The 25 Safest Starts for Your Fantasy Football Home Stretch

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2012

The 25 Safest Starts for Your Fantasy Football Home Stretch

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    Every fantasy season begins with a hope and a prayer. We are reasonably sure where some players will wind up when the season is done, but injuries and unexpected performances shift the landscape throughout the season.

    With guys like LeSean McCoy injured and Tony Romo performing poorly, and others like Josh Freeman lighting up opposing defenses, who are you to trust?

    Here are the safest fantasy players for the rest of the season, barring injury of course.

Doug Martin

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    Martin,"Dougie Howser" has a stranglehold on top rookie running back honors this season, single-handedly winning some fantasy matchups with monster games along the way. He is far and away the feature back in Tampa Bay, and he seems to have blown through that rookie wall.

    He will help lead your fantasy team to the promised land.

Matt Ryan

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    Yes, Matt Ryan was put on ice last week by the Arizona Cardinals, throwing five interceptions in what seemed like a tasty matchup.

    That blip aside, Ryan has been a fantasy stud this season. He is still sixth in the league in fantasy scoring, and it's hard to believe he will continue to struggle with the weaponry he has at his disposal.

Percy Harvin

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    He has been sidelined by recent injury, but Percy Harvin should come back with a vengeance this week. His lack of touchdowns has been an issue, but he has been a PPR monster this season.

    Teams have not been able to stop Adrian Peterson despite stacking the box. It is going to be fun to see what Harvin will do to opposing defenses that are keyed on the star running back.

Jimmy Graham

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    Rob Gronkowski is as reliable as they get at tight end, but the T-1000 was taken in for repairs after a forearm malfunction.

    That makes Jimmy Graham the most reliable tight end with Gronkowski sidelined for at least a few weeks. Drew Brees loves to target the big guy, especially in the red zone.

Andrew Luck

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    True, he was just shellacked in New England, but he also put up a nice fantasy line in throwing over 300 yards and for two touchdowns.

    Luck has had success on the ground as well, rushing for five touchdowns. It has helped him be the seventh-best fantasy quarterback this season, just behind Matt Ryan. Considering how much the Colts throw the ball, Luck is a relatively safe option.

Adrian Peterson

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    The Comeback Player of the Year Award and MVP candidate has returned from his bye week after traveling to a distant planet and defeating an evil overlord using his bionic knee.

    He comes back to lay waste to opposing defenses for the remainder of the season.

A.J. Green

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    We have, perhaps, seen the passing of the mantle from Calvin Johnson to A.J. Green as the game's best receiver. How else would you explain Green tying Jerry Rice's record with nine consecutive games with a touchdown catch?

    He could break that record despite playing with Andy Dalton—apologies, but he is no Joe Montana—and a supporting cast that features Brandon Tate.

Tony Gonzalez

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    He has not been quite as consistent as the top two guys, but Tony Gonzalez has put together a masterful season for the Falcons.

    Gonzalez sits at No. 3 on the tight end leaderboard, and there is no reason to believe he will fall off. Ever.

Arian Foster

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    Arian Foster predictably sits atop the fantasy heap at running back, and he has done it with a heavy workload.

    The big Texans back is on pace for 398 carries—a concern for his future endeavors, but not in the short term—which gives him plenty of opportunity to score fantasy points. Ben Tate might be on his way back from injury, but few running backs are safer than Foster.

Brandon Marshall

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    Not even Jason Campbell and the San Francisco defense can keep Brandon Marshall down.

    The mercurial wide receiver displayed some frustrated antics against the 49ers, but he still hauled in a touchdown. Jay Cutler will return soon, making Marshall one of the best fantasy receivers to close out the season.

Drew Brees

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    A perennial power house at quarterback, Brees has not disappointed this year. He edges Robert Griffin III out for the most fantasy points in standard scoring formats, and he will continue to vie for that top spot the rest of the way.

    There are few safer bets in fantasy football.

Trent Richardson

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    Doug Martin might be running away with the title of best rookie running back, but Richardson is not getting lapped. He has been a workhorse for Cleveland as well, and he has been kind to his fantasy owners as a result.

    Richardson checks in at fifth among all running backs in PPR scoring formats, consistently putting up double-digit scores whether he scores a touchdown or not.

Alfred Morris

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    Who would have though we would be talking about a Mike Shanahan running back in this context at this time of year? 

    Shanahanigans were a myth, and Morris has proven it. He isn't flashy, but he gets the job done, both for his team and yours.

Roddy White

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    Julio Jones oozes talent, but he has yet to become the consistent threat his draft counterpart—A.J. Green—has become. Injuries have nagged Jones lately as well.

    That is why White is a safer option. Matt Ryan seems to look for White more than he does Jones, and White has reaped the fantasy benefit.

Aaron Rodgers

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    Last year's MVP had a slow start to his season, but he has been quite good since Week 3.

    Aaron Rodgers has crept up on the leaders and now sits third atop the leaderboard behind Drew Brees and Robert Griffin III. The Discount Double Check's bad days look like any other day at the office for average quarterbacks; he still managed a decent day against the Lions last week despite having a rough time.

Marshawn Lynch

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    There have been few running backs more consistent than Marshawn Lynch in recent weeks. Beast Mode has surpassed 100 yards and scored a touchdown in each of his past three games, and has five such games on the season.

    The Seattle back has the lead back role on lockdown; he is second in the league with 212 carries this season.

Reggie Wayne

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    They said Wayne was too old. They said he was in decline. They said he was nothing without Peyton Manning.

    They were wrong.

    Wayne has had a resurgence with Luck at the helm, leading the league in receptions while being second in yardage and third in PPR scoring. He hasn't scored touchdowns in the past couple of weeks, but they will return.

Robert Griffin III

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    The electrifying Robert Griffin III had slowed down in recent weeks, but he bounced back against the Eagles in a big way.

    RGIII is less than a point behind Drew Brees for the fantasy scoring title in standard scoring formats, and his ability to score points on the ground can overcome any bad passing day. He might not have the great options that some of these other quarterbacks do, but he is his own weapon.

Peyton Manning

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    Back to health, back to MVP form for Peyton Manning this season. While his fastball might have lost a few MPH, his mind seems as sharp as ever.

    If you took a chance on Manning in the middle rounds of your draft, you are reaping quite the reward. He should continue to help you reap them.

Chris Johnson

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    Chris Johnson and "safe" have not exactly gone together in recent years. The dynamic running back has been a bane to fantasy owners, seemingly a shadow of his former self.

    This season began no differently with Johnson stinking up the fantasy realm like New York City on garbage day. Things turned around for him against the stout Texans defense, albeit garbage time had plenty to do with it.

    He has been hot ever since, doing well against good run defenses along the way. It seems like he is back to form, which means he should be safe.

Owen Daniels

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    Quietly, and in one fewer game than most of his peers, Owen Daniels is fourth in fantasy scoring.

    He has had a fantastic season as defenses are forced to key on Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. Daniels figures to continue reaping those benefits and put up solid fantasy performances on a weekly basis. He is not a touchdown machine, but a solid PPR option nonetheless.

Demaryius Thomas

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    Another quietly consistent fantasy stud, Demaryius Thomas is fifth in standard fantasy scoring after 10 weeks. 

    Thomas is a big beneficiary of Peyton Manning's arrival—it is much easier to score fantasy points when half your targets aren't landing at your feet—and he should continue to be a big contributor to your fantasy team through the rest of the season.

Josh Freeman

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    We only have room for 25 here, so this was a bit of a toss-up. Vincent Jackson is every bit as deserving, so he can be included here, but Josh Freeman has been on a week's long tear.

    The Bucs quarterback is third in fantasy scoring over the past six weeks, though opposing defenses have not been in the upper echelon of the NFL. He does get to face Philadelphia, New Orleans and St. Louis to close out the fantasy season, some nice matchups for the playoffs.

Jason Witten

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    A ruptured spleen slowed Witten down to start the season, but he has caught fire as of late.

    The big tight end has caught 40 passes in his past four games and continues to be a favorite target for Tony Romo. He has only scored one touchdown, which makes him a better PPR option than in standard leagues, but he will not likely disappear like many other tight ends tend to do from time to time.

Marques Colston

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    Drew Brees sure makes others around him valuable fantasy assets.

    As long as he is slinging the ball in New Orleans and Marques Colston is healthy, Colston is one of the more consistent fantasy options.