Whether you've already locked up a playoff spot or are fighting for a chance to play in the winner's bracket, these are the guys you want to have in your lineup this week. I added some guys who you may want to stay away from, as well.
Ben Roethlisberger, vs. Buffalo
To me, I think this is rather obvious. Roethlisberger has racked up 275-plus yards and three touchdowns through the air in two consecutive games and has thrown just four interceptions in his six starts this season. Buffalo's defense has allowed 20 touchdown passes this season and has allowed the second-least turnovers with 11 (tied with Denver). Huge mismatch in Pittsburgh's favor.
Brett Favre, vs. Washington
Tough to predict what will happen with Favre at this point, but if you don't have an elite quarterback on your roster then Favre may be your best bet. He has a favorable matchup against the 29th-ranked passing defense in Washington, plus Favre's favorite target from 2009, Sidney Rice, seems to be close to getting back on track. Perhaps tomorrow is his breakout game.
Kyle Orton, vs. St. Louis
Orton has shown he belongs on the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks list this season. With at least one touchdown pass in all 10 of Denver's games, Orton has done everything he can for the Broncos, despite their 3-7 record. He hasn't been a winner in reality, but fantasy and reality can very easily have different outcomes when it comes to the National Football League. Orton has protected the ball well with just six interceptions and two fumbles. A matchup with St. Louis should produce solid numbers for Orton, but that doesn't necessarily mean Denver will come out victorious.
Matt Cassel, vs. Seattle
One of the more underrated quarterbacks, fantasy-wise at least, Cassel has a nice looking matchup Sunday against Seattle's 30th-ranked pass defense. Fighting to stay alive in the AFC West race, the only thing going against Cassel in this game is the fact that the Chiefs are 1-4 on the road and the game will be played in Seattle. Seattle has allowed at least 290 passing yards and a combined 10 touchdown passes in their past four games. Cassel is sure to be licking his chops right now.
Eli Manning, vs. Jacksonville
This may surprise everyone, other than Eli's skeptics, considering the younger Manning brother has currently scored the sixth-most fantasy points among NFL quarterbacks (according to my league on ESPN.com). But after throwing three picks in last week's loss and losing leading receiver Hakeem Nicks for at least a couple weeks, I think a hot Jags team--on a season-high three game win streak--will be able to contain Eli and keep him from lighting up the scoreboard.
Matt Ryan/Aaron Rodgers, playing each other
Both are elite quarterbacks, but seeing as they are both signal callers for Super Bowl contenders coming out of the NFC, they each have tough defenses and will need to play safe football. Atlanta and Green Bay are both top six scoring defenses (Green Bay is tied with Chicago for least amount of points allowed with 146) and have intercepted 15 passes this season. Theses two elite quarterbacks may be seeing themselves throwing touchdown passes to the defenders, instead of their own receivers.
Peyton Hillis, vs. Carolina
Hillis has had a huge breakout season thus far, with three 100-yard games and eight touchdowns for the lowly Cleveland Browns. Facing off against Carolina, at home, is already great news for Hillis. What makes it even more of a no-brainer (starting Hillis, that is) is the fact that Jake Delhomme will be making his return to the lineup after rookie Colt McCoy suffered a high ankle sprain. This likely means Hillis will see more carries/touches come his way in order to take pressure off Delhomme.
Michael Turner, vs. Green Bay
It may look like I'm contradicting myself after listing Matt Ryan under the sit category and saying the game will be dominated by the defenses, but Turner has had some solid games and the ground game will be crucial against a defense that revolves around rushing the quarterback and stopping the pass. The only team Turner didn't fare well against in the past three games was Baltimore's smash-mouth defense led by veteran Ray Lewis. Turner will be the key to Atlanta coming out on top in this NFC showdown.
Ahmad Bradshaw, vs. Jacksonville
Jacksonville will be so focused on stopping Eli Manning that they will likely forget all about Bradshaw, who has done a nice job stepping in for the overrated Brandon Jacobs and has had a solid 2010 campaign. This success will continue as long as he works on that fumbling problem. Bradshaw is one of those bruising tailbacks who is bound to break-free nearly every time he touches the ball.
Mike Tolbert, vs. Indianapolis
With rookie Ryan Mathews still ailing, Tolbert has been forced to step up and recorded his second 100-yard game last week against the Broncos with 111 and a touchdown. Tolbert now has eight rushing touchdowns this season as a fill-in and has a favorable matchup against Indy's 29th-best run defense. Tolbert is a must-start if your backfield has been hit with the injury bug.
Maurice Jones-Drew, vs. New York Giants
Jones-Drew has turned his disappointing season around the past few weeks, but an unfavorable matchup with the league's fourth-best run defense on the road in New York doesn't look like good for MJD and his Jags, who currently hold the lead in the AFC South. P.S. Their division lead will be short-lived with Peyton and Co.
Fred Jackson, vs. Pittsburgh
Sorry, Buffalo fans! But your current win streak will end tomorrow, at your house, against the phenomenal run defense of Pittsburgh. As will Jackson's two-game 100 yard-plus streak. But hey, it was great while it lasted, right?
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Wallace, vs. Buffalo
Ben's favorite target will sure to get some looks against a defense that has allowed 20 touchdowns through the air this season. Buffalo has picked off just four of their opponents' pass attempts this season and I wouldn't be surprised if Roethlisberger tried to hook up with Wallace on a couple deep passes throughout the game.
Vernon Davis, vs. Arizona
Listed as probable, Davis seems to be gaining his health back. And after an off-game (1 catch for three yards against Tampa before leaving the game) last week Davis seems poised to break out with a solid performance against Arizona's weak pass defense, who has allowed the second-most points in the league this season.
Roddy White, vs. Green Bay
I will most likely end up regretting the decision to put White on the sit list, but it's tough when he has such an unfavorable matchup against a defense like Green Bay's. Expect Matt Ryan to be pressured most of the game, meaning his passes may not be quite as on-target as usual. Therefore hurting White's number of targets.
Randy Moss, vs. Houston
Another big, superstar name on my sit list. But, if you are an active NFL fan then you know Moss's, and the Titans', story this season. Moss has been merely a decoy, leaving other Titan receivers with single coverage. With the injury to Vince Young, the rookie Rusty Smith will make his first career start, furthermore hurting Randy's stock. Maybe it's time for him to hang up his cleats? Just a thought.
Defense and STs/Kickers
Expect a couple of INTs and sacks of Buffalo's immobile Ryan Fitzpatrick as well as a stout run defense against Jackson. Maybe a touchdown or two as well?? We'll see.
Sebastian Janikowski, vs. Miami
The highest-scoring kicker this season may get quite a bit of opportunities tomorrow with a close game likely headed our way. Oakland has relied quite a bit on Janikowski and he has really pulled through. With Bruce Gradkowski returning to the lineup as the starter, we may see quite a few Sebastian field goal attempts.
Ok, yes, I understand that Chicago's defense has been the best there is this season, leading the league in several defensive categories. But they have yet to try and stop Vick, who is making a strong case for league MVP this season. In eight of Philly's 10 games the offense has put up 20 or more points. This very well may be the game of the week.
Houston knows they will be facing a rookie quarterback in Rusty Smith, so on offense I wouldn't be surprised if the Texans came right at Tennessee early and often, putting more pressure on Rusty Smith and his right arm.
Thanksgiving picks: Pats over Lions (correct), Saints over Cowboys (correct, barely), Jets over Bengals (correct).
Sunday November, 28, 2010
Giants over Jags
Steelers over Bills
Vikings over Skins
Browns over Panthers
Falcons over Packers
Texans over Titans
Chiefs over Seahawks
Raiders over Dolphins
Eagles over Bears
Rams over Broncos
Ravens over Bucs
Chargers over Colts
Monday November 29, 2010
Niners over Cardinals
Kyle Orton: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
Peyton Hillis: AP Photo/Mark Duncan
Fred Jackson: AP Photo/Ed Behrman
Vernon Davis: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Steelers' defense (James Farrior and Ryan Clark): AP Photo/Don Wright
Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis: AP Photo/Rick Osentoski