The good news: Every player on the six NFL teams that had byes last week is back in action. The bad news: Six more teams are off this week.
We’re in the midst of the dreaded “bye week gauntlet,” which means your fantasy football team likely is dealing with a similarly depleted lineup entering Week 10. With fantasy playoffs looming on the horizon, though, now isn’t the time to concede defeat.
Plenty of viable options remain, including eight of the top 10 scorers from Week 9. There also was plenty of firepower on the fantasy bench in Week 9, including wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who looks like he’ll finally return to action after missing the Detroit Lions’ last three games with an ankle injury.
The next month or so is do-or-die time in the fantasy world, so there’s no better time than now to take advantage of those matchups and squeeze every last point out of your roster. Here’s how you should do that this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers: No quarterback in the league is hotter than Big Ben right now, and he draws a dream matchup Sunday against the New York Jets, who have allowed a whopping 24 passing touchdowns in nine games. There aren’t many QBs we’d start over Roethlisberger this week.
Mark Sanchez, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles: If you aren’t lucky enough to have Roethlisberger, Sanchez certainly isn’t a bad second option. The waiver-wire add of the week will have full reign of the Eagles’ offense against a Carolina Panthers defense that has been mediocre against the pass this season. He’s the perfect plug-and-play if you need him.
Bobby Rainey, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What the Jets are to opposing quarterbacks, the Atlanta Falcons are to opposing running backs. They’ve allowed 13 rushing touchdowns in eight games this season, and Rainey officially has replaced Doug Martin as the Bucs’ featured back. He’s a must-start.
Steven Jackson, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons: This should be a good game for running backs in general, as Tampa Bay’s run defense has been pretty awful, too. Jackson’s ceiling isn’t too high, but he put up 54 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs earlier this season. A similar performance Sunday certainly is likely.
Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers: Don’t be discouraged by Benjamin’s dud last week. Sure, the Panthers’ offense is struggling, but Cam Newton still loves throwing to his rookie, and the Eagles have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers in standard-scoring leagues this season. All signs point to a bounce-back game.
Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler
doesn’t like absolutely hates Lambeau Field. In three career games at Green Bay, he has thrown for just two touchdowns with 10 interceptions while completing less than 50 percent of his passes. That’s just awful, and it won’t change Sunday night in prime time against a fired-up Packers squad.
Tre Mason, Running Back, St. Louis Rams: Think Mason had a bad matchup last week? It’s even worse this week, as the Rams face one of the NFL’s best run defenses in the Arizona Cardinals. His 19 carries last Sunday were encouraging, but until he draws a better matchup, the Rams’ offense isn’t good enough to warrant giving Mason a start.
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins: Wallace is Ryan Tannehill’s top receiving option, and the Dolphins are hot, but they get a Lions defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. If you have a receiver with high upside on your bench, it’s worth giving Wallace the week off.
Doug Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks: We know, the New York Giants’ secondary is banged up. Their run defense isn’t great either, though, and that likely will be the method of choice for Seattle’s ball-control offense. The volume just isn’t there to trust Baldwin as a starter.
Vernon Davis, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers: It’s time to stop starting Davis based on past reputation. The two-time Pro Bowl pick has been a virtual fantasy non-factor this season, and the Niners play a New Orleans Saints team that has allowed just over 34 yards per game to opposing tight ends this season. Pull the plug on Vernon and find a replacement on the waiver wire.
Have a fantasy/NFL question for Darren? Send it to him via Twitter at @darren_hartwell
Photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images
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