About a third of the way into the season and we are really starting to get a better idea of who is for real and who isn't, not to mention that injuries are forever-changing the landscape of this game.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Julio Jones, and Mark Sanchez are done for the year. David Wilson is done for awhile. Christian Ponder might be healthy enough to play, but for the rest of us, he's just done. When injuries happen, fantasy owners scramble. These are some examples of players that you may not want to be running for this week based on some pretty terrible matchups, injuries, and otherwise.
Football Outsiders ranks the Bengals as the fifth-best pass defense in the NFL so far this year. Traditional stats pretty much agree with that; Cincy has allowed just six touchdown passes in five games and faced the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler.
And even if none of that were true, this is Thad Lewis on the Bills that we are talking about here.
The Seattle pass defense may appear vulnerable in the last two weeks, but those games came on the road against quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub (always lead with the better one) and receivers like Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, and Reggie Wayne.
They are a different mode of beast at home, and even during Schaub's downfall he's far ahead of Fitzpatrick.
Denver's defense might seem vulnerable and hey, maybe Henne does get to air it out for 300 yards in a 30-point loss, but you aren't going to risk that right?
Whether it's Cassel, Christian Ponder, or Josh Freeman, it's still going to be a QB that has mostly struggled in the last two years against a stiff pass defense. Carolina might be 1-3, but not for lack of defense.
Might as well get him in here at least one more time before he's benched. Despite an offense that now features at least five good-to-great offensive weapons around him, Schaub has been abysmal. At least Tony Romo seems to win some of the time.
If T.J. Yates was even half-decent, he'd be in the bottom five instead of Schaub.
Believe it or not: The Browns have allowed two touchdown passes through five games. If Calvin Johnson is out, or even limited, Stafford could be in for a very scoreless day.
In his first career start he scored a pair of touchdowns against a suspect Vikings defense. In his second career game, he faces the Jets, who lead the league with only 3.0 yards per carry allowed. If New York is for real and the Steelers are for fake, it'll be a lot of Ben Roethlisberger by halftime.
31. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars at Broncos
How far the mighty mouse hath fallen. MJD is struggling this year, the Broncos are allowing 3.3 yards per carry, and there won't be much time for running the ball anyway in a game that's sort of like a wedding with a very active caterer:
It's got a 28-point spread.
(I'll be here all day)
Ravens have allowed one rushing touchdown all year and I think the Packers have rushed it once all year.
29. Zac Stacy, Rams at Texans
He may be asserting himself as the lead dog for the Rams after a nice game against Jacksonville, but Stacy is questionable this week and it's too early to anoint him as anything.
This probably won't be a very popular choice, but the Cardinals boast a top-five rush defense in both advanced and standard metrics. It could be a day for Colin Kaepernick to finally move the offense for the first time since Week 1.
Another unpopular choice, the Bucs may seem like a disaster but they are still one of the best run defenses in football. In fact, Football Outsiders ranked the 2012 team as one of the best run defenses ever. They're still really, really good and this could be the first real struggle of the season for McCoy.
Then again, maybe Chip Kelly will know just how to attack the Bucs, even without the quack.
32. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals at 49ers
Despite getting a much-improved QB this year, Fitzgerald's numbers have not rebounded all that well. He hasn't topped 80 yards in any game yet this season and two of his three touchdowns came in Week 1. Is there just something wrong with Fitzgerald or are defenses just doing a good job of blanketing him and opening up Michael Floyd?
Yes or no, the 49ers have tightened up their pass defense since Week 1, allowing only two passing touchdowns the last four weeks.
31. Calvin Johnson, Lions at Browns
And on the other side of the ball we have another elite receiver from the aughts. Except this one might have an even tougher road than Fitz.
Johnson missed last week, is questionable, ailing, and preparing to face off against Joe Haden if he does play. As said before: Cleveland has allowed two touchdowns through the air all year.
The rookie is coming off of a career-game (115 yards and a touchdown) so why not plug him in right now as he makes his Monday Night debut? Indianapolis has allowed four touchdowns and seven interceptions this season and are ranked fourth against No. 1 wide receivers this season by Football Outsiders.
So if you consider him the number one now...
29. Josh Gordon, Browns vs Lions
Going back to Brandon Weeden after things were so splendid with Brian Hoyer isn't going to be easy for anyone in Cleveland. In addition to that, Detroit is 7th against No. 1 receivers. It might be time for more and more Jordan Cameron, which isn't a bad thing for them but could be detrimental to you.
28. Jerome Simpson, Vikings vs Panthers
Simpson has shown promise throughout his career but always seemed to be held back by just about anything that would pop up at the most inopportune times. The unfortunate thing this time around might be Matt Cassel or that the Panthers have handled number one receivers quite well.
Surpriser of the Week: Anquan Boldin, 49ers vs Cardinals
Another one that SF fans might not like, Patrick Peterson is perhaps the most underrated all-around player in football. Kaepernick and the passing offense has struggled and this might just be a very low-scoring game. Good if you're playing the team defense for SF or AZ but bad if you are expecting big offensive numbers from almost anyone involved.
Yes, I drafted him too. Yes, I'm excited. Yeah, I'll start him this week if he plays.
It's still a risk, this is a player that hasn't been on the field in 10 months and it's risky to start him in his first game back. It would also be risky to bench him, since Gronk did score eight touchdowns in his last five games last season.
Greg Olsen, Panthers at Vikings
Minnesota has played well against tight ends this season and Olsen may be held in the 50-yard range without a touchdown.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings vs Panthers
Conversely I have similar feelings about Rudolph, but he's an even scarier play right now. I had hesitations about Rudolph going into the year because his value was so heavily-tied into touchdowns and those fears seem to be legit.
Brent Celek, Eagles at Buccaneers
Celek has been a good spot-play in fantasy but this might not be the best week to spot him. The Bucs are a top-10 defense against tight ends.