Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who's Hot and Who's Not for Week 10

It's week 10 of the regular season and only two teams have a bye this week, the Houston Texans and New York Giants. While it is only two teams on bye, the number of players you might be missing could be pretty long: Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Slaton, Ryan Moats, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and possibly Kevin Walter. Check out below to see who you can replace them with for this week.

General Note: These recommendations don't necessarily mean you should bench your studs like Maurice Jones-Drew and Drew Brees in favor of them. It just means that if you are looking to cover your bye week deficencies or want to play someone else in place of a poor matchup, you should consider the players below. Also, I'm changing the format this week due to only two quarterbacks missing. This week you're getting one quarterback and three running backs for each section. Hope it helps! Good luck!

Start 'Em!


Mark Sanchez (NYJ) vs. Jacksonville

Sanchez started this season by being voted Rookie of the Week for the first three weeks of the regular season and then his prolific start suddenly came to a halt until week seven against Oakland. Though he only had 16 pass attempts in that game, he made the most of them, throwing for 143 yards and a touchdown, with another score on the ground, bring his rushing touchdown total to three on the year. Sanchez then followed up that game with his week eight performance against Miami, throwing for two touchdowns and over 250 yards, again adding a touchdown on the ground. Though he does have 10 interceptions this year, eight of them came in two games against extremely stingy pass defenses. This week, Sanchez has the fortune of facing the miserable Jags defense, who are allowing the 7th most yards through the air (242.2 per game) and 9th most points to the opposition. This looks like prime pickings for the rookie who will look to help raise the Jets potential contention for a playoff spot. Though his team certainly favors the run (they're first place in yards per game on the ground), Sanchez's efficiency in the air will be a great boon, especially in the red zone. Expect a solid game from the quarterback, especially with Jacksonville having to concern themselves with the powerful Jets run duo of Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene.

The Line: 25 attempts, 16 completions, 190 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 4 carries, 16 yards rushing

Running Backs:

Jonathon Stewart (CAR) vs. Atlanta

Carolina is on a role. Finally they are preventing errors in their offense simply by keeping the ball in the hands of their deadliest weapons, DeAngelo Williams and Stewart. This week they face a defense that ranks 24th against the pass, allowing an average of 123.5 rushing yards per game. The Panthers have the 3rd best ground game in the league, courtesy of their dual-headed attack. This week, Stewart should be featured more in the run game after having an "off" week against the crushing defense of the Saints. While Williams was able to break it big, Stewart had a tough time crushing through the tacklers for those extra yards. Now that he gets to go against a much weaker defense, he should see some more touches and some goal line work as the Panthers look to going for 4-5 this season, as they slowly pick themselves back up after stumbling through the early season.

The Line: 10 carries, 45 yards rushing, 1 rushing touchdown

LeSean McCoy (PHI) vs. San Diego

Brian Westbrook sitting out this past Sunday had people scrambling to start his replacement and he gave them 115 yards from scrimmage in return. While he didn't find pay dirt, McCoy showed that he is an ample replacement for Westbrook both on the ground and in the receiving game, pulling in five receptions for 61 yards. Though Westbrook may be back this week, McCoy should still be the more explosive option, especially if the Eagles intend on looking forward with McCoy as the foundation of next year's running game. Even if he is held to the same number of touches as Westbrook (which would be very unwise of Andy Reid), McCoy will still be a strong starter against the 7th worst rushing defense in the league, with a lot of his value coming in the passing game. Expect solid numbers that make McCoy a worthwhile starting option as a flex player and in deeper formats.

The Line: 13 carries, 52 yards rushing, 7 receptions, 65 yards receiving

Knowshon Moreno (DEN) vs. Washington

Monday night's game against the Steelers was a tough one for the rookie rusher, gaining only three yards on five carries. He had a hard time gaining any momentum, evidenced by his longest run going for a measly four yards. This week the Broncos should be ready to rebound against the horribly confused Redskins, who are 25th in the league against the run. Moreno will hopefully see some work in Denver's "Wild Horses" formation, which served him well against the Patriots earlier this year. If the Broncos want to break their two-game losing spell, it will have to be done on ground level, as the Redskins currently have the No.1 ranked pass defense. Look for Moreno to run with fervor, trying to prove he deserves the starting role opposite Buckhalter, who was clearly more productive on Monday, being given runs to the outside. Moreno's explosive qualities should also play a factor in the passing game, though he needs to improve his blocking on passing downs. He's a good flex option and starter in 14+ team leagues.

The Line: 12 carries, 51 yards rushing, 1 rushing touchdown, 2 receptions, 22 yards receiving

Wide Receivers:

Percy Harvin (MIN) vs. Detroit

Harvin is the fourth rookie on the list this week and deservedly so. He has risen after lackluster outings to become one of Brett Favre's go-to receivers, running opposite the behemoth Sidney Rice. The greatest advantage this week is Harvin's matchup against the Ford Kittens, who are allowing the second most yards in the air and the second most points per game. Expect Favre to have another banner day, benefiting Harvin greatly. The Minnesota defense should ensure plenty on playing time for their offense and the divisional matchup is bound to become another nail in the coffin for Detroit. Watch for Harvin to run wild downfield, with big plays and incredible speed equating to strong yardage and a likely visit to the end zone.  Feel free to play Harvin in all formats this week.

The Line: 7 receptions, 98 yards receiving, 1 receiving touchdown

Tight End:

Zach Miller (OAK) vs. Kansas City

There's almost no arguing that Miller is the only receiving threat for Oakland, despite the attention paid to rookie receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Kansas City ranks even lower than the Raiders in their division, so this matchup doesn't mean much other than the Raiders finally not being last place.  Though it's not much in terms of glory, it's certainly better than last place.  Maybe this is the year that the Raiders are not the worst team in football.  If that is to be the case, Jamarcus Russell has got to feed the ball to the talented tight end.  While he won't post amazing numbers in a far-too-pathetic-to-be-worthwhile offense, his potential to rein in some start-worthy numbers is certainly tempting, especially in such a good matchup.

The Line: 4 receptions, 34 yards receiving, 1 receiving touchdown

The Risky Play

Reggie Bush (NO) vs. St. Louis

In 2006, Bush was lined up to be the future back for the Saints, but since then he has averaged an overall 3.7 yards per carry and no more than six rushing touchdowns in a season, which was his rookie year.  However, all during the past four years, Bush's name has been synonymous with the Saints organization and he has still managed to rack up four touchdowns on the ground this year on 49 attempts.  This week he ought to see some decent action against one of the worst defenses in the league, especially with Lance Moore dealing with ankle issues.  This means that Bush should line up in the slot, taking in a few catches as he goes.  It wouldn't be surprising if he broke the goal line on a carry or reception this week and will be valuable in PPR leagues.  Play him as such or in deeper formats.

The Line: 7 carries, 22 yards rushing, 1 rushing touchdown, 5 receptions, 40 yards receiving

Sit 'Em...


Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. Carolina

Ryan's slump has come as the Falcons have faced a number of tough pass defenses, namely those of New Orleans and Washington.  This week he's up against the 6th ranked Panthers defense.  In week two, Ryan passed for three touchdowns and only one pick, but expect things to look a little different this week since Carolina has been winning games and finding a rhythm.  In addition, the Falcons will likely lean on running back Michael Turner to do most of the damage.  Though Roddy White and Michael Jenkins are strong receivers, the Carolina defense can surprise if they're motivated, which they will be.  The last meeting left the Panthers with a loss of 28-20; this week should be a whole new beast - after all, the Panthers were able to challenge the dominant Saints last week.  It might be worth sitting Ryan just this week in favor of a stronger matchup, though he is still certainly playable in larger leagues.

The Line: 28 attempts, 15 completions, 201 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions

Running Backs:

Cedric Benson (CIN) vs. Pittsburgh

There's no denying that Benson's productivity has been a major story line in the NFL this year after his disappointing seasons with the Chicago Bears.  Now, with the Bengals, Benson has been a fantasy beast, but the Steelers are the one team that may be most bestial than the prodigious running back.  The Steelers rank number one against the run and have allowed only two rushing touchdowns this year, all while holding opposing backs to an average of 3.7 yards per carry.  Though in their week three matchup Benson carried the ball 16 times for 76 yards, giving him a 4.8 yards per carry average, the Steelers will come prepared this time.  In week three, the Bengals were just beginning to gain momentum and teams were unprepared for their offense.  This time around, the Steelers should be more than ready to crush the ground game, especially with Troy Polamalu in the mix.  You may not be interested in benching Benson this week after all he has done for you, but just don't be surprised if he comes up with merely pedestrian numbers.

The Line: 20 carries, 71 yards rushing, 1 reception, 14 yards receiving

Kevin Smith (DET) vs. Minnesota

I've tried so hard to spin a positive light on the Lions' "workhorse," but there's just no hope at this point.  With the Vikings hosting the Lions this week, you've just got to bench Smith for a better matchup.  Like the Steelers, the Vikes have allowed only two touchdowns on the ground with the 6th best rush defense in the league.  That opposite the 20th ranked rush offense of the Lions just does not bode well for Smith. In their last meeting, Smith averaged 3.5 yards per carry, carrying the rock 24 times for 83 yards.  Unless Smith carries the ball over 30 times (which let's be realistic, would never happen), he's not going to produce a useful fantasy day, especially considering the number of other options out there.  Go ahead and universally sit Smith this week in favor of a stronger matchup back, such as the above Bush or other secondary back in a more prolific offense.

The Line: 17 carries, 33 yards rushing, 1 reception, -2 yards receiving

Matt Forte (CHI) vs. San Francisco

The stat to worry you: San Francisco is allowing an average of 3.4 yards per carry.  This has given the Niners the 4th ranked run defense and this week they are going to be swarming all over Forte, who is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry.  In addition, Forte's only truly productive outings came against the pathetic defenses of Denver and Cleveland.  Owners are exhausted with the sophomore, who continues to pull in terribly meager numbers.  There was a spark of something special last week against Arizona, but he was most useful in the passing game, where San Francisco is slightly more vulnerable.  Like the above Smith, Forte should only be started in larger formats or as a flex option, but unless Jay Cutler wants to give Forte the pigskin through the air, chances are that the running back will have a very grounded day.

The Line: 13 carries, 44 yards rushing, 3 receptions, 21 yards receiving

Wide Receivers:

Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. Oakland

We all know by now how pathetic the Raiders are on offense, with a run defense to match, but their best kept secret is the strength of the pass defense.  After all, no one expects much of anything from Oakland these days, though fantasy owners are fond of picking on the defense for matchups.  Oakland has some strength in its secondary, which has given it a top 15 pass defense that allows an average of only one touchdown through the air per game.  They held Andre Johnson to a merely human 66 yards in week four and have had similar performances against star wideouts in other weeks.  Bowe does have the previous matchup in his favor, during which he totaled 56 yards and a touchdown on five catches when the Raiders bested the Chiefs in week two.  This time, with Chambers in the mix, Cassel should be spreading the wealth and coverage should catch up with Bowe.  Still start Bowe in most formats if you must, but don't be surprised if his day is less than stellar.

The Line: 4 receptions, 47 yards receiving

Calvin Johnson (DET) vs. Minnesota

Fantasy Fact: It's been a tough year for Megatron.  The monstrous Detroit star wideout has suffered from a knee injury and things has started to come apart between him and rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford.  The Vikings are not the best team to be up against when you've just spent the last weekend in a spat with the man who feeds you the ball.  Look for another week of paltry numbers from a receiver you probably spent a round three pick on.  It may be worth exploring matchup options, but sometimes it's difficult to bench a star like Johnson.  If you're one of those people, prepare to lament as you have over Megatron's last few matchups.

The Line: 2 receptions, 41 yards receiving

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