Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 3 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and Arnaz Battle. So I’ll spare you the obvious recommendations, focusing instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 3.

Watch ‘em roll

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens vs. Browns. It’s hard to believe the second-best passer in Fantasyland is still available on many waiver wires. The young gun should have no problem exploiting a Cleveland secondary that has yet to pick off a pass this season.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys vs. Panthers. Dallas leads the NFL in rushing, and Jones was a key part of the mix on Sunday night. With Marion Barber (quad) limited at best Monday night, a healthy, game-breaking Jones will be the primary ball carrier against one of the league’s softest run defenses.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens vs. Browns. The veteran is more than just a touchdown poacher (four TDs in two games). He’s rushed for 123 yards and caught six passes for 41 more – just 38 combined yards fewer than Ray Rice. Even better, Cleveland has given up five rushing scores already.

Steve Smith, WR, Giants at Buccaneers. In all the gushing over Mario Manningham’s spectacular emergence, let’s not forget that Smith remains Eli Manning’s top target. Both receivers should be starting against Tampa Bay’s woeful secondary, especially in point-per-reception leagues.

Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets vs. Titans. Tennessee’s secondary has been the defense’s Achilles heel, responsible for losing games to both Pittsburgh and Houston. Rookie Mark Sanchez is still not ready for fantasy primetime, but Cotchery has posted games of 90 and 87 receiving yards and is overdue for a trip to the end zone.

More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Trent Edwards; RBs Brandon Jacobs, Ryan Grant, Darren Sproles, Fred Jackson; WRs Greg Jennings, Vincent Jackson, Devery Henderson, Santana Moss.

Roll ‘em back

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed just two passing TDs and leads the league in sacks (nine), while Pittsburgh’s offensive line has struggled to protect Big Ben (sacked six times to date). The Steelers will likely jump-start their running game in this matchup.

Thomas Jones, RB, Jets vs. Titans. As Leon Washington gets more involved in the offense, Jones’ value declines. Facing the NFL’s second-stingiest run defense, the veteran could be watching from the sidelines a lot since his backup is a more lethal receiving option.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Steelers. The workhorse of the Bengals offense heads into a very tough matchup with a sore ankle. Though he’s expected to start, bench him against a defense that has already held Chris Johnson and Matt Forte out of the end zone this season.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns at Ravens. Baltimore is not a fun place to visit when your quarterback is struggling, as Brady Quinn is. Edwards had a decent game in Week 2, but expect a performance more like the opener (1 reception, 12 yards) as the Browns will be lucky to score on the Ravens at all.

Justin Gage, WR, Titans at Jets. Jets CB Darrelle Revis has shut down Andre Johnson and Randy Moss in consecutive weeks. If you think he’s going to have any trouble covering Gage, well, there’s not much I can do for you.

More thumbs down: QBs Brett Favre, Byron Leftwich, Kyle Orton; RBs Joseph Addai, Jamal Lewis, Larry Johnson, Julius Jones; WRs TJ Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry, Eddie Royal, Earl Bennett.


Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Colts. While everyone expects this game to be a shoot-out, Arizona should have its greatest success on the ground against an Indy team that is virtually defenseless against the run. Beanie Wells has had fumble problems, and Tim Hightower is still the top back; but Wells’ 5.2 yards-per-carry average suggests the rookie could be poised for a breakout game on the big stage.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Tony Romo after his awful game on Sunday night. Not only is he facing a Panthers secondary that has surrendered five passing TDs already, but he has a well-documented history of bouncing back nicely after poor performances. Romo will excel on Monday night.


  1. I have Fred Jackson but Felix Jones is available, who do you think is worth more this week? Also, any word on LT and his status for Sunday?

  2. LT almost certainly out.

    I like Felix a lot this week (obviously), but not as much as Fred Jackson, if only because Fred doesn't have to share.

  3. Ladd, earlier in the week, I asked you pick two of the following among Pierre Thomas, a healthy Wes Welker, and Jerricho Cotchery. You selected Thomas and Welker. Can I assume that your answer would be different now with Cotchery's appearance in this post?

  4. I would only change to Cotchery now because it appears that Thomas isn't 100%, and probably won't start (in favor of Lynell Hamilton, of all people!). Keep in mind, just because they're on my 5 to start doesn't mean I would start them above all others. Those are just the "bubble" players. I rarely recommend starting one of my "watch 'em rolls" over an elite player in the same position.

    One more thing: This is a good example why I prefer not to answer start/sit questions early in the week. Too many things can change in the course of a few days.

  5. Ladd, thanks for the insight. I appreciate the help. I knew the difference between this post and the "elite" players and appreciate you not telling us to start Adrian Peterson every week (a little obvious).

    I agree with not answering the questions early in the week, and now that I know you're very good at answering comments quickly (I'm new to the site), I'll save them for later in the week.