Every week, there are certain fantasy studs who you simply have to start no matter what. Tom Brady, Arian Foster and Roddy White fall into that category, to name a few.
There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit.
Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictate one way or the other:
Start 'Em: Quarterback
Andrew Luck (at NYJ)
Andrew Luck is kind of something special already, isn’t he?
He’s only four games into his career, but he already has three 300-yard games, three multiple-TD games, a last-minute comeback win against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers when his team was down by 18 at the half and he’s third in the league in fantasy points per game.
This week he goes up against a Jets squad in complete disarray right now, though they still aren’t too shabby against the pass despite the loss of Darrelle Revis.
Indy, as expected, hasn’t run the ball very well this season, and now that Donald Brown is out for a couple of weeks, it might not get much better. Because of this, I fully expect Luck to toss the pill around all game and probably end up with more attempts than his current average of 44.25 per game.
With that many passes and the way he’s playing, QB1 stats are almost a given.
Michael Vick (vs. DET)
Michael Dwayne Vick has been downright atrocious this season as far as holding onto the ball. He enters Week 6 with five lost fumbles and six interceptions, by far the most combined turnovers in the league.
That being said, if turnovers don’t cost you points in your league, then Vick’s running ability and two 300-yard games give his fantasy owners a borderline QB1 this season.
He’s done pretty well despite Jeremy Maclin’s subpar, injury-riddled season as well and could be in for a nice game against the Lions this Sunday with Maclin back close to full health.
Detroit’s defense has been just so-so this season and plays far worse on the road, so look for Vick to pull off a little magic in Philly this Sunday.
Philip Rivers (vs. DEN - Monday Night)
Rivers has had a tough time so far this season, but he seems to have turned things around as of late and has his fantasy arrow pointing straight up again.
Like his opposition this week, Peyton Manning, Rivers’ best day to play on over the course of his career has been under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. To expect anything less than a good fantasy battle between the two would be just silly.
Manning should come away with the better stats in this one due to my belief that Norv Turner will use Ryan Mathews quite a bit and that he’ll do well with the opportunity, but Rivers should have a QB1-type game of his own.
In fact, I think the running game will open up the secondary for a couple of deep passes by Rivers, and it wouldn’t shock me to see two long TDs out of him this Monday night.
Other QBs with QB1 Potential
- Kevin Kolb (vs. BUF)
- Matt Schaub (vs. GB—Sunday night)
- Christian Ponder (at WAS)
- Andy Dalton (at CLE)
- Mark Sanchez (vs. IND)
- Brandon Weeden (vs. CIN)
- Russell Wilson (vs. NE)
Start 'Em: Running Back
Jamaal Charles (at TB)
In the last three weeks alone, Jamaal Charles has 465 rushing yards on 80 carries (5.8 YPC) with three total TDs.
Kind of a disgusting display for a guy coming off of an ACL tear last season, wouldn’t you say?
This week he’ll be strutting his stuff against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers rush D that has looked good so far but was the worst in the league last season, giving up the most yards, TDs and fantasy points in 2011.
The fact is, the Chiefs will be starting Brady Quinn at QB this week, but regardless of how bad he is, they would likely be giving Jamaal the ball around 30 times anyway with Cassel in there.
With 30-plus carries, The Ostrich can do no wrong.
Trent Richardson (vs. CIN)
Richardson is a beast, and everyone knows it.
We’ve also been shown what a touchdown-monger he is, as he’s currently tied for second in the league in total TDs with five (Victor Cruz, James Jones), one behind Arian Foster. His rushing yardage isn’t quite there yet, but you know it's coming.
This weekend he’ll face a Bengals defense that he absolutely dominated during their first contest back in Week 2. In that one, Trent put up his first career 100-yard rushing game (109) along with both his first rushing and receiving TDs. I expect more of the same this weekend.
Ryan Mathews (vs. DEN - Monday Night)
Like with Jamaal Charles, all it took was one game against the decrepit Saints defense and his season was completely turned around.
I expect Mathews to follow in Charles' footsteps and take control of his RB1 potential from here on out as well.
The Broncos actually have a pretty good rush defense over there, but they don’t seem to play as well away from home…as New England clearly showed last weekend.
It’s time for Mathews to be handed the reins to this offense. Though I believe this will end up being a shootout-type of a game, Mathews should be able to grab at least one of those TDs.
If he gets around 20 touches like he should, 150 total yards wouldn’t be out of the question either.
Frank Gore (vs. NYG)
The Giants have given up a lot of yardage on the ground this year, and though they haven’t allowed the TDs to follow, they are certainly vulnerable.
Gore has outshone what many thought he would be doing this year, as he’s received 12 or more carries in every game thus far and has a touchdown in four of five games. His 5.4 yards per carry rivals his 2006 output as well, so it seems the 29-year old was underestimated in many ways this season.
One of the main reasons he’s been able to run so well is that the 49ers finally have a passing attack to pay attention to, so obviously holes are going to open because of it.
The Giants defense can be beat in all sorts of ways right now, so look for Gore to have a little fun this weekend.
Michael Turner (vs. OAK)
He isn't pretty and he isn't sexy, but damn does the Centaur get the job done.
He’s visibly slow compared to the rest of the league at this point and might have trouble beating out a cement mixer in a race, but with the Falcons offense being so wide open right now, defenses are forced to play back and let Atlanta run whenever they want.
Since Oakland just happens to be one of the worst in the league against the run this season, it’s kind of a no-brainer that Turner will have a nice game here.
Reggie Bush (vs. STL)
Bush has been playing through some pain the last couple of weeks and still isn’t quite at 100 percent, but I don’t think he’ll need to be against the Rams this Sunday.
St. Louis hasn’t been awful against the run this season, but was one of the worst in 2011 and hasn’t improved enough to make me think that a dynamic runner like Bush won’t put up some nice stats against them.
I doubt Ryan Tannehill will be able to break through their surprisingly top-notch secondary, so look for the Dolphins to feed Bush as many touches as he can handle.
He’s a low-end RB1 this week with some really nice upside.
Other RBs with RB1 Potential
- Doug Martin (vs. KC)
- Fred Jackson (at ARI)
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at CLE)
- William Powell (vs. BUF)
- C.J. Spiller (at ARI)
- Shonn Greene (vs. IND)
- Vick Ballard (at NYJ)
- LaRod Stephens-Howling (vs. BUF)
- LeGarrette Blount (vs. KC)
- Lamar Miller (vs. STL)
Start 'Em: Wide Receiver
Percy Harvin (at WAS)
Not that it’s tough to do well against the Titans these days, but the performance Harvin put on last weekend was something special to watch.
If you didn’t know who you were watching on his rushing touchdown, you would have guessed it was Adrian Peterson. Harvin looked like a freight train out there bouncing off of defenders before scampering into the end zone.
However, his receiving TD is the one that will be on highlight films at the end of the season after he made more than a couple of different defenders look like they’ve never played football before.
This weekend, Percy has a chance to go even more ballistic than he did in Week 5, as he’ll be facing a Redskins defense that has allowed by far the most yards and fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
In fact, every week they’ve allowed at least one receiver to put up 94 (and usually a lot more) yards and a touchdown, a trend Harvin should be able to extend through Week 6.
Demaryius Thomas (at SD - Monday Night)
Demaryius Thomas is showing on a weekly basis why he was the top wide receiver taken in the 2010 NFL draft (two spots ahead of Dez Bryant).
The fumbles have been awful, I know, but Peyton Manning already told Andrew Mason of the Sporting News that he won’t stop throwing to Thomas in the slightest because of them.
This week, Demaryius goes up against a Chargers secondary that’s been beaten like a drum by tall wide receivers this season and at the very least, should come away with a touchdown and over 100 yards.
Manning loves to throw on Monday night, so make sure to watch this game as Thomas may show us something special.
Wes Welker (at SEA)
Welker found his way into the end zone for the first time this season against the Broncos last weekend, though you’d think that when you make 13 catches in a game, at least one of them has to end up over the goal line.
When the Patriots found themselves below .500 after Week 3, it’s been Welker’s back they’ve climbed on to get them back in the win column. I doubt they stray too far from him for the remainder of the season.
The Seahawks defense is among the best in the game right now, as they’ve allowed the fewest total yards (258.6) and second-fewest points (14.0) per game. They’ve also allowed just three passing TDs through five games, and one of them occurred on a fake field goal, so Brady and Welker certainly have their work cut out for them.
That being said, the guys Seattle has the most trouble covering are the little slot receivers and Welker, well, he’s not nicknamed "The Slot Machine" for nothing.
New England won’t be able to run against Seattle, either, so I fully expect Brady to hit up the no-huddle/hurry-up offense that they used to beat Denver last week and target Welker around 15 times in the process.
Andre Johnson (vs. GB - Sunday Night)
We all know by now that this isn’t the same Andre Johnson as in years past, but he still has some big games in him when the Texans need him to put in a good week.
Earlier this year against Miami, when Houston was having a tough time running the ball, ‘Dre was called upon to get them in the scoring column—which he gladly obliged their request by grabbing eight balls for 119 yards and a TD.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate should be able to run some against Green Bay, but the Packers rush D is better than their defense against the pass right now, so I believe Schaub will get Johnson involved this Sunday night.
If Aaron Rodgers has an Aaron Rodgers-type of a game—and I expect he will—then Houston will need to score a good amount of points in order to win, which means Andre’s number will be called out quite often.
Other WRs with WR1 Potential
- Michael Crabtree (vs. NYG)
- Andre Roberts (vs. BUF)
- Sidney Rice (vs. NE)
- Jeremy Kerley (vs. IND)
- Donnie Avery (at NYJ)
- Denarius Moore (at ATL)
- Andrew Hawkins (at CLE)
- Mike Williams (vs. KC)
- Randall Cobb (at HOU—Sunday night)
- Josh Gordon (vs. CIN)
- T.Y. Hilton (at NYJ)
- Greg Little (vs. CIN)
- Mario Manningham (vs. NYG)
- Armon Binns (at CLE)
- Steve Smith—STL (at MIA)
Start 'Em: Tight End
Tony Gonzalez (vs. OAK)
Gonzo’s on a roll like none other right now, and though I’d like to attribute it in full to his personal mastery of the position, I can’t.
Though there’s no question he’s one of, if not the best tight end of all time, Atlanta’s new high-flying offense would probably make Anthony Fasano look like a fantasy god at this point.
Either way, Tony G is a must-start this week going up against a completely inept Raiders defense that gives up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Kyle Rudolph (at WAS)
Rudolph hasn’t been getting the amount of catches and yards you’d like out of a starting tight end just yet, but his prowess in the red-zone has been special enough to keep him in the top 10 for fantasy points through five weeks of action.
There’s been talk about getting Kyle more involved in the offense going forward, and though I’d normally write this kind of “coach-speak” off, I actually believe it this time due to Rudolph’s insane athletic/ball-catching ability.
This week he goes to Washington to face the third-worst fantasy defense at defending tight ends. In my eyes, the Vikings will need Rudolph involved in a big way if they want to extend their hot start to the season.
Brent Celek (vs. DET)
Even though he scored his first touchdown of the season last week, Celek’s hot start to 2012 has tapered off over the last three weeks due to the Eagles' need for him to help out with blocking along the line. That should change this week against the Lions.
Detroit actually has a real nice defensive front four, but they’ve underachieved so far this season and allowed tight ends to slip off the line for a good amount of catches, yards and TDs.
Right now, the Lions allow the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends and have been especially bad away from home, giving up an average of 110 yards and 1.5 TDs a game.
Coincidentally, Celek also happens to be a much better fantasy player at home, so if you’re an owner who’s been down on Celek lately, know that this is the week he turns it around for you.
Owen Daniels (vs. GB - Sunday Night)
I’ve heard a lot of discussion about how Owen Daniels has taken over for Andre Johnson as the top target in the Texans' passing game, but I’m not quite ready to anoint him a superstud just yet.
Yes, he has more catches, yards and TDs than ‘Dre so far and is third in the league in fantasy points, but we’ll see what happens later on in the season.
That being said, Week 6 is what counts for fantasy owners, and Daniels should be able to stay in the limelight for at least another game.
The Packers have had a bit of a tough time covering tight ends this season, and in a game that could end up being a shootout, Daniels has a real good chance of being heavily involved.
Other TEs with TE1 Potential
- Dennis Pitta (vs. DAL)
- Fred Davis (vs. MIN)
- Jason Witten (at BAL)
- Jacob Tamme (at SD—Monday night)
- Brandon Myers (at ATL)
- Coby Fleener (at NYJ)
- Rob Housler (vs. BUF)
- Zach Miller (vs. NE)
Sit 'Em: Quarterback
Joe Flacco (vs. DAL)
Tony Romo (at BAL)
Robert Griffin III (vs. MIN)
- Matt Cassel (at TB)—OUT—Concussion
Sit 'Em: Running Backs
Stevan Ridley (at SEA)
Steven Jackson (at MIA)
Alex Green (at HOU—Sunday night)
Ahmad Bradshaw (at SF)
- Andre Brown (at SF)—OUT—Concussion
- Cedric Benson (at HOU—Sunday Night) – OUT—Foot, Lisfranc; the Packers put him on the “designated for return” I.R. where he’ll be until at least Week 14.
- Daniel Thomas (vs. STL)—OUT—Concussion
- Donald Brown (at NYJ)—OUT—Knee; had a knee scope and will be out for two to three weeks.
- Peyton Hillis (vs. BAL)—OUT—Ankle
- Carolina—DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart/Mike Tolbert
- Chicago—Matt Forte / Michael Bush
- Jacksonville—Maurice Jones-Drew/Rashad Jennings
- New Orleans—Darren Sproles/Pierre Thomas/Mark Ingram
Sit 'Em: Wide Receiver
Dez Bryant (at BAL)
Vincent Jackson (vs. KC)
Anquan Boldin (vs. DAL)
Brian Hartline (vs. STL)
Robert Meachem (vs. DEN—Monday night)
Domenik Hixon (at SF)
- Greg Jennings (at HOU, Sunday Night)—OUT—Groin; still out on a week-to-week basis.
- Julian Edelman (vs. DEN)—QUESTIONABLE—Hand
- Mohamed Massaquoi (vs. CIN)—OUT—Hamstring
- Travis Benjamin (vs. CIN)—DOUBTFUL—Hamstring
- Jordan Norwood (vs. CIN)—OUT—Foot, Lisfranc; the Browns put him on the “designated for return” I.R. on Friday.
- Carolina—Steve Smith/Brandon LaFell/David Gettis/Louis Murphy
- Chicago—Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery/Devin Hester/Earl Bennett
- Jacksonville—Justin Blackmon/Laurent Robinson/Cecil Shorts
- New Orleans—Marques Colston/Lance Moore/Devery Henderson/Joseph Morgan/Greg Camarillo
Sit 'Em: Tight End
Brandon Pettigrew (at PHI)
Jermichael Finley (at HOU—Sunday night)
Jermaine Gresham (at CLE)
- Dustin Keller (vs. IND)—QUESTIONABLE—Hamstring; didn’t practice all week and unlikely to play on Monday night.
- Aaron Hernandez (at SEA)—QUESTIONABLE —Ankle; looks like he will return this week.
- Carolina—Greg Olsen
- Chicago—Kellen Davis
- Jacksonville—Marcedes Lewis
- New Orleans—Jimmy Graham
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