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Run with Chris Ivory and Michael Crabtree in Week 17

Mike Blewitt December 28, 2013 10:56PM EDT
Each week, we break down specific Fantasy matchups across the league to see who is lined up for a big day and who may be better off on your bench. Start them, sit them, it’s your call! But, at least give your rosters another look before you head into the weekend’s games.

QUARTERBACK

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Browns – There are not too many Fantasy players out there that had “Big Ben” pegged as a Top 10 QB this season, but with another solid game he may even crack the Top 8. His 553 passing attempts are already the most of his career by a wide margin while his 27 passing TDs are the second most of his career and we still have Week 17 to go.

Last time he faced the Browns, Roethlisberger had a modest 217 passing yards and two scores in a comfortable 27-11 win. The Browns’ defense, thought to be the strength of the team this season, ranks near the bottom of the league in turnovers forced – a difficult characteristic for a team whose offense can’t move the ball effectively. The shining star of their defense, CB Joe Haden, does as good a job against #1 WRs as anyone in the league; he ranks second in the NFL. But, with Haden banged up and missing practice, it will potentially give WR Antonio Brown some breathing room running his routes.

We suggest riding the hot hand of the QB who is third in scoring amongst Fantasy QBs since Week 9 and put Big Ben in your lineup for Week 17.

Kirk Cousins vs. Giants – Cousins was thought to be a Fantasy savior a couple of weeks ago but the dysfunction in Washington continues as they have skidded to a 3-12 record. Cousins’ four turnovers in the last two weeks does not bode well facing a Giants defense that has held up well statistically, ranking in the Top 10 in all defensive efficiency categories. Considering the Giants offense has turned the ball over more than any team in the league it is even more impressive that the G-Men were able to keep opposing teams’ stats under control for much of the season. Even with the potential for Cousins to have to throw the ball to keep pace with Eli (assuming he doesn’t continue the pick parade), we think there is too much risk to have him in your lineup – there are simply better options available.

RUNNING BACK

Chris Ivory vs. Dolphins – This is the first time all year that we have highlighted the same RB two weeks in a row as a strong play. Ivory has totaled more than 60 yards in each of his last seven games, showing a consistency that is much needed when it gets down to your championship games. Rushing at 4.6 yards per carry, Ivory faces a Miami defense that ranks in the bottom 10 of the league versus opposing Fantasy backs and 27th in rushing defense efficiency. There is not a lot of versatility in Ivory’s game, as he has only three TDs and two passes caught, but he has been a consistent flex play for the last two months. If you need a few extra points to put you over the top, Ivory is a guy to have in your lineup.

Steven Jackson vs. Panthers – Sometimes, the bad matchups show up at exactly the wrong time in your Fantasy schedule and this…is one of those times. Jackson has not topped 85 rushing yards all season but has scraped together seven TDs for those Fantasy owners who still had faith. Unfortunately, the Falcons go up against a Panthers defense that has allowed only four rushing TDs (just three to opposing backs) – tops in the NFL. The boom-or-bust play that Jackson has become does not give him much upside at all this week and it would actually be the worst time play him despite those recent TDs. Look at some other options (like Chris Ivory) if you want a few more points out of your flex play this week.

WIDE RECEIVER

Michael Crabtree vs. Cardinals – The connection that developed between QB Colin Kaepernick and Crabtree during the 2012 Super Bowl run seemed to be on display in the second half of last week’s playoff-clinching win against Atlanta, when they hooked up all four times Crabtree was targeted. We understand that the Cards are ranked sixth in the NFL against opposing Fantasy wideouts, but with both teams still fighting for playoff positions/seeding, we expect the best players to make the best plays. Crabtree has increased the number of snaps he has taken each week and seems primed for his first signature moment as the Niners fight to get back to the Super Bowl again.

Marvin Jones vs. Ravens – Jones is about as boom-or-bust as it gets in Fantasy Football in 2013. After his Week 8 destruction of the Jets, we basically didn’t hear from him for another five weeks, when he pitched in with back-to-back double-digit performances. Now, he will face the Ravens in (essentially) a do-or-die playoff game for Baltimore. The Ravens lock up No.-2 wideouts, yielding only 51 yards per game, so we think it’s best to opt for another wide receiver in what may determine a championship for your squad.

TIGHT END

Coby Fleener vs. Jaguars – We’d be the first ones to admit that Coby Fleener is having a frustrating season for many Fantasy owners, only topping double digits four times. But the Jaguars rank 28th in the league in defensive efficiency against opposing tight ends and he had his best game of the year against Jacksonville in Week 4. The consistent doubting of QB Andrew Luck and the Colts baffles us, so we think they deliver a stellar performance while trying to improve their playoff seeding.

Timothy Wright vs. Saints – This is the second week in a row that we are cautioning you to stay off of the Wright bandwagon.  The matchup in Week 17 brings the Saints in the Superdome while they are jockeying for a better playoff seeding – not an ideal environment. The Bucs are putting up the least passing yards in the entire league and have managed only 18 points per game. Given that the Saints rank in the Top 8 against opposing tight ends, it’s best to look for some other options on the waiver wire or on your bench.

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