It’s been a wild ride but championship week (in most leagues) is finally upon us! We’ve seen countless suspensions, injuries, on field brawls, unexpected outcomes and utter chaos throughout the season but it’s all part of the game. If you’ve fought your way to this point, I salute you. If you got this far and just lost Antonio Brown, my condolences, but do keep in mind that we’ve all lost someone along the way – you aren’t special! I hope you’ve still got a dog in the hunt and have found this series useful along the way to the title bout. I’ll be ending this series this week but will continue on with my weekly DFS value plays. You can find that posted every Thursday morning.
Without further ado, these are a few of the guys I feel best starting with all the chips on the line!
|QB||Opponent||Matchup rating vs. position|
|Ben Roethlisberger||@ HOU||4th||
He won’t have Antonio Brown this week but he’s still surrounded by weapons. This choice match up will help Ben establish his new wide receiver pecking order.
|Cam Newton||VS TB||13th||Coming off a four touchdown outing, facing an even more generous pass defense this week – Cam is a Top 3 start across the board.|
|Blake Bortles||@ SF||2nd||
I know this ranking seems insane but hear me out! The match up is fantastic, the 49er’s offense has been putting up points and Bortles has been red hot! I’m not saying you start him over some of the names below but the current trend, plus the match up, indicates another strong outing from Bortles.
|Tom Brady||VS BUF||29th||
This one feels risky given two factors: 1) The Bills are super-soft against the run and 2) The Pats might kill em’ this week meaning Brady will just hand it off 50 times. Still.. he’s Tom Brady.
|Case Keenum||@ GB||15th||
You saw what Cam did last week vs this defense and you also saw what Case Keenum did last week vs. a tougher defense. The Vikings are rolling, expect another 20 point range outing.
|Jared Goff||@ TEN||18th||
Theres always the fear that Todd Gurley just takes over the game like he did in Week 15 but some of that might come via the air which counts for Goff! The Titan’s have been much more burnable through the air than they have been on the ground this season.
|Tyrod Taylor||@ NE||6th||
Tyrod is the kind of quarterback that could fall flat on his face any given week. This match up is too nice to pass on but there is a reason he’s down this far on the list. I’ve got him above Brees for the higher ceiling if Tyrod plays up to his ability.
|Drew Brees||VS ATL||14th||
He’s been solid all year but has a ceiling around 23 points so far this season. He’s got an easy 17 in him this week which just happens to be about his 5 week average (he is averaging 16.94 points during that span).
|Alex Smith||VS MIA||17th||
Smith might score in the 30’s or in the lower teens, you never know which Alex is going to show up! Tyrod Taylor just put 23 points up against this defense so I’d think something in that range is a safe estimate.
|Aaron Rodgers||VS MIN||28th||As of this writing we have no clue if Rodgers will play or not. If he’s in for Green Bay, he’s in your lineup.|
|RB||Opponent||Matchup rating vs. positon|
|Todd Gurley||@ TEN||23rd||How epic was his Week 15 outing? It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the ball, Gurley is going to move the chains.|
|Kareem Hunt||VS MIA||6th||Welcome back! Kareem is rolling again just in time to take you to the promised land. Congrats if you held on tight this long!|
|Le’Veon Bell||@ HOU||30th||Not a choice match up but he’s match up proof.|
|Dion Lewis||VS BUF||1st|
|Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram||VS ATL||18th||
These two are a blast to watch and both can be very productive despite the match ups. Nothing scary about these Falcons who were getting gashed by Kamara before sustaining a concussion in their Week 14 match up.
|Leonard Fournette||@ SF||3rd||He’s all nicked up but if he plays, he should roll against this inviting opponent.|
|LeSean McCoy||@ NE||15th||His involvement as the centerpiece of this offense protects “Shady” from being phased out even after the Patriots go up 21-0 in this game.|
|Devonta Freeman||@ NO||20th||He balled out at Tampa Bay Monday night and should continue to find room despite the match up downgrade this week.|
|Melvin Gordon||@ NYJ||27th||Heck of a game last week and you saw what Kamara & Ingram did to this defense this past Sunday, right?|
|Ezekiel Elliott||@ SEA||29th||
Welcome back Zeke! Lets hope you really were doing crunches all day while in Mexico and not crushing Margaritas like we’re still in college – which is what the rest of us do when we go south of the border. Todd Gurley showed us just how different the Seattle defense is these days.
|Christian McCaffrey||VS TB||11th||
McCaffrey is on the field 70% of the time and the Bucs just got smashed by Devonta Freeman in Week 15. There’s risk here but he’s posted double digit PPR points in all but three contests this season.
|Jerick McKinnon||@ GB||8th||
I want to move him higher given the match up but with a dead even time share with Latavius Murray I just can’t. I like him over Murray this week but with this offense you just never know.
|WR||Opponent||Matchup rating vs. position|
|Adam Thielen||@ GB||5th||He went 9-for-96 in the first meeting between these teams back in Week 6. Add a touchdown to that and you’ve got a huge game!|
|Keenan Allen||@ NYJ||6th||
We’ll forgive him for last week if he can give us the same 9-for-93 yards and a touchdown that Michael Thomas gave us in Week 15 vs. this defense. Given Keenan’s play this year that actually seems quite reasonable.
Keep an eye on practice reports but word is he’ll be OK for this must-win match up.
|Michael Thomas||VS ATL||23rd||He traditionally plays well vs ATL and just hit them for 27 points two weeks ago. Expect Thomas to keep his hot streak going in New Orleans this week.|
|Jarvis Landry||@ KC||2nd||
The Chiefs contained Keenan Allen last week but I’m betting they can’t do it two weeks in a row against comparable talent.
|Doug Baldwin||VS DAL||4th||The Seahawks might be imploding but this match up is too good to keep Baldwin off the list this week.|
|Dez Bryant||@ SEA||7th||
It’s amazing to see this Seahawks defense with such a generous rating vs. opposing WR’s but they’ve given up six touchdowns to the position over the last five weeks. They had only allowed six scores to opposing wideouts over their first nine contests to start the season. The impact from losing Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman cannot be understated.
|A.J. Green||VS DET||13th||If Kendall Wright can catch 7 for 81 yards receiving what do you think A.J. Green will do to this defense? Detroit IS NOT Minnesota.|
|Julio Jones||@ NO||18th||Huge NFC south tilt with plenty on the line. Julio had a solid outing vs. the Saints in Week 14 so he should be able to build on that.|
|DeAndre Hopkins||VS PIT||26th||He proves every week that the match up simply doesn’t matter.|
|Tyreek Hill||VS MIA||27th||He’s just too dynamic to sit. Every play can be a touchdown when Tyreek is in the game.|
|Devin Funchess||VS TB||1st||He’s dangerously close to being dropped off this list. That said, I can’t pass on a team’s top wideout playing against the leaky Bucs pass defense.|
|Jordy Nelson||VS MIN||21st||This is completely contingent on Aaron Rodgers playing. If #12 is out this spot would be occupied by Alshon Jeffery and arguably should be anyway. But alas, I still believe in the Jordy – Rodgers connection.|
|TE||Opponent||Matchup rating vs. position|
|Rob Gronkowski||VS BUF||11th||He’s Gronk, that’s all I need to say. But also, he posted 9 receptions for 147 yards vs the Bills in Week 13 – that always helps my case.|
|Travis Kelce||VS MIA||6th||He’s as steady as they come at Tight End this year posting double digit PPR outings in all but four contests.|
|Zach Ertz||VS OAK||7th||Nice match up and it’s good to see Nick Foles acting like a competent fill-in for Carson Wentz.|
|Jesse James||@ HOU||4th||
With Antonio Brown on the shelf, James is a strong candidate for more looks in this offense. Not sure if you heard, but he should have had a touchdown in Week 15 vs the Patriots.
|Jimmy Graham||VS DAL||9th||Boy, he has been killing people in the fantasy playoffs but he draws a plus match up this week and its slim pickings at TE these days.|
|Evan Engram||@ AZ||16th||Second on the team with thirteen targets a week ago, Engram remains a focal point of their offense.|
|Delanie Walker||VS LAR||15th||A middling match up but he’s a must start at the position with 19 targets over the past two weeks.|
|Jack Doyle||@ BAL||8th||
As strong as this defense is, the Ravens have been a surprisingly friendly defense for opposing tight ends. Doyle had 7 receptions last week and has been useful in spot starts this year. If you are a TE streamer, he’s worth a look!
|Kyle Rudolph||@ GB||31st||He sat most of last week’s game as a precaution with the game well in hand. It could happen again if Rodgers sits, hence his low rating.|
|Charles Clay||@ NE||19th||
It was tough finding ten tight ends I liked this week but Clay makes the cut. His recent usage along with a favorable projected game-script makes Clay an interesting option this week.