LIONS INSIDER

Fantasy Football Analysis: Who to start, who to sit - Week 4

Posted Sep 27, 2012

Tim Twentyman offers his advice to fantasy football owners. Among some of the top picks this week: start Broncos' QB Peyton Manning, sit Bears' QB Jay Cutler.

LIONS 5
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Start: Leshoure showed last week that he could handle the load with 26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. In all, he rewarded fantasy owners who looked past the two-game suspension and drafted the second-year back with 19 fantasy points in his debut. Look for him to carry the load again this week, but monitor a sore groin that showed up on Wednesday’s injury report.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Sit: Stafford is likely to play Sunday against the Vikings after returning to the practice field Thursday, but running back Mikel Leshoure could be a big part of the game plan again this week if the Vikings feature a two-deep safety shell like the Rams, 49ers and Titans did.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Start: The Vikings have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year and Pettigrew is having a nice start to the season with 17 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown.

Lions defense, Sit: Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has taken pretty good care of the football through the first three weeks of the season with no interceptions. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has eight touchdowns and five 100-yard performances in nine career games against the Lions. If you have a better option it might not be a bad idea.

Nate Burleson, WR, Start: Burleson looks to be a good flex option this week coming off a 10-catch performance against the Titans last week with a touchdown. Burleson will continue see good matchups in the slot with Calvin Johnson on the outside and Leshoure running as well as he is.

START
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos: Manning has had an inconsistent start to the season with five touchdowns and three interceptions, but has a great matchup this week against a Raiders defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger put up 384 yards, four touchdowns and 39 fantasy points last week against the Raiders.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: Green-Ellis knows how to get into the end zone and could find it twice this weekend. He’s averaging more than 11 fantasy points per week and faces a Jaguars defense that has allowed six rushing touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Nelson has been a fantasy bust so far through three games (5.7 fantasy point average through three weeks), but has a great matchup this week against a Saints defense that ranks 25th against the pass this season.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: The ageless wonder has found the end zone in each of the Falcons’ first games and ranks second in total fantasy points among tight ends with a 13.0 average per week. The Panthers have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Cardinals defense: The unit held the potent Eagles offense in check last week and ranks No. 2 in the NFL in points allowed and No. 10 in yards. The Dolphins are too one-dimensional right now, relying too much on the run, to have a big game against a good defense.

SIT
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: The Cowboys have allowed just three touchdown passes through the first three games and have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Cutler has a lower fantasy points average (11.0) than Blaine Gabbert (15.0) and Mark Sanchez (17.0). Ouch.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: His 1.4 average yards per rush seem like a misprint in the official stat book. His 2.7 fantasy points average looks even worse for this column’s purposes. He faces a Texans defense this week that ranks eighth against opposing running backs. Sit him if you can.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: Witten has had a brutal start to the season, ranking 35th among all tight ends with a 2.0 fantasy points average. He leads the league in drops and is slowly becoming the fourth option for quarterback Tony Romo behind receivers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: Vick has had a rough start to the season and it doesn’t get any easier this week against the Giants, who allowed a total of nine fantasy points to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton last week.

Marques Colston, WR, Saints: Colston has yet to get into the end zone this year and has just 10 catches through three games. It doesn’t get much easier this week as the Saints face the No. 1 passing defense in the NFL in the Packers.

SLEEPERS
Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals: With Beanie Wells going on injured reserve, the Cardinals’ backfield now belongs to Williams. He averaged 6.4 yards per rush last week with nine fantasy points. The Dolphins are 20th against the run in fantasy points allowed.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Redskins: The second-year player has 124 receiving yards and a touchdown over his last two games and could see more touches this week with Pierre Garcon likely out. Doesn’t hurt the Buccaneers giving up second-most fantasy points to receivers this season.

Cedric Benson, RB, Packers: He might be a good flex option this week against a Saints defense that is statistically the worst in fantasy land against opposing running backs.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: Rudolph has three touchdowns over his last two games and has built quite a rapport with second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. The Lions have given up a touchdown to a tight end in each of the last two weeks and have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year.

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Flacco isn’t considered among the elite fantasy quarterbacks, which is why I put him as a sleeper. But Flacco owners know he’s been one of the best quarterback options this year (22.3 fantasy point average) and should have a good night tonight against the short-handed Browns secondary that’s the fifth-worst against opposing quarterbacks.