Starts & Sits: Playoff Edition
What to watch for this weekend…
Yes we Cam!
ICONWill Oregon's LaMichael James finish second? Or will it be Andrew Luck from Stanford?
After winning the Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) and Maxwell Award (best player) Thursday evening, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton sets his sights on the Heisman Trophy (Saturday, 8:00pm eastern). Newton is virtually a lock to take home college football’s most prestigious individual honor, so we ask you, which player will come in second?
Army and Navy are set to butt heads Saturday (2:30pm eastern) in Philadelphia. The Midshipmen are currently an 8-point favorite, but keep an eye on the total in this game (54 points). This matchup has stayed under 41 total points in each of the last four years.
Salary Cap Challenge
Fail to make the playoffs in your fantasy league? Qualify for the playoffs but looking to test your skills? Then step up and play the Week 14 NFP/FanDuel Salary Cap Challenge. Cash, prizes and bragging rights are on the line.
The Title Defense Begins
The 2010 playoffs are officially underway in the National Football Post Fantasy Expert’s League. The defending champs (NFP) open up with a first-round matchup against Jay Clemons of Sports Illustrated. CLICK HERE to follow the action.
The End of the Regular Season
Over in the 2010 Procter & Gamble Bloggers Fantasy League (on NFL.com), the NFP is now 10-3 and has officially secured the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, which are set to begin next weekend. However, there are some intense battles underway for the three remaining playoff spots. CLICK HERE to check out Dan Levy’s breakdown of last week’s results.
In addition, CLICK HERE to check out the Procter & Gamble facebook page, where you can win yourself a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii!
New England Patriots at Chicago Bears (Over/Under 41)
Forecast: High of 21 degrees with high winds and 60% chance of snow showers.
Take the UNDER.
And now, your motivational moment of the day…
START ‘EM UP
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens: The third-year quarterback out of Delaware has thrown two or more touchdown passes in five of his last seven games and has topped 250 yards passing in six of his last seven outings. Look for the trend to continue Monday night in Houston when Flacco takes on a Texans team that ranks dead last in the NFL in pass defense (287.4 yds/gm) and is giving up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league (24.6 pts/gm).
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos: The former Georgia standout has been quietly tearing up the league as of late. Over his last four games, Moreno has amassed 567 total yards and three touchdowns, as he finally appears to have recovered from that early season hamstring injury. Owners are advised to make sure the second-year running back is in the starting lineup this weekend as Denver heads to Arizona to take on a Cardinals team that ranks 30th in the league in run defense (144.2 yds/gm) and is giving up more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other defense in the NFL (25.6 pts/gm).
ICONCrabtree has been on a roll as of late.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Despite some inconsistencies at the quarterback position in San Francisco this season, Crabtree has still managed to find the end zone in five of his last eight games. Alex Smith steps back under center for the 49ers’ Week 14 date with a Seahawks team that ranks 30th in the NFL in pass defense (268.1 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 26.7 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (third-worst in NFL). If Smith can get into the groove on Sunday, Crabtree will have an excellent chance to post some solid fantasy totals.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The rookie from Oregon is averaging a rock-solid 18.8 carriers per game over his last six contests and an impressive 4.5 yards per carry on the season. After watching the New York Giants rush for 197 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries last weekend against the Redskins, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Buccaneers will feed Blount a plethora of carries Sunday at Washington. The ‘Skins currently rank 28th in the league in run defense (137.0 yds/gm) and are giving up an average of 22.0 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (eighth-most in NFL). Blount should be in a line for a big performance.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: The second-year wideout from Missouri has racked up 34 targets and is averaging 10.2 fantasy points per game over his last four outings. Philadelphia currently ranks seventh in the league in pass offense (256.7 yds/gm) and should aggressively take to the skies Sunday night in Dallas against a Cowboys team that ranks 28th in the NFL in pass defense (254.1 yds/gm) and is surrendering more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than any other team in the league this season (29.2 pts/gm). This means DeSean Jackson should be in the starting lineup as well this weekend.
Ed Dickson, TE, Baltimore Ravens: With starting tight end Todd Heap expected to miss Monday night’s game at Houston due to a hamstring injury, owners shouldn’t be afraid to start the rookie from Oregon. Dickson is averaging 14.0 yards per reception this season (8-112-0) and will have the luxury of taking on a Texans team that ranks dead last in the NFL in pass defense (287.4 yds/gm) and is surrendering more fantasy points to opposing tight ends (10.7 pts/gm) than any other team in the league. It’s a bit risky, but if you’re in need of some help at the tight end position, Dickson’s the man for the job.
Atlanta Falcons, D/ST: The Falcons currently rank 22nd in scoring among fantasy D/STs, but Week 14 offers a matchup that owners can’t afford to overlook. Atlanta heads to Carolina on Sunday to take on a Panthers team that ranks dead last in the NFL in both total offense (261.2 yds/gm) and scoring offense (12.8 pts/gm). In addition, the Panthers are currently tied for second in the league in turnovers (30) and are surrendering more fantasy points to opposing D/STs (13.5 pts/gm) than any other team in the business. Get Atlanta in the lineup this Sunday.
SIT ‘EM DOWN
ICONIf you haven't been counting, the Monday Night game is loaded with starts and sits.
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans: It’s been a semi-disappointing year for Schaub owners as the Houston signal-caller currently ranks just 13th in scoring among fantasy quarterbacks. Don’t expect that ranking to improve much in Week 14 when Schaub and the Texans take on a pissed-off Baltimore Ravens team that ranks 11th in the NFL against the pass (208.0 yds/gm) and is giving up only 15.4 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (fifth-fewest in NFL). There are better options out there.
Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams, RBs, Miami Dolphins: Not only do these two do a nice job stealing carries from one other, but they’re stuck on an inconsistent offense that is only as good as quarterback Chad Henne decides to be that week. After the butt-kicking the New York Jets took at Gillette Stadium on Monday night, we have a feeling that the Dolphins could be in some trouble this Sunday up in New York. The Jets run defense currently ranks third in the NFL (87.5 yds/gm) and is surrendering only 12.7 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (second-fewest in the league). Don’t expect much out of Brown or Williams.
Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots: Over the past two weeks, the veteran wideout has hauled in six passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, Branch has topped 70 receiving yards in three of his last four games. While it certainly appears that he is peaking at the right time, be advised that New England travels to Chicago this weekend to take on a Bears team that has only given up nine passing touchdowns this season (second-fewest in NFL) and is allowing just 18.0 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (sixth-fewest in NFL). ALERT: The forecast in Chicago on Sunday is calling for 23 degrees with high winds and a chance of snow showers. That’s not good for a passing attack.
Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Benson has found the end zone four times over his last nine contests, but keep in mind that the veteran running back has topped 70 rushing yards in a game just one time over his last seven outings. In addition, Benson has just two 100+ yard rushing performances in 12 games this season and is rarely a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield (1.8 receptions per game in 2010). All of that adds up to a big “Sit” in our book as the Bengals head to Pittsburgh on Sunday to take on a Steelers team that ranks first in the NFL in run defense (62.2 yds/gm) and is giving up fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs (11.6 pts/gm) than any other team in the league. As if that wasn’t enough to sway your opinion, be advised that the Steelers have only surrendered four rushing touchdowns this season (fewest in NFL).
How will Bowe perform without Matt Cassel?
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: While we fully expect Bowe owners to insert him into the starting lineup this Sunday, be advised that there are several unfavorable factors working against the Chiefs’ top target. For starters, quarterback Matt Cassel underwent an emergency appendectomy this past week and will likely be held out for Week 14, meaning the inconsistent Brodie Croyle (career QB rating: 70.6) would get the start. In addition, the Chargers currently lead the NFL in pass defense (186.2 yds/gm) and are giving up just 14.0 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (second-fewest in NFL). After watching the Denver Broncos hold Bowe to zero receptions in Week 13, expect Ron Rivera’s defense to show up with a solid plan of attack for one of the game’s top receiving threats.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Minnesota Vikings: The Minnesota tight end has caught more than four passes in a game only one time this season (Week 2 vs. Miami) and hasn’t found the end zone since November 7 (vs. Arizona). Those stats should be enough to seal Shiancoe’s fate as a bench-warmer in Week 14, but if you were still considering the idea of starting this guy on Sunday, keep in mind that the New York Giants are giving up just 5.5 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends this season (fourth-fewest in NFL). There are plenty of better options out there.
Baltimore Ravens, D/ST: The Ravens head to Houston on Monday night to take on a Texans team that ranks seventh in the NFL in total offense (373.0 yds/gm) and 11th in scoring offense (24.0 pts/gm). In addition, Houston has had extra time to prepare for this matchup as their last game was played on Thursday night in Week 13 at Philadelphia. Be advised that the Ravens are 3-3 on the road this season and have given up 23 or more points in two of their last three games away from home.
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh
Win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel.