Welcome to championship week. If you're still playing today, you're most likely playing in a championship game, or, if you're like me, two consolation championships. Consolation championships, for those who don't have a league with them, are the losers bracket for fantasy playoffs, but that still offer something to play for. In one of my leagues, the consolation winner gets the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, and in another the consolation winner gets their entry fee paid for next year. It's a nice way to keep your league members interested as long as possible.
We all hate that team that gives up because they're 3-7 after Week 10, and allows some team on the edge of making the playoffs into them just because they played a team that stopped paying attention. If you're league doesn't have a consolation prize for teams not playing for the top prize, I'd highly suggest setting something up. Having that consolation prize makes fantasy football just a little more fun, and can keep the integrity of your league alive when the fantasy season starts wrapping up. Now on to the calls for the week.
The New Orleans defense has been a really good matchup for whichever quarterback gets to play them this year. Two weeks ago, Eli Manning had four touchdown passes against the Saints, and two weeks before that rookie Colin Kaepernick had 22 fantasy points in his matchup. This week Tony Romo gets the pleasure of matching up against the Saints. Romo is been back to being start-able with three of his last four games over 20 fantasy points. If you've got Romo this week, start him with confidence.
Matt Schaub has been more a game manager than a play maker this year, but this is the week he's got a ton of upside. Three of his last four games have been on the road, but a home matchup against Minnesota this weekend should provide you with good points if you're starting Schaub this week. The Vikings rank 27th against quarterbacks this year, and with Adrian Peterson making it his personal goal to set the single season rushing title this week, this could actually be a close game. Schaub might have to do more than just hand the ball off, and that means more points for you if you start him.
Someone you might want to keep out of your starting lineup this week is Eli Manning. His matchup in Baltimore is going to be tough. The Ravens haven't allowed any quarterback to throw more than two touchdowns against them all year, and that happened just twice. They've also stopped four starting quarterbacks from throwing any touchdowns against them. Manning hasn't exactly been steady this year, and this has good potential to be another down week. Starting Eli this week would be a ‘bad call.'
Another guy that would be a ‘bad call' for you to start this week would be Andy Dalton. He faces the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are the toughest defense for quarterbacks to go against. Pittsburgh allows just 178 passing yards per game, and just a little over one passing touchdown on average. Dalton had just 105 passing yards and one touchdown in his meeting earlier this year with the Steelers, and he most likely won't be going too much above and beyond those numbers this week.
If you need a good flex play this week, Mikel Leshoure is your guy. Since he started playing in Week 3 he has just three games without double-digit fantasy points. His matchup against Atlanta isn't scaring anyone. The Falcons have allow 4.9 yards per rush to rank third-worst in the league. Dexter McCluster, Willis McGahee, DeAngelo Williams (twice), Felix Jones, Chris Ivory and LaRod Stevens-Howling have all gotten double-digit points when playing Atlanta. If that sounds like a list of low-tier running backs, imagine what a decent starter can do against the Falcons.
Eight running backs have had more than 90 rushing yards against Buffalo this year. That means starting Reggie Bush should be a no brainer for you this week. Especially since he won't have Daniel Thomas around to vulture away any carries (Miami put Thomas on Injured Reserve this week). Buffalo also allows the league-worst yards per rush at 5.1. If you've got Bush this week go ahead and start him. He's a ‘good call.'
Frank Gore is someone you're going to want to sit this week. His matchup in Seattle is a tough one. Besides Adrian Peterson, the Seattle Seahawks have allowed a maximum of 58 rushing yards and one total touchdown on the ground at home this year. In Gore's previous two trips to Seattle he has average just 60 rushing yards. This has the makings of a bad week for Gore, and he's a ‘bad call' this week.
In his Week 7 matchup, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had just 69 rushing yards and no touchdowns. It was his second-worst outing of the year, and that game was in Cincinnati. This week's game in Pittsburgh should be even tougher. Green-Ellis has been hot in recent weeks with 20 or more fantasy points in four of his last five games, but you shouldn't expect those kind of numbers this week. Starting Green-Ellis would be a ‘bad call' this week.
Danny Amendola has been good in games he plays in and finishes. Last week he was healthy and didn't have any setbacks, so if you were in a wait-and-see mode with Amendola, it's OK to start him this week. Not only is he healthy but he gets a great matchup with Tampa Bay, who rank as worst in the league against wide receivers. The Buccaneers have allowed eight straight games with touchdowns to teams' No. 1 wide receivers, and when Amendola is on the field he's the number one guy for St. Louis. Tampa Bay is worst in the league in passing yards allowed, and second-worst in the league in passing touchdowns allowed. This is a great matchup. Amendola is a ‘good call.'
Cecil Shorts didn't continue his four-game touchdown streak after missing Week 14, but he did have more than 100 receiving yards last week. Shorts has been a big surprise this year, and has come on strong since Jacksonville's Week 6 bye. This week's matchup against New England should be another good game for Shorts. The Patriots rank 25th against receivers this year, and a team's No. 1 wide receiver averages 15 fantasy points when they play them. I'd say that would be a good number of points for a guy you grabbed off waivers this year.
This is a bad week to be starting Sidney Rice if you own him. Rice has been a weaker No. 1 wide receiver this year. He has no games with more than 100 receiving yards, and the team he's playing, San Francisco, has allowed just two on the year. Put a weaker receiver against a tough defense and it just doesn't spell "big game" for Rice this week. This game has the makings of a low-scoring affair, and I'm probably just staying away from all offensive players in this one.
You might want to sit Torrey Smith if you were thinking this has to be the week he goes off again. Smith has just five catches for 68 yards over the last three games. When Smith flops, it's bad. It seems Anquan Boldin is the receiver Joe Flacco has been favoring lately, and that just doesn't mean good things for Smith. Unless you want to hang your championship game on Smith catching a deep ball, look elsewhere for a receiver this week.
Baltimore has a strong ranking against tight ends because they haven't faced many teams that use the tight end position, but teams that do can find some openings. Martellus Bennett has been strong over the past three games, and he's a ‘good call' if you're starting him this week.
Marcedes Lewis is another guy you can start with confidence this week. New England ranks 30th against tight ends on the season, and should allow Lewis to put up a good stat line for you.
Only two tight ends have gone for more than 10 points against Pittsburgh this year. If you've got Jermaine Gresham, you might want to find another option for your tight end this week.
If you haven't stopped using Vernon Davis as your tight end, you need to. He doesn't have chemistry with Colin Kaepernick, and it shows with his past four games. Don't even think about starting Davis this week.
Twitter question of the week: Who's been the biggest surprise player on your fantasy roster this year? Reply to @curtkestila with your response.
Good luck this week, and I hope you make all the right calls.