A tweaked hamstring here. A strained groin there. I can tell we’re really getting into the season, because now we’re having to ask ourselves if we think guys are completely healthy. We have to make the decision, “Would you start good Player A at 75 percent against mediocre Player B who’s feeling 100 percent?” The best way I figure out who to start is to look at the practice reports. A guy who has practiced in full for a day or two during the week is probably going to get a full workload. A guy who has been limited all week is probably going to be limited on the field, too.
Limited on the field could mean two things. One, he’s just not going to play enough snaps to put up a good stat line, or two, he’s going to be playing at less than full speed, which makes him easy to cover and hurts his stats as well. Looking at whether a guy practiced in full on Thursday or Friday can help you make your decision on whether or not you want him in your starting lineup. Now, here are the calls for this week of what flex plays should, or shouldn’t, be in your starting lineup.
Andy Dalton is turning into a pretty good quarterback in his second year. He has eight touchdowns in four weeks, and this week he gets a juicy matchup with Miami. The Dolphins are ranked 20th against quarterbacks this year. They’re giving up an average of 317 passing yards and 19 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Dalton and A.J. Green seem to have a good connection. Dalton would be a ‘good call’ for you to put in your starting lineup this week.
Christian Ponder should have an easy time putting up some fantasy points for you this week when Tennessee comes to Minnesota. Ponder has been quiet on the fantasy front, but he has yet to throw an interception this year, which is good since the Titans have only had one interception all season. The Titans are also giving up an average of more than two touchdowns a game, and 293 yards a game. Ponder should have no problem being a ‘good call’ for you this week.
Keep your expectations low for Cam Newton this week. Seattle is ranked first against quarterbacks. While the Seahawks haven’t really faced a running quarterback yet this year, they are holding opposing quarterbacks to an average of 228 passing yards per game. They’ve also only given up two passing touchdowns this season, and one of those was the famous one from a Monday night game a couple of weeks ago. You may have seen the replay. Newton might get you some rushing totals, but if you’re looking for a big game from your quarterback, you need to look elsewhere this week. Newton is a ‘bad call’ for you to start on Sunday.
Someone you definitely don’t want to be starting this week is Jay Cutler. Cutler has thrown six interceptions and only five touchdowns all season. He’s also been sacked 13 times, and in half of his games he has failed to throw for more than 200 yards. The Chicago passing game isn’t looking that great this year, and a second road game in less than seven days is going to be rough. Jacksonville ranks in the middle-of-the-league against the pass, but with Cutler’s performances so far this year, he’s a ‘bad call’ this week and going forward until he turns things around.
If you were worried about Ryan Mathews’ benching in his first real game back since his broken collarbone, and might not want to start him this week, think again. Mathews gets to play against New Orleans and their 31st-ranked defense against running backs. The Saints are giving up an average of 154 rushing yards to running backs, and have given up five total touchdowns to running backs, as well. Mathews should have no problem racking up the points against New Orleans, and he’s a ‘good call’ even if he gets benched again at halftime. He’ll probably need to sit down because he’s been running so much at that point, and that’s a good thing for you.
You don’t want to start Jay Cutler this week, but you definitely do want to start Matt Forte this week. Jacksonville ranks 28th against running backs. Even Donald Brown was able to put up 13 fantasy points against the Jaguars. Forte was said to have rolled his ankle during Monday night’s game but he appeared to power through it and hasn’t missed any practices this week. Forte would be a ‘good call’ for you to finally get into you lineup.
If you need LeSean McCoy to put up big numbers for you this week, you need to think again. The Steelers are ranked fifth against running backs, and both Troy Polamalu and James Harrison will be back in the lineup (which also makes the Pittsburgh defense/special teams a sneaky pickup this week). Pittsburgh has only given up two rushing touchdowns this year, and one of those was a goal line dive by Knowshon Moreno in Week 1. McCoy will likely put up middle-of-the-road numbers this week, but don’t be expecting much more than about 12 points this week.
Andre Brown would also be a ‘bad call’ this week. It appears that Ahmad Bradshaw is back to 100 percent and should take over lead back duties this week. Last week with Bradshaw back in the lineup, Brown was on the field for just nine plays. With rookie David Wilson killing it on returns, odds are that the Giants are going to get him in the backfield soon. Looks like Brown’s fantasy value was limited to just one Week 3 blip of a game.