Sunday, September 28, 2014

Last Minute Fantasy Start'ems and Sit'ems: Week 4

Donald Brown (the guy getting tackled) is not a very good football player... You should start him anyway this week.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe) with a cameo from Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin)

Greetings everyone.

I am currently in Pittsburgh getting ready to watch the Steelers host the Bucs, so this week's Fantasy Football advice also features Jeremy's picks. Last week went much better for my picks than two weeks ago, as my quarterback Kirk Cousins had a career day against the Eagles and… Ok, I didn't really hit any home runs other than that, but hey, baby steps.

Anyways, here are your weekly start'ems and sit'ems for Sunday's games.


Joe's Quarterback:
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Matchup: vs. Tampa Bay, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Last week I had you sit Big Ben, but promised you could start him this week against Tampa Bay. I'm a man of my word, and Roethlisberger actually had a more than respectable game against Carolina last week, throwing a pair of touchdowns against one of the league's best pass defenses.

The Bucs are not one of the league's best pass defenses, as they've allowed Carolina backup Derek Anderson to smoke them for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns, St. Louis 3rd-stringer Austin Davis to complete 76% of his passes for 235 yards and, of course, gave up 290 yards and three touchdowns to barely three quarters of Matt Ryan.

I actually think this game will be closer than most, mainly because Tampa Bay is getting healthier and Pittsburgh is dealing with some key injuries on defense, but Roethlisberger should get speedy Dri Archer and reliable Lance Moore back into the fold this week and put up some big numbers.

Jeremy's Quarterback: 
Tony Romo, Dallas
Matchup: vs. New Orleans, Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

New Orleans' pass defense has looked suspect when the opponents quarterback is not Matt Cassell. We all love to dump on Tony Romo, but he's decidedly better than Matt Cassell. Dallas has enjoyed running the ball a lot so far this year, but if New Orleans hops out to a big lead (and considering the Cowboys defense, that's more likely than not), Romo could spend most of the second half throwing deep to Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams. 

Joe's Running Back:
Donald Brown, San Diego
Matchup: vs. Jacksonville, Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

Suddenly Donald Brown is a must-start, at least as a "Flex" player, after the injuries to Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead. It's not that Brown is good, he's not, but the Chargers now have no other options for carries, and they're facing the worst team in football at home.

Oh yeah, and said worst team in football will be making a West Coast road trip, something that trips up even the best of teams from the Eastern Time Zone. This one could be a blood bath, and if Brown gets 20+ touches, he'll put up big numbers almost by default.

Jeremy's Running Back:
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis
Matchup: vs. Tennessee, Sunday at 1 p.m.

There are two Indianapolis running backs, but this is the one you want. Sooner rather than later, Indianapolis offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is going to realize that Bradshaw is averaging 6.0 yards per carry to Trent Richardson's 3.8, and that Bradshaw is a much more versatile weapon on third down (namely, he's capable of pass protecting and receiving at an NFL level; Richardson is not). Bradshaw has topped 80 yards from scrimmage in all three games this season, and has tacked on three receiving touchdowns in the last two. Richardson will continue to get goal line carries (unless he starts fumbling again, which, knowing Richardson, might happen at any minute), but Bradshaw is the higher-upside play. 

Joe's Wide Receiver:
Steve Smith, Baltimore
Matchup: vs. Carolina, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Carolina doesn't allow a ton of yards passing (just over 200 a game) but last week undersized receiver Antonio Brown burned the Panthers for 90 yards on 10 catches, scoring a pair of touchdowns.

The key there is the 10 receptions, as savvy, quick receivers can do serious damage underneath the Carolina secondary, and Smith is about as savvy as they come, and still pretty darn quick.

Plus, this is against the franchise he was the face of for years that unceremoniously kicked him to the curb this offseason. You know he'll be ready to play.

Jeremy's Wide Receiver:
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco
Matchup: vs. Philadelphia, Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

Boldin was once a steady fantasy wide receiver back in his Arizona days, when he would see 10-12 targets every game. Over the last handful of years, however, he's become a hit-or-miss guy. He had 85 catches for nearly 1200 yards last year, but over 25 percent of that production came in just two games - Week 1 (when pretty much nobody played him) and Week 17 (when most leagues have already ended). Not exactly a banner fantasy year.

This year probably won't be much different - he'll end the year with a good-looking line, but most of the numbers will be pocketed in just two or three games. This can be a frustrating trend for fantasy owners (every Mike Wallace owner ever is nodding grimly right now), but this week might be a good time to roll the dice. Philadelphia's pass defense is abysmal, and Colin Kaepernick has to get on track eventually. Boldin will either be targeted seven times and only catch two balls for 23 yards, or he'll go over 100 and score twice. There's no in-between. But I'm willing to gamble.  


Joe's Quarterback:
Ryan Tannehill, Miami
Matchup: vs. Oakland in London, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Tannehill seems to always put up "just enough" fantasy points to be a decent starter, but with the Dolphins coming apart at the seams and playing a defense that held Tom Brady in check last week, you have to have a better option than Tanne-thrill… Don't you?

Also, did you know that the Raiders are the 4th best pass defense in the league right now? Seriously, look it up. Plus, this is one of those weird foreign games, and I have no faith that Tannehill will be able to overcome all the tea and crumpets he's offered.

Jeremy's Quarterback:
Cam Newton, Carolina
Matchup: at Baltimore, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Cam Newton got absolutely beat up last week. He was sacked three times, hit or knocked down twice as often. And that was against a Pittsburgh team that had a lot of trouble rushing the passer in their first two games. The Carolina offensive line is in shambles, and not helping matters is that Newton's passer rating on throws not targeting Kelvin Benjamin is currently -421.61 (approximately). If Baltimore can take away Benjamin and unleash Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, Newton could end up running for his life on a bad ankle. Not good times. Bad times.  

Joe's Running Back: 
Joique Bell, Detroit
Matchup: at NY Jets, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Joique owners love that he's involved in the potentially explosive Detroit offense, earning double-digit carries every game this year, along with at least two targets in the passing game each week, but the production just hasn't matched the opportunity.

He'll always have the chance to punch in a touchdown or two, but if he only averaged 2.2 yards per carry in a game Detroit was looking to put away against Green Bay, why should you beieve in him going against the best rush defense in football this week?

Methinks the Lions will lean heavily on their potent passing game, and Bell will be left out in the cold touches-wise.

Jeremy's Running Back:
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay
Matchup: at Pittsburgh, Sunday at 1 p.m.

There's a two-fold reason for this.

First, he's coming back from an injury. The last time he looked 100 percent was Week 2 of last year against New Orleans (29 carries, 144 yards). In his five games since, he's carried the ball 83 times for 256 yards, an average of 3.1 per carry.

Secondly, he's going up against a Pittsburgh team who took a big lead against Carolina last week and ended up holding them to just 42 yards rushing. Considering Tampa Bay has held a lead for less than fifteen minutes this season through three games, I wouldn't exactly expect Martin to be salting away a lead late in the fourth quarter.

Joe's Wide Receiver: 
Eric Decker, NY Jets
Matchup: vs. Detroit, Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Lions have a great pass defense (3rd in the league) and the Jets are not so good with this whole forward pass thing. Having Geno Smith as your quarterback will have that effect.

Meanwhile, the usually reliable Decker is dealing with a hamstring injury. Health and a terrible matchup make him a guy you should only start if you absolutely have to.

Jeremy's Wide Receiver:
Mike Wallace, Miami
Matchup: vs. Oakland in London, Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Remember above when I talked about how Mike Wallace will go games at a time without doing anything? This is going to be one of those games. In one of the most shocking statistics you'll hear all day, Oakland is actually 4th in the league in passing yards allowed. Granted, they're 31st in rushing yards allowed because teams build up big leads and just spend the entire second half running the ball, but that's not the point here. The point is that teams don't throw on them that effectively, and Wallace is a feast-or-famine receiver anyway. Put two and two together, and leave Wallace on your bench.

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