It goes without saying that the majority of New England Patriots players are typically worth starting in fantasy football. The Patriots have a potent offense and the defense is improving week-by-week; but depending on the matchup, there are situations when you should consider starting someone else.
This week the Patriots face off against the Cincinnati Bengals, who have a great defense that is struggling through injury problems, and an inconsistent, high-powered offense, led by wide receiver A.J. Green.
Start: Tom Brady
In standard leagues Tom Brady is averaging a disappointing 15.57 points per game. So far the fantasy pundits have been right about Brady's lack of production, and that could continue this week against the Bengals, who are allowing only 15.39 points to quarterbacks. Two weeks ago Cincy held Aaron Rodgers to only 12.16 points, though Brady should be better than that.
Despite Cincinnati's productive defense, they were without three of their best defensive backs last week: Leon Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Reggie Nelson. Not to mention that their star defensive end Michael Johnson was out with a concussion. As a result, Brian Hoyer put up 19.46 points. This week all those aforementioned players are still injured. Some should play, but with each of them hampered by injury, Tom Brady should have plenty of opportunities against their banged up defense.
However, if you are fortunate enough to have productive QB2 on your roster, like a Philip Rivers (at Oakland) or Brian Hoyer (vs. Buffalo), then you should consider starting one of them. I would lean towards starting Brady, though one of those two matchups is tempting.
Sit: The Running Backs
I feel bad for owners of Stevan Ridley. He has yet to score a touchdown this season despite being drafted in the second or third round in most leagues. It's far too early in the season to warrant starting Ridley, so you're best off keeping him on the bench until he proves he is worthy of a start. Until then, the Patriots' running back by committee is going to continue to burn your fantasy team. Ridley also missed practice on Wednesday with a knee injury, so keep an eye on that.
Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount are fun players to have on your roster as they have the potential for big weeks, but can they be trusted in your lineup? I don't think so. Bolden should get opportunities in the passing game against the Bengals, but they have solid coverage linebackers and the defensive line is amazing at snuffing out screens. On the other hand, Blount could be worth a start if Ridley misses the game. Until then, he can't be trusted either.
Sit: Danny Amendola
If you have other wide receivers on a bye week, then start Danny Amendola. But if you have your entire roster playing this week, sit him. Even if he plays there is a possibility he gets limited action on the field considering it'll be his first game back. Of course, if he is truly 100 percent healthy, then he is worth starting, but we don't know that yet. It's about trusting your players and you can't do that with him just yet.
Start: Julian Edelman
Even when Danny Amendola returns to full strength, I fully expect Edelman to be an effective fantasy player. Before the reason I had predicted him to have a big year (pending health), and so far I have been right. Against opposing number one receivers the Bengals have allowed a generous amount of points each week. Honestly, starting Edelman is a no brainer, so I expect another big week from him. Let's just hope he stays healthy.
Start: Kenbrell Thompkins
Thompkins' emergence has been remarkable to watch. After day one of training camp I expected him to be an early cut...and boy, was I wrong. He has improved his route running to the point that Tom Brady has said he reminds him of Chad Johnson --- the good one, not the Ochocinco we watched in 2011. Thompkins is a little hard to trust week-to-week, but with a banged up secondary, he should continue to put up production.
Start: Rob Gronkowski
The Bengals have had a hard time defending opposing tight ends, allowing 15.1 points to Jordan Cameron and 10.9 to Martellus Bennett. If Gronkowski is fortunate enough to play, your team should be rewarded with at least one touchdown. Considering the fact Gronk is waiting until he is 100 percent to play, it's unlikely that his snap count will be limited, so it is safe to start him. Keep in mind that you should have another tight end on your roster ready to start incase Gronk is named an inactive on game day.
Sit: Patriots DEF/ST
After Cincinnati was held to only six points against Cleveland last week, it's hard to imagine that such a productive offense will fall flat on their face two weeks in a row. Aqib Talib should shadow A.J. Green, with potential help from a safety over the top, but the Patriots are not very good at covering tight ends. Both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert could give the Patriots a lot of problems, especially in the red zone. It's also possible that rookie running back Giovani Bernard gives the team trouble in the pass game. Look on the free agent market for a more appealing matchup than this one.