Welcome to your first edition of Weekend Walkthrough where we decipher difficult matchups and prepare for fantasy football success in Week 14.
Matthew Stafford vs. Colin Kaepernick
Stafford takes on the Green Bay Packers in what could potentially be the recreation of the Ice Bowl, while Kaepernick leads his team against the Miami Dolphins. Green Bay has traditionally had Stafford’s number, forcing him into 12 turnovers in four career matchups. The major concerns for Stafford are the weather and the status of his receivers. I think that the success that Kaepernick will find on the ground makes him the slightly better option.
Chris Givens vs. Michael Crabtree
Injuries to their complimentary receivers make this an interesting scenario. This is in all likelihood a discussion about a WR3 spot which Givens has produced for quite well. In games without Danny Amendola, Givens has never netted less than 60 yards which includes a 14 target, 11 reception game last weekend. Crabtree was no slacker last week either, but I believe Givens is the safer bet to produce the numbers that you need from you WR3.
Hakeem Nicks vs. Donnie Avery
This should be the week that fantasy owners have been waiting for from Hakeem Nicks. Nicks and the New York Giants face the New Orleans Saints who are the least effective team in the NFL at defending opposing #1 receivers. His knee is still keeping him from playing at full strength, but this is a matchup that cannot be ignored.
Frank Gore vs. Steven Jackson vs. Darren Sproles
The injury to Chris Ivory is a more significant factor for the production of Pierre Thomas than Sproles. Although Sproles is one-of-a-kind catching balls out of the backfield, the Giants are third best in the league at limiting opposing running backs through the air. The matchup for Jackson is an unkind one as well. Having to travel from the comfort of their dome to the freezing conditions of upstate New York is difficult enough. Also consider that the Buffalo Bills are the #1 run defense in the league over the past three weeks allowing just 7.7 points per game to opposing running backs. Gore is the play here running behind what is easily the NFL’s best run-blocking line. He is averaging 5.8 yards per carry at home, and the San Francisco 49ers will be looking to run the Dolphins into submission.
Pick Four: Reggie Wayne, Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Josh Gordon, Denario Alexander
There are a lot of intriguing options here. First off, I would choose Wayne of Hilton despite recent trends and Hilton’s explosiveness on punt returns. The Tennessee Titans are 31st against opposing #1 receivers but 5th against opposing #2’s. This should result well for Wayne. Second, I think Alexander has finally stayed healthy for long enough to show that he is one of the most talented receivers in the league and a must-start fantasy player. I refer to this as the “Denario scenario”. Despite the fact that a deteriorated offensive line should have Philip Rivers under pressure all afternoon, the injury to Ike Taylor means that Alexander will have friendlier coverage. Finally, I think Josh Gordon is an immense talent and even though he goes up against equally talented Brandon Flowers today, he should start in your flex. While we’re on the topic of immense talent, it’s hard not to mention Julio Jones, get him active as well today.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Miles Austin
These are two guys that figure to be lesser options in their respective team’s passing attacks today. As I previously mentioned, I see Wayne being on the receiving end of the majority of the Indianapolis Colts throws today. A puzzling situation regarding the Dallas Cowboys makes Austin a risky play as well. The Cowboys have had a tendency to run the ball with a much higher frequency when playing on the road. Despite this, Austin has still found moderate success away from Dallas. Combine this with the recent play of Tony Romo, and I think you will find Austin to be the better option.
Enjoy your football, everyone. Email me your lineup dilemmas at firstname.lastname@example.org throughout the week for next Sunday’s edition of the Weekend Walkthrough. You can always follow me on twitter @marchmadness26.