It’s official, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is an automatic “Start ‘Em” unless stated otherwise.
Roethlisberger joins that group of fantasy quarterbacks consisting of Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck for the remainder of the 2014 season. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers fell from grace after a poor performance against the Miami Dolphins.
Big Ben has now tossed for six touchdowns in two consecutive games – an NFL record. His Week eight performance against the Indianapolis Colts was almost considered a fluke, until he nearly replicated it against rival Baltimore.
For the second week in a row, I had Ben Roethlisberger on the bench because Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was up against inferior defenses. I have learned from my mistakes, and if you have Ben Roethlisberger on your roster, you have automatic points, as his chemistry with receiver Antonio Brown is currently at an all-time high.
Whether you have Roethlisberger or Rivers, this week is pivotal. We are nearing the beginning of fantasy football playoffs as we pass the midway point of the NFL season. It is time for the Week 10 edition of the MTSU Sidelines: Start ‘Ems and Sit ‘Ems.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: More often than not, this distinction goes to an automatic start at quarterback, and this week is no exception. Aaron Rodgers takes on division rival Chicago.
The Bears rank in the bottom ten in passing defense, having allowed an average of 262 yards per game and 17 touchdowns through eight games.
Aaron Rodgers understands the importance of performing well against divisional rivals, evidenced by his nearly perfect performance in Week four when he completed 22 of his 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns at Chicago.
Since then, Rodgers has tossed for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, both of the interceptions coming in Week eight against the New Orleans Saints. Coming off a bye week, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers should be firing on all cylinders.
Start ‘Ems: Cam Newton (CAR), Joe Flacco (BAL), Matt Ryan (ATL)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills: All four of these sit ‘ems at quarterback are in the same games. Kyle Orton’s Bills face off against Alex Smith’s Chiefs, while Matthew Stafford and the Lions battle Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins.
Buffalo is the only team here that is not ranked as a top five passing defense, ranked at 13th on the season. However, the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed the least passing yards per game with just 199 yards being given up.
Orton will have his work cut out for him this week. While all four of these quarterbacks will have underwhelming performances, Orton is the most prone to play poorly, especially against a very difficult Chiefs passing defense.
Sit ‘Ems: Matthew Stafford (DET), Ryan Tannehill (MIA), Alex Smith (KC)
Sleeper of the Week: Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans: Rookie Zach Mettenberger is not ready to be considered a “start ‘em”, but he could very well have a good game this week in Baltimore against the Ravens.
Baltimore is in the bottom ten for passing yards allowed per game and has allowed 13 passing touchdowns thus far.
With a bye week allowing for more preparation, the rookie could play well in an attempt to prove himself to the Titans coaching staff that he is their quarterback of the future. On the other hand, he could be eaten alive by a Ravens pass rush that has generated 20 sacks this season.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: While Aaron Rodgers may have a great opportunity to air it out, Matt Forte’s fantasy owners should be delighted by his matchup against the worst rushing defense of the Green Bay Packers.
He ran the ball 23 times for 122 yards the last time these two teams met up, but he has only rushed the ball for 100 yards once since this game. The last time Forte eclipsed over 100 rushing yards was in his Week eight matchup against the New England Patriots.
Expect a bigger game from Forte, especially with quarterback Jay Cutler and the passing attack not being on the same page after a series of locker room spats following multiple losses.
Start ‘Ems: Justin Forsett (BAL), Ronnie Hillman (DEN), Jeremy Hill (CIN)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans: While rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger could have a great game, his rookie teammate will likely not.
The Ravens are only allowing 86.4 yards per game on the ground, which is a bad sign for a running back that has failed to rush for 100 yards against much inferior defenses. Keep Sankey on the bench, even if you are waiting for that breakout week.
Sit ‘Ems: Tre Mason (STL), Darren McFadden (OAK), Rashad Jennings (NYG)
Sleeper of the Week: Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Assumed starter Doug Martin was inactive on Sunday with an ankle injury, but has failed to produce much from a fantasy standpoint.
Bobby Rainey leads the Bucs in rushing with 81 attempts for 374 yards, adding one touchdown and three fumbles, a very poor output up to this point.
However, the Bucs face off against the eighth-worst rushing defense of the Atlanta Falcons, setting up a potential strong game for Rainey.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton’s Panthers are now sitting at 3-5-1 on the season, but his rookie wide out has 40 receptions for 589 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team.
Now the Panthers take on the porous Philadelphia Eagles defense, and Kelvin Benjamin should be Cam Newton’s top target, especially if the Panthers want to make it to the postseason in a very weak NFC South division.
Start ‘Ems: Kenny Britt (STL), Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG), Allen Hurns (JAX)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins: Mike Wallace has played much better in his second season in Miami, tallying 35 receptions for 468 yards and five touchdowns.
While the stats have been impressive, the Detroit Lions defense is more impressive. Wallace may not be a key component in this game against the fifth-ranked passing defense.
Sit ‘Ems: Wes Welker (DEN), Brandin Cooks (NO), Markus Wheaton (PIT)
Sleeper of the Week: Percy Harvin, New York Jets: While the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has proven to be unstoppable right now, their defense is still susceptible, allowing an average of 252 yards per game.
Harvin showed some relevancy in Week nine with Michael Vick as his quarterback, catching 11 passes for 129 yards. While he may not be cleared to be a full-time starter yet in fantasy football, he could haul in at least one touchdown this week, especially with Vick as the Jets’ quarterback.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: While the Cowboys are playing a very poor passing defense in the Jacksonville Jaguars, the quarterback (whether it’s Brandon Weeden or Tony Romo) will be under pressure from a Jaguars line that is third in the league in sacks.
Either quarterback will need a reliable receiver that can catch underneath routes, and that is where Jason Witten comes in. Witten does not appear to be slowing down too much with age, as he has caught 34 passes for 398 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Jaguars passing defense will be just bad enough to be shredded by Witten, but not bad enough to let Dez Bryant do all of the damage.
Start ‘Ems: Owen Daniels (BAL), Vernon Davis (SF)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: Jimmy Graham is still playing very good football, but he has to have some bad games eventually.
This week he faces off against the third-ranked passing defense of the San Francisco 49ers, which has only allowed 206 yards per game and nine touchdowns through the air this season.
Graham only had six receptions for 41 yards last season against the 49ers, getting shut out of the end zone. Expect more of the same.
Sit ‘Ems: Martellus Bennett (CHI), Travis Kelce (KC)
Sleeper of the Week: Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams: Young quarterback Austin Davis has a tough task ahead of him in the Arizona Cardinals defense that leads the NFL in blitzing.
He may look to use his tight end in check-down situations, and Jared Cook may have the opportunity to have a decent performance against a stingy Arizona defense.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Buffalo Bills D/ST: The Bills had a top-three defense a few weeks ago but now sit near the middle of the pack.
They can find plenty of success in Week ten against the second-worst offense of the Kansas City Chiefs. Alex Smith has yet to throw a touchdown to a wide receiver, and this is not the week to expect him to do so.
Start ‘Ems: Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST, Baltimore Ravens D/ST
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Oakland Raiders D/ST: Believe it or not, the Raiders have a decently impressive defense, allowing just 228 passing yards per game.
That does not matter this week, as the Raiders take on Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos, who will most likely be looking to beat up on the win-less Raiders after Denver’s blowout loss to New England last week.
Sit ‘Ems: Chicago Bears D/ST, New Orleans Saints D/ST
Sleeper of the Week: Carolina Panthers D/ST: With Mark Sanchez as the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Panthers automatically have a good chance to win this game.
Sanchez is still prone to mistakes, and the Panthers still have key playmakers, such as middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Panthers could use this game to end their slump.
You can follow Kenneth Goit on Twitter at @KennethGoit
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