This week begins the two-month stretch of the season when a few teams have a bye each week. It mercifully begins with only Carolina and Green Bay but quickly escalates to four and then six teams per week. Owners with a solid bench should be able to take advantage of teams which are left scrambling to find a player to start. As my old coach used to say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Don’t get lazy in free agency and think you can pick up a useful player at noon on Sunday. Work the waiver wire and plan ahead to ensure that you have viable options.

San Francisco @ St. Louis
Thurs. Sept. 26

Thursday night football has been dreadful this year as teams coming off three days rest have proven sloppy and ill prepared. Perhaps the Thursday night chaos will be what the Niners need to get out of their funk after getting whipped by the Seahawks and Colts in consecutive weeks. Dallas RB DeMarco Murray gashed the Rams for almost 200 yards on the ground last week so perhaps this is the week that San Fran re-establishes their read option offense against a poor run defense. The Niners themselves were carved up by Lynch and then Bradshaw; however, the Rams have limited talent at the running back position. I expect Sam Bradford to try to win through the air. TE Vernon Davis is a game-time decision for San Francisco so be sure to monitor the situation.

Start: Bradford, Kaepernick, Gore, Austin, Givens, Cook
Sit: Richardson, Pead

Chicago @ Detroit
Sun. Sept. 29

Da Bears are 3-0 heading into Detroit for another important divisional match-up. It looks like Reggie Bush will be back in the starting lineup, but the Lions caught a tough break this week (literally) as WR Nate Burleson was involved in a car accident and broke his arm. Underperforming Ryan Broyles returned from injury last week and is poised to see an increase in playing time in this prolific passing offense facing a mediocre pass defense. For da Bears, QB Jay Cutler has averaged only 231 yards and 1 passing TD per game. Brandon Marshall is his number one target by far, but expect RBs on both teams to be heavily involved in the passing game.

Start: Stafford, Bush, Megatron, Bell, Forte, Marshall
Sit: Cutler, Jeffrey, Pettigrew

Dallas @ San Diego

Sun. Sept 29 4:25 p.m.

San Diego, which as everyone knows means whale’s vagina in German, might actually be good this year. They jumped out to a 21-point lead on Houston before losing on a last second field goal, beat the Eagles, and lost to the Titans on a last second touchdown pass. They are only a couple of plays away from a 3-0 start. Dallas, on the other hand, may be overrated. They hung on to beat a bad Giants team, lost to KC, and stuffed the Rams. Tony Romo is averaging 2 TDs per game, and they play well when their defense creates turnovers. If they do, it will hard for Philip Rivers to stay classy.

Start: Rivers, Gates, Royal, Romo, Bryant, Murray, Witten
Sit: Matthews, Woodhead, Austin

Miami @ New Orleans
Mon. Sept. 30

Finally, we have a good game on MNF when the 3-0 Dolphins meet the 3-0 Saints. The Saints defense has been much better than expected although they surely benefit from having played Tampa Bay and Arizona. Miami’s only offensive superstar is the boom-or-bust Mike Wallace at WR, but they are competent team across the board and have a tough defense of their own. Wallace is best used when he lines up against a team like the Saints without a shutdown corner. This team may not have any fantasy studs, but it’s full of players who can help you survive your bye week.

Start: Brees, Graham, Colston, Sproles, Wallace, Hartline, Clay, Miller
Sit: Thomas, Ingram