The results are in. Is your team in the clear? Were you in the top six? We assume so, because you are still regularly reading our start and sit column. The decisions for your team are now more important than ever. One false move (we had a team lose by .04 points last week), and you'll be using your terrible towel as a washcloth instead of a symbol of team pride. This week is even more special, because there is a Saturday night game, meaning one more deadline you have to look out for. Read our tips now, prepare for battle, and set your lineups.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Atlanta Falcons (THU, 8:20 ET)
START: WR Julio Jones
SIT: JAC Defense
The Jaguars secondary is very thin. With their starting cornerback Rashean Mathis and strong safety Dwight Lowery out for Sunday’s game, the wide receiver duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White should have plenty of opportunities to rack up the yards. Even though Jones may not match the performance he had last week (3 receptions for 104 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns), a solid final line isn’t that far-fetched.
Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (SAT, 8:20 ET)
START: RB Felix Jones
SIT: WR Mike Williams
The Buccaneers defense gives up, on average, 139.7 rushing yards per game. With Felix Jones reassuming the starting running back role for the Cowboys after DeMarco Murray’s season-ending injury, anyone who picked him up off of waivers or held onto the Dallas back for a rainy day should make sure he’s in your RB2 spot, at least.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (SUN, 1:00 ET)
START: TE Anthony Fasano
SIT: RB C.J. Spiller
Just in case Jimmy Graham’s back spasms force him to sit out Sunday’s game against Minnesota, Anthony Fasano could serve as a viable fill-in. In fact, the Bills defense gives up the 4th most points to the opposing TE. In a postseason pinch, Fasano should be able to offer up some much-needed help in a position where points are hard to come by.
Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears (1:00 ET)
START: WR Doug Baldwin
SIT: RB Marion Barber
We swear, Tim Tebow didn’t impact our decision on this one. Marion Barber is embroiled in a timeshare with Kahlil Bell and the Seattle rush defense gives up less than 4 yards per carry to the opposing running back. In their game against Denver, Bell looked like the more complete back utilizing an element of speed that Barber just doesn’t possess.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (1:00 ET)
START: WR Nate Washington
SIT: Any Colts player
In his first game as the Titans starting QB, Jake Locker developed a good rapport with Nate Washington (6 receptions, 130 yards, 1 touchdown). The Colts defense struggles in every aspect, so expect Locker to continue looking Washington’s way through Sunday’s game.
Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs (1:00 ET)
START: WR James Jones
SIT: RB Ryan Grant
Yeah, Ryan Grant may have looked like the Ryan Grant of old but don’t read too much into it. The Packers have been and will continue to be a pass first squad, which is why James Jones is worth a start, especially if you’re one of the people that lost Greg Jennings for the rest of the season. With Jennings out, the rest of the Green Bay receiving corps will see a spike in targets. Expect Jones to benefit from the team’s unfortunate loss.
New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings (1:00 ET)
START: WR Percy Harvin
SIT: RB Chris Ivory
For the deepest of deep leagues, Chris Ivory is definitely worth picking up in Mark Ingram’s absence. However, starting him is a different story. The Vikings defense is still very capable of stopping the running game, and when it comes to Ivory, your only hope is for a cheap touchdown. Don’t take huge risks at such an important time.
Cincinnati Bengals @ St. Louis Rams (1:00 ET)
START: CIN Defense
SIT: RB Steven Jackson
In his last four games, Steven Jackson has yet to exceed 80 total yards. Hardly the work of a player highly regarded as RB1 material. The Bengals defense is a solid group against the run, so Jackson won't find much success against Cincy.
START: RB Roy Helu, RB Brandon Jacobs
SIT: NY Defense, RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Somehow, the Giants transitioned from one of the top rushing teams in the league over the past few years to one of the worst. In a battle of who can be more inadequate, Jacobs has held the most value. The defense also used to be a point of pride, but New York has given up 121 points over the past three games. It’s been against the Saints, Packers and Cowboys, but don’t act like the Redskins are unfamiliar with the endzone.
Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans (1:00 ET)
START: RB Ben Tate
SIT: RB DeAngelo WIlliams, RB Jonathan Stewart
We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but even as the backup for most of the season, Ben Tate has run up 820 yards this year. With Yates leading the way and Andre Johnson down, we still figure that Houston will push the run for the majority of game. Against the Panthers run defense, backups are deemed starters. You also might be unaware that the Texans are only allowing 91.5 yards on the ground this year. Neither DeAngelo Williams nor Jonathan Stewart have been anything to brag about this year, meaning both are doomed to be duds this week.
Detroit Lions @ Oakland Raiders (4:05 ET)
START: RB Darren McFadden
SIT: QB Carson Palmer, RB Maurice Morris
The Lions will have Ndamukong Suh this week after he was suspended for two games, which is horrific news for Carson Palmer. The former Bengal hasn’t exactly looked too sharp this year with an interception in all but one game and four in last week’s loss to the Packers (we called that, didn't we?). The Raiders are expecting Denarius Moore back and hope to have Darren McFadden on the pitch as well. If McFadden is back, he deserves a spot on your team, but it’s a little alarming that they are still so unsure at this point.
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos (4:15 ET)
START: QB Tim Tebow
SIT: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, DEN Defense
If you’ve been too enthralled by the way that Rob Gronkowski has been playing lately, you probably didn’t notice how useless Green-Ellis has been. He has only been given 11 carries over the past two games for 33 yards. Even when the Pats are inside the 10-yard line, it seems like they still look to their huge tight end targets.
New York Jets @ Philadelphia Eagles (4:15 ET)
START: QB Mark Sanchez
SIT: QB Mike Vick
This game is 100 times more important for the Jets than it is the Eagles (you don’t seriously still have hope that they’ll make the playoffs, do you?), and Matt Sanchez usually plays his best when the most is on the line (we hate to admitting that fact). He’s also been on fire the past three games with seven touchdowns to one interception. We see the opposite for Vick. He’s still fragile, his receivers won’t see many open looks, and scared Vick trying to scramble won’t play well for anybody.
Cleveland Browns @ Arizona Cardinals (4:15 ET)
START: RB Beanie Wells
SIT: RB Peyton Hillis, QB Colt McCoy, QB Kevin Kolb
Interestingly enough, the Cardinals have faced DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, and LeSean McCoy over the past five games and not one of them has reached 90 yards. The way Hillis has been running, we don’t expect him to do much either.
Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers (8:20 ET)
START: RB Ryan Mathews
SIT: QB Philip Rivers
The Chargers have ripped off 75 points in the past two games, and everybody wants to claim that they are “back to normal.” We’re not so sure. Those wins came against the Jaguars and the Bills, and it’s time to face the big boys now with the Ravens coming to town. If you have a choice, we’d actually stay away from Rivers this week. Make sure you keep Mathews in, though, as he has a nice three-game streak of 100+ yards.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Francisco 49ers (MON, 8:30 ET)
START: RB Frank Gore
SIT: QB Ben Roethlisberger, QB Alex Smith, RB Rashard Mendenhall (Flex at best)
Big Ben would play through just about anything, but even torn ligaments might be too painful to work with. He hasn’t practiced yet this week, he was wearing a boot, and we don’t expect him to be on the field on Monday. Even if he were, his hobbled play probably isn’t a safe bet for fantasy playoffs. With that said it should be an interesting match up between the 49er defense and Rashard Mendenhall, who has only rushed for more than 76 yards once this season. We foresee a train wreck. If you must, start him at the flex position.
Frank Gore is a different story. The Steelers defense is great, but Gore is a much better player than Mendenhall, and there’s no way you can afford to bench him in the playoffs. Hopefully the 49ers don’t pull him too early.