So it seems that as soon as I give my vote of confidence to a certain player, they have a knack for underperforming.
Last week’s article featured a picture of Buccaneers running back Doug Martin. He followed up his monster week 9 with a pedestrian week 10, rushing for just 68 yards. Martin did have 51 receiving yards, but failed to score for the first time since week 6.
Two weeks ago, the headline image was of Arian Foster. Foster is un-cursable and is the exception to the rule, racking up 228 total yards and a pair of TDs over the last two weeks.
Three weeks ago was Vincent Jackson, who has a measly nine catches to go with a single score since then.
In this column’s first running four weeks ago, the main story was Victor Cruz. Throw out a 77-yard bomb in the game’s final seconds in week 7, and Cruz has fewer than 200 receiving yards and no touchdowns in that span. Even with the huge play, Cruz has averaged a paltry 62 receiving yards per game since being featured in this column.
If you noticed the feature picture this week, it’s of quarterback Drew Brees, the first QB to be featured. This is my idea of a safe pick, as Brees has been harder to stop than a runaway freight train. The man has thrown a league-best 25 TD passes this year, and leads the league in passing yards as well.
If I can hex Brees, I might take up voodoo.
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
You guessed it: Brees is #1 this week. He’s not only a man on a mission to make the playoffs, but is facing an Oakland pass defense that ranks 26th against opposing QBs.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers and the Packers face the Lions this Sunday, a game that will likely turn into a shootout with plenty of passing.
3. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
When the Saints come to town, the only viable game plan is to chuck it early and often. The Saints are miserable against the pass, and are coming off a game in which Matt Ryan torched them for 411 yards. And oh, by the way, Palmer has thrown for close to 800 yards and six TDs in his last two games.
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
I expect a shootout in this Lions-Packers matchup, and Stafford should be throwing with the running game struggling a bit.
5. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
The visiting Eagles are in shambles, and may be more concerned with Andy Reid than they are about this game. RG3, meanwhile, had an extra week to rest and forget about his own coaching issues.
6. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
While Manning’s incredible streak of 3 TD games ended last week, he still threw for 300 yards. He may just start another streak this week against a middling San Diego defense.
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
He’s coming off a 411-yard game in which he tossed 3 TDs. This Arizona defense is pretty good against the pass, but Ryan’s a must-start every week.
8. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are playing “Chuckstrong” football right now in honor of their ailing head coach. It has been inspiring, and has been led by their outstanding QB. I’m in favor of changing the phrase to “Luckstrong.”
9. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton has struggled this season, no doubt about it. This week, he faces a lackluster Tampa Bay pass defense that ranks third-worst against opposing QBs. Now’s the time Superman.
10. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady disappointed a bit last week, throwing for only 237 yards against a bad Bills defense. His low ranking this week is more a testament to the Pats’ running game than Brady’s skill.
1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
First of all, he can’t be cursed as I already mentioned. Second of all, he plays the Jaguars. Check please!
2. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If I’m saying that last week’s performance in which he gained 119 total yards was subpar, it means he’s a special player. Martin once again faces a poor run defense this week in Carolina. He’ll “bounce back” with 100+ yards and a score.
3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles really impressed me last week, rushing for 100 yards and a TD against Pittsburgh. He made sharp cuts and ran downhill, getting a plethora of 5-10 yard plays. I expect more of the same against a poor Bengal run defense.
4. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Ridley ran for 98 yards and a score last week, giving him 225 yards and two scores in his last two contests. Ride the hot hand against a middling Colts run defense.
5. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy has been as consistent as they come in half-PPR formats, scoring at least 12 fantasy points in all but one game. Having a rookie QB under center makes me nervous, but then again that means more touches for Shady in both the running and passing games.
6. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
A healthy Richardson is a beast, no questions asked. He’s healthy after the bye, and although he plays a pretty good run defense in Dallas, he belongs in your lineup.
7. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Even though the yards-per-carry hasn’t been stellar in his last four games, Rice has managed four TDs in that span. If Jamaal Charles can go for 100 and a TD against Pittsburgh, so can Rice.
8. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Now getting all the carries with Fred Jackson out, Spiller is poised for greatness. He leads the NFL with a whopping 7.3 YPC. Just imagine what Spiller will do with 25 touches.
9. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
There aren’t many running backs that I would rank in the top 10 against the Chicago Bears defense. Gore is one of the few.
10. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Jackson hadn’t seen more than 18 carries in a game since week one. Then he was handed the ball 29 times against the 49ers last week. He turned them into 101 yards and a score; an encouraging sign against one of the league’s best run defenses. The Jets can’t stop the run, but don’t let one good game from Jackson get your hopes too high.
11. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
12. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
13. Shonn Greene, New York Jets
14. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions
15. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (if he actually plays)
16. Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
17. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos
18. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
19. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
1. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
What a season for the 12-year veteran from Miami. Wayne leads the NFL in catches and targets, and trails only the next guy on this list in yards. Expect more big things against a questionable New England pass defense.
2. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Like I said above, he leads the league in yards and finally got into the end zone last week. Don’t quite expect another 200-yard day, but in this shootout against Green Bay, nothing would surprise me.
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Throw out two weeks, and Green has scored in every game this season. One of those weeks was his bye, and the other was 10 weeks ago in the season’s opener. Even when the guy was held to a single catch against the Steelers, it went for a score. Any questions?
4. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Forget about his dud last week, as it was purely weather induced. Before that, Johnson was a man on a mission, and he resumes that mission this week against the Jags.
5. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Welker rolled his ankle last week, but he should play this week against a porous Indy pass defense.
6. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
With four 100-yard games in his last six, Thomas seems like a top-10 lock at this point.
7. Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
Amendola returned to action last week against the 49ers without missing a beat. His 11 catches and 102 yards would have been greater if it weren’t for an illegal formation penalty that wiped away a 75-yard gain in OT.
8. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
White has reeled in 14 balls for 232 yards in the last two games. Expect him to match those numbers against an Arizona pass defense that ranks 21st against opposing wideouts.
9. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
His QB Carson Palmer is poised for a big game, and Moore has been his favorite target this year.
10. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
V Jax has been up and down this year per usual, but if Josh Freeman and the Bucs keep scoring, some of those TDs will inevitably go Jackson’s way.
11. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
12. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
13. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
14. James Jones, Green Bay Packers
15. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
16. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
17. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
18. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
19. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
20. Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
21. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
22. Darius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders
23. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
24. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
25. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Graham’s 146-yard, two-touchdown performance last week has vaulted him past Rob Gronkowski in my book.
2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronkowski had a “down” game last week, managing to grab only three balls for 31 yards. Even when Gronk has a game like this, he still scores, making him truly elite.
3. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
Welcome back Tony! After a four-game TD drought, Gonzo returned to the end zone with style, grabbing 11 passes for 122 yards and two scores. He won’t duplicate that monster performance against a Cardinals defense that defends TEs well, but he’ll still have a nice game.
4. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten has caught a mess of balls this season, and I don’t expect that to change this week against Cleveland. If he could just score!
5. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
Daniels missed last week with a bad hip, but he looks to be on track to play this week against Jacksonville. Fantasy owners just hope he returns to the same form he displayed before the injury.
6. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Finally, it seems that fantasy owners can once again rely on Gates; albeit not on the level they once could. With 100 yards and a pair of TDs in his last two, he gets the nod from me.
7. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
He’s coming off an absolute monster game last week and now faces a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 21st against tight ends. Why not?
8. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
Pettigrew caught his first TD pass in seven games last week, which is a good sign that he’s playing well going into this matchup with the Packers.
9. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
Kansas City defends tight ends well, but Gresham has been so solid this year that I’m sticking with him.
10. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
He’s hit-or-miss, but also one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite targets in tight.
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