It’s crunch time in the world of fantasy football and fantasy owners are facing tough decisions. Fans are getting nervous because it’s time to bench star players because they haven’t been contributing so far this season. One guy asked me on Twitter yesterday whether he should bench Calvin Johnson for Randall Cobb. Cobb has been balling out with Greg Jennings injured, but the fact that he’s even considering benching Johnson is something to consider.
Johnson’s woes last week shouldn’t be overblown considering he’s grabbed over 100 yards in three of his six games this year. As I try to tell people when asked about these types of things, you didn’t draft Megatron in the first round to bench him. It’s not like he’s been as disappointing as another Johnson (Andre) has been. Owners tend to overact week-to-week on performance. Stay the course and have faith in your guys unless there’s true reason not to. (For the record: I told him to start Johnson, but I believe Cobb will have another good game this week. There’s probably another WR or flex player worth benching in this guy’s case.)
As always, here are some guys I’m highlighting for fantasy lineup decisions this week. If you’re curious about guys you don’t see listed here, you can always find me on Twitter (@MrT_BroBible) to ask questions, but remember to mention league specifics like PPR.
You Know Who You Should Start?
Philip Rivers (QB - San Diego)
The Browns are the medicine to ail Rivers' fantasy woes. They've allowed at least 15 points to fantasy quarterbacks in every game this year. Those six games include four in which the opposing QB threw for three touchdowns. The bye week helped San Diego heal their offensive line injuries, which will further improve Rivers' chances for fantasy success this week.
Vick Ballard (RB - Indianapolis)
Ballard has proven he's not the right answer for Indianapolis' running game going forward, but he was able to manage a decent four yards a carry last week. He should get another 20 carries this weekend as the Colts' look to ease Andrew Luck's road struggles with a strong running effort. The Titans are also fifth-worst against fantasy running backs.
Rashad Jennings (RB - Jacksonville)
The Packers are likely to build a large lead early in Sunday's game against Jacksonville, but that won't take Jennings out of the equation. Jennings was featured in the passing game last week with five catches and should see that kind of workload again as Jacksonville fights back from their early deficit. He'll also get his share of carries when the Jaguars do run the ball.
Jeremy Kerley (WR - N.Y. Jets)
I'm incredibly pro-Kerley after what I've seen the last three weeks. Kerley should continue to produce this week against Miami, who certainly aren't a defensive force Mark Sanchez will be worried about. Kerley should continue to be the team's #1 receiving option on the outside as he builds on his five catch, 79 receiving yard average over the last three contests.
Brandon Stokley (WR - Denver)
If you're looking for a desperation play at receiver, look no further than Stokley. Sunday's game between Denver and New Orleans is going to be a shootout and there will be plenty of passing yards to go around on both sides. We know Manning loves Stokley. He caught all four targets that came his way in Week 6 and has touchdowns in back to back games.
Heath Miller (TE - Pittsburgh)
Washington's pass rush won't force Pittsburgh to bring Miller in to block like he had to at times against Cincinnati last week. The Redskins have proven they can't defend tight ends, allowing the second most points against that fantasy position so far this year. Heath's worst game in the last four was a 4 catch, 40-yard effort, which isn't bad considering the production from TEs this year. Expect bigger things on Sunday.
You Know Who You Should Sit?
Matthew Stafford (QB - Detroit)
As I detailed on Thursday, Matt Stafford just isn't right. Seattle's defense, third best against fantasy quarterbacks, won't be of any help to his cause. I'm willing to say I'd rather start Christian Ponder, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, Matt Hasselbeck, and possibly even Sam Bradford over Stafford this week.
Steven Jackson (RB - St. Louis)
Times have changed in St. Louis. Jackson is no longer the workhouse as the team tries to keep him healthy enough to have value in the trade market. He's had 12 carries or less in three of the last five weeks and has only scored one touchdown this season. The Patriots are also surprisingly successful against fantasy RBs, possibly because they give up so much in the passing game, having allowed the sixth fewest points to that position so far this year.
Jonathan Stewart (RB - Carolina)
It's possible that Carolina is ready to turn the reins over to Stewart as their full-time back, but this is not the week for him to shine. For starters, the Bears are the best of any team against fantasy RBs. Secondly, the Carolina offense has shown it's not interested in running the ball. They constantly set up in the shotgun, limiting the ability for their RBs to succeed with power football. Deception doesn't work in the NFL and Carolina is learning the hard way.
Brian Hartline (WR - Miami)
I'm hanging out on Cromartie Island until he proves me wrong. Last week Brandon Lloyd was neutralized by the cornerback with too many children to remember all their names. Hartline struggled against the Jets in their first match-up and that will happen again this week. He's more prone to patterns down the field, which will be defended by Cromartie, as opposed to Devon Bess, who runs the shorter routes.
Brandon Lloyd (WR - New England)
I'm making a bold call with Lloyd this week. He continues to see plenty of targets, but hasn't been able to find success with Tom Brady. Maybe his breakout game is coming at some point, but I doubt it will be this week against the ever abrasive Cortland Finnegan. Brady has enough options to avoid that match-up. The London rain might also hurt his footing on the damp turf.
Jared Cook (TE - Tennessee)
I've been waiting for Cook to break out, but I'm ready to give up. He hasn't been the safety blanket I expected him to be for the noodle-armed Hasselbeck. The coaching staff continues to harp on how they need to get Cook involved and yet they fail to do so. I need to see it to believe it at this point. It won't be against the Colts, who are the best at limiting fantasy TEs this year.