Thursday, December 17, 2009

Week 15 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Adrian Peterson and Andre Johnson, or to bench Kellen Clemens and Marty Booker. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 15.

Watch ‘em roll

Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins vs. Giants. With 820 yards, eight total TDs and 3 INTs over the last three games, Campbell has quietly been producing stellar fantasy numbers. Meanwhile, the Giants have coughed up 23 passing TDs this season, and nearly 300 yards per game over the last four weeks.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos vs. Raiders. Not only will he be facing a team he torched in Week 3 for 90 yards and a TD, but he’ll likely be doing so without competition from the injured Correll Buckhalter. Quinton Ganther just added two more rushing TDs to Oakland’s league-high 20. Imagine what Moreno will do to them.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals at Lions. You’ve held onto him all year for just this moment. The rookie is coming off a dominating performance against a solid 49ers defense and is heading toward one of the NFL’s true softies. Wells has 28 carries to Tim Hightower’s eight over the last two weeks – a trend that should continue Sunday.

Greg Jennings, WR, Packers at Steelers. He’s had a disappointing season, and he dropped a catchable ball in the end zone last week. But Aaron Rodgers is due for a big game against Pittsburgh’s vulnerable secondary that will be playing without Troy Polamalu, so look for a nice outing from both Packers wideouts in this one.

TJ Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seahawks vs. Buccaneers. With Nate Burleson already ruled out of this contest, Housh should see significantly more targets against a secondary that averages just under two passing TDs allowed per game.

More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs Ray Rice, Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones, Laurence Maroney, Jamaal Charles; WRs Smilin’ Miles Austin, Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, Mike Sims-Walker, Derrick Mason, Davone Bess.

Roll ‘em back

Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Redskins. Think twice before inserting the red-hot passer into your starting lineup against a defense that’s giving up just one passing TD per game. Eli probably won’t ruin you (ala Kurt Warner last Monday night), but he’s unlikely to keep pace with the big boys this weekend.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers vs. Packers. If you managed to survive last week despite his dreadful performance against the Browns, don’t risk another meltdown against the Pack on Sunday. It’s nice to know he’s added third-down responsibilities to his repertoire, but Green Bay’s second-ranked run defense is playing with purpose down the stretch. You sure can’t say that about the Steelers these days.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers vs. Vikings. It’s hard to bench your top draft pick, especially during the postseason. But consider that Carolina just lost its second starting tackle, and they’ll be facing one of the NFL’s stingiest run defenses (just three rushing TDs allowed all season). Much like the last two weeks, Williams could be a big disappointment at the worst possible time.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons at Jets. Regardless who lines up at QB this week, he won’t look White’s way often due to the imposing presence of shut-down corner Darrelle Revis. There’s no worse matchup for a No. 1 wideout than the Jets’ top-ranked pass defense, and Revis is the ultimate eraser of fantasy points.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers vs. Vikings. With Matt Moore under center, the aforementioned offensive line problems and a stout Vikings secondary blanketing his every move, the odds are stacked against Smith on Sunday night. Carolina will be lucky to put up 10 points in this mismatch.

More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel; RBs Matt Forte, Marion Barber, Fred Jackson, LeSean McCoy, LT, Cadillac Williams, Jason Snelling; WRs Donnie Avery, Johnny Knox, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne, Chris Chambers, all Raiders.


Arian Foster, RB, Texans at Rams. Just like last week’s flier, Quinton Ganther, Foster offers little more than a sparse resume, a starting assignment and an ultra-favorable matchup. And just like Ganther, he could contribute significantly to a playoff victory – he, too, is a decent receiver – especially if Chris Brown’s and Ryan Moats’ touches are minimized. The undrafted rookie comes with a measure of risk, to be sure; but only Oakland has surrendered more rushing scores than St. Louis. That’s a risk worth taking.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gets himself fired for playing fantasy football at the office. If you haven’t seen yesterday's post, Fidelity Investments recently axed four managers in a Dallas-area branch for that heinous activity. I’ve taken up their cause on the airwaves and via this blog, and I invite you to join me in expressing your displeasure with Fidelity’s unreasonable actions. Meanwhile, beware overzealous corporate party-poopers.


  1. Hi Ladd, need 1 in a ppc ppr league...Reggie Bush, Chester Taylor, Darren Sproles or Tim Hightower. Thoughts?

  2. Ladd,

    In two seperate leagues, first Austin Collie or Harvin (I'm not sure what his status is with the migraines)?

    Second league, should I go with Housh over Megatron?

    Thanks and good luck to you!

  3. Erik,

    Not crazy about any of them, frankly; but I guess you have to go with Bush, who's had the best run lately.

  4. rjfrank,

    Guess you need to go with Collie, since Harvin might sit and you don't want to take that chance.

    Yeah, I'd go with Housh.

  5. Any news on Celek. I had Finely but dropped him to pick up the Texans DEF. Should I go out and try to pick up Finley or another TE again. The other Free agent pickups are Keller or Watson.

    Also with your weekly highlighting QB Campbell to start. Would you chose him over McNabb?

  6. I always read your column at the KC Star, unfortunately I just learned about this column--too late!! I need some help on which receivers to start. Sadly, if I'd have gone to this blog last night I wouldn't have left 12.40 points sitting on my bench (Sims-Walker). Of course, Sims-Walker's recent production (and injury) scared me off. Of my remaining receivers which would you start: (1)Hakeem Nicks; (2) Hines Ward; (3) Robert Meachem; (4) Kevin Walter; or (5) Steven Breaston. I can only start 2 receivers. I've pretty much narrowed it down to three: (1) Nicks; (2) Ward; and (3) Meachem. What's your thoughts?

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  8. KayCee,

    Meachem for sure. Agree it's Nicks or Ward, as well. Not crazy about either this week, so I'd take my chances with the steadier one (Ward).

  9. craig,

    Celek should be fine. Stick with him.

    Yeah, strange as it sounds, I'd take my chances with Campbell over McNabb. Campbell has been hot for 3 straight weeks and faces a very vulnerable Giants secondary. McNabb has been OK, but you saw what the 49ers did to Warner the other night. That scares me a bit.

    On paper, Campbell is the right call this week. Though it would certainly be a tough call to make at such an important time.

  10. Hey Ladd, I've enjoyed your articles for years. Keep up the great work. I agree with your 4th and long article this week on G.Jennings. Jennings should finally (2nd rnd pick Argh!) have a great game provided the weather cooporates. I'm in a 14 team PPR league... Which player would you start this week between D.Mase & B.Celek? (WR 1pt/15yds TE 1pt/10yds) Thanks and GL in the playoffs...