In “Start or Sit,” we make a call on players who merit strong starting consideration — and players who might be best on the bench. However, owners should tailor their own lineup strategy to their roster constraints, league rules and other relevant factors.
Here’s our Week 10 rundown:
Dolphins passing game players (vs. Tennessee) — Opponents are completing 72.2 percent of their passes against the Titans, who are allowing 273.4 net passing yards and more than two passing TDs per contest. At the very least, WR Brian Hartline merits strong consideration. Owners in bigger leagues might also want to give QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Davone Bess and TE Anthony Fasano looks, too; all look like viable plug-and-plays for Week 10.
Cowboys passing game players (at Philadelphia) — TE Jason Witten is already a must-start for many fantasy owners, so there's no need to discuss why to play him. However, QB Tony Romo and WRs Dez Bryant and Miles Austin might not be surefire starters for some fantasy owners. The Cowboys' offense can be tug-at-your-hair frustrating, and some fantasy players just might not want to risk the aggravation. I understand that line of thinking. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the Cowboys' offense wasn't sitting on a big effort Sunday. The Eagles' defense allowed a season-worst 6.9 yards per play in Week Nine and looks to be regressing. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have piled up a combined 727 net passing yards in the past two games.
Bills RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson (at New England) — There's a lot of chatter about the Bills giving Spiller and Jackson just six carries apiece in the Week Nine loss at Houston. My advice? Ignore it and keep the Bills' backs in your lineups. Even if the Bills have to abandon the run on Sunday, Spiller and Jackson figure to be active in the passing game. Jackson has 18 catches in the past three games, with Spiller hauling in 15 passes. The Patriots have a stout run defense, but they are shaky vs. the pass. Doesn't Bills-Patriots, Part II feel like it's going to be prominiently featured on the "NFL RedZone Channel" on Sunday?
Saints WR Devery Henderson (vs. Atlanta) — Call this a deep, deep sleeper play. Here's my theory: The Falcons had a good deal of trouble with TE Jimmy Graham (11-124-2) a season ago. Graham, who has caught a TD pass in each of the last two games, looks to be back in good form. Graham will draw a good deal of attention from the Falcons — and it's not as if he's the only short-and-intermediate target the Falcons must worry about. Could Henderson get free for a deep ball or two? I wouldn't be stunned. Note that the Falcons had a lot of problems stopping the swift Robert Meachem in his last two seasons with New Orleans. As, say, a third or fourth wideout, Henderson really intrigues me this week.
Eagles QB Michael Vick (vs. Dallas) — Considering the Eagles' pass-protection issues, I wouldn't be rushing to start Vick this week. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rex Ryan figures to test Philadelphia's ability to deal with various pressure packages. Most of all, though, I haven't liked what I have seen from the Eagles in their first two games after their bye. They didn't play well at all in a Week Eight loss to Atlanta, and their struggles carried over to the Week Nine defeat at New Orleans. I just don't have high hopes for the Eagles' offense right now. This doesn't mean that I would bench Vick if I didn't have a clearly better option, but if I did, I wouldn't want to take the risk that the Eagles can't handle the Cowboys' pressure — which won't be an out-of-the-blue outcome.
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (at Cincinnati) — The Bengals' run defense has been tough in recent weeks, allowing 3.8 yards per carry or less in four of the past five games. Also, Bradshaw's production has fallen in the last three games. Backup Andre Brown, meanwhile, has a one-yard TD run in each of those contests. I don't have Bradshaw on any of my teams, but just writing the previous sentence made me cringe. Everyone has had a back who has started to lose goal-line carries. If I had solid RB depth, I'd think long and hard about sitting Bradshaw this week — and I'd hope like heck for a post-bye change of policy from the Giants.
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (vs. Denver) — I suspect he's going to end up in more lineups this week because of his 30-yard TD run last Sunday. Nevertheless, I'm still not high on Williams in Week 10 and beyond. He had just six carries a week ago, and he wasn't targeted in the passing game. By contrast, Jonathan Stewart had 11 touches (10 carries, one reception). In the past three weeks, Stewart has 37 carries and eight catches, while Williams has 19 rushing attempts and no catches. Overall, Stewart is averaging more than eight touches in this span.
Texans QB Matt Schaub and Bears QB Jay Cutler — I'd much rather start Schaub, who has the better offensive line at his disposal. But I'm not crazy about starting most any quarterback against Chicago, with some very obvious exceptions. While Cutler comes off a three-TD game, he has thrown for one TD or less in half of his eight starts, and the Texans' defense is outstanding.