Certain guys must be in your starting lineup, while others you should probably avoid.
You know the drill, so let’s get started.
Remember, obvious names such as Drew Brees and Arian Foster will not be mentioned in this series.
Thumbs Up: Quarterbacks
Joe Flacco @ Kansas City Chiefs: The word “elite” has often been brought up when talking about Flacco. Is he or not? I don’t know , but from a fantasy perspective, he has been pretty darn close. Flacco is ranked in the top ten among fantasy points from quarterbacks and has a very favorable matchup this week against the Chiefs, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points top opposing signal- callers this year. While he is dealing with an ankle sprain, it has been reported as minor. He will be starting for his team on Sunday and should be starting for yours as well.
Phillip Rivers @ New Orleans Saints: The Saints defense is bad. Really bad. While Rivers hasn’t put up mind-boggling fantasy numbers, he is still a top quarterback in the league and is a must start against this defense, who are giving up an average of over 20 points to quarterbacks this season. This Monday night showdown has all the signs of a potential shootout, so start Rivers with confidence.
Eli Manning vs Cleveland Browns: Manning has been consistently good so far this season and has a chance to be great come Sunday. The Browns are still without Pro Bowl caliber cornerback Joe Haden and have been allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Keep in mind, Manning has been producing without Hakeem Nicks being healthy. Needless to say, Manning is set to have a very nice fantasy day.
Matt Cassel vs Baltimore Ravens: Cassel has struggled with ball security this season, which is a good reason why his team is 1-3. He has 10 giveaways after four weeks (7 interceptions and 3 fumbles). There have been rumblings out of Kansas City that his starting job could be in jeopardy if he continues to struggle. Regardless, Cassel should be on the bench this week against the Ravens, who are well, the Ravens. Enough said.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ San Francisco 49ers: Fitzpatrick is leading the league in touchdown passes this year. What a fantasy stud, right? Hold on just a second. He is also tied for the league lead in interceptions. Unfortunately, he could very well add on to that total after Sunday’s game against the 49ers. In case you live under a rock, San Francisco’s defense is very good and will likely get after the Amish Rifle. Being ranked in the top ten fantasy quarterbacks, this may be a good sell-high opportunity.
Thumbs Up: Running Backs
Frank Gore vs Buffalo Bills: Did you see how awful the Bills run defense was last week against the New England Patriots? They allowed both Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden (go ahead and Google him) to rush for over 100 yards and and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Gore has been very solid this year and will most likely get a large workload this Sunday.
Marshawn Lynch @ Carolina Panthers: Lynch has been one of the top fantasy running backs in football this year. The Panthers have the worst run defense, allowing the most points to running backs. Simple, right? The former Cal back has tallied at least 90 total yards in every game this season. The Seattle Seahawks hardly ever pass the ball, so I expect Lynch to go beast mode this week.
Michael Bush @ Jacksonville Jaguars: During Monday night’s victory over the Cowboys, Bush received the carries late in the game to kill the clock. He may get that opportunity again this week against the Jags, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs in 2012. While Matt Forte should get the start, he will definitely not get overworked. Expect Bush to receive a significant amount of touches, especially in the red zone.
Fred Jackson / C.J. Spiller @ San Francisco 49ers: Both backs are still coming off injuries, and the 49ers run defense is the best in football. Need I say more? I didn’t think so.
DeAngelo Williams vs Seattle Seahawks: You simply cannot trust any running back that resides in Carolina. This is especially true this week, as the Seahawks have given up the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing backs this year. They have only allowed two touchdowns all season. Having said all of this, I dislike Williams and Jonathan Stewart this week.
Steven Jackson vs Arizona Cardinals (Thurs.): Where oh where did the time go? I remember a time when Jackson was an elite running back in this league. Not so much anymore. Jackson has a very difficult matchup this week against a very good Cardinals defense. It also doesn’t help that he has a shorter week to rest that groin of his. Jackson has yet to eclipse 60 rushing yards in any game this year and I don’t like his chances to change that come Thursday night.
Thumbs Up: Wide Receivers
Roddy White @ Washington Redskins: No one in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Redskins. No one in the NFL has a more explosive offense than the Atlanta Falcons. See what I did there? White ranks second in wide receiver fantasy points and should have continued success against a Redskins defense that has allowed 121 fantasy points to wideouts in the past three weeks.
James Jones at Indianapolis Colts: Jones is coming off a very nice game on Sunday where he caught 5 balls for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Not only that, but he and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are continuing to build chemistry. So far this season, Jones has caught 16 of 23 passes thrown to him. He has a nice matchup this week against the Colts, who are in the bottom ten in fantasy points allowed to wide-outs. Jones is especially a good play if Greg Jennings remains sidelined with a groin injury.
Reggie Wayne vs Green Bay Packers: Wayne is quietly a very good option for fantasy owners this week. He is playing a Packers secondary that is allowing the 12th most fantasy points to wide receivers. But that’s not why I like him in this game. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has been targeting him like crazy so far this season. Wayne is averaging 14.3 targets per game and will continue to get the looks. Also, Indianapolis is likely to be behind, which could result in some garbage time points for Wayne.
Pierre Garcon vs Atlanta Falcons: Garcon’s foot is still not 100 percent and the matchup is not all that great. Wide receivers have only scored twice against the Falcons this year and the fact that his foot is still an issue concerns me.
Andre Roberts @ St. Louis Rams (Thurs.): Raise your hand if you predicted Andre Roberts to have a better start to the season than Larry Fitzgerald. If you raised your hand, you’re a liar. Roberts already has four touchdowns this season, but he may see a road block come Thursday night. The Rams secondary is very good, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers thus far.
Thumbs Up: Tight Ends
Antonio Gates @ New Orleans Saints (Mon.): Any skill players you own from the San Diego Chargers should be in your starting lineup this week. Although the Saints have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends, do not let that discourage you. This game has shootout written all over it, and Gates, as always, should be Phillip Rivers‘ main target.
Kyle Rudolph vs Tennessee Titans: Although he is coming off a poor performance (2 catches for 8 yards), Rudolph is set to have a huge bounce-back game this Sunday. No team has been more generous to opposing tight ends this year than the Titans, and quarterback Christian Ponder has been targeting him all year.
Martellus Bennett vs Cleveland Browns: While Bennett has been very productive so far, his matchup is something to be cautious of. The Browns have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and Bennett is coming off a terrible game where Eli Manning hardly targeted him. If you have other options, I’d use them this week.
Heath Miller vs Philadelphia Eagles: Miller is off to a red hot start to the 2012 campaign. He has scored a touchdown in every game this season. However, Miller may cool off this Sunday against the Eagles, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. They shut Martellus Bennett down on Sunday night, holding him to just one catch for three yards.
Thumbs Up: D/ST
Houston Texans defense vs New York Jets (Mon.): Remember back in Week 1 when the Jets put up 48 points? Yeah, that is definitely a thing of the past. Now they head to Houston to face arguably the best defense in football in the Texans. Between Santonio Holmes out for the season and Mark Sanchez playing terribly, the Texans will rack up the points for your fantasy team.
Chicago Bears defense @ Jacksonville Jaguars: You saw what the Bears defense did to Tony Romo and company on Monday night, right? There is no reason they shouldn’t be capable of doing the same, and then some, to Blaine Gabbert. Chicago has scored the most fantasy points among defenses so far this year and will continue to please owners.
Seattle Seahawks defense @ Carolina Panthers: While the Seahawks are normally a powerhouse defense for fantasy owners, I have a strong hunch that they may disappoint this week. Cam Newton and company saw a game slip away from them last week and will come out angry. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers put up a significant amount of points against Seattle.
San Diego Chargers defense @ New Orleans Saints (Mon.): The Bolts defense may be coming off an explosive fantasy day on Sunday, but they will have some trouble come Monday night, as they head into the Superdome. With the 0-4 Saints still looking for their first win, the Chargers defensive unit will have to dig deep to slow down Drew Brees and company.
Adam Pfeifer is a fantasy football columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.