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!!
Michael Vick, Atlanta (vs. Indianapolis): He’s baaaack! Anyone that watched last Sunday night’s game knows exactly why Vick is on this list. If you were one of the lucky ones to make the playoffs with Vick stashed on your roster all season, sit back and reap the benefits this week.
Drew Bledsoe, Buffalo (vs. Tennessee): Despite posting his worst numbers of the season last week against the Jets, Bledsoe should post solid numbers this week. The Bills should struggle in the running game and the Titans may score early and often opening things up for Bledsoe to air it out.
David Carr, Houston (vs. Tampa Bay): Not only is Carr fighting through a shoulder injury, he was released from the hospital after battling the flu. Facing the Bucs in Tampa is not a reason to rush back to the starting lineup.
Tim Hasselbeck, Washington (vs. Dallas): With Ramsey out for the season, it’s the other Hasselbeck’s turn. Of course his first matchup comes against the top-rated Dallas pass defense. Don’t chance it. Look elsewhere.
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants (vs. New Orleans): With Kerry Collins doubtful this week, look for Tiki Barber to take center stage on the Sunday night game in New Orleans. The Saints have been susceptible to the run and that’s what the G-Men will do all night long.
Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh (vs. N.Y. Jets): There’s still some gas left in the tank of the Bus as shown by his 106 yards rushing last week. This week, the Bus and the Steelers face a Jets team that ranks dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. Pay your fare and be sure to get a transfer. It’s going to be a long ride.
Thomas Jones, Tampa Bay (vs. Houston): Jones proved he can handle the #1 RB duties last week (20 carries for 89 yards) and this week he will shine as he faces a Texans defense that has allowed an average of 140 yards rushing per game thus far.
Travis Henry, Buffalo (vs. Tennessee): No, this is not a misprint. This is the same Travis Henry that posted a season-high 169 yards against the Jets last week. This week, Henry will find out exactly what the difference is defensively between the Jets and the Titans.
Kevin Faulk, New England (vs. Jacksonville): With two fumbles in two games, Faulk would be in head coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse if the door wasn’t frozen shut. This week he faces the Jags who rank second in the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed. Sit Kevin, sit. Good boy.
Jamel White, Cleveland (vs. Denver): Normally when a starting RB goes down, his backup is snatched up faster than the last roll on Thanksgiving. Avoid making that mistake with White. The deflated Browns head into Denver who held Priest Holmes to under 50 yards rushing last week. Look elsewhere for your diamond in the rough.
Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina (vs. Arizona): Not that Muhammad has been healthy, he’s played well and I don’t expect that to change this week against the Cardinals. Start as many Panthers as humanly possible and enjoy the numbers.
Deion Branch, New England (vs. Jacksonville): With injuries to David Patten and Troy Brown, Branch became the #1 WR in New England by default, but he has not disappointed. He’s posted at least 50 yards receiving in each of the past five games including two TD receptions. Expect more of the same this week against the Jags.
Javon Walker, Green Bay (vs. San Diego): Walker has quietly emerged as Favre go-to receiver as he’s caught a touchdown in each of the past three games. This week, Walker faces a San Diego team that has allowed an NFL high 29 touchdowns in the air. Giddy-up!
Charles Lee, Tampa Bay (vs. Houston): The rookie has performed well the last three weeks and should see his numbers continue to rise this week against a Texans defense that ranks 20th in the NFL in passing yards allowed.
Amani Toomer, N.Y. Giants (vs. New Orleans): With Kerry Collins unlikely to play, Jesse Palmer would take over at the helm for the Giants. With Tiki Barber likely to have success on the ground, don’t expect much action going Toomer’s way on Sunday night.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona (vs. Carolina): Another backup QB situation that has Josh McCown potentially getting the start. Sorry Anquan, but all Cardinals players should be avoided like the plague until further notice.
Drew Bennett, Tennessee (vs. Buffalo): Despite being on the field for close to 30 plays last week, Bennett was held without a catch. Facing a tough Bills pass defense this week won’t suddenly launch Bennett into the upper echelon of WRs.
Jerry Porter, Oakland (vs. Baltimore): With Rick Mirer suffering a sprained ankle last week, the Raiders may be down to Rob Johnson at QB. Yes, that Rob Johnson. ‘Nuff said.
Marcus Pollard, Indianapolis (vs. Atlanta): With the Colts offense firing on all cylinders, expect Pollard to perform well in the RCA Dome where he has caught a TD pass in each of the past two home games.
Desmond Clark, Chicago (vs. Minnesota): Clark had four catches for 33 yards the last time he faced the Vikes back in week two. Look for those numbers to rise as the Bears will play a more conservative offense keeping Clark in the mix all day long.
Kris Mangum, Carolina (vs. Arizona): Big Red (that’s my nickname for him) has caught more than two balls only three times all season. Don’t expect that to change this week, even against the lowly Cardinals.
Jed Weaver, San Francisco (vs. Cincinnati): Weaver had a nice game last week (four catches for 76 yards), but Marvin Lewis’ boys will be looking to make amends for last week’s defeat and it will start with the defense.