(Editor's note: This article was written prior to Thursday's games.)
I hope everyone is enjoying or has enjoyed their Thanksgiving feast. I know I surely will/have. Last week I mentioned looking for that one stud running back that comes out of nowhere to carry teams deep into the playoffs or perhaps wins them championships. I said to be on the lookout for guys that get increased playing time because of injury or overtaking the starter. The other thing I forgot to mention is to be on the lookout for guys that could possibly have been dropped because of injury that are finally getting healthy.
There's a decent chance that Chris "Beanie" Wells or Rashard Mendenhall could be sitting on your waiver wire right now. Both of these guys have a bit of an injury history so I tend to stay away from them in drafts because I think they're overvalued, but snagging them off the waiver wire during the season is more than enough value for me. These guys have shown that they can produce when healthy and could be that jump-start your team needs to get you into or carry you deep into your playoffs. Check your waiver wire and see if either of these guys has been dropped, and you might be rewarded with a nice few games here at the end of the season for being aware of their returning time table. Now on to the calls for the week.
Andy Dalton has been hot lately with no interceptions and 20-plus fantasy points in his past two games. That should continue this week with his game against Oakland. The Raiders have given up eight touchdowns and decent yardage the last three weeks, and currently rank 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Dalton should have no problem tossing a couple of touchdowns and extending A.J. Green's streak of nine straight games with a touchdown. Go ahead and start Dalton if you've got him this week; he's a ‘good call' to be in your starting lineup.
I've been down on Tony Romo this year, because he's just been mediocre and throws way too many interceptions, but this is the week to start him if you've got him. The Cowboys play Washington and its 29th-ranked defense against fantasy quarterbacks. Before last week's shutdown of Nick Foles the Redskins had given up 20-or-more fantasy points to seven of the nine quarterbacks they've faced. In his last four meetings with the Redskins, Romo has averaged 279 passing yards and over a touchdown a game. If you've got Romo he's a ‘good call' this week and you should play him.
In his three meetings with Atlanta in Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman has average 177 passing yards and only has two total touchdowns. The Falcons have held four of the five quarterbacks they've faced on the road this year to just one touchdown or less. While Freeman has been hot lately and has 16 touchdown passes to just three interceptions in the past six weeks, I think this is the week he gets shut down. I'd sit Freeman if you can. He's a ‘bad call' this week.
Philip Rivers is another ‘bad call' this week when he plays Baltimore. The Ravens have given up just two games of 20 points or more all season. They've also held half of the quarterbacks they've faced to zero touchdowns. Rivers has more turnovers (23) than he has touchdown passes (17) this year. Rivers has been simply average this year as a quarterback, but with a bad matchup, he shouldn't be relied upon.
Marcel Reece has been on a tear lately averaging 22 points over the last three games. Reece has been filling in very well in the Oakland backfield. With a matchup against a fantasy friendly defense for running backs and Darren McFadden still sidelined, he should have no problem getting you some more points this week against Cincinnati. The Bengals allow an average of 4.4 yards per carry and pass-catching backs like Ray Rice (25 fantasy points), Trent Richardson (32), and Jamaal Charles (18) have all fared well against the Bengals. Reece is definitely a ‘good call' this week.
Fred Jackson should be back from his concussion this week, and gets a nice matchup in his return. The Indianapolis Colts currently rank 23rd against running backs. In games where teams have two good running backs like the Bills do, both of those running backs end up having good games. Previous running back platoons have been, Matt Forte (24 fantasy points) with Michael Bush (18), Reggie Bush (16) with Daniel Thomas (eight), and Stevan Ridley (10) with Shane Vereen (14). Jackson and C.J. Spiller are at the top of the running back platoon list and both should be ‘good calls' this week.
The Houston Texans have shut down all but one running back they've faced this year. Houston is the toughest defense for running backs to score against, and that's why you're going to want to sit Mikel Leshoure this week. The two lowest-scoring weeks for Leshoure have all occurred in the last four weeks. It could be that the NFL season is starting to wear on him. Whatever the case, things aren't going to go well for Leshoure this week and he's a ‘bad call' for you to be starting.
Darren Sproles looked like he was going to play last week, but got ruled out at the last moment. I hope you didn't have him in your starting lineup. There's a good chance he'll play this week, but how much is uncertain. He's a ‘bad call' no matter how much playing time he gets. I'm staying away from the whole New Orleans backfield this week. The San Francisco 49ers rank second against running backs and only two have scored a touchdown against them this year. There are just too many running backs and they'll all have trouble against a tough San Francisco defense.
The list of receivers who've gone for more than 100 yards receiving against New Orleans keeps getting longer and longer. Pierre Garcon, Steve Smith, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Demaryius Thomas, DeSean Jackson, and now Roddy White have all gone over the century mark when playing the Saints. That should make Michael Crabtree a no brainer ‘good call' this week. Crabtree has four touchdowns over his last three games, and he's been showing that he should be the No. 1 guy in San Francisco. If you've got Crabtree don't hesitate in starting him this week.
The New York Jets against the New England Patriots game this week should pay big dividends for owners of Jeremy Kerley. The Patriots are the 28th-ranked defense against wide receivers. Kerley has hit double-digit points in every other game this year, and this week is going to be a double-digit week if things keep up the way they have been. Kerley has the most targets, catches, and yards for the Jets, so it would seem that he's the best receiver they've got right now. He should have no problem getting you some points this week.
Those darn Seattle Seahawks sure do know how to play some defense. Seattle has been the third-toughest defense for receivers to go against this year. So that means that Brain Hartline is going to have a tough time this week. Hartline has either been boom-or-bust in the yardage department. He only has one touchdown on the season. Seattle has allowed one wide receiver to go for more than 100 yards this year and it took Wes Welker 10 catches to break the 100-yard barrier. If you've got Hartline this week you're going to want to start someone else. Hartline is a ‘bad call' this week.
Rob Gronkowski is out and Aaron Hernandez is back in. That means that Brandon Lloyd won't be seeing those extra targets you thought he'd be getting with the big loss of Gronkowski. Even if Lloyd was getting more targets you wouldn't want to be starting him against the New York Jets. New York ranks fifth against wide receivers, and that ranking has been pulled down with the five receiving touchdowns they've given up in their past two games, which were both on the road. Sorry to tell you, but Lloyd is a ‘bad call' this week.
Vernon Davis looked better last week, and this week he should continue to thrive. Davis is more of a receiver than a tight end in my book, but that won't matter because New Orleans gives up tons to points to receivers or tight ends. Davis is definitely a ‘good call' this week.
Marcedes Lewis is a tight end that you use to spot start when the matchup is right, and this is one of those weeks. Tennessee ranks 29th against tight ends, and has given up six double-digit games to the position. Start Lewis this week if you don't have any other options.
Tight ends don't fare well against the Cleveland Browns, and with a game in Cleveland this week, Heath Miller is not the tight end you want to be starting. Cleveland has taken over the toughest spot for tight ends to go against from Indianapolis. If you've got Miller you're going to want to look elsewhere for your starting tight end this week.
The Green Bay Packers rank seventh against tight ends. Green Bay hasn't given up a touchdown to a tight end since Week 5. That means you're not going to want to start Martellus Bennett this week. He's a ‘bad call' to be in your starting lineup this week.
Twitter question of the week: Thanksgiving edition: What's your favorite Thanksgiving food? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.
Good luck this week and I hope you make all the right calls.