Happy Holidays everyone! Hopefully, you’re enjoying your championship trophy or playing in the finals this week. The last week of the season is much different than any other week. Forget about everything you’ve learned over the past 16 weeks. The concept of Studs: gone. Your goal this week is to find the players at each position that won’t be resting for the playoffs and have favorable matchups.
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs. Chicago): The Saints need to win and both Washington and Minnesota to lose to make the playoffs. You can bet Brees will do his part as the Saints should have no problem moving the ball through the air against the Bears.
Derek Anderson, Cleveland (vs. San Francisco): Anderson had a lousy game last week and the Browns now need help to make the playoffs. A Tennessee loss and they are in, but Anderson will take care of business against the 49ers to get himself and the Browns passing attack into playoff form.
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants (vs. New England): The Giants have clinched the #5 seed and cannot improve. If you think the Patriots will be resting players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, think again. Manning won’t have his full arsenal of weapons and even if he did, he’s not worthy of a start this week.
Philip Rivers, San Diego (vs. Oakland): If the Chargers win this week, they can avoid playing the Jaguars in the first week of the playoffs which should be enough motivation for them to put forth their best effort. Rivers best effort lately has hovered around 180 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Not exactly the numbers I’m looking for from my starting QB in the last week of the season.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (vs. Denver): Peterson was held to only 27 yards on nine carries last week against the Redskins but that will change this week in Denver. The Vikings need a win and a Washington loss to make the playoffs and the Broncos are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. Look for Peterson to run wild this week as he does what he can to bring the Vikings to the playoffs.
LenDale White, Tennessee (vs. Indianapolis): The Titans are in the playoffs with a win. Look for White to have success running the ball against the Colts as Tennessee rests their playoff hopes on #25.
Kenny Watson, Cincinnati (vs. Miami): Did you have the feeling that Maroney could’ve rushed for 200 yards last week? Look for Watson to continue to fill in for Rudi Johnson quite nicely as he shreds the Dolphins defense this week. You’ve got a lot of work to do Mr. Parcells.
Musa Smith, Baltimore (vs. Pittsburgh): With McGahee injured, Smith will get the nod against the Steelers this week. Smith will find out very early that it’s much different being the man than it is substituting for the man every fourth play.
Adrian Peterson, Chicago (vs. New Orleans): The other Adrian Peterson won’t be able to repeat his 100-yard performance from a week ago against the Saints who are playing for a chance at the playoffs.
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis (vs. Tennessee): Ouch. This one hurts. Addai is questionable and the Colts aren’t going to risk anything with Addai. The Titans have been tough against the run (6th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed) so it’s hard to even suggest starting Kenton Keith in Addai’s place.
Marques Colston, New Orleans (vs. Chicago): See Drew Brees.
Brandon Marshall, Denver (vs. Minnesota): Jay Cutler has been average lately, but he’s looking in Marshall’s direction practically every play. Look for Marshall to play a big role in the passing offense this week as the Broncos try and play the role of spoiler.
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland (vs. San Francisco): See Derek Anderson.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (vs. St. Louis): Last week was Anquan Boldin’s chance to shine, look for Warner to feed Fitzgerald the lion’s share of passes against a Rams defense that Fitzgerald torched for nine catches, 136 yards, and a score back in week five.
Derrick Mason, Baltimore (vs. Pittsburgh): You can’t rely on a 79-yard TD pass every week to bail you out. The last time Mason faced the Steelers he posted six catches for 35 yards. Those numbers sound about right for this week’s matchup as Mason won’t be “stud-like”.
Plaxico Burress, N.Y. Giants (vs. New England): This guy hasn’t practiced since September. Do you think he’ll play enough minutes in a meaningless game the week before the playoffs start?
Terrell Owens, Dallas (vs. Washington): T.O. won’t be suiting up this week against the Redskins as he rests his ankle for the playoffs. Another tough break for fantasy owners who rode him all season long.
Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay (vs. Carolina): Jon Gruden joins the long list of coaches who are disrupting the sacred ground that is fantasy football by announcing that his starters will not play much in the final game of the season. Sorry Galloway owners, the Bucs were too good this year.
Tony Scheffler, Denver (vs. Minnesota): What passes aren’t thrown Brandon Marshall’s way will more than likely be headed for Scheffler as he is one more solid game from cracking the top 10 TEs in points on the season.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (vs. N.Y. Jets): Gonzo wants to end the season with a bang and should come close to repeating the big stats from last week (10 catches, 137 yards) against the Jets this week.
Antonio Gates, San Diego (vs. Oakland): Gulp. This one is a tough call, but Gates has caught only one pass in each of the past two games and only managed three catches for 58 yards the last time he faced the Raiders. You probably don’t own any better options if you own Gates, but don’t expect much this week.
Alex Smith, Tampa Bay (vs. Carolina): Don’t expect a repeat performance of the six catches for 79 yards from Smith last week. The Bucs offense will be on auto-pilot which won’t be beneficial for any Tampa Bay offensive player.