Here’s an updated list of who is in the playoffs and who to avoid: AFC: Colts, Bengals, Patriots, Jaguars & Broncos; NFC: Giants, Bears, & Seahawks. BUT, the Patriots, Bengals and Giants could improve their seeding with a win (and some help). Players from those teams can help you in a pinch.
The following teams will be battling to get in the playoffs and should be the best options for this week (depending on matchup): AFC: Steelers & Chiefs; NFC: Cowboys, Redskins, Panthers, & Bucs.
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. I will try to answer as many inquires as possible.
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. Miami
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati vs. Kansas City
Removed from Studs list:
-Peyton Manning, Indianapolis: clinched playoff spot
Brett Favre, Green Bay (vs. Seattle): Doesn’t it seem fitting? Favre facing Mike Holmgren in possibly his last game? I’m not suggesting that Holmgren will call off the dogs, but expect Favre to show enough flashes of what made him one of the best QBs ever to warrant a start this week.
Trent Green, Kansas City (vs. Cincinnati): The Chiefs not only need to win this week to make the playoffs, they need both Pittsburgh and San Diego to lose. You can bet that Green will do his part against the Bengals defense who made Kelly Holcomb look like Jim Kelly last week.
Kelly Holcomb, Buffalo (vs. N.Y. Jets): Speaking of Holcomb, you shouldn’t expect a repeat performance of last week’s numbers (308 yards passing, 1 TD) against the Jets. The Jets rank 2nd in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed partly due to their porous run defense, but also due to their solid pass defense. Holcomb will return to form and that’s not what you want from your starter this week.
Kyle Boller, Baltimore (vs. Cleveland): Boller is another QB who despite posting big numbers last week should struggle in the last contest of the season. Three TDs in three straight weeks is simply too much to ask from a QB who just two weeks ago may have been without a job after this season.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego vs. Denver
Larry Johnson, Kansas City vs. Cincinnati
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants vs. Oakland
Removed from Studs list:
-Edgerrin James, Indianapolis: clinched playoff spot
-Shaun Alexander, Seattle: clinched playoff spot
-LaMont Jordan, Oakland: injured toe
Julius Jones, Dallas (vs. St. Louis): So much for the RBBC, Coach Parcells! Jones carried the ball 34 times last week rushing for 194 yards and two TDs. You can bet Parcells will look to do the same thing against the Rams who are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. Dallas needs a win and some help in order to play next week, so running the ball and solid defense are priorities 1 & 1a.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh (vs. Detroit): As predicted, Parker stepped it up last week rushing for 130 yards and a score. With Pittsburgh just one win away from clinching a playoff berth, you can bet the Lions will receive a heavy dose of Parker on Sunday and Willie will not disappoint.
Clinton Portis, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): The last time Portis faced Philly, he rushed for only 67 yards on 21 carries. This time around, he enters the game with four straight 100-yard rushing games and the Redskins sit one win away from the playoffs. Look for Portis to improve greatly on his numbers from his last game against the Eagles as he does his best to advance Washington into post-season play.
Mewelde Moore, Minnesota (vs. Chicago): Moore had a decent game against the Bears back in week six rushing for 57 yards and catching five passes for 52 yards. The difference now is this Vikings team has lost two straight and is D-O-N-E. With Mike Tice finally on the hot-seat, I’d expect the unexpected. You could see 25 straight passes followed by 10 consecutive QB sneaks just so he can stick it to the man one last time. Neither Moore nor any other Viking should be within ten feet of your starting lineup this week.
Artose Pinner, Detroit (vs. Pittsburgh): Pinner posted solid numbers last week against the Saints, but the Steelers defense is quite different than the Saints especially on the ground. Pinner is not the waiver wire pickup that will lead your team to the promised land. Look elsewhere.
Ryan Moats, Philadelphia (vs. Washington): Moats went from 114 yards rushing to 13 yards rushing in three short weeks. Expect the latter this week against the Redskins who need the win more and will play like it both offensively and defensively.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona vs. Indianapolis
Santana Moss, Washington vs. Philadelphia
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Atlanta
Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans
Torry Holt, St. Louis vs. Dallas
Anquan Boldin, Arizona vs. Indianapolis
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati vs. Kansas City
Removed from Studs list:
-Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis: clinched playoff spot
-Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis: clinched playoff spot
Eddie Kennison, Kansas City (vs. Cincinnati): Kennison is banged up, but it’s crunch time. The Chiefs need a win and Green will air it out this week against the Bengals giving Kennison ample opportunity to crack the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards on the season. Expect a score as well.
Donald Driver, Green Bay (vs. Seattle): Someone has to catch all of Favre’s passes, right? Despite Driver being the one to end my playoff run in one of my leagues two weeks ago, I hold no grudges. Driver should post his second straight 100-yard receiving game helping Favre go out with a bang.
Keenan McCardell, San Diego (vs. Denver): What does Keenan have to play for? 1,000 yards receiving, of course! If you think NFL players don’t value stats, watch the players that go all out this week in what will be meaningless games around the NFL. McCardell is one of those guys. He’s got 866 receiving yards on the season so he’ll need a big day to reach the magical number. Don’t miss out.
Chris Chambers, Miami (vs. New England): Chambers has quietly emerged as a top-10 WR this season even with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sharing time at QB for Miami. Chambers scored twice and caught six passes for 69 yards the last time hew faced the Patriots. With New England likely to rest more players this week after the Bruschi and Samuel injuries last week, look for Chambers to excel in frosty Foxboro.
Antonio Bryant, Cleveland (vs. Baltimore): Bryant hasn’t caught a TD pass in seven weeks and he was held to four catches for 34 yards the last time the Browns faced the Ravens. Look for more of the same as Bryant never produced as expected after Edwards went down.
Joe Horn, New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay): Along with Andre Johnson you were my 2nd and 3rd round picks in one of my leagues and you both helped lead me all the way to the cellar in my division. Bravo! No love for you Mr. Horn, this week. Ring-Ring…ring-ring…I’d ask you to answer your cell phone again, but you’ve only found the end zone once this year so you probably have forgotten how to use the thing.
Bobby Engram, Seattle (vs. Green Bay): Engram’s one catch for 13 yards week should be all the warning you need to avoid him like the plague this week.
Travis Taylor, Minnesota (vs. Chicago): Don’t be fooled by Taylor’s stats from last week. As mentioned with Mewelde Moore, you shouldn’t even consider starting any Vikings this week. Even with the Bears playing their second team on defense, they’ll shut down the Vikings offense with little resistance.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City vs. Cincinnati
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta vs. Carolina
Antonio Gates, San Diego vs. Denver
Todd Heap, Baltimore vs. Cleveland
Jason Witten, Dallas vs. St. Louis
Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants vs. Oakland
Chris Cooley, Washington (vs. Philadelphia): My apologies to Cooley owners. He should have made the Studs list two weeks ago. He’s not only worthy of a start, but if the Skins make the playoffs, he should be on the short list of TEs to grab for your playoff pool as well.
Randy McMichael, Miami (vs. New England): McMichael had seven catches for 81 yards the last time he faced New England. Against second-stringers, McMichael may have those numbers by halftime.
Alex Smith, Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans): The youngster had his best game of the season last week (8-75), but the Saints are tough against the pass and will give Chris Simms all he can handle. Smith’s numbers will return to the 2-3 catches for 15-30 yards range this week.
Zach Hilton, New Orleans (vs. Tampa Bay): I like Paris better and so does Todd Bouman.