Well it is late in the season, late enough that one game will tell everything for teams on the verge of elimination. I decided to open up the cliche’ vault and give some reminders from former NFL coaches: “You play to win the game, hello?” and of course, “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs!”. Yes thank you Herm Edwards and Jim Mora, these 2 phrases which will stick with both of you for eternity are perfect fits for this week’s fantasy go-around.
First off fans and friends, you do, in fact, play to win the game, so even if your team can’t make the playoffs, it is essential from a good sport stand point to start your best possible line-up and try to play the spoiler role, but also there are teams out there who may need your win to help them advance. Second, yes it is the time to talk about playoffs! With many leagues ending this week or next, the next couple of weeks lie huge. Every point, every injury, more or less everything looms huge. It is fine to talk playoffs, and if you are in the thick of things, I wish you the best of luck. (In case some of you continue to wonder, I am 11-1 in our Camel Clutch League, just sayin’ )
So for some of you this may be the last article you will read this fantasy season, and I want to thank you for joining me through this season. For others we forge ahead, and continue to move forward. Where ever you fit in this realm, I wish you the best of luck! Here we go with Start/Sit, read, relax and enjoy!
Tony Romo, Cowboys at Cardinals: It is safe to say that Romo can bring some juice every week from here out. Last week he wasn’t sensational on Thanksgiving, but still had 2 TDs. This week it is Arizona, and one of the league’s worst pass defenses, and he may also get Miles Austin back. I really like Tony for 3 TDs this week, but that’s just me!
Matthew Stafford, Lions at Saints: Despite what the Saints defense did to the Giants last week, I am still going with Stafford. If anything the trends speak for themselves. In the last 4 weeks he has thrown for 3, 1, 5, 1 TDs and the 2 games where he threw for the 1 TD were against division foes, the 3 and 5 were non-division foes. So this is an odd number week against a non-division foe, you do the math.
Eli Manning, Giants vs Packers: This is not fear of the Packers defense, but rather the slumping of Eli. He has 7 TDs in the last week, 5 INTs, and is missing weapons on offense. His only sure-fire guy has been Victor Cruz, and it may be fit that he sees lots of Charles Woodson this week, and that is tough to beat. With Ahmad Bradshaw hurting, the run game has too, so defenses know they can tee off on Eli. The Giants season could be in serious trouble.
Philip Rivers, Chargers at Jaguars: I’m doing this for every Rivers owner out there who still can’t bring themselves to do sit him. 16 TDs and 17 INTs this season is not what you expect from a QB that many chose in the first 3 to 4 rounds. The Jaguars also are decent against the pass, so this enigma rages on.
Matt Ryan, Falcons at Texans: First off he is on the road, where the Falcons tend to struggle. Second, the Texans have the best defense in football by the numbers. Third, well this should be a ground game that brings your grandparents memories of football from the 1950’s. Houston has little to work with at QB, and Michael Turner and RB mates can go heads up with most running games in the league. Ryan may get some action, but if you have a better choice, use it this week.
Ray Rice, Ravens at Browns: Over the last 2 weeks, while facing 2 of the very best run defenses in the league, Ray still put up a decent 163 yards and 2 TDs, plus he is catching a lot more passes lately. The Browns have very little to offer as far as run defense, so Rice should be real busy, but also they have a decent downfield pass defense, so Ray can get more in the screen game. He is an excellent option this week.
LaGarrette Blount, Buccaneers vs Panthers: Where was this guy all season? Over the last 2 weeks Blount has become a human highlight reel, leaping over defenders, carrying 7 different Packers downfield, and even catching passes. His numbers: 210 yards, 1 TD and also 4 receptions over the last 2 weeks. The Panthers give up plenty to RBs so Blount can have another big week. Hey, even Donald Brown managed to go off on them, so feel good about Blount, and forget about his early season struggles.
Frank Gore, 49ers vs. Rams: Gore has been laboring through an injury over the last few weeks, but this may be the perfect medicine for his ailments. In 9 career games vs. the Rams, Gore has 11 TDs and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry in 9 games. The 49ers may look to take it easy on him knowing that they are set for the playoffs, but you can’t afford to not try and use Gore at this point.
Roy Helu, Redskins vs. Jets: Finally, Helu took over the starting spot that he deserved, and was sensational last week vs. the Seahawks. His reward this week is the tough Jets defense that ripped up C. J. Spiller and the Bills run game last week. Helu seems to have a better knack for the game than Spiller, and is fast with great cuts, and also has terrific hands. What is the knock here? With Shanahan, he is one fumble away from going away for an entire game. Yes, he can score, but he is so risky.
Willis McGahee, Broncos at Vikings: Although McGahee had a nice rushing day last week, he has been tough to count on. The 2 games prior he was unable to reach 20 rush yards, and also missed practice time this week with an undisclosed illness. The Vikings don’t have the amazing run defense of years past, but are still decent up front, so Tebow will need to do a bit more passing. McGahee also does not bring much to the TD portion where he has just 3 this season and 2 of them were in the same game.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers at Buccaneers: I have been reading all week from other “experts” how you should bank on Williams this week. Really? In the last 2 weeks, he has been better with 73 and 69 yards and scored 2 TDs last week, but this is still a time share, and also QB Cam Newton runs often too. I am having a real hard time believing in Williams, do you blame me?
Wide Receiver/ Tight End
Jimmy Graham, Saints vs. Lions: If last week taught us anything, it’s that Graham can do it all at anytime. One of the tops in receptions, Graham has become the best receiver on a team with some real good options. Over the last 3 weeks he has put up 18 rec., 244 yards and 3 TDs. Some may say it’s not the best match-up for him, but do you dare sit him at this point? Can anyone really be a tough match for this beast? Hey, here is the scoop, you play Jimmy Graham.
Jordy Nelson, Packers at Giants: Homework, research, studying and all that jazz sometimes goes right out the window. How many of us can say they drafted Nelson this past August? I’m sure not many, but his numbers have been huge lately. In the past 4 weeks we got 20 catches for 317 yards and a whopping 5 TDs from Nelson, and that makes it 9 TDs for the season. You want more numbers? Well at 6 foot 3 and 217 pounds, Nelson is very similar in size to Andre Johnson, who many consider the best physical receiver in the league. If you were smart enough at some point to grab him, stay smart and use him.
Brandon Marshall, Dolphins vs. Raiders: As I said long ago, just throw it his way, what’s the worst that can happen? Well in 3 of the last 4 weeks Marshall has been pretty good, and it has led to 21 catches for 312 yards with 2 TDs. He is a guy that any NFL team would need to try and force the ball too because he is a sensational play-maker. The Dolphins are learning, although it may be too late in the season. Never too late for fantasy though, ay friends? Go with Marshall.
Andre Johnson, Texans vs Falcons: Nothing looks good here no matter how much I love Johnson. He has a third-string rookie QB, and is still recovering from injury. Last week he had just 2 catches, and I don’t expect an explosion this week either.
Marques Colston, Saints vs Lions: This one is a heart-breaker being how I always have Colston on one of my rosters, but face facts, he is not getting enough. Losing TD chances to Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and a whole host of others is looking bad, and Colston has not seen the end zone since before his injury. He has become an afterthought in the Red Zone, and the Saints seem to be making him a possession receiver, which is fantasy death. Yes, he will get you catches, but as of now, not much else.
Laurent Robinson, Cowboys at Cardinals: Now,now, don’t just read the name and move on, read the entire story here. Robinson has been brilliant since taking over for the injured Miles Austin, and over the last 4 weeks has 6 TDs and 19 catches. He gets loads of targets and has built a nice teaming with QB Tony Romo. So what is the problem? Austin is expected to return, Dez Bryant seems to want more looks, and they still have Jason Witten, and seeing how the Cards struggle against the TEs he may be busy.
On another bad note, we are counting on the Cards to be able to stop the run in the first place. If Austin sits, you play him, if not you have to think long and hard about this choice.
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]