Every week of the 2011 NFL season I will be putting out an article of the top “starts” and “sits” for the upcoming week in fantasy football. Keep in mind that no one can predict what will happen on Sunday’s and I encourage everyone to make their own decisions, but hopefully I can provide some insight. Players I deem as good “starts” for the week I think will have a better than projected week and should find a way into your starting lineup. On the other hand players I name as “sits” I personally would rather find room on my bench in favor of someone else. Of course when it comes down to week to week decisions you always start your studs, and just because I think Steven Jackson is “sit” worthy doesn’t mean you necessarily have someone worth starting over him. Take it for what it is worth and good luck this week.
–Ryan Fitzpatrick(start): After a truly horrendous seven game stretch for a quarterback where Fitzpatrick averaged a measly 8.85 fantasy points per week, he finally returned to fantasy relevance in week twelve with a 25 point game. It is hard to take this as a definite sign of trending upwards, but with running back Fred Jackson out for the year and C.J. Spiller looking terrible as his replacement, Fitzpatrick must understand the offensive burden is nearly all on him. So although another 20 plus point performance is unlikely, the workload will be there again for Fitzpatrick and he should be valuable if he can keep his turnovers down. If he managed 264 yards, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers against the Jets defense, I don’t see an average Titans secondary giving him any more trouble.
–Eli Manning(start): Eli Manning has arguably provided one of the best values for fantasy quarterbacks this year. Rarely being drafted as a top ten signal caller, he is currently ranked the number six fantasy quarterback and is averaging 17.2 fantasy points per week. On Monday night against the Saints, Eli posted 22 fantasy points. Anyone who watched the game could attest that this number could have been even higher if their offense wasn’t plagued with so many dropped passes and missed opportunities. This week Eli will take on the Green Bay Packers, who present a very similar matchup to the Saints. While it is unlikely for Eli to break 400 passing yards again, chances are the Giants will fall behind in the game and garbage time fantasy points can be all so sweet.
–Tim Tebow(sit): Tim Tebow has been unbelievable to watch and there is rarely a day that goes by where he is not mentioned on ESPN. As captivating as his wins have been, as much as Tebow has believed and inspired teammates, and despite proving so many critics wrong for a fifth win now, he just simply isn’t a stud caliber fantasy quarterback. Many fantasy analysts grew excited when in Tebow’s first three starts he posted two games of 20+ fantasy points. In his remaining four starts though, Tebow has averaged a respectable, but not elite, 14.75 fantasy points per game. Many will be fooled by the matchup this week against the Minnesota Vikings who currently are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Is Tebow truly a quarterback? Yes the Vikings secondary has been miserable but in Tebow’s six starts he only has completed ten passes a game on average. While the rushing numbers will be there, the Vikings strength on defense is against the run and against quarterbacks they are only allowing 3.5 yards per carry. Of course don’t ever tell Tebow he can’t do something, but I would look elsewhere.
–Matt Ryan(sit): Matt Ryan has begun to turn it on as we reach the fantasy playoffs. Last Sunday Ryan posted his third 20+ point fantasy performance in the past four games. Through that stretch, he averages over two touchdowns a game and has thrown for over 250 yards in every start. This Sunday the Falcons will travel to Houston where they will take on the Texan’s secondary which has allowed an average 9.2 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the year, and 4.8 fantasy points through the last five games. Yes, 4.8 fantasy points for a quarterback. That is the equivalent to 125 yards passing and 0 touchdowns. Granted the quarterbacks the Texans have faced in the past five weeks were Matt Hasselbeck, Colt McCoy, Josh Freeman, and Blaine Gabbert twice. Matt Ryan clearly is the cream of the crop in this list of names, but only allowing an average of 121 passing yards through six weeks doesn’t happen by accident.
–LeGarrette Blount(start): LeGarrette Blount has had a disappointing season so far currently ranked outside of the top 25 fantasy running backs. He seems to have found his stride somewhat over the past two weeks rushing for over a hundred yards in both games. While his surprising lack of touchdowns has killed a lot of his value, he gets a dream matchup against the Panthers this week. Here are some stats for you. In ten of their eleven games the Panthers have given up 100 yards. The Panthers allow slightly over one rushing touchdown a game, and have given up a rushing touchdown in nine out of their 11 games. The NFL average for fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs is 16. The Panthers average this year is 24.8. Here’s to hoping Blount is in your starting line up this week, and not your opponents.
–BenJavrus Green-Ellis(start): BenJarvus Green-Ellis has actually been a viable fantasy option certain weeks this year considering he remains in a backfield filled with four other runners. Undoubtedly his biggest asset is his goal line ability. Last week against the Eagles, Green-Ellis broke his scoring drought when he found the end zone twice. This week he gets to take on the Colts defense who are actually worse than the Eagles currently, allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs. On top of that the Colts lead the NFL in touchdowns allowed to running backs with 15. Call him BenJarvus Green-Ellis, BJGE, or the Law Firm. Whatever you choose, just make sure he is in your lineup.
–Steven Jackson(sit): Steven Jackson went through a hot streak in the middle of the year where he looked like he could possibly end up as a top ten running back. His numbers have been impressive again this year considering the lack of offense from the Rams. Regardless, Jackson has cooled off in the past two weeks failing to run for over 65 yards, and now has four straight scoreless games. Against the 49ers this week his numbers are bound to be limited again. It really doesn’t matter how good the running back, the 49ers have found a way to shut them down. Remember that NFL average 16 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs? Well, the 49ers lead the NFL with a league low 8.5 fantasy points a week, and still have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. It doesn’t look appealing for Jackson, whose yardage totals haven’t been good in the past weeks.
–Jackie Battle(sit): Jackie Battle had a stretch of three promising weeks in which he ran fairly well after taking over for injured Jamal Charles. Since then, the Chiefs backfield has been crowded with options like Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster and Leron McClain. Battle has seen his touches drop into the single digits, and although he is a viable goal line option, he surprisingly only has one carry inside the opponents five yard line. This week the Chiefs take on the Bears who have one of the better run defenses in the NFL. At this point, it is better to stay away from the Chiefs backfield all together.
–Percy Harvin(start): Percy Harvin has back to back games with a receiving touchdown and has taken advantage of his new found plethora of targets. With Adrian Peterson on the sideline last week, and now Michael Jenkins, the Vikings second wide receiver, likely to be out with injury as well, Harvin get see plenty of looks. If the Vikings plan on moving the ball this weekend it is going to be through Harvin. The matchup against the Bronco’s isn’t the greatest, but when you get opportunities to touch the ball as a running back, wide receiver, and return man, you are bound to strike gold once right?
–Laurent Robinson(start): Laurent Robinson has been on a tear as the main beneficiary of Miles Austin’s injury struggles this season. Robinson actually ranks as the number 16 fantasy wide receiver. Even more shocking, through his last five games Robinson has an unheard of seven touchdowns. A favorable matchup against Arizona this week should help Robinson because the Cardinals really only have one threat in the secondary in Patrick Peterson who will have his hands full with Dez Bryant. Miles Austin hasn’t practiced this week but his return is possible. This clearly would limit Robinson’s numbers somewhat, but how can you sit a player who has found pay dirt five straight weeks.
–Santonio Holmes(sit): Santonio Holmes has really fallen from fantasy glory this year due to the poor play of Mark Sanchez and the red zone addition of Plaxico Burress. Ranked currently as the 30th best fantasy receiver in the league, Holmes still has yet to have a hundred yard receiving game this season. With consistently low yardage totals, and not even being the biggest red zone threat on his own team, it is hard to imagine Holmes having a solid fantasy day against a stout Redskins secondary. At this point Plaxico is almost the guy you feel better starting.
–Torrey Smith(sit): Torrey Smith has given the Raven’s the deep threat they have been lacking for years. Although Smith is a top 20 fantasy wide receiver up to this point, owners should remember that nearly 38% of his total fantasy points were earned in week 3 against the Rams. To take that stat even further, Smith has scored nearly 77% of his fantasy points in 3 out of the 9 games he played in. This week Smith takes on the Cleveland Browns who are the best defense against opposing wide receivers. Smith produces big games when he is able to get behind defense and break one deep. It just doesn’t seem likely to happen this week.
–Antonio Gates(start): Antonio Gates has continued to produce despite his injury prone body and the overall struggles of the San Diego Chargers. In his six games back he now has touchdowns in four. Besides two or three top tight ends, this year has been pretty weak for the position as a whole so finding one who gets in the end zone is promising. The matchup is also in Gates favor this week as he takes on the Jaguars who are giving up the third most points to opposing fantasy tight ends.
–Aaron Hernandez(start): Aaron Hernandez has really taken the back seat to Rob Gronkowski this year who has been an absolute fantasy stud. The Patriots take on the Colts this week who actually tend to be pretty good against the tight end. Fortunately for Hernandez he is used much more as a wide out which should favor him in this game. There should be plenty of looks to go around for both the Patriots tight ends in this game.
–Vernon Davis(sit): Vernon Davis cooled off last week against the Ravens which seemed bound to happen. Things don’t get much better this week when Davis takes on the Rams who are actually leading the league in least amount fantasy points allowed against tight ends. They have only given up one touchdown to the position this year, are allowing only an average of 2.9 fantasy points. The 49ers have shut down the likes of Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley, so be weary of starting Davis.
–Heath Miller(sit): Heath Miller is loved in Pittsburgh for his clutch receptions and bulldozer like plays after the catch. For fantasy purposes though he just doesn’t cut it. With only two touchdowns on the year he is barely inside the top 20 tight ends. This week the matchup against the Bengals isn’t very favorable as supported by the 3 fantasy points they held Miller to in week 10.
–Patriots(start): The Patriots defense has been mediocre on the year but rather hot as of late. The biggest plus side about this group is they have yet to score negative fantasy points which is important from a defensive perspective. This week they go against the Colts who are not only allowing an average of 11.2 fantasy points to opposing defenses which is second worst in the league, but they also are turning to quarterback Dan Orlovsky as their starter. There is a reason you haven’t heard that name in awhile.
–Lions(sit): The Lions have been good this year for defensive purposes but run into the Saints this week. Drew Brees seemed to enjoy putting up 49 points against the Giants on Monday Night, and probably won’t have too much trouble repeating that performance against a Lions defense who will be without their lead defensive linemen, Ndamukong Suh.