Week 10 Start ‘em/Sit ‘em
Thursday night football re-enters our lives tonight when the San Francisco 49ers host the Chicago Bears. How could anyone ever complain about another night during the week with some NFL football? Wives’ and girlfriends’ complaining aside, all of our weekends are now starting early.
Reminder: Set your fantasy lineups early this week!
Now, let’s get down to business…
GET ‘EM IN THE LINEUP
Thursday Night Start/Sit List (Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers)
START: Gore, Crabtree, Davis and Alex Smith (deeper leagues) from San Francisco, as well as Cutler and Hester from Chicago.
For owners in deeper leagues, consider Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox as decent WR3 plays. The 49ers defense is also a good start in a 12-plus team fantasy league.
Steve Smith Wide Receiver Carolina Panthers
By all accounts, Smith has been a bust this season. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get you some quality fantasy points heading down the home stretch. The former Pro Bowler is currently the ninth most targeted player in the NFL (72), with a respectable 26 targets over his past three games.
In addition, the Atlanta Falcons have struggled against the pass, allowing 246.4 yards per game (27th) through the air. Couple that with the fact the Falcons are bringing a banged-up secondary to Carolina on Sunday and Smith owners are just one big play away from some solid fantasy points. Consider Carolina’s top wideout a reliable WR2 this weekend.
Miami Dolphins D/ST
The Dolphins rank 22nd in the NFL in total defense (341.4 yards per game), but keep in mind they’ve squared off against some of the NFL’s elite offenses in the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers.
This Sunday, they welcome rookie quarterback Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Land Shark Stadium. Tampa is coming off a 38-28 win over the Packers – its first win of the season -- in a game that saw the rookie from Kansas State toss three touchdown passes.
Keep in mind, Freeman completed just 45.2 percent of his passes and the Bucs rolled up only 279 net yards in the win. Look for Miami to be very aggressive on defense in an effort to disrupt the young signal-caller and force him into some bad decisions.
Also Start: New Orleans Saints D/ST and Baltimore Ravens D/ST
Joe Flacco Quarterback Baltimore Ravens
Flacco’s last four games have been anything but fantasy gold as he’s thrown just four touchdowns with four interceptions while eclipsing 200 passing yards only once. Look for that trend to change Monday night when Flacco and the Ravens head to Cleveland.
The Browns have been awful on defense this year, allowing 409.1 yards per game (32nd), making them the only team in the NFL that’s giving up more than 400 yards a game. Additionally, starting linebacker Eric Barton is out for the season with a neck injury, making him the second Browns linebacker to go down for the year (tackling machine D’Qwell Jackson was the first).
The only issue here is how quickly the Ravens get out to a big lead. If they’re up big in the first half, look for them to turn to the running game in the third and fourth quarters in an effort to run out the clock.
Also Start: Derrick Mason, Todd Heap
Correll Buckhalter Running Back Denver Broncos
Buckhalter is a solid RB2/flex option in Week 10 for owners in deeper leagues as he and the Broncos travel across the county to Washington to take on a sinking Redskins team.
The ‘Skins have been chewed up by the ground game this season, allowing an average of 126.4 yards per game against the run (25th). The main reason for that is the fact Washington is constantly playing from behind, allowing opposing offenses to take a more conservative approach in an effort to control the clock.
Meanwhile, Buckhalter has slowly climbed his way to the top of the Denver depth chart as he racked up four more carries than rookie Knowshon Moreno last Monday night against the Steelers. In addition, Buckhalter has made more happen with less this season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry to Moreno’s 3.7 and has racked up 25 more total yards than the rookie on 41 fewer touches.
Don’t expect Buckhalter to explode this weekend, but he’s a strong flex play in Week 10.
KEEP ‘EM ON THE BENCH
Matt Forte Running Back Chicago Bears
Forte has been a bust this season as the second-year back has posted just one 100-plus-yard rushing performance and scored only three touchdowns. He’s averaging a mediocre 3.6 yards per carry and has carried the ball only 37 times over his last three games.
Chicago’s offensive line has struggled with its blocking this season, and fantasy owners should expect more of the same Thursday night as the Bears head to San Francisco to take on a 49ers defense that’s ranked fourth against the run (93.2 yards per game).
Owners in deeper leagues who lack a better option should consider Forte as a flex option at best.
Roddy White Wide Receiver Atlanta Falcons
White has been hot as of late so I’m not expecting many owners to leave their star wideout on the bench. But be advised that Sunday’s showdown at Carolina is going to be a tough matchup for him.
The Panthers rank sixth against the pass this season (181.8 yards per game) and have two quality cornerbacks in Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall. In addition, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has been struggling the past few weeks, throwing for less than 200 yards in four of his last six games with just two touchdown passes with four interceptions in his last two outings.
What makes matters worse for the Falcons’ offense is the Carolina rushing attack. If the Atlanta defense is unable to slow down DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart on Sunday, the Panthers will be able to control the clock and keep White and the offense on the sidelines.
Kevin Smith Running Back Detroit Lions
The similarities between Smith and Bears running back Matt Forte are somewhat uncanny. Both are second-year NFC North running backs who have just one 100-plus-yard rushing game and three touchdowns on their resumes this season. Forte has had a little more success per rush, picking up 3.6 yards per carry to Smith’s 3.3.
Look for Smith to disappoint owners again this weekend as the Lions travel to the always hostile Metrodome to take on the Minnesota Vikings and the league’s sixth ranked rushing defense (94.8 yards per game). Going up against Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Pat Williams is tough enough, but when you factor in the crowd noise inside the Metrodome, giving these guys and extra half-second start makes them downright lethal.
Also Sit: Matthew Stafford
Josh Freeman Quarterback Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Several of you guys who play in deeper leagues and picked up Freeman this week may be excited to see what you can get out of the rookie in his second career start. Don’t expect too much.
As I mentioned above in the recommendation to start the Miami D/ST in Week 10, Freeman -- while having a very impressive outing last Sunday against the Packers -- completed only 45.2 percent of his passes. Last season at Kansas State Freeman completed less than 60 percent of his passes, which is never a good sign in a conference like the Big 12 that features Swiss cheese defenses on a weekly basis.
The Dolphins are going to bring the heat early and often. Leave Freeman on the bench.
Also Sit: Cadillac Wil liams, Antonio Bryant
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh