Maurice Jones-Drew (Getty Images)
Last week, six of the 14 contests were all but decided by half time. This week the matchups are, for the most part, a little more even, which is good for fantasy football teams.
The close games with multiple lead changes forces all of a team’s starters to play, and offenses must feed it to their star players. Blowouts on the other hand allow the winning team to rest starters and force the losing team to abandon their running game. This week, the Dolphins, Colts, Cowboys and 49ers all have the week off, so let’s look at players who need to start, those who need to ride the pine, and sleepers you should consider. And let’s keep our fingers crossed for close games and many lead changes.
Who is poised for a big game?
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
No one should’ve been surprised that McNabb had such a strong outing last week against the Bucs, and now he faces the Raiders. Easy call.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
The Bears defense isn’t defending the pass well, and Matt Ryan knows how to chuck it, and his receivers get yards after the catch.
Anyone involved in the Seahawks passing game
Matt Hasselbeck, Nate Burleson, John Carlson, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh should all enjoy another week of success against the Cardinals, who have major problems when it comes to pass defense.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers
The Lions have to respect Aaron Rodgers after the past two weeks, so look for things to open up for Grant. Last year when the Packers played the Lions at home, Grant accumulated over 120 yards, so look for a repeat performance.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Assuming Mike Sims-Walker doesn’t miss bed check and the coaching staff sticks with an offensive line, Drew should explode against the Rams. He’s fired up, wants the ball and the Jaguars need this win at home.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals
The Texans will try (and likely fail) to contain Cedric Benson, but Ochocinco will shine just as much. All he has to do is watch what Larry Fitzgerald did the week before against the Texans.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots
Brady is getting back on track, and that means only good things for Moss owners, especially since the Pats are going against a Titans defense who can’t stop the pass.
Ben Watson, TE, Patriots
He’s a valuable asset in the red zone for Brady and has scored three times this season. Moss and Welker command attention so Watson can get open easily against the Titans.
If Troy Polamalu is back to full health, the Browns will have their hands full. If you remember Polamalu’s stellar play prior to the injury in week 1, then you know how much of an impact he will have in forcing turnovers and ending drives.
Who needs to ride the bench?
Anyone on the Bills offense
It’s just not clicking in Buffalo. T.O. should stand for Too Old, Trent Edwards can’t get the ball out fast enough, and Fred Jackson has yet to find the end zone on the ground. No thanks.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants
Although he’s averaging 6.5 yards per carry, the Saints defense is playing hungry right now, so don’t look for much production.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns
Without a viable passing threat in Cleveland, the Steelers would be smart to stack the box against Lewis.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals
Although he leads the team in receptions and carries, the Seahawks linebackers will key in on him and stuff him much like they did Maurice Jones Drew last week.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets
He’s questionable, so even if he does play I wouldn’t expect him to be a huge factor in the Jets game plan. And now Braylon Edwards is opposite of him stealing all the receptions.
They aren’t playing as well as they should, and the Falcons are explosive on offense without being careless with the ball.