Should You Really Bench Aaron Rodgers?

Jake Ciely, Senior Writer December 12, 2012

It’s a guarantee that all leagues are now into their playoffs. It’s also guaranteed that if you’ve been reading this article all year, you’re likely one of the chosen few. Last week, Given Up was nearly perfect again – if not for Philip Rivers (go figure) and the Raiders asking Brandon Myers to block way too much (frustrating growl). With your championship dreams on the line, let’s aim for another near-perfect performance!

Quarterback Points Allowed
Rank Team Opp PPG
Rank Team Opp PPG
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NO 20.0 17 Pittsburgh Steelers DAL 13.3
2 Kansas City Chiefs OAK 17.8 18 Atlanta Falcons NYG 15.4
3 Cincinnati Bengals PHI 18.4 19 Minnesota Vikings STL 14.5
4 New Orleans Saints TB 18.6 20 San Diego Chargers CAR 14.2
5 Oakland Raiders KC 17.5 21 Chicago Bears GB 14.5
6 New York Jets TEN 16.5 22 New York Giants ATL 13.6
7 Houston Texans IND 16.1 23 Denver Broncos BAL 13.0
8 Cleveland Browns WAS 17.8 24 Philadelphia Eagles CIN 12.5
9 St Louis Rams MIN 17.5 25 Tennessee Titans NYJ 11.9
10 Miami Dolphins JAX 15.9 26 Indianapolis Colts HOU 14.4
11 Seattle Seahawks BUF 16.8 27 Dallas Cowboys PIT 10.8
12 Arizona Cardinals DET 15.9 28 Baltimore Ravens DEN 13.3
13 San Francisco 49ers NE 16.2 29 New England Patriots SAF 11.6
14 Carolina Panthers SAD 16.2 30 Buffalo Bills SEA 10.0
15 Washington Redskins CLE 14.8 31 Detroit Lions ARI 10.5
16 Jacksonville Jaguars MIA 15.5 32 Green Bay Packers CHI 9.8

ACES IN THE HOLE

Just like last week, Josh Freeman has a great matchup. Actually, this week, he has the best for any QB. The Saints are terrible, and I’m sure I’ve said that at least once (or 10 times) before. Look at what Eli Manning just did to them. Sure, Eli is a better QB, but Freeman isn’t far behind, and if you need a fill-in for Week 15 (ahem, RG3 owners), Freeman is one of the best options.

Oh, hey Brady Quinn. You’re telling me you face the lowly Raiders. Yea, well, you’re still Brady Quinn… moving on.

Andy Dalton has the third-best matchup for QBs with a game against the Eagles. Freeman actually scored less than any other QB had against Philly in three weeks, and still had 16 Fantasy Points (FP). Dalton hasn’t been consistent, but if you look at his two three-week stretches of glory (CLE, WAS, JAX and NYG, KC, OAK) you can see he excels versus bad pass defenses. If he is your No. 1 QB or paired with another QB at his level, you can feel confident trusting Dalton at this crucial stage.

This is why I never draft QBs in the first round. Don’t you think Drew Brees’ owners would love to change their selection now? Nevertheless, Brees still puts up elite numbers more often than not, and with the Tampa Bay secondary unable to stop anyone, he needs to be your starting QB.

Do you have the guts to sit one of the game’s best? Photo Credit joe-stanton

TOUGH DEAL

Do you have the guts? Will you bench Aaron Rodgers during playoff time? I certainly can’t, but the reasons to do so are certainly there. Rodgers has been mediocre since the Packers bye with no more than 15 FP in a game. Additionally, the Pack head to Chicago to face a Bears defense allowing just 9.8 FPPG to QB, and held Rodgers to 219 yards, one TD and 10 FP the first time. I said I couldn’t bench Rodgers, but if I happened to snag a Dalton or Freeman too and I wanted to go upside/risk, I could maaaaybe see doing it.

Matthew Stafford is another QB that is extremely tough to bench at this point. Like Stafford, his matchup is poor; Arizona allows 10.5 FPPG with only two QBs topping 17 FP against them. Since the Lions bye, though, Stafford has just two poor games and four with 20 FP or more. Bench him only if you are swinging for the fences.

No problem here. Ryan Fitzpatrick faces the Seahawks defense – a unit that allows 10.0 FPPG and has just two games in which they didn’t force a QB turnover. Do not, by any means, start Fitzpatrick.

Running Back Points Allowed
Rank Team Opp PPG
Rank Team Opp PPG
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NO 22.3 17 Arizona Cardinals DET 14.6
2 Kansas City Chiefs OAK 21.5 18 Minnesota Vikings STL 16.0
3 Miami Dolphins JAX 20.6 19 St Louis Rams MIN 14.8
4 Seattle Seahawks BUF 20.6 20 Atlanta Falcons NYG 13.8
5 New York Jets TEN 19.8 21 Cincinnati Bengals PHI 14.3
6 Oakland Raiders KC 17.4 22 Cleveland Browns WAS 14.3
7 Houston Texans IND 16.8 23 San Francisco 49ers NE 13.6
8 San Diego Chargers CAR 18.4 24 Jacksonville Jaguars MIA 14.4
9 Denver Broncos BAL 17.2 25 Dallas Cowboys PIT 13.3
10 New York Giants ATL 18.2 26 Carolina Panthers SAD 13.5
11 Philadelphia Eagles CIN 15.9 27 New Orleans Saints TB 14.1
12 Tennessee Titans NYJ 17.3 28 Baltimore Ravens DEN 13.2
13 Chicago Bears GB 16.5 29 Buffalo Bills SEA 12.6
14 Pittsburgh Steelers DAL 15.8 30 Green Bay Packers CHI 12.5
15 Washington Redskins CLE 15.8 31 Indianapolis Colts HOU 11.3
16 Detroit Lions ARI 16.8 32 New England Patriots SAF 9.9

ACES IN THE HOLE

You saw how David Wilson simply embarrassed the Saints right? Well, if a rookie can do that, imagine what Doug Martin is going to do to them this week. Just 17 FP the first time for Martin? He could easily double that.

Touching upon another RB that’s already in every starting lineup, we have Jamaal Charles. Earlier in the season, I mentioned that Charles had one of, if not the, best playoff schedules out there. After Cleveland last week, Charles has the second-best matchup with the Raiders on Sunday and gets the seventh-best matchup with Indy next week. Congrats may be in order already for Charles owners.

Reggie Bush had a terrible matchup (see: 49ers) last week, and I had trouble even recommending him as a flex play. This week is different. Daniel Thomas is an afterthought – just two carries last week – and the Jaguars allow 20.6 FPPG to RBs.

We already have two RBs who don’t need reasons to be in your lineup, and Marshawn Lynch against Buffalo is a third, so I’ll point out that the Jets face the Titans. That means Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell could both have flex value again this week. Each RB rushed for 77 or more yards (77 Greene, 78 Powell) and found the end zone against the Jags. Don’t be surprised to see that success repeated.

TOUGH DEAL

Even though Stevan Ridley scored against the Texans, it came late when the game was out of hand… and Belichick was in his “run up the score to make a point” mode. Prior to that run, Ridley had 17 carries for 58 yards (3.4 YPC) and no TDs. Hmm, pretty much what I predicted in Given Up last week. No, you can’t take away the FP or TD, but it’s a thought to keep in mind as New England faces San Francisco. The 49ers allow 9.9 FPPG to RBs and, just to remind everyone, have given up just two rushing TDs all year.

Speaking of that Pats-Texans matchup, it’s actually part of the reason Houston doesn’t rank as close to San Fran as they did prior to Week 14. In truth, they still have one of the strongest run defenses in the league, and that was only the second game in which they allowed a rushing TD. Vick Ballard is not Stevan Ridley, and the Colts offense is not as multidimensional as the Pats. The Colts rely heavily on Andrew Luck and the pass, and Ballard will have a tough day against an angry Texans team – in Houston, mind you. Ballard is only a flex-level RB.

As proven again, you really can’t trust the Packers run game since the lead RB (Alex Green right now) isn’t guaranteed the red zone chances. The Packers pass more than they run, and then we have John Kuhn, DuJuan Harris (who?) last week and even Aaron Rodgers running it in at times. With the Packers facing the Bears run defense, you want no part of this backfield.

Wide Receiver Points Allowed
Rank Team Opp PPG
Rank Team Opp PPG
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NO 25.2 17 Indianapolis Colts HOU 23.5
2 New Orleans Saints TB 27.5 18 St Louis Rams MIN 20.1
3 Houston Texans IND 23.8 19 Denver Broncos BAL 19.8
4 Cincinnati Bengals PHI 22.8 20 Jacksonville Jaguars MIA 20.0
5 Cleveland Browns WAS 25.8 21 Chicago Bears GB 21.2
6 Kansas City Chiefs OAK 22.0 22 Philadelphia Eagles CIN 16.5
7 Seattle Seahawks BUF 22.4 23 San Diego Chargers CAR 17.6
8 San Francisco 49ers NE 22.7 24 Minnesota Vikings STL 17.6
9 New York Jets TEN 21.8 25 Baltimore Ravens DEN 17.9
10 Washington Redskins CLE 22.5 26 Detroit Lions ARI 18.2
11 Oakland Raiders KC 21.5 27 Dallas Cowboys PIT 16.1
12 Arizona Cardinals DET 22.2 28 New York Giants ATL 16.0
13 Atlanta Falcons NYG 23.5 29 Green Bay Packers CHI 17.3
14 Miami Dolphins JAX 20.8 30 Tennessee Titans NYJ 15.8
15 Pittsburgh Steelers DAL 21.3 31 New England Patriots SAF 15.2
16 Carolina Panthers SAD 22.4 32 Buffalo Bills SEA 14.8

ACES IN THE HOLE

As we saw last week, when the Giants showed up in each section, facing the Saints is a beautiful thing for Fantasy players. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are the fortunate receivers this week, and you should have both in your lineup. VJax is a no-doubt must-start, and Williams is should only be benched if you are loaded at WR. He’s shown a knack for finding the end zone again, similar to his rookie year, and while he didn’t score in the first meeting, I wouldn’t bet on that happening a second time.

On the other side of the matchup, we have the Saints. Lance Moore had a great opportunity to put up solid points against the Giants. However, the GMen kicked things up with turnover creation and pass-rush galore, as the Saints were down early. Look for Moore to have a better go against the Bucs secondary. We know Marques Colston needs to be out there for you, but the Bucs have allowed at least one WR TD in every game since Week 7. That includes an average of 28.6 FPPG for WRs! Who knows, desperate owners or deep-leaguers might find some value with Tiquan Underwood too.

Since there are no trustworthy options for Houston after Andre Johnson, who starts no matter what, we’ll move down to the Bengals. A.J. Green, he’s in every single lineup where owned. So, okay, what now? How about Andrew Hawkins. Remember him? After the first three games, Hawkins disappeared. That is, until an injury to Mohamed Sanu opened the door again. Hawkins scored his fourth TD of the year with six catches for 44 yards last week. Someone needs to get the looks after Green, and the Philly secondary has allowed at least one WR TD and 25.5 FPPG since Week 6.

TOUGH DEAL

Like Ryan Fitzpatrick, you want no part of the Bills receivers, even Stevie Johnson. Sure, Stevie is a solid PPR play most every week, but he’s been held in check before with three games of three FP or less. Seattle allows just 14.8 FPPG to WRs and shuts down opposing team’s WR1s – and it’s a decent gap from them to Pittsburgh at number two. Unless you’re thin at WR, Stevie is a benchable WR this week.

Similar to the QB situations with Rodgers and Stafford, it’s tough to bench Wes Welker. Even though Welker faces the 49ers, I can’t see benching a WR who has at least 48 yards in every game since Week 1. Prior to the Houston game, Welker also had at least six catches in all of those games except the first, where he had five. While I’m not benching Welker, I am staying away from Brandon Lloyd. Don’t let last week’s outburst excite you… been there, done that. It was just Lloyd’s fourth game over eight FP, and only one has come without him finding the end zone. The end zone… something the 49ers have let teams do only five times this year. See why Lloyd is a risky option?

Speaking of risky matchups, in which last week’s production may have owners excited, we have the Titans. Kenny Britt is finally showing signs of life, but now the Titans host the Jets. Like the 49ers, the Jets have only allowed five teams to score via their WRs. Britt still has upside, but he is the definition of risk/reward WR this week. As for Nate Washington and Kendall Wright, they too fall in the same category with even more risk involved.

Tight End Points Allowed
Rank Team Opp PPG
Rank Team Opp PPG
1 Kansas City Chiefs OAK 8.6 17 Cincinnati Bengals PHI 6.2
2 New York Jets TEN 9.2 18 Indianapolis Colts HOU 7.8
3 Cleveland Browns WAS 10.3 19 Tennessee Titans NYJ 6.9
4 San Francisco 49ers NE 9.1 20 Minnesota Vikings STL 6.8
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NO 7.9 21 Pittsburgh Steelers DAL 5.9
6 Arizona Cardinals DET 8.3 22 Jacksonville Jaguars MIA 6.5
7 Houston Texans IND 6.9 23 Chicago Bears GB 6.5
8 Philadelphia Eagles CIN 7.5 24 Detroit Lions ARI 6.8
9 New Orleans Saints TB 7.5 25 Washington Redskins CLE 5.5
10 St Louis Rams MIN 7.0 26 Denver Broncos BAL 5.9
11 Baltimore Ravens DEN 9.3 27 New England Patriots SAF 5.3
12 Oakland Raiders KC 6.7 28 Dallas Cowboys PIT 4.9
13 San Diego Chargers CAR 7.2 29 Atlanta Falcons NYG 6.0
14 Seattle Seahawks BUF 6.5 30 Buffalo Bills SEA 6.2
15 Miami Dolphins JAX 6.3 31 Carolina Panthers SAD 5.8
16 New York Giants ATL 7.4 32 Green Bay Packers CHI 5.5

ACES IN THE HOLE

This is a rough week for usable tight ends with favorable matchups. In reality, this entire season has been rather tough on tight ends. Rob Gronkowski is still out and will miss his fourth straight game, yet he is still the season leader in FP at TE. That just shows how much of a mess it’s been. Only four TEs have more than 93 FP, Heath Miller – with several poor outings – is fourth, followed by Greg Olsen, Owen Daniels and Brandon Myers, as the only other three with 90 FP or more. Tony Moeaki has the best matchup, but isn’t worth starting at this point. Dustin Keller might miss his matchup with the Titans. Benjamin Watson has a great matchup with the Skins, but he’s another TE that is too risky at playoff time. So, here we find ourselves at Vernon Davis – the 13th highest scoring TE (sitting behind Scott Chandler). Colin Kaepernick seems to ignore him, so even his cake matchup with the Pats carries risk. In truth, we have to dig down to Daniels against the Colts (seventh best matchup) to see a TE with a favorable opponent, that is also worth your time. Geez, good luck this week with the tight ends.

TOUGH DEAL

Jermichael Finley is beyond a disappointment given his ability, and with a matchup against the Bears, he is beyond being a usable TE. Due to a fumble in the first meeting, Finley finished with a goose egg and has just two games over six FP on the year. Both included a TD – something the Bears have allowed just once to TEs at home.

The Chargers are a surprising team to see ranked as the second toughest matchup for TEs. Only twice has an opponent topped seven FP and four times they failed to go over two FP. That makes Olsen the surprise risk-pick for tight end in Week 15.

(Reminder: You’ll notice the rankings are not in exact order of points allowed. Other metrics are calculated in along with just straight points. It allows for better analysis so one off-week doesn’t skew the opponent difficulty too greatly.)

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