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Something wack happened to the original posting from Friday, so here it is again..
OK, folks. It’s Week 15 and that’s playoff time for all of us. If your league isn’t at the playoffs yet, then you need to join a deeper league, because for the rest of us, it’s win or go home. Beat your opponent or get the f*** out. So making sure you’ve optimized your lineup in the smartest possible way is absolutely imperative. So let’s not waste any more time with these pleasantries and get right to it.
Again, start your studs. That’s why you drafted them in the first place. Sure, maybe one or two let you down, but if you’re making the right choices, then some of your role players will help even things out. The stats and sits you are about to read, remember, are the role players. I may tell you to sit a relatively high-end guy, but I will never suggest that you start someone over a high-end player just because of a match-up. If Calvin Johnson’s match-up is worse than that of Jacoby Jones, so be it. You’re still starting Calvin. If you don’t, then go back and re-read the fourth sentence of the opening paragraph.
Now let’s get to it…
E.J. Manuel, BUF – So let me start off here by say that this particular pick here is for really deep leagues or two-quarterback leagues. No matter how tasty the numbers make this match-up look, you still have to be smart and know that if you’re pinning your fantasy hopes on Manuel, well, you’ve got more than just a screw loose. Still, the Jaguars are giving up 256 passing yards per game, have allowed 25 touchdowns through the air, have a mediocre pass rush (just 25 sacks on the year), and opposing quarterbackls this season have put together a cumulative passer rating of 96.5 on these clowns. Sure, they’ve been a little better as of late, but if Manuel can routinely find Steve Johnson, Robert Woods and Scott Chandler downfield, the Bills could put up some points here.
Matt Ryan, ATL – I recommended Ryan last week against Green Bay, and while he didn’t exactly bring his A-game, he still held his own and was more than just a serviceable quarterback. This week, the stakes are raised even higher as he’s facing another horrible pass defense and at 3-10 on the year, he needs to show that he is the right man to lead this team back to the playoffs and that the six-year, $113M contract that he signed in July isn’t going to be some ginormous albatross around the neck of the organization. The Redskins are giving up an average of 257 passing yards per game and opposing quarterbacks have a 101.2 passer rating against them, second-highest in the league. Matty Ice will be in town Sunday, so get ready to see him.
Tony Romo, DAL – What better way for a player to tell his owner to stick it up his ass, than to come out on Sunday and put up a killer game with killer stats? Well, that’s what Romo is going to do to Jerry Jones this weekend; sort of an ‘up yours, old man” when he faces the Packers this week. Forget the whole December record crap Jones is muttering around the retirement community. Romo should be just fine against a team that has allowed 24 passing touchdowns and is giving up an average of 247 passing yards per game. With the game in Big D, the Cowboys should do just fine….and believe me, I hate the Cowboys…..so much…..So if I’m saying Romo will succeed, well then…
Eli Manning, NYG – The season has been an all-out disaster for Baby Manning and with a match-up against the Seahawks, it’s only going to get worse. Seattle is giving up just 176 passing yards per game and has allowed just 14 touchdowns through the air this year. Take that, the cumulative 69.4 passer rating of all quarterbacks who have faced Seattle have accrued , and just the all-around garbage year Eli has had, and that spells fantasy nightmare. Spare yourself the NFL’s version of Freddy Krueger gashing up your body and don’t start Eli.
Mike Glennon, TB -- He’s had himself a very fine year this season since taking over under center in Tampa, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to need to ride the pine suring your playoff match-up this week. The 49ers defense just keeps getting stronger each week, and from the secondary to the linebackers to the defensive line, they are tremendously talented, crazy fast, and are looking to dole out some punishment. Thank him very much for what he’s done for you to date, but he needs to be on the bench this week.
Tom Brady, NE – OK, so here’s one of those situations where if you have a good back-up….not an E.J. Manuel with a good match-up….I mean a legitimate alternative, you just might be better off using him this week. The Dolphins defense, in my opinion is highly underrated and could give Brady fits all day. Especially with him not having his on-field crutch, Rob Gronkowski. Sure, he’s got Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but his play without Gronk was less than spectacular throughout the year regardless of who his other receivers were. Some of you will simply just have to go with him due to a lack of other options, and that’s fine. Just make sure you make some smart decisions with the rest of your starters.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN – For the second week in a row I’m recommending the Law Firm here. Last week he totally lived up to my hype, rushing for 48 yards and finding the end zone not once, but twice. He’s now scored three touchdowns in his last two games and is ready to do it all again this week when he faces a suspect Steelers run defense who ranks 23rd in the league and gives up 120.2 yards per game. He’ll obviously share time with Giovani Bernard, but the Firm will see more than his fair share of carries and should also get most, if not all, the goal-line work.
Pierre Thomas, NO – When was the last time you saw anyone recommend Thomas for a fantasy playoff game? But lo and behold, here I am preaching his use this week against the Rams. The Rams may rank ninth against the run and allow just 108.8 yards per game, but they’ve given up 15 rushing touchdowns and if you want to know how that fares in the NFL spectrum of touchdowns allowed, it’s definitely on the high side. I see the Saints going up big and early in this one, leaving the second half for Thomas to run the ball while Drew Brees and the receivers are sitting on the sidelines sipping Hurricanes and listening to Galactic’s Live at Tipitina’s on their iPods.
Chris Ogbonnaya, CLE – There’s a little piece inside me that just died actually typing his name, but if you’re desperate for a flex play this week….and I mean desperate…then Ogbonnaya just might be worth a look this week. The Bears run defense is beyond atrocious (even though last week DeMarco Murray made them look like the ’85 Bears) and they allow 157 rushing yards per game with 16 rushing touchdowns allowed. With Willis McGahee out and Fozzy Whittaker lined up only to work as a change-of-pace back, Ogbonnaya should see a fair amount of touches this week and should be able to find some running room. Remember, this is just a suggested flex play. Don’t go benching someone better because of this match-up.
Andre Brown, NYG – This simply comes at a terrible time of year as Brown has actually proven to be a legitimate rushing threat. But between that giant meatsack Peyton Hillis poaching goal line work and the Seattle run defense limiting the opposition to just 111.5 yards per game with just four rushing touchdowns all year, things aren’t exactly looking so good. Given the fact that Eili is also a ‘sit’ of mine, it just doesn’t look good for any of the G-men this week. Well, except maybe the punter.
Chris Johnson, TEN – Who would have thought that a match-up with Arizona would cause you to sit guys down during the fantasy playoffs? It just feels odd, but I guess that’s what parity in the NFL does for us. So not only are we back to worrying about how much work Shonn Greene will be poaching throughout the game, but now the Titans are facing a Cardinals run defense that ranks third in the league and is allowing just 84.5 yards per game and has given up just five rushing touchdowns all year. They even rank well (fifth) against running back pass plays, so the hopes of taking it to the outside are quickly dashed as well. Hopefully you’ve got other options in mind.
Chris Ivory, NYJ – The Jets running back has actually been a fairly decent options at times, so long as you’re playing the right match-ups. But this week against the Panthers, is not one of those times. Carolina’s run defense is ranked second in the league, but gives up the fewest yards per game (79.4) and has allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns (three) this season. Ivory has definitely struggled against the better run defenses out there and this week looks to be no exception.
Steve Smith, CAR – OK, so I’ve been dogging Smith all year long, but considering the numbers he’s produced all year, a little dogging is certainly justified. He still runs his mouth like a high-end No. 1 guy, but he certainly doesn’t play like one anymore. Until this week, that is. The Jets pass defense is ugly. No two ways about it. Ugh-lee! They give up an average of 255 passing yards per game, have allowed 25 touchdowns through the air, and rank 24th in the league against No. 1 receivers, giving up an average of 91.4 yards per game to them. If there was ever a time to start Smith outside of PPR play, it would be now.
Riley Cooper, PHI – Once you get past the part about owning and starting a racist on your fantasy team, Cooper makes for a solid play. He’s been a veritable no-show over these last three games, but the match-up here against the Vikings is just too damn tasty to pass up. Minnesota is giving up 282 passing yards per game and 70.6 of those yards are coming from opposing No. 2 receivers, against whom the Vikings rank 26th in the league. They’ve also given up 29 passing touchdowns this season, so I fully expect that number to go up and Cooper to have a hand in it.
Brian Hartline, MIA – Normally considered just a possession receiver whose value is really limited to PPR play, Hartline is stepping out a little more lately and producing a little more than just high catch totals for low yards. He’s found the ed zone in each of his last two games and now faces a Patriots team that ranks 30th in the league against opposing No. 2 receivers and is allowing an average of 53.6 yards per game to them which, is actually a little on the high side as well. The Pats will probably go up early which should help keep Ryan Tannehill in a passing state of mind. And those passes certainly aren’t all going to Mike Wallace.
Kendall Wright, TEN – Always a great sneaky play, but definitely not this week as he faces a tough Arizona defense that ranks third in the league against the pass. The Cardinals actually rank first in the NFL against No. 1 wide receivers and are limiting them to just 55.4 yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to have a tough time dodging that pass rush and it’s going to be tough for him to find Wright most of the time. Normally a solid play in PPR leagues, he’s not going to rebound in nstyle from last week’s debacle so keep him on the bench this time.
Brandon Marshall, CHI – Whaaaat? Sit Marshall? Come on, man! Really? Well, again, you certainly shouldn’t be sitting him unless you have another high-end receiver to play in his stead, but if you don’t, it’s just a matter of adjusting your expectations. Things just aren’t looking so hot for him based on his upcoming match-up. Sure, Joe Haden may be slowing down a bit here in the latter part of the season, but he’s still one of, if not the, best cover corners out there and he’ll be all over Marshall like white on rice. Haden and the Browns rank third in the NFL against No. 1 wideouts and they’re holding them to a pitiful average of just 44.4 yards per game. The work is all heading Alshon Jeffery’s way this week, sorry to say.
Doug Baldwin, SEA – While most things tilt the Seahawks’ way in this match-up, here’s one that actually favors Big Blue. The Giants actually rank second in the NFL against No. 2 wideouts and are holding them to a paltry 28.2 yards per game. There is a slight chance that he comes up slightly more productive than the numbers are saying, but that all depends on how often, if at all, he lines up in the slot. If he does line up there a little more often then things could open up for him a little more, but with Jermaine Kearse and Golden Tate out there, the attention probably won’t be on him as much as you’d like.
Delanie Walker, TEN –So apparently he’s received clearance from the NFL and he’s looking good in practices this week. Couple that with the tough Titans secondary and the fact that they’re allowing an average of 83.1 yards per game to opposing tight ends and you’ve got yourself one helluva start for your fantasy playoffs. He was looking pretty darn good prior to the concussion and there’s no reason to believe that he can’t recapture a bit of that magic.
Martellus Bennett, CHI – As bad as the Bears are at stopping the run, that’s how bad the Browns are at covering the tight end. The Browns rank 32nd in the league against the position and are allowing an average of 51.2 yards per game to them. It’s not the yards that are going to help you as a Bennett owner, although he does a good job of racking up a bunch after the catch, but it’s the work he’ll see in the red zone. Don’t be surprised if Bennett only racks up 50 or 60 yards, because he’ll probably make it up to you by finding the endzone at least once, if not twice.
Andrew Quarless, GB – While I’m not a fan of suggesting anyone from Green Bay who relied on Matt Flynn to get them the ball, Quarless just might have a match-up favorable enough for me to change my thought process a bit. Obviously it helps that Flynn won’t have to heave the ball downfield to get it to him, but also the fact that the Cowboys rank 30th against the tight end and give up an average of 67.6 yards per game to the position. If you’re struggling for production from the position as is, you may as well take a chance here.
Vernon Davis, SF – Here’s one that pains me, as I too am a Davis owner in a playoff battle. But as I’ve said before, I’m not sitting him, especially considering the fact that he’s got four-straight games with a touchdown and Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin will be occupying the defensive backs. It’s certainly not an ideal match-up though as the Bucs defense ranks seventh in the league and are holding them to an average of 53 yards per game. The coverage should be tighter than he usually gets, so just hedge your bets with him this week.
Marcedes Lewis, JAC – Here we are in Week 15 and this is the first I think I’ve ever typed out his name, but since he’s got a touchdown in each of his last two games, someone out there is contemplating his use. Well, I’m here to tell you not to bother this week. It’s not like the Jaguars/Bills game is going to be on many people’s radar anyway, but if you were thinking Lewis, allow me to be the bearer of bad news and say that the Bills rank fourth in the league against the position and are limiting them to just 37.3 yards per game. It looks like the touchdown streak could be coming to an end here.
Dennis Pitta, BAL – Jeez. Eleven targets in his first game back and you’d think he was the messiah of tight ends returning from the dead. Everyone and their grandmother put in a waiver claim for him this week and it’s going to be trouble for those who successfully grabbed him. Maybe he’ll be ok in a PPR league just based on the number of times Joe Flacco throws the ball his way, but how many catches he comes up with is a different story. He’s facing the Lions on Monday night and Detroit ranks third in the league against tight ends and limit them to 54.7 yards per game. He’s got a favorable match-up in Week 16, but this week ain’t looking so hot.