Several studs are on a bye this week as the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets and Houston Texans rest. I’ll serve you up plenty of options to fill in those positions with solid matchups to survive the byes and continue to dominate your league.
When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:
1) Studs – Always play your studs. Each position will include a list of players that are considered studs and should not be benched. If you have the luxury of needing to decide between studs, check out the matchups or feel free to let the shark tank assist you in your decision.
2) Depth – Every fantasy team is different and some have more depth than others. Only follow the recommended moves if your team depth allows you to make such a move.
Bye Weeks: Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Peyton Manning, Mark Sanchez, Matt Schaub
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs. New England
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs. Minnesota
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Cleveland
Tony Romo, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants
Tom Brady, New England at San Diego
Jay Cutler, Chicago vs. Washington: Cutler has been taking a beating for Chicago getting sacked nine times against the New York Giants in Week 4 and six times last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Despite the six sacks last week, Cutler still managed to throw for 290 yards. Look for the Bears and Cutler to continue to be a pass-heavy offense which will mean lots of stats against the Redskins this week, who have allowed an average of 298 yards per game this season.
Chad Henne, Miami vs. Pittsburgh: If you’re looking for a bye week replacement, don’t shy away from Henne. Yes, he’s facing the Steelers, but Pittsburgh’s defense has defended the run much better than the pass this season. The Steelers are No. 1 against the run allowing only 63.8 yards per game, but they rank 24th in passing yards allowed. Henne has thrown for an average of 300 yards over the past three weeks with two touchdowns in each game against some formidable defenses (New York Jets, New England, Green Bay). Henne will surprise you this week at home against Pittsburgh.
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants at Dallas: Manning has thrown five touchdowns over the past two games, but considering the opposing defenses (Houston, Detroit), he should have had success. Manning won’t have such an easy time against the Cowboys, who are playing essentially a must-win game and they have allowed the fourth fewest passing yards in the NFL this season. Look for the Giants to lean heavy on the running game as Manning has a quiet day.
Kerry Collins/Vince Young, Tennessee vs. Philadelphia: With Young dealing with both an ankle and knee injury, Collins could very well get the starting nod against the Eagles this week. Whether Collins or Young starts, neither quarterback is expected to have much success against the Eagles. Philadelphia is tied for fourth in the league in defensive interceptions with nine and they are also fifth in the NFL in sacks with 18 on the season. The Titans will call Chris Johnson’s number all day long as the passing game struggles mightily.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia at Tennessee
Frank Gore, San Francisco at Carolina
Chris Johnson, Tennessee vs. Philadelphia
Matt Forte, Chicago vs. Washington
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota at Green Bay
Ray Rice, Baltimore vs. Buffalo
Steven Jackson, St. Louis at Tampa Bay
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville at Kansas City
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Cincinnati
Knowshon Moreno, Denver vs. Oakland: Moreno posted 48 yards in his first game since Week 2 due to a hamstring injury. The Broncos have desperately needed a running game and the return of Moreno combined with the matchup of the Raiders, who are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, should be enough to get fantasy owner’s attention. Look for Kyle Orton and the Broncos’ offense to enjoy something he hasn’t had all season this week: a running game.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City vs. Jacksonville: Charles continues to get more action each week as the number of carries and receptions combined have increased each of the past four weeks (12, 15, 19, 20). Look for Charles to get another 16-20 carries along with 5-7 catches this week which should translate into solid numbers against a Jaguars’ defense that was exposed on Monday night big time.
Michael Bush, Oakland at Denver: The hamstring of Darren McFadden is still not close to 100 percent. Check the injury reports later in the week, but if McFadden sits again, Bush should improve on his 47 yards on 20 carries against the 49ers. The Broncos have allowed an average of 127.7 yards rushing per game including seven rushing touchdowns which is tied for the most in the NFL. Keep Bush in mind as a solid bye week replacement.
Brandon Jackson, Green Bay vs. Minnesota: With all the injuries in Green Bay and 168 yards rushing in the past two games, you may be thinking it’s time to dust off Jackson from your bench and give him a chance. Well, think again. The Vikings are the best run defense Jackson has faced since he played the Bears back in Week 3 when he rushed for 12 yards on seven carries. With Aaron Rodgers recovered from the concussion he suffered in Week 5, the Packers will rely on the passing game limiting Jackson’s chances.
Ronnie Brown, Miami vs. Pittsburgh: What’s the deal with Brown this season? He was on pace for an incredible season last year when he was injured after nine games. This season, he’s been invisible in the passing game, he barely runs the wildcat, and Ricky Williams has rushed for more yards (120) than Brown (100) in the last two games combined. The Dolphins’ running game won’t have much success against the top-ranked Steelers’ run defense, so you would be wise to keep Brown on your bench.
Ryan Torain, Washington at Chicago: Torain had a big game last week rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. This week, he faces a much tougher matchup and he left last week’s game with an apparent knee injury. Don’t expect much from Torain this week despite last week’s outburst.
Brandon Lloyd, Denver vs. Oakland
Roddy White, Atlanta vs. Cincinnati
Hakeem Nicks, N.Y. Giants at Dallas
Miles Austin, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore vs. Buffalo
Brandon Marshall, Miami vs. Pittsburgh
Wes Welker, New England at San Diego
Randy Moss, Minnesota at Green Bay
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia at Tennessee: With the injury to DeSean Jackson last week, Maclin was the lead receiver and posted seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns. As Jackson is expected to miss this week’s game, Maclin becomes the main man and Kevin Kolb’s favorite target. The Titans have not defended the passing game well this season, so be prepared to see Maclin’s name atop the wide receivers for some time now.
Johnny Knox, Chicago vs. Washington: Knox finally had the breakout game his owners have been waiting for against the Seahawks as he caught five passes for 120 yards. Knox still hasn’t found the end zone this season, but that’s about to change. Look for the Cutler- Knox combination to be one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos this week as Knox breaks 100 yards for the second straight week and scores at least once against the Redskins.
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati at Atlanta: ‘T.O.’ has posted huge numbers the last two weeks catching 17 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. The double-teams will continue on Chad Ochocinco as he is still the better receiver, but Owens will continue to make defenses pay. Look for another solid game from Owens as the Bengals’ running game will struggle, but Carson Palmer will have success in the air finding Owens open often.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City vs. Jacksonville: There’s been a Bowe sighting! Bowe emerged from the depths of the briny deep to catch six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns last week. Granted, it was against the Houston Texans, but it was impressive nonetheless. Look for Bowe to post another solid game against a Jaguars’ defense that did nothing on Monday night against the Tennessee Titans.
Roy Williams, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants: Between the five touchdowns and a two-game stretch of 85-plus receiving yards in each game, Williams has been a pleasant surprise this season. However, you can’t rely on touchdowns in the fantasy world. You need to put your money on those receivers that consistently catch passes and post yardage. Unfortunately, Williams hasn’t done either of those things consistently this season. The Dallas offense will need to focus on the short yardage plays to counteract the Giants pressure this week. Williams will probably post numbers in the 3-5 catches, 40-50 yard range, but those are not stats worthy of a start.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota at Green Bay: Harvin’s biggest contribution to his fantasy owners last week came with a kickoff return for a touchdown. While putting the ball in the hands of playmakers as often as possible is a good thing, I’d like to see Harvin more involved in the passing game until I anoint him as someone I place in my lineup every week regardless of the matchup. This week, the Vikings face the Packers, who are tied for second in the league in sacks with 21 this season. If they can get to Brett Favre, that’s bad news for the Vikings and Harvin. Consider all of your options this week before automatically placing Harvin in your lineup.
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. San Francisco: Smith returns from a bye week with the same injured ankle and the same lousy passing game. It’s unlikely Smith suits up this week, but if he does, don’t take the bait.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville at Kansas City: Who is the top receiver in Jacksonville? You guessed it, Mike Thomas. Sims-Walker has eight catches for 96 yards in the past four games combined. Buh-bye, ‘MSW.’ You’re waiver wire fodder.
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. New England
Zach Miller, Oakland at Denver
Vernon Davis, San Francisco at Carolina
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta vs. Cincinnati
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville at Kansas City: Despite the question marks at quarterback for the Jaguars, Lewis has been the most consistent receiver on the team. He has five touchdowns this season and he should find plenty of openings against a Chiefs’ defense that has allowed opposing tight ends an average of four catches for 52 yards on the season. Lewis should surpass those totals easily this week.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia at Tennessee: Celek should also benefit from the absence of DeSean Jackson in the Eagles’ game. So far this season, Celek’s highest reception total is four and his highest yardage total is 47. Celek will see plenty of action against the Redskins, who have allowed an opposing tight end to score in three of their six games this season.
Ben Watson, Cleveland at New Orleans: Watson had a big game last week catching six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. The Browns’ offense is less than stellar with Colt McCoy at quarterback and Watson cannot be relied on to produce these kind of stats on a regular basis. Don’t expect lightning to strike twice in the same place.
Bo Scaife, Tennessee vs. Philadelphia: Scaife gets your attention a few times each year and then he quickly fades back into the rest of the pack. It’s worth noting his 4-catch, 53-yard, one-touchdown performance last week. Since that is now done, it’s time to move on.