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Fantasy Doc: Should I sit Rice vs. Pittsburgh?

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By The Fantasy Doctor

Now that the regular season is in full swing, the Fantasy Doctor will be making regular house calls, answering readers' fantasy questions each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Send your questions to the Doc at fantasydoctor@pfwmedia.com.

Doc,
I've just picked up Brian Westbrook. Should I bench one of my other starters and start him against Green Bay this week? My other RBs are Ray Rice (vs. PIT) and Danny Woodhead (vs. NYJ). It is not a PPR league. I usually wouldn't even consider benching Rice, but he's playing the Steelers. I figure that the Pats will have to pass underneath and Tom Brady will need to check down a lot against the Jets. This would work toward Woodhead's advantage. What do you think?  
 
— Dex, Whittier, Calif.


That's one of the tougher questions I've received all season, Dex. I see a lot of pros and cons with each guy this week, as I could see any one of them excelling or falling flat.

Based solely on matchups, Westbrook would appear to be the best option, as he faces a Packers defense that has been vulnerable on the ground. But Green Bay has given up only five rushing scores, and Mike Singletary said that he won't work Westbrook as hard as he did Monday night (23-136-1), instead splitting carries between the veteran and rookie Anthony Dixon. Until we know how this timeshare will play out, I'd be hesitant to recommend Westbrook.

I'm also not very high on Woodhead. The Jets have one of the league's best run defenses, and even though he also can be an effective receiving option, I don't envision him catching enough passes to make a huge difference. Plus, don't think the Jets won't focus on stopping a guy they cut a couple months back. He's not very appealing.

That leaves Rice, who has the toughest matchup of all with the Steelers. But while he isn't likely to pile up many rushing yards, he has been a prolific pass catcher in recent weeks, racking up 23 grabs for 253 yards in his past four outings. I'd look for him to be a popular target this Sunday and finish with nice yardage numbers.

Yo Doc-
I thought I was set at RB, but now I'm a little worried for the playoffs. Am I going to be able to rely on Ahmad Bradshaw down the stretch, or should I sit him in favor of Fred Jackson or Jahvid Best?
 
— T's Crew


It's funny how much things can change, T. While Bradshaw and Best looked like stars early on while Jackson did nothing, it's almost completely the opposite now.

Best basically has fallen off the fantasy radar. Bradshaw has lost his starting job to Brandon Jacobs. Jackson, meanwhile, has exploded recently. He has 462 yards from scrimmage and five TDs in his last three games and is getting to the point where he's almost impossible to bench. Even against the stout Steelers, he managed to have a monster game.

I could understand if you wanted to stick with Bradshaw this week, as he faces a Redskins defense that's allowing a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry. Even though he's not starting for New York, he should see enough carries to be a factor in this enticing matchup. Jackson, on the other hand, takes on a Minnesota team that has been tough against the run.

After that, however, it should be Jackson all the way. Not only does he have the hotter hand, he has the much better schedule the rest of the way. It's a good bet that he'll be a key component of many fantasy title teams.

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