CHICAGO BEARS at Cleveland Browns
Jay Cutler provides an interesting dilemma for owners this week. He was impressive early on in the season, but not to the extent that Josh McCown has been. Then there’s the memory of him returning against the Cowboys, only to aggravate his injury and miss a further 4 games. If he plays a full game, he should have around 275 yards and 2 scores. Brandon Marshall should be the main beneficiary of Cutler’s return, and while it may hinder Alshon Jeffery slightly, each are bona fide WR1 options this week. Neither should score under 12 standard points. Matt Forte may have a tough time scoring on the Browns this week, but we like him for over 120 total yards. Per ESPN, the Browns have also allowed 4 tight end scores over the last 4 games, so Martellus Bennett may be in line for a nice game, but his recent performances mean he remains a low-end TE1. In summation, start your Bears (except maybe Bennett).
Philadelphia Eagles at MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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Ugh. With Adrian Peterson‘s status questionable, it’s very difficult to recommend starting any Vikings players in your fantasy playoffs. Matt Cassell just won’t give you the production you need in such a pivotal game. Toby Gerhart, Peterson’s presumptive backup, is injured himself, and going against an Eagles defense that has been sneakily good of late. They have nobody of note fit at tight end, and the wide receiver corps has underperformed all season. The ray of light is that the Eagles are giving up the most points to opposing WRs on the season. Greg Jennings has seen 19 targets over the past two games, and Cordarrelle Patterson is finally beginning to translate his return game ability into the offense. Of the pair, we’d rather start Patterson, as his ceiling is sky-high – as last week’s 20 standard points show.
GREEN BAY PACKERS at Dallas Cowboys
Matt Flynn faces the defense giving up the most points to opposing fantasy QBs. Unfortunately for his owners, that likely means Flynn only puts up respectable numbers, rather than a huge game. His play since he’s taken over the Packers’ starting QB position has been uninspiring (to put it kindly), and he’s doing nothing to help the value of those around him. As a result, Jordy Nelson is a low-end WR2, even against a soft defense, and James Jones and Jarrett Boykin are barely even worthy of flex consideration, and that’s only because of the matchup. Andrew Quarless is only worth consideration in extreme desperation, because his useage has been inconsistent even just taking Flynn’s starts into account. Eddie Lacy is the Packers player with the best chance of putting up big numbers this week. The Cowboys are giving up the most points to opposing RBs this season, and this week again miss arguably their best player in Sean Lee. Lacy, providing he’s fit enough, should see at least 20 carries, and has a chance to post a monster stat line. Even with the injury concern, he’s a top-5 RB option this week.
Baltimore Ravens at DETROIT LIONS
If you were to just look at Matt Stafford‘s stat line from last week, you’d think he was horrible. If you watched any of the game, you’d know why. The weather conditions in Philly were as bad as any seen in a recent football game, and in reality no players had a decent shot of producing anything of note. Kind of difficult when you have to lift your foot to knee height to get it out of the snow. We like him as a top-3 option again this week, even against an improving Ravens defense. It goes without saying that Calvin Johnson is fantasy’s top option at the position, especially when he’ll be looking to prove a point to Matt Elam. Unfortunately, no other Lions wideout is worth considering using, especially at such an important part of the season. Reggie Bush is likely to give owners a headache this week, as his status will remain unclear right up until Monday night’s game. If he can’t go, Joique Bell will be a nice option, but unless you have him as a handcuff it might be best to bench Bush, as there are so few other options. As per usual, avoid Joe Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew. You’ll be less annoyed if you bench them and they score 10 points than if you start them and the score 0.