It’s week ten and that means two things: 1) Thursday night games begin. There is at least one Thursday game every week between weeks 10 and 16 so check the schedule closely. 2) This is the final week of byes. Last week, it was the stud RBs on a bye. This week it’s the stud QBs with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers watching from home. Survive this week and you’re full strength the rest of season with the fantasy playoffs just a few short weeks away.
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 decisions.
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.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati
Matt Schaub, Houston vs. Jacksonville
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants vs. Dallas
Tom Brady, New England vs. Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh vs. New England
Kyle Orton, Denver vs. Kansas City: Orton returns from his bye week to face the Chiefs which marks the first of three games in the next four weeks against AFC West foes. Orton has faced only one AFC West opponent this year (Oakland in week 7) and that game was his worst of the season. Don’t fret Orton owners, the Chiefs are much more forgiving defensively than the Raiders. While Denver has Knowshon Moreno healthy again, the Broncos’ offense is dominated by the passing game. Look for Orton to air it out against the Chiefs who have defended the run much better than the pass this season.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore vs. Atlanta: Although you haven’t seen Flacco’s name atop the leaderboard in many leagues the last few weeks, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been impressive. Since week six, Flacco has averaged 267 yards passing while throwing seven TDs and no INTs. This week, Flacco and the Ravens take on the Falcons who are ranked 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed which includes allowing their opponent to throw for over 300 yards in two of the past three games. While Ray Rice may struggle running the ball against a tough Atlanta run defense, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (7 catches for 97 yards last week), will provide Flacco with yet another weapon to move the ball with ease. Look for Flacco to crack the 300-yard mark for the first time this season as the Ravens light up the Georgia Dome on Thursday night.
Colt McCoy, Cleveland vs. N.Y. Jets: While the stats may not tell the whole story (174 passing yards, three rushes for 20 yards and a TD), McCoy played a great game against the Patriots last week. He didn’t make any poor decisions, he showed his scrambling abilities by moving out of the pocket when pressure came, and he spread the ball around to backs, receivers, and tight ends. While the future is looking that much brighter for McCoy and the Browns, they get to face the Jets this week who have been known to darken the spirits of opposing offenses. The Jets have allowed an opposing QB to throw for more than 250 yards only twice all season and that won’t change this week. Keep McCoy on your radar for a keeper next season, but he won’t do you much good this week.
Jon Kitna, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants: Kitna hasn’t exactly made Dallas fans forget about Tony Romo with his performance the last two games. Kitna has thrown six INTs in the last two weeks compared to just two TDs. The running game is also a mess and this week the Cowboys get to face the Giants who are ranked 2nd in the NFL allowing an average of only 169.8 passing yards per game. Good luck Jason Garrett, you’re going to need it.
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Jacksonville
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Chicago
Frank Gore, San Francisco vs. St. Louis
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia vs. Washington
Chris Johnson, Tennessee vs. Miami
Ahmad Bradshaw, N.Y. Giants vs. Dallas
Matt Forte, Chicago vs. Minnesota
Ray Rice, Baltimore vs. Atlanta
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Baltimore
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville vs. Houston
Steven Jackson, St. Louis vs. San Francisco
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City vs. Denver: Charles carried the ball only ten times last week against the Raiders after suffering an apparent shoulder injury in the first half. Charles did catch five passes for 47 yards in the game, but keep an eye on his status later in the week to see if there are any lingering affects impacting his availability this week. If Charles is probable, expect big things against a Broncos’ run defense that has allowed an average of 154.6 rushing yards per game including a league-leading 15 rushing TDs.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh vs. New England: If Peyton Hillis can carve up the Patriots like a Thanksgiving day turkey, Mendenhall should be in line for a monster game on Sunday night. Mendenhall has surpassed 100 yards rushing only twice this season, but he has scored seven times on the ground including once in each of the past two games. With the Steelers’ offense kicking it into gear with Ben Roethlisberger back at QB, Mendenhall will have plenty of rushing room against an exposed New England run defense.
Jahvid Best, Detroit vs. Buffalo: Even though Best didn’t do much against the Jets last week, one encouraging sign was the feared running back by committee in Detroit was not in place. Best carried the ball 16 times to Kevin Smith‘s five carries and Best caught five passes out of the backfield. With Matthew Stafford‘s status up in the air, look for Detroit to pound the ball this week against the Bills who have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL this season. Best may very well have his best game as a pro this week. Don’t miss out.
Felix Jones, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants: No Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, a coaching change, and a total of 28 rushing yards on 13 carries over the past two games combined. Oh yeah, Jones can’t block either. The defense rests, your honor.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England vs. Pittsburgh: The “Law Firm” must’ve taken an extended vacation last week as Green-Ellis mustered only 14 rushing yards on nine carries against the Browns. Yes, the Cleveland Browns. This week, he faces the Steelers who have allowed an average of just 58.2 rushing yards per game this season. With Danny Woodhead seeing the majority of the playing time in passing situations, he’s a much better play than Green-Ellis this week against Pittsburgh.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati: With Joseph Addai and Mike Hart injured, Brown is the starter these days in Indy and that doesn’t say much. Even with all the injuries to the receivers, the passing game is still where it’s at thanks to #18. Brown has rushed for only 66 yards on 24 carries the last two games and his limited abilities catching the ball out of the backfield will keep his chances to a minimum against the Bengals.
Bye Weeks: Greg Jennings, James Jones, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Malcom Floyd, Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu, Legedu Naanee
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis
Roddy White, Atlanta vs. Baltimore
Hakeem Nicks, N.Y. Giants vs. Dallas
Brandon Lloyd, Denver vs. Kansas City
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs. Buffalo
Miles Austin, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants
Andre Johnson, Houston vs. Jacksonville
Brandon Marshall, Miami vs. Tennessee
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore vs. Atlanta
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh vs. New England: If you were one of the lucky owners that was able to stash Wallace on your bench until Ben Roethlisberger returned, your patience is paying off. Wallace has three TDs in the past four weeks and he posted the most catches and receiving yards of the season last week against the Bengals (5-110). With Rashard Mendenhall projected to post big numbers against the Patriots this week, don’t be surprised if Wallace is found open deep down the field on at least two occasions against a young New England defense that is going through some growing pains.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia vs. Washington: Jackson’s return from a concussion last week was very successful. Not only did he catch seven passes for 109 yards and a score, he ran the ball three times for 20 yards proving that when healthy, Andy Reid wants to put the ball in Jackson’s hands as often as possible. Facing a Redskins’ defense that has allowed 280.9 passing yards per game this season (31st in the NFL), should provide the perfect opportunity for Michael Vick and Jackson to hook up several times on Monday night.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville vs. Houston: I can’t believe I wrote this guy’s name down. Talk about a fantasy enigma? Only three weeks ago, he was waiver wire fodder and since then he’s caught 11 passes for 191 yards and two TDs. If he wasn’t facing the worst passing defense in the league this week, I wouldn’t even bring his name up. But here he is on my start list once again. You burn me this time MSW, we’re through. I can promise you that.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona vs. Seattle: Don’t look now, but Fitzgerald has posted back-to-back solid games for the Cardinals. Fitzgerald has caught 13 passes for 179 yards and two scores during that stretch as he tries to make amends for those poor owners who have lived through the Derek Anderson and Max Hall experiments this season. Fitzgerald has another great matchup this week in Seattle who have allowed 270.5 passing yards per game this season. Fitzgerald will get his stats once again this week, despite the poor QB play in Arizona.
Randy Moss, Tennessee vs. Miami: What a great story it would be if the first game Moss played for the Titans he caught eight passes for 150 yards and two scores in a dominating performance against the Dolphins. Sorry folks, it ain’t gonna to happen. The last time Moss faced the Dolphins back in week four as a member of the Patriots, he was held without a catch. Granted, the Titans have a better running game than the Patriots which should open up the field more, but Miami knows how to defend Moss and that won’t change now that he’s in a Tennessee uniform. It’s doubtful Moss will be held without a catch this week, but if you’re expecting him to provide a significant contribution to your fantasy squad, you’ve got another thing coming.
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Tampa Bay: How bad is the QB situation in Carolina? Matt Moore is done for the season and the Panthers are thinking about Tony Pike instead of Jimmy Clausen against Tampa Bay. Not to mention the fact that both D’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are injured crippling the Panthers running attack. Do you think Smith dreams of the Jake Delhomme years? Avoid Steve Smith from now on.
Santana Moss, Washington vs. Philadelphia: The last time Moss faced the Eagles back in week four he was held without a catch. Since then, we’ve learned that Donovan McNabb is not fit for the two-minute offense and (gulp), Rex Grossman gives the Redskins a better chance of winning. Does any of that sound like a reason to start Moss this week?
Roy Williams, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants: Since his two-TD performance back in week six, Williams has caught a total of two passes for 27 yards in three games. This week, he faces the Giants. Don’t even think about starting Williams. Just the thought of it, will automatically deduct 10 points from your fantasy team this week.
Jason Witten, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants
Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets vs. Cleveland
Vernon Davis, San Francisco vs. St. Louis
Aaron Hernandez, New England vs. Pittsburgh
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta vs. Baltimore
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville vs. Houston: A tight end that caught two TD passes in his last game facing the worst pass defense in the league? Sign me up!
Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati: All Tamme has done since replacing Dallas Clark is catch 17 passes for 172 yards and two TDs in the past two games. This may be the last week that you don’t see Tamme’s name on the Studs list. Start and enjoy.
Ben Watson, Cleveland vs. N.Y. Jets: With the WRs healthy again in Cleveland, Watson’s role in the offense is greatly diminished as proved by his one-catch performance last week against the Patriots. Don’t expect much against the Jets this week as the entire Browns’ offense should be downgraded.
Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay vs. Carolina: What’s happened to Winslow? Yes, Tampa Bay has some emerging players on offense as Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount have taken center stage, but Winslow hasn’t caught a TD pass this season and he’s only caught five or more passes three times in eight games. The Panthers have defended the pass well this season and there’s no reason to believe that Winslow will suddenly return to form this week against Carolina.