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.
Marc Bulger, St. Louis (vs. Green Bay): Bulger has to be licking his chops at the chance to face a Green Bay secondary that allowed 400 yards passing to the Chiefs last week. Bulger’s numbers last Monday night were impressive enough (350 yards, 2 TDs) to take notice and plug him into your starting lineup.
Steve McNair, Tennessee (vs. Carolina): Air McNair is truly living up to his nickname these days. He’s averaged 390 yards passing the past two weeks. This week McNair faces the undefeated Panthers and something tells me the Panthers are going down. If the Titans pull off the upset, it’ll be due to the right arm of Mr. McNair.
Drew Brees, San Diego (vs. Cleveland): Normally, I like players coming off a bye week but the Chargers do not have an easy matchup this week. Brees faces the Dawg Pound and a Browns defense that is ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Pass on Brees this week.
Trent Green, Kansas City (vs. Oakland): If you didn’t play Trent Green last week, you missed your chance. Green posted 400 yards passing against the Packers but chances are he’ll return to his 150-175 passing yards this week on the road in Oakland. The Chiefs will run Priest Holmes all night long and there’s nothing the Raiders can do about it.
BYE WEEK: Jeff Blake, Peyton Manning, Byron Leftwich, Tommy Maddox
Ladell Betts, Washington (vs. Buffalo): With Trung Canidate likely to miss this week’s game against the Bills with a high ankle sprain, Betts should be the main ball carrier. The Bills have allowed an average of 121 yards rushing thus far and Betts should thrive in his chance to shine as the #1 back for the Skins.
Troy Hambrick, Dallas (vs. Detroit): Hambrick hasn’t lit the world on fire since his 127 yards rushing in week four. He’s only averaged 2.6 yards per carry since then, but chances are the Lions will help increase that average this week. Detroit has allowed an average of 128.6 yards per game this season which should get Hambrick back on track.
T.J.Duckett, Atlanta (vs. New Orleans): Another RBBC team, another bold RB prediction. The Falcons have been giving Duckett more carries than Dunn each of the last three weeks. Expect that trend to continue and Duckett should have success against a Saints team that has allowed an average of 126 yards rushing per game.
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants (vs. Philadelphia): This is not an easy call to make. Barber is the main cog in the Giants rushing attack, but four fumbles in five games, Tiki? What’s up with that? The G-Men face a Philly team that in #1 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. If you have another decent option, you may consider giving Barber a rest.
Eddie George, Tennessee (vs. Carolina): Where have you gone Eddie George? 2.8 yards per carry, only two games with over 60 rushing yards and one TD after six weeks is not someone I want in my starting lineup.
Mike Cloud, New England (vs. Miami): I guarantee Cloud’s name was mentioned on transaction reports all across the fantasy football nation last week and rightly so. But after a 9-carry, 23-yard performance last week and a tough Dolphins defense on the horizon, don’t expect Cloud to be the savior just yet.
BYE WEEK: Marcel Shipp, Edgerrin James, Fred Taylor, Amos Zereoue, Jerome Bettis
Joe Horn, New Orleans (vs. Atlanta): Just when I think Horn is going to bust out of his funk, he catches only three passes. Granted one of them was for a TD, but where’s the huge game? That may happen this week against the Falcons. Did anyone see what Torry Holt did on Monday night? You can bet Joe Horn saw every play.
Santana Moss, N.Y. Jets (vs. Houston): Moss is getting more looks each week in the Jets offense and for good reason. The guy flies and he gets open. This week Moss & Co. face a Texans team that is dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Moss will get his groove going this week, so don’t miss out.
Joey Galloway, Dallas (vs. Detroit): Galloway only has two catches each of the past two games, but you can expect those numbers to go up this week as he faces a Detroit defense that has already allowed 10 passing TDs in only five games.
Quincy Morgan, Cleveland (vs. San Diego): Trying to pick which Browns receiver will out-perform the rest, is harder than playing craps in Vegas after ten Captain ‘N’ Cokes. Not that I have any idea how that would feel or anything. I’ll roll the dice on Morgan being Couch’s favorite target this week against the Bolts at home.
Troy Brown, New England (vs. Miami): I’ll be honest, I’m a Troy Brown owner. Make that a frustrated Troy Brown owner. For every 7-catch day, he throws up a 1-catch day. That type of inconsistency will only hurt you in fantasy football. Keep Brown on the bench this week against Miami in sunny FLA.
Marty Booker, Chicago (vs. Seattle): Booker sprained his ankle last week against the Saints which forced him to leave the game in the first quarter and he’s been unable to practice since then. With the Bears struggling in the passing game, it’s best to look elsewhere for a viable starter this week.
Travis Taylor, Baltimore (vs. Cincinnati): Until Kyle Boller consistently throws for more than 100 yards in a game (he’s only done so twice in five games), the Ravens WRs should all be benched. Since Taylor is the best of the pitiful bunch, he gets the headlines and the big thumbs down.
Todd Pinkston, Philadelphia (vs. N.Y. Giants): Pinkston injured his knee last week, but an MRI showed only a bruise. Even still, Pinkston does not come recommended until McNabb, who is nursing a hand injury himself, starts throwing downfield more often.
BYE WEEK: Anquan Boldin, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Jimmy Smith, Matt Hatchette, Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (vs. Oakland): Finally! It only took six weeks for Tony Gonzalez to have a Gonzo-type game. Even though I don’t think Trent Green will have much success this week against the Raiders, what Green will do is look Gonzo’s way often enough to warrant a start.
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta (vs. New Orleans): Look for Crumpler to return to the 50+ yards receiving range this week against the Saints who allow yards both on the ground and in the air.
Billy Miller, Houston (vs. N.Y. Jets): Miller had a nice game last week (6 catches for 47 yards), but he hasn’t had more than 3 catches or 20 yards in any other game yet this season. Expect a return of the low stats this week.
Justin Peelle, San Diego (vs. Cleveland): Another player coming off a bye week, another bench guy. With low expectations for Brees this week, there’s no reason to believe Peelle will do anything worthy of a start against the Browns.
BYE WEEK: Freddie Jones, Marcus Pollard, Dallas Clark, Kyle Brady, Jay Riemersma