It only took until Week 15 of the NFL season, but it looks like Mike Pettine actually wants to win games in Cleveland.  After suffering through 13 games with Brian Hoyer as the quarterback, Pettine made the call to start Johnny Manziel this week against Cincinnati.  Look, I’m on record as saying that Manziel is going to be a bust in the league, and I stand by that.  However, Manziel can’t be as bad as Hoyer, and he’s the spark plug this offense needs.

First off, it should help Josh Gordon, who had just two catches last week in a dream matchup.  For me, however, I’m most excited for what this should do for the Cleveland running game, especially our start of the week, Isaiah Crowell.  We see what Le’Veon Bell did last week against the Bengals, and while no one is saying Crowell is in Bell’s class, the recipe for success is there for Crowell to have a top 10 day at the position.

Manziel’s presence should open up running lanes for both Crowell and Terrance West, but Crowell is the clear play of the two.  We’ve seen the impact that Robert Griffin has had on Alfred Morris when he is in and out of the lineup, and expect much of the same for Cleveland this week. Crowell is a top 15 running back this week, with the potential to finish much higher.

Other RBs to start: LeGarrette Blount, Alfred Morris, Mark Ingram, Jeremy Hill, Jonathan Stewart, Latavius Murray, Jets RBs, Fred Jackson, C.J. Anderson, Boom Herron, Marcel Reece.

 

Start ‘Em

Matt Ryan, Atlanta: Who saw that performance coming last week?  Not me, that’s for sure.  Anyways, Matty Ice and the Falcons return home this week to face the Steelers, who, let’s be honest, have one of if not the worst secondaries in the league.  It sure would help if Julio Jones plays (as of print on Thursday, I don’t think he will), but it won’t hurt him too much if he doesn’t.  With Jones, Ryan is a top five play.  Without Jones, he’s still a top-10 play.

Other QBs to start: Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Johnny Manziel (flyer!), Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton, Russell Wilson.

Roddy White, Atlanta: Sensing a theme here?  This game should be a shootout, and I like just about all of the offensive weapons for both teams, sans the tight ends.  It would be a boost to White if Jones misses the contest, but either way, White is a must-start option this week.

Other WRs to start: Pierre Garcon (with no D-Jax), Martavis Bryant, Kenny Stills, Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Randall Cobb, Marquess Wilson, Jeremy Maclin.

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans: I hate putting obvious starts in here, but the questions and concerns are real.  I’ve been asked and have seen numerous owners panicking over Graham, wondering what they should do with him.  Until I hear something definitive about his injury, I’m putting him in my lineup.  He received 11 targets last week after receiving none the previous week against Pittsburgh.  Graham is taking on the Bears on Monday night, who have been notoriously bad against the tight end this week.  Graham is my top tight end of the week.

Other TEs to start: Delanie Walker, Martellus Bennett, Larry Donnell, Jordan Reed, Jordan Cameron.

 

Sit ‘Em

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco:  Every other week or so, I’ll put a player in the sit section that should actually be cut from your team.  Kaepernick isn’t even a top 25 option this week, and his production for the season has been dreadful.  In keeper leagues, you can make a case for him, I guess, but in redraft leagues, get over the name value, and drop Kaepernick ASAP.  If you are somehow in your league’s playoffs still with him as your signal caller, literally pick up anyone else off of waivers and start them.

Other QBs to sit: Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Jake Locker.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego: Sit back in your seat for this one, but believe it or not, Ryan Mathews is hurt.  It’s the first time in his career, or something like that.  Anyways, Mathews had just 11 carries last Sunday night against the Patriots, and he’s still dealing with the injured leg this week in practice.  Add to the fact that he faces a tough matchup against the Broncos, I’m staying completely away from Mathews or any other San Diego running back this week.

Other RBs to sit: Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, Justin Forsett, Any Jacksonville RB, Andre Williams, Gio Bernard, Frank Gore, Bishop Sankey.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati: You aren’t sitting Green.  Not at all.  However, Joe Haden  — who can be beat — has held Green in check over their past five meetings.  If you’re choosing between two players for flex, you may want to take the one with the higher upside, as Green can’t be counted on for his typical production.  He’s a low WR1/high WR2 for me this week.

Other WRs to sit: Sammy Watkins, De’Andre Hopkins, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Keenan Allen, Marques Colston, Jordy Nelson (see Green, A.J.), Mike Wallace.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota: Again, it’s a coin flip here.  Outside of Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Greg Olsen and Julius Thomas, you are praying for a score.  Rudolph had the matchup last week, but was unable to take advantage of it.  This week, he gets a tough Lions’ squad, and he’s not getting any targets from Teddy Bridgewater.

Other TEs to sit: Heath Miller, Jermaine Gresham, Mychal Rivera, Vernon Davis, Travis Kelce, Jason Witten, Zach Ertz.

 

  1. Egon Spengler says:
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    12 team, .5 ppr. In the semi finals of playoffs. I need to decide on my Wr#3, Rb#2 and flex position. Having a hard time deciding amongst the following:

    Josh Gordon, Keenan Allen, Crowell, L.Murray and J.Stewart. Which three guys should I roll with? Thanks

  2. Tom says:
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    Non ppr Start 1 RB and Flex

    L Murray
    J Hill
    Gordon
    Benjamin

    Thanks,

  3. The Gatekeeper says:
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    12 team, .5 ppr. Need WR, RB and Flex:

    K.Allen, J.Gordon, J.Stewart, I.Crowell and L.Murray. Who should I go with?

    Appreciate any pearls of wisdom.

  4. AI says:
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    What worries you about Sammy’s matchup with the Packers? Julio took that secondary to pound town last week (not saying they are similar talents) and the Bills likely will be playing catchup.

    • @AI: matchup is good, yes, but I just worry about his inconsistencies over the past month. Think this game can get out of hand and Fjax does most of the damage.

  5. Johnny says:
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    With lacy banged up, would you prefer to go with blount and Fjax. Or if lacy is the one, who is my rb2, blount or Fjax. Thanks

    • @Johnny: Lacy makes me nervous but can’t bench him. If your league is PPR, fjax. Standard, Blount.

  6. Jim says:
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    Got a lot of mid range Rbs, need to start 3 in .5pt ppr.
    Lacy, Latavous Murray, Herron, Lamar Miller and Ingram.
    Thanks!

    • @Jim: I’m going Ingram Lacy and probably Herron over Murray.

  7. Kyle says:
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    PPR:

    Pick 2: latavius Murray Crowell and rashad Jennings

    Pick 5: Julio, Sanders, Josh Gordon, Forsett, Hill, Herron Keenan Allen

    • @Kyle: crowell and murray. Just can’t trust Jennings unless he’s going to get full workload. Bench julio and Allen. Julio won’t play and if he does, he’s just gonna be a decoy.

  8. Daniel says:
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    Standard league
    1 qb, 2rb, 2 wr, 1 flex
    i have luck or ryan at qb
    Dez, odell, maclian, Gordon for receivers
    in semifinals dont konw who to play

  9. BR808 says:
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    Big playoff matchup! Hopkins or Herron at flex??

    • @BR808: I’m going Hopkins even tho he struggled against colts earlier this year.

  10. Casey says:
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    Sanchez, romo, or stafford, good sir?

    • @Casey: Good options! I go with Stafford. He’s been hot, and I feel the safest with him.

  11. Chris says:
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    Hello Waterloo,

    I have some issues and need your help.

    QB:
    Rivers vs DEN
    Stafford vs MIN

    RB:
    Starting Murray
    2nd RB – Ryan Mathews or Sankey?
    I sat Kerwyn Williams

    WR: all good with Maclin and AJ Green

    Flex:Desean Jackson and Andre Johnson.
    I think Desean is the least injured. He had limited practie.
    Johnson is not cleared yet.

    thanks for your help!

    • @Chris: Hi Chris. I go Stafford over Rivers. Mathews is unlikely to play, so that should solve that for you. If he does, I reluctantly go him, but I’d prefer another option over both. If it’s between those two, you have to go Jackson, but be prepared to find an alternate.

  12. Just Busted says:
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    In a half ppr nfl.com league:
    Forsett, Crowell, CJ Anderson, or Lacy for two RB and one Flex position?
    also:
    Stills or Matthews for the second WR position?

    I was surprised to see you suggest sitting Forsett against Jax when they give up the 6th most points to RB’s
    Thanks!

    • @Just Busted: I’m in the minority with Forsett. My concern is that he reverts to Forsett earlier in the year which was still good, but not great. His knee was a concern this week, and if the Ravens get up big, Pierce should get the majority ofo the carries. I think Forsett will be OK, but I don’t project him for a score. For your question, I’ll take all three over Lacy with his uncertainty. Then I take Matthews over Stills….slightly.

  13. Lane Meyer says:
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    Just curious… why do you say Forsett is a “bench”? Seems like a great match up against Jax and most places have him ranked within Top 10 for the week.

    Need to pick 3 out of: E. Lacy, J. Forsett, CJ Anderson, J. Stewart, J. Hill, L. Murray

    Thanks!

    • @Lane Meyer: I’m in the minority with Forsett. My concern is that he reverts to Forsett earlier in the year which was still good, but not great. His knee was a concern this week, and if the Ravens get up big, Pierce should get the majority ofo the carries. I think Forsett will be OK, but I don’t project him for a score. For your question, I take Anderson, Forsett and Stewart…unless we know for sure that Lacy is going to get his usual work, which I don’t think we will. Hard to bench him in semis, I know.

  14. david says:
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    Just wondering why you have Cobb as a start and Nelson as a sit? Do you have good reasoning that Cobb will be the better play this week? I was kind of thinking the same thing but I have nothing to back it up. Can you please explain why you like Cobb so much this week? My assumption is that Rodgers will have to throw short and medium cause buffalo wont let him throw deep to nelson. With such a good pass rush from Buffalo its tough to find time for receivers to get deep on them. How do you feel Rodgers does this week? Thanks!

    • @david: Hi David. I’m a fantasy writer, so of course I don’t have any reasoning haha. Kidding, of course. I think that Nelson draws Stephon Gilmore this week, who is ranked as the 8th best corner since Week 7 via Pro Football Focus. I’m not going to sit him this week by any means, but I don’t expect the production he usually will get. Cobb should have a much better draw, because, as you said, I see the Packers going with short and medium routes in this game, which gives Cobb the better matchup. Packers have the tendency to move guys around (see Week 1 vs. Seattle), so we don’t really know, but if I can predict a gameplan, that’s how I see it going.

      I have Rodgers as a top 5 QB still, and I can’t see benching him. But Buffalo could give him some fits, but at the end of the day, he’ll get his one way or another.

  15. Clinton says:
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    I appreciate your advice! I had two questions. Golden Tate or D. Moncrief this week? Who should I start at RB between Hill, Stewart, Crowell or Herron? I can start two. Thank you for your help!

    Clinton

    • @Clinton: Hi Clinton. Thanks for the kind words. I’m going Golden Tate over Moncrief. At RB, I’m going Crowell and Stewart. Good luck!

  16. Jorge says:
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    Having trouble in my Flex and TE position. PPR League

    TE: Witten, Cameron, Rivera,

    Flex: L. Murray, V Jax, Gio Ber, J Starks.

    Please Help Thank you,

    Rest line up look like this QB: Ryan, WR1: Bekham jr, WR2: J Gordon, WR3: E Sanders, RB1: Lacy, RB2: Morris.

    • @Jorge: At TE, I’m going Cameron. It’s based on luck each week anymore with the position. For flex, I’m going V Jax then Murray.

      • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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        @Michael Waterloo: TE is what people used to (still do) accuse kickers of being: Unpredictable high variance plays with unprojectable floors. Kickers are actually much more predictable to me, for sure this year. Delanie Walker still is around the top 6th TE on a per game basis, and he’s straight up awful occasionally.

  17. david says:
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    Thanks Michael! Good stuff!

  18. Dddddy says:
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    Need to sit 2:

    Keenan allen
    Martavis bryant
    Dan Herron
    Doug Martin
    Kelvin Benjamin
    Reuben Randall

    I play in a 2 week matchup, and I have a size able lead (30 ish points) but have bad matchups week 2. Cant decide if I should go for upside (martavis bryant) or conservative..

      • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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        @Michael Waterloo: he appeared to want the inverse of that answer. reuben randal on rye had to be one of those answers (i would’ve said that for sure before that game, and really most of/all maybe of/ entire season)

  19. Bren says:
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    hi! Some help with who to start please, I really like the deep insight you offer, but now it’s scaring me lol

    Standard scoring:

    Start 3 WR: Nelson, evans, Jeffrey, Gordon, wilson

    Start 2 RB: JC, Ingram, joique, hill, the crow

    Start 1 TE: kelce or reed

    Thank you!

    • @Bren: Didn’t mean to scare you! I just like to offer different views and reasons for them. For WR – Nelson, Jeffery, Evans. For RBS – JC and Joique. TE – Reed if it’s Colt. Kelce if it’s RG3. Hope you win!

      • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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        @Michael Waterloo: haha, scaring razzballians everywhere! i really should’ve heeded the starting injured mccoy (he did start, but didn’t last long) news to drop reed for rudolph/clay somebody else. almost lost due to it (won by less than 2 anyway)

  20. PooPoo Platter says:
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    So with Julio probably being out and being a decoy if he does play who should I go with to replace him in a PPR – Harry Douglas, Jordan Matthews, or even Latavius Murray?

    Thanks!

    • @PooPoo Platter: Harry Douglas feels like a trap, doesn’t he? Perfect opportunity, produces when given the chance, but seems too good to be true. I have the dilemma of starting him in my home league, too. I’m going to give him a slight nod over Matthews. They are very, very close, though.

      • PooPoo Platter says:
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        @Michael Waterloo: I agree! I don’t trust him but my opponent has Matt Ryan and Roddy White so I don’t know if that swings it towards Harry at all?

  21. Nick says:
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    Hey man, Keenan Allen or Martavis Bryant at WR3 in standard league?

  22. Clinton says:
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    Following the season can you do an early 2015 draft or do and don’t for next year? Sleepers? Busts? I’m interested in your opinions and projections.

    • @Clinton: I’ve actually been trying to figure out what I wanted to do after Week 17. I’m open to all suggestions! I’ll run them by my boss and see what he thinks, but I like all of those. Wouldn’t mind updating them throughout the offseason in addition to my baseball writing, too. Appreciate it, Clinton.

  23. DiRo says:
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    I need to start Romo or Ryan. I know what you said labour Ryan even with Jones not playing, but I am worried about his production compared to that of Romo who happens to play better on the road this year.

    • @DiRo: I go Romo, tho Eagles have been tough at home this year.

  24. Clinton says:
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    One quick question on my wide receivers. Golden Tate or Marquess Wilson this week? I appreciate your advice!

    • @Clinton: it’s playoffs so for me, give me the guy who has proven to produce over the guy who might. Golden is your guy.

  25. Brett says:
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    Ppr start landry who may be up against Revis or Jennings?

    Thanks

  26. Clos says:
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    Non ppr would you start Ingram or latavius Murray?

    • A Wesley Snipes Life says:
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      @Clos: too late but nearly everyone doing rankings has ingram higher. hopefully in absence of answer you stuck that one (assuming of course ingram does better than latavius)

  27. Clinton says:
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    You hit the nail on the head this week! Golden Tate over Moncrief and Crowell over Stewart! You the man! I appreciate it. Is it too early to start thinking about week 16? Thanks for your advice!

    • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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      @Clinton: except for the lead story; manziel made hoyer look at least capable of putting up SOME pts, some of the time (not trying to be a dick, i also would’ve thought it couldn’t have been worse than hoyer). My waterloo (not using your name in this context, i literally was thinking about it earlier today, with the Napoleon reference only) in my biggest money league will turn out to be keeping gordon, thinking he’d be good other than his first 2 weeks only (since ya know, he was awesome with schlub QB’s last year, right?). Turns out the best pickup by anybody all year in this league was OBJ being picked up 4 days before the Cruz injury by a team that was already a top 3 team.

  28. Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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    that’d be a fun thing to find out about, just how many teams somehow have kaep as their starter and are still around in 2nd round of playoffs in 12 teamers (% of owners)

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