Question - Brandon Lloyd is on his bye week. Should I play Darrius Heyward-Bey or Victor Cruz?
Answer - Heyward-Bey has had a few good weeks in a row, but so has Victor Cruz, and he seems to have established a bigger role in the Giants' offense than Heyward-Bey has with the Raiders. The Oakland receivers are just all speedsters, and you never know who is going to break the big plays to score the fantasy points for their limited passing offense. There are just more yards and targets going around in the New York offense for Cruz to take part in.
Question - Should I start Joe Flacco at home off a bye? Or Matt Schaub playing in Baltimore without Andre Johnson?
Answer - This question came in before the news that Mario Williams was out for the season, but even then I thought that Flacco was the better choice. Even though the Texans have improved on defense after being awful last year, they still aren't shutting down any offenses. Schaub did a good job putting up stats last week without Andre, but that was against Oakland. Baltimore's defense is much better than Oakland, especially coming off of the bye week. Flacco is a solid play on Sunday, and you want to avoid Schaub if possible.
Question - I have Jackie Battle, Willis McGahee, and Vincent Jackson on bye, with LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Jacobs injured. Should I play Santana Moss or Pierre Thomas in my flex spot?
Answer - This particular question actually comes from my auction league, where I'm doing well, but need to get a good week here out of what is left of my lineup with all of those players (and Philip Rivers) on bye this week. In any given week, I would normally prefer Moss to Thomas, but this week my choice is actually going to be Thomas. The Eagles absolutely shut him down last season, to the tune of just three catches for 28 yards across two games. Even this much worse Philly defensive squad should do a decent job of shutting Moss down. Thomas has seen a decent enough number of touches so far that I'd rather risk it with him here. I think Pierre will see more targets soon as Darren Sproles' production slows somewhat. He can't keep up this per touch pace even in the wide open New Orleans offense.
Question - Which two should I start in a PPR league from Steven Jackson, Stevie Johnson, and Ryan Torain?
Answer - I love questions like this, because they clearly come from new fantasy players. Not that it's a bad question, but any experienced fantasy player has been burned before by Mike Shanahan. Ryan Torain can't be trusted here, especially with the positive outlook late this week regarding Tim Hightower's status on Sunday. Shanahan will never stick with the back you expect him to, and there is just as good a chance that Roy Helu leads the Redskins in rushing on Sunday as there is for Hightower and Torain. Stick with Steven Jackson and Stevie Johnson here.
Question - Owen Daniels or Aaron Hernandez?
Answer - I don't trust the Patriots offense to keep up with all of this tight end production. Eventually, teams are going to adjust to the tight ends, and instead get exploited by Danny Woodhead. I think Rob Ryan is going to do everything he can to not let New England beat him with the tight ends, and Tom Brady is actually going to have an off (for him) kind of day. On the other hand, I think Owen Daniels is going to have a big game here on Sunday, as he is the only player on the Texans offense left besides Arian Foster that will likely be able to beat his man and get open against the Baltimore D. I'm playing Daniels here, though you aren't going wrong with either guy.
Question - 16-Team PPR league, do I play Preston Parker, Danario Alexander, Mike Sims-Walker, or Harry Douglas as my WR3?
Answer - This is a pretty tough choice, as most 14-16 team league questions are. I think Sims-Walker is going to have some value soon, but I can't trust him to do something coming off the bye without seeing him produce first. Alexander has potential, but I think he's going to be further down the wide receiver chain than Sims-Walker for the foreseeable future. Preston Parker would have been the choice here, especially with LeGarrette Blount out for Tampa Bay, but with Julio Jones out, Harry Douglas is the better option. He's the number two receiver in an offense that is going to need to score some points on Sunday to beat the Panthers, and Douglas should see more than enough targets to make him valuable in PPR leagues.
Question - Between bye weeks and an injury to LeGarrette Blount, who should I choose between Ryan Grant and Daniel Thomas for my flex spot?
Answer - Ryan Grant still needs to be held onto in case he ever gets the full load of carries out in Green Bay again, but I think Daniel Thomas is actually a much better play this week. It's a bit of a risk, because it's the Jets, but I think Thomas is going to be explosive enough that he catches the Jets somewhat off guard and goes for at least fifty yards and a touchdown, a double digit performance that will be more than plenty for a bye week flex.
Feedback is appreciated either in the comments or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like an answer for any fantasy question between now and Saturday night, you can tweet me @bigderfsports, and i'll be sure to get back to you.
-Fred "Big Derf" Tobin