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 in your upcoming fantasy matchups.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins — He gets to face the Cleveland Browns’ defense and actually put up great numbers against New England last weekend (387 yards, two TDs). The biggest fear here is that Miami will get too far ahead and stop throwing.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans — He was a pretty decent start in his past two games, but he should be very good against the Oakland Raiders, who are worst in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers — With Doug Martin sidelined for about three weeks, Sims could really shine. His pass-catching ability makes him a decent start against the Rams, a team in the bottom half in points allowed to running backs.
Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans — Facing the Raiders, the team ranked last in points allowed to wide receivers, Sharpe should have success. He’s been targeted at least seven times in each game so far.
Theo Riddick, RB, Lions — Riddick looks to be the top choice to take over for an injured Ameer Abdullah. He was already competing for playing time and is better at catching the ball than the bigger rookie Dwayne Washington.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons — He’s facing a bad defense that happens to defend tight ends well, but the number of targets he gets (eight per game) is encouraging.
Marvin Jones, WR, Lions — He’s taken over as the main receiver in Detroit, having been targeted at least 10 times in each of the first two games. He faces a Packers defense that allowed Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ pass attack to have some success.
Dolphins defense/special teams — They’re facing a Browns offense that’s starting Cody Kessler. Enough said.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers — He’s getting comfortable in this section as this is the second week in a row I’ve had him sitting. Last week he had just 52 total yards, and this week he faces a Seattle defense that is third in points allowed to running backs.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — Mathews rushed just nine times for 32 yards Monday night, but two short touchdowns saved his week. With Carson Wentz doing well through the air, the Eagles aren’t relying on the running game as much.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — He hasn’t carried the ball more than 11 times in a game this year and has to face the Broncos’ defense this week.
Golden Tate, WR, Lions — He’s clearly behind Jones in the pecking order, and Eric Ebron is even finding some success at the tight end spot. Give Tate a seat until he proves he can be productive.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills —If he’s cleared to play, be aware that he won’t be at full strength because of a foot injury. He hasn’t been good so far this year, and he will be facing Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals’ secondary. I’d sit him.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns — Things were looking up when Josh McCown was set to play quarterback, but with his injury I’d wait and see on Barnidge.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars — He led the Jags in targets in a blowout loss last weekend. The Jags won’t get blown out by the Ravens, and the defense Hurns faces is fifth-best in limiting WR production.
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