Good Christmas Eve morning/day/evening to all y’all’s! I had planned on airing my Festivus grievances today, but I thought I’d do some passing matchup analysis instead. But there is one that’s relevant here and could actually be my biggest grievance on this lovely morning; it is not knowing how long the Colts will play their starters! Read on to find out my take for now. The rankings are based on my strategery chart which I’ll post this afternoon. Everyone have a good Festivus and good luck on your feats of strength!
Make sure you enter our week 16 contest. A Razzball mug that says “Sonavabench!” on it will make you a hipster, but nobody will know you’re one!
Christmas Night 7:30 pm
San Diego (24th) @ Tennessee (14th)
Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson have started connecting again, but Cortland Finnegan is also back from his injury and is playing well on #1 receivers. It really depends on how much Rivers wants to test Finnegan. Peyton Manning just went to Garcon instead of throwing to Wayne when they faced him. I would downgrade VJax a bit, but it’s not exactly a Revis situation. I do look for Antonio Gates to have a big game against DVOA’s 31st ranked defense against tight ends. Malcolm Floyd has been getting enough looks to be a decent play in deeper leagues.
San Diego: Rivers +2, Jackson +1, Floyd 0, Gates +2
Vince Young had a career high 3 passing touchdowns last week. His hamstring seems to be better and he gets a Chargers’ pass defense that in the last 8 games is giving up on average 265 yards passing and almost 2 TDs. A lot depends on how badly the Chargers want to stop Chris Johnson, but no matter what, they have to try. With Justin Gage back the Titans have three legit receivers which makes it harder to decipher who gets the fantasy points, but Kenny Britt is still the best receiver and with VY in there, is a good start. Bo Scaife is getting his targets, but they are usually check downs. If you need 4-5 receptions for 40-50 yards, he’s there.
Tennessee: Young +1, Britt +1, Gage 0, Washington 0, Scaife 0
Sunday 1 pm
Tampa Bay (9th) @ New Orleans (18th)
Josh Freeman had shown some life for Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow, but Bryant had a choice matchup against Seattle and sadly couldn’t do much. Winslow on the other hand continues to get a lot of work no matter what. The Saints have been tough on TEs and held Winslow to 29 yards in Tampa, but he still got 5 receptions. Sammie Stroughter actually had more looks than Bryant last week, but he also broke his foot. Does this mean Bryant will see more work? Yes, and they will probably be throwing a lot indoors. He is a risky start, but I love me some Antonio Bryant.
Tampa Bay: Freeman -2, Bryant +1, Winslow 0
Drew Brees and company looked mortal against Dallas last week, but they get a much easier opponent this week. The Saints still need to win to clinch home field throughout and Payton says he won’t rest players, so unless they get up big, which they might, I would feel good with starting them. Tampa’s pass D is actually decent statistically, but they’ve also faced some pretty poor passing attacks lately. I would have no qualms with starting Colston and Meachem and possibly the founder of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, if Shockey doesn’t play.
New Orleans: Brees +2, Colston +1, Meachem +1, Thomas 0
Houston (8th) @ Miami (22nd)
Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are quickly becoming a top 3 duo and Miami isn’t equipped to stop them. Schaub is focusing on AJ and then spreading the ball around too much to his secondary receivers for them to be worth much in your fantasy championship.
Houston: Schaub +2, Johnson +2
Sparano doesn’t mind giving Chad Henne a lot of work when behind (not from behind) and this could be one of those games. Henne is too risky to start, but this game could become a shootout and Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess should see a lot of targets. They are only options in ppr leagues, but I feel like they are fairly safe, especially Camarillo.
Miami: Henne o, Camarillo +1, Bess 0, Fasano -1
Seattle (31st) @ Green Bay (20th)
The Seahawks just lost to Tampa Bay at home and now they get to travel to Green Bay. They can’t seem to settle on a starting running back and Matt Hasselbeck is always an injury risk. Add to that, their best wide receiver Nate Burleson is hurt and you have the makings for a poor showing. Deion Branch actually led in targets, but still had a poor game last week. The Packers gave up 500 yards passing to the Steelers, but don’t expect half of that this week. The only Seahawk who looks like he has a shot of a decent game is John Carlson, but even then I think you can find a better option.
Seattle: Hasselbeck -1, Houshmandzadeh -1, Branch -2, Carlson 0
This could get ugly. If I ranked quarterbacks each week Aaron Rodgers would be at the top. The forecast looks cold, but clear right now, so it shouldn’t be too much of a factor. Jermichael Finley has led the Packers in targets the last 2 games and is a great play once again. He’s easily a top 5 TE this weekend. Greg Jennings had a big game last week, but now with Finley grabbing so many targets Jennings and Driver might have a little trouble both having big games. The matchup is too good to sit them though.
Green Bay: Rodgers +2, Jennings +1, Driver +1, Finley +2
Carolina (6th) @ New York Giants (29th)
Steve Smith had a retro game last week and seems to be playing a bit better with Matt Moore under center. He should out duel the other Steve Smith and then that Steve Smith will have to change his name to Jacob Higgenbottom. Moore also had a big game last week, but going to the Meadowlands is going to be a taller order to fill. Yes, the Giants pass defense is terrible, but Moore is too unproven to throw him into your championship starting lineup.
Carolina hasn’t allowed a wide receiver to hit 16 fantasy points all season and only 5 to get above ten. Little Brother has been tearing it up lately and quietly having a pretty good year. He has a lot of weapons, and even though there probably won’t be one stand out fantasy , is hard to bench the guy throwing to them. I’d lower expectations a bit, but in a tough choice, ride the hot hand.
New York: Manning +1, Smith 0, Nicks 0, Manningham 0
Oakland (23rd) @ Cleveland(25th)
Talk about your clash of the passing titans! This is like the 2007 Patriots vs. the 99 Rams! Let’s look at the numbers. The Browns QB’s are averaging 9.1 fantasy points a game while the Raiders QB’s are averaging 9.0 fantasy points! This game could decide which team has the worst fantasy passing attack of the year! Oh, and I have to say QB’s instead of a player’s name because there are quite a few of them out there for these pitiful teams. Charlie Frye looks like he will play again, and even though Jamarcus Russell led them on a game winning drive, Frye gives their one fantasy player through the air a chance and that’s tight end Zach Miller. He is back from a concussion and could have a productive game.
Oakland: Frye -2, Miller +1
Jacksonville (26th) @ New England (28th)
The forecast is calling for mid 4o’s, but a chance of rain and snow. It’s too early to get wind predictions so it’s something to keep an eye on, but for now we’ll look at it as if they’re playing in an airplane hangar. Both of these teams have something to play for, so feel warm and fuzzy about that. David Garrard, like I’ve said before has a multiple personality disorder, well, this team does actually. You never know how they’ll play. I would not want to start Garrard, but depending on your options he may be the lesser of two evils. Mike Sims-Walker looks like he is healed up and makes a good play against a bad Patriots secondary.
Jacksonville: Garrard 0, Sims-Walker +1
Tom Brady might have caught some of what Garrard has. His consistency has gone down the toilet, but at home against the Jags you start him and are happy about it. And that goes for Randy Moss and Wes Welker as well. The secondary receivers and TE’s no longer get any love.
New England: Brady +2, Moss +2, Welker +2
Kansas City (7th) @ Cincinnati (5th)
Cassel had a nice game against the Browns, but the Browns are the Browns are the Browns. Cincinnati’s pass defense is much better and they need a win. The Chiefs don’t really need anything except to not break something. Chris Chambers had a nice game, but that came on limited targets. Dwayne Bowe got the most targets which included red zone looks. His opportunities should be there again and he has a good chance to get in for a TD, even in a tough matchup.
Kansas City: Cassel -2, Bowe 0
The Chiefs’ good pass D numbers come from facing some pretty poor quarterbacks, i.e. Quinn, Fitzpatrick, and Russell. All good QB’s have torched them. There is a good chance we will see a lot of Benson, but Palmer should at least have the opportunity to put up decent numbers. He broke out of his slump last week, but he was in a pretty big slump. It would be hard for me to trust him, but if you’re in a pinch, well, you know. I would be able to trust Ochocinco though. He is by far Palmer’s best receiver and should do well.
Cincinnati: Palmer +1, Ochocinco +2
Baltimore (2nd) @ Pittsburgh (21st)
Pittsburgh’s pass defense has been getting destroyed and with their run defense still playing tough Joe Flacco should be airing it out. I wouldn’t expect 4 touchdowns and no interceptions like he had against the paper Bears, but he is better than a lot of options out there. Derrick Mason continues to do his thing so you should continue to start him. Of course Todd Heap goes off last week after doing about zilch all year. I would stay away from him. The same goes for Demetrius Williams, but with the caveat that he is worth a look in deeper leagues. The guy is good, but we just can’t trust him yet. Keep a keeper eye on him.
Baltimore: Flacco +1, Mason +1, Williams -1, Heap -1
Big Ben went off on a good Packers defense to the tune of 500 some odd yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was out with a concussion and being chastised by Hines Ward the last time they met the Ravens. In such a heated rivalry often stats have to be thrown out the window and Roethlisberger proved that he can put up great numbers on great defenses. You don’t start him over a top tier QB with a better matchup, but he is a good start otherwise. The same goes for Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward. They are strong plays in a game the Steelers must win.
Pittsburgh: Roethlisberger +1, Holmes +1, Ward 0, Wallace -1, Miller -1
Buffalo (3rd) @ Atlanta (30th)
Brian Brohm will get the start for the Bison. I like that his first and last name shares the same first two letters. Can you think of anymore NFL players that have names like that? And don’t go googling it! But that’s about all I like about Brohm. He is a downgrade for TO and Evans.
Buffalo: Brohm -2, Owens -2, Evans -2
Buffalo’s pass defense is for real, but they did lose ball hawking rookie Jairus Byrd (get it, he’s a bird and a ball hawk). The Falcons (another bird) will run the ball a lot with Snelling and Norwood (like ostriches) so I would stay away from Ryan, but Roddy White should be in line for a few targets. He’s not a huge play, but he’s Roddy White and he doesn’t have Revis on him. Oh, and play Gonzo. He’s earned it.
Atlanta: Ryan -1, White 0, Gonzalez +1
Sunday 4 pm
Detroit (31st) @ San Francisco (12th)
Drew Stanton will get the start over Daunte Culpepper which is the right move, but Stanton isn’t exactly Y.A. Tittle, but who is? Besides Y.A. Tittle? He is a slight upgrade which helps Megatron a little. With CJ’s numbers recently I don’t blame you for being extremely skittish, but if you are on the fence about him, Stanton might push you over.
Detroit: Stanton -2, Johnson +1
Alex Smith looked horrible in Philadelphia, but that happens to a lot of QB’s. He’s not a lock, but at home against Detroit is the best Smith is going to get. If you don’t have an elite QB feel pretty good about starting him as well as most of the other offensive components.
San Francisco: Smith +1, Crabtree +1, Morgan +1, Davis +2
St. Louis (16th) @ Arizona (15th)
Keith Null should get the start once again. He was a little effective last week, but not fantasy effective. The Rams passing game is putrid and spread out. That isn’t a good combo.
St. Louis: Null -2, WR’s -2
Kurt Warner hasn’t looked like his old self, well he’s looked like his old self, but not his old self. Oh nevermind. If you have Warner and another top QB I think I would err on the side of caution and eeny-meeny yourself to the non-Warner guy. But Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson blew up the Rams last week and Warner, Fitzgerald and Boldin really should be able to do the same.
Arizona: Warner +1, Fitzgerald +2, Boldin +2, Breaston 0
Denver (4th) @ Philadelphia (11th)
Kyle Orton is boring. Thankfully he does throw to Brandon Marshall and Brandon Marshall is the only safe player on the Broncos this week. The Eagles will Flip . . Flip . . Flipadelphia! the Broncos. Or not, we’ll actually have to wait until they play the game.
Denver: Orton -1, Marshall +1
McNabb and company face a good, but deflated Denver pass defense. McNabb has been playing well and can’t be sat just because they are going against a tough pass defense. Jeremy Maclin practiced and should play, but I would be wary. Get Desean Jackson and Brent Celek in there. DJax is the home run hitter and Celek is hitting for average.
Philadelphia: McNabb +1, Jackson +2, Celek +1, Maclin -1
New York Jets (1st) @ Indianapolis (26th)
This game is extremely hard to analyze because Caldwell won’t tip his hand as to how much the starters will play. But no matter what, Mark Sanchez is starting, which makes it hard to feel great about their passing attack. Braylon Edwards caught a long TD last week, but it’s hard to ask for that 2 weeks in a row. The Colts have been giving up a lot of yardage to receivers so I could see going with Cotchery or Edwards if you had to, but I wouldn’t be doing back flipadelphias over the idea.
New York: Sanchez -2, Edwards 0, Cotchery 0, Keller -2
Do I know how long the Colts starters will play? No, but at this point in the week nobody knows and there is a chance we won’t know until Manning puts on his cap and starts shooting a commercial on the sidelines. Unless we hear otherwise, regard all Colts as extremely risky. Besides not knowing if the starters will play a couple series or the whole game, they also get to face the #1 pass defense in the league. Reggie Wayne faces Revis AND might not go the whole game! You do the math. Of course news might change this week and we could have a clearer picture, but if they were playing in five minutes, I’d say to sit them all unless you have Brian Brohm, Deion Branch and Randy McMichael as your only other options.
Indianapolis: Manning -1, Wayne, -2, Garcon -2, Collie 0, Clark -1
Sunday 8:20 pm
Dallas (10th) @ Washington (16th)
Tony Romo has turned into a must start recently, so you must start him. The same goes for Miles Austin. The Redskins have thrown in the towel and the Cowboys want to keep winning in December and in front of national television audiences whereas the Redskins don’t mind looking like utter fools in front of national television audiences. Jason Witten is up to his old razztastic tricks, but he is getting enough targets to keep starting him. Roy Williams just isn’t that good, but Washington isn’t great against #2 receivers.
Dallas: Romo +2, Austin +2, Williams 0, Witten +1
Jason Campbell went from surging to purging. That offensive smelling line sure didn’t help matters. Dallas and Washington have played some crazy games in the past, but I just don’t see the Skins turning this season around enough to put up much of a fight. Your only hope is Fred Davis. Lets hope he gets to the Death Star in time.
Washington: Campbell -1, Moss -2, Thomas -1, Davis +1
Monday 8:30 pm
Minnesota (19th) @ Chicago (13th)
The Brett Favres hit a little Major Dad speed bump, but they get the folding Chicago Bears on Monday night to help right the ship (count the mixed metaphors and win a prize!) Can you rely on Favre after his down games? Not really. Do you start Kyle Orton over him? Not really. This game should be the Adrian Peterson show. Sidney Rice is really the only sure start this week, with Harvin and Berrian bringing up the rear.
Minnesota: Favre 0, Rice +2, Harvin +1, Berrian 0, Shiancoe -1
The Bears are in shambles. I wouldn’t touch any of them with a 10 foot cattle prod, well, maybe a cattle prod.
Chicago: Cutler -2, WR’s -2, Olsen -2