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