Please keep in mind 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 a recommendation to start Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson, because you should always start Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson. Make sense? Good.
Note: The points referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.
The Ravens have allowed a league-low 8.6 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) to opposing quarterbacks. Schaub’s stat lines have been schizophrenic this season, with three games of fewer than 30 attempts and 230 passing yards, and two more with averages of 45 attempts and 394 yards. Look for the Ravens to keep the Texans’ Andre Johnson-less passing attack in check in this matchup.
– Indy’s Curtis Painter has averaged 279 yards and two touchdowns in his two starts, piquing the curiosity of many fantasy owners. Unfortunately, Painter moves on from the mediocre passing defenses of the Bucs and Chiefs to the far more formidable Bengals, who have allowed just 13.2 FPPG (fourth in the league) and 206 yards per game. Painter has some weapons, but are you really going to put your faith in a guy who’s completing less than 50 percent of his passes? You can do better.
Play, play, play: Mark Sanchez, Jets (vs. Dolphins)
Sure, the Dolphins’ No. 31 rank against opposing fantasy quarterbacks is skewed by the Week 1 beatdown they suffered at the hands of Tom Brady and the Pats. They’re still no better than mediocre against the pass, and the feeling here is that the Sanchize will bounce back from his bad two-week stretch. If you have another quarterback – say, Philip Rivers – on a bye week, don’t be afraid to go with Sanchez on Monday night.
– Speaking of guys you shouldn’t give up on, Sam Bradford is averaging just 212 passing yards per game so far, and has only three touchdown passes. However, the Packers have given up a terrible 23.2 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks, with an average of 319 yards through the air. Remember that a blowout Pack victory would probably be accompanied by some big garbage-time stats from Bradford. Go get ‘em, Sam.
Stay away: Steven Jackson, Rams (at Packers)
On the flip side, the Packers have allowed just 56 rushing yards and 14.1 FPPG to opposing running backs. Jackson saw his first big workload of the season in Week 4, and even though he’s healthy again, he’s got a tough assignment on his hands this week. We haven’t seen a big game from SJ39 so far, so he’s not back on the must-start list just yet.
– Yes, Jahvid Best is exciting. Nice runner, excellent receiver, yada, yada, yada. For you non-PPR folks out there, Best is averaging just over 14 carries per game, and his game-by-game rushing totals are 72-57-14-47-163. Only one of those is really good, and this week Best gets to face the 49ers’ nasty run defense (9.4 FPPG, 56 rushing yards per game). In standard leagues, one of your solid reserves might be better than Best.
With LeGarrette Blount unlikely to play in Week 6 due to a knee injury, Graham projects to lead the way in the Bucs’ backfield against the Saints, who rank 24th with 20.1 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. The Who Dats have also given up more than 5.5 yards per carry, which is awful. If you can still grab Graham, do it and start him this week.
– The Rams were supposed to take a step forward this season, right? Sigh. They’ve allowed a league-worst 148.8 rushing yards per game, and if the Rams-Packers game becomes the blowout everyone is anticipating, Pack RBs James Starks and Ryan Grant will be plenty busy.
Stay away: Mike Thomas, Jaguars (at Steelers)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Steelers are pretty good at playing defense. They’ve allowed a league-low 12.6 FPPG to opposing wide receivers, and are undoubtedly licking their chops in anticipation of a matchup with Jags’ rookie QB Blaine Gabbert. Thomas sees a healthy number of targets each week, but he doesn’t usually put up big yards, and is probably in for a long day at Heinz Field.
– Brandon Marshall visits Revis Island this week, and that’s never any fun. Also, Matt Moore makes his Dolphins’ debut at quarterback against a Jet team (16.8 FPPG to opposing WRs) that’s likely to be fired up after a 2-3 start and a torrent of media criticism. Revis will be inside Marshall’s shirt from the get-go.
Play, play, play: David Nelson, Bills (at Giants)
Seahawks’ rookie Doug Baldwin lit up the Giants for eight catches, 136 yards and a score last week. Doug Baldwin!. Not-so-Big-Blue has given up 25.8 FPPG to opposing receivers, with three 100-yard outings (plus another one by Redskins TE Fred Davis in Week 1). The pass-happy Bills are in a great spot to put up some big numbers this week, making Nelson a nice bet to rebound after a couple of subpar games. You should start Stevie Johnson too, in case you’re wondering.
– Mario Manningham had nine targets against the Seahawks last week, catching five passes for 56 yards. This week, he’s got a friendly matchup against the permissive Bills’ pass defense (26.6 FPPG to opposing wide receivers). Not only is Manningham a good start, he’s a good buy-low candidate if you’re looking to make a trade. The Bills-Giants matchup should be fun for those who don’t like defense.
– The Falcons have been ineffective against the pass, allowing 28.7 FPPG to opposing wideouts (30th in the league). Cam Newton and the Panthers visit Atlanta this week, and Cam can’t throw to Steve Smith and Greg Olsen every time, right? Carolina’s Legedu Naanee, who has caught four passes in each of the last two games, is a sneaky bye-week play.
Stay away: Dallas Clark, Colts (at Bengals)
How the mighty have fallen. Clark has only 14 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown in five games, and new QB Curtis Painter has targeted him only eight times in his two starts. The Bengals have allowed just four catches and 42 yards per game to opposing tight ends, making Clark a bench candidate unless you’re in a bye-week pinch.
– After last week’s five-catch, 112-yard performance, you might be tempted to start Houston’s Joel Dreessen in Week 6. However, the Ravens have been among the league’s stingiest teams against opposing tight ends (3.0 FPPG), and Dreessen has to compete with teammate Owen Daniels for targets. Dreessen’s big day in Week 5 just isn’t convincing enough – yet.
This recommendation goes hand in hand with the suggestion to start Mark Sanchez. The Dolphins haven’t been great against opposing tight ends even when you remove the Week 1 Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez eruption from the equation. Keller caught 16 passes in the season’s first three games, and a total of three in the next two outings. It’s bounceback time.
– The Bears have given up 76 yards per game and five touchdowns to opposing tight ends already. Minnesota’s Visanthe Shiancoe has been inconsistent this season, but could be worth a spot start this week, even with the erratic Donovan McNabb throwing to him.