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Week 12: Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em

John Madden

Ahhh Thanksgiving. One of my favorite days of the year. I am going to spare you the “What I am thankful for” introduction because, honestly, it’s a little cheesy. What I will do is list off the top five reasons why Thanksgiving is awesome.

1. Lots and lots of food. No other day of the year encourages you to eat until you want to vomit. You have turkey, chicken, duck, turducken, stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, an assortment of pies, beer, brownies, ice cream and if you’re Greek like my family, a lot of other random foods. You can’t beat it, but just a word of advice – make sure the house has more than one bathroom and a family plumber is always a plus.

2. Food comas. No other holiday makes it acceptable for you to take a nap in someone’s house while company is over. Thanksgiving is so awesome it makes its own rules.

3. Four day weekend. By my calculations it’s the only holiday that is guaranteed to give you a four day weekend every single year. It’s like Albert Pujols hitting .300 and 30 homers because you take it for granted, but when you sit back and think about it you realize how awesome it really is.

4. Black Friday. No I have never participated in any Black Friday festivities, nor do I plan to. I just love the excitement and stories from other people taking part of the rush. People go to mall sleepovers in their pajamas, electronics are listed at ridiculously low prices and people even die in stampedes. It’s ridiculous and it’s one of those things that make you shake your head and say ‘Only in America.’

5. Football, football, football. There’s also that thing called football that’s on TV not once, not twice, but three times every Thanksgiving! Who cares if the games are usually irrelevant (Green Bay-Detroit, Dallas-Oakland…yeesh), football is exciting to watch and anytime you can get together with friends and family, stuff you face, drink a lot of beer and watch football from noon until you pass out, that’s not just a good day, but it’s a great day.


Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Aaron Rodgers (@ DET) Not only is he the top scoring quarterback in fantasy, but he is the top scoring player; he gets the lowly Lions’ defense that has let up the second-most points to quarterbacks this season.
2 Peyton Manning (@ HOU) Was held somewhat in check against the Texans last time out with 2 turnovers and only 1 TD, but he did throw for 318 yards so I think he takes better care of the football this time.
3 Tom Brady (@ NO) Saints’ secondary is banged up so we can expect big numbers from Brady and Co.
4 Drew Brees (vs. NE) Monday night should be a shootout so expect Brees to air it out often to keep up with the Patriots’ offense.
5 Phillip Rivers (vs. KC) Last time against the Chiefs, Rivers had his best fantasy day throwing for 3 TD and 269 yards.
6 Matt Schaub (vs. IND) If the Texans’ offensive line can keep Freeney and Mathis away from Schaub, I think he will have a fine day picking apart the Colts’ makeshift secondary.
7 Brett Favre (vs. CHI) Favre is having an MVP-type season and is facing a Bears’ defense that has let up the 11th-most points to opposing QBs; home game in a dome can’t hurt either.
8 Carson Palmer (vs. CLE) We’re talking about a Browns defense that let Matthew Stafford throw for 422 yards and 5 TD last week. I think Palmer will be just fine.
9 Matt Hasselbeck (@ STL) Rams don’t generate much of a pass rush, which is good news for Hasselbeck; threw for 3 TD and 279 yards in week 1 against the Rams.
10 Kurt Warner (@ TEN) Gotta love the matchup against the NFL’s worst pass defense, but Warner’s head injury makes him a bit of a risk.
11 Matt Ryan (vs. TB) Ryan just misses out on top 10 status despite a great matchup against the Bucs defense; should keep the turnovers down, but Falcons could get up big and run the ball.
12 Eli Manning (@ DEN) Better matchup than it looks; with both Jacobs and Bradshaw injured, Eli will be needed to throw the ball more and has three-straight double digit fantasy games.
13 Alex Smith (vs. JAC) Has scored double-digit points in four of his five starts and gets to face a Jaguars’ defense that has let up the 6th-most points to QBs this season.
14 Tony Romo (vs. OAK) Romo is battling back issues and the Raiders’ defense is better than people think; could see a lot of rushing yards from the Cowboys in this one.
15 Ben Roethlisberger (@ BAL) Another QB with a head injury; didn’t love the matchup before it and definitely don’t love it now.
16 Donovan McNabb (@ WAS) Redskins have the NFL’s top pass defense and have let up over 200 yards to a quarterback three times and two touchdowns just once.
17 Jay Cutler (@ MIN) Cutler will be under pressure all game and seeing as he loves to throw interceptions, we can expect a few more.
18 Daunte Culpepper (vs. GB) Stafford is out so Culpepper gets to face a banged up Packers defense on a short week; if Calvin Johnson doesn’t play, Culpepper’s value takes a hit.
19 David Garrard (@ SF) Doesn’t throw for a lot of yards, so if he doesn’t score a TD he has a mediocre day; he’s facing a 49ers defense that has let up fewer TD (10) than interceptions (11) this season.
20 Vince Young (vs. ARI) Look who found his way into the top 20! Young has turned the Titans’ season over with four straight wins and in those games Young has scored 12, 13, 12 and 13 points.

Running Backs

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Chris Johnson (vs. ARI) When you’re disappointed with just 15 points you know you’re one of the best running backs in the biz.
2 Ricky Williams (@ BUF) Thanks to Ronnie Brown’s injury, Ricky finds himself in the two-hole this week; he is getting all the carries and is coming off a monster, 3 TD performance. Oh, and Buffalo has let up the most rushing yards, TDs and fantasy points to RBs this season.
3 Adrian Peterson (vs. CHI) Adrian finds himself at #3 for the second-straight week, but you’re still getting 100+ yards and a score from this guy more often than not every week.
4 Maurice Jones-Drew (@ SF) MJD has scored a TD in five straight games; let’s make it six thanks to the 49ers’ defense that has let up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season.
5 Steven Jackson (vs. SEA) Jackson is a workhorse and he gets to face a Seahawks’ defense that has let up an average of 17.5 points per game to opposing RBs.
6 Thomas Jones (vs. CAR) The Panthers’ seventh-worst rush defense will get a steady dose of Thomas Jones on Sunday; Jones has managed double-digit fantasy points in every game but two this season.
7 DeAngelo Williams (@ NYJ) Williams gets stronger as the season progresses and the Panthers will need to run the ball on the road if they want to win this game.
8 Ryan Grant (@ DET) Grant is coming off a big game against SF (129 yards, 1 TD); this week he faces a Lions’ defense that has let up the 8th-most fantasy points to RBs this season.
9 Cedric Benson (vs. CLE) Benson should play this week, but beware because if there are any questions about his health they will sit him because they should beat the Browns; of course, that’s what they said last week.
10 Jason Snelling (vs. TB) Snelling’s 2-TD performance wasn’t a fluke and the Bucs have the league’s worst run defense, so expect a healthy amount of carries, which means plenty of scoring opportunities.
11 Frank Gore (vs. JAC) The 49ers should be in this game until the end, which means fantasy owners can expect Gore to get back up to 15-20 carries in this game; he has four-straight games with 10+ points.
12 Marion Barber (vs. OAK) Expect the Cowboys to run all over the Raiders’ weak run defense; Barber is coming off a nice game (20 carries, 99 yards) and should find the end zone at least once on Thanksgiving.
13 LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. KC) LT has been rather productive recently with 21 and 13 points in his last two games; a bruised hip may limit him if the Chargers get up big.
14 Joseph Addai (@ HOU) Addai has scored in six of his last seven games and had his best game against Houston (22 points) in week 9.
15 Ray Rice (vs. PIT) The Steelers haven’t let up 100 yards rushing to a team this season, but they have allowed 41 receptions and two touchdowns out of the backfield; look for Rice to do most of his damage that way.
16 LeSean McCoy (vs. WAS) McCoy has stepped up nicely in the starter’s role and now has double-digit games in every game he has started (14, 15, 11, 13); the Eagles will have to establish a run game because the Redskins have the league’s best pass defense.
17 Jamal Charles (@ SD) He is the only one getting carries in that backfield and no way the Chargers’ defense is as tough against the run as the Steelers; look for Charles to get near 20 touches and 100 total yards.
18 Justin Forsett (@ STL) Forsett managed to have a decent game against a tough Vikings’ defense thanks to his ability as a receiver out of the backfield (8 rec, 80 yards); the Rams’ defense is much worse against RBs as they have let up the 4th-most points.
19 Kevin Smith (@ GB) The Packers’ defense is the third toughest on opposing running backs in fantasy, but with injuries and Smith’s value as a receiver I think he will get enough touches to provide top 20 numbers.
20 Rashard Mendenhall (@ BAL) The Ravens are not as stingy against the run as they used to be so Mendenhall could see some success; however, they still are the Ravens and never make it easy on opposing running backs.
21 Brandon Jacobs (@ DEN) Jacobs is banged up and has not really produced like a top 15 RB as many projected; upside is that the Broncos have struggled against the run recently and Jacobs won’t have Bradshaw this week to vulture any touchdowns.
22 Laurence Maroney (@ NO) Maroney continues to be the beneficiary of short TD runs and now has a TD in five straight games; with Morris getting ready to come back you can expect this to stop, but until he plays in a game you have to consider Maroney as a very solid flex play.
23 Matt Forte (@ MIN) Forte draws a horrible matchup this week as the Vikings have the toughest defense on opposing running backs this season; all of Forte’s points will be through the air as he has looked awful running the ball this year.
24 Tim Hightower (@ TEN) Hightower could have a big day as a receiver out of the backfield this week because the Titans are vulnerable to pass-catching running backs; the Titans have allowed 60 receptions to RBs this season, which is the 4th-most in the NFL.
25 Pierre Thomas (vs. NE) Thomas is no lock to get touchdowns anymore with the passing game and Mike Bell getting in the way; the Patriots are also the 9th-toughest against opposing RBs this season.
26 Beanie Wells (@ TEN) Wells is starting to come on strong as he has averaged 13 carries over his last five games; in those five games he has scored double-digit points three times.
27 Steve Slaton (vs. IND) Slaton is being used primarily as a receiving back now, which limits his TD potential; the Colts have allowed only 2 receiving TDs to RBs this season.
28 Knowshon Moreno (vs. NYG) Moreno has  been running the ball well, but hasn’t been able to find the end zone enough to warrant him a must-start.
29 Jonathan Stewart (@ NYJ) Stewart has been very streaky this season and against an above-average Jets’ run defense it’s tough to trust him to score a TD.
30 Rock Cartwright (@ PHI) If this were a best name’s list he would be #1, but it’s not and he’s facing a tough Eagles’ run defense.
31 Bernard Scott (vs. CLE) This ranking jumps up to the top-15 if Benson is out because Scott looked great last week against the Raiders.
32 Cadillac Williams (@ ATL) Atlanta isn’t great against the run, but they will be up big and force Tampa Bay to throw the ball.
33 Felix Jones (vs. OAK) Oakland’s run defense is very friendly to running backs and with Jones getting more work, he could break off a big run for a TD.
34 Mike Bell (vs. NE) Bell has become a garbage-time player, but still has value because he does occasionally vulture a TD from Thomas.
35 Darren Sproles (vs. KC) The Chiefs have allowed 3 receiving TDs to opposing RBs and that’s Sproles’ game.
36 Fred Jackson (vs. MIA) With Lynch hurt, Jackson will get most of the work; unfortunately the Bill’s o-line is awful and Jackson isn’t the same guy we saw in weeks 1-3.
37 Jamal Lewis (@ CIN) Lewis is the #1 guy in Cleveland, but you cannot rely on him anymore because (1) the offense is bad and (2) Chris Jennings is starting to cut into Lewis’ already limited workload.
38 Correll Buckhalter (vs. NYG) The Broncos will have to run the ball if Orton isn’t healthy and Buckhalter could benefit with some extra carries.
39 Justin Fargas (@ DAL) You can’t trust anyone on the Raiders’ offense.
40 Marshawn Lynch (vs. MIA) Lynch is banged up and even if he wasn’t take a look at his fantasy numbers this season (4, 11, 7, 10, 4, 4, -1). Yuck.

Wide Receivers

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Randy Moss (@ NO) No Darrelle Revis, no problem.
2 Andre Johnson (vs. IND) Is probably the most physically gifted wide receiver in the NFL and he is going to be covered by a rookie CB.
3 Larry Fitzgerald (@ TEN) Another great matchup for one of the game’s best WRs; the Titans have let up a league-high 20 TDs to wide receivers.
4 Vincent Jackson (vs. KC) You hear that? That’s Jackson breathing a sigh of relief that he doesn’t have to face another good pass defense until week 17.
5 Reggie Wayne (@ HOU) Last time out, Wayne was held to just 64 yards on 8 catches; you can’t contain him twice in three weeks.
6 Roddy White (vs. TB) Tampa Bay will have their hands full with White, at least until the Falcons are up by 21 points and running the ball every play.
7 Chad Ochocinco (vs. CLE) Ochocinco will take it upon himself to make sure that the Bengals don’t drop a second game to bottom-of-the-barrel team; you can expect 100 yards and at least 1 TD.
8 Calvin Johnson (vs. GB) If he plays, he will have a great day against a banged up Packers defense; if he doesn’t play then he won’t.
9 Greg Jennings (@ DET) Jennings finally broke out of his slump and scored one of his trademark long TDs; Detroit doesn’t pressure the QB much, so expect Rodgers to find Jennings for another highlight TD on Thanksgiving.
10 Wes Welker (@ NO) Welker is coming off a monster 15-catch 192-yard performance against the Jets; expect less catches, but maybe he finds the end zone this time.
11 Sidney Rice (vs. CHI) Rice is so good that he even caught a TD pass from Vikings’ QB Tavaris Jackson last week; not as easy as it sounds fellas.
12 Mike Sims-Walker (@ SF) MSW is a must-start because he is Garrard’s favorite target, especially in the red zone, which translates to a lot of TDs; he has 3 TDs in his last 3 games.
13 Donald Driver (@ DET) There will be plenty of fantasy points to go around for the Packers’ offense on Thursday afternoon and Driver will get his fair share.
14 Anquan Boldin (@ TEN) Seems like Boldin is finally clicking with Warner; he has 16 catches for 208 yards and 1 TD in his last two games and gets to face the NFL’s worst pass defense this week.
15 T.J. Houshmandzadeh (@ STL) Housh hasn’t really emerged as Seattle’s #1 pass-catching option like many of us had hoped, but he is facing a weak secondary and should be in sync with Hasselbeck all afternoon.
16 Marques Colston (@ NE) Colston will get his chances, but you just don’t know who will get the red zone targets; the last two weeks it has been Meacham (3 TDs) so the uncertainty knocks him down a couple spots.
17 Steve Smith (@ DEN) The Giants’ RBs are banged up so Eli will have to air it out more than normal; look for Smith to continue his great season and show why he is their #1 WR.
18 DeSean Jackson (vs. WAS) The Redskins let up two big plays to Brandon Marshall two weeks ago and that is McNabb’s and Jackson’s go-to play; I think they can break one big one and salvage their fantasy days against a tough pass defense.
19 Nate Burleson (@ STL) Burleson caught 7 balls for 74 yards and a TD in week 1 when these two teams met.
20 Steve Smith (@ NYJ) Smith gets the tough task of facing Revis this week and we have seen what he can do against Randy Moss and Smith is no Moss.
21 Hines Ward (@ BAL) Ward would be ranked higher if Big Ben wasn’t coming off concussion symptoms.
22 Brandon Marshall (vs. NYG) A hurt Kyle Orton hurts Marshall’s value, which is why he’s not in the top 20; Marshall has scored less than five points in three of his last five games.
23 Michael Crabtree (vs. JAC) Crabtree scored his first TD last week and with no Rashead Mathis in the Jaguars’ secondary this week, he should be able to find similar success; the Jags let up the 2nd-most points to WRs.
24 Miles Austin (vs. OAK) Gone are the days where Austin will get you 100+ yards and two scores, but we never really expected him to; he should be able to roam the field and expose some mismatches to make himself a worthy flex play.
25 Donnie Avery (vs. SEA) Avery has come on strong as of late with 18 and 6 fantasy points in his last two weeks; unfortunately he has Kyle Boller throwing to him, but Seattle’s pass defense has been getting torched by WRs lately.
26 Terrell Owens (vs. MIA) Owens had a monster week (9 catches for 197 yards and a TD). Do I buy it? No, but I do think the Bills will have to throw the ball to beat the Dolphins.
27 Chris Chambers (@ SD) Chambers is facing his old team for the first time and has been very good recently with the Chiefs; the Chargers have only let up six TDs this season to WRs so Chambers may find it difficult to score.
28 Derrick Mason (vs. PIT) Mason has a tough matchup, but he is the only option Joe Flacco has so that means plenty of targets.
29 Pierre Garcon (@ HOU) Manning has targeted Garcon plenty of times the last two weeks, 19 to be exact, and has two-straight double digit fantasy games.
30 Steve Breaston (@ TEN) Breaston went without a target last week, but most of it was because Boldin and Fitzgerald had huge first halves and then Warner left with an injury; if Warner can stay in the game for all four quarters Breaston will get his share of chances against the Titans.
31 Devin Hester (@ MIN) Unless you’re in a PPR league, Hester has been rather disappointing in recent weeks with 8, 9, 4 and 1 point outings in his last four.
32 Mario Manningham (@ DEN) Manningham will be the receiver that isn’t covered by Champ Bailey and he is coming off a 6-catch, 126-yard game; despite his inconsistency he would make for a decent flex play, especially in deeper leagues.
33 Jerricho Cotchery (vs. CAR) Even with the addition of Edwards, Cotchery has become Sanchez’s go-to receiver and has scored in two straight games.
34 Mohammed Massaquoi (@ CIN) Last time the Browns faced the Bengals Massaquoi had his coming out party with eight catches for 148 yards. Don’t ignore him this time.
35 Laveranues Coles (vs. CLE) Coles has quietly been averaging seven points per game over his last four games; while seven isn’t anything to write home about, it could easily turn to 14 against the Browns.
36 Percy Harvin (vs. CHI) Harvin has moved past Berrian as the #2 WR, but Favre has too many options and won’t throw for 300 yards and 3 TDs every game.
37 Antonio Bryant (@ ATL) Atlanta’s secondary is banged up and if Bryant’s QB wasn’t Josh Freeman, I might actually like this matchup.
38 Santonio Holmes (@ BAL) With Big Ben’s health in question, Holmes is a risky play because he could put up a real stinker this week.
39 Braylon Edwards (vs. CAR) Edwards hasn’t lived up to the hype of his 2007 season and is starting to drop a lot of passes; the Panthers have the 4th-toughest defense against opposing WRs so don’t expect big passing numbers from rookie QB Mark Sanchez.
40 Santana Moss (@ PHI) Moss has been more bust than boom this year as he has scored less than five points in seven of his ten games this season; I wouldn’t bet he gets anything big against Asante Samuel.

Tight Ends

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Dallas Clark (@ HOU) Clark had 14 catches for 119 yards against the Texans just three weeks ago.
2 Antonio Gates (vs. KC) Rivers’ favorite target in the red zone should get at least one score in this matchup.
3 Tony Gonzalez (vs. TB) Tampa Bay’s defense isn’t very good and without Turner getting the majority of the touches in the red zone, Gonzalez should see an increase in targets.
4 Vernon Davis (vs. JAC) Davis has been the #1 TE this season and while the Jaguars have let up the 2nd-fewest points to TEs this season, you can’t ignore the chemistry him and Alex Smith have.
5 Kellen Winslow (@ ATL) The Falcons let up the 5th-most points to TEs; expect the Bucs to target Winslow often because they will be playing from behind most of the game.
6 Greg Olsen (@ MIN) Cutler will be under a lot of pressure and will rely on Olsen as a check down receiver; if you are in a PPR league Olsen could be in for a big day.
7 Jermichael Finley (@ DET) Finley came back from injury last week and caught seven balls for 54 yards; before he got injured, Finley was developing into a fine fantasy option who caught 15 passes for 238 yards and 1 TD in three games.
8 Kevin Boss (@ DEN) Boss has 4 TD in his last three games and while the Broncos are tough on TEs, he is clearly becoming one of Manning’s favorite targets.
9 Visanthe Shiancoe (vs. CHI) Shiancoe has 7 TDs this season and has gotten a lot of looks from Favre near the end zone; the Bears have let up 6 TDs to TEs this season.
10 Brent Celek (vs. WAS) The last time Celek faced the Redskins, he was completely shut down and managed just 3 catches for 8 yards.
11 Zach Miller (@ DAL) The change from Russell to Gradkowski helped Miller have his first productive game since week 6.
12 Jason Witten (vs. OAK) Witten will be a game time decision and while he might play, he hasn’t reached double-digit fantasy points once this season.
13 Fred Davis (@ PHI) The last time Davis faced the Eagles he caught 8 passes for 78 yards and a score; unfortunately, in three games since then he has caught just 8 passes for 100 yards and no touchdowns.
14 Heath Miller (@ BAL) Miller scored his first TD since week 6, but a tough matchup with the Ravens is sure to push him a step backwards.
15 Brandon Pettigrew (vs. GB) Pettigrew is finally getting the hang of this NFL thing (Last 3 games: 15 catches, 165 yards, 2 TD); of course, those games were with Stafford and not Culpepper.

Defense/Special Teams

Rank Player (Opponent)
1 Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI)
2 Cincinnati Bengals (vs. CLE)
3 Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
4 Miami Dolphins (@ BUF)
5 Dallas Cowboys (vs. OAK)
6 Pittsburgh Steelers (@ BAL)
7 Green Bay Packers (@ DET)
8 Indianapolis Colts (@ HOU)
9 Atlanta Falcons (vs. TB)
10 San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)
11 Seattle Seahawks (@ STL)
12 Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT)
13 New York Jets (vs. CAR)
14 New York Giants (@ DEN)
15 San Fransisco 49ers (vs. JAC)

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One comment for “Week 12: Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em”

  1. Boston Beer Co: Week 12: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em | Sports of Boston: No other holiday makes it..

    Posted by Sam Adams | November 26, 2009, 5:38 pm

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