Success in the playoffs can erase the bad breaks of a 7-6 season while struggles can reduce a 11-2 record to a meaningless afterthought. Studs are, in the word of Dennis Green, “who we thought they were”, but there’s always a matchup to exploit this time of the season. Choose your starters wisely, because you do not get a second chance this time of year.
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. The first two weeks the studs list remains the same (except for injury). After week two, players are added/removed as needed.
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!!
Tom Brady, New England vs. Pittsburgh
Tony Romo, Dallas vs. Detroit
Brett Favre, Green Bay vs. Oakland (Check his status prior to game time)
Derek Anderson, Cleveland vs. N.Y. Jets
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Baltimore
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh vs. New England
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. St. Louis
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle vs. Arizona
Jason Campbell, Washington (vs. Chicago): Campbell had below average stats last week against the Bills, but he should bounce back nicely this week against the Bears and surpass the 300-yard mark for the third time in four games. Look for Campbell and the Redskins to get back on track on Thursday night.
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs. Atlanta): Despite only attempting 23 passes last week, Brees completed 17 of them including two TDs which gives him five TD passes in the past two weeks. Look for Brees and the Saints to continue to find success in the air on Monday night against the Falcons this week.
Kyle Boller, Baltimore (vs. Indianapolis): Can you smell a let-down week? Boller played a great game against the Patriots last week coming so close to pulling off the **TIME OUT**. Why would someone call a time out right as I was about to finish that sentence? The Colts will turn Boller, well, back into Boller this week and you want no part of it. Trust me.
Philip Rivers, San Diego (vs. Tennessee): The LDT train is heating up and Rivers will be left standing by punching tickets. Look for the Chargers to pass only to set up the run as Rivers posts mediocre numbers this week in Tennessee.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia vs. N.Y. Giants
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. Tennessee
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. San Francisco
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis vs. Baltimore
Willis McGahee, Baltimore vs. Indianapolis
Reggie Bush, New Orleans vs. Atlanta
Clinton Portis, Washington vs. Chicago
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh vs. New England
Removed from Studs List
-LenDale White, Tennessee: dislocated finger
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland (vs. N.Y. Jets): Believe it or not, Lewis has averaged 96 yards rushing and a score over the past three games. His opponent this week is ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. Make it four solid games in a row for Lewis after this week’s performance.
Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay (vs. Houston): Graham is another red-hot RB rushing for over 100 yards in three of the past four games with a TD in each game. The Texans allowed over 150 yards on the ground last week and will have trouble holding Graham to less than 125 yards rushing this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville (vs. Carolina): Sorry Fred Taylor owners, Jones-Drew continues to get the love from yours truly. MJD has scored a TD in four straight games and all he has to do is bust a long one and his stats go through the roof. Look out Carolina, I sense a 50+ yarder coming this week.
Adrian Peterson, Chicago (vs. Washington): Peterson has posted solid numbers the last two games if your league includes receptions and receiving yards. Look for Peterson to struggle this week as the Redskins start to focus on football once again as the Washington defense holds Peterson in check. He may catch a few passes, but not enough to compensate for his struggles in the running game.
Kevin Jones, Detroit (vs. Dallas): Jones had three carries for one yard last week. Granted it was against the top rated Vikings run defense, but Dallas hasn’t exactly been chopped liver against the run either. The Cowboys are ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and will minimize Jones’ chances at success.
Frank Gore, San Francisco (vs. Minnesota): Gore came way down off his huge week 12 performance rushing for only 58 yards on 12 carries last week. This week, he faces the vaunted Vikings run defense that shut down Kevin Jones and the Lions last week. Temper your expectations on Gore as he’ll have trouble finding running room.
Randy Moss, New England vs. Pittsburgh
Terrell Owens, Dallas vs. Detroit
T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Cincinnati vs. St. Louis
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. Baltimore
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland vs. N.Y. Jets
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. St. Louis
Wes Welker, New England vs. Pittsburgh
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Cincinnati
Marques Colston, New Orleans vs. Atlanta
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Jacksonville
Removed from Studs List
-Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona: groin
-Roy Williams, Detroit: knee
-Plaxico Burress, N.Y. Giants: knee, ankle
Patrick Crayton, Dallas (vs. Detroit): Crayton returned from an ankle injury to catch two TDs last week against the Packers. This week, Crayton faces the Lions who are ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Romo should have a field day in Detroit and Crayton will get enough action to warrant a start.
Bobby Engram, Seattle (vs. Arizona): Ho-hum, Engram caught another six passes for 60 yards and a TD last week. He should post better numbers than the last time he faces the Cardinals back in week two (5-71) as him and Hasselbeck are locked in these days.
Mike Furrey, Detroit (vs. Dallas): With all the offense likely to come out of Dallas and Roy Williams on the shelf, look for Furrey to post solid numbers as he gets the starting nod. Kitna will need to pass as the Lions will be playing from behind and Furrey will benefit greatly.
Roddy White, Atlanta (vs. New Orleans): Back-to-back 100-yard games has made fantasy owners take notice of White. With Chris Redman likely to start against the Saints, look for White to post solid numbers against a New Orleans pass defense ranked 28th in the NFL in passing yards allowed.
Lee Evans, Buffalo (vs. Miami): Is anyone still starting this guy? Evans posted four catches for 65 yards four weeks ago against Miami and that will probably be where he ends up this week. I don’t know about you, but I think I can do better in my starting lineup than 4-65.
Chris Chambers, San Diego (vs. Tennessee): Remember this guy? He was the one that was supposed to be the weapon to bring the Chargers passing attack to the next level. Chambers has averaged only three catches for 46 yards in the six games with the Chargers and won’t see much action this week as San Diego will struggle moving the ball through the air.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (vs. Denver): Bowe has been decent the last couple of weeks, but decent isn’t good enough in week 14. Don’t expect a repeat performance of Bowe’s nice-catch, 105 yards receiving that he posted the last time these teams met in K.C. The Denver crowd will make things tough on Croyle and Bowe will feel the effects.
Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh (vs. New England): Holmes was inactive last week due to an ankle injury and even if he’s 100% healthy, he won’t find much success against the Patriots who return home after a Monday night scare. When the Steelers pass, Roethlisberger will continue to use Hines Ward as his primary target limiting Holmes’ chances.
Tight Ends (* = new addition to the list)
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. Tennessee
Kellen Winslow, Cleveland vs. N.Y. Jets
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Denver
Jason Witten, Dallas
Chris Cooley, Washington vs. Chicago
Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants vs. Philadelphia
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh vs. New England
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis* vs. Baltimore
Randy McMichael, St. Louis (vs. Cincinnati): While McMichael hasn’t been consistent enough to start on a regular basis, if the matchup is right and you feel like gambling, McMichael is the guy for you. It’s not known who will start at QB for the Rams at the time of writing this, but even if it’s Jim “Don’t call me Chris” Everett, he could throw for 280+ yards and two TDs against the Bengals defense.
Eric Johnson, New Orleans (vs. Atlanta): Johnson has been a disappointment this season, but he posted one of his best games of the year the last time the Saints faced the Falcons as he caught five passes for 54 yards. Brees will have success in the air and Johnson should benefit. How does 6/75 and a TD sound to you?
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville (vs. Carolina): Lewis caught five passes in each of the past two games and has a TD in two of the past three games. However, the Jaguars will focus on the running game this week limiting Lewis’ role in the passing attack.
Tony Scheffler, Denver (vs. Kansas City): Scheffler went from five catches, 82 yards and a score two weeks ago to one catch for 17 yards last week. Expect stats closer to the latter against the Chiefs who have played well against the pass all season.