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Week 16: Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em

Chris Johnson

As we gather ’round the Christmas tree, we must be grateful for the three F’s: Family, Friends, and Fantasy Football (Ok, so 4 F’s). At this point in time, we can think of Chris Johnson as the Red Ryder B.B. Gun of the season while someone like Matt Forte was just a big, disappointing lump of coal.

Enough of the Christmas metaphors. I will spare you the long intro and we can jump right into the rankings. Merry Christmas!


Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Aaron Rodgers (vs. SEA) Top-scoring QB faces a defense that has allowed 20+ points to opposing QBs in 5 of their last 7 games.
2 Drew Brees (vs. TB) The Bucs’ defense has allowed 4 points to opposing QBs in each of their last 3 games, but Brees might be better than Matt Hasselbeck, Kellen Clemons and Matt Moore combined.
3 Philip Rivers (@ TEN) The Titans’ turnaround has nothing to do with their pass defense as they still let up the 3rd-most points to opposing QBs.
4 Matt Schaub (@ MIA) Schaub has failed to reach 300 yards or 2 TDs in only 4 games this season; Dolphins’ defense has allowed 6th-most points to opposing QBs.
5 Kurt Warner (vs. STL) The Rams defense is the best way to get out of a slump and that’s exactly what Warner is in right now.
6 Tom Brady (vs. JAC) Brady’s at home against a bad pass defense so you can expect a nice bounce back game from the injured QB.
7 Ben Roethlisberger (vs. BAL) Big Ben is coming off a 503-yd passing game and while you can’t expect him to repeat the performance, we can expect a nice game against an average defense.
8 Peyton Manning (vs. NYJ) Do you want to put your championship on the line with Manning against the best defense in the NFL? Normally, you would start him no matter what, but he could sit out the second half if the game gets out of hand early.
9 Donovan McNabb (vs. DEN) McNabb and the Eagles are on a roll as they have won 5 games in a row and McNabb has scored 14+ points in 6-straight.
10 Tony Romo (@ WAS) Redskins have been letting up an average of 16.5 points to opposing QBs in their last 4 games.
11 Alex Smith (vs. DET) Smith has been on a 2-game slump, but the Lions have allowed the most points to opposing QBs so expect a rebound game.
12 Carson Palmer (vs. KC) Palmer is coming off his best passing game of the year and the Chiefs aren’t a strong defensive unit.
13 Vince Young (vs. SD) Young has been one of the most consistent QBs since he was named the starter; he has averaged 14.9 points in his 8 starts and hasn’t scored fewer than 12 points.
14 Joe Flacco (@ PIT) The Steelers’ defense isn’t the same without Troy Polamalu and Flacco is starting to hit his stride again.
15 David Garrard (@ NE) Garrard is better at home so he gets downgraded even though he faces an average Patriots’ defense.
16 Eli Manning (@ CAR) Manning has 2-straight games with 3 TD passes, but the Panthers have been very tough on QBs this season as they have let up an average of 9.3 points per game.
17 Kyle Orton (@ PHI) Orton has two straight nice games (18 and 16 pts), but faces a much tougher Eagles’ defense that has allowed just 12.4 points per game to opposing QBs.
18 Jason Campbell (vs. DAL) Campbell is coming off a horrific Monday night game and Dallas has a lot more to play for this week than the Redskins.
19 Matt Hasselbeck (@ GB) Despite being torched for 503 yards last week, the Packers still boast a top-5 defense; Hasselbeck is also missing his favorite target Nate Burelson.
20 Mark Sanchez (@ IND) Jets are in a must-win game and the Colts are phoning it in, but Sanchez is too conservative to be a good option this week.

Running Backs

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Chris Johnson (vs. SD) Was once pegged as a boom or bust RB, but since week 6 he’s been all boom.
2 Adrian Peterson (@ CHI) Vikings should focus on the run more as they are on the road, in cold weather and Favre is showing signs of being Favre.
3 Maurice Jones-Drew (@ NE) MJD may be the only one who has success this week against the Patriots.
4 Frank Gore (vs. DET) Facing Detroit at home is probably the best Christmas present any fantasy owner will get this weekend.
5 Ray Rice (@ PIT) Rice is the focal point of the Ravens’ offense and the Steelers have let up 3 rushing TDs in their last 4 games.
6 Thomas Jones (@ IND) If the Jets are going to spoil the Colts’ perfect season they are going to do it on the ground so expect a lot of carries for Jones.
7 Ricky Williams (vs. HOU) It’s a must-win game for Miami and they are a run-first team so Ricky will get his chances to score.
8 Cedric Benson (vs. KC) I would like Benson even more, but something about Larry Johnson facing his old team says that Benson won’t be the only one getting carries in this game.
9 Ryan Grant (vs. SEA) Seahawks’ defense allows 17.1 points and Grant is the only one getting carries in the Packers’ backfield.
10 Jamal Charles (@ CIN) Charles has scored over 20 points in each of his last 2 games and has clearly enjoyed his new role as the starter.
11 Steven Jackson (@ ARI) Jackson is gritting it through a back injury and still gets 20 carries a game; Cardinals’ defense has allowed 20+ points to opposing RBs in 4 of their last 6 games.
12 DeAngelo Williams (@ NYG) The Giants have allowed 15 rushing TDs and if Williams is healthy enough to start he will be a nice play.
13 Beanie Wells (vs. STL) Beanie is coming off a season-high 17 carries against the Lions last week and gets to face an equally bad Rams’ defense.
14 Rashard Mendenhall (vs. BAL) He’s not getting as many carries as he used to, but he still gets the ball in the red zone so he has a good chance to score a TD.
15 Fred Jackson (@ ATL) Brian Brohm might be starting at QB, which is enough reason to expect Jackson to get a lot of touches this week.
16 LaDanian Tomlinson (@ TEN) LT is almost a guarantee to score, but the fact that he hasn’t reached the century mark this season means he can’t be counted on for solid production.
17 Jerome Harrison (vs. OAK) No Brady Quinn, so the Browns offense will be worse if that’s even possible; that said, Harrison gets to follow up his 286-yard performance with a matchup against teh 4th-friendliest defense against opposing RBs.
18 Jason Snelling (vs. BUF) No Michael Turner means Snelling will get the start against the worst run defense in the NFL.
19 Pierre Thomas (vs. TB) Thomas has been in a funk lately (23 total points in last 3 games), but last time he faced the Bucs he ran for 92 yards on just 11 carries.
20 Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. CAR) Bradshaw has emerged as the top guy in the Giants’ backfield and with the Panthers giving up 20.4 points per game you can expect him to get a nice piece of that pie.
21 Jonathan Stewart (@ NYG) Stewart gets a huge boost if Williams is still banged up before game time; see DeAngelo Williams.
22 Marion Barber (@ WAS) Barber is coming off a 2-TD performance and the Redskins have allowed 20+ points in 3 of their last 4 games.
23 Joseph Addai (vs. NYJ) Addai would be ranked higher, but the Colts should be cautious with their #1 RB as they have already clinched home-field advantage.
24 Brandon Jacobs (vs. CAR) Jacobs has been a huge disappointment, but even Jacobs has a good chance of scoring against a bad Panthers’ run defense.
25 Knowshon Moreno (@ PHI) Moreno is coming off a disappointing game against the Raiders’ defense and won’t fair much better against a solid Eagles’ defense.
26 Laurence Maroney (vs. JAC) With Brady banged up, Maroney could receive the 20 carries fantasy owners have been waiting for.
27 Matt Forte (vs. MIN) I think it’s safe to say if you have Forte on your team, you aren’t reading this article anymore.
28 LeSean McCoy (vs. DEN) This is how bad it’s been with McCoy…Leonard Weaver is stealing carries.
29 Quinton Ganther (vs. DAL) Ganther has 3 TDs in his last 2 games and the Cowboys have allowed a rushing TD in 3 straight games.
30 Justin Forsett (@ GB) Forsett is the guy you want in Seattle, but I don’t think you want anyone against the Packers’ defense.
31 Michael Bush (@ CLE) With Fargas out, Bush received 18 carries and ran for 133 yards and a score; he could be a nice sleeper against a bad Browns’ defense if you’re willing to take the risk.
32 Larry Johnson (vs. KC) LJ could be in line for some revenge carries against the team that cut him earlier this season.
33 Tim Hightower (vs. STL) Hightower’s only chance to score is if he receives goal line carries and I wouldn’t bank on that.
34 Ryan Moats (@ MIA) Moats proved once again that he is the man to own out of the Texans’ backfield, if you want to own anyone that is.
35 Maurice Morris (@ SF) With Johnson injured and Smith and Stafford out, nothing is going the Lions’ way offensively.
36 Reggie Bush (vs. TB) Would you put your championship on the line with Reggie Bush in your lineup? Didn’t think so.
37 Cadillac Williams (@ NO) (insert pun that refers to Williams as a useless vehicle)
38 Felix Jones (@ WAS) Felix is starting to get carries, but it’s not enough to warrant starting him.
39 Jerious Norwood (vs. BUF) Norwood could have some value, but that’s only if Snelling gets injured.
40 Brian Westbrook (vs. DEN) Westbrook has been cleared to return, but Andy Reid has already said that he will not play the veteran more than a couple series.

Wide Receivers

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Andre Johnson (@ MIA) Johnson will have a huge advantage this week against Miami’s rookie CBs.
2 Anquan Boldin (vs. DET) With Fitzgerald banged up, Boldin should have a field day against the 2nd-friendliest defense against opposing WRs.
3 Randy Moss (vs. JAC) Moss is at home and against a Jaguars defense that has allowed 18 TD to opposing WRs.
4 Miles Austin (@ WAS) Austin has been a huge surprise this season and has scored a TD in 4 straight games.
5 Vincent Jackson (@ TEN) Jackson has rebounded from a mid-season slump and faces a very vulnerable Titans secondary.
6 DeSean Jackson (vs. DEN) Jackson beats defenses with big plays and even though they know it, they can’t stop it.
7 Marques Colston (vs. TB) Colston was held without a TD in his first matchup against the Bucs and I don’t expect him to come up empty twice.
8 Donald Driver (vs. SEA) Driver has been Rodgers’ favorite target this season. So when they face a bad defense, he gets the top-10 nod.
9 Chad Ochocinco (vs. KC) Ochocinco celebrated a TD last week by remembering the late Chris Henry and against a bad KC defense he might have to think of 2 new ways to remember his friend.
10 Wes Welker (vs. JAC) Welker is a guarantee to catch 6 passes for 70 yards, but against a defense like the Jaguars he is more likely to catch 10 passes for 110 yards.
11 Brandon Marshall (@ PHI) The Eagles have allowed 7 TDs to opposing WRs in their last 7 games and Marshall is just the guy to make it 8.
12 Steve Smith (@ NYG) Smith and Matt Moore seem to have a certain chemistry that might resurrect his season just in time for the championship game.
13 Sidney Rice (@ CHI) Favre will take some shots in the end zone and those passes will more than likely go to Rice who is in need for a TD (1 in last 4 weeks).
14 Greg Jennings (vs. SEA) Jennings is Rodgers’ favorite deep threat and if Seattle continues to generate no pass rush, the two could connect on a couple deep passes.
15 Roddy White (vs. BUF) The Bills are tough on opposing WRs (13.4 points/game) so White will have it tougher than most weeks, but the return of Matt Ryan is a welcome sign.
16 Mike Sims-Walker (@ NE) MSW has struggled on the road, but the Patriots’ defense hasn’t been as good in recent weeks so a TD isn’t out of the question.
17 Derrick Mason (@ PIT) Mason has scored in two straight weeks and if the Ravens are going to air it out at all it’s going his way.
18 Calvin Johnson (@ SF) Something clearly isn’t right with Johnson, hence the low ranking, and Stafford was placed on the IR this week.
19 Terrell Owens (@ ATL) Falcons have allowed 22.1 points to opposing WRs in their last 10 games; here’s to hoping new QB Brohm locks onto Owens for the day.
20 Larry Fitzgerald (vs. STL) Fitz is banged up and with the Cardinals basically locked into the 4th seed I don’t expect them to push the All-Pro to the limit.
21 Hines Ward (vs. BAL) Ward only caught three passes his last time against the Ravens and the Steelers should take a more conservative approach offensively this week.
22 Steve Smith (vs. CAR) In the first matchup between the two Steve Smiths, the Giants player will be the one facing the tough Panthers’ pass defense.
23 Reggie Wayne (vs. NYJ) Wayne is injured and the Colts aren’t playing for anything except a perfect season; if they get up early you can expect him to sit.
24 Santonio Holmes (vs. BAL) Holmes has been remarkably consistent with at least 74 yards receiving in each of his last 7 games.
25 Robert Meachem (vs. TB) It’s easy to forget about Meachem when he isn’t scoring TDs, but you want to start him against the Bucs.
26 Michael Crabtree (vs. DET) Crabtree has at least 4 receptions in each of his last 6 games and those could go a long way against the 2nd-worst defense against opposing WRs.
27 Austin Collie (vs. NYJ) Collie could be the biggest beneficiary of both Wayne and Garcon being banged up; he is one player that won’t be benched if the team is up big.
28 Kenny Britt (vs. SD) Britt and Vince Young took the day off, but it’s clear the two have a certain chemistry so you can expect him to return to his TD ways.
29 Dwayne Bowe (@ CIN) Bowe’s return wasn’t as triumphant as we hoped (4 rec, 56 yds), but he did get 10 targets and shook off the rust to set up a potential bounce back this week.
30 T.J. Houshmanzadeh (@ GB) It’s a lost season for Housh and against a tough Packers’ defense you can’t expect him to put up anything respectable.
31 Braylon Edwards (@ IND) Edwards could benefit from a lot of garbage time this week, but even if there isn’t he has shown that he is Sanchez’s best option; unfortunately they don’t go downfield that often.
32 Percy Harvin (@ CHI) Harvin is suffering from chronic migraines and is a risk even against a bad Bears’ pass defense.
33 Lee Evans (@ ATL) Evans could put up big numbers against a porous Falcons’ defense or he could disappoint like he does most weeks.
34 Roy E. Williams (@ WAS) He has been very inconsistent this season so you can’t rely on him this late in the season.
35 Chris Chambers (@ CIN) Chambers is the one who put up better fantasy points in Bowe’s return, but before that he scored just 6 points in 2 games.
36 Laveranues Coles (vs. KC) Coles isn’t the best option this week because the Bengals are likely to run with Benson and LJ.
37 Pierre Garcon (vs. NYJ) Garcon has a bad hand so he might be a no-show against the Jets…literally.
38 Mario Manningham (vs. CAR) Manningham might benefit from Nicks’ hamstring injury, but I wouldn’t chance it against a tough Panthers’ defense.
39 Jerricho Cotchery (@ IND) Cotchery has taken a back seat to Edwards so it’s tough to imagine him getting a lot of chances in a conservative offense.
40 Antonio Bryant (@ NO) When you do nothing against the Seahawks and your offense scores over 20 points, you are officially shunned from fantasy football for the season.

Tight Ends

Rank Player (Opponent) Comment
1 Dallas Clark (vs. NYJ) With Wayne and Garcon banged up you can expect Clark to be Manning’s main focus.
2 Antonio Gates (@ TEN) The Titans have allowed TDs to Anthony Fasano and Randy McMichael in the last 2 weeks. ‘Nough said.
3 Vernon Davis (vs. DET) Davis is going to have a field day against a bad Lions defense.
4 Tony Gonzalez (vs. BUF) Gonzalez should benefit from the return of Matt Ryan and Buffalo is only middle-of-the-pack against opposing TEs.
5 Brent Celek (vs. DEN) Celek faces a Broncos defense that allowed Dallas Clark to score 3 TDs.
6 Jason Witten (@ WAS) Witten has to start scoring TDs right? He only has 1 and that came in week 2.
7 Kellen Winslow (@ NO) Winslow could be in for a big game as the Saints’ defensive pressure could force Freeman to check down to the TE often.
8 Jermichael Finley (vs. SEA) Finley has 3 straight games with 70+ yards and 3 TDs in that span.
9 Fred Davis (vs. DAL) Davis has been on fire recently with TDs in 4 straight games.
10 Visanthe Shiancoe (@ CHI) Shiancoe could get a cheap score and scored 11 fantasy points in his last matchup against the Bears.
11 Heath Miller (vs. BAL) Miller is having the best season a TE has ever had in a Steelers’ uniform with 68 receptions for 698 yards and 5 TDs.
12 John Carlson (vs. GB) The Packers allow the 8th-most points to opposing TEs so Carlson could be a nice source of points.
13 Kevin Boss (vs. CAR) Boss might be in for a rough outing as the Panthers only allow 5.5 points per game to opposing TEs.
14 Todd Heap (@ PIT) There is no way Heap is repeating is 2-TD performance this week.
15 Dustin Keller (@ IND) Keller is a nice sleeper if you have no options at TE this week, but it’s tough to rely on him for more than 7 points.

Defense/Special Teams

Rank Player (Opponent)
1 Minnesota Vikings D/ST (@ CHI)
2 San Francisco 49ers D/ST (vs. DET)
3 Green Bay Packers D/ST (vs. SEA)
4 New Orleans Saints D/ST (vs. TB)
5 Arizona Cardinals D/ST (vs. STL)
6 Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (vs. KC)
7 Philadelphia Eagles D/ST (vs. DEN)
8 New York Jets D/ST (@ IND)
9 San Diego Chargers D/ST (@ TEN)
10 Denver Broncos D/ST (@ PHI)
11 Baltimore Ravens D/ST (@ PIT)
12 New York Giants D/ST (vs. CAR)
13 New England Patriots D/ST (vs. JAC)
14 Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST (vs. BAL)
15 Dallas Cowboys D/ST (@ WAS)

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