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. Miami): The Giants and Collins have had plenty of time to prepare for the vaunted Dolphins defense coming off a bye week. When Miami last visited the Meadowlands, Vinny Testaverde threw for 373 yards in a losing effort. Collins may not toss for that many yards, but he’ll have enough success to warrant a start this week against a Dolphins defense that ranks 27th in the NFL in passing yards allowed.
Patrick Ramsey, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): Fear not, Ramsey owners. Chances are you won’t see a replay of that 147-yard performance from last week against the Eagles this Sunday. The Eagles rank 31st in passing yards allowed so look for Ramsey to go up top often to try and bury the Eagles at the bottom of the NFC East.
Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh): The latest word for Kelly Holcomb to play this week against the Steelers is 50/50 at best. Whether Couch gets the call or Holcomb plays, you should avoid the Browns QBs this week facing a Steelers defense that has allowed less than 140 yards passing per game.
Trent Green, Kansas City (vs. Denver): Yes, the Chiefs are 4-0 but I’m willing to bet that if Trent Green is your fantasy starting QB, your team is not undefeated. Green’s best game this week came in week one against the Chargers when he threw for 282 yards with 1 TD & 1 INT. I would expect less than those numbers against the Broncos this week as the two teams battle for AFC West supremacy.
BYE WEEK: Kyle Boller, David Carr, Vinny Testaverde, Marc Bulger, Kurt Warner
Amos Zereoue, Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland): Hopefully, you didn’t give up on Famous Amos. His 99 total yards and a score last week against the Titans should be just the beginning of an impressive run for Zereoue. Don’t expect another Jamal Lewis performance against the Browns, but 100+ yards and a TD is not out of the question.
Charlie Garner, Oakland (vs. Chicago): One of these weeks, Garner is going to get more than thirteen carries in a game and he will make the most of that opportunity. That could happen this week against the Bears who rank dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed at 183 per game.
Mike Anderson, Denver (vs. Kansas City): This recommendation only applies if Portis can’t play. If Anderson starts, he should have some success against Kansas City as Denver will likely attempt to play ball-control to keep the Chiefs and Priest Holmes off the field as much as possible.
Emmitt Smith, Arizona (vs. Dallas): Those of you looking for a Cinderella story where Emmitt returns to Big D and rushes for 150 yards and 2 TDs, look elsewhere. Dallas is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and the Cardinals offensive line won’t be able to open any holes for the veteran.
Rudi Johnson/Brandon Bennett, Cincinnati (vs. Buffalo): With Corey Dillon unlikely to play due to a groin injury, the starting duties will fall to either Johnson or Bennett. The Bills have been generous in rushing yards allowed, but it’s not known which back will get the bulk of the carries. Another RBBC situation means avoid at all costs.
Antowain Smith, New England (vs. Tennessee): The Patriots have gone with splitting time between Smith and Kevin Faulk this week and neither back has had a huge amount of success. The Titans come to Foxboro having only allowed 63 yards rushing per game. Those factors don’t add up to a successful day for Antowain.
BYE WEEK: Jamal Lewis, Stacey Mack, Curtis Martin, Lamont Jordan, Lamar Gordon
Chris Chambers, Miami (vs. N.Y. Giants): Chambers has been the go-to guy in the Miami passing attack and that shouldn’t change this week against the Giants who rank last in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 314 per game.
Tai Streets, San Francisco (vs. Detroit): The Niners should have an easier time against the Lions than they did last week against the Vikings. Streets has three TDs in four weeks and with Owens drawing more attention than the Britney/Madonna smooch, Streets will quietly post very solid numbers.
Jimmy Smith, Jacksonville (vs. San Diego): He’s baaack! After missing the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, Smith returns this week to face the Chargers. Assuming Smith is in game shape, he’ll easily become the main target in the passing game over incumbents J.J. Stokes and Matthew Hatchette.
Bobby Shaw, Buffalo (vs. Cincinnati): Peerless who? Shaw has filled in the #2 WR spot quite nicely and should find some openings in the Bengals secondary as Cincy tries to stop Eric Moulds from beating them single-handedly.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (vs. Tampa Bay): If you’re like me, you started Wayne last week with the hopes of a repeat of his 10-catch, 141-yard, 2 TD game two weeks ago. Instead you got 3 catches for 26 yards and no TDs on a week where Peyton Manning threw 6 TD passes. I know I won’t make the same mistake twice.
Quincy Morgan, Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh): Morgan had a nice 71-yard TD last week, but that’s been about all Morgan has done in four games. Facing a tough Pittsburgh defense with both Couch and Holcomb spreading the ball around, doesn’t bode well for big numbers out of Morgan this week.
Charles Rogers, Detroit (vs. San Francisco): The rookie has made a positive impact thus far with three TDs in only four games. Despite Rogers success, Detroit will struggle in the passing game this week with constant pressure from a Niners defense that leads the NFL with fifteen sacks.
Keenan McCardell, Tampa Bay (vs. Indianapolis): Tony Dungy brings his undefeated Colts into Tampa on Monday night for what could be, dare I say, a Super Bowl preview? If the Colts want to stay in the game, they’ll need to shut down the passing attack of the Bucs meaning #2 WR McCardell won’t be a major factor in this one.
BYE WEEK: Travis Taylor, Frank Sanders, Andre Johnson, Jabar Gaffney, Corey Bradford, Santana Moss, Wayne Chrebet, Curtis Conway, Torry Holt, Issac Bruce
Shannon Sharpe, Denver (vs. Kansas City): Sharpe has the most TD catches by a TE (3) after the first four weeks of the season. If the Broncos want to hang with the Chiefs in Kansas City this Sunday, they’ll need Sharpe to continue to drink from the fountain of youth and post solid numbers.
Mark Campbell, Buffalo (vs. Cincinnati): Campbell is the only TE in the NFL with more than ten receptions without a touchdown. How’s that for useless information? Bledsoe will find the big man in the end zone this week against Cincy to move Campbell even with his TE counterparts.
Ernie Conwell, New Orleans (vs. Carolina): The usually reliable Conwell dropped at least two passes in the debacle that was the Saints/Colts game last Sunday night. That alone may give Brooks second thoughts when throwing his way but facing the Panthers defense this week means low offensive numbers across the Saints board.
Kyle Brady, Jacksonville (vs. San Diego): Did you see how many passes Brady caught last week when Leftwich started? That’s right, none…zip…zero. The return of Jimmy Smith won’t help Brady’s cause either.
BYE WEEK: Todd Heap, Billy Miller, Anthony Becht, Cam Cleeland