By Anthony Stampone
Welcome to Championship weekend (for almost all leagues)! I am going to keep most of my Start’ems and Sit’ems as at this point in the season that’s all that really matters. Who you should play and sit to bring home that championship! I am in the championship in one of my three leagues and in the conference finals in a league that actually goes through week 17 (I’ll never do this league again). With that said let’s get to the point.
Ben Roethlisberger: Facing one of the league’s worst pass defenses with one of if not the best passing game in the league right now is a no brainer. If you have Roethlisberger on your team start him over ANYONE else!
Blake Bortles: Bortles has really turned on the second half of the season and is throwing touchdown passes and yards at an alarming rate while for him, keeping turnovers to a minimum. Don’t like your QB’s match up this week, there is a good chance he still may be an available FA in your league, pick him up and play him. All his weapons are back health and playing the Saints pass defense, enough said.
Tyrod Taylor: Another weapon that may be available in your leagues FA pool is worth starting. Taylor doesn’t light up the yards but he is averaging over two TD passes a game over the last four games with only one INT. Taylor’s value also goes with his ability to make plays and rack up rushing yards and against this Cowboys, a very real ability to get another rushing TD. If your QB’s are weak, play Taylor.
Kellen Moore: I am not sure many people were willing to drink the Kool-Aid on Moore being named the started for Dallas but with the season already lost, Dez Bryant out, and this being his first career start in Buffalo, if you did pick him up, put him right on the bench or on waivers for someone else.
Zach Mettenberger: As Mettenberger showed the Titans last year, he isn’t a starter in this league, a clear indication of this was the drafting of Mariota. Unfortunately for some Mariota is done for the year and his back up isn’t the option you want on your team with a Championship on the line. Facing and tough and dominate Texans defense will make for a long day for Mettenberger, in what would more than likely be a long day regardless.
Case Keenum: The Rams are hoping to see enough from Keenum to keep him on next season while they figure out what they will do at the QB position as Foleshas made it clear he was nothing more than a one year wonder. Keenum against this revitalized and dangerous pass defense isn’t the option either this week. Yes, he played well last week, but that wasn’t in Seattle versus that secondary that seems to be back to form after a questionable start. Find another QB.
Sleepers: Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Brock Osweiler
Lamar Miller: I am saying Miller on a hunch. That hunch is that the Dolphins will finally get their collective heads out of their butts and give the man the ball! Miller has had a decent season when he touches the ball 15 or more times and I can’t tell you how many times I was in awe over their coordinators ability to ruin Miller’s day by taking the ball out of his hands after carrying the day for them. With playing the Colts and possibly their third-string QB, the Dolphins should have the ball plenty and Miller should get his carries and yards.
Charcandrick West: Playing the Browns and their terrible rush defense is more than enough of a reason to play West this week. Add in that West is also a valuable pass catching threat out of the backfield and should see plenty of touches against this porous defense.
DeAngelo Williams: The guy has been a straight up beast all season playing in relief of Bell. Williams is the Steelers three down back and against this Ravens defense Williams will have more than his fair share of opportunities to grind out yards on the ground and in the passing game. Let’s face it, besides this being a divisional rivalry game the Ravens have nothing to play for and to be honest don’t really have many guys worth even playing. This game is going to be a blowout and Williams is going to help with that.
Jeremy Hill: The Broncos still have the best rush defense in the NFL and are still ranked #1 overall in DVOA. With AJ McCaron playing QB expect the Broncos to play man and stack the box to stuff the run and will do so successfully. Hill is not going to help the Bengals cause this week, bench him.
Frank Gore: It pains me to say this but Frank Gore’s career is pretty much done. At best he is a 3rd down back for the duration of his contract if the Colts keep him and he isn’t going to be saving the day this weekend when the Colts visit Miami hoping the Texans slip up and open the door for the Colts to steal the division away. Bench him, he hasn’t produced all year and it’s not going to start now.
Isiah Crowell: The Browns are going to be trailing this weekend, A LOT! They won’t be able to give Crowell the touches maybe he even merits because of the circumstances. Even if he does get the touches the Chiefs rush defense is fierce and dominate, so even with those carries he isn’t going to be able to do much with them. Sit’em.
Sleepers: Karlos Williams, Ameer Abdullah, David Johnson
Antonio Brown: Brown is showing the NFL again this year that he may be the most underrated WO in the league. Now, I am not saying he doesn’t get credit because he does, but when people talk about the best in the game at his position he is almost never mentioned. Last week should have opened everyone’s eyes as he schooled one of the best cover corners in the league and has topped 1,500 yards in back to back seasons. Big Ben will find him open early and often and will continue to help Brown put up the disgusting numbers he has been putting up for the last few seasons.
Sammy Watkins: As the season has come along, Watkins has developed quite the connection with QB Tyrod Taylor. Yes, the Bills are pretty much left with nothing but Watkins in the passing game with Woods and Clay declared out for this game, but Watkins is showing he is good enough where that doesn’t really matter as long as the pass is thrown his way. Look for Watkins to continue his impressive mini streak he has going on and put up some nice numbers against a beat up Cowboys secondary.
Allen Hurns: When healthy his is actually Bortles favorite target in the passing game and relies heavily on him to get first downs all game long. This week will be no different as fellow running mate Allen Robinson is going to draw most of the coverage attention leaving Hurns in favorable one on one match ups that he has done well exploiting all season.
Doug Baldwin: Before someone attempts to blast me for listing him as a sit’em; yes, I am fully aware he is listed as questionable to even play in the game. What I am going to say is that even if he I cleared to play bench Baldwin. For a guy that relies on his speed, acceleration, and cutting ability like Baldwin does to work the field, with that hamstring he’s not worth starting with this kind of injury. With a championship on the line, it’s best to just leave him sitting for someone healthy(ier) and more likely to produce regardless.
Randall Cobb: Since the game between the Packers and the Cardinals do have playoff implications for both teams, the Cardinals will do what they do best; take away your best receiver. Expect Peterson to shadow Cobb all game, even in the slot and he is too big and too fast to allow Cobb to beat him enough to make it worth playing Cobb. Green Bay’s pass catches aren’t scaring anyone especially this secondary even without Tyrann Mathieu out. Peterson will lock in one on one with Cobb and keep him quite.
Terrance Williams: Without Dez in the game, Williams has already shown he cannot raise his game and help the Cowboys win game this year. Against the Bills, it’s going to be more of the same with a new QB that has never started before. Expect ROY candidate Ronald Darby to line up with Williams most of the time and shut him down. Besides a promising rookie season, Williams has been a huge disappointment, don’t let him ruin your chances at that title, bench him.
Mike Evans, Jarvis Landry, Emmanuel Sanders, Allen Robinson
Gary Barnidge: Apparently it doesn’t matter who his QB is this year, the guy flat out catches passes, gains yards, and gets in the endzone. With the Browns more than likely to trail in the game early and often and with Manziel attempting to prove he belongs, do not be surprised when he connects with his surprise breakout tight end over and over again in attempts to stay in the game.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Chicago is extremely banged up on the defensive side of the ball, and even if they weren’t they still do not have enough talent to keep up with an offense as potent as the Bucs. With that said Winston is going to have plenty of time and chances to spread the ball around and with the LBs unable to cover someone as big and athletic as Jenkins, he will have a big day against this defense.
Will Tye: The rookie has gotten better and really come on as the season has progressed; that will end this week. The Vikings secondary is getting healthy and the team boosts one of the best cover LBs in the NFL with Anthony Barr following TEs and RBs with the best of them. With Beckham out and the Vikings strong pass defense, this is shaping out to be a long day for the Giants passing offense which includes Tye.
Jason Witten: When you are the only legitimate weapon on a team’s passing attack, you are the only one they really need to worry about shutting down. Insert Jason Witten this weekend vs the Bills. Mr. Reliable will get a few catches and some yards but not enough to start him.
Ben Watson, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce
Denver Broncos: Even after a poor showing against the Steelers, this defense is too good and too strong to let a back-up QB like McCaron to pick them apart and embarrass them. Expect Denver to not only get back on track this week, but they will get some sacks, force a few turnovers, and maybe even get back on track with putting up a TD.
Pittsburgh Steelers: As a group they have really come on of late and have no longer the liability they were at the beginning of the season. Actually the group has been playing well and with facing the Ravens this weekend who may be starting another QB this week should make for a great day this weekend for this defense and if you don’t like your match up for your defense, pick up the Steelers and you will be glad you did.
Baltimore Ravens: Terrible defense, tons of injuries, and the arguably the best offense in the league coming to town this week, yeah this is all you need to know to put this defense on the bench for pretty much anyone else.
New Orleans: I am not sure why the Saints are so terrible on defense. They spent a ton of money to shore up their secondary, their young LBs are coming along nicely, and Jordan is still an above average pass rusher, but for some reason they can’t stop a leaky faucet. With that said, the Jags have been on fire and this isn’t a defense stopping anyone let alone an offense that can actually put up points. If you haven’t already drop them and pick up just about anyone else.
Sleepers: New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks
By Anthony Stampone
Welcome two either round two of your playoffs or round one for some leagues. If you are still going at this point in the year, you have probably drafted well, are great a waiver wire pick-ups, stayed healthy, or all the above. Regardless the reason, you are still going and many are not so sit back, let me hit you with some knowledge to help move on to the next round!
Carson Palmer: As funny as it sounds with all the attention going to Tom Brady and Cam Newton (deservedly so especially for Cam), Palmer is easily and quietly having a MVP type season as well. Palmer has been carving up the best defenses all season and continues to rack up yards, TDs, and wins for his team even after having his season cut short for the second time last season with a major knee injury. Facing the Eagles this week with their terrible pass defense, Palmer should and will have another big day on Sunday. A lot is made in the media about West Coast teams having issues struggling when they have to come East to play; I don’t give it much credence, and we’ll see it firsthand Sunday as Cardinals will stomp the Eagles on their way to locking up with NFC West and Palmer will be a big reason why.
Matt Stafford: Stafford has been his usual self this year; inconsistent and unreliable. But whenever you are facing the Saints and what I suppose they call a defense gets on the field, that player has a significant opportunity to have a great day. This is exactly what Stafford will do against the Saint in their own home stadium. Before too much is made of it, yes the Saints defense played decent last week, but that was against a very up and down inconsistent Bucs offense lead by a rookie QB that is getting better but still has a lot to learn about defenses in the NFL. As long as Stafford can avoid giving the game away by making too many mistakes the Lions passing offense should have a big day without much issue. This game does have the potential to be a high scoring affair so it bodes well for both offenses to have big games in the passing game.
Sam Bradford: Easy pick to bench this guy this week. He has struggled all year, he hasn’t really had an impressive game all year and with the Cardinals and their 4th overall and 5th ranked pass defense come to town (DVOA rankings not NFL.com. NFL.com’srankings are terrible and antiquated). Things won’t be any easier this week and the Eagles have struggled to protect Bradford all year and the Cardinals LOVE to bring the heat and still have plenty of talent to cover one on one with minimal issues over the course of an entire game. Sit Bradford, there are better options out there that may even be available on the waiver wire than playing Bradford.
Kirk Cousins: Even with the Buffalo Bills coming to town with more guys on their injury report than there are starters from the beginning of the year (OK slight exaggeration, but only slight), Cousins is not a wise choice to play this week. The Bills regardless to their personnel issues still have one of the best minds in the game when it comes to scheming a defense to stop a QB in Rex Ryan. Cousins has shown multiple times this season he struggles when the rush gets to him and that he can be confused by unique or exotic coverages are thrown at him, insert Rex Ryan. Cousins is going to be confused and guessing all day, not a good mix for a QB that really isn’t that good to begin with. Sit’em!
Sleepers: Alex Smith, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers
Eddie Lacey: Over the last four games Lacey has been on an absolute tear! Running for over 100+ yards in three of those four games and this week facing a middle of the pack rush defense in the Raiders, expect the Packers to ride Lacey like they have over the last few games to keep their win streak heading in the right direction. As we saw last week with Coach McCarthy taking over play calling for the Packers, he went run heavy to help protect Rodgers and to open up the passing game. This week will be much of the same, and Lacey will continue his December dominance this week and the Packers will maintain their strangle hold over the NFC North.
LeSean McCoy: The Bills are loaded with injuries on both sides of ball and are still expected to perform every week because as we all know it is a cardinal sin to admit that injuries can derail and ruin a season for a team with high hopes/expectations. With that said the Bills rushing attack especially when McCoy is healthy is still lethal, and with facing a middle of the pack rush defense the McCoy is set up nicely to have another big day. There is no reason to think McCoy won’t get at least 20 touches and top 100+ yards in this game and those touches may even be more when you count his contributions in the passing game. With issues still remaining on the O-Line and Charles Clay out this week, look for the Bills to lean heavily on McCoy to win this game for them.
Tim Hightower: Although he performed admirably while filling in for Mark Ingram last week, this game is going to be all about passing. The Saints do still have CJ Spiller who is a much bigger threat coming out of the backfield as a receiving option Hightower which should take the ball out of Tim’s hands more than last week. The Saints have shown more balance this year than they have in quite some time, but once things start going crazy and scores start piling up they still have a tendency to stop running the ball and engage in an aerial attack on their opponents.
Shaun Draughn: Whether Andy Dalton is under center for the Bengals or not this week or not (he’s not by the way), it won’t change the fact that the 49ers need to be able to run the ball to have even a semblance of being a threating offense over the course of a game. The Bengals front seven are as a good as any in the NFL and with the 49ers not exactly scaring anyone with their offensive line, Draughn’s is in for a long day and isn’t going to have enough time or space to do anything to warrant playing him this week.
Sleepers: Lamar Miller, Denard Robinson, Jonathan Stewart
DeAndre Hopkins: With a back-up QB more than likely to play this week for the Texans starting a dominate WO like Hopkins is actually a good idea most of the time. Hopkins is good and so relied on he is going to get the balls thrown his way no matter what, even if they are 50/50 balls they will be thrown in his direction. With the division potentially on the line this week the Texans will have to anything and everything to get their best play maker on the offensive side of the ball as early and often as possible against a pass defense that just surrendered 51 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Hopkins is in for a big game.
Doug Baldwin: I really do not like listing him as a Start’em as this is the place I like to list players are must plays no matter what, but with the production he has had over the last three game warrants it without question. Baldwin to me still isn’t anything special as far as WO are concerned but something is going on between him and Wilson lately that cannot be ignored. Baldwin is putting up elite level receiver numbers over the last few weeks, and with facing the Browns this week he will once again have the opportunity to have a huge game, several TDs, and plenty of yards for you to start him without being concerned if he will produce enough for you or not, he will.
Odell Beckham Jr: That’s right, I’m saying it now, unless you have a very weak bench and have no real viable alternate options; you should sit OBJ this week. The Giants have a date with the Carolina Panthers and their outstanding defense this week. If you are a fan of a battle within a battle there is a great one in this game and that is OBJ VS Josh Norman! Norman is arguably the best cover corner in the league this year and Beckham is well Beckham. With that said I like Norman in this battle. Beckham will get a few catches and some yards because well that’s about all the Giants can do on offense. But even with the insane amount of targets Beckham gets I know that Norman will be up for the challenge and make it a long day for Beckham. As we have saw in the past if you can get under Beckham’s skin his is prone to getting out of his game and making mistakes. Norman is just the man for the job.
Jordan Matthews: If you have Matthews you probably haven’t been all that pleased with him most of this season anyway and do yourself a favor and sit him down for two major reasons this week, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Between those two top notch man on man cover guys Matthews is in for a long day of get pushed around and not catching balls and being physically punished if his fingers come close to a ball. Bench him!
Sleepers: Stephen Diggs, TY Hilton, Jeremy Maclin
Vernon Davis: It took a few weeks but we finally saw the Broncos implement Davis in the game plan last week. Having to face the Steelers this week which could have huge playoff implications for both teams the Broncos are going to need to be able to put up points this week. Even with their top ranked defense in tow, the Broncos are going to have to score points because the Steelers are going to. Davis is the ideal match up this week as he is still more than skilled enough to get open against LBs and Safeties and should be able to open up the field for everyone else after he carves them up first.
Jordan Reed: As good as the Bills defense can be at times and how bad Kirk Cousins is against any decent defense, there is one match up this week that really favors the Redskins and the is Reed VS anyone of the Bills inside coverage guys. Extremely athletic, fast, strong, and great hands, Reed is a match up nightmare for most LBs and Safeties in the league and the Bills are banged up at both positions which should bode well for Reed. If the Redskins want a chance to get their passing game off the ground, Reed will need to be the guy that gets it started and maybe even shoulder the whole load.
Zach Miller: With the season ending injury to Martellus Bennett, Miller has a chance to step in and put up some numbers, just not this week. The Vikings may be banged up on defense but they still are dominate when it comes to stopping TEs in the passing game. Miller will see more targets this week, whether he does something with them or not is another story, and judging by the dominance of the Vikings LBs and Safeties Miller isn’t going to get away with much.
Eric Ebron: This choice is more about the player than it’s his match up. Ebron has been an embarrassment since he has joined the Lions via the draft. Ranked amongst the highest rated TEs to come out of the college into the NFL in quite some time, Ebron isn’t living up to his billing. He doesn’t run NFL routes, he can’t block, he drops a lot of passes, and struggles to get open regardless to who is covering him. Sit him because you just can’t trust him, no matter who he is playing against.
Sleepers: Gary Barnidge, Ben Watson, Will Tye
Arizona Cardinals: Their opponent cannot sustain drives, loves to turn the ball over, and seems to be littered with internal issues on the offensive side of the ball. Not to mention the Cardinals have the 4th ranked defense in the NFL. Mix these things together and you have the perfect mix for a big day for your defense. The Cardinals love to blitz in every situation and the Eagles minus Jason Peters, love to give up sacks. The Cardinals are going to have a great day on defense, don’t miss out by benching them.
Cincinnati Bengals: Awesome front seven and a back five that is starting to get healthy against a team that can’t pass the ball or well move the ball really at all makes the Bengals defense is a must play this week. Gabbert is still Gabbert even with his last second heroics to help the 49ers to a last second win, he is still prone to bad reads and inaccurate passes and the Bengals will be ready to pounce on these opportunities, play them!
Cleveland Browns: Even with their impressive showing last week with taking down the Blaine Gabbert seven times and holding the 49ers to 10 points, they face the unfortunate task of having to attempt to stop the recently high flying Seahawks offense in Seattle. The Seahawks offensive line has been getting better over the course of the year and the passing attack has been unstoppable in recent weeks. Two things the Browns don’t do well; stop the run or stop the pass, those are two things the Seahawks do well, bench the Browns.
Oakland Raiders: Facing a rejuvenated Packers offense this week is not going to be fun for the Raiders. Yes, Kahlil Mack is a beast and single handedly keep the Broncos from doing anything last week, but there are two big differences between the Packers offense and the Broncos; 1. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, 2. The Packers line can actually block most of the time. The Packers are going to ram the ball down the Raiders throats with Eddie Lacey and James Starks to open up the passing game just like they did last week when McCarthy took over the play calling. I am not saying this won’t be an entertaining game, it does have the potential to be a high scoring game as the Packers aren’t particularly world beaters on defense either, but either way the Packers are going to score points and move the ball against the Raiders.
Sleepers: Minnesota Vikings, New England, San Diego
By Anthony Stampone
If you're still going at this point in the season you are likely in the playoffs, congratulations! I am in the playoffs in all three of my leagues! I finished 3rdin my PPR league, 1st in my standard league, and 4th in some weird I cannot even begin to explain how the scoring works league that I will never do again. I wish you all good luck and hope you read this article and it helps!
Start’ems, Sit’ems, and highly suggested plays or “Sleepers” in my weekly piece.
Position by position Start’em, Sit’em, and Sleeper look at fantasy Hashtag Style
Ryan Fitzpatrick: A guy that may be still sitting on your leagues waiver wire is a great play this week! Fitz has the benefit of playing a terrible Titans secondary with his full complement of weapons. There is no reason to believe Fitz won’t have at least 250 yards and two TD passes to the his monsters on the outside and with Bilal Powell showing up big last week in the receiving game as well out of the backfield, it is going to make things even harder on an already struggling Titans defense. Fitz may even be a better start this week than your usual starter. I picked him up and I am starting him in one of my leagues over Matt Stafford.
Eli Manning: This choice was another easy decision considering who his opponent is. Playing the Dolphins and the train wreck that they are should make for a rather easy day for Manning and his passing attack. The Dolphins have struggled to live up to their hype all year on the defensive side of the ball and have been getting knocked around on almost a weekly basis. Things went from bad to worse when Cameron Wake went down for the season. They can’t get after the QB, their LBs are terrible, and there secondary which was decent last season has been getting burned. OBJ and crew are in for a big day and so is Manning!
Matt Schaub: The master of throwing pick 6’s is back at it again and he isn’t disappointing the other team’s defense. Schaub has to face Seattle this week that has been playing like the secondary we have known them to be over the last three or more seasons. Schaub is in for a long day; he going to get hit a lot, sacked, and yes he is more than likely to continue his impressive ability to give the opposition free touchdowns.
Marcus Mariota: As impressive as he has been so far this year as a rookie, he is in for a rough day. Facing a healthy Jets defense that is welcoming Darrell Revisback with open arms, bad news for Mariota. The Jets have an outstanding front seven and now are completely healthy in the secondary which is a scary proposition for pretty much any QB let alone a rookie that is missing one of his weapons in Kendall Hunter. This is not a defense to mess around with let alone a rookie still finding his way, don’t expect much out of Mariota this week.
Sleepers: Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, JameisWinston
LeSean McCoy: Total homer pick I know! On a serious note there is no reason not to play McCoy this week and if healthy, the rest of the season. McCoy since getting over his hamstring injury has been ripping it up. He has had at least 100 yards (rushing + receiving) in six straight games and will make it seven this weekend. The Eagles are horrendous on defense and the Bills seem to hitting their stride on offense, especially in the running game. McCoy is still McCoy and can make a Grizzly bear miss in a phone booth. I am not one that is for all this “Grudge Match” junk and I don’t buy it; most of the time. This time I am and I think McCoy is ready and going to carve up this Eagles defense both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. Play him and enjoy the stats!
Doug Martin: This may be news to many of you but Doug Martin is 2nd in the NFL in rushing this year and that is with having a “game in hand” being played this weekend against the lowly Saints. Don’t be surprised if Martin grabs hold of that lead over Peterson this weekend and in the process has a huge day, I mean seriously let’s face it, who doesn’t against this Saints defense that seems to have actually gotten worse since Rob Ryan left. Martin is the clear cut #1 in Tampa and will not only get the majority of carries but he will also see passes out of the backfield. Big day coming for Martin coming, enjoy it with him in your lineup.
Davonta Freeman: Unless you have Davonta in a PPR league this is a great week to play someone else or play him as a flex at best. Freeman and the Falcons are in a free fall which doesn’t have much to do with Freeman’s production however, with facing the Panthers this weekend and those insane LBs that hit and wreck pretty much anything that moves. The Falcons haven’t been able to stop the bleeding on either side of the ball and Freeman isn’t getting as many touches this week unless they are passes, and even then that may not make a difference.
Frank Gore: Gore is officially over the hill, let’s just get that out of the way. Gore came into this season with high aspirations that he would finally get a Colts rushing attack going that hasn’t been there since Manning was still their QB. Gore is admittedly beat up and their offensive line is still struggling to block anyone whether it’s in the running or passing game. Facing a Jags defense this weekend that is actually decent against the run which doesn’t look good for an already weak rushing team. Sit Gore; for the rest of the year!
Sleepers: Darren McFadden, Lamar Miller, Thomas Rawls
Travis Benjamin: Benjamin is a must play this week for one reason and one reason only; Manziel. Say what you want about the kid and his issues, one thing he can do and did it well this season is push the ball down field to a speedster like Benjamin. Go back and look at Benjamin’s best games, most of them came with Manziel under center. Playing the 49ers this week, who aren’t very good against the past and will have trouble keeping up with a guy like Benjamin and his amazing speed and underrated route running ability.
Brandon Marshall: Clearly in midseason form at this point, Marshall is tearing it up and has become Fitzpatrick’s safety net. In the last two games Marshall has caught 21 passes for 262 yards, and 3 TDs. With facing the Titans this week there is plenty of reason to believe and trust he will come away with another 100+ yard performance and at least one TD.
Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry: I realize that these two aren’t on the same team (anymore anyway), but this is going to be a fun in game competition to watch. If for nothing else you should watch the Giants and Dolphins game on MNF just to see which ex-LSU Tiger out duals the other. Both players are their teams best WO and are extremely talented. Both of these guys have the ability to change the game in the favor of their team on the offensive side of the ball. If you have either or both of these WOs play them, they will be worth it!
Roddy White: With age comes a drop in production, but I do not believe anyone say this much of a drop in production coming from Roddy in the matter of one season. The questions about the system and the OC can be asked as they also seem to have caused Matt Ryan to look like Matt Schaub, but regardless Roddy isn’t a good play this week. Between playing the Panthers, their scheme, and his lack of production all season there is no reason to play White for the rest of the year.
Amari Cooper: The rookie is having an impressive first season and if it wasn’t for the two rookie QBs playing well Cooper would be a legitimate candidate for ROY. With that said this isn’t going to be a good weekend to play Cooper. Facing the Broncos this weekend and their outstanding defense (still ranked #1 DVOA overall and against the pass), and having outstanding cover corners Harris and Talib to contend with, it makes for a long day for even some of the best WOs in the league let alone a rookie. DeMarcus Ware is also back this week which should crank up the pass rush that didn’t lose much of a step without him, but with him back it changes things up and it will make for a long day for Derek Carr and his passing game. Bench Cooper this week.
Sleepers: Sammy Watkins, Allen Hurns, Jeremy Maclin
Travis Kelce: From all the reports about injuries, Kelce’s ankle seems to be back fully healthy and his play in the last few weeks is starting to show it again. Facing the banged up Chargers this week that doesn’t really have anyone that can cover in their secondary healthy right now except Weddle. With Alex Smith recently finding his ability to spread the field over the last few weeks, Weddle can only handle one guy whether it’s Maclin or Kelce and I do not see him focusing on one guy all game long. Kelce will get his catches and will rack up plenty of YAC to play him this week.
Julius Thomas: Julius has finally entered the building ladies and gentlemen! Thomas has been slowly working his way back this season and seems to have really found his stride in recent weeks. Scoring TDs in the last three straight games Thomas is a must play this week facing the Colts. Indy doesn’t have LBs that can cover Thomas and with Hurns and Robinson working the outside routes, there should be plenty of room for Thomas to work the middle of the field and have even just an OK day but with another TD.
Eric Ebron: Besides catching a TD last week, Ebronhasn’t been much of a threat since he entered the league. Nothing has changed and Tate, Johnson, and Reddick still remain Stafford’s go to guys in the passing game. Ebron doesn’t even see the field as often as he should be that is largely due to the fact that he still can’t really block. Sit Ebron, and if you can replace him with someone else.
Ben Watson: Although the Saints picked up the passing game in a big way last week, Watson wasn’t a big part of it with the exception of his TD which brings him to a total of four for the year. Watson started this season off on fire and was for a while Brees’ go to guy when he needed a 1st down or a TD, but that production has dropped off in a big way recently and it isn’t going to be any better facing off against the Bucs. LavontaDavid is one of the best in the game when it comes to covering TEs and Backs as a LB and is going to give Watson fits all game while he isn’t making plays elsewhere on the field. Sit Watson for someone else.
Sleepers: Gary Barnidge, Charles Clay, Scott Chandler
Detroit Lions: The Lions have seemingly found their balance on defense even after the off-season losses and the loss of stud LB Levy. Even with all the lost personnel, the Lions have been playing great defense minus one play (Do I really have to say the play?). Playing a Rams offense this week that has become so bad and so predictable that I feel the WOs on the Rams are just there to jog laps on the field. No one is afraid of the Rams passing on them and they have caught on to stopping rookie Todd Gurley. The Lions will do those exact things and may even keep the Rams out of the end zone this week.
New York Jets: Completely healthy, playing well, and still amongst the most talented groups in the league face-off against a rookie QB this week. With the lack of weapons to compliment the skill set of their rookie QB, the Titans are in for a long day this weekend and the Jets are going to have some fun on both sides of the ball. Several sacks and a takeaway or two isn’t out of the question and might even be expected, play them!
New Orleans: At this point in the season if you have been starting the Saints defense you need to do two things right now;
1. Thank god the rest of your team is saving your butt!
2. Slap yourself in the face for being so dirt-eating-silly! DUMP THEM FOR ANYONE ELSE!
New York Giants and Miami Dolphins: Based on the fact that I am listing the same two defenses that are facing each other says a lot. This is going to be an offensive game and barring either Manning or Tannehill or both just completely breaking down and throwing repeated INTs this is going to be a face paced high scoring game with neither team able to really stop the other. If you have either of these defenses, bench them or drop them for another team. There should be plenty of better other options out there still.
Sleepers: Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, KC
By Anthony Stampone
The week that will decide your playoff position, or if you are done for the season. Here is some must use input you will want to use to help you this week!
For the remainder of this week’s games, here are your Start’ems, Sit’ems, and highly suggested plays or “Sleepers” in my weekly piece.
Position by position Start’em, Sit’em, and Sleeper look at fantasy Hashtag Style
Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben is having a great season when he can stay healthy, and all of his WO are healthy and ready to push for a Wild Card spot in the AFC. This week Big Ben and the Steelers face the Colts, this couldn’t be a better match up for the Steelers and their talented passing game. Big Ben is going to make a big push for the playoffs and this is going to be a great start, he is going to pick this group apart. Play him with confidence.
Tom Brady: Even with a completely depleted receiving corps, Brady draws the Eagles passing defense this week that is absolutely terrible. Brady as much as it pains me to admit it, is a master of making something out of nothing and that includes who is catching passes from him. He does have a few weapons, which is all he needs in a match up like this. Brady is going to tear this secondary apart. One thing Philly does well is play the run, with that said that will just led to Brady throwing more which is going to benefit all his owners. Play him and don’t question it.
Russell Wilson: After having a career day last week against the Steelers, the Seahawks have a much tougher challenge facing the Vikings this weekend, which is a young, upcoming, and talented defense. Wilson is going to struggle to get his passing game going this week against this defense. Sit him for your other QB.
Matt Schaub: No top receiving options, no start running back, and the master of throwing pick 6’s. Enough said, pretty much ANYONE is a better option.
Sleepers: Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, Blake Bortles
Darren McFadden: The Cowboys are in lost at this point, but would love to play spoiler to a hated rival still in the chase. McFadden is the key to this potential scenario. The Redskins front seven aren’t that impressive anymore (they were at the start of the season but aren’t playing well of late), and can be run against. The Cowboys are going to want to get McFadden going early and often to keep from falling far behind and having to rely on Cassel to lose them another game.
Jonathan Stewart: The Panthers are on a complete role and playing the Saints is just going to help keep the good times rolling for them. The Saints can’t stop a 5 year old from stealing a candy bar right now let alone an undefeated team whether it’s a run or a pass. With the Panthers being run heavy and dedicated to it, Stewart is going to see a lot of touches this week. The Panthers are going to take an early lead in this game and use their great D to keep the Saints in check. Stewart will do the rest on the ground.
Lamar Miller: Unless you are in a PPR league, it would be a great idea to bench Miller this week as he faces a beat up but still strong Ravens front seven. The Dolphins are a train wreck and even with firing their OC that didn’t run enough are still going to struggle to run the ball this week. Miller will more than likely see more carries this week to take the load off Tannehill’s arm, but it won’t matter. Sit him unless he is in a PPR setting as he does catch a lot of passes for the Dolphins.
Melvin Gordon: Even though Gordon has been getting around 15 attempts and around 20 total touches per game for the Charges he has yet to make any kind of impact whatsoever. He doesn’t have a TD yet, he hasn’t had a 100 yard performance yet, and the Chargers are so bad on defense that the offense never really gets a chance to keep feeding Gordon to make these accomplishments. With Denver coming to town with their #1 defense, it is going to be the same story different day for Gordon this week. Bench him!
Sleepers: LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, David Johnson
DeSean Jackson: Dallas’ defense is beat up and they are prone to giving up big plays in the passing game and Jackson is just the man to exploit the match ups the Cowboys will throw at him. His elite speed and ability to get open off the line is going to be a big problem for the Cowboys this weekend. Jackson will take advantage of anyone the Cowboys attempt to throw at him.
Brandon LaFell: With Amendola more than likely on the bench one more week, and Gronk down for a few more also, LaFell more than likely becomes Brady’s #1. Expect LaFell to get targeted early and often as the Eagles CB’s aren’t stopping anyone.
Sammy Watkins: Sammy needs to be put on your bench, and it’s not his fault. It blows my mind as to how the Bills can let Sammy have the half like he did vs the Chiefs last week and put up the numbers he did and then just ignore him and make excuses why they don’t find ways to get him the ball. Every other team with a WO with Sammy’s skills, their team finds anyway possible to get them the ball, Buffalo doesn’t. It is for this reason and how talented the Texans defense is that I say sit him.
Stephen Diggs: The Seahawks are coming to town for a game with big playoff implications for both teams. With that said, yes the Hawks have been getting picked apart lately, but that has been by some good to great passing teams. This is something the Vikings aren’t. If Minnesota wants to win this game they are going to have to ride AP, leaving Diggs and the rest of the Vikings passing game wanting for every little scrap they can get. Bench him!
Sleepers: Brandon Marshal, DeAndre Hopkins, Amari Cooper
Jordan Reed: Reed is still Cousins’ favorite target and he has been playing outstanding since his return from injury. He gets a lot of good passes thrown his way and has been a great chain mover all season. The Redskins are 5-0 at home this season and don’t exactly face the toughest challenge playing the Cowboys this week. Several catches, 70 yards and a TD isn’t a stretch for Reed this week.
Travis Kelce: He appears to be back to full health, or close to it and outside of him and Maclin the passing game for the Chiefs is weak. Kelce will have a big game against the Raiders, who do struggle to stop the pass. They will dedicate coverage to Maclin to help avoid being beat deep, which will leave Kelce open for more passes and a big day.
Antonio Gates: With Philip Rivers completely devoid of really any weapons on the outside, he has been doing a great job of getting his talented TEs the ball early and often. With that said the Broncos are coming to town and bring their #1 ranked defense with them. Since the Chargers don’t have much if any real threats on the outside that will leave the extremely talented CB duo of Talib and Harris to take turns shutting down Gates. Sit Gates because he is going to be blanketed all game.
Heath Miller: Even though Roethlisberger is able to play this week I predict that the Steelers will keep Miller in more often than not to help block for him considering how beat up Big Ben has been all season. The Steelers have enough weapons already on the outside that Miller going out for passes isn’t going to be needed and he can stay in and help keep his QB upright and healthy.
Sleepers: Gary Barnidge, Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett
Denver Broncos: After performing well against the Patriots, the Broncos face an extremely banged up offense in facing the Chargers. Missing starting OL, WOs, and no semblance of a running game, this should be a big day for the Broncos even with Rivers playing out of his mind considering what he has to work with. Denver will get to Rivers, sack him, rattle him, move him off his spot, and make him throw when he doesn’t want to, which is going to force a few turnovers.
Arizona Cardinals: After being surprisingly upset earlier in the season but the Rams, the Cardinals come in red-hot and do not look to be slowing down anytime soon. On an absolute role following back to back divisional wins the Cardinals will look to avenge their loss earlier this season and make it 3 straight against their division at home against the Rams. The Rams can’t pass the ball at all and everyone knows it including the Cardinals and their 3rd ranked defense. Gurley is going to get stuffed and Foles isn’t good enough to make up for that. Play the Cardinals with confidence in their ability to get to Foles and stuff the run.
Philadelphia Eagles: They play the Patriots and have given up 90 points in the last 2 games. Does anymore need to be said?
Cleveland Browns: Charged with the task of attempting to slow down a dominate force is not fair to a team like the Browns and their defense, but that is what they have to attempt to do this week playing the Bengals. Good luck! Dalton is on fire, the running game is dangerous and is a legitimate two headed monster attack. The best Cleveland can do on defense is hope the Bengals trip over themselves (which isn’t impossible) and cough the ball up or make stupid mistakes. Other than this unlikely event sit the Browns, the Bengals are going to run through this defense, literally and figuratively.
Sleepers: Washington Redskins, New England, Carolina Panthers