In the course of a week, you scour the waiver wire, read the projections for your players, do your own research and eventually come up with a starting lineup. Then you get nervous, switch a few players around and finally decide to stop tinkering.
And then Sunday morning comes, and you basically begin the whole process again. I know, it’s essentially my weekly routine.
But sometimes, you just want to identify a few players who you should be starting, no questions asked, no fretting and no second-guessing. On this list, you’ll find them. If you have the following players in your lineup, save yourself a bit of stress and leave them in that starting spot.
|1||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||27|
|2||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||Detroit Lions||25|
|3||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||Tennessee Titans||23|
|4||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Cleveland Browns||20|
|5||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||19|
Breaking Down Nick Foles
Nick Foles has arrived, folks. He has 19 touchdown passes, no interceptions and is 5-1 as a starter, helping the Philadelphia Eagles become relevant in the playoff picture. He’s also been red-hot for fantasy owners savvy enough to add him, averaging 27.7 fantasy points in his past four games.
This week, he faces a Detroit Lions defense that has allowed 16 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in seven of the past eight weeks. If you own him, you absolutely should be starting him.
|1||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Washington||25|
|2||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||Dallas Cowboys||23|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||21|
|4||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||20|
|5||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos||Tennessee Titans||17|
Breaking Down DeMarco Murray
The issue for Murray isn’t how productive he is when healthy. In seven of the nine games he’s played this season, he’s scored nine or more fantasy points and has reached double-digit tallies seven times. The talent is there, and when the Dallas Cowboys make him a focal point of the game plan, he generally makes fantasy owners very happy.
Injuries will always be a concern for Murray, but he seems to be healthy now and has accumulated 53 fantasy points in the past three games. This week, he faces a Chicago Bears defense that has given up 20 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs in seven of the past eight weeks.
Look for Murray to shred this defense and make his fantasy owners very, very happy.
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||24|
|2||DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||Detroit Lions||20|
|3||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Buffalo Bills||19|
|4||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||Indianapolis Colts||17|
|5||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||16|
|6||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||16|
Breaking Down Vincent Jackson
Owning Vincent Jackson has always been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, as he’ll absolutely blow up in certain weeks and disappear in others. In his past six games, he’s had point totals of seven, one, two, 22, six and seven.
Not exactly the picture of consistency.
Still, Jackson has a pretty tasty matchup against the Buffalo Bills this week, a team that just gave up 10 receptions for 143 yards to Roddy White. The Bills have given up 18 or more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers 10 times this season, so V-Jax should have a big afternoon.
|1||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Cleveland Browns||20|
|2||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||17|
|3||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||16|
|4||Julius Thomas*||Denver Broncos||Tennessee Titans||14|
|5||Jared Cook||St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||14|
Breaking Down Jared Cook
Jared Cook at No. 5? JARED FREAKING COOK?!
Yes, Jared Cook. I know he’s been less boom and more bust this year, but a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals this week is just begging to be exploited.
Arizona has been dreadful against tight ends this year, allowing 14.5 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week, by far the worst mark in the NFL. And remember, Cook torched this defense for seven catches, 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.
He’s rarely a safe option. This week, he seems about as safe as it gets at the shaky tight end position.
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||Washington||16|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks||13|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||13|
|4||Baltimore Ravens||Minnesota Vikings||12|
|5||Cincinnati Bengals||Indianapolis Colts||12|
Breaking Down the Baltimore Ravens
I’ve gone back and forth on this pick. The Ravens have been pretty inconsistent, with seven weeks of seven fantasy points or more, four weeks with double-digit points and five weeks of four points or less. They generally either really help you or really hurt you.
But even with Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings have allowed opposing defenses to score 10 or more points eight times this season. All Day will get his, but expect the Ravens to force turnovers when the Vikings are forced to pass and to really pressure the quarterback, as they have 37 sacks on the season, tied for fourth in the NFL.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots||Cleveland Browns||16|
|2||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||Tennessee Titans||15|
|3||Justin Tucker||Baltimore Ravens||Minnesota Vikings||14|
|4||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||13|
|5||Robbie Gould||Chicago Bears||Dallas Cowboys||13|
Breaking Down Justin Tucker
Folks, Justin Tucker had 19 fantasy points this week, which put him equal with players like Matt Stafford, Le’Veon Bell and Fred Jackson. Didn’t see that one coming, huh?
Well, don’t be surprised if he puts up big numbers against a Vikings team that has given up seven or more fantasy points 10 times this season and has given up double-digit points to kickers in five of the last six weeks.
That’s right, folks—serious kicker analysis coming at you. Kickers are fickle beasts, but Tucker has been quite good for owners this year (nine weeks with eight or more fantasy points) and has a plus matchup, so keep him in that starting lineup.
Hit me up on Twitter—I’ll answer your fantasy lineup questions, tweet random fantasy musings and try to discern if Josh Gordon is on a regimen of Super-Soldier Serum.