Fantasy Focus, Week 14: Playoff time

Fantasy Focus, Week 14: Playoff time

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Are you ready for some playoffs?  It's that time of year in the fantasy football world.  Week 14 is upon us, so it's win or go home time.  You obviously want to play the matchups and break everything down, but you also don't want to get too cute either.  It's one of those things where if you were to lose, you at least want to feel like you put your best possible lineup out there.  There are cases though where you may be better off sitting one of your stars.  We're not going to dig too deep this week, either.  As I said, you don't want to take chances with too many 3rd receivers or running backs in timeshares.  You've got to trust your studs, in most cases.  Let's get into Sunday's action!


With Pittsburgh back on the road again and in a tough spot at that, expect the 'Roethlisberger on the Road' chatter to continue.  There's no doubting he's played worse away from Pitt, than he has at home.  I would hesitate to sit him though, because he'll still probably manage to put up respectable numbers.  The Bills' pass defense can be thrown on.  Obviously LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown are must-starts here as the playoffs begin.  One interesting guy who could be a potential play this week is tight end LaDarius Green. The Bills have been generous to the tight end position this year, and Green and Big Ben have begun to show good chemistry over the last couple weeks!  If you're struggling to replace Rob Gronkowski, Green could be your antidote.  There are other guys who will catch passes, but none of them offer any fantasy worth at this point.  The Steelers' defense is a risky start against LeSean McCoy and company.

For Buffalo, LeSean McCoy is coming off nearly 200 yards of total offense last week, so make sure he stays in your lineup this week.  His back up, Mike Gillislee, has had fantasy relevance in his own right.  Even with McCoy in there, Gillislee has put up pretty decent numbers.  Case in point, last week, when he found his way into the end zone twice!  He also added 50 yards rushing to boot.  The Bills seem to like him near the goal line, which can be frustrating for McCoy owners, but Gillislee is more than just a touchdown vulture, so he's a valuable handcuff if McCoy goes down.  He's worth a flex play in bigger leagues, even if McCoy is healthy.  QB Tyrod Taylor fantasy numbers have been all over the map, and with Buffalo having the NFL's worst passing offense, you can't play him in such an important week.  If you have no choice, you have to hope he can supplement his passing yardage with rushing yards.  The good thing is that he may have BOTH Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods at his disposal.  Watkins is limiting his practices in order to be good to go on Sundays, and the Bills expect Woods to be back this week, so keep an eye on injury reports to see if that comes true.  Watkins should be started as a WR-2, while I wouldn't risk using Woods if he goes.  That's really it for this week.  The tight ends just stink here, and no other receivers put up enough numbers.  The Buffalo 'D' is a pretty decent start at home.


For Denver, the success of the offense may depend a lot on the foot of its quarterback!  Say what??  Yes, Trevor Siemian's sprained foot is what I'm talking about.  He missed last week with the issue and was even in a walking boot until Wednesday.  Good news though; he took part in practice early in the week, and the Broncos are hopeful that he can give it a go.  Don't start him if he plays, but his health will help the receivers, especially Emmanuel Sanders.  Last week, Sanders suffered because backup QB Paxton Lynch didn't complete a single pass beyond 20 yards.  Meanwhile, DeMaryius Thomas got most of the targets and receptions in the receiving corps.  If you own Sanders, you have to hope Siemian plays, because he has more arm strength.  If he does, Sanders and Thomas are both WR-2's.  If Lynch plays, downgrade Sanders or consider benching him.  At running back, Devontae Booker has definitely gotten the workload, but he just hasn't done much with it.  It's beginning to look like maybe he's not bell-cow running back material.  If you need him though as an RB-2, then use him, but he'll probably need a touchdown like he had last week to make it worth using him.  Backup Kapri Bibbs went down, so Denver signed journeyman Justin Forsett.  He'll probably just serve as the backup though like Bibbs did.  You're not using any tight end in this critical week.  The Broncos' defense is a must-start.

For Tennessee, and they are playing Denver, so factor that in when you're considering Marcus Mariota and his receivers.  This definitely makes Mariota a borderline start, and if you have a second quarterback with a better matchup, you have to consider switching out.  With this said, I would also consider benching Rishard Matthews.  He's really been the only reliable receiver they have, thus I think he'll get the toughest matchup. Find someone else.  Don't use Tajae Sharpe or Kendall Wright either.  Tight end Delanie Walker is the only receiving option I'd consider.  The Broncos have allowed yardage to tight ends this season, so I think you can use Walker here.  It also helps that he's Mariota's favorite target.  At running back, DeMarco Murray will be leaned on heavily in this game.  As we've seen this year, you can run on Denver, so I think he'll be okay.  The Titans' defense isn't a bad start, regardless of who starts under center.


For Washington, the big question will be, can Jordan Reed play this week?  His shoulder injury (grade 3 AC joint sprain) was pretty bad, so it remains to be seen if he can go.  Keep an eye on injury reports leading up to Sunday.  If he doesn't go, it'll be Vernon Davis starting at tight end, and you can use him, since he's been viable whenever Reed's been out this year.  QB Kirk Cousins will be a fine start this week, and I think he'll be able to play well.  The Eagles' defense hasn't looked like they did earlier in the year.  For the receivers, DeSean Jackson is playing his former team, but don't get too terribly hung up on that storyline, since it's been a while now.  Jackson is a boom or bust WR-3 or flex play for me.  Jamison Crowder and Pierre Garcon are the more reliable sources of targets and catches.  I'd use either as a WR-3 or flex, especially in points per reception formats!  Running back Chris Thompson will get some catches too, when it's a passing down or if the Redskins play from behind.  Starter Rob Kelley should be able to be viable most of the game, as I don't think the Eagles will blow them out.  In fact, I think Washington will be in this the whole way and could possibly win it.  The Redskins' defense isn't a bad start, against rookie QB Carson Wentz, who's not been playing too great lately.

For Philly, don't use Wentz, as he just hasn't been good lately.  He hasn't even broken the 20-point barrier for fantasy since week 5!  Sit him.  The only receivers I'd consider here are tight end Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews.  Matthews will be back on the field this week, after practicing in full this week.  He's been a mix of good and uninspiring this season, with only 3 touchdown catches.  Some of that of course has to do with Wentz.  I'd only use Matthews as a WR-3 or flex.  Hopefully he won't see top corner, Josh Norman.  Ertz has been much more involved over the past 5 games, so use him if you need him.  Don't mess with Dorial Green-Beckham or Nelson Agholor.  At running back, Ryan Mathews is expected to make his return this week, so use him if you need him.  Of course, he'll be in a timeshare with Darren Sproles.  Mathews is no more than an RB-2 or flex, with Sproles being a flex and as always, much better used in a PPR!  The Eagles' defense is not a recommended start this week.


For Miami, it's not exactly a great matchup for Jay Ajayi and the run game, but you're not benching him.  He's been far too valuable, and you know he's getting the volume in this offense.  He even had 6 catches last week, so if that continues, that's even better for him.  QB Ryan Tannehill had been playing pretty well and was really playing turnover-free football until last week, when he had 3 interceptions!  I would lean on sitting him this week, against this tough Cardinals' secondary, and with it being such an important week.  Receiver Davante Parker played through his back injury last week, and I think he'll be able to this week too.  Use him as your WR-3 or flex if you need to.  Kenny Stills is a boom or bust type of receiver, so I wouldn't risk using him.  Jarvis Landry had a solid game last week with 11 grabs, but I don't see that coming this week, especially if top cover corner, Patrick Peterson, is on him.  If this does happen, it could certainly help Parker's and Stills' statistics!  If Peterson covers Parker, which could also happen, then I really like Landry.  Landry is a WR-2 or 3 for me this week.  Tyronn Mathieu has been declared out for Arizona, so that will help.  That's as deep as we're going here.  The Dolphins' defense is hard to start after the past couple week's worth of disappointing performances.  Bench them.

The Cardinals' offense of course begins and ends with stud running back, David Johnson!  I can't imagine where they would be without him this season!  Obviously roll with him as usual!  Carson Palmer could be okay in this one, and he's at least coming into this one on a small roll.  He's had around 300 yards, with 5 TDs and only 1 pick, that last 2 games.  I'd roll with him, as he's catching the Miami 'D' on a downward trend.  Larry Fitzgerald is the one receiver here to trust, and he's an obvious WR-1 or 2 play.  Michael Floyd is the next best option now, with John Brown dealing with this mysterious sickle-cell issue.  Brown's supposedly going to be on a snap count to manage it.  Floyd hasn't been setting the world on fire, though now, so I wouldn't exactly feel good about playing him.  I think it's best to find someone else.  You can't lose your matchup because of Michael Floyd; that would drive you crazy all offseason!  The Cardinals' defense isn't a bad start here against Tannehill and friends, but they're not a great start either...pretty middle of the road play really.


Ahh, now we come to an intriguing game, for fantasy purposes only!  If not for that, this game would have no meaning really since both have losing records, but I'm very curious about how Phillip Rivers will do, in his return to his college stomping grounds, near North Carolina State.  Also, the Carolina pass defense is not good as we all know, so I really like Rivers this week.  I'd start him if you have him.  Now, there is a chance that Luke Kuechly COULD make his return from concussion, so that's something to watch.  Either way though, I still think Rivers will be okay to use here.  Receiver Tyrell Williams has led the Chargers in targets since week 9, so I think he's a solid start as a WR-2 or 3.  He played through his labrum issue, so expect him to go again.  Dontrelle Inman has played a pivotal role lately, and has a touchdown in each of the last two games.  Start him if you need him as a WR-3 or flex.  Don't worry about Travis Benjamin right now; he's disappeared from fantasy relevance for the time being.  The tight ends have been pretty lackluster lately, but I'd still roll with Antonio Gates here, because the Panthers give up big-time production to tight ends.  Gates still only needs a few TDs to get the tight end touchdown record, so you would think at some point they would want to make that happen this year.  Hunter Henry is a little too risky to start, even though it's a great matchup.  If Gates was out, I would, but he's not.  Running back Melvin Gordon doesn't have a great matchup on paper, but there's no way you're sitting him.  Heck, Seattle's Thomas Rawls ran all over this defense last week, so maybe Gordon can too.  Some of that though, was due to Seattle leading the whole way, though.  Either way, Gordon is your RB-1 or 2.  The Chargers' defense is probably not a good one to risk using, since Cam Newton and company can score.

The Panthers obviously have struggled most of the year, but you can't sit Cam Newton this week.  The Chargers' defense isn't a total shutdown 'D', so he should be able to put up some numbers.  Use him if you have been.  Receiver Kelvin Benjamin could see top cover corner Casey Hayward, so that could be trouble for Benjamin.  Benjamin hasn't done diddly the past 3 weeks, and even though it sounds crazy, I'd consider benching him this week.  If you need him, though, use him, as you may not have better options.  Ted Ginn has been making plays pretty much all year, so I'd use him as a WR-3 or flex again if you need to.  Forget the other wideouts.  Tight end Greg Olsen has been disappointing, and it's hard to say what's going on with him.  Is it age??  Is it the whole team's performance bringing him down?  Is it Cam's struggles?  Who knows really, but it really makes it hard to use him in such a critical week.  The Panthers' defense is a middle of the road play for me, but the one thing you might get is an interception or two, from Rivers, plus a sack or two, especially if Kuechly plays.


For Cincy, this is a dream matchup!  You're starting QB Andy Dalton for sure.  Running back Jeremy Hill is in a great spot too!  You're playing him, and he smoked the Browns earlier this year in Cincinnati, so that should ease your mind.  Without Gio Bernard, it's mostly Hill getting the touches.  Rex Burkhead is merely a flex in a PPR.  Tight end Tyler Eifert has a great matchup, so play him.  Receiver Tyler Boyd is a flex start, while compadre Brandon LaFell can be used as a WR-2 or 3.  He's been getting a lot of red zone targets.  The Bengals' defense is a solid play this week against....well, just keep on reading below, folks.

For Cleveland, guess who's back?? Robert Griffin III, yep RG-III baby!  Ok, so he's coming back; don't play him!!!    He's an injury waiting to happen!  RB Isaiah Crowell did okay in this matchup earlier in the year, so I'm not too worried about him.  The Bengals' defense hasn't been that great this season, so he could find some room to run.  Receiver Terrelle Pryor has been a monster, so keep rolling with him.  Corey Coleman is probably a bit too risky, but use him if you need him.  Gary Barnidge has a good matchup and is expected to play, so use him if you need to.  The Browns' defense obviously should not be used.


This Lions' defense has been playing better, and they're not the pushover they once were.  For that reason, I don't think the Bears' RB Jordan Howard is going to go crazy, but you still have to start him!  He's contributed in the pass game at times too, so that has helped.  You're not pinning your playoff hopes on Matt Barkley, so forget that.  Receiver Cameron Meredith will get the bulk of the work, with Marquess Wilson looking like he could miss, due to injury.  I think Merdith is a WR-2 play.  Deonte Thompson could also get some run here, but don't worry about him.  Reminder though:  Alshon Jeffery is set to return next week.  Forget the tight ends here.  The Bears' defense should be avoided.

The Lions have a pretty good matchup here.  You're obviously starting Matthew Stafford.  Lots of guys are dinged up here though.  Theo Riddick, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, and Dwayne Washington are all questionable.  Jones is the only one to really be worried about, as he could be a game-time decision.  He's still dealing with a thigh, so check him before kickoff.  He's a boom or bust WR-3 if you decide to use him.  Riddick is still probably going to lead the team in backfield snaps, but he's a risky play after his recent performances.  I'd only use him in a PPR format.  I wouldn't use Washington at all.  Ebron should be fine at tight end, so use him.  Golden Tate is my favorite play here besides Stafford.  Roll with him as a WR-2.  Anquan Boldin is risky because he's so touchdown dependent.  The Lions' defense is a nice spot-start this week against Barkley and company.


For Indy, you're starting Andrew Luck, as he has one of the best matchups of the week playing at home.  He's really playing well, and the Texans' defense is decent, but their offense doesn't help them, when they're constantly so ineffective.  You're obviously starting both T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, and I think they'll be fine here.  Dwayne Allen has surpassed Jack Doyle in the tight end hierarchy, and he really did a number on the Jets last week, with 3, count 'em, 3 touchdowns!!  Roll with Allen again, but don't expect that type of performance obviously.  Remember, I always have said, that touchdowns are a fluky kinda thing.  For instance, thursday night, Raiders' WR Michael Crabtree caught a pass and got tackled at the 1.  One more yard, and he would've had a fairly decent game.  Obviously without it, he only had 20 yards receiving, as Latavius Murray ended up punching it in.  So, back to Indy, running back Frank Gore is a solid play as usual, with his high amount of volume that he gets, so keep rolling him out there.  The Colts' defense has never been a great start, but against Brock Osweiler, they have a chance at a turnover or two and a sack or two.

For Houston, Lamar Miller has a nice matchup against this sorry Colts' run defense.  Use him for sure.  Forget Osweiler, and if you've been starting him, you're season is probably over, or you have an incredible team!  DeAndre Hopkins has obviously been frustrating all year, and trust me, I know all about it, because I have him on a team.  Talk about needing the Tylenol all year!!  Roll with him if you need him though, because it is a beatable matchup.  Will Fuller is finally healthy again and looks 100%, so use him if you need him.  Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has been great this year, and he's #2 on the team in passing targets!  Keep using him here, as he lit up the Colts last time out.  Ryan Griffin is also in the mix at TE, but he doesn't get enough targets, so he's too risky.  The Texans' defense is not a good start this week against Luck and company.


This Jaguars' defense has been a bizarre thing all season.  They've been really stout when it comes to points allowed, but they have hardly generated any turnovers!  I think they will help to keep this one of the lowest scoring games in the NFL this weekend, and against Sam Bradford, they make for a good play here.  Heck, maybe they'll get a turnover or two and some sacks.  I don't expect Blake Bortles to have much success, or his receivers to either for that matter.  One thing going in their favor though, is that safety Harrison Smith is out for the season, so that's huge.  Still, you're sitting Bortles.  WR Allen Robinson will probably make a few plays, but he'll likely see top cover corner Xavier Rhodes, so I'd lean towards benching him, if you can afford to do it.  He, like DeAndre Hopkins, has been a major letdown and headache all year!  Allen Hurns is out with a hamstring, so forget him.  Marquise Lee is the second wideout again, but you can't risk using him.  The backfield is still ugly, and let's just be real here:  you're not using Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon.  There, plain and simple.  Tight end Julius Thomas will miss again, so it'll be Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack.  Forget it...

As for the Vikes, I'm a little worried about WR Stefon Diggs here, as he could see top cover corner Jalen Ramsey, plus it's not as good as a matchup as it seems, because as I said the Jags' 'D' has been tough, especially against the pass.  They've allowed the 2nd-fewest passing yards this season.  Use Diggs if you need him, but I'm not as high on him this week.  Adam Thielen could be the guy to use here, especially in a PPR.  His role in the offense could lend itself to doing some damage.  I wouldn't touch anyone else, except maybe Cordarelle Patterson, if you're in a league where you get return yardage.  The running back situation is still a mess, and we'll see if Adrian Peterson ever comes back this year.  So, it's still Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata.  If you have to use one, it's still Asiata for me, but they're both risky at this point.  I wouldn't use QB Sam Bradford at all.  Tight end Kyle Rudolph is an okay start here, as he could come through.  The Vikings' defense is a great start here at Jacksonville!

JETS AT 49ERS -- 3:05 CST

This won't take long.  I probably won't even watch this game, as I have nobody on either team.  The only two guys I'd consider using here for New York, are Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall.  With young and inexperienced quarterback Bryce Petty running the show, you can't trust him, let alone hardly anyone else.  That's why you can only go with the proven commodities here, if you have to.  I think Forte has the best chance of having a big day.  The San Fran run defense just gave up a ton of yards and touchdowns to Jordan Howard, just like they have most of the year.  You have to like Forte in this spot to produce.  You hope that Marshall will be leaned on heavily by Petty, but he could target others some of the secondary receivers too, if he's had chemistry with them on the practice field.  Roll with Marshall as a WR-3.  Don't use anyone else here; it's just too risky.  The Jets' defense isn't a bad start, but keep your expectations in check.

For San Fran, Carlos Hyde is still a must-start, but I don't think he'll be totally effective, against a pretty decent Jets' run defense.  Still, you can start him, because he'll get the volume, plus he'll get a few catches too.  Colin Kaepernick is a tough call, because he killed everyone last week, with one of the worst performances by a starting quarterback this season!  The Jets can be thrown on, though, plus he'll run some, so if you need him, I think he'll have a bounce-back game.  I don't trust any of their receivers.  They just spread the ball around too much, and do you want to say you lost in the playoffs because of a 49er receiver.  The 49ers' defense is actually a decent start, since it's Petty starting for NY.


Vegas has this as the highest point total of the weekend, and I think it has a chance to be a fantasy bonanza too!  For Tampa, I like Jameis Winston this week a lot, and I think you have to start him.  Obviously, Mike Evans is a no-brainer, and he could really torch the Saints.  Receiver Adam Humphries may miss with a concussion, so keep an eye on his status.  With Cecil Shorts out and possibly Humphries, Freddie Martino and Russell Shepard are the next guys up; um, ya, don't go there in the playoffs.  Tight end Cameron Brate will be the next-best bet to get targets, and I'd use him here in a solid matchup.  At tailback, Doug Martin missed part of the game last week, after getting "bent back" on a tackle.  Check on his status, but if he goes, use him in a nice matchup.  Backup Jacquizz Rodgers is healthy again and played last week, so he'll steal some touches.  Martin's still an RB-2 if he goes.  The Bucs' defense could slow Drew Brees and the boys, but I wouldn't use them!

New Orleans has a pretty good matchup themselves, but the Tampa 'D' has been playing better the last several weeks.  Obviously, you roll with Brees, and in the receiving corp, Brandin Cooks is in your lineup too as a WR-2.  Michael Thomas is major question mark, with a foot injury.  Check on his status Sunday, but at least he did practice Friday, so that's a good sign.  If he can't go, Cooks is an even better play than he already is.  Willie Snead will benefit if Thomas sits, but if he plays, then Snead will still get his, to a lesser degree.  Snead is just a WR-3 or flex, though, as he's been hit or miss all year--he's very touchdown dependent!  In the backfield, Mark Ingram is dealing with a knee and a mild cae of turf toe, yikes!  He battled through it last week, but was not nearly as effective as normal.  I think he's a risky play here, especially with Tim Hightower also getting his share of carries.  I'd lean on sitting Ingram, but if you need him, he did at least practice 2 days this week.  Hightower's value will soar if Ingram can't play.  The problem with Ingram and Thomas, is that the Saints play in the late-afternoon window, so you'll really need to be on the injury report Sunday morning, to try to see what info might come out about them early.  At tight end, Coby Fleener has been a royal pain all season, but he could come through, if you need him.  The Saints' defense, by the way, should be benched!


For L.A., they have a pretty good matchup in front of them, with which to do something, but it will depend on if Jared Goff can come through.  Atlanta has given up the 2nd-most passing touchdowns in the league, so it does set up well for him.  I wouldn't risk using Goff, but reciever Kenny Britt is a must-start WR-3 or flex, as far as I'm concerned.  It may seem ballsy to say, but he has 10 or more fantasy points in 4 of his last 5, so he has been getting it done.  Without top corner, Desmond Trufant, the Falcons have really suffered on the back end.  I wouldn't risk using Tavon Austin or Brian Quick here though.  Don't forget about tight end Lance Kendricks, and yes he's been hit or miss, but he could play a factor here.  RB Todd Gurley should, should I say, be able to make some hay here....please Todd will you???  The Falcons' run defense has been giving it up most of the year, so if there was a week to use Gurley, this is it.  I understand if you don't trust him, though, because how can we for Pete's Sake??  The Rams' defense is an intriguing play at home, but I wouldn't risk using them against the Falcons.

The big question for the ATL, is can Julio Jones play?  He's dealing with turf toe, and he hasn't practiced at all, except for doing some light drills on the side.  Obviously, you play him if he goes, but keep a close eye on injury reports up until kickoff.  Once again, it's a late start, so that makes it a quandary, but hopefully some information will come out early in the day.  Taylor Gabriel will be a decent play this week, and he'll really be a good play if Jones sits.  Gabriel is a flex play or WR-3 if you need it.  Mohamed Sanu is out this week, thank goodness.  I think Atlanta will lean on the run in this one, especially if Jones can't play.  Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are both good starts this week, and I could totally see them using Coleman as a receiver a lot this week, which they've done in the past.  Use Freeman as your RB-1 and Coleman as an RB-2 or flex.  The Falcons' defense is a decent start this week, against the rookie Goff.


Well this is always a fun matchup when these two meet, especially since the "Fail Mary" a few years back.  For Seattle, it's a great matchup, as the Packers' defense has struggled all year.  For what it's worth, it may snow, but Seattle is used to playing in bad weather.  You're starting Russell Wilson for sure, and I think he'll have a solid outing.  Thomas Rawls should have a solid game too, as the Pack can be run on and just look what he did to Carolina last week!  He's a sure-fire RB-1.  In the pass game, you're obviously using tight end Jimmy Graham, as he's been the second-best TE to Travis Kelce, and there's no shame in that!  WR Doug Baldwin is a solid play here, of course, too.  He's a WR-1 now or 2.  The other guys are too risky.  The Seahawks' defense will be without Earl Thomas, but you can still start them, despite the fact that Green Bay will score some points.

If you've been watching, you know that this isn't the same-old Seattle 'D', and as we said, safety Earl Thomas is done for the year.  I think Aaron Rodgers and company will be fine moving the ball through the air, as we all know they don't run it much these days!  Use Rodgers for sure, and as for the receivers, I'm not totally scared of any of them.  Rodgers makes so many random plays out of context and off script, that anything can happen.  I'd still use Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb, if you need him.  I actually think Cobb could have a big game, as he should avoid coverage from Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.  The tight ends here are too risky to use.  With the run game being so limited and often non-existent, I wouldn't use James Starks, Ty Montgomery, or Christine Michael.  Avoid the whole mess.  Avoid the Packers' defense as well!


For Dallas, it's been quite a year, and you're rolling with Ezekiel Elliott as always!  The guy is just a freak!  Dak Prescott will have his hands full again, as he gets a tough Giants' pass defense.  It's hard to sit him, so if you need him then fine, but he could come up smaller once again here.  He does take off and run it though at times, so that helps.  I'd start a lot of guys over Prescott this week though.  At receiver, Dez Bryant will have his hands full against Janoris Jenkins or Dominique Rogers-Cromartie obviously, but you can't sit him.  He's more of a WR-2 this week probably, but roll with him regardless.  Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are complementary pieces, and Beasley is the better play, no doubt in a PPR.  Tight end Jason Witten is a tough customer and should be relied on in this one.  He's been a monster against the Giants in his career.  Start him if you need to.  Don't use the Cowboys' 'D', as they're nothing special.

For N.Y., it's a decent matchup and definitely not scary for Odell Beckham.  Use him for sure!  Running mate Sterling Shepard has been quiet the past couple weeks, but I still like him as a WR-3 or flex.  RB Rashad Jennings is a good start as well, so use him if you need him as a RB-2.  Dallas can be run on.  Eli Manning should be fine here, even though he hasn't been great lately, and he always plays tough against the 'Boys!  The Dallas defense isn't a shutdown 'D', so he should find room to throw.  A lot is on the line here for the Giants, so you know they'll bring their A-game!  Neither of the tight ends should be considered here.  The Giants' defense should be on the bench too!


For Baltimore, they've been clicking a little better lately on offense, and they should be able to move the ball against the Patriots.  Their defense is not a scary shutdown type of 'D'.  Usually, Bill Belichick likes to try to take away a key cog of the opposition's offense.  Will he try to shut down Steve Smith or will it be some other player or facet?  Regardless, I think you start Smith as a WR-3 at the worst.  Joe Flacco can be used here too, if you need him.  Mike Wallace is a boom or bust type of receiver, but he could get behind the New England 'D' and make a play.  He's no more than a flex for me.  The running back touches will still be split between Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon.  West is okay as a flex, while I actually like Dixon a little more this week, because he's a better pass-catching back, and I think they'll be playing from behind.  Tight end Dennis Pitta had a monstrous game last week, and while I don't think he'll repeat that, he's a guy to consider here, if you need someone.  The Ravens' defense is very good, especially against the run, but you can't use them against Tom Brady and company.

For New England, you're starting Brady obviously, and wideout Julian Edelman is also a no-brainer.  Baltimore's strength is against the run, so I think the Pats will throw it A LOT!  Malcolm Mitchell could make some plays again this week, and he's worth a flex.  I wouldn't risk it on Chris Hogan.  Danny Amendola suffered a high-ankle sprain, so forget him.  Tight end Marty Bennett has the job all to himself with Gronk out, so use him if you need him.  It's so weird though, that he seems to do worse when Rob Gronkowski is bizarre!  At running back, I think James White and Dion Lewis will each catch some balls, if New England does indeed decide to strike through the air more than normal.  The problem obviously is that they could end up splitting the workload.  I think each is no more than a flex because of that.  LeGarrette Blount is not someone to avoid here, despite the poor matchup.  I think he'll still get a decent amount of carries, and he could obviously punch in a TD.  If they're ahead like I think they will be, he could serve as the closer as usual too.  Blount is only behind Ezekiel Elliott for most carries in the league, so that's a big statistic to keep in mind.  The Pats' 'D' is just okay, and if you need them, use them.

Well, that's that.  Good luck in the playoffs and may the fantasy gods be on your side!

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