Manning proves a giant option for fantasy picks

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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

This week is stacked with great matchups, including several division rivalry games. The environment of these games is sure to be electric and players will be looking to elevate their performances against hated foes. With plenty at stake Sunday, be aware of who will be a smart fantasy start:

Players to start:

1) Eli Manning, QB
New York Giants

Outside of an opening-day dud against the Cowboys and last week’s blowout of the 49ers, Manning has been a reliable fantasy player.  Expect him to air it out this week against a Redskins defense that makes every quarterback it faces look like a fantasy all-star. Considering he has been sacked the least number of times in the NFL, Manning should have plenty of time and plenty of opportunities Sunday against Washington.

2) Mark Sanchez, QB
New York Jets

Although the whispers for Tim Tebow to start continue to haunt Sanchez, he played an efficient game against the Colts last Sunday, albeit throwing for a laughable 82 yards. Still, he tossed two touchdowns and surrendered zero turnovers, which should give him some confidence heading into Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Since he is facing a defense that has allowed at least three touchdown passes in each of its last four games, Sanchez is a good sleeper pick this week.

3) Chris Johnson, RB
Tennessee Titans

Though Johnson’s disappointing season has devastated many fantasy owners, he has looked improved in two of the past three weeks and is seeing a larger workload with backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck under center. Johnson should be in store for a strong game against the Buffalo Bills, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Players to sit:

1) Russell Wilson, QB
Seattle Seahawks

Wilson had a huge game Sunday against the Patriots, throwing for 293 passing yards and three touchdowns in what was his best performance of the season. That being said, he was playing in the friendly confines of Qwest Field against an awful secondary. Don’t expect Wilson to duplicate this performance Thursday in San Francisco against a strong 49ers defense looking to rebound from a loss to the Giants.

2) Matthew Stafford, QB
Detroit Lions

Stafford is faced with a tough task this week, facing a Chicago defense that has allowed the least amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Considering the Bears are coming off their bye week and the game will be played in Chicago, their defense is sure to be well rested and prepared for the game. Pairing these conditions with the fact that Stafford’s only thrown four touchdowns in five games this year, it would be wise to avoid him this week.

3) Jermichael Finley, TE
Green Bay Packers

Finley was a non-factor in the Packers’ 42-24 blowout of the Texans on Sunday night due to a shoulder injury, playing only 24 snaps the entire game. Although he should be expected to play more this week versus the Rams, Finley’s lack of production cannot be blamed solely on his health; the former Longhorn hasn’t had more than four catches in a game or scored since a week-one loss to San Francisco.

Printed on Thursday, October 18, 2012 as: Manning due for a giant day against Redskins