The bye weeks are upon us. There are plenty of options to fill in for your Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week with some surprise starts at each position along with some waiver wire fodder you should avoid on the bench lists. The Studs list is also changing as teams are showing their true colors after Week 3.
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 at Jacksonville
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs. Arizona
Michael Vick, Philadelphia vs. Washington
Tom Brady, New England at Miami
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs. Detroit
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Carolina
Matt Schaub, Houston at Oakland
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants vs. Chicago: Manning had his highest yardage total last week throwing for 386 yards against the Titans, but he did not find the end zone and he was intercepted twice. This week, Manning faces a Bears defense that has allowed an average of 279.3 yards passing per game this season including 316 yards on Monday night against the Packers. Look for Manning to post big passing yardage again this week, but the difference will be that he finds the end zone multiple times.
Bruce Gradkowski, Oakland vs. Houston: Yes, that Bruce Gradkowski. You may be asking yourself, “How can I justify starting a guy who was in a quarterback controversy with Jason Campbell just one week ago?” Well, I’ve got some answers for you. Gradkowski had a solid game against the Cardinals last week throwing for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This week, he’s facing a Texans pass defense that has allowed 1,106 yards passing this season. Look for Gradkowski to look Zach Miller’s way early and often and be the next in the line of quarterbacks to post solid numbers against Houston this season.
Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore: If you have Romo or Favre and you’re desperately searching for a one-week replacement, I would strongly recommend you take Gradkowski despite the gaudy stats posted by Batch last week. Expecting another three touchdown passes (despite only having 12 completions!) is just downright foolish. Batch will face the Ravens defense this week which has allowed the fewest passing yards in the NFL this season. Batch is not the answer to your short-term bye week issues.
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati at Cleveland: Palmer hasn’t cracked 200 yards passing since Week 1 against the Patriots and most of those yards came in garbage time since the game was essentially over at halftime. Expect a heavy dose of Cedric Benson with some Bernard Scott mixed in as the Bengals play smash-mouth football much to the chagrin of two wide receivers who will remain nameless.
Arian Foster, Houston at Oakland
Frank Gore, San Francisco at Atlanta
Chris Johnson, Tennessee vs. Denver
Steven Jackson, St. Louis vs. Seattle
Ray Rice, Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. San Francisco
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina at New Orleans
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore: Mendenhall has one more week to establish himself in the Steelers offense before Ben Roethlisberger comes back and throws the ball on practically every down. He faces a Ravens defense that has been extremely tough against the pass, but they allowed Peyton Hillis to rush for 144 yards last week. Look for Mendenhall to be the focal point in the Pittsburgh offense and he does some damage against Baltimore this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England at Miami: When fragile Fred Taylor went down with an injury in the third quarter, the Patriots relied on Green-Ellis to literally carry the load. With New England already without Kevin Faulk, Green-Ellis has a great opportunity to find those gaping holes left by defenses trying to slow down the Patriots’ passing attack. The Dolphins have allowed more than 100 yards rushing in the past two games so don’t be shy and get Green-Ellis in your lineup this week.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati at Cleveland: Benson has carried the ball an average of 25 times over the last two games and this week should yield the first time he passes the 100-yard mark in a game. The ineffective passing game of the Bengals has forced them to run the ball and they’ll have the most success they’ve experienced all season on the ground this week against a Browns defense that ranks 21st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
Ahmad Bradshaw, N.Y. Giants vs. Chicago: Since Bradshaw has been named the main man in the Giants’ backfield, he’s scored twice but he’s also fumbled twice. Bradshaw has rushed for 253 yards averaging 4.9 yards per carry, but the Giants have been playing from behind which has limited his number of carries. Bradshaw will have his toughest run defense matchup to-date as he faces a Bears defense that has only allowed 119 yards rushing this season.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo vs. N.Y. Jets: The Bills’ running back situation is a mess right now for fantasy owners. Marshawn Lynch is getting the majority of the carries and Fred Jackson is playing and stealing third down chances from Spiller. The only added value Spiller has is his kickoff returning which translated into a touchdown last week against the Patriots. Even though Spiller was the starter on opening day, don’t expect him to lead your team to victory anytime soon. Stash him away on your bench especially against the Jets this week.
Jahvid Best, Detroit at Green Bay: Best is questionable heading into this matchup against the Packers with turf toe. Green Bay absolutely shut down Matt Forte on Monday night and that was with an effective Bears’ passing game. The Lions haven’t gotten things going with Shaun Hill at quarterback and with Kevin Smith likely to return this week, Best’s chances will be limited.