Fantasy Must Haves For Sunday

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: Dallas, St. Louis

Colts vs Titans: Ryan Fitzpatrick; Consistency has plagued much of Fitzpatrick’s career, alternating between Andy Dalton levels of average and atrocious. The shortened week doesn’t help, but coming off a game where the Colts secondary made Kellen Clemens look like a legit starting QB, Fitzpatrick should have a solid outing if you’re playing in two-QB or deeper leagues.

Ravens vs Bears: Torrey Smith; Joe Flacco has more TDs than turnovers, but unless Ray Rice finally breaks out against a struggling Bears defense, I expect Flacco to continue throwing and the oft-targeted Smith to take advantage of Charles Tillman’s absence.

Browns vs Bengals: Brown D/ST; The last time these teams met in Week 4, Dalton threw for 206 yards, an INT, and fumbled the ball. Coming off the bye with Andy Dalton again mired in one of his signature slumps? I’ll buy it. If you don’t and believe in the “Joe Haden effect,” feel free to run Marvin Jones as a WR3.

Lions vs Steelers: Kris Durham; I’ll run Durham again in a game that Ike Taylor may miss recovering from a concussion. With Nate Burleson not fully healthy and Calvin Johnson routinely drawing double-coverage, Durham should see plenty of (red zone) passes thrown his way from a red-hot Matthew Stafford.

Raiders vs Texans: Case Keenum; Oakland’s defense is nowhere close to Arizona’s, yet, Keenum still posted decent fantasy numbers against the Cardinals. If you’re looking for a bye week fill-in (and possible ROS replacement) for Tony Romo, he’s the top choice.

Cardinals vs Jaguars: Rob Housler; Facing the only team worse against TEs and with the Cardinals WR corps hobbled with injuries, Housler is beginning to see an uptick in usage in an offense that definitely utilizes the position; use him as a high-end TE2 this week.

Redskins vs Eagles: Leonard Hankerson; If you’re flying high on Cooper’s hot streak going against the Redskins’ below-average pass defense, keep in mind that his production has been comparatively dismal at home, totaling 101 yards against the inept Cowboys and Giants. The Eagles pass defense hasn’t allowed a TD to WRs the last three games, but when you realize they were against Eli Manning, Terrelle Pryor, and Scott Tolzien, you’re not buying numbers. The Redskins are ready to avenge their embarrassing opening week loss against an Eagles team that’s 0-4 at home this year, and Hankerson will find the end zone like he did then.

Falcons vs Buccaneers: Timothy Wright; Atlanta’s season is quickly going down the drain, but the secondary likely will surmise enough pride to prevent Vincent Jackson from burning them as badly as he did in Week 7 (10|138|2TDs), which should open the field for Timothy Wright in a bounceback game and possible Jason Witten replacement.

Chargers vs Dolphins: Ryan Mathews; Ride the hot hand against a surprisingly terrible Dolphins run defense that’s allowed 518 yards and 6 TDs over the last 4 games.

Packers vs Giants: Scott Tolzien; Despite being a Packer, I’ll be rooting for the only NFL QB produced by the Fremd Vikings (also my high school!). For a third-string quarterback abruptly thrust into a game, Tolzien looked respectable and capable of moving the chains. With a full week of first-team reps and plenty of weapons at his disposal, Tolzien should prove to be a serviceable QB2 in the same vein as Josh McCown until Aaron Rodgers returns.

Vikings vs Seahawks: Percy Harvin; Likely to see a limited number of snaps, but almost guaranteed to find himself in a position to score against his former team. Still, temper your expectations of Harvin coming off your bench as he’s no more than a low-end FLEX play before Seattle heads into their bye week.

49ers vs Saints: Kendall Hunter; Lost in the Cowboys’ pitiful loss to the Saints was DeMarco Murray continuing to show the Saints defense is weak against the run. Coming off Kaepernick’s disappointing showing against the Panthers, the 49ers likely will continue their ground-and-pound offense in order to to keep Drew Brees on the sidelines (especially playing at home where he’s been lights-out) and Hunter being used enough to keep Frank Gore fresh.

Chiefs vs Broncos: Dwayne Bowe; Speeding and marijuana charges withstanding, unless the Chiefs’ highly-touted but suspect defense continues to produce turnovers and limit scoring, Alex Smith is going to have to throw to keep up with Peyton Manning. With a $56 million contract looming over his head, Dwayne Bowe will have to produce some fantasy relevant numbers over the next few weeks and start playing like a WR2.

Patriots vs Panthers: Aaron Dobson; Not that my gut calls have been super spot-on lately, but I expect a lot of quick, checkdown throws from Tom Brady for most of the game to keep the Panthers front seven at bay before lobbing one to Dobson for a surprise TD. Absolutely against all metrics and projections, but I’m just saying.

Always remember: Start your studs, play the match-ups, and don’t be afraid to make the trade!