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.
Jon Kitna, Cincinnati (vs. Arizona): The Bengals have won their last three out of four games and in those games, Kitna has thrown 8 TDs and 0 INTs. Coincidence? I think not. Expect Kitna’s success to continue this week on the road as the Bengals are only one game out of first place in the AFC North (gasp!).
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia (vs. Atlanta): Say what? I know McNabb has been one of this year’s biggest disappointments, but the Eagles have won two in a row and head into Atlanta who have benched their entire secondary for this week’s game. If you’re feeling lucky, roll the dice on McNabb.
Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville (vs. Baltimore): Leftwich faces his third tough defense in a row as he goes from facing Miami and Tennessee, to Baltimore this week. Leftwich has thrown three INTs each of the past two games and you can bet Ray Lewis and company will make things difficult once again this week.
Patrick Ramsey, Washington (vs. Dallas): Although Ramsey did not throw an INT in his last game (a loss to Buffalo 24-7 two weeks ago), he posted his worst numbers of the season completing only eight passes for 112 yards. To add icing to the cake, Ramsey left the Buffalo game with a bruised throwing hand. This week he faces the Cowboys in Big D who are still stinging from being shut out last week. Don’t expect Ramsey to light it up.
BYE WEEK: Drew Bledsoe, Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Green, Steve McNair
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants (vs. N.Y. Jets): Rejoice Barber owners! For those of you that e-mailed me when Barber found his way on the bench side two weeks ago, he has redeemed himself! The fact that the Giants face a Jets defense this week that ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed doesn’t hurt either.
Marcel Shipp, Arizona (vs. Cincinnati): Apparently Mr. Shipp is not a reader of Fantasysharks.com because if he was, he would have known to hold off his 165-yard rushing performance until this week! You can’t expect Shipp to break the 150-yard mark again (can you?), but he will be a solid play this week and from here on.
Charlie Garner, Oakland (vs. Detroit): Just seeing a Raider on the Start list even gives me the creeps. But with Marques Tuiasosopo (say that name three times fast) likely to start at QB, the Raiders may actually hand the ball off to Garner more than 15 times which hasn’t happened all season.
Duce Staley, Philadelphia (vs. Atlanta): The Falcons are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, so why is Staley on this list? The simple fact is he’s no longer the #1 option in Philly. Even with Brian Westbrook out this week with a high ankle sprain, Correll Buckhalter is likely to see the majority of the carries. Do you still think holding out was your best course of action, Duce?
T.J. Duckett, Atlanta (vs. Philadelphia): Despite getting the majority of the carries lately, look for Duckett to once again start to lose some carries to Warrick Dunn this week. The Eagles are solid against the run and Atlanta won’t have much success with the passing game. Dan Reeves will need to creative in the running attack which should translate into more Dunn and less Duckett.
Ladell Betts/Trung Canidate, Washington (vs. Dallas): With Betts out this week with a broken forearm and Canidate doubtful with a high ankle sprain, head coach Steve Spurrier may be forced to use Chad Morton to start at RB this week. Obviously, no Skins running backs come recommended under these circumstances.
BYE WEEK: Travis Henry, William Green, James Jackson, Jamel White, Priest Holmes, Eddie George
Donald Driver, Green Bay (vs. Minnesota): You can bet the Packers will be fired up for this one as the Vikes were exposed last week by the Giants as a team than can be passed on. With Green Bay coming off a bye and Driver finally healthy, look for him to post strong numbers as the Pack try to get back into the NFC North race.
Darrell Jackson, Seattle (vs. Pittsburgh): The Seahawks head back home after a tough loss to the Bengals and the Steelers come to town after being torched by the Rams in the air last week. Look for Jackson to make amends for his performance last week after dropping three passes and losing a fumble with a big game this week.
Andre Johnson, Houston (vs. Carolina): Despite David Carr’s status being up in the air for this week’s game against the Panthers, the Texans should have success throwing the ball this week. Johnson has had more than 70 yards receiving in five of their first seven games and should be the main target once again this week.
Plaxico Burress, Pittsburgh (vs. Seattle): I don’t know if Burress is hurt and not revealing it, but he’s only caught one pass in two of the Steelers last three games. If he is going to get back on track, it should start this week against the Seahawks who allowed the Bengals to throw for 240 yards and two TDs last week.
Rod Smith, Denver (vs. New England): Seeing Danny Kanell at QB for the Broncos has got to be giving Smith night sweats. You know Pats head coach Bill Belichick will throw several different looks at the young QB causing confusion which means low numbers from the Broncos passing game and Smith will suffer because of it.
Peerless Price, Atlanta (vs. Philadelphia): With Mike Vick still not ready for Prime-Time, Kurt Kittner looks to get the nod this week against Philly. You’ve probably been used to seeing Price on your bench, so this week shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Ike Hilliard, N.Y. Giants (vs. N.Y. Jets): Hopefully you started Hilliard last week and his two TDs and nine catches for 100 yards. Combine the fact that Hilliard had a badly swollen knee after last week’s game and the Giants should have success moving the ball on the ground should translate to much lower numbers for Hilliard this week.
Marty Booker, Chicago (vs. Detroit): A high ankle sprain is likely to keep Booker on the bench once again this week. Too bad, as Chandler has been able to put up decent passing numbers.
BYE WEEK: Eric Moulds, Bobby Shaw, Josh Reed, Andre Davis, Dennis Northcutt, Kevin Johnson, Johnnie Morton, Eddie Kennison, Dante Hall, Derrick Mason, Drew Bennett, Justin McCareins
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta (vs. Philadelphia): While I don’t expect the Falcons passing game to post huge numbers, I do think Kittner will find Crumpler enough to warrant a start.
Daniel Graham, New England (vs. Denver): Was last week’s 7-catch 110-yard performance the start of big things for Graham? He’s worth a start this week to find out.
Justin Peelle, San Diego (vs. Chicago): Peelle sprained his left ankle in last week’s game against the Dolphins. His status for this week’s game is uncertain and that’s not what you need out of your fantasy TE.
Kris Mangum, Carolina (vs. Houston): Mangum suffered a bruised chest last week. I saw the hit he took and I lost my breath just watching it. Don’t expect big things from Mangum this week as he’s still catching his breath.
BYE WEEK: Mark Campbell, Steve Heiden, Tony Gonzalez, Erron Kinney