Dec 31, 2010
If you are playing your championship this week, I would have to call you crazy. However, I am still here to help you get through these crazy times. Without further ado, it is time to look at the final regular season games.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
The loss to the Saints on Monday Night Football means this game actually means something to the Falcons and that’s good news for any one who owns their big-name players. Michael Turner had a big game the last time these two teams played and I’d expect more of the same in this one. Matt Ryan is worthy of a starting spot in your lineup, but I wouldn’t let your expectations get too high since I don’t think he’ll have to do too much in this one. As usual, Jonathan Stewart is the only one worth even considering for the Panthers, who might cut their entire offense as soon as this game is over.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
The Patriots will apparently start their usual guys, but the question is more about how much they’ll play. I’d steer clear of their RBs since they have about 293 they could use and I’d be fine with Tom Brady if you think he can put up decent numbers in a short period of time, which he can. I want nothing to do with the Dolphin backfield if I can avoid them and would be fine rolling with Brandon Marshall and probably Davone Bess. Chad Henne is a decent reach play this week since he should be throwing a lot and could be facing backups by the 2nd half.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Where the hell did that Viking defense come from last week? You can roll with them if needed against the immobile Shaun Hill this week, but I’d be a little worried that they played up to their competition on national TV last week and won’t do the same against the Lions. Joe Webb did enough for me to feel fine about Percy Harvin and maybe even Sidney Rice (if he can pass his concussion tests) against this horrid Lion secondary. The safest Lion to start this week is Brandon Pettigrew, whose fantastic season has flown way under the radar. We talk about how well Calvin Johnson has done with so many different QBs, but how about Pettigrew’s fine season coming back from a torn ACL and having to catch passes from three different QBs?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
This could be the most exciting game of the day on paper with both teams playing for something. Unfortunately, Tampa’s injuries might catch up with them against a talented offense like the Saints, who can pick you apart with their variety of offensive weapons. Jimmy Graham will be a top 10 fantasy TE next season and still not many people know about him. Sam Bradford will probably win the Offensive Rookie of the Year because he’s a QB, but my vote would go to Buccaneer WR Mike Williams, who’s had a great year in a very young offense as the team’s primary receiving threat. I think we’ll know just how good of a day LeGarrette Blount’s going to have by how he runs in the first few series’.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are another team with very little to play for, yet they remain steadfast in staying they’ll play their starters. I think Todd Haley’s full of it, so you’re better off playing it safe if you own any Chiefs. Dwayne Bowe avoided Nnamdi Asomugha when these teams met earlier this season, but won’t be so lucky this time around. Jamaal Charles has a chance to win the rushing title, but we’ll see how important that is to the team based on how many carries he gets. Darren McFadden and Zach Miller are the only Raiders worth using, but you probably already knew that.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Mark Sanchez won’t play past the 1st quarter and you can take that to the bank. In fact, I don’t think we’ll see many of the Jet starters for very long in this one, especially when all I’ve heard about is how Joe McKnight will be getting a lot of playing time. That’s the guy who’s holding the roster spot that should still belong to Danny Woodhead (Click here for my thoughts on that decision). If Ryan Fitzpatrick can’t play, I’d severely downgrade Big Stevie Johnson.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Peyton Hillis predictably struggled last week and things aren’t looking much better against a Steeler team trying to lock up a first-round bye. I’d stay away from Hillis if that’s possible, and I realize it probably isn’t. The Steeler offense should do whatever they please against this shaky Brown defense. Rashard Mendenhall has another fantastic matchup, but we saw how the Steelers used him in a similar situation last week. I’ve been a big Mike Wallace fan all year and would love to get Emmanuel Sanders in 2011. He’s taken over Hines Ward’s spot as one of Large Ben’s favorite receivers.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
The Raven defense has finally become relevant for fantasy purposes and it should come as no surprise that it started when they ramped up their blitzing. I do believe this team can be a legit Super Bowl contender, but they have to find some consistency on offense. I only trust Ray Rice for fantasy purposes with the passing attack being scaled back in recent weeks. Cincy continues the evaluation period, but it won’t go as well as last week since they’re facing a Raven team that still has a shot at a first-round bye.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
The Jags will be without David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Sims-Walker is playing on a bum ankle. Rashad Jennings got no help from his OL last week and never got enough carries to get going. They’ll have no choice but to feed him this week, unless they want to rely on the arm of Trent Edwards. Not bloody likely. Let’s hope Andre Johnson is out there after not practicing all week. If he isn’t, Jacoby Jones could be a nice reach play against a beatable Jaguar secondary. Arian Foster is looking to lock down the rushing title and with nothing else to play for, I’d expect the Texans will give him plenty of carries.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
The epic return of Kevin Kolb comes in what might be his final starting appearance for the Eagles. Philly is locked into the #3 seed and based on Andy Reid’s history, this will be a preseason game for the Eagles. Jason Avant becomes a legit fantasy starter because of that, especially against the terrible Cowboy secondary. Dallas looks to be going with Stephen McGee, which is obviously bad news for Jason Witten and Miles Austin. Marion Barber is back and has killed Tashard Choice’s fantasy value. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep all three backs for next season.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
I really wanted to see the Chargers in the playoffs until the disgrace of a performance they put on last weekend. They are easily the most frustrating team in the league. With Mike Tolbert out, our old friend Ryan Mathews gets a crack at being the lead back, and what better chance will he have than against the atrocious Bronco run defense? Hopefully the rookie can finish the season on a high note and build a little momentum heading into 2011. If I’m supposed to be impressed by Tim Tebow’s performance against the worst defense of all time, I’m not. If the Chargers have any pride, they’ll keep Tebow from giving the Bronco fans any hope for 2011.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
The Giants are another team I wanted to see make the playoffs because they are one of the top teams in the league when they’re at their best. Unfortunately, they’ve been nowhere near their best for the last month and will probably be watching the postseason from their homes. What a pathetic finish to the season for that entire team. Rex Grossman proved last week why he’s been a backup for the last two seasons, yet I still think he’s playing better than Donovan McNabb. I have to give props to Santana Moss for having one of his best seasons as part of one of the most inconsistent offenses in the league. He’s been one of the safest fantasy starters all season long.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Can we skip this game? No? Okay here goes. John Skelton has shown some good things, but needs a year as the backup behind and experienced vet, who can mentor him along the way. That’s not Donovan McNabb, but could be someone like Kerry Collins or my personal favorite, Chad Pennington. Skelton needs to find Larry Fitzgerald in this game and he should be able to against the very beatable Niner secondary. Andre Roberts seems to be in the Cardinals’ plans for 2011, which means Steve Breaston, who’s in a contract year, might not be. Alex Smith is back at QB, which means they go from one bad Smith to another. Let’s hope he can keep Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis involved.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have a win-and-they’re-in situation against a team who may be undergoing some major changes in the off-season. Sounds like a big game for Peyton Manning and the Colt offense. Joseph Addai should see his role increase, although I’d expect Dominic Rhodes to stay involved while Donald Brown enjoys most of the game from the bench. Let’s hope the Titans can keep this close or at least get Chris Johnson involved in the passing game, as they did the last time these two teams played.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
I seem to be the only one who doesn’t believe Lovie Smith will play his starters just because he’s saying they are playing to win. The Falcons will beat the Panthers in the early game, which means the Bears will have nothing to play for in this game. Lovie was in this situation a few years back, and he benched his starters once they had the #2 seed locked up. They ended up in the Super Bowl that year. I have no inside information on this situation, but I tend to not trust coaches. What that means is good news for the Packers, who I would have picked to win this game no matter what. They are rolling right now and would be a very dangerous team in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers not making the Pro Bowl over Matt Ryan is a travesty, well if the Pro Bowl actually mattered.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
I might be in the minority here, but this game fires me up. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I like this Ram team and the direction they are going in for the future. When their offense is clicking, it’s an absolute joy to watch and I’m glad they’re getting the national stage for the biggest game of their season. On the flipside, Seattle may be one of the worst teams to watch with no real stars among their skill players. Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t help either. The 12th Man should be loud and proud, but that doesn’t make their defense any less soft.
I’ll be checking in here all the way up until Sunday’s kickoffs, so post your questions down below. Thanks to all who’ve been reading and hopefully enjoying this blog each week. I’ll be continuing it through the playoffs and adding my predictions. Good luck this weekend and Happy New Year!