid option in weeks to come.  70-80 yards could be a very reasonable expectation for him this weekend.

Buccaneers at Seahawks

Sit all Buccaneers except WR Vincent Jackson: And the only reason you can’t sit Jackson is because Glennon’s targets him at such a high volume there’s a nice chance for garbage production.   I like Glennon’s development but he’s not ready for Seattle’s 2nd overall defense in their own building – so this eliminates any of the passing game players (save Jackson and you have to expect a reduced day for him), and rookie RB Mike James has yet to break 60 total yards since stepping in for Doug Martin.  Our own Ron Brown will be there in person this weekend to lend his screaming voice to the throng – so there’s even other reason to bench your Bucs.

Start ’em QB Russell Wilson: No way around it, Wilson’s been a fantasy disappointment this season – with his OL beat up, Percy Harvin not available, and a run heavy gameplan, Wilson is probably hovering around the 10th-15th scoring QB in your league (which is not great in 12 team leagues).  I say don’t get too discouraged or overthink it, Wilson against lesser opponents is still a good- to-great starting option.  The loss of Sidney Rice for the season doesn’t worry me too much, because let’s face it Sidney Rice has been “just a guy” for 3 seasons now – Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse can handle that level of production.  Wilson will have a nice day against a below average Buccaneers pass defense, and he’s a clear start to me if you’re choosing between 2 QB’s and don’t have an elite guy this weekend.

Ravens at Browns

Sit ’em RB Ray Rice: Rice is quickly approaching RB3 level which is not something you want when talking about someone that was taken in the 1st round this summer.  The good news for a down season is that Rice has had an occasionally excellent week (like Week 5 vs Miami 102 total yards and 2 TD’s), and he’s had a bye week to get some much needed rest.   But here’s the bad news – Rice’s current season’s YPC is a horrific 2.8, and he has just 3 total TD’s through 7 games.  Rice looks like the “oldest” 26 year old to ever play the game,  and looks slow and beat up.  Some of  this is the general failure of Baltimore to run at all, as the younger and larger Bernard Pierce has also struggled.  It got so bad the team even brought in Beanie Wells for a change of pace (and poor Wells tore his ACL during the workout!) If your team can only start 2 RB’s and you have 3 options – Rice is a sit against tough matchups nowadays, if you have a flex spot or an RB3 you probably still have to take a chance most weeks with Rice – but it’s not looking like a dramatic turn around is imminent.  The Browns have a decent 11th ranked run defense and I’m no longer convinced that against a team of this level that Rice is a “must start”.  Consider other options this week.

Sit ’em RB Willis McGahee: Speaking of old and beat up, here’s a guy that’s actually both.  The Browns are sort of shuffling their backfield around constantly- and this combined with McGahee’s achy knees has resulted in him only getting an average of 9-12 touches a week.  Willis is simply not at the stage of his career where he can really produce with so few opportunities, and he doesn’t appear to be able to handle a 20+ touch workload (they did it once with 26 carries in week 5, and he hasn’t been able to recover).  I had hope McGahee would develop into a low end RB2 this season, but it looks like that hope is expiring quickly, and currently he’s a very low end RB3, and probably not an option if you have a flex spot (def not in PPR).  Keep him rostered for a few more weeks to see if he can get his workload back to normal for a starting RB, but keep him on your bench until he can cross that 15 carry mark.

Steelers at Patriots

Start ’em RB Steven Ridley – Few things in fantasy this year have been more perplexing to me than Ridley’s recent run to fantasy relevance.  Through his 1st 5 games of the season Ridley looked terrible running for over 50 yards just 1 time, and getting 0 Td’s.  He looked DONE.  TOAST.  EL FINITO.  Owners probably couldn’t dump him because he was likely drafted in the 1st 3 rounds of your league’s fantasy draft, and you were counting on him.  Well, inexplicably Ridley has rewarded any patience shown to him – as over his last 3 games he hasn’t once totaled under 50 yards, while piling up 4 Td’s.  Pittsburgh’s run defense – usually a hallmark, is well below average this season at 27th overall.  So continue to rely on Ridley this week as a RB2, and be glad the Pats have worked him back into their gamplans.  (IF YOU WANTED A GRONKOWSKI VERDICT = IF HE PLAYS YOU START HIM)

Colts at Texans

Start ’em RB Ben Tate: And here I am recommending a guy with 4 broken ribs, what a fantasy season this has been.  The Colts have a terrible run defense, (29th in NFL) and with Case Keenum as your QB – you have to think the Texans will try to establish the run.  Arian Foster (gametime decision), if he suits up will at best get 50% of the workload as (hopefully) the Texans won’t push him on a bad hamstring.  Even injured, and even if his workload is capped Tate makes a nice play this week as a flex, or even a very low end RB2.  I mean if you’ve owned Tate at all in your fantasy life you know that these are the types of conditions and matchups that you wait all year to play him in.  His points could fluctuate anywhere between 6-20, so as an upside lotto pick he is probably worth it over your bench full of under-producers or bye week starters.

 

:by Mike