For many, this is the last chance to position their team for the playoffs. In the case of those simply trying to make the playoffs, this is the time to make sure you get it right on your roster calls. And for those in a must-win situation facing a tough match-up, it’s time to make a few high-risk, high-reward moves that could get you that win. Let’s take a look at what’s out there for everyone in the games that remain this week.
Anyone need a point-making wide receiver today? Those of you who own Josh Gordon have him. In leagues with few owners and wide receiver slots, he can be overshadowed by bigger names. And some still think of him as a WR2. Today he faces in Jacksonville Jaguars in Cleveland. Gordon is low-risk, high reward WR1, and today he should cash in big-time. Start him if you have him.
Speaking of Cleveland, if you are struggling to fill a DST slot, especially if you own the Kansas City DST as they go against Denver, find out if the Cleveland DST is available. They have put up decent points throughout the season and should put together some solid numbers today against the Jags. In the meantime, if you own the Kansas City DST, try to find another DST for this week. The Chiefs are struggling to get sacks, let alone hold down opponents from scoring. Not a good time to start them against Peyton Manning. If you can’t get Cleveland, consider the Dolphins DST, which is facing error-prone Geno Smith and the New York Jets today.
Running backs have a lot of fantasy dynamics going on this week. Andre Brown has a tasty task ahead of him against the Redskins. What’s more, Brandon Jacobs will be on the sidelines this week, which means Jacobs won’t be there to vulture touchdowns from Brown at the goal line. The Redskins have been playing some better defense against the run lately. They put a choke hold on Frank Gore last week. But that may be more a matter of Gore slowing down at this stage in the season than about the Redskins getting better. Brown is a low-end RB1 with some upside this week.
Knowshon Moreno is expected to be on the field this week. He suffered an ankle bruise late in the game against New England last week that put him on crutches for a few days. Despite the fact Moreno is playing, his owners should temper their expectations. It’s unknown how much the Broncos will play him. With other backs available to lighten the load, don’t be surprised in Moreno carries the ball only 15 times. On the flip side, the Chiefs are weak against the run. This would be a fantastic match-up for Moreno if he were fully healthy. But he’s not, so go into this game thinking of Moreno as a RB2 – one with upside if he gets hot or receives more carries than expected.
Stevan Ridley may have burned all his bridges after fumbling yet again last week. He was benched the rest of the game after that incident. Owners should avoid playing Ridley. Keep him on your roster if you can. But the better play for now is Shane Vereen. He could see some carries and a handful of receptions today against Houston, making Vereen an RB2 in ppr leagues, and a flex play in standard leagues this week.
And then there is the great high-risk, high-reward opportunity for those need to bring down a Goliath to get into the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills play host to the Atlanta Falcons today. That means big opportunities on the ground for Buffalo. The problem is determining which back is more likely to get the best numbers: Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller. My money today is on Spiller. He has had time to rest and heal. And he is still an explosive back. He may not get as many carries as Jackson, although I suspect a 50-50 split is likely. But you may see Spiller get back to his normal yards per carry figures. He might even take a long gain down the field for a touchdown. Spiller is worth a shot today. Play him as a high-risk, high-reward RB2 with lots of upside. And those who own Fred Jackson should consider starting him as a RB2 with some upside.
Nick Foles is a QB2 with potential downside against Arizona today. A better play would be Chicago’s Josh McCown, if you can get him. He’ll be in a dome-environment throwing against the Vikings today. It’s a beautiful match-up, making McCown a high-end QB2 with upside this week.
Owners of Percy Harvin will need to cool their heels for at least another week. Harvin has not been practicing this week as his hip injury has flared up. He is officially considered Doubtful for Monday night’s game against New Orleans. That affects QB Russell Wilson’s numbers a bit. He is now a low-end QB1 with downside for Week 13. But it does bring WR Doug Baldwin back into the fantasy picture. Baldwin becomes a high-risk flex option for those who need to toss the dice and pray for the points.
A better sneaky option would be Rueben Randle. He’s not so sneaky – everyone knows he can score. But Hakeem Nicks looks ready to resume his normal wide receiver duties, knocking Randle back on the depth chart. Fantasy owners should keep in mind that Randle seems to do his best damage when people aren’t expecting much from him. This situation fits the bill, and the Redskins porous secondary will contribute to Randle’s upside. He is a high-end WR3 or solid flex play this week.
And then there is Coby Fleener. Although his quarterback is facing a Tennessee defense that could slow him down, the Titans are soft when it comes to defending against tight ends. This is a great opportunity for Fleener, who is already showing he can be counted on to put up decent fantasy points in the Colts’ new “minus Reggie Wayne offense”. Fleener is a low-end TE1 with upside this week. Use him if you need him.
Finally, for those excited about the return of Michael Crabtree in San Francisco, be careful. Don’t expect Crabtree to get a full workload this week. The 49ers will likely take a gradual approach here. So hold off on placing Crabtree in your starting lineup and inflating Kaepernick’s numbers. It will be another week or two before it all comes together. It will be worth the wait.
So there you have it folks. A little bit of Sunday morning insight for you as you tweak your fantasy rosters. May the fantasy football gods be with you as you fight your way through whatever playoff scenario you may be facing this week. I’ll be available on Twitter the rest of the morning @MurphysGuide.