By Jay Skurski
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is on the short list of MVP candidates through the first nine weeks of the season.
He should be a fantasy MVP Sunday, as well. Ryan travels to New Orleans for a 1 p.m. meeting with the Saints, who have given up an NFL-high average of 20.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (in standard scoring ESPN leagues).
Tom Brady and the Patriots also have a favorable matchup with the Bills, who have given up 19.5 fantasy points per game. The Titans, who have given up 19.3 points per game, visit the Dolphins. That makes rookie Ryan Tannehill an intriguing sleeper play if your quarterback is on the bye.
The toughest defenses against opposing QBs are Chicago (9.1), San Francisco (10.5) and Baltimore (11.0). I'd consider sitting Houston's Matt Schaub against the Bears, same with the Rams' Sam Bradford against the 49ers. Oakland's Carson Palmer faces the Ravens. He's had a strong fantasy season and can be used Sunday.
Against running backs, Buffalo (24.5) and New Orleans (24.0) flip-flopped the top spot, with Jacksonville (23.3) third.
The Patriots' Stevan Ridley and the Falcons' Michael Turner should be No. 1 backs this week. The Jaguars played Thursday night.
The toughest defenses on running backs belong to San Francisco (8.4), Chicago (9.3) and New England (10.9). The Rams' Steven Jackson can sit this week against the 49ers. Arian Foster is always in your lineup despite the tough matchup with the Bears. Regarding the Bills, I'd favor C.J. Spiller over Fred Jackson in New England.
The friendliest defenses for wide receivers are New Orleans (29.6), Washington (28.2) and Tampa Bay (27.4). Atlanta's duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones should have big days. The Redskins are on bye, while Tampa Bay hosts San Diego. Bump Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd up to a No. 1 receiver this week.
The toughest defenses for receivers are the Jets (13.3), 49ers (15.0) and Panthers (15.6). New York travels to Seattle. Any Seahawks receivers you may own can sit this week. Same for any Rams against the 49ers. The Panthers host the Broncos, who are so hot right now you don't want to take Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker out of your lineup.
The teams allowing the most points to tight ends are Tennessee (11.3), Washington (10.9) and Denver (10.4). I like Miami's Anthony Fasano this week against the Titans. Carolina's Greg Olsen also can be used this week.
The toughest defenses against tight ends are Indianapolis (3.8), Jacksonville (3.9) and Cleveland (4.6). The Browns are on their bye.