As we said in our AFC North preview, if you’re in your league’s championship game, good luck, and happy holidays!
MINNESTOA VIKINGS at Cincinnati Bengals
Matt Cassell had a huge game last week against the Bears, with 3 total scores and over 400 total yards. He should come back to earth this week, and can’t even be considered a QB2 against a Bengals defense giving up the 8th fewest points to opposing fantasy QBs. Per ESPN, the Bengals have given up just 3 running back scores all season, so if Adrian Peterson does return, expectations should be tempered. Toby Gerhart should also see significant work unless Peterson is 100%, making this a murky situation. If he’s a full go, though, Peterson is in line for his usual 100 total yards and a score prediction. Cassell’s return has provided a kickstart for Greg Jennings‘ fantasy productivity, and he’s worth a flex spot this week. Cordarrelle Patterson is also a low-end flex prospect, as he’s proven he can put up a nice fantasy day on just one play. Jerome Simpson and Jairus Wright have shown they can have big days, but are too inconsistent to merit real consideration.
New York Giants at DETROIT LIONS
Calvin Johnson hasn’t posted double digit points in standard scoring leagues in either of the last two weeks, and is listed as questionable for the game against the Giants. If he suits up, however, there’s no way you’re benching him. As always, he’s a threat for over 100 yards and a score. There’s no other Lions WR worth playing this week, but Joe Fauria is someone we believe can help owners win championships this week with Brandon Pettigrew out. If you’re missing Jordan Cameron, for example, you could do a lot worse than slotting Fauria into your lineup. It’s a risk for sure, but one worth taking, with his upside. We like Reggie Bush for over 100 total yards this week, but there’s a very real chance Joique Bell vultures a score from him. Bell himself is worth flex consideration, and Bush is as always a top-8 option at the position. Matt Stafford has tortured owners with a pair of terrible games over the last two weeks, but should bounce back against a Giants defense which has been iffy at best all season long. He’s still a top-8 fantasy QB this week. It’s also hard not to like the Lions D/ST facing Eli Manning in the midst of a historically bad season.
Pittsburgh Steelers at GREEN BAY PACKERS
Aaron Rodgers is once again out, meaning Matt Flynn will lead the Packers against the Steelers. Flynn had a nice game last week with 299 passing yards and 4 scores, but we feel like that was the exception, rather than indicative of future performance. He’s barely in the QB2 conversation, and 250 yards and 2 scores seems like the upper end of what he can achieve this week. Jordy Nelson is still the only Packers WR worth starting when Flynn is in the game, and at that he’s a lower-end WR2. James Jones and Jarrett Boykin are too inconsistent with Flynn at the helm to consider starting in such an important game, though Andrew Quarless is a sneaky option after scoring in back-to-back games. Eddie Lacy is the most trustworthy Packers fantasy option, and his blend of workload and talent mean he’s a top 5 option against a Steelers defense which has given up 16 scores on the ground through 14 games. 100 total yards and a score should be his baseline.
CHICAGO BEARS at Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Marshall benefited from his QB’s return last week, finishing the game with 6 catches for 95 yards and a score. The real takeaway though is his 13 targets, proving again that Jay Cutler will always try to forcefeed Marshall the ball. He’s in line for another big game, and should have 100 yards and another score. Cutler himself returns to top-10 QB status, picking up where John McCown left off. This week he faces an Eagles defense giving up the 6th most points to opposing QBs. Alshon Jeffery is also a strong start, with the Eagles giving up the most points to opposing fantasy WRs. He should have at least 80 yards and is also a good bet to score. Matt Forte has been simply sensational this season, and should have another 130-total yard game. Outside of weeks 10 and 12, Forte has scored double digit points in standard scoring leagues in every game. He is a top-5 option as always. Martellus Bennett hasn’t had close to the same level of consistency this season, and has fallen out of the TE1 discussion completely, particularly against an Eagles defense which has given up just two scores to tight ends all season.