Now that election season is finally over, we can get back to what really matters this time of year: football season. I would also have accepted ‘holiday season’ as a reasonable response. We are now halfway through the football season, and everyone should be gearing up towards your fantasy playoffs.
With your leagues’ trade deadline most likely just around the corner, you should be keeping an eye on the horizon to see what types of matchups there are coming in the critical Week 14-16 timeframe. What you can check on right now is what type of matchups your kicker and defense have for those crucial weeks. Make sure your kicker doesn’t have any outdoor games that could be affected by weather. Having a kicker with dome games makes things really easy for the fantasy playoffs.
Also check to make sure your defense doesn’t have any matchups with good quarterbacks. My thinking is that the more turnovers and sacks a quarterback has the better chance for your defense to get you a good game. Typically points scored by the opposing offenses don’t matter as much as people think they do. Defenses holding teams to under seven points are about as easy to predict as when a kick returner is going to take it all the way back for a touchdown. Bad quarterback performances are a lot easier to predict. Now on to the calls for the week.
The Giants defense is a good one to own for fantasy football. They’re currently the third best fantasy defense, but being a good fantasy defense doesn’t mean that quarterbacks can’t do well against them. The Giants are currently the 25th ranked defense against quarterbacks. That’s why you should be starting Andy Dalton if you can this week. The Giants give up an average of 19 points to opposing quarterbacks, and when you take out games against Josh Freeman, Brandon Weeden, and Alex Smith, who Dalton is definitely better than, that average goes even higher. Dalton would be a ‘good call’ for you to start this week.
Philip Rivers definitely isn’t the quarterback he was last year. He’s only had two games with over 15 fantasy points on the season so far, but those were against easy defenses, New Orleans and Tennessee. The good thing going for Rivers this week is that he gets to play the easy Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs have given up four games of over 26 fantasy points on the season, so far. Rivers should have a very good chance to put up some solid numbers this week and he’s a ‘good call’ to be in your starting lineup.
Josh Freeman has been on a tear the last four weeks, with all four games over 20 fantasy points. The only bad part of that is that they were against some of the weakest defenses in the league (KC, NO, @MIN, and @OAK). This week he’ll get a much better San Diego team. The Chargers haven’t allowed a single touchdown pass since they came out of their bye week two weeks ago. If you were thinking about riding Freeman this week, I’d jump off the bandwagon and look for another quarterback. Odds are you just picked him up for bye weeks anyways, and you’ve probably got a better quarterback on your team.
Matt Schaub hasn’t had to do much more than be a game manager this year with how well the Houston run game is going. He’s only thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game once this year, and has yet to go over 300 passing yards in any single game. This week he gets a really tough matchup with the Chicago defense that hasn’t allowed any quarterbacks to get more than one touchdown pass against them. In fact, the Bears are holding quarterbacks to just 13 fantasy points a game this year. If you were thinking of starting Schaub this week, think again, he’s a ‘bad call’ this week.
Stevan Ridley has been the equivalent of Torrey Smith for running backs this year. Either he has a huge game, or he has a dud, and there is no consistency to be found. Well, this week is going to be one of his huge weeks. Since Ridley toasted Buffalo for 106 rush yards and two touchdowns in Week 4, the Buffalo defense has allowed seven touchdowns in four games, and has also allowed three primary running backs to rush for over 100 yards against them over that same stretch. Ridley should have no problem repeating his Week 4 performance, and you should definitely think of him as a ‘good call’ this week.
Reggie Bush is another ‘good call’ this week. Bush gets to rush against the very weak Titans defense. Tennessee is allowing primary ball carriers to average 20 fantasy points against them, and ranks 29th against running backs this year. Seven running backs have had over 100 total yards against the Titans already this season. Starting Bush shouldn’t be a question you have to ponder too long.
A player you might want to stay away from this week is BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Giants allow quarterbacks to throw against them, but they do fairly well against running backs. New York has only allowed four rushing touchdowns on the season while allowing 118 total rushing yards per game. Green-Ellis had his best fantasy game of the year in Week 1 where he had 91 rushing yards and a touchdown. Since then he has two total touchdowns and averages 57 rushing yards per game. If you’ve been starting him, this is a week you’ll want to look elsewhere for your running back.
It looks like Felix Jones will be the primary running back for Dallas this weekend. The last time Jones had a good game against the division rival Eagles was in the 2009 playoffs. Jones has been hit-or-miss for the last couple of years, and with an Eagles defense that has only allowed two rushing touchdowns to running backs this year, things don’t look good if you were going to plug-and-play Jones this week. The Cowboys have been struggling lately, and you will be too if you start Jones this week. I’d go a different direction, because he’s a ‘bad call.’
This is the week for inconsistent players to be good. Torrey Smith, who’s been hit-or-miss this season as well, should have no problem sneaking behind the Oakland defense for a long touchdown pass this week. Oakland has been burned by the deep ball this year. Malcom Floyd, Mike Wallace, Demaryius Thomas, Roddy White, and Vincent Jackson have all put up 15-plus point games against the Raiders defense this season. With the Ravens defense struggling lately, I expect this to be a tight, but high scoring game this week. Smith is a ‘good call’ to put up some solid numbers for you this week.
If Philip Rivers is going to have a good game, he’s going to need someone to throw the ball to, so Malcom Floyd should be a ‘good call’ this week as well. Floyd has been fairly mediocre this year, with two touchdowns and two games over 100 receiving yards. This week he gets a soft matchup with the Tampa Bay defense who have allowed five 100-yard receivers, and seven receiving touchdowns on the season. Floyd has been a very steady WR3 this year, but this week he should perform better than that. Start him with confidence this week.
Dwayne Bowe has been struggling the last four weeks with no consistent quarterback play. Bowe has been the most targeted Kansas City receiver over that time frame, but with a different quarterback every week, he hasn’t been able to be much of a help fantasy-wise. If you’ve been starting him thinking “someone has to catch the ball in Kansas City,” this is the week you’re going to want to sit Bowe. Kansas City has a tough matchup with Pittsburgh, which hasn’t allowed a single receiver to get more than 67 yards since Week 1. The Steelers defense ranks 4th against wide receivers, and unless you want four points from Bowe this week, you’re going to want to sit him. Poor quarterback play and a tough matchup make him a ‘bad call’ this week.
The New York Jets still rank as the toughest defense for wide receivers to play against. This week Sidney Rice gets the pleasure, err, task of playing against the Jets. Rice hasn’t been spectacular this year, but has had a couple of decent fantasy games. I think the Jets defense will be too much for Rice this week and he’ll give you a very poor game if you’re starting him. He’s a ‘bad call’ this week. Wait for an easier matchup, like Miami after their bye next week, until you put him back in your lineup.
Owen Daniels has been about as steady as they come at the tight end position this year. If you’ve got him, start him this week. One thing the Chicago defense hasn’t been able to stop much, is tight ends. They rank in the middle of the league against the position. Daniels is a ‘good call’ and you shouldn’t be afraid of this matchup this week.
While I was watching highlights of the games last week one of the announcers called the Denver tight end, Joel “Salad” Dreessen, and I just had to chuckle a bit. Besides a goose egg in Week 6, Dreessen has been a good low-end starting tight end since Week 3. Denver’s matchup with Carolina isn’t a tough one for tight ends, so you don’t need to worry much about Dreessen this week. Just start him and you’ll be fine.
Someone who I’m not as confident about this week is Brent Celek. The Dallas defense ranks 6th against tight ends this year. Celek is going to have a tough game against the Cowboys and he’s a ‘bad call’ for you to start this week.
Dustin Keller has been doing well the past couple of weeks and looks to be over the injury that kept him out of four games earlier this season. His matchup this week in Seattle just doesn’t look like a good one. Tight ends are averaging just eight points in Seattle this year. If you’ve got Keller I’d sit him this week.
Twitter question of the week: How do your chances for the fantasy playoffs look right now? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.
Good luck this week and I hope you make all the right calls.