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Week 15: Start’Em/Sit ‘Em

Miles Austin

Last week, I did the 2009 All-Disappointment Team because in most of my leagues I did not make the playoffs due to a lot of players underachieving or getting injured. Call it a bitter article if you want, but this week I’m doing a complete 180 and am going to list the players who far exceeded where they were drafted. If you own these guys, then chances are you are still in the running for your fantasy football championship.

The 2009  “Better Than We Thought” Team

(Note: ADP = Average Draft Position)

QB – Brett Favre (3,341 yds, 27 TD, 6 INT, 17.1 pts/gm)

ADP 110.4 overall – QB Rank 5th

Favre was drafted as a backup in most leagues and has returned top-five results. A man once known for turning the ball over, Favre has just six interceptions and two fumbles this year.

RB1 – Ray Rice (1,693 total yds, 8 TD, 15.2 pts/gm)

ADP 61.7 overall – RB Rank 4th

Rice was drafted as a flex player and after a strong start from Willis McGahee, he has taken over as the lead back for the Ravens. Rice’s season and talents have been so good that he could be drafted as a top-five running back next season.

RB2 – Ricky Williams (1,200 total yds, 12 TD, 13.5 pts/gm)

ADP 133.3 overall – RB Rank 6th

Williams has benefited greatly from Ronnie Brown’s injury, but even before then he was putting up good enough numbers for flex-play consideration. Now, he’s a top 10 back most weeks and is rewarding those owners who took him in the late rounds.

WR1 – Miles Austin (58 rec, 999 yds, 10 TD, 12.1 pts/gm)

ADP 170 overall – WR Rank 2nd

Austin was left undrafted in fantasy leagues and until he broke out for 10 catches, 250 yards and two scores, no one even considered him a viable fantasy option. Ten weeks later and we are talking about the second-best WR in the 2009 fantasy football season. Unbelievable.

WR2 – Sidney Rice (67 rec, 1,075 yds, 5 TD, 10.1 pts/gm)

ADP 170 overall – WR Rank 12th

Rice was another WR that was undrafted and has emerged as one of the top WRs in the game this season. He has become Favre’s favorite target and has been the main benefactor of Favre’s return to glory. He has caught at least five passes in seven of his 13 games this season.

TE – Vernon Davis (66 rec, 815 yds, 11 TD, 11 pts/gm)

ADP 170 overall – TE Rank 1st

Davis is the third-straight undrafted player to have a major effect on fantasy football this season. He has emerged as Alex Smith’s favorite target in the passing game and has far exceeded all expectations anyone could have had for him this season. He has scored over 15 points four times this season.


Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Drew Brees (vs. DAL) On the road, the Cowboys have let up 15+ points to opposing QBs five out of six games.
2 Kurt Warner (@ DET) No team has been more friendly to opposing QBs than the Lions.
3 Matt Schaub (@ STL) The Rams have let up double digit points to opposing QBs in all but two games this season.
4 Peyton Manning (@ JAC) I don’t think the Colts start sitting their stars three weeks before the playoffs so Manning should enjoy this matchup against the seventh worst defense against opposing QBs.
5 Aaron Rodgers (@ PIT) Fantasy football’s #1 QB won’t have much trouble passing on a defense that has struggled without Troy Polamalu healthy.
6 Phillip Rivers (vs. CIN) While the Bengals have a solid defense, Rivers has posted 16+ fantasy points in four of his six home games this season.
7 Donovan McNabb (vs. SF) The 49ers just shut down the potent Cardinals’ pass offense, but their pass defense has done a lot worse on the road this season (16.3 pts/gm).
8 Tony Romo (@ NO) Romo is on a nice streak of three straight games with no turnovers and 17+ points.
9 Tom Brady (@ BUF) Brady is banged up, on the road and facing a tough Bills’ pass defense; too many red flags to rank him top-5.
10 Ben Roethlisberger (vs. GB) It’s now or never for the Steelers because if they don’t win this week they can kiss their season goodbye.
11 Brett Favre (@ CAR) The Panthers have held opposing QBs to single digits in eight of their last 10 games.
12 Jason Campbell (vs. NYG) Campbell has been on fire with fantasy point totals of 19, 24 and 18 in his last three weeks.
13 Matt Hasselbeck (vs. TB) If Hasselbeck is going to have a good week this is it; the Bucs have allowed the 11th-most points to opposing QBs.
14 Vince Young (vs. MIA) Young is optimistic he can play on Sunday and if he does, the Dolphins will have their issues stopping him and Chris Johnson.
15 Eli Manning (@ WAS) The Redskins defense has forced an interception in six straight games and Eli is starting to fade as the weather gets colder.
16 Matt Cassel (vs. CLE) Cassel gets the return of #1 target Dwayne Bowe just in time for the lowly Browns’ defense.
17 Joe Flacco (vs. CHI) Flacco hasn’t been the same QB in the  second half and the emergence of Ray Rice has taken a lot of the focus offensively off of Flacco’s arm.
18 Kyle Orton (vs. OAK) Orton threw for just 157 yards and a touchdown in his first game vs. OAK and he’s going to have to spread the ball around more if he wants to have any success.
19 David Garrard (vs. IND) The Colts’ pass defense has been much better against QBs on the road (7.3 pts/gm) than at home (14.9 pts/gm).
20 Carson Palmer (@ SD) Palmer has scored in single digits in four of his last five games.

Running Backs

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Chris Johnson (vs. MIA) Johnson has been fantasy football’s MVP this season as he has scored 53 more points than any other running back.
2 Adrian Peterson (@ CAR) Peterson faces a Panthers defense that has allowed the 8th-most points to opposing running backs.
3 Ray Rice (vs. CHI) Rice has been one of the nice surprises this season and the Bears will have trouble containing the rookie.
4 Thomas Jones (vs. ATL) Without Sanchez at QB expect the Jets’ offense to go primarily through Jones.
5 Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. IND) Could MJD be burning out? He already has 54 more carries than his previous career-high of 197.
6 Steven Jackson (vs. HOU) Jackson is all the Rams have on offense so he should continue to put up points as long as his back doesn’t take him out.
7 Knowshon Moreno (vs. OAK) Moreno has emerged as Denver’s top back and out of all things the Raiders can’t do well, their run defense is especially bad at 23.3 points allowed per game.
8 Cedric Benson (@ SD) Cedric Benson has picked up right where he left off and should be able to have success against the Chargers defense especially with Palmer struggling.
9 Jamaal Charles (vs. CLE) Charles has scored 17+ points in four of his last five games and faces a very friendly Browns defense.
10 Frank Gore (@ PHI) Gore was a pivotal point in the 49ers in over the Cardinals, but the Eagles will be a tougher challenge for him.
11 Ricky Williams (@ TEN) The Titans have let up just nine rushing touchdowns, but Ricky could do a lot of damage in the passing game where the Titans have let up 82 receptions to opposing running backs.
12 DeAngelo Williams (vs. MIN) With Stewart banged up, Williams will get the bulk of the work which is at least something even if he is facing one of the toughest run defenses in the league.
13 Ryan Grant (@ PIT) Grant seems to flourish as the season goes on and the Steelers are letting up 15 points per game to opposing RBs over the last 5 weeks.
14 Beanie Wells (@ DET) The Lions have let up the 6th-most points to opposing RBs this season and Beanie has been getting more carries than Hightower.
15 LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. CIN) LT has been a TD  machine, but the yards haven’t been coming which makes him a risky play.
16 Laurence Maroney (@ BUF) Maroney gets to face the league’s worst run defense so now the question is will the gameplan allow for him to capitalize?
17 Joseph Addai (@ JAC) With his durability issues, Addai could be the one player pulled if the Colts get up big in this game.
18 Fred Jackson (vs. NE) Fred Jackson torched the Patriots back in week 1, but he no longer has the stranglehold on the #1 RB job like he did then.
19 Rashard Mendenhall (vs. GB) Mendenhall faces a Packers’ defense that has allowed the 2nd-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs this season.
20 Tim Hightower (@ DET) Hightower’s thumb has been bugging him, but the Lions did just let up 50+ fantasy points to the Ravens’ running backs.
21 Chris Jennings (@ KC) This is probably the highest any Brown’s RB has been ranked this season and its because Jennings is the only healthy back and faces a Chiefs’ defense that has allowed the 5th-most points to opposing RBs.
22 Justin Forsett (vs. TB) Forsett is finally set to get more work in the offense and it couldn’t come at a better time with Seattle facing Tampa Bay this week.
23 Pierre Thomas (vs. DAL) Thomas has become unreliable because the Saints spread the ball around so much and the Cowboys have allowed just 8 total TDs to opposing RBs.
24 Marion Barber (@ NO) Once a TD machine, Barber only has 4 this season and hasn’t scored since week 8.
25 Quinton Ganther (vs. NYG) Ganther is the newest RB to get the starting nod and unlike Cartwright, he delivered with 22 fantasy points last week.
26 Brandon Jacobs (@ WAS) Jacobs has been nothing short of a disappointment this season and will face a stout Redskins’ run defense that has allowed just 6 rushing TDs this season.
27 Matt Forte (@ BAL) Another first round bust, Forte faces a tough Ravens’ defense so you want no part of him in your starting lineup.
28 Arian Foster (@ STL) Even though you may not know his name, he is getting the most carries and should receive the goal line carries against the Rams, which makes him flex worthy.
29 Ahmad Bradshaw (@ WAS) Bradshaw has had a better season than his counterpart Jacobs, but the Redskins seem to keep opposing RBs under control.
30 Jason Snelling (@ NYJ) Snelling does get the goal line carries, but against the Jets that might not mean much.
31 Reggie Bush (vs. DAL) Bush has become more of a matchups play and this week the Cowboys present a bad matchup.
32 Ryan Moats (@ STL) Moats will get his share of carries against a bad Rams’ defense, but do you want to rely on him in the playoffs?
33 LeSean McCoy (vs. SF) McCoy has been in a slump with four or less points in two straight games and the 49ers defense has been especially tough on opposing RBs.
34 Julius Jones (vs. TB) Jones will lose more touches to Forsett in the coming weeks so it might finally be time to cut ties.
35 Cadillac Williams (@ SEA) Cadillac has been playing more like a beat up Subaru these days.
36 Maurice Morris (vs. ARI) With Smith injured, Morris should be in line for an increased work load, but it shouldn’t matter against the Cardinals defense.
37 Justin Fargas (@ DEN) Fargas is the main guy in the Raider’s backfield, but with Charlie Frye starting at QB there isn’t much to be excited there these days.
38 Jonathan Stewart (vs. MIN) Stewart is questionable for this week’s matchup and will definitely be limited against the tough Vikings’ defense.
39 Sammy Morris (@ BUF) Morris could get a cheap TD or two, but the chances aren’t great so it’s better if he stays on your bench.
40 Jerome Harrison (@ KC) Harrison is nicked up and even though he has a nice matchup, he will be limited and give way to Jennings.

Wide Receivers

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Andre Johnson (@ STL) Rams’ pass defense tends to struggle when facing elite WRs and that’s exactly what Johnson is.
2 Larry Fitzgerald (@ DET) Lions have let up the 3rd-most points to opposing WRs.
3 Calvin Johnson (vs. ARI) With Smith out and Johnson getting healthier, I can sense a big game from the stud this week.
4 Anquan Boldin (@ DET) I expect the Cardinals’ pass offense to have a field day against the Lions’ defense.
5 Brandon Marshall (vs. OAK) Brandon Marshall is coming off a 21-catch performance and he is all Orton has so why can’t we expect more success?
6 DeSean Jackson (vs. SF) DeSean has really capitalized on the big plays this season so kudos to you if you own him in a league that awards bonus points.
7 Marques Colston (vs. DAL) Colston has scored in three straight games and the Cowboys just let Vincent Jackson beat them last week.
8 Wes Welker (@ BUF) Welker has been one of the most consistent WRs in the NFL since 2007 and it’s time we started treating him so in fantasy football.
9 Vincent Jackson (vs. CIN) Jackson is coming off a 7-catch, 120-yard performance so it seems like he is back  on track.
10 Randy Moss (@ BUF) Moss has become too touchdown dependent so it’s tough to project when he will have a top-5 week or a top -15 week.
11 Chad Ochocinco (@ SD) “85” will be motivated after the death of teammate Chris Henry and you bet he’ll want to get in the end zone this week to pay his respects in his own, special way.
12 Sidney Rice (@ CAR) Rice has  been Favre’s favorite target this season so you can expect he will get his share of TD opportunities in this matchup.
13 Reggie Wayne (@ JAC) Wayne is banged up and the Colts have clinched home field so there is no reason to push his limits, but the Jaguars’ pass defense gives up the 4th-most points to WRs.
14 Donald Driver (@ PIT) Driver has been the better of the Packer duo and the Steelers are missing Polamalu, which should help him across the middle of the field.
15 Miles Austin (@ NO) Can you believe that Miles Austin, who went undrafted, has scored the 2nd-most points among WRs this season?
16 Derrick Mason (vs. CHI) Mason broke off one big TD catch last week and has scored in double digits in 3 of his last 4 games.
17 Hines Ward (vs. GB) Ward has had extra time to recover from his hamstring injury so hopefully he will be a more prominent figure in the Steelers’ passing game.
18 Pierre Garcon (@ JAC) If Wayne is limited, Garcon will be the one who benefits the most against a suspect Jaguars’ defense.
19 Steve Smith (vs. MIN) The Vikings weakness on defense is their secondary so it is very possible that Smith scores on a long TD pass; him and Moore have has success playing together before.
20 Robert Meachem (vs. DAL) Meachem ended his TD streak, but he could very well start another one against a Cowboys’ defense that has struggled against the pass recently.
21 Greg Jennings (@ PIT) With the Steelers’ defense struggling, Jennings could break off a big TD catch, but with 8 single digit performances in his last 10 games isn’t good enough to warrant a must-start title.
22 Terrell Owens (vs. NE) If the Bills knock off the Patriots this week, you can bet it will be because Owens had a monster fantasy day.
23 Steve Smith (@ WAS) The Giants will be hard-pressed to find a lot of success down the field, but Smith is good enough to collect 7 catches for 80 yards.
24 Antonio Bryant (@ SEA) Bryant could see himself getting a lot of targets because the Bucs will probably be playing from behind most of the game.
25 Dwayne Bowe (vs. CLE) Bowe’s return couldn’t come against an easier opponent; Browns’ defense has allowed over 20 fantasy points to opposing WRs in 4 of their 6 road games.
26 Kenny Britt (vs. MIA) If Young doesn’t play, Britt’s value gets hit significantly.
27 Mike Sims-Walker (vs. IND) MSW has been a disappointment with just 5 total fantasy points over the last 3 weeks so I wouldn’t completely trust him in any matchup until he fixes whatever is bothering him.
28 T.J. Houshmanzadeh (vs. TB) Housh has been a major disappointment and with his recent head injury he could be inconsistent against the Bucs.
29 Michael Crabtree (@ PHI) Crabtree will not see the same success he did last week thanks to his matchup against the 6th-toughest defense to score against.
30 Roddy White (@ NYJ) The Darrell Revis effect shows no mercy.
31 Roy Williams (@ NO) Boom/bust receivers should never be depended on in the playoffs.
32 Austin Collie (@ JAC) With Wayne likely to be limited, expect Collie to step up and catch some passes; he has scored in 2 straight games.
33 Santana Moss (vs. NYG) The Giants’ defense has been streaky as of late so Moss could be in line for a decent game, but would you take that chance in the playoffs?
34 Hakeem Nicks (@ WAS) Nicks is the new starter and if he wasn’t facing the Redskins he would be a top 30 WR.
35 Lee Evans (vs. NE) Evans could emerge as a sleeper pick this week, but with 4 straight performances of 5 or fewer points I wouldn’t chance it.
36 Bernard Berrian (@ CAR) With Harvin potentially out this week, Berrian could receive more targets this week.
37 Chris Chambers (vs. CLE) He dropped a crucial pass last week and the return of Bowe could bring Chambers back to fantasy irrelevance.
38 Jerricho Cotchery (vs. ATL) Cotchery would be a great play this week if the Jets were starting a half-decent QB.
39 Percy Harvin (@ CAR) Harvin is questionable and if he does play, he will be limited and the Vikings are sure to run the ball more than pass it this week.
40 Laveranues Coles (@ SD) Palmer’s struggles have hurt Cole’s production especially as he hasn’t caught more than 2 passes in 3 straight weeks.

Tight Ends

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Vernon Davis (@ PHI) #1 scoring TE, meet the worst defense against TEs.
2 Antonio Gates (vs. CIN) Gates is targeted in the pass game like no other and will rack up the receptions and yards despite the matchup.
3 Dallas Clark (@ JAC) Clark struggled against the Jaguars in week 1, but this time he should have his way.
4 Brent Celek (vs. SF) 49ers have been one of the toughest teams on TEs this season, but McNabb targets the TE plenty of times in the red zone.
5 Kellen Winslow (@ SEA) Winslow should have a decent game here because the Bucs will be playing from behind and will implement a more conservative approach to limit Freeman’s turnovers.
6 Tony Gonzalez (@ NYJ) Gonzalez will not have it as easy like most weeks, but Redman will have to check down to the TE as he will be under a lot of pressure from the Jets’ defense.
7 Jason Witten (@ NO) Witten let his fantasy owners down in the first week of the playoffs, but for those that start this week he will have another chance to redeem himself.
8 Fred Davis (vs. NYG) Davis has been on fire lately with 4 TDs in his last 3 games.
9 Visanthe Shiancoe (@ CAR) Shiancoe’s last name is involved in one of the best fantasy team names I’ve seen in a while, “Bros Before Shiancoes”
10 Kevin Boss (@ WAS) Redskins have only allowed 2 TDs to TEs this year, so don’t expect him to do as well as last week.
11 Jermichael Finley (@ PIT) Finley might have trouble getting open this week against the Steelers’ tough defense against TEs.
12 John Carlson (vs. TB) Carlson could benefit this week from Burelson being out and Houshmanzadeh being a flat-out disappointment.
13 Heath Miller (vs. GB) Miller needs to get it together this week or else the Steelers could eliminate themselves from playoff contention.
14 Greg Olsen (@ BAL) Olsen has been a big disappointment this season and hasn’t scored more than 4 points in 4 weeks.
15 Dustin Keller (vs. ATL) Keller could find some success against the Falcons’ 3rd-worst defense against TEs, but it’s a risky play.

Defense/Special Teams

Rank Player (Opponent)
1 Denver Broncos D/ST (vs. OAK)
2 Minnesota Vikings D/ST (@ CAR)
3 Arizona Cardinals D/ST (@ DET)
4 Baltimore Ravens D/ST (vs. CHI)
5 New York Jets D/ST (vs. ATL)
6 Houston Texans D/ST (@ STL)
7 Green Bay Packers D/ST (@ PIT)
8 New England Patriots D/ST (@ BUF)
9 Indianapolis Colts D/ST (@ JAC)
10 Seattle Seahawks D/ST (vs. TB)
11 New Orleans Saints D/ST (vs. DAL)
12 Tennessee Titans D/ST (vs. MIA)
13 Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST (vs. GB)
14 San Diego Chargers D/ST (vs. CIN)
15 Cleveland Browns D/ST (@ KC)

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