In part due to general laziness…
In part due to a completely useless overworked staff…
In part due to the NFL’s GAWD awful Thursday games…
and in part due to the fact that we like to bite Bill Simmons’ style in every way possible…
The Fantasy Ninjas are offering our first ever start/sit mailbag. We have start/sit questions from both ninjas and non-ninjas. Check it, and use this info as you would a smoke bomb: to stealthily sneak into your leaguemates’ rooms and slit their throats when they’re not looking.
Braylon Edwards (vs. HOU), Michael Crabtree (vs. TB) or Anquan Boldin (@ CAR).
Also which TE should I start, Aaron Hernandez (vs. IND) or Todd Heap (@ CAR).
Indianapolis DST (@ NE) or Baltimore’s DST (@ CAR)?
First off, big ups to Hersch and WJEL. Thanks for having us on a few weeks ago.
Now to your questions. I’ll deal with the obvious ones first. While I assume you’re a Colts fan (and you better be!), the Ravens, while underperforming this year, have a real shot to outperform an Indy defense that’s struggled on the road. The Colts DST has averaged just 4.6 fppg in road contests this year, and NE is a pretty dominant offense. Remember what they did to the Steelers last week? Yeah, that’s a problem for the Colts. Conversely, Carolina (Baltimore’s week 11 opponent) is pretty much a fantasy defense’s dream. They can’t score, they turn the ball over…it’s a great chance for BAL to put up some elite numbers for once.
Your TE question is an easy one too. I have Heap ranked as my #2 TE on the week. While the Panthers have been solid on D, they’ve allowed the 2nd-most points to TEs on the year, according to our matchup tool. Hernandez gets an Indy team that’s allowing the second-fewest. Seems obvious because it is (plus you can’t ignore the goose egg Hernandez gave you last week in favor of Rob Gronkowski).
As for your WRs, Boldin is the obvious one, despite the Panthers being an unexciting matchup. He’s proven enough this year to be considered matchup proof for the moment. That leaves Edwards vs. Crabtree, and I’m going Edwards, who cracked my WR top 30 for the first time in a while, thanks to a tasty matchup vs. HOU, who’s allowing the third-most fppg to opposing WRs. Arizona’s pretty bad too, and I fully expect Crabtree to be somewhat serviceable, but I like Edwards to break a big one against the horrid Texans’ secondary.
Pick 3 WR/ 1WR/Te 1 TE
J. Cribbs (we get return yards)
Addai, Lynch, or Best?
Southside, CHI! (represent, represent-zent)
Even though I don’t have him ranked this week, Moss is a must start option for you, as he plays at home versus a Redskins team that’s giving up more points to WRs than anyone this year, and your other options kinda suck. One more week of practice and he should be acclimated at least enough to catch a TD (if he’s trying).
I’d stay away from Armstrong as TEN has allowed 28 or fewer to WRs in three of the last four.
Ward, if he plays, is a still not a great start (the Raiders allow the third-fewest pts to WRs), but based on talent/QB only he’s better than anyone else for you at WR2.
That leaves WR3, W/T and TE.
Normally I’d never recommend starting two TEs if your league allows you to do so. Not so in this case. Heap gets CAR, who as I mentioned earlier, ranks second only to HOU in TE points allowed. Meanwhile Tamme (assuming he plays), who’s a must-start anyway by now, gets the 7th worst def against TEs (NE…though they’ve been very solid over the last three weeks; I figure Peyton dissects them).
So all that’s left is WR3.
By matchups Cribbs very clearly has the highest upside, as the Jags are allowing the 2nd-most points to opposing WRs. However, he doesn’t really count as a WR and he’s hurt, so I’m throwing him out.
Driver has the next best matchup. Minnesota is technically better than NYJ (Walter’s matchup) on the year but has allowed 36 or more to WRs in three of the last four games. If Driver’s healthy and you’re sure he’s playing, he’s your start.
Walter gets a Jets team that’s allowing more to opposing WRs on the year than MIN, but is working on three straight weeks of under 30 fps allowed to WRs. Roll with him only if Driver can’t suit up.
For your RBs I’d go Best. I have him ranked 17th, and I don’t rank Lynch or Addai in the top 30. If Addai even suits up for this one, he’s probably going to be limited, especially near the goal line were our Colts have been force-feeding “Baby J” of late. I’d wait until Addai shows us he’s healthy before trotting him out there fantasy-wise. As for Beast Mode, let’s wait until his o-line shows us they can block something other than themselves into their own QB’s backfield.
Ronnie Brown or Darren McFadden?
Pick one: Dwayne Bowe, Mike Williams from Tampa or Greg Jennings?Jason Witten or Zach Miller from Oakland?
Danny Woodhead or Jahvid Best?
Do I ever start Carolina Steve Smith again in a 2WR/1 flex PPR league?
Why can’t I ever get a good kicker?
Why can a guy have a D get him negative 10 and still beat me by 100?
I’ll just address these chronologically:
1. McFadden is obvious to me here. The Steelers’ run D has been the third-best in the league, but I have a strict no stud-benching policy. This applies to anyone who is, on the year, top 10 at his position. McFadden’s 9th in fps scored by a RB and he missed two games. I have him as the 15th-best RB option this week, and Brown as the 24th. Open and shut.
2. You have some very nice WRs to pick from this week. I have Greg Jennings as my #5 WR on the week, Bowe as my #7 and Williams as my #10, so you can’t really go wrong with any of them. I like Jennings so much because his matchup is way better than it looks. It’s indoors. It’s against a familiar opponent who he tends to destroy (13-152-2 over his last two games vs. MIN) and the Vikings are not as good as they appear. They’ve allowed 36+ fps to opposing WRs in three of the last four games, which is almost as much as the Houston Texans have in that span. Donald Driver’s absence, which may continue, has actually opened up things for Jennings, as he’s seen his targets increase over recent weeks when Driver’s been dealing with his injury. I like Jennings to get plenty of looks and have a big one on Sunday.
3. I think you have to roll with Miller if he’s healthy. Miller has been beastly this year when healthy, and the Steelers have been bad against TEs, especially last week when they gave up three TDs. The Lions, on the other hand, have been very good vs. TEs, allowing the 4th-fewest fppg to them (and a big, fat zero points allowed last week). Obviously if Miller isn’t 100% you have to consider benching him for Witten, but only then. Also one caution: The Steelers have been much better against TEs on odd weeks lately. So there is that to think about, but I’d still go Miller.
4. I have Jahvid Best ranked 17th and Danny Woodhead ranked 23rd. Best gets a pretty friendly matchup against a Dallas team that’s allowed over 76 fps to opposing rushers over the last two weeks. But Best is still hurt, so temper your expectations. Woodhead could hurt Indy with short receptions, but I don’t seem him, or BenJarvus Green-Ellis for that matter, really tearing anyone up this Sunday.
5. Smith is projecting out to career-low fantasy production, but he’s got some very nice matchups for the rest of the year. All of his remaining games are against teams that rank in the top-10 in most points allowed to opposing WRs. While he’s frustrating to own, and I can’t make a judgement about you starting him over the rest of your WRs without seeing them all, I wouldn’t give up on him just yet.
6. Kickers are pointless and their productivity is entirely related to luck. Next question.
7. Fantasy football is a helluva drug…
If I had to choose between starting Brandon Jackson (against MIN) or LeGarrette Blount (against SF) who should I play?
Overland Park/Schmoverland Park, KS
Well, KCCB, the 49ers are middling against the run this year (13th-fewest fps allowed to RBs according to The Tool), but that’s only because they got rocked last weekend vs. STL. The ‘Niners allowed less than 13 fps in three consecutive weeks leading up to their bye. Now, those games were against two pretty crappy rush offenses (and one great one minus it’s best RB), but then, TB hasn’t been spectacular on the ground either. I fully expect the 49ers to be tough against the ground at home this week vs. a team that has to travel literally across the country. For that reason, I didn’t rank Blount. I did rank Brandon Jackson, though barely. He just cracked the RB top-30. So it’s a close call. The Vikes have been up and down vs. the run all year, but Jackson scored on them last time they played and totaled 18 fps. I’d roll with him.
Matt Schaub @ NYJ or Mark Sanchez v HOU? I don’t know if this is really that hard apart from the fact that we thought Schaub was an established brand. He’s only had a couple of good fantasy games this year, and they came against soft defenses. Meanwhile, the Texans allow the most fpts per game to qbs (check the Matchup Tool) and Sanchez has been playing reasonably well. Is there any reason not to consider Schaub a matchup play from here out?
Brandon Marshall v CHI or Mike Williams TB @ SF or Steve Johnson @ CIN? I’m leaning Marshall (again, brand power), but he’s been disappointing lately. I’m hoping the change to Thigpen will help Marshall post garbage time numbers a la Dwayne Bowe 2008, but he’s spent most of this season double- and triple-covered and I don’t see why that would change now.
TEN defense vs WAS or ATL defense @ STL? Washington’s on a short week and coming off an embarrassing loss, plus they have to go on the road to face a TEN defense that’s averaging the second-most fppg in standard scoring formats. On the other hand, ATL’s defense has been decent and STL’s offense has given up more fps to defenses than WAS’s has.
Bamboo Forest, China
I fully agree with you on Sanchez vs. Schaub. In fact, Sanchez checks in as my #5 QB this week, and I didn’t even rank Schaub in the top 15. Not only is HOU allowing more fps to opposing QBs than anyone else is, the Jets have allowed under 15 in two of the last three. Their pass D is definitely rounding into form. As for Schaub, well, he’s struggled and with the Texans’ running game taking center stage of late, I doubt his opportunities to improve increase very much from here on out. On top of that he didn’t practice Wednesday and may be out with a Bursa sac. The Texans have literally not allowed a bad game from a QB all year, and Sanchez has proven quite decent against average-to-weak pass defenses. His lines vs. CLE (299-2-1), DET (336-1-1, 1 rushing TD) and NE (220-3-0) bode well for his output in this one.
As for Marshall vs. Williams vs. Johnson, well, I have them ranked thusly: Williams 10th, Marshall 19th and Johnson 26th. I noticed you ranked them in a similar fashion. I think you go with your list on this one. The 49ers have been middle of the pack against WRs, but softer than CIN or CHI. Everybody keeps saying Marshall is “due.” Eh, prove it. Thigpen doesn’t instill any confidence in me, by the way.
I like TEN. The ‘Skins are horrible, and getting worse. Donovan McNabb is out of shape and old. Their RB and o-line situation is a mess. The team seems to have started to give up on the coaching staff. WAS is averaging under 19ppg on the road, and the only team they’ve scored more than 17 on was DET. McNabb has a 4:5 TD:INT ratio in away games, and the ‘Skins o-line is giving up almost 3 sacks per game on the road. ATL is more opportunistic, but their secondary isn’t very good. I could see Sam Bradford exploiting them.
Well, that’s it. I hope everyone enjoyed it. Send in your start/sit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we’ll do this again some day soon.