We witnessed some unusual stat lines on Sunday, but fortunately next week is when most do or die match ups begin. In one of my leagues, my team featuring LaDainian Tomlinson, Lamont Jordan and Chad Johnson was thrashed by a team who’s owner hadn’t set his lineup in weeks, but still had Chris Chambers starting. Buffalo and Miami had little to play for and going into the game, neither team had any viable fantasy studs; So how did Chris Chambers and Lee Evans combine for 355 yards and 4 td’s? As unpredictable as it was, I can’t say it was absolutely shocking because the Bills and Dolphins game fit into a category I like to call “Two Bad Teams.” Late in the season when there is a game with two bad teams who are both completely out of the playoff picture, there can be some explosive outputs. Many of us remember Billy Volek reeling off back to back 40 point games last year in weeks 14 and 15. In both games, the Titans had only 4 wins and played against teams who had only 4 wins to that point. Amazingly, despite Volek’s fantasy heroics, the Titans lost both of those games and inched closer and closer to a high draft pick, which isn’t a bad thing for a team headed nowhere anyway. There is a lesson to be learned here: Do not look past a player when they are in a game featuring “Two Bad teams.”
This week I figured I’d give you some player analysis in a team by team format. So here goes:
Arizona- Warner, Fitzgerald, and Boldin are weekly plays from here on out. The running game doesn’t exist for this team, so forget J.J. Arrington (who many people started this week for some strange reason) and enjoy what seems to be the guaranteed 300 yards of production for the passing game.
Atlanta- The Falcons have an easy game this week against New Orleans, so feel free to start Vick and Dunn there, but you have to bench them in the following weeks on the road against Chicago and Tampa Bay. I do consider the Falcons D and Crumpler a strong start in all three games though.
Baltimore- I happily played against Jamal Lewis in some leagues this week, because after one good week in garbage time, everyone was quick to put him back into their lineups. I’ve been saying it all year, but I’ll say it one more time: Bench JLew indefinitely! You really should bench all Ravens from here on out now that Boller is back, but there is a chance that Chester Taylor can make a decent flex start if they commit to giving him the ball which still remains to be seen.
Buffalo- I was saving Evans in a couple leagues for this coming week against New England, where I thought he might go off. Thanks to his 3 td game against Miami on Sunday, the Patriots will probably give him a lot of extra attention, so he is only a decent start in that game and the same goes for Willis. After that I would try and sit all Bills.
Carolina- It’s about time for DeShaun Foster who was taken in the first 4 rounds of many drafts. He had more points in his first game as the featured back than Stephen Davis had in any game all season. With the exception of the sputtering Lions, most teams have pounded the Falcons on the ground lately, so keep his big game into perspective. Davis will still steal the goal line carries, so consider Foster no more than a decent #2 RB, except in week 15 when he could have huge numbers at New Orleans. Steve Smith is an every week start and you could do worse than Delhomme who should get you 200 yards and 1-2 td’s each game. Carolina D is a great start against Tampa Bay and New Orleans over the next two weeks.
Chicago- I think most people expected more from Thomas Jones on Sunday. Quietly, Jones hasn’t scored a TD in 6 weeks. His struggles could continue next week at Pittsburgh, who will play for their season. I do like Thomas Jones in weeks 15 and 16 when the Bears host Atlanta and play at Green Bay. Sit all other Bears, except their defense which is an every week start.
Cincinnati- Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmandzadeh, and the Defense are must starts from here on out. The Bengals have a soft schedule playing at home against Cleveland and Buffalo and playing at Detroit in the next three weeks. Start your Bengals with a smile.
Cleveland- The Jags are one of the best teams at stopping the run in the league, so Droughns only managed to have 88 yards on 30 carries. The Browns commitment to getting Droughns the ball makes him a good start in the next two weeks on the road against Cincinnati and Oakland. With Braylon Edwards done for the year, Antonio Bryant could be a decent #3 WR, but I’d sit all other Browns.
Dallas- Bledsoe’s struggles continued on Sunday and I don’t see him getting much success from here on out. Julius Jones played surprisingly well against a stout Giants D, and he could find some room against Kansas City next week. I’d start Jones, Glenn, and Witten against KC, but I’d try and sit them when the Cowboys play at Washington and at Carolina in weeks 15 and 16. I’d sit Keyshawn indefinitely and although the Cowboys D is playing very well, I’d look for better match ups down the stretch.
Denver- The Broncos have a very favorable schedule with Baltimore, Buffalo, and Oakland coming up. This makes Mike Anderson and the Broncos D solid options and makes Plummer at least playable. I’d sit the receivers, Dayne, and Bell though because none of them get enough looks.
Detroit- What a waste of an easy schedule; You have to sit all Lions at Green Bay and home against Cincinnati in weeks 14 and 15. Of course week 16 at New Orleans fits into the “Two Bad Teams” category, so Roy Williams could be a decent flex for that game.
Green Bay- I’d consider Favre, Driver, Gado, and even Green Bay D good options in weeks 14 and 15, home against Detroit and at Baltimore. The weather could be a mess in week 16 at Chicago, so I’d only play Gado as a flex or as a #2 if you’re in a pinch that week.
Houston- “Two Bad Teams” galore in weeks 14 and 15, when the Texans are at Tennessee and home against Arizona. Dominick Davis and Andre Johnson could be huge in those games and Carr is actually playable. Kris Brown is one of the better kickers from here on out because he doesn’t have a bad weather game and his team gives him plenty of opportunities. I wouldn’t start Carr at home against Jacksonville in week 16, and I’d throw Davis and Johnson into a “You could do worse” group for that game.
Indianapolis- If you own a Colt or two, I believe you should root for them to beat Jacksonville this week. If they do, despite whatever Dungy has been saying, I think they go for the perfect season and keep their starters in. To me, a perfect 19-0 season is worth two Super Bowls. If they drop one of the next two at Jacksonville or vs. San Diego, they might have nothing to play for at Seattle. None of the Colts are great starts at Jacksonville, where the Colts usually struggle, but Peyton, Edge, Harrison, and Wayne are still serviceable there. If they actually play in weeks 15 and 16, the Big 4 would make for great starts vs. San Diego and at Seattle. Keep your fingers crossed.
Jacksonville- Like we’ve been saying for weeks now, the Jags play the Niners and the Texans in weeks 15 and 16. The problem is, other than the Jags D, its still hard to find a must start for those games. If Greg Jones starts, he will be a very solid in those games, but its unclear what kind of role Fred Taylor might have. Gerrard should be decent and he looks for Jimmy Smith, so Smith makes a nice play too. Bench Wilford and cut Matt Jones, because Gerrard isn’t getting them the ball. I would try and bench all Jags against the Colts this week.
Kansas City- The Chiefs have two tough road games coming up at Dallas and at the Giants. Larry Johnson is obviously a weekly start either way, but I would avoid Green and Kennison in those two games. I’d start Gonzalez and Tynes each week, and I’d play all Chiefs in week 16 vs. San Diego.
Miami- You probably don’t need me to tell you to play Chambers each week, but I will anyway because he has a favorable schedule. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are good flex options for the rest of the season. It’s hard to put them in a higher category than that since they seemingly split touchdowns and carries right down the middle. Avoid the quarterbacks, and you could do worse than playing the Dolphins D in week 15 vs. the Jets.
Minnesota- Mike Tice for coach of the year? After winning 5 in a row, it’s a possibility. I would stay away from the Viking’s backfield for the rest of the season and I’d be careful with their receivers as well. This week vs. St. Louis, Brad Johnson, Marcus Robinson, and Koren Robinson are decent plays, but I’d avoid them after that. The Vikings D could come up big in week 16 at Baltimore.
New England- Dillon is back and should be a weekly play from here on out. There’s a chance that the Patriots could have the #4 seed wrapped up by week 16, so they could sit Dillon at the Jets which would otherwise be a fantastic match up. I don’t think Brady will be top 5 from here on out, but he should be serviceable. I’d avoid the receivers unless you’re using Branch as a #3 and as bad as their defense has been, they might be closer to the middle of the pack for the rest of the season since they play Buffalo, Tampa, and the Jets.
New Orleans- I would avoid the Saints at Atlanta at home against Carlina in the next two weeks, but I might try and play Stallworth and Horn in week 16 vs. Detroit. Forget Aaron Brooks!
New York Giants- It still remains to be seen how Eli can produce in the cold weather because he certainly didn’t give you much on Sunday against Dallas. The Giants play the next three games in Philadelphia, home against Kansas City, and at Washington. All three games will be tough and cold, so we might see some inconsistency out of Eli. Burress has been relatively quiet over the last 6 weeks, so don’t consider him any better than a #2 option in the upcoming cold weather games. Shockey and Barber are great starts each week, and please find a better kicker than Feely.
New York Jets- Sit the Jets indefinitely.
Oakland Raiders- You have to love Lamont Jordan the rest of the way and especially back in the Meadowlands at the Jets where he’ll look to show the Jets what they’re missing. Porter and Moss are decent #2 Receivers, but Collins is only a so-so starter the rest of the way.
Philadelphia- The Eagles have a very soft schedule in weeks 15 and 16, so look for Westbrook and LJ smith to have an impact. With all of the quarterback injuries, McMahon could be serviceable in those weeks, but don’t expect better than 250 yards and 1 td. Akers could be big in those games as well so pick him if your kicker has some bad weather games coming up.
Pittsburgh- This team has recently lost its identity as an unstoppable running team. I would avoid all the running backs here for the rest of the season. Roethlisberger comes off of one of his best fantasy games, but I would only project him as an average starter in the next three weeks. The two biggest stars on this team could be Hines Ward and Pittsburgh D who I would consider weekly plays.
St. Louis- This team is one of the hardest to figure out right now from a fantasy perspective. Torry Holt is a must start each week, but the situation gets cloudy after that. Their next game is at Minnesota, who’s playing great defense lately, so I would try and sit Jackson (who’s been underachieving), Bruce, and whoever is playing at QB. I’d try and bench Curtis now that Bruce is back as well. I’ll give everyone only a slight upgrade in week 15 vs. Philadelphia, but Week 16 vs. San Francisco could be the difference in many peoples’ fantasy championships. In that game I think whoever is playing QB will have 300 yards and at least 1 TD. Steven Jackson should have a huge game, so you might have to overlook a few bad games in a row to get him in your line up. I also like Bruce in that game and if you’re desperate for a REC, you could play Curtis.
San Diego- This one is easy. Start Brees, Tomlinson, Gates and Kaeding every week. McCardell is a decent #3 option and keep an eye on Erik Parker who could be a sleeper next year.
San Francisco- Sit all Niners indefinitely.
Seattle- As long as Carolina keeps winning, Seattle won’t have a reason to sit anyone. Darrell Jackson is supposed to come back in week 14 against San Francisco, but I might sit him until I see that he is healthy. Alexander is obvious, and although Hasselback hasn’t been lighting it up, I think he is a strong start from here on out. Jackson’s health will obviously impact the value of Jurevicius and Engram down the stretch. Keep tabs on this situation to see who keeps the #2 spot opposite Jackson. Josh Brown could finish strong avoiding a bad weather game in weeks 14-16.
Tampa Bay- Joey Galloway is a weekly play, but I would sit all other Buccaneers this week at Carolina. I like Cadillac after that at New England and especially in week 16 vs. Atlanta. Try to avoid Simms even against the soft New England secondary because Tampa will not play well in the cold. Tampa D has been solid all year, but you can probably find much better match ups elsewhere.
Tennessee- Like last year, the Titans finish up with a very fantasy friendly schedule playing home games against Houston and Seattle and playing at Miami in week 16. I like Mcnair, Chris Brown, and Drew Bennett to post solid, but not spectacular #’s during that stretch. Keep tabs on Kinney’s injury. The Titans love to use the tight end, so with that schedule, either Kinney or Troupe could be very valuable to your team.
Washington- Brunell has followed suit with Bledsoe, so bench him each week. I like Santana Moss and Clinton Portis to have big games at Arizona this week. Washington will try and play spoiler in weeks 15 and 16 at home against Dallas and the Giants. Those will be very hard fought, physical games, so I would sit Santana Moss, who’s been terrible lately anyway, but I think Portis can still get you decent numbers.