While some fantasy owners are breathing a sigh of relief, others are panicking for one last time. This can only mean one thing.
The end of the bye week blues.
That’s right, we are already approaching Week 11, indicating the final slate of bye weeks. There may only be four teams missing for this week, however, there are some significant players to replace for fantasy teams.
The fantasy playoffs are just three short weeks away. Need a win? Let me help you get one for this week and beyond.
Thumbs Up: Quarterbacks
Carson Palmer vs New Orleans Saints: Palmer has quietly been a top tier fantasy quarterback this season. There are so many things to like about him, especially this week against the Saints. We know how bad their defense is, but Oakland’s isn’t much better. What does this mean? Shootout. Palmer already throws a ton of times each week and he could be in line for 50 attempts this week. The guy has thrown for 782 yards the last two weeks, so expect him to eclipse 1,000 on Sunday.
Andrew Luck @ New England Patriots: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; His last name has nothing to do with his play. Luck has been a waiver wire darling in most fantasy leagues. This week, he gets the Patriots in what could be a potential shootout as well. On D, The Pats have allowed opposing quarterbacks to eclipse 325 passing yards five times this year and Luck could easily make that six.
Matthew Stafford vs Green Bay Packers: Stafford is finally starting to give owners who drafted him a vote of confidence. He is coming off a very nice game where he threw for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns. This week isn’t the greatest match on paper, but let’s go next level. The Packers have allowed four 300-yard passing game in the past six weeks, two of which coming against sub-par quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert, John Skelton). Green Bay could be ahead during this game, giving Stafford opportunity to sling the ball around all day.
Phillip Rivers @ Denver Broncos: Rivers is clearly struggling this season, as he has turned the ball over more than he has scored (15 TDs, 18 turnovers). This week he faces division rival Denver. And oh by the way, six of those turnovers came during that Monday night collapse back in Week 6. Unless you are forced to play him, I’d look elsewhere , as Rivers could be crying one come Sunday.
Joe Flacco @ Pittsburgh Steelers: There are many rules when it comes to fantasy football. One of those rules is to NEVER trust Flacco when he is away from home. It never bodes well for owners, especially this week against a tough Steelers defense, who are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing signal callers. Don’t expect a repeat performance of last week.
Sam Bradford vs New York Jets: Bradford surprised many people on Sunday, as he threw for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns in a tie against the 49ers. And yes, I did just say a tie. Temper your expectations a bit this week. The Jets are allowing the 7th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, and it is very difficult to trust Bradford.
Thumbs Up: Running Backs
Doug Martin @ Carolina Panthers: Martin has come out of nowhere as of late, establishing himself as a top five fantasy running back. This rookie certainly isn’t playing like one, as he ranks 2nd in touchdowns (7) and 4th in rushing yards (862). Next up, he faces divisional foe Carolina, who are allowing the 6th-most fantasy points to running backs. Martin had just 95 yards against them in Week 1. However, he is much better now, so expect a very nice day out of him.
C.J. Spiller vs Miami Dolphins (Thurs.): In the beginning of the year, everyone saw exactly what Spiller can do when given the carries. This week, with Fred Jackson out with a concussion, Spiller will get his chance to show the world on the prime time stage. While this may be a tough matchup against a very stout Dolphins run defense, Spiller is a stud and needs to be started. The guy has been on the bad end of a timeshare and still ranks 7th in fantasy points among running backs.
Marcel Reece vs New Orleans Saints: It looks like both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson will be out again this week, skyrocketing Reece’s fantasy value. Forget about Taiwan Jones, this backfield belongs to Reece. He has a perfect matchup to prove it, as the Saints have given up the third-most fantasy points to runners in 2012. I especially like Reece in PPR leagues, as he has 15 catches in the last two games.
Jonathan Stewart vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: “The Daily Show” has done next to nothing since becoming the main back in Carolina. Wait, main back? The guy has just 18 carries in the past two games! Stewart has yet to score a touchdown all year and is a risky play, especially against the Bucs run defense that is ranked first in all of football.
Rashad Jennings @ Houston Texans: Although Jennings will continue to see majority of the carries until Maurice Jones-Drew returns, I wouldn’t trust that he will produce. His team’s offense seems to go three and out almost every drive and can hardly ever get anything going. That trend should continue this week against the Texans, one of the best defenses in football.
Thumbs Up: Wide Receivers
Eric Decker vs San Diego Chargers: Fantasy owners are better off forgetting about the lackluster performance from Decker on Sunday. He is sure to bounce back this week against the Chargers, a team he lit up for 98 yards and a score. It is safe to say that I also like Demaryius Thomas this week as well.
Reggie Wayne @ New England Patriots: Wayne is in for an absolute monster game on Sunday. The Patriots have surrendered 13 touchdowns to wide receivers this season, and with all of the targets he is getting (a whopping 112 on the year), Wayne will have plenty of opportunity. The former Hurricane has yet to be held under 70 receiving yards on the year and has an ideal chance to stay above that number.
Denarius Moore vs New Orleans Saints: Anyone seeing a pattern here? Lots and lots of Raiders players and for good reason. The Saints defense is a fantasy paradise for opposing wide-outs. Moore has found the end zone in four of his last five contests and has a great chance to continue the hot streak.
Dwayne Bowe vs Cincinnati Bengals: Look, I personally love Bowe as a receiver. However, the inconsistency of the offense, especially at quarterback, really hurts his fantasy value. This week, Bowe has an okay matchup against the Bengals, but expect Leon Hall to be blanketing him. Is Bowe capable of having a good game? Sure, it’s just hard to trust him.
Michael Crabtree vs Chicago Bears (Mon.): Crabtree has been on a bit of a tear lately, scoring three touchdowns in the past two games. So, why don’t I like him? Well, for starters, the matchup is terrible, as the Bears are allowing the 7th-fewest fantasy points to receivers. Also, nobody knows what the quarterback situation looks like right now, so I’d stay away from Crabtree this week.
Thumbs Up: Tight Ends
Antonio Gates @ Denver Broncos: If you held onto Gates this long, you need to keep starting him, especially this week. Last time these two teams squared off, Gates hauled in two touchdowns. The Broncos just allowed Greg Olsen to go off for 100 yards and two scores, so Gates should be in line for a good game.
Brent Celek @ Washington Redskins: Celek has really been hit or miss this season, but the matchup this weekend is very good. The Redskins are allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends this year. Not to mention, rookie quarterback Nick Foles will get the start and could check down to his tight end quite a bit.
Dennis Pitta @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Well welcome back to fantasy relevance, Mr. Pitta. On Sunday, Pitta had 67 yards and a score, but I wouldn’t get too excited about him this week. Pitta and company head to Pittsburgh, who are very tough on tight ends, especially at home.
Scott Chandler vs Miami Dolphins (Thurs.): Chandler is coming off a very nice game on Sunday, hauling in 5 balls for 65 yards and a score. However, I’d look to stay away come Thursday night. Chandler is usually hit or miss, resulting in poor fantasy numbers unless he scores. His chances of scoring this week are slim, as last week, the Dolphins allowed their first touchdown to a tight end all year.
Thumbs Up: D/ST
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense @ Kansas City Chiefs: With three good fantasy defenses on a bye, the Bucs make for a great fill in this week. Anyone who plays the Chiefs has a great chance of succeeding, especially since Matt Cassel is a turnover machine. The Bucs are coming off a very strong performance where they had a pick six and a blocked punt for a touchdown. Expect a strong performance from this defensive unit come Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons defense vs Arizona Cardinals: The Falcons defense hasn’t been great in fantasy land lately, but this week’s matchup is quite favorable. The Cardinals are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this year, and the fact that the Falcons are at home makes it even better.
Philadelphia Eagles defense @ Washington Redskins: There really is no hope for the Eagles defense. I mean, changing their defensive coordinator appears to have made things worse. This week, I expect little to no fantasy points from this unit. Robert Griffin III and company will come out angry and fresh after the bye, so I expect the Redskins to put up some points.
San Diego Chargers defense @ Denver Broncos: The Bolts have been a top-five fantasy defense this season, however, I’d look elsewhere. They head to Denver to face red hot Peyton Manning and company, a team allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football expert for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.