Dec 10, 2010
Peyton Manning quieted the critics with his superb performance against the Titans on Thursday night, but we still have fifteen more games to go this week and we will look at those right now.
Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills
So Peyton Hillis finally had a disappointing performance against the Dolphins, but I full expect him to bounce back against the worst run defense in the league this week. I have trouble trusting Jake Delhomme, but with a very short list of reliable TEs, Ben Watson is a guy I’d have no problem rolling with this week, especially since he’s a favorite red-zone target of Delhomme. No one on the Bills performed well against the Vikings, and I’d be a little worried about Ryan Fitzpatrick going against this Buffalo defense, which gave Chad Henne some problems, although Steve Johnson should be able to make some plays against this improved, yet still beatable Cleveland secondary.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Although the Falcons are sitting with the league’s best record at 10-2, I’m not ready to throw a ton of praise at Matt Ryan just yet. While he’s played more consistently this season, he’s still a bit too uneven for me and it’s not like the Falcons have much outside Roddy White. Tony Gonzalez is not a key part of their offense, but continues to remain a weekly starter because the options are so thin at TE. Jonathan Stewart has looked in his two games back since his concussion, but with no threat of a passing game, I expect the Falcons to load the box against him, which will cause for a disappointing fantasy day.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
I know Michael Vick has made more highlight reel throws and plays this season, but I’d still take Aaron Rodgers over him. Rodgers is now four-deep at the WR position and Donald Driver’s performance in last week’s game has me trusting him once again. Message Board Hero, James Starks finally saw the field last week for the Packers and looks like he has a shot to be their main ball carrier going forward, although I’d expect Brandon Jackson to play an important role as a receiver out of the backfield. Drew Stanton wasn’t awful against the Bears last week, which was a good sign for Calvin Johnson, who continues to put up great numbers despite playing with three different QBs this year. Anyone who says that guy is overrated needs to explain what exactly they are looking for in a WR.
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars
These teams are very similar in that they have great rushing attacks and QBs that need to be hidden. I know Jacoby Ford has talent, but I have a tough time trusting him with Jason Campbell as his QB. That being said, the Jaguars have a secondary you can exploit, so if you wanted to use Ford as a reach this week, it’s understandable. For anyone who was frustrated by Maurice Jones-Drew at the beginning of the season, you better be expressing that much appreciation for a guy who is the only reliable offensive weapon on a 7-5 team. He’s #2 in the MVP race right now behind Tom Brady.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
I know Tarvaris Jackson threw a couple of TDs last week, but he was pretty awful otherwise and proved why the Vikings wanted to stick with Brett Favre. No matter who plays, Minnesota will be fully committed to running the ball, and as Adrian Peterson showed last week, he shouldn’t be an afterthought in this offense. The Giants look like they’ll have Hakeem Nicks AND Steve Smith back for this one, albeit not at 100%. They’ve managed to win despite the injuries that have hurt both their receiving corps and OL, which is just another example of how good Eli Manning really is. Ahmad Bradshaw proved last week that being listed first on the depth chart doesn’t mean very much. I do think the Giants are smart for sticking with the combination of Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, because the big man has shown a bit more fire since being promoted to starter and along with Bradshaw, has been a big reason for the Giants being able to stay afloat.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Whatever the Steelers want to say about Ben Roethlisberger’s foot injury really doesn’t matter because it was pretty obvious that he was off his game last week, missing throws by a wide margin too often for my liking. I know Mike Wallace didn’t go off, but looking at the bigger picture, I was encouraged to see him make plays in the short and intermediate areas since it showed his development as a receiver. The Bengals continue to look like the biggest disappointment in the league. Carson Palmer needs to realize that his skills have diminished to the point where he can’t take as many chances with tough throws because more often than not they’ve been inaccurate or getting there too late. For that reason, I’m beginning to understand some of the frustrations of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, although I believe Chad still does a bit too much freestyling with his routes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins
The Bucs put up a helluva fight last week against what may be the best team in the NFC, but they are still a work-in-progress. The loss of CB Aqib Talib is a big one, as he may be their best defensive player. While he was their INT leader, I still believe they’ll force some picks in this game with their pass rush looking better as of late and the Redskins continuing to struggle in pass protection. The Redskins remind me of the Titans in that they probably have enough talent to be in the hunt for a division title, but don’t have a lot when it comes to fantasy value. TE Chris Cooley is the only Redskins I’d feel good about starting, and that’s only because there’s not a whole of options at TE this week.
St. Louis Rams at New Orleans Saints
The Rams had a great matchup last week against the Cardinals, but they decided to run instead of passing it, which probably hurt a lot of people who rolled with Sam Bradford. Once again, it proves the point that you’re better off going with the guys that have been getting it done all season when it comes to fantasy crunch time. I’d expect Bradford to have to throw more this weekend facing a Saint team that should be able to put up some points with there passing game against a weak Ram secondary. I know Chris Ivory has looked good, but with Pierre Thomas back in the mix and a solid Ram run defense, I don’t think I’d feel great about using him this week.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
This is an ugly game for fantasy. Alex Smith takes the starting job back for the Niners, but it really doesn’t change the value of Michael Crabtree or Vernon Davis. Brian Westbrook was predictably disappointing last week against the Packers, but should be more productive against this Seattle defense, although the return of DT Colin Cole will help them. Marshawn Lynch’s 3 TDs mean absolutely nothing to me since it came against the worst team in football and he’s yet to put together back-to-back games this season. I’m not going anywhere near the Seahawks at such an important time of the year.
Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals
The Broncos finally cut ties with Hoodie Lite, Josh McDaniels and to that we say good riddance. With the Cardinals looking bad against the pass and even worse against the run, we’d expect interim HC Eric Studesville, who was the team’s RB Coach, to lean on Knowshon Moreno in the matchup after Moreno had one of his best games on the ground last week against the Chiefs. John Skelton will get the start for Arizona, and as much as we like his raw ability and great size, he’s nowhere near ready for this opportunity, which is bad news for Larry Fitzgerald, who we’ve anointed as the best player in the worst situation. Outside of Moreno and Brandon Lloyd, there aren’t any definitive starting fantasy options in this game.
New England Patriots at Chicago Bears
Weather and bad turf conditions will put a damper on this very intriguing matchup. Tom Brady is on fire right now, so even with the weather issues you have to play him, especially since he can still put up numbers dinking and dunking to Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead, both of whom should be able to find voids in Chicago’s Cover-2 scheme. Deion Branch’s numbers may look good, but if you seen the way he’s scored his TDs, they’ve come on busted coverage and missed tackles, which overrates his value in my mind. The Bear passing game has been condensed and it’s helped them win, but it’s killed any of Jay Cutler’s upside, which has also hurt the value of Johnny Knox. Earl Bennett continues to look like the most consistent option in this offense and should be active with weather looking like it will be an issue.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
It’s a battle of underachieving QBs in this AFC East showdown. Before the season, I said the AFC Playoff landscape would be determined by the play of Mark Sanchez. When he avoided mistakes, the Jets were winning games because of their solid defense and good rushing attack. They’ve put a little too much on his Sanchez’s shoulders in recent weeks and have gotten away from their ground and pound rushing attack. After the beatdown they took from the Patriots, I’d expect to see more of their RBs going forward, especially Shonn Greene, who’s looked very good in recent weeks. As much as I like Chad Henne and his skill set, his decision-making has been terrible and cost the Dolphins the game last week. Facing what should be a very angry Jet defense, I don’t feel very confident using any of their players this week.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Get ready for some Bro Croyle! He will start for the Chiefs this week with Matt Cassel sidelined by an appendectomy, and that means a whole lot of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. San Diego had no answer for Darren McFadden and Michael Bush last week, so I expect the Chiefs to come out running. The Chargers could have Vincent Jackson back for this game as he’s ahead of schedule in returning from his calf injury, and that’s huge with Malcom Floyd disappointing and Antonio Gates continuing to be a game-time decision.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Tashard Choice finally got some love from the coaching staff and didn’t disappoint. We and pretty much anyone who has seen Marion Barber play in the last two season have been calling for more opportunities to be given to Choice. Well Barber remains out with his calf injury, so Choice looks like a decent option once against since he’s been used as their short-yardage/goal-line back and the Eagle defense has been awful in red-zone. You don’t need to be told that the Eagle passing attack looks great and should do whatever the hell the please against this disappointing Cowboy secondary.
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans
Derrick Mason called the Raven offense out this week for looking like the “Bad News Bears” at times and he’s right. However, if you’re looking to right the ship, there’s no better matchup than facing the atrocious Texan defense. I would love to play any Raven offensive player this week, as they will be extra motivated after one of their veteran leaders called them out. For Houston, the only guys I’m fully trusting are Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, although Matt Schaub is probably a fine option against a Raven secondary that can be exploited even though no one has really tested them outside of the Falcons in recent weeks. I’ve been rolling with Joel Dreessen as a reach play at TE, but the return of Owen Daniels worries me a little too much to continue using that strategy.
As always, I will answer any questions you may have, so be sure to leave those in the comments sections. I leave you with this one piece of advice: When in doubt, go with the guys that brought you to the dance. It’s playoff time and you shouldn’t be taking any unnecessary risks. Thanks for reading and good luck in Week Fourteen.