There are only two weeks of byes left. Several running back studs are on a bye this week, but the New York Giants, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots will put up so many passing and receiving yards, you won’t even notice those running backs are gone. Enjoy the fireworks as several teams post big passing stats before the real cold weather settles in and turns teams into running machines.
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 Houston
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis at Philadelphia
Drew Brees, New Orleans at Carolina
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs. Dallas
Matt Schaub, Houston vs. San Diego
Tom Brady, New England at Cleveland
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Jon Kitna, Dallas at Green Bay: Kitna has stepped into an ugly situation in Dallas and has made the most of it. He threw two touchdowns against the Giants mostly in garbage time after Tony Romo got hurt, but then last week he threw for 379 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that also included four interceptions. This week, he faces the Packers in Green Bay who have given up more than 300 yards to opposing quarterbacks twice and both times the opposing running back rushed for 50 yards or less. With the Cowboys still struggling in running the ball, you can bet Kitna will toss it up at least 40 times this week and have success in doing so. I don’t like Kitna long-term, but he’s worthy of a spot start if needed.
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants at
Seattle: Manning returns from a bye week after a very impressive game in Week 7 when he threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns at Dallas. At least two of the three interceptions he threw last week were on the receivers, not him. He faces a Seattle defense that allowed 33 points to the Oakland Raiders last week and currently ranks 29th in passing yards allowed. The Giants will have success on the ground and in the air, but Manning leads the way with big numbers this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo vs. Chicago: The hype-meter was maxed out on Fitzpatrick last week with some pundits placing him in the Top 5 quarterbacks as a start in Week 8. He responded by throwing for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception, average numbers at best. As the rest of the league continues to figure out Fitzpatrick, look for his numbers to remain in that range (less than 250 passing yards with one touchdown) for the rest of the season. The Bears’ defense, which hasn’t allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards since Week 3, will keep Fitzpatrick’s stats to a minimum.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia vs. Indianapolis: Temper your expectations on Vick’s return this week. Remember, this is a quarterback that hasn’t thrown an interception in 96 pass attempts. Statistically, that trend will change. He also hasn’t faced a pass defense as good as the Colts all season. Combine those reasons with the fact that he’s stated that he’ll be less inclined to run and will look to pass in pressure situations. Does anyone else smell 3-4 interceptions this week? Yes, Vick will gain 60-70 yards rushing and will probably throw for 180-200 yards, but if you’re hoping for the big numbers you saw at the start of the season, you’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment.
Arian Foster, Houston vs. San Diego
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Arizona
Darren McFadden, Oakland vs. Kansas City
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia vs. Indianapolis
Matt Forte, Chicago “at” Buffalo
Ray Rice, Baltimore vs. Miami
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
Ahmad Bradshaw, N.Y. Giants at Seattle: Bradshaw has been quite the steal for fantasy owners this season. Despite scoring only three touchdowns, he’s rushed for 708 yards in seven games, including three games of more than 125 yards rushing. This week, he faces a Seattle defense that allowed 239 yards rushing against the Raiders last week. Look for Bradshaw to surpass 100 yards rushing for the fourth time this season as the Giants offense will be firing on all cylinders this week.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City at Oakland: Hopefully, you’ve been listening to my preaching the good word on Charles as the Chiefs are starting to smarten up. Charles led the Chiefs in rushing last week carrying the ball for 177 yards on 22 carries. Look for more of the same this week as Charles faces the Raiders, which have allowed an average of 127.4 yards rushing per game this season. Charles will be the main man from here on out, so hopefully you bought low when you had the chance.
LaDainian Tomlinson, N.Y. Jets at Detroit: Tomlinson has been pretty quiet the last couple of weeks rushing for a combined 109 yards, but he scored twice during that span and has five rushing touchdowns on the season. The lousy quarterback play of Mark Sanchez hasn’t helped Tomlinson. Look for Tomlinson to post big numbers against the Lions, which are ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and will help Sanchez find enough room in the passing game to open up the middle for Tomlinson.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh: Benson has been a huge disappointment in fantasy this year rushing for just 545 yards in eight games (3.8 yards per carry) and scoring only two rushing touchdowns. That trend won’t change this week against the Steelers, which have allowed the fewest rushing yards on the year averaging just 58.9 yards to opposing offenses. Sorry “Ced,” it’s time to ride the pine for a little while.
Jahvid Best, Detroit vs. N.Y. Jets: The return of Matthew Stafford and Kevin Smith have helped the Lions’ offense, but downgraded the number of opportunities for Best. While Best seems recovered from a toe injury that slowed him down during the entire month of October, he now has plenty of company in the Lions’ offense. Facing the Jets this week is not a good time to bet on Best seeing enough chances to make your gamble worth it.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Anybody who watched the end of the Buccaneers/Cardinals game last week saw enough of Blount to be very interested in adding him to their fantasy squad as he rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns. I definitely recommend snagging Blount off the waiver wire, but don’t be too quick in inserting him into your lineup. The Cardinals are ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed for a reason. The Falcons have only allowed an average of 95.9 rushing yards per game this season good enough for sixth in the NFL. Blount is a nice long-term keeper, but don’t count on a repeat performance this week in Atlanta.
Bye Weeks: Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Laurent Robinson, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong
Roddy White, Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
Hakeem Nicks, N.Y. Giants at Seattle
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs. N.Y. Jets
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh
Miles Austin, Dallas at Green Bay
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis at Philadelphia
Andre Johnson, Houston vs. San Diego
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore vs. Miami
Brandon Marshall, Miami at Baltimore
Patrick Crayton, San Diego at Houston: Malcom Floyd being doubtful for this week’s matchup against the Texans is like feeling sick on Thanksgiving. The passing and receiving yards are there for the taking against the worst pass defense in the league. Look for Crayton and Antonio Gates to have huge games, leaving Floyd’s stomach rumbling on the sidelines thinking about what could have been.
Marques Colston, New Orleans at Carolina: Don’t look now, but Colston has been heating up catching 16 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games. With Chris Ivory questionable due to a concussion last week, the Saints do not have many options left at running back. Look for Drew Brees to keep Colston happy with plenty of action as the Saints pile up the points against the Panthers this week.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Don’t confuse your Mike Williams’ this week. The Buccaneers’ Williams caught four passes for 105 yards and a score last week against the Cardinals. This week he faces a Falcons defense that has allowed 260.3 yards per game, including an average of 7.8 yards per completion which is the third highest total of the NFL. Look for Williams to surpass the 100-yard receiving mark for the second straight week as Tampa Bay has no problem moving the ball in the air.
Wes Welker, New England at Cleveland: Yes, Welker was removed from the “Studs” list because he can no longer be relied on to consistently post big numbers without Randy Moss. However, Brandon Tate had a big game last week and I expect the Patriots to use Tate in stretching the defense opening up the middle for Welker against the Browns. Tom Brady should bounce back from last week’s below average performance and Welker will be the primary beneficiary.
Kevin Walter, Houston vs. San Diego: Those of you that picked up Walter after his 11-catch, 114-yard and one-touchdown performance back in Week 2 can finally throw in the towel. Walter was held without a catch for the second straight week. In two of the next three games he faces the Chargers and Jets. “Buh-bye, K-Walt.” Time to cut the cord.
Mike Williams, Seattle vs. N.Y. Giants: This Mike Williams belongs on your bench this week as he faces a nasty Giants defense. I feel like I’m playing the shell game on a street corner in New York City right now trying to figure out which Williams is which. Williams missed time last week with a knee injury which partially explains his one catch for 27 yards. Another reason was, well, he couldn’t get open. There won’t be many openings this week against the Giants, which have allowed a league-low 12 passes for 20 yards or more over their first seven games.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City at Oakland: Bowe has played well lately, catching five touchdowns over the past three weeks, but you know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I won’t get fooled again into thinking Bowe has returned to start status. I fully expect the Raiders to contain Bowe whether or not Nnamdi Asomugha plays this week.
Johnny Knox, Chicago “at” Buffalo: Knox has had a solid couple of weeks, catching 11 passes for 206 yards and a score in the last two games combined for Chicago. However, this is the same receiver that caught only two passes for 40 yards in Weeks 4 and 5 combined. The Bears’ offense has been less than consistent this season (to put it mildly). The Bills’ pass defense has been consistent. Despite only intercepting one pass in the first seven games, Buffalo has allowed an average of just 195.6 yards passing per game, which is good enough for sixth in the league. With the horrendous play of the Chicago offensive line, the Bills will contain Chicago’s passing game, keeping the stats for Knox at a low level.
Antonio Gates, San Diego at Houston
Jason Witten, Dallas at Green Bay
Zach Miller, Oakland vs. Kansas City
Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets at Detroit
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
Ben Watson, Cleveland vs. New England: Opposing tight ends have scored in four of the Patriots’ seven games this season. With Cleveland’s receiving core diminished, look for Watson to be the primary target this week against his old team. Watson has caught at least five passes in five of the six past games, so expect him to be near the top of the tight ends for stats when all is said and done on Sunday.
Aaron Hernandez, New England at Cleveland: The Patriots’ offense is cyclical. Some weeks the running game is working and others it’s all about the pass. Last week, the running game dominated the Vikings, which kept Hernandez blocking and the end result was his lowest stats since Week 1. Don’t worry Hernandez owners, he’ll bounce back along with the rest of the Patriots’ passing game in a big way against the Browns, which are 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Start the rookie with confidence this week on the road in Cleveland.
, Minnesota vs. Arizona: Shiancoe was stud material before he suffered a hamstring injury and the Vikings acquired Randy Moss. Since Week 2, Shiancoe has averaged only two catches for 21 yards per game and he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1. Don’t expect much from Shiancoe as the entire Vikings team is in disarray.
Anthony Fasano, Miami at Baltimore: Fasano has not helped Chad Henne’s development as he’s dropped several catchable passes this season that have put the Dolphins in difficult passing situations. Against the Ravens this week, Fasano should be counted on for nothing more than blocking and keeping Henne standing up. Anything else is a bonus.