There are some really great games on tap in Week 14 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Several of these games should have their fair share of fantasy points scored, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There are also a few games that should be hard fought, difficult battles. Regardless, continue playing the match-ups in making your line-up choices. You will find our Fantasy Points Allowed for Offense and Fantasy Points Allowed for Kickers & Defense helpful in that analysis.
This week, many fantasy footballers are battling it out in round one of the fantasy football playoffs. For other fantasy footballers, it’s still a must-win week with playoff spots to be determined next week. That said, starting rosters need to reflect the best talent on your team, in the best match-ups. At this point, if you have to pick between two playmakers and it’s a tough call, to some degree, you need to go with players you trust as their team’s playmaker, balanced with the match-up. If you are on the cusp of a playoff birth, think of what got you to where you are and stick with it. Something must be working. Pick players off waivers you need and drop players who have been ineffective. Hand-cuff your stud running backs. The Fantasy Greek’s Best Fantasy Football Playoff Schedules and Worst Fantasy Football Playoff Schedules should help.
As you should know, whether you should play the players on your rosters in any given week should be contingent in part on the match-up. This is not about making the perfect choice because we don’t know how players will really do on a week-to-week basis. Rather, this is about making a sensible and reasonable choice on which player to play. So, to assist in being your “Second Opinion for Your Fantasy Football Instinct,” the goal in “Fantasy Football Weekly Choices” is to provide you, the fantasy football owner, with enough information to make sensible and reasonable choices in setting your line-up this week by reviewing the weekly match-ups and identifying which players are “On the Gridiron,” a “Coach’s Decision,” or “On the Pine.” For many of you, the information provided simply provides affirmation to the decisions you have already made. If you like, skip the fluff, and find your player’s match-up for analysis. If you are looking for a waiver wire pick-up, then look for those players still on your waiver wire, and you can read that analysis too.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Identifies players you should play because of their match-up or because of their role on their team’s offense.
COACH’S DECISION: Identifies players who you normally would play but whose match-up this week is not very good; identifies players who you normally would not play but whose match-up this week is good; or identifies players who are injured that you, the fantasy coach, will need to make the call on whether or not to play.
ON THE PINE: Identifies players who you should likely avoid unless there is no one else on your roster or on the waiver wire that can help your team win.
NOTE: Since kickers’ weekly performances are difficult to predict, kickers will not be categorized but defenses (DST) will. As to kickers, just get a good one on a team that will give the kicker an opportunity to score points.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
Sunday, December 11th
1:00 p.m. EST
BUCCANEERS (4-8) v. JAGUARS (3-9)
The Buccaneers have had a disappointing season compared to the expectations we all had for them this season. The Buccaneers’ 1-4 road record hasn’t helped, and they are 0-5 in their last five games. While the Jaguars have had their own problems this season, they have won some pretty tough games against some very good opponents. The Jaguars have also played many teams tough. The Jaguars are a little tougher at home and have won a game in their past five. We expect to see a lot of Pocket Hercules in this game. With how much the Buccaneers struggle defending the pass, the Jaguars should get a decent passing game going, even though we don’t know which players on the Jaguars would play the best in the passing game. This is a tough game to call because of how poorly each team has played this season. Yet, there is enough reason to believe that the Jaguars will win this game playing at home.
ON THE GRIDIRON: RB Maurice Jones-Drew has been awesome this season! Besides being the player that the offense revolves around, and bowling over even the most difficult opponents, Jones-Drew is also a must-start because the Buccaneers allow the second most fantasy points to running backs.
COACH’S DECISION: Last weekend, RB LaGarrette Blount was supposed to tear up the gridiron, but he didn’t. In addition, Blount has had some off the field issues. While the Jaguars’ rush defense hasn’t been as good as it was earlier in the season, it’s still good enough that given all the circumstances, Blount is an option as an RB3 or mid-level flex-play. WR Mike Williams has quietly had a fantasy-resurgence in the second half of the season. While his performance may not set the fantasy world on fire, Williams is certainly a WR3 option this week even against a tough Jaguars pass defense. TE Kellen Winslow has been hit or miss. However, the Jaguars do allow the seventh most fantasy points to the position. If you have no better options this week, Winslow is worth a look. The Jaguars offense gives up the second most fantasy points to opposing defenses, which makes the Buccaneers DST a viable option for owners searching for defensive help this week. While the Buccaneers’ offense has had its share of protection problems and turnover problems, it’s not enough to make the Jaguars DST a must-play this week. The Jaguars DST is a candidate for the pine.
ON THE PINE: Even though the Jaguars struggled last weekend against the quarterback position, QB Josh Freeman has struggled all by himself most of the season. This is a good week to avoid Freeman (if healthy) in fantasy.
PATRIOTS (9-3) v. REDSKINS (4-8)
The Patriots have been dominating most of their opponents with their high powered offense as their 4-2 road record reflects, having won four of their last five games. The Redskins are trying to finish out the season strong. However, they have lost four of their last five games and are hardly better at home than on the road at 2-4. There will likely be some scoring in this game. Still, while the Redskins should challenge the Patriots for a bit, the Patriots should eventually pull a way for the win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Even though the Redskins have a pretty good pass defense, fantasy footballers are starting the main playmakers in the Patriots’ passing offense, including QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker, TE Rob Gronkowski (high TE1), and TE Aaron Hernandez (low TE1).
COACH’S DECISION: Because the Redskins’ pass defense is better than most, WR Deion Branch makes for an option as a WR3 start this week. The Redskins allow the twelfth most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Still, because of the uncertainty of how the Patriots will use the run, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis makes for a low-end RB2 or flex-play this week. While the Redskins have had their share of problems turning the ball over, they can run and pass the ball too. This is a week to avoid the Patriots DST if you can. However, if you have to start them, you could do worse. Because the Patriots struggle at pass defense, allowing the third most points to quarterbacks (did you see how well Colts QB Dan Orlovsky did last weekend?), QB Rex Grossman is a fantasy option this week. While you will have to live with the risk Grosman brings to the table, the fact is his arrow is pointing up in this game. That said, the Patriots allow the most fantasy points to wide receivers, making WR Santana Moss a strong WR3 play this week, and WR Jabar Gaffney a low-end WR3. Both should be strongly considered for fantasy gridirons if any of your other receivers has drawn a particularly difficult match-up. While the Patriots’ rush defense seems better, this is in part due to the fact that most team’s play from behind when facing the Patriots, forcing them to abandon the run for the pass. However, RB Roy Helu is a versatile back who can both run and catch the ball. If you own Helu, treat him as a low-end RB2 or solid flex-play for this game. If you own Helu, it will likely be the case that you will have to play him in some capacity, which is absolutely fine.
ON THE PINE: The Patriots allow the second least fantasy points to opposing defenses and special teams. This is a week to keep the Redskins DST firmly on fantasy pines.
TEXANS (9-3) v. BENGALS (7-5)
The Texans, like the Bears, have had the worst string of luck due to injuries. Still, they are 5-0 in their last five games and are 4-2 on the road. The Bengals, as you well know, are playing through the toughest stretch of their schedule. And, even doing so, are 2-3 in their last five games and a pretty good home team at 3-2. Unfortunately, this is a tough Texans team that is deep enough that it can still play strong because they have one of the best defenses in the league, have the best rushing game in the league, and have a rookie quarterback that can actually play well enough for them to win. The Fantasy Greek sees the Texans coming out on top for the win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Bengals have a pretty good rush defense, but not near the best. Still, the Texans have one of the best offensive lines and best running backs in RB Arian Foster. As the offense will run through Foster, he should be on fantasy gridirons. While the Texans have the sixth best fantasy defense against opposing wide receivers, WR A.J. Green has been, for the most part, match-up proof, and is worth a start as a WR2.
COACH’S DECISION: TE Owen Daniels didn’t have a very good outing last weekend, even though we expected more. This week, Daniels faces a Bengals’ defense allowing the fourth least fantasy points to the position. While the Texans rookie QB could still try to utilize him in this game, fantasy footballers would be better off benching Daniels this week. Last weekend was a reminder that while RB Ben Tate can make for a good flex-play, he can also make for a bad one. The thought here is to consider starting your other options before going with Tate. The Texans DST has been tremendously good this season. While they can still be started, fantasy footballers need to keep in mind that the Bengals allow the fourth least fantasy to opposing defenses. So, if there is a week to give your second defense a look, this is it. If there is a week to avoid RB Cedric Benson, this is it as the Texans allow the third-least fantasy points to the position. Still, if you have to consider playing Benson, treat him as an RB3 or low-end flex-play.
ON THE PINE: WR Andre Johnson has already been ruled out. Rookie QB T.J. Yates should be avoided given the match-up against a Bengals defense allowing the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. As for WR Kevin Walter, TE Joel Dreessen, and WR Jacoby Jones, your guess is as good as The Fantasy Greek’s as to which, if any does anything in this game. They should be avoided. QB Andy Dalton and TE Germaine Gresham should be avoided as they play a defense at the top of defending their respective positions. The Bengals DST has struggled a bit lately, but they have been playing some pretty good teams in this portion of their schedule. The reason to avoid the Bengals this week is that the Texans allow the fourth least fantasy points to opposing defenses.
CHIEFS (5-7) v. JETS (7-5)
The Chiefs have been mired by the injury bug since the early part of the season and it hasn’t stopped. Still, they have been playing tough, but have only had one win in the past five weeks. They are a solid road team at 3-3. The Jets have played far below expectations, but have had flashes of dominance in each aspect of their game. Now, if the Jets could get each phase of their game to click at the same time, they would be dominant. The Jets are playing well enough that they are 3-2 in their past five games. At home, the Jets are 5-1. This is a game that just invites a Jets win and The Fantasy Greek sees it happening with the Jets defense dominating.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Last weekend, RB Shonn Greene had an outstanding, break-out game. This week, Green should have another good game against a Chiefs’ run defense, that while better, is still giving up the ninth most fantasy points to the position. With all the offensive struggles the Chiefs have had, allowing the fifth most fantasy points, the Jets DST is a must-start.
COACH’S DECISION: With as good as WR Dwayne Bowe can play, the struggles the Chiefs have had in the passing game do not help. Further, this week, a date with Revis Island and the Jets No. 3 pass defense versus wide receivers does not help. At best, Bowe is nothing more than a WR3 this week. Better yet, he is a candidate for the pine. The Chiefs DST has been off again and on again. Lately, they have been “on.” This week, they are a potential play against a Jets team allowing the ninth most fantasy points to opposing defenses due to their turnover issues. With it being the playoffs, both WR Santonio Holmes and WR Plaxico Burress are due consideration. However, the Chiefs pass defense has come on strong, especially against quarterbacks playing less than expectations. While the Jets’ passing game hasn’t been bad, it hasn’t been good either. So, this week, consider Holmes a low-end WR2 and Burress a low-end WR3. With the Chiefs allowing the thid most fantasy points to tight-ends, TE Dustin Keller makes for a good play as a tight-end start if you need the help.
ON THE PINE: Like last week, it goes without saying that QB Tyler Palko is simply not an option in fantasy football until he can do something on the gridiron. Even if QB Kyle Orton were to play this week, he would likely not be an option either against a Jets’ defense allowing the fourth least fantasy points to the position. With the passing game struggling, WR Steve Breaston and WR Jonathan Baldwin are simply not options either. Likewise, the Chiefs haven’t established any one of their running backs — RB Jackie Battle, RB Thomas Jones, or KR-WR Dexter McCluster — as key cogs in the offense. Even though McCluster had a good game last week, it doesn’t mean he’ll have a good game this week. The Chiefs have been playing better defensively as of late. While their defense is ranked towards the middle of defenses against quarterbacks, this is such an important week for most fantasy footballers, QB Mark Sanchez should be avoided.
VIKINGS (2-10) v. LIONS (7-5)
The Vikings show promise, but for next season. This season is about the Lions – a team that is better than it was last year, and a team that is fighting to stay in the playoff hunt after some key losses, injuries, and the suspension of one of its most important players. Still, the Lions are where they need to be to make a playoff push, and this week the Lions should beat an overmatched Vikings team.
ON THE GRIDIRON: There are indications that RB Adrian Peterson could play this weekend, but it is not certain. If Peterson plays, fantasy footballers will likely have to start Peterson as a low-end RB1 or RB2 as the offense would revolve around him. Fantasy footballers have to believe that if he is playing, the Vikings believe he is ready to return to the gridiron. As the Vikings have the worst pass defense in the league, QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson are must-starts this week. The Lions DST is a solid play this week regardless of who is under center for the Vikings.
COACH’S DECISION: The Lions have a pretty good pass defense, and there is a good chance that QB Christian Ponder may miss this game. It’s a tough match-up to begin with. With a healthy QB Christian Ponder, WR Percy Harvin should be on fantasy gridirons. Without Ponder, Harvin would be no better than a low-WR3 and a candidate for the pine. This is just a week where The Fantasy Greek worries that Harvin may not do well as this game seems wrought with offensive pitfalls. If Peterson misses this game, RB Toby Gerhart would get the start. While the Lions rush defense is pretty good, Gerhart would make for a decent flex-play. Because the Vikings’ pass defense struggles, WR Nate Burleson is an option as a WR3 as is TE Brandon Pettigrew, even though you should consider them both with your other receiving options. The Lions rank in the middle of all teams defending the rush. If RB Kevin Smith plays, (last reports suggest he may not), or if RB Maurice Morris starts in his stead, the one due to get the start makes for a low-RB2 option or solid flex-play.
ON THE PINE: Regardless of whether QB Christian Ponder or QB Joe Webb gets the start this week, both should be avoided in fantasy. Likewise, TE Visanthe Shiancoe and the Vikings DST haven’t done much this season. Both should be firmly on fantasy pines.
SAINTS (9-3) v. TITANS (7-5)
The Saints’ offense seems to be getting better each and every week. Besides, the Saints are on a roll, having won four of their last five games and are 3-3 on the road. The Titans are playing well too, having won three of their last five games. In addition, they are a strong home team boasting a 4-2 record. The fact is, however, the Saints are surgically dissecting the defenses they have been facing. While the Tiatns defense is good, the Saints offense should be better. The Fantasy Greek sees a Saints win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Titans have one of the better overall defenses in the league. Yet, the Saints boast one of the best overall offenses in the league, regardless of the opponent. So, fantasy footballers with QB Drew Brees, RB Darren Sproles, TE Jimmy Graham, and WR Marques Colston should continue starting them, as usual. Graham has a good chance of having another break-out performance against a Titans pass defense allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the position. RB Chris Johnson has been playing well the last several weeks and should have an opportunity against a Saints’ rush defense ranked tenth in most fantasy points to running backs. Johnson should be on fantasy gridirons this week as an RB1/RB2.
COACH’S DECISION: As the Titans rush defense is ranked towards the middle of all rush defenses, RB Pierre Thomas makes for a decent RB3 or flex-play this week. While it may sound like a broken record, as it pertains to the other Saints wide receivers, it is clearly a carousel of options with none of them being a sure thing in fantasy. Indeed, for WR Robert Meachem and WR Devery Henderson, they haven’t done much for fantasy footballers on a consistent basis. It seems that WR Lance Moore has done the best among them when called upon. Yet, the number of plays they are on the field, and the number of balls thrown their way seems to be constantly changing. As such, none of them are very good options, given this uncertainty. Preferably, these three receivers should be avoided if possible. Everyone knows the Titans will have to get their passing game going, which will give QB Matt Hasselbeck an opportunity to post some good fantasy numbers. Still, given his inconsistency, consider your other options first. Because the Titans will likely have to pass the ball, WR Damian Williams makes for a WR3 option in fantasy for owners who need the help. TE Jared Cook hasn’t played well in a few games. The Saints do allow the ninth most fantasy points to tight-ends. So, Cook has a chance this week but consider your other options first.
ON THE PINE: RB Mark Ingram has been ruled out of the game already with turf toe, an injury that could linger in the fantasy playoffs. With Ingram out, RB Chris Ivory should get some work but not enough to be fantasy-relevant right now. Even with the Titans’ various offensive struggles, the Saints DST should likely be avoided, as the Titans are sixth in least fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. Similarly, the Titans DST should be avoided, as the Saints allow the third least fantasy points to opposing defenses. It’s unclear whether WR Nate Washington will play this weekend. Still, if he does, he seems like a shaky play.
EAGLES (4-8) v. DOLPHINS (4-8)
It is well known that the Eagles have been struggling this season, having won one of the last five games. This week, the Eagles get Michael Vick back and at this point in the season, have nothing to lose. The Eagles are 3-3 on the road. Even though the Dolphins have been out of the playoff hunt for a while, they are playing like a team looking to win out. The Dolphins defense has been solid and the offense getting better each week. The Dolphins have been so good that they have won four of their last five games. The Dolphins are 3-3 at home. This is a tough game to call. The Eagles seem like they are sliding and the Dolphins rising. The return of Michael Vick should help the Eagles. This game will be a battle. In the end, The Fantasy Greek feels that there will be some decent scoring in this game. The Fantasy Greek also feels that the Dolphins defense should do enough to help the Dolphins win a close game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: QB Michael Vick is going to play this week. The Dolphins have played better defensively in the last several weeks, and are playing tough. Still, Vick is a solid start against a Dolphins team that can struggle against teams that can pass the ball. Regardless of how good the Dolphins’ rush defense is, RB LeSean McCoy has been solid all season long. There is no reason to believe that McCoy doesn’t play well in this game, and he should be considered a solid RB2. As for the Dolphins, RB Reggie Bush is a must-start against a rush defense allowing many fantasy points to RBs. Regardless of the match-up, WR Brandon Marshall should all be on fantasy gridirons as a low-end WR2 given his talents against even the toughest defenders.
COACH’S DECISION: WR DeSean Jackson has been a disappointment this season. However, his talent cannot be denied. So, at best, consider Jackson a WR3 for fantasy purposes given the match-ups and the issues to date. WR Jeremy Maclin was supposed to play this week, but was recently down-graded to questionable. If healthy, Maclin should bounce back from injury as a low WR2 in this match-up. However, if Maclin is ruled out, Jackson gets a bump in value and WR Riley Cooper becomes a WR3 for this match-up. The Dolphins defense has been good but it has had its share of problems defending tight-ends. For this reason, TE Brent Celek is a good option this week for fantasy footballers looking to fill the position. QB Matt Moore is playing well, and with an Eagles defense that ranks towards the middle of all teams defending the position, Moore can be on fantasy gridirons. RB Daniel Thomas did a decent job last weekend and is at best a flex-play in the match-up with Bush dominating in the running game. The Dolphins DST is a solid option with the way they have been playing.
ON THE PINE: The Eagles DST has struggled this season and the Dolphins’ offense is playing a higher level. Keep the Eagles DST on the pine this week. TE Anthony Fasano has had his opportunity in good match-ups. Until he establishes himself in the offense with some consistency, keep Fasano on the pine.
COLTS (0-12) v. RAVENS (9-3)
The Colts’ offense showed signs of life last week with QB Dan Orlovsky under center. This week, though, the Colts play a Ravens defense that is one of the best in the league. Moreover, the Colts defense has simply struggled this season defending opponents. All signs point to a Ravens blow out at home where they are 6-0.
ON THE GRIDIRON: For the Colts, their pass and rush defense against the QB, RB, WR, and DST positions ranks fifth, third, eighth, and third in most fantasy points allowed. Because of this, QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, WR Anquan Boldin, WR Torrey Smith (as a WR3), and the Ravens DST are must-starts this week.
COACH’S DECISION: The Ravens have one of the best run defenses in the league, allowing the fourth least fantasy points. RB Donald Brown has been the best running back for the Colts. While Brown has RB3/low flex-play value, if you can avoid him in this game, you should. WR Pierre Garcon has been the best receiver on the Colts this season for fantasy football purposes, and that is not saying much right now. The Ravens are eighth in pass defense against WRs. Like Brown, Wayne is a player to avoid if possible, but he has WR3/flex-play value if you need the help.
ON THE PINE: For various reasons, including the fact that the Ravens have one of the best defenses in the league as it pertains to all positions, QB Dan Orlovsky, RB Joseph Addai, RB DeLone Carter, WR Reggie Wayne, WR Austin Collie, TE Dallas Clark, and TE Jacob Tamme should all be on fantasy pines. There is nothing about this match-up were the Colts DST should be active in fantasy either. Even though there is nothing bad about the match-up, TE Ed Dickson has been inconsistent.
FALCONS (7-5) v. PANTHERS (4-8)
The Falcons have been playing much better than their rough start at the beginning of the season. In part, it has to do with their schedule, and in part with the resurgence of their defense. Matt Ryan has been playing better too. The Falcons have won three of their last five games and are 3-3 as visitors. The Panthers are on a two-game winning streak and most teams don’t have an answer for rookie Cam Newton. Still, you can’t win a game without a defense. Even though the Panthers have won two of their last five games, the Panthers have struggled at home at 2-4. The Falcons should control this game from start to finish. Their greatest challenge will be to slow Cam Newton. The Falcons should win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: With the Falcons going against the worst rush defense in the league, RB Michael Turner is a must-start RB1 this week. While the Panthers’ pass defense is better, it has struggled the last several weeks. So, QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones (as a WR3), and TE Tony Gonzalez should all be on fantasy gridirons this week. The Falcons’ weakness is their pass defense, and for among other reasons, QB Cam Newton and WR Steve Smith are must-starts this week too.
COACH’S DECISION: The Panthers rank towards the middle of all teams in fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. The Falcons DST is an option this week. The Falcons’ strength is their rush defense. While RB Jonathan Stewart has low RB2/flex-play value, RB DeAngelo Williams is no better than a low flex-play in the match-up due to his role in the offense, and right now, is better off on fantasy pines.
ON THE PINE: TE Greg Olsen has been a shaky start since the beginning of the season. It doesn’t help that the Falcons are among the top-ten team in fantasy defending tight-ends. The Panthers DST is simply not a consideration at his point in the season.
Good luck this week!