Week 15. Half of us that played in the first week had our playoff dreams shattered. Those of us who survived are now thinking “one more win and I’m in the Championship.” Don’t get ahead of yourself you still need to win that game. If you’ve made it this far just keep riding your guys that got you here and don’t try to overthink it. I’m not going to give you much more advice than that.
Now on to the calls for the week:
If Denver wants a shot at beating New England this week Tim Tebow is going to have to throw the ball. Running all day on the Patriots is not going to work. Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense will score too many points. Tebow will be running the ball, but he’ll be throwing it around more than usual. New England has allowed eight different quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards against them. Their defense is so desperate for cornerbacks they’re converting wide receivers to play the position. Tebow had season highs in pass attempts (40), completions (21) and passing yards (236) last week. His passing stats have risen over the last three weeks and should go up again this week with an easy secondary like the Patriots. Tebow would be a good call this week.
Tony Romo has thrown for less than 270 yards only once in the last six games. He also has only one game where he has thrown less than two touchdowns over that span as well. Romo doesn’t get the credit he deserves in the football community, but as a fantasy quarterback he is strong and steady. Tampa Bay is second worst in yards per attempt allowed this year at 8.1 and is only beat out by Carolina. With DeMarco Murray out for the rest of the year, the Cowboys will be shifting their offense back to more of a passing offense. Expect Romo to have another big game this week.
I haven’t written much about Michael Vick this year, mostly because he’s been on the sidelines a lot. This has not been the type of year that Vick owners were hoping for. Vick has two games with over 300 yards passing this year, and hasn’t thrown for more than two touchdowns in any game this year. A matchup with the Jets this week is not going to be a good one for Vick either. The Jets have held the last four quarterbacks they’ve faced to an average of 196 yards and one touchdown per game. While Vick is good rushing the ball, the Jets rank in the top ten against rushers as well. This is just a bad matchup for Vick and a bad call to be in your lineup this week.
Ben Roethlisberger is a battered man. He plays through his pain, but his stats are the thing that’s really taking a hit. Big Ben has thrown for one touchdown or less in eight of his thirteen games this year. He’s going to be getting even more pain this week with a trip to San Francisco. The Niners rank in the Top 10 against quarterbacks, and Roethlisberger hasn’t scored over 20 fantasy points in six weeks. Nothing is going well for Ben this week and won’t be for you either if you start him.
The St. Louis Rams have allowed the most yards per game (156.8) to running backs this year, and their horrible 5.0 yards per attempt allowed is almost the lowest in the league. Cedric Benson was able to run for 91 yards against Houston’s 2nd ranked run defense last week. What do you think he can do against the Rams? I’m betting some big numbers. Benson only has three 100+ yard games this year, but I’m thinking he’ll have another this week. Benson would be a good call to be in your lineup this week.
Felix Jones ran for 106 yards on just 16 carries and caught six passes for 31 yards. Felix’s problem has never been rushing the ball, it’s been staying healthy. He seems to play through his pain instead of giving himself the time to rest. He’s rested and healthy now with all that time off. The Cowboys have one of the best rushing schedules through the playoffs: Giants (23rd against running backs), Bucs (31st), and the Eagles (25th). If you held onto Felix, he’s going to be paying big dividends starting this week. Running backs that get more than 20 carries a game against the Bucs have averaged 123 yards per game this year. Jones shouldn’t have a problem putting up some good numbers this week.
Rashard Mendenhall gets to be the lucky back going against the San Francisco run defense this week. Which means you get to be the lucky one who sits him this week. Mendenhall hasn’t broken the 100 yard barrier since Week 6. The Niners only give up 70.5 yards per game to running backs and still haven’t given up a rushing touchdown this year. Things just aren’t good for Mendenhall this week. Sit him and move on.
If you were to list the teams LeGarrette Blount has run against in order of ranking of points given up to running backs top to bottom, you’d have an almost dead on list of his worst to best games this year. What I’m saying is that he has his best games against bad defenses and his worst ones against the best defenses. The Dallas defense ranks 6th against running backs, and they are actually better on the road against running backs than they are at home, holding opposing running backs to an average of 70 yards rushing. Blount is not going to be having a good game for you this week.
The easiest playoff schedule for receivers belongs to the Washington Redskins who face the Patriots (32nd against wide receivers), Giants (30th), and Vikings (29st). Three of the four easiest teams against wide receivers. Jabar Gaffney has put up useful fantasy numbers three of the last four weeks. Even with Santana Moss back Gaffney has been productive. This week Washington travels to play the Giants, and I envision this being a close, high scoring game. Both teams have the ability to put up good numbers and this game should have lots in yardage totals. Gaffney should be able to put up good numbers for you with this easy matchup and he would be a good call this week.
If Denver is passing, Demaryius Thomas has been the one catching it. In the last two weeks Thomas has been hot. He has had 20 targets and turned them into 222 yards and three touchdowns. A team’s leading receiver averages 102 yards per game over the last five games against the Patriots. When Tim Tebow passes more, Thomas’ totals will go up too. Thomas is the most talented receiver on the Broncos and this week, with more passing, he should be able to show that talent off more than previous weeks.
Larry Fitzgerald will be having a shadow this weekend and that shadow is going to be named Joe Haden. Haden has been really good this year, but he can be beat by good receivers with good quarterbacks. Fitzgerald’s problem is that he doesn’t have a good quarterback. Cleveland has allowed the second fewest passing yards, and the third fewest touchdowns this year, and a lot of that has to do with Haden. Fitzgerald has been having a down year for him, but is still over 1,000 total yards already. This week is going to be a hard week for Fitzgerald, if you’re expecting a good week, I’d temper your expectations.
Anquan Boldin has one touchdown and no games over 100 yards in the last six weeks. Boldin hasn’t been the same guy since he came to Baltimore and things have not been improving at all this year either. This week Boldin goes to San Diego which ranks 8th in points given up to wide receivers. Possession guys like Boldin don’t do as well against the Chargers as deep ball threats like Torrey Smith. This week Boldin won’t be having a good game, and would be a bad call to be in your lineup this week.
After a few bad weeks Jake Ballard finally got back in the mix last week. He should be able to have another good week this week with a high scoring affair with the Washington Redskins. In his last meeting with the Redskins in Week 1, Ballard had two catches for 59 yards. I would say he has improved as a player, and should be able to put up better numbers this time around.
Anthony Fasano has been borderline startable this year in most games. He doesn’t put up a ton of points but he doesn’t lay goose eggs either. This week in his game at Buffalo he should be able to put up another good performance and you could do a lot worse than having Fasano in your lineup.
Kellen Winslow hasn’t had many big games this year. A game against Dallas this week does not have the chance for Winslow to have a good game either. Dallas should control the game and Tampa Bay won’t be scoring too much so Winslow’s game should be fairly limited. Starting Winslow would be a bad call this week.
The last time Heath Miller had a good game was Week 9. San Francisco isn’t only good against the run, they also rank 6th against tight ends. Miller has been down with the lack of big games from Ben Roethlisberger, and this week is going to be a down week for Miller.
Good luck this week and I hope you make all the right calls.