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All season long, I’ve been talking about matchups with an opposing team, but what about an opposing weather condition?  Fantasy owners who started Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, or Reggie Bush were likely all salivating at the Lions’ matchup with the Eagles, but Bush was a very late scratch after slipping on the field while both Stafford and Johnson failed to get anything going all afternoon.  Even kickers, who are usually fairly immune to any real matchup concerns, should almost always be benched when there’s snow coming down.

Sometimes you even need to get more specific.  A downhill runner who plows straight through defenses is going to have a lot more success in rough weather than an elusive runner who relies on fancy footwork to shake tackles.  LeSean McCoy may very well be the exception to that rule, but he also adjusted his running style for the weather; something Reggie Bush is less capable of and part of the reason the Lions didn’t bother risking him playing in an important game.

I can’t predict the weather and if you ask anyone in Philadelphia, neither can the people whose job it is to do so, but this late into the fantasy season, it is absolutely critical that you check the field conditions prior to kickoff.  That being said, there are still football matchups to talk about.

It looks like many fantasy owners may need to sneak into the playoffs this weekend without the help of Adrian Peterson.  What’s worse is handcuff Toby Gerhart suffered a hamstring injury toward the end of this weekend’s game and may miss the game against the Eagles as well.  No, I’m not suggesting you start Matt Asiata, but if Gerhart and Peterson are both scratched, you’re going to need a running back with a solid matchup to fill in for “All Day.”

Steven Jackson has been playing much better in recent weeks and although he didn’t score a TD against the Packers last weekend, the Redskins are one of the worst teams at covering the run this year.  Look for him to break 80 yards on the ground with a score this week.  On the other sideline in that game, Alfred Morris is in a similarly decent situation as Atlanta is surrendering almost as many points to running backs this season.  I imagine both RBs will end with similar numbers this week and in Atlanta, you won’t have to worry about the weather with either of them.

He may not be rushing as much as most of the guys with his title, but Shane Vereen should have his third game with 10 or more fantasy points in a row this Sunday.  After losing Rob Gronkowski for the season, the Tom Brady is going to be leaning on his other favorite targets for support.  With 12 catches for 153 yards last weekend, I think Vereen qualifies.

Speaking of Gronkowski, his absence should also help both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola who are in an otherwise challenging matchup.  Miami covers the pass fairly well, but that didn’t stop Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, and Emmanuel Sanders from each scoring TDs against them on Sunday so look for Brady’s remaining targets to see a few extra looks each.

Sure, he may not have a TD the past two weeks, but Roddy White should have his third straight outing with a decent number of receptions.  This week, look for him to catch one in the pay dirt.  Roddy makes a nice play over receivers like Larry Fitzgerald who has been on fire, but plays against Tennessee who can stop pretty much any receiver who doesn’t have Peyton Manning throwing to him.

Vincent Jackson is a weaker than usual play as well, but if Anquan Boldin can haul in six receptions for 93 yards against the Seahawks, Jackson should be able to do the same.  If you need a home run, boom or bust option, consider starting Cordarrelle Patterson over Jackson this week, but Jackson is the safer play for at least some points.

As for QBs, Aaron Rodgers owners are likely keeping their fingers crossed for his return this week, but it isn’t looking great.  Additionally, recently reliable options like Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have tough matchups.  Brady had 116 yards with 1 TD against Miami the last time they played and Big Ben’s 251 yards with 1 TD against Cincinnati in week 2 weren’t much better as far as fantasy numbers are concerned.  Both Matt Ryan and Alex Smith are better candidates this week thanks to easier matchups.

In the fantasy playoffs, matchups are especially important, but they only take you so far.  Sure, Peyton Manning has a fantastic matchup on Thursday night, but if it starts snowing in Denver, don’t expect his numbers to be up to their usual standards.  Sure Matt Prater is a money-in-the-bank, record-holding kicker, but being the most accurate guy in the league on 50+ yard kicks doesn’t mean anything when the wind’s blowing across the field.

Got an extra spot on your bench that you don’t know what to do with?  Pick up Cleveland’s defense.  People will think you’re crazy and they won’t help you this week, but the Browns play the Jets next week and Cleveland’s defense should be one of the top options out there.  If you want to win this year, be prepared and think ahead.

Best of luck.

From Around The Web

  1. Joe G says:
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    Who would you start for this week? André johnson , brandon marshall, keenen Allen, Eric decker , TY Hilton…only 3 WR

    • CL says:
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      @Joe G: PPR?

      Andre, marshall, decker. Good problem to have there…

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Joe G: I’m with CL. Keenan Allen is a close 4th.

  2. Ra'zball Al Ghul says:
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    No sleeper WR picks this week?? You are always on the money

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Ra’zball Al Ghul: How about Ace Sanders? With MJD either out or possibly limited and the Jaguars playing for pride at this point, Sanders could have a nice outing in a great matchup against Buffalo.

      • Ra'zball Al Ghul says:
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        @Loudon: beautiful thanks! you have been right on most every week on the sleeper WR

  3. CL says:
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    The Cleveland pickup is interesting… I had previously said I would start Carolina until I die, but I dropped Tamme and picked up CTOWN speculatively.

  4. Joe G says:
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    Who would you start in running backs this week? Danny woodhead, pierre Thomas, darren sproles, bobby rainey, marcel reece

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Joe G: Rainey > Woodhead > Thomas > Sproles > Reece

  5. Robert says:
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    PPR League – Have McCoy in RB1 slot, Andre Johnson and Antonio Brown in WR1 and WR2.

    Need a RB2 and Flex out of Woodhead, Morris and Fitz. Thinking Woodhead and Fitz, though Tenn scares me.

    Going up against Peyton to get to the final week 16 game. I’m thinking that if Peyton goes off, I start Fitz and hope for upside. If Peyton doesn’t and/or Woodhead kills it, I figure I’ll play it safe and go with Morris. I think Morris is a sure 75 yards and probably a TD.

    Am I over thinking this?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Robert: I don’t think you’re over-thinking it, but I think I’d still play Woodhead and Morris over Fitz either way. Fitz could certainly break a big one, but Tennessee is going to be double-covering him any time Arizona gets close to a score. I think Morris’ chances of multiple scores this week are greater than Larry’s.

  6. Tyler says:
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    Got a WR and flex to fill, half ppr:

    C. Patterson
    Gerhart
    Stevie Johnson
    Joique
    Ridley

    Leaning towards the first two. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Tyler: Joique could obviously become a better play if Reggie’s status deteriorates, but otherwise I think you’re making the right decisions. An argument could be made for Johnson over Patterson because you’re already starting a RB from the same team, but the potential reward from Patterson is definitely greater.

      • Tyler says:
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        @Loudon: Thanks dude, I have Rivers going tonight and if he explodes for 30+ I might go with the safe 8-10 pts from Stevie

  7. Alex says:
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    Vincent Jackson is against the 49ers, not the Seahawks. Do I go Woodhead @ Denver or VJax vs. San Fran?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Alex: Indeed you are correct. An equally tough matchup, but I’m not sure where that mixup occurred. Anyway, I’d run with Woodhead this week especially because Jackson comes with his weekly “questionable” tag.

  8. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    What are your thoughts on Andre Brown? I have him in my flex, my other options are Monte Ball, Daniel Thomas or Michael Floyd. I figure I have to bite the bullet and ride Brown this week, no?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz: I would definitely start Brown out of those options. Ball would be next in line.

  9. Steve says:
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    Pick 2: Steven Jackson, Danny Woodhead and Pierre Garçon?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Steve: I’ll say Jackson and Woodhead just because of the whole QB thing in Washington.

  10. JoeBoo says:
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    PPR, pick 2:
    Morris
    Stacy
    Ball
    Riley Cooper

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @JoeBoo: Stacy and Cooper. Morris would be 2nd, but the PPR swings things toward Cooper for me.

  11. Sniff Test says:
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    I saw your ace sanders recommendation the comments. Would you play him over Crabtree or Boykin?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Sniff Test: I’d play him over Boykin, but not Crabtree.

  12. Zar says:
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    Looking at the weather…Should I be worried about Foles @ Min or Brandon Marshall @ Cle? Foles freaked me out last week with his almost 0 point first half in the snow…I’m scared of the weather now. If Rodgers does start, do I start him over Foles?

    Also for my last WR, Colston, Edelman, Patterson, or Crabtree?

    • rapscallion13 says:
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      @Zar:
      You do realize the Vikings play in a dome, right? Foles should be just fine.

      • Zar says:
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        @rapscallion13: Thanks -.- Was delirious when I was reading this :D Now I’m awake and I want to bang my head against a wall. Maybe I shouldn’t do player transactions at 4 AM in the morning :D

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Zar: I’d go with Edelman as your last WR, but Colston would be a close second and really any of your options are decent ones. I’d be a little concerned about Marshall at Cleveland, but more for the matchup than the weather. Still, you can’t bench a guy that talented. The good news is, if you see it’s a blizzard, you have plenty of options for a replacement.

  13. Queso Grande says:
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    A.P. down and now looking for flex help. Toby, Mike Wallace, Steve smith or delanie walker?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Queso Grande: I think Toby’s your guy assuming he’s alright. Otherwise, I’d go with Smith.

  14. Tony Starks says:
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    is TB playing Seattle? I don’t think so. Referring to your V-Jax blurb

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Tony Starks: Yeah, I got my S teams messed up when I was making notes. Equally bad matchup so the advice still applies.

  15. Iggles Fan says:
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    First round of playoffs in a .5 ppr league. Who of the following would you bench this week: J Nelson, L Fitzgerald, A Morris, Z Stacy? My autostarts at WR and RB are J Gordon and L McCoy.

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Iggles Fan: Nice team, I’d bench Fitz because of his matchup.

  16. Cruzing For a Bruising says:
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    So I am benching Cruz (@home vs Seahawks) for T.Y. Hilton (@home vs Texans). Correct choice, right?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Cruzing For a Bruising: They’re both pretty close this week, but I think that’s the right call.

  17. Ron says:
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    Vereen or Garcon at Flex this week?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Ron: Vereen

  18. de nachos says:
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    Thank Koresh for Twitter or I wouldn’t have made the Reggie Bush substitution with a minute to spare. So now I have a Thursday or Monday conundrum.

    Start K Moreno and M Ball (flex) tonight?
    Or hold out Montee Ball and wait for Reggie Bush on Monday?
    I only have CJ Spiller as a Sunday fall-back if I wait on Reggie and he’s no-go.

    Thoughts? Thanks and good article. I got cute with picking up the Pats for the playoffs and they haven’t helped, so I like that Cleveland call for next week.

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @de nachos: I’d sit Ball and keep Spiller in that slot for the time being. If you hear especially good news about Bush, you can switch them, but if I were you, I’d think about starting Spiller over Bush either way.

  19. Kevin says:
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    PPR
    Pick 1 WR, 2 RB’s and 1 Flex:

    Reggie Bush, Jordy Nelson, Nate Burleson, Donald Brown, CJ Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Woodhead

    Thanks

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Kevin: Nelson, Spiller, Woodhead and Bush at flex unless reports are still negative come Sunday. Then swap in Brown.

  20. dc says:
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    PPR have to start 2 of the following:

    Bernard, Fred Jackson, Spiller, Donald Brown, Woodhead, Monte Ball

    Thanks

  21. Rhodes Warrior says:
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    Having a hard time picking my TE,
    I have jared cook, dennis pitta, and Ladarius Green.
    For some reason i think green is going to do better than the other two.
    Also wondering about RB
    Im starting woodhead and i have to pick either sproles or Donald Brown. Its a ppr league, but they keep limiting sproles.

  22. David says:
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    Is it crazy to think about starting 2 te’s this week?? I got both Gonzalez and Olsen with great match ups. I could plug in Starks or Andre Brown for one of them. … Also on the waiver wire Todman and Joique Bell are available. What should I do. Standard League.

    • DanielH says:
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      @David: id pick up bell if bush is out id play him

  23. DanielH says:
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    Two questions who should I start in a standard league Drew Brees who Ive never benched or Nick Foles who looks like he might have a monster game and my second question is who do I bench this week between giovani bernard or frank Gore, gio could have a huge game and Gore has been consistently mediocre for my team as of late decisions decisions any advice?

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