By Zac Bellman
Special to the Tribune
Start: Carson Palmer (Raiders) vs. Saints – All signs point to Carson having a big day in the air this week against the worst passing defense in the league. Both teams are down at least one running back, so look for an air raid.
Sit: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) vs. Broncos – The Broncos defense is hot, intercepting two passes, including one for a touchdown, and sacking Carolina’s Cam Newton seven times last week. They also picked off Rivers four times in their first matchup this year, returning one for a score in that game as well.
Sleeper Start: Joe Flacco (Ravens) vs. Steelers – Flacco had a monster game against Oakland last week, but this week he faces one of the premier passing defenses in the league. These two division rivals know each other well and lately Flacco has gotten the best of the Steelers in their previous two regular season meetings. With Ben Roethlisberger likely out this week, the Ravens could dominate.
Start: C.J. Spiller (Bills) vs. Dolphins – Fred Jackson went down with a concussion late in the Bills’ matchup last week with the Patriots and has already been ruled out for Thursday night. Spiller should see a few more opportunities than usual, with Tashard Choice possibly getting a few touches as well.
Sit: Rashad Jennings (Jaguars) vs. Texans – The Texans’ defense has been outstanding against the run this year, having not allowing a rushing touchdown. The Jaguars may be a bit more tied to their running game than some other teams the Texans have played this year, but their massive defensive line should keep Jennings in check.
Sleeper Start: Marcel Reece (Raiders) vs. Saints – Reece was targeted in the passing game nine times and picked up seven receptions on those targets last week. He could slip out of the backfield and make an impact again this week, especially with injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson clearing the way.
Start: Jordy Nelson (Packers) vs. Lions – Last time the Packers played the Lions, Jordy Nelson caught nine passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. That was with Matt Flynn at quarterback. With the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers back at the helm and a bye week to nurse his ankle injury, Nelson is should be returning to form.
Sit: Miles Austin (Cowboys) vs. Browns – The Browns secondary has steadily improved since the return of Joe Haden from suspension. Meanwhile, Austin’s production has halved in yardage each of the last three weeks.
Sleeper Start: Jeremy Kerley (Jets) vs. Rams – Provided he can hang on to the ball this week, Kerley is seeing a majority of the targets from Mark Sanchez. He’s not a bad flex play if you have a wide receiver or running back that is banged up.
Add: Steelers RB Isaac Redman (Owned in 63 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With Roethlisberger injured, the Steelers will likely run the ball to keep the ball away from Joe Flacco and the Ravens.
Add: Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (Owned in 33 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – He may not be worthy of a start this week, but Shorts is becoming a fairly reliable target in the Jaguars offense. Look for his role to continue to grow as the Jags look for other playmakers while Maurice Jones-Drew continues to rehab his injury.
Drop: Tennessee WR Kenny Britt (Owned in 62 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Although he came into the season with an Achilles injury and a suspension, many still took a late pick on Britt to see if he could return to his dominant form. That just hasn’t happened so far this year, and it’s time to cut ties if you are one of those people who are still holding out for him to come back.