James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for well over a decade. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers fantasy sections, as well as the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz fantasy basketball sections in the NBA. Last season James finished with an 82 percent accuracy rating for fantasy predictions and will be here to answer any questions you may have about your specific team. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer.
This week there are fantasy studs on a bye (Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and Thomas Jones), so you will want to make sure you have your lineups set and ready to go come Sunday. Now, some of you have asked what exactly does a start and sit ranking mean. I've explained it before, but I will go through it one more time so you completely understand what these rankings mean.
Start definition: When I say to start someone I am saying that they will play above the level that they normally would. A QB2 will play like a QB1, a normal flex RB will be worth starting, etc.
Sit definition: Guys who would normally be a lock to start will not be worth their normal ranking. QBs should throw for 225+ yards and at least one score; RBs should get 75+ yards and a score to be worth playing; WRs should get 50+ yards and a score to be worth playing. A player doesn't have to get a TD to be worth playing, but he would have to get a lot of yards to make up the difference. WRs and RBs in a PPR (points-per-reception) league can make up ground, but a QB really needs to throw at least one TD to be worth playing.
Also, it depends on his stats versus the other players at his position. A QB can throw for 225 yards and a score, but still be in the bottom end of the top 10-15 QBs and be a "sit" player because compared to his peers, he did worse than most.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to some predictions.
Aaron Rodgers: Too many people are down on Rodgers and I don't know why. Did you know his **DVOA (explained below) this year is -69 percent? What does that mean? Well, it means the offense is playing below average and defenses are playing above average. Anyway, take it from a stats nerd that just got WAY more in-depth than you should ever need to, play Rodgers this weekend against the Buccaneers.
Philip Rivers: A lot of people are talking about sitting Rivers because the Chargers face the Giants in their home stadium. Personally, I am going to play Rivers because I think this will end up being a game decided through the air and Rivers is going to put up some stats.
Ray Rice: I hate to do it to the Bengals because they've been so good to me. But, Ray Rice is the whole offense in Baltimore and I think he is going to score enough fantasy points this weekend to finish as a high RB1. The Ravens have finally turned the reigns over to him and he is coming through.
Ryan Grant: Every time I've ever had Grant on my fantasy team, he has done nothing but make life miserable for me. But, if there were ever a game to play him in, it would be this one. The Packers face the Bucs, and Tampa Bay is one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. I think Grant could score a TD to go along with 75+ yards, making him worth a start in most fantasy leagues.
Chad Ochocinco: C'Mon Son! The last time the Ravens faced the Bengals, Ray Lewis put a hit on Ocho that left him with a black eye and a bruised ego. I've been listening to Ocho all this week and you can tell he has a fire in his belly to avenge that hit and put some work in on the Ravens. Don't let me down Chad!
Michael Crabtree: The Titans secondary is allowing a league-worst 282.4 passing YPG this season and Crabtree looks to have become the new WR1 in San Francisco. I think this is the weekend he gets his first NFL TD and fantasy owners should play him as a mid-WR2 this weekend.
John Carlson: The problem with TEs is once you get past the top 3-4, the next 5-7 are all the same really. This is now or never time for Carlson as the Lions are terrible and the Seahawks should be able to spread the ball around enough to get Carlson 5+ catches and 50+ yards. For a TE, that is about all you can hope for.
New Orleans Saints Defense: The Saints defense is still underrated, which blows my mind since they allow just 326 yards of total offense per game. I would love to play them this weekend against the Panthers struggling offense and so should you.
Matt Ryan: Remember what I said, QB1 plays as a QB2. Ryan faces the Redskins and their No. 2 ranked pass defense this weekend, and I will be sitting him in the leagues I own him in. Washington gives up just 164.9 passing YPG and is tied for fourth with six (6) passing TDs allowed.
Eli Manning: The Giants are at home, but teams have figured out if you jam Steve Smith at the line, he doesn't get separation like he used to. San Diego is sixth against the pass (178.4 YPG) and Manning is due for another bad game.
Ryan Moats/Steve Slaton: Indianapolis is just 17th against the run, but since the Texans refuse to give the ball to just one back, both backs will likely cancel each other out. I am sure one will score a TD, but which one is anyone's guess. I made this pick because while I am sure one will get solid fantasy numbers, you don't know which one so you need to sit both until the roles become clearer.
Brian Westbrook: The Cowboys are 13th against the run, but Westbrook is coming off an injury and this is a huge rivalry game where I think the Eagles will light it up with the pass. Even if they do run, I think the emergence of LeSean McCoy means the Eagles can be cautious with Westbrook and ease him back.
Mario Manningham: Manningham started off the season hot, but has really cooled off the last few weeks. Since I think Manning isn't a good play, I certainly wouldn't be excited to play a WR that has logged more than 58 yards just once this season and has seen more than four receptions just once. His only truly "good" game came in Week 2.
Santonio Holmes: Many people drafted Holmes in the hopes that he would become a solid WR2, and so far this season he has just one TD and is averaging just 71 YPG. I personally won't play him any higher than a WR3 against the Broncos eighth-ranked passing defense.
Fred Davis: Too many people are jumping on the waiver wire to pick up Davis now that Cooley is out. I don't think you should expect another 100+ yard game from him. Almost any NFL player can go out and look good for one game, but now teams have watched film on him and I have a feeling he is going to go Luis Murphy/Mohamed Massaquoi on fantasy teams.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense: I don't care what the other sites are saying; I am going to sit the Eagles defense this weekend. The Cowboys are No. 2 in the league for total offensive yards (411.1 YPG) and the Eagles defense allows 296.9 YPG. Go somewhere in the middle and you are at about 350 total yards and I see 21+ points from the Cowboys, and that means negative points in fantasy leagues for points allowed.
Q: I've been following your fantasy advice on the Bengals page for a while now and think you do a great job. I was just wondering if you could clarify what your criteria is for getting your picks right or wrong? Are you going based off a certain scoring system?
I'm asking because you admitted getting Garrard, Smith, and Rice incorrect this week, but that every other pick was right. I tend to follow some of your advice and I'm curious what stats or system your basing your information on since you considered these guys bad enough to justify the "sit" tag.
Mark Sanchez: 20-35, 265 pass yards, 2 Pass TDs, 6 rush yards, 1 Rush TD
Bernard Berrian: 3 catches, 47 receiving yards, 1 Receiving TD
Steve Breaston: 6 catches, 57 receiving yards
These guys were all listed in your "Sit" section, but they all had pretty good games. Even Moreno scored a touchdown, but was pretty marginal otherwise so I'll give you that one. Again, I think you're good and I listen to a lot of your advice, but it'd be helpful to know what the "sit" criteria are. In my league, Sanchez finished as the No. 3 quarterback and Berrian and Breaston both finished as top 20 receivers this week.
--Brian in Salt Lake City, UT
A: I am biased when it comes to the wrong/right thing. I typically will look for 1) 65+ yards; 2) did he score; 3) if he did score, did he get the yards. But, as I've said before, the picks aren't simply "sit 'em=junk and start 'em=gold." Starters will perform better than normal and sitters will perform worse than normal.
The Broncos have a fantasy section too and their "writers" make six picks ... three starters and three sitters. If I did that, I could be 100 percent every single week. But, since I have more integrity than that and don't like to "mail it in," I make 16 picks and I never pick guys like Adrian Peterson, Reggie Wayne or Tom Brady (unless he has been garbage like early in the season and you need to get him back in the lineup). QB2 will perform like a QB1; RB2 = RB1; WR3 = WR2, etc.
Sanchez I must have overlooked; Breaston didn't score, which means he would have got 4 points in standard scoring; Berrian didn't hit the 50-yard mark, which means he got you probably 2 points for yards and 4-6 for the TD. Not even WR2 numbers fantasy-wise.
Too many people have Berrian as a WR1/2 and he is really barely a flex play. Breaston WR3 but more of a weak flex play because he won't score. Sanchez ... eh ... even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, but I'd give him this weekend. I have a sliding scale based on how many teams played, where the players ranked among those who did play, and where they were projected to finish before the games started. Based on standard scoring formats, Breaston was No. 34, Berrian didn't hit the 50-yard mark for receiving and that won't cut it when guys like Owens, Edwards and Smith (Car) beat you out in a game in GB, against No. 4's old team.
** Defensive Adjusted Value Over Average: a DVOA rating of 0% is equivalent to league-average performance. Positive DVOA numbers represent above-average performance by the offense and below-average performance by the defense, while negative numbers represent the opposite.