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It doesn’t matter who’s on your fantasy team, the Broncos/Raiders is going to be the game to watch.  This is a relatively nightmarish matchup on both sides of the ball, but not exactly for the reasons you’d expect.  Sure, The Broncos’ pass defense has been on of the best recently, but that didn’t stop Heyward-Bey from getting 82 yards and a score.  Sure, he scored in the 4th quarter when The Broncos were really just looking to keep the clock running, but still…he scored.  An Oakland Raider has scored on The Broncos.  The Broncos are not impenetrable.

Fast forward to this weekend and we have one of the most interesting matchups of the entire year.  The Ravens have been known for their defense for quite some time now and while they haven’t been as dominant, they’re still a force.  The Broncos, on the other hand, are riding high with Manning and hoping they can hold off The Ravens and Patriots for that first round bye.  Because both teams are fighting for their playoff spot, all bets are off.  This game could be won 41-37, 6-3, or anywhere in between.

So who do you start?  Well, Peyton Manning continues to be a must start QB and Demaryius Thomas has been a reliable option almost every single week, but Eric Decker has been a bit of a disappointment in the home stretch this season.  Sure he caught 8 passes for 88 yards last Thursday, but he has failed to reach the end zone in his last three games and has struggled against some of the better pass defenses despite being a decent route runner.

For The Ravens, Anquan Boldin probably won’t get you 2 scores again, but he still has some upside.  Torrey Smith should also exceed the one catch he had against Washington.  Their ceilings are lowered a bit, but they both still have some value if you need them.  I would, however, sit Joe Flacco if you have any reasonable alternatives.  In 2 QB leagues, you still have to play him, but in most standard leagues, Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers, and Carson Palmer are all better options.

Another intriguing matchup this week is The Bears against The Packers.  Both teams are currently in the playoff picture, but they’re battling for the top spot in the NFC North.  The first time these two teams played, there wasn’t a single great fantasy performance.  Aaron Rodgers threw 1 TD and 1 pick, Jay Cutler threw 1 TD and 4 picks.  Cedric Benson had the best fantasy day of the group and he hasn’t played since week 5.

This time around, however, I think things will be a little different.  Brandon Marshall, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson are all worthy fantasy starts (in that order), and Aaron Rodgers will have a better day than last time, but just like Flacco, I would avoid starting Cutler this week.  He certainly has weapons, but if that game is going to be won for The Bears, it will be won with a solid ground game.

Need a sleeper this week?  Check out Michael Crabtree.  In the last 2 weeks he has averaged 8 catches for 97 yards.  He may not have found the end zone, but in a game against The Patriots where The 49ers will likely be throwing the ball a lot, I like Crabtree’s chances.

  1. Kangaroo Hops says:
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    I have a fantasy playoff matchup I’d like to get some advice on. I have Rodgers and Dalton at QB, and the Bears Def. My opponent has Cobb at WR and the Packers D. Although I know you always start your studs, I’m tempted to start Dalton and his nice Philly matchup instead of Rodgers and his ugly Chicago one. That way, when I watch the Bears/GB game in Chicago, I root for the Bears to crush every facet of the Packers’ game. Of course, if GB offense does well, I’m sad. On the flip side, however, if I play Rodgers, he offsets fractionally every Cobb catch/TD, which would be helpful. But makes watching the game a bit dodgy. I’d have to root for Rodgers to throw and get sacked a lot, knowing that any score will cannibalize my own Bears Def score. Any thoughts about this pickle?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Kangaroo Hops: My first thought is “are there any other available defenses that you can play?” However, Chicago’s D should still be a decent play so I’m not actually recommending that. Although it makes watching the game itself a little difficult, I think you still have to roll with Rodgers. I mean, it’s Aaron Rodgers. Dalton’s matchup in Philly is decent, but The Eagles are not without talent. It’s always tough to be cheering for and against someone simultaneously, but sometimes it has to be done.

  2. barker says:
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    hello there — happy playoffs to everyone

    bit of a conundrum with dez bryant going down possibly

    my starting WRs are colston garcon jennings with fitz and dez on the bench

    i can drop either the jets def or v davis ( have t gonz )
    its an 8 team league
    available wrs are lloyd vs SF boldin vs DEN crabtree @NE d alexander vs CAR britt vs NYJ
    hilton @ HOU

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @barker: I would drop Davis and pick up Alexander. Then I would start Colston, Garcon, and Alexander this week.

  3. Pete says:
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    Tough decisions, in a good way this week. Everyone is coming back healthy for me. I have to choose 3 among Witten, Gresham, Wallace, Britt, Greg Jennings and now Cecil Shorts to start at my flex receiving spots. League is non-PPR but TE scoring is tweaked upward so their average scoring is similar to average WRs. Any ideas? I can’t wait for the weekly rankings.

    Also, Schaub is my QB backup to RG3. If RG3 ends up playing, do you think it’s too much of a risk to start him over Schaub?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Pete: Ig RG3 is starting, you play him against Cleveland this week. No question about it.

      As for your flex options, if TEs are tweaked, I’d start Witten for sure, then Wallace, Shorts, Gresham, Jennings and Britt in that order.

      • Pete says:
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        @Loudon: Perfect, thanks for the input! I’ll keep an eye on the news for RG3 and Shorts this week. The tricky part is between Shorts and Gresham since Gresham plays Thursday night. If I sit him and then Shorts has a setback, I’m starting Jennings instead. I suppose that’s not the end of the world.

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