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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There's just something about Jonathan Stewart at this time of year. He likes coming through for Fantasy owners.
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. Williams is out again, and it appears like history is repeating itself with the way Stewart has played the past three games.
He had 12 carries for 98 yards in Week 12 at Cleveland, 21 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown at Seattle in Week 13 and 18 carries for 133 yards with a lost fumble last week against Atlanta. We had him as a starting option in each of the past two games, but we're going a step further this week by proclaiming him our Start of the Week.
Mike Goodson, who continues to share carries with Stewart, is also worth starting in Week 15 since he has 100 yards rushing or a touchdown in each of his past five games. The Panthers have an excellent matchup against Arizona at home, and both running backs should shine. The Cardinals are the worst team against opposing running backs in terms of Fantasy points allowed. They have given up 18 total touchdowns to opposing rushers, including eight in the past five games, and 14 have reached double digits in Fantasy points.
Stewart had 17 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns at Arizona last year, and he should have another big game this time around. Consider him a potential No. 1 Fantasy running back, and Goodson should be considered a No. 2 option.
But this is Stewart's time, and Fantasy owners can count on him having another successful close to the year. He likes to help us all during the holiday season.
|Player||Fantasy Points (projected)||Fantasy Points (actual)||Start percentage|
|Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts||10||21||62|
|Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers||8||17||47|
|Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers||10||11||39|
|Steve Johnson, WR, Bills||7||4||81|
|Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals||7||3||49|
|Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs||8||0||85|
|Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers||10||0||56|
|Robert Meachem, WR, Saints||10||0||33|
|Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos||18||-2||55|
|Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants||8||17||55|
|Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals||7||7||80|
|Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals||6||7||47|
| Our favorite sleeper in Week 14 was ... Tim Hightower, who had 24 Fantasy points and was started in just 25 percent of leagues. He had more Fantasy points than Arian Foster (12) Ray Rice (11) and Peyton Hillis (nine). |
* -- Start of the Week
Matt Schaub (at TEN): Schaub was our Start of the Week the last time he faced the Titans in Week 12, and he responded with 19 Fantasy points. He followed that performance with 21 points at Philadelphia in Week 13 and then 31 points last week against Baltimore. It's easily his best three-game stretch of the season, and we look for him to stay hot in his rematch with Tennessee. It should be a fun matchup with Round 2 of Andre Johnson vs. Cortland Finnegan, but Schaub is spreading the ball around to Jacoby Jones, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels, who looked great in last week's return from a five-game absence from a hamstring injury. This is the last time you'll see Schaub in this column in 2010 because he's back as a must-start Fantasy quarterback.
Matt Ryan (at SEA): There should be some concern here with weather since the forecast Sunday calls for rain. And Ryan outdoors this year has been mediocre at best, averaging 224 passing yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions in five games. But taking that into consideration, the matchup against the Seahawks is enticing. Seattle just allowed Alex Smith to pass for 255 yards and three touchdowns, and the Seahawks have allowed at least three passing touchdowns in three of their past four games. For the season, Seattle has allowed eight quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns, including three at home. Don't be surprised if the Falcons, as usual, lean on Michael Turner here, but Ryan should still get quality production as long as the weather isn't brutal.
Jon Kitna (vs. WAS): This could be Kitna's last start since Dallas owner Jerry Jones said Tony Romo (collarbone) could return in Week 16 at Arizona. We're not that optimistic, but if that's the case then look for Kitna to go out on a high note. He's playing well coming into this matchup with at least 19 Fantasy points in three of his past five games with nine touchdowns and four interceptions over that span, and the Redskins secondary has struggled at times this year with seven quarterbacks reaching at least 17 Fantasy points. Kitna played well last week against the Eagles in his first game without Dez Bryant (ankle), and I'm starting Kitna over Ben Roethlisberger and Jay Cutler in one of my playoff matchups this week.
Josh Freeman (vs. DET): Mr. Consistency was at it again in Week 14 with 17 Fantasy points at Washington. He now has nine games this season with at least 17 Fantasy points, and he's about as safe as it gets for those low-end Fantasy starters this week with a home matchup against the Lions. Detroit has allowed seven quarterbacks to score multiple touchdowns, and the Lions have allowed 10 touchdowns with two interceptions to opposing passers in the past five games. Freeman has emerging targets in Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, who should be considered a sleeper this week in deeper formats, and the reliable Kellen Winslow. On top of that, Freeman continues to make plays with his legs, averaging 20 rushing yards a game in his past five outings. With Tampa Bay fighting for playoff contention, consider Freeman a quality starting option.
Kerry Collins (vs. HOU): Collins could be the one player who helps Fantasy owners advance in the playoffs or ends their season with a poor performance despite high expectations. We're counting on Collins to come through, and I'm starting him over Roethlisberger and Kyle Orton in one of my playoff matchups. Collins has a fantastic matchup this week against the Texans, who allow the most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and just lost defensive end Mario Williams (hernia) for the season. Collins is also coming off his best game of the season with 27 Fantasy points against Indianapolis, and his entire receiving corps is healthy with Kenny Britt's return last week from a three-game absence with a hamstring injury. The Texans have 11 games with quarterbacks passing for multiple touchdowns, and Collins is worth trusting this week as a starting option based on the matchup.
Sleeper alert: Carson Palmer (vs. CLE): Palmer is a risky starting option for any Fantasy owner at this point in the season, but he does have a good matchup and favorable history against the Browns. Eight times this season the Browns have allowed a quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns, including Palmer in Week 4 when he had 371 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. It's one of only four games where he did not throw an interception, and he likes facing Cleveland with an average of 245 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions in his past five meetings. And despite throwing 18 interceptions this season, he does have 21 touchdowns and eight games with at least 17 Fantasy points. We can see Palmer playing well in this matchup, and he's worth using as a starting option in deeper formats. For more sleeper quarterbacks, including Jason Campbell and Matt Hasselbeck, click here.
Kyle Orton (at OAK): We're getting closer to the Tim Tebow era with every bad pass Orton throws, and he's made a lot of them the past two games against Kansas City and Arizona. Orton has combined for 283 passing yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions with two fumbles against the Chiefs and Cardinals, giving him zero Fantasy points over that span. In his past four road games he has two touchdowns and five interceptions, and the noise is building to let Tebow play. We don't expect that to happen this week, but Tebow could be in there in Week 16 at home against Houston. This week it will be a lot of Knowshon Moreno, who is the only Denver player worth starting in the majority of Fantasy leagues.
Mark Sanchez (at PIT): The downward spiral for Sanchez should continue this week at the Steelers, who have to be salivating watching tape of the Jets quarterback the past three games. Since a tremendous three-game stretch against Detroit, Cleveland and Houston, Sanchez has come undone against Cincinnati, New England and Miami with one touchdown and five interceptions. He also has an interception in eight straight games with 12 over that span, and the Steelers have allowed just three passing touchdowns with six interceptions in their past three games. This performance could be ugly, and the only saving grace for Sanchez could be Santonio Holmes going back to Pittsburgh. We like Holmes in this matchup, but the rest of the Jets should struggle.
David Garrard (at IND): Garrard is coming off a solid performance last week against Oakland with 25 Fantasy points, and the Colts just allowed Collins to have his best game of the year. Then why is Garrard considered as a sit? It's where he's playing. Lucas Oil Stadium has not been kind to opposing quarterbacks this season. Eli Manning, Matt Cassel, Schaub, Palmer, Philip Rivers and Kitna have combined for six touchdowns and five interceptions while averaging just 194 passing yards. Manning and Palmer are the only quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns at Indianapolis, and Cassel and Rivers had no touchdowns. Now, some of that lack of production is a fluke with Rivers and Kitna spending a lot of time on the sidelines thanks to their defense, but Garrard also has not played well at this venue. In two trips he has combined for just 289 passing yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis seem a step faster on this surface, and the Jaguars will likely rely heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew in this matchup.
Alex Smith (at SD): Smith played well last week against Seattle, but this is a much tougher matchup. The Chargers allow the fewest Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and have done a great job in the past five games, allowing just four touchdowns with five interceptions in matchups against Schaub, Orton, Peyton Manning and Campbell. At home, the Chargers have allowed six touchdowns and seven interceptions, and Smith has struggled on the road this year. In four games at Seattle, Kansas City, Atlanta and Carolina, Smith has three touchdowns and five interceptions. Smith might be able to finish the season strong at St. Louis in Week 16 and against Arizona in Week 17, but he should struggle in this matchup against the San Diego secondary.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. NYJ): If Roethlisberger was 100 percent healthy for this matchup you might consider starting him. But since he injured his foot in Week 12 at Buffalo he hasn't been the same dynamic quarterback. In his past three games against the Bills, Baltimore and Cincinnati he has just one touchdown pass and is averaging 12 Fantasy points over that span in a standard league. His offensive line continues to let him down, and the Jets should be in attack mode. New York just lost another member of its secondary with Eric Smith (concussion) out, and Roethlisberger will likely be throwing quite a bit (he's still averaging 35 pass attempts the past three games). But the Jets have only been abused by Tom Brady over the past five games and should be prepared for this matchup. Consider Roethlisberger almost like another bust alert.
Bust alert: Joe Flacco (vs. NO): Flacco has become a standout Fantasy quarterback in the majority of leagues this season, and he's been great at home. But this should be a week where you consider benching him. Even though he has at least 21 Fantasy points in six of his past eight games and nine total touchdowns and one interception in his past five home outings, the Saints have been great against opposing quarterbacks. New Orleans has only allowed nine total touchdowns to opposing passers, and Ryan is the lone quarterback to score multiple touchdowns with two in Week 3. Flacco had 15 Fantasy points in his last home game against Pittsburgh in Week 13, and that's the type of performance you can expect from him in this matchup. This should be a game where Ray Rice and even Willis McGahee lead the way for the Ravens.
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Brandon Jacobs (vs. PHI): Jacobs has run well the past three games, and there's no reason to think he should slow down this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia did hold Jacobs to five carries for 10 yards and one catch for 22 yards in Week 11, but he's been almost unstoppable since. In his past three games, Jacobs has 36 carries for 306 yards and three touchdowns against Jacksonville, Washington and Minnesota. The Eagles are without middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (elbow), but even with him, Philadelphia has struggled to stop Matt Forte, Arian Foster and Felix Jones the past three games with all reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Look for another game with Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw running well.
Ryan Torain (at DAL): It was great to see Torain healthy last week because he reminded us once again what he's capable of doing when he's on the field. Three times this season Torain has had at least 20 carries -- Week 6 against Indianapolis, Week 7 at Chicago and Week 14 against Tampa Bay -- and he's responded with double digits in Fantasy points in each outing. He has four games with double digits in Fantasy points for the season, and he should run well again this week against the Cowboys. Dallas has allowed four touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past three games with Chris Ivory, Javarris James and LeSean McCoy reaching double digits in Fantasy points. We feel that as long as Torain is healthy he is worth using as at least a flex option in the majority of leagues, including this week.
Tim Hightower (at CAR): Hightower has to be giddy about this matchup. The last three running backs to face the Panthers -- Peyton Hillis, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Turner -- have each scored three touchdowns in a game. Will that happen for Hightower this week? Probably not, but he is coming off a career performance with 18 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Denver last week. He also has played well of late with at least eight Fantasy points in four of his past five games, and he should continue to run well against Carolina. Not only have the Panthers been gashed the past three weeks, but six running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points over the past five games. Hightower could be next, and even Beanie Wells is worth consideration in deep formats if he's healthy enough for this game.
LeGarrette Blount (vs. DET): Blount should make up for last week's disappointment when he was held to four Fantasy points at Washington. And the Lions run defense won't play as well as last week when they held the Packers running backs to 31 rushing yards. Prior to that, Detroit had allowed three running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points in two games against Chicago and New England. Blount has run well at home with 39 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games against Carolina and Atlanta. The Bucs are leaning on Blount with an average of 19 carries over his past five games, and he should get plenty of work this week. Consider him a starting option in the majority of standard leagues.
Cedric Benson (vs. CLE): There's no place like home for Benson, who has done well this season running in the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium. In his past five home games against Tampa Bay, Miami, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New Orleans, Benson has 105 carries for 440 yards and four touchdowns, including a three-game scoring streak. The Browns have allowed a running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points in four of the past five games, and last week Cleveland struggled with Fred Jackson, who had 29 carries for 112 yards. Benson did not run well against the Browns in Week 4 with 15 carries for 60 yards, but that was in Cleveland. He should do much better this time around with the game in Cincinnati.
Sleeper alert: Javarris James (vs. JAC): Joseph Addai (neck) and Mike Hart (ankle) continue to deal with injuries, which has allowed James and Donald Brown to share the backfield for the Colts. Brown is considered the starter, but James has more Fantasy value with his ability to score touchdowns with six in his past six games. He has another favorable matchup in Week 15 against Jacksonville, which struggled to stop Darren McFadden last week and has allowed nine running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points this season. James had 17 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown at Tennessee last week, and he should be able to reach at least 10 Fantasy points in this matchup. For more sleeper running backs, including Jahvid Best, Ronnie Brown and Ryan Mathews, click here.
LaDainian Tomlinson (at PIT): We might be watching the end of Tomlinson's career as he creeps to the finish line of this season. And it hasn't been pretty the past three weeks. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 6, and in his past three games against Cincinnati, New England and Miami, he has 42 carries for only 145 yards. He has combined for just 14 Fantasy points over that span, and this week he's facing the Steelers. Pittsburgh has only allowed one rushing touchdown since Week 4, and Tomlinson just lost Damien Woody (knee) for the season. Shonn Greene continues to share carries with Tomlinson, but both running backs should struggle in this matchup.
Chris Ivory (at BAL): Ivory's window as a starting Fantasy option closed last week when he got injured against the Rams. He was our Start of the Week in Week 14, but he left in the second quarter with a hamstring injury after seven carries for 47 yards. He likely would have finished with a quality stat line after scoring five touchdowns in his previous three games, but we'll never know now. This week, he faces a tough Ravens defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown in their past five games. He also has to deal with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush being another week closer to full strength after Thomas finally returned last week, and Ivory will be playing at less than 100 percent.
Marshawn Lynch (vs. ATL): The Falcons run defense has completely fallen apart the past two weeks against Tampa Bay and Carolina with Blount, Stewart and Goodson each reaching double digits in Fantasy points. But it's hard to expect Lynch to follow suit. He only has two games with double digits in Fantasy points in his past eight games, and that was against porous run defenses in Arizona and Carolina. Lynch had 10 carries for 29 yards last week at San Francisco and just isn't trustworthy at this point in the season even with the Falcons making the trip across the country. Look for Seattle to rely on its passing game in this matchup, and Lynch might only be worth using one more time this year in Week 16 at Tampa Bay.
Brian Westbrook (at SD): Westbrook has been great since taking over for Frank Gore (hip) with two games with double digits in Fantasy points in three outings, and he was stellar against Seattle last week with 110 total yards and a touchdown. But he caught a 62-yard touchdown against the Seahawks with just nine carries. The Chargers defense is a much tougher matchup even though they have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs. Last week, San Diego held Jamaal Charles to 10 carries for 40 yards, and Westbrook could face a similar fate. He's still sharing touches with Anthony Dixon, and Westbrook, who missed practice time this week, could struggle on short rest with the game Thursday night.
Thomas Jones (at STL): Jones hit a new low last week at San Diego with three carries for 1 yard. He will likely be more involved this week, but the Chiefs offense could struggle again if Matt Cassel (appendectomy) remains out. Jones also hasn't done a good job on the road recently. He only has one touchdown on the road this season, and in his past three games at Oakland, Denver and Seattle he has combined for 11 Fantasy points. The Rams have been suspect at times in their run defense this season, but they've only allowed six touchdowns to opposing running backs. Charles is still worth starting in the majority of leagues, but it appears as if Jones' best days are behind him.
Bust alert: Fred Jackson (at MIA): Jackson has been fantastic this season, especially over the past five games. During that time he has four games with double digits in Fantasy points, including three with at least 21 points. But this week he's facing another tough challenge with the Dolphins defense. Miami has allowed only two rushing touchdowns since Week 4, and the Dolphins have shut down Peyton Hillis and Tomlinson the past two games. It's hard to bench Jackson in the majority of leagues based on his potential, especially as a receiver out of the backfield, but we would only consider Jackson as a flex option this week. This should be a tough matchup all around for the Bills offense, including Jackson.
Deion Branch (vs. GB): Tom Brady is the best player in the NFL right now, and Fantasy owners should consider starting all of his targets. Branch has been one of his favorite options with at least seven targets in four of his past five games. He has at least seven Fantasy points in every game over that span, and in his past three outings he has 56 Fantasy points against Detroit, the Jets and Chicago. Even though the Packers have a solid secondary -- so did the Jets and Bears -- Branch should remain hot thanks to Brady.
Hakeem Nicks (vs. PHI): Nicks looked great in Week 14 against Minnesota in his return from a two-game absence with Compartment Syndrome in his lower leg. He had seven catches for 96 yards on nine targets against the Vikings, and the Giants will need another effort like that against the Eagles with Steve Smith (knee) out for the year and Mario Manningham (hip) at less than 100 percent. Nicks struggled in the first matchup with Philadelphia in Week 11 with six catches for 65 yards, but he had four catches for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles at home last year. Asante Samuel (knee) could return for this game, which would make things tough on Nicks, but Philadelphia has allowed five touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past five games. That's a good thing for Nicks, who has nine touchdowns on the season.
Kenny Britt (vs. HOU): Britt returned from his three-game absence with a hamstring injury for Week 14 against Indianapolis and had four catches for 39 yards and a lost fumble. But he looked healthy and had eight targets from Collins, which is a good sign he's ready to be used again as a starting Fantasy option. This is a great matchup for him against the Texans, who are second behind the Cowboys (20) with the most touchdowns allowed to wide receivers this season with 18. Last week, Derrick Mason had two touchdowns against Houston, and Britt scored against the Texans in their last meeting in 2009. He missed the first matchup at Houston in Week 12 since he was hurt, but he should make up for it this time around.
Brandon Marshall (vs. BUF): I know what you're thinking. This guy has been terrible all year long, how can I trust him in the Fantasy playoffs? Well, you should show a little faith here since he's facing the Bills at home. Marshall returned last week at the Jets from his two-game absence with a hamstring injury and scored a touchdown, just his second of the season. In Week 1 at Buffalo he had eight catches for 53 yards on 13 targets, and he should be heavily involved again with Brian Hartline (finger) on injured reserve. The Bills have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year, including five in the past five games. Marshall has the chance to finish the season strong with this matchup against Buffalo and next week's home game against Detroit, and he should be started as at least a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver in the majority of leagues.
Mike Williams (vs. DET): Williams was terrible last week against the Redskins with one catch for 15 yards, but he should rebound this week. He still led the team in targets against Washington with five, so don't panic that Freeman isn't looking in his direction in favor of Benn, who had four targets. The Lions have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, including seven in the past five games. Williams should continue to remain active as a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver this week based on the matchup at home.
Sleeper alert: Mike Williams (vs. ATL): All signs point toward Williams returning for this matchup against the Falcons after he sat out last week at San Francisco with an ankle injury. He's also dealt with a nagging foot problem, but when healthy, he's played well, recording four games with double digits in Fantasy points in six outings in October and November. The Falcons are among the league leaders in touchdowns allowed to opposing wide receivers with 15, including five in the past five games, and 12 have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Hopefully he doesn't suffer a setback prior to Sunday, but Williams should be useful as a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver this week, especially in leagues where receptions count. For more sleeper wide receivers, including Earl Bennett, Jacoby Jones and Robert Meachem, click here.
Steve Johnson (at MIA): Before Steve Johnson became Steve Johnson he struggled in his first matchup with the Dolphins this year in Week 1 with three catches for 40 yards. He has since become a solid Fantasy option for several weeks, but he has fallen back to a wide receiver that is no longer a must-start option. In his past three games against Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Cleveland, Johnson has just 14 catches for 146 yards and no touchdowns. He should see a lot of cornerback Vontae Davis in this matchup, and Miami has been stellar in its pass defense recently. Jacoby Ford is the only wide receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points in the past five games, and only two wide receivers have scored against the Dolphins (Nate Washington was the other) over that span. Johnson also could see increased attention from Miami's secondary with Lee Evans (ankle) out for the season.
Michael Crabtree (at SD): The 49ers put on an offensive display last week against Seattle with 40 points, but Crabtree was held to only one catch for 1 yard on five targets in Alex Smith's first start since Week 7. The two will likely improve in this matchup with the Chargers but not to the point where you should consider starting Crabtree in the majority of leagues. San Diego has only allowed six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and four to reach double digits in Fantasy points. And Crabtree played better with Troy Smith this season than Alex Smith since he has six games with five Fantasy points or less in eight starts with the latter. By comparison, Crabtree had three games with double digits in Fantasy points in five starts with Troy Smith.
Brandon Lloyd (at OAK): The Broncos passing game, which was stellar early in the season, has fallen apart of late, and Lloyd has suffered. He has just five catches for 63 yards in his past two games at Kansas City and Arizona, and now he's facing a difficult matchup with the Raiders. In the first meeting with Oakland in Week 7, Lloyd was held to one catch for 46 yards in his matchup with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Lloyd should see plenty of Asomugha again, and with the way Orton is playing and the potential of Tebow getting increased reps, it should be easy to shy away from using Lloyd this week.
Donald Driver (at NE): Greg Jennings is still worth using even if Matt Flynn starts in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers (concussion). While it's not ideal to have Jennings in your lineup with Rodgers out, the Patriots also could be without cornerback Devin McCourty, and you should assume the Packers will be playing from behind in this game, which should help Jennings in garbage time. But as for Driver, you should sit him even if Rodgers is able to play. We liked Driver last week in his matchup with the Lions based on his history against Detroit, but he shouldn't be started against the Patriots. Driver has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 4, and it happened on a crazy catch and run against San Francisco in Week 13. He also has just one touchdown on the road this season in Week 1 at Philadelphia, and the Patriots defense has shut down the Jets and Chicago in consecutive games.
Sidney Rice (vs. CHI): It's a risk to use Rice with Brett Favre as the starting quarterback. It's a tougher gamble when it's Tarvaris Jackson. But when it's Joe Webb or even Patrick Ramsey? No thanks. Favre's streak of consecutive games played ended at 297 in Week 14 when he sat due to a shoulder injury. Jackson started against the Giants and left the game with turf toe. That means Webb, a rookie, could make his first NFL start against a Bears defense that has played well this year. The only Minnesota player we would consider starting this week is Adrian Peterson, and even he could struggle. This could be a tough week for the Vikings, and you should use caution with Rice when setting your lineup.
Bust alert: Mike Wallace (vs. NYJ): Darrelle Revis is ready to add Wallace to his list. Already this season, Revis has shut down Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Terrell Owens, and Wallace should be next. Wallace says he isn't worried about facing Revis, but Fantasy owners should be concerned. They should also take note that Wallace hasn't scored a touchdown in his past three games, and the Steelers passing game could take a hit in this matchup. The Jets looked lost against the Patriots in Week 13 and allowed Marshall to score last week, but this is a much better matchup for this defense. And Revis should rise to the occasion to shut down Wallace, so Fantasy owners should consider sitting him for this game.
Owen Daniels (at TEN): Daniels looked great in his first game back from a five-game absence with a hamstring injury last week against Baltimore with five catches for 91 yards on 11 targets. He has the chance to carry that momentum over to this game against the Titans, and Daniels scored at Tennessee last year with six catches for 72 yards. As long as Daniels is healthy he has the chance to help Fantasy owners, but he's dealt with knee and hamstring problems all season. But based on his performance against the Ravens it appears safe to consider him a starting option again in the majority of leagues.
Zach Miller (vs. DEN): Miller looked healthy last week at Jacksonville for the first time since Week 7 because he has been dealing with a nagging foot injury. Miller had four catches for 68 yards on five targets, and now he gets a favorable matchup with the Broncos. Denver was his opponent in Week 7, and Miller had three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, which was the last time he scored. He has two touchdowns in five meetings with the Broncos, and Denver is among the league leaders with seven touchdowns allowed to opposing tight ends, including four in the past five games.
Kevin Boss (vs. PHI): Boss has four touchdowns in his past six games, and he should see a boost in targets and production with Smith out. One of the games where he didn't score was against the Eagles in Week 11 when he finished with two catches for 22 yards, but Philadelphia has struggled with tight ends all year. The Eagles have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including four in the past five weeks, and five have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Boss also has three touchdowns in his past five games with the Eagles and should be considered a starter in the majority of formats.
Sleeper alert: Bo Scaife (at HOU): Scaife is coming off a great game against the Colts in Week 14 with four catches for 20 yards and two touchdowns and has a great matchup against Houston. Scaife connected well with Collins and should do well against the Texans, who have struggled with tight ends all season. It might be hard to trust Scaife in the Fantasy playoffs, but for those owners worried about Antonio Gates (foot) not playing, Scaife could be a quality replacement. We consider him a low-end starter in standard leagues and a No. 1 option in deeper formats.
Dustin Keller (at PIT): The Steelers have allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, but only two tight ends have scored with Benjamin Watson in Week 6 and Rob Gronkowski with three in Week 10. Otherwise the Steelers have shut down Tony Gonzalez, Winslow, Todd Heap and Miller, among others. Keller has just 20 Fantasy points in his past seven games and has struggled since Holmes returned from his suspension. It's surprising that Keller is still started in any leagues at this point in the season.
Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. CHI): The Bears have only allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season with Brent Celek in Week 12 and Gronkowski last week. Otherwise they have shut down Brandon Pettigrew twice, Chris Cooley and Boss, among others. Shiancoe is part of that group since he was held to four catches for 29 yards against Chicago in Week 10, but with his quarterback situation a mess and the difficult matchup, we wouldn't consider Shiancoe in any leagues this week.
Jimmy Graham (at BAL): Graham has plenty of potential to be a future star for Fantasy owners, but this isn't a good week to start him. Graham does have at least seven Fantasy points in three of his past five games, but he's facing a tough matchup with the Ravens. Baltimore has only allowed two touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and the Ravens should be fired up at home after their defense struggled last week at Houston. Graham is still sharing playing time with Jeremy Shockey, and he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 9, which was his only one of the season. He's a sleeper for 2011, but he should be considered a bust in Week 15.
Bust alert: Benjamin Watson (at CIN): The Bengals might not have much to play for this season, but the defense has done well against tight ends, which is a trend that could continue this week. No tight end has reached double digits in Fantasy points against the Bengals, and only four have gained more than 50 receiving yards, including Watson in Week 4 when he had six catches for 60 yards. Watson gets Colt McCoy back at quarterback this week, and it's hard to gauge which version of Watson will show up. He has three games this season with double digits in Fantasy points and seven with four Fantasy points or less. Based on the matchup, we'll pencil him in for about five Fantasy points. He is not worth starting in the majority of leagues.
Dolphins (vs. BUF): The Dolphins defense has quietly played well over the past five games, especially in Week 14 at the Jets. Miami held New York to six points with an interception, fumble recovery and five sacks. Cameron Wake (14 sacks) is among the best pass rushers in the league this season, and the Dolphins have solidified their secondary with Yeremiah Bell and Vontae Davis leading the way (all they need now is Sean Smith to hold onto the ball). They haven't allowed more than 17 points in each of their past five games with double digits in Fantasy points in standard leagues in every game over that span. The Bills offense has also struggled recently with 20 points or less in six of their past seven games, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has seven interceptions and 11 sacks in those outings. Miami also beat Buffalo 15-10 in Week 1, and the Dolphins need to rely on their defense to remain in playoff contention.
Other DSTs with good matchups: Rams (vs. KC), Raiders (vs. DEN) and Patriots (vs. GB)
Packers (at NE): The Patriots score in wind, they score in snow, they score all over. They lose Randy Moss and don't skip a beat, and Brady is running away with the MVP award. He hasn't thrown an interception in 268 attempts over eight games and now has three games in a row with at least 325 passing yards and two touchdowns. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are running well, and Branch and Wes Welker are playing at a high level with New England averaging 39 points in the past five games. The Packers DST has been stellar all season behind Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, but this is the best offense they will have faced all year. It might be a good idea to sit the Packers this week with the Fantasy playoffs on the line.
Jay Feely (at CAR): He's worth starting this week on the hope the Cardinals call more trick plays for him. Feely, in case you missed it, made 5 of 6 field goals last week and four extra points against Denver. He also had a touchdown run against the Broncos on a 23-yard fake field goal for 27 Fantasy points. Feely now has four games in a row with multiple field goals, and the Panthers have allowed eight kickers to make multiple field goals this season, including six at home. In 2006, Feely made two field goals and three extra points at Carolina when he was with the Giants.
Olindo Mare (vs. ATL): Since Mare had 31 Fantasy points in consecutive games against Arizona and New Orleans in Week 10 and 11 he has struggled. In his past three games against Kansas City, Carolina and San Francisco he has combined for 16 Fantasy points with two missed field goals on four attempts. The Falcons come into this game allowing the fewest Fantasy points to opposing kickers. Mike Nugent in Week 7 is the last kicker to make multiple field goals against Atlanta, and only two kickers have accomplished that feat this season with Jeff Reed in Week 1. In the past six games against Tampa Bay, Baltimore, St. Louis, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Carolina, the Falcons have allowed only four field goals on four attempts.
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