Fantasy games become more about research and statistics when you approach the end of the bye weeks. After week 11, no excuses can be made from bye weeks, and it becomes a game of strategy rather than luck.
However, luck is still going to play a big role. Whether you were lucky enough to pick up Randall Cobb at the right time, or lucky enough you have given a shot to Andre Roberts this year, or lucky enough to have given Andrew Luck a try on his rookie year over other veterans, or extremely lucky to not have had any players dealing with injuries, luck plays a role in the game. One of my best friends used his first picks on Darren McFadden and Darren Sproles… he does not fall in the lucky category. It is in these situations that strategy comes in. Should he go with the primary back ups to his injured players?, should he go with his bench, or should he look in the waiver wire to make the right pickup. When good players are scarce, you should always check the match ups to make the best decision.
- Mathew Stafford-DET- vs MIN
The Vikings started the season playing incredible defense and making outstanding plays on offense, specially by Percy Harvin. After a 5-2 start, the Vikings have gone back to reality and allow the 5th most points against quarterbacks. Stafford has been a huge question mark every week. With an easy match up against the Jaguars, he throws no touchdown, and a tough match up against the Seahawks he throws 3 of them and rushes for one touchdown. And after his incredible 41 touchdowns and 5000+ yards last year, the whole fantasy world expected more from him, I know Calvin Johnson owners are definitely with me. I think this week we can expect a great week from him at worse.
- Carson Palmer-OAK- vs BAL
Not the most glamorous of selections, but how can I not pick Palmer a week after going for 414 yards and 4 touchdowns and losing his starting running back and its backup? Yes, he is bound to get some turnovers, I’m expecting at least 3, but Baltimore will use the running game to get an early advantage, and considering what Doug Martin did to the Raiders, Ray Rice should have no problem. Meaning that Palmer’s 41 Attempts per game should give him enough chances to get a touchdown or 2, and give him enough fantasy points for a successful week.
- Ben Roethlisberger-PIT- vs KC
Big Ben, against the Kansas City Chiefs, I don’t need to say much more do I? I will add that Roethlisberger won’t have an amazing week because he does not need to. Hell get a decent amount of points against the Chiefs on Monday night and then have the Steelers cruise to victory. If you’re looking for solid points, Big Ben is the way to go, if you are looking for someone to breakout, he is not the answer.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick-BUF- vs NE
Fitzpatrick is always a tricky start because he always comes with a big bag of turnovers. He had 350 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first meeting against the Patriots, and nothing stops us from thinking another big week is in order. Tom Brady looks more than comfortable and ready to lead the Patriots to a big lead, Fitzpatrick will have no option but to try make things happen from behind in the scoreboard, which against this defense, is not a big deal.
- Doug Martin-TB – vs SD
So, I don’t like Martin, I don’t like his Offensive Line without Nicks, I don’t like his match up, and I don’t like the fact that he’s the reason I lost my match up last week. Nevertheless, Doug Martin has proved even the most experienced analysts wrong by having the 2nd best performance by any rookie running back since Adrian Peterson. And historically, after an amazing fantasy week like this, great numbers come right after. I’ll repeat this again, I don’t like him, or his match up, much less his team, but Doug Martin does deserve respect for an incredible performance last week that could potentially bring him good fortune for the rest of this season.
- Marshawn Lynch-SEA- vs NYJ
Lynch is hot on his running game. 3 straight games of 100 yards on the ground and a touchdown in his last two have him as a hot start this week. Good weeks against the best run stop defense in the 49ers, and top defenses in the Lions and Vikings, Lynch has to face the 5th worst run stop defense. It would be quite a surprise if Lynch doesn’t get to 100 yards again. The Jets passing game will leave some holes open for Russel Wilson to exploit, but I still expect the Seahawks to go with what they do best and run the ball.
- Willis Mcgahee-DEN- vs CAR
The Panthers have allowed rushing touchdowns in their last 2 games, and with a Broncos offense being led by Peyton Manning as hot as we’ve ever seen him, Willis should be able to squeeze out a touchdown himself. Even with a favorable match up he is not the easiest guy to trust, but he is still a good option for this week.
- Stevan Ridley-NE- vs BUF
Ridley faces the worst run defense in the fantasy football world, it would be stupid to keep him out of the starting list. He had 106 yards and 2 touchdowns their first meeting, and he doesn’t have to deal with Bolden this time around. The game will probably start with Tom Brady throwing one or two touchdowns, but Ridley will be able to exploit those holes that Brady opens up by just being regular Tom Brady. Ridley isn’t a guy I love at any point, but this match up is to perfect to pass up on, start Ridley.
- Adrian Peterson-MIN- vs DET
I wasn’t exactly sure who was next on this list, I had a few ideas I wasn’t too confident about though they had great match ups, and then I saw someone had a question of whether to start Peterson against a Lions defense who has been doing well against the run. The answer is yes, a million times yes, I don’t care who it is against, you start this freak of nature because he is just that, a freak of nature. I don’t start him over Ray Rice, or over Arian Foster, but besides them, nobody should be started over him (If you have 2 of these 3 running backs on your team, that is impressive). 505 yards after contact already and leads the league in yards with 957 already through 9 games, this guy is still the best running back I have ever seen play.
- Roddy White/Julio Jones-ATL – vs NO
Anyone against the Saints should be started. Even if they were able to “contain” Jackson for 3 catches and Maclin for only 2, the Eagles bad offense should be blamed for that. White has his best numbers against their conference rivals with 38 catches for 578 in five career games. White and Jones haven’t found a way to both be equal contributors in the offense, but the Falcons, standing at 8-0, don’t need them to be equally incredible just yet. The Saints, however, will more than likely allow both wide receivers to have incredible numbers as they usually do, specially knowing this game will probably be a shootout.
- Lance Moore-NO- vs ATL
Yes, Marques Colston is the #1 wide receiver in Drew Brees eyes, and Jimmy Graham is back and healthy so Moore drops in value, but this is a must have game for the Saints. As a Saints fan, I’m expecting the Saints to come out firing against the Falcons. They have to get off to a good start to simplify things for their defense if they want to get back to any kind of playoff hope, and it’ll start Sunday at the superdome. He has 5 catches in his last 2 games, compared to 9 on the game right before the last 2, but he is still a great option for the Saints to have. Don’t be shy about starting him on a must win game for New Orleans.
- Brian Hartline-MIA- vs TEN
Hartline started the season completely out of the radar, then managers found him on that radar, he then left that radar, and he is now trying to get back into the radar map. Confused? Me too. It is a complete wave of inconsistency. After his record breaking 12 catch game, he had 8 catches in 3 games, including 0 receptions against the Rams. And then he comes out against Indianapolis and gets 8 receptions in one game. Against the Tennessee Titans the running game should be used, but I’m not sold on big numbers for Bush, so I expect Hartline to at least be a heavy target against the 27th ranked pass defense.
- Danny Amendola-STL- vs SF
I wanted Amendola last year in my team, I got Amendola on every single one of my teams this year, and I was already planning on getting him on next years teams. Yes, I might like this guy a little bit more than most guys, but everyone has their obsession with a player or two. Amendola has played in only 4 complete games and is still a league leader in targets. It might be the 49ers, but Amendola plays best from the slot, and the 49ers give the 2nd most points to receivers on the slot. He should be a no brainer on PPR leagues, even if he is coming back from injury.
- Vincent Jackson-TB- vs SD
A few weeks ago, even though most analysts said to bench Brandon Lloyd, I put him on my start list mostly for the fact that he was playing against his former team. Lloyd caught 2 touchdowns playing in London. If Lloyd had extra motivation playing against his former team, how much is Vincent Jackson going to have against a team he held out against for the majority of last year, and as great as he was, he still got no respect from the Chargers organization. Jackson doesn’t look like a top receiver. The top receivers have 59, 51,57,31,62,61 receptions, can you spot Jackson? It is incredible but with 31 catches and 6 touchdown he has 710 yards for a 22.9 yards per catch average. I don’t like trusting receivers like Jackson, but with the added motivation, who am I to doubt him.
- Brandon Myers-OAK- vs BAL
I absolutely love this hidden gem. Palmer does nothing but throw, and he is now starting to throw even more to Myers. 13 targets total last week led the league, and with Palmer expected to throw again this week, like any other week, I think Myers will have more than enough chances to have a great fantasy week. Specially in PPR formats because you can’t really count on touchdowns, even if Myers scored 2 of them against the Buccaneers.
- Greg Olsen-CAR- vs DEN
I’m not a big Olsen fan, but he has a decent match up. Denver has allowed 20 catches, over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns to Tight Ends over their last 3 games. Even though Olsens inconsistency can be partly blamed on Cam Newton, Olsen should be the biggest beneficiary from Cam having a good day and a good match up, and Cam should have a good battle against Peyton.
- Jermaine Gresham-CIN- vs NYG
I’ve been a fan of Gresham for a while. I understand he is not the best tight end, but I’m always glad to have a tight end that I can at least count on for 3 catches a week at worse. Gresham is coming off his best game with 6 catches and 108 yards, and if Dalton can keep heating up, Gresham will finally live up to his potential. The Giants might have a great defense, but they allowed Witten 18 catches, so Gresham at least has a huge range of possibilities against them.
Starting with the most favorable match ups, Ryan Tannehill playing against the Titans deserves a big mention. The rookie has been working his tail off and he has one of the best match ups for the week. Cam Newton might not be having the year we expected, but against Peyton, he should have a little extra motivation in his game. If we go deep into the players who might surprise, Jacquizz Rodgers and Joique Bell both come off the bench, but have been outstanding making things happen from the few opportunities they get. Daniel Thomas might get a touchdown in, since the Titans leave way too many options open. Marcel Reece should be started in PPR leagues. without McFadden and Goodson, Reece isn’t the fastest, and won’t make anything spectacular happen, but I still expect him to be involved in the Raiders game plan. The Buccaneers allow wide receivers the 3rd most points, so Malcolm Floyd should at least get decent numbers, as much as I’ve been disappointed with him. If Stevie Johnson is healthy, he has a great match up against the Patriots who have allowed big games by less talented receivers. Davone Bess is also a great starter for consistency against the Titans, and if you happen to have Antonio Brown who is most likely out for Monday night, Emmanuel Sanders is a great backup.
- Jay Cutler-CHI- vs HOU
If you erase that horrendous 338 passing yards and 6 touchdowns that Aaron Rodgers had against the Texans, then Houston would probably be top 3 passing defense behind the Bears. Cutler hasn’t surpassed 250 yards in 3 straight games, and even with his 3 touchdown connections with Brandon Marshall, he hasn’t impressed enough to think this week he might pass 250. Lets not forget those 3 touchdowns were against the Titans in a 51-20 rout. Cutler will have a tough day, I’m not even sure exactly how the game will go.
- Matt Schaub-HOU- vs CHI
If I’m going to put Cutler, Schaub should be in the list too. Chicago has the best passing defense, best overall defense for that matter, and they live off mistakes by quarterbacks. Schaub hasn’t thrown more than 300 yards all year long and this week is the one week you could bet money on that not happening. Theres plenty of options out there, Schaub shouldn’t be your best option if you want to be a championship team.
- Michael Vick-PHI- vs DAL
The Saints were even able to make Matt Cassell look good. For Vick to have had pedestrian numbers against them is a complete and utter failure. Of course he is always going to be at the top with his legs and playmaking ability, but day by day his chances at playing quarterback are diminished. Another thing that I ended up noticing against the Saints is a complete lack of confidence between the Eagles and their quarterback. The play calling hasn’t been ideal for Vick and he has no way of changing that. I do believe the Eagles offensive problems go far beyond Vick, but fantasy wise, it might be time to start saying goodbye to one of the greatest fantasy players we’ve known.
- Jamaal Charles-KC- vs PIT
After a great start to his year, the Chiefs are not exactly built for Charles to succeed. Charles has been struggling lately, averaging the worst yard per carry on his team with 2.5 in the last 2 games. Not only that, the Chiefs are a mess right now, they might just be playing for the first pick of the 2013 draft at this point. The Steelers should take a commanding lead on Monday night, and since the Chiefs easily give up on the run, Charles isn’t really a great option. On PPR leagues I might give him a better cushion, but hes just not the best option overall.
- Chris Johnson-TEN- vs MIA
The Dolphins haven’t allowed a running back touchdown since the first 2 touchdowns by Arian Foster on week 1, never mind the fact that they haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher in over 15 games. Chris Johnson on the other hand has been able to break big runs in 2 of the last 3 weeks, and has over 90 yards in 4 straight games. It should be a match up that can go to either team, but unlike the Bears and Texans who pride themselves in total defense, the Dolphins focus on the run stop, which will make it even tougher for Johnson to find big holes. 3rd best run stop defense this time around, I’ll pick the surprising Dolphins to beat the Titans.
- Steven Jackson-STL- vs SF
It’s hard to admit, but even if Jackson is healthy, he is just not the same Jackson I grew up watching, and now he has competition for playing time the way Richardson is playing behind him. He hasn’t gone over 80 yards all year, and against the 49ers defense, it is an easy bet to put him in for less than 100 yards again.
- Shonn Greene-NYJ- vs SEA
This is not the week he goes back to his 161 yards and 3 touchdown ways, ill tell you that much. With only 1 impressive game this season, and even after the bye week, I don’t see Greene doing anything special against a tough Seahawks defense. It took an amazing effort from Gore, and an inhuman effort by a freak of nature in AP to break the 100 yard mark against the Seahawks. We are certain Greene is no Gore, and nobody is anything like Adrian Peterson.
- Jeremy Maclin-PHI- vs DAL
Maclin is supposed to be back from injury and back to his big receiving days, but we haven’t seen it in the last couple weeks. This just adds to how obvious it is to notice the fact that the Eagles offense has problems beyond Vick. Dallas is actually one of the better teams against wide receivers which doesn’t bode well for Maclin. Maybe against Carolina or Washington he’ll get out of this funk, but Maclin probably wont this week.
- Torrey Smith-BAL- vs OAK
Considering what Doug Martin did against the Raiders, the Ravens have been extensively practicing only one thing, handoffs. As long as Flacco doesn’t mess up the handoffs to Ray Rice, the Ravens win, and why do they want to do anything else, if the road to get the win is so clear? Smith has been disappointing, catching 13 passes in his last four games, combining for 149 yards and thankfully 2 touchdowns. There is so much more expected from Torrey that these numbers are highly disappointing.
- Brandon Pettigrew-DET- vs MIN
I have always really liked Owen Daniels, I really expected this to be his breakout year again, and when I snatched him late in my draft I was ecstatic. However, I always thought that in PPR leagues, going with Brandon Pettigrew would be the better option, so combined with other players I managed to trade Daniels for Pettigrew early in the season, boy how I regret that now. With Stafford not being the touchdown monster that he was, and the running game working for Detroit, the dump offs that would go to Pettigrew are now runs for Leshoure or completions to Titus young. I don’t know what will happen late in the year, but it’s hard to trust Pettigrew at this point.
- Jared Cook-TEN- vs MIA
Not only have the Dolphins not allowed a running back touchdown since week 1, they haven’t allowed a touchdown to a tight end all year long. Cook is definitely not happy in Tennessee and even with Locker back, his match up is still not favorable enough for me to think things change around this week.
Joe Flacco has been practicing how to hand off the ball a little more than usual this week. At least that is what I would assign him to do if I was the Ravens. And in fantasy, quarterbacks don’t get points for handing the ball off. Fred Jackson has been outplayed by C.J. Spiller. The faster running back is just a better play maker at this point with his speed, but at least Jackson hasn’t lost a big step on the receiving game, which still makes him useful in PPR leagues. And Jonathan Stewart is also in a terrible situation. No matter how much the Panthers repeat that Stewart is their main man, there is just no way of telling who will get the points and the touchdowns, but Stewart has definitely not been the guy. DON’T bench Ryan Mathews, but certainly lower your expectations. The Buccaneers have been stopping the run all year long, and Mathews hasn’t really gotten hot enough to break big plays at this point.
This is a post submitted by Gino Bernasconi. Gino is currently a Florida International University student going for an electrical engineer major with a journalism minor. He is a huge New Orleans fan and a Miami Dolphins season ticket Holder. He has written fantasy football tips and articles for over 8 years and is prepared to defend any and all arguments you have against his picks. Gino is always looking for new leagues, new challenges, and new victims to build his confidence. Twitter:@GinoBuddah