[dropcap]A[/dropcap] large part of being successful in fantasy football is determining the better match-ups in your lineup. Fantasy owners debate every week on what players are the better starts for their team. The difference in choosing one player over another in just one position could easily cost a win any given week.
Each week I feature three quarterbacks, three running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends and two defenses/special teams.
My attempt is not to name the guys you drafted in the first couple rounds that you should be starting every week no matter who they’re playing. These choices are almost exclusively based on the weekly opponent.
Philip Rivers vs. Denver
This may seem obvious, but with numerous bye weeks come slim pickings. Rivers was the best top option I could come up with that wasn’t in “elite” status like a P. Manning or Brees or Romo. I do really like the match-up for Rivers this week. The Broncos rank 29th in fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to quarterbacks at 25.1.
With Champ Bailey out, home field advantage and the Chargers likely having to keep up with the Broncos’ offense, Rivers should have another great day in fantasy land this week.
Russell Wilson @ Atlanta
Wilson had his sixth 200 yard+ performance of the year Sunday against the Buccaneers, adding two passing touchdowns and his first rushing touchdown of 2013. It was another underrated game from Wilson, who led the Seahawks in overcoming a 21 point deficit. He is currently the seventh best fantasy quarterback.
The success should continue for Wilson against Atlanta. The reeling Falcons are the ninth worst fantasy defense against quarterbacks with 23.8 FPPG allowed to the position. Wilson remains a Top 10 quarterback option in Week 10.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Buffalo
Very rarely, if ever, have I ranked Ben Roethlisberger as a weekly Top 15 quarterback this year. This week is one of those times. The 10 year veteran is coming off his best game of the season against the Patriots, throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns.
If Roethlisberger can put up those numbers against New England, who currently ranks 13th in FPPG allowed to quarterbacks, then he certainly can against the Bills, who rank 23rd, giving up 23.6 FPPG to quarterbacks.
Chris Johnson vs. Jacksonville
Look who’s back to prove everyone wrong. Chris Johnson had his first 100+ yard rushing game of the year in a big way against the Rams last weekend. After a tough first half schedule Johnson started making up for lost time on Sunday, gaining 170 yards and two rushing scores. He may very well see similar statistics against the Jaguars in Week 10 as Jacksonville surrenders 28.6 FPPG to running backs, third most in the league. What’s encouraging with CJ2K as well is that he’s caught 17 passes in his last four games after catching just four in his first four games. Johnson could put up a Top 5 finish again in Nashville on Sunday.
Mike James vs. Miami
Mike James was just the latest exploiter of Seattle’s recently lax rush defense. Zac Stacy exposed them in Week 8, rushing for 136 yards, and James had his turn on Sunday, rushing for 158 yards and even throwing for a score. Whispers of a Doug Martin return have been swirling around, but seem unlikely. I’m assuming James will get another start this week and take advantage of it.
The Dolphins biggest on-field issue in 2013 has to be their rush defense. They currently rank second to last in fantasy rush defense, giving up 29 FPPG to Mike James’ counterparts, including nine rushing touchdowns in eight games played. As long as Martin remains out, James could be a Top 20 running back option in Week 10.
Pierre Thomas vs. Dallas
The entire New Orleans offense has turned into a conundrum aside from Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. The usually reliable Marques Colston and Darren Sproles have been relative no-shows the last few weeks, and in the case of Colston – all season. The one bright spot the Saints have relied on more this season than in previous years is perennially underrated running back Pierre Thomas. Don’t look now, but Thomas is actually RB14 in PPR scoring formats, one spot ahead of Arian Foster (yes, I know, he’s missed some time, but it looks good).
Thomas and the Saints draw the Cowboys at home this week in what should be a bayou brawl. The great news for Thomas is that Dallas has not only been awful defending the run, they’ve given up the most receptions to running backs in the whole league (63). In total, the Cowboys allow 27 FPPG to running backs.
Hakeem Nicks vs. Oakland
Despite the lackluster season of Hakeem Nicks thus far, the tide has been turning in his favor in recent weeks. He’s seen 22 combined targets his last two games and has reasserted himself as the No. 2 wide receiver on the team. His outlook seems more promising this week as well as the Giants play a Raiders defense that just gave the kitchen sink to the Eagles’ offense.
Sunday’s outing increased Oakland’s FPPG allowed to wide receivers to 43.2, third worst in the NFL. While I don’t trust any Giant any given week, not even Victor Cruz, I would personally start Nicks against the Raiders this week, especially if a key receiver is on a bye.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Detroit
Even with quarterback Jay Cutler sidelined with a groin injury on Monday night, Jeffery proved he could still be a good fantasy option with WR2 potential behind capable backup Josh McCown. Brandon Marshall still saw more success, but Jeffery held his own while catching five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Now with Cutler back, Jeffery has even more upside.
The Lions give up 38.7 FPPG to wide receivers – plenty enough for you to start Jeffery with confidence again this week. He remains a low-end WR2.
Lance Moore vs. Dallas
I’m expecting Marques Colston to be back this week, but that has little to no impact on my expectations for Lance Moore in Week 10. Just like Colston has had little to no impact for fantasy teams this year (sorry, needed to vent). After an extremely slow start to the season, Moore has quickly made up for lost time after returning last week from injury. He caught three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 and six passes for 70 yards in Week 9. Moore is still a flex play at best right now, but this week against the 12th worst fantasy defense against wide receivers, I’d give Moore a shot.
Tim Wright vs. Miami
Guess who the No. 5 tight end is over the last three weeks? I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Jim Bright. Tim Wright has made the most of his opportunity since wide receiver Mike Williams went down with an ACL injury. Wright has given rookie quarterback Mike Glennon a safety blanket of sorts and has been a nice red-zone commodity, scoring two touchdowns in those three weeks. Wright should continue to see a good share of targets in Week 10 against the Dolphins, who allow 15.4 FPPG to tight ends. Wright is a great pickup/start this week for any Gronkowski or Cameron owners, or just in general.
Brent Celek/Zach Ertz @ Green Bay
While Brent Celek hasn’t had a game with more than three catches yet this season I still like his and Ertz’s chances this Sunday against the Packers, especially with Nick Foles at quarterback. After all, Celek scored just his third touchdown of the season and Ertz scored his first career touchdown in last week’s record-breaking performance from Foles. In addition, Green Bay is third worst in the league at 16.3 FPPG allowed to tight ends.
Bengals @ Baltimore
Even with the loss of their best defensive tackle and cornerback, Geno Atkins and Leon Hall, the Bengals are a good defensive unit. Since opening night against the Broncos, Baltimore has not scored three touchdowns in one game.
Buccaneers vs. Miami
Somewhat lost in the midst of the Dolphins’ debacle is the fact that they’ll be playing without two of their starting offensive linemen. Miami is allowing 7.3 FPPG to defenses, eighth worst in the league.
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