- KC Joyner, NFL Insider
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Bye weeks eliminate eight starting wide receivers and four No. 3 receivers from the overall pool this week, which means owners must dig a bit deeper than usual to find players to start. Here are four players to start, four players to sit and two sleeper options:
Joe Horn, Falcons: Horn is set to face Texans right cornerback DeMarcus Faggins, who has been targeted at twice the rate of fellow starter Dunta Robinson. Add that to the Falcons' passing game finding its groove last week, and you have all the makings of a good game for Horn.
Derrick Mason, Ravens: Eric Wright, the Browns left cornerback, has been struggling all year, so much so that I have him rated as a D-level cornerback in coverage. Mason has been seeing the ball a lot more from Steve McNair. That makes him a very safe start in point-per-reception leagues and a solid start in yardage-only leagues.
Bernard Berrian, Bears: After the first two weeks of the season, the Lions secondary was looking slightly improved from that of 2006. That obviously proved to be a mirage, as the Eagles exposed Detroit's coverage weaknesses in just about every way imaginable. Berrian might be partnering up with a new quarterback in Brian Griese, but on his best days, he is one of the most dangerous vertical receivers in the NFL. Expect the Bears to test the Lions secondary deep, early and often.
Vincent Jackson, Chargers: Jackson is the type of fantasy receiver who can give you a goose egg or put up 10-15 points depending on his matchup. The Chiefs' Ty Law is Jackson's matchup this week. Law's glory days certainly are behind him (I have him rated as a C-plus), so Jackson has a very good chance of beating Law on at least one long route.
Chris Chambers, Dolphins: I know Chambers has been a good fantasy point-producer every week this year, but his matchup this week is against the Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha is playing just as well this year as he did in 2006 (I have him rated as an A-minus), so expect the Dolphins to stay away from this matchup.
Isaac Bruce, Rams: There are numerous reasons Bruce is a good sit candidate this week. The Rams offensive line has four injury-replacement players in its starting lineup and Marc Bulger has two broken ribs. St. Louis now is turning to its running game to protect Bulger. Bruce also sustained a head injury last week and missed most of the game against Tampa Bay. In addition, his matchup this week is Terence Newman, the best cornerback in the Cowboys secondary. Those are too many negatives to risk putting Bruce in your starting lineup.
Deion Branch/Nate Burleson, Seahawks: I have both Branch and Burleson listed because they have equally tough matchups. Branch is due to face Walt Harris and Burleson is due to face Nate Clements. I would expect the Seahawks to find a way to get one of these in a favorable matchup against one of the other cornerbacks in the 49ers secondary. Even if that happens, the odds still are good that only one of them will have a good game, so start either of these two at your own risk.
Patrick Crayton, Cowboys: Crayton is due to face the Rams' Lenny Walls. I have Walls rated as one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL (he has the dreaded F grade), so Crayton has a chance to post excellent numbers. If you need a long-shot pick with upside, he's your guy this week.
Arnaz Battle, 49ers: Battle should be a great sleeper in point-per-reception leagues. The Seahawks have plenty of coverage issues in their secondary, and Battle is one of the highest-percentage possession receivers in the league. Expect about five-six catches and 60-80 yards from him Sunday.
2dKevin Van Valkenburg