The noose continues to tighten for those marginal teams floating around .500 on the season. Fantasy playoffs are just around the corner, so now more than ever you need to make the right choices with your lineup. We’ve included some obvious, and not-so-obvious players for starting and sitting just like the past weeks. Play the matchups, not the names. Be sure to research how an opposing defense ranks against the pass, rush, etc. before automatically inserting your guy into the starting lineup. Check previous history, especially if it is a divisional opponent. Doing a little research can go a long way rather than just believing live scoring, automated estimators or starting a guy because he has a big name.
Good luck in Week 10!
Quarterback – surprise start of the week
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (at NE): The Patriots pass defense has been atrocious this season, allowing 281.1 yards per game through the air with 17 passing TDs allowed in just eight games. In Week 4, Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns in a loss against the Patriots in Buffalo, but he was also picked off a season-high four times. If the Bills can give him some decent protection, Fitzpatrick could have another productive day. That game against New England earlier was his only 300-yard performance of the season.
Other surprise plays: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. NYG), Matt Hasselbeck/*Jake Locker, Tennessee (at MIA), Ryan Tannehill, Miami (vs. TEN)
NOTE – * Locker is expected to start, returning from a shoulder injury. However, if he has a setback, Hasselbeck will get the nod. Either QB is a solid play against the Dolphins.
Quarterback – sit of the week
Jay Cutler, Chicago (vs. HOU): Cutler hasn’t exactly lit the world afire anyway, despite throwing three TD strikes in a laugher against the Titans in Nashville last week. The Bears will struggle against the fourth-ranked passing defense in the NFL, as the Texans allow just 203.8 yards per game through the air. They have also registered 25 sacks, which is bad news for Cutler, who is playing behind a leaky offensive line. Look for DL J.J. Watt to introduce himself early and often.
Other QBs to sit: Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets (at SEA), Michael Vick, Philadelphia (vs. DAL), Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. NYJ)
Running back – surprise start of the week
Michael Turner, Atlanta (at NO): Turner’s stock was way down in the preseason and into the early part of the regular season, as the talking heads felt the tremendous amount of carries, and subsequent beating, might be taking a toll on ‘Turner the Burner’. However, he has been just as big of a part of Atlanta’s success as the passing game. Surprisingly, Turner has failed to hit the century mark in the past three matchups with New Orleans, and he hasn’t visited the end zone against the Saints since Week 3 of the 2010 season. However, this New Orleans rush defense is awful, ranking dead-last against the run by giving up 176.5 yards per game on the ground.
Other surprise plays: Reggie Bush, Miami (vs. TEN), Taiwan Jones, Oakland (at BAL), Stevan Ridley, New England (vs. BUF)
Running back – sit of the week
Matt Forte, Chicago (vs. HOU): Forte is a big name running back who will have little success against the Texans. Houston’s run defense ranks first in the AFC (second in the NFL), allowing just 81.9 yards per game on the ground. In addition, they have not yielded one rushing touchdown on the ground. And, if they are finally pierced for a score, it will likely be a short run near the goal-line, and that would come in the form of Michael Bush. Forte might post a decent amount of yardage both on the ground and through the air, but he won’t score anything more than eight to 10 fantasy points tops.
Other RBs to sit: Steven Jackson, St. Louis (at SF), Chris Johnson, Tennessee (at MIA), Ryan Mathews, San Diego (at TB)
Wide receiver – surprise start of the week
Brian Hartline, Miami (vs. TEN): Hartline was a waiver wire darling with his franchise record performance in Arizona earlier in the season, then he disappeared as quickly as he emerged. However, he snagged eight balls for 107 yards last week at Indianapolis, and might be ready to go another tear. Matching up against an awful Titans pass defense, which ranks 27th in the NFL by allowing 273.4 yards per game through the air, is a good start. The Titans have been gouged for 20 passing touchdowns, so Hartline might be able to return to the end zone for just the second time this season.
Other surprise plays: Kenny Britt, Tennessee (at MIA), Stevie Johnson, Buffalo (at NE), Denarius Moore, Oakland (at BAL)
Wide receiver- sit of the week
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (vs. PIT): Bowe started out his contract year well, posting at least 60 receiving yards in four of his first five games. However, inconsistent quarterback play and indecision has really hurt Bowe and his fantasy prospects. He hasn’t visited the end zone since Week 4, and he has fewer than 80 yards receiving in each of his past four games. That isn’t likely to end against a Steelers pass defense which ranks No. 1 in the NFL.
Other WRs to sit: Chris Givens, St. Louis (at SF), Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia (vs. DAL), Steve Smith, Carolina (vs. DEN)
Tight end – surprise start of the week: Anthony Fasano, Miami (vs. TEN)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Jared Cook, Tennessee (at MIA), Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta (at NO)
Sit of the week: Brent Celek, Philadelphia (vs. DAL)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets (at SEA), Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit (at MIN)
Kicker – surprise start of the week: Nick Novak, San Diego (at TB)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Blair Walsh, Minnesota (vs. DET)
Sit of the week: Ryan Succop, Kansas City (at PIT)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Rian Lindell, Buffalo (at NE)
Defense/special teams – surprise start of the week: Broncos DST (at CAR)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Chargers DST (at TB), Seahawks DST (vs. NYJ)
DST sit of the week: Falcons DST (at NO)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Eagles DST (vs. DAL), Giants DST (at CIN)