FantasySavvy 2012: Week 14 Fantasy Five (Playoff Edition)

By: Alex Schoenfeld

The first round of the playoffs is here. For those who are lucky enough to still have a heartbeat feast your eyes on the fantasy five.

Dallas @ Cincinnati:

Usually, when discussing anything Bengals, we start with AJ Green. Not this week. Here’s a question for you football buffs: What do Corey Dillon and BenJarvus Green-Ellis have in common? Easy right? Both played for the Patriots. What I bet you didn’t know, is that “The Law Firm” has run for 100+ yards in his past 3 games; making him the first Bengals back since (yep, that’s right) Corey Dillon (circa 1999) to put up such numbers. Can he continue this pace against a porous Cowboys run defense? He’s got my vote. My stat prediction: 26 attempts for 106 yards, 1 TD along with 4 catches for 19 yards.

Keeping with our running back theme, DeMarco Murray had a nice game against Philadelphia last week (who hasn’t?) with 23 attempts for 83 yards and a score. So much for Garrett’s plan to ease him back into a normal workload. Murray is angry. Missing the majority of the season with a bum foot has him mad at the world, so expect hard “hit you before you hit me” type runs. Don’t overthink this one; he’s a top 10 RB play. My stat prediction: 18 attempts for 88 yards and 5 catches for 50 yards and a rec TD.

AJ versus Dez. Green is the better option but I like them both to find the endzone. My stat prediction: AJ: 10 receptions for 115 yards and a TD. DB: 6 Receptions for 77 yards and a TD. Offensively, both of these teams are hitting their stride; finding that “oh so difficult” balance between the run and passing game.

I anticipate sporadic quarterback play in this game. Tony Romo should have the better day of the two, but don’t discount Andy Dalton and his ability to find AJ deep. My prediction: Romo: 23-40 270 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s. Dalton 18-27 230 yards 2 TD’s 1INT.



Chicago @ Minnesota:

Adrian Peterson. Need I say more? This guy is NOT human. If Fox’s robot “Cleatus” actually played on Sunday’s, his number would be 28, his team the Vikings and the name would be Peterson. With Urlacher already declared out for the game (and possibly the remainder of the regular season) expect AP to gash the normally stout Bears defense. This is a do or die game for the Vikings so expect desperation. Stat prediction: 30 attempts for 154 yards and 1 TD along with 4 catches for 27 yards.

With teams focusing more of their defensive strategies to contain Brandon Marshall, we should see opportunity for Matt Forte. Forte is a perfect example of my “law of averages” theory. He has had a solid season, but truly underwhelmed projections until this point. I predict BIG receiving numbers for Forte from this week out. My stat prediction: 18 rush for 70 yards and 8 receptions for 85 yards and 1 TD.

Fantasy favorite Percy Harvin is on IR. We all know his ability, and in the same breath, we know his propensity for injury.This hurts many fantasy teams, but owners can’t say they weren’t warned. Don’t get cute with Jerome Simpson. If there’s any viable receiving option for Minnesota, it’s Rudolph or Jarius Wright. Of course, these are complete lottery tickets, so owners beware. Rudolph has been hot of late however.

We thought the big and physical secondary play of the Seahawks would limit Brandon Marshall. Mark that under the list of “things that DIDN’T happen” last week. He did everything but find the endzone. We know he’s a PPR freak, but the yards came with it this time (165). He cut up the Vikings secondary two weeks ago for a line of 12 catches for 92 yards. I don’t think he will have 17 targets like he did in the previous match-up, but I do expect him to find pay dirt. Stat prediction: 9 receptions for 95 yards and 2 TD’s.

Quarterback play in this game should be lopsided. I like Jay Cutler to keep his playoff push focus up against a susceptible Viking’s pass D. Stat prediction: 21-30 288 yards and 3 TD’s 2INT.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT even sniff Christian Ponder. Over the past seven weeks, he’s thrown for 76 less yards than AP has ran for over that span. He couldn’t take advantage of Green Bay’s vulnerable defense, what makes you think he can produce against arguably the best? Stat prediction: 14-29 215 yards 2 INT’s.



Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

The secret’s out. Bryce Brown will hurt you. Now that opponents know what he’s capable of, can they stop him? If any team in the league can, it would be the Buccaneers. Their stingy run D only allows a mere 82 yards per game. The only two players in the league than broke the century rushing mark against the Bucs run defense are Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris. But I still like Brown. Stat Prediction: 18 attempts for 70 yards 1 TD along with 5 catches for 61 yards (plus 1 fumble).

Rookie wall? What rookie wall? Doug Martin has been great this year. Owners who took a chance with him are being rewarded greatly for their intuition. Philadelphia has quit on their season. This means that “they aren’t who we thought they were” players in DeMeco Ryans and Nnamdi Asomugha won’t be risking next year’s health on stopping the “Muscle Hamster.” I think this will be an explosive game for all key pieces in each offense. Stat prediction: 28 attempts 120 yards 1 TD along with 6 catches for 63 yards and 1 TD.

With nothing to lose, I think the Eagles will test out rookie Nick Foles. He has the tools to be a successful NFL QB; size, arm strength, presence etc… With DeSean Jackson out, let’s see if that frees up Jeremy Maclin and possibly Jason Avant. Last time Maclin saw the Bucs, he exploded for 142 yards on 6 catches with 2 TD’s. My stat prediction for Foles: 25-43 277 yards 2 TD’s 3 INT. Stat Prediction for Maclin: 5 receptions 94 yards 1 TD. Avant prediction: 7 receptions 72 yards.

Josh Freeman will have a big day at home. If you need a TE, pick up Dallas Clark (if available still). It seems like their receiving core is finally clicking. I start Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Heck, if you’re desperate, there are worse spot starts than Tiquan Underwood. Nothing like a desperate team facing a demoralized squad at home. Freeman stat prediction: 26-40 311 yards 3 TD’s and 1INT. Clark prediction: 5 receptions 40 yards and 1 TD. Jackson prediction: 11 receptions 122 yards. Mike Williams prediction: 4 receptions 80 yards 1 TD. Underwood prediction: 4 catches 49 yards.



Baltimore @ Washington:

The Ravens were embarrassed. Check that, humiliated by their bitter divisional foe; who I might add was starting an ancient QB (I see you Charlie Batch). How will they respond?

With a banged up Terrell Suggs, who will match the physicality of Alfred Morris? Who will contain Robert Griffin III? If you’re scratching your head over those propositions, trust me, you’re not alone.

I absolutely love Morris in this spot. Those who did their research before the season are reaping the benefits of Alfred’s domination. At home I think he has one of his best games of the season. The traditional defense style of the Ravens is not conducive to stopping the ‘Skins “Pistol” formations. With RG3 opening up lanes, there will be no telling how damaging Morris will be. Prediction: 24 attempts for 143 yards 2 TD’s along with 3 catches for 19 yards.

RG3 will have a day. Pierre Garcon is back in the mix; expect him to be located early and often. These two have nice chemistry for only playing in about 6 games together. Griffin III Stat prediction: 15-21 210 yards 2 TD’s along with 7 rushes for 50 yards. Garcon stat prediction: 9 receptions 82 yards and 1 TD.

In order for Baltimore to hang with Washington, they will HAVE to score. As I’ve noticed all season, even though Ray Rice is considered the focal point of the offense, Joe Flacco dictates whether they sink or swim.

The Redskins defense will have an emotional letdown after a high intensity Monday night game against the Giants. Flacco will throw the ball deep. With DeAngelo Hall shadowing Torrey Smith for the majority of the game, I like Anquan Boldin to work the middle of the field. I also like Dennis Pitta as a top 10 tight end. Flacco stat prediction: 22-38 327 yards 2 TD’s 1 INT. Rice stat prediction: 25 attempts for 94 yards 1 TD along with 6 receptions for 59 yards. Smith stat prediction: 4 receptions 77 yards. Boldin stat prediction:10 receptions 105 yards 1 TD. Pitta stat prediction: 3 receptions 50 yards 1 TD.



New Orleans @ New York Giants:

Big game at Met-Life Stadium. The Giants need this one to keep their heads above water in the division. The Saints are on life support for a wild card spot, one more loss and their season is over.

After one of his worst performances of his career (5 INT’s no TD’s) last week against the Falcons, Drew Brees is aware of the task ahead. He knows that only his best of the season will allow New Orleans to take down the defending champs in their own house. Stat prediction: 29-51 330 yards 2 TD’s 2 INT’s. Brees fights to the end but can’t seal the deal. I don’t think this is the game where Darren Sproles gets his game back. The Giants have a very deep and athletic defensive line that can contain him. Stat prediction: 3 rushes for 20 yards along with 6 receptions for 44 yards. Jimmy Graham will find the endzone. He is always a matchup disaster and will work the middle of the field and red zone effectively. Stat prediction: 8 Receptions 78 yards 2 TD’s.

Despite the loss in D.C. this past Monday, Eli Manning looks as if he’s regained his early season form. The Saints have one of the worst defenses in the league, and playing outside of their dome, I can see Manning doing damage. Keep in mind N.O.’s d-coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s claim to fame is the SuperBowl title in 2008. With the Giants. There will be a familiarity of schemes; which can serve to help Eli audible at the line, as he does so well.  Stat Prediction: 28-39 318 yards 3 TD’s 1 INT.

Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Reuben Randel, Martellus Bennett. Giants have weapons. Eli can spread the ball around (especially on this Saints sieve-like defense). Out of this group though, I believe Bennett will outperform his mediocre projections. Bennett stat prediction: 7 receptions 90 yards 1 TD. Nicks has been hobbled the majority of the year, but as we’ve seen in the past, the closer to playoff time the more dynamic play of Hakeem. With Cruz whittling away at trust factor with Eli (leading the league in drops), Hakeem gets a bump in targets. Stat projection: 11 receptions 105 Yards 1 TD. Cruz will be efficient, stat projection: 6 receptions 55 yards 1 TD.

I don’t trust any of the running backs in this game. Obviously, if you have Ahmad Bradshaw, you’re starting him. I think he’ll underwhelm against a terrible rush defense but could find the endzone. Stat prediction: 15 attempts 54 yards 1 TD along with 4 catches for 34 yards. If I had to choose one Saints back, it would be Pierre Thomas, based solely on the fact that I think he’ll have goal line carries. Stat prediction: 13 rushes 68 yards 1 TD along with 3 receptions for 35 yards.


Fantasy Savvy Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 14 Playoff Edition

We are finally here, Week 14, The Playoffs! Playoffs? Yes the Playoffs! And if you are reading this most likely you have made it this far. Congratulations. The playoffs have already started in a couple of leagues that I am in, but for the majority of owners crunch time begins now. By now your rosters should pretty much be set and you should have a good feel for your team. But there will always be that one or two decisions each week that can make ya or break ya. So this week we go a little further. Each player, from top to bottom will be ranked in order of their effectiveness or ineffectiveness depending on which category they are in. Again, if you have any specific questions you can email me directly at

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QB’s Start Em

Matthew Stafford vs Minnesota

Stafford shed the splint and took off the gloves last week and finished with a fairly solid game at New Orleans throwing for 400 yards with one TD. This week it gets even better vs Minnesota and their Swiss cheese defense which is giving up the most amount of points QB’s. Stafford is an excellent start this week, at home, in a game where Detroit needs to win.

Phillip Rivers vs Buffalo

With Malcolm Floyd returning on Monday night, Rivers tore up the Jaguars by throwing for just under 300 yards with 3 TD’s. Floyd give Rivers another deep threat and opens things up for Gates, Jackson and Matthews. With his full arsenal healthy, look for Rivers to keep it going at home in a must win game against Buffalo.

Matt Ryan @ Carolina

Ryan had started to heat up of late, but hit a bit of rough patch last week against a solid Houston secondary. But this week I think he picks it back up again at Carolina in what should be a fairly high scoring game. Michael Turner will be getting a lot of carries in this game as he matches up with the porous Carolina run D, but that means Atlanta will be moving the chains and Ryan will see plenty of scoring chances. Look for Ryan to finish with around 250 yards passing with 2-3 TD’s.

Sleeper/Desperation Play- Rex Grossman @ New England, Carson Palmer @ GB

Both these guys are facing teams that will dictate their offense to throw early and often. Also the Patriots and Green Bay both have been giving up a lot of yards through the air all year. It’s playoff time and it’s hard to trust these guys, but if you have to rock with them, then go for it. I give Palmer the slight edge over Grossman.


Sit ‘Em

Mark Sanchez @ Kansas City

Have to avoid Sanchez in this matchup if you can. This will most likely be another ground it out, defensive, low scoring battle. The Jets will be looking to pound the rock once again with Shonn Greene and win it with defense. When Sanchez is throwing he will have a tough time vs an improved Kansas City pass D giving up the 6th least amount of points to QB’s. 

Andy Dalton vs Houston

Dalton hasn’t thrown for more than one TD in his last three games. Granted they were all tough matchups against Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but the matchup is tough once again against Houston allowing the 4th fewest amount of points to QB’s. Don’t sit AJ Green, that guy is matchup proof, but Dalton’s most likely needs to be on your bench.

Ben Roethlisberger vs Cleveland 

Playoffs have started, you own Big Ben, he’s playing tonight and your are itching to get a player in your fantasy lineup! I feel you, I’ve been there before and made some stupid starts just because I wasn’t patient and wanted to see my player perform right away. But If you have better options, you need to sit Ben this week. Cleveland’s secondary is for real, they have been all year and teams attack them on the ground. The Steelers will control this game, so you will see a heavy dose of Rashard Mendenhall and Issac Redman. Ben will probably have a subpar game, so keep him reserved.

Possible Benching- Tim Tebow @ Chicago

I’m a Tebow fan, I love this dude and I have defended him all year, but this might be a spot you want to sit him. The Bears have the defensive speed with Urlacher, Briggs, and Peppers to contain Tebow’s running and slow down the Broncos run game. Tebow really hasn’t had a bad game all year scoring 18 points or more every week, but this could possibly be his worse game of the year. If you have stronger options, consider benching Tebow this week and if you advance get ready to start him next week against New England.


RB’s Start ‘Em

Rashard Mendenhall vs Cleveland

After a slow start, Mendenhall comes into Thursday night’s game with 5 TD’s in his last three games. The Steelers will be giving him the rock early and often in this one and Mendenhall should find the endzone at least once if not a couple of times. Cleveland has been struggling against the run giving up the 24th most points to the RB position so get Mendy in your lineups tonight.

Michael Turner @ Atlanta Falcons

Turner usually always produces when the matchup is right, so this week should be no different against Carolina. Last week vs the Panthers, Legarrette Blount put up an absolute stinker, but that was mostly because the Bucs were forced to throw early. The Falcons will be in this game and Turner will have his chances to score and will reach the 100 yard mark. Get him in your lineups.

Marshawn Lynch vs St. Louis

Lynch has been in absolute beast mode the past seven weeks as he has four 100 yard games and is averaging a TD per game. On Monday night, Lynch has a perfect matchup against the Rams who have been giving up chunks of yardage to RB’s all year. The Rams will be focused on Marshawn, but that doesn’t mean they can stop him, Lynch has been running through guys with ease. He should come close to 100 yards and find paydirt at least once.

PPR Specials- Ryan Matthews vs Buffalo, Reggie Bush vs Philly and CJ Spiller @ SD

All three of these guys will have solid games this week. Bush didn’t catch any passes last week, but still had 100 yards and TD, he has been great of late and is a must-start. Spiller had an impressive game finishing wth 83 yards on the ground on just 14 carries. He ended up with one TD and could of had another on a 41 yard run, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. Get Spiller in your lineups. Ryan Matthews also enjoyed a nice game against Jacksonville rushing for 112 yards on just 13 carries with a TD. He now has back to back 100 yard rushing games. He will go up against a Buffalo defense that is allowing the 4th most points to RB’s. I would rank them Matthews, Bush, Spiller, but it’s close between the three and all should be in your lineups if possible.


Sit ‘Em

Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams vs Atlanta

Williams was supposed to be a nice play last week going against the Bucs, but he was terrible, proving you can never trust this guy. Stewart has been a little more reliable and actually had a good game last week, but he needs to be benched this week as well. Atlanta has been stout against the run, allowing the 6th fewest points to RB’s. 

Beanie Wells vs San Francisco

49ers Stud MLB Patrick Willis could miss this game, but you still need to bench Beanie. The 49ers D hasn’t allowed a TD all season and are No.1 against the run. Beanie has been good, but he needs to benched here.

Cedric Benson vs Houston

Benson will get the carries, but don’t expect much yardage. He did fare well in a tough matchup against Baltimore with 2 TD’s, but that was kind of a fluky performance. If you have better options, sit Benson against Houston who is allowing the 2nd fewest amount of points to RB’s.


WR’s Start ‘Em

Santana Moss @ New England

Fred Davis just got suspended for the remainder of the year for smoking the chronic, so Moss instantly becomes the No.1 target on the Skins. This really is an ideal matchup for Moss. Him and Rexy have showed rapport in the past and he should find Moss open against the Pats struggling secondary. Moss still has good speed, runs good routes and knows how to find the open areas in zone defenses. He’s a nice little start this week as the Skins will be throwing the football a ton. Moss had 13 targets last week. 

Damien Williams @ New Orleans

Williams has been the most targeted wideout on the Titans of late and for good reason. The Titans will be forced to throw and Williams should benefit.The Saints have been allowing the 2nd most points to WR’s just in front of New England. 

Mike Williams, TB @ Jacksonville

Williams has been rock solid of late with three straight games over 80 yards and 2 TD’s in his last three. As we saw on Monday night, the Jaguars secondary has been decimated by injuries losing their top three corners to injury. Josh Freeman has been bad, but he is finding his favorite target, so expect Williams to produce.


Sit ‘Em

DeSean Jackson @ Miami

After watching Jackson drop two TD’s against the Patriots, get benched in the 4th quarter of that game and then follow it up with his sideline pouting and blank stare on the sidelines against Seattle last Thursday night, I can’t trust this guy. His head is just not on the game right now and it’s really hard to give him a chance at this point. Stay away.

Dwayne Bowe vs New York Jets

Revis Island time. Steer clear.

Pierre Garcon @ Baltimore

Colts QB Dan “The Polish Plumber” Orlovsky came in and revived Garcon last week as Pierre went off for two TD’s, but Garcon can’t be started against Baltimore.


TE’s Start ‘Em

Kellen Winslow @ Jacksonville

Beautiful spot for Winslow owners to use him here. Jacksonville is giving up the 2nd most points to Tight Ends, get Winslow in there.

Brent Celek @ Miami

Before Vick’s injury he was hitting Celek consistently. Even Vince Young was getting the ball to Celek. Brent had five straight games over 50 yards before last week, so he should get back on track this week against Miami who are allowing the 10th most points to Tight Ends. 

Anthony Fasano vs Philly

Tony Sporano is getting all his playmakers involved during Miami’s resurgence and Fasano has been apart of that plan. His numbers have been mediocre overall, but Fasano has started to come alive some with two 60 yard outings in his last four games. If you were a Fred Davis owner and need a tight end this week, he’s not a bad option.


Sit ‘Em

Brandon Pettigrew @ Minnesota

This appears to be a good matchup on paper, but Pettigrew has been brutal of late with six straight games of being held under 40 yards with just one TD in those six games. Last week, the frustration seemed to be getting to Pettigrew as he drew a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and also had two terrible drops. Avoid.

Owen Daniels @ Cincy

Daniels has also been ice cold of late as he hasn’t found the endzone in his last eight games and hasn’t gone over 40 yards in his last four. The offense is focused on running more than ever now with TJ Yates under the helm and when they do throw, Yates likes to get it down the field.

Jermaine Gresham vs Houston

Dalton will be slowed, Benson will be slowed and so will Gresham. Houston is 3rd best at defending the Tight End.


IDP’s Start ‘Em

Chris Clemons, DE, Seattle Seahawks vs St. Louis Rams

Rams giving up the most sacks in the league, 3rd String QB Tom Brandstater possibly playing in this game, Clemons is a very solid start this week as he looks to add on to his eight sacks this year.

Earl Thomas, S vs St. Louis Rams

Thomas should enjoy a nice game, not only will he rack up the tackles from the Rams run heavy approach, he could end up with a interception with how bad the Rams QB play has been.

Lance Briggs vs Denver

Urlacher is a must-start this week, but Lance Briggs also warrants a start here. Briggs will rack up the tackles against the run-heavy Broncos.


Sit ‘Em

DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington Redskins @ New England

No interceptions or pass deflections for Hall this week. Tom Brady will be on his “A” game, per the usual.

Kameron Wimbley @ Green Bay

Don’t like this matchup for the talented Wimbley. Aaron Rodgers will be ridding of that ball throwing lasers all over the field. Wimbley’s sack chances will be limited.