There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players who you have no idea whether to start or sit.
Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Start 'Em: Quarterbacks
Colin Kaepernick (at Seattle, Sunday night)
It may have come against a weak New England Patriots secondary, but Colin Kaepernick’s arrival on the fantasy scene last weekend was truly a thing of beauty.
I can talk about my expectations of him as a force in fantasy leagues for years to come, but there’s never a more important fantasy game to play than the next one on the schedule, so I’ll leave that conversation for the offseason.
This week will be a major test for the youngster, going up against one of the best defenses in the league and inner-division rival Seattle Seahawks. But I believe he pulls through with QB1 numbers for three reasons.
First, though it looks like Richard Sherman's suspension appeal will be put off yet another week, Seattle will still be without Brandon Browner, one their top two cornerbacks.
Second, their two backup cornerbacks, Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant, were both inactive with hamstring injuries last week and are iffy to play this weekend.
Third, Seattle is one of the toughest teams to run against, so the ‘Niners may be forced to pass the ball more anyway.
Basically, Kaepernick looks good for another QB1 type of day in Week 16.
Andrew Luck (at Kansas City)
Andrew Luck began his rookie fantasy campaign having a tough time putting up starter-worthy numbers on the road.
However, after working out the kinks over the course of the season, he’s performed much better away from Indianapolis of late, averaging 22.7 fantasy points in his last two road games.
This week he’ll travel to Kansas City to face a Chiefs pass defense that actually allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks at home than it does on the road. Overall, the Chiefs allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs, so there’s no reason to think Luck won’t put up some nice numbers here.
The only thing I can see getting in the way of Luck being a QB1 this weekend is if the Colts decide to take advantage of Kansas City’s bottom-tier run defense and run the ball more than usual.
That being said, I highly doubt the Colts’ coaching staff puts the ball in Vick Ballard’s hands over Luck in a playoff-clinching game such as this.
Others with QB1 Potential:
- Tony Romo (vs. NO)
- Matt Schaub (vs. Min)
- Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Cin)
- Matthew Stafford (vs. Atl, Saturday night)
QB2 & SLEEPER POSSIBILITIES
- Russell Wilson (vs. SF, Sunday night)
- Eli Manning (at Bal)
- Sam Bradford (at TB)
- Joe Flacco (vs. NYG)
- Josh Freeman (vs. StL)
- Nick Foles (vs. Was)
Start 'Em: Running Backs
DeMarco Murray (vs. New Orleans)
Murray has a touchdown in all three games since returning from his foot injury in Week 13 and appears to be gaining strength and confidence with each passing week.
He has the sixth-most fantasy points in that span as well and should be given a hefty number of chances to put up a bunch more this weekend.
New Orleans has allowed the second-highest yards per carry (5.0), the most rushing yards and the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. But the ultimate reason Murray will do well this Sunday is because the Cowboys will use him extensively to control the clock and keep Drew Brees off the field.
Knowshon Moreno (vs. Cleveland)
Since regaining the starting job due to Willis McGahee’s season-ending injury, Knowshon Moreno has been playing like a man possessed. Because he’s been a relative non-factor the last year and a half, some people may have forgotten that Moreno was not only a first-round pick back in 2009, but also the first running back taken in that draft.
Basically, the kid has skills, but he hasn’t necessarily shown them since he entered the league—at least until now.
Moreno has received 20 or more carries and at least 24 touches in each of the Broncos' last four games, a trend I see continuing this weekend against Cleveland.
He also has more than 100 yards and a touchdown in each of the last two games, numbers I can see happening again as well on Sunday.
The Browns' defense has been dominant on occasion this season, but their rush D definitely hasn’t been of late, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs over the last three weeks.
Once Peyton Manning gets his team out to a lead—which should be early—I expect the Moreno show to take over for the rest of the game.
- Doug Martin (vs. StL)
- Alfred Morris (at Phi)
- Stevan Ridley (at Jax)
- Jamaal Charles (vs. Ind)
- Matt Forte (at Ari)
- Reggie Bush (vs. Buf)
- C.J. Spiller (at Mia)
- Darren McFadden (at Car)
RB2 & SLEEPER POSSIBILITIES
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at Pit)
- Trent Richardson (at Den)
- Vick Ballard (at KC)
- Darren Sproles (at Dal)
- Chris Johnson (at GB)
- Jacquizz Rodgers (at Det, Saturday night)
- Joique Bell (vs. Atl, Saturday night)
Start 'Em: Wide Receivers
Steve Smith (vs. Oakland)
It took awhile for him to get going this year, but now that Cam Newton has re-established his dominance in the league, Steve Smith is back amongst the top-10 fantasy receivers to watch for each week.
This Sunday will be no different with Smitty and the Panthers playing at home against a bottom-tier Oakland Raiders defense.
The Raiders have allowed at least one receiver to put up double-digit fantasy points against them in 12 of 14 games this season, so the chances of Smith coming up with high-end numbers in this one are pretty good.
Smith has actually put up the fifth-most fantasy points for wide receivers over the last three weeks, a trend I can easily see continuing into your fantasy championship game.
Randall Cobb (vs. Tennessee)
Randall Cobb put up his second straight game with 100 receiving yards last weekend in a win against the Chicago Bears. In fact, the 115 yards he accumulated was the highest receiving game of his career thus far, though I expect him to break that mark sometime in the near future.
With Jordy Nelson unlikely to return this week, Cobb should play the part of Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy once again as the Packers continue to fight for a first-round playoff bye.
The Titans' defense has gotten progressively better, but almost every receiver whose talent is anywhere near Cobb’s has put up double-digit fantasy points against this pass D.
To make you feel even stronger about Cobb's prospects this weekend, Percy Harvin scored 23.6 fantasy points in Tennessee’s matchup with Minnesota. In fact, the top three scoring games against the Titans this year all came from receivers from the NFC North (Harvin, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall).
Not a bad pattern for Cobb to follow, eh?
- Dez Bryant (vs. NO)
- Vincent Jackson (vs. StL)
- Wes Welker (at Jax)
- Roddy White (at Det, Saturday night)
- Cecil Shorts (vs. NE)
- Danny Amendola (at TB)
- Eric Decker (vs. Cle)
- Miles Austin (vs. NO)
- T.Y. Hilton (at KC)
WR2 & SLEEPER POSSIBILITIES
- Michael Crabtree (at Sea, Sunday night)
- Brandon Lloyd (at Jax)
- Stevie Johnson (at Mia)
- Antonio Brown (vs. Cin)
- James Jones (vs. Ten)
- Anquan Boldin (vs. NYG)
- Mike Williams (vs. StL)
- Riley Cooper (vs. Was)
- Brandon Gibson (at TB)
- Rod Streater (at Car)
- Alshon Jeffery (at Ari)
Start 'Em: Tight Ends
Heath Miller (vs. Cincinnati)
When Ben Roethlisberger stated early in the year that he wanted to get Heath Miller into the Pro Bowl this season, he wasn’t kidding.
Not only is Miller tied for the second-most touchdown catches for tight ends in 2012, but he also has the fourth-most yards, fifth-most receptions and, most importantly, the fourth-most fantasy points.
He’s been the second-best tight end over the last three weeks (behind Aaron Hernandez), and with the way Big Ben is targeting him, I doubt his string of top-notch games ends here.
Earlier this season, Heath put up 53 yards and a touchdown on six catches against these Bengals, numbers he could easily hit again this Sunday.
Greg Olsen (vs. Oakland)
There was a general consensus throughout the world of fantasy that Greg Olsen would put up better numbers this season than he did in his first for Carolina. But I didn’t expect him to be fifth in the league in fantasy points after 15 weeks.
His talent was undeniable as a first-round pick in 2007, and now it seems his skills are finally coming to the forefront within this Carolina Panthers offense.
He’s certainly been an up-and-down starter this fantasy season, putting up just as many duds as week-winners. But it looks like he has a good chance of being a worthwhile play here in Week 16.
Olsen has been on a bit of a roll lately, putting up three double-digit fantasy performances and grabbing four touchdowns in his last six games. So with the Oakland Raiders allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, you might want to think about getting Olsen in your lineup.
- Dennis Pitta (vs. NYG)
- Owen Daniels (vs. Min)
- Brent Celek (vs. Was)
- Jermichael Finley (vs. Ten)
- Kyle Rudolph (at Hou)
- Dallas Clark (vs. StL)
TE2 & SLEEPER POSSIBILITIES
- Antonio Gates (at NYJ)
- Brandon Myers (at Car)
- Tony Scheffler (vs. Atl, Saturday night)
- Ben Watson (at Den)
- Lance Kendricks (at TB)
- Marcedes Lewis (vs. NE)
- Jeff Cumberland (vs. SD)
- Dwayne Allen (at KC)
Sit 'Em: Quarterbacks
Carson Palmer (at Carolina)
Palmer hasn’t been a bad fantasy quarterback this season. In fact, he has done slightly better than I thought he would. He normally tallies somewhere in the mid-level fantasy-point range. But every few weeks he leaves you stranded and puts up a dud.
This will be one of those weeks.
The Raiders committed to using QB Terrell Pryor on some third-down and red-zone plays this week, so Palmer’s upside was already capped. But when you add in that the Panthers have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season, you realize you simply have to sit Palmer this week.
Andy Dalton (at Pittsburgh)
Dalton has been a nice surprise thus far. He ranks 10th in fantasy points for quarterbacks this season. However, he’d be ranked a bit higher if not for a couple of stinkers he put up early in the season.
One of those games was against the Steelers when he tossed up one touchdown, one interception and just 105 yards.
In fact, if you were to add up the fantasy points from the three career games he’s played against Pittsburgh, the total (26.9) wouldn’t be enough to have been the high score in any single week this entire season.
In short, sit him.
Other QB Sit 'Ems:
Philip Rivers (at NYJ)
Jay Cutler (at Ari)
Sit 'Em: Running Backs
Beanie Wells (vs. Chicago)
The three touchdowns Beanie Wells put up last weekend against Detroit were amazing. But to expect anything even close to that against the Bears would be foolhardy at best.
Could he grab another touchdown or run for 60 to 70 yards? Sure. But if you’re in the fantasy championship at this point, you likely had better options than Wells to get you here.
David Wilson (at Baltimore)
I still believe David Wilson has a nice future. But with the Giants gearing up for the playoffs, they simply can’t afford the rookie growing pains Wilson is obviously still experiencing.
Besides, it looks like Ahmad Bradshaw has rested/healed up enough to get back into game action. So Wilson likely won’t see much more than 5-10 touches this week anyway.
Other RB Sit 'Ems:
Steven Jackson (at TB)
DeAngelo Williams (vs. Oak)
Bryce Brown (vs. Was)
Sit 'Em: Wide Receivers
Danario Alexander (at New York Jets)
I’m going to make this one real simple.
First, with Malcom Floyd out for the season, it's possible Alexander sees some double-team action during these last two games.
Second, ignore that last comment, because he’ll likely be shadowed by one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Antonio Cromartie, all day anyway.
Third, the Jets have allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Fourth, the Jets haven’t given up a touchdown pass since Week 12.
Sidney Rice (vs. San Francisco, Sunday night)
Rice has been a relatively dependable fantasy receiver since around the sixth week of the season, but it seems the injury bug has caught up to him once again as he’ll likely be a game-time decision this Sunday night with a balky knee.
It’s a good bet he’ll play, but at less than full speed. Against a monstrous 49ers defense, you should look elsewhere for your flex/WR3 position this weekend.
Other WR Sit 'Ems:
Josh Gordon (at Den)
Kenny Britt (at GB)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Chi)
Denarius Moore (at Car)
Sit 'Em: Tight Ends
Jermaine Gresham (at Pittsburgh)
In five career games against Pittsburgh, Gresham has a grand total of 12 catches for 90 yards and one touchdown.
The Steelers also happen to have held tight ends to the fourth-fewest fantasy points this year.
Need I say more?
Martellus Bennett (at Baltimore)
Bennett has had six start-worthy fantasy games this season, which isn’t that bad.
However, none came against the Giants’ 2012 out-of-conference divisional foes—the AFC North—and Baltimore might be the best of 'em seeing how it is tied for the fewest touchdowns allowed to tight ends in the league this year.
Other TE Sit 'Ems:
Vernon Davis (at Sea, Sunday night)
Scott Chandler (at Mia)
NFL injury report.
For rankings at every position: Pyro® Rankings
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