Vinnie Iyer provides his Week 15 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em playoff advice for fantasy owners still playing for a championship.
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Remember when Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles kept sliding because of injury risks? They are the Nos. 1 and No. 8 fantasy backs, respectively. Remember when we deemed Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore as durability risks? They’re both also in the top 10. Consider these other non-first-round backs who are also in the top 11: Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Alfred Morris and C.J. Spiller.
Meanwhile, as expected, the three first-round QBs — Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees — are in the top four in fantasy scoring, with rookie Robert Griffin III mixed in. Next year, when you’re making the decision on who to take first, remember there’s no such thing as a surefire No. 1 fantasy running back.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers. Freeman didn’t play all that well against the Eagles last week in Tampa Bay’s loss to Philly. But he still produced a pair of touchdown passes. Freeman should get at least two more TDs with 250-plus yards in what figures to be a shootout with Brees against a shaky Saints defense.
Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, Jets. There is so much buzz around what Mark Sanchez isn’t doing in the passing game, but New York’s running game is the reason why it’s still in the wild-card race. Tony Sparano will run as much as possible, and there’s been enough volume for both backs to produce as RB2s. That will be the case again vs. Tennessee’s defense on Monday night. Just beware that Powell is dealing with a fractured toe, which could boost Greene even more.
Three more: The Dolphins’ Reggie Bush is a must-play at home against the Jaguars’ No. 31 run defense; you can feel much better about the Chargers’ Ryan Mathews at home vs. Carolina; keep rolling with the Broncos’ Knowshon Moreno to support Peyton Manning in Baltimore.
Josh Gordon, Browns. He’s gone from supplemental draft pick to big-play, go-to guy in a hurry, giving Cleveland that long-awaited No. 1 receiver. He gets targeted a ton by Brandon Weeden, and that should be great news against a Redskins’ pass defense that’s giving up a lot downfield.
Three more: Lance Moore is a roller coaster for the Saints, but you’ve got to trust him as a WR2 or WR3 at home against the Buccaneers’ struggling coverage; the 49ers’ Michael Crabtree should be busy working on the Patriots’ secondary; with Sidney Rice (foot) banged up for Seattle, there’s a good chance Golden Tate catches a long TD vs. Buffalo.
Vernon Davis, 49ers. He’s been very quiet since Kaepernick’s first game as the starter, but San Francisco would be silly not to target him more often against the Patriots. He can cause them all kinds of coverage problems, both downfield and in the red zone. Roll with Davis one more time, and you will be rewarded.
Two more: Dennis Pitta should stay involved for a new-look Ravens offense against the tight-end friendly Broncos; the Chiefs like using Tony Moeaki, who should be busy in Oakland without Dwayne Bowe in the lineup.
St. Louis Rams. You might have noticed that the Rams are now second in the NFL in sacks, and have posted double-digit fantasy points in their past three games, all victories. They face Adrian Peterson and the Vikings at home this week, but that also means they draw Christian Ponder. Expect a day of big plays in the Edward Jones Dome.
Three more: The Lions are worth rolling out against rookie QB Ryan Lindley and Arizona’s atrocious offense; the Dolphins are another good sleeper as they’ll be pumped to thwart Jacksonville’s Chad Henne, a former Miami quarterback; the Texans will bounce back at home against the Colts with some sacks and takeaways.
Andrew Luck, Colts. There are some who consider him to be an every-week play, but the only rookie with that distinction when healthy is Robert Griffin III. Luck was disappointing to his owners in a great matchup vs. Tennessee last week, and although Houston’s defense looks vulnerable, it’s hard to trust Indy on the road in a game in which the Texans will want to make a statement.
Three more: It’s a bit of a trap game for the Giants’ Eli Manning in Atlanta, where brother Peyton and Brees have both been dashed; the Bills’ Ryan Fitzpatrick should be parked in Canada against the sizzling Seattle D; it’s hard to even consider Jay Cutler vs. the Packers with Chicago’s massive offensive woes.
Michael Turner/Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons. Turner tends to bail out his fantasy owners with a short touchdown even when the yardage isn’t there. Rodgers looks the part, but can’t wrestle enough touches away. That’s not a good proposition against the Giants, who have limited the run all year.
Three more: The Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray won’t get much running room against Pittsburgh; even with a big workload, the Colts’ Vick Ballard runs into a stingy Texans run defense; the Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams will be very dependent on receiving numbers against the Chargers’ front.
Stevie Johnson, Bills. Johnson will draw the nasty physical coverage of Richard Sherman often this week. Sherman doesn’t back down against anyone, especially someone who can show off a little like Johnson. He really has gone from a WR1 to a fringe WR3 on the best weeks.
Three more: Kenny Britt will be targeted often by the Titans’ Jake Locker, but the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie has the body type to put him on lockdown; New England’s Brandon Lloyd had a pair of touchdowns against the Texans, but the ‘Niners can slow him down with Carlos Rogers; the Ravens’ Torrey Smith will be contained by Denver’s Champ Bailey.
Jacob Tamme, Broncos. You might be looking for a score from him in deep leagues, but Denver will probably attack Baltimore elsewhere. The Ravens have given up only two TE touchdowns all season.
Three more: If you have options, you can sit the Cowboys’ Jason Witten, as he has only one TD and the Steelers are the stingiest to fantasy tight ends; the Jaguars’ Marcedes Lewis will stay quiet against a Dolphins defense that’s much improved against the position; the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph will get strong coverage from James Laurinaitis and other Rams.
New York Giants. New York’s big worth last week came in the kickoff return splash by David Wilson. Otherwise, the Giants gave up plenty of points to the Saints. That won’t change much against the Falcons on the road.