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This is the week that playoffs should be starting for 90 percent of you. If you made the championship bracket, congratulations. Now just don’t get ahead of yourself and overthink your lineup decisions. A lot of fantasy football players get to these critical weeks, and they start guys that have been hot for just a couple of weeks over their proven players that might have a tweaked ankle or hamstring. I know things are more crucial since it’s a win-or-you’re-out week, but keep doing what got you this far and you’ll do fine. Now on to the calls for the week.
Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans will be wrapping up their three-game road trip this week in New England. Schaub has more than 1,000 passing yards and eight touchdown passes over his last three games, so to say things are going well for Schaub owners right now would be an understatement. This week, Schaub is a ‘good call’ to be in your fantasy lineup because the Patriots rank 29th against opposing quarterbacks. They’ve given up seven 300-plus yard passers on the season, and with their high-powered offense, Houston won’t be able to sit back, run the ball and wind the clock. If you’ve got Schaub this week, go ahead and start him.
The Philadelphia defense has given up multiple touchdown passes in every one of their last six games. Josh Freeman has thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven of his last eight games. This matchup seems ripe for the picking for Freeman to throw multiple touchdown passes again this week. Freeman should also be able to get moderate yardage this week, but don’t expect 350-plus passing yards out of him this week. If you need a quarterback to get you some decent points Freeman would be a ‘good call,’ but if you need a boom-or-bust week from your quarterback, Freeman might not be who you’re looking for.
Tony Romo’s trip to Cincinnati this week could be a rough one if you’re starting him. The Bengals rank seventh against quarterbacks, and have allowed just one passing touchdown in their past four games. Romo has been better as of late with two good games back-to-back, but those were against Philadelphia and Washington, who rank 27th and 30th against quarterbacks, respectively. If you were sitting Romo earlier this season, I’d go with whomever you were starting back then this week. Romo is a ‘bad call’ to be in your lineup this week.
Before allowing Robert Griffin III to throw four touchdown passes against them on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys defense had allowed just two quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdown passes this year. I’m thinking last week was just an abnormality, and Dallas will be stout again this week. That’s unfortunate for Andy Dalton. Dalton has been on a roller coaster ride of a fantasy season. He hasn’t been seeing the sophomore slump, but it’s been hard to predict when he’ll have an above-average game. He’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in three of his last four, while only throwing two interceptions over that time frame, but hasn’t had huge yardage numbers either. I think this week is a roller coaster valley for Dalton, and that makes him a ‘bad call’ this week.
The Carolina run defense has looked really bad recently. They’ve allowed Doug Martin, Bryce Brown and Jamaal Charles to all go for more than 100 rushing yards against them in the past three weeks. The Panthers currently rank 27th against running backs. That’s good news for Michael Turner, who has been keeping his owners semi-happy with three straight games with touchdowns. This week Turner should be able to put up more yards and extend his touchdown streak. If you’ve got Turner this week he’s a ‘good call.’ You should start him.
Earlier this season when Vick Ballard played Tennessee, he had 12 carries for 55 yards and one catch for 16 yards and a score. Now that he’s getting more of the workload, he should be able to improve on those numbers. Ballard is showing that he’s the more productive running back, and it shows since Donald Brown hasn’t gotten more than 14 carries in any game since Week 5. Ballard’s matchup with Tennessee this week should be a decent one, and if you’re looking for a flex play he’s a ‘good call.’
Stevan Ridley has been slowing down lately, with no game of more than 100 rushing yards in the past four weeks, but he has a rushing touchdown in all of them. That should end this week with Houston coming to town. The Texans have allowed just two rushing touchdowns on the season, and only Chris Johnson has been able to break 100 rushing yards against them. To say Houston’s run defense is good would be a severe understatement, and you’d be making a severe mistake if you started Ridley this week.
Ryan Mathews has been mediocre but steady this year. Did you know he doesn’t have a single game of more than 100 rushing yards and just one rushing touchdown on the year? If you own him, I bet you did. Mathews is a ‘bad call’ unless you’re looking for something around 10 points out of him. Mathews’ matchup with Pittsburgh this week is tough with the Steelers ranking sixth against running backs this season. Some elite running backs (Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice and Trent Richardson) have done well against Pittsburgh, but right now I’d say Mathews is more in the solid-and-steady category rather than the elite one.
Torrey Smith owners get a dream matchup this week when Baltimore goes to Washington. The Redskins have allowed nine 100-plus yard receivers on the season, and currently rank 31st against the position. Smith is a boom-or-bust type wide receiver. The type that either gets behind the secondary for a score or he doesn’t have a helpful game. This week he’s a ‘good call,’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if he caught two touchdowns while going for more than 100 yards. Something else to take note of: Washington starting cornerback Cedric Griffin has been suspended for this game as well as three more because of a positive drug test. Things are definitely looking good for Smith this week.
When you look at which games Chris Givens has put up good stat lines in, they match up exactly with the ones where Danny Amendola has been out with injury. Exactly. With Amendola most likely out again this week, Givens is definitely a ‘good call.’ He has been getting more of the targets, and St. Louis pulls a good matchup with the 19th-ranked Buffalo defense. If Givens is sitting on your waiver wire or you’re lacking at receiver, this is the week to start him.
The last few years Larry Fitzgerald has continued to be a good fantasy wide receiver despite not having a good quarterback throwing to him. This year, he hasn’t even been able to do much of that. Fitzgerald has been horrible his last three games with just five catches for 65 yards in all of those games combined. There were times when he could double that in just one game. This week Fitzgerald has to go to Seattle, where things have been tough for wide receivers this year. In his two previous games in Seattle, Fitzgerald has averaged four catches and 45 yards, and he’s a ‘bad call’ this week.
Danario Alexander burst onto the fantasy football scene in Week 10 and hasn’t slowed down much since. That will change this week when San Diego travels to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers’ No. 1 defense against wide receivers. The Steelers have allowed one team’s wide receivers to go for more than 100 receiving yards over the past five weeks. That's all the receivers on the team combined, not just one player. If you think San Diego’s receivers are better than The New York Giants’, Baltimore’s or Cleveland’s receivers at this point, you might consider playing Alexander, but for me he’s a ‘bad call.’ I’m looking elsewhere this week.
Owen Daniels is more of a really big slot receiver in my mind, and New England gives up big games to tight ends and wide receivers. Daniels is a ‘good call’ this week against the Patriots’ 31st defense for tight ends.
Martellus Bennett had a good game last week against Washington, and I’m betting he does it again this week against New Orleans. In the last four weeks, the Saints have allowed Tony Gonzalez (twice), Brandon Myers and Delanie Walker to go into double-digit fantasy points. Bennett should be able to do the same.
Vernon Davis has had one good fantasy game over the last eight weeks. If you’re still starting him, stop right now. Look elsewhere for your tight end.
Antonio Gates is just another wide receiver for San Diego, but the Steelers shut down tight ends just as much as they do wide receivers. Pittsburgh ranks as the third-toughest defense for tight ends to go against. Gates is a ‘bad call’ this week.
Twitter question of the week: What was the best season record in your league? Anyone go undefeated? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.
Good luck this week. I hope you make all the right calls.
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