The NFL is a crazy league and you can't always trust the match-ups. However, other than a "gut feeling," the match-ups are the best indicator of success when determining who to start and who to sit each week.
At least, that's the story I'm sticking too after I swung and missed on a lot of my start-sit projections in this space (the two most egregious being to start Eli Manning and bench Antonio Brown). However, I stand by my logic in all of them, and am back with more advice this week.
With Week 4 comes the first of the NFL bye weeks. It's just two teams this week, but one if offensive juggernaut Green Bay and the other Carolina. In both cases, it means two of the quarterbacks drafted in the top 5 at their position aren't playing this week. Hopefully, if you drafted one of these quarterbacks knowing they had an early bye, you've got a back-up quarterback on your roster (and one you should drop as soon as week 4 is over, to add another RB or WR, as both Rodgers and Newton have proven quite durable and, let's be honest, if you invested a high pick in them, you shouldn't be benching them ever).
Here are a few second-tier quarterbacks I'd be comfortable rolling with this week if I were a Rodgers or Newton owner, as well as players at other positions I feel strongly about starting or benching. As a reminder with this start-sit column, you should never ever sit your studs (guys you drafted in the first 2-3 rounds) and, as I wrote above, you can't trust the match-ups. In other words, don't bench Doug Martin because he has a tough match-up (vs. Arizona) for Knowshon Moreno because he has a favorable one (vs. Philadelphia).
Start 'em if you got 'em
QB Ben Roethlisberger. It's been pretty ugly for the 0-3 Steelers so far this season, but three turnovers aside, Big Ben was looking a bit more comfortable on Sunday night. Like the Browns a week earlier, perhaps it's the Minnesota Vikings defense that could be the cure for what ails them.
QB Alex Smith. Everyone else has lit up the Giants secondary, why can't Smith, even with his reluctance to throw deep.
QB Jay Cutler. I've been impressed with Cutler so far under new coach Marc Trestman. He's not taking as many sacks or making as many mistakes. He also has a good match-up against Detroit.
RB Darren McFadden. He's still healthy? He's playing the Redskins? Start him and be thrilled.
RB Trent Richardson. In case you had any doubts, Ahmad Bradshaw is going to sit this one out with a neck injury, meaning the Colts get to showcase their shiny new toy in T-Rich against one of the NFL's worst teams.
RB Knowshon Moreno. Squeeze as much juice out of this orange as you can now. Moreno is still going to be the starter as long as Monte Ball keeps fumbling, and he has a nice match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles.
RB Bernard Pierce. He wasn't flashy last week, but even if Ray Rice plays (he's a game-time decision) Pierce will get a lot of carries facing a Buffalo Bills defense that gave up 149 yards to Bilal Powell last week, you have to get Pierce in your lineup as a flex option or RB2.
WR Dwayne Bowe. For the record, I can't stand Bowe as a fantasy player. By the end of the year, he'll have good numbers, but he's wildly inconsistent. Even without Alex Smith testing anyone deep, he should find Bowe at least 4 or 5 times this week against the Giants' porous secondary. Start Bowe, and if he has a good game, trade him before he puts up another 1 catch for 6 yards line in week 5.
WR Cecil Shorts. The NFL's leader in targets is getting a lot of his catches and yards in garbage time, but it still counts for fantasy purposes. Justin Blackmon returns next week to take away some of those targets.
WR Josh Gordon. Don't expect last week's output with a much tougher match-up against Cincinnati, but he's got elite talent and Brian Hoyer will look his way often again.
TE Heath Miller. The favorite target of Ben Roethlisberger a year ago, Miller shook the rust off last week and should get a lot of looks against a Vikings defense that has allowed six tight end touchdowns so far in this young season.
Take a seat, son
QB Ryan Tannehill. The second-year signal caller has been rock solid for the 3-0 Dolphins so far and has what, historically, looks like a friendly match-up against the Saints on Monday night. But Rob Ryan has the New Orleans defense playing much more stingy than year's past. If you were thinking of rolling with Tannehill, look for another option this week.
RB Ben Tate. He's been a more effective runner on a per-carry basis than Texans starter Arian Foster so far, but this is an absolutely brutal match-up against the Seahawks. Keep Foster in your line-up (remember, don't bench your studs) as he will likely get goal-line work, but scale back expectations for him.
RB Rashard Mendenhall. Still the starter in Arizona, but he's been ceding more carries to explosive Andre Ellington and even Alfonso Smith, and Tampa has been stingy against opposing RBs this year.
WR DeAndre Hopkins. Even if Andre Johnson plays and draws extra attention, the rookie will have a rough day against Seattle's top notch corners.
WR Mike Williams. New quarterback plus gimpy hamstring equals no thank you. His counterpart, Vincent Jackson, is banged up too, but he's much more talented.
TE Scott Chandler. He caught a long TD last week, and Baltimore's not had much success stopping TEs so far, but they've also played three above-average talents in Owen Daniels, Jordan Cameron and Orange Julius.
TE Rob Gronkowski. He's a game-time decision, unfortunately, it's the Sunday night game, meaning if he doesn't play, there are only a few other viable options. It's unlikely you have Tony Gonzales (the other TE in Sunday night's match-up) or Jimmy Graham (Monday night) if you've been waiting on Gronk, so unless you have Charles Clay of the Dolphins (also Monday night) you've got to go with someone else unless the rest of your team is so good you can afford a zero from your TE (and if that's the case, what are you doing reading a sit-start column?).
Take a flier
RB Bilal Powell. Proving to be an effective weapon for the Jets as a runner and a pass catcher; with Chris Ivory out, he won't have much competition for touches either.
RB Le'Veon Bell. Minnesota's tissue-paper defense and the Steelers' desire to find anyone who can run the ball competently mean he could be in line for a big workload.
WR T.Y. Hilton. Slowed by a sore groin last week, the Colts may test the Jaguars deep to build-up an early lead. He's too talented to be as unproductive as he has been so far.