Fantasy playoffs are approaching and this week could very well be a make-or-break kinda matchup. But, as always, you can count on us to help you set your lineup each week.
There are no teams on Bye this week, but there are several injury and suspension issues out there (I’m looking at you Mike Williams—the Tampa Bay edition). So, stay tuned to everything all the way up until kickoff.
Start These Guys
Marques Colston—New Orleans Saints
The Saints were looking more and more like their old selves before the stupid Bye last week, and Colston has been one of the biggest benefactors. In the three games before the Bye, the Saints No. 1 receiver earned his stripes, grabbing 24 balls for 252 yards and 2 tuddies. Oh, and the Saints are playing the Seahawks, who give up the sixth most fantasy points to opposing WRs. And, to quote Phil Lasseigne, Drew is back to his EZ, Brees-y, Beautiful self.
Mark Sanchez—New York Jets
At the beginning of the year, I predicted Sanchez would throw 30 TD passes. He only has 12 so far, but that number should explode in Week 11, going against the Houston Texans defense. The Texans D has given up at least 201 yards every week and have allowed at least 2 pass TDs in every game but one. Sanchez will tear them apart with Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller (Jerricho Cotchery won’t play).
Mike Thomas—Jacksonville Jaguars
The Cleveland Browns give up 24.3 points per week to opposing WRs and normally, the Jaguars spread the ball around pretty well in the passing game. But, Mike Sims-Walker is doubtful for Sunday’s game, which should mean Thomas gets more targets. He had a big week last week, obviously a lot of that was based on luck with that last bomb, but still had a really good game prior to that play. He’s on a little hot streak and is a great pickup this week, especially in PPR formats.
This may be a weekly thing, whatever defense is going up against Carolina for the rest of the year, I’m picking to start. It didn’t work out so well with Tampa last week, but don’t you think the Baltimore defense is a little bit different? Especially because Jimmy Clausen won’t even play and some dude named Brian St. Pierre, who has 12 career passing yards, is starting at Q. The Ravens could very easily pitch a shut out and Ed Reed may very well return two picks for TDs.
Felix Jones—Dallas Cowboys
Just to be like Alex. No, but seriously, I agree wholeheartedly, Jones is a great play this week. He finally broke out with 19 points last week, thanks to that long screen pass, and the Cowboys showed some life. They had a balanced attack offensively and their defense didn’t give up a big lead early, so the ‘Boys didn’t have to pass the whole rest of the game. That and the Lions are a terrible, terrible run defense. Jones should break one for a score.
Sit These Dudes
Keiland Williams/Clinton Portis—Washington Redskins
Ryan Torain is out this week, so that’s good news for owners of either of these guys. And yes, Portis will play. But are either of these guys worth starting? No. Plain and simple. Because you just don’t know which one will get the touches or be a part of the game plan. Williams had a great game last week, but it was in garbage time. Don’t put too much stock in it. Portis may be back, but he also might not play more than half the game while still nursing his injuries. Stay away from both; there’s better options out there.
Darren McFadden—Oakland Raiders
Wow, what a rough week for three of the top fantasy RBs in the league huh? Arian Foster is going up against the NFL’s best D in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs, the Jets, and Adrian Peterson is facing the third best team in that category in the Green Bay Packers. But, you obviously can’t afford to sit either of those guys. You can, however, afford to sit McFadden, who is going up against the Steelers, a team that allows just 8.4 fantasy points to opposing RBs. If you have truly better options, don’t even touch McFadden.
Michael Turner—Atlanta Falcons
I’m really not a fan of this guy. He’s just way too inconsistent. In nine games, he has just four double digit fantasy games. And three of those other five games, he failed to even reach 5 fantasy points. How pathetic. Stay away from him at all costs. Trade him, do whatever. The Rams are a solid defense overall and Matt Ryan looks sharper than ever, so figure Turner to be obsolete yet again.
Troy Smith—San Francisco 49ers
Man, he has looked awesome in his two starts, but that will change this week. The Bucs are the sixth-best defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs (just 11.6 average) and they have 14 interceptions on the season. Smith may have a decent game, but don’t expect anything more than 13 points, a total the Bucs have only allowed twice on the season (one of which was to Drew Brees. And Troy Smith is definitely no Drew Brees). But, I actually think Smith will have a worse game than 13 points. Think more of the 8 range.
Michael Vick—Philadelphia Eagles
Nah, just kidding. You should never sit this guy. Never again. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even dream it. That was the best fantasy performance ever.
Mike Williams—Seattle Seahawks
You know by now that I love looking at stats of fantasy points allowed by opposing defense and using that heavily in my start/sit picks. So, I won’t disappoint. The Saints are by far the best team at limiting opposing WRs (allow just 8.1 points per game, 4.5 points better than the next closest team, the San Diego Chargers) and the Seahawks are a terrible road team. And Matt Hasselbeck is banged up and one simple hit on that left wrist could knock him out at any time. Williams may not have gotten a DUI, but he might as well have. He won’t be a fantasy factor.
Alex Reside’s Picks
Start these Guys
Felix Jones–Dallas Cowboys
Yeah, he’s a little banged up, but this week against the Lions, Jones should have no trouble finding the end zone. As terribly unreliable as he has been this season, last week he had 136 all-purpose yards with a TD against the Giants. The Lions are ranked last against the run and allow an average of 22.7 points per game to opposing RBs. Though the Cowboys like to lean on their passing game, I think they will be surprised at how successful Jones will be on Sunday.
Marques Colston–New Orleans Saints
Last year, Colston was locked into owners’ lineups week in and week out, but this year he has been sitting on my bench quite a bit. His production was extremely low at the beginning of the season. Up until Week 7, he averaged just 4 catches a game and only 48 yards a game. Since Week 7, he seems to have finally shook off that Super Bowl hangover and has now doubled his reception average and yard average. Plus 2 TDs in 3 games isn’t too bad either. This week against the 27th ranked Seahawks pass defense, Colston will be drinking Emergen-C in the end zone (my favorite hangover cure).
Mike Williams–Tampa Bay Buccaneers
From Marques Colston’s figurative hangover, we go to Mike Williams’ real hangover. Williams was arrested on suspicion of a DUI. I don’t really know if he did anything wrong. He submitted to a Breathalyzer test and was under the legal limit. And with a season like he’s having, he should be out partying in his black Escalade speeding and weaving in and out of traffic at 2:30 am. Williams will start against the 49ers despite the arrest. The 49ers are unremarkable at stopping the pass and Williams has been great all season
Dustin Keller–New York Jets
Keller’s stats have bounced around this season, but when the Jets are moving the ball well, he gets a lot of looks. It shouldn’t be a problem this week against the Texans defense, one of the worst teams against the TE this season.
They say defense wins championships. I don’t know if that is supposed to be a basketball quote or not, but as far as fantasy defenses go, the Packers could get you to your championship. The Packers are playing the rival Vikings this week, but the Vikings allow the second most fantasy points to opposing defenses. What’s a good defense against a good defense? Not having Brett Favre as your starting QB. Favre will feel the heat from Clay Matthews. Last time, he caved under the pressure and threw 3 picks, giving the Packers defense 12 fantasy points.
Sit these Dudes
Mike Goodson–Carolina Panthers
You might sit back in your fantasy football lair with newspaper clippings posted all over your walls, stacks of coffee cups, SportsCenter on an infinite loop and your fantasy football league refreshing every minute. You are searching for the perfect waiver wire pick up that can get your 4-6 team into the playoffs. All of a sudden you think, “Wait, DeAngelo Williams is out and Jonathan Stewart might be out too. I’m going to pick up Mike Goodson!” After all, he did have a 100-yard game against the Bucs last week. It seems like a good pickup right? Wrong. The fact is that DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are actually very talented RBs. The reason they have been unproductive this year? Their line is terrible and they have an equally bad passing game. The Panthers are the worst team in the NFL, statistically. They average a total of just 250 total yards (worst in the league). They also average ONLY 11 points a game (worst in the league). To make my argument even stronger, the Ravens are ranked 4th in the league against opposing RBs. Mike will not be a Goodstart.
Steve Smith–Carolina Panthers
There is nothing to like about former NFL powerhouse WR Steve Smith this week. He has been recovering from an injury all season, but now that he seems to be back to normal, his QBs aren’t. With Matt Moore on IR and Jimmy Clausen injured, Brian St. Pierre will start against the Ravens. Hell, sit the whole Panthers offense. This is going to be ugly.
Ryan Fitzpatrick–Buffalo Bills
He looked like a QB genius in Weeks 4 to Week 7, posting over 20 points in each of those games. He did graduate from Harvard, so he might actually be a genius, but if you want to be a genius too, you should sit the Fitz. He still has a lot of potential, but the cards are stacked against him. He has swelling in his hand, his team has just one win, one of his favorite targets (Roscoe Parrish) is out for the season and to top it all off, he will be playing the Bengals, who are ranked 4th against the pass. They allow an average of just 10 points a game to opposing QBs. It doesn’t take a Harvard grad to see that Fitzpatrick is a must-sit this week.
Donovan McNabb–Washington Redskins
You might look at his point total last week and say, “13 points isn’t too bad.” I don’t know if you are familiar with the term “garbage yards,” but it could be said that all of the yards in last week’s game were garbage yards. Mike Vick buried the ‘Skins early last Monday and McNabb was forced to pass himself out of a deep hole. The fact is, he looked sloppy and was rattled the whole game. His line couldn’t block a high school football defense from getting to him. McNabb threw very errant looking passes and was lucky to have only thrown 3 INTs. Good thing he just got a HUGE 5-year contract. Trust me, you will hear the ironic “5 more years” chant this week at LP field in Tennessee. Tennessee allows an average of just 12 fantasy points to opposing QBs and McNabb isn’t playing well enough to believe that he will be the exception.
Kellen Winslow–Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you haven’t noticed by now, ESPN projects every TE at 10-11 points. They are just covering their bases in case one of them gets a TD. Why would they project Winslow at 11 points this week against the 49ers defense that has allowed only 3 TDs to TEs this season? I don’t know, either. As Kanye West says in his new album “Fresh air, rollin’ down the windows. Too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your Wins low.” Though this line is more about 90s sitcom “Family Matters” than it is about Kellen Winslow, if you have Winslow in your lineup, then that’s probably why YOUR wins are low.
Scott Rogers’ Picks
Start These Guys
Brandon Jackson–Green Bay Packers
I really don’t like him as a player and I really don’t think that he should be started at any time other than right now. The Packers are playing the Vikings, who can’t get off the field on defense and struggle to stay on the field on offense. I think this will be a blowout and the Packers will have a ton of success running late against the disappointing Vikings defensive front.
Terrell Owens–Cincinnati Bengals
I really don’t think that he can continue to keep performing as he has been, though last week, he did struggle a bit. He’s playing the Bills though so you kind of have to play him.
New Orleans Saints Defense
I wrote in my weekly column that they are my waiver wire claim of the week. They are playing the Seahawks. They’re at home. This bird is cooked.
Knowshon Moreno–Denver Broncos
Last weekend, he exploded for 100 yards rushing and even more yards receiving. He also scored a TD, and against an unimpressive Chargers defense (I know they’re ranked high but I’m unimpressed watching them), I think he’ll stretch this out to a two-game hot streak.
Santonio Holmes–New York Jets
The Jets are playing the Texans. That’s all you need to know.
Sit Those Dudes
Peyton Hillis–Cleveland Browns
What happens when a rock of tight biceps meets a Jaguars defense that isn’t very good? Everyone thinks the biceps has a good game but for whatever reason the hot Jaguars shut him down. Browns will still win in Colt McCoy’s coming out party.
Steve Johnson–Buffalo Bills
One of the most consistent WRs in football this season is going to put back-to-back disappointing games together. The Bengals’ corners will smother him.
Matt Schaub–Houston Texans
He hasn’t been very good this year, but did put up a solid stat line last week. Then he was hospitalized this week with problems in his knee…and he just never puts good games back-to-back together…and yeah, don’t start him.
Michael Turner–Atlanta Falcons
The Rams at home are like a brick wall of pretty good run defense. Turner won’t be able to get it going and the Rams will shock the Falcons. But not me.
Tom Brady–New England Patriots
Alright, get over it folks, he always plays well against the Steelers. Against a beat-up Colts defense, I expect a heavy dose of “The Law Firm” BenJarvus Green-Ellis.