QB: Nick Foles vs. DAL – With Michael Vick banged up and Nick Foles currently red hot, I see little chance Chip Kelly doesn’t start Foles this week. Starting the season by completing 41 of 61 passes (67.2%) for 542 yards, seven total touchdowns and zero interceptions. His yards per attempt of 8.9 is 3rd behind just Peyton Manning and Michael Vick. Giving up an average of 22.7 fantasy points per game, no team has been a more favorable matchup for opposing quarterbacks than the Dallas Cowboys. Foles should have little problem moving the chains this week.
RB: Ray Rice at PIT – Amazingly, Ray Rice has topped 36 rushing yards in just one of his five games played this season. There’s certainly reason for concern but this week he has a solid matchup. Facing a Steelers’ defense that has allowed six rushing touchdowns to running backs in five games this season. Not including the last week’s game with the New York Jets, they’ve allowed at least one rushing touchdown to every team they’ve played. The Steelers are allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Ryan Mathews at JAC – I’m far from a Ryan Mathews advocate for many reasons but I’ll just list two: he isn’t involved in his team’s passing game and doesn’t strike me as a special talent as a rusher. That said, if there is a week to play him – it’s this one. Coming off his first 100-yard rushing game since the 2011 season, he is facing a Jaguars defense that is 32nd against the run. Not only are the Jaguars allowing a league high 152.5 rushing yards per game, but they’ve also allowed a league-high ten runs of 20+ yards. This is a game that the Chargers should be able to build up a lead and use Mathews as a clock-killer. He’s a solid start this week.
Giovani Bernard at DET – Currently getting the best of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the Bengals’ timeshare, Bernard played 50 snaps compared to the Law Firm’s 37 last week. Over this season, Bernard has carried the ball 60 times for 237 yards (4.0 YPC) compared to Green-Ellis’ 89 carries for 295 yards (3.3 YPC). Through the air, Bernard has caught 20 passes for 201 yards (10.1 YPR) compared to Green-Ellis’ 2 catches for 9 yards (4.5 YPR). Bernard is able to generate more fantasy points because he is more versatile and efficient. Bernard plays in the passing game and is much more elusive than Green-Ellis, consistently making plays in the open field. The Bengals have shown little preference in the red-zone, as both running backs have had opportunities. While Detroit has given up the 6th most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they’re stout in the middle. Expect the Bengals to get Bernard out on the edges in space to avoid the Lions’ interior line tandem of Suh and Fairley.
DeAngelo Williams vs. STL – After taking advantage of a cake matchup last week, DeAngelo Williams has another easy matchup. Facing a defense that has allowed 164 rushes for 764 yards (4.66 YPC) and six touchdowns to running backs already this season, Williams draws the 2nd most favorable matchup for opposing tailbacks. With the return of Jonathan Stewart looming, you’ll want to sell Williams high after this week.
WR: Dez Bryant at PHI – With six touchdowns in six games, you don’t need me to tell you to start Dez Bryant. I added Dez on here because I’m predicting a huge game for him. The immensely talented wide receiver squares off with an Eagles’ secondary that has already allowed 13 touchdowns to wide receivers this season – the Bills are 2nd with 10 touchdowns allowed. The Eagles have allowed 2+ touchdowns to the opposing team’s wide receivers in five of six games. Dez is a virtual lock to score a touchdown this week.
Mike Wallace vs. BUF – Behind the Eagles, the 2nd best matchup for opposing wide receivers is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have allowed an average of 14.2 catches for 227.5 receiving yards and 1.67 touchdowns to the opposing team’s wide receivers. Wallace has the opportunity to have a very good fantasy day.
Reggie Wayne vs. IND – Although Reggie Wayne didn’t quite exploit the Chargers’ secondary as much as I hoped – he has another solid matchup this week. Allowing the 3rd most points to opposing wide receivers, the Broncos jump out to huge leads and force their opponent to go pass-heavy on offense just to stay in the game. Last week, that led to a huge week for Justin Blackmon. The previous week it led to huge games for Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. This week, it should lead to big games for Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.
Steve Smith vs. STL – Yet to top 60 receiving yards in a game this season, there is certainly reason for concern for Steve Smith. His inability to capitalize on solid matchups against the Bills and Vikings is also alarming. Here’s why you should give Smith a chance this week: he’s facing a Rams defense that is allowing the 5th most points to opposing wide receivers. If he’s unable to put up solid numbers this week, it’s time to consider benching him.
TE: Jordan Cameron at GB – Over the past two weeks the Packers have struggled defending tight ends, allowing 13 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown to the Lions and Ravens. The Packers are 3rd against the run but just 28th against the pass. Expect the Browns to abandon the run and try to reincorporate Cameron. I also love Josh Gordon as a fantasy play this week.
QB: Colin Kaepernick at TEN – Coming off a promising performance against the Cardinals, Kaepernick draws an unfavorable matchup against the Titans. The Titans are allowing the 4th fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and haven’t allowed a passing touchdown for two weeks. Kaepernick does have the talent to be matchup-proof but there are better options this week.
RB: Le’Veon Bell vs. BAL – Despite Eddie Lacy’s success, I’m still weary of running backs playing against the Ravens. The Ravens are tied for 1st for the least rushing touchdowns allowed (1) and are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. They’re allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Considering the Ravens run defense is comparable to the Jets run defense, I’d expect a line similar to his game last week: 16 rushes for 34 yards and three receptions for 22 yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew vs. SD – Although you wouldn’t expect it, the Chargers have been solid against the run this season. They’ve yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing running back and are allowing an average of just 68.3 rushing yards over the last three games. Considering they’re allowing the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, I wouldn’t play Jones-Drew against them.
Willis McGahee at GB – The Packers have been a very difficult matchup for opposing running backs this season. They’re allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, the 3rd fewest in the league and are allowing just 78.2 rushing yards per game. Over the last two games, the Lions and Ravens have combined for 38 rushes for just 108 scoreless yards (2.84 YPC) against the Packers. Considering the plodding McGahee is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on the season, I would bench him against the Packers.
WR: Dwayne Bowe vs. HOU – With Captain Checkdown (Alex Smith) leading the Chiefs offense, Dwayne Bowe shouldn’t be counted on as more than a WR4. He’s yet to top 58 receiving yards this season and hasn’t caught more than four balls in a game. This week he faces an angry Texans defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Against the Texans, opposing wide receivers as a whole are averaging just seven catches for 75 yards.
Stevie Johnson at MIA – With Matt Flynn or Thad Lewis starting, Stevie Johnson should already be strapped to your bench but in case he isn’t, his matchup should be the final deterrent. The Dolphins are the only remaining team yet to allow a wide receiver to score a touchdown – every other team has allowed at least two. The Dolphins pass defense is surprisingly sharp, allowing the 5th fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
DeAndre Hopkins at KC – Playing at Arrowhead with a quarterback that has never played a regular season snap is certainly not a recipe for success. The Chiefs are allowing a league low 10.8 points per game and I’m still not convinced that Case Keenum can maintain solid drives. I expect the Texans to feed Arian Foster the ball early and often.
TE: Garrett Graham at KC – Another Texan who belongs on your bench is Garrett Graham. The Chiefs are allowing the fewest fantasy points in the NFL to opposing tight ends. Enemy tight ends have yet to score a touchdown against the Chiefs defense and are averaging just 3.7 catches for 27.7 yards.
Thanks for reading, good luck this week. Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!