GET ‘EM IN YOUR LINEUP
Matt Ryan QB Atlanta Falcons: Ryan has struggled of late, throwing 10 interceptions and topping 250 passing yards just twice in his last six games, prompting many experts to recommend you bench him until further notice. Well, now is the time to get him back in your starting lineup.
Sunday, Ryan and the Falcons host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who bring a defense that has been victimized by the passing game this season. In 10 games, opposing quarterbacks are averaging 209.4 yards per game and have tossed 12 touchdowns with just four interceptions for a QB Rating of 94.0. In addition, the Bucs are allowing 29.4 points per game, good for 31st in the NFL. Look for Ryan and the Falcons to get back on track in Week 12.
Also Start: Wide receiver Roddy White, who has caught just 14 passes for 170 yards and zero touchdowns in his last three outings. Expect his three-game scoreless streak to end Sunday. In addition, if running back Jason Snelling gets the start again this week (there’s a chance Michael Turner will play), make sure he’s in your lineup as well. Tampa ranks dead-last against the run in 2009, allowing 168.9 yards per game on the ground.
Mike Sims-Walker WR Jacksonville Jaguars: For owners in deeper leagues, this is a no-brainer. But for those of you with a stacked receiving unit in smaller leagues, be sure to get MSW in the starting rotation for his Week 12 showdown with the San Francisco 49ers. Sims-Walker has been red hot over his past three games, catching 17 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns on 24 targets.
On the other side of the field, the 49ers have struggled against the pass this season and are currently allowing 256.1 yards per game through the air (30th). San Francisco has given up five 300-plus-yard passing games this season as well as 20 plays of 25 or more yards and 11 touchdowns via the air.
Justin Forsett/Julius Jones RB Seattle Seahawks: This one is up in the air at the moment as Jones returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since bruising his lung Nov. 15. In any event, whichever running back gets the nod on Sunday should be in your starting lineup.
The Seahawks travel to St. Louis to take on a Rams defense that has really struggled stopping the run. The Rams are giving up an average of 167.0 yards per game over their last five outings with eight touchdowns coming by way of the rush during that span. They’ve given up 11 rushing scores over their past six games while allowing opposing ball carries to average 4.7 yards per rush on the season. Look for either Forsett or Jones to put up some serious numbers in Week 12.
Also Start: Wide receiver Nate Burleson, who caught seven passes for 74 yards and one score on 11 targets the last time these two teams met back in Week 1.
Carson Palmer QB Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer’s been sluggish in his last two contests, averaging just 192.5 yards per game with zero touchdowns and one interception. However, if there’s one thing that cures a fantasy slump for a quarterback, it’s a date with the Cleveland Browns.
Palmer lit up the Browns secondary for 230 yards and two touchdowns the last time these teams squared off in Week 4 (Cincinnati won 23-20 in overtime). Remember, the Browns gave up five passing touchdowns to rookie Matthew Stafford and the Lions last week, and the Bengals are coming off an embarrassing 20-17 loss to the Raiders in Week 11. You know Cincy had a serious week of practice after that display.
Also Start: Chad Ochocinco and Bernard Scott (unless Cedric Benson gets the start).
Kellen Winslow TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Since rookie quarterback Josh Freeman took over the starting job in Week 9, Winslow has quickly become his favorite receiver. The former Miami Hurricane is averaging 9.6 targets and 60.2 receiving yards over his last three games with 16 receptions and one touchdown.
In addition, the Falcons got lit up by Giants tight end Kevin Boss last Sunday for 76 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions. Keep in mind, Atlanta is giving up an average of 7.8 fantasy points to tight ends over the last six weeks. Not great, but definitely a good sign for a player like Winslow.
Keep an eye on…
New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas and New England Patriots running back Laurence Maroney. When the Pats and Saints meet on Monday night, most people assume this will be a pass-happy affair. But the best way to slow down another team’s offense is to keep them off the field. In the Patriots last “shootout” (vs. Indy), Maroney posted 10 fantasy points (standard scoring), while Thomas posted 21 for New Orleans when they took on the Falcons in a Week 8 “shootout.”
Three defenses to consider…
1. San Diego Chargers (vs. Kansas City): The Bolts are allowing an average of just 13.8 points per game during their five-game winning streak.
2. Miami Dolphins (at Buffalo Bills): The Bills rank 28th in total offense (275.7 yards per game) and 28th in points (15.5 per game) this season.
3. Seattle Seahawks (at St. Louis Rams): If you need a sleeper defense to get your through Week 12, check out the Seahawks. Backup quarterback Kyle Boller will get the start in place of the injured Marc Bulger, and the Rams are averaging just 11.3 points per game in 2009 (31st).
SEND ‘EM TO THE BENCH
Braylon Edwards WR New York Jets: After catching five passes for 64 yards and a score in his Week 5 Monday night debut with the Jets in October, Edwards has been an afterthought in the New York offense, hauling in just 12 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown in his past five games. While his lack of production can be partly attributed to the rookie struggles that quarterback Mark Sanchez is currently going through, the fact remains that Edwards is no longer a viable fantasy option.
Look for the trend to continue Sunday when the Jets host the Carolina Panthers and the NFL’s fourth-ranked passing defense (185.0 yards per game). Carolina cornerbacks Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble have been outstanding this season, and if the Panthers can get a decent pass rush on Sanchez, look for Edwards to turn in another sub-standard fantasy performance.
Also Sit: Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who is averaging just 72.7 receiving yards per game this season and has only topped the 100-yard receiving mark once in eight games.
Joe Flacco QB Baltimore Ravens: Flacco’s recent struggles are well documented, as the second-year quarterback has thrown only one touchdown with three interceptions over his past four games, while topping the 200-yard passing mark just once during that span. But Flacco’s lack of fantasy production is only half of the reason why he should be riding the pine this weekend.
The main reason? Here come the Pittsburgh Steelers and a pass defense that’s holding opposing quarterbacks to an average QB Rating of 79.1 in 2009. The Steelers have given up just 11 passing touchdowns in 10 games and are holding opposing quarterbacks to a 59.1 completion percentage while giving up an average of just 208.7 passing yards per game (12th). Look for another option at quarterback this weekend as Flacco’s fantasy struggles are going to continue.
However, you should feel confident about starting running back Ray Rice. While the Steelers have done an excellent job against the rush this season, the Ravens are going to rely heavily on their most potent offensive weapon in this AFC North divisional showdown. Running backs Chris Johnson, Kevin Smith, Cedric Benson, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles have combined to average 9.0 fantasy points per week against the Steel Curtain (standard scoring). While that number isn’t going to carry you to victory, it should be enough to warrant a starting spot in the rotation, especially with the amount of touches Rice is likely to see.
Steve Smith WR Carolina Panthers: He’s scored four touchdowns in his past four games, but it’s time to send Smith back to the bench. The Panthers travel to New York this weekend to take on the Jets, and shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis will be waiting.
Check out what Revis has done this season against some of the league’s best receivers:
Randy Moss (two games combined): Nine receptions, 58 yards, one touchdown
Marques Colston: two receptions for 33 yards
Andre Johnson: four receptions for 35 yards
Mike Sims-Walker: three receptions, 49 yards, one touchdown
Beanie Wells RB Arizona Cardinals: This is a Week 12 matchup that deserves a hell of a lot more attention than it’s going to get.
Wells has been red-hot the past two weeks, touching the ball 34 times for 202 total yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Tennessee defense seems to have figured out how to stop the running game, as they’ve allowed an average of only 73.0 yards over their past two outings, with no rushing touchdowns.
My money’s on the Titans as I expect Arizona to take to the skies in an effort to exploit the NFL’s 31st-ranked passing defense (271.7 yards per game).
Matt Forte RB Chicago Bears: Back to the bench for Forte this weekend as the Bears travel to Minnesota to take on the NFL’s third-ranked rushing defense (85.5 yards per game). Keep in mind that even when Forte was tearing up the league during his rookie season in 2008, he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and 76.0 rushing yards per game with one touchdown in two meetings with the Vikings.
In unrelated, but not surprising news…
You’ve also got to keep Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the bench this Sunday, no matter how badly you think the Vikings’ pass defense may be. Minnesota is 5-0 at the Metrodome this season with 17 sacks and has allowed just one passing touchdown over the past two games. Meanwhile, Jay Cut has already thrown 18 interceptions and has only one passing TD in his last two games.
Three defenses to avoid in Week 12…
1. Chicago Bears (at Minnesota): The Vikings are averaging 30.4 points per game at home this season.
2. New Orleans Saints AND New England Patriots: They play each other Monday night. Would you feel comfortable going against Drew Brees or Tom Brady?
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh