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Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 10

Here’s who I like and don’t like for Week 10:

Quarterbacks

IN: Mark Sanchez, Jets
From a fantasy perspective, Sanchez hasn’t been the most reliable option week in and week out and is coming off a so-so performance last week against Buffalo (230 yards, one touchdown and an interception). But this week the Jets are facing the Patriots and their pitiful pass defense, which is still giving up an average of 314 yards per game. Sanchez has the weapons to attack that secondary and New England is giving up close to 20 points to opposing quarterbacks, so the Jets’ QB could come up big.

OUT: Josh Freeman, Bucs
Much like Sanchez, Freeman has been inconsistent this season. But unlike Sanchez, he doesn’t have a favorable matchup in Week 10. The Texans’ D is the top-ranked unit in the league and is second against the pass, allowing just shy of 183 yards per game through the air. Only two quarterbacks have thrown for multiple touchdowns against Houston this season, Jason Campbell being the last back in Week 5.  Freeman is ranked just 16th among fantasy QBs and he’ll be in tough to put up good numbers.

Running backs

IN: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
Whether you think Murray is the second coming of Emmitt Smith or not, he should definitely be in your lineup this week. Murray ran for another 139 yards in Week 9 (and added 47 receiving yards) to notch his second 100-yard rushing performance in the last three games. He is averaging a ridiculous 8.4 yards per carry and could have a big day against the Bills, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to running backs this year. If the Cowboys can improve their red-zone play, expect Murray to spend a lot of time in the end zone on Sunday.

OUT: Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
It will probably be difficult for you to bench a running back of Mendenhall’s caliber, but he hasn’t been much of a force the last few weeks. The Steelers back scored a touchdown last week for the first time since Week 6 and has just one 100-yard rushing game all season (also in Week 6). Pittsburgh has focused more on the passing game lately (Ben Roethlisberger has three straight 300-yard games) while this week’s opponent, the Bengals, has the second-best rush D in the league (allowing just 84.5 yards per game). Mendenhall will get carries, but he could be hard-pressed to get touchdowns.

Wide Receivers

IN: Brandon Marshall, Dolphins
Miami’s offense has been clicking and Marshall is coming off his best game of the season after recording 106 yards and scoring a touchdown Week 9 against the Chiefs. The last time Marshall faced Washington back in 2009, he had 134 yards and two touchdowns and he could be in for another big game this week. The Redskins have allowed only two touchdowns to wideouts this season, but with the way Matt Moore has been throwing the ball lately, Marshall is still worthy of a start.

OUT: A.J. Green, Bengals
The rookie duo of Andy Dalton and Green has been a revelation for Cincinnati this season, but don’t be surprised if the tandem struggles in Week 10 against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is allowing the least fantasy points to receivers this year — in fact no wideout has put up more than 82 yards in a game against that unit this season (including the likes of Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Wes Welker). Green has had a great first season but you might want to stick him on the bench this week against a tough opponent.

Tight Ends

IN: Jake Ballard, Giants
The tight end isn’t flying under the radar any longer after catching the game-winning touchdown in New York’s upset win over New England in Week 9. Quarterback Eli Manning and Ballard are starting to develop some chemistry (he was second on the team in targets behind Victor Cruz Sunday) and he’s ranked 10th in fantasy points at the position. San Fran has a good defense but has had issues stopping tight ends (77 catches allowed, tied for third-most in the league) so it’s safe for you to stick with the hot hand this week.

OUT: Scott Chandler, Bills
The up and down season continues for Chandler — after catching two touchdowns in Week 8, Chandler had just 24 yards last week against the Jets. Chandler has gone seven straight games with three or fewer catches, but is always a threat to find the end zone (six of his 18 catches this year have been for touchdowns). Throw in the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been struggling lately (48.4 completion percentage last week) and Chandler is too much of a risk to play against a dangerous Cowboys D.

Kickers

IN: Billy Cundiff, Ravens
Even though Baltimore’s offense has struggled, Cundiff’s production hasn’t suffered (at least not in the last two weeks). Cundiff has kicked three field goals in back-to-back games and has multiple field goals in seven of his eight games this season. This week, the Ravens offense has the chance to put up some big numbers when they take on the Seahawks — Seattle doesn’t have the best defence and is giving up more than nine points to kickers this season.

OUT: Adam Vinatieri, Colts
It’s likely you haven’t had Vinatieri in your lineup for some time now, and this week should be no exception. The Colts offense has regressed over the last few weeks and therefore Vinatieri has had few opportunities to put points on the board (he has five points or fewer in each of the last three games). This week, the Colts face the Jaguars, who are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to the position. So it might be best to look for another option.

Defenses

IN: Dolphins
Miami is coming off a great defensive performance against Kansas City, allowing just three points and sacking Matt Cassel five times. And while things appear to be on the upswing for the Dolphins, the same can’t be said for the Redskins. Over the last few games, Washington has developed a penchant for turning over the ball and is having issues protecting the quarterback (John Beck has been sacked 14 times in the last three games). The Dolphins D is a bit of a weird pick, but the unit could come up big for you this week.

OUT: Jets
After a tough start, the Jets defense is rounding into form after a suffocating performance against the Bills. But I still think it’s too risky to play this squad in Week 10. The Patriots may not be producing the same offensive numbers as they did at the start of the season, but they’re still capable of putting up a bunch of points in a hurry (averaging almost 28 points per game). Opposing defenses are averaging just 6.5 fantasy points per game against New England, so be cautious if you plan on playing New York’s D. There’s nothing more dangerous than a Pats team that has lost two straight and has something to prove.

Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 9

Here’s who I like and who I don’t like in fantasy for this upcoming week:

Quarterbacks

IN: Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Cassel is coming off a so-so statistical game against the Chargers and has been a bit inconsistent of late (back-to-back two-interception games). But this week the Chiefs are facing the lowly Dolphins, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Cassel has the weapons (Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin) to put up some nice numbers if you’re looking for a bye week replacement.

OUT: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
Fitzpatrick’s fantasy numbers have faltered after a quick start (averaging around 10 points per game the last few weeks). Buffalo’s opponent, the New York Jets, have been very effective at containing opposing quarterbacks this season (they’re giving up the fewest fantasy points to the position) so Fitzgerald will have his work cut out for him on Sunday. The Bills’ offense will go through running back Fred Jackson and not through the air. Look for other options.

Running backs

IN: LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
After missing Tampa Bay’s last two games with a left knee sprain, Blount is back and ready to take on a bigger workload. The Bucs are a bit shorthanded in the backfield with Earnest Graham out for the season, but that’s good news for Blount owners — he doesn’t have anyone else competing for carries. Tampa is facing a New Orleans team that has struggled to stop the run this year, most recently giving up 159 yards to Steven Jackson last week.

OUT: Chris Johnson, Titans
It was only a matter of time until CJ2K made the “out” list. Not only has Johnson been the biggest fantasy disappointment with only has one 100-yard game and just a single touchdown, but now he’s splitting carries with Javon Ringer. Throw in the fact that the Titans are facing a very stout Bengals D this week (second against the run and giving up just 85 rushing yards per game), and there’s little reason to have Johnson in your lineup in Week 9.

Wide Receivers

IN: Brandon Lloyd, Rams
The Rams’ passing game has been on life support, but Lloyd has given the unit a lift since coming over from Denver, leading the team in receiving yards in both his games with St. Louis. Lloyd is facing a weak Cardinals secondary on Sunday that’s giving up 277 passing yards per game, and it’s likely that Sam Bradford will be back under center. Even if Bradford doesn’t play, A.J. Feeley has shown faith in Lloyd (at least six receptions in each of his last two games) so it’s safe to roll with the Rams receiver this week.

OUT: Pierre Garcon, Colts
What a difference a couple of weeks make. In Week 4 and 5, Garcon had 271 yards. The three weeks since then, he’s averaged just over 49 yards. Curtis Painter is struggling (just one touchdown and four interceptions in the Colts’ last three games) and that’s had an impact on the passing game. The Falcons defense is getting better week after week, so it might be wise to keep Garcon on the bench until the Indy offense becomes more stable.

Tight Ends

IN: Brent Celek, Eagles
The Eagles tight end had his best game of the season by far last week after putting up 94 yards and scoring a touchdown (his second in as many games) against the Cowboys. The Bears are giving up the most fantasy points to tight ends this season, so Celek is definitely worth a play. Just keep an eye out — Celek missed practice earlier this week with a hip contusion, but with the Eagles facing the Bears on Monday night an extra day of rest might be just what the doctor ordered.

OUT: Heath Miller, Steelers
It’s hard to bench any player on the Steelers offence with the way Ben Roethlisberger has been playing lately, but Miller has a tough matchup this week. Yes, he’s scored a touchdown in three of his last four games and had a solid game last week (85 yards), but the Ravens have effectively defended tight ends. Baltimore is giving up around 2.5 fantasy points per game to the position, so don’t be surprised if Miller is shutout on Sunday.

Kickers

IN: Matt Bryant, Falcons
Bryant has had an up and down fantasy season, much like the entire Falcons offense. He’s ranked 20th in fantasy points for the position, but is just had one of his best games of the season (11 points in Week 7, just the second time he’s hit double digits). Atlanta is coming off a bye, so the offense should be ready to rock against a struggling Indy team that’s giving up the third-most fantasy points to kickers this season. Bryant could do some damage.

OUT: Jay Feely
Coming into this week’s matchup, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Cardinals offense. With Kevin Kolb suffering with turf toe, it’s likely John Skelton will make his first start of the season on Sunday, plus running back Beanie Wells is questionable with a knee injury (although he’ll likely play). How will the offense perform against a Rams D that showed signs of life last week against the Saints? I think there are too many uncertainties right now to play Feely with any confidence.

Defenses

IN: Cowboys
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan took responsibility after the Cowboys got torched by the Eagles last week, and you can expect his troops to come out and play some much better football for their coach this week. The Dallas D has something to prove and the unit is facing the right team to turn things around: the lowly Seahawks. Defenses that have faced Seattle have put up the most fantasy points this season.

OUT: Bears
Did you see what the Eagles did to the Cowboys last week? Why should we expect anything different this week against a lesser defense? Philly may be the top rushing team in the league (180 yards per game), but Michael Vick will test that weak Chicago secondary on Monday (ranked 28th in the league against the pass). The Eagles are starting to hit their stride and the Bears will have issues containing Vick, so it might be best to give their D the week off.

Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 8

Here’s who I like and don’t like for this week:

Quarterbacks

IN: Andy Dalton, Bengals
The rookie QB is coming off his best game as a pro when he completed a ridiculous 78 percent of his passes for 264 yards and a touchdown back in Week 6. This week the Bengals are taking on the Seahawks, who are giving up almost 250 passing yards a game and almost 16 fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Dalton has the weapons (A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, Jermaine Gresham) to put up some nice numbers, even on the road in hostile Seattle.

OUT: Tim Tebow, Broncos
Tebow got off to a slow start last week against the Dolphins but finished with a respectable 220 total yards, two touchdowns and that two-point conversion. But yards will be a lot harder to come by against the Lions in Week 8. Detroit is giving up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and Denver’s offensive line will be put to the test against Ndamukong Suh and company. If the o-line falters, Tebow will be in for a rough day.

Running Backs

IN: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
The rookie out of Oklahoma isn’t flying under the radar anymore after his franchise-record 253-yard performance last week. Although it isn’t official yet, it’s highly unlikely Felix Jones will play Sunday against the Eagles, meaning the bulk of the carries will once again fall to Murray. Philly has had some issues stopping the run this season (allowing 24 fantasy points per game to opposing backs) so Murray could do some major damage.

OUT: Jackie Battle, Chiefs
This move is less about what Battle can do (he finished with a respectable 76 yards last week against the Raiders) and more about who else is in the Kansas City backfield. Battle lost carries to Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones last week as well as Le’Ron McClain and Javier Arenas once the Chiefs got into the red zone. With all those backs, it’s hard to guess when Battle will get the rock. Plus, he’ll be going up against an angry Chargers team still smarting after their loss last week to the Jets.

Wide Receivers

IN: Nate Washington, Titans
Once Kenny Britt went down for the season, many thought Washington would step up in his absence, but that hasn’t been the case. Since Britt’s injury in Week 3, Washington has just 141 yards and no touchdowns. But this could be the week in which things turn around for the Titans wideout. Tennessee is facing Indy in Week 8 — that same Indy team that just gave up 62 points to New Orleans. The Titans passing game has been struggling, so this matchup could be just what the doctor ordered.

OUT: Reggie Wayne, Colts
How the mighty have fallen. Wayne is averaging just five fantasy points in each of his last five games and he has only one touchdown, which has led to his 30th rank among fantasy wideouts. He just hasn’t been able to develop any chemistry with Curtis Painter (who has built a relationship with Pierre Garcon) to be an every-week starter anymore. Throw in the fact that Cortland Finnegan is expected to cover the Colts receiver on Sunday, and Wayne could be in for another long day.

Tight Ends

IN: Fred Davis, Redskins
Davis has been the most reliable option on the Redskins offense this season. In four of his six games, the tight end has at least five catches for 80 or more yards, and he leads the team in yards, receptions, and is tied for the most touchdowns. And now that Washington will be without Chris Cooley and Santana Moss for the foreseeable future, those numbers will only increase. Davis is a solid play this week against the Bills.

OUT: Brent Celek, Eagles
With all the byes again this week, you might be looking to insert Celek into your lineup, but there are better options out there. Yes, Celek was more involved in the Eagles offense in Week 6 (he caught a touchdown and was targeted a team-high nine times) but I don’t think that’s the precursor to a trend. Michael Vick has so many weapons at his disposal that Celek is likely to be the lone man out when the Eagles take on the Cowboys (and their very good defense) on Sunday.

Kickers

IN: Lawrence Tynes, Giants
Prior to his Week 6 breakout performance (a season-high nine point game against Buffalo), Tynes had attempted just three field goals over the previous five games — not enough to register with fantasy owners. But that could change this week. The Giants are coming off a bye and will take on the Dolphins in Week 8, a team that is having all kinds of issues on defense. New York’s offense should put up lots of points, which should benefit Tynes.

OUT: Shaun Suisham, Steelers
Pittsburgh’s offense has been on fire lately but Suisham remains inconsistent. Last week against the Cardinals was only his second double-digit effort of the season. This Steelers/Patriots game has the makings of a shootout, but it could just as easily turn out to be a low-scoring game as well (think Cowboys/Patriots from a couple weeks back). With a lot of kickers out on the waiver wire, stick Suisham on your bench.

Defenses

IN: 49ers
San Francisco has one of the top fantasy defenses in the league, but this unit still gets overlooked. The D has 17 sacks, 14 turnovers and has allowed only 97 points overall this season. This week, San Fran is taking on Cleveland, a team that’s having major issues scoring points. The Browns are averaging around 16 points per contest, but they put up only six last week against a so-so Seahawks defense. Big things are on the horizon for the 49ers defense in Week 8.

OUT: Jaguars
You had to be impressed with what the Jags did Monday against the Ravens — they held Baltimore to 146 total yards and just one touchdown while forcing two turnovers. But next up for Jacksonville is the Texans, who have been putting up big numbers even without Andre Johnson in the lineup. This game creates a lot of mismatches for the Jags and the D might be in for a letdown after their big upset win on Monday.

Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 7

Here’s who I like and who I don’t like for Week 7.

Quarterbacks

IN: Tim Tebow, Broncos
The Tebow Era begins Sunday and the young pivot couldn’t have asked for a better matchup — the Dolphins have allowed at least 18 fantasy points to every quarterback they’ve faced this season. Along with his arm, Tebow can do a lot of damage with his legs (he has seven rushing touchdowns in his 12 career games). On top of that, Sunday is “Gator Day” at Sun Life Stadium (saluting the 2008 National champs) so there should be a very pro-Tebow crowd on hand.

OUT: Joe Flacco, Ravens
Flacco hasn’t thrown a touchdown in each of his last two games (although he did run one in last week) and isn’t throwing a high completion percentage lately either (just 32% against the Jets in Week 4). From a fantasy perspective, Flacco hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant an every week play. The Ravens are facing the Jaguars in Week 7, a team that has been effective against the pass, allowing just 210 yards per game through the air.

Running Backs

IN: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
Lynch got off to a slow start but is turning things around after scoring a touchdown in each of his last two games. In his most recent start against the Giants in Week 5, Lynch averaged 8.2 yards per carry. The Seahawks back will get a lot of touches this week against the Browns, who are allowing an average of 16 points to opposing running backs this season. Historically, Lynch has done well against Cleveland (384 total yards and a touchdown in the last three meetings) so he could be a nice bye-week fill-in.

OUT: Steven Jackson, Rams
Because of all the byes this week, it’s highly unlikely you’ll stick Jackson on your bench but points will be hard to come by. The Cowboys have the best run D in the league (allowing less than 70 yards a game) and have given up just one rushing touchdown this entire season. Jackson has also been banged up and ranks just 30th among fantasy running backs. The Rams will rely on him to get the offense going on Sunday (especially if A.J. Feeley gets the start), but they could abandon the run altogether if trailing by a wide margin.

Wide Receivers

IN: James Jones, Packers
The problem playing Green Bay receivers week to week is you never know which one will be Aaron Rodger’s target de jour. But picking which Packer to play in Week 7 shouldn’t be a problem — they are all likely to see plenty of action. The Vikings are giving up almost 270 passing yards per game and Jones has a three-game touchdown streak on the go. During that stretch, the receiver is averaging almost 25 yards a catch. Jones is another deep threat for Rodgers and he’ll get a chance to shine Sunday against the lowly Vikings.

OUT: Vincent Jackson, Chargers
As with running back Steven Jackson, the Chargers’ Jackson is in for a tough time on Sunday. Welcome to Revis Island. Jackson did not have a good game in Week 5 against another elite cornerback (Denver’s Champ Bailey held him to just three catches for 34 yards) and he’s got his work cut out for him this week against Darrelle Revis. Jackson has also been struggling with a hamstring injury and even though the Chargers are coming off a bye, it’s unlikely he’ll be 100 percent. You probably can’t afford to sit Jackson with so many teams off in Week 7, but don’t expect big numbers from this Charger.

Tight Ends

IN: Dallas Clark, Colts
Without Peyton Manning, Clark has had a disappointing season but maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The tight end is coming off his best game of the year (six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown) and could finally be finding his groove with quarterback Curtis Painter. The Saints have not been effective defending tight ends this season, averaging around 10 fantasy points to the position. Plus, they’ve given up a league-worst 12 touchdowns through the air. Clark has a shot to put up some good numbers.

OUT: Jared Cook, Titans
Cook has benefited from the loss of receiver Kenny Britt. The tight end has been targeted 15 times in the last two games but has just six catches for 153 yards to show for it. Cook has not made the most of his opportunities and has a tough matchup this week. The Texans defense is giving up the third-fewest points to tight ends this year and only Jimmy Graham has been able to gain more than 40 yards against that unit. Cook has a bright future, but should be sitting on your bench for Week 7.

Kickers

IN: Dan Carpenter, Dolphins
We know Miami’s offense has been struggling but Carpenter could still be a good fantasy play this week. He has been more consistent recently (hitting six field goals in a row) and this week the Dolphins are taking on the Broncos, who have given up the most fantasy points to kickers this season. Touchdowns might be hard to come by for Matt Moore and company, meaning Carpenter could get his chances this week.

OUT: Ryan Longwell, Vikings
Despite the inconsistencies of the Vikings’ offense, Longwell has had some good fantasy games this season. This week will not be one of those. Rookie Christian Ponder takes over at QB for Minnesota and the offense will have issues keeping up with the high-flying Packers. Green Bay is also giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to kickers this season, so Longwell might not get many opportunities on Sunday.

Defenses

IN: Raiders
Yes, Oakland has given up a lot of points this season, but the unit has continued to be a viable fantasy option. The Raiders have scored double-digit fantasy points in four of their six games this season thanks to their 16 sacks and nine interceptions. In Week 7, Oakland has a juicy matchup against Kansas City, a team that is averaging just 15 points per game. The defense could come up big on Sunday.

OUT: Lions
Detroit’s defense has been a pleasant surprise, but last week against the Niners they had major issues stopping the run (Frank Gore gashed them for 141 yards). This week Detroit faces off against Atlanta and another strong running back in Michael Turner. The Falcons offense hasn’t performed to expectations, but they have the ability to put points on the board in bunches (more than 30 in three of their six games this season). This one could turn into a shootout so you might want to leave the Lions on your bench.

Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 6

Here’s who I like and don’t like for Week 6.

Quarterbacks

IN: Mark Sanchez, Jets
Sanchez hasn’t been as big of a fantasy disappointment as some think.  Outside of his bad start against the Ravens, the Jets QB hasn’t averaged fewer than 15 fantasy points in any game this season.  This week Sanchez has a favorable match-up against the Miami Dolphins, who have been dismal against the pass (31st in the league).  The Jets are in panic mode and will put up a lot of points against the winless Dolphins, so Sanchez could finally get that breakout game fantasy owners have been waiting for.

OUT: Matt Schaub, Texans
Schaub proved his critics wrong last week, throwing for a season high 416 yards in his first game this season without receiver Andre Johnson.  But don’t expect that kind of production from him this week.  The Ravens have given up the least amount of fantasy points to quarterbacks, and no opponent has thrown multiple touchdowns against their secondary.  Throw in the fact that Schaub has been bothered by a sore shoulder and a thigh bruise (he missed practice on Thursday) and you might have to keep him on your bench this week.

Running Backs

IN: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
You might be tempted to sit MJD this week because of the match-up, but that would be a mistake – he’s fourth in the league in yards and the Steelers haven’t been a consistent team this season.  Jones-Drew did most of his damage in the first quarter against a good Bengals rush D last week, finishing the day with 85 yards and a touchdown.  Expect rookie QB Blaine Gabbert to be under pressure on Sunday, forcing the Jaguars to rely on their dual threat running back to move the chains.

OUT: Jahvid Best, Lions
Best put up big numbers against the Bears last week: 163 yards and a touchdown, the first 100-yard rushing game of his career.  But running backs are finding out week after week that it’s not easy to run against the 49ers.  San Francisco is giving up only 76 rush yards a game while allowing the least amount of fantasy points to opposing backs.  The Lions will look to do their damage through the air, something Matthew Stafford and his troops can do quite easily.

Wide Receivers

IN: Victor Cruz, Giants
You can’t ignore this guy any longer.  Cruz has been a revelation for the Giants’ passing game (161 yards and a touchdown last week) and has been building chemistry with Eli Manning, who continues to look his way late in games.  The Bills’ defense improved in Week 5, but the secondary is still giving up over 283 passing yards a game.

OUT: Santana Moss, Redskins
The Eagles D might be a mess, but Nnamdi Asomugha has kept things in check on his side of the field – Roddy White, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Johnson were have combined for just 77 yards and a touchdown versus the shutdown corner.  Moss has been consistent for the Redskins (at least five catches in every game this season) but historically he hasn’t performed well against Philly (only one game with more than 28 yards in their past four meetings). Asomugha will make Moss a non-factor against the Eagles once again on Sunday.

Tight Ends

IN: Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
I’m going out on a bit of a limb with this selection, but stick with me.  Shiancoe has not had a good season thus far (can’t we say that about the Vikings passing game overall?) but he could be in for a breakout performance in Week 6.  Minnesota is taking on the Chicago Bears this week, the worst team in the league defending tight ends (Brandon Pettigrew scored on them just last week).  With all the byes this week, you might want to roll the dice with Shiancoe.

OUT: Heath Miller, Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger had a huge game against the Titans on Sunday, but Miller was a bit of a disappointment (even though he did score his first touchdown of the season).  Due to his foot injury Big Ben was forced to focus more on the short passes, where Miller excels, but he targeted the tight end just four times last week.  The Jaguars’ defence is ranked in the top 10 against the pass, and I think Miller is just too much of a question mark to play with any confidence.

Kickers 

IN: Robbie Gould, Bears
The Bears’ offence has been inconsistent to say the least this season, but Gould has been just the opposite.  The kicker may be ranked just 12th in fantasy points, but he’s 10-for-10 on field goals and 11-for-11 on extra points.  The Vikings are giving up the fifth most points to opposing the kickers this season – a good sign for Gould owners.

OUT: Josh Brown, Rams
Brown is a good kicker, he’s just been short on opportunities this year.  The Rams’ offense has taken a major step back, and Brown’s production has suffered (only one field goal in his last two games).  Sam Bradford and company will have their issues moving the football against a Packers D that is starting to gel, so I wouldn’t rely on Brown for many points.

Defences

IN: Lions
The Lions’ defence was effective against Chicago last week (13 points allowed, three sacks) but has a tough test this week in the suddenly dangerous 49ers. San Francisco has been a scoring machine lately, with 72 points over its last two games, but has Alex Smith done enough to earn your trust?  The Lions secondary is opportunistic, with two interceptions returned for touchdowns against Dallas in Week 4, and the defensive line can dominate.  Turnovers could be plentiful on Sunday – especially if the 49ers are trailing early.

OUT: Giants   
Yes, the Giants are a top 10 defense, but the Bills present a whole new challenge.  Buffalo has been an offensive juggernaut this season, averaging almost 33 points per game.  Scoring aside, the Bills’ offensive line has been solid and hasn’t allowed more than one sack in a game, and the team is also very good at protecting the football (just five turnovers). Opposing defenses have scored the fewest fantasy points against Buffalo, and that trend should continue Sunday.

Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 5

With six teams on a bye this week, you may be desperate for some temporary fill-ins.  Here’s who I like and don’t like for Week 5.

Quarterbacks

IN: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
Even though Kolb is coming off his worst game statistically of 2011 (237 yards and a pick vs. the Giants), he could be a great bye-week fill-in play. The Cardinals are taking on the still winless Vikings on Sunday, who are allowing almost 290 passing yards a game and an average of 18 fantasy points to opposing QBs. The emergence of Beanie Wells will only help the passing game going forward.

OUT: Jay Cutler, Bears
Oh, Jay. You made a fool out of me last week — with Matt Forte in attack mode, Cutler finished with just 102 passing yards against Carolina. On Monday night the Bears travel to Detroit to take on the still undefeated Lions, who are giving up the fifth-least fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Detroit is good at forcing turnovers (Cutler is good at causing them) and that defensive line (led by Ndamukong Suh) will attack a very porous Bears o-line. Cutler could be in trouble.

Running backs

IN: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Bradshaw is one of the best multi-purpose backs in the league (if it wasn’t for all those darn fumbles). This week, the Giants are back at home taking on a Seahawks team that a) is not very good and b) has to travel halfway across the continent to NYC. Bradshaw should get plenty of looks on Sunday. I wouldn’t be too worried about Brandon Jacobs splitting carries with Bradshaw — with this lopsided matchup, there will be plenty of touches to go around.

OUT: LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
It may be difficult to sit Blount because of the bye week and because he has been playing so well of late, but use him with caution in Week 5. The 49ers are very good at stopping the run (allowing only 74 rush yards per game) and are giving up the least fantasy points to running backs this season. That means Tampa will likely take to the air to put points on the board. Josh Freeman is also a mobile quarterback, so look for him to take off running if the opportunity presents itself rather than hand it off to Blount.

Wide Receivers

IN: Santonio Holmes, Jets
To say Holmes is having an off season would be an understatement — 51 wide receivers have more fantasy points than Holmes after four weeks of play. But next up for the Jets, the Patriots and their 32nd-ranked pass defense (368.8 passing yards per game) who are giving up the most points to wideouts in 2011. Mark Sanchez will continue to target Holmes and the receiver could finally get the breakout game fantasy owners have been hoping for.

OUT: Brandon Lloyd, Broncos
Lloyd is coming off a terrific 136-yard game last week but that was against the Packers, one of the worst teams in the NFL against the pass.  Sunday will be a different story for Lloyd as the Broncos face off against the Chargers, who have a much better secondary and are allowing fewer than 200 passing yards per game. Throw in the fact that Eric Decker has been getting a lot of attention lately (at least five catches in each of his games this season), and Lloyd might be too much of a question mark to start.

Tight Ends

IN: Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Pettigrew is one of Matt Stafford’s favorite targets (his 22 receptions are second to only Calvin Johnson) and he should do some major damage against the Bears on Monday night. Chicago has given up the most fantasy points to tight ends this season and you can expect the Lions to put up some big numbers against their division rivals.

OUT: Scott Chandler, Bills
Chandler’s production has definitely cooled since he jumped out of the gate with four touchdowns in his first three games. Last week against the Bengals, the former journeyman had just two receptions for a paltry eight yards — he was a non-factor. This week the Bills run game should be front and center versus the visiting Eagles (they’re giving up almost 140 rush yards a game) meaning Chandler could be used more for blocking than receiving.

Kickers

IN: Adam Vinatieri, Colts
It hasn’t been a very good season for Vinatieri (but then again, it hasn’t been a very good season for many Colts) but he could be a great bye-week play against the Chiefs. Kansas City is giving up almost 10 points per game to kickers and as he showed on Monday night, Curtis Painter is doing a better job of moving the ball down the field. Another plus for Vinatieri: Indy is having issues converting touchdowns in the red zone.

OUT: Rob Bironas, Titans
The biggest question surrounding the Titans this week has nothing to do with the Titans. The Steelers D is banged up but the team is back at Heinz Field and looking for revenge after dropping a winnable game to the Texans last week. Now don’t get me wrong, Bironas is a very good kicker, but I just don’t know what to expect from Pittsburgh this week. I think this will be a low-scoring affair and there are better kicker options out there.

Defenses

IN: Bengals
By pure stats alone the Cincinnati Bengals are the top-ranked defense in the league (allowing just 275.5 yards per game).  Who woulda thunk it. The D did a great job of slowing down the high-flying Bills last week, holding them to just 13 points on offense (this after Buffalo had scored at least 34 points in each of their previous three games). Next up for the Bengals: rookie Blaine Gabbert and the Jags. Even though Cincinnati hasn’t had an interception since Week 1, points are hard to come by against this unit.

OUT: Eagles
People are starting to lose confidence in a defense that many expected to be among the best in the league. Last week, the 49ers (hardly an offensive juggernaut) put up over 400 yards on the Eagles, including 164 on the ground. Those numbers are music to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s and Fred Jackson’s ears. The Bills are one of the highest-scoring teams in the league (over 33 points per game, good for fourth in the NFL) and they’ll be looking to prove themselves after seeing their undefeated streak end last week. This is not the week to put your faith in Philly’s D.

Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 4

Here’s who I like and who I don’t like for Week 4:

Quarterbacks

IN: Jay Cutler, Bears
Now I know this is a weird selection because the Bears offensive line is having major issues once again protecting their quarterback this season and the running game has been nonexistent (Cutler was actually Chicago’s leading rusher last week with 11 yards). But the Bears’ pivot should be in your lineup this week. Cutler can still throw the football, he can still put up some yardage and the Bears are playing the Panthers, who are hardly a force on D.  He’s in line to have his biggest game of the season.

OUT: Tony Romo, Cowboys
You have to give credit where credit is due — Romo put in a valiant performance against the Redskins (sore ribs and all) but he fought accuracy and velocity issues throughout the night (along with an overexcited center). Romo’s injuries will be an issue again Sunday when the Cowboys take on a very good and physical Lions team. Detroit has allowed just two passing touchdowns this season, so Romo might do better for you on the bench.

Running Backs

IN: Tim Hightower, Redskins
To say Hightower has undergone a transformation in Washington is an understatement. The former Cardinal has gone over 100 yards rushing or scored a touchdown in every game this season and that’s bound to continue this week against the Rams. St. Louis has been horrible against the run, allowing the most rushing yards this season and the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Hightower should have a very productive Sunday.

OUT: Arian Foster, Texans
Foster has played just one half this whole season (Week 2 against Miami) and has totaled only 33 yards. Last year’s leading rusher has been struggling with a hamstring injury, but he’ll be back in Houston’s lineup (and starting) in Week 4. That’s the good news. The bad? The Texans are facing the Steelers, who have been frustrating opposing running backs for years. Ben Tate will still get plenty of touches for the Texans, further hurting Foster’s fantasy value. I know it’s hard to bench a top pick, but you might want to wait a week before putting Foster back into your starting rotation.

Wide Receivers

IN: Denarius Moore, Raiders
Can you say juicy matchup?  The Raiders are taking on the Patriots and their league-worst pass defense (377 yards per game) in Week 4. Moore has been very effective in the two games he’s played this year, averaging 16 fantasy points (146 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, 59 yards in Week 2 with a touchdown). This game should be a shootout, so be confident rolling with the rookie on Sunday.

OUT: Brandon Marshall, Dolphins
Last week, Browns cornerback Joe Haden shadowed Marshall for the entire game and the results were not favorable for the wideout: four catches for just 43 yards. Is this the blueprint for controlling Marshall? Expect the Chargers to employ a similar strategy at home on Sunday and stifle Miami’s less than impressive offense. The Dolphins continue to have major issues putting points on the board, and I still don’t trust Chad Henne enough to play Marshall.

Tight Ends

IN: Dustin Keller, Jets
There are some differing opinions on Keller’s worth this week, but I think it’s safe to use him. The tight end has become Mark Sanchez’s security blanket — he has at least five catches in every game this season (good for PPR leagues) and already has two touchdowns. Keller can be utilized at the line of scrimmage and also in the middle of the field — he just has to keep an eye out for Baltimore’s big linebackers this week. The Ravens aren’t a great matchup for Keller and the Jets, but I still think he gets his yards (and hopefully a touchdown).

OUT: Fred Davis, Redskins
Davis was expected to be a huge factor last week against the Cowboys, but the results weren’t impressive (one catch, 23 yards). Worse news for Davis owners: Chris Cooley is starting to get healthy (he actually had more yards than Davis did in Week 3) and it might only be a matter of time before he reclaims his starting role. Even though the Rams defense has been horrible this season, they have been effective against tight ends (77 yards and no touchdowns in three games).

Kickers

IN: Shaun Suisham, Steelers
Suisham had a slow start to the season with just one successful field goal in the first two games, but he came up big in Week 3 against the Colts, hitting three field goals and two extra points. Have both Suisham and Pittsburgh’s offense finally turned the corner?  This game between the Steelers and Texans has the potential to be a shootout, so Suisham will get plenty of opportunities to put points on the board.

OUT: Matt Bryant, Falcons
The Falcons offense has taken a major step back this year, but it’s way too early to panic. Bryant is ranked just 25th among kickers primarily because he has only four attempts in the first three weeks (although he is a perfect 4-for-4). I expect Atlanta’s offense to score more touchdowns than field goals this week against Seattle, a team that’s surprisingly averaging just eight fantasy points to kickers this year. There are better options out there this week.

Defenses

IN: Saints
Yes, the Saints are giving up 29 points per game, but that’s not too bad since they’ve played some high-powered offenses like the Packers and Texans this year. This week they get a reprieve in rookie Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars, a major mismatch in favor of the Saints. Who knows how well Jacksonville will move the ball, but we know Drew Brees and company won’t have any problems in that department. The Jags could be trailing for most of the game and the Saints could force them into making a lot of mistakes.

OUT: Jets
This is a hard defense to sit, but you have to admit that this Jets D isn’t the same Jets D of years past. In Week 3 Oakland ran wild on New York (a Rex Ryan era record 234 yards) and made scoring touchdowns look very easy. The Ravens know Ryan and they sure know how to run the football (see Rice, Ray), which is a bad combination for the Jets. Despite what happened when these teams combined for just 19 points in last year’s meeting, I have a feeling this game will be more about offense and less about defense.