START 'EM - SIT 'EM
Teams on a bye: Broncos, Jaguars, 49ers, Rams, Titans, Redskins
Well, this is my first installment of Start 'Em/Sit 'Em, and I'll do my best to indicate a few players at each position that you should either have in your lineup or leave on your bench.
Start of the Week
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The Packers offense hasn't exactly lit up the world - either real or fantasy - over the past couple of weeks, and they really looked out of sync against the Jets last week. To their credit, the Jets are a formiddable defense, but that's no excuse with the options the Packers have on offense. Both Rodgers and his coach, Mike McCarthy, have both come out this week with a renewed sense of urgency for the offense, and Rodgers especially has been working hard to get the offense going. And it helps that this week they face a Cowboys team that has, quite frankly, mailed it in for the season. Under the bright lights of Sunday night, at home, look for the Packers to finally get it going. In a big way.
QBs - Start 'Em
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
It's true that Jay Cutler is starting to remind everyone in Chicago of Rex Grossman. Which one will they get from week to week? The good Jay, or the bad Jay? In their last game, Cutler threw 4 picks and lost a fumble. To the Redskins. I say that this week, with their hopes for making the post-season starting to get away from them, and the fact that they are facing a Buffalo team that has a horrendous secondary, Cutler will get back on track.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
With a stifling defense and great running game, you'd think that the Giants wouldn't need to lean on Manning so much to keep them in games. But recently, that's exactly what's been happening. And against a Seahawks team that isn't very consistent on defense, I expect Manning to get off to a good start early. If things get out of hand, the G-Men might go to the run in the second half, so temper expectations.
QBs - Sit 'Em
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer has been absolutely horrible all year, and this week he gets to face the Steelers, who are angry about losing on the big stage to New Orleans last week. You'd think that with TO on one side and Chad Ochocinco on the other that Palmer would put up better numbers. But he hasn't. And he won't this week.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
How do you justify sitting down a guy who has Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, and Owen Daniels to throw the ball to? You almost can't. Except that they are playing against San Diego, who haven't given up a whole lot of passing TDs this year. Granted, San Diego has been playing from behind a lot so teams are running on them, but you can't overlook their secondary. Schaub was exposed by a ferocious blitzing front 7 last week, and that game tape will be studied hard by the Chargers. If you have no better option, start Schaub. Otherwise, sit him down for a week.
RBs - Start 'Em
LaDanian Tomlinson, New York Jets
Last week's stinker against Green Bay at home aside, Tomlinson has been the man since coming to the Jets. He was supposed to be the spell back for Shonn Greene, but quickly has risen to the top of the pile. And although he doesn't have his MVP year form any more, you can't sit this guy. Especially not when he's facing the Lions.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Over the course of the year, McFadden has rushed for 668 yards and 4 TDs, with a gaudy 5.5 ypc average. He was hurt for a bit in September and October, but he came back on fire against Denver 2 weeks back. Look for him to continue his running dominance, especially considering the QB mess.
RBs - Sit 'Em
All RBs, Dallas Cowboys
Marion Barber has ball security issues, Felix Jones is hurt, and Tashard Choice doesn't have enough starting experience to warrant inserting him this week. The Cowboys backfield can be dominant at times, but not this year. Avoid all running backs in this backfield from here on out.
All RBs, Green Bay Packers
When Ryan Grant went down for the season, Brandon Jackson was supposed to step into the main guy role and run to daylight. Unfortunately, John Kuhn continues to get the bulk of the work, leaving Jackson sitting on the sidelines. And the really down side of this is that the Packers are a pass-first team, meaning the RBs don't get much love no matter who is in there.
WRs - Start 'Em
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
You've got Tom Brady throwing the ball, and a Cleveland defense that's given up a ton of points to WRs this year. Welker also happens to be the possession receiver on the team, and has a tendency to get a lot of targets when the chains need to be moved. A solid play this week.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
White is on pace for 120+ receptions, 1,400+ yards, and double-digit TDs. And coming back from the bye, I don't expect his production to drop at all. If you've got him on your team, you have to start him.
WRs - Sit 'Em
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
You probably spent a high draft pick on the guy, and he's been less than stellar. That's what happens to great wideouts when the QB carousel spins round and round. This week it stops on Derek Anderson who, by all accounts, shouldn't even be allowed to suit up. He makes bad decisions, throws the ball to where it shouldn't be thrown, and looks like a high school kid playing in the pros. And this affects Fitzgerald.
Lee Evans, Buffalo Bills
This is another situation of a great wideout on a team with a QB who isn't the right guy. Can Fitzpatrick eventually take the reins and drive this team to a win? Maybe. But by that time, Evans may not be in Buffalo anymore. Sub-par QBs really hurt a WRs value, and this is no exception.
TEs - Start 'Em
Mike Tamme, Indianapolis Colts
When Dallas Clark went down, everybody thought the Colts were just going to use their WRs and forget the TE position. Then Tamme came in and went off against the Texans. The kid is raw and needs help blocking, but he's got soft hands and a knack for getting to the open spot. Start him with confidence, and you will be rewarded.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
This is another example of a guy who just knows where to be, and when to be there. He's a great security blanket for Michael Vick (not that he needs one), and Vick continues to look his way. With DeSean Jackson's status up in the air, Celek is a good start.
TEs - Sit 'Em
Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears
For a guy that was supposed to come in and be the man at the position, he's been nothing short of disappointing. He gets targets - when he can get open, and that isn't very often. He has his moments where he has flashes of pro bowl talent, but that is all wiped out every time he drops the ball. If you've got depth, start someone else.
Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints
Unlike Olsen above, Shockey has talent. The problem here is that Drew Brees has so many weapons that Shockey doesn't get enough targets. And that's going to continue this week, especially seeing as Shockey is more of a possession receiver and not a deep threat. Brees will want to exploit Carolina's secondary, and Shockey doesn't have the ability to help with that.
I don't do Starts and Sits for Kickers. Why? They are kickers. It's a freaking crap shoot with these guys. I mean, Dan Carpenter kicked 10 field goals in the last 2 weeks. Do you think he can keep it up? I don't know either.
D/ST - Start 'Em
New England Patriots
Colt McCoy gets another starting nod this week for Cleveland, and that's got the Patriots secondary licking their chops. Look for lots of blitzes and different looks as they try to get the kid off his game and into making some bad throws that could go for 6 the other way.
It's a home game, and the Ravens are in the thick of the AFC North race. In order to stay in that race, they'll need to win a huge game against the Dolphins this week. I think their defense is going to really step up in front of the home crowd and make Chad Henne make some bad decisions.
D/ST - Sit 'Em
The secondary isn't that good to begin with, and now they get to face Phillip Rivers and a Chargers team trying to claw their way back into contention in the AFC West. Not a good sign for a Texans team coming off a huge loss to Indianapolis where they were exposed by a patient Peyton Manning.
This is going to sound odd, but the Lions defense isn't that bad this year. Ndamokung Suh is a force in the middle, and they've got the right pieces starting to fall into place in the secondary. But the Jets are furious over their offensive play last week, and they are going to take it out on the Lions this week.