24 Hours 'Til Sunday — Andy Richardson
Posted Dec. 18 at 07:57 PM
Depending on when you're reading this, there are fewer than 12 hours until football starts, with what's sure to be a Saints-Cowboys slugfest tonight. A whole lot of fantasy playoff teams will jump out to huge leads or fall into big deficits based on how Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Marques Colston and Jason Witten, among others, fare tonight.
Or maybe those leads and deficits already exist after Thursday's Colts-Jags shootout. Anybody else have Maurice Jones-Drew in one playoff matchup while facing him in another? Tricky rooting situation. You want him to do well, but not TOO well. Briefly on that game: didn't look like the Colts didn't care about winning, did it? Hope you didn't bench Manning, Clark or Wayne. And I'm feeling OK, for now anyway, about starting any of those guys in week 16, despite a tough matchup with the Jets' pass defense. I think they're all going to play again.
The big issue for this week, next to injuries, is weather. It could be nasty for the Jets-Falcons game at the Meadowlands, and the Ravens-Bears game has already been moved to a 4:15 p.m. start time due to a snowstorm hitting Baltimore on Saturday. San Francisco at Philadelphia should also be dicey. Needless to say, expectations for the passing games in those contests should be ratcheted down. And we haven't even gotten to the fact that this is the cold and flu season, especially in St. Louis. So off we go.....
Cowboys at Saints: Should be lots of passing and not much defense. I'd consider Marion Barber and even Felix Jones here, with New Orleans' run defense having problems right now. I'm a little wary of Pierre Thomas with Dallas pretty good against the run, but for most owners I suppose if you've got him, you use him.
Bears at Ravens: Given the weather and Chicago's run defense being horrible, the Ravens should lead with the run here. They'll also likely be without Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington, so you don't need to worry about wasting a lineup spot on those guys. I like Ray Rice and even Willis McGahee. For Chicago, well, they're going to have to pass to do anything, weather or no. But it's hard to recommend any of their players in this situation. Devin Hester should miss another game, leaving them counting on guys like Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu (who appear to simply be better than Earl Bennett). If the weather isn't horrible, I'd consider some Chicago receivers, because they certainly won't run the ball.
Patriots at Bills: Weather could also be a factor here; it will certainly be cold. I would actually bench Tom Brady against a good Bills pass defense, if I had another quality option. But, I'm using Welker and Moss, because how do you bench those guys? For Buffalo, I was going to rule out everybody, but the Pats might not have Vince Wilfork, which makes things slightly more appealing for Fred Jackson. He was pretty good in this matchup in week 17 a year ago, so you never know.
Cardinals at Lions: It's certainly scary to start Kurt Warner and company after the disaster at San Francisco (some of us were eliminated thanks to that game so it's a moot point), but health permitting, every Cardinal with a pulse has value against this defense. Make sure Larry Fitzgerald is active; he will be, but you know, check Sunday morning, because he does have a little knee sprain. For the Lions, no Matthew Stafford, but Calvin Johnson practiced Friday so he should play. Nice offensive matchup, but make sure banged-up players are active. Despite Frank Gore's big game against Arizona, I would not use a Lions running back (which will be Maurice Morris, for desperate owners). Oh yeah, Neil Rackers won't kick, so don't use him. Mike Nugent gets the start; seldom has a kicker got more jobs without actually being successful anywhere.
Texans at Rams: Swine flu is the storyline here, as if the Rams' season hasn't gone poorly enough. Make sure Steven Jackson is active; the same is true of Brandon Gibson. And surely you don't have to use whichever quarterback gets the call, with Keith Null looking like the favorite. The Rams are sending out deep reserves across the board these days. Love Houston's passing game and defense. I'd consider Arian Foster, who's most likely to get the most work at tailback.
Dolphins at Titans: Big game for the AFC wildcard picture. Hopefully another big game for Chris Johnson, who knocked me out of the playoffs in one league last week; hopefully he'll help me advance in a league this week. Lot of respect for the Dolphins, though; maybe they can figure out a way to keep the ball out of his hands. Vince Young should play. I don't like Ricky Williams against Tennessee's defense, but again, most owners probably don't have better options at this point. I wouldn't want to use any wideouts in this game.
Browns at Kansas City: Anybody who thought they'd be starting Chris Jennings or Jamaal Charles in a playoff matchup -- and happy about it -- raise your hand. The truth is, though, that these are two bad defenses and (most likely) a pair of essentially full-time running backs (Charles is certain, Jennings probably so). I made a trade in a league about six weeks back, Miles Austin for Charles, and both of us made the playoffs and could meet in the finals next week, in large part because of both of us getting the starter we needed while giving up a backup we didn't. See, trading can be a great thing. Dwayne Bowe is back and likely starting; I'd probably use him.
Falcons at Jets: Doesn't seem like the Falcons are going to use Matt Ryan or Michael Turner this week. Doesn't seem like YOU should use anyone connected with the Falcons against what's been the league's best defense over the past few weeks. Plus there's the weather issue; remember the 8-0 Browns-Bills game a couple of years back? Don't rule that out, especially with the Jets not giving up anything right now even in clear weather. I considered making the Jets my suicide pool pick and probably should have, but they don't score a ton themselves, so you never know if a kick return or something is going to beat you. Mark Sanchez will start, but again, this should be a Thomas Jones showcase, primarily.
49ers at Eagles: Impressive game by the 49ers the other night. They've got to be lamenting a couple of tough losses early right now (although they have only themselves to blame for a loss to Seattle recently that really scotched their playoff chances). No Jeremy Maclin. No Brian Westbrook. Can't sit Frank Gore after his huge game last week; the Eagles defense isn't THAT good. Worrisome spot for Alex Smith, but I'd use Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree anyway. And if you even consider benching DeSean Jackson I'll reach through the Internet and shake you by your lapels, saying, "Why, man/woman? WHY????????" Weather is a concern, ruling out marginal receivers like Reggie Brown or Josh Morgan.
Raiders at Broncos: I went with the Broncos as my suicide pool pick. I know the Raiders have won a couple of games in this series recently, but 1) I've seen Charlie Frye play, and 2) the Broncos have a defense this season. I wouldn't use any Raiders this week, not even Zach Miller (who suffered a concussion last week and may not play anyway). For the Broncos, Correll Buckhalter won't play, so it's a great week to get Knowshon Moreno into a lineup. And that Brandon Marshall guy is pretty good too.
Bengals at Chargers: I suspect the reason most of us are saddened when a guy like Chris Henry dies suddenly is not only because he was far too young, and not because he was somehow better than a lot of others who die tragically who didn't happen to be really talented at playing football. It's because we like to believe that people who made mistakes in their lives, repeatedly in some cases, can overcome them and atone for them. By all accounts Henry had put his troubles behind him, although apparently he still had one more mistake to make. And it's sad, for him and his family and his teammates, and to those of us who like to see success stories rather than ones that end abruptly. Anyway, I don't know how the Bengals go out and play a game this week, but year after year, like Washington with Sean Taylor, players and teams do. On the field, it's a pretty big game between two pretty good teams. The Chargers are better and they're home, which will probably make the difference, but it could be a pretty good, 24-21 kind of battle.
Packers at Steelers: Somebody's gonna beat the Packers again this season, right? Right? Yes, and probably here. There won't be much running in this game, so both teams should manage some yards and points via the pass. (Although I'll be keeping an eye on the weather reports for this one Sunday morning, too.) As long as the weather isn't horrible, I'd certainly use Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger and the various receivers, all of whom will be playing. And I bet both teams get a bunch of sacks this week.
Bucs at Seahawks: A strong candidate for the suicide pool, but who wants to bet on the Seahawks? I do like both of their running backs against a lousy Bucs defense; straight committee according to Jim Mora on Friday. I like Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow against a lousy Seahawks pass defense. No Nate Burleson, so somebody somewhere will dust off the overrated Deion Branch and throw him into a lineup -- maybe even me in a league where I've been using Jeremy Maclin as my No. 3. And in fairness, Branch will be the best No. 2 receiver in this game, which is something.
Vikings at Panthers: I don't really want to use Brett Favre or Sidney Rice against Carolina's very good pass defense, but what are you gonna do? My other options are worse, so I just have to hope they beat the trends and be like they've been most of the season. If I had Adrian Peterson, however, I'd be really really happy to have him in this matchup. And a Vikings win and Eagles loss in either this or next week's game means the Vikings will have nothing to play for at Chicago next Monday, so don't count on having Viking stars available for that game. Some receiver questions for the Vikings, but the guess is that Sidney Rice, though sick, will play, and that Percy Harvin, who practiced Friday, will also be available (barring a migraine-related setback). Jonathan Stewart should also be fine to play, but it's a bad matchup for the running game. I do like Steve Smith this week; maybe he can reward those of us who drafted him in every league with a good game.
Giants at Washington: Word is Washington plans to hire Mike Shanahan as their next head coach. Presumably they'll get around to firing Jim Zorn before they do so. I agonized a long time before leaving Devin Thomas on the bench (in favor of Austin Collie, who fortunately scored on Thursday). He's a good play, my gut just said to use Collie. Jason Campbell should also be good, although I guess I'm still just waiting for the Giants to come out and play like champions and shut down Washington. I'd go ahead and use any Giants players, even with Washington playing better, and I wouldn't want to put Quinton Ganther up against New York's run defense (which is better than its pass defense). I suspect I'll have a matchup coming down to facing Jason Campbell, however, so it figures to be another late night for me. I'll have the eggnog and Christmas cookies and construction paper fireplace a-burnin'. (Well, with construction paper flames, anyway.)
Enjoy the games.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Dec. 18 at 11:36 PM
Andy: This is probably a moot question since I'm playing a team with Peyton (28 pts already), AP, CJ. V-Jax, V.Davis and AZ D (@DET). Standard scoring league. QB: Schaub @ STL or McNabb vs. SF; RB: D-Will vs. MIN, Benson @ SD, F-Jax vs. NE; TE: Shockey vs. DAL or H. Miller vs. GB. Obviously, I'm gonna need all the points I can get. I'm leaning toward Schaub @ QB and Miller @ TE but I really don't know who to start @ RB. D-Will (bad matchup and suspect O-line), CedBen (average matchup, but you never know how Cincy reacts to Henry's death), F-Jax (has played well vs. NE in the past). I'm also starting Moss, Colston, Bironas and TEN D. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Posted by Marco Tavares | Dec. 19 at 12:11 AM
Because of the Weather in Philly, do you Start Jason Witten over Vernon Davis?
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Dec. 19 at 12:45 AM
If it's a PPR league, I probably use Witten over Davis; otherwise I gamble on Davis scoring like he does every week or so and use him. Peter, I'd rank your running backs Benson, Williams and F-Jax. Personally. San Diego's run D is just OK, and Benson's the full-timer there. Schaub and Miller, too. Good luck.
Posted by RICK ADELSTEIN | Dec. 19 at 01:00 AM
Andy would you start Justin Forsett, Felix Jones or Matt Forte? Thanks!-- Rick
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Dec. 19 at 01:05 AM
I would start Forsett. Assuming it's PPR, you can make a case for Forte, but I'd rather use the guy who will get half the work against a really bad run defense.
Posted by Russell Ditnes | Dec. 19 at 04:34 AM
Need 2 of 3 backs: A.Foster, Ganther, Mendenhall. Since I start Rodgers at QB, should I factor in not only GB's run D and the weather, but also the time-of-possession that Rodgers/Mendenhall will share? I know you guys have Rashard ranked relatively high, but the combo of the Rammies and the Giants' recent awful D have me leaning toward starting both rookies; can't even believe I just wrote that.
Posted by RICK ADELSTEIN | Dec. 19 at 05:04 AM
Hey Andy, one more question. In a yardadge league, which WR is the best option (in order)? Greg Jennings, Derek Mason, Steve Smith (NYG). Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Dec. 19 at 05:14 AM
Russell, I'm not personally a big fan of Ganther this week. Giants run D has been OK. I'd bench him, and I wouldn't worry about also using Rodgers. Rick, I'd probably use Jennings unless the weather looks really awful in Pittsburgh tomorrow, in which case I'd probably go with Smith. Ian has Smith highest.
Posted by RICK ADELSTEIN | Dec. 19 at 06:05 AM
Andy- What about Mason?
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Dec. 19 at 06:27 AM
He'd be third. It's not a bad matchup but I worry about the weather and the fact Baltimore can and will be able to emphasize the run. On the flipside, he's their only healthy wideout. I guess it's mostly the weather that has me wary of Baltimore's passing game. Just my opinion.
Posted by Jered Ottenwess | Dec. 19 at 07:51 AM
The National Weather Service forecasts clear skies for much of the northeast Sunday, including Philly, Bmore, and Buffalo. Wind may be an issue in Philly and Bmore, where they're forecasting 14-17 mph winds. It'll be cold in Buffalo, around 28. I'm not going to change course with guys because of weather this weekend (except maybe David Akers kicking in the wind). Look what that would've done in the NE-TEN blowout.
Add a Comment
Already a registered user? Please sign in to add comments.
To add comments, you must become a registered user of our site. To register, please click here.