By Alan Squatrito
Bills vs. Patriots
With the Patriots locking up a spot in the AFC East, the Bills have a chance of catching the Patriots in a trap game, but that shouldn’t really happen. The Patriots still need to fight for the first seed to get home field advantage. The Bills are the worst rush defense in the NFL and that is no secret. Coach Belichick knows he doesn’t have to pull any tricks out of his sleeve in this game and he can simply pound the ball all game. I just hope he can motivate his players for 4 quarters against a team who is 4-10. I think Danny Woodhead and Benjarvus Green-Ellis are great starts this weekend! Woodhead is a better ppr start while Green-Ellis is a better touchdown heavy start. I am contemplating starting Woodhead over The Great White Water Buffalo this weekend (Peyton Hillis) because I have more confidence in this matchup against the Bills. I like both Patriots running backs as solid number two backs this weekend while Fred Jackson is a solid number 1 @ home, as the Bills will be looking to leave the 2010 season on a high note. I wouldn’t trust any of the Patriots tight ends this weekend just because it’s always a guessing game. Whatever the Patriots let out about their tight ends in the media, pick the other tight end to start. The Patriots try to be slick as much as they can, revealing nothing or the complete opposite of their game plan prior to kickoff. Last weekend Aaron Hernandez “wasn’t feeling well” and “wasn’t expected to play.” The rookie hauled in two touchdowns! Unreal, I’d take a gamble on Gronkowski this weekend if I had to because his name has been mentioned in the media this week in terms of maybe having a few setbacks. Make no mistake; this game may be a high scoring game, especially in the second half. I like Wes Welker as a solid number two wide receiver while Steve Johnson is a border line number one receiver this weekend. I wouldn’t feel too confident starting any other players in this game, especially for your fantasy Super Bowl! I like the Bills to spoil the Patriots’ Christmas weekend fun and win this one 43-41.
Bears vs. Jets
The Bears and Jets respect one another and pride themselves in their defenses. This will be the Jets second road game in a row after beating the Steelers at Heinz Field last weekend. The Jets played a solid game against a great team last weekend while the Bears didn’t have to do much to get a win against the Vikings last weekend. These teams are both battle tested and I know it is hard to win two road games in a row but if there’s a few teams that can do that in the NFL, the Jets are one of them. I think this game is going to be a low scoring game because both teams can rely on their defenses. Their defenses may be the best fantasy starts this weekend for your Super Bowl squad. Jay Cutler is a number 2 quarterback this week in fantasy while Sanchez is a borderline number 3 quarterback this weekend for fantasy. Dustin Keller seems to be the best start to me out of all the players on both sides of the ball in this game. Dustin is a comfortable pillow for Sanchez to lie down on this year and especially in big games. I also like the Jets running backs this weekend. It’s not fun having to choose between Ladanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene each week but regardless it’s about that time one of them start doing something again. This is another guessing game but the truth of the matter is that Shonn Greene will most likely get the better of the two backs in between the 20’s while Ladanian may have the best chance to score in the red zone. Shonn Greene still has the edge in my mind because I think he can break one for a score while the Bears defense is tiring out. You can still flip a coin of course but if I had to pick one over the other I would pick Greene because I think he is due for a nice game, his teammates need him to pick up some slack. Santonio Holmes is a number three wide receiver start while Braylon Edwards is a risky option. I don’t think Johnny Knox should be started this weekend in any leagues to be honest with you all. I know it’s hard to sit him but I think Earl Bennett and Greg Olsen will have the better day. Devin Hester should be a wide receiver in every snap of this game to free up some space for the other wide receivers for the Bears. The Jets secondary is scary and so is Devin Hester, utilize him Coach! I don’t like Forte or Taylor this weekend because they are going up against the Jets rush defense that gives up 3.6 yards a carry. I don’t trust them. Matt Forte in a ppr league may get you some fantasy points however, but is still a weak flex play in my mind. I think the Jets go on the road and get another win 20-17.
Browns vs. Ravens
It’s times like these where teams start showing their true colors. If you make the playoffs or not Coaches and GM’s get a chance to evaluate their players, what they have left in the tank, and what they are willing to sacrifice at the end of the season. The Ravens mentality gets meaner and meaner as the season goes on and on top of that, they are playing their best football right now. Ray Lewis had nothing but fearful things to say after Tuesday’s practice about Peyton Hillis. He was disgruntled and agitated in the fact that the Ravens defense allowed Hillis to gash them for 144 yards and a score in their first meeting this year. I don’t think Hillis is scared, but it’s Hillis vs. the world this Sunday and I don’t think he is going to have a game like he did the first game they played. Also, I am going to take Ray Lewis’s word for it that they are going to slow down Hillis. Hillis also has been slowed down in the last couple of games and seems to be tiring out with 300 plus carries this season. It’s going to be a tough matchup for him but you know he is still going to get the rock all game. I think Hillis is more of a solid flex start this weekend instead of a number one or two fantasy running back. Ray Rice on the other hand is coming off his best game of the season last weekend with two scores and over 200 total yards in offense. Ray Rice is going to roll all over the Browns and I think he has a similar game to last week and continue providing a solid spark for the Ravens the rest of the way. I like Anquan Boldin as a solid number 2 wide receiver this weekend while I don’t trust any of the wide outs for the Browns. Well, I don’t really trust Colt McCoy and neither should you. The Ravens defense is going to gobble him up and get ready for the playoffs, start the Ravens defense with confidence as well! I like the Ravens smoking the Browns this weekend 31-10.
Jaguars vs. Redskins
Rex Grossman threw four touchdowns last weekend and had a 92 quarterback rating? It’s true. Maurice Jones-Drew being doubtful for this weekend’s game vs. the Redskins is also true. Rashad Jennings should fare well and is a solid number two running back regardless but I think the Jaguars are going to get spoiled by the Redskins in this one and lose a very important game, knocking them out of the playoff race. Ryan Torain has been back and showing the world why he is the number one running back for the Redskins, he can definitely carry the full load. Despite the fact that I may be in disagreement with the Shanahan’s this season and how they have treated Donovan McNabb, I still think Coach Shanahan is a better coach than Jack Del-Rio and this is what gives the Redskins the edge in this game. I like Santana Moss as a number two wide receiver (had two td’s last weekend) this weekend as the Jaguars are not that solid in their pass defense this year, nor are they that great against the run while Ryan Torain remains a true number one running back this weekend on a team who likes to run the ball first before the pass. Chris Cooley is a solid number one tight end this weekend as well. The Jaguars are ranked 23rd against opposing tight ends this season, so if you have Cooley start him with confidence. I know I ripped Grossman last weekend and I want to make an apology. He is a solid number two quarterback this weekend according to the Jags defense and his performance last week. I like David Garrard as a number two quarterback with upside to being a number one vs. the Redskins this weekend because the Redskins secondary is ranked in the bottom half of the league against the pass and they were actually ranked dead last for much of the 2010 season until recently. Marcedes Lewis is a true number one tight end this weekend as he seems to be the most reliable target for the Jags. I like Mike Sims-Walker as a number two wide receiver with some upside to be a solid number one. I like the Redskins winning this game on the road and spoiling the Jaguars chances of making the playoffs, 28-24.
Chiefs vs. Titans
The Chiefs have been proving to us time and time again that they are the real deal with one of the best running games in the NFL and with Matt Cassel coming along as their franchise quarterback of the future. Jamaal Charles is a solid number one start this weekend while Thomas Jones is a decent flex play. Dwayne Bowe is a risky start but then again the Chiefs are home and he is due for a better outing than his last three games. The Chiefs know that the Chargers are right behind them trying to compete in the division as well as the under the radar Raiders so I don’t think the Chiefs are going to take it easy at home in Arrowhead this weekend. The Titans are playing their hearts out for Jeff Fisher but they don’t have enough talent on both sides of the ball to beat the Chiefs this weekend. The only person you can start with confidence this weekend for the Titans is Chris Johnson as he has been playing to his potential as of late. Kenny Britt is a risky number two start this weekend but also comes with very good upside. I like the Chiefs to win this game 24-17.
Dolphins vs. Lions
The Miami Dolphins are 1-6 at home and 6-1 on the road this year. Don’t ask me how or why but it’s the truth. The Lions have a decent chance of winning this game despite that it will be their second consecutive game on the road because Shaun Hill is going to be behind center once again for the Lions, giving them a better chance of winning. The Dolphins are one of the better run stuffers in the league so I expect the Lions to get their scores through the air, which makes Calvin Johnson still a great number one start this weekend, especially in ppr leagues. I don’t think this is going to be a high scoring game however and a lot of this game is going to be fought in between the 20’s all day. Ronnie Brown has potential to blow up against the Lions rush defense while they rank 27th against fantasy running backs this year so picture Ronnie Brown as a solid number two running back while Maurice Morris is a risky start and should be considered as only a flex, especially with Jahvid Best listed as probable. Don’t take that chance. Brandon Pettigrew is a better start this weekend than in the last couple of weeks because Hill is starting but Miami is very solid defending tight ends this season but Pettigrew is still a solid number two start at 6 foot 6 and the number one overall tight end picked in the draft two years ago. Anthony Fasano is a good start this weekend as a number two tight end while Brandon Marshall should be plugged in and is a solid number one this weekend. I like the Lions to win their second road game in a row, 20-17.
Rams vs. Niners
This team has the craziest quarterback controversy all season long but the Niners will start Troy Smith once again instead of Alex Smith for the rest of the regular season. Rumor has it that Troy Smith wants to play more than Alex Smith while Alex Smith seems to have had it with all the criticism in San Francisco. Alex Smith seems to be in similar shoes as Joey Harrington when he played with the Lions unfortunately but the song must go on and the Niners will look to get their second win against the Rams this season while rookie Sam Bradford is going through his rookie slump. The Niners are going to find a way to win this game but I am not sure who is going to be the go to guy to give your fantasy team the edge this weekend if you had to rely on a 49er. Vernon Davis seems to have the most upside with Troy back in the lineup but consider the 49ers to play it conventional and very similar to the first game they have played against the Rams because the 49ers are a very predictable team and will stick with what has worked in the past, hence another reason to start Troy Smith this weekend as he beat the Rams the first time they played this season. Troy Smith had 356 yards passing while Vernon Davis had 79 yards receiving. This was a close game 23-20 with very few mistakes. Frank Gore was also healthy and playing in this game while Sam Bradford was in the midst of playing solid football. I think the Niners have the formula to win this game despite that they are on the road. I simply just don’t trust Sam Bradford and think he will make more mistakes than Troy Smith. Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook are risky starts this weekend because you’re not too sure who will get a better chance to score but I give Dixon the edge with a few goal line carries. Steven Jackson is a low end number one running back this weekend and you know he is going to contribute to your fantasy team win or lose (actual game). Michael Crabtree scored a touchdown the last time they played and may score one again in this matchup, we will have to wait and see. I like the 49ers to win this game on the road, 28-17. Good Luck in the fantasy Super Bowl gang! Win that $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$! Merry Christmas!