The last bye week of the season is upon us. For you McNabb owners, you’re probably 6-2 or 5-3 at the worst anyway, so you should have some room for error. For the rest of us, it’s the home stretch with only five weeks remaining until most leagues begin their playoffs. Continue to play your studs and don’t overthink your lineups. Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning gave everyone a reminder last week why you always play your studs.
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. This list will change from week to week. The first week, the studs will consist of the preseason top “tier” at each position.
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!!
Bye Weeks: Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, Chad Pennington, Donovan McNabb
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants vs. Houston
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. New England
Tom Brady, New England vs. Indianapolis
Marc Bulger, St. Louis vs. Kansas City
Michael Vick, Atlanta* vs. Detroit
Jon Kitna, Detroit (vs. Atlanta): The Lions return from their bye week with a favorable matchup for their passing game and Jon Kitna. Kitna is averaging close to 275 yards passing in his last two games and the Falcons are two weeks removed from allowing over 400 yards in the air to the Steelers. While you shouldn’t expect that many yards from Kitna, 280+ passing yards and two TDs is reasonable.
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay): After throwing three TDs in each of the past two games, Brees is one more solid performance away from the Studs list. Brees tore apart the Ravens last week throwing for over 380 yards in a loss. Brees and the Saints defeated the Bucs in week five. This week the Saints head to Tampa, but look for Brees to post better numbers than the 171 yards passing and one TD from their last meeting.
Jake Plummer, Denver (vs. Pittsburgh): Plummer played a solid game against the Colts last week, but his numbers (174 yards passing, one TD, one rushing TD) were far from stellar. The Steelers lost last week despite only allowing 51 yards passing. Look for the Steelers to shut down the passing game of the Broncos and force them to run which will make Shanahan very happy.
Vince Young, Tennessee (vs. Jacksonville): The growing pains are setting in for Young and Leinart. It was only a matter of time. Yes, Young will scramble for the occasional TD which will help offset the porous passing stats, but the Jags will be ready for the rookie and his stats will be ugly.
Bye Weeks: Edgerrin James, DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Leon Washington, Kevan Barlow, Cedric Houston, Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. Cleveland
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants vs. Houston
Larry Johnson, Kansas City vs. St. Louis
Frank Gore, San Francisco vs. Minnesota
Steven Jackson, St. Louis vs. Kansas City
Kevin Jones, Detroit* vs. Atlanta
Fred Taylor, Jacksonville (vs. Tennessee): Taylor has cracked the 100-yard rushing mark in two of the past three games. With the Titans ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, you can expect Taylor to post solid numbers once again despite the presence of Jones-Drew.
Laurence Maroney, New England (vs. Indianapolis): Maroney didn’t see much action on Monday night, but that’s because Brady decided to pick apart the Vikings defense all night long with the pass. The Colts rank dead last in the NFL in stopping the run allowing an average of 168 yards rushing per game. Do you think Belichick will exploit that weakness at home? Don’t miss Maroney running wild this week.
Warrick Dunn, Atlanta (vs. Detroit): The re-emergence of Michael Vick in the last two games has left Dunn with very low numbers due to his lack of involvement in the passing game. Those low numbers were also against the Steelers and the Bengals. The Lions are much more susceptible to allowing yards on the ground and the Falcons and Dunn will return to moving the ball on the ground this week with success.
Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati (vs. Baltimore): With Chris Perry returning and the Bengals heading into Baltimore who have allowed the least amount of rushing yards this season, Johnson makes a very poor start this week. Unless your only other options were Brian Westbrook and Edgerrin James, you should look elsewhere for your starter this week.
Reuben Droughns, Cleveland (vs. San Diego): Don’t let last week’s stats fool you. Droughns had a great matchup and it still took him 33 carries to run for 125 yards. The Chargers will make things much tougher for Droughns this week as a return to the 13 carries for 40 yards mark is expected.
Wali Lundy, Houston (vs. N.Y. Giants): Here’s another potential fantasy trap that you’ll want to avoid this week. Lundy has posted solid back-to-back games, but again you need to consider the opponents. The Titans rank 31st in stop the run while the Giants rank 12th. With the question marks at QB, expect the Giants to focus on stopping the run minimizing the chances for Lundy’s success for a third week in a row.
Bye Weeks: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson, Troy Walters, Steve Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Drew Carter, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Justin McCareins, Reggie Brown, Donte’ Stallworth, Greg Lewis
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
Terrell Owens, Dallas vs. Washington
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
Andre Johnson, Houston vs. N.Y. Giants
Darrell Jackson, Seattle vs. Oakland
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis vs. New England
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. New England
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Kansas City
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
Roy Williams, Detroit vs. Atlanta
Marques Colston, New Orleans* vs. Tampa Bay
Mike Furrey, Detroit (vs. Atlanta): Even with a healthy Roy Williams, the Lions will have enough success in the air that you can start Furrey this week and still expect 6-7 catches, 80-90 yards receiving and a score. I’ll take those numbers from a #2 WR on my fantasy team any day of the week.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh (vs. Denver): Ward has caught eight passes in each of the last two games for Pittsburgh. This week, he’ll face the Broncos who Peyton Manning torched last week. While Roethlisberger and Ward won’t match the success of Manning and Reggie Wayne, Ward will post solid numbers against the Broncos.
Plaxico Burress, N.Y. Giants (vs. Houston): Burress is evolving into more than just a jump-ball threat. Eli Manning is looking his way frequently enough to anoint Burress as the #1 WR for the G-Men. The last time Houston faced an offense like this, Dallas QBs threw for three TDs. Expect Manning to find Burress open enough for him to post his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and his sixth TD is not out of the question.
Antonio Bryant, San Francisco (vs. Minnesota): Bryant and the Niners have faced a string of tough defenses against the pass (Oakland, Chicago, and San Diego). You can bet Bryant was licking his chops as he watched Monday night’s game as the Vikings looked dreadful in stopping the pass. San Fran won’t have as an easy time as the Patriots did, but Bryant will post numbers worthy of a start.
Deion Branch, Seattle (vs. Oakland): I feel for you Deion Branch owners. You take a chance on him during the draft hoping he’ll catch on somewhere. Seattle picks him up and with Shaun Alexander hurt, they employ a four-WR set and they pass like crazy. Then Hasselbeck gets hurt and Seneca Wallace takes over at QB. Unfortunately for Branch owners, you can expect more of the same from last week (2-3 catches, 40-50 yards) as Branch goes through another set of changes in Seattle.
Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans): Galloway has been the model of inconsistency this season. Twice he failed to catch a pass in a game and twice he has surpassed the 100-yard mark in receiving yards. Against the Saints this week, I’m expecting the “bad” Joey to show up matching his totals from last week (4 catches, 32 yards) again in week nine.
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland (vs. San Diego): It’s officially time to give up hope that the Braylon Edwards that posted back-to-back 100-yard receiving games in weeks two and three will return anytime soon. The Browns will struggle again in the passing game and Edwards will not do anything worthy of a start this week against the Chargers.
Randy Moss, Oakland (vs. Seattle): Moss owners got a taste of what was expected this season two weeks ago when he caught seven passes for 129 yards and a score. Unfortunately for Moss owners, that performance was an aberration and not the norm for Moss this year. Seattle will follow the blueprint drawn up by the Steelers last week and apply pressure to Walter which will restrict his timing patterns and keep Moss in the short slant routes. Moss has dropped a few passes in the last couple weeks and he’ll face his fair share of tough hits again this week in Seattle.
Bye Weeks: Adam Bergen, Leonard Pope, Kris Mangum, Michael Gaines, Chris Baker, L.J. Smith, Matt Schobel
Studs (* = new addition to the list)
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. Cleveland
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. St. Louis
Kellen Winslow, Cleveland vs. San Diego
Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants vs. Houston
Todd Heap, Baltimore vs. Cincinnati
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta vs. Detroit
Desmond Clark, Chicago* vs. Miami
Ben Watson, New England (vs. Indianapolis): Watson played a large role in the Patriots passing success last Monday night catching seven passes for 95 yards and a TD. Look for Brady to pull out all the stops like he usually does against the Colts and Watson will reap the benefits.
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis (vs. New England): The Patriots will need to pick their poison in attempting to stop the potent Colts offensive attack. With Reggie Wayne blowing up last week and Marvin Harrison being, well, Marvin Harrison, you can bet the Colts WRs will receive plenty of attention. Clark could be the secret weapon that Manning relies on in the middle of the field and as the hot read against the Patriots blitz. Look for Clark to see close to 8-10 passes sent his way which should translate into solid numbers for a starting TE.
Ben Troupe, Tennessee (vs. Jacksonville): Bo Scaife has cut into the little action the TEs in Tennessee have received this year. With Vince Young likely on the run for most of the game this week, look for Troupe to serve more as a blocker than a receiver minimizing his fantasy stats once again.
Alex Smith, Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans): Smith caught a TD pass in both week five and six, but has managed only three catches since then none of which included an end zone celebration. With the Bucs passing attack likely to struggle this week against the Saints, don’t expect Smith to be practicing his new version of the Lipton Iced Tea splash.