As you should know, whether you should play the players on your rosters in any given week should be contingent in part on the match-up. This is not about making the perfect choice, because we don’t know how players will really do on a week-to-week basis. Rather, this is about making a sensible and reasonable choice on which player to play. So, to assist in being you’re “Second Opinion for Your Fantasy Football Instinct,” the goal in “Fantasy Football Weekly Choices” is to provide you, the fantasy football owner, with enough information to make sensible and reasonable choices in setting your line-up this week by reviewing the weekly match-ups and identifying which players are “On the Gridiron,” a “Coach’s Decision,” or “On the Pine.” You can read the match-up based Choices for Sunday’s 1pm EST Games. We also provide a down-n-dirty listing of each category within Quick Hits for On the Gridiron, Coach’s Decision, and On the Pine. For many of you, the information provided simply provides affirmation to the decisions you have already made. If you like, skip the fluff, and find your player’s match-up for analysis. If you are looking for a waiver wire pick-up, then look for those players still on your waiver wire, and you can read that analysis too.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
Sunday, September 25th
4:05 p.m. EST
NOTE: For fantasy purposes, while several players will be highlighted below that could have good games this week for owners, some of these players may not be able to be used in fantasy due to injury, their game status being questionable. As this is the Sunday afternoon games, Sunday night game, and Monday night game, owners may not want to start a player that could become inactive by these games’ kickoffs without that player’s back-up on the roster or without another player who has a 4:15 p.m. game, the Sunday Night game, or the Monday Night game to insert into your active line-up.
JETS (2-0) v. RAIDERS (1-1)
Traveling to play the Raiders at home is never easy. However, the Raiders’ receiving corp is banged up right now. To win this game, the Raiders would need to be two-dimensional, and the Fantasy Greek just does not see that happening. Even the Raiders running game is at risk of being shut down in this game. Suffice it to say, the Jets should win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Raiders can be passed on, so QB Mark Sanchez can be started if your QB1 has pulled a difficult match-up, as can WR Santonio Holmes as a WR2, and WR Plaxico Buress as a WR3. The Raiders have had their share of problems defending the run. This is a week where RB Shonn Greene can be on the gridiron as a low-level RB2, or flex-play. As usual, the Jets DST is a must-start. For the Raiders, even though the Jets defend the rush well, RB Darren McFadden can be on fantasy gridirons. He has to have a good game here for the Raiders to have a chance.
COACH’S DECISION: TE Dustin Keller has started the 2011 season as one of the best performing tight-ends in fantasy. However, it must be noted that the Raiders are one of the better teams to defend opposing TEs. Because the Raiders struggle against opposing running-backs, there is a chance RB LaDanian Tomlinson does something this week. However, The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options. In any case, Tomlinson is no better than a flex-play.
ON THE PINE: QB Jason Campbell looked great last week but because he faces the Jets, he should be on fantasy pines. Likewise, Week 2 breakout WR Denarious Moore should be on pines, as he should be shadowed by Darrelle Revis. It is worth noting that TE Kevin Boss has a favorable match-up this week but until we see him actually become part of the offense, this is no time to take a risk on a player who has yet to establish himself. This is also not a bad match-up for the Raiders DST. Yet, this is also not a time to take a chance with them against what appears to be a better team.
RAVENS (1-1) v. RAMS (0-2)
This is a week for the Ravens to rebound from the stunning loss they suffered at the hands of the Titans in Week 2. Fortunately for them, the Rams have been struggling on defense and are banged up on offense. While you can be a fan of the Rams, the fact is this looks like a tough game for them given all their issues. The Fantasy Greek is calling this a Ravens win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: This is a great week to start QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, WR Anquan Boldin, and the Ravens DST.
COACH’S DECISION: With some of the issues the Ravens pass defense has had, this is a week where WR Mike Sims-Walker, WR Brandon Gibson, and/or WR Danario Alexander could do something. While it is a bit of a guessing game, Sims-Walker (WR3) should be started ahead of Alexander and Gibson, and Alexander (low-level WR3) ahead of Gibson (on the pine).
ON THE PINE: The Rams have been stout defending opposing TEs. In addition to splitting receptions, TE Dennis Pitta and TE Ed Dickson should be on fantasy pines. While the match-up bodes well for WR Lee Evans, this is no week to play him as he continues to have injury and production issues. QB Sam Bradford continues to struggle and the match-up against a top-rated Ravens defense against quarterbacks keeps him properly benched this week. The Ravens have done well to shut down an opposing team’s running backs. While it would be difficult to bench a healthy RB Steven Jackson, or RB Cadillac Williams should he play in Jackson’s stead, this is really a week both should be avoided. TE Lance Kendricks has struggled after playing well during a promising preseason. Besides that, he should be avoided against a Ravens defense that shuts down the tight-end position too. The Rams DST has floundered thus far in the season and should be avoided this week.
CHIEFS (0-2) v. CHARGERS (1-1)
The Chiefs look like a team in a tailspin with the loss of Jamaal Charles. However, adversity has a way of bring players together as a team. Still, the Chiefs seemed to be outmatched by a Chargers that is to say the least, tough. So, the Chargers should march out of this game with win due to their outstanding offense and solid defense.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The only Chiefs’ player to be worthy of a start this week is WR Dwayne Bowe. This is only because of his immense talent and the fact that the Chiefs will need to generate offense from somewhere. While this should not be an easy match-up, Bowe is still worth consideration as a low-level WR2 or WR3. With the way the Chiefs defense has struggled, in part due to injury, QB Phillip Rivers, RB Ryan Mathews, and WR Vincent Jackson are all solid plays this week. With the way the Chiefs offense has struggled, the Chargers DST is primed to have one of the best outings of a defensive unit this week.
COACH’S DECISION: TE Antonio Gates has struggled in the first two weeks of the season with opposing defenses focusing on shutting him down. The Chiefs struggle against opposing tight-ends so this should be Gates opportunity to break out. The only thing cutting against starting Gates is the recent rumblings that he is still being affected by his past foot injury issue to the point he was held out of practice this week. Still, part of the rumblings, while seemingly based on fact, also appear to be based on opinion. So, you need to make the call on whether to give Gates the fantasy start this week or to rely on your TE2 if he has pulled a favorable match-up. In any case, this is a situation to monitor up to Sunday. WR Patrick Crayton looks like he will get the start this week. Given the injury issues with the Chargers wide-receivers, Crayton is worth WR3 consideration in this match-up. RB Mike Tolbert was a surprise “did not practice” this week. While you should monitor injury reports leading into the weekend, reports suggest Tolbert will play. If so, this is a great match-up for Tolbert and he has low RB2, flex-play appeal.
ON THE PINE: QB Matt Cassel has looked bad thus far this season, likely in part due to injury. Until we see Cassel make some plays, he should be avoided in fantasy. It is expected that RB Thomas Jones and WR Dexter McCluster will, along with possibly RB Jackie Battle and FB Le-Ron McCalin, split the rushing back duties this weekend. This is situation to avoid but yet monitor to see how the Chiefs respond. The Chiefs DST should simply be avoided.
FALCONS (1-1) v. BUCCANEERS (1-1)
The Falcons came off a big versus the Eagles and you would think they enter this game with a boat load of confidence. The Buccaneers, while winning last week, look like they are struggling to get a semblance of the real offense we expected to see this season going. Even the Bucs defense doesn’t look right entering Week 3. Expect the Falcons to win this game and for it to potentially be a high scoring game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Buccaneers defense is struggling so much so right now that QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, RB Michael Turner, TE Tony Gonzalez, and WR Julio Jones (as a WR3) are all worthy of fantasy starts this week. Since the Bucs do a decent job of protecting the ball, but are not the best either, the Falcons DST can be used in fantasy this week. While it may appear that because the Falcons should win this game (and may even dominate the offensive side of the ball), Bucs’ fantasy players should be avoided, this is not true. Indeed, the Falcons have allowed opposing running backs to run over them since the season started. As such, RB LaGarrette Blount is a solid RB2 start this week. Likewise, the Falcons have had their share of problems defending the pass, so let’s hope WR Mike Williams takes this as an opportunity to bring himself back into fantasy owners’ good graces.
COACH’S DECISION: This is not a bad match-up for QB Josh Freeman, and in fact, but for his struggles so far, would be recommended to be on fantasy gridirons. Still, if your other QB has a better match-up that is probably the right way to go this week. If not, you could do worse than not start Freeman this week. The Falcons are middle of the road defending opposing tight-ends. So, depending on the match-up your other tight-end has this week, TE Kellen Winslow is a viable option this week, albeit maybe not the best option. The Falcons have had both some turnover and protection problems thus far this season. Still, the Buccaneers DST has struggled too. So, while the Bucs DST could do something this week, this is likely a week to keep them on the fantasy pine.
ON THE PINE: No other player for either team is worth starting in fantasy right now until they distinguish themselves on the field.
PACKERS (2-0) v. BEARS (1-1)
Oh, so many people have been waiting for the first Packers-Bears game this season besides each team’s respective fans. Simply put, regardless of who is considered to be the better team, one never knows how things will turn out when these teams meet on the gridiron. Still, using some logic, you have to like the Packers who beat the Saints, whom the Bears lost to. While there is no doubt this could be a close game and even go in the Bears favor, the Packers look too tough not to be considered the team that should win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Bears showed last week that they are susceptible to being beaten by the pass, and while this may not be his best game this season, QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Greg Jennings should be on fantasy gridirons this week. Even WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley are worth the fantasy starts too, with Nelson more of a low WR3 and Finley as a low TE1. While the Bears have been a bit tougher against opposing running backs, RB James Starks, who is getting a majority of the carries for the Packers, is still good to go as a low RB2, flex-play this week. Because of the ongoing protection issues the Bears have had, the Packers DST remains a solid defensive start this week. As for the Bears, only RB Matt Forte is worth a solid grid-iron start given he is the team’s main playmaker, as a runner and receiver, and the Packers are toward the middle of defending running backs.
COACH’S DECISION: The Packers’ secondary is banged up and have been torched by quarterbacks in the first two weeks of play. While QB Jay Cutler may seem like a crazy start this week, the numbers are in his favor. Also, this means one of the Bears’ wide-outs should have a good game here, and if you’re going to roll with one of them as a WR3, its should be WR Johnny Knox. The Packers have been one the best examples of a team that doesn’t give their opponents’ defenses an opportunity to hurt them. So, if you have a better option, the Bears DST is a candidate for fantasy pines this week.
ON THE PINE: RB Ryan Grant is clearly the second choice in the Packers rushing attack. Until things change, he is difficult to start in fantasy. WR Devin Hester has a chance to do something this week, but The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options that have a feel of better certainty around them.
CARDINALS (1-1) v. SEAHAWKS (0-2)
This is a game where the Cardinals could really put some distance between themselves and their other NFC West division rivals. Certainly, it is a match-up that they should win, and must win to get some momentum going into the rest of the season. For the Seahawks, a team that is starting to look healthier, they should be hoping that this turns into a game where they get their passing game going (even if they lose) against what appears to be a soft secondary. Regardless, The Fantasy Greek likes the Cardinals for the win this week.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Last week, the Seahawks showed they could be beaten by the pass, so if your QB1 has pulled a difficult match-up, QB Kevin Kolb is worth the start, and WR Larry Fitzgerald should be started in fantasy football as usual. RB Beanie Wells should have a good game here for fantasy owners as the Cardinals premier running back and should be considered a high RB2.
COACH’S DECISION: WR Early Doucet had a fantastic Week 1 but a disappointing Week 2. While could do something this week, there are likely better options for you this week. With the issues the Seahawks have had on offense, the Cardinals DST is an option, albeit maybe not the best one this week. If we knew RB Marshawn Lynch would see all the touches in this game, he certainly would be worth a flex-play this week. But since this is likely not the case, you should consider your other RBs before giving Lynch the fantasy start.
ON THE PINE: TE Jeff King seems to have some chemistry with Kolb, and the match-up this week looks right. But with TE Todd Heap potentilly creating a ceiling for King’s production, there should be better fantasy options out there. While the Seahawks passing game is not the greatest, the Cardinals have been torched defending the pass. As such, WR Sidney Rice (who could return this week), WR Mike Williams, and TE Zach Miller could do something this week. Unfortunately, it would be best to let them prove themselves from fantasy pines first. QB Tavaris Jackson has a long way to go before even being considered for a fantasy start as does the Seahawks DST.
Sunday Night Game
8:20 p.m. EST
STEELERS (1-1) v. COLTS (0-2)
The NFL schedulers likely expected this game to be a thriller a few months ago. Today, this game has the look and feel of a one-sided contest. With all the issues the Colts have had, expect a Steelers win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: While the Colts have done a decent job defending the pass, it would be difficult not to get QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Mike Wallace on fantasy gridirons. On the other hand, the Colts struggle against the rush so RB Rashard Mendenhall should have a good game this week. The Steelers DST is a solid start with all the turnover and scoring issues the Colts have had through two weeks. If there is a Colts player that feels like a certain gridiron start, it is TE Dallas Clark who faces a Steelers defense that allows tight-ends to post some stats against them.
COACH’S DECISION: TE Heath Miller has never been a consistent, go to tight-end during his career but because of the favorable match-up, he could do something this week. Still, The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options. While there is nothing scary about the match-up, WR Hines Ward and WR Emmanuel Sanders should likely not be considered. Ward and Sanders haven’t posted the kind of stats to overtake other quality fantasy starters. WR Reggie Wayne should likely be on fantasy gridirons as a low WR2, or WR3. However, it bears mentioning that the Steelers are one of the better teams defending the pass so owners should keep expectations tempered.
ON THE PINE: RB Isaac Redman was worked into the offense last week in a favorable match-up. It could happen again this week. But until we see a pattern that this will be the case going forward, he should be on fantasy pines. But for their Week 1 performance defending the rush, the Steelers have historically dominated stopping the rush. As such, RB Joseph Addai and RB DeLone Carter shouldn’t be expected to do much this week. So far, WR Pierre Garcon and WR Austin Collie have done little this season with QB Kerry Collins struggling. The Colts DST has had to step it up this season, and the Steelers have looked exposed a bit, turning the ball over. Still, Fantasy owners have better options.
Monday, September 26th
8:30 p.m. EST
REDSKINS (2-0) v. COWBOYS (1-1)
The up-start Redskins have looked real good this season. Before the conclusion of the Week 2 afternoon games, this game looked like it would truly challenging for them to win. But due to a series of injuries, the Cowboys look like they will be limping into this game without all the pieces of their full offense in place. Indeed, owners of any of the Cowboys key offensive players should pay attention to the practice reports all the way through Saturday to make sure players like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Felix Jones are practicing in full, as this should be a key indicator as to whether they will be available to owners on Monday. In any case, this feels like a game the Redskins should win with a defense playing much better than originally expected and an offense that should challenge the Cowboys secondary.
ON THE GRIDIRON: QB Rex Grossman is good start with the way he has been playing and with the way the Cowboys are defending the pass. Likewise, WR Santana Moss and TE Fred Davis should be active on fantasy gridirons and should be expected to play well given the Cowboys pass defense issues. As for the Cowboys, WR Dez Bryant (if healthy) and TE Jason Witten should be on fantasy gridirons as they will be the Cowboys main offensive weapons in this game.
COACH’S DECISION: RB Tim Hightower has been special this season so far. And, RB Roy Helu showed last week that he is another good running back option for the Redskins. However, the Cowboys have been stout defending the rush. So, Hightower is likely no better than a flex-play this week for deeper rosters and Helu a candidate for the pine. We need to see Helu firmly implanted into the rotation (which will likely happen) anyway. The Redskins DST is a good option this week as the Cowboys continue to have protection and turnover issues this season. As far QB Tony Romo, he would be tough to keep off fantasy gridirons if he plays. But, beside his rib injury, there is likely a ceiling as to how he performs against one of the better pass defenses in the league. So, if your QB2 has a favorable match-up, it is worth considering. Also, besides the fact that RB Felix Jones is banged up, the Redskins defend the rush real well too. So, if there is a week to consider Jones for the pine, this is it. Where the Redskins have made some real great strides as a team is in pass protection and protecting the ball. As such, the Cowboys DST is not the best option this week.
ON THE PINE: Neither TE Chris Cooley, WR Anthony Armstrong, nor WR Jabar Gaffney have truly distinguished themselves yet to be worth a fantasy play. Likewise, RB DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice, if they see playing time, and besides splitting time, have a poor match-up to begin with. WR Kevin Ogletree is likely to get the start in this game for the injured WR Miles Austin. He will likely be the Cowboys third receiving option and right now, doesn’t seem like a very good option to begin with.
Good luck this week!