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.” We also provide you with a down-n-dirty set of Quick Hit lists for those players that should be 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, November 27th
4:05 p.m. EST
NOTE: For fantasy purposes, while several players will be highlighted below that could have good games this week for owners, some of these players may not be able to be used in fantasy due to injury, their game status being questionable. As this is the Sunday afternoon games, Sunday night game, and Monday night game, owners may not want to start a player that could become inactive by these games’ kickoffs without that player’s back-up on the roster or without another player who has a 4:15 p.m. game, the Sunday Night game, or the Monday Night game to insert into your active line-up.
REDSKINS (3-7) v. SEAHAWKS (4-6)
The Redskins have been in a tailspin for over a month now, having last all of their past five games. No one really know what they’ll get from this team on a week-to-week basis even though showing much promise at the beginning of the season. Much of the same can be said about the Seahawks except that at the beginning of the season they struggled, and now, the Seahawks are starting show that they can compete even with a passing game that has struggled. The Seahawks defense has been the key. With the Redskins struggling on the road (1-4), traveling to the far Northwest against a Seahawks team that has won two of its last five games, the Seahawks should have what it takes to win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: RB Marshawn Lynch has been HOT, HOT, HOT in the running game, regardless of the opponent. Even though the Redskins are in the middle of all teams defending the rush, Lynch is a must-’start. The Redskins pass defense has been tough. But, so long as the Seahawks keep throwing to WR Sidney Rice, he continues to perform. Rice is a high WR3 this week.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Rex Grossman looked pretty sharp last week. The Seahawks do defend the quarterback position well, but so did the Cowboys. If you can, avoid Grossman due to his inconsistency and because the Seahawks have been playing tough as of late. Similarly, WR Jabar Gaffney had a breakthrough performance in Week 11. The Seahawks have been defending the pass well. While Gaffney is an option, albeit a low one, should WR Santana Moss make it back to the gridiron this week, both receivers should be off fantasy pines. The Seahawks actually have had a tougher time defending tight-ends. Still, TE Fred Davis has struggled posting fantasy points the last two weeks even though a playmaker on the team, and even with decent match-ups. Keep this is mind when setting your line-up and even consider keeping Davis off the gridiron if you can. The one thing we can say is the Seahawks continue to give up an inordinate amount of fantasy points to opposing defenses. In part, this is due to the fact that their pass protection has been pretty awful. As such, the Redskins DST should be able to have a decent game here, and can be started, if you need the help. The Redskins have similar issues to the Seahawks but their consistency on turning the ball over has been an issue. The Seahawks DST is one of the most underrated units in the league, and this week, can be on fantasy gridirons.
ON THE PINE: With all the issues surrounding the running game for the Redskins — Who will start? Who will get the carries? —- RB Roy Helu and RB Ryan Torrain should be on fantasy pines because the Seahawks defend the position well, the sixth best in fantasy. It almost goes without saying that QB Tavaris Jackson should be on fantasy pines due to the fact that until the Seahawks can properly protect him, Jackson will continue to be sacked and continue to turn over the ball. Even though WR Doug Baldwin or WR Mike Williams could do something this week, The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options.
BEARS (7-3) v. RAIDERS (6-4)
The Fantasy Greek has been looking forward to this game for some time even before the news that QB Jay Cutler was lost to the Bears until at least Week 16. The reason is both the Bears and Raiders have been playing good football, and many did not think either team could be playing this well entering Week 12. The Bears obviously suffered a big blow with the loss of Cutler, but their defense has been playing extremely well. The Bears have won their last five games. Even though QB Caleb Hanie is under center, the Bears should come out with a mix of rushing and passing, favoring the rush. It’s a game they can control. The Raiders will have their own game plan, likely a good 50-50 mix of passing and rushing. The Raiders have won three of their last five games. The Bears are 2-2 on the road and the Raiders 2-3 at home. No team has the clear advantage but The Fantasy Greek likes the Bears for the win in a close game as they have been finding a way to win their football games. Indeed, before last week, the Bears were winning despite what their offense was doing.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Among other reasons, with the Bears expected to come out run-heavy, and the Raiders giving up the fifth most fantasy points to running backs, RB Matt Forte is an obvious must start. With the way the Bears have been playing, and given the Raiders turnover issues, the Bears DST should be active this week. Even though the Bears have been stout defending the run (ranked seventh in fantasy), RB Michael Bush has been too good to keep off the fantasy gridiron.
COACH’S DECISION: As the Bears will likely emphasize the rush, RB Marion Barber becomes a low level RB3 or solid flex-play in the match-up. WR Earl Bennett has been great since his return to the gridiron. Even though there is nothing too difficult about this match-up, this could be a week to give Bennett a rest until we see how the Bears offense looks with Hanie under center. Still, Hanie will have to throw to someone and Bennett could be started as WR3 if you have no better options. QB Carson Palmer is a good option this week with the Bears ranked towards the middle of fantasy defenses against quarterbacks. However, there is a genuine possibility Palmer will turn the ball over in this game, so keep your expectations in check. The Bears can give up the yards to opposing wide receivers. However, the Raiders wide receivers are banged up. Still, latest reports have WR Denarius Moore, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, and WR Jacoby Ford all active for the game. Out of the three, WR Denarius Moore is the healthiest and potentially the best bet to do something in the game. Still, if you could avoid all three, you should do so because your guess is as good as The Fantasy Greek’s as to which one will play the best among the three. With every passing week, the Bears points allowed to opposing defenses keeps going down. This week, with a new quarterback under center, the Raiders DST makes for solid option.
ON THE PINE: It goes without saying QB Caleb Hanie should be on fantasy pines until we see how he does. However, all indications are, in terms of the match-up, that he should play well as the Raiders entered Week 12 allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the quarterback position. If the Bears offensive line can continue protecting Hanie, we should continue to see a good Bears passing offense. Last week, both WR Johnny Knox and WR Roy Williams had a role in the passing offense. This week, we will simply monitor how they do. Knox’s arrow is pointing up.
Sunday, November 27th
4:15 p.m. EST
PATRIOTS (7-3) v. EAGLES (4-6)
This is another dandy of a game between a Patriots team that is coming off one of its easiest, and most lop-sided victories of the season and an Eagles team that is coming off a H-U-G-E win against the division rival Giants where they all but had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Patriots are 3-2 on the road and have won three of their last five games. While the Eagles have also won three of their last five games, they haven’t played well at home with a 1-4 record. The Fantasy Greek is not counting the Eagles out of this game as the hometown fans will likely not be providing the Patriots much of a warm welcome. Yet, the Patriots have just been playing too well and should be up for the challenge. In a game where there should be many fantasy points posted, The Fantasy Greek is calling this a Patriots win in a close one.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Regardless of how good the Eagles’ pass defense could be (it’s generally ranked in the middle of all fantasy teams), QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker, TE Rob Gronkowski, and TE Aaron Hernandez (as a low TE1) should all be active in fantasy. Indeed, there is some reports that suggest Eagles corner Nnamdi Asomugha could be injured. With the Patriots’ rush defense ranked toward the middle of all teams, and the Patriots’ pass defense one of the worst in the league, RB LeSean McCoy and WR DeSean Jackson are must-starts this week.
COACH’S DECISION: While it was looking like RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ role was diminished, Green-Ellis gashed the Jets last week and came out of the game with a solid performance. If the Patriots considered the match-up, it would be a favorable one as the Eagles rank eight in most fantasy points allowed. Yet, because it is hard to gauge what the Patriots will do in terms of the rushing game, treat Green-Ellis as a low-RB2 or solid flex-play this week. In general, WR Deion Branch makes for a low-end WR3 that can be started. However, he is a bit banged up so injury reports should be monitored leading into this week’s game. Consider the Patriots DST a solid option against an Eagles’ offense that has had its share of problems turning the ball over. It’s looking more and more like QB Vince Young will be getting the start for the Eagles. After a solid performance last week, Young is a solid option against a Patriots team allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Indications are WR Jeremy Maclin will not be playing this week. Should he play, he should be on the fantasy gridiron. If he does not play, WR Riley Cooper should get the start and he immediately becomes a WR3 option in fantasy. While the Patriots defend opposing TEs well, TE Brent Celek remains an option, albeit not the best one, because Vince Young likes to toss the pigskin to the position.
ON THE PINE: The Eagles DST should be avoided regardless of how well they played last week, as the Patriots allow the second to least fantasy points to opposing defenses. QB Michael Vick is not expected to play in this game.
BRONCOS (5-5) v. CHARGERS (4-6)
This is a different Broncos team than the one the Chargers played in Week 5. In that same vein, this is a different Chargers team than the one the Broncos played in Week 5. Everything about this game smacks of unorthodox football play, even for the Chargers who just haven’t looked right in weeks. The Broncos are 3-2 on the road, and the Chargers are 3-2 at home. The Broncos have won four of their last five games while the Chargers have lost their last five games. If anything, it seems as if the Chargers have lost their mojo, doesn’t it? In a shocker, The Fantasy Greek sees the Broncos finding a way to pull out the win in an upset of the Chargers.
ON THE GRIDIRON: With the Chargers rash of injuries, their rush defense has become progressively worse with each passing week. While RB Willis McGahee ended up being limited in his last game, he should be at full strength this week and should be active as an RB2. Even though the Broncos’ defense has improved vastly the last several weeks, they have still typically struggled against the pass making QB Philip Rivers, WR Vincent Jackson, and TE Antonio Gates all players that should be on fantasy gridirons. The Broncos are better at defending the rush but RB Ryan Mathews still makes for a solid RB2 start.
COACH’S DECISION: QB Tim Tebow, for all his football flaws, is getting the job done and is startable as a low QB1 against a Chargers defense allowing the tenth most fantasy points to the position. With the Chargers recent struggles, their pass defense has also been struggling making WR Eric Decker a low WR2 start this week. The Chargers are giving up the sixth most fantasy points to opposing defenses so you can consider the Broncos DST a solid option this week. With Ryan Mathews expected to play, RB Mike Tolbert is, at best, a low-end flex-play. Consider WR Vincent Brown a low WR3 option, only if you need the help. The Chargers DST can be active too with all the issues the Broncos have had protecting Tebow.
ON THE PINE: Neither WR Eddie Royal nor WR Demaryius Thomas have turned into viable, weekly receiving options in the offense, so they should be avoided in fantasy.
Sunday, November 27th
8:20 p.m. EST
STEELERS (7-3) v. CHIEFS (4-6)
After a long-needed bye week, the Steelers return to face a Chiefs team that looks to be on the verge of imploding with all the key personnel losses they have sustained this season. The Steelers seem to be a team that is improving each and every week. Suffice it to say, The Fantasy Greek is expecting a lop-sided victory for the Steelers who have won four of their last five games and are 3-2 on the road. While the Chiefs chances are better at home, where they are 2-3, there is no reason to believe that the Steelers will do anything but win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Because they face a Chiefs’ defense that has struggled defending both the pass and the rush, QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Mike Wallace, and WR Antonio Brown should all be on fantasy gridirons this week. In addition, the Chiefs allow the second most fantasy points to opposing tight-ends, so TE Heath Miller should be active in all formats. With QB Tyler Palko struggling, the Steelers DST is a fantasy must-start. For the Chiefs, only WR Dwayne Bowe is worth the start as a low end WR3 against a fantasy defense allowing the third least points to the position.
COACH’S DECISION: While the Steelers have struggled defending the rush, RB Jackie Battle doesn’t make for a very good play beyond a low-end flex-play, as he has been hardly used and the Chiefs are likely to fall behind in this game forcing them to pass the ball.
ON THE PINE: WR Steve Breaston has a chance, as does KR-WR Dexter McCluster, but this is simply the wrong week for fantasy footballers to take a chance. The Steelers have had their share of issues turning the ball over and in pass protection but given the hot and cold character of the Chiefs DST, they should be avoided in fantasy play.
Monday, November 28th
8:30 p.m. EST
GIANTS (6-4) v. SAINTS (7-3)
Wow! Now, this out to be a great Monday night football game! Both the Giants and Saints are hungry for another win – especially the Giants, who suffered a disappointing loss to the Eagles last week. Both teams have been playing so well that both are 3-2 in their last five games. The Giants are 3-2 on the road but the Saints are undefeated at home. This game should turn into a shootout. Where there should be many fantasy points scored, The Fantasy Greek is picking the Saints, at the Super Dome, in front of the hometown fans in “Nawlins.”
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Giants have struggled in both pass coverage and rush defense. As such, QB Drew Brees, RB Darren Sproles, and WR Marques Colston should be active as usual. Keep starting TE Jimmy Graham, but note that the Giants are one of the better teams defending opposing tight-ends, so a more tempered game in terms of fantasy stats for Graham is possible. Likewise, the Saints have struggled in both pass coverage and rush defense. So, QB Eli Manning can be started as a solid QB1, and both WR Hakeem Nicks and WR Victor Cruz can be started as WR1s. As for WR Mario Manningham, monitor his injury status. When healthy, he makes for a WR3 play. Even TE Jake Ballard has value in this game as a solid TE1 as the Saints allow the seventh most fantasy points to the position.
COACH’S DECISION: As it pertains to the other Saints wide receivers, as you well know, 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. It seems, that WR Lance Moore has done the most 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 change constantly. As such, none of them are very good options this week. Preferably, these three receivers should be avoided if possible. Neither the Saints DST nor the Giants DST is a very good option this week as the Giants give up the ninth least and the Saints give up the fourth least fantasy points to their opponents. However, you could do worse. With the Giants’ struggles in rush defense, both RB Mark Ingram and RB Pierre Thomas could do something this week. However, both are at best, low flex-play options. With the Saints struggles in rush defense, RB Brandon Jacobs is an option as a low end RB2 or high end RB3/flex-play.
ON THE PINE: RB Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to miss at least one more week from the gridiron.
Good luck this week!