Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at the best and worst matchups from around the NFL and how they might affect lineup decisions for your Fantasy Football team. We are not in the business of stating the obvious, so you won't be reading here why you need to start Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson or any other top-tier players.
In recent years Julius Jones has been the Fantasy running back no one wants but reluctantly takes. Even with the move from Dallas to Seattle, many Fantasy owners were skeptical he would turn his career around.
It seemed that way in training camp when Jones was demoted in favor of Maurice Morris. And after Week 1, Jones looked mediocre with just 13 carries for 45 yards at Buffalo in a reserve role behind Morris.
But something changed last week against the 49ers. Jones started with Morris (knee) hurt and looked like a dominant running back. He rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and had three catches for 14 yards.
It was Jones' first 100-yard game since Dec. 10, 2006 and his first touchdown in 10 games. And now Fantasy owners want to know if Jones can do it again.
Well, the answer is yes, which is why he is our Start of the Week for Week 3. It helps that he's facing the lowly Rams, which should inspire confidence in Jones.
Morris remains out, and even though T.J. Duckett might steal a touchdown or two, look for Jones to thrive with at least 20 carries. The Rams are allowing 154 rushing yards per game and three rushing touchdowns this year.
The Seahawks passing game remains in shambles despite the additions of Koren Robinson and Keary Colbert, so even though Seattle should be able to throw the ball against the Rams poor secondary, the team will lean on Jones. And that's a good thing for Fantasy owners.
He doesn't have to worry about Marion Barber this season and with Morris still sidelined, the job belongs to Jones. He won't be this successful all season, but for one more week he can quiet his critics and help Fantasy owners with another solid performance.
Sit of the Week
Darren McFadden is that new toy you get on your birthday and can't wait to go outside and play with, but it's a rainy day. You really want to use him, but you know now is not the time.
As much as you want to start McFadden this week at Buffalo after his breakout game at Kansas City, be patient. McFadden rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs, but he also hurt his toe and has been limited in practice while wearing a boot.
If he doesn't play, obviously keep him reserved in your Fantasy league. But even if he does suit up, the safe bet is to keep him on your bench. He is our Sit of the Week for Week 3.
The Bills run defense is solid, allowing just 91.5 rushing yards per game and one rushing touchdown this year. The addition of Marcus Stroud and the return to health of Paul Posluszny has improved Buffalo's defense, and the Bills will key on stopping McFadden.
Oakland should struggle in this game, and Buffalo is playing with a lot of confidence. Eventually, McFadden is going to be a Fantasy star, but this is not the week to count on him.
If he was 100 percent, you could put him in your active lineup and see what develops. But with the injury, he's not going to be as effective and you would hope.
|Matt Cassel should get his feet under him at home vs. Miami. (US Presswire)|
Jay Cutler (vs. NO): Cutler is the best quarterback in Fantasy Football and leads the NFL in yards (649) and is tied in touchdown passes (six). Now he gets another great matchup with the Saints, who have allowed 512 passing yards in two games. New Orleans has only given up two touchdowns, but that's going to change this week. If you're not starting Cutler in every league, something is wrong. Getting Brandon Marshall back from suspension has turned Cutler into a star.
Drew Brees (at DEN): Many Brees owners are worried after his first game without Marques Colston (thumb) last week when he passed for 216 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions at Washington. Well, calm down, because Brees will be just fine. And he has a great opportunity to rebound this week at the Broncos, who have allowed 533 passing yards and five touchdowns in two games. This game should be high-scoring, so don't be tempted to bench Brees.
Matt Hasselbeck (vs. STL): This is comeback week for Hasselbeck, and we're not talking about being reunited with Koren Robinson, who was added along with Keary Colbert to bolster the receiving corps. Hasselbeck has an opportunity to improve on his dismal start (379 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions). The Rams are last in pass defense with six touchdowns allowed, so trust in Hasselbeck in this matchup. He has six touchdowns and two interceptions in his last three against the Rams.
Philip Rivers (vs. NYJ): Rivers is off to the best start of his career and is tied with Jay Cutler for the NFL lead with six touchdown passes. He also has 594 passing yards and one interception. The Jets have only allowed two passing touchdowns, including none against the Patriots last week, but Rivers is playing well and might have to win this game with his arm if LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) is not at 100 percent. There's no reason to doubt Rivers making the right plays to help your Fantasy team.
Sleeper alert: J.T. O'Sullivan (vs. DET): You have to figure 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz is going to put on a show against the Lions, who fired him from the same job after last season. That bodes well for O'Sullivan and the 49ers passing game. Detroit's secondary is bad and was lit up by Aaron Rodgers last week for 328 yards and three touchdowns. O'Sullivan isn't as talented as Rodgers, but O'Sullivan had his first 300-yard game last week against Seattle and is ready to build on that performance.
Carson Palmer (at NYG): Just to give you an idea how bad Palmer is right now, in a standard-scoring league, he has as many Fantasy points as Brodie Croyle and Tom Brady, who were injured early in Week 1, and less points than Vince Young, Damon Huard and Tyler Thigpen. That's terrible. Palmer has no touchdowns and three interceptions and has completed just 50 percent of his passes. Now he gets the Giants on the road, which couldn't be a worse matchup for the Bengals and Palmer.
David Garrard (at IND): Garrard has as many interceptions (three) in two games as he did all of last year. His receiving corps is a mess, and his offensive line is banged up. The Colts will be without safety Bob Sanders (ankle), but his biggest impact is in run defense. Indianapolis has yet to allow a passing touchdown and will attack Garrard, who is not the same quarterback he was last year through two games. Even the possible return of Jerry Porter (hamstring) won't help Garrard in this matchup.
Marc Bulger (at SEA): Bulger and the Rams don't play well away from home, and he has struggled in his last two games at Seattle. Bulger has averaged 220 yards passing with no touchdowns and four interceptions in those outings. This year, Bulger has yet to pass for 200 yards, and his only touchdown to Torry Holt last week at the Giants should have been called back. The Seahawks lead the NFL with nine sacks, so you know Bulger will be running for his life.
Matt Schaub (at TEN): Facing the Titans brings back bad memories for Schaub. In two meetings last year, Schaub was hurt in both games and wasn't able to finish. Along with that, Schaub and his teammates have been dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Ike, which has altered their normal preparation. Tennessee also has done well in pass defense this year with only one touchdown allowed, four interceptions and eight sacks.
Jason Campbell (vs. ARI): The Cardinals secondary will surprise you this year. So far, Arizona is one of three teams (Baltimore and Indianapolis) yet to allow a passing touchdown. Last year, Campbell faced Arizona at home and only had 95 yards passing, no touchdowns and one interception. Campbell had a great game in Week 2 with 321 yards passing and a touchdown, but that was against the Saints, who don't exactly do a great job stopping the pass. This will be a tougher game for Campbell.
Bust alert: Derek Anderson (at BAL): Maybe this is the week Anderson gets going, but are you willing to take that chance against the Ravens? In two games against Baltimore last year, Anderson has two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and two interceptions while averaging 239 passing yards. Anderson would kill for those stats after his rough start this year. Anderson will get better, especially when Braylon Edwards (five drops) starts holding onto the ball, but it won't happen this week. And if Anderson continues to struggle, how long before we see Brady Quinn?
|Willis McGahee should finally be full-go this week. (US Presswire)|
Willis McGahee (vs. CLE): McGahee was a huge disappointment in Week 1 when he was expected to start against the Bengals and then didn't play. But with an additional week to rest following the postponement due to Hurricane Ike, his knee should be ready to go. And he likes facing Cleveland with 206 rushing yards and a touchdown and four catches for 56 yards in two meetings last year. The Browns have allowed 142 yards per game and three rushing touchdowns this year.
Reggie Bush (at DEN): Bush has totaled more than 90 yards in each game this season and already has 15 receptions. He might not do much running the ball, but he will be heavily involved in the passing game, especially with Marques Colston (thumb) still out. Look for Bush to touch the ball at least 20 times, and the Broncos will struggle to contain him. If he finds the end zone, that's an added bonus, but look for the Saints and Bush to score some points this week.
Michael Turner (vs. KC): The Chiefs haven't stopped anyone on the ground this season, allowing 213 rushing yards per game and three rushing touchdowns. We told you to start Turner in Week 1, and he ran for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, we said sit Turner, and he had 42 yards rushing and no scores. Well, let's see if we can go 3-for-3 with Turner in this matchup. He does have a sore ankle, but that shouldn't bother him as he runs for another big game.
Sammy Morris (vs. MIA): With Laurence Maroney (shoulder) and LaMont Jordan (foot) banged up, Morris could end up starting, and he would like to face his former team. Morris missed both games against the Dolphins last year because he was injured, but he could do some damage this week. Even if Maroney and Jordan play, you can count on Morris getting the goal-line carries. He has two touchdowns in two games and will also make plays catching the ball.
Sleeper alert: Tim Hightower (at WAS): This is a homecoming game for Hightower, who went to college at Richmond and is from Maryland. He might not get many carries this week, but he's a candidate for touchdowns since he's scored in each of his first two games. Hightower went from eight carries in Week 1 to 10 carries in Week 2, and if the Cardinals continue to increase his workload, his Fantasy value will rise. The Redskins have already allowed two rushing touchdowns this year, and Hightower plans to add to that total.
Ricky Williams (at NE): Run, Ricky, run has turned into ugh, Ricky, ugh. Williams went from looking fantastic in the preseason to terrible through two games. He has 21 carries for 52 yards and five catches for 16 yards, and now Ronnie Brown looks healthy. Look for Brown to get increased reps against the Patriots, but both running backs will likely struggle. New England is solid against the run with only 103 rushing yards per game allowed and no rushing touchdowns.
Ryan Grant (vs. DAL): The lingering hamstring injury has become a concern since Grant has been limited in practice and only had 15 carries for 20 yards last week against Detroit in a matchup he should have dominated. The Cowboys had trouble with Grant last year when he had 14 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, but he hasn't looked like himself this season. With Brandon Jackson expected to steal some carries, Grant might not get the chance to get going. He is still looking for his first rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys are only allowing 84.5 rushing yards per game.
DeAngelo Williams (at MIN): It appears Jonathan Stewart has passed Williams after Stewart ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago last week, while Williams had 11 carries for 31 yards. Still, both Carolina running backs should struggle this week against the Vikings, who are allowing just 82 rushing yards per game and one rushing touchdown by a running back, which was questionable since Joseph Addai didn't appear to cross the goal line last week. Williams may move back ahead of Stewart in the coming weeks, but keep him reserved against Minnesota.
Steve Slaton (at TEN): Ahman Green (ankle) is expected to miss the game, which would give Slaton his first NFL start. It's not expected to be pretty against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed just 60.5 rushing yards per game and one touchdown, and as long as Albert Haynesworth is lined up on the defensive line, the Titans run defense will remain stout. Slaton also has to worry about sharing carries with Chris Taylor and possibly Darius Walker.
Chris Perry (at NYG): Perry is getting the carries with 39 in two games. He's just not getting the yards with only 101, and his 2.6-yards per carry is brutal. Perry did find the end zone in Week 2 at Tennessee, but the Giants will again make things difficult for him. New York is allowing just 76 rushing yards per game and no touchdowns this season, and with Cincinnati's passing game struggling also, Perry will find little running room. Don't be surprised if Kenny Watson gets some more carries this week also.
Bust alert: Earnest Graham (at CHI): Graham has been exceptional this year with 25 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 39 yards. He is getting it done with limited reps thanks to a 46-yard run in Week 1 and a 68-yard run last week. But the Bears run defense is a little better than those teams, with Chicago giving up just 83.5 yards per game. The Bears did allow Jonathan Stewart to run for two touchdowns last week, but Chicago will focus on stopping Graham in this matchup.
Chris Chambers (vs. NYJ): We're going streaking. Well, at least Chambers is with a touchdown in his last four regular season games going back to last year. He has three touchdowns this year and has developed a solid rapport with Philip Rivers. The Jets haven't allowed a wide receiver to score a touchdown this year, but Chambers is familiar with the Jets secondary from his years in Miami. In his last meeting with the Jets last year, Chambers had six catches for 101 yards. While my colleague Dave Richard disagrees with starting Chambers, the Chargers might be throwing a lot in this game, which means more opportunities for Chambers to make plays.
Bryant Johnson (vs. DET): I liked what Johnson did last week at Seattle and his involvement in the offense. Johnson had six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown and should continue to play well against the Lions, who have allowed 480 passing yards and four touchdowns in two games. The Lions also have no interceptions on the year and only two sacks, so slowing down the 49ers passing game won't be easy. Again, this is Mike Martz's chance to beat his former team, and he will do so throwing the ball to prove a point.
Lee Evans (vs. OAK): Well look who's back. Last year, Evans was terrible and complained about the quarterback switch from J.P. Losman to Trent Edwards. But this year, he and Edwards have developed a rapport, which has Evans off to a solid start with eight catches for 179 yards. He should continue to build off that against the Raiders, who have allowed 435 passing yards and three touchdowns this year. This should be the week when Evans finds the end zone, and he's back to being a useful Fantasy option.
Anthony Gonzalez (vs. JAC): Gonzalez was impressive in Week 2 at Minnesota with nine catches for 137 yards. That type of production could continue this week if tight end Dallas Clark (knee) misses the game or is limited. Peyton Manning loves throwing to his slot receiver, and Gonzalez might be the second-best at the position behind Wes Welker. The Jaguars will focus on stopping Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, which could leave Gonzalez with plenty of chances to make plays.
Donald Driver (vs. DAL): Driver had seven catches for 66 yards last year against the Cowboys and is ready for the rematch. This year, Driver is off to a good start with 11 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, and he's already clicked with new quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was upset about missing Driver for a touchdown for the second week in a row in Week 2 at Detroit. Driver should also be motivated about facing his hometown team since he grew up in Texas.
Sleeper alert: Laveranues Coles (at SD) It appears Coles is over his bitterness with Brett Favre replacing his friend Chad Pennington after Coles caught three passes for 72 yards in Week 2 against New England. Coles and Jerricho Cotchery have to be giddy after watching what Brandon Marshall (18 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown) did against the Chargers last week. San Diego is among the worst pass defenses in the NFL with 587 passing yards allowed and five touchdowns.
Chad Johnson (at NYG): The one reason to like Johnson this week is he's playing in New York, so you know he'll want to put on a good show. But is he capable of that anymore? With his shoulder hurting and Carson Palmer's struggles, Johnson isn't a good Fantasy option right now and might not be any time soon. The Giants should keep Palmer on the run with their front seven, and New York's secondary should continue to keep Johnson in check.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh (at NYG): Like Johnson, Houshmandzadeh has struggled to get going with only six catches for 70 yards on the season. That was a half for Houshmandzadeh in most games last year. The Giants have seven sacks on the season and should be able to pressure Carson Palmer, leaving him with little time to look downfield. New York also has allowed only 129 passing yards per game. At some point, the Bengals passing game will come back to life, but I don't see it happening this week.
Torry Holt (at SEA): Here are some things I don't like. Holt hasn't scored a touchdown in his past three games against the Seahawks. He has one touchdown in his past 14 road games. And Seattle has nine sacks this year, so Marc Bulger might not have much time to look downfield, which will limit the chances for Holt to make plays. He scored a touchdown against the Giants last week, but it should have been called back, and right now Holt isn't trustworthy to start in this matchup.
Bernard Berrian (vs. CAR): I like the move from Tarvaris Jackson to Gus Frerotte, which will help Berrian. But right now, you can't trust him. He has a foot injury, which has limited him in practice, and he had no catches last week against the Colts. For the season, Berrian has only three catches for 38 yards, so he's been a bust so far for the Vikings and Fantasy owners. That will likely continue against the Panthers, so keep him reserved this week.
Roddy White (vs. KC): My friend Dave Richard is excited because White is facing two rookie cornerbacks this week for the Chiefs, but I disagree that White is a start. He still has a rookie quarterback himself in Matt Ryan, who played poorly last week at Tampa Bay. White may end up with a good game this week, but the safe bet is to let his rapport with Ryan develop first before counting on him. The Chiefs, with their young secondary, still managed to play well against the Patriots and Raiders the first two weeks.
Bust alert: Santana Moss (vs. ARI): Moss only had two catches for eight yards against the Cardinals last year. Arizona will focus on stopping Moss, who had a monster game last week against the Saints with seven catches for 164 yards and a touchdown and has two touchdowns on the season. But the Cardinals haven't allowed a passing touchdown yet, and you can bet they don't want to see Moss score. This will be a good matchup, but look for the Cardinals secondary to continue to play well.
John Carlson (vs. STL): Carlson remains the lone bright spot in the Seahawks passing game right now with 10 catches for 130 yards. Matt Hasselbeck has targeted Carlson 12 times in two games, and the only thing missing for the rookie is a touchdown at this point. Since the Rams lead the NFL with six passing touchdowns allowed, Carlson could get his first touchdown this week. St. Louis hasn't been able to cover anyone through the first two games, and the Rams won't stay with Carlson.
Tony Scheffler (vs. NO): This just in -- start all your Broncos this week. The Saints don't have a good secondary, and the Broncos passing game is in high gear through two games. Scheffler leads all tight ends in touchdowns (two), is second in yards (136) and among the league leaders in catches (seven). Jay Cutler has thrown at Scheffler 12 times, which proves the idea of Nate Jackson starting ahead of Scheffler was a motivational ploy by coach Mike Shanahan. Obviously, it worked.
Heath Miller (at PHI): The Eagles have struggled to defend tight ends this year. Through two games, Randy McMichael (five catches for 77 yards) and Jason Witten (seven catches for 110 yards) have hurt Philadelphia's pass defense. Miller's play has been mediocre to start the season with only five catches for 59 yards and no touchdowns, but he should rebound this week. And if Ben Roethlisberger does have shoulder problems, he will look underneath to Miller a lot with the Eagles constant blitzing.
Sleeper alert: Vernon Davis (vs. DET): Davis had as many catches last week at Seattle as you did sitting on your couch. He was only thrown at twice, but you can expect him to be more involved this week. The Lions secondary is bad, and the 49ers will have success throwing the ball. Davis may never live up to his talents playing in San Francisco, but this is a good week for him to make some plays. Knowing Davis, you can bet he was upset about finishing the game against Seattle without touching the ball.
Anthony Fasano (at NE): Fasano should get back to making plays for the Dolphins after finishing with no catches in Week 2 at Arizona. But the Patriots should be able to limit the Dolphins passing game, and this is not the week to trust any of Miami's players. The Patriots held the Jets tight ends to three catches for 15 yards and have enough talent at linebacker and safety to limit Fasano in this matchup. It should be another long day for Chad Pennington and Miami's passing attack.
Randy McMichael (at SEA): McMichael leads the Rams in receiving with seven catches for 101 yards, which is more a testament to how bad St. Louis has been than McMichael having a breakout year. In two games against Seattle last year, McMichael had five catches for 60 yards. The Seahawks went from allowing Robert Royal to catch six passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 to shutting out Vernon Davis last week. Seattle should limit McMichael, especially since the Rams struggle outdoors.
L.J. Smith (vs. PIT): The Steelers did a good job against Kellen Winslow last week in keeping him from making any big plays with seven catches for 55 yards and limited Owen Daniels to three catches for 33 yards in Week 1. Smith was held to one catch for 10 yards last week at Dallas and could be limited again since Pittsburgh has enough playmakers at linebacker and safety to stay with him. With the Steelers known to attack the quarterback, Smith could be asked to block more this week.
Bust alert: Owen Daniels (at TEN): Daniels was one of several members of the Texans who had his house damaged in Hurricane Ike, with the Houston Chronicle reporting he has holes in his ceiling and his carpet is ruined. The hurricane has displaced many Houston residents, and Daniels and his teammates could be distracted. Along with that, Daniels hasn't played well against the Titans recently with only seven catches for 87 yards in the last three meetings.
Buffalo (vs. OAK): Oakland's two best players are banged up with Justin Fargas (groin) and Darren McFadden (turf toe). They have no passing game to speak of at this point. The Bills defense has done well in two games against Seattle and Jacksonville. And traveling across the country is not usually conducive to good play, especially with a team like Oakland that's in turmoil right now with coach Lane Kiffin's status. The Bills DST should shine this week.
Green Bay (vs. DAL): Even if Charles Woodson was 100 percent this would be a tough matchup for the Packers, but Woodson is dealing with a broken toe. He'll play, but don't expect him or Al Harris to stop the Cowboys passing game. Dallas has too much offense for this defense, which has been good for Fantasy owners with three defensive touchdowns in two games. But that was against bad quarterbacks in Tarvaris Jackson and Jon Kitna. Tony Romo is a little better than those guys.
Matt Prater (vs. NO): Prater is only owned in 39 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, so if you are in need of a good kicker this week, add him and start him against the Saints, who don't play much defense. The Broncos offense is in high gear right now, and Prater is among the top kickers in the league. He has helped Denver get over the loss of veteran Jason Elam with three field goals and nine extra points. This game will be high scoring, and Prater should have a chance for several opportunities.
Shayne Graham (at NYG): I recently dropped Graham in one of my leagues following his lack of production because of how the Bengals offense has struggled. Graham has only attempted two field goals (one made) and two extra points this season. The offense isn't expected to improve this week at the Giants, and kicking in the Meadowlands is never easy. Graham may turn things around this season once the offense starts to click, but you can't trust any of the Bengals these days.
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