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 Tom Brady 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.
-Phillip Rivers(start): Phillip Rivers enters week ten after a monster game on Sunday in which he threw for nearly 400 yards combined with four touchdowns. Unfortunately, Rivers was yet again hindered by his abundance of turnovers, throwing three interceptions and fumbling once. Yes, the turnovers were still present, but many would argue last Sunday was the first game the Charger’s offense really started to operate like they were expected to entering the season. With the Chargers running backs still banged up, and a relatively cushy matchup against the Oakland Raiders secondary, Rivers should have no issue throwing for his sixth game of over 300 yards this year. The question is can he limit the turnovers during the primetime Thursday night matchup.
-Mark Sanchez(start): Before his week eight bye, Mark Sanchez had a streak of three games where he managed to put up solid fantasy numbers. Owners will be happy to know that one of these games was the week five matchup against the New England Patriots, Sanchez’s opponent this Sunday. It has been noted numerous times this year that the Patriots secondary is horrible, and allowing an average of two touchdowns a game isn’t helping anything. In a Sunday night game with the division lead on the line, Rex Ryan should open up his playbook for Sanchez. Two hundred yards passing and two touchdowns should be easy to accomplish for the USC product.
-Tom Brady(sit): Let me make this clear, your starting Tom Brady. Unless as an owner you were lucky enough to land Cam Newton or Tim Tebow off the waiver wire, chances are Tom Brady has been in your starting line up every week. Despite that, has anyone noticed just how mediocre he has been? In the past five weeks Brady’s highest fantasy point total is 17 points. Brady has only managed to throw for over 300 yards twice in those five weeks, and he has a combined seven turnovers throughout that stretch. This Sunday Brady will take on the New York Jets who are allowing the least fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. In their week five matchup Brady posted his lowest fantasy total of the year. Fantasy owners would probably feel sick to their stomachs putting Brady on the bench, but if you are blessed with other viable options, I wouldn’t call you crazy.
-Matt Schaub(sit): Matt Schaub has done more than what was expected of him this year, especially with his pro bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson on the sidelines for many of the games. With Johnson out and Arian Foster fully healthy, the main attraction of this offense has been the run game. It just so happens that the Buccaneers have one of the worst run defenses in the league and are giving up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing running backs. This game could end up being similar to last week where the Texans get up early because of their run game and Schaub will really have no reason to air it out.
-Demarco Murray(start): Demarco Murray was given the opportunity to take over the Cowboys lead running back roll after Felix Jones’s injury, and boy did he ever. After his week seven explosion for 253 yards, Murray has proved this was not a blip averaging a ridiculous 8.5 yards per carry. Murray is explosive, and continues to make the most of his opportunities. In his three game stretch as a starter Murray is averaging 0.92 fantasy points per touch. That means Murray is tallying a fantasy point for his owners nearly every time he gets his hands on the ball. If you don’t think that is impressive, take into perspective that Adrian Peterson also averages the same 0.92 fantasy points per touch over his last three games. You’d start Adrian Peterson wouldn’t you?
-Mike Tolbert(start): Mike Tolbert hasn’t been an every week starter, but he is certainly a viable flex play when he gets the opportunity. Take this into consideration, Tolbert has been given double digit carries in three games this year and in all three of those games he has also had double digit fantasy points. With the Chargers playing Thursday night it is hard to imagine Ryan Matthews will be ready to go a hundred percent on the short week of rest. Even if Matthews is a go, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Tolbert still get more touches, and really all he needs is a goal line carry or two to make fantasy owner’s decisions to start him a great one.
-LeGarrette Blount(sit): LeGarrette Blount is a big scary man, and when he plows his way into the end zone while running over defensive backs fantasy owners love him. Unfortunately, Blount has only managed to reach pay dirt in two games this year. Blount will still get his touches, but what is concerning is the use of Kreg Lumpkin as a third down back as of late. No third down opportunities mean less touches, less touches mean fewer opportunities for fantasy goodness, less fantasy goodness means unhappy owners. As if that didn’t make you frown, Blount takes on the Texans this week who are allowing the third fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this year and are capable of getting up on their opponents early.
-Rashard Mendenhall(sit): Rashard Mendenhall only has three double digit fantasy performances all year. Owners are most likely well aware and frustrated with this, but after coming off a double digit point week it would be foolish to get excited. The Steelers have been throwing the ball like crazy the past couple weeks and as a result of that, Mendenhall has only seen thirteen carries in each of his last three games. This certainly seems like a trend, and the only opportunity for Mendenhall to save his fantasy days lately has been finding the end zone which he has only done four times in nine games.
-Eric Decker(start): Eric Decker now has five out of eight games with double digit fantasy points, including two out of three games that Tim Tebow has been the starter. In some ways it is a shame that Decker is stuck with Tebow. With a different quarterback he could have the chance for a breakout year. Tebow certainly won’t wow anyone with his throwing ability, but luckily for Decker Tebow rarely ever makes it past his first read. Through three weeks it has become clear that if any Bronco’s receiver is likely to score its Decker. The Broncos will take on the Chiefs this weekend, who despite having solid cornerbacks are weak over top. Decker should be able to find room himself, the concern is whether or not Tebow can find him.
-Steve Breaston(start): Steve Breaston silenced many last week who thought Jon Baldwin would emerge as the Chiefs second receiver in the latter half of the year. Not only did he outperform Baldwin, but he also received more targets than Dwayne Bowe. Against a Broncos defense that is pretty stout against the run, it is likely the Chiefs will look to air it out and there should be plenty of work for Breaston to take advantage of.
-Brandon Lloyd(sit): Brandon Lloyd hasn’t fully played up to the potential that some expected after reuniting with Ram’s offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. Most of it has been due to Sam Bradford’s health and the beastly play of Steven Jackson. This week, Lloyd and the Rams take on the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are a struggling team as of late but if there is a bright side it’s the play of their secondary led by Joe Haden. Haden will likely be matched up on Lloyd all game so his upside is limited.
-Kevin Walter(sit): Many have proposed that Kevin Walter would step in and fill Andre Johnson’s void during his recent injury troubles. Although he has pretty much led the wide receivers on the team as far as fantasy points go, the real beneficiaries of Johnson’s injury have been the tight ends. Andre Johnson has yet to be ruled out this week yet, but even if he doesn’t play it is hard to believe Walter will do much in the matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
-Brandon Pettigrew(start): Brandon Pettigrew is a very relevant option in the Lion’s passing game, but lacks fantasy production because of Calvin Johnson’s dominance in the red zone. His yardage totals aren’t huge as he is generally used as check down option, but in points per reception formats he definitely has added value. If there is any week for Pettigrew to also get into the end zone its week ten. Pettigrew will line up across from the Chicago Bears who are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year including six touchdowns.
– Jermichael Finley(start): After recording only one real fantasy relevant week through the first eight games of the season, Jermichael Finley finally gave his owners something to feel good about last Sunday. Finley actually still leads the Packers in red zone targets, and now has two straight weeks with a touchdown. The plus side from last week was that the targets and yardage numbers were also there. In a divisional rivalry game against a Minnesota team that isn’t very good against the tight end, the opportunity will certainly be there during a primetime Monday night game. Don’t look now, but Finley might finally be hitting his stride.
-Fred Davis(sit): Fred Davis seemed lined up to be dominate with the loss of so many important Redskin’s offensive playmakers. However, in the past two weeks it seems that because he is the only one left, defenses have been keying on him. Keep in mind Davis has also been dealing with an ankle injury that may be playing into his lack of production. It has gotten to the point where it is hard to really start anyone on the Redskins offense.
-Kellen Winslow(sit): Kellen Winslow posted his second straight week with a touchdown, giving him two weeks with eight fantasy points. The way Winslow has been used in the Buccaneers offense, this really seems as if it is his ceiling for production. With a low yards per catch total, Winslow hasn’t found ways to really stretch the field and tally up yardage. Against the Texans it is even more unlikely Winslow will have a big day because through nine games Houston has only allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends.
-Browns(start): Chances are the Brown’s haven’t been in your lineup, let alone even on your roster. Owners who are looking for a high upside play might be interested in using the Browns defense this week against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams have given up double digit points to opposing defenses in every game but two. In those two games they didn’t, they gave up eight and nine fantasy points. If the floor for you fantasy defense is eight points, you’re a happy owner.
-Bears(sit): The Chicago Bears boast a top ten fantasy defense but this week play the Lions. Detroit’s prolific offense has been giving up the second least points to opposing fantasy defenses. The Lions simply don’t turn the ball over that often, and they are a high caliber offense capable of scoring a lot of points on any given Sunday. That just happens to be the exact combination owners want to stay away from when choosing their fantasy defense.