I don’t think there is a football fan or fantasy fan alive who doesn’t like game previews and predictions, so why not combine both ideas into one singularity, right?
Well, here ya go!
I thought it would be a great idea to give a short breakdown of every game on tap this week, and provide an additional fantasy analysis as well, satisfying all your football and fantasy needs into one.
There are a ton of great matchups this week, including a bevy of battles for first place, and games that could alter the playoff picture in a dramatic fashion.
So take a load off and skim through everything. There’s a lot of great advice in here, and some advice that you might not expect!
Breakdown: The Falcons and Buccaneers head into a showdown, both playing for different playoff aspects. The Falcons continue their quest towards securing homefield advantage, while the Buccaneers are just trying to keep pace in the Wild Card hunt.
What You Should Know: Starting Roddy White this week is actually very risky. While White has been rock solid as an elite fantasy receiver, shut down corner Aqib Talib held White to a measly 49 yards and zero touchdowns in their first time around the bush in Week 9.
Who To Watch: Both teams have potent running backs, but Atlanta's run defense is far better than Tampa Bay's. In their last meeting, Michael Turner ran all over the Bucs gaining 107 yards on 24 carries with two TDs. LeGarrette Blount, on the other hand, was held to under 50 yards and never saw pay dirt.
Tuner has a very tasty start, while Blount is an advisable sit.
Breakdown: The Philadelphia Eagles are in must win mode after last week’s loss to Chicago and New York beating Jacksonville. Ironically, New York helped Houston who is currently 10th in the conference, but are one game away from a three way divisional tie with Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
What You Should Know: The Eagles lead the league with 19 team interceptions, while the Texans are still trying to figure out how to cover. Both Andre Johnson and DeSean Jackson will be playing at high levels, since both are in the coach’s dog house.
Who To Watch: Arian Foster that’s who! Jackson and Johnson will have good days, but Arian Foster makes a living on feasting against teams that can’t stop the run like Philadelphia. Conversely, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy is better suited for your bench this week as he faces a stingy Houston run D that ranks ninth in the league.
A tail of opposites indeed.
Breakdown: New Orleans has an uphill climb for the remainder of the season in a very competitive NFC South, so one slip up could cost them a playoff appearance. The Bengals are probably the most disappointing team of the 2010 season with as many playmakers as they have, and should struggle against the Saints D.
What You Should Know: Jabari Greer is making a name for himself as a rising shutdown corner, and that will affect T.O.’s performance. Chad OchoCinco has literally been MIA all year long, averaging only 45+ yards in his last five.
Who To Watch: Marques Colston leads this team with targets, despite the Saints sharing the ball much more than 2009. And no matter who he faces he still seems to deliver weekly, making him a nice start. Carson Palmer should be avoided at all costs this week.
Breakdown: If Chicago beats Detroit and Green Bay loses another game, they will not only own the division but also have a one game lead, a first for the Bears in a long time. The Lions are just looking to improve on a dismal Thanksgiving weekend performance in which a very winnable game spiraled out of control.
What You Should Know: Calvin Johnson has 11 touchdowns in 11 games, but QB Shaun Hill has a broken left forearm, that could get a lot worse against a very aggressive Chicago front four. Matt Forte could also have his second quality game in a row for fantasy owners against a Lions team that can’t stop the run.
Who To Watch: Brandon Pettigrew is now a featured part of the passing attack in Detroit, especially considering Hill’s arm is weakened. Last week Pettigrew caught five passes for 67 yards and should have another nice day against a Bears team that should show more two deep sets than zone, leaving open holes over the middle for Pettigrew.
Jahvid Best, on the other hand, hasn’t done anything since Week 2 and will continue to disappoint in this game, so sit him.
Breakdown: The Packers cannot afford another loss after last week’s nail biter. The 49ers—if you can believe this—are still very much in the hunt for the playoffs, even at 4-7. Both teams will enter this contest with sub-par rushing attacks, but Green Bay has the edge in the passing game by far.
What You Should Know: Frank Gore is done for the season which means a lot of Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon, but Coach Singletary isn’t stupid. Green Bay does a very good job at shutting down pass catching backs like Westbrook, but have struggled against more physical runners like Dixon. A time share could be on tap.
Who To Watch: LB Patrick Willis may struggle to top last year’s numbers, but over the last three games he has four sacks, one forced fumble and 21 tackles. He should have a nice game against a suspect Packers’ interior. For the Packers, don’t be surprised if Dimitri Nance sees more playing time, specifically in the second half.
Breakdown: Game of the week, third place! Both of these teams will be battling it out for first place as the Jags get set to take on the Titans. The Jags will enter this game with a chip on their shoulder as the Titans embarrassed them in their first meeting 30-3, but since then, the Jags have improved from last to first.
What You Should Know: RB Chris Johnson provided fantasy owners with a big fat goose egg last week with five rushing yards on seven carries. That will be more than enough fuel to get him going this week against a team that he ran all over (111 rushing yards and one TD) in Week 6.
Who To Watch: Jaguars' receiver Mike Thomas had a nice outing the last time these two teams faced each other, but a lot of that had to do with the Jags playing from behind, so you may want to err towards caution starting him if you have better options.
MJD has four straight games of 100 or more yards rushing and is trending upward heading into this matchup. He’s a safe start this time around.
Breakdown: Game of the Week! The last time these two teams met, they combined for 765 passing yards and eight TDs, and you can believe nothing is going to change this time around except for the Chiefs winning instead of Denver.
What You Should Know: Out of those 765 passing yards, Chiefs' receiver Dwayne Bowe and Broncos' receiver Brandon Lloyd were responsible for 276 of those yards and half the TD count (four). But the difference maker in this game could be who performs better on the ground. Charles was stuffed the last time, while Knowshon Moreno had his only 100+ yard game.
Who To Watch: With Dexter McCluster still out, and the other Chiefs' receivers non-existent, Kansas City has been forced to use more two TE sets, and put more focus on using their RBs in the passing game. Both Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles could have better than expected days in this particular game.
Linebacker Mario Haggan had six tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble in his last outing against Kansas City, and is a great waiver wire pickup in IDP leagues if you are in the market for a LB.
Breakdown: Miami is in a tight race with four other teams as they all scrape and battle to reach for the sixth seed, so a loss here would be detrimental. Cleveland now has the luxury of playing spoiler for the remainder of the season.
What You Should Know: Brandon Marshall is still dealing with that hamstring issue and Davone Bess has been the benefactor, but don’t forget about Brian Hartline who has been speculated as “out-playing” Marshall in recent weeks.
Who To Watch: Peyton Hillis is on pace for a sickening 1,316 yards and 16 TDs on the ground and 602 receiving yard with three TDs. That’s a grand total of 1,916 all-purpose yards and 19 all-purpose TDs…sorry Arian Foster, but guess who’s top dog now?
Breakdown: This game should be labeled: The Second Chance Bills versus The Second Chance Vikings. Both of these teams can explode at any given moment, but it is the Vikings who have the better defense. Still, don’t expect the Vikes to slow them down too much.
What You Should Know: Vikings’ head coach Leslie Frazier showed his team that being balanced when necessary and aggressive when the opportunity presents itself is exactly how this team is built to win. They will face an explosive Bills’ offense that has also been very opportunistic over the last four weeks.
Who To Watch: Fred Jackson has given fantasy owners something to smile about over the last three weeks, with a stat line that looks like this:
58 rushes for 308 yards and 3 TDs – 14 receptions for 154 yards and 2 TDs.
That’s a lot of all-purpose yards in three games. You can start him with confidence.
Breakdown: Grudge match of the week! But this time around the Chargers are a much better team defensively—they were offensively until a swarming injury bug cut off the legs of this team. Still, a loss to Oakland—again—would not only elevate Oakland to second in the division, but it would also send San Diego to third, and leave their chances for a playoff spot severely in jeopardy.
What You Should Know: V-Jax is gone, Patrick Crayton is gone, but Antonio Gates is feeling “better than ever" for some peculiar reason. Ryan Mathews has a “chance” to play, but when Mike Tolbert gets the chance to carry the load he excels, and it has shown in the past two weeks as he has dialed up two 100+ yard games and two TDs.
Who To Watch: Jacoby Ford will inevitably get a lot of WW consideration after his stellar performance last week, but to be honest it was just a fluke. If you try your hand at starting him, you’ll just be chasing stats.
Darren McFadden is a great start and could be the difference maker in this game as the Chargers didn’t get a chance to meet him the last time.
Breakdown: This is a very simple analysis: Carolina is abysmal and Qwest Field is going to be a nightmare for Jimmy Clausen.
What You Should Know: Read the above…that simple.
Who To Watch: Mike Williams hasn’t yet shown any improvement with his injury which means Ben Obomanu is the hottest WW grab flying off the shelf right now, so you would be wise to grab him and start him this week.
Breakdown: Can ya believe? The Rams are on pace to be the most surprising team—not to mention the most improved team—of the 2010 season under the guidance of starting quarterback Sam Bradford and his dirty half dozen of receivers. Arizona, on the other hand, is already looking toward next year and should suffer another embarrassing loss.
What You Should Know: There are at least five or six receivers to choose from in St. Louis, but from a fantasy perspective, they don’t exactly hold a lot of value since Bradford excels when he spreads the ball around (which he consistently does on a weekly basis).
Who To Watch: You have to expect the Cardinals to key up on the passing game early. You also have to believe that the Rams will jump all over the Cardinals early and utilize RB Steven Jackson the rest of the way, giving Jackson a nice matchup for this week. He could top 100 yards for the first time since Week 7.
Breakdown: Game of the Week runner up. What happens when Peyton Manning gets embarrassed like he did last week versus the Chargers? He takes it out on weaker opposing teams the week after, ya know, like Dallas. While Dallas has improved slightly, they won’t have any answer for the Colts' potent passing attack.
What You Should Know: The Colts resigned Taj Smith, indicating that Austin Collie won’t play again this week. Dez Bryant is coming back down to earth which means Miles Austin and TE Jacob Tamme are the headlining players for this matchup.
Who To Watch: I believe that both tight ends will be featured in this contest with Colts TE Jacob Tamme having the better day all around, while Cowboys TE Jason Witten having the better PPR value. Keep an eye on Taj Smith’s status and updates, he was a bright spot in the off-season and preseason before tweaking his knee.
Breakdown: Another battle for first place is on tap with the two AFC juggernauts (Pittsburgh and Baltimore) set to square off for a final time, in what could be a postseason preview. The Steelers have been having some trouble moving the ball through the air as of late, while the Ravens have been having some trouble opening up holes for RB Ray Rice. Either way, we have ourselves a good old fashion stalemate.
What You Should Know: Owners will be quick to consider Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice in this one, but neither will provide fantasy owners anything to be happy about. Pittsburgh is already the number one defense against the run, and Boldin has been mediocre in regard to fantasy as the Ravens insist on rotating him in and out of the slot.
Who To Watch: Mike Wallace seems to be the favored X-factor here, as he is the biggest deep ball threat out of both teams. He could have a nice day against a Ravens' secondary that can be burned, but be aware he is still a risky start in a game that has all the making of a FG fiasco.
Breakdown: In order for the Giants to keep out of the Wild Card race, they will have to keep a one game edge on Philadelphia, and that means taking out Washington to help their cause. The Redskins are a nice matchup for New York in the sense that they are highly burnable down field. The Redskins, on the other hand, may be trying to do the impossible in this one, by beating New York.
What You Should Know: Steve Smith will not start leaving Manningham the primary target and he should have a decent game. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are in a time share with the expected majority of the carries to go to Jacobs, but Bradshaw is playing to gain his job back, making both of these guys quality starts.
Who To Watch: TE Kevin Boss is receiving more looks with Smith out and you can expect this trend to continue for one more week. Donovan McNabb and Santana Moss are risky starts at best!
Breakdown: Yup, you guessed it! Yet another battle for first place has the Jets against the Patriots and for the Pats, a win is the only option. The Jets already won round one and are undefeated in the division, giving them the upper hand should this divisional race come down to a tie.
What You Should Know: Wes Welker is finally starting to show comfort on the field and in that knee as he has had two very solid back to back outings. The only issue is that his success came against the Lions and Colts, who are nowhere near as good defensively as the Jets are, so he could be a misleading play this week.
Who To Watch: Remember that guy who plays TE for the Jets? What’s his name….oh yeah, Dustin Keller! Dustin Keller has been MIA the past couple of weeks namely because they just haven’t had to use him, but this week could change all of that.
If the Patriots go two deep in coverage like they did with Detroit, the lanes open up for Keller making him extremely valuable in PPR leagues, but if they opt for zone or man, downfield threat Santonio Holmes will continue his four week tear. Both players are quality starts in my opinion.
For a more individual breakdown of specific players and start sit questions check out my WR Week 13 Start Sit column, and good luck to all this week.