We’ve spent a lot of time on the playoffs this week and we will continue to because that’s why they play the game. Lots of fun games to watch this weekend with an eye on the post season. Can the Vikings take control of the NFC North hosting the Packers? Can the Falcons rebound off their bye week against an Andrew Luck-less Colts? Have the last couple of weeks of the Chiefs been legit?
The big one is Sunday Night as the Bengals travel to Arizona. The Cardinals can almost mathematically lock up the NFC West with a win, but the Bengals have to prove they aren’t the same old Bengals who lose when it matters, like they did to the Texans last Monday night. The added dimension to this game is the Carson Palmer versus his original team angle. Palmer feels the Bengals gave up on him when they drafted Andy Dalton and many Bengals players and executives feel Palmer gave up on them well before that. It should be a lot of fun.
I’m particularly excited for the Broncos going to Chicago to take on the Bears. The Bronco’s have been a shell of themselves on offense this season and the defense’s effectiveness has waned in recent weeks. On the flip side the Bears have been a team on a mission. Well coached, disciplined and the coaches have reigned in Jay Cutler’s turnovers. The big thing is the Bronco’s moved on from Bears coach John Fox at the end of last season and I’m sure he is aching to send the Bronco’s home with their 3rd straight loss. I haven’t looked at the 1 o’clock schedule for what game’s are on broadcast, but I’m hoping this is the one I get one one tv, while I have red zone on the other tv.
4 bye week teams this week. Check your fantasy lineups! Get anyone on the bye list teams out of your fantasy lineups, after you finish reading this whole article, of course.
|CLE (2-8)||NO (4-6)||NYG (5-5)||PIT (6-4)|
|TEN (2-7) @ JAC (3-6)|
|OAK (4-5) @ DET (2-7)||IND (4-5) @ ATL (6-3)|
|STL (4-5) @ BAL (2-7)||TB (4-5) @ PHI (4-5)|
|DEN (7-2) @ CHI (4-5)||NYJ (5-4) @ HOU (4-5)|
|WAS (4-5) @ CAR (9-0)||DAL (2-7) @ MIA (4-5)|
|KC (4-5) @ SD (2-7)||GB (6-2) @ MIN (7-2)|
|SF (3-6) @ SEA (4-5)|
|CIN (8-1) @ ARZ (7-2)|
|BUF (5-4) @ NE (9-0)|
- They have decided to let Johnny Football be named the starter and see what they have with the kid. It’s about time. I don’t see why they were wasting their time with Josh McCown to begin with. Was the 34 year old journeyman QB really going to bring them to the playoffs? It’s the sort of organizational dysfunction that has become a hallmark of the Cleveland organization since its resurrection.
- Gary Barnidge is still the only fantasy relevant player on the Browns, but Manziel could be interesting if they let him do his run throw thing. Travis Benjamin is borderline useable, but not particularly reliable.
- It’s all over. They had a slim chance to make the playoffs and now it’s gone. It’s way too tough a row for them to hoe at this point. Firing Rob Ryan is step one in trying to get back to relevance, but are they going to lose Sean Payton and Drew Brees as is widely rumored? Probably. Complete overhaul could ahead for the Saints organization.
- The Saints still have some very relevant players fantasy wise, Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks and Ben Watson are all nice pieces and probably starters for you. Other than that I don’t think you can be too comfortable starting anyone.
- I noted yesterday that the Giants aren’t that far away from being 9-1. They are the not so dark horse in the NFC right now that I don’t think anyone is going to want to play down the stretch or in the playoffs.
- Start Odell Beckham Jr., and maybe Eli Manning. Roster Shane Vereen and Rashard Jennings and let all the other Giants be erased from existence.
- My god Big Ben Roethlisberger is pretty amazing. He could barely move, but it got better as the game went on and he destroyed the Browns. As that game got out of control Mike Tomlin had to be asking who else could possibly take a snap so he didn’t need to risk another injury to Big Ben. I bet Antonio Brown was begging to take a few, but that would have been just as counterproductive.
- The Steelers guys are going to be studs down the stretch. Roethlisberger, Brown, Martavis Bryant, DeAngelo Williams and Heath Miller in the 4-12 TEs you hope fall into the end zone.
TENNESSEE (2-7) @ JACKSONVILLE (3-6) [-3]
- Oh the Titans. They suck. I don’t see Mike Malarkey being able to keep this job going forward, the talent around him wouldn’t seem to support him being able to do enough to get the gig full time. There isn’t a wealth of talent anywhere. Their best offensive player is the first round pick, QB Marcus Mariota and their best defensive player is on IR, Jason McCourty.
- Don’t start anyone on the Titan in fantasy. You can roster Mariota, Dorial Green Beckham and maybe David Cobb if you have roster spots filled with bums and you think these bums are a little better, but that’s personal preference.
- There is a chance starting this week for the Jags to march to the AFC South title. No one seems to want it, so it they want to claim it, that beings tonight. They have the players and their defense has been playing well enough that they have plenty of offense to compete and win late.
- Lots of potential injuries to watch for, so if you have Sunday options, you are probably better off waiting and using the Sunday guy instead of the Thursday night guy. Those guys are Allen Hurns and TJ Yeldon. Allen Robinson, Blake Bortles are both nice plays. Julius Thomas could be a sneaky play if Hurns is out. The problem being it’s Thursday and are you paying that close attention, not only to the Thursday game, but this Thursday game? I am, but barely and I’m such a football junkie it has a tendency to cost me relationships. You probably aren’t that committed.
Jaguars 38, Titans 24
SUNDAY 1 PM GAMES
- The Raiders should take solace in all of their losses so far in 2015. None of them are bad and only one of them wasn’t close. They are a good team and, as I said earlier this week, I really hope they get into the playoffs because not only do I think they will give a team a good game, but could even beat some of the playoffs teams and really come into their own.
- The Raiders fantasy guys are established now. Derek Carr is a second/third tier QB and a very solid start most week. Latavius Murray is a weekly starter and top 20 RB. Michael Crabtree has emerged as the true number 1 WR and Amari Cooper has hit a bit of the rookie wall, but is still a top 25 WR, and were he to jump into the top 15 again I wouldn’t be surprised.
- The Lions are a bad team that got lucky and barely snuck by a downtrodden Packers team last week. They have started to assemble their new front office administration and my best guess is that they go another direction from Jim Caldwell as soon as this season ends.
- Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron are people who can be used in fantasy on a weekly basis. The rest of the cast of characters is at best a desperation play.
Raiders 35, Lions 10
- The Colts have lost Andrew Luck and are going to now pay for their early season struggles and bad losses and likely miss the playoffs. They AFC South is a mess so, a couple of wins in his absence would prevent a playoff death sentence, but I don’t think they have enough talent to overcome losing your best player.
- I think Frank Gore is still a top 20 RB and maybe even top 15 now. TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief are more speculative plays for me now. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are just outside that 4-12 hope they fall into the end zone TE party, but I think one of them could emerge and jump into the high end of that party.
- THe Falcons need to come out and dominate an undermanned Colts team. They are off the bye and far healthier than the Colts. Julio Jones should be back to himself after the extra rest and if the Falcons look back at the weeks they dominated they got him the ball early and often, then worked in the running game. I expect to see a return to that form.
- Fantasy wise it could be a big week for Matt Ryan, Jones and Devonta Freeman. I don’t particularly trust anyone else, but if Leonard Hankerson is healthy again he was developing as a usable top 35 WR. Could be a nice stash on your bench as the playoffs approach.
Falcons 31, Colts 17
- I’ve got no idea why the Rams are getting points in Baltimore. I know they are starting Case Keenum, but they have a far superior defense and they have Todd Gurley. So I’ll happily take the points. If the Rams are serious about the playoffs, and I think that is debatable, they need to show they can win this game on the road against an awful team.
- Todd Gurley and the defense are the only regularly useable fantasy guys. I still think there is a possibility that Tavon Austin becomes regularly useable. So if he is available in your league add him to your roster.
- The snake bitten Ravens have seemingly nothing going for them in 2015. It doesn’t mean they won’t show up to play anymore, but I suspect they will be playing with an eye toward 2016, which means more snaps for younger players who they are trying to evaluate.
- I don’t foresee Joe Flacco sitting much so he is a possible play week to week. Justin Forsett will likely get 15-20 touches a game still and Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens wil put up some serious points on occasion, but I hardly expect it to be predictable and as such won’t be useable in fantasy.
Rams 24, Ravens 17
- I’m extremely excited about the 5.5 points the Bucs are getting. It’s probably a mistake to be so happy about that because it means I am reliant on Lovie Smith to coach well. What have I done?!?!?!
- Jameis Winston has almost snuck his way into the top 15 QBs, which makes him an interesting case to consider week to week. The fantasy player to watch for the Bucs this week is Mike Evans. The Eagles stink at covering WRs and Mike Evans gets most of Winston’s attention, but can he catch the majority of the balls thrown his way.
- I don’t see Mark Sanchez leading the Eagles to a playoff spot, but if he were going to they have to win this week. Can they? Sure, but I don’t expect them to. I think losing Sam Bradford and Ryan Mathews is going to put too much pressure on the rest of the offense and allow the Bucs, good defense to shut down DeMarco Murray and Mark Sanchez.
- Murray, Darren Sproles, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz stand to get the bulk of the touches. How effective they all can be with those touches becomes the million dollar question.
Buccaneers 21, Eagles 10
- My question is how fast downhill can the Broncos fall? The offense is on life support and the defense looked terrible against the Chiefs. Is that a function of Peyton Manning ineffectiveness being cause enough to draw the whole team down? I’d say yes.
- Start Demaryius Thomas, I’d wait to see the effectiveness of Emmanuel Sanders a week or two before starting him and I’d wait to see which back gets the lion’s share of the carries in an attempt to alleviate the stress on Brock Osweiler of running the whole show.
- John Fox is doing an amazing job with the Bears. He, and Adam Gase, have made Jay Cutler more than respectable again and he has limited the crippling game ending turnovers. What the defense is lacking in talent they are making up for in spades with scheme, and it’s working. I don’t think they are about the run the table or head to the Super Bowl, but serious playoff contention is on the table.
- Cutler, Alshon Jeffery (if he plays), Matt Forte (if he plays), Jeremy Langford (if Matt Forte doesn’t play), and potentially Martellus Bennett, if you need one of those 4-12 TEs.
Bears 27, Broncos 13
- After a fast start against fairly weak teams the Jets have come back to the pack. Can they rebound with Ryan Fitzpatrick just out of surgery and a defense that has been on a steady downslide the last few weeks.
- Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Chris Ivory are the only guys I want to touch in the next couple of weeks. And I don’t love any of them. The defense that also looked like a fantasy stud, but of late looks far more like a streaming option.
- A great win for the Texans in Cincinnati, but was it too little too late? Also TJ Yates isn’t good enough to bring them to the playoffs, but is he good enough until Brian Hoyer comes back? Is Brian Hoyer good enough when he comes back?
- DeAndre Hopkins and the defense are the only guys I care about in fantasy on the Texans.
Jets 16, Texans 10
- The Redskins came out and throttled the Saints, a pretend playoff team. They are now saddled with facing their second undefeated team in 3 weeks, the Panthers. Will they be able to do a little more against the Panthers than they could against the Patriots? I suspect no. Not that the Redskins are a fraudulent team, but they aren’t on the level of the top tier teams yet.
- WR Jamison Crowder is the best bet for fantasy points this week and going forward for the Redskins. I know Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are the sexier names, but they sure aren’t performing at a sexy level. Matt Jones is the best RB talent, while Alfred Morris is just a guy getting handoffs. None of the later four are useable this week in fantasy, even if your are desperate in my opinion.
- It’s almost never pretty for 60 minutes, but the Panthers just keep winning. Once they clinch a playoff spot I expect a lot of the play calling to be mildly altered to protect Cam Newton more, as the Panthers are a far superior team when he is healthy then when he is not.
- Newton, Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart are all fantasy starters, and Newton and Olsen are studs and if Stewart gets in the end zone a little more regularly he will be too. Everyone else’s value is speculative at this point.
Panthers 34, Redskins 24
- What can we expect from the Cowboys? Between the return of Tony Romo, the poor effect the Greg Hardy situation has had on the locker room and the fact that their series of close losses since the Romo injury have to have taken it’s toll. If they are perfect they can get back into it, but they aren’t likely to be able to be perfect, especially without Sean Lee.
- I’d take a wait and see approach with Romo, but I’d be fine with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Darren McFadden.
- Every Time the Dolphins look out of it, they do something to get back into it, like win a game. I mean it’s a stretch to say they are in the heart of the playoff race, but they are certainly on the periphery and 2 wins could vault them straight into the heart.
- I’m not in love with anyone on Miami fantasy wise this week. Jarvis Landry will have plenty of targets and Lamar Miller should have around 20 touches. I don’t know what to think about Ryan Tannehill against this team but he has scored double digit fantasy points every week this season and that isn’t anything to sneeze at.
Dolphins 24, Cowboys 21
SUNDAY 4 PM GAMES
- Back from the grave, the Chiefs are like the Walking Dead. Are they really this good? Defensively I think for sure. And while I’m no Alex Smith believer he has been amazingly aggressive at taking what he can get from defenses with his feet and that has really allowed Charcandrick West to flourish.
- West and Travis Kelce are the only 2 guys I definitively want in fantasy. Jeremy Maclin is talented, but I don’t think you can count on him.
- What sort of life will be left in San Diego for the Chargers to deal with? There won’t be any life from the fans, we know that, San Diegans have given up knowing that there is a great chance Chargers are in LA next year. As far as the team is concerned? Who knows. Philip Rivers is never going to give up, but does he have anything to work with, because of injury not really at all.
- Rivers is a debateable start, Antonio Gates is one of those 4-12 TEs and Danny Woodhead can be OK in PPR. Melvin Gordon should be ok in the future when the Chargers line is revamped, but right now I’d keep him on my roster.
Chiefs 35, Chargers 17
- It’s possible the Packers don’t recover from whatever this is that ails them and with the way the Vikings defense has been playing I certainly don’t see it happening this week. The offensive line is likely the core of the issue and I have no idea if that is something they can fix in season with their current personnel.
- You have to start Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, but the rest of them I’ve got no idea. James Starks is probably going to be good and Eddie Lacy probably is too, eventually, but this week against Minnesota? No thanks.
- They won a nice game last week when the money was against them. Told me they are ready for a big surge and I think taking the reigns of the NFC North from the Packers is a great way to announce they are serious contenders for the NFC Championship game.
- Don’t look now, but the Adrian Peterson I said could carry the Vikings to the NFC title showed up last week. With a little more balance and 4 or 5 deep shots down the field to Stefon Diggs and Mike Wallace the balance in the VIkings offense could equal their defense and give them a serious chance to run through the NFC playoffs.
Vikings 21, Packers 17
- How hard should the Seahawks work to try and get into the playoffs? That becomes the question. Not that they would ever give up on the season, but they are taking Robert Frost’s road less traveled a little too literally. Their best offense is their defense and Russell Wilson really isn’t big enough to keep taking the amount of hits he has been. Something has to give.
- Russell WIlson, Marshawn Lynch (if he plays), Thomas Rawls (if Lynch doesn’t play) and maybe Jimmy Graham are good starts and so is the defense.
- Is Jim Tomsula still an NFL head coach? Why? Only because they are playing out the string, right? Then the 49ers will revamp from the top down, right? If you are a 49ers fan (god I’m sorry for that) you have to hope this is the case.
- Carlos Hyde? Shaun Draughn? Torrey Smith? Let’s use this little guide, if you don’t want to watch a player actually play the game, then you don’t want them in your fantasy lineup.
Seahawks 27, 49ers 9
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- If the Bengals want to prove they are legit they need to at least be in this game start to finish. A loss on the road to a 7-2 team on a short week isn’t a problem, but if they get blown out the “same old Bengals” stories are going to come back with avengence.
- I don’t hate the matchups this week, but the Bengals players have been particularly inconsistent of late. If you have another top 30 RB, I think it’s safe to bench Jeremy Hill, but I think guys like Matt Jones are too far a reach.
- Good win in Seattle. Now they need to figure out their protection scheme so they can keep Carson Palmer upright. Their future success relies on Palmer being upright, we saw that last year.
- Start your Cardinals. I don’t love how John Brown has looked, and Palmer seems to have lost a bit of faith in Brown, but he could explode for another 10 catch game at any moment.
Cardinals 27, Bengals 24
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- The Bills won a good one against the Jets and then Rex has come out and made it all about him and New England again, not at all about how his teams match up. This hasn’t worked too well in the past for Rex and I don’t see it working for a victory now.
- Lesean McCoy, Sammy Watkins and Tyrod Taylor are all solid starts this week.
- The Patriots survived in New York last week and that is the best way to put it. Now can they continue to survive the number of injuries they keep accumulating?
- Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Legarrette Blount and maybe Brandon LaFell and Scott Chandler are good plays with week. I want to see more from James White before I can see him as a starter.
Patriots 38, Bills 34