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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 15

Hello,
First off I want to say sorry for the early post and not giving as much detail in my selections. Have some family things going on. Enough about that, let’s talk some football! Round two is officially here, well for most anyway. If this is your first week of playoffs, welcome. If you’re coming off a bye week, congrats to you. Going to keep it short this week, besides if you’ve made it into playoffs why do you need me? You’re a champ already! Congrats too all participants and good luck!
***Obvious players like Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Travis Kelce and other players of that caliber will not be featured in these columns***

Play Em’

Quarterback

-Dak Prescott at Oakland Raiders (Sunday Night)

  • The Cowboys stumbled early in the contest, but right before half time Prescott connected with Dez Bryant who broke a tackle and took it to the house to tie the game at 10 apiece. That set the tone for the Cowboys the rest of the game as Dak Prescott had 3 passing touchdowns on his way to his fourth 30+ point fantasy game of the year. This week they’ll get a Raiders defense that’s one of the worst defenses in the league. The Cowboys are still playing for a potential playoff spot down the stretch and they’ll be sure to put on a show on prime-time football next week. I like Prescott this week to have another strong performance.

-Matt Ryan at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday Night)

  • The Falcons won a very important divisional game last week against the Saints despite Matt Ryan throwing 3 interceptions. This week he’ll get a Buccaneers defense that has had trouble stopping everybody through the air this year. Stud defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is believed to be out for the season with a torn bicep, so that makes it that much easier for Matt Ryan. The Falcons currently hold one the two wildcard spots in the NFC playoff bracket and they’ll be sure to clean up all their mistakes from last week and get the win this week on a stellar performance from Matt Ryan. He’ll need to clean up his game before a rematch with the Saints next week.

-Derek Carr v. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night)

  • Must be prime-time start em’ week huh? Derek Carr and the Raiders laid an egg last week against a struggling Chiefs team. This week they’ll get another team with their playoff hopes on the line in the Dallas Cowboys. I firmly believe this game will be a shootout as the Raiders and Cowboys have struggled defensively to stop some of the better quarterbacks in the league. Derek Carr has 3 games over 20 points this season in the fantasy world. I think he gets his fourth this weekend against the Cowboys. If they want to keep any glimmer of hope at playoffs, Carr is going to have to ball out.

-Ben Roethlisberger v. New England Patriots

  • This game should be on prime-time, but I guess the game of the week at 430 is close enough. Ben Roethlisberger has been on fire at home in the last few games. This game should be no different as the #1 seed in the AFC is at stake. Also could be the AFC championship preview. Stars show up in big moments and Roethlisberger will have to have another big day if he wants to beat Tom Brady and company. The Patriots defense has improved over the course of the season, but this is a game where two of the league’s best will go at it until the final seconds of the game.

Running Back

-Derrick Henry at San Francisco 49ers

  • Another week where Derrick Henry outscored DeMarco Murray in fantasy. Henry looks like the better back and if the Titans want to keep their current wildcard spot they need to just #FreeHenry and let him go. I understand Demarco Murray is an established player within the league, but at some point the team needs to put the better players on the field. This week they’ll get a favorable match up against a defense that’s been horrible against opposing running backs all year.

-Jordan Howard at Detroit Lions (Saturday)

  • The Bears running game exploded last week. Jordan Howard had over 150 total yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. That’s an encouraging sign moving forward for owners. This week they’ll get a Detroit Lions team that’s in the bottom 3 against running backs this season. In the first meeting Howard had 125 rushing yards and a touchdown. No reason to believe he couldn’t put up a similar stat line this time around as well.

-Kenyan Drake at Buffalo Bills

  • The Miami Dolphins running back has been on fire since Damien Williams’ injury. The Buffalo Bills run defense has been less than good since they traded Marcell Dareus mid-season to the Jaguars. This game could be another snowy mess like it was last week for the Bills, so they could lean heavily on the running game. If it’s not snowy and the weather conditions are tolerable, then it could open the passing game more. However, I still like Drake to have a big game as he has the last month of the season.

-LeSean McCoy v. Miami Dolphins

  • Snow games must be what LeSean McCoy lives for. He is great in the snow and has been in every snow game he’s played in his career. He could have to have yet another snow game this week depending on the Buffalo weather on Sunday, but either way McCoy remains a top notch running back and should get plenty of carries in this game regardless. Nathan Peterman is in the concussion protocol and Tyrod Taylor is still dealing with a knee injury. The only remaining quarterback on last week’s roster was Joe Webb and he’s technically not even on the used as a quarterback most of the time. The Bills are still in the thick of the playoff conversation and will look to make their first appearance since 1999. They’ll have to rely heavily on their pro-bowl tailback to achieve that goal.

Wide Receiver

-Keenan Allen at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday)

  • Marcus Peters will be back after his one game suspension for this game. Although, unless the defense got drastically better during the week for this game I don’t see it being much of a difference. The Chiefs have been horrible in the secondary over the past 8 games in fantasy football. Add in that Keenan Allen has 4 Straight games of 100+ yards going for him right now. The Chargers, as Ted put it, are an “electric” team right now. I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing against Keenan Allen this week in fantasy, but hey if you’ve got him kudos to you. Keep him in the lineup for this AFC West showdown. Winner will have sole possession of first place.

-Devin Funchess v. Green Bay Packers

  • Last week Devin Funchess made some impressive plays against a really good Vikings secondary. This week he’ll get a Packers secondary that just can’t seem to stay healthy. Packers are giving up a lot of points to opposing #1 receivers this year and Funchess should be the next talent to take advantage.

-Michael Thomas v. New York Jets

  • Yeah I know, I had Thomas as a bench em’ last week. Hopefully you didn’t listen to me because he made the Falcons look silly at times. Last week the Jets had issues covering big bodied Demaryius Thomas in a run first offense. No reason to doubt Thomas couldn’t put up a bigger stat line that what the Broncos Thomas did. With Josh McCown out for the season as well, the Saints defense could give the offense plenty of opportunities to score. I’m sorry Mike Thomas, please forgive me. I’m starting you this week!

-Marvin Jones v. Detroit Lions (Saturday)

  • In the first match up Marvin Jones had 85 yards and a touchdown. This time the game will be played at Ford Field where Matthew Stafford and the Lions play their best ball. The Lions still have some life in a potential playoff bid. They’ll need to take care of business versus their division rival. Also head coach Jim Caldwell has been rumored to be on the hot seat and potentially gone after the season. The players like him and I’m sure they’ll be playing for him and his job security. I like most Lions positional players this week.

Tight End

-Zach Ertz at New York Giants

  • Yes, Carson Wentz is out for the season. However, Nick Foles and Ertz have played with each other before. In fact Nick Foles knows the system quite well and should still keep the Eagles competitive. Zach Ertz missed last week’s game with a concussion, but he should be cleared for this game. Last week Brent Celek and Trey Burton combined for 3 touchdowns on the day in Ertz’ absence. This week they’ll get the Giants who have been the worst team against tight ends. Look for Zach Ertz to rebound in a big way this week as the only starting pass catcher remaining from the last time Nick Foles was the starter for Philadelphia.

-Jack Doyle v. Denver Broncos (Thursday Night)

  • The match up on paper may be frightful, but the Broncos have allowed the third most points to opposing tight ends this season. Add in that Jack Doyle is one of the best options for Jacoby Brissett to throw too. Doyle will get enough volume of targets to be worth a starting nod for fantasy owners this week. Last week he even had a touchdown and a 2-pt conversion, which ultimately got taken away due to a plenty. I can see another solid performance this week

-Delanie Walker at San Francisco 49ers

  • Many people forget that Delanie Walker was a back up to Vernon Davis in San Francisco before he left for Tennessee a few years back. This is a miniature revenge game if you will. Delanie Walker consistently has been the best pass catcher for the Titans this season. With Marcus Mariota having some knee issues, I can see him making some shorter passes and looking for his reliable tight end as the season nears. Owners are still waiting for that explosive game where Walker goes over 100 yards and a touchdown. That might not happen this season, but if it were to happen this would be the best possible game remaining for it.

Defense

-Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (Thursday Night)

  • The Broncos shutout a red-hot Jets team last week in Denver. This week they’ll travel to the Colts on a short week. The Broncos will surely ride momentum coming into this game. The Colts offense is a disaster right now and I don’t see how it can get better against a Broncos defense that’s still hungry despite their record. I surely don’t expect them to have two shut outs in a row, but they’ll make it tough for the Colts to score many points.

-Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

  • The Eagles defense got torched most of the afternoon in Los Angeles last week, but once Carson Wentz went down with an injury they clamped up and shut down the Rams offense for majority of the game thereafter. This unit knows they don’t have a Carson Wentz to bail them out if they make a mistake now. This week they’ll be the next team to feast on a struggling Giants team that can’t find the end-zone.

-Washington Redskins v. Arizona Cardinals

  • Why yes the Washington Redskins did get blown out against the Chargers. Also correct, the Cardinals did beat the Titans. Three straight yes’ for you. I am crazy. Sure these two teams seem to be heading the right direction, but the Redskins defense were playing one of the hottest teams in football right now while the Cardinals took advantage of a stumbling Titans team. Blaine Gabbert has impressed me during his short stint as the starter, but at the end of the day he’s still Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert will make mistakes and put his team in a bad situation. Continue to call me crazy, but I like the Redskins defense this week.

-New Orleans Saints v. New York Jets

  • Josh McCown is out for the season with a broken hand. That means Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenburg will be the starter the remaining games. This team went from competitive to probably the worst team in the league with one injury. Before the season everyone said the Jets were the worst roster they’ve ever seen and that’ll go 0-16. Without McCown I can see them dropping down to that kind of team. Start the Saints defense this week.

Bench Em’

Quarterback

-Alex Smith v. Los Angeles Chargers (Saturday)

  • Since Andy Reid gave up the offensive play-calling and handed them to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy the Chiefs seem to have live once again. However, this Chargers defense has been something else lately. I wouldn’t trust many players against them right now. Alex Smith is too inconsistent for me to trust with playoffs on the line. Battle for the AFC West will be epic, but Alex Smith can be boom or bust. I’m feeling bust this week.

-Andy Dalton at Minnesota Vikings

  • Wow, I didn’t see last week’s butt kicking from the Bears last week at all. If the Bears can dominate the Bengals like that at home, then I don’t see how Andy Dalton can bounce back at Minnesota against one of the best defenses in the league. The Vikings are coming off a loss to the Panthers and they’ll want to get back on track this week against a lowly Bengals team going nowhere this season. Dalton has a trait of turning the ball over and it’ll really show this week.

-Jared Goff at Seattle Seahawks

  • Both the Rams and Seahawks are coming off a loss. The winner of this game will be the NFC West leader for the time being. Last time these two teams played it was in Los Angeles and it was a hard fought gritty match that went down to the wire. This time it’ll be in Seattle where the Seahawks play 10 times better. We’ve seen how Jared Goff plays when put under pressure in the pocket. Despite all the injuries the Seahawks have endured this season, they still have good pass rushers and will be able to get after Goff. Don’t trust Jared Goff this week. It just might cost you your playoffs.

-Eli Manning v. Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Giants are averaging around 15 point per game right now. Even if Eli is throwing those 2ish touchdowns he’s not getting enough points to be a reliable starter in fantasy. He Eagles defense is still a top defense and can win a game by themselves. Eli Manning showed last week in a favorable matchup that he cannot be trusted and should be benched or dropped in all leagues.

Running Back

-Samjie Perine v. Arizona Cardinals

  • The Redskins got whooped by the Chargers last week. Perine wasn’t able to capitalize on a good matchup due to game script and playing from behind majority of the game. The run game was abandoned early and he just wasn’t able to muster enough points for owners. This week won’t get any easier as the Cardinals are stout against the run and will be sure to shut the Redskins running lanes down. Perine has had a good last few weeks, but he’ll be a tough start this week.

-Lamar Miller at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Texans are on their 3rd string quarterback now for the season. Add in that the Jaguars are probably the best defense in the league and will have an easy game plan this week. Stop the run and force the Texans to pass. I don’t see Miller getting enough volume of touches to be effective this week and he should be on the bench.

-Jamal Williams at Carolina Panthers

  • The hype for this kid is real, but the Panthers run defense is the best he’s faced all season as the starter. Also Aaron Rodgers might be back for this game meaning the Packers won’t have to rely on the running game as much. Williams’ days getting 20+ carries a game could be coming to an end which doesn’t bode well for owners riding his hot streak into playoffs. Better find a new alternative for this week.

-Frank Gore v. Denver Broncos (Thursday Night)

  • Nothing but respect for Frank Gore. He will deservedly be a hall of famer one day, but this particular game will not be one to start him in. Last week he got a career high 35 rush attempts in a blizzard in Buffalo. That’ll surely take a toll on his body and now on a short week he’ll go up against one of the better run defenses in the league. This game seems for of a Marlon Mack type of game. Sorry Frank Gore, but I have to bench you this week.

Wide Receiver

-Robby Anderson at New Orleans Saints

  • No Josh McCown will affect all other Jet’s positional player from here on out. Factor in that Anderson will get one-on-one matchup with impressive rookie Marshon Lattimore and that doesn’t look good for Robby Anderson. Keeping it short and simple this week. Don’t start Anderson; in fact you can probably drop him.

-AJ Green at Minnesota Vikings

  • Did you see what Xavier Rhodes did to Julio Jones? Yeah AJ Green is going to get the same treatment. Believe me when I say the Rhode from Cincinnati to Minnesota will be closed. The airport won’t allow them go as it’ll be a no fly zone. Catch my drift? Don’t play AJ green. I know it’s tough, but if you don’t want to lose in the playoffs you should make the bold choice.

-Josh Gordon v. Baltimore Ravens

  • The Browns receiver has been good in his return, but the Ravens defense has been a tough unit to pass on. They’ve been brutal to opposing #1 receivers all season and they’ll know the Browns will force the ball to Josh Gordon. The Ravens are still fighting for a playoff spot and they’ll get back on track against the Browns this week.

-Brandin Cooks at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • The Steelers have one of the better secondaries in the league. Brandin Cooks hasn’t been as involved in the Patriots offense because of the emergence of the running backs of Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. Cooks is a deep threat and I don’t see the Steelers giving up too many big plays downfield. Cooks could still be a decent option in PPR formats, but standard leagues it’ll be hard to start.

Tight End

-Julius Thomas at Buffalo Bills

  • The Bills have been rough on tight ends this season. Julius Thomas hasn’t been as good as advertised this season and has been a major disappointment for some people. Regardless of how you feel about him, he should be on the bench this week. He’s underused and this game could be affected by weather.

-Jason Witten at Oakland Raiders (Sunday Night)

  • Old reliable hasn’t been used very much in recent weeks. A late touchdown catch saved his Fantasy outlook a week ago and this week could be a similar hope. Witten isn’t getting enough targets to be trusted in all formats. It’s odd because you’d think Dak Prescott would look his way more with all constant pressure he’s under, he’d do quick dump off passes to Witten. Either way, to the bench!

-Eric Ebron v. Chicago Bears (Saturday)

  • Surprisingly the Lions tight end had a big game last week. Although it was against the Buccaneers. The Bears are tough on opposing tight ends this season and I don’t anticipate Ebron coming close to his stat line from a week ago. If you streamed Ebron last week, I hope it was just for the week. You’ll be disappointed otherwise.

Defense

-Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers

  • The Jimmy Garoppolo era has started out quite nicely has he’s 2-0 as the starter. Jimmy G has looked good for his new team and looks like a true leader on the field. This week he’ll face a Titans team that ranks in the bottom ten in pass defense. The 49ers can put up some points and possibly play continue to play spoiler to the Titans recent struggles.

-New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • The Patriots have been too good at home to not put on another spectacular show for their fans. This game could be a shoot out and shoot outs don’t go week for fantasy defenses. I don’t like either defense this week and if your season is on the line I’d find a streamer for the week. Almost anything could be better than one of these two defenses.

-Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

  • Russell Wilson is still making a case for his MVP case. Yes the Seahawks lost to the Jaguars last week, but they still put up 24 points on one of the toughest defenses in the league in their home stadium. This week Seattle will be home to try and retake their division back. I’m not worried about Wilson as he still is a threat to take his team down the field each and every drive of the game. Rams defense will have trouble containing him this week.
That concludes this week’s edition of Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always, good luck in your match up(s) and I hope you win. If you ever need more help with your lineup(s) don’t hesitate to ask myself or anyone from the SFT crew. We’ll always respond to you on all of our social media pages. Also don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, as well as connecting with us on LinkedIn. Until next time, have a great day!
Austin Thomas

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