Hello everyone, happy Thursday. I want to apologize to everyone for being a bit behind on this week’s column. I am getting a late start to the day after getting home at 5 A.M. from a failed trip to New York. As it has been mentioned before, I am an avid soccer fan, supporting DC United of the MLS. I was one of the unfortunate souls to travel with the fan group to New Jersey for United’s away playoff match against New York Red Bulls last night. After driving up on buses from DC and standing in blizzard-like conditions for 3 or 4 hours, they cancelled the game leaving us with a 4 hour drive back to the Baltimore/DC area (and me with a further 2 hour drive from that point) without getting to see a game. The only thing that really helped was that the players, coaches and investors from DC United jumped the walls and came up to personally thank the fans for coming out to the game. That was greatly appreciated, and a classy move. I want to put forward that the bus and ticket for the game was free due to previous game rescheduling issues, but somehow I still feel gypped. Unfortunately, along with many of the 600-700 fans who bused up for the game, my brother and I cannot turn around and make the trip again today. Add to the fact that we as a group spent a lot of money at the stadium in concessions makes the gesture to give us free buses and tickets almost moot. That being said, I personally hope that United puts a whooping on NYRB tonight to advance in the playoffs. Also, to end on a positive note, I want to commend everyone out on the pitch who spent over an hour shoveling snow to try to get the field ready for play.
Let’s now shift to this week’s picks for guys I like and don’t like in week 10. The byes are Cleveland, Washington, Green Bay and Arizona.
Matthew Stafford: I know that Stafford followed up a strong performance 2 weeks ago by putting up a bit of a dud last week, but the fact is that he played well. It was just the circumstances that led to rushing TDs being scored vs a few throwing scores for Stafford. That would have made all the difference, and against a poor Vikings secondary against opposing fantasy QBs Stafford should be a good play this week. Don’t believe the lower projected totals, he should be fine as your starter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Harvard grad has not been good as of late, to put it mildly. 3 single digit performances in his last 4 games does not instill much confidence. This week he gets to face the Patriots, against whom he had his best fantasy performance (31pts) of the season earlier this year. While the Patriots did acquire Aqib Talib to improve their secondary, he will not be able to play in this game due to suspension.
Vick Ballard: Last week’s news that Donald Brown would suit up and play fooled a lot of us into thinking Ballard’s days of being useful were over. Well, we were wrong. Brown only lasted two plays, and may not go this week on short rest. That sets Ballard up for a juicy matchup against a Jaguars defense that tends to give up a lot of points to opposing RBs. Ballard also gets involved in the passing game, so he should stay relevant even if the Colts get away from the pass.
Rashad Jennings: Ballard’s counterpart in the Thursday night game also has a favorable matchup. Like Ballard, he also is heavily involved in the passing game which should help him to stay relevant no matter the score in the game. I think he gets a lot of touches and I’m rolling with him in several of my leagues this week.
Pierre Thomas: This might be the first week we see the benefits of Darren Sproles’ absence for Thomas. While the emergence of Chris Ivory last week gives me a little pause, I think Thomas is the one to give the big performance against the Falcons. He is the best runner of the New Orleans group, and sticking with the theme of the RB starts he is a very good receiver out of the backfield.
Eric Decker: This makes the 2nd week in a row Decker has been picked as a start. The pause in projections this week for one of the league’s hottest receivers seems to be Carolina’s stout secondary. I think though that Decker has proven to be matchup-proof with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. I’m not scared off by a tough matchup, and you shouldn’t be either.
Devone Bess: Bess has only recorded one start-able game so far in standard scoring systems, but I think this week’s game could make it two. The Dolphins aren’t afraid to let Ryan Tannehill let lose and a matchup against a less than stellar Titans secondary should give Bess the opportunity to post a good line.
Brandon Lloyd: Lloyd’s trend of diminishing targets is worrisome, but a matchup against the Bills might be the remedy. This could be a very high-scoring game which usually means good things for offensive starters.
Greg Olsen: While Olsen has been one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets so far this season, he hasn’t been quite the fantasy beast I thought he would be. Still, with a healthy amount of targets and a very generous opponent Olsen should be set up for a smart play this week.
Jermaine Gresham: Gresham has been quietly decent this year. While he’s been a bit inconsistent, he is coming off of a 100+ receiving yard day last week with another favorable matchup on tap. Feel free to roll with him this week if you’re debating it.
Dolphins D/ST: The Miami defense gets one of the league’s most generous offenses to face coming off of their worst showing of the year. They will be ready and hungry to produce some turnovers and the Titans will most likely oblige.
Tony Romo: I’m sticking with the Tony Romo hate for another week. He barely beat out my pick for him as a sit last week, but another tough matchup against the Eagles doesn’t do him any favors. You also just never know when he’ll throw another interception, or three, or four, or five, or….okay I’ll stop now.
Michael Vick: This just isn’t going to be a pretty game for QBs. Dallas manhandled Eli Manning last week, and most of you probably saw that the Eagles couldn’t even produce against a horrible New Orleans defense mostly due to protection issues. Vick will be spending most of the game on his back.
Jamaal Charles: Charles has the talent to defy logic, but in order for talent to beat questionable odds it need to have a chance to do so. Charles has been criminally under-used by an aloof coaching staff since exploding weeks 3-5. Pittsburgh has held some pretty good RBs in check this season. While they’re not a nightmare matchup, the lack of recent touches paired with a recent head/neck injury has me cooled on Charles for this week.
Chris Johnson: CJ1K has played significantly better since a disastrous start to the season, but he might be running into a wall against Miami this week. A garbage-time 80 yard TD saved his fantasy day against Chicago, but I don’t think he gets so lucky again this week.
Felix Jones: Yes, he’s healthy (for now). Yes, he will be the main back for Dallas for one more week. But has he really done anything since the game in Baltimore where DeMarco Murray got hurt? No, not really. Expect recent trends to continue.
Torrey Smith: A late TD saved his day last week. While he has been getting the targets all season, he just hasn’t done much with them as of late. Teams are keying in on stopping Smith in the passing game and it is working. He’s just too much of a gamble for me at this point to start him with any confidence.
Dwayne Bowe: Bowe is always a threat to score, but this week’s Monday night game in Pittsburgh could be ugly for the Chiefs. It probably will be a cold one too.
Sydney Rice: Rice has come on as of late displaying the skills and production that made the Seahawks cough up so much money to gain his services. Against the number 1 defense against opposing WRs this week, it’s not a question of trusting Rice so much as not trusting the man throwing him the ball.
Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph was an early season sensation, but he hit a wall hard bringing his owners with him. Over his last 3 weeks he has totaled 2 receptions for 17 whopping yards. That’s 1 point in his last three games. Chris Ponder may be part of the problem, but Rudolph has dropped off the face of the earth probably right when fantasy owners had started to trust him. Until he starts producing again, this is one owner that will not.
Scott Chandler: Chandler’s game is purely dependent on Touchdowns to give him value. He has favorable projections this week due to his week 4 success against the Patriots where he reached paydirt 2 times. It’s still just too much of a gamble for me. I might get this one wrong, but there are probably safer options out there.
Giants D/ST: Cincinnati will probably be able to move the ball fairly well against the G-Men and therefore lead to a lot of scoring. That’s bad for fantasy purposes if you happen to own the Giants D.
That’s it for this week folks. Good luck to everyone in week 10!
Last Week’s Results: Season Totals in Parentheses
Starts: 5-6, .454 (43-56, .434)
Michael Vick: 19pts = W, Jay Cutler: 26pts = W, Jamaal Charles: 5pts = L, Alfred Morris: 7pts = L, Rashad Jennings: 6pts = L, Randall Cobb: 17pts = W, Andre Johnson: 11pts = W, Eric Decker: 21pts = W, Heath Miller: 4pts = L, Jason Witten: 5pts = L, Dolphins D/ST: -3pts = L
Sits: 7-4, .636, (66-33, .666)
Joe Flacco: 14pts = W, Tony Romo: 18pts = L, BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 11pts = L, Alex Green: 7pts = W, Ahmad Bradshaw: 4pts = W, Vincent Jackson: 14pts = L, Earl Bennett: 2pts = W, Dez Bryant: 1pt = W, Brent Celek: 2pts = W, Antonio Gates: 10pts = L, Cadrinals D/ST: 1pt = W
My season total now stands at 109-89 (.550).