Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 15

In fantasy football you just have to trust your best players. If you were a Tom Brady or Alvin Kamara owner in the first round of the playoffs, it may have been your last week in the postseason. If you survived, however, count your blessings. Either way, you can’t blame yourself for starting those guys.

Thursday’s action pits the Broncos against the Colts. You won’t want to start either quarterback and the running backs are low-end flex options at best. You might get lucky with C.J. Anderson or Frank Gore plunging into the end zone on a goal line situation. Otherwise, the only real decent players to start are T.Y. Hilton and Demaryius Thomas. Hilton is definitely a boom or bust type player. Like I said, though, sometimes you have to trust your best players. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 15.

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Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: He’s been fully cleared to return to action and if you held him on your team this whole time then now’s the time to insert him into your starting lineup. Don’t worry about rust. He has a tough matchup against the Panthers, but he was a QB1 in every week but the one in which he was injured. Relax.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: The last time he faced the Texans he wasn’t very special. The Jaguars leaned on their running attack in that contest. In his last six games, however, Bortles has attempted at least 27 passes in each of those contests. He has six touchdowns and just one interception over his last three games.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: He’s had to face tough pass rushes in each of his last three games and it’s shown up in the box score. Cousins should have a decent game against the Cardinals this week. He’s only had one game in which he didn’t throw a touchdown pass.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: Hyde has been a consistent, although quiet, scorer all season long. The amount of touches he gets provides for a nice minimum score every week. Though he has a tough matchup against the Titans, the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo can open things up for the running game.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: He’s had two straight 100-yard games and has a great matchup against the Bills this week. Weather may be a factor, so he may end up with more carries than usual.

Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks: It looks like the Seahawks have finally found a running back they can trust. The Rams give up a lot of points to running backs. Davis has 36 touches over his last two games. He’s dealing with a rib issue, but if he practices near the end of the week, you should start him.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Nelson hasn’t been even a good flex option since Week 6. With the return of Rodgers, Nelson’s value get a big boost. The Panthers are tough, but Rodgers-to-Nelson is often matchup proof.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders: The Cowboys’ defensive backfield has started playing better lately, but Crabtree should have a decent game Sunday night. Amari Cooper is in danger of missing the game with an ankle injury so Crabtree could end up getting more targets than usual.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: The rookie returns from his one-game suspension and Martavis Bryant didn’t do enough last week to supplant him as the No. 2 receiver on the team. Smith-Schuster has a nice matchup against the Patriots this week.

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: He had just one catch last week, but it went for 20 yards. I’d expect him to continue to be targeted on deeper routes. Seals-Jones has a nice matchup with the Redskins.

Lions defense/special teams: The Lions are coming off a nice game and scored a touchdown the last time they faced the Bears.

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Jared Goff, QB, Rams: He had a tough time the last time he faced the Seahawks, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 5. There are better options than Goff this week, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he comes out with a decent game as Robert Woods returns.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: Mariota has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in each of his last three games. His mobility may suffer as well as he deals with a minor knee sprain. With not a lot of reliable receiving weapons, I don’t like him in a good matchup with the 49ers.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: The Bengals are in a tailspin so I probably don’t have to tell you to sit Dalton. Have no doubt that he’ll have a rough day against a very good Vikings defense.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He scored two touchdowns against the Falcons the last time he faced them. That was on just five carries. I wouldn’t bank on him having that kind of success again this week. The Falcons are in the top third in limiting running backs in fantasy scoring.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions: Abdullah is still dealing with a neck injury, but it’s apparent that his poor play is part of the reason he’s not being rushed back into action. He may be active this week, but don’t insert him into your lineup with Theo Riddick having a bigger impact recently.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles: Though he has a good matchup this week, it’s starting to look like Jay Ajayi will be a bigger factor for Philly. Blount has 15 carries over his last two games while Ajayi had 15 last week.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: He hasn’t had a decent game since Week 11 and the Falcons are a tough matchup this week. If any receiver has a good game this week for the Bucs, it will be Mike Evans.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: The Rams face the Seahawks and Robert Woods is likely returning to the field. With Cooper Kupp and Woods in the picture, I think Watkins will be the odd man out.

Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens: He’s been hot as of late, but the last time he faced the Browns he was targeted just three times and made one catch for seven yards.

Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Though he’s healthy enough to play, he hasn’t looked like the player we’re used to. He hasn’t had a good game all year, even before his injury.

Trey Burton, TE, Eagles: He was great with a healthy Carson Wentz and an injured Zach Ertz last week. Those circumstances have changed, obviously.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 14

The Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints to kick off Week 14 and the first week of the fantasy football playoffs. The Saints backfield is in the midst of a historic run as the tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara continue to produce big numbers. They’ve each scored more than five touchdowns and gained 95+ yards from scrimmage per game. If they finish the season that way, they’ll be the first duo to do that since Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in 1987.

It looks like they’ll both finish with an RB1 designation for the season so they’re obvious starts on Thursday. That is, of course, if Mark Ingram is healthy enough after not practicing Wednesday. Michael Thomas has been solid all year and is a nice safe play, though he may not score very high. Julio Jones, on the other side of the field, is likely to bounce back from a tough matchup with the Vikings last week. Matt Ryan should be a safe play, but picking between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is a tougher call. Here’s who else you should start and sit in Week 14.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 14 rankings.

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Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: He finally started to look like the quarterback that started the season. Smith has a nice matchup this week, facing the Raiders who he torched last time around.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: Winston can make you pull your hair out with the types of decisions he makes. That said, he did well last week as he returned from a shoulder injury. Winston has a decent matchup with the Lions.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Unless he’s facing a top-tier pass defense, he’s a productive fantasy quarterback. He has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last six games.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Running against the 49ers has been pretty easy this season. Miller should have a nice performance.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys: When the Cowboys stick to the game plan that they use when Ezekiel Elliott is playing, they have success. They did that last week, giving Morris the ball 27 times as he gained 127 yards and scored. The Giants are in the bottom third in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He rushed for over 100 yards last week and Doug Martin is still in the concussion protocol. Even if Martin plays, Barber has done well enough to warrant a flex start in a nice matchup against the Lions. Add to that, the Bucs are out of the playoff hunt and may want to see what they’ve got in Barber as a featured runner.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Don’t worry about a tough matchup with the Redskins pass defense. Allen is playing like he can when fully healthy. Don’t sit him now.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Goodwin has put together a few solid games in a row and with Jimmy Garoppolo now starting, his value gets a boost. The Texans have a tough time stopping wide receivers.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders: He caught a touchdown the last time he faced the Chiefs, but he had just 24 yards receiving. I expect him to do better than that against a weak pass defense. Amari Cooper might even be out this game, as he is currently in the concussion protocol.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: The Giants are the worst team when it comes to defending tight ends. The last time Witten faced the Giants he caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.

Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Henry has a wide scoring range, in that he can get you zero points or he could get you double digits. This week he should do well against the Redskins who are in bottom five in points allowed to tight ends.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets: Seferian-Jenkins should do well against the Broncos who have given up eight touchdowns to tight ends so far this season.

Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers: Winston is back, giving Brate newfound relevance.

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Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: He’s coming off a great game against the Lions and has had success with Mike Wallace, but he faces the Steelers this week. They’re too good for Flacco to have fantasy success.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: I just haven’t seen him play that well against really good defenses. He’s struggled against the Seahawks, Jaguars and Vikings. Goff faces the Eagles next.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: If you streamed him last week against the Colts you were rewarded. Don’t try it this week against the Seahawks.

Eagles running backs: It’s a shame, since they have such a good matchup as they face the Rams. They give up 122.8 yards rushing per game, but divided evenly among three rushers does not make for a good fantasy performance.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: The Texans aren’t that good against the pass, but they try to make up for it with their run defense. They’re in the top-10 in rush defense. The 49ers will possibly let Jimmy Garoppolo loose on a weaker pass defense.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: He has a tough matchup with the Panthers, who are one of the top teams in points allowed to running backs. Plus, Latavius Murray has at least 15 rushes in seven straight weeks.

Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens: Wallace has been good in spots this season, better than Jeremy Maclin. I don’t expect him to have much success against the Steelers this time around.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Kenny Stills has surpassed Parker as the No. 2 receiver on the team. Even with a decent matchup against the Patriots, there’s no reason to think he’ll break out this week.

Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: Amendola hasn’t produced when he’s had favorable matchups and Chris Hogan may return this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: He’s been a minor disappointment and he has a tough draw, taking on the Panthers this week.

Tyler Kroft, TE, Bengals: Kroft has been a nice surprise, but he has a tough matchup against the Bears this week. They’ve only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this season.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 11

The Tennessee Titans travel to Pittsburgh as they take on the Steelers to kick off Week 11 of NFL action. We’re getting down to the playoff push in fantasy football and your start-sit decisions are critical.

In the opening game of the week you should be safe starting Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. I wouldn’t be afraid of giving Ben Roethlisberger the nod either. Leave Marcus Mariota on the bench, however. The only Titan I feel comfortable starting this week is DeMarco Murray. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 11.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 11 rankings.

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Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: The Patriots weren’t in as much trouble as we thought they were to start the season, but their pass defense is still the worst in the league in terms of yards allowed per game. Carr has had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots and has thrown for at least 300 yards in three straight games.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: I’ve talked about his expected regression a lot this season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been solid. He’s just not putting up the great numbers from last season. This week he should do well against the Seahawks as they’re without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Ryan’s thrown at least two TDs in three straight games.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks to throw a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game, Sunday, November 12, 2017, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 27-7. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: If Tyron Smith returns to the field for the contest with the Eagles then Prescott should return to his QB1 status. If the Cowboys fall behind, as you may expect against the streaking Eagles, Prescott is likely to throw a lot. If he gets the protection he’s used to, he could be productive.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: With Devonta Freeman likely out as he recovers from a concussion, Coleman should be productive against the Seahawks on Monday night. He did well in relief against the Cowboys in Week 10, rushing for 83 yards and scoring a touchdown.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants: Darkwa has 30 carries and 141 yards rushing over the last two weeks. If he can find the end zone this week, he could be a solid play. He faces the Chiefs run defense which has allowed 131 yards rushing per game and nine rushing touchdowns.

Orleans Darkwa #26 of the New York Giants stiff-arms Adrian Colbert #38 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: I suggested him as a start last week and that turned out well as he rushed for 90 yards and scored against the Lions. This week he faces the Jaguars who are nearly as bad against the run as they are good against the pass. They give up 121 yards rushing per game. Game script should be in Crowell’s favor as you don’t expect the Jags to jump out to a big lead.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: The Vikings take on the Rams in an interesting matchup this week. I don’t expect either team to run away with the win, so both running games should stay relevant. The Rams allow 118 rushing yards per game, 24th in the league.

Eagles receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz all have an opportunity to shine against the Cowboys Sunday night. Dallas gives up 248 yards receiving per game and will be without defensive leader Sean Lee.

Philadelphia Eagles’ Alshon Jeffery scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars: He’s had a nice run over the last two weeks and gets to face the Browns this week. They’ve given up 19 touchdown passes which is tied for second worst in the league.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: The last time he faced a low-ranked pass defense he broke out for 11 catches and over 200 yards receiving. That was against the Chiefs in Week 7 and the Patriots give up more receiving yards per game.

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Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: He should sit this week as he faces the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They give up just 182 yards passing per game and have surrendered just eight touchdown passes. Without a true No. 1 wideout, Mariota will likely struggle.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He’s currently in the concussion protocol, but even if he’s healthy enough to play, it’s not a good matchup as he faces the Bills defense. Buffalo has allowed just seven touchdowns through the air and has picked off 11 passes.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Taylor had his worst game last week as he threw for just 56 yards. The performance was so bad the Bills have decided to give Nathan Peterman a shot. The Chargers give up 209 yards passing per game and are tied for second in the league with 29 sacks so neither Bills QB would be a solid play this week.

Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball as Alex Okafor #57 of the New Orleans Saints attempts to tackle him during the fourth quarter on November 12, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins: Though Rob Kelley has been shut down, I don’t think Perine is an automatic start as he faces the Saints this week. They give up a good amount of rushing yards, but they’ve only given up five rushing touchdowns this season. Perine has had opportunities earlier in the season and didn’t do much with them.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys: He’ll get the start again with Ezekiel Elliott still suspended, but he shouldn’t start for your fantasy team this week. The Eagles rushing defense gives up just 66 yards per game and has surrendered just four touchdowns on the ground.

Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins: Kenyan Drake is the running back to play if you’ve got to choose between the leftover running backs in Miami now that Jay Ajayi is gone. Williams rushed nine times for just 19 yards on Monday night and the Bucs only allow 110 yards rushing per game.

Mike Adams #29 of the Carolina Panthers tackles Damien Williams #26 of the Miami Dolphins during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: He’s had two disappointing games in a row and the Falcons give up 219 yards receiving per game. Doug Baldwin may be the only wide receiver you want to start for the Seahawks.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: A disappointment early on this season, he’s only been productive over the last two weeks due to scoring in each of those weeks. The volume is still lacking as he’s only had three catches in the last two games. The Vikings are a tough draw and Robert Woods seems to be the new No. 1 in Los Angeles.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: It’s probably next to impossible to sit him for those that drafted him early, but he’s been a quarter of the fantasy player he was with Aaron Rodgers. The Ravens are second-best in receiving yards allowed.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 9

The Buffalo Bills take on the N.Y. Jets to kick off Week 9 of NFL action on Thursday. If the Bills come away with a win they’ll be tied for the best record in the AFC at 6-2.

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor must have confused Halloween for Christmas when he learned his team traded for Kelvin Benjamin. The addition of the big target is an immediate upgrade at the position. The new Bill probably won’t play Thursday, but I still like Taylor to start. Of course you’ll start LeSean McCoy as well. On the other side of the ball, Matt Forte is an OK flex play. Here’s a look at who else you should start and sit in Week 9.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 9 rankings.

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Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He didn’t throw a touchdown pass against the Steelers in Week 8, but he amassed 423 passing yards. Don’t worry about him too much. He’ll get the ball in the end zone against the Packers this weekend.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) passes under pressure from Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Before last week’s tough weather conditions, Cousins had four straight great fantasy games. He’s facing Seattle on the road this week, but you saw what a rookie did to them on Sunday. Now they could be without Earl Thomas who is nursing a hamstring.

Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints: He was already being productive before Adrian Peterson was sent to Arizona, but he could be really special now. If Mark Ingram continues to have fumbling issues, it could get even better for Kamara. As of now, I think both Saints running backs are solid starts against the Buccaneers.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Cardinals: After Peterson had a huge first game with the Cardinals, everyone was on board with him being effective. Then he had a tough go against the Rams in London. Since then Arizona has had a week off and they are set to face the 49ers. Peterson should do well against a defense that struggles at limiting running backs.

Adrian Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball during the NFL match between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium on October 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: He’s had two games in a row of success catching passes out of the backfield. This week he should do damage on the ground against the Jaguars who aren’t good at stopping the run.

Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks: He has three touchdowns in his last two games and I’m thinking he can keep up the production against the Redskins. Josh Norman is likely to stick with Doug Baldwin, leaving Richardson with softer coverage.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints: The Bucs are the worst team at limiting wide receivers in fantasy scoring. Ginn is on a decent roll as of late, catching 13 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown in the last three games.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets: He doesn’t have the easiest matchup as he faces the Bills. They’ve only allowed six touchdown receptions, but they’ve given up the fourth most receiving yards. Kearse looks like a good flex play this week.

Atlanta Falcons’ Deion Jones (45) tackles New York Jets’ Jermaine Kearse (10) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: As bad as the Colts are, Doyle has been a bright spot for fantasy. He has 25 catches, 215 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. The Texans are in the bottom third at limiting tight ends.

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Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: I’m seeing some people looking to him as a good start this week as he faces the Saints. There are a lot of concerns, however. First, he’s got an AC joint injury he’s dealing with in his throwing shoulder and second, the Saints defense is playing better of late.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Giants were on a bye in Week 8 so it’s probably a good idea to remind you here that Manning isn’t very good this season. He’s without his top two receivers, though he gets Sterling Shepard back. The Rams are a tough draw, however.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: He’s had a tough season so far and he’s got to face one of the best defensive backfields this week. The Jaguars are outstanding at limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy points.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: Anderson’s been disappointing this season and he has a really tough matchup against the Eagles. It doesn’t help that his quarterback situation seems to be up in the air.

Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos is tackled by cornerback Kenneth Acker #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on October 30, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Miami running backs: Don’t get enticed by new opportunity for Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake. Neither could beat out Jay Ajayi, and he wasn’t doing well behind the Dolphins line either. This will most likely be a running-back-by-committee situation as well.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: Speaking of Ajayi, wait a week before inserting him into your starting lineup. He’s new in town and he has to face the Broncos right away. LeGarrette Blount is still a factor as well. Ajayi is possibly a decent flex play, but temper your expectations if you have to start him.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: He was a decent start last week, but this week is a different story. DeVante Parker is likely to return for Miami, putting Stills further down the pecking order.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons: Sanu is coming off a good game, but he’s got a tougher matchup this week as he faces the Panthers. They’re in the top 10 of defenses at limiting wide receiver fantasy points.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers: I’m thinking he’ll be the odd man out this week. Not that the other two main targets in Green Bay will have much better days. It’s a tough hand the Packers have been dealt with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback.

UPDATE: Previously a must-start player, Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice on Thursday and it’s a sad end to a promising start for the rookie. Here’s what was written before we learned of his injury: This is probably the last time he’ll be in this section. Not because he won’t be worthy of a start, but because he’s an auto-start from now until the end of the year. If he can do what he did to the Seahawks, he can do it against anyone. This week it’s going to be the Colts.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 8

Week 8 is upon us and that means there are a ton of byes on the schedule. Players of note you’ll be missing: Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray and Larry Fitzgerald. Hopefully you made the waiver claims I suggested Tuesday to help deal with the missing stars.

Thursday night Miami faces Baltimore and I’d feel good starting Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry and even Matt Moore as a possible streaming quarterback. Ajayi has a great opportunity to get on a roll against a run defense that allows a league-high 145 yards rushing per game. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 8.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 8 rankings.

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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Though he faces the Patriots, who looked good against Matt Ryan, Rivers has been a model of consistency this season. With just one truly bad game on his log, I expect him to have success against the Patriots, especially after he had a good week against the Broncos.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: His run of solid outings came to an end against the Steelers last weekend, but I wouldn’t be afraid of starting him against the Colts this week. The Colts are second worst in passing yards allowed, giving up over 300 per game.

Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes in the first quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Watson takes on the Seahawks who are good against the pass, but they’ve had some issues against running quarterbacks. They allowed at least 27 yards rushing to both Jacoby Brissett and Marcus Mariota. Both had at least a touchdown pass as well. I think Watson’s more talented than both of those QBs and he’ll be helped with a good rushing attack.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Game script held him to just seven rushes last week as the Bengals had to try to catch up during the second half of the loss to the Steelers. Before that game Mixon had at least 15 rushes in each of the previous three games. He has a dream matchup against the Colts this week.

Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins: The Cowboys are middle of the road in defending running backs, but they especially struggle against pass-catching running backs. They gave up nearly 94 yards receiving and a touchdown to Todd Gurley. Andre Ellington caught five passes for 59 yards and Shane Vereen had 51 yards receiving.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: Lewis is taking control of the backfield in New England, carrying the ball at least 11 times in each of the last two weeks. He clearly looks like the most talented back for the Patriots and he should have a nice day against the Chargers who give up over 140 yards rushing per game.

Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during the second quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles: He’s on a touchdown streak and the Eagles are very hot right now with Carson Wentz entering the possible MVP conversation. Agholor’s been targeted at least four times in four straight weeks and should be productive against the 49ers.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers: Cam Newton had another bad week after having a nice two-game stretch. He should bounce back this week against the Buccaneers to the benefit of Funchess. Tampa Bay gives up over 300 yards receiving per game.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: I like Stills as a flex start this week since he plays well with Matt Moore at quarterback. Stills has three touchdowns in the last two games. Both of his scores this week came when Moore entered the game for an injured Jay Cutler.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) celebrates a touchdown in the fourth quarter by tossing the ball to a fan against the New York Jets on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Although he’s had two scoreless weeks this season, he’s starting to become the consistent tight end target for Rivers. Henry has a good matchup against the Patriots this week.

Saints defense/special teams: They’re trending in the right direction and should keep it up against the Bears’ rookie quarterback who has few receiving options.

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Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He’s been blessed with a pretty good schedule early on, but this week he faces a really tough Steelers defense. Pittsburgh allows just 147 yards passing per game. They give up a league-best 5.6 yards per completion.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Big Ben is on the road this week so you’re automatically wary. The Lions pass defense is better than average. They give up more than 244 yards passing per game, but they intercepted Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan three times each. They also picked off Drew Brees twice.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: He finally broke a streak of terrible performances with a big game last Thursday. Carr has a tough matchup against the Bills on Sunday. Add a rainy forecast to the mix and I don’t think he puts up another top-12 performance this week.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: Murray had a great game last week, but I don’t think he can keep it up against the Browns. They allow just 83.7 yards rushing per game. I’d expect Jerick McKinnon to have the most success as he’s a bigger receiving threat.

Latavius Murray #25 of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled with the ball in the first half of the game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 22, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: I’m not sure if it’s even necessary to tell you to sit him at this point. He’s facing the Vikings so he’ll have a tough time. They give up just 76.6 yards per game and have allowed just one touchdown on the ground.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: The Saints defense has played well in four straight wins. Cohen looked good to start the season, especially as a passing option, but he probably won’t have success against New Orleans. The Saints have been doing a great job of limiting running backs catching out of the backfield.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: I don’t trust him at this point. He’s got a tough matchup against the Bengals this week and the Colts offense is just terrible.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: I’ve given him a lot of chances this season, but it’s not looking like he’s coming around. He’s frustrated and it’s hard to see him being productive while being a distraction. With the team demoting him to scout team, he’s definitely a player you can drop. Holding out hope for a trade may end up being foolish.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson (22) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Parker is dealing with an ankle injury and has a tough matchup with the Ravens. He doesn’t have the same rapport with Moore that Stills has.

Broncos defense/special teams: They’re not the same dominant defense they have been in the recent past and they face a potent offense in the Chiefs. Kareem Hunt is on a great roll and should continue to play well.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Updated Week 7 Fantasy Football rankings

Week 7 starts today and there have been a few injury updates ahead of the action. Leonard Fournette isn’t expected to play, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. I moved Fournette down on my rankings, but make sure there’s not a game time surprise before you sit him. Here are the rest of my updated Week 7 fantasy football rankings by position.

RELATED: Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 7

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Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 4

The tundra isn’t frozen yet but Lambeau Field will still be an apt setting to kick off Week 4 on Thursday night. You’ll want to start all the usual suspects in that game. Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Jordan Howard and even Tarik Cohen should be productive. Here’s a look a a few of this week’s tougher calls.

START THESE GUYS

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: Palmer had a rough start to the season, but it looks like that was due to the Lions being better defensively than originally thought. Since then he had good performances in Week 2 and Week 3. Palmer moved well in the pocket on Monday night and put up solid numbers against a good Cowboys pass rush. He should do well against the 49ers this week.

RELATED: Week 4 fantasy football rankings.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: He finally looked decent in Week 3, throwing for two touchdown passes, as the Bengals switched offensive coordinators. Dalton should keep it up against a Browns defense that allowed Jacoby Brissett to throw three touchdown passes.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks: Carson is starting to take over the lead back role and should get the majority of touches as he faces the Colts on Sunday. Indy is playing well against the run, allowing just over 85 yards per game, but they’ve already surrendered four rushing touchdowns in three games. An expected game script would allow for a lot of carries for Carson.

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (32) gets past Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Avery Williamson (54) as Carson scores a touchdown on a 10-yard run in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Mixon had 18 carries and over 100 yards of offense so it looks like Marvin Lewis will give the rookie a decent shot at becoming the lead runner. He gets a nice matchup as he faces the Browns.

Devante Parker, WR, Dolphins: He has a great matchup as he gets to face the Saints at home. Jay Cutler has the right mentality for a receiver like Parker. And if they get behind due to an effective Saints offense led by Drew Brees then the Dolphins should be passing often and late.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: Hopkins has caught at least seven passes in each game this year. His lone score came in Week 1, but the Titans have already surrendered seven this season.

Broncos receivers: Both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have been great so far this year, even when Trevor Siemian has a bad game. Feel safe about starting either one and look for Thomas to catch his first touchdown of the season.

Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos is tackled by Tre’Davious White #27 of the Buffalo Bills during an NFL game on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Benjamin Watson, TE, Ravens: He’s caught 11 straight targets and the Ravens get to play at home this week rather than across the ocean. The Steelers give up six fantasy points per game to tight ends in standard scoring leagues.

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Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: The Ravens are a tough draw with one of the best defenses in the league right now. Big Ben has trouble on the road, so if you’ve got another option, let him sit this one out. The Ravens have eight sacks and eight interceptions in three games.

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: It’s time to park this guy. If he’s not going to produce against the Saints defense, then you can’t trust him to do it against the Patriots. Start to stream your quarterback if necessary.

Hau’oli Kikaha #44 of the New Orleans Saints sacks Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: He’s got to go into a tough environment as Washington visits the Chiefs. Cousins hasn’t found a rhythm with Terrell Pryor yet and needs to have more plays than just dump offs to Chris Thompson.

Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals: He’s taken over the lead back role for the injured David Johnson, but it hasn’t translated to many fantasy points. Andre Ellington seemed to have a little more spark in Monday’s loss to the Cowboys. I’m not expecting Johnson to be that effective against the 49ers.

Most Raiders*: Derek Carr has a tough time in divisional games. He’ll be on the road facing the Broncos this week and looked bad against the Redskins. Marshawn Lynch hasn’t looked great this season, but he’s been OK. You should probably find another option this week, though, as the Broncos haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown this year. They’re also holding opponents to less than 60 yards rushing per game. Michael Crabtree is ailing with a chest injury, and I wasn’t high on starting him even before that with this matchup.

*-Jared Cook may be the only reliable start against the Broncos. Jason Witten had a huge game against that tough defense. Where you drafted Amari Cooper, you almost have to start him if you haven’t hit the jackpot on waiver pickups.

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) is stopped by Washington Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith (94) during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: Andrew Luck almost started practicing this week, but he’s out again. I’d let Hilton sit the matchup against the Seahawks in Seattle.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins: It’s to the point where you have to let him sit until he show’s something, anything, in a game. It’s not likely he does that in Kansas City.

Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: He’s had two scoreless weeks in this young season. Don’t start him until he shows any kind of consistency.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 2

Well, that was an interesting first week of the season, wasn’t it? Can’t wait to see what Week 2 brings. It kicks off Thursday night with Houston at Cincinnati. Safe starts are clearly A.J. Green and Lamar Miller. We’ll help you with the tougher calls as we tell you who should start and sit this week (and every week this season).

START THESE GUYS

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: This is a vote of confidence for Stafford, even though he’s taking on a tough secondary in the Giants. He’s got a solid, dependable target in Golden Tate and an emerging big play receiver in Kenny Golladay. Add to that his receiving threats out of the backfield, and I think Stafford does just as well as Dak Prescott did in Week 1 against the Giants.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 2 rankings.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He did more than hold his own against a great Broncos defense. Rivers has a much better matchup as he faces the Dolphins this week. He found Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin and Melvin Gordon for touchdown passes in Week 1 and should be a low-end QB1 in Week 2.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders: I don’t trust him over the long haul because of age and wear and tear. But it’s early in the season and he should still be fresh. He had over 90 yards of offense last week and he should find the end zone for the first time this season against the lowly Jets.

Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots: I was wrong about him last week, but it looks like he really is taking on the LeGarrette Blount role. He scored three short touchdowns last week and should have plenty of chances to produce good fantasy numbers against the Saints.

New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) runs away from Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) runs away from Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Terrance West, RB, Ravens: Danny Woodhead is out and the Ravens give their running backs a good amount of touches. West has a nice matchup against the Browns this weekend and should produce RB2 numbers at least.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots: Cooks had a solid outing in the season opener, but he wasn’t able to cash in on a score. This week should be better, given that he’s facing a bad Saints defensive backfield that got torched by Sam Bradford and the Vikings.

Eric Ebron, TE, Lions: I’m going out on a limb on this one after Ebron had just two catches for nine yards in Week 1. He’s facing the Giants and I think he’ll take advantage of the matchup that Jason Witten did in the first week of the season.

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Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: Is it just me or does Palmer look like he should have retired in the offseason after all? Last week he was horrible against the Lions. He has a great matchup against the Colts, but I don’t trust him after his Week 1 performance.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: His performance in Week 1 was nothing to write home about and he’s got a tough matchup against the Rams. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns in their game against the Colts. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the Rams will make things tough.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (93) and defensive end Brandon Graham (55) sack Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (93) and defensive end Brandon Graham (55) sack Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals: He’ll replace David Johnson in the Cardinals’ lineup, but I don’t think he’s worthy of the start on your fantasy team. It’s more about how the Colts have played the run so far. They faced Todd Gurley and the Rams in Week 1 but allowed just 1.9 yards per carry.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Despite Hill being the veteran starter, Joe Mixon got the most touches out of the backfield for the Bengals last week. The Texans had trouble stopping the Jaguars on the ground last week, but with three mouths to feed, it’s hard to start Hill.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: The Steelers face a solid defensive backfield and Bryant disappointed against the Browns last week. Ben Roethlisberger plays a lot better at home, but he’s found a nice target in tight end Jesse James. Antonio Brown will most likely be the only wideout for Pittsburgh worthy of a start.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: With Andrew Luck still out, I don’t see how Hilton holds much value, especially facing tough coverage from the Cardinals.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Rankings

It’s finally here. Week 1 of the NFL regular season starts Thursday and that means the kickoff of the 2017 fantasy football season. Every week we’ll give you our rankings for each position. Here’s the first installment. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for analysis, trends and waiver wire advice throughout the season. In addition, every Thursday we’ll bring you start/sit suggestions.

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Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football Week 17 preview

Making fantasy football predictions for Week 17 is not the easiest task. Every team has different motivations, and that makes for the strangest week of the season. It’s why you should work to get your fantasy league to change to a Week 16 championship. That said, here are the players you should start and sit this week.

Start

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions — The Lions faced the Packers in Week 3 and Stafford was great in that game. He’s got everything to play for in this rematch, and the Packers are 25th in points allowed to quarterbacks.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers — The stars have to align perfectly for the Bucs to make the playoffs. One of those stars is a win over the Panthers at home. Winston was decent on the road the last time he faced Carolina.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins — If Washington wants any shot at making the playoffs it has to win against a Giants team that has nothing to play for. Cousins should be able to take advantage of a disinterested defense.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers — With the Steelers set to rest their starters, Williams looks like a really great play against the Browns. He was awesome in the first two weeks of the season, subbing for a suspended Le’Veon Bell. He should be healthy enough to face a bad Browns defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) runs with the ball against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) runs with the ball against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers — Rodgers is seemingly the only option, since Doug Martin is suspended due to PEDs and Charles Sims is on injured reserve. He’ll have the volume, and he’s performed well when named the starter.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans — With Lamar Miller out of a meaningless game as he tries to fully recover for the playoffs, Blue should get most of the touches, and he’s coming off a good game.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars — Despite disappointing owners for a lot of the season, he’s coming off a great game and is always targeted heavily. He scored the last time he faced the Colts.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins — He’s had three straight 100-yard games and faces a team that has nothing to play for. He had 96 yards and a touchdown the last time he faced the Giants.

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Packers — The Packers have the motivation to get it done, and Montgomery is a dual threat.

Charles Clay, TE, Bills — He’s coming off a great game and already has a nice rapport with this week’s starter, EJ Manuel.

Sit

Cowboys triplets — Mark Sanchez will be Dak Prescott’s backup on Sunday, making it highly likely that Prescott will get pulled at some point. Ezekiel Elliott has expressed that the team’s long-term success is more important than the rookie rushing record. If he plays more than a quarter, it would be stunning. Dez Bryant, who’s battled injuries this season, won’t play the whole game either.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants — The Giants are locked into their playoff position, and it makes no sense for Manning to risk injury at this point. If he plays, it won’t be for the whole game.

Trevor Siemian, QB, Broncos — Denver seems as if it will treat this game like a preseason contest, playing both Siemian and Paxton Lynch, according to NFL.com and the team’s website. It’s a good matchup against the Raiders defense, but stay away.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders — With Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington getting involved, I’d sit Murray this week. The Raiders are facing the Broncos’ defense to boot.

Ravens running backs — Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon each had 13 touches last week, not very good for a starter. Taking touches from each other, neither back can be depended on this weekend.

Broncos running backs — Devontae Booker and Justin Forsett each had just five carries last week. Booker did OK when he added a few receptions, but neither looks like a strong play as the Broncos experiment with their quarterbacks this week.

Raiders receivers — With no Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper will have a tough time being productive against the Broncos’ secondary.