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1. Matt Ryan 28.4 FPs (ATL vs. OAK) – Matt Ryan slipped to second on the top fantasy scorers of the season list, but the top player, Drew Brees, is on a bye. Also, the Atlanta Falcons are playing our 29th ranked defense at home where Ryan has been very good throughout his career.
2. Robert Griffin III 24.4 FPs (WAS vs. MIN) – ASSUMING HE PLAYS, Griffin’s running and passing talent makes him a must start quarterback each week at quarterback. We are assuming he plays this week. (Stay tuned/see below)
3. Michael Vick 23.3 FPs (PHI vs. DET) – The Detroit Lions are coming off of a bye and should get their starting safety, Louis Delmas, back for this game. That would be a deterrent to many quarterbacks, but it does not impact Vick’s fantasy status much as Detroit is not very good against the run or the pass.
Breakout Candidate: Kevin Kolb 22.8 FPs (ARI vs. BUF) – Buffalo, Kolb’s opponent in this game, has allowed 8.0 yards-per-pass, has intercepted just two percent of opposing passes and has a below average pass rush (plus, Mark Anderson will miss this game). Kolb has played above average pass defenses in three straight games and still has 835 passing yards for five touchdowns and two interceptions in those games.
Must Avoid: Tom Brady 16.2 FPS (NE @ SEA) – Not only is Seattle the toughest place to in the NFL, Seattle has one of the best secondaries in the league and a very good pass rush. The Seahawks allow just 5.5 yards-per-pass and have given up an average of just 10.0 fantasy points a game to opposing QBs.
1. Arian Foster 21.4 FPs (HOU vs. GB) – Foster continued his streak of five consecutive games with 25+ touches to start the season with a 23 fantasy point performance on Monday night against the Jets. The Packers have a bottom ten run defense and will likely be without DT BJ Raji.
2. Jamaal Charles 17.6 FPs (KC @ TB) – Tampa Bay actually has a pretty good run defense under Greg Schiano, but, with Matt Cassel, Peyton Hillis and potentially even Shaun Draughn and Jon Baldwin out this week, Charles is the Chiefs offense. He has averaged 31 touches a game in the last three games.
3. Trent Richardson 17.3 FPs (CLE vs. CIN) – Earlier in the season, Richardson had a breakout game in Cincinnati with 145 total yards and two touchdowns. When he faces the Bengals again this week, Richardson, who still leads the league in team rush percentage at 86.2%, could be even more of a focal point to the offense than of late. Winds are expected to gust up to 35 MPH which could make passing difficult.
Breakout Candidate: Vick Ballard 9.3 FPs (IND @ NYJ) – With Ballard, Alex Green and William Powell stepping in for Donald Brown, Cedric Benson and Ryan Williams/Beanie Wells this week, we finally have some valuable waiver wire pickups as three new players look to make their first career starts at running back. We loved Ballard in the draft and think he has the best chance of that group to breakout this week. The Colts have the highest rush percentage out of the Colts, Packers and Cardinals and are facing a porous Jets run defense.
Must Avoid: Ahmad Bradshaw 12.0 FPs (NYG @ SF) – Technically, our “must avoid” player is ranked two spots ahead of our “breakout candidate” in our RB rankings, so I would not necessarily avoid Bradshaw, but it may make sense to look elsewhere for a RB2 this week and, at the very least temper expectations. Bradshaw is coming off of a 29 point fantasy day. He had 25 fantasy points before last week. Now, he takes on San Francisco’s staunch defense and the Giants’ coaching staff is already talking about giving Bradshaw a break to work in rookie David Wilson.
1. Percy Harvin 13.8 FPs (MIN @ WAS) – When Washington plays these days, it’s wise to start just about anyone you may own in that game (potentially including Kai Forbath who the Redskins just signed at kicker over Billy Cundiff). Starting Harvin is like getting running back value out of a wide receiver. He has averaged about ten touches for 94 yards a game this season and is always a threat to score. Normal wide receivers don’t do that.
2. Larry Fitzgerald 13.3 FPs (ARI vs. BUF) – See Kevin Kolb above.
3. Roddy White 13.3 FPs (ATL vs. OAK) – Last season, White led the league in passing targets. While we expected him to be a top 15 fantasy receiver again this year, Julio Jones looked like the more explosive player and the better fantasy option. While Jones has been pretty good, White is again among the leaders in targets at nine a game and has 10+ PPR fantasy points in all five of his games thus far.
Breakout Candidate: Andre Roberts 12.2 FPs (ARI vs. BUF) – See Larry Fitzgerald above.
Must Avoid: Stevie Johnson 7.4 FPs (BUF @ ARI) – Standout wide receiver performances in Arizona should be limited to the Cardinals this week. Johnson has averaged just 8.3 fantasy points a game this season (just six FPs combined in the last two games) and will go up against elite cornerback Patrick Peterson.
1. Tony Gonzalez 12.8 FPs (ATL vs. OAK)
2. Vernon Davis 11.2 FPs (SF vs. NYG)
3. Kyle Rudolph 10.2 FPs (MIN @ WAS)
Breakout Candidate: Owen Daniels 9.3 FPs (HOU vs. GB)
Must Avoid: Brandon Pettigrew 5.9 FPs (DET @ PHI)
1. Alex Henery 9.8 FPs (PHI vs. DET)
2. Blair Walsh 9.8 FPs (MIN @ WAS)
3. Jason Hanson 9.3 FPs (DET @ PHI)
Breakout Candidate: Kai Forbath 8.2 FPs (WAS vs. MIN)
Must Avoid: Mason Crosby 5.7 FPs (GB @ HOU)
1. Miami Dolphins 14.2 FPs (CHI @ JAC)
2. Atlanta Falcons 12.2 FPs (ATL vs. OAK)
3. Arizona Cardinals 11.6 FPs (ARI vs. BUF)
Breakout Candidate: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9.5 FPS (TB vs. KC)
Must Avoid: Minnesota Vikings 0 FPs (MIN @ WAS)
Injuries to Watch
1. Robert Griffin III While we held a relatively high opinion of Kirk Cousins entering the draft, RGIII is in a completely different stratosphere when it comes to quarterback play, especially for fantasy output. If Griffin plays, he is a top three quarterback, the Vikings defense is a terrible play, Fred Davis, Alfred Morris and Santana Moss are worth starts and the Redskins should win in a shootout. If Cousins starts, Morris is a fringe starter at RB, Davis and Moss are not playable and the Vikings defense moves into our top ten.
2. Starting RBs We noted it above, but this is the first week where major players at the RB position are going to be out, paving the way for guys to be picked up off the waiver wire. Donald Brown for the Colts, Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells for the Cardinals and Cedric Benson for the Packers are all 15-20 touch a game backs who will be out for multiple weeks. Their backups have value in this order: Vick Ballard (Colts), William Powell (Cardinals), James Starks (Packers – who is a better play than Alex Green to pick up and stash until he gets healthier) and Alex Green (Packers).
3. Hakeem Nicks This is not the best week to be counting on the New York Giants offense as they head to San Francisco, but, though he has not played since September 16, Nicks is still worth starting consideration if he plays. Unlike most weeks where, if he does not play, we tend to like whichever player is most likely to replace him in the Giants’ lineup, without Nicks, Eli Manning should be relegated to the bench, Ahmad Bradshaw is a fringe start at RB and only Victor Cruz is a player for New York worth plugging in and counting on.
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