Cleveland (92.3 The Fan) -
I’m a fan of any offense in the NFL that puts up over 100 points in two games, and the guy responsible for five of the touchdowns. Russell Wilson may have a tough match up against the 49ers, but he’s found ways to overcome and produce in almost every week of the season (one exception was indeed against San Fran in the Bay Area). However, he plays exceptional at home, and I trust this team who’s playing for a lot of respect in the game of the week.
Eli Manning has been awful on the road this year; just two touchdowns away from home since week 5. The Giants are in Baltimore with plenty to play for, but Big Blue may be done after that debacle last week against the birds. Likely, there are many fantasy owners in their 3rd place game instead of the championship because of the younger Manning.
My confidence is high on Vick Ballard because of what he likely is to your team. The Colts back has 37 rushes in the past two weeks with 200+ yards, and Kansas City has given up nearly 2,000 yards on the year. For a RB who is probably your flex spot or possibly RB2, a given 100 yard game is pretty sweet for the Championship. His scoring is pretty scarce, but I have no problem with a yardage-workhorse in the right slot.
Sticking with my Giants hate, their backfield may not be too shabby on Sunday, but there is no way to know who will reap the benefits. With Ahmad Bradshaw back, and possibly limited on touches, Tom Coughlin will go with the hot hand, which could end up being David Wilson. I avoid both of them.
I despise Brandon Lloyd, but he’s on my good side from a production standpoint lately. I hate him because he was one of my big pre-season sleepers and was essentially absent for most of the Pats season. However, the past two weeks have been a reason to stick him in your lineup. He’s getting redzone targets still, and Tom Brady may have risen an eyebrow after 10-catch, 190 yard game and Gronkowski still resting.
Very, very quietly, the Panthers have one of the better pass defenses (especially against wide receivers) in the league, and Carson Palmer didn’t make many people happy in the Raiders-Chiefs Megabowl. Carolina is 6th in the NFL in defending receiver’s touchdowns and top 10 in yardage vs. WR. Sit down Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rod Streater, Denarius Moore, and likely Brandon Myers, too. Usually it’s too difficult to tell who would have the huge game anyhow. And if you still aren’t convinced, Terrelle Pryor is set to see increased reps this week. He, uh, has yet to complete a pass in the (any) regular season.
I mentioned last week how, and we’ll mention him later, Dennis Pitta was a solid start against the Broncos, whose one weakness appears to be defending the tight end position. Pitta put up 125 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches. That said, Cleveland’s only hope may end up being Ben Watson, as he’ll be one of few Browns not opposite Champ Bailey, or one of the best rushing defenses in the league.
As for Dennis Pitta this week — no, thank you. He’s been known to disappear, and this could be one of those games. The New York Football Giants have had plenty of problems, but stopping tight ends hasn’t been one of them. Including Tony Gonzalez last week –who was held under 50 yards – the G-men have given up two scores to the position all year.
Bonus –Notable stat that doesn’t matter at all, because you’re playing him: The Jaguars have given up even fewer touchdowns to tight ends (1), but I dare you to justify sitting Aaron Hernandez in that game.
Welcome back to a great match up for Chicago! The Bears D led many teams to victory early in the season, now it’s time to have them lead your team to a championship. The Cardinals are bad. Really bad. Don’t let last week fool you, they will turn the ball over here.
I’m not getting too cute with the Indianapolis defense, who really haven’t been all that great, despite the winning. Kansas City is obviously a terrible team, but if your Def scoring is far beyond just “points given up”, I’m looking elsewhere.
Game Previews (Kidd):
Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers
Carolina has a solid pass defense so I wouldn’t expect much out of Carson Palmer or Oakland’s WRs. Darren McFadden is a must start whenever he’s healthy and as of right now he is. For the Panthers, Jonathan Stewart is now listed as a questionable & most likely a game-time decision. This throws a wrench into the plans of anyone hoping to get a big game out of DeAngelo Williams or Mike Tolbert. The Raiders Defense is stupid bad and I expect Cam Newton & Steve Smith to have a big day.
New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys
December Romo has yet to rear its ugly head & I don’t expect it to be this week. The Saints remain one of the worst defenses in the league. Start All Dallas Starters with complete confidence. For the Saints Drew Brees will need to continue his aerial assault in order to keep up and have a chance in Dallas.
Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers
The Packers have a great matchup this week and I look for Aaron Rodgers to pad his stats vs. the Titans, connecting frequently with James Jones & Randle Cobb. For the Titans I’m not expecting much. You can run on the Packers so I would think you can get a decent day out of Chris Johnson, but due to the overall lack of offense coming out of Tennessee I wouldn’t feel good starting anyone else, including Kenny Britt.
Minnesota Vikings @ Houston Texans
Adrian Peterson has been on Fire and without question needs to be in your lineup, although I think he may have a mediocre day by his standards against the Texans Def. that is ranked 5th overall against the run. I don’t expect much out of Christian Ponder or Kyle Rudolph. For the Texans, Matt Schaub could have a good game but unfortunately I don’t think they’ll need him to. Arian Foster will be the workhorse and Andre Johnson should get enough catches to be a factor
New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars
This game should get ugly quick. Tom Brady will most likely throw it all over the place making Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez & even Brandon Lloyd must starts. I would like Steven Ridley in this game if I didn’t fear he now has a permanent place in Belichick’s doghouse after his ball security issues popped back up in the past few weeks. For the Jaguars the only player I’d feel good about starting is Cecil Shorts.
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
There is not a single Kansas City Chief I would start unless I had no other option. Jamal Charles would be the exception if they actually gave him the ball. For the Colts Vick Ballard should have a big game against one of the worst run defenses in the league. I think we’ll see an average game out of Andrew Luck.
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
Stevie Johnson woke up last week and I would expect him to have another good game this week in Miami. C.J. Spiller is the man now that Fred Jackson is officially done, but I would temper my expectations for him since the Dolphins have been very good against the run. For Miami, Reggie Bush should produce quality points for you. Davone Bess has been ruled out and Brian Hartline has been limited in practice. This should mean more targets for Tight End Anthony Fasano.
San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets
The Jets are a mess but still have a very good pass defense, so I wouldn’t expect much out of Philip Rivers or his WRs. San Diego’s Defense looks to be a solid play against a Jets team that got embarrassed by the Titans last Monday. No one on the Jets is worth a start except maybe their defense.
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
RG3 has been cleared to play and if you’re counting on him, in what should be your final week in fantasy, you’ve got to be excited. Pierre Garcon remains his #1 target and should be considered a solid WR1. I also like “The Butler” Alfred Morris, who should have another solid outing this week. For Philly, LeSean McCoy will be back but is a risky play based on the strength of Washington’s rush defense.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This is not the week to start Andy Dalton. The Steelers are playing for their playoff lives and have the best defense in the league. I expect Ben Roethlisberger to lead them to a decisive victory. Heath Miller should get plenty of targets and be a big factor in this game.
St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Rams have been playing a little better lately but I don’t see them stopping a Tampa Bay team that got humiliated last week by the Saints. Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson should be in line for bounce back performances, as well as Doug Martin who shouldn’t be eliminated from the game like he was last week. The Bucs def can’t stop the pass so I would expect a good game from Danny Amendola but they do play very well against the run, which leaves me to expect a mediocre game from Steven Jackson.
Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos
Denver’s Def. has been very good but has allowed a ton of points to opposing Tight Ends, which means Ben Watson could be in for a solid game. Browns Quarterback Brandon Weeden will no doubt be tested at Mile High. Whether he likes it or not, he will have a definitive gut check game. Not much can be expected from Uncle Brandon fantasy wise, especially with Champ Bailey all over Josh Gordon. All Denver Starters should be in your lineup.
Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals
The Bears need this win. If it’s not Jay Cutler, who has had a horrendous season, it will certainly be the Bears Def. that seals the victory. Ryan Lindley will get the start again which means Larry Fitzgerald might as well be Brian Robiskie. Beanie Wells is a risky start and I’d advise against it.
New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens
Both of these teams need this win and will fight tooth and nail to get it. I don’t trust Eli Manning to give you enough points this week but can see Victor Cruz getting just enough to be relevant.
Sunday Night Football
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
Colin Kapernick & Russell Wilson have been lights out for their teams and even though both are facing tough defenses, I feel you have to roll with them. For Kapernick, Michael Crabtree has been his go to receiver while Vernon Davis has been fading away to oblivion.