ONE TO START, ONE TO SIT
One to start, One to sit is a weekly column where each NFL game will be evaluated and the best/worst fantasy match-ups will be listed.
Happy Thanksgiving readers, with the fantasy playoffs upon us, I thought I would change up the article a bit. After last week’s usage of the phrase “VACANT” for some team’s best worst options, I find it unfair to any reader looking for another opinion for fantasy advise to see that phrase. Also, for some teams (Jacksonville, Oakland, KC, etc) putting the same players in the Best/Worst option because there’s no one else there won’t help anyone. So instead, I will be placing one player in the best category (which will continue to be a player whom I believe will be a sleeper, or a borderline benched player who could come on strong in their upcoming matchup) and one in the worst category (a top ranked player). Sometimes it’ll be one player, sometimes, I’ll mention a few in either category. I hope you enjoy the changes to the article, and have a happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUPS
Falcons @ Bills
Best Option- EJ Manuel
There’s nothing negative I can say about EJ this week. Coming off his second best fantasy outing of the season last week, a 17 point outing against the Jets, Manuel now sets his sights on the awful, awful, did I mention awful, Falcons defense. Atlanta has allowed multiple TD passes in 10 of 11 games this year, and have averaged 21.6 fantasy points to opposing QB’s that have fallen in the middle of the fantasy QB rankings (aka NOT named Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton). Furthermore, he has his top 2 WR’s, Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods returning this week. Like I said before, there’s nothing negative I can say about the rookie from Florida State. All signs are pointing upward in this matchup.
Worst Option- Matt Ryan
Over the past 3 games, a trend has hit both Ryan and the Bills defense. Ryan can’t break more than 15 fantasy points, and the Bills defense hasn’t allowed a QB to score more than 10 fantasy points against them, including a negative 2 point effort from Geno Smith, and a 4 point effort from Alex Smith. Ryan always has the potential to break this trend, but he isn’t the same QB this season as years prior. Roddy White isn’t the same WR, the offense has a struggling running game, Buffalo leads the NFL in Interceptions and is 2nd in sacks. You tell me what’s there to like about all of this?
Bears @ Vikings
Best Option- Josh McCown
You know it’s a really odd season when the backup QB for the Bears is performing as good as the starter. Josh McCown is definitely making a name for himself this year. All of his full game performances have landed in fantasy double digits, he has just 2 turnovers all season (both coming last week vs. St.Louis) and has an average of a little over 16 fantasy points per start. He faces a Vikings squad this week that allows 22.8 fantasy points to opposing QB’s while playing in Minnesota. For those of you who have the option to start McCown, enjoy the points this week, those opposing him, look out.
Worst Option- Adrian Peterson
I know, I’m f’n crazy for putting him here and I know not a single one of you is going to bench him because of the matchup, Chicago’s 32nd ranked run defense, the fact that Chicago couldn’t stop a towel from rushing at least 10 yards, the Vikings have no other option, whatever. Look the reason why I’m putting him here is simply because the Vikings have no receiving weapons that pose a threat to the Bears secondary and therefore, the Bears should be overloading the box and looking to slow down AP on every drive. Their last meeting had Greg Jennings raking down 84 receiving yards, and Christian Ponder throwing for 227 yards on 16 completions while AP had just 107 yards on 27 touches (3.9 ypc) and only raked in 10 fantasy points. Barely cracking 10 fantasy points on 27 touches is an underwhelming day’s work in my opinion, and I look to see more of the same this week. Could AP go off? Absolutely, I just think his owners should limit expectations (he’s not going to break 20 fantasy points mark my words).
Jaguars @ Browns
Best Option- Jordan Cameron
In the game only Browns fans, Jaguars fans, and whoever owns MJD, Josh Gordon, the Browns Defense, and Jordan Cameron care about, it’s kind of shocking to see and remember that the Browns are technically still in the playoff hunt in the AFC, and a win here could put them right back in the thick of things. Anyways, enough of the legit NFL statements, back to fantasy football. Jordan Cameron is this week’s highlighted star of this game largely due to Brandon Weeden returning. In the 5 full games Weeden has played, Cameron has been targeted a total of 45 times. Jacksonville gives up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing TE’s. Look for Weeden to go to his security blanket early and often in this game.
Worst Option- Anyone in the Browns Backfield (Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzie Whittaker)
This sucks, it really does. The Jags rank 30th against the run, and the Browns have by far the most annoying RBBC (running back by committee) group in the NFL (maybe tied with Indy and New England). Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzie Whittaker, doesn’t matter who you have, you cannot depend on them. Can’t say start McGahee because he’s averaged 2.6 yards per carry this season and has had just 12 touches over the past 2 games. Can’t start Ogbonnaya because of last week’s fumble which ended up benching him. Finally can’t start Whittaker because he got the most snaps last week but didn’t do much of anything offensively (6 carries for 16 yards). For a matchup like this against an awful run defense, it really does suck to see owners benching a potential monster performance. If you’re asking for my opinion (and you are if you’re reading this article), I’d say Ogbonnaya is the top rb in this game, followed by Whittaker and then McGahee. Ogbonnaya and Whittaker have more value due to their pass catching capabilities, but to be fair, I wouldn’t be shocked if the two split a 50/50 timeshare with McGahee coming in on short yardage situations.
Broncos @ Chiefs
Best Option- Dwayne Bowe, Alex Smith
Bowe and Smith have built a pretty decent connection over the past 3 games. Bowe has scored 2 TD’s and has averaged close to 60 yards a game (which is amazing for any KC WR/player not named Jamaal Charles), while Smith has had back to back 20 plus point fantasy outings. The last time these two teams met, Smith had thrown for a season high 45 times, 14 times to Bowe. With Denver’s secondary still struggling (30th overall), and their offense continuing to put up big numbers, looks like KC’s only way of keeping pace with them is by through the air, look for Smith and Bowe to connect hopefully multiple times in this game.
Worst Option- Knowshon Moreno
KC’s run defense is suspect (ranked 20th) and KC has allowed 5 TD’s to opposing RB’s over the past 2 weeks, however, I just have this feeling that Denver is going to pull back the reigns on Moreno this week in hopes of giving him a little extra rest for their upcoming playoff run. Knowshon has had a total of 65 touches over the past two weeks, and has been struggling with an ankle injury as of late (yahoo.com calls it a severe bone bruise). While he was a major factor for Denver’s offensive scheme against KC last time (27 touches for 79 yards), I expect his workload to decrease significantly in this matchup.
Titans @ Colts
Best Option- Kendall Wright
With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, Wright has enjoyed a barrage of targets and receptions. He had finally caught his first TD pass since week 1 last week against Oakland (a game winning 10 yard rec) and now faces a Colts defense that he tore up last time for 80 yards on 9 catches. With Fitz under center, along with Delanie Walker, Wright is the WR to own for Tennessee (especially in PPR leagues) as he is a constant threat every week to get you yards and catches.
Worst Option- TY Hilton
I would have Andrew Luck here, but his rushing capabilities in the red zone keep him a valuable fantasy comity. However, Hilton is in major trouble here. The Titans have held opposing WRs scoreless since week 2 and allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing WR’s in the NFL. Hilton is going to get his looks, and is a deep zone threat, but with a statline of 5 catches for 44 yards in his previous matchup against Tennessee and no Reggie Wayne or other WR to help take the pressure off of him, don’t expect a big game from the speedy Indy WR.
Rams @ 49ers
Best Option- Rams Defense, 49ers Defense
They only scored 2 points in their last meeting, but the Rams defense has been on a role as of late. 3 straight games of having at least 1 interception. 2 straight games of recovering at least 1 fumble, and 2 straight games of scoring at least 1 DEF/ST touchdown. With how hot/cold the 49ers offense can be, especially after coming off of a short week, the Rams defense is a considerable fantasy option for this week.
Zac Stacy, that is the only threat the Rams have that the 49ers should have to worry about. Tavon Austin has hit his stride over the past 2 games, with 3 TD’s and a total of 246 yards rushed/received, however I feel the 49ers defense is in another league compared to the Colts and Bears defenses which Austin ate up. The 49ers defense lit the Rams offense up earlier this season for a fumble and interception, scoring 15 points. Granted this is a completely different Rams team, but to be fair, Kellen Clemens shouldn’t be enough to scare any owner of the 49ers defense in this game.
Worst Option- Colin Kaepernick
The Rams are coming along. Two straight games of 20 plus point wins. While the stats of opposing QB’s have been strong (33 fantasy points given up over the past 2 weeks) one can’t deny this is a completely new Rams team than what we’ve seen earlier in the season. Ever since their Monday night game against Seattle, opposing QB’s have averaged a total of 14.25 fantasy points against this squad. Even with Michael Crabtree due to make his season debut in this game, I don’t see it being a high scoring affair, at least for San Fran. Defense should rule this game and the offensive fantasy points should be scarce.
Dolphins @ Jets
Best Option- Dolphins defense
Why? They’re going up against Geno Smith, that’s why. All they have to do is stop the run and the turnovers will come.
Worst Option- Geno Smith / Lamar Miller
For Geno Smith- A total of Negative 2 fantasy points over the past 2 weeks…. That’s why he’s here, he’s not even a starter in 2 QB leagues.
Lamar Miller on the other hand, is finally getting a solo act at RB due to the season ending injury of teammate Daniel Thomas. However, he’s facing the top rushing defense in the NFL, heck of a way to prove yourself. While the Jets have given up 6 Rushing TD’s this year, it’s their 72.6 yards per game stat that topples everything Miller has going for him. If Miller can perform and put up decent numbers in this game, then possibly for the fantasy playoffs he can be a formidable option for owners, but for this week, he’s better off on the bench as a wait and see option.
Patriots @ Texans
Best Option- Ben Tate
After his “what in the blue hell? Ben Tate rushed for 1 yard against Jacksonville?!?!?!?” performance last week, Tate has the chance to redeem himself against the Pats 31st ranked rushing defense. While the Pats have only given up 5 rushing TD’s all season, they’ve still managed to give up over 100 yards on the ground in the past 4 straight games. Houston may not have much in terms of offense (especially with Aqib Talib on Andre Johnson all game), but in terms of touches and opportunities, Tate should be a safe bet to have a solid performance.
Worst Option- Stevan Ridley
With Shane Vareen being the only Patriots RB you can trust not to fumble the ball (Ridley and Blount) or receive limited work (Bolden), you really cannot trust a single RB in the Pats backfield. With Belicheck being mum about his weekly gameplay, a lot of owners should have to second guess themselves on whether or not to start Ridley. The sad part is, the matchup against the Texans 22nd rushing defense has little to do with what Ridley owners are going through this week. Do you A) take the risk of starting Ridley and then being tormented watching him share carries with Blount and Bolden, or not get any carries at all. Or (B), bench him for another starter (if you have one) and watch and see what he does for future games? It’s a very difficult choice this late in the season, but if your playoffs rely on this, I would rather take the safer bet and bench Ridley for another potential starter. After all 3 lost fumbles in the last 3 games, you know how Belicheck gets with RB’s that fumble.
Giants @ Redskins
Best Option- Anyone on the Giants
Take your pick, Eli, Cruz, Randle, Nicks, Brown, even the defense. Washington has averaged just 19.6 points a game against divisional foes. They’ve averaged 11 points over their last two games (vs philly and SF), rank 27th against the pass, and have given up an NFL worst 15 rushing TD’s. Any Giant is gold in this one.
Worst Option- Alfred Morris
The Giants have risen to 7th in rushing defense and are surprisingly a force to be reckoned with on the ground. In their last 5 games, they’ve held opposing RB’s to an average of 55.4 rushing yards, and have let up just one TD to a running back in that span. Meanwhile, Alfred Morris’ streak of 3 games where he got 20 plus carries came to an end on Monday Night, as he had just 14 touches for 52 yards. What’s more alarming is Roy Helu’s role as the passing down RB, which kills Morris’ value if the Redskins were to fall behind early. While Morris is still the top RB to own in Washington’s backfield, these little tidbits above are more than enough reasons to limit your expectations for him in this game.
Cardinals @ Eagles
Best Option- Michael Floyd
Two straight games of over 100 yards receiving, with 13 catches as well? Now he’s going up against the worst passing defense in the NFL, in a game that could be a potential shootout with how well Philly’s offense can move the ball? Where’s the downside? Start him without fear.
Worst Option- LeSean McCoy
Arizona has been playing out of their minds recently, holding opposing teams to an average of 15.5 points a game over the past 4 games. They also boast the 2nd best run defense in the NFL, giving up just 81.3 yards on the ground a game. Luckily, McCoy is also an accomplished pass catcher, which could bring in some helpful points in this matchup. However, with Arizona playing as good as they’ve been (have held opposing RB’s to 9 points or less for the past 4 games), McCoy is in for a tough matchup in which I think Philly may air it out more or rely on Shady in the passing game to score points in this one.
Bengals @ Chargers
Best Option- Andy Dalton
Cincy returns from their bye week to face off against a Chargers defense that gives up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing QB’s. Last week, Alex Smith threw for a season high 294 yards against them, this is the same Alex Smith that averages 219 yards a game. Meanwhile, Dalton is coming off a 5 game span where he’s thrown for 13 TD’s and 9 INT’s while averaging 280 passing yards. While his interceptions have been a problem lately, the Chargers haven’t exactly benefitted off of picks, just having 6 on the season. He remains a low end #1 QB this week, but is a must start in any 2 QB league and wouldn’t surprise me if he cracked 20 fantasy points in this game.
Worst Option- Returning from a hamstring injury, Mathews goes up against a Bengals defense that is allowing the 5th fewest fantasy points to opposing RB’s. While he’s been on a roll as of late (2 TD’s in the last 3 games, and 3 straight double digit fantasy performances), the Bengals haven’t seemed to lose much on their front line after losing Geno Atkins for the season. Mathews is probable for this matchup, but look for Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown to make his return, stealing away a few carries from Mathews.
Buccaneers @ Panthers
Best Option- Jonathan Stewart
Quite frankly, this is only if DeAngelo Williams misses this game (he’s listed as questionable/game time decision). Obviously if Williams plays, he eats into Stewart’s time/fantasy value. However, if he’s out, J-Stew turns into a quality comity to own. He’s averaging 6.3 yards per carry on 33 attempts, and with Carolina’s run heavy offense (4th most rushing attempts in the NFL), Stewart could be a viable option for the Panthers offense in this game.
Worst Option- Bobby Rainey, Steve Smith
Carolina’s running defense ranks among the best in the league. Giving up 81.5 yards on the ground a game, and only giving up 3 Rushing TD’s all season (2nd only to Baltimore). There’s still a lot of shine on Rainey after his 34 point performance against Atlanta 2 weeks ago, but he was exposed last week by Detroit (18 carries for 35 yards) and look for him to continue to struggle in this one as well. On the plus side, he’s going to get you the touches, so if there’s any RB to own in TB, it’s Rainey.
For Smith, frankly it comes down to if Darrelle Revis plays. If he does, and he’s on Smith all game, SS owners will be lucky if he hits his status quo of 4-5 catches for 50 yards.
Saints @ Seahawks
Best Option- Pierre Thomas
This is a tough one for the Thomas. Going into Seattle where they’ve outscored opponents 162-76 this year, and have held opposing RB’s scoreless in the last four games. However, Pierre has found incredible value for his owners (especially in PPR leagues) with his work in the passing game, having at least 5 receptions in his last 4 games (during which he’s totaled at least 80 yards as well). While Darren Sproles is set to return this week, Thomas owners should still not fret him losing any time. He’s good for 15 touches a game and against the Seahawks 16th ranked run defense (113 yards on the ground a game), he should once again be one of the Saints top offensive weapons.
Worst Option- Golden Tate
Percy Harvin has been ruled doubtful for this game (hip) and once again, the top receiving option for the Seahawks will be Golden Tate. Having a pretty solid season so far (600 yards, 42 receptions, 4 TDs), Tate now is the figurehead the Saints 3rd ranked secondary will try and stop. While Tate’s production has been inconsistent all season (has just 4 games this season with more than 8 fantasy points), he’s going up against a defense that has allowed just two double digit fantasy WR’s to score 10 or more points in the past 5 weeks.