Down below, you’ll find upgrades and downgrades at each of the primary fantasy football positions. After the player analysis, you’ll find that player’s ranking and projection for this weekend.
Steelers Ben Roethlisberger vs. Patriots
The Patriots were on a bye last week, but don’t forget how generous they were to opposing quarterbacks during the first six weeks of the season. Five of their first six opponents went over 315 pass yards and four threw a pair of touchdowns. After racking up eight sacks of their first six games, they’ve managed only four since. Opponents are dropping back to pass six more times than they would normally when facing New England.
Projection: 26-of-39, 356 yards, 2.0 TD, 0.9 INT
Ranking: QB # 4
Others: Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco
Texans Matt Schaub vs. Jaguars
The Jaguars embarrassed the Ravens offense on Monday night, but they’ll have an even tougher challenge this week. The Jags defense has allowed 270+ passing yards only once this season (Drew Brees, 351) and has kept four of the seven opposing quarterbacks under 190 yards. They’ve allowed two touchdowns in three of their games and one in each of the other four. They’ve racked up seven interceptions and 14 sacks, including 11 sacks over the last four weeks. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging three fewer drop backs per game when they face the Jaguars.
Projection: 17-of-28, 176 yards, 1.3 TD, 0.8 INT
Ranking: QB # 23
Others: Kevin Kolb, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady
Titans Chris Johnson vs. Colts
Chris Johnson’s breakout week is here. At least it should be. Before allowing a whopping 237 yards and two scores on the ground to the Saints last week, the Colts surrendered 160+ rushing yards to opposing backs three times. Overall, they’ve allowed more than one rushing touchdown three times and eight rushing TDs total. Teams have run the ball 30+ times four times in seven games. Teams are calling eight more run plays than they would normally when facing Indy this season.
Projection: 25 carries, 105 yards, 0.9 TD, 4 receptions, 29 yards, 0.2 TD
PPR Ranking: RB # 3
Others: Daniel Thomas, Mark Ingram,
Eagles LeSean McCoy vs. Cowboys
The Dallas defense is becoming a recurring theme in this section. Last week, they held the Rams’ backers (specifically Steven Jackson) to 71 yards on 20 carries. On the year, they’ve yet to allow a unit of backs over 84 yards and have allowed only two rushing scores. Teams are calling six fewer run plays than they would normally when facing Dallas this season.
Projection: 13 carries, 57 yards, 0.4 TD, 3 receptions, 21 yards, 0.1 TD
PPR Ranking: RB # 13
Others: Peyton Hillis, Rashard Mendenhall, Bernard Scott
Dolphins Brandon Marshall vs. Giants
The Giants have been relatively generous to the wide receiver this season. They’ve allowed seven touchdowns to wideouts in six games, including three two score games. The Seahawks and Rams wideouts each combined for 260+ receiving yards. Wideouts lined up to the right, like Marshall is most of the time, are enjoying a 11% increase in their catch rate.
Projection: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 88 yards, 0.2 TD
PPR Ranking: WR # 6
Others: Pierre Garcon, Anquan Boldin, Reggie Wayne
Chiefs Dwayne Bowe vs. Chargers
Although they allowed three touchdowns to Plaxico Burress last week, the Chargers have still been very effective vs. opposing wide receivers. In that game, they allowed only 10 catches for 78 yards on 18 targets to wideouts. On the year, they’ve allowed a total of five scores and have held opposing wide receiver units under 125 yards five times in six games. Wide receiver units are seeing 5 fewer targets per game when facing the Chargers’ defense.
Projection: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 59 yards, 0.6 TD
PPR Ranking: WR # 16
Others: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, David Nelson
49ers Vernon Davis vs. Browns
In-line Tight Ends like Vernon Davis have had their way with Cleveland this season. Although the Dolphins, Raiders, and Seahawks TE units did very little vs. the Browns in their meetings, it’s worth noting that none of those teams use the tight end in the passing game very much normally. On the other hand, the Bengals, Colts, and Titans TE units combined for 11 receptions, 170 yards, and 4 scores on only 16 targets. That may not seem like a ton, but again, we aren’t talking about teams with huge numbers at the tight end position this year. Davis is the best receiving TE they’ll have seen this year. In-line tight ends are scoring 12 fantasy points per game vs. the Browns, which is the highest mark in football.
Projection: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards, 0.5 TD
PPR Ranking: TE # 4
Others: Jeremy Shockey, Jake Ballard
Saints Jimmy Graham vs. Rams
Considering the run Graham has been on, this is an interesting one. In fact, I would never say bench Graham even though the Rams have been strong vs. the position this year. They’ve allowed only 13 receptions, 120 yards, and one score on 20 targets to in-line tight ends this season. Graham does play off the line about half the time, but the max receiving yardage a TE unit has put up this season is 51 yards and that came on nine targets back in Week 3. They’ve allowed a total of 18 receptions, 170 yards, and one score on 31 targets to tight ends this season.
Projection: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 70 yards, 0.7 TD
PPR Ranking: TE # 3
Others: Marcedes Lewis, Todd Heap
Note: You’ll notice a small chart under each player. Shown are the defensive rates I’m using to create projections for each player. The numbers shown are how well or poorly a defense has done in each category in 2011. For example, assume that under Tony Romo we see a 1.6 Y/C for the opposing defense. This means that opposing quarterbacks are enjoying a 1.6 higher Yards-per-completion mark over their season average when facing the Patriots.