With only a few weeks to go to the fantasy playoffs, things are likely heating up in fantasy football leagues with trades, waivers add-drops, and trash talking. Week 10 hosts some good games where several players could post some serious astro-fantasy points by the time the Monday night game clock ticks down to “0:00.” Teams are trying so hard to make fantasy football playoffs right now. The Fantasy Greek is here to help.
As you likely know, the goal in “Fantasy Football Choices” is to provide you, the fantasy football player, 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. We also provide a down & dirty listing of players listed in each category within the Quick Hits (see links above; which comes out Wednesday). 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. Also, consider using The Fantasy Greek’s “Fantasy Points Allowed” tool in identifying favorable and unfavorable match-ups and in making your weekly choices for the offensive positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) and for defenses/special teams and kickers.
Onto the fantasy match-up and your choices!
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.
November 11, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
FALCONS (8-0) v. SAINTS (3-5)
This is the kind of football game that makes fantasy players just tremble with excitement –– a shootout! Combined, both teams are almost even in scoring, with almost 440 points scored between them (51 TDs), and with the Falcons having slight two-point lead. However, where these two teams glaringly differ is in defense, where the Saints are top-five in most points scored against them. While The Fantasy Greek would never count out the Saints on any given Sunday, The Fantasy Greek still sees a Falcons win this weekend by a Falcons team that is the better team right now.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The Saints are top two in most fantasy points allowed to the quarterback, running back, and wide-receiver position in fantasy football. As such, QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Julio Jones, and WR Roddy White are must starts this week. While the Saints are top-six in least fantasy points allowed to tight-ends, keep TE Tony Gonzalez activebecause the Falcons should be able to move the ball on the Saints through Gonzalez.The Saints defense has just been bad. On the other hand, the Falcons defense is much improved from last season. Still, from a fantasy perspective, keep Saints QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, and TE Jimmy Graham active because the Saints will have to pass the ball to stay in this game.
COACH’S DECISION: With the Saints allowing the second most fantasy points to running backs, consider RB Jacquizz Rodgers a solid flex-play this week. As mentioned, the Falcons DST is much improved from last season. However, this is a week to bench them against a Saints team allowing the seventh least fantasy points to opposing defenses/special teams. Even though the Saints should be passing the ball, WR Lance Moore is not that strong of a play against this top passing defense.Consider Moore along with your other WR3 options this week. Because this game should turn into a track meet, neither running back Pierre Thomas, nor Mark Ingram, nor Chris Ivory are very good options this week. Consider them low-end flex-plays at best.
ON THE PINE: There are some rumblings that Darren Sproles could return sooner rather than later. But for now, he is still out. No other player is worth fantasy consideration this week.
BILLS (3-5) v. PATRIOTS (5-3)
Speaking of shoot outs, the Bills and Patriots games have been the source of many fantasy football points scored the past two seasons. For instance, in Week 4, when the Patriots and Bills last played, between the two tight-ends and five wide-receivers, roughly80 fantasy points were scored in a non-PPR format. This means that fantasy relevant players on each team should be started this week. In terms of the game, the Patriots lead the league in scoring and are outscoring the Bills almost 1.5 to 1.0. Defensively, by comparison, the Bills are allowing 1.5 points to each of the Patriots 1.0 points. The Fantasy Greek expects a Patriots win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: The match-up is so good that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can be on fantasy gridirons as he tossed for 350 yards, 4 TDs, on 4 interceptions back in Week 4. This was Fitzpatrick’s best fantasy game of the season. Along with Fitzpatrick, Bills WR Steve Johnson and TE Scott Chandler should be active.As for the Patriots, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Wes Welker, WR Brandon Lloyd, and TE Rob Gronkowski should all be active. If you have the Patriots DST, they can be on the fantasy gridiron too, because for whatever scoring occurs in the game, the Patriots should make up for in sacks and in turnovers with the Bills in the middle of all teams in fantasy points allowed.
COACH’S DECISION: Bills RB Fred Jackson is likely a player to avoid, if you can this week against a Patriots rush defense which is top-five against the rush in fantasy. On the other hand, consider RB C.J. Spiller a low-end RB2 or flex-play giving his involvement in the passing game. If you need a one-week fill-in at wide receiver, consider Bills wide receiver Donald Jones who posted 90 yards and 1 TD against the Patriots in Week 4. Also, RB Shane Vereen makes for a decent flex-play. If TE Aaron Hernandez is healthy this week, start him.
ON THE PINE: While Danny Woodhead or Julian Edelman could make some noise, they are too hit-or-miss to be on fantasy football gridirons at this time.
BRONCOS (5-3) v. PANTHERS (2-6)
While there were nay-sayers, with a healthy Peyton Manning, the Broncos were expected to have an improved team. The Panthers were expected by some to be one of the better teams in the league and many fantasy players looked to Cam Newton to almost repeat his phenomenal rookie campaign where he passed for 21 TDs and ran for another 14 TDs. So far, Newton is on pace for 20 TDs combined, passing and rushing. This is really the distinguishing point between these two teams as the Broncos have scored 29 touchdowns so far this season the Panthers 18 touchdowns so far this season. The Fantasy Greek sees a Broncos win in a close game..
ON THE GRIDIRON: This is likely QB Peyton Manning’s toughest match-up since Week 2. Yet, since that time, Manning has passed for 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in games since. Similarly, with Manning on the gridiron, make sure to get Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on there too. RB Willis McGahee makes for another great against a Panthers rush defense allowing the eleventh most fantasy points to the position. The Broncos pass defense is tough but not tough enough to keep Panthers QB Cam Newton and WR Steve Smith off fantasy football gridirons. As for Panthers Steve Smith, the reality is he may not have his best game of the season without a touchdown score. But, you can still play him.
COACH’S DECISION: Broncos TE Joel Dreesen has shaped up to be the best tight-end option on the team. While Dreseen is still hit or miss, the Panthers do allow the twelfth most fantasy points to the position which makes him an option for fantasy players looking for roster help. Even though Cam Newton has had his share of turnover struggles, the Panthers are in general a pretty good team in ball protection. While the Broncos DST is a decent option this week, it’s not the greatest either. Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart isn’t a bad flex-play or bye week fill-in against a rush defense ranked in the middle of all fantasy rush defenses. While TE Greg Olsen has disappointed, the match-up is right against a Broncos team giving up the third most fantasy points to the position.
ON THE PINE: While RB Ronnie Hillman looked like he could get some more work in the running game last week, Hillman took a back seat. Keep all other Broncos and Panthers on fantasy pines this week.
LIONS (4-4) v. VIKINGS (5-4)
A few weeks ago, the Lions looked like a team that was going to disappoint its fans this season while the Vikings looked like a team that would please its fans this season, all contrary to pre-season expectations. Since then, the Lions have won two straight, and the Vikings have lost two straight. While missing Percy Harvin, who is doubtful for this weekend’s tilt, certainly doesn’t help the Vikings, the Lions look like a team turning things around for the second half of the season through improved defensive line play and an offense whose running and passing game are coming alive. Lions win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: For the Lions Mathew Stafford and Calvin Johnson fantasy football faithful, start them against a Vikings pass defense allowing the seventh most fantasy points to the quarterback position, and which has given up six passing touchdowns, four of which to wide receivers, in the past two games. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been lights out even against pretty tough opponents. Keep Peterson active on fantasy gridirons this week.
COACH’S DECISION: In the first six games, the Vikings rush defense was its greatest asset, and in the last four, its greatest liability. This makes Lions RBs Mikel Leshoure (RB2) and Joique Bell (flex-play) solid starts this week.In this match-up, both Titus Young and Ryan Broyles could have some difficulty posting some fantasy points without corresponding TD catches. Should Titus Young miss this game, Broyles would suddenly make for a solid WR3 start. Tight-end Brandon Pettigrew makes for a positive start this week against a Vikings defense allowing the eleventh most fantasy points to the position. The Lions DST has gone from a top fantasy draft pick, to the lowly waiver wire, back to a fantasy football option. This week, the Lions take on a Vikings team that is having its share of problems protecting the ball and its quarterback, having given up four sacks, a defensive fumble recovery, and an interception just last week.Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin is doubtful for this week’s match-up. With Harvin out and the Lions giving up the tenth most fantasy points to tight-ends, the hope is TE Kyle Rudolph bounces back this week. With every passing week, the Lions seem to be doing a better job protecting the ball and the quarterback. This is a week to avoid the Vikings DST which has been giving up about 400 yards total offense the last two weeks.
ON THE PINE: While it is looking all the more like Percy Harvin will miss Week 10, it will be interesting to see who among the other wide-receivers steps it up if any.
GIANTS (6-3) v. BENGALS (3-5)
This should be a great game where the passing game is showcased. Both teams have done their fair share of scoring with the Giants (25 touchdowns) holding an edge over the Bengals (21 touchdowns). In addition, both defenses can be formidable. Yet, it’s the Bengals defense that has had more problems keeping their opponents out of the end-zone. Could Andy Dalton lose to the Manning brothers in consecutive weekends? The Fantasy Greek is calling this a Giants win in a close game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: Both the Bengals and the Giants are top-fifteen in most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks making Giants QB Eli Manning and Bengals QB Andy Dalton players that should be on fantasy gridirons this weekend.Indeed, as the Bengals are towards the middle of all teams defending the pass, this should be a get well game of sorts for WR Hakeem Nicks. Giants wide-receiver Victor Cruz and Bengals wide-receiver A.J. Green should be on fantasy gridirons as usual. The Giants DST should be started against a Bengals team allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing DSTs.
COACH’S DECISION: With the Bengals allowing the tenth most fantasy points to the running back position, consider Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (RB2) and RB Andre Brown (flex-play) properly on fantasy gridirons this week. Giants tight-end Martellus Bennett has disappointed as of late but is due to bounce back by making for a solid start against a defense allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the position. After four games, Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis finally got into the end-zone. Yet, the Giants are generally stingy against the run and with the Bengals expected to pass often, this would be a week to keep Green-Ellis on fantasy pines. With the favorable match-up, WR Andrew Hawkins is a candidate to bounce back this week. Tight-end Jermaine Gresham is primed for a solid outing this week against a Giants defense towards the middle of all defenses defending the position in fantasy.
ON THE PINE: Keep all other Giants and Bengals players on fantasy football pines this week.
RAIDERS (3-5) v. RAVENS (6-2)
The West Coast tough guys versus the East Coast tough guys. The Raiders have had an interesting season insofar as they have played some really good teams (like the Falcons) well, and then have played some not so good teams (like the Dolphins) not so well. The Ravens, by comparison, started hot, with an offense that was firing on all cylinders especially in the passing game (about 315 yards per game), to only slide in the past four games with the passing offense dropping off significantly (down to about 175 yards per game). This should be a Ravens win against a defense giving up the fourth most points to their opponents.
ON THE GRIDIRON: There is only one player that is a must start for either team this week and that is Ravens RB Ray Rice against the Raiders fantasy football rush defense allowing the eight most fantasy points to the position. Remember what Doug Martin did last week?
COACH’S DECISION: While Raiders Carson Palmer is coming off a huge game, it’s hard to say how he will do against a Ravens pass defense which has generally been pretty tough even without its top playmakers. Likewise, Raiders wide-receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore could have off weeks. Consider both with your other options. Weighing in their favor, however, is the fact that the Raiders will be missing playmaker RB Darren McFadden this week, and therefore, the Raiders could turn to a pass heavy offense. While the Ravens allow the eighth most fantasy points to the running back position, this is likely a week to avoid back-up Taiwan Jones, who in the past hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunities (indeed, the Raiders signed Michael Goodson in free agency who became the back-up) and start FB Marcel Reese. Reece has proven himself time and time again and should be a player in the passing game. Still, because RB Taiwan Jones is expected to get the start, Jones is in line for a fantasy football flex-start. Also, this is a positive match-up for Raiders TE Brandon Myers who is coming off a two touchdown performance and this week takes on a Ravens defense in the middle of all teams defending the position. The Fantasy Greek likes Ravens QB Joe Flacco against a the Raiders pass defense giving up the ninth most fantasy points to the QB position as well as wide-receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith as solid WR3s, with upside, against a Raiders pass defense allowing the thirteenth most fantasy points to the position. This is a good week to consider your other options outside of the Ravens DST as the Raiders allow the twelfth least fantasy points to opposing defenses/special teams.
ON THE PINE: Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Goodson have both been ruled out. Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hasn’t done anything of significance in the past several weeks.
CHARGERS (4-4) v. BUCCANEERS (4-4)
The Chargers have settled down in the last couple of games, since the team’s Week 7 bye. In sum, the Chargers have started to play some good football. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, seem to be finding their stride since their bye week, and have the more dominant offense right now (27 touchdowns to the Chargers 20 touchdowns). The Fantasy Greek expects this to continue and sees a Buccaneers win in what has the makings of a high scoring game.
ON THE GRIDIRON: While the Buccaneers have done a good job defending the rush, they do not do a good job keeping opposing running backs out of the end zone or defending them in the pass (especially during the past two weeks). This makes Chargers RB Ryan Mathews a solid start this week.With the Buccaneers allowing the eighth most fantasy points to tight-ends, TE Antonio Gates makes for a solid start. Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has played like a top running back the past four weeks. Martin is a must start against a good but not great Chargers rush defense. Bucs wide-receiver Vincent Jackson is a must start against his old team, which is giving up the twelfth most fantasy points to wide-receivers.
COACH’S DECISION: In Week 9,the Raiders generated 414 yards of passing offense and scored four touchdowns against a Buccaneers pass defense that has allowed the second most pass yards this season, about 300 yards on average per game. This makes Chargers QB Phillip Rivers a player that should be on fantasy football gridirons this week. Also, WR Malcolm Floyd should beon fantasy gridirons against a defense in the top-twelve of most fantasy points allowed to the position. With Robert Meachum possibly returning to the gridiron this weekend, WR Danario Alexander is suddenly a player to avoid until we get a better idea as to how he will be used in the offense. Last week, it was fairly obvious that Rivers had a connection with him and he would end up starting opposite Floyd. Chargers RB Ronnie Brown remains a low-end flex-option because of his use on passing downs. The Chargers pass defense has been much better since its Week 7 bye. Still, Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman can be on fantasy gridirons if needed, as that same defense was allowing over 250 yards-plus passing per game before the bye week.Likewise, wide-receiver Mike Williams makes for a WR3 start if you need the help. In short, the Chargers have struggled against the better passing offenses.
ON THE PINE: In the last couple of weeks, both teams have been protecting the ball better. Also, because this could turn into a high scoring game, this is a week to avoid both the Chargers DST and the Buccaneers DST if possible.
TITANS (3-6) v. DOLPHINS (4-4)
The Titans were suppoed to play better this season while the Dolphins are playing better than expected. The biggest problem the Titans have had is keeping their opponents out of the end zone where they are the league’s worst in points allowed. The Dolphins could use to improve on their scoring, especialli since they play in the AFC East. But, the Dolphins defense is playing at a high level. Playing at home, and with Jake Locker expected to play for the first time in a few weeks, The Fantasy Greek expects a Dolphins win.
ON THE GRIDIRON: While Dolphins RB Reggie Bush rushing stats have been off the last several weeks, this week’s game against a Titans rush defense giving up the fourth most fantasy points to the position is a choice match-up. The Titans rush defense is giving up roughly 140 yards rushing, on average, per game.
COACH’S DECISION: Originally, Titans RB Chris Johnson was listed as being on the gridiron against a Dolphins defense that while tough against the rush, is still a defense that Johnson should likely post some yards against as he did against the very tough Bears rush defense. Unfortunately, it looks like Jake Locker will get the start this week at quarterback instead of Matt Hasselbeck. In looking back at the first full, three games Locker played, before going down to injury in Week 4, Johnson posted 45 total yards of rushing in three games. So, fantasy players with Johnson need to know that Johnson could regress again. As the Dolphins allow the fifth most fantasy points to the wide-receiver position, Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, and Kendall Wright are all options this week. However, which of the three will make an impact this week is very much unclear. At best, all three make no better than a WR3 play and if possible, avoid them if you can. The Dolphins Ryan Tannehill has had four forgettable games, and four games by which he would have made for a decent, but not great fantasy football play. This week, the Dolphins take on a Titans team giving up an average of 272 yards passing per game, top-five in fantasy in terms of most fantasy points allowed. What’s more, the Titans just allowed 229 yards and three touchdowns to Jay Cutler. Tannehill makes for a bye week replacement this week.With that, WR Brian Hartline and Anthony Fasano can be on fantasy gridirons against a defense ranked eleventh and second in most fantasy points allowed to their respective positions. RB Daniel Thomas has been a surprising, waiver add recently, mostly because of Bush’s statistical drop off, and because of Thomas’ occasional scores. The fact is Thomas is no better than a flex-play due to his on-again, off-again play. You can start the Dolphins DST against a Titans team giving up the eigth most fantasy points to the position.
ON THE PINE: Titans tight-end Jared Cook hasn’t had a good statistical game in over a month. As to the remainder of players on the Titans and Dolphins that might be worth consideration, keep them on fantasy pines this week.