It’s the playoffs in some leagues and do or die in others this week. Some fantasy regulars have very tough matchups this week so don’t be afraid to think outside the box when evaluating your matchups. The Ladell Betts and Devery Henderson’s of the world have been known to lead fantasy teams to the promised land in the past.
When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:
1) Studs – Always play your studs. Each position will include a list of players that are considered studs and should not be benched. If you have the luxury of needing to decide between studs, check out the matchups or feel free to let the shark tank assist you in your decisions. This list will change from week to week. The first week, the studs will consist of the preseason top “tier” at each position.
2) Depth – Every fantasy team is different and some have more depth than others. Only follow the recommended moves if your team depth allows you to make such a move.
Enough of the chit-chat, onto the list!!
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Dallas
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. Oakland
Michael Vick, Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
Marc Bulger, St. Louis vs. Chicago
Tom Brady, New England vs. Miami
Jon Kitna, Detroit (vs. Minnesota): Kitna may not be the poster boy for QB rating, but he has posted an average of 271 yards passing over the past three games with two TDs. Expect Kitna’s numbers to improve from the last time the Lions faced the Vikings in Minnesota (225 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs).
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland): Roethlisberger has faced back-to-back solid defenses (Baltimore, Tampa Bay) so the site of the Browns will be a welcomed one this week. Big Ben threw for 272 yards with 2 TDs and 3 INTs just three weeks ago against the Browns in Cleveland. Look for similar yardage stats with at least a score in Pittsburgh this week.
Jay Cutler, Denver (vs. San Diego): Cutler’s debut last week was far from an overwhelming success. If Brandon Marshall doesn’t take that short dump pass the distance for 71 yards, Cutler’s stats would have been much worse than the 143 yards, 2 TDs & 3 INTs that was the end result. Look for Cutler to struggle once again as the Chargers have their eyes on the #1 seed in the AFC.
Rex Grossman, Chicago (vs. St. Louis): Grossman has gone for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to all Hyde all the time. Over the past three games Grossman has averaged only 110 yards passing and has thrown 1 TD with 6 INTs. Don’t expect Grossman to suddenly turn things around against the Rams who have held their last five opponents to under 200 yards passing.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. Denver
Larry Johnson, Kansas City vs. Baltimore
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia vs. Washington
Steven Jackson, St. Louis vs. Chicago
Frank Gore, San Francisco vs. Green Bay
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants vs. Carolina
Fred Taylor, Jacksonville (vs. Indianapolis): Taylor has remained healthy and has produced solid numbers thus far this season. He rushed for 74 yards on 21 carries the last time he faced the Colts way back in week three. Look for better numbers from Taylor this week as the Colts are still reeling from allowing over 200 yards on the ground to Vince Young and the Titans last week.
Ladell Betts, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): Betts has cracked the 100-yard mark the last two weeks and should find similar success against the Eagles who allowed D’Angelo Williams to post 175 total yards on Monday night. Don’t be afraid to start Betts in a crucial week 14.
Thomas Jones, Chicago (vs. St. Louis): With Grossman likely to struggle in the passing game, the Bears will turn to Thomas Jones to move the ball and they will not be disappointed. The Rams rank 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and Jones will benefit greatly. Don’t be surprised to see Jones’ name atop the leader board in rushing yards on Sunday.
Kevin Jones, Detroit (vs. Minnesota): Jones appeared fully recovered last week from the sprained ankle that kept him on the sidelines the two weeks prior. Jones ran well against the Patriots, but this week he faces the Vikings who are the #1 defense against the run in the NFL. Limit your expectations from Jones in this tough matchup.
Sammy Morris, Miami (vs. New England): Morris rushed for 47 yards on 12 carries in his first start in place of the injured Ronnie Brown last week. The Patriots are heading to Miami this week and Morris won’t find much running room against New England who has allowed the 3rd lowest rushing yards in the NFL this season. Look elsewhere.
Deuce McAllister, New Orleans (vs. Dallas): Last week’s performance from Reggie Bush overshadowed McAllister’s 136 yards rushing which was only the second time all season that McAllister ran for more than 100 yards. Look for Deuce to come back to earth this week against the Cowboys who have allowed the 4th fewest rushing yards in the NFL. If any yards are gained on the ground, expect Bush not McAllister to be the guy to gain them.
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
Andre Johnson, Houston vs. Oakland
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. Tennessee
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Arizona
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Philadelphia
Terrell Owens, Dallas vs. N.Y. Giants
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis vs. Tennessee
Roy Williams, Detroit vs. New England
Darrell Jackson, Seattle vs. Denver
Removed from Studs list
-Javon Walker, Denver: Jay Cutler hurts his production
Donald Driver, Green Bay (vs. San Francisco): Driver has a TD reception in four of the past five games and has averaged 91 yards receiving during that stretch. With Favre anxious to rebound from a sub-par performance against the Jets last week, expect Driver to be Favre’s main target and Driver will respond in a big way. Don’t miss out.
Donte’ Stallworth, Philadelphia (vs. Washington): Who needs McNabb when you have Jeff Garcia?!?!? Take it from a guy who almost didn’t make the playoffs because of Stallworth, you don’t want to be facing him in a close matchup. Stallworth caught six passes for 139 yards and a score the last time the Eagles faced the Redskins. Look for similar success as Garcia continues to improve within the Eagles offense.
Chris Chambers, Miami (vs. New England): Chambers finally hit the 100-yards receiving mark last week for the first time all season. Chambers only posted 29 yards on five catches the last time he faced the Patriots, but expect Harrington to air it out often this week with Chambers as his primary target. If Jon Kitna can surpass 300 yards passing against the Patriots, Harrington should be able to do the same which means good things for Chambers.
Devery Henderson, New Orleans (vs. Dallas): With both Joe Horn and Marques Colston questionable, Henderson will be one of the few healthy options for Drew Brees. After back-to-back big games for Henderson, he came back to earth with a two-catch, 14-yard performance last week. Look for Brees to play better this week against Dallas and Henderson should approach the 100-yard mark in receiving once again.
Rod Smith, Denver (vs. San Diego): Smith hasn’t posted more than 50 yards receiving in seven games. Cutler will struggle and when he does find a WR, Walker will be the man he targets more often than Smith. It’s time to cut bait on the veteran. Thanks for the memories Rod.
Santana Moss, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): Despite the big game from Moss last week (7 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD), lower your expectations against the Eagles this week. Moss only caught 3 passes for 14 yards against the Eagles the last time these teams met and that was with Brunell at QB. Expect Jason Campbell to struggle which will minimize Moss’ stats.
Lee Evans, Buffalo (vs. N.Y. Jets): That 11-catch, 265-yards, 2-TDs performance from Evans sure seems like a distant memory, doesn’t it? Evans posted a big game the last time he faced the Jets (8 catches, 107 yards) but the Jets can smell the playoffs and will be ready for Evans and the Bills this week.
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh): Who is Derek Anderson? Answer: The starting Browns QB if Charlie Frye can’t play. ‘Nuff said.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Baltimore
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. Denver
Todd Heap, Baltimore vs. Kansas City
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants vs. Carolina
Ben Watson, New England vs. Miami
Removed from Studs list
-Kellen Winslow, Cleveland: Questionable, knee
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland): With Hines Ward out this week, look for Roethlisberger to use Miller more often in the passing game making him a solid starter this week.
L.J. Smith, Philadelphia (vs. Washington): The Redskins have allowed a TD to a TE in two of the past three weeks. Look for Garcia to utilize Smith in the short passing game this week including the red zone as his scrambling options will be limited by the Redskins.
Desmond Clark, Chicago (vs. St. Louis): Bad things projected for Grossman means nothing to look forward to for Clark.
Chris Cooley, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): Expect similar numbers to the 2-catch, 14-yard performance from Cooley last week as Jason Campbell and the Redskins passing attack will struggle against the Eagles.