Fantasy Football Week 15 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
You have made it to fantasy football's semifinals, so clearly you know how to set your lineup by now. You can never get enough help on those fringe decisions, though.
Generally, you don't want to be too bold with your lineups in crunch time, but we suggest you sit some fantasy football first-rounders this week, namely Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. This is Bleacher Report's weekly Saturday edition of Start 'Em, Sit 'Em in a six-part, position-by-position slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Mike Shanahan Is Turning to Kirk Cousins, but You Shouldn't Here
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Here is how funny fantasy football can be: Not only is Foles a revelation, but he also might be the single reason you win your semifinal matchup. He is coming off a disappointing week, but he heads to a climate-controlled dome and faces a defense that has been the second-worst in fantasy against quarterbacks and the third-worst pass defense. This is Chip Kelly's first game coaching indoors on a fast track. Look out.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
As disappointing as this year has been for the Falcons and Ryan owners, it stands to finish with a bang. The Washington Redskins have been the fifth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks and the sixth-worst against the pass. It helps that this game is indoors, too. Having Roddy White productive again is a huge thing for Ryan owners. He is a must-start option in all leagues.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
You don't win unless you take chances. That is Marc Trestman's motto, apparently. The Bears offensive guru has benched the red-hot Josh McCown for Cutler (ankle, groin), giving Cutler fantasy owners a chance at all those points McCown put up last week. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are the best receiving duo in fantasy right now, so roll the dice on Cutler putting up 250 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns in wintry conditions.
We saw how much snow can make for huge fantasy scores a week ago. When the white stuff falls, the fantasy points accumulate in a flurry (puns entirely intended).
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Don't expect any late-season magic out of Cousins here, no matter how much Mike Shanahan is looking for a "told you so" performance. Cousins just doesn't have the receivers to score enough fantasy points to prove useful in standard leagues, even if the Falcons are a bottom-10 team against quarterbacks.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Have these been the most obvious fantasy decisions of the year? Bench all quarterbacks against the Seattle Seahawks defense, and bench this Manning in any matchup. This is a lame-duck team with an error-prone quarterback, playing behind a putrid offensive line and facing the best secondary in football. Yuck!
Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns
The Chicago Bears don't play defense like they did when Charles Tillman was healthy and Lovie Smith was the coach, but you just cannot trust what you have seen from Campbell and the Browns. Sure, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are must-start fantasy stars, but Campbell is just as likely to go 10-of-25 with 149 yards passing as he is to post a monster week like he did against the New England Patriots a week ago.
Do not ride this hot hand in such a pivotal week. You have a better option outside of two-quarterback formats.
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||vs. SD||1||0|
|2||Drew Brees||NO||at StL||2||0|
|3||Matthew Stafford||Det||vs. Bal||5||+2|
|4||Philip Rivers||SD||at Den||6||+2|
|5||Russell Wilson||Sea||at NYG||8||+3|
|6||Cam Newton||Car||vs. NYJ||4||-2|
|7||Tom Brady||NE||at Mia||11||+4|
|8||Tony Romo||Dal||vs. GB||7||-1|
|9||Andrew Luck||Ind||vs. Hou||9||0|
|10||Nick Foles||Phi||at Min||3||-7|
|11||Matt Ryan||Atl||vs. Was||10||-1|
|12||Jay Cutler||Chi||at Cle||12||0|
|13||Colin Kaepernick||SF||at TB||15||+2|
|14||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||vs. Cin||13||-1|
|15||Andy Dalton||Cin||at Pit||19||+4|
|16||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Det||18||+2|
|17||Alex Smith||KC||at Oak||14||-3|
|18||Carson Palmer||Ari||at Ten||22||+4|
|19||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. NE||16||-3|
|20||Kirk Cousins||Was||at Atl||20||0|
|21||Jason Campbell||Cle||vs. Chi||17||-4|
|22||Matt Flynn||GB||at Dal||25||+3|
|23||EJ Manuel||Buf||at Jac||26||+3|
|24||Eli Manning||NYG||vs. Sea||30||+6|
|25||Case Keenum||Hou||at Ind||24||-1|
|26||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Ten||vs. Ari||27||+1|
|27||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. SF||32||+5|
|28||Kellen Clemens||StL||vs. NO||35||+7|
|29||Chad Henne||Jac||vs. Buf||33||+4|
|30||Matt Cassel||Min||vs. Phi||28||-2|
|31||Matt McGloin||Oak||vs. KC||29||-2|
|32||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Car||37||+5|
Running Backs: It's an Odd Week with Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice Listed as 'Sits'
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) remains out, so the Packers figure to feature Lacy and the run game heavily, even if Lacy is struggling with an ankle issue. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lacy said he felt "a lot better" on Friday than he did in the second half last week, so you should like Lacy for at least 60 yards and a touchdown.
The Dallas Cowboys have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and have been dead last in fantasy against running backs.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
He has looked like he's closer to retirement than fantasy lineups for the most of this season, but he has been a solid fantasy contributor for the past three weeks. His best is yet to come. The Redskins are the second-worst team in fantasy against running backs, giving up a league-worst 17 rushing touchdowns. Jackson finds the end zone at least once in this one.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns
With Willis McGahee (concussion) ruled out, the Browns will likely turn to Ogbonnaya as their primary ball-carrier, with Fozzy Whittaker filling in behind him. The Browns don't run the ball well—fifth-worst in football—but the Bears have the worst run defense in football and are the third-worst team in fantasy against running backs. They have allowed a 100-yard rusher for six consecutive weeks, and if not for 95 yards by Alfred Morris in Week 7, it would have been every game since New Orleans in Week 5!
Ogbonnaya won't reach that total perhaps, but he will be a factor in the passing game and will hit double digits in fantasy points.
Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
Say what you want about Mendenhall and Ellington's timeshare, but they have both been good enough to rank among the top 28 running backs in standard leagues this season. They should be at their combined best against a Tennessee Titans defense that has allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy running backs this season. Both Cards backs rank among the top 30 options this week.
Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
This is another frustrating duo for fantasy owners, but this is a week where both Thomas (ankle) and Miller (concussion) can get enough touches to hit double-digit fantasy points. The New England Patriots are the second-worst rush defense in football, and the Dolphins have to pound the ball at them if they are to pull off this upset. Thomas is the better of the two plays here, as he does the goal-line work, but you can use Miller as a Hail Mary too.
Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart and Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings
It isn’t the matchup here that should scare you. It is the shaky status of Peterson (foot) and Gerhart (hamstring). You cannot be sure which ones will be active at this point or how long they can prove effective. The guess here is none of this trio proves to be good for any more than a mere five fantasy points. Avoid them all.
Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, New York Jets
The Jets had a bounce back game last week against the Oakland Raiders, but we should all expect them to go right back in the tank against the Carolina Panthers defense coming off a stinging loss, especially at home. Ivory has been decent in good matchups but bad in tough ones (35 yards against the Baltimore Ravens and 11 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals).
The Panthers are better than both, with the best run defense in football and No. 3 in fantasy against running backs. Don't trust the Jets.
DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
On the other side of the field, don't expect the Panthers to muster much on the ground, either. Sure, Jonathan Stewart (knee) is out of the way, but the Jets have the second-best run defense in football and are No. 2 in fantasy against backs. You didn't get to your fantasy semifinals riding these two guys out, so don't bother with them this week.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We have to admit we were dead wrong about calling Rainey a sit last week. But we have even more merit to label him as such all over again. The San Francisco 49ers are a top-10 team against the run and in a must-win situation. Expect them to load the box to take away Rainey to the tune of 15 carries for 45 yards. If that is enough to get you by in the fantasy semifinals, by all means, use him. It should be.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
This one hurts. You cannot start you first-round pick in your most important week of the season, the one that can get you to the Super Bowl. If you have come this far, you know it is not because of Rice at this point. You can do without him, especially against the sixth-best run defense in football in the Lions. They have given up just 99.3 yards per game, and that is after the Eagles freezer-burned them for almost 300 in the snow last week.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Oak||1||0|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at Min||2||0|
|3||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. SD||7||+4|
|4||Matt Forte||Chi||at Cle||3||-1|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at NYG||5||0|
|6||Eddie Lacy||GB||at Dal||6||0|
|7||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. GB||4||-3|
|8||Shane Vereen||NE||at Mia||10||+2|
|9||Frank Gore||SF||at TB||15||+6|
|10||Zac Stacy||StL||vs. NO||8||-2|
|11||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at Jac||22||+11|
|12||Alfred Morris||Was||at Atl||9||-3|
|13||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. Ari||23||+10|
|14||Reggie Bush||Det||vs. Bal||16||+2|
|15||Steven Jackson||Atl||vs. Was||14||-1|
|16||Ben Tate||Hou||at Ind||11||-5|
|17||Ray Rice||Bal||at Det||26||+9|
|18||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||vs. Cin||13||-5|
|19||Andre Brown||NYG||vs. Sea||12||-7|
|20||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Pit||19||-1|
|21||Darren Sproles||NO||at StL||38||+17|
|22||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at Ten||30||+8|
|23||Rashad Jennings||Oak||vs. KC||20||-3|
|24||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Den||18||-6|
|25||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. NE||42||+17|
|26||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Chi||31||+5|
|27||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Den||28||+1|
|28||Andre Ellington||Ari||at Ten||35||+7|
|29||Bobby Rainey||TB||vs. SF||17||-12|
|30||Chris Ivory||NYJ||at Car||40||+10|
|31||Montee Ball||Den||vs. SD||27||-4|
|32||Stevan Ridley||NE||at Mia||41||+9|
|33||Donald Brown||Ind||vs. Hou||32||-1|
|34||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Pit||34||0|
|35||Fred Jackson||Buf||at Jac||24||-11|
|36||Jordan Todman||Jac||vs. Buf||36||0|
|37||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. NE||37||0|
|38||Toby Gerhart||Min||vs. Phi||21||-17|
|39||Joique Bell||Det||vs. Bal||33||-6|
|40||Trent Richardson||Ind||vs. Hou||47||+7|
|41||Pierre Thomas||NO||at StL||25||-16|
|42||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Mia||50||+8|
|43||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. NYJ||43||0|
|44||Mike Tolbert||Car||vs. NYJ||49||+5|
|45||Matt Asiata||Min||vs. Phi||52||+7|
|46||Bryce Brown||Phi||at Min||59||+13|
|47||Marcel Reece||Oak||vs. KC||46||-1|
|48||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Det||60||+12|
|49||Kendall Hunter||SF||at TB||66||+17|
|50||Robert Turbin||Sea||at NYG||63||+13|
|51||James Starks||GB||at Dal||44||-7|
|52||Knile Davis||KC||at Oak||69||+17|
|53||Shonn Greene||Ten||vs. Ari||53||0|
|54||Roy Helu||Was||at Atl||56||+2|
|55||Benny Cunningham||StL||vs. NO||57||+2|
|56||Dennis Johnson||Hou||at Ind||61||+5|
|57||Peyton Hillis||NYG||vs. Sea||58||+1|
|58||Brandon Bolden||NE||at Mia||65||+7|
|59||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Car||51||-8|
|60||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. Was||55||-5|
|61||Mark Ingram||NO||at StL||54||-7|
|62||Michael Bush||Chi||at Cle||62||0|
|63||Brian Leonard||TB||vs. SF||72||+9|
Wide Receivers: Avoid Your Giants Like the Plague Versus the 'Legion of Boom'
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
It might not have looked like it in the Philly snow last week, but the Detroit Lions are good against the run and suspect against the pass. It should be closer to the season norms this week in the dome. Detroit has been the third-worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, so we should fully expect Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith to hook up for at least one touchdown in this one. Start Smith in all leagues.
Jordy Nelson and James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) is not riding in on a white horse, but the Dallas Cowboys defense has been a huge black eye. The unit is dead last against the pass. Jarrett Boykin might even prove to be a factor. Regardless, you should feel good about starting the Packers' primary two targets, even if Matt Flynn is limited in the passing game. The Cowboys are just that bad defensively.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
If there has been something as fool-proof as starting players against the Cowboys, it is starting players against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are third-worst against the pass and fifth-worst against fantasy wideouts. DeSean Jackson is a weekly must-start in all leagues, but Cooper is Nick Foles' secondary option who is a nice fringe play in three-receiver (or flex) formats.
Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
Tom Brady has lost Rob Gronkowski (knee), so he has to turn to someone. We figure it will be Amendola, who has done his best work when Gronk has been out, including a touchdown late last week after Gronk went down. Edelman has already proven consistent week to week, but we would start both underneath receivers.
The matchup against the third-best team in fantasy against wide receivers shouldn't scare you. This is Brady in a game to clinch the division and assume the pole position in the AFC.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
He hasn't hit even 70 yards in a game all season, but we're going to go on a limb and say he will be good for 100 yards and a touchdown. The New York Jets are in the bottom 10 against the pass and fantasy wide receivers, so expect the oldest starting receiver in the NFL to come through in crunch time for you with his best week of the season.
If you thought your Giants receivers have been disappointing, just wait until you see what the Legion of Boom has for them this week. The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a loss and are a victory and a 49ers loss away from clinching the NFC West and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Expect their best performance. Even the steady Cruz is a sit in this awful matchup.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
We wouldn't dare tell you to sit Larry Fitzgerald, but Floyd is a fairly easy one to warn you off of. Not only are the Tennessee Titans the second-best team in fantasy against wide receivers, but Floyd will be playing on a gimpy ankle. He is already coming off a mere two catches for 26 yards last week. The injury, matchup and recent performance all make Floyd an easy sit.
T.Y. Hilton, Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts
There are a myriad of reasons to be skeptical of Andrew Luck's bunch. You cannot trust the rookie Rogers coming off his breakthrough week in a loose game against the Bengals, while Brazill is dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of practice all week. Hilton has been a bum of late, and DHB has always been a bum. Not only can you not be sure where the production is going to be had, but the Houston Texans also have the second-best pass defense and are No. 4 in fantasy against wideouts.
Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Damian Williams and Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
Not only is Wright (shoulder and ankle) banged up, this rag-tag bunch is difficult to predict week to week. Our prediction here is they will all prove unworthy of a fantasy lineup spot in crunch time against a Cardinals defense that has been No. 5 in fantasy against wide receivers.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright, Minnesota Vikings
Matt Cassel looked like a world-beater late in the fourth quarter of a sloppy game against the Ravens, but you cannot count on these guys, even if they are facing the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers in the Eagles. We say if you play anyone, it is Jennings, but even he is outside the top 30 options on our board below.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Josh Gordon||Cle||vs. Chi||2||+1|
|2||Calvin Johnson||Det||vs. Bal||1||-1|
|3||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. GB||3||0|
|4||A.J. Green||Cin||at Pit||6||+2|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Den||vs. SD||7||+2|
|6||Antonio Brown||Pit||vs. Cin||10||+4|
|7||Brandon Marshall||Chi||at Cle||4||-3|
|8||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||at Ten||17||+9|
|9||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||at Cle||5||-4|
|10||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at Min||9||-1|
|11||Eric Decker||Den||vs. SD||11||0|
|12||Andre Johnson||Hou||at Ind||8||-4|
|13||Marques Colston||NO||at StL||20||+7|
|14||Roddy White||Atl||vs. Was||14||0|
|15||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Det||16||+1|
|16||Jordy Nelson||GB||at Dal||13||-3|
|17||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. SF||18||+1|
|18||Keenan Allen||SD||at Den||12||-6|
|19||Dwayne Bowe||KC||at Oak||24||+5|
|20||Julian Edelman||NE||at Mia||21||+1|
|21||Anquan Boldin||SF||at TB||30||+9|
|22||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. NE||25||+3|
|23||Steve Johnson||Buf||at Jac||31||+8|
|24||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Atl||15||-9|
|25||Steve Smith||Car||vs. NYJ||26||+1|
|26||Danny Amendola||NE||at Mia||40||+14|
|27||Victor Cruz||NYG||vs. Sea||27||0|
|28||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. Ari||37||+9|
|29||Riley Cooper||Phi||at Min||19||-10|
|30||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. NE||29||-1|
|31||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. Was||23||-8|
|32||James Jones||GB||at Dal||34||+2|
|33||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Phi||39||+6|
|34||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. Sea||47||+13|
|35||Michael Floyd||Ari||at Ten||33||-2|
|36||Michael Crabtree||SF||at TB||36||0|
|37||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||vs. Hou||28||-9|
|38||Ace Sanders||Jac||vs. Buf||44||+6|
|39||Cecil Shorts||Jac||vs. Buf||22||-17|
|40||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at Ind||45||+5|
|41||Miles Austin||Dal||vs. GB||69||+28|
|42||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. Sea||56||+14|
|43||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at Mia||58||+15|
|44||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Pit||79||+35|
|45||Dexter McCluster||KC||at Oak||66||+21|
|46||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||vs. Cin||41||-5|
|47||Golden Tate||Sea||at NYG||38||-9|
|48||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. KC||32||-16|
|49||Cordarrelle Patterson||Min||vs. Phi||35||-14|
|50||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Det||51||+1|
|51||Mike Brown||Jac||vs. Buf||73||+22|
|52||Brandon LaFell||Car||vs. NYJ||43||-9|
|53||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at NYG||46||-7|
|54||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. Ari||54||0|
|55||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. NO||59||+4|
|56||Lavon Brazill||Ind||vs. Hou||71||+15|
|57||Andre Holmes||Oak||vs. KC||50||-7|
|58||Santonio Holmes||NYJ||at Car||75||+17|
|59||Jarrett Boykin||GB||at Dal||42||-17|
|60||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Pit||65||+5|
|61||Donnie Avery||KC||at Oak||84||+23|
|62||Nate Burleson||Det||vs. Bal||49||-13|
|63||Robert Woods||Buf||at Jac||70||+7|
|64||Terrance Williams||Dal||vs. GB||62||-2|
|65||Jerricho Cotchery||Pit||vs. Cin||55||-10|
|66||Chris Givens||StL||vs. NO||92||+26|
|67||Ted Ginn||Car||vs. NYJ||61||-6|
|68||Da'Rick Rogers||Ind||vs. Hou||48||-20|
|69||Tiquan Underwood||TB||vs. SF||63||-6|
|70||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Phi||60||-10|
|71||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Car||57||-14|
|72||Lance Moore||NO||at StL||64||-8|
|73||Aaron Dobson||NE||at Mia||82||+9|
|74||Santana Moss||Was||at Atl||99||+25|
|75||Kenny Stills||NO||at StL||83||+8|
|76||Vincent Brown||SD||at Den||81||+5|
|77||Andre Roberts||Ari||at Ten||78||+1|
|78||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Chi||89||+11|
|79||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. Ari||77||-2|
|80||Kris Durham||Det||vs. Bal||72||-8|
|81||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||vs. Hou||98||+17|
|82||Jason Avant||Phi||at Min||86||+4|
|83||Rishard Matthews||Mia||vs. NE||74||-9|
Tight Ends: Titans' Delanie Walker Returns at Just the Right Time
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Walker is returning from his concussion just in time to face the absolute worst team in fantasy against tight ends, the Arizona Cardinals. Walker has been a pleasant surprise for owners, especially when Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the quarterback. The Cardinals do a great job taking away the outside receivers, so expect Walker to be a huge part of the play-action game, especially in the red zone.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Unless you are a fantasy analyst or a Dolphins fan, you might not know Clay has been the fifth-most productive tight end this season in standard leagues. He is fifth in receptions (60) and yards (678) and sixth in touchdowns (six). He has also proven fairly consistent week to week. Sounds like a must-start fantasy tight end in crunch time to us.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
Fantasy owners might be lamenting losing the production of Josh McCown, but not Bennett. He has been far more productive with Jay Cutler under center. With Joe Haden taking away one big receiver on the outside and a safety over the top doubling on the other, Bennett should find some space running down the seam. This stands to be a surprisingly good week for Bennett among fantasy starters.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
He has finally proven productive with Case Keenum under center, but he is dealing with a hamstring issue that has left him questionable. What's worse, the Indianapolis Colts have been solid defending the tight end in the red zone. Only the Eagles and Lions have allowed fewer touchdowns to the position this season.
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite a touchdown a week ago, he just hasn't been a big part of the Bucs' run-first offense after a hot stretch through the middle of the season. The San Francisco 49ers are the third-best team in fantasy against tight ends, so you should have a far more intriguing option to use in crunch time here than this undrafted rookie.
Zach Ertz/Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles; Jermaine Gresham/Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Regardless of the matchup, you shouldn't be anxious to play tight end roulette in fantasy crunch time. You might have gotten away with it to date with these timeshare guys, but you would be better off going with someone else that gets all of his team's targets in such a crucial week.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||at StL||1||0|
|2||Julius Thomas||Den||vs. SD||2||0|
|3||Jason Witten||Dal||vs. GB||6||+3|
|4||Jordan Cameron||Cle||vs. Chi||4||0|
|5||Vernon Davis||SF||at TB||3||-2|
|6||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||vs. Was||7||+1|
|7||Greg Olsen||Car||vs. NYJ||5||-2|
|8||Antonio Gates||SD||at Den||9||+1|
|9||Dennis Pitta||Bal||at Det||11||+2|
|10||Heath Miller||Pit||vs. Cin||17||+7|
|11||Martellus Bennett||Chi||at Cle||14||+3|
|12||Delanie Walker||Ten||vs. Ari||10||-2|
|13||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. NE||8||-5|
|14||Coby Fleener||Ind||vs. Hou||12||-2|
|15||Jared Cook||StL||vs. NO||19||+4|
|16||Garrett Graham||Hou||at Ind||13||-3|
|17||Zach Miller||Sea||at NYG||29||+12|
|18||Zach Ertz||Phi||at Min||20||+2|
|19||Tim Wright||TB||vs. SF||26||+7|
|20||Brandon Myers||NYG||vs. Sea||22||+2|
|21||Brent Celek||Phi||at Min||23||+2|
|22||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||at Pit||33||+11|
|23||Ladarius Green||SD||at Den||21||-2|
|24||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||vs. Bal||36||+12|
|25||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Pit||27||+2|
|26||Scott Chandler||Buf||at Jac||18||-8|
|27||Logan Paulsen||Was||at Atl||32||+5|
|28||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||vs. Buf||31||+3|
|29||Jeff Cumberland||NYJ||at Car||50||+21|
|30||Michael Hoomanawanui||NE||at Mia||48||+18|
|31||Virgil Green||Den||vs. SD||35||+4|
|32||Jacob Tamme||Den||vs. SD||15||-17|
Defense/Special Teams: Place Your Trust in the Most-Owned Units in Crunch Time
There are some very obvious must-start fantasy defense/special teams units this week, including the Seattle Seahawks (at New York Giants), Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Jets), San Francisco 49ers (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Kansas City Chiefs (at Oakland Raiders), Arizona Cardinals (at Tennessee Titans) and Cincinnati Bengals (at Pittsburgh Steelers). Those are the sixth-most owned units in CBS Sports leagues and the top six starts in our rankings below.
We pick through the leftovers for you streaming owners below.
The Detroit Lions playing at home is not a favorable matchup, but you are better off with a defensive-minded team like the Ravens than some of the other sketchier units in such a crucial week.
New England Patriots
Ditto here. The Pats are awful against the run, but the Dolphins have offensive line issues and might not be able to take advantage of their opponent's biggest weakness. A Bill Belichick defense in an important December game is a safer fantasy option than most.
New Orleans Saints
Here is the streaming play of the week. The Rams are in the bottom half of fantasy against defense/special teams, and the Saints are one of the few units out there that might be available to you. Trust in Rob Ryan to come through for you.
New York Jets
We cannot say the same for Rex Ryan, mostly because his quarterback figures to be a sloppy mess against that Panthers defense. Carolina is the third-toughest team in fantasy against defense/special teams, so don't dare use the Jets here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They are talented and coming off a huge performance, but the San Francisco 49ers—fourth-best against defense/special teams—are a lot more conservative than the error-prone Buffalo Bills are. Go with one of the starts above over the Bucs.
New York Giants
You had to have enough of this team last week. Now the Seattle Seahawks fly into town coming off a loss. This game has the makings of a 40-0 blowout. Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) remains out, and the Giants should remain on the free-agent pile.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at NYG||2||+1|
|2||Carolina Panthers||Car||vs. NYJ||1||-1|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||SF||at TB||4||+1|
|4||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||at Oak||3||-1|
|5||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||at Ten||5||0|
|6||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||at Pit||6||0|
|7||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Det||17||+10|
|8||New England Patriots||NE||at Mia||9||+1|
|9||New Orleans Saints||NO||at StL||8||-1|
|10||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. SD||21||+11|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at Min||10||-1|
|12||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||vs. Was||23||+11|
|13||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||vs. Hou||11||-2|
|14||Chicago Bears||Chi||at Cle||12||-2|
|15||Buffalo Bills||Buf||at Jac||7||-8|
|16||Pittsburgh Steelers||Pit||vs. Cin||19||+3|
|17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||vs. SF||20||+3|
|18||New York Jets||NYJ||at Car||28||+10|
|19||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||vs. GB||18||-1|
|20||Green Bay Packers||GB||at Dal||29||+9|
Kickers: We Put Our Faith in Justin Tucker, Mason Crosby and Adam Vinatieri Here
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Tucker might have let you down in the snow last week, but you should expect him to rebound nicely in the Detroit Lions' dome this week. The Lions just happen to have allowed the second-most field goals in football, despite not allowing a single kick in Philly last week.
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
You might not like Matt Flynn under center if you are a Crosby owner, but you have to like the matchup against the completely inept Dallas Cowboys defense. Crosby in a must-start option.
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
We didn't like Vinatieri against the Cincinnati Bengals in the wintry outdoors, but you can love him against the lame-duck Houston Texans back in the friendly confines of the Indy dome.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
We have had him as a sit for most of the season. A matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs—No. 2 in fantasy against kickers—keeps him there.
Josh Brown, New York Giants
You have to be beyond sick of his inconsistency by now. If not, you have to at least be smart enough to not mess with the Seattle Seahawks defense, No. 4 against fantasy kickers.
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams
You probably shouldn't have ridden this sophomore disappointment out this long. You could anticipate a shootout at home against the New Orleans Saints, but they have quietly been sixth-best against fantasy kickers this season.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at Mia||1||0|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||vs. SD||2||0|
|3||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at NYG||3||0|
|4||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Det||5||+1|
|5||Mason Crosby||GB||at Dal||13||+8|
|6||Phil Dawson||SF||at TB||12||+6|
|7||Garrett Hartley||NO||at StL||4||-3|
|8||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||vs. Hou||6||-2|
|9||Dan Bailey||Dal||vs. GB||8||-1|
|10||Ryan Succop||KC||at Oak||10||0|
|11||Alex Henery||Phi||at Min||7||-4|
|12||Nick Novak||SD||at Den||18||+6|
|13||Matt Bryant||Atl||vs. Was||11||-2|
|14||Blair Walsh||Min||vs. Phi||19||+5|
|15||Shaun Suisham||Pit||vs. Cin||27||+12|
|16||David Akers||Det||vs. Bal||14||-2|
|17||Robbie Gould||Chi||at Cle||15||-2|
|18||Greg Zuerlein||StL||vs. NO||24||+6|
|19||Dan Carpenter||Buf||at Jac||9||-10|
|20||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||vs. KC||20||0|
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
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