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.
Redskins @ Falcons
Best Option- Harry Douglas, Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan, Pierre Garcon, Alfred Morris and Santana Moss
Take your pick, with Atlanta, even though they’ve been terrible this season against the Redskins, all options on offense are considered starters. With Washington and starting Kirk Cousins over RG3 this week, one thing I’ve noticed is that he tends to look Santana Moss’ way quite often (he nearly has the same amount of targets as Garcon). While I do think Alfred Morris should have at least 27 touches in this game (this is the same Falcons defense that has made stars out of Bobby Rainey, Andre Ellington, and Geno Smith earlier this season), I do think Cousins will have a substantial amount of passes in this game to keep Moss and Garcon effective for any owner of theirs.
Worst Option- There are no worst options in this one, both of these teams defenses stink.
Bills @ Jaguars
Best Option- Jordan Todman
MJD is doubtful, the Jags have been playing very well lately, and most importantly the Bills haven’t been able to stop anybody running the football lately (4 rushing TD’s and over 200 yards rushing between 2 lead RB’s over the past 2 weeks). While there isn’t much info on Todman (he has a 3.2 ypc average this season), this will be his first chance to shine and see what he can do against a woeful Bills front 7. In short, on paper it’s a good matchup, but you really don’t know what you’re going to get with Todman.
Worst Option- CJ Spiller/Fred Jackson
Just like I said last week with Ben Tate, the Jags defense is improving, especially the rushing defense. Since their bye week, they’ve held opposing RB’s to an average of 45.6 yards rushing with 2 rushing TD’s scored (in 5 games). Furthermore, they’ve held opposing RB’s to an average of 8 fantasy points during that span. While the Bills are one of the more run heavy teams in the league (look for them to run even more with how EJ Manuel has played on the road), the Jags defense is going to offer up a pretty strong challenge for the Bills running back tandem.
Bears @ Browns
Best Option- Chris Ogbonnaya
With Willis McGahee out this week, Ogbonnaya will get the first crack at the league’s worst running defense. However, starting him is a huge risk as the Browns have had more of a passing attack than anything considered to be a running game this season. While he’s only had about 7-9 touches over the past 2 weeks, Ogbonnaya is still averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 7.1 yards a rush. If you’re looking for a RB late this year due to injury (Adrian Peterson), Ogbonnaya could be a deep sleeper find for this round in the playoffs.
Worst Option- Josh Gordon
The weather’s bad in Cleveland, the Bears are playing tough in their secondary (they held Dez Bryant to just 2 catches for 12 yards and a TD on Monday night). I know I said it last week with New England, but even though the Browns do rely on Gordon way too often and will find a way to get him the ball (unless its a blizzard in Cleveland by game time, he’s a must start in PPR leagues), I just think defenses will home in on him and make the Browns find some other way to defeat them.
Packers @ Cowboys
Best Option- Dallas Defense
I hate this game, I really do. Both defenses are struggling, and I’m still not fully sold on Matt Flynn being a capable QB. Pointless to talk about the Cowboys cause other than Romo, everyone’s an obvious start (Bryant, Murray, and Witten). So goin on a longshot here. The Cowboys defense is my sleeper pick of this game and here’s why. Over the past two weeks, defenses going up against the Packers offense has totaled 36 fantasy points. Fluke right? Not so much considering the defenses were Detroit and Atlanta. Now you may argue Detroit, seeing that their front 7 is very good and their secondary caught a huge break due to all the pressure coming Flynn’s way, which I will concede, but DeMarcus Ware is as good if not the best Defensive End in the NFL, he’s going to get pressure on Flynn and will be tough against Lacy all game, wait and see. There’s also Atlanta… The Falcons defense is terrible and yet still scored 15 fantasy points against this squad. Forcing a fumble, causing an interception, and scoring a TD. I know the Cowboys are bad defensively, but if you’re looking for a sleeper defense against a struggling Packers offense, take a chance and hopefully you’ll reap the benefits of Dallas this week.
Worst Option- Eddie Lacy
Goin a bit insane on this pick as well. Since no defense is respecting the Packers passing game any more, they’re loading the box against Lacy, who hasn’t responded very well over the last 2 games (just 17 total points). Dallas allows the most fantasy points to opposing RB’s, but Lacy will have a tough road ahead of him if Dallas mimics the same rush that Atlanta and Detroit succeeded with.
Cardinals @ Titans
Best Option- Rashad Mendenhall
Is he terrible? Yes. Has he ran for over 80 yards this season? Hahahaha NO! Does he get the goal line carries?…. Sigh… Yes… Does that make him the better option than Andre Ellington? Unfortunately yes. While Ellington does appear to be the better back of the two, you can’t deny Mendenhall’s 6 rushing TD’s so far (3 have come in the last 4 weeks). Against the Titans running defense that has allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing backs, another double digit performance looks to be heading Mendy’s way.
Worst Option-Chris Johnson
Shonn Greene is apparently LenDale White v2.0, vulturing CJ1K’s TD’s and short yardage situations. Throw in the Cards being toughest opponent for RB’s in fantasy football, and you got yourself not only a tough match on paper, but a possible “he needs to break for a long TD or bust” candidate for Johnson.
Texans @ Colts
Best Option- Ben Tate
Even though it’s Andre Johnson who normally has the big games against the Colts (had 3 TD’s in their last meeting), Tate remains a strong play against the Colts 29th ranked run defense. Tate has the ability to tear up any weak front line (3 TD’s against the Pats) and should receive a load of touches in this one. Look for a double digit fantasy outing from him, with a possibility of multiple scores.
Worst Option- Andrew Luck
While he did throw for 3 TD’s and had a 22 point outing the last time he faced the Texans, you still have to see Luck’s total body of work. Other than the Houston game, Luck has toppled 18 fantasy points or more just twice in a 5 week span. Take away his 4 TD game against the Bengals last week, and he’s thrown for just 1 TD in 3 games. Houston still has the 2nd best passing defense in the NFL, and even though their season may be over, you know they’re going to come out swinging against this Colts offense. Look for Indy to once again come out slow at the start of the game, and pick it up by the 2nd half, so if anything Luck owners will get a half’s worth of game from him.
Chiefs @ Raiders
Best Option- Rashad Jennings
After missing last week with a concussion, Jennings returns against a Chiefs defense that just held 2nd ranked in rushing offense Washington to just 65 yards on the ground. In their last matchup, KC held the raiders to just 121 total rushing yards (mostly split by McFadden and Pryor with 108), but with Matt McGloin under center, Jennings has been able to put up yards and TD’s on any opponent (has averaged nearly 16 fantasy points in his last 3 games).
Worst Option- Alex Smith
I know the Raiders passing defense stinks. However, Alex Smith is not a good road QB when it comes to fantasy football. On the road, Smith averages just 12.6 fantasy points a start (compared to his 18.2 points at home). Furthermore, he faces a Raider defense on the road, that gave him his 2nd worst statistical performance of the season (7 points in week 6). I know Smith has been on fire as of late, but I have a bad feeling he will once again underperform in this game.
Saints @ Rams
Best Option- Marques Colston
It’s the playoffs, he’s sucked for most of the year, no weather to deal with, the Rams secondary is going to struggle with Brees all game…. Sigh… I say take the chance. No stats, just a gut feeling that Colston is going to keep the points coming and be dominant once again this week.
Worst Option- Zac Stacy
Stacy is finishing up his trio of tough defenses (San Fran, and Zona) and has performed pretty well so far, scoring a TD last week (saving his fantasy day) and putting up 72 yards on the 49ers is no easy feat (especially with little to no passing game to support you). However, his matchup against the Saints still doesn’t offer up much help for Stacy owners. New Orleans offense could easily pull head quickly and force the Rams to abandon the running game by halftime, and while Stacy has performed admirably against the previous two teams, 15 fantasy points during that span is not enough for owners to be wowed by. Consider Stacy a flex option at best.
Patriots @ Dolphins
Best Option- Danny Amendola
With the injury to Rob Gronkowski, everyone is speculating that it will be Edelman and Shane Vareen being the top two in Brady’s arsenal, and rigtfully so, Vareen had an amazing 17 targets last week and Edelman was 2nd with 9. However, Amendola wasn’t too far off with 8 targets and was vastly involved in the Pats final drive. While he hasn’t topped more than 9 points in his last 4 weeks, don’t be surprised if Amendola is the leader in targets on the Pats receiving corps in this matchup.
Worst Option- Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas
While on a personal level I’m glad that Daniel Thomas wasn’t severely hurt and was able to return this season, the fantasy owner side of me is giving out a frustrated sigh and yelling out “NOT THIS AGAIN!”. With both RB’s healthy, once again any fantasy owner in the playoffs is taking a severe risk in starting either of these backs due to them cutting off so much of each other’s value. Miami will clearly go with a hotter hand approach between the two, and with both underperforming for most of the season (Miller may be up for the biggest bust of the year award), no owner should feel confident in starting either of these guys.
Eagles @ Vikings
Best Option- Riley Cooper
If you have Riley Cooper on your roster, this is a prime week to start him. The Vikings give up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing WR’s, and most importantly, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER IN THIS ONE! While Cooper did put up 74 yards in a blizzard last week (almost had a TD pass), next to DeSean Jackson, he remains one of Nick Foles most trusted and dangerous weapons. Look for Cooper to return to form (week 9-10) in this game.
Worst Option- The Vikings RB situation
Both Peterson (ankle) and Gerhart (hamstring) are questionable going into this game, if one plays, don’t expect a big performance as the Eagles have allowed just one rushing TD in their last 4 games. Surprisingly, and I’m a big perplexed as I write this, the Vikings will have to lean on their passing game against the Eagles in this matchup.
Seahawks @ Giants
Best Option- Golden Tate
Lets be honest, I’m not going to put Lynch, Wilson, or the Seahawks defense here because you’re obviously starting them in your playoff match and what’s the point in praising an obvious starter right? So while not the best option in this game, Golden Tate is certainly one with huge upside. The Giants defense has given up an average of 7 receptions a game to opposing lead WR’s and 11 fantasy points over the past 3 weeks. With Percy Harvin out (Again), Tate remains the top WR/deep threat for the Seahawks and should find some yards and even a score in this game.
Worst Option- Victor Cruz
Eli Manning is having a terrible year, his last TD was in week 4, he’ll have Richard Sherman probably on him all game. Do I need to list anything else?
Jets @ Panthers
Best Option- Panthers Defense
The Panthers rank 2nd against the run, and last time I checked that’s all the Jets offense can do competently. Even though Geno Smith put up an astounding 21 point performance against Oakland last week, he has not had back to back double digit fantasy performances once this season.
Worst Option- Christopher Ivory
Since no one in the fantasy playoffs should even consider starting Geno Smith in this matchup, and even with Jonathan Stewart out the Panthers backfield is still a mess, I’m going to go with the only legit fantasy option on the Jets offense, Christopher Ivory. While he remains the top back in the Jets backfield, Ivory faces a Panthers defense that ranks 1st against the run, holding opposing teams to under 80 yards a game. Include the Panthers explosive offense and their ability to put points on the board, this could lead to the Jets abandoning the run all together by the 2nd half.
49ers @ Buccaneers
Best Option- San Francisco Defense
This D has seemed to have turned it up lately allowing an average of 13 points a game over the last 5 weeks. Even though that has just turned in 2 weeks of double digit fantasy points, the Bucs offense allows a chance at a reprieve. After a fast start Mike Glennon has cooled off lately, having 4 turnovers in the last 2 weeks. Bobby Rainey is boom/bust at RB as well, he did have 127 rushing yards last week, but had 1 carry for 80 yards and only managed 47 yards on 21 carries for the rest of the game. I’d imagine Patrick Willis and co to give Glennon all that he can handle, and let Ahmad Brooks and Tramaine Brock handle the Bucs wide outs.
Worst Option- Colin Kaepernick
This is leaning more towards how good the Bucs defense has been at home lately than how disappointing how Cap has been this season. Since their Monday night game against the Dolphins. The Bucs secondary has recorded an astounding 13 Interceptions in just 5 games. Including two 4 interception games against Buffalo and Detroit (can’t argue they play well against bad QB’s). While Cap’s biggest threat is his legs and the Bucs gave up a 26 point outing to Cam Newton (a player very similar to Kaepernick) just a few weeks ago, Kaepernick is not the accomplished passer, or rusher that Cam is. If he doesn’t help you in the rushing yards in this game, Kaepernick is going to have a lot of problems with this improved TB secondary.
Bengals @ Steelers
Best Option- Ben Roethelisberger
Shockingly, Big Ben is the 9th ranked fantasy QB for this season. While Cincy still poses a tough front 7 (ranked 5th) and are 7th against the pass, they’ve still given up an average of 15 fantasy points to opposing QB’s over the last 4 games (including a 4 TD performance last week by Andrew Luck). Roethelisberger has been on fire lately, scoring over 15 fantasy points in his last four matchups. Le’Veon Bell should have his problems with the Bengals front line, leaving Big Ben the best option to move the chains for the Steelers.
Worst Option- AJ Green
ESPN reported that throughout his career, Green has averaged nearly 5 receptions and 57.6 with 3 TD’s against the Steelers. With only 41 yards on 6 receptions in their last meeting, it seems as if Green owners solely rely on him getting a TD in his matchup against the Steeler secondary. While the Steelers have been lenient on opposing WR’s lately (Gosh Gordon and Torrey Smith torched them for big games and even Brian Hartline had a double digit fantasy game last week), I’m still a believer that AFC North divisional games are a much more smash mouth affair. Low scoring, barely any big plays from either offense, and most importantly, a fantasy wasteland. While AJ will certainly be in your lineups this week, if I were your opponent, I’d be very happy with the challenge he faces on Sunday.
Ravens @ Lions
Best Option- Torrey Smith
After last week’s dud of a performance, Smith looks to bounce back against the defense that allows the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing WR’s this season. With Dennis Pitta back it does take away some of Smith’s redzone capabilities, but for any Smith owner, you know his potential lies in his big play ability, and without any weather to fear and Detroit’s awful secondary and strong offense to keep Flacco throwing, everything looks good for Torrey to bounce your team forward into the post season.
Worst Option- Reggie Bush
While this may be leaned more towards my anger at Bush for sitting out last week after he hurt himself in warm ups (cost me a playoff matchup, although not that it matters, he still was a huge reason why I got to the playoffs, so it evens out), the reason Reggie is here is twofold. 1) He’s going up against a Ravens defense that ranks 7th against the rush and have given up a league leading (tied w/Carolina) 3 rushing TD’s all season. So the matchup on paper is a pretty tough one. 2) Lets throw in his “questionable” tag. While he did practice on Friday, this tag is still very worrisome. If Bush is held out once again, there’s nobody (with maybe if Bernard Pierce is available in some leagues) left to replace Bush with on your roster. Also, Joique Bell is going to be a factor in this game, if all goes well for Detroit on Sunday, they could easily monitor Bush’s carries in this game, saving him for their playoff run. which will lead to Bell eating time into Bush’s carries on runs and passing downs.