Week 17 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
Ben Roethlisberger should have another strong week at Miami, while Chad Ochocinco will likely be the latest victim for Darrelle Revis. Our Jamey Eisenberg shares his recommendations in his Start 'Em and Sit 'Em.
Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at the best and worst matchups from around the NFL and how they might affect lineup decisions for your Fantasy Football team. We are not in the business of stating the obvious, so you won't be reading here why you need to start Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson or any other top-tier players.
In a perfect world, Ben Roethlisberger would be heading into Week 17 with a playoff spot locked up and possibly resting like some of his peers around the league. But that's not the case for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has to win at Miami and get help to make the playoffs. For Roethlisberger, he kind of likes this challenge and wants to see how it plays out.
"Anytime you at least have a chance to get in you like that position," Roethlisberger said in a conference call this week.
We expect Roethlisberger to do his part against the Dolphins, and he's our Start of the Week. This is a great matchup for him.
Miami has allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in four of the past five games against Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 12, Tom Brady in Week 13, Vince Young in Week 15 and Matt Schaub last week. Only David Garrard in Week 14 failed to take advantage of this Dolphins secondary over the past month.
Roethlisberger has been a great Fantasy option all season. He has a career-high 4,108 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and he has nine games with at least 18 Fantasy points. He's also pretty good under pressure.
Go back to last year's Super Bowl when he rallied the Steelers to a game-winning drive against the Cardinals with a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. This year, he passed for 503 yards and three touchdowns in Week 15 against Green Bay to end Pittsburgh's five-game losing streak.
The Steelers need Roethlisberger this week -- as do Fantasy owners -- and look for him to come through.
"He's got a steely resolve," coach Mike Tomlin said in a conference call. "He's a competitor, and he doesn't mind standing in there and taking calculated risks. It's part of his makeup."
Sit of the Week
There was some good smack talk on Twitter this week between Chad Ochocinco and Darrelle Revis. It was a fun back and forth.
Here's a snippet from @OGOchoCinco and @revis24 ...
From Revis on Tuesday: Good morning world. I just woke up from this crazy dream. @OGOchoCinco came to Revis Island and disappeared.
From Ochocinco on Wednesday: You might own Revis Island, but remember it is located in Ochocinco's World. We will give people their money's worth.
The trash talk is good, but the show might not be that great. Ochocinco might not play a full game since the Bengals could be resting for the playoffs. But even if Ochocinco gets his wish and plays four quarters, Revis will shut him down, which is why Ochocinco is the Sit of the Week.
We've said this all season, but Revis has an impressive resume. Already this season he has shut down Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Randy Moss, Steve Smith of Carolina, Terrell Owens (twice), Antonio Bryant, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne.
Ochocinco has a touchdown in four games in a row, but that streak should end this week. The Jets have only allowed five touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and none since Week 11. Ted Ginn Jr. in Week 5, Lee Evans in Week 6, Mike Sims-Walker in Week 10 and Wes Welker in Week 11 are the only receivers to reach double figures in Fantasy points against the Jets this year.
We like the way Ochocinco has played this year, and his showboating and smack talk is second to none. But Revis is the best cover corner in the NFL, and he's going to win this battle.
If you can sit Ochocinco this week, that's the right move to make.
|Starts that made us look good|
|Player||Stats||Fantasy Points||Week 16 Start %|
|Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI||322 pass yards, 3 TDs, INT, 29 rush yards||28||77%|
|Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR||206 rush yards, TD, 16 rec. yards||23||54%|
|Ryan Grant, RB, GB||97 rush yards, 2 TDs||21||83%|
|Sits that made us look good|
|Matt Hasselbeck, QB, SEA||198 pass yards, TD, 4 INTs||5||16%|
|Reggie Wayne, WR, IND||33 rec. yards||3||81%|
|Terrell Owens, WR, BUF||39 rec. yards||3||61%|
|Starts that made us look bad|
|Vince Young, QB, TEN||89 pass yards, 2 INTs, 40 rush yards, TD, fumble||7||23%|
|Jason Snelling, RB, ATL||68 rush yards||6||34%|
|Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG||1 rush yard||0||65%|
|Sits that made us look bad|
|Jay Cutler, QB, CHI||273 pass yards, 4 TDs, INT, 10 rush yards||33||27%|
|Jason Witten, TE, DAL||117 rec. yards||11||76%|
|Greg Olsen, TE, CHI||47 rec. yards, TD||10||51%|
|Our favorite Week 16 sleeper pick was ... Roddy White, who had 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns, which was good for 25 Fantasy points.|
Brett Favre (vs. NYG): Favre played great in the second
half last week at Chicago and should do well again this week. He
finished with 321 yards, two touchdowns and a fumble against the Bears,
and he has a favorable opponent with the Giants, who appeared to give up
on defense against Carolina last week. The Giants have allowed 10
passing touchdowns in the past five games, and Favre has been amazing at
home. In seven games, he is averaging 284 passing yard with 17
touchdowns and two interceptions. This is a must-win game for the
Vikings if they want to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and Favre will
play well in what could be his final regular-season game.
Alex Smith (at STL): The Rams have struggled in pass defense all season, and the past two weeks are a good indication things won't improve in the season finale. Matt Schaub and Kurt Warner each got at least 20 Fantasy points in the past two games, and both passed for more than 300 yards. St. Louis has allowed five quarterbacks to reach at least 20 Fantasy points, and Smith should finish the season strong. He passed for 230 yards and a touchdown last week against Detroit and has at least 15 Fantasy points in four of his past six games.
Eli Manning (at MIN): The Vikings have struggled in pass defense in three of the past four games. Kurt Warner in Week 13, Matt Moore in Week 15 and Jay Cutler in Week 16 each passed for at least 270 yards and three touchdowns. Only Carson Palmer in Week 14 failed to do well against Minnesota in this recent stretch. The Vikings have allowed 12 touchdowns in the past five games and could be without Antoine Winfield (foot) this week. Manning was a disappointment in Week 16 against Carolina, but he still has four games with at least 19 Fantasy points in his past six outings. Look for him to play well based on how bad the Vikings have looked recently.
Jay Cutler (at DET): Cutler had his best game of the season last week against Minnesota with 273 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He should give Chicago fans some hope with another good game to close what has been a miserable season. The Lions are terrible in pass defense with 10 quarterbacks getting at least 19 Fantasy points this year, including Cutler in Week 4 when he threw two touchdowns and ran for another in Chicago. The Lions have allowed eight touchdown passes in the past five games, and Cutler should do well even with Johnny Knox (ankle) out and Devin Hester (calf) limited.
Donovan McNabb (at DAL): McNabb struggled the last time he faced the Cowboys in Week 9 when he passed for 227 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and he doesn't have a great history against Dallas. But I'll take my chances with McNabb in a game where the Eagles are playing for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. McNabb has at least 20 Fantasy points in his past three games, and he hasn't had fewer than 16 Fantasy points since the game against the Cowboys. With all the quarterbacks potentially resting this week with playoffs spots locked up, look for McNabb to finish as a Top 10 Fantasy option.
Sleeper alert: Matt Ryan (at TB): What toe injury? Ryan has played well the past two games after missing two games with an injured toe, with four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Jets and Buffalo. Ryan was hurt in the first matchup with Tampa Bay in Week 12, and he had no touchdowns and four interceptions against the Bucs in two games last season. But Ryan looks ready to finish the season strong. In his last three full games with the Giants in Week 11, the Jets and Bills, Ryan has two games with at least 21 Fantasy points, six touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bucs have also allowed 26 passing touchdowns on the season. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Matt Hasselbeck (vs. TEN), Derek Anderson (vs. JAC), Chad Henne (vs. PIT), Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. IND) and Josh Freeman (vs. ATL).
Drew Brees (at CAR): Let's be clear, if this was a normal
week, you would never sit Brees even with a tough matchup. He's too
good. But he's not going to play a full game since the Saints have
clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Brees also struggled against the
Panthers in their first meeting in Week 9 with 330 passing yards, one
touchdown and one interception. He is one of several quarterbacks to
have a difficult time with Carolina this year. The Panthers have limited Eli Manning, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Brees to
one touchdown or less, and they have allowed only 14 passing touchdowns
with 21 interceptions. Since Brees might not see much action, keep him
reserved to be safe.
Joe Flacco (at OAK): Flacco is worth starting if you're dealing with a scenario of a quarterback who could rest due to playoff implications, but we don't think Flacco will post outstanding stats. The Raiders have struggled with quarterbacks recently, allowing Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger and Jason Campbell to pass for multiple touchdowns in three of their past five games. But Campbell is the only quarterback to achieve that feat in Oakland this year, as the Raiders have limited Philip Rivers, Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer to one passing touchdown or less at home. And Flacco has struggled on the road recently with three touchdowns, six interceptions and a fumble in his past four games away from Baltimore. Look for Flacco to do plenty of handing off to Ray Rice and Willis McGahee as the Ravens run over the Raiders on their way to a playoff berth.
Jason Campbell (at SD): Campbell isn't worth considering as a starting Fantasy option in any scenario this week. The Redskins have given up and likely won't show much interest going to the West Coast for this season finale. Campbell has passed for less than 200 yards in each of the past two games against the Giants and Dallas with one touchdown and three interceptions, and that was at home. The Chargers might be resting plenty of starters on defense, but you can't count on Campbell in this matchup. Washington is also dealing with plenty of injuries on offense, mainly at running back and offensive line, but Campbell also missed wide receiver Devin Thomas (ankle) last week.
Matt Cassel (at DEN): Cassel would like to forget the last time he faced the Broncos. It was Week 13, and Cassel was horrible with 84 passing yards and two interceptions. He was even benched in favor of Brodie Croyle. While Cassel will do better in the rematch -- he didn't have Dwayne Bowe in that game due to his suspension -- you can't count on him. The Broncos are fighting for a playoff spot, and their secondary has been the strength of their defense. Cassel has also struggled on the road with six touchdowns and four interceptions in six games while averaging only 185 passing yards. He's also been sacked 42 times, so Elvis Dumervil will be coming after him.
Carson Palmer (at NYJ): Even if Palmer was expected to play a full game he would be an unfavorable starting option. The Jets have been stellar in pass defense all season, allowing just eight touchdowns with 16 interceptions. Chad Henne in Week 5 is the only quarterback to pass for multiple touchdowns against the Jets, who have shut down Matt Schaub, Tom Brady twice, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Look for Palmer to rest since the Bengals are looking ahead to the playoffs, and he's also struggled on the road this year with nine touchdowns and six interceptions while averaging only 211 passing yards in seven games.
Bust alert: Peyton Manning (at BUF): Here's our advice with Manning, Brees, Tom Brady (at HOU), Philip Rivers (vs. WAS), Aaron Rodgers (at ARI) and Kurt Warner (vs. GB) since all could be resting due to playoff implications. You have to decide if any of these quarterbacks will be better in a quarter or a half than whoever else you have on your roster. We always err on the side of caution, and most of these guys might not do much in their respective matchups. Manning already showed us last week against the Jets that he and the Colts won't play much against the Bills. Even with Buffalo dealing with plenty of injuries in their secondary, Manning could post limited stats. Again, it's a risk to use any of these quarterbacks this week, so proceed with caution.
Jerome Harrison (vs. JAC): The Jaguars run defense has
fallen apart recently, and last week the Patriots ran all over them with
193 rushing yards and a touchdown from their running backs. Since Week
8, five running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points, and
Harrison is playing too well to keep on the bench. He followed up his
monster game at Kansas City in Week 15 (286 rushing yards and three
touchdowns) with another outstanding game against Oakland last week with
148 rushing yards and a touchdown with a fumble. The Browns are
dedicated to giving him the ball with 73 carries in the past two weeks,
and he should do well in this matchup at home.
Knowshon Moreno (vs. KC): Moreno's best game of the season was Week 13 at Kansas City when he had 86 rushing yards and two touchdowns for 20 Fantasy points. That was the last time he reached double figures in Fantasy points, but he should end the regular season on a high note. The Chiefs are terrible in run defense, and only the Giants in Week 4 failed to have a running back reach double figures in Fantasy points against Kansas City this year. They have allowed 18 touchdowns to opposing running backs, including seven in the past five games, and Moreno should do his part to help the Broncos fight for a playoff spot in this matchup.
Rashard Mendenhall (at MIA): The Dolphins defense has dealt with several injuries this year to Jason Ferguson (knee) and Will Allen (knee), and now Channing Crowder (foot) is out for this game. His loss will hurt Miami's run defense, and Mendenhall should take advantage. Even with Crowder, the Dolphins have struggled against the run, allowing an opposing running back to reach double figures in Fantasy points in eight of the past nine games and seven in a row. Last week, Arian Foster had 97 rushing yards and a touchdown in Miami. Mendenhall has eight games this season with double figures in Fantasy points, and he should make it nine based on this matchup.
Matt Forte (at DET): We all know about Forte's struggles this year, and he's regarded as one of the biggest Fantasy busts in 2009. But his best game of the season was Week 4 against Detroit when he ran for 121 yards and a touchdown, and he has a chance to duplicate that performance this week. Forte has dominated the Lions in his career with two 100-yard games and three touchdowns in three meetings. Detroit has allowed seven rushing touchdowns in the past three games, and 14 running backs have reached double figures in Fantasy points against the Lions this year.
Jonathan Stewart (vs. NO): You'll have to check the status of DeAngelo Williams (ankle), but we don't expect him to play. That should allow Stewart to close the season with another big game, and he will have a chance to achieve one of our predictions from the preseason that he would finish with more Fantasy points than Williams. Going into Week 17, Williams is at 166 points in a standard-scoring league, and Stewart is right behind him at 160. He has been dominant recently with three 100-yard games and three touchdowns in his past four outings. Last week at the Giants, Stewart had 28 carries for 206 yards and a touchdown, and the Saints will likely be resting plenty of starters on defense. New Orleans has also allowed six rushing touchdowns in its past five games.
Sleeper alert: Fred Jackson (vs. IND): The Colts are probably going to rest plenty of starters on defense, and that should allow Jackson to run well in the season finale. Indianapolis has allowed a running back to reach double figures in Fantasy points in five of its past six games, and last week Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene combined for 200 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Colts. Jackson has three games with double figures in Fantasy points in his past five games, and he should well against the Colts backups. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Donald Brown (at BUF), Mike Tolbert (vs. WAS), Lynell Hamilton (at CAR), Maurice Morris (vs. CHI), Jason Snelling (at TB), Cadillac Williams (vs. ATL), Arian Foster (vs. NE), Brandon Jackson (at ARI) and Justin Forsett (vs. TEN).
Ahmad Bradshaw (at MIN): Bradshaw is getting the start with Brandon Jacobs (knee) out, but don't expect Bradshaw to run well in
this matchup. The Vikings are still tremendous in run defense despite
their recent woes on defense, and they have done well at home. Only
three running backs (Ryan Grant in Week 4, Ray Rice in Week 6 and Justin Forsett
in Week 11) have reached double figures in Fantasy points at Minnesota.
The Vikings have also allowed only three running backs to run for
touchdowns (Rice, Forsett and Jonathan Stewart)
against them this season. With Minnesota fighting for the No. 2 seed in
the playoffs, the Vikings will come ready to play, and Bradshaw should
only be used as a flex option this week.
LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. WAS): With Tomlinson's injury history in the playoffs the past two seasons, there's no reason to think the Chargers will play him much in this matchup. You can expect Tomlinson to be resting for most of this game if he even dresses. Don't expect Darren Sproles to play much also, which is why we have Mike Tolbert listed as a sleeper. He has the chance to see double digits in carries, and he should take advantage of a listless Washington defense.
Beanie Wells (vs. GB): The Cardinals will go all out in this game only if the Vikings lose to the Giants earlier in the day, but Wells still has a tough matchup even with the Packers expected to rest their starters on defense. Green Bay has only allowed three running backs to score rushing touchdowns this season, and only seven running backs have reached double figures in Fantasy points. Wells has been solid recently with three touchdowns in his past three games, but there's a chance he could get limited touches. Based on his matchup and his outlook with the Cardinals possibly resting players, keep Wells reserved if you can. The same goes for Tim Hightower this week.
Cedric Benson (at NYJ): Look for Larry Johnson to get plenty of work this week with the Bengals expected to rest most of their starters. Benson has been given a heavy workload this year and has played through a hip injury in the second half of the season. He also hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 9, and the Jets have done well in run defense recently. Only two running backs have reached double figures in Fantasy points against the Jets, who are going all out to try and earn a spot in the playoffs. The Bengals don't want to risk Benson getting hurt, so don't expect him to get many carries.
Joseph Addai (at BUF): The Colts showed last week that Addai won't get much work in this game. He was limited to six carries against the Jets, although he made the most of it with 40 carries and a touchdown. The Bills are horrible in run defense, which is why we think Donald Brown and even Mike Hart have the chance to be sleepers this week since they will get the majority of touches with Addai on the bench. Addai has been a solid Fantasy option all season, but don't plan on using him in the season finale since he won't get much work in this matchup.
Bust alert: Ryan Grant (at ARI): Grant isn't expected to play much at Arizona since the Packers can't improve their playoff seeding. They could still fall to the No. 6 spot, but that won't impact what they do this week. Look for Green Bay to rest Grant, Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, and the Packers flexed their offensive muscle last week in a 48-10 victory against Seattle to show they are ready for the playoffs. Grant has five touchdowns in his past three games and has been a tremendous Fantasy option all season, but he won't see many touches this week. We like Brandon Jackson and even Ahman Green as a sleeper against the Cardinals.
Santonio Holmes (at MIA): Holmes is having a strong finish
to this season and has proven to be an elite Fantasy option. He has
three games with double figures in Fantasy points in his past five
outings and hasn't had less than seven Fantasy points in his past eight
games. This week, Holmes is going back to his hometown of South Florida,
and he will be looking to put on a show. The Dolphins have struggled in
pass defense all season, and eight wide receivers have scored touchdowns
in the past five weeks against Miami. For the season, the Dolphins have
allowed 15 wide receivers to reach double figures in Fantasy points.
Roddy White (at TB): White played great last week against Buffalo with eight catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and he scored against Tampa Bay in Week 12 with five catches for 57 yards. That was his lone touchdown against the Bucs in his past five meetings, but White should still be a solid Fantasy wide receiver this week. In his past five games on grass, White has 34 catches for 587 yards and four touchdowns, and Tampa Bay has also allowed 18 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year. The Bucs have also allowed 14 wide receivers to reach double figures in Fantasy points.
Calvin Johnson (vs. CHI): Johnson played better than expected last week at San Francisco with seven catches for 96 yards and two carries for 32 yards, but he also lost two fumbles and hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 13 at Cincinnati. This week, despite dealing with issues at quarterback, Johnson should finish the season strong. The Bears have struggled with opposing wide receivers all season (12 have reached double figures in Fantasy points) and will be without standout cornerback Charles Tillman (ribs). Johnson had eight catches for 133 yards in Week 4 at Chicago, and he has 16 catches for 227 yards and a touchdown in his past two meetings with the Bears.
Steve Smith (at MIN): Smith continues to have a breakout season and played well last week against Carolina with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. He has two touchdowns in his past two games and has at least seven Fantasy points in his past seven games. The Vikings have struggled with opposing wide receivers recently, allowing eight touchdowns in their past five games, and standout cornerback Antoine Winfield is dealing with a foot injury. The Giants have a chance to make some plays through the air, and it's clear Smith has become Eli Manning's go-to wide receiver. We also like Hakeem Nicks this week.
Michael Crabtree (at STL): Crabtree played well last week against Detroit with four catches for 68 yards, but he's still looking for his first dominant game. He has two touchdowns in his abbreviated season but no 100-yard games. That could happen this week against the Rams secondary. St. Louis has allowed five wide receivers to reach double figures in Fantasy points in its past two games against Houston and Arizona with three touchdowns over that span. The Rams have allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and 14 have reached double figures in Fantasy points.
Sleeper alert: Devin Aromashodu (at DET): Aromashodu has several things working in his favor this week. He's facing the Lions, who are terrible in pass defense. The Bears are dealing with several injuries at wide receiver with Devin Hester (calf) and Johnny Knox (ankle), which means more targets for Aromashodu. And Aromashodu is playing at a high level right now with two touchdowns in his past three games. He dominated Minnesota last week on Monday night with seven catches for 150 yards and a touchdown, and he should be able to make plenty of plays against Detroit. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Terrell Owens (vs. IND), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (vs. TEN), Mohammed Massaquoi (vs. JAC), Percy Harvin (vs. NYG), Antonio Bryant (vs. ATL) and Mike Wallace (at MIA).
Derrick Mason (at OAK): Look for the Ravens to do plenty of
running in this game to make sure they beat the Raiders and get into the
playoffs. Mason also will be dealing with standout cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, and Mason has been terrible on the road recently. In
his past four road games, Mason has 15 catches for 193 yards and one
touchdown. He also was held to one catch for 3 yards last year against
the Raiders, but he was dealing with an illness prior to that game,
which could have contributed to the poor stat line. He's healthy now,
but this could still be a difficult matchup for him.
Kenny Britt (at SEA): Britt has struggled the past three games, which coincides with Justin Gage coming back from his four-game absence due to a back injury. Britt has five catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns in his past three games against St. Louis, Miami and San Diego after scoring in the three previous games against Houston, Arizona and Indianapolis. While Britt could play well this week since the Seahawks are terrible in pass defense, don't be surprised if the Titans give Chris Johnson close to 40 carries to make sure he gets 2,000 rushing yards and also has a chance at Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 rushing yards set in 1984. That could mean limited chances for Tennessee's passing game.
Donald Driver (at ARI): Driver has disappeared the past three games with eight catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns against Chicago, Pittsburgh and Seattle, and this is not the week to see if he can break the slump. The Packers can't improve on their playoff spot and will likely rest most of their starters, especially since a potential first-round matchup looms with the Cardinals. Be careful with Greg Jennings also, but based on Driver's recent play and his outlook this week, he's the one to keep on your bench.
Dwayne Bowe (at DEN): Bowe has a good history against the Broncos with three games of at least seven catches and 85 yards in four meetings, but he has never scored against Denver. He also hasn't posted great stats in his two past games against Cleveland and Cincinnati since coming back from a four-game suspension with 13 catches for 117 yards and no touchdowns. Bowe will likely see a lot of standout cornerback Champ Bailey, and the Broncos have been stellar in pass defense all season. They haven't allowed a wide receiver to reach double figures in Fantasy points in their past seven games, which includes matchups against Vincent Jackson and Reggie Wayne.
Roy E. Williams (vs. PHI): Even though Williams scored last week against Washington we're still not ready to trust him. He has just two catches for 18 yards in his past two games and only has one game with double figures in Fantasy points in his past six outings. In Week 9 at Philadelphia, Williams had five catches for 75 yards, but the Eagles should be able to contain Williams with their secondary. Tony Romo continues to rely on Miles Austin as his No. 1 target, and Williams is too inconsistent to be considered as a starting Fantasy option.
Bust alert: Marques Colston (at CAR): Colston has two things working against him this week. The Saints might not be playing their starters for a full game since the No. 1 seed in the NFC is already locked up, and he has a tough matchup against the Panthers. Carolina is No. 2 against opposing wide receivers this year based on Fantasy points. They have only allowed four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and just one in the past seven games. In Week 9, Colston was held to one catch for 45 yards against the Panthers. There is a chance Colston could do well in a half or less, but it's a risk since the Saints have nothing to play for this week. You should also be cautious with these wide receivers since they might not play a full game based on resting for the playoffs: Vincent Jackson (vs. WAS), Reggie Wayne (at BUF), Randy Moss (at HOU), Wes Welker (at HOU), Larry Fitzgerald (vs. GB) and Anquan Boldin (vs. GB). Only the Cardinals might go all out if the Vikings lose against the Giants earlier in the day Sunday because that would impact their potential playoff seeding.
Jason Witten (vs. PHI): Witten has salvaged his miserable
season with three 100-yard games in his past five outings heading into
this week. He still has only one touchdown, but he's 46 yards shy of the
second 1,000-yard season of his career. In Week 9, when Witten was still
struggling, he had seven catches for 43 yards at the Eagles, but Witten
has done well against Philadelphia in his career. He's had at least
seven catches in his past four meetings with two 100-yard games, and the
Eagles have allowed the most catches (97) and yards (1,018) to opposing
tight ends this season.
Heath Miller (at MIA): The last time Miller faced the Dolphins in 2006 he had three catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, and it would be nice to see Miller close the season with that type of performance. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 11 at Kansas City, and he has just one game with double figures in Fantasy points in his past five outings. The Dolphins have improved in their coverage of tight ends since struggling earlier in the year, but the Steelers could make plays in the middle of the field, especially with Miami shuffling its linebackers around with Channing Crowder (foot) out. Miller should close the season with a strong performance.
Greg Olsen (at DET): Olsen finally played well Monday night against Minnesota with three catches for 47 yards and his first touchdown since Week 9 against Arizona. He now faces a Lions team that has struggled in pass defense all season, especially against tight ends. Detroit leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns allowed by opposing tight ends, including Olsen in Week 4. He has two touchdowns in his past five meetings with the Lions and should see more targets this week since the Bears have injuries at wide receiver to Devin Hester (calf) and Johnny Knox (ankle).
Sleeper alert: Kevin Boss (at MIN): The Vikings have struggled off and on with tight ends all season. Minnesota has allowed nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and five have reached double figures in Fantasy points this year. Last week, Chicago had two tight ends score against the Vikings with Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark. Boss has at least five Fantasy points in five of his past eight games and should be a reliable target for Eli Manning this week. Some other sleepers to consider this week include Todd Heap (at OAK), Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. NYG), Fred Davis (at SD) and Zach Miller (at CLE).
Dustin Keller (vs. CIN): The Bengals might decide to rest
players in this game, but Keller has disappeared as a quality Fantasy
option in the second half of the season. In his past seven games he has
combined for 18 Fantasy points with no touchdowns. In four of those
games he's had fewer than 35 yards receiving. The Bengals have only
allowed one touchdown to an opposing tight end in their past five games,
which was Antonio Gates in Week 15. But
only two tight ends (Owen Daniels in Week 6 and Zach Miller in Week 11) have reached double figures in Fantasy
points against Cincinnati this season.
David Thomas (at CAR): We can put Jeremy Shockey (toe) in this category also if he plays, but don't expect much from the Saints this week. They could rest most of their regulars with the No. 1 seed in the NFC locked up. Thomas struggled last week against Tampa Bay with five catches for 25 yards, and the Panthers have done a great job in pass defense all season. Carolina has also done well against opposing tight ends with only five touchdowns allowed on the year, and Tony Gonzalez in Week 2 is the only tight end to reach double figures in Fantasy points against the Panthers. Carolina held Shockey to three catches for 26 yards in their first meeting in Week 9, and Thomas did not have a catch.
Zach Miller (vs. BAL): Miller returned last week against Cleveland with nine catches for 110 yards after being out the previous game with a concussion. He has a tougher matchup this week with the Ravens, who are hoping to get safety Ed Reed (groin) back after missing the past four games. Miller, despite the strong game last week, has only one touchdown in his past eight games. He also has questionable quarterback play with Charlie Frye starting for the Raiders, and the Ravens have only allowed two tight ends (Visanthe Shiancoe in Week 6 and Jermichael Finley in Week 13) to reach double figures in Fantasy points this year.
Bust alert: Dallas Clark (at BUF): Obviously we would never recommend benching Clark most weeks, but the Colts aren't going to play a full game against the Bills as they showed last week against the Jets. Now, even if Indianapolis just plays the first quarter or the first half, Clark could still score a touchdown and end up as a productive Fantasy option based on his talent level and role in the offense. It's a risk you would have to take, and it could be worth it with a player of his caliber. But also keep in mind the Bills have not allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end since Week 2, and there's a chance Clark could take a seat very early in this contest. The same applies to Antonio Gates (vs. WAS) and Jermichael Finley (at ARI).
Broncos (vs. KC): The Broncos need to win and get some help to
make the playoffs, and the defense will be geared up for this matchup
behind Pro Bowl-bound standouts in Elvis Dumervil,
Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins. Denver dominated Kansas City in the first meeting in
Week 13 with a defensive touchdown, two interceptions, two sacks and a
fumble recovery. Matt Cassel was limited
to 84 passing yards and the two interceptions, and he has two
touchdowns, four interceptions and two fumbles in his past three road
games. Look for the Broncos to play well at home, and they have at least
one interception in their past five games with eight interceptions over
Other DSTs with good matchups: 49ers (at STL), Titans (at SEA), Bears (at DET) and Panthers (vs. NO)
Giants (at MIN): The Giants defense appeared to give up last week against Carolina, allowing 41 points with no turnovers as Jonathan Stewart (206 rushing yards and a touchdown) and Matt Moore (three touchdown passes) did whatever they wanted in New York. Osi Umenyiora threatened to quit, and embattled defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan came under even more scrutiny. The Giants will struggle to rebound against the Vikings, who looked great on offense in the second half Monday night at Chicago and should be motivated with playoff seeding on the line. Brett Favre only has two interceptions at home this year, and the Vikings average 31 points per game in Minnesota. The Giants offense should be competitive in this game, but the defense, which has been ravaged by injuries, is ready for the offseason.
Jeff Reed (at MIA): Reed has been great for Fantasy owners
at the right time. In his past three games against Cleveland, Green Bay
and Baltimore, Reed has eight field goals and six extra points. He's
reached double figures in Fantasy points in the past two games, and he
should have the chance for another solid game against the Dolphins.
Miami is tied with Oakland for the NFL lead with the most field goals
allowed at 30. They also are among the league leaders in field goal
attempts allowed at 36, and Reed could have plenty of scoring chances
with the Steelers expected to move the ball on offense in this matchup.
Adam Vinatieri (at BUF): Vinatieri returned in Week 16 against the Jets after missing nine games with a knee injury and made one field goal with a blocked extra point. The Colts are expected to rest their starters on offense, which could limit the scoring chances for Vinatieri. He also could deal with weather issues in Buffalo, and the Bills have only allowed 22 field goals this season. They have three games at home this season (Week 2 against Tampa Bay, Week 5 against Cleveland and Week 12 against Miami) where they did not allow a field goal, and Vinatieri could still be dealing with some rust from the layoff due to the injury.
You can email your Fantasy Football questions to DMFantasyFootball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: Start 'Em and Sit 'Em in the subject field. Include your full name, hometown and state, and we'll get to as many as we can. Also, follow me on Twitter @jameyeisenberg.
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