JM VanSant, Sports Editor
In my weekly love/hate column, I take a look at who are the top candidates to put together either good or bad performances in fantasy football. Just remember, I am human, so if you bench someone who I hate and they go off, take your anger out on your TV, not me.
Teams on bye: Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quarterbacks I Love:
Tom Brady, Patriots: Best start of his career, going up against a soft Colts defense who accused him of cheating last postseason, and 4-0 against Andrew Luck. Yeah, I’ll take Brady as my QB1.
Matt Ryan, Falcons: Coming off a 254 yard and two interception game, look for Matty Ice to come out fired up against a weak Rob-Ryan led New Orleans defense in primetime. With Julio Jones looking probable for Thursday’s game, expect monster numbers from Ryan.
Quarterbacks I Hate:
Cam Newton, Panthers: With seemingly no run game to lean on and a dearth of talent at the receiver position, I don’t see Newton playing well at all against a Seattle defense that will be angry after last week’s overtime loss to Andy Dalton and the Bengals.
Josh McCown, Browns: He’s had a record-breaking last few weeks, but I can’t recommend starting any quarterback against this ridiculous Denver Broncos defense. Especially not a Browns quarterback.
Running Backs I Love:
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: In three games versus the Indianapolis Colts, Blount has seven touchdowns. Even with the emergence of shifty speedster Dion Lewis, I anticipate Blount to get the majority of the team’s goal-line carries, and with that, a couple of touchdowns.
Chris Ivory, Jets: Playing at the highest-level in his career, fresh off a bye-week, and playing the Redskins defense. Must start in all leagues.
Running Backs I Hate:
Any Redskins running back: A three-headed committee going up against a Jets defensive line that will see the return of Sheldon Richardson after a four-game suspension. I don’t see Alfred Morris, Matt Jones (toe), or Chris Thompson having good games.
Chris Johnson, Cardinals: Even though he’s listed as number one on Arizona’s depth chart, back David Johnson has been a touchdown vulture, and the return of Andre Ellington will only diminish CJ2K’S touches. Going up against a stout Steelers d-line, fantasy success is not in the speedster’s horizon.
Wide Receivers I Love:
Brandon Marshall, Jets: After missing several games with broken ribs last season, Marshall career has had a resurgence, totaling 400 yards and 3 touchdowns through four games as the Jets number one receiver. Going up against an atrocious Washington Redskins secondary, I expect Marshall to have a field day as he continues to show chemistry with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers: Coming off a 107-yd, 16 point fantasy effort, Boldin is locked in as Colin Kaepernick’s number-one guy. This week’s game matches the former-Raven up against a Baltimore team that has allowed 285.2 yards per game this year.
Julio Jones, Falcons: Rob Ryan defense, Thursday night game, Matt Ryan. Even nursing a hamstring injury, these things can only lead to huge success for the Alabama receiver.
Wide Receivers I Hate:
Antonio Brown, Steelers: Yes, he’s still a top-five receiver in the league. Yes, you should still start him because odds are you don’t have a backup to replace him. And yes, he’ll go back to being an animal once Ben Roethlisberger returns. But until then, he’s no longer a guaranteed top-ten receiver. With Mike Vick still running the offense and facing a stingy Arizona Cardinals secondary, I don’t see fantasy success in Brown’s future.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins: Even with receiver Desean Jackson sidelined with a hamstring injury, I can’t see Garcon putting up good numbers on Revis Island.
Tight Ends I Love:
Greg Olsen, Panthers: Even though we project Cam Newton to have an off week against the Seahawks, don’t expect the same from the ultra-consistent Olsen. He’ll go up against a Seattle linebacker corps that gave up 90 yards and 2 touchdowns to Tyler Eifert last week, and on top of that, he remains Newton’s go-to guy and best receiving option. Must start in every league.
Martellus Bennett, Bears: Last year against the Lions, Bennett torched Detroit for 109 yards on only eight catches. With receiver Alshon Jeffery expected to finally return to the field this week along with Eddie Royal, defenses can’t hone on this athletic tight end. We could see a multi-touchdown week from this Bennett brother.
Tight Ends I Hate:
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks: With the return of Pro Bowl-linebacker Luke Kuechly to Carolina’s defense, expect Graham to be blanketed the entire game. Graham’s nightmare season for fantasy owners will most likely continue this weekend.
Defense/ST I Love:
Jaguars D/ST: See Texans, Houston.
Jets D/ST: The aforementioned return of Sheldon Richardson to an already loaded defensive line, a healthy Darrelle Revis after a bye week, and Kirk Cousins manning the helm for Washington has all the signs of dominant performance by the Jets.
Defense/ST I Hate:
Giants D/ST: The Giants play the up-and-coming Eagles in Philadelphia this Monday. Don’t expect a big game from this Jason Pierre-Paul-less team.
*All fantasy point totals are ESPN standard-scoring
**Credit to Matthew Berry for the influence on this column