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.