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.
Before the season started, Jonathan Stewart was my pick to finish as the No. 1 rookie running back. I liked his potential in Carolina's offense and his ability to score touchdowns.
So far, the touchdowns are there, and the yards are about to come. It should happen in Week 4 against Atlanta, which is why Stewart is the Start of the Week.
Stewart has been limited by teammate DeAngelo Williams, who has started the first three games. But Stewart has been more productive than Williams with one more rushing yards (145-144) on eight fewer carries, and Stewart is averaging a full yard better per rush (4.7 to 3.7). He also has three touchdowns, and Williams has none.
Coach John Fox said they will continue to split carries, but you will see Stewart's production start to increase. And he has a great matchup against the Falcons.
Atlanta is allowing 139.3 rushing yards per game and four touchdowns. Kevin Smith, Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn and Larry Johnson have all scored touchdowns against the Falcons, so Stewart should at least find the end zone if nothing else.
When looking at the rookie running backs, Stewart is currently No. 3 in Fantasy production behind Matt Forte and Chris Johnson, with Darren McFadden not far behind. Stewart already has scored the most touchdowns of the rookie rushers, and that gives him an advantage that should continue to grow.
Forte and McFadden will be challengers all season long, and Johnson's yardage will keep him in the running, however, he loses touchdowns to LenDale White. But once Stewart starts to pass Williams in carries, which should happen against Atlanta, his value will rise.
And by the end of the year, Stewart will be the No. 1 rookie running back.
Sit of the Week
Willis McGahee is going to play Monday night at Pittsburgh despite his eye injury, but he's not worth starting this week. This is a bad matchup for the entire Ravens offense.
The Steelers are No. 2 in run defense at 64.3 rushing yards per game and one touchdown allowed. Last year, McGahee had 12 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown, three catches for 12 yards and lost a fumble in his lone meeting with the Steelers.
This year, McGahee only played in one game because of his knee injury from training camp. He had 15 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against Cleveland before getting cut in the eye.
This is also rookie quarterback Joe Flacco's first road game, and running backs typically struggle when a rookie passer starts on the road in a hostile environment. In Matt Ryan's first road game this year in Week 2 at Tampa Bay, Michael Turner was limited to 42 rushing yards.
McGahee has a tough two-game stretch with Pittsburgh and Tennessee the next two games. But after that, McGahee should thrive with games against Indianapolis, Miami, Oakland, Cleveland and Houston.
He will have better days ahead, but this is a bad week to count on McGahee.
Kurt Warner (at NYJ): Warner had to enjoy watching Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing game carve up the Jets secondary in Week 3 with 250 yards passing and three touchdowns. Warner has the best receiving tandem in the NFL, with Anquan Boldin the No. 1 Fantasy receiver right now. Look for Warner to have another good outing against the Jets, who have allowed five passing touchdowns this year. The Jets will struggle to cover Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald this week.
|Derek Anderson knows he likely has one more shot to keep his gig. (AP)|
Derek Anderson (at CIN): Anderson introduced himself to Fantasy owners last year in Week 2 against the Bengals when he passed for 328 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He needs to remind Fantasy owners that he's still the same quarterback this week. For the season, Anderson has only 405 passing yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions. He's in danger of losing his job to Brady Quinn, but Anderson should bounce back this week and is worth putting back in your starting lineup.
Carson Palmer (vs. CLE): The real Palmer finally showed up in Week 3 at the Giants with 286 passing yards and a touchdown and his first game without an interception. Prior to that, Johnny Carson or Carson Daly might have made for a better Fantasy option. Now you can trust Palmer again, especially in a matchup he's dominated. Palmer has passed for 1,236 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his past five games against the Browns and should be considered a No. 1 Fantasy option this week.
Philip Rivers (at OAK): Rivers hasn't had much success against the Raiders with only three touchdowns and two interceptions in his past five meetings. But this is a new Rivers, who is the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this year with 844 passing yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. At some point LaDainian Tomlinson is going to take over the offense, and the defense will step up and not force Rivers to throw as much. But until Rivers cools off, you have to start him in every league.
Sleeper alert: Trent Edwards (at STL): Edwards hasn't put up overwhelming stats this year with 733 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but he's averaging 244 yards and a touchdown each game. His passing yards have also increased each week, and he could have a career outing against the Rams. St. Louis has shown no pass defense this year with 272.3 passing yards allowed, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. The Rams also have no pass rush with only three sacks. Edwards is only owned in 79 percent of leagues, so if you need a bye-week replacement, add him this week.
Brian Griese (vs. GB): The Packers secondary is banged up with Al Harris (spleen) out and Charles Woodson (toe) questionable. But Griese had 67 attempts in Week 3 at Chicago, so his arm strength could be a concern this week. He's also not going to throw that many passes, and he could again be without receiver Joey Galloway (foot), which could limit his production. The Packers are allowing 222 passing yards per game with four touchdowns and five interceptions but should be able to contain Griese.
David Garrard (vs. HOU): Garrard played well in his lone game against the Texans last year with 221 passing yards and two touchdowns, but he's not the same player right now. Garrard has struggled this year because of his suspect receiving corps and has one touchdown and four interceptions, which is one more than he threw all of last year. The Texans have only allowed three passing touchdowns in two games, but that's because teams have run all over them. That should continue this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. BAL): The good news is Big Ben will play against the Ravens this week with his sore shoulder and injured hand, which forced him out of Week 3 against Philadelphia. The bad news is Big Ben will play with his sore shoulder and hurt hand, so he won't be 100 percent. In two games, Baltimore has only allowed 180 passing yards and one touchdown with four interceptions and seven sacks. The Ravens are going to come after Roethlisberger, who was sacked eight times last week.
Matt Schaub (at JAC): Schaub is in danger of being replaced by Sage Rosenfels because of his poor start. He has 390 passing yards and two total touchdowns, but he also has five interceptions and three fumbles in two games. This week might not be much better. In his lone appearance against the Jaguars last year, Schaub had 259 passing yards, no touchdowns, an interception and a fumble. The Jaguars also are coming off a good game against the Colts, where they held Peyton Manning to 216 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Matt Ryan (at CAR): In Ryan's first road game in Week 2 at Tampa Bay he had 158 passing yards, two interceptions and a fumble. This will be his second road game, and the road isn't kind to rookie quarterbacks. The Panthers are No. 13 in pass defense with four touchdowns and one interception, but this is a good week for the secondary to thrive. Ryan should do better than he did against the Bucs, but don't plan on starting Ryan on the road anytime soon.
Bust alert: Drew Brees (vs. SF): You probably can't afford to sit Brees this week, but he just lost another receiving threat with Jeremy Shockey (hernia) out along with Marques Colston (thumb). While David Patten, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem are nice players, Brees and the Saints will be better off running the ball against the 49ers and relying on Reggie Bush. San Francisco has done well against Arizona, Seattle and Detroit in pass defense, coming in at No. 7 with only two touchdowns allowed and four interceptions. The 49ers run defense is not as good, so the Saints will try to move the ball on the ground with Bush and Pierre Thomas.
Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. HOU): After a sluggish 0-2 start, the Jaguars remembered what they do well, which is run the ball. Jones-Drew went from 12 carries his first two games to 19 carries in Week 3 at Indianapolis and had 107 yards and a touchdown. He also added four catches for 59 yards. Now he has another favorable matchup, with the Texans getting run over by Pittsburgh and Tennessee the first two games. In his past three games against the Texans, Jones-Drew has 146 rushing yards and four touchdowns and 15 catches for 173 yards.
Chris Perry (vs. CLE): Perry is averaging just 3.0 yards-per-carry, but he scored a touchdown each of his past two games and finished with 93 total yards at the Giants last week. The Browns are tied for last in the NFL with six rushing touchdowns allowed and are giving up 145 rushing yards per game. Perry is averaging 20 carries a game for the season, so he's going to get plenty of opportunities to make plays against a defense that can't stop the run.
Pierre Thomas (vs. SF): Reggie Bush is obviously the star for the Saints, but Thomas continues to take away goal-line carries. He has three touchdowns in his past two games against Washington and Denver and should be in line for another touchdown this week. Thomas has replaced Deuce McAllister at this point, and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season. The 49ers have allowed three rushing touchdowns, and with the Saints lack of weapons at receiver and tight end, they will depend on their ground game, meaning more opportunities for Thomas.
Earnest Graham (vs. GB): The Packers have faced some of the elite running backs so far this year in Adrian Peterson (103 rushing yards and a touchdown) and Marion Barber (142 rushing yards and a touchdown), and now Graham gets his turn. Look for Tampa Bay to lean on Graham, who has rushed 37 times for 223 yards and a touchdown this year. After Brian Griese passed 67 times in Week 3 at Chicago, the Bucs want to have a balanced attack on offense and run the ball with more efficiency.
Jamal Lewis (at CIN): If you've paid attention to the site at all during the preseason, you know I'm not a fan of Lewis. But this is a good week to trust him since he's run well against the Bengals with 48 carries for 308 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 42 yards in two games last year. Lewis, as expected, has struggled so far with 156 rushing yards and no touchdowns, but Cincinnati is allowing 174 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns this season.
Sleeper alert: Michael Pittman (at KC): The Chiefs are allowing 204 rushing yards per game and six rushing touchdowns this year. That should mean a good day for Selvin Young, Andre Hall and Pittman, who is the goal-line back. Pittman has just 19 carries this season, but he has scored four touchdowns already, with at least one in each game. And if the game gets out of reach in Denver's favor, Pittman could get extra carries. With the way this season is going for the Broncos offense and the Chiefs defense, you can almost guarantee Pittman will score again this week.
Chris Johnson (vs. MIN): Johnson has been fantastic through his first three NFL games with 276 rushing yards and seven catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. But there are a couple of reasons to sit him this week. Minnesota is No. 4 in run defense with only 70.3 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns allowed. Along with that, Johnson continues to lose touchdowns to LenDale White, who has four on the season. Johnson could make some plays in the passing game, but he won't do much running the ball. And if he does, White will come on and take his touchdowns.
Ryan Grant (at TB): Grant might be getting over the hamstring problem that has plagued him thus far this season, which is a good sign. But he hasn't been productive so far with 30 carries for 166 yards and no touchdowns. In his past two games, Grant has just 64 rushing yards against Detroit and Dallas. Tampa Bay is allowing 121.3 rushing yards per game but no touchdowns so far this season. The Bucs should be able to contain Grant, especially if he's still not 100 percent because of the hamstring.
Rashard Mendenhall (vs. BAL): Mendenhall is making his first NFL start on Monday night against the Ravens because Willie Parker (knee) is out. The Ravens know Mendenhall had fumble problems in the preseason since he lost three in two exhibition games, so they hope that trend continues. Baltimore is also No. 3 in run defense with only 70 rushing yards allowed and no touchdowns in two games. It could be a rough game for Mendenhall, especially since he hasn't gotten much action with only 10 carries for 28 yards so far this season.
Michael Turner (at CAR): Turner at home: 45 carries, 324 yards and five touchdowns. Turner on the road: 14 carries, 42 yards. Now, that was just one road game at Tampa Bay in Week 2, but it's doubtful Turner will have the same success he's had at home on the road for most of the season, including this week. The Panthers are allowing just 113 rushing yards per game and one rushing touchdown. They will key on stopping Turner and force rookie quarterback Matt Ryan to beat them.
Thomas Jones (vs. ARI): The Cardinals are No. 14 in run defense with 105.3 rushing yards allowed and three touchdowns. They are susceptible to a good ground game, but they should be able to contain Jones, who struggled the past two games against New England and San Diego. Jones has rushed 27 times for 107 yards in those outings and has stumbled in the red zone. If the Cardinals go up early on the Jets, Leon Washington will be in the game more than Jones, which will cut into his production.
Bust alert: Matt Forte (vs. PHI): Forte has been the No. 1 rookie running back through three games and is the No. 6 overall running back with 304 rushing yards and a touchdown and 13 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. But this is the toughest defense Forte has faced so far. The Eagles are No. 1 in run defense at an amazing 45.7 yards per game and one rushing touchdown. Philadelphia has limited Steven Jackson (14 carries for 40 yards), Marion Barber (18 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown) and Willie Parker (13 carries for 20 yards), so the Eagles should be able to contain Forte as well.
Braylon Edwards (at CIN): Normally, Edwards would be too obvious for this list. But normally, Edwards wouldn't have started the year with only eight catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns and be plagued with drops. Well, this is the week for Edwards to get healthy. Last year, Edwards had 16 catches for 198 yards and four touchdowns against the Bengals. Cincinnati's pass defense has improved this year, but you can count on Edwards to have a breakout game this week.
Chad Johnson (vs. CLE): Lots of players should improve in this game, including everyone's favorite receiver. Johnson has been terrible this season with only eight catches for 88 yards, but he should bounce back against the Browns. Johnson has 30 catches for 476 yards and three touchdowns in his past five games against Cleveland. He has only scored in two of those games, but he does have three games with at least six catches and 78 yards receiving. This is a good week to consider Johnson a No. 2 Fantasy option.
Lee Evans (at STL): It's hard to find a receiver with a better matchup this week than Evans, who has at least four catches and 65 yards in all three games this year. The Rams secondary is brutal, allowing 272.3 passing yards a game and seven touchdowns for the season. They also have no interceptions and only three sacks, so look for Trent Edwards to have plenty of time to find Evans. He hasn't scored a touchdown yet, but that could come this week.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. DEN): Bowe was solid last year at home against the Broncos with nine catches for 105 yards. He's started this season with 15 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns, so the quarterback changes from Brodie Croyle to Damon Huard to Tyler Thigpen and back to Huard haven't hurt his play. It also helps that Denver is last in pass defense and hasn't stopped anyone this year, allowing 316 passing yards per game with six touchdowns and only one interception.
DeSean Jackson (at CHI): With Brian Westbrook (ankle) either limited or out for this game, Jackson becomes Donovan McNabb's best weapon. He has 17 catches for 256 yards this season (and should have a touchdown) with at least five catches each game. The Bears couldn't stop Tampa Bay's passing game last week, with Antonio Bryant getting 10 catches for 138 yards. Look for Jackson's hot start to continue this week against a suspect Chicago secondary.
Sleeper alert: Isaac Bruce (at NO) Bruce made a living playing indoors with his tenure in St. Louis, including eight touchdowns in a dome the past three years. Bruce has six catches for 172 yards and a touchdown the past two games against Seattle and Detroit, and New Orleans' pass defense has been worse than those two teams. Look for Bruce to have another good outing in what should be a high-scoring game. As J.T. O'Sullivan continues to improve, Bruce's Fantasy value will continue to rise.
Brandon Lloyd (vs. PHI): Lloyd has played great the past two weeks with 11 catches for 190 yards and a touchdown against Carolina and Tampa Bay. But the Eagles have plenty of solid defensive backs in Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard to lock down Lloyd, who has only three catches for 87 yards in his past four games against Philly. The Eagles are going to come after Kyle Orton and not give him many opportunities to look downfield for Lloyd.
Vincent Jackson (at OAK): Jackson has started to live up to his potential with nine catches for 147 yards in his past two games against Denver and the Jets. But Jackson has a terrible history against the Raiders with six catches for 50 yards in his past three meetings with no touchdowns. Oakland's secondary hasn't played as well as the past two years, but Jackson still is No. 3 at best in San Diego's passing offense behind Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers and even LaDainian Tomlinson. Sit Jackson down this week.
Torry Holt (vs. BUF): I like that Holt is at home, but I don't like the quarterback switch from Marc Bulger to Trent Green. Bulger had trouble getting Holt the ball with only 11 catches for 122 yards and one touchdown in three games, and Green is not better than Bulger, especially with this offensive line. The Bills are No. 2 in pass defense with 154 passing yards allowed per game and two touchdowns, so they will focus on keeping Holt from making plays as well.
Bernard Berrian (at TEN): The Titans have limited Andre Johnson (two catches for 29 yards), Chad Johnson (four catches for 37 yards) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (three catches for 26 yards) this year, so they should do well against Berrian. Tennessee is among the league leaders with only one touchdown allowed and 11 sacks, and the Titans lead the NFL with seven interceptions. Berrian finally had his first good game in Week 3 against Carolina with three catches for 79 yards, but he's not going to duplicate that this week.
Patrick Crayton (vs. WAS): The emergence of Miles Austin has cut into Crayton's opportunities. In the past two games, Crayton only has two catches for 23 yards, with only five passes thrown in his direction. He also hasn't played well against Washington with 11 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown in his past five games. It seems like Crayton has become an afterthought in the offense as opposed to a cog in the system. Maybe that changes this week, but the Redskins should limit that from happening.
Bust alert: Hines Ward (vs. BAL): Ward struggled at Philadelphia last week with four catches for 34 yards, and Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder injury could be the reason why. The Ravens also have done well against Ward, who has no touchdowns in his past five meetings. Ward has three games with at least six catches against Baltimore over that span, with each game gaining at least 75 yards, but the shoulder injury for Roethlisberger could limit what Ward can do this week.
Heath Miller (vs. BAL): Like we said last week, with Ben Roethlisberger dealing with a sore shoulder and now an injured hand, he won't be looking downfield too often. That's good news for Miller, who had a solid game at Philadelphia last week with four catches for 63 yards. Miller has a touchdown in each of his last two home games against Baltimore. And with Willie Parker (knee) out, the Steelers might not have their usual success running the ball, which will help Miller with more throwing opportunities.
Tony Scheffler (at KC): Scheffler had a bad week in Week 3 against New Orleans with four catches for 32 yards, but he's still a vital part of the offense. And he's facing a bad defense this week in the Chiefs, who have a young secondary. Scheffler has four catches in each of his past two games against the Chiefs, and sooner or later he's going to find the end zone against Kansas City. The Chiefs are allowing 26 points per game, so look for Denver to score often, and hopefully with Scheffler.
Greg Olsen (vs. PHI): This might be the last week you can consider starting Olsen with the way he's played thus far. Through three games, Olsen has six catches for 59 yards. But he should be able to catch some passes this week. The Eagles have struggled to defend tight ends this year. Through three games, Randy McMichael (five catches for 77 yards), Jason Witten (seven catches for 110 yards) and Heath Miller (four catches for 63 yards) have hurt Philadelphia's pass defense. With the Eagles blitzing Kyle Orton, he should be able to find Olsen on a regular basis.
Sleeper alert: Zach Miller (vs. SD): The only team worse at defending tight ends this year than the Eagles is the Chargers. Dante Rosario (seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown), Tony Scheffler (six catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns) and Dustin Keller (four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown) have all had outstanding games against San Diego's defense. Now it's Miller's turn. He only has six catches for 58 yards on the season, but he played well against the Chargers last year with 11 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in two games. The Raiders have to use Miller this week
Todd Heap (at PIT): Heap only has one touchdown in his past five games against the Steelers and one game with more than 50 yards receiving. Heap has struggled this year with only three catches for 37 yards in two games. In three games, the Steelers have limited Owen Daniels (three catches for 33 yards), Kellen Winslow (seven catches for 55 yards) and L.J. Smith (no catches), so they should be able to contain Heap as well. And this is Joe Flacco's first road game, so expect the rookie to struggle.
Vernon Davis (at NO): No. 2 tight end Delanie Walker has outplayed Davis, who has only one catch for 17 yards the past two weeks. Walker, meanwhile, had three catches for 44 yards last week against Detroit. The Saints pass defense has struggled this year and comes into this game allowing 259 yards per game and four passing touchdowns on the season. But Davis has disappeared from the offense instead of thriving under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz. That could change at some point, but you can't trust him right now.
Jerramy Stevens (vs. GB): Before you get overexcited with Stevens, who had five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 at Chicago, remember the Bucs threw 67 passes in the game. That's not going to happen again. Stevens also is the No. 2 tight end for Tampa Bay behind Alex Smith. Now, Tampa Bay does use the tight end a lot and should continue to as long as Joey Galloway (foot) is out. But Green Bay has done a good job defending tight ends, limiting Visanthe Shiancoe (three catches for 21 yards) and Jason Witten (seven catches for 67 yards). The Packers should contain Stevens as well.
Bust alert: Jason Witten (vs. WAS): We're not going to tell you to sit Witten, especially during the bye weeks. But lower your expectations for Witten this week. In his last six games against Washington, Witten hasn't gotten more than 67 yards receiving, and his last score against the Redskins was in 2005. The Redskins have also done a good job against tight ends so far, limiting them to a total of 53 yards on four catches through three games. Witten also hasn't scored a touchdown yet this season, and he might not score this week either.
Carolina (vs. ATL): The Panthers DST has been mediocre this year with only one defensive touchdown, one interception, three fumbles and five sacks. But now they face a rookie quarterback in Matt Ryan making only his second road start. In his first road game in Week 2 at Tampa Bay, Ryan had two interceptions and a fumble, so expect some turnovers this week as well. This is a good week for the Panthers DST to get going, and they are only owned in 49 percent of leagues, so add them as a bye-week replacement.
Other DSTs with good matchups: Denver (at KC), Buffalo (at STL) and Tennessee (vs. MIN)
Chicago (vs. PHI): With Devin Hester (ribs) possibly missing his second game in a row, the Bears return game is limited. And facing Donovan McNabb in a homecoming is a dire situation. Tampa Bay passed for 407 yards against Chicago last week, and we can safely say McNabb is a better quarterback than Brian Griese. Brian Westbrook (ankle) could miss this game, but Correll Buckhalter will fill in just fine as the Eagles put up plenty of points against Chicago this week.
Rian Lindell (at STL): Lindell is only owned in 21 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com, so if you're in need of a good bye-week replacement, add him and start him this week. St. Louis is last in nearly every defensive category, including scoring, giving up 38.7 points per game with six field goals and 14 extra points. David Akers (one field goal, five extra points), John Carney (two field goals, five extra points) and Olindo Mare (three field goals, four extra points) have all done well against the Rams this year.
Ryan Longwell (at TEN): I'm always leery of indoor kickers going outside, even though Longwell used to kick in Green Bay. On top of that, the Vikings offense is going up against a solid defense in what should be a low-scoring game. The Titans are allowing less than 10 points per game, with only three field goals on the season and two extra points. Longwell has been great this year with only one missed field goal in 10 attempts, but he could be limited this week at Tennessee.
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