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, Adrian Peterson or any other top-tier players.
He started out playing well with 353 passing yards and three touchdowns at Tampa Bay in Week 1, but things have gone downhill ever since. In the past three games against the Giants, Carolina and Denver, Romo has one touchdown and four interceptions. He didn't throw a touchdown pass against the Panthers or Broncos, which was the first time in his career he has gone back-to-back games without scoring a touchdown.
Maybe Simpson can don the pink No. 9 jersey again and break any potential curse. Or maybe the Bills would part ways with Owens and send him back to Dallas.
While those two things don't appear to be happening any time soon, Fantasy owners are ready to part ways with Romo, and for good reason. But have faith in Romo for at least one more game because good news is on the way, and Romo is our Start of the Week.
If there's one thing that should be a good remedy for a frustrated quarterback, it's a trip to Kansas City. The Chiefs are No. 28 in pass defense and have been abused this year by Joe Flacco, Kevin Kolb and Eli Manning in three of four games.
Kansas City has a suspect secondary and little pass rush, and Romo should do well this week even if Roy E. Williams (ribs) doesn't play. You can expect good things from Jason Witten, and Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd are all sleepers. Williams would also be a great start if he's healthy.
Now, if Romo struggles here heading into his bye in Week 6 then it's time to give up on him. But we have faith that Romo will come through in this matchup so give him one more chance to prove his worth.
Sit of the Week
You really have to feel for Steven Jackson. He is an elite talent with Pro Bowl ability and could be an MVP candidate with the right team.
St. Louis isn't that team.
The Rams are going through a rebuilding process with a revamped offensive line, and quarterback Marc Bulger is trying to recover from a shoulder injury. Their best receiver, Laurent Robinson, is out for the reason with a leg injury, and this week Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are dealing with hamstring woes. Last week, the Rams made the 49ers defense look like the 1985 Bears.
Through all of this, Jackson has posted quality stats with 367 rushing yards and 12 catches for 67 yards through four games. But he has yet to score a touchdown, and he faces another daunting task this week.
Minnesota is No. 9 in run defense, and the Vikings are the only team that has yet to allow a rushing or receiving touchdown to an opposing running back. And with the way the Rams have looked throwing the ball, the Vikings will stack the line of scrimmage with the best defensive line in the NFL and load up on Jackson.
It's hard to sit a player of his caliber, especially when he's healthy, but this is a tough matchup. If you can afford to bench Jackson this week, that's the right move to make.
You'll notice with the sit running backs this week that it's proceed with caution with Jackson, Michael Turner, Ronnie Brown, Kevin Smith, Joseph Addai and Cedric Benson based on some tough matchups. It's hard to sit them in the majority of leagues, especially where you can use a running back at the flex spot and during bye weeks with several big-name guys off (Matt Forte, Ryan Grant, Pierre Thomas and LaDainian Tomlinson).
But you'll see in our start running backs there could be better options for you to use this week if you feel comfortable benching your stars.
|Starts that made us look good|
|Player||Stats||Fantasy Points||Week 4 Start %|
|David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville|| 323 yards, three TDs, |
38 rush yards, one fumble
|Eli Manning, QB, N.Y. Giants||292 yards, three TDs, INT||25||53%|
|Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jacksonville||91 rec. yards, two TDs||21||57%|
|Sits that made us look good|
|Tony Romo, QB, Dallas||255 yards, INT, fumble||6||76%|
|Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans||33 rec. yards||3||95%|
|Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans||34 rec. yards||3||62%|
|Starts that made us look bad|
|Jason Campbell, QB, Washington|| 170 yards, two TDs, three INTs, |
20 rush yards, fumble
|Julius Jones, RB, Seattle||25 rush yards, 10 rec. yards||3||82%|
|Ted Ginn, Jr.||4 rec. yards, 22 rush yards||2||31%|
|Sits that made us look bad|
|Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay**||384 yards, two TDs, INT, 16 rush yards, fumble||27||80%|
|Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore||88 rec. yards, TD||13||38%|
|Bernard Berrian, WR, Minnesota||75 rec. yards, TD||13||34%|
|Our favorite Week 4 sleeper pick was ... Kyle Orton, who had 243 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for 21 Fantasy points.|
** -- Week 4 Sit of the Week
Donovan McNabb (vs. TB): McNabb is back after missing the past two games with a rib injury, and he has to be motivated after watching Kevin Kolb play well as his replacement. In two games against New Orleans and Kansas City, Kolb passed for 718 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Those are stats McNabb should have, so he's ready to make up for lost time. The Bucs have allowed nine passing touchdowns on the season, and McNabb also gets Brian Westbrook (ankle) back for this game. The Eagles should put on quite an offensive display.
Brett Favre (at STL): Favre was sensational against his former team last week. He passed for 271 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers and now has eight touchdowns and one interception on the season. This week, Favre will likely go back to the more conservative style we saw in the first two games at Cleveland and Detroit, but he's still a good option against the Rams, who have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this season and multiple scores to Aaron Rodgers and Shaun Hill the past two weeks. This should be a game where Adrian Peterson runs wild, but Favre is still a solid bye-week replacement based on his performance to start the season.
Ben Roethlisberger (at DET): For some reason Big Ben isn't getting the love he deserves from Fantasy owners. He was only being started in 55 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com through Week 4, yet he has seven touchdowns (five passing and two rushing) with four interceptions and three games over 275 yards passing. Roethlisberger should stay hot against the Lions this week. Detroit is last in the NFL with 12 passing touchdowns allowed. Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Jason Campbell and Jay Cutler have each scored multiple touchdowns against the Lions, and Roethlisberger should follow suit with another great performance.
Joe Flacco (vs. CIN): I was amazed to get so many questions last week about starting Flacco over Tom Brady. And while Brady posted slightly better Fantasy stats than Flacco in their head-to-head matchup, it speaks to how well Flacco has played this season that the production was close. Looking at Flacco, he has emerged as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback. He has eight touchdowns and three interceptions and three games with over 260 passing yards. Flacco's first NFL start was against the Bengals last year, and he could only manage a rushing touchdown. In their second meeting, Flacco passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns and appears poised to repeat those stats with how he's played so far this season.
Matt Hasselbeck (vs. JAC): Hasselbeck is expected to return this week from his rib injury after missing the past two games, but if he's out for some reason then you can plug Seneca Wallace into this spot. It should be a great game for the Seahawks passing attack since the Jaguars are No. 31 in pass defense. Hasselbeck has the chance for a big outing since the Jaguars have struggled with Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Matt Schaub and Kerry Collins so far this year. The one concern for Hasselbeck is injuries along the offensive line, but Jacksonville is last in the NFL with only three sacks.
Sleeper alert: Matt Cassel (vs. DAL): I know it's hard to believe, but members of the Chiefs might actually be good options this week. Dallas has struggled in pass defense and is ranked No. 29 with six touchdowns allowed and only two interceptions and six sacks. The Cowboys could step up in this matchup, but they are dealing with injuries to their secondary. Cassel hasn't posted great stats this season, but he does have four touchdowns and no interceptions the past two weeks against the Eagles and Giants. He only threw for a combined 217 yards in those games, so he needs to improve his overall totals, but this is a good week to make that happen. If you're looking for a one-week replacement with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler on a bye, then Cassel has a chance to be a useful option based on this matchup.
|Top Flex Players for Week 5|
|1. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC||at SEA||23|
|2. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN||at STL||19|
|3. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT||at DET||17|
|4. Reggie Wayne, WR, IND||at TEN||17|
|5. Chris Johnson, RB, TEN||vs IND||17|
|6. Steve Slaton, RB, HOU||at ARI||16|
|7. Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG||vs OAK||16|
|8. Glen Coffee, RB, SF||vs ATL||16|
|9. Andre Johnson, WR, HOU||at ARI||15|
|10. Marion Barber, RB, DAL||at KC||15|
|11. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET||vs PIT||15|
|12. Randy Moss, WR, NE||at DEN||15|
|13. Brent Celek, TE, PHI||vs TB||14|
|14. Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE||at BUF||14|
|15. Dallas Clark, TE, IND||at TEN||14|
|16. Clinton Portis, RB, WAS||at CAR||14|
|17. Brian Westbrook, RB, PHI||vs TB||14|
|18. Marshawn Lynch, RB, BUF||vs CLE||14|
|19. DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI||vs TB||14|
|20. DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR||vs WAS||14|
|21. Ronnie Brown, RB, MIA||vs NYJ||13|
|22. Chad Ochocinco, WR, CIN||at BAL||13|
|23. Derrick Mason, WR, BAL||vs CIN||13|
|24. Mario Manningham, WR, NYG||vs OAK||13|
|25. Willis McGahee, RB, BAL||vs CIN||13|
|26. Anquan Boldin, WR, ARI||vs HOU||13|
|27. Santonio Holmes, WR, PIT||at DET||13|
|28. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI||vs HOU||13|
|29. Nate Burleson, WR, SEA||vs JAC||13|
|30. Terrell Owens, WR, BUF||vs CLE||13|
|31. Mike Sims-Walker, WR, JAC||at SEA||13|
|32. Thomas Jones, RB, NYJ||at MIA||12|
|33. Chester Taylor, RB, MIN||at STL||12|
|34. Kevin Walter, WR, HOU||at ARI||12|
|35. Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC||vs DAL||12|
|36. Sammy Morris, RB, NE||at DEN||12|
|37. Hines Ward, WR, PIT||at DET||12|
|38. Kellen Winslow, TE, TB||at PHI||12|
|39. Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN||vs NE||11|
|40. Michael Turner, RB, ATL||at SF||11|
|41. John Carlson, TE, SEA||vs JAC||11|
|42. Donnie Avery, WR, STL||vs MIN||11|
|43. Tony Gonzalez, TE, ATL||at SF||11|
|44. Dustin Keller, TE, NYJ||at MIA||11|
|45. Jason Witten, TE, DAL||at KC||11|
|46. Tim Hightower, RB, ARI||vs HOU||11|
|47. Donald Brown, RB, IND||at TEN||11|
|48. Chris Cooley, TE, WAS||at CAR||11|
|49. Kelley Washington, WR, BAL||vs CIN||11|
|50. Ray Rice, RB, BAL||vs CIN||10|
|51. Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR||vs WAS||10|
|52. Pierre Garcon, WR, IND||at TEN||10|
|53. Miles Austin, WR, DAL||at KC||10|
|54. Beanie Wells, RB, ARI||vs HOU||9|
|55. Santana Moss, WR, WAS||at CAR||9|
|56. Steven Jackson, RB, STL||vs MIN||9|
|57. Benjamin Watson, TE, NE||at DEN||9|
|58. Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG||vs OAK||9|
|59. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, MIN||at STL||9|
|60. Marcedes Lewis, TE, JAC||at SEA||8|
|61. Steve Smith, WR, CAR||vs WAS||8|
|62. Kenny Britt, WR, TEN||vs IND||8|
|63. Fred Jackson, RB, BUF||vs CLE||8|
|64. Sean Ryan, TE, KC||vs DAL||8|
|65. Steve Smith, WR, NYG||vs OAK||8|
|66. Wes Welker, WR, NE||at DEN||8|
|67. Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, CLE||at BUF||8|
|68. Cadillac Williams, RB, TB||at PHI||8|
|69. LenDale White, RB, TEN||vs IND||8|
|70. Robert Royal, TE, CLE||at BUF||8|
|71. Jabar Gaffney, WR, DEN||vs NE||8|
|72. Ricky Williams, RB, MIA||vs NYJ||7|
|73. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG||vs OAK||7|
|74. Kevin Smith, RB, DET||vs PIT||7|
|75. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, SEA||vs JAC||7|
|76. Larry Johnson, RB, KC||vs DAL||7|
|77. Roddy White, WR, ATL||at SF||7|
|78. Joseph Addai, RB, IND||at TEN||7|
|79. Brian Leonard, RB, CIN||at BAL||7|
|80. Brandon Marshall, WR, DEN||vs NE||7|
|81. Nate Washington, WR, TEN||vs IND||7|
|82. Leon Washington, RB, NYJ||at MIA||6|
|83. Steve Breaston, WR, ARI||vs HOU||6|
|84. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI||vs TB||6|
|85. Lee Evans, WR, BUF||vs CLE||6|
|86. Tashard Choice, RB, DAL||at KC||6|
|87. Vernon Davis, TE, SF||vs ATL||6|
|88. Braylon Edwards, WR, NYJ||at MIA||6|
|89. Cedric Benson, RB, CIN||at BAL||5|
|90. Percy Harvin, WR, MIN||at STL||5|
|91. Jason Avant, WR, PHI||vs TB||5|
|92. Owen Daniels, TE, HOU||at ARI||5|
|93. Jerricho Cotchery, WR, NYJ||at MIA||5|
|94. Davone Bess, WR, MIA||vs NYJ||5|
|95. Bernard Berrian, WR, MIN||at STL||5|
|96. Patrick Crayton, WR, DAL||at KC||5|
|97. Michael Bush, RB, OAK||at NYG||4|
|98. Heath Miller, TE, PIT||at DET||4|
|99. Zach Miller, TE, OAK||at NYG||4|
|100. Antonio Bryant, WR, TB||at PHI||4|
|101. Louis Murphy, WR, OAK||at NYG||4|
|102. Andre Caldwell, WR, CIN||at BAL||4|
|103. Todd Heap, TE, BAL||vs CIN||4|
|104. Greg Camarillo, WR, MIA||vs NYJ||4|
|105. Mike Furrey, WR, CLE||at BUF||4|
|106. Mark Clayton, WR, BAL||vs CIN||4|
|107. Julius Jones, RB, SEA||vs JAC||3|
|108. Muhsin Muhammad, WR, CAR||vs WAS||3|
|109. Sam Hurd, WR, DAL||at KC||3|
|110. Jerheme Urban, WR, ARI||vs HOU||3|
|111. Isaac Bruce, WR, SF||vs ATL||3|
|112. Eddie Royal, WR, DEN||vs NE||3|
|113. Keenan Burton, WR, STL||vs MIN||3|
|114. Jerious Norwood, RB, ATL||at SF||3|
|115. Josh Morgan, WR, SF||vs ATL||3|
|116. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC||vs DAL||3|
|117. Justin Fargas, RB, OAK||at NYG||3|
|118. Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ||at MIA||3|
|119. Sidney Rice, WR, MIN||at STL||3|
|120. Randy McMichael, TE, STL||vs MIN||3|
|121. Mark Bradley, WR, KC||vs DAL||3|
|122. Michael Jenkins, WR, ATL||at SF||3|
|123. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET||vs PIT||3|
|124. Josh Reed, WR, BUF||vs CLE||3|
|125. Justin Gage, WR, TEN||vs IND||3|
|126. Laveranues Coles, WR, CIN||at BAL||3|
|127. Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU||at ARI||3|
|128. Brian Hartline, WR, MIA||vs NYJ||3|
|129. Kevin Curtis, WR, PHI||vs TB||3|
|130. Josh Cribbs, WR, CLE||at BUF||2|
|131. Laurence Maroney, RB, NE||at DEN||2|
|132. Rashad Jennings, RB, JAC||at SEA||2|
|133. Mike Thomas, WR, JAC||at SEA||2|
|134. Steve Heiden, TE, CLE||at BUF||2|
|135. Bo Scaife, TE, TEN||vs IND||2|
|136. Edgerrin James, RB, SEA||vs JAC||2|
|137. Antwaan Randle El, WR, WAS||at CAR||2|
|138. Chris Henry, WR, CIN||at BAL||2|
|139. Bobby Wade, WR, KC||vs DAL||2|
|140. Austin Collie, WR, IND||at TEN||2|
|141. Torry Holt, WR, JAC||at SEA||2|
|142. Mike Wallace, WR, PIT||at DET||2|
|143. Bryant Johnson, WR, DET||vs PIT||2|
|144. Earnest Graham, RB, TB||at PHI||1|
|145. Bernard Scott, RB, CIN||at BAL||1|
|146. Kenny Moore, WR, CAR||vs WAS||1|
|147. Jerramy Stevens, TE, TB||at PHI||1|
|148. Ted Ginn Jr., WR, MIA||vs NYJ||1|
|149. Alge Crumpler, TE, TEN||vs IND||1|
|150. Jason Snelling, RB, ATL||at SF||1|
|151. Justin Forsett, RB, SEA||vs JAC||1|
|152. Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI||vs TB||1|
|153. Chris Jennings, RB, CLE||at BUF||1|
|154. Kevin Faulk, RB, NE||at DEN||1|
|155. Ladell Betts, RB, WAS||at CAR||1|
|156. Brad Smith, WR, NYJ||at MIA||1|
|157. Ryan Moats, RB, HOU||at ARI||1|
|158. LaMont Jordan, RB, DEN||vs NE||1|
|159. Mewelde Moore, RB, PIT||at DET||1|
|160. Leonard Pope, TE, KC||vs DAL||1|
|161. Dante Rosario, TE, CAR||vs WAS||1|
|162. David Anderson, WR, HOU||at ARI||1|
|163. Martellus Bennett, TE, DAL||at KC||1|
|164. Dennis Northcutt, WR, DET||vs PIT||1|
|165. Aaron Brown, RB, DET||vs PIT||1|
|166. Will Heller, TE, DET||vs PIT||1|
|167. Jeff King, TE, CAR||vs WAS||1|
|168. Brandon Stokley, WR, DEN||vs NE||1|
|169. Brian Finneran, WR, ATL||at SF||1|
|170. Sammie Stroughter, WR, TB||at PHI||1|
|171. Daniel Coats, TE, CIN||at BAL||1|
|172. Travis Beckum, TE, NYG||vs OAK||1|
|173. Deion Branch, WR, SEA||vs JAC||1|
|174. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, OAK||at NYG||1|
|175. Maurice Stovall, WR, TB||at PHI||1|
|176. Marty Booker, WR, ATL||at SF||1|
|177. Arnaz Battle, WR, SF||vs ATL||1|
|178. Julian Edelman, WR, NE||at DEN||1|
|179. Sam Aiken, WR, NE||at DEN||1|
|180. Tony Scheffler, TE, DEN||vs NE||1|
|181. Joel Dreessen, TE, HOU||at ARI||1|
|182. Anthony Fasano, TE, MIA||vs NYJ||1|
|183. Chris Brown, RB, HOU||at ARI||1|
|184. Daniel Graham, TE, DEN||vs NE||1|
|185. Malcolm Kelly, WR, WAS||at CAR||1|
|186. Chris Baker, TE, NE||at DEN||1|
|187. Chansi Stuckey, WR, CLE||at BUF||1|
|188. Kenneth Darby, RB, STL||vs MIN||0|
|189. Gartrell Johnson, RB, NYG||vs OAK||0|
|190. Patrick Cobbs, RB, MIA||vs NYJ||0|
|191. Maurice Morris, RB, DET||vs PIT||0|
|192. Dantrell Savage, RB, KC||vs DAL||0|
|193. Clifton Smith, RB, TB||at PHI||0|
|194. Nate Hughes, WR, JAC||at SEA||0|
|195. Roscoe Parrish, WR, BUF||vs CLE||0|
|196. Jimmy Kleinsasser, TE, MIN||at STL||0|
|197. Jehuu Caulcrick, RB, NYJ||at MIA||0|
|198. Vinny Perretta, WR, MIN||at STL||0|
|199. Sinorice Moss, WR, NYG||vs OAK||0|
|200. Jason Davis, RB, NYJ||at MIA||0|
Eli Manning (vs. OAK): A foot injury plus a decent secondary means let Manning sit on your bench this week. He has been amazing this year with 1,039 passing yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Raiders have only allowed four passing touchdowns for as bad as their defense has played. Last week, Oakland held Matt Schaub to 224 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Giants should establish the run this week and not ask Manning to do much, especially with a showdown looming in Week 6 at New Orleans in Manning's hometown. David Carr could win this game for the Giants, so leave Manning in reserve for your Fantasy team.
Carson Palmer (at BAL): The Bengals didn't score an offensive touchdown against the Ravens in 2008, and Palmer didn't score a touchdown against Baltimore in his past two meetings. In his past five meetings with the Ravens going back to 2006, Palmer has four touchdowns and three interceptions with only one game over 250 passing yards and one game with multiple touchdowns. The Ravens have allowed five touchdowns on the season with six interceptions, but Palmer has only six touchdown passes with five interceptions through four games. Chad Ochocinco might be prepared to do a touchdown celebration based on the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights, but don't expect Palmer to do a lot of "Shake and Bake."
Mark Sanchez (at MIA): We've been right with Sanchez the past two weeks, saying he would play well against Tennessee in Week 3 and struggle in Week 4 at New Orleans. We're going for three in a row even with the addition of Braylon Edwards. The Dolphins have found a new weapon in linebacker Cameron Wake, and their secondary stepped up last week against the Bills. Miami should harass Sanchez into more trouble in his first game on Monday night, and Sanchez has six turnovers (four interceptions and two fumbles) in his past two games. He also has only one game over 200 yards passing, and the rookie is worth keeping on the bench for another week.
Kerry Collins (vs. IND): This is not a good matchup for Collins because the Colts continue to play well in pass defense. Indianapolis has allowed only two touchdowns with three interceptions and is among the league leaders with 12 sacks. The one benefit for Collins is the Titans will likely be playing from behind, but the Colts are used to that. And if the Titans want to break their winless streak and try to limit Peyton Manning, they need to establish the run with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Collins also has two touchdowns and four interceptions in his past two games against the Jets and Jaguars and six interceptions for the season, so he's not exactly playing at a high level coming into this game.
Jake Delhomme (vs. WAS): The Redskins have done a great job against opposing quarterbacks this season and have allowed only four passing touchdowns. They haven't created many turnovers yet with only two interceptions, but they get a chance for that to happen this week against Delhomme, who has two only touchdown passes with nine turnovers (seven interceptions and two fumbles). Look for Steve Smith to have a good outing, but Delhomme isn't worth starting even as a bye-week replacement, and you'd probably be better off benching him in leagues where you start two quarterbacks as well. He's just not getting it done this season.
Bust alert: Tom Brady (at DEN): It's come to the point where you have to consider benching Brady if you have a quality backup because he hasn't produced at a high level this year. I'm in a situation in one league where I can't afford to sit him, but I expect him to struggle this week. Denver's defense appears to be legit and has a great secondary with Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins leading the way. They held Tony Romo to 255 passing yards, no touchdowns and an interception last week, and the Broncos are the only team yet to allow a passing touchdown this season. Brady looked comfortable for the first time last week against the Ravens, but he only has one game with multiple passing touchdowns this year in Week 1 against Buffalo. If Bailey can do a good job in coverage against Randy Moss and Wes Welker is still limited with the knee injury, Brady could struggle. Again, we're not telling you to sit Brady unless you have a good backup on your bench, but if you've been sitting on say Joe Flacco at this point, make the switch and go with Flacco this week.
Tim Hightower (vs. HOU): Hightower was another candidate to be the Start of the Week based on his matchup with the Texans, who have struggled to stop the run this season. Our hesitation was that coming off the bye week, Beanie Wells could become more of a factor, and you should consider him a sleeper in deeper leagues. We also know the Cardinals might get away from the run and start throwing it all over the place. That could help Hightower, but we'd like to see him touch the ball more often. That said, Houston has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs, and Hightower could find the end zone with some good yardage. He's worth starting as a No. 2 running back or flex option.
Marshawn Lynch (vs. CLE): You've waited for a week like this to use Lynch following the three-game suspension and then last week's tough matchup at Miami. The Browns have struggled to stop the run and are the worst team against opposing running backs this season, allowing eight touchdowns on the year. Fred Jackson will cut into Lynch's production, so consider him a good flex option or starter in deeper formats, but Lynch should get the majority of touches now that he has a game and two weeks of practice under his belt. The offensive line remains an issue in Buffalo, but the Browns won't pose much of a threat in stopping Lynch, who had 177 total yards and a touchdown against Cleveland last year.
Jerome Harrison (at BUF): We called Harrison a sleeper last week, and he responded with 152 total yards and a fumble against Cincinnati. As long as Jamal Lewis (hamstring) remains out, Harrison should remain hot, especially in a matchup like this. The Bills are among the worst run defenses in the NFL with eight touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs and are dealing with injuries to linebacker Paul Posluszny (forearm) and safety Donte Whitner (thumb). Harrison is also a factor in the passing game with 10 catches in his past two outings, so look for him to do it all and consider him a good option in all formats. He had 101 total yards and a touchdown at Buffalo last year.
Rashard Mendenhall (at DET): It's hard to imagine Willie Parker (toe) playing this week, so Mendenhall will likely get another shot at showing his ability. He was dominant last week against the Chargers with 29 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns and two catches for 26 yards. The Lions won't pose much of a threat this week, and even Mewelde Moore should be considered in leagues where receptions count. The only pitfall for Mendenhall could be if Parker returns, but that would be a surprise heading into this matchup. Last week, the Lions allowed Matt Forte to gain 140 total yards and a touchdown.
Glen Coffee (vs. ATL): The touches are there for Coffee, just not the overall production. He had 24 carries for 74 yards and four catches for 32 yards against the Rams last week, but he's still looking for his first NFL touchdown. We'll see if that happens this week against the Falcons, who have allowed three rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in three games. Atlanta is also allowing 136 rushing yards per game, so Coffee could again be productive with more than 20 carries. Frank Gore (ankle/foot) remains out for at least one more week, so Coffee is worth staying active, and his four catches against the Rams were a nice surprise.
Sleeper alert: Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. OAK): Bradshaw is dealing with a sore ankle/foot, but it hasn't slowed him down. In fact, Bradshaw (265) nearly has as many rushing yards as starter Brandon Jacobs (288), but Bradshaw is averaging 5.6 yards per carry compared to 3.6 for Jacobs. This week, Bradshaw could score his first touchdown of the season as the Giants will likely lean on their ground game against the Raiders. Oakland is among the worst run defenses in the NFL and has allowed five touchdowns to opposing running backs. Bradshaw has been over 60 rushing yards in three of four games this season, and he's picked up where Derrick Ward left off last year as a good complement to Jacobs. Some other sleepers this week include Larry Johnson (vs. DAL), Sammy Morris (at DEN), LeSean McCoy (vs. TB), Chester Taylor (at STL) and Tashard Choice (at KC).
Cedric Benson (at BAL): I know, my track record with Benson has been shaky so far this season. I called him a sleeper in Week 1 against Denver, and that paid off, but since then we've been going in opposite directions. This week, we get back on the same path, and you should bench Benson in all leagues. The Ravens are No. 1 in run defense at less than 60 yards per game and have allowed only two touchdowns to opposing running backs. Benson has been stellar this season, but he struggled with Baltimore in his lone meeting last year with 10 carries for 17 yards and two catches for 1 yard. He'll do better than that, but probably not by much, and he's also less than 100 percent with a hip problem.
Kevin Smith (vs. PIT): There's a good chance Matthew Stafford (knee) misses this game, which means Daunte Culpepper will get the starting nod. There's also a chance Troy Polamalu (knee) returns, and that will only enhance the Steelers run defense. The Steelers are No. 1 against opposing running backs with only one rushing touchdown allowed on the season. They will stack the line of scrimmage and dare the Lions to pass. Smith was admirable last week against the Bears by playing through a shoulder injury and scoring two touchdowns. But he only managed 51 total yards, and Pittsburgh is much better against the run than Chicago. Sit Smith in all leagues this week because this is not a matchup where he will do well.
Joseph Addai (at TEN): We'll include Donald Brown as someone to be wary of in this matchup as well since the Titans have managed to maintain their standout run defense this year even with Albert Haynesworth gone. It's the pass defense that has struggled for the Titans, but Tennessee is No. 2 against opposing running backs this season. Addai and Brown continue to split carries, but Addai has been more productive the past two weeks against Arizona and Seattle. Still, look for both to struggle in what should be a tough matchup. Addai had a receiving touchdown against the Titans last year, but he managed just 31 rushing yards in his past two meetings. The Titans held Maurice Jones-Drew to 40 total yards and a touchdown last week.
Thomas Jones (at MIA): Take away Jones' 15-yard touchdown run at New Orleans last week and he had a miserable day with 12 carries for 33 yards. In his past three weeks, Jones hasn't topped 15 carries in a game, and the Jets are starting to get rookie Shonn Greene involved along with the presence of Leon Washington. The Dolphins are among the top run defenses this year. They rank No. 2 at 61 yards per game and have only allowed two touchdowns to opposing running backs. Jones has a good history against the Dolphins, but the Jets appear content to go with a running back by committee, which will hurt Jones' production.
Michael Turner (at SF): The numbers suggest this could be a tough week for Turner. The 49ers join the Vikings as the only two teams yet to allow a rushing touchdown to an opposing running back. In the past two weeks, San Francisco has limited Adrian Peterson (19 carries for 85 yards) and Steven Jackson (23 carries for 79 yards) and could do the same against Turner. He has looked sluggish so far this season with only one 100-yard game and just two touchdowns, and he's only averaging 3.5 yards per carry. By comparison, Turner had five touchdowns through three games last season with one game over 200 yards rushing and one game over 100 yards. Now, Turner is coming off a bye and should be ready to roll, and it's risky to sit him this week or any week. But if you buy into the 49ers defense and what they have done against Peterson and Jackson, then keep Turner on your bench this week or at least lower your expectations for him in this matchup.
Bust alert: Ronnie Brown (vs. NYJ): As we predicted, Brown has been awesome so far this year with 369 rushing yards and four touchdowns and six catches for 60 yards. But this week he faces a tough run defense against the Jets, who have only allowed two touchdowns to opposing running backs. And Jets coach Rex Ryan knows how to stop the Wildcat. Last year, Brown faced the Ravens twice, who had Ryan as their defensive coordinator. Brown had 13 carries for 27 yards and one catch for 1 yard against Baltimore in the regular season and 12 carries for 19 yards and six catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in the first round of the playoffs. This will be Chad Henne's second career start, so you know the Jets will focus on stopping Brown and Ricky Williams this week. More than likely they will be able to limit what Brown can do for you.
Pierre Garcon (at TEN): The Titans are the worst team against opposing wide receivers and are second in the league with 10 passing touchdowns allowed. Already this season Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, Owen Daniels, Jerricho Cotchery and Mike Sims-Walker all went over 70 yards against the Titans, with only Ward failing to score a touchdown. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark will again be the focal point of the passing game, but this is a good week for Garcon and Austin Collie to play well, so consider Collie a sleeper. The Colts have a bye in Week 6 before Anthony Gonzalez (knee) might return, so the time to use Garcon and Collie could be limited. This week, however, be confident in what they should be able to achieve.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. DAL): Bowe started off the season strong with two touchdowns in his first two games, but he was inactive in Week 3 with a hamstring injury and was limited last week with one catch for 11 yards. This week, Bowe should get back on track since Dallas has struggled in pass defense and is dealing with some injuries. The Chiefs haven't had the best success on offense this year, but Bowe should be a useful No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver this week. This game with the Cowboys has the potential to be a high-scoring affair.
Mike Sims-Walker (at SEA): He has become a must-start option in all formats and is worth playing over several big-named stars like Steve Smith of Carolina, Terrell Owens and Roddy White, among others. You can't deny his production with 19 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns the past three games, and he's the best wide receiver David Garrard has played with thus far in his career. The Seahawks have allowed four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and Sims-Walker will look to pad his stats in a game that could be high scoring. Sims-Walker might cool off at some point, but you have to continue to use him until that happens.
DeSean Jackson (vs. TB): The Bucs lead the NFL with eight touchdowns allowed against opposing wide receivers, so Jackson has the chance to find the end zone this week. He had two big games in Week 2 against New Orleans (four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown) and in Week 3 against Kansas City (six catches for 149 yards and a touchdown), and that was with Kevin Kolb starting. With Donovan McNabb back this week, Jackson has the chance for another big day. The Bucs will struggle to stay with him just like they did with another wide receiver we liked last week against Tampa Bay in Santana Moss, who had two catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Jackson should reach similar totals based on his play and the matchup.
Kevin Walter (at ARI):Walter should get back on track this week after he wasn't needed much against the Raiders. He was held to one catch for 41 yards as Houston went to the ground game in the second half against Oakland. This week against the Cardinals should be an aerial attack, which makes almost all the wide receivers in this game (Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston) quality options. The Cardinals are No. 30 in pass defense and have struggled with opposing wide receivers this season, so look for Matt Schaub to keep Walter involved. He should be considered a quality No. 2 Fantasy option this week.
Sleeper alert: Nate Burleson (vs. JAC): It's interesting to look at Burleson's stats so far this season because a pattern is developing. He's had a big week every other game and every game at home. In Week 1 vs. St. Louis he had seven catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. In Week 2 at San Francisco it was four catches for 46 yards. In Week 3 vs. Chicago he had nine catches for 109 yards. And last week at Indianapolis it was four catches for 31 yards. That should mean a big game is coming since it's an odd week and he's playing at home. Along with that, the Jaguars are among the worst teams against opposing wide receivers and No. 31 in pass defense. And Burleson is expected to get Matt Hasselbeck back this week. You should also consider T.J. Houshmandzadeh a good option, and John Carlson will likely play well based on the matchup. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Bernard Berrian (at STL), Mark Clayton (vs. CIN), Mohamed Massaquoi (at BUF) and Lee Evans (vs. CLE).
Braylon Edwards (at MIA): Edwards will start for his new team on Monday night, but don't look for him to do much against the Dolphins. He still has to get acclimated to the Jets and has no rapport with quarterback Mark Sanchez after joining the team this week. The Dolphins have done well against opposing wide receivers this season with the exception of the Chargers game. Edwards might have a few plays designed for him, but Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller will remain the best options in the passing game in this matchup. Give Edwards some time to let him get comfortable with the Jets before planning to use him in any format.
Ted Ginn, Jr. (vs. NYJ): It's too bad that Ginn can't join the list of third-year breakouts like Steve Smith of the Giants, Mike Sims-Walker and Sidney Rice. Instead, Ginn appears to be going in reverse with one catch for 4 yards the past two weeks against San Diego and Buffalo. This week he will likely be matched up with Darrelle Revis, and that's a terrible situation for him. Already this season Revis has shut down Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Justin Gage and Marques Colston. Ginn will again struggle this week, and you might consider releasing him in standard leagues based on the way he's played. The Jets have also allowed only one passing touchdown to an opposing wide receiver this year.
Nate Washington (vs. IND): The Colts have only allowed one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver this season and only two passing touchdowns total, so Washington's touchdown streak could be in jeopardy. He has scored in each of the past three games against Houston, the Jets and Jacksonville, but the Colts should focus on stopping him. Washington did have seven catches for 66 yards last week against the Jaguars, but he hasn't topped 100 yards receiving yet. Kenny Britt can also be in trouble this week based on the matchup.
Antonio Bryant (at PHI): Bryant finally scored a touchdown in Week 4 at Washington and finished with four catches for 44 yards. But before you think he's ready for a rebound, keep in mind the Eagles have a great secondary and will attack young quarterback Josh Johnson. Philadelphia comes into this game No. 2 in pass defense and will limit Bryant's production. Bryant also was only targeted five times, and even if the Bucs are playing from behind and throwing a lot, he is still dealing with a gimpy knee.
Josh Morgan (vs. ATL): It was good to see Morgan finally show up last week with two catches for 39 yards and a touchdown against St. Louis, and he has six catches for 86 yards in the past two games. But the Falcons join the Broncos as the only two teams yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing wide receiver, and Morgan is just too inconsistent to count on as a starting option. Is he worth picking up off the waiver wire in case he gets things going like last year? Yes. But wait until he plays at a high level for a couple of weeks in a row before you consider using him.
Bust alert: Santana Moss (at CAR): Moss is trying to duplicate an impressive feat. He scored a touchdown in three consecutive games to open the 2008 season against the Giants, New Orleans and Arizona, but it's hard to imagine him doing it again this week. He had 10 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown at Detroit in Week 3 and then two catches for 74 yards and a touchdown last week against Tampa Bay in games where we said to start him. But Carolina is among the best teams against opposing wide receivers, allowing only one touchdown through three games, and is No. 6 in pass defense overall. The Panthers are also coming off a bye and starting to get healthy in their secondary. Moss could struggle this week and revert back to his inconsistent ways.
Heath Miller (at DET): There are good matchups, great matchups and then dream matchups like this. The Lions are among the worst teams at defending tight ends and have allowed a league-worst five touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season. Last week against Chicago, the Lions gave up two touchdowns to Bears tight ends Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis. Miller is also coming off a two-touchdown game against San Diego and should be considered a great bye-week replacement. He has at least five catches in three of four games this year, and Ben Roethlisberger (and maybe even Mewelde Moore) should continue to look for Miller this week.
Vernon Davis (vs. ATL): It's taken Davis four years to earn this kind of recognition from Fantasy owners where he's owned in over 80 percent of leagues and started in over 50 percent heading into this matchup with the Falcons. And it's well deserved based on his play the past two weeks with 10 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota and St. Louis. He has another favorable matchup with Atlanta, which has allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season. Like Miller, Davis is a great bye-week replacement if you're missing Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey.
Brent Celek (vs. TB): Celek has started out as the best tight this season with two touchdowns, two games over 100 yards and at least six catches in the first three games. And now he gets Donovan McNabb back after he was hurt in Week 1 at Carolina. Celek has been targeted six times in the red zone through the first three games, and he should continue to remain a big part of the game plan each week. Celek should be considered a No. 1 Fantasy option the rest of the season.
Sleeper alert: Dustin Keller (at MIA): Keller should benefit with the addition of Braylon Edwards because an additional target on the outside will open up more space for him in the middle of the field. Keller has struggled the past two weeks with five catches for 55 yards against Tennessee and New Orleans after he had seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown in the first two games against Houston and New England. The Dolphins are one of the worst teams at defending the tight end. They were abused by Tony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark to start the season, and while Keller isn't in that class, he should be able to finish as a No. 1 option this week based on the matchup. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Visanthe Shiancoe (at STL), Brandon Pettigrew (vs. PIT) and Marcedes Lewis (at SEA).
Benjamin Watson (at DEN): The Broncos defense has played well this season, especially against tight ends. They have allowed only 10 catches for 93 yards against opposing tight ends through four games and no touchdowns. Last week, Jason Witten was held to four catches for 31 yards. Denver will be paying extra attention to Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but Watson has struggled since the first game against Buffalo when he had six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Since then, Watson has only six catches for 97 yards and no scores against the Jets, Atlanta and Baltimore. There are better bye-week replacements this week than Watson.
Kevin Boss (vs. OAK): You already know how I feel about Eli Manning this week that he'll be handing off more than throwing based on his foot injury. He has no need to tax himself in this matchup, and Boss is also dealing with an ankle injury. Boss has yet to score a touchdown this year, and the Raiders have yet to allow a passing touchdown to an opposing tight end. Boss hasn't topped 50 yards receiving since Week 1, and the Raiders are only allowing 50 yards per game to tight ends. This is a bad matchup on top of a bad scenario.
Todd Heap (vs. CIN): Heap has cooled off recently after scoring two touchdowns in the first two games of the season against Kansas City and San Diego. He only has eight catches for 87 yards against Cleveland and New England the past two weeks, and he could spend more time blocking this week against the Bengals with left tackle Jared Gaither (neck) expected to miss this game. Joe Flacco is playing well and keeping Heap involved, but he's just producing great Fantasy stats.
Bust alert: Kellen Winslow (at PHI): I didn't like Winslow last week with the move from Byron Leftwich to Josh Johnson at quarterback, and that carries over to this week as well. Winslow had just two catches for 21 yards last week at Washington in Johnson's first start, and Winslow only has five catches for 35 yards the past two weeks. The Eagles are a Top 5 team against opposing tight ends and have yet to allow a tight end to score a touchdown through three games. Winslow and Johnson will eventually get on the same page, but this is a difficult matchup for Winslow so keep him reserved in all leagues.
Miami (vs. NYJ): This isn't a great week for finding a DST off the waiver wire like we told you last week with our suggestions of San Francisco (vs. STL), Cincinnati (at CLE) and Houston (vs. OAK). The Dolphins could be one of those surprise teams if Mark Sanchez plays like a rookie for the second week in a row. He looked terrible at New Orleans with three interceptions and a fumble, and the Dolphins DST stepped up against the Bills with a defensive touchdown, three interceptions and six sacks. They may have found a star in linebacker Cameron Wake, who replaced the injured Joey Porter (hamstring) and got three sacks. The Dolphins could be a solid bye-week replacement DST.
Other DSTs with good matchups: Buffalo (vs. CLE), Dallas (at KC) and Indianapolis (at TEN)
Tennessee (vs. IND): This is more of a sit recommendation for the rest of the season since the Titans are still owned in 72 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com and started in 45 percent. While Tennessee has done a fantastic job against the run, the Titans can't stop anyone in pass defense. They have three interceptions and nine sacks, but their pass rush has been nonexistent and they have injuries in the secondary to Cortland Finnegan (hamstring) and Vincent Fuller (arm). This week is a good time to abandon ship with the Colts coming to town. Peyton Manning has passed for at least 300 yards each week, and there's little chance of the Titans doing much to stop him based on how the season has unfolded thus far.
David Akers (vs. TB): Akers has attempted two field goals in each of the first three games with five made kicks. He has 11 extra points, and the Eagles offense should return from the bye week ready to go with Donovan McNabb (ribs) and Brian Westbrook (ankle) expected to play. They should continue their offensive explosion, and the Bucs will have little resistance. Tampa Bay is the worst team against opposing kickers this season, allowing nine field goal attempts (eight made) and 12 extra points. This is a good week to start all your Eagles, including Akers.
Jason Hanson (vs. PIT): Hanson has started the season playing well with seven made field goals in seven attempts. Normally we would suggest starting Hanson at home because he kicks well in the dome. But the Steelers are No. 2 against opposing kickers with only three field goals allowed in six attempts. Last week, San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding had no field goal attempts and four extra points. Even with the Steelers defense struggling this year, it's hard to imagine Hanson kicking four extra points or many field goals. Ignore him in all formats.
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