Each week, fantasy owners must deal with the same dilemma while they examine their rosters. There are anywhere from 12 to 14 roster spots on a team, depending on the fantasy league, and not everyone can be in the starting lineup.
Naturally, there are certain players that, barring bye weeks, always remain in the starting lineup. But there are others, most notably wide receivers and quarterbacks, whose value fluctuates based on which team they're facing.
The selection process can be wearisome, particularly in larger leagues with a lot of parity, but it also can be rewarding. Depending on whether you make the right call this week, you could make up for that Week 1 loss, or continue your undefeated fantasy football season. Here are three matchups to consider before you choose your starters this weekend.
**Philadelphia vs. San Francisco
**In winning two of their last three home openers, the Eagles have averaged 37.5 points per game and won by an average margin of 22.5 points. Coming off a disappointing Week 1 loss against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, Philadelphia will return the services of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who was kicked out of the season opener for fighting before the contest.
Although the 49ers' receivers performed admirably in a win versus the St. Louis Rams last week, they'll have a tougher task against the Eagles' secondary, which includes Pro Bowlers Brian Dawkins, Michael Lewis and Lito Sheppard. Last season, the Eagles led the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 16.2 points per game, and recorded 47 sacks, the second-highest total in the league.
The Eagles' offense faces a defense that allowed an NFC-high 316 passing yards in Week 1. Last year, the 49ers allowed 27 passing touchdowns, the highest total in the NFC West, and made only nine interceptions.
Bottom line:Starting anyone on the 49ers' offense is a risky proposition this week, considering
the Eagles' defense, how well Philadelphia plays at home and the 49ers' shortcomings
on the road (2-14 over the last two seasons). Meanwhile, it looks like the Eagles
will be able to move the ball against a San Francisco defense that has allowed
an average of 27.5 points per game on the road the past two years.
Green Bay vs. Cleveland
**It hasn't been a happy week in Packers Country. The team's 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 1 was the first time since Sept. 13, 1992 that Green Bay has been held to three points in a regular season game. To add injury to insult, Pro Bowl wide receiver Javon Walker was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
No worries, though, because the Cleveland Browns venture to Lambeau Field on Sunday in hopes of becoming the fourth team since 2000 to knock off the Packers in their home opener. The Browns, who employ former Texans defensive line coach Todd Grantham as their first-year defensive coordinator, allowed 27 points and 148 rushing yards in their season-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. That's not a good sign for a team that allowed 24.4 points per game, the AFC's fourth-highest total, and a league-high 144.6 rushing yards per game last year.
The Browns are at an immediate disadvantage because of starting outside linebacker Matt Stewart's absence. He sprained his MCL against the Bengals and is listed as "Out" on the injury report.
Bottom line: For all the fantasy owners worried about running back Ahman Green's slow start (12 carries, 58 yards, 0 touchdowns), don't fret. He should be in top form this Sunday against a porous run defense. Meanwhile, quarterback Brett Favre, who threw two interceptions last Sunday, never seems to let poor performances affect him. He rebounded from a three-interception outing at Washington last year to toss four touchdowns with no picks the following week versus Minnesota.
Browns wide receiver Frisman Jackson came out of nowhere last week to catch eight balls for 128 yards and one touchdown. After playing this Sunday against an unproven Green Bay pass defense, Jackson could become a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
**Dallas vs. Washington
**The Redskins' defense couldn't have played much better in Week 1, allowing only 166 total yards of offense in a 9-7 win over the Chicago Bears. The unit also recorded two takeaways and three sacks.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, traveled to San Diego, delivering a solid all-around effort against one of the league's most explosive offenses. Dallas' defense picked off two passes and collected two sacks in a 28-24 win.
That does not bode well for either team's offense this weekend. But looking closer at the rivalry, these teams have a history of lighting up the scoreboard, especially at Dallas. In their last six meetings at Texas Stadium, the teams have averaged a combined 37.3 points.
Bottom line: It would be a stretch to expect Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe to repeat his Week 1 performance against the Chargers, when he threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Yet he showed enough accuracy (75 percent completion rate) to demonstrate his comfort in the Dallas offense.
Quarterback Mark Brunell, who replaces Patrick Ramsey, completed 59 percent of
his passes with one touchdown and no interceptions in the preseason. If Dallas
stacks the line to stop running back Clinton Portis, Brunell should have space
to find receivers like Santana Moss, David Patten and Jame Thrash.