Welcome to this week’s start/sit for fantasy quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DST). But first I know you’re really interested to see how I did last week, so let’s take a look shall we.
Start Ryan Tannehill (27.58 fantasy points) – A lot of you thought I was crazy, but I look pretty good right now. Tannehill is back being a QB1 moving forward.
Start Philip Rivers (27.44 FP) – Rivers was terrible in the first half and saved himself in the second half in last week’s loss to Oakland, which is all you should care about in fantasy football.
Sit Sam Bradford ( 7.8 FP) – If you are going to start Bradford you need to make sure he has the perfect matchup. He didn’t last week against the Carolina Panthers.
Sit Matthew Stafford ( 18.74 FP) – Stafford has really cleaned up his act since he was benched back in Week 5. He played really well against a decent Vikings defense.
I did warn you against starting Brian Hoyer against the Miami Dolphins. However, the Texans are so bad (trailed the Dolphins 41-0 at halftime) and play from behind so much that Hoyer is an excellent starting fantasy quarterback because of all the passes he gets to throw. He had 21.92 fantasy points last week.
Teams on bye: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Washington
START THESE QBS...
Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. TB)
Ryan was drafted as your QB1, but he’s played more like a QB2 as the likes of Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown have both been more productive fantasy-wise. Ryan has been an excellent real life quarterback, but in fantasy land he’s only scored 20 fantasy points once this season and has thrown only nine touchdown passes in seven games. Of course it doesn’t help Ryan that Roddy White is no longer the player he once was and that Julio Jones has been banged up for most of the season. Throw in the emergence of Devonta Freeman and the Falcons haven’t had to ask Ryan to do that much. This week Ryan and the Falcons host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their defense that has allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. This is the game that Ryan throws for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Teddy Bridgewater, MIN (at CHI)
Bridgewater is coming of his best game of the season where he threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns. The whole Vikings offense has really picked things up in the last few weeks and a lot of that can be attributed to the emergence of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs has easily become Bridgewater’s favorite target and a bona fide playmaker. With Adrian Peterson still commanding the defense’s attention, Bridgewater is slowly making a case for himself as a low-end QB1 for the rest of the season. He’s definitely a QB1 this week against the Chicago Bears, who are near the bottom (30th) in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Look for Bridgewater to at least match his numbers from last week.
Philip Rivers, SD (at BAL)
In terms of fantasy production there has been no better quarterback over the last month than Rivers. He’s now the fourth-highest fantasy scorer at his position thanks to his amazing second half last week against the Raiders. This week Rivers gets the pitiful Baltimore Ravens and their defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Through the first six games of the season, half of the quarterbacks facing the Ravens have scored 26 or more fantasy points. You’ll be able to add Rivers to that list after this week’s game.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Brian Hoyer, HOU (vs. TEN)
Thanks to the Texans’ awful defense, Hoyer is a virtual must-start every week because he puts up such gaudy numbers in the second half in garbage time. Ever since re-claiming the starting job from Ryan Mallett in Week 8, Hoyer has scored at least 20 fantasy points in three straight games. The only thing holding Hoyer back this week is that the Texans are playing Tennessee. The Titans are unlikely to be leading 21-0 at halftime or at any point in the game. This will mean fewer opportunities for Hoyer to air it out against soft coverage and instead, he will be more of a game manager because the Texans might actually be able to win this game.
SIT THESE QBs...
Peyton Manning, DEN (vs. GB)
Hopefully by now you realized that drafting Manning in the second or third round clinging to the notion he would be the No. 18 of old was a bad move and you’ve helped yourself out by picking up another quarterback. If not, you might want to do that – now. Manning has a 72.5 passer rating on the season, that’s the second-lowest (Ryan Mallett, 63.5) among qualified QBs. Manning also has a 7:10 TD-to-INT ratio, which is not good. The Broncos might be 6-0, but they really haven’t played anyone yet, and they’ve won those games thanks to their defense, not their offense. Now the schedule gets a whole lot harder for Manning and the Broncos and it starts this week when the Green Bay Packers come to town. The Packers are in the middle of the pack in fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks and are very opportunistic when it comes to turnovers, something that Manning has specialized in this year.
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. NYJ)
Carr has shown flashes of brilliance this season and is definitely one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. Last week he dominated the San Diego Chargers, scoring 23.86 fantasy points thanks to 289 yards passing and three touchdowns. But it’s best to temper expectations this week with the New York Jets coming to town. The Jets have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and even though they allowed Tom Brady to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns last week, that’s Brady and Derek Carr isn’t Brady.
Colin Kaepernick, SF (at STL)
Heading into last week, Kaepernick has managed to quiet all his critics by scoring 20 fantasy points in back-to-back games against the Giants and Ravens. Then last week he played against a real defense and looked terrible, scoring only 4.96 fantasy points. What this means is that Kaepernick is only worth starting based on matchups and this week he plays the St. Louis Rams, who have been the second stingiest in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Another long afternoon is in store for Kaepernick, so stay away this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Aaron Rodgers, GB (at DEN)
Rodgers and the Packers are traveling to Denver this week after their bye for what should be a really good game. Rodgers has been average at best his last three games – scoring 16.26, 17.54 and 19.60 fantasy points respectively. Those numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t the elite numbers that we’re used to seeing from Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. This week in Denver, Rodgers and company are in for a real test against the Broncos and their No. 1-ranked defense. The Broncos have given up the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and even though Rodgers is as good as they come, he is going to have a hard time putting up big numbers in this game.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
St. Louis Rams (vs. SF)
The Rams DST had an incredible game last week against the Cleveland Browns, scoring an outstanding 25 fantasy points thanks to four sacks, four fumble recoveries and one touchdown. This week St. Louis gets to face Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. While it’s highly unlikely that the Rams can score another 25 fantasy points this week, you can bet that this DST will score double-digit fantasy points for sure because the 49ers are giving up the third-most fantasy points to DSTs this season.
Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI)
It always helps when a team defense is playing against Jay Cutler because you never know how bad Cutler could be. Thanks to Cutler, the Bears are near the top (fourth) in fantasy points give up to DSTs on the season and the Vikings’ defense has played very well as of late. If you stream DSTs, this is the one to grab this week.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. CIN)
Heading into last week believe it or not the Steelers were one of the best run-stuffing defenses in all of football. Then Kansas City backup Charcandarick West ran all over them for 110 yards and one touchdown. This week the Steelers get to play a well-rested Cincinnati Bengals team that has been one of the best offenses in all of football so far in 2015. You can bet that Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and even Jeremy Hill are going to have big games on Sunday. Get rid of the Steelers DST this week and try a better option.
New York Giants (at NO)
The Giants DST is coming of a big game against the Cowboys, making Matt Cassel’s first start a tough one on the way to scoring 22 fantasy points. This week will be different, as the G-Men head to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints’ offense has really come to life over the last few weeks and at home, you can bet that Brees and company will have another big game. So keep the Giants on the sidelines this week.
— 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.