Are you struggling with match-up decisions or dealing with an injury-depleted roster? Here are my sleeper picks worthy of starting for your team this week.
BYE: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco
Bengals vs Dolphins: Bengals RBs; The Dolphins are ranked 29th against the run and both Giovani Bernard and Benjarvus Green-Ellis, who will continue to be worked as an RB platoon, are RB2/FLEX worthy starts.
If you’re wondering about Marvin Jones and his ridiculous 8|122|4TD outburst last week, you’re skeptical that the top waiver add only played on 19 snaps Efficiency withstanding, you’re paying more attention to Mohamed Sanu’s status going into Thursday night, whose absence would bump Jones into the No. 2 receiver spot and increase his involvement in the Bengals offense. Still, that only means he gets to face the 4th-ranked pass defense (who allowed their first TD last week), and I don’t see Andy Dalton continuing his hot streak after three weeks of generous pass match-ups.
Chiefs vs Bills: Dwayne Bowe; He’s either on waivers or firmly entrenched on your bench, which tells the entire story of Bowe’s season. The trust factor is at an all-time low, but if you look at his upcoming schedule, you see the likes of @Den, SD, Den, and @Was, all very generous pass defenses. Buffalo is ranked last in pass defense and Bowe doesn’t perform horribly when provided the match-up (see Dallas in Week 2, Giants in Week 4). In a WR-depleted week, Bowe remains on the WR3 radar.
Falcons vs Panthers: Mike Tolbert; Beyond being the second option near the goal-line, Tolbert is also eating into DeAngelo William’s production and finding work on third downs, which only boosts his final line. He’s a risky play, but if you’re desperate, he’s a low-end FLEX play against a middling Atlanta run defense.
Vikings vs Cowboys: Cowboys D/ST; It doesn’t matter which Vikings QB plays, I expect Dallas to dominate at home after an embarrassing last-minute showing last week against Detroit.
Saints vs Jets: Chris Ivory; “The Battle of the Ryans” figures to be a battle of defensive wits, and while “Good Geno” may show up, he’ll be more of a game manager playing against Rob Ryan’s 3rd-ranked Saints pass defense. I’d love to promote Chris Ivory facing his former team (who are giving up an NFL worst 4.8 yards/carry), but you’re banking on Rex Ryan being able to keep the score close at home to prevent the pass-catching Bilal Powell from eating into Ivory’s playing time. A low-end RB2/FLEX play this week for the gambling man.
Chargers vs Redskins: Keenan Allen; Washington is so terrible that you can pick and choose any San Diego player to have a great game against them. Coming off the bye, I expect Allen to continue his impressive rookie campaign against a Redskins defense that is 3rd-most generous to opposing WRs.
Titans vs Rams: Chris Johnson; Zac Stacy figures to be a question mark heading into an early Sunday match-up, and after his showing against Seattle, I’m sure Tennessee is aware that shutting down Stacy and forcing Kellen Clemens to throw is their top defense priority. Even if the Rams have another great day of pass rushing, Chris Johnson has demonstrated that, given the RB match-up, he only needs a little space in order to be effective.
Eagles vs Raiders: Raiders D/ST; They play well at home and the Eagles are a sinking ship traveling cross-country with quarterback issues, allowing 15 points to opposing fantasy defenses the past two weeks.
Buccaneers vs Seahawks: Mike James; See last week’s argument for Zac Stacy.
Ravens vs Browns: Jacoby Jones/Marlon Brown; Torrey Smith gets the Joe Haden treatment, meaning Baltimore’s No. 2 receiver should reap the benefits.
Steelers vs Patriots: Le’Veon Bell; New England’s run defense is terrible and given Pittsburgh’s offensive line woes, the Steelers figure to continue relying on Bell as their workhorse with a run-heavy gameplan.
Colts vs Texans: DeAndre Hopkins; Case Keenum isn’t a huge downgrade from Matt Schaub and demonstrated a good connection with Hopkins before the bye. With the backfield currently in flux, the Texans may choose to rely on the pass more and attack a less-than-stellar Colts secondary.
Bears vs Packers: Jarrett Boykin; You’re monitoring James Jones’ status coming into the game, but if he remains inactive, Boykin continues to have a productive role with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, against a Bears defense on a downward trend.
Always remember: Start your studs, play the match-ups, and don’t be afraid to make the trade!