These players don’t have to be benched. Each individual team is different and league context matters. The matchups are more difficult than usual and if possible, seeking a better start is recommended.
QB Philip Rivers @CLE
Rivers has shown he can overcome difficult situations and has played well, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come through on the road for an early start coming from the west coast, but many other quarterbacks are in better spots this week. The Browns defense has played well, especially against quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 335 yards in Week 1, but one touchdown in an overtime game. They held Drew Brees to 243 yards and two touchdowns. Derek Carr is the only one to have a QB1 performance against the Browns with 437 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Browns have allowed seven passing touchdowns in five games and are second in pass-defense DVOA.
RB Kenyan Drake vs. CHI
Drake isn’t getting the ball enough. For the third consecutive game, Drake didn’t receive double-digit carries, while Frank Gore had 12 carries and 11 the week before. Drake had six carries for 46 yards, but salvaged his day in the passing game with 11 targets, catching seven passes for 69 yards with a touchdown. The Bears have allowed the fewest Fantasy points to running backs. They haven’t allowed more than 57 rushing yards to running backs in a game and no rushing touchdowns. Running backs have 13 receptions for 89 yards with a touchdown against the Bears. The Dolphins are also running the second fewest plays per game with 52.
RB Adrian Peterson vs. CAR
Peterson is dealing with a shoulder injury and is expected to play. He’s game-script dependent, and the Panthers have been leading for most of their games this season. In four games, the Panthers have allowed 17, 25, 12 and 15 rushing attempts to running backs. Peterson can be taken out of a game quickly if the Redskins fall behind and it has happened twice in four games. His health is also a question.
WR Devin Funchess @WAS
The Panthers have a lot of weapons and are spreading the ball around. Greg Olsen could return, cutting into the targets of Funchess. Four Panthers had at least six targets last week. Funchess led the way with seven, catching four for 53 yards. Funchess provides a solid floor, but the ceiling has been limited, and the return of Olsen won’t help.
WR Kenny Stills vs. CHI
Stills opened the season with a bang, catching four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Since then, he hasn’t topped three receptions in a game, been held to 40 yards or fewer in three games and scored once. The Dolphins offense plays at the slowest pace in the NFL, and the ball is spread among the receivers. Stills hasn’t had more than six targets in a game. He’s capable of breaking a long play at any point, but the floor is low. The Bears allowed three touchdowns to wide receivers in Week 1 against the Packers and one over the next three games.
TE Greg Olsen @WAS
Olsen is scheduled to return from his foot injury, and with the tight end position being so putrid, many will get Olsen back in. The foot is still a concern, and he said surgery would be needed at the end of the season. When he returned from the injury last season, he played 33 percent of the snaps and had four targets. Some might not have better options, but if you have a tight end that has been producing, don’t bench him in favor of Olsen. Let him get through a full game first.