For many fantasy football leagues, this is the week that decides whether or not you’re in the playoffs. The good news is that a lot of the top tier talent has fantastic matchups. Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and Frank Gore were likely all taken in the first or early second round at the beginning of the season and if you were smart/lucky enough to draft them then, they are sure to guide you to victory this week. There are exceptions to that, of course, but you didn’t draft them quite as early.
Knowshon Moreno only gained 79 yards against Kansas City two weeks ago and this week he faces them again, this time nursing a bone bruise somewhere around his ankle. The injury doesn’t sound serious, but the matchup is. If you’re comfortable with 8 points from your RB2/3 then go ahead and start him, but don’t count on a huge week from the Denver feature back.
Le’Veon Bell is in a very similar position to Moreno. In week 7, he had less than 10 fantasy points against Baltimore’s tough run defense. This week he travels to Baltimore to face them again. He’s clearly the workhorse for the Steelers so he’s difficult to sit, but he’s unlikely for a score in a crucial week for fantasy teams.
After an incredible 163 yards on 30 carries in week 11 for two TDs, Bobby Rainey sure did quiet down last week with only 35 yards on 18 carries. You can blame his performance on whatever you want, but the Carolina Panthers have a very good run defense and aren’t going to make things any easier for Rainey this week. Since you likely picked up Rainey less than two weeks ago, my guess is you have other options available to you that are more reliable this week so if you can afford to sit him, do it.
A lot of the top wide receivers are in excellent matchups as well this week. Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, and Dez Bryant should all be started without any hesitation, but just like the running backs above, not every wide receiver can be as lucky.
Vincent Jackson is in a very difficult position against a Carolina Defense that has been excellent at covering receivers this year. Before you get too upset, Brian Hartline did quite well against them last week so don’t go throwing him on the bench just yet, but after catching just two passes against Detroit, don’t expect Jackson to put up WR1 numbers this week.
The same goes for DeSean Jackson. Jackson is a big play threat no matter who he’s playing so the yardage should still be there for him, but it’s hard to count on a score against a defense that held players as talented as T.Y. Hilton and even Vincent Jackson to less than 4 fantasy points each in standard leagues.
Speaking of T.Y. Hilton, he faces the toughest pass defense of all this week when Tennessee comes to town. You may remember Hilton’s 5 catches for 44 yards against Tennessee two weeks ago and even though some people questioned my call to bench him then, it bears repeating here.
That same Tennessee defense should make things difficult for Andrew Luck this week. Luck has been a bit of a disappointment for fantasy owners for the past few weeks and unfortunately, that streak looks as though it will continue on Sunday. He did manage 232 yards without an interception against the Titans in week 11, but quarterbacks aren’t exactly great fantasy plays if they aren’t throwing touchdowns so if you have other options this week, use them.
As is the case every week, if you have a good feeling about someone, go with your gut. These matchup notes are only a guide and there is not greater glory than playing someone unexpected and watching him rack up the fantasy points while you eat your Thanksgiving turkey.
On that note, here is my special THANKSGIVING DAY SLEEPER: Jacoby Jones. Jones isn’t exactly an unknown guy, but he has been irrelevant most of the year until this past week against the Jets. It’s hard to count on him for another 100+ yard performance, but Jones’ big play ability gives him a ton of upside. I would still play any of the players listed above before Jones, but if you’re in a jam and need a home run hitter, Jones is worth a shot.