The 6-3 Steelers face off against the 5-4 Oakland Raiders on Sunday in a game that could be critical for both teams' fortunes. Let's look at who you might start and who you might sit for your fantasy football teams, just in case this week is critical to your team's fortunes as well.
Ben Roethlisberger's game against the Patriots was just about the worst 387-yard performance since ever, but don't let that stop you from starting Big Ben, who still has a 97.1 QB rating this season. Still, this might not be his best game - Oakland has allowed fewer yards through the air than any team except New Orleans, and the Saints held Roethlisberger to 195 yards and no touchdowns three weeks ago. Nonetheless, standout cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is uncertain to suit up, so use Roethlisberger if you need him against a potentially depleted Raiders secondary. For the Raiders, you probably haven't thought much about Jason Campbell unless your league is especially deep, and his only really good game from a fantasy perspective was against a weak Seahawks defense. Despite the Steelers' secondary issues, don't start him.
Rashard Mendenhall doesn't get as many carries as you might like, but he's nearly always a good start, and this week should be no different, especially since the Raiders are good against the pass and not so hot (24th in the league in yards per game) against the rush. For Oakland, Darren McFadden is too good and too consistent not to start (when healthy, at least), but I wouldn't be thrilled about it against a very tough running defense. He usually picks up a few catches a game, which should even out your numbers a bit even if the Steelers manage to stop him from running.
The Steelers' Hines Ward should be back after suffering a concussion against the Patriots, but Mike Wallace had a huge game in his absence, and Emmanuel Sanders is emerging as a threat as well. Ward was well off his career numbers even before the Pats game. I'd be thrilled to start Wallace, and maybe not so much with Ward. For the Raiders, Louis Murphy should be back in the lineup after missing two games with a lung injury. You might remember his 128-yard performance against the Steelers last year. He might be a decent start against a struggling secondary. Darrius Heyward-Bey was out Thursday with a hamstring injury, so Murphy may be the Raiders' only established threat at wideout.
Everyone loves Heath Miller, who had five catches Sunday, but he's a very marginal start, unless you think the Patriots game showed that Roethlisberger finally remembered he was allowed to throw to Miller. The Raiders' Zach Miller (no relation), on the other hand, leads his team in receiving. Start him, obviously, unless his foot starts giving him trouble again. He's been limited in his participation in practice, but he should be ready to go.
No one really knows what the Steelers will get from new kicker Shaun Suisham, but hopefully it won't involve badly missing a 26-yard field goal and blaming it on the fans. Suisham performed pretty well for the Redskins last season, but this week, you can get more certainty from other kicking options. The Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski has five straight games with ten or more points and should be a start.
If you own the Steelers defense, you probably should start it, especially since the Raiders' relatively weak passing attack will probably help Pittsburgh get its struggles with the pass under control. But I wouldn't love it - this is a team that has allowed 350 passing yards last week (by Tom Brady) and 248 the week before (by Carson Palmer). Avoid the Raiders - Mendenhall and company should be in fine form.