Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (THUR., 8:20 ET)
START: QB Philip Rivers, RB Michael Bush
SIT: SD Defense, RB Darren McFadden, WR Malcom Floyd
We never thought that we would have to convince owners that starting Philip Rivers is the right thing to do. With 754 passing yards in his last two games, total yards hasn't been the problem. But in those last two games, the Chargers quarterback has also thrown 5 interceptions. Maybe a middle-of-the-pack passing D like the Raiders is exactly what the doctor ordered for Mr. Rivers.
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons (1:00 ET)
START: QB Matt Ryan, RB Darren Sproles
SIT: WR Marques Colston
When Matt Ryan was a kid, he must've hated recess. We say that because Matty sure loves his indoor games. Zing! But just the facts: Ryan has a high success rate when he plays in a dome, especially when that dome is the Georgia Dome. Three weeks ago, Marques Colston single-handedly defeated his fantasy owner's opponent. The last two games, Colston has amassed a grand total of five points in each game. The New Orleans wide receiver is very feast or famine. This is looking like a famine type of game to us.
Tennessee Titans @ Carolina Panthers (1:00 ET)
START: RB Chris Johnson
SIT: RB DeAngelo Williams
Honestly, who has been more of a disappointment this season: DeAngelo Williams or Chris Johnson? For a while now we have been off the DeAngelo train and now we are right next to the door getting ready to leave the CJ train as well. Johnson didn't get a ton of touches last week, but made the most of them by producing 4.6 yards per carry. He also added 46 yards on four receptions. The Panthers are giving up 133.3 yards rushing to opponents, and maybe the threat of Javon Ringer taking over has him back on track. If not, this is our final week in support of the Titans running back.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (1:00 ET)
START: PIT Defense, CIN Defense
SIT: QB Ben Roethlisberger
We must be on something to actually advise you to sit the red-hot Ben Roethlisberger, right? Wrong. In a huge match-up between division rivals, the Bengals will look to establish themselves as a force in the AFC North in front of their home crowd. And if you haven't noticed, Cincinnati's defense has not been too shabby this season. And yes, we used the word shabby in a sentence. Cincy's group ranks 10th in the NFL in least passing yards given up per game and 2nd in fewest rushing yards for the opposing back. So Big Ben should not have an easy go this Sunday.
St. Louis Rams @ Cleveland Browns (1:00 ET)
START: RB Chris Ogbonnaya
SIT: QB Sam Bradford, WR Danario Alexander, RB Peyton Hillis, WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Alright, on to the next game. We kid...kinda. The St. Louis Rams give up the most rushing yards per game to the opposing back. Even though the Browns RB will be the unheard-of Chris Ogbonnaya, the Rams' D has made other guys look like future Hall of Famers (see: DeMarco Murray). Interesting enough, the Browns give up the fewest passing yards each game (why pass when you can just run it down their throats?). There's a good bar bet for you! Cleveland's defense will try and clamp down on Brandon Lloyd, which might lead to a myriad of problems for Sam Bradford when he looks for other options on the field.
Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys (1:00 ET)
START: WR Laurent Robinson
SIT: Any Bills players, WR Miles Austin
Remember the days when the Bills were the most potent offense in the NFL? Even though Buffalo ranks 4th in points per game (27.8), the Jets might have given other teams the blueprint on how to stop the Bills passing attack. But they should've just hit us up and we would've told them, you gotta stop Fred Jackson! This might be the exact gameplan for the Cowboys, and that is why starting Jackson is not the best choice.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (1:00 ET)
START: RB Maurice Jones-Drew
SIT: Everyone else
This should be easy. Start Peyton Manning and...oh, he's still not back yet? In that case, everyone besides Maurice Jones-Drew is a must SIT. The surging Jason Hill? Yes. The great Reggie Wayne? Absolutely. How about Pierre Garcon? Okay, you got us there. Maybe you take your chances. But seriously, there are not many great names to choose from in this Colts/Jags game.
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (1:00 ET)
START: QB Tim Tebow
SIT: RB Jackie Battle
Remember when we were talking about getting ready to leave the Chris Johnson train? Well, we have a seat firmly planted on the Tim Tebow train. Actually, hold on a second while we pull out our pillow. Last week against the Raiders, Timmy had over 100 yards passing and rushing, which should reassure owners that even on the most mediocre throwing game, Tebow can still net some good fantasy numbers. Speaking of last week's action, did you see how the Chiefs defense made Matt Moore look like a great NFL quarterback? No matter where you stand on the Touchdown Timmy debate, we can all agree that if the Dolphins QB can look good, then anyone has a chance for a solid game.
Washington Redskins @ Miami Dolphins (1:00 ET)
START: RB Roy Helu
SIT: RB Reggie Bush
The key to John Beck's success seems to be the short dump pass that will net him positive yardage. That's the only way to explain how Roy Helu got 105 receiving yards on 14 receptions! If that Beck method is going to keep on working, then we can't help but suggest that Helu get into your starting lineup in this match-up against the Dolphins. As for Reggie Bush, we know he's been doing well recently, but we would still trade him for Pizza Hut pizza.
START: TE Brent Celek
SIT: QB Kevin Kolb, QB John Skelton, TE Todd Heap
Kolb has made it clear that he wants to do anything in his power to play against his former team, but that blasted turf toe just doesn’t want to listen. Skelton might have led the Cardinals to their first win in the past seven games last week, but don’t think for a second he’s a guy you want starting. Heap did play last week, working through his hamstring injury, but he failed to grab a reception. He’s not a good option in any circumstance this week. Celek has his second straight game with seven catches (we toooold you to pick him up), so it looks like Vick sees him as his favorite safety valve.
Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccanneers (1:00 ET)
START: WR Mike Williams, RB Ben Tate
SIT: TE Kellen Winslow
The Bucs have been one of the most frustrating fantasy teams this year. Mike Williams has been a shadow of the beast he was last year, yet it’s still hard not to start him when we still know he’s the best receiver on the team. He’s put up six receptions in each of the past three games, but hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 1 and hasn’t posted more than 75 yards yet. Still, the receptions are a good sign. Winslow, who missed a practice this week for personal reasons, has steadily taken about four or five catches every game, yet he’s still only getting about 25 yards. He has scored each of the past two weeks, but there are probably better tight ends (like Ballard) that you could use.
The Texans have done pretty well without their star receiver, and after seeing him held out of practice on Thursday, it might be another week before they get him back. He hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday, so check back with us for an update. Believe it or not, Tate, the Texans’ backup rusher, has continued to be successful running behind Arian Foster. The Bucs are terrible against the run, and he’s had two 100-yard games in the past three. He’s a solid flex.
Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks (4:05 ET)
START: WR Torrey Smith
SIT: RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Lee Evans, WR Doug Baldwin
Evans finally might be coming back for the Ravens this weekend after practicing for two straight days this week, but the new kid on the team might take away any value Evans would have had. Smith, who had a monstrous three-touchdown game earlier this year was the man of the hour against the Steelers when Joe Flacco targeted him twice (one caught, one dropped), when the outcome of the game was on the line. The fact that Flacco chose Smith in those situations speaks volumes for the amount of trust he has in this kid.
Baldwin has seen a drop in production lately, possibly because of the quarterback chaos on the Seahawks, and Tarvaris Jackson threw three interceptions against a defense that wasn’t the Ravens. That doesn’t bode well for this week. Finally, we’re going to say that Marshawn Lynch has to be on your bench this week. He has two straight games with touchdowns and ran for 134 yards last week, but again, he’s facing Baltimore now. The Ravens have allowed three rushing touchdowns in eight games this season and only low 86.8 yards to opposing rushing attacks.
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears (4:15 ET)
START: RB Maurice Morris, K Jason Hanson, QB Jay Cutler, TE Brandon Pettigrew
SIT: WR Devin Hester, RB Jahvid Best
Coming off its best performance of the year, the Bears offensive line faces a Lions squad that sacked Cutler three times and helped hold the Bears to 13 points earlier this year. The line has been playing much better, but we’ve seen how Detroit’s defenders get at quarterbacks.
If you watched the Bears game last week, you saw a pretty bad sight when Hester wobbled off the field in pain. He hasn’t participated in practice this week, and while you should check back, it seems like he’s not going to be ready by Sunday. Lucky for Chicago, Earl Bennett, Cutler’s favorite receiver and former teammate, returned last week and lit it up for 95 yards and a TD. He might not have his orange cleats again after the NFL fined him, but we think he’ll still be able to perform.
Best, who absolutely demolished the Bears last meeting for 165 yards, will be out again leaving Maurice Morris to take the lead. Morris has 108 yards and a TD over 22 carries in the past two games, so he’s a decent flex. Hanson was back Thursday kicking in full, so make sure he’s back in your lineup as well as Pettigrew who is returning from an elbow injury.
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers (4:15 ET)
START: RB Brandon Jacobs, TE Jake Ballard
SIT: WR Hakeem Nicks, RB Ahmad Bradshaw
So far this week, Nicks has been able to do some running and make cuts on his leg, but has not practices in full. Nicks hasn’t had any setbacks yet, so it seems like he’ll be able to play, but with Mario Manningham and and Victor Cruz playing well lately, it doesn’t really make sense to force him into too many looks. If you Bradshaw’s foot is still healing, and Jacobs’ 72 yards with a TD show that he is more than worthy of a start. Ballard has also been a major part in Eli’s offense lately, so make sure he’s up.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh stated this week that Alex Smith is playing like an elite quarterback. We've finally accepted that he was worth an add in fantasy, but calling him elite is pretty extreme. As far as fantasy numbers against a healthy Justin Tuck-led Giants defense, we don’t see anything extravagant for Smith this week.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets (8:20 ET)
START: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
SIT: TE Dustin Keller
Burress had his highest yardage total and most catches this season against the Bills, but he’s been out of practice all week. He’s dealing with lower back issues, so you should check back before Sunday’s games for an update about whether or not he suits up on Friday. Keller has been a bit of a drag lately. He left last week’s game (but returned) with a head injury, and he has gone six games without finding the end zone. The last time he faced the Patriots, he had one catch for seven yards, so it's a good idea to have him sit this one out.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been limited in practice again this week due to his lingering toe issues, but that’s been going on all season, so it shouldn’t scare you. Stat of the day: Tom Brady has three more interceptions than Mark Sanchez this year with 10. However, he also has about 1,000 more yards and seven more touchdowns.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (MON, 8:30 ET)
START: QB Christian Ponder
SIT: Green Bay Defense
Mr. Woodson, we love you, we really do. Everybody already knows that you guys are thinking about an undefeated season, but there’s no reason to tell everybody that. It just brings a million more questions. Questions that your defense doesn’t really have answers for.
The Packers will lose at some point this season, there’s no doubt in our heads. We just aren't sure when. In Week 7, the Vikings lost to the Pack by six points in Ponder’s first appearance. The men in green gave up 175 yards to Adrian Peterson, somebody they have never figured out an answer for. Knowing how well Rodgers does in big games, we don’t think he’ll go down on Monday Night Football, but this should be another close one as Ponder should once again connect for some long plays.