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In many fantasy leagues, the playoffs start next week, making this the final regular season game and the final shot at hope for fringe teams.  The last week of the regular season is the biggest week for me if I’m not a lock at the top – all the scenarios and following other matchups, needing this team to lose and that team to score less than 40 than me – it gets pretty hectic.

But all I need is that optimism, that one clinging shot at hope that I could make the playoffs.  As Jim Carrey would say, “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

Once in the playoffs, it’s a complete crapshoot.  With teams resting players (at least Gregg Popovich isn’t an NFL coach), and last minute huge performances from no-names (think Arian Foster a few years back), there’s always a shot if you can just make it in.

When you’re in a desperate, low-probability situation to make it in, you need high-upside plays to vault you in.  Here’s five guys not started in enough leagues and five guys started in too many leagues that should be benched, along with their % started in ESPN leagues and Yahoo leagues, respectively.  And remember, these picks are not always suggestions for direct 1-for-1 swaps if you own players in both sections, but merely picks for guys not started enough and started too often.

Possible Starters

Colin Kaepernick (21.7%, 26%) I’m riding the hype as many fantasy owners, recommending Kaepernick as a starter if you don’t have one of the no-brainer QB starters.  CK has been huge since taking over the reigns, knocking out the incumbent starter who did nothing to lose his job.  The Rams are a better run D than pass D, and with Kendal Hunter out, I expect the 49ers to not overtax Gore and keep things going through the air.  Another 2-3 TDs with 30-50 yards rushing in the bank.

Rashad Jennings (31.2%, 28%) Jennings has done nothing to prove he’s a fantasy lock, but I have a sneaky feeling with the backfield to himself that he’s going to post his first 100-yard game of the season this week.  MJD and Jalen Parmalee are out, and we’ve seen some huge games on the ground against a weak Bills defense.  A definite high-risk, high-reward play, but if you need the upside, Jennings’ has it.

Justin Blackmon (19.2%, 42%) Two Jaguars in one week?  Where is Mark Brunell?  Blackmon has been huge with the change to Henne, and there’s no reason to expect him to not keep it up against that poor Bills D.  Jennings should be able to keep the offense balanced and give Blackmon some downfield opportunities.

T.Y. Hilton (11.5%, 36%) As Nick and I discussed on the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast, I like Hilton a ton this week in what should be a shootout at Ford Field.  The Lions secondary has given up some big games, and with Hilton emerging as the go-to WR opposite Reggie Wayne, I like the rookie receiver to post another solid game.  He’s got TDs in 3 of the last 4, and 100-yard games in two of those.

Davone Bess (9.0%, 23%) Another receiver I talked up on the Podcast was Bess, who has returned to his PPR-monster ways as of late.  He’s gotten 4 catches in all of his last six games, plus two straight big games the past two weeks.  The Patriots secondary is suspect and the Pats should be up big in this one.  I expect Bess to get a ton of targets, many in junk time, with the Pats pass D focusing on Hartline.

Son of a Bench

Steven Jackson (63.4%, 59%) Jackson has returned strong from the Rams bye week a few weeks back with three straight big games, but I have a feeling the 49ers stack the line and focus on the Rams rushing offense with all they have.  The Rams still give up the least amount of points to opposing RBs, and with seeing Jackson three weeks ago in week 10, I’ll put my money on them stacking him up.

Marshawn Lynch (85.6%, 82%) The Seahawks back had been one the most consistent running backs through week 10, but after Seattle’s bye didn’t look as sharp last week at the Dolphins.  Now going on the road to Chicago, I think it’s going to be another tough week for Lynch to get back on track.

Larry Fitzgerald (81.6%, 68%) I’ve been down on Fitzgerald all year, and even with his inconsistencies, he’s still getting started in way too many leagues.  With an absolute black hole at QB, it’s going to be another rough week for the uber-talented receiver.  The Jets passing D has still been strong without Revis and will keep the Cards in check.

Dwayne Bowe (52.9%, 44%) Our thoughts go out to Kansas City and the Chiefs community.  As of this writing it appears the game will still be played against the Panthers, and I don’t like Bowe too much in this one.

Antonio Gates (66.3%, 75%) Gates is the Larry Fitzgerald of TEs.  A big name with talent (although Gates’ age and injuries are obviously also a factor), both are started based on name value alone.  Go with virtually anyone atop your wire for a better game.

If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone making the playoffs!

  1. jacquizzical says:
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    Flex2 in a ppr: beanie or broyles?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @jacquizzical, Broyles. Like the catches.

  2. Mike says:
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    Wells, Leshoure or Moreno as rb2?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Mike, Leshoure. Don’t trust Wells or Moreno enough.

  3. Steve says:
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    Out of these 4 backs, who do you start?

    B. Green-Ellis, S. Jackson, K. Moreno, and Demarco Murray

    Not a ppr league

    • Steve says:
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      @Steve, Sorry, forgot to mention that I need to start 2 of the 4

      • JB Gilpin

        Jonathan Gilpin says:
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        @Steve, I would stick with the for sure plays there. Like BJGE and Jackson. I am down on Jackson, but don’t trust Moreno at all, and who knows what the Cowboys will get out of Murray, if he even plays…

  4. Purewater says:
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    Pick 1 please (standard league): Fred Jackson, Broyles, Danario.
    Thanks!

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Purewater, I’d stick with FJax. Spiller going to get a tad more work, but against a D as bad as Jacksonville, I think he still gets worse. It’s close with Broyles to me. I know Denario Alexander has been big, but I think he is about to disappoint big time.

  5. barker says:
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    flex for 1/2 ppr — chris johnson leshore reece
    pick one wr fitz jennings garcon

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @barker, I’d stick with CJ. I know a bad matchup, but he’s been pretty matchup proof since his bad start. Any play he can bust open. Ohhh that’s a scary WR situation. Ya know, I think I might Garcon. Jennings is still a question mark on how many snaps he’ll have and Fitz needs a QB.

  6. mike jones says:
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    blackmon, deangelo williams or i can pick up ryan broyles .what do you think

    • mike says:
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      @mike jones, AHH IM SORRY i also have dwyer sitting should he start over any of these guys

      • JB Gilpin

        Jonathan Gilpin says:
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        @mike, Haha, Ya know I’d stick with JB. Maybe because I’m a JB and I’m biased, but I think he’s the biggest for sure in that mix. Which is funny because he’s only been big the past few weeks.

        • mike says:
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          @Jonathan Gilpin, tell me about it.i drafted him held on to him all season..dropped him day before hou game and waivered him right back..I hope karma pays me back well for my loyalty

          • JB Gilpin

            Jonathan Gilpin says:
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            @mike, The fantasy god be with us, I need a good game from him as well!

  7. mike jones says:
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    NON PPR FLEX SPOT

  8. Gig says:
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    Need this win for the playoffs. Who would you flex: Chris Johnson or Bryce Brown? I’m leaning Brown right now.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Gig, Nahhhhhh I’d stick with CJ. My Panthers give up huge games to whoever teams roll out there (think Andre Brown earlier this year), and I don’t trust a guy with only the one big game. Gimme CJ who is virtually matchup proof.

  9. nyydj2 says:
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    16 team non PPR – 3 slots open – RB/WR/FLEX – Dwyer, Forte, Hilton, Broyles – who sits here?

    Also, take a chance on JPP playing Monday night or pick up J. Smith (SF) or Hardy (CAR) to play at DL? Have a dead weight (T.Young) I could drop.

    Thanks!

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @nyydj2, You know, I might sit Dwyer there. Horrible matchup with the Ravens to play hungry and stack the line with no QB play. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more Mendenhall and Redman than reports are saying. I’m not up on my IDP knowledge, but I think I’d wait and hope for JPP, and if he’s out go with a last second pickup, dropping Young.

  10. Johnny says:
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    I’m such a sissy!! I picked up Colin Kaepernick off the wire and I don’t know whether to play him or not… I have Eli as my starter right now. He is due to have a nice game but he notoriously stinks up the joint when they play the Skins. Who do you like more this week, Eli Manning or Colin Kaepernick?
    TY Hilton is also out on the wire right now, would you pick him up and throw in the towell on Aaron Hernandez? Thanks as always, JW

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Johnny, Ewwwwww Eli? Gimme the Kaep! And yea I like Hilton enough to throw out Hernandez. I think he has a big game. Good luck this week man, thanks for stopping by!

  11. Steve says:
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    Couple decisions to be made for my team (0.5 ppr league)

    Would you take a chance on Miles Austin playing tonight or go with Jarius Wright? I’m a packer fan and think our defense will give up some points today.

    Also, Antonio Gates and his lack of production or Dustin Keller?

    Thanks!

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Steve, Eh, I think I stick with Austin. Had a little extra time to get back with Thanksgiving a week and a half ago, Eagles have given up, I stick with him. And then definitely Keller. Gates is a ghost town of production. Thanks for reading!

  12. HP2 says:
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    Need a win to secure playoff spot need help in WR, RB, and TE
    WR need one of the two Danario Alexander or Torrey Smith I am starting Ryan Broyles and started Julio Jones
    RB need two of the three Trent Richardson, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush
    TE who is a better start Antonio Gates or Brandon Myers
    Thanks
    This is a standard non PPR league

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @HP2, I definitely like Smith more there. I think the Ravens try to open up early, and get Smith going. I know he had a bad game vs. Pit a few weeks back, but like him this time. For RB, definitely leaving out Bush. Like your studs there. Brandon Myers is also a much better play as well. Gates is a goner.

  13. sickmangarner says:
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    Tough decisions at RB2 and Flex in a 1pt PPR

    RB options: Dwyer, Knowshon, DeAngelo, McFadden

    FLEX options: Any of the above or Aaron Hernandez

    Am leaning Hernandez for FLEX and NOT starting DMC but after that, the RB2 options seem like a toss up.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @sickmangarner, Well it looks like McFadden is out, and I don’t like Dwyer. I go DeAngelo and Knowshon, I actually kinda like DeAngelo. He really hasn’t looks that bad (Panthers fan – unfortunately seen most of his touches), it’s just been bad blocking and no holes. With additional work, he should be able to get a few nice carries. I’m not as big on Knowshon, but he should get work. Don’t like Hernandez too much over the RBs.

  14. Principle Blackman says:
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    Would you start Morneno (v TB) or Mathews (v Cin) over either Lynch (v Chi) or Charles? (I’m wondering if the awful tragedy in Kansas City has an adverse affect on his game; apparently Belcher’s girlfriend was Charles’ cousin-in-law. I cannot fathom the grief they must be going through)

    • Murph says:
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      @Principle Blackman,

      You can’t factor the tragedy into a projection you just never know how a player will react to something like this. Remember Torey Smith had 127 yards receiving with 2 TDs the night after his brother’s death

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Principle Blackman, Yea it’s tough giving fantasy advice with psychological states due to the tragedy. I will consider Charles a good start as I did before, due to the Panthers poor defense. I stick with him and Lynch, your studs.

  15. Murph says:
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    NON PPR Flex…

    Moreno, Greg Jennings, Demarco Murray

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Murph, Ugh, Moreno, but I feel dirty about it. If Jennings had been back last week, I would have said him, but I bet he’s on a strict snap count. Murray is reportedly going to be active, but limited.

      • Murph says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin,

        Thanks JB good luck this week

        • JB Gilpin

          Jonathan Gilpin says:
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          @Murph, Thanks man! I need it in a few spots…

  16. PPR- pick two out of Cobb, Decker, Nicks and Broyles. Thoughts?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @zacabieli, Give me Cobb and Nicks. Nicks bouncing back well, bad Skins secondary. Cobb is unbenchable, in my opinion. Decker is close, TB gives up most points to opposing WRs, but I think Denver wins big and Decker has been falling off, with these big wins.

  17. Nostrathomas says:
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    Ok I need to pick 3 rb’s out of te following:

    Matt forte, demarco Murray, rashad Jennings, Bryce brown and Alfred Morris

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Nostrathomas, I like Morris, Forte and Jennings. Everyone is going nuts for Bryce Brown, but I keep saying it, the Panthers give up huge games to backs often. Going to be tough on him this week. As said above, Murray is going to be limited, and who knows what you get out of him.

  18. Chris says:
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    Qb – Cam or Luck
    Flex – Austin, Felix Jones or DX
    Thanks

    • Chris says:
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      Forgot I also have Deangelo Williams as a possible flex play.

      • JB Gilpin

        Jonathan Gilpin says:
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        @Chris, Ohhhh, that’s a good one at QB. I lean Luck. At Flex, you know I might go DeAngelo… Between him and Austin for me. Williams should get a big workload.

  19. Mark says:
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    0.5 ppr pick 2 flex.. Thanks!

    DeMarco Murray
    DeAngelo Williams
    David Wilson
    D Bess
    G Jennings

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Mark, Lovvvvvvvve Bess. Just saw a report indicating Jennings would be very limited, so he’s out for me. Murray limited as well. If you listen to the podcast, you know my negative thoughts on Wilson. So it’s my boy DeAngelo! I think he could get 20-25 touches.

  20. ArtVandelay says:
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    R. Jennings or Broyles as a flex in a 1 PPR league?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @ArtVandelay, I’d stick with Jennings. Should get a lot of touches. Bills give up big plays on the ground.

  21. Mike says:
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    Stick with Freeman against tough Denver def or go with Flacco at home?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Mike, Def sticking with Freeman… Yea tough D, but I think Bucs will be down, Freeman gets a junk TD or 2

  22. BigDub says:
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    Dude, gotta give props for your turnaround time with your comments. I have a dilemma, need to fill my flex, and after reading your comments above I’m almost inclined to say you’d start Smith of this bunch of maybes. My inclination is either Knowshon due to the volume of touches he’ll get (I see Peyton using him like Addai a lot today and might even have a chance to punch one in from close). Here’s my list:

    Knowshon, T. Smith, Danario, Matthews, Dwyer.

    Appreciate the advice week in and out.

    • BigDub says:
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      Also forgot to mention its a 0.5 PPR.

      • JB Gilpin

        Jonathan Gilpin says:
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        @BigDub, Haha, love helping out the Razzball Nation! Thanks for reading. Man that’s about as even a mix of flex options as you can get. You’re right it is between Moreno and Smith for me, I’m down on those other guys… If you need the upside for a must-win in a tough game I’d go Smith, if need consistency and a for sure 6-8 points I like Moreno. Thanks again for reading!

        • BigDub says:
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          @Jonathan Gilpin, thanks for the advice. I’m in control of my fate today, needing not to lose by more than 45 points where we play 3 idps which can alter the outcome in any week. I think I’ll stick with the conservative play due to Smiths inconsistency and the fact that I just don’t see Batch being able to make big plays to help get the ball into Smiths hands. Only time will tell now.

          • BigDub says:
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            Hahaha. No idea why I mentioned Batch with Smith. Partly because my other option is Brown. It’s Smiths recent performance that troubles me. That said, hope I don’t get too grilled for that last comment.

  23. Steve Stevenson says:
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    Standard league, need a big game rather than steady production: Broyles, Steve Smith or Forte?

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Steve Stevenson, Ya know I think I’d go with Steve Smith there, I know Broyles has the upside too, but Smith can break one and should get a lot of love.

  24. FilthyRich says:
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    Need a flex today in non-PPR league. Choose from:
    Torrey Smith
    Miles Austin
    Michael Bush (was a lock until Forte returned)
    R Jennings

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @FilthyRich, Give me Jennings! The lack of PPR hurts the WRs and I think jennings gets the most work in a game where the Bills could get gashed by the run.

  25. M.L. says:
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    Moreno, Lynch, Brandon Lloyd or Chris Givens.

    I need to fill a running back slot and a flex slot.

    Thanks!

    • M.L. says:
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      & this is a non-PPR league.

  26. Velocity_X says:
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    PPR League

    I need to plug in an RB2: Daniel Thomas, Joique Bell or Felix Jones?
    -Normally I’d like Jones but with Murray probably splitting carries I am not so sure.

    Flex: LaFell, Hernandez or D. Moore?
    -Not liking D. Moore, but Hernandez worries me as well.

    • JB Gilpin

      Jonathan Gilpin says:
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      @Velocity_X, Ugh that’s a tough one… I really don’t like any of those guys, but I’d probably hope for the best with Jones. Dallas should win big against bad, bad Philly team. I like Denaius as your Flex. I know not big lately, but like him here. Don’t like Hernandez too much…

      • Velocity_X says:
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        @Jonathan Gilpin, One of my primary concerns with Moore (aside from the lack of productivity) is the weather in that Raiders/Browns game. Supposed to be really wacky weather so I expect the teams to try to run more.

        Thanks for the advice, I really enjoy the podcasts.

        • JB Gilpin

          Jonathan Gilpin says:
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          @Velocity_X, Yea it’s been a big concern, but I don’t think is that big a factor… We’ve seen weather not impact as much more often than not.

  27. M.L. says:
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    Non-PPR

    Moreno, Lynch, Brandon Lloyd or Chris Givens.

    I need to fill a running back slot and a flex slot.

    Thanks!

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