Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.
Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit for your upcoming fantasy matchups.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals — This game will be telling. If he produces against a poor Jets pass defense, then he can be trusted after enduring a concussion and a couple of poor outings. If not, this top-tier QB could slip down a tier.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — It appears as if he’d be a must-start every week, but he started the season terribly. He righted the ship in Week 4 and has had a bye week to prepare for a bad Falcons defense.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars — He’s had two weeks to prepare for a Bears defense that is ranked in the middle of the road against quarterbacks.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans — Don’t hold his poor performance against the Vikings against him. They’re shutting everyone down. He should bounce back against the Colts, who are 29th in points allowed to running backs.
Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks — Michael is even proving to be effective in the passing game as he caught a TD pass in his last game. His matchup is great, and it should be apparent in his point total.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers — He’ll be back in the lineup for the Panthers and gets to face the team ranked last in points allowed to running backs, the Saints.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — Despite getting just 16 touches last week, Mathews produced a touchdown, and he has a great matchup against Washington. If he’s productive in the passing game, he could have a big week.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks — He’s been alternating between good and bad weeks, and he’s due for another big week.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans — You were right to sit him last week against the Vikings as he was shut out. This week’s matchup is much more favorable. The Colts are 19th in points allowed to wideouts.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks — This could be a record for the number of players suggested as starts from one team, but when the Falcons are 31st in points allowed to tight ends, it’s justified.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons — Didn’t like him starting last week, and I suggest he not start again as he faces the Seahawks in Seattle. They’re the best at limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy points.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers — You might be interested to see what he’ll be able to do after not starting for quite a while, but that’s no reason to start him until you see some positive signs.
Terrance West, RB, Ravens — He has a tough matchup against the Giants. They allow 96 yards rushing per game and have surrendered just three rushing touchdowns. Expect low-end flex numbers if you have to start him.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — With his pass-catching ability, Giovani Bernard has a better chance to contribute since the Pats are stout against running backs.
Arian Foster, RB, Dolphins — Even if he’s 100 percent, I’d sit him until he has a really good game as a Dolphin. That backfield is ridiculously crowded right now.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, 49ers — With the quarterback change, I’d wait until we see how that affects the suddenly relevant receiver.
Victor Cruz, WR, Giants — Sterling Shepard is getting targeted heavily, and Cruz was held without a catch last week. No need to start someone who appears to be the third-best option on a struggling offense.
It’s Thursday night and that means the NFL week has started. Here’s a quick look at the Texans at Patriots matchup.
Will Fuller has had at least 100 yards receiving in his first two games. If he can pull that off on Thursday night he’d be the first rookie in NFL history to have at least 100 yards receiving in his first three games. Fuller has earned his way into your starting lineup but I would consider him a low-end flex player for the game against the Patriots.
Of course you’ll start DeAndre Hopkins, and Lamar Miller is getting too many touches to sit. Brock Osweiler is a tougher call for me this week. I don’t hate the play, but I would like a better option.
Bill Belichick is a football genius, but can he pull off a win with a rookie quarterback against a stout defense?
You won’t start Jacoby Brissett, but it looks like Rob Gronkowski is finally going to play so that could help things for the Patriots. Even if Gronk isn’t 100% healthy you’ll want to start him.
LeGarrette Blount is another player you’ll want to start as the Patriots have leaned on him during their quarterback troubles.
It used to be a good idea, but now it’s pretty essential to go through a few mock drafts in order to prepare yourself for an upcoming fantasy football season. I took part in one this week and learned a couple of things. First off, here’s the team I selected in a standard league mock draft on NFL.com.
Drafting from the tenth and final spot of the round posed an interesting challenge. The first mistake I made was not taking a running back with my first two picks in the snake order. Though there’s some depth at the position on this team, there’s no clear RB2. Some might argue that Carlos Hyde isn’t even an RB1 at this point, but if he’s healthy I think he will be. Questions are swirling around DeMarco Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls and Dion Lewis, however.
The wide receiver spot looks pretty good with A.J. Green and Amari Cooper taking the WR1 and WR2 spots, with either Donte Moncrief or new Lions receiver Marvin Jones taking a flex spot.
Tight end is probably the most solid position, but with Rob Gronkowski going without Tom Brady for four games Coby Fleener could get a couple starts if he has an instant connection with Drew Brees.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid starter with Antonio Brown as his main weapon and let’s hope he doesn’t have to miss any time with an aging Tony Romo as his backup.
A few other things I learned from the mock draft:
David Johnson is likely a top-5 pick. The person with the first pick in my mock draft took him, but he should probably go no lower than sixth.
Le’Veon Bell probably won’t be the first, or maybe even second, running back selected. My draft had Johnson and Todd Gurley go ahead of him.
Ezekiel Elliott is no-doubt a first round pick. He went eighth in this mock draft, but I’ve seen him go higher.
Don’t be surprised if the first round is half running backs, half wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green went in the first round of this mock.
Lamar Miller is right in the late first round, early second round territory. Don’t feel like you’re being too risky taking the new Texan in the first.
If DeMarco Murray has a bounce back year, someone will be happy having taken him in the sixth or later.
In our last edition we talked about how Osweiler would possibly fare as the new first-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos. We didn’t expect another team out there to give him $72 million over four years for just seven pro starts and 11 career touchdown passes. He’s gotten himself into a pretty good position with the Houston Texans. Here’s a look at how we think he and other high profile free agents will fare with their new teams this upcoming season. Who do you think will have the biggest impact with a new team? Let us know in the poll at the bottom.
Brock Osweiler, QB and Lamar Miller, RB, Texans—Osweiler should be very happy right about now. Though he had already benefited from working with two good wide receivers in Denver, DeAndre Hopkins is about to leap into the top tier of receivers in the league, if he hasn’t already. Hopkins is the kind of player that will catch anything in his vicinity. He’s a great red zone target and already has over 3,500 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns in his three-year career. His and Osweiler’s play will be helped by the presence of Miller in the backfield. Where the Dolphins refused to give Miller the touches he deserved, the Texans will be more than willing to give their newly acquired running back the rock. He’s only carried the ball 200 times in a season once in his career. We’d bet he does that twice in his career before this season is done.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Browns—With Johnny Football out of town it looks like the Browns are betting on yet another quarterback from the state of Texas. Even before Johnny Manziel, out of Kerrville, scrambled his way onto the scene, Colt McCoy of Tuscola had a good amount of starts with Cleveland. Now, the Browns are taking their chances with the mobile, although somewhat frail, quarterback out of Copperas Cove. Health is the number one concern if you plan on taking a shot with Griffin, but he could end up paying dividends if you get him for cheap and he finds his way back to his rookie form. How the Browns offensive line will be a big factor in how well he performs.
Matt Forte, RB, Jets—Possibly the most underrated prize in free agency, much like he’s the most underrated player at his position, Forte may end up being the beneficiary of a strong passing game with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall playing on the outside in New York. If Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signs with the Jets, we’re looking at a pretty potent offense with all facets very likely performing well. If a new quarterback is added to the mix then it may take a while for all cylinders to get clicking. Make no mistake, though, Forte will be a getting a lot of touches. In the same Chan Gailey offense, Chris Ivory rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 30 receptions.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars—Speaking of Ivory, he’s now with the Jaguars and will most likely share some time with second-year running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon’s 740 yards in his rookie season means he’ll stay in the mix, but it’s not a good situation for either running back. If forced to pick one to likely have more success, we’d go with Yeldon in terms of best overall on the season. If we’re talking Week 1 starter, we might have to go with Ivory.
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys—At first glance this looks like he could be a nice power back to run behind a good Cowboys offensive line. He only had two 100-yard rushing games last season, one to start the year and one to end it. We do think he’ll end up being the better of the two backs in Dallas, but if Darren McFadden stays healthy like he did this past season, then neither back will be a top-20 running back. One factor in his potential success is if the Cowboys can afford to go with a run-first game plan like they did two seasons ago when DeMarco Murray racked up a ton of yards. If Morris can somehow take over as the go-to back and the Cowboys protect Tony Romo by running more, then Morris could find some real value. That’s a lot of ifs, however.
Marvin Jones, WR, Lions—With Alshon Jeffery remaining in Chicago, the wide receiver free agent market ended up being pretty dull this season. Marvin Jones does look to have some upside as he joins Detroit, however. Calvin Johnson has called it a career so the Lions needed to add someone to help out Golden Tate on the other side of the field. Jones just finished his fourth year in the league after missing all of 2014. He had a career-high in yardage with 816 yards to go along with four touchdowns. He had 10 TD receptions in his second season. Look to him as a dark horse late-round possibility to help in the flex spot.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans—He had 662 yards receiving to go with four touchdowns last year with the Dolphins and he could very well end up a top target for Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Dorial Green-Beckham and Kendall Wright are healthy competition for the fifth-year receiver. Don’t be surprised if he ends up taking the Lion’s share of targets. With DeMarco Murray in the backfield, things should open up downfield as defenses key on the run.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers—Benjamin’s fourth season was far and away his best in the league. He had 68 receptions for 966 yards and five scores with bad Browns quarterback play. With Philip Rivers at the helm in San Diego, Benjamin could prove to be a nice flex player if he can make it onto the field. There are a good amount of wideouts in San Diego.
Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers—He played behind Antonio Gates and posted career highs last season with San Diego. With Heath Miller out of the picture due to retirement, Green could turn into a solid breakout tight end with the Steelers potent offense. He’ll have Ben Roethlisberger throwing passes while Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown take up a lot of defensive attention. He couldn’t have ended up in a better spot.
Coby Fleener, TE, Saints—No longer stuck in an offense that utilizes a lot of two tight end sets, Fleener can really shine with an offense led by Drew Brees. With Ben Watson out of town, Fleener can very likely reproduce Watson’s numbers from last season. Watson had 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns. Fleener will no longer have to fight for targets with Dwayne Allen in Indianapolis.
Ben Watson, TE, Ravens—Watson’s outlook isn’t as nice as Fleener’s. He’s a Raven now and with Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore in town, there won’t be enough targets to go around.
Jared Cook, TE, Packers—Cook will need fight with Richard Rodgers for touches, but we think he has more talent than Rodgers. And with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback Cook could be late steal at the position.
Notables still up for grabs
Running backs: Reggie Bush, LeGarrette Blount, Ronnie Hillman, Arian Foster, Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, Stevan Ridley; Wide receivers: Kamar Aiken, Roddy White, Percy Harvin, Anquan Boldin, Andre Caldwell, Andre Johnson, James Jones