So Martavis Bryant came back down to earth, apparently Mark Sanchez is who we thought he was, and the Lions defense is no longer playing like such an elite unit anymore. Week 11 taught us not to pretend to know what’s going on anymore, but to count on our tried and trues and hope they play to their expectations. It was not the week to trust unknowns (Jonas Gray did most of his yeoman’s work on the fantasy bench), but if you were going to gamble who would have felt comfortable trusting any New England running back? The return of Montee Ball was less than inspirational, and the overall sputtering of the vaunted Denver offense left many fantasy owners scratching their heads and cursing their computer screens. But that was last week, Kansas City already let us down (unless you were a Jamaal Charles owner), Latavius Murray did his best Jonas Gray impression on Thursday night, so what’s next on tap?
It’s time for Setting Your Lineup…
Josh McCown, TB. Remember that stretch he had last year filling in for Mr. Cutler, and how all of Chicago loved him? Prepare to hear the boo birds as Josh McCown comes back to the Windy City. But he’s not coming along. He’s bringing with him Mike Evans, who has been as hot as any receiver the past few weeks, and Vincent Jackson, who has had a bit of a revival of late as well. And he’s got Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the big man who has been pretty active in that offense too. Chances are they will be down early and that benefits McCown and his passing game.
Matt Ryan, ATL. The Falcons finally won on the road, and now they’re back home to face a Cleveland team that was just decimated by Houston. Cleveland’s run defense is bad, but can you really count on Steven Jackson to beat them by himself? I don’t think so. The quarterback needs to step up and get the ball to Roddy White and Julio Jones down the field, and he will. Matt Ryan’s numbers are infinitely better at home, and that will be reflected here.
Shaun Hill, STL. Last week I told you to avoid him, and he actually came to play against the Broncos. What does he have in store for an encore? I think the feisty veteran has plenty left in the tank to take on that porous San Diego defense this week. Look for him to throw early and throw often in this one. If you’re dealing with an underperforming quarterback just grab Hill off waivers and plug him directly into your lineup.
Colin Kaepernick, SF. It’s the Redskins’ defense. Need I say more? Seriously, though, they can’t stop any signal callers from scoring a ton of points on them, and it won’t be any difference against the Forty-Niners this week. The power run game is back, which means play action will be a huge part of the game plan this week for Kaepernick and company. Count on him against the suspect Washington defense.
AVOID: Kyle Orton, BUF. If there’s one thing we know about Kyle Orton it’s that he sure can manage a game — you know, when he’s not turning the ball over. The Jets showed two weeks ago that they can get to the quarterback and disrupt the passing game. I know, small sample size, but I think they ride that wave of momentum (and utilize the rest from the bye week) to keep pressure on Orton all game. That makes for poor fantasy results.
Tre Mason, STL. I watched Mason play last week against Denver, and he just keeps motoring hard on play after play. If he can do that kind of running against arguably a good run defense, imagine what he can do against a poor one like San Diego? As much as I like Shaun Hill in this matchup, I see Mason as his security blanket, and he will also perform well.
Isaiah Crowell, CLE. I loved the rookie receivers last week and this week it’s the rookie running backs’ turn. Like Mason, Crowell runs hard on every play and has an eye for finding holes in the defense. He is now part of a two-headed machine with the release of Ben Tate, and I like his prospects against a poor run defense in Atlanta.
Shane Vereen, NE. You know you also forgot that Vereen was on this team while Jonas Gray was completely destroying the Indianapolis defense all by himself, but this week it’s time to remember his name because that’s the way to beat the Detroit defense, getting the ball out early to a receiving running back out of the backfield. That’s Vereen’s specialty, and he will shine in this game.
Denard Robinson, JAC. You did see what Jonas Gray did to that Colts defense last week, right? Now Denard Robinson gets his chance, and I like his chances. Do I think he’ll get a shade under 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns? No. But I do think he can get at least two scores, which makes him a must-start in all fantasy leagues.
AVOID: Alfred Morris, WAS. That offensive line is in shambles right now, and RGIII isn’t the only one paying the price. Alfred Morris has been stifled lately because of it and can’t be trusted in fantasy as a result. Besides, he’s facing a strong defensive front from San Francisco. If you have better options, go with them this week instead of Morris.
Nate Washington, TEN. He had exactly one catch last week, but he made it count (an 80 yard touchdown bomb), and the Eagles defense gives up the big play (just ask Jordy Nelson), which makes for a good combination, and a possibility for a huge game from Washington.
Andrew Hawkins, CLE. All eyes are on the return of Josh Gordon, and you know that defense will be keyed up to stop him with double coverages, leaving the other side of the field open for Hawkins to roam. Good job if you can get it, and a great benefit to Hawkins, and to fantasy owners of Hawkins.
Marques Colston, NO. With Brandin Cooks out, I think Drew Brees will look to Colston and Kenny Stills to handle the production he had given to the reliable wideout. I don’t think it will be a renaissance, but I do think both receivers will get an uptick in looks and receptions starting this week.
Anquan Boldin, SF. He’s playing against the Washington defense..
AVOID: Michael Floyd, ARI. Floyd has all the tools to do well in that Arizona offense, and he did score two touchdowns last week, but he’s the very definition of boom-or-bust, completely disappearing in games in which he does not score. With Drew Stanton as his quarterback, and playing in Seattle, it’s hard to trust either Floyd or Fitzgerald in this matchup.
Coby Fleener, IND. Coming off a strong effort where he led all fantasy tight ends last week, what does Fleener have up his sleeve for an encore? With Dwayne Allen out again, I think Fleener has a lot more left in the tank, and having caught Luck’s eye, Fleener will get plenty of looks this week. He has the potential for another huge game, and I think he gets it.
Andrew Quarless, GB. This is a high octane offense, and Quarless has gotten his fair share of targets this year. Against Minnesota he should be very useful this week for Aaron Rodgers, especially near the goal line. Get him active.
Delanie Walker, TEN. Walker was out with a concussion last week, but he’s been cleared, and just in time for a showdown with a Philadelphia defense that does give up yardage. Walker is Tennessee’s leading receiver despite missing the game last week. High targets equal fantasy production.
Larry Donnell, NYG. Donnell is heating up again, going over fifty yards with a touchdown last week, and now he faces a Dallas defense that has not been too good against the position. Eli Manning has taken to catching Donnell’s eye near the end zone, and it could easily be back-to-back weeks with a touchdown.
AVOID: Tim Wright, NE. Detroit has actually been very good defending against tight ends, and not so much against wide receivers lately, so look for Edelman and LaFell to thrive while Tim Wright won’t be too involved in the offensive scheme of this game. The Patriots won’t need him in this one so they won’t go to him much, a pattern that has been well established when they play teams like Detroit.
3 BEST BETS
Kickers – Randy Bullock, Matt Bryant, Mike Nugent
D/STs – Philadelphia, St. Louis, Green Bay
Good luck setting your lineups.
The Fantasy Ace