Four weeks and counting until the fantasy playoffs begin. Do you know where your team is headed? Hopefully, it's to the postseason. If not, don't fret. You still have a reason to play. Sometimes if you can't be an example ... be a warning. Or at least a spoiler. The next best thing to bragging about your championship is bragging that you kept your buddy from winning one. To the matchups!
Analysis: If Raiders running back Darren McFadden were playing, I would give him a strong recommendation. But he's not, so I can't. Back-up running back Taiwan Jones and fullback Marcel Reece don't inspire the same level of confidence. Beyond that, there isn't much in the Raiders offense to be excited about. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's inconsistency makes him a cautious start and running back Ray Rice is always a must-start. But keep an eye out for Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who could do big things.
Analysis:Willis McGahee, welcome to your bonanaza. Look for the veteran running back to run well against the Panthers front seven. Temper your expectations for Broncos wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas this week. Despite a mediocre matchup, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton should be able to spread the ball around. Look for tight end Greg Olsen to see plenty of targets this week.
Analysis: Look for the Giants offense to bounce back from a poor performance last week. Giants' quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Victor Cruz are solid plays. Look for Andre Brown to run well, even if Ahmad Bradshaw is available. Big Blue's defense should once again produce for fantasy owners. As always, Bengals' receiver A.J. Green is a quality start, but running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis could also post numbers above expectations this week.
Analysis: This is likely where Titans running back Chris Johnson's recent run of success comes to an end. But good things are in the works for wide receivers Nate Washington and Kenny Britt. Avoid Titans quarterback Jake Locker until he's had a chance to work off the rust. If you have any Dolphins, they're probably worth starting this week. quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Reggie Bush, wide reciever Brian Hartline and even tight end Anthony Fasano should all get consideration this week. The Dolphins' defense also has appeal this weekend.
Analysis: This matchup doesn't favor the Lions offense, but it's hard to sit quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson. Running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell will combine to produce mediocre numbers. They're best avoided if you have other options. The Lions have been good against the run, but you're starting Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson anyway. With receiver Percy Harvin out of the lineup, it should bode well for Jerome Simpson, but start him with caution.
Analysis: This has the makings of Week 10's fantasy bonanza. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Buffalo's passing game should break out of its funk against the Patriots' defense. Wide receiver Steve Johnson is a quality start this week and tight end Scott Chandler could be back on the fantasy radar. Hopefully by now you all know the rule -- start anyone against the Bills' defense. Especially if they're part of this high-powered Patriots' offense.
Analysis: Remember what I just said about the Bills' defense? That also applies to the Saints. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White are all poised for quality numbers. Expect running back Michael Turner to approach 100 rushing yards and possibly a score for good measure. Saints running back Pierre Thomas should find plenty of room to run against the Falcons' defensive front. Atlanta has done a good job of holding receivers in check, but that won't be the case this week. Start Saints recievers Marques Colston and Lance Moore with confidence.
Analysis: At this point, it's hard to trust Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers anymore, but you can look for nice games from his receivers. Malcom Floyd is a nice WR2 option this week while Robert Meachem has flex appeal. It goes without saying that Bucs running back Doug Martin won't repeat his numbers from last week, but you should ride the hot hand regardless. Speaking of hot hands, don't overlook quarterback Josh Freeman, former-Charger receiver Vincent Jackson and wideout Mike Williams this week.
Analysis: Last week the Seahawks were gashed by run. But that was against the Vikings' Adrian Peterson. Don't expect similar from Jets running back Shonn Greene. In fact, this looks a lot like the Jets early season matchups -- not much is going in their favor. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is quietly putting together a very nice fantasy season and should be started. Don't be surprised if Seattle tight end Zach Miller snags a red zone target or two this week.
Analysis: If there's one play that jumps out at fantasy owners, it should be the great matchup both defenses have against the turnover-prones offenses. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo should post decent yardage totals -- many of them to receiver Miles Austin -- but you'll have to deal with the inevitable interceptions. Philadelphia should once again lean on running back LeSean McCoy to soften up Dallas' defense.
Analysis: There is very little value to be found in the Rams' offense this week. St. Louis' defense has limited value, but in general, you'd be wise to avoid anyone with horns on their helmets. With a week to rest, 49ers running back Frank Gore is a solid play for fantasy owners this week. Quarterback Alex Smith won't put up heroic numbers, but he should wide receiver find Michael Crabtree who has been on a solid run lately.
Analysis: Two quality defenses going against two respectable offenses should result in a lot of mediocre numbers this week. This game is a reminder that you should always start your studs. Texans running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson, and Bears quarteback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall (even if he's double-teamed on every play) should be in your lineup.
Analysis: It's hard to sit the Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, but you should seriously consider it this week. The Steelers defense is a pain in the neck for most running backs. It's not favorable for a guy with an actual neck injury. Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe could produce decent flex numbers, but you may want to consider other options. Steelers running back Isaac Redman is a definite starting option in most leagues this week while receiver Mike Wallace is set up for a big week. If you have the Steelers defense, they should be an automatic start this week.
Follow Marcas Grant on Twitter @MarcasG