By Zac Bellman
Special to the Tribune
Start: Eli Manning (Giants) vs. Redskins – After three extremely disappointing outputs against the Cowboys, Steelers and Bengals, Manning returned to prominence for his loyal fantasy owners against the Packers. The last good game for Manning prior to his shelling of Green Bay was against Redskins. He threw for over 330 yards in their last meeting, and the Redskins gave up a season high 441 yards passing to Tony Romo last week.
Sit: Josh Freeman (Buccaneers) vs. Broncos – Freeman fell off last week after a string of strong performances, throwing for 256 yards and no touchdowns. This week they travel to Denver and take on the No. 5 passing defense in the league that will create problems for Freeman.
Sleeper Start: Matt Schaub (Texans) vs. Titans – Schaub has passed for an incredible 842 yards the last two weeks while adding six touchdowns. The Titans held Schaub to a decent game last meeting, but that was mostly because the Texans jumped on them early and didn’t need to pass for much of the 38-14 rout.
Start: Rashad Jennings (Jaguars) vs. Bills – Jalen Parmele got the start for the Jaguars after several unsatisfactory performances by Jennings last week. As luck would have it, Parmele sustained a leg injury and Jennings won his job back rather quickly. The Bills have given up 16 rushing touchdowns this season and with Chad Henne’s recent games, teams can no longer bring eight players up in the box to stop the run.
Sit: Matt Forte (Bears) vs. Seahawks – Forte sustained an ankle injury last week against the Vikings, and as of now his chances for playing this Sunday are in doubt. Michael Bush will likely get the majority of the carries, and the Seahawks have given up four rushing touchdowns in the last three weeks, so he might be the better play.
Sleeper Start: Bryce Brown (Eagles) vs. Cowboys – LeSean McCoy may not play again for the Eagles this week, and with the way Brown played on Monday night, they’ll have no need to rush him back from his concussion. Brown had 178 yards and two touchdowns in his starting debut, and he takes on a Cowboys defense that was embarrassed on Thanksgiving.
Start: Dez Bryant (Cowboys) vs. Eagles – Bryant has been on a hot streak lately, catching three touchdowns and putting up back-to-back 145-yard performances the last two weeks. Miles Austin left the Cowboys game last week with a hip injury, so Bryant will be the clear-cut No. 1 receiver, splitting targets primarily with tight end Jason Witten.
Sit: Mike Wallace (Steelers) vs. Ravens – Even if Ben Roethlisberger suits up for this game, it’s hard to see him launching the ball down the field the way he could if he didn’t separate his throwing shoulder. Charlie Batch won’t be able to do this either even though he is healthy. When a wide receiver’s main attribute is getting down the field quickly, he won’t have a big day with a quarterback who can’t help him stretch the field.
Sleeper Start: Greg Jennings (Packers) vs. Vikings – Barring a major setback in practice this week, Jennings should be back in the lineup for the first time in two months. There are some buyer beware factors here, however, as the Packers could limit his snap count and they failed to get the ball down the field last week due to poor pass protection.
Add: Detroit WR Ryan Broyles (Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – With Titus Young sitting on the bench, Broyles took advantage of his first shot at being the No. 2 wide receiver for Detroit. With Calvin Johnson receiving a majority of the attention, Broyles had a breakout game, catching six passes for 126 yards. He should see plenty more opportunities after making that strong of a case for himself.
Add: Jets RB Bilal Powell (Owned in four percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – Powell is beginning to see a more even shake of the carries between himself and Shonn Greene over the last two weeks, and he has responded with three touchdowns. He is worth a flex play in deeper leagues if he continues to see an increase in work load.
Drop: Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (Owned in 89 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) – A disappointing season for Jackson just got worse today as he was put on injured reserve by the Eagles after sustaining fractured ribs against the Panthers. Jeremy Maclin is one of the few healthy bodies left on the Eagles offense, so look for him to get a lot of attention from defenses.