One of the toughest parts of being a fantasy football team owner is when a situation arises where you might have to start a player on a team that is a division or conference rival of your favorite club.
For most of this year, Giants fans have not had to deal with such a situation. Eli Manning has been a very good number two QB (and for some, a more than solid number one) and the combination of Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith had nine double-digit point games between them.
The injuries to Nicks and Smith have obviously rendered them as non-entities and their absence is also moving Eli from what would have a been a must start against the Jaguars to more of a risky start (he is currently ranked 21st on the TFS start-sit lists).
That might leave a number of Giants fans with a quandary that includes starting players from some NFC contenders, but there may be options available to some of them that won't require pulling against the G-Men's playoff chances. Here are two players who are currently on a large number of rosters to go along with a high-upside fantasy defense that is available in a significant percentage of ESPN leagues.
Malcom Floyd (owned in 94.4% of ESPN leagues)
The question as to whether or not to start Floyd is one that has come up repeatedly in the fantasy football chats I host on SportsNation every Friday at 4 p.m. The answer to that query is always the same -- don't even think of giving up on Floyd. He had fifteen or more points in three of his first five games (the contests before he was injured) and is coming back to a lineup that will include a well-rested Vincent Jackson (a wideout who should also be considered a must-start candidate). Antonio Gates will also very likely play, and having those two around would ensure single coverage for Floyd. Start him if you have him on your roster.
Brett Favre (owned in 73.1% of ESPN leagues)
It may sound crazy to start Favre, but hear this out before dismissing it. The Vikings are facing the Redskins this week. Washington is on pace to give up 6,578 yards this year, a total that would be the 2nd most in NFL history. Carlos Rogers, one of their starting cornerbacks, is listed as questionable and is likely to miss the game and LaRon Landry, their starting strong safety, has already been ruled out.
Minnesota also has Sidney Rice getting back into a groove and that will allow Percy Harvin to play more of the slot role he is so dominant in. Add in the possibility that Favre will be motivated to play a great game to show the memory of Brad Childress up and it equals a very high upside start possibility. And you'd get to pull for the team facing Washington, no less!
Cleveland defense (available in 44.3% of ESPN leagues)
The Browns are facing a Panthers offense that ranks dead last in the league in yards gained per game. Carolina is averaging only 11.7 points per game, another stat that is at the bottom of the statistical barrel. They have thrown the 2nd most interceptions in the NFL (16) and have allowed the fourth most sacks (30). You can't get a much higher percentage upside play than this.