QB: Andrew Luck vs. GB – Andrew Luck makes a solid start this week because he’ll likely be airing it out relentlessly against the Packers defense. Facing a defense that allows an average of 27.7 points per game, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are likely to put up points in a hurry. Expect the young rookie to have plenty pass attempts to fire back. Against a middle of the road Packers defense, Luck should be able to top 300 yards and two touchdowns.
RB: Matt Forte at JAC – I know many Forte owners are concerned after his sub-par performance last week but I’m here to tell you not to worry. Matt Forte is one of the most talented backs in the league and can generate yards and catches in a hurry. There is reason to believe that he’ll continue to lose the goal-line carries to Michael Bush but Forte doesn’t need touchdowns to generate production. The Bears offense struggled without Forte; in two games, Cutler completed 28 of 58 passes for just 309 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. The Bears will be sure to get their star running back the ball in this plus matchup.
Ryan Mathews at NO – Few players have been spoken about more this week than Ryan Mathews and there’s a reason he’s getting so much attention; the guy can flat out play. Many inexperienced owners will ask questions like “What has Mathews ever done?” Well, Mathews finished as the No. 7 running back last season despite a series of challenges: Missing two games, having Mike Tolbert steal eight rushing touchdowns, and playing just 48 percent (under half) of the Chargers offensive snaps. What these statistics tell us is just how effective Ryan Mathews is on a per-play basis. There’s no question that with a full-workload, (as Norv Turner previously promised) Mathews can be a top-five running back from here on out. Despite Jackie Battle being listed ahead on the depth chart, don’t be afraid to trot Mathews out against a Saints defense that has allowed the second most points to opposing running backs.
Cedric Benson at IND – Since Week 1, Cedric Benson has received carry totals of 20, 17, and 18, while catching four passes in each. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements announced this week that he isn’t planning on reducing Benson’s workload. With only three teams allowing more points to running backs than the Colts, Benson has the look of a high-end RB2 in this juicy matchup.
Frank Gore vs. BUF – The Bills defense has been gashed this season – giving up a healthy 32.8 points per game while being especially susceptible to the rush. Last week Steven Ridley and Brandon Bolden erupted against the Bills, combining for 38 carries, 254 yards (good for 6.68 YPC) and three touchdowns. Gore will have plenty of chances to produce in this plus matchup.
WR: Julio Jones at WAS – There may not be a better breakout matchup in all of fantasy than Julio Jones against the porous Redskins secondary. Allowing the second most passing yards per game at 326.2, the Redskins have allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than any team in the league. While the league average for points allowed to opposing wide receivers is at 22.0, the Redskins have allowed an absurd 37.6. Expect big things from Jones and Matt Ryan this week.
Domenik Hixon vs. CLE – With Hakeem Nicks out with an injury last week, Domenik Hixon showed that he’s ahead of Ramses Barden on the Giants depth chart by catching six of his 11 targets for 114 yards. On Tuesday it was reported that Ramses Barden suffered a concussion in Week 4, meaning that Hixon will have even less competition for targets this week. Hixon has a juicy matchup against a Browns defense that was torched by Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin last week; start him.
James Jones at IND – James Jones caught two touchdowns last week and has shown solid chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. With a favorable matchup against the Colts, I’d feel comfortable starting him as a WR3. Jones has five catches in each of his last two games and figures to get more looks with Jennings out. Don’t be afraid to trot him out in what will be a high-scoring affair for the Packers.
Jeremy Maclin at PIT – Jeremy Maclin has disappointed owners since Week 1, missing a game and catching just two passes for 30 yards in the two games he did play. While he wasn’t a big part of the Eagles game plan last week, that will likely change this week. Still the Eagles most talented receiver, the coaching staff was likely concerned about Maclin’s health last week. I expect Maclin to start recovering from his slow start this week.
TE: Martellus Bennett vs. CLE – With an average of 5/61.7/1 his first three games, don’t be scared of Bennett’s one catch performance in Week 4. Still a big part of the Giants offense, Bennett will be needed again this week with Nicks out. You don’t want to leave Bennett on your bench for the offensive explosion that should ensue when the Giants face the Browns.
QB: Jay Cutler at JAC – I don’t feel that strongly that Cutler isn’t going to perform but I do prefer many of the other quarterback options this week. I’d prefer to play Luck, Roethlisberger, Rivers or Flacco. Cutler has yet to prove he’s consistent and until then, I wouldn’t advise playing him behind the Bears awful offensive line.
RB: CJ Spiller at SF – Spiller was fantastic to start the year off and I’m still a believer in his talent, however I can’t justify playing him against the stout 49ers defense. He’s likely to receive 12-15 touches against a defense that tackles very well and doesn’t allow many big plays. Considering the Bills will likely fall behind and be forced to pass, I don’t have a lot of faith in Spiller this week.
Fred Jackson at SF – Just like CJ Spiller, Jackson just doesn’t have a great chance at a productive fantasy game this week. The 49ers are giving up an average of 79.5 rush yards per game and have allowed just one touchdown. Splitting with Spiller severely limits the output that Jackson can have.
Steven Jackson vs. AZ – Steven Jackson looked healthy last week but his matchup this week is the reason why you’ll want to leave him on your bench. Jackson has completely underwhelmed this season, averaging just 48.8 rushing yards per game and just 3.3 yards per carry. I wouldn’t want to rely on him turning it around against a stout Cardinals defense that has allowed just 3.6 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown on the season.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. MIA – Things have quickly gone down hill for one of the league’s least talented starting running backs. Always known as a plodder, Green-Ellis has impressed coaches throughout his career by not fumbling. Over the last two weeks however, Green-Ellis has fumbled three times, while plodding to 120 yards on 43 carries – good for a YPC of just 2.79. This week he faces one of the league’s strongest run defenses, the Dolphins, who have held rushers to a league low 2.4 yards per carry. Considering, with Bernard Scott back, Green-Ellis will be sitting on third-downs, I’d rather leave him on my bench this week.
WR: Andre Roberts at STL – Despite catching four touchdowns in four games, I’m still not sold on Andre Roberts. He may be able to carve out a role due to the distraction of Fitzgerald on the opposite side of the field, but I’d still like to see more before starting him. He’s not drawing consistent enough targets to maintain his touchdown rate.
Randall Cobb at IND – As big of fan as I am of Randall Cobb’s ability, his average of 5.25 targets per game isn’t enough for him to have a consistent fantasy role. I would love to say that Jennings injury will give him more playing time but the last game that Jennings sat, Cobb received just two targets on his way to disappointing owners. Don’t get me wrong, Cobb still has special talent but needs the ball in his hands more to justify having a spot in your starting lineup.
Jeremy Kerley vs. HOU – With Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill out, Jeremy Kerley will start for the lowly Jets. Some owners like Kerley as a plug-in start but I’m not recommending him against a stud Texan defense. See the problem is Kerley plays on the Jets, which means he has to rely on Sanchez (or maybe Tebow) to get him the ball. In a game against one of the league’s best defenses, I’d leave him on my bench.
TE: Scott Chandler at SF – Last week Scott Chandler rewarded owners who started him with two touchdowns. Amazingly, out of the 12 balls that Chandler has caught, four have been for touchdowns. Considering he’s averaging just 43.8 yards per game, he needs touchdowns for production. Against the 49ers defense, I’d bet against him scoring a touchdown.
Thanks for reading! Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!