The final week of the fantasy regular season is here, and odds are you already know if you’re in or if you’re out, but for those of you still on the fence and needing to win this week, the key is figuring out who might hold you back. If you have someone like Fred Jackson who you’ve been playing all year, and who has done well for you more often than not, is it understandable to bench him in favor of someone who has the “hot hand” right now, or will it backfire on you? Are you discouraged because Eric Decker just got you the big goose egg, and you’re worried you won’t be able to rely on him this week? There are many questions that could drive you crazy this week if you’re hanging on the fence, but I’m here to help.
In one of my leagues I have this very same dilemma, facing a must-win this week to get into the playoffs, and I really want to win. But I’m not going to freak out and play roulette with my players. My major issue is at wide receiver and at tight end, where my opponent has a clear advantage, so I need to be sure I play the correct players. This is not the time for me to be scouring the waiver wire because I do have players like Anquan Boldin, Dwayne Bowe, and Mike Wallace, guys who have come on of late and could be solid plays this week. But if you’re struggling with players like Ray Rice, Eric Decker, and/or Roddy White, it’s time to give free agents a second look for this final push. Here’s to Walking the Wire…
Matt Flynn @ Detroit – This one is tricky because the Packers’ head coach hasn’t named his starter yet, but based on last week’s game, it should be Flynn, and it shouldn’t even be a question. I think he’s just playing mind games and it will be Flynn. If it is, then he has a tasty matchup against a Detroit defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone. If you’ve been going with Matt Ryan or Andy Dalton, then Flynn is a great pickup-and-play for this week, to help you reach the playoffs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ Indianapolis – I honestly can’t believe I’m touting Fitzpatrick as a solid option, but given the woes of the Indy defense of late, and given Fitzy’s hot hand, it’s really a no-brainer. Again, I wouldn’t count on him for the playoffs, but given this matchup he could get you over the hump and into the playoffs in your league.
AVOID Eli Manning. Yes, it looks like a great matchup against a Washington defense that has been exposed by everyone, but Eli just hasn’t looked… right this season, and you can’t trust him in a must-win situation for your fantasy team.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ San Diego – I would also go with Giovani Bernard in this matchup, but he’s probably not available on the waiver wire, and the Law Firm might be. I think both of them will have good games because Cincinnati will run the ball against that vulnerable San Diego defense. He is definitely a pickup-and-play for this week, and if you can get Bernard too, go for it. Get both active.
Ben Tate @ New England – Moreno just torched this defense, and Tate has the real possibility of doing something similar if given the chance. Don’t doubt him just because Johnson did a better job on the ground last week. Houston needs a running game, and Tate is better than he looked last week. Roll with him this week. If he’s not available on the waiver wire, Johnson will also fit into your fantasy lineup just fine.
AVOID any and all New England running backs. There is too much uncertainty as to who will get the touches and when, because of fumble-itis and because of Belichick.
Nate Burleson vs. Green Bay – Burleson is the real deal, and amazingly enough he is available in a lot of leagues. With Johnson getting double and triple coverage, Burleson gets his looks and makes the most of them. Stafford is glad to see him back, and so am I, picking him up in several leagues last week and playing him in two. He helped me get wins in both of those leagues, and he will help you too if you get a hold of him and get him active against a vulnerable Packer defense.
Michael Crabtree vs. St. Louis – Crabtree is expected back this week, and I thought more people would grab him last week and stash him on their benches. Just looking at the chemistry between Kaepernick and his number 1 wide receiver last season makes me salivate. Honestly, he should be playing right out of the blocks for your team and could be the biggest steal for your fantasy postseason.
AVOID Harry Douglas like the plague this week. Buffalo has been very good against the passing game, and the way Matt Ryan is playing right now it seems like he’s completely lost focus and confidence. It doesn’t help the receivers, and Douglas will have a bad game this week.
John Carlson vs. Chicago – Carlson has stepped up in Kyle Rudolph’s absence, and Ponder has looked his way for two out of the past three games. He has become a security blanket, and you could do a lot worse off the waiver wire looking for solid points from a wide receiver.
Rob Housler @ Philadelphia – Palmer has looked like a legitimate quarterback of late, and I don’t see that changing against a Philadelphia defense that allows points to tight ends. Look for him to continue his streak of 50+ yard games, with a possibility of getting into the end zone for Arizona.
AVOID Heath Miller @ Baltimore. Believe it or not the Ravens do a fine job against tight ends, and they historically have handled Miller even though Pittsburgh has tended to get the better of them.
Good luck getting into your league’s fantasy playoffs!