With the last week of the fantasy football season at hand, this week’s “Choices” article will focus very much on the players that really should be on the gridiron, given that different teams have different incentives for finishing out the season. This week, you will have to account for those players whose teams have no reason to play because their teams have clinched a playoff spot, and because a win this weekend will not substantially improve their playoff seeding. Several players are banged up too. Also, you will need to be diligent Sunday as to the announcement of inactive players and players that are starting. Players that are starting will likely carry the load for their teams this weekend and should be played.
Even though it is Week 17, you should continue to pick up players off waivers that you need, and drop players who have been ineffective or who you will not use this week. Also, you should still be playing your best players, in the best match-up, this week.
As you know, the goal in Fantasy Football Choices is to provide you, the fantasy football owner, with enough information to make sensible and reasonable choices in setting your line-up 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 simply provides affirmation to the decisions you have already made. For others, hopefully this will help you make a good choice on a tough decision. This week, besides the match-ups, if you have a choice, you want players on the gridiron who have incentive to play, and incentive to play well.
Onto the fantasy match-ups and your choices!
1:00 p.m. EST GAMES
PANTHERS (2-13) v. FALCONS (13-2)
The Panthers season is obviously over. With a win, the Falcons lock up the number one seed in the NFC, and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Expect the playmakers for the Falcons to play hard through at least the first half of the game, and possibly more. If the Falcons can build a substantial lead by two or three touchdowns, expect the players for the Falcons to be benched and their back-ups to get substantial playing time. The Fantasy Greek can see no reason why the Falcons do not win this game against the Panthers.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Because the Panthers have one of the worst rush defenses, Michael Turner is a must-start and he should see substantial playing time. As usual, Roddy White remains a must-start because of his playmaking ability. If there is a week to feel comfortable getting Tony Gonzalez on the gridiron, this is it, as the Panthers have had problems defending opposing tight-ends. Because the Panthers have had more than their share of turnovers — one of the worst in the league — the Falcons DST should be on the gridiron.
COACH’S DECISION: The only Panthers player worth a start this week is Jonathan Stewart. While he has been hot, it must be noted that the Falcons are one of the best teams against opposing running backs. So, you should treat Stewart as no more than a low-level RB2 or flex-play this week. As far Matt Ryan, who would be difficult to bench given how important this game is to the Falcons, the Panthers are still one of the best pass defenses in the league, regardless of what happened last week against the Steelers. Unless your other quarterback has a much more favorable match-up, you could do worse by not playing Ryan. If you believe that the Falcons will pull away early in this game, say by half-time, or shortly thereafter, then Jason Snelling should see a good amount of playing time and would make for a decent flex-play.
ON THE PINE: The Panthers have been so bad due to the sub-par play of Jimmy Clausen, no other player for the Panthers is worth starting in fantasy, including Steve Smith. The Panthers DST should be avoided as they should not win this game and the Falcons do a good job protecting the ball. No other player is worth fantasy consideration this week.
STEELERS (11-4) v. BROWNS (5-10)
This should be a hard fought game by both the Steelers, who are 6-1 on the road, and the Browns, who are 3-4 at home. The Steelers are fighting for a first round bye and many of the Browns are fighting for jobs next season. Yet, the Steelers will be going all out to win this game unless they see the Ravens, who are playing at the same time, getting blown out by the Bengals. While the Browns should be in this game, the Steelers are playing good ball right now. The Fantasy Greek sees a Steelers win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Browns are towards the middle of the league defending both the pass and the rush. As such, Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall are solid starts this week, as is Mike Wallace as a WR2 and Hines Ward as a WR3. While difficult to trust in most weeks, the Browns have had their share of problems defending opposing tight ends. So, unless your other tight-end has a better match-up, Heath Miller can be on the gridiron. The Steelers DST is a must-start this week.
COACH’S DECISION: Peyton Hillis has struggled lately. The Steelers should be focused on stopping the run with their No. 1 rush defense and forcing the Browns to pass the ball. Indeed, Hillis did not have one of his best games when these two teams met last. So, if you have better options, you should consider it. Otherwise, treat Hillis as a low-level RB2.
ON THE PINE: Indeed, the Steelers have been an all-around good team defensively this season, so the remaining Browns’ players like Colt McCoy and Ben Watson should be avoided. While the Steelers have had their share of problems turning the ball over and protecting Big Ben, this is simply a week you should have better options than the Browns DST.
VIKINGS (6-9) v. LIONS (5-10)
Neither team is playing for anything except pride and a strong finish. For many players, they are fighting for jobs in 2011. Nonetheless, there are a few players that should be fantasy-relevant, nonetheless, this week. The Vikings are 2-5 on the road and the Lions are 3-4 at home. This is a tough game to call as it looks like it will be a defensive battle. However, The Fantasy Greek thinks the Lions should eke this game out over the Vikings.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Lions have been pretty bad defending the rush, and with Adrian Peterson expected to play, he should be on fantasy gridirons this week. If you own Peterson, make sure he is hand-cuffed with Toby Gerhart in case the Vikings choose to rest their best player. Regardless of who is under center for the Vikings, Percy Harvin remains a must-start in fantasy. If he plays, Calvin Johnson is a must-start against a middle-of-the-road pass defense. Because the Vikings have a difficult time defending tight-ends, Brandon Pettigrew can be on fantasy gridirons this week.
COACH’S DECISION: Joe Webb is the prototypical “new era” quarterback who can throw and run with the ball. While his first outing was pretty awful against the Bears, his last looked solid against the Eagles. Still, you should consider your other options. Every quarterback that has worked in the Lions offense has done a good job. While you would think that Shaun Hill would then be a must-start, the fact of the matter is the Vikings still defend the pass well so you should consider your other options. If Calvin Johnson misses this game, you would think then that Nate Burleson would have a chance to put up some meaningful stats. However, Burleson would not be the most ideal candidate for the gridiron at this point in the season. Also, it remains true that the Vikings have had their share of problems with turnovers, regardless of who is under center. Moreover, the Lions have been playing at a high level defensively for the past month. If you need the help, and your other defense has pulled a tough match-up, or is banged up, the Lions DST can be on fantasy grid-irons this week.
ON THE PINE: The Lions do a good job defending tight-ends, so Visanthe Shiancoe should be firmly on fantasy pines. Believe it or not, the Lions do a good job protecting the ball, so avoid the Vikings DST this week too. The Vikings are still one of the top defenses against the run. So, neither Maurice Morris nor Jahvid Best should be active this week.
RAIDERS (7-8) v. CHIEFS (10-5)
The Chiefs aren’t playing for much this week — a win would give them the AFC No. 3 seed, a loss would give them the AFC No. 4 seed in the playoffs — except the rushing title for Jamaal Charles. The Raiders have had a solid season and performed beyond anyone’s expectations. Certainly, it is expected that they will be playing for a win in this game. This is a tough game to call too, given the Chiefs’ motivations, as well as the fact that the Raiders played the Chiefs tough when they last played several weeks ago. Yet, The Fantasy Greek still thinks the Chiefs can win this game at home.
ON THE GRIDIRON: As the Chiefs rank towards the middle of all rush defenses, Darren McFadden (injured, toe) and Michael Bush can both be active this week as an RB2 and flex-option, respectively. Even if you believe that Jamaal Charles will only play one half of football, so long as he is active, this should be enough. Charles should be on fantasy grid-irons as a solid RB2. Given the problems that the Raiders rush defense has had, Thomas Jones makes for a solid flex-play this week. As for Dwayne Bowe, he is difficult to bench but his owners have to consider that Namdi Osamugha will be covering him this game. Because of this, Bowe is no better than a WR3. The Chiefs DST can be on the gridiron this week against a Raiders team that has had its share of turnover issues.
COACH’S DECISION: Strictly speaking, this is a great match-up for Matt Cassel, even though the Chiefs should be able to isolate Dwayne Bowe because he still has so many other weapons, and the Raiders otherwise struggle against opposing quarterbacks. Still, The Fantasy Greek thinks you have better options. The only reason why Jacoby Ford is a Coach’s Decision this week is because he smoked the Chiefs’ pass defense in their last meeting for 148 yards. Obviously, you should consider your other options, but Ford would make for a sleeper play this week. As the Raiders struggle defending opposing tight-ends, Tony Moeaki has a chance to do something this week. Still, he should likely be on the pine given his inability to consistently take advantage of favorable match-ups. The Chiefs had some difficulties against the Raiders when they last met. So, the Raiders DST is a candidate this week for the gridiron, but it would be a risky play given how good the Chiefs have been otherwise protecting the ball and their quarterback.
ON THE PINE: This isn’t the worst match-up against a Chiefs pass defense that ranks towards the middle of the league. Yet, The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options than Jason Campbell, Louis Murphy, and Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Chiefs are one of the best defending opposing tight-ends. As such, Zach Miller should be avoided in fantasy play this week.
DOLPHINS (7-8) v. PATRIOTS (13-2)
The Patriots have little to play for as they have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. While they will likely play some of their starters for a period of time, The Fantasy Greek has to think many will be benched by the early in the second half of play. Losing a player like Wes Welker last year in the season finale is simply not worth it. In the end, common sense should prevail for the Patriots. It would almost be better to avoid most of the players in this game for purposes of fantasy football. The Fantasy Greek is calling this a Patriots win because they will find a way, even with their back-up players, to pull this one out.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Both Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess should be solid starts as a WR2 and a WR3, respectively. With Miami struggling to protect the ball, the Patriots DST can be on the gridiron, even if the defensive starters are pulled.
COACH’S DECISION: The Patriots have had their share of problems defending the rush, so while not typical fantasy starters these days, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have a chance to do something this week as an RB2 or flex-play. Still, you should consider your other options. Even if Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Rob Gronkowski play, they will be facing one of the better pass and rush defenses in the league. You could do worse by not starting these players as they should do something in this game, but their upside appears to be limited.
ON THE PINE: Chad Henne is simply undependable. Anthony Fasano faces one of the better defenses against tight-ends. And, the Dolphins DST faces an offensive unit that does a good job protecting the ball and the quarterback. Aaron Hernandez is out due to injury.
BUCCANEERS (9-6) v. SAINTS (11-4)
The Buccaneers will likely be playing hard for a win, but they need the Packers and Giants to lose to make the playoffs. For the Saints, the only way they can secure a number one seed in the playoffs is if the Falcons lose, which doesn’t seem likely. So, the Saints should be scoreboard-watching and could pull their starters after the first half. Still, both teams’ playmakers should see enough action in this game to be fantasy-relevant. The Fantasy Greek is calling this a Saints win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Saints’ rush defense has struggled at times, so LaGarrette Blount should be active this week. While the Bucs pass defense has been generally tough this season, it is banged up and the Saints took advantage of them when they last played earlier in the season. As such, Drew Brees should be on the fantasy gridiron even if he is pulled from the game. With Marques Colston likely out due to his recent knee surgery, Robert Meachum is a must-start. As the Buccaneers struggle at rush defense, Pierre Thomas should be considered a low-RB2 or solid flex-play this week.
COACH’S DECISION: The Saints are very good against opposing wide-receivers and tight-ends. While Mike Williams should not be benched, his owners should expect him to do no better than one TD in this match-up. Owners of Kellen Winslow, on the other hand, should consider him a candidate for the pine if they have a better option. As for Lance Moore and Devery Henderson, consider them no better than WR3s and only if your other receivers do not have a better match-up. Jimmy Graham has been hot as of late and he is difficult to bench. Yet, the Bucs do a good job defending tight-ends and you should consider your other options. The Buccaneers DST has struggled of late. While the Saints give up their share of turnovers, you should consider your other options. The Saints DST can be active this week, but know that the Bucs generally do a good job protecting the ball.
ON THE PINE: Even after last week’s outstanding performance, and even though the Bucs may have to throw the ball often, Josh Freeman should be avoided this week against one of the best pass defenses. Both Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush could get in the mix this week. But, they are difficult to trust. Marques Colston is out due to injury.
BILLS (4-11) v. JETS (10-5)
The Jets have little to play for as the only way they could move up in the playoff seeding would be with a win, and a Ravens win, and Steelers loss. The Jets are likely to sit their playmakers. The Fantasy Greek thinks the Jets will win this game anyway.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Jets have struggled defending the pass, so Steve Johnson should be active this week. Downgrade Johnson to a Coach’s Decision, however, if Ryan Fitzpatrick misses this game due to injury. The Jets DST remains a must-start because of the problems the Bills have had turning the ball over.
COACH’S DECISION: As the Jets have had their problems against opposing quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick (if healthy) is an option, albeit not a great option, this week. Fred Jackson has struggled of late because he has faced some of the best rushing defenses in the league. The Jets are one of the best too. So, Jackson is no better than a low-level RB2 this week. Shonn Greene or Joe McKnight will likely start instead of LaDanian Tomlinson. Because the Bills boast one of the worst rush defenses in the league, both should get their share of carries and either should make for a solid RB2 or flex-play depending upon which one gets the start. If Dustin Keller gets some playing time, and he likely will, the Bills are one of the worst teams defending tight-ends. Between Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, Edwards is likely the one to get the most playing time this weekend. In any case, it is unclear whether it will be enough to be fantasy-relevant, against one of the better pass defenses in the league. Neither is better than a WR3 this weekend.
ON THE PINE: Mark Sanchez and LaDanian Tomlinson are simply not likely to play this week or they will see very limited action. Even though Mark Brunell could do something in place of Sanchez, it would be against a Bills defense that has played well in the past month. But, even though they have played well in the past month, the Bills DST should be avoided because the Jets do a good job protecting the ball and the Jets will likely be running often.
BENGALS (4-11) v. RAVENS (11-4)
The Ravens need a win and a Steelers’ loss to have a chance at a first round playoff bye. The Ravens will be playing hard for at least the first half of the game. But, if the Steelers begin to pull away from the Panthers, you will likely see the playmakers for the Ravens taken out of the game. From a fantasy perspective, players for the Ravens are players you should consider avoiding this week, if possible. The Bengals should play hard too, if last week’s game against the Chargers is any indication. The Bengals’ players are playing for jobs next season. In a tough game to call, because of the motivational factors to win, the Ravens should barely win this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The match-up is right for Ray Rice as an RB2, Anquan Boldin as a WR2, and Derek Mason as a WR3. Obviously, there is the risk that they are pulled out of the game, but it is likely worthwhile to roll with these players, as they should do some damage in even one half of play.
COACH’S DECISION: Joe Flacco has been playing well the last several weeks. While this is not the toughest match-up for Joe Flacco, it isn’t ideal either. The Bengals have been tough against opposing quarterbacks this season. If Flacco is pulled from the game, this would be awful for his owners who start him. So, consider your second quarterback option if you have one. The Bengals are in the middle of all teams defending opposing tight-ends, so Todd Heap could do something in this game. The Bengals have given up their share of turnovers, so the Ravens DST is an option this week. Even though the Ravens have shown that they can be vulnerable to the pass, Carson Palmer should likely be avoided this week. That said, the only two receiving options that you may consider, if you absolutely need the help, are Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson of the Bengals. Either could do something in this game, but again, you would need to have no other better options in rolling with either in this game.
ON THE PINE: The Ravens defend opposing running backs and tight-ends very well, so Cedric Benson and Germaine Gresham are good candidates for the pine this week. All other players for both teams should likely be avoided. The Ravens do a pretty good job protecting the ball, so the Bengals DST should be on the pine this week too.
4:15 p.m.EST GAMES
TITANS (6-9) v. COLTS (9-6)
One thing is absolutely certain in this game: the Colts have to win this game to guarantee that they make the playoffs. They could still make the playoffs with a Jaguars loss, but you have to think that the Colts will not bet their 2010 playoff hopes on the Jaguars winning. The Fantasy Greek expects the Colts to win, but also expects the Titans to make a game of it.
ON THE GRIDIRON: All of the Colts’ playmakers should be on fantasy gridirons this week, including Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Jacob Tamme. As last week’s game showed, Joseph Addai is healthy, and while he will likely share carries with Dominic Rhodes or Donald Brown, he should still put up stats as an RB2. While Blair White can also be on the gridiron, he is no better than a low-level WR3. As for the Titans, this is a very favorable match-up for Chris Johnson against the Colts who have struggled against the rush all season long. While the Colts are better at defending the pass, there is no reason that Kenny Britt should not be active in line-ups this week.
COACH’S DECISION: If you need help at quarterback, Kerry Collins is an option, albeit not the best one. In addition, because the Colts are in the middle of all teams defending opposing tight-ends, Jared Cook is a tight-end that could be started in fantasy if you are desperate for help.
ON THE PINE: As both the Colts and the Titans do a good job protecting the ball and their quarterbacks, the Colts DST and the Titans DST should be avoided this week. No other player for either team is worth fantasy consideration.
BEARS (11-4) v. PACKERS (9-6)
The only way for the Bears to better their No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, is to beat the Packers and for the Falcons and Saints to lose their games. It is a lot to ask for, given the match-ups. So, while Lovie Smith proclaims that the Bears will be playing to win this game (no doubt all Bears fans would like to beat the Packers, and vice versa, regardless of the circumstances), it belies common sense to think the Bears would risk injury to their best players in what is likely going to be a meaningless game for them. Obviously, because this is the afternoon game, if the Falcons and Saints do lose their contests, then we would expect the Bears players to go all-out for the win in order to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Otherwise, the Bears’ playmakers are risky starts this week. The Packers need the win this week to make the playoffs, as they do not want to place their 2010 playoff hopes in the hands of the Giants and Bucs. The Fantasy Greek sees this as a Packers win at Lambeau.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Even though the Bears play the pass tough, you have to think that Aaron Rogers and Greg Jennings are primed to have good games this week. The Packers DST remains a must-start defensive unit in such an important game.
COACH’S DECISION: The Packers defend the rush and pass well, so Matt Forte and Johnny Knox could have off-games, or they could bust out again as they have the past several weeks. At worst, Forte is a low-level RB2 or solid flex-play in fantasy. At worst, Johnny Knox is a low-level WR3. If any starter for the Bears has a chance to put up some points this week, it is Greg Olsen because the Packers do not defend tight-ends well. The Bears DST is always an option, but the Packers do a decent job protecting the ball. With the way Donald Driver has manhandled the Bears in the past, he is certainly an option this week as is James Jones, both as low-level WR3s. After John Kuhn’s breakthrough, goal-line performance last week, it’s hard to say who the better running back options are for the Packers in fantasy this week. However, consider Kuhn and Brandon Jackson as flex-plays.
ON THE PINE: It would be nice to see Jay Cutler have another good performance before heading into the playoffs. And, while there is no doubt this could happen, this is a tough week to trust Cutler in fantasy. As to the other Bears’ playmakers, such as Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, they should be on fantasy pines. No other players from either team are worth considering this week.
COWBOYS (5-10) v. EAGLES (10-5)
This is a meaningless game for both teams as the Eagles can do no better or worse in terms of their playoff seeding with a win or a loss. Obviously, the Cowboys just want to finish strong. Depending on the inactives and named starters for this game, there could be plenty of back-up fantasy talent worth starting this week.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Should Jon Kitna (injured) start this week, he should be on the gridiron against what has been a weak Eagles’ pass defense. Regardless of whether Kitna starts or not, the Eagles have had their share of problems defending the pass, so Miles Austin and Jason Witten should be active this week. Likewise, as the Eagles rank in the middle of all defenses defending the run, Felix Jones is in line for a decent game as a low-RB2 or solid flex-play.
COACH’S DECISION: As it is likely that the Eagles’ playmakers will be given the week off, expect Kevin Kolb, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, and Jerome Harrison to start. The Cowboys have been pretty bad defending the pass, so Kolb (as a low-level QB1), Avant (as a WR3), and Cooper (as a low-level WR3) make for decent starts this week. In addition, the Cowboys are towards the middle of all teams defending the rush, so Harrison would make for a solid low-level RB2, with upside, in this offense. It’s unclear whether Brent Celek will play this game, but The Fantasy Greek has to think you have better options. The Eagles DST and Cowboys DST can also be considered for starts, given how turnover prone both offenses can be. However, it is worth noting that the Eagles and the Cowboys have struggled defensively against lesser opponents the last several weeks.
ON THE PINE: QB Stephen McGee is likely to get the start over Jon Kitna (injured). If McGee does start, he should be avoided in fantasy this week. At this point, avoid the guessing game as to whether Marion Barber or Tashard Choice gets significant playing time such that they are fantasy-relevant. Avoid Roy Williams in Week 17. It is likely that the Eagles will sit, or at a minimum, give limited playing time to Michael Vick (already ruled out), LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin.
JAGUARS (8-7) v. TEXANS (5-10)
The Jaguars have to win this game in order to have any chance at the playoffs. (Also, the Colts would have to lose their game.) The Texans aren’t playing for much except to finish the season strong, which they should. The Fantasy Greek believes that the Texans should win this game in a lop-sided affair.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Jaguars pass defense and rush defense are so bad that Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson (if healthy), Arian Foster, and Owen Daniels should active in all formats. If Andre Johnson misses this game, then Jacoby Jones can be started as a WR3, with upside.
COACH’S DECISION: Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they lost David Garrard due to season-ending hand surgery. Because Trent Edwards will be starting in his place, it would be expected that the Jaguars will run the ball a lot in this game. While you would think this would make Rashard Jennings a must-start, it is possible that the Texans will make the Jaguars so one-dimensional, that even Jennings is ineffective in this game. Nonetheless, Jennings makes for a low-level RB2 or flex-play this week. Regardless of whether Mike Sims-Walker plays this week, Mike Thomas is a decent, but not great, WR3 for fantasy purposes. Likewise, Marcedes Lewis is a decent, but not great, TE1 for fantasy purposes this week too.
ON THE PINE: With Trent Edwards drawing the start in this game, an already banged up Mike Sims-Walker is that much more unattractive in fantasy. Maurice Jones-Drew is likely out due to injury. The Jaguars DST and the Texans DST, should be on pines in Week 17. No other player for either team is worth considering in fantasy this week.
GIANTS (9-6) v. REDSKINS (6-9)
The Giants need to win this game and need the Packers to lose their game against the Bears in order to make the playoffs. So, expect a pretty strong effort on the part of the Giants. For the Redskins, it’s their last chance to make a decent showing before the off-season when one would expect management to clean house among player personnel. The Fantasy Greek sees the Giants pulling out the win, but failing to make the playoffs.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Redskins are, across the board, one of the worst defenses in the league. So, in Week 17, all of the playmakers for the Giants, including Eli Manning, Mario Manningham, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Brandon Jacobs, should be on the fantasy gridiron. Also, the Giants DST is a solid start against an offense that is struggling.
COACH’S DECISION: Ryan Torrain has been playing well since coming back from injury. This week, he faces one of the best rush defenses in the league and should be treated as a low-level RB2 in fantasy. The Giants have been vulnerable to the pass. So, while you could do better, Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong make for low-level WR3s.
ON THE PINE: Hakeem Nicks is likely to miss this game due to injury. While the Giants have let opposing QBs have their way with them, it would be awfully tough to trust Rex Grossman at this point in the season. The Giants have been tough against opposing tight-ends, so this is a week where Chris Cooley should likely be avoided. The Giants have had their share of turnovers. Still, this is no time to depend on the Redskins DST.
CHARGERS (8-7) v. BRONCOS (4-11)
Neither team is playing for much this week except for a strong finish to the season. It should be a fun game as both teams lay it out all out. Mike Tolbert is expected to miss this game. Given the disappointing loss last week to the Bengals, The Fantasy Greek expects the Chargers to take out some of their frustration against the Broncos for the win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Broncos have had their fair share of problems defending the pass and rush, and generally speaking, have one of the worst defenses in the league. That said, Phillip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, and Vincent Jackson should be on fantasy gridirons. Further, Malcolm Floyd is expected back from injury. If this is true, you could even consider him for a WR3 start. The only Broncos’ player that is a must-start is Brandon Lloyd who has been solid regardless of which quarterback is under center.
COACH’S DECISION: With Mike Tolbert missing this game, Darren Sproles becomes a solid flex-play. The Chargers DST is an option against a team that has struggled to protect the ball. However, it must be noted that Tim Tebow has done a good job protecting the ball. It’s unclear whether Knowshon Moreno will play in this game, even though it is looking like he might. If so, the Chargers are towards the middle of teams defending the rush, so Moreno would be an option as a low-level RB2. If he does not play, Correll Buckhalter stands a good chance of putting up another great performance like last week. Still, you should consider your other options.
ON THE PINE: Even though Antonio Gates is out for the season, it would be difficult to start Randy McMichael, even in this favorable match-up. While Tim Tebow has gotten a lot of hype with his excellent play the last two weeks, this is a difficult week to start him against a defense that has generally played well all season long defending the rush and the pass. The Broncos DST is simply not an option this week.
CARDINALS (5-10) v. FORTY-NINERS (5-10)
Neither of these teams is playing for much either except for jobs next season. The Fantasy Greek likes the Forty-Niners chances of winning this game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Larry Fitzgerald is worth a start as a WR3 as the Forty-Niners have had difficulty stopping the pass. Likewise, get Vernon Davis on the gridiron because the Cardinals have had their share of problems stopping opposing tight-ends.
COACH’S DECISION: If you need the help, both Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon could be considered for starts this week, the former as a low-level RB2 or solid flex-play, and the latter as a flex-play, because the Cardinals struggle to stop opposing running backs. As turnover prone as both teams have been, the Cardinals DST and more so, the Forty-Niners DST, can be started in fantasy.
ON THE PINE: The Cardinals have had their way with opposing quarterbacks, so regardless of who starts for the Forty-Niners, Alex Smith or Troy Smith, both should be avoided. While there is nothing scary about the match-up, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan should likely be avoided this week too. As for Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, ask yourself whether you would really like to trust them with your fantasy season hanging in the balance? No other player on either team is worth fantasy consideration.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
RAMS (7-8) v. SEAHAWKS (6-9)
This could be the best game of the week as both teams need a win to make the playoffs to be their division’s representative. Anyway The Fantasy Greek looks at this, the final score should reflect a Rams win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Seahawks do not defend the rush well, so Steven Jackson can be in fantasy line-ups as a RB2. Because the Seahawks are one of the most turnover-prone teams in the league, and Charlie Whitehurst will be under center, the Rams DST should be started in fantasy this week.
COACH’S DECISION: Because the Seahawks have had their share of problems defending the pass, Sam Bradford is an option if you need the help. Also, both Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson can be considered for a start as WR3s if you need the help. The only Seahawks’ player worth considering in fantasy is Marshawn Lynch, and that would be as no better than a low-level flex-play.
ON THE PINE: Out of the remaining Rams’ playmakers, Danny Amendola should be avoided because he simply has not done much in fantasy the past several weeks. Because Charlie Whitehurst will be under center for the Seahawks this weekend, and has been awful in the limited action he has seen this season, Mike Williams should be on the pine. The Rams do a good job protecting the ball, so the Seahawks DST is not an option this weekend.
Good luck this weekend!
* 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. 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.