Dec 24, 2010
Happy Holidays to all! Hopefully you have made it to your championship game and are looking for some last minute tips and thoughts to help you make those tough decisions. The blog will be a little condensed today since I still have a little shopping to get to, but I am going to stop wasting time and get to the games.
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
If you trusted Tim Hightower last week, you probably never will again. As I’ve said, Larry Fitzgerald will be fine because he’s the only player John Skelton should be targeting on a regular basis, especially against this shaky Cowboy secondary. Dallas’ offense has been running very efficiently and that’s because Jon Kitna does exactly what he’s asked and doesn’t make mistakes. He’s pretty much the anti-Tony Romo. The one issue I have with Dallas is the insistence in getting Marion Barber back in the mix. I know Jason Garrett said he will use all three backs, but we’ve seen how well this team has run the ball with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, so why mess with a good thing?
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
New England’s defense got a lot of well-deserved praise, but as we saw last week, they can still be picked apart by a good offense. I’m not saying the Bills are going to do that, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown he isn’t afraid to throw it and Buffalo did put up 30 points on the Patriots back in Week Three. He’s a decent reach option and I’m all about Big Stevie Johnson this week. I don’t feel great about Fred Jackson, but he could make some noise as a receiver. There’s nothing more that needs to be said about the Patriot offense. If you have a Patriot, start him.
New York Jets at Chicago Bears
I’ll admit I want to see Mark Brunell lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. It would probably set the career of Mark Sanchez back, but I’ve always liked watching the lefty play since he days with the Jaguars. That’s probably not going to happen, but I don’t think he’d be any worse than a weak-armed/injured Sanchez. The Jets finally got back to playing simple football last week, which I would expect to continue if with Sanchez playing hurt. Matt Forte would be someone I’m trying to avoid this week if at all possible because I don’t trust him when the matchup is tough. If I had to pick a Bear WR to trust, it would be Earl Bennett. This smells like a 16-13 game between two similar teams.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
There’s no way you can bench Peyton Hillis, but expectations need to be lowered for this matchup. A long season of his bruising running style has noticeably slowed him down and the Ravens will be looking to avenge the big numbers they gave up to Hillis back in Week Three. Ray Rice is finally the focal point of the Raven offense and looks like he can carry this offense with how well he’s playing. Joe Flacco has been as solid as they come, but they’ve made it a point to limit him and I would expect that to continue with Rice seeing an increased role.
Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars
How about that Rex Grossman?! He took advantage of a beatable matchup last week and has another one this week. I’ve never been much of a Santana Moss fan, but he’s shown me something this season by putting up solid numbers despite the inconsistent nature of this offense. Jacksonville showed they can’t do a whole lot if Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t carrying them and with MJD and Mike Sims-Walker continuing to play through their injuries, it’s going to be an uphill battle for them to get into the playoffs. Luckily, the Redskins are a very vulnerable defense and haven’t shown the ability to stop the run or pass on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, MJD is listed as doubtful, but I do like Rashad Jennings as a fine #2 RB this week.
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel struggled through the first half with a divot in his stomach (credit: Big Game Joe Dolan) last week, but recovered nicely in the 2nd half and got a great performance against a Ram team fighting to stay in the playoff hunt. Jamaal Charles proved once again why he can do a lot with a little, and he even got a compliment from Todd Haley. I expect Dwayne Bowe to bounce back this week as long as he doesn’t let Cortland Finnegan get to him. The only Titans worth using are Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt. If you rolled with Kerry Collins last week, I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted because he’s only someone to trust if the matchup is favorable. This one isn’t.
Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins
Shaun Hill looks like he’ll return this week, but is throwing with four fingers since his broken index finger still isn’t healed. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than Drew Stanton, but it is good news for Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew, neither of whom saw many targets with Stanton under center. Maurice Morris has done a nice job for the Lions as their lead back, but he’s nothing more than a low-end flex play this week going against a Dolphin run defense that’s been about as good as it gets in the last month. Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess are looking like solid options going against a very beatable Lion defense, but I’d avoid all other Dolphins if possible.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
So we’re back to Troy Smith why exactly? Because he beat the Rams the last time these teams played? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was Mike Singletary’s reasoning behind the switch. It really doesn’t do much to the value of any of their receivers since the 49ers don’t have even an average QB on the roster. Sam Bradford has hit the rookie wall, but I still think he can get this team into the playoffs, mostly because I don’t believe the Seahawks will win again. Steven Jackson has been solid all season long, but he’ll be challenged by an underrated Niner run defense, which tends to handle bigger backs well.
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bungals are back! Don’t go anywhere near these guys this week. I’m a Cedric Benson fan and even though Charger LB Stephen Cooper is out, this game will probably be all Chargers and that will limit how much the Bengals can run it. This franchise needs to be blown up. With Mal Floyd looking doubtful and Antonio Gates out, Vincent Jackson looks like a great option yet again. Mike Tolbert looks like the safest of the Chargers backs, but with such a good matchup and the chance for a blowout, I’d have no problem using Ryan Mathews either. What? I’m serious. Stop laughing. Also, Randy McMichael is a nice reach play if you need him.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos
I know Andre Johnson had more ankle soreness than usual this week, but that guy has been a warrior all season, so I fully expect him out there on Sunday, even if the game means nothing. Arian Foster seems to be over his pain in the ass, which is great news considering this matchup is fantastic. If you are starting Tim Tebow this week, it better because you are insanely desperate and the attractive matchup. Do not believe that a broken play for a 40-yard rushing TD and that unbelievably lucky TD pass to Brandon Lloyd shows that Tebow has promise. He’s terrible. He has no arm strength, can’t drive it, and looks like he’s learning the position on the fly. To put it in perspective, he was about as good as Joe Webb last week.
Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders
Don’t get too excited about Donald Brown. Yes, he had a great day on the ground against the Jaguars last week, but most of it came on two runs. Oakland’s run defense hasn’t been great, but I still don’t expect Brown to have a repeat performance, especially with Joseph Addai expected back. Speaking of Addai, I refuse to trust him after being out for so long. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush should have a field day against the Colts since they don’t have the size to compete with those guys.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
I’m glad to see Aaron Rodgers back for the Packers this week. Both of these teams deserve to go to the playoffs, but it looks like only one will make it. With Rodgers back, I’d have to like Green Bay’s chances. Greg Jennings should be a fine #1 option once again, but I’d avoid all Packer backs. The Giant offense could struggle a bit this week since I believe the Packers have one of the best defenses in the league, if not the best, when they are on their game. I still start Ahmad Bradshaw without hesitation, but as we saw last week Brandon Jacobs doesn’t fare to well when the matchup is tough.
Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While we know the Buccaneer run defense is beatable, I refuse to trust Marshawn Lynch during Championship Week. He’s been too inconsistent all season long and I wouldn’t want to be burned by him when it matters the most. Seattle’s Mike Williams is a solid reach play with Aqib Talib out for the Bucs, but that’s it for the Seahawks. If you’ve been rolling with Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount continue to do so with confidence as the Seahawks have a very soft and beatable defense. Josh Freeman could have another nice week as well.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
You shouldn’t need to be told that all Eagles are great starts this week. Minnesota is completely finished, and the Bears dismantling them last week confirmed that. Chicago could have scored 60 if they wanted. Joe Webb is a total train wreck at QB and Toby Gerhart showed he’s not even close to Adrian Peterson. If Peterson does play, you better hope he gets involved in the passing game because I don’t like his prospects running hurt against a real good Eagle run defense.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Outside of Giants/Packers, this is my favorite matchup of the week for obvious reasons. There’s been some trash talking this week by Roddy White and the defending Super Bowl champs weren’t too pleased about it. But hey, anything is better than throwing fake compliments back and forth all week like the Patriots do no matter who the opponent. I expect this to be a high-scoring affair, so all the usual starters for both teams are great plays. I’d stay away from the Saint backfield since they’ve shown nothing in recent weeks and could be without Chris Ivory yet again. I really like Saint rookie TE Jimmy Graham and it’s obvious the team does too. He’s gone from reach play to legit fantasy starter.
As always, leave your questions here and I’ll be answering them all the way up until game time on Sunday. Good luck this week, especially if it’s your championship and enjoy the holidays.