QB: Josh McCown vs. DAL – With the help of Marc Trestman, the quarterback whisperer, Josh McCown has filled in for Jay Cutler in stunning fashion. Yes, they lost last week’s game but McCown has a 9-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio, while completing 65.2% of his passes, and passing for 7.9 yards per attempt. Not too shabby for a 34 year old, career-long backup. McCown will be a QB1 against a Cowboys defense that is allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
RB: Matt Forte vs. DAL – There’s no question in my mind that this will be a running back’s game. The Cowboys and Bears are the two of the worst three teams in the league at defending the run. I believe Forte and DeMarco Murray are in for huge weeks. I chose to feature Forte because I believe he is the superior play and my No. 2 running back play behind Jamaal Charles this week. The Cowboys have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Not only do they struggle to stop tailbacks from running the ball but they’ve also allowed the most receptions (86) and receiving touchdowns (5) to opposing running backs. Need I say more… get him on your daily teams!
Eddie Lacy vs. ATL – After watching the Packers’ atrocious inability to move the ball on Thanksgiving, I’ve heard many concerned about Eddie Lacy. Yes, with Matt Flynn at quarterback there is reason to be concerned, as teams know that the Packers’ only legitimate threat is their run game. Still, Lacy has been extremely consistent of late – despite losing Rodgers he’s scored in five of his last seven games. Even more promising is his matchup; the Falcons have allowed at least 109 rushing yards to opposing running backs in six straight games. During that stretch, the Falcons have allowed seven rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Get him in your lineup!
Shane Vereen vs. CLE – Although he’s struggled to jumpstart the Patriots’ running game, Vereen has been a staple in their pass game. Over four games this season, Vereen is averaging 7 catches for 55 yards. Additionally, Vereen was close to scoring three times last week – dropping one pass in the end zone and questionably being called out at the 1 yard-line. As Stevan Ridley is the only running back with enough talent to rival Vereen, it’s obvious that Vereen is the running back that the Patriots trust most. The Browns stout defensive front will make it difficult for the Patriots’ “big back” to succeed – likely giving Vereen plenty of chances.
Ray Rice vs. MIN – I’m far from a Ray Rice proponent but I still believe he has the ability to exploit favorable matchups – as he did against the Bears in Week 11. Allowing the 4th most fantasy points to opposing running backs, the Vikings have struggled to defend the run all season. While I’m not as sold on Rice as the other ‘starts’ because of his diminishing playmaking ability, this is the week to play him if you’re short on options. There are better bets for daily fantasy.
WR: DeSean Jackson vs. DET – Despite averaging just 66 yards over his last three games, DeSean Jackson is having a career year in Chip Kelly’s offense. The Lions have struggled to stop WR1s this season and are allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Over their last six games, the Lions have allowed 12 receiving touchdowns to opposing wide outs. In a game that will likely be a shootout, Jackson is a must-start.
Victor Cruz at SD – It’s been a long nine weeks since we’ve seen Victor Cruz salsa dance. As the Giants No. 1 option through the air, it’s only a matter of time till he finds paydirt. Hakeem Nicks’ diminished ability has allowed opposing defenses to focus more on Cruz – hurting his fantasy value. Allowing the 4th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, the Chargers are a matchup that Cruz should be able to exploit.
Vincent Jackson vs. BUF – With Mike Glennon locking onto Jackson for their first three games together, opposing defenses took note and started giving him increased defensive attention. With two straight sub-par games, it’s likely that Jackson will get back on track this week against the Bills. Last week the Bills helped Roddy White catch 10 passes for 143 yards. As long as he’s playing, Jackson is a high-end WR2. Opposing WR1s have shred the Bills defense all season.
Torrey Smith at MIN – Despite struggling to gain owners’ trust in the Ravens’ shaky offense, Torrey Smith is figuring it out. With three touchdowns in his last four games, Smith’s touchdown rate is predictably turning around. After being stung by Alshon Jeffery for 249 yards and two touchdowns, the Vikings matchup is ripe for Torrey Smith. The Vikings are giving up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
TE: Jared Cook at AZ – This one is less about Jared Cook and more about the matchup. One team simply gives up more than the rest to tight ends – yes, you guessed it, the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve allowed the most receptions (79), yards (1,042), and touchdowns (14) to opposing tight ends. Just so you get an idea of how much the Cardinals have struggled against tight ends: no other team has allowed more than nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends. In Week 1, Cook lit up the Cardinals, catching seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
QB: Andrew Luck at CIN – As I mentioned in this space last week, Andrew Luck is becoming increasingly difficult to trust. Over the last four weeks he’s averaging 237 passing yards with a 2-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio. With a lack of reliable pass-catchers, Luck is barely a QB1 anymore. His pass-catchers inability to get open has led to Luck holding onto the ball too long and exacerbating the Colts’ offensive problems. The Bengals have been unfavorable for opposing quarterbacks all season, stay away from Luck this week.
RB: Zac Stacy at AZ – I’m a big believer in Stacy’s ability; the problem is the Cardinals have become a running back’s nightmare. The Cardinals are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Over their last four games, opposing running backs are averaging 17 carries for 48 yards with just one touchdown.
Rashad Jennings at NYJ – Despite playing well of late, Rashad Jennings has one of the most difficult matchups possible on the horizon. The Jets have been stingy on the ground and are allowing just 2.87 per carry to opposing running backs. Behind the Cardinals, no defense is more unfavorable to opposing running backs.
Darren Sproles vs. CAR – Since he’s been banged up, Sproles hasn’t been as involved in the Saints offense. Only playing 19-of-62 snaps last week, Sproles can’t be trusted in standard against one of the league’s best defenses. Allowing the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, I’d even call Sproles shaky in PPR.
WR: Steve Smith at NO – Yet to top 70 yards on the season, it seems that the Panthers have given Smith’s vertical deep shots to Ted Ginn. Now just a limited possession receiver, Smith has just three touchdowns in 12 games this season. I wouldn’t bet on him when he’s playing against a secondary that is holding opposing wide receivers to the 4th fewest points.
Golden Tate at SF – Despite Harvin’s absence for this past week, Golden Tate hasn’t taken advantage. Two factors aren’t helping: Russell Wilson spreads the ball around to everyone and the Seahawks throw the 2nd least in the NFL. Facing a 49ers defense that held Tate to just one catch for 19 yards in their first meeting, I’d bench Tate.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. MIA – Going into the game, Emmanuel Sanders has scored in two straight games. Now he faces a Miami defense that has allowed just one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver all season. Considering the Dolphins are allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, I’d bench Sanders.
TE: Jordan Reed vs. KC – Still waiting for medical clearance for his concussion, Jordan Reed is iffy for Sunday’s game. If he does play, Reed will square off with tight end stopper Eric Berry. With the Chiefs allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Reed is a shaky option this week.
Thanks for reading, good luck this week. Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!