Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Week 16 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Kept his surprising emergence in play with 365 yards and 4 TDs though the air, without a turnover.
Drew Brees, Saints – Passed for 412 yards and 3 TDs without a blemish.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars – He tossed 2 INTs, but his 368-yard, 4-TD performance made up for them.

Tim Hightower, Saints – Rushed for 122 yards and 2 TDs, and caught 3 passes for 47 yards.
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers – Rumbled for 100 yards and 2 TDs, and added 53 yards on 6 catches.
Frank Gore, Colts – Ran for 85 yards and 2 TDs, and added 10 yards on 2 catches.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings – Rushed for 89 yards and 2 TDs.

Brandon Marshall, Jets – Reeled in 8 passes for 115 yards and 2 TDs.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars – Caught 8 balls for 106 yards and 2 TDs.
Julio Jones, Falcons – Blitzed the Panthers with 9 receptions for 178 yards and a TD.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Took 6 passes 151 yards, including a 90-yard TD.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans – Caught 7 passes for 117 yards and a score.
Brandin Cooks, Saints – Amassed 123 yards and a TD on 5 balls.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Collected 8 passes for 118 yards and a TD.

Jordan Reed, Redskins – Pulled down 9 passes for 129 yards and 2 TDs.

Cardinals – Generated 9 sacks, 1 INT, 3 fumbles and 2 TDs on fumble recoveries, while holding the Packers to 8 points.
Texans – Amassed 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 fumble recoveries and a TD on a fumble recovery while holding the Titans to 6 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Tossed 2 INTs with 0 TDs and just 215 yards.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Passed for 179 yards and ran for 67, but didn’t score and tossed an INT.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Passed for 329 yards and an INT without a score. Added 28 yards as a rusher.
Eli Manning, Giants – His 3 INTs offset his 1 TD, while he passed for 234 yards.

Antonio Andrews, Titans – Ran for a whopping 1 yard, and lost a fumble.
James Starks, Packers – Ran for 11 yards and also lost a fumble.
Christine Michael, Seahawks – Rushed for 6 yards and had 14 yards on 2 catches.

Martavis Bryant, Steelers – Disappeared along with his QB, finishing with a 6-yard reception.
Ted Ginn, Panthers – Just a 9-yarder on the day.
Amari Cooper, Raiders - Just 10 yards on 2 catches.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Left Miami with 15 yards on 2 receptions.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Held to 15 yards on 3 receptions.
Brandon LaFell, Patriots – Disappointed again with a 19-yarder on the day.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – Limited to 19 yards on 4 receptions.
Travis Benjamin, Browns – Only 20 yards on 2 catches.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers – Went 27 yards with 5 passes.
Tavon Austin, Rams – Had 12 rushing and 16 receiving yards.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – Just 33 yards through the air.
Marvin Jones, Bengals – Same for him.

Richard Rodgers, Packers – Just a 2-yarder on the day.
Ben Watson, Saints – His QB passed for 412 yards, yet he accounted for just 5 of them.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – Only 11 yards on 2 receptions.
Jason Witten, Cowboys – Caught a 12-yarder.
Julius Thomas, Jaguars – Took 2 passes to get to 12 yards.

Will Tye, Giants – Only 28 yards on 3 receptions.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Late-season heroes become spoilers

Week 16 was most notable for its upsets, from the screeching halt of Carolina’s drive for perfection to the Patriots’ bungled handling of the overtime coin toss. Somehow, the Ravens mustered their divisional-rival powers to ground Pittsburgh’s passing attack while the Rams knocked the surging Seahawks offense off-stride for the first time since Week 10.

And while the Cardinals’ ninth consecutive victory wasn’t a surprise, the way they humiliated the Packers’ offense sure was.

Each of these unexpected outcomes yielded disappointing fantasy results for many of the players that had propelled their owners to the championship round.

Fantasy MVP candidate Cam Newton salvaged an otherwise poor outing with a rushing touchdown, but left Ted Ginn holding a big bag of nothing.

Ben Roethlisberger and Martavis Bryant were title-week duds, while Antonio Brown merely mortal.

Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin got off to slow starts, but eventually rewarded their nervous owners with some scoring. But neither was the dominant force we had seen in recent weeks.

Aaron Rodgers never had a chance to hit his receivers while laying on his back the entire game, and Tom Brady looked out of sync without two of his three most reliable receivers.

The upshot of all this high-profile mediocrity is that some of the most confident (perhaps cocky) owners heading into the weekend spent their Sunday cursing the same players that had carried them to brink of glory.

And because every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, their opponents are celebrating today. But many are tipping their hats to the fantasy gods, knowing full well they dodged a bullet with “Cam” or “Big Ben” etched into its side.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. At this point, your season should be over. But if your postseason extends to Week 17, here’s a player worth considering, and another who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets. Still available in nearly half of all leagues, Fitzpatrick just keeps feeding the ball to his talented wideouts and racking up consistently solid performances. With a playoff berth on the line next weekend at Buffalo, he should be at the top of his game.

Don’t be fooled

Vance McDonald, TE, 49ers. He has scored in three of his last five games, thanks to a steady rapport with Blaine Gabbert and the absence of Vernon Davis. Yet in the two games prior to Sunday, McDonald totaled just three receptions for 28 yards. Surely you have a better option in Week 17.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday morning updates -- Week 16

Well, this is it, Fools. Championship Sunday! How awesome is that? (And yet sad, too, as it's all over after today -- for the vast majority of us -- until next August.) A long and fantasy-less offseason awaits.

But that's a problem for another day. Today we become champions! Let's get to work!

First off, I hope you are heading into Sunday's action with Jordan Reed in your lineup. Wow...what a game from him! If you're playing against Reed (or Kirk Cousins, for that matter), we've got some serious work to do...

Drew Brees is expected to play in spite of his painful foot (plantar fasciitis), but there's definitely reason for concern. Brees is an unusually sturdy athlete, so you normally don't worry much about injuries with him. But he heads into this one hobbling; so if you have a safer option with upside, you might want to consider it.

Brees will also be without Marques Colston (chest), who has been Mr. Reliable for him near the goal-line lately; but Ben Watson will play.

Brian Hoyer will sit out with his concussion, putting DeAndre Hopkins' fate in Brandon Weeden's sketchy hands. You have to start Hopkins under most circumstances, but...yuck.

As if Baltimore wasn't already sucking enough, they'll be giving Ryan Mallett an audition at QB today. My enthusiasm for Kamar Aiken just took a big hit.

Steven Jackson is active for the Patriots today. How crazy is that? Knowing Belichick, well, anything can happen. But I wouldn't start anyone from that backfield except James White, and then only in PPR leagues.

Jonathan Stewart will be inactive for another week -- he's basically resting up for the playoffs -- but I wouldn't trust any of his backups in his place. Cam rushed for 100 yards last week, for crying out loud.

Andre Ellington (toe) is expected to suit up today, but that wouldn't concern me if I owned the ultra-hot David Johnson. The rookie is on a tear and his coaches won't let Ellington screw that up.

Bad news out of Chicago: Alshon Jeffery is expected to sit out due to his bum hammy. Make other plans if he's your guy. (Eddie Royal should play, but I wouldn't risk him in my title-game lineup.)

Dez Bryant has also been ruled out, which just makes your decision to bench him that much easier.

Vincent Jackson will be inactive as well.

Tyler Eifert will sit another game due to his concussion.

And a couple of weather notes, which could impact the passing and -- more important -- kicking games today: Buffalo has an 80% chance of rain and high winds. It will also be cold in KC with winds in the 20-30 mph range. Kickers for the Bills, Cowboys, Chiefs and Browns are going into these games with strikes against them.

Okay, that's it for now. Inactives and other late-breaking news coming next via Twitter.

Good luck to all title-bound Fools! I'm proud of you!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Week 16 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Cam Newton and Antonio Brown, or to bench DeMarco Murray and Dwayne Bowe? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 16 of the 2015 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars at Saints. If this game plays out as it looks on paper, it should be an aerial showcase. No team has given up more than the Saints’ 39 passing TDs, and Bortles is one of five QBs to have tossed more than 30 scoring passes this season. He and his talented receiving corps should have a field day matching wits with Drew Brees & Co.

Karlos Williams, RB, Bills vs. Cowboys. With LeSean McCoy out, Williams should be the lead horse in a backfield committee with Mike Gillislee. Dallas’ run defense has softened up over the last few games, and Williams’ shoulder injury did not hinder his play in last week’s return to the field.

James White, RB, Patriots at Jets. Don’t count on much from the Patriots’ ground game against New York’s staunch run defense, but White should be extremely busy as a receiver out of the backfield. With Patriots wideouts dropping like flies, White and Gronkowski will be Tom Brady’s most reliable targets on the field.

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks vs. Rams. Doug Baldwin is grabbing all the headlines, but Lockett has turned in three excellent games in his counterpart’s shadow. The rookie is developing a nice rapport with Russell Wilson, and he should continue to excel against a St. Louis pass defense that has fallen apart over the past several weeks. If Baldwin sits with his bum hammy, Lockett’s stock will soar even higher.

Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens vs. Steelers. It’s strange to think of this rivalry turning into a high-flying affair, but given the sorry state of both pass defenses, that’s what it’s come to. Aiken has taken advantage of his role as the only reliable receiver remaining in Baltimore, despite some sketchy quarterback play. Pittsburgh’s pass defense is downright awful, making Aiken a great bet for another stellar outing.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins; RBs David Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Denard Robinson, Charcandrick West, Bilal Powell, Lamar Miller, Tim Hightower, Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Christine Michael, Todd Gurley; WRs Ted Ginn, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Jeremy Maclin, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Martavis Bryant, Sammy Watkins, John Brown, Reuben Randle, T.Y. Hilton, Randall Cobb, Golden Tate, DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker.

Roll ‘em back

Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Vikings. Manning has been on a tear over the last two weeks, even finding great success against the vaunted Carolina defense. But he’ll go into this contest without Odell Beckham, Jr., the playmaker who stretches the field for all the other receivers. The difference should be dramatic.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals at Broncos. Though their secondary crumbled against the Steelers last week, Denver’s run defense held their own against DeAngelo Williams. But with A.J. McCarron at the controls, Hill and Giovani Bernard won’t have the benefit of a prolific passer to open up their running lanes.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers at Cardinals. After last weekend’s disaster against the Raiders, the red flags are flying for Lacy as he heads to the dessert to face one of the league’s stingiest run defenses. With James Starks stealing touches and John Kuhn poaching goal-line plunges, Lacy’s prospects are dim, especially given his tender ribs.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions vs. 49ers. Part of me thinks you’d be a bonehead to sit Megatron, but the other part looks at his two receptions for 35 yards over the last two games and says you’d be crazy to play him. His ankle is clearly not right, he’s been limited in practice again and it very well could be another week of decoy work for Johnson.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns at Chiefs. Cleveland’s schedule isn’t doing Johnny Manziel any favors, with the Chiefs’ stout defense getting the next crack at the young quarterback. Benjamin is suffering as a result, with three poor performances in a row. It won’t get any better in Kansas City.

More thumbs down: QBs Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor, Brock Osweiler, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs Buck Allen, Isaiah Crowell, Ronnie Hillman, Matt Jones, C.J. Spiller, Brandon Bolden, Duke Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Antonio Andrews, Jerick McKinnon, Giovani Bernard; WRs Tavon Austin, Dorial Green-Beckham, Brandon LaFell, Marvin Jones, DeVante Parker, Davante Adams, Rishard Matthews.


Nate Washington, WR, Texans at Titans. Washington’s production has suffered since Cecil Shorts returned to the field, but Shorts will miss this game due to a groin injury suffered in Week 15. The Titans are coughing up passing yards and TDs in huge chunks, so don’t be surprised if Washington prospers thanks to all the attention paid to DeAndre Hopkins.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches A.J. Green against the Broncos. Green is talented enough, and big enough, to overcome McCarron’s shortcomings, even in a tough, Mile High matchup. Sure, he could disappoint – as he did last week – but he could also dazzle, as he did in Week 14. Unless you’re loaded at WR, Green belongs in your title game lineup.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 15 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Cam Newton, Panthers – Got the best of the Giants with 340 yards and 5 passing TDs, plus 100 rushing yards. We’ll forgive the fumble.
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings – Out of nowhere, passed for 231 yards and 4 TDs, and added 17 rushing yards and a 5th TD.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Passed for 319 yards and 4 TDs, and ran in another TD.
Eli Manning, Giants – Held his own against the mighty Panthers, passing for 245 yards and 4 TDs, with an INT.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Another stellar outing with 249 yards and 3 TDs, plus 46 rushing yards, without a blemish.
Brock Osweiler, Broncos – Passed for 296 yards and 3 TDs with an INT, plus 19 rushing yards and another TD.
Drew Brees, Saints – Accumulated 341 yards and 3 TDs through the air, plus 11 as a rusher, without a blemish.
Matt Stafford, Lions – Passed for 254 yards and 3 TDs, without a turnover, on Monday night.

Danny Woodhead, Chargers – Ran for 10 yards and a TD, and added 6 receptions for 50 yards and 3 more TDs.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Rushed for 187 yards and a TD trifecta, and added 42 receiving yards on 4 catches.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Bounced back with 56 yards and a TD on the ground and 7 receptions for 45 yards.
Matt Forte, Bears – Rushed for 47 yards and caught 6 passes for 57 yards and a TD.

Antonio Brown, Steelers – Amassed a ridiculous 16 passes for 189 yards and 2 TDs.
Amari Cooper, Raiders – Caught 6 passes for 120 yards and 2 TDs.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Pulled down 10 passes for 181 yards and a TD.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Hauled in 5 receptions for 61 yards and 2 TDs.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Scored twice on 4 receptions for 45 yards.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Reeled in 5 balls for 111 yards and 2 TDs.
Ted Ginn, Panthers – Did it again, scoring twice on 6 receptions for 85 yards, though he dropped another potential TD (of course).
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – Caught 3 passes for 55 yards and 2 TDs.
Julio Jones, Falcons – Grabbed 9 passes for 118 yards and a score.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles – Rebounded with 159 yards and a TD on 8 receptions.
Tavon Austin, Rams – Scored twice while rushing for 32 yards and catching 3 passes for 41 yards.
Brandin Cooks, Saints – His 10 receptions were good for 124 yards and a TD.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins – Caught 6 passes for 153 yards and a score.
Golden Tate, Lions – Turned 6 passes into 45 yards and a pair of TDs.
Kamar Aiken, Ravens – Nabbed 8 passes for 128 yards and a Hail Mary TD.

Jordan Reed, Redskins – Pulled down 7 passes for 84 yards and 2 TDs.
Delaney Walker, Titans – Made the most of his 2 receptions, with 64 yards and 2 TDs.

Chiefs – Collected 2 sacks, 2 INTs and a fumble recovery, and scored 2 TDs on turnovers.

This was a great week to play against…

DeMarco Murray, Eagles – Managed just 3 yards running in the dog house.
Chris Ivory, Jets – Picked up just 37 rushing yards, and a 5-yard reception.
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Finished with 23 yards.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins – Had 12 yards both as a rusher and receiver.
Darren Sproles, Eagles – Held to 9 rushing and 16 receiving yards.
Ryan Mathews, Eagles – Also held in check, with 58 rushing and 3 receiving yards, plus a fumble.
C.J. Spiller, Saints – Totaled just 18 yards on the ground and through the air.
Javorius Allen, Ravens – Only 18 rushing yards, and no catches, before being benched after a fumble.
Matt Jones, Redskins – Combined for just 36 yards.
Shaun Draughn, 49ers – Ran for 38 yards before leaving with an injury.
LeSean McCoy, Bills – Picked up 29 rushing yards and an 8-yard pass before being lost with a knee injury.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers – Ran for only 41 yards and caught a 6-yard pass.
James Starks, Packers – Ran for 51 yards, caught a 5-yarder and lost a fumble.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Combined for just 30 total yards.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos – Picked up just 48 yards on the ground, and lost a fumble.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Rushed for 63 yards while injuring his ankle.

Danny Amendola, Patriots – Lost a fumble after catching a 3-yarder and injuring his knee.
Calvin Johnson, Lions – Against the pathetic Saints, managed only a 19-yard catch.
Travis Benjamin, Browns – Only 26 yards on 3 balls.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Just 29 yards on 3 receptions.
A.J. Green, Bengals – Held to a 37-yard catch.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars – Had 44 yards on 2 receptions.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Limited to 40 yards on 5 balls, which was 8 more yards than Davante Adams.
Mike Wallace, Vikings – His QB had a career day but he wound up with just 37 yards.

Richard Rodgers, Packers – Caught a 7-yarder.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Only 21 yards on 2 balls.

Monday, December 21, 2015

SuperCam, DangeRuss blaze a path to fantasy glory

Seattle clinched a playoff spot on Sunday, while Carolina continued its unlikely march toward perfection. Along the way, their quarterbacks are carrying countless fantasy teams to the Promised Land by playing at a consistently – even ridiculously – high level.

In my leagues, three-fourths of the teams that advanced to this weekend’s championship games are led by either Newton or Wilson. I suspect those two are common denominators in the vast majority of fantasy leagues, along with Antonio Brown and two receivers that are rapidly shedding the “underachiever” label that has followed them throughout their careers: Doug Baldwin and Ted Ginn.

With Odell Beckham, Jr., likely facing a one-game suspension for his immature actions in Sunday’s showdown with Josh Norman, is there a wideout you’d rather take into the finale than Brown, Baldwin or Ginn?

With history at stake, those relying on the Panthers may not even need to worry that the team will bench their stars in games with little or no meaning. Meanwhile, the 9-5 Seahawks won’t be slowing down, either.

Over the next few days, we’ll start getting hints about which teams may be looking beyond Week 16 to the postseason or, in many cases, to the 2016 draft. If you’re still in the title hunt, your starting decisions may be tougher than usual this weekend.

It beats not playing at all!


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup during the postseason.

Catch ‘em while you can

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins. Don’t look now, but Washington appears to have found its quarterback of the future. Cousins has topped the 300-yard passing threshold in three of his last four games, and has scored multiple TDs – with a little help from his legs – in five of his last eight. With two sketchy defenses on tap, even going on the road doesn’t set off the alarms anymore on Cousins.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks. Seattle’s offense revolves around Wilson and Baldwin now; but even with their top two backs sidelined, they still know how to run the ball. Michael has come full circle back to the team that drafted him, and looked strong rushing for 84 yards against the Browns.

Karlos Williams, RB, Bills. Mike Gillislie provided the highlight-reel play after LeSean McCoy went down with a painful knee injury, but Williams is still the primary backup when healthy. Williams rushed for 41 yards on just four carries Sunday against the Redskins, and is presumably the back to grab if McCoy can’t return.

Don’t be fooled

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings. Where has that been all season? The second-year quarterback was nearly flawless while accounting for five touchdowns – and he wasn’t even facing the Saints. Unfortunately, it was only Bridgewater’s third multi-touchdown game all season. Despite the favorable matchup in Week 15, he can’t be trusted.

Steven Jackson, RB, Patriots. It’s been a long time since the 32-year-old rumbler has been fantasy-relevant; but other than possibly Seattle, it’s hard to imagine a better place for Jackson to land so late in the season. Still, there’s no way you’d risk him in your starting lineup in his first game action since 2014. Right?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday morning updates -- Week 15

Good morning, Fools. If you're here, you must be in the playoffs, and that means it's a great day.

I am still alive in one league (you know what happened in the other), and I'm off to a decent start with Todd Gurley on my side and Doug Martin and Brandon Marshall already in the clubhouse for the bad guys. It's 15-21 in a PPR league, so I'm hoping for a good day from my boys, capped off by Brees and Watson tomorrow night.

Let's take our weekly stroll around the NFL to see what we need to know...

If you were worried about Tom Brady and his illness, don't be. He'll suck it up and probably play better than ever. He's a proud, competitive man, and nothing motivates him more than proving he can do something that others think he can't.

He won't have Julian Edelman back yet, but he should be fine with Gronk, Amendola, James White and the others.

T.J. Yeldon will not play today, leaving the backfield to Denard Robinson. I like his chances a lot against the soft Falcons defense.

Andre Ellington almost certainly won't return today, giving David Johnson another opportunity to soar for the Cards.

It looks like Spencer Ware (ribs) may suit up, but I wouldn't expect him to poach much of Charcandrick West's workload. West remains a solid start against the Ravens.

It will be interesting to see how the rushing touches are divvied up for Seattle. Bryce Brown and Christine Michael are expected to share the early-down work, with Fred Jackson remaining in his third-down, change-of-pace role. All are risky plays, so hopefully you have better opions.

There's some concern over Calvin Johnson (ankle), who didn't practice on Saturday. The Lions play on Monday night, so you'll presumably need to commit early on him. Megatron has a history of missing games where he's a game-time decision, and he's also disappeared at times (see last week). It's hard to envision him, even at 75% effectiveness, not torching the Saints. So you want him in your lineup if he plays. Just keep an eye out and have a Plan B (Marques Colston should be available).

FYI, I'm heading off to late service at church around 10:45 CT so I won't be able to answer questions via Twitter as usual. Sorry about that. Send them as early as possible and I'll do my best to get back to you.

Good luck, Fools!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week 15 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Russell Wilson and Brandon Marshall, or to bench C.J. Spiller and Terrance Williams? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 15 of the 2015 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions at Saints. Every QB excels when they play against the Saints except, apparently, Jameis Winston. Stafford is a high-volume passer even against good secondaries, partly because the Lions can’t run worth a darn. Expect Calvin Johnson to play a much bigger role in the Monday nighter as well.

Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars vs. Falcons. All indications are that T.J. Yeldon will miss this game with a knee injury, giving Robinson an opportunity to reprise his role as Jacksonville’s dual-threat workhorse. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s run defense has imploded.

Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs at Ravens. West should resume his workhorse duties Sunday with Spencer Ware likely out with a painful rib injury. Baltimore’s run defense is solid, and it stiffens up around the goal line; but West should benefit from a heavy workload and support from the Chiefs’ much-improved passing game.

John Brown, WR, Cardinals at Eagles. You probably don’t own Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on the same team. But all three are start-worthy in the Sunday night affair. The Eagles secondary has become exceedingly generous and Carson Palmer will use his Jedi powers to take advantage. It’s impossible to tell which wideout will soar the highest in any given week, but none belong on your bench.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars vs. Falcons. Blake Bortles is on a tear and he’s making fantasy studs out of his receivers. Hurns, who returned from his concussion with a bang last week, benefits from the attention paid to his counterpart, Allen Robinson. Atlanta’s pass defense caved in against the Panthers last week and it could get worse on Sunday.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Carson Palmer, Blake Bortles, Drew Brees; RBs Matt Forte, David Johnson, Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Tim Hightower, Eddie Lacy, Brandon Bolden, Jeremy Hill; WRs Allen Robinson, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin, Danny Amendola, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Sammy Watkins, Alshon Jeffery, T.Y. Hilton, Eric Decker, Jarvis Landry.

Roll ‘em back

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers vs. Broncos. The force is strong with this one. But last week’s substandard performance against the Bengals makes it easier to bench Big Ben against the Darth Vader of NFL defenses. Pittsburgh’s aerial attack is explosive, but Cincinnati just proved that it can be held in check. 

Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys vs. Jets. The Jets’ league-best run defense has allowed just one TD to an opposing rusher all season long. McFadden has notched just three as a Cowboy. He won’t get his fourth on Saturday night in the Death Star, and he will be lucky to amass 50 rushing yards in this matchup.

Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens vs. Chiefs. The talented rookie was shut down by the Seahawks last week. Or was it Jimmy Clausen’s ineptitude? Fair question. Matt Schaub is pressing to return this weekend, but Allen’s upside will still be limited by a tough Chiefs defense.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders vs. Packers. The rookie was blanked last week by the Broncos, and now he’ll face a Packers secondary that has been playing nearly as well of late. Cooper still has game-breaking ability, but he’s been dealing with a foot injury and has been held out of the end zone since Week 9. Michael Crabtree is an equally risky start this weekend.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys vs. Jets. If your league awards fantasy points for sideline tirades, Bryant should be in your lineup. Otherwise, with Matt Cassel under center, you can’t count on much during Bryant’s three-hour tour of Revis Island.

More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Derek Carr, Sam Bradford; RBs Melvin Gordon, Isaiah Crowell, Rashad Jennings, Ameer Abdullah, Bryce Brown, Antonio Andrews, Shaun Draughn, Alfred Morris, C.J. Anderson, Joique Bell; WRs Nate Washington, Davante Adams, Donte Moncrief, Stefon Diggs, Malcom Floyd, Dorial Green-Beckham, Torrey Smith, Markus Wheaton, Jordan Matthews, Reuben Randle, Marques Colston, DeVante Parker, Travis Benjamin, Kamar Aiken, DeSean Jackson, Rishard Matthews.


Ted Ginn, WR, Panthers at Giants. Other than Doug Baldwin, no wideout has more touchdown receptions over the last two weeks. Yet he’s only owned in about half of all leagues. The reason, of course, is that he is just as likely to lay a goose egg as he is to catch a 70-yard bomb in any given contest. But when he’s facing a New York defense that coughs up an NFL-worst 308 net passing yards per game, even Ginn seems worth the risk.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…waits till Sunday morning to make adjustments to your starting lineups. The NFL is throwing us another curveball with the Jets-Cowboys tilt on Saturday night. Take a break from shopping and make sure you’re starting your Jets. Feel free to give your Cowboys the night off.