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!!
The BYE weeks are finally over. No more excuses!
Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville (vs. Tennessee): Defeating the Colts this year is no easy task. Facing the Titans the very next week is simply not fair, just ask the Dolphins. Despite the rough schedule, Leftwich should put up better numbers than the 158 yards passing and three turnovers (2 INTs, 1 fumble) that he posted back in week eight against Tennessee.
Aaron Brooks, New Orleans (vs. Atlanta): Fresh off a bye week, the Saints face the worst defense in the NFL despite the Falcons only allowing one touchdown last week to the Giants. The last time these teams met back in week seven, Brooks threw for 352 yards, three TDs, while completing 23 of 30 passes. Expect more of the same.
Tom Brady, New England (vs. Dallas): No doubt about it, Brady has been a force as of late. In the past three games, Brady is averaging 297 yards passing while throwing for five TDs to only one INT. The Bill Bowl (Parcells vs. Belichick) will be a close knit affair which translates to a defensive battle and low stats all around.
David Carr, Houston (vs. Buffalo): Carr returned last week after missing a week with a high ankle sprain to toss two TDs in a losing effort against the Bengals. This week, Carr heads to chilly Buffalo to face a Bills defense that ranks second in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed. Look elsewhere for your QB if at all possible.
Curits Martin, N.Y. Jets (vs. Indianapolis) Santana Moss isn’t the only one excited that Chad Pennington is the starting QB once again. Don’t think it’s just a coincidence that Martin has cracked the 100-yard mark in two of the last three games. He could make it three out of four against the Colts who let Fred Taylor run wild last week.
Warrick Dunn, Atlanta (vs. New Orleans): Based on last week’s game, the baton has been passed back to Dunn as the Falcons main man. That’s what 178 yards on 25 carries will do. Dunn should continue to have success this week against the Saints who rank 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
Travis Henry, Buffalo (vs. Houston): From the bench list to the start list without cracking the 100-yard mark last week? Once you see the Texans on the schedule who allowed Rudi Johnson to rush for 180 yards last week, you’ll understand. While McGahee is still on the mend, ride Henry this week and enjoy the numbers.
Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh (vs. San Francisco): While Bettis is likely to be ready to roll in the spotlight of Monday Night Football this week, his better days have past him by. Not to mention the fact that Bettis had his shoulder in a sling this week. That’s enough info for me to bench the Bus.
Eddie George, Tennessee (vs. Jacksonville): While George had a nice game the last time these teams met three weeks ago, (88 yards rushing and two TDs), averaging just 2.9 yards a carry does not give me the warm fuzzies. The Jags are fourth in the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed so don’t expect George’s average to climb this week.
Troy Hambrick, Dallas (vs. New England): With the newly signed Adrian Murrell taking carries away from Hambrick (Murrell carried the ball 16 times last week), this could turn into another dreaded RBBC. The Patriots are playing at home on Sunday night after a bye week with the defense finally getting healthy. Avoid all the Cowboys RBs.
Rod Smith, Denver (vs. San Diego): With the return of Jake Plummer likely to occur this week and the Chargers defense ranking 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, Smith should be in line for a pretty nice day. Smith had five catches for 71 yards back in week two in their last meeting with the Bolts. Expect those numbers to rise.
Keenan McCardell, Tampa Bay (vs. Green Bay): The quiet Tampa WR continues to put up loud numbers. Not only did McCardell crack the 100-yard receiving mark for the third time this season last week, but he also made one of the best catches I’ve ever seen. Look for continued success for McCardell against the Pack at home.
Laveranues Coles, Washington (vs. Carolina): Coles finally got things back on track last week with his first 100-yard receiving game since week three. This week, the Redskins head into Carolina who are ranked 25th in the NFL in passing yards allowed and may fall into the “Trap Game” after defeating the Bucs at home last week.
Steve Smith, Carolina (vs. Washington): It seems like every week I say this is the week that Smith comes back down to earth, and every week he proves me wrong (and a Fantasy Sharks reader – Troy, is there to remind me). Smith’s four TDs in the last five games with three of those games also producing 100+ yards receiving, makes his play too strong to ignore. Start Smith and hope to avoid the reverse curse of the Start/Bench List.
Chris Chambers, Miami (vs. Baltimore): Jay Fiedler, Brian Griese. Brian Griese, Jay Fiedler. Finkle and Einhorn. Einhorn and Finkle. Sorry, a brief flashback to Ace Ventura there. No matter who is QB’ing this week, if this game isn’t the Ricky Williams show, then head coach Dave Wannstedt better start looking through the want ads.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (vs. N.Y. Jets): Much of Wayne’s success this year is related to teams needing to double up on Marvin Harrison freeing up space for Wayne. With Harrison questionable this week with a hamstring injury, Wayne will have difficulty finding that open space this week. Explore other options if possible.
Donald Driver, Green Bay (vs. Tampa Bay): The weather during last Monday night’s game wasn’t ideal for a passing attack. But from what I saw, the Packers are now Ahman Green’s team and everyone else is just along for the ride. The Bucs have had trouble stopping the run, so expect very little from Driver and the passing game.
Travis Taylor, Baltimore (vs. Miami): When the Ravens bring in Ray Lucas as the #3 QB and the options are start are Chris Redman and Anthony Wright, you can bet the Baltimore receivers certainly won’t be over-worked this week in Miami. Expect the angry Dolphins to bring pain this week and Taylor will struggle because of it.
Ernie Conwell, New Orleans (vs. Atlanta): The bye week should have helped Conwell get healthy enough to post solid numbers against the Dirty Birds this week.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (vs. Cincinnati): Gonzo is quietly rising back atop the TE list as he now leads all TEs in TDs with five. Expect more of the same this week for the best TE in the NFL.
Ken Dilger, Tampa Bay (vs. Green Bay): Dilger is questionable this week with an elbow injury that he sustained last week against the Panthers. The Bucs may re-sign Ricky Dudley which means you should bench Dilger.
Bubba Franks, Green Bay (vs. Tampa Bay): Hey Forrest, I wanna be a Shrimp Boat Captain. It’s a good thing as your one catch in two games doesn’t bode well for a long career in the NFL.