Fantasy Football

Give Greene the green light

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on and follow him on Twitter.


Through five weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool is solidifying as a resource to help you find good matchups. It’ll get stronger as the season progresses, as we’ll have less reason to say things like, “But they had a game against Gronk and Hernandez – of course they give up a million points to tight ends!”

As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Calvin Johnson and Arian Foster, because you should always start Calvin Johnson and Arian Foster. Make sense? Good.

Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from standard leagues.

Week 6 Byes: Panthers, Bears, Jaguars, Saints

Thursday game: Steelers at Titans


Stay away: Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs. Cowboys)

Flacco has been a breakout performer so far, averaging 291 passing yards per game and tossing seven touchdowns. However, this week he faces a Cowboys’ defense that leads the league in pass defense (169.5 yards per game) and ranks eighth with 14.7 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Rob Ryan’s unit isn’t perfect, but the offseason upgrades they made at cornerback have helped. Flacco isn’t a horrible play this week, but he’s shakier than normal.


The Ravens have allowed almost 100 more passing yards per game than the Cowboys, but they’re third with 12.3 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks because they’ve only given up two TD passes. You know the old “bend, but don’t break” cliché? That applies to the Ravens right now. If you own Tony Romo, you might want to avoid this potentially low-scoring affair.

Play, play, play: Andy Dalton, Bengals (at Browns)

The Browns have been pretty bad against the pass, allowing 280 passing yards and 25 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. Has it all been about the four-game suspension of CB Joe Haden, who is scheduled to return this week? I guess we’ll find out, but Dalton still looks like a solid play.


The Titans have been getting torched, giving up 280 passing yards per game, 12 touchdowns through the air and a horrible 26 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger looks like a great play against them tonight.

Christian Ponder has been dinking and dunking his way to a solid season, with 1,082 passing yards and six TDs so far. This week, he faces a Redskins’ defense that has been making everyone look like Drew Brees (even Drew Brees!) – they’ve given up 25.3 FPPG and a terrible 328.6 passing yards per game. Ponder can work as a low-end starter if you’ve got one of the bye QBs.

If you need to reach really deep in case of a fantasy emergency, you can consider Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals’ running game is a mess, and they’re facing the Bills, who have allowed a league-worst 28.6 FPPG. In Kolb we trust? Not exactly, but …

Running Backs

Stay away: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (at 49ers)

You know that all these recommendations depend on the rest of your roster, right? You don’t HAVE to bench Bradshaw this week. But against the Niners, who have given up a league-low 7.4 FPPG to opposing running backs and give up rushing TDs about as often as the Jaguars sell out their stadium, you might want to sit him out. Bradshaw is my RB25, if that helps.


The Eagles have been pretty good against opposing backs, ranking 11th with 13.9 FPPG allowed. Lions RB Mikel Leshoure has played two games so far, running 26 times for 100 yards against the Titans in Week 3, and carrying 13 times for 26 yards versus the Vikings in Week 4. In Philly, Leshoure is more likely to be the Week 4 guy, and he could start splitting duties with Jahvid Best next week.

The Dolphins’ D has been terrific against the run, giving up 13.2 FPPG to opposing backs, and allowing 2.7 yards per carry and 61.4 rushing yards per game, both of which are league-best numbers. Steven Jackson will probably get his usual heavy workload, but he hasn’t surpassed 76 yards or posted a double-digit fantasy point total yet. SJ39 falls into the same category as Bradshaw – you don’t HAVE to bench him, but looking for alternatives would be a good idea.

Play, play, play: Shonn Greene, Jets (vs. Colts)

Everyone is giving up on Greene. He’s not that good, and he’s been splitting snaps (if not carries) with Bilal Powell over the last two weeks. This week, the Jets will face a shaky Colts’ run defense that ranks in the lower third of the league with 22.5 FPPG allowed. Over the last three weeks, the Jets have played against the Dolphins, 49ers and Texans, all of which have strong defenses. If you ever wanted to give Greene one more chance, this would be a good time to do it. I bet Rex Ryan will do the same.


William Powell looks like your best bet in Arizona, since LaRod Stephens-Howling is more of a third-down back. Why would you target someone in this horrible running game? Because the Bills’ defense might be even more atrocious than the Cardinals’ ground attack, as they’re allowing 27.5 FPPG to opposing backs and 171.8 yards per game on the ground. Oh, and they’ve given up nine rushing TDs in five games. In bye weeks, you can’t always have perfect – you take what you can get.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Anquan Boldin, Ravens (vs. Cowboys)

As referenced above in the Joe Flacco note above, the Cowboys’ pass defense has been pretty good, and they’re tied for second in the league with 15.4 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts. Boldin gets a lot of targets, but he’s not as explosive as he used to be (yes, I know he’s averaging 14.4 YPC), and he has to contend with TE Dennis Pitta for Joe Flacco’s red-zone affections. I like Boldin – just not this week.


Brian Hartline’s five games have looked like this:

• Week 1: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 50 yards

• Week 2: 12 targets, 9 receptions, 111 yards

• Week 3: 9 targets, 1 reception, 41 yards

• Week 4: 18 targets, 12 receptions, 253 yards, TD

• Week 5: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 59 yards

Which guy will you get this week? It’s hard to say, but the Rams’ pass defense has been strong, ranking sixth with 16.6 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers, and allowing just two touchdowns through the air. Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has been better than advertised, but it’s hard to trust one of his receivers against a good pass defense.

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Play, play, play: Andrew Hawkins, Bengals (at Browns)



  • We noted above that CB Joe Haden is back for the Browns, and he’ll probably follow A.J. Green all over the field. That should leave plenty of space for Andrew Hawkins to dart around the middle, where he was targeted 13 times last week. With the Browns allowing 33.3 FPPG to opposing wide receivers, this is a pretty good matchup for Baby Hawk.

    (Note: Hartline is ranked a few spots higher than Hawkins in this week’s WR rankings. Their inclusions here mean that we like Hartline less than usual, and Hawkins more than we normally would. If you have both, start Hartline.)


    In the Jets’ first game A.S. (After Santonio), Jeremy Kerley was targeted nine times, catching five passes for 94 yards. Only the return of TE Dustin Keller can muck this up for Kerley, and probably not even by that much. Kerley is a nice play against the Colts’ D, which ranks 27th with 29.1 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers.

    Tight Ends

    Stay away: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (at Browns)

    The Browns haven’t played against any big-time tight ends yet, but they’ve been good against mediocre opposition, allowing a paltry 4.7 FPPG. That’s a red flag for Gresham, whose workmanlike stats (22 receptions, 238 yards, TD) don’t exactly scream, “Start me!”

    Oooooooh, Scott Chandler has four touchdowns. You need to play him a lot, right? Not quite. Chandler has only 16 catches for 215 yards, and the Cardinals have given up just 6.2 FPPG to opposing tight ends. Starting Chandler is basically an exercise of crossing your fingers for a red-zone opportunity. When was the last time you saw a tight end catch 50 passes in a season with 12 touchdowns? Chandler won’t continue that pace.

    Play, play, play: Heath Miller, Steelers (at Titans)

    We can’t blame all of the Titans’ 16.5 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends on the Week 1 Gronkowski/Hernandez invasion. They’ve given up 41 receptions and seven touchdowns JUST TO TIGHT ENDS this season, and 35 percent more fantasy points to the position than the SECOND-WORST TEAM. Play Heath Miller tonight, for crying out loud. It’s as good a matchup as he’ll get, maybe ever.


    OK, Kyle Rudolph. I don’t like your 19 catches for 169 yards in five games – I really thought you’d be better. I do like your four touchdown receptions, though. And against the Redskins – that second-worst team against tight ends mentioned above (12.2 FPPG) – you can play if you want to.



    Tagged: Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Lions, Titans, Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, Saints, Giants, Jets, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Texans, Drew Brees, Anquan Boldin, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Ahmad Bradshaw, Scott Chandler, Calvin Johnson, Joe Flacco, Shonn Greene, Brian Hartline, Arian Foster, Joe Haden, Jahvid Best, Andrew Hawkins, A.J. Green, Jeremy Kerley, Ryan Tannehill

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