Dec 3, 2010
There are a lot of terrible games on the schedule this week, but it also means a lot of beatable matchups are out there to make things interesting as we get into fantasy crunch time.
New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals
Talk about two teams going in different directions. The Saints got off to a slow start, and took some time to right the ship, but it looks like they have done so as they get healthy and rolling down the stretch. The Bengals are just the opposite. Their secondary is banged up, they can’t stop the run, and the passing game is one of the most frustrating in the league. I know Reggie Bush is back, but that doesn’t mean Chris Ivory is going anywhere. He’s a nice play this week, especially with weather possibly being an issue. If you saw “Sound FX” on NFL Network last Saturday, they presented the Bengals/Jets Thanksgiving game, and Chad Ochocinco’s issues with route running were highlighted. We’ve been talking about that being a problem all season, but it was interesting to see the coaching staff’s reaction to it.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
It looks like we have to take the Bears seriously after what they did to the Eagles last week, and they should keep things rolling with Drew Stanton getting the start this week for the Lions. Who would have thought that an injury to Shaun Hill would so greatly affect the fantasy landscape? You need to adjust expectations when it comes to Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, which really stinks, especially if you’ve been relying on someone like Calvin as your #1 WR. The Bears have decided they are going to win games with their solid defense and a well-balanced, yet not explosive offense. My boy, Earl Bennett, has emerged as a legit #3 fantasy option and is making plays all over the field. You have to like the Bear WRs this week after what the Patriots did to the Lion secondary on Thanksgiving.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
Brian Westbrook becoming a viable fantasy starter in Week Thirteen is just another sign of how crazy this 2010 season has been. While I was able to grab him in the SXM Expert League, I’m not starting him this week because I don’t like this matchup and am very worried about his injury issues, like the ankle problem that’s kept him out of practice this week. Green Bay’s receiving corps outside of Greg Jennings has become a headache for fantasy purposes, but if I had to use a guy besides Jennings, it would be James Jones, who has never really given up the role he carved for himself when Donald Driver was out.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
He may not be in many fantasy lineups this week, but I am very intrigued by what Dexter McCluster can bring to the Chiefs. Having him and Jamaal Charles on the field at the same time is a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators since they are both dynamic players. With Denver’s defensive issues, I expect the Chief offense to continue rolling right along. While I’m not a big fan of Knowshon Moreno as a runner, the team has found a way to use him effectively as a receiver, and that’s saved his fantasy value.
Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins
Chad Henne looks to be making the most of his second chance as the team’s starter. Some believe his benching was a ploy to motivate Henne, and if that’s true, it’s working. Considering he only started 21 games before getting the hook, I feel he deserves this opportunity. He is a guy that can take advantage of a beatable matchup, like this one, but will need to avoid the dumb throws. At this point, there’s no real distinction between Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but the Dolphins must know how important a sustaining running game is to their success of their offense. On the other side of the ball, it’s all Peyton Hills all the time and that’s not going to change any time soon. Miami did a fantastic job against Darren McFadden last week, but Hillis is a whole other story.
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings
Steve Johnson will never live down what happened last week, but I think he can make up for it against this thin Viking secondary. He should be very active in this matchup, but I’m a little worried about Ryan Fitzpatrick staying upright against a Viking pass rush that’s looked much better as of late. Toby Gerhart will be in the mix whether Adrian Peterson plays or not, and should be a decent flex option against this terrible Buffalo run defense. However, he doesn’t strike me as a guy that will be reliable for fantasy unless the matchup is favorable.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants
The Giants took some time to get going last week against a very beatable Jaguar secondary, which was a little troublesome to see. It looks like both Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks are out again, but the Redskins have injuries of their own as LaRon Landry and Carlos Rogers will be missing from the secondary. The Giants will stick with Brandon Jacobs as the starter, but that’s more of a technicality since Ahmad Bradshaw is still a very big part of this offense. Jacobs was fine last week, but if he does struggle, you can be sure the Giants will limit his touches. After what Mike Shanahan did to us last week with the Redskin RBs, I’m staying far, far away from anything to do with their running game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
The frustration with Randy Moss has been well documented, but I’m willing to give him a pass for last week’s game because he had to deal with Rusty Smith. With Kerry Collins looking like the starter this week, I think Moss and Nate Washington are both viable #3 options against the Jaguar secondary. As a Chris Johnson owner, I’m trying to pretend last week never happened. Jacksonville has played better against the run, although that’s just a slight upgrade from “terrible” against the run. With Collins back there, there’s a legit threat to throw, which will help Johnson out greatly. Maurice Jones-Drew showed no signs of his abdomen injury last week, and is in the midst of a four-game streak of 100-yard rushing performances and should continue to be very active with WR Mike Sims-Walker out.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
Don’t count me among the conspiracy theorists who think Vincent Jackson faked his calf injury as part of a holdout. Wouldn’t it be in best interests to be on the field, playing with the MVP favorite, Philip Rivers, who is a big reason why Jackson has developed into one of the better WRs in the league? Even without Jackson, Rivers should keep rolling right along and he should be looking for revenge after the Charger special teams cost them the first matchup against the Raiders. Speaking of Oakland, their offense looks lost without the running game having any success over the last two weeks. Jacoby Ford intrigues me, but I’m avoiding him because I don’t trust Jason Campbell.
Oh, one more thing: Ryan Mathews is going to play against a Raider defense that’s allowed the 6th most FPG over the last four weeks. I’m just saying.
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
I’m driving the Ram bandwagon and there are still plenty of seats available. Sam Bradford is a legitimate fantasy starter this week and all of sudden has a pretty solid receiving corps. Danny Amendola has been money all season, especially in PPR, but with Danario Alexander back and looking good, we could see the Rams finally start to take some more shots downfield. The Cardinal defense, specifically their secondary, is absolutely awful and should be tested early and often by the Ram passing attack. Larry Fitzgerald is the only Cardinal I trust, but even he scares because it means I have to rely on Derek Anderson getting him the ball and we know how risky of a proposition that can be.
Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts
Some believed this was a Super Bowl preview, but it’s now turned into a matchup of mediocre teams. We know Dallas is out of the mix, but the Colts are looking amazingly average for the first time in a long time with Peyton Manning at QB. Their abysmal running game is finally coming back to bite them, although the return of Mike Hart should be helpful. Dallas should have beaten the Saints last week, but fantasy owners are still scratching their heads (or breaking things) over the disappearance of Dez Bryant. He’s too talented of a player to be a background player in this offense, especially if Jason Garrett is coaching to keep his job, so I expect to see the rookie back in the mix this week against a beatable Colt secondary.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
This might be the worst matchup of the week when it comes to fantasy options. Jonathan Stewart looked solid last week in his return from a concussion, but Mike Goodson will continue to play a prominent role both on the ground and in the passing game. Big Mike Williams looks like he’ll be out again, so Ben Obomanu looks like a nice option once again and is the only guy worth starting in this Seattle offense. This game going to be so bad to watch that “Big Game” Joe Dolan and I have been tabbed to call the action for FOX (Just kidding).
UPDATE: Williams practiced on Friday and is expected to play. Obomanu will still be in the mix, so he’s worth a shot if you want to ride his hot streak.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Michael Turner is absolutely rolling right now, which has to make owners feel better after his up-and-down performances early in the season caused many headaches. Tony Gonzalez is another Falcon who’s been frustrating with his inconsistent play, but he seems to be involved more and it helps that Matt Ryan has strung together a nice run of games since the team came off their bye. Mike Williams finally had a disappointing performance, but considering it didn’t come until Week Twelve of his rookie season, I am more than willing to give him a pass. The Bucs have struggled against good teams this season, and the Falcons are one of the best, so I expect that trend to continue
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Whatever you want to call Ben Roethlisberger’s foot injury, the fact is he has one. Apparently, it was aggravated in the 1st quarter of last week’s game and I don’t think it was a coincidence that we saw more of Hines Ward and a whole lot of Rashard Mendenhall. You can be sure the Ravens will be coming after Ben, especially with the issues his OL has had this season. Mike Wallace was quiet last week, but this is a Raven secondary that can be beat down the field so I expect the Steelers to take their shots with the second-year receiver. The Raven passing attack is efficient, but far from explosive. Joe Flacco doesn’t make many mistakes, but he could be forced into a few bad throws against this great Steeler pass rush, which should have DE Brett Keisel back in the mix. If you want to bench Anquan Boldin, I completely understand since he’s taken a backseat to Derrick Mason in recent weeks.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Tom Brady has struggled against Rex Ryan defenses in recent years, and I’m not sure things will change this week. The Jet starting CBs have been very good, but they’ve yet to find a reliable nickel corner, which makes me believe the Patriots will attack with Wes Welker out of the slot. The Patriot RBs have been frustrating, but I think this will be more of a Danny Woodhead-game than a BenJarvus Green-Ellis-game because of Woodhead’s ability to make plays in the passing game. Mark Sanchez looked fine against the Bengals last week, but he still makes a few too many mistakes for my liking, and good teams, like the Patriots, won’t let those go unpunished. New England is still a bit overrated in my eyes and destroying a bad Lion secondary didn’t change my opinion of them. The Jets are the better team when both are playing at their best, which is why I picked them to win this game.
If you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comments section and I’ll be sure to check in here a few times over the weekend to answer them. Thanks for reading and good luck in Week Thirteen!