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Good Call/Bad Call - Week 15

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If you made it to Week 15 of the fantasy playoffs, way to go. If not, better luck next year. If you’re still alive you must be doing something right. Keep up the good work. Now on to the calls for the week.

Quarterbacks

Cam Newton is heating up just at the time that his fantasy owners want him to. Newton has three rushing touchdowns in the past three weeks, and multiple touchdown throws in all of those games as well. This is the Newton you thought you were getting when you drafted him in August. Newton should be able to do well in his matchup in San Diego this weekend. The Chargers have allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of their last five games and an average of 276 passing yards over that time as well. If you’ve got Cam this weekend he’s a ‘good call’ to be in your starting lineup.

Josh Freeman gets the easiest matchup of the week for quarterbacks when the Bucs travel to New Orleans this weekend. The Saints have allowed 10 quarterbacks to get 20 or more fantasy points against them this year. Freeman has been below average the last three weeks, but a nice juicy matchup with New Orleans makes him a ‘good call’ for you to start this week.

After a rough start to the season, the Cleveland defense has been pretty strong against quarterbacks in their last six games. Over that timeframe the Browns are allowing an average of just 12 points to opposing passers. Combine a tough game with a banged up Robert Griffin III, who could be pulled after any small hit, and he’s a ‘bad call’ this week. I think Washington doesn’t want to hurt their new franchise quarterback by keeping him in while hurt, so if he takes a rough shot we’ll be seeing Kirk Cousins finish the game.

Joe Flacco is doing just slightly better this year than last year. He’s had a few big games, but his consistency is down this season. His matchup this weekend against Denver isn’t the toughest he’s faced but it’s not easy by any means either. The Broncos have allowed just one quarterback to throw for more than two touchdowns against them, and no quarterback has broken 300 passing yards against them this year. At this point in the playoffs you need a player to score you more than just average points, so that makes Flacco a ‘bad call’ this week.

Running Backs

Darren McFadden looked good but not great in his first week back from injury last week. After shaking off the rust, he should be exploding this week against the Chiefs. In his first meeting this year with Kansas City, McFadden has 114 rushing yards and 22 fantasy points. With this game being in Oakland, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be in the same ballpark, and that makes him a ‘good call’ this week.

The Arizona Cardinals have allowed four 100 yard rushers in the last three weeks (Steven Jackson, Shonn Greene, Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin). If you’ve got Mikel Leshoure and are looking for a flex play this week, he’s definitely a ‘good call’ to fill that roster spot for you. Leshoure has been solid, but nothing special since he entered the starting lineup in Week 3, but that’s not bad for a guy you spent a late round draft pick, or grabbed off the waiver wire. Expect another solid outing from Leshoure this week.

Since DeMarco Murray returned to the starting lineup two weeks ago, he has both games with over 20 fantasy points. This week he’ll get a tough test when he faces the Steelers number three defense against running backs. Only four running backs all year have had over 20 carries against the Steelers, and that seems to be what it takes for Murray to have an above average outing for fantasy. I’d start whomever you were starting while Murray was out because he’s a ‘bad call’ in my book.

Stevan Ridley has a touchdown in six straight games, and that’s about the only thing keeping his fantasy value up since he’s averaging around 80 rushing yards and has zero catches over that time frame. It looks like Ridley has replaced BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the New England running back who keeps his fantasy owners happy with a touchdown just about every week. This week his touchdown streak should end since San Francisco has allowed just three rushing touchdowns all year. Without a touchdown Ridley is a ‘bad call’ to be in your starting lineup.

Wide Receivers

The last two weeks have been the most targeted of Michael Crabtree’s season. It appears that he’s becoming more of a part of the San Francisco offense. Crabtree also has double digit points in five of his last six games. It appears he’s heating up at just the right time for his fantasy owners. This week he should have a good game against the 25th ranked Patriots. New England has allowed six double digit fantasy performances from receivers in the past four games. As a WR3 in your starting lineup Crabtree is a ‘good call.’

Josh Gordon is another guy you probably got for cheap that you should be starting this week. Since Gordon entered the fantasy football scene in Week 5, he’s had seven double digit fantasy games. Not bad for a rookie. This week he should have no problem getting you some points against a Washington defense that has allowed nice receivers to score more than 20 fantasy points, and twenty-four to go form more than 10 fantasy points. Yep, he’s definitely a ‘good call’ for you to start this week.

I think Dallas is going to have a rough time this weekend against Pittsburgh. Dallas’ Miles Austin hasn’t been the receiver fantasy owners thought he’d be when they drafted him. Austin only has two games with over 20 fantasy points this year. The last five games Austin has been pretty bad with games of 5, 11, 0, 12, and 8 fantasy points. The Steelers defense ranks as the third toughest for receivers to go against. If you’ve got Austin this week, I’d sit him because he’s a ‘bad call’ for me this week.

Torrey Smith is the quintessential big play receiver. He has four games with 20 or more fantasy points on the year, and seven games with 8 fantasy points or less. He really is hit or miss. I’m predicting he’s a miss this week. Denver has only allowed four 100-plus receivers on the year, and currently rank 10th against the position. If you’ve got Smith this week, I’d look for another receiver to start.

Tight Ends

After shaking of the dust in his first game back from injury Aaron Hernandez has been on fire the past two weeks. Even with a tough matchup this week against San Francisco, Hernandez should be a solid start as a tight end. Start ‘em if you got ‘em.

Things were a little shaky in the middle of the season for owners of Martellus Bennett, but he’s been strong the past two weeks. With a matchup against the 23rd ranked Falcons, he should be solid again this week. Bennett is a ‘good call’ for you start this week.

The tight end on the other side of the ball in the Falcons verses Giants game on the other hand might be different story. Besides Jason Witten’s monster game (18 catches for 167 yards), the Giants have been very tough against tight ends this year, ranking 8th against the position. Don’t expect much out of Tony Gonzalez this week.

Christian Ponder likes to find Kyle Rudolph in the red zone. That’s why Rudolph has eight touchdowns on the year. This week Ponder is going to have a tough time finding Rudolph since the Rams have allowed just four tight end touchdowns on the year, and two of those went to Gronkowski in one game. Rudolph is a ‘bad call’ this week.

Twitter question of the week: What was your best late round draft pick on the year? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.

Good luck this week and I hope you make all the right calls.