If you’re still reading this and you’ve clinched a playoff spot, congrats! If you’ve got one week left to fight for a playoff spot, let’s go get it! If you’re out of contention and still reading, I appreciate it! As for me, I’ve made the playoffs in three leagues, and am in contention for a playoff spot in my three other leagues, so I guess I should consider myself lucky that I have no teams that crapped the bed this year.
Let’s do this!
Note: “Comfortables” can be started in all leagues. “Cautions” may be started in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in 14-team leagues, but might be bench considerations for 10-team leagues or lower. “Casualties” shouldn’t be started in any leagues.
Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Comfortables: Ben Tate, Maurice Jones-Drew, Andre Johnson, Cecil Shorts, Houston Defense
Cautions: Case Keenum, Chad Henne, DeAndre Hopkins, Garrett Graham, Jacksonville Defense
Casualties: Dennis Johnson, All Jaguars Offensive Players Except Henne, MJD and Shorts
Because this is a Thursday Night game and neither team sets the world on fire offensively, play it conservative here and roll with the studs only.
Prediction: Jacksonville wins to bring their record to 4-1 in their last five.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers
Comfortables: Steven Jackson, Eddie Lacy, Roddy White, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Green Bay Defense
Cautions: Matt Ryan, Matt Flynn, Harry Douglas, Jarrett Boykin, Atlanta Defense
Casualties: Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, James Starks, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick
I love the Packer D here as a dome team like the Falcons has to travel to the frozen tundra. You have to downgrade Matt Ryan for this. As for Falcons you can comfortably start, Steven Jackson and Roddy White have come on as of late, and Gonzo is always a red zone threat. For the Pack, I think Lacy will bounce back from last week’s poor performance, considering the Falcons gave up more than 150 yards to Bobby Rainey and got shredded by BOTH Spiller and Jackson last week. Nelson and Jones haven’t found the end zone lately, but you figure it’s bound to be about time.
Prediction: Pack rolls at home.
Oakland Raiders vs. New York Jets
Comfortables: Oakland Defense, New York Jets Defense
Cautions: Matt McGloin, Rashad Jennings, Darren McFadden (if active), Chris Ivory, Rod Streater, Denarius Moore (if active), Andre Holmes (if Moore is inactive)
Casualties: All Jets Offensive Players Not Named Ivory, Marcel Reese, Mychal Rivera
The only great part of the Raiders offense is the run game, but the Jets D shuts down the run, so you can’t start Jennings or McFadden with confidence. The Jets can be burned with the pass, but it’s tough to figure out if Streater, Moore, or Holmes will go off. Other than Ivory, I can’t imagine ANYBODY from the Jets you’d wanna trust your playoff spot with. Start the Ds and be done with it.
Prediction: Seriously, somebody might win this game 3-2. I’ll say it’s Oakland.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Baltimore Ravens
Comfortables: Adrian Peterson, Torrey Smith, Baltimore Defense
Cautions: Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Cordarelle Patterson, John Carlson, Dennis Pitta (if active), Minnesota Defense
Casualties: All Vikings Offensive Players Not Named Peterson, Patterson, or Carlson; Bernard Pierce; Marlon Brown; Tandon Doss; Jacoby Jones; Dallas Clark
It’s another game where the offenses have left much to be desired. AP and Torrey Smith are studs, and the Ravens D should bottle up either Ponder or Cassel, depending on who starts. I don’t know if you can trust Ray Rice, but I wouldn’t blame you for taking a shot with him.
Prediction: Ravens continue their hot streak at home.
Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Comfortables: Ben Roetlisberger, Lamar Miller, Le’Veon Bell (if active), Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, Miami Defense, Pittsburgh Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Jonathan Dwyer (if Bell is inactive), Brian Hartline, Emmanuel Sanders, Charles Clay
Casualties: Mike Gillisle, Jonathan Dwyer (if Bell is active), Felix Jones, Rishard Matthews, Jerricho Cotchery, Marcus Wheaton
Mike Wallace has been hot lately, and he’s playing his old team. I foresee big things for him. Lamar Miller has the backfield to himself and got 20+ touches last week, but that was against a stout Jets run defense. Pittsburgh’s is good, but not as good as the Jets, so I feel comfortable rolling with Miller and banking on a goal-line TD to go with the yardage. If Le’Veon Bell can play, start him. I also like Heath Miller for those who stream tight ends.
Prediction: Big Ben throws, throws, throws, and the Steelers pull out the win.
Cleveland Browns vs. New England Patriots
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Shane Vereen, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, New England Defense
Cautions: Jason Campbell (if active), LeGarrette Blount, Jordan Cameron
Casualties: All Cleveland Running Backs, Stevan Ridley (if active), Brandon Bolden, Greg Little, Davone Bess, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson (if active), Cleveland Defense
Josh Gordon is unbenchable, but every other Brown is. I’ve given up on Jordan Cameron. You can’t cut him, but you can’t start him either. All starting Pats are in play, but I wouldn’t trust any New England back other than Vereen. If Ridley’s another healthy scratch, you can cut bait.
Prediction: Pats beat down the Browns.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Comfortables: Matthew Stafford, Nick Foles, Reggie Bush, LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper
Cautions: Joique Bell, Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, Zach Ertz, Detroit Defense, Philadelphia Defense
Casualties: Bryce Brown, Kris Durham, Jason Avant, Brent Celek
Can we say shooutout? I hope so! I’m starting both Foles and Stafford in big leagues. Riley Cooper has had two quiet weeks in a row, but I’m willing to roll the dice on him this week. Don’t let Burleson’s donuts last week scare you away. Stafford should be able to find him.
Prediction: Stafford wins the shootout.
Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Comfortables: Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Tim Wright
Cautions: EJ Manuel, Mike Glennon, Bobby Rainey, Buffalo Defense, Tampa Bay Defense
Casualties: Brian Leonard, Marquise Goodwin, TJ Graham, Robert Woods, Taiquan Underwood, Scott Chandler
Jackson and Spiller are both good starts. I also think you can try for Stevie Johsnon, as he’s historically gotten the best of Darelle Revis. I don’t trust Bobby Rainey here.
Prediction: Jackson and Spiller run all over Tampa Bay and the Bills win.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Comfortables: Donald Brown, Giovani Bernard, T.Y. Hilton, AJ Green, Coby Fleener, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Tyler Eifert, Indianapolis Defense
Casualties: Trent Richardson, Darius Heyward-Bey, LaVon Brazill, Mohammad Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins, Jermaine Gresham
I think both QBs struggle in this game, and the ground game will have to save both of them. I don’t expect Adam Vinatieri to have to kick five field goals in this one either.
Prediction: Cincy’s D hold down Luck and company, and the Bengals take it at home.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Washington Redskins
Comfortables: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Alfred Morris, Dwayne Bowe, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed (if active), Kansas City Defense
Cautions: Robert Griffin III, Donnie Avery, Aldrick Robinson
Casualties: Dexter McCluster, Knile Davis, Roy Helu, Darrell Young (if active), Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Anthony Fasano, Shaun McGrath, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
Chiefs are 0-3 after going 9-0, so they will feast on RG3 and the porous Redskins defense. The top 3 offensive options of Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe are startable, and I think the KC defense will right the ship. Hopefully Jordan Reed can play.
Prediction: Chiefs get back on the winning track.
Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning, Chris Johnson, Knowshon Moreno, Kendall Wright, Demariyus Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas (if active)
Cautions: Montee Ball, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Delaine Walker (if active), Jacob Tamme (if Julius Thomas is inactive), Denver Defense
Casualties: Shonn Greene, Andre Caldwell, Tennessee Defense
Ryan Fitzpatrick has quietly been a solid fantasy option over the past few weeks, and Denver’s defense always gives up some points. Just like Reed for the Redskins, I hope Julius Thomas can make this one.
Prediction: Another win for Peyton and crew.
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
Comfortables: Carson Palmer, Zac Stacy, Tavon Austin, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, St. Louis Defense, Arizona Defense
Cautions: Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Ellington (if active), Rob Housler
Casualties: All Rams Offensive Players Except Stacy and Austin, Andre Roberts, Jim Dray
Believe in the Cardinals passing game. Fitzgerald and Floyd are both unbenchable. The run game is another story. I like Mendenhall if Ellington is inactive for a second straight game. Other than Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin, stay away from the Rams offense.
Prediction: Cardinals get back on the winning track.
New York Giants vs. San Diego Chargers
Comfortables: Philip Rivers, Andre Brown, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Victor Cruz, Reuben Randle, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates
Cautions: Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Myers, Ladarius Green, New York Giants Defense, San Diego Defense
Casualties: Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, Ronnie Brown, Eddie Royal (if active), Vincent Brown
The Chargers have historically had the Giants’ number. I like the top options for them here. Both Mathews and Woodhead are good starts. Keenan Allen is a must-start, and Antonio Gates is a good bet for a red zone score. I really like Ledarius Green as well as a super deep sleeper.
Prediction: Chargers, unfortunately.
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, Golden Tate, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, Seattle Defense, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Colin Kaepernick, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller
Casualties: All 49er Backup RBs, Jermaine Kearse, Mario Manningham, Vance MacDonald
Seahawks are a different team on the road, so don’t expect a similar steamroll of the Niners that the Hawks led on the Saints last week. Still, I like all the top starting options for both teams, including the defense, except Kaepernick. If you have a guy like Foles or Palmer or the Bears QB on your squad, I’d take either of them over Kaepernick. I’d definitely try rolling the dice on Crabtree.
Prediction: Seahawks squeak by on the road.
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Comfortables: Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham
Cautions: DeAngelo Williams (if active), Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Marques Colston, Carolina Defense, New Orleans Defense
Casualties: Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Kenny Stills
Saints are undefeated at home this year and the Panthers have won eight straight. Something’s gotta give. I’m worried about the Panthers passing game other than Cam and Olsen. Steve Smith has been quiet, and Ginn and LaFell have been touchdown-reliant to get their fantasy points. Just bank on Newton getting his points, regardless of who catches their passes. It’s also hard to figure out who Drew Brees will get the ball to, other than Jimmy Graham. You know that the QBs will get theirs, and the tight ends will be involved, but everybody else is a crapshoot.
Prediction: Saints stay undefeated at home.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Tony Romo, Josh McCown or Jay Cutler, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Jason Witten
Cautions: Miles Austin, Martellus Bennett
Casualties: Michael Bush, Cole Beasley, Terrence Williams, Dallas Defense, Chicago Defense
Jay Cutler is rumored to come back, but even if he doesn’t, you need to start the Bears QB. I’ve already picked up Cutler in a league where I have McCown, ready to plug in the starter. I expect a lot of offense to be compiled in this game. All the top options are in play.
Prediction: Forte, Marshall, and Jeffery are too much and the Bears win at home.
Good luck in Week 14! Either get that playoff spot or move on (unless you’re playing against me)!