Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 8 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Matt Stafford, Lions – Passed for 352 yards and 3 TDs with an INT, plus a 10-yard rushing TD.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Completed 4 TD passes with 304 yards.
Peyton Manning, Broncos – Another near-flawless outing, with 305 passing yards and 3 TDs, and no turnovers.
Josh Freeman, Bucs – Kept his string of stellar performances going with 262 passing yards and a TD trifecta.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Put up identical numbers as Freeman.
Alex Smith, 49ers – His 3 TDs came with 232 yards.

Doug Martin, Bucs – The rookie emerged with 135 rushing and 79 receiving yards (on 3 catches) with a TD both ways.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles – Scored as a rusher and receiver, though just 67 combined yards.

Titus Young, Lions – Finally stepped up with 9 catches for 100 yards and 2 TDs.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers – Scored twice on 5 receptions for 72 yards.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Reeled in 7 passes for 137 yards and a TD.
Julio Jones, Falcons – His 5 receptions were good for 123 yards and a score.
Eric Decker, Broncos – Only 4 catches, but scored twice and tallied 43 yards.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Scored twice on 8 catches for 146 yards.
Jason Witten, Cowboys – A PPR dream with 18 receptions for 167 yards.


This was a great week to play against…

Cam Newton, Panthers – Another sub-par outing with 314 passing yards, 37 rushing, no TDs and 2 INTs.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Limited to 154 yards and no scores.
Eli Manning, Giants – Just 192 passing yards, no TDs and 1 INT.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Inexplicably made a bystander by his own team, with just 10 combined yards.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Just 33 yards on the ground.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals – Ran for 6 yards and caught 3 passes for 32 yards on Monday night.
Michael Turner, Falcons – Rushed for a meager 58 yards.
Alfred Morris, Redskins – Only 59 yards on the day.
Steven Jackson, Rams – Another mediocre day with just 23 rushing and 22 receiving yards.

Victor Cruz, Giants – Only 23 yards on 2 catches.
Roddy White, Falcons – His 3 receptions went for 38 yards.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – He also had just 38 yards, on 4 catches, and had a punt return score nullified on penalty.
Kenny Britt, Titans – Just 34 yards on 3 catches, but an offensive PI penalty negated his TD catch.
Vincent Jackson, Bucs – Just 40 yards on 2 catches.
Calvin Johnson, Lions – Had a terrible day with 3 receptions for 46 yards and several costly drops.

Antonio Gates, Chargers – Just 14 yards on 2 receptions.
Jermichael Finley, Packers – Only 24 yards on 2 catches.
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons – 3 receptions for 29 yards.
Vernon Davis, 49ers – Reeled in 2 passes for 34 yards.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Perfect Draft 2.0: Midseason Review

So, uh, how’s that Cam Newton pick working out for you?

Still think Antonio Gates was a steal in the fifth round?

Tired of seeing Greg Jennings in commercials instead of your lineup?

Yes, dear reader, it’s time for our semi-annual exercise in self-flagellation, when we reflect back two short months on what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft.  Step right up for The Perfect Draft 2.0: Midseason Review.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions.  First, we’re in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams.  Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Arian Foster and Ray Rice were not available to us in the first round.  Third, we’re selecting players based on their average draft position in multiple mock draft sites as of the end of August.  And finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2012 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1.  Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings.  I realize we could wait and grab Peterson in the next round, or even a bit later; but there’s a method to my madness.  Only Foster ranks ahead of AP at the mid-season turn, which is just short of miraculous.

Round 2.  A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.  Arguably the best receiver in the game, Green often slipped to the third round in many leagues.

Round 3.  Victor Cruz, WR, Giants.  We now have the most prolific receiving tandem in the business.  Makes you wanna salsa.

Round 4.  Frank Gore, RB, 49ers.  Overlooked by many heading into the season, Gore is still performing at a high level and makes an excellent RB2.  

Round 5.  Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.  Those who sat patiently as the first round of passers went off the board were rewarded with the fifth-year star who has finally stepped up to elite status.  Now you understand my draft strategy.

Round 6.  Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers.  Now that he and Josh Freeman are in sync, Jackson is again among the most dangerous playmakers in the league.

Round 7.  Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots.  Quietly, and somewhat shockingly, Ridley has reached the halfway point in the company of the Top 5 rushers.  It will be even more surprising if he’s still here by year’s end.

Round 8.  Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins.  On track to become the new face of the NFL, we’ll have trouble keeping RGIII on our bench. 

Round 9.  C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills.  He lacks consistency due to Fred Jackson’s interference.  But when Spiller gets the ball, he’s usually unstoppable.

Round 10. Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders.  After a slow start, Moore is living up to his sleeper potential as Carson Palmer’s most reliable weapon.

Round 11. Bears defense/special teams.  Nobody else even comes close.  Chicago leads the league in turnovers, fewest points allowed and, most important, defensive scoring. In most formats, they’re as valuable as all but the top RBs and WRs.

Round 12. Texans defense/special teams.  We don’t normally advocate drafting two defensive units, but why let a competitor snag fantasy’s second-ranked squad?

Round 13. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers.  Late-round sleepers are meant to be stashed away for a few weeks, in hopes that they’ll begin contributing by mid-year.  Cobb started fulfilling his promise in Week 5.

Round 14.  Owen Daniels, TE, Texans.  Finally fully healthy, Daniels is on track to blow away his career bests. 

Round 15.  Heath Miller, TE, Steelers.  Only Rob Gronkowski has more TDs than Miller’s six, and he wasn’t even drafted in most leagues.

Round 16.  Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins.  How rare is it for a sixth-round rookie to become not just an instant contributor, but a legitimate workhorse?  One of the true surprises of the 2012 season, Morris is one of the most consistently reliable tailbacks in the league. 

Round 17.  Lawrence Tynes, K, Giants.  As usual, several of the best kickers are available in the final round, including Tynes and rookies Greg Zuerlein, Blair Walsh and Justin Tucker.

It will be interesting to see how much our mid-season roster changes by year’s end.  For the record, they always do.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots.  Many believe the former second-round pick is the most talented, versatile back in New England.  He is starting to eat into Ridley’s carries, and notched his second TD of the season in London.  Heading into the bye, Vereen could return with a bigger stake in this high-octane offense.

Titus Young, WR, Lions.  One of our preseason sleeper picks, Young finally had his breakout game.  Nate Burleson’s season-ending leg injury helped, but Young’s development has arguably been limited most by Matt Stafford’s ineffectiveness.  The duo connected well Sunday, so optimism reigns for the second half of the season.

Don’t be fooled

Vick Ballard, RB, Colts.  If not for his acrobatic, inverted leap into the end zone to seal an overtime win, Ballard’s stat line would have been mediocre.  Donald Brown returned from his knee injury to lead the Colts in carries, and Delone Carter poached a goal-line plunge.  This is a great time to trade the rookie, if you can find a sucker.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday morning updates -- Week 8

Good morning, Fools.  It's a crisp, beautiful morning in Big D, but our thoughts are with those in Sandy's path this week.  Stay safe and dry, Fools.

Let's hop around the league and figure out wassup as we make our final roster decisions for the weekend...

Felix Jones will start today, since we know DeMarco Murray is out.  Fragile Felix is dealing with a bruised knee, so don't expect greatness from him.  We'll likely get a good look at Philip Tanner again; but neither of the Cowboys backs are recommended today, despite the favorable matchup.

No worries about Frank Gore's availability on Monday night.  He has been dealing with sore ribs, but it sounds like all systems go.

Jonathan Dwyer will pull another start with both Mendenhall and Redman inactive.  I'm not expecting big production for the rookie against Washington, but stranger things have happened.  He's a decent flex play if you need him.

Donald Brown is expected to return to action today, dealing a blow to Vick Ballard's value.  They have a good matchup with Tennessee, but it's hard to trust either.

Jordy Nelson is OUT for today's game, due to a bum hammy.  Good news for owners of Randall Cobb and James Jones.  Heck, Donald Driver might even get some extra looks today.  And maybe, just maybe, Jermichael Finley will finally produce something of value.

Don't count on Danny Amendola today, but things are looking up for him to return in Week 10 after the Rams' bye.

Jimmy Graham is traveling with the Saints to Denver and will be a game-time call.  That's tough for us, of course, because they don't play until tonight.  I do not recommend banking on him, simply because he was inactive last week and has been limited in practice all week.

We know Aaron Hernandez didn't make the trip across the pond, so make sure you have another option at TE.

That's it for now.  Make sure you're following my tweets (www.twitter.com/ladd_biro) as the inactive reports are coming in now.  Have a great day, Fools!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Week 8 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and LeSean McCoy, or to bench Brady Quinn and Braylon Edwards? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 8 of the 2012 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts at Titans.  Luck hasn’t thrown a TD pass since Week 5, but he scrambled in for two scores last week.  He won’t have as much trouble finding open receivers on Sunday against the league’s passing doormat.  He’s a strong starting option for those owners without an elite passer.

Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos vs. Saints.  After a week of rest, McGahee has the good fortune of facing the league’s second-worst rush defense.  In this likely shootout, there will be plenty of opportunities for McGahee to gash the Saints as both a runner and receiver.

Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars at Packers.  Though this contest could get out of hand quickly for the Jags, Jennings’ strong receiving skills make him an attractive prospect.  Green Bay sports a mediocre run defense, so Jennings will have a chance to produce in both phases, even if his team is playing catch-up early.

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns vs. Chargers.  The rookie has reeled in four TDs (and should have had a fifth) over the past three weeks, but still just seven total receptions over that span.  San Diego’s defense is stout against the run, but woefully soft vs. the pass. Given Trent Richardson’s rib problems, Brandon Weeden will be looking to his play-making wideout often in this very favorable matchup.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers vs. Jaguars.  While Aaron Rodgers is en fuego, his primary wideouts are must-starts.  Cobb has emerged over the past three weeks as a viable replacement for Greg Jennings (who is headed for surgery), and James Jones remains attractive despite an off week against the Rams.  Jacksonville doesn’t stand a chance against this aerial attack.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers; RBs Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles; WRs Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Lance Moore, Antonio Brown, Brandon Gibson, Dwayne Bowe, Denarius Moore, Miles Austin, Jeremy Maclin.

Roll ‘em back

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers at Bears.  I’m not breaking any news that Newton is in the midst of a serious sophomore slump.  Heading to the Windy City against arguably the NFL’s most fearsome defense, the beleaguered passer is a dubious fantasy prospect.  He’s not even likely to compensate for his aerial deficiencies with a strong rushing performance this week.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys vs. Giants.  Though DeMarco Murray is most likely to sit out another game, Jones showed last week why he can’t be trusted as a primary ball carrier.  On top of that, “Fragile Felix” is dealing with a bruised knee.  That likely means more Philip Tanner sightings and limited fantasy production, despite the favorable matchup.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Cardinals vs. 49ers.  Not only is he facing a solid, though no longer impenetrable, 49ers run defense, but Stephens-Howling still must share the load with William Powell.  LSH received the bulk of the carries in Week 7 because he had the proverbial “hot hand;” but the temperature in Arizona can change at a moment’s notice.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles vs. Falcons.  Michael Vick’s turnover problems may be magnified more than ever in this matchup with Atlanta’s ball-hawking secondary.  Meanwhile, Jackson is playing second fiddle to Jeremy Maclin, making him a bad bet to notch his second TD or 100-yard receiving game of the season.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Cardinals.  With just seven receptions for 57 yards over the past two games, Crabtree has fallen dramatically from his Week 5 high.  Against the stingy Arizona pass defense, a rebound is unlikely.

More thumbs down: QBs Matt Stafford, Michael Vick, Alex Smith, Ryan Tannehill; RBs Trent Richardson, Pierre Thomas, Mikel Leshoure, Stevan Ridley, DeAngelo Williams; WRs Jeremy Kerley, Kevin Ogletree, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt.


Alex Green, RB, Packers vs. Jaguars.  Who needs a running game when Rodgers is your QB?  A valid question, to be sure.  But the Packers know they must generate a credible ground attack to vie for another championship, and they are giving Green every opportunity to prove himself.  This could be the week the rookie finally breaks through, against the pathetic Jaguars rush defense.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…lets Danny Amendola remain a free agent any longer. His owner shouldn’t have released him in the first place, after the trusty wideout suffered a clavicle injury in Week 5.  But if he did, you should swoop in now.  Amendola’s rehab has been accelerated, and he is currently targeting a Week 10 return.  Available in roughly half of all leagues, he can help you down the stretch, especially in PPR leagues.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 7 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Drew Brees, Saints – Kept the good times rolling with 377 yards and 4 TDs, plus an INT.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Passed for 342 yards and 3 TDs, without a turnover.
Josh Freeman, Bucs – Passed for 420 yards and 3 TDs, and no blemishes.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins – Accumulated 258 yards and 2 TDs through the air and ran for 89 yards; but lost 2 turnovers.

Chris Johnson, Titans – Finally looked like CJ2K again, with 195 rushing yards and 2 TDs.
Arian Foster, Texans – Raced for 98 yards and 2 TDs.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Rumbled for 153 yards and a score.
Fred Jackson, Bills – Ran for 71 yards and caught 8 passes for 49 yards and a TD.

Vincent Jackson, Bucs – Reeled in 7 passes for 216 yards and a TD.
Santana Moss, Redskins – Turned just 3 passes into 67 yards and 2 TDs.
Victor Cruz, Giants – Hauled in 7 passes for 131 yards and a score.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – He had 8 receptions for 122 yards and a TD.
Randall Cobb, Packers – His 8 catches went for 89 yards and 2 TDs.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Scored twice on 6 catches for 78 yards.

Texans – Accumulated 4 sacks, 3 turnovers, a safety, a 52-yard INT return TD and held the Ravens to 13 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Christian Ponder, Vikings – Passed for a paltry 58 yards, with 1 TD vs. 2 INTs.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Ran for a whopping 4 yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars – Left with a foot injury after rushing for 6 yards.
Trent Richardson, Browns – Just 19 combined yards in the first half, then was benched for “ineffectiveness.”
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Ran for 35 yards and caught 3 short passes for 11 more.
Ray Rice, Ravens – You can’t hope for much better when playing Rice than 42 rushing yards and 12 receiving yards on 5 catches.

Brandon Lloyd, Patriots – Caught a 6-yard pass.
Jerome Simpson, Vikings – He caught an 8-yarder.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Active despite groin injury, it was hard to tell as he caught 2 passes for 14 yards.
Anquan Boldin, Ravens – Limited to 24 yards on 3 balls.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – His 4 catches went for 29 yards.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks – 2 catches produced 32 yards.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers – He took 4 receptions to make 31 yards.
Calvin Johnson, Lions – Limited to 3 catches for 34 yards.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Just 41 yards on 4 receptions.

Vernon Davis, 49ers – Blanked on Thursday night.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Also posted a goose egg.
Fred Davis, Redskins – Caught a 13-yard pass before suffering season-ending Achilles injury.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'll have another Foster, please

Back in the 1990s, when many of today’s fantasy diehards wore diapers and stats were tallied with a calculator, the key to successful drafting was simple: Land Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith, and a postseason berth was yours.

Then, for several years, the Marshall Plan was in effect.  Hand Marshall Faulk the ball, and it was all downhill from there.

Later, Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander and Adrian Peterson took their turns wearing the crown jewels of the fantasy realm. 

Today, there’s Arian Foster, and there’s everyone else.  The Texans’ workhorse just doesn’t have an off game.  If he’s not racing for 100-plus yards and a touchdown, he’s pounding in two scores to make up for a sub-100-yard outing.

I don’t have to tell Ray Rice’s owners that their fantasy stud lacks Foster’s effortless consistency, after Sunday’s debacle in Houston.

I admit to having a bit of a man-crush on Shady McCoy; but I’d swap him for Foster faster than Mitt Romney can say “tax cuts.”

As Foster heads into his bye week to recharge for the second-half push, this seemed like a good time to pay homage to the best fantasy back in the game today.  If he’s not on your roster, Week 8 would be an excellent time to face his owner.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars. It’s somewhat astonishing that a 5’8” tailback can survive in today’s NFL, much less lead the league in rushing, as Maurice Jones-Drew did last year.  So his owners should have prepared for the possibility that the veteran may succumb to injury by stowing away Jennings for this day.  With news that Jones-Drew will miss at least Week 8 with his injured foot, his talented backup is a must-grab.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Cardinals.  Consider this a tepid endorsement, at best, because investing in the Arizona running game is the diciest of propositions.  What’s important to note is that Stephens-Howling received 24 touches to William Powell’s five on Sunday, and produced well against a solid Vikings run defense.  If you are truly RB-challenged, the veteran could help in a pinch; though probably not this weekend against the 49ers.

Don’t be fooled

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers.  One of my preseason sleeper picks finally came through Sunday night with 122 rushing yards in relief of both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman.  Unfortunately, it’s probably too little too late, since the rookie third-stringer will be relegated to the bench (or the inactive list) once one or both of the veterans return, which may be as early as this weekend.  

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins. Before you get excited over Moss’ two-TD outing against the Giants, note that he only caught three passes in total.  In fact, the 12-year veteran hasn’t had more than four receptions in any game this season, and that trend is unlikely to change going forward, even with Fred Davis out for the rest of the season.  Chris Cooley has already been signed to fill the void at tight end.

Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings.  I never understood the fascination with Simpson’s move to Minnesota.  He’s been injury-prone throughout his short career, and he has rarely shown any semblance of consistency in his game.  Well, you could say he’s been consistently awful over his last two games, with one 8-yard catch to show for himself.  Feel free to eject.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday morning updates -- Week 7

Good morning, Fools.  Tomorrow is my birthday, and I was surprised with a big new, not-yet-available-in-the-stores flat screen last night so I could watch the games today in extra special style.  Really looking forward to the afternoon!

Here's what we'll be watching:

Trent Richardson will suit up today with a flak jacket, so start him if you've got him.  Don't count on much from Montario Hardesty, unless the starter gets knocked out again.

With DeMarco Murray out, it will be interesting to see if (a) Felix Jones can handle a full starter's workload, and (b) Phillip Tanner gets much action.  I'm betting it's no and yes, which is why I didn't rush to grab Jones off the waiver wire.

Elsewhere in Cowboyland, Dez Bryant is expected to give it a go on his sore groin; but I won't be putting him in my lineup.  After last week's monster game, I was prepared to give him a starting job again (I have other strong WRs in that league), but I just don't trust him at less than 100%.  I may regret that move (as I did last week), but I just have this feeling he'll be little more than a decoy today.

Pittsburgh's running game could be a train wreck tonight.  Both Mendenhall and Redman are out, leaving the duties to Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch.  It's also possible that C Maurkice Pouncey, the anchor of their line, won't be playing.  I was high on Dwyer's chances as a sleeper candidate during the offseason, but the rookie was a major let-down in the early part of the season.  I just don't like this situation tonight at all.

Still no Greg Jennings, so look for more James Jones and Randall Cobb.

Rookie Alshon Jeffery is out for the Bears, and the Browns will go without Mohamed Massaquoi.

And perhaps the biggest loss of the day, Jimmy Graham is sidelined with a bum ankle.  Hope you do better than I did in covering for a missing TE.  I traded for Vernon Davis, whose only stat line on Thursday night was a tackle.

Inactive reports will be out shortly.  Make sure you're following me at www.twitter.com/ladd_biro for all the late-breaking news and developments.

Have a great day, Fools!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday injury updates and more

Here are a few excerpts from my 4th & Long column on Sporting News:

Ben Roethlisberger left practice early Thursday after tweaking his ankle. At this time, it doesn't appear to be anything serious, so plan to start him if you normally would. Lord knows Big Ben has played effectively with injuries in the past.

For obvious reasons, Montario Hardesty was a popular waiver-wire addition this week. But don't get overly excited about his prospects Sunday. Trent Richardson (ribs) claims to be "pain-free," and all signs point to him donning a flak jacket and carrying the load against the awful Colts run defense. So Richardson should be protected if Hardesty comes after him with a gun, making the backup unworthy of a starting spot in all but the most depleted of lineups.

Hakeem Nicks (foot, knee) belongs in your lineup this weekend after emerging from the 49ers contest no worse for wear. He's still not 100 percent, but he's on track to play against the porous Washington secondary.

Another week, another "O" for Greg Jennings. Don't count on Jermichael Finley (shoulder), either.

If it matters to you that there's a competition between Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn for the starting quarterback job in Kansas City, you should stop reading now. Your team doesn't stand a chance.

[Saturday updates: DeMarco Murray, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Brandon Bolden and Laurent Robinson all have been officially ruled out for Week 7.]

Friday, October 19, 2012

Week 7 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Arian Foster, or to bench Blaine Gabbert and Knowshon Moreno? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 7 of the 2012 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers vs. Saints.  Freeman has accumulated 627 passing yards and 4 TDs over his past two games against sub-par secondaries.  He should continue his roll against the Saints’ 26th-ranked pass defense.  Freeman has been in sync with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, who also have a good shot to soar at home in this favorable matchup.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots vs. Jets.  The Seahawks kept Ridley in check last week, but the Jets offer a much more tantalizing opportunity.  Though he must compete for touches with two or three other backs, Ridley remains a high-upside play in a week when six teams are on bye.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills vs. Titans.  It is painfully clear that Buffalo’s best chance to win is with its powerful running game.  Both Spiller and starter Fred Jackson produced well in the upset over Arizona, and they’ll enjoy a softer matchup this week.  Both are worth starting, but Spiller gets the nod due to his pass-catching prowess.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints at Buccaneers.  Moore has been practicing fully this week and appears set to return to the starting lineup after giving his hamstring nearly three weeks of rest.  Look for a nice outing against the woeful Bucs secondary as Drew Brees reconnects with his underrated wideout, especially if Jimmy Graham (ankle) can’t go or is relegated to decoy duty.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans at Bills.  Though still not fully recovered from last season’s ACL surgery, Britt finally delivered a solid performance a week ago against the Steelers (62 yards, 1 TD).  He was also targeted a whopping 11 times.  Look for plenty more passes his way, and continued success, in this highly favorable matchup.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Stafford, Carson Palmer; RBs Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden, Doug Martin; WRs Hakeem Nicks, Stevie Johnson, Denarius Moore, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Texans.  Aaron Rodgers embarrassed the Texans’ defense last weekend, but Flacco is no Rodgers.  Houston’s defenders will have a chip on their shoulders and a plan to limit the Ravens’ middle-of-the-road passing attack. Flacco has posted just two TDs over the last three weeks, so he’s not exactly riding a hot streak.

Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns at Colts.  For obvious reasons, Hardesty was a popular waiver-wire addition this week.  But don’t get overly excited about his prospects Sunday.  Trent Richardson (ribs) claims to be “pain-free,” and all signs point to him returning and carrying the load against the awful Colts run defense. 

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions at Bears.  Chicago boasts the NFL’s stingiest run defense, with 66 yards allowed per game and just one rushing TD surrendered all season.  Leshoure is no sure bet against most defenses, but he’s especially ill-equipped to prosper in the Windy City.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots vs. Jets.  He’ll be dealing with a sore shoulder and blanket coverage from Antonio Cromartie on Sunday.  New England also has both its tight ends back to draw the targets away from Lloyd, who has found the end zone just once as a Patriot. 

Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams vs. Packers.  Green Bay leads the league in sacks, while Sam Bradford has been dumped 18 times (28th worst in the NFL).  Gibson has been getting a lot of fantasy attention since Danny Amendola went down, but he’s unlikely to fare well with his wildly inconsistent quarterback under constant pressure.

More thumbs down: QBs Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, John Skelton; RBs Steven Jackson, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Shonn Greene, Mark Ingram, Vick Ballard, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, William Powell; WRs Pierre Garcon, Andrew Hawkins, Andre Roberts, Jerome Simpson.


Josh Gordon, WR, Browns at Colts.  Over the last two weeks, the rookie has notched three passing scores with only five receptions.  Two of those TD catches covered more than 60 yards; so it’s all or nothing with Gordon.  The Colts are stingy in the yardage department, but they have surrendered 10 passing scores to date.  Look for Gordon to be dancing in the end zone again on Sunday.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gives up after six weeks because you’ve gotten off to a bad start.  Many leagues grant wild-card playoff entries to high-scoring teams with poor win-loss records.  Meanwhile, injuries to key players can turn the tide for high-flying squads at any time, providing an opening for you to regain your footing.  If nothing else, keep playing for pride and the integrity of your league.  No one appreciates beating an opponent that’s already checked out.