Thank goodness the bye week madness is over, right?
Not so fast.
This week, in fact, is much worse for fantasy owners. Instead of four teams having off, we have six teams this week. This could pose a serious problem for your team.
Luckily, I am here to give all of you fantasy addicts some under the radar players that you should start, or stay away from. You know the drill by now, so let’s get it going.
All point totals and rankings are based on Yahoo! Fantasy Football.
Thumbs Up: Quarterbacks
Tony Romo @ Carolina Panthers: Owning Romo has been a roller coaster ride for fantasy players. There are ups, and there are most certainly downs (see Monday night’s debacle). However, it appeared that Romo found a rhythm on Sunday, as he threw for 261 yards and 2 scores. He found wide receiver Dez Bryant early and often, showcasing chemistry between the two. Also, Romo’s offensive line performed much better, allowing him to stand in the pocket and make the throws. This week, he travels to Carolina to face a defense that has been sporadic, at best. If you have a quarterback out on a bye, you could do a heck of a lot worse than Romo this week.
Josh Freeman vs New Orleans Saints: While Freeman is not necessarily an ideal fantasy signal caller, during the hectic bye weeks, he may be your best option. Luckily, he is coming off a monster performance where he threw for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns on Sunday. With his receivers coming into their own, Freeman’s confidence should continue to grow, especially when he realizes he faces the Saints this week. We are all aware of how awful New Orleans’ defense has been, so Freeman could be a pleasant surprise as a bye week filler for you.
Matt Hasselbeck @ Buffalo Bills: On Monday, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak announced that Hasselbeck will make his third consecutive start this week while Jake Locker continues to recover from a shoulder injury. Hasselbeck may not have the raw physical skills as Locker, but does possess veteran experience, limiting turnovers. And oh by the way, Hasselbeck faces the Bills this week, who have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. I like Hasselbeck as a bye week filler, and only that.
Cam Newton vs Dallas Cowboys: Newton has been another fantasy disappointment thus far. Could it be a severe case of sophomore slump? Who knows? But one thing for sure is his matchup this week is less than favorable. The Cowboys secondary is no joke, allowing just 181.6 passing yards per game this year. They also have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. While you may have to roll with Newton week to week, I’d temper my expectations this week.
Matthew Stafford @ Chicago Bears (Mon.): Remind me again why we all praised Stafford a fantasy god after just one good season? Drafted as a top five quarterback this year, Stafford has played nothing like it. He has just four passing touchdowns to five interceptions. While Stafford managed to put up solid fantasy numbers on Sunday, it took him 45 passing attempts to do so. He looked awful up until the fourth quarter. On Monday night, Stafford and company head to Soldier Field to take on the best defense in football, allowing the least fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. And have you seen how many touchdowns they have scored this year? I’d look elsewhere this week.
Thumbs Up: Running Backs
Chris Johnson @ Buffalo Bills: Alert the media. Alert the media. I actually like CJ2K this week? It appears so, and for good reason. Johnson is coming off a pretty nice Thursday night performance, where he rushed for 91 yards and caught four passes for 23 yards. Johnson stated that “the offense did a tremendous job in just getting in and pushing those guys back and giving me some room to run.” Seeing the star running back and his offensive line finally on the same page must be encouraging for fantasy owners. Now he faces the Bills, who have allowed 171.8 rushing yards per game. This is the third-most in football.
Trent Richardson @ Indianapolis Colts: While Richardson was diagnosed with a rib cartilage injury, he says he fully expects to be active on Sunday. As long as he plays, he should be in every single lineup, especially due to the matchup. T-Pain gets the horrid Colts run defense, who were absolutely torched by fantasy zombie Shonn Greene. If Greene can run for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns against them, I can’t wait to see what Richardson, a more dynamic and explosive runner, can do.
Darren McFadden vs Jacksonville Jaguars: McFadden has also been a bit of a disappointment for fantasy owners to start the season. There have been rumblings that the former Razorback doesn’t fit the team’s zone-blocking scheme. However, McFadden is still one of the most talented backs in all of football and has a terrific matchup this week. Jacksonville has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing runners in 2012, so expect a big time bounce-back game from Run DMC.
Frank Gore vs Seattle Seahawks (Thurs.): Sunday was a complete disaster for Gore and company. His team was blown out as he only carried the ball 8 times, causing concern for fantasy owners. The San Francisco 49ers started the game with a pass-oriented offensive game-plan and didn’t look back, which hurt Gore’s production. While they should revert back to the ground game on Sunday, it won’t be easy to succeed. The Seahawks defense is scary good, allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Shonn Greene @ New England Patriots: Don’t buy into Greene’s monster game on Sunday. First of all, it was against the Colts, a team renowned for being awful against the run. Secondly, it was one of the worst tackling performances I’ve seen in quite some time. This week, Greene faces division rival New England, who surely won’t allow that kind of production at home. If you haven’t sold high on Greene by now, bench him.
Thumbs Up: Wide Receivers
Marques Colston @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: We are all aware of how often Colston and quarterback Drew Brees hooked up during that historical Sunday night game.
The past two weeks, he has 18 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Now, coming off a bye, Colston has had time to rest that nagging foot. It seems it is not an issue anymore, which makes him even more explosive. Start Colston with confidence as he faces the Bucs secondary that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
Vincent Jackson vs New Orleans Saints: Staying in the same game, Jackson also has been coming on as of late. He has scored in three of the last four games and is continuing to develop chemistry with quarterback Josh Freeman. The Saints have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Having said all of this, I also like fellow wide receiver and waiver wire darling Mike Williams. As all games involving the Saints defense, this could be a shootout.
Kenny Britt @ Buffalo Bills: As long as he is healthy, Britt is the go-to-guy in the receiving game for the Titans. Coming off a 4 catch, 62 yard, 1 touchdown performance, including 11 targets, Britt is beginning to make some strides. He faces the Bills, who can’t stop the run or the pass this year. Let’s just hope Britt can catch the ball.
Torrey Smith @ Houston Texans: I dislike Smith this week based on the guy who is throwing him the ball. Joe Flacco heads to Houston to face an angry defense that was torched on Sunday night for 6 touchdowns. Flacco has some serious issues on the road, throwing for less than 250 yards in his past 5 road games. The Texans defense will be ready to go, and I think Flacco and his receivers will struggle.
Michael Crabtree vs Seattle Seahawks (Thurs.): Did I mention the Seahawks defense is very good? They may not be at home this week, but are still a top ranked defensive unit in football. This hurts the value of Crabtree, who is coming off a poor performance on Sunday. Seattle is very tough on receivers, only allowing four touchdowns to wideouts so far this season. With quarterback Alex Smith struggling, I think Crabtree will as well.
Thumbs Up: Tight Ends
Aaron Hernandez vs New York Jets: Now that he is back from injury, Hernandez should be quarterback Tom Brady’s main red zone target. That means touchdowns for fantasy owners, just like last week where he scored on a fade route. Note that he had limited snaps during that game. This week against the Jets, who are giving up the twelfth-most fantasy points to tight ends, Hernandez should see way more snaps, making him a nice option.
Scott Chandler vs Tennessee Titans: While Chandler may be a bit inconsistent, he is still Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target in the red zone, which is we he is known for scoring touchdowns. This week, he has as good a chance as ever to add to his tally. The Titans are the most generous team in football to opposing tight ends, making him a very nice play.
Fred Davis @ New York Giants: Davis was one of my fantasy sleepers coming into this season. With a new quarterback and Chris Cooley out of the picture, I figured he would see all of the targets. However, that has not been the case. What’s even more troubling, is his touchdown drought, which now sits at seven games. Don’t expect it to end this week, as Davis faces the Giants, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, and have yet to surrender a touchdown to the position.
Jermichael Finley @ St. Louis Rams: How in the world can you trust this guy? First off, he is still dealing with a shoulder injury, and saw limited snaps Sunday night. Then, we hear that he is bad mouthing Aaron Rodgers, and appears to struggle building chemistry with him. Really? On top of it all, he faces the Rams this week, who have been tough on opposing tight ends. Keep Finley out of your lineup.
Thumbs Up: D/ST
Oakland Raiders defense vs Jacksonville Jaguars: With six teams on a bye, you may be forced to look deep into the waiver wire for a defense this week. Not a big name by any means, but Oakland could be a nice sneaky play here. Last week, the Raiders picked off Matt Ryan three times, and held that high powered Falcons offense to just one touchdown. This week, they get the Jaguars, who’s only offensive weapon is running back Maurice Jones-Drew. If you are in need of a bye week filler, the Raiders defense can get the job done this week.
Minnesota Vikings defense vs Arizona Cardinals: The Purple People Eaters are back as a top ranked defense in fantasy this year. They are ranked in the top 10 among scoring defenses and face the Cardinals this week. Arizona will be without starting quarterback Kevin Kolb, after suffering a rib injury. The Cardinals offensive line is one of the worst in football, so expect Jared Allen and company to get after replacement John Skelton, forcing him to make mistakes.
Baltimore Ravens defense @ Houston Texans: The Ravens defense hasn’t been as vaunted as it once was. Now that they have lost both Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season, Baltimore’s defensive unit is now favorable for opposing teams. Scary thought, isn’t it? I’d stay away from the Ravens defense this week. Also, I really hope this isn’t the last we have seen of Ray Lewis.
St. Louis Rams defense vs Green Bay Packers: All of a sudden, the NFC West has become the best defensive division in football. Including the Rams. However, despite how good they have been as of late, the matchup here is terrible. Green Bay comes into town after decimating the Texans defense. Aaron Rodgers threw for 6 touchdowns as the offense was clicking on all cylinders. Don’t risk playing a good defense against one of the most explosive offenses in football.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.