This list will include a handful of players at each skill position that has either a very favorable matchup or a matchup to avoid. Not every player at every skill position will be listed every week. Instead of a watered-down version of predicting each player’s performance, this list will focus on a select group of players whose chances to succeed or fail are increased based on their opponent of the week.
When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:
1) Studs – Always play your studs. You won’t find Marshall Faulk or Randy Moss on this list. This list is to help choose between the middle-of-the-road players.
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.
Enough of the chit-chat, onto the list!!
BEWARE!! The BYE weeks have begun. Those players on a BYE will be listed at each of the skill positions.
Kerry Collins, N.Y. Giants (vs. Atlanta): Did the Giants and Kerry Collins begin “the run” in last week’s win over the Jets? Perhaps. Facing the hapless Falcons who are just playing out their lost season should mean big numbers for Collins and his crew. Start every Giant you can find, kick back, and enjoy.
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (vs. Kansas City): Holcomb gets the start this week and has the pleasure of facing a well rested 8-0 Chiefs team after their bye week. There’s only one way the Browns stay in this game and that’s letting Holcomb loose. Expect a ton of airing it out and enough connections to make Holcomb worthy of a start.
Trent Green, Kansas City (vs. Cleveland): Don’t fall into the Trent Green trap! Yes, in his last game he threw for 273 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs. But, the Browns are lousy at stopping the run (anyone remember the game Jamal Lewis had against them this year), so this will be the Priest Holmes show. Expect Green to do as little as humanly possible this week from a fantasy perspective simply because he won’t have to.
Rick Mirer, Oakland (vs. N.Y. Jets): With both Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo listed as doubtful for this week’s game, Mirer will appear in only his second game since 2000. Yeah, that’s just what the Raiders need to turn things around. Don’t walk, run from all your Raiders for this week and for the foreseeable future.
BYE WEEK: Jake Plummer, Danny Kanell, Tom Brady, Aaron Brooks, Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants (vs. Atlanta): I just can’t get enough of Tiki! Barber has rushed for at least 70 yards in seven out of the eight games played this year. He’s also averaged over 30 yards receiving in those eight games. The Falcons rank 30th in rushing yards allowed and have allowed an NFL-high 13 TDs on the ground. Go Tiki go!
Anthony Thomas, Chicago (vs. Detroit): The A-Train returned from a sprained foot to rush for 111 yards and 2 TDs last week against the Chargers. This week, the Bears roll into Detroit whom they beat just two weeks ago with Brock Forsey at RB. Look for solid numbers once again from Thomas this week as he continues to make a mockery of those that thought Adrian Peterson would have his job by now.
Michael Bennett, Minnesota (vs. San Diego): I saw enough of Michael Bennett last Sunday night against the Packers to know he’s back and ready to dominate. Facing a Chargers defense that allowed the A-Train to pile up serious stats last week, should give Bennett the opportunity to post very good numbers in what may be limited touches.
Arlen Harris, St. Louis (vs. Baltimore): I hope those owners that picked up Harris on the waiver wire enjoyed it while it lasted. Although his eight carries for nine yards last week was a bit tough to swallow. Faulk is scheduled to start this week which means Harris goes back to the pine in St. Louis and on your fantasy team as well.
Travis Henry, Buffalo (vs. Dallas): Henry has been impressive the last couple weeks rushing for 167 & 124 yards respectively. You can bet that he’s hearing the distant footsteps of one Willis McGahee. While McGahee may not see action this week, I expect the Cowboys to hold their own against Henry and potentially force a fumble or two opening the door ever so slightly for the rookie to get his shot.
Corey Dillon, Cincinnati (vs. Houston): Dillon did not play in the second half of last week’s loss to the Cardinals due to tightness in his groin. Dillon has not been at full strength all season and it’s reflected in his stats as he’s rushed for more than 40 yards only once all season. Expect Dillon to share carries at best with Rudi Johnson this week which is not an enticing situation for your fantasy starter.
BYE WEEK: Clinton Portis, Mike Anderson, Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk, Mike Cloud, Deuce McAllister, Garrison Hearst, Kevan Barlow
Ike Hilliard, N.Y. Giants (vs. Atlanta): Following the Giants theme, Hilliard continues to produce solid numbers in this offense with Toomer, Shockey & Barber. Hilliard has had at least five catches in six of the Giants eight games and he should continue to produce in this week’s game against the dismal Falcons.
Peter Warrick, Cincinnati (vs. Houston): Talk about consistency? Look at the points Warrick has posted in one of my fantasy leagues since week 2: 24, 12, 10, 14, 14, 16, 18. Warrick should add to those numbers this week against a Texans team that is ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed.
Donald Driver, Green Bay (vs. Philadelphia): Despite only catching one pass last week against the Vikings, look for Driver to play a large role in Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Philly will attempt to take Ahman Green out of the game plan meaning Favre will go up top to his WRs and Driver will be waiting there patiently.
Andre Davis, Cleveland (vs. Kansas City): Sticking with the premise that Holcomb will have a nice day against the Chiefs, who better to predict a big game for other than the WR replacing Kevin Johnson in the starting lineup? Yes, it’s a gamble, but you could do worse for your #3 WR especially if the bye week is causing you pain.
Terry Glenn, Dallas (vs. Buffalo): Glenn’s up-and-down season continued last week with a solid performance (six catches for 73 yards and a TD). His numbers have been solid every other week and facing a Bills defense this week that is ranked third in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed should continue the pattern.
Bobby Shaw, Buffalo (vs. Dallas): Speaking of the Bills, where have you gone Bobby Shaw? Shaw looked to have surpassed Josh Reed on the depth chart after catching eight passes for 92 yards and a TD back in week four, but he’s only averaged four catches and 30 yards a game since then. Don’t expect much more than those numbers this week against Dallas as the Tuna knows how to stop Bledsoe.
Jerry Porter, Oakland (vs. N.Y. Jets): Two words: Rick Mirer.
Steve Smith, Carolina (vs. Tampa Bay): Every week I think Smith will come back to earth and every week he proves me wrong. I’ll take my chances that the Bucs defense finally proves me right on this guy and holds him to under 88 yards for the first time in five games. Maybe I’m still bitter I didn’t pick him up four weeks ago when I had the chance? Nah, that’s not it.
BYE WEEK: Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, Ashley Lelie, Troy Brown, Deion Branch, David Patten, Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth, Jerome Pathon, Terrell Owens, Tai Streets
Randy McMichael, Miami (vs. Tennessee): McMichael has become one of Brian Griese’s favorite targets and Griese will need all the help he can get against the Titans this week. Expect another solid week from the big fella.
Todd Heap, Baltimore (vs. St. Louis): Just in case you forgot about Mr. Heap, he’s posted three straight games of 50+ yards receiving. Boller doesn’t throw much but when he does, he looks for his TE. Continue to start Heap.
Stephen Alexander, San Diego (vs. Minnesota): Despite returning from groin surgery this week, Alexander won’t see enough action in his limited role to warrant a start. Look elsewhere.
Byron Chamberlain, Washington (vs. Seattle): After making three catches for 23 yards in his Redskin debut back in week six, Chamberlain has caught zero passes and was on the inactive list last week. It’s time to cut bait if Chamberlain is occupying a spot on your fantasy roster.
BYE WEEK: Shannon Sharpe, Daniel Graham, Christian Fauria, Ernie Conwell, Jed Weaver