Tennessee at Indianapolis (Colts -4.5)
I love the Colts at home where they are 5-1 ATS while the Titans are 2-4 against it on the road. If this Colts team really wants to make the playoffs, and they should, they need to win this game. The are currently in with their 8-4 record but still have to play division/conference leader Houston twice over their last four. That turns today and week 16 in KC into “must win” games. The Colts keep rolling and I don’t see them having a let down at home.
San Diego at Pittsburgh (Steelers -9)
The Chargers are putrid and they are playing for nothing. Even if they win out the Norv Turner pink slip is already written, it’s only a matter of time now. Roethlisberger is playing and Polamalu is stringing together a few games in a row and should be rounding into top form. The Steelers D is first in the NFL allowing only 166.7 yards per game through the air and I don’t see San Diego traveling across the country in a meaningless, cold weather game bucking that trend.
NY Jets at Jacksonville (Jaguars +3)
The Jets are bad and Sanchez is worse. Sure, this may be his last chance to save his NFL career (at least in New York) but I don’t care, he is playing bad. He is turning the ball over way too much and has no confidence in himself nor his teammates. You can not compete at the NFL level without confidence. The Jag’s are playing for nothing EXCEPT 2013 roster spots, don’t discount that. Backup turned starter Chad Henne wants a job next year and is very familiar with Rex Ryan and they Jets from his days as Miami’s signal caller. Take the home dog here.
Other games i like: Miami +10 @ SF. Dolphins always play the West tough. Philly +9 @ TB. The Buc’s win this game but 9 is way too many points for a defense that’s last in the NFL against the pass allowing 309.4 ypg. Houston +3.5 @ NE. This will be a close game either way. New England won’t be able to protect Brady enough against the NFL MVP candidate JJ Watt led pass rush nor will they be able to run the ball effectively on the leagues second ranked (87.6 ypg) rush defense.
Week 14 (in most leagues) signals the beginning of the playoffs. It also is the time where you need to forget about names and draft positions and let matchups and “what have you done for me lately” be the top two factors to determine who you start and sit.
Start: Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman. Freeman has been a pleasant surprise this year. He is the 11th overall QB in standard scoring leagues. But as i said earlier, matchups should be the number one determing factor in who to play this week and Freeman has a saucy one.
Start: Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams. This is one of my favorite matchups of week 14. The Eagles are putrid against the pass and will have their hands full trying to shut down Vincent Jackson. Who reaps the benefits of that? Williams does. I say he is good for no worse than 90 yards and a TD maybe more.
Start: Indianapolis RB Vick Ballard. At some point the Colts will need to become at least mildly effective on the ground. Donald Brown is out so that means Ballard gets the lions-share of the carries. The Titans D give up 129 yards on the ground and that is not out of the realm of possibility in this game. Last time these teams met, D Brown and Ballard rushed for 135 yds combined and Ballard got into the end zone on a 16 yard TD pass.
Start: St Louis WR Chris Gibson. This just in, Danny Amendola is out and Buffalo is awful against the pass. Someone on the Rams is going to have to catch the ball and Gibson has been the most effective at doing so. I’d start him over Larry Fitzgerald.
Start: Tennesse WR Kenny Britt. It all depends on what you are looking for. If you are desperate for a WR2 or flex then i love Kenny Britt. Britt has caught a TD in two straight games, he is the healthiest he’s been all year and, all about the matchup again, the Colts have let up 15 TD’s to opposing WR’s and are giving up an average of 24.3 fantasy ppg to them. Realistically Britt is a flex options with WR1 potential.
Start: Pittsburgh RB Jonathan Dwyer. Here is the case for him, Tomlin has said no more “hot hand” approach. Dwyer is the starter, Redman the backup and Mendenhall is inactive. Opposing RB’s are averaging 129 yards on the ground over San Diego’s last three games and the Steelers are going to want to limit Roethlisberger’s drop back to protect his achy ribs. Expect Dwyer to have an unspectacular but solid game against the Chargers. 80 yards and a TD is easily attainable. It might take him 33 attempts to get there but that doesn’t matter as ypc has no effect on your fantasy game.
Start: Minnesota TE Kyle Rudolph. He’s had touchdowns in three straight games and he scored last time these two teams met plus the Vikings have no one else to throw to.
Deep Start: Philadelphia WR Riley Cooper. This start might not be for everyone but if you’re really hurting and/or in a PPR format, I’d go with the former Florida standout. As mentioned above, the Bucs’ are last in the NFL against the pass. When these backup QB’s like Foles come in, sometimes they have more success going to guys like Cooper who aren’t the teams’ big name players but rather the player they are more comfortable with because they get reps together in practice.
Other guys I like: INDI WR TY Hilton, NYG RB Ahmad Bradshaw, STL RB Steven Jackson, WAS RB Alfred Morris, PIT WR Antonio Brown and NO WR Lance Moore.
Sit: Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald. If you are lucky enough to be in the playoffs and have Fitz on your team, congratulations. Now sit him down and scour the waiver wire if you haven’t already. Just based on the matchup alone I’d probably go with the aforementioned Riley Cooper over the future HOF. SEA CB Browner is playing and should be effective against the John Skelton led pass attack. Fun fact, Larry Fitzgerald has the most red zone targets without a touchdown catch ( in the rz) in the NFL.
Sit: New York Jets RB Shonn Greene. If i had to, I’d rather start Bilal Powell. Who, when healthy has been more effective than Greene. To describe Greene’s running style as “plodding” would even be generous.
Sit: Dallas QB Tony Romo. Only two QB’s all year have thrown for multiple TD’s against the Bengals and only one passer has topped 300 yards. There are better options out there.
Sit: San Diego RB Ryan Matthews. See Larry Fitzgerald above. Matthews won’t bust his slump against the Pittsburgh defense in Pitt. He’s only had double-digit fantasy points once all year!
Sit: Miami RB Reggie Bush. Usually you should sit every RB who faces the vaunted 49er defense and Bush is no different. He’s had to compete with second year runner Daniel Thomas for carries over the past five games to the point where it is definitely a “time-share” situation with Bush on the losing end because Thomas gets the red zone touches. FYI sit Thomas as well. Oh by the way, all-world LT Jake Long is on IR after sustaining a season ending triceps injury last week. I want nothing to do with the Miami backfield.
Sit: Buffalo WR Steve Johnson. The Rams defense might not have much but it does have a legit shutdown corner in Cortland Finnegan who should have no problem taking a second-third tier WR1 like Steve Johsnon out of the equation. In fact, he has made a career out of shutting down Steve Johnson types.
Sit: San Francisco RB Frank Gore. It has been a very nice year for Gore who is the ninth best RB in standard scoring leagues. BUT Miami only gives up 97.7 yard on the ground and defense travels. It might be hard to do figuring you rode Gore this far and i still like him as more of a flex option but do not expect Gore to be the typical RB1 he usually is and single handedly win your playoff game for you. I expect guys like BJGE, Mikel Leshoure and Jonathan Dwyer all to have better games.
Other guys I don’t like: SF TE Vernon Davis, CAR WR Steve Smith, DAL WR Austin Miles, BUF RB Fred Jackson, ATL RB Michael Turner, DAL RB Demarco Murray and PHI RB Bryce Brown.