Curt Kestila
Good Call/Bad Call - Week 14

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Quarterbacks

Andy Dalton would be a good play this week if you’ve got him as part of a two quarterback strategy or as the backup to your injured starter. The Indianapolis defense has been allowing the quarterback position solid production over their last few games. In their past six games, the Colts have allowed four quarterbacks to score more than 20 fantasy points, and have grabbed just four interceptions over that span, with three of those picks being from Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. Dalton has a reputation of throwing a lot of interceptions, but against a team that can’t grab those picks, he’s a safe play. With the Colts allowing good fantasy games to quarterbacks, Dalton is a good call this week.

Alex Smith is another guy you’re going to want to start this week. Smith has gotten a hot lately while scoring 20 points or more in four of his last five games. This week he plays Washington, who has just one interception over the past three weeks. The Redskins have allowed seven of the 12 quarterbacks they’ve faced this year to score 22 or more fantasy points against them. Smith should have no problem getting into the mid-20s in fantasy points this week against the third-easiest defense in league, and he's someone you’re going to want in your starting lineup this first week of the playoffs.

The Seattle and San Francisco game this weekend is going to be a good defensive battle. The 49ers haven’t allowed a quarterback to score more than one touchdown against them since Week 7, while Russell Wilson has had two or more touchdown passes in every game since Week 6. I’m thinking San Francisco is going to be able to stop Wilson since Seattle can run the ball as well as pass it, and running is safer against a tough defense. The 49ers have been able to keep Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Robert Griffin III to 9, 17, and 8 points respectively in recent games, I’m saying Wilson is a bad call this week.

Running Backs

Chalk up another good game for Shane Vereen last week with five catches for 37 yards and a touchdown, while getting 10 carries for just 38 yards. Right now Vereen looks to be doing his best Darren Sproles impression. Playing against Cleveland this weekend should make for another good game. Adrian Peterson, Giovani Bernard, Reggie Bush, Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles all have had success catching the ball out of the backfield with five or more catches each against the Browns. Since catching the ball seems to be the way Vereen has been scoring his fantasy points in his limited action this year, this game looks to be a great one to start Vereen in if you’ve got him.

Rashard Mendenhall is looking to be a good flex play this week. Mendenhall has double-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games and with Andre Ellington’s status up in the air he could be in for more work. He had 16 carries for 60 yards against St. Louis in the season opener, and now with some more familiarity with his offensive line, he should be able to get more than that. St. Louis has allowed 13 rushing touchdowns on the year and ranks as the second-easiest defense for running backs to go against. This game is the easiest one on the schedule for Mendenhall so if you’re not starting him, drop him, and if he’s been dropped picking him up for a spot start would be a good move.

Carolina has allowed the second fewest rushing yards and just three rushing touchdowns this year. That makes me think this is not the week to be starting Pierre Thomas. The Panthers have also allowed just one 100-plus yard rusher on the year, and that was back in Week 2. Thomas has been a solid RB2 this year, but hasn’t gotten the touchdowns to put him over the top. This week, going against one of the toughest defenses for a running back to face, he’s going to have a difficult time even getting his normal production. He’s a bad call this week.

Wide Receivers

Nate Burleson had a good return from his injury two weeks ago, but put up a big goose egg last week. He seemed to be the forgotten man on Thanksgiving. Things should turn around this week with a trip to Philadelphia on the schedule. The Eagles are the easiest team for a wide receiver to go against and should be a welcome sight here in Week 14. We know Calvin Johnson will have a big game, but Burleson should put up some good numbers for you too, if you were able to keep him through his injury. This is the week to start him if you’ve got him.

Rod Streater is the de facto No. 1 guy in Oakland with Denarius Moore still not practicing. Streater didn’t fare too well last week, but has had a few solid games. This week his trip to play the New York Jets is a good one for you. The Jets have allowed 22 receiving touchdowns on the year along with an average 272 yards through the air. If you’re looking for a third wide receiver play or a flex play, you could do much worse than Streater this week.

As I said above, the Seattle and San Francisco game is going to be a defensive battle. The 49ers defense is really good at keeping wide receivers under control. They’ve allowed just three wideouts to go over 75 yards receiving against them. Anquan Boldin is looking like a guy you’re not going to want to be starting this week. Boldin has been hot lately with three straight games of 17 fantasy points or more, but those were against teams that all ranked outside the top-10 defenses against receivers. The Seahawks, on the other hand, rank as the third most difficult defense for wide receivers to go against. This is not a good week to have Boldin in your lineup.

Tight Ends

Jared Cook is a guy you’re going to want playing for you this week. His matchup this week is the easiest it can get: Arizona. The Cardinals have given up five touchdowns to tight ends over the past two weeks. In his first game against Arizona this season he had seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He knows how to get open against this team, and he’s a really good call for you to start this week.

If you were even considering starting Rob Housler this week, think again. St. Louis ranks as the third-toughest defense for a tight end to play against. Just three tight ends have gotten double-digits point against the Rams. Look elsewhere for you tight end play this week.

Greg Olsen is a guy you’re going to want to keep on your bench this week. His trip to New Orleans is going to be tough. The Saints have allowed just four touchdowns to tight ends this year, and the most yards a tight end has had against them has been 86. Starting Olsen would be a bad call.

Good luck this week and, as always, may your starters stay healthy and I hope you make all the right calls.