Cleveland (92.3 The Fan) –
As this is being written, Jim Harbaugh still hasn’t revealed who will start for the Niners due to “competitive advantage”. Gee thanks, Jimmy. If Colin Kaepernick does end up with the nod, he faces the New Orleans Saints after carving the Chicago Bears like a turkey day bird. His ability to run will always lift him over Smith as a fantasy option. Over in Cincinnati, it’s Andy Dalton‘s turn to embarrass Oakland.
No more bye weeks, which is great for teams thin at all positions, but hopefully nobody needs to start Christian Ponder. The Bears are licking their chops to face another mediocre team again, where they’ve excelled and won a lot of match ups for their owners.
Still a few question marks in Denver with Willis McGahee out for a while, but Ronnie Hillman seems to be the likely candidate to see the majority of touches. Against Kansas City, Lance Ball or Knowshon Mareno may also be a reasonable flex play in a pinch too.
Beanie Wells may be back in the mix, but I’m still watching him from afar until he actually gets his carries and survives for a game or two. Solid upside for later if kept on the bench, I’m not as confident in that phrase saved for Reggie Bush, who I’m benching in whatever leagues I can afford to.
Watching Ike Taylor shut down Torrey Smith was a bad sign for the Browns. Josh Gordon and Greg Little are going to have some problems finding open space if Pittsburgh continues to cover that well. In fact, Pittsburgh is the top defense against wide receivers for the season so far.
I’ll admit, I’m intrigued by the Chad Henne anomaly, which may not be one. Not enough to want to start Henne, but I’ll definitely take a chance with Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts (who has been good, even with Gabbert) for another week, especially against the Titans. Also, hello Michael Crabtree against the Saints.
Piggybacking on the Henne talk, Marcedes Lewis is a solid play against Tennessee, who remains beyond awful against tight ends. The Broncos are actually the worst against the position, but nobody should be starting Lance Kendricks lately anyhow.
One of the best, however, is actually Cleveland. Heath Miller is a go-to guy in his offense, and I have no clue what Charlie Batch is going to look like on the field, but odds are against a huge game from Miller. If not just so I don’t have to hear “HEEEEEEEATH” from all of the yellow flagged idiots on gameday.
Nobody was a bigger fan of Nnamdi than I was, when he was in Oakland. The huge free agent acquisition has been burned almost weekly, and Andy Reid is running out of people to fire before his time actually comes. Carolina isn’t great, but can still put up production against that Philly defense that has mailed it in a long time ago.
In the same game, Nick Foles wasn’t up to the task last week and Shady is out yet again. The Panthers D is worth a look for turnovers alone.
Game Previews (Kidd):
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
No Percy Harvin really hurts the Vikings, but may improve the production of Adrian Peterson against a normally tough defense. For Chicago, they will have the human “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” known as Jay Cutler back, but with as bad as his offensive line is, he may wish he took another week off. Brandon Marshall will once again be back to his WR1 status as long as Cutler can fight back the tears & remain in the game.
Oakland Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Raiders will be without Darren McFadden & Mike Goodson for the 3rd straight week, which means Marcel Reece remains a temporary RB1 especially in PPR leagues. For the Bengals I expect BenJarvus Green-Ellis to record his 2nd straight 100 yard game, largely due to the fact that Oakland’s Defense shows less resistance than France in WWII.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
The Steelers have their work cut out for them this week as they take on the #Battling Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh will be forced to start 3rd string Quarterback Abe Vigoda, Um I mean 37 year old Charlie Batch. Their backfield is a mess as well, with the return of Rashard Mendenhall competing with Jonathan Dwyer for carries. Even Isaac Redman can be in the mix after performing well in his concussion test. If one of those three backs get the bulk of the carries, they can have a very productive day. Unfortunately without a clear idea on who it’ll be, I have to advise you to look elsewhere for your starting lineup. For The Browns, Pittsburgh’s Defense is so good against the pass, the only offensive player you should feel comfortable starting is Trent Richardson, and that’s just mainly because his potential production is so AWESOME, you should receive a Skull Crushing Finale’ if he is ever left on your bench.
Buffalo Bills @ Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck should bounce back this week after two consecutive mediocre performances. I expect Reggie Wayne to get most of the targets and should have at least 1 Touchdown. The Bills will probably at some point abandon the run and be forced to throw the ball to stay in the game. When you add that to a poor pass defense for Indianapolis, Stevie Johnson could be in for a career game.
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
All eyes are on Chad Henne this week to see if he can come close to matching his stud like performance from Week 11. Good news for Henne, he’s facing a Tennessee Defense that is ranked 30th in the league. Bad news for Henne, he’s Chad Henne. As Dolphins fans will testify, Henne cannot be trusted and until we see consistent production, he will remain as Blue as B.B. King. As for Cecil Shorts, the thrill may be gone. His most productive games came from Blaine Gabbert & until Henne proves to favor him over Justin Blackmon, his production may be limited. For the Titans this is just the sort of game Kenny Britt loves to exploit. Just as soon as all the bye weeks end and you just about give up all hope, he will remove the knife out of your back, have a career game from your bench, then jab it into your stomach and twist in the weeks to come. Start at Your Own Risk.
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker All Day. If the Kansas City Chiefs were an ice-cream flavor they’d be Mint Chocolate Crap. As always whatever defense is playing the Chiefs, is a must start. So if you see Denver’s Defense available pick them up and plug them into your lineup. Seriously, they are actually starting Brady Quinn. Pick them up. Brady Quinn.
Seattle Seahawks @ Miami Dolphins
The Seahawk’s offense goes through Marshawn Lynch and unfortunately for them the Dolphins actually have a solid run defense. Lynch will still be the main focus of the offense therefore even though his production may take a hit compared to his last two games he remains a must-start. For Miami Reggie Bush cannot be trusted at this point and should be reserved to a desperate flex start this week.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matt Ryan should be able to pick apart Tampa Bay’s league worst pass defense. Julio Jones is questionable so it is imperative you confirm his playing status before the 1pm kickoff. For the Bucs, Josh Freeman continues to shush critics by utilizing his early Christmas presents, Vincent Jackson & Doug Martin. Both should have great games in this foreseeable shootout.
Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers
It’s a great matchup for Ryan Mathews, which means for no reason at all, Norv Turner will give him less than 15 carries. Philip Rivers should have a better than normal game as he continues to build chemistry with his new favorite target Danario Alexander. The Chargers run defense is 3rd best in the league but I still expect Ray Rice to have solid production and amass at least 100 all purpose yards.
St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
ZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Steven Jackson may be the only viable fantasy option in this game, and that is merely as a low end RB2/Flex. Unfortunately for owners of Larry Fitzgerald, until the Cardinals get an NFL Quarterback (2013 NFL Draft) he will remain a high risk / low reward start. This snoozefest could conceivably end in a 0-0 tie.
San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints
Apparently Jim Harbaugh hates your fantasy team as much as Bill Belichick. He refuses to officially name his starting quarterback. Reports speculate that Colin Kaepernick will get the start, but if official word isn’t announced until gametime (4:25), you may be in for a Huge High Risk / High Reward afternoon. Regardless of who’s behind center, Frank Gore should have a great game and I’d even consider Kendal Hunter to be a solid Flex.
Sunday Night Football
Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants
Randall Cobb has 6 touchdowns in the last 4 weeks and until Greg Jennings returns to full participation, I would consider him to be the primary target for Aaron Rodgers. For the Giants Eli Manning has been a major disappointment, throwing 6 INTs in his last 4 games. Green Bay’s Defense will without a doubt try to exploit that. I expect them to snag at least 1, but will ultimately give up a few big plays trying too hard for the pick.
Monday Night Football
Carolina Panthers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Do you risk starting Nick Foles? NO! NO! NO! Honestly there’s not a single Eagle I’d feel comfortable starting. LeSean McCoy is OUT and will be replaced by the rookie out of Kansas St. Bryce Brown. Brown could have a solid game if he scores, but Dion Lewis will also be in the mix and with Andy Reid’s personal vendetta against running the ball, Brown barely qualifies as a Flex option. For the Panthers, the only thing they are consistent at is being inconsistent. Steve Smith is merely a low end WR3/Flex with potential for a big game.