Play Campbell, bench Schaub Week 4

BY John Halpin • September 29, 2011

We’re three weeks into the season, so the Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool is painting a clearer picture of which defenses allow the most fantasy points. Last week it even told us that Titans WR Kenny Britt would suffer a season-ending knee injury! OK, that’s not true. And it’s kind of insensitive. Get well soon, Kenny.

Please keep in mind that the players listed below 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 standard leagues.


Stay away: Matt Schaub, Texans (vs. Steelers)

The Steelers are allowing a league-low 178.7 passing yards per game, and are permitting only 12.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. With Schaub finally likely to have the dual threat of Arian Foster and Ben Tate in his backfield, he might not need to throw so much. Give him a rest if you have a good alternative.


Joe Flacco was in this space last week, and he threw for 389 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams. Um, sorry about that. Let’s double down on the don’t-play-Flacco strategy against the Jets, who are giving up fewer fantasy points per game (8.9) to quarterbacks than any other team.

Tony Romo threw for 255 yards on Monday night, but didn’t get the Cowboys into the end zone due to bad blocking, bad route running, and a general lack of help from his teammates. I’m sure his fractured rib and Kevlar vest didn’t help much, either. This week, Romo will look across the line at nasty Lions DT Ndamukong Suh and a defense that is allowing just 10 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. It’s not often that you want to bench Romo, but we’re not sure how healthy he is right now.

Play, play, play: Jason Campbell, Raiders (vs. Patriots)

Tom Brady may be averaging an eye-popping 442 passing yards per game, but his far-too-permissive teammates have given up 387.7 yards through the air to opposing quarterbacks, along with 27.7 fantasy points per week. Until the Pats show they can stop someone – even for a series or two, just to suggest that it’s possible – roll the dice with matchup QBs against them. If Campbell can’t shred these guys, he should switch to playing cricket or something.


• Much like the Pats, the Packers’ pass defense has been terrible, giving up a league-worst 28.3 fantasy points and 384.3 yards per week to opposing quarterbacks. You can see Drew Brees lighting them up, but Cam Newton and Jay Cutler? Come on. Kyle Orton and the Broncos come to Lambeau this week, and while Orton gets grief for not being flashy enough, his numbers (672 yards, five TDs) say that he’s not bad. Against the Pack, “not bad” might be pretty good.

• When Rex Grossman got sacked and fumbled at the end of Monday’s game against the Cowboys, a lot of people said, “Same old Rex.” Maybe, but he’s averaging 282 passing yards per game and has five touchdowns, which isn’t bad at all. This week, Grossman and the ‘Skins visit the Rams, who have given up 26.4 fantasy points per game and seven TD throws to non-elite passers Michael Vick, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco (yes, I called Vick a non-elite passer). Grossman has averaged 38 pass attempts per game so far; you’re going to put up numbers when you throw that much.

Running Backs

Stay away: Willis McGahee, Broncos (at Packers)

With Knowshon Moreno nearing full health, McGahee’s workload is in danger of decreasing, at least to a point. Against the Packers, who are giving up less than 2.5 yards per carry and just 13.8 fantasy points per week to opposing backs, McGahee might not have much room to run when he does get the ball.


• The plucky Jaguars have allowed just 11.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, which is third-best in the league. Rookie Mark Ingram hasn’t been bad for the Saints, but because he’s in a three-headed committee with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, he has just 38 touches in three games. That might be worth a flex start against some opponents, but not this one.

• After seeing Ryan Mathews rack up 149 from scrimmage and two scores in Week 3, Mike Tolbert is in danger of losing touches to his talented teammate. This week, the Chargers host the Dolphins, who are allowing just 14.5 fantasy points per game to opposing backs. Tolbert is too risky to play in Week 4.

Play, play, play: Chris Johnson, Titans (at Browns)

Do you still have faith in CJ2K? I hope so, because you drafted him in the first round, and any trade you make now would be selling low. The Browns have allowed a subpar average of 19.6 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs. The bet here is that Week 4 will be the breakout game Johnson’s owners have been waiting for.


• Jonathan Stewart continues to look superior to DeAngelo Williams, and while the Bears’ defense is 15th in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs with 16.5 per game, they’re also giving up five yards per carry. This is a nice spot for Stewart.

• Cedric Benson has apparently dodged his suspension, at least for the time being, so you can play him at home against the Bills, who are allowing 20.9 fantasy points per game to opposing backs (24th in the league). The Bills have given up two touchdowns on the ground and two through the air to running backs, and Benson is clearly more of a threat in the former manner.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Nate Washington, Titans (at Browns)

Washington is WR1 in Tennessee now that Kenny Britt is out for the season, which should mean plenty of targets. However, opposing defenses will key on Washington, and the Browns have been the league’s fourth-stingiest team against opposing wideouts so far, giving up just one touchdown and 14.9 fantasy points per game. I’d prefer to see how Washington does for one game as the lead dog before getting him in a fantasy starting lineup.


• Welcome to your luxury suite at Revis Island, Anquan Boldin. Your new host and his Jets cohorts have given up just eight receptions per game to opposing wide receivers, and 17.3 fantasy points per game (ninth in the league). You’re a pretty good receiver, but you’re an iffy start on Sunday night.

Play, play, play: Denarius Moore, Raiders (vs. Patriots)

See: Campbell, Jason. The Patriots haven’t demonstrated an ability to stop anyone. They’re allowing 34.7 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, and the 264.7 yards per game those pass catchers have racked up is worst in the NFL by an astounding 44.7 yards per game over the 31st-ranked team. The speedy Moore is an intriguing play here.


• Wide receivers have caught six TDs against the Rams so far, helping Steve Spagnuolo’s crew to the second-worst fantasy ranking against this position. Santana Moss is Rex Grossman’s top target, and should have a productive Week 4.

• Was the Giants’ strong outing against the Eagles a fluke, or a sign of improvement? The Giants are ranked just 24th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, and one game doesn’t change the likelihood that CB Aaron Ross is a weak link. If you’re fishing for a flex option this week, Arizona’s Early Doucet could be worth a rare fantasy start.

Tight Ends

Stay away: Fred Davis, Redskins (vs. Rams)

Chris Cooley’s re-emergence in Week 3 has put Davis’ fantasy status in flux, and for all the Rams’ defensive faults over the season’s first three weeks, they’ve given up a total of seven receptions and eight fantasy points to tight ends. Sure, their opponents (Eagles, Giants, Ravens) haven’t exactly been loaded with All-Pros at the position, but their fantasy-best status so far shines a spotlight on the questions we all have about Davis. Let’s see if his one-catch outing against the Cowboys was a fluke.


• The Texans let Saints TE Jimmy Graham have a big game in Week 3, but gave up virtually nothing to the Colts and Dolphins before that. Heath Miller is somewhere in between Anthony Fasano and Graham, and you can probably find a better matchup than this.

Play, play, play: Leonard Pope, Chiefs (vs. Vikings)

The Vikings rank 22nd with nine fantasy points per game allowed to opposing tight ends so far, but that’s just because they’ve been lucky enough to keep them out of the end zone. Tight ends have caught 27 passes versus the Vikes so far, which is more than any other team has allowed.

If you’re on the hunt for a tight end in a deep league and think the Vikings’ D is the problem, Kansas City’s Leonard Pope could post modest numbers against them. Pope caught his first touchdown pass of the season in Week 3.


• Not that anyone needs to tell you to start Jimmy Graham, but the Jaguars rank 29th in the league in fantasy points allowed against the position. Graham has 14 receptions for 235 yards and two scores so far. He’s going to have a really big season.

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