Dec 17, 2010
Congrats to those of you still alive and congrats to those of you who started Vincent Jackson and/or Philip Rivers against the bad 49er secondary. A good start helps, but we still have 15 more games to go and plenty of tough decisions to make.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
I’m no Donovan McNabb fan, but Rex Grossman is not the answer. My crazy theory is that Mike Shanahan realized he made a giant mistake taking this job and is now openly trying to get fired. The move pretty much takes any Redskin off the table for fantasy purposes outside of Chris Cooley and maybe Ryan Torain. I’d be thrilled to have Miles Austin in my lineup going against that very beatable Redskin secondary and could live with Jon Kitna as my QB this weekend. The Cowboy defense should be a nice reach play as well.
New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens
To borrow a phrase from Greg Cosell, “This is an intriguing matchup.” Baltimore’s offense is about as Jekyll-and-Hydish as it gets with last week’s game against the Texans being a perfect example. In the 1st half, they took advantage of all the mistakes Houston made, but in the 2nd half, you would have thought they were playing the ’85 Bears. You can’t win like that against a Saint team that is playing some really good ball right now, especially their passing attack. For as frustrating as the Saints can be with so many weapons, Marques Colston continues to be extremely active and is on his way to a career season. There’s a lot of issues with top WRs right now, but he’s about as safe as it gets. I’m still not trusting the Saint backfield for fantasy purposes. Too much sharing and not enough production for any one guy is bad news, especially in the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
We’ve been high on Rashad Jennings since he came out of Liberty last year, but thought of him more as a handcuff than anything else since Maurice Jones-Drew has been one of the few backs that doesn’t share the ball with anyone else. MJD’s been dealing with a knee injury all season and also had the abdomen problem a few weeks back, which appears to be what opened the door for Jennings. Jones-Drew is still rolling right along with six straight 100-yard games, but Jennings has proven to be a reliable backup option and is perfect to use when Jones-Drew needs a breather. You can bet we’ll seeing a lot of the Jaguar running game against the porous Colt run defense. If you’ve been waiting for Pierre Garcon to “get it” the wait appears to be over. Last week, he looked like the #2 WR we’ve been waiting to see all season and I love him this week against a Jaguar secondary that’s played better, but is still exploitable.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
There’s no reason to spend a lot of time on this awful game. Jonathan Stewart and Tim Hightower will both get plenty of carries and be effective, although Stewart is obviously the better player. That’s the only two guys I’d think about playing besides Larry Fitzgerald, who should be a fine #2 WR once again as the only trustworthy fantasy receiver in Arizona’s offense with John Skelton under center. Don’t expect to see this one on the Redzone Channel.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Here’s another game with minimal fantasy impact. Neither QB is worth a look and that has to lower the value of guys like Stevie Johnson and Brandon Marshall, both of whom I’d use as #3 options. Fred Jackson is probably the safest start, but Miami’s run defense has been great over the last month, so proceed with caution. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown have become virtually the same guy, which makes them both reach options against this terrible Bill run defense. This is another I’m avoiding at all costs.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Let’s get all of these terrible games out of the way. It doesn’t matter who plays QB for the Browns because we know it’s all about Peyton Hillis, who should have another fine week as long as he can hang on to the ball, which has been an issue because of his physical, contact-inducing running style. Hillis is actually the only player in this game I’d start without hesitation since the Bengal offense just scares me too much. Both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens have a chance to produce against a beatable Brown secondary, but then you’re putting trust in Carson Palmer. That’s a very risky proposition, especially this late in the season.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
The winner of this game is definitely going to the playoffs, although I do feel both teams could end up there now that Matt Flynn is the starting QB in Green Bay. The Giants did give Michael Vick his first true test of the season when they played a few weeks ago and at times we’ve seen him taken out of his comfort zone, yet he always manages to put up big numbers. The Giants need to blitz Vick and blitz him often. The Giant rushing attack has carried this team in the last month, but getting Hakeem Nicks back and healthy is huge, although the loss of Steve Smith is a killer. Because the Eagles have a healthier offense, I’m picking them to win this one.
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Calvin Johnson is the only Lion I’d consider playing this week, so let’s move on to the Buccaneers. Josh Freeman has been a very safe player this year without much upside since the team doesn’t throw very often, but I think that changes this week. Detroit doesn’t have the personnel to stop Mike Williams, so I think his slump ends. Arrelious Benn stepped up with Williams and Kellen Winslow getting more attention in recent weeks, but he’s still the #3 option in this offense. I was encouraged to see his performance last week, but am not ready to give him serious fantasy consideration until next season.
Kansas City Chiefs at St. Louis Rams
This is a statement game for the Rams, as they can seize control of the NFC West with a win. As we’ve said all season, the Chiefs defense is improved but can be beaten if you execute. Sam Bradford is a much better player at home and does have a lot of weapons at his disposal. Whether or not Matt Cassel plays is obviously a big deal, especially since the Rams have an underrated run defense. Jamaal Charles should continue his fantastic season no matter what, but Thomas Jones isn’t as much of a lock since his role depends on the flow of the game.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
Kenny Britt didn’t have a memorable game against the Colts last week by the numbers, but he looked poised to break out and stood out from the rest. There comes a point where numbers need to be thrown out the window, and I’m at that point with Britt. He’s had just the one big game this season, but he has the ability to dominate and having a matchup against the vulnerable Texan secondary is the perfect time to show just how awesome he can be. We could see some big points on the board since both defenses are very beatable. Houston showed in the 2nd half of last week’s loss to the Ravens that their passing attack can be explosive and having Owen Daniels back at close to top form helps. I’m very interested to see if we get a showdown between the RBs, who both looked great in Week Fourteen.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
If Tim Tebow starts, you can stick a form in the Broncos before this game even begins. He does not have the skills to be a starting QB in this league and that will be exploited if the Broncos ask him to do anything but hand it off to Knowshon Moreno. If you’re a Brandon Lloyd owner, I feel terribly for you. The Raiders should get their running game going early and often against this porous Bronco run defense, so Darren McFadden is a great start and Michael Bush looks like a nice flex option. I’m not ready to trust Zach Miller as a weekly starter once again, but last week was a step in the right direction.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks
With it being such an important time in the fantasy season, I don’t like trusting mediocre players on bad offenses. That’s why I’d avoid all Seahawks if at all possible. Michael Williams and Ben Obomanu are expected back this week, but they are only reach plays and that’s because Seattle should have to throw to hang with the Falcons. Seattle is a team I love having my guys go up against because their defense is so soft and very beatable. That’s great news for the Atlanta offense, so start all the usual guys with confidence and I even like their defense as a nice matchup play.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers
This just in: Mark Sanchez stinks. He’s playing with zero confidence right now and is getting no help from his WRs. I believe the Jets got a little too excited after seeing Sanchez play well for a stretch earlier in the season and gave him a little too much responsibility, which he predictably couldn’t handle. The Jets got away from their bread and butter, which was the ground-and-pound rushing attack, but if they want to get back on track Shonn Greene needs to be involved more. Pittsburgh’s offense looks completely lost right now and Ben Roethlisberger’s is obviously not right. However, I think you can throw everything out the window if the weather is poor, especially on that terrible Heinz Field playing surface. It’s not a game you should expect a lot out for fantasy purposes, which is a shame with guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, and Santonio Holmes playing big roles in fantasy this season.
Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots
The Packers have gone to my preseason Super Bowl pick to being in danger of missing the playoffs. The loss of Aaron Rodgers is arguably the most crushing injury of the fantasy season, which ironically is right up there with the losses of his teammates Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley. Matt Flynn destroys the value of any Packer offensive player to the point that I’d only start Greg Jennings, and even his expectations need to be lowered. New England is absolutely rolling right now and the snow doesn’t matter to them. In fact, they’ve said in the past that the snow is great weather for them to throw in because defenders struggle to back pedal in it. You continue starting all Patriots with confidence and if I had to pick a TE from this team it would be Rob Gronkowski.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
The Bears catch yet another break as it looks like QB turned WR turned back to QB Joe Webb will start for the Vikings. Also, Adrian Peterson hasn’t practiced at all this week because of knee and ankle issues, which is about the worst news you can get considering he’s playing on what should be a frozen surface at TCF Bank Stadium. If Peterson plays, he’s the only Viking I’d consider using. The weather could be an issue, and as we saw last week, the Bear offense doesn’t function well in bad conditions. That makes all the Bear offensive players shaky starts. What a terrible way to finish the week.
I’ll be sure to check back here often to answer your questions, so leave them here if you have any. Good luck to everyone still alive!