Every week, I get a lot of questions from people on Twitter asking me if they should trust their stars despite tough upcoming matchups. And depending on the player—some guys should never, ever be doubted—their fears are generally warranted.
That said, there are plenty of stars with favorable matchups this week whom you absolutely, positively should trust. You’ll find them in my top-10 rankings, and we’ll break a few of them down, along with providing an overall look at each position this week.
Notes: Points against stats via ESPN. Point totals are for standard-scoring leagues. The St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys are on a bye.
|1||Robert Griffin III||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||28|
|2||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington||25|
|3||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||New England Patriots||24|
|4||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||22|
|5||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||San Francisco 49ers||21|
|6||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||20|
|7||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||Minnesota Vikings||18|
|8||Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||17|
|9||Case Keenum||Houston Texans||Oakland Raiders||17|
|10||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16|
That said, it doesn’t mean either one is the top option this week. They remain in the QB1 grouping, but matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, limit their upside somewhat.
Generally speaking, I think you trust your studs at quarterback this week. A few players have emerged in the later weeks—well hello there, Nick Foles and Case Keenum—but don’t get too fancy at quarterback.
And don’t trust Tom Brady just yet—the Carolina Panthers give up just 8.4 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per game, best in the NFL.
|1||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington||22|
|2||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||Minnesota Vikings||21|
|3||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Denver Broncos||19|
|4||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Seattle Seahawks||18|
|5||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints||17|
|6||Reggie Bush||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||17|
|7||Alfred Morris||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||16|
|8||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||Baltimore Ravens||15|
|9||Giovani Bernard||Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||14|
|10||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||New York Giants||13|
Much like the quarterback position, you trust your studs at running back this week.
Yes, the questions get interesting in the RB2 ranks—can you trust Stevan Ridley against the Carolina Panthers? Can we trust Ray Rice or C.J. Spiller again this season? Will Knowshon Moreno disappear against Kansas City? How much will Chris Johnson produce against the Indianapolis Colts—but the RB1 group is pretty much par for the course this week.
Matt Forte isn’t a tough call to start given how good he has been this year, but his upside seems limited by a Baltimore Ravens defense giving up just 10.4 points to opposing running backs per week, best in the NFL. Still, Giovani Bernard managed 14 points against them last weekend, so Forte should produce as well.
LeSean McCoy is still a steady RB1, but he probably won’t be one of the top two or three options very often the rest of the way. With Foles starting, McCoy is averaging 12.2 points. When Foles hasn’t started this year, McCoy averaged 14.8 points and exceeded 20 points twice.
Still, a matchup against Washington is tantalizing to put him atop the rankings this week.
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||23|
|2||DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||Washington||20|
|3||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||Baltimore Ravens||19|
|4||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Cincinnati Bengals||18|
|5||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||16|
|6||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||15|
|7||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||Oakland Raiders||14|
|8||Pierre Garcon||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||14|
|9||Larry Fitzgerald||Arizona Cardinals||Jacksonville Jaguars||13|
|10||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||Detroit Lions||13|
Welcome back to the land of the WR1, Andre Johnson—you were sorely missed. Sixty-three fantasy points in his past three games with Keenum under center will do that. This week, he replaces Jordy Nelson, who has exactly nine receptions for 96 yards since Aaron Rodgers went down to injury in the Green Bay Packers’ first drive against the Chicago Bears two weeks ago.
A lot of folks have questioned why I have Josh Gordon so high, and the answer is two-fold. First, the Cincinnati Bengals are without their top cover corner, Leon Hall. Second, Gordon has reached seven or more fantasy points in five of seven games and has hit double-digit points four times.
I think he’s locked and loaded as a WR1, barring truly tough matchups.
A.J. Green also drops out of the top 10 this week with a tough assignment lining up across from Joe Haden, making it a tough week for elite receiving options considering Dez Bryant is on bye and Wes Welker could have a tough week against a good Kansas City offense.
Still, mainstays of the WR1 group—Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Marshall and Demaryius Thomas—aren’t going anywhere and seem matchup-proof at this point. And look for Vincent Jackson to break his string of three-straight games with seven fantasy points or less against the same Atlanta Falcons defense he torched in Week 7 to the tune of 10 receptions, 138 yards and two touchdowns.
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||San Francisco 49ers||17|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Carolina Panthers||17|
|3||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||Cincinnati Bengals||15|
|4||Vernon Davis*||San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints||14|
|5||Jordan Reed||Washington||Philadelphia Eagles||13|
|6||Tony Gonzalez*||Atlanta Falcons||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13|
|7||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||11|
|8||Antonio Gates||San Diego Chargers||Miami Dolphins||10|
|9||Timothy Wright||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||9|
|10||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||New England Patriots||9|
*If he plays
In general, this position is so thin that you have no choice but to trust your studs.
And honestly, players like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas have done nothing to make you doubt them. Jordan Cameron torched the Bengals for 10 receptions, 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 4, so he should get back on track after having just one reception for four yards last week.
The only real concern among the top 10 is the health of Vernon Davis and Tony Gonzalez. Davis practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday, so he should be good to go, though Gonzalez didn’t practice and looks like a game-time decision.
If he starts, you start him. But have a backup plan in place.
|1||Seattle Seahwks||Minnesota Vikings||18|
|2||Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||16|
|3||New York Jets||Buffalo Bills||15|
|4||Arizona Cardinals||Jacksonville Jaguars||14|
|5||Detroit Lions||Pittsburgh Steelers||12|
|6||New England Patriots||Carolina Panthers||11|
|7||Green Bay Packers||New York Giants||10|
|8||New York Giants||Green Bay Packers||10|
|9||Carolina Panthers||New England Patriots||9|
|10||Indianapolis Colts||Tennessee Titans||8|
Surprisingly, two of the top four fantasy defenses—the Chiefs and Niners—don’t even make this list, while starting the Panthers is absolutely terrifying against a rejuvenated Brady and New England Patriots offense coming off a bye.
I like the Panthers enough to keep them in the top 10, but they’re a risky selection nonetheless.
So, trust the Seattle Seahawks or Bengals, but after that, don’t be afraid to go with an unorthodox choice for your defense this week.
Hit me up on Twitter—I’ll answer your fantasy lineup questions, tweet random fantasy musings and wonder how the New Orleans Saints could earn almost as many first downs (40) on Sunday night as the Dallas Cowboys ran plays (43).