Congrats to everyone still reading since you must be either in your championship game or preparing for it. Pay close attention to your studs. You should feel comfortable starting all your studs this week, but next week will be a different story. The balance of playing the matchups against the “stud”-meter becomes tough this late in the season. When in doubt, ask the Tank.
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. The first two weeks the studs list remains the same (except for injury). After week two, players are added/removed as needed.
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!!
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
Tom Brady, New England vs. Miami
Tony Romo, Dallas vs. Carolina
Brett Favre, Green Bay vs. Chicago
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Houston
Derek Anderson, Cleveland vs. Cincinnati
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle vs. Baltimore
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Drew Brees, New Orleans* vs. Philadelphia
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia (vs. New Orleans): You know how to avoid being misquoted in the press, Donovan? Let your play do the talking. That’s what will happen this week as he’ll have a field day passing against the porous Saints secondary in a shoot-out worth watching. These last two games may be McNabb’s last in an Eagles uniform and you know he wants nothing more than to show the Eagles what they’ll be missing.
Jay Cutler, Denver (vs. San Diego): Cutler took his lumps against the Texans last week but is expected to play on the road in San Diego this week. Look for Cutler to continue to use Brandon Marshall until someone proves they can stop him. The Chargers won’t be able to do it either, so look for big things from Cutler & Marshall as they light up the West Coast sky.
Shaun Hill, San Francisco (vs. Tampa Bay): Hill has looked very good the last two weeks, but Tampa Bay will be his biggest test as of yet. The Bucs are ranked 2nd in the NFL in passing yards allowed and will defend the short pass aggressively which doesn’t bode well for Hill.
Philip Rivers, San Diego (vs. Denver): You know your fantasy QB didn’t post big numbers when his performance is described as “efficient” or low-risk. For all the struggles the Broncos have had in stopping the run, their pass defense has been solid all season. Look for Rivers to continue his efficiency this week keeping his stats to a minimum.
(* = new addition to the list)
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia vs. New Orleans
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. Denver
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis vs. Houston
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Washington
Willis McGahee, Baltimore vs. Seattle
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland vs. Cincinnati
Clinton Portis, Washington vs. Minnesota
Marion Barber, Dallas vs. Carolina
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis
Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay* vs. San Francisco
Fred Taylor, Jacksonville (vs. Oakland): So much for Fragile Fred. With four straight 100-yard rushing games, he’s Fantastic Fred or Fabulous Fred, or…you get the picture. Taylor should have another big game this week facing a Raiders defense that is ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
Brandon Jacobs, N.Y. Giants (vs. Buffalo): I just love watching this guy carry the rock. It just doesn’t seem fair when the ball carrier dwarfs the defensive secondary. Look for Jacobs to run wild against the Bills as the Giants try and clinch a playoff spot with a win this week.
Laurence Maroney, New England (vs. Miami): We saw last week how effective Maroney can be in poor weather. With a similar forecast on the way in Foxborough, Maroney will give the rest of the New England offensive attack the rest they need before the playoffs by running all day long against the worst team against the run in the league.
Aaron Stecker, New Orleans (vs. Philadelphia): Yes, Stecker has posted solid numbers in two straight games. Yes, he scored twice last week. But Bush may return this week slicing Stecker’s carries in half. The Eagles run defense has been much better than that of the Cardinals and Falcons who were Stecker’s opponents the last two weeks. Look elsewhere as Stecker will struggle at home against the Eagles.
Shaun Alexander, Seattle (vs. Baltimore): Alexander is D-O-N-E. It’s as simple as that. Facing the Ravens defense ranked 2nd in the league in rushing yards allowed only compounds the bench factor.
Jerious Norwood, Atlanta (vs. Arizona): In two of the past three weeks, Norwood has averaged over eight yards a carry, but can he be counted on to produce solid fantasy numbers carrying the ball only 7-8 times? Aaron Stecker had a big game against the Cardinals, but he had Drew Brees at QB. Chris Redman is a notch or two below Brees. Don’t count on much from Norwood this week and you won’t be disappointed.
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
Randy Moss, New England vs. Miami
Terrell Owens, Dallas vs. Carolina
T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. Houston
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland vs. Cincinnati
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Marques Colston, New Orleans vs. Philadelphia
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona vs. Atlanta
Wes Welker, New England vs. Miami
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Pittsburgh
Brandon Marshall, Denver* vs. San Diego
Kevin Curtis, Philadelphia (vs. New Orleans): Look for Curtis to post his fourth 100-yard receiving game this week against the Saints who are ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. McNabb will excel and Curtis will be the main benefactor.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay (vs. Chicago): It’s five weeks in a row and counting with a TD catch for Jennings. The Bears, well you all know how they’ve been defensively. Let’s just say Favre should have plenty of fun in the Windy City this week.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (vs. Detroit): Bowe has been quiet lately surpassing 60 yards receiving only once in the past three weeks. Look for that to change this week in Detroit against the Lions who are ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Don’t be afraid to start Bowe in place of some other stud (like Torry Holt) as Bowe’s matchup is just too good to pass up.
Bobby Engram, Seattle (vs. Baltimore): Talk about consistency. In one of my leagues, Engram has posted: 16, 14, 17, 15, & 17 in the past five weeks. He’s not going to win you any weeks by himself, but he won’t lose you a week either by posting a zero. Look for Engram to surpass 17 points this week as the Seahawks will struggle mightily on the ground and Hasselbeck will be forced to throw it 40-50 times.
Marty Booker, Miami (vs. New England): Dolphins win! Dolphins win! THHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEE Dolphins win! So much for the highly anticipated 0-14 vs. 14-0 matchup this week. The Pats may rest some starters in the second half, but the defense won’t skip a beat.
Lee Evans, Buffalo (vs. N.Y. Giants): Evans caught two TDs two weeks ago, but didn’t do much in the snow last week. The weather may improve this week, but the stats will not. Evans and the Bills will struggle to get things going in the passing attack as the G-Men continue to fight for a home playoff game.
Roydell Williams, Tennessee (vs. N.Y. Jets): Williams has three TDs in the past three games, but Young will struggle this week against a Jets defense that was impressive against the Pats last week. Look for Williams’ up-and-down season continue on the down side this week.
Jerricho Cotchery, N.Y. Jets (vs. Tennessee): Coles is likely to return and the Titans have a top-10 pass defense. Both should keep Cotchery’s chances to a minimum limiting his potential for success.
Jason Witten, Dallas vs. Carolina
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Detroit
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. Denver
Kellen Winslow, Cleveland vs. Cincinnati
Chris Cooley, Washington vs. Minnesota
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis vs. Houston
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis
Removed from Studs List
-Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants: broken leg
Tony Scheffler, Denver (vs. San Diego): Scheffler had a HUGE game last week catching seven passes for 100 yards and a score. While it’s unlikely he’ll match those numbers this week, his stats will be start-worthy as the Broncos passing attack will have success against the Chargers pass defense.
Donald Lee, Green Bay (vs. Chicago): Even when Lee catches only one pass like he did last week, he finds the end zone. The Packers will continue to air it out this week in hopes of playing at Lambeau throughout the playoffs and the Bears will not be able to slow them down.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (vs. Tampa Bay): Davis has established a nice relationship with Shaun Hill, but look for both to struggle against the Bucs as they have plenty to play for including a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Bo Scaife, Tennessee (vs. N.Y. Jets): Goose-eggs across the board for Scaife last week against the Chiefs. While he should post a catch or two this week, it won’t be enough to warrant a start.