Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers are all on byes this week. Oh, and Jason Campbell/Bruce Gradkowski too. So, many teams are going to be replacing a starter this week. If you have somebody like Ben Roethlisberger or Eli Manning in reserve, congratulations. For those that don’t, let’s take a look at your best options.
I’m going to handle this week a little different and focus on the quarterbacks, since there aren’t many key injuries of note, and I’ve probably mentioned anyone worth picking up at other positions. I’ll just focus more on good matchups among guys who are not automatic starters at other positions, and if those guys happen to be free agents in your league, go get them. Note: Don’t forget this is the first Thursday night game, so if your league stops transactions at the first game, you will need to make moves by Thursday afternoon.
Quarterback: The best matchup is in the Houston/Jacksonville game. These two teams will compete to see who can be furthest away from a receiver when a catch is made. Start either. If David Garrard is available in your league, which depending on league size is I suppose possible if not likely, he should be target #1.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Freeman would be my next choice among guys who may not be every week starters. Fitzpatrick gets Detroit at home, while Freeman is home to Carolina. Matt Cassel would be next in line, getting a bad Denver defense on the road. Sam Bradford is at San Fran, and is an okay matchup.
After that, it gets a little dicey, and you will need to monitor the news about who is going to start. The Seahawks/Cardinals clash is likely to produce points just because both defenses are struggling. If you are desperate, Derek Anderson is a play this week. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t show much against the tough Giants defense, but should fare better in this one. Whoever plays for the Lions will have a great matchup, but things are up in the air. I have little confidence in Drew Stanton, but for a desperation start, you couldn’t ask for a better draw.
Running Back: Jahvid Best is getting healthier, the team will lean on him more, and the matchup couldn’t be better this week. I know DeAngelo Williams is persona non grata right now, but watch the injury news. If he is a go, with Johnathan Stewart out and the Bucs’ rush defense looming, he is startable this week. If he doesn’t play, then Mike Goodson becomes a one week starting option against Tampa Bay. LeGarrette Blount is a good option in the same game.
The Chiefs duo of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones gets Denver. Charles is a must start (someone let Haley and Weis know this, please), while Jones is a decent flex start based on matchup. Cedric Benson is a start this week against Indy.
On the other side, Peyton Hillis will continue to try to walk on Lake Erie, but will do so against a much tougher run defense. Avoid the Patriots duo of Green-Ellis and Woodhead against the stingy Steelers defense.
Wide Receiver: Start receivers in the Texans-Jaguars game. That means Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas, along with Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter (and of course, that Andre Johnson guy). Start any Giants receiver, including Mario Manningham. The Buffalo duo of Stevie Johnson and Lee Evans are good starts against Detroit. Derrick Mason should be productive against Atlanta. After a couple of rough matchups, people may be down on Mike Williams of Seattle again, but he is a start option this week.
Tight End: Marcedes Lewis against Houston is the matchup start of the week. Houston is turr-ible against tight ends (well, everyone) and brought Randy McMichael back from the dead last week. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are starts at Pittsburgh. Joel Dreesen is a waiver wire option for Houston. Tony Moeaki should get his share of looks off play action in Denver.