Cleveland (92.3 The Fan) –
Nobody in the NFL has given up more passing touchdowns than the Kansas City Chiefs, and it’s Brandon Weeden’s turn to face them for the first round of the fantasy playoffs. The Browns rookie hasn’t been lights out lately, but did put up great yardage against another bad defense in Oakland. Opposing QB’s also have a league high Passer Rating average of 103 against KC.
Going against the Vikings this week, I’m not a huge fan of Jay Cutler, who has essentially been a disappointment to his owners during the season. I could be another one of those gut-wrenching games where Brandon Marshall outscores his QB. Packers receivers were unable to put up more than about 60 yards against the Minny defense last week, and they had Aaron Rodgers throwing to them.
This may seem obviously to most people out there, but I want to make it as clear as possible: You do NOT bench a guy coming off two games in which he accumulated 372 yards, four touchdowns, eight catches and is the focal point of the offense. You do NOT sit Bryce Brown this week. Shady McCoy remains out, and the rest of the Philly offense has essentially been out to lunch.
Monday night’s game is going to be incredible, which is nice after all of the crap that we’ve been subjected to on Thursdays. The New England offense and defense is clicking, but the way teams succeed against the stellar Houston D is through the air. When you have Tom Brady, and that’s the case, I have a feeling it will be slimmer pickings for the Pats runningback corps of Stephen Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Danny Woodhead.
Big Blue is rapidly climbing the list of teams that are being burned by deep threat receivers (Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson, and AJ Green in their last three games), and the Saints do deep-threat very well. Marquis Colston is the guy you want, but Lance Moore is another nice option, as long as Drew Brees isn’t still holding a grudge for last week’s drop that cost him his touchdown streak.
Going off of his last matchup with the Falcons, Steve Smith only came down with the ball three times, and I get the feeling that Carolina will come crashing down to Earth after running into an emotionally high Chiefs team last week.
As good as the Patiots have been, their improving defense has had tight ends do plenty of damage over the season. Owen Daniels has put up three touchdowns in the past five weeks, and an impressive 10 targets from Schaub last game.
If you’re unfortunately enough to have him on your roster, I probably don’t need to tell you that Antonio Gates should never see starting action for the remainder of the year. With that, I also would like to state that Brent Celek is also a candidate for “most useless” in the tight end world. I don’t care that Jacob Tamme put up a 9-catch day against the Bucs in week 13, because the Eagles passing game has officially checked out, and I don’t want to trust anybody on it during the postseason.
During their four game winning streak, the Cincinnati defense has given up an average of just over 10 points per game, and only two actual touchdowns (one of them in garbage time). With a home match up against Tony Romo, you just know how much the Cowboys love to screw up big games down the stretch. Sort of the anti-Giants, if you will.
Elsewhere, the Ravens defense is already beat up without Terrell Suggs ailing, and RG3 has only thrown four interceptions for the entire season. Hell, even when Griffin fumbles, it magically guides a teammate to the endzone for a score. The turnovers aren’t there to be had, and the RG3/Morris/Garcon combination could put up a boat load of yards.
Game Previews (Kidd) –
Sunday 1pm Games
St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills
Steven Jackson is finally getting the bulk of the carries and should be able to produce RB1 fantasy numbers against a Bills Defense that is ranked 30th against the run. This should open things up a bit for the Rams passing game and with Danny Amendola still dealing with his foot injury, you can expect rookie Chris Givens to continue to get more targets, especially if Amendola is inactive. For Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t get things going against the Jaguars last week and I don’t expect much from him again this week. The Bills offense will once again go through Fred Jackson & C.J. Spiller. I expect both to put up solid numbers and both should be in your lineup.
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
The Falcons look to have a bounce back performance this week after a less than stellar outing against the Saints in Week 13. There’s no question, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones & Roddy White should all be starting for you, but the Panthers have a solid pass defense so it won’t be as easy as you might think. Michael Turner looks to be in line for another solid start against Carolina’s 25th ranked run defense. For the Panthers, Cam Newton & Steve Smith will be the workhorses. Greg Olsen will see some targets but with his inconsistency, plugging him into your lineup is like a skunked beer, just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I’d look for a better option.
Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals
Tony Romo turns into Lando Calrissian every December. Sure he’s your buddy throughout the season, as he hides your injury/bust ridden roster in Cloud City, but he ultimately sells you out to the Empire and leaves your team frozen in carbonite. Will it be this week? I say Yes! Yes! Yes! The Bengals Def. has been flying under the radar and quietly amassed 40 sacks & 20 turnovers on the year. I expect Jason Witten to see the bulk of Romo’s targets and should have a solid game.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns
Kansas City is Stupid Bad. I expect Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon to be solid starts. Also Trent Richardson should have a fantastic day and total over 30 touches. For the Chiefs, Jamal Charles is the only offensive option here. Dwayne Bowe can’t be trusted against Joe Haden and should be used only as a desperate Flex. As we always say, “Start Whichever Defense is Playing the Chiefs”. Regardless of their emotional win last week, Brady Quinn still sucks and the Browns Def. should have a great game. Brady Quinn.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
Donald Brown is officially OUT so, Vick Ballard should be in for a good game against a very weak Titans defense. Andrew Luck always plays better at home and I expect him to target Reggie Wayne the most, with the explosive T.Y. Hilton getting in the mix. Even though the Colts defense isn’t that good, I still don’t trust Chris Johnson & Kenny Britt.
New York Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jets are not a good team but their pass defense is still one of the best in the league. Jets Def. could be a sneaky play this week. I don’t think Chad Henne will have much success, so therefore I don’t see Justin Blackmon doing much either. And when you take into account that Cecil Shorts is already ruled OUT, Blackmon will see most of the coverages roll his way.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are in trouble without Percy Harvin, who is out for the remainder of the season. Aside from Adrian Peterson, the only Viking worth a start is Tight End Kyle Rudolph, who will continue to see more and more targets. For the Bears, Jay Cutler & Brandon Marshall are back to being on the same page and should give you quality production this week.
San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers Def. may be aging but they are still very good against the pass, ranked #1 in the league giving up only 166 yards a game. I don’t like Philip Rivers many weeks but especially this week. He and Antonio Gates should be left on your bench. Ben Roethlisberger will make his return and should have a good game against the Chargers Def. that is ranked 21st in the league against the pass.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Has Doug Martin hit the rookie wall? He says no and I agree. After 2 consecutive games with under 60 yards rushing, I look for Martin to bounce back this week and top the century mark against an Eagles Def. that has not given up less than 100 yards on the ground since Week 4. I also look for Josh Freeman to continue to find Vincent Jackson and even Dallas Clark looks to be in line for a good game. For the Eagles, I expect the offense to go through Bryce Brown, who has been amazing for Philly since stepping in for an injured LeSean McCoy. Tampa has been tremendous this year against the run, so it won’t be easy sledding for Brown, but as long as Nick Foles continues to struggle, Brown remains a must start.
Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins
This game couldn’t be more of a shootout if it was played at the OK Corral. RG3, Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris are must starts for the Redskins. For the Ravens, Joe Flacco has been up and down this year, directly affected by the strength of the opposing pass defense. Fortunately for him, Washington is ranked 2nd worst in the league against the pass. Torrey Smith should benefit greatly from this as well as Dennis Pitta.
Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers
Steer clear of all Dolphins this week. The 49ers were upset last week by the Rams and I fully expect them to take it out on Miami at home this week. The 49ers Def. is better than walking into a bar and hearing MetallicA on the jukebox. Ryan Tannehill will see No Remorse and be pressured all day, while Reggie Bush will most likely be King Nothing, a non-factor. For San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick has a chance to be the Hero of the Day since Miami’s Def. continues to be The Thing That Should Not Be.
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
I don’t care if it’s Tom Tupa starting at Quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, anyone is better than Ryan Lindley. In the past 3 weeks, former stud Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald amassed only 65 yards from 5 receptions on 24 targets from Lindley. This week he gets John Skelton back, who isn’t much of an upgrade, but still an upgrade. Fitz always has a high upside but this week he shouldn’t be relied on more than a WR3/Flex. Beanie Wells. Seattle Def.
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants
The New Orleans Saints have more issues than Lindsay Lohan, but does that mean an “All-Sit” is required? Absolutely Not!!! Drew Brees was embarrassed last week against the Falcons, throwing 5 INTs. You can bet your sweet ass, he’s looking for redemption. Brees will have every opportunity to take this game out of reach, connecting frequently w/ Jimmy Graham & Marques Colston for big gains, plus consistently hitting Lance Moore for the quick stick movers. Now unfortunately for him and the fans in NOLA, the bustle in the hedgerow is the Saints Defense. For the defending Super Bowl Champs, Eli Manning should give you the fantasy points you expect and Victor Cruz should validate the uncomfortably high draft pick you spent on him. I’m calling the Over/Under on this game – at least 64. Wait. Let me raise that 5. @DustinFox37
Sunday Night Football
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
It’s December in Green Bay, so why wouldn’t there be snow? Local forecasts are calling for 1-3 inches by game time. Snow usually means more emphasis on running the ball, but not when it’s Lions vs. Packers. I expect both teams to continue to rely heavily on the passing attack. Green Bay will have Greg Jennings back again this week but will be without WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) & RB James Starks (knee). Nelson’s injury doesn’t really affect Aaron Rodgers’ fantasy value since he still has Jennings, Randall Cobb and James Jones. Alex Green will get the start at Running Back but really is still just a low end RB2/Flex. For the Lions, Matt Stafford should have a good game connecting frequently with Lazaurus, Eh I mean Calvin Johnson. Megatron has been on fire lately, averaging over 9 catches, 165 yards and 1 Touchdown in the last 4 weeks. I expect to see good numbers from him again this week, but I also need to caution you to expect a slight decrease in all offensive players in this game, if indeed there is snow on Lambeau Field.
Monday Night Football
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
The Texans Defense has their work cut out for them this week in New England. I expect Tom Brady to make up for the uncharacteristic outing he had last week in Miami. He will most likely be relentless in targeting Wes Welker & Aaron Hernandez as the Patriots try to reestablish their dominance in the AFC. RB Steven Ridley looks to be the odd man out in this pass happy offense, while facing a very tough run defense in the Texans. For Houston to walk away with the win, they’ll need to focus on a more balanced offensive attack. Arian Foster needs to be a factor in both the running and passing game. Everything points to Owen Daniels having a great game, but if there’s one thing we know about Bill Belichick, other than he Hates Your Fantasy Team, it’s that he likes to pinpoint one specific opposing threat and eliminate them from the game. I fear that Daniels may be that guy this week. The Patriots Def. is the 2nd worst in the league against opposing Tight Ends so you have to start Daniels but I would expect him to have to fight for every ball thrown his way. This theory leaves the door open for Andre Johnson to have a big game. This should be a great game and one hell of a finish to Round 1 of your Fantasy Playoffs.