Start Blake Bortles (25.94 fantasy points) – If the Jaguars are going to always be playing from behind, Bortles is going to keep putting up decent numbers.
Start Philip Rivers (28.12 FP) – He threw for over 500 yards, which is insane, and yet the Chargers still lost.
Plus I warned you against starting Peyton Manning. He just looks so bad out there these days.
Sit Cam Newton (21.6 FP) – He didn’t really light it up, but he played extremely well on the road in Seattle.
Teams on bye: Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay
START THESE QBS...
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. HOU)
Coming off the bye week and with a new head coach, Tannehill had one of his better games this season, which is saying something because he was rather erratic but still managed a respectable 18.04 fantasy points against the Titans. It looks as if the Dolphins are finally going to be more focused on running the ball, which will limit Tannehill’s opportunities, but it also will limit his mistakes. This week the Houston Texans come to town and so far this season they have given up the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Look for Tannehill to score over 20 fantasy points in this one.
Philip Rivers, SD (vs. OAK)
Rivers is hot right now. He threw for 503 yards last week in Green Bay and the week before he put up 365 in a Monday night home loss to Pittsburgh. Rivers has scored at least 20 fantasy points in each home game this season and that trend is going to continue this week against the Oakland Raiders. It also helps Rivers’ cause that the Chargers cannot run the ball, especially given Melvin Gordon’s fumble issues. In order for the Chargers to win this game, you can bet there is going to be a lot of balls thrown to Antonio Gates. Look for Rivers to go over 300 yards passing again with three touchdowns.
Carson Palmer, ARI (vs. BAL, Mon.)
It’s true that this is basically a no-brainer, but maybe you drafted Palmer as your QB2 and are trying to figure out what to do with him. It’s easy – start him against the Baltimore Ravens. Palmer will be airing it out all game against a Ravens defense that has yielded 11 passing touchdowns and 286.2 passing yards per game. Plus they have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. You might be worried that since the Cardinals might have such a big lead by halftime that Palmer might not do much in the second half, which might be true. But if this is the case, keep in mind how the Cardinals got that big lead. It’s possible that Palmer has over 200 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first two quarters alone.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Blake Bortles, JAC (vs. BUF, London)
Is it time to start believing in Bortles as a fantasy QB1? He might not be leading his actual team to many victories, but if you’ve been starting him in fantasy, he’s probably been leading your fantasy team to a few wins. Bortles has scored over 25 fantasy points in each of his last two games, going over 300 yards passing in each of those games. This week the Jaguars are in London to face the Buffalo Bills, whose not-so-stout passing defense is sixth in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks this season. The only negative against Bortles this week is the Bills might be starting EJ Manuel, which means that the Jaguars won’t be facing a huge late-game deficit that they will have to climb out of. Regardless, Bortles is worth at least streaming this week if you need a QB.
SIT THESE QBs...
Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. MIN)
You probably are inclined to start Stafford this week after his 405 yards passing and four touchdowns last week against the Chicago Bears, but don’t forget that the week prior, Stafford was benched after he threw three picks and locked terrible. Stafford has really struggled this season against good defenses scoring 10 or fewer fantasy points versus Denver, Arizona and Seattle. This week the Minnesota Vikings come to town and the Vikings have been very good against the pass. Minnesota is near the bottom in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season. Don’t look for Stafford to push the ball downfield to Calvin Johnson in this one. Stafford’s focus instead will be on not turning the ball over. Stay away from Stafford this week.
Sam Bradford, PHI (at CAR)
Bradford’s roller-coaster season continued on Monday night, as he played a terrible game against the New York Giants in what many expected would be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Instead he managed 280 passing yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Now Bradford and the Eagles have a really tough matchup on the road against the undefeated Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have an elite pass defense and have been stingy when it comes to fantasy points allowed (sixth fewest) to opposing quarterbacks. Look for Chip Kelly to rein in Bradford this week and rely on DeMarco Murray and the running game to try and pull one out on the road.
Josh McCown, CLE (at STL)
McCown may not be the quarterback that you want leading your favorite NFL team onto the field every week, but he has been a steady fantasy surprise so far. McCown did play pretty well last week against the Denver Brocnos and their league-leading pass defense, but don’t expect that to be the case two weeks in a row. Cleveland travels to St. Louis to play a well-rested Rams team coming off their bye week. The Rams have surrendered an average of 13.16 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season and it is highly unlikely that McCown breaks that trend.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Brian Hoyer, HOU (at MIA)
Since re-claiming the starting quarterback job two weeks ago, Hoyer has been very productive. He’s averaging close to 300 yards passing and two touchdowns per game. It also helps that all he has to do is throw the ball in the general direction of DeAndre Hopkins and he knows the catch will be made. This week however things are going to be tough for the Texans, as they face a refueled Miami Dolphins team that had six sacks last week. Look for the Dolphins to pressure Hoyer all game forcing him to make bad decisions and dump the ball off quickly. Don’t expect a 300 yard passing game this week.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
St. Louis Rams (vs. CLE)
The Rams have faced a tough slate of opposing offenses through five games, yet have been able to maintain production as a top-10 fantasy DST. Now the schedule lightens up, starting this week as the Cleveland Browns come to town. The Rams have recorded 19 sacks already this season and look for that trend to continue this week against Josh McCown.
Pittsburgh Steelers (at KC)
The Steelers get a bad rap for not being able to defend the pass and most think that they have a “vanilla” defense. Well, believe it or not the Steelers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game this season to running backs. This week they play at Kansas City, who will be giving the ball to Charcandarick West and Knile Davis in the absence of an injured Jamaal Charles (torn ACL). Once the Steelers bottle up Kansas City’s ball carriers and take a big lead, the Chiefs will be forced to let Alex Smith air it out to stay in the game, and he might not have Jeremy Maclin (concussion) to throw the ball to. If you steam DSTs, the Steelers are the D you want this week.
SIT THESE DSTs...
New York Jets (at NE)
The Jets are first in the league in scoring defense at 13.8 points per game, which is great, but won’t do them any good against the highest-scoring team in the NFL, the New England Patriots. So far this season Tom Brady and the entire Patriots offense has looked unstoppable, so you’re better off finding a different DST to start this week and hold onto the Jets for Week 8 when they play the Oakland Raiders.
Baltimore Ravens (at ARI, Mon.)
Anyone out there who is still holding on to the Ravens’ glory days when they were an elite defense, needs to wake up. The Ravens can barely defend the run, and look like pylons trying to defend the pass. They’ve scored 11 total fantasy points in the last three weeks combined. This week they travel to Arizona to play Carson Palmer and the Cardinals’ air-it-out attack. Stay far, far away.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.