Knowing who to start and bench in fantasy football is a huge advantage. Fantasy football efficiency ratings depend on which ff owners can start the right players every week. It hardly helps to have a big scoring roster when a couple of your best players are sitting on the bench when they go off.
For instance, if you had Matt Schaub this last week, there’s a decent chance you decided to bench Schaub, due to his ineffectiveness against the Jets in Week 1, his match-up against the Titans Defense and because he had lingering injury issues. So Matt Schaub’s 4 touchdown game might have gone wasted for you.
So let’s look at who to start and who to bench every week in your fantasy football league.
Fantasy Football Tips – Who To Start
Here are some borderline running backs and receivers you almost have to start these days, if Plan A coming out of the fantasy draft hasn’t worked out for you. Of course, if you have Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore as your starting runners, you’ll play those guys instead of the rbs below.
But if you’ve had injuries or ineffectiveness and you have one or more of these guys sitting on your bench, don’t forget to start them. They’ve suddenly become worth a fantasy football start in most formats.
Darren Sproles – Running Back – San Diego Chargers
For the foreseeable future, Ladainian Tomlinson is going to be hampered by his sprained foot. That means extra work for Darren Sproles, who is capable of a big play every time he touches the ball. Sproles plays in a big offense, so unless you have crazy depth at the running back position, I would suggest you start Darren Sproles until Tomlinson shows he can start a game and finish a game.
Willis McGahee – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens
It had looked like Willis McGahee had lost his starting position with the Baltimore Ravens to Ray Rice. Then McGahee got a touchdown in Week 1. Then McGahee got two touchdowns in Week 2 and was in the lineup on the final drive. It looks to me like the Ravens are going with a true platoon, with Ray Rice getting the start and much of the receiving totals out of the backfield.
But when the ball gets near the goal line and when it comes the 4th quarter, McGahee is in the ballgame. That means he’s getting productive carries, scoring touchdowns and playing against defenses Ray Rice has worn down. Only start Willis McGahee if you don’t have a full compliment of every down, stud running backs.
In an NFL where that’s increasingly rare, though, Willis McGahee is probably a viable start. Keep in mind that Willis McGahee’s part time status means he’ll be inconsistent. Start him in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns in all circumstances, though.
Felix Jones – Running Back – Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys use Felix Jones only in spot duty still, which frustrates many Cowboys fans. Many people took Felix Jones high in fantasy football drafts, assuming Felix Jones would be the third down back. Unfortunately, Tashard Choice appears to be getting those balls. Felix Jones is a high-risk, high-reward fantasy football start, as his first two weeks have shown.
But Marion Barber injured his quad late in the Week 2 game vs the New York Giants, which means Felix Jones is likely to get his first NFL start on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers. Even if Marion Barber plays, he’s likely to be limited. The Cowboys play the Panthers on the fast turf at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, so play Felix Jones and hope this is his true national television coming-out party.
Mario Manningham and Steve Smith – Wide Receivers – New York Giants
If you were one of those in your league lucky enough to pick up Mario Manningham, you might as well start him in Week 3. The Giants play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have developed a habit of making every fantasy football wide receiver look good.
The Giants are without Hakeem Nicks and Domenic Hixon for a while, and Mario Manningham has been the Giants big play receiver in 2009. Steve Smith appears to be Eli Manning’s go-to guy when he wants to move the chains. Keep monitoring this situation as the season develops, but both Manningham and Smith are worth starts in Week 3 against the Bucs.
Percy Harvin – Wide Receiver – Minnesota Vikings
Two weeks, two touchdowns. Brett Favre has always locked on a receiver as his main goal line guy since way back when – first Sterling Sharpe, then Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Donald Driver and finally Greg Jennings. Favre has developed an early-season rapport with Percy Harvin. If you’re desperate for an extra starting WR and Harvin is sitting your bench, you could do worse than a kid with game-breaking speed on one of the NFC’s best teams and with a habit of finding the endzone. Percy Harvin should only get better.
Fantasy Football Tips – Who To Bench
These are the guys who made a lot of sense in the preseason, but after two weeks of fantasy football, shouldn’t be in your starting lineup right now. This might be from injury, ineffectiveness or crappy offense. Whatever the case, I bet there’s a lesser name on your roster who will produce better than these guys right now.
Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal – Wide Receivers – Denver Broncos
Fantasy football is crazy. In 2008, Eddie Royal and especially Brandon Marshall were must-starts. Now, Eddie Royal has 5 receptions for 38 yards and Brandon Marshall has 7 receptions for 61 yards in two weeks. Neither has a touchdown in two games. Though it sounds crazy, you have to make these two formerly potent fantasy football wide receivers prove their value to you again. Here’s why.
Not only have Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal had bad fantasy football stats in the short 2009 season, but the words out of Denver are ominous. Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels is saying he wants to spread the ball around and he has no intention of having a “#1 receiver”. McDaniels says that forcing the ball to a receiver causing mistakes and turnovers and he’s not going to have it on his team. He’s making play calls accordingly.
While Josh McDaniels could do this with the New England Patriots and Tom Brady would still find his stud receivers a lot, don’t expect Kyle Orton to consistently hit Marshall and Royal, if the coach isn’t trying to get them the ball. Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are due for sub-par fantasy football years in 2009.
Derrick Mason – Wide Receiver – Baltimore Ravens
It appears Derrick Mason may have finally hit the wall. Joe Flacco looks good, but he hasn’t hit Derrick Mason enough in either one of the Ravens’ surprising shootouts in Week 1 and Week 2. If Derrick Mason isn’t going to be posting big fantasy stats when the Ravens are in shootouts, it’s much less likely he’ll be putting up numbers when the Ravens go back to grinding out games with defense and a running game.
Bench Derrick Mason until he proves he’s a fantasy football factor again.
Fantasy Football Tips – Who To Drop
There are also players you either drafted or picked up in free agency who you’ll want to cut from your roster. These players are either so ineffective they aren’t worth the roster spot, or their situations have changed.
Shaun Hill – Quarterback – San Francisco 49ers
Last year, when the San Francisco 49ers were consistently playing from behind, Shaun Hill was a sneaky starter in fantasy football. The fact the Niners were behind forced him to throw the ball. In 2009, Shaun Hill is playing from ahead. The Niners Defense has done its job against the Niners two big division rivals – Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks – and Frank Gore is running with the best of them. If the 49ers are going to be competitive or even ahead in most ballgames, Shaun Hill isn’t going to be forced to throw the ball very much.
You know Mike Singletary wants to win old school, so he’s not going to throw unless he has to. Drop Shaun Hill and find a quarterback on a team that throws a lot through necessity – such as Byron Leftwich or Matthew Stafford – because they will be better backup quarterbacks than the Shaun Hill.
Lance Moore – Wide Receiver – New Orleans Saints
Lance Moore was a solid free agent pickup in 2008. Now, he’s losing playing time to Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem and he’s dealt with an offseason shoulder surgery and in-season hamstring injury. In Week 2, Lance Moore went out with a hammy. He’s expected to be available for Week 3, but hamstrings can be tricky.
If you aren’t in a deep league that allows you to keep a lot of dead weight for weeks until they come around, you’re probably better off dropping Lance Moore and either picking up Devery Henderson or someone like him.