Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at the best and worst matchups from around the NFL and how they might affect lineup decisions for your Fantasy Football team. We are not in the business of stating the obvious, so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson or any other top-tier players.
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Chris Ivory is about to get some company this week with the expected return of Pierre Thomas, who has been out since Week 3 with an ankle injury. With Reggie Bush back for the past two games after being out since Week 2 with a broken leg, the Saints will now have all three running backs healthy for the first time this season.
What does this mean for Ivory heading into Week 14 against St. Louis? Nothing. He's still going to be the man for the Saints in their backfield. And we like him as the Start of the Week.
Ivory has been tremendous the past three games with 53 Fantasy points against Seattle, Dallas and Cincinnati. He has 45 carries for 254 yards and five touchdowns over that span, and he should continue his recent production against the Rams.
St. Louis has played well in run defense this year, allowing just 104 rushing yards per game with five touchdowns. But the Rams have allowed a rushing touchdown in three of their past four games against Frank Gore, Michael Turner and Knowshon Moreno. For the season, six running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points against St. Louis, and Ivory hopes to make it seven.
Thomas being back will take away some touches from Ivory, but coach Sean Payton has said Ivory is not about to be demoted to third-string. The thought coming into the year was Ivory would replace Mike Bell as the third option behind Thomas and Bush, but Ivory have shown he's the best option of the trio.
"Chris has done a number of good things, and I don't want to affect his snap count at all in regards to his carries," Payton said Wednesday. "He's a different type of runner than either Pierre or Reggie. … He runs hard.”
We expect him to run hard for at least one more week, and he's worth starting in the Fantasy playoffs as a No. 2 option in the majority of leagues against the Rams. Forget about Thomas and Bush. Ivory is the best running back for the Saints in Week 14 – and possibly the rest of the season.
|Player||Fantasy Points (projected)||Fantasy Points (actual)||Start percentage|
|Brandon Jacobs, RB, N.Y. Giants||13||22||62|
|Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals||12||17||71|
|Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers||11||15||30|
|Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers||7||4||39|
|Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers||8||3||31|
|Dustin Keller, TE, Jets||8||2||55|
|Eli Manning, QB, Giants||19||4||61|
|Johnny Knox, WR, Bears||11||3||62|
|Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos||21||2||67|
|LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers||6||16||27|
|Benjamin Watson, TE, Browns||4||16||10|
|Deion Branch, WR, Patriots||6||12||31|
| Our favorite sleeper in Week 13 was ... Chris Ivory, who was started in 35 percent of leagues and finished with 23 Fantasy points. He had more Fantasy points than Maurice Jones-Drew (18), Steven Jackson (17) and Jamaal Charles (13). |
* -- Start of the Week
Joe Flacco (at HOU): Flacco has two things working in his favor this week. The first thing is with all the bad weather expected Sunday it's nice to have a quarterback playing in a favorable environment. Flacco has that indoors at Houston on Monday night. He also has a tremendous matchup against the Texans, who have allowed nine of the 11 quarterbacks they've faced this season to pass for multiple touchdowns. Only Donovan McNabb and Rusty Smith failed to accomplish that feat, but at least McNabb passed for 426 yards. The Texans won't be able to contain Flacco, who has at least 21 Fantasy points in five of his past seven starts. In his past three road games at New England, Atlanta and Carolina he has averaged 267 passing yards with six touchdowns and one interception.
Kyle Orton (at ARI): Orton will rebound from last week's disaster at Kansas City when he passed for just 117 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a lost fumble. Don't worry about interim head coach Eric Studesville ruining Orton since he's taking over for the departed Josh McDaniels, who was in love with the passing game. The Broncos will still throw the ball plenty in this matchup even with Moreno running wild. The Cardinals are No. 25 in pass defense, and they have allowed six quarterbacks to reach at least 19 Fantasy points this season. Orton also has done well on the road with three 300-yard games, including two with multiple touchdowns.
Jay Cutler (vs. NE): The first thing you're going to have to do Sunday is check the weather report with wind and snow predicted to hit Chicago. If that's the case then don't expect Cutler to do much. But as we all know about the weather, it can be anything but predictable. If the wind isn't bad then Cutler should be fine, and he will likely be throwing quite a bit in this matchup, especially if he's chasing points to keep up with the red-hot Tom Brady. The Patriots have allowed six quarterbacks to reach at least 18 Fantasy points this year, including three on the road in Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne and Ben Roethlisberger. In Cutler's past two home games against Minnesota and Philadelphia he has averaged 242 passing yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CIN): As with Cutler, you're going to have check the weather Sunday in Pittsburgh when it comes to starting Roethlisberger because it could be bad. But Roethlisberger has done well at home in Pittsburgh in December throughout all kinds of weather. In his past seven home games in December going back to 2007 he has averaged 240 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He's also been playing well at home this year, averaging 306 passing yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions against Cleveland, New England and Oakland. He doesn't have a great history against the Bengals and struggled at Cincinnati in Week 9 with 163 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. But the Bengals secondary has fallen apart since then and might not have cornerback Jonathan Joseph (ankle). Roethlisberger also appears to be OK with his sprained foot and broken nose since he was not listed on the injury report.
Jon Kitna (vs. PHI): Kitna should be considered a sleeper this week, especially if Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel (knee) remains out. Philadelphia has been beat up the past two games against Cutler and Matt Schaub for 584 passing yards, six touchdowns and one interception, all with Samuel out. The Eagles have also allowed nine quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns against them with six reaching at least 20 Fantasy points. Kitna has struggled the past two weeks against tough pass defenses in New Orleans and Indianapolis, but he does have three 300-yard games since taking over for Tony Romo (collarbone) in Week 7 with eight total touchdowns and two interceptions in his past four starts. He does lose Dez Bryant (ankle) for the rest of the season, but he still has enough weapons to be successful this week as a starting option in deeper leagues.
Sleeper alert: Josh Freeman (at WAS): Weather could play a role in this game also, so continue to monitor what develops. But Freeman has the chance to make plays this week against the Redskins, who could once again be without safety LaRon Landry (Achilles' tendon) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (hamstring). Now, Washington's pass defense has played well the past three games against Tennessee, Minnesota and the Giants. But the Titans game was when Vince Young had a meltdown, Brett Favre has been terrible all season and Eli Manning was without Hakeem Nicks (leg) and Steve Smith (pectoral). In two games prior to that, the Redskins allowed 10 total touchdowns against Matthew Stafford and Michael Vick. Freeman has been great on the road this season with at least 17 Fantasy points in five of six games. Look for Tampa Bay to run well in this matchup with LeGarrette Blount, but Freeman should still find a way to be productive enough as a starting Fantasy option in deeper formats. For more sleeper quarterbacks, including David Garrard and Alex Smith, click here.
Sam Bradford (at NO): Bradford was a tremendous letdown last week at Arizona when we had him listed as a sleeper. He finished with five Fantasy points, which was his second-worst outing of the season following a four-point effort in Week 5 at Detroit. He should struggle again this week at the Saints, who lead the NFL in fewest passing touchdowns allowed with eight. Matt Ryan is the only quarterback with multiple touchdowns against New Orleans, and we can't trust Bradford in this matchup after his performance last week.
Mark Sanchez (vs. MIA): Speaking of bad performances, Sanchez was awful Monday night at New England with 164 passing yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Watching his play in that matchup, as well as his outing in Week 12 against Cincinnati when he had 166 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception, and you have to wonder if the unreliable Sanchez is back. Since Week 5 against Minnesota, Sanchez has eight passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and his good games have come against Detroit, Cleveland and Houston. He did play well at Miami in Week 3 with 256 passing yards and three touchdowns, but the Dolphins have improved in their secondary since that game and are No. 5 in pass defense. There could be weather issues here as well, and it's risky to consider Sanchez a starter based on his recent play.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. CLE): Fred Jackson is the lone Bills player to consider starting this week because of the bad weather expected in Buffalo. As you'll read here, we're not big fans of the Bills passing game this week. Since Week 8, Fitzpatrick has one game with more than 17 Fantasy points, and he's coming off a disappointing performance at Minnesota last week with 158 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception and two fumbles. The Browns have also done well in pass defense the past three games with three touchdowns allowed and seven interceptions against Garrard, Jimmy Clausen and Henne. Granted, those aren't exactly elite quarterbacks, but neither is Fitzpatrick based on his recent play. And with the weather possibly a factor, we would suggest sitting Fitzpatrick in the majority of leagues.
Carson Palmer (at PIT): Palmer played better than expected in Week 9 against the Steelers with 248 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but it could be hard for him to repeat that performance this week. The Steelers have played well in pass defense the past three games against Oakland, Buffalo and Baltimore with two touchdowns and three interceptions over that span. Brady is also the only quarterback to throw for multiple touchdowns in Pittsburgh, and Palmer has averaged just 181 passing yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in his past two visits to Heinz Field. As we pointed out with Roethlisberger, the weather could be bad Sunday, so keep that in mind. And Palmer has three touchdowns and five interceptions in his past two road games at Indianapolis and the Jets.
Drew Stanton (vs. GB): I've gone back and forth on Stanton this week since he does have two things in his favor. He's playing indoors, and he should be throwing a lot in a comeback effort. The last time Detroit faced Green Bay was Week 4 when Shaun Hill had 331 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions with 53 rushing yards. But Henne is the only quarterback since to pass for multiple touchdowns against the Packers, who have allowed just four passing touchdowns and nine interceptions in their past six games. Stanton played well last week in place of Hill (finger) and Stafford (shoulder) against Chicago with 178 passing yards, one touchdown and no interceptions and a rushing score, but Green Bay now has film on Stanton and should be ready. If you're concerned with the weather issues around the league this week then you might want to start Stanton since he's playing in a dome, but most owners should find other options based on the matchup.
Bust alert: Matt Ryan (at CAR): Ryan has proven to be a breakout Fantasy quarterback this year, and he has the Falcons on target for the NFC South title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It will help Atlanta's chances to make a Super Bowl run playing indoors because Ryan has struggled outdoors in his career. This season, Ryan has averaged 224 passing yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions at Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. By comparison, he has averaged 253 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions indoors. This week, Ryan heads to Carolina, where again weather could play a role. In two career games at Carolina, Ryan has averaged 191 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Panthers are also No. 8 in pass defense with 15 touchdowns allowed and 15 interceptions, and Drew Brees and Freeman are the only quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdown passes in Carolina this year. Look for Turner to dominate this game, especially with Tony Gonzalez (ankle) ailing. Roddy White should still be fine, but don't expect big stats from Ryan.
LeGarrette Blount (at WAS): Forget about Week 8 at Arizona when he had 22 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns because Blount's performance last week against Atlanta was his best game this year. He had 20 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown against a Falcons defense that had allowed only four running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including matchups with LeSean McCoy, Cedric Benson, Ray Rice and Steven Jackson. This week, Blount has a much easier opponent in the Redskins, who have allowed six rushing touchdowns the past two games and seven running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points in the past four games. The loss of center Jeff Faine (triceps) will hurt, but it shouldn't matter much in this matchup.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at CHI): As I told you last week in the faceoff with Dave Richard, all Green-Ellis does is produce, regardless of the matchup. He has scored a touchdown or reached double digits in Fantasy points against some of the best run defenses this season in Baltimore, San Diego, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and now the Jets after rushing for 72 yards and two touchdowns last week. He has another tough matchup this week against the Bears, who are No. 2 in run defense, but they have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns. Green-Ellis has 11 touchdowns in his past 10 games, and the Patriots offensive line has been stellar since left guard Logan Mankins returned in Week 9 from his holdout.
Tashard Choice (vs. PHI): We had Choice as a sleeper last week, and he came through with 19 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown at Indianapolis. He has the chance for another quality game here with Marion Barber (calf) out again. Felix Jones will continue as the starter, and he played well against the Colts also with 91 total yards. But Choice will be the one working at the goal line, and he has more upside than Jones, who should be considered a flex option in Week 14. The Eagles have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past five games with four reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Philadelphia has allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing running backs on the season, and Choice has two touchdowns in his past two games. He also scored against the Eagles last season.
Anthony Dixon (vs. SEA): Dixon and Brian Westbrook have the chance to run well this week against the Seahawks, who have struggled in run defense the past five weeks. Seattle has allowed seven touchdowns to running backs over that span, including two last week against Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson. For the season, the Seahawks have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing running backs with 12 reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Dixon has the better chance to score than Westbrook, but both are worth using as at least flex options in this matchup. They split carries evenly last week at Green Bay in the first game without Gore (hip), but Dixon has more upside based on his likelihood of working near the goal line.
Jonathan Stewart (vs. ATL): In 2009, Stewart closed the season with 589 rushing yards and five total touchdowns in his final five games with DeAngelo Williams out with an ankle injury. Is history about to repeat itself? Stewart has run well now in each of the past two games against Cleveland and Seattle with 190 rushing yards and a touchdown. Williams is out again and Goodson could be limited with a shoulder injury sustained last week. But even if Goodson plays as expected, Stewart should run well against a Falcons defense that struggled with Blount last week. And Stewart has a great history against Atlanta with three touchdowns in two home games. The best thing about the Panthers is they will remain committed to the run even if they get behind, and Stewart should be considered a flex option in the majority of leagues this week.
Sleeper alert: James Starks (at DET): Starks was solid in his NFL debut last week against San Francisco with 18 carries for 73 yards. Coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers will share playing time with Starks and Brandon Jackson, but Starks has more upside in standard leagues. And against the Lions, if the Packers build a lead, we could see Starks in there to help run out the clock. Detroit has allowed 17 touchdowns to opposing running backs, including six in the past five games and two last week against Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. Fantasy owners have been waiting for Starks all season, and now is the time to use him as at least a flex option. For more sleeper running backs, including Javarris James, Willis McGahee and Tim Hightower, click here.
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Cedric Benson (at PIT): There are two ways to look at Benson this week against the Steelers. On one hand, he scored against them in Week 9 with 74 total yards and has two touchdowns against Pittsburgh in his past three meetings. He also has four touchdowns in his past five games overall and is averaging 19 carries over that span, so he's getting the workload you would expect from a featured running back. But on the other hand, Benson hasn't scored on the road since Week 3 at Carolina, he has 23 carries for 53 yards in his past two games at Pittsburgh and the Steelers are No. 1 in run defense. I'll take the Steelers this week, and the advice here is to bench Benson.
Jahvid Best (vs. GB): Best's performance against Chicago last week was a pleasant surprise. He had nine carries for 65 yards and caught one pass for 32 yards. One reason for his outing could be rest. He didn't play the previous week against New England, which was on Thanksgiving Day, and that allowed him to actually get in some practice time leading up to the Bears game. He already missed practice Wednesday with his ailing turf toe, and he could again be limited against the Packers. Best, who is still sharing carries with Maurice Morris, had moderate success against Green Bay in Week 4 with 12 carries for 50 yards, five catches for 34 yards and a lost fumble. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 2, and the Packers have only allowed Turner to score a touchdown and reach double digits in Fantasy points in their past five games against the Jets, Dallas, Minnesota, Atlanta and San Francisco. Best's best bet to be a bountiful Fantasy option won't come until 2011 when he's 100 percent healthy.
Marshawn Lynch (at SF): We had Lynch as a sleeper last week for his matchup with Carolina, and he responded with 21 carries for 83 yards and three touchdowns. It was easily his best game of the season, but he took advantage of a great matchup. This week, the 49ers should be able to contain Lynch, especially at home. San Francisco has only allowed McCoy, Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams to score rushing touchdowns at home, and the 49ers have only given up six touchdowns to running backs overall this season. In four road games with Seattle this season at Chicago, Oakland, Arizona and New Orleans, Lynch has averaged 29 rushing yards with two touchdowns and two fumbles. He does benefit from going back to his hometown since he's from the Bay Area, but he had seven carries for 9 yards at the Raiders in Week 8.
Ronnie Brown (at NYJ): Brown now has 17 games without reaching 100 rushing yards, and he's gone three games without scoring a touchdown. This week he travels to New York to face a Jets team that was just embarrassed on Monday Night Football at New England. Good luck. Brown had 11 carries for 54 yards against the Jets in Week 3, and in his past two games at New York, he has 22 carries for 84 yards and no touchdowns. He's not being used as a receiver nearly enough, and he continues to share carries with Ricky Williams. There's no reason to consider using Brown or Williams this week with the Fantasy playoffs on the line. Maybe you would consider him next week against Buffalo or Week 16 against Detroit, but Brown has been a bust in 2010.
Thomas Jones (at SD): Old running backs at this time of year are a little scary, and Jones, 32, hasn't run well recently. He hasn't cracked 75 yards rushing in his past five games, and he's only scored in one game over that span while averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. He's also struggled with the Chargers recently. In Week 1 at home, in his first game with the Chiefs, he had 11 carries for 39 yards. And in two games with the Jets at San Diego the past two seasons he had 24 carries for 78 yards and no touchdowns. The Chargers looked lost in run defense last week against Oakland, which should help Jamaal Charles, but Jones' plodding style could be contained this week. If anything consider him a flex option, but you can probably find a better Fantasy running back for your playoff matchup.
Bust alert: Brandon Jacobs (at MIN): Jacobs was awesome last week against Washington with eight carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns, but he won't be facing an easy Redskins defense in this matchup. The Vikings are No. 4 in run defense and have been stellar at home with no rushing touchdowns allowed against Miami, Detroit, Dallas, Arizona, Green Bay and Buffalo. And in their past five games overall, Minnesota is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry with no touchdowns. Jacobs went four games without a touchdown prior to the Redskins game, and Ahmad Bradshaw, despite losing his starting job, remains the better running back for the Giants since he continues to get more carries. Jacobs is worth using as a flex option in deeper leagues, but we would consider benching him based on the matchup.
Donald Driver (at DET): Driver is healthy at just the right time for his matchup with the Lions this week. As we told you in Week 4, Driver owns the Lions. His last name might as well be Ford. He had three catches for 89 yards and a touchdown against Detroit earlier this season and now has 40 catches for 648 yards and four touchdowns in his past six games with the Lions. He's had double digits in Fantasy points in every meeting over that span, and the Lions are once again struggling in pass defense with 14 touchdowns allowed to wide receivers, including eight in the past five games against the Jets, Buffalo, Dallas, New England and Chicago. Driver had a spectacular 61-yard touchdown catch last week against the 49ers for his fourth score of the season, and there's a good chance his fifth one is coming in this matchup with Detroit.
Michael Crabtree (vs. SEA): Crabtree will likely miss playing with Troy Smith since the two had a solid rapport. In five games with Smith as the starter, Crabtree had three touchdowns. But Crabtree was starting to connect with Alex Smith before he got hurt in Week 7, and they should do fine in this matchup now that they're reunited. Seattle is No. 30 in pass defense with 15 touchdowns going to opposing wide receivers and 12 reaching double digits in Fantasy points. In the past five games, the Seahawks have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and Crabtree is looking for revenge after what happened in Week 1 when he was held to two catches for 12 yards.
Robert Meachem (vs. STL): The Rams are dealing with injuries in their secondary with safeties O.J. Atogwe (shoulder) and Craig Dahl (knee) and cornerbacks Ron Bartell (neck) and Justin King (shoulder) all banged up. That could be trouble against Drew Brees, who is playing well the past three games with an average of 349 passing yards to go with seven touchdowns and four interceptions against Seattle, Dallas and Cincinnati. Meachem has three of those touchdowns, and Brees is going to him in big spots. He had three catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns in Week 11 against Seattle. When Brees needed someone in Week 12 at Dallas, he went to Meachem for a 55-yard catch in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning touchdown. And last week at Cincinnati, Brees hit Meachem for a 52-yard touchdown and a 42-yard catch late in the fourth quarter. If the Rams are thin in the secondary then Brees should do well connecting with Marques Colston and Meachem, who should be considered a high-end No. 3 Fantasy option or flex in this matchup.
Pierre Garcon (vs. TEN): Garcon scored just his second touchdown of the season last week against Dallas and finished with 12 Fantasy points, but he was due for a quality game. He has been playing well the past four games with at least five catches in each outing, but he just hasn't found the end zone. Peyton Manning continues to look in his direction with Austin Collie (concussion) out, and Garcon has at least seven targets in each of his past six games. He should continue to be involved against the Titans, and last year against Tennessee at home, Garcon had six catches for 136 yards. He's capable of another solid stat line in this game on Thursday night, and we consider Garcon useful as at least a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver in the majority of leagues.
Malcom Floyd (vs. KC): Floyd's hamstring problems appear to be over since he wasn't on the injury report Wednesday and played well in Week 13 against Oakland with five catches for 72 yards. He had 11 targets against the Raiders and should be heavily involved against the Chiefs even in a potential matchup with Brandon Flowers. Floyd has three touchdowns in his past five meetings with Kansas City, and he should have had a fourth in Week 1 when he and Philip Rivers failed to connect on three red-zone targets. Kansas City has allowed 11 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, including five in the past five games. With Vincent Jackson (calf) out, Floyd should be able to turn in quality production.
Sleeper alert: Earl Bennett (vs. NE): Coach Lovie Smith called Cutler throwing passes to Bennett “the Commodore Connection” since both guys played together at Vanderbilt. It shows that Cutler is relying on Bennett with his play the past two games. He has 11 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games against Philadelphia and Detroit, and he had eight targets against the Lions last week. Bennett came on for Fantasy owners late last season also with two touchdowns in his final five games, so hopefully this is his time to shine as the Bears look to lock up a playoff spot and possibly win the NFC North. With Johnny Knox likely to see a lot of Patriots' standout cornerback Devin McCourty that could allow Bennett to be productive if the weather holds up. For more sleeper wide receivers, including Derrick Mason, Ben Obomanu and Jacoby Ford, click here.
Steve Johnson (vs. CLE): The dropped passes might be getting to Johnson, and we all know about his rant on Twitter following his failure to catch a touchdown in Week 12 against Pittsburgh. He has just nine catches for 104 yards in his past two games against the Steelers and Minnesota, and he might not be worth starting this week in the majority of leagues. Weather could be a huge detriment here, and the Browns have a solid young cornerback in rookie Joe Haden, who has four interceptions in his past four games. It's risky to bench Johnson, but you also don't want his drops to drop you out of the playoffs.
Brandon Marshall (at NYJ): Marshall is expected to return this week after sitting out two games with a hamstring injury. But you shouldn't plan on using him in this matchup with Darrelle Revis. Marshall did have 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown against the Jets in Week 3, but Revis didn't play in that game with an injured hamstring. Marshall hasn't scored since the game with New York, and there could be some rust involved after sitting for two weeks. Revis has also shut down Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Terrell Owens in recent weeks and should be able to contain Marshall at less than 100 percent.
Kenny Britt (at IND): Britt is expected to return this week after sitting out the past four games with a hamstring injury, but let him shake off the rust before starting him in the majority of leagues. This will be his first game with Randy Moss, and we'll find out how the Titans use Moss, Britt and Nate Washington as a trio. We would advise benching all three Titans receivers since it could be a jumbled mess, and Kerry Collins is also not playing well with 169 passing yards and two interceptions last week against Jacksonville. The Colts just lost cornerback Jerraud Powers (arm) for the season, but Indianapolis has only allowed eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, including three in the past five games. Britt should be ready to help Fantasy owners in Week 15 against Houston, but first let him prove that his hamstring is OK and ready to go.
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. DEN): There's a good chance rookie John Skelton will start at quarterback this week for the Cardinals, and even though he might be better than Derek Anderson (concussion), his inexperience could hurt Fitzgerald. On top of that, Fitzgerald will likely see a lot of Champ Bailey, who helped hold Dwayne Bowe to no catches last week. Fitzgerald also has just one touchdown in his past five games, and he has nine Fantasy points in his past two outings against San Francisco and St. Louis. It's hard to bench Fitzgerald based on his immense talent, and it only takes one touchdown for him to be successful, but you might consider keeping him reserved based on the circumstances.
Chad Ochocinco (at PIT): Ochocinco played well last week against New Orleans with five catches for 96 yards, but he has a terrible history against the Steelers, who held him to one catch for 15 yards in their last meeting in Week 9. In his past five games with Pittsburgh, Ochocinco has 22 catches for 236 yards and one touchdown. He also hasn't scored a touchdown at Heinz Field in his past five meetings with four games with fewer than 60 receiving yards over that span. And with the weather a potential problem there's not a lot of good reasons to consider starting Ochocinco this week.
Bust alert: Dwayne Bowe (at SD): It was looking like a tough week for Bowe even before Matt Cassel needed an appendectomy, but with Cassel possibly out and Brodie Croyle expected to start, Fantasy owners should use caution when setting your lineup. For example, in one of my playoff matchups, where Bowe was instrumental in helping me reach the postseason, I'm thinking about benching him for either Driver or Meachem. Both have better quarterbacks and better matchups since Bowe has to face the Chargers, who are No. 1 in pass defense. San Diego has only allowed six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and four to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Bowe was shutout last week by Bailey, and he could have another quiet outing, which is disappointing since he's having a breakout year. Again, we're not saying to bench Bowe outright in the majority of leagues, but it's something you might have to consider with Cassel's injury and the matchup.
Brandon Pettigrew (vs. GB): Pettigrew hasn't scored since Week 9 against the Jets, and he only had 36 receiving yards last week against Chicago. But he played well against the Packers in Week 4 with eight catches for 91 yards, and Green Bay has struggled with tight ends recently. Gonzalez had six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in Week 12, and Vernon Davis had four catches for 126 yards and a touchdown last week. Stanton is still a work in progress as the new starting quarterback for the Lions, but Pettigrew should continue to see a healthy amount of targets. He also has at least 100 yards or a touchdown in four of six home games this season.
Benjamin Watson (at BUF): Weather is going to play a factor in this game, but that might actually help Watson with short-area passes in the snow. He is coming off a tremendous game at Miami with 10 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, and he has done well since Jake Delhomme has returned as the starter in place of the injured Colt McCoy (ankle) with 14 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in the past two games. Watson has four touchdowns in eight career games against the Bills, and he scored twice against Buffalo last year in Week 1 when he was with New England. The Bills have locked down tight ends recently with no touchdowns allowed since Week 9, but they have still given up eight touchdowns to tight ends this season.
Chris Cooley (vs. TB): Cooley has a great history against the Bucs with 16 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the past three meetings. Cooley also continues to be involved on offense with 18 catches for 201 yards in his past three games, and Tampa Bay has struggled with tight ends recently since three have reached at least seven Fantasy points in the past four games. The only missing for Cooley is touchdowns with one on the season, but we'd still consider starting Cooley in the majority of leagues based on the matchup.
Sleeper alert: Ed Dickson (at HOU): Todd Heap (hamstring) is expected to miss this game after getting hurt against Pittsburgh last week, and Dickson has the chance to play well in this matchup. The Texans have struggled against tight ends all season with seven touchdowns allowed, and Flacco appears to have plenty of faith in Dickson, who had three catches for 21 yards against Pittsburgh. He finished the Steelers game second on the team in targets with seven – only two behind Anquan Boldin – once Heap got hurt. Keep an eye on Heap's status, but Dickson can be a quality replacement based on the matchup.
Dustin Keller (vs. MIA): The last time Keller faced the Dolphins in Week 3 in Miami he had six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, coach Rex Ryan reminded everyone that Keller was going to be a Fantasy star this year. "We laughed about it when we said to the Fantasy leaguers that they should take Dustin Keller in training camp," Ryan said at the time. I guess Ryan thought the season ended in Week 4 because that's the last time Keller reached double digits in Fantasy points. He has 17 Fantasy points in his past six games and has struggled since Santonio Holmes returned from his suspension. The Dolphins got beat up by Watson last week, but Keller and Watson are the only tight ends to score against them this year. It's hard to imagine Keller having a repeat performance of Week 3 based on his recent play.
Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. NYG): The Giants continue to lock down tight ends after holding Cooley to 61 receiving yards last week. He became just the fourth tight end to gain more than 50 receiving yards against the Giants and only two have scored touchdowns this season. Shiancoe hasn't scored in his past four games and struggled last week in a favorable matchup against the Bills with two catches for 17 yards. Shiancoe is just too inconsistent to trust at this point in the season, and the Vikings are dealing with issues at quarterback thanks to Brett Favre and his injured shoulder. With all the factors surrounding Shiancoe this week, our advice is to stay away.
Jeremy Shockey (vs. STL): Jimmy Graham has emerged as the best tight end for the Saints since Shockey went down with the rib injury in Week 9. He played last week at Cincinnati and finished with two catches for 28 yards on three targets while Graham had five catches for 72 yards. Both tight ends could struggle this week based on the Rams pass defense. They have only allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year, including matchups with Zach Miller, Cooley, Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow, Davis and Gonzalez. Pettigrew scored against St. Louis in Week 5 and Justin Peelle scored in Week 11. Shockey should not be considered a starting tight end in the majority of leagues based on his recent play and the matchup.
Bust alert: Joel Dreessen (vs. BAL): Dreessen has been a savior for many Fantasy owners with his play in place of the injured Owen Daniels (hamstring). He has two touchdowns in his past three games with at least six Fantasy points over that span. But Daniels is expected to return against the Ravens, which obviously hurts Dreessen's value even if he remains the starter. And it would be a difficult matchup for Dreessen anyway since Baltimore has allowed just two touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year and knocked out Heath Miller (concussion) last week. If Daniels is back at 100 percent then it's probably safe to cut Dreessen from your roster in the majority of leagues.
Falcons (at CAR): The Panthers and their inconsistent quarterback play have been good for Fantasy owners recently. In Week 11 against Baltimore, the Ravens scored two defensive touchdowns to go with two interceptions, three sacks and 13 points allowed. Then last week at Seattle, the Seahawks had one defensive touchdown with an interception, three sacks and 14 points allowed. Carolina has scored single digits in three games this season, and the Falcons defenders should be excited to face rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Consider the Falcons DST an excellent start in Week 14.
Other DSTs with good matchups: Chargers (vs. KC), 49ers (vs. SEA) and Broncos (at ARI)
Seahawks (at SF): The Seahawks DST was dominant last week against Carolina with a defensive touchdown, three sacks and an interception. Leon Washington almost made matters worse for the Panthers if he was able to finish off some long runs in the return game. But that was the Seahawks' first game with double digits in Fantasy points in their past three games and just their second since Week 8. San Francisco could be turnover prone also with Alex Smith back at quarterback, but it won't be the same type of production like we saw last week against the Panthers at home. If you used the Seahawks DST as a one-week replacement against Carolina you can throw them back onto the waiver wire for this matchup with the 49ers.
Neil Rackers (vs. BAL): The Ravens defense tends to give up scoring chances, just not touchdowns, which is why they are among the league leaders with 23 field goals allowed on 26 chances. By contrast, they are among the league leaders with fewest extra points allowed at 18. But seven kickers have made multiple field goals against the Ravens with three reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Rackers has at least six points in his past six games, and in his past two home games against San Diego and Tennessee he has 19 points. Since he's kicking indoors this week he should be considered a must-start Fantasy option.
Lawrence Tynes (at MIN): If you take away Nick Folk's five field goals against the Vikings in Week 5 then Minnesota has only allowed seven field goals on the season. Folk, Robbie Gould and Graham Gano are the only kickers to make multiple field goals against the Vikings, who did not allow a field goal in five games this year. Tynes has single digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games, and he's only had multiple field goals on the road three times this season. He also has just one game this season with more than two field goals in a game, which came in Week 12 against Jacksonville when he made three.
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