The one o’clock games are interesting because three or four of them should result in lop-sided victories, if the Fantasy gods agree. Indeed, owners of play-makers on the Saints, Giants, Ravens, and Titans need to make sure to get them into their active line-ups this week. As for the other two games, one is of the “anything can happen” variety and the other could result in another surprise upset. Unlike the last two weeks, fantasy owners will likely not be chasing fantasy points this weekend. There are enough good match-ups that owners should be able to set line-ups that put forth numerous fantasy points. Regardless, continue playing the match-ups in making your line-up choices.
By the way, teams that have a Week 9 Bye are the Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, and Vikings. Hopefully, you have your bye week back-ups lined up and ready to go. For those of you whose roster sizes are not sufficient to maintain enough, or appropriate back-ups, consider adding your bye week player now off waivers so as to avoid missing out on them after weekly waivers process. Another option, consider trading with a team that has a need you can fill with your roster (such as an extra running back) for a player they would consider trading because of that team’s roster depth (back-up quarterback or wide-receiver for instance).
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.” 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.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Identifies players you should play because of their match-up or because of their role on their team’s offense.
COACH’S DECISION: Identifies players who you normally would play but whose match-up this week is not very good; identifies players who you normally would not play but whose match-up this week is good; or identifies players who are injured that you, the fantasy coach, will need to make the call on whether or not to play.
ON THE PINE: Identifies players who you should likely avoid unless there is no one else on your roster or on the waiver wire that can help your team win.
NOTE: Since kickers’ weekly performances are difficult to predict, kickers will not be categorized but defenses (DST) will. As to kickers, just get a good one on a team that will give the kicker an opportunity to score points.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
Sunday, October 30th
1:00 p.m. EST
SAINTS (5-2) v. RAMS (0-6)
In the preseason, many of us had high hopes for the Rams. We all knew the beginning of the schedule would be tough, but an 0-6 start was certainly unexpected. Moreover, the team has struggled on offense and on defense. The Saints on the other hand, look like they are finding their groove. Granted, they have played a few teams they should have beat, but winning breeds confidence, and confidence winning. This shouldn’t be a close game. Saints win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Rams are 6th in giving up the most fantasypoints to opposing quarterbacks; 1st in giving up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs; 2nd in giving up the most points to opposing wide receivers; and 2nd in giving up the most points to opposing defenses. So, QB Drew Brees, RB Darren Sproles, WR Marques Colston, and the Saints DST are must starts this week. Also, TE Jimmy Graham should be on the fantasy gridiron as he appears to be match-up proof even while facing a defense that allows the second least amount of fantasy points to tight-ends. While the Saints DST is a must-play, they have still had their share of problems defending the rush and pass. Seeing as RB Steven Jackson is the main offensive weapon for the Rams, and WR Brandon Lloyd continues to do well in this offense, consider each an RB2 and WR2/WR3, respectively.
COACH’S DECISION: As it pertains to the other Saints wide receivers, it is clearly a carousel of options with none of them being a sure thing in fantasy. At best, WR Robert Meachem, WR Devery Henderson, WR Lance Moore are all WR3s/flex-plays, with Moore seemingly having the edge. Preferably, these three receivers should be avoided if possible, but given the match-up, Moore and Meachem look like the best bets that could do something. With RB Mark Ingram now out with injury, RB Pierre Thomas would be worth consideration.
ON THE PINE: It still looks like QB Sam Bradford will be sidelined this week with a high ankle sprain. Back-up QB A.J. Feeley struggled last week and there is nothing about this game which would suggest he will bounce back. As mentioned, RB Mark Ingram would make for a flex-play, but it was learned he will be out with injury. While the Saints have allowed the 7th most points to opposing tight-ends, none of the tight-ends for the Rams has distinguished themselves this season. At this time, until Bradford returns to the gridiron, avoid WR Danario Alexander and WR Brandon Gibson. The Rams DST has disappointed all season long.
DOLPHINS (0-7) v. GIANTS (4-2)
The Dolphins lost to the Broncos last weekend in pretty ugly fashion. Their offense struggled mightily and their defense fell apart toward the end of the game and in overtime. This week, they face a Giants team coming off their bye week and they play at the Meadowlands. The Giants should be motivated and fresh. Certainly, the Giants are a contender in for the NFC East divisional crown and this is one more game taking them in that direction. The Fantasy Greek does not expect this game to be close, but lopsided, and ending in a Giants win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Because the Giants have had their share of problems defending the rush, RB Daniel Thomas makes for a decent start as a low RB2 or flex-play. The Giants can definitely be beaten by the pass, so WR Brandon Marshall makes for a decent start. However, given the quarterbacking issues the Dolphins have had, and the fact he will be covered by CB Champ Bailey, treat Marshall like a low-WR2 or solid WR3. For the Giants, QB Eli Manning should be started against a defense allowing the most fantasy points to QBs! While the Dolphins do a good job keeping wide-receivers out of the end zone, ranked in the middle of all defenses, WR Hakeem Nicks remains a must-start. The Dolphins rush defense is pretty stout, but with the way RB Ahmad Bradshaw has been playing of late, he is an RB2 for this match-up. If there is a week that the Giants DST should romp its opponent, this is it. Besides the fact that the Giants seem to be getting healthier, the Dolphins allow the fifth most fantasy points to opposing defenses, and the pass protection has been awful for the Dolphins.
COACH’S DECISION: As mentioned, this isn’t the worst match-up for Dolphins running backs so RB Reggie Bush is an option, even though the strong recommendation is to treat him as strictly a low-level flex-play given some inconsistency on his part. Even though there is some uncertainty as to whether WR Mario Manningham or WR Victor Cruz will have the better game, both are worth WR3 consideration given the match-up. If you own TE Jake Ballard, note that the Dolphins allow the second most fantasy points to tight-ends and you should feel comfortable with him on the gridiron, if need be. It looks like RB Brandon Jacobs will make it back to the gridiron from injury this week. While it is unclear what his role will be, consider him an optional flex-play.
ON THE PINE: Even though this isn’t the worst match-up, QB Matt Moore is just difficult to start right now until he can prove himself — from the pine. No other Dolphins or Giants player not mentioned is worth fantasy consideration this week.
CARDINALS (1-5) v. RAVENS (4-2)
The season is not going as well as the Cardinals had hoped, mostly because Kevin Kolb continues to struggle in the offense. While there’s still time to turn the season around, it likely won’t be this week against a Ravens team that was stunned by a Jaguars team that played well beyond itself last Monday night on the defensive side of the ball. Indeed, the Ravens are the tops in defending most positional categories, while the Cardinals are quite the opposite. This is a game where the black birds are going to beat up on the red birds — Ravens win!
ON THE GRIDIRON: While the Ravens defend the pass well, it’s not good enough to keep WR Larry Fitzgerald off the gridiron. Just know, that with coverage rolling his way, Fitzgerald is more likely to post WR2 numbers than WR1 numbers. The Cardinals are 15th in giving up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, 4th in giving up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and 12th in giving up the most fantasy points to opposing defenses. So, RB Ray Rice, WR Anquan Boldin, and the Ravens DST should all be on the gridiron and be expected to play well. Also, QB Joe Flacco makes for a solid start this week as the Cardinals are giving up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
COACH’S DECISION: RB Beanie Wells has been pretty good this season, Still, he may or may not play this week due to injury. Either way, Wells, (or his back-up RB Alfonso Smith), makes for a poor play against a defense that is ranked second in fantasy against the rush. If you have WR Torrey Smith, he can be on the gridiron, as can TE Ed Dickson, as the Cardinals are in the top twelve of teams allow fantasy points to the TE position.
ON THE PINE: The Ravens are first in defending opposing QBs. Besides, the fact that QB Kevin Kolb has struggled this season, this is another reason to keep him on the pine. Even though WR Early Doucet could have a chance, it’s just a chance. He is properly benched in this match-up. While the Cards could turn to their tight-ends for help, the Ravens are the best at defending that position too. No other player on either team is worth considering this week in fantasy.
VIKINGS (1-6) v. PANTHERS (2-5)
The Vikings looked like a whole new team last week with QB Christian Ponder leading the team. Watching his development will be interesting. Moreover, the Vikings look more like a team that can win a game. The Panthers are a rush defense from breaking away. Whoever wins, these look like two teams whose arrows are pointing up for the future. This is a tough game to call. Still, the Vikings are struggling just enough that the Panthers should be able to pull out the win in front of the hometown fans with the player we have all been watching blossom before our eyes. Start the usual suspects in this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: RB Adrian Peterson is a typical must-start, but this week faces a rush defense which is second worst in defending opposing RBs. Peterson owners should expect a great game from AP. The Vikings have had their share of problems defending the pass, so have no hesitation starting QB Cam Newton and WR Steve Smith this week. Expect a good game from them too. In fact, consider both top starters in Week 8.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Christian Ponder was solid in his first start last weekend. The Panthers rank towards the middle of defending opposing QBs. So, in this bye week, Ponder is a solid option should you need the help. Unfortunately, how the Panthers defend quarterbacks, is not how they defend wide receivers. The Panthers allow wide receivers to catch the ball, but have done a good job in limiting their yardage and touchdowns. As such, WR Percy Harvin and WR Michael Jenkins are no better than WR3s or flex-plays for owners having a hard time filling the position. Certainly, they have some upside with Ponder under center. If you need a tight-end, look to TE Visanthe Shiancoe this week as the Panthers have a tough time defending the position. The Vikings have had their share of problems defending the rush. In this game, both RB Jonathan Stewart and RB DeAngelo Williams could have decent games. Obviously, with the way Stewart has played, he is the preferred option of the two, and would make for a low RB2 or flex-play, while Williams is no better than a low-level flex-play with the way he is playing this season.
ON THE PINE: Besides the Vikings doing a pretty good job defending tight-ends, TE Greg Olsen has had some of his production eaten into by TE Jeremy Shockey. Until Olsen takes firm hold of the tight-end position again, avoid him for now, and especially based on this match-up. The Panthers DST hasn’t been very good this season and The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options than the Vikings DST this week.
COLTS (0-7) v. TITANS (3-3)
The Colts season has been ugly to say the least. But then, the last three games have been ugly for the Titans too. This is a game where both teams could right some of their problems. As the Titans have struggled offensively and defensively as of late, the Colts could be in this game. However, with the problems the Colts have had on defense, the Titans key playmakers should shine. The Fantasy Greek likes the Titans for the win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: WR Pierre Garcon is the player with the most chemistry with Curtis Painter. Painter has consistently targeted him with the deep ball and Garcon has connected. So, Garcon has the best chance of doing something in this game against a Titans pass defense that can give up a big play. QB Matt Hasselbeck started strong, but has fizzled a bit. The Titans opponents have been better than billed. This week though, Hasselbeck gets a Colts’ defense that struggles against the pass, making him and WR Nate Washington players that should be on the gridiron this week. RB Chris Johnson is on the bubble of “Bust” designation. Johnson has fallen far since his breakout season just a couple of years ago. Still, the Colts are allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing RBs so Johnson should have an outstanding game this week. With the way the Colts imploded last week against the Saints, the Titans DST makes for a solid start this week.
COACH’S DECISION: The Titans struggle against the rush, so a healthy RB Joseph Addai could make for a good start. Right now, Addai’s status is certainly up in the air. Should Addai not start, both RB Donald Brown and RB DeLone Carter would see some work. Should that happen, The Fantasy Greek feels Carter would make for a decent, not great flex-play. Brown would have some value too, but only for owners in desperate need. WR Reggie Wayne has been as active as Garcon, but lacks the touchdowns. With the Titans corner covering him, this could be a week to avoid him. Still, if you must consider Wayne, consider him at best a WR3. The Titans are awful (fifth worst) defending opposing tight-ends, which makes TE Dallas Clark a low level TE1 candidate. But, because of inconsistency, owners of Clark should consider their other TE for the start first. WR Damian Williams has been talked about and ballyhooed. This could be a a breakout game for him. Still, owners should consider keeping Williams on the pine until he has that breakout game.
ON THE PINE: The Titans are in the middle of teams defending quarterbacks. Still, QB Curtis Painter has been so bad, even in a good match-up, that he is not worth the start with so many other options available to fantasy owners. WR Austin Collie has hardly been part of the offense this season. This could be a blessing in disguise given the multiple concussions he suffered last season. TE Jared Cook should likely be avoided because if the Colts do one thing well, it’s defend opposing tight-ends (ninth best).
JAGUARS (2-5) v. TEXANS (4-3)
The Jaguars shocked the football world this past Monday with an upset win over the Ravens. The Jaguars showed good defense can still win games. This week, they face another good defensive team in the Texans. But, the Texans are also a team whose offense is a little more versatile than the Ravens, given their quarterback and various offensive weapons. While anything can happen, The Fantasy Greek doesn’t see the Jaguars upsetting two games in a row, on the road, against the Texans.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Texans have one of the better rush defenses in the league, but with the way RB Maurice Jones-Drew has played this season, he is properly on the gridiron. One hundred yards rushing and a touchdown would not be too much to ask for in this game. As we all know, the Jaguars defense is tough. Still, the Texans have learned to adjust and QB Matt Schaub has been there before. Schaub can be on the gridiron as a low QB1 and two hundred to two hundred and fifty yards passing, with one or two touchdowns is definitely doable. Likewise, RB Arian Foster has run well against the teams he has faced, good and bad. One hundred yards rushing and touchdown for Foster is not too much to ask for either. As the Jaguars allow the ninth most fantasy points to opposing tight-ends, TE Owen Daniels should be on the gridiron as should the Texans DST, which has turned out to be one of the best in the league. Besides, the Jaguars allow the most fantasy points to opposing defenses.
COACH’S DECISION: There is a possibility that WR Andre Johnson could be on the gridiron this week. If active, you likely have to play him. Still, there is probably a better chance he does not play, and even if he does, his role could be limited. RB Ben Tate put up some great stats last week in game the Texans ran away with. In this game, there is a chance Tate doesn’t get this same opportunity. Tate will get some work for sure, but whether he touches the ball as much as he did last week, is unlikely. At best, Tate makes for a very low flex-play.
ON THE PINE: WR Kevin Walter and WR Jacoby Jones have done a good job with Andre Johnson out. Prudent owners would do best to avoid them in what is already a tough match-up, and avoid the possibility that they own and are playing the wide receiver who does not post a single stat during the week. With rookie QB Blaine Gabbert leading the team, the passing game was already suffering. Facing the Texans defense doesn’t help. The Texans allow the fourth least fantasy points to opposing tight-ends, making TE Marcedes Lewis a particularly poor play this week. With the Texans pass defense only slightly worse than the Ravens, WR Mike Sims-Walker and WR Mike Thomas should be avoided. The Jaguars DST is tough, but not one you start in fantasy.
Good luck this week!