Injuries are always a part of the game. A couple big names are in doubt for this week such (Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson), while others (Mark Clayton, Jermichael Finley) will miss significant time. This should serve as a reminder that you need team depth to survive a full fantasy football season. Between injuries and bye weeks, having only a strong starting lineup isn’t enough to bring home the title.
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.
Philip Rivers, San Diego at St. Louis
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis at Washington
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs. Miami
*Questionable – Concussion*
Drew Brees, New Orleans at Tampa Bay
Tony Romo, Dallas at Minnesota
Matt Schaub, Houston vs. Kansas City
Tom Brady, New England vs. Baltimore
Kyle Orton, Denver vs. N.Y. Jets: Orton threw for more than 300 yards for the fourth straight game last week and it was against the Baltimore Ravens no less. With Knowshon Moreno injured and Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter struggling, Orton will continue to be the only source of offense the Broncos have. Look for Orton to have success once again this week passing the ball as Darrelle Revis is questionable.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore at New England: Flacco has only thrown for more than 260 yards in a game once this season – against the Browns back in Week 3. He has faced some tough defenses (New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers) and the Ravens running game has been great behind Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Look for Flacco to start to post bigger numbers this week against the Patriots, which are ranked 28th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Now is the time to buy low on Flacco as he faces New England, Buffalo and Miami in his next three games.
Brett Favre, Minnesota vs. Dallas: The elbow, “sexting,” his age, so on and so on. The list of reasons why Favre shouldn’t succeed this season continues to grow and sooner or later it will catch up to him. After watching Favre on Monday night this week, the elbow is my biggest concern. Favre missed several wide open throws that cost him at least one score. The addition of Randy Moss gives the Vikings the threat they have missed since the absence of Sidney Rice, but it doesn’t matter how many talented receivers you have if the quarterback can’t make the throws. Expect Favre’s magical run to start to come to a halt this week against the Cowboys.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta at Philadelphia: Ryan posted his worst game of the season last week throwing for just 187 yards and completing less than 60 percent of his passes which were both low marks for the season. Things won’t get much better this week against the Eagles, which have defended the pass well this season but they have struggled stopping the run. Expect a heavy dose of Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, but that won’t help Ryan’s stats.
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Kansas City
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia vs. Atlanta
Frank Gore, San Francisco vs. Oakland
Chris Johnson, Tennessee at Jacksonville
Matt Forte, Chicago vs. Seattle
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Dallas
Ray Rice, Baltimore at New England
Steven Jackson, St. Louis vs. San Diego
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville vs. Tennessee
Michael Turner, Atlanta at Philadelphia
LaDainian Tomlinson, N.Y. Jets at Denver: While Tomlinson’s story has been a great one, he still hasn’t reached the pinnacle of the fantasy football world (studs list). Take away his 155-total yard (133 rushing yards; 3 receptions, 22 receiving yards), two-touchdown performance against the Buffalo Bills, and you have a back who is averaging 75.5 yards rushing, 3.4 catches for 18 yards with one touchdown in four weeks. Not exactly stud-worthy numbers. That being said, Tomlinson can be a valuable asset depending on the matchup. This week, he faces a Broncos’ defense that has allowed an average of 127.4 yards rushing per game this season. Look for solid numbers from Tomlinson this week, but Shonn Greene is waiting in the wings and could take over in the second half of the season as the lead back. Enjoy the stats while you can from Tomlinson.
Ahmad Bradshaw, N.Y. Giants vs. Detroit: Despite dealing with an ankle sprain, Bradshaw managed 67 yards rushing against a tough Houston Texans’ run defense. This week things get easier against a Lions’ run defense that has allowed more than 130 rushing yards per game. The Eli Manning-Hakeem Nicks combo won’t be as stellar this week, but Bradshaw picks up the slack and gets his second 100-yard rushing game this season from his effort.
Ryan Torain, Washington vs. Indianapolis: Torain didn’t do much in his first start last week against the Green Bay Packers, rushing for only 40 yards on 16 carries. With Clinton Portis still sidelined, look for Torain to receive the majority of the carries this week against the Colts and he’ll have much more success. The Colts have allowed more than 100 yards rushing in four of their five games. Look for that streak to continue this week as Torain makes his mark.
Felix Jones, Dallas at Minnesota: It was unanimous – everyone agreed the Cowboys needed more Cowbell … err … Felix Jones! The Dallas brass was all in favor of expanding the role of Jones and he delivered rushing for 109 yards on just 15 carries against the Tennessee Titans last week. This week, the Cowboys are now 1-3 and facing what could be a must-win game against the Vikings, which didn’t fair very well against the New York Jets on Monday night stopping the tandem of Tomlinson and Greene. Look for the Vikings defense to really step it up this week at home which will include keeping Jones in check. The Cowboys are in trouble and the answer unfortunately is not more cowbell or more Jones.
, Kansas City at Houston: The production of Charles continues to be muffled by the presence of Thomas Jones. This week, Charles faces a Texans’ run defense that has allowed only 79.6 rushing yards per game this season. While Charles may have some action catching passes out of the backfield, his rushing totals won’t be there and you cannot take the chance that he’ll catch seven passes for 80 yards to make up for his poor rushing stats. Charles will be the main man in Kansas City soon, just not this week.
Laurence Maroney, Denver vs. N.Y. Jets: The Broncos have gotten next to nothing out of Maroney since acquiring him from New England and hoping he could fill in for Knowshon Moreno. Maroney has posted a total of 56 yards rushing in three games for the Broncos. That won’t get any easier against the Jets this week. If Maroney is still on your roster, it’s time to shake things up.
Austin Collie, Indianapolis at Washington
Hakeem Nicks, N.Y. Giants vs. Detroit
Roddy White, Atlanta at Philadelphia
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis at Washington
Miles Austin, Dallas at Minnesota
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore at New England
Calvin Johnson, Detroit at N.Y. Giants
*Questionable – Shoulder*
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia vs. Atlanta
Brandon Marshall, Miami at Green Bay
Andre Johnson, Houston vs. Kansas City
Wes Welker, New England vs. Baltimore
Randy Moss, Minnesota vs. Dallas
Brandon Lloyd, Denver vs. N.Y. Jets: Lloyd’s production this season has been just phenomenal. Lloyd has surpassed 100 yards receiving in four of the first five games including a total of three touchdowns and an average of six catches per game. He is not on the Studs list for the same reason why Kyle Orton isn’t on the Studs list for quarterbacks. Studs are players that you should start regardless of their matchup every week. Despite “Revis Island,” the Jets are ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed this season. Lloyd will face a defense that will shut him down (probably Oakland next week), but until then, start Lloyd with confidence as he is clearly Orton’s primary target for a dangerous Denver passing attack.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego at St. Louis: Brandon Lloyd, Malcom Floyd, Avoid the Noid, I’m paranoid! We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning, since the world’s been turning. Sorry for that brief 80s flashback. Floyd busted out last week catching eight passes for 213 yards and a touchdown against a solid Raiders pass defense including Nnamdi Asomugha. Floyd should return to the century mark in receiving yards this week against the St. Louis Rams, which are still reeling from the beating they took at the hands of the Detroit Lions last week. Yes, those Lions.
Kenny Britt, Tennessee at Jacksonville: All Britt does is catch touchdowns! In the past three games, Britt has nine catches and three touchdowns. I’ll take a touchdown every third catch any day of the week. With Justin Gage limited due to a hamstring injury, Britt caught four passes for 86 yards and a score last week against the Dallas Cowboys. The Jaguars have allowed an average of 282.2 yards passing this season so you can expect Vince Young to be looking Britt’s way early and often this week.
, Washington vs. Indianapolis: After getting shutout against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, Moss bounced back nicely last week catching seven passes for 118 yards against the Green Bay Packers. Although Ryan Torain will have a solid game for the Redskins this week, don’t turn your back on Moss. Look for lots of yards and points in this game and not much defense which bodes well for both teams from a fantasy standpoint. Keep Moss in your lineup and look for his third 100-yard receiving game in four weeks.
Deion Branch, New England vs. Baltimore: Attention Patriots fans: This is not the same Branch that was the Super Bowl MVP. Branch is now 31 years old and is less of a threat than Brandon Tate to try and fill the void left by Randy Moss. With Tate, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, Branch is a fourth option at best and should not suddenly appear in your fantasy lineup.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco vs. Oakland: Crabtree had his best game of the season last week catching nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. Hold on Crabtree owners – before you start placing him in your lineup unconditionally – remember that Crabtree has also had a couple stinkers this season: two catches for 12 yards against Seattle in Week 1, and one catch for 32 yards against the Saints in Week 2. Facing the Raiders this week (and most likely, Nnamdi Asomugha), Crabtree won’t be able to repeat last week’s performance.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis vs. San Diego: With Mark Clayton injured, Amendola quickly became Sam Bradford’s go-to guy. With 12 catches for 95 yards last week, Amendola responded well to his new role. Facing the Chargers this week will make compiling those type of numbers rather difficult. San Diego is ranked third in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed and they will be devoting a good portion of their gameplan to the new No. 1 wide receiver for the Rams. Don’t look for big numbers this week from Amendola, but if he’s still on your league’s waiver wire, go get him.
, N.Y. Jets at Denver: The return of Santonio Holmes last week combined with the continued success of Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards confirms that Cotchery’s fantasy value has all but disappeared this season. Cut your losses or hope for an injury.
Antonio Gates, San Diego at St. Louis
Zach Miller, Oakland at San Francisco
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis at Washington
Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets at Denver
Vernon Davis, San Francisco vs. Oakland
Chris Cooley, Washington vs. Indianapolis
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta at Philadelphia
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville vs. Tennessee: Lewis has three touchdowns in the past two games and should continue to be the best red zone option for David Garrard and the Jaguars, which are desperately missing Mike Sims-Walker. What’s that? Sims-Walker has been playing? Ouch. Sorry, dude.
Tony Moeaki, Kansas City at Houston: Moeaki has been very consistent over the past three weeks, averaging four catches for 51 yards during that span including a touchdown. Look for those numbers to increase against the Texans this week, which are allowing an average of 329.6 passing yards per game this season. If there’s ever a time to start your Chiefs receivers, this is it.
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay vs. Miami: The rookie looks to see the majority of the playing time made available by the injuries to Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee against the Redskins last week. Unfortunately for Quarless, Aaron Rodgers was also injured and a Green Bay passing attack without Rodgers is nothing to be excited about.
Jason Witten, Dallas at Minnesota: Witten has dealt with several injuries this early in the season and has still responded well posting solid numbers each of the past three weeks including five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown last week. Witten faces the Vikings’ defense, which held Dustin Keller to only two catches for 14 yards on Monday night. The Cowboys will continue to rely on Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams to carry the offensive load, leaving Witten with just table scraps such as a third down conversion every other possession. Certainly not enough to warrant a start this week.