It's time to get down to it. Week 13. Final regular-season week for many standard league formats. Since there's a game tonight on the NFL Network, we're getting started with our review a little early this week. As usual, start your Chris Johnsons, Peyton Mannings, Larry Fitzgeralds, other must-start, #1 options. We're looking at some options for your 2nd/3rd/flex spots, which could be the difference in victory and defeat, and possibly playoffs or no playoffs. If you have any specific lineup questions, fire away and we'll give you our thoughts.
QUARTERBACKS TO START
1. Donovan McNabb @ ATL. Even without DJax, McNabb will do what the Bucs didn't quite do enough of last week...hit big plays in the passing game.
2. Philip Rivers @ CLE. They are steamrolling towards the playoffs and Rivers looks unstoppable. Poor Browns are the next sacrificial lamb.
3. Tony Romo @ NYG. Remembered that Miles Austin is virtually uncoverable one-on-one, and just in time to face accomodating NYG secondary.
Sleeper: Kyle Orton @ KC. Last 2 QBs to face Chiefs were Roethlisberger (398 yds, 3 TDs) and Philip Rivers (317 yds, 2 TDs). Forget Denver's luck @ KC...Orton, who practiced in full today, has a good look at putting up some solid numbers.
QUARTERBACKS TO SIT
1. Joe Flacco @ GB. Packers finally starting to generate pressure and CB Charles Woodson is playing out of his mind right now and will make life tough on Flacco's main guy, Derrick Mason.
2. Eli Manning vs. DAL. Even though Eli has 16 TD passes in last 8 games against the Cowboys, Dallas D is playing well right now and is actually the 2nd ranked scoring defense in the NFL.
3. Carson Palmer vs. DET. ****Grrrrr, you idiot, it's the Lions! Indeed, but the Bengals ran the ball more than the '42 Fighting Irish last Sunday and Palmer put up a stinker against a bad defense. Again, this is about picking options that both combine the lowest-risk plays with the biggest upsides. Palmer has upside indeed and may be worth a consideration if you're facing a guy like Manning and need to swing for the fences, but otherwise if you're choosing between Palmer and a less risky play and can afford to sit Palmer, consider the alternative strongly.
RUNNING BACKS TO START
1. Laurence Maroney @ MIA. Maroney has established himself as the premiere featured back in the New England backfield, getting the bulk of the frequent red zone opportunities the Patriot offense provides him. Facing a Dolphin defense that is vulnerable to New England passing attack, meaning Maroney should get multiple red zone/goal line opportunities.
2. Rashard Mendenhall vs. OAK. Raiders can't jam box with Big Ben expected to play, giving Mendenhall room to put up RB1 fantasy numbers this week.
3. Matt Forte vs. STL. Forsett ran hog wild last week on the Rams, and Bears will turn to run to avoid the inevitable turnovers that seem to come when Cutler releases the ball from his hand.
Sleeper: Jonathan Stewart vs. TB. Ran for over 100 yds and a TD in Week 6 win at Tampa Bay. With Delhomme out, Panthers likely to continue heavy focus on running the ball, to the benefit of Williams and Stewart, the latter of whom is a decent low-end RB2 and solid flex play.
RUNNING BACKS TO SIT
1. Justin Forsett vs. SF. I say this MAINLY because Julius Jones (lung) practiced in full today and has been upgraded to probable, making him likely to play and possibly start on Sunday. Keep an ear open for what Mora says this week, but he's done nothing to keep us from thinking Jones won't take back his starting gig. If you need a solid performance from your RB2 this week, playing Forsett is a huge gamble at this time.
2. Ryan Grant vs. BAL. Ravens defense is starting to turn the corner and Packer offensive line is difficult to gauge. If you have backup option, consider it.
3. Tim Hightower vs. MIN. Battling thumb injury, split with Wells, and the Minny front 7. Pass.
WIDE RECEIVERS TO START
1. Miles Austin @ NYG. Reestablished himself last week as THE MAN in the Cowboy passing game. He can catch a short pass and make a big play; blaze a corner on a go route, or make the tough catch up high or over the middle. Romo should look his way plenty on Sunday.
2. Sidney Rice @ ARI. 6 catches for 89 yards is a down week? That oughta tell you how the cat's doing lately.....well. He's getting a ton of targets from the red-hot Brett Favre, so don't even think about benching him.
3. Jason Avant @ ATL. Has stepped up as a productive fantasy receiver the past 3 weeks, even with DJax active. With DJax stating he's unlikely to play, look for Avant's role to increase substantially this week. Maclin a solid play, too.
Sleeper: Robert Meachem @ WAS. Emerging as a trusted, reliable second option for Brees...should get plenty of secondary looks in Brees' progression as WAS DBs work to shut down Colston and Henderson.
WIDE RECEIVERS TO SIT
1. Steve Smith vs. TB. With Delhomme out and TB statistically being accomodating to opposing rushers, Smith could be in line for a bust of a game, so if you have better options, consider them. If you don't and have to roll with him, take solace that hey, QB Matt Moore can't underutilize his WR weapon any more than Delhomme has!!! (he might even target Smith more, but like I said, he's a risk).
2. Derrick Mason vs. GB. He will be covered by the certain-to-be-2009-All-Pro Charles Woodson and Flacco should see some pressure from Green Bay's active front 7. Also, the BAL running game will likely again be featured.
3. Donnie Avery @ CHI. Kyle Boller stinks.
TIGHT ENDS TO START
1. Visanthe Shiancoe @ ARI. Brett's red zone puppet scored again last week...they are clearly on the same page as of late.
2. Brent Celek @ ARI. Yea, he's hurt, but he should go and would be a matchup nightmare for the pass-happy Eagles against the overmanned Falcon secondary.
3. Kevin Boss vs. DAL. Cowboys bringing heavy pressure lately, so Manning will likely drop off short passes often to his new favorite target, the Bossman.
Sleeper: Heath Miller @ PIT. Big Ben likes to look his way in play action and in near the goal line. Big Ben is back, so Miller is in line for a decent, if not solid game.
TIGHT ENDS TO SIT
1. Fred Davis vs. NO. Saints defense doing a nice job on opposing TEs.
2. Ben Watson @ MIA. Not getting enough targets lately to justify using.
3. Tony Scheffler @ KC. Even though KC gives up yards in droves through the air, Scheffler not getting many targets from Orton. When 4 catches for 53 yards is a pretty good game, that's saying something.
DEFENSES TO START
1. Chargers @ CLE.
2. Saints @ WAS.
3. Bengals vs. DET.
DEFENSES TO SIT
1. Cardinals vs. MIN.
2. Giants vs. DAL.
3. Ravens v@ GB.